In the corporate world, and on social media, everyone is gunning for attention with networking opportunities, posting influential material on LinkedIn to Instagram. That is one way of looking at how we have an influence on others’ minds. Although in reality, just like the light of a dead star from the past is only reaching us in the night sky traveling many millions of light-years into our present, the influence of our actions leaves its mark in our environment and on others. We need not be an influencer or be someone of power to do that.
Our Actions Are Like Ripples
In a book about the power of our attention, titled “The Law of Attention” by Edward Salim Michael, he said that all of us express ourselves based on our tendencies. Our tendencies make up our personality and include our inclinations, temperament, weaknesses, interests in life, and all of our habits. These characteristics we carry along within touch and affect everything that we come into contact with, especially those we share close relations with. A person’s actions and how he carries those actions are the very reflection of himself/herself, just as a pebble gets thrown into a pond and causes a ripple. A simple example such as driving a car shows a person’s temperament. The driver can greatly affect the journey of those traveling with him in the car – just as a person living with others in the family.
How Our Influence is Felt
The influence of our actions can be felt in our dwelling. Someone, if attentive or sensitive enough, would be able to feel the home or the workplace of a person – if it is a place of harmony or disharmony. We may have met some obstinate people and those who are insensitive about how they carry on with certain behaviors that hurt others but nevertheless see no harm in it. Irritability no matter how small can perturb any person. A person who is perturbed by another would carry on to affect others and this results in yet more disturbances just like the expanding ripple on the pond.
Michael continued to add that a farmer who tills the land plowed by a bullock will unknowingly inflict on his animal of what he is. Whether he is sensitive, compassionate to the bullock’s sensitive needs or if he is causing unnecessary distress to the animal in carrying out its work.
It is not inconceivable to see how a person’s comportment affects everything around him or her. Whether he or she is in their usual diurnal sleep while awake, sending dispersed messages and sowing discord or harmony around them. Even down to the sound of the voice and not just its content, can one affect the people and environment all around him. Unknowingly, we imbue in others, as well as our environment what we are and this also manifests in our activities at work and at home, leaving a distinct mark even after our time on Earth. Just as certain global figures such as Gandhi or Hitler, who have left their influence deeply in the minds of generations after.
The Importance of Looking Within
Most of us feel we are rational beings but we are far from it. Most of us expect the world outside of us to be pleasant in order for us to feel relaxed and happy. But throughout our entire lives, if you have noticed, hardly anyone has cooperated with what we want most of the time. We seem to be giving in or just ignoring what others want. However, this state does not provide a life of effortless ease and stress springs up easily.
Perhaps it is time we enquire within. Of course, life is about giving and taking but there are some who constantly take or who are insensitive to our needs. Are we as insensitive or are we too sensitive? Do we give in too much? We have to have a sense of balance within. If we give, expecting would cause imbalance. If we do not give, others may feel hurt or unappreciated. It is a fine balance indeed. Happiness does not lie outside of us. It takes an inner inquiry of how our actions affect ourselves and others. Whether we feel equilibrium within and if there is a sense of flow in our bodies. We can notice a flow if for example, out of love and goodwill, we buy a gift for a person. There is a flow when the person receives and appreciates the gift (not necessary for us to want a return of anything). But there is no flow when this person berates us for the gift or ignores it.
Looking Inside with Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the mental function of remembering to observe all that takes place within us, from our body sensations, feelings to thoughts. In the example above, if we are sensitive to our body sensations, we can decide if it is a wise idea to continue giving to someone who berates us or ignores the gesture if we feel stuck within. When we notice this, we can look and inquire about our thoughts, if we are seeking something from this act of giving.
If we are seeking something and know that we can never get it from the receiver of the gift, we can at least stop ourselves in the future from hurting ourselves and hurting the other again. Or if we are giving the gift truly without even needing a gesture of appreciation from the person, we would at least feel nothing in the body obstructing the flow of breath. Anything that obstructs the flow of breath in the body can be regarded as stress – bringing nothing but harm to the body in the long-term.
To train in mindfulness, it is important to sustain your attention long enough. Otherwise, it is hard to observe or see anything in-depth at all. Or you can consider taking an 8-week Mindfulness course online to learn the technique in-depth with sharing and inquiry.