Dump Trump’s trans ban

Hello hello,

Sorry to subscribers for double-posting today, but I could not have foreseen something as colossally fucked-up as Donald Trump taking to Twitter to ban trans people from the US military this morning.

If you are as angry as I am, please consider making a donation of your time or money to The National Center for Transgender Equality.

Thank you, and on behalf of queer people and our allies everywhere:

FUCK. DONALD. TRUMP.

Rainbows go all the way around

I saw this at work today and I got a little teary. It’s not a great time for me, but you never know what can help. (That’s kind of why I run this website.)

Be good to one another and yourselves.

Bedrock

Hello hello and happy Tuesday!

I was thinking earlier today about something I had learned about mountains recently. All over the world, there seems to be an upper height limit on mountains that doesn’t seem to apply to the Himalayas, which are home to ten of the world’s fourteen 8000+-ft peaks.

Scientists aren’t quite sure why mountains here and the nearby Karakoram range are able to be taller than other mountains around the world, but it is theorized that the bedrock they are on is just unusually strong, enabling it to support larger mountains than other ground across the world can.

Do you ever find yourself looking around at other people and wondering why they can hack it so easily? How they seem to slice through life like butter, all the while with grace and charm? Do you ever just a little bit hate their faces?

Why can other people be Everest when you feel like a hillock most days? Shouldn’t you be able to bear the weight? We might all be mountains, but that doesn’t mean we have equal support structures.

Comparing ourself to others is one of the worst and unfortunately most natural things we can do. You can’t possibly know everything that brought a person to where they are, anymore than you can really understand how they feel about it. You can’t really know another person’s resources or challenges, what they’ve faced and what help they’ve had.

Consider comparing your life to the life of someone with a great deal of unfair advantage. Or indeed, consider comparing yourself to someone who never seems to complain no matter what befalls them. Do you feel sad? Helpless? Do you feel bereft of an explanation you deserve?

Instead of wondering why we can’t or don’t have the things that other people have, we should consider how they came by them. Instead of envying, we can query. How did you come by this?

If there are things we can take from this, then we should. But what we might ultimately take away is that that person’s fundamentally different life has made them a fundamentally different person, and wondering why we’re not that person is just stopping us from being ourselves.

Consider one more mountain: Olympus Mons on Mars is the biggest mountain among the planets and other rounded bodies of our solar system, clocking in at a height of 13.6 mi or 72,000 ft (!), two and half times the height of Everest, and with a base that would cover most of the country of France.

Despite its staggering dimensions, it would be possible to traverse and summit Olympus Mons and barely notice because its grade is so slight. Sure, eventually you’ll be nearly 14 miles above the surrounding surface, but you’d never have to climb a vertical rock face or…well, really do anything other than walk normally. Even a small child (in a spacesuit) could climb the tallest mountain in the solar system with ease, while experienced climbers still face harrowing difficulty on much smaller mountains back on Earth.

Both Mt. Wycheproof (486 ft) and Mt. Everest have gone through what they’ve gone through to become the mountains they’ve become, and neither could be the other. Don’t hate others for what they have, and don’t hate yourself for what you don’t. Invisible forces will continue to shape us all, but the one thing you can’t be is someone else.

Commit to yourself

Hello hello and happy Monday!

I appreciate the irony of the title of this piece given the name of this website, but here goes anyway.

I’ve talked here about the forgiveness and patience we need to have for ourselves when our efforts at self-improvement don’t go according to what are normally completely unrealistic schedules.

The flip side of this I’ve been meaning to get around to for a while (and for which I now forgive myself for the delay on haha) is that real change takes commitment. It means finding things that still seem meaningful to you even after they let you down the first time, or the first time you fail to follow through.

Things they don’t tell you or don’t tell you enough in self-improvement: you are going to fail. Your new outlook on the world is going to go out the window the first and third and fiftieth times you face an old trigger. You will wonder what the point of any of this is.

I think it’s safe to say that Buddhist monks are just about the non plus ultra of self-improvement, at least in the contemporary West. But we’re not looking for the years of commitment. We’re looking for the easily translatable technique that will distill a religious tradition and a lifetime of devotion into a TED talk, scrolling past which on Facebook is supposed to change our lives forever.

In another piece I discussed finally being struck one day by the fact that it even took the Buddha 7 years of doing literally nothing else to reach enlightenment, and that’s how I finally understood I needed to forgive myself for not being instantly transformed by whatever meditation technique I had read about that day.

But also…think of what 7 years of anything could get you. 7 years of playing an instrument or speaking a language or not constantly eroding your own self-esteem by judging yourself for your lack of growth.

You can make a different kind of commitment when you understand that you don’t have a performance review tomorrow. Or next week. Or next year. Despite all the Instagram tags we follow, it’s not now or never, and you are not doomed if you’re not crushing it.

The things we believe have to be big enough to let us down, and we have to be big enough to be let down by them. Most of all we have to be big enough to be let down by ourselves. I’m not here to tell anyone what to believe, but if your belief system isn’t big or bold enough to account for a bad day or even a bad five minutes, you’ve trapped yourself inside a new anxiety. You cannot be so good at meditation that your life will actually become perfect. Here, let me say that again:

You cannot be so good at meditation that your life will actually become perfect.

Most people for most of their lives will experience challenges and they will also have reactions to those challenges. Finding it inside to try again is how you stop the cure from being worse than the symptom.

Don’t buy into ideas that say they’ll cure your anxiety or depression today, tomorrow or next week. They will use your guilt and sadness about them not working against you.

