Why Is It So Hard to Eat Healthy?

This is a huge topic for me. One of the biggest struggles I have in my life is learning to deal with eating the right way, and based on the fact that so many people in our country struggle with obesity, I know I’m not the only one. The food culture in the United States is an amazing thing, but it has also created an environment where many people will spend the rest of their lives struggling with weight, diabetes and other terrible afflictions brought on by the things that we put in our bodies.

I’ve stated in the past that I was a Marine for more than a decade of my life, and one would think that so much time spent in such a disciplined environment would have conditioned me to avoid this problem. Unfortunately, I had the bad luck of having an extremely high metabolism in my younger days and I was able to get by with minimal effort. I could eat whatever I wanted and it never really affected me. A bit of mandatory exercise and I was able to keep up with the physical requirements.

Where this failed me is when that metabolism started slowing down. Not having established any discipline with my food and a pattern of lazy behavior due to the lack of being forced to exert myself much has created an older gentleman that struggles not only to get off the couch but also to fight off the cravings for the things I’m used to. I’ve recently given up sugar, but that is far from a cure all. There has to be a comprehensive change in the way I live my life.

Despite the many personal reasons for why I’ve ended up in this situation, we have to look higher and wider for the reason why so many people today struggle with this issue. Many blame it on how expensive healthy food products have become, and that is certainly part of the equation. However, the real reason is something a bit more insidious, mostly because there is no human force behind it. The problem is simply a side effect of the modern world we live in: convenience.

I can personally attest to the fact that many times I end up eating things that are terrible for me not because I can’t afford to eat better, but because I just don’t feel like taking the time to prepare something better for myself. Why would I spend thirty minutes or an hour preparing a meal manually when I can just grab something to throw in the microwave? I don’t want to spend a significant portion of my day cooking, and my guess is that most people today feel the same way.

There are many things in life that convenience has made better, but it seems clear to me that it has become a menace in the world of food. There’s a saying that states that “nothing worth doing is easy”, and this is probably true. Convenient food is rarely healthy, but who can resist taking the easy path when it’s so accessible to so many? It becomes very difficult to choose to buy real groceries when you can just swing by the drive thru on your way home; buy a bag of chips rather than a tasteless bag of vegetables.

In the end, eating is a choice like everything else. We each decide what is most important to us, and one of those choices is convenience over health. As long as we continue to defer to our laziness rather than getting off the couch and eating better, we will struggle with being overweight. There is no secret formula to get us out of the natural equation. Eat less calories than you burn…that’s it. You do that by either eating less, working out more or some combination of the two. That is, until they come out with a pill that makes even burning fat convenient.

What do you think about unhealthy eating? Do you struggle with this like so many others? What can you change today to start moving yourself toward a more healthy lifestyle? People are always looking for the easy solution, but when it comes to our weight there just isn’t one. You have to put in the work, and for most people it is very hard. Only you can decide if you’re willing to put in the effort.

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You Don’t Need a New…..

It is interesting to look at consumerism in America. Most of us don’t think twice about buying something new, even when the thing we are replacing is still perfectly serviceable. For most of human history, our decision making when it comes to buying things was almost totally based on need, unless you happened to be in the privileged position of being wealthy. Nowadays, the average person lives far better than kings used to just a hundred or so years ago.

This of course started only in the last century as we increased our ability to make more and more things at cheaper and cheaper prices. The industrial revolution and the technological advances that followed it created a world where it was about the same price or effort to just buy something new rather than fixing what you had. Throwing things away in favor of the shiny new bauble was far preferable when the cost was the same.

Unfortunately, this attitude ignores one of the most logical tenets that should be a part of our decision making process: just because you can do a thing doesn’t mean that you should. In a previous post, I described how making decisions from a place of emotion rarely results in the best result. While that post was centered more around having the courage to face our fears, the same logic applies when it comes to the way we use things in our daily lives.

