Those of us trying to improve ourselves might all be after the same thing without realizing it. I think we want to be able to take in experiences the way we want to take in those experiences. If we did that, we'd feel better more often and we would act more like the people we really want to be.
many times have you been frustrated or upset or angered by something
and wish you could have the perspective you have at your better moments?
different people experiencing the same objective event may not respond
in the same way. One might get upset, the other might instantly forgive
The difference in responses is the difference in how the different people took in the experience. Now, ideally, you would take in experiences the way you do in your better moments, right?
what you're really after. You want better moods, you want personal
growth, you want ______ (fill in the blank). Whatever you're after, it
all boils down to a single goal: You want to take in experiences better. And there are lots of ways to accomplish this.
A cognitive therapist would help you discover your own irrational beliefs and help you see those
beliefs as irrational. A positive thinker might tell you to look on the
bright side. A Zen master might try to help you experience the precious
fleetingness of this moment. And all those different methods ultimately
accomplish the same thing: They cause you to take in the events of your
life in a new way. Hopefully, a better way.
We want to be better people. Nobody wants to be grumpy. Nobody wants to be rude or hurt others' feelings. And yet we have done these things.
want to be wise and kind. You want to have a bigger perspective at
times. You want to take in experiences the way you would at your very
best, and you want to do that more often. The key factor is the way you interpret events.
How do you interpret — what do you do internally with
— the outward event? If you interpret events well (as you do at your
very best), your internal reaction is more likely to be what you want it
to be, and your behavior is too.
But you don't want your better interpretation to be forced. You don't want to make yourself, through
gritted teeth, look at the event in a "positive" way. You don't want to
make yourself act in a way that you don't feel, either. You want to be
open and relaxed and compassionate and to genuinely see things that way.
How can you get better at this? There are hundreds of ways. Thousands. One reliable long-term answer is daily meditation. Another is improving your ability to connect with people. But many tools
work for different situations. One way to go about improving the way
you take in events is to start with something you want to be better at
dealing with and apply a method that works for that specific situation.
the method isn't our topic here. The reason I brought this up is to
point out that while we are after better moods here, we're
actually aiming at something more important. A better mood makes you
feel better, but it also makes you respond better. It makes you more like the person you want to be.
it's a good idea to be clear about the real goal. A better mood is the
immediate, short-term goal. The more meaningful, long-term goal is
becoming the person you really want to be more often. The ultimate key
is the way you take in your experiences.
Adam Khan is the author of Self-Reliance, Translated and Principles For Personal Growth. Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.