Cool thanks really good more on self-improvement please

2020

I started writing this post by trying to take stock of a few things about this year that were good.

The process was easier than I expected. Sure, 2020 has been a dumpster fire year in many ways. But when I really stopped to think about it, it wasn’t hard to identify several things in my life that wouldn’t have happened were it not for the world coming to a stop.

I began learning a lot more, for example. I used to identify as a “lifelong learner,” and at some point it became one of those things I said about myself that was more true in the past than in the present.

So this year, especially in the past few months, I’ve returned to active learning. On average, I’ve been reading and studying at least two hours a day. It feels great! And I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have happened if I was traveling half the time, hosting events all over the place, and starting tons of new projects.

That’s not the only thing on the list. It’s always possible to find silver linings, and in a brief examination I found several.

***

But as I made my notes, I realized that there was something even more important that was hard to put into words, or at least into a short bullet point on a list. Somewhere through this process, something else happened that far eclipses everything else.

Here’s the best way I know to put it: in 2020, I gained more awareness for daily life than I had before. I began to notice things I’d missed before.

Some might call it “living in the moment,” though I wouldn’t use that phrase myself since I’ve never been good at such a thing. But I don’t doubt the merit of living with intention and trying to appreciate each part of it as much as possible.

So for me, somewhere along the bumpy course of 2020, I simply began to notice more. I saw things I’d missed before. I gained a heightened sensitivity to dynamics I’d previously overlooked.

I also learned to appreciate a new routine that was much quieter. Travel-wise, I haven’t left the United States since February. This is not only a record for me, I’m pretty sure it’s a twenty-year record. There was a time not too long ago when I went completely around the world at least once a month. Now I go down the street to pick up food and carry it back to my home.

ShutHappens

We can, if we so desire, learn to see everything that is both terrible and wonderful about the pandemic time vortex. In a year in which so many of our choices have been shown to be illusory, this choice remains.

The lesson isn’t as simple as “Slow down and take it easy.” Not at all!

One of the things I was most looking forward to this year was a big tour for my new book, The Money Tree. I haven’t done a proper tour to meet readers all across North America for a long time, and I wanted to go all-out.

Like so many other people, those plans had to change. Instead of going to forty cities, I went to … zero. 🤷🏼‍♂️

It’s not like I’m turning my back on my old way of life. If I was able to tour like I’d planned, I would have happily done so. And I look forward to being able to do it again.

But instead of complaining about this year, feeling a sense of loss over not being able to do what I’d planned, more and more I’m feeling a real sense of gratitude. I am thankful for this forced adjustment, truly.

Lately I’ve been reminding myself that most pain comes from focusing on either the past or the future—neither of which we can really do much about. By not worrying about all the things we can’t control, we can become more centered in our intentions to influence the few that we can.

So I’d like to say thank you to the year known as 2020, for showing me (again and again!) the importance of living for each day.

Oh, and thank YOU, dear reader, for coming to my blog and taking the time to read these posts. I don’t take your attention for granted. I hope to always deliver something helpful or interesting to you.

For the record, I do look forward to 2021. But I’m not quite counting the days, because it will come in due time. As Sir Paul McCartney wrote: There will be an answer, let it be.

###

P.S. Every year I try to remember people who might be feeling sad during the holidays. If that’s you, please read this post.

Planets biggest mindset super fan !

%%sitename%% | The Self-Improvement Blog | Self-Esteem | Self Confidence

public speakingl

There are so many ways that we can improve our lives so that we can reach our full potential. Public speaking is one simple way. Public speaking makes it possible to influence people and make a difference in your life and the lives around you.

We all want to improve our lives as much as we possibly can so that we can thoroughly enjoy our time on this planet, whether that be physically by getting in shape, spiritually by strengthening our minds, or financially using available tools such as https://insidertrades.com/. After all, money doesn’t buy happiness, but it does allow for comfort and stability.

We are at a time in our lives where we have access to unlimited self-improvement articles online. There are so many great websites touching on self-improvement tips. It is interesting that with all of these articles mentioning self-improvement that public speaking is not often mentioned.

Public Speaking

Public speaking is one of the most important aspects of communication that a lot of people in the world utilize daily. Good public speaking skills allow us to motive ourselves and the people around us. It allows us to influence people and help people make educated decisions. Public speaking boosts confidence while also allowing opportunities for career and personal development. There are so many reasons to be a better public speaker, and here are a few tips.

