Vacations

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” Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. “

-Soren Kierkegaard

Are you ready for a once in a lifetime get-away! Are you feeling the dread of the work week! Do you ever feel like your life is a dull mindless routine! Well, think again! With our exclusive vacations, all your problems will go away! No more depressive thoughts! Call now to receive this once in a lifetime deal plus a gift card of your choice to spend in anything you want! This is basically what every get-away commercial is based-off emotion appealing benefits. Therefore, our mind is tricked into creating a beautiful reality where we envision ourselves enjoying in beautiful sandy beaches without a worry in the world and sipping on frosty piña coladas while watching our picture-perfect family. Don’t get me wrong this is an excellent thought to have, especially since modern-day marketing models many of its advertisements from these elements. Additionally, vacations are romanticized throughout social media, many of us posting these nicely edited photos to make our holidays seem nicer than what they are. Unfortunately, this sets our expectations higher, allowing more space for disappointment and shortcomings; this can significantly affect our vacation experience, which defies the whole purpose of a vacation.

So, what is a vacation? Why do we have them? Often, we insinuate vacations with pricey hotel bookings or that we must set aside so much money to enjoy ourselves thoroughly. Unfortunately, having this mindset doesn’t allow us to enjoy our vacation. By planning more, we experience less essentially, and I know to this might sound ridiculous, but in many cases, it’s quite factual. As humans, we always like things to go our way; we feel distraught when things don’t go as planned. Now you can imagine how a family feels when their flight is canceled or when an incident prevents them from enjoying the rest of their vacation. Although, vacations are for enjoying ourselves and releasing accumulated stress which is why we look for different ways to do that; therefore, the hospitality industry takes advantage of this problem and creates all sorts of attractions to attract a wide array of demographics. As a result, of our increase in workforce and business growth, also don’t forget our populations demand for material possession that has created numerous jobs; all of these factors, demand more hours from workers, more hours cause fatigue which then makes the worker look for ways to relax. This is the backbone of most hospitality businesses which is why many emphasize the customer service component; hospitality businesses are aware of the demanding jobs many of their patrons undertake which is why they want to create unforgettable experiences. However, this cannot fix our deeper issues, which is what we need to differentiate when we travel or go on vacations.

We are the same person every place we go, see we look for happiness in these beautiful places that we find on social media. We create an illusion in our mind of how happy we are going to be or create these massive expectations that are bound to collapse at any unplanned misfortune. Ultimately, a vacation can be anywhere; anywhere our mind can feel at ease, anywhere where we can reconnect with our spirituality. We don’t have to spend much money to achieve this; instead, we need to invest in ourselves to enjoy a vacation. In other words, if you are feeling sad now and depressed anywhere, you go that same feeling will follow, we cannot deceive ourselves with changing our personalities or behaviors just because we are going on a pricey vacation. One thing we always need to remember, incremental lifestyle changes sustained over time is what impacts our overall vacation experience.

Sacrifice

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“As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

What is sacrifice? Why do we choose to sacrifice one end to achieve another end; most of the time, we don’t acknowledge how much we are surrendering to accomplish a particular goal or reality. On the other hand, many of us do acknowledge how much sacrifice and how much we are willing to tolerate or how our mind interprets the amount of sacrifice we are dealing with; see throughout history as a society we’ve sacrificed a lot of pleasurable experiences to attain pleasurable experiences right? For instance, our infrastructure has come a long way since the Paleolithic Era, where we lived in much harsher conditions incomparable to the commodities we have in the Modern Era. Nowadays, we don’t need to sacrifice as much as our ancestors did, we have everything at our convenience also we are the largest users of technology compared to previous generations; resulting, in vast innovations and services available to us, we are living in the best times we have everything.

 Despite, the ever-growing list of tragedies, nature, and wealth inequalities we are still far better off than our ancestors; ultimately, this has led us to become susceptible to any form of discomfort or adversity. For instance, when we start facing a major obstacle in our life, or any form of rejection, our emotions take over our thought process. Consequently, this affects us in more ways we can imagine, our thoughts become clouded which leads us down a self-deprecating path; this path makes us question our life choices, the path we are headed in, and the most destructive “if we are good enough.” Unfortunately, these questions bring negative effects to our well-being and self-motivation/will; these can cause complacency in our journey to achieve our greatest dreams. 

