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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Your Demons Are Holding You Back

We all have things inside us that cause us to act in ways that we would never accept from someone else. No one likes it when they are treated with contempt or impatience or anger. Our natural response to these kinds of attitudes is to become defensive and to respond in kind. Most of us have learned to not overreact to such behavior, but few of us have learned to control that behavior when it comes from us in the first place.

It is a difficult thing to really look at yourself and see all the things inside you that cause you to do things that push people away. Most of it is selfishness. We all want certain things and society has taught us that we deserve them, regardless of what our situation is or who is in our lives that we feel should be providing them for us. Some of us believe this so strongly that we become angry when we aren’t getting what we want, and many times we don’t even realize the behavior it sparks, even after it has already happened.

Relationships are extremely hard, and have been made more so in our modern world of artificial romance. An upbringing in the movie theater has taught us that love is supposed to be constant passion and closeness and adventure. The reality is that love is sacrifice and hard work. Real relationships aren’t about making each other feel good; it’s about making positive contributions to each other so that you’re both better off than you would be on your own.

It becomes extremely difficult to adopt this mindset if you have issues from your past that weighs down on your ability to accept disappointment. The truth is that relationships are full of disappointment, because you’re dealing with a flawed human being who has their own desires and sometimes they get in the way of providing you with what you want. It is our past that sets the foundation for who we are in the present, and if we haven’t repaired the cracks in that foundation we will constantly be struggling to maintain balance.

Relationships will never be perfect, because they are between two imperfect people. No matter how much we wish we could wave a magic wand and get the other person to act the way we wish they would, the reality is that love is more about accepting a person for who they are than for them to fulfill our personal desires. The alternative is spending our lives moving from person to person hoping to find “the one”, and never really finding happiness or contentment because there is simply no such thing as “the one”. Even the best matches will always have a lot of compromise required to make it work.

Having said all of this, some of us have major demons from our past that are reaching into our present and causing us to fail in our relationships with others. I know my personal issues involve an inability to trust others, and it takes a long time for me to truly accept and feel accepted by others. It stems from an upbringing that wasn’t horrible, but also not conducive to open relationships, as well as a significant portion of my life spent in the extremely controlled lifestyle that is the military, and then finally an entire life spent in the fantasy world of video games. This, combined with my general laziness, causes a lot of problems in all of my relationships.

Of course, my problem is fairly prevalent amongst men my age and younger these days, but it certainly isn’t the only problem that people deal with. For some it’s addiction, and that is an extremely hard cycle to break. Others have emotional needs that aren’t being met, with powerful urges that make them impossible to satiate caused by injuries from the past. Some people simply never had to think about anyone but themselves, and are incapable of seeing things from another person’s point of view. Whatever it is, we all have some demon from our past that is mucking things up for the present and future.

I wish there was some magic phrase I could utter that would banish that demon for all of us, but unfortunately it just doesn’t work that way. Fighting off this terrible enemy is about as hard as anything we’ll ever have to do in life. It’s nearly impossible to do it alone, and that’s why we need things like faith, therapy and a solid group of friends that can prop us up when we are feeling too weak to fight on. When we try to do it on our own, it only gets worse.

If you are dealing with personal issues and can’t seem to find a way past them, I encourage you to seek therapy in some form or another. Even if it isn’t a professional in an office, simply sharing your problems with another person can be extremely helpful. Most of the time we hold our issues inside and it isn’t until after we finally put them out there with another person that we finally feel better about things. Take the time and find someone you can share you problems with. If you do, you’ll find it starts becoming much easier to fight off the demon, and the people you care about will be just as better off as you.

What do you think about dealing with the past? Have you fought your demons and overcome them, or do you still struggle to live with the things that shaped you? What can you do today to start turning the tide of the battle and become a better person for the people you care about? Life is hard, and relationships are harder. Share the load with someone else and start seeing how your life can be so much better than you ever thought.

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Finding Hope in a Hopeless World

I’ve always been told that I’m a pessimist. My reaction to events tend to be very pragmatic, and I think this comes off as being negative because most of the time my assumption is that things just aren’t going to work out if it’s something that is out of the ordinary or outside of what I can reasonably do on my own. I always thought of myself as a “realist”, but apparently this way of thinking is just pessimism in disguise. I suppose so.

