Last Saturday, I was in Philadelphia to participate in the Rothman 8K, a road race to jump start that weekend’s marathon & half marathon running events. I had parked my car near a main street (Broad Street) and next to an open Goodyear Tire shop. Sounds safe, right? I thought so, too. That is, until returning to my car after brunching with friends and finding a crime scene that bruised my emotional ego and its loving view of the universe’s intentions for me.
What I found: The driver’s seat window smashed and a bag of electronics – including my less-than-3-month-old Macbook and iPad, along with cell/laptop chargers and a Flipcam – gone forever. The thief had reached across the driver’s side to clutch the grab bag of electronics valued at nearly $2,000.
What he did with that bag – to buy drugs, get drunk, indulge in pay-to-play sex or heck, even pay off his rent – will never be known. And my endorphin-fueled runners’ high, after placing 26th out of 1,100 females in the race? He took that, too.
You’d think I would have learned by now.
Since I was 18, I’ve collected a history of avoidable theft against me. At spring break in Orlando freshman year, a laptop was stolen. Three years later, car tires sliced at a party near my college campus in North Philadelphia. In New York, an iPod stolen from my apartment during its housewarming party, two cell phones and a digital camera lost/stolen all in the time frame of 6 months, two car break-ins near my apartment in Harlem (to steal vintage from the cars’ backseat and trunk) and a very convoluted relationship with an exterminator that I have yet to completely break up with (more on that in a future post).
So no, between the hours of 8:30AM and 1PM on Saturday, I hadn’t learned. I hadn’t learned that the world isn’t a place full of 100 percent pure intentions and that the world can’t recognize the pure intentions I have for it in return. In other words: If the thief who had broken into my car had asked for a dollar from me earlier that day, I probably would have given it to him. No level of Sammy D sunshine can communicate that to population of people full of both good guys and bad guys – and sorry to say, a limited supply of super heroes on call and available.
But I did learn. And what I learned, and what I want to share with you in this blog post, is how you too can find the positive in the most concrete, buried-in-the-ground of negative experiences. How you too can flip a $2,000 financial and emotional loss to inspire renewed love for the world upon realizing that you have the power to choose how these learning experiences can bless your life and bless the love present in it created by you and for you alone.
Read on for my top reasons why having my car broken into was the best thing that happened to me all week, and how you can take a recent negative experience and begin to see and inspire conscious learning from it, too.
1.) “What is the common thread here?” my father asked me after arriving home with both a hanging head and smashed window. He was referring to my list of lost or stolen objects that haunt my “responsibility card” like repeat episodes of bad cable TV haunt network ratings.
While I responded to him on the defense, he was right – I had to take this experience and figure out why it had occurred this time, and why it had occurred in the past as well. I had to figure out what thought process had led to actions that led to the opportunity for theft.
And here begins the first positive of any and every negative experience: the immediate opportunity to reflect on thoughts and behavior that are not working in our favor.
2.) So how did I reflect, and what did I conclude? My father pointed it out best by calling it the “thread” that is theft in my life. And upon recognizing that thread was unraveling in the worst of ways, I had to find the origin – that “common” thread – and sew it all back together before it completely destroyed the sweater.
In other words, I had to clench my teeth, reflect and admit that I have made poor decisions that have led to a loss of personal property multiple times.
3.) But this wasn’t just an opportunity to reflect, and it certainly wasn’t just an opportunity to criticize my past, either.
You can reflect all you want – but if you aren’t going to learn from reflections and take the action to in fact show that you have absorbed and adopted what you’ve learned – well, you’re still driving the wrong way down a one-way street. Criticism doesn’t turn the car around – but constructive analysis and a plan to make that strategic u-turn does.
4.) So how do you not only turn that car around so it’s going the right way, but turn it around and drive it onto the 65 mph highway to personal success? You grab your clutch and put that car into the right gear – and you find that right gear with inspired education.
Something I learned from this experience: If I had elected to purchase either renter’s insurance or comprehensive car insurance, my lost electronics would have been partially paid for.