One of the best examples of the negative consequences of emotional spending is the purchase of vehicles. The average car has a reasonable useful lifespan of at least ten years, while the average loan today is only six years. Typically, the person owns the car for a few years and then gets bored with it, attracted by the shiny new model they see in an advertisement. Rather than paying off the car and using the extra four years the car should last to save up for their next car, they trade in now at a net loss and place the negative equity on top of the new car. Each new loan adds more and more debt for less value.

It doesn’t have to be this way, if you can learn to control your desires. I have historically struggled with this myself, and am saddled with a fair amount of debt because of it. However, I have learned to suppress this desire in certain areas of my life and I am now finally making headway. For example, I was accustomed to getting a new phone every couple of years, but rather than add another phone payment to my plan, I simply paid off my current phone and I’m holding onto it until it fails. It still works fine, despite a cracked screen and body, and there is no reason other than aesthetics to replace it. Why spend more for something I don’t need?

This is counter to what the market wants us to believe. It is not in the best interest of the economy in general for consumers to start spending less and holding onto things longer. It relies on people spending what they make to increase productivity and grow the GDP. You will rarely be told that you shouldn’t buy a new car or a new phone or a new house or whatever else you’re considering. Businesses rely on your dollar to keep running, and will do anything they can to acquire your patronage.

The point of this post isn’t so much to criticize people who buy things before they need to, but to encourage you to stop and think about your purchase before you commit to it. If you have the disposable income to arbitrarily purchase things with cash without endangering your finances, then I absolutely support your decision to inject money into the economy via your spending. However, far too many of us can’t really afford that shiny new thing and end up going into debt for it. This is where we really need to take a hard look at what we’re doing.

Being smart with money is something the average person just isn’t taught. It isn’t in the best interest of those who manipulate the rest of us to have a public that is informed on how things really work, and especially not to have someone like me advocating for people to not spend money they don’t have to. At the end of the day, only you can decide how to budget your finances, and it is your priorities that set your spending. Just keep in mind that the new thing you buy usually ends up costing you more than you first think.

What do you think about upgrading to new things? Are you good with your decision making, or do you tend to be wasteful? How much of your existing debt is a result of buying something new that you didn’t really need? At some point, we all need to learn how to be better with our money. If we don’t, we will continue to make the same mistakes over and over again, wasting money that we could have applied to something more valuable.

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Learning How to Value Yourself

Most of us struggle with seeing the great things that we contribute to the people around us. We get stuck in our daily routines, grinding our way through life just trying to make ends meet and we don’t notice the things that we do all the time that make a difference. It can become hard sometimes to feel motivated to do anything at all because we feel trapped in the regimented schedules that we have created for ourselves.

The reality is that to function in a society at all, there must be some sort of value that makes us worth dealing with. It is only when we have something meaningful to contribute that we are able to interact in any sort of positive way with the people in our lives. Even if you don’t make a lot of money, you have some sort of value that makes you important to someone. Our ability to be valuable to others isn’t necessarily about producing anything. Social currency is a real thing.

Men tend to focus on career, but this can be a very bad way to judge our own value. There are only so many high value jobs in the working world, and very few will rise to the level that we tend to think of as being “successful”. We tend to have a very “pie in the sky” view of what our lives should be, and the disappointment we feel when that dream world doesn’t materialize can be incredibly demoralizing if we don’t have realistic expectations.

I used to struggle with this myself. Like most men, when I was young I had this idea that I was going to have so many great things by the time I turned thirty, not realizing at the time that the people who get those things that early are the extreme exception, not the rule. My life certainly isn’t where I hoped it would be when I was just getting into my life as an adult, and sometimes it is a struggle to be satisfied with what I have.

What most men don’t realize is that we contribute a lot more than just our work. We are sons and fathers and brothers and husbands as well, and those things are far more important than how much money we make or what kind of car we drive or the house we live in. As many have said before, on the last day of our lives when we are looking back at what we spent our lives doing, we won’t be saying that we wished we made just one more dollar. We will be looking at the loved ones around us and feel grateful that we had amazing relationships to share that life with.

