Secrecy vs. Privacy

Our society is quite backwards in terms of our behaviour. We claim we want privacy and fight for that very right, however we live in a world where modern culture allows us to expose every moment of our day through online forums and social media.

Despite these facts, humans are still quite adamant when it comes to their privacy. But at what point does privacy cross that invisible line into secrecy? What’s the difference?

Privacy is generally defined as “the state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people” or “the state of being free from public attention.” Once again, this is a bit of a misnomer, considering how the average person lives in today’s day and age.

Secrecy is defined as “the action of keeping something secret or the state of being kept secret.” In layman’s terms, secrecy requires one to keep something from others. It’s not always a bad thing, but it does require something being held back.

Privacy generally requires being left alone. Secrecy generally requires intentionally keeping something from others. The question I pose to you, dear readers, is where does the line exist and is one inherently worse than the other?

I’ve seen the above-posted meme a number of times and it always gives me a chuckle. Cell phones have become the carriers of our private lives and we tend to guard them closely. Cell phones are likely the best example that I can think of, because most people would agree that their phone is “private”, but the level of protection people use for their phones tend to suggest it errs closer on the secrecy side.

The line is extremely blurred and some would believe that one is needed in order to achieve the other. This makes sense. In order to maintain privacy, some secrecy will inherently be used and vice versa.

The problem comes when one uses that secrecy in such a way that it brings harm to others. And if privacy is used in such a way that it keeps you from the surrounding world, this can be detrimental as well. Although choice of lifestyle is ultimately each person’s individual choice, it’s important to consider those who are closest to us. ☯

The Weight of the World…

How much can be asked of one person? At what point is enough truly enough? What is the instinct that drives a person to use another without remorse? Without considering the damage that person may cause?

For well over a year now, I have been dealing with something of a personal challenge in my life. And considering everything I’ve been through in my life, I shouldn’t be surprised by challenge. Challenge, I can deal with.

I’ve built my life around the concept of justice and doing what’s right; I was raised on the belief that helping others is not only important, but paramount. When I came of age, I began seeking out a career that would allow me to help others and protect those who can’t protect themselves. And now that way of life is threatened by someone who prefers to use others to their own end rather than put in the work.

A year ago, someone who failed to pursue the same career path as my own decided to encroach upon my good nature. I have always been the type to treat others as people and be as helpful as possible. I’ve routinely gone out of my way to try and help others achieve their goals. And now this person has taken advantage of this good nature to further their own goals. This has not only been frustrating, but incredibly damaging to my career and my way of life.

Taking advantage of a situation to get ahead is nothing new in our society. Majoritively, it is difficult to get ahead in modern society without there being SOME pursuance of that very thing. but at some point, we need to ask ourselves if our advancement is worth the suffering and damage to others.

I find myself becoming exhausted. I’ve worked very hard my entire life to get to where I am. It breaks my heart to realize that all that hard work may be undone because of one selfish person. I’ve always considered myself capable of fighting through anything. And I’ve always sworn to fight for my country, fight for my family and fight for what’s right. These things are important. I simply don’t know how much I have left within me to continue when I am now fighting against the very aspects I’ve sworn to fight for.

Luckily, my family has been an endless wellspring of support. They’ve offered the strength that I’ve been sometimes lacking in recent months. If not for this support, I may have given up already. But considering my way of life and my family’s livelihood is threatened, I will continue to fight until I’ve won the day. I owe them that much. And even luckier still is to be blessed with an extended family that includes a small but loyal circle of friends who understand and support as well. You know who you are…

Be thankful for those you have in your life. We don’t always realize what we have, when dealing with the daily routine of our lives. But if they are the support that holds the foundation of your castle, even when the bricks are falling, then we are truly blessed indeed. ☯

Mind & Body, You Need Them Both!

The human body is an amazing combination of biological function, mixed with intelligence and self-awareness. I’ve often written about the importance of proper diet and exercise. But it’s also very important to pay attention to the mind.

First and foremost, I think it’s important to recognize the difference between the brain and the mind. The brain is the organ primarily responsible for the intellectual and nervous activity of the body. It controls the body’s systems in tandem with other, semi-independent systems within the body.

However, the mind is something slightly less tangible. The mind is defined as “the elements of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought.”

Who you are is more than just the 3-pound chunk of tissue inside your skull!

Who you are despite the state of your body is what is contained within the mind. I’ve had a saying I coined from my youth: “When you aren’t exercising the body, you must exercise the mind.” This is important because most people assume that as long as they exercise consistently, they’ve done what needs doing. I believe this to be false.

