I spent the first forty years of my life in a constant state of turmoil. There was always someone or something that had hurt, offended, or mistreated me in some way. Many of the circumstances I faced were real and harmful, including the time a business associate stole $38,000, and the time a trusted employee took the American Express card out of my wallet and charged thousands of dollars in clothing and office furnishings for the new office she was setting up to compete with me.
I’ve been cheated on, lied to, and attacked personally and physically. With what I’m about to say, I do not mean to imply that if you’ll just “be nice” you will avoid all pain, because that’s simply untrue.
However, when it comes to our personal relationships, we can eliminate a lot of the strife that we live with and the pain that accompanies it if we will behave in a loving way toward everyone, including jackasses who intentionally try to harm us and knuckleheads who don’t mean to hurt us, but do.
I learned that I had a lot of chaos in my life because I expected it and I contributed to it. When I learned that I could deliberately choose to have peace and maintain it in my life, and began to act accordingly, peace is exactly what resulted.
Specifically, I began to practice the following principles. My life isn’t perfect, but it’s infinitely better than it used to be. Try using these principles yourself, and you may be amazed at the changes you see in your life.
1. BE PATIENT. This is easy to do when times are good; but when times are difficult, patience becomes a choice. Decide now to be patient with people in your life when they act like knuckleheads.
2. BE KIND. Think of how kind you are to someone for whom you feel sympathy. Be kinder than that to other people in your life—especially those who do not deserve your kindness. With this simple rule, you can literally change your world.
3. DON’T BE ARROGANT, BOASTFUL, OR RUDE.
4. DON’T BE JEALOUS OR ENVIOUS OF OTHERS OR THEIR POSSESSIONS. Be happy for the success of others and trust that good things are in your future. Having a good life is not a zero sum proposition. We can all improve our happiness by not comparing and concerning ourselves with what others have.
5. DON’T DEMAND THAT YOU GET YOUR WAY. Be willing to do what others want to do, to watch television programs that others want to watch, or to take a route that you think is “the long way” when someone else is driving. Choose your battles and understand that most things aren’t worth arguing about.
6. DON’T BE DIFFICULT TO LIVE WITH. You may have every reason in the world to be irritable; but just because you’re in physical, emotional, or financial pain, doesn’t mean that you have to suffer. Suffering, as well as making others around you suffer, is a choice. Don’t do it.
7. IGNORE PERCEIVED INSULTS. When you hear a comment that appears hurtful to you, either use your ability to “selectively hear” (tune out) or assume that the other person didn’t intend to harm you. Look beyond what is said or done to find out what’s going on with the other person. Bad behavior or negative words are indicative of some underlying fear or hurt.
8. BE QUICK TO FORGIVE. Forgiveness by definition is giving mercy to someone who doesn’t deserve it. Forgive even when you think you’re right because this demonstrates in a meaningful way that you value the other person more than you value being right.
9. BELIEVE THE BEST; GIVE THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT. If someone says something unkind about someone you care about, defend him or her. And never allow the negative words or opinions of someone else to influence the way you feel about the people you care about.
10. BE LONG-SUFFERING. What does this mean? It sounds awful, but it’s an important part of keeping peace in your life! It means putting up with the people in your life when those people aren’t behaving well.
Love isn’t only a feeling that you have for others. It is that, but it is so much more. Love is measured by your actions toward others in your everyday life. Being kind, patient, merciful, and long-suffering never fails to create an atmosphere of peace. Start today to do your part to create peace around you and watch your life change for the better.