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.”

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.

Run to the Roar

These past few months, I kept running to the roar. My stomach clenching and heart pounding. I very well know for sure that I am afraid during those times and I am still afraid now. Regardless of how afraid I am, I still run to the roar.

Tina Essmaker said, “When you are thinking about doing something and it feels scary, when it feels like this big lion is waiting at the finish line and he’s roaring and he’s ferocious and he’s going to tear you apart… you should just run toward that lion anyway. Run to the roar.

In retrospect, all the things that I did were scary when I haven’t started them yet. But two things that I learned,

1. Do not reject yourself.

There is this expression inside you that originate from the experiences and things that you consume. And since you are the only one of you at a lifetime, this expression, hence, is unique. No one has lived in the same way as you and that what’s make your expression unique. Your job is to share it with the world and not to limit yourself with the beliefs like not enough experience, not enough time not enough audience, etc.

2. Continue to follow your hobbies, interests, and desires for the sake of learning. Have faith that by following them, you will get closer to the person you need to be.

Its not really about winning at doing things but rather doing them because you want to learn, because it brings you joy. Yes. It is scary. But remember that you are not doing it for anyone, you are doing it for you.

That is the two things that I have in my mind these past few months. And I hope you got something from it.

Do it. Right now.

Writing this as a way of saying it to myself as well.

Do it. Right now.

The grim reaper might come for you in the next minute and you will not have the chance to do anything again.

Death may come to you anytime and the thought of it makes the fear of failure blue. Leaving only what is truly important.

Go. Do it.

Doesn’t matter if it would take a year to get it done. Time will pass either you chose to do it or not. If you start today, you’ll only have 364 days left. 1% progress every day.

Do it. Right now.

Look at the colors, look at the things around you and be amazed that every single thing in your room right now is made by a human, like us, who has fears and uncertainties as well.

Do it. Right now.

Motivation is overrated. Just do it. No one says on their deathbed, “I wish I have spent more time scrolling on Facebook.”

Go. Do it.

Because it brings you joy. It doesn’t matter whether you think you are good enough or not because everything that you do had and will shape you in the present moment. You’ll grow after doing something and you will never be the same again.

Go. Do it.

I’m rooting for you.

Passion Projects to Support this Quarantine

Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

For almost five months in quarantine, many of my friends, family, and bloc mates had opened up social media sites for their passion projects or business.

Personally, it took me a long time to create a blog for my writings due to fear of backlash or never pursuing it in the long run. But, of course, those aforementioned reasons are all excuses. It took me a long time to get started because of the fear brought upon by some hypothetical outcomes.

I am genuinely happy to anyone who continues to create and to do. Some had a harder time to start than others and that’s okay. What is important is you started and you continue.

Being surrounded by people who continue to do every day fills me up with joy. We never know how our small actions today can make a difference in our future tomorrow. One of life’s present (aside from the present) is spontaneity. I pray that whatever you are working on right now will flourish.

Keep writing. Keep creating. Keep sharing. Keep going. Keep doing.

Here are passion projects that you can support right now!


Art

  • Cediie_Art

His Facebook page regularly posts bite-sized information about architects and architectural history. Cediie Art is open for commissions anytime. Check out and like/follow his social media sites: linktr.ee/cediie_art

  • Joshua Clarito

Created his twitter art account early July 2020 but has been practicing watercolor for years! IG: art_pollux | Twitter: @_joshuaclarito

  • KofiDrawings

Aside from digital art, he often tweets about his progress as well (yes, that includes his rants). Also, his opinions on certain matters are interesting to read and ponder on. Check out his twitter account: @kofimate1

  • Kuyaserge

A musician (but his Facebook page does not make it obvious) and a digital artist. He is open to commissions anytime. Message him on his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/kuyaserge/

Recently, he uploaded a time-lapse video of his art on his Youtube channel.

  • Pevinism

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Jude Pevin, a freelance portrait artist and regularly feeds your Facebook timeline with art. Currently, he joins a lot of art contests. More of his art on his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pevinism/


Vlog

Another artist that started vlogging! Unfortunately, she doesn’t have any art vlogs yet (but I think there will be soon!). Right now, she reviews makeup palettes and shares recipes on her vlog.

One of my best friends who’s super shy during 7th grade has now opened a Youtube channel! Yay! #YasToGrowth

Her vlogs are about her journey and tips about, literally, anything.

Zhar’s only 12 years old, the youngest of all the creators that I mentioned in this blog post. Her content duration is around 1-2 minutes. Easy to watch. Let’s watch her growth as an artist by subscribing to her channel.


Business

Let us continue to support small businesses during this quarantine. If you’re here in WordPress, then you know how much a single like or share, is significant.

A business that sells crinkles, ube pandesal (goodness, this food is heaven!!), and brownies. They also have a clothing side: Rei’s Clothing. Almost all the clothes that they sell are really cheap. They do shipping in the Philippines and probably, international too (they haven’t had an international customer yer).

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/reisclothingshop/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SRJ-Stuff-105190364539472/
Instagram: @reisclothing_
Email: reisclothingshop@gmail.com
Shopee: shopee.ph/reisclothing_

  • Motorcycle Passenger Barrier

For some reason (yes, you can see my complete disagreement here), the Philippine government required people riding motorcycles to have a barrier in the middle. Remoh Zednanreh is selling Motorcycle Passenger Barriers for only 650 pesos. You can call +63 928 660 1514. Open for resellers!!


 

Let us continue to build a culture of sharing and supporting. Give what you have and what you can. You can never know where the ripples will go.