Trust and Control

I think that there is a link between trust and control. I think control is often used as a stress response to fear of uncertainty and distrust towards the world. That said, some people seem to respond with apathy, they emotionally hide under a rock. There are also people who seem to get obsessed with self-control and others who seem to get obsessed with controlling the external world.

I think there is a difference between acting with intention and controlling out of fear. People that act with intention have less attachment to the result, they focus more on the process and have more trust with the world. People that are acting with intention are more open to opportunity and changing their plan of action. When we are simply acting with intention we are more adaptable and less forceful. People who act with intention, but don’t control out of fear remain much more collected and are mindful of the purpose of their actions. They remain calm and collected when unexpected situations arise and are able to respond rationally.

People who are controlling out of fear seem to be more attached to a specific outcome and a specific way of doing things. When we control out of fear we get tunnel visioned and can’t handle things not going as we planned. When we control out of fear we have a harder time accepting the world as is and when things don’t go as expected. We stress over things we cannot change and that are out of our hands. People who control out of fear seem to respond to much more stress when presented with ideas that conflict with their perception of reality aka belief system. I think a lot of people who pointlessly micromanage are controlling out of fear. People who control out of fear respond to stress by over-gripping.

Let’s apply this to dieting as an example. When I act with intention, I will eat a healthy balanced diet and trust that will work out well. I am mindful of calories, but I won’t hyperventilate about going 100 calories over my daily average. When I control my diet out of fear, I become more dogmatic about my diet. I become obsessed with calories. I feel the need to repent for my sins (i.e. overcompensate) if I decide to live a little. I am more obnoxious when eating out and am looking up the nutrition facts about menu items rather than just ordering what seems delicious and nutritionally reasonable. When I eat with intention, I am controlling my diet. When I control my diet in response to stress, I overanalyze my food and micromanage my diet. I also get more obnoxious about not allowing unhealthy foods into the kitchen because I do not trust myself. I get into the habit of the binge/ micromanage cycle of dieting and the harder I try to grip, the more I feel as though I am about to slip. I may also overcompensate my lack of control in other areas of my life by micromanaging my diet. An extreme example of controlling your diet out of fear is orthorexia.

This can also happen in exercise. People overwork their bodies out of fear to the point where they are at risk for injuries such as stress fractures. They do it out of fear of not being good enough, pretty enough, etc.They do it because they fear that if they don’t, they will get fat.  They get stressed if they haven’t worked out for a couple of days and may overcompensate by working out more extensively upon return. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of marathon runners and bodybuilders are like this. This may be coupled with being obsessive about their diet, but it may not be. Personally, I have never overworked myself through exercise… getting off the couch and out of my head is enough of a miracle.

This idea also shows itself throughout the irrational freak outs we or people we know have. Consider that person who has a panic attack when somebody is running 5 minutes late to something where the purpose is to have fun, or that person who is a clean freak way past the point of being objectively beneficial. These are all examples of distrust of the world and trying to control everything and plan out how everything will go to cope with it. It is shown with parents who put their normal healthy child on a leash (both figuratively and literally) and never gives their kid a chance to just figure things out on their own. While the intentions may be loving, there is an underlying irrational fear their love is being controlled by. We do this when we try to force our own beliefs and opinions on other people as well. It is one thing to debate, discuss and share our ideas, it is another thing entirely to shove it down peoples throat and want them to agree or die (religious wars being the most extreme examples). And when one person ignites the stress response, there is a good chance others will catch their stress cooties.

I think the best way to end pointless and even destructive control is by saying “fuck it” a bit more often. “Fuck it ” represents trusting yourself and trusting the universe. It is about trusting and focusing on the process rather than being blindingly results driven. It is about embracing uncertainty and not forcing the world into an arbitrary micromanaged box to protect ourselves. Being able to say “fuck it” and have trust is the ultimate form of freedom and is necessary for being a balanced person.

Are you just eating because you’re bored?

The Grinch

The Grinch

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t recreationally eat from time to time? Eating is fun. Food is awesome and very few things in this world can provide that kind of instant pleasure. However, if we aren’t careful things can get out of hand. Telling you not to eat when you are bored would be unreasonable. But here are some ways to get a handle on your boredom.

