Embrace your Flaws

Nothing is perfect.

All creatures have flaws. I feel like too often we see our flaws as weakness and we are much more able to use our own flaws against us than anyone else is. 

But back to my opening statement. We aren't perfect. We need to expect that we are going to have a few flaws. I think that by noticing them and accepting them we are liberated from them. We are now living with them instead of them being pieces of tarnish that we are constantly trying to slough off. We are now taking responsibility for them and their power over us is lesser.

But what are flaws anyways? I think they are subjective. What we feel to be a flaw in ourselves another person might find endearing. Some flaws are just a part of human nature. 

Here are some things that I have identified  as my flaws. 
  1. I can tend to worry unwarrantably. 
  2. I can tend to be over cautious when I truly don't want to be. 
  3. I can complain.
  4. I can take my parents for granted.
  5. I can lose perspective.
Will I always have these flaws? Maybe. Will I learn to move past them? Maybe. The basic fact is that I know they are there. The more you realize your flaws the more you can forgive yourself and the more you can give yourself a pass. 

I think there is a liberation in realizing and accepting your own vulnerabilities. People spend so much time trying to be perfect and it's fake and unrealistic. This is taking us too far from the real human experience. When we relax into the fact that we are vulnerable it makes life more genuine and interesting. 

The flaw of mine that bothers me the most. is the one about worry. As strongly as we try to relieve ourselves of it there are always times when worry can take grip of us again. It's just part of our nature. But I recently came across a passage in a book that offered me some good perspective on worry. 
When we are gripped by a worry, what do we do? We might struggle to shake it off. Or we try to convince ourselves that things are not the way they seem, failing which we seek to preoccupy ourselves with something else. How often do we embrace that worry, accept our situation, and try to understand it? Anguish maintains its power only as long as we allow it to intimidate us. By habitually regarding it as fearful and threatening, we fail to see the words etched on it by the Buddha: "Understand me." If we try to avoid a powerful wave looming above us on the beach, it will send us crashing into the sand and surf. But if we face it head-on and dive right into it, we discover only water. To understand a worry is to know it calmly and clearly for what it is: transient, contingent, and devoid of intrinsic identity. Where as to misunderstand it is to freeze it into something fixed, separate, and independent. Worrying about whether a friend likes us, for example, becomes an isolated thing rather than part of a process emerging from a stream of contingencies. This perception induces in turn a mood of feeling psychologically blocked, stuck, obsessed. The longer this undignified state persists, the more we become incapable of action. The challenge of the first truth is to act before habitual reactions incapacitate us.

This passage comes from the book Buddhism without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor and is clearly a Buddhist view on worry. Maybe somewhere in it something struck a chord with you, and if excessive worry is one of your flaws you may learn to quiet it. 

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Tip Tuesday: Small Moment of Joy

I've recently begun doing a simple thing that brings me a lot of joy. 

Most of the time our interactions with people working in the service industry (grocery store clerks, drive-up crews, store cashiers) are cordial at best. But they don't go deeper than that. We say our obligatory polite hello and how are you?

But when is the last time you tried to engage one of those strangers in a real conversation, even simple and short? Try to take some genuine energy and have a real interaction with them. If you're like me you'll quickly find the joy in it. 




Look them in the eye when you talk to them.
Mean it when you tell them to have a nice day. 
Use their name if they are wearing a name badge. 
Ask them how their shift has been so far. 
Ask them when they get to go home. 
Ask them if they have plans for after work. 
Offer them a genuine compliment. 

The key here is to mean it. Once you ask someone about their themselves they might quickly open up and shed the fake cashier robot mode. 

The result for me is happiness. I'm happy that I've connected with someone, even for a short time. And I'm happy to know that I could have been a break in their day and was different from the last 20 customers they served. I hope at least for a second I've made them feel important and listened to. 
 

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Tip Tuesday: Be Better in 59 Seconds

I recently finished a book titled 59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute, by Richard Wiseman. Not that I don't recommend the book to read, but I will sum up some of its points for you here. In the case of this book making changes to your life only requires minutes per day and most times only revolve around changing your thinking. Take a couple of these example here to better yourself today. 

1. Develop a gratitude attitude. People who write down three things they are grateful for or three things that went significantly well in the past week can raise their happiness for about a month. In turn they can become more optimistic about the future and improve physical health.  A second option is to take five minutes while lying in bed either in the morning or at night to go over those things you are grateful for in your head. It doesn't matter if they are the same things everyday, the fact that you are reiterating them won't let you take them for granted.

