A solution to overthinking

If you’re reading this then perhaps, like me, you’re prone to overthinking. My brain is so fizzed up with thoughts that I don’t always notice what’s going on around me, and I can’t take action or express what I feel or mean, because whatever meaning has been clogged up and stifled under layers of thought. As my friend pointed out, this incessant thinking is so unnecessary. It is robbing me of my capacity to enjoy life. And it’s probably doing the same to you. Because how can you truly concentrate on and appreciate the array of moments of a life, from a great song to a sip of cold beer, if your mind is constantly jumping back and forth like a restless, sugar-fuelled child?

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Funnily enough, I make the best decisions, have the best insights, and feel most confident and happy with myself when my mind is clear – free from worrying and analysing and judging, so that I can just get on with being and doing. Every square second of every day I am thinking, and it is so irrelevant; it doesn’t solve anything, because it’s not focused enough to and it’s fuelled by anxiety. If I wasn’t so anxious, I wouldn’t think so much, and if I didn’t think so much, I wouldn’t be so anxious. But how to break this negative thinking enclosure?

My friend suggested that I focus on doing every action with my whole self. As in, no daydreaming while doing, but giving everything I do everything I’ve got. I tried this approach out today, and it works. It’s not a quick fix, and I’m finding it hard to break the overthinking habit, but it’s definitely a good place to start. Because if you use your whole self in each action, you become more present. And you don’t have time to overthink because you’re more engrossed in what’s occurring in front of you, because all your inner energies are going into that, rather than flowing in the opposite direction. After all, there is a world outside of your head, and I think that you’ll feel happiest when inner and outer are working in harmony. So, all you over thinkers, start doing things with your whole self, rather than expending energy and draining yourself in the never-ending loopholes of thought…

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Musings on a Music Festival

Yesterday, I woke before 6am to get a coach down to leafy Suffolk. I spent the day at Latitude, soaking up interesting sights such as dyed pink sheep, glitter-smothered humans and enchantingly decorated woodlands. It was a lot of fun just to roam around and explore, in an atmosphere where a middle-aged, bearded man in a turtle onesie can go about his business without a second glance from passersby. I purchased a blue flower crown, and felt like a mellow hippy for the duration of the day… <3. Even though the atmosphere alone was enough to put me in good spirits, what really left my mind basking in ripples of peace was, unsurprisingly, the music itself.

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The pink sheep. What purpose they had is unclear. Perhaps simply to be beheld.

I saw three bands: Glass Animals, Two Door Cinema Club, and Mumford and Sons. This was the first music festival I’ve been to, and I can really understand the appeal of live music. It’s so immersive to be in the middle of a crowd: your senses supercharged on the pounding, colourful, shifting lights, the beat thrumming through your heart and gut and the melody swirling inside of you. I felt like everyone’s souls were flickering outwards and mixing together to create this wonderful, electric atmosphere. As I let the rhythm fill me up, I realised that my mind had emptied out to make room. I felt so receptive and alive to the experience, realising as I swayed that for once I didn’t feel self-conscious, that my mind wasn’t running round in its usual negative self-sabotaging loop, but still, and listening.

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My lunch: a Veggie Mezze box I had at a Greek food stall

Part of the magic of live music (if it’s good), is indeed the music itself. But another key quality was the effect it had on my insides, in making my anxious mind desist from its usual anxieting (yes, I just made up this verb, but I think it should exist). It made me acutely attuned to my environment, which doesn’t happen when one’s mind is closed in on itself. It felt like curtains were opening in my head. This happened because of the intense sensorial stimulation, rocking you into aliveness. The same thing happens at other moments in life –  like when your eyes are glued and sticky as you awe at a vivid, melting sunset, or when the first bite of a dense, gooey brownie makes your tongue sing as if angels have set up base camp there. These moments suppress your mind (and as a by product, all its insecurities and phantom thoughts and knack for problematising everything); instead of existing through your thoughts, you become attuned to the fact that you are actually alive. That you are a thing and a form beyond your mind. And this realisation, when you feel it, is deeply peaceful.

