In responding to the HR Carnival blog challenge set out by @DougShaw1 in his recent post ‘The Carnival is Coming to Town’ on the theme of ‘Beginnings’, it occurred to me that this is potentially all about action. ‘Begin’ is a verb, it’s language to describe the creation of something, or to set some event or thought process in motion. The start of something new. Although I suspect like some of my other blog posts, and perhaps life itself, it never ends the way you plan it at the beginning.
With this definition in mind I want to comment upon the immense challenge in beginning anything. A new job, fitness regime, diet, a new business, or perhaps writing a book or even just a blog. Perhaps you just want to explore thinking in a new way. In any event, it’s immensely difficult to begin anything under our own steam, and with only our initiative and shaky motivation to get us started. It may be that circumstances dictate that others force beginnings upon you, out-with your control; and that may be a good or bad thing, depending on what’s coming your way. If it’s having a baby woohoo! Congrats! But you’ve only yourself to blame for that really. Maybe your new beginning is following a devastating redundancy notice, or perhaps more seriously you have suffered bereavement or a life changing illness.
Whether you want it or not, like it or not, beginnings are also about dealing with change in one form or another. It’s said that change when done to you is distressing, and when done by you is exhilarating. There may be some truth in that, but either way dealing with change when you have to begin on a new path, ordeal or adventure is for me about personal responsibility. Being responsible for ones actions given any set of circumstances is the beginning of wisdom. It is the acceptance of things as they are, and not making your experience any worse or more challenging than it need be, or for that matter any less enjoyable.
If you dip into Buddhist philosophy on this point, you’ll discover that inner peace and understanding derives from recognizing reality, accepting that you can’t change it to suit the desires of your ego, and that in any event why would you want to change anything, if your not in any pain or discomfort. Much happiness or contentment is derived from casting off desires for things or circumstances, which you think, make you happy. Not withstanding love of course, which is unconditional and entirely life affirming. By all means have desires and surround yourself with stuff you don’t really need, but don’t get too attached to it, because it’ll all be gone soon enough, and then you’ll know it was all meaningless decoration. In a nutshell desire is at the root of all unhappiness. For it is all about wanting something you don’t currently have, or wanting someone else to think the way you do. How daft is that?
Equally you may have desires for others to understand you and ‘get you’! So many people seem to need approval for their existence instead of just taking action where it’s necessary and getting on with life. Approval from peers, bosses, colleagues, friends, parents or even kids is really not necessary. Why would your own contentment be consequential upon the approval of others? It’s simply not real, and is a psychological construct allied to your ego and it’s insatiable need for approval, control, satisfaction and irrational need to be right all the time. Thoughts of this nature are merely inhibiting fearful little mischievous ego traps to prevent you doing anything of worth for yourself. Such thoughts are self-defeating negative voices which tell you that you are nothing special and are incapable of doing anything of any value on your own initiative.
We seem to live in a state of self imposed perpetual fear of change. Its often even terrifying to think of things changing, it can even make us ill. At a deeper instinctive level, as biological animals we tell ourselves subconsciously, that we only need food, shelter and security, and an environment in which to breed with a suitable mate. Life is of course far more complex for humans than other animals because of our complex cognitive and creative abilities. So our imaginative desires are often at odds with our more simple needs. Hence the conflict, and often mental turmoil within us all. It’s a bugger isn’t it? Meaningful beginnings are possible only by recognizing that you must take responsibility for your thoughts and actions. Be mindful and psychologically present in your endeavours, and especially when dealing with others, in whatever context.
Beginnings are also only owned by you when your clear in your own mind what it is you want to achieve. Without that clarity of purpose, personal responsibility and focused mindfulness, what are you doing with your life? Are you where you want to be right now? Or are you drifting with all the other flotsam and jetsam? Is this part of the plan you had for yourself, or was there no plan? Has life been having you instead of you having a life? Regrettably, that’s true for most of us to a large extent, so perhaps today, right now, is the beginning of taking control of your as yet undefined destiny through personal responsibility and clearly defined action.
Stop giving credence to fearful little thoughts inhibiting your confidence and self worth. Accept your circumstances as they are right now and get on with being you. You are capable, talented, funny, loving, industrious and inspiring! Whatever your circumstances, be they sad or joyous, remember that the most surprising and wonderful experiences we have in life are in the little daily gems of our shared humanity, which as I said in a previous blog is bonded through our common fragility on this fragile earth.
In concluding, its well worth noting that given there is in reality no past or future, and only ever now, every waking moment is a chance for you to create a new beginning for yourself. Give it a shot; you might like it! …Oh wait a second, just before you go, if your afraid you might fail in this new beginning, that’s OK, you don’t have to do anything. It’s probably safer that way.
“Zoom! What was that? That was your life, mate”
Fawlty Towers Clip Courtesy of John Cleese.