Just Because

Sometimes it feels as though I’m in some kind of robotic trance. I begin just simply accepting things for the way they are, or go about my day without a question in the world, and just follow along, since it’s just the thing that I do, just because.

This just because lifestyle is a lifestyle that people simply accept, and go along with because that’s how it’s “always been” for them. People are scared of change and are scared to ask themselves the hard questions that may lead them to a realization that veering off course would actually make them much, much happier than staying on their current path.

I find so many people in life follow this just because lifestyle without ever questioning it. In fact, I might even argue that they actively fight these questions. Most don’t want to feel different (at least when they are surrounded by people that also don’t want to feel different), so they choose to accept the way their life and their society works since there’s no other way to be (or so they believe).

I believe it is this just because that causes so much misery and wasted lives in society. Maybe I’m ignorant and young, and don’t know anything about the real struggles of the world, but I’d argue that many of the consistent factors of mental and emotional hardships in one’s life can be solved by going against the just because.

An example of this is one that crosses my mind a lot, mostly due to an old girlfriend that I was with for roughly four years. During these four years, there were, of course, many great moments. We loved each other, we explored together, and we had fun together. On the other hand, there were many, many (did I mention many) bad times. We fought more than we had normal moments, let alone good moments. We were plagued by a common problem in relationships: attempting to shape each other into our perfect companion. Looking back, it seems obvious, but hindsight bias is real, and it’s hard to see it in the moment, especially when you’re actively repressing your introspection about it. I would constantly find myself thinking, “why am I with her? There has to be something other than this in a relationship.” But of course, I kept it going, because I was too far in it already.

We had been together for over 2 years when the majority of our fighting began, and it seemed like a waste to “throw that all away.” Well, that’s what I told myself at least. This shitty relationship kept going for another two years. But if I had been honest with myself, I would have realized I was simply just scared to break up with her and scared of what my life would be like without a girlfriend. So basically, I stayed with her just because that was the norm of my life. I was scared of change. Luckily at the end of the four years, I kind of snapped and broke it off suddenly and completely. It was probably one of the best decisions and one of the hardest decisions I have yet made in my life.

So from this, I would argue, question your relationships. If you start asking yourself a question and you feel yourself repressing it, and fighting your oncoming answers, maybe that’s exactly the question you want to be asking, and the question you want to take the time to figure out.

This idea of asking the uncomfortable questions doesn’t just apply to relationships. The exact same methodology can be used for a job that you’re miserable in, or a friendship that you feel is one-sided and is giving more stress than happiness (what are friendships for, after all?), and many other situations.

In conclusion, I would just say, ask those uncomfortable questions. Follow your tough thoughts. Don’t be afraid to stray off of the just because lifestyle just because you’re afraid of change. Change can be good, and sameness can be bad.


p.s. 5 minutes after posting this, I came across a Wait But Why post that is a great attempt at an explanation behind the fear of change from this just because.

Just Because

Active and Silent Minimalists

Last night I watched “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things” on Netflix, which is heavily focused on Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus’ (The Minimalists) book tour.

During one of their stops, one of the audience members makes a comment (and I’m paraphrasing here) saying more minimalists need to be like them, sharing this message of minimalism and anti-consumerism since they are the people that will actually make a difference, taking down Wall Street and the big corporations that take advantage of others. He also comments, in a negative way, on how the monks and the silent minimalists are essentially useless since they are not bringing minimalism to the attention of others.

In a sense, I can see how their usefulness to society as a whole is decently small. They are definitely inspiring to a certain group of individuals, but most of our society couldn’t care less about monks, and no one actually knows about the silent minimalists. The Minimalists, however, have motivated a large group of people, myself included when I read Josh’s book back in 2013, to take on, or at least intentionally consider a lifestyle of minimalism.

The difference between these two groups (the activist minimalists, and the silent ones) are their purpose. The activists are just that, actively trying to spread awareness about minimalism and the ability to intentionally buy and use what you actually need. Their goal is to spread this message, and as the audience member said, “scare Wall Street.” Looking, in contrast, to the silent minimalists, we see instead the ones who simply want to apply this minimalist style to their own life. Their purpose isn’t to spread it and preach it to all those who will listen. Instead, they find comfort and happiness by simply living minimalism, and don’t find the need to spread the word.

In today’s society, most would argue that if you don’t have utility in the greatest way possible, you are useless, and maybe even a detriment to others. Perhaps that’s true, but do those mindful and minimalist folks actually care? Since they find themselves avoiding the societal norms of high achievement, defined in our lives as having more money, or more things, they instead choose to ignore the societal need for the greatest contribution towards society.

