We often hear that life is not real, that it’s an illusion, that it’s in our head. In part this is true, but there’s a lot more to it than that.
By looking at this diagram you can see where it all starts – In our head. But this doesn’t mean that we are in a dream state sharing a fantasy reality with rainbows and unicorns. What it does illustrate however, is that how we choose to interpret reality is the reality we are going to experience.
The above diagram is actually upside down because our core beliefs are at the base of everything. From there we go through the processes that will dictate how we experience life. You see, once we have observed any given event, we will perceive that event according to what our beliefs tell us. Based, then, on our perceptions, we will infer whatever reality we want to, be it right or wrong. Sometimes we will underplay an experience and other times we will over exaggerate the experience, this will be dictated by how we choose to infer the experience.
Upon inferring what we do from our daily experiences we form our attitudes about events. Our attitudes are not only influenced by our inferences, which are influenced by our perceptions, which are influenced by our beliefs, they are also directly influenced by our core beliefs. It is through our attitudes that we interact with the world, so if our attitudes are undesirable, then so are our experiences. I’m sure you know at least one person with an undesirable attitude. If you think about it, those that have bad attitudes tend to have bad experiences. The problem is that they think that the universe, or God, or people, have it in for them, but they couldn’t be further from the truth. Like Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean says, “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem”.
Our attitudes, be they good or bad, will dictate our behavior, and people will react to our behavior. This will give us a feeling of what our life experiences are. Most often however, people don’t see this process. In fact, most people are not even aware of this process, so they walk through life wondering why life is so tough on them. But if they were to video record any of their bad experiences and then watch them objectively, they would see this process of thoughts trickling down to our life experiences. If they are honest with themselves.
The truth is that life isn’t necessarily terrible all the time. Sure, there are times that we feel like life is really giving us a pounding, but that’s not the case for decades and decades of our lives. Usually the bad times are temporary. Conflicts with others are temporary, we don’t go around fighting with people every day, though some people do. But the reality is that life offers us the flowers and the steaming piles of manure all the time. It is up to us to choose on which we will focus, either the flowers or the manure, every time. This will be dictated by the nature of our thoughts, the thoughts we choose to entertain.
One thing most people don’t realize is that our thoughts have incredible power. They can create or destroy, love or hate, make us happy, angry, miserable, depressed, or any other emotion you’d care to mention. Again, what dictates what emotions we feel, what experiences we have, how we perceive life and how we infer our experiences, and therefore what attitudes we have are our thoughts, which are completely driven by our belief systems.
Are you getting the idea that maybe some people have terrible belief systems and others have great belief systems? If you are, then you’d be right. There are people that have successful careers, friendships, marriages and finances. If you can think of just one of those people, then try to remember what kind of attitude that person has. Try to remember how they react to problems and to problematic people. Their behavior will tell you what kind of programs are running in their minds. Now think of someone that is completely the opposite of the successful person and think about their attitudes. Remember how they react to problems and to problematic people. Their behavior will tell you what kind of programs are running in their minds too.
Look at the image at the top of this page again and think about this. If you have a turbulent life, then maybe there are programs running in your mind that keep driving you off the cliff. They say that life is an illusion because it’s not real. Life is a series of events being interpreted in your mind by programs implanted in you by parents, relatives, teachers, friends, peers, the media, government, religion etc.
Those among us that suddenly appear to be calm all the time are those that have had an awakening. When you experience this awakening it’s like time stands still, kind of like when you heard that Michael Jackson had died. Most people remember the day with absolute clarity. Things were very different after that day. The same can be said about having an awakening. Your thinking is easier and has more clarity. Of course you question your every thought and view because they are different to what you have always known to be true (your programming). But when you start thinking for yourself, you see life from a different perspective, nothing makes sense anymore but at the same time everything makes sense.
You’re probably thinking that yours truly is on drugs, or is some long haired hippy trekking through the Himalayas, but I’m not, I’ve had this awakening so I think I can speak with some authority on the matter. Stop and think about everything. Pay attention to your thoughts and your attitudes. Notice how you infer events in your life and then what attitudes you form, and then ask yourself why, or ask yourself how you arrived at a particular conclusion. You might be surprised at what you discover when you go into yourself looking for answers. You might discover, as I have, as millions before me have discovered that life doesn’t happen to us, it is an organic event and we absolutely influence it and other people.
In my book Taming Life – Happiness Is Not a Myth, I talk about belief systems in depth because it is of the utmost importance to understand these things in order to grow. Our belief systems were implanted in us for very specific reasons. For example, our parents taught us certain things because they wanted to protect us or to scare us into submission. Other things because they thought it was the right thing to teach us. Then, once we grew up we noticed that what our parents told us didn’t match how they lived their own lives sometimes. The same can be said about our teachers, the government, DEFINITELY politicians and religious leaders, telling us one story and living another themselves.
If you are having a hard time understanding belief systems and just how important they are, let me illustrate them like this; you bought a second hand iPhone, or one was given to you by a friend or relative. You clean the phone out and reset it to its factory settings. You try to put some apps in it but the more important apps won’t download because the phone’s IOS (operating system, or basic running program) is out of date and is incompatible with current programs and practices. Sometimes you try to update the IOS but you can’t because the phone is incompatible with the latest IOS and won’t let you update.
The very same thing can be said about your own IOS, or belief systems. Sometimes you cannot move forward, or grow, because your programming is antiquated. You look around and find that (it seems), only YOU are standing there, feeling naked, lost and confused. But don’t think that, most people are the same, only they don’t know it. Stop. Think. Question everything. Observe yourself and observe others. Don’t criticize them or yourself, just observe. You might find that you live in a reality that is distinctly different to the one you imaged you live in.
Tony Jarrah is an Australian author of a #1 best selling book – Taming Life – Happiness Is Not a Myth, which you can purchase from Amazon.
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