So, ironic though it may seem, all that outer noise of live music can bring an inner peace. For once, your mind is shut off, allowing your soul to express itself, and your body to feel…

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Consumer Culture

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‘I want it now!’ is a common cry from toddlers. I can empathise, for our brain is wired up  to want immediate gratification. I think current society intensifies the insatiable appetite of this inner pleasure-seekng toddler. I don’t know about you, but I often feel as though I’m living off quick-fixes. We don’t have to fend for/grow food anymore, as it’s so easy to just buy a ready meal which will, as the name gives away, be ready in just a few minutes (although you’ll probably have to wait for it to cool down). We don’t have to digest full current affairs articles as you can get bite-sized snippets of the news online. We don’t have to make plans to see how our friend is as you can just look on his Facebook wall. We don’t really even have to read books anymore as you can get the gist of them by reading quotes/the wikipedia page (haha I should know – I’m studying English and the internet has saved me so many hours of reading). We don’t even really have to use our brains to think about problems anymore as you can just ask google. Life is so easy for some people, everything we need at our fingertips… but this doesn’t feel right somehow. Not only because it’s wrong that there should be so much inequality in lifestyle in the world. But also because I believe that this consumer culture makes us somehow less human, and more like idle sheep that aren’t tapping into their own abilities.

We got where we are now because of our brain and our faculties to imagine, to think, to make things. We still have that brain and it’s still just as amazing and capable. It takes effort to use it, yes. But isn’t it so much more gratifying to know that you’re using yourself, rather than expecting the world to give you what you want? Maybe that’s why so many people toUnknown-1.jpegday seem to feel alienated and unfulfilled. You’ve got to create that feeling of fulfilment by tapping into who you are and contributing in the unique way that only you can. You feel alienated, perhaps, because you’re always looking outside, seeing how other people have contributed/created things, and thinking: what’s the point? This is ludicrous, like comparing an apple and an orange, as the world is made up of diversity and however you think/do/create cannot be compared to how another person thinks/does/creates. It’s not about originality, it’s about truth, and living whatever your truth is. If you’re blandly following the crowd, letting fear and comparison oppress you, and expecting your wildest dreams to somehow come at you from the outside, then you’re not really going to make any difference and your poor soul is going to sigh and hang its head and morph into a sheep.

Unknown.jpegOnly you have the key to realise yourself. Google doesn’t. Your therapist doesn’t. That new brand of whatever clothing item or magic pill doesn’t. These can all be helpful tools, but if you don’t know yourself first and trust in your own being and its own faculties, then you will just become dependent on outside things that are hollow substitutes for the real feeling of fulfilment.

I think in earlier days and in other societies, there is more patience and connection. You have to sow to reap – otherwise you will be reaping someone else’s produce, not your own. And existence is not a one street of taking: you’re also here to give. So do yourself and the rest of the world a service by relying on your own capability and creative power more. If you’re feeling good and living as you, then you can and will inspire others to do the same. 🙂

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Doing what you want

I recently finished my uni exams and coursework. The day afterwards, I was so happy. I woke up, stress-free, no responsibility, endless hours of chilling in front of me… I just lounged around, existing exactly as I pleased, something like a happy sloth. However on the second day of lounging, a guilty-feeling set in. A feeling of: what am I doing here? A sort of churning necessity to be productive and achieve stuff, although what exactly I was unsure of.

I started looking up internships because that’s the next step really after uni – it’s what everyone around me is doing and it’s what we’re told employers want at this stage. And there were some that looked ‘hm that might be okay I guess’, but none that exactly sprung out at me as something I cared awfully about and wanted to give my time to. It was more doing something for the sake of doing something, which is good, and definitely works for some people, but if that spark and desire wasn’t there for me, and if I didn’t deeply need it, then I’d rather not really… (I realise this is a very luxurious position to be in). Recently, my friend said something which images.jpegstruck a chord with me: sometimes, strength is born out of need. I feel the same is true for what you want in life. When you have a deep, soul-level need for something, you’ll fight and work for it. Or if you have a big financial need, you’ll work for it. I don’t really have either at the moment (which again I realise is a very nice position to be in). It’s more just like a fidgety mental feeling of ‘should be achieving stuff’. But isn’t that so irrelevant? Because I don’t want to be like a hamster in a hamster wheel, always feeling pressured into moving forward without even really taking time to appreciate that it’s alive (remember Oscar Wilde’s quote: ‘To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.’) I have so much goodness around me, so much to appreciate, but all of that gets hidden away under the carpet when you live in a fast-forward mode of goal-setting for the sake of goal-setting. Not to mention, your stress levels rise… and who wants to live like that, really? It’s such an institutionalised mind-set to be in.