Previous articles have looked at how I have this huge blank wall in front of me regarding my work life and the future of my lifestyle in general. The job situation is completely out of my control, as I just have to hope for the right opportunity to come along before my current job runs out in a couple of months. My hope is to find something that is a remote position that I can do over the internet, preferably without a real time component. I would love to find something that allows me to go off and work on something on my own time and just get it in by the deadline. I’m not a fan of the “be on call for me” position.

On another facet of my life, I’ve moved away from my plans to use my travel trailer to see the country and I’m shifting back to my first goal: getting into a sailboat and seeing the world. My first three passions are flying, sailing, and motorcycle riding. I’ve had a good fifteen years of riding and I’ll never lose the bug for that, but I’ve had my fill for now. Flying is way too expensive to do on a regular basis at my income level, and though I was in a professional pilot program a few years ago, I had to give it up for personal reasons. That leaves sailing, and I yearn to get out on the water, see far away places, and enjoy day after day away from the craziness of the world.

The purpose of this article is to point out that I have absolutely no reason to believe that any of this is going to happen for me, yet I hold out hope in my heart that somehow things will work out. Many of you reading this probably don’t believe in God, and that’s fine. I don’t believe in forcing my worldview on others, and the Bible calls us to knock at the door, not bust it down. I bring it up because sailing has been one of the constant things in my life that has always been there, even when I was a child.

I remember the early years of my life and how I loved being on the water. My biological father had a sub-thirty foot sailboat that we took out on a fairly regular basis. Most of the time it was in one of the lakes in South Carolina that was owned by the Navy, as he served on nuclear submarines for most of his career. I loved every minute of it, even the distinct memory I have of feeling terror as I watched a huge shape emerge from the depths and then disappear back into the dark water. I was told it was a catfish, which in that lake could be several feet long and over a hundred pounds! One of the craziest memories I have was when we got caught in a big storm and the boat was pitching over waves; my mom was terrified and we were too, but I remember it for the adventure it was.

I yearn to go back to that and have my own adventures. My personality is very introverted, probably because of the life experiences I’ve had so far. I grew up in a very emotionally stunted household and my teen years were filled with video games and internet browsing. The only real social interaction I had was in the high school band program, as our marching band was one of the best in the state. My year in college was somewhat better, but I still kept my personality close.

One would think that the Marine Corps would have been what got me out of my shell, and to some extent it did. Public speaking is no longer an issue for me, and I’m pretty confident when I take up a challenge that I’ll be able to get it done to some degree. Obviously I’m not all that scared of people hurting me, given the training I’ve received, and I walk with confidence out in public. The Marine Corps gave me quite a lot, and I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to go through it.

Still, the biggest problem I continue to deal with is my social introversion. I can fake my way through a gathering and do the “extrovert” thing for a while, but it’s exhausting and I’m constantly waiting for it to be over so I can get back to the peace and quiet of solitude. Friends are few and far between for me, usually one good friend at a time, if any. There are a few guys from the Marine Corps years that will always be “pick up where we left off” guys, but making new friends is hard for me.

I bring all this up because I was having a conversation with a relative of mine and she told me that travel is an “extrovert” thing. I can’t help but agree, but for my part it is the solitude in between the “extrovert things” that I most look forward to. Cabin fever actually is a thing for me, despite my introversion, and it seems to me that after several days or weeks on the water without seeing people will get me in the mood for getting into social interactions. I already feel it sometimes in my daily life when I’m home alone for any length of time.

That was quite a long tangent, but I felt it necessary to share a bit about me and my life and my hope for the future, because the point of this article is sharing how to find hope in what appears to be a hopeless situation. You can see that there is a lot of desire in my heart to move into a new phase of my life, and while I have absolutely no reason to believe that it will actually happen, I still hold onto the hope that it is somehow going to happen for me. So many things are changing for me right now, and sometimes it feels like I’m being lined up to finally do something I’ve always wanted to do.

The great thing about hope is that no matter what is happening in your life, you can always look forward to the future and know that there is a chance that the things you’ve always wanted will be there. It may not be money or fame or whatever thing that society pushes on us as what we should want, but it could be something as simple as getting on a boat and living life in a way you never thought possible before. We can’t live without hope, and even in the darkest hours that tiny candle of positivity can get us through to the other side. Sometimes all you can do is have faith.

