Have I told you how much I love you?

With all of my heart, I do.

You make all of the turmoil of blog-writing worthwhile.

The fact that you’re reading this right now makes you the best part of my day.

Thank you. For everything.

For subscribing and commenting and sharing your ideas with me.

I just adore you!

 

 

Speaking of sharing your ideas with me, one of you sent me a brilliant email in which you posed a “challenge” for me. A question to answer.

OPENING THAT EMAIL MADE MY WHOLE MONTH.

Brilliant, brilliant reader, you.

 

A “challenge,” it most certainly was! I seriously couldn’t make up my mind. The post sat in my Gmail draft folder for weeks. I opened and closed it, changing my answers and altering my explanations almost daily.

 

This was tough. The good kind of tough. I cannot thank my reader enough for emailing me with this post idea. Hard work is good for the soul.

 

If YOU have a post idea, please send it to me!

 

 

Okay, okay. Are you ready?

Watch! I’m cutting the ribbon right now on reader post ideas! *snip!*

 

 

You asked for my answer to the following Miss America Pageant question:

 

“If you could change one thing in this world, what would it be, why would you choose to change it, and how would you go about making that change?”

 

 

VERY big question. Equally big answer.

 

What! I’m verbose. I blame my mom for never telling me to shut up.

 

Best mom ever.

 

 

*deep breath*

Here goes!

 

If I could change one thing in this world, I would…

 

…show everyone his/her training wheels.

 

Your training wheels = rules you follow according to whichever culture you’re surrounded by.

You are constantly obeying rules. Every day, you adhere to proprieties that govern the behavior of you and everyone around you. You follow rules that you didn’t exactly sign up for, but that you love and follow and insist that others follow, too.

Rules like don’t face the corner of an elevator when you’re riding in it. That’s weird. No one had to tell you this one. You learned it through your eyeballs. And your mom. (I.e. your culture.)

Your rules have trained you well. Your rules have also convinced you that your rules are the best rules. Guess who else thinks their rules are best? Everyone on Earth, that’s who.

 

Cultural rules = training wheels. Same thing. They secretly guide your perspective. You have no idea they exist. That’s what makes them so powerful and potentially dangerous.

You can’t remove them completely. They’ll be there as long as you have people around you.

 

If I were Miss America, I’d change the world by unveiling everyone’s training wheels.

 

I would choose this one thing because…

 

…your training wheels are the key to unlocking your ability to change your world.

 

Let’s examine training wheels for a minute.

All things that are now “real” to you were once seen/heard/read by you for the first time. Your “reality” is composed of a bunch of little ideas that started out as brand new concepts.

Further yet, everything you’ve seen/heard/read was made available to you by the situations you’ve put yourself in/been put in (college classrooms, bars, job interviews, vacations).

Your life started somewhere very specific, and then you were nudged in certain directions by everything around you. All of the options you’ve faced in your life were actually “chosen” for you by the culture you live in.

 

Example:

Do you have the option of sending your child into a forest to see if he can survive without you for a few months? Do you discuss this option with your friends, who are also contemplating the right time to send their offspring into the woods? Not if you live in North America, you don’t.

Someone in another country has this option, though. And he does discuss it with his friends. And he chooses to send his kid into the forest every time.

Right now, somewhere in the world, there exists a man who feels just as inclined to send his child into the woods for three months as you feel inclined to send your child to school for thirteen years.

And this man thinks your inclination is insane.

 

Tomayto, tomahto. Everyone thinks they know best.

Point: His choice, your choice, Fernando’s choice, all of them are pre-approved by the people around the chooser. Every decision you make has already been okay-ed by strangers in your area.

Unless you decide to murder someone. If so, training wheels don’t really apply to you. I can’t help you.

 

For everyone else, they do apply.

Everything you’ve ever seen, heard, witnessed, and felt shapes how you think. Your memories and ideas make you who you are. Your memories include people and places you’ve encountered. Your ideas have been passed on to you/inspired by people within your culture. The humans around you supply a lot of power to your training wheels.

Your culture has hand-crafted your world for you. All you had to do was be alive!

 

 

Now, how do our seemingly-unfavorable training wheels help us change our world?

 

In order to explain this, I am going to need you to go through the process of changing your world.

If you wish to remain unchanged, turn back now!

 

 

Well, hello there.

I’m glad to see you.

Let’s get to it!

 

Firstly: You must recognize that you have training wheels. The challenge here is facing the fact that you are easily influenced. It’s okay. It will all be okay, I promise.

Secondly: You must accept that you are easily influenced. Accept does not mean playing along and still secretly thinking you’re immune to influence. It means actually believing it to be true.
Take a minute to let the acceptance in…

 

…are you good?

 

Okay.

Finally: Get over the dread of being a sheep in a flock, so that you can embrace that you’re a sheep in a flock.

