20 April 2011

What are you doing?

What are you up to? What are you doing? What are you helping to make happen in the world?

Each day, in a thousand little ways, we influence the lives and experiences of others. Our words influence. Our actions influence. Our very thoughts influence. And around us, the world responds to our input.

I'm not talking about anything particularly esoteric. Just basic logistics. Say there's a misunderstanding at work, and someone says or does something really bone-headed to someone. That someone goes into a funk and goes home at the end of the day in a rotten mood. Their kids irritate them, and they yell at the kids and their spouse. The kids and spouse in turn feel bad and "share the wealth" of discord with each other and the rest of their world, throughout the following days. And the one who was wronged carries a chip on their shoulder that colors much of what they hear and say and do -- not necessarily for the better.

Over the long run, you end up with problematic relationships all around, which -- as we are coming to realize -- create all sorts of other problems in the world. And not just at work. Of course, at work, there's the lost productivity (and possible impact to margin) thanks to frayed relationships. But in individual lives as well, there's a cost.

Once upon a time, it was thought to be enough to tell people to "suck it up" and "deal with it" and all that was wrong with the world would manage to make itself right. Now we know that the wrongs don't necessarily right themselves through sheer force of will (the quantum field notwithstanding), and sucking it up may only get you so far. Never mind the immune suppression, the susceptibility to illness and disorders, and the general havoc that unfolds in social ecosystems, thanks to unchecked drama.

It's all connected. There's no escaping it. We can pretend we're rugged individuals with no impact on others, but the facts indicate otherwise. We are connected.

Now, if you believe in the quantum field (as I do), you may be more inclined to consider your very thoughts and expectations to be powerful things. And if you believe in manifestation and the power of positive thinking, as many an individual does (I'm on the fence, I must admit) you may believe with ever fiber of your being that we all have the power to make our world according to our wishes.

But even if you don't believe in all that stuff, the fact remains that everything we do has consequence. The things we make, the connections we cultivate, the actions we take... it all has impact. But we often don't realize it. We're so invested in believing we are helpless victims who have been repeatedly wronged, who have no say over what happens in the world around us, who have no sway over our life circumstances. We get so caught up in thinking we are victims, we are targets, we are oppressed, we are at odds with all the world around us...

In a way, it's invigorating, especially if you're the kind of person who lives for the fight. But ultimately, it's draining, and if your fiestiness doesn't outlast your physical strength (how long till you cross paths with someone who's bigger, stronger, and a whole lot angrier than you?), eventually your autonomic nervous system is going to show the effects.

Adrenal depletion is remarkably resistant to sheer willpower, after all...

Anyway, this is the start of a little exploration I'm on -- the kind that never actually ends.

All I'm asking for now is, What are you doing? What are you making of your world? How are you being in your world?

Next time I'll ask, "And why?"