These past few months, I’ve began seeing a recurring theme pop up all over the Internet: the Internet is hindering our offline life (in every and any, shape, way or form, depending on who you talk to).

People are talking about and discussing how the Internet (the very medium they are using to share their thoughts about their own presence on the Internet, and the overall effects of it), is enabling them to fall short in either their personal lives, their professional lives, or both.

This phenomena has led to the coining of the expression “digital detox”. If you Google the expression, which sounds like a frilly, novel term which only millennials use, like “wellness” and “avocado toast”, you will get the following intricate definition:

“A period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smart phones or computers, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on a social interaction in the physical world.”

The first obvious thing to discuss, would be: “Why do we need a digital detox in the first place?”

Nothing but the agreed upon expression, digital “detox”, implies that almost everything digitally connected, has acquired the power to be considered as some kind of drug. A drug that we can’t get enough of.

Then there’s the overall agreed upon definition. The definition implies that the people who would need a detox from their electronic devices, are those who overly seek comfort in them, or those who have lost their focus on their social interactions.

We can’t really disagree that our connected devices aren’t drug-like, when we see how many people are obsessed with staring down at their screens, and the physical withdrawal we feel when we spend a few minutes or hours offline. We do it everywhere we go, no matter how appropriate (or inappropriate) it is. We do it on public transports, we do it at the doctors office, we do it everywhere where there’s waiting involved. But, what’s even worse, is that we do it even when we should be stimulated enough by the world around us to not feel like we have to stare at our phones: at a movie theatre, at dinner with our friends/family, in classrooms, relaxing on a sunny beach…

While a digital obsession isn’t as dangerous as a chemical substance one, it doesn’t mean its’ effects on our lives are negligible. It’s still a pretty big deal, and says something perhaps not so pretty about our generation.

We’ve all experienced withdrawal from being de-connected. In our modern day and age, it would be kind of crazy to not take advantage of what the Internet of Things has to offer. It makes our lives way simpler. It can give us answers to questions it would have taken several minutes, if not hours, of searching in books to find – in just a split second. It helps us stay friends with people hundreds, and thousands of miles away from us. There are a plethora of benefits to being connected.

But what about the advantages of being not being connected? It kind of seems that the advantages the internet brings, are the same one that not having access to it enable, i.e, you have to go to the library, or buy books to learn something new. You have to actually go somewhere in person, to see your friends far, far away (or just down the street, for that matter). You have to get a physical map, to find your way around. And while doing things “the hard way”, may not be an obligation, since we can technically (literally) do it “the easy way”, maybe the hard way isn’t necessarily synonym with “the worst” or “most annoying” way.

Because the truth is, we still like reading real, physical books. We still take pleasure of opening a paper map (even if we’re increasingly bad at reading them, now). We still enjoy writing a letter on paper, folding it up, slipping it into an envelope, licking the back of a stamp, and taking it to the post office. We still like to walk to our friends house, or going to visit a friend hours away, just to see them and talk to them in person.

We just have more options now.

I recently read an article about a guy who quit the internet for an entire year. And to sum things up, he found that the internet wasn’t the devil. It wasn’t the reason why his life felt empty or unproductive at times. He discovered that wasn’t reasonable anymore to blame the internet for his short comings (not reading enough, not eating healthy enough, not writing his novel, not spending enough time with others). Another thing he learned, is that our so called “virtual” lives, aren’t as virtual as we think.

Something virtual, is defined as “not physically existing as such, but made by software to appear to do so”. Turns out that our “online-ness”, is more “real” than we think, because of the importance it has in our lives. It is predominant. It’s how we communicate, almost exclusively.

The upsides are most felt with relationships, he found. Better one-on-one communication, un-interrupted by messenger pings or funny memes in your feeds, taking your attention away from your friends and family interactions. But worse long-distance family and friendship relationships. Not so surprising.

I guess the moral of the story is: don’t blame your short comings or feelings of failure, on your internet connection. And no need to go cold turkey on it, either.

You have enough time to write a book, work out, eat healthier, and spend more time with your friends and family. You just choose to spend a huge chunk of it staring at a screen, instead of doing the things you know you should do, and the things you know you aspire to do. You seek confort online, instead of within yourself and among other people. You’ve lost sight of the value of being offline from time to time.

A lot of us have.

So don’t make a big deal about it: if you can’t leave your phone at home, at least put yourself in airplane mode for a few hours per day and make the most of being offline.

Not my photo. Andy Warhol and Debbie Harry.
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Choosing the future, means letting go of the past. It means saying goodbye to your previous life, and welcoming on your new one. And it also means, you gotta pack up your shit. (Pardon my French).

During the end of last year, I moved out of my mom’s place, to move into a shoeboxed sized apartment in Paris. And while this wasn’t the first time I made an extended exit of the comfort of my family home, it felt like a totally new adventure. It was sort of a dream I had chosen to accomplish, knowing it was the best and probably the last chance I would have to do it.

