You can’t “create your world” but you can do better.

July 22, 2011 by Joshua
in Blog, Tips

I don’t like most new age thinking. I consider it vague, misleading, and often vacuous. I prefer more precise thinking and communication, particularly when the subject is understanding yourself and your environment. Clarity and precision take more effort, but they pay off by making you more effective and productive.

For example, new agers say things like “you create your world.” I understand what they intend. I like the message of responsibility. I think believing you create your world can lead you to improvements over many alternatives.

But the statement is vague. It implies you can create a world without gravity if you want to fly. Flying sounds fun, and with my science background I’m open to discovering holes in our present knowledge that would allow us to escape the effects of gravity, but I don’t think a statement that says you can create whatever world you want helps people improve their lives.

Why not put the extra effort in and create a more meaningful statement?

Here’s how I look at it.

  1. As social creatures, other people are a big part of our worlds. Therefore changing the people in our lives effectively changes our worlds.
  2. Changing our environments, beliefs, and behavior will result in changing the people in our lives.
  3. People are attracted to people with lifestyles they like and repelled by people with lifestyles they dislike.
  4. Making our behavior more consistent with our emotions will result in people in our lives who resonate with us — that is, with whom we mutually enjoy ourselves.

The result of these points is that the more your environments, beliefs, and behaviors match the emotions you want in life, the more the people in your life share your lifestyle and the less people who clash with it are there to clash with it.

This perspective implies you can create your social world. To me, that statement is more meaningful than “you can create your world” and gives you a more effective strategy to live by, which is to be as aware as you can of your emotions and emotional system and to live consistently with it. Then you can create a social world that brings you emotional reward.

Another way to refine the statement that “you create your world” is to recognize that, however objective the world is, your only experience of it is through your senses, which are limited and fallible and influenced by your beliefs, which are biased. On the other hand, you can control your senses by how you direct your attention and choose your environments. You can choose your beliefs as well.

The upshot is that you can choose how you experience your environment. That’s not the same as creating your world, but it can feel the same. Still, I wouldn’t say you can create your world — more like you can control how you experience it. That leads to a strategy I’ve written about before: “always interpret everything positively,” which I have found helpful.

Anyway, I wouldn’t say you can create your own world, but I would say you can do better: you can say you can create your social world or you can control how you experience your world. I think these refinements help you improve your life more.

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3 responses on “You can’t “create your world” but you can do better.

  1. A speaker noted, “Make a list of the 7 people closest to you, and realize that you will become an average of them.” I made the list. I made a choice to spend less time with one person.
    Then, I made a decision to get closer to Pat, who was in her final years of living with MS. She was still filling her ESL classroom, standing room-only, 45 days before she died. She LIVED! right up until she didn’t.

  2. Creating one’s own social world means one can fill it not just with life but with LIFE! … or whatever someone values in his or her social circle.

    Many people passively allow their social worlds to happen without actively creating them. They don’t realize the ability and control they have. To me the new age lingo makes it less clear that all you have to do is change whom you spend time with.

  3. Pingback: » Communication skills exercises, part II: Body language Joshua Spodek

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