Archive for the ‘happiness’ Category

The Trap of Self-pity

November 27, 2018

I recently had a breakthrough in my life. Through muscle testing and inspiration, it was pointed out to me that I have an issue with self-pity. As I worked on it, I could remember so many times in my life that I’ve felt sorry for myself. I could see how this self-pity was interfering with my life and holding me back. I have partially conquered this issue in my life and am now beginning to see the fruits of it. I don’t believe I’m the only one that has this problem. Self-pity, I believe, is a huge problem for a lot of people in their lives, even though it may not be obvious. The main fruits of self-pity are bitterness, discouragement and depression.Sad pity

Why do we tend to feel sorry for ourselves so much? For some, it could be that they were raised to look at life that way. Perhaps your parents always dwelt on their own problems, or they kept reminding you of your problems. They may have been lovingly expressing sympathy, but inadvertently teaching you to focus on your problems and feel sorrow about them. For others, it could have been the opposite situation. Perhaps no one seemed to care about your problems. You may have felt that the only person you were going to get any sympathy was from yourself. So you learned to feel sorry for yourself. After a while, it was such a normal way of thinking that you became totally unaware of it.

How do we know if we’re feeling sorry for ourselves? Self-pity is an inward-facing emotion. Possible signs include:

  • Moping about or spending a lot of time thinking about your problems and difficult circumstances
  • Repeated or sustained feelings of anger, frustration, depression, resentment or worry about the situation that you’re in
  • Feeling like you’re never good enough or worthy to receive the good things in life that you desire
  • Feelings of inferiority based on your current circumstances
  • Feeling like you just want to give up
  • Dwelling excessively on your own shortcomings and perceived failures

“But Dr. Don,” you say, “my problems are very real! I’ve had terrible things happen to me, many of which were not even my fault! I think I’m entitled to feel sorry for myself. My issues are not self-pity but the horrible crap that I have to put up with!”

You might even say, “I’ve been through a lot. I’ve EARNED the right to be this miserable!”

Perhaps you have. It is certainly not my intention to minimize your problems. We all have issues, from minor annoyances to horrible, gut-wrenching trauma. The question is, do you want to continue to be a victim of the things that have happened to you (or perhaps even the mistakes you’ve made), or do you want to take back control of your life? I’ve known many people who seem to glory in their misery. They want the world to see what a terrible hand they’ve been dealt in life. They want to invite everyone around them to their “pity party”. And again, I’m not making light of their problems. However, wallowing in their misery has become a part of their life.

Keller selfpityIt takes courage to break free of the pattern of self-pity. It takes an open mind and humility to even see the problem. It means taking responsibility for your life and happiness. It can be much easier to blame your circumstances on everything and everyone around you. If you really need to continue wallowing in your misery a while longer, or if you’re not ready to take charge of your situation in life, then stop reading this. Come back when you’re ready. I won’t judge you.

Still with me? Okay. Let’s charge ahead. And that’s much of the solution – KEEP MOVING FORWARD. Half of the solution you may have already accomplished at this point. If a light has just turned on in your head, if you’re starting to realize that you’ve been indulging in self-pity and can see how it’s been holding you back in your life, you’re already halfway there!

I will say this here and now – discouragement is of the devil (the adversary). God will Carnegie selfpityNEVER tell you to give up, stop trying, and just pack it in. Discouragement is one of the first fruits of self-pity. Discouragement makes you just want to give up, to sit down in the middle of the proverbial road and mope in your misery. Once you recognize the patterns of feeling sorry for yourself, then whenever such thoughts come into your mind, you can toss them aside and replace them with “keep moving forward”.

Remember that you can’t steer a parked car.

Does this mean that you stop taking care of your own needs and desires? Definitely not. What do you do when you’re hungry? Do you just plop down in your easy chair and whine about how hungry you are? I hope not! You go get something to eat. If you have nothing to eat, you work on getting some money, or going to the store, or whatever you need to do to get some food. It won’t fill your belly to just sit down and moan about it.

