Thursday, May 26, 2011

Keeping it Real

I have selfish reasons for wanting you to be satisfied with the life you're living. It’s my belief system that the world is a better place when its inhabitants are content and fulfilled. Especially because we all affect this world and the people in it: our ideas spread like wildfire and our actions affect the ecosystem. I think the old adage, “To each his own” should be tweaked to “To each his own  and then some.”  

We play two roles, first as individuals and second as a part of the collective. I think it’s important to balance both perspectives and find harmony between the two. So in other words, determine our own paths as individuals with regard to how we impact the rest of the world. I think it starts with figuring out what “life satisfaction” means, and then figuring out the way to live a fulfilled life while making the rest of the world happy too.

Here’s a living breathing example. Klauus Thymann is a photographer who keeps it real—no digital retouching, no photo shopping. He says: “I’m a fashion photographer, but I won’t photograph girls who are too skinny or who look too young. You have to recognize you’re part of an opinion-making machine.”

I love this for more than a few reasons:
1.       He’s being conscientious about his values and refuses to sellout in order to make it big in the fashion industry. He’s taking a risk, but to him it’s a risk worth taking.
2.       He inspires me and others to re-think current views on beauty and the unhealthy state of the “opinion-making machine.” It is not okay to pressure models into anorexia, and look down upon normal sized women. Opinion-making machines are created, and can also be destroyed.

So who determines the status quo anyway? The most common way isn’t necessarily the right way, but it  starts with each of us. If we can all push ourselves to find win/win situations—ways to make yourself happy and people across the planet happy as well—then you have beaten the zero-sum game. You can be confident in yourself, your values, and your decisions regardless of the critics. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Self reflection

Americans are busy. We’re busy because of our over-scheduled, hyper-networked lives. We’re under constant pressure to get things done and waging a constant war with ADD.

Tell me, what’s difference between being busy and being burned out?

I’m slowly learning that when I neglect what’s brewing inside, everything outside suffers. I’m not just talking about my productivity, but the stuff that really matters—like relationships, self-confidence and health.

Do we ever take the time to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “What the hell are my values, what are my emotional, material and intellectual needs?”  I’m talking about dropping the charade and looking past what we’ve been conditioned to believe. I’m talking about a good reckoning with the self.  

For many of us, this is easier said than done. And then when I think I've got it all figured out, I have to work hard to remind myself. 

There are so many distractions...I find it hard to focus on what I call my values (other may call it the spirit, the qi, the self). Call it whatever you want, but if we don't acknowledge it and explore it, we won't live our lives as fully as possible.

Our belief systems and our thoughts ultimately dictate our actions, priorities and how we live our lives. So if we suppress our thoughts or emotions (or even worse never figure out our belief systems in the first place) then what kind of life can we lead? Or should I say…whose life are we leading?

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”  - Ralph Waldo Emerson