So, I know this isn’t right for everyone. But for me, right now, I’m just trying to go with the flow. Enjoying being a young person, doing one thing at a time, appreciating the present moment, and asking myself: ‘what do I really want?’ Because I know when I look back on my life, I’ll want to have lived each moment, rather than getting lost and disfigured under the big wave of achieving stuff for the sake of it. This way, I can have plans, but they don’t stress meimages.png out as much as I know they’re coming from me and my own true desires rather than a big outside bellowing voice of ‘be more productive!’ which I think seems to be the call of our age…

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Bodily acceptance

In our culture, I think there’s a general trend towards body hatred. The media perpetuates images of perfectly toned bodies, making whatever features you have seem inferior and somehow wrong. It’s somewhat paradoxical, like: if you’re not curvy, you need to be curvy; if you’re curvy, you need to be more model-shaped and lean. Wherever you go, you’ll find an implicit message that your body is somehow wrong, an encouragement to swim against the current of your own physique. If you internalise this attitude, then you start hating on yourself, thinking: ‘I need to change myself, mould myself into an ideal’. But this ideal is such a fraud! It’s so manufactured and mainstream and when you buy into any idea like that, you lose your own uniquely wonderful essence.

Following on from this generally negative, judgmental attitude towards our bodies, I also don’t think we have a great attitude to food. At an extreme, it’s either guilty indulgence as you gorge on ice-cream, or it’s righteous yet dull and self-hating self-discipline (otherwise known as salad… I’m joking, my friends will tell you what a big salad-advocate I am). Given these two extremes of excess or deprivation (both very negative), is it any wonder we have body issues?

Food is something to be enjoyed; that’s surely a fact of nature. And if you’re truly enjoying it, you’ll find the right balance for your unique body. If you have an attitude of love for your body, rather than hatred, you will give it both the nutrients and treats that it needs. Rather than treating your body (which is basically you!) as a lump of scorn and irritation, why don’t you treat it with care and compassion? For example, if it was a beloved pet, you would want it be healthy and optimally functioning, but because you love it, you’d also want to occasionally indulge it, right? So apply the same attitude towards yourself.

Furthermore, I think we have a tendency to be so out of touch with our bodies that we don’t appreciate the food that’s right in front of us, the delicate, miscellaneous flavours and textures. If you really slow down and appreciate eating itself as a pleasurable activity, listening attentively to whatever your body’s craving, the whole issue of consumption becomes so much more pleasurable and nurturing. Rather than rigidly caging your body into some faddy diet that’s designed to fail as it’s too impatient and unwholesome, you’re looking at what (and what doesn’t) bode well with your unique body to achieve optimal satisfaction, treating it as the organic, alive entity that it is.

I think a lot of us have a judgmental mindset (especially when applied to ourselves); to nitpick at flaws (even if they’re imaginary). I recently read an article where it said that one group of women could easily come up with way more physical features they hated than ones they liked. There’s something wrong about that. I know we all want self-improvement, but surely this should be a positive force, rather than an insecure mode where we can’t see the good in this uniquely complicated vessel that we exist in and feel the world through… I mean, you could just say you like your ears, purely because they enable you to hear the sound of rain… That’s a bodily feature, that stretches beyond the shallow label of looking good (which of course has its intense underside of making you think you don’t look good).

Personally, I think that love and appreciation is the key to this body-image issue that permeates our culture. When you hate your body, you don’t treat it with love. You treat it with rigid, unloving discipline, and/or gluttonous, unloving excess. Why do we feel the need to shape-shift rather than appreciate our unique bodies for what they are? Our bodies are as unique as our finger-prints, as our multi-layered personalities. Am I the only one who thinks it’s terrible that all this uniqueness is getting whittled down to this fake, bland thin ideal? Is ‘thinness’ really even the essence of attraction? Surely, attraction is more elusive than than that? – found in the glint of an eye, the way someone gesticulates, the sound of a laugh, the little-bitty mannerisms that are as unique as one’s physical features, physical features that stretch beyond thinness.

