THE ESSENTIAL CHANGE

My second book opens with the statement –

unless you change yourself, nothing will change; once you change yourself, everything else will change

This is a very important thought for several reasons. First, saying, or even thinking things like “I’ll be happy when…” hands over control of your life to other people and situations. Why would you let others decide whether or not you can enjoy your own life?

Another reason to realize you are the only person responsible for the quality of your own life are problems. When I hear people who consistently blame others for the situations they find themselves in, I know these people will never live a happy and successful life.

Let us be honest here, people can be jerks. They can say rude and hurtful things to us. They can put us in uncomfortable situations. What control do we have over that? A great deal. We can take a hard look in the mirror and see if there may be any truth to the things they are saying. If so, we can use it as constructive criticism.

What if there is no truth to what they say and it is just mean? Then we can raise our standards as to who we have in our lives. What if this person is our boss or some other person not so easy to dismiss? We can use that person for our own development. Practice our patience, controlling our anger, or having compassion for those who don’t deserve it. We can do all this while working to improve our situation.

Sometimes they are there to teach us a lesson. Such as no amount of money or job is worth our dignity. No amount off affection is worth any amount of abuse. These are all very difficult situations, but waiting and relying on the other person to change will most often result in no change.

Working on myself has lead me to my greatest improvements and my greatest joy. When I became a better man, my job became better, my relationships improved. I noticed when I treated others better and gave more to them, I received more in return.

To this day, I spend the most time and effort working on myself. Every improvement in myself touches and improves every area of my life.

DON’T LET THE SAME DOG BITE YOU TWICE

One of my favorite quotes to help keep peace in your mind and heart comes from Buddha, who said “holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

Forgiveness truly is the gift you give yourself. Most of the time when we stay angry at people it only affects us. Think of what happens to your body when you get angry. Your blood pressure rises, you can get sick to the stomach among many other unpleasant symptoms. Imagine what would happen if we did this over a prolonged period of time. Not only would it drain our spirit and soul, but it would make us actually physically sick.

Here is the caveat about forgiving someone, it does not mean they need to be your best friend. There are some people who are destructive and surrounding yourself with them will only bring you down. I compare it to continuing to try and pet a dog you know will bite you. Unless the dog goes through some training, it will likely bite you again. Forgive the dog for biting you and then do your best to keep your distance from the dog.

Starting today, let go of anger and practice forgiveness. It does not mean you agree with their behaviour. It also does not mean you have to let them back into your life. It only means you value yourself enough to let go of negative emotions that will bring you down emotionally, spiritually and physically.

A GREAT READ!!

This is a book my lady bought for me for my birthday. It was written in 1938, but not published until 2011. Why? The author’s family thought it be too controversial to publish.

Why would that be? This book questions a lot of what we think about education, religion, and thinking in general. Which I feel is healthy. No matter what you believe spiritually, this book speaks to the inner devils we all fight with.

It gives us practical advice to fight the evils of fear, doubt, and anger. I highly recommend reading this.

ARE YOU IN CONTROL??

In every situation in life that we approach the one and only thing we can have control of is ourselves. The reason I said can have control of is because quite often we relinquish that control. We allow others to determine how we are feeling and acting.

Instead of taking actions that we choose for ourselves and the course we would like to take our life on, we live our life in reaction based on the actions chosen by others. If someone were to ask you directly if you would let someone run your life for you the answer usually is a resounding “No!”. That is exactly what you are doing when you live in reaction to others and your environment.

Taking charge of your emotions is not the easiest thing to do, but the rewards far outweigh the risk of giving control of your life to anyone but yourself. One simple way to begin to take back control of your emotions and as such your life is to ask yourself this question several times a day, “How would the best version of myself deal with this situation?” This especially proves helpful in times of challenge and conflict. Even if you discover you do react instead of acting, take some time after the event is over to replay it in your head and think of how the best version of yourself would have handled things. By doing this, even in your head, next time you find yourself in that situation you are more likely to choose your actions instead of having others decide how you will act.

feel free to share your tips for controlling your emotions in the comments below!

WHAT I LEARNED FROM A FISH

This is a puffer fish. His look kind of reminds me of mine when the alarm goes off in the morning. 

You can eat puffer fish, but they must be prepared correctly. If not, you could die. I recall while on vacation once I saw just such a dish on the menu. Normally I am quite the adventurous man, especially on vacation, but this time I considered the situation. I was fairly certain the chef knew what he was doing as the dish was actually listed on the menu. The odds of tasting something new without it ending fately were pretty good. 

