‘m going to do something a bit different here, I will create a series of posts that will include the first three chapters of the latest version of my book “Just Do It – Damn It” for free, I will separate each chapter in to a few posts, because some of the chapters are a bit big and I don’t want the posts to become too long.
If you are interested in checking out the full book, you can find it here:
- Amazon US – Just Do It – Damn It: The Approach To Life, Business & Success
- Amazon UK – Just Do It – Damn It: The Approach To Life, Business & Success
Thanks in advance, and now on to the book itself.
Just Do It – Damn It – 2. It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you handle it (Part 1)
Like Deadpool said – life is an endless series of train-wrecks with only brief, commercial-like breaks of happiness. I think that is true to an extent. Life is unbelievably difficult and unfair. Even if you hit the jackpot and you are born in a democracy, come from a middle-class family and have opportunities handed to you, you will still have problems to overcome.
I’ve spend all my life (consciously or subconsciously) studying people and recognizing behavioural patterns, I do it as a hobby that I enjoy and have learned a tremendous amount from it. So, the conclusion I have come up with so far is that people are so unbelievably different when it comes to behaviour, conflict resolution and energy output and yet absolutely the same when it comes to needs and wants.
Take 10 people and put them in a room and in that room there is a man sitting behind a table with a plate of $1,000 in cash. If that man says to the 10 people “each of you will come to the table; you will have 10 minutes, to try to convince me to give you that money; the most persuasive one will win all of the cash.” I guarantee you that 10 people will equal 10 different situations, attitudes and approaches.
One person may try to sell something (product, or service) to the host, another person may try to play a game of cards with the host for the money, a third person may try to seduce him, the fourth to punch him and steal the money. You get what I’m saying here, right? Everyone will put out a different energy and strategy in order to convince the guy to give them the money.
But one thing that I can guarantee is that out of those 10 people at least 9 will want the money, because our wants and needs are the same, only our ways to satisfy those wants and needs are different.
(Btw – this will make a great TV show, hey, if you are a TV producer reading this and you make this programme, make sure you give me credit ok?)
I’m describing to you this made up TV show scenario because I want to emphasise on how the situation is the same for the 10 people (persuade the host and win the money) but the reactions are totally different for each person. That means that everyone’s attitude is different.
Now let’s continue analysing what makes people react differently.
People’s attitudes and outlooks on life, vary for many reasons. The main 2 reasons are the family a person grows up in and the surroundings he lives in. Some people just got a bad draw of the cards in life and were born into dysfunctional families and fucked up environments. But that is not an excuse, quite the opposite; with the right mental attitude you can use those circumstances as a learning experience what not to do in life.
The way you react to things that happen to you will mostly determine if you will have a happy or sad life. Some people are born with a positive outlook (I’m very fortunate to be one of them) and others are not so lucky and they feel like the world is against them.
Your outlook on life (positive or negative) will affect not only you, but the people around you as well; family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues will want to avoid you or be around you.
Let’s face it, we can’t control the world around us, and if you are a control freak (like I used to be back in the day) it’s very easy to become frustrated and angry when things don’t go your way. There are many things that we can’t control (the weather, lotto numbers, the outcome of the game, traffic) but most importantly we can’t control people (even if we are in a position of power and you can control them to a certain extent, you shouldn’t overstep your powers and responsibilities). The only thing that you can control is the way you react to other people.
(Btw – I know that sometimes dealing with people can be very complicated, so take your time and really develop that skill, if you are good with people, you will have a priceless skill on your side.)
I want to share two stories with you that will illustrate how important it is not to let a negative situation ruin your day, or even your life.
Back in my teen years (oh, what a glorious time that was) I had two very close friends that were having some family issues, and the way they reacted was totally different from each other, and that shaped their mindset and later on their life.
Let’s call my first friend Mr. Angry Pants (he knows I’m joking about the name so it’s fine). Mr. Angry Pants unfortunately had a very bad relationship with his father. To make things even harder for their relationship, his father was also very old and from a completely different generation and mindset. They didn’t get along very well, the problem was that Mr. Angry Pants’ father was a control freak, and he always wanted to know where Mr. Angry Pants was and what he was up to, he used to call him 2-3 times a day and every time Mr. Angry Pants’ dad called him, they would get into an argument. I could see how Mr. Angry Pants (who was actually Mr. Chilled-out Pants most of the time) would become very angry, irritated and would lose his mind every time he was in contact with his father.
I didn’t like to see my friend suffer, so one day I had an honest conversation with him. I told him that his father is almost 60 years old, he was settled in his ways. There was nothing that he could do to change his character and behaviour. The only way that my friend could overcome this situation and find peace in his mind is if he accepted that his father will keep on calling him every day. I advised him to find a way not to lose his mind every time this happened. Then I told him that even if his father one day stopped calling or was not around anymore, he would still need to find a way to deal with situations like this. What if he was to run into a situation where his boss, colleagues or spouse were driving him up the wall? You can’t always run away from issues and constantly change jobs and partners just to avoid people. It’s better to face your problems head on (I know it’s a cliché, but it’s true).