Fast forward to today, I’m sitting in my tiny apartment thinking about what I want to bring with me on the next chapter of my life. And a really big part of me wants to leave 80% of it behind, and just make do with my newest clothes, my Clinique creams, my SPF 100% sunscreen, and my Macbook Pro. Like what else could you possibly really need, right?

Of course, while I’ve been fond of the principles of minimalism, it’s easy to get into exaggeration mode. And, at the same time, it’s also hard to actually apply principles of minimalism, that is doing with the bare minimum, and getting rid/giving away shit you just. Don’t. Need. (To see ever again).

Now, because I’ve been moving a lot during these last 3 years or so ever since I started college, I’ve been obligated to cut back massively. Mainly because I didn’t have the comfort that I used to have as a teenager, of living in a huge house in the french country side (with an equally huge garage, where I never had to get rid of anything).

I was at my mom’s place last weekend, and we were sorting through some of my clothes that I had left with her, in her little shed/storage area in her garden at her new house. I sorted through a lot, and decided to let go of a lot. And while some of it was hard to let go, now, with some looking back, I can’t help but thinking: “Should I just let it all go?”

Mind me, I’m just talking about clothes, here. I mean, you never know when you could need a dark green cable knit sweater from Urban Outfitters.

Being an american/irish kid who moved from the United States to France at a young age, I’ve became accustomed to just moving, and leaving the past behind, I guess. New adventures are always very appealing to me. I tell everyone I know that I just can’t see myself in the same place, or doing the same thing, for more than, like, three years, tops. I’ve became uncomfortable with overly stable, monotone situations, while at the same time, I’ve also been seeking perfect comfort in uncomfortable, instable situations.

And this has always been a huge dilemma for me. Because there’s always this side of me wanting to go, and wanting to stay at the same moment. Obviously, being in two places at once, is impossible. But I think, (that I’m over intellectualising this), that it all comes back to One. Damn. Thing.

A little something people like to call: F.O.M.O.

Fear of missing out. Fear of missing out on what I have now, and what I could potentially gain. Fear of missing out on the benefits of staying, and on the benefits of leaving. Fear of missing out on owning an Urban Outfitters cable knit sweater, and not owning one.

This is something I haven’t figured out yet. I’m still at two decades on my time line, and I guess my biggest hope is that I’m not going to collect too many regrets, and make too many bad decisions.

Do you experience F.O.M.O? And in so, when and in what way? I’ve love to hear your opinions on this.

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Not my photo. Source unknown.
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FAILURE

Lack of success.

The definition of failure is quite a simple one. Lack of success. Or, “the neglect or omission of expected or required action”. Or, “the action or state of not functioning”. Basically, all meaning the same thing.

Failure arises in every area of life. As a nearly-business-school-graduate, I’ve heard of failure in business. There are ways to limit it, calculate and avoid it. All involve precise calculations, analyses and probabilities. In a business context, the difference between success and failure looks something like this. The cost of failure, is, quite literally, a cost. A monetary one.

 

But what does our non-business failure look like?

Because I’m somewhat of a geek, I did research on this topic, so this article would make sense and could provide some actionable life tips. Y’a know?

As human beings living in our modern society, what’s the first thing that comes to our minds when we think of failure? Fear. We don’t want to fail, and thus, we fear accidentally doing it, being it or having it. We’re constantly on guard to fight against it. Simple as that. Failure is a threat to us, which is why our most natural response to it, is fear and avoidance.

We run away from failure as if it were the plague.

Where does this fear of failure originate from?

Fear is one of the most researched and well-understood of all our emotions. What makes it easy to study, is the easily measurable physiological responses produced by it.

Fear, is also the most important emotion we have from an evolutionary standpoint. You’ve probably heard this already. Without fear, the earlier versions of humans in the prehistoric era, probably wouldn’t have survived. Learning to fear has allowed us to survive over the centuries, when your reaction to danger literally meant you either lived, or died. Danger was a big deal. We had to recognise a threat, fear it, and then act accordingly, in order to survive.

Neurologically, the amygdala, an almond-shaped structure in the limbic system, is considered to be the seat of fear in the brain (as well as other emotions). But fear is processed differently than other emotions, bypassing the sensory cortex on its way to the amygdala. This explains why emotional responses are often unconscious—and why phobias and anxiety may be caused by conditioned responses to stimuli that the sufferer may not consciously fear.

Fear has kept us alive. It continues to do so, even today.  We know what is dangerous because we learned it was dangerous. We fear the “danger”, we keep away from it, or fight it, and that helps us to not get killed. Great!

But, it’s not so crazy to ask ourselves why failure scares us still so much even in our modern, comfortable lives. Because, we know that even if we fail, we probably won’t die. So why do we fear failure so damn much?

