If the grass is greener on the other side it’s probably getting better care. Significance is a matter of making patterns of sticking to a formula. Hard work is one component, Opportunity is the other, multiplied by attitude… the magic word…You are responsible for how your life goes, and your attitude shapes that life for better or worse. Each of us creates his or her own life largely by our attitude, we all want good results, and a healthy attitude is our best guarantee.
Attitude is defined as the situation or behavior as indicating action, feeling or mood, and it is our actions, feelings or moods that determine the actions, feelings and moods of others. Our attitude tells the world what we expect in return, makes yours eager and jolly, and you get what you expect. You can control your attitude, set it each morning; the world will reflect back to you the attitude you present to them. It is then, our attitude toward life that determines life’s attitude toward us. We get back what we put out, others treat us as we treat them, they react to us. They only give us back a reflection of our own attitude.
Our environment reflects us, it is a mirror. Life is a repeat lobby of cause and effect, what we give we’ll get. Change and your surroundings will change; each of us shapes his or her life largely by our habitual attitude.
As I stated before, a new habit takes time; most people begin their day in a neutral state, they will simply react to whatever faces them, these are the people of our environment. That’s why it’s so important for us to control our attitudes. William James said, “Human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes.” Gratitude and expectancy are the best attitude. It’s sincerely up to you, and you’re the one responsible for it. Don’t take a defensive doubtful attitude toward yourself and others, a poor attitude is a magnet for unpleasant experiences. We get what we expect and our outlook on life is a kind of paint brush and with it we paint our world. It can be bright and filled with hope and satisfaction or it can be dark and gloomy. The world we experience is a reflection of our attitude.
Nowadays, everyone is waiting for people to be nice to them – well if you want so, be nice to them. Don’t sit in front of a cold stove waiting for the heat, instead, put in the fuel, act first, I mean it has to start somewhere.
Life could be a double edged sword, it can of course be filled with many difficult choices that we sometimes feel overwhelmed by, but on the other side, there’s the suspense of knowing that we have more opportunity than even before to change things. Yet, one of the main obstacles to change is ourselves. Sometimes, we struggle in making decisions because of listening to that deep voice inside of us, the voice that Dr. David Fong called “the negative command center”.
One common element resisting change in our negative command center, is what would people think of it, a lot of times we are faced with “what would everbody think of me?”, or “I don’t want to make a fool out of myself”, right? Inside us, there is a big chunk of worry related to our entourage, and seldom, it’s people whom we don’t know, and who don’t even know we exist, or care about us. Other internal statements by this command center, and so negative are they: “I’ll never find time”, “It’d cost a million”, “what if everything goes wrong?”, “it’s just too much effort”, and a million other statements.
We rationally and deliberately flag these statements with a very nice and logic name, we call them “THE VOICE OF REASON”, we like to think of it this way.
While the voice of reason can be so reasonable in a lot of times, like for example telling us it is not a good idea to jump off a balcony, or not to walk in front of a moving car, it applies simple logic, hence, if something could result in harming us, it will instruct us to avoid it or not to do it. The decision here is based on evidence, facts and reality. We don’t blindly walk in front of a moving car because we have evidence that we’ll be hit by this car, we don’t drink bleach because we have learnt that it will make us very ill. So, the voice of the reason is always supported by strong evidence coming from acquired experience and learning throughout our life.
The difference with the “Negative Command Center” is that while the “Voice of Reason” is based on reliable evidence, the second is based on guesses, supposition and often fear. Our human brain is very good at guessing what might happen next, like for example, while driving the car, we act according to the guess of what might be around the next bend. But at many other times, we are simply terrible at it and we follow our own awful advice, on the basis of little or no evidence. And what’s even worse, is that we often act upon the feeling that something horrible will happen to us from which there will be no recovery if we even think of making change.
Both sources started in our brains far back while we were children, do’s and don’ts, “don’t put your finger in the electric plug, you’ll get hurt”, “Don’t stare at the sun, you’ll damage your eyes” etc… These commands are based on valid experience, collective learning throughout ages from grand parents to parents to us. Valid experience, valid information and valid evidence, and we, as children, carry these instructions around with us, we find them useful and in lot of times, vital to surviving. As we grow older, we develop our own laws about the world according to our own experience and learning, laws that are similar to those laws, and that are generally pretty accurate, like if we don’t study, we are going to do bad in our exams and eventually fail the subject, later, if we don’t go to work on time, we’ll be fired. While this is logic, and evidence based, we later find out a lot of people walking in late, and never get fired, and similarly a lot of schoolmates who never have been seen studying, acing exams.