That same principle applies to every other problem in your life. You must focus on the solution, not the problem. Once you acknowledge and understand what the problem is, there’s no need to dwell any further on the problem or how miserable and complicated it’s making your life. Instead, toss aside your negative thoughts and start working on how to solve the problem. If you cannot see any reasonable solution that you can carry out anytime soon, then resolve to have patience. Remember the Prayer of Serenity, which I’ve referenced before –

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”

This also reminds me of another saying – “Work will win when wishy-washy wishing won’t”. Keep moving forward!

I must also mention here that true clinical depression is often not the result of self-pity. There can be an imbalance or deficiency of certain chemicals in your brain that cause feelings of depression, even when life is going along okay. You can’t just “cheer up”. If this is the case for you, be sure to see your doctor. (I also help some people with this condition using drugless approaches.) In this case, what I’m saying in this post mostly does not apply to you. However, many people with minor clinical depression can needlessly wind up in a downward spiral. In that case, instead of being initially depressed about your situation, you get physically/chemically depressed and then look for reasons to justify your depression. That makes sense. However, as you find the reasons, the depression gets worse because now you have more motivation to be depressed! So in this situation, the above principles DO apply. Maybe you can’t completely shake the depression, but you may be able to control it better so that it doesn’t become disabling.

Share this blog post. I’ve never asked for this before, but I feel the need to get this message out to as many people as possible. Self-pity manifests itself as other emotions. It’s also not something we like to admit to. Therefore, it’s generally overlooked. Since it is the foundation of some of these other emotional issues, it could be why it’s so hard sometimes to correct ongoing feelings of depression, lack of self-worth, discouragement, etc. I may yet write a whole book about this, but for now, I’ll have to settle for this short blog post. My business has picked up so much, I don’t have much time for writing. In the meantime…

LOOK UP! KEEP MOVING FORWARD!

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Raging Against What Is

September 20, 2018

people-1316292__340Do you ever find yourself in a situation that is totally unacceptable and yet there isn’t a darn thing you can do about it? This can be one of the greatest sources of frustration in your life. I like to quote from the Prayer of Serenity used by Alcoholics Anonymous:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”

I’ve written previously about the fine line we walk between complacency and acceptance; between moving forward with enthusiasm and confidence versus living with the circumstances that we’ve been given. My patients will never hear these words from me, “You just have to learn to live with it.” I don’t give up. I don’t believe that because a solution doesn’t immediately present itself or that I don’t currently know of any way to provide meaningful treatment for a specific issue right now, that the solution to the problem does not or will not exist. How arrogant it is for a doctor to say that if they don’t have the answer, there is no answer!

Let’s look at that Prayer of Serenity. The first request is to have the serenity to accept the things you cannot change. The fact is that there are things you cannot change, at least not in a big way or right away. Imagine that there’s a hurricane bearing down on your city and your house is right in the way. You can board up your windows, secure your belongings and head for higher ground. However, you cannot stop the hurricane! You can rage against it all you want, but it will come whether you like it or not. Perhaps prayer and positive thinking could change its course. However, you yourself do not have the power to stop it or change it in any way.

The second request is that we have the courage to change the things we can. If there is anything that can be done to improve a situation, certainly we should act. Sometimes it does require courage. Remember, if it were easy, you would have done it already. We can do hard things. We can move forward even when the odds seem to be against us.

Lastly, the prayer asks for the wisdom to know the difference between what we can and can’t change. There’s the real kicker. We can so easily be blinded. Our judgement is often clouded by strong emotions. We can feel helpless even though we may be surrounded by solutions. Or we can be ignorantly over-confident, thinking we should be able to easily resolve a situation, but it just isn’t happening, no matter how hard we try; causing us to rage against the situation. This creates huge amounts of stress, which hurts us physically, emotionally and spiritually.

