Be Yourself: A Simple But Powerful Message

Leave a comment Standard
Enjoying Life

(Photo Credit: The Stress Relief Program)

Be yourself.  In the postmodern epoch, too many people in the United States and across the globe are focused on being “people-pleasers” and aren’t focused on simply being who they are.  When you exercise the freedom you have to be yourself, you open up a world of new possibilities for yourself.  People who don’t have the courage to be themselves are being dominated by the bondage of fear.  You can make a decision today to liberate yourself from the bondage of fear.  Fear arrests your development.

Never be afraid to chart your own course in life.  Don’t worry about not seeing a model of who you would like to become—be the person and change you desire to see.

It’s never too late to start living a life of true freedom.  You’re not really liberated until you make the decision to live your life on your own terms.

Give yourself the chance to be the best you.  This is only possible by releasing yourself from the pressure to be someone who you aren’t.

Live your best life.  Muster the courage to be yourself.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

About these ads

Summer 2014 Will Be Remembered by Pharrell’s “Happy”

Comment 1 Standard
Pharrell Williams "Happy"

(Photo Credit: Digital Spy)

When we look back 20 years from now, we will define Summer 2014 by Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.” “Happy” is the hit track from Williams’ second album, Girl (2014), and the Despicable Me 2 (2013) soundtrack.  The song calls each individual to love being who he or she really is.  It’s becoming increasingly more lucid where we are right now in the postmodern epoch is a time when too many individuals suffer from psychic fragmentation.  Too many people have become so focused on being what others want them to be that they don’t even know who they really are any longer—it’s possible they never even gave themselves a chance to learn who they really are. With the release of “Happy,” Williams offers a valuable counter-narrative to the dominant American narrative that says who you really are isn’t good enough, and to be good enough you need to be someone you aren’t.

The challenge to the status quo “Happy” presents begins with the song’s ingenious author, Pharrell Williams.  Although we’re living in a time when people highly embrace flashy phenomena they hope will make them standout, Williams finds peace in simple elegance.  He knows how to make simple clothing, clothing that’s not flashy, refreshingly elegant.  When we see Mr. Williams, we’re witnessing a human being who has been liberated from the postmodern impulse to be someone he’s not.  “Happy” has given us an opportunity to experience the true substance that composes Pharrell.  Through his amazingly successful song, music fans are provided with a powerful alternative to the prevalent fear countless individuals have about loving who they truly are.

“Happy” has been #1 on the Billboard Top 100 and #1 on music charts in 19 countries.  Even with this song’s great success and wide popularity, it does not seem to have had any meaningful impact on changing America’s fascination with the superficial over the substantial.  One of the primary reasons for this could be how distracted we can get with hot beats that make us dance.  Unfortunately, we too often don’t want to reflect on why these beats make us want to dance in the first place. If we would engage more closely with the positive messages of “Happy,” it’s possible for us to move closer to understanding the value of diversity, and we might even start cherishing diversity.  This will require us to move past the hot beats and the dancing those beats promote and develop into a more reflective people.  Critical reflection enable us to see how Pharrell’s song can be employed as a vehicle to engender a massive wave of camaraderie and harmony among sundry people across the nation and globe who are presently divided.

For the real power of the song to be unleashed, it will take intellectuals, scholars, activists, community leaders, religious leaders, politicians, teachers, and many others to muster the courage to host nationwide forums, lectures, debates, and etc. where substantive discourse can take place about the song and how its messages can be used to instigate change in America and across the world.

Music has the ability to transform lives, to transform nations.

Even though Williams’ song may not produce the type of critical discourse across the nation and globe it merits, the song’s staying power will give us an opportunity to heed its vital messages even 20 years from now.  When we take a moment to envision a nation and world that mirrors the one offered by the music video for “Happy,” we begin to acknowledge how priceless the song is.  The song helps us to realize that our differences should unite us instead of divide us.  “Happy” seems to suggest that our differences shouldn’t cause us to lose sight of our universal longing for happiness.

