Thanks to a Broken Present

Dec. 29 A.M. Thoughts

father-son-argumentOn Facebook,  two of my friends were arguing back and forth about Trump. One friend is in his late 50s. The other friend is a former student, and is now  18 or 20 years old. One is extreme right wing, repeating the right wing talking points and childhood indoctrination. The other, a more independent, liberal and well-read. But the thing that struck me most was that the older gentleman said he had been a conservative Christian for 50 years of his life.  Something, maybe Trump, made him re-evaluate. But why did he wait 50 years to change his beliefs. 

I about how I came to the place of where I am and what I believe. I’ll admit, I’m “out there”. Reading and listening to a variety of viewpoints, I have pursued and chosen the beliefs I have.  They will continue to change with new information. 

My question to you is: Why do you believe what you believe?

Back in my 20s, I would listen to a guy named Brian Tracy and others on cassette tape. He had a list of “Ten  Beliefs of Peak Performing Men and Women”. It is so powerful, that I made it into a poster and put it in my classroom, and would often refer to it when talking with students. Number five was the hardest  to explain. It reads: “Your beliefs are a choice.”

Ask most middle school or high school kids what they believe and they will say “That’s just the way I was raised.”  But adults who have had time and ready access to information from all over the world?  Many will still say “Well I don’t know. I’ve always believed that way. I was raised that way.” And in my head I’m thinking really? You’ve got a God given brain and it’s never occurred to you to question the information that’s been rammed down your throat since you were a kid?”

If someone were to ask me one what I thought was one of the most important idea or principle,  I would say this. Your beliefs are choice. 

And how does one change your beliefs? We often hear “You become what you think about.” You train your thoughts and your beliefs through repetition through conscious effort. I gather information from multiple sources. I observe. Listen. Read. Feel.  One’s beliefs I’m told are nothing more than a thoughts one keeps having over and over. Choose carefully what you listen to, as the pattern will sink in.  I consciously listen to TED talks with uplifting positive messages, and sometimes information that challenges my beliefs.  If it is news, I’ll skim the more reputable news sites.  That excludes Fox and the Drudge Report. 

Why change?  I needed to.  I grew up thinking life sucks. I now think life is a precious gift. I used to think life was a zero-sum game, a win/loose proposition, a scarcity mentality perspective where there is only enough for some but not all. I now believe in in abundance. There’s enough for everyone (if distributed equitably). No need to hoard or stash away huge amounts of wealth.

choice of attitudeIf you choose what you read, listen to and watch, then you choose your beliefs. Your attitude, your mood, and your reactions to life’s challenges follows suit.  I think that when I practice gratitude consciously, like the last thing I do when I go to be, or think when I wake up,  it becomes a habit.

stockings

We were opening Christmas presents. Overflowing stockings were hung  on the fireplace mantel. The 10 year old desperately wanted to pass out stockings. The father said “be careful, don’t drop them.” I was cringing slightly because I knew in the bottom of one stocking was a coffee cup. Ceramic. And not well cushioned. The first stocking was distributed successfully. The second.  The third stocking holding the ceramic cup was dropped onto the marble hearth. It crashed. It broke. There was no question in my mind that this cup was irreparable.

For a brief moment, I cursed under my breath. I wanted to blame and judge, frustrated that the child had not been better supervised or instructed. And then, my practicedthought  took over. I said outloud “Everything is as it should be.”  Also, “ There are lots of valuable lessons to learn here.” The father commented that he should have explained how to hold the stockings so they wouldn’t be dropped. Good lesson. My lesson, if you’re going to put ceramic up into a stocking, cushion it more thoroughly and don’t put it on the bottom. 

broken cupIronically, molded into the side of the cup was a single word. Gratitude.  Thank heaven it wasn’t something more expensive that hit the marble. Thank heaven it didn’t land on the 10 year old’s foot. Thank heaven, it can be easily replaced. Thank heaven nothing else broke. And thank heaven for all these wonderful, generous people who gather on holidays to express appreciation and love for one another.

If you find yourself quick to judge,  quick to express a negative emotion, consider the idea that emotions and attitude are a direct result of your beliefs, and  your beliefs are a choice. Beliefs may not be easy to change but it is an option. what you choose to read and watch is yours to decide. And beliefs follow suit.

beliefs of peak

In case you want to make your own poser:

Beliefs Unique to All Peak Performing Men and Women

  1. Winners are not born. They are made.
  2. The dominant force in your existence is the way you think.
  3. You can create your own reality.
  4. There is some benefit to be had from every hardship.
  5. Each one of your beliefs is a choice.
  6. You are never defeated until you stop trying.
  7. The only limits are ones that you impose.
  8. You have the potential to excel in one key area of your life.
  9. There can be no great success without great commitment.
  10. You need the support of others to achieve your goals.

tracy