Higher Education

Somewhere there must be logic in their decision. The purpose of higher education is specialization, and they more than anyone know if someone is fit for that location. 

So, of course, there are two things I can do:

1. Change my own mind and my own preferences to match theirs so that I may be a better fit for their program.

2. Accept that I may not be a good fit at this school, and realize that may own talents and abilities would better be used on a different path. Accept their decision as something I cannot change, something out of my control, and move past it.

After all, what were my true intentions of going there? Was it really my passion for that school? Or was it something else?

Higher Education

Control

Remember that there are things that are within your control and things that are out of your own control. Realize this, and take action to change the things that are within your control. Realize too that you can learn from the events outside of your control. 

Accept that they have happened and move on, but understand why and how it has happened, so that maybe next time it is within your control.

Control

A Part of the Silence

Find several moments, every day, to make yourself a part of the silence in your surroundings.

Be it morning or night: take a seat, and close your eyes.

Perhaps place your palms on your knees, and turn them upwards, with your thumb and index finger touching lightly.

Adjust your back and make it straight, with your neck aligned with the spine.

Relax your shoulders, your eyes, and your tongue.

Breathe.

Notice the breath flowing through your nose, expanding and contracting your chest.

Do you feel the heaviness of your body pressing against your sit bones?

Take a minute to listen to the noises around you.

Realize the active sounds – those that are momentary, and have a purpose.

Differentiate them from the passive ones – those that remain constant (perhaps the hum of a freeway, or the rustling of some trees).

Realize that you have thoughts going through your head, perhaps judging those sounds that you’ve just taken in. Realize, also, that those thoughts are momentary, and that you can rid your head of them.

Realize that, though there are sounds around you, there is also silence.

The silence is the emptiness of space, while the noises are the infinitely spread apart stars and planets, numerous but distant.

Become a part of the empty space. Become a part of the silence.

Become an outsider, looking into the scenario that your body occupies.

With each inward breath, notice any interrupting thought that comes your way.

With each outward breath, let your mind gently push the thought out by whatever means works for you – return again to the emptiness of noise.

When a state of mental peace seems to have arrived, and perhaps a hint of light-headedness begins, gently open your eyes.

Can you remain in that silence?

A Part of the Silence

Acceptance of Death

Of what purpose is higher education?

Why do we push the bounds of our knowledge, and attempt so hard to increase our technological edges?

Do we, as a human race, have a goal that we collectively strive for? Perhaps immortality? Is limitless life not what most people strive for, in one form or another?

We feel proud eating the cleanest food, and guilty eating the junk. We declare smoking, alcohol, and drugs as the quickeners of death, and thus intrinsically bad.

But truly and honestly, of what does this matter? Death or life? Is death not really the truest part of our self? From a mathematical sense, are we not infinitely dead and negligibly alive? Perhaps this is the true reason we make every attempt to extend our life. But perhaps this is the reason we attempt to escape the acceptance of death.

Is this not a reason why so many turn to booze and to drugs in the first place? As a numbing agent for the difficult thoughts? This is the great irony of our lives – we shape our lives to avoid death as best as possible, but escape our thoughts by quickening our death.

As for death itself, why do we choose to let it sadden us and scare us?

It is inevitable.

Should our lives not be dedicated to the development of an acceptance of our own death?

Perhaps this acceptance is the true key to happiness.

Acceptance of Death

Take the Plow

As humans, we are programmed to store our new thoughts and actions into different compartments. We change these compartments through new experiences – a sort of eureka moment for the brain. We repeat our existing information, consciously or not, over and over, strengthening the myelin that speeds up and solidifies our memories. We draw from these memories and figure out what to do next, which way to flow in a difficult situation.

But can these old experiences, old memories, old paths, really be purely beneficial? Or do they act as a crutch when times get tough, and when situations become scary?

We go back to what we draw comfort from – the safety of sameness. We avoid discomfort by avoiding change. Yet in the back of our mind, who hasn’t wanted to just start over – a la Tabula Rasa?. We find this cathartic release when we purge our unnecessary, and cluttering items, even when we swipe away that last email in our inbox. Suddenly, this cleanse becomes an opportunity to start over. The what ifs come to life. The different paths begin to appear, and all we want to do is explore them.

