I saved the most important step for last. Over the course of your lifetime your attitude will have more of a significant impact on your health than anything else.
Few would argue that taking on a "positive mental attitude" will improve your health, but the phrase "positive mental attitude" can be kind of vague, so what I hope to do in this chapter is to go into great detail of what I would consider to be the ultimate "positive mental attitude" and how to achieve it, but the short and simplistic description that I decided to give it for this chapter is being "easily amused and impossible to offend".
If you follow the advice in this chapter you will be the type of person who could easily laugh more from watching a 30 second TV commercial that wasn't even meant to be funny than the average person would laugh if they paid $10 to go to the movie theater and watch a 2 hour movie that was designed to make them laugh, and it will be so difficult for anyone to effect your mood in a negative way that even if there was a world wide great depression going on you would be completely immune to it emotionally.
This is such an important step that I want to give you 100 tips that I've learned over the years that have allowed me to become a person who is easily amused and impossible to offend.
1. BE YOUNG AT HEART
The Average Child
Smiles 500 Times Per Day
Laughs 400 Times Per Day
Asks A Question 300 Times Per Day
The Average Adult
Smiles 9 Times Per Day
Laughs 7 Times Per Day
Asks A Question 8 Times Per Day
No wonder depression is at an all time high!- No wonder so many people grow to be old, bitter, and set in their ways! - No wonder the biggest fear among young adults is the fear of getting older!
During my lifetime I have met a lot of old people who were so bitter that I have a hard time even trying to imagine them smiling, but at the same time almost every baby that I've ever spent time with was so easily amused that all you would have to do is make a weird face at them and they would just laugh and laugh and laugh.
So what happens to people as they age that causes them to become so serious and unhappy? A lot of adults will purposely hold back smiles and laughter during certain situations out of fear of seeming "childish", or they will be too afraid to ask questions that are on their mind because they believe that adults are supposed to be smart enough that they shouldn't have to ask questions all the time the same way that a child does, so I would encourage you to start catching yourself whenever you feel the urge to hold back a smile, a laugh, or a question for this reason and to start smiling, laughing, and asking questions whenever you have the urge to do so.
I also encourage you to spend some time with young children and observe their behavior and realize that so many of the things that adults get angry, depressed, or worried about are things that a child would laugh about or would simply not care about at all.
When I find myself in a room full of adults who are all complaining about the high gas prices or who are depressed because someone died I am like a new born baby who is too young to understand what is going on, and I wonder why everyone around me is so unhappy
2. LEARN ABOUT THE VERY BIG AND THE VERY SMALL
It's amazing to me to look at pictures of both the things that we can only see through a microscope and the things that we can only see through a telescope and know that we're somewhere in the middle of it all. When I look at these pictures I can see a lot of the same creative patterns in both of them, and when I look at natural scenery that I can see with my normal eyes (Such as a herd of zebras drinking from a lake.) I see the exact same creative pattern in them as well. Creativity is everywhere and we are completely surrounded by it.
What does all of this have to do with our attitudes? The more that you look through a telescope and realize just how big and amazing the universe is the more you realize just how small and insignificant we and all of our problems really are, but the more you look through a microscope and learn about the microscopic world (especially in your own body) the more you realize just how big and complex we all are and that each one of us is an entire Universe, and learning about both the very big and the very small brings balance and better understanding...
"Wisdom is knowing that I am nothing. Love is knowing that I am everything. And in between the two, my life flows."
3. LET GO OF ATTACHMENTS
Being "attached" to something means that you will become immobilized without it.
How did you react the last time the electricity went off in your house? Did you become upset and unhappy the instant it went out? Did you feel that there was nothing to do without electricity?
You were born with no possessions and you can't take any of your possessions with you when you die, (including your body) so the most freeing experience that you can have in this lifetime is to give up any attachments that you have to your possessions now while you are still alive and go through the rest of your life free from the fear of losing things and accepting of the fact that nothing stays the same forever.
I challenge you to give up the feeling of "ownership" over the things that you love the most. The more possessive you are of something the more offended you will feel if something happens to it... (If you hear a story about a someone's car getting stolen in another country it probably won't even matter to you, but if someone steals "YOUR" car that "YOU" own it will be a very big deal.)
Men who treat their girlfriends in a possessive manner will get offended if anyone even says "Hello" to their girlfriend and they are so busy worrying about losing their girlfriend to someone else that they can't enjoy the relationship while it is happening.
Until we are able to not only accept but to even welcome change in our life we will constantly have to deal with the stress of unwanted and unexpected changes. How do you learn to do this? You can start with your speech and thoughts. When I hear a song that has lyrics such as "I can't live without you" it makes me want to cringe because that's a perfect example of attachment based words and thoughts that we need to let go of for true detachment to be possible.
Some believe that ALL suffering is a result of attachments in our life, and you can find out for yourself if this is true or not by letting go of the attachments in your own life.
