We are where we are primarily (not completely), because of the choices we’ve made in our lives. We’ve all made bad decisions and sometimes the consequences were severe, while other times we’ve dodged a bullet. Sometimes we’ve learned from our mistakes which made us a better person, but sometimes we’ve repeated them for various reasons. Either way, some habitual bad choices are a stumbling block for us, and they negatively affect our lives until we get a handle on them.
Are we making the best decisions in our lives? We probably like to think we do, but are we? I’m going to go out on a limb and say no. We might make decent or good choices sometimes but how often do we make the best choice? Why do we make the choices that we do whether good or bad? What influences our decisions? If we know what motivates the good choices and what might negatively motivate our bad ones, then we can become more effective at decision making and create an even better future for ourselves and our families.
There are a variety of factors that goes into our decision making but I’m going to focus on the major ones. First, the environment we were raised in and surround ourselves in now, impacts our decision making in a huge way. Family units have a culture. In my family, college was never discussed. I was the first to graduate from college. In my wife’s family, getting a college education was a given. They were goal oriented beginning with deciding a career path and getting the education necessary to enter it.
Quite frankly, they had a great legacy of good decision making about many things including personal health and finances. They are a highly successful family and it continues generation after generation. My family didn’t have this kind of culture. We had a great legacy of common sense, dedication, hard work, and loyalty, but we weren’t career professionals until my generation came along and we made headway; now pretty much all my nieces and nephews have graduated college, and some have their own businesses. It’s a far cry from the manual labor my family came from.
But the fact remains, we’re taught to think a certain way. Our parent’s ideology about various subjects impacted us tremendously. Most people who grow up in a liberal household stay liberal, and those who grow up in a conservative household generally remain conservative. Even if young adults veer off into a different political ideology, they often go back to the core mindsets they grew up with. How we look at life and how we respond to it, certainly changes over time, it’s not like we’re stuck in the past, but if we ever want to figure out why we make some of the bad choices that we do, we need to reflect back.
There are millions of people that have pulled themselves out of a bad environment and succeeded in life, but many haven’t. I’m going to use African Americans as an example but it’s completely applicable to whites living in poverty as well. Many “oppressed,” people have a chip on their shoulder because they have been taught to believe that the reason they are where they are in society, is because the people in their world are/were being taken advantage of; the system was rigged. Successful people cheated them. In this example, white people have cheated them.
There’s also a culture of holding each other back. In many impoverished communities it’s frowned upon to be a good student. Some get chastised from their peers for raising their hand to answer a question. Those who make it out of these communities who stay engaged with the ideology being pushed, such as Al Sharpton and Maxine Waters, are celebrated, but those who become business professionals are often looked down upon as if they “sold out.” They’re called Uncle Tom’s. They’re called white.
Dr. Ben Carson has one of the greatest success stories of any race, and he was despised by many blacks even though he’s provided so many educational opportunities for them. Herman Cain is amazing and helps young blacks further their educations. The problem is that most African Americans don’t care about them trying to help people succeed. College means little to over 90% of them because they don’t see where it will help them. Many don’t believe a high school diploma is necessary because they don’t plan on working. Many of them think since the system is rigged, why put in the effort?
The problem with people becoming successful that were born into these communities is it shines a light on the failures of those who don’t. If they can make an excuse for not striving for anything because it’s not available to them, then they haven’t failed. But when people become successful out of disadvantaged neighborhoods, their excuses for not experiencing personal achievement, loses its credibility. What’s sad is that they’re holding themselves back. They’re perfectly capable of great things and who knows what contributions they could’ve made for society, but they never had hope; it’s not part of their culture. It’s this culture of victimhood, that ruins their lives and unfortunately poverty breeds poverty.
Instead of giving people hope, Democrats reinforce a false narrative that these people are stuck because other people are holding them back. They use white privilege to give African Americans an excuse for not pulling themselves up. I didn’t have white privilege; I grew up relatively poor, but I did have cultural privilege thanks to my parents and grandparents. There are more poor white people than black. There are plenty of white people living in places like Kentucky, Mississippi, and West Virginia, who aren’t moving up because of the color of their skin. Many are on government assistance. Asians are the most successful group in the country. How can there be white privilege?
It isn’t about race, it’s about culture. Democrats don’t want blacks to know this because it takes away their ability to appear like their saviors. They want these people to keep them in power so they can fight the alleged good fight for them. They claim Republicans are their enemy, but they can’t provide any piece of legislation that Republicans have passed that holds African Americans back. The Democrat Party has a horrific history of negatively impacting the black community. Even to this day, the areas where African Americans struggle the most are places where Democrats control every level of government. I hope that someday more blacks will understand how they’ve been duped. They should be livid. How much further could African Americans have advanced in our society if they weren’t strategically held back so certain people can be in positions of power and influence?
Most of us don’t face what some of these African Americans do; it’s not our fault, but it’s a reality that they have a lot to overcome in order to make it. But we all face the impact of the cultures we grew up in and we should count our blessings if our family gave us a good start. Life comes at us fast, but it’s imperative to slow down and reflect back on why we make some of the poor choices that we do and why we continue to make them. Although some people might snicker at them, there’s a reason why psychiatrists attempt to get people to go back in their minds to their childhoods, because answers are often found as to why we say and do the things we do. Having this knowledge can help us overcome bad ideology. In many cases, we can identify some opportunities for improvement and let’s face it, a couple of better choices made in our lives at the right time, could be a game changer.