Because, failure brings some not so pleasant feelings to the surface. When we fail at something, the first feelings that arise, are the feelings of disappointment (in your self), anger (at yourself or others), frustration (thrown out into the void), sadness, regret, and confusion. I know that every single one of us has ended up kicking ourselves for failing at something. More than once.

But, is fear the natural response to failure? If so, why?

You’ve probably heard some quotes shinning positive light on failure. For some, failure would be a good thing. Failure would be the stepping stone to great success! Yay!

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy

“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” – Ken Robinson

But wait… What?

Being positive about failing. Oh, what a beautiful thing that would be. I do my best to see even my short comings as a good thing. But, nonetheless, lets be honest with ourselves: failure sucks.

My positive side tells me that failing teaches you what not to do. My negative side tells me that I’ve wasted a shit ton of time and effort that I’m never gunna get back, and that I’m not as good as others.

But I understand the basis of taking failure as a positive thing. I really do. However, actually training our minds to think of it that way systematically, isn’t an easy task. It feels like the exact opposite of what we were taught to do. Ever wonder why?

Maybe now you’ve came to wonder: “Hey! Why is it that our first response to failure is fear?” “Why the heck am I so afraid to fail?!”

Maybe a part of you KNOWS, deep down, that failing isn’t that big of a deal, most of the time.

Maybe a part of you is extremely rational, and knows that it’s inevitable, because it’s physically impossible to do everything perfectly ALL THE TIME.

Lets just think about this clearly and rationally for a sec. Turn off the prehistoric voice in your head that tells you that failure = death. This is 2017.

Failure Virgin

Are you really afraid of failing at something you’ve  been repetitively and consistently been doing for the last 5, 10 or 20 years of your life? No. Of course you’re not. That’d be insane.

Then what kind of failure do we actually fear?

We fear failing to do something right THE FIRST TIME.

Is your mind as blown as mine? Do you realise that this makes no good sense, what so ever? Do you recognise this is the biggest thing holding you back? Because I’m guessing it is. If you were rational, accepting the fact that there’s a 99% chance that the first time you try something new, it’s not gunna be correct. How could it be?

We all know, realistically, that it takes years to develop a skill. We know that once we practice something enough, we will become good at it. We know that it’s impossible, to become a huge success over night.

Yet. Yet… What we fear most, quite stupidly, isn’t not being able to become good at it on the long term. We fear failing at the beginning.

Why????

Because it’s humiliating screwing things up, it hurts, and you’re not rewarded for failing. You want to feel good, and special. Failing at something new doesn’t make you feel special at all.

In school, when a teacher asked a question to the class, who got the “gold star”? The kid who tried to get an answer right, was brave enough to take a shot, but failed at providing the correct answer, or the kid who did give the right answer on his/her first try?

The one who gave the right answer, of course. As for the others, who provided no answer at all, they were able to spare themselves of the embarrassment that the one who got the answer wrong, brought upon himself/herself.

Failing > Not Trying

In high school, I loved my classes. I was one of those girls who chose to sit in front of the class, and I always participated. It was sort of a game for me, to put up my hand, and see if I had the right answer logged in my brain somewhere.

What I discovered is that, obviously, getting the answer correct on your first time, feels great. Seriously, huge confidence booster.

But, what I also found, is that getting the answer wrong, was so much better than giving no answer at all! There were about only a small handful of people who actually took part actively in the classes I took in high school. And, whether or not this sounds like I’m bragging, I felt so much better about myself getting something wrong, than just not giving a shit about the question in the first place, like many of my classmates did.

However, I’m not a superior human being. The topics discussed in class, on the grand scheme of things, really didn’t matter. Like I said, it was just kinda fun. It didn’t matter whether I was right or wrong, it never really affected me personally. But in every day life, there are a lot of things that matter to us a lot, personally and professionally. They matter because we’re invested in them, and we care dearly about the outcomes.

Getting back to the cost of failure. In business, when you fail, you loose profit. You loose a shit ton of money. But what about when you fail at a relationship? What about when you fail at getting the promotion or job you wanted? What about when your hard work doesn’t pay off? What about when you loose or have have to change paths when you arrived at a dead end?

What if we changed the currency of failure?

Actionable life tips. Failure for better success.

Highly successful people, such as JK Rowling and Richard Branson, among others,  promote failure as being the secret ingredient to their now successful lives: they failed their way to glory.

“How did they do it? But more importantly… How can I do it?? “

1/ Call it something else.

Failure is a dirty word. Well, no, actually, humans have made it into a dirty word. Call your failures something other than that. Keetering called them “practice shots”. Henry Ford called them “opportunities to begin again”. Kiyosaki called it “part of the process of success”. Rename and reframe your mishaps.

“An inventor fails 999 times, and if he succeeds once, he’s in. He treats his failures simply as practice shots.”
– Charles F. Kettering

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
Henry Ford

“Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.”
Robert T. Kiyosaki

2/ Use it as a stepping stone.

Identify what went wrong, tell yourself you won’t do it again, and move forward.