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I love this quote above by Roald Dahl. It’s so true. When you think lovely thoughts (about yourself, about your physicality, about the world) then you will look lovely. This is what I think we should be striving towards. Not weight loss for narcissistic, institutionalised, ‘let’s-make-a-clone-out-of-my-body’ reasons, but love – which stems from inward, positive feelings towards yourself.

Recently, I’ve been trying to lose weight, and I realised today that my motivating impulse was a negative one. I was hitting the treadmill with scorn for my arms, scorn for my stomach, not really wanting to exercise but making myself… when there was a time, not long ago, when I went running because it eased my anxiety and made me feel free and capable. Do you see the difference? I felt (and probably looked) much more attractive when it was the latter, because I wasn’t giving off an insecure, self-hating vibe… but actually smiling and feeling free and healthy.

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I understand that being beautiful is a positive quality, just like being kind, smart, fit are all positive qualities. But first of all: who is to say what’s beautiful and what’s not, when it’s so layered and made up of teensy details, rather than just a robotic, thin body? Second of all, it’s just one in a stream of many positive qualities, yet our society has put it so high up and ingrained it into us so much to aspire towards outward beauty as if it’s the only good thing in the world (when it’s really not) . Surely it’s bad for your soul, to be so shallow as to value vanity in appearance over inner strength or morality or kindness?

So, what I’m trying to say is don’t go hating on yourself (or others for that matter, as it just perpetuates this body hating attitude! And, if you truly loved yourself, I don’t think you’d feel the desire to judge other people anyway). Everyone is gorgeous in their own way, and you shouldn’t let society tell you otherwise, or make you feel as though you have to aspire into a mode of being that doesn’t suit you. I mean, I think nature knows more than society does, and nature has made you the way you are – so flow with that, embrace it, love it! For it’s when you start loving your body that you will grow into and suit your own skin, and from that, physical beauty will follow in the most natural way. 🙂

 

Self-trust

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I have often felt as though I am floundering through life, unsure of what to think, unsure of how to behave, looking to others to guide me, looking outwards to society to tell me what to think, assuming that other minds are wider and stronger than my own. Unsurprisingly, I haven’t been a particularly confident, content individual. I haven’t lived as fully as I could have, because I’ve been too tentative and self-doubting.

I think doubt is valuable. It makes you grow, as you question situations and make changes as appropriate. Tension is necessary for growth, because otherwise things would stagnate. Doubt to a degree is good, but it doesn’t need to be focused solely on you.  Doubt as a mode of thought is useful: when applied to the world and situations, it prompts analysis and stops blind, harmful, sheepish behaviour. It makes you question things, think through things, and – provided you don’t get consumed by doubt spilling into worry – ensures that you do the right thing. It is somewhat of a helpful fairy on your shoulder really, checking in and stabilising you.

However, doubt can be so detrimental when it’s directed with such emotional force against yourself because it stops you from moving. It makes you afraid and scornful of yourself. It’s like the fairy has died and been replaced by a sadistic tyrant (otherwise known as the inner critic) who abuses you and saps your willpower. When your faith in yourself is shrivelled and flagging, of course you’re not going to have the willpower to move forward. Willpower isn’t a battle against yourself, a negative tug and something to blankly desire more of. Willpower is love for yourself. Fuelling yourself up with deep love and trust is what creates strength. I think that when we love and believe in ourselves enough, willpower arises quite naturally. It’s not something to mechanically drill into you or desire as an external quality; it comes from within, and it’s born out of self-trust.

Everyone’s vision of and journey over this world is different, and you’ve just got to tap into yourself. Because that is where you’ll find whatever your calling may be, and this works on both a wide ‘life’ scale and a smaller, knowing what to do from moment to moment, scale. Trusting yourself in little daily details, as well as in the wider path of life. It’s not narcissism, it’s natural grace and ease in your being. How can you carry out whatever your contribution to life is when you can’t actually participate in it because you don’t believe in yourself? Everything stems from self-belief. It’s not something you have to agonise over and logically process: it’s a feeling. And once you’ve unlocked this feeling of capability and trust, everything else will fall into place 🙂

Messiness/confusion/fragmentation

So, I feel like within our society there’s a lot of pressure to present a preened and perfect image of yourself. To have everything sussed; to have a regular routine; to be productive; to know where you’re going; to be balanced and in control; to be something of a robot… But being human is messy and passionate and our mental processes and personalities are jumbled and contradictory and full of holes sometimes.

