Tag Archives: ideas

The Dying Meaning of Compassion: Just a Line On Your Receipt?

Image by Joey Lawrence

In today’s world, everything is “fat free”. For some reason we still marry “until death do us part” though divorce rates say otherwise, and on the internet we see articles like ‘10 “Amazing” Dog Houses’ or ‘5 “Amazing” Facts About Chocolate’. Are dog houses really all that “amazing”? These words have one thing in common: they have all lost their meaning. Like “liberalist” and even “love”, their overuse and lack of appreciation takes away their specialty. 

So what about “compassion”? Media and politicians love to shove this word down the public’s throat, typically after some national disaster. 

“Show compassion, buy this shirt and some of your money will go through our agency and (maybe) go towards helping these people in need!” 

Of course this is not what they say, but this is essentially what it is. 

“America, we need to have compassion for those affected by this disaster. Send money to this fund!” 

When broken down to its Latin roots, “compassion” stands for “co-suffering”, but by today it simply means “to have a personal connection, empathy, and sympathy with those who suffer”. What many fail to realize is, although the government and charitable agencies help the needy, money alone does not reach the poverty of the soul. I believe we need to restore our original meaning of compassion and take a more personal approach to banishing issues like poverty. 

While buying a ticket at my local theatre, the cashier asked if wanted to donate a dollar to a children’s fund. I always give to these requests when possible, but being charitable in this way sparks no true compassion – no personal connection. My donation is out of sight and out of mind once I hand it over. I don’t even get to witness the fruits of my generosity. So I forget all about it, and my good deed is given nothing more than it’s own line on my receipt. Is that compassion? 

Of course, money is essential in fixing society’s issues, but giving this way seems to have one of two effects on most people. You can give your dollar and go on your way feeling like you’ve done your part, or you give your dollar and never think of it again because you see and feel no benefit – no bliss in helping others. Unfortunately, in dealing with donors on a daily basis, I know all too well how “compassion fatigued” people get when realizing their money has seemingly been thrown into a void. 

Monetary donations are good for immediate and temporary fixes, but it’s going to take the crucial role of compassionate individuals to banish these problems for good. Money is not personal, and when we individuals make no personal connection to those suffering with issues like poverty, the real solutions to these tribulations lay stagnant. 

So let’s revive the meaning of “compassion”, let’s deal intimately with poverty. If we all realize that those who are impoverished are just as human with just as deep of feelings; if we learn what we all have in common, we can start teaching the world how to react to the visible poor: not by turning a blind eye, but by reaching into the soul of poverty. 

I suggest reading this excellent article on cultivating compassion at ZenHabits. Personally my favorite practice is the “commonalities practice” (#3 in the article). In this, Leo Babauta states: 

“At the root of it all, we are all human beings. We need food, and shelter, and love. We crave attention, and recognition, and affection, and above all, happiness. Reflect on these commonalities you have with every other human being, and ignore the differences.” 

 What do you think, readers?


 

Update…

Sorry folks for the slight delay of today’s post. I went to a cookout the actual day this post was to be done, and must have gotten food posioning because my stomach was acting in revenge for quite some time. I ended up doing a lot of reading on this particular topic of “compassion”, and wound up ordering a book titled, The Tragedy of American Compassion by Marvin Olasky, which seems to touch upon (in depth, of course) the dying meaning of this word. So I may have more to say on this issue once I get this book in my hands, but for now, have a great day and thanks for reading.

Unleashing the Mind’s Potential with Stream of Consciousness Writing

I’m one known to think too much about matters I shouldn’t burden myself with. I tend to have a lot on my mind and it becomes overwhelming!

What my boyfriend suggested to me was some stream of conscious writing. I was confused. I did this type of writing every morning for my Creative Writing class in high school and it never really helped me. But in class I realized we had a time limit and were sometimes told what to write about. So what happens when we don’t have these limits?In today’s post, I’ll be touching on:

  • What stream of consciousness writing is and how to do it!

What is it? And what is it good for?