One thing that I would add is that it’s seldom black and white as the prayer seems to suggest. There are some things that we absolutely cannot do anything about, which we just have to accept and be serene as we can about it. However, most things, we can do something about. We may not be able to completely make the problem go away, but we can lessen the problem, find ways to work around the problem, or lessen the effects of the problem. Sometimes we can do something about the problem, but it takes a lot of time and effort. That requires a lot of patience, which really takes us back to the first line of the prayer. We still need serenity to accept things we can’t change 100% RIGHT NOW.

I have great respect for the strength and simplicity of that prayer, but if I were to change it at all, this would be my humble suggestion:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change immediately or completely,
Courage to change the things I can to whatever degree I have the strength and capacity,
And wisdom to know the difference as it stands right now,
As well as patience, determination and tenacity to keep moving forward no matter the odds
.

So don’t stress yourself by raging against what is the current situation. Find peace in doing what you can to improve your situation at this moment and every moment going forward. You cannot coast to your goal, since it usually lies uphill. However, you can feel serenity in taking it one step at a time, whether big or small, depending on your strength and capacity. Still know that there are some circumstances that you may not be able to change. We work with whatever circumstances we find ourselves currently in, whether those circumstances are our own making or have been thrust upon us. We just keep moving forward in faith.

The Tricky Balance of Self-Mastery

May 1, 2018

ScalesI’ve been getting advice and guidance from Kirk Duncan, a local teacher and mentor. A principle that I learned from him goes like this – self-accountability + self-forgiveness = self-mastery. I really like that. And the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that this principle is one of the main keys to success for anything in life.

There has to be a balance at all times. If you’re too much on the side of self-forgiveness, you’ll tend to be way too easy on yourself. You’ll just take the attitude that everything is fine and you don’t need to work or improve; that just getting by is all that’s required. In a way, it’s a nice way to be. Less stressful and actually healthier physically and mentally. The problem is that you don’t progress that way. You can’t coast your way to greater success in life. Pretty much anything worthwhile to accomplish in life takes a certain amount of effort, discipline and even sacrifice.

On the other hand, if you’re too much on the side of self-accountability, you’ll be way too hard on yourself. You will have no patience with your faults and weaknesses. If you’re a real go-getter, you may be thinking that you shouldn’t have patience with yourself like that. But it creates a great deal of stress in you that can tear you up inside, destroy health and relationships, and rob you of all happiness. Life is a journey that was meant to be enjoyed. Besides, what I’ve seen in my own life and the lives of others is that without self-forgiveness, you really don’t move forward effectively.

Here’s a little-known secret – success is often the product of joy, not the cause of it! Too many people are pushing themselves harder and harder, making themselves sick and miserable to accomplish their goals, while actually pushing their goals further away. Being sick and miserable does NOT attract success and happiness. Yes, progressing in life and accomplishing goals take effort and sacrifice, but you can do it while feeling joy, not putting off experiencing joy until your goal is accomplished. That’s where self-forgiveness comes in. If you’re really driven to accomplishing great things, you may be prone to beating yourself up every time you fall short of being where you want to be or finishing something you wanted to have done. Feelings of self-worth help to attract greater success. But if you’re constantly beating yourself up every time you make a mistake or don’t accomplish what you wanted to do, you will devalue yourself and put yourself into a place where it’s difficult to think positive and attract good things into your life.

So the key here is balance. If you can maintain accountability for your performance and setting and working toward goals, while forgiving yourself for falling short and for your natural limitations and weaknesses, you can move forward and accomplish great things in your life. It requires a healthy amount of self-honesty and the ability to distinguish reasons from excuses. But even when we fall victim to our own excuses, even the lame ones, we have to understand that we are human and as such, have natural faults and weaknesses. It’s important that we forgive ourselves but then immediately recommit to get back on track and do better next time. Just like a baby learning to walk, there is not a limitation on the number of failed attempts to do better. As long as you commit yourself and keep moving forward, you are a success!

