Dear Why Team Member,
This week we consider one of the most significant Why questions we humans can ask:
Why do we do what we do?
Last week, we discussed why an ark, or at least a bunker: to be (best) prepared for the storms life may bring. Do you feel prepared?
If not, why?
Why do you take the actions you take and how much thought do you put into them? While these questions have been addressed in thousands of writings, over thousands of years, revealing both conscious and unconscious thought, think Pavlov's dog for example, a workable answer is simply:
Because we think what we think.
Consider someone’s behavior you disagree with, is it possible that if you thought their thoughts, that you too might do what they do? As the saying goes, "if you had walked a mile in their shoes".
"Life as we know it" is a personal experience. Life can only be as we know it and what we all know to be true or untrue about life is deeply personal.
In the movie "A few Good Men", Jack Nicholson said it beautifully, "You want the truth, you can't handle the truth". Why is the truth so hard for us humans to handle? Could truth end our life as we know it? Yes, it could, if any part of our life is not based on truth - and this can be a very painful journey, in fact it is an experience of death.
Deep within the human brain is found the amygdala, responsible for human fear and rage, it’s primary functions being fight, flight and freeze. While fear in the present tense is invaluable, anticipatory fear is not. My good friend and coach, Dr. Roger Hall, has been of tremendous assistance to me over the years. His insights on the amygdala have answered many of my Why questions. Apparently, the amygdala does not know the difference between death, rejection or failure. As herd creatures, rejection from the herd means death and if we fail enough, death will likely come sooner. Even the fear of public speaking is the fear of death; the public speaker is separated from the herd. Notice also our human desire for certainty.
Why? Because uncertainty reminds us of our lack of control.
Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Victor Frankl, Admiral Stockdale and Albert Ellis, all provide priceless insight for the peace that best comes from the inside out. Albert Ellis, the father of EBT, Emotive Behavioral Therapy, provides us a formula that illuminates why we do what we do:
A + B = C
Try this on for size:
Adversity(reality) + our Belief about it = our Consequence or Life Experience
Without careful examination we can come to believe that only our external circumstances determine our well-being. Wow, externally dependent, co-dependent? Now that's a formula for fear and an extra desire for control!
Those who are externally dependent for peace have little of it.
Imagine, however, being at peace no matter the external circumstances. True power is found in the "B" for Belief. Change your thoughts, change your life. But this is easier said than done. Since our current experience of life is as we know it, any part of our life based on something that is not true, must die for us to live more fully in the truth - thus signing us up for the end of our life - as we "know it".
Resisting reality is futile; however, changing our beliefs about reality brings freedom. I am convinced that if you are emotionally suffering in any way, you are likely resisting what is, resisting what is happening around you and to you, and it all makes sense, because for something new to get in, something old must get out. Change, in all its forms, reminds us of the end, ultimately the end of our physical life - and physical death is the core human fear. Maybe this is why those who no longer fear death, are the ones who truly live.
It is written in the ancient text to count it all as Joy; not count some of it as Joy or most of it as Joy, but rather ALL of it as Joy and notice the teaching is to count it all as Joy, not to count it all as Happiness. Happiness is externally dependent. Something from the outside must happen to experience happiness. Happiness is "A" dependent in the A+B=C formula; happiness is dependent on the external. Just look at the focus on happiness in our country today. Where you find great abundance, you typically find a sense of entitlement. The belief is that if we can change the outside, we don't have to look on the inside. Few people ask for character building experiences, but we all receive them none the less. And when we do, we have a choice,: to believe we have been cursed or blessed, to believe that we are a victim, or have received the opportunity to become a victor. The difference is in how WE CHOOSE to think about reality. Yes, it hurts when life does not give us what we want, but with the courage to believe that we may just be receiving what we need, as a result of our struggles, we become more than we were before.
Fear not the cocoon that ends the life of the caterpillar, but rather focus on the gift that brings the butterfly. The end of your life as you know it may be just the gift you need to fly to new heights like the reborn phoenix.
Count it all as Joy and no doubt you will make it a great week,