Having spent 20 years living a life of poverty and desperation, including 13 years in federal and state prisons, and now living a life of nearly incomprehensible prosperity, I have learned that long-term suffering is a choice — our mindset will determine whether our suffering remains a temporary or permanent condition.
Now before complete apoplexy sets in and you begin shouting at your computer about all the people who have innocently suffered at the hands of others, let me explain the kind of suffering to which I refer.
I am writing about chronic, long-term suffering that is an unnecessary state of anxiety, fear and/or dissatisfaction about some event, condition or circumstance of our life. There are those who suffer real physical or psychological pain, and this is not intended to minimize their condition.
There is a distinction between the natural and immediate short-term suffering following a catastrophic event in our life and unnecessary long-term suffering.
When a loved one dies, for example, the temporary suffering associated with our grief is a natural process. Additionally, natural short-term anxiety and fear may result from losing a job, experiencing a personal financial crisis or going through a divorce.
Our immediate short-term suffering is normal and actually serves a purpose as the psychological discomfort prompts us to take action to eliminate the anxiety and fear by finding a new job, rebuilding our financial security or finding a new mate (or learning to be happy without one).
But chronic long-term suffering is dangerous and counterproductive. It can result in a diminished quality of life, loss of happiness, energy and productivity and in severe cases, even suicide. My sister, for example, could never move beyond painful events of her life and resorted to killing herself in 2004. Having contemplated suicide myself, I know how suffering can overwhelm us and make happiness seem unattainable.
But eliminating unnecessary long-term suffering is critical to achieve happiness, productivity and prosperity. My 20 year journey of overcoming prison, poverty and addiction has taught me how to transcend long-term suffering and show others how to build amazing lives.
My turning point was June 10, 1996. At the time I was in federal custody awaiting trial on multiple federal indictments. I was a three-time loser, high school drop-out and had spent my entire adult life lying and stealing. I had also abandoned my infant son.
All that began to change on a fateful day in 1996, when a guard told me to call home. I made the call and learned that my father had died. Following my father’s death the regret of a wasted life crushed me, and I realized he went to his grave knowing me as a thief and a liar. He had hoped I would be so much more.
I began suffering the pain of a wasted life, abandoning my son and the seven years of additional prison time that awaited me. But a question remained: would my suffering linger as it had for twenty years or would I do something new to make my suffering a temporary condition?
I decided to make a change.
Through studying the works of Stephen R. Covey, Anthony Robbins, Wayne Dyer and Napoleon Hill I learned that “Thoughts are Things” and as Emerson said, “We become what we think about all day long.” I learned that the nature of my thoughts dictated the quality of my life, and I could change my circumstances and emotional state by changing my thoughts.
Therefore, I decided to try an experiment. I had nothing to lose.
I wrote out what an amazing life for me would look like, and I resolved to focus only on the things in life I desired. I resolved to act in a manner consistent with the things I wanted, and I took responsibility for the quality of my life.
I realized that the mind is fertile soil and will grow whatever we plant and nurture within it.
I learned that it’s nearly impossible to focus on success and prosperity and create failure and misery. I learned that I had created a desperate, pathetic life by fearing a desperate, pathetic life. My thoughts had become my life.
I stayed focused on creating an amazing life and within a short time my psychological suffering began to diminish despite the fact that my physical reality had not changed. The only thing that changed was my thoughts. But when I changed the way I thought, I changed the way I felt.
And when I changed the way I felt I changed the way I acted. And when I changed the way I acted I begin to see new and better results in my life. I learned that positive thoughts and visualizations tend to create positive results.
As I took actions consistent with my visualizations, the opportunities and resources I needed to change my life appeared. Eventually all the wonderful things I imagined alone in my prison cell manifested themselves in my life. Today I have an amazing life of happiness and prosperity.
I have developed a simple four step process which will create a mindset for happiness and prosperity, so others can experience the success and life transformation I have enjoyed.
And as my story demonstrates, a positive mindset can diminish suffering related to unwanted circumstances in our life even before our physical circumstances change; moreover, by implementing this process, we create a mindset that will eventually lead to changing the circumstances that fuel our suffering.
I call this process The Upside of F.E.A.R.
Step 1: Get FOCUSED on the things in life you want, not on the things you don’t want. Your thoughts (good or bad; negative or positive) will attract things. Bottom line: Identify at least five things in life you desire and five things you desire to be.
Step 2: Get EMOTIONALLY anchored to the things in life you desire by writing them down, reading them and experiencing the emotions of what it will be like when those things are a reality. Every morning for seven years I read my list of dreams, visualized them and allowed myself to experience the emotions as if my dreams had already come true.
Step 3: Take ACTION consistent with the things you desire. If you want to build a successful business, for example, you can’t spend your days watching mindless television. Success requires that your actions be consistent with your desires.
Step 4: Take RESPONSIBILITY for your responses to whatever life throws at you. The reality is bad things happen to good people. Your success in life will depend far more on how you respond to life’s challenges than the challenges themselves.
By restructuring the framework within which our mind conducts its daily activities, we can create a positive mindset that is capable of diminishing our psychological suffering related to anxiety, fear and/or dissatisfaction about some event, condition or circumstance of our life.
Incredibly, this process can begin to minimize our suffering even before our physical circumstances change. Furthermore, the new framework of Focus, Emotional anchoring, Action and Responsibility will help create the amazing life you deserve and desire.
To learn more about Weldon Long, visit WeldonLong.com
-What do you think of the ideas shared in the previous article? Is there anything you would like to share on this topic?
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