"The purpose of life is to become the best version of yourself."
Ever since I finished writing my last book (The Miracle Equation), I’ve been actively learning and evolving in an attempt to figure out one thing: how can I best contribute to humanity? In other words, what do all of us need that I might be able to help people experience?
Through daily meditation and prayer, engaging with your community, and consistently reading and learning, I have become more and more clear. I’m currently deep into the research phase, which means I’m reading and re-reading 6 or 7 books right now, as well as constantly striving to become the person I need to be to live and ultimately deliver that message.
Rather than make you wait until a new book, in today’s episode, I’d like to share with you what I’ve been learning as I’ve experienced it. I want to give you some new distinctions, insights, lessons, strategies, and knowledge that you can use to improve your own life – however they may serve you.
- Why my main goal right now is to achieve inner freedom and to be in a place where no circumstances, and nothing anyone says or does can affect my emotional state – and why it’s okay if I never get there.
- The power of surrender.
- Why it’s impossible not to be selfish as we work to become the best versions of ourselves – and why that’s okay.
- The books I’ve been diving into over the last year – and what I’ve learned from them.
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Hal Elrod: Hello friends, goal achievers, members of the Miracle Morning Community. It's Hal Elrod and today this is a rant. And what do I mean by rant? Maybe rant’s not the right word but this is where I just decided to hit record and not script anything. I don't usually script anything but I usually outline my podcasts like, "Hey, let's talk about these three points today or let's open with this, conclude with this, because I want to give you the most amount of value possible.” So, does that mean today I'm not committed to giving the most amount of value possible? That's not what it means. It just means that I want to just kind of just like reverent conversation. Think of it that way. When you have a conversation with somebody, you don't bullet point it. You don't outline it, right? You just have a conversation. And usually what you say, not all of it is valuable, as I'm sure not everything I say is valuable but, usually, if you're present and if you've got good intentions and a good heart, and you're really engaged in that conversation, typically value almost always emerges.
And so, really the general topic of what I want to talk about today is what I'm focused on right now, and how it might serve you, how it might not directly serve you in this moment. Or how do I say that? Not that what I'm focusing on will serve you but by you taking what I'm focusing on and then considering what you're focusing on right now. None of that made sense but like I said, we're just ranting here. So, I've been reading six books kind of back and forth and reading and rereading them. I'm kind of doing its preliminary research for my next book for the future of the work that I'm doing. I've really been really for the last couple of years ever since The Miracle Equation my last book came out. I've been pondering what is the next book, what's the next message I have for the world and I've been dripping it out a little bit here and there on the podcast. But I want to mention the books that I'm reading right now that are all kind of my research and it's the work that I'm doing in terms of the message I want to share with the world but the way that that always starts, at least for me, is experiencing it myself.
Everything that I've ever written about for the most part is my own experience like the Miracle Morning was this thing that I did in my own life. It changed my life. And then through that experience, I felt like, wow, this helped me and it could help other people. So, I feel a sense of responsibility to share it with as many people as I possibly can. So, in that same vein of going first, if you will, like I'm not going to write about something that I haven't actually experienced myself. I'm really for the last year or two, I've really been doing a lot of inner work, I guess you could say is probably the best way to put it. And so, I'm sharing with you kind of as I'm on that journey, not making you wait a year until a book comes out, a new book, but actually sharing this with you as I'm experiencing it, as I'm working through it so that you can do the same and so that you can apply some of these distinctions and insights and lessons and strategies and knowledge to your life to improve your life, to enhance your life, to uplift yourself, whatever it is that serves you.
Hal Elrod: So, I'm going to tell you, I'll just read off the books that I'm reading or rereading right now. So, two of them I think I've actually read chapters from over the last year or so on the podcast. One of those is The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. That's a very foundational book. For me, the way that I live my life and for the message that I want to share with the world. So, if you've read that, reread it. I highly encourage you to. I'm on like my fourth read now but it's a book really if you master that book, you kind of master yourself, you master true freedom, which for me is that's inner freedom, the ability to choose your mental and emotional and spiritual state independent of conditions, independent of what anyone else thinks, says, does, has expectations of you. Circumstances, events, right? You being completely in control of how you experience the world and how you show up in the world. So, arguably, that's my main goal right now. It has been off and on for 20 years but really, I’m present to it now which is to achieve that inner freedom where nothing anybody could say to you could affect your emotional state.
