Here is a divine force in everyone’s life—a cause and effect. Some people call it Karma. Other people call it the Law of Attraction. I call it God’s Divine Providence—His control over everything and everyone in the universe. A fulfilled life is possible for everyone. Living a fulfilled life is not luck. It is God’s plan that each of us has the ability to change our outcomes in life. Therefore, if you do not like your life, change it; if you are not satisfied with your outcomes, change the process; if you do not know how to start the process of change, seek God for guidance.
Are you living your best life or are you stuck in rush hour traffic? Many people go through the motions of life without hope or expectation. They are not pleased with life, but they do not know how to change their course. Before you can change your course and get on the correct path to get what you want out of life, you must know who you are and what you want.
There are so many people who are not living fulfilled lives because they do not know who they are; they do not know what they want; or they do not know how to get what they want out of life. Many people wake up every morning, go through their daily routine, and then go back to bed only to start the same cycle over again the next day. These people are not satisfied with their lives, but they continue to go through the motions, day after day and never really figuring out why they are not enjoying their life. They are stuck in rush hour traffic on the interstate of life. They move with the ebbs and flows of traffic, making only the necessary lane changes, then getting off at the same exit every day.
Most people would love to change their humdrum lives. They are at the crossroads of life and they do not know which path to take. They have not yet realized that life is a journey. As with every journey, if you do not like where you are going, you must change directions.
Life is a journey that eventually takes us to our destination. During the journey of life, there will be peaks and valleys, struggles, successes, and failures. There will be periods when everything seems to go well and there will be times when everything seems to go wrong.
Everyone must face a fundamental truth that during our lifetime, we will encounter hurdles along our life’s journey. Some people experience a daily crisis, while others may go for extended periods of time before the next challenge occurs.
Regardless of the regularity of the predicament, rest assured, all of us will eventually encounter problems during our lifetime. Whether we learn to transcend the challenge, dwell in the situation longer than necessary, or stay in the predicament throughout our life’s journey, depends entirely on the individual.
Some people have the ability to move through the rough times, learn from the experience, and keep on moving. Other people may make it through a challenge, but they keep going from one bad predicament to the next because they failed to learn important lessons along their journey. Then there are other people who may face insurmountable obstacles that they never seem to overcome. They get stuck in a predicament and cannot find their way out because they fail to learn and grow. The people who go through tough challenges, learn from them, and move on; they are the ones who were determined to overcome their obstacles and plot a course to get what they want out of life.
In order to plot the course for your life’s journey and reach your destination, you must first understand that each of us has a unique “mapping system.” Each person’s mapping system is different from everyone else on this planet. While we may have a similar journey and we may also have a similar destination, our map is as unique as we are.
Our mapping system separates humans from animals. It determines who we are, our likes and dislikes, our strengths and weaknesses, our desires, aspirations, goals, and motivations. If you do not clearly understand your own specific mapping system, you will never be able to reach your specific destination. For example, if your final destination is Niagara Falls, the path to reach Niagara Falls depends on where you start your journey. There are many different ways to get to Niagara Falls, but the path you take really depends on where you start. It is not possible to reach Niagara Falls using a map to Hawaii. Each person must become aware of his or her own mapping system.
This process of knowing your own mapping system is called “self-awareness.” You will not be able to overcome the obstacles along your life’s journey and plot your own path, unless you have a high sense of self-awareness. You will not be able to achieve your desired outcomes in life until you know the truth about who you are.
I learned that I did not have the ability to overcome the challenges of my journey until I became more self-aware. I had to face the truth about myself. After I faced the truth about myself, I was able to overcome the obstacles and I started making different choices that changed my life. I was able to overcome poverty, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, teenage pregnancy, single parenthood, sexual harassment, unemployment, depression, self-hatred, discrimination, racism, sexism, divorce, a near death experience, and even a death threat.
My life was a wreck. I had gotten off track many times. Like many others who face tremendous obstacles, I felt that I had been singled out to be the loser. I was a good person, but I went from one catastrophic event to the next. Why me? What had I done that was so bad that I deserved all of these misfortunes?
I encountered many obstacles. Each time I was able to get back up and start over again. Each time I survived one challenge, another more daunting challenge surfaced, but each time, I was more prepared. It was during these horrific struggles that I came to the realization that my faith in God had always been the source of my strength. I had been able to overcome tremendous obstacles time and time again because of my faith in God.