Stream of conscious writing is a technique circled around release. Sure our mind has the capacity to think about and carry all of our problems, feelings, and thoughts, but when there comes to be too many facts and stored information, our minds are clouded and we tend to lose our ability to quickly reason through our problems.

Who is it for?

  • those who are stressed on a day-to-day basis
  • those who seem to have one problem after the other
  • those who have too much on their mind and unsolved problems
  • those who are looking for inspiration or that creative spark
  • those with writer’s block or those who are looking for some new ideas
  • those who want to improve their memory, vocabulary, and reasoning

How to stream write

What you’ll need:

  • a computer or
  • pen and paper or
  • a typewriter
  • basically something to write with – preferably one you’re fastest with!

Here’s the key: don’t limit yourself at all. The only way your mind can uncover ideas, repressed thoughts, and thousands of other possibilities is if you just let your writing flow freely. Don’t worry about typos, leave them there unless it’s absolutely vital to the meaning of your writing.

Let go of any inhibitions and write. No matter how profound, no matter how sad, no matter how taboo, no matter how repressed and deep into your mind it is, no matter how shallow, seemingly pointless, unimportant, trivial, no matter anything.

Write. Write. Write. CAPITALIZE. don’t capitalize. who cares about punctuation. Show your thoughts.

Give yourself about an hour. After writing for a bit, you’ll feel refreshed and unburdened. As if the accumulated thoughts you’ve been sweeping aside for months have been lifted from your shoulders and tucked away into one place.

Now save your document or hide away your journal. If you want it to be private, save it as an email draft or rename it to something no one will suspect.

When you’re ready to write more, open up the same document and continue from where you left off. Just make sure it’s all in one place. It’s easier to go back to and reference. You’ll be surprised at the phases you go through and twists and turns you take to get to where you ended. Don’t be shocked when you realize that your stream writing is a vault of new ideas for projects and other things.

My Experience

I took my boyfriend’s advice and did a little writing of my own. Surprisingly, I found I went through a few phases.

I began by writing about what happened earlier in the day, typical journal stuff. Then it moved to a critique of a movie I had seen earlier and some thoughts on how society may have viewed that movie. (By now, I had already come up with a few ideas for future blog posts!) Then I wrote about stream of conscious writing itself, and how, after a while, my hands just flowed freely, my thoughts translated from my brain through my arm to the keys of my keyboard so fluently and uninterrupted.

Every thought somehow connected to the other like a puzzle. One thing lured my mind to the next, and soon I delved into deeper topics about my feelings towards a few friends who have caused me much repressed mental strain. I came to clear, crisp conclusions about what I should do and how I should react when certain situations arise with these friends.

These are conclusions that, unfortunately, my boyfriend has been telling me about for months! For some reason, though, I had to come to these conclusions myself, and stream of conscious writing allowed me to do that with ease (and unknowingly until afterward!).

Try it out and tell me how it goes in the comments!

photo credit: CreativeArtistry | ntxpeach68 | darkmatte
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30 Hacks and Tips to Save Your Precious, Precious Time

Readers, readers, readers! Balancing school, my new job, and my blog has become a bit easier as I am now following and participating in Darren’s 31 Day Challenge to Build a Better Blog. If you have a blog, you should join in as well. Today’s task is to write a list post, but coincidentally, I had planned for today to be a list post anyway!

We all love to read websites with “hacks” for life. “Hacks” in the self-improvement sense are shortcuts and easier ways to do things that improve the quality of how we live.

A chapter entitled “I’m on My Honeymoon, But If You Need Me…” in a book called The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch featured some favorite time hacks. During the time he wrote this book, Randy was battling terminal pancreatic cancer and was given a mere six months to live. In these few months, Randy learned that his time was valuable, and that he wanted to spend less time on menial tasks, and fill every single second with something of importance, even if he’s simply on hold during a phone call.

He imparted his wisdom to the world in this book, and here I’ll share some of Randy’s time hacks along with a few of my own that you can use to make the most of your life.