4. DON'T SPEND ANYTIME "REHEARSING" A NEGATIVE FUTURE IN YOUR MIND
A highly negative person will typically spend several hours a week (or even each day) rehearsing arguments in their mind that they imagine they will get into the next time they see or talk to certain people.
This is a huge waste of time and energy for many reasons. First of all the argument may not even happen in real life or it may only last for 30 seconds, but you spend countless hours going through it over and over again in your mind and it causes you a lot of unnecessary stress. Plus the only way that the argument will go exactly as you are imagining that it will is if the other person follows your imaginary "script" and says and does exactly what you are expecting them to, and since you can't know for sure what anyone else is going to say or do it is unlikely that you will be able to use most of the lines that you are rehearsing over and over again.
From this moment on start catching yourself anytime that you are having an imaginary argument in your head with someone who isn't even there and realize that if you are expecting and even rehearsing a future of being offended by other people you are setting yourself up for just that.
Instead of spending your time planning arguments in your head avoid arguments at all costs, and if you find yourself in one realize what you are doing and try to end it as quickly and peacefully as possible
5. KNOW THAT YOUR LIFE EXPERIENCE IS TURNED INSIDE OUT
What does the saying "Your life experience is turned inside out." mean? It means that what you see going on around you is a reflection of what is going on inside of you.
The world is like a giant mirror and although 2 people might be looking at the exact same thing one of them might be seeing it through a "funny mirror" that distorts things and makes some things seem bigger than they really are and some things seem smaller than they really are. (An anorexic who only weighs 72 pounds will look in the mirror and see an overweight person staring back at them, because they have a strong built in belief that they are overweight and this belief distorts their vision.)
Our perception of the world is severely limited when we go through life with a lot of limiting beliefs, and the people who are prejudice towards others who are different than them have the hardest time seeing what is in front of them. Imagine that you are in New York at Time Square, there is so much going on and so much to see, but if you happen to be a homophobic person not only will you be a lot more likely to notice a gay couple walking by holding hands, but because you have such strong negative feelings towards them you will focus on them so much that everything else around you will become virtually invisible to you and if you're not careful you might walk into a street sign because you weren't paying enough attention to the environment around you. And if you view the world as a violent and dangerous place not only will you be more likely to notice the news stories about crime and war, but you also won't realize how much good there is in the world because you have taken on a believe that the nature of people is evil.
As Gandhi said, "If you wish to change the world you have to be the change that you wish to see." so if you are waiting for the people and environment around you to change before you can be happy you are destined to be unhappy for the rest of your life and you won't do anything to change the world for the better, but if you make positive changes in your life and inspire others around you to do the same and they then inspire others to do the same as well then you will literally change the world for the better simply because you became the change that you wish to see in the world
6. STOP LOOKING FOR REASONS TO COMPLAIN
I know someone who used to have a job that involved answering phone calls from angry TV viewers who were calling in to complain about TV commercials that they felt were too vulgar, offensive, or sexual for TV and this person told me that when they would talk to these people they would often here these people's TV's playing in the background and all you could here was "Jerry, Jerry, Jerry!"... (When a person who is watching the Jerry Springer show is complaining about a TV commercial being too raunchy it is probably because they are a person who looks for reasons to complain.)
Complaining can easily become and addiction, and a very hard one to break at that. For some people complaining about the weather, the president, or their job is nothing more than "small talk", in other words it's just their way of saying "Hello" to other people, and people like this tend to surround themselves with other like minded people and it is important that you don't join people like this in their complaining. (If one person at a job starts complaining about the pay, the hours, and the boss and other workers decide to join them it will only be a matter of time before the work starts to noticeably suffer.)
Catch yourself anytime that you are about to complain about something, and then ask yourself the simple question, "Is there anything that I can do to fix the problem that I am about to complain about?" If the answer is "Yes" than do something about it, and if the answer is "No" it makes no sense to complain about it, because you have already established that there is nothing that you can do to fix the problem, and that includes complaining about it.
7. DON'T WAIT 10 YEARS TO LAUGH ABOUT SOMETHING
Recently I was at a friend's house who is 23 years old and at one point his dad started laughing and asked me, "Has my son ever told you about the time when he was 13 and he destroyed my car?" He then proceeded to tell me how when my friend was only 13 he had never driven a car before and one night he stayed up late and as soon as his parent's went to sleep he took his dad's car keys, went outside, and tried to drive his dad's car to a friend's house, but he ended up going off the road and into a creek and totalling the car.
What was interesting is that both my friend and his dad were laughing hysterically while he was telling the story, yet I'm sure that at the time that it was actually happening none of them were laughing about it. Because 10 years have passed they now see it as something that they can laugh about, but I know certain people who I'm positive would be able to laugh about something like this the same day that it happened.
The sooner you can laugh about something the less stress you will have to go through because of it. If you know that what is going on at the moment is something that will be a very entertaining and funny story 10 years from now how can you not find any humor in it now? And if it won't bother you 10 years from now why let it bother you for the next 10 years?
