It strikes me that we can be one of two things. We are either part of the problem or part of the solution. There is not really any middle ground as far as I can tell. Whether it’s in your close relationships, parenting, work, career, the way you live, your values, the words you say, the attitude you carry around, or your approach to life.
It applies to absolutely everything in life. It ranges from everything about what you have for breakfast to climate change. It affects every relationship you’ll ever be in or have been in.
Now you might ask, what problem are you talking about Steve? And what solution? In every area of life, we make choices. And those choices have the power to make the world a better place or a not so better place.
Now you might also ask, what difference does it make whether I choose to put the green sheets on the bed or the blue ones? Surely not everything is a problem or a solution? But here’s the thing. It’s in the way you think, act, and yes, what colour sheets you choose, that makes the difference. It’s not only what you do but how you do it that matters.
Are you putting those sheets on your bed consciously, and are you just blathering through the day without thinking or caring?
You see, the way you choose the sheets on your bed, is the way you will choose how the rest of your day goes, what your relationships are like, and how you show up in the world around you. It’s about the way you do life.
When I wake in the morning, if I just fall out of bed, stumble to the toilet, take a piss, stumble to the kitchen, and make my morning coffee, what does it matter right! It’s this – how you start the day is how you will continue it.
Now of course each of those actions might not affect anyone in and of themselves. No one actually cares whether you have black coffee or juice in the morning. But when you continue to take that same approach into your day, your relationships, your work, your business, your intimate partnership, into the rest of your life, it does start to play itself out.
“Get conscious” is what I’m saying.
Being conscious, being awake, living with awareness, is what will make your relationships better, is what will make your day better, is what will make your interactions better, is what will make the world a better place to live in, and is what will make you a better person to be around.
How do I know this?
Try ignoring your wife for a day. Try being ignorant of your actions, not caring, not thinking, not considering anyone but yourself when you’re at work. Try being an asshole for a day and see what happens. Actually, no don’t do that, just take my word for it.
The way you walk in the door at the end of a day, is an opportunity to either be part of the problem or part of the solution. What problem? What solution? The problem of being unaware. The solution of being conscious.
Here’s a quick story about Max and Charlene to illustrate what I mean.
Max gets home from work, dumps his bag, kisses his wife hello and sits down. His wife Charlene asks “what are your plans for tonight”. He says, “nothing much, just going to the gym after dinner, I’ve got an early start tomorrow”.
She questions him on whether it’s a good idea to go to the gym late, if he has to get to bed early, as it would keep him awake. Max misses the fact that Charlene is laying down on the bed when he gets home. Max doesn’t notice her tiredness. Max misses something between her words.
Here’s what he missed before he walked in the door. She was tired, she’d been looking after the kids all afternoon, running around, preparing dinner, and was hoping to spend at least some time with him that evening. Max was not conscious in that moment. He had eyes only for himself and he misses the signals.
All Charlene knows is that Max is busy doing ‘his own thing’ – dinner, gym, bed. Charlene likes the fact that going to the gym is part of Max looking after his body. But in that moment, in that context, her needs are not being considered. All Charlene knows is that she’s not going to see much of Max that night, and he’d be up early and gone again in the morning.
In other words, he’s absent.
Even without any ill intent, Max had little or no awareness about what was actually happening. You see, Max was not part of the solution. Max was part of the problem.
Take this a step further, Max gets pissed off, an argument erupts, they don’t speak for the rest of the night, and the two of them are in damage control. Repeat and rinse that for a few years, and Max and Charlene become another divorce statistic.
Could Charlene have communicated better? Probably. But awareness is curative.
So long story short, Max did become aware enough to pause and pivot. He slowly picks up on his wife’s unease, and makes a different choice, one that considers her needs and the family. He stays home, the gym will still be there tomorrow. He helps finish preparing dinner, making sure that they all sit down and eat together as a family (which he knows is a value important to his wife). They talk as a family around the table, and after dinner, he spends some time talking with his wife about her day.
Now he’s part of the solution.
It’s not that Max panders to his wife. It’s that Max rises up, takes responsibility, and acts like the husband, the Dad, the man he needs to be in that moment. Max shows up for her and for himself.
But it took his wife getting frustrated and him to getting conscious to do that. What could he have done differently to avoid the tension altogether, and help make his wife feel heard and supported?
I’ll leave you to think about that.
You see, living as part of the solution means making the world a better place for you and for everyone around you. Whether it’s how you arrive home from work, whether it’s how you speak with colleagues, whether it’s how you parent, whether it’s how you are with your mates, whether it’s when you go to the gym.
I believe to be part of the solution is the call of every man. It’s the call to get conscious. It’s the call to get aware. It’s the call to take responsibility.
It’s the call to be a creator of your own world and make it a better place because you’re in it.
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