There’s a point most of our lives when our greatest fears and unexpected calamities burst into our lives and cause us to feel shocked and surprised. What we do next tells us more about us than we’ve ever imagined. It’s in these life-changing moments when we’re confronted with our biases and assumptions.
Things that we most feared that will never happen and the feelings of hopelessness and inertia when the inevitable wheel of time brings us new obstacles and constant change. How we understand our powers and strengths is the way to move forward. Secure in the knowledge that we can only do our best and move forward with momentum and dignity. Knowing that doing less than expected will only cause us to fall back and feel forgotten. The truths are always there waiting for us to open our minds to their signals and messages. It’s how we decide to see the world and what we refuse to accept. A cacophony of voices and opinions lurking in the background trying to influence our decisions and outcomes.
Bias comes in many forms and much of it is unnecessarily self-directed. It causes us to allow others to think and act for us. It can cause us to narrow our opportunities and perspectives. It’s always present and most harmful when we refuse to see and accept it. Causing so much of our potential and happiness to be exhausted before we even begin our journey. The story of our lives that suffers in its need for validation and approval from others.
The solution is to give ourselves permission to alter our perspective and increase self-awareness. A self-determination that being happy is a natural state of being. A belief that we are all the same no matter who we are. Knowing that when it comes down it that we are all related. It’s up to us to create a new paradigm and way of living where biases are reconciled and best forgotten. A way to reunite and heal the wounds that our biases have created.
As The Happiness Warrior, I believe that happiness is a human right and that all of us deserve to be counted and respected. No exceptions and always moving forward. A collective mindset that grows and expands our consciousness. A happier state of mind where we are more forgiving and open minded. Slowly shedding the negative thoughts and emotions that have trapped us for too long.
BIAS IS ENTIRELY SELF-CREATED
When I was growing up in the South many decades ago bias and discrimination were engrained in the culture of the people around me. From an early age, I knew that the hateful words that I heard in the adults in my life say quite openly was wrong and evil. I wanted to belong and fit in, but I was always on the outside looking at the scene with anger and disappointment in the people that I was supposed to respect and love. As I grew older my feelings intensified and I grew increasingly defensive and unhappy. I knew there was a better world of my choosing on the horizon, but the damage was done and at times I was reckless and self-destructive. I couldn’t wait to go out in the world and find my way forward. Change would be my language.
As I look back now, I’m proud of myself for not giving in and allowing myself to conform and be silenced. It was lonely and introspective at times, but I grew happier and realized that I deserved to be authentic and true to myself. This caused my spirit to grow. My connection with the universe intensified and guided my actions. I created a family of friends of my choosing. People with similar mindsets and open perspectives. Never allowing words like judgment and shame to be part of my vocabulary. Always learning and understanding the falsity of making assumptions.
HOW TO RECOGNIZE BIAS
1. Stop overthinking in its tracks and learn to be more compassionate and loving with ourselves. Too often we become hyper focused on minor gaffs and misunderstandings while the other party has long forgotten or excused our behavior. This causes us to shrink back, decrease opportunities, and lower our self-esteem. These self-created biases can be very deep and alter the magnitude and scope of our lives. The key to understanding this and moving into a healthier mindset is to challenge assumptions and search for counter arguments. Most often have created a paradigm that is far from reality.
2. Stop thinking that the first impression or minor mistake we make sets the tone forever. It’s irrational and puts us in a negative mindset. We are human and we learn from our errors. The best way to reshape this way of thinking is to think of something that we’ve done that had positive results and build from there. There’s no going back on something that’s already happened. All mistakes are lessons to help us grow and thrive. Nothing is ever accomplished if we allow our biases to rule and our ability to think freely go untended.
3. Biases can create a need to stay in a safe place and shrink from opportunities and new beginnings. This creates a fear-based mindset and makes us more vulnerable to change and our ability to adapt to new situations. We can solve this by taking calculated risks that help us understand that we’re more capable than we allowed ourselves to believe. It’s eye opening!
4. Too often we struggle to justify our choices and feel trapped by feelings of regret. We forget that regret can be a lesson that makes us grow and feel more motivated. It can be a tool rather than a hurtful memory. The choice is ours to remove old biases and self-defeating emotions. One of my favorite questions is to ask myself how I would do it better next time and take action to make it happen.
5. In our consumer and capitalistic driven society, we see too many examples of people who determine their self-worth in the value of their possessions. More is never enough, and newfound wealth and riches are portrayed in social media and visual presentations. These gross displays of insecurity are always accompanied by unhappiness and a desperate need for external validation.
Detachment is the way to greater happiness and self-discovery. We are born naked without possessions and our deaths will be the same. A strong belief that no one is better than anyone else is a life that’s more satisfying and fulfilling.
It’s undeniable that bias plays a role in all our lives in one time or another. Sometimes it’s constant and pervasive and for some of it’s a minor change in our perception and intention. Bias can be harmful and send us in the wrong direction. It’s never quite as real as we’ve imagined and often comes from the darkest places in our minds. It can cause illogical fears and harmful self-created emotions. It’s something we can identify and take steps to clear our deepest thoughts. It’s how we release ourselves from mental bonds of bias and create enlightenment and freedom of thought.
A sense of knowing that we understand ourselves and others better. A mindset for clarity and peace of mind in our thoughts and virtuous actions. A new path forward where unproductive thinking is conquered. Renewed alignment with our core values and the strength that they always provide.
The truth is that no one is perfect, but bias is something that only we can eliminate from our lives. It’s how much respect and love for ourselves when we quit trying to make a mess of our lives.