Valuable Post !

First Fact: At some point during evolution between plankton and Bon Jovi, apes evolved the ability to become emotionally attached to one another. This emotional attachment would eventually come to be known as “love” and evolution would one day produce a bevy of singers from New Jersey who would make millions writing cheesy songs about it.

Second Fact: Humans evolved the ability to become attached to each other—that is, the ability to love each other—because it helped us survive.1 This isn’t exactly romantic or sexy, but it’s true.

We didn’t evolve big fangs or huge claws or insane gorilla strength. Instead, we evolved the ability to emotionally bond into communities and families where we became largely inclined to cooperate with one another.2 These communities and families turned out to be far more effective than any claw or any fang. Humanity soon dominated the planet.

Cavemen romantic love
Without developing emotional attachments to one another, we probably all would have been eaten by tigers at some point.

Third Fact: As humans, we instinctively develop loyalty and affection for those who show us the most loyalty and affection. This is all love really is: an irrational degree of loyalty and affection for another person—to the point that we’d let ourselves come to harm or even die for that person. It may sound insane, but it’s these symbiotic warm fuzzies that kept the species relying on one another long enough to survive the savannas and populate the planet and invent Netflix.

Fourth Fact: Let’s all take a moment and thank evolution for Netflix.

Fifth Fact: The ancient Greek philosopher Plato argued that the highest form of love was actually this non-sexual, non-romantic form of attachment to another person, this so-called “brotherly love.” Plato reasoned (correctly) that since passion and romance and sex often make us do ridiculous things that we regret, this sort of passionless love between two family members or between two close friends was the height of virtuous human experience. In fact, Plato, like most people in the ancient world, looked upon romantic love with skepticism, if not absolute horror.3

Sixth Fact: As with most things, Plato got it right before anybody else did. And this is why non-sexual love is often referred to as “platonic love.”

Seventh Fact: For most of human history, romantic love was looked upon as a kind of sickness.4 And if you think about it, it’s not hard to figure out why: romantic love causes people (especially young people) to do some stupid shit. Trust me. One time when I was 21, I skipped class, bought a bus ticket, and rode across three states to surprise a girl I was in love with. She freaked out and I was soon back on a bus heading home, just as single as when I came. What an idiot.

That bus ride seemed like a great idea at the time because it seemed like such a romantic idea. My emotions were going crazy the whole time. I was lost in a fantasy world and loving it. But now it’s just sort of an embarrassing thing I did back when I was young and dumb and didn’t know any better.

It’s this sort of poor decision-making that made the ancients skeptical of romantic love’s utility. Instead, many cultures treated it as some sort of unfortunate disease we all have to go through and get over in our lives, kind of like chickenpox. In fact, classic stories like The Iliad or Romeo and Juliet weren’t celebrations of love. They were warnings against the potential negative consequences of love, of how romantic love can potentially ruin everything.

See, for most of human history, people didn’t marry because of their feelings for one another. Feelings didn’t matter in the ancient world.

Why?

Because fuck feelings, there are fields to plow and cows to feed and holy crap Attila the Hun just massacred your entire extended family the next village over.

There was no time for romance. And certainly no tolerance for the risky behaviors it encouraged among people. There was too much life-or-death work to be accomplished. Marriage was meant for baby-making and sound finances.5 Romantic love, if permitted at all, was reserved for the heady realm of mistresses and fuckboys.

For most of human history, for the majority of humanity, their sustenance and survival hung by a tiny thread. People had shorter life expectancies than my mother’s cats. Everything you did had to be done for the simple sake of survival. Marriages were arranged by families not because they liked each other, and especially not because they loved each other, but because their farms went together nicely, and the families could share some wheat or barley when the next flood or drought hit.

Marriages were a purely economic arrangement designed to promote the survival and prosperity of both extended families. So if Junior gets the tingles in his pants and wants to run away with the milkmaid across town, this wasn’t just an inconvenience—this was a legitimate threat to the community’s survival. And it was treated as such. In fact, this kind of behavior was so treacherous in young men that most ancient societies cut a lot of young boy’s balls off so they wouldn’t have to deal with their philandering. This had a side benefit of producing excellent-sounding boys’ choirs.

It wasn’t until the industrial age that things began to change. People began to take up work in city centers and factories. Their income, and thus their economic future, was no longer tied to the land and they were able to make money independent of their family. They didn’t have to rely on inheritances or family connections the way people did in the ancient world, and so the economic and political components of marriage ceased to make much sense.

Industrial Age Romantic Love
Back in the olden days, marriage was seen as a duty, not something you did for personal fulfillment or emotional pleasure.

The new economic realities of the 19th century then cross-pollinated with the ideas that emerged from the Enlightenment about individual rights and the pursuit of happiness, and the result was a full-blown Age of Romanticism. Fuck the cattle, it was the 1800s and people’s feelings suddenly mattered. The new ideal was not only to marry for love but that that love was to live on in bliss for all of the eternity. Thus, it wasn’t until the relatively recent 150 years ago that the ever-popular “happily ever after” ideal was born.6

Then the 20th century rolled around, and in between Hitler and a few genocides, Hollywood and ad agencies grabbed hold of the “happily ever after” fantasy and beat it to death over the next 100 years.

The point here is that romance and all of the weight we tend to put on it is a modern invention, and primarily promoted and marketed by a bunch of businessmen who realized it will get you to pay for movie tickets and/or a new piece of jewelry. As Don Draper once said, “What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons.”

Early 20th Century Romantic Love
It wasn’t until people became economically independent that love (or emotions in general) became valued in society.

Romance is an easy sell. We all enjoy seeing the hero get the girl. We enjoy seeing the happy ending. We enjoy believing in “happily ever after.” It feels good. And so the commercial forces that arose in the 20th century took it and ran with it.

But romantic love, and love in general, is far more complicated than we’ve been led to believe by Hollywood movies or jewelry store ads. Nowhere do we hear that love can be unsexy drudgery. Or that love can sometimes be unpleasant or even painful, that it could potentially even be something we don’t want to feel at times. Or that love requires self-discipline and a certain amount of sustained effort over the course of years, decades, a lifetime.

