It’s true. Lots of tough things happen to lots of good people. Nothing new about that. However, we can make matters worse by continually focusing on the tough stuff. Life isn’t so much what happens to us as what we DO about what happens to us.
So what do we do? What action do we take? Grief can be lightened or intensified. Sorrow can be an escape from life or a normal part of adjustment. Anger can be debilitating or harnessed to power great causes. Uncertainty can leave us paralyzed, forever on edge. Or it can prompt us to take new paths, to discover what would have been missed, to make connections we would have overlooked. We choose whether we wake up with the proverbial “Good morning, God!” or “Good God. Morning!”
We decide, consciously or not, thoughtfully or not, to make a good day – or complain about a bad day. Those who make the most of whatever life hands them use the Green Light style. They make the best of every situation. They can also guide others who want a better way. Their Green Light thoughts lead to Green Light words and then to Green Light ACTS. Like a magnet, they draw out and bring together the best of everyone.
In the short term, it’s often easier to give up, to think Red, speak Red, act Red. In the long term, it’s a life sentence of hard labor – short on laughs and long on gripes, short on relationships and long on loneliness. We get GO! How to Think, Speak and ACT to Make Good Things Happen our teeth drilled not because it’s fun but because it’s wise. It’s tough. We do it anyway.
|Red Light Focus:Obstacles
Worst Case Scenario
Can we…? NO!
Will it work?
|Green Light Focus: Objectives
Ideal Case Scenario
How can we…?
How does it work?
Do we want to be in charge of our life or host our own pity party? Many will join the Poor Me Parade – but no one will march to Sousa. No one will wear a grin, let alone a big red clown nose. Crowds won’t line the streets to see who floats by.
Red Lighters, like Chicken Little, continually sound the alarm, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” Green Light creatives concoct sky-hooks and hold things up. They determine, as best they can, what is the reality of the situation. Then they take the ACTION they believe produces the best outcomes. They also put on a happy face – or at least a stiff upper lip – and carry on.
With incomplete information, with no crystal ball projecting a view into the future, Green Lighters make the best decisions they can at the time. As new data, new circumstances, new options appear, they readjust and again take the best ACTION they can at the time. Action uplifts and encourages. Inaction fosters a feeling of being helpless, discouraged, and adrift.
Red Light pulls us into a negative downward spiral.
Green Light draws us into a positive upward spiral.
Many of us are now much better health advocates for ourselves, no longer expecting the medical profession to do it all for us. We must also be our own life advocate, our own decision-maker, designer of our future. It never was a good idea to trust it to some person or program. Inventing, creating, designing, and directing our destiny – that’s the Green Light style. (Green Lighters
pull themselves up by their light bulbs!) We can always give up. We can’t always change our mind, say, “Oops. I want my life back,” and thus undo the damage.
Green Light Questions
What information do I need?
What shall I ignore? Forget?
What perceptions need to change?
What are the odds I’ll face a major disaster?
What can I control? Influence?
What is my focus?
Auto accidents kill thousands a year, yet people don’t quit driving for fear of crashes. Remaining in the driver’s seat means more control of the destination. Turning the wheel over to fear leads to dead-ends. Fear will never take us where we want to go.
So DO something. Not only will it feel good. It will achieve good – at least for ourselves, often for others. Inaction leaves us even more vulnerable – victims in waiting. Victimhood and feeling vulnerable – twin Red Lights often in the media spotlight. When things go well it rarely makes the news. We never know what nasties we prevent – by our careful choices, kind concern, wise actions. Commend yourself for them anyway.
We can be timid followers or fearful, angry, mindless revenge-seekers. Choose to be strong, caring, generous, unified people. We possess the power of choice. Every day, every moment, we can choose to be fearful or confident, to worry or to do the best we can – and relax. The more we worry, the more we have to worry about. We increase our stress and decrease our health. We perform a disservice to ourselves, to those who love us – and to our world as well.
Green Light Questions that Reveal Insights
What am I undervaluing, misunderstanding, or not communicating?
What people, priority, conflict, or legacy needs attention?
How might I maintain a sense of optimism, control, normalcy, future?
How might I best serve my family, group, society?
What are the things I need to do, not to do?
What is my best balancing act between inertia and frenzy?
Many things are still right with the world. We won’t often find them featured in the media or rising from the masses. Know whom to have faith in, whom to count on for a boost, for ideas and options, for a nudge in a better direction.
Ask the questions that:
- Prompt the thinking.
- Force the discoveries.
- Propel the ACTION.
