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living the great paradox

How many times have you heard someone exclaim wistfully 'I just wish I could win the lottery'. Then it turns out they never even buy a ticket?... And even more incredibly, as is the case of my mother…she continues to make this statement regularly, whilst continuing to 'not buy a ticket'… all this, and yet, she is an intelligent person!

As I went out for a walk the other day with my little dog Winston and turned once more down the exact same familiar lane, to go the exact same familiar distance, I began to ponder on the paradoxical nature of many of our behaviours. I live in a stunning part of Yorkshire, with heaps of beautiful places to explore and yet, I mostly take one of three well-worn routes that I know like the back of my hand to a specific point that I have decided is ‘the end’ of that walk.

We live in a world full of stunning variety, with choices and opportunities all around us. We have supermarkets bursting full of exotic foods, sourced the world over, yet we mostly prepare and cook the same foods and dishes. We have computers full of creative fonts, and yet we probably use a maximum of three. We are surrounded with chances to 'try new things', and yet it is so ingrained in us to choose the safe and familiar, that even people in marketing know that psychologically we need to see and hear about something sufficiently that it becomes comfortably part of our ‘habitual surrounding’ that we will then become more likely to integrate it into our lives. Yet, we frequently deep down yearn for a change!

We say we like variety… we enjoy a story that starts with something surprising or different and we like a twist at the end. We describe things as monotonous and berate ourselves for being unable to achieve development or change in our personal or work situations. So in reality, how much effort do we put into reflection, learning and enrichment or even ‘action planning for change’? If we were to analyse it, in truth, probably very little.

When I look at the people that inspire me the most, I’d describe them as brave adventurous warriors.

Brave, because whilst you might say that many habits come from either laziness or fear, I would probably say that sub-conscious fear is probably the strongest influencer here. If people are in a restaurant and are faced with a dish they know they absolutely adore and one they haven’t tried, many times they will opt for the familiar, because ‘they know they will like it’ and there is a fear of disappointment. Brave also, because to make headway as a warrior, you have to take a risk, possibly stick your neck out round an unfamiliar corner, using as many senses as possible to avoid injury, but still, they take the risk to win.

Adventurous, because they are not afraid to try something new. In fact, they throw themselves into it, like true adrenaline junkies, and they are the ones that discover new things, new places and new ways to do things whilst others act as ‘onlookers’ wishing they too could achieve the same… ‘but they’re still not buying the ticket!’.

Warriors, because they ‘fight to the end’. They keep going. Little difficulties that appear along the way do not put them off. Their focus, determination and grit never waver, and if a door is shut, they simply turn around, shake the dust off their shoes and quickly locate a new goal and direction which they inevitably achieve.

So why, given that many of us are actually probably aware of these truths, do we continue to do the same… wishing we could ‘win the lottery’ but ‘never buying a ticket’ and why does this even matter? Especially since no-one ever really ‘dies of boredom’?

The adage ‘less haste, more speed’ does actually come into this. We lead insanely busy, noise polluted lives and its so tempting to rush into doing without taking the time to reflect and plan. It is all too easy to forget to notice our own emotions and responses as we dull them down to allow ourselves to continue to battle blindly through the daily mountain of tasks. We prioritise so many things. A dirty car ‘must be washed’ and if it makes a noise, we get it straight to the mechanic. Do we listen to our own engine? Do we take care of the irreplaceable one and only mind and body that must see us through from day one to the end of our lives?

We cannot see exactly what is around each corner, but we can take calculated decisions, to be in the race with a chance of winning if we live a little more ‘brave, adventurous warrior’. We can decide to take a little time to listen to our inner selves, be true to our values, be alert to new ideas and opportunities and take the steps or strides to reach them. We can give ourselves a chance to be resilient, by not fearing change. We only fear change if we believe we won't cope. If we build the habit and mindset of 'can and will' find a way, then no matter what comes along, we will be the ones who bounce, not just back, but bounce back higher!

We can also be warriors, not just for our own good and goals, but for where we see a difference needs to be made in the world. We see many paper tigers responding to newspaper articles or having a moan in the staffroom at work – but if the truth is really told; have they taken any action to achieve change?

So, next time, before I go for a walk, I’m making a list of alternative routes. I'm going to switch off my phone and notice what's around me. I've already bought my lottery ticket, and yes, I hope I win. You’ve got to be in it to win it. Have you bought yours?

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