Social Media Sobriety

Today I found myself getting caught up in Facebook posts for almost an hour, which made me think of all of the time we must waste on social media. There are people in this world with the most creative minds and talents, yet social media has become such a distraction, they spend more time online than they do working on their craft or taking advantage of the opportunities. This very post is an example of putting off writing to waste non-value-add time looking through social media. For what? I did not find out anything interesting, nor did it advance my writing craft in any way. This post could have been completed 30 minutes ago if I had not been distracted by others’ photos, videos and posts. What a shame.

What makes social media so addicting? Sadly, it is mostly because it is mindless and gratifying activity. It is easy to do and results in high reward, often. We are thrilled to get new comments, likes and attention on our profile, and to do it, all we have to do is post a picture and a moderately-clever caption. It makes us feel like people like us! There are not many other things in life we can say has high reward and low effort or risk. Usually, high rewards come with a high investment of time, money and energy.

Conversely, we can be putting some energy into a skill we have a passionate for and EARN a return, not be handed one. Doesn’t that sounds more gratifying? …… I know, sounds tiring.

It has been proven that when we receive a notification or like on social media, it releases endorphins to our brains to make us feel good. This feel-good feeling is addicting, similar to that of a drug. We are a generation of social media-addictions and it is an epidemic. For myself, I went on a months-long hiatus of abstaining from social media. I literally feel like I was telling people about my lengthy sobriety journey when I would talk about it.

Recently, in joining the field of real estate, heavily set in social media, so I have been back on it. Ideally, social media is supposed to be a good resource for getting leads, networking, etc. but I have found it has broken my social media-sobriety (we will call it), making it more difficult not to get caught up in its antics.

Breaking the social media habit can only lead to us being more productive and more present in our world. I am going back to my social-media sobriety journey starting today. I encourage you to do the same! Let’s kick this habit and start doing the things worth spending that time on!

Where Brooklyn At?!

BK

As I raced toward the subway station area, occasionally glancing up from my Google Maps, my attention was grasp by a site wondering in my right-side peripheral. It was the Brooklyn Bridge! All of the times I have visited this part of the city and I had never realized how near the bridge was! I pivoted instinctually and gazed at the two sturdy arches stoically standing in the distance. From where I was standing, I predicted it would only be about a 5 minute walk to the bridge. I must take advantage of this opportunity!

My right foot ventured toward the bridge but shortly froze as I realized I might be late for my networking event uptown. I quickly contemplated the opportunity cost for being late to this networking event versus potentially never having the opportunity to walk on the Brooklyn Bridge ever again in my life.

Well, when you put things in this perspective, the response to myself was, in the words of the great Biggie Smalls, “WHERE BROOKLYN AT?!”

Off I went!

With a backpack loaded with my two journals, agenda, computer, peanut butter sandwiches and my rain jacket, I maneuvered through fellow tourists shopping for trinkets and bikers angrily yelling at pedestrians in the designated bike lane. I was determined to reach those two beautiful stone arches and make it to my networking event on time!

My feet began to swell and the thought of turning around lurked as the time neared the start-time of the event uptown. The bridge was much further than it had seemed when looking from the street. Still, determined not to miss out on this brief adventure, I continued, and took in the sights of the entire city in the process. Onward had been Brooklyn, while the sites behind me consisted of the World Trade Center building and the full eastern coast-line of Manhattan. It was gorgeous. I would not have given up this travel for the world.

I finally reached the arches, touched the stone and read the displayed plaque, which narrated the history of the Brooklyn Bridge and its creator, John Roebling. I took in the sites one last time before beginning my trek back to the subway to get to the networking event.

When I finally arrive at the event, I was only 10 minutes late and the presentation had not even started! I thought of all I would have missed out on if I got too caught up in worry about not making it to an event that did not even start on-time. I knew this might have been the only time I would go to the Brooklyn Bridge, potentially, and if I did not go then, I may never go.

