• Leon de Leeuw

You're competing against yourself


From the beginning of time, humans have sought after comfort in exchange for the least amount of effort. A dry and safe place to stay, while still having to hunt. That's how humanity started out. Eventually, in Mesopothamia, people got their minds together and decided there must be a better way to get food closeby without the need to run through the fields all day. So they found a way to grow rye around their settlements (11.050 BCE). Then about 2.000 years later, so-called Neolithic founder crops; emmer wheat, einkorn wheat, hulled barley, peas, lentils, bitter vetch, chick peas, and flax — were cultivated in the Levant (Source).

Interesting side fact; Levant refers to the historical region of Syria or in a wider sense the eastern Mediterranean with its islands (Source: Oxford Dictionary 2015). The word Levant got from Italian to French to the English language. In Italian, it means 'rising' because the sun rises from the east (Source: Gagarin, Michael (31 December 2009), Ancient Greece and Rome, 1, Oxford University Press, Incorporated, p. 247). The eastern Mediterranean is east from Italy so they referred to the place by this name.

Nonetheless, you can see how people started making their lives more convenient. Obviously this is how the species survived. If it weren't for our predecessors, we wouldn't be sitting in our air-conditioned offices. Just imagine that suddenly we'd need to go out and hunt, eat berries, we wouldn't have a clue and probably be dead by food poisoning from said berries or some form of incorrect preparation of food. We've become very domesticated - certainly there's people hunting but this is more so in Eastern Europe and other places around the world, as opposed to the wealthy West. We're hardly able to be alone, always needing to be surrounded by friends or family. Always having the smartphone nearby. Rarely reconnecting with nature. Instead of fighting a battle against the elements and nature, where everything can get you killed, we're now fighting a battle against ourselves. We want to feel something, we want to feel loved. We have first-world problems and depression is on the rise (Source).

What is it we can do to ease this fight? Is our life really so convenient that I need to pick other battles, just to feel that I conquer at least something? Common sense says yes, because people have been struggling for many thousands of years. And suddenly there's no real, physical struggle. The body and mind need something to do, so mental struggles are what we can focus on instead. The mind will ramble on and this can take on all sorts of forms. If one's not busy, there's room to over-think. So at least a start is getting to the gym, getting outside, lifting up heavy things and putting them back down. Our spine is designed to move. Do have a good lifting technique, is all I'm saying, and don't overdo it. But lifting weights does wonders. So does taking in the sun and going on a walk in nature. Sometimes, when I talk to acquaintances, they say they don't feel like doing anything. No more positive outlook. Just working hard, sleeping and waking up again. I am anything but a psychologist but I do have common sense, which can get one very far in life. I always recommend people to take a walk in nature. Yet none of them do it. And that's where the problem lies. Not taking the first step, which is completely within reach. They should treasure the fact they can even walk and get out there, taking in the smell of a fresh morning in the forest. But no, it's easier to stay indoors and complain. And yes, there are real mental issues, and I am not someone to criticize anyone suffering from them. But anyone who's able to get out, lift weights, get into nature, should do so when not feeling all too well.

The point is that a first step leads to a second. Once you're in the forest, no matter how much you dislike it at first, you might as well make a short hike. You might just make some pictures, and put these on your website you were planning to start ever since being a student. Then when you get home refreshed, you might as well prepare a healthy meal and being tired, think about improving your sleeping pattern. Not many people like going to the gym, but if you're there, you might as well lift some weights or get on the treadmill. Then why not talk up someone who seems new as well, and make a new friend? You can motivate each other on your new habit and who knows what else the person can bring you. See, the first step is always the most important one. If you're at least partly functional, get out there if you're not feeling well. You're not competing against anyone but yourself. Not saying that if the mental demons are too strong, this is what you should do. Then you'll have another course of action and I can only say; get some sort of help. You'll know well enough yourself if you're being lazy or are indeed suffering. But never disregard that first step because it seems like a solution that's too easy. Easy is where it starts, then gradually it develops. You might as well try.

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