How to Live Your (Digital) Life According to Your Values

As our physical lives become more increasingly connected to our digital lives, it can be easy to get lost in the chaos and lose sight of who we are. The best way maintain our sense of selves is to identify what your values are and how to apply that to how we use the internet. More importantly, however we should use those values to help emphasize what to focus on and what not to focus.

There has never been more information in the world than there is today. In fact, there is so much of it that it’s straining our cognitive capacity and it’s hurting our ability to focus. The over-abundance of information is causing us to fall victim to the shortcomings of our brains such as confirmation bias and negativity bias. It’s creating just as many problems as it’s solving. Many of us who dwell in the screens of our smartphones on a constant basis are realizing the negative side effects of being on social media for so long.

If you want to take back your attention and go back to enjoying the digital life again, then one of the things you need to do is to take a step back and ask yourself what your values are and if your applying your values online and in social media.

Values

What are values anyway? To put things simple, they are the things that guide your life. They are the things that determine who your friends are, what you major in college, what job you take, what habits you build, and millions of decisions, large and small, that should be the guiding principle of your life.

When you make decisions according to those values, you feel contentment, satisfaction, happiness. When you make decisions against those values, you feel wronged, empty, incomplete, unhappy. When it comes to making decisions in life, you need to make a conscious effort on what your values and and whether you’re living them or not. If you don’t, the feeling of existential dread will come in, you’ll be swept into groups and individuals that will manipulate you into their bidding, and you’ll end up making bad decisions that will mess you up in the long-term.

So how do we determine your values? First, you need to be aware of the actions your taking. Whether it’s reading a book, buying something, or using your phone (a topic that will be discussed later in greater detail), everything you do is defines what kind of person you are and how you inhabit those values. For example, if I decided to dedicate my time and attention towards painting, that means I value creativity. If I choose to hold off on ordering takeout for tonight in order to save money, that means I value frugality.

When it comes to values, we need to determine what good values are and what bad values are. According to acclaimed blogger Mark Manson, good values should be evidence-based, constructive, and controllable, while bad values are emotion-based, destructive and uncontrollable. A good value is evidence-based if the value can be studied and tested in a test. A great example would be the Big 5 personality traits or the OCEAN model. OCEAN stands for openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism (or in some cases emotional stability). All of the values here are measurable and the traits are built upon decades of research and they are highly trusted amongst researchers. In contrast, emotion-based values are at best not very reliable and at worst completely destructive. Speaking of which, constructive values should do good to yourself and others and they should not cause harm to you and others. And finally, your values should be something you can control because if you choose a value you can’t control, then that value will control you. A good example is social approval. While you may have some control over social approval, you do not have complete control over it. People will have wildly different opinions, there will be a ton of competition when it comes to conquering attention depending on the industry, and trends change. Chasing for social approval can lead to decreased self worth and a loss of identity if that’s the only value you go for. However, if you decide to chase community, compassion, and unity, then not only are you choosing values that you can control, you’ll gain social approval as a side effect of following those values.

If you still find it difficult to determine what your values, then use the list of common personal values to get you started. Be selective with your values and reflect if you actually live by those values. Choose about 5-10 values:

Accountability
Accuracy
Achievement
Adventurousness
Altruism
Ambition
Assertiveness
Balance
Being the best
Belonging
Boldness
Calmness
Carefulness
Challenge
Cheerfulness
Clear-mindedness
Commitment
Community
Compassion
Competitiveness
Consistency
Contentment
Continuous Improvement
Contribution
Control
Cooperation
Correctness
Courtesy
Creativity
Curiosity
Decisiveness
Democraticness
Dependability
Determination
Devoutness
Diligence
Discipline
Discretion
Diversity
Dynamism
Economy
Effectiveness
Efficiency
Elegance
Empathy
Enjoyment
Enthusiasm
Equality
Excellence
Excitement
Expertise
Exploration
Expressiveness
Fairness
Faith
Family-orientedness
Fidelity
Fitness
Fluency
Focus
Freedom
Fun
Generosity
Goodness
Grace
Growth
Happiness
Hard Work
Health
Helping Society
Holiness
Honesty
Honor
Humility
Independence
Ingenuity
Inner Harmony
Inquisitiveness
Insightfulness
Intelligence
Intellectual Status
Intuition
Joy
Justice
Leadership
Legacy
Love
Loyalty
Making a difference
Mastery
Merit
Obedience
Openness
Order
Originality
Patriotism
Perfection
Piety
Positivity
Practicality
Preparedness
Professionalism
Prudence
Quality-orientation
Reliability
Resourcefulness
Restraint
Results-oriented
Rigor
Security
Self-actualization
Self-control
Selflessness
Self-reliance
Sensitivity
Serenity
Service
Shrewdness
Simplicity
Soundness
Speed
Spontaneity
Stability
Strategic
Strength
Structure
Success
Support
Teamwork
Temperance
Thankfulness
Thoroughness
Thoughtfulness
Timeliness
Tolerance
Traditionalism
Trustworthiness
Truth-seeking
Understanding
Uniqueness
Unity
Usefulness
Vision
Vitality
Note: this is by no means exhaustive list. If you need more help go to https://www.valuescentre.com/

After choosing, write down your top values in no particular order and make sure you reaffirm these are the values you live for. When you’re done, it’s time to apply these values to your digital life and remove the rest that does not serve you.

Tip #1: Ask Yourself, “Who are my Real Friends?”

When you first signed up to these social media services, the main reason you signed up for them is no doubt because you wanted to connect to friends and family. While that sounds all well and good, be and honest ask yourself, “Do I actually have meaningful and purposeful interaction with these people?” If you actually look up your friends list, chances are you’ll find people you used to hang out with during high school or college because of the environment you grew up with. You’ll see aunts, uncles and cousins that you only see on special occasions but otherwise don’t really hang out with. If you have those people on your friends list and you don’t interact with them on a consistent, meaningful basis, then maybe it’s time to cull them from the list.

Another approach is to look at the people you follow and ask yourself if those people are adding value to my life and if these are helping me grow as a person. Do these help me overcome my anxieties and worries or are they making my problems worse? If the answer to both of those questions are not yes, then it’s time unfollow them. It seems harsh, it’s your digital health we’re talking about and you need to start living up to those values, so be ruthless.

Tip #2: Go Longform

In the age of the always-connected, 24/7 media world, it can be hard to keep track of what’s going on. If you’ve been on social media long enough, you’ve no doubt had information overload at some point. Too often, when people write news articles and post them on social media, the intention is less to do with accuracy, clarity, and being informative, and more to do with pushing people’s buttons on a particular issue that’s framed as important but actually affects very little people. These help fuel harmful cycles of emotional addiction and are harmful to both our mental health and online discourse.

If you want to stay informed without feeling overwhelmed is simple. The best way to do this is to unfollow, unsubscribe, and limit the amount of information you get from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, etc. Go completely merciless and unfollow all outlets that post articles that feels like it was written in just 5-minutes.

After you’re done, switch to longform content. That includes podcasts, books, and longform reads that at least have 1,500 words and take a good portion of your time to read. There’s many reasons why this works regardless of what your values are. One is because it forces you to engage with the content your reading. Reading/listening to this type of content requires your brain to focus and think critically and deeply with the subject matter. Secondly, it forces you to slow down and consolidate what is being said. Reading a tweet can enter your head in one ear and go out the other. Reading a book challenges your brain and requires cognitive fitness. And finally, it helps with revaluating with what your values are. For example, if I value faith, you have to ask yourself, “what is faith?” By engaging in in-depth articles on devout monks, listening to extensive interviews on people who’ve followed their religious doctrine, and reading books on how different schools of thought interpret the meaning of the holy text, you’ll have a better idea of what it means to have faith.

Tip #3: High Quality Leisure

Another reason why most of us spend time online is because of entertainment. We’re all familiar with the emojis, the likes, the comments, and the ubiquitous cat memes.

