When asked to describe me, I always find it interesting to hear what words people choose. I am always hoping for dashing, handsome, charming. Instead, I often hear words like calm, laid back and relaxed. Not the description of the gent on the cover of a romance novel, but not bad either. Usually, after giving such a review, I am asked the same question. It is usually some version of, “How do you remain that calm?” The answer is a simple one – I only give my emotions to that which is truly important to me. This is easy to understand, but to many, almost impossible to do.

This usually generates the follow up question, “How can you do that?” One of the ways I do that is to remind myself of how I used to be. Those who let other people and situations control them are putting control of their life at the mercy of others. You must ask yourself, “Do you want to control your life, or do you want others to?” If you are reading a blog dedicated to living an amazing life, my guess is you want to be in control over your own life. When we live in reaction, that is the opposite of what we are doing. I know. I used to live that way. It can leave you feeling like a ship in the ocean without a rudder. There is no way to steer your life and you are at the mercy of the wind and the waves.

It is important to understand that the same holds true of your own emotions. When you let yourself react to life and those in it, you are a slave to your emotions. They own you. People often tell me things like, “Neil, I can’t help if that is how things/people make me feel.” I get it. Life, and the people in it, are often less than ideal. That is an eloquent way of saying they can sometimes suck. While they have the freedom to act as awful as they please, what they don’t have the power to do is to make you feel any way other than how you choose to let them. This may sound difficult, but it really isn’t. Controlling our emotions can be done by understanding how they are formulated in the first place. What you feel is determined primarily by 2 factors. What you focus on, and what you decide it means.

Yes that person may have called you a racial slur or some insulting name. Are you going to focus on their ignorance or your truth? What does it mean to you? Does it mean the world is full of hatred? Does it mean you are less than? Does it mean that you have an opportunity to demonstrate a positive example for your race and make this person look foolish? Does it mean this person is serving as an emotional trainer to help you strengthen your compassion for the less-enlightened? That is also an eloquent way of saying having pity for the ignorant and stupid. There is nothing that infuriates someone trying to upset you than not allowing it. Not to mention, not getting upset about that which does not matter greatly reduces your own stress.

You will certainly be faced with situations in which you need to be emotionally involved. There are situations that disrupt your spirit and upset you. I was once told that the most important decision in fighting a battle, is whether it is worth fighting in the first place. You must ask yourself the same thing when you find yourself at the mercy of your own emotions. It is a fool who wastes his time trying to master others. The true power is learning to master yourself and your own emotions. That is the secret to my calm. That is a secret to an amazing life.

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