Public Speaking Tips

1. Being nervous is completely normal.

That is why it is so important to breathe, practice, and prepare. Before you go onto the stage, take a minute to practice deep breathing. Take three deep breaths in and out. If you are reading a speech that you have prepared, read that speech as many times out loud as you possibly can leading up to your public speech. Make sure you are completely comfortable with what you need to say. And be confident in your ability.

2. Remember who you are speaking to.

Whenever you are speaking publicly, it’s important to keep your audience in mind. If you are speaking to a group of young school children, for instance, you might not want to use words that are too large so that they don’t understand. You want to form your speaking points to cater to the audience, not just yourself.

3. Organize, and open strong.

You want to make sure that your speech opens strong. Grab the audience’s attention at the start of the speech so that they want to listen to what you have to say. If you don’t start strong then you will lose them before you have even begone. It’s also important to organize your speech in a way that allows the audience to follow easily. Organization is everything.

4. Humor them.

People love to laugh, and if the audience is laughing then you will also have a more enjoyable experience giving the speech. If you are able to humor your audience, it will allow you to connect with them and they will want to listen to you.

5. Be aware of your body and try to appear confident.

Stand tall with your shoulders back and don’t make nervous gestures. Be aware of where your hands are at so that you appear very confident. If you look and feel confident then the audience will respect you and want to hear what you have to say.

6. Use personal stories.

In the article, “Want to be a Better Speaker? Do What the Pros Do,” it is mentioned that personal stories can make or break a public speaking performance. You want to make sure that you are able to relate to your audience and personal stories are perfect. It lets them know who you are and allows them to feel connected to you as a person. Building a connection with the audience is really important.

There are so many reasons why being a better public speaker could make our life better. Don’t let now being able to speak publicly hinder your life and keep you from reaching full potential. You will be surprised how good speaking can benefit your life in so many ways.

 

%%focuskw%% | How Learning Public Speaking Can Benefit You

who else really gets method

Back in the spring of 2020, we each got a front-row seat to the wonders of the human capacity to cope with rampant uncertainty. Within weeks, people developed wild and unhinged beliefs about the virus, health care workers, their leaders and their countries.

Some rebelled and channeled their angst outward. Crime spiked. Protests raged across the world. Others turned inward. Suicides and depression reportedly skyrocketed. Anxiety ran rampant. People became burnt out and went stir crazy.

Others distracted themselves. Video games, alcohol, and drugs surged. Anything to “take the edge off.”

Pandemics seem almost perfectly catered to prey on humanity’s greatest psychological weakness: fear of the unknown.

It’s the rare occasion when everyone’s life gets sideswiped and we are all forced to sit in a vast uncertainty for an extended period of time. How deadly is the virus? We don’t know. How long will this last? No idea. Are the drastic social precautions worth it? Maybe—maybe not. Are there effective treatments? Perhaps. Also perhaps not. Is the virus influenced by the weather, by genetics, by geography? Probably, maybe, and, uh… shrug?

Looking back, what’s amazing is that almost nothing said during those first few months turned out to be true. Everyone was so wrong… yet so certain.

It’s ironic that we tend to grasp onto our beliefs the hardest when we are least likely to know if they are actually true. But, I will argue that is the point. The harder we cling to our beliefs and assumptions, the more we are protected from that yawning fear of the unknown.

And that’s what gets us into trouble.

Why Do We Fear the Unknown?

Any time we take an action with some uncertainty of outcome, we are taking a risk. You skip lunch to get work done, understanding that you may feel like a box of cat turds by mid-afternoon. You call your ex to patch things up fully knowing that you might be screaming bloody murder at each other by the third minute. You buy your friend a gift totally understanding that they may hate it.

Because there is always some uncertainty in life, there is always some risk in life. What keeps us sane when making these decisions in the face of uncertainty is being able to properly weigh the potential costs and benefits of each risk. If the uncertainty feels manageable, then we can feel okay about our decisions. “I’ve gone without lunch before, I can do it again…” and so on.

It’s when we don’t know what we’re risking — when there is so much uncertainty that we can’t even begin to calculate in our heads what we’re giving up and what we’re gaining —  that we tend to shit the bed.

When there is so much uncertainty that we no longer know how risky any given choice is, then it’s like our brain short-circuits and we don’t know what to do with ourselves.