“A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.”
John C. Maxwell

“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”
Winston Churchill

3/ Don’t be a sneak.

It’s pointless hiding our failures, especially to ourselves (which is what a lot of us try to do). We think if we don’t admit to ourselves that we failed, its like it never happened, and no one will know. Don’t be silly. Be honest with yourself, learn and move on.

“There are no failures – just experiences and your reactions to them.”
– Tom Krause

“Success builds character, failure reveals it.”
– Dave Checkett

“Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”
– Zig Ziglar

4/ Refine and redefine.

Take a moment to assess what the hell just happened, and what your priorities are. Perhaps things have changed. Make sure you know where your motivation lies, why you’re trying to achieve whatever you’re trying to achieve in the first place. Get specific with yourself, and redefine the road ahead.

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.”
C. S. Lewis

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”
– Michael Jordan

So there you have it folks! The keys so success and glory : Failure. Failure will open the doors to opportunity and accomplishments. Fear of failure, will close all of them, and inspire nothing but doubt and inaction. So you go do you, and don’t let fear of not doing something right the first time, keep you from doing anything at all!

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CLEAN SLATING

The act of starting over, of making a new start by clearing the past-record.

As someone who’s moved around a lot during my twenty years of life, I know what it’s like to start from scratch.

I can’t exactly remember the first time I moved across the Unites States with my mother. She says it took three days and that I cried a lot.

I vaguely remember moving a few times when we lived in California. My clearest memories are those of having easter egg hunts in back yards and our last house which had a the highest ceiling I had ever seen in my life.

I remember the move to France. I practiced speaking french words in the bathtub with my mother. She taught me words like “crayon” (pen). That’s the only one I can remember her teaching me, at this time, as I swished about in my bubble bath with yellow rubber ducks. We were officially moved to France by the time  I was 7 or 8.

But even in France, I had a lot of new beginnings. We moved three or four times, when we lived in the South of France. I switched schools three times in 4 years during junior year. Luckily for me, I was able to keep all my friends at high school, having stayed at the same one for all three years. But then I moved again, when I started to Business School.

And that’s not it. During my second year of Business School, I moved to Slovenia for six months, and during my last year, I moved to Paris. And that’s where I am now. (Yet not for long.)

Starting over, isn’t just attached to were you are geographically. It can also occur depending on where you are mentally. Our entire lives, we’re constantly starting over, and over again. Changing our minds, opinions, tastes, clothes, jobs, hobbies, partners, friends as we grow older and age.

Starting over can come as a relief (to some). Especially when whatever came before wasn’t particularly enjoyable. Being able to start over, comes as a relief to some of us who fear to be stuck on a single path forever. But, more than ever, as we grow older, starting over becomes increasingly difficult.

When you’re fourteen, you’re allowed to go idea and personality hopping, in the same way a group of bachelors go bar-hopping on a Saint Patricks Day weekend. You’re allowed to reinvent yourself as much as you want, change your mind as much as you want, and change everything about yourself as much as you want (well, I don’t think your mother would let you get that tattoo you’d say you want, but you get what I mean).

But as you get older, your life is becoming harder and harder to re-model. Your play dough life is drying up and you feel like everything you do and everything you think has to be set in stone for ever. You won’t be able to go back and change it: career choice, partners, marriage, children… There’s just some things you can’t go back on in adulthood, unlike in your childhood, when things really didn’t matter all that much in the end.

Many of us feel trapped by this feeling of not being able to ever have a clean slate again. But… is it true, or are we blowing things way out of proportion? Is adulthood really the end of adventure and being able to remodel yourself and your life, just by simply choosing to do so?

Most of us live with the strong belief that the later is true: you’ve made your bed, now you have to sleep in it. Forever.

But what if we just got out of bed for a second, just to rethink things for a while? What if clean slating didn’t mean whiping everything away for good? What if clean slating just meant changing our perspective on ourselves and then improving the things we dislike?

What if clean slating just meant changing our perspective on ourselves and then improving the things we dislike? Click To Tweet

Because, if you’re somewhat afraid of not being able to ever have a clean slate again, that must mean that there’s something about your present life that you’re not completely thrilled about, or else you wouldn’t need that clean slate, right?

It doesn’t have to be a big thing you’re not thrilled about. Even the smallest things can make us want to start over again. For me, I’ve often liked to start over again. I often liked the fresh feeling of starting a new chapter of my life. The clean slating was fun, and adventurous. But it’s easy to get obsessed with it. It’s easy to become dependant on it.

At one point, I felt like I needed a clean slate, on a regular basis. Just to keep myself entertained, as I quickly and easily found boredom has a way to find me wherever and however far I go. And the first solution that I would come up with, is moving across the country, starting a new school, or changing my entourage. Basically, I thought I needed to erase everything about my life. And I did it a few times, only to realise an obvious truth: clean slating, on such a regular basis at least, can be exhausting, and very stressful.

