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Life’s Little Problem – Always Full, Never Complete

Life’s Little Problem – Always Full, Never Complete

Sometimes I don’t understand what my problem is; I always just want something more from life. I don’t know what I want and I don’t know why I want it, but I’m never really satisfied, not for long anyway. It’s like I’m frantically rushing to catch life’s flight, afraid that I’ll miss it, but I don’t really know what flight is it that I need to catch and I don’t know which airport it takes off from!

This need for more starts pretty early. In school it’s the marks –should be higher than the next guy, in college it’s the looks – should be better than the next guy, at work it’s the compensation package – should be fatter than the next guy. Life as a whole, well, has to be fuller than the next guy. Has to be at that maximum level of everything, but somehow, even when you reach that maximum, you start worrying about a new maximum, it doesn’t end.

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Sure, wanting more is a good thing, ambition makes the world progress, but why is there always this feeling of discontentment? Striving for the best is great, but why does it come with a constant restlessness and fear of missing out?

Why is life always so full, but never fully complete?

You know who is complete? A 5 year old child, just take a look at one – raucous  screaming, clothes in disarray, dirt on the face, running about stepping on people’s toes and making them jump (my toes still hurt from the one who stepped on mine today). So effortlessly complete. Doesn’t need to get anything, doesn’t need to be anyone. We were all there at a point in time, and then somewhere between 5 and 15, we became incomplete.

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We were taught that we need to do extra, to achieve extra, to stay ahead – but even as we learnt ambition, no one seems to have noticed that we also learnt that ‘we are not enough’. The more we learnt about all the things we needed to do and be, we also unlearnt how to love ourselves as we are. Even as we learnt to be at the top of everything, we forgot how to accept ourselves when we are not at the top.

We all learnt social etiquette, but we never learnt how to treat our own selves

I wonder, among all the math lessons we were taught, why didn’t they knock off one of those barely survivable trigonometry lessons and teach us how to love ourselves. Honestly, we need to spend some time on this one – ‘How to love the person you will spend the rest of your life with’ – guess who – YOU!

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People write a hundred odes to unconditional undying love for partners, for parents, for children, for friends, for animals – why not an ode to unconditional self love. We celebrate the fact that we can love the people in our lives irrespective of their flaws but we cannot even bring ourselves to accept our own flaws…leave alone love ourselves despite them. Of the hours and hours we spend obsessing over whether ‘XYZ’ likes us, we don’t even dedicate a minute to asking whether we like ourselves.

If we were to take all the adults on earth and give them a test on self acceptance and love – more than half the world would be sitting in detention trying to make up credit for the subject they just flunked!

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As long as we are failing at that subject, no matter how much we stuff our life and make it overflow with success and social recognition, our discontentment and need for more will not go. We will keep looking for that external validation – something out there that will help us feel like we have done everything we need to do, proven everything that we need to prove. Well, there is nothing out there and we know it. If in our heads we are not good enough, we will never feel good enough. One could win the Nobel Prize and feel great for a few days until that voice in the head starts whining again – do extra, achieve extra, stay ahead – you are not good enough!

The fact is simple enough – all we need, to be complete, is a little bit of love, to give to ourselves. A little acceptance for being average, even as we strive for the best. A little kindness towards our own failures even as we pursue success. All it needs really, is to look in the mirror every once in a while and say “Well lousy fellow, you need to stop lazing around, you need to stop messing up, you really need to stop skipping gym and eating those donuts – and – I love you.”

Featured photo credit: www.consciouslifestylemag.com via consciouslifestylemag.com

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Last Updated on November 5, 2019

How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

1. Always Have a Book

It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

3. Get More Intellectual Friends

Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

4. Guided Thinking

Albert Einstein once said,

“Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

5. Put it Into Practice

Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

6. Teach Others

You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

7. Clean Your Input

Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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8. Learn in Groups

Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

9. Unlearn Assumptions

You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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11. Start a Project

Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

12. Follow Your Intuition

Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

13. The Morning Fifteen

Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

14. Reap the Rewards

Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

15. Make Learning a Priority

Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

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Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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