  • “Time must be managed like money.” As his first tidbit of wisdom, Randy stated simply that we must invest time into things that matter.
  • “The most useful to-do lists break tasks into small steps.” This seems like common sense, but not many of us do this! (Including me until today.) Just like writing a novel or cleaning up your house, small steps help you to be more organized and motivated to keep going. Taking on too much at a time can be draining and overwhelming.
  • “Ask yourself: Are you spending your time on the right things?” Here, Randy mentioned a clipping he had held onto from a newspaper in Virginia which depicts a pregnant woman who protested against a local construction site. She worried about the possible effect the loud jackhammers could have on her unborn child, but get this: she’s smoking a cigarette. Certainly, she could exert her time and worry toward greater issues.

  • “Rethink the telephone.” I thought this was the most interesting tip. Randy mentions that we live in a culture where we spend a lot of time on hold. It may seem like an insignificant problem, but the time you spend holding the phone up to your ears and waiting while listening to that nice elevator music adds up. (Especially if your job requires you to be on the phone a lot!) While on hold, Randy suggests switching to speaker phone so your hands are free to do other things. Also, he mentions a few techniques to shorten unnecessary or less important calls like standing during a conversation, which will make you more apt to speed things along or keeping a project in plain sight as a reminder to what you must get back to after a call.

Though Randy has since passed, these tips remain immortalized as a reminder to us about what we can do to make the most of our time. Live as if we may vanish tomorrow, but make sure you fill it with quality and not quantity! Here are a few tips I’ve come across in my daily routine that have been the difference between hectic mornings and the beginning of a good day.

General

  1. PRIORITIZE! What is more important and hardest? Do it first.
  2. When planning your day, give yourself some free time in case something comes up.
  3. Combine activities when possible, but only if they’re easy! Cook your breakfast while keeping a copy of that book you have to read lying open on the counter. Don’t multi-task if you’re working on tougher projects, however, because it could produce mediocre work.
  4. Take breaks, relax, breathe, and de-stress.

Daily Routine

  1. When getting ready in the morning, do everything you must do in one room of the house then move on to the next. This will keep you from running back and forth through the halls.
  2. Lay out your outfit and accessories for tomorrow before you sleep.
  3. Do not get on the internet in the morning if you know yourself to get caught up surfing meaningless sites during your precious time.
  4. Start your day 15 to 30 minutes earlier. It may be hard first, but those fractions of an hour can be used to wake yourself up, eat a healthier breakfast at a steady pace, feed your kittens, and read some news before scurrying out of your house every morning.
  5. Prepare ingredients or cook large meals the night before you serve them.
  6. Try shopping online, but only on trusted sites. (Especially during the holidays!)
  7. Fold or hang your clothes immediately after they are done drying. This will keep your clothes from wrinkling and you’ll avoid needing to iron.
  8. If you have children or a partner, share chores with them. For children it is a lesson in responsibility. For your partner it’s only fair.
  9. Create laundry baskets or designated areas ahead of time for your reds, whites, delicates, and such. These can double as baskets of folded clothes for each member of the house to put up.
  10. It’s funny and silly, but remember those two tabs you can fold in on the side so your aluminum foil doesn’t fall out every time you grab a piece!
  11. Brush your teeth in the shower while you rinse off.
  12. Limit your shower time. Identify what you’ll do first, second, third, and so on. Leave your conditioner on while you scrub yourself down or brush your teeth!
  13. Pay your bills in one sitting.
  14. Try online banking and bill paying.

Work

  1. If someone at your job asks you for a favor and you’re swamped with other tasks, simply say “No, I can’t do that right now”. Your time is precious to you so protect it!
  2. OR if someone asks you for a favor, trade some time with them. If they ask you to shovel snow out of their driveway, you can ask them to maybe babysit one day or take your mail in while you’re on vacation.
  3. Get a planner and amass all dates and assignments into one, but keep it organized!
  4. Keep a simple ‘inbox’ and ‘outbox’ for projects and papers you must go through. Manage your paperwork in this simple way. I know having too many papers lying around can become a major distraction.
  5. Take clearer notes.
  6. When doing a writing project, don’t worry about perfectionism. Get your basic ideas and information down, and then go back and edit later.

