It’s about constructing your own reality
It’s funny how ideas come to me for the blog each week. Sometimes I sit down and dream and think and dig out an idea like digging a tick out of your dogs back. Sometimes I google happiness and look for something to write about. A lot of times though, something happens in my life and that thing resonates and like a kernel or seed begins to germinate and grows into something to write about. Tonight’s posts is one of the more esoteric forms of this phenomenon.
I remember the idea coming to me, but exactly where it came from is not so clear. Perhaps it popped out of something on Netflix or from the recent Douglas Adams’ book I’ve been reading. Perhaps it was embedded in something I encountered on a social media feed or an NPR podcast. I can’t quite put my finger on the source but the idea is clear and fundamental to our lives and our happiness. It’s a simple idea that is really wholly contained in the Jim Rohn quote above. In your life there are a lot of circumstances, a lot of them you can’t control. For instance, where and who you are born to is something you had no control or choice in. Those starting blocks inevitably lead you into certain circumstances in your life that are for the most part unalterable. The perfect analogy is a game of poker.
You are dealt the cards you are dealt, and to steal a quick quote from the Kenny Rogers “every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser.” Those unalterable circumstances are the cards you’re dealt. Sometimes in your life you’re dealt a royal flush, and I know a couple of people who were. Sometimes you’re dealt a really good hand and sometimes let’s face it, you’re dealt complete shit. The reality is that there is only one hand that can’t be beat in poker and that’s the royal flush. People dealt that hand never think about it, because they can never lose and they live their lives that way. But the rest of us at various times get various levels of good and bad hands. But because every other hand can be beat by something, there is always the possibility you have that hand, so no matter how good someone else’s hand is, a bluff can sometimes work with the worst of hands.
What that convoluted analogy boils down to is that although your circumstances may be terrible, there’s always a chance you can make it work out well. The real deciding factor in how good your hand (your circumstances) is ultimately, is how well you play it. YOU are the most important thing in this picture and your attitude, your expectations and your effort decide how good things can be. YOU create your life and you can make the most out of what you are given, or you can whine and cry and blame the circumstances of your life. Now I’m a realist and sure if you’re born into a poor and uneducated family, in a poor place, if you have societal disadvantages due to your appearance, ethnicity etc… you will not likely be as successful as someone born to wealthy parents in a rich area who is tall, healthy and beautiful.
But there are examples everywhere you look of people who bucked those odds. People you see, meet and read about every single day who have overcome bad hands. What’s special about these people? it comes down to a few of things:
I don’t know if I can adequately express how important your attitude is to how successful and happy you will be. But I’ll give this example, you go through the grocery store checkout and the checker, never makes eye contact, doesn’t greet you, rings up the groceries then hands you the receipt without a word. The experience leaves you feeling a little out of sorts and unsatisfied. Let’s contrast that with my experience the other day in a store where that first experience is the norm. The cashier said hello, asked how my day was going and actually waited a beat for an answer. She smiled, she was engaging and thanked me when she handed me the receipt. It was so pleasant in fact that I complimented her on her attitude.
Now imagine, I’m in that line and I own a store or a company that has the need for a customer service related clerk. Her attitude might get her a job offer, it will certainly get her more pleasant responses from her customers. And that positivity loop makes work a better day for her, so she goes home in a better mood. That makes her experience with her family a bit easier and better. That simple feedback loop provides her with a happier life than she would otherwise have, and what did it take to get there? Effort.
Effort, this is where the personal responsibility in our life comes in. What started the positive feedback loop that person was on, was her effort. She decided to initiate it by making a conscious effort to encounter the world on a positive footing and that’s what she got back in return. You may have an incredibly talent, I have a nephew who has tremendous natural talent as a golfer. But that alone is not enough to become a professional golfer or get a golfing scholarship to college. If he wants those types of successes he needs effort and discipline. The talent is the cards you’re dealt, but if you fold, you don’t win. You have to take the step of extending the effort to put yourself into a better position. And what also really helps is to have positive expectations.
One of my favorite concepts in psychology is called the self-fulfilling prophecy. A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior. The image below simplifies it as well as you can.
This means that it is incredibly important for you to believe things can be better, that you can achieve the goals you set and occasionally, that you believe you can fly.
So here’s the thing folks, we create our own success and happiness through three simple things, our attitude, our effort and our expectations. So if you believe you can achieve something, if you carry with you an attitude that creates positivity and you work real hard you can achieve any reasonable goal, most unreasonable goals and the occasional miracle. And without a doubt my friends, you will have more happy days. ~ Rev Kane