“People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.”
An Emerson quote I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.
To paraphrase: how we see the world is based on how we see ourselves.
Few things influence our quality of life more than our beliefs about ourselves and other people.
Say one person believes they’re generally well-liked because “People help me, talk to me, and are nice to me.” A second person believes they’re generally disliked because “People help me…reluctantly, talk to me…only to be polite, and are nice to me…but gossip behind my back.”
Who do you think is more popular? Who experiences more joy in life?
If we constantly see others as trying to hurt or cheat us, maybe we unconsciously see ourselves as being someone who deserves to be hurt or cheated – someone unworthy of being loved and respected.
What’s fascinating (or frightening, depending on your outlook) is that our beliefs about ourselves and other people become our reality.
After all, if we think no one likes us, are we going to be open and friendly with other people? If we believe others are deceitful, self-interested, and despicable, are we going to try to engage with them, connect with them, or trust them?
It’s far more likely that we’ll withdraw and become resentful and cynical, blaming other people for our misery and perpetuating our negative reality.
Our opinion about other peoples’ natures could be a reflection of our own nature, as we tend to assume that others think, behave, and interpret the world as we do.
The same goes for our beliefs about life. Is it a game or a struggle? A gift or a curse? A mess or a work of art?
Someone who sees life as a game is probably going to take more risks, discover more opportunities, and experience more joy than someone who sees life as a toilsome struggle.
They’re also more likely to take failure less seriously, and therefore to experiment more frequently and maybe even achieve greater success.
Think about your beliefs about life, people, and yourself. What about them could you refine to increase the joy in your life and decrease the stress?
Maybe you go from thinking “Life is scary” to thinking “Life is an adventure.” Or maybe from “I need to please others” to “I need to be authentic and please myself.”
The point of changing our beliefs is not to be right or wrong or to deny that negativity exists and be all Pollyanna. The point is to learn to use all of our experiences, both good and bad, to somehow improve ourselves and our quality of life.
After all, our life is all we have…why not make the most of it?
In closing, think about your beliefs about following this blog. If you went from thinking “This is good stuff” to thinking “I wish I had an IV form of this blog linked directly into my forearm,” how would your life improve?