These truths are not exciting. Nor do they sell well.

The painful truth about love is that the real work of a relationship begins after the curtain closes and the credits roll. The real work of a relationship is all the boring, dreary, unsexy things that nobody else sees or appreciates. Like most things in the media, the portrayal of love in pop culture is limited to the highlight reel. All the nuance and complexities of actually living through a relationship is swept away to make room for the exciting headline, the unjust separation, the crazy plot twist, and of course everyone’s favorite happy ending.

Most of us have been so inundated by these messages throughout our entire lives that we have come to mistake the excitement and drama of romance for the whole relationship itself. When we’re swept up by romance, we can’t imagine that anything could possibly go wrong between us and our partner. We can’t see their faults or failures, all we see is their limitless potential and possibility.

This is not love. This is a delusion. And like most delusions, things usually don’t end well.

Which brings me to the Eighth Fact: Just because you love somebody doesn’t mean you should be with them.

It’s possible to fall in love with somebody who doesn’t treat us well, who makes us feel worse about ourselves, who doesn’t hold the same respect for us as we do for them, or who has such a dysfunctional life themselves that they threaten to pull us underwater until we drown in their loving arms.

It’s possible to fall in love with somebody who has different ambitions or life goals that are contradictory to our own, who holds different philosophical beliefs or worldviews or whose life path merely weaves in the opposite direction at an inopportune time.

It’s possible to fall in love with somebody who sucks for us and our happiness.

This is why throughout most of human history, marriage was arranged by the parents. Because they were the ones with some objective perspective on whether their kid was marrying a fuckface or not.

But in the past few centuries, since young people were able to choose their partners themselves (which is a good thing), they instinctively overestimated love’s ability to overcome whatever issues or problems were present in their relationships (which is a bad thing).

This is the definition of a toxic or unhealthy relationship: people who don’t love each other for the person they are, but rather love each other in hopes that their feelings for each other will fill some horribly empty hole in their soul.

Ninth Fact: With greater personal freedom comes a greater requirement for personal responsibility and understanding. And it’s 100 years later and we’re just now gaining the ability to grapple with the responsibilities love brings with it.

People in toxic relationships don’t love each other. They love the idea of each other. They’re in love with the fantasy that is constantly playing out in their head. And instead of ditching the fantasy and getting with the person in front of them, they spend all of their will and energy interpreting and conforming the person in front of them to fit the fantasy they keep spinning for themselves.

And why?

Because they don’t know any better. Or they’re afraid of the vulnerability required to love someone selflessly and healthily.

A few centuries ago, people hated romantic love. They were afraid of it, skeptical of its power and weary of its ability to tilt everyone it touched into making bad choices.

A couple centuries ago, free from the confines of the farm and mom and dad’s approving or disapproving hand, people then overestimated love. They idealized it and willed it to wash away all of their problems and pain forever.

But people are just now starting to figure out that while love is great, that by itself, love is not enough.

That love should not be the cause of your relationships but rather their effect. That love should not define our lives but rather be a by-product of it. That just because someone makes you feel more alive doesn’t mean that you should necessarily live for them.

Nobody talks about the fact that greater personal freedom grants greater opportunities to fuck things up. And it creates greater opportunities to hurt other people. The great liberation of romantic love has brought incredible life experiences into the world. But it’s also brought the necessity for a realistic, honest approach to relationships that accommodates the painful realities of spending a life together.

Some people say in this age of ghosting and swipe-right, that romance is dead. Romance is not dead. It’s merely being postponed—relegated to a safe space where both people need to build a certain degree of comfort and trust before they go bleeding-heart bonkers for one another.

And perhaps that’s actually a good thing.

Footnotes

  1. And attachment is as important to survival today as it ever was. See: Green, M., & Scholes, M. (Eds.). (2004). Attachment and human survival (pp. xi, 164). Karnac Books.
  2. For a review of the evolution of human cooperation, see: Henrich, J., & Muthukrishna, M. (2021). The Origins and Psychology of Human Cooperation. Annual Review of Psychology, 72(1), 207–240.
  3. For a 100-page deep dive into the topic, see: Kelsen, H. (1942). Platonic Love. American Imago, 3(1/2), 3–110.
  4. See: Caston, R. R. (2006). Love as Illness: Poets and Philosophers on Romantic Love. The Classical Journal, 101(3), 271–298.
  5. See this study for an economic analysis of marriage for the purpose of propagation (a.k.a. baby-making), and this book chapter for the role of marriage in finances in olden-day China.
  6. For more on this heady era, see: Schneider, J. F. (2007). The Age of Romanticism (Illustrated edition). Westport: Greenwood.

I always adore everything about self-improvement

Stop Asking Couples When They Are Having Kids

“So, when are you having kids?” my aunt asked me. At that point, I was 30 and had just been married for a few months. I didn’t even know if I wanted kids, much less when I was having them.

So I simply said, “I have not decided if I want to have kids.” I would spend the next hour listening to stories of women who regretted not having children because they had put it off until it was too late, and women who had difficulty conceiving because they had waited too long or because of their own biological issues, almost told as an implicit way to tell me that I was going to regret it if I didn’t hurry and work on producing kids right away.

This would be my life for the next few years, where I would receive constant, invasive questions surrounding “When are you having kids?” from relatives, friends, and nosy people, followed by a routine, almost ritualistic pressurization to have kids.

If you think that it ends after you have a kid, it doesn’t. The people who had previously told you to have “just one kid” when you were indifferent to the idea, will now tell you to have a second one, along with reasons why you should do so. This repeated questioning and attempt to shape people to fit their expectations seem to never end.

The problem with asking “When are you having kids?”

I understand why people like to ask this question. Find a partner, settle down, get married, and have kids. This is the life path that we’ve been taught to follow since young. This is the life path we’ve been told is the way of life.

