The Internet and Personal Development

The Internet Can Aid Personal Growth Immensely

There are an awful lot of stereotypes directed at the Internet and its users, although to some extent these stereotypes are becoming less prominent. Regardless of the changing opinions of individuals, however, there is still a hard-wired impression that those of us who choose to spend a fair portion of our life online must be socially inadequate, and in some way not equipped to live a “normal life”. It should not be ignored that the people who express this impression most vocally are rarely much of a role model for anyone – and their unfounded prejudices may well suggest that they are quite the opposite. The Internet can, in fact, work excellently as a tool for personal development.

Think about it this way. If you are growing up in a relatively small town with very clearly defined values and preferences, and happen to grow up with a mindset that is at odds with those values and preferences, life can be pretty lonely. Geography in this sense is incredibly limiting. With the advent of the Internet, however, it has become possible for like minded individuals from locations poles apart to form strong bonds of friendship. There are caveats to this process, of course – taking people at face value is inadvisable – but these caveats are no more pronounced than those which arise when interacting with someone who is physically in the same room as you. It is always important to keep an eye out for people who are keen to dissemble and distract.

Online forums are one way of getting to know people who have similar interests. There are so many forums and message boards on the Internet, devoted to such a wide range of interests, that it would be quicker to name the subjects that are not catered to than those that are. Sports, music, politics, whatever interests you there is likely to be a community or two (or a few thousand) devoted to it. On here, you may get the kind of conversation that you simply cannot have with a geographical neighbour. In addition, it is an excellent way to get a bit of debating practice – by speaking to people whose opinions on your subject of interest differ from yours, you can build a greater understanding of matters, something which aids personal growth immensely.

Social networking sites are often viewed very dimly by media commentators and everyday skeptics. There is a certain selective interpretation of the medium in this – for one thing, the media commentators are a little concerned that they will cease to be as relevant, and secondly the most scathing attitudes to social networking are based on a hugely skewed sample. Yes, there are some complete and utter fools on these sites, and when their pronouncements are frozen for posterity online it is hard not to cringe. But some real deep thinkers also use these sites simply because they have so much difficulty finding like-minded people nearby. By using the Internet wisely, you can find people who are really worth talking to. Like anything else, it is a matter of knowing how to separate the good from the bad.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to Ahmed Dawn Dot Com site. This article originally published on the above website on May 19, 2009.

Friends Can Help Overcome Stress

Honesty Is The Best Policy

Picture the scene: you have been worrying yourself into a blue funk over the course of a week with one subject dominating the horizon and no idea how you are going to deal with it. This worry arises time and again, often at inopportune moments, before sinking out of sight for long enough to give you a shot at cheering up – before the worry appears again and pulls the rag from underneath your feet. As you sit there consumed by the feeling that nothing is ever going to be enjoyable again, it is a level certainty that someone will ask you: “What’s up?”. It is also a fair possibility that you will pause for a moment and then say “Oh? No, nothing, I’m fine.”

Does that sound familiar? If so, don’t worry – you’re one of a great many people who have lived that exact scenario out maybe weekly, maybe even more often than that. We have a tendency to internalize our worries, and when someone asks us what’s going on it is somehow easier to pretend that all’s well rather than burdening them with some of what is bothering us. Never mind the fact that they may be able to help, we do not want to be thought of as wasting their valuable time. It is a little bit like a dance in a lot of ways – the initial approach, the intricate steps of offer and response, the big finish (where they walk away, perhaps a tad confused).

For politeness’ sake, we are almost hard-wired to decline any offers of help even when we would really benefit from having someone else’s advice. But if they didn’t want to help, they wouldn’t have asked. Whatever the situation you are trying to deal with, there might be something they can do. Maybe they can help materially. Maybe they’ve been there themselves and can offer advice that will fix things. Maybe they know someone who can help, even if they cannot themselves. Either way, it is counter-productive to turn down an offer of help simply because you don’t want to be impolite. If nothing else the act of telling someone, and having them listen to you, can make the problem seem a bit less insurmountable.

The act of “bottling things up” is one that we are all prone to every once in a while, but it is not a good habit to get into. Stress is a major contributor to many illnesses, both physical and mental, and allowing problems to snowball to the point where you cannot see a way out is only going to hurt you in the short and long term. A good friend will want to help you. Solving a problem is a lot easier when you have a second mind working on it. Don’t think that they are only asking in order to be polite, and that by telling them anything you will be ruining their day. They want to know. They want to help. Give them that opportunity, and it will make things a whole lot more straightforward for all concerned.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to Ahmed Dawn Dot Com site. This article originally published on the above website on May 30, 2009.

Is Your Job The Problem?

A Job Can Negatively Affect You

Life can be frustrating, draining and annoying. For far too many of us, every day is a struggle. Getting out of bed can be as much of a struggle as any other part of the day, and this should not be the case. It isn’t how things should be, but for too many of us it is a reality that we have to come to terms with. How many of us wake up in the morning and think “I’m looking forward to this”? Far too few. And, while there is not always an instant solution to this problem, the truth of the matter is that we have choices in life – it is about finding a way to make these choices a reality. It’s not easy – nothing that is worth doing ever is, unfortunately – but the truth is that if you work at it, you can make the future a lot better than the present.

The overwhelming majority of the time, we have difficulty getting out of bed because we know that what is lying ahead is a job that has very little about it to look forward to. Some of us have great jobs, and cannot wait to go in every day. The rest of us look at them with a mix of envy, admiration and hatred. The truth is that through one thing and another we can end up working in a job for which we have no great love from school through to retirement. And it can have an effect on our health, both mentally and physically. In order to have the life we want, we need to consider a number of factors, and our job (for what it does to our minds and bodies) is certainly one of those.

