Just your genes and your environment

I certainly enjoy the argument that “some people are just born that way.”  True, anyone reading this was born a human being.  And being human is not the same as being an avocado.  And neither is it like being a zebra – something that can’t change its stripes.  Being human means, more than any other trait, using the stuff between your ears.  Otherwise, you might as well be dinner.

One popular speaker/author has said:

    “You will be just your genes and your environment, UNLESS you make conscious positive changes to your mindset and habits.”

 He was speaking about being happy, but I believe the basic premise, that we can be – we have the ability to be more than our genes and environment – applies to all of our lives.  That would be all of us, and the entirety of our own world, our own reality, our own rice bowl.  There are limits, of course; I’m talking about staying within the window of your limits – but pushing those limits, finding the edge of those limits.  Not hiding behind what is easy, or popular, or convenient.

When I was younger, say teen-age and twenties, everyone I knew was competitive.  Like cats, we all had our “thing,” but we would stop at nothing to achieve it.  Tell us it couldn’t be done, or it wasn’t for us, and that was tantamount to pouring gasoline on a fire.  Now, looking at my sixtieth birthday, most people I know are complacent and petty.  It seems as tho the divergent world we saw forty years ago has been replaced with a convergent world; yet most of us can expect to live another thirty years, at least.  A long time to be on cruise, or worse, idle.

We bitch and moan about how “they” are doing this or that; but not how we are doing nothing.  We are resting on our laurels; which means of course that we are wearing them in the wrong place.  As kids, we didn’t care about material things and we were out to change the world; now, all we care about is material things and we hope the world leaves us alone.

If life is a race, being first out of the starting blocks is only a good start: no race was ever won by being first off the gun.  Races are won by crossing the finish line first.  So, why do we rest?  Why have we stopped running as if our lives no longer depended on our effort?  At one time, all we believed in was our effort.  Hopefully, with some maturity, we might consider that, as Gayle Sayers put it, “I am third.”  Physically, some of us are paying for our youth indiscretions; but that does not mean we have mentally turned into avocados, or like some aged zebra we are last in the pack and easily picked off by the predators.

Life is like your muscles and your brain: use it, or lose it.


Thanks to Shawn Achor, his book “Before Happiness,” and his website “goodthinkinc.com”

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