I’ll Come Back When I’m Ready

My friends and I have been talking about this a lot. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, too.

My immediate circle of friends and I agree upon one thing – that this year has been an absolute force to reckon with. The stuff that we have done in the last few months alone, and the things we’ve learnt, have been beyond epiphanic. I’m at a loss for words when I try to describe how real and challenging and rewarding this year has been. I have never felt this alive, and I have never felt this scared.

You ever do something so out of league it surprises you that you even had the nerve? That’s essentially how my year’s been going so far. Everything from attending a fellowship for Instagram, performing a live audience, flying to Darjeeling on my own, to opening an Etsy shop, to making new friends, I done it all this year. I done it all. Some of them exceeded my expectations, some turned out fine, and some, well. Some been shi**y.

YLAC, for example, opened up so many doors for me, not only in the outside world, but in myself, too. The Counter Speech Fellowship with Instagram has been my biggest achievement yet, and I cannot explain how big of a feat it has been. Guys. I used to HATE Instagram. I hated it to the core. I detested the whole idea of communication via the social internet, mostly because I was scared. I was afraid I’d lose myself in a rush to prove myself to a disconnected audience, to pretend that connections were real when they were the exact opposite, and worst: I thought I’d lose myself, trying so hard to be the person I wished I was but never would be.

I hated Instagram. I hated sharing. But now I don’t.

Achievement? Yes, sir. Gimme a pat on the back, I deserve it.

Then there’s stuff like Etsy, which I did in the most sudden, random outburst of creative energy I have ever experienced. I had a little artwork lying around, I like money, I combined the two ideas, boom, Etsy.

It didn’t work out lol

I got so caught up in the idea of selling my ideas and my thoughts to people that I forgot that this is supposed to feel good. My art is supposed to heal me, before it even tries to heal anyone else. So I left Etsy at that, feeling slightly disheartened about the whole thing.

Just this evening, the universe sent out the words I needed, as always, in the form of my mom and her sage-like advice. She said, and I quote, “It’s good to try something and realize you’re not ready for it. One day, when you put your heart to it, you will be.”

To all the people who are reading this and feeling like you’re being pushed down by the weight of your own expectations, I say this — just because you did something wrong doesn’t mean you’re bad at it, or that you suck, or that your worthless without this thing to feel proud of. It just means you ain’t ready, son. Take your time. Chill. Do something that makes you feel at ease. Keep trying. Don’t stop trying. But don’t rush it. Do more of the stuff that builds you up to the thing you’re not ready for. Build yourself up to that strength. When you’re ready, you’ll know. Let me know, too. I’ll cheer for you.

One Week of YLAC — What I’ve Learnt

Life right now is exactly like that one meme with the dog sitting in a burning room saying “this is fine”. If you crept up to me and snapped a picture of me out of the blue right now, it would look exactly the same. No difference.

Last week was wild. Like, a level of wild I’ve never experienced before. YLAC had given us a target of putting out at least six posts on our handle (@green_shields_) and get at least 180 followers. Being the PR Manager that I am all the time, I went overboard trying to accomplish the goal. In the end, we ended up exceeding the goal and reached 200 followers in a week, but that wasn’t without my pretty valid apprehensiveness. A week before periodic assessments, I still hadn’t started any revision. I study for 20 mark exams two weeks before, and I hadn’t yet begun for 40 mark tests, so to say I was concerned about my study schedule would be an understatement.

Nevertheless, I kept my reserve, and persevered through last week. Somehow. Here’s the nutshell of what I learnt:

too much == bad

Too much Instagram is bad. Very bad. Your hands start to ache and you can’t think straight, cause the only thing on your mind is OH MY GOD DID SOMEONE RESPOND MY DMS OR DID THEY SEENZONE ME and it’s not a good feeling to have a week before important tests. So keep that it mind.

the process => enjoy it

Projects aren’t fun if you dwell on the fact that they’re supposed to be done. Take my advice on this: if you are doing or going through something that you’ve never done before, don’t overthink it. Be rational and enjoy the process. Don’t stress. It’s not meant to be that way.