Women struggle in much the same way, except that their focus tends to be on self image rather than what they produce. The same idea applies to them. Focusing on our personal relationships rather than popularity or other such nonsense is a much better metric for determining your own value. The flaky friends you had when you were young won’t be there in thirty years when you need someone to give you real emotional support. It is your family and close friends who will matter in the end, not your dress size or social media friend count.

It can be difficult to look at our situations today and feel satisfied with where we are. Human beings are by nature movers, always looking ahead to the next thing we need to get done. I am certainly not satisfied with where my career has taken me, and it has spurred me to jump feet first into this blog with the small hope that I can make something valuable out of it. But along the way I need to remember that I am important in ways other than the dead end career options I’ve been given. Jobs are temporary; value lasts a lifetime.

What do you think about your own value? Can you see the good things you contribute to the world around you? Take a few minutes and make a list of the things about you that other people might find valuable, even if they seem ridiculous. As you take a moment to reflect on that list, you might find that you have far more to offer people than what the “mainstream” has decided is “valuable”.

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Learning to Keep Your Mouth Shut

One of the hardest things for a man to do is to sit back and let things happen, especially when they are things that he disagrees with. I have mentioned in the past that we can learn to live with humiliating situations, but what about those times when things are happening that strike at the core of your life and are being caused by people you used to trust? What do you do when you feel the anger welling up inside you and all you want to do is scream at someone?

I’ve learned over the years that many times speaking out just makes things worse, not only for you, but for the people you care about. I’ve said a lot on this blog about standing up to what is wrong and finding the courage to do what needs to be done, and in many situations this is absolutely the right thing to do. Unfortunately, there are also situations where sometimes you just have to sit down and shut up and let things happen, even if you hate every minute of it.

Among the myriad situations to which this applies is child custody. I haven’t gotten too personal about this particular area of my life, mostly because I prefer to keep my children out of anything public like this. The sad thing is that they are no longer close by, and everyone hates it except for the person who decided it in the first place. It was a decision made by one person that affects nearly everyone who matters, but none of us got a say in any of it.

What can you do in a situation like this? I could have fought the decision, but would that really have helped? There is a tenuous congeniality involved in this particular situation, a delicate balance which can be upset with a single wrong word. A step in the wrong direction could bring misery down not only on myself, but also on my kids. Even though my principles tell me to fight for what I think is best for them, the reality is that all I can really do is make things worse.

The movies give us situations like this all the time. A man might be walking down the street with his wife and they are accosted by a man with a knife wanting her purse. Our natural instinct is to defend the one we love, but in reality the odds are that resisting someone with more power than us is only going to result in someone getting hurt. Is it worth it to protect a few dollars or trinkets?

Where we get a difference is in the same situation when the man wants to rape his wife. Then it crosses a threshold where there is no longer any choice but to fight as hard as he can to stop a person with evil intent from causing irreparable harm to the person he loves most. This is a clear line that most of us naturally understand. There is very little ambiguity when it comes to a black and white situation like this.

The problem is that many of our problems don’t have black and white solutions. When things come up that cause us pain, the first thought that enters our mind is usually the nuclear option. Just blow everything up and let the chips fall where they may. This is almost never the correct response, and as we get older it becomes much easier to understand why. We start out making decisions impulsively with little wisdom. Experience teaches us the folly of acting that way.

In the end, sometimes we have to learn to just shut our mouths and accept what we can’t change. Only you can decide where this applies in your life. I can write on this blog and encourage you to stand up for your rights and fight the system, or do any number of other things, but at the same time we all have to realize that there are certain costs that we aren’t willing to pay. And sometimes we have to be aware of the costs we don’t even know about yet. Is it worth blowing everything up to get our way?

What do you think about using discretion? Have you learned to filter out what is important and what you need to just let slip by? How do you handle it when you have to just accept what is? Part of growing up is learning to differentiate between what you should fight against and what you should learn to live with. There are things that are non-negotiable, but sometimes it’s more important to sacrifice your pride for the benefit of others.

