The writing of this essay has been on my mind for quite some time.  Maybe some of my procrastination has to do with my awareness that understanding this concept and putting it to use can be a powerful, life altering activity.    My concern is: Can I adequately communicate it in this essay?  I have accepted the assignment.

For almost 30 years I have been a student of a spiritual path described in the three books of A Course in Miracles.  The Course teaches that there are only two basic emotions in our lives; they are love and fear.  All of our many emotional reactions are derivatives of one or the other.  For example selfishness, greed, revenge, anger, jealousy, lying, low self-esteem, intolerance and arrogance are all fear-based.  Conversely, generosity, forgiveness, compassion, tolerance, honesty and humility are love-based.  It is important to remember; every fear-based emotion has a love-based opposite.

Further it is important for us to realize that fear and love are opposites and co-variables.  They are opposites because we cannot be loving and fearful at the same time.  They are co-variables because if love goes up in our lives fear goes down and vice-versa. 

We probably are in agreement that all mentally healthy people want to be happy.  Let us also carefully consider that we can greatly influence the degree of happiness we experience by the decisions we make -- if we make more fear-based decisions than love-based ones we live with more fear -- if we make more love-based decisions we live with more love.  Of course, happiness is on the love-based side of the equation. 

The Influence of Attitudes

Your choice to make fear-based or love-based decisions will probably be influenced by another belief system/mental factor which can be described as an attitude.

·        One attitude is: We live in a world of plenty -- there is enough of everything.

                           Or it’s opposite

·        We live in a world of shortages.
If you think we live in a world of shortages fear will likely influence your primary motivation to be: What’s in it for me?  Rather than; “What is in the best interest of all concerned, including me?” 
To benefit from making love-based decisions -- taking the high road-- requires disciplining ourselves to consciously apply it, on a continuous basis, to every situation requiring a decision. It is of paramount importance to be ever mindful that fear-based decisions will not serve my desire for happiness -- and most importantly, I CAN CHOOSE AGAIN --it is that simple! 

For a number of years I have highly respected the work of research psychologist Dr. J. B. Rotter.  In his book, Locus of Control, he identified two ways of thinking that effect a person’s decision making.  He referred to people as being either “Internals” or “Externals.” In short, Internals are optimists and Externals are pessimists.  Further he concluded that Externals believe in “fate, luck and powerful others” while Internals believe, “I am in charge of my own destiny.”

A further conclusion of Dr. Rotter is that Internals have a much greater tendency to trust while Externals are “non-trusters.” I found his work to be very useful, especially many clearly defined differences in quality of life between the two ways of thinking and being.  For example his research clearly validated the following:  Trusters (Internals) live longer; are happier; have more friends; have fewer heart attacks and other debilitating illnesses. He did find however that trusters are often taken advantage of, however, non-trusters miss out on many more of life’s joyful experiences.  One of his major conclusions was that, “It is better to trust unless you have reason not to!”
Non-trusters are much more likely to take the low road.

NOTE: One of Dr. Covey’s greatest contributions to our society was his book The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.  The following essay is without doubt equally true and useful.

There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization, nation, economy, and civilization throughout the world -- one thing which, if removed, will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business, the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, the deepest love.
        On the other hand, if developed and leveraged, that one thing has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity in every dimension of life.  Yet, it is the least understood, most neglected, and most underestimated possibility of our time.

        That one thing is trust.
Trust impacts us 24/7, 365 days a year.  It undergirds and affects the quality of every relationship, every work project, every business venture, and every effort in which we are engaged.  It changes the quality of every present moment and alters the trajectory on outcome of every future moment of our lives -- both personally and professionally.

        Contrary to what most people believe, trust is not some soft, illusive quality that you either have or you don’t; rather trust is a pragmatic, tangible, actionable asset that you can create -- much faster than you probably think possible.
        While corporate scandals, terrorist threats, office politics, and broken relationships have created low trust on almost every front, I contend that the possibility to establish, grow, extend, and restore trust is not only vital to our personal and interpersonal well-being; it is the key leadership competency of the new global economy.

        I am also convinced that in every situation, nothing is as fast as the speed of trust. And, contrary to popular belief, trust is something you can do something about.  In fact, you can get good at it!

                                                                   Stephen Covey

Now let us talk about “high road” decisions and “low road” decisions.

--Sometimes we rationalize that we are “justified” to take the low road.  [RATIONALIZE—to devise self-satisfying but incorrect reasons for one’s behavior.  American Heritage Dictionary]
--It may be “legal” to take the low road.

--It is often more profitable to take the low road.
--Others might see taking the low road as the smart choice.

--Laziness might influence me to take the low road.

--Revenge might be my justification to take the low road.

In recent years we have heard the term “in the box.”  My senior citizen (read old fashioned) understanding of that term is that if I am “in the box” I will have increased difficulty being effective in my communications and therefore have greater difficulty accomplishing my objectives.  Not a good place to be!  I can put myself in the box by doing something that might be greatly -- or even marginally -- a violation of my value system and trying to justify it.  Making excuses inside my own head -- rationalizing.

The real problem is what happens next.  My avoidance of my own perception of responsible behavior leads me to feelings of guilt and I am led to rationalize by blaming others or circumstances over which I have no control -- I have chosen to be a victim.  The consequence of this is self-deception.  Said another way it is “intellectual dishonesty” -- being dishonest with myself.
At a very real and deep level avoidance of the responsibility of living my values leads to the penalty of reduced self-worth and a sense of powerlessness.  These factors will reduce my acceptance that I am in charge of my own destiny -- a great loss to quality of life.

Always take the high road!


Email  bud.budham@gmail.com