“I don’t see how I can just make up my mind to be happy and successful; and suddenly, magically, I will be. That seems to me to be a denial of my reality. My life is a mess. I am not happy. My life is not a success.” she wrote.
She was replying to my email response to her first inquiry. She had written to ask how I could write (in a previous article in this eZine) that if you wanted to be happy, you just had to choose to be happy. I had replied, in my first email, that how we felt about ourselves and our life was entirely within our control; and once we had decided to change how we felt, thought and believed, the circumstances and conditions of our lives would change to meet our new expectations.
This conundrum is surely the ‘catch-22’ of self-improvement. You must both accept the reality of where you are at and, at the same time, deny its ultimate veracity in order to create a new, bigger and better, reality.
Now, I am not saying you should go into denial about the facts of your life. That’s a huge mistake. Many people attempt to live with their shortcomings, failures and addictions by being in denial and it does not work. Nothing gets any better that way. Often it gets even worse.
Many people also attempt to change their life by muttering some affirmation like “I am happy, healthy, wealthy and wise.” in a blind attempt to convince themselves that they are not unhappy, unhealthy, impoverished and foolish. This does not work too well either.
I am not suggesting that affirmations are not useful. They can be a very powerful tool and, used properly, they can be a big help in changing your predominant thought patterns, your core beliefs and your basic emotional outlook on life.
However, it is necessary, if we wish to improve our lot in life, to first face and accept that we have certain core beliefs, predominant thought patterns and basic emotions attitudes. Then, we also must accept that it is these very beliefs, thoughts and emotions that have created the reality that we now have in our lives.
Then, we must decide to adopt new, improved, intentional ways of believing, thinking and feeling in order to create the new reality we have idealized and desired for ourselves. This is not denial. It is the acceptance of our co-creative abilities; and, the acceptance our freedom to choose what and how to think, believe and feel. It is the taking on of the responsibility for one’s life, as it is, and as it could be.
It is the facing and accepting of the truth that we cannot blame the conditions and circumstances of our present life for how we feel, how and what we think, what we believe. It is the facing and accepting of the truth that how we have been feeling, how and what we have been thinking, what we have been believing has actually contributed to the conditions and circumstances of our lives.
What we have is a result of what we have done. What we have done is a result of how we have been. How we have been is a result of how we have felt, thought and believed about ourselves and about life as a whole.
If you want to change or improve what you have in life (the conditions, circumstances–the effects), you must address the cause. You have the power to consciously and intentionally choose your feelings, your thoughts and your beliefs. These are the cause of your happiness and success because they control how you act or react, what you do or don’t do and it is what you enact, moment-by-moment, that produces the results you get to have day-to-day.
Yes, it is tough work. However, it is not as tough as living an unhappy and unsuccessful life. Why continue to do so just because you are habituated to doing so?
So, it is not about denying the reality of how life has been until now; it is about seeing and accepting that there is a greater reality in how you choose life will be from now on. Focus your vision on the ideal. Affirm its reality. Feel its reality. Believe in its reality. Act accordingly. Don’t be surprised when it turns out to be just the way you imagined it to be.