The way you look at life, your worldview, or life paradigm affects the way you live. Which is why it is so critical.
This is the same reason that success is viewed completely differently by different people. A while back, I shared an article on Facebook about things successful people have in common. A friend commented, “I am not a CEO, celebrity, or an author. I am just a stay at home mom and wife. I think I am very successful.”
The way we view success is completely dependent on our view of life – and there isn’t one right answer.
The people that intrigue me the most are those with a wide worldview – interested and open to different and varying ideas. The thing is, often, we are not even aware of our worldview. Yet it defines every action we make.
“A worldview is the lens used to look at every decision a person is asked to make”
DISCOVER YOUR WORLDVIEW
The worldview we have affects everything from our career path (or even whether we decide not to pursue a career and stay home with the children), to what we eat and what we wear. Practically every decision we make stems from the way we view life. This is why it is so important to know clearly what is important to us, and what type of life we want to live.
Tim Ferris, Jack Canfield and Tony Robbins all encourage readers to sit down and write what they want to do and who they want to be. They each take a slightly different stance, but the idea is the same. Take a few minutes and write everything you could do if neither money nor time were an issue. Write down the type of person you want to be – every positive characteristic. The places you would like to go, the things you would like to experience, even the material possessions you would like to own. Don’t be limited by your current situation or past experiences. Dream big and write down everything you can think of.
Simply putting in writing what your worldview is – who you want to be as a person and what type of life your dream-life is – helps you to start to take actions that enforce your inner-goals.
EXPAND YOUR WORLDVIEW
“Five years from today, you will be the same person that you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” Charlie Jones
I believe reading, meeting new people, and travelling are the three biggest influencers of our worldview.
THE PEOPLE YOU MEET
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” Jim Rohn
The people in our lives play a key role in shaping who we are as a person. I believe it is important to have a wide variety of friends with different worldviews. It is both thrilling and eye-opening to have friends who view life through a lens different than your own. You are exposed to new interests and ideas. Subtly, through conversation and laughter, your world is expanded.
It is also important to get to know people who are further down the road that you are seeking to go down. Just being around successful people (regardless of how you define success) changes you. You start to recognize similar habits and attributes and are able to pattern your life to align with your goals.
Relationships are probably the trickiest part of this equation. Sometimes the people who are important in our life can have a negative affect. It is most disheartening when those we love and look up to discourage us in the pursuit of our dreams.
When Canadian hero Terry Fox told his mom of his dream to run across Canada, she discouraged him. After his death, his words haunted her, “I thought you would be one of the first people to believe in me”…yet she wasn’t.
Having a wide circle of friends helps to quiet the voices of the naysayers. Just recently, somebody close to me said something to discourage me in my pursuit of ‘more’ in life. The very same day, another friend made an off-hand comment “You are a born winner”. The second friend is a positive person by nature and probably didn’t think twice about what she said. Yet for me, they had a profound effect and helped to cancel out the negative words playing in my mind. It is important to have positive friends…. And perhaps moreso, to BE a positive friend.
THE BOOKS YOU READ…
Through books, the entire world is accessible. We can read from authors who have experienced things that we haven’t yet thought to dream… and a new dream is born. We can learn about topics that interest us, and in so doing, we often learn far more about life than the topic the book is focused on. Even in fiction, we are brought to a time and place outside of our current reality, exposing us subtly to different cultures and ways of life. In fact, this blog post was birthed in my mind by reading a book on marketing.
I have heard it said that if you want to be a master in your field, read 100 books on that subject. I think it is important to read in a focused manner – at the moment, I am seeking to become a master in marketing and am therefore reading a myriad of books (and blogs) about marketing. However, it is also important to read widely. The more we read, the more interested we become in areas of life that we may not have even known about previously.
Self-made millionaire Dr. John Demartini said of books, “You can’t put your hand in a pot of glue without some of that glue sticking. So, too, you can’t put your mind and heart into some of the works of these masters without some of it sticking.”
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrowmindness”
I have written about it before (12 Reasons Everyone Should Travel), but I believe travel is one of the most life-changing things you can do.
My friend and mentor, Donogh, commented on a previous post relaying this story. “The *need* for travel cannot be understated. I’ve met and know people from both ends of the spectrum — people who go to the same places year-in, year-out, or rarely travel, and those who truly explore the world, and make a sincere effort to get to know and understand other peoples and cultures. The differences in worldview, open-mindedness and general compassion is astounding.
I had a lengthy conversation with a Pakistani taxi driver in Ireland just before Christmas. I had managed to forget my keys in the office and was engulfed in my little problem until I asked him, “how’s your day going?” He moved to Ireland 9 years ago, and is supporting a family through taxi driving, and he experiences so much racism every day while trying to make an honest living. It genuinely put things in perspective for me. One of the most interesting points he made, though, was that he experiences nothing but respect from those who are (a) well-educated and/or (b) well-travelled. Not everyone can afford to be well-educated but anyone can afford to travel — there’s no excuse not to get out of your bubble and truly experience the world.”
I had a similar conversation with a customer recently. He told me that he was in a course here in Ireland and the lecturer made some racist comments about Indians. He had travelled to India on several occasions and had spent time in their culture. He knew firsthand how far off the mark her comments were.
Travel changes you at the core.
One last point, which I think is critical in expanding one’s worldview, is to be open-minded.
“People don’t want to change their worldview. They like it, they embrace it and they want it to be reinforced” This quote is from Seth Godins’ book All Marketers Tell Stories. Though it’s context was for marketers to frame their campaigns to reach customers with the same worldview as their product – the quote struck me deeply.
There are years of my life that I have often wished I could delete. I was surrounded by people who strongly discouraged anybody from thinking outside of their worldview. Thankfully, I broke away from that mindset and perhaps that experience itself is what has burned this fire in my heart to learn more, become more and actively expand who I am as a person.
I am studying at night to get my degree in marketing and recently had an interesting project. We had to research a topic, make a presentation as a group, and write a report. Through a string of circumstances, and almost as a joke, we decided to do our project on Cannabis. It was an incredibly life changing experience for me, because in order to get an A (which was my goal) I had to throw myself into a worldview that was in direct contrast with my own.
Though I knew nothing about Cannabis, I was against it. I have never even seen the stuff! In order to excel in this project, I was forced to open my mind to look at a topic from the perspective of an advocate. I created a Facebook page (Jose Mujica to CIT Facebook Page), read articles, connected with people and sat in on a conference call with activists from around Ireland. It was incredibly insightful as these people were educated and passionate… and completely ‘other’ than I expected them to be. I still have never seen Cannabis and have no desire to, but I do now see the medical benefits. The impact this project had on me was the act of opening my mind, to explore a perspective in contrast with my previous views. I hope this lesson stays with me forever and instead of closing my mind and forming opinions in ignorance, that I will have the capacity to open my mind to perspectives in contrast to my own.