 

The Secret Power of Positivity

March 21, 2018

+++++++ I recently attended another seminar with Kirk Duncan – a very motivational trainer. He spoke about a principle that I’ve known about for a long time but had discounted. Perhaps I didn’t really understand it until now. (I’m still learning about it.) You’ve heard of the saying “garbage in, garbage out” (GIGO). I know that computer programmers used to say that a lot. This applies to everything in life. To put it more broadly, as Kirk was teaching, the type of energy we put into anything will determine the type of results (energy) we get back out.

We’ve known about this principle for a long time in relation to plants. It was discovered a number of years ago that if you play soft, elevating music to plants, they grow better. Many people claim that they’re even affected by the things you say to them. Masaru Emoto used this same principle in his research with water. He wrote a book entitled The Hidden Messages in Water­. In it, he talked about how he would play certain types of music around water. He would then quickly freeze it and look at how the water crystallized. With classical music, it created beautiful even patterns. With hard raucous music (like heavy metal), the ice crystals were very misshapen and disorderly. He got the same kind of results with speech. Gentle affirming words created beautiful crystals, while angry, hateful words created ugly crystals. Writing words on the containers, such as love and hate, did the same thing.

All that is interesting, but it may not make a whole lot of difference in your life. Where it truly makes a difference is with people and situations. In the Bible, it says “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24). Words contain powerful energy. They can be healing or hurtful. What you say cannot be unsaid, even with an apology. Even when you’re joking and the person on the other end knows that you’re joking, negative remarks can be damaging to one’s self-esteem and confidence. It even goes further than that. If you believe in the power of the subconscious mind (as I do), you would realize that even your thoughts about another person have an effect on them. We’re all in contact with each other on an energetic level. But even if you don’t believe that, you must realize that your attitude about another person will come out in your speech toward them, how you look at them, things you do or don’t do for them, etc. You cannot entirely hide your feelings about another person when you’re interacting with them on a regular basis!

But what about the thoughts you think about yourself and your life? Wouldn’t the same rules apply? The type of energy you put in will determine the type of results that you get. You can’t grump your way to success. You can’t complain enough to make your life happy and enjoyable. It doesn’t work that way. If you put in negativity, including fear, doubt, anger, etc., your results will not be what you would like them to be. I’ve written a couple of times about the power of gratitude. Gratitude, faith, love, confidence, etc. will elevate your thinking, open your mind to new possibilities, calm your fears, and drastically improve your chances for success.

Easy, right? Of course not. If your life is humming along and you’re setting and meeting goals and so forth, this kind of thinking may come easier for you. But if you’re depressed and discouraged, if life is not looking at all rosy, if you’re faced with crushing burdens and hardships, how do you turn your thinking around? I’ve listened to lots of motivational speakers who tell me to think a certain way. I keep looking for that little switch in my brain that will change my thinking from negative to positive. I haven’t found it. Have you? I haven’t mastered this, but I’m working on it. I have found that if you start with little things, then you can start to get a handle on it. Kirk Duncan teaches us to say “I manage my emotions; my emotions don’t manage me.” Of course, even he knows that it’s a long process to get to that point. One thing you have to realize is that often times; negative thinking is simply a bad habit. Like any habit, you have to consciously work on changing it, and it takes a lot of practice. Pay attention to your thoughts. When you catch yourself thinking negatively about yourself, another person, or a situation in your life, quickly replace it with something positive. I’m not saying to be complacent. For example, if you don’t like your job, you don’t have to stick with it for the rest of your life. However, thinking positive thoughts about your job will not lock you into it and it may just make it more enjoyable, which will improve your performance and may lead to a better job.

Remember, positive in = positive out. Negative in = negative out. Whatever you want to grow and improve in your life – your income, your marriage, your performance, whatever – invest positive energy into it and stop putting in negative energy. I believe you’ll be a whole lot happier and successful if you do.

