How You Create Your Reality
We want a better life. A more fulfilled life. A different life. But getting “there” from where we are now mystifies us. We have no idea how to go about it. Where do we begin?
With a basic truth: Creating the reality we want always includes making choices and change. Not just making the decision to change, but actually putting those changes into action. Which means we must accept some facts that are critical to our success.
Change is continuous. Constant. Yet at times seems as if it will never come. And then it does. Sometimes with a whisper and sometimes with a lion’s roar. Welcome or unwelcome, change comes, which raises an important-to-us-all- individually question: Can you pinpoint a single, unexpected or expected, moment in time that changed your life? A single event or incident, or a series of either, that changed you forever?
Perhaps some significant event occurred, or you gained some new insight or lived some new experience that changed your perspective or the way you viewed things.
When we think of singular moments that define our lives, we think of the major events. The death of a spouse, a parent, or a child. Survival of some potentially devastating medical news. An unexpected cataclysmic event such as a terrorist attack. Maybe the loss of a job, the closing of the business employing us, or something that impacts our life in such a huge way, we can’t miss it or play down its impact. To us, the event or incident is akin to running full-out and headlong into a stone wall.
Those life events do have profound effect. But they’re not the only moments that can be significant enough to incite an irrevocable change in us. And those changes can be physical (altering our physical state), emotional (altering our emotional balance), or spiritual (altering our beliefs and/or perspective).
We all have these types of life-defining moments. Some major, some minor. Yet when we ponder these moments in abstract terms, we think they’re only huge events. That’s simply not true. Instead, we find the most significant keys are often not in huge events but in small, seemingly insignificant ones that truly define to us who we are and who we choose to be.
As you’d expect, these defining moments don’t all happen at once, but are sprinkled in over the course of our lives. Throughout our lives, we’re presented with, or stumble upon, opportunities to make choices or to change our minds on previous choices we’ve made. That’s a good thing, because sometimes we take wrong turns, or as my darling daughter would put it, “We don’t make wise choices.” So we’re given chances to make better ones, to redefine ourselves.
Let me share a few examples.
In second grade, I had a buffalo head nickel and a comic book that said the nickel was worth a lot more than a nickel. We also had a jar on the window ledge in our classroom that was for donations to feed the hungry. I had to choose. Do I keep the nickel for myself or put it in the jar to help others?
That doesn’t seem like a monumental choice, does it? A little thing for a little girl. But it was a life-defining moment. I could put my wants/needs first or trust I’d be all right (a spiritual leap of faith) and try to help others. I knew this choice mattered. Something inside me told me this was a big, significant decision. I chose the jar. And that choice became a theme in my life. Oh, I didn’t define it as one then. But it influenced my outlook and focus and future decisions until as an adult service to others became a conscious way of life.
At seven, I chose the jar. And that one decision put me on a path that had me adopting “I Serve” as a personal motto. Still today, when I can and as best I am able, I seek to help and serve others.
At about twenty, I went through a season of struggle. Money was tight, medical challenges arose, and, well, let’s just say that everything was a struggle. I went into a drugstore and made a small purchase. The salesclerk gave me $20 too much change. That was a lot of money then; a week’s worth of groceries. Gas for the car for a month. I was broke and times were hard and I had to choose: keep the $20 or tell the clerk she’d made a mistake. Temptation was strong, powerful, and a mental war began and then raged. Simply put, this was a life-defining moment and I knew it. Instinctively, intuitively, I knew it.
That money would have made my life a lot easier, but my conscience would have hammered me. Right there in the checkout line at the drugstore, I had to make a life-altering decision: What kind of person did I want to be? It wasn’t easy—I tried to convince myself it was a gift from God to help me through the hard time. But to gain at someone else’s expense? It wasn’t right. So, hard as it was, I chose to be honest and gave the money back to the clerk. Life-defining. I left the store with a stronger sense of self and a clean conscience. And I felt good because I’d battled temptation to do what was easy and chosen to do what was right.
Later still in life, as a wife and a mother, I went grocery shopping and put a book in the top part of the cart so the cold stuff wouldn’t get it wet. I plunked my handbag down atop it and shopped. When I finished gathering items, I checked out, paid for the groceries and then went to my car. After unloading the cart, I lifted my purse and I saw the book. I hadn’t paid for it. I checked the receipt to be sure, but sure enough, the book wasn’t on it. Yet another life-defining moment. One where again I knew it was such a moment and held a choice I had to make. Did I get in the car or go back into the store and pay for the book?
I went back and paid for the book. I still wanted to be an honest person. I didn’t want to feel like a thief every time I walked into that store, and if I hadn’t gone back and paid for it, I would have.
Those are three little examples of life-changing moments. Nothing earth-shattering. Nothing life-treatening. Nothing huge or major. Yet they’re all significant because they forced me into a decision where I defined myself.
In the grand scheme of things, these were little things. A nickel, twenty dollars, a paperback novel—none or even all are fortune-making or breaking. But they are character-making or breaking. That makes them extremely important. How we view ourselves is vital to us.
Note that in each case, I was totally aware that I had to choose. I had to decide how I would define my life. And I knew I alone was responsible for the decisions I made.
We all have life-changing moments that define us to ourselves—and often to others. Many moments. Huge and small. I didn’t always make the right choices. But I have always been given more opportunities to change my mind and make wiser choices. We all are.
My point? In many instances, we choose. We define. We create ourselves by the choices we make. We might have endured horrific things, wicked events in our lives where we have every reason—some would say every justification for being adults lacking character. But the truth is, we become adults. As adults, we experience life-changing moments where no matter what we’ve endured or suffered or experienced, we decide and define ourselves. We innately know our options, good or bad and right or wrong, and we choose.
Our decisions define us. We are the people we choose to be in the ways that most matter. We create ourselves and our lives by the collective choices we make.
A lesson from my daughter: choose wisely. You will live with the series of choices you make.
Your choices define your character. And your character defines how you see yourself. That is the image of you that you project to others in hundreds of ways all day every day. That is the reality of your life.
Pause today, and ask yourself some hard questions: What moments have changed your life? Defined you? Who have you chosen to be?
Consider this an opportunity to revisit your choices and if you like what you see, great. If not, then make wiser choices. Ones that fit the person you are now, the person you want to be, and not the person you once were but aren’t anymore.
Choose. Define. Create your reality. That reality is your life.
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© 2016, Vicki Hinze. Vicki Hinze is the award-winning bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest release is The Marked Star. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s website: www.vickihinze.com. Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact. Subscribe to Vicki’s Monthly Newsletter!