Pursue Joy

“Joy is a form of resilience.” I will repeat, “Joy is a form of resilience.“How so?Many consider joy as this frivolous emotion. One can even say that it is unimportant and should not be given a time of the day. But is it really?

Joy Vs Happiness

As a culture, we have been obsessed in pursuing happiness. (Happiness comes from the inside but that is another matter to talk about)But actually, what we should do is pursue joy.Happiness is an emotion pertaining to that you feel over a long period of time. So, for example, let’s say, I’m a student and when I say, “I’m happy right now.” What that means is that I feel happy about yesterday and the days before that. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t awful moments but over time, I feel good overall about what happened.On the other hand, joy pertains to right now. It’s the feeling when you want to jump up and down or giggle or laugh because of a joke. And this is why pursuing joy is much more important that pursuing happiness. Because joy is what’s happening around us everytime. Writing this blog makes me feel joy. And in retrospect, when all of these joyful moment add up, I can say that I am happy with how I live. So maybe, we are only happy in retrospect. Hence, it is why pursuing joy is more important that pursuing happiness

Why is Joy Important?

Going back to my first sentence, “Joy is a form of resilience.” is from designer and author Ingrid Fetell Lee.And she explained why in a blog post. First off, she wrote that we tend off to put off joy. For example, “Oh! I wil work full head-on for 9 hours and then I’ll watch a movie.” We see joy as a reward for our hardwork. But actually, Lee suggests that we should incorporate joy into our daily lives. Basically, joy is a tool that we can use to cope up with stress.She explained further,”Small moments of joy help the cardiovascular system recover from stress. When we feel stressed, our bodies floor with chemicals like cortisol and epinephrine which raise our heart rate and blood pressure, keep us alert and focused, and help us respond to the chalelnges at hand. This is an adaptive response to stress, and it works well when it’s temporary. If stress becomes chronic, on the other hand, this places strain on the body and can lead to exhaustion and illness. But when we experience joy, such as watching something funny, taking a little while to become absorbed in play, or spending time in nature, it gives our bodies a break from this stress response, enabling us to recover.“Thus, joy is not frivolous. It’s actually important for our body, especially our mental health.

Small Moments of Joy

Knowing this information, I had to apply it. Assignments and academic readings are piling up but I’m ‘stealing ‘ some time just to be.I acknowledge that I am more than my academics. And the life that I want to live is not something that is in the direction of academics, hence, I go my own path.One thing that I do and probably my most favorite apart from writing is soaking energy from the sun.Around 3 pm- 4pm, I get up, after being huddled for hours on my desk, and go in our porch.Without having to go outside, the sun direction is right there at the gate and that is where I can get energy from the sun.Honestly, one of the highlights of my day. And I am reminded of what Andy Grammer wrote in his song Keep Your Head Up:The glow that the sun gets
Right around sunset
Helps me realize
That this is just a journey
Drop your worries
You are gonna turn out fine.
Oh, you turn out fine.
Fine, oh, you turn out fine.Whether I failed during the day or experienced something terrible, the sun’s gonna be there. Always. And its gonna be there until I die. Whatever I am worrying about it is gonna be fine. It will pass. Other things that I do during the day to feel joy is listening to my favorite music, showering after a long day, watching korean variety shows, and reading a great book that will keep me immersed for hours. And not to mention, there are tons of other things that unexpectedly show up during my day that brought me joy. Like a few days ago, I discovered a website that has a very interesting UI on its homepage, and just the other day, I finally owned a copy of a book that I’ve been waiting for MONTHSS!!! Basically, pursuing joy is me telling myself that I will not succumb to being a machine and taking care of myself. In addition, joyful things that unexpectedly came my way are a reminder that life is full of miracles and casual magics. I also believe that what I put out in the world, that is what I get back. And these miracles are what I get back.

Why would I spend time thinking about someone who doesn’t even love me?

When I read this from James Clear’s newsletter, I was stunned. First, I’ll share it to all:

Actress Viola Davis on handling criticism:

“I don’t have any time to stay up all night worrying about what someone who doesn’t love me has to say about me.”

Source: Viola Davis’ Battle with Low Self-Esteem

And for someone who has extremely low self-esteem, this is just what I needed to hear, not to mention that I really love Viola Davis in How to Get Away with Murder.

