Saturday, November 9, 2019

Be one in a million and live up to your potential

Are you one in a million? 
Psychologists estimate that not one person in a million is living up to their potential. When you're in a public setting, like on a bus, or in an elevatorlook at the faces you see and imagine what it would be like if everyone you saw could be their best self. How would that impact the world?  

That's a paraphrase from Eric Butterworth's Spiritual Economics, a book I'm reading for a class of the same name. Butterworth doesn't quote his sources, and he wrote it in 2001 so it's not current, but the 'psychologists estimate' has a ring of truth even now, although I hope it's exaggerated.  

He then asks, "Look in the mirror and reflect on this same thing. Can you imagine what your life would be like if you could realize your potential?" 

Be your best self? 

One thing I know to be true is that my 'best' self changes from day to day, sometimes hour by hour. And I think transit commuters may wear some kind of neutral, resting face while commuting, so I'm not sure that's a good indicator. However... he says "psychologists estimate" so if that's true, that's a sad statement. 

However, he also offers encouragement and hope, going on to say that our "civilization is just beginning and the best is yet to be." 

The idea of self-actualization is recent, at least in our western culture. We're just now starting to understand the brain, the mind-body connection, how we operate, and what drives us. 

We're actually better than ever

While locally and globally we have great cultural problems, including gaping economic and racial divides, statistically we're getting better in more ways than not. Author Steven Pinker talks about this and offers a lot of data in Better Angels of our Nature, to name just one example. 

So much of what we experience is our perspective, no matter where we fall on a socio-economic scale. 

Here's an exercise Butterworth suggests: 

"Why not pick out the most difficult thing facing you right now and say, 'I know that this is the best thing that could happen to me, for I know that in the happening there is revealed a new lesson to learn and some new growth to experience. I know that within me is an unborn possibility of limitless potentialities and that this is my opportunity to give birth to new ideas, new strengths, and new vision. I accept the reality of the difficulty but not its permanence. I am not at the end of anything. I am simply between opportunities, between jobs... I know that in the movement of 'it has come to pass', something wonderful is on its way to me far surpassing anything I have ever known before...'"

Everything is impermanent

My mother was fond of saying, "this too shall pass" and it used to drive me nuts. As a teenager, it wasn't what I wanted to hear when I was looking for emotional support. But she couldn't have been more right about that. Everything is impermanent. What happened moments ago will never happen in the same way again. That's true of everything, for better or worse, and it can make the tough times much easier.

I recently heard someone say to view our 'problems' as 'projects'. Makes sense. It takes the weight out of the heavy stuff. Projects have an end. They always resolve. They methodically move from point A to point Z. They can be broken up into pieces and addressed in smaller parts, making them easier to digest and complete. And they almost always end well; at the least, they're always opportunities for learning.  

Spiritual Economics is full of wise tidbits, although as someone who struggles with Biblical terms, quotes, and names, I find myself doing a lot of mental gymnastics. Butterworth was a Unity minister, so while 'new thought' and not traditionally Christian, Unity adopted a similar language. Conceptually, however, it's gratefully different, and the book is helping me fine-tune my own thinkingand get closer to living in my own potential. 

What can you do to get a step closer to living more fully? 

If you like this post or this blog resonates with you in any way, please feel free to share it, comment below, or send me a message. I'm also available for one-on-one coachingyou can find me here. 


  1. I rather like the concept of viewing problems as projects- that makes pretty much anything manageable: Set some bench marks and move along...

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