If you can’t change the circumstances, change your perspective. – Unknown
Each era leaves a unique footprint on this world and therefore on us. We remember times and decades past for one thing or another, something that emphatically defines them: the mindless warfare of the 20th century; the industrial excess and consumerism of the post-war decades; the internet boom of the 90s; and perhaps most recently the unprecedented technological growth of the early 21st century.
Even as such monumental events and new worldviews shaped and immortalized those times in history, so can we immortalize ourselves through our actions and our decisions. In other words, as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe writes, “Life is the childhood of your immortality.” I could not have written it better!
What About These Times, Right Now?
If you look beyond the horizon, at mornings still to come, you will feel the storm of change brewing yet again. These are fast and revolutionary days: each brings advancement and hope, at times a worrying statistic but something new nonetheless. Everything and everyone are connected; boundaries and distance are words of the old language.
Our cars have never been faster, our phones and computers never more intelligent, our social lives never more instant, and our hospitals never more sophisticated than they are today. Yet our problems have collectively never been greater! A glance at the environment and the global water crisis, for instance, or a deep look our fast-declining health and well-being will explain my meaning quite thoroughly…
So how true is our path? Down what road do we so proudly march? Are we, the human race, really heading in the right direction or are we puppets still to our former ways, dancing the same old dance on a brand new stage?
Like Light Slicing Through Darkness
We have lost ourselves in our thirst for instant gratification and our search for more and more and more.
This is never enough, and that must always be had. After a long day of work, perhaps as an act of rebellion, we spend and consume and waste to remind ourselves of our importance, our purchasing power, our ability to get what we want. But isn’t lasting happiness what we truly want, and isn’t that what we really aren’t getting from our existing ways?
Industries and businesses, of course, love this. It keeps the cycle going and the money flowing. These companies would have us believe that we need their products to express ourselves and, ironically, our individuality. A brief look in any direction reveals that this approach to seeking individuality has clearly failed.
Does having a gold iPhone really make you different from somebody with a black iPhone?
If bespoke clothing and limited edition items really do elevate and distinguish us as individuals, then why do we constantly seek newer and even more “unique” products?
Where does it end and where do we stop? It doesn’t, because business halts when we do.
Perhaps we have forgotten that self-expression existed long before this consumer-craze and long before these companies convinced us that showing others who we are should cost money, and in some cases a fortune.
Have we also forgotten the truly unique (and free) instruments of self-expression with which each and every one of us has been blessed? Our words, our mannerisms, our personalities, our quirks, our humor, our stories, our ambitions, our accomplishments, our hopes and dreams, our ability to rise to the challenge, our very humanity.
Are these not ways of expressing ourselves, and are they not vastly more unique and memorable than any material form of self-expression?
When was the last time we remembered someone for their car or their clothing rather than the words they said to us or the personalities they impressed upon us?
Take comfort in knowing that we all spend and, at times, spend too much. Having worn every label from Armani to Burberry to Dolce&Gabbana to Gucci to Ferragamo to Prada to Ted Baker to Tom Ford to Zegna, I speak from extensive experience when I say that hiding behind the shield of consumer goods and brand names will do nothing to empower you or to express who you really are. I now wear a white t-shirt and light blue jeans during the day and a black t-shirt and dark blue jeans during the evening. Nobody has so far insulted my attire. In fact, I now receive more compliments, genuine compliments at that, than I ever did wearing “designer clothing”!
Realize That You Are Not Your Belongings!
Realize that you are not your belongings. You are your kind words, your graceful mannerisms, your beautiful personalities, your unique quirks, your contagious humor, your unforgettable stories, your grand ambitions, your noble accomplishments, your heroic hopes and dreams, your unshakable ability to rise to the challenge. You are all these things.
Above all, you are a human being.
If you are currently drifting through the cloud of uncertainty, if you feel lost in the background, if you feel hopelessly stuck in life, if you are alone, if you hurt, please read again the paragraph above this one. If you dedicate yourself to being even a third of that list, I assure you that two-thirds of your life-problems will vanish within weeks. You can exile this suffocating search for material gratification, now and forever. You, each and every one of you, can be the light that slices through this darkness!
