Contarian Thinking

It is our thoughts that guide our lives.  This is a fact that the self improvement industry has mentioned for thousands of years.  It is even contained in one of the original self-help guides titled "The Bible".  Everything we see around us first started out as an idea.  Also, all the experiences we had took place in the mind.  It is here where everything is processed.

Cultural Conditioning

Our minds are influenced by those around it.  This is evident when we look at the belief system of different cultures.  What is viewed as important versus what is not is nothing more than cultural biases.  In the United States, for the most part, money and success are touted as being something everyone needs to focus upon.  However, when you look at a country like Italy, they value family and friendship a lot more than here in the United States.  These beliefs are nothing more than the influence of where we were raised.

We can take this same approach with religion.  This is the ultimate in conditioning.  Presently, there are wars waged in the world over differences in religious ideas.  Both sides, naturally, feel they are correct and are willing to kill for those beliefs.  Nevertheless, did you consider where those ideas came from.  How come someone who was raised in mid-western United States is most likely a Christian while a person in the Middle East is a Muslim?  Did each of these people actively study all the different religions before choosing one that best fit what they were looking for?  Not likely.  Studies have determined that the biggest influence upon a religion chosen is what geographic location one grew up in and the religious identification of the parents.  Isn't that interesting?  The people around us influence the beliefs and ideals that we hold.  We see this same scenario play out in regards to sports teams, political affiliation, and business ideals. 

Counter Culture

Now that we understand how those people around us affect the beliefs that we hold, here is a question worthy of consideration: are they correct?  This is something that few take the time to truly ponder.  The common path is that we will simply accept what we are taught.  It is for this reason that few people really implement change in their lives.  Following the status quo never leads to anything but slavery.

I will use the Western model since that is what I am most familiar.  Here in the United States, we are taught to go to school, study hard, get good grades, attend a good college, repeat the process there, and, upon graduation, find a good job.  The mindset of the educational system and those who go through it is to become a "good employee".  While I will admit there is nothing wrong with this path, there is little to get excited about when you consider what someone is in for.  Expanding this out, the idea is to work for 45 years or so, save money up, and retire where you can finally enjoy life.  This is the ultimate in delayed gratification.

Great breakthroughs are made by people who do not mentally accept the status quo.  People such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are examples who went counter to what people thought possible and created two of the most successful companies in the world.  At the same time, those who stray from the traditional mindset can often find more happiness and fulfillment than the person who is plugging along "because the culture says so".  This idea is exemplified by all those people who gave up lucrative careers to move to a rural area and open a bed & breakfast.  These people exchanged the prevailing wisdom for a belief system that they felt worked better for them.

Question The Norm

It is time for you to question the norm.  Please bear in mind I am not recommending you become a counter cultural misfit.  Being on the contrarian side of things just to be that way makes no more sense than blindly following the herd.  Each is grounded in the same mindset of allowing others to make decisions.  Individuality is what you are seeking.

Here are some ideas to get you going.  What are your thoughts of working a 40 hour (or more) week?  Is this the only path to take?  Do you believe that you have to wait until retirement to enjoy yourself and live the life you want?  What is it that you want to do with your life?  How do you want to spend your time?  Did you consciously choose the career that you are involved in or did you just fall into it?  How about where you live?  Would you prefer to live in another part of the nation or another country altogether?  Is there any reason why you can do this?  What would you do if money was no object?  Thinking along these lines will start your questioning what you believe.  Remember, the odds are that your belief system was established by someone else.

This is your life and you should live it as you see fit.  What is most important to you is what really matters.  Following the status quo blindly is one of the reason why so many are thoroughly unfulfilled with their lives.  They live a life of "quiet desperation".  It is time you begin to seek out other ways of doing things.  Get radical with your thinking.  Believe it or not, more is possible than you are led to believe.

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