What does it mean to value your time?

Time

We have all heard the saying that ‘time is precious’, but what does it look like when the ideology is manifested in one’s reality? The majority of people know the obvious forms of time management. Going to bed at a reasonable hour so that they can wake up early for work; planning their days in their diaries or their heads so that it is extra productive, and planning activities and events in advance for memorable and stress-free experiences.

Following the basic principles is great, as they will determine, to a certain extent, a successful and joyful life.

However, can you imagine the control and command you would have over your life if you, near literally, did not let a minute go to waste? Of course, you have to be realistic and allow for a certain degree of spontaneity. Nevertheless, with more effective time management than is standard, you can ensure that each area of your life is nurtured, and, you will allow yourself to get within better reach of true fulfilment and balance.

Valuing your time in the workplace could look like keeping your phone switched off, so that you can fully focus on soaking up new knowledge. It looks like listening to, and fully taking on board, feedback, rather than letting your mind wander to what you are going to make for dinner. Looking at what appears to be setbacks or failures, from an outside eye, as a learning experience, a moment that facilitated growth. It can look like using your reflections to propel you into making more informed, aware, steps, instead of moping and dwelling on negative times.

Valuing your time in relationships could mean not staying in, nor tolerating, relationships in which you are being disrespected, unappreciated or that do not help you to grow. If you are single, valuing your time could mean being thoughtful in your approach to finding a partner. Having enough self-awareness to assess if another person would be a good fit for your values, personality and lifestyle. Of course, early signs of incompatibility could lead to conflict later down the line.

In terms of your health, it could mean maintaining discipline in your fitness and your diet. Making it a priority to go running, dancing or maybe spinning, week-in and week-out. Dedication to infusing your water or packing a healthy lunch for work the night before, time and time again.

And what is the end product of sustaining awareness towards each area of your life? Surely, lasting prosperity. While you do not need to plan your life down to the T, it is good to know that, usually, in making conscientious choices, you can truly steer your life in a positive direction. Taking ownership of, and making the most of, your time, then, could be what it means to value it.

What else could it mean to care about your time? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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Should distance be an issue in a friendship or a relationship?

Distance

“Platonic love” is defined by the urban dictionary as ‘[a] romantic bond between a couple that involves no lust or carnality; often a deep pure love.’

This kind of love then, really, is the ideal kind, because it is unconditional and not based on a shallow foundation. In it’s spirituality and intangibility, it is unwavering and it is steadfast. It’s a reason why so many of us hold the deepest of admirations for the relationships that start with the couple having a best friendship. Initially drawn and kept together by their values and personalities, it’s acknowledged that any romance that blossoms is derived from an intrinsic, rather than a superficial and surface-level, attraction.

Surely then, a steady couple that possessed a depth of love that was “platonic”, in their relationship, would be able to maintain their bond irregardless of physical distance?

In spite of what our popular Western and oversexualized culture might suggest, to love one another spiritually and purely means that, while sustained verbal or written communication may be integral for the couple’s longevity, their physical presence isn’t needed for the relationship to survive.

So what does this mean? It means that in order to keep a long-distance relationship alive, you should focus on continually nurturing it’s spiritual strength.

We all know the sadness that coincides with being apart from a loved one. There has been many days that I’ve spent wishing myself away from my present surroundings, to wherever my friend is and whatever they’re doing. But now I think about it, my dissatisfaction was not caused by the lack of the person’s physical presence, but by a sense of disconnection that arose from the knowledge that they were having different experiences, with different people.

But of course, this is ridiculous. And if you both have an awareness that wishing yourself out of your physical circumstances is all but futile, you will both be able to reach a place of contentment in the present moment.

Your impalpable connection unaffected, your relationship, unchanged.

As long as you feel like you’re on the same page, the distance, or the time, you are apart, should not wear your relationship thin. Communicate. Tell them about the hilarious conversation you had with that colleague the other day, what’s been upsetting you recently, or what’s been giving you life.

Have any of you struggled with a long-distance relationship? Share how, if so, you managed to work through it. Were there other challenges that you faced, in spite of feeling deeply connected on a spiritual level? Comment your thoughts below.

Why you need to be an optimist regardless of your life situation.

