A passionate motivational speaker and life coach with a new reality-based, no-nonsense approach, Terry Taylor is the designer of a unique strategy for reaching your goals and loving your life. Creator of the CD program, 8 Steps For Reclaiming Your Life, and author of the upcoming book, This Is Your Life: No Apology Needed, her mission is to help you to break free from conflict, confusion and the control of others so you can go after your goals guilt-free, with confidence and joy.

Holiday Joy — What’s Your Default Setting?

What is your general feeling about life? How do you usually feel about yourself, the world, and other people?

• Are you mostly “down” (depressed, tense, anxious) until a reason to smile happens to pop up?

• Or are you mostly “up” (cheerful, excited, passionate) until a reason to frown pops up?

Your default setting is your habitual overall outlook on life. It’s powerful because it underlies your entire approach to life. The danger is that it can be adopted without much thought at a very young age and never questioned. The good news is that it can be consciously and carefully chosen (and updated) as an adult.

Your default setting is something like the default setting on your computer. If your default setting for your screen is to show only one page at a time, that’s all you’ll get every time you want to create a document – unless you change the default setting. You can either accept the default settings that come with your computer (like an unquestioning child) or you can look at your options and make a conscious choice as to the best ones for your life.

If your outlook on life is usually grim, your “grimness default setting” will put a damper on your enjoyment of your life and the holidays. As with your computer, you can either accept that limiting default setting without question or you can use your fullest adult understanding to modify your default setting to improve your life.

I’ve had to face this “grimness” concern in my own life because I am intensely serious about life. When I’m not careful, I fall into a grim and “driven” default setting which promotes my accomplishment of many goals but makes my day an utter ordeal. Then I tend to “correct” my default setting by choosing a worry-free, carefree default setting which gives me temporary relief and allows me to enjoy just being, but robs me of all purpose, excitement and passion.

You can see what a huge difference your default setting can make on your ability to enjoy living. If you’re not happy about your own life, it’s hard to be in your own company, let alone the company of others!

How would you describe your overall feeling about life? There are many personal, political, and moral issues that can affect the default setting you have adopted for yourself. Becoming aware of these things puts you in a position to upgrade to a more desirable default setting.


Your default setting is based on your assumptions about life at the time you adopted your default setting. Some children adopt the default-setting(s) (and assumptions) of their parents. Looking at your assumptions can help you identify your own default setting.

I found these four steps helpful in finding a more desirable default setting for myself:

Step 1: Identify your current default setting. Strive to be AWARE of your overall feeling throughout each day for a week. Write these down on your calendar or in a journal. Also make note of your emotions and physical and mental tensions that come and go through the day. See how they are related to your default setting!

Here are some examples of default settings and their various possible underlying assumptions, but you may identify something entirely different for yourself:

Carefree and Happy Go Lucky. Do you generally feel like you have no worries or cares because your life is out of your hands? Do you give responsibility for your life over to “fate,” to “luck,” or to other people? Do you think “others” should provide your life sustenance and meaning? Are you afraid of choosing personal dreams for your life and personally striving to make them come true?

Grim and Driven. Lots of assumptions can lead to feeling grim and driven. Do you assume that “the more you get done, the better”? Do you pile up an overwhelming stack of goals for yourself and then drive yourself mercilessly? Do you feel that life is unfair and burdensome? Do you feel distrust and disgust toward human beings and defensively adopt an “eat or be eaten” bully/victim mentality? Do you feel a solemn duty to assume an enormous burden of responsibility for “a flawed, helpless humanity”?

Life-Treasuring and Cheerful. Do you generally feel love for human beings and do you love your own life enough to discover (and strive for) the conditions necessary for living a healthy, fulfilling, happy, mature human life? A person with this default setting can seem “carefree and happy go lucky,” but the Life-Treasuring default setting is a far cry from being free of care and waiting for “Lady Luck” because it promotes taking great care of your life through careful thinking and disciplined, passionate striving!

Step 2: Ask yourself what your default setting does FOR you – and TO you.

My carefree default setting relieves me of taking responsibility for my life but renders me dependent on others and robs me of meaningful purpose and pursuits. (This default setting results in living the sub-human life of an aimless adult who never grows out of childhood dependency.)

My grim default setting offers me the satisfaction of accomplishing many of my goals, but at the cost of making me a “slave” to my “shoulds,” pushing myself relentlessly, and having no time to celebrate, have fun, or smell the roses. For some people the grim default setting justifies their trying to control other people’s lives. (This default setting results in living the sub-human life of a bully or a tyrant – either to yourself or to others!)

My life-treasuring default setting stems from my respect for each and every human being (including me) as an irreplaceable individual in his or her own right. It invites me to strive for the healthiest, most fulfilling, and happiest life possible to me and encourage others to do the same for their own lives. It encourages me to choose my purpose, goals and actions according to what is most important, most exciting, and most fulfilling to me for my life. (This default setting results in living the purposeful, mutually respectful life of a full-fledged, mature human being.)

Step 3: Go off “automatic” and try out different default settings.

• If your Carefree default setting makes you anxious about being a burden to others or being out of control of your life, try out the Life-Treasuring default setting by assuming responsibility for yourself for a week – and see how you feel about yourself and your life. Or try out the Grim default setting and attempt to bully yourself or other people for a month and see how that feels!

• Though most of us have a dominant default setting, many of us have “mixed” default settings. I discovered that along with my Life-Treasuring dominant setting I had traces of grimness and tension which undermined my dominant setting. I am now working to replace the assumptions that lead to my grimness and tension with healthier assumptions that lead to being relaxed and at ease. This would make it easier to laugh and have fun in my life and during the holidays!

Step Four. Choose your new or modified default setting.

• Once you have identified your default setting and the assumptions it comes from, you can see if it is a true reflection of your present adult understanding or if it is a carry-over from your childhood way of looking at things based on your childhood assumptions. Once you have seen other default settings and the assumptions they come from, you can choose a default setting that best reflects your updated understanding and assumptions about life.

• You will need to stay off “automatic” until you have programmed your new default setting into your mind. That’s because your mind’s default setting is tied to your assumptions about life, like a “matching set”! Your default setting must reflect your assumptions, and you can’t change your default setting until the assumptions that support that default setting are in place.

• During this time it is crucial to monitor yourself. Try to catch yourself every time you revert back to your old default setting. Each time ask yourself if you still believe the things about life that led you to your old default setting. Restate your new understandings and feelings about life that have led you to your newly chosen default setting. This reinforces your new default setting so it will “stick.”

• Gradually your modified assumptions about life will allow you to program your new outlook into your mind. Once you have replaced your old default setting with your new default setting, you can go on “automatic.” But at the same time, be sure to give yourself a lifelong standing order to stay alert for your old default setting “butting in” and trying to take over. When that happens, tell yourself that YOU are in charge of your default settings for your life – not old outworn habits, no matter how “comfortable” they may seem!

Your new updated assumptions and default setting will make you feel more integrated as a person and more self-aware. This leads to a growing self-respect and a greater understanding of others, who see their lives through their own assumptions and default settings. Your updated default setting will enable you to enjoy a happier holiday and to enjoy celebrating with others.


Note: To learn more about the healthy or harmful assumptions that run your life, read This Is Your Life: No Apology Needed, now available at Amazon as an eBook. Also available as paperback or CD at my website,


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