I Decided – The Power of the Mind

Growth is about the conscious effort exerted by the need to survive.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I think this question should be abolished by law. Yes, I still cannot answer this question.

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Whereas I can sympathize with the notion that the sooner one discovers their passion, the sooner they can strive towards it, in cases like mine, it is a societal burden instilled at a tender age.  So to commemorate my birthday and answer the burning questions in my mind, I decided to pick up my pen and start writing again.

As I continue in the path of self-discovery, I find myself at a crossroad yet again. Whilst in the past this would have been my breaking point, today, I consider such a crossroad as my breakthrough. Fascinating isn’t it? What gives? I’ve discovered that the human mind has an exponential capacity for growth, but what d we do with it? We limit ourselves within the confines of one box, one way of thinking and way one way of life. It is here that someone will then ask, ‘what do you propose can be done?’ The answer is simple. Each and every single person must DECIDE. A conscious decision is the answer.

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This epiphany has nothing to do with a life altering moment. As an individual I continue to struggle with my daily battles and demons, while every day I move closer to unlocking my purpose by challenging my values and beliefs. So I ask again, what gives? My attitude is the answer. I decided to develop my thought process. As opposed to heeding to my primal instincts, I have chosen to consciously experience each and every decision that I make. But what does this have to do with anything? As a result, I am no longer confined within the walls that make up my world, but rather I can sink into the sea of infinite possibilities and call forth my reality. This phenomenon is otherwise popularly known as the law of attraction.

Here’s an illustration:

Two people of the same age, gender, sex, race, religion and similar status quo apply for the same job. Fortunately, they both receive positive feedback and are called back for the interview. Going seemly well they are now awaiting the final verdict and ultimately each person draws a conclusion.

 Person One says: I gave it my all therefore I am reassured of the outcome.

 Person Two says: I gave it my all but in such situations there are many variables that can determine the final outcome.

Who do you think got the job?

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The law of attraction dictates that we attract whatever we focus on. It is believed that regardless of age, nationality or religious beliefs, we are all susceptible to the laws which govern the universe. In that sense, what we think, say or do inherently reflects the reality we experience. However, a common misconception with many is that Person One and Person Two, alternatively the optimist and the pessimist are two separate individuals. They are, in fact, one and the same person. The only difference is the conscious decision of which attitude one wants to adapt; a task that many people fail. We often witness that it is easier to feed one’s ego and desires as opposed to training the mind to think positively.

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I do not write and share my experience believing that I have mastered this philosophy but rather I want to show everyone that IMPOSSIBLE is a relative work. Personally, I’ve decided to see the words ‘I’M POSSIBLE’. If I believe it, visualize it, focus and persist, I will inherently attract my envisioned reality. Most importantly, I believe that you too are capable of the same.

The World is Mine Oyster

No one in life is lost, just touring before arriving at their final destination.

“I’m anxious…”

Sonia would say. “Why?” Even she does not know although she is certain that there is something missing. I have the same feeling. It’s an emptiness, a feeling of incompleteness, but what specifically it is, I am yet to discern.  Truth be told, it is bothersome. I can feel it deep in my heart. It grows deeper with passing days. Is it because I am idle? Unlikely. This feeling cannot be eclipsed by temporary activities.

At such times, it’s common to seek relief. Though many ascribe to various different causes, the reality is that psychological illness is a disease of the mind and is curable with the proper medication. Some turn to comfort food hoping to feel better and others to drugs to escape a reality that they feel is too much to bear. These “solutions” are only a temporary fix. We are lost inside a maze filled with possibilities that we presently haven’t found the right path to truly becoming whole.

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Globally, an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression. It’s considered the most common mental disorder. Leave aside the usual down with the blues, feeling under the weather or being in a funk. The difference between a normal person and a depressed person is that, a normal person is capable “jump starting” themselves out of this situation unlike a depressed person. It affects millions of people physically, mentally and emotionally yet 80% of individuals affected do not receive treatment.

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Nonetheless, being lost does not imply a lack of emotional attachment. Rather one could have a loving and supportive family as well as close knit friendships and relationships, yet there’s a void to be filled. It’s an indication of self discovery. Once you have started to question yourself, you are already on the right path to enlightenment. The only problem is we do not know how long the journey of discovery will be. J.K. Rowling is a good example of this journey. Until the age of 30 she was a struggling single mother but today she is one of the most recognized and wealthiest writers in the world.