Happy woman

Perhaps this seems like quite an oversubscribed piece of advice.

We’re all told by friends and family to “be positive” when the pessimism sets in when times get tough. It’s not as simple as that, we think to ourselves. Adopting a new mind-set is not going to remove me from these physical circumstances. Because it’s true, in certain ways.

We can change the way we perceive a situation. Maybe a better attitude will even help us to become more motivated to identify more solutions to change our situation. But it can’t be denied that, in life, we can find ourselves in a position that renders us powerless.

Say, for instance, you lose your job, have to move out of your flat, and move back in with your parents. Or you find out that you have an illness that’s incurable.

You can wake up at 7 am every morning, write dozens of job applications each day and reach out to hundreds of hiring managers, but does that mean you’re guaranteed to land the sort of role you want within a couple of months? Not at all. And maybe you can take a certain medication that will subdue the illness’ side effects, pursue activities and goals that will distract you from the illness, or surround yourself with people that will uplift and support you, but do any of those things actually make the illness disappear? Nope.

Positivity will help you to take actions that’ll place you in better stead for improving or changing your circumstances, but it can’t promise to deliver.

But in spite of this, in spite of the fact that it does not always have the capacity to immediately transform your physical situation, you need to realise the trans-formative spiritual and psychological role that optimism can play in your life.

On a spiritual level, the determination, joy and peace that will emanate from you in the midst of your endeavours will have more of an influential capacity than you’d expect. Your decision to keep going regardless of the challenges and obstacles that you’re facing will not only strengthen your faith, but inspire others to adopt a similar outlook. Have you heard the bible verse, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”? In the biblical context, it means to trust in God and the plans that he has for us, to trust the process, and not be disheartened by any temporal, physical, life situation.

It takes a great deal of spiritual strength to sustain a blinkered perspective that disregards the physical reality, and looks to the light. And it’s always refreshing to meet others that view the world this way. They tend to be the kind of person that lights up a room. That dances in the rain. In a sea of negativity and gloom, they form a raft of hope.

In a psychological sense, the feeling of empowerment that you’ll receive as a result of your continual optimism, your intrinsic decision to never give up, will strengthen the faith you have in yourself, your self-confidence, and your self-esteem. Moreover, you’ll develop mental grit, mental toughness. Invaluable in a world that just loves to throw us hurdles to clear and mountains to climb in every direction.

So, before resorting to throwing in the towel, taking your head out of the game, or refusing to join in with the rat race, know that your choice to be optimistic is a choice that you’re making regardless of the end destination. A positive outcome, as a consequence of your positive thinking, is obviously desirable, but, in the meantime, you’re doing it for the sense of morale it will bring to others, as well as yourself. Never forget that.

Do you remember a time when your optimism got you through a situation, or, uplifted and encouraged others along the way? Tell me about your experience by commenting below!

Why you shouldn’t be afraid of vulnerability.

Vulnerability

All of us have faced disappointment at some point in our lives.

And this disappointment has arisen in multiple forms.

Some of us got picked on in the playground. Some of us didn’t get our expected grades in that exam that we worked so hard towards. And some of us got pushed away after confessing our affections for someone.

What do these accumulated experiences add up to? You know it. A series of memories that transport us back to that feeling of raw, emotional pain. We try our best to move past them. We tell ourselves that this hurt is history, until a similar situation arises, and that scar becomes an open-wound.

A lot of us are really good at guarding ourselves in scenarios that resemble a past, painful memory. We stop trying to make new friends because, what’s the point? It’s really hard to meet people that you can truly connect and click with. So-and-so probably already has a load of friends, why would they want to be friends with me. We stay in that we job that we hate because it pays pretty well and we don’t believe we’ll finding anything better. We’ve done so many applications in the past, for no, or few, interviews and very little success. We’re just not good enough, we tell ourselves. And we don’t ask out that guy/girl we like because, let’s be honest, they’re probably not going to be interested in us.

So we can go about life this way, with our armour strapped on and our shields at the ready, and we’ll probably do okay. We’ll probably be just fine.

But that’s all you’ll ever be. Just fine.

