I recently began a volunteer role as a ‘University Angel’. This role essential allows me to keep people safe on the university campus whilst they enjoy themselves at our club. As this project is extremely new I was particularly dubious as to how successful it may be.
I arrived an hour early for my shift in order to properly debrief and understand what we would realistically do throughout the night. At this point, I took tentative steps into the ‘base’ area as I filled with excitement, nerves and anticipation and saw a couple of other people seeming to be as conflicted as myself.
My issue is that I have a hero complex, meaning that I take it upon myself to try and save the world which isn’t just highly impractical but also impossible unfortunately. Walking around that campus with my like-minded buddy was probably one of the most rewarding things I have ever done and I hope to be a part of the expansion of such a vital service for our students.
If given the opportunity to do something like this, I would wholeheartedly recommend you pursue it – both rewarding and extremely positive.
Being critical is quite often portrayed as being a very negative concept because of the negative connotations people associate with criticism. People hear the word criticism and think of things they’ve done badly or things in their lives that they need to improve – so it isn’t unfair to suggest that the connotations do have some form of logical base.
What I’m interested in though is why people shy away from people who are critical and more specifically, criticism. It’s true that some people do enjoy criticising others in order to make themselves feel superior which I would never condone, but there are a wealth of people who also criticise for the purpose of hoping to inspire improvement and progression within someone. In that instance, criticism can be one of the purest and most selfless things we encounter.
My thoughts on this are that we are far too quick to seek praise, far too slow to seek criticism and far too determined to see them two things as opposite. I’m quite certain that if we sought criticism to the same extent as we sought praise – we’d be on a very healthy path. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t for a second suggest that I don’t love receiving praise – I really do! I love praise to the point in which any financial reward for a job well done seems inconsequential in comparison.
The main issue with criticism is that the explanation can often seem patronising and I’ve experienced this first hand, but if we learn to open our eyes a little wider we may be able to understand that a large amount of people would rather be critical of us in order to see us thrive, rather than to be critical in order to seem superior.
There are a few things that I have become enamoured with over the years: my girlfriend, reading, writing and seeing new places – though I was to avoid writing about those different things, there are many times to write about such topics and I don’t believe this to be one of those times. To become enamoured is to be filled with fire, love, vigour and as such deserves its own time to shine rather than the symptoms being listed.
There are very few people who won’t feel this sensation in their lifetime and there are fewer still who appreciate this feeling for what it is. It is our reason for living and the different between that and existing. Whether this feeling is brought about by your partner, money, fame or power, it is something that deserves time and appreciation.
Personally the one thing I’m most thankful for is that we as a species are blessed with the ability to feel it altogether. Now, I am a man of understanding – I like to gather information and make judgements using it and I feel much more comfortable the more information I can ascertain regarding most things, apart from this one. The fact we will never be able to truly understand this level of love and passion doesn’t irritate me the way it would if it were any other feeling, but quite the opposite. I look at my girlfriend and think momentarily “how on Earth do you make me so happy? Genuinely?!” then sit back and smile as I remember there is no logical answer, amused by the hopelessness of attempting to find one.
If you take one thing away from this post then please let it be this; taking meaning from something and looking for an answer for something are not the same thing. To question something that can’t have an answer time taken away from enjoying that something.
Throughout my life, I have had a real issue with anger. Losing my cool at seemingly minor things is something that has ruled my life for a particularly long time and has caused me a great many issues within the past. Luckily, I managed to find a way to greatly reduce the feeling of anger within me by learning how to meditate.
I must stress, I did not climb a mountain and become at one with myself. I’m writing this post with the aim of assisting others who may have difficulty winding down and believe the term “meditation” to be particularly daunting.
In my experience, when people hear the word “meditate” they think of it as being impossible because they can’t clear their minds to the extent in which they believe they have to. This is the main issue.
We need to understand the literal definition of meditation. The art of meditation by definition is to focus on something, not try and think about nothing at all. This right here, was my revelation. Our bodies are constantly doing something and here we are, forgetting that we can focus on any one of those things. Here are a few things that help me when I feel as though I’m losing control;
- Counting to 10 – when people used to tell me to do this I used to get so fed up of hearing it because I thought it never worked, I thought I must be doing it wrong. I wasn’t doing it wrong, I was just missing a step. Breathing. Slowly breathing in through the nose for the first 4 seconds, then slowly breathing out through the mouth for the remaining 6 seconds works wonders. Anger is a very physical emotion – controlling the breathing is paramount to calming down.