The School of Gratitude

February 15, 2018

gratitudeI’m thankful

for the toes on my left foot. Why would I say such a thing? Because I lost the toes on my right foot! (Be careful with lawn mowers!)

I’ve written before about how one of the greatest secrets to having joy in this life is to feel and express gratitude. It can be hard to feel gratitude (or joy) when you’re depressed, discouraged, or overwhelmed with physical and/or emotional pain. The problem is… when you’re in a deep dark pit or your mind is completely enveloped in some kind of crushing stress, how do you “look on the bright side” and start working your way to a better place? It can be difficult to take even a tiny step in the right direction.

One thing that I’ve learned in life is that you never EVER say that things can’t get any worse. The universe will be glad to prove you wrong. I don’t care how bad things are. They can ALWAYS get worse in some way. Also, when you say that, you’re implying that there’s absolutely nothing to be grateful for. That’s a slap in the face to God and everybody on the planet.

Every successful person will tell you that your attitude and outlook on life has everything to do with your ability to set and achieve meaningful goals. However, that can be a real challenge when life has beaten you down and all you can see any more are the negative aspects of your life. So let’s start with some basics.

There are lots of things in life that we don’t appreciate until they’re gone. Prior to my little altercation with the lawn mower, I can’t remember ever feeling gratitude for my toes. As with many things in life, I just took them for granted. I’m sure there are things in your life that you never really appreciated until it was taken away, even temporarily. Perhaps there was even a really close call that made you appreciate your health and safety.

So in the school of gratitude, basic level, your assignment is to make a list of things that you’re grateful for. The easiest way to approach this is to look around you (including in the mirror) and identify each item that benefits you in some way. Then think about how your life would be made more difficult or less enjoyable if you didn’t have that thing. Remember – it can always get worse. Do you have a broken leg? If not, be thankful for that. If so, be thankful that both legs aren’t broken. If they are, be thankful both arms and legs aren’t broken, and so on. Look at yourself in the mirror. Are you very attractive? If so, be thankful for that. If you don’t think so, I’ll bet you’ve seen someone else who is disfigured or for whatever reason is much less attractive than you. If there is anyone else less attractive than you, that means you have a measure of beauty, for which you can be grateful.

So make that list. You can go through your body parts. You can list all sorts of things in your environment that are luxuries or necessities that benefit you in some way. As you look at things around you, if you would be better off without something, skip over it for now. Otherwise, list it. I think you’ll find that the list will grow very rapidly. As the list grows, you will feel more joy in your life.

Once you’ve mastered that and can feel gratitude for all the things in you and around you, you have earned your bachelor’s degree in the school of gratitude. You’re now ready for the more advanced courses.

Have you ever had trials and difficulties? Of course you have. Have they benefited you in any way? Perhaps more than you think. I believe that we only grow through challenges and difficulties. Some of them are thrust upon us as trials and hardships. Some of them are self-inflicted, such as going back to school and taking hard courses or pushing ourselves to perform a more grueling workout routine. You can seldom cruise your way to meaningful success. You don’t generally accomplish great things sitting on your couch watching mindless TV shows. Work is required. Also, there are trials that you’ve gone through that have made you stronger or more empathetic or have helped you appreciate the good things in life more. I don’t recommend sticking your foot in your lawnmower. I can’t say that I’m glad I did that (I tripped actually), but I have learned from it. Be thankful for the lessons and growth that have come from hardships.

Another thing you can do is to look around again. Pay specific attention to the things you skipped over. Maybe they weren’t just things. Perhaps some of them were people and relationships. Especially in light of what I was just saying about trials, there may be some benefits that you missed as you were making your initial list. Often times, we can look closer and consider ways in which we’ve benefited. It doesn’t work in all cases, but sometimes we can find some blessings in the midst of horrible circumstances.

