Inner peace begins the moment you take a deep breath and choose not to allow another person or event to control your thoughts.
For the longest time I had tunnel vision and expected life to be a certain way. I studied my failures until I lost sight of my successes. I surrendered my dreams to feel a sense of comfort. I crafted limiting beliefs and shielded myself from love and happiness by refusing to put myself out there. And as I did all of this, I sat back and wondered why life was so miserable.
Obviously, I was very lost.
I began to turn things around about a decade ago when my stubborn habits led me into a chaotic argument with Angel. As we both stared at each other through tears, she said, “Marc, you are the enemy—your enemy. It’s your choices. I can’t sympathize any longer. You can choose differently if you want to, but you have to want to. Please, want to!” And after some extensive soul-searching, lots of reading, a little sabbatical, and continuous support from a loving wife and a few close friends, I learned to choose differently and eventually found myself again.
I tell you this because I know you struggle with similar inner demons—occasionally we all do. Sometimes our thoughts and routine choices are our biggest enemies. Which is why I want to remind you to beware of…
1. Your expectation of constant contentment.
Nothing in life is constant. There is neither absolute happiness nor absolute sadness. There are only the changes in our moods that continuously oscillate between these two extremes.
At any given moment we are comparing how we currently feel to how we felt at another time—comparing one level of our contentment to another. In this way, those of us who have felt great sadness are best able to feel heightened feelings of happiness after we emotionally heal. In other words, happiness and sadness need each other. One reinforces the other. Humans must know misery to identify times of elation.
The key is to focus on the good. May you live each moment of your life consciously, and realize that all the happiness you seek is present if you are prepared to notice it. If you are willing to appreciate that this moment is far better than it could have been, you will enjoy it more for what it truly is. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the Happiness and Growth chapters of the NEW edition of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
2. Your obsession with examining personal failures.