History will inevitably mark Summer 2014 as a watershed moment in world history when “Happy” caused people to think seriously about the importance of simply being themselves.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Being Normal Means Being Yourself

Comments 8 Standard

Be Yourself(Photo Credit: Tumblr )

When being “normal” is defined as being yourself, then what could possibly be wrong with being normal?  Nothing!  The reason why I choose to define being normal as being yourself is you first learn how to be your normal self; that is, the person who you really are.  People in the postmodern epoch are fervently concerned with trying to be “different.”  Unfortunately, their efforts to try to be different cause them to become people alien to their authentic self.

In “What White Publishers Won’t Print,” Zora Neale Hurston writes, “Difference is misreading of sameness, but it must be represented in order to be erased.  The resistance to finding out that the other is the same springs out of the reluctance to admit that the same is other.”  Many people’s efforts to appear to be different take them away from realizing the full power and potential of being who they really are.  One shouldn’t feel compelled to attempt to be different—you’re already different when you’re born.  When you try to be different, you’re really just attempting to be like everyone else; you’re striving for societal and peer acceptance, which many believe it requires doing the same things others are doing to maintain their cool pose.

Dr. Cornel West says, “Too many young folk have addiction to superficial things and not enough conviction for substantial things like justice, truth and love.”  While Dr. West’s statement is profound without any modifications, I contend that it’s not only young people who “have an addiction to superficial things and not enough conviction for substantial things like justice, truth, and loves,” but also a tremendous number of adults embrace the superficial over the substantial.  Many grown 20 to 50 year old men and women are still uncomfortable being themselves, so they elect to adopt identities they feel society will adore.  These identities are masked by their pronouncements that they’re “different.”  They say they’re different to protect themselves from charges that they’re not being themselves.  If you genuinely desire to be different, then simply be who you are—do and say what comes natural.

Being normal is not being average.  Living a false image of being different is average; in fact, it’s below average.

Resist the postmodern American impulse to be who society says you have to be.  It’s okay to be who you are.  You will find that you will live a happier life when you make the choice to be who you really are.

Are you really able to tell someone who you really are?

There’s nothing wrong with improving yourself, but you should never deny yourself the opportunity to experience the true freedom to live life without limitations, borders and boundaries.

Be happy.  Be free.  Be you.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Transparent, Direct and Substantive Critiques

Comments 2 Standard

Black Men Arguing

When you’re attempting to critique someone, be sure the critique is transparent, substantive and direct.  If you truly intend for the critique to have an impact on the individual, then deliver the critique directly to the person—not to someone else or through any other indirect communication medium.  Now, if you’re just blowing off steam, that’s one thing but if you have an authentic desire for your critique of someone to have a lasting effect, then you want to say what you have to say about the person via a face-to-face meeting, over the phone, email, or a letter.  In order to ensure what you have to say has substance, be as specific as possible about what you intend to communicate.

America is filled with too many people who are cowards.  If you’re going to “tell someone off,” when are you actually going to talk to that person directly?  Are you really “telling someone off” when you are talking about that person to everyone except that particular person?

Before your critique will have any significance, you’re going to need to shed any sugarcoated language that may be a part of the critique.  Stop worrying about hurting people’s feelings when you get ready to critique them.  If what you have to say is going to destroy a person’s life, then just allow it to destroy the person’s life; he or she is the one who is crazy for letting what you have to say destroy his or her life.

One way to shut someone’s mouth who is trying to critique you in a clandestine and malicious way is to engage that person in a public discourse.  If he or she is really interested in having a truly transparent conversation, then he or she will not mind having the needed conversation in front of an audience.  I’m a person who loves engaging in a public discourse with people who want to critique me, especially those who like to offer their critiques of me in devious and malevolent ways.  The more people listening to me really “let you have it” is always more interesting and fun for me.