In class, we are asked to present our work individually and actually seeing my classmates’ works, I started to overthink. And here comes the worst part, I started comparing.

Comparing is good only if its on a realistic level. For example, I’m someone who is just a beginner in composing music, I barely have an experience and it is extremely unhealthy if I compare my work to Mozart’s or Beethoven’s who have decades and decades of experience. Hence, if I compared my works to them, I’ll probably not continue pursuing songwriting at all because I’ll end up thinking, “My works will never be like them anyways.”

For me, comparing is good if it gets you to do better. Let’s say I admire a work of my classmate and its not necessarily on a level of “Worldwide Popular” but it gets me thinking that, ‘Oh. I can’t do that yet but I can do that once I learned what I needed to learn.’ Basically, the bar is not that high. Hence, it makes it realistically achievable given that I spent time learning and practicing.

Anyways, going back to where I said that we will present our work individually, I did not have the courage to volunteer to present my work (BUT the good thing is that I can still present next meeting) because I was so afraid of what my classmates would think of.

BUT (capitalize for emphasis)

Good thing, classes ended earlier and hence, I snapped out of ruminating.

I remember that THIS is my life. I am here, not to impress anyone with what I can do, but for me. FOR ME.

Yes, there is a possibility that they may think of not really good things about my work BUT that is outside of my control.

I get to say what I can and cannot do.

Presenting my work and having the opportunity to hear constructive criticisms from my professor is what I wanted to do. And what other people may think should not be an impediment nor even a factor whether I should change my decision.

What my inner soul wants me to do is to learn, to hear comments about my work from my professor. And that is what I’m gonna do.

I should not even waste a second of my time here on Earth, dimming my light just so I would not destroy my self-made image to other people. There is no self-image. I’m just me.

So, I’m grateful to actress Viola Davis for her perspective. It helped me remember on what is the significant. Though, it’s not easy to change perspectives. I will always remember that every day is a new day to do my best.

Today, I would not have written this if I had the courage to present nor would I have this realizations. So, either way, I choose to be joyful and to understand my decisions.

Have a great day.

Choose joy

March 14, 2020 almost seven months ago… I wrote this entry on my journal:

“Know that sometimes things will not go your way even if you do your best, and regardless of whether you deserved it or not.

Do not confuse your aspirations with how the universe should turn out. “– Jonas Salzgeber

Everything really happens for a reason. Lately, I have been thinking of what would happen if I applied to the Interior Design program instead of Archi. I am 101% sure that I would not pass the exam for ID and would not have been considered. I would probably be in a pre-med program and would be bored as hell.

BUT I am here in a situation I never actually dreamed of but I am happy to be here. Yes, I still have thoughts of wanting to apply again at Minerva [a university abroad in which I applied twice and got rejected twice too] (I guess I will always feel like that bcoz its my dream school).

BUT I know that maybe it really is not my path now (maybe in my next life lol). God put me in this journey on this day and the days onward for I have a purpose to fill. If I got in to Minerva, the first time around, would I have met the amazing community of MakeSense? Will I learn how to sketch, draw, color, and render? Will I have known Likhaan, Tita Rosie, & other crafters? Will I be able to explore the museums in our country? Will I be able to [learn how to] crochet? Will I be able to help the ppl that I am surrounded with every single day?

It might not seem obvious to others but for me, I take time to see how I am making a difference in the specific place I am in. Whether its just buying something at a local store or helping someone w/ the directions or just simply riding the public transpo, in a way, I am thinking that I am helping to others. I was meant to be here because I have to do this or buy that.

So I do not like get so worked up because I did not get in twice but rather I am happy thay because this is how the universe should turn out. I did my best but it really is not for me (now). I am very very grateful of this journey I am taking on. I hope to meet more people, to connect, to learn, and to always remember to be in the present.”

I have the habit of re-reading my past journals because it makes me remember that where I am right now is something that my past self worked hard to get to and that this is something I wanted and I should not take it for granted.

I love how seven months ago, I choose to look at the silver lining of what’s happening. So far (or maybe, ever), I am grateful that I did not make it because I am having a lot of fun today and all the previous days that passed or… maybe its because I just consciously choose joy.

Regardless of what will happen, I will choose joy and I hope I will always will.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.

You cannot predict how smart or skilled a person can be.

