Make it Happen Monday: Create Your Own Culture 2.0
In last week’s Make it Happen Monday post, I talked about one of my life hero’s, Morrie Schwartz, and his quote about Creating Your Own Culture. As a follow-up to that post, I wanted to dive a little deeper into this topic and talk a little more about following your own star.
Consider the following scenarios:
Scenario #1: A man walks into a doctor’s office and as he looks up he notices that everyone is in their underwear. There are people reading magazines, people drinking coffee, and people talking to each other, all in their underwear. He finds this very strange, but then figures that there must be something to it, so he too takes off his pants and sits down in his underwear.
Scenario #2: A woman is waiting for an elevator in an office building. As the elevator arrives and opens she walks in and notices that everyone in it is standing facing the back of the elevator. This is different then what she is used to, but as she walks in, she also faces the back of the elevator as the rest of the people are.
Now you may think I am making up some pretty obvious examples to prove the point that people in society will go along with what others are doing, no matter how crazy it may appear. The truth of the matter is that these were both actual scenarios from Allen Funt’s 1960’s TV show Candid Camera…a show all about putting people in strange situations and watching how they’d react.
When I was a kid and wanted to do something that my friends were doing, but wasn’t approved by my Mom, she would often say “If your friends all wanted to jump off a bridge, would you want to jump too?” Well, after hearing about these examples from Candid Camera and the crazy things people will do in order to fit in, I finally see where she was coming from. She was telling me to be an individual. I realize now how great that advice really was.
People like to associate with people who are like them. This same theory applies to society. When people chose to deviate from this path, they may appear to be outcasts and looked upon as a little strange. But when these people are able to be strong and remain focused, they are looked upon and often envied by the rest of society. I think the life of Steve Jobs is a perfect example of just this concept.
When it comes to personal characteristics, that’s something that should remain a little more commonplace. Things like compassion, honesty, love, caring, peace, and other such qualities is something that we should all have as a part of us. But what we chose to do with these traits should really be up to us without the influence of our culture.
Last week’s quote by Morrie Schwartz can also be looked at as meaning we have more control then we may think when it comes to creating our own lifestyle. The media, movies, fashion, books, and the rest of society, all make up the culture that we live in. This standard culture varies depending on what part of the Planet you reside in. North American culture is very different from Asian culture, just as the Aussie culture is different from that of the Caribbean. Each one of these cultures is made up of a variety of sub-cultures, such as youth, business, and retirement cultures. People should also be comfortable creating their own personal culture within this as well. But it is usually conformity that stops us from doing so.
What exactly is a personal culture made up of? Four basic principles make up our personal cultures:
- The first is what I’ve already discussed, and that is the general culture that is associated with the society that you live in. This would involve things such as education, religion, fashion, business, and everything else that forms it’s basis.
- Thoughts are another big part of your personal culture. Thoughts are the most powerful forces on Earth. Everything we see, touch, or feel, is created by our thoughts. They are so powerful in fact, that thoughts can often create something that is not even real. Thoughts can create fear, envy, jealousy, and excitement even in situations where there is no basis for it. Our actions come from our thoughts, and these thoughts are often the result of previous conditioning. Thoughts can be imagined as the steering wheel of a vehicle as it is grasped and we can take control and swerve from side to side as we make our journey through life.
- Thoughts form habits that create responses to how we react to our culture. Therefore, if thoughts are the steering wheel, habits are the vehicle that we are driving down our life path. But just as these habits can be formed, so too can they be broken or changed. Most habits that we have are very beneficial and allow us to function efficiently in our daily lives, but others can be changed in order to help us drive smoothly down the path we chose for ourselves.
- Values are the final aspect making up our personal culture. Our values are our built-in security system that alarms us when we are not acting in a way that corresponds to what we believe in. Your personal culture should never jeopardize your beliefs and values, but these values play a vital part in shaping your personal culture. To go along with the previous visualization, our personal values and beliefs are the road paving the path that we chose to take in our life journey.
Putting these four aspects together forms our own personal identity and a map that allows us to create our own culture. This culture must include all the valuable commandments and actions that define a decent human being, but there is tremendous freedom when it comes to other rules and regulations pertaining to the road you follow. This road and the vehicle you are steering down it is up to you as long as you are strong enough to create the culture you desire.
We should each strive for individuality in our lives and create and live in our own personal cultures. We do not have to follow along with traditional methods of how we are expected to live. What these personal cultures should all include, however, are peace and love. As Morrie says, “The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves.” Because of this, we are often put into a negative environment that takes away from our natural instincts to love other people and live in peace with the world and ourselves. This is probably the biggest reason Morrie suggests that we create our own. What he really wants is for us to create a culture that makes us feel good to be alive. One that makes us full of energy and proud. As a result, we will be more inclined to share this happiness with others and give off feelings of caring. When we are living the way we want to live we not only create happiness for ourselves, but for the people around us as well.