“Life gives you what you take from it.” – M. Turner
People give meaning to events, circumstances and experiences largely based on social conditioning, learned from your interactions with the world: media, parents and family, neighbours, school then later, work colleagues.
In the same way you learn cultural values, you learn what is the right way to think and behaviour in your environment, so that you fit in. This is bred into us as young children, when our brains are like sponges, before we can form our own balanced opinions.
It is true however that some people have a compulsion not to conform in such a way, and are often marginalised and find themselves on the fringe of society. These non-conformers follow their nature more closely because it doesn’t fit so well with social norms. They wrestle with this situation, often joining subcultures that better share their preferred beliefs and values. They reject the larger society rules but yearn to feel part of something, but which is more agreeable to them. These people may be more mature, questioning, inquisitive at an earlier age. They are free-thinkers by nature. We would all do well to question our own beliefs and values to ensure they make sense to us, and aren’t getting in our way.
Obstructive beliefs include things like like:
“Life, society is against people like me, I just can’t……”
“Life is meant to be hard, not enjoyed.” (so not true)
“People are trying to rip you off all the time, nobody can be trusted.”
“I’m not good or clever or experienced enough…” (Who says?)
“People like me can’t……” (who says?)
“Other people in this space have more talent, desire, determination, I can’t compete with them….”.
Well, while it might be true that others currently possess more talent, it’s really down to you, if you want something badly enough, then you will find the determination and desire to throw yourself into it and through purposeful practice, get better at it. If you don’t have the desire, or determination, do something that you truly love instead and get really good at that.
When something happens to us, we give it meaning based on our beliefs and values, and the story we tell ourselves about it. Changing the story, changes the meaning.
So while you can, through goal setting and planning, move your life in a certain direction, life will happen to you, good and bad, there is little you can predict for your future, but you can make every set-back a learning experience, every feeling of negativity a chance for spiritual practice.
There are always positives that can be taken from, or that come out of, any negative, if you make it so. Check out this Zen parable for some inspiration.
Life really does give us what we choose to take from it, if you believe it to be so.