You might have circumstances you want to improve; you might know people whose circumstances you hope to help. I don’t know. What I think I could be fairly positive about is that we are all humans. Just as blood runs in our veins, circumstances surround us in this physical world ~ and they are perceived into our consciousness through one of our five senses. I could tell from the hundreds of people that I have interacted with that human circumstances seem to wage against normal progress. Government, economy, neighbours, even the microwave that suddenly got faulty on a rush hour morning is an undesirable circumstance good enough to ruin the whole day, or add a sour taste to the earliest part of it.
Controlling our circumstances is our most intense pursuit, and there is a reasonable justification for all of us to desire this control. First, we always happen to control things when we are creating out of past conditions. For instance, the mason controls the process of making sand, cement and water become bricks and eventually a solid house. The writer controls words and phrases into articles and eventually books. There are such controls we appear to make. Why not circumstances, right? Circumstances on their part have something in common: they are out of human control. No one likes to be told that; I don’t like it either. That anything is not in our conscious control. Yet, when we all sit down in our lonely corners or muttering 1000 intelligible words to ourselves in a lonely walk, it is our circumstances that more than anything take the majority of our inner talks, with little or no clear solution in the way. If we can be honest enough to admit this, we might make more good progress rapidly with our lives. Socrates told Dan Millman in the movie ‘The Peaceful Warrior’: ‘Give up the one thing you never had and that you’ll never have: Control.’
Frankly, it is still important for us to have something to do with our circumstances. These are things that happen around us, and as a result happen to us. A circumstance such as stepping on a needle, having an unexpected cash gift from an friend or a disturbing tornado hundreds of miles away: they all could change our moods and affect our mental state of mind, and often they do. It is the reason why we almost always want to control them. If they can affect us, we might as well affect them.
Control we mightn’t because they have already happened. Affect we may because they are old conditions we can work on creatively like a mason or a painter or a writer. Some benefits we could gain from learning how to affect our circumstances on purpose include: being able to balance our moods and improve the quality of our emotions; having the internal knowing that our mental state will not be frustrated by undesirable circumstances; the self-control that could help us balance our judgments especially during temporary excitement; the ability to improve our life by creating new and desirable conditions out of old circumstances, and the ability to be an example to others of how to maintain a subjective control over all human circumstances.
How Do We Affect our Circumstances Then?
It appears that the simple strategy to affect our circumstances in a remarkably positive way is Appreciation. The word itself means ‘to increase in value’; as the dictionary has it: ‘an increase in price or value’. Of course the way to this manner of appreciation is by ‘understanding the nature, meaning, quality or magnitude’ of our circumstances. We first take inventory of what a circumstance is, then we express gratitude upon the stock we have taken. In other words, when we permit ourselves to see the elements working in a circumstance and have a sense of awareness of their cooperation, we could be grateful for a circumstance.
Gratitude for any circumstance is not merely speaking words of gratitude, although it starts from there. It extends to having an actual feeling and a dominant mood of gratitude; whether the circumstance has been good or otherwise to us.
First, appreciate that every event of life requires a level of Intelligence to play out, and no man could place an actual value on that. Events don’t just happen; they happen in coherence. Circumstances are events happening without us having caused them using our body. They still must be able to happen before they ever happen. There is Life in every situation; and we might want to have a sense of this miracle. A painful knee requires the whole nervous system in proper working order, and it has brought your attention to this system’s proper functioning. An unexpected gift or a raise indicates the evaluation of value in you by someone who could have 1,000 other things going for them; it has invited your consideration of how often they think of you. Every event is a coherent whole, an unbroken chain that we could appreciate the Intelligence behind it.
Second, appreciate that every circumstance is a great opportunity for you to REACT! And kindly REACT with gratitude. Life is a series of actions and reactions. When circumstances happen and we see them as opportunities to make intentional reactions or responses, we create a new stream of actions that bring about new (more) favourable circumstances. When a person is vexed with you and screams, you could choose to also rage and rant. Or you could choose to remain your calm, engage your poise and with a winning smile bring the other person to understanding. Try to appreciate that they could properly be angry over something — because it is based on how they feel, not how you feel. And they express it because they respect you, because somewhere inside them, they think you will be reasonable along. That is so much trust a single person puts in you. Finally, in your calm and patience, show them terms of agreement between you both — that will bring peace to their calm. Terms of agreement, not discord. You not only win the situation by such appreciation, you also maintain your internal peace and all together you feel great about yourself. In fact, people might realise this and celebrate you.
We’ll hold it on this third. Your circumstances might be the best teachers available because they let you experience directly what you might only have studied intellectually. From your personal experience, no understanding could surpass that, don’t you think? The phrase has become common nowadays that ‘thoughts become things’, that ‘as a man thinks in his heart so is he’, that ‘we become what we think about’. In essence, our circumstances are teaching us to carefully apply our thoughts on them. The most common ideas around this idea of mind over matter is to use it to create a kind of life you desire, often a dream life where you have $1 million in your business and live on an island, etc. All great indeed. Why not enjoy the luxury of this world this time around? At the same time, circumstances are the best training ground for your mind to be able to create those desired future experiences. When an event that is great happens to you or around you today, simply be grateful for everything it means to you and/or others — not just excited about it. When an event that is not so good happens also, simply be grateful as if the desired good is what is happening. Let undesired circumstances cause no other reaction in you except the opportunity they give. They are opportunities for you to think of a desired circumstance as if you remembered how good it was when it happened. Let me repeat that, ‘An undesirable circumstance is an opportunity for you to ACT as if you remember the happening of its opposite that is desirable,’ and feel grateful on that.
Finally, since other humans are involved in most of the circumstances that happen in our lives, this poem might remind you and I always that people in our lives are diamonds that could glimmer and shine when we refine them in appreciation. Our lives could be litter with great circumstances by treating people exceptionally well, one person at a time.
There is a deep goodness in every human
Bearing witness to the divine nature within.
No matter how dark the environment might seem;
we’re travelling lights in the dead abyss.
Who darkness mocks ever a spark caused?
Who the light beholds ever a path lost?
Our garments might be tender or worn;
we’re spirits on goodness performed feeding.
THE PHENOMENAL FRIEND