Instead, do those things that slowly, day by day, erode the rock of what is hurting you. And then do more of them. Make good habits, including the habit of seeing tomorrow as another day not to have bad habits. Anxiety is a habit that becomes a disease. Disrupt the habit. 

You have probably spent most of your life up until now building the habits that make up your anxiety, depression or other illness, so you have no reason to expect an instant turnabout. Your old school friend is wrong, and so is that guru: you can’t just stop being anxious or depressed. But you can make every second a chance to change course.

TLDR: Long-term commitment to yourself is worth it. Identify the things that make you feel better without also asking you to feel bad about yourself and then make habits of them. Everything else is clutter that isn’t really contributing to your growth.

On hate

Happy Tuesday!

I haven’t had much time to write lately, but I wanted to leave you today with a thought I’ve been chewing on lately:

My ability to hate myself is intimately tied with my ability to hate others. Whichever one I’m working on at the moment, I find that levels of the other unexpectedly decrease, too. And that, conversely, whichever one is weighing me down can lead into worsening the other.

TLDR: breaking down hate is a multiplicative process that starts with you.

Cool Tool Spotlight: How Big Is Space?

Hello hello and happy Friday!

I wanted to close out the week by putting the spotlight on another of my favorite tools from our Someplace Awesome menu – a guided tour of space called How Big Is Space?

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This cool offering from the BBC lets users scroll a spaceship through the universe, keeping track of your trajectory at warp 1 and pointing out milestones in distance traveled. It’s just the bee’s knees! The space bee’s knees!

We hope you’ll head on over to the homepage and check out this and other cool sites from our Someplace Awesome tab, designed to be a one click shop to somewhere that helps you remember how great things are. If you have any suggestions for links, drop them in the comments, or you can head on over to the Contact/Submit page, where you can submit any content or ideas for future posts on I Won’t Commit.

Hope you have a great day!

Off-brand

Happy Mindful Monday to you!

This week I want to get real about “branding” and self-help culture. Do we all need to have a brand? And could we stand to be a little more critical about what it means to become the commodity?

I watched The Secret the other day. Yeah, I admit it. I’m the kind of person who would at least watch The Secret. Research.

*cough*

Anyway, I’m a big enough person to admit to you that there is a certain sexy allure in the idea that you can visualize your way to independent wealth, and that you are the only obstacle standing in your way.

And if it helps people get over the barriers they really are creating for themselves in life, then by all means, I’m for it.

But far from pushing me into my most alpha mindset or whatever, The Secret helped me see what kind of self-help I don’t want to self-administer anymore.

I do not believe every individual was sent to this Earth to succeed in post-industrial capitalist society.

I do not accept that happiness is at the other end of a guided meditation to help me uncover my one true app concept.

I do not even accept that the meaning of life is escaping existential insecurity. Yes, I want to escape existential insecurity, but I don’t think it’s what I’m here to do.

I think entrepreneurship is super-awesome. I also think selling everyone on the idea of entrepreneurship is how the self-help industry creates obsessed lifelong devotees.

It is not possible or reasonable that every person is intended to helm a successful organization of their own creation. For one thing, who is going to be the employees?

But this is what I really want to stress here: 1) being the boss is not an escape from capitalist reality; and 2) this ideology is based on the notion that capitalism is a moral necessity. 

In its present iteration, secular prosperity theology posits that the best we can aspire to is becoming the product. You get the Instagram likes, you get the Squarespace sponsorship deal, you are what you put as your occupation.

We are in a ridiculous time that has managed to democratize fame just enough to drive millions and millions of people crazy trying to get it. The wrong thing is participating, the right thing is…creating something it would be morally wrong for other people to participate in?

It’s cool to follow a dream that makes you internet famous, just like it’s cool to follow a dream that makes you wealthy.

But becoming the product isn’t the only resolution to living in capitalist society.

I don’t have the perfect answer to a third way. But I’m not going to beat myself up anymore for not having meditated my way into being my best, most producery/consumery self. Enlightenment isn’t meant to be a symbiotic relationship between you and your curated monthly subscription services. And just because people will pay you to shout at them for not having made enough money yet doesn’t mean the essential question is the best way to make money.

Nothing is for everyone. People who are happy and thrive in the entrepreneurial world wouldn’t jive with a word I’m saying. That’s fine.

But you are not a failure because you haven’t ‘escaped the system.’ Maybe there isn’t a price on what you’re really meant to do. Maybe the thing that brings you lasting happiness can’t be monetized. Stop thinking that’s a failure! Stop limiting your human potential to your ability to generate capital!

If nothing else, ask yourself how much of your spiritual or emotional energy is invested in your material reality. How much of your interest in bettering yourself as a person corresponds with wealth accumulation? There’s nothing wrong with accumulating wealth per se, but you should be prepared to take a critical look at what part of your value system is money-based.

TLDR: it’s ok if you don’t think being the boss is the only way to transcend capitalist drudgery. And it’s really ok if the whole thing round hole, square peg thing never works itself out. The meaning of life probably has nothing to do with an exploitive human-made economic model, so you’re probably doing fine. ❤

 

A month of many heritages!

April showers bring May flowers, and May brings with it the celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage, Haitian Heritage and Jewish American Heritage Month!

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Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Website from Library of Congress

haitian heritage month

May Is Haitian Heritage Month Facebook group

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May Is Jewish American Heritage Month website

Are you celebrating this month? Let us know how in the comments!