While the following isn’t meant to deal with any severe condition, be it physical or mental. It is indeed amazing how much of one’s state of mind is under their control. People choose their awareness to any given environment on a moment by moment basis. However, with the multitasking and distractions of the modern world, to say nothing of how quickly it moves, this awareness can frequently get lost in the labyrinth of input, resulting in the adoption of a negative outlook. This is due to the fact that most attention-grabbing techniques are based on exploiting negative (shock) perspectives. The news is an excellent example. But one can also choose the positive perspective. The negative, which we are all so used to, is not by any means the default.
Here is my list of tricks to navigating the maze.
Be aware of “Your Self” and take stock of the moment.
In our everyday lives it is far too easy to become lost in routine. How many times have you performed an activity so regularly, you aren’t even aware of the details? (For example, driving your car to work.) While this can be great, at first glance, because one can seemingly sidestep the boring aspects of the activity, it also means you are not aware of what’s influencing you. Thoughts and reactions can slip in under the mental radar, and automatically accepted. Fairly quickly, things can become an entrenched habit.
However, pausing and taking stock of emotions and situations throughout the day provides an opportunity to dramatically change the impact of any event. Indeed, it is astonishing how much any given situation is open to interpretation, and that means you can change it, at will. The first step is turning off the autopilot and checking in with yourself. Questions like: “How do I feel right now?” and “What other factors, in this situation are influencing me?” If you must adhere to a routine, because of the job or other situation, change some aspect of how it’s perceived, almost anything will do. The important point here is to stop several times during the day and take note of how you are feeling or interpreting the situation and altering the interpretation to your liking, rather them being adversely affected by the usual automatic reaction.
Do what every five-year-old does: Challenge Everything.
It may not be every child’s first word, but without a doubt, at some point they will discover the most awesome tool in the universe, which is guaranteed to drive every adult to distraction at some point or another. This tremendous power is found in the phrase “Why?…”.
When I was a teenager, the next-door neighbour’s five-year-old would come over on a daily basis to query my father about something. The conversation would start simply enough, but with each answer would come the further question “Why?” And eventually my father would get to the point where he did not know the answer. (Which thrilled the five-year-old too no end!) The amazing thing was, my father had been asked by this young mind to think about things on the level he never considered. My father by the way was an incredibly intelligent and educated man. But what this five-year-old could do with one word, which the rest of the family could not, stump the old man. This usually led to further investigation about whatever was asked. In directions Dad had never pondered.
Asking “Why?…” About the things in life can change your perspective and direction. Do not be afraid to break or challenge the adopted rules. This is the essence of true problem-solving and can be very invigorating. No one is ever too old to ask and get an answer to this most sincere of questions.
Everyone needs an “Outside” influence.
No matter who you are, there are all-too comfortable boundaries you will never cross on your own. The tendency for one to stay within their own comfort zone is so ingrained, and it makes sense from a survival point of view, that the help of others must be enlisted. A little bit of the unexpected or leftfield influence is necessary if one is truly to maintain an open mind. (If you are already left leaning, consider the rightwing perspective.) One must periodically have their cage rattled. There are positive ways to do this, you don’t have to become an all-out anarchist. Seek out groups who represent things on the fringe of your experience, if you’re more adventurous on the fringe of society. For example:
- Belief systems you’re not familiar with, the Wiccan faith.
- Transgendered groups.
- Sex worker activists.
These are but three, in the Lower Mainland there are hundreds of groups representing “invisible populations”. The point is to expose yourself to a wider array of humanity. Do your homework though, this is not simply a Google search. Above all, be sincere in your intentions and know why you are seeking out a particular group or experience.
In the case of Strive Living, for both staff and clientele, these outside influences and activities must be independent of the organization and its environment. All people need some challenge in their life, in addition to the status quo (i.e. medical conditions or work environment). You want people to maintain a good connection with the outside world and societies.
Small events matter more than big ones.
We all are pretty good at recognizing the big events in our lives, whether they be positive or negative. Reacting with either “Wow, that was awesome!” or “No, I wouldn’t do that in a million years.” However, people often miss the impact of small events throughout the day or in their life, often because they feel the item is insignificant. Yet, being aware of how a “small event” can have a big impact on your day is very important. These little events are cumulative, and one’s life becomes coloured by them. This is especially true if the feeling is perceived as sincere or spontaneous. Ever had a stranger spontaneously smile at you or react to your smile? This can completely change one’s day.
One last note: If you sincerely undertake the points above, don’t expect for this to progress in an orderly fashion, or not involve considerable challenge. However, the key take away is: in order to benefit from life, you must be aware of what’s going on and engaged with the people around you. It can sometimes be quite an undertaking but it is indeed well worth it.
Freedom Place Tenant