This will be a short post, but I wanted to share a concept that has been helping me out a bunch the last few days. I won’t bury the lead here. It’s not novel. It’s just awareness.
Reading and writing about awareness has always felt shallow to me. Personally, the only times in which I’ve truly appreciated awareness are when I find myself experiencing it firsthand. When you feel a tinge of negativity and are able to move past it. When you go to launch Instagram and realize you can hold off. When you are all alone but still break a smile, because you realize things are good in that moment. It’s incredibly easy to let these moments pass. I find that I’m happier when I notice them.
The recent catalyst that has temporarily helped me out here (it won’t last forever without a whole lot of effort and intention) was a commencement speech from David Foster Wallace titled This is Water. I really think this speech is fucking awesome, to put it eloquently. I’ve adopted “This is Water” as a mantra that triggers awareness, and it’s working well. I highly recommend you watch the speech in its entirety, but I’ll share two concepts inspired from it that have really stuck with me:
Life wears you down
The day-to-day grind of life can and will wear you down. You don’t realize this when you’re young, but sooner or later it hits you. As novelty degrades, things become a hassle. The first day in the office is amazing. Then you start noticing more and more the slow elevators, crowded commute, and Tom, who is always just so passive aggressive, man. Your head fills up with unconscious negative thoughts. You can control and reframe these thoughts if you catch them, but first you need the awareness to catch them. That’s the tough part. It’s achievable, but tough. Even with concentrated effort.
We all worship
When life wears us down, we turn to worshipping. Stick with me on this. Worshipping is not exclusive to religion. Whether it’s your career, money, beauty, or people. We all worship things in life. It’s up to you to be aware of what you worship and audit accordingly. Ensure you worship things that are healthy. Both mentally and physically. Things that make you happy. Things that are sustainable. Even if they are silly. Personally, I think of sports here. At the end of the day, it’s a game. But checking in on how the Yankees did each day makes me happy. I’m aware of it, and it keeps me a little more sane when life wears me down. That seems alright to me.