Life Never Gets Easier, But You Can Get Better

Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears.

These are tough times. Whether it’s the economy, the war, or natural disasters, we’re living in a world of great challenge. As Jane Bryant Quinn wrote in Newsweek, “The next time I see my stock broker I’m going to ask him why the heck they call stocks ‘securities’.”

Of course, this world of challenge can get very personal. It’s not just the national economy that matters; it’s how it affects your own personal pocketbook at home. As one person said, it is impossible to support both the government and your family on one salary. And someone else said, “If college costs get much higher, anyone who can afford to go won’t need to.”

Are you feeling too much “challenge” on the job? Are you feeling pressured to do more and more? Maybe you’re wondering whether it’s worth it. After all, no tombstone ever read, “Number one in the region 6 years in a row.”

When people have too many of these “challenges,” it’s amazing where they go for help. I’m amazed at the number of people who call the Psychic Hotline, for example. One of my audience members said, “If those people were really psychics, they’d know I was in trouble, and they’d call me.”

And I’m amazed at how many people think the way to get out of financial trouble is to go into more debt. They just put more and more on their “credit” card. My father says, “They call it instant credit. I call it instant debt.”

Whatever challenges you have, the most important thing is how you are dealing with those challenges. IF YOU TAKE THE WRONG APPROACH, YOU WILL LOSE YOUR LIFE AND YOUR PEACE OF MIND.

Too many people lose, or at least miss their lives. A man in a hospice told me, “I spent the last 50 years of my life getting ready to really live, and now I have no time.” I felt so sad for him. He had let the challenges of life distract him from life itself.

Then I read an entry in another man’s journal. He wrote, “For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin — Real life! But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business — time to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. One day it dawned on me that these obstacles WERE my life.”

How true. In my program on “Take This Job and Love It!” I really hammer away at work-life balance. I emphasize the point that life is short. If you don’t stop to live it once in a while, you might miss it.

To deal with the challenges of life, to make sure you don’t miss your life, SLOW DOWN. It’s tough to do. It’s tough to slow down when the whole world is telling you to hurry up. I know. I often talk too fast, eat too fast, and walk too fast. But we can all benefit from occasionally slowing down.

A while back one of the attendees at my Peak Performance Boot Camp gave me the following poem. Although it was written by Anonymous, for Anonymous, it has a message for all of us.


Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round? Or listened to the rain slapping on the ground? Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight? Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

You’d better slow down. Don’t dance so fast. Time is short. The music won’t last.

Do you run through each day on the fly? When you ask, “How are you?” do you hear the reply? When the day is done, do you lie in your bed with the next hundred chores running through your head?

You’d better slow down. Don’t dance so fast. Time is short. The music won’t last.

Ever told your child, “We’ll do it tomorrow?” And in your haste, not seen his sorrow? Ever lost touch, let a good friendship die cause you never had time to call and say “Hi?”

You’d better slow down. Don’t dance so fast. Time is short. The music won’t last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere, you miss half the fun of getting there. When you worry and hurry through your day, it is like an unopened gift…thrown away.

Life is not a race. Do take it slower. Hear the music, before the song is over.

Don’t miss your life. And don’t lose your peace of mind. Confucius, the great Chinese philosopher said, “The work of a superior man is a calm and philosophical mind.” What about you? Do you have a peaceful mind? Or is it raging about?

If you don’t have peace of mind, then you need to SEEK SILENCE. Power comes from quietness. Classic author Thomas Carlyle wrote that silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves. Psychologist William James said it’s as important to cultivate your silence power as it is your word power. And physicist Albert Einstein once commented that he got his best ideas in the morning while quietly shaving.

One of my favorite definitions of silence, of quietness comes from Barbara Johnson. She’s written several wonderful books, but in her book, Where Does a Mother Go to Resign, she writes, “Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears.”

If silence and quietness are not a part of your daily regimen, start by making time for quiet. It’s the ultimate luxury and necessity in our busy, time-crunched lives.

One of my clients, an incredibly busy and successful executive, is full of energy as well as an amazing calmness. I asked him how he accomplished so much but also seemed so at ease. He said he learned a long time ago to begin and end each day in silence. By beginning and ending each day peacefully, he said everything in between remained under control.

For some of you, a simple retreat into silence will be all you need. That alone will slow you down and restore your peace of mind. Others of you will need more of a routine. If you fall into that category, try this.

Sit in a comfortable chair, letting your body sink into the chair, getting as relaxed as possible. Then with your eyes closed, think of your mind as the surface of a lake that is tossed and turned by the waves and the wind. Let the waves subside and the wind cease. Begin to see the surface of the lake as calm and peaceful.

Then spend two or three minutes thinking of the most beautiful, peaceful scenes you have ever encountered. It may be an early morning sunrise over a meadow, the ocean at sunset, or the hammock in the backyard on a warm sunny day. Go back in your memory and relive that scene.

Then select and repeat three or four words of peace. Select words like “tranquility,” “serenity,” “peaceful,” and “calm.” Say these words to yourself slowly, quietly, over and over again. You’ll begin to experience the healing effect of the words. The more you say them, the more you’ll feel them.

You can’t stop the challenges from coming into your life, but you can certainly stop them from ruining your life. Part of that process comes from slowing down and seeking silence.

Action:  For one week, start your day and end your day with complete silence and quietness. Find a place where you will not be disturbed, where there are no interruptions and no sounds. Close your eyes, and sit in quietness for ten minutes. Don’t plan out your day, solve your problems, or try to figure things out. Just be quiet. Let your mind go where it will. Listen to yourself. But most of all, just learn to be quiet, still, and peaceful.