Reality Sucks

Reality can sometimes be quite dull. In films, TV programmes, or even the news, reality gets changed and made more dramatic and exciting. It seems that we want the altered, edited and “sexed up” version of reality more than reality itself.

Perhaps this is the reason why so many people get caught up (or caught out) by fake news stories; something that is more sensational than reality is far more exciting.

When a Supreme Court case relating to Britain’s exit from the European Union was televised many people commented on how dull it was. Although this was a momentous and historic case, many on social media complained that it wasn’t as dramatic as fictionalised courtroom dramas they had seen on TV.

The film “Sully” based on the true events of the Hudson River plane crash invented tension and conflict around the subsequent investigation that, according to the real Captain Sullenberger’s accounts, never occurred. The real story wasn’t deemed dramatic enough for Hollywood and had to be embellished.

Are we turning our backs on truth?

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The Uniqueness of Uniqueness

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We are all unique, in almost every way. From our DNA, to our fingerprints, our eyes, our hair, our personality, our dreams and desires – our uniqueness defines who we are.

Funnily enough, uniqueness is completely ubiquitous, it is present throughout the universe. Everything in the universe is unique. There are no two snowflakes, no two grains of sand, no two clouds in the sky that are exactly the same.

Even manufactured items produced by machines with incredible precision, and which may appear uniform at first glance, contain small differences – albeit microscopic – that make them ultimately unique.

I find this infinite variation in our universe awe-inspiring. Everything should be appreciated for its unique beauty in its own time and place.

The fleeting manner in which we encounter so many elements in our lives – the uniqueness of the human experience – should make it even more precious. Whether it’s a friendship which makes a difference when you need it, a chance moment that pushes your life in a new direction, or the simple crunch of leaves under foot on a crisp autumn day, our lives are filled with uniqueness every single day.

And of course, each day is unique in its own way. We can be guilty sometimes of forgetting this; it can be too easy to forget the unique awesomeness that each day brings, and the endless possibilities contained within it.

It can be easy to brush aside a day as just another day – the same, hum-drum, monotony. We wish away the days so we can get to the weekend or the next holiday, when we can feel alive!

To truly appreciate the gift of the possible, to embrace the uniqueness of our lives, of our experiences and of our potential, we have to take ownership for what can be done, what could happen, what we make possible.

Every day, month and year of your life offers unique opportunities to live life on your terms, to seek happiness and fulfilment. It doesn’t mean it’s easy, but what other option have you got?

Something as unique as your life shouldn’t be wasted, wished away or spent in a rut of unhappiness. Do what you want. Live your life. Be you.

Embrace your uniqueness.


Image credit: Jude Beck | stocksnap.io

 

To Be Still…

A photo by Mathias Reed. unsplash.com/photos/wEoRDzrgmT8

We are all on the move. The pace of life seems to be forever increasing. Life is fast, work is busy. Too much to do in too little time.

Our lives are a frenetic ball of activities bouncing from day to week, week to month, month to year. And it doesn’t ever seem to stop.

When was the last time you had a moment of pure stillness? A time when you didn’t need to be somewhere, do something, speak to someone? When you could just be still? Is it even possible to be truly still?

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I Didn’t See The Signs…

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If you live in the UK you could share in one of my particular frustrations: the sheer volume of signs on our roads. It’s like we have made an industry out of producing and erecting them, often clustered together within just a few meters of each other.

Even when driving at a steady pace, it’s difficult to take them all in, or remember and apply the information or instructions they convey. (Just to clarify, I do recognise speed limit signs – I don’t want my license revoked thanks to this blog!).

The signs are there to protect both road users and pedestrians, and I have no issue with the notion of protecting ourselves. But there is a danger that the more signs we see, the less we pay attention to them.

We sign to say we have read and understood the terms and conditions, when in fact we’ve done neither. There are too many of them to read, so we don’t read any of them – researchers in Norway found that, on average, it would take over 31 hours just to read the terms and conditions associated with the most commonly used smartphone apps.

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Life Is Not A Game

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Like many millions of people, I love to play video games. I enjoy them; they’re fun, they’re engaging, they’re distracting. I can easily get obsessed with what level I’m on and how I’m progressing.