We do not know what tomorrow brings, so think about what CAN be saved for tomorrow and what MUST be done today. Enjoy!

An Introverted Advantage

Though I have been trying not to hard-define myself as such, I am an “introvert” by nature. What I mean by this is to not allow for “introvert” to be my identity and put me in a box to make me fearful of opportunities I may perceive to exclusively be for “extroverts.” It goes back to the post about “Introverted Networking” (posted 3.23.18). It had been too scary and too out-of-character for me to attend these meetings, I believed, making every reason for why I do not belong there and should not go.

The typical characteristics of an introvert are shy, quiet and uncomfortable around people or crowded settings. Others possessive of these traits are often most comfortable alone or with limited human interaction. Networking events, being the exact opposite of this setting, are deemed to be inherently for extroverts. This is by no means an argument to say organizers of networking events should make gatherings smaller, quieter, or with less social interaction to make the introverted feel comfortable… NEVER! On the other hand, it is rather to say it is the responsibility of the introverted to transform this fear into an opportunity to grow outside their comfort zone.

This is what I will call the introverted advantage. For the extroverted people, who are often more confident in loud, talkative settings, these events might be no big deal. They are comfortable and might even thrive in an environment where they are expected to talk to strangers. However, this lack of discomfort does not allow for them to benefit from a networking event in the way it would an introvert. Perhaps an extrovert’s “uncomfortable” setting is a place where they have to be quiet, alone and isolated from others! Being in this place would, conversely, challenge them to be outside out their comfort zone. For the record, I speak of only the introverted advantage because this is all I personally know. I do not think I am equip to speak for the extroverted advantage, for example, so extroverts comment below! Let me know!

Back to the introverted advantage… As I see it from my experience, there are often more times we will be stuck in uncomfortable conversations, attend awkward parties and have to speak in group settings in a work environment, than there will be opportunities to be alone. For this reason, I find the organic functions of the day-to-day have more opportunities for the introverted to grow! All my life I simply wished I was more outgoing, beating myself up for being awkward in social situations. I was unable to see these events as opportunities, and instead, they were burdens. I can now see that my nature is more of an advantage than a disadvantage. If we are not challenging our own comfort, we are not changing. Once again, I do not encourage anyone to define themselves and label themselves as an introvert or extrovert, morning person or night person, shy or outgoing too rigidly due to the opportunity cost which may come with the inability to recognize discomfort as a chance to grow. On the other hand, let us search for these opportunities to be uncomfortable and get outside our comfort zone.

Giving Perspective to Our Suffering

Upon reading the Art of Happiness, there have been many points of enlightenment I have been able to take away and apply to my own life. Yesterday, I did not experience a very positive day at work and overall. I found myself ranting about some people who I feel had wronged me, being stuck in situations I can ultimately change, etc. In the moment, I was not so aware of these trivial “sufferings” I allowed to shift the energy of my day until I transitioned perspective. There is an idea in the book, the name of the meditation escapes me now, but it is essentially an exercise to visualize the sufferings of another person. Perhaps this is someone without a home, plagued with a terminal illness, or abused by the society in which they live. The Dali Lama encourages us to visualize and feel the suffering of these people in order to give perspective to your own suffering.

My visualization had specifically been that of a young girl living in a third-world country. She lives in, not a home, but a tent without running water or plumbing, having no access to professional opportunity for herself, or even in the least, sanitary working conditions. This visualization made me feel shamed and ungrateful for the life I live and the woes of this day which had irked me. To make a trade in my suffering for hers, would I yearn for what I deem my current “suffering?!” Of course. In fact, this young girl probably wishes she had the problems I had. I live in a safe community and sanitary conditions, in the least. I have a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, an education and job to allow me to be finically well and able.

Ultimately, I found this practice to be beneficial today, specifically, to begin a new day on a more positive and reflective note. Where is that girl right now, I wonder? Is she sitting comfortably at a desk job, writing a blog post she has time to peacefully write, garbed in clean and sleek clothing? I doubt it.