This is the ticket! Right here! This is the key to changing your world!

Once you embrace that you’re a sheep in a flock, you have the power to become a SMART sheep in a flock.

 

A sheep is always going to be a sheep. You’re always going to be influenced by your culture.

 

HOWEVER.

WHAT NO ONE SEEMS TO REALIZE

IS THAT

 

YOU

CAN INFLUENCE

YOURSELF.

 

Sheep who realize this = SMART sheep.

 

And now that you realize it, YOU are a smart sheep.

 

How does this change your world, exactly?

I’ll explain.

 

The world is whatever you think it is. Obviously.

The world = everything you know about the world smashed into one idea. Also obvious.

Not so obvious: you can change your world by influencing that everything. The everything is the key.

 

Onward, smart sheep!

 

Smart sheep realize:

If I spend my life reading stories about terrorists and torture and rape and greed and tragedy, my perspective will be influenced by these things.

If I spend my life avoiding these real-life stories so I can read poems about hope and practice magic tricks and frolic in fields of daisies, my perspective will be influenced by these things.

 

SMART SHEEP CHOOSE.

 

I choose to avoid a lot of things that could negatively influence my perspective.

 

I ignore the nightly news, for example. Can’t change the channel fast enough.

“Up next, Tom will detail all the godawful things happening right down the street from you, and Sarah will explain why you’re going to die soon.”

 

RUN.

 

Go ahead. Say it. I’m “naive” for avoiding the nightly news. “Living in denial.”

Seriously, go ahead! Lots of people already do (*cough* Husband *cough*).

“The world is actually much worse than you think!” – Husband

 

I agree with him.

And I disagree with him.

 

I agree because there is a lot of terrible crap out there, and lots of crazy people are constantly ruining the lives of others. Unfathomable tragedy happens by the minute, it’s true. I know this.

I disagree because the world as I choose to see it is much better than that.

 

Strategic avoidance is the undercurrent of unending optimism. 

Happy sheep!

 

It’s not easy to avoid the bad. There is, unfortunately, a surplus of downers in the world. They’re all around. They feed on people like me. I think I smell different. They can sniff out my happiness in a crowd, and once they find me, they make sure I realize how “unrealistic” I am about the world.

It’s like the nightly news delivered right to my face. UGH.

 

 

This is reality:

 

I can CHOOSE to live in fear of having a bomb dropped on my head.

 

OR

 

I can CHOOSE to live in hope of a having a house filled with lots of beautifully ambitious babies.

 

 

I choose. I choose to gently push world nastiness just beyond my peripherals. Because I can. I have a choice.

 

I know about my training wheels. And about yours. And about the training wheels on my friend who tells me I must carry a tiny weapon on me at all times because, danger. Love him.

It’s not his fault that he thinks I need pistol protection. It’s his Facebook feed and TV shows and fellow lads that make him think I do. He’s an assemblage of everything he encounters.

He wouldn’t hate me so much for disagreeing with him if he realized his training wheels were telling him I was insane, and my training wheels were telling me to disagree with him.

 

You can’t hate someone for having a different idea. It doesn’t make sense. Ideas come and go. People stay, and they change like the tides. Well, I suppose you can hate a tide. It goes away, though.

 

I know that I am trained. Trainable.

So, I train myself. To be optimistic.

Smart sheep realize they choose how they see the world. Smart sheep choose wisely.

 

If I were Miss America, I’d show the world its training wheels so the world would realize that 1) there is no fault in having training wheels and 2) training wheels are TRAINABLE.

 

Worldwide forgiveness of others’ training wheels is what I’d shoot for. But worldwide awareness of one’s own wheels would be good enough for me.

Smart sheep, unite!

 

I would enact this change by…

 

…making college universally free?

…funding culturally-diverse pop-up books for kindergartners?

…blogging?

😉

 

The truth is, none of us can change the world.

 

It is only possible for YOU to change YOUR world. If you want YOUR world to be more peaceful, figure out how to make it more peaceful. Write books about world peace, tell stories about kindness, join the Peace Corps. YOUR world is the only one you can change. There are over seven billion other worlds you can do nothing about.

 

Once you realize your perspective is highly receptive, you start to not care so much if other people’s perspectives differ from yours. The moment you realize how malleable your perspective is the moment you gain the ability to CHANGE IT.

 

 

A certain college Professor/Idol shared this mind-blowingly clever aphorism once:

The question is not can we relearn what we know we forgot, but can we discover what we never knew we know?

 

 

If I were Miss America, I would talk a lot. Training wheels would be my favorite subject.

Control your wheels or be controlled by them.

Mental-freedom is your responsibility. Bob Marley agreed.

Maybe he meant something different. Maybe not.

It probably depends on the training wheels person.

 

 

 

If YOU were Miss America, how would you change the world? Tell me in the comments!!!

 

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