2. Be a giver. You can experience a small boost in happiness or perhaps a longer one by carrying out an act of kindness. Giving someone a compliment, giving a few dollars to someone in need, or buying a small gift for a friend shows your selflessness. 

3. Visualize yourself doing, not achieving.  People who visualize themselves taking practical steps to achieving their dreams instead of simply fantasizing about them are far more likely to succeed in getting there. That's because you are  fully understanding what it takes to achieve what you want. One technique to try is to adopt a third-person perspective of yourself. Visualize yourself as others see you, without your own self-judgement, you may 20% more likely to succeed. Most of the time we are harder on ourselves than others are on us.

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Tip Tuesday: Don't Let Thoughts Control You

Sometimes we can become consumed by thoughts. With our brains on nearly the entirety of our lives we have lots and lots to sift through. A study by the National Science Foundation estimates that humans have between 12,000 and 50,000 thoughts per day. It's hard to believe it's that many! But with all thought thoughts flowing through our heads, many of them unwelcome at any given time, it becomes difficult to focus at the task at hand or tougher, relax our mind completely. 

Some people really struggle with an influx of negative thoughts. And even positive people sometimes have a hard time pushing negative thoughts from their mind. When there comes a time that you want to become less consumed by the thoughts that are difficult to you or you want to relax your mind try these tips I've gathered from various sources. 

I recently began listening to a new podcast from NPR called Invisiblia. In one particular episode a man had become overcome by strange and unwelcome thoughts of killing his wife. In the show this man began working with a therapist that did a specific visualization exercise with him. She pulled out a book that she used as a physical representation of peoples' negative thoughts.  She explained that many people hold negative thoughts as the primary focus of their attention. She held a book to her clients forehead. After it was enough time to feel uncomfortable by thisthe therapist then moved the book to her clients lap. She explained that the thoughts were still there, they just were no longer the focus of attention. Give this a try yourself. 

What meditation is, is just learning how to displace thoughts so that they do not control you. This leads me to bringing Eckhart Tolle into this Tip Tuesday. I recently listened to a meditation of his which encouraged you to be aware of the thoughts flowing into your head, but if they are not useful at that time, just let them float on by. You may acknowledge that the thought was indeed there, don't try to fight it, just don't let your mind latch onto it.

I think so many people identify so much with their thoughts that when they have undesirable ones, they may feel negatively upon themselves. But as the Invisibilia podcast explains our thought are not us. There is no good reason to focus on the bad ones.

Listen to the full Invisibilia episode here.
Try the Eckhart Tolle meditation here.

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Life List Item #3: Visit a Desert












Usually on a day when I know I am checking off something from my life list, I get very excited. In this particular case, for whatever reason I didn't even realize I was checking something off until I was in the thick of it. 

Recently I took a short, but very full trip to San Diego, CA to visit my friend Tav. We decided we wanted to visit Joshua Tree National Park, a three hour drive from San Diego. We rented our car, packed some groceries and camping gear, and heading out.  Now I don't get to national parks often so I was excited at this possibility. I didn't know what else to expect besides a lot of Joshua trees, so everything that came my way were perfectly  executed unknown surprises. 

We planned on camping in one of the many camp grounds available in the  1,200 square mile park. We didn't realize we were entering the busiest time in Joshua Tree, so we entered completely full campgrounds. We found out that back country camping was available, but it meant a 1.5 mile hike off the road and no fires. Tav and I took the hike to the back country sites just to check it out and decided we would try to find some  people to share a fire with in one of the other campgrounds before turning in for the night. 

After hiking around some more and exploring the park we entered a group campsite. There were large plots meant to accommodate several tents in a group. Plus there were large fire pits for large group fires.  We parked our car and first approached a young couple who had just moved back to America from France. After pitching our tent and a quick rest we joined them for some homemade vanilla rum  and a camping version of darts. They were really open and genuine people. The four of us then journeyed to the larger campsite nearby where a group of about 10-15 twenty-somethings were camping together. They were all friends from San Diego. They were a warm and welcoming bunch and soon enough our entire eclectic group became one cohesive blend of people from all over. We all connected so naturally having so much fun talking laughing, joking, eating, drinking, and telling scary stories. I was on cloud nine, wrapped in a moment that had everything needed to put me in a perfect state of bliss. When we said good bye to our friends we headed to our tent and spent the night nearby. In the morning we joined our friends for breakfast then headed off on a short hike up Ryan Mountain. 

You may be wondering where the life list part comes in. Suddenly I realized I was in a desert and that I was getting something on my life list. One of the times that this was actually unplanned. Or at least a time when I just got busy living life and didn't worry about fulfilling a goal.

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