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The philosophy of one century is the common sense of the next.
-- Henry Ward Beecher


The MONTHLY Motivator - July 2016


Choose your response

Many forces influence your life. Your genetics. Your upbringing. The things going on around you. As powerful as those influences may be, they do not determine who you are or what you do. Ultimately, that is your own choice. Along with that choice comes responsibility. Because you are able to choose the way you are and the things you do, you cannot blame your undesirable outcomes on outside factors. Neither can you expect those outside factors to come to your rescue, to provide you with the life you desire. However powerful the external influences may be, you can choose your life and it is your responsibility to do so.

Thanks to communication technology, we are connected to each other and informed about each other almost to a point of being overwhelmed. Life has always been filled with tragedy and injustice. Yet in years past almost all those tragedies and injustices were experienced only by the people directly affected. Now, if something terrible happens anywhere in the world, hundreds of millions of people know about it, in detail, within minutes. In many ways, this is a good thing, shining a bright light on those who commit evil and solidifying public opinion against them. Yet from your personal perspective, it can seem that the world is falling apart. Being exposed to so much bad news can drain your energy and sap your will. But it doesn’t have to. You can care deeply about everything that happens, without letting any of it have a negative influence on you.

You can choose your response, and it can always be a positive, empowering one, consistent with your most treasured values. You have a choice. It is your responsibility to make that choice. It is in your best interest to make that choice in accordance with your highest values, no matter what the situation may be.

How do you feel when someone is ungrateful to you, or berates you, or criticizes you? How do you feel when you are in an office full of people who constantly complain about their jobs? How do you feel when you pay your hard-earned money for a product and that product doesn’t perform as promised? How do you feel when you rearrange your whole day to meet with someone and the other person doesn’t bother to show up? In any of these cases, does it do you any good to feel angry, resentful, victimized or dejected? Does it do you any good to let the other person’s negative or disrespectful behavior dictate your own attitude?

Responsibility is not something you can just walk away from. The fact is, you are always responsible for your life. It doesn’t matter where you came from, who your ancestors were or how your parents raised you, or how your boss treats you. Whatever the situation, whatever the history, whatever the conditions, you are able to respond. That is literally the definition of responsible. You can choose to exercise that responsibility in ways that lift up your life and the lives of those around you, or you can choose otherwise. Yet no matter whether you choose to be tossed around by outside influences or to hold steady to your own values and purposes, the choice is always, ultimately, yours.

You can become dejected and immobilized by the latest tragedy, or you can become inspired and energized to make a positive contribution to life. You can become resentful because someone offended you, or you can respond by offering genuine kindness to others. Do you want to be controlled by people, or would you prefer to be an inspiration to people? It’s all in the way you respond.

But how do you do that? How do you find the strength to respond in a life-affirming way, when it seems easier and more natural to just react mindlessly to whatever comes along?

A powerful strategy is to rise above your ego. Your ego deceives you. It tells you that you’re perfect and that all your troubles are the fault of someone else. That’s the exact opposite of taking responsibility. Ego imbues you with a sense of entitlement. Again, that’s in direct opposition to responsibility.

As destructive as ego can be, it also has a great vulnerability. Ego’s vulnerability exists in the fact that its deceptions are easy to see, when you choose to look for them. And once you recognize a deception, it no longer has the power to control you. There are two words you can use to rise above your ego. Those words are:

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--Ralph Marston

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