Do something less boring: If you have the option, go do something else. Learn something new. Workout. Play an instrument. Try to make something you found on Pinterest. Plot to take over the world. Is eating really the best you could come up with?

Take a break: If you find yourself getting bored while studying/ working, take a break. Go take a brief walk or grab a drink of water. Change your scenery for a bit. Phone a friend. Space out and entertain the endless possibilities of Lala Land. You will be more focused and work better when you return. *If you are on your computer, doing something else on your computer doesn’t count.

Drink Tea: Tea has little to no calories, is healthy, has a variety of flavors and will often give you a similar satisfaction to eating when bored. Try having a cup of tea before you go for that bag of chips.

Chew gum: It’s like eating without actually eating.

Snack on Veggies: My favorites for snacking are bell peppers, baby carrots and celery.

Snack on something that requires effort: A great example of this would be pistachios. Pistachios are one of the most tedious things to snack on. It takes 5 minutes just to crack open a single shell.This makes them the perfect food for boredom eating because you can’t just mindlessly shove a handful in your face every 10 seconds.

Eating something that has a lot of volume for not too many calories: A good example would be popcorn. It is whole grain and has 130 calories per cup.



Healthy Eating on a Budget

Food costs money and eating healthy can be expensive. There are many factors that contribute to this, some examples being the distribution of agricultural subsidies and that processed foods typically have a longer shelf life. That said, disease and healthcare also cost money and eating a healthy diet is a key factor in preventing a variety of chronic illnesses. Money aside, a healthy diet makes you feel great and real food tastes better (in my opinion). Unfortunately, you are going to have to pay if you want to meet your biological needs, so here are some tips to spending less in doing so.

Take Advantage of Sales: Buy the healthy items you see on sale. This is especially useful with foods that have longer shelf lives or are freezable.  For example, if you see chicken breast on sale, buy extra and freeze it. Why buy the same exact product for $5 when you can buy it for $3?

Buy in Bulk: Buying things in individual or smaller servings costs more relative to the amount of food you get. As long as you aren’t buying so much that it goes to waste, get the larger size.

Buy Frozen: Frozen fruits and vegetables typically cost less than their fresh counterparts (especially when out of season). While fresh produce is great, it also can get expensive. Try out frozen fruits for your next smoothie or heat up some frozen veggies for your meal rather than making a fresh salad.

Buy Generic Food: This is especially the case when it comes to basic foods like milk, eggs, rice and pasta. I only buy name brands when there is a significant nutritional difference or there is a significant improvement in flavor.

Check out Farmers Markets: Sometimes farmers markets can be expensive, but other times you find great deals. Buying local is great for sustainability. They can also make a fun activity when the weather is nice. You can find farmer’s markets near you here. Buying local may not always cost less for your wallet, but it will almost always cost less for the planet.

Buy in Season: Buying foods in their season is cheaper and more sustainable. To find when foods are cheapest, go here.

Prepare and Cook Your Own Food: Eating out gives you less control over your food, adds a cost for the service as well as the cost for profit. Pre-cooked or prepared foods cost more in the grocery store as well.

Drink Tap Water: Buying bottled water is probably one of the worst financial decisions you can make. Not to mention, it encourages the idea of privatizing water. Always have water on hand so you don’t have to buy a bottle from a store when you are out and about. If you want to filter your tap water (not that it is necessary), try out Brita or a number of other water filters.

Find Inexpensive Healthy Foods: Beans are a great example of inexpensive nutritional foods. You can buy them canned (get low sodium) or dried. Lentils are my favorite because they are quick and easy to make. Eggs are another relatively cheap food that can be prepared in a variety of ways.

Grow Your Own Food: Gardening is a very useful skill to have. You can control everything from seed to table. It can be a fun and rewarding hobby. Not to mention, it will earn you major Pinterest points. You don’t even need a yard to garden (although it will provide more options). Sprouts and herbs are a great place to start if you don’t have much experience or have limited space. You can also rent garden spaces in a lot of cities. For tips on gardening without much space, go here.