Pwease don’t weeve me

This doesn’t seem like a problem at first. But when you go through Youtube rabbit holes, scroll through random subreddits, and look up bizarre GIFs and memes on Imgur, only to realize you’ve wasted precious hours of time when you could be doing something more productive, then that becomes a problem.

Much like you should take the slow and longform approach of consuming journalism, you should do the same when it comes to sports and entertainment. Don’t just watch highlights of the best basketball plays, read a biography or watch a documentary of your favorite player. Don’t just play a freemium farm game on your phone or a mobile gacha RPG, play the full length, in-depth game that requires time and strategy to beat. Watched a 5-minute video on a philosopher and you want to know more about the ideas and theories behind that system of belief? Read the philosophical text yourself and listen to a podcast about the philosopher’s rationale and how it relates to modern living.

If you want to eliminate distractions and bad habits, you need to replace them with habits that not only occupy your time and attention, but also enhance your well-being and the well-being of others. Find hobbies and activities that bring joy to you and to others. For example, if you have a green thumb and want to do something environmentally-friendly, then cultivate a garden. Do research into different plants and crops, find what is the best season to grow them and the best soil to use. Gardening takes time and effort to do, but the results are fantastic when it comes to yourself, your neighbors, your community, and the earth as a whole.

And that’s another thing. If you have a hobby you enjoy such as crafting, writing, or painting then find a community that you know will support your high-quality leisure activities. There are many vibrant online communities that can help support and improve your endeavors. Find the community that is right for you and ensure they will hold you accountable for your hobby.

Tip #4: Time and Place

You know what to do, now is the time to plan out when you’ll implement these activities. When scheduling, you need to block out avoidable distractions (i.e. your phone) when your out at work, in school, or whatever activity. Since this will vary depending out what type of work you do, I’ll give out how I schedule my work to show you an example of what should be done.

  • I wake up, shower, eat breakfast and check my phone for updates on my email and social media for about 30 minutes before I start working.
  • By the time I get to work, I time block myself at my work for the entire shift until lunch. That means I do not look at my phone and I turn off most notifications and text messages.
  • After lunch, I have an hourlong break. I spend that hour either interacting with staff, clients, or reading of some kind.
  • I continue doing uninterrupted work until 3 pm, where I go home.
  • I check my emails three times: one in the early morning, one in the afternoon, and one at night. Admittedly, this is a work in progress.
  • Finally, I spend the rest of the late afternoon/evening doing some kind of downtime activity. Depending on the night, it can reading, writing, gaming, streaming, drawing or any combination of those activities.

Your work life should looking something similar to this. It should have some level of planning and scheduling involved, as well as some open space in case something goes wrong. Feel free to experiment to see what works for you.

Final Tip: You Are What You Consume

Every decision you make online is a reflection of your character and your attitudes towards life. Every app you have on your phone and how much you spend time on it is reflection of what you value the most. Every time you follow a person on Twitter, every time you post a picture on Instagram, every time you make a comment Facebook, and every time you like and favorite a video on Youtube, it’s an accumulation of how you spend your life online. Heck, every time you use your phone, it’s a reflection of your personality.

Every action you make online reveals a deeper psychological drive within yourself. Whenever you follow your favorite streamer on Twitch, it reflects a deeper need to connect and follow a person you admire, despite never meeting them in-person. If you complain a lot on social media, then you are inadvertently training your brain to focus only on the negative and complain a lot. If you habitually look your phone up again and again just to see the latest updates with your friends and events, then it reflects deeper issues with anxiety.

Whenever you’re online, you must always be mindful of whatever activities you choose to do and what type of content you consume. You are what you think and you are what you consume. Your values should decide not only what you consume online, but also decide how you spend your digital life. Sometimes, less is more.

Building a strong mindset

Having a strong mindset is key when it comes to getting a job, managing stress, developing relationships, and overall success and happiness. A mindset is a set of attitudes that influence how we think about our talents and abilities. A mindset can dramatically shape how we view ourselves and how we view our lives. A strong mindset is needed when it comes tackling life’s biggest challenges, especially the ones now, and it can help develop resilience and strength in ourselves. Before discussing how to build a strong mindset, we need to talk about the differences between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset.

Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset

Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist, spent a multitude of her research on the idea of a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset is where we assume that our character, intelligence, talents, and abilities are static. They do not change overtime. They do not grow overtime. What we are born with is what we got. In contrast, a growth mindset is where we assume that our character, intelligence, and talents grow are dynamic. They grow and change overtime and with enough teaching, practice and effort, you can succeed in anything.

Dweck spent two decades researching the topic and it was tested on both children and adults. The findings can be summed up:

  • A fixed mindset believes intelligence is static, leads to a desire to look smart, and therefore a tendency to avoid challenges, give up easily, see effort as without benefit, ignore constructive negative feedback, and feel threatened by the success of others. As a result. they achieve less than their full potential.
  • A growth mindset believes intelligence can be developed, leads to a desire to learn and therefore a tendency to embrace challenges, stand back up despite setbacks, see effort as the path to mastery, learn from criticism, and find things to learn from others who have succeeded. As a result they reach a seemingly ever-higher levels of achievement.

How you view yourself is very important not just with you succeed in life, but how you deal with challenges, how you deal with failure, how you view yourself among others, how much effort you put in what you’re working on, and how much you utilize your potential. A strong mindset doesn’t mean mindless positivity or ignoring your problems, it means tackling issues head-on and having a series of attitudes that can help face the challenges of life.

So how do you develop a strong mindset? How do you develop a series of attitudes meant to encourage growth and how do you let go of a weak mindset that hinders our progress and leave you living a less than satisfying life? There are many steps that can help foster a strong mindset.

Thinking Empty Thought Clip Art at Clker.com - vector clip ...

The very first step is to acknowledge the thoughts inside your mind. Try this exercise. Close your eyes and observe the thoughts inside your mind for thirty seconds.

Ready…

Set…

Go…

Did you notice the voice inside your head? Did you also notice that most of the thoughts you had were negative? If that sounds like you, you’re not alone. It has been found that about 75% of the thoughts that the adult human brain has are negative. Our brains was never designed to make you happy. Our brains were designed to protect us and keep us safe. Our brains can do amazing things such as make us feel the senses, perform motor tasks, manage attention, and so much more. In fact, researchers have noted the remarkable plasticity the brain has in the last few decades. However, the brain should not be able to dictate to control everything, especially not your thoughts.

The one thing you have to remember is that you, yes, YOU, are the boss, not your brain. Go against Descartes’s famous statement and remember, I am, therefore my brain thinks.

In order to have a strong mindset, you must first realize that you have full control of your thoughts. If you want to control your thoughts, you first need to observe the thoughts in your head. Don’t resist them-just observe them and let them go. You don’t have to give your thoughts any power unless you give them power. Keep doing this and as soon as master you master, your brain will run out of topics to bring up. Once that happens, your mind will be at ease and you can spend your time and management on more productive things.

Finding something you enjoy doing

One of the misconceptions we have in the modern world is that we need to focus on work only and that work has to be arduous and grey and we need to put all the activities and hobbies we used to enjoy doing away when we become adults.

That can’t be further from the truth. We need to find work that gives us meaning and happiness. In fact, happy workers are 12% more productive at work. Don’t just find work. Find work based on your interests and your skills. The best way to do that is to get into a hobby.

Find hobbies you can get into, preferably hobbies that can help you gain new skills and test your mind. Whether it’s physical activities like weight lifting or yoga, or mental activities like crossword puzzles, chess or reading books. Even stuck at home, you can find plenty of hobbies where you can develop important skills and develop that strong mindset. Physical activities aren’t just important for your body, they’re important for your brain, especially when it comes to fighting off depression and anxiety. Mental activities, meanwhile, keep your mind in the now, they help moderate against developing future emotional problems and instability and they can eliminate unnecessary stress and strain in the brain. It’s incredibly important to train your brain and body and to develop good habits.

Manage your Attention and Focus

When you do activities you love, it’s important to have undivided attention and focus. That sounds easy at first, but in an increasingly distracted, noisy world, it can be difficult to finish your workout if you constantly have to hear your notifications go off.