As conflicting as it may sound, perhaps it is this idea of needing to effect the most amount of people possible that creates such selfish and ignorant people. If anyone gets in our way or contradicts what we say, we feel attacked and oppressed. Instead, maybe we should be more open to the comments of others, and focus on the things that make us happy. We don’t have to preach about it to everyone else, but instead only to those who want to listen with an open mind. I believe that is the goal of The Minimalists, and likewise the goal of the silent minimalist and the monks. Neither group is trying to convert those who don’t want to be converted, but instead simply live their minimalist lives as they feel makes them happy. The activist minimalist reap joy from spreading the message to those who seek it and the silent ones are equally content by simply living it.

Active and Silent Minimalists

The Fallacy of the Incapable Millennial

It’s odd listening to someone say that my generation is stereotypically useless and helpless.

Don’t get me wrong, most millennials totally suck. There are, however, many “negative” stereotypes about millennials that I don’t agree are negative at all and are instead simply the evolution of our society.

This came to mind from when I was talking to my girlfriend’s dad and his co-worker. Both work at General Motors and are total stereotypical car guys. They brought up the fact that they frequently complain about their children, both college-aged millennials, and how they won’t have any idea how to survive in the real world. Not surprisingly, their main complaint was that “millennials have no idea how to fix a car.” Let me be the first to admit that I would have precisely 0% of an idea of what to do if my car broke down in the middle of the street (besides call triple A, hoping that I have cell-service), thus I am not saying that their argument is false. However, I do believe that the logic behind the ability to fix cars correlating to real-world success is completely flawed.

If we look into the society in which that the older generation grew up we see almost an obsession with cars. Most of the men that I know who are over the age of 40 have at one point or another worked as a mechanic, or at the very least taken a shop class. Now looking among my millennial friends, exactly 2 of them have taken some kind of car-oriented class or worked in that field, and both of them are sons of men who have worked for car companies. For the older generation, it made sense to take these classes and work as mechanics as the job market was essentially overflowing with car-based, hands-on jobs. If we look at the same job market today, jobs requiring technical car skills come down to almost nothing, since 99% of those jobs are automated. Staying on this topic of automation and further investigating the job market shows a substantial increase in the need for someone who can develop software to automate the labor that the older generation was trained to do. Using the same logic as my girlfriend’s dad and his co-worker, we could, therefore, say that perhaps it isn’t millennials that are useless, but instead, the older generation that hasn’t learned these software production skills, and thus could not thrive in the newer job market.

Therefore, I agree that perhaps us millennials could never thrive in the job market of the 70’s or 80’s where technical and hands-on skills are highly valued, though, in consequence, the older generation could never thrive in the current and future job market where technological and theoretical skills are prized.

The Fallacy of the Incapable Millennial

The Path of High Achievement

I find myself all too often getting caught up in trying to be “the best” in my classes or in my side hobbies. This even starts showing up when I play video games, where 90% of my time isn’t spent playing the actual game, but instead looking up videos on the most efficient builds, or the quickest playthroughs. It makes me wonder if we are genetically adapted to try to be the best, or whether society has pushed us to need to be better than the others around us.

It is curious that when I sit down and self-reflect on what I believe my true goals are in life, being “the best” at something almost never comes to mind. I find myself instead wanting a happy family, living somewhere with dense and luscious green trees, and having the time to read and enjoy my family’s company.

The thoughts of being the best seem to instead occur in spontaneous manic bursts, which might be interpreted as a moment of inspiration to others. It almost feels addicting, picturing myself in the spotlight of the biggest company of X or Y field, and having my name trailing in every related magazine or podcast. But this moment of instant gratification, coming from these thoughts of fame, feel only too similar to the rush of satisfaction given by getting more likes on a facebook post. In the end, both intrinsically mean nothing. Having fame or facebook likes doesn’t correlate with having long-term happiness (that I know of), and perhaps this means that these thoughts of high-achievement should be followed with caution.

It too seems to be the driver of the “rat-race” of modern life. We are told we must achieve our maximum potential, and follow this track, or that track, and get years of experience, dedicating the majority of our waking hours to our career. If we don’t, how will we afford the best house? How will we afford the best meals? How will afford the best new phone? But in the end, will any of those things really give any happiness besides the few moments after you get them?

We have the ability to ask “why” to anything we feel, or think, or do. We are, after all, the most conscious and intellectual beings on this planet, and we should use our ability for deep introspection to truly determine what, in the end, will make us happy. Maybe we should determine how to achieve those goals, instead of our forever evolving career goals, and our essentially unobtainable dreams of fame. Consequently, maybe we should learn to appreciate what we have instead of always trying to reach for the most “efficient build.”

The Path of High Achievement