“Things aren’t always what they seem.” It is an expression that I heard some time ago that seems to contradict the black and white logic I am guilty of using. In any given circumstance that life deals us, the expression suggests, there may exist a greater meaning and purpose behind it. Which is why recently, I have made some effort to try to see meaning behind the everyday things in my own life – which consists of mostly studying.
In a roundabout way, I noticed that studying presents itself a lot like life does: It catches you by surprise, it can be a little bit of work, and it is mostly rewarding when you do it correctly. Yet, nobody I know gives out study advice with flavorful life implications mixed in. Honestly, it seems absurd at first, but logging over a few days led me to see differently – leading me to give maybe the first study/life tips the world has ever seen.
Over the hour, your body compensates to the sitting position by decreasing blood flow intensity and oxygen need. Less oxygen to the brain can make focusing a little tougher. It is not even the actual act of studying, but the spaces in between your study time that tend to be one of the most important parts of your schedule. Take ten minute breaks for every hour of study time. Stand up, go grab some coffee, or walk the stairs a few times. The goal is to get your blood flowing in any way it takes, no matter ridiculous it looks.
Make sure it does not end at studying. The summer may be a “break” in your journey until next semester, but the message is still the same: get your blood flowing. In other words, do the things that challenge you to be different – the things that make you grow for the future. Moral of the story: at your desk or in life, sitting for too long is not a good option.
Do Not Rush
There is always something to be done, and what you might be learning is that it does not stop just because the semester is finished. It seems that a strenuous study schedule seems to only place different demands on us than the summer, not less demands. Yet, I still fall into the trap of thinking the savor of the future will be better than the present. Although moving through your checklist is important, make sure it does not take from the expense of enjoying the pricelessness of the moment.
In the words of Michael J. Collins, “Until we reach our destination it exists only in our own minds. It is what we have imagined it to be. And yet we tend to neglect the journey, which is real, in favor of the destination, which is not.”
Look the Part
Complement yourself in the mirror today. It sounds conceited at first (and it is a little), but studies are suggesting that “Best dressed, best test” is a little less than just a myth. Dressing well and feeling great can give you an edge when it comes to long study hours and upcoming tests – and why would it stop at schoolwork? The science of confidence can help you get out of ruts, nail a job interview, and generally make your day a little brighter. So go ahead: put on your favorite shirt, blow a kiss to yourself, and slick your hair back. You might just find that looking the part made a difference.
A professor told me something as she pointed to a Moringa plant in the greenhouse. “These plants are a lot like you students,” she said as I picked the plant up and observed one. It was bent over quite a bit, but very green and certainly beautiful. Curious, I asked why. “These plants love stress,” she explained, “With too much water, they will grow very well, but their foundation cannot keep up and they will slump over. Instead, I have to let them work for it. They grow best in the most stressful conditions, and so do you.”
Your classes could always be easier. In a sense, it is easy to take studying for what it is: sitting at a desk for a long period of time, wishing for an easier route. Certainly with easier classes, you would flourish and get great grades. But I have to believe that in the long run you would be missing the point – the point being that the most difficult things tend to be the biggest rewards in disguises. They build your foundation and challenge you. Maybe the most difficult things, I learned, are not always so black and white.