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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Yesterday At My Therapist’s Office

YESTERDAY AT MY THERAPIST’S OFFICE was relaxing and intellectually stimulating. Of course, we did not engage in discourse for long—approximately, 40 minutes—-but, still, our brief time together was mentally liberating, to say the least. “Lewuga,” she said, with one of her legs crossed over the other and with an opened purple notebook on her lap, “You are thoughtful, and you care deeply about a lot of things, but it’s important to always ask yourself; ‘Is this issue or situation worth solving?'”

It can be a protest, a simple family feud, or a random incident somewhere, and for whatever reason, I would always feel like I can be the one to amend the situation. Like, the only one that is sensible and pragmatic enough to bring peace and justice to both sides. That kind of unrealistic mindset, although not entirely bad, has never yielded the type of ultimate absolution that I was hoping it would have yielded. And you would think that by now I would have gotten the memo—but, no, I’m too silly and blissfully stubborn. I swear, the way my mind operates sometimes; very grandiose and panglossian, is so annoying and scary.

What a profound question that was, though, for someone as ambitious, selfless, and passionate like me to hear. Up to that very moment, it never dawned on me, in a very visceral way, that, perhaps, I, alone, can not change every situation. I think what it is, is that I always thought and felt like I was ordained by God to solve the issues that his son, Jesus Christ, couldn’t solve before he went back to heaven. But thankfully now that I’ve taken the first step towards a more rational state of mind, by having confronted how celestially, emotionally, and physically impossible such a task was, I’m starting to feel some of the weight of the whole world sliding off of my shoulders.

I do not blame myself for feeling like I should be the one to fix the world—because, without people like me; quixotic, seditious, and compassionate, the world would be a deformed and passionless place. But, what does trouble me sometimes about that mindset that I used to feel so strongly about, is that when the whole world doesn’t change at that split second, I become seriously depressed and cynical about everything.

And that is why I appreciate therapy so much—-because it’s a kind of process that forces you to think critically and seriously about yourself and about the rest of the whole world around you. With each session, you’re growing, decompressing, and learning a little bit more about yourself. Yes, Meditation, Yoga, Group Meetings, and any other activity that forces you to think deeply about something can have the same effect, but for me, Therapy seems to do the trick.

Main photo was from Unsplash

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Let’s Rethink Positive Thinking

think positive folks

How effective is positive thinking….can we really just fantasize about something and have it magically come true for us?

Since childhood our parents—and although they meant well—constantly encouraged us to think positive about our desires. I remember asking for an Xbox 360 for Christmas—only to have my family tell me not to worry so much and to just think positively about it. Throughout Christmas Eve and on the actual day of Christmas, I thought only positive thoughts—-negative thoughts were zapped with mental precision.

Sadly, however, no amount of positive thinking could have prepared me for the mountain of disappointment that I was slated to receive. As everyone were unwrapping their presents with sureness in their eyes—-I was never in receipt of my wish that Christmas. What went wrong? Was I not thinking positive enough?

Gabriele Oettingen, a psychology professor at New York University, and who wrote the book Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation, would answer back , saying, “The more idealized, the more positively people fantasized, the less well that they do….because they don’t put in any effort to actually reach their goal and fulfill their wishes.”

Gabriele Oettingen was right. In the hope that I would receive my Xbox 360 with just positive thinking, I became content and relaxed. I forgot that I had to put some effort to actually achieving my desire. From Christmas Eve to the day before Christmas, I had reservations about doing any chores, I stayed out late with my friends and I was cavalier about calling my family to let them know my engagements.

You, see, at the same time that I was busy thinking positive about my desire, I was also retiring any effort to actually conceptualizing my desire. Positive thinking is great, for example, it may lower our blood pressure and make us feel more relaxed, but it’s not enough to help us achieve our goals and desires.

With attention to achieving our goals and desires, it is important to remember that we must first be honest with ourselves. Notably, we must be thinking about “supplementing positive dreams and fantasies with a clear sense of reality,” according to Gabriele Oettingen. And also, we must not overlook the point that we are emotional creatures—and that certain emotionally tricky messages throughout our day can lead to us procrastinating or giving up on our goals entirely.

To demonstrate on how important it is for us to be honest and realistic about our goals if we are to achieve them; in her studies, for example, Gabriele and her colleagues found that people who fantasized more positively about losing weight actually shed fewer pounds. University graduates who dreamed of great success in their job search ended up earning less money than their peers two years later. And young adults who daydreamed most positively about starting a relationship with their crush-e were less likely to get together with their crush.

With all this considered—and now that I know this, if I could travel back in time to my childhood me—during Christmas Eve, I would tell him to continue to think positive but to also do his chores, don’t stay out too late with friends and to always remember to communicate with family.

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