In the course of this book, I've introduced you to a lot of new concepts, some you've accepted, and others you've had to think about before they really made sense to you. I'll continue to give you new concepts and ideas, some of which may challenge your old way of thinking. Now I am going to introduce something that you may not believe at first, but as you think about it carefully you'll realize how pervasively this works in your life. Are you ready?
Meaning does not exist as an objective reality. Meaning is a purely subjective phenomenon.
How you think about something is entirely up to you. You can put a positive or negative frame of mind onto whatever experience you have in life. Since always have a choice to either laugh or cry in life based upon your experience, do whatever you prefer. I prefer laughing so I find myself doing that often.
A friend of mine was sitting in a park and told me this story. As he was sitting on a bench in a park, two drunks came by, one after the other. The first drunk came stumbling by and it was easy to see he was drunk. As he stumbled on by in a drunken stupor, he tripped over his own feet and fell face first into the bushes next to the sidewalk. Dusting himself off, he quickly got up and glanced around to see if anyone was watching. Unfortunately for him, my friend was watching the entire episode. Noticing this, the drunk turned several shades of red before hurrying away as fast as he could.
Later on that same night, with my friend sitting at the same bench, another drunk came walking along the same path. At the same place in the sidewalk, the drunk tripped and fell flat on his back. His spontaneous reaction was to let loose with a full belly laugh. He laughed so hard he began crying. He acted as if the slip was the funniest experience ever and it seemed he could not stop himself from laughing. By the time the drunk's laughter had died down, my friend was staring at him. Nonchalantly, the drunk picks himself up, smiles and acknowledges my friend, and happily darts off into the night.
The meaning of an experience, event, or interaction can widely vary between two people because it's their choice of what they make of it. If someone offers you an insult, remember that it's only their opinion. By adopting that useful belief, you can move through the world more resourcefully. Contrast this to how some people take insults personally and waste their valuable time and energy being bothered by it. You are a meaning-maker and if you are giving something a less than useful meaning, stop yourself and give it a new meaning. Do this because you can.
In my own life, I had a business project that went sour. For a while, I spent my time being bitter and frustrated while being stuck in a victim mentality. Finally, I stopped that and started to ask myself questions like, " What can I learn from this? What does this event really mean? " When I asked myself these questions, I immediately shifted into a more useful mentality. What was a sore point became an opportunity for me to have the adversity mean that it's a challenge for me to rise above and conquer in order to achieve my outcome. As one thinks so it shall be. And that is exactly what happened. Had I latched onto that victim mentality and refused to let it go, I never would have completed my business project. Any time you choose, you can change your state and make a new meaning for anything.
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