Checkboxes

We all know that a person is the product of their past experiences, however, each day a person would seem to concentrate on something different.  I know that I don’t always wake up in the same mood.

Let’s say that each of our life experiences were somehow a checkbox on a list, and on any given day when a person wakes up we never have all of the boxes checked, and each day different boxes are checked in a random manner.  I suppose it is possible for some people to only check the negative boxes and live miserable lives.  Or for others to only check the positive boxes, and they must be those happy people who in spite of having had negative experiences in their lives, they live their lives as if those things had never happened to them.   Some people might say that those people are living in denial and that some day it will all catch up to them; I don’t know if that is true.  Granted some days I wake up having feelings like maybe I am Marie Antoinette and I am just waiting for the angry mob to break down my door and carry me off to the guillotine.  Is that too dramatic?  Ok, so maybe it is more like I am a juggler and I wake up some days feeling like the magic will be gone and I won’t be able to keep all of my balls in the air.  In either case, it is a feeling of impending doom.

I don’t know how many of you have played The Sims, but every time they wake up their ambitions spin and they have a different set of wants and goals for the day.

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This is eerily close to real life.  The difference is that for the Sims it is random and out of anyone’s control to determine or predict what their wants and goals will be for that day.  For us, it can sometimes feel that way, but in reality we are always in control of what we choose to concentrate on.  We can choose to dwell on the negative or on the positive.  We can choose to love or not.  We can choose to be happy or sad.  We can choose to do what it is right or not.

We all have had unpleasant experiences in our lives, some worse than others; however it is up to us to decide which boxes to check and which ones to leave unchecked.   We need to consciously check the boxes next to the experiences that make us better people and leave unchecked the boxes next to the experiences that leave us with negative feelings or which would manipulate us into becoming negative people.

Of course this maybe easier said than done.  One thing that is certain is that the more we meditate upon those negative experiences, the more negative we become.  We become that which we meditate on, or I can put it another way.  If we feed the demon, he gains more control over us.

I wish to concentrate on everything that is positive and uplifting.  If there is no personal positive experience for me to draw upon, then I must turn my attention to some outside source.  One way to do this is by reading a book that is uplifting, whether it be fiction or non-fiction; there are plenty of stories out there with encouraging and positive experiences.

We are responsible to filter what we allow into our minds, and last night was one of those times that I had to make a choice.  I began reading a book that was highly recommended to me.  I had been looking forward to reading this book, since it was a historical romance, written by an well-selling author who is said to pay close attention to historical fact.  I had never read one of her books before, and I was wishing to see what attraction was.   I plodded through the first chapter noticing that the tone of the author was not one that I shared or enjoyed.  Upon finishing the second chapter, I saw that the tone did not change and I was beginning to feel depressed.  I have made the unequivocal decision that life is too short to read books that make me feel depressed.

It is one thing to try and check or uncheck the boxes next to unpleasant personal past experiences.  It is a whole other thing to engage in random negative outside experiences in the name of entertainment.  That is totally avoidable and one in which I can actively choose not to participate.  It is the main reason that I avoid reality shows as if they were the Black Plague of our age; which I am not convinced they are not.  In any case, I need not subject myself to it.  I am responsible for what I read and what I watch, and I had better well make sure it is something that will be helpful to me, either by lifting my spirits or teaching me something useful.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Philippians 4:8

Normal?

I have always known that I am not like other people.  When I was very little, three or four years old, I had already had some experiences that my playmates could not relate to; nothing bad, just not the norm.   As I grew, I seemed to have physical confirmation that I was indeed different.  Medicines affect me differently than the rest of my family.  For example, malaria medicine makes me deathly sick, while making the rest of my family feel so much better.

My mindset is not the same as my parents or my siblings, either.  I don’t know where I got my way of looking at life.  I can only assume that I must have inherited it from some ancestor whom I never met.  For a few years, I truly felt that I must be adopted; later, I found that was not the case.  I think because of this, I have always found genetics to be quite mysterious and maybe not very scientific.  Had the thought occurred to me, I probably would have studied genetics to some degree when I was in college.

It comes down to the age old question of nature versus nurture.  With exactly the same two genetic parents and the same upbringing, my three siblings and I are all very different from each other, as are my three sons.  We don’t even physically resemble each other that much.  Sure, there are a few things that confirm to us that we are indeed from the same family; certain traits that pop up and reveal themselves as old acquaintances.  However, our thought patterns and our conclusions to various problems are quite varied.

I was just thinking about my deceased grandparents, wishing they were still alive and that I could talk to them; maybe ask their opinions on certain things.  I also recognize that none of their children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren appears to have taken after them very much.  Sure, there might be a particular trait once in a while in one of us that is like them, but basically when they died they took their traits with them.  Well, maybe the similar traits are only noticeable to those who are not part of the family.  I look around at other families, where I have personally met three or more generations, and what strikes me is how similar they are.  Maybe I just can’t see the forest for the trees.

Having said all of the above, I am not complaining.  I like not being similar to everyone else.  In fact when choosing a book, if the description says something like “Mary Sue just wanted to be normal” that is a complete turn-off to me, and I skip that book and move on to find something more my style.  Personally, I don’t like being like everyone else.  I don’t know why in every book or TV show the characters are all trying to “fit-in” and be normal.  If I had a superpower, I can guarantee, there would be no inner conflict on my part due to the fact that I was not like everyone else.  I do understand the need for secrecy in such a case, though; and I can totally understand the need for a Clark Kent persona.  I am just saying that I wouldn’t be upset that I wasn’t like everyone else, and it wouldn’t take me 80% of the book to come to grips and embrace who I really was.  On the other hand, it might take me a while to get over being lied to about it.

So, here is a shout-out to all of you out there who are not normal and don’t fit in.  Congratulations!  Embrace who you are, especially the differences.  Normal is overrated.