If you can do all of this, you’ve earned your master’s degree in the school of gratitude. Shall we talk about how to take it even further? There are a few ways in which we can feel gratitude at the highest level.

One way is to feel gratitude for benefits and blessings not yet received. This is called faith. A simple way is to think about your next paycheck. There’s no guarantee until you have it in your bank account. However, you’re reasonably confident that you will get it around the designated time. Therefore, why wait to feel gratitude for it? Feeling thankful for things and exercising faith helps to draw more good to us. So you might as well start feeling grateful now. There are blessings on their way to you right now, some of which you’re not even aware of. So be grateful for them now.

Another way to feel the most advanced form of gratitude, which is something that most people struggle with and why it’s part of the school of gratitude’s doctoral program, is to feel grateful for other people’s good fortune, even when it’s something that you desire and have not yet been able to attain. “Sour grapes” is more the common attitude in that situation. It’s easier to feel jealousy, resentment and disappointment, maybe even a loss of self-esteem. But you’re becoming an expert in gratitude. Therefore you can take on that challenge.

Lastly, especially if you recognize God’s hand in your life and you feel confidence that he has a plan for you, it becomes possible to feel grateful for everything in your life. This even applies to trials and hardships while you’re in the middle of them. It doesn’t mean that you have to be a martyr or to enjoy the pain that they cause. But it does mean that you understand that everything has a purpose and that all things will work together for your good.

I hope you don’t feel like I’m being overly optimistic. I still get down sometimes. I’m not trying to minimize difficulties that you’re going through. However, I maintain that whatever degree of gratitude you can feel and express is the degree to which you can feel joy in this life, even if it’s small. If you’re feeling very down, start with that basic list that I described earlier. Do it today.

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Dare to Dream

January 31, 2018

abundanceAlfred Lord Tennyson once wrote, “‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” This statement is often quoted and yet not everyone agrees with it. If you’ve ever had your heart broken, especially recently, you may think this statement is not at all true. But I believe I know what he was talking about. Even if you have lost at love, your life is richer for having experienced it.

I’d like to ask you another question, perhaps much more controversial. Is it better to have dreamed and lost than to have never dreamed at all? For those who have dared to dream of what they’d like to see in their life, some have become embittered. I know of many people, especially older people, who would say that they wished they had never had a dream or set a big goal. They may have been repeatedly hurt, disappointed, abused, or ripped off. They took their minds to great heights only to come crashing down. Sometimes the pain is too much to want to get up and try again.

Let’s look at the story of Joe. (This is hypothetical but all too common.) Joe was a country boy who always wanted to have a farm of his own. However, he was urged to pursue another career path. So he went to school and got a job in the city. It was a good job, but his heart wasn’t truly in it. Finally one day, he decided to pursue his dream. He didn’t just up and quit his job. He worked hard, sacrificed and saved until he could earn enough money for a good down payment on a farm. The day finally arrived when he was able to purchase a farm and move back to the country. It took all of his savings to pay for the down payment on the farm, a minimal amount of equipment and seed to plant. He planted his crop and worked very hard to get it to grow well. His efforts were soon rewarded with a large field of beautiful corn stalks. The stalks were full of ears of corn. It looked like it would be a bumper crop.

Then tragedy struck. A huge storm laid the crop low. None of the corn was salvageable. It was a total loss. Joe’s savings were wiped out. His plans for a great crop that year were completely ruined.

What would you do if you were Joe? Would you sell the farm and go back to your old life? Or would you try again? Should Joe have just settled for his job in the city and never attempted to live his dream? It certainly would have been easier.

The purpose of life is to have joy. Joy comes from relationships and experiences. Unfortunately, relationships and experiences often result in pain. To have neither joy nor pain is to simply exist. That is not living. So I ask again – is it better to have dreamed and lost than to have never dreamed at all? It’s important here to step back and look at the bigger picture. We can ask the question in another way. Is it better to have dreamed a dream, including working hard to accomplish that dream, and lost than to look back on your life and see that it was wasted as you wallowed in mediocrity, too afraid of pain to try for the joy? This could be one of the most important questions that you can ever ask yourself.