I wrote a poem about how I was feeling today, which I’d like to share:

A hovering, slithering, slinky something

A honey-soaked fly skidding over one’s retina

Jostling and writhing, greedily panting

Gorging on stagnation, on electric air

 

One’s brain is puffed, flabby, flailing

Overloaded, deforming up and out

Not rooted, comfy and tight in the bodily home

But adrift, stagnating, eating alone

 

Focus where are you

Words hover and blur, and meaning corrodes

Brain billows like spillage, like soot

Sense is a stretching, thinning string

 

Cohesion dwindles

Glare of bright electric lights

Violent smattering of city scape

Dilution, giddiness, excess, stress

 

Capacity full, emptily full

 

Maybe this post isn’t as uplifting as I’d like it to be. But I think it’s important to be truthful, and to express yourself however suits you. I sometimes feel very alone in this internal, unedited, messy feeling. As if everyone around me thinks much more coherently, as if their brans aren’t as patchy and impatient and unclear as my own. This feeling has been what I am today. And that’s okay, because trying to iron yourself out into an ideal is unhealthy and causes all sorts of self-abuse and modification. So… embrace the messiness. Flow with what you are. And realise that new days bring different moods and discoveries. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of disjointed messiness reminding us that we are humans, not machines.

 

 

Some thoughts on creativity

So I thought I’d write a post on creativity, as I think it’s a topic that has become a bit tangled and impure, with a lot of anxiety and efforts to be good and original attached to it, shredding it of the sheer fun that creativity can be. Below, I’ve listed three reasons why creativity shouldn’t be a big serious ego-orientated pursuit, fraught with comparison and perfectionism, but rather something fun and child-like, to be shared and enjoyed.

Art is a therapeutic process

A lot of people get worried about outcome, about making something good before they’ve even started, wanting whatever paint splodges or word choices to appear good and interesting. It’s intense, putting all the emphasis on making something good. It makes the creative process more difficult too, as you sacrifice the innocent, curious, explorative, naturally and effortlessly creative side of yourself for a rigid, dictatorial judge that doesn’t care so much about how you go about it as long as whatever you churn out is good and will be perceived by others as good and will stand for something and set you apart. The whole healing process of making something is lost because of all of this anxiety over the end-result. And that’s bad. Because creativity is a process and if you’re so worried about achieving something, you’re going to suck out all of its enjoyment!

The main thing about art shouldn’t be the end-result. Okay, yes, maybe it’s pretty, maybe it resonates, maybe it touches someone, but if it’s doing all that just from beholding it at a surface level, think about how deeply, soulfully stimulating actually being inside the creative act is.

There’s a misconception that creativity is some sort of genius that only very few people truly possess. Even if this is true, I don’t think it matters, and it definitely shouldn’t make creativity something exclusive as it’s fun for all. It’s good for the soul regardless of outcome. As I see it, the person who has created a poorly cut, smudgy collage that’s messy and dripping with glue but has a huge smile on their face and created this in the spirit of freedom, is an infinitely happier, more wholesome human than the person who has anxiously laboured over a three line poem about the sky because the word order didn’t sit right with their timid and fearful ego. Both creations are ultimately superfluous, so what does it matter? It’s the act of creating that has healing powers, regardless of the actual thing you create.

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Art is for you and you alone 

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I think many people make the mistake of creating because they want to be recognised by others as an interesting, talented human, or because they want to give something to society. I think both of these motives will bring pain. The first because you are putting all the weight on how others perceive you and your work, which will either puff up your ego or tear it down – either way you’re in another’s cage, stifling your soul by creating for recognition.

I love this quote from Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger, which I think sums up what I’m trying to say:

‘An artist’s only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else’s. You have no right to think about those things, I swear to you. Not in any real sense, anyway.’

Creativity is an expression of your soul, and nothing spoken with your soul is bullshit, regardless of what anyone else’s view of it may be. It’s just for you to reach a deeper level of humanity, and express the questions that seethe and prickle inside of you.