About Us – Made Together

The good news is that we don’t have to be constantly distracted. There are changes we can make to build a resilient lifestyle without having to be distracted by a phone.

The first is to ask your tech is serving you and not the other way around. Do the threads and people I follow give me value and make me a better person? Or are they harming me and making me feel worse? If the answer is not the former, then it’s time to unfollow.

Get rid of news sites and apps dedicated to small form, flashy, emotionally-driven content designed to generate clicks instead of inform you. Seek out longform, challenging reads that question your views and inspire you to be curious. After cleaning house, remove apps that are redundant because you’ve done the steps above.

After this, schedule your time. Ensure you make the good habits and activities above easier to access by scheduling time for them and within reach. For example, whenever I wake up and grab a cup of coffee, I make sure I have a book right in front of me so I can have something to read in the morning. Conversely, whenever I go to sleep, I make sure I do not have a phone near my bed. I, instead, put the phone in the kitchen and leave it there to ensure that I have a good night’s sleep.

These are all very simple, easy to utilize techniques that can make big results if you stick with it. For more reading, I recommend following Cal Newport and Nir Eyal. Both of them take managing your attention seriously and have a lot of knowledge on the subject. I also recommend Mark Manson’s the Attention Diet as well.

Embrace Challenges and Setbacks

We all go through setbacks and challenges. Sometimes they’re external events, other times they’re challenges me impose ourselves. When that happens, we need to embrace the idea that we’ll all go through hardship in our lives. It’s not about living life without life without problems, but living life with meaningful problems to solve.

Super Mario Galaxy 64- Fire level and Final boss struggle ...

Think of it like a video game. Most video games (with exceptions of open-ended video games such as Sims or Animal Crossing) focus on having a goal you need to reach. Sometimes it’s as simple as getting to the end of the level to defeating a certain number of enemies before heading to the next stage. When you’re going through the level of a video game, chances are you’ll have no idea how to solve that level unless you try different ways in order pass through. In some cases, usually at the beginning of a video game, the path forward will be easy to figure out and easy to solve. The more you progress through a video game, however, the problems become more complex and you’ll have to find new, alternative ways to solve them. While it might be challenging at first, once you execute the action and find the way, not only will you have beaten the level and move on to the next stage, you’ll find happiness knowing you’ve not only moved on to the next part of the game, but you found a way to do it.

That’s not only how you should look through life, but how you should approach it. When you go through adversity, don’t try to control it. It is what it is, this is the hand we’re dealt with. What matters the most is how we view our situation, our belief in it, and how we respond to it, our actions. As noted above, you need to take control of the thoughts of our situation. Is there anything I can do it? Is it as bad as I think it is? How can I dispute it? And most importantly, how can I use this situation propel myself upward?

The most successful people out there all dealt with rejection, failure, and disappointment in life. Thomas Edison famously said he failed his way to succeed when many of his inventions were either failures or misfires, Stan Lee’s idea for Spider-Man (initially inspired by a fly) was rejected by his editor and called it “the worst idea ever,” Amelia Earhart went through serious health and financial problems before her famous Transatlantic flight. The examples are endless.

The point is, understand what you can and can’t control. Once you do, focus on the things you can control, create an action plan and propel yourself towards success. No matter what goal you set yourself, whether it’s as simple as getting good grades or losing weight or something more personally important and life-altering, embrace whatever life throws at you and ride the wind.

Build a Social Support Network

The bedrock for all of these steps is that you need to have a group of people that will help you and give you meaning and value. By that, I don’t mean just following your friends on Facebook, Twitter or any other socials. I mean spend effort to have meaningful interactions.

Even while you social distance, you still need to connect, interact, and build support with friends, family and your community. This is an important step as its key to building happiness, climbing higher in the job ladder and it builds a stronger community.

The first thing you need to do is to get out there and find people that share interests similar towards yours. It can be difficult at first. pandemic notwithstanding, but you need to make a conscious effort to make new friends or else, you won’t get any. If you need a boost, this is where self-talk comes in handy. Tell yourself “I am good at making friends,” “I can make meaningful relationships,” “I know others will like me,” or any variation of the above.