So, whatever may bother you today, meditate on the sufferings of another bring perspective to our own lives.

Question: If You Were To Invite Three People to Dinner Who Would They Be? – Alive or Dead

Upon recent conversation with my significant other, we had discussed the three people (alive or dead) we would want to invite over as a dinner guest. I’m sure throughout life these choices have changed and will change, as if it were a lifetime- long game of musical chairs. Currently, off the top of my head, at this time of in life, I have selected—Barbara Corcoran, Brene Brown, and Oprah (though, originally chose Tupac Shakur for somewhat similar reason).

Although it seems like a strange pairing of people, I feel each of them add a unique perspective given their life work and experiences.

Barbara Corcoran is a notable real estate businesswomen and investor on the popularized show, Shark Tank. My own real estate interest aside, Barbara Corcoran’s mindset, creativity and street-smarts is what is most admirable. Her success story tells a tale of a fellow Jersey girl from modest beginnings rise above challenge and build a real estate empire through her creative wits and lessons from her mother. This crediting to her mother has been especially interesting, paralleling the manner in which her mother raised Barbara and her 10 siblings with her own future business achievements. One story in Barbara’s memoir, Shark Tales, which stood out to me had been her mother’s ability to single-handedly get all of her children washed and clothed in assembly-line fashion. The efficiency of her parenting presented the impression that being a parent was her business and she treated it as so. Furthermore, as someone whose mother is also a great motivator in my life, I take to this accrediting on a sentimental note as well.

One Question to Ask: Being someone who is very much an action-taker, what would be your advice to someone who is alternatively learning and preparing for action but is struggling to make the leap? What can they do to begin closing that gap between learning and taking action?

 

Brene Brown is an American research psychologist and story-teller. I am a newer follower of Brene Brown, having listened to my first book of hers, The Power of Vulnerability, a few months ago, but have followed her work quite diligently thereafter. Brown’s psychology focus is in that of shame and vulnerability. Such topics are definitely a hard listen, but Brown makes light of much of these topics through her own personal stories and kind-hearted nature in her delivery. It is important to have Brene Brown at the dinner table because of how much of an impact her work has had on truly becoming more comfortable with myself, my past and my relationships. Her work has allowed me to forgive myself for not being perfect and, conversely, and somewhat ironically, soak into the opportunities that come with imperfection. Her good-natured delivery has allowed me to laugh off things that have brought me worry and feel more normal in feeling a certain way by exposing the folly of us human beings in believing it’s “just me” or “I’m the only one” feeling this way. It’s not just us.

One Question to Ask: What do you do when you feel you are taking something too seriously?

 

Oprah is an American journalist, media-mogul, businesswomen and motivator. In reflecting on why I would want Oprah to be at my dinner table, I think back to the book report I did on her in the 5th grade. It shook me. The trauma and tragedy Oprah had endured herself at a similar age was something I could barely read about and she had to experience it. Through all of the abuse and loss she experienced as a child, she grew up to now be one of the most influential and wealthy women of our time. What she was able to achieve in her life, never discouraged by her failures, is a testament to her mental strength. Furthermore, I have always been fascinated by the way Oprah conduct an interview, from the linguistic quality of the questions she asks to her genuine engagement with her guests. As a writing creative myself, it is interesting to dissect the reasons behind the pairing of words, and how Oprah has been a master of this to intentionally prompt her guests to share intimate experiences. This is a masterful craft, not a skill that can be executed by just anyone. Oprah has made such word-play her expertise, just as a musical artist does so similarly to prompt listeners’ emotions.

One Question to Ask: How can we ask better quality questions to enhance our connections with one another?

 

Ask yourself this question! Who would you invite

Embracing “Fluidity” and Feeling Connection

I’m not sure others share in this experience, but there are many times I have interactions with people and cannot help but observe them—the way they talk, listen and present their ideas. These intriguing people are who I can only best describe as having a sense of “fluidity” in the way they are. Some characteristics of people with this “fluidity” are open, attentive, curious, shameless, spontaneous, and non-judgmental, to name a few that come to mind. I observe these individuals from the perspective of a student, yearning to adapt this more fluid way of being in my everyday interactions.

