Sometimes I wonder about who that mysterious group of people are. Where do they live? Where do they shop? What is a typical day in the life of “most people”?
Usually these questions can be answered by someone trying to prove a point. Often times the habits of this group are easily defined by those who are using them as an example. If we listen closely to a conversation or lecture, the definition of “most people” can is most often used to support the position of those we are hearing speak. It may be a definition of status quo or it might be, simply, a broad brush used to paint a picture of others that is needed to prove a point.
Who are we in relation to most people? We use this general definition to judge ourselves with thoughts like “most people are happier than me”, “most people have better or worse cars”, or “most people are not virtuous like me”. We define our roles at work, our purpose in life, our businesses, and our coming days, all based on what “most people” think or do.
There is a movement in business, and even in religion, that uses personality profiles to determine what others need in the way of instruction, affirmation, or environment. Market research is used to determine what consumers will buy based on other behaviors. Facebook uses all those permissions we blindly agree to in order to target advertising to its users. We might think these are harmless enough, and in some ways they are, but none of these are geared toward helping us. They are by design, used to help those that do the profiling.
I miss the days in a shopping mall when market researchers bothered me at the top of an escalator to ask questions about my preferences. I wonder how Family Feud and Steve Harvey get the answers for their “one hundred people were surveyed” questions. I often wonder how people allow themselves to determine what “most people” are like when they finally decide that this or that group is generally a certain way. We rob ourselves and others of a fresh experience when we decide in advance that a person who exhibits a behavior, is by our definition, a certain type of person.
While it may be true that people are creatures of habit, the habits they have tend to be unconscious. While it is true that most people are products of their thoughts, their thoughts tend to be based on perceptions rather than facts. We are most often the result of a reaction to things and not a creator of events. We do not even know ourselves.
If we do not take the time to know ourselves, how is it that we believe we can sum up the type of person another may be in a matter of seconds? How can we use a spreadsheet to assess the validity of another person’s reaction to things? It is all so general. It is all so convenient. It is based on our need to know things easily that cannot be easily known. It is little more than a fortune cookie prophecy or a dissertation on the meaning of life found in a box of Cracker Jacks.
The difference is found when we ask. Ask again. And then again. If we think we have the right to know how a person thinks, acts, or what has gone on in their lives, we must ask. We must ask, and even more, listen to the answers. Nations have been built and destroyed with the propagation of the thought that “we” are better than “them”. Movements and religions have been founded on the notion that “we” are not like “they”. And these are notions and whims. I say this boldly knowing that if we were the ones starving a world away, or looking for a better life, or in need of someone, anyone, to hear our story, we would be baffled by others who behave the way, that even I do, each day.
Be a beginner. Be informed by something other than mainstream or social media. Create a sense of purpose at the start of each day and let that day be conformed to that purpose instead of experiencing the day and then defining a purpose for what has happened in that day. Take every opportunity to create a smile on the face of those you meet and count each of those opportunities as blessing.
Give up on the idea that we, collectively or individually can “fix” the world. Know with all that we are, that we can change the world. Give up on the idea with even more abandon that we need to “fix” ourselves. Afford as much grace to yourself as you would to another. Find a way, any way, to be happy, before you do a thing. It helps the prospect of accomplishing any of the above. Do these things with a genuine love. If you cannot do a thing with a genuine love, either learn to love genuinely or find another task.
Changing the Game
We believe, especially in the West, that success is measured in the accumulation of things. Life is measured in other ways. We believe even, that success is measured by the amount of lives that we affect. Do not keep a tally. We believe that there is a point to what we are going through. There may be no point at all. We believe the past defines us. The past is only our inaccurate recollection of events that might as well have happened light years ago and that has so little bearing on the present moment.
God, the Universe, Source, or whatever you choose to name the unknowable, wants what is good for you. That unknowable force has already offered you everything you need, and even everything you want (we need so little). It is not that we are good or bad. It is not that we are worthy or unworthy. It is that we are in the stream of the Creator’s creation.
Two frogs on two lily pads do not fight over the beams of sunlight that fall on a pond and the sun did not send its light to each frog individually. The frog made a decision to sit in the warmth of the sun for a while. There may be yet another frog in the water. If that frog enjoys sunlight, it is for that frog to find a lily pad.
If that frog enjoys the water, then that frog will be happy as well. Taking this analogy further, it is not for me to determine what each frog needs or wants. It is not for me to define the goodness of the sun or the water. What I know is that there are both. What I need to decide more than anything is simply this, do I want water or sun? The Creator has provided both.
What is important for me is not to sit in the sun and complain that I am not in the water, or swim in the water and complain that I am not sitting in the sun. The game will change when I begin to look forward to the sun or the water and not simply complain that I am not in one or the other. The game will change when I quit trying, from the lily pad, to convince other frogs that the water is bad, or from the water, try to convince other frogs that the sun is not a good thing.
Be thankful in all things? Yes. Love everything about the past? Only as it has allowed us to be in this present moment. See goodness in everything? Yes, no matter what. If we allow ourselves to be happy for one thing, we have little time or resources to be sad about another. If we have a headache, we can be thankful for how great our back feels. If we have debt that we may not be able to manage, we can be thankful for the necessities of life being provided. If we struggle to find the goodness in those that suffer, we can celebrate that within us that noticed the suffering in the first place. What we focus on in the present is what we see in the future.
Know that you are good. Know there is no definition of “perfect” that is not relative to something else… especially relative to “most people”. Know that our striving to be something different is only a decoy for our minds, much in the way that cleaning our room used to be a convenient way to allow ourselves not to get started on our homework. The work on self improvement is complete. The work on changing the world is just beginning. We are creators of coincidence, not reactors to coincidence. We do this creating with the help of, and the permission from, the Source that wants only good things for the world.