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We Want More Positivity and Less Politics

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you have noticed that I try to split my time between covering political issues that are important to me and more broad philosophical or self improvement topics that you can hopefully use to start figuring out things about yourself. As I continue to write and post and monitor traffic to the blog, as modest as it is in this early stage, I have noticed a decided lean toward the self help side of the spectrum. This isn’t particularly surprising, as our political discourse these days tends to be highly negative and self help is almost universally a positive thing.

It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of political narratives and enter into a state of pure hopelessness as we watch the world descend into perceived chaos around us. History has shown us that societies work in cycles, with long periods of peace and success interlaced with explosive bursts of violence and unrest. As we move further into the rest of this decade, we can expect it to only get worse before it gets better.

I myself notice that I tend to gravitate toward news articles, mostly because I want to get a feel for what is going on in the world around me. Nearly all of what I watch when it comes to this kind of thing relates to politics and the things that are happening that will have some sort of effect on the life I want to live. It’s easy to become discouraged and forget to swing back to the more positive side of things.

In a previous article, I mentioned that people tend to label me a pessimist, and in many cases they are probably right. Yet I find hope even when I’m faced with all of the political negativity that our society faces today. There are changes brewing in our nation that seem to be the start of the natural swing of the pendulum away from one side of the spectrum back to the other. The light at the end of the current tunnel is getting closer and closer and we all yearn to step back into the sunshine.

Where I have to start being a bit more observant is starting to shift my attention a bit more away from politics and more onto the side of providing what insight I can into the issues that normal people deal with every day. It seems like there is a massive craving in our society today for anyone to step up and start addressing the massive personal and emotional and discipline issues that the last few generations have never learned to deal with, including mine. As I myself work through these complex problems, I try to post them here so that my readers and get another perspective on whatever problems they are dealing with.

Not being a certified therapist, and apparently having that decidedly pessimistic streak, it would be easy for me to shy away from giving advice to people about the big problems that we all deal with. The reality is that it isn’t a piece of paper that makes one qualified to help others. Life experience is just as valuable as a textbook, and many times it is the individual experience we gain through life that is the most helpful to those who need it most. That’s what makes us truly care about those around us because we went through the same things.

I’m not sure how much I can help in this regard, but it is clear to me that my readers seem to be more interested in the positive, helpful articles than the philosophical and political posts. That doesn’t mean I plan on giving up on putting my point of view out there, but it does mean I want to be open to breaking down more of the issues that will help you more directly. We all yearn for a guide, and while I may not be the absolute most qualified person, it is clear to me that I can at least be helpful to some degree.

To that end, it is my hope that you will take a moment to share something that is important to you, or make a request for an article about an issue that would be helpful to you. Collaboration in this environment is important, and it is clear that most of us are no longer looking for someone to speak into the void without considering the needs of those we are speaking to. We want to feel included, and I can understand that. I don’t expect this to become an “advice column”, but frankly it is up to the readers to decide what they value and it is for me to provide what you need to the best of my ability. One person can only do so much on their own.

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Finding Diamonds in the Rough

In a recent post, I made a point of wanting to balance my writing between criticizing what is wrong in the world with talking about more of the things that are already good and the things we can do to make the world a better place. That can be a very difficult thing to do in today’s social climate, especially with a media who seems bent on hyping up every story in an effort to drive ratings. Still, it is very possible to get a positive outlook on the future if we can find a way to sift through the garbage to find the treasures hidden beneath.

What makes it difficult is that it requires time and effort to scroll through a multitude of negative articles to find one or two that are uplifting. One of the reasons for this is that depending on what your moral code is, what is positive for one person might be negative for another. As a more conservative leaning individual watching a progressive dominated media landscape, it is partially my own bias that makes it hard for me to find positivity.

Still, with a bit of time and searching, it is possible to find information about great things happening in the world even in a heavily biased, agenda based mainstream. For example, Idaho recently passed a bill banning abortions after a heartbeat is detected, which is a great move toward preserving the lives of innocent babies. The Supreme Court is hearing a case that may finally settle the issue of concealed carry of firearms across the nation. It is now believed that nuclear fusion will be a viable energy source as early as 2030, which will radically shift the way we look at energy production.

