Stop Pretending You’re Not In Charge

Stop Pretending You’re Not In Charge

This morning I listened to an episode from Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey’s 21-day guided meditation series and gained yet another new perspective.

Every few months, these spiritual gurus release a free (I repeat: free) three week series of guided meditations. Each session lasts fewer than twenty minutes, and I listen to them first thing in the morning before the crew in my house turns the overall mood to chaos.

Each meditation session has a mantra, or guiding principle, for the day, plus an explanation for why and how it can alter your view on life and inner peace.

Today’s guiding principle was the fact that our perception shapes our personal experiences. Here, Chopra explained that no moment has meaning until you give it meaning. One situation can affect two people in very different ways. For instance, how many times have you been in a group and witnessed this dynamic:

Friend 1: Looks like it’s going to rain tomorrow.

Friend 2: Ugh, that sucks.

Friend 3: Finally—my yard could really use it.

One fact of life is met by two different reactions. Again, this is because no moment has meaning until you give it meaning. The fact that it’s going to rain tomorrow is a fact. It’s a completely neutral scenario…until your perception paints it either good or bad, happy or sad, exciting or annoying, promising or hopeless.

I can think of so many times in my life that I saw through negative, dark lenses. Like back when I was working for an advertising agency, we’d busted our butts for three months developing a new television campaign for one of our clients. Just before it was set to launch, the client said there was an update about the campaign.

Twelve team members huddled around a big, brown conference table anxiously staring at the clunky speakerphone, wondering what this update was about.

Client: We’re not going to move forward with the advertising campaign. My boss didn’t approve it. Let’s come up with a new one.

Me: Are you kidding me?!?!!? Why are these people trying to ruin our lives?

My teammate: That’s life. Let’s make the next campaign even better.

One fact. Two very different reactions.

While I couldn’t see it at the time, the client killing the advertising campaign was just a fact. No more, no less—until my perception painted it negatively.

To stretch this idea further, think about the “facts” of your life as a blank canvas. No matter how hard it is to admit, facts do arrive as a neutral foundation. Blank canvases include everything from your business partner moving to NYC, to your child getting in trouble at school, to your grandmother having cancer.

Each time these blank canvases are handed to you, you get to decide how you will color them. Should you use red and black to paint the facts with fear? Should you cover the canvas in blue and paint the facts with doubt and disappointment? Or can you find the courage to paint them with colors that show you trying to find the silver lining in these tough times?

No matter how many blank canvases you’re given, remember: You are the painter. You color your world.

Katherine Wintsch