There are elements in this world you simply have to avoid as much as possible. If you allow them to, they will drain away all of your time and energy, leaving you little for your own prosperity.
First are the professional victims. These people are never at fault for their own failures. They always find someone or something to explain away their shortcomings. These people never grow and develop properly because they never learn to evaluate what they did wrong that caused them not to achieve their goals.
Closely related are the victimization enablers. These people, who come from every band of the political spectrum, tend to develop elaborate theories for why a particular socioeconomic group is struggling. From conservatives blaming immigrants to liberals blaming white people, the enablers dismiss personal accountibility and engender negativity. If you want to find internal peace, you must remove the victimization enablers from your reality.
Another form of energy leech is the constant complainer. Nothing will ever satisfy these people. If you give them soup, they prefer steak. If you give them steak, they want pie. No matter what you try to do, you will never satisfy their needs because their misery is deeply rooted. Your best course of action is to limit your exposure as much as you can.
To me, the most important people to avoid are the naysayers. These are the people who said that flight was impossible, that computers would be a passing fad, that we would never reach space. Naysayers will pick apart and scoff at any idea. If you aspire to create anything new, to start a business, to ponder fresh ideas, you will have to teach yourself to tune out the naysayers and listen to the animal spirit inside you. At some point, you will run up against an obstacle, and the naysayers will be quick to say I told you so. That’s when you will have to tune them out even more and trust that virtually every success follows a handful (or more) of failures.
One of the most important lessons I have learned in life is to stop worrying about the things I cannot control. I have zero influence over politics, so I no longer give politics my energy. That change alone has made me so much happier and healthier than I was back when I was plugged into the “daily outrage machine.”
I have no control over other people’s actions. The only thing I can effect is my reaction to their actions. After losing so many friends and family members, I had to teach myself to let go and move on. I simply cannot dwell on what others think of me, no matter how close we may have been. There are people I miss, of course, and from time to time I reminisce about our friendships, but overall, those people are quite simply dead to me and are not welcome in my present reality.
I cannot control overall market forces. I can, however, pay attention to and anticipate how those forces will affect my life. In terms of risk management, I try not to put myself into volatile situations. From being at the very bottom, I learned that there are always jobs out there that people don’t want to do for whatever reason (hard labor, dirt, danger), but they will pay someone else to take care of it. In that regard, the market for my services is relatively stable, as long as I’m willing to and capable of handling it.
I can’t control what memories or emotions bubble up on a daily basis. I can control my reaction to them. If anger comes up, I let it pass and move on. I can’t let anger consume me. If I have a twinge of self-pity, I push it aside as quickly as possible. That won’t help anything. Every single day, I make a concerted effort to focus on the blessings and positives in my life, and that focus has done more to heal me than anything else.
My whole life, I’ve been an advocate for equality. Quite simply, all individuals should have equal protection under the law. Period. Any person willing to work full-time should be able to afford the basic necessities and have access to adequate healthcare. As an educator, I taught people from every spectrum of society, and I tried my best to treat every student with respect and dignity, regardless of any differences we might have had. Even at my lowest, darkest points, I have remained true to and stood up for my convictions.
That said, I’m weary from all the hate and divisiveness and hypocrisy both political extremes espouse. If you believe any politician has your best interests at heart, you simply aren’t paying close attention. If you believe your political party is above win-at-all costs tactics, you are naive. Politicians and politics will not fix this country and advance our society. Only we as individuals can do that, and we can only do it through dialogue and interaction.
I’m weary from the butthurt brigade seeking daily for some new outrage to fuel their Twitter feed. You have no idea how easy you’ve had it, and most likely, if you ever encounter REAL difficulties you will learn that simple fact. If you are emotionally crippled by the depictions of fictional characters, you seriously need to go climb a mountain or swim a river and reconnect to the realities of nature. Emotional knee-jerk reactions to stimuli are a dangerous substitute for rational discourse, and hate is not the antidote for hate. Real love, tolerance, and forgiveness are the cures.
I’m so weary from Ivy League graduates telling me that I am privileged. I’m tired of being judged for my skin tone and gender yet told that’s not racism or sexism because I’m part of the powerful group. Hate is hate. Prejudice is prejudice. Opposite sides of the same coin are still the same coin, no matter how loudly one side screams that it’s the “good” side. Double standards are self-serving and only breed more animosity and resentment, and for the segment of society that wants an eye for an eye, no amount of retaliation will ever satisfy them.
As promised, here is the new cover for book five. The art was done by Marc Guerrero, who is a rock star and a pleasure to work with. I’ll reveal the title sometime next week. Please, leave a comment and let me know what you think.
For most of this week, a nasty viral infection knocked me out of commission. The lymph node on the right side of my jaw swelled up to about the size of a golf ball, and the pain from that was pretty severe. I’m on the mend, thankfully, and was able to get back to work today, but the illness put me pretty far behind where I want to be on clearing the new section of vineyard.
I’ve gotten back the first set of edits from my editor, so the book is that much closer to coming to life. Also, he is pleased with the quality of this book. Now that I’m getting over the infection, I will get on my part of the polishing. Sometime this coming week, I will reveal the cover, which is absolutely gorgeous and exactly what I want for the final installment of this series.
Finally, today my beloved Memphis Tigers knocked off the #25 Naval Academy. For the first time in team history, the Tigers have defeated two ranked opponents in the same season and have now beaten three consecutive ranked foes. When I was a student there, we were pretty much a basketball school, and I never dreamed I would see the day that we would legitimately be the best college football program in the state of Tennessee. Go Tigers go!
Happy Independence Day, my friends. My apologies for not posting sooner, but the last few months have been a whirlwind. In addition to finishing up book five (editing is almost complete), I’ve been in the process of starting a vineyard here on the farm. It will be far easier to show you the process than to attempt to describe it, so here is the journey in pictures:
If you want to change your life, you have to change your mind first. One of the most important steps is learning to think positively, especially in negative situations. When you learn to see opportunity in every moment and teach yourself to make the best of your circumstances, your life will begin to improve. Seek the positive throughout each day, and cherish all of your blessings.