Want to affect the world? You have more power than you
Why is influence important?
Control over our lives is something we all want. But in a universe in which
everything is mutually interdependent, none of us has absolute control over
anything including, much of the time, ourselves. Rather, what we all have in
abundance is influence, the power of which seems to function linearly: the
closer personally and physically others are to us, the greater our influence
over them, and vice versa. Even more interestingly, unlike our attempts
to control, our attempts to influence don’t require our conscious intent. This is
why our ability to influence others is so much more important than our ability
to control them; we’re always exerting influence simply by being who we are,
saying what we say, and doing what we do. The only real choice we have in
the matter is whether or not the influence we exert is good or bad.
Becoming a good influence
You never know who’s watching you. And someone always is, whether your
child, your sibling, your spouse, your friend, or a stranger in another car on the
road. Emotions and inner life states are transmitted like viruses via our words
and actions, even from the quietest and smallest. Nothing can encourage us
like someone else’s good example. They’re frankly few and far between—but
they’re there if you look for them. Want to create value with your life? Become
a good influence.
Stop and think. What better service can you provide someone else than being
a good example to them? Not with conscious intention, which always seems
contrived and has little power to encourage, but by simply (oh, ironic word)
becoming the examples you yourself want to see. As I wrote in a previous
post, How To Communicate With Your Life, when you’ve
actually become something, others see it in almost everything you do.
Avoiding bad influences
Life is a constant battle to maintain a high life-condition. In medical school, we
were taught that one way to recognize that a patient is depressed is by
examining our own mood once we’ve finished interacting with them. If we feel
depressed ourselves, a good chance exists they are, too. A principle of
Nichiren Buddhism—the oneness of life and its environment—addresses this
phenomenon: our own inner life state finds itself mirrored in and mirrored by
our environment. In other words, everyone’s life-condition tends towards the
average of those around them. If I’m up and you’re down, we’ll each tend to
pull one another toward our own inner states, usually both moving toward the
mean between them. Some people have exceptionally resilient life-conditions
that are like rigid magnets, pulling others up (or down) powerfully without
tending to move much themselves under the influence of the life conditions of
others. While we may all aspire to possess that strength (to the positive,
obviously), most of us haven’t achieved it.
Others are still able to pull out of most of us varying positive or negative
characteristics. Our children may pull out wise protectors or fed-up
disciplinarians. Our co-workers may pull out inspiring leaders or complaining
gossips. Some people are simply toxic, complaining constantly, gossiping
mercilessly, even purposely sabotaging others. On days when we’re strong
enough not only to avoid being pulled into similar patterns of behavior but also
to help them avoid such negative behaviors as well, we can serve as good
influences over them. On days when we’re weaker ourselves and therefore
more susceptible to negative influences, we should avoid such people as best
we can. It’s quite easy when we’re feeling low to spiral even lower under the
influence of someone else’s negativity.
Converting bad influences into good ones
This is what we all really want to do, both for ourselves and others. The more
good influences with which we surround ourselves, the happier we’ll be; the
more people we’ll “convert” into good influences (by our own good influence),
the more value we will have created, which will also add to our happiness. Yet
converting someone from a bad influence into a good one is among the
hardest of tasks: changing someone’s basic approach to life from negative to
positive isn’t likely something any one person has the power to do. At least,
not consistently. The only way, it seems to me, to turn a bad influence into a
good one is by consistently being a powerful good influence yourself. Which,
of course, requires you to challenge your own negativity and constantly win
over it, and that is the hardest of tasks.
It’s also the most worthwhile. I can think of no better epitaph than “He helped
others to better themselves.” If that’s what people end up saying about all of
us, we will be surely be able to consider our life to have been a success!!
Wishing you with all the good luck and successes in life!!!
Let the bad influence be a light in disguise, happy Dusshera!!

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