Carefully watch your thoughts, for they become your words.
Manage and watch your words, for they will become your actions.
Consider and judge your actions, for they have become your habits.
Acknowledge and watch your habits, for they shall become your values.
Understand and embrace your values, for they become your destiny.
— Mahatma Gandhi
Our feelings, thoughts, and responses to life have a great deal to do with the conditions in which we were raised, the locations in which we grew up, the channels of knowledge we received, and the beliefs of the people who raised us.
Vishen Lakhiani, Founder of “Mind Valley” and author of The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, coined the word “brules,” meaning “the bullshit rules that you adopt to simplify our understanding of the world.” Lakhiani explains that we make choices based on our culture, tribe, family, and educational system, etc., and we base our ideas about life on what these institutions taught us.
From before you can even remember, you have been making thousands of decisions and choices, many of which you were not aware of making, but rather following, or doing out of habit, or by not thinking, or choosing by lack of specific desire. Every one of your decisions—both those you were aware of making, and those you were not aware of making—come into play every day of your existence. From birth, you are indoctrinated with this process of making decisions and choices, based primarily on someone else’s direction, opinion, desire, belief, need, or pressure.
Most mammals emerge from the womb like glazed earthenware emerging from a kiln—
any attempt at remolding will only scratch or break them.
Humans emerge from the womb like molten glass from a furnace.
They can be spun, stretched, and shaped with a surprising degree of freedom.
—Yuval Harari, Author, Sapiens
Through education, politics, religion, culture, and other institutions, from childhood, we are molded into Christians or Buddhists, capitalists or socialists, revolutionaries or peace seekers—and so on. Without realizing it, we are products of our conditioning. What we perceive to be normal or true is a product of our history and upbringing, and these perceptions influence our decisions and actions every day.
Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.
— Wayne Dyer
I like to rephrase Mr. Dyer’s quote:
If you change the way you look at things, you will change the way you see.
An online survey asked, “What’s the first thing you notice about someone you see for the first time, when seeing them from a distance?” The overwhelming response was, “appearance.” When asked what the second thing is, the majority answered, “the way they carried themselves and if they seemed approachable, or not, from a personal safety standpoint.”
A man entered a subway with his two children and sat staring ahead in a daze, as if lost in deep thought. His two children were running everywhere, loud and unruly. After some time, an annoyed passenger approached the man and said, “Excuse me, could you please tend to your children? They are disturbing the other passengers.” The man looked up at him and said, “I’m sorry, they just lost their mother. Cancer. They don’t know how to deal with it.”
We see people from the viewpoint of our perceptions of them, which are based on everything we have been taught, without being aware that we are not seeing them in their complete, true beingness. Most times, that which we perceive is not the reality. Based on past experiences, the passenger thought the children were unruly and the man was a bad parent. Perceived reality is based on limited, incomplete, and/or false knowledge, beliefs, and data. In actuality, our perceptions of everyone and everything outside of us are all based on our reality—our learned beliefs, past experiences, and expectations from them—though we believe we are being objective and seeing factual reality. Our perceived reality is the frame through which we see and explain the world.
We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.
― Anaïs Nin
One of the biggest thoughts that block our growth, peace, and happiness is the reasoning that, “It’s always been this way, so we don’t need to change it.”
To the contrary, we do need to change. We need to ask ourselves: “Why? Why do I see things this way? Why do I react this way? Why do I act this way?” “Why do I say these things?”
Pause to Write.
Answer as honestly as you can.
Did you choose your profession based on your own perception of it? Was it because you thought it would provide stability, or esteem, or some quality that you believed would be necessary or valuable? Or, was your decision a result of discussions with one or more parents, counselors, experts, or friends, and their perceptions of it? Did you make the decision based on other’s perceptions, wishes, or offers? Or did you choose it purely from your own thoughts and desires?
Did you marry or enter a relationship with someone of the same religious affiliation? If so, did you choose that person? Or were you following the family’s tradition, desires, or direction? Or was your choice not influenced by religion at all?
Are you living in a location, dwelling, city, or state that you chose? Or, are you living in a location out of financial or other necessity? Or, are you living somewhere out of someone else’s desire, influence or requirement, or to be in proximity to a person, family, or group of people? Are you living in a location for the pure and simple reason that you liked it and desired to live there?
Have you attended a college, university, or educational institution? Whether yes, or no—is it because you chose to, or chose not to? Was the choice yours, or was it made under the request or influence of someone else, or to make someone happy?
Are you making decisions based on someone else’s opinion, request, need, or demand? Or, are you making decisions based on your own desires, knowledge, or preferences?
Three men were building a wall at a beautiful church. When asked what he was doing, the first replied, “I’m stacking these stones.” The second man answered, “I’m building a wall.” The third man declared, “I’m helping to create a magnificent place for people to find comfort and peace.” Three different men doing the same task have three different perceptions of what they were doing. Only one knew why.
Which one is most like you? Why?
Which one is like the “You” you are becoming? In what way?
When people see some things as beautiful, other things become ugly.
When people see more things as good, other things become bad.
— Tao de Chang
Chapter 2 Verse 12