One of the things I have been realizing more and more: how much responsibility you take for everything happening in your life is a really good determining factor of how happy you will be.
No matter what happens in life, we are all frustrated at some point with someone or something. Usually, we label these things as “something gone wrong” or “someone who pisses me off”. It’s the old Family Guy adage
You wanna know what really grinds my gears?
Of course, this is the easier way to get satisfaction from an outcome of some event. But is it really satisfying long term? Lots of things feel good in the moment. Hanging out with friends on a Saturday night seems like it's a really good thing. You spend the evening at some establishment of choice, drinking a few adult beverages, and at some point, you may overindulge. Even at that point, it may still feel good in the moment. You are not sloppy drunk but you are quite tipsy and having fun and enjoying the endorphins. The next day is when you realize you might have not made the best choice to stay out late, drinking a little too much, eating something you normally don't eat (because you were drinking). This is when it all comes full circle. You might think about it throughout the course of the next day. You might ponder on it for days or weeks or months depending on how you process things. But the resounding truth is that a lot of us would blame it on the alcohol, blame it on too much wasting time, or maybe you don’t blame it on anything and you just chalk it up to “the price you have to pay to have fun”. This may seem a bit abstract but to the point, any of these choices of how you feel about it mask the simple truth that you chose to do A and the result was B. It’s really sidestepping that you actually had a conscious decision and that decision had some results.
When you start to observe and understand the self-talk that brews inside your mind, you can start to sift through all of the little nuances that, on a micro-scale, seem insignificant. On the macro, however, they add up to build the framework and structure of your entire thesis on life.
The way you think about one thing is the way you think about everything, to some degree.
Further abstraction reveals that responsibility is at the core of these little tea-time chats you have with yourself. Responsibility is you saying to yourself, no matter what happens, I am responsible for everything that happens (whether you “really” are or not). 100% responsible? Yes, or as Jocko Wilink would say “Extreme Ownership“. Really it is one of the core principles that will free your mind and your life. It will allow you to unlock your soul. Taking extreme ownership of yourself is simple, just take responsibility for everything. So why can’t we do it? Because we are born into a society that raised us to point the finger… <- this sentiment is a perfect example of passing the buck.
I’ve always been a fan of racing whether doing some of it myself or watching others do it. I am NOT a NASCAR fan whatsoever. I think it is ok but really they are just driving around in a circle. I am more of a road race fan. At the pinnacle of road racing is Formula 1. These are 20 of the best drivers in the world traveling to 20+ countries over one season, driving the fastest cars on earth at speeds in excess of 200Mph. They have to be the best every weekend. They put in countless hours of training every day and their teams are constantly pushing the limitations of their cars, and their physiology. It’s grueling but at the end of the day, there is one person who is responsible for the team’s success. The team manager/principal. He is the pivot point for everything that happens on the team. The orchestrator of the entire operation. If you were to ask any team manager in F1, they would tell you without hesitation that the success of their operation is solely in their hands. This is not to say they don’t get angry or frustrated when a driver puts their car into the wall and causes millions of dollars worth of damage. It’s not that they are not upset when an engine fails or someone puts a tire on wrong and causes the team to lose the race. But when it is all said and done, they understand that everything hinges on their ability to manage the team properly. Not only are sponsors and winning a high priority, but there are literally lives on the line. Someone could die if something goes horribly wrong.
I can imagine the President of the United States might feel similarly about the success of our country in world affairs. He is one person running a mind-boggling staff of people with one goal in mind. Creating a good outcome for the people who voted him into office. I would go one step further and say creating a good outcome for the entire population of our country. Yet the President is criticized every step of the way, no matter the choices they make. We sit comfortably in our little parts of the world and slam one person for making poor choices (at least poor choices in our minds). We criticize them for not knowing what they are doing. It’s all really just a matter of perspective. You have to make choices for your family. The President is making choices for an entire nation of millions of families. You don’t like when someone tries to tell you how to run your family or business because they do not know the details behind the scenes. They don’t understand what you have to manage. Same for the President. You as a normal citizen can not comprehend the complexities of running a country. I honestly wouldn’t want to do it. It sounds like something that would give you ulcers. If I was called to do it though, I would accept the challenge. And that is the crux of the whole thing. Would you accept the challenge and take the plunge to do their job or be in their shoes? If not then, what is it you are complaining about? Empathy, understanding, walking a mile in someone else's shoes. As cliche as it sounds, it’s really the bottom line.
So how do you build this perspective?
You learn about people. Individuals. You get to know them. And you try to understand who they are rather than throwing judgment at them. If you feel like you need to judge people then maybe it’s time to step back a bit and try to understand why you feel judgment is useful. Do you feel judged? Why? Judgment is an internal mechanism. It’s all inside of your mind.
There are a few truths about judgement:
Judgement is a noun, not a verb —” the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.”
You are the one who feels judged — whether someone is “judging you” or not
When life is over, nobody gives a fuck — because they are dead
If we were to use judgment properly we would be seeking truth rather than placing blame. We would be looking for the “sensible conclusion”. The way to ensure we are not pointing fingers is by taking full responsibility. If everyone is taking responsibility, then everyone is on the same playing field. I know this is not realistic, so I will take responsibility regardless and therefore free my mind and my soul of any external burdens or “hurt” caused by me — because I am empathetic and understanding, and I will free the other person who “hurt” me because I am saying “It’s ok to fuck up”.
Is it easy to do this?
Nope. It’s hard as fuck sometimes. Can it be practiced and learned and deployed as a strategy in life? Absolutely. You can go to the gym and lift weights, or go running or swimming and improve your physical health right? The mind and emotions are the same. Our body is made up of tissue. Our mind is made up of similar tissue. It’s all tissue. If you can improve muscles why couldn’t you also improve your mind? There is no one-size-fits-all and the method you chose to deploy might be different, but the fundamental principles involved are the same. Forgive often and take responsibility oftener. (yes I said Oftener)
Someone “messed up your order”, ok, so what? Take responsibility and give them a fucking break. They are there trying just as much as we are. Someone cut you off in traffic? Cool, so what? Who cares? Nobody died, no harm, no foul. Take it easy and chill the fuck out. We are quick to let ourselves off the hook for our mistakes, but we are quick to point out everyone else’s mistakes. Maybe its time to turn that thinking around and let things be as they are. They are just things happening. There is no rhyme or reason behind it. No matter how much you want to explain what happened. Explaining it is not going to change the fact that it actually happened.
Normally people get upset because they are sad.
I know every time I am upset it’s because of sadness or sorrow or something eating me from the inside out. I’ve sat down and thought about it a lot. We don’t know about anyone else’s struggles, but when we judge them we are simply reinforcing their struggles for them. Would you rather someone else reinforce your hard life for you or would you rather they give you a little break once in a while? Why not do the same and see what happens.