Confessions From a Type-A

It stinks being a Type-A sometimes because no matter how great things might be going for me, I can never feel satisfied. I always want more and more. Like, excuse me, did you say more validation? Sure, I’ll take it. Oh, you have more friends for me, too? Yes, bring them on. And, wait, what’s this, you’re handing me more responsibilities? I mean, I’m already swamped but, fuck it, I’ll take those too.

Being a Type-A is constantly thinking that there is something, out there, that is much better than what is right here in front of me. In other words, it is the idea that I can always be improving, either on myself or at life. And although I know, intellectually, that the ultimate finish line of any improvement in life is death, I still want to keep improving; keep achieving, and keep going higher and higher until my nose is pressing right on that fucking glass ceiling.

Looking at it now, I suppose what I’ve just described sounds like our basic, human instinct to always be self-improving, and so it’s not something that is mutually exclusive to people with Type-A personalities. And I can totally see that. However, in my particular case, the sensation to always self-improve has become exaggerated to the point where it is, almost, unsafe to be a Type-A person. On the one hand, though, having a Type-A personality is a good thing because it means that I’ll never be mediocre. But on the other hand, it means that I’ll also never know what it feels like to actually relax, and have a good time.

In some ways, I guess you could say that having a Type-A personality is both a gift and a curse and that the more that I become aware of its paradoxical properties, the more manageable it will be. And, yes, that would be an accurate assessment. The problem, though, is that, lately, it’s starting to feel more like a curse than a gift.

I once heard Johannes Heesters say; ” My secret to a long, healthy life is to always keep working….,” and I’ve always liked that quote because it sort of made sense to the way that I viewed the world. But I never actually gave it a great deal of thought. Like for instance; is it possible to have a long, healthy life without having to, constantly, be working all the time? Logically, I know the answer is, yes, but emotionally, I don’t feel it to be true. Namely, because I feel that there’s always something that needs to be done; or there’s always a goal that needs to be accomplished, or there’s always an empty box, somewhere, that needs to be checked off.

In that previous quote from Johannes Heesters, he goes on to say that, working “keeps me busy and happy, and [it] gives me a reason to stay alive.” Although Johannes Heesters and others like him have gone to have successful careers because of their way of thinking, I don’t want to be like them. Chiefly because I know, quite painfully, that there’s a difference between achieving success and actually feeling happy about it. In other words, just because you’re successful doesn’t mean that you’re happy.

Image by Jordan Whitfield from Unsplash.

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There’s Nothing New About The New Year

There’s nothing new about this new year. Your friends are still the same, your relatives are still plotting to drive you crazy, and the world is still a scary place. To speak plainly, if I may; the new year is simply an opportunity to feel like we’re all going somewhere, when in fact, majority of us are still in the same places, with the same shitty partners; and at the same jobs with the same bosses who makes us feel less than what we actually feel like when we’re far, far away from our workplaces.

Don’t get me wrong, something is different and new about this present moment, like the fact that it is 2018 instead of 2017, but the mindset that many of us will carry on our shoulders will be – and is still – very much the same. For example, if you’re prone to having negative thoughts about yourself, that’s gonna remain the same. Or, if you tend to start something new but never actually finish it, that’s also going to be the same.

But before I continue my pessimistic tirade any further, let me be clear, here, there’s nothing wrong with celebrating the arrival of a new year with family, friends, or even with strangers, in fact, it may be healthy for the soul, but to buy into the idea that a new year will, automatically, usher in a newer you is borderline insane. Thinking that way makes you no different than the deranged man that I’d often see on the corner of Chippewa and Main, professing that the world is going to end. Sure; new day, new month, new year, but still the same unhinged way of thinking.

I suspect that some of you may disagree with what I’m saying, and that’s perfectly fine. Perhaps, because many of you have already sworn that this year will be different and that the world will have no choice but to kneel at your feet once they see how different you are—–and great, that is absolutely fantastic. All power to you. I wish you the best of luck on your journey. However, the reason I am a little skeptical about all the endless possibilities that a new year might bring, whether interpersonally or socially, is because common sense tells me to. Furthermore, and because research shows that it takes people 18 – 254 days to form a new habit, and, also because forming a new habit is extremely challenging, common sense also tells me that people are people and because they’re people, they’re almost certainly going to fail. I wish there was a much nicer way that I could have said that, but there wasn’t.

