3 THINGS YOU CAN TO TODAY THAT CAN CHANGE EVERYTHING.
When I was a kid I loved Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau. I’d watch those movies with my Dad and we’d be doubled over laughing, tears in our eyes as the bumbling Clouseau succeeded to the disgust and consternation of Chief Inspector Dreyfus. As great followers of rules, logic, and ‘doing the right thing,’ Dad and I could actually feel Dreyfus’s pain as he developed a nervous tic from the endless frustration of working with an ‘idiot’ like Clouseau. It’s a classic - the competent straight man utterly flummoxed by the continued success and easy happiness of the buffoon with whom he is unfairly associated. Whether it's Clouseau and Dreyfus, Spongebob and Squidward, or Mr. Bean and everyone - at every age, we can all relate and this stuff never gets old.
It wasn’t until recently that I started seeing these tales more as a primer for living than mere comedy. Remember Mr. Magoo? Everything he saw through his coke-bottle glasses was a distorted version of the world. Or was it? He acted upon what he believed to be true and the world unfolded around him accordingly. Like Clouseau, Spongebob, and Mr. Bean, while we were laughing at them, they were carrying on unfettered by our perceptions and judgements - and they triumphed.
The truth of the matter is we all create our own reality. Yet just like our favorite straight-men, we spend much our lives believing we are at the mercy of the external events that surround us. We fight against the tide rather than riding it to new destinations. The fact is, it is what you think that has the greatest impact on your success, fulfillment, and happiness. Don't get me wrong, what you do is important - but since everything you do stems from what you think, it's best to start there.
So how to make the shift? Here are three simple things to start practicing today:
1. NOTICE YOUR OWN THINKING
Your brain has two primary modes of thinking - let’s call them Train Track and Jet Pack.
Train Track Thinking is your default. Whether you are speaking to yourself or others, when you’re on the Train Track your thoughts are simply running down a line (or multiple lines) without your choosing them intentionally.
Jet Pack Thinking (or meta-cognition) is when you’re thinking about what you’re thinking. By stepping outside yourself and noticing your own thinking you are affording yourself the opportunity to make choices that are not available when you’re on the train. Looking down from the Jet Pack view you are able to ask yourself questions like:
- Is this getting me closer to or further from what I want?
- What do I want to have happen here?
- How do I want to show up?
2. TRY ON SOMEONE’S ELSES COKE-BOTTLE GLASSES
“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
I love this quote from Anais Nin - it really drives the ‘Magoo Principle’ home. Put 50 people in a room and show them the same thing and they will see 50 different things. We each see the world though our own unique pair of glasses and for each of us the view through those lenses is completely true.
When your in the Jet Pack however, you have the ability to imagine what some of those other perspectives might be. By this simple act, stepping outside of our own perspective and trying on new ones, we open a world of possibility and opportunity that we were unable to see before.
3. ASSUME POSITIVE INTENT
This is becoming increasingly difficult in a world where all the messages around us tell us to be suspicious and afraid.
Try it anyway. Believe me, most people aren’t out to get you. They are merely trying to protect themselves or to get what they need or what they want. In short, they’re thinking about themselves, not you.
Fear not. If someone does truly mean you harm - chances are you’re brain’s default protective mechanisms will kick in and you’ll ride your Train Track back to safety.
Going into a situation assuming that the other person’s intention is positive however, allows you to ‘show up’ without your armor - think Mr. Bean - and so the people you interact with are able to lay down their own defenses. You’ll be surprised how quickly this impacts the effectiveness of all you interactions.
Make these three simple things your habit and you’ll be surprised at how much of what previously seemed impossible begins to melt away.