Month: September 2017

September 28, 2017 Oliver Briny 1 comment

life of meaning

Most worldviews agree that the time we have on this Earth is precious. Many go as far as to say that time is your most valuable asset. An asset is defined by being useful or valuable. So if time is the most valuable asset, what do you use it for to get that value out of it? Well now I just have to ask, what can be uniformly defined as value? What does a life of meaning actually look like?
 
Lots of questions this week, but they stem from a sincere curiosity. From my perspective, it seems that most people - I dare say - struggle with finding meaning in life. We live in an age of subjective moral reasoning, which means that everyone individually defines for themselves what is good and bad, what is right and wrong. So with more freedom available to us than ever before, wouldn’t you think we’d be more satisfied?
 
"If you’re living a sensually driven life right now, you’re moving towards total emptiness.”¹
 
Is there a uniform right and wrong when it comes to living a life of meaning? It seems that we’ve found some pieces of that truth. No one wants to live a life void of true meaning. Even people with a naturalistic, scientific worldview, want meaning in some form. Paradoxically, it seems that our satisfaction in life positively correlates with having goals that have to do with putting others before us. It’s interesting; it's as if when we lose our lives, we find it.
 
I believe one form of meaning is found within genuine encounters with people. You can’t have intimate relationships without genuineness. A necessary ingredient when it comes to relationships is having the grace to allow one another the freedom of genuine expression. The difficulty lies in that sometimes we need the maturity to listen when it’s something we don’t want to hear.
 
There’s a really powerful video circulating online, where Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski talks about love². He describes the way we currently love as selfish. We often fail to genuinely love the other person; we just love the feeling the person gives us. When the person fails to meet our needs, we feel wronged and violated. Sadly, this means that we focus on our needs before anyone else’s. That’s not love for the other. That’s love for oneself. We constantly try to find our own sensual fulfilment - maybe that’s why we’re so empty.
 
It is selfishness that kills intimacy and meaning. Its rise has given birth to more still-born relationships than ever before in human history. It disperses the safety of expression necessary within an intimate relationship. What if it’s suffocation of expression itself, that breeds shallow living?
 
Selfishness is usually a manifestation of long-lasting pain. In a way, we need grace with ourselves before we can have it with anyone else. When a person learns to truly love who they are, their being is not phased by other people’s expression. This is because without an intimate, graceful disposition towards ourselves, it’s enormously difficult to be intimate and graceful towards other people.
 
So have a think. Do you allow yourself to express yourself genuinely? Are you able to allow others to express themselves? This is so important, because it’s a huge factor in unlocking the door to a life of meaning where you can truly connect with others. You are irrevocably unique. Opinions are many, but know that I, and many others, think that it would be such a shame if you hid your personality from the world. You are valuable - there’s a world of meaning out there.
 
"Meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain, meaninglessness ultimately comes from being weary of pleasure."
-G. K. Chesterton
 
 

1. Zacharias, Ravi, Dr. “Questions of a Man in Agony, Part 2”. RZIM. August 8, 2017. http://rzim.org/just-thinking-broadcasts/questions-of-a-man-in-agony-part-2-of-4/.
2. Twerski, Abraham, Dr. “Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski On Love.” Speech. https://www.jinsider.com
September 15, 2017 Oliver Briny No comments exist

Work It Out

At the age of 15, I had the opportunity to get my first (legal) summer job at a local shop and restaurant as a quad bike driver. I’m eternally thankful for the opportunity, as it laid the foundation for my future work endeavors, and was a challenging but positive environment for the young lad I was. I worked there every summer until the age of 18.
 
Since then I’ve had the opportunity to work in different jobs in different countries. I’m lucky - not particularly special - to have gotten those opportunities, as I never went and hunted for those jobs. They were jobs that came to me for being lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. I always did my best and received good feedback from (mostly) amazing bosses. Most people, however, have to get out there and find jobs. 
 
Because I was so (undeservingly) blessed when it came to jobs, I was always the annoying person in my circles, who'd proclaim that there are always opportunities out there, there are tons of jobs waiting for you - you just have to step out and find them!
 
And… yes, I still think that way. But after experiencing it for myself for the first time, I understood that it’s hard work finding those opportunities. 
 
So, for the first time in my life, I was in a place where I knew my job contract would end in a couple of months and I knew I needed to take some fresh steps employment-wise. I decided to allocate a specific, consistent time for job-hunting within my week schedule. What I did before applying for a single job turned out to be the best thing I could’ve done in that situation. I sat down, gathered some work-related resources, quieted down and contemplated. What would be the wisest thing I could do? 
 
