Imagine if you were suddenly given a clean slate, and nothing you had ever done in the past could haunt you. Going forward, you are incapable of making bad decisions. Regardless of what you do, it cannot be considered wrong. How do you feel? Perhaps empowered? Relieved? Rejuvenated? As unrealistic as it seems, this is possible, and the simple methodology behind it is taught by personal life coaches around the world.
There are No Wrong Choices
The Western thought-process has taught us to question everything. We excessively worry about whether we’re buying the best car, moving to the right place, and choosing ideal people to spend time with. You may fret for days or weeks over a single decision, but, in the end, there will be pros and cons regardless.
There are Results of Your Actions
Cultures throughout the world believe in the same underlying message. In his book, “Kindness, Clarity, and Insight,” The Dalai Lama explains it as, “If you act well, things will be good, and if you act badly, things will be bad.” This is the very pretense of karma- it’s not something that “gets you” if you’ve made a poor choice. The choices you make have consequences, whether good or bad. The same concept is taught through “You reap what you sow,” or in Jewish tradition, performing a mitzvah. If you had one, your personal life coach would teach you to hone in on the results you wish to achieve, and to choose your actions accordingly.
Inaction is an Action
In an effort to avoid making the “wrong choice,” or to avoid conflict, we sometimes choose not to act. This, in and of itself, is still an action, and consequences follow. One of the greatest examples of this in recent history occurred on September 11, 2011, when President Bush was informed of the attacks. Regardless of your beliefs, you must concede that Americans everywhere dissected the president’s seven minutes of non-action. Books have been written, videos have been posted, and speeches have been given, with each person attempting to explain the behavior and the consequences that followed. On a smaller scale, it’s likely that you’ve opted to avoid entering a dispute between coworkers or friends. This, too, had consequences. Perhaps you’ve also passed a stranded motorist without pausing, or fiddled with the radio to avoid making eye contact with a homeless person while stopped at a light. Your choice not to stop was an action, and the consequence of it was that the individual was left without help.
The Consequences of Your Actions are Far-Reaching
In the movie, “The Butterfly Effect,” Robert Redford’s character explains, “A butterfly can flutter its wings over a flower in China and cause a hurricane in the Caribbean.” Although the plot is fictional, the concept comes from mathematician and meteorologist Edward Lorenz. As the pioneer of chaos theory, Lorenz used mathematical models to show that a slight change in atmosphere could drastically change a weather prediction. Although the butterfly by itself, would not cause a hurricane, as “The Butterfly Effect” movie insinuated, it could affect other events as they unfolded, and alter the overall outcome. On a sociological level, person-to-person interactions can have similar results. Take, for example, a man in North Carolina who handed two girls in a restaurant $50 each. The man told the girls to “do something kind” with the money, and left it at that. The girls used the money to support a small village in Africa, and dozens of people on the other side of the world benefitted.
Choose to Pay it Forward
Each day, in everything you do, you are making choices, and the results of those choices shape the world around you. One Georgia woman’s single act of random kindness brightened the days of 215 people, when she opted to pay for the meal of the customer behind her in a Chick-fil-A restaurant. Instead of merely accepting the gesture, literally hundreds of people made the choice to pay for the meal of the next person in line. Of course, it wasn’t about the free food at all. One individual “flapped her wings” and more than 200 people were uplifted. There’s obviously no way to know how many other acts of kindness were inspired by this single gesture, though it’s quite likely the people affected carried their renewed generosity with them throughout the day.
What You Do Comes Back to You
There’s a theory initially proposed by poet and playwright Frigyes Karinthy, which most people know as six-degrees of separation. The general idea of it is that our world is so interconnected, that any two people can be linked by following a path of six or fewer friends or acquaintances. Nearly 100 years later, sociologists Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler proposed the three degrees of influence theory. Due to advances in technology and social networking, it’s believed that our actions and behaviors not only shape those directly linked to us, but also their friends, and their friend’s friends. Facebook actually tested this theory, by populating the feeds of 700,000 users with mostly positive or negative messages. Although the public was largely outraged by the psychological experiment, the conclusion was that those who saw more negative posts also began to post negatively, and those who saw happier posts responded accordingly. In short, we mirror the world around us, and the world reflects our actions as well.
Although it can take some personal coaching and mindfulness, it is possible to change your course and create a positive environment around you. Out of all the coaching and leadership lessons you could learn, it all comes down to this: You are in control of your environment, of the things that happen in your life, and of the way people respond to you. Whether you choose to perform a mitzvah, a random act of kindness, or generate good karma, the result is the same.
You now have a clean slate, and you can make no wrong choices. What will you choose to do with the opportunities given to you?