I would say that's when you're ultimately there like if you've really mastered this work that I've been doing and that I'm sharing with you, then nothing anyone said could rattle you. Now, I don't know if I'll ever get there. That might be a lifelong attempt and aspiration but I'm absolutely committed to that. I'm committed to being there. And then I know for me and my past, like the other part of the inner freedom is that no circumstance can affect your emotional state. And that one I've actually been pretty proficient at. When I had my car accident when I was 20, told I would never walk again, it didn't affect my emotional state. I'm like, “Got it. Can't change it. I'm going to be happy and grateful anyway.” When I got cancer, got it, that sucks. You're telling me there's an 80% chance I'm going to die, whatever. That's not going to affect my emotional state. I will never let my circumstances determine my emotional state and my mental state and my spiritual state. That is unwavering for me. And so, that one I've done okay at but when it comes to like what people say, no, I for sure get affected by that. So, that one, I am a novice, I have not mastered. If somebody says something, I absolutely can get offended or get upset or get embarrassed or get triggered. I'm sure you can relate to that I would imagine unless you've mastered that area.
So, here we go. So, The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer is one of the books that I'm researching for my personal life, and for my future work or my current future work. Michael Singer’s other book, The Surrender Experiment, is another big one. And for me, that's been huge, especially in my meditations. And I encourage you to try this like we rarely surrender. And when I say we, I don't mean to project. You might be like, “Hal, I surrender all the time.” But to surrender means that you essentially stop the need to control life and control outcomes and control people. Most of us have this need to control things and make things the way we want them to be. And I love in The Surrender Experiment, one of my favorite sentiments from that book was the essence of he talked about when he looked back at his life, that all of the wonderful things in his life, the majority of them happened outside of his direct effect like his spouse when he met the woman of his dreams. And I don't know if that's the exact example to use but there's an example you can imagine, right? Like it's not like you were like I'm going to meet this person named this, this human like I know who they are, and I'm looking to meet them.
No. It's like you just met them online or you met him at a book club, or you met him at college. You just ran across that person and then they were the greatest thing that ever happened to your life to the point of surrendering to life itself. And again, that could be a faith in God. To not surrender would be to lack that faith, to go, “I have to make things the way that I want,” would be a lack of faith or could be interpreted as a lack of faith in spirit or higher power. So, The Surrender Experiment, for me, I find that I've always got this tension in my shoulders like I've got to make things the way I want them to be. And if they don't go the way I wanted them to go, then I've got to accept them and be at peace but I really want them to be this certain way. And it's this constant stress and tension that I'm usually not even aware of, by the way, until I meditate in a state of surrender and then I see what it's like to just exhale and let that need for control, just to let that go and just surrender that, "Hey, I'm going to keep doing the best I can. I'm going to keep living in alignment with my values. I'm going to keep putting one foot in front of the other and I'm just going to surrender the outcome and just let happen what's going to happen when it's going to happen.”
And when I do that, I realize, A, how good that feels. Try it right now. I'm like doing it right now. I'm just, oh, I'm just letting my shoulders just relax, and my energy just relax and just surrender, and just allow life to happen and stop feeling this need that I've got to force it and control it. Ah, that feels so good. And then when I do that, when I meditate and surrender, which I've been doing almost every day lately, that I realized, "Wow. I carry a lot of unconscious stress and tension by me trying to make things the way I want them to be and worrying if they're not going to go according to plan.” You know, a great example is my wife and I are looking for a property. We've been for a long time now for probably a year. We've been talking about getting like a country home. We want just like something not too expensive but just something that is on a little bit of land that we can go out with the family and we can camp there and get away from electronics. I'd love to get motorcycles. As a kid, I had motorcycles so there are some little dreams that are woven into this vision. But we have like so much stress around finding the right property and we found some that were like, "Wait, was that the right one? And did we lose it? Oh, no, was that the one that got away?”
And then this morning, we were talking about it and I just go, “Look, let's just surrender. It's going to be what it's going to be.” And my wife said back to me, she's like, "You know what, you're right.” She's like, "The house that we live in now is like our dream. It's perfect for us.” And while we were looking for it, maybe you can relate to this, while we were looking for this house, we found others that we made offers on and that we thought were the one and that we loved and that we were so attached to and we tried to control the outcome. And then when we didn't get the house, there was this sense of loss, and we're sad and we're upset, we're disappointed, all this. And then for what? Life had better plans. God had better plans. And then we found another house. Oh, that was the one. Oh, no, we didn't get that one. Oh, man, first week, the first one and then this one. And then we end up finding by chance, like the way we got this house, actually, I'll tell you the story. I don't if you know the story. It's kind of crazy. We were going to move and we had sold our house where we used to live and we sold our house and we had like a month or three weeks to move out because the buyers needed to move. They were moving from out-of-state.
