Updated: Aug 29, 2021
- When was the last time you had your "first time"?
- ... "first time"? "first time" of what?
- Of anything.
Frankly speaking, at the time being asked, my mind went blank. I bewildered and desperately looking for an answer. That same day, I returned home, tried to recall pieces of memories, put them all together to search for a reason why my life was lack of novelty and excitement. The final conclusion, however, turned to be even vaguer. The more I dived deeply into my mind, the more clueless I got.
A few days later, a life-changing project took shape. I first researched from books, the Internet and talked to some of my close friends for inspiration. During my journey of exploration, I came across the idea of Mindfulness and Meditation, which originated in Buddhism, and noticed some ignorance of myself.
As an atheist and an introvert, I have no real community to be a part of. Back to our nature, humans are herds animals. We feel safe and would rather be seen as a member of highly coordinated groups than as an individual.
Second, humans are conformists who fear the presence of new things. Without exception, I inherit that nature from our human ancestors. I was terrified with the idea of giving up those old habits even if they slowly eroded me simply because they seemed uncomfortably comfortable.
After more than 3 years of wandering inside my head, I finally decided to jump out into the real world. Here is the list of challenges I am taking to keep myself inspired and creative!
1. Career refresh
I was stuck in a work-life loop ever since I graduated 4 years ago. I worked up to 12 hours a day, barely had time for a well-cooked meal or family and friends. One day I came home exhausted and found myself staring at the ceiling. At that moment, I knew I needed a refresh!
2. Daily new roads
My office is 7km from my apartment, which is considered quite a distance due to high traffic in Ho Chi Minh city. I got up at 6:45 am and rode the scooter to work. "How can I survive this miserable traffic jam? Is there a so-called "most optimal solution"? Two requirements I could think of here are time-saving and traffic-less?" These thoughts flash through my mind one by one every morning and I could find help from no one. It's time for me to roll up my sleeves and start a new challenge to find the best way to work. Luckily and eventually, not only I found my answer but also learned so much from the process. From time to time, I enjoy my journey to work and keep my head clear from all the grey clouds.
2. Nature is the key
After days and days of looking at man-made things, nature is that one thing that could calm human beings' minds. Try climbing to the top of a high building and looking out over the skyline of a city, or simply looking up the blue sky on a sunny day while waiting for traffic line and see how you feel. The blue sky always brings me back to being a kid waiting for the sun to come out after the rain to have some good times outdoors with my cousin. It was one of my best childhood memories. I appreciate how mother nature pulls out the deepest desire in our hearts that nothing else ever could.
3. Self concentrate
As you might read somewhere on the Internet, you need to put all the focus on yourself as that's who you come home to at the end of the day. In fact, the progress of pulling concentration in this world full of distraction, however, is way harder than the concept might sound. My recommendation is meditation and practicing mindfulness. I did not think it was a thing until recently. It will be a whole day to talk about this point, so let me share it as a separate topic later.
My life was a huge mess 3 years ago, which I was in need of organizing. I, therefore, chose my most private space to start with, my head! To structurize thousands of hovering thoughts, I wrote all down and categorized them as detailed as I could. Not surprisingly, the largest category fell into my mental health concern, "why was I sad all the time?".
Inspired by a celebrity that once said "Put a smile on your face until you smile", my assumption was that if I could find an obvious act/ subject/ people/... to "clue" to "happiness" in my head, I would be happy again. I chose a tangible thing, milk tea, or merely the word "milk tea" due to my love for the drink to clue it to my happiness. Simply put, I taught myself that "milk tea" meant happiness. Subsequently, my head truly sent signals of happiness whenever I took a sip or heard the word "milk tea".
Recently I learned about this method, which was called positive visualization, which means imagining something in our mind as if it is happening. Part of us knows that it isn’t really happening, but significant parts of our brain can’t tell the difference between something that we are just imagining, and something that is actually happening, and we can use that to our advantage.
After a long journey, I believe that it all comes from within me. If you are just like me then, it is now the right time to dive deep into your mind to get what you want and take action.