In order to have the mountain top experience, we have to pass through valleys and trenches. What does this mean? For one to appreciate the happiness in life, you must first experience suffering. Therefore, I encourage everyone to understand that the void, the loss and the hardship are the fruits of our joy and success. Therefore, we must hold on tight.

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I am a firm believer in life’s purpose and destiny. As Lao-Tzu, the famous philosopher says “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” It may not be clear from the beginning, but everyone ends up where they are intended. In the meantime, Shakespeare advices that “laughing faces do not mean there is absence of sorrow… but, it means that they have the ability to deal with it.” The breakthrough will take patience hence tackle life with a smile. You don’t know who that smile will touch and how they will play an influential role in your life. The world has lots to offer so I will persevere because a close friend once told me ‘hard work beats talent any day’. Your attitude should be, “the world is mine oyster”.

For Granted

When life is in perfect tune, don’t forget to turn your eyes to those who need it.

I have an Iphone, a decent car and a family with both loving parents. Note I keenly insist on the ‘both’ as in duos, they are alive and well and for that I’m thankful. I believe that I am a glass half-full kind of person but then I tend to hold my fair share and probably some else’s share of complaints (a less fortunate person at that).

‘That’s not right!’, ‘I want it, but can’t afford it’, ‘All these cool kids are so pretentious’ (Just cause I’m not one)

In such a situation, I only see things in one perspective, mine. As long as it’s not going my way, it’s wrong. Life is a perfect mix of yin and yang. Alternatively, you get what you give. By closing myself to only one outlook on life, I have ignored many that require my attention. What’s in it for me? For as long as my perfect bubble is intact, all is well.  So to myself (and anyone who wants to listen) I say this, no matter how you feel, get up, dress up and never give up.

Even so, don’t close and size me up in a category just yet. The human nature is egoistic and selfish. It’s all about survival. However, our need to survive has been tampered by globalization’s need for consumption. Clearly I too have been affected by this ideology. It ‘s no longer simply about survival but rather it is survival with comfort. I had an Iphone 5 but as soon as the Iphone 6 was out I wanted it too. Just like everyone, I felt like queuing the shop on release date, but I couldn’t afford it and my parents were not going to indulge me. After extensive months of saving, I finally got it. Although I don’t regret the decision, looking back at all I did just to get latest version of the same phone I already had, I can only laugh about it now; its in the past. Yet I can justify that the experience did leave me with a lesson or two.

Let’s make it worse. As I was complaining the other day, I mention to my confidant that I hate having to hustle trying to convince parents to see things your way when they don’t have a united front. For several minutes I went on, with no feedback until she finally speaks in a monotone and says “at least you have parents to complain about”. At this point, I ventured into new territory. It was a glimpse of someone else’s life, a glass half-empty perspective. I just felt foolish.

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We don’t realize things until they are painted to us in black and white. While at that precise moment my thoughts were ‘she’s such a downer’ ultimately what she said remained creeping at the back of my mind. In this consumption based world, we take many things for granted. We have gotten used and comfortable with material possession and the need for more and this has made us selfish. Our attitudes towards life need an adjustment. The middle class is most notable of this behavior. Children these days no longer feel the joy and emphasis of age limit. For instance, personally my parents would get as a laptop at the age of 15. These days, its child abuse if they don’t have a smart phone in fifth grade. What do you think they’ll demand at 15?

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In the spirit of Christmas, the yin is to share a meal with friends and family. On the other hand, the yang includes all the unfortunate people who have less than their basic needs. So this holiday, I ask everyone to change perspective. Let’s make it a habit never to take anything for granted, not the family, friends and the things we own. For a minute consider this, the 5 pairs of sneakers you consider lacking, in another perspectives, those 5 pairs of sneakers could mean the world to 5 different people. Having a variety of things is not a crime, we simply have to remember to appreciate what we have become not everyone is in the same situation.  On that note, even Kim Kardashian has gotten into the spirit this holiday and is giving away 1000 shoes for charity. The act of seeing someone in need and lending a hand, it’s the greatest gift to the receiver.

