THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF LIFE
“By choosing your thoughts, and by selecting which emotional currents you will release and which you will reinforce, you determine the quality of your Light. You determine the effects that you will have upon others, and the nature of the experiences of your life.”
~ Gary Zukav – from “Seat Of The Soul” ~
How high are your highs? How low are your lows? We all have them, especially in these tumultuous, stomach-turning and scary times. But the truth is we don’t all necessarily react the same way to outside events.
What about you? Do you have more highs than lows in your life, or more lows than highs? When you are on a high, do you experience being creative, in tune with the universe and grateful, or do you feel invincible, entitled and become arrogant, believing you have all the answers? When you hit your lows, do you feel sorry for yourself, pull inwards, whine and complain, or do you learn from it, be of service to others, look for the good in the bad and use your insight to create a new vision of possibility?
Your answers to these questions are a good indicator of how you shape your future because, whether you like to admit it or not – the way you are experiencing the present – positively or negatively – good or bad – is the result of your past thinking and choices.
Flip that last thought around and you have the key to living an exceptional life. The way you are thinking – right now – and the choices you are making – right now – has a dramatic impact on the way you are experiencing the present and how you are shaping your future.
I want to be very clear about this concept. I’m not saying that what you have in your life – money or the lack of money, a job or a lack of a job, health or lack of health, relationships or lack of them – is necessarily the result of your past thinking. There are some things over which we have little or no control. The stock market falls, health issues arise, businesses downsize and we lose people we love. What I am specifically addressing is how you experience and respond to what life throws your way because – although you may not be able to control external events – you can always choose to control how you react to events – ALWAYS. You just need to learn to manage your mind.
Consider the following two stories:
As head of sales for a financial services company, Robert felt he was sitting on top of world. On the surface, he seemed to have it all: a luxurious home, an affluent lifestyle, two adorable children and a loving wife. But he felt he was entitled to his good fortune and let everyone know it. He was arrogant and a bully. He treated members of his team like drones, constantly finding fault, criticizing and micro-managing their every move. He blatantly displayed his wealth and bragged about his success. At home, he neglected to pay attention to his family in favor of his Blackberry. Robert was blind to the fact that he wasn’t building relationships and creating good will. He was, in fact, pushing away even those he loved the most.
Within a period of seventy-two hours, Robert’s world fell apart. The president of his company made the decision to downsize by thirty percent. Instead of letting Robert go, his boss offered him a lower position with a considerable pay cut, but the promise that when the economy recovered, he could have his old position back. Instead of being grateful, he went ballistic and quit on the spot. He complained. He blamed. He raged at the injustice of the universe. He became a self-created victim, lost in his own fear.
Joyce was the senior vice-president of a small but lucrative software company. She was admired and respected by everyone she knew for her decisiveness, fairness and compassion, as well as for her charitable work in the community. She, too, had a husband and children. Even though her work was overwhelmingly demanding, she took time to pay attention and show her love to her family. Most importantly, she was grateful for everything she had. She always chose to see the good in every situation. Then her universe shifted.
She was informed that, due to the economy and the falling demand for their products, one of the original founders of the company had decided to return and was going to take her position. They urged her to stay but, regretfully, she would be required to take a position with less status and less pay. Although she was disappointed, she was grateful for this new opportunity. She didn’t blame and she didn’t complain. What she did do was choose to see differently. She looked around and determined how, in her new position, she could make a contribution to their business. She created a new vision of what was possible and proceeded to make it real.
The stories of Robert and Joyce serve as a perfect metaphor for how we can all get out of our lows faster and stay in our highs longer. Here are a few strategies to help guide you:
- Do a reality check. Once you look at the truth of what you are capable of and the truth of any situation you find yourself in, you create a center of calm that wards off experiencing extreme emotional “highs” and “lows” that can cause negative stress.
- Look for the “good” that lies within all negative circumstances and learn lessons that you can apply to creating a positive future.
- Acknowledge all fear of rejection, failure, success, change and the unknown. Your willingness and courage to examine and challenge fear gives you the ability to break apart and make a negative vision of the future disappear.
- Create a positive, clear, realistic, detailed and sensible vision of the future you want to create, incorporating the use of all your five senses. Focus on your vision often and you will come to realize that you are making it happen.
- Be of service at work, in the community and give love to your friends and family. Being of service takes your attention off yourself and love cancels out fear.
- Be grateful for everything you have. Gratefulness pulls you towards a wonderful high.
Lows and highs are part of life. If you can’t change what’s happening in the world, you can always change how you experience what is happening by changing your thinking. If your attitude is one of possibility and you learn from the present, you will make better choices for shaping the future – and the future you will shape is one of living an exceptional life. As I once heard, “Thoughts are boomerangs, returning with precision to their source. Choose wisely which ones you throw.”
James Mapes is the founder of Quantum Leap Thinking™, creator of The Transformational Coach™, expert on the psychology of “applied imagination,” best-selling author, highly acclaimed business speaker, consultant, seminar leader and personal excellence coach.