Our culture has changed tremendously over the last few hundred years. Our life expectancy, literacy, access to different foods, access to different places, how much information we have and the way we process it, the technology that supports us, what we know about the world and how we interact with it.
What have these differences done to us, genetically, physically, mentally, emotionally? How have we changed?
Related questions: What is time? How have we changed the world? How much does our past determine our future?
When I meet someone new, I like to ask, “Who are you?”
Most people provide their occupation as an answer, which is perfectly alright. Others share different aspects of their life that are important to their identity (e.g. if they are parents, their hobbies, something they are proud of). I especially enjoy those replies. However, a small number look at me in a weird, somewhat offended way, as if I have asked a deeply personal question on our first encounter.
I’ll phrase this week’s question somewhat differently. Either abstractly or in a real practical sense what makes you you?
Related questions: How important is the repetition in our lives? How much of our thoughts are our own? What are our responsibilities to others?
Everyone is unique. Their DNA and their experiences make them unlike anyone else.
But, on the other hand, we all share things in common, simply by the nature of being human beings. What are those things we all share, despite the color of our skin, despite the political party we belong to, despite the language we speak, despite our economic class, and despite whatever god or gods we do or don’t believe in?
What do we have in common?
Related questions: Why do we care what people think of us? What makes a personal bond? What are the advantages and disadvantages to being the same? Why do we feel the need to belong?
The saying goes, “I would have rather have tried and failed than to have never tried at all.” Is this true? Doesn’t some failure have far too lasting and unwanted consequences? Still, we would learn or experience very little if we stuck to doing what’s already comfortable to us. And, trying new things we might fail at for awhile can be enriching and exciting.
So, when is it useful to fail? What level of failure do you find acceptable? What are your limits?
Related questions: How do you define success? Do we learn more from our successes or failures? Is it okay to be wrong sometimes?
The older you get and the more experiences you have, the easier it is to become jaded. However, a sense of wonder at the marvels of the world help to motivate us, and drive us to learn and appreciate life more.
So how to resist that creeping sense of boredom or frustration? How can we maintain wonder?
Related questions: What are the pros and cons of experience? What can be learned from children? How do we learn?