The second motive (of wanting to give something to society) also robs the process of its innate worth and fun. Because creativity isn’t like fixing a boiler or treating sick people; art has no tangible, practical significance to society. All it can do is resonate, give pleasure, and it might not even do that. However, at a personal level, it’s definitely important and valuable. When you create anything, you should create it for yourself, to think things through to yourself, to express things to yourself, to surprise yourself, to have fun for yourself, to grow – never for money, never to exhibit your talent, never to preach something to someone. You don’t create because you have the answers, you create to create; it is an end in itself, at least in my view. Creativity is just your spirit in motion, and by thinking about others’ reactions or the effect it will have on other people, you kill it, instantly. Art is introspective and reflective, and can deepen and extend your human soul, regardless of whether it does the same for others.

Creativity is collective 

So I think that a lot of people tend to get very private and personal with their creations, or start viewing themselves as original and separate from others, or get jealous when someone else has a better idea or creates something ‘superior’. It all gets very judgey. Maybe they don’t even take an interest in other peoples’ ideas and creations because it’s all about their creative genius and they don’t give a hoot about other peoples’ human experiences. I think that this attitude has nothing to do with creativity and everything to do with egoism. For creativity is a two-way street: you both contribute and consume. It’s a flowing river that is forever running, extending over generations, that we continually return to and dip into and merge with whenever we read or see or hear something that speaks to our soul. You’ve got to get rid of your ego to properly create, to enjoy it and become part of something bigger than you. This attitude is where the creative magic happens. Art is something collective, a big, muddy, mingling melting pot of everyone’s ideas and the different way different people channel these ideas. It’s free, and it’s for everyone. So don’t be selfish with your ideas and don’t rank yourself or others – at the end of the day, creativity cannot be ranked, because it is so subjective, and its very nature is to be fun and free and soulful, not rigidly judged and controlled. So don’t hold back and be so serious, just enjoy and be open-mined, in both consuming and creating :).

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The drain of perfectionism

Are you a perfectionist? Do you tweak things relentlessly, never feeling satisfied, taking ages to get the simplest thing done because it’s got to be exactly right, and it makes you anxious if it’s not? Because you’re scared of getting it wrong? Of exhibiting any form of flaw? Of truly showing yourself at your most chaotic and rambly and unformulated?

I am a perfectionist and it has done me no favours whatsoever. All the images-1perfectionist force within me has done has held me back from life. Because I’ve wanted to automatically be good at something, I haven’t endured the vulnerability and pain of being bad. Because I’ve wanted everyone to like me, I haven’t shown who I truly am. It’s stopped me from trying new things, of saying how I really feel, of truly connecting, of getting on with work, of embarking on new creative projects, of doing what I’d really love to do if I wasn’t afraid of exhibiting my true self in all its ‘wrongness’.

Perfectionism is such a heightened need to be proper and to do things properly that you will never match up to your expectations. You will waste away the person that you are because you are always seeking some phantom ideal. And the reason behind all that? You’re scared to be yourself. You’re scared to get it wrong. The emotion is just fear, plain and simple. That’s it. You can think up as many layered fancy thoughts as you like but beneath it all is jittery, primal, rabbit-in-the-headlights fear. And that’s the force that you’re letting dictate your life?

No human has the answers. Every human has flaws. Every human has complex emotions and peaks and troughs in their faculties. You are not a robot and you are not going to be functioning exceptionally all the time. You can only do your best in a given moment, and striving after perfectionism is going to demotivate you because it’s impossible; it’s a brutal self-hating fiction. Agonising over how you present yourself and how you interact with the world is going to make you unhappy, because it’s making you into something that’s subhuman and putting a massive weight on yourself. You’re not honouring your soul when you’re a perfectionist; you’re thinking ‘I can’t say that – what will this person think?’, ‘I can’t write that – it sounds wrong?’. It’s messing with the person you’re meant to be through an endless torrent of criticism and judgment. That’s bad. Who wants that inUnknown their head? It stops you from doing anything worthwhile.

