“What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.”― Robert F. Kennedy First, a confession: Although I pride myself on my ability to dialog and find a common […]
“You always own the option of having no opinion. There is never any need to get worked up or to trouble your soul about things you can’t control. These things are not asking to be judged by you. Leave them alone.” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
In my Coaching work, a question that comes up again and again is how to feel happy, and be at peace. For one reason or another, a person has something that has damaged their calm and is making them unhappy.
I went back and looked at my most popular articles, and talked about all those topics on a recent episode of Rise UP with B. Dave Walters. We talked about: How to get up when you hit rock bottom, how to know what to do with your life, how to know if your lover only wants sex, and much, much, more.
So, how can you stay calm, happy, and peaceful? The first thing is to pay attention to the meanings you are attaching to things. When someone says or does something that hurts you, step back and ask yourself: What would you say if a complete stranger said or did this same thing?
What would you tell your best friend if they were in this exact same spot?
What would make someone say or do something like this?
Everyone believes their problems are extremely complicated and unique in the world; when the truth is that’s VERY rarely the case. The further you can step outside yourself and look at the situation like it was happening to someone else, the easier you can see the truth of it.
Now, there is no guarantee this truth will be easy to accept, or even make you happy in the short term. The truth is like surgery: It hurts but it heals. For instance, if someone doesn’t call you on your birthday, you can choose to be upset by that, or ask yourself: Why wouldn’t they call? Early in the day, there may be 100 reasons: Their phone is dead, or they are at work, or tied up somewhere they physically can’t call.
But, as the day moves on, another realization starts to kick in: They didn’t call because it wasn’t important enough to call. And when someone starts showing you that you don’t rank as a priority to them, they should stop being a priority to you, too.
Which leads to the next thing to remember: Anything outside of you—people, circumstances, or anything else—only have what power over you that you give them. Again, remember the ‘stranger’ test I gave above. If the exact same words or behavior wouldn’t bother you from a stranger, then the words or behavior aren’t the problem, but the meanings you are attaching to them. And this is something you can choose to release at any time. Once again to quote Marcus Aurelius (who gave excellent advice on how to avoid letting other people hurt you):
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your opinion of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
And finally, and most importantly: While it may be true that there’s always something to be upset about, there are ALWAYS more things to be grateful for. Form the habit of looking for the good, or at least the lesson, in every situation you are faced with. Pessimism is easy; anyone can look at a situation and see what’s wrong with it; there is nothing particularly noble or enlightened about being negative. It takes a special kind of person look clearly and see all sides to be able to spot the good along with the bad.
So really, that’s all there is to it: Be aware of the meanings you are attaching things; they are neither good or bad, but how we think about it makes the difference. Realize if you’re unhappy, it’s up to you how you are looking at things, which can help you do whatever you need to do to change. And once you can see things clearly, you can let go of whatever you need to let go of so that you can move forward.
What do you think? Feel free to comment down below!
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B. Dave Walters Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host
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