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5 Valuable Lessons Only Learned From Comic Books

5 Valuable Lessons Only Learned From Comic Books
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I love comic books. I’ve loved them since I was five years old. Over the years, I have often wondered what it is about them that I enjoy so much. I have thought about it for days, weeks, and months without ever finding the answer. Recently, I sat down to read one of my favorites, and while I was reading, it hit me. Suddenly, I knew exactly what it is that I enjoy so much. To my surprise, there isn’t any one character or theme that explains it. It is actually because of the subliminal messages that can be found buried in their pages.

Tough topics

Topics like racism, drug and alcohol abuse, and sexism are too often considered taboo. In that case, is a person who suffers from any one of these meant to suffer alone? The comic industry doesn’t think so, and over the years it has done an admirable job of speaking up. They have created entire story arcs designed help raise awareness for each of the above problems.

Because of the unique platform comic books have, you and I are able to see life from different viewpoints.

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Real-world issues

Comic books have become an outlet for writers and artists to get their opinions into the market. Real-world issues are highlighted throughout their pages, and it is the comic books that aren’t afraid of these topics that have become the most sought after and memorable comics in history. Just off the top of my head, I can think of references in comic books to the Suez crisis, PETA, buried landmines, world hunger, safe sex, and feminism.

Comics do what most of the world can’t. While the world struggles to find a politically correct way to bring these issues to the forefront, comic book writers are thinking of the next topic to highlight. Unlike most platforms, the comic industry does not fear the implications of its actions, and so comic books say what the world needs to hear.

Take note and don’t be afraid to speak up.

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Everybody has problems

On your worst day, you aren’t the only one struggling. Peter Parker is a teenager trying to find his place in the world, all while dealing with the everyday crises that are involved in being Spider-Man. Clark Kent is a man with two very different identities. As Superman, he must cope with being the epitome of all that is good, while as Clark, he juggles his normal life.

Just like Peter and Clark, you are forced to juggle two very different worlds: your professional life and your personal life. Yes, it is hard and yes, it can be overwhelming. Remember this: people all over this planet live on next to nothing, barely able to scrape by. They sometimes go days without water and even longer without food.

No matter how hard you perceive your life to be, someone, somewhere is much worse off.

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You can make a difference

We all want to change the world, but so very few of us do. While most think that changing the world is impossible, the ones who actually create change understand that anything is possible. The question is, “How?”

Take some time to figure out what your definition of “world” is. Is it your street? Neighborhood? City? Country? The entire planet? And what change do you want to create? Whatever it is, define it. Write it down, and repeat it to yourself daily. From there, equip yourself with the knowledge, people, and resources to make it happen. It isn’t as hard as you might think.

If Superman can make Metropolis a better place, you can make your world a better place too.

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Never give up

C.S. Lewis famously said, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” Comic book heroes suffer hardships more than any other characters in history. They lose allies, battles, and their health, all while creating a better world. Heed that lesson. Learn from it. A future… your future is worth fighting for.

When life knocks you down, get right back up and continue moving.

Featured photo credit: Flickr.com via flickr.com

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Joel a Scott

Writer/Blogger

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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