Like anything worthwhile in the world, the good things require a bit of effort. It’s easy to just look at our newsfeeds and assume a negative attitude, but we need to remember that the information we are being fed has an agenda attached to it. It is not in our best interests to listen to anything without first considering where the information came from and how it applies to our own viewpoints. We are capable of deciding for ourselves how we feel about an issue.

This is important, because even if most of what we read is interpreted as negative, if we can shift our way of looking at these things to recognize that it likely isn’t nearly as bad as it is being portrayed to be, it becomes much easier to shift our overall opinion toward a more positive one. Perhaps it can be as simple as assuming that ten negative articles hold the same value as one positive one. If we treat a positivity news story like a precious jewel, it makes sifting through the rest of it much easier.

The great thing about our modern era of internet communication is that we are getting more and more tailored information delivered to us based on our browsing habits, so as we focus more on positive content, more of that content will be funneled in our direction. Clickbait is a thing in mainstream news as much as anywhere else, and avoiding those articles makes a small difference in the algorithms that decide what to recommend to you. Bypassing such stories and focusing more on positive, upbeat titles will slowly shift what information is being fed to you.

That said, we do have to be careful to not avoid negative information entirely. There are things out there happening in the world that we all need to keep an eye on. Tensions with China, the continued slavery of individuals around the world, piracy in various parts of the world, and continued poverty and starvation are all issues on which we need to stay informed. The critical part is taking in only the negative information that really matters and ignoring the fluff and the lies.

With a careful attitude that is skewed more toward seeing the positive in things, we can slowly push back against a greedy media that just wants you to mindlessly watch their content and fill their pockets. Just as in finding balance in our work, we need to find balance in our intake of information. For now, it will require more work than it really should, but the end result is worth it. Take a bit of time every day to place your own mental filter on the stories you see and start focusing more on the articles that make you feel uplifted.

What do you think about negative news media? How much of it is necessary, and how much of it is just trying desperately to grab your attention? Do you actively practice looking for positive stories? Leave a comment below linking a great news story that makes you feel hopeful about the future. Together we can shift the focus of the nation from pessimism back to the hopeful attitude we used to share.

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American Risk Aversion Is Crippling Society

Something changed in the last couple of generations. We look back on our history at times when we were far more willing to do dangerous things to accomplish what we knew was right. The Revolutionary War, the Civil War, both World Wars; our nation used to be filled to the brim with people willing to make any sacrifice necessary to stand up for good and fight back evil. This just doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

We have become risk averse in general. Most of us are far too dependent on others to make our lives happen. Our work is mostly employment by companies. We live in safe little communities with highly regulated buildings. Our roads are patrolled and our food inspected down to a microscopic level. The adventure that many of us used to seek is replaced by docile little vacations to highly developed, sanitized versions of what they used to be.

This isn’t to say that these measures aren’t good things on their own, but the combined need to remove danger from the equation of our lives is weakening our ability to steel ourselves against the problems of the world we can’t neatly tie up in the little boxes we create for our lives. There are forced in the world that will never bow down to our industriousness, and as we become more and more the robots of modern thought, the rest of the world feels the hunger for progress. Our position at the top is under constant threat, and we no longer have the teeth to fight back.

I can’t claim to be any better. My desire for most of my life is to somehow become self employed, but I’ve never been able to find the courage to jump into anything to see if I could make it work. The excuses were many and varied. I didn’t have enough money. My family needs a steady income. My skillset isn’t up to the task. It has been an endless stream of reasons why it could never work out.

Part of the problem is our public school system. We are brought up in this highly regimented environment that was developed to train factory workers to mindlessly sit and perform tasks for eight hours per day. Teachers try to spark our creativity, but in the end the system is just too tightly wound to allow enough wiggle room for young minds to really flourish. It is difficult to allow minds to wander when you’re tied to a schedule.

