“ When I give, I give myself. ”
~ Walt Whitman
Why do so many people fail to improve themselves when they are presented with solutions which they themselves agree with? They see the problem and solution but seem to be unable to use it. Their minds seem stuck in a recurring pattern which takes too much energy to break. They make excuses and delude themselves, they convince themselves that something won’t work, something will be too hard, it is just the way it is, it is someone else’s fault, they don’t really care about it (even though they do).
I’ve come to realise that for most people the knowledge of a weakness and even its origin is not enough to break out of the pattern. The barrier to breaking out of these thinking patterns is fear and lazy thinking.
The solution is to start doing things, any things, that are either difficult or frightening for no other reason than that they are difficult or frightening. It doesn’t matter what it is. The point is to get used to overcoming fearful feelings or realising that the hard things are actually quite easy if we make them a habit.
I think if we get used to overcoming fearful or difficult situations in one aspect of our lives then this attitude can transfer to other aspects. We can use this to our advantage by starting off with little things to overcome and gradually lead up to the bigger ones.
Many people want to improve themselves but it is usually just an aspiration. A nice idea. I like the idea of playing the piano and I would love to be able to play the piano. But really I don’t care that much because I am not putting any time or energy into doing so. I mustn’t care that much if I am not even taking basic actions to achieve my desire.
Getting from aspiration to action can require realisations or inspirations which we have never been exposed to by reading a book or seeing someone else’s example and then really being passionate enough to do it.
Sometimes it takes a serious life event: A smoker who has always desired to give up but never put the energy into doing so gets diagnosed with cancer and gives up instantly – although for some people, even that isn’t enough.
So to conclude with a ridiculous cheesy metaphor: I think that forcing yourself to do difficult or frightening things for no other reason than that they are difficult or frightening is equivalent to learning to play the piano of life. We just have to put in the effort.
Whenever you look at a piece of work and you think the fellow was crazy, then you want to pay some attention to that. One of you is likely to be, and you had better find out which one it is.
~Charles F. Kettering
Same goes for ideas, opinions, statements, philosophies.
Also there is the possibility that you are both crazy. Where there is disagreement at least one person is wrong.
There are so many opportunities presented to us every day. It is quite amazing. They always come from other people.
We live within a huge and complex social network. Almost everything we achieve in life is through other people. Whether it be a job offer, a close relationship or a great idea. This is why building relationships with other people is the most important skill you can have.
First we need to see the opportunity. This is where most people stop. They just don’t see it. We need to see almost every decision is in some way linked to following or creating new opportunities.
Second, we need to pursue the opportunity. We need to have the confidence to fully explore this path. Sometimes this requires some (real or perceived) risk, sometimes none at all. We need to assess whether the risk is worth the potential reward. But most of all we need to throw away fears and counter mental laziness by being mindful and putting in our energy until we are satisfied.
These days I find myself constantly looking for and trying to create new opportunities. When I see them I throw myself fully into them.
For Example (not perfected all these things yet):
- When meeting a new person who could become a close friend I can be a bit more full on than is the social standard. Go go strongly for them, I don’t muck around. I give them the picture of who I am and allow them to respond as they desire. I will continue to follow up with them until a solid connection is made or I am satisfied that this path is not going anywhere.
- Not saying no to an invitation just because I lack some energy at that particular moment. You never know what amazing things could eventuate.
- Always trying to engage in a positive way with every person I meet even if I am deep down disinterested. You never know what hidden surprises there could be.
- Reading and looking for great ideas in books and other media.
This forceful continuous search for opportunities has lead me to amazing new friends, a great career and opportunities for living in a few different countries so far.
Don’t forget that you are also a provider of opportunities for other people as well, so be generous!
We make our own luck!
Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
~ Marcus Aurelius