I just recently watched an excellent TED Talk by Susan Cain about introversion. She argued for the need for solitude in society in a world that is quickly becoming more and more of an extrovert’s world. I found her message to be powerful: We need more balance in society so that the insights of both introverts and extroverts can be heard and encouraged. As cities grow larger, and schools and workplaces encourage more and more open “collaboration”, it is easy for introverts to get lost in the commotion.Continue Reading
Welcome to 2012! According to the Mayans (or, more accurately, the New Age fanatics), we have less than a year to live! But the rest of us reasonable people know that the world has much more happiness and heartache, mirth and misery, feast and famine in store. The universe is here for the long haul, and humans will likely be here for a while longer too. So enjoy life while it is here!—and be sure that others do as well.
New Year’s has always been a time of reflection for me, as it is for many. I prefer to find a quiet place to sit and ponder, rather than the raucous, drunken celebration of a changing calendar and a ball dropping. For me, Christmas is a time to celebrate, but New Year’s is a time to reflect on what has been and what is to come. Such reflection should really happen continually, for every day is a step forward. After all, January 1st merely marks an arbitrary point in the circumnavigation of the Earth around the Sun. We are always moving, always being propelled forward into the future. Without an understanding of the past and a clear vision of the future, we are condemned to stumble blindly about, never finding solid footing. The Earth may always smoothly travel in its orbit, but we have no such guarantee. And so, as the old year leaves and the new year makes its entrance, I prefer to keep the company of my thoughts, with a mind to my own actions and the development of my character.Continue Reading
It’s hard to believe that Christmas is almost here once again! Tomorrow marks the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Exams are winding down for those in school, and last-minute shoppers will soon be filling the stores to scrounge for the leftover items to give as gifts.
As for me, I just finished running a study, so I have some data to analyze, which makes me happy. That’s not to say I won’t spend some time relaxing during the holiday season! But of course, as always, it will never be long enough. Soon I’ll be back at school for another term. Running research, marking assignments, taking classes…the wonderful cocoon of academia. But I’ll be sure to enjoy the time spent with my family this Christmas.
Personal change and growth generally happens slowly. One’s political beliefs may shift over one’s lifetime, or a commitment to health and fitness may slowly be fostered. But generally these changes happen over a length of time, and in relative isolation from other changes.
Every once in a while, however, some belief that is fundamental to your worldview gets torn away. Like pulling out the bottom card in a house of cards, the rest comes tumbling down and must be rebuilt. Suddenly, change is thrust upon you, and you must deal with it. It’s at times like these that life gives you a reset button. All of a sudden, you have a fresh start to define who you are. You have a new chance to redefine yourself and cast yourself in a new light.Continue Reading
I’ve been engaging in a little bit of introspection regarding self-identity this week. It sprung up from several conversations with a friend of mine, mixed with some comments from the book I’m currently reading, The Feminine Mystique (amazon.ca) by Betty Friedan. These sources sparked thoughts about the way in which people perceive themselves, and how that affects their own direction in life.
Friedan discusses at one point how women in the 1960s were generally identified by who they were rather than what they did. While men were defined by their achievements: their profession, their skills, their victories and defeats; women were instead defined by their anatomy: their ability to become mothers. In other words, women were fulfilling their role by just existing long enough to become pregnant. I don’t think I’m qualified to discuss how such attitudes have changed since the time of Friedan’s writing—I expect that we’ve likely made some progress toward equality in this area, but there is likely still more to be done—but I would like to extend this toward a slightly broader perspective.Continue Reading
I’m consistently amazed at how little self-awareness people can have at times. Or, at least, I’m assuming that there are others with as little self-awareness as me. My understanding of myself seems to come in bursts of revelation rather than slow, incremental gain. As my thoughts swirl around in a storm, sudden flashes of insight appear like lightning.
The current storm in my brain has been regarding gender roles. As my understanding of feminism grows, I realize that gender roles are one of the key areas of society that must be challenged in order to provide equal status for women. But such an issue is just as applicable for men as well, since men face gender roles and norms of their own, and it would be somewhat odd to attack feminine gender roles and leave the masculine ones intact. So this issue, more than perhaps some other feminist issues, has an incredible power to unite both men and women in challenging social stigmas and oppression.Continue Reading
I was raised in a conservative evangelical household. The denomination in which I grew up, Pentecostalism, takes the Bible to be literal truth. But the Bible was written thousands of years ago, before there was any systematic scientific understanding of the world. Thus, a literalist Christian holds to a belief system based on a book written in the Iron Age. This has led to the perpetuation of beliefs which have no place in the modern world (ones that have absolutely no scientific credibility). One of those beliefs is a literal acceptance of demons and other spirits.Continue Reading