Unfortunately, I had neither. So my learned action? A call to Geico insurance to sign up for $10-a-month renter’s insurance – something, upon #2’s reflection, I should have had from the moment I moved to New York City.
You live, you learn, and then you take action.
5.) Consciousness differs from action, because it is only with consciousness that correct action occurs. In this case, I lacked consciousness that a bag of electronics on the front seat of my car – no matter where it was parked and the time of day – is not a good idea. With this conscious thought in the back of my mind, I would have taken the action to place all valuables in my trunk and away from the eye of potential thieves.
Maintaining consciousness about your actions is like slowing down the car to halt and look both ways at a stop sign. You can blow through that stop sign and cross your fingers that a car won’t cross and crash into you. And sure, odds are 50/50 that one might not cross your path. But where there are positive odds, there are also negative odds – that’s why the 50/50 risk exists.
My learned consciousness: Focus on the 50 percent negative to make your decisions, despite the 50 percent positive odds that need no conscious thought or preventative actions.
6.) Think of it like the used car salesmen analogy. Their reputation is tarnished and so most people don’t trust them – but that doesn’t mean we don’t ever buy used cars. We just buy used cars with our own education and knowledge that we bring to the car lot so when that used car salesmen tries to sell us a lemon, we know how to ask the right questions or say a quietly confident “no” to his pressure tactics.
Gain the education to say that quietly confident “no” or “yes” to the decisions in your life. View each challenging decision as if you were working with a used car salesmen – in the end, you need him to sell you the dang car. But in the beginning, you need your own mindful, educated power to decide what used car is really the gem, and not just fool’s gold.
7.) Without life’s challenges, life would be boring. We’d be complacent in our acceptance of what is and what always will be. We’d have no fear of what could be, and without fear, we’d lack the impetus to analyze the decisions that could influence this unknown, but exciting future.
Embrace life’s challenges because they are the opportunities for you to create your own happiness. No matter the age, we are always young – because each new experience welcomes new actions inspired by our new knowledge.
Sure, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but you can teach him to choose which tricks he wants to play the most. Do you want to play tricks that negatively affect you? Probably not – so embrace the opportunities to decide which tricks to play that you know best thanks to your openness to reflection, education and action.
8.) Many of us don’t know it, but we live our lives in a way that speaks to an subconscious belief that we “deserve” happiness – and that this happiness should be given to us without action on our part.
Sure, karma isn’t a give-to-receive mentality, but there is karma in seeing the positive in the negative. You choose to create happiness no matter the circumstances. And when the circumstances are positive, you too choose to derive happiness from those circumstances as well.
No one is handing us a silver platter of happiness. And no one handed me a silver platter of theft, either. We create the situations we want by choosing to create them as such. Choose to create your own happiness no matter the circumstances, and it will flow freely into your life as you gain subconscious behaviors which powerfully attract it to you no matter the loss or gain at surface glance.
9.) So how do you continue to give the world love without fear that every dark shadow is out to get you and used car salesmen set on screwing you over?
You decide to love the world by loving yourself with the right decisions, the smart logic and mindful, conscious behavior.
I’m determined to continue to see the world as a good place worth loving because I’m convinced that in giving the world (and yourself) love, you will receive back what you deserve. And what you receive back from good intentions is always what you rightfully need.
10.) Maintaining loving intentions for you and the world is how you can drive that car down a one-way street, put it into the right gear to make that u-turn, stop at your red lights and get yourself onto the highway of success without stalling or selling out to a used car salesmen and cashing in for a bus pass instead.
Project loving intentions by learning from every experience and choosing to maintain happiness through any circumstance with conscious, educated actions inspired by those accumulative reflections some might call “growing pains.”
And don’t feel failure if you have to remind yourself that maintaining happiness isn’t the easy part. Because remember: An easy life is a boring one.
Acknowledge the challenge, reflect the lesson, adopt and activate the education, pursue education for consciousness, embrace those challenges and create your own choices to maintain your happiness so that it grows with you forever.
How have you grown recently? I’d love to hear in the comments below … or shoot me an email at [email protected]
Happy growing ;-)