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Changing Your Personal Reality – Part 1

Changing Your Personal Reality – Part 1

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    My Head Hurts…

    While the subject of “Personal Reality” might seem somewhat esoteric, philosophical and even confusing to some, it’s something that’s not only relevant to every one of us, but also something that impacts on virtually every area of our existence and human experience in a tangible and practical manner. All the time. Just as we each have different DNA, so too do we each inhabit our own “personal” reality. That is, the way we experience our world. Notice I say “our world” because the world and our world are two very different places. For the most part, one is absolute (forgetting that whole global warming thing for a moment) and the other is in a constant state of flux and transition; often changing drastically in a matter of minutes. You and I both know people who exist side by side with someone else (often in the same house), yet each of those people live in a total different reality. You may well be that people. Er, person. Why? Because physical environment (for the most part) doesn’t determine reality, we do. We make things good or bad. Hard or easy. A lesson or a failure. An opportunity or a problem.

    A Universal Reality?

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    How you and I will experience things is determined by each of us individually, not by what “appears” to be going on to the rest of the world. There is no universal reality because every moment of every day you and I are interpreting, processing and reacting individually to a non-stop stream of information and stimuli from our physical world; the place we inhabit. Not to be confused with the place we live; our head. It could be suggested that the majority of our living (how we each experience life) is actually a cerebral, emotional and spiritual experience, not a physical one. Although some people work very hard to make their life all about the physical; which invariably leads to misery (another exploration for down the track).

    We Create Hard. And Easy.

    Yes there are universal situations, circumstances and events but there is no universal reality because things only have the meaning that we give them. Just as things only have the power (influence, control) in our lives that we allow them to have. Which also means that there are no “difficult” situations (for example); only different situations to which we each react individually. Some well, others not. Difficulty is a human construct; a label that you and I each assign to the various happenings in our world. Despite what most of us believe, there is no universal “hard” or “easy”; only our personal interpretations of, and reactions to, what goes on in our day-to-day practical lives.

    Where we Live

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    By “living in our head” I mean that our experience of the world – that is, how we see various situations, circumstances and events, how we allow those things to affect us, what they mean to us and how we react to it all – is individual, unique and self-determined. Which is why we can see two people going through what appears to be the same experience at the same time (some might erroneously say, the same reality) – a very similar court case for example – yet they are both impacted in totally different ways. One learns a valuable life-lesson, grows emotionally, becomes more aware, compassionate and enlightened, while the other suffers from extreme physical, emotional and psychological stress – all self-created by the way (situations don’t create stress, people do) – loses confidence, becomes angry and bitter and slides into a depressive state for a period of time. Why? Because the two individuals weren’t actually going through the same “experience” at all; they were each creating their own experience. One positive. One negative.

    The Puppet

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      Until we acknowledge that we each have the power to determine our own reality and create our own experiences, we will continue to be a puppet having our strings pulled by situations, events, circumstances and other people. We will continue to be the Reactor and not the Creator. Step one on the path to enlightenment, consciousness and lasting change (from the inside out) is to acknowledge that we can control our own destiny, we can each create our own reality, our world is not “the” world and our history will only become our future if we allow that to happen. Step two (in the Harper book of life-philosophy) is to understand that good or bad, hard or easy, happiness or misery are all choices – and to then live accordingly. And remember; by not making a decision, you are making a decision. Be mindful that the decisions you don’t make will have just as much impact on your personal reality as the decisions you do make. One way or the other. So don’t delude yourself. If you have the ability to think, reason and choose, then you have the ability to change your personal reality for the better. If you consistently choose to not take action, to not use your potential and to not take back the power you’ve given away, then you vicariously choose mediocrity and misery and have nobody to blame but yourself. Subscribing to the “things will work themselves out” philosophy is ignorant, naive, apathetic and shows a distinct lack of courage.

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      You are the author of your life. Start writing.

      But What About My Sick Aunty?

      Okay, I can hear some of you saying “but what about people who are diagnosed with cancer; surely their reality is decided for them?” And I would reply, is their disease their reality? Does it define them? Determine them? Is their reality determined by what’s happening to their (temporary) house? Is it possible for a terminally ill person  to experience joy, pleasure, connection, fulfillment and happiness? A personal reality of calm and contentment perhaps? Of course it is. One of life’s great curiosities is that we often see terminally ill people who are much happier (happiness being the one universal goal) than their healthy counterparts. Why? Because they have let go of that which made them unhappy; fear, insecurity, greed, anger, bitterness… ego; the destructive crap. They have created a new reality to inhabit. A much better one. While they will deal with the disease in a practical and intelligent manner, they will also have an ever-present awareness that they are not their body or their disease, therefore they do not need to be miserable. And yes, I know that this paradigm messes with our very Western thinking but that is our loss – and another example of logic and science getting in the way of potential. Cultures much more evolved than ours have understood and embraced this wisdom forever.

      One Doesn’t (need to) Equal the Other

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      In truth, the absence of physical disease doesn’t necessarily equate to happiness or success (we see evidence of this every day), just as the presence of disease doesn’t necessarily equate to misery or catastrophe. So while cancer may affect my body, there is no need for it to determine my reality. I will choose my reality, my reality will not choose me. A disease is not me and I am not it. Just as the chair that I currently sit on is not me, neither are cancerous cells that might inhabit my body, me. While others may rationalise misery and catastrophe, I will choose happiness and calm. Because I have that option. Because my reality is my choice.

      As is yours.

      Tune in for Changing Your Personal Reality -Part 2 next week.

      More by this author

      Craig Harper

      Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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      Last Updated on January 13, 2020

      The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

      The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

      No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

      Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

      Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

      A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

      Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

      In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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      From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

      A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

      For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

      This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

      The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

      That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

      Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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      The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

      Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

      But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

      The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

      The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

      A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

      For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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      But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

      If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

      For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

      These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

      For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

      How to Make a Reminder Works for You

      Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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      Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

      Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

      My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

      Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

      I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

      More on Building Habits

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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