And so, we were rushed like, okay, we got to find the perfect house and we looked around, found a few houses, and we found one that we kind of liked and the market wasn't that you could take your time back then, this was five years, four years ago. Now in Austin, you can't take your time. Every day, the house goes on the market and it's sold that day with like three offers. But anyway, so we were looking at houses and we found a couple that were like okay, and we were going to pick between one of the two. And I went out of town to this Front Row Dads Retreat. And the day I was going out to town I said, "Sweetheart,” to my wife I said, “Will you schedule one more day to look at houses? I feel like I have this intuition like, these houses that we found, we don't love them and it's going to be a huge investment of not just money but time and energy, years of our life, and we don't love them. Like, I feel like for this big of an investment of time and money and energy, we should love what we're getting. Will you give it one more day? Will you go look like five or six houses and go for one more day? I just have this feeling that we might find something.” And she's like, "Yeah.”
So, I'm at the retreat out-of-state and she's looking at houses and she's texting me out throughout the day, sending me pictures, calling me, and basically house number one doesn't work. House number two doesn't work. House number three doesn't work. Four, doesn't work. And I think she had five or six lined up that day. And she's going to the last house and she's driving there and we're on the phone and I'm on like a lunch break from the Front Row Dads retreat and she goes, “Well, I hope this is it.” And I said, “Well if it's not, whatever. Those other houses are okay like it'll be fine.” I go, "But I just have a good feeling about this and let's put our energy into it. Get a little metaphysical.” And she's on the phone and she goes, “Oh my gosh, we're turning into Tim and Melissa's neighborhood.” And Tim and Melissa are friends of ours that have kids that are the same age as ours. I go, “No way. This is in Tim and Melissa's neighborhood?” She goes, "Yeah.” I go, "Oh my gosh, this has got to be it. This is meant to be.” And she's like, "Yeah.” And she's driving and she goes, “Oh my gosh, it's on their street.” I go, “No way.”
I mean, talk about a miracle like of all the millions of houses in Austin, the last one that our realtor found for us, we didn't even know where it was, is next door to our friends. And I go, "Oh my God.” I was so excited. I just felt this flood of like intuitive certainty like, yes, this is meant to be. This is it. The odds of this are like one in a million, literally one in a million. I don't know how many houses are in Austin but probably millions or a million, I don’t know, it’s a lot, a million, 500,000. I don't know. It's a lot. And so, she's like, “I’ll call you back.” And so, she goes, she looks at a house, she calls me and she's like, “Nope, it's not going to work.” I go, “No. What? Why?” She said, "It's missing a bedroom. We need another bedroom for your office. It doesn't have enough bedrooms.” I go, “No, this can't be like it felt so right.” I said, “Are you sure? Could we add it onto the back? Could we build it like is there something we can do?” She's like, "No, and there was another thing. It won't work.” I go, “I can't believe it. I felt so certain that felt so meant to be.” She said, “Yeah, me too. I'm going to go see if Melissa's home and I'll catch you later.”
And so, she goes next door to our friend Melissa's house, knocks on the door. Melissa goes, “Whoa, it's so weird you caught me. I'm normally never here at this time.” And my wife says, Ursula says, “Oh, we were next door looking in the house but it doesn't work. You know, we were so excited. We thought we were going to be neighbors but it doesn't work for us. The house doesn't work.” And Melissa says, “I happen to know that the house on the other side of us is going on the market tomorrow. I know the woman who owns it, and the house is amazing. It's your dream house.” She said, "Let's go over and see if she's there.” So, Melissa walks Ursula over next door and they knock on the door, and the woman is there with her realtor and they're at the kitchen table with like hundreds of brochures about to like go on this full-on push to sell their house. And so, Melissa asked if my wife could go look. They toured the house with the realtor. My wife calls me and says, "Sweetheart, this is everything that we want and more. It's going on the market tomorrow. I love it. It's perfect.” And sight unseen, I never even saw the house. I said like I think I might ask a couple of questions. I said, "But you're sure? You're not just emotional like logistically it makes sense? Bedrooms, square footage, everything that we need? And she said, “Yeah. It is perfect.” I said, "Make a full-price offer.”
And so, that's the house that I'm sitting in right now. I'm sitting in the office that we needed, right? We're living in that house but like if that's not an example of surrendering, and how could we have planned for that? How could we have? We couldn't. You could never have planned for that. It was all you can call it coincidence. You can call it serendipity. I don't know about you but if I look back throughout my life, most of the great things that have happened in my life have happened by chance. I got a career. I got a job on the radio when I was 15. My dream was to be a radio DJ. Out of nowhere, I get a phone call from the owner of the local radio station who heard about me from somebody else, right? I didn't go apply for it. I didn't pursue it. I just had this dream of being on the radio and life had some sort of plan for me. And then I got a call and I ended up getting a job. I was with a friend who happened to stop by his work when I was with him at the Cutco office and I ended up meeting the manager, getting hired, and that was a six-year career that changed the course of my life. I didn't plan for it. I didn't look in the newspaper. It just was there.