This bit of truth is uncomfortable and that is we don’t have total control over our lives. People who have influence on us (i.e. co-workers, family, friends, minister, politicians, etc.), also help direct our paths. Those who can make decisions that influence our lives are even more dangerous if they have poor decision-making abilities. You ever have a child make a terrible choice that rocked your world? We can influence our children, but we don’t have total control over them thus we don’t have total control over the direction our lives will take either. You ever have a parent make a poor decision that had a profoundly negative impact on your life? Ever have an employer make bad decisions in running a company and you either didn’t get the upward mobility you wanted or lost your job altogether? I don’t think anything is going to wreck our world like future policy making in D.C. A socialist agenda can be catastrophic considering we’re already $22 trillion in debt. Believe me our lives will change when the federal government begins defaulting on loans. So even if we make great decisions in our lives, like retirement planning, politicians can take it all away. This is why it’s so important that we engage ourselves in politics so we can have at least some control over what happens.
Not having total control of where we’ll end up in life is certainly scary, but we can’t throw our hands up in the air about the uncontrollable. We must influence it in anyway we can. How do we do this? We reduce our exposure to bad decision making that could negatively impact our lives. Remember when our parents told us to stay away from bad kids? What was their reason? They didn’t want us to get caught up into bad choices that they made; in other words, even when we didn’t do something wrong, we might suffer the consequences of the other kid’s actions. They didn’t want us to get in trouble. They didn’t want us to learn a bad set of behaviors that would make life more challenging.
We must look around and figure out where we might have some vulnerabilities. It’s a difficult thing to do but if there are people in our lives who aren’t a good influence, we must figure out a way to wean from them. I hate to say it, but this could be family or friends as well. I’m not saying cut them off altogether, I’m just saying if they can negatively impact our lives by decisions they make, then by managing their influence, we increase our chances of success.
Another major area that impacts our choices and the direction our lives will take, is what we allow into our brains. Ghandi had these wise words: “As you think, so you shall become.” Humans are just like computers, garbage in garbage out. If we really want to make better decisions in our lives, we must keep a mindset of continuous learning. We can use the excuse that our lives are too busy, but we need to look around and how we’re spending our time.
How much time do we spend watching things like cable news? If it’s a good amount of time, how is this investment of time working for us? Is it making us better to where we can be more effective? Would it be possible during the weekend to carve out a couple of hours to read? Can we read helpful material when were in a lobby waiting for an appointment instead of playing Words with Friends, Sudoku, or catching up on entertainment news through People Magazine? If we aren’t very good with our money, there are plenty of articles and books available that are easy and quick to read. If we have young children getting into the social media world, there’s plenty of material available to help us know how to lockout inappropriate websites, track their usage, etc. This insight would be invaluable for protecting our children plus like I wrote earlier, their bad choices affect our lives. How much training have we had on how to make our marriages better? The better the information we take in, the better our decision making.
One more area to discuss. I think that years ago people were better at looking for mentors; it was definitely popular in the 70’s and 80’s, when self-help books were the rage, but somewhere along the way we’ve forgotten to tap into other peoples’ experiences whether good or bad. Maybe it makes some people feel weak to ask for advice, I don’t know. Why in the world should we make the same mistakes as other people if we can be warned ahead of time? Some people are better at certain subjects so why not get their advice?
In my opinion, the area that most people need advice is in personal finances. It’s not that people aren’t smart it’s just that a lot of people find the subject terribly boring, so they don’t read up on it. Not much else in our world is going to matter if we mess up with our finances and go broke. Or if we spend a life-time stressed out trying to stay afloat or worry about our retirement. Of course, our personal relationships and our health are critical, but there’s no doubt our families will love us more if we have more money because it means peace of mind for them; that’s just life.
With personal finances being so important, if it’s not something we’re knowledgeable about then we should find someone who is and it doesn’t have to be a personal financial consultant, it could be someone in our lives who is interested in the subject and is knowledgeable about it. If they know more than us, at least it’s a step up. The bottom line is if there are important areas in our lives that we’re not the best equipped for, we can either continue down the path we’re taking or increase the chances to make more effective decisions by tapping into other peoples’ expertise.
We’re pretty much the sum of the choices we’ve made. We are where we are in life primarily because of the decisions we’ve made every day of our lives. Little mistakes here and there can add up. Anything that we can do to make our decision making more effective, will increase the probabilities of us and our families having a better life. Some things have been wired in us, but it doesn’t mean we can’t clip those wires that are negatively impacting us. There have been examples since the beginning of mankind of people pulling themselves out of difficult circumstances; overcoming the odds. Doing more with the hand they’ve been dealt.
The beauty is, once one family starts tipping the scales towards success, the next generation topples it over. I feel so sorry for those people who don’t have hope. Those who don’t think the choices they make matter. I started off by asking whether we always make the best decisions in our lives? We don’t. The areas I listed above should reinforce to all of us that we have opportunities for improvement. As someone once said, change our thoughts and we change our world.