on happiness

For the past 6 hours I have been trying to maneuver through two semesters of chemistry information and two chapters of calculus problems. I stopped midway through for a run and shower and then retreated back to my homestead of a wooden desk and piles of books. I now lie in bed unashamedly watching High School Musical, only after failed Netflix-attempts to watch The Rugrats Movie and Emperor’s New Groove. The older I get the more contrasting I find my own mind and desires – a delicate balance between MathScienceLogic and ArtFemininePlayful. A dynamic balance I personally adore so greatly. Nonetheless, between glances of dramatized acting and adolescent romance, I thought I would write. Due to the current conditions of a certain inviting twin bed, I thought I would write about happiness.

Aristotle writes in his Nicomachean Ethics about happiness, and I really find it to be quite interesting. In my philosophy class we often discuss happiness and its origins, meaning, and value. Opinions differ widely which adds complexity to the conversation, although not deterring from the importance of the talk. I have found happiness does differ from everyone, but there is something within everyone’s idea of happiness that shares a common thread. This unique quality among all the ideas of happiness is where I believe the meaning remains.

Aristotle writes about happiness as an active condition and as the ultimate end of all human action and life. In philosophical dialect the preceding sentence probably transfers understanding, but to me, and probably most, my questions were “what is an ‘active condition’?” and “what is an ‘end’ and what does it mean to be working towards one?” So these are the questions I will answer.

The first, concerning an active condition, actually makes logical sense. To Aristotle (disclaimer of high likelihood my interpretation is different from others, the beauty of philosophy), happiness is mobile and living. Happiness isn’t something that you have just because you don’t experience sadness, grief, or pain. Happiness isn’t something you have when you only have positive outcomes in life. Happiness resides within all of us. As we are active humans, happiness is active alongside us. To be an ‘active condition’ to me, means that it must satisfy some requirements. Initially, the word active can equate to alive, mobile, thriving, and functional. Next, ‘condition’ can mean a state, a regulation, or something that accompanies other things or has other things accompany it. So for happiness to be an ‘active condition’ means that it legislates the necessity for both of these requisites to be satisfied. Happiness must be living and it must be with us in some way. Happiness is the way in which we shape and mold our views of the world. Before I expand on this, I will answer the second question concerning an end.

Happiness, to Aristotle, is presumably the ultimate end of all human action. For all things in life we are working towards achieving happiness. Whether it be in moments or in years, happiness is undeniably a desirable product of our behaviors. Is everything we do because of a deeper desire to revive our happiness? When you think about the underlying reasons for why we do a lot of our actions (i.e. study 6 hours for exams and gain neck cramps) then it is hard not to realize how motivated our actions are by happiness. I am not fully convinced that happiness is the end, but I think it may be an end. (For clarity, by the term ‘end’ I mean something that people work towards through action and habituation).

There are many things that shape and create our perspectives of the world. I think largely our spirituality and meaning of life is derived from a higher being. I know my personal world and purpose is orchestrated by my Lord Jesus Christ. My inner being, my deepest purpose, my most robust feelings, all of these things are at the core of my belief and faith in Christ the Lord. Evolving from my faith my view of the world been created. Beauty in the ordinary, Truth in the undiscovered, an infatuation with written word, a desire to understand more of the natural world, a sensitivity for other people and their souls, and a deep curiosity. Happiness is at the core of my actions and emotions. As an active condition, happiness remains with me during the worst of times and the most beautiful of times. I am not bereft of happiness when I experience periods of uncertainty or loneliness. Happiness is still with me when I am overjoyed with blessings. Happiness is there through it all.

I think in a way we must find happiness as much as it must find us. Some people neglect the active condition by inactivating it. They resume a less-than-desirable condition (misery, bitterness, envy, or negativity) instead. Happiness will find you when you find it.

Find it in the faces of the people you see everyday. Find it in the moments of burning jealousy. Find happiness in the pain and the pleasure. Find happiness in the joy and in the sadness. Find happiness every day, every moment, every second. When you decide to seek the fullest life and happiness is an integral part of that, I am certain that it will seek you in return. I hope it happens in the most fruitful and endearing of ways.

 

 

namaste

My own health and fitness journey has been somewhat of a hilly ride. Ups and downs of oscillating between being feeling good and feeling like I’m not good enough. I can definitely say that I have learned a lot about my own body, my own boundaries, and my own ways to balance a healthy life. 2015 was my year of finding this balance. I used to spend hours upon hours in the gym lifting weights, doing squats, doing crunches, and running miles on the treadmill. At the time, I thought I was happy. I thought that I was okay with letting an exterior appearance determine so much of my happiness. But I found myself with a lot of anxiety. I was undoubtedly physically stronger. But my mental strength was on the other end of the continuum. I valued appearing strong, appearing fit, and appearing invincible over the truly invaluable qualities of mental happiness and manifesting a physical health that will help me live a long life that is absent of health complications. Fast forward to May of this year, at a place called Glow Yoga in Gulf Shores, AL.