You’ll settle for just texting and calling up your old friend, Sue, from college, who never seems to genuinely care about what you have to say. You’ll resort to spending your weekends with Jenny from work, who you can never have a stimulating conversation with. But it’s fine, at least you have company.

You’ll do the safe thing. You’ll stay in that job and maintain that steady income. You’ll have stability, the thing that, as humans, we so naturally crave. For months or years of your life, you’ll spend most days feeling bored, stuck or, even, miserable. But it’s alright, that’s why we have fun on the weekends right?

You won’t get to pick, you’ll be picked by someone that was brave enough to go after what they wanted, and you’ll stay with someone that’s not right for you, because, hey, they could be worse, and it’s better than ending up alone.

It’s terrifying to put yourself in a position of vulnerability.

It can make you feel anxious, stressed and nauseous, even.

But the paradox here is that, it is only when you are no longer afraid of vulnerability, that you can make truly empowered decisions. Whilst you may be plagued with feelings of insecurity, of weakness, the move will be one of inner-strength, self-belief.

These are decisions, leaps of faith, that could result in social, career, economic and romantic disappointment, and yet you make them because you know deep down that you can’t settle with fine.

Don’t expect to lead a passionate life by constantly playing in defence, you’ll have very few victories. Lower your guard and go for it. You have to fight for what you want, which means facing short-term discomfort for the sake of long-term happiness.

You may get bruised, cut and beaten along the way but, in spite of it all, you’ll be on the cusp of a wholesome and fulfilling life.

So, that leap that you’ve been thinking of making? Make it.

Take the most integrous route for you, not the most established, and you’ll lead a life that’s truly whole-hearted.

What does it mean to practice self-love?

Love

From the very first day that each of us came into this world, we’ve been repeatedly fed the message, through bedtime stories, books, movies, music and the wisdom of our loved ones, that love is a powerful thing.

So cliché, right? Because it’s obvious. It goes without saying. We’ve all felt the impact that love can have, the difference it can make in our lives, and we’ve seen what it’s done throughout history.

Look at the Chinese couple, Liu Guojiang and the Xu Chaoquing that chose to live in a cave because the world didn’t want them to be together. Or the Prince, Shah Jahan, that spent 22 years building one of the most stunning pieces of architecture, the Taj Mahal, in memory and out of love for his dead wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

These are beautiful stories, though have you ever contemplated why individual stories of self-love are so readily swept under the carpet? Of course, self-love in its concentrated form, narcissism, is far from a desirable quality. But what about the kind of devotion that enables someone to knuckle down in the privacy of their bedroom to push themselves through Medical school? Or the kind that fuels a girl to practice their arabesques day-after-day to give themselves the best chances of passing their ballet exams? These forms are equally as powerful and important, and yet scarcely given acknowledgement.

Investing time, energy and attention in yourself is integral if you want to make personal progress and move further in the world. It’s a way of showing the world that you value who you are and the person you’re becoming.

Unsure about what approaches you can take to take better care of your mind, body and spirit? Perhaps you can start by practising the following.

Saying no.

Whether that no is directed towards the thought of eating the cheesecake in the freezer that you know won’t do you any favours, or to spending time outside of work with colleagues you don’t even like, put your health and your happiness first by only saying yes to the things that you know will be good for you. Don’t let serving your immediate desires or becoming a slave to guilt, throw you into an unhealthy and miserable rut. It’s not worth it.                                                         

Accepting your flaws.

We all have those little things about ourselves, whether it’s concerning our weaknesses or appearance, that we wish we could tweak or change. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with striving to be your best self, which may involve aiming to reduce your weaknesses or enhance your appearance. I’m saying that, in the midst of striving for self-improvement, you should love who you are and where you are now. Simultaneously, appreciate yourself as you are, as well as the process of yourself moving towards the person you want to be.

Ending friendships that prevent you from growing.

Especially if you’re a loyal person, parting ways with old friends can be a hurtful prospect. You’ve invested so much time, energy, love and attention into this person, it’s hardly an appealing thought to swiftly cut your ties. In spite of the high regard it’s given, sometimes loyalty can be problematic as a trait. It can cause us to blindly cling to a deteriorating relationship that’s steadily beginning to poison us. It’ll be hard at first, but walking away from those that are stunting your growth in some way, whether that’s in the form of negativity or failing to provide the encouragement that you need in a support system, will force you to find friends that don’t.

