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“Revel in the ordinary.” M J Ryan

This isn’t a criticism of ‘self-help’ literature – a term I detest – but the well-motivated hype of some of the books and seminars just doesn’t suit a lot of us. We don’t all want to be millionaires and we don’t all want to be super-fit and we don’t all want big houses and big cars. We’d like some of those things, certainly. Our upbringing may have instilled in us the false belief that ‘money’ and ‘stuff’ are signs of a life well lived.

Some of us, on the other hand, just want to be ‘good people’. Living honestly, without conflict, with extreme levels of inner peace from living with integrity. And above all, without the expectation and even imposition by others that we should care for the things they are passionate about, and that if we don’t we are at fault.

Stephen Covey’s Circle of Influence and Circle of Concern illustrate my ‘desire’ for that. In the ‘outer’ Circle of Concern is pretty much everything we hear about, see, or affects us, even if only tangentially. In the ‘inner’ Circle of Influence are the things that are in that bigger Circle of Concern, but about which we can do something. Including ‘care’, as in ‘care about’.

So when someone else demands that I care about things that aren’t in that Circle of Influence – guess what, my response will be indicative of my disinterest. And that’s when the fights start!

(My intent is that I won’t let myself get dragged into such debates, but (unfortunately) I am human and if there’s one thing that will grab my attention, it is when someone uses enormous generalisations about a group, attacks them with vitriolic language, and then tries to use an academic argument to justify what, once a general ‘lumping together’ was used to start the attack, is automatically unsupportable simply because of that initial generalisation! For example, as soon as you say ‘ALL politicians are corrupt’ you cannot then use an academic argument to justify that case because you haven’t met them all. It’s an academically unsound argument! Nor can you say ‘all (opposing party) politicians are corrupt, because your ideological separation is all too specific – and obvious.)

Back to the point. Just because I want to be an ordinary man who occasionally does something great doesn’t mean I should be subjected to someone else’s hyperactive and enthusiastic counsel to spend hours trying to build big piles of money. As a result, while I am in no way ‘affluent’ I am ‘comfortable’ and secure and have no fears. My goal, for now, is to be wholly congruent with my beliefs and values and to encourage others to do the same.

Be congruent. But remember that congruence for you does not mean that I have to believe and value the same things as you. AND in recognising that, we can respect each other’s’ viewpoints without necessarily adopting them. We can disagree and both be congruent with what we believe, and neither will be less for that unless the generalised attacks begin.

And just ‘cos I ain’t rich doesn’t mean you are better than me, or more successful (by society’s standards). Nor does it mean I am better than you because I have neither money nor ‘societal success’. But rest assured – being rich doesn’t make you successful.

Being congruent does.