Traditionally, clean slating would implicate that I’d have to move across the world or the country again, in order to not be bored, and get some stimulation from life. But, what about finding the reason I get bored so fast, and then coming up with a more sustainable solution than relocating geographically, I asked myself.

I’ve been starting to clean slate my life lately, by discovering what enables me to become so bored so quickly: I need to be forcing myself to do something new and different everyday, wherever I am, and however I feel. As logical as that may sound, it’s taken years for me to actually implement, because I had became so accustomed to brand new beginnings. I thought it was normal to clean slate as often as it was normal to purge your closet (every 2/3 years, tops).

It’s one of the reasons why I take on so many projects at once: so whenever I get a little bored of one of them, I can switch to another, and return to that other one when the other one stops stimulating me. It’s the reason why I’ve started a branding agency, a luxury pillow company, this website; why I read three books at once; why I took up photography a year and a half ago; why I moved to Paris; why I’m teaching myself a new language; and why I love to write (it’s never the same thing twice).

The clean slating starts from the inside, then out. And it looks different for each and everyone of us.

What does clean slating mean to you? How often do you find yourself clean slating, or wanting to clean slate? I’d love to hear your opinions about this.

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Collage by Julia B.
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PACKAGED = PROCESSED.

Food processing is any deliberate change in a food that occurs.

I recently watched what was probably too many hours of documentaries on processed foods and sugar in foods available at our supermarkets. The extra information I've collected, has made me extra weary of packaged foods, and food labels.

I've always been somewhat of a health nut. My body is made up of 98% fruit, and I buy that same amount of my groceries in the produce section. I stay away from most packaged cookies, cakes, candy and ready made meals. I eat very little bread-y things, like french baguettes, but when I do, I take the whole-grain, cereal kind. I check the ingredients and nutrition labels 100% of the time.

Yet, there's still times that I'm cautious about the names of ingredients that non-scientists are unable to understand, e.g. hidden sugar, hidden preservatives, hidden anything. Transparency can be, and is, a big issue in the food industry. We don't always know what we're eating, despite some of our best efforts to inform ourselves.

I feel lucky, because France (and Europe in general) has a lot of governmental policies about how food is made, and we're not exposed to as many products with High Fructose Corn Syrup, for example. Many very unhealthy ingredients have been removed from the food chain process (and cosmetics), being deemed too unhealthy, or dangerous for people's health. And during my last visit to the States, and the documentaries I watched, I quickly and easily realised that grocery shopping in the US and grocery shopping in France, is two completely different things.

Think of every "disgusting"-product-which-should-never-have-been-invented-in-the-first-place item in your american grocery store you can think of. Here in France, we don't have it. Pop tarts (delicious, but highly unhealthy) and cheese in spray can (sacrilege, the French would protest in the streets for months until it got banned until the end of time), are the first ones that come to my mind.

But even seemingly normally healthy foods like cereal and yogurt, can be misleading. A product can even be marketed as "healthy", and have 10g of sugar per serving. And how can we buy cereals, which are primarily served to children by parents, which enable them eat 100% of their daily recommended amount of sugar in a single sitting? How is this even allowed??

CALL IT HOW YOU EAT IT

There is around 61 different names for sugar on food labels: Agave nectar, Barbados sugar, Barley malt, Barley malt syrup, Beet sugar, Brown sugar, Buttered syrup, Cane juice, Cane juice crystals, Cane sugar, Caramel, Carob syrup, Castor sugar, Coconut palm sugar, Coconut sugar, Confectioner’s sugar, Corn sweetener, Corn syrup, Corn syrup solids, Date sugar, Dehydrated cane juice, Demerara sugar, Dextrin, Dextrose, Evaporated cane juice, Free-flowing brown sugars, Fructose, Fruit juice, Fruit juice concentrate, Glucose, Glucose solids, Golden sugar, Golden syrup, Grape sugar, HFCS (High-Fructose Corn Syrup), Honey, Icing sugar, Invert sugar, Malt

syrup, Maltodextrin, Maltol, Maltose, Mannose, Maple syrup, Molasses, Muscovado, Palm sugar, Panocha, Powdered sugar, Raw sugar, Refiner’s syrup, Rice syrup, Saccharose, Sorghum Syrup, Sucrose, Sugar (granulated), Sweet Sorghum, Syrup, Treacle, Turbinado sugar, Yellow sugar.

One too many (or sixty), I’d say.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires food producers to list all ingredients in their foods. But added sugar comes in many forms – which is why it’s so hard to find on the ingredients label. And while the product labels list total sugar content, manufacturers don’t have to say whether that’s added sugar or naturally occurring sugar, like in fruit, or milk.

What’s more, unlike salt and fats that are added to foods, nutrition labels don’t provide you with a daily reference value for added sugar. This is very practical for those who feel obligated to throw in a ridiculous amount of sugar in their products, in order to make it cheaper, more addictive, and last longer on the shelves.