In the book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, psychologist Carol Dweck wrote,

“Benjamin Bloom, an eminent educational researcher studied 120 outstanding achievers. They were conert pianists, sculptors, Olympic swimmers, world-class tennis players, mathematicians, and research neurologists.

Most were not that remarkable as children and didn’t show clear talent before their training begain in earnest. Even by early adolescence, you usually couldn’t predict their future accomplishment from their current ability. Only their continued motivation and commitment, along with their network of support, took them to the top.

Bloom concludes, “After forty years of intensive research on school learning in the US as well as a broad, my major conclusion is: What any person in the world can learn, almost all person can learn, if provided with the appropriate prior and current conditions of learning.“”

And in connection with this, do you know that Ted Geisel aka Dr. Seuss (author of many children’s books like The Lorax) was voted by his classmates as the “person least likely to succeed” among their class? Because he was never the studious type. He would rather watch a movie, go to the zoo, or just draw. (Basically, he followed his interests and hobbies.) And this is why using a compass (with your interests and hobbies leading the way) is important instead of a map.

Also, this proves that you can’t predict what a person may become in the future. Aside from “not to be judgemental to anyone” message of this post, having the knowledge that you cannot predict anyone’s future, is good for ourselves.

We do not know what will happen and that thought alone is exciting! We may have mediocre work right now but given enough time, we may produce something great occasionally. But ultimately, its all about just loving what you do and being excited to where it just takes you. So just start. It doesn’t matter if you failed, what is important is you had fun doing it. As author Srivinas Rao wrote in The Art of Being Unmistakable, “We often do not know where stories end, where unpaved roads lead, and who we’ll become along the way. Therefore, you just have to start.”

Use a compass instead of a map

In an episode of Workman (one of my favorite Korean variety shows), they went to a daycare and through that episode, I found out that they rearranged their education system for kindergarteners.

They adapted child-centered education wherein children are free to do and follow their curiosities in the daycare. They can play an instrument, play with toys available in the classroom, they could read a book, etc. Also, I don’t feel that “classroom” is even the right term for their space because it doesn’t look like a classroom at all.

This overall system promotes creativity as well as it builds up this confidence within the kid. In here, teachers do not say “sit still” or “behave”. Rather they encourage them to follow their desires and whatever they found interesting. They aren’t taught to score well during exams or be the best among the block. They promote communal activities (playing games with the whole class) and just being.

Honestly, even I think that kids as young as them should not take exams as soon as they have to go to school/daycare. They are too young to just sit still and I think the best thing that a school can instill in a child is to love learning. As they grow older and started taking exams, they will remember that how you do in a exam is not related to how much you learned.

I hope this could be applied to higher education as well. Personally, I am interested in psychology, biology, history, and journalism. I am currently in architecture program and I hope that there would be ways in which I could take up courses from other programs. Unfortunately, that does not exist yet lol

What I found interesting among a lot of master designers is that they integrates various subjects into their work. Some have took courses from other programs (ex. Steve Jobs), there are others who took up science programs but shifted to a design-related program, etc. Basically, they have knowledge on other subjects and that’s how they are able to design what they are designing right now.

In connection to everything I read, a few months ago this is what I started practicing: I used my hobbies, interests, and desires as my compass and disregarded the “map.” The map is pertaining to the pre-ordained life that society expects me to follow.

Since then, I never felt guilty of not following “the map”, I went my own path, following my inner soul. I read about psychology a lot, I read essays about creativity, I read novels, I read fiction and non-fiction, I write, etc. Anything that I found interesting or what I am curious in, I just follow it. And I never felt so happy and satisfied. Everyday I will learn something new. Gosh. If there is just any option to design my own curriculum, I would. And I would design it in a way that is filled with courses that I am interested in.

Srivinas Rao, author of The Art of Being Unmistakable, wrote about kindergartens and using a compass,

Kindergarten classrooms are utter chaos and true genius at the same time. The potential to discover a calling is available every single day. Then something happens. Somebody decided that you might stray too far off the beaten path, and gives you a map. They decide what is important for your future and these decisions become the destinations on the map.

….However, if I want to do interesting work, take risks, and see what I am really made of, I have to be willing to use a compass instead of a map.