Another problem is more personal to me, and that is my eleven years of military service. Public school is certainly controlled, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the level of discipline imparted by serving in the armed forces. This isn’t a bad thing while you’re in, because the ability to follow orders and procedures typically keeps you alive in the most horrible situations imaginable. Unfortunately, this doesn’t translate well if your desire is to do something more adventurous once you’re out. It sets your mentality in the corporate mindset, which is hardly a free spirited environment.

Mostly, though, it is constantly being told that we need to protect people from their own problems. We have so many laws on the books that we somehow think are going to stop bad people from doing bad things. This is nice in theory, but the reality is that no matter how much we try to wrap probability around our fingers, eventually something bad is going to happen. We spend so much time trying to avoid danger that we miss out on the truly exciting things about life. Society in general is cultivating an attitude of fear instead of the adventure that most of us crave.

I’m not sure how I will personally get out of this mindset. The risk of writing this blog is a small step, I suppose, but unless it takes off in a way that I don’t see yet, it will be a supplementary thing. I have mentioned in the past that I yearn to cruise the world on a sailboat, and that would be the biggest adventure of my life, filled with danger and uncertainty and something amazing over every horizon. It simply requires the will to accept the bad that might come with the good.

As a nation, it is simply a matter of everyone working together to prop each other up. Too many people simply hear an idea that sounds crazy and say as much. If more people supported those who had a different way of thinking, we would be stronger as a society and more willing to do what needs doing. More people would be willing to take risks, and we could stand more firmly as a country against those ideas that threaten us because aren’t crippled by the fear of consequences. Adventure is as much about teamwork as it is about anything else.

How do you feel about taking risks? Have you been fearful of doing anything special because the price of failure seemed too high? What can you do today to further your own goals, or help someone take a step in the right direction? Risk is a part of life whether we like it or not, and you can’t control it. Any idea to the contrary is simply an illusion, so if we have to pay the price anyway, why not go for it?

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Finding Balance in Your Work

It’s easy sometimes to get buried under all the negativity in the world around us. We struggle to get through the day and lose sight of the good things that are still in our lives. Our minds are constantly bombarded with the problems of others and the carelessness of those who are more concerned with their own desires than how what they do might be affecting others. A simple commute to work can many times be a stark example of this.

Where this is truly detrimental is when it comes to your work. I have a day job, but it has been a dead end road from the beginning and no amount of positivity will change that. Where I find this topic applying to my own career is in the writing that I choose to do for this blog. As a political and philosophical thought provoking platform, there are a lot of negative things that I end up going over in an attempt to bring common sense and reason to as many people as possible. It is quite easy to make every article a complaint against modern society. That really isn’t where I want to be.

There are many things that need to be said, and many of those things are going to be negative, but at the same time there needs to be a balance that focuses on the many positive things. No one wants to spend their day mired in articles telling us how doomed the world is, especially when there are so many reasons to be hopeful for the future. Even this blog is an effort in hope, not just that some of the bad trends in our political landscape will be reversed, but also that some of the things I pass on here will be helpful to people who need it.

Many times the situations in our lives are beyond our control, but the one thing that we have control of every moment of the day is our attitude and what we choose to focus our attention on. It can be difficult at times to hold a balance between addressing important issues and wallowing in how bad we see things being. We can’t ignore the problems of the world, because they will just get worse if we don’t do anything about them, but it is critical to keep the proper perspective when rolling up our sleeves to do the hard work.

When it comes to our chosen profession, much of the negativity comes from not seeing the fruit of our labor, especially if we work in a profession that has a lot of negativity associated with it. That might be from a boss or customers or any number of other sources. For this blog, it is mostly the people I find to be crazy or incompetent who stand out as targets for highlighting why things are the way they are. A bit more balance is required.

There have been many posts since I started that focused on more of a self help style of writing, and I hope to continue doing more of that to balance out the political articles that have dominated the list recently. It is important for all of us to have a positive attitude, because no one really responds well to constant criticism and a good attitude can sometimes address a problem far better than pointing out flaws. Many times the problems we have with others is simply resolved with a bit of positivity.

