It seems the world is becoming more offended by the views and actions of other people, other nations, other cultures and other societies. If you spend any time on social media, you’ll know the outpouring of outrage of people commenting on posts which they have taken some offence to.
Offence is defined as;
Resentful or annoyed, typically as a result of a perceived insult.
It got me thinking about what offended me.
I’m offended by those that …
Don’t agree with me and who thing it’s okay to insult my views,
Have different views and won’t open their minds to see others’ views,
Don’t say thank you, or acknowledge when I let them go in front of me,
Infringe on my cultural values,
Infringe on my civil liberties,
Threaten my way of life,
Try to tell me what I can say, can’t say, can do, can’t do; the PC brigade,
Do what I have been known to do to others,
Take offence over everything they perceive as an insult to them as if they were the center of the universe.
However I realise it’s okay to be offended, in fact, it’s inevitable that at some point someone is going to offend me. So I no longer wish for the world to change, and instead have changed the way I think about things. I don’t take things so personally anymore.
At the end of the day, I can’t control what others do, but I can change the way I react.
“Power corrupts and absolute power absolutely corrupts.”
It’s an interesting statement but is it accurate?
If you think about human nature we all have a tendency to gravitate towards inflating our sense of self, and avoiding situations that devalue it.
Evidence of this is all around us in everyday life. Arguments are engaged in to uphold ones sense of self. For instance, think about the reasons why you last argued, were you protecting something important to you? Something you’d invested yourself in. When you prefix “my…” to anything, such as“my idea”, “my thoughts”, “my opinion”, “my possessions”, “my kids” you make it part of your self-worth.
The mind believes, the more you HAVE the more you ARE, but the flip side of having more and being more, is that you also have more to lose.
When individuals gain more money, more power, more stature, it becomes more difficult to face loosing it, and so self interest and self preservation become even more important.
Those in power have more to lose by rocking the boat, by fighting again the very system they are benefiting from, so what do they do, they fight to preserve the status quo, because it serves them and after all, we are all designed to protect ourselves, it’s our survival instinct doing it’s job.
If you understand this trait of human nature, you come to realise that anyone in power is open to corruption, and is not going to drive through change that could potentially put them at risk.
You can’t defy human nature, we are what we are, but you can manage it, so that society is better for it, and so that those in power, serve society rather than themselves.
So how do we, the ordinary people, deal with the fact that people are self serving and power only increases this instinct?
Well, we start to actually hold politicians, businesses and powerful individuals to account, we make sure they deliver on the promises they benefited on the back of, and if they don’t they should know they have a great deal to lose.
It’s an interesting read and builds on the idea of using the WHY, WHAT IF, HOW questioning system, which I love, because it encourages expansive thinking.
I’ve used questions a lot in my life, in fact my wife is forever warning me to stop asking so many damn questions, particularly when we meet new people. I must admit, I do ask lots of questions, but not for any other reason than because I’m deeply interested in people and what makes them tick.
Maybe that’s why questions aren’t asked so much by many adults, we get used to adults telling us, as kids, to shut up and stop asking them.
There is no doubt in my mind that question are a gateway to finding things out. I ask my wife about things from her past, about where she lives and what she did, and what other people in her life did etc. It surprises me how little she actually knows about a lot of people she has shared her life with.
Now don’t get me wrong, people have a right to privacy, they don’t owe anyone else an explanation. I don’t mind people telling me to keep my nose out of their business, but I do believe that questions provide us with an opportunity to get to know others on a much deeper level.
People often seem content with superficial conversation about what they watched on TV the night before and what such-a-person is doing or saying. Gossip can be quite interesting sometimes, although I try to keep away from it where possible, mainly because I don’t want to be viewed by others as a gossip.
However that level of conversation doesn’t really connect people to others, it doesn’t tell you much about who they are, apart from that they too like a bit of gossip or in some cases, thrive on spreading it, which gives a deeper insight into their personality, I guess.
Questions are also great for learning about ourselves, increasing self awareness. We may ask ourselves, why we do what we do and don’t do what we don’t do. What’s driving our behaviour? The answer’s, if given with honesty, can be very revealing. Sometimes people don’t ask these kind of questions, because they don’t want to know or admit to themselves, the answers.