feedback == good

As long as you have a large enough audience to tell you when you’ve done something good and when you haven’t, your work as a social influencer is half done. Believe me.

trust == nice

This whole thing is a team project, and I’m lucky to have such a supportive and creative team! I’ve gotten better at trusting people and their strengths, and I’ve learnt how to respect them. I realize more and more now that my job isn’t to fix people’s flaws, because I realize that that’s what makes them who they are. That applies to me, too. I trust myself more than I used to before, because I no longer feel anxious about what I’m doing.

rest == REQUIRED

This. This is the biggest lesson I’ve learnt. No doubt about that. I now see that there’s a fine line between breaking your limits and breaking your back, and the latter is not as fun or rewarding as the former.

I’d appreciate it if you could bribe as many of your instagram-using friends as possible and tell them to follow @green_shields_ thanks I’ll give you a chocolate ๐Ÿ™‚

Photo by Vinicius Amano on Unsplash

Be Real — How To Speak In Public (and Everywhere Else)

Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

Before we begin, I’d like to preface this post with a statement: All speaking is public speaking, unless you’re talking to yourself. This is not a three-step “how to” on getting better at your school poem recitation.

Aight. All the advice that follows is drawn from personal experience, you have been warned.

Be comfortable in your own skin.

I have actively taken part in things that require me to talk to people outside of my usual circle. Sometimes, it’s a big crowd of middle-schoolers, sometimes teachers, sometimes friends from my grade or the Cambridge wing, and I feel the one thing to remember is to be okay with who you are.

It might seem completely irrelevant to the theme of public speaking, but I realize more and more now that unless I’m entirely in tune with myself, unless I know what makes me do the things I do while talking to people, I can never make myself better. If you realize that when you’re nervous about talking to someone, you shift your gaze downward, you can take steps to change that in your own time. Which brings me to the next big thing I learnt–

Take your time.

Better communication skills definitely make any relationship better, and while you should do everything in your power (and more) to constantly improve them, it’s grossly unproductive and hard on yourself, even, to pressure yourself into doing things you’ve never done before and hating yourself if you fail at it the first time.

The whole joy of talking to others is the uncertainty of not knowing how a single word or expression can lead to a completely serendipitous conversation. This can seem like a daunting process at first, but I assure you, it is not. If you find it hard to step outside your comfort zone, I encourage you to find a friend who can keep you accountable to your growth, AS LONG as you do it in small steps. Baby steps is key.

Have Courage and Be Kind

I cannot emphasize how important it is to be both firm enough to stand by your views, and also flexible enough to be open to others’ worldviews as well. I can’t!

Speaking to a larger crowd requires you to have a sense of humility and non-defensiveness that only comes with age, if you ask me. I surely haven’t mastered the skill of being slightly vulnerable to my audience, enough for them to relate and actually listen to what I’m saying. The simplest thing that we often forget is that, in the end, we’re talking to people. Not evaluating machines. Treat them as people who might want to talk to you the way you’re talking to them, not just mirrors for you to bounce your words off.

Once you realize this, I guess you’re halfway home.

What I Learnt This Summer

This summer has been a whirlwind experience for me, really. I mean, now that I look at it, WOW, so much stuff went down in these eight or so weeks, it’s kind of hard to count. Shoot, I don’t even know when our vacations started. I don’t remember what my classroom lockers look like, and for some reason that worries me more than the fact that I’ve lost my sense of time? It’s probably cause if anyone tries to take my locker, their end is near.

Perhaps the greatest lesson I’ve learnt is that whether or not we realize it, things will turn out just as they need to be. I spent a good deal of the summer fretting about my motivation to study (rather the lack of it), thinking that I was wasting my time reading a novel instead of practising for, I don’t know, half yearlies? In September?? I like to plan ahead. I don’t like it when I’m not planning ahead. Hence my (ephemeral) anxiety.

I was watching Nathan Zed’s new video on YouTube (he just graduated!), and something that he says at the end really struck me. He said he found a balance between what he loves doing (YouTube) and what he needed to do (College), and he found happiness in both. That’s a lesson worth learning, in my opinion.