In these situations of great uncertainty, our animalistic instincts kick and we assume the worst. After all, if there is so much uncertainty that you have no idea what to do, you might as well operate off the worst case scenario in order to protect yourself.

This is why uncertainty produces anxiety. When we have no clue what to say to someone, we assume they will laugh at us no matter what we do. When we don’t know anything about our new boss, we tend to imagine that they will be a huge bag of dicks. When we feel sick and don’t know why, we immediately assume it must be Cancer of the Everything.

Basically, our unconscious mind, when seeing that we don’t know if something is a threat or not, goes on to assume that it is. It decides, “better the devil I know than the devil I don’t.”

Photo by Kevin Jesus Horacio on Unsplash

Why Too Much Uncertainty Can Be Bad for You

When there’s uncertainty about what’s going on around us, we see our entire immediate environment as a threat.1 When we’re uncertain about what will happen in the future, we see the future itself as a threat.2 And when we’re uncertain of what’s going on with our body, we assume it’s cancer.

Learning to tolerate high amounts of uncertainty is an important skill that we must develop. If we don’t learn how to deal with uncertainty, it can affect our mental health. Anxiety and depression,3,4,5 OCD,6 and even eating disorders7 are all associated with a poor tolerance for uncertainty, a greater fear of the unknown.

But even if the fear of the unknown doesn’t lead to mental illness, it can cause us to worry way too much,8 make bad decisions with our money,9,10 perform poorly at work,11 and generally just make us miserable to be around.

And when the fear of the unknown spreads throughout an entire culture, people tend to resort to dogmatism and authoritarianism.12 Cultures who fear the unknown and crave more certainty tend to be more corrupt, less tolerant of dissenting ideas, and less trusting than cultures who are more comfortable with uncertainty.13 Basically, if an entire society collectively fears the unknown, they will defer to authority and not rock the boat.

Many people would rather be subject to an all-powerful figure or institution than risk the unknown if that figure or entity promises to provide more certainty in their lives, even if the reality of that certainty is kind of awful.

Again, it’s the devil you know.

And that devil lives between your ears.

But… Certainty Is an Illusion

There are few certainties in life. Maybe none.14 Because of this, we spend so much of our time and energy constructing expectations around what’s going to happen in our lives. We build calendars, create schedules, make appointments, generate habits and routines, set guidelines and goals, follow rules, all in a constant effort to battle back that sense of uncertainty.

But sometimes this desire for order goes too far. Just like governments and institutions can conjure the illusion of stability by oppressing their citizens, your own mind can be deluded into certainty by rigidly chaining itself to inflexible beliefs and routines.

When a global pandemic was thrust upon the world, the uncertainty of it all caused a collective shit-spasm everywhere and people (understandably) freaked out.

But it didn’t take long for a lot of people to become “certain” that they knew what was going on. Some saw it as little more than a “bad flu” while others believed the world was about to change forever, if not end all together! Conspiracy theories proliferated at an astonishing rate and just kept getting more and more ridiculous as time passed.

The truth was—and still is—we just don’t know what the fuck is going on.

But most people can’t just sit with uncertainty. And so the way most people deal with this fear of not knowing is by imagining certainty. The anxiety of it all is just too much to bear, so we’ll gladly trade it for delusional certitude, no matter how ignorantly we came about it.

Uncertainty - paddle boarder on open water
Photo by Kirk Wheeler on Unsplash

And yet, that doesn’t change the fact just because you feel certain about something, it doesn’t mean it’s true. Actually knowing something is true and the feeling of knowing something is true are two different things, and one can occur without the other.15

To be healthy and happy, we have to strike a sweet spot. We have to admit that there’s some uncertainty in the world, because that is what will keep us open to change, allow us to learn, and help us adapt to challenges. But, at the same time, we need to feel some degree of certainty as well, so that we can feel a sense of security and at least pretend we know what we’re doing. The question is, where is that balance?

How to Live with Uncertainty in Your Life

At least some degree of tolerance for uncertainty is required to grow and thrive in the world.

So how do you sit with uncertainty? How to face the fear of the unknown?

1. Get Good at Feeling Bad

A central tenet of my philosophy is that the more we avoid negative emotions, the more those emotions will paradoxically screw us over at some point.

Ignoring the fact that you’re angry only causes that anger to well up and then explode at some inopportune moment.

Ignoring the resentment you harbor for your parents and pretending everything is fine between you only festers over time and puts a strain on your relationship that can last for years, if not your entire life.