Of course, I think it's important that when opportunities do present themselves, you have to take advantage. I think that's an extraordinarily crucial distinction around this way of living with surrender, which I didn't plan on going this deep into the topic of surrender but, again, this is a rant. I don't have any notes here. But again, the point being that, yes, when you surrender, it means that you take away the stress and the anxiety and the fear of needing to control everything. And you just like water moving through a rocky creek bed, you just move around the obstacles. You find the opportunities. Again, the distinction is you have to be proactive when the opportunities present themselves. When I got presented the opportunity to be on the radio, I went down, I interviewed, or I was proactive. I got the gig. I then put fliers all over town, promoting my radio show every week. I was really proactive. When my wife got to look at this house that we live in, I was proactive. I said, "Hey, let's not dilly-dally. Let's not sleep on it.” You could argue, "Hey, you should sleep on it.” I said, "Make a full-price offer right now. Before this thing goes on the market, if you really feel like this is our dream home, let's get it.” And that's exactly what we did.
And then what’s the other example I use? I forgot. But the point is so surrendering and being at peace with outcomes before they even happen, allowing life to just flow, and then being proactive when opportunities present themselves. So, The Surrender Experiment is another book that's a big part of my work right now, my inner work that I'm doing on myself, for the benefit of me, my family, and humanity. That's something that, for me, I view everything that I do and I invite you to consider that like I was writing, I was writing yesterday, and I was writing about, I was actually writing the about me section of my website, which is really challenging for me. In fact, I probably spent this is crazy but a little peek into how much time I spent on writing and stuff. I probably spent six or seven hours this week working on the About Me page, which is normally what like a paragraph or two, and I've spent six or seven hours crafting it and rewording it and I have an insecurity of I don't like to write about myself, even though I do it. Like I'm always going, “Oh, are people judging me? Do I come across as narcissistic or arrogant? Am I telling too many of my own story?” It's my own issue. I got it. I'll stop burdening you with my own insecurity that I need to work on.
But the point is I was writing, I was trying to identify like put into words my purpose and how I view that and it was consistently evolving toward my highest potential in service of humanity. So, the point is, I'm sharing that, again, not making it about me but encouraging you to consider that what if we all live that way? What if we all live that way where we are all committed? I'm not trying to project my values or my purpose onto you. I'm just inviting you to consider. And if it doesn't make sense for you, throw it away. Leave it alone. Leave it alone but it's like a buffet, you go to the buffet, you look around, I want to add that, I'm going to leave that. So, take this idea or leave it whatever you want. But the point is, what if we all live that way where we lived, whether it was our primary purpose, or one of our purposes, or just an intention. But what if we all lived where we all were committed to fulfilling our potential in every way, mentally, physically, emotionally, financially, relationally, internally, and spiritually in every way, if we were all working? And I know many of you are. So, some of you, I'm preaching to the choir but if we were all working to fulfill our potential to be the best that we could possibly be, and not to be the best as in better than anyone else but as Matthew Kelly taught, which I've repeated thousands of times, in his book, The Rhythm of Life, he calls the purpose of life is to become the best version of yourself.
And I love that. That's a fundamental driver. So, I think that this is what I just said is another way of saying that, becoming the best version of yourself, but the caveat is in service of humanity. So, that we're not just doing it selfishly so that, "Haha, I'm going to be the best version of me so I can be the most successful person that I know and make the most money and be better than everyone else.” That could be one reason you want to be the best version of yourself is just for purely selfish reasons. And I don't think you can ever remove selfish reasons. I think everything we do benefits us even if you do something selflessly to help somebody, you feel good. It fulfills you so it benefits you even if it's about them or being selfless. But the point is, if we're doing it in service of humanity, we're like I'm going to become the best I can be and then I'm going to reach out, and I'm going to help you, and I'm going to help you, and I'm going to help that person, I'm going to inspire that person, I'm going to inspire every person that I possibly can, I'm going to encourage, I'm going to inspire, I'm going to help, I'm going to support every person I possibly can to become the best version of themselves. So, forgot where I was going with that. But anyway, but there you go. So, that's my invitation is to consider that working to fulfill your potential not only for you but in service to others.