Unfortunately, Mr. Angry Pants didn’t listen and continued down this path of anger at the behaviour of a person that he did not have control over.
Don’t be Mr. Angry Pants! (If you were in front of me, I would ask you to do a pinky promise with me, this way I will know that you are serious!)
Let’s call my second friend Mr. Happy Pants (sounds like a name of a male porn star, I know).
The story is pretty much the same; his problem was with his grandfather. Mr. Happy Pants’ (I can’t stop laughing at that name!) grandfather was never happy with my friend, because for him nobody was good enough, including my friend. He didn’t call their family, instead he did one better – he visited them as often as possible (telling people they weren’t good enough over the phone was not good enough for him, he needed to do it in person, oh the irony). Every time he came for a visit Mr. Happy Pants was not so excited by the prospect of the upcoming conversation. The grandfather was very confrontational and always wanted to start a verbal fight with Mr. Happy Pants. There were a lot of comments and remarks pointed at Mr. Happy Pants that made him feel sad and depressed, he always got tricked into arguing back and losing his cool.
One day I decided to talk to my close friend and tell him the same things that I said to Mr. Angry Pants. The difference was that Mr. Happy Pants actually listened (I couldn’t believe that somebody would listen to my crazy advice and take me seriously… well you probably paid a few bucks to read this so, never mind carry on).
At the time, I was really getting interested in self-development, meditation, sport and Buddhism. I started sharing my new-found interests with Mr. Happy Pants and eventually he got interested in philosophy and Buddhism as well. After some time, he managed to create a state of mind for himself where his grandfather had no hold over his mind and reactions.
Whenever his grandfather came over and started attacking him, instead of lashing out and getting into these hour-long emotional tornados, he just stood there calmly and just smiled and said “ok” “yes” or “no”. Yes, he probably looked like he just got out of a cult meeting but it worked – his grandfather came over a couple of times, tried to start an argument, saw that there is nobody on the other side that wanted to engage in one and eventually left Mr. Happy Pants alone (I think he got a kick out of arguments and making other people feel bad, so he just got bored and left him alone). Now Mr. Happy Pants is living up to his name. I still talk to him from time to time and the change I see in him is unbelievable.
I witness these two scenarios at an early age and I saw how a slightly different reaction can have a huge impact on a person’s life and the people around them.
And I want to emphasise this point again – in life, you will be put in many situations where you will not be able to run away from a person or a challenge. Develop your own way to cope and eventually to overcome these issues that are in front of you. But please make sure you do! (pinky promise?)
Here is a mini philosophy that may help you understand a bit better everything I’m saying on this topic.
The 90/10 Principle (by Stephen Covey)
The main concept is:
- 10% of life is made up of what happens to you.
- The other 90% of life is created by the way you react to things that happen to you.
Life, as you know, is an unpredictable mess and unfortunately, we have almost no control over the things that will happen to us. But the good news is that we have complete control over our emotions and reactions (which makes up the 90% of the principle).
This concept is so simple, yet many people don’t apply it in their daily lives.
Mastering your emotions and navigating your behaviour is something that can take a life time to master. I will give you some tips and advice that may help you achieve this, but first I will tell you a story about my father that resonates with me until this day.
First thing you need to know, both of my parents are very young. I’m 28 and my mother is 48 and my father is 53. I’m very close with my parents especially with my father and since our age difference is not that big, I’ve always felt him as a person that can understand me and that generational gap (that most fathers and sons have) was not there.
Throughout my life I saw two completely different sides of my father when it came to dealing with the outside world. When I was in my 10’s (yeah that’s an expression you don’t hear often) I remember my father being very skinny, smoking a lot of cigarettes, drinking a lot of coffee and constantly being stressed out (he was a military man for many years, maybe it was due to the stress that he was experiencing on a daily basis). He used to be really jumpy and snappy to almost everything. He was never this way with me or the family, but to the outside world he was not as chilled out as he wanted to be.
Fast forward 10-15 years and my father is a completely different man. Some major life changes happened to him – he quit smoking, he was not in the military anymore (he has a way more relaxed job now) and most importantly, he became a father for the second time when my little sister was born. He became much more relaxed and happy over time. He is a completely different person from the way he was when I was a child.
Sometime when we talk, I ask him about the change that has happened in his life and the lessons that he has learned from it. He always tells me that he just gave himself time to grow and the things that have happened in his life changed him – the new profession, lifestyle changes and the second child.
What lifestyle changes can you make, that will improve your reaction to the outside world? Quitting a bad habit, change of career, starting a new relationship, moving to a new place or finding new people to associate with?
To Be Continued in Part 2 (Coming Soon) :
Just Do It – Damn It – 2. It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you handle it. (Part 2)