Throughout my experiences, I have learned the values of sacrifices in various forms, spiritually, mentally, and physically. For instance, my weight loss journey is one of my most significant achievements yet; my story began in my Freshman year of High School where I was weighing roughly 270 IBS at 6”3 which is significant weight even for a taller individual. In fact, most of my weight loss stemmed from my poor diet and lifestyle choices. Even though fast food and carb-loaded meals are pleasurable due to the various components that stimulate our taste-buds though they can cause detrimental effects in our dietary nutrition; in other words, anything in life that is pleasurable has negative elements associated to them which is what causes our addiction-fueled cravings for that thing and eventually seeping us into greater pain than we ever anticipated. Ultimately, I hit rock bottom when I visited the clinic, and I had to get a physical for school which at the time I thought nothing was wrong with me; however, my experience was anything but quaint.

First, I had to weigh myself, which I was already self-conscious about, and what the scale told me was even more soul-crushing a whopping 270 IBS! Almost 300 pounds! Afterward, the doctor finished the job by telling me that my poor eating habits took effect on my cholesterol, blood pressure, and sugar levels which could potentially shorten my lifespan, this hit me harder than any words ever have. This affected me deeply that weeks after I started developing a black hole inside my head, this black hole consumed all my positive thoughts and optimism. Otherwise, known as depression, many shy away from depression since our culture has labeled as this negative feeling that only eats your life away. In a way that is true, though it shouldn’t only be seen with this perspective, like anything we need balance in our life’s health, occupation, and emotional components. Therefore, depression shouldn’t be used as a negative emotion, rather a reflective even meditative form of therapy; depression augments our problems in ways that positivity can’t even enter our thought process to ease the feeling of somber. Thus, causing our mind to only focus on that problem, see many times we don’t know why we are depressed, or why we feel the way we do. In my opinion, it is the bodies way of communicating an issue that hasn’t been addressed properly; therefore, our minds create scenarios of what would happen if we don’t change this or find a solution to this problem.

Sadly, this is where many of us misinterpret depression or why we have this emotion. Therefore, many deny this feeling even bury it with self-fulfilling prophecies and illusive tendencies; this is where we start to halt our advances to achieve our greatest feats and fall into complacency or “living a lie”. Understanding these frameworks is what allowed me to enjoy sacrificing pleasurable experiences to attain a better pleasurable experience. Although this might sound vague, this is the exact mentality we need to preserve when facing any form of sacrifice to making goals for new year’s resolutions. What pleasurable things are you willing to give up to achieve this goal, what are you willing to sacrifice? Would you enjoy sacrificing those things? Personally, I had to give up playing video games for long periods of time, not eating my favorite meals, and changing my whole routine to regain my health. At first, this may seem challenging giving up what you love to do just to achieve some obscure goal; however, once you start to grasp the difference between short-term and long-term experience you will be able to program your mind to crave long-lasting change then sacrifices will seem less arduous and more like a pathway to achieve your greatest desires. Likewise, this is what creates a successful mentality, becoming comfortable with undesirable experiences and accepting all forms of sacrifices; nature changes, our climate changes, nothing ever remains stagnant, once we become stagnant, we don’t grow, and we become too comfortable and complacent in our society. Ultimately, we all need to pass through a thunderstorm, hurricane, any form of disaster and give up a few commodities to reach the summit of our potential.

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The Culture of Materialism

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Throughout our history we didn’t preoccupy our minds in needing wanting excess materialistic possessions, we only required things we used to survive the day-to-day routine; for instance, basic shelter, enough food, and the means to obtain resources/supplies to cover basic needs. However, nowadays our mindsets have changed drastically, we are now fixated on the excess material that is advertised to us either through social media or directly in retail stores. Therefore, we have created a delusional hamster wheel were have succumbed to buying and trading goods endlessly year after year. Consequently, we have a placed value on always having more, buying more, and hoarding till our heart is almost filled; however, after all those shopping trips, and compulsive buying behaviors we are still left discontent with an ever-growing void.