Ultimately, it is up to us to decide our path forward. There might be limiting factors, but we can always push in the right direction regardless of the circumstances. Eventually we will find at least the peace of knowing we did things right, even if we don’t necessarily get the results we were hoping for. Never ignore the things that need to be addressed, but we must always remember to balance the critical nature required to deal with those things with an equally positive mindset to prevent a descent into depression or anger. This can apply to anything in life.

How balanced is your work? Do you spend most of your time dealing with negative people, or struggling to keep a positive mindset? How do you deal with this kind of environment? We can make our lives much less stressful if we can find a way to balance out this kind of dark energy with a lighter side. Happiness and contentment can be as much of a choice as anything else, but it requires a bit of focus and effort to make it happen.

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You Don’t Have Anything to Say Until You’ve Lived a Little

At some point in our society, the youth of our nation began taking the stage and pushing forward new ideas that they felt made sense to them. At some point, the elders of our society began allowing this to happen, perhaps thinking that fresh and new ideas were a good thing. This is true to some point, but when taken too far it begins causing some serious problems for the people who tend to know better. Like a burst dam, once the flow begins, it is very difficult to stop.

There used to be a time in the world where elders were respected and listened to. The wisdom of life is a very valuable thing, but it is unfortunately not until you begin truly learning that wisdom yourself that you truly begin to understand that value. The new ideas we have when we are young that sound so great when we don’t know any better become bitter pills later on in life as we look back at what could have been easily avoided if we had learned the lessons from the past.

This is not to say that all new ideas are bad. Our species has moved forward so quickly because of amazing new ideas that propelled us into new realms of science and philosophy. The American form of democracy is a shining example of brave new thoughts that have stood the test of time. But if we really look at the best ideas…the ones that truly last…we see that they rarely come from someone who was barely old enough to have left their parents.

Human beings have a huge capacity for ingenuity, but most of the time that capacity on its own isn’t enough to create something truly wonderful. Almost invariably, there is some sort of struggle involved in the process. There has to be something to be overcome to prompt us to think outside the box and come up with something new. This is where we come up with that ubiquitous axiom “necessity is the mother of all invention”. We come up with things when we need them.

One of the downsides to our modern society that has everything at its fingertips is that there isn’t any real struggle anymore, at least not in the mainstream public. Certainly there are areas of our nation where people live in poverty or have other adverse conditions, but for the most part the average American enjoys a sense of security and prosperity unparalleled in history. We worry about things, but we never have to truly face those heart stopping moments that our ancestors had to deal with. We are safe in our protected little bubbles.

Still, our biology includes as part of its makeup a drive to move forward. It doesn’t matter that most people don’t have any real reason to do anything more than grind through the routine of their lives. There is a primal passion within us that must be satisfied, and we will go to any length to find whatever it is that will satisfy that need to move forward. And to do that we are willing to smash that safe little bubble to pieces for the smallest of chances that the result will turn out better than what we had.

This is where wisdom is supposed to come in. The elders of our society are supposed to pull back on the reins of the young, disciplining them in the ways of the past because the lessons they’ve already learned has shown us that rocking the boat unnecessarily is dangerous and stupid. Many of the “new” ideas have already been tried, and going back to revisit them is simply a waste of time and effort and sometimes lives. We have guides to the future if we can just learn to listen to them.

Unfortunately, the elders of our time have refused to put their foots down, choosing instead to pass the torch before the next generation is ready to take it. They have retired early, seeking the easy life by allowing their children to run free with little or no supervision. The wise among us have stepped out, leaving the idealistic and undisciplined and untested to hold the reins and take us wherever they want to go. With such inept control, the horse will wander wherever it chooses, free from the skilled hands of someone who knows better.

The reality is that new ideas are great and all, but you really do have to live a little before you can really have something to say that actually matters. You have to try things out and learn to fail properly, figuring out along the way what works and what doesn’t. It requires learning to be patient and seeing an issue from all sides before leaping forward into the unknown. This comes not only from living our lives, but learning from the lives of those who came before. It is a gift given to us from the previous generations, learning from both their successes and failures. As the saying goes: “those who forget history are doomed to repeat it”.