This is especially so in the Chinese culture, where having kids is seen as the ultimate goal in life. There are even sayings built around this notion, such as 生儿育女 (shēng ér yù nǚ, which means to birth sons and raise daughters) and 子孙满堂 (zǐ sūn mǎn táng, which means to be in a room filled with children and grandchildren, used to signify the epitome of happiness).

Multi-Generation Chinese Family at the Park

A multi-generation family, often used to depict a vision of happiness in the Chinese culture

So after you get married, people automatically assume that you should have kids. “When are you having kids?” they ask, as if expecting you to give them a straight answer.

The problem with this question is that it’s rude. It’s invasive. It’s also presumptuous.

1) Having kids is not the only path to happiness

To begin with, having kids is a personal and private matter. Whether people want to have kids or not is none of anyone’s business, and people most certainly shouldn’t be opening conversations with “When are you having kids?”, as if the only goal of a person’s life is to have kids. Even if it’s for the intent of having a heart-to-heart, a question like “Do you have any plans for kids?” would be more appropriate.

But in case one needs specific reasons to understand why such a question is invasive, the first thing to understand is that everyone has their own path in life. This path is not always the same for everyone. Some people want kids, while some don’t. Some think that having kids is the greatest joy in life, while some see them as a burden.

Having kids is a lifelong commitment and takes a tremendous amount of work and time. Anyone who has kids, and has raised them by themselves, would understand this. There are significant ups and downs that come with having a kid. For some, the ups do not justify the downs. For these people, it is better to remain childless, rather than have children just to fit society’s mold. To assume that everyone should have kids, just because others think that having kids is great and amazing, is rude and disregards that person’s own preferences in life.

For example, Oprah Winfrey is an inspiring woman and humanitarian who chose not to have kids, and has dedicated herself to her personal purpose of serving the world. Oprah hosted her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show for 25 years, founded a leadership academy for girls and became a mother figure to the girls in attendance, and started her own television network. These are things that most do not get to do in their lifetime. Through the years, she has inspired millions and become a champion for people worldwide. As she says,

“When people were pressuring me to get married and have children, I knew I was not going to be a person that ever regretted not having them, because I feel like I am a mother to the world’s children. Love knows no boundaries. It doesn’t matter if a child came from your womb or if you found that person at age two, 10, or 20. If the love is real, the caring is pure and it comes from a good space, it works.” — Oprah[1]

Is she not being a responsible or purposeful person (or woman) by choosing not to have kids? Definitely not. In fact, I dare say that she lives a much more purposeful life than many in the world, including people who choose to have kids.

There are many famous celebrities who have chosen not to have kids as well.

  • Chelsea Handler is a talk show host who chose not to have kids. She has said honestly in interviews that she doesn’t have the time to raise a child, and she doesn’t want her kids to be raised by a nanny.[2][3]
  • Betty White is an actress and comedian who chose not to have kids because she’s passionate about her career and she prefers to focus on it.[4]
  • Ashley Judd is an actress and political activist who chose not to have kids because she feels that there are already so many orphaned kids in this world. To her, her resources can be better used to help those who are already here, and I respect her for such a noble choice.[5]

And then there are others, such as Cameron Diaz, Chow Yun Fat, Marisa Tomei, Renée Zellweger, and Rachael Ray. These people choose not to have kids for different reasons, such as because they’re already pursuing paths deeply meaningful to them, because they do not wish to be tied down with a child, or because they just don’t feel a deep desire to have kids.

Not having kids has not prevented these people from being happy in life, and there’s no reason to assume why people must have kids in order to be happy. People need to stop painting the narrative that one must have children in order to be happy. There are plenty of people with kids who are unhappy, and plenty of people without kids who have found inner fulfillment in life through other ways. There is no one path to happiness, and everyone needs to realize that.

2) You may cause hurt and pain

Secondly, you never know what others are going through.

Some people may want kids, but maybe they are facing fertility struggles. For example,

  • Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan went through three miscarriages before having their firstborn.[6]
  • The Obamas had a miscarriage before they had their daughters via IVF.[7]
  • Friends star Courteney Cox had a total of seven miscarriages before having her daughter, as she has a MTHFR gene mutation which raises the risk of miscarriage-causing blood clots.[8]

About 10% of women have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant,[9] while 13.5% of known pregnancies end in miscarriages, with the figure rising as the maternal age rises.[10]

For some people, the journey to conceive is fraught with deep pain, struggle, and losses as they experience miscarriages, undergo round after round of invasive fertility treatments, and wait in hope of the double blue lines on their pregnancy kit each month.

And then there are people who cannot have their own biological children due to issues with their reproductive system, which could have been there since birth.

Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and family

Barack and Michelle Obama had a miscarriage before they had their daughters via IVF

While you may be think that you’re being helpful or funny by asking people when they’re having kids, your question may well trigger hurt and pain. As Zuckerberg said,

“You feel so hopeful when you learn you’re going to have a child. You start imagining who they’ll become and dreaming of hopes for their future. You start making plans, and then they’re gone. It’s a lonely experience.”[6]

3) Not everyone is in a place to have kids

Thirdly, having kids is simply not a reality for some people due to their circumstances in life.

Some people may lack the financial resources to have kids, a reality in a place like Singapore.

Some people may be facing problems with their marriage, in which case their priority should be to work on their marriage, not to have kids.

Some people may be so burdened with caring for their dependents that they are unable to consider kids, at least not at the moment.

And then there are people facing chronic health issues, issues that you don’t know and can’t see, which make pregnancy difficult due to the toll it would take on their body.

4) Some people could still be thinking

And then there are people who are neutral to the idea of having kids, like myself when I just got married. These people need time to think it through, because having kids is a permanent, lifelong decision with serious consequences. There’s no reason to assume that having a kid should be an automatic decision, because you’re bringing a whole new life into this world. This is a decision that will change your life forever, as well as the life of the child you’re bringing into the world. I personally think one of the worst things someone could do is to simply have kids for the sake of it, and then afterward give their child sub-standard care, something which I feel many people do.

