If we want choices in life, if we want to create the life of our dreams, we must master ourselves. And the foundation of that is realizing two things: (1) we create our own emotional experience in life all the time. Nothing and no one else create what we feel. It’s 100% us doing it; and (2) the mechanics of doing that, how we do it. When we accept #1 and learn #2, we are free. We are not perfect at it, but we now have the one thing that can set us free: choice!
So what are the mechanics? Simple: what we focus on and what we tell ourselves about what we focus on. We feel what we feel in every moment because of what we’re focusing on and what we’re telling ourselves about it.
A car cuts me off as I drive and I can be pissed and think “That guy’s a jerk.” Or I can ask myself “What’s happening? Maybe he’s rushing to the hospital.” And instead feel curious or compassionate. A co worker is upset and I feel annoyed because she seems like such an emotional mess. Or I can choose to listen and wonder how I can help (or what I can learn) because i like helping people (and learning).
Which leaves us in every moment with just two choices if we don’t like how we feel: focus on something else or tell ourselves something different about what we’re focusing on.
Simple, but not easy and not a linear thing. We do not get to bat 1000 at this. I’m not Spock, so I don’t cease being human and never focus and interpret in ways that make me feel like a victim (or whatever). That doesn’t go away. And I don’t think I’d really want it to? Because if I did, I wouldn’t feel exhilarated about “breaking through” if there was nothing to break through.
Every time i find a better thing to focus on, every time I tell myself something better about what I’m focusing on, there’s a sense of triumph and amusement there. The other day, I was annoyed because a couple people came to me with a problem and didn’t take responsibility or offer any solution. And when I circled back to it, i realize I missed a moment to be helpful to them, because I really enjoy being helpful to people.
Part of the game of life is what experience we can create for ourselves. And if we get better at the mechanics of it, we tend to enjoy it and appreciate it much more!