Isn’t it amazing that we’ve made it to yet another new year? At the start of each year, it’s like we have been programmed to make those new year’s resolutions which of course fade as the year rolls on and end up being just the thing we did because everyone else was doing it. This happens so since as the year progresses, we come to the realization that we are still our old selves and we still doing things like we’ve been doing them.
As for me, my year always commences on my birthday, which is only a few days away by the way, but I’ll make my resolution anyway. For a change, you know. Last year, I drowned myself in schools of thought, trying to crack the meaning of life. Tweny Tweny was a quiet year with lots of time at everybody’s disposal so I used mine to put my overthinking talents to good use but upto now, I still stand in awe before the powerful philosophy of life and its components. I learnt the futility of such an attempt since life has no meaning and only assumes the meaning we choose to give it. So this year I am shifting my primary focus to making an impact. We never know how much time we got left, right? It’s always good to leave your mark behind. In my journey as a son, brother, friend, wannabe writer, citizen, self proclaimed self-love ambassador, young leader, mental health awareness enthusiast and all the hats I wear, I am getting fully invested in touching somebody’s life, positively impacting the world around me, impacting you positively.
Also, I am long done with seeking significance and instant gratification so I do not think inner peace and self-realization is on my wishlist this 2k21. Like most 20 somethings I’m still trying to figure everything out, but I now know how hard it is to do it all on my own. I surround myself with people who make difficult times more bearable and great times, even more amazing. What is your new year’s goal? Here’s something to rejuvenate you even as you hit the ground running and head deeper into the decade.
You get to meet this girl Jessie from, Release The Role Playing from a while back once more. For a 27 year old, she is way to bothered with people’s opinions about her life. Important life decisions concerning her life, she has always felt like she needs to consult someone else. Her major life decisions end up being made by her parents and her feeling of being a pawn in a game of chess is a deep-seated one. Not to mention those that are dictated by her boyfriends. Instant decisions like which party to attend, dressing, who to settle down with; those must be approved by her friends. She has never really trusted her own decisions and lives under the notion that they may end up being wrong, they always will. She feels like she is hurting someone if she does not consider theirs. She is just a passenger in her own life.
You feel good about yourself to the degree to which you feel that you are in control of your own life.
The reverse of whatever I have quoted there is what you just read about Jessie; You feel negative about yourself to the degree to which you feel you are not in control of your own life or that you are controlled by other people or circumstances. That it is a clichè, yes, but obviously true that our thoughts are the primary creative forces in our lives. We create our entire world by the way we think. All the people and situations in our lives only assume the meaning we give them by the way we think about them.
Okay, so during the amazing free-time I had last year, I took a peep on psychological notes and learnt a whole load of things. The psychological arena has long recognized the feelings of control as a critical element in human personality and perfomance. They give it the term, Locus of Control, but since me and you are both laymen in this, let’s just call it ‘the place of control’. This refers to the extent to which people feel that they have control over the events that influence their lives. If you feel that you personally make the decisions that determine the direction of your life or you have control over what happens in your life, then psychologists say you have an internal locus of control. If you believe that your boss, your parents, your bills, your childhood experiences or any other external variables control you; forces you to do or not do what you really want or is to blame, then you are said to have an external locus of control. You often feel like a bystander, simply going with the flow. You live a life of blaming or complaining about people and circumstances.
The location of control in your mind is critical in determining how you respond to challenging events in your life, your personal level of health and well being, your motivation to take action and generally happiness and inner peace.
“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds”Bob Marley, Redemption Song.
People with an internal locus of control are people who actually feel like they are behind the wheels of their own lives. They have what you’ve spent all your life looking for; Freedom. Ever wondered why people seek happiness through the approach of money and still manage to find it? Though vanity. This is because money equals freedom, and freedom equals happiness. Let’s be honest, whenever you have money you tend to be more confident with choosing where to be at a particular time, who to be with, what to buy and so on. You tend to have bought yourself some peace of mind through that freedom. You have emancipated yourself.
But like I started by staying; it’s vanity. We call this momentary happiness; comes and goes. A law I came accross known as the Parkinson’s Law of money states that expenses always rise to meet income. This law says that people’s expenses rise in lockstep with their incomes. No matter how much they earn, they tend to spend all of it and a little more besides. They seem to need every single penny to maintain their current lifestyles. No matter how much they make, there never seems to be enough. Money, we can never have enough of it. So in this way, instead of liberating themselves, they end up locking themselves up in bigger unfathomable cells, characterised by greed, jealousy, getting defined by things and status – downright suffering.
