Shadi Mirza


Don't mistake self-love for complacency

Photo by Alan Hurt Jr. on Unsplash

Confidence is sexy. In my last post, I talked about not letting other people control you. Part and parcel of that is not letting them tear you down either. When you act like you're King Shit of Fuck Mountain—and you feel like it, too—you're a walking, talking, self-fulfilling prophecy.

Yeah, acting like you're crushing it is the first step toward actually crushing it. But there's a dark side to believing in the positive power of your own bullshit. You're lulled into the false assumption that you have no room for improvement. And that's a different kind of bullshit—the stinky kind.

Take me for example. I'd be lying through my teeth if I said I was perfect. I flip off crappy drivers. I get frustrated easily. I drink so much coffee that my teeth feel like carpet. I'm introverted to a fault. I have trouble slowing down. I really should cut back on all of those things.

Don't get it twisted, though. I'm not here to rain on your safe spaces. Body positivity is a beautiful thing—no one should ever have to live feeling uncomfortable in their own skin. You do you.

But—but—keep an inventory of your faults. Be introspective. I gave you just a snapshot of my faults, and that means I'm ahead of the game. Because I'm aware of my imperfections, and I'm trying to do something about them.

The long and short of it is, nobody's perfect. Be mindful of your faults. Endeavor to work on the things you can fix. Yes, accept the things you can't, but not at the expense of other people. Because if you live for yourself, and only yourself, then, baby, you're a narcissist.

And narcissists are garbage people.

#Psychology #Life #Narcissism

What “The Push” really tells us about human nature

Photo by A. L. on Unsplash

I've talked, briefly, about The Push before. While I was initially mesmerized by the idea that a certain subset of the population can be easily manipulated to commit murder, it's the larger idea of Derren Brown's special on Netflix that has stayed with me:

Often, we readily hand over authorship of our lives.

Road rage: The struggle is real

The epiphany came in traffic. I was trying to merge onto the I-17S, signal on and everything. A dude in a Mustang sped up instead of allowing me over, and, without thinking, I flipped him off.

Now, I preach positivity. If Andrew W.K. started a church, I'd worship at the pews. Road rage isn't a thing I believe in, and, yet, one action by a total stranger sends me into a flurry of obscene gestures.

In other words, I allowed some nameless jerk-off to snatch the pen from my hand and write in the book of my life. And it isn't the first time. Just yesterday, I talked yesterday about how my coworkers' negativity slowly put a damper on my own mood.

Death by a thousand cuts

This is how Derren Brown intended to wear down his mark and coerce him into committing murder: small acts, each sending Brown's victim further and further into a web of lies.

So it is in the real world. When I first started driving, I never would have dreamt of flipping someone off. But with each act of careless driving I endured, my resolve wore down. After many years, the person I swore I'd never be was the person I'd become.

And that's slightly unnerving.

Our lives are our stories. As a writer, the words that spill out from my mind and onto the page aren't immediately perfect. I pause, reread and, most importantly, edit myself. We all could stand to do a little bit of that in life, too.

Take control

Don't let some jerk be your co-author. Pause, take a deep breath and write a way forward that isn't influenced by another person's thoughtlessness. Because that's the kicker: often, the actions that make us angry have no thought or intention behind them.

You can't control what other people do. But you are the captain of your ship. So don't just spin the wheel like a maniac. Take it firmly in your grasp and steer your emotions with intention.

#Life #Self #Psychology

Seriously, bedrooms should not be used for punishment.

“You cannot teach children to behave better by making them feel worse. When children feel better, they behave better.” — Pam Leo

One of the many truisms about writing is that the more you do it, the better you get. I wish I could say the same about parenting. While blogging every single day has done wonders for my ego, I often go to sleep wondering if something I did or said to my eldest daughter, Nadia, has irreparably scarred her.

Fortunately, the “Parenting” topic on Quora always gives me a much-needed boost. It’s not that the parents who post questions there are “bad.” In fact, it’s the exact opposite—if you have enough humility to ask for help from other parents, clearly you care.

But this question really got me thinking a) because I’ve never had this issue and b) the solution has an Occam’s Razor-level of simplicity: if you want a break from your three-year-old, tell them to buzz off to their room for a couple of hours. If the child refuses to comply, there are deeper issues—not with your kid, mind you, but with your parenting.

Haters gonna hate (naps).