We don’t realize how all the material possessions we crave once obtained will still leave us feeling empty, and the happiness achieved will only be short-term. Sadly, many do not realize this concept and still delude their minds with illusions of completion in their lives solely based on material possessions. As a result, we create more problems than we initially solve; therefore, companies take advantage of this undesirable mechanism which they can feed new products too; thus, repeating the cycle of wanting something, purchasing it, flaunting it, and then craving more. Similarly, this is the lifeline of fashion trends; it starts with the diffusion of advertisements through various platforms where an amassed number of consumers start sharing and eventually purchase from one or multiple vendors. Later, this becomes the spotlight for a certain period where trends begin, and maturity stage of the marketing cycle begins. Ultimately, this where trends start dying off, and we find something new to start fixating on; see we can’t base our self-fulfillment and happiness on these trends or fashion marketed products it is self-destructive an endless cycle of consumption, our foundations begin within ourselves not some human-made product.


     As I was strolling through the local mall one on a Friday evening and seeing all the “Final Sale,” “Today only.” Moreover, I wondered should I take advantage of this sale that’s so alluring and so desirable which only supported my impulse to go in the store and browse through products I am only going to use a few times then end up in the depth corners of my closet. Which is why I suppress my impulses to purchase anything and just ended up window shopping. See our culture is fixated on materialistic tendencies since the beginnings of trade and commerce it symbolizes wealth, a long-lasting life, and a way to reduce/fix our problems. This the main reason why products are invented primarily to build an illusion in our mind the pleasures we will receive from using and showing them in social settings. Ultimately, this is the way we have thrived after the commencement of commerce, so why should this matter? Well our answer lies within a biological trait we are instilled with, the eternity question. The eternity question follows us throughout our lives; it plagues our mind to create values and metrics on how we evaluate our lives. Therefore, a mix of material abundance and eternal life metrics creates an everlasting craving for material attainment; in other words, when we purchase or seek goods the underlying value is that by buying a specific quantity or type of product will give us the high that we are going to have a form of eternal life. For instance, when we visit a clothing store, we see a few items on sale, and our mind goes banana for these types of deals which makes us think and this is the result. Those shirts look so lovely if I buy this one I can wear them for my next office party. Oh, this shirt would go perfect for my brother’s wedding. See the underlying value here; our impulses have a perpetual eternity trait, which is why we see all these monuments and statues with various names on them many of them unknown to us, which is one of the major components to our grueling hunger to attain material possessions this horrid value and its black hole of consumption.


     Now this unwanted trait alone isn’t what makes us a society materialistic, see our brain is one of the greatest and trickiest components of the human organism; our mind is made up of many emotions and logically based mechanisms which is why we need to cope with different responses and emotions with logical based thinking. As a result, many institutions have taken rigorous amounts of time to study the human brain and what triggers certain events, and they’ve concluded that our mind feeds more from emotion-based stimuli than logical reasoning. Ultimately, adopting different methods to seduce our emotion-based thinking compartment and with the rise of social media usage, this has only facilitated the way our minds reacts and what responses it has on our impulses. Consequently, social media is an easily accessible communications tool where they now have the power to advertise products and services. For example, Instagram has integrated a live story mode to its posting capabilities which displays a real-time event, and commonly businesses take advantage of this by posting a group of individuals having a grand time with the usage of their product in some form or a public figure using their product.

Ultimately, this has an untreated effect in our emotion-based thinking which generates social value for the product associated in the advertisement which is why we favor name brand products like Nike, Adidas, Apple, and designer clothing. It is all supported by celebrities and instilled in different forms of media; unfortunately, this has created a disastrous mindset in many demographics where if one individual is seen with a specific name brand product, they are given opulence and praise in social settings. Thus, spreading into other social issues like bullying and denigrating others due to their lack of attaining that product; however, many lower social-class individuals use their limited resources in achieving these wanted name brand products despite having any money left to purchase their necessities. As a result, many individuals do this to gain social status/re-assurance that they fit into a particular social cohort. This trait is inherent, though, throughout history, we have thrived because of social gatherings. From tribal groups to vast incorporated empires; although, we need human grouping to survive as a species we have based it off common values like religion, tradition, customs, or even a common goal which is more sustainable and meaningful than if our neighbor utilizes the same name brand shoes, phone, or electronic appliances.


