Stop pretending you’re not in charge

This morning I was listening to another one of Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey’s 21-day guided meditation series and I gained a new perspective on life.

Every few months, these two world-renowned spiritual gurus release a free (I repeat: free) guided meditation series with three weeks of amazing and inspiring guided meditation sessions. Each session lasts less than twenty minutes and I listen to them first thing in the morning before the crew in my house wakes up and everything turns to chaos.


Each one of the meditation sessions contains a mantra, or guiding principle, for the day, and an explanation as to why and how that principle can alter your view on life and, ultimately, your inner peace.

deepakToday’s guiding principle was the fact that our perceptions shape our personal experience.

Interesting. Tell me more.

Chopra went on to explain that no moment in your life has meaning until you give it meaning. The example he used is one we see all the time in our own lives. One single situation affects two different people in very different ways. For instance, how many times have you been in a group and witnessed this dynamic:

Friend 1: Looks like it’s going to rain tomorrow.
Friend 2: Ugh, that sucks.
Friend 3: Finally—my yard really could really use it.

Fascinating. One fact of life is met by two different reactions from different people.

Why is that?

Back to Chopra’s point: no moment has any meaning until you give it meaning. The fact that it’s going to rain tomorrow is a fact. It’s a completely neutral scenario…until your perception of that fact colors it and paints it either good or bad, happy or sad, exciting or annoying, promising or hopeless.

No one colors a situation except you.

I can think of so many situations in my life that I colored negatively, probably unnecessarily.  One in particular I will never forget. Six years ago, I was working for an advertising agency and we’d been busting our butts for three months developing a new television campaign for one of our clients. Just before the campaign was set to launch, the client said there was an update about the campaign.

Twelve of our team members huddled around a big, brown conference table anxiously staring at a black box speakerphone, wondering what this “new update” would be.

Client: We’re not going to move forward with the advertising campaign. My boss didn’t approve it. Let’s come up with a new one.

Me: Are you kidding me?!?!!? Why are these people trying to ruin our lives?

My teammate: That’s life. Let’s make the next campaign even better.

One fact. Two very different reactions.

While I wasn’t able to see it at the time, the fact that the client killed the advertising campaign was just that—a fact. No more, no less, until my perception of that fact painted it negatively.

Which happened in about six seconds.

Your perceptions paint your reality.

Taking that metaphor a bit further, it’s interesting to start to think about the “facts” of your life as a blank canvas. No matter how hard it is to admit this, facts do indeed come into your life as neutral. Everything from your business partner moving to NYC, to your child having to repeat a grade in school, to your grandmother having cancer.

All three of those blank canvases were handed to me this past year.

And each and every time I had to look at the palette of paint I was holding and decide how to paint the facts in front of me.

Should I use red and black to paint the facts with fear? Should I cover the canvas in blue and paint the fact with doubt and disappointment? Or could I muster the courage to paint them with colors that indicated I would try my hardest to seek the silver lining in those tough times?

Silver it was. And silver those three situations became.

No matter what life throws your way, you must keep this one, profound point top of mind at all times.

You are the painter.

Life always has and always will put blank canvases in front of you.

Crayon and Watercolor Painting 5Here you are…this canvas says your job has been eliminated at work. Here you are…this canvas says your child has ADHD. Here you are…this canvas says you have to make dinner for twenty people this tonight.

When the next canvas gets handed to you, remember that it’s blank, which means it’s neutral. Then remind yourself that you have a rainbow of colors to choose to color that canvas. Will you use colors that represent joy or pain, light or darkness, hope or despair?

A canvas my daughter Layla and I painted together.

You’re the painter. No moment has any meaning until you give it meaning. Nobody paints on your own canvas but you.

Choose your colors and pictures wisely because you are, in fact, painting your future.



Share your thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.