Peace of Mind, Part I
Posted on August 11, 2016 by Robert Ringer
Some months ago, following a keynote address I had given, a middle-aged lady approached me and asked if she could speak with me for a few minutes. I told her I’d be more than happy to speak with her, whereupon she began to share with me the difficulty she was experiencing in trying to cope with stress.
Her demeanor was hyper — talking very fast, highly animated, and tending to offer answers to her own questions. We spoke for about ten minutes, and during that short time span her cell phone not only rang three times, but with each ring she interrupted our discussion to answer it. While I was taken aback by her cell phone compulsion, I didn’t take it personally. I felt pretty certain it was a way of life for her.
The woman explained that she was a single mother with two children, and though she had a full-time job, she was having a very difficult time making ends meet. Welcome to the fundamentally transformed America of 2016!
In a frustrated tone, she told me that her apartment was always a mess, because between her job obligations, commuting back and forth to work, grocery shopping, cooking, endlessly chauffeuring her kids, and more, she didn’t have time to straighten it out let alone clean it. She was talking at such a rapid pace that it appeared she was afraid she would not get in everything she wanted to say.
Obviously, I wasn’t able to give this woman much concrete advice in just ten minutes, but I did emphasize one important point to her. I told her that in relating her situation to me, she could have been describing any one of millions of women who find themselves in pretty much the same circumstances day in and day out.
Or, for that matter, men. Most men are overloaded with work and obligations that often push them to the brink. The majority of men I talk to are stressed and frustrated by a lack of that ever-dwindling commodity known as time.
Since my brief chat with that frazzled woman, I’ve given a lot of thought to the widespread problem of stress. It’s a menace that knows no racial, ethnic, religious, or gender boundaries. Clearly, it is endemic in modern Western culture.
However, I’ve come to the conclusion that children, job, lack of time, and other time-draining issues that most of us have to deal with are not the underlying causes of stress. Rather, I am convinced that stress is a self-imposed mental state.
Stress is the antithesis of serenity, peace of mind, and tranquility. Which is why an important factor in reducing stress is to strive for peace of mind. You cannot simultaneously experience tranquility and stress.
So, how do you capture that elusive mental state known as peace of mind? A good place to start is to recognize that true peace of mind does not shift with changing circumstances. If you have peace of mind, you can handle both adversity and good fortune with calm confidence.
In other words, true peace of mind gives you the strength to stay on course in the face of adversity. What I’m saying here is that you live within your mind. It is not events that shape your world. It’s your thought processes.
To paraphrase something Dale Carnegie said more than fifty years ago, as you and I pass through the decades of life, sadness and misfortune will cross our paths. This is a truism that would be difficult to dispute.
Fear, loneliness, rejection, illness, the death of a friend or family member, financial failure, and loss of love are just a handful of examples of the kinds of sadness and misfortunes we all have to deal with from time to time. Where we differ is how each of us handles such traumas. This, in turn, goes a long way toward determining whether our lives will be tranquil or stressful.
In Part II of this article, I’ll be discussing the importance of “living right” as a key factor in reducing the amount of stress in your life.
Thanks for a compelling article, looking forward to Part II
"Change your thoughts, change your life" – Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. Self-defeating thinking
habits are killers!!
This article is the Robert Ringer that I love. I hope to see more articles like this and less of the politics, which I stopped reading.
Universals VS Particulars. But, both are valid, even we are interested more in one than the other. It's just that American Politics is/are so VERY important just now. So some of us spend a great deal of Mind Time thinking about saving the best of what WAS of American. Since I am a geezer, I remember for the 1940s on. Age can give perspective.
A Dale Carnegie instructor often said "The only problem you will ever have is you; and, baby, you're the only solution".
And, I like both types of articles. It seems pretty simple to me: the major political we have are people who look to government for solutions instead of looking inside, at themselves. Government doesn't have a thing to give them that it doesn't take from someone else – the one who earned it – and people like obama are most happy to oblige them in exchange for their votes. .
Your Dale Carnegie reference is very accurate, indeed, and it is one of the reasons I am an anarcho-libertarian. Government is a criminal enterprise with NO solution for anything facing an individual. The fact that it steals, coerces, kills and lies to prop itself up is just more reason to disband this horrid cartel. The fact is that while many give lip service to freedom/liberty, they are unwilling to accept the personal RESPONSIBILITY that goes with that freedom. Western culture has grown lazy and spoiled and just looks to evil govt. to solve all its problems, irritations, etc. Why engage a criminal (govt.) in hopes that anything moral or good will result?
"major political problem" that is.
Do hermits experience stress to the extent we more social creatures do?
As an old guy and almost a hermit, yes and no. Like someone said above, it depends on the mind doing the experiencing. It is every person's choice. Like the comedian said, we are about as happy as we want to be.
My hermitage is a stress-free zone, and you are correct to suggest that social obligations are at the root of much stress. I leave its peaceful shelter about once a week, for fresh supplies. Thus, I only need to refill my reliable old truck's fuel tanks, about once every three months. I owe nobody a dime, have no need of credit, and live quite comfortably on a ridiculously low budget.
