One of my greatest teachers was Dr. Abraham Maslow who wrote about highly functioning people—what he called self-actualizers. The number one quality of these people is that they are independent of the opinions of other people, particularly the good opinions of other people. I wrote a lot about approval seeking in my very first book, Your Erroneous Zones, 1976. But I didn’t always follow my own advice in those days. When I’d do an interview or appear on a talk show, I’d read the stories about me the next day. I’d look for reviews of my books and so on. Today, especially in the last four or five years, I feel like I’ve really and truly gotten into a place in my life where it just doesn’t make any difference. The reviews are something that I now have very little concern for.
I gave a speech in Las Vegas recently and I talked about the whole idea of living your life free of concern about outcome. If you can stop worrying about whether people are going to like it or not, what a freeing place to be in your life. You can learn to treat other people’s opinions, whether good or bad, exactly the same way. If someone tells you how wonderful you are, you can treat that exactly the same as if they tell you how awful you are. One of the places I practice this is on Amazon. They have book reviews and almost every day there’s a new review or two. One will have five stars and then another will have half a star and say—“he’s writing books because he’s just there to try and make money.” I know that’s coming from someone who has no idea why I write.
I write because writing is something that I have to do. And it doesn’t matter whether people like it or not. When I write, I feel the pressure Continue Reading
Looking back over my life, I can see the most amazing patterns emerge. Connections and synchronicities are always there—whether we can spot them in the moment or not. This is a Universe where there are no accidents. Here’s one example:
When I was 27 and working as a counselor in a high school in Michigan, I gave a talk to the parents one night about what I hoped to offer their sons and daughters that school year. The next day a student named Nancy came into my office with a book. Her mother had attended my talk the night before and decided to offer me a bonus volume she had received from the Book-of-the-Month Club. Nancy explained that, based on what I had said in my talk, her mom thought I would like this compendium of great thought—a collection of work by famous philosophers, scholars, and poets. Amazingly, that book changed the course of my life.
It happened that I was scheduled to talk to my new doctoral advisor at Wayne State University that night. Continue Reading
Comfort and luxury are usually the chief requirements of life for your ego—its top priorities tend to be accumulations, achievements, and the approval of others. Consider a new alternative for what makes you happy, one that soars beyond the superficial demands of the ego. The only thing that you need for this state of joy is something to be passionate about. Something that speaks only to you…that gets you tingling inside with excitement…that will not go away…that radiates within you…that sends you into a frenzy of good feeling because it makes you feel purposeful and connected to your Source of being. It doesn’t matter what it is. The only requirement is that you feel intensely about it and are willing to act with enthusiasm, awakening the sleeping God within you.
As Abraham Maslow once observed about self-actualizing people: “They must be what they can be.” Take a moment to think about what you can be, and contrast that with what you’ve chosen to be up until now. So what can you be? Perhaps you have an idea you’ve been carrying around with you for decades, such as a book that you know needs to be written, which only you have the wisdom to create. Can you get so passionate about realizing your vision that you activate the presence of God to assist you in co-creating your dreams? Remember, the mere presence of that passion, nothing more, is evidence that the energy of the Divine creating spirit is alive and well in you. That’s all you need—just the willingness to allow your passion to speak up and awaken from its dormant status. You don’t have to know how to activate your long-buried enthusiasm or precisely what to focus on. Continue Reading
I consider Ralph Waldo Emerson one of my greatest teachers even though he passed on well over a century ago. Emerson was the founder of the Transcendental movement in America; his philosophy emphasized the all-pervading spirit of the universe, wherein God existed everywhere. To understand the greatness of Emerson, it is important to remember that during his period of history, spiritual guidance was the exclusive domain of the established religions. Emerson was challenging the dogma and rhetoric of traditional religion. In perhaps his best-known and most frequently quoted essay, “Self-Reliance,” this provocative American author examined the basic tenets of what it means to be your own person. I can still remember the impact that the essays “Self-Reliance” and “On the Necessity of Civil Disobedience”—by Emerson’s contemporary Henry David Thoreau—had on me when I was a seventeen-year-old high school student.
People who truly understand what is meant by self-reliance know they must live their lives by ethics rather than rules. The rules are not reasons to live a certain way. It is the integrity of your own mind that you must first consult if you are ever to experience this quality of self-reliance. This lesson applies to all areas of your life, from making decisions for yourself about how you spend your free time, to how you will dress, to what you will eat, to how you will raise your children. Don’t let the voices within you grow faint and inaudible in favor of that societal conspiracy. Be yourself and run your life by what you know to be right and in harmony with your spiritual essence. That is, by the integrity of your own mind. Continue Reading