It’s time out for playing games with people.  Don’t let someone verbally pound away at you indirectly.  When you’re able to recognize that someone is running his or her mouth about you in private to people, which can be made obvious by how certain people respond to you now and how they respond to that person, call that person out!  Stop letting people off the hook!

Do you really want to offer a critique about someone or would it be better for you to keep it to yourself?  Are you really prepared for the person’s rebuttal to your critique?  Is the reason why you will not give your critique to the person in a direct way a result of your cowardice?

You have to realize that people aren’t going to keep letting you say negative things about them and not eventually respond to you in ways you may not be ready to handle.  Think about the things you say and do before you let them go forth.

Be sure you have the appropriate evidence to substantiate what you have to say about someone.  The people you’re making angry might be able to respond to your critique with arguments and evidence of their own about you that can shut your mouth for eternity.  Again, think before you react!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Avoiding Problems Doesn’t Remove Them

Comments 2 Standard

Black Man

(Photo Credit: madamenoire.com)

If you keep running from your problems, you will never find a resolution to them.  When you try to pretend like your problems aren’t there, you’re only making them worse: the longer you avoid seeking solutions to your problems, the more difficult they become to address.  Too many people attempt to sham like they have conquered the quandaries that have given them the most pain.  It’s becoming popular for many people to say they’re “reinventing themselves,” “renewing themselves,” “living a new life,” and etc., but the reality is a true change in your life materializes conspicuous signs of change—not facades.  When many people say the aforementioned things, they’re making an effort to have others to believe their lies; they want others to think they’re living a life where they’re facing their problems directly when they’re not.

If you’re really “reinventing” yourself, “renewing” yourself, and “living a new life,” then why are there no substantive ostensible changes in your life?  Why are you unwilling to truly be yourself?  What continues to hold you back from real progress?  At the core of the answers to those questions is one’s intentional effort to run away from, hide, disguise, and bury his or her problems instead of working to defeat them.

You don’t have to live your life trying to hide and evade your problems; you can conquer them.  You must, however, be willing to deal candidly with those problems.  One can make serious progress toward remedying his or her quandaries when he or she musters the courage to confront them boldly.  Too many people attempt to bury their problems behind materialistic phenomena like money, cars, clothes, jewelry, houses, jobs, degrees, and etc., but trying to camouflage those things that are eating away at you will inevitably lead to your own undoing.

Although you may fool a number of people with your efforts to present your life as devoid of problems, the majority of folks know you have some problems—no matter what you say.  Everything’s not always going good for you.  Life exposes us to occasional challenges and problems, so don’t try to act like you’re so special and exempt for this reality.  When you invest significant time in trying to prove to others that you’re living a newly “invented” and “transformed” life, you already know authentic happiness doesn’t exist in your life, and you’re the one who is preventing real happiness from existing in your life.

Don’t allow pride to keep you from asking for help from others.  Additionally, don’t let your pride be the ultimate source of your problems.

It would be so much better to see someone truly living an ameliorated life than living a life of continuous lies; a life where one dons a faux happiness.  While things may not be going great for you right now, don’t try to pretend like they are.  Make a strong effort to engender the change in your life that will produce genuine positive results and progress—not results and “progress” that have to be fictitiously manufactured.

Boldly face your problems today and have a truly improved tomorrow.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Shatter Unnecessary Comfort Zones

Comments 6 Standard

Antonio Maurice Daniels

Certain aspects of our day require planning and adhering to a routine.  We do, however, have many opportunities to experience the joy of life that comes from unrestricted spontaneity.  When people are beholden to comfort zones, their lives are dominated by routinization; that is, a highly regimented and scheduled life that acquiesces to the dictates of late capitalism.  Life devoid of spontaneity is mundane and uninteresting.  Although people should not go out and do things that are immature, one needs to benefit from occasional adventures.  Don’t allow your comfort zones to limit who you are and what you can become.