Before Nadia turned three we managed to get her into a public Montessori school. But there was a problem: this was a half-day program, so the children weren’t allowed to take naps. In fact, one of the requirements for admittance was that Nadia needed to be weaned off afternoon napping entirely.

Which was fine. From the minute she turned two, Nadia seemed preternaturally adverse to naps. You could say she hated them. Faced with the loss of those two hours to relax and watch something other than cartoons, my wife and I worried. What to do?

Enter quiet time.

This is exactly what it sounds like. You ask the child to go to their room and play independently, leaving you free to watch Netflix, read a book or do whatever.

But what if they won’t go?

Here’s the rub: if your child doesn’t enjoy being alone in their bedroom, you need to consider why. Maybe there’s nothing to do in there. Or, perhaps, you send them to their room as a form of punishment. And, thus, being alone in the bedroom makes your kid feel shitty.

Here’s why you should never, ever use the words “go to your room” as a form of punishment:

Decades of research in attachment demonstrate that particularly in times of distress, we need to be near and be soothed by the people who care for us.

But when you put your kid in “time out,” you’re essentially insisting that “they have to suffer alone.” And that sucks for them.

The bedroom is their refuge—and yours.

It also sucks for you. My heart goes out to that poor mom who went to Quora for real advice and instead got countless variations of this solution: make your kid someone else’s problem. She doesn’t need to throw money at the problem. She needs to give her kid a place to play that’s safe and fun.

Yeah, if you want a night on the town, you’re going to need a sitter. But if you just want some peace and quiet in the afternoon, that shouldn’t require forking out cold hard cash. You also don’t have to be the bad guy. Kids should love playing in their bedrooms. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve playing with, and breaking, action figures.

I mean, there was a lot of Nintendo, too, but I also played with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toys.

#Parenting #Fatherhood #Discipline #Children #Psychology

Why dish out emotion like some spoiled rich kid when you can ration it like a miser?

Did you wake up this morning in your heated house, eat breakfast in your cushy flannel pajamas and think to yourself, Damn, my life is really freaking amazing?

Nah, you probably grumbled about the cold, cursed about how high up the cereal is in the cupboard and pined for the days when food scientists will be able to engineer corn flakes that stay crisp in milk.

That homeless dude begging for change near the freeway on-ramp during your morning commute? You didn’t touch the void for a moment and imagine an alternate reality where you were in his shoes. The thought didn’t even cross your mind. What really ground your gears was the car that cut in front of you without signaling.

Totally not a pyramid scheme If you spent even a month in college, you’ve probably heard of Mazlo’s hierarchy of needs.

Basically, Mazlo theorized that a person had to take care of their physiological needs (food, clothing and shelter) before they could worry about safety (a steady job, among other things). If you believe Lazlo, a romantic relationship is nigh impossible without first addressing the bottom two tiers of the pyramid. But it’s not hard to imagine a homeless person having a low sense of self-worth.

In essence, you can’t magically get to the top. You have to work your way up.

When the bottom drops out For many of us, the most essential of human needs — the bottom of Lazlo’s pyramid — are little more than an afterthought. All our emotional energy is expended on stuff that matters less:

  • The barista who made you repeat your order at the drive-thru
  • Shitty drivers
  • The fact that Hulu’s servers are down, again

Be like Scrooge Pretend your fucks are a massive vault filled with gold coins. Yeah, you could build a diving board and jump right into that filthy lucre, but life isn’t like the cartoons. That shit would hurt.

No, you should stand there and admire those riches. Be a miser. Ration your emotional energy and spend it on the things that actually matter — like being a great parent, creating killer art or running a marathon —the long-term pursuits that make life worth living.

Also, appreciate what you have. Life’s too short to worry about soggy cereal, the patch of dirt on your lawn where grass refuses to grow or how boring the latest season of Grace & Frankie was. None of that crap is worth getting emotional over.

Maybe it’s the wine talking Or perhaps I’m just more woke than I’ve ever been in my entire life, or something. But I’m tired of being apathetic when I should be empathetic, and vice versa.

Maybe you’re in the same boat. If so, I challenge you to prioritize what you give a fuck about. Because who honestly cares if the dude at Sonic forgot to put the cherry in your Cherry Limeade, again.

No, I’m not bitter. This is the start of a new chapter for me.

#Psychology #Life #SelfImprovement #Inspiration #LifeLessons