Tag Archives: Learning

Why You Should Keep Striving in Life

All of us suffer from a phenomenon known as the “end of history illusion”.  Essentially, we tend to underestimate how much we will change in the future.  For example, everyone looks back and thinks, “I can’t believe I did those stupid things”; “I can’t believe I was so wrong/silly/impulsive”; “I can’t believe I really liked that food/hobby/band”; “If I only knew then what I know now…”

Although most people acknowledge that their lives have changed even in the past decade, they generally underestimate the extent to which their personalities and tastes will shift in the future.  We like to concentrate on our present wonderfulness and think that the person we are at the moment is who we’ll be forever.  Yet, change is inevitable and change is constant.  You’re never going to be the person you expect to become for the rest of your life (unless it’s one second before your death).   

However, I think there is an even more important reason why people don’t accept how different they’ll be in the future: “If I am going to change, it implies I’m not so terrific now.”

I choose not to look at it that way.  Instead of seeing yourself as someone with a bunch of flaws to correct, I think it’s a better attitude to consider the changes as opportunities for growth.  You’re expanding your horizons and having new adventures.  As I mentioned on-air, I was a little unhappy about turning 66.  It just seemed old to me.  However, I decided that instead of this being my slide down, it was going to be my slide up.  Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of work with metal and jewelry for my Dr. Laura Designs store.  My motivation is to keep learning how to use new tools and master different techniques (sometimes I drive myself so crazy that I have to close the door of my craft room and watch a movie to get my brain to leave me alone for a minute).  I keep myself in a constant state of learning with my crafts, program, and life in general. 
It’s also important to accept that you’re never going to be perfect.  When I’m filing a piece of metal, it seems like a never-ending process.  I do my best to file away all the tiny imperfections, but no matter how much I file, it’s never going to be perfect on a molecular level.  However, I don’t stop trying – I just accept that it won’t be perfect.  Striving for perfection without accepting that there isn’t any is neurotic.

I think that’s the best mentality to have in life: accept that you’ll never be perfect, but keep putting your best effort forward.  We will all die one day and we still won’t be perfect.  However, instead of sliding down the ladder because we feel like it’s no use, we need to keep going up.  As long as there are still steps on that ladder, we need to climb them.

Laughter Is the Best Medicine

In my opinion, laughter really is the best medicine.  Like a steam bath, it opens up all your pores and lets the bad stuff roll out.  That’s why I use humor on the air – it’s a diagnostic which makes your body, psyche, and soul all feel better.

Laughter seems to have an evolutionary benefit.  Laughter is a feature that we share with other great apes such as the chimpanzee and gorilla, which suggests that it is an ancient behavior.  People of all ages and cultures laugh spontaneously, and they spend quite a bit of time doing it.  Interestingly enough, if you ask most women what traits they want in a man, a sense of humor is usually first or second on the list.

Laughter also operates as a social connector.   Groups are important for human survival, and across evolutionary time, groups got larger and socially more complex, which raises the interesting question about how these groups could be held together. Other primates groom each other to smoothen social interactions, but this is impossible when groups get really large. One solution to this problem is laughter. Through laughing, we can quickly establish a good relationship with each other, and because it is so contagious, it can quickly spread through a crowd.   For example, if you’re watching a movie with other people and someone laughs, there is an instant connection. 

In addition, laughter helps facilitate your capacity to learn new things.  When somebody teaches you something with humor, you usually retain the information better.  That’s why, for example, kids learn faster and better through play-learning. 

Lastly, laughter helps alleviate pain.   When you laugh, endorphins are released in the brain and act as a kind of legal drug inside your head.  According to studies conducted by researchers from Oxford and VU Amsterdam, being exposed to comedy can raise your pain tolerance as much as 50 percent.  I believe the same is true for emotional pain as well.  Humor opens up people to hear things that they are often uncomfortable hearing.  There is even some research on patients which shows that exposure to humor and comedy helps them reduce their medication intake.

Without humor, life would be quite dreary.  Laughter works in the same way as a good massage or an intense jog (but without all the stress on the knees).  It’s relaxing, social, and there are no side effects other than the occasional bad joke.