I want to discuss personal happiness with your place in the world. A really great quote that impacted me years ago went something like, “You can either change your situation, or change your reaction.” I don’t remember who said the quote or even where I heard it, but it still rings so true. When you find yourself in an unpleasant situation, you have two options. (1) Change the situation so you are not in it anymore (2) Change your reaction to the situation you are in.
If your current dilemma is truly out of your control, you must choose the second option and then you can be happy with where you are at that point in time. The great part of this kind of life tip is that you are in control of your own happiness. You can defeat any unhappiness by twisting your state of mind, doing some mental push-ups, or whatever gets you to morph into your old happy self.
This technique (a meditation of sorts), although I fortunately do not need to use it often, has really made all the difference in some periods of my day when I feel completely despondent. I can’t help but dwell on my issue at hand, but after some time I need to move on. By changing my reaction or emotional response to a situation, I can choose to be happy again.
The unpleasantness of midterm season is here and I am going to try to apply my technique to studying for my exams.
Why is it that I enjoy knowing things, but I don’t enjoy learning them? I’m a person that likes to learn—I love science, I’m curious about things I observe, but why do I procrastinate in studying? Why does it take extra effort and a double shot of espresso to make me sit down at my desk and read powerpoints? Could I twist around my mentality in order to make studying fun?
A friend of mine once helped motivate me to study in a similar way. This is how he thought about the situation differently (i.e. changed his reaction): a textbook is the highest intellectual compilation of knowledge on a specific subject that exists. It only exists because of the millions of hours of research done by scientists before my time. The enormous workload and endless experiments conducted in the past to discover the intricacies of human physiology are all displayed in front of me in black and white text (and pictures)! All I have to do is read it. A scientist’s life’s work, for example, the elucidation of the structure of DNA, can be taught to me in a few minutes. Rosalind Franklin had to perform x-ray crystallography on DNA helices. All I have to do is read and learn.
I hope this more appreciative perspective will help keep me on task during the next two weeks. I will be doing many hours of studying between now and then, but it is nothing compared to the work done before me to make this information so easily accessible, interpretable, and applicable to human health.
Good luck studying to fellow OD2s!