There are times when you feel that life is unfair, right? That people expect too much from you. If they would just cut you some slack, you could live a better life. Probably even on your own terms.
In reality however, leading life on one’s own terms is difficult, even for entrepreneurs. Why? Because most people yearn for a life which functions according to them. But you and I know that we cannot control everything that occurs in our lives. It’s impossible! Heck, John Maxwell puts it best:
Life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it.
You see? Even the most emotionally balanced people control 90 percent of their lives.
If you cannot control how you respond, 100 percent of your life is out of your control. But if you can control your responses, you will exemplify the phrase ‘living on my own terms’.
Instead of pursuing the non-existent perfect life, focus on making yours better.
How can you do it? In many ways, it turns out. But the crux lies in making better decisions and responding positively to what life doles out. Two words that you use everyday lay the foundation for self-improvement.
Patrick Edblad states that in Zen, there are two minds – the thinking mind, and the observing mind. We do not have complete control over the thinking mind. For instance, if you are told not to think a big day tomorrow, what will you think about? The more you try to suppress a thought, the more it torments you. This is where our suffering also comes from. Negative emotions don’t trouble us, helplessly getting sucked into them does.
This is a BIIG challenge – as big as the earth itself. It is why people are riddled with angst and sadness today. To overcome it, you must differentiate between the thinking mind and the observing mind.
Thoughts and emotions belong to the thinking mind. How you relate to them are part of the observing mind. Hence, the key to leading a better life lies in acknowledging your emotions, and changing how you relate to them. To achieve this, replace ‘am’ with ‘feel’ each time you experience an emotion.
For instance, Patrick suggests that instead of “I am angry”, try saying “I feel anger.” When jealousy floods your insides, replace “I’m so jealous” with “I feel jealousy”.
Self awareness is the first positive outcome of this change in language.
Along with the brutally honesty with yourself, self awareness helps you become accurate in that brutal honesty.
When you become self aware, you realize that the emotions are not a part of you, but something fleeting.
In order to control myself I must first accept myself by going with and not against my nature. – Bruce Lee
Once you understand how you feel, isolate the emotion. Look at it objectively. Ask yourself why you feel it. Take time to get to the root. Once you have the true answer, take steps to reduce the explosion of negativity.
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom. – Victor Frankl
We worry about what we have to do, but forget what we have. Life offers a lot to be thankful for. The Red Cross states that if you can read this post, you are better off than one billion people worldwide already!
We often go through our daily lives talking about what we have to do. We have to wake up in the morning. We have to go to work. We have to hang out with family on weekends if we don’t have plans. We have to exercise when, instead, we could do more exciting things.
Now, James Clear suggests that you replace one word. Replace “have” with “get”.
You get to wake up early. You get to work. You get to hang out with your family. You get to exercise. See the difference?
We complain that we don’t get enough opportunities. But in reality, these so-called burdens are disguised opportunities. When we experience gratitude, we become capable of doing what matters to us. And that paves way for us to pursue better lives.
Life is not about improving others; it’s about improving ourselves. It’s not about having a better partner or friend; it’s about being a better person. The key to happiness is to stop looking at others’ lives and start improving your own. When you practice gratitude, become self aware, and fine-tune your observing mind, you develop a growth mindset. This mindset lets you sharpen your skills through commitment and work. And it leads to self improvement.
“Feel” and “Get”. Make these ridiculously simple words an integral part of your vocabulary for 21 days. As you work towards controlling 90 percent of your life, the remaining 10 percent conditions itself to treat you better. You want a change your life for the better, right? Well, this is the recipe to prepare the most delicious dish – your life itself.