What do you think about hope? Do you find yourself in a situation you yearn to get free from? What would it take to get you from where you are now into the new life you want to live? We can always find hope in our situations, and life is always ready to make major shifts to change into something completely different. If we keep our eyes on the future and watch for those changes, we can be ready for them and make the most of it.

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Living in a Long Winded World as a Get to the Point Person

As I continue to write on this blog, I have been conducting research on ways to get more traffic to my site with the goal being to pull in a big enough audience to begin monetizing the site. It’s a lot harder than one would think it would be because of the way the search algorithms work, so unless you have an active audience that shares your content, you have to figure out ways of manipulating your content to get your articles to be looked at more than those who just write what they want. This is something I will struggle with for a long time because I don’t want to compromise the way I write to accommodate technology, but you can’t really get anywhere if you don’t.

One of the factors that has consistently come up in my research has been that longer articles tend to do better than shorter ones. Some of the recommendations go as high as 1,500 words per article, and while I can certainly extend my articles out that far, it just seems overly pedantic to do so. I’ve always felt that it was ridiculous to use ten words when five would do, and worrying about word count rather than focusing on the topic takes away from the quality in my opinion.

I previous wrote about writing for shorter attention spans, and the idea for that article came after I read a few paragraphs of an article on a subject I’m actually interested in and gave up on it because they just wouldn’t get to the point. The entire thing felt bloated and unwieldy, and as I sat there mucking my way through the unnecessary filler, all I could think was why am I still reading this? It seemed to me that most people are like this, and we could all benefit from writers who cut their content down to the bare essentials and convey only the words necessary to make their point.

This obvious is in contradiction to the statistics, however. Longer and more wordy posts apparently do significantly better than shorter posts that are more succinct. I try to keep my posts between eight and ten paragraphs, and I try to keep those paragraphs between three and five sentences, and I’ve noticed that hitting 1,500 words within those constraints is very difficult without writing huge, nearly run on sentences. Who wants to read that? I certainly don’t. I can’t even get through the first three paragraphs if the point of the article doesn’t surface by then.

It is one of the biggest frustrations in my life that my personality just doesn’t click with the way that the world works. I am a very direct, get to the point kind of person living in a world where everyone wants to dance around the subject hoping to impress you, or at least not offend you. This unfortunately has the effect of causing me to struggle to make it in situations where others seem to flourish. I am a contradictory person, and I hate conforming to the ways of others. It is difficult to be this kind of person when trying to use a system that thrives on conformity.

All this being said, while sometimes you just have to learn to change your ways to accommodate the things you need to do to make it, I prefer to stick to my short and sweet approach to writing. I could start adding extra superfluous paragraphs and use flowery language trying to catch up to the algorithms, but I just don’t want to do that. It isn’t my style, and my writing will suffer trying to be someone that I’m not. I can only hope that with enough time, enough people will come across this blog and find it valuable enough to share with others. Word of mouth can be almost as good as SEO optimization.

The point of this post is partly to lament my struggles with the internet, but also to tell you that you should always stick to who you are. Adapting yourself to meet the expectations of others, even if it means you might succeed, isn’t being true to yourself. It is better to have smaller success doing what makes you you than to sacrifice what makes you great to appease a wider audience. You might make more money, but you won’t be as happy. Fulfillment is in what we do and how we do it, not how much money it makes us.

What do you think about being who you are? Do you like this tendency to drone on in today’s articles, or do you value someone who just get’s to the point? Would you support that person if you knew that they wouldn’t make it otherwise? We tend to think that quality is everything, but sometimes you can be really good at what you do and still never get noticed. Let’s not leave it up to the system to decide what is valuable. With a little bit of effort, we can lift up those whose work we respect and encourage them to do their best work regardless of algorithms.

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Debt: Learning to Wait for What You Want

This has been by far the biggest struggle of my life. Growing up in a society that pushes the idea that you deserve everything and you should have it all right now, it has been nearly impossible for me to simply wait until I can afford things to acquire them. The call of awesome things is so strong and so easy to get the wrong way that nearly all of us succumb to one of the most nefarious financial tools ever created: credit.

