Excerpt From the Chapter:
First Things First: The Stepping Stones to Our Potential
Have you ever had those vivid dreams where everything seemed so real and tangible that you were surprised to find yourself waking up?
Such dreams are sometimes so good that we are upset to be woken up before we finish them--while other vivid dreams are a relief to wake up and be free from! And we might find some dreams give us something to think about in instances where they might reflect current issues in our lives.
In many ways, life itself can be similar to these vivid dreams in that sometimes we will “wake up to” or discover something that materially, tangibly and completely changes the thoughts and perceptions we had just a short while ago.
In waking up to newly acquired information, truth or reality, we are also changing from one way of thinking, awareness and understanding, to another. This shift in perception, and therefore the adjustment in actions and choices, is essentially what it means to grow and change as a human being.
Unless, of course, we choose to stay in denial and don’t acknowledge, verify or adapt to the reality/truth of a situation when it is presented to us. I have heard it said that the truth is a two-edged sword that cuts both ways.
And so, sometimes the information we discover or the harsh realities we now have to face are unpleasant and “burst our bubble”, while other times we learn those things which open up opportunities, possibilities and which help us “get to that next level”.
Most of us have experienced that interesting phenomenon which takes place whenever we become aware of something new (to us). As soon as we learn of something that a lot of other people already seem to know about, suddenly we will find that, everywhere we go, we hear, see and notice that which we were blind to before.
This is of great advantage to us, of course, because it gives us the opportunity to make use of, or to avoid if necessary, what we are now aware of. Because sometimes, these will be literal objects and obstacles in the road; or false illusions and entrapping mazes in the world at large, which we never noticed before, even though we are surrounded by them.
How gratifying it is to discover keys that open great windows of possibility in our minds, and those keys which unlock huge doors of opportunity in our lives!
Like Russian nesting dolls, our expanding awareness will form new layers of knowledge and levels of understanding about specific subject matters and about the world at large,
which can be put to our advantage. As long as we are willing to seek and to be taught, a wonderful thing happens where our questions will be answered, and we will find what we seek.
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks, finds; and to him that knocks, it shall be opened.” (Matthew ch. 7)
Knowledge, I have found, likes to travel with a full entourage. Most subject matters are connected and interrelated to other fields of knowledge, and on many different levels.
Therefore, one piece of information always seems to lead to another, and that to a library of references, which itself opens the way to another subject matter, and so on, to even more information, knowledge and wisdom. That’s if one is willing, eager to learn, and also to apply, of course.
For example, by learning the benefits and properties of specific food groups, you can use that information to supply a balanced and nutritious diet for yourself, and can alleviate specific digestive/health problems by avoiding the foods your body is intolerant to.
On the other hand, if you have the same information and the same food intolerance, and yet choose to keep indulging in these eating habits, you might keep getting sick because of the food you know will not be easy on your body.
In the long term, a person’s lifestyle, eating and drinking habits might result in various digestive or respiratory problems, diseases and chronic conditions. Denial or wilful blindness can have enormous physical, personal and social repercussions!
Someone who isn’t aware of their options or the real consequences of these different options cannot really be said to have a choice. However, once we become aware and awake to the relevant information or truth, it becomes our decision and choice.
We get to choose whether to stay still or to take steps forward; to turn right or to go left; to do things differently or to keep repeating the old patterns of behaviour. Will we seek instruction and learning? Are we focused on our ego, pride or vanity? Do we have ears to hear and eyes to see? It’s entirely up to us!
At the same time, it should be taken into consideration that, while there will be some people who choose not to apply the valuable information available to them; it is often the case that we make the wrong decisions because the information available to us is somehow incomplete, ‘doctored and manipulated’, or completely false.
Every day we receive massive amounts of information and messages from television, movies, music, social media and the internet; from the news, radio, newspapers and from advertisers; from the government, educational institutions, and religious organizations; from concerned activists, consumer advocates, and from lobbyist groups. And we get input from random people, co-workers, from family, loved ones and friends.
We further get our information and opinions from the leaders of any particular group, association or society we willingly align ourselves with. Input from so many places! This is why it is essential that we verify the source and the authenticity of any information presented to us before we accept it.