Technology

  1. Learn more keyboard shortcuts! My boyfriend gets his research papers done hours before me because he memorized vital keyboard shortcuts for the programs he uses most often. It’s very useful, and I would recommend it to everyone.
  2. Record your favorite shows with TiVo or DVR and watch them in your spare time. Don’t rush home just to catch the newest season of Heroes.
  3. Limit your activities on the internet to a definitive amount. For example: check your email only three times a day, update your Facebook once or twice, comment five times on your daily blogs.
  4. Create filters and folders for your email.
  5. Keep all of your usernames and passwords stored on a sheet of paper somewhere discreet.
  6. Learn to Google efficiently and effectively.

Do you have more time shortcuts that have been useful to you in your routine? Please feel free to share them in the comments. Tips like these are valuable and stick with us for a lifetime!

photo credit: John-Morgan | Alex Barth | chaps1 | SunriseOttah | spadgy
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Reviving Your Childhood and Satisfying Your Insatiable Curiosity

At a young age, my brother and I were constantly encouraged to explore. I spent my childhood satisfying my insatiable curiosity and conducting my own little experiments outside during summer days in Texas. Even today, at 18, I still enjoy going outside and lifting up rocks to find a slew of different bugs and creatures. (Only now I look them up online if I want to identify them – which I usually do!)

I still capture spiders in and around my house, identify them, observe their behaviors, and let them go outside. I still pull out earthworms from the dirt and look at them with awe. I still attempt to light fires using a magnifying glass and the sun! I fly paper airplanes and try to create the most efficient one. My brother and I even have fencing matches with the water noodles at the grocery store.

Don’t ever lose this. My childhood curiosity has now blossomed into a strong interest in everything and has given me a strong basis of knowledge. (Plus it was so fun!)

If you’ve never gone outside to play wall ball or TV tag with your siblings, if you’ve never gotten your feet a little dirty, used up your mom’s popcorn to try popping it with a magnifying glass, had water gun battles, or sold lemonade or made paper boats, do it now!

Many of us have forgotten how to do this without guilt or anxiety that, as adults, we must be doing something that is worthwhile. Take some time away from your responsibilities and satisfy your natural human curiosity. If you have kids, share the experience with them!

Some psychotherapists call your inner child the “true self.” Spending some time with your inner child can boost your self-esteem and help you to solve deep-rooted problems that possibly could have followed you through your adulthood. Talk with your inner child as if you were its guardian, reassure it, and uncover any internal battles.

It’s never too late to have a happy childhood!

photo credit: fayebatka | prozac74
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A Different Perspective: Simulated Reality

Imagine we’re living in someone else’s computer simulation or someone else’s movie. Some kind of simulated reality. Nothing is different. Our feelings are real and really there, but we’re just characters in this simulation made by someone “bigger”. Someone who is observing us or possibly controlling our fates. Characters that feel, do, and think just as our “creator” does. Why not? We are getting closer and closer to creating simulations just like this. Ever play The Sims?

Maybe we’re part of some infinite loop of simulations. Maybe our video games and simulations that mirror our own reality (or even other realities) house people just like us, with feelings just like us, with the ability to think about and question their own reality, just like us. In their own little world. Maybe Sonic the Hedgehog is real in his mind! Maybe the Green Hill Zone is real… in their world.

Or maybe not! Maybe that’s too silly.

I’ve been thinking of doing frequent posts like this that just give you a different perspective on our different aspects of life. Some aspects may be bigger, deeper, and more meaningful (and possibly controversial) like this one talking about our reality, and some may be small like looking through the eyes of someone more impoverished or taking a different view into the mind of someone who maybe does something socially unacceptable. I love changing perspectives and seeing the world from different eyes. It opens up my own eyes and also a whole new world and way of thinking.

(There’s a theory for this entitled the Simulation Theory or the Simulation Argument. I haven’t had time to read up on it, but I feel I will soon. I want to touch up on it more later, it’s really interesting.)

photo credit: rastafabi
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