Lemons or Lemonade?

Just take a moment to ponder this beginning thought: “That which you believe becomes your world.” – Richard Matheson

I came a cross this quote the other day and it really captured my attention. I found myself stuck on it for an unusual amount of time. It was as if my mind was having a little tug-of-war over the validity of what this quote was saying. Part of me was yelling “No way!”, but there was this other part that was quietly saying, “Um, hello, yeah!” Ultimately I have to admit it is an extremely accurate description of how our worlds are shaped.

Simply put, we are indeed in the driver’s seat of our own reality. We get to decide our attitude and beliefs every day. We can pick our reactions to all our daily events/happenings. We get to choose how we respond to others. And just think for a moment how often in any given day we get to make such decisions! How can we argue that we are not in charge of our own reality?!

A rather commonplace example to consider: When you’re driving to work in the morning and some random driver cuts you off, you have a choice. You can respond in a manner that indicates your anger and frustration (i.e. honking your horn, flipping them off, yelling obscenities at them from your car as if they can hear you, etc.) OR you can choose something a bit more neutral or even compassionate (i.e. continue about the business of driving to work, maybe have a momentary thought whereby you hope that person’s rush is not due to some major emergency, you might take a moment to send them a kind thought or prayer for their safety and the safety of others driving near them, etc.). The bottom line is you have a choice as to what that momentary interaction means to you in your world….you get to choose how it will impact you.

And part of that choice, I believe, involves considering the purpose or cause of that interaction. In other words, using the example of the driver cutting you off on your way to work, it means recognizing that most likely the driver did not cut you off because he/she has some issue with you personally. I mean let’s be honest, the driver did not get out of bed that morning with the sole purpose of cutting you off. The fact that he/she cut you off was most likely nothing personal. It is more likely that the driver was distracted in some way or was in such a hurry that he/she did not even really notice you or misjudged the timing of the situation. And that’s an important distinction to keep in mind when you are choosing your response. When we believe something was done to us for a “personal” reason we, understandably, get a bit defensive and/or upset, and as such we tend to respond in less than favorable ways. On the contrary, if we have compassion for the other person and don’t assume it was a personal attack of any sort, we can have a more neutral or even caring response. Either way, the reaction we choose will stay with us for some time and greatly influence our reality for a good portion of the day, and as such influence our attitude as well.

Sometimes I wonder if we haven’t brainwashed our society to believe that everyone is out to get or hurt them in some way…you know, the old conspiracy theory thinking. I think the example of how we respond when a driver cuts us off illustrates that quite clearly. More often than not I have seen people jump to the conclusion that it was some kind of personal attack against them, and if we believe the person cut us off intentionally to hurt us in some way, then that is the realty from which we will operate when we respond.

So what’s the takeaway? You can be whatever you want to be. You really, truly can. As Richard Matheson’s quote points out, our world is that which we believe. We have control here. Put another way, we make of our situation whatever it is that we make of it, period. If we’ve decided a situation is stressful, it will be stressful. If we’ve decided that a situation is no big deal, then it isn’t. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? And yet in the midst of the daily grind it’s a truth that is quickly forgotten…but it’s a truth nonetheless. Think of the power you have as a result though. If you want happiness in your life, you have the ability to have it. What a powerful and freeing concept!

So is life half full or half empty in your world? Do you have lemons or are you making lemonade? How ever you want to put it, what is the reality you create on a daily basis? I would challenge you to stretch yourself and work to make your reality just a little more positive with each passing day. Choose to be the light, not the darkness, in your own world and that of others as well.