If someone were to hand you a magic wand, and tell you that it had the power to instantly transform your world, you’d use it, right? You’d have to be crazy not to. Well, you do have a magic wand, but it’s shaped more like a cantaloupe than a sparkly long stick. It’s your brain.
Since our interpretation of all experiences in life emerges from the brain, any change in our brain, in turn, changes our reality. Reality, at the most basic level (see blog: My Reality Is Not Your Reality), is merely your brain’s interpretation of some electrical impulses. When giving meaning to these signals, our brains add memories, beliefs and attitudes about ourselves, others, and the world influenced by family, religion, school, culture and life experiences. Every spoken word we hear, every written word we read, every experience we have, absolutely everything, is always, always the product of our brain’s subjective interpretation of stimuli.
By changing your thinking, you can change your world. It’s that simple. Simple, but not easy. Through neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to change its’ physical form and function in response to actions, perceptions and even thinking and imagining, whatever you do repeatedly becomes etched into your brain. Any situation, person, or thing can be seen from multiple perspectives. With conscious awareness, (See blog: The Meaning Of Mindfulness) you can choose your thoughts, attitude, and response to the world around you,and, with consistent practice, this pattern becomes physically wired into your brain. Ta da! (See blog: Responding Rather Than Reacting)
Take, for instance, someone in your life who is a royal pain in the ass. I’m sure you can think of one – maybe even a couple. Yes, there’s no disputing that this person may provide plenty of situations inviting grief and aggravation into your life. However, it’s your choice to see them only from that point of view or to back up, broaden the view, and look at them more objectively. Acknowledge your attached emotions, judgements, and opinions and how they may be coloring your thoughts. Then, try on a new perspective even a conflicting one consider what may be behind their behavior. This person, while still being a pain, can also be seen as a teacher. Yep. You read that right. Consider how they may be pushing you to grow and step outside of your comfort zone.
I am used to living by myself. Recently, I not only had my two sons living with me, but also another 19-year-old male. Boy, I thought I was this serene, centered, enlightened being, until then. I found myself getting agitated at insignificant, petty details. I found that I’m really sensitive to the sweaty boy smell in a not so good way. Instead of pointing the finger at them, I had to look at my own reaction, what it might activate in me and what this experience had to teach me. Patience. Tolerance. Compassion.
On a much bigger scale, while I’ve been divorced for around 6 years, my ex-husband finds far too many reasons to continue the conflict. And I thought divorce was supposed to put an end to all the bickering. It just makes it much more expensive because, now, we have to fight through lawyers and can’t just scream directly at each other’s face.
While it has taken me a long time to realize this positive contribution to my life, I can see that he has been and continues to be one of my greatest teachers by pushing me and providing me with countless growth opportunities. Seriously. I have grown tremendously in strength, courage, and self-confidence with each damn challenge. One day soon, I’m gonna graduate, hopefully!
Pema Chodron, an American Buddhist nun philosopher, gives the unique advice of going directly into the situations from which you want to instinctively run in her book , The Places That Scare You, because herein lies the opportunity for personal growth.
According to Chodron, we always have a choice. We can let the people and circumstances of our lives harden us and make us increasingly angry and afraid, or we can let them soften us to become more compassionate. This wisdom (or magic wand) is always available to us although we tend to block it with habitual reactions and living unconsciously.
So, pick up your magic wand, wave it in the air and get busy. This doesn’t mean that *POOF* you can make everything just as you want it. It means that *POOF* you can cultivate peace, joy, and acceptance because you can’t control what happens, but you can control how you think about and respond to it. Magic!