Once that happens, show up and initiate the conversation. Don’t be afraid that you might embarrass yourself and face rejection. Say hi, introduce yourself, ask for contact information, follow up on it, and schedule a hang out. Rinse and repeat.

Following the cycle can be daunting if you’re shy or out of practice, but like all good habits, it’s something you actively have to do in order to achieve long-term friendships. It’s like a performance, you have to practice if you want to get better at it. These all sound like simple things, but they can make huge strides when it comes to building the strong social support needed for strong minds. In fact all habits are small, but they can all make a huge difference in your life and the people around you.

Conclusion

As you can tell, all of these steps build on each other when it comes to building a better mind. We need a strong social support if we want be held accountable for our habits. We need a clear mind if we want to turn the tide to our favor. We need to find something we enjoy doing in order to find others that likewise do the same. All of these steps are interconnected and while they may be small actions to take, they can all make the difference in your life, especially when you do them all together. It may not be easy at first, but once you put them into practice, it can make a tremendous change to your mindset and how you approach whatever challenge you face in life. Go ahead and give them a go!

The Power of No

No. A simple two-letter word we’re all familiar with. To some people, the word is so easy for us to say that that it’s become second-nature to them. To others, saying no is so difficult that just the thought of saying no directly at someone’s face is anxiety inducing.

Why do we hesitate to say no sometimes? Sometimes it’s because we don’t want to disappoint our friends. Sometimes we don’t want to reject others because we don’t want to be rejected ourselves. Sometimes it’s out of FOMO. Sometimes it’s out of the a spur of the moment decision where purchasing something made sense at the time.

Whatever the reason, some of us have a hard time saying no. And while it’s perfectly okay, sometimes even necessary, to say yes to something, in other situations it’s better to say no. Whether it’s trying out something that could be harmful to our health like dangerous drugs, purchasing something that has no benefit to our lives, or going to events and parties that leave us empty and bored, there are times where saying no is the best thing for us to do.

How can one say no and how do you it the”right way?” There are many ways to say no and they can be used for a variety of situations, to the point where saying no can be an art form. Here are just a few ways to say no:

  • Say no and mean it. When you say no, you can’t say it timidly and weakly. For example, if you’re in a situation where you can’t go to a party and you say no unconvincingly, your friends will give out counterarguments and it will further weaken your ability to refuse. When you say no, be brief and with intention.
  • Give them a reason. When saying no, it’s always good to have a reason why you’re saying no. It can be because you have an important project you have to attend to, it can be because you have priorities that are more worthy of your attention, it can be because you just don’t want to. Always give out a reason why when you say no.
  • An offer I can refuse. It’s best to weigh in the costs and benefits before saying no. Be sure you’re getting something out of the offer. Be wary of the sunk cost fallacy and remember if the decision is keeping in line with your values. If they don’t, then your answer should be no.
  • Maybe another time. Saying no doesn’t have to mean it has to be indefinite. Saying no can mean not right now. You can choose to reschedule your time with another person to another, more convenient date. Be careful with this approach, though. Others will expect you to take part of the rescheduled event and continually putting it off can come off as less nice than flatly saying no.
  • Anticipate and be preemptive. If you know someone is going to give you requests beforehand, such as a meeting or a group-up, let them know that you are busy and that you can’t take anymore requests before you give them the chance. That way they will be less disappointed and less likely to ask in the first place.

And these are a handful of ways you can say no. It won’t be easy at first if you’re used to saying yes all the time. Saying no takes practice and you have to be prepared when the situation comes. Remember that saying no is ultimately for your sake, not anyone else’s sake.

Pain vs. Suffering

pain:

1.physical suffering or distress, as due to injury, illness, etc.

2.a distressing sensation in a particular part of the body

3.mental or emotional suffering or torment

suffering:

1.to undergo, be subjected to, or endure (pain, distress, injury, loss, or anything unpleasant)

2.to undergo or experience (any action, process, or condition)

(source: dictionary.com)

Whenever you have a casual conversation with someone, you ‘ll hear the words “pain” and “suffering” thrown out there as interchangeable terms meant to be synonymous with each other. What most people don’t know, however, is that those terms DO NOT mean the same thing.

