“When we focus on things that are out of our control, we feel out of control.”
For today’s podcast, I’m inviting you to choose to be either Person A or Person B, addressing the implications of the choice you make, and sharing insights on how to effectively choose.
There are huge differences between these two people, and choosing to be one over the other can determine our quality of life. For me, I’ve found that the conscious choice makes all the difference in my quality of life, my mental and emotional well-being, my degree of success and almost every other aspect of my being.
In this episode, I want to give you an eye-opening look into how you are choosing to show up and who you’re choosing to be, no matter what’s going on in the world or in your life.
- How we as human beings can choose how we feel about every moment of our lives.
- Why no one consciously chooses unhappiness, and what really makes us unhappy.
- Wisdom from Margaret Wheatley’s book, Who Do We Choose To Be?
- How to answer a question as loaded as “What should we focus on?”
- Why people can survive tragedy without being resigned to letting it define them.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
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Hal Elrod: Hello and welcome to the Achieve Your Goals Podcast. This is your host, Hal Elrod, and thank you so much for being here today. I really, really appreciate you. We are going to talk about you today. We're going to talk about who are you choosing to be. And we're going to differentiate that between Person A or Person B. That Person A is typically unconsciously choosing who they're being. They're being reactive. And Person B is consciously choosing who they're being and they're being proactive. And what are the differences between the two and how can you choose which one serves you the most? And for me, I've found that making that conscious choice makes all the difference in my quality of life, my mental and emotional well-being, my relationships, you name it. And again, most people are not making that choice consciously. They're just reacting. And so, you do not have to be most people, of course. And today, I hope this is really eye-opening for you. And probably more than anything, it's going to give you a new way of looking at how you're choosing to show up and who you're choosing to be in the midst of whatever is going on in the world, whatever is going on in your life.
Before we dive into the podcast today, I want to take just a couple of minutes to thank my sponsors, two companies owned by two of my good friends, Drew Canole and Chandler Bolt. The first is Organifi. You know, most of us can use more energy in our day. I know for me, energy is motivation. Energy is my emotional state like it's all impacted by my energy level but caffeine can only do so much. At some point, we need to look at the root causes of our fatigue. And it turns out two main factors in low energy are chronic stress and lack of nutrition and Organifi creates delicious superfood blends that you just tear the top off and you put the powder in your drink, they address both of these problems. So, they use adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms to help balance cortisol levels associated with stress so they make it easier to add more nutrients into your day and you take adaptogenic herbs that allow you to adapt to what's going on in your life. So, what we're talking about today in the podcast is kind of the mental, the psychological, the emotional, and the spiritual component. This is how do you give yourself a little bit of an advantage in the physical component and Organifi can help you do that. Head over to Organifi.com/Hal and then use “Hal” at checkout if you decide to order and try Organifi products. And I personally have used their products for, I don't know, five, six, seven years, quite a long time. I'm a big fan. I used it this morning in my smoothie, I use it last night before bed, so on and so forth. So, check out Organifi.com/Hal and then put the code in “HAL” at checkout and you'll get 15% off of your entire order.
And last but not least, I want to thank Self-Publishing School and my good friend, Chandler Bolt, who now lives in Austin, which I'm pumped about. We can actually hang out in person. He moved here from San Diego. But if you want to write a book or you've ever even thought about writing a book, I highly recommend looking into Self-Publishing School. And they offer free training and free resources to get you started and then you can decide if you want to go further and sign up for their program or whatever but start with the free stuff. Head over to Self-PublishingSchool.com/Hal and Chandler and his team will help you to go from blank page to published author in as little as 90 days and turn your dream of writing a book into a reality.
And so, with that said, let's dive into the episode. Without further ado, today I'm asking you the question, who are you choosing to be? And then I'm going to share with you what Person A and Person B, the two different ways that they interpret and respond to the world around them and how that impacts their life and how you get to make the choice as to how you are going to show up and who you are going to be in your life. I hope you enjoy this episode. I love you so much. Thanks for tuning in. And here we go.