- Become aware of your surroundings – this is a great one as it doesn’t require a large amount of effort and deals with the main issue surrounding meditation, gaining mental clarity. As I said earlier the goal is focus, not nothingness. Focus on every little sensation you’re aware of. The way your feet feel on the floor, the weight of your hair on your neck, the temperature in the room, the places on your back in which your clothes are touching, everything. Don’t frantically search for everything. Just take as much time as you need to feel these different sensations.
- Remove yourself from the situation – while this may seem like a particularly obvious one, it is never obvious at the time. Depending on the reason for your anger, you may be unable to drag yourself away from the situation whether or not you know you should. A good example of this is when you’re arguing with your partner. We all want to be heard and sometimes if we believe we’re right, we’ll argue our point until we’re blue in the face and screaming. Don’t. Remove yourself from the situation. This will allow you to do two things – calm yourself down and approach the situation with more logic rather than pure emotion.
And there we have it, my rough guide to meditation and controlling one’s emotions. Whilst this little guide will be more beneficial to those with similar issue to me such as anger, I hope this will also be of benefit to those who suffer from other issues too.
I have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, reading and spelling better than most people my age when I was young. However, I never seemed to have a particular talent for poetry, which is what made this particular accomplishment very special.
When I was 9, our teachers challenged us to write a poem with the promise of a great prize to those who’s poems were the best. Me in my childlike wonder thought “I’m definitely going to win that super amazing mega gaming room” (spoiler alert: that was not the prize unfortunately). So there we all were, trying to invent this beautiful piece of poetry at aged 9, talking with one another about what paths we were going down with it whilst secretly fishing for fresh ideas just in case.
To my absolute amazement, my poem was one of those selected as a winner – fantastic! What was my prize to be? Theme park tickets? An electric scooter? A Playstation 2?! No, my prize was something far better and is something that still excites me to this day. The poems were selected to feature in a book named “A Pocket Full of Rhyme“. This prize right here was, and to this day still is, one of the best things I have ever received through my letter box. The books were available to buy, with the winners receiving theirs for free.
This seemingly unfathomable opportunity was what inspired me to take writing a little more seriously, seeing those words I had written on paper in a book was breathtaking and I bragged about it for roughly 13 years. This opportunity is one that could’ve easily slipped away from me, which allows me the chance to say this; take every opportunity you can with both hands. Don’t limit yourself to the opportunities that seem feasible and accessible – stretch further.
When I was growing up, my family had very little money and as a consequence I didn’t have the opportunity to enjoy the same things as the other kids. Though, when I was around 6 years old I received one of the best gifts a 6 year old with very little could ask for; a giant magnet
That magnet was possibly the most fascinating object of my early childhood. Obviously you’re all dying to know what was so special about this magnet, so I shall shed some light. This magnet was roughly the same size as a dinner plate and had extremely strong levels of magnetism – I had never experienced a magnet that size in my life and revered the kind gent who gave me this gift as a god.
I have a giant metal pole in the centre of my garden. Giant magnet + giant pole = one entertained little boy. I would carry this gigantic magnet to the pole and wait for it to be almost sucked out of my hands, and then spend hours trying to remove it or see how long I could hold it next to the pole for before I gave in and released.
It is with an extremely heavy heart that I say this – the magnet was soon thrown away as we begun to tidy up the garden and I was a particularly sad child for some time after this. Thinking back now, it’s amazing how much time I spent playing with this magnet and metal pole and I’m so happy that something so simple was able to afford me so much happiness.
When hearing the term “paying homage”, our minds often go straight to big religious figures or pilgrimages – which isn’t necessarily wrong but rather unnecessarily narrow-minded if we believe these are the only things we can pay homage to.
The term “homage” is defined as “special honour or respect shown publicly” which bursts our preconceived definition of the term wide open. Homage by this definition, is something that would benefit the modern workplace tenfold – with a wide variety of studies arguing that financial incentive only provide employees with a low level of motivation. Paying homage to employees is widely regarded as one of the most effective means of motivating them.
At my workplace, we have a personal gift card that has funds added to it when we have done something particularly well. This is a nice idea but when compared to the idea of receiving praise for a job well done, the praise to me personally hands-down takes the lead. Whether this is because I have a greater need for recognition whereas other employees may have that same level of need for money, or because it’s simply nice to have the ego fluffed a little whilst knowing you’re getting a wage regardless, I’m uncertain.
To summarise, if we were to use the term “homage” properly and to its full potential, we may be able to show people that they are greatly appreciated as something that is much more than a resource or a commodity. Allowing people to be paid homage to without a judgement regarding what is worthy of it may just be what gives somebody that extra energy to go through their day attempting to do the same.