I am infatuated with cardiovascular medicine. The heart is so amazing to me, and it is even more extraordinary how much control we have over the cardiac complications we can develop. For this reason, living a healthy lifestyle means more to me than looking thin in a dress or being happy with the person I see in the mirror. Health to me means finding strength internally and externally. A healthy lifestyle means I try to make healthy choices daily, but I don’t obsess over eating bad. I try to choose the better option for my body, but I don’t get anxiety if I eat something full of sugar and totally not-healthy.

I took my first yoga class in Gulf Shores. I had been trying to do it at home but I had not been using the best resources. But I wanted to try something new, I had just bought new yoga pants and what better place than the beach? So I attended my first hot yoga session and it was HOT and HARD. Truthfully, I almost passed out because of dehydration (sweating a lot with only one bottle of water in me) and temperatures of around 90 degrees in the humidity of a southern summer. But it was wonderful. It was challenging. It was invigorating. It was refreshing. It made me feel strong and whole. That began my love affair with yoga.

Being a college student is tough. There are a lot of demands; most from academic courses, others from social life, spiritual development, clubs, and trying to stay fit. Yoga is my time during the week to strengthen my body physically (I have lost around 9 pounds in college!) and help my mind pause in the midst of a chaotic life. I would recommend yoga to anyone that is trying to overcome workout-related anxiety, gain mental happiness, become healthier for life, strengthen and elongate muscles, gain stability and control, and essentially anyone just curious about a new workout! I want to include some of the resources I find really useful for yoga at home and yoga beginners!

  1. Podcasts. If you’re interested in doing yoga from home but still want to feel like you’re at a class, podcasts are a wonderful resource. I prefer going to class for the group camaraderie but sometimes staying home is the only option! Some of favorites are 502 Power Yoga : Louisville, KY  and Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga with Kinndli. YouTube videos are also always a great option!
  2. A yoga mat. Yoga is possible without a mat, but it definitely makes it easier! A cute mat makes it that much more enjoyable, too. I got mine from here.
  3. Tight fitting clothes. It is difficult to do yoga when your clothes are flopping around everywhere! Tight pants and a form fitting tank top with a sports bra are usually the best options. I love Lululemon apparel (found here) but for more affordable options look at places like Forever 21 (here).
  4. Hot towel and hand towel. If you’re going to try hot yoga (which I would recommend after you have practiced yoga and feel comfortable with some of the poses!),  you will need a towel. I like mat towels because my mat doesn’t stay dry whenever I sweat a lot. Mat towels and hand towels come in a variety of beautiful colors and patterns. I like Yogitoes by Manduka! Find them here.

Here is a video from Reflexion Yoga on YouTube that explains some of the fundamental poses that are essential to grow your practice.

The new year is a perfect time to begin your decision to choose a healthy life! I have found my balance and peace in doing yoga to maintain a fit life and sound mind. Let me know if I can help you with your practice anytime!

a good man?

I have most recently been delighted to having found the plethora of truly amazing work of 20th century intellectual, C. S. Lewis. His writings have probed me to question my relationship and perspective on Christianity as a whole and to step back from “innate” ideology and form my own opinions and ideals about what Christianity means to me and what it should mean to the world. Here is an excerpt from a book I am reading and my thoughts on it. Enjoy 🙂

“If Christianity should happen to be true, then it is quite impossible that those who know this truth and those who don’t should be equally well equipped for leading a good life. Knowledge of the facts must make a differences to one’s actions. Suppose you found a man on the point of starvation and wanted to do the right thing. If you had no knowledge of medical science, you would probably give him a large solid meal and as a result your man would die. In the same way a Christian and a non-Christian may both wish to do good to their fellow men. The one believes that men are going to live forever, that they were created by God and so built that they can find their true and lasting happiness only be being united to God, that they have gone badly off the rails, and that obedient faith in Christ is the only way back. The other believes that men are an accidental result of the blind working of matter, that they started as mere animals and have more or less steadily improved, that they are going to live for about seventy years, that their happiness is fully attainable by good social services and political organizations, and that everything else (e.g., vivisection, birth-control, the judicial system, education) is to be judged to be “good” or “bad” simply in so far as if it helps or hinders that kind of “happiness”.