Promoting self-learning and using a compass, allows each and everyone of us to just be ourselves. This is what I missed the most during summer breaks, it is when I just learn things without having to be graded for it.

And if you have been reading my previous posts, I mentioned this quote a few times now but it is amazing how each and every time I wrote this quote, I have something new to add. This is basically how curiosity starts, it starts as a small idea and over time as you search and search, you would have a lot of things related to it already and this is just basically it. This means that I am following my compasses very well.

Here is the quote from Austin Kleon:

“The lives of great thinkers teach us that learning is the verb of life. The trick to lifelong learning is to exercise your curiousity as much as you can and to let it guide you where it wants to go. To pay attention to what you pay attention to. To not worry too much about where things are going to lead. To learn for learning’s sake, not because it’s going to get you something, necessarily, but because you have faith that the things that interest you will help you become who you need to be.

Your interest and your desire and your instincts are your compass. They show you the way.

It’s a hard things to internalize, but once you do, it’s one of the most powerful things. It sets you free.”

Slow down

Fred Mitchell: Beware of the barrenness of a busy life.

Last week, classes has started and God, I just adjusted quickly to synchronous learning. I barely remembered how I used to wake up 4 am in the morning to go to class and go home at around 7 pm (for 5 days a week) before pandemic. (How did I even kept up with that for my whole freshman year??)

Now, I am living my best life. I wake up, not being hurried or anything. I spend the day at my own pace. We have classes in less hours now. The lectures do not even pass the 2-hour mark. I have time for my hobbies (and that’s amazing!) Though ofcourse, there are days when the workload is heavier than usual but that’s okay (I mean I’m an architecture student, that is expected).

Though what I did not expect was how I adjusted so quickly. I am so grateful to have time for myself or better yet, I am grateful that I make time to slow down. When I know, I spent so much time on academics, I rest and watch my favorite k-variety shows or read. 

Last week (and for the following weeks), I make ‘slowing down’ my priority. And Rick Ezell best explained it why. In Defining Moments May 5, 2020 issue, he wrote,

Slow down. It has been said, “Don’t just sit there, do something.” Well, often we need to do the opposite: “Don’t just do something, sit there.” Regularly we need to be still. Stop what we are doing long enough to reflect on what is most important right. If we stay busy continuously, we lose sight of the significant in life. The important is tossed on the altar of a busy and hurried life. That sacrifice is much too great and utterly useless.

In those ‘unproductive’ times, that is where I get clarity- that I am more than my academics and productivity. I am a human being with hobbies and a soul. Also, slowing down is where I get energy by asking myself, “Is this important? Is this something I want to do right now?”

Slowing down is where I can breathe. To be human in this world conducive to anxiety and busyness.

Albert Camus, in Notebooks 1951-1959, wrote, “Do not be afraid or spending quality time by yourself. Find meaning or don’t find meaning but ‘steal’ some time and give it freely and exclusively to your own self. Opt for privacy and solitude. That doesn’t make you antisocial or cause you to reject the rest of the world. But you need to breathe. And you need to be.

Casual Magic

Mary Oliver:

Instructions for living a life:

Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.

Around a week ago, I moved into a new bed and that bed is positioned where you can soak in the first rays of the sun every morning.

I noticed that and since then, I get excited at seeing sunlight every morning. I tried grasping it as if it was something tangible.

Lately I have been thinking why am I taking this granted for years. But then again, I think it means that I am growing. Appreciating the environment I am in right now is a reminder that I am growing.

Even though this may seem mundane, I believe this is a casual magic of my everyday. Casual magic is a term , from the youtuber Unjaded Jade, which means finding magic in the mundane. It can be as simple as cooking meals for your family or cleaning your room after weeks of putting off your tasklist.

Everyday is not your birthday or Christmas. But you can treat it like one. There are research findings that says that when you are younger, you find ‘extraordinary’ things fun (ex. concerts, birthday parties, roadtrips) but as you get older, you started to feel joy out of the ‘ordinary’ things (ex. talking to a friend over the phone). And what bridges the gap through the ages is how you frame your life.

For instance, I may be young but I am not usually into parties or roadtrips (because of financial reasons). However, that doesn’t make me feel sad at all. I believe that they are just not something that I would like to do, hence, what I do is I continue to do things that bring me joy (ex. I read a book, spend time with my family, write a journal, etc).