New Mind, New Path
Once we have emptied our minds of pointless pursuits to lead to no place and to no end, we can begin at a new beginning and walk a more worthy road. These, as I have said, are revolutionary times, ripe and ready for a new movement in a new direction. The old ways of eating and living and thinking and doing have failed us, but we have not yet failed ourselves. There is time still for a change, and that time is now ours.
We, the self-help community, are now in the spotlight and the play is moving on quickly. We must maintain speed and momentum if we are to carry the banner of change and improvement. Make no mistake about it, we are the vanguard that must drive this movement forth. If you frequent community hubs like HavingTime, you are already a vital part of this movement! Be proud that you are here. Be happy that we are here together, united by our desires to help each other and the world that has so long been tarnished…
The next evolution will be an evolution of the mind, of our thoughts and our ways. We must stand at the forefront of our times and embrace this coming wave of new thinking and new being. Perhaps you are already well down the path of self-improvement and committed to bettering the world. Even still, consider adopting these four practices for just 21 days. They will, if honestly observed and carried out, bring about dramatic and lasting improvement in every part of you: mind, body, and self-image.
4 Tips to Find Peace in The Midst of Chaos
Compete not with others but only with yourself. Much of our social anxiety and subsequently our need to indulge in worldly goods stems from our tendency to draw comparisons between others and ourselves. This is an illusion that we create for ourselves to suffer. Do not enter this door and so imprison yourself.
Whether you are at the gym, at work, on a sports team, in a store, on the beach, try to catch yourself whenever you compare yourself to someone else.
This is the first step, consciously catching ourselves. In doing so, we become vigilant observers of our thoughts, and any thought well observed can be changed for good.
After this, each day make an honest attempt to improve just one small thing about yourself.
It could be physical, mental, emotional. It could be a harder workout, a slight change to your diet, a fewer dishes in the sink, a compliment to a stranger, an act of kindness, a smile. Everything counts. Everything adds up to a better you!
Acknowledge and honor the profound interconnectedness of all things and all beings. Your mind and body and self-image work in harmony and hence must be harmoniously improved. Likewise, you are a part of an elaborate web that connects and unites you to everything, your environment, your friends, your work, persons you do not yet know, places you have not yet seen. Directly or indirectly, everything interacts with everything.
Each decision we make changes the life-path of at least one person. We, who influence each other so, must then be wise with our thoughts and even wiser with our actions. We must think of others and then of ourselves, satisfying not one but both with each decision. The dog eats dog mentality has failed itself, us, and almost the world. We pioneers must turn the tide in the direction of kindness and generosity by understanding and helping others as we do through communities like HavingTime.
3. Mutual Accountability (Not Punishment)
The science behind this is vast and undeniable, but you did not read this far to be bored now by scientific evidence. Look to the failed companies and empires of the past. Punishment, no matter how prolonged or how severe, is destined for resistance and failure. Anger, hatred, and punishment are not our ways. One day we will look back on these as barbaric practices of some ancient world.
The principles of self-overcoming and interconnectedness (kindness toward others) give birth to a culture of mutual accountability. Who could act otherwise after seeing everyone around him or her act so nobly, with so much love and positivity? We must never enslave through command and anger but instead inspire through lofty action and selfless sacrifice. I learned this lesson the hard way, from severe personal and business failures, failures from which most do not recover. Control and punishment lead only in one direction: down.
4. Art and Music
To quote Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once again, “Every day we should hear at least one little song, read one good poem, see one exquisite picture, and, if possible, speak a few sensible words.” Each day that we appreciate a work of art is a day made infinitely better. Try it and you will understand my meaning.
We are living in this moment, right now. The past is dead, the future is not yet born. Now is all we have, and we must shine now, in the present, to secure a glowing future for the world and ourselves. Change is calling and the call is clear: we must rise united and spread our ways of gratitude and kindness and health and happiness to every person we encounter.
Let us ensure that years and years from now these times will be remembered for the positive change that we carry to the doorsteps of all humanity. Let us not hesitate a moment longer, for these are the moments that define and immortalize us.