But back to the childhood phase, was an extremely difficult task called parenting from the other side, for every adult to grow a child, parenting is without question the hardest job; hence, parents tend to cross the border of evidence and logic based statements, to being overprotective and making statements such as: “Don’t carry these plates, you’ll fall and break them, and get hurt”, “Don’t drive the bicycle, you’ll fall and hurt yourself”, and soon enough they get past the do’s and don’ts, to reach “Don’t be silly” , “what a stupid idea”, “you think this is funny?”. We carry these statements a lot of times within reaching adulthood, and this is where the negative command center strikes internally, “you can’t talk to her, she’s out of your league”, “you won’t succeed in this, can’t you see the competition?”, “don’t speak, you’ll sound silly”.
In today’s world, we get dragged by a lot of trends, practices and lifestyles that surround us; we tend to follow, and subconsciously adopt, others’ styles of living for irrelevant causes and purposes.
“We buy things we do not need, with money we do not have, to please people we do not know.” Anonymous
Seeing it from a global view, we are surrounded by international brands, trends, fashion, and styles, and we tend to follow them subconsciously. Things were like that since forever, but it used to be dawdling and imperceptible; one would take time to start accepting things and adopt it to their own life style, nowadays, it’s happening on the spur of the moment, and we are taking many new trends and blindly applying them into our lives, sometimes even without giving it a thought.
First there was Hi5, MySpace, Facebook came after, Twitter, and then Google plus, this significantly not only lowered our actual socializing efforts, but also added a lot more weight and responsibility on our shoulders making everyone aware of what we’re up to, sharing our photos and comments, and even circles of friends. As much as this is positive, it had a significant amount of negative impact on our lives; it took out most of the genuine thoughts and feelings, and replaced them by copied and pasted statuses, quotes, clothing, personalities, and even fake lifestyles.
You are unique, as everyone else.
The result you are today is made by a decision you took yesterday, hence in order to leapfrog and succeed further, continuing to do what you have done in the past may not be the right answer. Continuing to think and perceiving matters from the same perspective you did yesterday will only result in the same things you already reached today… For different outcomes, you need to think and be different, you need to distinguish yourself.
Remember the last time you tried to change another person’s opinion about something? Did it work? Why not?
As all the philosophers and thinkers and authors agree upon, and as we always keep forgetting… we are what we repeatedly do!
The belief in something, or in ourselves, is on a constant feed from the actions we take in the patterns of our daily transactions. We act, we get results, these results boost our beliefs in our potential… positively as well as negatively.
Those beliefs then take charge of our actions, our behaviors, and hence, the results we get from them, and the cycle keeps on going and going. In our conscious mind, only the actions and results are obvious, but in our subconscious, where the decisions are made, based on our emotions at the time, at the place, the beliefs are the one dominating the scene. They are the ones that really make us do what we do, think what we think and act the way we do.
Those beliefs are the juice of the years of attributes acquired, experiences, good and bad situations, and most of all, most of all… programming.
The things your parents used to say in front of you, or to you, the phrases you heard in your smaller to bigger circles of society made you, subconsciously, the person you are today. Now, is everything that was said, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Obviously not…
I knew later in life that a lot of what I was told, was not even close to the truth. I saw and experienced the ones who told me those stuff in situations where they acted completely the opposite of whatever they preached, and I knew, I had to constantly keep learning, and that nothing is taken for granted, most of all, Knowledge.
Isn’t it ironic though, that you were able to change your perspective about a lot of things in life, yet, some of those old beliefs, mainly related to culture, society, relationships, and faith, are still very solid and structured in your mind? Why then?
In order to evolve, and trust me, you have a very short period called life to do so, you’ve got to benefit from those fishy idioms that were never secure: “the benefit of the doubt”, “flexibility” , “maybe I was wrong”; after all we all have values that makes us what we are, and I am not trying to doubt them here, but rather trying to see things from different perspectives, especially the things that we did not earn experience about, but rather were programmed on since our birth, undoubting and unwillingly.
I have a special relationship with my father, and am always eager to have our usual conversations were we exchange visions and thoughts; in one of our coffee chats, and building on his experience as a banking executive, I mentioned the foreign currency exchange as a new emerging business, and I was telling him how this is growing to be a fast money making business, and that a lot of executives are preferring it from their regular jobs; he didn’t wait a lot before he interrupted me angrily, and his voice suddenly changed to the aggressive parental directing tone, accusing this whole business to be pure gambling. As I tried to explain how forex evolved nowadays, and that the decisions of buying and selling are nowadays based on reports and on solid market assumptions, and that online trading became handy and secure, he even did not want to listen, with the same tone, closing the subject once and for all.
This belief my dad had about this topic was rigid to change, since it was a result from his own experience in banking throughout 30 years, maybe more, during which he saw giants fall from their foolish trading that was not based on market assumptions, but rather on pure intuitions, and when was that? During the years when Lebanon was in a civil war, of course, back then, not even the constitution was a concrete practice, not to mention there was no internet or any technology that is currently being used by or for forex trading.
What I am trying to imply here is that we often have beliefs that are worth a second visit, the example above is simple compared to beliefs in crucial matters such as family, race, gender, sex, friends, and relationships, even on jobs.
No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our life are made. Destiny is made known silently.
