Community, Community Building, International Development, Personal Development

How to Live in a World of Contradictions Without Going Completely Nuts

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Do you remember how frustrating it was when, as a child, living in a world of contradictions?  When you were told you couldn’t do something by an adult only to see them doing that very same thing? Or to be told by one adult not to do something only to be told by another that you could do it? Or be told by one adult not to do something and be put by another adult in a situation where you had to do that very thing? Although the details of such situations I got caught in as a child escape me, I distinctly remember the sick feeling in my stomach at the ensuing confusion.

Sometimes I wonder how much extra pressure we are all under because of the adult version of such contradictions. For example, what of the stress that contradictory messages put on adults as we try to figure out how to lead our best life? I recently posted about the contradictions held within the pages of O, The Oprah Magazine, where messages about self-confidence are offset by ads implying that the way we naturally are isn’t good enough.

I have also noticed how we are under similar pressure at a more macro level. The Province of Ontario (Canada) recently increased fines for distracted driving… and yet the roads we drive on are covered in an increasing number of ads designed to catch our attention; we’re more often than not expected to answer our texts and emails quicker than ever (including by employers such as the government); we’re expected to know every piece of news as soon as it breaks; and we’re expected to participate in and monitor various social media platforms as if we have three (or more!) personal assistants helping us throughout the day (and night!).

It mustn’t come as much of a surprise that my first step in dealing with this sea of contradiction is to remove them, as much as I can, from my personal life. It takes a lot of work to identify such contradictions, let alone act on them. Further complicating things is the fact that a solution that would work in the vacuum of a solitary life doesn’t always fit in the context we’re trying to apply it in. I’m thinking for example of individuals caught between the needs of a job requiring immediate answers to emails and an hour long commute without any public transportation available.

But just like with many other things, engaging in the process is what will yield the result over the course of some time. By engaging on such a path and including others in the conversation, we can bring many changes not only in our personal lives but also in the spaces we have influence over—our home, our office, our local stores, etc. I honestly have no solution to the macro level contradictions that shape the various structures of society. But I’m sure that if I were to have this conversation consistently with an increasing number of individuals, we can figure it out—and the solution is probably going to be a lot easier than anticipated.

Picture courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo.

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