      In summary, we cannot sojourn our materialistic predispositions altogether it is highly illogical since it is the bloodline for economies and the rudimentary functions of society. However, we can re-prioritize our values and how we perceive our purchasing impulses by really placing importance on things that matter and not evaluating others by what they have, nonetheless, what they offer. See our society provides a lot more commodities and luxuries than it did years ago due to technological advances and constant innovation; one thing that hasn’t changed is the wealth gap the subliminally deteriorates many. Sadly, many of us compare our lives because of the worldly possessions’ other possess, which is so saddening since many material objects are dispensable and replaceable. Ultimately, we need to place an importance on spiritual values and see what we can offer to others, not material items, simply what we can give intangibles like love, compassion, and acceptance of hardships. As a society we have become fixated on the material and how we evaluate our lives and others based on what they wear instead of going back to the roots of true human unification which are intangibles things that are not dispensable. Our happiness must be based on consuming less and prioritizing our happiness on spiritual and development of our well-being without the consumption of materialistic things.

By: Gerald Francis & Megan Pozzaglio

My Story – Gerald Francis (Website Administrator)

My life story thus far is like many of you full of surprises and downfalls, which of course is expected with our ever-changing society. Let’s initiate with my upbringing; I grew up in a variety of nations, primarily in Western Europe, which influenced my personality, music tastes, and love for the arts. However, it was not always like this; I was born in the small nation of El Salvador, which is located in the middle of Mesoamerica whose neighbors are Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. In retrospect, my childhood was a blend of different elements from enjoying the simplest things, living a humble environment, and the interaction with a wide array of demographics like a cathedral mosaic pattern. Although I didn’t spend the majority of my childhood in El Salvador, I absorbed the humbleness and experiences to fuel my outlook in life, which also fueled my steady work ethic. Shortly, my family and I moved to the United Kingdom where I had to learn adaptability since I did not know any English whatsoever, and my school did not have many ESOL programs since it lacked in diversity; thus, no little demand which meant I had to learn the hard way and adapt to the environment I was living in. Hence, the origins of my developing adaptability trait; this trait has facilitated my ability to interact with different demographics and adapt to different circumstances which may favor me or be against my odds.

Subsequently, I was faced with a horrendous ordeal that plagued my life in unimaginable ways, which were my growing obesity. After moving from nation to nation and trying different kinds of cuisine at staggering serving amounts, I found myself eating more than my body could breakdown. Consequently, I did not have a sustainable exercise routine which did not favor my eating habits and my overall health; as a result, In 2016 I was feeling horrid this was my freshman year in High School it was one of the worst Monday’s I can recall. The start of the day was mundane nothing unusual the standard drag of a High School headed to their classes; however, after lunch, I was feeling light-headed my body was shaking, and I felt so weak also my hands where so numb as if needles were stuck to each finger. Therefore, my parents took me to get blood samples after calling my doctor, which revealed the horrid condition I was in; from high blood pressure to alarming stages of hypertension and even high cholesterol! Ultimately, I was at the lowest point in my life at this point I had to change my habits and develop an accountability-based system to combat these obstacles since I did not want to look 285 pounds my whole life. After, an arduous journey to of weight loss and all sorts of suffering, I finally came to my transformation of 215 pounds, which impacted my self-esteem, outlook on life, and overall lifestyle choices. In other words, I have used a similar approach to my academic career/professional career, and no matter how staggering the odds are against you, you need to hold yourself accountable to your faults and setbacks that is what makes the impact to your transformation and overall success. Unfortunately, our modern society has offered us false quick fixes with lucrative marketing practices that appeal to our emotional-based systems; for instance, many of the apps and pills we are always advertising offer a “quick-fix.” Which we savor in our minds and create mirages that our problems will be fixed, no more hardships, and pesky problems that obtrude us from achieving those highs we crave. In summary, my story is this, ever-lasting change and adaptability is impossible if we do not set accountability mechanisms to change our behavior and overall lifestyle we will not thrive and despite what popular media says about “quick-fixes” there is no such thing, and no matter what they advertise a meaningful/purposeful life is only attained through sustainable incremental changes sustained over-time.

“Look around you. Everything changes. Everything on this earth is in a continuous state of evolving, refining, improving, adapting, enhancing…changing. You were not put on this earth to remain stagnant.” 

Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

source: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/evolving