How much money have we wasted in interest charges over the course of our lives? I know that I have spent far more than market value for many of the things I’ve owned due to interest charges. At the time it always seems like a fair trade: pay a little more to get what I want right now. This emotional decision has cost me so much money over the years, and when I think back on it I wonder how much more I could have right now if I had been able to just wait to pay cash for things.

Another thing we don’t think about, in addition to paying more, is the fact that we are locking ourselves into a payment agreement for several years, if not decades. Even something as simple as a car loan typically takes five or more years to pay off these days, and once we sign that piece of paper we are obligated to hundreds of payments regardless of how our life circumstances or preferences may change. After the agreement has been made, the bank usually has no further interest in your feelings and are solely concerned with collecting their payments from you.

This is a problem if you have a change of heart at some point during this process. Once you lock yourself into an agreement, you options immediately become more limited because you have this obligated monthly payment. I have had many times where I regretted purchasing something large because I wanted to make a change, but I simply couldn’t afford to because I owed more for something than it was worth and couldn’t trade or sell it.

I find myself in this position right now with my travel trailer. My primary dream has always been to live on a sailboat and cruise the world, and I’m at the point now where I would love to buy a very cheap one with cash and then live on it while fix it up over time, but I owe far more my RV than I could reasonably sell it for, so instead of being able to shift gears into a boat I’m forced to stay in my current situation until I can figure a way out of it.

The advantage of experience is that we learn lessons that we aren’t equipped to understand when we’re young. What isn’t so good is that it takes us making these mistakes over and over again before we finally get over ourselves enough to learn from them. After many years of working and spending, I have finally reached the place where just the thought of borrowing money makes me shudder. My goal is to become debt free and remain that way. I just don’t need these things so badly anymore that I’m willing to lock myself into a situation to get them.

Now for the political part: our country suffers from exactly the same problem. We feel an urgent need to spend more than we make. In our desire to push this grand social agenda that many in our government espouse, we have borrowed trillions of dollars against our future to secure things that we are too impatient to wait for today. We justify this by telling ourselves that we are “saving lives”, but the truth is that we are simply trading lives today for our children’s lives tomorrow. There will be a reckoning when we finally borrow so much that it becomes clear we’ll never be able to pay it back, and it will be they who suffer for it.

There is a lot of talk about “reducing the deficit” in our budget, but this is an example of our unwillingness to do what is necessary. A reduction of our deficit simply reduces the rate at which we borrow money. It means we’re still spending more than we make and increasing how much we owe. The goal should be getting to a budgetary surplus so we can start paying back the money we owe, not reducing how much we borrow, but that would require we give up our pet projects and no one seems willing to do that.

Our national debt crisis will end at some point in the future, but the question is how will it happen? My gut tells me that we are too selfish and inconsiderate to set aside our pride and start making smart financial decisions to turn back the tide. Instead, we will continue borrowing and borrowing until our financial system totally collapses and we no longer have any credibility in the world. I shudder to think what things will be like then.

How do you feel about debt? Have you mastered your control of it, or do you live like most of us do? What about our government? How much longer do you think we can last this way? Credit always feels like this amazing solution to get what we want, but we never see the other side of this incredibly sharp double-edged sword. If we want to have any chance of a brighter future, we must learn to avoid this insidious tool whenever possible.

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Learning to Be Content with What You Have

We live in a society that teaches us that we need to be constantly striving for the next level. Social media convinces us that there are so many people who have it better than we do, and as we watch these fake lives play out before us we start to jealously crave what other people have. This unhealthy desire forces us out of a mental state where we can find peace and contentment and casts us down into a pit of despair and self loathing.

It is incredibly hard to ignore the success of others. Part of our biological make up is designed to compare and contrast our status with that of the people who surround us. This is mostly a primal urge to not only pass our genetic information on to the next generation, but also to wipe out the competition. It’s in the very building blocks of who we are to want to have a leg up on the people around us.

Aside from biology, our social structure is predicated on status. We have a natural adulation for people who have found a way to become successful at the things we find meaningful. While this usually generates genuine admiration, there will always be a small part of us that resents such people because we wonder why they were able to do it and not us. Why should they be so successful while we toil at the bottom of the food chain?

