What excites you today? What excites you about your work? What excites you about your contribution? What excites you about what you create? What excites you about what you share with others? Excitement leads to enthusiasm. Enthusiasm leads to energy. Enthusiasm leads to commitment and dedication. Enthusiasm leads to getting things done. Therefore, seek excitement in what you do both personally and professionally. Someone excited about life doesn’t require as much sleep. Someone excited about their contributions has excess energy that spills over into other actions and behaviors. Someone excited about life picks positive behaviors. Someone excited about life is damn fun to be around. Why not choose to be damn fun to be around?
We can’t wait to have the emotions we wish to possess. If we do, we’ll be waiting for a long time and we’ll simply be subjected to randomness, not personal choice. We have to choose to generate them from within. Only we are in control of our own emotions. We are the ones who make them happen — no one else is. People often make this mistake saying, “She made me feel this.” Or, “He did this to me, so I feel like hammering back on him.” Only they didn’t. We cannot control the actions of others. We cannot control the emotions of others. We can only control our emotions, our reactions, and our own actions. Everyone else’s is on them. Theirs have nothing to do with ours. We are autonomous.
This is hard for people to accept since we have mirror neurons and they are designed to mirror the emotions of others. But it is true. Just because you possess mirror neurons doesn’t mean you’re an emotional robot, immediately matching what others feel. You’re your own person, with your own emotions, your own thoughts, and feelings, and actions. You don’t have to be sad when you’re around sad people. You don’t have to be super excited when you’re around super excited people (though things are easier and more fun when you’re super excited about them). You are emotionally autonomous if you choose to be. The freeing, powerful statement is that you are in control of your own emotions. No one else is. This should make you feel confused at first. You may not even believe it. It can take awhile to sink in. But it is still true: only you control how you feel. Eventually, you should come to realize how freeing this statement is to you when you accept it.
Look at its opposite. If our emotions and feelings are constantly held to the whims of others, than we have no control at all over them. Other people can simply walk all over us emotionally with nothing we can do about it. This is not only dangerous, it isn’t true. We are in control of our own emotions if we choose to be. We choose our reactions to the statements and actions of others. We are in control of how we feel.
“When you complain, nobody wants to help you.”
— Dr. Stephen Hawking
On a personal level, I suffer from chronic lower back pain. Often the pain is so bad it hurts to sit for longer than five minutes. I choose to stand for most of my days, including office work. This helps. So does walking a lot. If you judged my daily emotional demeanor by my level of back pain, you wouldn’t know I had any (unless I was walking in a stilted fashion that day). I try hard to not let my own physical pain interfere with my emotions and daily dealings with friends, family, and co-workers. I’m constantly playing through pain. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be on the field. I’d be on the sidelines, watching everyone else, and that isn’t what I want. I want to play. I want activity. I want to be in the game. I want to contribute. I want to create. I want to leave a great legacy. No dumb, persistent back pain can stop this desire. Yet I still must choose these strong feelings and emotional drivers to push hard toward how I want to be each day. Feeling daily physical pain and doing your best to not have it affect your interactions with others is not easy. But it is a choice I make in how I want to be each day with others. Who do I want to show up as today? How do I want to be today? What do others need from me today? How do I want to be remembered today? Who am I being for my wife and kids today? Who do I want to be for my co-workers today? The choices we make each day in how we choose to interact with others builds our reputation and it builds our legacy. These personal choices and their subsequent actions either create what we desire through active determinism or they create its opposite through passivity, thinking we never had a choice when we actually did.