Goals for the blog, and why we Americans have it so darn good (and don’t always think so)

All right, as promised, here are my objectives for this 28 (now 27) day marathon of blogging:

– To increase traffic on my blog. Obvious, right, but considering it just went public yesterday I’ll set a specific (private, because it’s shamelessly low) goal for each week. This week’s goal will be 100 views.
– To provide varied content. There will be days where you will want to be spared the experience of being my actual diary (which I still write in, from time to time, when I’m “mad at the world,” as my mom likes to put it). That’s when nifty content like videos and songs and photos will keep this interesting, even when I’m not.
– To stick with it! I am way too lenient with myself and self-discipline in general. This is something I am not proud of, but I’m learning ways to fool myself into being productive. One such tactic I read (somewhere, I forget where) and tested recently was timing myself. Literally, I set an egg timer for 20 minutes and just hearing that incessant ticking made me value those minutes more. Wouldn’t you know it, I’m timing myself right now!
– To not keep it ALL about me. I know blogging is writing about what you know, and in my short life I’m not sure I’ve accumulated enough interesting knowledge to share with you all, but I’ll try, since those things can be more fun to read about than me, me, me.
So there are some goals, I may add some as I go along, but that’s it so far.

Something I’d like to address today is an issue Penelope Trunk brings up, about happiness. In a recent article, she stated that happiness and having options do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. In fact, there seems to be an inverse relationship between the two. Trunk uses the example of people who live in New York City versus those who live in the Midwest. She says that many people choose to live in NYC, even though the cost of living is much more expensive, because of all the options available to them. Happiness research has shown that people in New York aren’t as happy as people living in the Midwest, but their lives are interesting, and they have endless options.

The value placed on interest, and options, versus happiness, and less options, really hit home for me. My example will be between Americans and people from impoverished countries (i.e., Peru). It’s basically the same model, but on a universal scale: I can’t tell you how many people I hear at my big, wealthy university I hear complaining. About what? Homework to do, appointments to set, places to go – an overwhelming amount of options. As Americans we are afforded countless opportunities that other citizens of the world don’t have, and so many of us are unaware of this because we know nothing different. Almost all Peruvians I encountered were also, like us, unaware of (or indifferent to) a reality different from their own. And despite the lack of choices and options available to them, they were so happy. Some of the happiest people I’ve ever met, to be honest with you. And I know I can’t put Peruvians into one box, and all Americans into another, and say that my theory (which isn’t even mine) is what the world’s like. But that’s the my perspective.

Conclusion, you ask? A call to action, maybe? Get out of your comfort zone, whatever corner of the world that may be located in, and go someplace new. If possible, go someplace where the people don’t have it as good as you. Look at how they make the best of their reality, and let that build your appreciation for what you’ve got. At my job (which, as stated yesterday, rocks) I get to encourage students to make the life-changing decision of studying abroad. I can’t think of a better way to widen your horizons (cheesy as that sounds), but I also know that’s not a realistic option for many people.
I’m not trying to pose as some saint who is grateful for every little blessing in her life, but consistently being put in situations where I didn’t have all the options I would ever need sure made me a smidge more grateful for the little things in my life. You know, like understanding my professors when they’re talking, or knowing how to ask for small bills at the bank. It really is the little things.
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2 responses to “Goals for the blog, and why we Americans have it so darn good (and don’t always think so)

  1. This post almost made me cry. I was just talking to someone the other day how much different the lifestyle is in Sevilla versus the United States … and how much more I enjoyed the lifestyle of Sevilla! All we do here in the States is worry about what’s the next thing we have to do, the next place we have to be, etc. Sevilla was all about enjoying the little moments, taking your time, and never rushing away from a good time to get on to the next best thing. I need that in my life again. And it seems to me that it’s up to me to make that happen!

    • Definitely – it’s up to us to make that change. Taking time in college is hard when we feel pulled in a million different directions, one for each class and student org and well, you know. But we can do it, I know we can!

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