Christopher Nolan’s Inception has widely been hailed as a masterpiece, a magnus opus that explores themes of the human mind, imagination, “leaps of faith,” and most importantly, the concept of reality. It’s an interesting reputation, seeing as the majority of the film’s proponents have admitted that they have no idea what the conclusion of the movie means in context of the whole concept, and they’re ultimately left happily confused. It proves something that the movie itself wants to illustrate for the viewers: our understanding or certainty of a thing doesn’t really dictate our enjoyment, or even our participation. After all, we willingly become parts of things and institutions that we don’t understand: do most of us really understand how our own bank accounts, investments, and retirement plans work? They’re often the things that we count on to sustain us and our families into the largely uncertain future, yet we often don’t look deeper than what we’re told by so-called advisors and experts.
The question, in the movie and our lives, is whether or not we actually need to. If you’ve seen the movie, you know how the ambiguous end features a dreidel spinning but appearing to falter as the screen goes black suddenly. If the dreidel continues spinning, it means that the world that the protagonist Dom has successfully made it to is actually a dream, and if it stops it signifies that Dom is in fact, still dreaming. And the interesting thing about this end is that earlier in the movie he watches the dreidel intensely waiting with gun in hand to quite frankly (blow his brains out) if the dreidel stops spinning, he now spins the dreidel with quite some force and walks away from it; after all he’s been through, he honestly doesn’t care what’s reality or not. He’s been reunited with his children after two years, back in his home country after being kept out as an international dream-thief. And there’s a delicate balance in this. The lesson in the movie isn’t to blindly stroll through life believing everything you’re told and accepting everything as concrete. After all, with this mindset nothing would ever be innovated because no one would ever question the status quo. However, there is merit in knowing when to be patiently content, to take what is as what should be without rocking the boat in every matter. Living life like this, we’d probably all be quite tired and insane.
That balance has to come with learning to “accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference." The balance isn’t clear-cut, and like with most things, there is no manual to figure it out on the go. Our manual is knowledge by way of experience, and sometimes failure. So there’s wisdom in both of the ways we can see the end of the movie, whether that be accepting a reality or continuing to question the world around you. It all depends on if you’re a Dom or a Mal when you wake up.
Children’s movies are almost never “just for kids” these days. And that’s a good thing, because if you’re a parent, you know that your kids not only want you to go see movies with them, they want you to love it! And with movies like Lion King, you truly can.
Lion King is an incredible, moving story of a son who lost his beloved father and is uprooted from his home in a political coup, only to return later on to face his past, his personal demons, and the new illegitimate king and become the leader he was always meant to become. Still sound like a silly kids’ movie? There’s lots to learn here, and we can start from the beginning, with an eager Simba who “just can’t wait to be king,” even though he has no idea what being king means. In other words, he wants power, respect, and responsibilities even though he has no idea what they really entail. When his father, Mufasa, is killed by his scheming uncle, Scar, he quickly learns that the life of a king is not one he wants. His uncle tricks him into running away from home for fear of being blamed for his father’s death and he seems to abandon his destiny. Fast forward some time, he’s made new friends far from home and has even fallen in love with Nala, a childhood friend. When he finally gathers the courage to come home, he struggles initially to have the strength to defeat Scar, but he finally overcomes and there is, of course, a happy ending.
So what can we learn from the movie, underneath the cute animation and catchy songs? Often, we’re unprepared for the destiny that we want, and we have to go through tough learning processes in order to get us ready for the greatness that’s in store. Our trials and tribulations can seem unfair or rushed, like we’re having our innocence taken away from us, but we easily forget how we ask for certain things and want them right away. Sometimes,God is makes us wait and puts us through these things so that He can give us what we ask for. And it’s not out of a cruel sense of humor, it’s because we really do all have destinies that require our best selves to fill the role. So don’t be discouraged if you feel like you’re far away from your destiny! There’s a process and tests you have to go through before you can enjoy the fruits of your labor, so keep your head down and learn your lessons now so you can have what you want later on.
If you’re like me, you’re constantly trying to get more out of your day, but you know there are some habits you have that are hindering you from doing so. What’s worse, you know you have to get rid of them but you just don’t know what to do in their place so no matter what you always fall back into the same old habits. Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news and they’re actually the same thing: you’re just like everyone else! So here’s how to breakout from those productivity barriers and stand out.
Find Out How You Work Best
Everyone has work habits which make them more productive, creative, efficient, and so on. If you don’t have any, don’t worry! You likely haven’t taken the proper time and attention to find out what they are. Think about a time when you were “in flow”, working at what seemed to be a miraculous pace and not missing a step: it feels like you’re performing and creating at the same time, and it’s a very unique feeling so you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. Now hold that memory: where were you? What kind of chair were you sitting in? Were you sitting at all? Were you listening to music? Were you typing or talking? All of these are important questions to ask in order to recreate our best work scenarios and maximize our productive potential. It doesn’t guarantee that every time you prepare to get work done you’ll slip into this super-mode, but it definitely helps your chances at getting more quality work done.
This seems like a “duh” point to make, but it’s of paramount importance so I really should mention it. You must learn to put your phone down (I’m talking to you, fellow millennials), close out your social media tabs, and even listen to music with minimal distractions. Unless your work directly involves social media, it’s nothing but a distraction, and even though it feels like a harmless bit of time is being wasted, that time adds up! The chances of you having an epiphany while you’re engaged with it are slim to none anyway, so I’m doing you a favor. And as for the music, heavy, loud production in the background of your working mind tends to actually throw you off: if you’re playing a song that makes you wanna dance, not only are you trying to pour your focus into your work, you’re also having to be very intent about trying not to dance at the same time! Classical, house, and soul music tend to go great with work habits so take some time off on a lunch break or weekend to make a playlist of work-friendly music you can listen to to keep from focusing more on the music than your work.
Schedule Your Time Out
One of the worst mistakes you can make when it comes to trying to be productive is starting your work day with a “blank slate.” Of course you have things to do, but you have no plan of action, and as the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. And if you’re reading this, you’re at least a little invested in your success, so do yourself a huge favor and make a list, even if it is only mental, of things you want to get accomplished that day. Prioritize the list, and do your best not to stray from the plan! Barring any unforeseen circumstances or interruptions, you should be able to exercise discipline and knock those things out as long as they’re reasonable, thought-out goals. This is a big deal! Even if you’re not a ‘planning type of person’: become one!
Take Controlled Breaks
I don’t really have to speak to his too much because I believe we’re all naturally lazy so breaks pretty much come naturally. However, what doesn’t come naturally is taking smart breaks. Our “me” time needs to be optimized, minimized, and taken often. A small 5-minute breather when you finish writing a blog post, for example (a personal favorite). Or maybe you tell yourself you’re not going to get up and grab that snack until you finish a portion of a design you’re working on. Whatever it is, set mini-goals throughout the day and reward yourself for them. Not only will it make sure you’re not wasting as much time, it will also motivate you. The pleasure centers in your brain need stimulation which is converted into energy you can use to be productive, and whereas most people are getting this stimulation from social media and putting it right back where they found it, you can stand out by making those ‘gold star’ moments go towards achieving another one! So, it really is good to pat yourself on the back, and to do so fairly often.
Well, what are you still reading this post for? Break’s over: go be productive!