For those yet to have kids, they need the space to figure out what they want, not have people breathe down their neck day in and out about having kids.

My experience

For the initial years after I got married, I wasn’t thinking about kids. Firstly, having a child is a lifelong decision, and I wanted to enjoy married life before diving into a decision as serious as that. Secondly, my husband and I were happy spending our lives with just each other — we didn’t feel the need to have kids, not in the way my culture obsesses about it. Thirdly, my husband was dealing with some personal problems and I was fully focused on supporting him through these. These were issues that we needed to sort through before considering kids, if we were to want kids.

Yet I kept getting nudges to have kids, even though I never said anything about wanting them.

“So, when are you having kids?”

“This person’s baby is so cute, isn’t it? Why don’t you hurry up and birth a baby?”

It was as if I was some vehicle, some production machine to have kids, where my own views in the matter didn’t matter. The most frustrating thing was that I kept getting this question, while my husband would never get it (as a man), not even when we were in the same room together.

It was as if my sole reason for existence as a woman was to have kids, and until I had them, I was regarded as unworthy or incomplete.

The decision to have kids

Yet the decision to have children is a personal one. It is also a complex one. It is a decision that will permanently change the lives of the couple.

It is not a decision that one should be pressurized into making because their mom wants to carry grandchildren or their aunt wants to play with kids. It’s a decision that a couple should make because they genuinely want to nurture another life.

Because when a child is born, the people bugging others to have kids aren’t the ones who will be caring for the baby 24/7, whose lives will be set back by years (even decades) as they care for a new life, or who will be responsible for every decision concerning the child for the next 18-21 years.

It will be the couple.

And the people who aren’t ready, who were pressured into having kids because they were told that it was the best thing to do, may have to deal with regret as they are stuck with a decision they cannot undo. Because there are people who regret having kids, and we need to be honest about that. These people regret, not because of the child’s fault, but because they were simply not ready to have kids, be it financially, emotionally, or mentally. Unfortunately, the children are the ones who eventually suffer, from living in dysfunctional households to dealing with issues of violenceabuse, and anger.

We need to recognize these realities, and not make parenthood seem like it’s some magical band-aid that solves a lack of purpose or life’s pressures. Things don’t magically get better because people have kids; existing problems usually worsen as having a child puts a big strain on a couple’s lives. Digging into people’s plans to have kids, and pressurizing them into one of the biggest life decisions they can ever make, will only stress them out and perhaps push some into depression. As this redditor shared,

“I have a friend who went through 6 years of miscarriages and fertility treatments before the doctors figured out the problem and she had her son. The nosy ladies at her work and her in-laws questioned her constantly. The depression from that made it harder for her to conceive.”

Stop asking couples when they’re having kids

So, if you like to ask others when they’re having kids, it’s time to stop that. It’s rude, insensitive, and it disregards people’s privacy. It’s also none of your business.

The reality is that if people want kids, they will work on having kids. They don’t need you to prod them.

If they don’t have kids, it’s either because

  1. they don’t want kids,
  2. they have not thought about having kids but they don’t need you to prod them,
  3. they are not in a position to consider kids right now, or
  4. they want kids but they are facing some struggles.

For people in group (d), they aren’t going to share such deeply personal experience over some afternoon coffee chat, and certainly not by you asking, “When are you having kids?”

The best thing you can do is to give people space. Understand that having kids is a personal decision, and people don’t have to share or explain anything. Respect that others have their right to privacy. Respect that people are individuals on their own path, and this path may not involve having kids. And this doesn’t make them incomplete or lesser in any way.

Instead of asking people “When are you having kids?”, talk to them like you would to a normal person. There’s no reason why conversations should suddenly revolve around childbearing after marriage; it’s not like a person’s identity changes to revolve around having kids. A person still has their own passion, goals, and dreams. Talk to them about what they’ve been doing. Understand their interests. Know them as a real person, not some random being here to fulfill society’s checklist.

If you’re really interested in someone’s plan to have children, like I mentioned in the beginning, you can simply ask, “Do you have any plans for kids?” If they wish to share more, they will do so. If they give a half-hearted or evasive answer, then take the hint and move on.

Ultimately, having kids or not doesn’t change one’s self-worth. A woman is complete with or without kids. A marriage doesn’t need kids to be deemed complete. Having kids should be a conscious choice, not a result of external pressure. Don’t judge people by whether they have kids or not. Some people will have kids, and some people will not have kids. Some will have kids early, while some will have them later in life. All of these are different paths and there’s nothing wrong with them.

My husband and I eventually decided to have a baby and we now have our beloved baby girl. Yet other people’s comments and nudges to have children didn’t make me want to have children; it only irritated me and made me want to avoid these people, because having a child is a personal decision and has nothing to do with them. It was after we enjoyed married life without kids, and had the space to actively pursue our goals and interests, that we finally felt ready to try for a kid.

In the meantime, I hope all of you are doing well. There are things that I’m working on that I look forward to sharing in time to come. Sending lots of love to you, and remember that whatever life challenge you’re facing, you have it in you to overcome it.

anyone love mindset as much as me

If you’re anything like me, keeping commitments to yourself isn’t easy. Staying committed to others who are relying on us is simple enough, but why is it so hard to keep those commitments to ourselves?

When I say keeping a commitment to yourself, I mean doing what you say you’re going to do. If you say you’re going to start waking up earlier, sticking up for yourself, working fewer hours, or eating better, those are commitments to yourself that no one else is going to do for you.

Keeping commitments to yourself

But if you’re always setting goals and plans for yourself but can’t seem to follow through with them, you’re breaking the most important promise – the one with yourself. I found myself getting tired of doing this, so I decided it was time to keep the commitments I make for myself. 

In this post, I’m sharing some thoughts I’ve had about self-commitment and how I’m shifting my mindset to prioritize my goals, especially when my doubts try to talk me out of things.

Why do we break promises to ourselves?


Keeping commitments to yourself

Why is keeping commitments to yourself so difficult? How come it’s easier to keep commitments to other people? Why do we let ourselves down so often and prioritize everything else instead?