And so, as school begins in two days, I’m filled with inspiration to balance all my passions, I’m excited to meet my friends again (I hope they remember me), and I’m ready to defend whoever even tries to claim that my locker is actually theirs.

#OrangeArmy forever, if you know what I’m talking about
Filters are cool!
A bunch of journalist wannabes hitting the road in a big bus together. What more do I need
Hi Amrutha!
Whatever I saw the moment this pic was taken must have been really splendid
Reporting from the press
I always carry no less than 6 books in my bag
“Why are they called heels if you’re on your toes?”
English group project
Trophy number 39
Sarath City Capital Mall drove me WILD
drawings
Christmas in Goa
Goa rocks. Please get that
Rare sighting of me in my natural habitat
I love signs on mountains 2 km above the ground
No caption required, let the picture sink deep into your soul
Cable car take off
Flawfy dawg
I spent a LOTTA cash that night. Worth it
drawings
I’m an artist now where’s my money
Spot me: the exercise

What I’ve Learnt After Deleting Instagram 5 Times

As a self-proclaimed novice at social media (cough), I feel like I have enough experience to write my own guide to using social media the right way. But if we’re being honest here, the first and most important thing to remember is this:

Do not delete your social media accounts. Trust me when I say it doesn’t help.

Trust me.

Make others hold you accountable.

If you have an iPhone, god bless you, your social media life is about to become way easier. Just download iOS 12 if you haven’t already, and go to Screen Time, and add yourself a daily social media limit, and ask your mom to type in a password, preferably not your birthday.

If you don’t, no problem! On Android devices, there is the Digital Wellbeing feature to get you through this.

The good thing about other people holding you accountable is that it not only reminds you that people care about your screen time, but it also takes away the pain of self-restraint. If there’s nothing you can do to clock in 5 more minutes on social media, you’re less likely to feel bad about it.

Find your purpose.

Find out why you’re on a social media platform. Is it for personal growth? Is it a de-stresser? Is it to stalk your crush? Find out and stick to that. Don’t say you’re here to follow the United Nations and then just look at Avengers: Endgame memes. I’m not saying you can’t or shouldn’t do both, but you definitely shouldn’t forget what you came here to do.

Take it easy.

Take a chill pill! Relaxxxx. Your main purpose in life is not to make sure that your stories are beautiful, your posts are tagged right, your tweets are grammatically assured (but a soft reminder that they SHOULD), so stop fretting about trivial things that you’ll end up losing sleep for. Don’t push yourself to try and control what your public image looks like. Instead, strive to be the most real version of yourself. If you want to share with people, share both your good and bad sides.

Get on Twitter. It’s better.

no offense, Instagram.

Goodbye, 9th grade — 3 Things I’ve Learnt This Year

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

You can be successful without killing yourself.

This, I think, has been the biggest lesson I’ve learnt this year. I have learnt that you can do everything you want to (and soo much more) without having to sacrifice your self-worth or self-love. Just because you have a goal in mind, it shouldn’t mean that your existence must depend on its completion, no matter how basic or ambitious it might be.

Being a bit of an autodidact, I do happen to be hypercritical of how I use my time while studying or learning anything. I turn even the dumbest things into “work” because giving my tasks that label seemed to make it easier to handle. But somehow, draining emotion out of my tasks seemed to drain the fun out as well.

Somewhere during this year of high school, I realized that doing this leaves me dissatisfied and exhausted, and so I chose to stop it.

What you do doesn’t matter as much as who you do it with.

This is actually a direct steal of a quote by John Green, but tbh I had no other way of saying this except, maybe, “Don’t ditch your friends just because they don’t do the same things as you do.” Something like that, I guess.

I’ve talked about before, but it still seems like an alien thought to an introvert like me. I grudgingly admit, however, that it is true. It really doesn’t matter what you do, if you don’t do it in a way that lifts you up. and 99 per cent of the time, it’s people who lift other people up. Not circumstance, not the beautiful trees out the window (although those definitely help). And you might be saying, “I lift myself up.” Dude, you’re a person, too.

There’s a quote by Kurt Vonnegut that I want to share.