Even with all of this confidence the trade off wasn’t worth it. There was a possibility of death just to taste a new fish. Normally decisions are not this black and white, but every decision we make has a trade off. Don’t want to go to your job anymore? You will be awarded great freedom, but then again you won’t have much money to enjoy said freedom. 

The most important time I have found this to come in handy is in disagreements with others. Have you ever found yourself in a disagreement with someone who in your mind has clearly done something wrong or hurtful but either cannot or refuses to see it? Now you are faced with a few options. If you continue to disagree until they see your side, which may never happen, there will exist the possibility of additional hurts being said. If you end up convincing them that they are ‘wrong’ or ‘to blame’ they may end up feeling resentful, hurt, ashamed or a host of other unpleasant emotions. While it may ‘serve then right’ it does damage to your relationship. Knowing 2 things going in may help. One, people seldom do things maliciously. Especially if they are people who care. Perhaps rather than make them feel bad, what is really needed is to help them understand how it made you feel. That leads us to our second point,  know your goal. Is it just to prove your right and they are to blame? If so, you won’t be looking forward to keeping too many friendships alive. If you are reading a blog like this i hallucinate your goal would be more to solve the issue at hand, find a better plan for the future and return to the love and goodwill that was there before the disagreement began. Knowing this ahead of time will certainly lead to a different course of actions. Even realizing it in the middle of a disagreement can lead to a quicker and more loving resolution. 
So think about what payoff your actions will lead to. Is this easy? No. Especially in extreme emotional states. With practice you will get better at it.  This will leave you with less regret and “why did i say that?” Situations. 

DON’T LET IT KILL YOU!

Stress..wouldn’t it be great if our life didn’t have any? Sure a few days where everything goes along perfectly would be nice every now and again, but when it comes to having no stress in our lives at all let us be careful what we wish for. 

Ok before I lose you completely let me explain what i mean. Imagine if everything we had to lift was as light as a feather? Sounds great, but how on earth would we build the muscles needed for our body to work properly? It would be great if our partners agreed with everything we thought, but where would the variety in our relationships be? I can just imagine what you are thinking,  “Neil, i really could skip the stress that comes with disagreeing with the one i love. “. It is no fun going through the frustration and sometimes hurt feelings that come with disagreements, but often times this is when we learn the most about and grow closest to our partner. 

You see whenever stress appears in our lives the easiest way to not let it get to us is to ask one very important question,  “how can i use this?”. By asking this, and by using the stress to better ourselves it will keep us from feeling overwhelmed. Here is a list of  some of the possible things we can come up with. 

  • I learned something about the person i disagreed with
  • I learned something about myself
  • Here is an opportunity to show something great about my character 
  • I made it through this stressful time

So next time stress appears in your life look it square in the eyes and say “I’m going to use you, you will no longer use me.”

WE ARE ALL GUILTY 

Do you ever stress about things you can’t change? I think we pretty much all do. Whether I’m at a show as a DJ,or working at the post office, giving a speech or seminar it just wondering through this amazing life i often hear people stressed over things outside their control. 

Sometimes it is the current political climate or what some elected official did. I have even seen people to the point of tears based on the performance or actions of their favorite sports team. What i find even more unbelievable is the petty personal issues. Who said what about who online, who is dating who, etc. 

Not only do all of these items bring us mental and emotional exhaustion, but acting this way over a prolonged period of time can cause us physical distress as well. Leading to such conditions such as ulcers,lack of sleep and even fatal conditions such as heart attacks  (for which the 1 risk factor is stress and job dissatisfaction)

So what to do about the things that upset us that are out of our control? Let us learn to do what we can and let go. Don’t like what a politician is doing? Write letters, start an online petition or just support his opponent. Your favorite team not doing well? Write a letter to the coach or general manager. Don’t like some personal thing someone is doing? Either let them know if you feel it is a must, or just focus on all your friends doing things that make you happy and proud. 

Constantly talking and complaining about conditions, especially those out of our control, does us no good and plenty of harm. Instead, do what most successful and happy  people i know do,  focus on the person in the mirror. Concentrate on improving their condition and on making them a better person. It will not only reduce your stress, but as you improve and progress it will give you something to be proud of. That will be something worth talking about!

Feel free to share your tips about letting go of what we cannot change in the comments below.