How can people change?
I actively devote time coaching people toward success, which naturally includes the “how do I do it” part, and the doing part is pretty simple it’s the “who’s doing it” part that’s tough. Why? Cuz’ we’re all crazy!
But that’s actually good news, the thing that makes us crazy is the exact thing that gives us the power to make the lives we want to live (if we’re not in a war zone, we can feed and clothe ourselves, and we’re free of the threat of imminent death).
1. Assume you and everybody else are basically nuts
To put it succinctly, rid yourself of the notion that people think the same, behave the same, think rationally, are “normal” – these are straight up delusions and put you at a disadvantage. Think of all the trouble we get into, and time we waste when we assume we know things (as opposed to proving we know something). We know what people are thinking, we know how to get a job, we know how to lose weight, we know who’s against us, we know what we’re doing – and on and on. If you can break yourself of this (not in everything of course, we’re wired to think this way, but when you confront important issues to you) and instead force yourself to think “I probably don’t know what I need to know – but I can find out” you’ll be able to bring your full self to the problem.
Consider this; all of us experience subjective reality, how we see what we see and what meaning we give it is 100% unique to each of us (which is nutty – squirrels don’t have to deal with this). Combine that with our ever shifting interpretations of “reality” (if you’ve ever looked in a mirror one day and thought “I look fine” then the next day and thought “I look fat” or any other changed state that cannot take place over 24 hours you have proof of this problem) and you can see the wisdom of forcing yourself to “start fresh” with your thinking each time you tackle big (or just important) decisions.
So, once you’re ready to tackle a new challenge from the perspective of “I don’t know but I can find out” you’re ready to…
2. Decide the Meaning of Life (for yourself)
Note: You need to do this very consciously, on purpose, and in writing – if you change your mind later in life, just do it again). I spent plenty of time in my younger years waiting for the universe to reveal meaning to me. I was positive there was a “right way” to do things, and that the “meaning” of life would be given to me if I asked enough questions, or had the right experiences. After paying attention for a long enough time, it became pretty clear the idea of “meaning” was a construct of human imagination – and if that was true, well shoot, I could just decide what the meaning of life was (for me – that’s the point of the crazy section above, life is about decisions we make about ourselves for ourselves). Read some of “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl and see how even in the darkest moments a person can endure (in his case an Auschwitz concentration camp).
You don’t need special training or years to decide the meaning of life for yourself, you can do it today, right now. The meaning I’ve chosen for my life is “to be kind, and be excellent”. I feel that if these two qualities drive all of my actions, I’ll continuously evolve and will always feel challenged (which is important to me).
You’re either crazy enough to believe that you decide the meaning of your life, or crazy enough not to. The value of the first crazy is that you and only you will determine how happy and fulfilled you are – for the rest of your life.
3. Do what you gotta’ do!
Now that you’re freshly armed with the meaning of life, take action. Take action in a way that you can prove (to yourself) that you’re living the life you were “meant” to. And make serious note of “proof” (empirical measures – this is how we keep our crazy from taking over) , no matter what you say is your meaning for life, there’s a part of it you can prove and track over time. I had a conversation with a friend once that went something like this:
Me: “So what’s your meaning for life?”
Him: “To achieve ultimate enlightenment.”
Me: “Great. How will you know when you’ve become ultimately enlightened?”
Him: “Oh, I’ll just know it.”
This conversation went on, but you get the point, if you’re super ambiguous, you can be super ambitious because on the one hand there’s no way to prove you didn’t do it, or if you even tried. Imagine saying “I want to be the best parent to my children”, you’d have to drill down and maybe say “being the best parent means providing a stable emotional environment, providing a stable economic environment, encourage curiosity and creativity, being a stable and whole person so I can serve as an example, encourage love by giving love”. All of these statements can be defined further into actions that parent can take every day of every week. Learning from what works, and changing things that don’t. And always making decisions.
I heard once something along the lines of “Decisions equal life. The more decisions you make, the more alive you are. The fewer decisions you make the more dead.” That struck me as a true statement, and I’ve held to it ever since. The bottom line is, how we feel about life doesn’t happen at us, we happen at life. Fear, stress, anxiety are all (when not caused by a puma at your window) creations of our minds, just like their twins happiness, peace, contentment. That statement is testable. It’s provable. And if this is true, then no matter how challenging the process, we can choose to be happy, successful and generative.
How crazy is that?