But even if they won’t print the facts, some will. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 9 teaspoons (38 grams) of added sugar per day for men, and 6 teaspoons (25 grams) per day for women. The AHA limits for children vary depending on their age and caloric needs, but range between 3-6 teaspoons (12 – 25 grams) per day. Remember this is for healthy men, women and children. And with a 35% obesity rate in the US – and that’s not even counting those in the “overweight” category – maybe those numbers should be even lower.

Get food where it naturally comes from: from trees and from plants. Click To Tweet

I could go on and on about this topic (because of my obsession for health and watching of food documentaries). But long story short, there's one thing that can make everyone eat healthier in a split second: spend more time shopping in the produce section. Seriously. Get food where it naturally comes from: from trees and from plants. Aim to buy as little packaged goods as you humanly can. And for the case of meat, please for the love of god, buy the grass fed kind, and don't see it as a necessity at each and every meal - view it as a luxury, at two or three meals per week.

This is the only way you're going to be sure you won't be unknowingly eating unhealthy added sugars, preservatives, fats or hormones.

In case you're still not inspired enough to cut out more of the processed foods from your daily diet, here are a few things you can watch: Sugar... it's no so sweet by Calgary Avansino for TEDSugar and Processed Foods ABC News ReportEat for real change by Dr Joanna McMillan ,  and most of all : The Secrets of Sugar - the fifth estate.

What do you guys think? What's your view on over-processed foods?

 

Image via Aww Sam & Studio DIY.
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WILLFUL BLINDNESS

A term used in law to describe a situation in which a person seeks to avoid civil or criminal liability for a wrongful act by intentionally keeping oneself unaware of facts that would render liability.

“I don’t want to know.”

You may or may not hear this sentence on a daily basis. If you’re a fan of Law and Order, Suits or any other TV show or movie where people are in trouble, you’ve probably heard lawyers say this more than a few times. But it isn’t just lawyers who say these words. We do it too, often subconsciously, more often than you might (want to) believe.

The legitimacy of willful blindness has been discussed in courts, and it no longer holds up in criminal cases. In the United States vs. Jewell criminal case, it was decided that willful ignorance satisfied the requirements of knowledge of a fact. In other words, you were guilty if you hide important information from yourself, when it’s obvious that you should have known or tried to know. They called this phenomena the ostrich instruction: “the requirement of knowledge to establish a guilty mind is satisfied by deliberate ignorance and deliberate avoidance of knowledge”.

As the story goes, Jewell was approached in a bar along the northern border between Mexico and the United States and after being asked to buy marijuana and declining, was asked if he would drive a car across the border for $100. The car was stopped at customs and marijuana was found in the car in a compartment that Jewell had noticed but not inspected. The law required knowledge that marijuana was in the car. The trial court instructed the jury that the “government can complete their burden of proof by proving… if the defendant was not actually aware… his ignorance… was solely and entirely a result of his having made a conscious purpose to disregard the nature of that which was in the vehicle.”

The appellate court wrote, “deliberate ignorance and positive knowledge are equally culpable… one ‘knows’ facts of which he is less than absolutely certain. To act ‘knowingly’, therefore, is not necessarily to act only with positive knowledge, but also to act with awareness of the high probability of the fact in question… ‘knowledge is established if a person is aware of a high probability of its existence, unless he actually believes that it does not exist.”

Cases like these are quite complex: how does one prove that someone else wasn’t aware of something? If a person is obviously mentally capable of being aware of many other things in daily life that he should be aware of, if he is proven to be responsible in other areas of life, you can safely assume that this particular suspicious piece of evidence, was deliberately ignored.

In this case, it indeed seems that Jewell chose to not to become aware, by  not inspecting the jar that he presumably noticed, before he left, and should have questioned himself when some guys asked him to “drive across the border” for 100$ dollars by drug dealers… I mean, red flags everywhere, right? Right.

So, you’re guilty in the name of law, when you choose not to become aware of something you should be aware of.

You’re guilty when you choose to ignore the red flags.

But what about in our real lives? Are we guilty for overseeing our red flags?

Oh dear, at times they seem everywhere – to everyone but ourselves. Everyone, has at some point ignored their red flags: staying with a guy who is an asshole for way too long, staying at a job you hate working with people you hate, ignoring the blinking red light on your car warning you to change the oil, ignoring the bills that come in the mail… We avoid things that make us uncomfortable and scared. To make ourselves feel better, we pretend we don’t know about them! Ahhh.

We pretend we’re dumber than we really are, to get out of trouble. Results? We’re just digging ourselves in deeper and deeper into the trouble.

But, before you start feeling too guilty, remember: running away from danger is natural human instinct. It’s embedded in our DNA. It’s fight or flight, and some of us often choose to run instead of fight.

Ignorance proves to not be the bliss many said it to be.

