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Being gracious in all things

I’ve noticed in the past several weeks leading up to and following the election in the United States, two things that I’ve found to be quite ironic as an outcome of the election.

The first idea, being that there have been a large portion of people on either side of the debate prior to the election have called for civility and to put an end to ignorant name calling if their supported candidate won.

Prior to the election, many Democratic supporters of Hillary would suggest that people shouldn’t vote for Donald Trump because he is a racist, sexual predator, whose methods of garnering support have come from name calling and defaming his opponents among other things. These same supporters also suggested that should Hillary win, Trump supporters should graciously accept the result and not protest in response to the outcome, as Trump admittedly stated that did he not win the election, he would have sought to contest the results of the vote.

Conversely, Trump supporters would suggest that people shouldn’t vote for Hillary because she was a murderer, a thief, a liar and was the epitome of evil. Likewise, I believe they felt the same things as the Democrats believing that should their candidate win the election, they should bow out gracefully.

The second idea comes as a result of Donald Trump winning the future presidency. All the calls for civility, name calling have been for naught, and division in the united states have seemed to not only continued but possibly escalated.

There were violent and destructive riots and protests by many who opposed a Trump presidency. These people were in protest out of fear that they felt would come as a result of a presidential candidate that ran a campaign that focused on some racial tensions that have come out of the war in the middle east. Liberal news outlets reported hate crimes that targeted visible minorities and immigrants. People were physically and verbally attacked for their religious beliefs, and the colour of their skin. Fear among these communities were rising as these reports flooded out over social media. These same people called those who voted for Trump ignorant, stupid and a plethora of other names with negative impact.

On the other side of the spectrum, those who supported Trump were excited to say the least, but the decorum that they called for pre-election was still nowhere to be found. They called for civility among the Clinton supporters, and asked that the name calling and mud flinging stop. They felt justified in their decision as their candidate of choice won. However, they did not exhibit any form of graciousness as they did exactly what they sought the the other side to stop doing. Thousands of posts on social media are vilifying those who supported Clinton, calling them ignorant, unintelligent, cry babies for not “graciously” accepting their defeat. The irony here is that there is need to be gracious not only in defeat but in victory as well.

I admit at the beginning of this post I had a clear direction of where I wanted to go with this, but as I’ve been writing and have begun to think through my points, the more directions I want to take this. So I’ll, try my best to sum up why I started this post to begin with.

There are  high tensions due in part to Liberal and Conservative media outlets. People go to the respective news source looking not for truth, or opinions that oppose their views but to find affirmation of what they already believe. They find exactly that in all the “articles” they read from their respective media outlets. The “truth” they want to find is all there in black and white. What many fail to see beyond this truth is that there are people involved. So wrapped up in being right, that people fail to see the reasoning behind all the protests, name calling and lack of civility. Millions of liberal/democrats are hurt and afraid and they want to know that their world will be safe, but they don’t get that sense of security from the conservative/republican side. All they have gotten were things like “suck it up, you lost”, “protests show your intelligence” and other hurtful things that have fueled their actions. Many conservatives now have a sense of pride from winning, but in doing so have over looked the fact that the other side is experiencing these feelings of hurt, fear and sadness.

While I can only offer what I would suggest to be a call for more graciousness and civility in all things, I doubt my influence or audience would be wide enough to make a change. People will continue to be persecuted for their beliefs, called ignorant for what they feel they know, and vilified for standing up for their own good. This makes me as an individual sad for our collective existence of humanity.While I know this article does not represent all democrats/republicans, or liberals/conservatives, it does represent the loudest voice among those same groups. While they may be the minority, sitting back and allowing these things to happen is (although cliche to say so) just as bad as saying them yourself. We need to remember that there are people out there who need love, who need to feel safe, who need to know that their opinions aren’t ignored and heard. While we may disagree with what the other side said, we need to be civil in how we listen to each other, how we work with one another, so that we may move forward in building up a future we can all be proud of.

I’m probably too idealistic in thinking this, but I will do my best to listen to those who need someone to listen to and spread as much love as I can within my area of influence.