I thought about the most important thing there is when it comes to work. Passion is an obvious one, and we often hear the question "what are you passionate about?” being thrown around. It’s a great question, but I’ve personally heard it so many times that it’s become obsolete. I needed fresh insight. In her speech¹, Ashley Stahl blew my mind in the simplest way when she said that you should do something that you are, not just what you love.
 
It clicked right away… Of course! Passion is the fire that happens when you rub two sticks together. So what you should go by is not passion (a feeling), but rather who you are as a person. Find a job where you don’t have to become someone else every day in order to make it work. When you can be yourself and utilize your own personality as a tool to get your work done, you’ve found yourself a good thing. Changing yourself to something who you’re not is exhausting and inefficient. Naturally, when something you do is aligned with who you are, there’s a lot more enjoyment, a lot more passion, and a lot more power in your life.
 
What are your interests? What do you do with delight even without being paid? Which quirk about your own personality brings you joy? For example, some people love being organized. Others love serving people. Some enjoy building things. 
 
Working a job that you actually love is a relatively fresh idea. Work is almost never free of challenges, but it doesn’t have to suck. Doing something that you are, doesn’t come easy. You need stops, steps and brainwork. 
 
So, who are you?
 
 

1. Stahl, Ashley. “Three Questions to unlock your authentic career.” Speech, TEDxBerkeley, California, Berkeley.
September 1, 2017 Oliver Briny 3 comments

The Circle Of Influence

You lie down after a long day, snuggle up into your cozy bed and close your eyes…
 
How much was the rent again? I wonder how hard my new term will be? I wish I could take back what I said to my colleague today…
 
Congratulations! You’ve entered the circle of concern, so you can kiss sleeping goodbye now.
 
You might have heard that our minds can be compared to an iceberg. The small tip above the surface is the conscious mind - the part you’re aware of. The gigantic rest of the berg under the surface, is the subconscious mind. To recap: in comparison, the conscious mind is minuscule and the subconscious mind is enormous. 
 
Putting this into numbers, the conscious mind can process up to 20 thousand bits per second. Our subconscious mind processes 400 billion (400,000,000,000!) bits per second.¹ Is your mind blown as well, because mine sure is. So one would think that our conscious mind is really just the place where the subconscious spews all the information, and the conscious just blindly obeys.
 
I used to think this way growing up. I thought that we are just the product of our subconscious wiring. Whichever way we were wired by our childhood, past experiences, family and friends, that’s the way we were going to be. I accepted all of my mindsets and thoughts as they were. “I can’t help it, I was wired this way.” 
 
I couldn’t have been more wrong. 
 
Sure, the subconscious mind has an enormous effect on our thoughts and behaviour, but scientists have come to understand that it’s the other way around - we can consciously rewire our thinking! Our conscious mind has the power of changing our thinking, mindsets and chemical stability in the long run. The thoughts you choose to entertain, grow. 
 
I’d like to introduce a simple principle with which to start empowering your thinking. All of your thoughts can be categorized into two circles: the circle of concern and the circle of influence
 
The circle of concern is exhausting. It’s the place you often spend your time in before going to bed. It is the domain of the thoughts that you have very little power to influence, such as past mistakes, the bad things that are happening in this world, the weather - the list goes on. Focusing on the circle of concern makes you negative and cynical. It saps your energy and joy in life. It leaves you stressed and powerless. 
 
But worry not. As we’ve established, we’re actually capable of changing our focus by using our conscious mind. Decide to reside in the circle of influence. When you choose to focus on the things you’re capable of changing, you enter the circle of influence. It’s focusing on the things you can actually start breaking into steps and accomplish. It will require energy at first, but will soon become a habit.
 
You are not a slave of your subconscious mind. You’re not at the mercy of your past. When you feel negative, and feel like you’re dwelling in things you cannot change, shift your mind onto the things you can influence. They sometimes look like smaller steps, but rest assured, the steps will push you forward. You will start radiating as you become proactive. You’ll have a surplus of energy, as you no longer waste it on the dark abyss of concern.
 
Now you’re ready to start having some good nights’ sleep!
 
 

1. Leaf, Caroline. Who switched off my brain? Controlling toxic thoughts and emotions. Dallas, TX: Switch On Your Brain, 2008.