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Under the influence!  What does that phrase bring to mind?  Did it register with you as being in an altered state of mind because of the use/abuse of alcohol or other drugs, such as marijuana.  Or, possibly that altered state was the result of a crisis in your life, or perhaps the powerful influence of those around you?

We all experience that “altered state” which we may label “anxiety”, “depression”, “elation”, “anticipation”, “grief”, “anger”, “over the moon happiness”, through the entire catalog of emotions.  Powerful persons in our lives or powerful ideas can alter our thinking and our behavior.  All of these influence our thinking and our reactions.  It should not surprise us that our reaction to any given set of circumstances can be “altered” or influenced by our emotional or mental state, or perhaps, by principles that we hold immutable.

Being under the influence can be dangerous, but I contend that we all are under the influence of something or someone, or, perhaps, some ideal.  Maybe you are greatly influenced by those baby blues eyes of your 8-year-old granddaughter asking for something…please?  Maybe you are under the influence of a political party and everything you hear and see is filtered through that lens.  Perhaps that influence blinds you to facts that are present, or closes your ears to arguments of others.

I know that I am under the influence by a whole range of pressures that push me in various ways, both good and bad.  I am influenced by my faith, by what has gone on in my life, the joys and the disappointments.  I am mightily influenced by my changing and aging body, by not being able to do those things quite as well as I used to.   I most assuredly am influenced by my moderate political views, views which I see as common sense, rational, and fact-based.  My political view can cause me difficulty in the face of strong emotional positions, even among my closest friends, which I sometimes find devoid of reason, or logic or truth.  Does that mean that I have filters? That maybe I am not as “balanced” in my views as I think I am?  Am I under the influence?  Of course!

So, what influences your thinking and living?  You say you are not you under the influence of anything?  No? Really?  Well, then, how do you function?  How do you keep on an even keel?  What points you in the right direction?  What helps you make decisions?  What keeps you consistent?  Where is your compass?

Perhaps the trick is to be selective in what influences your life, staying with the positives and discarding those marginal, negative thoughts that too often bug us and take us off course.  The song “Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative” is pretty good advice, if we could only learn to master it.  The negatives in our lives can be pretty powerful and it takes real resolve to minimize the impact that negatives can have.

The song explains that accentuating the positive is the key to happiness which means is being “under the influence” of positives in our life.  You know, the good stuff.  Good stuff we cherish, that we hold dear. Good stuff we would not compromise on for anything in the world.  Good stuff is our family and friends and those traditions that we protect and look forward to.  Good stuff: those special events, or service projects, or the way we communicate love.  Good stuff is unique to each one of us.  Good stuff may go by different names for you or me, we may cherish different things, hold to different values, but at the very center we share the common influence that positives can make in our lives.

So, what are we to do?  We are to Accentuate the Positive and Eliminate the Negative!  Right?  So, let’s get busy and not mess with “Mister-In-Between”!

For What Its Worth

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