To Get a Different Result, Be a Different Person (plus disclaimer and 1970s movie references)
This series has been about gaining greater control over your life through subtle shifts in attitude and perception. However, I don’t want to seem like I’m blowing sunshine where the sun don’t shine. So first, a disclaimer.
My suggestions do not apply to people who live in a war zone, or mortal danger due to race, gender or creed; if you and everyone you know is in abject poverty, starving, homeless, and without access to education; if you or someone close to you is very ill and you have no health care, or are suffering from debilitating mental illness it will probably take more than a shift in attitude to significantly change life for the better, and my heart goes out to you.
As for the fortunate rest of us, you would think we’d be skipping and singing all the live-long day. Yet, despite abundant food, clothing, shelter and opportunities, many of us feel depressed, oppressed and stressed. Often, we don’t even understand why.
Here’s one reason: most of us don’t need to possess, do, or be 95% of what we believe we should. It’s not that we are overachievers, so much as unproductive achievers when it comes to making ourselves happy.
Yes, there are people out there who really don’t care about anyone but themselves, but if you’re worried about being one of them, you probably aren’t. According to Martha Stout who wrote a book called The Sociopath Next Door, these folks can be found in every walk of life, lack any human conscience, and number one out of ten of us.
The other 90%, however, generally have the opposite problem from the sociopaths – we care too much about how other people see us, to the point where we can become crippled by expectations (both imagined and real). What’s worse, we then pass those on to our loved ones, in a never-ending cycle of “domestication and the dream of the planet,” as Don Miguel Ruiz calls it in the brilliant book The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book).
Viva La Revolucion!
On the plus side, in the free world most of us have the option to shed those conventions without fear of mortal consequences. You don’t like the way your life is going? Do something different. Throw your TV out of the window and yell “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
If it doesn’t serve you, but you don’t dare walk away, do you own it… or does it own you?
This can mean your job/town/school/car/business/house…also less tangible things, like reputations, relationships, and beliefs. Of course any of these can be a great source of joy. The danger comes when we accept as inevitable, or even right, the ones that suck the life out of us.
Deep down, most of us know which is which. It’s just not always easy or convenient to admit it. But then again, when we finally do stand up and say “I don’t care what anybody thinks, I don’t want this or I do want that, and I’m going for it… that is a great, liberating moment.
So many people say when they finally took the plunge and decided to change their life, the world seemed to change around them, too. Support and opportunities appeared from unlikely places. There’s no guarantee, of course; it doesn’t always happen. Sometimes we fail spectacularly along the way, doing something we were so sure was right at the time. But when you really do hit the right thing at the right time, it clicks and you feel it.
I know that ever since I committed to being a full-time writer and editor, money has stopped being a problem for me. And that was the last thing I expected! I truly believe that this change is a side effect of following what is, for me, the right thing at the right time. Of course there was and is a lot of hard work involved, but this work feels different than other hard work I’ve done in the past: more productive and more satisfying. And because I’m happy, I’m less worried about the future. I trust this path is leading me where I need to go. So when I say “be a different person” I mean be you, only more so: bolder, wiser, deeper, more determined.
I bet some of you have you experienced this. Tell me: What leap did you take and how did it turn out? I love stories of personal daring and creative change. Most people do, because it feeds our desire (whether secret or public) to get out there and be somebody!
Great Resources for Change: The Change Blog; The Art of Non-Conformity; Jonathan Fields; The Urban Monk; A Flourishing Life
Great article. Validating. I would add to “sucking the life out of us”…..”sucking the life AND HEALTH out of us”. Although it is probably implied, for me, it makes it more specific. Thank you Melanie!
Good point. Unhappiness is a huge and often unconsidered factor in health. Thanks for the feedback!