Many people face tremendous obstacles every day. Some people overcome them, but many people do not. The people who overcome their predicaments are the ones who are self-aware. Everyone can beat the odds and overcome setbacks when they take their eyes off of the problem and focus on the way they see the problem. As a familiar saying goes, “the way you see the problem is the problem.” After I fully accepted the fact that my view of life was the primary reason I had been through so many trials, but also, my view of life was the real reason I was able to overcome the many challenges and get back up again. I learned that there is a spiritual process that each of us must face in order to grow.
God allows us to face challenges to strengthen us, not to destroy us. If we allow the challenges of life to destroy us, we will stop maturing. When we stop maturing, we lose hope. When we lose hope, we will never beat the odds and we will never live fulfilled lives.
The spiritual process of overcoming your problems begins with examining your heart. It is impossible to overcome these challenges if you cannot honestly examine yourself. Shakespeare summarized it succinctly in Hamlet when he wrote, “Above all: To thine own self be true.” The person who can overcome obstacles and beat the odds is the one who can examine their life. They will then examine the facts, and make a decision to transform the way that they think in order to move from their current predicament and achieve more desirable outcomes.
So, who are you? Does your career, your appearance, your residence, your net worth, your race, gender, age, or marital statuses define you? And who determines who will have a fulfilled life and who will be left behind in a life of pain, suffering, and poverty? Who decides? The answer is as unique as each of us. However, each of us must come to the realization that we have control over our own outcomes. Who you are depends on who you think you are. The fundamental problem has been that most of us do not have the courage to examine ourselves because we may not like what we see.
So, we continue to go on defining our lives based on someone else’s view of whom we should be or who we are capable of becoming. Yet, others may find it less complicated to define them based on superficial outcomes that really do not address the question about who we really are. Some people define themselves based on their social status, careers, children, lifestyles, designer clothes, fine neighborhoods, Ivy League degrees, or stock options.
When you become more self-aware, you gain the ability to understand yourself. The better you understand yourself, the more able you are to accept and then change who you are. When you refuse to accept the truth about yourself, the longer you will live in a state of denial. You will continue to do things the way you always have and expect different results. You will change the outcomes in your life when you accept your role in changing your outcomes. Then you will not let negative external forces shape who you are.
Change Your Paradigm
We gain the power to beat the odds when we decide to get serious about changing our lives and living fulfilled lives, thus we must change our paradigm about who we are. Who we are depends on our paradigm. The word paradigm literally refers to a frame of reference. It generally refers to the way we see things; the way we view the world; the way we understand things, our perceptions. In other words, if you believe; therefore, it is true. It is seeing and believing.
If you believe the statistical odds are stacked against you, your paradigm will control your fate. For example: You were born in the ghetto; therefore, you will live in the ghetto for the rest of your life. Your parents worked for minimum wages; therefore, the same fate awaits you. You are a single teenage mother; therefore, you will live on public assistance for the rest of your life. You are a cocaine addict who sells your body for the next fix; therefore, you will never be able to turn your life around. Your father left when you were a child and your mother worked as a domestic to put food on the table; therefore, you are destined to work as an unskilled laborer.
The difference between the person who overcomes life’s challenges, and the person who remains in the quagmire of pain and suffering, is the changing of the paradigm. Stephen R. Covey, in his best-selling book entitled: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People refers to this change as a “paradigm shift.”
If you refuse to believe the negative predictions, by changing your own negative paradigm, you will discover that there are changes that you can make to literally beat the odds. In other words, “you cannot change what you fail to acknowledge.” The challenge that you will face is trying to sort through all of the negative experiences and figure out what you must do to release your power and beat the odds.
You can beat the odds when you change your paradigm. It is possible to make a paradigm shift, but you must first consider that the change begins with you. After you admit that the way that you think “might” have something to do with your negative experiences, you will be well on your way to figuring out what you must do to change the way that you think.
If you do not like your outcomes, you must change your paradigm. If you are unwilling to change your paradigm, you will keep getting the same results.
A classic example was aired on a television broadcast of the Oprah Winfrey Show. Oprah’s friend, Gayle King, went on a quest to find the best places to meet single men over thirty-five. Another guest on the show was David Zinczenko, the editor in chief of Men’s Health magazine, who presented the results of extensive research on the subject that he detailed in his book entitled: Men, Love, and Sex: The Complete User’s Guide for Women. Zinczenko cited ways to increase the likelihood of women to meet eligible men.
As one might expect, Zinczenko’s research showed that one way to meet eligible men was to look presentable when they leave home. I found it most interesting that several women stated that they either did not believe that they had to always look presentable or that they were unwilling to change in order to meet eligible men.
The great paradox is that many people keep doing the same thing, while expecting different results. Albert Einstein said that insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” You don’t have to be a genius to understand that you may need to shift your paradigms or you will continue to get the same undesirable outcomes.