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One thing we often aren’t prepared for in life as we get older, is the realisation of the cold, hard truths of the real world. Humans. They lie, cheat, steal, and often only look out for themselves. Bullshit isn’t transparent, and harmful/hurtful behaviour isn’t sugar coated or justified. Truth is that someone, at some point, for some reason (or, if we’re really unfortunate, seemingly for no reason at all) is going to take an opportunity to screw you over. In one way or another, whether they are aware of it or not, their behaviour and actions will be of some benefit to themselves. Stemming from the instinctual fight for survival that is ingrained in all of us, with added selfishness and douchebaggery, from our instincts evolving to fit the world we live in today.

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If some thug stands you over and holds you at knife point, taking from you your money, dignity and sense of security, they are sure to be found lacking those things in themselves. If the barrister working at your local coffee shop knowingly short-changes you and you are left feeling ripped off, they in turn may be feeling cheated in some way, and maybe even feel like they’re somehow restoring karmic balance. If a friend lies to you or betrays your trust leaving you insecure and questioning your investment in this person and/or people in general, similarly they may question the character and integrity of themselves, of you or of others around them, wanting to gain your outwardly percieved sureness in yourself and your perspective.

In some ways, it is a sort of trade. A person will take good things and feelings from you, in exchange leaving behind their own negativity and bad karma they are compelled to dish out. Doesn’t seem fair, does it?

Most of you will already be aware of these things to some degree. In the same vein, and what I am only now finally starting to accept myself, is that as much as we might like to think otherwise, nobody is perfect. Rose coloured glasses, insecurity or pure innocence may send us spiralling in to excuse-ridden denial, but the ones we put up on a pedestal, admire and respect for some reason or another, ultimately, are human. Just like you and I. Let’s be honest, life would be pretty mundayne if we were perfect anyway, am I right? But we’re not at all. The fact is, imperfection is part of enduring the human condition from which we all must suffer.

Being in a reflective and somewhat pessimistic mood today, I feel compelled to give advice from some of my own difficult learnings in life. First, retrospect is a wonderful thing. Don’t immediately discount those who are close to you if they may have let you down in some way along the journey you have shared together. Don’t be mad at the world and shy away. Do not let pain, fear or insecurity rule you. Remember that you’re not perfect either. Nor am I – far from it, in fact. And there must be some good in those others that you have chosen to share your world with, that’s why you chose to invite them in to your corner of the world in the first instance. Remember why.

There are plenty of people you will encounter in life whose pure intention is to gain something from you. They won’t have any desire for friendship, loyalty or to learn who you are. We must learn to be careful, as these types can often be a ‘wolf in sheeps clothing.’

Invest your time and energy in people who are worth it to you, don’t end up being someone who has saturated their life solely with people who are of use to them. Loyalty, trust, respect, and real friendship, are more important. And they are all on a two way street. In fact any functional relationship is.

All of this got me thinking about this Pay It Forward philosophy, and the time and personal energy I had invested in exploring the direct effects of this a few months back. This may be worth revisiting.

As we spend time questioning our world perspectives, intentions of others and the karmic effects we notice day to day, to me it becomes more evident that the only differences we can make, start from within ourselves.

We can start small. Smile at yourself in the mirror each morning. Tell yourself you believe you are a good person. Invest in your health. I always bring it back to the basic cycle of ‘good things in, good things out.’ We can do small, almost seemingly insignificant things for others that could actually make the world of difference to them. Hold the elevator door for someone. Smile at a stranger passing you by in the street. Buy a work colleague a coffee.

This is a list entitled ’88 ways to make a stranger smile.’ Take a look at it if you will. I used this as a checklist a few months back, when I undertook a self-imposed exploration, to increase positive energy not only for myself, but for others around me day to day. Not only did this little experiment increase said energy, it also encouraged me to become more self-aware, and changed my approach of how to endure those tough times that I know all too well, using a far less negative perspective. We may not be able to change the way others behave, but we can choose what we do with how people, events and other external factors make us feel.

So don’t look at the world thinking you may as well get even with every single person who has let you down. Don’t give up. Choose to create good energy, choose to break the cycle of negativity, and choose to Pay It Forward.

Put a coin in the karma bank… hell, throw in a few.

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Are you already paying it forward in some way? I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Please use the comments section below.

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