โ€œWhat should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.โ€

Kurt Vonnegut

This sums up everything I want to say. You have friends, and most probably, you have a lot of them. Go talk to them! Find out what keeps them awake at night. Talk. Just CONNECT. Make memories. They don’t need to be good, or comfortable, or everything you dreamed for. You just need to make them.

Love is a kind of magic.

No, I’m not directly addressing the romantic kind with that statement cause if I did, I’d be dead. Instead, I’d like to focus on the more one-sided love you might feel, usually with respect to your passions and dreams.

For a long time, I felt that to love an idea meant to completely devote yourself to its cause and leaving no scope for that idea to slip out of your reach. I felt this a lot with respect to the two things that matter to more than school: writing and music. Over the last year, I’ve gotten myself more and more into the world of the arts, but there used to be a nagging feeling whenever I took a break from life to listen to my favourite song or relax and write without any restrictions. Something felt inherently wrong about the fact that I was taking so much time to do the things that I cherished. Self-love seemed to be a concept of indulgent behaviour, rather than normal behaviour.

And I know that it’s clear when I say it like this, but at some times, I used to feel guilty for loving something so much.

I’ve changed.

Thanks to some undiscovered (i still looking for it tho) shift in behaviour, I don’t feel that way anymore. I’ve listened to the people that I idolize from all fields of success, and all of them practically preach the idea of loving your passions like your love knows no bounds. Sure, you should definitely love in moderation, but I have learnt to not love with guilt in my heart.

Cheers,

Udita.

Life Is One Big Young Adult Novel.

You know, I often feel like my life is just one big young adult fiction novel, stuck forever in the middle. I’ve been thinking that thought for the last couple of days. 

Today, my story started its new chapter. Or, at least, the biggest plot twist. 

It involves sports. Wow, I never thought I’d say that in my life. 

My sport of interest has never been consistent for more than, say, half a year. Ever since we were allowed to pick a sport in 4th grade, I have jumped from tennis, to athletics, to basketball, to football, and now finally taekwondo. So when I stick with a sport (basketball, in this case) for more than two years, I know that I actually like it.

Soon after moving to my new home, a gated community, I joined basketball coaching classes on the weekdays. The basketball court, in the most basic sense, is the ONLY place where kids my age meet. We have close to no other social life outside of basketball class, trust me. So, obviously, the people who I’ve stuck with in there are nothing short of my best friends. But that still doesn’t stop me from feeling like I need to be on an edge in the court.

Look, whether I or anyone else in this universe admits it or not, I am a nerd. I enjoy solitude with a book in my hand, walking peacefully in the winter sun. I listen to podcasts about the kilogram being redefined, or John and Hank Green joking about death, all while finishing Telugu notes or preparing for my finals (which are a month away-i know, it’s too soon) downstairs.

Doing random things way outside of my comfort zone is definitely something I enjoy once it’s done, but something I absolutely dread while it’s happening. That’s how I felt with this basketball match. I know that there are other, better, actually dangerous things for me to be afraid of, but sue me for being concerned that my heart might pop out of my chest due to nervous tension.

I have never played an official basketball match outside of school, so I am awfully nervous when I go down to play. We start out okay, with a lead of 12-6, but then the good guys(including me) get substituted, and soon the score is 19-25. I am beyond shocked. I am devastated. I am beyond exhausted. I played so well, and so hard, but now we were embarrassingly behind.

I’m on the verge of giving up. Not just pressing-pause-to-resume kind of giving up. The kind the where you stop and have to start all over again. 

Here’s something:

I. have. never. given. up. Ever. 

Not on people, not on tough situations, and definitely, DEFINITELY not on myself or my friends. 

So I don’t.

I push. And push. And push. And push harder and harder and the hardest I could and I fight back my fears and my tears and the pain and the despair and I just give it my all. I run into people, snatch the ball, pass, scream until my lungs burned and I’m 100% there in that moment. 

I know the situation is more and more like something out of a movie, because after 40 minutes of play, both teams are tied and we go into 3 minutes of overtime. I think that this is do or die. But nah. We both score, and we go into overtime again, this time for two minutes. And I think that this situation is as unpredictable as walking on a tightrope 20 feet up in the air with the wind blowing right at me. 