Modern technology is awesome. My TV has a DVR, and both have on/off switches, so I can choose if and when to watch news, without commercial interruptions. Caller ID and voice mail, allow me to pick and choose who I talk to at my convenience, not theirs. I get to choose which e-mails to even bother to view, much less answer.
I find intellectually stimulating conversation rare among those one generally encounters in public, so I choose the vicarious alternative online. I choose when and what articles to read, on what topics, and whether to comment on any of them. Even my own blog gets new content only when I am in the mood.
Exercising free choice is the key to avoiding stress, and probably the most important choice is how one reacts to adversity. I have learned to choose to laugh, rather than weep or rant, at circumstances beyond my control, such as hopeless sheeple and their shepherds. ◄Dave►
Good for you, Dave, as it seems you have done a better job of restricting your interactions with "idiots", stressors, and the like than I have been able to do, and you are doing this on a low budget in the expensive state of CA besides. I soon plan on living part of the year in southern Oregon (the other part OUT of the USA), and taking better control of ALL aspects of my interactions. I do avoid the "news" and stupid commentaries, but going out for a cup of coffee most mornings, while often enjoyable, can lead to conversations with the deceived, the angry, and small minds obsessed with nonsense. Daily meditation and plenty of exercise, along with a pretty healthy diet, also contribute mightily to my general peace of mind. Doug Casey has often talked about the importance of people associating in phyles with those they share common values with. We all love variety to a degree, but not when others value theft, coercion, aggression, etc. that are common in our culture today.
You perceived correctly that my question was somewhat rhetorical and tongue-in-cheek, even though you truly practice this lifestyle to the extent possible and comfortable for you. I find that nearly all of my grief is caused by interaction with other humans. I like the way to chose the time, method and duration of that interaction. I also appreciate that you seem to be happy and contented. I will say though, as I get older I find stress gradually lessening as grow in wisdom and patience.
That used to be me until I decided to focus on one thing at a time and follow Dr. Covey's big rock theories. And I love all your posts. And your daughter's. And your guest posts. Your site is always so engaging and thought provoking.
Thanks, larajf, for your kind comments.
The strung out woman was NOT "sharing with you", she was "bending yer ear", and probably anyone else's she could capture. In your position, it is understandable that you were trapped. She probably does "mutual commiseration with anyone she can get her hooks into. I've known many like her, but NOT FOR LONG. And I had a friend, ex now, who interrupted our conversation repeatedly playing cell phone after saying how he'd been wanting to talk with me. I got up and left and have never engaged him since! I solved all that, but too long to go into. First thing I did was to STOP marrying! There should be an AA group devoted to the type person you describe. For starters anyway. I guess she was too old for euthenasia. Whoops, that's a Trump kind of comment. Go Trump! He WILL win, and it can't come soon enough. Just today I received a complete history of Prez Ohole. OMG. There SHOULD BE some kind of Voter Test before being allowed to vote. And, for sure, a Voter ID! Oh, and yes, you began to described STOICISM as a way of mind. Therein lies one's freedm. NOT how the term is misused, but the true philosophical meaning of that turn of mind. Not easy, but possible. If you did try to work a word in edgewise with that motormouth, she would have neither heard nor understood you anyway. I can just see the blank stunned look on her face! Good discussion, again, Sir!
Give the frazzled woman a break….She probably wanted some fatherly advice from Robert….
I just had to finally permanently (PERMANENTLY) get rid of my 70 year old mother….
Extreme lifelong vicious nasty destructiveness…. financial and health Munchhausen's (constantly getting evicted and I'm pretty sure she's trying to self induce a stroke…TO FORCE us to give her attention (WRONG…)
Charging up credit cards with junk and restaurant bills…Then hitting me up….)….
Truthfully…You owe NOTHING to anyone who makes your life miserable (OR EVER DID)…
I should have dumped that evil destructive mess decades ago…As a kid my Grand Mother accurately gave me the lowdown on her but I denied it….Nana was right….
She wasted a great opportunity. I think about the "Iceball Theory" and remember not to sweat the small stuff – it's just stuff. I have faced down cancer this year, am working on transforming my career from management support to staff assistant – definitely not in my plan since I've been in 2 mgmt training programs. By reinventing myself, I left a job where I allowed myself to feel bullied and intimidated, stepping out for something new and getting my confidence back, and have once again become an active and engaged person in my organization. The volunteer work, committees, and ongoing training I have done over the past two years paid off when the right opportunity presented itself and I was ready to act on it when it came. I have found attitude is very important; having the most experience isn't.
I hate this message. I hear it and it rings true. But this means IM RESPONSIBLE FOR MY OWN LIFE!
You told an interesting story, Tortoise. Too bad it never happened…at least not in 2016. You told the same story (without the "2016" reference) in a July 25, 2013 post.
Prediction: Part II of your post will begin, "The foundation for handling sadness and misfortune, and thus for leading a low-stress life, is what I like to refer to as “living right.”
You can't fool all of the people all of the time, Tortoise. How about some new material?