Now there are quite a lot of tings which these two men could agree in doing for their fellow citizens. Both would approve of efficient sewers and hospitals and a healthy diet. But sooner or later the difference of their beliefs would produce differences in their practical proposals. Both, for example, might be very keen about education: but the kinds of education that they wanted people to have would obviously be very different. Again, where the Materialist would simple ask about a proposed action, “Will it increase the happiness of the majority?”. The Christian might have to say, “Even if it does increase the happiness of the majority, we can’t do it. It is unjust.” And all the time, one great difference would run through their whole policy. To the Materialist things like nation, classes, civilizations must be more important than individuals, because the individuals live only seventy odd years each and the group may last for centuries. But to the Christian, individuals are more important, for they live eternally; and races, civilizations and the like, are in comparison creatures for a day.

The Christian and the Materialist hold different beliefs about the universe. They can’t both be right. The one who is wrong will act in a way which simply doesn’t fit the universe. Consequently, with the best will the world, he will be helping his fellow creatures to their destruction.”

-“Man or Rabbit?” in God in the Dock by C. S. Lewis

My thoughts (as outlined in my journal aka just directly on the direct pages of the book I am reading):

So what are the major differences in two individuals, separated by belief, but both wanting to lead a “good” life, help others, succeed, and eventually reflect on their life with satisfaction in suit? Indeed, as Lewis implies, it is their intention; say, their point of perspective on the world. It cannot be denied that both men seek fulfillment and both men want the utmost welfare for others (if they are both seeking truly “good”). Then, why is there such a broad gap between the two? Oh, it has to be derived from their mode of intention. The Christian man knows good because he has the knowledge of what good is (that is, Jesus). But the non-Christian (the Materialist in this example) man is seeking for good. Blindly, one can assume. Like the Jesus analogy, some may argue that the non-Christian man views a superior, historical figure as being “good” and models his own life after that man. There is no argument though, that the man he views and models his life after was also essentially searching for the best form of good (I believe this because I believe God to be the only form of truth. Arguers could always give their opinion on why a certain person is viewed to be good and just). It appears to me that this man has built his life, his entire demise on the fallacy of true happiness. He is resting on a rocky bed, waiting for it to crumble. However, in contrast, the Christian man believes in factual (no, not mythical) truth that Jesus was the only true existing form of good and only off of Him can we build our life, our opinions, and our views. See, we are not searching for what good means to us. We are searching for modern ways to express that good in our lives. So, in theory, the two men are simply at different points in their lives. One searching for good and trying to find ways to satisfy the crowd, and one who has found good, searching for ways to satisfy the Master. They both want good and that cannot be questioned (and it is not being questioned). However, the one is like a doctor performing surgery before he has received the proper training and knowledge of the expertise: he is trying to fix the problem before he understands it himself.

 

 

thanksgiving thoughts

Thanksgiving is an awesome day. In addition to the wonderful delicacies I am preparing myself for, it is a day of reflection and intention. Yes, we should be thankful every single day of the year. But instead of being pessimistic about the attitudes of gratefulness today, can’t we be thankful that on today there is widespread recognition of the things in our lives we should be grateful for? Following the trend of this day of thanksgiving, I want to verbalize the things I am most thankful for. I hope your day is full of family, laughter, food, and relaxation!

  1. One of the most profound blessings from God on my life is to be the recipient of an amazing scholarship that has enabled me to meet some really influential people, conduct research early, enabled opportunities that wouldn’t have otherwise happened, and most importantly alleviated the financial burden of student debt. I feel overwhelmingly blessed, very undeserving, but extremely thankful for my scholarship.
  2. I am thankful for my hard working, loving parents. They never make me question their love for me. They are the fuel behind my ambition. They are my very best friends and I can only hope to make them proud with my life and my choices.
  3. I am honestly thankful for my health. Learning about genetic diseases and the multiple problems that can happen so easily and so spontaneously has really opened my eyes to the value of health. God has given me legs that walk, eyes that see, ears that hear, and a heart that beats. Though overlooked and often not appreciated, my health is so important to me.
  4. I am thankful for my sisters and brother-in-law. They are genuinely there for me and feel my pain and feel my happiness. They are the ones I share my life with and without them my life would not be as full.
  5. I am thankful for the ability to openly express my beliefs. I am thankful to live in a country that has soldiers that will fight for me without knowing me. I feel so blessed to know that my beliefs are appreciated and that no one can impose their beliefs on me. I am thankful for the ability to vote and exercise my personal liberties. I am thankful, in the midst of chaos and uncertainty, that I am an American.
  6. I am thankful for my roommate and suitemates. They love me, support me, and keep my life fun and full of happiness. College has been such an amazing transition because of their constant love and concern for me. My life would not be the same if I wouldn’t have met them!
  7. I am thankful for opportunity. Opportunity to love who I want, live how I want, and be whom I want. A lot of people around the world don’t have opportunity. A lot of people around the world are eager for the simple opportunity to find food, shelter, and happiness. I am very, very thankful I have all of these things and more.
  8. I am lastly thankful for my mind. My mind allows me to pray. It allows me to learn new things. It allows me to make decisions that I want to make. It allows me to know love. I don’t ever want to take that simple fact for granted. My mind enables a lot of my life, and I am thankful that I was blessed with a mind that works. It is the little things that are the most important and often not recognized enough.

