“Harry Potter isn’t real? Oh no! Wait, wait, what do you mean by real? Is this video blog real? Am I real if you can see me and hear me, but only through the internet? Are you real if I can read your comment but I don’t know who you are or what your name is or where you’re from or what you look like or how old you are? I know all of those things about Harry Potter. Maybe Harry Potter’s real and you’re not.”
– John Green
WHO’S IN CONTROL OF YOUR REALITY?
Have you ever asked yourself: Who’s in control of my life?
If the answer isn’t “you,” then you’re in for some serious, long-term demands. You see, the challenge is that most people are really impulse buyers of what their particular Life has to offer. They live unplanned lives and make decisions right before something is about to happen in order to either avoid pain or gain pleasure. They let their emotions and feelings drive their course from moment to moment. This leaves them open to exploitation by others.
I’m all about you living passionately. But I want you to be passionate in moving towards a chosen goal or outcome, not be the victim of various distractions and chaos.
And here’s the most cursed thing about living an unplanned life: you are continually deluding yourself in order to justify the impulsive decisions and reactions that you make and have. It’s a vicious cycle that is hard to break unless you take control of your life back.
So, take a moment and consider where you are in your life path right now. Has your life mostly been a series of spontaneous and sometimes whimsical decisions? Have your choices been driven by Chance? Have your spontaneous pleasures and preferences plopped you smack dab in the middle of a maze of confusion?
YOU HAVE CONTROL OVER YOUR PERCEPTIONS
Each one of these movies essentially involves the same foundational theme – the same situational promise, if you will: We each have the power to control our perception of reality.
Let’s admit something . . . right now, you’re living a life inside a box. And it’s a box built of thin, frail walls of your own making. And you’ve likely constructed those walls based on the thoughts, dreams, expectations, and modeling of others. That’s right: your life may just be a representation of something you learned (incorrectly) from someone else.
If you’d like to change your life for the better, it’s time to step outside of that dishonest box, kick it to the curb or throw it in the trash, and start living a wild and exciting “real” life outside the box!
How do you start?
By not just looking for more; it’s about knowing what you want more of. There’s strategic action to be planned that comes from all of this. Then you take massive action to get precisely what you want. It’s also about having the grit, determination, and backbone to keep moving forward. Think about it for a moment . . . every powerful hero in any of your favorite movies is actually defined, in whole or in part, by an equally powerful enemy or obstacle. And it’s also about looking fear in the eye, as Pink wrote in her song, Glitter in the Air, and saying, “I just don’t care.”
A NEW PERCEPTION REQUIRES YOU TO REALIZE YOU’RE NOT A VICTIM OF ANYTHING AT ALL
A successful and consistent magician is neither a finger-pointer nor a cry-baby. Those who have learned to shape their reality and bend it to their will are not hapless casualties of circumstance.
Quite the contrary.
When faced with obstacles, they adopt the Hannibal quote: “I will either find a way . . . or make one.”
And they know full well the import of Kurt Vonnegut when he said, “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
One of the first things you can do to create a reality that finally works is to start ACTING precisely how you want to be perceived by others. If you want to be happy, then you must ask yourself what you have to DO so that others see you as a happy person. If you want to be kind, then you must DO kindness that others see. Then and only then does your self-perception begin to twist and mold and shape and form into happiness or kindness or any other thing you want.
Let’s deconstruct this powerful strategy for a moment so you understand what’s really going on and how you’ve been programming yourself with viruses and bad commands for a very long time.
YOU PERCEIVE WHAT YOU TAKE WITH YOU
Until now, you’ve likely woken up in the morning, noticed (consciously or subconsciously) how you’re feeling, let the results of whatever chemical reactions are going on dictate how you interpret what you just noticed, and then you draw usually false connections between something that has already happened or is about to happen with how you “feel.” In other words, we make continuous mistakes about the outside world and what that outside world means. And these mistakes are driven by a defective programming: that what we see “out there” is something “objectively real” and so it must be “so.”
In physics there’s a concept called the Observer Effect. Simply, it pertains to changes in an event, consequence, or outcome because of the act of observation, itself. Think about the ramifications of that theory.
The mere act of observing can change what is being observed.
This is very similar – for you Star Wars fans – to the exchange that takes place between Yoda and Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi. Yoda is commanding Luke to enter a cave.
Luke: What’s in there?
Yoda: Only what you take with you.
When I talk about DOING happiness or DOING kindness, then, it forces you to “take” the happiness or kindness out into the world with you. It begins as a mental construct – a trick – to get you around, over, and through your own deception of what the world has been and meant up until now.
Notice, too, that I’m not referring to happiness or kindness as something you feel. I’m concerned only with how you ACT. One of the primary ways you move to seeing the world (and yourself) in a new and potent way is to start paying attention to your deeds instead of your feelings.
Next week, we’ll finish up with Part 2 of our strategy for building a reality that finally works. Until then, contemplate the following:
“Dreams feel real while we’re in them. It’s only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange.”
– Cobb, from the movie Inception
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