Posted on Jun 19th, 2006

An interesting quote surfaced recently in the "Science of Being Well" newsletter. The wisdom comes from Jack Canfield, co-author of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series. He says, "You either create or allow everything that happens to you."

My experience with this kind of statement is that most people hear it and say, "Yeah, yeah, yeah… I certainly didn’t ask for this illness, all these bills, the leaky roof over my head," or whatever their gripe of the moment might be. They have a valid point.

Who you be + what you do = what you get.

People often don’t see the connection between their day-to-day choices and what shows up in their lives because nobody’s ever explained how it happens. They never took "Create the Life You Want" in school because it wasn’t offered. Mom and Dad didn’t explain it because they didn’t get the picture either. How’s a person to learn?

Well, things are about to change. In this article, we’ll explore how just one "everyday" choice can mold your material world and your future.

Your everyday actions choose your future.

My premise is that in any situation, you always have a choice of how to respond. When you follow the voice of wisdom, you create power in your life. When ignore that inner voice, you create stress. The voice of wisdom, by the way, can be called by many different names.

You may call it:

* common sense

* the right thing to do

* your conscience

* what [the wisest and most compassionate person you can think of] would do

* your inner knowing

* instinct

* intuition

* a gut feeling
I sometimes refer to it as "the voice of the Shaman," meaning that higher-level wisdom we all have access to.

Today’s example has 3 variations, each of which I’ve witnessed recently. (Perhaps you have as well.) Read each variation and see if you can distinguish the "stress" response from the "power" response. I’m rooting for you!

Variation 1: You’re eating out at a restaurant. You notice a bunch of crumbs on the table, left by the crackers you just crunched. You gather up the crumbs from your place (because they bother you) and either (a) dump them onto the floor under the table for someone to sweep up or (b) put them on the plate you’ve finished using to go back to the kitchen.

Variation 2: You’ve just tried on a bunch of clothing in the dressing room of your favorite store. You either (a) leave the items you don’t want in a crumpled heap on the floor or (b) hang them back up on the hangers and hand them to the attendant on your way out.

Variation 3: You’ve just stayed overnight at a motel. You’ve taken a shower and now have the chore of dispensing with your wet towel. You either (a) leave it wadded up in the middle of the bathroom floor to mildew or (b) hang it on a hook or rack to dry out.

I suppose it’s obvious that the "stress" responses are all first. But just in case you think it’s too obvious, I must remind you that these examples come from life - I’ve seen them all.

You could, of course, get away with any of them. It’s certainly been explained to me in each of these situations that "the person who works here is being paid to clean up my mess, so why should I bother?" You might say, as has been said to me, "Well I don’t expect to ever have that job." :-)

"I don’t expect to ever wait tables, attend a fitting room, or clean hotel rooms. This exact thing will never be done to me." (Please understand I’m not de-valuing those jobs. I’ve done two of the three myself.) "So why should I care?"

I could give you several reasons. But the simplest and easiest to understand is this: You are faced with an opportunity to make life easier for a fellow human being or to make life harder. Which do you choose?

That’s the real question. "Which do you choose … stress or power?"

Which do you choose … stress or power?

You create power for yourself RIGHT NOW by treating other people the same way you’d like to be treated yourself if your positions were reversed. If this principle sounds familiar to you, it should. It’s known to many of us as "The Golden Rule" and it’s one of the most commonly practiced moral guidelines in the world.

You may think little things like this don’t matter. Get this: They do. These very simple, everyday choices mold your material world.

How?

Again, I could suggest a number of ways. The simplest to understand is this. You never know who may be observing your behavior. You never know when the person you least expect may be in a position to make life easier for you. And they’ll be more likely to do so if they see you as a considerate person yourself.

Maybe you’ve just taken a long, hard look in the mirror and recognized yourself as a person who often selects the first option (a) in situations like these. Hey, it happens. We’re not born knowing everything. We learn. So maybe I was talking about you. Or a close "friend."

If so, let me make a few observations about your life at the moment. Your relationships with other people are strained. You’re lonely. You have to fight for every inch you get in life. People don’t understand you. Certainly, they don’t treat you with the deference that you feel you deserve.

How did I come up with that? Easy. You created it. Your assumption that the world exists to serve you will endear you to nobody. The guy you just made sweep the floor an extra time won’t be doing you any favors any time soon, that’s for sure. Better hope your car starts in the parking lot, because he’s sure not gonna offer you a jump.

Since the ability to get along with others is so closely related to your success in other areas of life, I could equally well predict that you have trouble at work, catch every bug that goes around, and are plagued by a variety of aches and pains, probably neck pain and headaches. But we won’t go into all that right now.

The fundamental message is this: It’s not just about what you know in life, it’s about what you do with what you know.

Bottom line: It never hurts to raise your standards. When in doubt, mentally trade places with the person who will have to deal with the "fall-out" of your choice. Then make the choice that will cause them to have the more pleasant experience of life!

Elizabeth Eckert is a wellness coach who supports people in creating optimal health. She is the author of the free health guide Transform Stress Into Power and creator of the Ultimate Stress Buster Kit.

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