In today's society it is considered offensive to make jokes about certain things until a certain amount of time has passed. (This amount of time is not written down anywhere, and it is basically a situation where the longer you wait to make the joke the less people will feel offended by it.) We need to learn to abolish time limit that we give ourselves before we can laugh at the experiences in our life.
Going through life believing that you can't laugh about something until you have spent 10 years feeling bad about it is like buying a stand up comedy DVD and spending 10 years felling bad that it cost you $20 before you can watch it. Why not watch the DVD as soon as you buy it? If you say, "It's not funny when bad things are actually happening to you in the moment." I'm guessing that you probably have watched "funny" videos on the internet of people tripping and falling and that you laughed the instant you saw it happening to them and that you didn't have to wait for several years before you could laugh about it, so why can't you laugh the instant that something like that happens to you? Some people do laugh at themself in these situations and the people who can laugh at themself have far less stress in their life than the rest of us.
So many of the difficult experiences that we went through in the past we know enjoy talking about and even laughing about, so learn try to start laughing while the experience is actually happening to you
8. REALIZE THAT NO ONE CAN OFFEND YOU WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION
We like to blame others people and circumstances for the negativity that comes out of us, but the truth is that in order for you to "let out some negativity" you must first have negativity inside of you in the first place, and as hard as it may be for some to believe you have the power right now to make the decision to never be offended again for the rest of your life.
Imagine that a stand-up comedian is telling jokes in front of 100 people and you are one of the people in the crowd, and in the middle of the show you get so upset at one of the jokes that you walk out and asked for a refund. It would be tempting in that moment to say that the reason that you left was because the comedian was being offensive, but if that were true why didn't the other 99 people get up and leave as well? (It's no different than if 2 people are at a party and 1 of them is having a great time and the other one is bored... It's not really the party that is responsible for their completely different reactions.)
It's important to note that when people get offended about something (such as a joke in the example above) there's a good chance that they wouldn't have been so upset about it if they heard the joke from someone else, or if they heard it in a different environment, or if the weren't already upset about something else when they heard it, which is strong evidence that we don't get offended due to things going on around us, but rather we get offended when we a let our guards down and let ourself become emotionally vulnerable and irritable... Be strong and don't be the type of person who is so fragile that you would let a joke completely ruin your day, your weekend, or your life
9. UNDERSTAND THAT THE PEOPLE WHO OFFEND YOU MIGHT NOT MEAN TO
Question 1 - Have you ever had the experience of having someone get really mad at you because they took something that you said or did the wrong way?
Question 2 - Have you ever had the experience of getting angry at someone for the way that they were behaving around you and then you found out later that they were upset at the time because someone close to them had just passed away or something of that nature?
If you answered "Yes" to any of these 2 questions than you know that it feels terrible to be in one of these situations.
If someone is behaving in a negative way around you for no apparent reason please keep in mind that there is probably a very good explanation for their behavior that you simply aren't aware of and try not take it personally.
If I was walking down the street and a total stranger started yelling at me I wouldn't join them in their negativity by yelling back at them, but rather I would wonder what in the world that person was going through that would make them so upset that they would be taking it out on someone that they don't even know.
When we are in public we are all expected to act a certain way regardless of what is going on in our personal life and sometimes people who are going through a really bad experience simply find it too hard to pretend that nothing is wrong, and without realizing why a person is upset we need to try to not be so quick to judge their behavior or join them in it, because the possibilities are endless as far as what they might be going through at that moment. (When you stop and think about it there is no such thing as a person who behaves negatively for absolutely no reason.)
10. LIVE AND LET LIVE
I used to believe in the notion that "As long as you aren't bothering anyone else with your behavior you can do what ever you want." however, the fact is that a lot of people out there are so easily offended these days that it would be next to impossible to go through life without offending someone sooner or later regardless of what you do. (Even if you locked yourself in doors and became a total hermit you would probably still offend your neighbors for not coming out to mow your yard every once in a while!)
When we look back at history we see countless examples of people who have tried to obtain "World Peace" by killing off or putting into chains everyone who was different than them, and we need to start appreciating the fact that no 2 people in the world are exactly the same and realize that our individual differences make us unique, not mortal enemies.
Many of us have been raised and conditioned to hate people living in a certain area of the world even though we've never even met any of them personally or even know any of their names for that matter. Many of us also carry around certain prejudices towards people of certain races, beliefs, or sexual orientations that may seem mild and harmless, but are still prejudices none the less and only add to the overall amount of prejudice in the world.
So how can we live a "Live & Let Live Lifestyle"? The common expression for it is, "Minding your own business." but I will describe it here as a combination of non-interference, non-judgement, and non-violence towards others. Allowing your children to make their own decision about what they want to be when they grow up, not feeling threatened by people who are look, talk, or act differently than you do, and eating a vegan diet are all examples of ways to "Live & Let Live". Society as a whole appears to be getting more respectful and tolerant of others and I feel very optimistic about it, but we clearly still have a very long way to go and each one of us as individuals can make a huge difference by our examples