You’ve just got to get out there and start dancing messily, flamboyantly, throwing yourself around and perhaps unintentionally offending some people in the process and definitely getting it wrong, and being vulnerable and ridiculous and surprising yourself. Because you can’t live in a shell. You can’t keep your lips sealed forever. You’ve got to start existing. And existing isn’t the same thing as perfectionism. Perfectionism is putting off existence because it’s too messy, and you can’t bear to make a mistake, and expose your vulnerability. But by doing that, you’re putting off life… Because life is full of mistakes! I mean, think of all the random chaos in nature that has settled into beautiful patterns… and I think breakfast cereal was originally a mistake too, and we all know how great that is, right?

Right now, I didn’t edit this. And that’s a big thing for me because I always edit and feel that I can’t express myself properly until I edit. So this is rawness, this is anti-perfectionism. Where there is no perfectionism, there is true freedom, true unashamed ability to create from yourself and your unique power, becuse you’re not scrutinising so painfully about getting it right.

So yes, I call all of you to do what you love and not care so much. Just do it! And embrace the messiness, because that is the only way to truly grow. Take this analogy: if you’re growing a plant, you’re not constantly going to be cutting it every time it sprouts something new, because that new thing might be the vital, beautiful thing that’s going to turn into a fruit or a flower. So let yourself bloom, and get rid of the set model you have of what blooming should look like – because who knows, really. It’s up to you to find out 🙂

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Divine simplicity

Have you ever heard people commiserate over how complicated life is nowadays, or felt a wish to go back to your childhood when everything was so much simpler? Of course, there’s a reason why this period was simpler and more carefree: mainly, the lack of responsibility. But I think deeper than this is that the mindset of childhood is a simple one. And us adults (myself being on the brink) could learn a thing or two from the younger members of our species.

To adult is to complicate

It’s true, when you’re grown-up you have a lot of things to take care of: work, bills, food, relationships, a never-ending stream of miscellaneous errands… It’s no plain-sailing picnic in the park (a deliberate muddling of expressions on my part here). But it’s possible to fall into the trap of over-complicating our responsibilities. For example, you might get consumed by all Cco77VDWEAEms48the nagging things you’ve got
to get done so you stop paying attention to what you’re currently doing. Or you think too much about your relationship and where it’s going so you cease to enjoy the simple, immediate presence of your special person. The fault here isn’t in the adult situation; it’s in your intensely cerebral adult brain that insists it must control and complicate.

When I was a child, I didn’t think that much. I just did things. And when I got bored or tired, I did something else. There’s a Zen quote I like:

“When hungry, eat your food; when tired, close your eyes. The fool may laugh at you, but the wise man will understand.”

We muddy matters so much by overthinking and losing sight of the immediate moment. We bury our inner, most basic desires under mountains of analytical, anxious thought. Thinking has become so ingrained and compulsive that it’s difficult to stop. But if we tap into our inner child, and focus on simplifying life down rather than building it up in our minds, we can be more at peace, even with all of the increased responsibilities.

The ‘shoulds’ of adulthood

Another pitfall of adulthood that children aren’t yet aware of is the definitions our society instils in us on what it means to be a successful adult. What hallmarks you have to check off. How you should behave in your everyday life. How to measure and judge yourself and the world around you to be socially accepted and considered ‘doing well’. Children have no former experience to condition them, so their eyes are fresh and their minds are open. They are forever asking why. And I think we should ask ourselves the same question. Always question your beliefs, and your environment, especially when it seems to be sucking you dry. Children are known to be fresh, playful, curious, innocent creatures… and sometimes this is exactly the mindset necessary to open up new discoveries, and to stop us from feeling so weighed down by the world and our socially-conditioned insecurity.

A lack of embarrassment

So I did a module last semester on Freud, and he believed that the child (or rather baby) has an insanely huge ego. The world revolves around them. They are so powerful they cannot even die. Of course, this is irrational. But at the same time, is it so irrational to be utterly content with yourself? After all, animals don’t seem to have self-esteem issues. There’s a quote that goes something like: ‘man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is.’ When you’re a child, you love yourself so much that you don’t even need to think about loving yourself. Surely this mindset is natural, to feel comfortable being the thing that you are? You learn to judge and objectify yourself and make yourself small and fragile – that’s the part that isn’t so natural. I think it would do many of us good to get back to this mindset where we don’t have a relationship with ourselves; we simply are ourselves, and in a position to get lost in the world because our ego doesn’t get in the way.

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