But I hold on. We all do. 

For the last 2 minutes, I hold on to whatever hope is left in me and I give it my all. 

7…6…

I don’t know how, but we suddenly have the lead. 29-27. The ball is, literally and figuratively, in the opponent team’s court right now.

5…4…

But our hope rises just enough for one last boost of energy, and we fight back. 

3…2…1…

It’s inevitable. 

The whistle blows.

Time stops. 

Long enough for us to realize that we actually won. 

The screams are loud and roaring, and they fill me with the voice to scream too. 

I’m running towards everyone. I hug my friend, Akshita, who was sitting on the bench, cheering for us.

I’m hug my friend, Ishaan, who was the reason we won. 

The specifics don’t matter because this success wasn’t about individual glory.  People told me I was really, super aggressive and I defended like a  boss, but that’s not the primary cause of my immense, overwhelming joy.

I often think that my life is one big young adult fiction novel stuck in the middle forever. It’s not always easy, or fun, or even kind.

But goddamn it, it’s good.

Cheers,

Udita.


โ€œI have realized; it is during the times I am far outside my element that I experience myself the most. That I see and feel who I really am, the most! I think that’s what a comet is like, you see, a comet is born in the outer realms of the universe! But it’s only when it ventures too close to our sun or to other stars that it releases the blazing “tail” behind it and shoots brazen through the heavens! And meteors become sucked into our atmosphere before they burst like firecrackers and realize that they’re shooting stars! That’s why I enjoy taking myself out of my own element, my own comfort zone, and hurling myself out into the unknown. Because it’s during those scary moments, those unsure steps taken, that I am able to see that I’m like a comet hitting a new atmosphere: suddenly I illuminate magnificently and fire dusts begin to fall off of me! I discover a smile I didn’t know I had, I uncover a feeling that I didn’t know existed in me… I see myself. I’m a shooting star. A meteor shower. But I’m not going to die out. I guess I’m more like a comet then. I’m just going to keep on coming back.โ€ 
โ€• C. JoyBell C.

Let’s Deal With Disappointment, Shall We?

The tension in the room is palpable.

Everyone in the class is eagerly waiting for the bell to ring.

5…4…3…2…1

*ringggg*

Once the teacher leaves, we all rush to the nearest bulletin board on our floor. All of us want to know whether we cleared the test, or failed.

No, we weren’t looking at the results of our final exams.

We were looking at the I-Section entrance test results.

Every year, our school conducts an entrance exam for secondary school students to test their smartness. Then, they segregate the “smart” kids into a different, Integrated-Section.

Yes, I’m in this section. No, sometimes (such as now) I don’t like it.

So our results are on the bulletin board, but I already know my marks- 45 out of 50.

I don’t want to say this, but – oh god – I was disappointed with my marks.

Sometimes I wonder whether I could be the definition of a typical Indian teenage nerd- smart, constantly worried, over-analytic about marks, overpressured and overburdened. Ok, the last part is a bit of an exaggeration. Seriously mom. I’m fine. Don’t send me to the counsellor or to math tuition.

The funny thing is, though, that even though I got through by a big margin, I still felt kinda uneasy. Like I hadn’t done enough to prove my nerdiness to other people. Even though I had accomplished my goal, my mind was too fixated on the smaller picture. Marks.

My whole day went past me like a blur, while all I thought about was how bad I was at acing tests and how much I sucked at them.

That afternoon, during my bus ride back home, my history teacher, who’s a very sweet person (I’m not being paid to say this), asked me if I was sick or something. ‘Cause apparently I looked like I had a fever.

I told her about my rather disgraceful test performance, and she just broke into soft laughter.

“Don’t worry so much, ma. If the teachers are happy with your results, then it’s fine! Don’t take it so seriously.”

Those words gave me just the perspective my naive mind needed. My mood went from sullen, brooding, contemplative and disappointed to accepting, and ready to make a change. I was ready to change my day into one full of opportunities at my disposal.

Here are 5 things I did that evening to lift my mood. You should try them too.

