Are you a product of your environment?
You wake up in the morning. You look outside your window and you see dark clouds looming in the sky. By the glimpse of it, you know right away that it is going to be a long gloomy day. You check the news and you see the number of COVID cases rising, you feel scared and sad. On your way to work, someone recklessly cut in front of your car on the road. You got furious and you spent the rest of the day in a bad mood.
In a different scenario, your sports team has just won the championship. As a result, you feel ecstatic the whole week. How about when your crush complimented your new hair? For sure, you will be on cloud nine for days.
These scenarios are examples of how people become products of their environment. You may not like the idea but if you can relate to any of the situations, then you have been influenced by your environment. Although the degree of effect differs from one person to another; our thoughts, actions, behaviors, beliefs, emotions, feelings and habits are all dictated and influenced by external events. Eternal events are events that we do not have control over.
- “I can’t do that”
- “If only I have more money”
- “I don’t have the time”
- “It’s because the economy is not good”
- “If only my boss is a little bit understanding”
- “If only I have a better job”
- “My parents forced me to take this course”
Sounds familiar? You will normally hear these statements from reactive people. Reactive people are people that allow external events to control their lives. By being reactive to situations, we become victims of our environment. We absolve ourselves from responsibility. Instead, what we do is we let the outside situation control the direction of our lives.
Aside from external events, the people around you also have the power to influence your thoughts, beliefs and decisions. Successful author and motivation speaker Jim Rohn stated that you are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.
Whether you like it or not, your peer group, normally the five people closest to you, are the people that influence you the most – from the food that you eat, to the clothes that you wear, even to the major decisions in your life. Peer pressure is not just true for teenagers, it is something that everyone can experience regardless of age. If your peer group has a negative mindset, chances are you also have a negative mindset. How you look at things is important because your mindset affects the direction of your life.
Instead of worrying about things that you cannot control, focus on things that you can control to change your situation. This is what proactive people do. Stephen Covey, author of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People defined proactive people as persons who take responsibility for their lives. They are not mere products of their environment, instead they consciously choose to control their own lives. Proactive people choose happiness and success. They choose to have a positive attitude.
If you don’t wish to become a mere product of your environment, you can choose to become stronger and be highly selective on what you will allow yourself to be influenced with. You can choose to be sad, angry and frustrated or you can opt to become happy and grateful instead. In the same way, you can choose to wallow in self-pity and remain a victim all your life or you can do something to change your situation.
It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.-Epictetus
You can control your life better and reach your goals easier if only you can become a little choosy with the people you spend most of your time with. It needs to be a conscious decision on your part to hang out more with positive minded individuals. This does not mean dumping your old friends and family. They will forever have a special place in your heart but devote most of your time to positive individuals.
Don’t be just a mere product of your environment. Stop playing the victim. Take responsibility for your life. Choose to be happy and successful.
Click here to get a copy of the Take Control of Your Life worksheet.
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First published in Pinoy Smart Living on 07.12.2019