By the way, you might not want to change the world or make a difference for humanity like just do it for you and your family or your friends or your circle of influence. Just I always say, to do it for those you love and those you lead that one of the greatest gifts that we can give to others, to those that we love and those that we lead, is to fulfill our potential because in doing so, we now have more capability to help them help others fulfill their potential. And then the ripple effect of that, one, I help you, you help someone else, they help someone else, all of a sudden, the world is a better place. All right. So, those first two books I spent a lot of time on. Actually, the first one I didn’t, The Untethered Soul. But the biggest concept I got from that was inner freedom, by the way, which is kind of what this is all about but that came from The Untethered Soul, the idea of inner freedom. I believe that it was Michael Singer in Untethered Soul, I believe he is the one that where I got the language to be happy independent of conditions. In fact, that's the chapter I read a while back on the podcast. It's called the vow of happiness and it's the commitment that I'm committed to being happy no matter what, whether I get fired from my job or I get cancer, or I put on a few pounds or whatever. It's the vow of happiness, not I'm only happy if X, Y, and Z works out the way that I want it to. But no, I'm happy, no matter what.
The other two books I am reading and just recently discovered, it's Searching for and Maintaining Peace and Interior Freedom. Both of those books are by Father Jacques Philippe. I was on vacation with my mother-in-law and my family a couple of weeks ago in Colorado, and my mother-in-law hands me this book. It's a little book, Searching for and Maintaining Peace, and she said, “Oh, I thought you might like this,” and I was blown away. I underlined probably more than almost half of it. I mean, it's such a good book and then that got me to order Jacques Philippe's other book, Interior Freedom, which I just started. Those are essentially about, again, same thing. All of these books are overlapping, which are really reinforcing and expanding my understanding of this concept of what I would call true freedom. True Freedom is where you, it's inner freedom, that ability to choose how you experience life in every moment, regardless of conditions, events, circumstances, other people, what they say, what they do, or don't do that no one and nothing except for you is responsible for how you experience life, how you feel, what you think, your quality of life. It's not dependent on anything outside of you. It is dependent on everything inside of you.
And most of us don't live that way and most of us don't think that way, and there are multiple reasons for that. A lot of that is conditioning. If our mom or dad got angry when things went wrong, for our first 18 years of our life, well, guess what, there's a good chance we're going to get angry. What's interesting is it's actually your parent in a way living through you that conditioning from that experience, it's not even your thoughts. It's your dad's thoughts or your mom's thoughts and the way that they react and then now you've become a little piece of them is now a part of you. So, in order for us to be truly free, it's free from all of our past programming and it's a process, which is what I'm really working on. That's why I'm like I'm not taking this lightly. This is years of research in this book that I'm going to write. The next book I'm going to write, I want it to be similar to the Miracle Morning where it takes what are monumental, if you will, spiritual concepts and practical concepts but it really makes them really simple, and digestible, and actionable. Because undoing decades of programming isn't something that you can do by snapping your fingers. It's not something you can do by listening to a podcast episode. It's something you have to do by reconditioning. And the Miracle Morning I know it has done a lot of that for a lot of people, a lot of you listening. It's an opportunity every day to do the SAVERS and to recondition your beliefs and your mindset through silence and affirmations and visualization and all of these practices. And this is kind of, I guess, I don't know, the next level if you will. I’ll try to explain it. I'm still working through that.
Another book I've read, I'm still reading, I think I'm halfway through it is called The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible by Charles Eisenstein, and I'd like to have Charles, I'll probably have him on the podcast at some point. But again, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible. And that's a little more on the outer, not as much the inner world, but the outer world and I think that for us to have the ultimate freedom, it really is both. If you have inner freedom but your actions put you in difficult positions, if you create difficult conditions for yourself, while true inner freedom you can be at peace and happy and grateful regardless of those conditions, it's a lot easier and it's a lot more enjoyable to practice inner freedom when you also have outer freedom. Outer freedom being where you've created conditions where you get to live life the way that you want to. You get to live life on your terms. Like that's the ultimate freedom. So, true freedom to me is the inner freedom but the ultimate freedom is both, right? Well, it's not about having one without the other. It's not about renouncing all your possessions and living in poverty unless it's what you want. To me, it's living life on your terms. That's the ultimate freedom.