But at the end of the day, do we follow this tempting newness? Or do we fall back to the same routine? Do we clear a million different new paths just to crawl back to the start of our old one? And when we get back to the start of our old path, do we follow it back to the point that made us so eager to cleanse it all in the first place? We feel bound to this same path because so far it has “worked” for us. Maybe we can take one of those other paths next time, right?

But maybe we should stop and just think. Just about the why. Why are we moving backward? Why are we starting over? Are we really following our own path, or did someone create this path for us to follow? To keep us bound to a single, controllable road that stops us from overthinking? Maybe we need to create a new path. Take our metaphorical plow and start a new fork in the road. There is no innovation following someone else’s trail – they’ve already reached the end of it. But think of all of the new paths that you could create if you just took that plow and turned left, or turned right in the road.

Create your own road. Create a road others can take as well, until they create their own fork too. The perfect mentor does not teach you how to walk his path – he is the ox that helps you plow a new one.

And does it not feel fulfilling to guide another? Do we not feel happiness when our disciple, or our student, or our child succeeds?

We leave a legacy – a mark on the world that will pass through generations.

What of the size of this path? Do we not thrive to create the biggest path possible? To leave the largest legacy? Do we not delight when we see more and more people follow in our footsteps?

Which path are you traveling on right now? Do you get to the end only to realize you were going in a circle? Or do you take the plow and create a new path- for yourself, and for your legacy?

Take the Plow

Entitlement

Entitlement is a weird concept in that it flat out says one person deserves what another does not. Plus, these rules of entitlement are completely man-made.

You may not typically think that entitlement is intrinsically a harmful societal construct, though I would argue that it systemically belittles, both emotionally and financially, the impoverished and the lower class.

Let us take, as an example, Mark – someone who has grown up in an upper-middle-class and relatively well-off family. They were never afraid of living on the street or not having enough food on the table at the end of the day. They never needed Mark to work to help pay off the bills nor to support himself through college.

With the support of his family, Mark can focus on his studies, or on his interests, and perhaps attend events where he makes important career connections.

If we take, on the other hand, someone who had to work since they were fourteen to help support their family, and can’t even dream of affording college, they are going to be much less able to form connections, or excel in their high-school studies. They won’t be able to get those scholarships that could have potentially helped them in the end.

But yet 95% of those upper-middle-class Marks will feel as though they deserve the amazing career that they have or the education that they got. Why shouldn’t they? They studied hard in high school to get the grades that got them into college. They studied hard in college to get them their high-paying position in a top company in their field. Don’t they naturally deserve all of this? Shouldn’t they naturally be in a better position than someone who didn’t study as hard in high school? Someone who had to sacrifice their studying in order to work at a low-paying job to make sure their little brother and little sister had something other than oatmeal for dinner like they did the last three days?

Maybe we should be less self-absorbed and realize we are all human. That each of us does the best we can with the cards we were given.

Take advantage of your privileges, but don’t forget that they are privileges. Use them to help the underprivileged.

Humble yourself and respect everyone else. You, nor anyone else, are entitled to anything.

Entitlement

Copying Success

From every successful (whatever that word means) person I read about, I realize more and more that success doesn’t come from following the footsteps of others. Sure you can see patterns, and try to mimic them, but in the end what makes someone successful is their differences. It’s the change they make in the world. The change that only comes about from their unique mindset.

It’s great reading Tim Ferriss’ Tools for Titansas it gives amazing insight into the lives of people who thrive in their field. Within the book, he compiles quotes, routines, quirks, and favorites from each of his podcast guests, along with a few random pages of his own remarks (most of which I have found very insightful).

I find it great because it’s very motivational. It makes me want to get up every morning, have my little morning routine, then conquer the world.

However, it makes me afraid that people are going to take the book too literally.

I found it ironic because many of these guests in his book tell Tim that following patterns of successful people is essentially useless. As I mentioned earlier, success comes from the outliers in the field. You aren’t going to change the world by copying someone else. It’s ironic because he wrote this book specifically to find the patterns of successful people, and telling his readers to pick up on them.

Maybe it’s cliche, but it seems as though thinking outside the box really is the way to success.

Copying Success