This message will always fall on deaf ears when it comes to the young. They are full of energy and inspiration and a drive to change things to fit their image of the world. It is on those of us who have lived a while to pull them back, calming them down and getting them to look at the world properly. It’s great to think outside the box, but before you can really do that you need to understand the box. You need to know what in the box is good and what is bad, why they are good or bad, and which of the bad things you can reasonably change. It is only then that you can start really starting to make a positive difference.

The problem is that it can take a lifetime to learn enough about the box to start making a change, and the young simply won’t wait. This is why it is up to those who know better to stop putting up with the impatience of youth and start pulling back on those reins. The chaos only continues as long as the wise among us allow it to. We need to stop being lazy and start speaking out against the clearly bad ideas that our youth is coming up with. We also need to start speaking out against those elders who never had the benefit of being guided by the wise and are continuing to push bad philosophies.

What do you think about the wisdom of those who came before? Do they have lessons we can learn, or should we go our own way? Sometimes new isn’t always better, and learning from the past is an important part of moving into the future. It is up to those who came before to temper the youth so we can find the right balance between what is new and what is good for us.

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Should Your Dreams Be Realistic?

Life has taught me that you can’t always get what you want. There is even a very popular song that states just that. Most of the time we can get what we need, as the song continues, but the yearnings of our hearts often go unanswered. Many of us spend a large portion of our lives pursuing things that will never happen, and we can become frustrated and defeated when those things we want so badly always seem out of reach.

For myself, I’ve always had dreams that are outside of what is conventionally desirable by most people. I’ve never been a big fan of doing what everyone else is doing. This is partly because I have a creative streak that makes me want to do things that just aren’t normal compared to the general public, but also because doing things that most other people aren’t interested in ensures that I’m not crowded when I’m doing them. There’s a bit of solitude when your hobbies are unusual, and I like that sometimes.

One of these is sailing around the world. My major dream at the moment is figuring out how to get into a sailboat large enough for me and my family to set sail and see the world. This requires two things: the right boat and a job that allows me to freely move around. Each of these by themselves is a tall order, but put together they are quite a big deal to figure out. At this early stage it feels like it will be nearly impossible to make both happen in such a way that allows me to get out on the water and see the world the way I’m hoping to.

The point of dreams isn’t the fulfillment of those dreams, however, but the hope that we glean from pursuing those dreams. It is by default a hopeful spirit who has a vision for their future in which they have developed a goal and a potential plan to get there. Regardless of whether the plan works or not, simply having a dream at all is what drives us forward through life. If we didn’t dream, there would be no reason left to continue breathing. It is the future that calls us; the potential of what might be.

Unrealistic dreams are the reason why our world is the way that it is today. At one point it seemed ludicrous that we would be able to fly around the world in less than a day, but many people came together behind the unrealistic dream of flight and made it happen. We moved into space the same way, dreaming of putting men in orbit and on the moon and beyond. One of the biggest milestones of human development will be nuclear fusion power, which we have recently learned may be commercially viable by 2030. The list is endless.

Human beings need a sense of hope nearly as much as we need to breathe. It is that hope that gives us the will to get out of bed every day, looking forward to a time when we achieve something we’ve been working toward for a long time. The completion of long term goals is far more rewarding than the rapid fire satiation of random whims, and the joy that stems from it is far greater than we can experience through the daily grind that most of us live through.

My hope is to escape the cookie cutter pattern that my life has been shaped into and break free from the daily grind that most of us accept as necessary. I believe there is a set of circumstances that will allow me to attain the lifestyle I hope to move into, and all it requires is following the dream and being willing to accept the costs that come with it. In the end, all we can do is what we can do, but it is never unreasonable to continue hoping for those things that will give us joy.

What do you think about dreams? Do you ignore them in favor of more realistic goals, or do you pursue them with all your energy? How do you get from where you are today into the dream you’ve always kept? Dreaming may be one of the most important things that human beings do, and if we can hold onto those dreams and make solid plans to get there, more of us can find the joy we’ve been missing.

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