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Overcoming the impossible

The title may be a bit misleading as what I’m trying to accomplish or going through isn’t really impossible per se, rather it’s an obstacle in my path of accomplishing what I want to accomplish in life. A lot of what I’m facing is really personal to me, as in they aren’t things that are influenced by an outside source. At times it really seems impossible to get through but I know that’s just a mental issue that I need to work through by trying to accomplish small things. There are a lot of pressures I feel personally as a writer, a creative, and in general I guess. The thing is that a lot of these pressures I feel are placed upon me by myself because of all the great things I want to accomplish and or become. This leads me to wonder and question a lot whether I am capable of doing such things at all, let along with the help from people around me. I think this is one of the reasons why so many people these days struggle, because of stresses and pressures that are imposed on them from either society or from within as is my case. I haven’t really been too open with everything I’m going through because well it’s just not something I’m used to. Really what is happening is that a lot of the times people such as myself, don’t know how to reach out to others. I’ve been accustomed to the fact that men should be strong willed, and asking for help is a sign of weakness. That isn’t the case by any means, but… maybe these are just excuses as well. I’ve begun to make little changes in my life, doing small things and while I am by no means perfect in everything I’m doing I’m making that effort, slowly but surely.

In any event, my journey over the next few months will be critical in determining my future. No pressure right? Ha!~

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The Ripples of Life

Life is pretty interesting most of the time. Everyday there will be choices we must make. The daily choices we make can have consequences both good and bad. One interesting thing about this is, we can’t ever fully see the scope of how far reaching our choices are. In an ideal world we try our best to make the choices we feel are best for us, but in all situations and circumstances we aren’t always able to choose the outcomes we’d like.

All our actions rely a lot on faith. We go to school in hopes that we can gain an education that will help us be employed. We work so that we can earn money to hopefully provide a better life for us and those around us. We follow laws in hopes that order in society will bring peace (this one is a bit of stretch). I blog in hopes that something I say will have an impact on someone out there, even if the reach of my posts are maybe a handful of people or less.

I sometimes wonder what my life would be like had a went to a different school growing up. Would I be the way I am now? Was I shaped by the friends I had at my school? If I had different friends would I be a completely different person? Or would nothing change because that’s just the way I am? These are sort of the larger ripples of life choices that we can’t really see the effects of, because they become so immersive that you just won’t know.

The ripples of choice that I was thinking about was more along the lines of random acts of kindness, that while we might not be able to see any effects from, sometimes do come back to us in some way shape or form. I have heard countless stories and accounts of individuals who have changed their lives completely because of one single act of kindness from someone in their lives. This change they enacted in their own lives prompted them to be more kind or generous to others, and the cycle goes on from there. I can’t recall a specific example of when my actions had a great and lasting impact, or rather I can’t think of times when I had a positive impact on people. I can think of a time when my negative actions towards a friend had a positive impact on his life and the lives of those he encountered. I was such a jerk as a child.

So one of my best friends growing up is an immigrant to Canada. When he first moved here, he was a portly child, and we affectionately called him fat all the time. He enjoyed eating KFC as a child in Hong Kong where he was from. He wasn’t all that athletic but enjoyed playing with us. We were friends but kids are mean creatures who don’t usually feel remorse for their actions. Over the course of several years we would pick on him, but because of my beliefs and the way we grew up we had developed a stronger friendship through religion. It was apparent when we were between the ages of 12-14 that he wasn’t as athletic as the rest of us. We would tease him about it but we accepted him for who he was. He was always strong in character and attitude, and still is to this day. He turned all the teasing we had done towards him in high school in to positive energy. He began to work out more to become stronger physically, by the middle of high school he was on his high school football team as a lineman. The habits he developed in high school made him really enjoy working out, something that he does professionally now as a physical trainer for performance athletes in a gym he co-owns. He attributes his desire to working out to us picking on him as a child. This isn’t the best example but it’s the only one that comes to mind right now, and it does illustrate how our actions can change people. We chose to be mean as children (some might think it’s inherent in children to be mean) and it caused him to change his life path and be where he is now. For the record he wanted to be a cop for the longest time even up until he was in university, and we are still best friends to this day.

While we can do our best to mitigate any extreme negative consequences, the reality of the matter is that our lives aren’t that simple. All we can do is do our best, treat others with kindness and hope that in the end all will be well, as it usually is, all it takes is time. Something that is precious and undervalued for it’s worth, but that’s another topic for another time.

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Still not sure what to do?

So as stated in my last post, I would be continuing with my commentary on what it takes in life to be motivated and to succeed. Granted I am in no position to speak from my own experience yet, but it is something that I can speak on because of the people I know in my life who are successful through their example. So with that disclaimer, I’ll continue to share my commentary. As discouragement is like a slow burning candle surrounded by kindling and dry wood all around, if left unattended could turn into a fiery inferno of depression. It needs to be kept in check and to be monitored and taken care of in order to not let it get out of hand.

