Perceptions and Attitudes: The Power to Choose

March rolled in with an ice storm here in North Carolina. It arrived on the heels of two weeks of unusually cold weather, including a day of 6-8” of snow; a rarity for this area. The last two weeks of February were particularly brutal weather-wise.

For those living in areas of the country where snow and ice is the norm, life goes on as usual. In North Carolina, however, it comes to a standstill. Lines at the grocery store wrapped around aisles as bread and milk flew off the shelves right before the coming storms. Schools and businesses shut down for days.

Following the ice storm, there was rain. Cold, wet and miserable. As spring rolls in, the temperatures are beginning to fluctuate, predicted to bounce up to 75 degrees today and then drop as low as 18 degrees Friday night. It seems as if spring is taking her own sweet time to arrive in totality.

One of the things I love about where I live is that in general we have a long fall and long spring, with mild temperatures. Typically our winters are relatively mild as well, although the last two years have belied that fact. Right now everyone I talk with is longing for spring and tired of the cold.

As I look out my window, the sides of many of the trees appear to be painted with a neon green stripe – some type of lichen I’ve never noticed before. The brightness is in strong contrast to the brown trunks. I recognize this growth and color as signs of spring, although I suspect few people have noticed since the trees are still bare.

Ironically, as much as I’m hearing groans and moans about the cold, I know it won’t be long before people are complaining about the heat. With either end of the temperature spectrum, perceptions and attitudes vary depending on experience. For most people living here, the summers are hot and humid. For me, having relocated many years ago from southeast Texas, they aren’t so bad.

It is a reminder to me that perceptions and attitudes are what make up our life. I can imagine there are a lot of local folks looking out their windows complaining about the cold rain. Or maybe wondering when it’s going to actually warm up to the predicted temperature. Or disappointed the warm weather won’t last.

Whatever the weather outside your window, take notice of the beginning signs of spring. Pay attention to what you are focusing on and how you are perceiving what is happening. This is where we have the most control and often fail to exercise it.

I continue to be fascinated with our power to choose. It is the single most powerful thing we have available to change our life. We can choose what to focus on, what things mean and what to do. However, it seems our power of choice is one thing most of us have a tendency to forget or take for granted.

I recognized my own folly with this recently as I shared widely the news of how my meager income stream from unemployment was ending. Shortly after writing about it in my last blog, I found myself questioning why I kept talking about it. My journal entry reads as follows:

“When I make the point to people my unemployment has run out, what am I looking for? Sympathy? Fear? Compassion? How is my sharing that information helping me (or them)? Am I subconsciously trying to become the victim? This was my choice. I decided not to look hard for a job and now I am living with the consequences of that decision. I made the choice to search and discover my passion and live a life I love instead.”

The insight and awareness I had in that moment related to understanding my circumstance is the result of my choice(s). Yet, I caught myself almost complaining about it, or acting as if all this was outside my control. I made the choice not to work harder in networking or contacting potential employers.

I do not mean to indicate that if I HAD been feverishly looking for a job and still unable to find one, that was in my control. In that case what would have been in my control would be my focus, attitude and assignment of meaning to the situation. Those are things we always can make a choice to change.

There are thousands of other examples of how I forget the power of my choice or don’t utilize it the way I could. Much of what I am in the process of developing as a solution involves coming off auto-pilot and making more conscious and aware decisions. In this way we might have a new life perspective.

My focus and attention over the next several weeks will be on developing content and planning a New Life Perspective course. My goal is to help others free themselves from disappointment, discover their power to create, and experience life through a soul perspective. Mostly, however, my goal is to learn and do this more for myself so that I might be an example to others.

I’ve asked myself several times why I have chosen this path. My answer has been I want to end suffering: yours and mine. Yet even in that answer I recognized the focus hasn’t been quite accurate in creating what I want. Because what I want for myself and others is a greater recognition, remembrance and utilization of this power of choice. And through it, the experience of creating a life of greater peace, love and joy.

As I finish this blog, the clouds part and the sun comes out. The pine trees sway, indicating there is still a brisk wind. I know it’s not yet warmed up outside. However, I look up at the blue sky and give thanks for this day. Tomorrow the temperatures will drop again, but today I have been granted a slice of spring and a reminder of what gives me inspiration.

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