It is surprising how much of what we do and don’t do is conditioned into us by social persuasion, often referred to as social conditioning. Conditioning is drilled into us throughout the duration of our lives, but particularly as young children, when we are particularly susceptible.
Questions are also a great way to spark ideas and innovation. Moving us away from the thought processes and work practices we have historically been accustomed to and instead opening up the opportunity to do them differently, and to find a better way. Why do we do it this way? What if we could do it that way instead? and then figuring out the HOW from that perspective.
Personally I like to use the following questions to remind me about not falling into the trap of doing anything that would be wasteful, unimportant or unfulfilling, when I would be better doing something else instead. I find it’s a great productivity tool. The questions should be asked in order.
Why am I doing this, at all? What is my goal?
for example is it to make money, because it’s interesting to me, is it to gain or avoid something (such as not getting left behind or being able to add value to others). You should seriously consider this question and try to unlock your big WHY. This will help with the remaining questions. Use the 5 why’s method of questioning to dig deeper, so each answer you come up with, is followed by another why, do this, you guessed it 5 times. Doing this delves down to the emotional background driving forces of your thoughts and actions, and gives you an opportunity to question these.
What is the opportunity cost of doing it? What else could I be
doing instead? Doing anything means not doing something else, both in terms of time constraints and economics, so consider what you’re missing out not doing. Remember time is the one resource we can’t recoup, once it’s spent.
Is it worth the opportunity cost?
Is there a better way of achieving my goal, instead of doing this?
What other alternatives are available? Consider as many as you can!
It’s important to keep motivated, and we can find inspiration all around us. People who overcome adversity and succeed, people who do things they don’t particular like, in order to reach a goal, people who never give up, no matter what.
I also love inspirational quotes, they give me a pick up, an opportunity to change perspective, and look at a challenge from a new frame of mind. I’ve included a few, and will be adding more video inspiration quotes to this page, so keep checking back. You can find them on my Instagram page also here.
If you only do what you truly love for a fraction of your waking life, because you have bills to pay, and other obligations, what kind of life are you really living? I mean seriously think about this for a moment.
Cutting costs is as good as earning extra income. Drop the excess to focus on the things that really matter to you.
Happiness doesn’t come from possessions, or having more stuff, because once you have them, and once the novelty wears off, it becomes part of the norm and you will tend to look towards the next new or better thing.
Marketers and the businesses behind them want to feed you the narrative that having more will make you happier, will enrich your life, and they do this because it serves them, not you.
WANTING is conditioned into us, and HAVING is the dream, but this is a lie.
Instead focus on BEING. experience life, get out of your head and into the experiential reality of life. Serve your soul, by enjoying the experience of people, places and pursuits that excite you and that bring you joy or should I say, you enthuse joy into doing.
Figure out a way to pay the bills you have to pay, the necessities, minus any unnecessary excess, while doing the things that allow you to BE true to yourself. This is the way you should be defining success or lack of.
It’s time to change perspective, to re-evaluate your financials, and live a life that truly engages you.
For much of my 50 years I’ve tried to be a student of life, and I’ve collated a number of principles I think have helped me live a better life. I thought I’d share them with you, hopefully you can find some value in them.
They are listed below:
Become a master at Selling – get to know what turns people on, their passions, think of the seven deadly sins for this (lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride). Alternative consider what keeps people awake at night (fears/anxiety). Use well known sales structures to hang your sales message on such as A.I.D.A. or S.U.C.C.E.S.
Be a business owner – don’t work in a business, work on it, there’s a world of difference. If you find your not suited to the running of business, but you’re interested in it, be an investor in businesses.
Become an investor – Learn to spot undervalued assets and sell for a profit or derive income from them.
Identify where things are headed. Pattern recognition. Map to the future.
Stay ahead of the trend not behind it. Look for expanding markets, otherwise you’ll have to work harder each year for same profit.
Disrupt your own business model. Don’t focus on how it’s always been done. Find the perfect solution and get as close to that as possible. Don’t just try to do it the best you can, do it the best it can be done. Seek the perfect solution and work back to what is currently possible, and work to fill the gap going forwards. Consider convenience, affordability, increase of SOS.
Under promise and over deliver. Manage expectations and try to exceed them.
Go the extra mile.
Pay attention to detail.
Add value in all exchanges – even if it’s just a smile, or a kind word.