And ignoring the anxiety and discomfort you feel in the face of uncertainty only makes your anxiety about uncertainty worse.

There’s some interesting research that links mobile phone usage with increased anxiety towards uncertainty.16 It’s correlational data at this point, so we can’t make any strong causal claims, but the idea behind it makes sense.

The theory goes that when you engage in this type of escapism by burying your face in your phone, you’re reducing your exposure to everyday uncertainty. And when you don’t have experience dealing with everyday uncertainty in your life, each subsequent uncertainty becomes that much more difficult to handle.

It’s like if you were never exposed to any germs of any kind, your immune system would never be able fight off any infections because it never “learned” how to fight off any infections.

Make yourself more resilient towards uncertainty… by sitting with uncertainty.

2. Build Compounding Habits and Routines

Dealing with uncertainty of the unknown is a lot easier when you exert agency over the parts of your life you can control. One way this happens is that building habits and routines in the most important areas of your life can counterbalance the uncertainty we feel by providing some stability.

Again, stability is not the same as certainty. A person, group, or even society might be able to absorb more uncertainty, which ultimately makes them more robust and stable. But being robust and stable is no guarantee of the certainty of your robustness and stability.

I’d say the real benefit is that building healthy habits brings you face-to-face with what you can and cannot control in your life. This, in turn, makes you more comfortable with uncertainty.

For example, virtually all the habit research out there suggests that your willpower is far less important than your environment when creating and maintaining healthy habits.

So you can’t really control when you’re going to crave cake and ice cream, but you can control what you buy at the grocery store. If you skip the junk food and instead keep a stash of healthy snacks in the fridge, you’re far, far less likely to pig out on cake and ice cream in those inevitable moments of weakness.

It’s a subtle shift in thinking that has a huge impact: you have very little control over how you’re going to feel at any given moment, but you have a lot of control over the environment in which those feelings will occur. So focus on creating the best environment for yourself.

Once your thinking shifts to this, you’ll start to say to yourself, “Okay, I can’t control X, but what can I do to make the best possible outcome more likely to happen?”

Over time, you’ll start to accept uncertainty as just another part of life because you’ll begin to see that “not knowing” isn’t a dead end, that you have control over some things even if you don’t over others.

Another example: I can never be certain that I’ll be in peak creative form whenever I sit down to write something.

But I can control whether or not I show up, sit my ass down, and start writing. The muse may or may not strike me on any given day. I can’t control that.

I might only have a 30%-40% chance of producing something worth reading on any given day, but that drops to 0% if I don’t show up at all (I guess we can be certain of that).

So when I have a shit day of writing, I’m not too bothered by the uncertainty of it—of thinking that I might not ever write anything worth reading again—because I know that as long as I continue to show up and do the work, something good will eventually come of it.

And speaking of writing…

3. Get Creative

Being more tolerant of uncertainty is linked with being more creative.17,18 It’s not clear if tolerating uncertainty makes you more creative or if being creative makes you tolerate more uncertainty, but I would guess it’s almost certainly a two-way street.

When you’re creating something new—even if it’s only new to you—you have to face the uncertainty of not knowing how it will turn out, how others will receive it, and whether or not it will fail or succeed at fulfilling your intentions.

So more creative people are probably more comfortable with uncertainty to begin with, but I’d argue it works in reverse too: their exposure to more uncertainty also makes them more creative as well.

I’m facing the unknown every time I sit down to write. That gives me direct experience with uncertainty every day.

Then, once my ass is in the chair and I’m writing, I’m diving deeper into the unknown. I’m saying, “Hey, there’s something here I’ve never seen/felt/experienced. I wonder what that’s about…” and I follow it.

It’s in this nebulous unknown area of the universe within our minds where ideas get mixed and remixed, where connections are found between far-distant concepts, where creation really occurs.

Every creative work ever done has started with asking a question about the unknown and then trying to come up with an answer.

Opportunity in the Unknown

We live in a weird time where we have more information than ever before. Yet that information is confusing and often causes more uncertainty.

You would think having access to anything you could ever want to know would make us more certain. But the problem is that for everything you find that could be true, there are three people saying it’s not true.

Therefore, this constant need to cope with uncertainty is strangely a 21st-century problem. The greater the number of opportunities and the greater the rate of social change, the more confusion and uncertainty that arises.