Recognising your gifts, and using them.

Do you have a special talent that you wish you’d nurtured more? Maybe when you were younger everyone used to compliment your knack for words, your ability to draw impressive portraits or the way you could act out a movie scenario so accurately. Whatever it is, stop neglecting it. You know that, later down the line, you’ll be thinking of the progress you could’ve made and the paths you could have pursued, if you’d only just given them a little dedication.

Not deriving your self-worth from your work.

This is one that I’ve particularly struggled with from a young age. Whenever I got a 10/10 on a spelling test, or an A on a piece of coursework that I’d worked really hard on, I couldn’t help but feel myself glow a little on the inside. Continuing through the school system, and as a competitive individual, it’s hardly surprising that I came to value myself and my abilities accordingly with the grades I saw on my transcript. It’s great to aspire for top marks and performance, but don’t beat yourself on the occasions when you fall short. You are more than the force of your daily grind and productivity. Don’t forget that.

Educating yourself.

Finally, what field do you want to excel in? Journalism? Teaching? Law? Go out of your way to gain additional subject knowledge, meet people in, and participate in related activities, your field, to give yourself an edge that’ll make you stand out from other candidates. Educating yourself goes far beyond doing so in the blatant subject sense. It also means pushing yourself, training yourself, to be the best you can be, whether that’s in a physical or intellectual sense. A desire to strengthen your abilities is a loving investment, in that it will benefit your career and your health further down the line.

 

How Black Panther has changed Hollywood.

Black Panther

With an estimated three-day record-breaking gross of $192 million, smashing “Deadpool’s” 2016 box office mark of $152 million, there’s no doubt that most of us have gathered the tremendous impact that Black Panther has had on society.

Willing to investigate some of the world’s biggest moral, political and social questions that are, more often than not, abandoned on the sidelines in fast-paced action movies, the multi-million Marvel production has made quite the mark.

For the minority among you that need re-familiarising, the persistent notes that undercut the screenplay is the suggestion that “Blackness”,  “Africanness” and everything that these terms signify, are enormously undervalued attributes that have yet to reveal their full glory.

Black identity is explored, when, more often than not, it’s excluded from Hollywood productions.

The underlying message behind the films external context rings pretty clear. Wakanda, Africa is no “third-world country – textiles, shepherds, cool outfits.” Instead, it’s a country that’s built upon a base of  vibranium—the strongest metal in the world. In spite of having surpassed other continents’ technology, Wakanda’s expanse of forestry deceive outsiders. This race is not to be undermined.

A motion-picture that powerfully addressed and subverted the assumptions and stereotypes, that unfortunately still undercut our society today, was long overdue, which is probably why it’s quite unsurprising that Black Panther won ‘Top Film Award’ at the 2019 SAG Awards.

In his acceptance speech, Boseman touched upon the most glaring examples of how the production has instigated change in the industry. From the mere aesthetic level of a cast that gives representation to “young, gifted and black” individuals, Black Panther embodies a subverted reality wherein there is “a space”, “a screen” and “a stage” for this demographic to be featured on. A universe in which this demographic can be the head and not the tale, above and not below, to reiterate Boseman.

Black Panther is not the first movie to have inserted black leadership from the ground level of production.

Look at Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (2013), Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight (2016) and Jordan Peele’s Get Out (2017). Each film harnesses a flurry of black talent, both on and behind the scenes.

Nevertheless, notice how this recent movie history forms as a critique on societal oppression and therefore, quite ironically, recreates them.

In spite of making positive progress in terms of giving African-Americans bigger platforms as protagonists, their ultimate depiction of black vulnerability speaks to the fact that, as Boseman suggests,

our task historically, has not been the same because, you know,  we been relegated to playing the side-kick [the inferior], or the side-show, or back-stage, or not here altogether

Whilst jointly effective in their raw exposure of past and present wounds, of being subject to debasement,  it appears that no other film has attempted to relinquish the pain through depicting a new and empowered reality altogether.

There’s intelligence in the making of Black Panther.