2015 has easily been one of the best years of my life and has taught me how to be appreciative, humble, and thankful. We all have seasons of our lives where things feel so wrong. It is important in these times to take off the blinders of life and expose our eyes to the valuable and important things in our life: faith, family, and friends. I can’t wait to spend my thanksgiving with my family (and delicious food that isn’t cooked in my dorm microwave). What are you thankful for?

 

 

theories

I want to talk about the theory of relativity.

and compassion. I want to talk about compassion.

The theory of general relativity is honestly one of the most fascinating concepts to me. Over the summer, I read Einstein’s Cosmos by Michio Kaku while I was at the beach. I remember feeling overwhelmed and very, very small as I sat on the beach and glared into the evasive ocean and seemingly limitless aqua blue sky. I remember feelings of awe, and of curiosity of what lies out there. I remember feelings of gratitude and incomprehensible intrigue. I wanted to ask questions. One day, I cannot wait to have my most inquisitive questions answered by the great Creator of all things. I grew an even greater appreciation for Whom I believe made these magical, quintessential concepts. I wish I had the knowledge capacity to explain what the theory of relativity is, but I do not, and I would be lessening the value of the theory if I tried to explain it. I do know, however, that this theory concerns two heavenly objects in reference to each other or each in reference to a certain inertial frame. A subdued example of this is being in a train and looking out the sides. To you, the train is traveling at a fast speed and the trees and grass and sky are all artistically blending together. But if there was a train speeding parallel to you, traveling the same exact speed and you look out the window and see yourself in the other train, you will not be moving at all in that frame of reference. So, although you are moving and the train is moving, according to that inertial frame (where you see yourself) you are still. The term theory of relativity typically questions the earth in reference to other cosmological bodies. Relativity states that time can bend, and warp, and change. Time, on earth, is said to be constant. We have atomic clocks that inherently tell us the precise time. But in space, time changes. Time is warped. Depending on what reference point you are, time may be “normal” to you. It is relative.

I feel that this same concept of relativity can be applied to other areas of our lives. We have to remember that we are not celestial bodies in various frames of reference. We are humans with emotions. We are experiences. We are memories. We must maintain an open heart and be understanding of situations that require our relative frames of minds. Too many times I feel that we as a human race, collectively and individually, make decisions and judgements without being subjective. Every person we meet has an issue, a problem, a disappointment that we know nothing about. Every person we meet is having difficult thoughts that are discouraging. We all have them. Relativity tells us to greet these humans, sensitive and raw people that feel just as we do, with compassionate hearts and open ears relative to their situation. Do not judge. I am a true believer that within every earthly body, that proclaims a religion or not, remains a piece of good. For me, this innately “good” is implanted by a graceful God. For others, this may be a derivative of perceived consciousness. Whatever your greater self may be, look for that in other people. Seek the good. One of my favorite quotes comes from Randy Pausch, “earnest is better than hip.” When I first read this section of his book, I discounted the information in it and thought that quote was dated. But then I really dissected what this means. Being an earnest person, a person with integrity, is cooler and more rewarding than someone who does things and treats people a certain way to fit in. Be relative with people. View them from a personal, compassionate frame of reference. Treat others as if they are walking on the egg shells of life. Love people. Love them generously.


some great quotes from Randy Pausch (because The Last Lecture is one of my favorite books) and because I plan on writing about these beautiful concepts soon:

  • “Go and do for others what they have done for you.”
  • “No, the park is open until 8pm.”
  • “If I work hard enough, there will be things I can do tomorrow that I can’t do today.”
  • “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, only how we choose to play.”
  • “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And experience is the most valuable thing you can have.”
  • “Focus on people, not things.”
  • “Find the best in everybody. Just keep waiting no matter how long it takes. No one is all evil. Everybody has a good side, just keep waiting, it will come out.”