The most interesting part to me about all of this is not the jealousy of those who haven’t made it, however, but the attitude of dissatisfaction that even very successful people can impose upon themselves. There is a part of us that has a certain end goal in mind, and as long as we haven’t reached that point we feel as if we simply haven’t made it. We look at what we have and it just isn’t good enough, no matter how much money we might make or how well other people might see us.

The world today is filled with angst. Most of it is probably justified, but a lot of it is simply an inability to be content with what we already have. All we can see is our dreams for the future and that our lives today don’t match that yet. Rather than be grateful for what we have accomplished so far, we struggle to find happiness in the present because of our yearning for the future.

This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t continue pushing toward the next step in our lives. Being content with what we have doesn’t have to mean that we stop trying to move forward. It simply means that we don’t allow what we haven’t earned yet to become a weight we carry on our shoulders. We look at what we have and allow ourselves to be proud of it, and make a rational decision to continue down the path.

Our lives have many facets that we have to manage all at once, and one of them is learning to be happy. It isn’t a feeling that we have and try to hold onto, but a state of mind that we have to cultivate and incorporate into who we are. Searching for a feeling will usually result in disappointment, but a disciplined system of choosing to be happy about your life can make all the difference in the world. You’ll never feel happy all the time, but your life can be happy if you choose it.

Perhaps the trick is simply learning to be happy with what you have before you try to move on to the next level. If we create a process where we don’t allow ourselves to move on until we find peace and contentment with where we are, it becomes much more likely that we will experience that feeling of happiness far more often because we are removing that feeling of failure that always seems to hang around. By fully completing one step before moving onto the next, we can be even more proud of what we accomplished because there is no baggage from the past weighing us down.

In the end, though, happiness is simply a choice. You can’t always help how you feel, but you can control how you think. When you sit down and decide that you’re not going to allow dissatisfaction to become a major influence in your life, you stand a much better chance of staving off the kind of depression that so many of us struggle with every day. Take a hard look at what you have accomplished and decide if it’s really as bad as your feelings are telling you it is. The likelihood is that you’ll be very surprised at how you really feel.

What do you think about being content? Is it a way of giving up, or can it help you to find a better life? What things in your life do you need to just be happy about? If we can learn to accept our accomplishments for what they are, we stand a much better chance of avoiding so many of the unnecessary problems we deal with. All we have to do is learn to change our frame of reference, and things can be so much better.

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You Can Learn to Live With Your Humiliations

It is probably the most uncomfortable feeling we can ever experience. We dread any situation in which it might occur. There are many times that we avoid something entirely because we so afraid it might happen that we become physically sick at the thought of it. It comes in many forms, and we deal with it on a regular basis, even if if we have the option not to. When it comes to myriad emotions we experience in our lives, few things are worse than being humiliated.

For many, the fear of public speaking stems from this very emotion. The idea of getting up in front of a large group of people and saying or doing something that makes us look stupid is a terrifying prospect. This is a normal fear that is not unwarranted because the danger is very real. Even if you are highly prepared, a single mistake can ruin the entire deal. Anything that is very public that goes wrong is a visible and quantifiable blow to our self image.

Even something as physically removed as this blog imparts a certain fair of humiliation. I have chosen to use an alias for this forum because I prefer to maintain a certain level of anonymity, but there is still a fear of someone pointing out some flaw in my posts that would lead to an uncomfortable feeling. My desire to create a reputable brand is under constant pressure from a desire to avoid public embarrassment, even if it’s just for my blog and not me personally.

But what about the other forms of humiliation that are more private? There are many things in our lives that are just as humiliating that we deal with in a much less dramatic way. These are the things in our lives that we are forced to live with because our situations demand it. We usually have a choice to suffer through the humiliation, but because of our circumstances we elect to live through it because the other choice would be far worse.

For myself, the biggest example of this is my work life. For most of my time in the work force, I have been required to do things that I find degrading because they either weren’t part of my original employment agreement, or were tasks of personal servitude that I had to put up with because I needed my job. These sorts of things continue to this day and are one of the primary reasons I started this blog. In my desire to escape from traditional employment relationships, I hope to turn this into my own self-employment opportunity. Until that happens, however, I will be forced to live with the daily humiliation of being at the beck and call of an employer who sees me as nothing more than a servant.