Maybe because we’re taught that it’s selfish to prioritize ourselves. The funny thing is, I KNOW deep down that it’s not selfish to focus on my own needs. I don’t consider people who go after their goals selfish (as long as it’s not at the expense of others of course), yet it’s something I still have trouble with. 

Perhaps it’s a problem of limiting beliefs; it’s easy to think that we’re not worthy of achieving or getting what we want. We talk ourselves out of things by thinking there are more important things to focus on. Even if we have the time, we find ways to avoid it.

We plan as if we’re going to get what we want — we make lists of things we want to change, things we want to achieve, and the type of person we want to be. But when it comes to making the changes, the little step-by-step things to get us there, we chicken out.

Yes, it’s okay to focus on you


Keeping commitments to yourself

The truth is that our goals are often lofty and perhaps outside of our comfort zone (which is a good thing!). The problem is when we set expectations that are too high for ourselves, or we become too afraid of failure that we avoid taking action. 

Instead of believing in our needs and wants, we focus on our doubts instead. There might be a little voice in your head that says you’ll ostracize yourself from others if you focus on pursuing what you want. If the people around you don’t share the same goals as you, you might worry that they’ll judge you (whether you succeed or fail).

In reality, learning to value your own goals and desires is the only way you’ll be able to get to where you want to be. Not only does keeping commitments to yourself get you further ahead, but you’ll also feel good about yourself because you kept a promise to yourself.

If a change needs to happen, you have to get a little uncomfortable by prioritizing yourself. It’s okay to be selfish sometimes. No one else is going to stick up for your time and get the things done that you want to do, so it’s important that you keep your promises to yourself.

Keeping commitments to yourself is the ultimate act of self-love. Staying true to your word shows that you value your own goals and desires. You are capable of upholding the promises you make to yourself.

How I’m keeping commitments to myself


Keeping commitments to yourself

So what’s changed within me to help me keep my commitments to myself? Here’s what’s been helping me feel okay with prioritizing the internal promises I make:

Get in the right mindset

I recently came across a TikTok video where a girl talked about going for ‘hot girl walks‘. She mentioned that while you’re going for a walk, the only things you’re allowed to think about are what you’re grateful for and the goals you want to achieve. That hot girl walk concept is a little silly to me, but I do like the intention behind it.

Since I saw that, I’ve been noticing more when my mindset turns negative. I try to notice when I’m being hard on myself or doubting my own abilities. The more I become aware of these moments, the better I can act accordingly to pull myself out of this mindset.

Each time I’m faced with something I don’t feel like doing (especially when it’s a commitment I made to myself), I pause for a moment and ask what I need to get me into a better state of mind. Often that’s putting on a playlist with uplifting songs and dancing around to make myself feel better. Don’t underestimate the power of a good playlist to get you in the right mindset.

Related Post: 5 Daily Habits For A Healthy Mindset


Repetition is key

Something I’ve found that helps with self-discipline and commitment is doing something at the same time every day (or in the same order every day). For example, I struggled for a long time to be consistent with daily exercise. 

I would tell myself to keep things interesting by switching up the time I did my workouts each day. Unfortunately this didn’t help with consistency at all. Often thinking about when I was going to do a workout took up more brain space than it really needed to.

What’s helped me to be super consistent over the past few months is working out first thing in the morning. My routine is to get up, go to the bathroom, drink some water, get changed into workout clothes, then do a workout. It’s the same order every morning which means that I don’t even have to think about what I’m doing to do. I’m still a little groggy at that time, so I don’t really give my brain a chance to try and get out of it.

Since I’ve made the commitment to exercise every morning and get up earlier, I don’t really lack motivation around it anymore. If I’m ever laying in bed and not wanting to get up, I think to myself, ‘I don’t want to fall back into my old habits’ and I force myself to get up out of bed.

Related Post: How To Have Self-Discipline When You’re Feeling Lazy


Follow your North node

I haven’t really talked about astrology on the blog before, but it’s something that I’m often exploring to learn more about myself. Of course, I’m hesitant about taking it too seriously, but discovering my North node is something that’s given me an extra dose of motivation to stay committed to myself.

The North node is essentially the traits you need to develop in order to fulfill your life’s purpose and find happiness. I discovered that my North Node is in Capricorn, which means that I need to stay disciplined, honor my desire for success, and go after my goals. My opposing South Node is in Cancer which means I’m prone to retreating from the world and dwelling on the past.

When I start falling back into old habits and thought patterns, I think about whether that’s helping me to fulfill my purpose. Often it’s not, so I encourage myself to focus on what will help me achieve my goals instead.

If you’re curious about finding your North node, you can do that here.


Question: What commitments do you want to keep to yourself?

Overall, I’ve learned that keeping commitments to yourself means getting your mindset right, repeating what works, and learning more about yourself so you can focus on what you need.

I encourage you to think of a goal or habit you’ve been wanting to master for a long time. Ask yourself why you haven’t been following through with it, and then make a commitment to go after what you want. After all, no one else is going to do it for you.

The post How To Keep Commitments To Yourself appeared first on The Blissful Mind.

Tremendous very interesting

First Fact: At some point during evolution between plankton and Bon Jovi, apes evolved the ability to become emotionally attached to one another. This emotional attachment would eventually come to be known as “love” and evolution would one day produce a bevy of singers from New Jersey who would make millions writing cheesy songs about it.

Second Fact: Humans evolved the ability to become attached to each other—that is, the ability to love each other—because it helped us survive.1 This isn’t exactly romantic or sexy, but it’s true.

We didn’t evolve big fangs or huge claws or insane gorilla strength. Instead, we evolved the ability to emotionally bond into communities and families where we became largely inclined to cooperate with one another.2 These communities and families turned out to be far more effective than any claw or any fang. Humanity soon dominated the planet.

Cavemen romantic love
Without developing emotional attachments to one another, we probably all would have been eaten by tigers at some point.