But although that might be the case, and although the facts are the facts and we should never argue with the facts, I can’t help but wonder; can some people actually surprise themselves this year and become who they envisioned themselves to be?

The reader may find this surprising, especially given how apathetic I was a moment ago; but I am a firm believer in the power of the human mind, and its capacity to achieve whatever it sets itself to achieve. More importantly, and because I believe in the power of the human will and it’s determination; its focus and its amazing drive, it is my contention that the data and the raw facts are capable of bending themselves to fit the type of reality that someone has set for themselves. Statistically speaking, not everyone, however, will be able to pull off what I’ve just mentioned—-and that’s okay. In fact, it’s perfectly normal because not everyone has the discipline nor the willpower to see an idea through the very end. And this is good news because, interestingly, it is on those bases; i.e., the separation of mind and willpower, that will, ultimately, determine if some people will actually get to experience a new sensation of self this year—-or not.

 

Image by Annie Spratt from Unsplash

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Good Distraction And Bad Distraction

I THINK THERE is such a thing as a good distraction and a bad distraction. A Good distraction is when you’re still able to remain connected with your environment despite outside interferences. Also, a good distraction is something that does not hinder, but invites, authentic engagement with the people around you. On the flip side, a bad distraction is something that not only distracts you from important, momentary pleasures but it robs you of the chance to form real, concrete relationships with the people in your environment.

If good distractions and bad distractions are real, concrete things that can hinder or enhance our relationships, then why is it that some people choose the bad over the good? And whatever the reason may be, how can we, as individuals and as a society, encourage people to be less distracted?

Distractions are nothing new. We can go as far back in time as we want to and, at each point in history, we would discover that people were preoccupied with one thing or the other. Thus, what this tells us, is that distractions are prelims of human existence.

Although distractions are prelims of human existence, depending on what time period people are in, however, can determine the intensity-level in which people are distracted.  For example, when we look back to the 1960s, during the peak of the hippie movement, what we see is that a lot of people were not as distracted as they are today. Back then, there were no smartphones and no social media to distract people from important issues.

And although they had the Vietnam war, Civil Rights, and the Space Race with the Soviet Union to worry about, they were still able to come together to agree on certain things, like protesting the Vietnam war, listening to the Beatles and fighting for the environment. Granted, the economy was a lot stabler back then than it is today; social welfare programs had just started, and the federal government had increased its spending, we cannot overlook the fact that, despite outside interferences, people were still able to form meaningful connections.

Fast forward to the present moment, and distractions are not what they used to look like in the 1960s. Today, the type of distractions that we have not only prevents us from being hip to how people around us might be feeling, and to some of the important issues of the day, but they also have the added bonus of real, economic losses attached to them. Today, even something as harmless as being distracted on social media costs our economy $650 billion dollars in lost productivity. In other words, the more time you spend on social media the lesser the economy stands to benefit.

Seeing that both our interpersonal relationships and our economies stand to lose when we are distracted, what we now need, more than ever, is a reimagination of what it means to be distracted in a good way. On the surface, that sounds like an oxymoron, that is; how can being distracted actually be a good thing? and that’s true. But, when we look deeper, however, we can see that there are real, tangible outcomes for good distractions.

A good distraction is when you set your phone down and allow yourself the chance to wonder and connect with your environment. Secondarily, good distractions are great for not only fostering mindfulness but they are also great for fostering creativity, and creativity often leads to solutions. What this means is that people in the 1960s were onto something, that is; by allowing themselves to be distracted in a good way, they were able to agree on creative solutions that ended up changing the society in which they lived in.

We, in this generation, are certainly entitled to that same potential so long as we begin to choose good distractions over the bad distractions. But how do we encourage people to choose the good over the bad? It’s no secret, that when it comes to making positive choices, people will choose the bad over the good. One simple reason people do that is because the bad is convenient and sometimes more inexpensive than the good. To change that, though, we need to introduce them to posts like these. Another idea is to create educational programs, lectures, and seminars about the good, the bad, and the ugly of distractions.

 

The economic cost of using social media; Masahabe.com

U.S., economy during the 1960s -1970s; Years of Change

Three reasons you should let yourself get distracted; Fast Economy

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