Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Reality of Life

Reality. Here I stand at 29. Through my meanderings, I have been blessed with the opportunity to experience things both left, right and center. Just over ten years ago I stood on a podium (in highschool) advocating the segregation of boys and girls a (My friends dont believe me when I tell them that). I've also had my share of fun. Drink and erm...botanicals.. meeting many an interesting person along the way. I've had some rough times. I've had some good times. Met a nice female too. I feel that I am finally settling on the middle ground. Exposure to left and right has given me valuable insight and culled many of the prejudices I once had. There is truth in this world. Here is my story. This is a culmination of numerous essays and works over the past ten years. It is what I have learned after making many, many, bad decisions. This is not advice. You are welcome to interpret it however you wish. It is at best, my subjective opinion regarding life based on my experiences.

The Game of Life
It is very simple. Rather than ramble on about what it means to succeed (it means different things to different people anyway), i will ask you five simple questions:
  1. If you were to break a leg and needed a lift to hospital, how many people (excluding family) on your phonebook can you call without hesitation? The people you know will come to your aid and expect nothing in return.
  2. Can you afford one overseas holiday a year?
  3. How many times did you hang out with friends socially in the past month? Not acquaintances. Friends are people whom you know will attend your wedding even if it were 2 hours drive out of town on a week's notice. You may have many acquaintances, but few friends. You know your friends personally, as they know you too.
  4. Are you at an extreme of body habitus? Is your BMI under 20 or above 30? 
  5. Do you eat three meals a day, sleep 7 hours a night, and exercise at least once a week? 
Some things cannot be changed (eg. your height), but you'll be surprised at how much influence you can have over the three things above.

(1) refers to the people within your close social circle. (2) Is one of the definitions of "middle class"  (3) is a measure of connectedness, the antithesis of social isolation. (4) I have been underweight before from an eating disorder. It messes with your life in more ways than you can imagine. (5) Basic health.

Trust your instincts and never be blinded by the temptation. I speak not of sex/porn, or booze, or drugs. There is a far more insidious, dark, force that lurks within all of us. For it is always convenient to take the easy way out, both physically and mentally.
The mental avoidance of unpleasant thoughts is the single worst thing that you could do to yourself.
It is far too easy for..
  • the (physically) weak to tell themselves they do not need to be strong
  • the poor to tell themselves they do not need money to be happy.
  • the isolated to tell themselves they dont need friends (or that others are just too busy)
Yes, money does not buy happiness, but it is very strongly correlated with happiness up to a certain figure where the law of diminishing returns apply.
Yes, the physically weak do stand a chance at success, but their chances for success is far greater if they were physically strong: for sound body = sound mind.
Yes, some people dont need much social interaction (google "introvert misconceptions"), but even the most introverted of us do need friends. The irony is that introverts need close friendships more than extroverts.

Do not succumb to temptation. It will ruin you.

Body First
Working 7-day, 13 hour shifts, I now truly understand what it means to take care of yourself. Not eating or sleeping or even taking a 5 minute midshift break has a very real impact on my performance and alertness. Despite the long shifts, I eat two proper meals a day, and stay well hydrated and sleep as much as I can. I am also studying for exams at the moment. It is impossible to have mental focus without adequate exercise.
Your Body Is A Temple
I'll keep it very simple:
  1. Sleep enough.
  2. Eat enough.
  3. Strength + Cardio
It's stupid how much your life would improve if you ate three meals a day - yet it is something many people do not. I notice this doing very demanding shift work. Getting 7 hours of sleep on the other hand is more challenging. Cardio exercise once a week is a reasonable goal. You could swim / jog / bike it doesnt matter. Anything that gets your pulse up and keeps it up for half an hour is enough. Strength training builds your muscles and increases your metabolism: This is what drives a healthy appetite and increases alertness.

My message to you is this: Dont give up until you have at least tried. I know of many people who would bitch and whine about not having enough time to eat or being easily awoken by sounds - yet spent no effort to overcome their sleep deprivation or bad eating habits. Very often, I hear the same things:
  • I dont have enough time
  • Sound from traffic etc wake me up at night.
  • Im just a poor sleeper and have been all my life.
  • I am getting enough exercise because I walk to work.
  • Why should I bother putting in the effort? Look at X and Y, they seem to be fine...
Never give yourself excuses. See Temptation^ above. Ask yourself: "Have I even tried?"

If you were to break a leg and needed a lift to hospital, how many people (excluding family) on your phonebook can you call without hesitation? The people you know will come to your aid and expect nothing in return

Think of a friend (not acquaintance). Now, using your fingers, list ten points about said friend. Any ten points you can think of. Non physical things about their character/person.
Eg. Bob: Likes burgers; Has 3 kids; Dreams of owning a burger stand; Likes crime movies; Loves lasagna; Birthday sometime in July; Last met him over beers at Christmas; Talking about trip to Peru; Wife enjoys acting and plays; Big fan of Pacific Rim the movie.

It's more difficult than it sounds. I have only 3 friends who pass this simple test. They are my close friends whom I cherish.

Hanging out with people and getting to actually know them does take effort. It is very easy to make excuses (to yourself) as to why you dont know people as well as you should. It could be as simple as downplaying social events (eg. birthdays), or telling yourself that others are busy (before even asking).

I cannot stress this enough. See Temptation^ above. There are no excuses. Ask yourself: "Have I even tried?"

Ask yourself: If I were to drop dead today, who (other than family) would attend my funeral?

Different people have different needs. Extroverts for example need more social interaction and people around them. Hence I am leaving this open to the reader. Only you know how many friends you need. Ask yourself the important questions above. Are you satisfied? Or do you find yourself making mental excuses to feel good about yourself? Eg. Telling yourself you dont need friends or that you have enough. Only you know the answer. Answering dishonestly will be to your detriment.

This is something I cannot comment on as it is different for everyone. The bottom line is that you should aim to be at least middle class, which is defined as a person who can afford one overseas holiday a year with no difficulties. Ie. Having disposable income. Just because you have the money to spend does not mean you will have the time to travel, or people to travel with. Either way, do your best at whatever it is you are doing, and aim for the sky.