Circumstance

You are defined by your actions, not by your circumstance.

Nothing is new, I couldn’t sleep. So, from my bed, at 3 in the morning I decided to look outside my window. Compared to the hustle and bustle of the week, it was peaceful and quiet. The office building opposite lit up the street but not one car makes its way down the road. I liked the tranquility. I realize, as my day has yet to come to an end, to someone else, less than an hour away their day would begin. Is it fair?

Every day the sun gracefully rises and sets to the west and every day carries different meaning, struggles and happiness. As I stare out my window, wide awake, I ponder upon the complex network of multi-cultured people that dwell on this planet, each one going about their everyday life. Again I ask, is it fair?

Just yesterday I read a quote by John Clarke – which also prompted my need to write this article – it stated “how can a slave and master both worship the same God, when both of them expect their prayers to be answered by this very same God?” I don’t know about you but Clarke definitely got me thinking. Atheist aside, we all believe in God (despite the various denominations). Belief is supposed to raise hope and give purpose to life. The fact is, all human beings have free will. It’s the ability to decide what we believe is best under our circumstances.

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Religiously, on the basis on free will and circumstance, how is it then that some are condemned for the choices they make? Who determines the right from wrong? As an atheist, over the years its been scientifically understood that humanity’s primary objective is to survive.  Only the fittest among us shall survive hence procreate over generations, which is through adaptation. Then again, in the endeavor to survive, why are others judged for their choices? It’s a perplexing concept.

As a Christian, my belief has always been that God gave us free will but we become responsible for our actions. Socialization instills in us the nature of morality, the right and wrong, the good and bad. Therefore, the decision we make have a personal reflection on oneself. Upon meeting a liberal English pastor, I began reflecting on my belief. According to him, I have a privileged outlook of life. Same goes to the many educated individuals in the world who don’t suffer in poverty. My socialization and status quo are privileged thus should not be taken for granted. He further explains, a child who is born and raised under poverty for instance, whose parents like all, only want the best for their child however incapable turns towards prostitution as a girl or dealing drugs as a boy, are they to blame for the choices they made under their circumstance? Since humanity is all about survival, then this child, with little to nothing, is s/he to blame for the poor choices? As to them, as a matter of life and death, they choose to live inadequately rather than the alternative. A common phrase ‘it’s better to do something than nothing at all.’ To be clear, I am not justifying any actions on the basis of poor circumstances. Rather, I want to understand the choices and behaviors that are influence by circumstance.

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Alternatively let us consider the other coin, the world of the elite. It is not uncommon to use marriage as an instrument of securing wealth and social status. There consists of arranged marriages, marriages of convenience as well as marriages of transaction. Hereby, both parties mutually benefit economically as well as socially. According to the elite however, such behavior is considered acceptable. They have to consider the survival of generations. Nevertheless, when the same principle is applied between a member of the elite and a partner of a lesser cohort, society constructs such behavior as social climbing. The connotation of which is negative.  Shouldn’t those who are privileged be role models at promoting positive free will and not the vice versa?

The world is a complex food chain and human behavior makes it all the more difficult to decipher. It’s taken years for sociologist to understand patterns of human behavior, and there’s more in the horizon. Circumstance acts as the significant determining factor of human outcome but is not the sole factor for our actions. We as humans are responsible for our free will. Therefore acting on our instinct to survive we must use the cards dealt to create a fruitful outcome.

A Romance for the Decades

It’s a Cinderella story. Not the part where the clock strikes midnight but the part where the prince is determined to find the rightful owner of the shoe…

Isn’t it a cliché? Talks of true love, the one or happily ever after? Yes, life is not a fairy tale. But I have witnessed true love in my life; hence there’s no way I can believe otherwise. This couple’s love story is ordinary, at the same time, mind-boggling. The two strangers met at university, and that was the beginning. Eventually they got married and started a family of their own. Like I said, this isn’t a fairy tale, this couple has been through their fair share of struggles, through it all they have endured and prospered. This is my definition of a romance for the decades.

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It is unfortunate to say, but I have never been in love. “A heart break is worse than breaking a bone” says my friend. Why? Her justification is simple. With a broken bone there is medication to numb the pain whilst there is no such medication for a broken heart. One simply has to endure every painful moment before they recuperate. Yet even with this in mind, I am determined to find true love.

