“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” Oliver Wendell Holmes
You’re at school drop off and bump into an acquaintance. You casually ask, “Hey, how’s it going?” You have no idea what you were getting into. She proceeds to go into elaborate detail of how exhausted she’s been looking for the “to-die-for” sofa, which costs over $5,000 and will complete her perfect formal living room (the room no one ever uses), but she’s got to get this done before her family vacation in Aruba. And oh, she still has all the million tasks she must accomplish before the trip. This is a typical conversation we all have most likely encountered at some point in our lives or something similar to this. It is unabashed boasting guised as a lighthearted exchange.
Influence is everywhere. Influence keeps the public behaving in a relative sense of order. It does this by shaping our behaviors and choices to what is and is not acceptable. The collective attitude of society is our judge and jury. This, on many levels, is a good thing; otherwise, chaos would ensue. It coerces our thoughts and attitudes on how we conduct ourselves in public, which consequently impacts our daily lives. This is a positive example of social influence.
Take a moment to consider how we allow people around us to impact our daily lives on personal levels. Consider Facebook, Instagram, TV, and how we feel after we’ve been exposed. Immediately take note of your feelings and ask yourself, “Do I agree with this attitude?”… “Do I believe this is truly important?”… “Is this essential to my happiness in life?”… “Is this how I define who I am and where I’m headed?” To define means to “state or describe exactly the nature, scope or meaning of; mark out the boundary or limits of.”
What happens when you begin to blindly let current societal standards dictate what success and happiness means in your personal life without scrutinizing the genuine benefit? You allow what other people do or say to create your point of reference. What neighborhood they live in. How and where they vacation. What car they drive. Where their kids go to school. The clothes they wear. The clothes their kids wear. The size of their home. How they decorate their home. Their job title. How much they make. Being invited to the “right” parties. What friends you have? What friends your kids have? After talking to friends, neighbors, and co-workers, do you feel better about yourself or worse? Do the acceptable social standards fall in line with your principles and beliefs?
In many ways, public opinion can morph into something so much more specific, and it can seep deep down into you and begin to define everything you think and do and say and believe. You unknowingly become a compliant participant to peer pressure, and you begin to define your life by what everybody “out there” thinks instead of what you believe “in here.” This viewpoint lacks individual interpretation for what’s best in your life. It’s general and one size fits all. At an elemental level, it’s shallow.
Life is not a one-size-fits-all. It’s multi-dimensional with a variety of colors and an infinite possibility of combinations. Basically, we are the creator of the daily life we wish to lead, and we are blessed with the freedom to choose the factors we put in, to get out what produces the most happiness and satisfaction.
Regardless of what you may sometimes think, you are in the driver’s seat, and you’re either chasing the superficial objectives of the general-public, or you’re steering your life toward a place infinitely deeper and richer. A place that brings contentment and peace. A place that lets you feel fulfilled and content—not lacking—because you set your own standards.
Don’t define yourself based on what everyone else thinks is the right way to live, without questioning if it fits you. Exercise the ability you’ve been given to make every day the reality you desire. Are you taking advantage of the gift of leading a radiant life, hand-crafted by you? Following pop culture makes you susceptible to taking on attitudes that may not necessarily suit or serve you. It leaves you tied to the whims of others, similar to that of a puppet. If you decide to follow the path a friend or family member has taken, be certain that what you pursue is genuinely about you!
My question is how do you define yourself? What keeps you on course? Is it an internal compass or an ever-changing external compulsion? If you’re not certain, attempt to be aware of what frequently drives your decisions. Ask yourself: “Why am I doing this? What am I getting out of this?” Even with the small decisions. Be certain the answer is within you and not beyond you.
Be brave. Be honest. Be you. Be the puppeteer, not the puppet!
Keep it simple,