All of us, myself included, can be guilty of having our minds drift during conversation with a colleague, worry about a friendship or family matter in the middle of an experience that should be wonderful, truly not listening to someone who is close to you because we are distracted, ashamed to voice a more raw version of an opinion because we feel humiliated in its potential inappropriateness…

These sort of actions are indicative of not living our life with fluidity, something that seems to come so naturally for some and not for others. I have learned overtime that much of this hindrance comes from insecurity and shame.

Insecurity and shame are the feelings that have us retract from our real and natural self to adapt to environments and social circles in fear of turning others off or not fitting in. On the other hand, people who present themselves in this fluid way appear, conversely, to be secure and shameless, free of worry or care for the thoughts and opinions of others. As a result, they often seem to experience connection more easily. Now, whether or not that is true of them, I am not sure, but the more I am exposed to people I at least perceive to be this way, the more I am inspired to work on letting go of my shame and insecurities to live a more fluid life, regardless.

The one thing that does give me hope that the fluidity in these individuals is genuine, is the look in their eyes. I don’t know exactly how to explain it but the look in their eye is that of a portal, as if I can see right through their pupil with no wall blocking our connection. All of us are guilty of unconsciously stunting connection at times with small actions such as holding back texts you want to send, letting the mind adrift during conversation or responding with what your audience wants to hear rather than your own opinion in an effort to feel more accepted. Ironically, acting in this less-fluid manner has us feel less connected, more insecure, more self-conscious, and in turn… Still not feeling accepted.

I encourage us all to embrace the actions of the “fluid” by truly listening to one another, be genuinely curious of one another, act on intuition, say what you want to say when you want to say it, don’t hold back opinions and be more courageous to disagree (one I personally must work on the most). We are only forced to be ourselves this way and we have no choice but to prompt more connection.

Can Any Form of Focus Be Considered Meditation?

As I lobbed the hackie sack back and forth between each hand, I felt focused. I had been focused on having the hackie sack land into each hand to ensure it did not drop. During this time people have been passing and conversations had been occurring in the distance, but I did not see or hear anything. All I saw was the focus of the ball and my two hands as if my eyes were a camera adjusting the aperture for a clear focus on the hackie sack and blurring the background imagery. My focus was not on time, for it was not on anything but the present moment.

After the conclusion of this brief 3-5 minute focus (some might call it a distraction. To each their own), I realize the feeling in my head and the focus that it ensued was no different than the feeling of focus traditional meditation provides. Meditation encourages all of us to recognize the present, for our minds not to wander. People may paint a generalized image of meditation of one sitting in a quiet room, legs crossed, and eyes closed as waterfall sounds play in the background. This is a perspection of traditional mediation practice of focus on the breath and single-focus.

So, am I suggesting this time of play, throwing a hackie sack diligently from palm to palm could be considered a form of meditation? Yes, I am.

I then began to think of all of the moments in my life when I have felt a similar focus. What I had concluded were moments when I am working out, studying, reading, or writing. The similarities between these activities is the discipline to have a single-focus. Most of the time, when we are truly engaged in such tasks, we do not notice time or distractions. When we are focusing on one current task, our mind IS single focused and is not wandering. We are present.

I often hear of people struggling to maintain the discipline of meditation (myself included), and I think this revelation for myself, at least, has relieved the pressure to find time to practice a 10 minute breathing exercise, and rather encourage me to find an opportunity to meditate in many different ways in my everyday life. By recognizing new forms of meditation, perhaps we can all do a better job in taking advantage of opportunities to be present.

So,

Indulge in that new book you bought

Write a blog post to share with your audience

Free write in your journal

Let’s get creative about meditation and find new ways to engross ourselves in the moment.