It is essential that we verify and double check our sources and the information we receive because in many areas of life, choosing one path or another course of action can have dramatically different consequences in our lives, and can affect us for many numbers of years.
Any opinions expressed in this book about the necessity of balance, self-analysis or improvement in a person’s life, relationships or family are given with the understanding that every person has their own set of circumstances and life situations which must be taken into consideration.
For this reason, it is up to the individual to find the different quantities of the ingredients to the recipe that works for their individual self.
My biggest hope for my writings and the thoughts articulated in this book is that they will be helpful in strengthening, re-enforcing and encouraging the positive qualities which already exist in us; while at the same time, encouraging discussion, dialogue and action on various and relevant topics which need to be addressed.
One such topic that needs to be addressed is how much the sensory overload from too much stimuli affects all of us, and the younger generation in particular. Impressionable young people, for instance, might be taken in (to a surprisingly high extent) by the wholly manufactured images that are presented to them through mixed media.
They are greatly influenced and sometimes even mesmerized by the movies and TV shows they watch, the video games they play, the “lifestyles of the rich and famous” portrayed by the celebrities they idolize, as well as the popular culture and the fame they are eager to imitate and pursue, (even many adults are seduced by this lure too).
To the extent that children and young adults believe these manufactured, scripted, choreographed and highly edited images, video games and shows, to be real and desirable, they might then make choices in their everyday lives which can affect them greatly and even change the course of their lives in negative ways.
Such decisions might include many peer-pressured activities or “glamorous lifestyles” which lead to undesirable results: curious experimentation which can turn into an addiction to hard drugs or alcohol; teenage pregnancies, and/or sexually transmitted diseases.
They might drop out of school to pursue fame and stardom, a desire which never materializes into reality (perhaps because the talent didn’t match the ambition or because they were unprepared for the dedication and hard work necessary in the world of show-business); and overall they might develop feelings of low-esteem, shame, failure and unfulfillment, even in adulthood.
Or, rash decisions and such experimentation with drugs, alcohol or the wrong peer groups might lead to theft, robberies, drug-dealing and street fights which escalate into serious crimes, violence and jail time; or reckless behaviour and drunk driving which turns into manslaughter.
It is true, of course, that some of these actions and end-results might also have been influenced by and have their roots in poverty, broken homes, mental illness and so on. I do recognize that these issues can be complicated.
I am simply articulating some of the factors which influence and impact the minds of young people; and I believe we should not underestimate the immense pressures faced by young people today.
We need to understand, therefore, that peer pressure and relying on false information isn’t limited to children, so we adults also need to be aware of the news and information we absorb and the people we spend much of our time with.
The kinds of folks we surround ourselves with will have an effect on us, and will likely influence some of the decisions we make, the places we frequent, the language we use and the activities we get involved in.
The wisdom of the wise tells us it is always better to consciously try to spend more time with optimistic doers, calm and kind people, and those with integrity (as far as we can tell)—and less time with pessimistic gossipers, the uninformed and those with some agenda.
I have always been told, “Show me your friends, and I will show you who you are.” Just like birds of a similar kind and feather, we often flock together with those similar to us—and so we have to be conscious of our surroundings. We have to be wary of who we flock to or with, before we start acting and thinking the way they do.
“Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man you should not go; Lest you learn his ways, and get a snare to your soul.” (Proverbs ch.22
“Be not [..] one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts (guarantee for a loan).” (Proverbs ch.22)
“A froward (perverse) man sows strife (trouble): and a whisperer (gossip) separates chief friends.” (Proverbs ch.16)
“Cast out the scorner (troublemaker), and contention (disagreement) shall go out; yea, strife (problems) and reproach shall cease (stop).” (Proverbs ch.22)
Not only should we take note of the people around us, but we should also look at our own conduct and behaviour. You might want to ask yourself: “What are my priorities in life? What things do I feel are important, and what things need changing in my life?”
These could be your health and fitness; your job/career or your living situation; saving for your children’s education; starting your own business; getting out of an unfulfilling relationship; changing your self-destructive ways; developing your relationship with your Creator Father; making room in your life for quiet time, prayer and meditation; and so on...
Exploring and improving these aspects of our lives can also help us in our dealings with others (including the younger generation). We will have more of value to bring to others’ situations.
Copyright (2012) S.A. Abraham