“You have such a great attitude.”
“I love how you handle life.”
“I really respect how you deal with things.”
“I admire your tenacity.”
All great ways to let people know they’re doing well in your eyes.
If you were to say, “The world is full of cold, self-centered, arrogant people who just don’t care”, you may be surprised to discover that I agree with you. You’re right. I’ve been out in the world and I’ve seen and experienced these things much more than I care to in life.
It’s one of the reasons why I do what I can to combat such things and, if possible, set the kind of examples I’d like to see more of. And that, in turn, is why most of the stories I share are lighthearted, fun, humorous, or positive.
But having said that, if you were to say, “The world is full of warm, caring, and generous people who go out of their way to make it a better place”, I would also agree with you.
Because I’ve seen these kinds of people, too. In abundance. They’re everywhere. You read that right. They’re everywhere. (And if you’re reading this, I think the chances are very good that you are one of these people).
The fact is, the truth in either of the above statements depends largely on where you look and what you’re looking for — because in either case, I’m confident you’ll find it.
And the same is true for most places where you direct your attention. And this is an important concept to understand, by and large, we find what we go looking for.
“What you seek is seeking you.” — Rumi
And what we choose to go looking for in life — the good or the bad — can have a dramatic affect on not only our view of the world, but on our sense of well-being as a result of that view.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.” — Fred Rogers
Depending on whether we look for something good or something bad, the results we find often reinforce whatever belief (or value system) we held to be true when we started searching.
When one believes the world is full of cold, self-centered, arrogant people who just don’t care, one’s subconscious mind goes about proving they’re right.
“The primary function of the subconscious mind is to follow the instructions of the conscious mind. It does this by “proving” that whatever the conscious mind believes is true. In other words, the job of the subconscious mind is to prove the conscious mind is always “right.”
So, if you consciously believe that you can’t be, do, or have something, the subconscious will create the circumstances and find the people to prove that you are ‘right’.” — Robert Anthony
When you expect rudeness from people, you are setting yourself up to be more attentive to it, even if it’s something you don’t want. And when you are more attentive to something, you are more likely to find it — at the expense of not being attentive to the things you’re not paying attention to.
For example, if I told you to stop for a minute and look around you for all the things that are the color red, your brain will register all the things around you that are red and, as a result, you would be able to list them with a high degree of accuracy.
But then if I immediately told you to close your eyes and now list all the things that are the color blue in the room you just searched, there is a good chance you would miss several of them — because you weren’t looking for blue, you were looking for red.
Now, I’m talking colors here, but I could easily be talking about the things that irritate or upset you.
If you go looking for irritating things, it will often be at the expense of registering all the things that are pleasant or beautiful around you — because whatever you focus on is at the expense of whatever you don’t focus on.
“Energy flows where attention goes.”
If you want to see more of the things you desire in life, it’s important to make a conscious effort to be grateful for what you already have and always focus on what you want — and what you want to see more of — not on what you don’t want or the lack of something.
“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” — Marcus Aurelius
The type of thoughts you hold in your head have a direct impact on the reality you perceive. This includes the severity of aches and pains you experience, as well as how gracefully you age.
“By paying attention to pain on a daily basis, we are wiring ourselves neurologically to develop a more acute awareness of pain perception, because the related brain circuits become more enriched. Your own personal attention has that much of an effect on you. This could be one explanation to how pain, and even memories from our distant past, characterize us. What we repeatedly think about and where we focus our attention is what we neurologically become. Neuroscience finally understands that we can mold and shape the neurological framework of the self by the repeated attention we give to any one thing.” — Joe Dispenza from Evolve Your Brain – The Science of Changing Your Mind
This is why it’s vital to always remember to focus on solutions, not problems, look for the good, and remain conscious of where you choose to focus your attention and how you direct your mental energy.
“Refuse to emotionally succumb to the negative events around you and tap your mental toughness to thrive in any environment. The good guy doesn’t always win and justice doesn’t always prevail, but where you direct your mental energy will always determine your attitude and it will always be controlled by you.” — Steve Siebold
Energy flows where your attention goes — make sure it’s where you truly want it.
Because when you really think about it, this world and everything we call life is amazing. It seems a shame for people to miss out on the good stuff because they’re not paying attention.
Hey. You got this. It’s all you today.
Go get it. It’s yours.[Oh, you know you got it? Awesome. Go encourage someone who isn’t so sure!]
“I’m not perfect, but parts of me are awesome.”
Let’s face it, we all have flaws. And, despite how some people see it, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
The fact is, every single one of us is a work-in-progress.
We may be at different stages in life. We may have different strengths and weaknesses, but there isn’t a single person on the planet who hasn’t felt vulnerable or made mistakes. Nor is there a single person who couldn’t be better at something in some area of their life.
While hiding your flaws or pretending to be something or someone you’re not can fool many people — and many try to live their lives this way — true power comes from being your authentic self — flaws and all — and not being ashamed or afraid of being imperfect.
“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” — Mark Twain
When you truly accept who you are — weaknesses included — to the point that you are not afraid to admit your flaws or be vulnerable, people are much less able (or likely to try) to use your flaws as weapons against you.
When you don’t hide who you are behind a mask of misrepresentation, you no longer have to live in fear of being discovered as “false” or less than capable at something.
Additionally, knowing what your weaknesses are — and what triggers you to think and behave as you do — provides you with the ability to potentially overcome, or at least reduce their affects.
And while we often believe that we will be liked less for not being perfect, people are actually much more likely to respect and admire those who express themselves authentically rather than those who pretend to be perfect or act as if they are superior to others.
Have the courage to be authentic. Have the courage to take responsibility for who you are and how you act.
And have the courage to be imperfect.
“With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity.” — Keshavan Nair
If you haven’t watched The Power of Vulnerability TED talk by Brene Brown, it is one of the most viewed TED talks in history. She is a great speaker. Very funny and insightful. It is definitely 20 minutes well spent.
“The way of the heart is the way of courage. It is to live in insecurity; it is to live in love, and trust; it is to move in the unknown. It is leaving the past and allowing the future to be. Courage is to move on dangerous paths. Life is dangerous, and only cowards can avoid the danger – but then, they are already dead. A person who is alive, really alive, vitally alive, will always move into the unknown. There is danger there, but he will take the risk. The heart is always ready to take the risk, the heart is a gambler. The head is a businessman. The head always calculates – it is cunning. The heart is non-calculating.” — Osho, from The Joy of Living Dangerously
Excerpt from: The unique you is beautiful
Every time you change something unique about yourself in order to be just like someone else, a piece of the best part of you dies.
All one has to do is open a magazine, turn on the TV, or browse the Internet to see that we’re constantly bombarded with marketing that tells us we need to have, or wear, or drink, or be something in order to fit in.
The message is repeated so much and so often that some people actually believe it. And not only do they believe it, they use it as a guide to judge others.
It should be obvious that the kind of car someone drives to get from point A to point B is a ridiculous thing to judge someone for. But many are guilty of doing so.
But that’s not all.
You’ve got to wear the right clothes, go to the right school, root for the right sports team, drink the right liquids, listen to the right music, play the right games, make a certain amount of money, and watch the right TV shows.
If you don’t, then you are somehow deemed to be lacking in some way. People fear being mocked or ridiculed, so they fall in line. They buy THE right brand — or follow the crowd.
A crowd of people who now constantly compare themselves to others to make sure they “fit in” and judge those who don’t meet their expectations of what they need to have, or be, or do to be accepted.
What’s the point of fitting in if it means by doing so, you become someone who judges those who don’t do, say, have, or like all the same things you do?
Is that a healthy way to look at the world?
Life is hard enough without people advocating an “us vs them” lifestyle.
“I could never see myself being friends with someone who roots for [national sports team].”
Do you actually believe the world would be a better place if we all bought or liked or supported the same things?
I hope not.
If a person is a good person, contributes to society when and where they can, and is a positive force in the world, absolutely none of this superficial stuff matters.
“Dude, come on. That’s a girly drink.”
You don’t want to be someone’s friend because they like something you don’t?
“OMG. Look at their hair.”
You think someone is “weird” because they have a strong enough sense of self that it allows them to express who they are in a way that isn’t the same as everyone else?
“What a bunch of geeks.”
You think something people like is weird because you can’t be bothered to find why some people find it so appealing?
You think anyone who has a different view or opinion is the enemy?
I’m just asking questions.
I’d like to believe we live in a world where people are actually far more tolerant, open-minded, and accepting than they sometimes appear to be.
Especially on social media.
Other people, especially those who don’t see the world in the same way that we do, have a tremendous amount to teach us if we can just keep our minds open long enough to learn it.
“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.” — Pema Chodron
It’s not about being perfect. It’s about making progress.
Remember, how we judge others is how we judge ourselves.
Your mission, if you choose to accept it today, is to think of someone who has influenced you in a positive way and then take the time to tell them.
Whether they set a good example, or inspired you, motivated you, offered you support when you needed it, encouraged you, made you laugh, or were simply kind to you, if you respect and admire that person, let them know — and be specific.
“I really admire you.” is nice.
“I really admire you because…” is even nicer.
And if you can’t think of someone — or can’t get in touch with that someone — then BE that someone for someone today.
Be the person that others admire.
Lend a hand. Offer a word of encouragement. Be kind. Set the example you’d like to see.
But don’t do it because you expect anything in return. Just do it because it feels good.
That’s your mission today.
And if you like it, every day.
It is a fact of life that once we’ve reached a certain level of comfort in nearly any particular skillset, finding the motivation to further improve — or “level up” — one’s abilities in that skillset can be a challenge.
This is because, after a certain point, we reach a plateau and appear to stop getting results. And although we may try for a while, the struggle to further improve upon something is often fraught with failed attempts.
So instead, where we once saw a consistent path of improvement, we fail to get results.
People often assume that, because they stop improving, they have reached the apex of that particular skillset. It often comes with the thought, “Well, I’m no longer getting any better at this, so this must be as good at this as I will ever be” and they leave it at that. Or, because something doesn’t come easy, “I guess I’m just not very good at this particular thing. It just wasn’t meant to be.”
“I will never be a faster typer than this.”
“I will never be able to perform this skateboarding trick.”
“I will never be able to run a 5 minute mile.”
“I will never be able to paint like the pros.”
“I will never be fluent in another language.”
“I will never be able to play the piano well.”
And so on.
And that’s unfortunate because they’ve just fallen victim to a self-limiting belief. It’s not, in most cases, that they truly can’t, it’s that they no longer make any attempts to try.
Others fall into the trap of believing that if they simply continue to use a particular skill that they are comfortable with enough, they’ll get increasingly better at it.
The issue with that is that after you effectively hit a “plateau” with a skill (or a muscle), any further repeating of the same thing you’ve been doing will no longer yield significant gains, changes, or growth.
And that’s because it is the struggling and working hard, not comfortably, at something that causes one to get better at it.
And if you haven’t made the connection as to why this is important, this not only applies to skills, or strength training, but life as well.
It’s also why a wise person once said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.
Joshua Foer, in his 99U talk (video) suggests that you need to “step outside your comfort zone and study yourself failing”.
From his talk description:
“When most of us learn a new skill, we work to get just “good enough” and then we go on autopilot. We hit what journalist and bestselling author Joshua Foer calls the “OK Plateau,” where we have gained sufficient skills for our needs and we stop pushing ourselves.
But experts do it differently. Looking at the research on everyone from incredible athletes to memory champions, Foer has extracted four principles that describe how to push through the OK Plateau to achieve true greatness.”
So if you want to “level up” your skills & abilities and be outstanding, you need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
You need to get back to challenging yourself and failing. And learning from your failures and pushing forward despite them.
And, above all, don’t give up until you begin to see positive results. Results being positive changes in your perspective, approach, style, or abilities.
“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.” — Andy Rooney
When you don’t get results: Try something else.
If you don’t get the results you want: Try something else.
And if you stop getting results: Try something else.
From the comments:
Carl: Great post! I have felt like I was at a plateau in my artwork for some time, and this thinking may have been part of it. One needs to examine their process with an eye towards learning how to work smarter, because just taking the same approach and expecting to get better can be just reinforcing bad (or less than ideal) habits that are holding back progress.
While “just doing more work” can lead to unexpected/accidental discoveries that lead to progress (as well as being important for maintaining current skill levels), intentionally thinking about why one approach or another may be better, and trying different approaches to find out what might work better (or finding out what approaches are used by those who are better than you) is likely to be more effective. I need to remind myself of this, more.
Zero: I agree. You can improve simply by doing more work — and have those serendipitous moments (happy accidents), but those, too, are often caused by making mistakes — or certainly by trying something new.
But if you want to improve faster, make more mistakes faster. :)
And I agree with working smarter, not harder — but, in the case of plateauing, it is often our lack of wanting to work hard that keeps us from improving. We’re not willing to make extra work for ourselves when we know of a “shortcut”. But we also never learn what hidden gems are on those long hard roads we fear to take.
Don’t be deterred from the greatness within you.
Don’t let other people or the voice in your head deter you from the greatness within you.
The power of your influence nearly always appears smaller than it actually is.
Just because people don’t always appear to register whatever message you have to share doesn’t mean you should give up sharing it.
If it’s important to you, and your goal in drawing attention to something is for the greater good, then continue to find positive ways to spread that message, regardless of who you think is getting it.
As human beings, we have done some incredibly stupid and harmful things — to each other, the planet, and other lifeforms on it — simply because everyone else was doing it (so it must be ok).
Hivemind and group social dynamics are very powerful and can actively work against sound logic.
So even if your message it is backed by overwhelming evidence, if it is contrary to popular belief means it will most likely be rejected before it is accepted. In fact, a study by Cornell University found that that people are actually biased against creative ideas (and “creative” can basically apply to anything that isn’t considered standard).
So whatever cause you believe in, if it isn’t already popular, prepare for a struggle to be heard.
But also know that there are always those who are open to hearing your message, even if they don’t fully agree with it (and that’s ok), or live by it.
For example, you don’t have to advocate vegetarianism to still be concerned about how damaging the production of beef is to the environment.
As long as you are not being disrespectful or advocating harm to others, those who are at least peripherally aware of your cause may eventually come to realize the value — or at least some of the value — in what you have to share.
And that’s a start.
You can’t change the entire world at once, but you can influence those you come in contact with by spreading your message in a positive way and setting a good example to follow.
But whatever you do, causing intentional harm to others should never be an option.
If your values and the content of your message ring true, they will speak more powerfully than force ever will.
I’ve said it before, “Anger and hate dig holes. Love and kindness move mountains. Choose your motivation wisely.”
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