The media is hands-down the most influential communication tool known to man. Television, radio, newspapers, magazines, social networks, and the internet tell us everything about anything we want to know wherever and whenever we want. And, for the most part, we take it at face value. That’s a lot of power! In some cases the media has sole responsibility for keeping us informed and, if we take no initiative to learn more, what it shows us is all we know.
For example, our nation is in the midst of presidential campaigns. Very often the extents of understanding some citizens have of candidates is limited to what they see of them in the media. Sounds bites, video clips, and statements are edited that often slant what is presented to meet the agenda of the editor but we accept it to be true, and even use it to dictate our voting decisions. All of this while forgetting one simple fact: mass media is a business. Revenue is produced with every magazine and newspaper we buy, with every commercial we hear and/or watch, and with every click of our keyboard to read or post a story. An eye-catching headline and half a storyline are all it really takes to draw us in as the media spoon feeds us whatever they want us to know.
So what does this have to do with purpose and legacy? A lot if you let it! The way we see the world around us directly impacts how we feel about ourselves whether for out benefit or our detriment. How we feel about ourselves then dictates our actions, what drives us, and what we desire; and it is those things that we teach the generations coming behind us. This, my friends, is what builds our legacies. So if legacy is built upon our actions, and our actions are based on how we see ourselves, and how we see ourselves is determined by how we see the world around us then whatever determines how we see the world around us has great responsibility. It’s a responsibility the media is founded on, the job of telling you “the news”. It’s a responsibility others will gladly take and use to their own advantage. Take a minute to think about the last thing you read, shared, or posted in the media. Is it consistent with your Journey to Legacy? Yes? Great! No? Change it!
Regardless of what you believe I think most people are familiar with the Biblical parable of the wheat and tares, or have at least heard of it. Basically, a man has a field and before the wheat sprouts an enemy threw in tares (or weeds) while everyone is asleep. As the field grew into a crop the workers saw that tares are growing with the wheat and the man instructed them to let them grow together and that the reapers would separate them after harvesting the crop. I was thinking about this today and had some revelation about this story and decided to blog about it. You may not see how this fits in with positive thinking and legacy but let me share with you my thoughts.
One of the things I couldn’t understand about this parable was how the workers couldn’t see that there were tares until the seeds became a crop. I’m a city girl and I know nothing about farming but I do know that weeds grow a lot faster than grass and are pretty noticeable which is why we can pull them up. To get some understanding I goggled “wheat and tares” and learned that before wheat matures it looks almost identical to tares. So, if the workers had tried to separate the wheat and tares before harvest time they very well could have destroyed some of the wheat. When I read this I was interested but thought little more about it until today. Here’s what I thought about today…
From time to time we all experience something that seems awful at first but eventually we see it was for our best. Maybe you were running late for work on a day you had an important meeting and when you were driving into work you saw a huge accident and realized if you had been on time you would have been in it. That situation is what I’ve come to call “undeveloped wheat”. This is something that at first looks like a problem but when it “matures” was actually something good (just like wheat looks like tares until it is ready to be harvested). In this way the things that would normally bring us down actually builds us up. Thinking this way forces us to find the positive side of things, to look for the lesson in the situation, to figure out the “silver lining” to the cloud.
So the next time something happens and it frustrates you, or angers you, or puts you on edge just think of it as “undeveloped wheat” and keep yourself together until the harvest.
I was once told by someone that I act like I don’t have a care in the world. And, based on this blog, you probably think I’m coasting through life with a smile and no problems. HA! If only our lives were truly as others perceive them. In reality I am an everyday person with everyday problems. In fact, on a given day the circumstances of my life may seem worse than yours. If I sat down with you today and told you all the things going on behind the smile you might just give me a hug and even say a little prayer for me (say one right now while you’re thinking about it, thanks). If I looked at my current situation through the eyes of reality I’d probably break down and quit. Fortunately, I actually walk what I talk on this blog.
Every now and again I like to remind my readers that keeping a positive mindset is far from easy and that having a positive mindset will not cancel out all life’s troubles. Positive thinking simply allows you to shift your perspective on the things you encounter throughout the day so you can continue to push forward. Think of it like a bank account. You deposit money into your bank account so when you need to make a withdrawal you have enough to cover the costs. In the same way you fill your mind with positive thoughts so when you need a withdrawal (i.e. when something unpleasant happens) you have enough to cover the charge. And, just like you work to earn the money you deposit, sometimes you have to work to create positive thoughts. You may need to read something inspiring (like this blog!), spend some quality time with your family, or engage in your favorite pastime; something that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy and takes your mind off the bad stuff. We all have something that works for us. If you don’t, try out some new things and find something.
Just remember, even the folks you think have great lives have something lacking they desire to obtain. As a Facebook post I once read says “Every person you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about”. So when I encourage you to think well I am also encouraging myself. We’re all in this thing called Life together and if we come together we can all get through it with a smile.
By now you’ve put some thought into your purpose. It’s human nature to wonder why we were born and to contemplate the reason for our existence. Enlightenment, Self Actualization, or whatever you call it, the idea is that all people at some point in life think about their purpose.
I like to think there is something special that can only be done by one particular person. That, while there may be many people who can do what you do, you are the only person that can do it the way you do it. No other person on this Earth has had the exact same life and experience as you. No one else has the exact same motives, the exact same dreams, and the exact some motivation as you. Therefore, there is a perspective on any given situation that only you can give by adding the value of your life experience. Purpose, I believe, lies within that fact.
When we say something was done “on purpose” we are suggesting that what was done was not by accident. That the action was done intentionally and with a motive and that the person doing the action did so by choice. In the same way your unique life is “on purpose”. Everything that has ever happened to you occurred for a reason and with intent. I am not a believer in fate or coincidence. I am a believer that life itself is a series of causes and effects that either help or hinder us from fulfilling our purpose in life. Think about it for a moment. Think about those situations in your life that have played a pivotal role in the person you are today. Some of them were pleasant, some of them painful, but all of them either taught you a lesson or provided you with a skill or insight that you previously lacked. I know it may be hard to think of painful and negative experiences as pushing us towards our purpose but let’s really think about this idea.
How many people who you admire have some great obstacle that they had to overcome? I’d venture to say the answer to that question is ALL OF THEM. And if you asked, most will tell you that the obstacle helped to propel them or to motivate them to become who they are today. It occurred “on purpose”.
So the next time something unpleasant happens, think for a second about how it impacts your purpose. It may not be clear at the time, in fact it will probably be a challenge to figure out how the situation benefits you at all. But remember the idea that all things happen “on purpose” and at some point you will understand why.
Romaine A. Wright