There is a very old story of a woman who sold fish all her life and knew nothing else. One fine summer day, she was invited to the palace to help prepare a feast for a royal festival. When she was shown to her room, she found it filled with fragrant flowers. “How disgusting,” she complained. “Please take me back and let me sleep near my pile of fish.”
Now why would she choose the stench of her dead fish over the sweet fragrance of flowers? It is simply because of habit and familiarity. It’s the old choice of picking “the devil you know.” And it confirms why we can get used to practically anything, once it becomes familiar – and it doesn’t matter if it’s good for us or not. The challenge is in being comfortable with the status quo.
In much the same way, we often hold on to our angers and sorrows, our bitterness and mediocrity because they are all we know. They offer us familiarity in an uncertain world and a self-image we can hold on to and feel comfortable with – even if it doesn’t necessarily make us happy.
But the miracle of life is that as soon as we realize that we can choose self-worth, approval and appreciation over pain and fear, a powerful force begins to work on us. The status quo changes. Over time, we can learn to acknowledge and nurture the essential goodness and strength that lies within each one of us. And we can learn to use our tremendous inner potential for both our own and the common good.
People use their inner potential every day. Challenges big and small are met and overcome, time and time again. The status quo can change whenever we want it to change, and that can become a growth habit we build. And the good news? Using more of our potential can be a habit, too.