It’s so easy to give a step by step process of what you should do when you’re faced with something that you’d rather not know because it makes you uncomfortable, because most of us already KNOW what we need to do: become aware of the issue, and calmly and peacefully resolve it in our own way. But in the sentiment of trying to help those who seek guidance, I will offer my simple take on how to dissolve the temptation of defaulting into willful blindness.

  1. Witness the thing you’re bothered by.
  2. Look at it, and try to be rational about it.
  3. Make a list in your head of everything you can do to solve the problem, or stop being bothered by it.
  4. Practice those ideas you came up with, while staying positive about the process and believing that it’s for the best.
  5. Be happy because you’re willfully aware and you’re dealing with it in an honest, authentic way!

Choosing to be willfully blind, only creates a sense of guilt in our life. We act dumb, but we can’t completely fool ourselves. We’re a lot smarter than we think. We know we’re being dishonest with ourselves, when we hide the truth from ourselves. Instead of making ourselves feel better, it just makes us feel shittier. So choosing to dispel everything you know you’re being wilfully blind about, is one of the greatest way to start living a more authentic and honest life! Are you with me??

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Not my artwork. Illustrator unknown.
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SELF-AWARENESS

Conscious knowledge of one’s own character and feelings.

Oh god. I’m gunna be completely honest here. At this very instant, I feel like the worst person to talk about self-awareness. It’s true.

If we decide to define self-awareness as the conscious knowledge of one’s own character and feelings, I’ve been failing at it lately. Quite dramatically.

And let me tell you why and what this looks like and just how it happens.

Having self awareness assumes that you are AWARE of YOURSELF. That means that you can see yourself, for who you really are. Does that make sense? Does that sound like an easy thing to do you guys?

For a long time, I felt like I had some self awareness, but it was some very vague and distant concept of it. And then suddenly, as you start growing into yourself, developing all these knew thoughts and experiences that come with getting older, and getting more “mature”, things get a little murky. Unless you’re a perfectly grounded person to begin with, and was always someone who felt like they had a firm understanding of who they were, and knew exactly who they were meant to become, this murky feeling is bound to happen to everyone.

I feel this has a lot to do with the fact that as children and teenagers, we’re faced with so many unconscious life decisions. When you’re a kid, you don’t necessarily think about who you’re going to be friends with or who you’re going to hang out with. You just let things happen, more or less. You have your marbles and your dolls and you just play with them, because that’s just what you do! When you’re in high school, even though your brain is more developed, you’re still in this place where you’re not completely in control of who you are, and you don’t necessarily think about self-awareness. You go to school, you start to have goals and your own personal ideas and opinions, but they’re very abstract. Nothing about them is real just yet. Your existence is almost, I would say, theoretical. Your life only takes a more practical form, when you start experimenting with your theoretical self you’ve been developing during all these years, and you see how that works out practically. It’s science, really.

If this is making no sense, I understand. This happens a lot.

But look at it this way: imagine your real, true self as a cake. (And a delicious one!)

Your pre-adulthood, otherwise known as your childhood and your teenage-hood, is the dry cake mix. It’s basically in this big bowl, that is your current life. The one you’ve had for about 18 or 20 years. The ingredients are dry, and nothing much is happening, besides “preparations” for the “future”.

When you become an “adult”, or start to become a full “grown” person (or 1m62, whatever you’re genetically blessed with), that’s when things really start to get interesting. You start mixing in the liquid ingredients (can you tell that I’m somewhat of a baking nerd?), a.k.a, real life stuff, and that’s when shit really starts to get interesting (or seriously frightening).

So you have the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients mixing together, its wet, it’s sticky, it’s bubbly, the ingredients are kind of fighting against each other, to make one, nice, silky, homogenous cake batter. And before that beautiful buttery mixture happens, you dunno what the hell you’re supposed become or who you want to be. You could be a delicious red velvet cake, or you could just as easily be a big bowl of disgusting goop, for all you know. (Sorry, no – in this metaphor, you’re always going to end up as a nice and delicious cake. There’s always a happy ending. The point is, you get to choose what kind of cake you become).

When does the self-awareness come into the recipe? Self awareness is difficult to discern during the mixing-together phase. Self awareness is the secret ingredient that’s mixed into the other ingredients in the bowl. It was in the dry preparation, can never evaporate in the baking process, and it has also never really been activated. It’s within you, always. It’s the ingredient that makes your delicious red velvet cake amazing. Not just good. Not just delicious. But ground-breaking-crazy-balls-amazing. Self-awareness is the secret ingredient that not only makes your cake taste amazing, it makes all the ingredients bind together once it comes out of the oven. You need it in order for things to be chemically balanced.

Self awareness is something that is, and will always be, available to you. But you probably can’t taste it yet, because you’re taste buds aren’t sophisticated enough, and your ingredients aren’t all mixed together yet. And you certainly can’t feel it or witness it, because you haven’t baked your cake, yet!

