We are not Fading Away

I recently read Robert Kagan’s article Not Fade Away (http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/magazine/99521/america-world-power-declinism#), which  attempts to dissect and invalidate the common opinion that America is on its decline as a superpower.

I think the facts he laid out and case he made was fairly convincing, although, I would want to do some fact checking on my end. However, what interested me the most about this article is how it applies to self development.

In the article he outlines the major successes the United States has had over its history and also outlines the major failures. What he leaves us with is that there has never been a time in the history of the United States where there hasn’t been a time period of successes without failure. Moreover, he outlines that in the 21st century there is the possibility that America actually has had more successes than failures when compared to the prior 40 years.

His last point is that ultimately the decline of America is inevitable, but whether it is in 20 years or 400 years is going to be determined by the belief of its people. The American story can be told from a lens of failure or success, and it is up to the storyteller to determine what story to believe and spread. If we choose to believe that America is on its decline, our attitudes and actions will reflect that of a declining nation which will contribute to our demise. Alternatively, if we collectively choose to believe that America is still on the rise our actions and attitudes will reflect this as well.

This is a very interesting notion since this ideology can be applied to ourselves. In our lives we are going to face tons of failure and tons of successes. It is up to us on whether to focus on one over the other. No, we shouldn’t deny our failures, rather we should accept, learn from, and move on. Yes, we should celebrate our successes. It is up to us whether we want to tell the story of our life as a string of successes or failures. Every moment is an opportunity to live in success if we choose to.

Our feelings about ourselves contribute to our everyday actions and attitudes. If we feel like we are a success we will act successful and thereby attract more success into our life. If we feel like we are a failure our attitude will project failure thereby attracting more failure into our life. It all starts with a belief.

I recently played a game that really drove home the point that a person’s internalized beliefs will manifest in their attitude and physical condition. This game starts with people wearing blue arm bands trying to race to as many checkpoints as possible. However, on the way to the checkpoints there are people with red bands trying to tag people with blue bands out of the game. Once you are caught you switch bands and join the red team and try your luck at tagging others out. 

When I wore the blue band I felt this fear and anxiety. I hid around corners, I ran cautiously and I felt weak. My heart rate was racing and my demeanor must have yelled out to others that I was on the blue team. After I was tagged out and put the red band on I instantly felt strong and invincible. I walked around as if I owned the place and wasn’t scared of anything. The anxiety and fear was instantly gone. I was really surprised by how fast my mood, thoughts, and feelings changed by switching teams. 

What band are you putting on every single day of your life? Are you acting like you are wearing the blue band or the red band? Think about the persona you have developed and the story of your existence thus far, is it a story of adventure, success, and gratitude? Or is it a story of failure, anger, and victimhood? Realize, that you are the story teller of your life and you have the power to focus on your successes while accepting your failures. 

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4 thoughts on “We are not Fading Away

  1. Hey Amit, I really enjoyed reading about our persona/how we act via the example of the red/blue band. I assume that its pretty easy for most people to accept on our success while accepting our failures is definitely difficult. When it comes to failures, I have noticed people either :1) brushing off their failures and not learning from them 2) never allow themselves to get over their failures and keep reminding themselves of their failures. If you perhaps come across anything you can share regarding overcoming failures i’d definitely be interested!

    1. Great comment. You are right, it is really easy to get caught up in thinking about your failures. I’ll try to find something and send it your way. I recently watched a webcast on Mindfulness & Compassion, and personally by practicing mindfulness I have been able to develop the awareness I need to separate myself from the endless amount of self critical thoughts I have. It isn’t completely gone, but I know that through being mindful I have been able to take a step back and just observe areas that I think I can be doing a better job in without getting attached to all the emotions.

    1. Yup, the game was definitely an interesting psychological experiment that spoke volumes to how I go about living my life day to day.

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