Respond to a question posed here. Choose an action – one that seems especially important right now. Take a few moments to think deeply about it. Notice what you feel about it. We tend either to avoid action totally or to charge into things without thought. That can lead to unintended outcomes and unexpected consequences, painting our world a deeper Red. Think new thoughts. Convert them to new Green action.
How might I give someone a laugh? A break? Hope? Who might give me a lift? A smile? Comfort? How soon might I take action on these? When the going gets tough, the tough – and the wise – go Green. Okay, maybe that sounds trite or trivial. If you’ve read this far, you know a Red Light flicked on. (Red: the quick, unwise reflex, the rush to negative judgment). Switch to Green and tweak the ideas to make them work for you.
I can’t forget this.
I don’t feel safe anywhere.
I look at everything & worry.
I’m a victim. Life’s a drag.
I direct my thoughts well.
I am happily moving ahead.
I choose my view confidently.
I am a victor. Life is good.
Choose your dominant style. Think, “In what ways, places, and situations might I Green Light things?” Put your Green glasses on and look around. Find the good news, great role models, superb creativity, stunning courage, amazing selflessness. Discover and address community needs. Notice new possibilities, opportunities, and urgencies. Everyone is Green some and Red some. How might we promote more of the good (Green) stuff and diminish more of the other (Red)? Take action. Take care of yourself. Then you can also better take care for others. Make a list of:
- 10 things that make you smile. Smile. Again.
- 9 memories that make you feel honored. Feel them.
- 8 gifts you’d like to give. Give them.
- 7 things you want to read. Read them.
- 6 people you want to meet. Meet them
- 5 interesting places you’ve never seen. See them.
- 4 positive experiences you’ve never had. Have them.
- 3 favorite childhood activities you still like. Do them.
- 2 people you want to know better. Reach them.
- 1 new quality you’d like in your life. Grow it.
So you may not do it all. So you may only do one. Do one. It’s worth a salute. You chose a constructive act and did it. ACTION – Green Light ACTION – one of the best ways out of the dumps and into the mounds – of joy.
What we see is what we get, for the most part. So what do we look at? Is it the upbeat or the downer? The disaster or the good deed? The failure or the breakthrough? The terrible stuff we won’t affect or the need we can address? Red or Green? It’s our choice. It’s always been our choice. What color life shall we choose? Every day presents another chance to get a life – again. Pause, take a deep breath, then go out and Green it up.
How about, just as an experiment, you explore re-inventing yourself. Create yourself anew. Savor and celebrate all the wondrous elements you’ve been growing yourself with over the years. Consider what you might like to add, tweak, or omit. You may discover you allowed parts into yourself that, upon examination you figure, “Hey, I don’t really want that anymore. Actually, maybe I never wanted it. I didn’t think about it. I just let it be a piece of me.” How do you choose which parts to keep in the re-created you and which to leave out? One way is to weigh them on the Green Light/Red Light scale. In general, Green Light is the good stuff. Red Light is the other stuff. For example, if you want to bake a great cake, you think about gathering ingredients. You remember chocolate, flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla bean extract are good things to stir in. Onions and ammonia, soap, and sand make bitter batter so they don’t make the list. Likewise, in creating an even greater new YOU, you probably want some of your favorite personal ingredients, like your passion and compassion, your creativity, sense of humor, and your ability successfully to complete significant projects. You might also sprinkle in your strengths, interests, achievements, relationships, goals, dreams, and aspirations – those hearty elements that renew your Self. These are Green Light ingredients.
What color is your style? How do you think, speak, ACT?
What you don’t like
Focused on : Obstacle
Attention: OFF goal
Intention: MISS goal
What you prefer
Focused on: Objective
Attention: ON goal
Intention: GET GOAL
Old insults, grudges, arguments, embarrassments, failures, and feuds don’t make it to the pot of possibilities when cookin’ up the new You. Sarcasm, put-downs, belligerence, dishonesty, selfishness, and cruelty only show up in the garbage can. They may appear in pity party recipes (with more pity than party.) These are Red Light ingredients.
Red Light: Life is a pile of pits. Green Light: Life is a bowl of cherries.
We can’t change our history. We can change our view of it. We can’t rebirth ourselves by picking new parents and a new childhood. We can, every day, rebirth ourselves by picking new viewpoints. They can range from deep dark Red to bright glowing Green. It’s a bit Red to expect to be Green all the time – yet it’s a good target at which to aim. Practice the skill of Green Light and watch your life get Greener. Count your blessings.