Overcoming discouragement requires one to have support, from people around them, but going just being relying on those around you is having the humility to reach out to those around for support. This is one that I struggle with a lot when I am in these situations. I bring this up because often those who are in a state of discouragement are often a few steps away from depression. Which is another entirely different beast to tackle on it’s own. Why I bring up reaching out to your support network isn’t to burden them for “support” but to acknowledge and recognize your problem through admission. Admitting to someone else that you have a problem is hard. It also shows a willingness to change and a willingness to be open to suggestions as to how to improve.

The last thing I have to say about this for now, as there still are a lot of things I can say about this is and one could write a lot and lot about this subject but I am not the expert to do as such. Anyways the last thing that I wasn’t to suggest is to try to celebrate the small successes to remain as optimistic as possible. Having a positive outlook is one of the strongest things you can do to stay motivated through discouragement. Being able to see and have an end goal can be the drive to help get over the overwhelming wall that discouragement brings. Knowing that the path isn’t easy is always hard but also knowing that there will be better things in the future can help to motivate through discouraging times.

I’m clearly rambling at this point so I think I’ll end this here. Let me know in the comments below what helps encourage and motivate you when you’re discouraged.

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What to do?

What do you do when you’re in a funk? When you feel your life is stagnant and you are being overcome by distractions and discouragement. I’ve been hopeful for my prospects in life but it does get discouraging if you don’t feel as if anything is really happening. In my current situation, I did put myself out of a job in hopes of pursuing something that I found meaningful. It’s been a bit over a month now and here I am blogging on a daily basis because I have yet to receive any calls back from any job opportunities. So what does one normally do to get through discouragement?

Well one thing to not do is to stay at home doing “fun things”. This includes spending hours binge watching Netflix, YouTube, anime, or your favourite TV show. Or other things like playing video games to pass the time. While I am guilty of this behaviour, I know how destructive this is. At first it’s not so bad because you think things like “I still have lots of time”, “Just one or two shows won’t hurt me”, “I need to relax so I can release my creative energies” etc. You think of it, I’ve probably thought of it before and might even have told myself that lie too. But the problem that this form of entertainment is exactly that, just entertainment that doesn’t help you develop any sort of life skills or even develop you as a person. It promotes anti-social behaviours and these activities are often done alone. Don’t get me wrong being social and watching a movie or tv show with someone else is a perfectly valid activity to do. Doing these activities alone is usually the behaviour that leads down a dark road of late nights wasted pursuing these activities. Hours at a time there is a slow descent into doing them longer and longer to feel more fulfilled. Soon you’re spending all your waking hours trying to fill the void with these things but to no avail. I can say this with confidence because several years ago I had a severe video game addiction that was so destructive I almost dropped out of university, but that’s another story for another time.

Another thing to avoid is not as obviously apparent because it can seem like a good thing at first but if pursued too long it becomes just as bad. I’m speaking of keeping yourself busy. You might wonder, “how is keeping myself busy a bad thing?” Well let me explain. We as human beings feel that being busy is a sign of productivity, while being busy CAN be a sign of productivity it is in no way inclusive of being productive. Being productive can equal being busy, but being busy does not equal being productive. So lets take my life as the example, because well it’s a good example. Over the past several weeks, I have been what I’d like to call “busy”. I put busy in quotes because it’s precisely that. I’ve been doing things over the past several weeks since my unemployment and I have had little time to say I had nothing to do, but not all that time was done pursuing things that led to improvement. I would do menial things that took up time, but really didn’t change my situation or challenged me intellectually, physically or spiritually. So while I was busy, I haven’t really been doing things to “boost my stat points” (RPG reference, because I’m a nerd).

There are several other things to avoid but for now I’ll leave this blog at this and I’ll continue with this in my next post. I’ll follow these up with what to do instead, so stay tuned for that.

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FOMO

We as individuals, I am especially guilty of this, have this fear that there will be better things in store for us. This causes what has been deemed as a “Fear of Missing Out” or FOMO for short. I only learned about this acronym recently but it’s a theory that I’ve been aware of for quite a while. It’s something that’s sort of dictated a lot of how I lived my life in the past. I was always worried that the opportunities right in front of my face while they were good, weren’t the best. So because of that there were a lot of times I passed up on certain things because I felt that there was something better out there for me. Other times, because of that same fear of missing something better, I would over analyze my situation and then miss out because I took too long trying to come to a decision of what I should do.

These two situations are very general in scope because they are very much applicable to many people I know and what I assume to be the general population of people. Fear often leads to poor choices and inaction is very much something that is another result of fear. I find people who are able to overcome this very inspiring because this is such a big issue for me. Contrary to how people seem to perceive me, fear is very much a part of my life that I am still trying to overcome. I’m not saying I am unique in any way because fear to some extent is what motivates many people. Fear of failure, fear of letting others down, fear of disappointment, fear that someone bad will happen to those you love, or any number of other things can be a motivating factor in the lives of many. But that’s not how I want to live my life.