And so, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible is a little bit more about how to really what's possible in our world in terms of how we want to affect change in our world. Another book that's in alignment with kind of the bridge between the outer world and the inner world is called, I just finished this the other day, it's called Who Do We Choose To Be?: Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership, Restoring Sanity by Margaret J. Wheatley. Again, Who Do We Choose To Be? And Jon Berghoff, my good buddy, recommended this book to me. It's essentially saying that, "Look, the world's crazy. There's a lot of chaos in the world. And you may or may not be able to change that. In fact, likely, you can't change it.” It's a very sobering opening to the book where she's like, “Look, I've been an activist most of my life. And as an activist, we live on hope. We're going to change things. We're going to change the pollution in the ocean. We're going to do this. We're going to do that.” And she said, "And as years go by, and not only do the things that I was committed to improving or changing, not only did they not get better, things like pollution, things like poverty, things like disease,” and, by the way, this might be a sobering kind of a reality check for you, too. I know it was for me but it actually felt really good once I made peace with it.
But she said, "Not only did those things that all of us activists had been working on with hope and optimism, not only did they not get better but they got worse. More people got cancer, more pollution occurred. More plastic was dumped into the ocean. Despite our efforts, things got worse.” So, she said, "The question, it's not just about the outcomes because there's a lot of outcomes that you or I can't control.” It's a sobering reality check. She said, "It's about,” and it's the title of her book, "Who do we choose to be? Who do we choose to be in the midst of chaos? Who do we choose to be in the midst of some declining aspects of our life, of our planet? Who do we choose to be in the midst of adversity, in the midst of insanity?” And she actually, I love the term she used. She talks about being an island of sanity, in a sea of chaos. Who do we choose to be? In the midst of chaos, do we join the chaos? Do we exacerbate the chaos? Or do we choose to be an island of sanity in a sea of chaos? In your family, it's a great place to start. In fact, starting with yourself and then starting with the people that are closest to you, that's the only place to start. Are you an island of sanity when there is a sea of chaos at home? When your spouse is angry and upset, do you exacerbate their anger and their upsetness? Or do you present yourself as a source of calm, as an island of sanity in a sea of chaos?
It begins with yourself. Your life might feel like a sea of chaos right now but are you meditating every day from a place of surrender, from a place of acceptance, accepting your life exactly as it is in this moment, not resigning yourself to your life as it is because you can accept it as it is while staying committed, and inspired, and taking action, to make it the way you want it to be. So, that being an island in a sea of chaos starts with you every day that daily meditation and when you can get a hold of you, when you can handle the challenge that is you and your inner chaos, only then can you expand that island of sanity to others. And now you can be that in the chaos of your relationships, in the chaos of your workplace, or your industry, in the chaos of your community and the chaos of your world. So, that book, Who Do We Choose To Be? by Margaret Wheatley is a huge part of the work I've been doing. And the most recent book, the other book that I'm reading but I'm reading it really slowly like I read a few pages, and then I put it down for like a few weeks, and then I need it. Yeah. But it's called Transcending the Levels of Consciousness: The Stairway to Enlightenment by David Hawkins.
This will be the next book that I dive into fully. It's the last book I think. And I should never say famous last words, the last book, but in terms of the work that I'm doing, the research that I'm doing for my next book into the future, that's going to be an important one. It's just a really like, kind of, it's not my style of book. It's really kind of heavy, data-driven, kind of just really thick, I guess it’s a way of describing it. How many pages is it? David Hawkins all his books are long. It's 400 pages. It's not too long. But anyway, last but not least, oh no, I think I missed one. Loving What Is by Byron Katie. I don’t have that sitting in front of me right now so I almost forgot it but Loving What Is another book. I've taught for 20 years the power of acceptance. I'm sure you've heard me talk about this before. I wrote about it in my recent book, The Miracle Equation. The chapter is called Becoming Emotionally Invincible and I'll cover it here in one minute. It's just the idea or the concept that every painful emotion that we have ever felt that we are feeling now or that we could feel in the future, all of our emotional suffering is self-created. It is self-created by our resistance to our reality.
To the degree that we resist reality, we wish something were different, “Oh, I didn't want it to be that way. No, it's not supposed to happen that way. No, I didn't want. Wait, why is there traffic? I need to get to my…” Our resistance to reality creates our emotional pain. And the opposite of resistance is acceptance. So, accepting life exactly as it is. And again, it doesn't mean you're resigning yourself to life as it is that you're not going to change it. You're not going, well, it's not throwing your hands up. No, it's very different. Throwing your hands up is resignation. Putting your hands in prayer position at your heart, taking a deep breath and saying, "Life is in this moment exactly as it is, and I'm at peace with that. I accept that. And now that I'm at peace, I'm going to go do something to change it.” You see the difference? Very subtle, yet profound difference. Accepting something and resigning yourself to the way, it's different. Being at peace is that place that gives you emotional neutrality and then you're not acting out, you're not reacting, you're not, “Oh, I'm so angry. I'm so upset. I got to do something.” That's one way to get something done but you're not thinking clearly.