It doesn’t call for a conceited form of “Black Power”, which would only serve to endorse the prospect of racial supremacy.

It calls for a new representational normality. One wherein, perhaps, the idea of going to a movie theatre and seeing an all black cast in a Hollywood production doesn’t really make you blink.

Black Panther made this new reality more accessible, more tangible, by providing a vessel in which “we could be full human beings in the roles that we were playing”, in which “we could create a world that exemplified a world that we wanted to see”, as Boseman said.

A world wherein “equal, if not more talent” in BAME communities, translates to “the same opportunities […] the same doors open to you”. A world wherein the aspirations of Black people are not “outside the realm of what the world would see you doing”.

The movie has also gotten Hollywood to give greater acknowledgement to black heritage.

It’s the equivalent of somebody doing a period piece where you talk about the wardrobe in this movie.”

In spite of being known primarily as a superhero and a black movie, the shrewdly incorporated elements of black cultural heritage has been given a platform.

It plays a part in communicating the tale and brings greater significance to it’s message.

Black Panther not only subverts our perception of the black dynamic on the Hollywood screen, but, if you look a little closer, also our understanding of black history.

Why we need to stop glorifying “busy”.

Busyness.jpeg

You can’t deny that when you finish a day in which you feel like you’ve made the most of every minute, you get a great sense of satisfaction.

And, why wouldn’t you?

With the amount of distractions we encounter on a day-to-day basis, to end the day in the knowledge that our focus has been sustained enough to smash our to-do list can feel like quite an accomplishment. Strong productivity will always play an integral role in helping you to take bigger strides towards your target destination.

Nevertheless, becoming too insistent in acquiring these daily “wins” can result in a loss of perspective. If you’re not careful, becoming addicted to being “busy”, so to speak, can lead you to neglecting and overlooking the most important aspects of life, like building meaningful relationships and finding ways to give back to the wider community.

It’s essential that, in order to live with integrity and be truly fulfilled, you critique the destination before you begin the journey. Is the end goal aligned with your core values? Will the journey facilitate your ideal lifestyle, or, at least, take you to a circumstance that will place you within reach of your innermost desires?

If the answer is no to all of these, then your busyness is not productivity, and your completed to-do list has done little to support you in making any real progress. Are you in a job that you feel has very little impact? That isn’t helping you to grow? This might be okay temporarily, if you recognise it as a means to an end. But if that job, say, doesn’t even pay enough to put you in an economic position that’ll serve as a launch-pad for your future endeavours, it’s probably a waste of your time.

You need to value the process as well as the end result.

Perhaps you’re investing your time in working on a business that you believe will have optimal financial prospects? While this is not a terrible idea, ask yourself: Besides monetary gain, will this project, in it’s process, help me to get what I want out of life? It sounds bleak, but with business success-rate statistics revealing that 20% of businesses fail in their first year, 30% after two, and 70% after 10, you’ve got to want to be in it for the long-haul, regardless of whether or not you end up ballin’.

To put it simply, a passion project is very rarely a mistake.

When the thing you’re investing yourself in is meaningful to you on a deeper level, the end result is of little importance, because you care greatly about what you’re doing in the present. If, as with most businesses, it’s a side-hustle in its early days, it’s a worthwhile investment of your time and energy because it could count as being a past-time. If you’re getting pleasure and fulfilment from the doing, then you’re never going to see it as a waste of time.

Rather than perceiving it as a risk, a loss of resources, you’ll simply deem it as a necessary distraction from the mundane day-to-day tasks. It’s the equivalent of, say, someone buying art materials or paying for dance classes, to bring more joy into their life.

Make it a rule for yourself to make your work a labour of love, at every possible opportunity, and you’ll have very few regrets. “Busy” will finally be serving to fulfil a greater, more meaningful, purpose to your life.  And realise deeply that, to be still, to not be preoccupied, does not necessarily equate to laziness or to being idle.

We need stillness to gain greater perspective, greater awareness about ourselves, our values, and what we want in life.

Are you guilty of placing “busy” on a pedestal, irregardless of the content of that busyness? If you are, or have been in the past, then share your experience below, and what you’re doing, or have done, to remove the habit from your life.