Do you want to know how to recognize your ego? It’s the thing you define yourself by. If we asked your friends what your defining narrative is, they would quickly know. They would say that you define yourself as someone who was embittered by your ex’s behaviour during your divorce. Or maybe they would say that you believe you work with a lot of unintelligent people so you are perpetually frustrated by your co-workers. Or maybe you’re always broke, always afraid, easily offended, or no good at business. We can be highly judgmental, thin-skinned, martyrs, babies, control freaks, weirdos—whatever. Whoever we think we are, we are.
You can even be held back by your Fibromyalgia or be suffering from Major Depression. Your narrative may be based in scientific fact. Or it may not appear to be true to others, but that’s irrelevant. Even if you really do have terminal cancer or debilitating back pain, all that matters is: how do you see yourself? Because guaranteed I can find you people in all of those situations who are thinking appreciative thoughts, so they will be leading lives they will perceive as fortunate.
There have been plenty of people who felt their life was meaningless, boring and largely unfortunate, and then then end up in some Third World circumstances like Haiti after the earthquake, or maybe they’re in Thailand after the tsunami, or Japan after Fukishima. Maybe they’re in an accident, or they’re fortunate to beat cancer. Suddenly they come back to their own life with a spring in their step. The very same life they had previously complained about suddenly seems extremely fortunate and wonderful.
I’m not saying you’re not really in pain. I’m not saying you don’t really have challenges. I know you do because everyone does. Some people’s are highly visible, like Stephen Hawking, or Stevie Wonder. Other people’s are harder to see, like someone who has to fit the needs of a seriously ill child into an already too-busy routine. But absolutely no one gets through life without some serious challenges. But as a study on luck demonstrated, fortunate people don’t have better lives—fortunate people pay more attention to whatever good fortune does come their way.
Make it a habit. Wake up and remind yourself that you are fortunate. If you’re reading this and you earn more than even $30,000 a year, you’re already—and I mean this literally—one of the richest people on Earth. And surprisingly, if you make $60,000 you are in that famous top 1%!
If you get to see co-workers, family or friends that matter to you, remember that nature will eventually take all of them from you (or you from them). You can’t predict when that will happen, so every chance you get to see them is one less time—which makes each time important. You’re lucky every time you see them, so you want to be awake for them by feeling that gratitude. If you take them for granted you will use the present to discuss other times in your life—and the story you’ll tell the most often is that defining narrative I referred to earlier.
That narrative is built by you but it’s been subconscious, so let’s make it conscious. Wake up and decide who you are. Of course you’ll slip back to former versions of you—everyone does. Expect that. But when you have it happen, that’s your cue to go back to being the other person. Feel fortunate. Feel bountiful. Feel in a way where overflowing generosity is your nature. Feel so full that you have more for others.
You don’t become some perfect way and then achieve the world’s love. That’s backwards. How it really works is; you learn to love the world you’re already in, and the love that was always there suddenly reflects back to you through your relationships with people and your environment and yourself.
Figure out who you want to be and begin to think like you already are that person. It will feel strange at first, but do it like you’re in a play. Perform that part. And slowly over time you will come to feel comfortable, and after that you will realize that it feels no different than any other way you have been in your life. Everyone you’ve ever been was a performance in your consciousness. That’s how you can be different now than you used to be.
Your personality, traits and your results are largely in your control. All you need to do is exercise that control by ensuring you quiet any debilitating thinking and switch instead to simply being the person you’ve chosen to be by thinking their thoughts and enacting their behaviours. It’s what you’ve been doing your whole life anyway. It’s just now you’re going to do it consciously.
Become your greatest self by deciding that is you are. There’s no reason to delay. Do it right now.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.