Talk to a friend.

If you’re feeling low, pick up your phone and chat up with an old friend. The feeling of having someone who listens and talks to you can be therapeutic at times.

Tell yourself that it’ll pass.

Because it will. You know that. Stop for a moment, tell your little irrational brain to shut up, and remind yourself that whatever you’re feeling is perfectly normal, and your despair with come to an end.

Throw your responsibilities away for a day.

One primary reason for disappointment is high expectations. From anyone. So since you can’t control what others expect from you, the best you can do is control what you expect from yourself. Don’t push your limits for a few hours. Just. Relax.

Play a sport.

Sports are awesome! They are also scientifically proven to reduce stress and depression. So if you have a basketball court or just a park in your neighbourhood, call a couple of your friends down and play for a while!

Write about it (as I am now).

Writing helps because nothing provides perspective through self-realisation quite like writing. The minute you put a sad feeling on paper, it loses its dramatic, overestimated impact on your mental wellbeing. There’s no need to amplify a situation through writing. As long as you write down the bare facts about what happened and how you feel, this works.

That day, I learnt that no matter how bad a day goes, I can always change how I feel about it with a simple shift in mindset.

I learnt that if I just change your mindset from one of disappointment to one of acceptance and growth, everything will be okay.

Hopefully, you learnt that too.

โ€œIโ€™m sad, hurt, angry, mad, disappointed. But you know what? I will put on a happy face and move on. It will hurt but I will survive.โ€

How to Steal Ideas

Stolen from Austin Kleon.

Nothing’s original.

There is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

Originality is undetected plagiarism. Nothing, absolutely nothing in this world is original. “Original” art is just connecting the same old dots in a different pattern. And the best way to get more of these dots into your life is to steal them. There are bajillions of things to steal in the world, and many people to steal it from. Use what you find interesting, appreciate what you don’t, and move on to the next thing to steal.

You are your own remix.

You are a mashup of your mom and dad and your ancestors. Your ideas are a mashup of the people you surround yourself with, the friends you make, the music you listen to, the movies you see and the blogs you read. ๐Ÿ˜› In the same way, your ideas are a mix of other people’s ideas. You might feel like the ideas in your head are 100% yours, but that couldn’t be more far from the truth. Your job is to pick the sources and ideas that you want to be influenced by.

Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. -Jim Jarmusch

Build your own creative lineage.

One good way to keep the art flowing is to consider yourself as part of a big creative family tree that has all your role models in it. Start with one thinker. Study everything there is to know about them. Then find three people that thinker loved and study them. Grow branches of your tree as far out as you can. Seeing yourself as part of a bigger picture gives you a sense of purpose, makes you feel less alone and more empowered to continue doing what you’re doing.

Putting up pictures or quotes of your favourite people in the world is a great way to do this. They’re like friendly ghosts, pushing you forward.

Teach yourself.

Curiosity might have killed the cat, but it also cured polio. Keep your eyes open for anything worth Googling. Whenever in doubt, Google. Google your dreams, your nightmares, your problems and absolutely any random thought on your mind. It’s sure to either give the right answers or lead you to better questions.

Write it down.

If you’re in the hunt for ideas, there are two things you’ll need to carry with you all the time: a pen and paper.

If you see something worth remembering, chances are you’ll forget it in the next twenty four hours. The difference between a genius and a normal person is that when a genius comes across something cool, she notes it down.

See something worth your attention?

Steal it.

It is better to take what doesn’t belong to you than to let it lie around neglected. -Mark Twain

Sorry this post is a bit short. Next week will be better, I promise!

What do you want to see next? Any ideas on your mind? Leave a comment below!

5 Things We Can Learn from The Mentalist

Okay.

So, as I write this, it’s the 30th of April and it’s been 3 days since Avengers: Infinity War released. And whether or not you know me personally, one thing you should know that is that I LOVE MARVEL. I love the movie storylines, the cinematography, and the cast and characters of the MCU. I’ve been a fan for the last 5 years and I’ve devoted a lot of time towards the fandom. Suddenly I started thinking about the other fandoms I follow. And lemme tell you this – there are only 2 main things I strongly fangirl about: Marvel and Crime TV.