I’ve known a lot of joy in my life. However, I have had dreams smashed or just never come to fruition. I’ve worked hard for things only to have them taken away. I’ve been burned a number of times and experienced a lot of pain. How many times should you have to get burned before you learn to stay away from the fire? That seems like a logical question. And yet, is it better to spend your life in the cold and darkness simply because you’re afraid of the fire?

Some dreams take a long time to come true and come with a host of setbacks along the way. Some dreams end in painful disappointment. However, EVERY GREAT ACCOMPLISHMENT STARTS WITH A DREAM. Don’t let the fear of pain keep you from reaching for the joy. My wife always says, “the answer is always no if you don’t ask”. You may be afraid of failure. However, failure (the lack of accomplishment) is guaranteed for those who will not try. You’re far more likely to have wonderful things happen in your life if you’re not afraid to dream. Dreams become goals, goals lead to action, action brings results. So dare to dream!

I Am Black (sort of)

October 16, 2017

You wouldn’t know it to look at me. My race is Caucasian and my skin doesn’t have much color to it. I don’t have any African-American heritage. And I’m not just black. There are a few other races mixed in there as well.

Let me explain. Thirty years ago, my wife and I adopted a newborn little girl who happened to be African-American. Her skin is the color of fine milk chocolate and her hair is as kinky as kinky can get. We fell in love with her right away. Adopting her ended nine years of failed attempts to have a child naturally. Just five months later, we adopted another baby. This one is half Hispanic. Several years later, we adopted a little boy who is part black, part Pacific Islander. So we have a variety of races in our family.

Shortly after we adopted our first little girl (who is now very tall and beautiful), we experienced a very eye-opening incident. We were walking in a mall on our way to see a movie and a young man started talking to us. I don’t know what his problem was but he started spouting all of these racial slurs against black people. I felt an interesting reaction. I was very offended. Not just for my daughter or for all people of color, but for myself. My daughter had become a part of me. So in a way, I had become part black. So when he was insulting black people, he was insulting me as well! I told him in no uncertain terms that I didn’t appreciate his remarks.

I’ve thought about it many times since. My children are a part of me, even though they aren’t related to me biologically. That makes me part white, part black, part Latino, and part Pacific Islander. But it goes further than that. I believe that everyone on this planet is my brother or sister. That’s not just mushy poetic talk. I believe we’re all children of one Heavenly Father. I believe that spiritually, as well as going way back in genealogy, we’re all related. Everyone of every race is a part of me.

I wasn’t raised to be racist. So I don’t understand racism. I realize that even those who are racist are my brothers and sisters as well. But I just don’t get it. I really thought that the people of the United States had risen above racism. I know there are still individuals who are struggling with it, but I didn’t think that organizations would still rise up against people of other races, like we’re seeing now. I don’t understand how someone would think that they’re better than someone else simply because of the color of their skin or their heritage.

Racism is based on hatred. Whether a person feels that their hatred is justified or not, it’s a very destructive emotion. It not only hurts others, including society itself, it can lead to violence and other destructive actions. And it goes deeper than that. Strong negative emotions, especially hatred, tear us up inside. They rob us of both health and happiness. As a doctor and someone who works with emotions quite a bit, I’ve seen what these emotions can do to people. So it isn’t just about “being nice”. It’s about your own health and well-being. Even if you feel a certain satisfaction in “justifiably” feeling hatred toward someone, it can still be very destructive.

As my wife always says, “everyone just needs to play nice”. Forgiveness and gratitude can bring you much greater happiness than feelings of hatred. We’re all related in some way. So try to feel more love and empathy toward others, including people of other races or ethnic origins.