If you follow Deer in Headlines on a regular basis, it’s no secret that the world can sometimes leave me totally baffled. No, it’s not so much “the world” as the people in it. I am constantly trying to understand why people are the way they are. Does no one think about their own actions or behavior or why they do the things that they do? I know I do, probably to an unhealthy level.
What I mean by that is that I spend a great deal of time trying to figure myself out, to understand why I make the choices I do and how best to learn from the mistakes and do my best never to repeat them. It doesn’t always work, as you might expect, but I do make the effort.
Mostly, I try to understand how my actions affect the lives of those around me. In a way, I’m searching for my own personal value in the world, one that I’ve found to be a bit elusive in recent months. But how do we do that? How can each of us examine the people in our lives and try to understand how we, as individuals, affect everyone else? It’s not easy.
Sometimes this kind of introspective thought can be painfully revealing, especially when you discover that we impact some people more negatively than we thought. But even that conclusion can be revealing and useful to help us change aspects of ourselves that might be attracting the wrong kinds of people or keeping us from potential success – assuming we want to change. If you like being miserable and unsuccessful, then by all means keep tight hold of that negativity.
However, if you want to do better, taking a little time to explore your own influence on others can help reset your emotional and mental compass. Knowing what direction your life is going has a great deal to do with how you impact the world around you. It may be that you don’t think your actions have any effect on anyone else at all, but I promise that’s just not true.
We all affect each other in some manner or another, and one person influencing another can lead to that person doing the same for a larger group, and that group making a difference to a still greater population, and so on. Good or bad, our actions have consequences, even if we never see the end result.
But understanding that may require some soul searching and talking to friends and family while also asking yourself some simple questions. Have you ever sat and pondered your own existence? Sounds a little hokey and existential, but just ask yourself for a moment, “Who am I,” or “What’s my purpose in life?”
You may never find the final answer to either of those questions, in fact the “who am I” question should be a moving target, forever out of reach because you will change and grow, creating a new path for yourself with every decision. But sometimes it’s the value is in the journey, not the destination.
You may discover some interesting things about yourself as you dig deeper. Most people don’t sit around and try to figure out why they are how they are, and that’s fine. I am convinced, however, that if you want to improve your life, even for just peace of mind that “you” are making the best life possible for yourself, you need to spend some time examining how you make choices and why.
By the way it should be noted that this is a continual journey, one that takes time, thought and internal focus. It’s not religious or spiritual, but psychological and emotional. My guess is that most people just bang their way through life without a second thought about why they do things or how those actions affect everyone else. But I also think that exploring our own behavior can help each of us have a more focused mind and heart with a better, more complete picture of how we fit into the mosaic of the world’s human puzzle.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at www.deerinheadlines.com.