There are a number of things a person can do to help exercise the mind. Meditation is a great first step. Not only does it help lower blood pressure and help with overall cardiac and bodily health, but it can go a long way towards helping your mind as well. It can aid in maintain a good mental health and strengthen one’s focus and concentration.

Get more sleep, and be certain it’s GOOD sleep. Your brain works hard during the night while you sleep. In fact, some studies have shown that dreams are part of a thought consolidation that is necessary for proper mental health. This is where the belief that some folks have that you can “sleep on it” when dealing with life’s problems. If you don’t get a solid seven to nine hours of quality sleep at night, you may lose some of the benefits it can provide for your mind and mental health.

There are certain aspects of diet that can help as well, but I won’t get into those too deeply. That errs a bit deeper on the side of the physical brain health as opposed to the mind.

Stay healthy and happy. I don’t think I need to explain that thinking positive can go a long way towards strengthening who you are as a person. This isn’t always an easy task. Life is designed to challenge us (and it’s damn good at it).

Exercise your mind. There a lot of simple ways to do this. Read a book. Do a puzzle. Crosswords, sudoku, the choices are almost endless! It’s been proven that the more conversations you have with your child and the more books you read to them, the more intelligent they’ll grow to be. This concept applies to adults as well, despite having grown beyond childhood.

Continue learning. Most people let go of this as they reach adulthood, but a person’s IQ and intelligence never stops growing. Read the book you’ve been putting off, learn another language. All of these things can help improve your mind. Many people think that it becomes much more difficult to learn a second language once we reach adulthood, but there are actually no studies to prove this. One simply needs to put in the time.

Your mind is not only an important part of who you are, it IS who you are. So it makes sense to train and develop it the same way as you would train and develop your body. Mind & body must work together. ☯

Free Will May Be Free, But It Costs A Lot!

Free will is a hell of a thing. It allows us as human beings to make choices and decisions based on OUR choices. It’s an advantage we have over the majority of the animal kingdom, as most animals tend to act on instinct.

But how is your free will used? Is it for the better of yourself? The betterment of humanity? Or is it more often used in an improper manner?

I recently posted about the three underlying factors behind problems we face in life. Without repeating the entire blog post, the list is that there are always three factors that contribute to every problem we face as humans.

The first factor is someone else. Others tend to contribute greatly to the problems we have. Think about it: when was the last time you faced a problem that didn’t involve at least one other person?

The second factor are elements out of our control. Think along the lines of getting to work almost ten minutes late because of construction. If you didn’t know that a certain road was blocked off and a delay would happen, you could have taken all the precautions possible by leaving on time and taking your usual route but you STILL would have shown up late.

This has a lot to do with causality, or the relationship between cause and effect. Granted, if you were aware of the construction or were given notice of its forthcoming, then that’s all on you.

The third factor is, in fact, yourself. No matter the problem we face, there will always be a certain amount that you contribute to your problem. Most people have a deep difficulty accepting that premise and will often think “this is not my fault!” Well maybe not, but there should still be an acknowledgement that actions or words on your part likely contributed to the tribulation you’re facing!

Accepting responsibility is difficult because we are hard-wired to survive, and defending oneself is an important aspect of survival. If one were capable of accepting responsibility for the part they played in any given situation, problems could be solved so much easier.

I’ve been guilty of this myself. Even recently. I look at particular problems and issues I’ve been facing within my life in the past couple of years and I recognize that I’ve had more than a small role to play in the creation of those problems. I’m hoping this clarity will help to bring said problems to an agreeable conclusion, but who knows?

I’ve often said that all things happen for a reason. Based on that belief, how effective does free will become? If it all happens for a reason, does my free will matter? Life has provided you with the right to choose during the story of your life. We all know how our story began. And we all know how our story will ultimately end. What fills the chapters in between is where our free will and right to choose come in.

So be certain to choose carefully, and accept responsibility for the part you play in life. You’ll be the better for it. It reminds me of a meme I saw about The Matrix. I don’t want to assume everyone has seen this movie, so I’ll explain.

During the beginning of the movie, one of the protagonists offers the main character a red pill or a blue pill. Each of the pills will provide an outcome, but the lead character must choose. The meme reads “Red pill or Blue pill…Nobody ever told you that you didn’t have to take a pill…”

An important lesson. The right to choose is important. Free will is important. But if the situation dictates it, don’t be afraid to refuse both options and walk away. ☯

Why Can’t We Be Friends…🎶

Life is difficult to deal with by oneself. Humans are inherently pack animals, and we tend to accumulate friends along the way. Friendships are important as they tend to teach us social and development skills that help us later on in life.

