I was standing in a general store in town when my eyes met with the newspaper stand. I notice the stands nowadays aren’t the racks they once were; they seem to be grey boxes that we open upon seeing which headline we prefer. The act of actually opening a box and skimming through the newspaper before we decide we want to buy it is made a bit harder, as it is more conspicuous, and may involve more embarrassment. Perhaps there was an intention behind that.
The headlines were the usual tabloid trash, people I know little of, and concern myself even less with, are either walking out of Big Brother or having extra marital flings. Middle England has been told of the cure for everything and I’m sure the immigrants have been causing every possible grief.
We often jolly about such headlines and stories. Many of my acquaintances both bemoan and laugh at those who regurgitate them. But there is a very serious consideration here, and one which, when realised, is very empowering and full of awareness about our own responsibilities and ability to influence others.
The ability of the media to set the agenda and headlines of the day is well documented. Behind those headlines are just a few people though, perhaps a single writer and a single editor passing the article. Such power! I’ve often read those awful headlines and felt helpless at my inability to react to them, to get people to see things from a more rational perspective.
So are we sub-servant then? Does the media, in its many forms, permanently shackle us with considerations that must form our thought pattern, which then forms the script of a play entitled ‘My Life’, with encouragements, attitudes and exhortations to material gain forming its script?
James Allen, that great Victorian philosopher, spoke of the ability of a person to control his or her own destiny through the power of thought. What made him so appealing to me was his desire to present this pursuit in an unselfish way, with his focus on edification through personal growth and not material gain. Whilst I don’t necessarily side with the emotionless approach to some of his writing, ‘As a man thinketh’ is something quite special, and it’s ability to teach us to transform our outlook on life through the control of our thought process helps me understand just how much we can truly have over others as well as ourselves.
If exposure to a simple headline can set the agenda of our conversation, if not totally our thoughts, If the re-call of such thoughts and alignment of them with certain values and standards can set us on a new path in life, then surely can’t we ourselves equally influence the life of others by every action those thoughts provoke ?
Yes. And this helps us understand how powerful we are. It also liberates us at the deepest level.
I have become increasingly aware that every word, every movement, in fact any action I take has a deep influence over others. Sometimes this influence is limited, other times powerful. Either way it is a direct influence that no form of media can counteract-because it is far more personal.
I’ve noticed how people mirror others in what is a clearly sub-conscious yet very visible way. A complement brings a blush but an encouraged face. A warm tone of voice brings a considered response. I can give many examples of how an action of whatever sort, in a seemingly minor way, can alter the outcome of someone’s life.
What this means, and in truth we all know this but perhaps don’t appreciate its magnitude, is that all of us are amazing tools of influence.
Just walking past a person in the street, whether making full eye contact or not, I am affecting their life. So if I smile at them on some level I am registering. Every word exchanged, every facial expression, in fact every action in the presence of others has an influence on their existence. That’s powerful.. and it’s liberating.
So many of us will wonder at times how we can have an impact on this world, but it is particularly those who want to spread goodwill for whom this knowledge is the most relevant. After all, there aren’t so many people who want to spread malice.
I’d love to hear how many people could truly say they hold this knowledge on a conscious level. I think if people did they would pay more attention to the adaptation of their characters in daily life. Or at least they might, motivated by altruism, be more attentive in their approach to others.
I feel that the biggest power of influence is within us all, and I feel it is most strongly manifested in the goodwill and humanity of people.
No one is insignificant, but every act, of everyone, is.