When you feel pain, what you’re really feeling is your body responding to an external stimulus and it gives you a physical sensation or signal towards the event or situation. They can range from accidentally burning your hand in a stove, stepping on a Lego brick, migraines you feel on your forehead, or a whole variety of other situations. We all have to deal with pain in our lives. Living is, in and of itself, a painful experience, and we all have to face it.

However, what if I tell you that suffering doesn’t have to be a part of your life?

When you suffer, it’s not your body telling you that you’re suffering, it’s your mind telling you that. This is where your mind goes haywire and overwhelms you with bad thoughts and negative self-talk. Why did I fail that test? Why did I not get that job? Why did go through a break-up? When going through a negative life experience, we’re not angry or sad because we went through a negative life event, it’s because our expectations of that event didn’t go through as planned in our heads.

The constant feedback loop of events not going our way and the negative thoughts circling our minds can create a vicious cycle of suffering that can be detrimental to both how we succeed in our lives and how we view our happiness. Fortunately, there are ways to stop this cycle from causing so much turmoil in our lives and it starts with knowing the difference between pain and suffering.

When we feel pain, it is our body telling us it’s not safe and trying to protect us. If we put our hand in a stove, our body tells us to stay away from the fire in order to prevent our hand from burning. If we stay up too late, our head hurts and our body starts to feel sore from sleep deprivation. Pain isn’t just a fact of life, it’s sometimes necessary to keep us safe from danger.

When we suffer, it is our minds telling us that we’re suffering, not our bodies. Unlike pain, suffering has no practical uses. It is our thoughts judging, denying, bargaining, complaining, projecting, and, ultimately, worsening our pain rather than accepting it. While we often think pain and suffering go hand-in-hand, it doesn’t have to be. We can experience pain without going through suffering. Conversely, we can go through suffering without pain. Suffering without pain leads to depression, anxiety, paralysis, hopelessness, and several other negative health effects.

How does one prevent the vicious cycle of pain and suffering?

The first thing you should do is to accept that pain can and will happen in our lives. And there is nothing wrong with that. After all, growth can only happen if we experience some great pain in our lives. Pain can be necessary and crucial when it comes to a variety of things such as immunity to certain conditions such as allergies, teaching our bodies to figure out what is safe for us, and it can help us build resilience.

The second is to realize that you are in control of your own thoughts. One of the things we have to develop when going through pain is changing the way we think about what we’re going through. Instead of telling your brain unhelpful thoughts such as “I’ll never be loved” or “My life has been one big disappointment,” train your brain to pick up the positive. What can I do to improve myself? How can I use this as an opportunity to grow? What are the bright sides of this situation? When you prime your brain to search for the good among the bad or ways you can improve the situation, not only are you changing your attitude towards the situation, your attitude will in turn influence your behavior, which will influence your actions, putting you in a much better position in dealing with whatever issue you’re facing.

Finally, and most importantly, you are not your thoughts. The ultimate main idea is that we are own bosses when it comes to thinking. We can take charge in terms of how we think, we can quiet our minds and not let the cracks of the past and the uncertainties of the future dictate how we should live our lives in the now. We can replace unhelpful negative self-talk with useful positive self-talk. And we can train ourselves to accept pain in our body and use that as a way to go through any obstacle in our lives.

Let me give you a personal example. One day I went to the dentist. I actually don’t like going to the dentist because whenever I go, they always have to clean my teeth and that inevitably means I have to go through pain in my enamel, my gums and, of course, teeth. When they did clean my teeth, I felt the metallic sensation of the tools used to clean out the plaque between my incisors, the forceful rubbing of the floss further down in the rows of my teeth, and the strange taste of the gum used to purify the many germs that inhabit my mouth. While all of that happened, I tested my resolve and chose not to suffer from what the dentists were doing to me. I accepted what was going on, I held my fists and faced the cleaning head on. I chose not to suffer and never once did I suffer.

