give or take: the conventional root

You’ve decided. It’s perfect for you. It represents a direct way to self-fulfillment, and you have so much to offer. You’ve studied hard, worked hard. The way to make a real contribution has presented itself. What lies at the root of conventional responses, of a course of action widely followed by your competition? So then how to distinguish yourself?

Demonstrate your uncompromising commitment by word and action. Volunteer time, if not money, for a related nonprofit. Here’s how a grassroots social enterprise in New Orleans, for one, serves those on both sides of the so-called divide. Write personal cards to all involved, not just email acknowledgements. Research people, places and events. Become deeply informed. Find out all you can about its mission, its past achievements, its future goals. Be direct, allow your integrity to guide the process, and conduct yourself without fear or hesitance. Write an op-ed piece on a relevant topic. Submit an article to a trade publication. Offer to speak to a community group with common objectives.

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the result of inaction: heavy brainfall

HeavyBrainfallThe consequences of a lack of exercise are swift and severe, especially as the calendar continues its relentless passage. With an abundance of physical activity, though, the benefits are equally extreme and measurable. Low cholesterol. Strong heart. Vibrant bones and muscles. Little excess body fat. Increased creativity and stamina.

But society works against all that in the name of “ease of use.” The country as a whole no longer directly reaps the fields or catches animals and fish, instead sitting in offices day in and day out and ordering in. While passing through any thoroughfare in any town in any county in any state, one need not even get out of the car to load up on carbs and saturated fat, a circumstance ushered in by the glorious drive-thru window.

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the easy way out: artificial sweetener

The human drive to become physically sated expresses itself in many ways. In the realm of food, to take just one of a hundred examples, the richer the better. Yet is all that saturated fat in beef, chicken and fish preparations really necessary? What purpose does our society’s overwhelming tendency toward sugar serve? Balance the passing ArtificialSweetenermoments of pleasure against diabetes, weight gain, inflammation, high cholesterol and blood pressure, and a whole host of etceteras. Yet these preparations overwhelmingly dominate the diets of those within the developed world (burger chains don’t sell billions in Bangladesh).

Would that those tendencies could be translated to become mentally sated! Such desires are nowhere near as pervasive within our culture, within our homes. The physical body has practical limits; it’s difficult to survive when toting 350 or 400 pounds. But can the brain ever get enough? Feed it every day. Push and stretch till it hurts. Work hard to become sated in this way and experience first-hand just how difficult it is to actually reach that point. When was the last time you pushed away from your desk, muttering, “I couldn’t learn another thing”?

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