Hal Elrod: Hello, my friends and family and goal achievers and members of the Miracle Morning Community. It's Hal Elrod. Thank you for tuning in today. My plan for today was to talk about who are you choosing to be, Person A or Person B? And I think that we'll still find our way there. But as I was prepping for the podcast today and being that it was going to be centered around this concept of who are you choosing to be, Person A or Person B, it reminded me of the book. Who Do We Choose To Be? by Margaret Wheatley. I thought I'm going to pull that out and just kind of skim it and see if there's anything I might want to incorporate from that book. And as I started to skim it and read my previously underlined passages from the book, it kind of shifted my thinking and shifted my direction for the podcast today. And I was so moved by what I read, which I read the book multiple times, and it's probably about six months since I read it most recently. But as I was rereading it, I was just reminded of how powerful the message is. And so, I'm actually going to read a passage from the book, and then we're going to use that as a jumping-off point for our conversation today.
Now, before we dive into that, the podcast episode last week, in case you missed it, was about how to experience both types of freedom. And both being the two types of freedom that I defined or shared in the episode were outer freedom and inner freedom. Outer freedom is your ability to get yourself to do what you need to do in order to create the result, outcomes, and circumstances that you want in your life. That freedom allows you to create the life that you want, that outer freedom. Inner freedom is your ability to choose how you feel in any given moment to consciously decide, “I want to be happy or I want to be confident or I want to be calm or I want to be excited or I want to be…” whatever you want to be, the ability to choose your inner experience. That's how I define inner freedom. By the way, if you missed that episode, I do encourage you. It got a lot of great feedback. It's Episode 393 so you can go back to HalElrod.com/393. In that episode, it just kind of came up for me this concept of Person A and Person B. And I've shared this example before where when I'm talking about you decide how you feel about every moment of your life, essentially. You have that ability.
And, to me, the easiest way to grasp that concept that you're in control of your feelings, you're not always in control of your circumstances or what happens to you. If somebody rear-ends you or somebody cuts you off in traffic or somebody is mean to you or whatever, you're not in control of that. You're in control of how you interpret that, the meaning that you give to it, and how you respond to it. And so, the example that I often give that I gave in last week's podcast episode is just imagine if the same tragedy befalls two different people, Person A and Person B. Person A says, “I'm devastated. It's the worst thing ever. I'm a victim. I didn't deserve this. My life is ruined. And I'm unhappy because of this thing outside of me, because of this event or this other person or this circumstance.” That's Person A's mindset. “It's their fault. I'm suffering because of something outside of myself.” Person B experienced the same tragedy, same trauma, whatever it was, yet they have a different interpretation, a different response. They give it a different meaning. It's, "Oh yeah. This is actually the worst thing that ever happened to me. It's the most difficult time I've ever endured in my life. However, I know that I'm strong enough to overcome this. I know that I'm going to learn so many valuable lessons from this adversity as I traverse my way through it and I overcome it and I know that there's a better version of myself on the other side of the adversity. So instead of being distraught and devastated over this horrible event that happened in my life, I'm actually grateful for everything I have, grateful that I'm alive, grateful that I get to learn from this. And I'm choosing to be happy in the midst of my circumstances, in the midst of my challenges and adversity.”
So same tragedy, same trauma, same event. Person A and Person B have completely different experiences of those events as a result of what they choose, and usually, it's unconscious. Person A is probably not consciously choosing, “I want to be unhappy and I want to be distraught and I want to feel disempowered.” They're probably not consciously thinking that at all. They're thinking things like, “I don't deserve this. I'm a good person. I can't handle this,” on and on and on, and their thoughts are creating their reality, whereas Person B is choosing thoughts that create a different reality. So, same outer reality if you will, same circumstances, different inner reality. So, I shared that last week on the podcast, and that was what I thought. You know what, I want to go deeper into that. I want to go deeper into that and that was the focus for today's podcast. And as I mentioned, as I started just skimming, just literally like five, ten minutes ago, I pulled out this book, Who Do We Choose to Be? by Margaret Wheatley, which is such a fantastic book, the subtitle: Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership, Restoring Sanity. And reading it, I feel compelled to read this to you. So, I'm just going to read the intro and the opening, and then we'll go from there. We’ll spring from that into more conversation about who are you choosing to be right now at this time in your life, at this time in history, at this time for yourself, at this time, for those that you love, those that you lead.
So, from Margaret Wheatley, it starts out:
What This World Needs
This world does not need more entrepreneurs.
This world does not need more technology breakthroughs.
This world needs leaders.
We need leaders who put service over self, who can be
steadfast through crises and failures, who want to stay
present and make a difference to the people, situations, and
causes they care about.