Most adults maintain an average of three to five friendships, although most times we only have one or two friendships that can be considered “close friendships”. This doesn’t include one’s “acquaintances”, which differ in that an acquaintance is someone you know and spend time with only on occasion. Friendships are a little more involved in that you know each other’s intimate details and spend an INCREASED amount of time together.

All of this is to say that friends come and go. Some experts believe that the average friendship will only last about seven years. If you manage to find a friendship that lasts longer, you’ve certainly found something special.

Almost 25 years ago, I found a young lad who had quite the chip on his shoulder. I met him at a neighbouring karate club. Given that I was a few years his senior and higher ranked than he, I decided to take him under my wing and befriend him. Although my initial intentions were to help him in his martial arts development, our association grew into a friendship that’s endured for more than the past two decades.

As we grew together, we learned together and it became a friendship more valuable than I could have imagined. Time and different paths in life has caused that friendship to fade over the past few years but I learned many important lessons along the way.

Friendships are important. They help to maintain proper brain health. Friends help us to deal with the situations of life, deal with stress and often provide an impartial sounding board to bounce our life’s choices off of.

Although the benefits of friendships are many, they normally don’t last forever. But as time and friendships fade, it’s important to remember the lessons you learned and the impression those friendships made. Whether good or bad, each one has left an impression that’s helped to mold the person you are today. ☯

Smile! It Makes Others Wonder What You’re Up To…

I was on my way home a couple of days ago when I drove past an elderly lady who was walking on an adjacent sidewalk. It’s in my nature to examine my surroundings as I go along, but something about this lady caught my eye in a particular way; she was smiling!

One would be inclined to think that a smile is not a big deal, right? Normally, I would agree. But here’s the thing: this lady had grey hair and was hunched over. She walked with a cane and had a very slow gait. She appeared to have lived through some of the more difficult aspects of life.

Despite the difficulty she appeared to be having, she was looking up at the trees and the sky and had a huge smile from ear to ear. She waved at another person as she walked by. Did she know this person, or was she simply spreading joy and friendliness? And it got me to thinking about the human condition.

We spend most of our lives trying to get things done. We grow up going to school, we study then get jobs, build families and worry about finances. We spend so much time doing all of this that we often forget to take a look around us at the world that’s provided so much beauty.

If this lady is able to enjoy the beauty of life and keep on smiling, then we should really have no excuse.

Life throws quite a bit of stress at us, so it’s important to stop and smell the roses every now and again. As Mother Teresa once said, “Peace Begins With A Smile.”

Expectations Are Never What You Expect

Do you ever wonder what life expects out of you? Have you ever wondered if you’re on the right track, based on those expectations? Well, I have some illuminating news for you: life expects nothing. You’re not “expected” to be on any track. Your life depends on you.

For centuries, there have been expectations out of people through the natural course of their lives. In medieval times, a boy became a man and was expected to take a wife and raise a family. This could happen anytime after the age of 12. Can you imagine? People today would cringe at the very thought of allowing such a young child to marry.

Throughout Contemporary History, you were expected to serve a tour of duty in your country’s military, return home and marry, have kids and get a house and solid job. Not even a career, mind you. Simply a job that would bring in the income required to support your family. That’s all that mattered.

What do you think the expectations are now? There are certain things that people impose on themselves. There are several people who believe that they need to go to post-secondary studies, obtain a university degree, meet someone and get married prior to their 30’s and have children, secure a career and a stable home.

One good example is how most teenagers start meeting guidance counsellors at 16 to start deciding what career they want and what path they’ll choose in life. I don’t know about you, but I had a hard time deciding what I would be doing on any particular weekend; I certainly wasn’t ready to plan out my life at that point!

Things need to happen in their own time. There is no template to how life should be lived. It’s okay if you chose never to go to college or university. It’s okay if you don’t meet the love of your life until later in life. The choice to have children is also yours and can’t be dictated by others.

Pooja Rajkumar once said: “Everybody have their own pace in achieving things in life… just because it happens to others, doesn’t mean it should happen to you as well… You will have your time and when it is to happen it will, without you being worried about it… just have one thing in your mind to clear off the frustration, “all things happen for a reason” and you will be fine!!!”

Don’t be so hard on yourself. Even if things don’t go “according to plan”, it doesn’t mean you’re off track. Don’t push so hard. Don’t stress so much. The things that bring you happiness will always outweigh the things that bring you money. Or possessions. Or suit the expectations of society. Do what brings you peace. ☯