When it was all over, I couldn’t believe how much, or how little, time the cleaning felt. The dentist said that my teeth was in good health, no cavities or bleeding of gums, I just needed to clean my plaque out better. At the end, it was just a routine cleaning session for my teeth. I learned I needed to clean my teeth better and I came off better for it. That doesn’t mean I avoided the pain or felt no pain afterwards, but I felt better for it. I felt no stress and my mind was at ease.

Although it’s not a quick and easy fix, when we adjust our thinking and how we think about our thinking, we can learn to live with pain without going through suffering. When we learn to master our thinking, we can go through life knowing that no matter what kind of pain we go through life, we can lessen our suffering and learn to enjoy what we have in life instead of focusing on constant pain all the time.

What I Learned Practicing Trivia

I always enjoyed game shows. Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, you name it. I always liked playing along ever since my youth. Game shows have been a long staple of television ever since television’s inception. The most appealing part of a game show to me was comparing your knowledge of the world to the contestants. Truth be told, my knowledge of the world has always been scant, even today.

One day, I saw an online advertisement for casting for the show, The Chase. I’ve always heard of the Chase, always been intrigued by it. I mostly heard of the show through the now legendary James Holzauer owning a lot of the trivia questions through the Final Chase. I decided to sign up and wait a week until I had my casting audition for the show.

I spent the entire week practicing trivia, watching old episodes of the Chase (mostly the British version and one episode of the US version, prefer the British version) and doing my research on how to get good at trivia. Upon my week long practice, there were a lot of things I learned.

1.If you think you know a lot about something, you don’t. While there were no doubt questions that were incredibly easy and things people should know about (name of the ship used to sail to Plymouth, author of novels, etc.) there were a lot of questions that genuinely stumped me. Questions I thought I did know about but forgot the right answer. And you know what, that’s perfectly fine.

2. You don’t have to know everything. There’s a lot of information out there that you’re not expected know, because, quite honestly, most of that information won’t help you in the long-term. While there are questions that you can answer correctly if you’re in the right occupation (what element is used in air bags, what does it mean to “shorten” something while cooking) there are questions that will stump you simply because that information won’t be all that relevant at the end of the day. Don’t beat yourself and call yourself an idiot because you got the answer, think of it as a way to learn something new.

3. You learn what subjects you know the best at and what subjects you’re bad at. I’m ready to go on ahead and admit it, I’m terrible when it comes to geography. I’m specifically bad when it comes where rivers flow from and what countries are from which ocean. Sports I’m not particularly great at either since I’ve never been a sports guy. While I admit to being weak at those two things, I do know my pop culture because I’ve always considered myself kinda nerdy and I do have knowledge on video games, shows, movies, and the like and the production history of them. I also enjoy science and history questions and I love to know more about the two of them.

4. Trust your intuition. Even if you don’t the answer to a question at the top of your head, it’s better to have a 1/3 chance of getting an answer right than to have no answer at all. If you had to take a guess, it’s best to commit to that guess and go with it if you have no other option. There were questions I got right despite not knowing the answer just by guessing. If you encounter a question you have no idea what the answer is, go with your gut and take a guess.

5. Embrace your curiosity. Use trivia as a way to expand your knowledge on a number of subjects. You’ll be surprised by some of the weird, unusual factoids that exist. Expand your mind and look into things that you normally wouldn’t get into. Who knows? Maybe that knowledge will get you somewhere beyond a game show.

Welcome!

If you’ve stumbled across this page, that means you are reading my very first blog post. I haven’t completely figured out yet what kind of blog I want this to be, but I can tell you that this’ll be about what I’ve learned from experience, sharing life experiences, lessons I learned from my previous six years in college, and an honest look at myself.

As of right now, I am in my longtime bedroom typing this blog out, in the middle of reading this book called the Happiness Advantage, and studying up on trivia for a game show. At the time of this writing, I volunteer as a virtual companion for a person with Alzheimer’s. I have a lot of things I want to write about but I feel that would be too big for just this one blog.

I’ll finish up and say thanks for reading this blog post. Expect more soon!

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