Those of us who sneak under the radar of social taboo get away with never having to face how much of our lives we are wasting away at the bottom of an ice cream tub or in the grips of a video game console. And that, in the end, might be our greatest loss – for we can escape the pain that got us there, and thus miss out on the lessons that pain has to teach us.
Every time I try to get to bed at 9pm, the time I know will get me the best quality of rest, the best hormone production, and the happiest mood, I get nagged by the feeling that I’ll be missing out. Everyone is up to something fun and exciting, and I’m going to bed? It’s like trying to put a little kid to bed while a huge party is going on in the living room. Good luck!
I’ll admit it. I bite my nails. Sometimes more and sometimes less. I’d chew them to pieces during college exams and still do when I have, say, a blog post due on a tight schedule. And it bothers me. I have all sorts of judgments of myself when I do it, or when I see others’ broken nails and bleeding cuticles. I really should stop, don’t you think?
I come from a family of very strong women. They’ve always inspired me to grow and to push myself to ever greater heights of self-actualization.
My mother in particular is a pillar of strength of character. She sets audacious goals for herself and blows everyone away with how she is able to not only achieve those goals, but keep reaching to greater ones. If there is one mantra that she dished out when I was growing up, and to be honest, still to this day, it’s this:
“Anything you put your mind to you can do.”
The problem for me, though was that, for much of my life, it felt like my thoughts were ruling my mind, not me. I for one, was never able to turn a switch and get my mind to stop thinking. It’s like if I tell you not to imagine a blue horse, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll have a blue furry friend braying his way across your mind’s eye. It always seemed that an innumerable number of thoughts were racing through my head. Many of them, to be honest, made me quite miserable. My favorites are “I’m a failure” and “I’m unlovable.” I’ve noticed I’m not alone there. Those thoughts are among humanity’s top 10 all time hits.
So I’d either succumb to the misery my thoughts created or go into fight or flight trying to run away from them. I was either in prison or an escaped convict. And neither of those positions puts you in the driver’s seat of your life, in a state of calm, mindful control over yourself and your actions. So, the question is, how do you gain control over what you put your mind to?
I grew up fully buying into the idea that if I worked really hard, shot to the top of my field, and amassed wealth and fame, I’d not only “have it all” but I’d be ultimately happy and healthy. And then I had my first major job after college working in a fancy corporate gig with all the trimmings. We all worked long hours, even those in upper management.
I did not finish my to do list today
Or any day
For that matter
Cause what does it matter
If I even try
To check the whole thing off?
It’ll just be like the kitchen sink
No sooner washed then refilled
With yet another dish.
The list and all his cronies
Keep hammering into my brain
Driving me insane
Making my efforts feel inane
It’s like I just blew another day away,
Like a fallen leaf on a sidewalk.
Fifteen years ago, two Colombian engineering students at Dartmouth College set out to prove, through systems optimization, that cocaine should be legalized. I was one of them. Why? Because in our course we were learning about designing systems to achieve goals.
We asked ourselves the basic question: What is the goal of society in reference to drugs? In other words, why are drugs illegal?