As soon as you’re emotional, your intellect is trumped by your emotion but when you accept life exactly as it is in the moment and you choose consciously and intentionally to be at peace with your life exactly as it is, now you're emotionally neutral. And now you can think clearly, not reactively, not emotionally, not aggressive, right? You can think clearly. What's the situation? How might I want it to be? And what is the most effective course of action for me to create change, to affect change, to cause change? What that place of peace, which is accessed through acceptance. So, the reason I share that is to remind you of that lesson is Byron Katie's book, Loving What Is, goes a step further. So, instead of just accepting your life in the moment exactly as it is, which includes accepting people as they are and stop resisting who they are, and wishing they were different but thereby creating emotional pain, and emotional anguish within the relationship because they're not the way you want them to be, you're resisting the reality of who they are. So, Byron Katie goes further. Instead of just accepting it, that's like 1.0. She talks about loving it, actually loving what is, loving the pain. And I can tell you that when I was in the hospital with cancer, I went further, I went beyond acceptance, and I was actually loving the pain that I was in.
And I'll tell you, pain is painful. You don't need to write that one down. That's a given. Pain is painful. Here's the point. Pain is painful. But resisting the pain only makes it more painful. To the degree that you resist your reality is the degree you create emotional pain. So, emotional pain is created after physical pain, if you resist the physical pain. Stick with me here. So, meaning, pain is painful. I hurt. Now if you go, “I hate this. Why do I have to hurt like this? It's so bad. I don't like it. I don't want it. I want it to end.” Look at how much worse that pain became because it went from just being physical pain to emotional pain, like detrimental emotional pain. Now, imagine accepting the pain. That's 1.0. Let's start there. “God, this hurts so bad but I can't change it. So, I'm just going to breathe through it. I'm going to read through it. I'm not going to wish it were different because it's not. It's reality. In this moment, I am experiencing pain, physical pain. I can resist that and create emotional pain on top of the physical but I don’t think that serves me. I think that just makes it worse. Or I could take a deep breath and just say can't change it. I'm in pain. This sucks. Man, this sucks. But I'm going to accept it and be at peace with it.”
And then going one step further with Byron Katie's work, which is, "You know what, I'm loving this pain. It's not easy to do. Not easy to do. But I'm loving this pain because it does make me stronger. I'm going to get through this. And once I get through this, I will now have endured a new level of pain that I haven't endured before and I will be that much stronger physically, mentally, and emotionally, spiritually, if I can get through this pain. So, I'm going to love this pain. I'm grateful for this pain, grateful for the lesson. It teaches me for who I become. And if you might be sitting there going, "You're crazy, Hal. This sounds crazy.” Maybe, maybe, maybe. But I've been there and done that and I'll tell you, it's a lot easier to accept the pain you're feeling and be at peace with it than it is to resist it and get upset about it. It's a lot easier to love the pain as weird as that might seem. How about we start with stuff with your like, okay, accepting the pain and being at peace with it, I get that. I can buy into that, right, but like loving it? I don't know. You might need to read Byron Katie's work because I haven't read her book for a couple of months and I can't regurgitate it very well but it's a phenomenal book.
And it's a big part of the work that I'm doing now on myself, and then I'm going to be sharing with you and with the world. And I think I did read a chapter of Byron Katie's book as well a few months back. I do not remember. I definitely did with Michael Singer's book. I read the vow of happiness a while back but I don't remember about Byron Katie. And the latest book I'm reading and it's like this is the icing on the cake. I'm like, "Oh, literally, I'm reading this book and I'm at 50 pages in. It's called Awareness by Anthony De Mello. I don’t know if I'm saying that right, Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality. And this book, I'm just like I can't even tell you I'm reading it going, “Oh, my God. This is so good. This is so good,” and recency bias but I felt like this is like the icing on the cake for the work that I've been doing. And, yeah, I'm going to read you a couple of passages from the book, and I didn't even mark which ones I was going to read so now I'm going to have to search for these. Well, I'll just read you this one.
“Let me tell you something. If you ever let yourself feel good when people tell you that you're okay, you are preparing yourself to feel bad when they tell you you're not good. As long as you live to fulfill other people's expectations, you better watch what you wear, how you comb your hair, whether your shoes are polished, in short, whether you live up to every damned expectation of theirs.”