I love many crime and political drama TV series, but the one I love the most is my newest obsession: The Mentalist.

The Mentalist is a show starring Simon Baker as Patrick Jane, a former psychic and conman. He joins the California Bureau of Investigation after a serial killer named Red John murders his wife and daughter. Jane uses his wit, intelligence and cold sadism to choke–no–to make the suspects choke the truth out of themselves until they either walk away in anger or get arrested for murder. And by doing so, Jane pretty much single-handedly closes most cases (with, of course, some help from his 4 teammates).

I’ve known this TV show for quite a few years now (thanks to my parents who love the show too), but only now now have I truly understood how good and precious it is. Not only is it one of the most successful TV shows of its time, but it also showcases good characteristics and advice that you may not have noticed in the show before. Here are 5 things that I’ve learnt from Patrick Jane, the Mentalist:

Read books more often.

In almost every episode of the series, at some point you’re gonna see Jane on his sofa, reading a book or solving a sudoku puzzle. SUDOKU. This guy solves mysteries, fearlessly outs criminals and frequently puts his life and career on the line to save lives. And what does he do in his free time? HE READS. We should all do the same.

Don’t be afraid to catch the bad guys.

Or question the norm. Almost every case ends with Jane trapping the criminal in such a way that they are forced to confess. And he does this so effortlessly and unambiguously, that no one knows what’s coming their way. The way Jane outs criminals and frauds with such finesse and fearlessness is something we can all learn from. In the world we’re living in, with corruption and violence growing, the number of people supporting and participating in illegal practices is only getting bigger. The same goes for autonomous and dogmatic authorities, whose sole intent seems to be to eliminate anyone who steps even an inch out of line. If you manage to take down or change even one of such people, you will have succeeded in making the world a better place.

It’s good to get inside other’s heads.

For good, of course. Jane’s biggest strength happens to be his ability to accurately read people’s minds. Like, honestly, he will read your mind faster than you can say CBI out loud. The mind is the most powerful source of information and inspiration a human can have. And to decide someone else’s mind could quite be the biggest advantage you have over them. That’s because getting to know what drives and vexes people is a clever tactic that you can use to influence people towards a certain cause. But you can’t read a stranger’s mind without training your own. So training the brain to look past the obvious physical details of a person is an essential lesson Jane has taught me. Speaking of details–

The devil is in the details.

Jane is a master at looking beyond the obvious and ordinary and catching anything that looks out of order. His expertise in noticing the smallest of characteristics and behaviour teaches us that the key to solving any problem is mostly to pay REALLY GOOD ATTENTION.

Your tragedy can define you or destroy you.

Patrick Jane worked as a conman and psychic for years before joining the CBI. When he was a psychic he occasionally used to help the police find Red John. While talking about Red John once on a live TV show, Jane arrogantly called him “an ugly, tormented man. A lonely soul.”

That very night, Red John murdered Patrick’s wife and child. He slit their throats and painted their toenails and the wall in their own blood.

This was Patrick’s tragedy. He lost the two people he loved the most because of his ego. He had a serious nervous breakdown soon after and was in dire need of psychiatric help. This moment of despair was the lowest point of Jane’s life.

But he didnt give in to this tragedy and drown himself in self-loathing and self-pity. Instead, he swore not to stop until he avenged his wife and daughter and killed Red John.

Tragedy will, at some point or another, fall upon every person on this planet. It will taunt us. It will test us. And it will scare us. But by all means, when it comes, we mustn’t give in to defeat for the comfort of safety. Even if it takes every ounce of your energy, time and self-worth, we must fight back until what we need is ours.

There are a hundred things I’ve learnt from The Mentalist. I could go in for a long time talking about them all. But hope, I think, is the most important.

Who knew a TV show could be so influential, eh?

When you’re dead, you’re dead. And until then, there’s ice cream! -Patrick Jane

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5 Ways to Strengthen your Willpower this Summer

This post is part of a collaboration with Jess from JessofEarth. We’re both writing blogs on improving work ethic this Spring/Summer season. Check out her post on tips to improve work ethic and give her some love! Actually, give her a lot of love. She deserves it.