Switching from the baking metaphors, as a child or a teenager, self-awareness isn’t something you’re particularly worried or thinking about. Most of us live outside of ourselves, because we learn from a very early age that there’s this world outside of us, and we have to deal with it. But we rarely learn how to deal with ourselves. We learn that we need to get along with others, that we need to do/not do certain things, that there’s certain people we need to please, and certain things we need to avoid in order to be accepted by the people around us. But we rarely ask ourselves: “What about me”? “How to I get along with myself? What pleases me? What do I need to avoid in order to be accepted by myself?”

Basically, self-awareness can’t happen until you start opening up the conversation with yourself, about the place you want to hold in the real world (a.k.a what kind of cake do you want to be).

If you think you’re narcissistic if you think about yourself, you’re not alone. That’s part of the reason many of us take so long to become self-aware. We learned that thinking about ourselves is selfish. But, who the fuck cares – you cannot go through life without being at least a little bit selfish. And I’m not talking selfish as a dirty version of the word. I’m talking about the certain level of selfishness you have to have, in order to really LIVE with yourself, you know?

Just think of it this way: you’re the only person you’re really going to spend the rest of your life with. Marry whoever you want, have as many friends as you can have, but whenever they are not there, you’re alone. You’re with yourself. So you better make fricken sure you know who you’re dealing with.

I said at the beginning of this post, that I felt like the worst possible person to talk about self-awareness. And while I understand the concept (nearly) perfectly, I’m yet to practice it consciously. Unconsciously, I believe we all know everything about ourselves – we’re us, after all. We’ve gotta be self-aware on some level. But at times, I have no clue what I’m feeling, and I don’t always understand myself. Either because I’m avoiding it, or because I just don’t get it, yet. I feel like my dry ingredients and wet ingredients are still mixing in the bowl of my current life, and they’re not yet decided what they wanted to be together yet.

But, what comes as a relief, is that I know that self-awareness is in the mix, and that eventually, I will be able to taste it and to feel it. And so will you. Eventually, my cake batter will become a nice, creamy, dreamy mixture, and I will be able to dip my fingers into the batter and have a true taste of my own life, before officially baking it in the oven. Self-awareness is becoming the person you’re meant to be, and knowing who that is inside out.

So, you can bake your cake, and eat it, too.

Artwork by Hajin Bae.
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This is a review of Leandra Medine’s “I’m 28 Years Old and I Think I Want Botox” on Man Repeller. This review also appears in Ep. 13 – My Week in Press.

Leandra Medine shines light on what it’s really like to get older (well, in her view at least). This article is about how your mind view of ageing evolves over the years and decades, and how you should react when you start seeing the physical (and mental) signs of ageing.

When you’re young, you imagine that when you get old, you’re going to take it on all so gracefully – because rational as you are, you know there’s nothing you can do to stop the process of time. But then again… is there?, you start (disillusionally) wondering as you notice that first wrinkle coming in. Could modern science do the magic we need it to do to stop the appearance of time flying by?

For Leandra, she knew it could. She’s thought thoroughly about it. But do you really want to stop your body from being who it is and what it does? Do you really want to sweep the appearance the extra years you’ve taken on, under the rug? Could you live with yourself knowing that you’ve messed with the natural effects of time passing?

It’s basically just another one of those dilemmas: stay wrinkle free for a few more years (or decades) masking the fact that you’re ageing, or age gracefully and honestly, and look exactly how you were meant to at your age. For Leandra, it’s the latter. At least for now.

Views of Botox are often very different. And Botox is very tempting, especially for women, because lets be honest, most people judge a woman by her appearance more than anything else (often times).

But the final truth will always remain, no matter what you do, and Botox doesn’t fix all the “problems” of ageing. No matter which side of the spectrum you are (pro or anti-botox), you will inevitably feel the tests of time. There’s nothing you can do, and your control-freak-do-i-need-botox mind has to come to terms with that.

In our 20s, we’re naïve or innocent enough to believe that we’re going to accept getting old, gracefully! But the years leave marks and wrinkles. And thankfully with them, marks of wisdom. But we often are submerged by the belief, or the fear, that everything goes down hill the minute we turn 30. Or at least, that’s what most of us tell ourselves. (Maybe if we spent less time worrying about ageing, we wouldn’t have so many damn wrinkles!)

What we seem to automatically forget the moment we hit the higher age group, is that ageing also comes with the gift of great wisdom. As Leandra Medine put it, “Decades grace us with their wisdom at different stages.”.

And quoting the end of her post, because it sums it up all so well…

“You hit the social basics between ages 7 and 9, the formative years of learning your cues. You are your most emotionally fertile between 15 and 17. And by the time you hit 28? You are practically emerging from an existential birth canal wherein you think you know yourself, you realize you don’t, you start learning yourself and then…I don’t know, I’m still in the birth canal. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, I am probably not going to get Botox. It feels like reacting to a headline without actually having read the article. An inkling of emotional response, but not enough information.”

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