Third Fact: As humans, we instinctively develop loyalty and affection for those who show us the most loyalty and affection. This is all love really is: an irrational degree of loyalty and affection for another person—to the point that we’d let ourselves come to harm or even die for that person. It may sound insane, but it’s these symbiotic warm fuzzies that kept the species relying on one another long enough to survive the savannas and populate the planet and invent Netflix.

Fourth Fact: Let’s all take a moment and thank evolution for Netflix.

Fifth Fact: The ancient Greek philosopher Plato argued that the highest form of love was actually this non-sexual, non-romantic form of attachment to another person, this so-called “brotherly love.” Plato reasoned (correctly) that since passion and romance and sex often make us do ridiculous things that we regret, this sort of passionless love between two family members or between two close friends was the height of virtuous human experience. In fact, Plato, like most people in the ancient world, looked upon romantic love with skepticism, if not absolute horror.3

Sixth Fact: As with most things, Plato got it right before anybody else did. And this is why non-sexual love is often referred to as “platonic love.”

Seventh Fact: For most of human history, romantic love was looked upon as a kind of sickness.4 And if you think about it, it’s not hard to figure out why: romantic love causes people (especially young people) to do some stupid shit. Trust me. One time when I was 21, I skipped class, bought a bus ticket, and rode across three states to surprise a girl I was in love with. She freaked out and I was soon back on a bus heading home, just as single as when I came. What an idiot.

That bus ride seemed like a great idea at the time because it seemed like such a romantic idea. My emotions were going crazy the whole time. I was lost in a fantasy world and loving it. But now it’s just sort of an embarrassing thing I did back when I was young and dumb and didn’t know any better.

It’s this sort of poor decision-making that made the ancients skeptical of romantic love’s utility. Instead, many cultures treated it as some sort of unfortunate disease we all have to go through and get over in our lives, kind of like chickenpox. In fact, classic stories like The Iliad or Romeo and Juliet weren’t celebrations of love. They were warnings against the potential negative consequences of love, of how romantic love can potentially ruin everything.

See, for most of human history, people didn’t marry because of their feelings for one another. Feelings didn’t matter in the ancient world.

Why?

Because fuck feelings, there are fields to plow and cows to feed and holy crap Attila the Hun just massacred your entire extended family the next village over.

There was no time for romance. And certainly no tolerance for the risky behaviors it encouraged among people. There was too much life-or-death work to be accomplished. Marriage was meant for baby-making and sound finances.5 Romantic love, if permitted at all, was reserved for the heady realm of mistresses and fuckboys.

For most of human history, for the majority of humanity, their sustenance and survival hung by a tiny thread. People had shorter life expectancies than my mother’s cats. Everything you did had to be done for the simple sake of survival. Marriages were arranged by families not because they liked each other, and especially not because they loved each other, but because their farms went together nicely, and the families could share some wheat or barley when the next flood or drought hit.

Marriages were a purely economic arrangement designed to promote the survival and prosperity of both extended families. So if Junior gets the tingles in his pants and wants to run away with the milkmaid across town, this wasn’t just an inconvenience—this was a legitimate threat to the community’s survival. And it was treated as such. In fact, this kind of behavior was so treacherous in young men that most ancient societies cut a lot of young boy’s balls off so they wouldn’t have to deal with their philandering. This had a side benefit of producing excellent-sounding boys’ choirs.

It wasn’t until the industrial age that things began to change. People began to take up work in city centers and factories. Their income, and thus their economic future, was no longer tied to the land and they were able to make money independent of their family. They didn’t have to rely on inheritances or family connections the way people did in the ancient world, and so the economic and political components of marriage ceased to make much sense.

Industrial Age Romantic Love
Back in the olden days, marriage was seen as a duty, not something you did for personal fulfillment or emotional pleasure.

The new economic realities of the 19th century then cross-pollinated with the ideas that emerged from the Enlightenment about individual rights and the pursuit of happiness, and the result was a full-blown Age of Romanticism. Fuck the cattle, it was the 1800s and people’s feelings suddenly mattered. The new ideal was not only to marry for love but that that love was to live on in bliss for all of the eternity. Thus, it wasn’t until the relatively recent 150 years ago that the ever-popular “happily ever after” ideal was born.6

Then the 20th century rolled around, and in between Hitler and a few genocides, Hollywood and ad agencies grabbed hold of the “happily ever after” fantasy and beat it to death over the next 100 years.

The point here is that romance and all of the weight we tend to put on it is a modern invention, and primarily promoted and marketed by a bunch of businessmen who realized it will get you to pay for movie tickets and/or a new piece of jewelry. As Don Draper once said, “What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons.”

Early 20th Century Romantic Love
It wasn’t until people became economically independent that love (or emotions in general) became valued in society.

Romance is an easy sell. We all enjoy seeing the hero get the girl. We enjoy seeing the happy ending. We enjoy believing in “happily ever after.” It feels good. And so the commercial forces that arose in the 20th century took it and ran with it.

But romantic love, and love in general, is far more complicated than we’ve been led to believe by Hollywood movies or jewelry store ads. Nowhere do we hear that love can be unsexy drudgery. Or that love can sometimes be unpleasant or even painful, that it could potentially even be something we don’t want to feel at times. Or that love requires self-discipline and a certain amount of sustained effort over the course of years, decades, a lifetime.

These truths are not exciting. Nor do they sell well.

The painful truth about love is that the real work of a relationship begins after the curtain closes and the credits roll. The real work of a relationship is all the boring, dreary, unsexy things that nobody else sees or appreciates. Like most things in the media, the portrayal of love in pop culture is limited to the highlight reel. All the nuance and complexities of actually living through a relationship is swept away to make room for the exciting headline, the unjust separation, the crazy plot twist, and of course everyone’s favorite happy ending.

Most of us have been so inundated by these messages throughout our entire lives that we have come to mistake the excitement and drama of romance for the whole relationship itself. When we’re swept up by romance, we can’t imagine that anything could possibly go wrong between us and our partner. We can’t see their faults or failures, all we see is their limitless potential and possibility.

