There is only one indisputable, immutable fact: We look out on an unfeeling world, but this world we sense around us is merely part of our frame of reference. Reality may be difficult to comprehend, even with science or religion to explain it all to you, but life as we know it is simply a collaboration of everyone’s concurring or competing frames of reference. We may not be able to bend spoons with our minds (unless there really IS no spoon), but we DO make of the world what we will.
I know, hippy drippery, right? Let me explain.
What this idea means in practical terms is, we see the world a certain way, and react to it in the fashion that seems most appropriate to us, and in so doing, we influence those around us because of our seemingly irrational behaviour in the face of the evidence they see all around them that the situation is not as we (or perhaps even they) perceive it to be.
This behaviour in turn ripples out to everyone in your vicinity, and affects how people react to your expressed needs and wants, and how they will or will not choose to help you achieve them. We are so self-centered, we imagine that all that comes our way is either a product of our sole efforts, or is the product of some conspiracy to deny us what is rightfully ours. In truth, it’s both and neither.
If someone finds someone else difficult to be around, from mild uneasiness to intense dislike, they will be less inclined to help them achieve their goals. This is common sense.
If YOU find someone unpleasant to be around, you will try to remove yourself from their vicinity at the earliest convenience, no matter how badly they need you to be there… unless you are already committed to and invested in their well-being, based on past interactions that were more fruitful. You might not be willing to do it for just anyway, but for a dear friend or loved one, you might walk through fire.
But the point is, most people are strangers to us, and so our default reaction is to gauge their behaviour and decide if they are ‘safe’ to be around, and to help, if needed.
Getting back to the self-centered thing, we mistake our successes as being self-made, when in fact, dozens and even thousands of friends and strangers contributed to each success story. Think about that, and then ask if your behaviour or attitude can in any way affect that exchange, or if everyone is brokering their success on an even, unbiased playing field.
Think of how you feel doing a favour for a pretty person of the appropriate persuasion, as opposed to doing the same onerous task for someone you find physically repellent.
The same principle applies to people with positive or negative attitudes. And much like physical attractiveness, mental attractiveness can also be largely out of our control. We don’t precisely choose to be prickly or bossy or dismissive. We react from the point of view of one who feels they are being ill treated or ill served by circumstances. We all do it, to one degree or another. We feel injustice strongly, and it colours our perceptions and our reactions. But if we know this about ourselves, we can rewrite the script we are reacting to, in order to create better results. Some of us refer to this as ‘putting on our game face’, or just ‘thinking happy thoughts’ and getting better results than we expected. It’s NOT easy, thank you very much, but it DOES work.
We get out of life what we put into it, but more importantly, we receive from life what we are prepared to accept, based on our perceptions of the situations we find ourselves in. It’s a gross exaggeration to suggest that it’s like being in an action or horror film, but it’s fairly apt. When the scary music starts, you don’t want to be in the film any more, unless you happen to be holding the right weapon.
In real life, you can’t hear the theme music, but you react accordingly, just the same. Project fear or distaste for the situation, and any good that could come from the situation will pass you by.
By the same token, if you choose not to regard the situation soberly and clear-headed, you may miss the details that tell you there IS more to it than just what you want from the situation. There may be injustice at work, or tragedy, or a myriad other grey-tinged complications that make it a less than ideal situation for most or all of the people involved. There may actually be something that needs fixing, and it may be your unique insight into the situation that makes the difference and enables you and others to correct it.
So it’s not all about being stupidly cheerful in the face of sadness and dismay. But it IS about your outlook, and trying to finding the good in every situation, no matter how difficult or unlikely it seems.
One last thought: you are never truly alone. Lonely, yes, but never truly alone. There IS someone else out there going through something similar to you, or going through dissimilar situations that nevertheless make them highly sympathetic to, or compatible with you.
The notion that you are alone and suffering because of an unjust, unfeeling, uncaring world, or because you are the victim of capricious deities is not necessarily right or wrong. But it’s not the whole truth, either. You have to choose to see and accept the people around you, before you can truly transcend your situation and reap the benefits of uncommon friendship, and through it, uncommon wealth, measured in the only currency that truly matters: love.
And that’s your sermon for today. Thank you for reading. Comments invited.