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Today’s post will have to be brief because I’m about to start a very long shift of sitting around. The great thing about it is that I am able to read books while I sit – so I’ll have the opportunity to catch up on some books that I want to read through. I also when to the library today and got some books on ASL! By tomorrow I’ll be able to sign a few things hopefully! I learned how to finger spell in mid-high school but I never learned past it.

If you had 48-hours where you weren’t allowed to go on the internet but had the opportunity to learn anything, what would you learn?

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Talking to Stangers

Certainly life would be boring if you never met anyone new. If we are a product of the environment we put ourselves in, without meeting new people we remain the same. So why is it that we’re taught at such a young age not to talk to strangers? I would argue that one of life’s more important skills is learning to talk to strangers.

When we learn to overcome talking to strangers, we conquer a different sort of anxiety within ourselves. We learn to accept the unknown and go out to meet it. For example, when you meet someone new you have no idea what sort of person they may be. You could judge them by their clothes and where you meet them but it isn’t always accurate. There’s always that sort of unknown that you have to face.

Talking to strangers also gives us the ability to understand other people. If you are only with your group of friends, you’re limited to only what your friends experience. Once you meet a variety of people, you get a variety of experiences. While it’s great to have close friends, it’s also important to always be meeting new people.

When you find something that you’re passionate about and you put it out there – meaning you obnoxiously post about it all the time on Facebook and find yourself always talking about it – you’ll find a lot of new people who share that passion. Or will help foster that passion in you. When I started taking photos, I received a lot of support from people I had never met on Flickr. When I started blogging I became incredibly enthusiastic about it. I met a lot of new people who had blogs and I got a lot of my friends involved with blogging.

Talking to strangers gives us a pathway to understanding ourselves. When we are alone, or stay in the same crowd, our views rarely get challenged. When we meet new people and have to discuss our views, we have the ability to expand on them and develop them further.

So next time you get anxiety about going to meet a new group of people, remember all the potential that they carry with them. You could meet a person who will cause your life to be completely altered! They could teach you about something new or build passion in what you love. “Strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet”, why not treat it like that?

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P.S. This was inspired by a great conversation I had with a music enthusiast on Omegle.com about Sigur Ros, classical music, and electro-swing!

Dealing with Happiness

While walking to go get food today with a classmate we struck up a conversation that gave me satori (flash of Enlightenment) and a deeper understanding how our views of the world differ. Usually this particular classmate and I clash because he tends to comment about how terrible the world is and how he’s forced deal with it. It mildly sarcastic and incredibly negative all the time. On the other end of the scale I’m usually optimistic and perhaps a little too preachy on how things actually aren’t that bad. When he makes a comment about how we’re being unfairly treated I toss in why it’s not actually that bad or how we could benefit or learn from the situation. How the moment will eventually pass and we’ll move on to something else.

The satori that I received gave me the realization that I was trying to solve the problem (his unhappiness) in an incorrect way. I was trying to make things appear better by countering his negativity. However, this was erroneous because it was a way for my ego to think that I am superior to him. In actuality I am no better and no worse than he is.

You see, the ego that wants to prove that it is better than everyone else. Measuring my happiness to his was a way of showing my superiority. There is no purpose in measuring happiness other than to place yourself above or below another person. Countering his negative statements wasn’t bringing him any happiness because it was a way for me to basically say “I’m better than you, what you are saying is wrong”.

The situation is paradoxical because I genuinely want him to be happy but at the same time I liked feeling better than him.

The satori was my realization that I am not solving anything through these action. It was also the feeling that I am no better than him.

Just because I am happier in this situation doesn’t make me a better person. Everyone has highs as well as lows. Measuring and comparing against someone else is useless other than determining superiority. Unhappy is unhappy. My unhappy doesn’t measure against your unhappy. Unhappiness is… unhappiness.

If I want to show genuine compassion, I would show love and sympathy to him. It doesn’t mean that I would agree with his negative statements but I would sympathize in his suffering. It’s something that we all go through during our life. I would love him as a fellow human and understand his suffering without taking it on as my own. I won’t tell him that he’s wrong for his thoughts as that would perpetuate the conflict and suffering.

For him to find happiness he will have to change his views. He will have to realize that the world isn’t as horrible as he believes it to be. Perhaps he will learn this through experience, through time, or, more likely, a mixture of the two. I cannot make him realize this and disagreeing with him will only fuel his negative viewpoint.

My role is to show him my happiness by being happy. To show him that the situation isn’t actually that bad because “look at this guy and everyone else, they’re doing just fine”.

The statement he said that lead to this article was “…you always see the world as rainbows and butterflies…”. It made me realize our disconnect. He didn’t see the world as rose tinted as I did and therefore all of my statements about things not being bad were useless. He couldn’t see them from his viewpoint. Suddenly I realized that I would have to show him happiness, not just speak about it.

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