We’re really good at coming up with reasons why we can’t, or why we shouldn’t, or how things could go wrong. We’re good at weighing ourselves down and tying ourselves to old fears. If we spent the same amount of time imagining the opposite, we might actually get somewhere, if only because we now act as though it’s possible. That’s the most obvious mechanism behind all the woo-woo law of attraction stuff: When you believe it’s possible, you act like it is.
When I tell myself, “Ashley. There is no reason why you can’t be a successful fantasy author,” I write a whole lot more. When I think, “There’s no reason why I can’t gain more traction with my music,” I put a lot more into my music and with joy. So start asking yourself,
Why not you? And why not indeed. This is one of the most important questions I’ve come up with, to ask myself daily. It basically sums up the way I’ve started to live my life. I know how life will be with the other attitude, the attitude of ‘how could I possibly?’ That life is stressful, tedious, uncertain and frustrating. I’ve been living that life, that way, for long enough to have conducted a fair experiment.
But living in the ‘why not’? That’s all new.
And the fact is, there is far more truth in ‘why not’ than ‘how could I possibly.’ The world, in its best state, absolutely runs on optimism and imagination. Don’t believe me?
Imagine spending years trying to figure out how to put a candle into a format that could be turned on and off, something that has never been done. That level of optimism, imagination and expertise gave the world the lightbulb, which revolutionized education and improved life for millions of people. And it’s the precursor to the light in your computer, phone, car.
This world exists in its current form, with all the amenities we daily enjoy, all the conveniences, and the massive, incredible infrastructure we take for granted, because a long line of people through history said, “Why not?”
If the Roman general Hannibal Barca could get elephants over the Alps (however it turned out), you can figure out a way to do that thing and do it really well.
If Bruce Lee could become a martial artist, after getting into a motorcycle accident that almost claimed his life and that doctors said would claim his ability to walk, you can start looking for a new job with vigor. If a team of scientists can defy gravity and get a rocket beyond the atmosphere, you can forgive that one person and release the bitterness that is holding you back.
You can let go of old things. You can welcome in the new. You can change, and change your world. People have been doing it for thousands of years.
I don’t say this to minimize your struggles. I say it to normalize them.
Our view of the world is limited by our perspective. Babies famously assume the whole world revolves around them. As we age, we’re supposed to grow out of that. Alas, I find that this isn’t always the case with me. When it comes to disappointment, failure, depression, grief, I tend to think that I am the oNly human in existence who has ever gone through it to this degree. Or behave as if I actively believe that.
But it’s nonsense.
There is just no way that you and I are the first to struggle with making our ideas become real, tangible things. In fact, when you write it out, it is clearly impossible. But…the world has advanced so far. If people struggle like us, and things still happen, what does that mean? It means that the people who got us here may have struggled internally just as much as we do, yet still prevailed. We are not the first to try and fail, nor the first to fail and get back up. This process is more the rule than the exception, I believe.
So take heart, dear reader, in the knowledge that many people before you have doubted themselves. And that, at the end of the day, they chose to err on the side of ‘why not.’
You can, too.
Remember, you have a powerful mind, an iron will and the heart of a lion.