A lot of people have a misunderstanding of the feelings which motivate a person to work hard. The truth is: you have to cultivate your passion by doing it every single day whether you like to or not.
I didn’t particularly enjoy it when I first started writing, but after a year of creating articles every day for my job, I began to appreciate my work whenever it sounded good.
It’s that feeling of improvement and growth. It’s hard to beat it. Human beings are a lot like other animals and insects in the world.
It reminds me of ant colonies, always busy and contributing to society in some shape or form, whether they think they are or not. (Upon research, I actually found out that ants aren’t quite as hard working as the theory usually goes, but they used to be considered inexorable workhorses, so assume the analogy is still valid).
We’re always together, highly social, and performing a function. Why is that we have to be near each other?
People like to be close to one another so much that one of the worst punishments for a man – who’s already in prison – is to put him in solitary confinement.
Psychologists have wanted to conduct tests on the effects of solitary confinement, but on account of the immorality of such a test, most universities haven’t been able to conduct studies.
However, clinicians have surveyed prisoners already in solitary confinement, and around 33% of them suffered psychotic delusions or tried to kill themselves at one point.
Stuart Grassian, a guy who worked as a psychiatrist for Harvard Medical School, interviewed hundreds of prisoners in solitary confinement.
He concluded that being alone like that against your will could cause severe psychiatric hallucinations, panic attacks, paranoia, hypersensitivity to external stimuli, a detachment that causes you to be unable to form cohesive thoughts on anything, and some even develop psychotic obsessions.
Grassian told the newspaper, Frontline, that one particular man became obsessed with his ability to empty his bladder. He would spend 24 hours a day in front of the toilet trying to pee and couldn’t focus on anything else but that. Pretty bizarre.
It seems like human beings are meant to take in new information, in any form. Your brain will force you to keep busy with something, even if external stimuli in the environment is unavailable.
If humans don’t have information to absorb – (and by “information” I mean stimulus ranging from people talking, the changing of weather, the sound of the air conditioner, anything that changes over time) – they become disassociated with reality and all of the effects that go with that including depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, sadness, anger, etc.
It’s one of the reasons why people find smartphones so addicting. They look at their updated social media account every three seconds because their brain loves the stimulus provided by new information.
Think about how much you look at your phone when you’re bored. A person will pull their phone out of their pocket literally every 5 seconds and look at it, despite the fact that their Twitter and Facebook feed hasn’t changed at all in that short moment of time.
Back to the point of solitude, after a person get’s out of solitary confinement, the destruction of their social skills is so severe that they can’t even talk to anyone and typically don’t even want to.
It goes without saying that to be alone for an extended period is catastrophic for your psyche. Even people who think they don’t “need” anybody have to have at least one person to talk to, whether it’s through text message or a phone call. There has to be some connection to the social world.
Retired people, for example, often take a job even when it’s not necessary because they want other people around and something to keep their mind occupied.
You’re supposed to be working on something, whatever it is. It’s the reason why people who don’t work are always so miserable.
However, admittedly, people can fill that gap with all kinds of bullshit like binging on Netflix, potato chips, fast food, drugs, gambling, alcohol; and whatever you can imagine. Are those people really happy with themselves though?
People need to be striving continually. That’s why you have to cultivate a passion for what you love. There will always be moments where you seriously don’t want to do it. Or perhaps, there’ll come a time when you’re bored of it and have to come up with a unique take on things.
Take guitar playing for example, at some point; you might get sick of playing it in your bedroom, or even sick of the genre.
You have to switch it up, even if you hate playing outside of your usual style. After practicing for a week every day for thirty minutes, you might find all of a sudden that you enjoy the new genre.
Even though it seems like the need for work is innate to human nature, supposedly, the idea of self-improvement and continually making progress is a new one.
In Orwell’s The Road To Wigan Pier, he stated that during the middle ages, people used the same type of plow for the crops for literally hundreds of years and never tried to improve upon or replace it.
That blew my mind when I read it. I always thought the desire to continually strive for something better was innate to human beings, and perhaps it is.
However, on the other hand, just because it’s a new concept that hasn’t always been defined with clear language, it doesn’t mean it’s not good for a person’s heart and soul. Or, on the opposite side of the analogy, just because it existed in the past, it doesn’t mean it should exist today.
In a book I read recently called Sex & Conquest by Richard Trexler, he reveals that throughout history there existed many types of relationships, some of which would be unacceptable in today’s day and age.
The Iberians, the Moors, and the Spaniards during the middle ages would have young boys (fucked up, I know) for relationships rather than women.
When people are arguing in the defense of relationships which are outside the norm, typically, they point out the fact that throughout history many kinds of relationships existed and were possibly even the standard. Essentially, proving that the norm of men and women together in a relationship is just a product of antiquated religious doctrine and what they like to call “heteronormativity.”
But, as I said before, just because something existed in the past, it doesn’t mean that it’s “ok” to go on.
Something’s existence doesn’t mean it’s good for society and human beings in general. The example of army generals sleeping with kids is an example of that. Sure, it existed, so does that mean that sort of relationship is Ok now? I don’t think so.
In Child Development courses, there are all kinds of rules and guidelines taught to people who believe there are right times for the child to start walking.
You have to encourage your child to walk at a particular age if you want the kid to develop correctly, or so they think.
However, in some cultures, the idea that you should encourage the child to walk is unnecessary, and they don’t care at all, like in Turkey.
Individual cultures have values that they honor more than others, which may be related to their utility in that particular environment.
If your culture doesn’t care about technological innovation, then no one will bother teaching their kids to learn, improve, or acquire new skills.
It’s only in a western capitalist culture where we emphasize the importance of learning new skills that way a person can get a job where he/she pleases.
If you lived in middle-aged Spain, the idea that you should always be striving to be better probably didn’t even exist as a concept.
Social stratification was everywhere, and social mobility was limited, like in India for example, where there’s a strict caste system, one where if you’re born into it, you can’t escape it for all your life.
For all of its weaknesses, Western culture has succeeded in creating an environment where people can rise from a lower-class background into the upper echelons of society.
I think social mobility, perhaps, is one of greatest features ever created by Western nations. The idea that you can move up the social-status-ladder if you want to is incredible.
If you want more out of life, you can work toward it in incremental steps, although, I have to concede, some people have a much harder time than others getting there, but that’s life. Life is unfair.
To be born in a place where you have the option to try and succeed on opportunities presented is like nothing we’ve ever seen before, and I think it’s a shame some people don’t want to take advantage of that.
However, some people are happy with their circumstances the way they are, and I’m willing to accept that.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably the type of person who wants and needs to cultivate their passion, whatever it is.
And in that case, remember that to be born in North America in the last 50 years is a tremendous advantage, one you should capitalize on. Don’t take it for granted.