Customers are not interested in your story, only how you can help them increase their sense of self. Align your needs to theirs and you’ll win. Provide a solution to help them.
Be memorable – people won’t remember what you did, they will remember how you made them feel. Use mnemonics, like velcro with lots of sensory hooks, for example baker versus Baker.
Be a problem solver – not just a problem spotter. See what people are moaning and complaining about. Providing workable solutions is where the value is created . Stop moaning and do something about it. Be a solution provider.
Don’t let your resume hold you back. Be open to opportunities and say YES, then figure out the HOW after.
Leverage is key to wealth success. It magnifies effort exponentially (to the power of..). Leverage of debt, compound interest, leverage of resources. For example; multiple shops, multiple assets all bringing income. Leverage your contacts. You don’t need money, you need a better strategy. If you can’t make money without money, you probably can’t make money with money. Leverage other people resources. Who benefits from what you are trying to do? If you need £50k to buy a new business, If supplier going to get £100k more business ask them for £25k investment, offer seller £10k more if they accept the remainder in instalments. Ask “who will benefit” and work out a way to leverage other people’s resources.
Focus – concentrates energy through a narrow conduit, reducing drag and increasing speed and effectiveness, like a magnifying glass intensifying the sun’s rays so that it is powerful enough to start a fire. Do the one thing such by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary.
Adaptable – ability to shift perspective and flexibility of thought. Open minded to new and better ways of thinking /behaving. Look for the best way it can be done rather than the best way you can do it. Try to disprove what you think you know and challenge assumptions/inferences. What worked yesterday may not tomorrow. Don’t resist chance. Be a predator of chance rather than s victim of circumstance. There are winners and losers in every situation. Try to put yourself out of business (be a disrupter).
Be a lifelong learner – Seek out the best way it can be done, not the best you can do it. Master of what you know, apprentice of what you don’t. Question everything test everything.
Don’t just believe everything you hear, even from authority figures or so called experts. Ask “how do you know? Point me to the research/evidence !” Look to have hypotheses that you try to disprove (like science does) rather than beliefs you try to confirm. It is the most effect way to uncover the truth.
There are lessons all around you all the time, with lessons of what to do, what not to do, everyone has something to teach you, whether they know it or not – watch and listen more than talking.
Learn from your mistakes, don’t be fearful of making them. They are the best teacher.
Find accurate information from reliable sources, curiosity, disprove rather than prove – prevents confirmation bias and self reinforcement, scientific approach.
Allow reflective time to absorb and assimilate information. Talk to others out loud (real or imaginary) as if you were teaching them about what you have learned, or blog about what you’ve learned, this will help you organise your learning into a coherent form.
Beware the Curse of knowledge. Use what you have/know to help others who want to know what you know, in layman’ terms. Break things down. If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it enough.
Choose love over fear – Fearfulness is self defeating, and Ego-centric. Be in the moment, observe thought, don’t react or be controlled by it.
Think abundance rather than scarcity – When one door closes another opens, if you miss a door opening, don’t worry another will. They are always opening.
Givers gain – Of your time, experience attention, support, experience, money.
Get results – Know and do what’s needed, whilst not doing anything counter. Knowledge, motivation, productivity.
Stop using Coping strategies to excuse failure – Justifying is a method to alleviate cognitive stress, and allows us to settle/make do with the current status quo.
Goal setting – Make sure the method you choose to achieve your goal is congruent/ aligned with you, otherwise you won’t act. Ideally do something you like which leads to your goal. If you like business but don’t like the day to day responsibilities of running a business, be an investor instead.
E to P (Entrepreneur to purposeful) – don’t keep bouncing off outer wall of ability, you have to figure out a way to expand your boundary, because life will keep testing you until you do. Even if you give up and do something else, the time will come again when you need to push passed.
Know that beliefs, values and consequently, principles, rules, conditions, judgements, views, opinions, conjecture, predictions are built largely on assumptions and inferences and testimony (of perceived experts/authority figures via social conditioning), rather than truths, formed by repetition, revision, practice. Yet they play a huge role in shaping our perceptions/perspective and consequently behaviour/actions. Our Senses take incoming stimuli and our mind then runs a storytelling narrative over them, as we attempt to interpret and make sense of what we see, hear, taste, touch and smell. Our senses can be fooled, our thoughts and consequently our perceptions/perspective misguided.
Question thoughts, beliefs, assumptions /inferences – start researching to find if they’re accurate/true
Be wary of having fixed/rigid beliefs and values. When someone tells you something, ask “How do you know?”
Expectations worth having;
Expect that if it can go wrong it will and at the worst possible time – prepare for it!
Expect nothing – drop any sense of entitlement – life and people don’t owe you anything, whether politeness, favours, forgiveness, a place in society, the right to make a living, good health, relationships, friends, family. Each day is a gift, appreciate everything you have, while you have it. Replace Expectation with Appreciation.
Expect change – Nothing stays the same, everything changes, change is a natural part of life, you can’t get stuck (in a situation)forever because things are constantly shifting. There are winners and losers in every situation, position yourself to win, be a predator of chance, rather than a victim of circumstance.
Expect things/situations to be more complex than initially meets the eye. i.e. political issues, skills etc. If something doesn’t seem to make sense, look into further to find out the complexities, rather than just giving an uninformed opinion.
I recently stumbled on the article below, by Erick Diaz, about using a shift of perspective to improve motivation and subsequently productivity.
Eric imagines being his 80 year old self observing his present day self and what he might think about how he is making use of his time today, from the perspective of someone with less TIME available to him.
This highlights how precious time is, but is only truly treasured when we have less of it available to us, when it is too late. Time is precious, we should make the most of it while we have it, because it’s a finite resource, that once used up, can’t be recouped.
I think it’s a great strategy for SHIFTING PERSPECTIVE, which is one of the building blocks for increasing motivation, you can check out the full article below. by following the link.
Having just binge watched the whole series of “13 Reasons Why” on Netflix, I got to thinking about the subject of suicide and wondered how this fitted in with my spirituality education.
It’s a very difficult subject to talk about, and my hat goes off to the makers of the series for bringing the topic into the open. If you haven’t heard about it, 13 Reasons Why, is the story of a teenager called Hannah who takes her own life, but before doing so, makes a series of audio recordings on cassette tape explaining the 13 reasons why she did it. Each of the people identified in the recordings are given a copy of the tapes, passing them on to the next person, when they have finished. The story follows one particular character, Clay, as he works his way through each of the cassette tapes, revisiting each of the situations, an observer, as the story unfolds. It really is a riveting watch.
Now personally, I’ve never been in a situation, where I seriously thought about ending my own life, either as a teenager or adult. However many of the situations Hannah finds herself in are common experiences for many teenagers and adults, me included, such as bullying, disloyalty and betrayal by friends, rejection, mockery etc. However there are much more intense experiences that Hannah has to deal with, which I won’t go into, so not to spoil the series for you.
Suicide seems such an extreme and unfathomable action to take, and I do not wish to begin to lecture to anyone so hurt, that contemplating suicide seems like a viable option.
We can never truly understand what is going on in another persons mind. Even if we walked in their shoes, we might react differently. There is no right or wrong here. We are all different, and that’s a good thing.
Being unique in the way we look, think, talk, act, and dress makes the world such an interesting place. We should embrace our differences, while understanding that we have many things in common, even through such differences.
We all want to love and be loved, feel connected to others, because we are social creatures.
We all want to feel a sense of progress, of more, of better. We look to those ahead of us with some degree of envy. We base our standing and self worth, by comparing ourselves with others. We tend to focus more on those we perceive as ahead of us, and less so on those we perceive as behind us.
We form attachments to people, relationships, thoughts, status, attributes, affiliations, mental positions, possessions and just about anything that make us feel better, or more than we would otherwise feel we were. We can also attach to pain and negative things and feelings, if they somehow perversely add something to us in some way. Being a victim can become part of our sense of identity in the absence of something more positive. Becoming addicted to drugs for instance is thought to be partly down to a lack of healthy human bonding, so bonding with drugs is better than nothing.
The underlying INTENTION is to try to move away from pain and suffering and towards pleasure. We are all trying to do this, we are all the same as far as this is concerned. Bullies often bully because they are covering up pain in themselves. I’m not making excuses for bullying mind you, but a healthy, happy personality doesn’t try to hurt others. Lashing out comes from inner pain.
Suicide, in the same way is an attempt to escape pain. It is perceived by that person, as the best option to take, because maybe they feel so low, life offers nothing for them, or they feel under such attack by bullies, or have had their sense of themselves devalued to such an extent that there is no other way from their point of view.
Let me just say at this point, if you ever feel such pain, please ask for help, there are help lines available if you don’t feel you can approach anyone you know. Check out this website for further help www.supportline.org.uk. This is a section from their website
Suicide is very final – if you succeed in taking your life – there are no second chances and nobody really knows what will happen when they die. It may be difficult to take in at this moment in time but the feelings you have at the moment may be temporary – you may not always feel like this. There are people who have been in the exactly the same position as you and have somehow found the strength to come out of it and have gone on to find happiness and fulfilment in life and to be able to cope with life more easily – they have found alternatives to suicide and were glad that they did not take their own life. – supportline.org.uk
We are a mixed bag
While watching 13 Reasons Why, I noticed there were people in Hannah’s life who had great love and affection for her, but she was so consumed with the bad that the good didn’t seem to register with her. She had a distorted view of herself based on some of the meanness of others around her who were themselves in pain to some degree and for a variety of reasons. She wasn’t always a victim, sometimes she was a perpetrator, ignorant to how her actions affected others.
The underlying feeling that I came away with after watching the series, was a sense of sadness at such a waste of a life. Hannah was a beautiful pure spirit, and you wonder how she could have thought of herself any differently. We are all pure spirits underneath our pain, fears, even hatred.
We get caught up in our thoughts, thoughts about ourselves, of what others might think of us, how others have wronged us. We kick the cat, because someone kicked us, in an attempt to redress the balance, adding value to a sense of devaluation. We do these things, not because we are evil, but because of our own fear of pain.
Sometimes a simple gesture, an acknowledgement, time taken to care can make a disproportionate difference to someone else, and if we all did this, we would have less pain to fear.
If only …
If only we could prevent our self-worth being entangled with how we think others perceive and judge us.
If only we could go through life not consumed so much with fear of pain and suffering, and instead give attention to the moments of love and kindness we share.
If only we could love ourselves more, accept our imperfections as being what makes us uniquely us and give us a unique perspective of the world. After all we are the perfect versions of ourselves.
If only we could come to understand pain isn’t who we are, but a result of distorted thinking, which is blocking our light from shining through.
If only we could see we are connected and interconnected with everyone and everything and that each interaction has a knock on effect on everything else and trying to unpick the smallest thing would change so many more things, maybe everything.
We would understand how amazing we are and how much we can and do make a difference to the world we share and are an integral part of, even when sometimes it doesn’t seem that way.
Imagine suddenly coming to the realisation that you play every role of every actor that has ever lived and is living. How would that change the way you perceive and treat other people? The Egg by Andy Weir, puts you in that very situation allowing a shift in perspective, to a more compassionate and empathetic point of view when dealing with others.
You have died.
You were on your way home when you died.
It was a car accident, nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two
children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you but to no avail. Your body was so
utterly shattered you were better off, trust me.
And that’s when you met me.
“What.. What happened?” You asked. “Where am I?”
“You died” I said, matter-of-factly. No point in mincing words.
“There was a.. a truck and it was skidding…”
“Yup.” I said.
“I.. I died?”
“Yup, but don’t feel bad about it. Everyone dies.” I said.
You looked around. There was nothingness. Just you and me. “What is this place?” You asked. “Is this the
“More or less.” I said.
“Are you God?” You asked.
“Yup.” I replied. “I am God.”
“My kids.. my wife,” You said.
“What about them?”
“Will they be alright?”
“That’s what I like to see,” I said. “..you just died and your main concern is your family. That’s good stuff
You looked at me with fascination.
To you I didn’t look like God. I just looked like some man or possibly a woman. Some vague authority figure,
maybe. More of a grammar school teacher than the almighty.
“Don’t worry.” I said. “They’ll be fine. Your kids will remember you as perfect in every way. They didn’t
have time to grow contempt for you. Your wife will cry on the outside, but be secretly relieved. To be fair,
your marriage was falling apart. If it’s any consolation, she’ll feel very guilty for feeling relieved.”
“Oh,” You said. “.. so what happens now? Do I go to heaven or hell or something?”
“Neither.” I said. “You’ll be reincarnated.”
“Ah,” You said. “.. So the Hindus were right.”
“All religions are right in their own way,” I said. “.. walk with me.”
You followed along as we strode through the void.
“Where are we going?”
“Nowhere in particular,” I said. “.. It’s just nice to walk while we talk.”
“So what’s the point, then?” You asked. “When I get reborn, I’ll just be a blank slate, right? A baby. So all my
experiences and everything I did in this life won’t matter.”
“Not so!” I said. “You have within you all the knowledge and experiences of all past lives. You just don’t
remember them right now.”
I stopped walking and took you by the shoulders.
“Your soul is more magnificent, beautiful, and gigantic than you can possibly imagine. A human mind can only
contain a tiny fraction of what you are. It’s like sticking your finger in a glass of water to see if it’s hot or
cold. You put a tiny part of yourself into the vessel, and when you bring it back out, you’ve gained all the
experiences it had.”
“You’ve been in a human for the last 48 years, so you haven’t stretched out yet and felt the rest of your
immense consciousness. If we hung out here for a long enough, you’d start remembering everything. But
there’s no point to doing that between each life.”
“How many times have I been reincarnated, then?”
“Oh lots. Lots and lots. An in to lots of different lives.” I said. “This time around, you’ll be a Chinese peasant
girl in 540 AD.”
“Wait, what?” You stammered. “You’re sending me back in time?”
“Well, I guess technically. Time, as you know it, only exists in your Universe. Things are different where I
“Where you come from?” You said.
“Oh sure,” I explained. “.. I come from somewhere. Somewhere else. And there are others like me. I know
you’ll want to know what it’s like there, but honestly you wouldn’t understand.”
“Oh,” you said, a little let down. “.. but wait. If I get reincarnated to other places in time, I could have
interacted with myself at some point.”
“Sure. Happens all the time. And with both lives only aware of their own lifespan you don’t even know it’s
“So what’s the point of it all?”
“Seriously?” I asked. “Seriously? You are asking me for the meaning of life? Isn’t that a little stereotypical?”
“Well it’s a reasonable question,” You persisted.
I looked you in the eye.
“The meaning of life, the reason I made this Whole Universe, is for YOU to mature.”
“You mean mankind? You want us to mature?”
“No, just YOU. I made this Whole Universe for YOU. With each new life YOU grow and mature and become a
larger and greater intellect.”
“Just me? What about everyone else?”
“There is no one else,” I said. “.. in This Universe, there’s just YOU and ME.”
You stared blankly at me. “But all the people on Earth…”
“All you. Different incarnations of YOU.”
“Wait. I’m everyone!?”
“Now you’re getting it,” I said, with a congratulatory slap on the back.
“I’m every human being who ever lived?”
“Or who will ever live, yes.”
“I’m Abraham Lincoln?”
“I’m Hitler?” You said, appalled.
“And you are the millions he killed.”
“And you’re everyone who followed him.”
You fell silent.
“Every time you victimized someone,” I said, “.. You were victimizing yourself. Every act of kindness you’ve
done, you’ve done to yourself. Every happy and sad moment ever experienced by any human was, or will be,
experienced by YOU.”
You thought for a long time.
“Why?” You asked me. “Why do all this?”
“Because someday, YOU will become like me. Because that’s what you are. You’re one of my kind. You’re my
“Whoa,” you said, incredulous. “You mean I’m a god?”
“No. Not yet. You’re a fetus. You’re still growing. Once you’ve lived every human life throughout all time, you
will have grown enough to be born.”
“So the Whole Universe,” You said, “.. it’s just…”
“An egg.” I answered. “Now it’s time for you to move on to your next life.”
And I sent you on your way.
By: Andy Weir
A great story, I’m sure you’ll agree.
I find it helps me look at other people in a completely different light, and allows me to examine my own attitude and approach to others. If we can be more compassionate and empathetic towards other people, we can connect in a more meaningful way.
Judging and labelling others, and we all do it to some degree, stops any meaningful connection by putting up prejudiced barriers. As a result we act differently in different social situations, we become actors, role playing. Thus connections are rarely deeper than the surface level of those roles.
We mistakenly believe the roles played by others, are a true representation of them, when in reality people are much more complex.
People’s attitudes and behaviours are much more influenced by their environment and situations, than we give credit for. We should be less judgemental, because we know very little about the person underneath the roles they play. Only by walking in their shoes, can you get close to possibly knowing how they feel and why they behave as they do.
“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.