This is not love. This is a delusion. And like most delusions, things usually don’t end well.

Which brings me to the Eighth Fact: Just because you love somebody doesn’t mean you should be with them.

It’s possible to fall in love with somebody who doesn’t treat us well, who makes us feel worse about ourselves, who doesn’t hold the same respect for us as we do for them, or who has such a dysfunctional life themselves that they threaten to pull us underwater until we drown in their loving arms.

It’s possible to fall in love with somebody who has different ambitions or life goals that are contradictory to our own, who holds different philosophical beliefs or worldviews or whose life path merely weaves in the opposite direction at an inopportune time.

It’s possible to fall in love with somebody who sucks for us and our happiness.

This is why throughout most of human history, marriage was arranged by the parents. Because they were the ones with some objective perspective on whether their kid was marrying a fuckface or not.

But in the past few centuries, since young people were able to choose their partners themselves (which is a good thing), they instinctively overestimated love’s ability to overcome whatever issues or problems were present in their relationships (which is a bad thing).

This is the definition of a toxic or unhealthy relationship: people who don’t love each other for the person they are, but rather love each other in hopes that their feelings for each other will fill some horribly empty hole in their soul.

Ninth Fact: With greater personal freedom comes a greater requirement for personal responsibility and understanding. And it’s 100 years later and we’re just now gaining the ability to grapple with the responsibilities love brings with it.

People in toxic relationships don’t love each other. They love the idea of each other. They’re in love with the fantasy that is constantly playing out in their head. And instead of ditching the fantasy and getting with the person in front of them, they spend all of their will and energy interpreting and conforming the person in front of them to fit the fantasy they keep spinning for themselves.

And why?

Because they don’t know any better. Or they’re afraid of the vulnerability required to love someone selflessly and healthily.

A few centuries ago, people hated romantic love. They were afraid of it, skeptical of its power and weary of its ability to tilt everyone it touched into making bad choices.

A couple centuries ago, free from the confines of the farm and mom and dad’s approving or disapproving hand, people then overestimated love. They idealized it and willed it to wash away all of their problems and pain forever.

But people are just now starting to figure out that while love is great, that by itself, love is not enough.

That love should not be the cause of your relationships but rather their effect. That love should not define our lives but rather be a by-product of it. That just because someone makes you feel more alive doesn’t mean that you should necessarily live for them.

Nobody talks about the fact that greater personal freedom grants greater opportunities to fuck things up. And it creates greater opportunities to hurt other people. The great liberation of romantic love has brought incredible life experiences into the world. But it’s also brought the necessity for a realistic, honest approach to relationships that accommodates the painful realities of spending a life together.

Some people say in this age of ghosting and swipe-right, that romance is dead. Romance is not dead. It’s merely being postponed—relegated to a safe space where both people need to build a certain degree of comfort and trust before they go bleeding-heart bonkers for one another.

And perhaps that’s actually a good thing.

Footnotes

  1. And attachment is as important to survival today as it ever was. See: Green, M., & Scholes, M. (Eds.). (2004). Attachment and human survival (pp. xi, 164). Karnac Books.
  2. For a review of the evolution of human cooperation, see: Henrich, J., & Muthukrishna, M. (2021). The Origins and Psychology of Human Cooperation. Annual Review of Psychology, 72(1), 207–240.
  3. For a 100-page deep dive into the topic, see: Kelsen, H. (1942). Platonic Love. American Imago, 3(1/2), 3–110.
  4. See: Caston, R. R. (2006). Love as Illness: Poets and Philosophers on Romantic Love. The Classical Journal, 101(3), 271–298.
  5. See this study for an economic analysis of marriage for the purpose of propagation (a.k.a. baby-making), and this book chapter for the role of marriage in finances in olden-day China.
  6. For more on this heady era, see: Schneider, J. F. (2007). The Age of Romanticism (Illustrated edition). Westport: Greenwood.

Planets best mindset fan !

If you’re anything like me, keeping commitments to yourself isn’t easy. Staying committed to others who are relying on us is simple enough, but why is it so hard to keep those commitments to ourselves?

When I say keeping a commitment to yourself, I mean doing what you say you’re going to do. If you say you’re going to start waking up earlier, sticking up for yourself, working fewer hours, or eating better, those are commitments to yourself that no one else is going to do for you.

Keeping commitments to yourself

But if you’re always setting goals and plans for yourself but can’t seem to follow through with them, you’re breaking the most important promise – the one with yourself. I found myself getting tired of doing this, so I decided it was time to keep the commitments I make for myself. 

In this post, I’m sharing some thoughts I’ve had about self-commitment and how I’m shifting my mindset to prioritize my goals, especially when my doubts try to talk me out of things.

Why do we break promises to ourselves?


Keeping commitments to yourself

Why is keeping commitments to yourself so difficult? How come it’s easier to keep commitments to other people? Why do we let ourselves down so often and prioritize everything else instead?

Maybe because we’re taught that it’s selfish to prioritize ourselves. The funny thing is, I KNOW deep down that it’s not selfish to focus on my own needs. I don’t consider people who go after their goals selfish (as long as it’s not at the expense of others of course), yet it’s something I still have trouble with. 

Perhaps it’s a problem of limiting beliefs; it’s easy to think that we’re not worthy of achieving or getting what we want. We talk ourselves out of things by thinking there are more important things to focus on. Even if we have the time, we find ways to avoid it.

We plan as if we’re going to get what we want — we make lists of things we want to change, things we want to achieve, and the type of person we want to be. But when it comes to making the changes, the little step-by-step things to get us there, we chicken out.

Yes, it’s okay to focus on you


Keeping commitments to yourself

The truth is that our goals are often lofty and perhaps outside of our comfort zone (which is a good thing!). The problem is when we set expectations that are too high for ourselves, or we become too afraid of failure that we avoid taking action. 

Instead of believing in our needs and wants, we focus on our doubts instead. There might be a little voice in your head that says you’ll ostracize yourself from others if you focus on pursuing what you want. If the people around you don’t share the same goals as you, you might worry that they’ll judge you (whether you succeed or fail).