And framing your life is certainly essential to how your attitude will be.

I got rejected so many times for various job applications this year and yes, I still feel joy in my life regardless and I think its because of how I framed it.

I have no job and it means I have more time to follow my curiosity, learn what I want to learn, and partake in volunteering opportunities. I would neither have learned what I learned nor read the books that I had read if I was accepted to a job during this pandemic.

The whole idea is amor fati, which means loving everything that happens (yes, even the bad ones). Though it could have been different but it’s in the past and I learned from it.

Again, today I saw the first shine of the sun. Everytime I see it, it gives me hope. Today is a new day to live, to see magic in the mundane, to forgive, to love, and to do. This is my casual magic.

What’s yours?

Keep a notebook wherever you go

Aristotle Onassis (according to Britannica, “Greek shipping magnate who developed a fleet of supertankers and freighters larger than the navies of many countries”) suggested:

Always carry a notebook. Write everything down. When you have an idea, write it down. When you meet someone new, write down everything you know about them. That way you will know how much time they are worth. When you hear something interesting, write it down. Writing it down will make you act upon it. If you don’t write it down you will forget it. THAT is a million dollar lesson they don’t teach you in business school!

And this is why I carry a notebook either physical or intangible. If I left my notebook, I make sure I have a gadget with me wherein I can write ideas or things down as I go. It doesn’t really matter if the idea is good or not, I just write it down because I never know when will I need it.

Most of the time, I use Google Keep to write down ideas. And whenever I write something new, I will look back at other things I wrote and hopefully, making sense with them. Sometimes, I feel that some ideas are not yet ready to be “realized”. Hence, I just keep them there. For example, for blog post ideas, I will keep them written and stored, and once I read a lot, I will go back and find that I can write it now.

My another blog: Empathy In Design, was just a simple thought that flashed in my mind. I wrote it then, after a week, I realized that there aren’t websites or blog dedicated solely for human-centered design and I even researched more products/architecture that empathizes with people during that week. Thus, after that, I started making preparations for it and launched it last July.

Leo Wildrich called this the inner-outer technique, in an article posted in the Buffer:

I will do all the research, jot down notes into my word editor and not worry at all about the actual blogpost. That is the first outer task. Then I have a few inner task follow. I will respond to emails, might have a brief chat with the team and do other tasks. Then, towards the end of my day, I get back to the second half of the outer task. I would sit down and then actually write the article, edit pieces and put into publishable form.

The amazing thing that happens is that even I don’t work on the blogpost during my inner tasks, my subconscious brain does. It will do all the work, and then gradually present the solutions to me when I get back to working on it later on.

But, first, how do we get ideas?

So, in my case, I get ideas during a time wherein I let my mind wander and when I let my mind wander, it is when I’m doing something “unproductive” (aka leisure).

Drew Hansen wrote in the Forbes, tips on notetaking ideas:

“2. Write down your thoughts immediately. You think you’ll remember, but you won’t, and you’ll forfeit all the thoughts that flood you after you’ve freed your mind from remembering the initial spark. Don’t judge them at this stage, either. There’s a reason they occurred to you this way.

3. Expound on your thoughts later. Don’t let your flashes of brilliance wither from neglect. Find a quiet time to explore your initial thoughts in more detail.”

Do not reject the idea at first glance just because its new to you. Just write it down. Carry a notebook and just write them all down. After a few days, come back to it and you’ll start seeing connections.

Drew Hansen: “Start small. Write down what you’re thinking and build on it. Follow it wherever it’s supposed to go, and one day your small thought could change the world.”

Make Time To Do Something Unproductive | In other words, take a break from school/work

Neil Gaiman (author of Coraline) advises to anyone who wants to be become a writer to “get bored.

[Ideas] come from day dreaming from drifting, that moment when you’re just sitting there… The trouble with these days is that its really hard to get bored. I have 2.4 million people on Twitter who will entertain me at any moment… it’s really hard to get bored. I’m much better at putting my phone away, going for boring walks, actually trying to find the space to get bored in. That’s what I’ve started saying to people who say ‘I want to be a writer’ I say, ‘great. get bored.’ “

And although Neil Gaiman advises this to anyone who wanted to be a writer, research suggests that doing something unproductive (in other words, taking a break or something “boring”) is important for your physical and mental well-being. When we work more than what we can and we needed, we ended up exhausting ourselves. This is the reason why even though we have worked for long hours or get ahead, we ended up being more stressed even we accomplished a few things.

