The Power of Choice: How to Hack Reality

*7 minute read*

First published 3 March, 2013, updated 10 October 2013.

“The world is what you think it is.” – Huna principle

“Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.”  – John Lennon

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Today I received some very sad news about a young couple I know who lost their first child due to a premature death. I felt so sorry for them. I imagined their grief and shock at this tragic event and I wondered how they would cope in overcoming the grief of the situation.

I later recalled an experience I had recently around the idea of grief.

In the last year and a half I’ve been involved in a number of personal growth workshops run by Real Education. Real has had an incredibly positive impact on my life in this short space of time. I recently completed an integration program as part of the Real Man 2 workshop and during one of the nights of the program our awesome facilitator Murray shared some wisdom around grief.

The learning was based around the story of a woman who lost her small child tragically in a family accident. The mother was grief-stricken and carried a lot of blame from the experience and this grief was gradually destroying her. This woman’s journey in overcoming grief was to eventually find gratitude for having been blessed to share the time that she did with her young child.

To overcome this grief, she had to choose to see the situation from the perspective that her child was only ever meant to be with her for the set period of time that she was. No longer. She chose to give the situation this new meaning.

What a powerful and peaceful place; to see a situation of loss from the perspective of gratitude rather than grief!

In life sometimes we can change a situation.

Sometimes we can’t change a situation.

The one thing that is always within our control is our ability to change how we think about a situation.

The key is the power of choice.

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In any situation there is always choice

Sure, I realise at times our mind (I’m the first to admit) can get in our way, but it’s really important to remember that in every situation we have the power to choose what it means to us.

We can choose optimism over pessimism.

We can choose to see the positive or the negative.

We can choose forgiveness over blame.

We can choose empathy over judgement.

And this is why I’m so passionate about the Be Awesome concept. Because I believe being awesome is a powerful message that we can all choose in any situation.

It’s as simple as choosing to be a victim or to just be awesome.

I’m not arguing that we should apply a false mantra of positive thinking all the time (think of the ‘serenity now‘ scene from Seinfeld!). Sometimes situations are just plain bad and we need to be present to the pain and the sadness and truly feel these emotions as the appear and pass.

But it’s important to recognise that our reality is highly subjective and also very malleable. This is why we can seem to have very little in common with some people; because we each view the world from our own unique lens of ‘reality’ and we choose who and what we allow to enter into this personal ‘bubble’.

We create our own personal experience of reality through our beliefs, expectations, desires, judgements, feelings and thoughts and actions and so by extension reality is what we think it is. This is super powerful stuff, because in this idea we learn that by changing our thinking we can change our world!

In the last few years, I’ve been involved in a handful of experiences that could be perceived as ‘bad’, some of which I’ve already shared via Be Awesome:

  • I was engaged and called off the wedding three months before the day
  • I was drugged and robbed $1000 during a night in Istanbul in 2010
  • I got serious food poisoning while I was in Egypt on the same trip in 2010
  • I had thousands of dollars of music gear stolen from my apartment in Brisbane twice in the space of a month in 2011 (some of which I recovered via Facebook)

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If I wanted to play the victim I’m sure I could think of plenty more experiences! And while at some point during each of these experiences I did go through stages of feeling sorry for myself, I’ve learnt and chosen to give each of these experiences a powerful, positive meaning.

Calling off the wedding was the first step in truly valuing myself, which commenced what’s since been an amazing journey of self-discovery and adventure! The robberies have taught me to understand desperation and to try to see life from the perspective of someone who is truly desperate. I’ve also learnt to value and protect my own wealth and things that are really important while also letting go or surrendering to the possibility of losing things that really don’t matter to me in the long-term. The food poisoning also taught me to really invest in my health and wellbeing.

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Soy ice cream and buckwheat pancakes from a ‘joy-free’ diet I went on to get rid of the parasite from my Egypt food-poisoning

There is always a choice. While we may not yet be conscious enough to perceive it, our power in every moment lies in our ability to define a situation rather than letting it define us.

So, I’m curious:

  • What difficult or painful experience have you been able to turn into a great lesson?
  • How much of your life is spent in a grief mentality and how difficult would it be to re-frame this mentality toward gratitude?
  • Think of the areas in your life where you feel badly done by. What would you need to change to turn these areas from a victim mindset to one of being awesome?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic, so please share in the comments below. Have an amazing week everyone and don’t forget to choose to be awesome!


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