One from the Heart

Posted on June 12, 2014 by Robert Ringer

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I recently received an inspiring e-mail from a young acquaintance of mine, Jay.  I had not seen Jay for more than thirty 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, so I was saddened not only by the news of his death but by how he was beset by financial and health issues during his final years.

Life is an infinite matrix of twists, turns, and surprises that never cease to amaze me.  What follows is the major portion of Jay’s 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 don’t worry about it.

Missing clavicle.  I can’t grow a new one, and it doesn’t affect my life negatively, so 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 this, 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 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, advises not to watch or read the news every day.  He believes that the nonstop bad news has a negative impact on your health.

I believe Dr. Weil is right, and I further believe that what causes all the bad news to affect our health is knowing that we cannot do anything about it.  Which, in turn, results in stress, a breakdown of healthy cellular tissue, and a disruption of the body’s natural rhythms.

Realistically, few people are willing to cut off the news entirely.  But we would all do well to make a conscious effort to ignore the bad stuff over which we have no control.  As a bonus, that leaves more time to think about all the good things in your life.  And the more you concentrate on the good things in your life, the more good things you are likely to have.

Robert Ringer

+Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

11 responses to “One from the Heart”

  1. RealAmerican says:

    which is exactly why the new stations want to be on 24/ 7with their propaganda — to hasten the demise of the human race via depression, anxiety, dulling of the mind, lack of critical thinking, etc.

  2. Bill Laux says:

    The "Circle of Influence" is reminiscent of the prayer of St. Francis, known as The Serenity Prayer by AA: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

  3. John E. Gabor says:

    Most news now is what we used to call opinion or propaganda. I cut 70% out of my life and ignore 70% of what I still watch or read.

  4. Tex says:

    We have two homes and when I started spending extended time at our second home, I put our TV "service" on long-term hold at our main home. That was in 2001. It's still on-hold. A neighbor records a few shows during the week and gives me the DVDs to then watch later. As such, I can fast-forward through the commercials and "news." Not surprisingly, I think I'm much happier without the TV news than I am with it at our other house. I can still keep-up with the World by reading articles on the Internet.

  5. Richard Lee Van says:

    About the "things we cannot change… the ancient Roman Stoics taught that we CAN CHANGE our attitudes toward XYorZ. And that can make a significant difference in one's life.

  6. Liz says:

    Said it before, will say it again:
    What we think about, we bring about. (Unity precept)
    What we behold, we become. (Marshall McLuhan)
    Find the good and praise it. (Alex Haley)

  7. Heather says:

    It can get slightly more complicated when what you cannot change is the character of your targeted market, and the challenge is to find a way to succeed. These hard-won victories are sweet, because in the process you discover a lot about your own assumptions that keep you un-objective

  8. Jean says:

    I watch local news primarily for the weather reports – which are usually wrong anyway. I learn about economic issues by reading financial journals and those geeky quarterly financial reports that companies issue. These represent real life numbers, not the fabrications of politicians intent on retaining their positions. "Journalism" today reminds me of a quote from a Groucho Marx movie: "Who are you going to believe – me or your eyes?"

  9. Fred says:

    Regarding the comments above about the Warburgs, CIA, etc., I would love feedback from this group. As it is described above, it seem nearly impossible that any one of us could influence this organization. That said, in the context of Robert's article, should we devote much time worrying about it? I get it…there is so much going on in this world that is evil and perpetrated by individuals and organizations much more powerful than we can even imagine. Many fall prey to them every day in a thousand ways. I've spend many an hour grinding my teeth and reposting articles on Facebook, etc,….but to what end??? Has it changed anything? I tend to doubt it.

    One of the people that has influenced me the most in my life, Byron Katie, essentially teaches that to resist "what is" is to suffer. I know, as I have suffered much over the injustice that I perceived in the world. Frankly, I don't suffer nearly as much over it any longer. I have chosen to deal with my own lack of freedom (ie: between my ears) and to create as much freedom and happiness from myself and my loved ones as I can. Perhaps that will mean leaving the country at some point, I don't know. Currently, it looks like taking the best care that I can of myself and others through my work and as I pass through this life. And if there is a place where I can add my support to educate or help move a group toward greater freedom or awareness, I'm willing to do what I can. I just refuse to suffer over it any longer. Victor Frankel taught us many years ago that true happiness can occur anywhere. True freedom may have nothing to do with our form of government (I want to believe that but I'm not there just yet!).

    But I am curious about how others is this group think about this. Worthy of discussion?

    • John E. Gabor says:

      Peace lies somewhere between keeping your ear to the ground and putting your head in the sand. Realizing that there is little difference between the political parties, other than the sanctity of life, helps a lot, too. Whether it is the democrats or republicans, MSNBC or Fox, most of what we get is opinion and propaganda sold as news. Two big topics in the "news" this week are the fall of Iraq and the massive debt that will soon crush the U.S. and the world. Anyone who thought anything good would come out of the Iraq war was smoking too much dope and ignoring 5,000 years of history. As far as the crushing debt goes, the world's monetary system is based on debt. By design, it is the piling up of debt that keeps the system going. Unless you need a few laughs, not much point in listening or watching or reading the news. This web site is a nice change from all that. The focus is on what's between our ears. How we can help ourselves and how we can help others. By the way, I passed this article on to a friend. She said the biggest problem she has "outside the circle" is with her relatives…

  10. Jack says:

    Problem with the Covey circle of influence idea is that you really never know what you can influence without dwelling on it and sometimes acting on something, and therefore influencing it, out of desperation (e.g., Lorenzo's oil, Oskar Schindler, et al.).

    I know the news has a horrible impact on my state of mind. And I dwell on stuff, big time. I have tried to stay away from the concentrated bad stuff (Drudge, antiwar.com, Lew Rockwell, et al.), but I always gravitate back and then rationalize it by saying to myself that it is better to know what is going on despite the negative mental influence than be a jolly ignorant person.

    I recently bought Robert Ringer's three Kindle books as well as his two Audible books and intend to saturate my mind with the principles laid out there. I'm hoping it helps.