Your Perception is Your Reality
The Pursuit of Happiness
Reading books about successful people, one thing becomes clear from their shared experiences. Most of these people believe that happiness is not about not what happens to us but how we react to it that's important.The successful few have discovered a key principle: Our actions and reactions define who we are.
Consider the daily commute when traveling to and from work every day. Some drivers view this time as a battle against the other cars on the road. Many let this commute turn into frustration, anger, and sometimes even violence. This kind of thinking leads to higher blood pressure and mostly affects us more than anyone else.
Our perception seems to change as we grow older. After we become the person behind the wheel of that slow-moving vehicle, or the grandma driving with the turn indicator blinking for miles, we begin to see things in a new light.
Moving to the Slower Lane
When we moved from the city out to the country over twenty-seven years ago, we were amazed at the way things started to slow down around us. People seemed to take the time to look around at their surroundings. It was as if everyone had taken life down a notch or two.
Driving on the narrow roads peppered with potholes and curves, we often received a friendly four-fingered wave as our cars met on the narrow streets. Drivers, keeping a thumb on the steering wheel, would lift their remaining fingers in a friendly greeting. Soon, we became accustomed to the slower pace of our new neighbors that often pulled over to the shoulder to allow faster vehicles to go around them.
It was a total change of pace from when we lived in the city of Dallas.
If all you can think about is the bumper of the car ahead of you, that's probably where you'll end up.— Doug Cox
I heard something at a motivational seminar decades ago that stayed with me over the years. The speaker, whose name was Doug Cox, told his audience, "If all you can think about is the bumper of the car ahead of you, that's probably where you'll end up." During my long commute to work for over a dozen years, this sage remark played over in my mind.
My daily trip into the city grew from forty to ninety minutes as the traffic got worse over the span of a dozen years. It occurred to me that I was spending ten hours a week being annoyed at other drivers. What a waste of my waking hours that was until I discovered a way to reduce this needless stress.
The fact dawned on me that day after day the same people are driving along in a trance like zombies on their cell phones, texting and generally, not paying attention when the light turns green. These people were destined to arrive at their jobs angry and wired up from the commute. But this didn't have to be my fate once I realized I could choose to see things from a different perspective.
Soaring to New Heights
"Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."— Abraham Lincoln
Yogi Berra summed things up when he said, "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going because you might not get there."
How do we find happiness? How does a person tune out the inevitable frustration, the daily disappointments, the distractions and decide to choose happiness?
To begin, Zig Ziglar says to perform a checkup from the neck up. Examine our attitude and state of mind. He recommends turning off the radio and listening to an uplifting piece of music; the kind of song that makes you sing along and feel happy.
Another way to reduce frustration is to use the time effectively. Turn the commute into a learning experience by listening to recorded motivational messages during your drive to work. Or direct that energy towards learning a new language as you spend your morning on the road. Make valuable use of the time spent in traffic.
There are a variety of ways to increase your overall happiness through your own creative choices. By putting the commute in the background it allows time to focus on more productive things.
3 Minutes of Good Advice
"Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Don't wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it's at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored."— Earl Nightingale
Getting More From the Day
"Your mind is the most powerful tool in the universe."2
Many people hold on to the draining power of non-belief rather than opening their minds to the possibilities. From the minds of the most successful come simple observations:
Earl Nightingale says, "We become what we think about."3
If we begin to see ourselves as happy and productive then we'll start to become happier and more productive. In a powerful video called, Discovering Your Human Potential, Dr. Bernie Siegel says it like this, "If you wish to be more lovable, you must become more lovable."4
What does that mean? How does a person become more lovable? He tells us that by becoming more loving we will find the answer. Have you ever smiled at someone who was frowning? Most often, they return your smile. People generally respond in kind to how they're treated.
The way I see things now is different than it once was. My perception has changed. Though I still struggle with moments of unjustified anger and frustration, I'm a happier person than I used to be. It's an active choice.
Dawn in Texas
Getting From the Day
When we run across someone who is having a bad day and they're taking it out on us, it can help to consider their perspective. If we ask ourselves what might be troubling this person today, we put ourselves into their situation. Seeing others in a different light can open doors to understanding and acceptance.
Each morning when we wake up we're faced with an important decision. Will we choose to be happy with whatever life gives us that day or will we choose to be unhappy ? It is a conscious choice whether we benefit from the day or just "get through the day." 5
At the end of the night when we're trying to drift off to sleep, a review can be quite useful. That time of reflection is often a source of insomnia. We begin to think about the people we came into contact with during the day, our interactions with coworkers, the way we handled ourselves in traffic or at the grocery store, the words we chose to use with our children. We must ask ourselves two questions. Do we have regrets or are we pleased with the way we handled each situation?
Jim Rohn wrote that the answer to those questions could steer us in a new direction when the morning arrives and we begin a brand new day.
Carefree Highway - Gordon Lightfoot
- Doug Cox, The Challenges of Success
- Ed Foreman, How to Have a Good Day Everyday
- Mark Victor Hansen, Dare to Win
- Earl Nightingale, The Strangest Secret
- Bernie Siegel, M.D., Discovering Your Human Potential
- Jim Rohn, How to Have Your Best Year Ever
© 2009 Peg Cole