The truth is I am at that phase in life where half of my friends are contemplating where the best rave for the weekend is where as the other half are happily engaged or pregnant. I am at a crossroad but, I envy the latter. To some, I openly indulge in their bubbles while others, well, actions speak louder than words (ahem, I worry for their egos). But I love them all the same.

Who are they? Who, despite the drawbacks of dating, have me willing to risk my heart for a taste of their happiness? They mean the world to me. They are conventional African man and woman. They wholeheartedly fulfill their conjugal roles, with the man and the breadwinner and the woman providing emotional support. But then, what makes them special? It’s a Cinderella story. Not the part where the clock strikes midnight but the part where the prince is determined to find the rightful owner of the shoe.

Being traditionally African, I have not heard much of their story, in fact, only the basics. Nonetheless, I saw a sane man go crazy; his actions were enough to make me a believer. The husband was willing to search all stores in the city to find the one specific shoe for his wife and would not settle for anything less. Although his efforts were fruitless, his actions go beyond commending.

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Sometimes in love, it’s the actions of each partner that are endearing rather than their verbal communication. This couple has celebrated 35 years together and the shared communion is still present today as it was when they first met. Many will share in the joy of this story. However, with modern times, the sacred institution of marriage has lost its significance. Couples tie the knot for various reasons but love doesn’t make it upon the top 3. The union of matrimony is a promise between two people, that should never be broken. But statistically, the divorce rate tends to be generally higher that those who rate of those who wed. What has society come to?

Therefore I shall admit, I want to find my prince. The one I will share my life with until death does as part. I want to imitate this couple, whose love will last for years, who additionally also happen to be… my parents.

A Fateful Encounter

What is the purpose of fate if we shape our own destiny?

This is not a ‘happy-ending’ kind of story. Neither is it, a sad one. It’s about the cycle of life. Flaws are part and parcel of human nature. The beauty is in accepting the good and bad in order to survive. I want to understand the purpose of life; the reason behind our existence and the answer to why some events take place in our lives.

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I’ve recently come to a point where I’ve started to question my path in life. Where am I headed? Why did this happen to me? How come I feel like am floating? To those in their thirties it’s acknowledged as a mid-life crisis. Then for us in our twenties, should I consider it a process of self discovery? Nonetheless, in today’s fast track world, I am faced with the fear of missing out.

In passing conversation you overhear that, ‘fate gets its own way while destiny is up to you.’ It indulged my curiosity. The terms fate and destiny are used so lightly everyday and never given a second thought. By definition, fate is ‘the preordained course of one’s life that will occur because of or in spite one’s actions’; whereas destiny refers to ‘a set of predetermined events within one’s life that one takes an active course in shaping.’ On the contrary, fate generally carries a pessimistic connotation as compared to its optimistic counterpart destiny. I struggle to fathom why such is so. Therefore, I share my story to the world and let them be the supreme judges.

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Second Year of University I found myself attracted to a guy. It was not a crush since it was the first time to lay eyes on him. Yet I was intrigued. In a crowd with friends, they laughed honestly. His aura was inviting and in passing our eyes met for a mere second. As he disappeared, so did my temporary spell. Shaking it off, I went on my merry own way. A year later, making my way to the gym, a shoulder tap draws me to a halt. As I turned around, it was fateful. Mesmerized, it was then the second time to lay eyes on him. Pleasant as the moment was, he was flabbergasted. A split second later he apologized and explained that he mistook me for a friend and that the resemblance was uncanny. Confidently he moves forward to introduce himself. It was the beginning of a good friendship which grew deeper into a relationship. Unfortunately, one that ended before it began. Once again, we were strangers with a shared memory.

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Opposites do attract. As I am a vivacious extrovert, he was a reticent introvert. Yet I was always in awe of him from the first day. So despite my actions to ignore a momentary spell-bound attraction to a stranger, fate had other plans which led to our eventual demise. Fate has a purpose. Its mission is to educate. Through fateful encounters with life – both positive and negative – a life lesson can be depicted. These lessons are the fundamental steps that lead us to pave our own destiny. Destiny is the result of predetermined events in our lives where such events act as moral compass that we use to guide and shape our futures.