Agnes De Mille
I was conducting a communication skills workshop to one of the NGOs in Lebanon in a program for motivating people with special needs to enter the labor market. It was common to those young individuals that “normal people”, as they described, look at them as weak individuals, and treat them accordingly. Wherever they go, whatever place they enter even in the workplace, they hear or see the pity in the face of the people. Despite the fact that those strong individuals have great credentials of academic background, the maximum that they can look for, is a non-value added position, a lower status, just a job that they can secure a small income from.
Those powerful individuals gave me a great lesson then, a lesson about decisions… and destinies forged by their ambitions. In that class, you can say that “potential was in the air”. People who belong to different academic backgrounds powered by life examples, know their points of strengths which they build the blocks of their future upon, and know the fact of their physical limitations, and yet make a humongous effort to overcome them.
It hit my thoughts how we “normal people” as they described us, fall into the trap of our own inner perception of things, even the slightest sickness, or the bad-hair day effect, can ruin our days…
Letting our limitations, or at least what we think they are, take over and control our lives, we literally let them shape our destinies, hence we let them write our book of life.
Rita, one of this class attendees, came late that day, I saw at her entrance a charismatic personality that can spread positive energy to a whole village, she had such a charming weapon and shield, it was her smile, a genuine smile that never left her face…
“With this smile, I make my destiny”, she said, replying on my argument on how our emotions influence our decisions. “When I was diagnosed as fully paralyzed, I was at the age of 9, it was after a damaging flu hit my whole body, and even the doctor after 3 years of me being in the special care center ordered that I leave, being so sure there was no room for improvement for my case” she stated. She had to convince the doctor at that age that she wanted to stay; her words were mixed with her lovely smile still, “doctor, it’s my life, and I decide to live, if you give up, it’s your problem, but I am not”. She was on the wheel chair back then, with even half of her body up to the face paralyzed as she described, and with that strong will, the smile, she faced her illness, which many of us would take for a limitation, a huge one…
With this smile she got over the wheel chair, with very long and hard hours of physiotherapy, swimming practice, and also a very exhausting linguistics exercise. Now she is a grown-up woman, with the charm of a Cleopatra, the heart of a warrior, and the mind of Marx… this is not the end of the journey; she is still in the beginning of it. Her ambitions, or shall I say set targets, are to lose the walker this year and to finish her University degree so she can get a (not just an ordinary) job… I believe with that smile, with that determination and strength, she will.
That young woman made a decision, a decision to live, to fight for her life, to put all her strengths in the front line of her army of feelings, against her own limitation. That decision controlled her destiny, others would have let that destiny control their decisions, their decisions to do the job they just can perform at, not the one they really loved to do, that decision to live a life they would be just fine with, not the life they dreamed to live… she made a decision that changed her destiny, and is still doing so…
If I look at our daily interactions, feelings or decisions, I believe we can learn a lot from Rita, and that we should take a closer look at our limitations. Doing the comparison with hers, our limitations seem to be just a fraction, yet, sometimes, we let them push us to live the lives they lead, and we surrender to make them grow inside us, taking control of our lives, and kill pieces inside us day-by-day.
No matter what situation this life puts you in, remember, you always have choices… this is not the point…
It is the choice you select, the decisions you make.
We make decisions in life left and right, we adopt them, without bearing in mind the consequences of these decisions…
The simplest decision you make will make it or break it for you in no time. It will reveal another decision you will be dragged into committing yourself to, or will reveal a whole destiny you will put yourself in.
Finance, emotions, love relationships, social relationships, even the food you decide to eat decide your destiny afterwards.
Next time when you are in a restaurant, watch that old waiter, and ask yourself, why is he still a waiter? Why is his manager 20 or 30 years younger than him? Why is he putting up to whatever silliness I am making?
Next time you are in a bar or a club, take a look and embrace the faces, you’ll read a lot, trust me.
You’ll read regrets, joy, pleasure, frustration (oh boy there’s a lot of this), deception, sarcasm, selfishness, desire, instinct, and a lot more.
Next time you are in a park, take a look at the children’s faces and try to absorb the amount of emotions and feelings, take a look at the parents, watch their eyes; they will tell you a lot, how they love their little ones, how they are afraid and anxious about them, how they care for them, how they devoted a their whole life, love, care and destinies, because they took a decision once to get married and to have them.
Next time you are in a plane, take a look at the pool of personalities, traits and behaviors; take a look at the eyes of the ones next to you. There’s a whole story of decisions and destinies beneath each face, watch their whole life movie without even having them speak, they will tell you about their decisions, the pain they had or have, and the pleasure they sought or seek.
Next time when you are in a public place take a look around, you will find happy faces, sad faces, worried faces, non-chalant faces, and faces that either are full with pride and joy, or grief and pain.
Remember then, that we make decisions to reach one of the two ultimates…
We make decisions to reach Pleasure, and we make decisions to get rid of Pain.
Be wise with your decisions!