That’s why it’s more important than ever before to get good at sustaining and tolerating the fear of the unknown.

Cover image by Warren Wong on Unsplash

Footnotes

  1. Tanaka, Y., Fujino, J., Ideno, T., Okubo, S., Takemura, K., Miyata, J., Kawada, R., Fujimoto, S., Kubota, M., Sasamoto, A., Hirose, K., Takeuchi, H., Fukuyama, H., Murai, T., & Takahashi, H. (2015). Are ambiguity aversion and ambiguity intolerance identical? A neuroeconomics investigation. Frontiers in Psychology, 5.
  2. Buhr, K., & Dugas, M. J. (2009). The role of fear of anxiety and intolerance of uncertainty in worry: An experimental manipulation. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 47(3), 215–223.
  3. Gentes, E. L., & Ruscio, A. M. (2011). A meta-analysis of the relation of intolerance of uncertainty to symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, and obsessive–compulsive disorder. Clinical Psychology Review, 31(6), 923–933. 
  4. Carleton, R. N., Mulvogue, M. K., Thibodeau, M. A., McCabe, R. E., Antony, M. M., & Asmundson, G. J. G. (2012). Increasingly certain about uncertainty: Intolerance of uncertainty across anxiety and depression. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 26(3), 468–479.
  5. Andersen, S. M., & Schwartz, A. H. (1992). Intolerance of Ambiguity and Depression: A Cognitive Vulnerability Factor Linked to Hopelessness. Social Cognition, 10(3), 271–298.
  6. Tolin, D. F., Abramowitz, J. S., Brigidi, B. D., & Foa, E. B. (2003). Intolerance of uncertainty in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 17(2), 233–242.
  7. Brown, M., Robinson, L., Campione, G. C., Wuensch, K., Hildebrandt, T., & Micali, N. (2017). Intolerance of Uncertainty in Eating Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. European Eating Disorders Review, 25(5), 329–343.
  8. Dugas, M. J., Freeston, M. H., & Ladouceur, R. (1997). Intolerance of Uncertainty and Problem Orientation in Worry. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 21(6), 593–606.
  9. Bossaerts, P., Ghirardato, P., Guarnaschelli, S., & Zame, W. R. (2010). Ambiguity in Asset Markets: Theory and Experiment. Review of Financial Studies, 23(4), 1325–1359.
  10. Mukerji, S., & Tallon, J.-M. (2001). Ambiguity Aversion and Incompleteness of Financial Markets. The Review of Economic Studies, 68(4), 883–904.
  11. Frone, M. R. (1990). Intolerance of Ambiguity as a Moderator of the Occupational Role Stress-Strain Relationship: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 11(4), 309–320.
  12. Stanley Budner, N. Y. (1962). Intolerance of ambiguity as a personality variable. Journal of Personality, 30(1), 29–50.
  13. Rapp, J. K., Bernardi, R. A., & Bosco, S. M. (2010). Examining The Use Of Hofstede’s Uncertainty Avoidance Construct In International Research: A 25-Year Review. International Business Research, 4(1), p3.
  14. Well, OK: death and taxes. Fine.
  15. I talked about this in this article. Your brain has completely independent processes for “knowing” and “feeling like you know”—and each of functions independently of logic and reason. See Dr. Robert Burton’s book On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not.
  16. Carleton, R. N., Desgagné, G., Krakauer, R., & Hong, R. Y. (2019). Increasing intolerance of uncertainty over time: The potential influence of increasing connectivity. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 48(2), 121–136.
  17. Merrotsy, P. (2013). Tolerance of Ambiguity: A Trait of the Creative Personality? Creativity Research Journal, 25(2), 232–237.
  18. Zenasni, F., Besançon, M., & Lubart, T. (2008). Creativity and Tolerance of Ambiguity: An Empirical Study. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 42(1), 61–73.

such a great post

Stop Asking Couples When They Are Having Kids

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

Caught off guard, I replied matter-of-factly, “I have not decided if I want to have kids.” Little did I realize that I would spend the next hour listening to stories of women who put off having children until it was too late, as well as women who had difficulty conceiving for various reasons, with the implicit message being that I was going to regret it if I didn’t hurry and work on producing babies.

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

Lest you think that it ends after having a child, it doesn’t. The people who previously tried to tell 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. It seems like this questioning process never ends.

The problem with asking people “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 script that we’ve been told is *the* way of life, that would bring us ultimate joy and happiness.

