My first published text. On a worldwide, well respected platform. That was so easy. And that is exactly what I want to write about. Not in a criticizing manner, as some might be guessing right now. If I’m going to criticize something here, that would be criticism on that matter.
I recently read an article in Zeit Spezial, which is an intelligent and sophisticated German magazine, describing itself as ‘The magazine for those who love their profession and their lives’. The big, neon orange letters on the cover of the current issue saying ‘What’s all that stress about?’. The article I read was written on that main topic of the issue. It was criticizing the constant monitoring and comparison between people — who does better in everything. Who’s living healthier, who’s more relaxed, well-balanced, who’s got a better family/love life, who develops faster professionally, and so on. In the tone of the article, I felt a kind of a derogatory attitude towards people doing good in all areas of life, like they do not actually exist. The article called for people to relax and not compare themselves so much.
It seems to me that I encounter such an attitude on this subject too often.
I think that attitude is an expression of frustration and resignation. I wouldn’t want to identify with a cynical and sarcastic position towards those who manage everything — work and family, health and fitness, looking and feeling good. This is a position of weakness, maybe envy, lack of faith in one’s own abilities, and lack of a comprehensive understanding of life and human nature.
I asked myself how is a position like this being formed?
(speaking really generally now) At some point you see these people who seem to be doing really good in everything. Then probably you feel you don’t. Maybe you’ll try this and that and it’s not going to work. Maybe you won’t even try. One way or the other, you decide that it’s impossible to have it all. Perhaps because you think it’s too difficult, perhaps because you tend to give up and don’t have the habit of fighting and searching for solutions. Perhaps because you don’t want to make an effort and put as much energy as it seems to be required. Maybe just the idea of hard work makes you tired.
Then you slide into the position of a critic. You start criticizing people who are constantly trying to become better, who are aiming to optimize every area of their lives. You ask ‘What is all that stress about, why can’t you just chill and stop measuring and optimizing every aspect of yourself?’. You are annoyed by these people pushing forward, because you won’t keep up. You put labels on them, using negative, stigmatizing and mocking definitions.
You tell people they should relax and simply live their lives. However, that is the way people choose to live their lives. In fact, they’ve made this decision quite consciously. They’ve decided they want to constantly develop, grow and expand their abilities and knowledge. They believe it’s possible. They have a positive attitude towards their goals and that gives them lightness and tailwind, instead of a paralyzing negative thought chain.
The idea you have of self-development is crucial here. Whether it means pressure, tension, stress, difficulty, pain or enthusiasm, passion, joie de vivre, satisfaction, inspiration. And here comes the most important thing: the key is in your hands. It is only in your own control to change your idea and your attitude towards anything from negative to positive.
If not for exploring and expanding your capabilities and becoming a better human being, what else would you live for?
If you want to give your children a higher starting point in life than the one you had, how are you planning to do that without reaching that higher point yourself?
Striving to balance all aspects of your life and not neglecting any of them is the right way to go. You don’t have to work at the expense of your health or social life. Your love life doesn’t have to suffer, so you can pursue professional goals, or vice versa.
I think it’s a great idea to get up early every day, exercise at the beginning of the day to activate your energy, set your goals for the day, go to work in a good mood, be focused and productive during the day and go to the theater with friends in the evening, read a book or have fun with your loved one. All that is indeed very possible — you just have to use your brain to understand how to achieve it.
The question has never been ‘Can I have it all?’, but ‘How can I have it all?’. And that is a very good question to think about.
Rearranging how you spend your time could be done simply by tracking, recording and analyzing your activities and the time you spend on them. If you want to change something in your life, you always have to first become completely aware of its current state, analyze it, see what can be optimized, and then just do it.
You might think that it’s not so simple and you might be right. However, no one is going to figure it all out for you. Only you can do that for yourself. Here’s the thing: if you are reading this now, you have open access to all the information you might need in order to find out how to achieve anything in life. You have the internet. You have your brain. What else do you need?
We live in a time, where everything is more possible than it ever was before. With social media you can grow your network of people like you could never do before. You can start writing and publishing just like this here, if you want to be an author. You can make movies with your phone and broadcast them globally. You can reach almost every person on Earth and exchange ideas or ask questions. You have open access to literally tons of information on everything.
This is why I don’t understand why intelligent media like DIE ZEIT publish such limiting thoughts sometimes.
I guess technology evolves faster than our collective consciousness. Isn’t that reason enough for us to focus on developing our consciousness faster in the first place?
When you’re asking if self-improvement apps are really making us better people or just control freaks, you are simply asking the wrong question. It’s ridiculous to think that some app or anything outside of yourself could make your life better and base anything on that assumption.
In that sense, the circumstances of open access we live in are there only to motivate us to use our brains even more. Sit down and figure out how to achieve everything you want in life. You’ve got everything you need.