Purpose and Influence

So you can’t (or won’t) get away from negative influences?

The problem is what this does to your mind. More specifically, your thoughts.

Our minds are always buzzing with things, big or small. Whether it is your plan for the next 5 years or simply the show you are watching which you aren’t the least bit interested in. One of my favourite moments of “empty” mindedness is when I notice the pattern in which the couch fabric I am sitting on happens to be weaved, or the strokes of paint on the ceiling. This might make me sound very simple minded! ESPECIALLY when my fiance catches me staring and says “what are you thinking about?” as if I appear to be in deep thought, and all I can answer is: “well I noticed that the brush strokes on the ceiling have made an interesting pattern and I am watching it.”

If I dig deeper though and really feel like putting in the effort, I can then go on to explain that I stare at these things because I am a visual person. I dissect every day objects and patterns in my mind not only because I am an artist, but I like knowing how things are made and how they work. When I stare absent mindedly at the brush strokes of paint on the ceiling, I am visualising the order and flow of which the paint was applied onto the ceiling, where the brush was lifted up leaving tiny raised dots of paint where the bristles were pulled away, and where the more broken up strokes indicate that the painter might have been in a slight hurry or running out of paint near the end of the day.

The point I am making is how the tiniest details can be pulled apart into a million pieces and into a million further thoughts. Small things can become bigger. We may not even notice. I often don’t notice when my mind has become lost in the weave of a basket, but it happens! Before I know it I am thinking about making my own basket, then about home decor, then about paint, then paint fumes and then health.

So anyway. We can’t turn away from negative influences without replacing them with a positive influence. And if we won’t turn away from our negative influences, then we can’t discard the negative thoughts that result without choosing to divert our attention to a positive thought.

The incentive to control our thoughts is nil unless we have a goal or a purpose to direct our thoughts to.

We need a long term goal. I don’t want to say we need several long term goals because they will end up conflicting with each other and when that happens we need to find a way to prioritise which one will be the winner. We need to figure out our one overall ultimate long term purpose in life.

If you can’t figure out what your purpose is just yet, then make that your number one goal for now: to find out what your purpose is!

When we have found that purpose, that number one priority, it simplifies your life! As you go over the decisions of your day, ask yourself “will this bring me closer to fulfilling my purpose in life?” It can take a lot of discipline to answer this to yourself honestly but it reminds you of your priorities and how the actions you make affect each of them.

Why has God given you life and put you in this world?

What did He envision you doing to contribute to this world which He made?

It could appear big or small to others but this is only about you. No one else.

I know mine would actually seem quite small in many peoples eyes, but I know it’s worth and if I manage to live it out until the day I leave this world then I will be as happy and content as I ever could be.


Smileyface :)

P.S. I wrote this while listening to Alicia Keys. Her music has been a positive influence for the past 10 or so years of my life!


Easily Influenced?

I can be easily influenced.


I try to surround myself with POSITIVE influences!

I think people underestimate the power of other influences in their lives. I had to say this because many people (including myself) often feel too proud or even too “grown up” to be influenced by others. I used to feel like I was too smart to be easily influenced.

But then I realised, it’s not that I was too smart to be easily influenced. It’s that I had been surrounded by intelligent people that acted as positive influences in my life and my self-image. So how could I possibly go down a bad road when I am only interacting with positive influences?

This realisation didn’t happen overnight. But from my experiences over the years with a few different groups of people, my standards and views on life flow in response to who and what is going on around me. If you surround yourself with people who have what you would consider a lower moral standard than yourself (and lets be honest, cutting all the niceties and polite-ness, you KNOW when this is the case!) you begin to feel like you are an amazingly wise and saintly person! You may then start to feel like because of all your hard work and moral value, you can afford to relax a little and give in to that one vice which appears innocent compared to what’s going on around you. After all, it’s not like you’re being as bad as them!

This is not healthy, this is how bad habits are formed. But it happens. As humans we always compare and most things are relative. I know it!

The wake up call comes when you suddenly find yourself surrounded by people of a higher moral standard than you. It’s very simple! All of a sudden you realise that you would rather not share the stories of those tiny little vices you’ve been indulging in, however small they are. You may even feel a little ashamed! Stay around these people long enough, and you will find yourself phasing out those vices once again. Eventually.

I guess it comes down to which influence you spend more time with. This will end up being your primary influence and the winner of your soul. Boom.

I know that everyone has different degrees of this. We are not all EXACTLY the same. Some people appear much harder to influence than others, but I would like to argue that no one gets this way on their own. If I meet someone who appears to be very well grounded in their values and principles… someone who is simply just very hard to influence, then I will assume that they probably have a much stronger influence in their life with which they choose to really focus themselves. Positive or negative.

This is why I find that religion is such a gift to humanity.

I am fully aware that there are lots of atheists out there living full and happy lives filled with deep inner peace and a love for their neighbours and the world around them. My Dad has always been a real example of this to me. He is an atheist, and I can easily say that he is the most kind hearted person I know. The influences that contribute to who he is are his parents (who are in fact Christian) and his siblings. Their influence is held on to and continued through my Dad’s strong sense of purpose to be a good Dad and provider for our family. I could dedicate an entire book to his example (if I could write a book!).

But family is not the only influence in anyone’s life. I’ve had friends, teachers, classmates, communities, culture, tv, music, art, the list goes ooooonnnnnn….. All of these things are my influences and all of these things have a tendency to send mixed signals from time to time.

I need guidance to know when to follow and when to lead, when to hold on and when to let go, what to believe in and what to be wary of.

I can’t come up with this all by myself.

I need a positive and constant influence to surround myself with.

This is one reason why I have been gradually introducing Catholicism to myself over the past few years. It’s a lot to take on all at once.

But God is one influence in my life who I can say with confidence will always lead me down the right path, keeping in mind that I need to know how to apply my belief and understand God according to the context of what is written and what I have been taught. God is also the one influence who I could present any issue to without worrying about the shame or embarrassment I would rather not put myself through when I am afraid to speak to anyone else. Stating the obvious: I care about how people see me, especially the people I am closest to. God however already knows all there is to me so there’s no point in hiding.

I can’t say that religion is black and white, the Bible, as with any religious text, is very open to interpretation hence there are many different sectors of Christianity who all interprate the Bible differently. I need to take the time to read, pray and meditate on what I am reading and maybe speak with someone about it as well. Someone who I respect and who also knows the Bible and Catholicism better than I do! Speaking indirectly about an issue with someone by asking questions about the Bible may be a lot easier than speaking directly about whatever the issue is. Of course they may read me and figure out what it is that is really bothering me, I have to decide if I want to take that risk!

Anyway, what this all comes down to is I believe that no matter how “mature” we are, we are all easily influenced. The key is to try and choose your influences as wisely as possible. Be picky! Be picky with who your friends are, be picky about the music you listen to and be picky about the TV you watch. Be mindful about how much time you spend with negative influences you can’t avoid, and be determined to spend at least equal or more time than that with the influences you need.

In fact you can start by just choosing one influence that you know you can always depend on to lead you down the right path. When you have found that influence feel free to question it at times, questions lead to a deeper understanding, but do not ever turn your back on it. Keep it with you.

I would like to recommend this post, Everyone Worships Something, on a blog which I don’t always agree with, but I do believe holds a lot of insight and wisdom which I can’t get enough of! I love reading each post as it comes up on my Reader and they always give me something to really think about.

I think I could write half a dissertation about influences, so I will just leave it at that for now!

Much Love!

Smileyface :-)

Tillah Willah

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