About three years ago, I had one of the most exciting experiences of my life: I went kayaking.  As someone who cannot swim, the thought of kayaking is something I would have never imagined I would do.  One of my best friends, Dr. Renaldo Blocker, convinced me to go kayaking, although I was opposed at first.  Even though I knew there were some potential risks associated with kayaking, I did not allow those risks to prevent me from having a truly fun adventure.  Dr. Blocker, a mutual friend at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and I went kayaking on Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin.  We all had a great time.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

From this experience, I gained a deeper appreciation for the power one obtains from conquering something he fears.  I learned that when one focuses more on meeting a challenge instead of surrendering to it, he can overlook the fear related to the challenge and simply embrace the pure bliss of the moment.

It was such a wonderful day to go kayaking that summer in Madison, Wisconsin, considering it was a really hot day but the coolness of the lake assuaged the sun’s impact.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

Develop a passion for learning something new every week and doing something you’ve never done each month.  When you shatter your unnecessary comfort zones, you can discover strength, resolve, confidence, skills, knowledge, and much more you never recognized you had.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

My Great Life Produces Great Haters

Comments 5 Standard

 

Happiness

(Photo credit: ernohannink)

In many classic literary stories, we read the line: “And they lived happily ever after.”  I truly live a great life.  Even when I’m not having the best day, I still have a smile on my face.  I have been fortunate to accomplish many amazing things and have amassed noteworthy credentials.  I have learned that many people are not going to be pleased with the fact I’m happy.  Over the years, many people have developed a hatred for me.  The reason most of them hate me is I refuse to be like them and/or my happiness, confidence and assertiveness unsettles them.  At the core of all my haters is deep envy.

Many individuals don’t like me because of my lack of interest in getting married right now.  At the moment, I’m focused on my professional and academic life and don’t have any interest to seriously contemplate marriage.  I enjoy my single life.  I’m single by choice—trust me.  All of the people who have negatively criticized me for not being married are not in desirable marriages or relationships.  Although many people don’t want to admit it, there are many advantages to remaining single.  For those Christians who like to harshly criticize me for not being married, I want them to study First Corinthians more.  In First Corinthians, Paul explains that it is better for a person to stay single, considering he or she is in a better position to serve Christ.

Many people argue that it’s weird for an almost 32 year old man to not be married or involved in a solemn relationship with a woman.  Well, when did I say I was striving to not be “weird”?  Too often the constructions of “normal” are about hegemony, assimilation and conformity.  I’m a revolutionary—not a status quo guy.  An almost 32 year old Black man can be happily single, devoted to his professional career and doctoral studies and not be a homosexual.  Trust me, I don’t have time to be straight, bisexual, homosexual, or asexual.  Lol!

Moreover, my haters hate because I don’t downplay my achievements, credentials and knowledge to pacify their inadequacies.  Many people want me to agree with them always—that’s never going to happen.  They don’t want me to have opinions about various issues that diverge from their opinions.

My haters will even attempt to use something from this article to attack me.  Many will take things out of context from this piece to formulate lies and unmerited attacks.

While many people allow their haters to discourage them, my haters encourage me.  When they attack me, I gain strength from their attacks.  Their attacks let me know I’m doing an outstanding job.  I have learned that you have to turn others’ hatred for you into positive energy.  Although my haters think they bother me, I use my knowledge of the things they envy the most about me against them.  For example, for those who don’t like that I’m getting a Ph.D., I make sure to mention the fact that I’m working to obtain it when I’m around them.  You’ve got to unsettle your haters and they will inevitably flee from you.

I have a wonderful life because I refuse to let anything and anybody prevent me from having one.  The higher your achievements, the larger the number of haters you will have.  Be determined that you’re not going to let anyone and anything stop you from being happy.  Live a happy life with me.  When I die, people will honestly be able to say my life reflects the classic “happily ever after” line.  Guess what?  This will be a fact even if I never get married.

Have the courage to live life without limits.  Be yourself.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison