When our birthdays roll around and we take a look at the past year of our lives, we often have cause to ponder. Another year come and gone. Resolutions made? Kept? Questions asked in the process. And isn’t one of the most frequent questions that line from the old song: Is this all there is?
Is This All There Is?
Let’s look at that for a moment…”is this all there is?”…if this is all there is, then that would depend on something, right? In other words, the fact that this is all there is would have to have a reason. Maybe your family was poor and couldn’t afford to give you an Ivy League education, maybe your mother was bi-polar and your early environment set you up for failure, or maybe your father had cancer and spent five years of your early childhood dying a painful death, or maybe you married a loser, or maybe you made a bad business decision and after that everything went down the tube, or maybe your child is a drug addict, or maybe you had dreams of being a ballerina, but only made it to high school gym teacher because you broke your ankle when you were 14 in such a way that prevented you from ever becoming a first-rate dancer.
Whose Fault Is It?
So what we’re saying here is that there is always something or someone to blame. Right? Wrong. (See also my article Gratitude, Choice and the “Why Did This Happen To Me Syndrome?”). Living the life you want to live depends much more on your inner attitude to all the things that happen to you in life, than on the actual things that happen.
Let’s repeat that. If you want to live a certain way and are not living that way yet, the results you currently have are much more the product of how you constantly react to all the things that do happen, than the fault of any external event that may influence your life course.
What does that mean?
It literally means that you have the power to influence outcomes in your life by your inner attitude to your life and everything that goes on in it. Hocus pocus, you say. Attitude, I say. Think of the girl who goes to the dance confident of herself, happy to be going, and convinced that she will have a good time. Even if she is not nearly the prettiest girl there, she will shine, and stand out, simply because of her inner attitude. We’ve all been in a social situation and scratched our heads mentally, asking ourselves how on earth it is that someone who really doesn’t look very special, and may not necessarily be wearing the most fashionable clothes, or driving the most luxurious car, or be the most intelligent or interesting person there, is nevertheless the most popular or sought-out person there. Now think of the girl who goes to the party thinking her dress or her hair is all wrong, and that surely no one will ask her to dance. Guess where she will be as the confident girl sails by in dance after dance? Holding up the wall, naturally. Attitude.
Let’s use another example. Job interviews. Does the person with the best curriculum and the highest grades always get the job? Not necessarily. Attitude plays a large role.
Attitude contains within itself a large grain of faith. It’s not religious faith, but it’s a kissing cousin, because it involves a kind of blind belief akin to followers of religious orientations. In this case, however, it’s faith in oneself. Faith in the rightness of what one is doing. Faith in the ultimate outcome. And it’s often blind faith because whatever it is one is seeking to do, wishing to accomplish, or trying to figure out how to manifest in one’s life, has never yet actually happened.
Obviously there are many things that an individual can do in order to move the process forward. You can get an education in a specific field, you can train for a specific activity, you can hone your character, you can attempt to meet influential people who may help you move forward, etc. However, much of the above is at best only partially useful without the right attitude. A winning attitude, you might say, of which you are convinced. Quite a bit different from the attitude some people take of trying to convince others of the fact that they have this inner positive attitude.
All right, already, I hear you saying. Clue me in on this winning attitude, on this inner positive way of seeing life…how do I acquire it? Not only do I not have such an attitude, but I really don’t much believe in myself. Admittedly, my office attracts many clients whose self confidence and sense of self worth is not the best. But read on, it is not an impossible quest.
You did say you‘re not living the life you want to live, right? And you didn’t think it was all just a question of snapping your fingers, right? But it’s truly not very much harder. (See also my March 2006 Newsletter: Intentional Focus).
Again, the main ingredient here is attitude. Impossible, you say? The content of this article is just ridiculous? Well, there you go: attitude. Let’s give it a try, you say? Let’s read on and see what this writer has to say. Notice that if that is your decision, it also says something about your attitude.
Choosing to Decide That You Have a Choice
So how do you go from living a life you don’t want to live, to living one you do want to live? How do you begin to believe in yourself if you don’t? How do you stop having agonizing relationships or downbeat jobs? One of the books I recommended in my 2006 newsletters was William Glasser’s Choice Theory. Dr. Glasser and I concur about many of the topics I have addressed over the past years for those of you following these articles in my newsletters or here on my blog, in particular, with regards to the question of choice (see also my article Making Choices). If you begin to open yourself to the possibility that every thought, feeling, action, and reaction that you have is not only your responsibility but also your choice, you begin to understand the magnitude of the sentence that if you are not living the life you want to live, it is also your choice – no matter what the conditions of your upbringing, your circumstances, your partner, or your health are – that your life is not as you would wish it to be.
Whew. C.G. Jung put it this way: Free will is the ability to do gladly that which I must do.
Choice and Focus
So what can you do right now, today, at this very moment to begin to change your life and bring it more into alignment with that which you would like to see in your life? Focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want. Focus on where you want to go, not on where you think you might go if things don’t work out well. Focus on the best possible outcome, even if you don’t yet know how to get from here to there. Focus on what quickens your breath, focus on what makes your blood pound, focus on what sets your heart hammering when you think about it, but don’t focus on your fears about how it all might not work out. When your mind goes into the space where you find yourself thinking about how it might not work, or what terrible thing will happen if you don’t achieve this or get that by the end of the month, or in five months or ten years or by the time you’re 25, or 40, or 72, recognize where your mind is taking you, and begin to exercise a totally new muscle that allows you to choose the thoughts you have at all times. As soon as you notice that your thoughts are going in directions that vary with your purpose, focus, and attitude, choose to change the direction of those thoughts. It is absolutely your choice to focus differently. In making that choice, changes will begin to happen in your life.
Remember that whatever you focus on initially might need some adjustment. A sculptor may see a vision of his finished work of art in his mind’s eye, but as he begins to prepare the marble and work on it, due to the vein in the material, or due, perhaps, to changes that have taken place in the sculptor’s mind, as he grows and matures, the final version may vary slightly or a lot from the initial vision. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as you also learn to adjust as you go along, always remembering that the adjustment must be aligned with your purpose, positive focus, and attitude.
Your life is a reflection of your inner being, your thoughts and feelings, and above all, of the choices you make on a moment-by-moment basis. Learn this, use it, see how these choices begin making first small, and then larger differences in your life, and begin to live the life you want to live. It is never too late to start.
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