We try to ‘catch up’ and ‘get ahead’, but that only piles on more stress and less control. The stress of pop-up problems, like an infertility diagnosis, can make you feel like you don’t have time to just play and relax,” wrote Georgia Witkin, Ph.D. in Psychology Today, “when your sense of control goes down, your emergency response system increases your adrenaline, your body’s natural stimulant. Now, you’ll find yourself still having to deal with the stresses and the side effects of adrenaline. Adrenaline, which sometimes manifests as panic attacks, is putting your brain and body on alert so you’ll be ready for the next crisis.”

Also, while your body and brain is on alert for the next crisis, it uses up other hormones like serotonin, which means your using up resources that you needed to be calm and joyful.

On the other hand, she wrote relaxing and playing, “…prevent the high adrenaline output and increase those mood-elevating hormones. Not only is relaxation nice, the clinical benefits are shown to increase overall health!”

At the end of her article, she shared that practicing mindfulness for only 20 minutes each day can improve your day and reduce your stress levels. Breathing exercises are a good way to go!

My own way of relaxing is to listen to music every morning. I play songs that motivate me and dance to it. At the same time, I watch the sun rise from our bedroom window. These moments are the best because as I watch the sun rise and get a feel of it every morning, it reminds me that I’m human- that I’m not in some race of sort, that I can slow down and walk at my own pace, and that I’m not a machine.

Why we need to relax

Jonah Lehrer explains it in his book Imagine: How Creativity Works:

“Why is a relaxed state of mind so important for creative insights? When our minds are at ease— when those alpha waves are rippling through the brain— we’re more likely to direct the spotlight of attention inward, toward that stream of remote associations emanating from the right hemisphere. In contrast, when we are diligently focused, our attention tends to be directed outward, toward the details of the problems we’re trying to solve. While this pattern of attention is necessary when solving problems analytically, it actually prevents us from detecting the connections that lead to insights. “That’s why so many insights happen during warm showers,” Bhattacharya says. “For many people, it’s the most relaxing part of the day.” “

“Relaxing or taking a break makes me feel guilty”

I experienced this many times last year. And since classes has started a few days ago, I’ve seen more and more posts like this one. Our constant working and belief that life is all about hustling made us feel and think that way. It’s the toxic hustle culture that made us believe we should be working all the time, forgoing time for family, friends, and even, me time.

In her book, Do Nothing, journalist and public radio show host Celeste Headlee confessed, “It was the hard-work culture that made me believe I was lazy if I stopped working for even short periods of time.”

Once, she learned that working for long hours doesn’t equal productivity, she started applying it into her life as well as to her employees. “I wrote a handbook for my producers that including the following advice: Don’t work a long day, go home, and turtle on your couch with a frozen dinner. Solid research shows forcing yourself to get out and go to the bar with friends, have dinner, see a movie, meet people and socialize, reduces your stress and makes you more efficient. Have a hobby.” Also, research shows that employees who completely disengage themselves from work during leisure (or non-work hours) live healthier lives emotionally and physically. They are less overwhelmed and they sleep better.

In my case, I start the day slow. Like I mentioned previously, I start my day mostly listening to music and watching the sun rise. It is to remind myself that it’s okay to slow down and I am not late for anything. I am just on time. Second thing I do is I keep a logbook.

Keeping a logbook

A logbook is where I keep everything that I did for the day, which includes making my bed, doing the laundry, what have I wrote about, what articles I read, etc. Every time the sun comes down, I will look at my logbook and I will feel relieved that I have accomplish things for the day and then, I’ll proceed to relaxing (aka total disengagement from org responsibilities and school), I watch my favorite show, write here in my blog, read a novel, etc.

Having an awareness of how you spend your days is helpful in terms of knowing that you are in control of your life and that you do not lack time.

Having no clear understanding of how you spend your time can leave you feeling more overwhelmed than necessary, which can cause you to make decisions that lead to more stress and anxiety, which feeds the sense that you’re pressed for time, and you end up feeling more overwhelmed than necessary.” wrote Celestee Headlee in her book, Do Nothing.