I am certainly not the only person who deals with this issue. We all have situations in our lives that are privately humiliating. People in our lives impose upon us for something they want or need, and to keep our situation from getting worse we choose to submit to those things. Though we understand that the cost of that humiliation is typically less than the cost of the alternative, we can’t help but be upset by the fact that we had to feel that way in the first place.

How do we deal with the effects of this private hell we sometimes have to live with? Part of is is recognizing it for what it is. Our natural reaction is to become angry, and it’s ok to feel that way at first, but at some point we have to look at what is happening to us and recognize the objective facts about the situation. When we look at the cost of each option and realize that we chose the least of all evils by accepting that feeling, it becomes easier to live with.

Another part of it is finding ways to be hopeful for the future. If you can start positioning yourself to get out of the situation, it become a bit easier to live with it because you know there is a definite end to it at some point in the near future. Rather than just living with it and risking your attitude degrading to the point that things just blow up, start looking for other opportunities. Even the search itself can make you feel better, even if you aren’t finding success in it.

Lastly, get support from friends and family. They may not be able to fix the situation for you, but just sharing your issues can be very helpful. I tend to be a loner and hold my issues inside, but when I’m able to share my problems with my partner I usually feel much better. A burden shared makes the weight feel so much lighter. It takes little to hear someone else’s problems, but it makes all the difference to them.

How do you deal with humiliation? What areas of your life do you regularly experience this emotion? Are there things you can do to make your situation better today? If we can learn to understand this feeling better and integrate it into our makeup, we can have a much happier life, even if our circumstances aren’t getting any better. Share your story with others and let us share the burdens together.

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How Do You Control Your Anger?

Like many of my posts, the impetus for writing today comes from something that happened this morning. A task was dropped in my lap that is not only not part of my job, but also requires a great deal of physical labor that is not part of my job description. This has happened several times in the past, and I implemented a system to mitigate most of the physical labor part, but still the people I work with didn’t care enough to bother with it and just did what was convenient for them.

I tend to be a very angry person when I get frustrated. My initial reaction to any situation I don’t like is to have that surge of blood in my veins and a desire to shout at whoever or whatever is making me upset. In my younger days, this feeling resulted in things like broken keyboards and even a hole in the wall once. But now that I’m older and wiser, I’ve learned to control this rage even though I still feel it just as strongly inside.

This is one of the hallmarks of wisdom. When you are young, you aren’t able to see more than just what is happening in front of you. The consequences of life haven’t set in on you yet and you don’t truly understand how your actions might have lasting consequences. Luckily for us, our time of youth has a lot more room for error and those mistakes we make early on tend to be forgiven a lot easier than later in life.

So, like I’ve learned to do over the years, I will complete this task assigned to me, not because I have no choice, but because refusing to do it would make me much worse off than I am right now. Sometimes we have to just accept the things we can’t change and just push through it. We would like to think that the right thing should always happen, but as we age and gain more experience we start to understand that life just happens.

How do we do this? The reality is that you have to incorporate discipline as part of your cognitive makeup. There is no easy out when it comes to dealing with your anger. You learn it slowly over time, with each occurrence of anger taking less and less time to get over until you finally get to the point where it still might bother you, but you don’t allow your emotions to control your behavior. This is one of those things where hard work is required. There is no other way.

One of the things that I’ve learned along the way that I want to pass on to those of you who read this blog is that unless you get extremely lucky and win the lottery or something, everything good in your life is going to require effort on your part. We wish it could just be handed to us, but that isn’t the way it works. The reality is that anything we’re given isn’t nearly as appreciated as something that we’ve earned, and emotional development is the same way.

The good thing is that as you work on yourself in one area, that disciplines branches out into the other areas of your life that you struggle with. Simply working on yourself provides compounding results. As you work on discipline, you are not only learning to control your anger, but you are also working on perseverance, patience, and several other aspects of yourself that probably need attention. Of the many things you can put your effort into, self improvement provides the highest return on investment.

How do you feel about anger? Do you just blow up at people, or have you learned to control it? Have you changed over the years, or do you still react like you did when you were younger? Learning to control our emotions is a critical part of being an adult, and once we can learn to do that we stand a much better chance of reaching the other goals in our lives. Anger can be a huge roadblock, but with a little practice and discipline we can overcome it.

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