In reality, learning to value your own goals and desires is the only way you’ll be able to get to where you want to be. Not only does keeping commitments to yourself get you further ahead, but you’ll also feel good about yourself because you kept a promise to yourself.

If a change needs to happen, you have to get a little uncomfortable by prioritizing yourself. It’s okay to be selfish sometimes. No one else is going to stick up for your time and get the things done that you want to do, so it’s important that you keep your promises to yourself.

Keeping commitments to yourself is the ultimate act of self-love. Staying true to your word shows that you value your own goals and desires. You are capable of upholding the promises you make to yourself.

How I’m keeping commitments to myself


Keeping commitments to yourself

So what’s changed within me to help me keep my commitments to myself? Here’s what’s been helping me feel okay with prioritizing the internal promises I make:

Get in the right mindset

I recently came across a TikTok video where a girl talked about going for ‘hot girl walks‘. She mentioned that while you’re going for a walk, the only things you’re allowed to think about are what you’re grateful for and the goals you want to achieve. That hot girl walk concept is a little silly to me, but I do like the intention behind it.

Since I saw that, I’ve been noticing more when my mindset turns negative. I try to notice when I’m being hard on myself or doubting my own abilities. The more I become aware of these moments, the better I can act accordingly to pull myself out of this mindset.

Each time I’m faced with something I don’t feel like doing (especially when it’s a commitment I made to myself), I pause for a moment and ask what I need to get me into a better state of mind. Often that’s putting on a playlist with uplifting songs and dancing around to make myself feel better. Don’t underestimate the power of a good playlist to get you in the right mindset.

Related Post: 5 Daily Habits For A Healthy Mindset


Repetition is key

Something I’ve found that helps with self-discipline and commitment is doing something at the same time every day (or in the same order every day). For example, I struggled for a long time to be consistent with daily exercise. 

I would tell myself to keep things interesting by switching up the time I did my workouts each day. Unfortunately this didn’t help with consistency at all. Often thinking about when I was going to do a workout took up more brain space than it really needed to.

What’s helped me to be super consistent over the past few months is working out first thing in the morning. My routine is to get up, go to the bathroom, drink some water, get changed into workout clothes, then do a workout. It’s the same order every morning which means that I don’t even have to think about what I’m doing to do. I’m still a little groggy at that time, so I don’t really give my brain a chance to try and get out of it.

Since I’ve made the commitment to exercise every morning and get up earlier, I don’t really lack motivation around it anymore. If I’m ever laying in bed and not wanting to get up, I think to myself, ‘I don’t want to fall back into my old habits’ and I force myself to get up out of bed.

Related Post: How To Have Self-Discipline When You’re Feeling Lazy


Follow your North node

I haven’t really talked about astrology on the blog before, but it’s something that I’m often exploring to learn more about myself. Of course, I’m hesitant about taking it too seriously, but discovering my North node is something that’s given me an extra dose of motivation to stay committed to myself.

The North node is essentially the traits you need to develop in order to fulfill your life’s purpose and find happiness. I discovered that my North Node is in Capricorn, which means that I need to stay disciplined, honor my desire for success, and go after my goals. My opposing South Node is in Cancer which means I’m prone to retreating from the world and dwelling on the past.

When I start falling back into old habits and thought patterns, I think about whether that’s helping me to fulfill my purpose. Often it’s not, so I encourage myself to focus on what will help me achieve my goals instead.

If you’re curious about finding your North node, you can do that here.


Question: What commitments do you want to keep to yourself?

Overall, I’ve learned that keeping commitments to yourself means getting your mindset right, repeating what works, and learning more about yourself so you can focus on what you need.

I encourage you to think of a goal or habit you’ve been wanting to master for a long time. Ask yourself why you haven’t been following through with it, and then make a commitment to go after what you want. After all, no one else is going to do it for you.

The post How To Keep Commitments To Yourself appeared first on The Blissful Mind.

love the fanpage

By Leo Babauta

At the end of a day of work, there can be a simple practice of wrapping things up and shutting down for the day.

But so many of us feel guilty at simply stopping, and this feeling that we should be doing more … it drives some of us to keep going as long as we can.

This can lead to overwork, burnout, tiredness, and never letting ourselves enjoy a moment of rest.

Do you relate to this guilt of simply stopping and resting?

The thing about this guilt is that it doesn’t have to be rational — it’s simply fear, that we’re not doing enough, that we’re not on top of things, that we’re not going to be OK if we don’t get everything done.

I know this fear well. I still have it, on a daily basis. It’s not rational, but then fear never is.

This fear will control us if we don’t bring a kind awareness to it, and start to work with us. It will own us, and we’ll always be checking our phones, replying to messages, stuck in perpetual motion. Rest becomes difficult, joy becomes mostly inaccessible.

Here’s how I work with this guilt and fear:

  1. Recognize it when it’s happening. When it’s late in the day, and we could be wrapping things up and closing our work day … notice the urge to do more. Notice the guilt of stopping. Just bring awareness to the fear and guilt, without judging them or needing them to go away.
  2. Breathe, and feel it. Pause, take a few deep breaths, and don’t let yourself buy into the fear. Feel the physical sensation of the fear, but don’t believe it. Give yourself some kindness.
  3. Remind yourself of a bigger truth. The idea that you should be on top of everything and working harder and checking emails and messages … it feels really true in the moment. But it is very rarely true. What’s a bigger truth? That you need rest to be able to serve others. That you are allowed to do other things, to spend time with others, to take care of yourself, to feel joy at spaciousness in your life. And this is a model for how others might live too. Taking rest serves the world. Remind yourself of this truth.
  4. Then take the rest. Feel in your heart how this is worthwhile. And let yourself enjoy the space. You don’t need to fill every moment with more work, more messages, more email.

How would you like to practice with this for yourself?

The post The Guilt of Not Working More, When We’re Done for the Day appeared first on zen habits.