Eating a healthy diet will probably cost more money than eating an unhealthy diet. But it also saves money in healthcare costs. You will probably need less prescription drugs and trips to the doctor in the future, not to mention lowering the risk of various types of cancers. You will be more energetic, stronger and happier. Feeling better and being healthier may even improve your work performance, giving you better chances of promotion which would increase your budget. If you are worried about the financial cost, look at where the rest of your extra spending is going and see if you can cut back elsewhere.

Honesty and Authenticity

“Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering” – Carl Jung

Have you ever been asked how something was going and you responded with “good”? Have you ever felt that they seemed to magically interpret good as meaning something other than good? Last I checked, good means good. And even if it didn’t, why should someone be seemingly dissatisfied by how you feel things are? What are they, the feelings police?

I think this ties into the robot barbie mentality that seems to resonate in our culture. I think part of this may be because of the excessive amounts of sugar-coating, sweeping problems under the carpet and conflict avoidance that goes on between people. It has come to the point where basically anything that isn’t filled with rainbows and Care Bears is a potential trigger for anxiety. It is like you have to walk on egg shells and dodge around the truth like an obstacle course built for the Avengers simply to avoid offending people by stating facts, observations and opinions based on them. That said, I also have a tendency to come across as a bit blunt, so it is partially a matter of perspective.

I think that the ripple effect of the social pressure to always fake pleasantries and cheerfulness can be destructive. I think it compels people to put a mask on and pretend to be someone they are not. I think it can more greatly alienate people when they aren’t in the best place and can create a stigmatization and sense of shame around that. This is a concern when an estimated 1 in 4 American adults have a diagnosable mental disorder. This doesn’t even include unhealthy mindsets the DSM doesn’t recognize. Maybe if people felt safe being themselves, we wouldn’t have such an alarming rate of mental illness.

I’m not saying we should take being “honest” as an excuse to be a jerk. I’m also not saying we shouldn’t get offended by things we find offensive. I just think a little bit of authenticity and acceptance could go a long way. Don’t tell people their subjective viewpoint is wrong. It doesn’t make sense to objectify and create rules around things that are subjective in nature. The facts are objective, but their personal meaning is not. Maybe we should try to understand rather than judge every once in a while and see what happens. I highly doubt it would create more discord than harmony.

Perfect is Boring

There are countless articles, books and other forms of advice on how to improve yourself. They give you these set of rules on how to live your life to be what they consider a better person. They share their secrets to success in careers, health, relationships and more. They tell you to do this and do that. Some even tell you which people to allow into your life and which ones you should throw out like human garbage. But there is a bit of an undertone in this advice of “you aren’t good enough” or “you need to be fixed”. While like many people, I want to be the best version of myself… I’ve also come to realize the absurdity and self-absorption of it all (sometimes I forget). I think accepting some of these little so-called flaws and quirks are key to really being human.

So many aspects of our life revolve around judging. We judge others. Other people judge us. We adapt our behaviors and goals accordingly. We determine our self-worth and the worth of others based on our ability to adapt ourselves in alignment with those judgements. While judgements have a value, sometimes I think we are excessively influenced by them. What if we learned out of curiosity rather than because we feel obligated to get better grades? What if we chose our romantic relationships based on love rather than”practical” reasons? What if we didn’t give a shit about the conventional definition of success and did what we really wanted instead? I don’t think it would make society fall apart, I think it would make things more balanced.

If we keep looking at people through a lens of how they are “good/bad”, how can we expect to actually connect with them? How can we expect to have genuine relationships with people if we are constantly trying to assess if they are “good enough” and are constantly distracting ourselves in some way or another with those judgments? It is one thing to acknowledge the characteristics of a person and consider what that means, but I think in excess they can distract us from truly connecting with them. I think this may play a role in a deficiency of true compassion for both ourselves and others.

I think the only way we would be completely flawless in everyone’s eyes was if everybody didn’t give a shit about anything at all. Collective apathy doesn’t sound very appealing to me.

Flaws are beautiful. They are what make us human beings and not human fucking robot barbies.