I recently received an inspiring e-mail from a young friend of mine, Jay. I had not seen Jay in 30 years, and really only came to know him when he contacted me to inform me that his father, Jack, had passed away. Jack was a genuinely good human being, and I was saddened by the news of his death.
I find it ironic that now, after Jack’s passing, his son and I have become friends. Life is an infinite matrix of twists, turns, and surprises that never ceases to amaze me.
What follows is the major portion of Jay’s poignant e-mail, which so touched me that I wanted to share it with you…
“I have had many setbacks in my life, and many people have asked how I maintain such a great attitude after losing an eye, missing a clavicle since birth, dyslexia, and now diabetes. Many people tell me that if they were me, they would be so depressed they would not be able to function. I simply tell them that worrying about my issues won’t solve anything.
“Steven Covey introduced me to the concept of ‘circle of influence.’ The idea is to mentally place all the things you have the power to influence inside the circle and everything else outside the circle. Then, concentrate on those things that are inside the circle, things that you have the power to change.
“Included within my circle of influence:
“Dyslexia. By continually reading and practicing, I can compensate for my deficit and become wiser and more knowledgeable.
“Diabetes. By exercising and watching my weight, my doctor tells me that the problem will virtually disappear and I won’t need to take insulin.
“Outside of my circle of influence:
“Bad eye. It can’t be fixed, so I don’t worry about it.
“Missing clavicle. I can’t grow a new one, and it doesn’t affect my life negatively, so I just forget about it.
“I am fortunate, because I was taught at a very young age not to worry about the things I cannot change and to concentrate on those things that I can change. I’m happy that I learned this early in life, and I am teaching it to my son. I want him to understand that the most worthwhile lessons in life are the ones we learn through adversity.
“Whenever you fail at something, examine the reason why you think you failed, learn from it, and try again. You may fail a hundred times, but when you finally win, it will be a hundred times sweeter. If life throws you a curve, lean into it, learn from it, and understand how you feel about it. Then, turn it into a positive.
“Even if you don’t think there is a positive aspect to it, some day you may be in a situation that will require you to draw on that experience, perhaps to help someone dear to you through a similar issue.”
When you read something like that, it’s easy to think to yourself, “It’s just another inspirational piece that doesn’t say anything I didn’t already know.” Speaking for myself, I’m not that jaded. I never tire of hearing inspirational stories, especially when they are personal and from the heart.
Jay is much younger than I am, but that matters not. I try to learn from everyone. His e-mail got me to thinking again about the things over which I have some degree of control and those over which I have no control at all. If you seek to have peace of mind, it’s absolutely essential that you not stew and fret over the things you cannot control.
That’s why Dr. Andrew Weil, the superstar health guru of our generation, advises against watching the news or reading newspapers every day. He says the nonstop bad news has a negative impact on our health.
I believe Dr. Weil is right. And I further believe that the reason bad news affects our health is that we know we can’t do anything about it. That causes stress, a breakdown of healthy cells, and a disruption of the body’s natural rhythms.
If you’re like me, you’re probably not willing to cut off the news entirely. (After all, everybody needs to know what’s going on in the world!) But we would all do well to make a conscious effort to ignore the bad stuff over which we have no control. Which, nicely, leaves more time for the good stuff. And the more you concentrate on the good things in your life, the more good things you are likely to have.[Ed. Note: Of course, concentrating on the good things in your life isn’t all you need to do. You need to take action in order to move yourself forward to success. But sometimes you need a little push to get yourself going… and some simple techniques to help you accomplish your dreams. Learn how to get all that and more right here.
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“If half a century of living has taught me anything at all, it has taught me that nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”