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, somehow expecting you to give them a straight answer to what is really a personal question.

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

1) There are many different paths to happiness

Firstly, everyone has their own path in life. 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. At the end of the day, having kids isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There are significant ups and downs that come with having a kid, and for some people, the ups do not justify the downs. For these people, it may simply be better to remain childless, rather than having kids just to fit in or to fit societal expectations, and then set their lives up for unhappiness. To assume that everyone should have kids, just because you think that having kids is great and important, 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, but has instead dedicated herself to her personal life 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 some 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 politican 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 (the actress for Peter Parker’s aunt in Tom Holland’s Spider Man film series), 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 this 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 people need to realize that.

2) You may well 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 couples 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.

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 just wasn’t thinking about kids. Firstly, having a child is a lifelong decision, and I wanted to enjoy married life with my husband before diving into a decision as serious as that. Secondly, both my husband and I were genuinely happy spending the rest of our lives with just each other — we didn’t feel the need to have kids at all, 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 in question.

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 tend 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 about it.

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

  1. they really don’t want kids,
  2. they are not in a position to consider kids right now, or
  3. they want kids but they are facing some struggles.

For people in group (c), 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 their personal 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 women or couples, “When are you having kids?”, talk to them like how you would 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, you can simply ask, “Are you and your partner planning to have kids?” If they wish to share more, they will do so. If they give a generic answer, then take the hint and move on.

Ultimately, having kids or not doesn’t change a person’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.

For Me

For my husband and I, we eventually had a few discussions and decided to have a baby, and had our baby girl this year (2020). 😊 Yet other people’s comments and nudges to have children didn’t make me want to have children; it only annoyed me and made me want to avoid these people, because having a child is a personal decision between me and my husband, that has nothing to do with them. It was after we had the space to settle down and enjoy married life without kids, and took some time to actively pursue our goals and interests, that we finally felt ready to try for a kid last year.

In the meantime, I hope all of you are doing well. There are other things that I’m working on, other things that are happening 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. I’ll talk to you guys soon! 🙂

anyone love method as much as me

By Leo Babauta

Contemplating on how I want to live recently, I became clear in the last few months that I needed to create more space in my life.

My life is full, which is a wonderful thing — I have lots of people in my life who care about me, want to spend time with me, want to work with me. Amazing!

And yet, it’s become clear to me that in order to show up fully for everyone I’m serving … I need to also have space to replenish. To fill up my tank.

So I set out to create that space.

Here’s how it looks for me at the moment:

  • I’m taking Decembers and Junes off, mostly: I had to talk with all of my clients and shift my programs so that I could do this, but it’s happening! It also means I did a bunch of writing ahead of time. I am still doing some work, including creating a new course and setting intentions for 2021, but I’m not doing client calls, webinars or meetings. This month is the first time I’ve ever taken off a full month!
  • I cleared Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays: I used to have meetings on Fridays and Saturdays, but now I keep those days clear. I still do some work, but it’s much more spacious and I can take the days completely off if I feel like it.
  • I’m leaving the other days more spacious as well: I only do about 3 calls a day (down from 5-6 calls a day at my peak) and I don’t block off every hour anymore, so that I can have a greater sense of spaciousness.

What do I do in those spaces?

Anything I feel like!

Here are some of my more common ways to use the space:

  • Rest
  • Head out to nature & spend some time in solitude
  • Listen to a podcast
  • Read with my kids
  • Hang with my wife
  • Call my mom, grandma or siblings to catch up
  • Read a book
  • Reflect on bigger picture stuff
  • Take care of chores
  • Write a book about my grandmother
  • Or do whatever work I feel like

I’ve found that this kind of space is incredibly nurturing, replenishing, life-giving. And so few of us take it for ourselves.

I know that not everyone has this kind of freedom, and I am grateful that I can do it. But I challenge you to see where you’re cutting this possibility off for yourself, and see if you could create it. It might take a few months to create, but if you stand for this possibility for yourself, you might surprise yourself.

who else gets self-improvement

As you socialize with men, you might try to figure out who’s romantically interested in you. “What are the obvious signs that a guy likes you?” you might ask yourself.  The answer is multifaceted, but jealousy can definitely mean that he desires you intensely. His jealous actions reveal that he wants to chase away rivals …

Read More15 Top Signs A Guy Is Jealous And Likes You

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