Superficial Commitment

This post is sort of a part two of my last one.

disclaimer: I’m sure there are many sociological studies that are nicely complemented with psychological studies to explain this phenomenon. I have none of these expertise to offer, except for my own personal experience and studies.

One of my informal research method go-to’s has been YouTube. There are endless channels to choose from and join like a cult gathering. These channels range from educational to beauty to everything else in between and around. I love YouTube for this very reason. If I want something mentally stimulating, I am able to search a topic of my interest and tune in, instantly. If I need more information on how to cut men’s hair, I can easily look that up, too. One of my latest (mini) research obsessions has been skin care. As I enter into my mid-twenties, I feel that it is time to really start investing and preventing those wrinkles that kindly await me in my forties.

While procrastinating, I found that few channels talk exclusively about skincare, and instead will consist of make up and skincare, together. I am not much of a makeup wearer so naturally I don’t know much about it. As a byproduct of skincare research, I have also become more informed about makeup products. Almost overnight, I started to want to incorporate foundation, highlighter, bronzer, blush, primers, etc. into my daily routine. I have never owned any of these products, but suddenly now I needed them. This startling urge is what triggered a cascade of my thoughts on superficiality. I am pretty sure that once I start incorporating all this makeup into my life, a handful of people will really notice or even care. As a matter of fact, I am sure that if you take those handful of people in my life and make a ratio with the world’s population, it won’t even be a blimp. So why do I have an urge that is seemingly only satisfied if I make a visit to Sephora and clear out a whole section? Honestly, do we need more things to complicate our already complicated lives?

It simply goes back to those fields I’ve mentioned in my disclaimer: psychology and sociology. We as humans are extremely conforming (whether or not Western cultures sometimes like to admit). When we see people do something, it becomes a necessity. When we see a norm, we have to be a part of it. Deviating from it comes at much too high of a social cost. Another great example of this is Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast on the underhand free throw. (I highly recommend you listen to this. I guarantee it will make your brain stir for a few days.) Gladwell talks about a phenomenon of how the entire basketball world seems to shoot free throws overhand when physics proves that shooting underhand has a much higher success rate. It all comes down to our need to fit in. We don’t want to be ridiculed.

If there was one word to describe humanity, it is that we are social. Even evil dictators, operate with a squad (a conforming one at that). So next time we have sudden urges that match everyone else’s way of life, maybe we should really do even more research incorporating these conforming behaviors. What are the benefits? Is it really something we truly need? Most likely not. Instead of accepting conforming behaviors that only benefit us, maybe we can put this social conformity phenomenon of humanity into good use. Maybe we can start setting trends on kindness and generosity. Maybe we can make it “cool” to help our neighbors and love our enemies. Now that’s something worth conforming to.

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being so dang rich

What is the point of being obscenely rich? I have thought about the concept of being extremely wealthy a few times. How can you not? It’s plastered around our world in the form of Forbe’s World’s Richest People list, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donations, Jeff Bezos surpassing Bill Gates for the Richest Man on earth for half a day, etc. While many people are philanthropists, there are many billionaires that do not spread their wealth. I saw a passing statistic on the internet that said if America’s wealth was evenly distributed, every family would have $700,000 / year. I’m sure there are parts of this statistic that are exaggerated and simply untrue, but the sentiment behind this statistic really got me thinking hard: why is there such a splitting income gap in our country????

There was a brief moment in college when I believed in the ideals of communism. I didn’t label it as that, but when my ideals were broken down, that’s what it essentially came out to be. Just for a bit of background, I was born and raised in the land of democracy: the good ‘ole U.S. of A. Personally, I think my country (specifically Southern Texas, where I grew up) does a great job of making sure every child grows up thinking that communism is truest form of evil and sharing is never going to teach those lazy bums to work hard. It wasn’t until college that I began to critically think about the massive income inequality that plagues our country, yet alone the world. Oh, the injustice has such a dirty aroma, doesn’t it? I began to think in the complete opposite way of how I was raised. Why don’t we share more? Why don’t we give people more economic and financial opportunities? Why are the rich people hoarding all of their money? Who needs 3 houses anyway?

So, do you really think Jeff Bezos deserves to be worth $90 billion? Is the value of that homeless woman down the street less than his, because she has no net worth? Why should Bill Gates own practically a house on every continent when there are millions of people without homes in this world? I’m not sure actually. While I would love to praise Bill Gates and his family for donating so much of their wealth and giving back to their communities, I can’t help but also wonder why they don’t do more with their money. Like seriously, can’t you end world hunger in a sustainable fashion with a couple billion? I have reached the conclusion that money has an iron grip on our hearts as humans. We are naturally greedy people who have an extreme affinity for lavishness and comfort. We do everything we can to be as comfortable as possible. While I would love to blame the world’s problems on the billionaires of my country, we are all at fault. We are all at fault for secretly placing the love of money at the top of our priorities. We are all at fault for being greedy and selfish, billionaires just have their greed more publicized. I mean how many of us regularly buy a meal for a homeless person and really sit down to hear their story? Exactly. So whether we make billions or hundreds of thousands, we are all the same: human. Maybe instead of pointing fingers, we can encourage an environment of genuine selflessness. Maybe we will sit down to hear how they were born and raised in a less affluent neighborhood that didn’t have as many opportunities. Maybe they were taught that joining gangs is the way to success. Maybe their mom was a drug addict, and they were born with an addiction to heroin. Maybe we should be slow to judge, and quick to listen. Maybe this way we can have a genuine, deep compassion for those who don’t have as much as us. Maybe we can learn. Maybe we can change. That is my hope for my generation and those yet to come.

 

losing motivation

So why do we lose motivation? Speaking from personal experience, losing motivation seems to happen to me when I don’t reflect enough. I would consider myself to be someone who has a lot of ambition, goals, and curiosity. These traits often motivate me to accomplish my goals regardless of how hard the task at hand may become. Recently though, I’ve lost sight of reflecting periodically and have fallen into the daily routine of simply doing tasks. I think the act of doing things without intentionality can become very dangerous because it becomes mindless. When things are mindless, they also become directionless. Ultimately, I lost motivation behind why I want to accomplish what I want to accomplish. If we take the time to daily reflect bit by bit why we do what we do, I believe that motivation can be well-paced throughout the journey of struggles that often accompany the process of accomplishing a goal. When we take the time to pause from our addiction to simply do, and take a moment to think about why we are pursuing our goals, our mindset is focused on our goals. This makes the distractions around us have a harder time inching onto our path to success. I hope that as a society, a community, a person, we can strive to accomplish many goals in this manner that ultimately bring productivity and good into this world 🙂