Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The middle ground in All or Nothing.


In some aspects of life, we behave like ‘brainwashed animals’. Programmed to react through influences of what we see, hear and read (instead of what we feel), we have embraced a dangerous attitude, which began with the most detrimental punch line of the 90’s ‘show me the money’. Those four harmless words would soon pave the way for a much larger and worrisome character trait entitled ‘all or nothing’ Examples of ‘all or nothing’ run the gamut from bankrupt sports teams, striking workers, eating disorders, failed marriages, to chapter 11 declarations and conform to the monopolistic tendencies of the masses.

If a team doesn’t make the playoffs in two and win the title in five, we write them off - if they make it, we support. If people do not experience the instant gratification of ‘upward mobility’ they’re gone (why stay at a “dead end job”). We embrace ‘all or nothing’ for two reasons. Foremost we compare our situations to a fictitious standard created by a fictitious ‘ideal character’ comprised of traits chipped off fictitious ‘ideal blocks’. “With that pitcher, our team would be perfect, with a larger house, our family would be perfect, if I just had more money, my life would be perfect, I would look perfect if I was ten pounds lighter” and the list goes on. There is no standard of perfect.

The perfect life for you isn’t one you read about, aspire to, compare with or wish for. It’s the one you live each day. If sports teams were perfect, games would be scoreless. If you earned double what you earn now, you would strive for double of what you earn then and if people were perfect, we would all be equals. We are not. We must learn to define perfect for ourselves based on our own values, beliefs and behaviors.

Secondly, we are taught to think “all or nothing”. The emphasis on winning & earning, accumulating & taking and the here & now can be seen heard read and inferred through multiple sources of media outlets. From the minute we watch a loonie tune cartoon, hear of a preposterous sports contract or learn of another strike, we jump on that roller coaster for the quick highs and drawn out lows. Really, what does our subscription to all or nothing weekly give us? An acute loss of perspective and a false sense of reality that both lead to disappointment. Eventually the player leaves for a larger contract, the create a position is cut out when companies need to save money and the greener grass on the other side of the domestic fence has the same brown sun spots as yours did.

When we embrace ‘all or nothing,’ we risk missing the something’s along the way. Life is a culmination of something’s. There is no answer, no right way / wrong way and no one has ‘figured out’. It’s not meant to be figured out and that’s the beauty of the journey. Don’t subscribe to the outside influences, find the balance that makes you the happiest, and trade in your roller coaster pass for a consistency card. Its time to embrace the fundamentals and get back to the only guarantee we need in life.

Hard work will be rewarded.

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