Would you like your life to be different? Would you like that change to be absolutely free and of no harm to your health?
I’m not trying to sell you drugs!
… in fact, all of these options are available to you. You may not be able to control how everything in your life plays out, but you can shape how you feel about those things. This is very powerful! The reality we’re presented with – whether we find ourselves in wonderful or difficult relationships, in jobs we enjoy or can’t stand, whether we’re content with our lot or not – is all down to how you CHOOSE to feel about those things.
I heard this great explanation recently:
What’s going on outside of you is shared and subject to the collective will of others, whilst what’s going on inside of you is yours to do with as you wish
It’s like watching TV or a movie. We can take the information we receive via the screen and make objective decisions based on that information, or we can get wrapped up in the emotional experience triggered by what we’re witnessing. How many times have you cried or gotten angry with a character in a movie? It’s just the same in real life – we can use what we experience to make good decisions or we can allow ourselves to get caught up in our emotions. It’s our choice.
Should we engage emotionally?
It’s good to have an emotional connection to our world – the people, places etc. that define our reality. This is what makes us human (not Vulcan) and ground us in the present moment. However, it’s important that we choose when to engage with these emotions. Too often we allow them to accelerate like a runaway train – and this can derail our activities at the most sensitive of times. We do, however, have the power to change that!
So how do I start changing my life?
Response vs. reaction – choose to respond instead of reacting to everything. A reaction is automatic, whether that be laughing, crying or throwing a punch. A response is asking yourself what the best way forward is, then acting on that information. Every time you feel yourself getting upset, count to 10 (it works!) and ask yourself, “what would be the best outcome for everyone involved”.
Focus – as the saying goes, “where focus goes, energy flows”. Whatever you focus your attention on, that’s what your likely to attract more of. If you laugh often, you’ll find yourself feeling happier and surrounded by happy people. On the flip side, if you are always dwelling on negative experiences, you’ll surely find more of them. This is known as the Law of Attraction, or for the scientifically minded, the Reticular Activating System. The RAS filters what we see, hear, smell, taste and feel through our internal trawling net. It picks out the stuff that corresponds with what we spend our time thinking about or engaging with emotionally. Be careful what you wish for, subconsciously or otherwise, because you will get it!
Environment – as a friend of mine likes to say, your environment always wins. If you’re surrounded by things that are cheerful and empowering, you will feel happy and empowered. If you’re surrounded by things that make you feel unhappy or powerless, guess what?
It is very difficult to focus your attention away from things that surround you most of the time. With regards to the people in our lives, it’s been said that we become the average of the 6 individuals we spend most of our time with – so identify those people. Aside from when you’re helping others (very important), you should surround yourself with the folks you respect and genuinely aspire to be like. As a result, you’ll acquire the characteristics from them that you appreciate.
Effort – Tim Ferris, author of the Four Hour Work Week recommends Pareto’s Law. The law states that 80% of the good in your life, comes form 20% of your effort. So equally, 80% of the negativity in your life, comes from 20% of your effort. The trick is to eliminate the 20% that makes you feel bad and focus on the 20% that makes you feel good. You can apply this to the people in your life also.
Gratitude – Being grateful for what you already have (as difficult as that may be at times) will make you feel happier and help you to overcome the obstacle you face, alongside a host of other benefits. You’ll develop more of an appreciation for life and become happier as a result. That will then draw in more of those happy people you want around you – if you focus your attention on the positive, you’ll experience more of the positive.
Start small and do often – A little every day, build momentum. If you try to do it all at once (unless you have phenomenal self-discipline – I do not…) you’ll burn out and feel reluctant to do whatever it is you’re trying to achieve again. Tim Ferris recommends working to 20% of you capacity at first, then gradually building up to greater efforts.
So Dave, what has this got to do with community?
Well.. In order to live in well-functioning communities, we need to be well-functioning individuals. Change yourself, change the world. With practice, these tips will help you become that individual – and if you really want to push it – Meditation will make all of these practices a lot more effective.
Above all else, you need to take responsibility for your life. It’s yours to do with as you please, and no one else is going to take charge of it for you. The more of us that start making changes to ourselves, the better off everyone will be.
Here’s your chance
What habit have you been wanting to instil for a while? What small step can you take NOW to begin ingraining that habit?
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