Robert did say "some months ago". I think it is you who has the problem. Do you volunteer for Crooked Hillary? It sounds like her kind of comment! Robert has absolutely no obligation to provide you with anything! It truly is amazing how some people, like you, feel they are entitled to something, even on a free website! Be grateful for a repeat. because people like you need much repetition before they can learn even the most basic of concepts.
To Tortoise Watcher. You sir, are an ungrateful asshole and a troll. First, your handle "Tortoise Watcher" shows that you are an (unemployed beer guzzling television addicted), OCD neurotic with nothing better to do than critcize Robert and others for trying to help you. Get off your ass and solve your own problems, since you do not like the manner in which Robert's FREE solutions are delivered to you. Nobody cares about your ungratefulness or your pathetic characterzation of Robert's "shortcomings". Go away!
I don't mind a re-hash at all. Seems people are more stressed now than ever, so the message is still pertinent.
Then again, I re-read great books, too…
We all need to remember this no matter what takes place in the political processes.
Thank you Mr. Ringer.
The Tortoise has said he believes in ethics. That said, he could have published his post as a "classic" Ringer-ism. Instead, he misled his readers into believing that his encounter had happened some months…rather than some years…ago.
So, Dave, it is you who require a repeat: of your ethics classes–if you've ever had any.
With respect, what does if matter if this experience happened in 2013 or 2016? We can learn from experiences which are millenniums old. The lesson remains even if the story is from long ago or from recently. Calling Robert "Tortoise" is most disrespectful also. If you don't like his posts why not simply opt out?
Paul, truth matters.
First, the Tortoise indicated that his encounter occurred only "some months ago." It didn't. It occurred more than three years ago. Second, the Tortoise implied that his encounter caused him to think, "Welcome to the fundamentally transformed America of 2016!" But his encounter couldn't have caused his thought because both occurred in the America of 2013. And third, the Tortoise led us to believe that his post represented his current and original thoughts. It didn't; instead it was a "best of" piece. He should have so informed us, if only for ethical reasons.
Also, how could my calling Robert "Tortoise" be in any way disrespectful to him? "The Tortoise" is Robert, something he told us back in 1973. In fact, for years Robert published a newsletter known as "The Tortoise Report." Guess who was "The Tortoise" that did the reporting?
Finally, your suggestion that I "opt out" simply because I took issue with Robert's post is an extreme one. I've been "opting in" to Robert's works since the Carter Administration. I can't say, though, that I've agreed with every subsequent thought he has written or spoken. To "opt out" is to cop out.
I think your comment was inappropriate in tone and shows A complete lack of appreciation for what Mr. Ringer is delivering day after day. In my view he delivers interesting, meaningful and thoughtful commentary on many topics. I find his articles a breath of fresh air. . He delivers it for free and I eagerly anticipate the gems of wisdom that pour forth from Mr. Ringer on a regular basis. As far as when or even if the encounter with the woman took place. What difference would it make? The lessons to be learned from the story are there no matter when or if it ever happened. Mostly I think that your post was disrespectful and rude. Don't come on Mr Ringer's commentary to call him out on something which does not matter. If you have a thought for comment about the content then feel free to make your point and we can all have an interesting discussion.
As for me I appreciate that Mr Ringer does this at all. Apparently since you've been reading his works since the Carter administration you must feel that you get tremendous benefit from spending your valuable time reading Mr Ringer's work. I think you should reflect on my comments as well as the other readers comments and think about why you got the reaction you did. If you are writing anything to Mr Ringer you should write a thank you to Mr. Rager for all the many gems of wisdom that you have enjoyed and benefited from over the years.
I figured this out a long time ago. The priorities in my life are God, family, country, in that order. Stress is mostly a self-imposed affliction. You can't run from it, you can't hide from it, but you can kick it in the b***s and let it know who's the boss.
I hear you, Jim, as regards your priorities ranking, but as regards legal and law enforcement matters, you just TRY putting family ahead of country/state/municipality, and see where that gets you? What I am referring to is that if you protect a family member whom you know has broken the law – YOU will be prosecuted (and convicted) for that.
So that obligation to the STATE ranks higher than love of family and blood loyalty, as the law would have it. So that it is not about individual priorities in this, and I assume in all other countries, it is about the STATE imposing it's coercive power upon those who think they have something called "individual rights," "freedom of choice," and "dictates of conscience."
You are right, Robby, that as long as there is a State, and they are ALL EVIL, your first priority is to find the best way to navigate your life so as to reduce all interactions with these criminals to a minimum. Not to quibble with Jim above, but I have no "duty to country" as a priority since it is a sham based on immoral principles. I love the original ideas that led to the founding of the American republic, but this current govt. that has pretty much existed since the beginning of the 20th Century with the assault of the "Progressive" Movement is not worth respecting at all. I will once again put in a plug for the 1973 Harry Browne classic, "How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World", which will encourage those of us committed to freedom and non-aggression, how to run our personal lives for maximum happiness, despite the existence of the Evil State.
When I read this piece first thing in the morning today I felt a calmness come over me. For sure I have been told what Robert has written many times over but it still needs re-affirming from time to time especially when you encounter stress.
I wait eagerly for the Part II.
"I like the way you chose the time…."