It’s good to progress, it feels great to level-up, but lately I realised that I was feeling a sense of achievement, when in fact I’d achieved nothing.

That’s the power of a good game – it makes me feel like I’ve achieved something in my life when, in fact, it’s the opposite. I’ve achieved nothing, or at least nothing that I actually had on my to-do list.

I’m sure many people have things they want to do, things they want to achieve, but getting a certain level on Candy Crush probably isn’t one of them. If that’s what you want, then go ahead and do it. There’s no harm in it. Be my guest.

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Happy Endings!

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Everyone wants a fairytale-style happy ending, right? Everything turns out as planned, for the best, everyone’s happy, dreams are achieved. Movies are great at creating the perfect happy ending, against all odds, where it all just “comes together” in the closing scene.

In real life we too want happy endings, our dreams achieved, challenges overcome, happiness secured. However, real life is not the same as a movie; we have two big stumbling blocks:

How do you define happy?

When exactly is the ending?

Happiness tends to be far more complicated and elusive in real life than in a movie. Nothing is ever really perfect; there will always be some lingering issue or concern. The stuff the characters presumably have to deal after the credits roll and the movie theatre gets cleaned up ready for the next showing.

And what is an ending in our lives? The end of the week, the month, the holiday, the wedding, the big event…?

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What Do You Really Care About?

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We are often told what we should care about. We are regularly force-fed an agenda of what is important to us and what isn’t. We are told that the economy is something we should all care about, and be fearful about, and be protective of.

Whilst the 2008 economic crisis was very serious, we also talked ourselves into it. In the six months before the recession hit, the news reported that we were heading for a recession; as a result people stopped spending, people stopped planning holidays and purchasing cars, on the basis that there was a recession coming.

When it did hit, it hit us very hard. And lo and behold, the news reported that it hit us harder than expected because people had stopped spending, stopped planning holidays and purchasing cars! The economy will often take precedence in the news above so many other stories.

We are told what we should care about, we are told what we should know, we are told when we should be scared and even when we should feel joy.

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Let’s Get Physical

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Holding a worn, torn, faded photograph in your hand can often evoke more feelings and stir our emotional memories far more deeply than scrolling through thousands of crystal-clear images on a digital device.

Why is that? What is it about a physical photograph that affords it more emotional currency than a digital one? Maybe it is the act of holding it, of touching it, that makes the difference. No matter what the resolution of your modern day camera, in many ways a physical photograph will always have the edge over a digital image.

It’s the reason why so many people still get their digital photos printed; it provides us with the means to hold them, to connect with them in a way that is more than just visual. They take up physical space and, on so many levels, we always return to the physical…

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Clouds

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Too many clouds in the sky block the sun, but too few and we burn. Clouds may frustrate us sometimes, but the right amount of cloud cover is just what’s needed to create the most beautiful sunsets and sunrises.

I was flying into Warsaw recently and a cabin crew member peeked out of my window to see what the weather was like. We were still above the clouds so we really had no idea what it was like below. From our vantage point the sun shone brightly against a pure blue sky. I took the picture above at that very moment.

But, as we began our descent, we quickly sank into the heart of a thick cloud.  As all visibility seemed to fade, I began to wonder how dense the cloud was. For a while it seemed that we were stuck, suspended mid-cloud. I didn’t know where I was, or how far from the ground I was, or what it would be like when I finally emerged from the cloud.

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What Do You Know?

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“For this discovery of yours [writing] will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember for themselves”

– Plato

The ancient Greek philosopher Plato lived about 2,400 years ago. The above quote expresses his concern that when something is written down, people may take it – whatever it is – to be a fact;  they won’t think on the issue, they won’t ponder or pontificate. They won’t expand their understanding through those “lightbulb” moments we all experience from time to time.

How amazing that Plato’s simple question is more relevant today than it was then. Today we don’t need to think, we don’t need to discover our knowledge; we don’t need to learn.

We can just “Google” it.

We now “own” knowledge – practically all of human knowledge can be accessed from our devices in our hands or pockets. Everything is just a click away. The sheer volume of information is mind-boggling, all available at the touch of a few buttons. But have we sacrificed quality, truth and fact, for volume?

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