She mentioned about “time perception” which is an understanding of how we spend our time. People who have little time perception spend more time scrolling on social media sites and they feel more overwhelmed. Contrastingly, people with high time perception feel more in control because they have an exact idea of how they spend their time. They knew how much time they spend working, hence, they can make time for family, friends, leisure, and contemplation.

Celestee Headlee noted, “You may believe you can relax if you put in a few more hours and get ahead of your workload, but actually you’re more likely to reduce your stress level by taking a break.

Logbook is extremely helpful when I am relaxing at night because it shows me that I deserve to rest after hustling for hours and I can focus on other matters other than school and orgs. It leaves me feeling accomplished and that I did the best that I can for today.

Stop comparing

Lastly, avoid or stop comparing to how you spend your time to others. Hustling for more than what’s necessary is like a badge to other people which is overall unhealthy. Remember, this is your life and that is their life. The point is not to be as busy as your friends or be more busy, but its saying, “I am living my best life at this moment! I am grateful and I am in control.”

How I spend my time is more or less different from yours and that’s great! All we just need to remember is to be human. Be present. Focus on what you are doing right now instead of worrying about the work that you have to do tomorrow.

Celestee Headlee: Stop trying to prove something to others. Reclaim your time and reclaim your humanity.

Additional reading:
Work Is Play
Do More of What Brings You Joy
Why Do We Need To Play Even As Adults
“You cannot be really first-rate at your work if your work is all you are.”

Continue Doing Things Even If You Aren’t Good At It

three–rings on Tumblr shared about her conversation with archeologists when she was 15 years old. They asked her “getting to know you” questions. She answered, “No, I don’t play any sports. I do theater, I’m in choir, I play the violin and piano, I used to take art classes.” Amazed by the range of her experiences, the archeologists said, “Wow!” But she said, “Oh no, but I’m not any good at any of them.

One of the archeologists replied, “I don’t think being good at things is the point of doing them. I think you’ve got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and that all teaches you things and makes you an interesting person, no matter how well you do them.

three–rings then wrote, “And that honestly changed my life. Because I went from a failure, someone who hadn’t been talented enough at anything to excel, to someone who did things because I enjoyed them. I had been raised in such an achievement-oriented environment, so inundated with the myth of Talent, that I though it was only worth doing things if you could “Win” at them.

“What is the point of doing it today if you will not even pursue it in the future?” That is something I have been hearing these months. We’ve become so future-centered that we forget to live today. It’s like we are so sure of what would happen in the future but the fact is, we don’t know.

It’s not about doing things that will make your resume look appealing in the future but more of doing things to become. Author Kurt Vonnegut wrote about this on a letter addressed to students,

Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.

Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives.

…write a six line poem, about anything, but rhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody…

Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces and discard them into widely separated trash recepticals. You will find that you have been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside of you, and you have made your soul grow.

It’s all about being human, because being human is to do, not for any tangible gains, but to make your soul grow.

What you do and what you love shapes who you are

Goethe said, “We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.” And that is so true.

On the book, On Looking, author Alexandra Horowitz, walked around with experts. Throughout the book, readers discover that things that interest you are the ones that you notice the most. I am interested in design and architecture so, my eyes always goes to how houses, public spaces, and roads are designed, but maybe to you, you are interested in typography, hence, you look at typefaces when you are on the street.

There are various people who have other interests, mostly somehow, at first look, unrelated to their professions but over the course of their lifetime, their previous experiences from pursuing their interests have led them to make great contributions on their field.

On an article entitled, “You cannot be really first-rate at your work if your work is all you are.” I wrote about various people and how their interests had influenced them. Here are some:

“Former mayor Edi Rama of Tirana in Albania organized a crew of painters to paint the whole city in an attempt to save the then, “dead city”. Tirana in Albania was once voted as one of the worst cities in Europe but that changed when buildings in the city were painted in vibrant colors that Edi Rama chose himself. Edi Rama was an artist by training. This is maybe why he had the idea of painting the city. Even though there were no police patrolling even before the painting initiative, residents reported that they felt safe out in the streets. People stopped throwing trash on the streets. Business owners took off metal grates from their shop windows. Five years after the initiative, businesses in Tirana tripled. This would not happen if Edi Rama did not apply his art skills in his work.”