So, again, this is about inner freedom, right? Does your freedom, the freedom to experience life as you would optimally choose? Meaning, I’m going to venture to say that you prefer to be happy as opposed to unhappy, that you prefer to feel good as opposed to bad. These are just my assumptions about you, about you most humans, right? We want to be happy, we want to feel good. But what are your rules around feeling good? Can someone say something to you, and you feel good, and then someone say something and you feel bad? They push one button, you feel good, they push one button, you feel bad? One you’re up, one you're down? You're not in control. You don't have freedom. That's not freedom. That's my inner world, my happiness is dependent on other people. That's not freedom. Or, A, if things go well in my life, if things go according to plan, I feel good. If things don't go according to plan, I feel bad.
And now, granted, you could argue, "Well, yep, that's part of being human.” Yes. But consider that might be part of being a certain level of consciousness. You follow? Meaning, if you have no knowledge of anything, let's go extreme here, if you've never read a book and you've never learned anything about being happier, managing your emotional state, or whatever, and you grew up in a dysfunctional household, then you're going to be, well, in the book, Awareness, it's what he calls asleep. He talks about how the majority of human beings are absolutely they go through life asleep. And they're not even aware that they are indeed asleep. In fact, I'm scrolling here to see. And he says spirituality means waking up. So, anyway, I don't want to find the part but he talks about being how we're asleep. So, a certain level of consciousness is that of reactivity. And I guess right now my inner work is exploring how can I be totally in control of my inner world, and my mental, emotional, and spiritual state, regardless of the conditions of my life, regardless of other people, it's a big one. That's the one I get to work on, other people's expectations, other people's judgment. I don’t know about you but like I deal with that a lot.
I'm a big baby. I'm overly sensitive. I care what you think about me. I used to think that I didn't but it's important to me that people that I'm authentic, and that people see me for the real me. And I would imagine that's true for you, too. That's part of being human, I guess, right? But really I'm trying to transcend that. And it's not that I won't care what others think. I think that I would always, out of respect for other people, I will care what they think. But I don't want my inner world to be affected, determined, dependent on what other people think. So, if someone says, “Hal, I hate you. You're the worst person ever.” I want to be like, consciously, I've done enough work to know that that has nothing to do with me. That's about them. I did Landmark Forum when I was like early 20s and that's one of the biggest takeaways I got is take nothing personally. If someone says you're ugly, it doesn't mean you're ugly. It just means that they said you're ugly. It doesn't mean you are. They say you're stupid. It doesn't mean you are. If they don't like you, doesn't necessarily mean that you're unlikeable. It just means that they don't like you. If they smile at you, doesn't mean anything. It just means that they're in a good mood. You know what I mean?
We are so affected by not only the circumstances and conditions of our life but by other people, and how they treat us and how they view us and their expectations of us. And my ultimate goal in life, I don't know if my ultimate goal because there's levels to that. I have ultimate goals around how I can impact other people's lives. But one of my major focuses and I guess that off and on for the last 20 years but really diving really back into it for in service of humanity. This is my inner work right now for me is it's figuring out how I can share this effectively with you. I guess today talking through this, hopefully, this is valuable for you but this helps me to gain clarity on how I want to articulate this to you and what messages are important and how to share them with you in a way that hopefully serves you and hopefully is simple enough for you to walk away with some new insights and some new distinctions and some new ways of thinking and ways of being and ways of showing up for others, and ultimately, how you experience life. Because if you choose how you experience life, if you choose to choose, then you get to choose. That makes sense, right?
If you decide, "Hey, I'm in control of this, I get to choose how I experience every moment of my life, and I want to feel good.” So, I'm going to create paradigms, and strategies, and structures and boundaries and rules, and just ways of being and ways of interpreting others. And this is about acceptance, and it's about being at peace, and it's about choosing gratitude, and it's about choosing to not take things personally, right? There's a whole plethora of different components here and that's where I'm working to clarify these so that I can come to you and go, “Alright, step one, step two, step three, step four, step five.” And I'd love your feedback. Leave that in the comments below, if you would, if you are listening to this or even if you're not, you want to go over to HalElrod.com/368 and leave a comment. I'd really appreciate to know how did this land for you. Like, what resonated with you? Was there a quote, a sentence that I said, or a concept that I shared, or something that you're going to do like what really resonated with you? And if you would be willing to share that with me, I'd really appreciate it because, again, the work that I'm doing, I'd love to know of what I shared what landed for you so that I can incorporate that into the work that I'm doing into the writing so that I can help as many people as I possibly can with this message, and I hope that you will too. So, if this did land for you share it with others. You know, they can listen wherever podcasts are, of course, or go directly to the website, HalElrod.com/368 and that's where you can go to. Please leave your comment.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. Goal achievers, members of the Miracle Morning Community, fellow human beings like I just think we're all family. We're all brothers and sisters, and I am so grateful for you and allowing me to be a part of your life and I hope this was helpful for you. And I love you so much and I'll talk to you soon.