So the question then is how can one, such as myself who lives in fear or has this condition of FOMO over come it? Well for me one of the biggest things I need to work on is to stop thinking so much and just live in the moment. Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying don’t think at all, but be selective in what you think and how deeply you let something affect your actions. For example, in high school around grade 11 there was this girl I had been dating for a month or two (a long time in high school), she was cute, fun, and she was really into me. There was nothing really wrong with this girl, but one of my friends mentioned once that she wasn’t the most attractive girl (I was shallow at the time… I’d like to think I’ve changed). At first this didn’t bother me because I was young and in love… but as the next few days and weeks passed, what my friend said to me really had affected how I viewed my girlfriend. Shortly afterwards I broke up with this girl, not because of anything she had done wrong but because I was afraid of missing out on something better.  I know I’m a jerk but that was me in the past. Since then I’ve learned to not pass up on some opportunities, and more so to appreciate and be thankful for the things and people who are in front of me. Sometimes it still does take a little bit of time for me to realize and get over my fears but it’s a work in progress.

Even if there might be something better, if we do indeed have a fear of missing out. What seems better from the outside does not always mean it is better for you. If we always give up some things for something better then we’ll never have anything because there will always be something better. As for me, and where I am now. I’m pretty happy with my whole situation, it could be improved but I am not going to complain about what I have because on the whole. I think I’ve surrounded myself with some pretty great people who encourage and support me and things who give me the opportunity to pursue things that will ultimately help me to learn and grow. So really what more can I ask for?

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How not to go about finding the one… Or finding A one.

I’ll preface what I say with this quote from President Ezra Taft Benson:

“Now, brethren, do not expect perfection in your choice of a mate. Do not be so particular that you overlook her most important qualities of having a strong testimony, living the principles of the gospel, loving home, wanting to be a mother in Zion, and supporting you in your priesthood responsibilities.

“Of course, she should be attractive to you, but do not just date one girl after another for the sole pleasure of dating without seeking the Lord’s confirmation in your choice of your eternal companion.

“And one good yardstick as to whether a person might be the right one for you is this: in her presence, do you think your noblest thoughts, do you aspire to your finest deeds, do you wish you were better than you are?” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1988, 59; or Ensign, May 1988, 53).

As YSA sometimes we focus too much on trying to find that Disney ideal of prince charming or finding your princess on the first date. There are many people I’ve gone on dates with that have many qualities that are important to me and for one reason or another I haven’t been able to commit to anything beyond a first or second date. I realized why this has been a case because of some experiences I’ve had lately.

The first reason why I haven’t been able to connect or commit to anyone I’ve dated in the past while has been because I was always expecting some perfect situation where there would be sparks and things would just fit. This unrealistic standard was unfair to many of the people I went on dates with. While I had fun on each of my dates and there was definitely room for the relationship to grow. My unwillingness to recognize the potential for a great relationship in them was a huge stumbling block for me.

The second reason why is because I had a positive view of my own self-worth (pride). I will always be the last to admit it, even if I am very aware of it, but I am often very prideful. What I mean is that I often feel that because I have such great qualities I think that any girl would want to date me (at least that’s what happens in my head). This way of thinking is unhealthy to me and those I date because I evaluate them on a scale based on how I see myself, to see if they measure up to what my “standard” is. In retrospect I believe that many of those whom I terminated relationships with are much better than I am. To avoid being overly self deprecating I’ll leave it at that.

The third reason why I haven’t been able to connect with anyone is because I didn’t allow myself to be vulnerable. I was always closed off and kept myself in a safe secure place emotionally. While you might not think this is bad, to protect yourself from harm and being hurt emotionally. This type of behavior doesn’t allow anyone to enter emotionally either. I equate this to being in a castle with friendly visitors wanting to enter but not letting down the draw bridge. I know the reference is antiquated, much like a draw bridge requires work done to open it, for a budding relationship work too must be done for it to grow into something deeper. When I did this, these girls I dated were literally at the door waiting for me to open up and let them in. My actions effectively closed the door to progress in a relationships before it had any chance.

There are a lot of other things that I have discovered about myself over the course of the past few years with regards to dating. One of take homes from my minimal life experience is to just take risks, put yourself out there and don’t be afraid of rejection. I have been rejected more times by myself before I have even given others the chance to accept or reject me.

Is this a sure fire guide to relationship success of course not, I’m single. If it were then I wouldn’t be single. I still have things to learn, but most importantly I will be moving forward with what I have experienced and putting myself out there. Wish me luck guys.

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