Ted Geisel aka Dr. Seuss had spent his entire childhood at Fairfield Street. When he was a kid, he frequented the local library, zoo (where his dad works), and the local park. Parades are also frequent at Fairfield street which he usually anticipated. Dr. Seuss credited his experiences in Fairfield street for everything that he had wrote.”

Simply put, their experiences had shaped who they are. They don’t bother knowing how they will apply this experiences in the future, they just do it because they enjoy them.

Author and artist Austin Kleon wrote about life-long learning and following your interests, “The lives of great thinkers teach us that learning is the verb of life. The trick to lifelong learning is to exercise your curiousity as much as you can and to let it guide you where it wants to go. To pay attention to what you pay attention to. To not worry too much about where things are going to lead. To learn for learning’s sake, not because it’s going to get you something, necessarily, but because you have faith that the things that interest you will help you become who you need to be. Your interest and your desire and your instincts are your compass. They show you the way.

Let people enjoy things

A pastor from our church shared that while he is walking with a friend, his friend suddenly pointed up to the sky and enthusiastically called out a name of a bird. Though he is not interested in birds before, the fact that his friend is so enthusiastic and enjoys seeing birds, he do not want to blow up the visible joy in his friend’s face and soon, they found themselves spending a great deal of time looking for birds and calling out its name. Our pastor shared that he never knew that birdwatching is that fun.

Look around you, and you will find people who have a range of interests that varies from yours. And that’s okay. Support them and further cultivate their interests by showing up and make comments from time to time. Having people who support your craft can largely affect you as it is considered as a small success, “Doubts in one’s creative ability can be cured by guiding people through a series of small successes. And the experience can have a powerful effect on the rest of their lives.” wrote Tom and David Kelley on their book, Creative Confidence.

Doing because you enjoy them

wyattwesleywriting (tumblr username) wrote about her experience on reading as a hobby,

“When I was in fourth grade, I wanted to read Harry Potter. Someone in my class told me I couldn’t because it wasn’t in my level and I wouldn’t understand it. I read Harry Potter just to spite him. I’ve reread it a million times, it’s one of my favourites. I realised after reread and reread that I didn’t understand it in fourth grade.

When I was in sixth grade, I wanted to read the classics. I read the Bell Jar, Red Badge of Courage, Shakespeare, and as many as I could find. I couldn’t tell you what they said. But I looked like I could read at a higher level than I could. I read the same books and plays in high school. They made sense, I enjoyed them, I read them not to prove something but because I wanted to.

When I was in eighth grade, I only read murder mysteries and criminal books. That’s what more advanced readers read. I wanted to prove that I could read as well as someone twice, three times my age. I enjoyed them, but it was because I was proving something.

When I was in college I reread the series of unfortunate events. I loved every single book, every single line. I’d forgotten what it was like to read a book because I wanted to. I read young adult novels more than anything because I like them. I don’t care that they’re below my level, that they’re ‘too’ young for me. I don’t care that people see me reading them.

I realised something. I was taught to read because I needed to. Intelligent people read, that’s how people become smart. Reading isn’t a waste of time like television. I wasn’t taught to love to read. No one is. I found a love of reading by giving up the idea that people gave a shit if I read or not. I enjoy it more than I should. I realised that instead of instilling the idea of doing something because it’s expected or because someone should do something, instill the idea of doing something because you want to. Instill the idea that happiness comes from what we choose, not what others have chosen for us.

I realised that when I’m happiest, when I have the most joy, it’s when I do something for me. It’s when there are no expectations, no drive to prove someone wrong. I realised that my happiest when all inhibitions and perceptions are gone. Maybe that’s how we should enjoy our hobbies.

I quoted her whole post because every single thing is spot-on. There is nothing wrong if you read because you want to be smart or do things to become ‘something’ but that leads you to not do the OTHER things that brings you joy because you perceive that they do not give you anything. But like I wrote, what you do contributes to make your soul grow. Hence, doing the things you enjoy is important, not for the sake of achievement and praise, but for you.

And most importantly, you haven’t rejected yourself. The fact that you continue to do things that you enjoy means you did not constrained yourself inside the castle of excuses, but instead you chose to venture and immerse yourself outside the treacherous land of uncertainty and unpredictability. What we choose to do, we become. The act of doing things, regardless whether we perceive ourselves as good at it or not, have already contributed to what we can become.