Red Light: I don’t have ONE! Green Light: 101, 102, 103….
People can paint the world Red. For example, check out the weather reports. One day it’s sunny half of the time, cloudy half of the time, with five minutes of rain – in one small area. What’s the report? “It rained.” Rain is often considered Red weather. Red gets reported. A day 95 percent Greenish may get reported as 100 percent Red. So make your own weather report. It’s an interpretation anyway, so have at it. You want a Green day? Rain or shine, just tune in to your own Green weather report! What color do you focus on?
|Red Light * Magnify the bad stuff. Minify the good stuff.
What you don’t have
What you don’t want
What you want less of
What makes you scowl
What makes you angry
* Doing something destructive about it could make it Red.
|Green Light * Magnify the good stuff. Minify the bad stuff.
What you have
What you want
What you want more of
What makes you smile
What makes you excite
*Doing something constructive about it could make it Green.
Create a Green Light life. Consider it a game: how Green can you be? How quickly can you catch yourself when you tilt toward Red? How fast can you shift back to Green? How long can you maintain the shift? Just playing around with these questions lightens your spirit and makes it easier to Green up your viewpoint. With apologies to Dr. Seuss, go get some Green eggs – and ham it up. Take a swig of Green bean extract, then playfully, artfully, create your new role. Act the part of a Green being. The world needs more Green beings!
Take the Green Light game a step further and view a situation as a stage production. Your life is the play. The current scene is being written. What role do you want to play? What role do you not want to play? How will you choose to play it in various situations, with various characters? Pick a scene from your recent past that didn’t go the way you wanted, where you didn’t handle it the way you prefer. Replay it in your mind. Rewrite the script the way you like, then Green up your role in the next performance.
Who is your Chief Life Officer, your CLO? You are!
Red Light: Why I can’t… Green Light: How I can…
When you see life as a game, you can step back a bit. You see the things you missed when the focus was on how others disappointed you, ignored you, treated you unfairly. (Insert whatever Red Light stuff is in your life). To keep the game going in your favor, when you find yourself in a challenging situation, ask yourself three questions:
1. How does it look from a Green Light viewpoint?
2. How does it look from a Red Light viewpoint?
3. How do I want to see it?
Then decide to see the view you chose. Make a conscious choice instead of auto-piloting through life. That helps free you from being locked in old patterns and beliefs – and seeing Red.
Red Light blocks creativity. Green Light unlocks creativity.
When you feel yourself slipping back into Red Light modes, commend yourself for noticing. Then just repeat the process. Ask the questions. Choose the view. You’ll soon recognize the Red earlier in the game and shift more quickly and easily. Handle the Red stuff Greenly.
Who makes you grin? Who makes you frown? Who turns your world quite upside down?
Who decides it’s ease or it’s strife? Who’s in charge of you and your life?
Green Light - first aid for the Red cross.
It is easy to be cross with oneself. Be careful not to harp at yourself – it’s not a pretty sound. Notice your self-talk. What do you whisper so softly in your head that you don’t quite catch the words but you sure catch the feeling? That’s the Red Light stuff – discouragement, ridicule, failure feelings – a nagging, a doubting of your abilities. Pitch those contaminated ingredients into the Red refuse bin – to be refused – tossed out with the rest of the trash of putdowns and deflators. Mine your experiences for the nuggets you can grasp. Keep the lessons. Lose the lectures. (Failure is just an event minus the message. If you got the lesson, it wasn’t failure. It was an experiment that led to a discovery).
Put on your Green glasses. See the world you want. Who decides?
Who decides what you think, what you feel?
Who decides what you say, what you do?
Who decides how you view a memory?
Who decides how you interpret a life event?
Happiness doesn’t depend on circumstances. They change.
Happiness depends on our decisions. We, too, can always change.
The most intelligent life – on any planet – is Green!
So – go ahead. Get the Red out. Turn yourself into a bright Green bein’! The Jolly Green Giant pales next to you.
Red Light: The universe is conspiring to do me harm.
Green Light: The universe is conspiring to do me good.
So WAKE-UP! Live the life you love. Choose today, at this moment, this tiny precious piece of the present, to create a Green Light being. It’s as easy as that – and as challenging as that. Collect the choicest Green ingredients and cook up a delicious, splendiferous new YOU – a human being Green. A Green being. Tis the season. Tis always the season for reNEWal. So grow your Greens!
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(“Cook Up a New You” appeared in “Stories of Personal Transformation,” Little Seed Publications, 2007.)