Note: During my run 18 weeks ago, I broke my iPod Nano … again (See weeks 13 through 16). I decided to wait till this September for the latest generation of the Apple iPod to be released. That’s when I can run with music again and log the exact time, pace, and mileage of my runs.
In the past two weeks, I’ve learned that I can choose to remain aware of the inner critic without having it affect my overall wellbeing.
In fact, lending an ear to it helps me remain conscious of how much I suck compared to others, a constant reminder for me to be careful of my actions at all times.
Looks help. Money helps. But there are higher means to the end: Reality states that appearance really matter. The halo effect is widespread across all contexts of human interaction – first impressions, social situations, whether at a party or in the workplace.
Apparently, the visual cortex is so influential to the human psyche that an attractive person, almost always defined by their facial symmetry, is instantly privileged for all the finer things in life.
Fine, I can accept that. Sometimes I catch myself favoring the eye candies over the rest too.
But I cannot accept the fact that physical appearance is so important that it is all that matters to lead a fulfilling life. What’s more: The attractive person, by birth, becomes obliged to a full-time service of showing others the invisible virtues, the very things that make the naked soul beautiful. Depending on the level of attractiveness perceived by the masses, the greater the obligation he or she has to hold to lead others to the eudaimonic life, making the self growing increasingly deprived of the occasional hedonism all humans need.
I noticed these sad, confused countenances while observing most public figures I’ve met. There is a dying soul that yearns to be freed inside, yet reality rejects their humanness and expects the beauty to perform godlike behaviors.
My logic states: If what the eyeballs can see are all there is to life, what is there worth living for? After all, aging is an inevitable process. As far as I know, no one has escaped physical mortality.
I’m aware of my appearance that befits certain social circles but misfits others, and just when I thought physical appearance only matters when it comes to attracting the opposite gender, reality states so clearly in my life that it matters anytime, anywhere, particularly in its role as a money-magnet.
As far as I’m concerned, most everyone great through the history of time, from Aristotle to Maslow, and now Daniel Pink, author of bestseller Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, states that morality is the seat of human wellbeing.
Human beings are each created with minds of their own, of which their own self-limiting beliefs are the only existing boundaries that hinder them from living out their fullest potential. Not only it is morally wrong, but it’s impossible to manipulate a fellow man for the long haul, more so for those seen and labelled as attractive. True, incentivising performance has been a tried-and-true way to reward people who have achieved a mutual goal, but when we’re talking the traditional carrot-and-sticks incentive, Pink’s findings reveal a surprising truth that I believe, deep down, if we are true with our conscience, we all know.
The late billionaire hippie Steve Jobs, his wife, and four children have always lived in the modest bungalow in Palo Alto. When the Apple CEO’s biographer, Walter Isaacson, prompted the subject on their interview, Jobs illustrated what he had learned early on about what money can do to people:
I saw a lot of other people at Apple, especially after we went public, how it [money] changed them. And a lot of people thought that they had to start … being rich. So they, they would- I mean they bought Rolls Royces, they bought homes, and they, and their wives got plastic surgery and they-and I saw these people who were really nice, simple people turning into these bizzaro people! And I made a promise to myself: I’m not going to let this money ruin my life.
In Pink’s book, he argued that modern economists, psychologists, and sociologists hold the same wonder to this phenomena. For nearly the last 40 years, their research findings conclude that increasing extrinsic motivators, such as monetary rewards, positively affects the high-performers who specialize in mechanical skills, but does the opposite to those involved in cognitive skills – the skills that engages intellectual, creative thinking. This truth does not only apply in the behaviors of college students in first-world Cambridge, Massachusetts – the study was replicated in third-world Madurai, India, and the case remains the same.
In the video above, Pink probes:
Why are these people, many of whom are technically sophisticated, highly skilled people who have jobs … okay, They have jobs! They’re working at jobs for pay doing challenging- doing sophisticated, technological work. And yet, during their limited discretionary time, they do equally if not more technically sophisticated work, not for their employer, but for someone else, for free!
In the age where creativity, authenticity, and originality are highly prized, do extrinsic motivators still apply when it comes to optimizing manpower? I doubt so.
Through Pink’s analysis and the wisdom of Steve Jobs, I learned that there are, fundamentally, only three things that motivate people in the long run: Autonomy (a desire to be self-directed), mastery (the urge to get better at stuff), and purpose (the sense that what we do provides a higher meaning beyond ourselves).
One of the many quotes I came across these days from Stanley Kubrick moves me on a mental, physical, and emotional level: “The very meaninglessness of life forces a man to create his own meaning.
“Children, of course, begin life with an untarnished sense of wonder, a capacity to experience total joy at something as simple as the greenness of a leaf; but as they grow older, the awareness of death and decay begins to impinge on their consciousness and subtly erode their joie de vivre, their idealism – and their assumption of immortality.
As a child matures, he sees death and pain everywhere about him, and begins to lose faith in the ultimate goodness of man. But, if he’s reasonably strong – and lucky – he can emerge from this twilight of the soul into a rebirth of life’s elan. Both because of and in spite of his awareness of the meaninglessness of life, he can forge a fresh sense of purpose and affirmation.”
As a millennial, today’s most depressed, stuck-in-between-generations population, I found that creating good cause is far easier than advancing forward even after having learned all the pain that surrounds you.
What, then, is the best practice for the young adult to push forward against the currents of meaninglessness?
Say no to conformity, affirms status-quo fighter and self-employed adult Chris Guillebeau, and make being alive an art.
Come to think of it, there really is only one thing you can run – your own world. I thought of questions that examine who I am and my place in the outer world; what are the differing opinions I hold from the status quo, how would I accept them as they are, and what I can do to make peace with those subjectives. “He may not recapture the same pure sense of wonder he was born with, but he can shape something far more enduring and sustaining,” Kubrick went.
“The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death – however mutable man may be able to make them – our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment.
Light of the world: However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.”
LET IT ALL IN – BUT GO ALL OUT.
Always be able to give an account of yourself no matter what. You are not here to merely survive; you are here, now, present, to thrive for a purpose that only you and God alone know.
Always be aware of the things you are responsible to care for, but make sure you develop a strategy for sustainable development and prevent all the hard work you’ve done in the past to fall in vain. Progression requires accountability – that’s what Making Miles is for.
Know thy self and thy meaning