I’m grateful to my good friend Jane for inspiring me to write this post. She recently wrote an excellent comment to an earlier post of mine called ‘So What’s Stopping You?’ and in her reply she quoted Albus Dumbledore. For those of you who might not know, Dumbledore is the Headmaster at Hogwarts School in the Harry Potter books. Jane’s use of a Dumbledore quote made me curious to find out what other wise words he has come up with – and there were quite a few. I wondered how we might be able to connect some of them to the real world.
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” and “Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” How true these both are. Making choices is something we are doing all of the time. Sometimes those choices are simple and obvious but at other times we are called upon to make more difficult choices and how often do we go for the easy option?
Victor Frankl said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In those choices lie our growth and happiness.” I find this a very powerful quote because it seems to encapsulate the very essence of being human. It is an exciting thought that we all face that ‘space’ on a daily basis, that opportunity to choose our response, and that the consequences of those responses can be life changing. Being aware that such a ‘space’ exists should encourage us to slow down and make good use of it.
Another Dumbledore quote is, “Of course it’s happening in your head Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real.” It is in our heads that our dreams first take shape. It is those pictures that we create in our minds that help us to determine the life that we want to live. This includes both positive and negative, good and bad. Our actions will always start out as ideas inside our head. What we have to do is to be aware of the power that those thoughts have upon our actions, this takes us back again to the idea of the space between stimulus and response, thoughts and action. That gap is the choice we make that determines if our action is positive or negative.
One of the problems that we face is that our dreams, those pictures we have in our head, are influenced by our surroundings. It is the stimuli that the brain lets in that determines our thoughts, our ideas. Our brains are built to filter out much of the stimulation that impacts upon us every minute of the day. Without this filtering we would not be able to cope with the constant bombardment on our senses. The problem is that we often filter out information that might be useful to help us develop and put in place powerful dreams. Daniel Goleman says, “The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.” So what have you failed to notice today? Or more importantly when will you start to notice that you are failing to notice?