I am going to make you thin/happy/attractive/rich/fulfilled/successful with my magical words and slightly condescending tone in this blog series. I will take your miserable life and compare it to my own incredible existence and point out all of the areas in which I have succeeded while giving vague hints at what you need to do to be a better person. I will use phrases like ‘just be yourself’ and ‘dare to dream’ and it will be your fault if you are not happy at the end of this series.
I may even deliver some pseudoscience and back it up with facts that have shaky foundations at best. I will go on Oprah and expound my intelligence while telling the world that everyone can do it. Everyone except you. I’m not sure you are up to the task of making changes in your life. You may actually be beyond the point of being helped.
Or then again, maybe you are taking it all too seriously. Maybe making improvements in your life is easier than you think. Maybe, you are not as stuck as you think you are. Maybe, just maybe you need to pull back from the idea of reaching for some abstract version of happiness, this incredible life that’s just waiting out there somewhere and start with something much more straightforward, simple and achievable. Rocket science. Just kidding. Astrophysics. I don’t even know what that is.
‘Follow your dreams’
– rich people
What are we going to cover in this series? Well we are going to fix you. Joke. There’s no fixing you. Joke again (get used to it). You do not need to fix anything. You need to look at your life a series of decisions and of experiences. Some are good, some are bad and some you are neutral about. And I guess that is the essence of this whole series. I want to help you to discover the things that matter to you, help you do those more and help you to do the things that matter less to you, well…less. In order to do that we need to look backwards a little bit before we look forwards. That means that we need to know where you came from, how you make the decisions you make and why you are interested in some things but not others. Don’t worry there is no brainwashing going on. That happens in chapter 4.
We start by investigating where you came from. Not literally you understand. We all know the stork left you under the cabbage patch in the back garden. Think about a new born baby. They don’t know anything. Seriously, they are incapable of lifting their own head for about a year. One thing they can do and do incredibly well is fill a nappy with inhumanly noxious chemicals. That! Is amazing. The rest of what they do for the first while is not all that impressive. At some point (it seems like it is overnight) they go from not being able to control their hands to telling you you are putting their shoes on the wrong feet when you clearly are not. And then a while after that again they tell you from the back of the car when the traffic light goes green (in case you missed it) and it gets worse from there.
Eventually at some point in the future you end up with a not so little person who has their own thoughts, opinions and outlooks on life and how it should be. And this gets interesting. The reason this is interesting is because, well, where did they come from? All of these opinions? I sure as shit did not tell her that she likes purple shirts or that peppa pig is the greatest, funniest thing since Paw Patrol.
So she must be getting it from somewhere. It all comes down to the critical faculty. What’s that Kevin I hear you ask. Well stop interrupting and I’ll tell you. Think about any kid you know who is less than say 5 years old. The chances are you can tell that kid you will time them to get your phone charger from upstairs. And they will go zooming off, bouncing against walls and tripping over toys to beat their best time. Ask an 8 year old to nip upstairs to get your charger and you will be met with the slouching of the shoulders and an eye roll so hard that they almost fall over.
So what happens in the intervening years? The critical faculty happens. Between the ages of 0 and about 5 years old, children are like an open book. They take their lead from whoever they are spending the most time with. That’s why a young little girl who is almost 3 will tell you that she wants a Star Wars birthday cake for her 3rd birthday purely because her 2 older cousins told her that’s what she wants.
She is more than happy to go along with it. But if you ask her on her 8th birthday she will have a much stronger sense of self and will not be as easily swayed by Kylo Ren loving cousins. And this change will be down to the critical faculty. As a small child we have to take in a lot of information. Opinions and ideas become imprinted. Like a father who screams at his favourite team on the TV. This behaviour is mimicked by the child.
This is an obvious example that we have all witnessed. It is the behaviours we do not see that are actually the most important. The ones that the child files away until a much later date – how to speak to a waiter in a restaurant, how to take criticism, how to have an argument. All of these types of things and more are learned through observation of the guardians.
So back to you, what makes you who you are? Well the first point is to look at your very early childhood. The behaviours you saw are like the behaviours you emit now. It stands to reason that you did not lick them from a stone. You observed and replicated them. To get a little bit more specific. Let’s say your father stuck at a job he hated so that he could provide for his family. What are the ramifications on you growing up seeing that day in day out? Let’s consider the options:
- You are now doing the exact same thing for yourself and your family. This is a scarcity mentality. The idea that there is only one job that I can do so I better hold onto it just in case. This is a crazy way to live your life.
- You reacted in the exact opposite way, you saw that sacrifice and somewhere along the way decided you would never do that. This could be having it’s own consequences on you now.
- You don’t feel that it impacted you at all. And this could be true or it could have given you an outlook in a different part of your life. It is conceivable that you now have a short fuse with people in authority for example.
Or not. Who knows?!? You do, that’s who. You look back on your own life and decide for yourself which bits mattered and which bits had no impact. The fact is, it doesn’t really matter if you are right or wrong about it.