There are many ways in which a job can negatively affect a person. There is the most simple of all, which is that it is boring and repetitive. Going in every day to a job which is unchanging and which offers little prospect of variety can seem like a life sentence. As melodramatic as that sounds, getting some enjoyment out of your job is the least we should expect. Simply in order to stay sane you need to be able to smile and laugh every so often. Then there are the jobs that morally compromise us. Certain sales jobs and cold-calling can really put someone in a difficult position mentally. If you know that your job is going to involve putting an unwelcome crimp in someone’s day, it can be hard to live with yourself. As much money as some of these jobs can pay, it is usually the ones getting paid least who have the most uncomfortable duties.

Changing your job is not simple. Saying goodbye to a steady living is not something many of us can afford to even consider in the current climate. If, however, you have the freedom to look for a better job while you are doing the one that is currently giving you so much heartache, it can be highly worthwhile. It is something that can even lift the drab days when you are working at the job from hell – look at it as a way out!

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to Ahmed Dawn Dot Com site. This article originally published on the above website on May 13, 2009.

How Changing Small Things Can Change Your Life

Change You Can Believe In

If you spend more time than you used to complaining and feeling frustrated, chances are that you have fallen into a rut and it is bringing you down. Although we as humans are creatures of habit to a large extent, there is no getting away from the fact that every once in a while following the same routine gets boring. However much you may instinctively dislike change, it can be the answer when things get just that bit too dull – and it broadens your horizons to allow you the chance to appreciate new things.

There is no change that is too small to influence your life in some way. Even waking up ten minutes earlier in the morning can give you a new appreciation of something. But most of us want more sleep, not less, and it is understandable that we are protective of our duvet time. It is for this reason that you should look initially for changes that will be more fun. The definition of “fun” differs for us all, of course. Some people don’t see the point in watching or playing sport; others are left unsatisfied by the cinema. Fun is anything that makes you glad to have the opportunity to do it.

When it comes to dinner time, why not try something you have never eaten before? Pretty often, even when eating in a restaurant, we will skim over the pages of stuff that we are unfamiliar with, and select the same thing we always do. Instead of this, why not stop for a while on a page that you normally flick past and give it your time? Changing something as simple as your meal rotation can give you a little bit of a boost when you need it most.

Food is just an example, of course. Sometimes change for change’s sake is a good thing, pure and simple. If you go through life never trying anything different, you will miss out on one of the most enriching parts of life – variety. I don’t know if you have heard, but it is apparently the spice of life. And it can be a very valuable thing, too. Even changing the desktop picture on your computer can make a difference on a day when you are feeling laboured and unmotivated. Buying a different breakfast cereal can also do the job. The point is not the depth of the change, the point is change itself.

However weighed down you may feel, and however weather-beaten it is making you, there is a real value in facing it down and refusing to become embittered. Changing your outlook can be as simple as deciding that you are not going to keep to the old rules, and making a bold strike for freedom. Try changing one thing every day, no matter how small it is. The difference that it will make, cumulatively, can be the difference between a positive mindset and a negative one. It’s a difference worth making.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to Ahmed Dawn Dot Com site. This article originally published on the above website on May 5, 2009.

How a Hobby Can Improve Your Life

Learning Language Can Be A Good Thing

For many of us, the reason that we want to change our life is because so much of it is stale. The everyday fact of doing the same thing again and again, and having a set routine, means that if there is anything that gets us down about life, it will be a recurring pain for us. To make our lives more enjoyable, what we require is a bit of a shake-up. Changing things around will give us something to get excited about and look forward to. Even a simple break from the norm can make a big difference.

Taking up a hobby is something that people often do to bring a bit more interest to their lives. What that hobby is, is truly limited only by our own imagination. What do you enjoy? If it is something that lends itself to a daily routine – or a weekly one – then it can be introduced into a pattern. Hobbies are alive with variety. All that matters about a hobby is that you find it enjoyable. Aside from that, the world is your oyster. But if it is something that you are taking up in order to introduce an aspect of fun to your life, you should make sure it has some sort of shelf-life.

One hobby that people like to take up is learning another language. When we are in school, it is often obligatory to choose a language as one of your elective subjects. Depending on where we are in the world, there may be a specific language that is compulsory. In Canada it will be French (or for French Canadians, English). In the US, it will often be Spanish. If we are not of a mind to enjoy school, we can come to associate a language with the boredom and restriction of a classroom. But often, once we have left school, we regret not having paid attention.

It may be directed towards future holidays in the country whose language you are learning, it may be directed towards being better able to understand a friend who speaks it as a first language. Or it may just be for the fun of it. Learning another language – off your own initiative – is a beneficial process. It allows you to exercise your brain, and makes you more receptive to the process of learning. When we have sought out an opportunity to learn, it is much easier to follow the learning process than if it is forced upon us.

In learning another language you learn so much more than just the words and the rules of the language. A language is formed by the culture in which it has arisen. So by learning the language you learn a lot about the people who speak it and the country or countries where they live. There can be a lot of secondary learning opportunities. Early on in a subject’s vocabulary you will learn about food, for example. This can play directly into learning about how to make the dishes whose names you have learned. So by learning French, you will learn French culture, French cuisine… the options open up the longer you go on.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to Ahmed Dawn Dot Com site. This article originally published on the above website on May 1, 2009.