OK. Listen. I’m gonna be straightforward here: I don’t wanna write this post. I feel like I’ve hit a blogging wall that’s taking every ounce of my energy to climb over. I am mentally strained and emotionally fatigued.”

That was me, two Sundays ago. Two Sundays ago, I had absolutely zero chill whatsoever and was at a dead end. And soon I came to a conclusion: There are two things that a person loses when they are at a dead end- appetite and their desire to live. Seriously. I’m not kidding. That whole Sunday was a rhythmic medley of passive starvation and passive, unhealthy introspection.

I knew I had to do something about my appalling state of mind. So I turned to the best person for advice, my one true friend: YouTube.

I spent the rest of the day binge watching some of the world’s biggest stars talk about work ethic and self-discipline and inspiration, but the one recurring core value I saw in all the videos was grit; specifically, willpower.

Willpower is the mind’s ability to stay focused and work tenaciously in the face of various challenges and hurdles. Willpower is basically the supremacy of the mind over the body. It allows us to stay determined, persevere, and achieve success in spite of the ups and downs. Willpower acts as your daily health counting bar. But it’s a finite resource and gets drained for absolutely every activity that you do in a day. So it’s essential that we utilize our willpower in the most efficient way possible.

I found an amazing video by Charlie Houpert on willpower, where he clarifies many common misconceptions about the value and gives really cool tips to strengthen it. Here they are.

Make decisions quickly.

Come on. How much time do you spend deciding which ice cream or soda you want? Or whether you’re gonna finish your work today or later? The answer obviously is a lot.

Not only does this waste your time and energy, but reduces your willpower, bit by bit, each time you deliberate over a petty issue.

Mindlessly going back and forth over multiple decisions only creates more trouble and confusion for your brain. So take it easy, make a snap choice and just do it.

Create ground rules.

It’s always easier when you have a set of predefined rules that you just have to follow. This can be as simple as “I’m going to wake up at 6 and that’s it” or something more serious like “no more than 2 chocolates a month.” Besides, who eats only 2 chocolates a month??

Setting an unfixed rule won’t let you reconsider any other option, therefore not letting you mindlessly deliberate over things and saving your willpower.

Create an environment that supports your work.

This concerns two things: your phone and your friends. But mostly your phone.

If you thrive on social media platforms all day instead of finishing your work, try deleting your apps. If you check Pinterest a lot (like me), try deleting it for a week.This will force you not to check for notifications or get distracted.ย  Unless you want to go through the gruesome task of opening your laptop and signing in again, which I’d really rather not do.

Changing your environment could also mean changing the people you surround yourself with. It is best to live with people who have the same dedication and willpower as you. They don’t need to have the same interests tho. As long as they work as hard or harder than you, you’re doing good.

Prepare for the challenging task first.

No matter how amazing your work might be going at one point, a speed bump is inevitable. And if you’re not ready for that reality, it’s definitely going to be a major blow to your mental strength. So do what you can to prepare yourself for the unwanted or negative outcomes in a situation, so that when they do happen, you’ll be ready to fight the battle. And it’s ok if you lose the battle, as long as you win the war.

Figure out your identity.

*sigh* Look, man. I hate to break it to you, but you’re…. you’re not Will Smith. Ok? So stop trying to act like you got that kind of Willpower(I hope you saw what I did there).ย Was that too cheesy or was it ok?

Trying to achieve your dreams by following the ethics of someone else is never going to help in the long term. In order to truly flourish in life, it is necessary to know yourself inside out. Know what drives you, your strengths and weaknesses, your flaws and frustrations, and figure out what work ethic works best for you. Because if you don’t, someone else will. And it might not fit you perfectly.

I know sometimes work might seem like a heartless, lifeless job, driving us to the edge of humanity and towards mechanical and robotic emotion, but if you mix your work and willpower with individual identity, that’s when work stops being work and becomes fun.

It’s not that some people have the willpower and some don’t. It’s that some people are ready to change and others are not. -James Gordon