The thing is that we are here to search for happiness our whole life then die. Sad, right? Told you it’s a pointless existence. What is happiness then? It’s funny that we spend our lives looking for happiness in the outside world. The actual meaning of true happiness has become like this complex thing for us to understand, yet such a simple concept.
True happiness is happiness inside you. True happiness is enjoying your own company and living in peace and harmony with your body, mind and soul. True happiness is state of mind constantly being in love with yourself.
To be trully happy in life you neither need other people nor materialistic things. You need to work on your locus of control. You need to be at peace with this moment, where you are, whatever you have been through and most importantly with who you are. That is my personal philosophy and I am happy.
To start cultivating on your own true happiness you will need to; be kind and humble with yourself first only then can you be this way with others; nurture your mind, body and soul; stay away from negative emotions of envy, fear, jealousy, anger; stay away from people with negativity; do small selfless things like giving compliments, being polite to strangers, giving your seat to others in public events ( you will feel good about yourself I promise); take time for yourself to read, write, watch movies or something when in your own company- overcome the fear of being alone and know thyself. Be true to yourself. Meditate.
No one, absolutely no one has their locus of control 100 percent internally. The truth is that, our locus of control shifts deeper into ourselves as we grow older and learn to appreciate ourselves and our decisions; ofcourse without becoming too full of ourselves or thinking we are better than other people who are still undergoing their own awakening process. Trully successful people want to see others succeed. It’s the same with genuinely happy people.
Okay buddy, the field of cognitive psychology is focussed on studying how you think and the relationship of your thinking to your health and happiness. Alot of years of research in this field has concluded that a sense of control is paramount for you to perform at your level best.
Here are two, just two… hacks on how you can shift yours from the external to internal even as you give your own life meaning and live your best life this decade:
1. Take control of your mind.
To start controlling your own life, you have to first learn to control your mind. Your ability to think the thoughts you want and to determine the goals and results you desire is the start of all happiness and high attainment. Surprisingly, you are always free to choose. No one forces you to think, feel or behave the way you do.
You get to choose your emotions and behaviours by the way that you choose to think about the world around you and about what is happening to you. Yes, you read that right. We choose the emotions we express since they are part of our thought process, an elongation of our thoughts. We are free to choose what to think about somebody or a situation then our bodies create something like a display version of that thought, which we now call an emotion. We all express our emotions differently but no matter what, they are created in our minds.
Dr. Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania calls this way of choosing your emotions and behaviours by how you choose to think about the world around you your Explanatory Style. The way you explain things to yourself. It dictates who you are and who you ultimately become. If you look at life/the world from a critical/negative point of view then that becomes who you are. You will always generate negative emotions like hate, envy, anger from within yourself and that is exactly the defination that the world will give you. People with negative emotions of let’s say, envy, will exhibit negative behaviours like gossiping, criticising negatively, being dramatic people and those are just bad vibes.
The baseline is that your explanatory style is learned which means it can be unlearned as well. Your way of explaining things to yourself is under your control. You can interpret your experiences to yourself in a way; you get bad news per se, you can choose to feel happy and optimistic rather than dissapointed/frustrated. You choose to tell yourself, ‘there’s always another chance’ or ‘there’s always something even better for me out there.’ In this way, you train your mind to naturally preserve your inner peace.
2. Recognise that change is inevitable.
We should always anticipate change in our lives in every dimension. It is unavoidable, unpredictable, inevitable. Live with an open mind. Most people are often scared of change. Whenever it happens in their lives, they lose the plot and end up self-criticising or giving up. In this way it robs them their inner peace. In such a scenario, goals will come in handy. They help you ensure change works in your favour. They keep you in control since they are from within yourself. They ensure that change is in the direction that you want to go.
A real life example; I personally wanted to be an attorney in future so I yearned to go to law school after high school. With this government placement service, you don’t always get what you want. I was given a different Science course, but a good course, to go study in a major university in my country. This was rapid change for me. My explanatory style comes in play. I have to focus on my goals; the goal is to be successful in life. Studying in a different field first won’t take away my intelligence or hinder me from eventually becoming what I want to be in life. If anything, it will infact give me one more tool for success and lots of life lessons/experiences and an opportunity to make new friends and amazing memories. So I chose to embrace change and point it in the direction I am headed, preserve my peace and soldier on. These at the expense of self-pity and complaining.
Goals will give you the stamina. They will give you control. They give you a greater sense of personal power and well-being. They put you in the driver’s seat of your situation and life.
So that’s it. Like I’ve always said, everything starts from our minds. We can either choose to control our thinking or let people and situations decide how we feel or who we decide to be.
Also remember that everything and everybody present in your life you have attracted to yourself because of the way that you think, because of the person you are. Good luck finding FREEDOM.
Happy New Year!