Let me pause real quick before I keep reading. If you're listening to this and you're like, "Oh, I'm not a leader, this doesn't apply to me,” this absolutely applies to you. If you're a human being, you are a leader, at least you have that. You're a leader. How you live your life impacts other people. How we all live our lives gives other people permission to do the same. And if we live our life in an inspired way, we inspire others to do that. If we live our life in a really destructive, negative, complaining, if that's how we're showing up, who we're choosing to be, then that impacts everybody around us. So, before I kept reading, I wanted to make sure that if anybody and I don't know what percentage of people are like, "Yeah. I'm a leader,” and some are like, "Oh, yeah, I'm not a leader. I'm not a CEO so I'm not a leader.” No. And you'll get this from Margaret’s call to action here is that we are all leaders and she is calling on all of us. Here we go.
We need leaders who are committed to serving people, who
recognize what is being lost in the haste to dominate, ignore,
and abuse the human spirit.
We need leaders because leadership has been debased
as those who take things to scale or are first to market or
dominate the competition. Or hold onto
power by constantly tightening their stranglehold of fear until
people are left lifeless and cowering.
We need leaders now because we have failed to implement
what was known to work, what would have prevented or
mitigated the rise of hatred, violence, poverty, and ecological
destruction. We have not failed from a lack of ideas and
technologies. We have failed from a lack of will. The solutions
we needed were already here.
Now it is too late. We cannot solve these global issues
Now it’s up to us, not as global leaders but as local leaders.
We can lead people to create positive changes locally that
make life easier and more sustainable, that create possibility
in the midst of global decline.
Let us use whatever power and influence we have, working
with whatever resources are already available, mobilizing the
people who are with us to work for what they care about.
As President Teddy Roosevelt enjoined us:
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
And then she goes on to say:
What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?
It is accurate to label this time as uncertain and chaotic, spinning wildly
out of control. Every day we experience disruption, swerves in direction,
short-term decisions that undo the future, propaganda, slander, lies,
blame, denial, violence. Communities and nations are disrupted by
terrorist acts, cumbersome bureaucracies block services, people retreat
in self-protection and lash out in fear, angry people strike back at their
governments, leaders stridently promise security and outcomes that we
know can’t be true, tensions between people reach hateful proportions,
and confusion and exhaustion sink us into despair and cynicism. This is
the age of retreat: from one another, from values that held us together,
from ideas and practices that encouraged inclusion, from faith in leaders,
from belief in basic human goodness.
There are some who define this chaotic time as filled with potential,
basing their hopefulness on the workings of chaos described in new
science. They want to “blow up” the current system or contribute
to its quick demise and use the ensuing chaos as the opportunity
to create healthy new systems. Their hope is based on an innocent
misunderstanding of the chaos cycle.
The chaos cycle is triggered by changes in the environment; these
external changes force the system to abandon its old ways and respond
to the new. Everything that held it together—its beliefs, meanings, and
structures—no longer work now that the environment has changed. And
so the system falls apart. It descends into chaos: Either it can reorganize using
new beliefs and structures that work well in the changed environment. Or
it can insist on the old ways, fail to reorganize itself, and die. Both rebirth
and death are possible as an outcome of the passage through chaos.
So there is a slight basis for those who welcome in this time of disruption
and chaos as the means to create healthier, more humane and life-
affirming ways of living on this planet, for as long as the planet will have
us. But we can’t get there from here without traversing through the falling
apart stage. We cannot simply leap to new ways of being; first we must
prepare for disintegration and collapse.
Systems that are failing now will continue to deteriorate.
Guys, this is a reality check for all of us, by the way.
Uncertainty, confusion, and fear will continue to predominate. People will withdraw
further into self-protection and strike out at those different from
That doesn't have to be you, by the way. It doesn't have to be me. We don't have to strike out in fear at those different from us.
Corrupt leaders will intensify their false promises, and people
will subjugate themselves to their control.
I know it is possible for leaders to use their power and influence, their
insight and compassion, to lead people back to an understanding of who
we are as human beings, to create the conditions for our basic human
qualities of generosity, contribution, community, and love to be evoked no
I want to read that again.
I know it is possible for leaders (a.k.a. you) to use (your) power and influence,
insight and compassion, to lead people back to an understanding of who
we are as human beings, to create the conditions for our basic human
qualities of generosity, contribution, community, and love to be evoked no
And I'm rereading that because that's my call. That's one of my calls, my request, my invitations for all of us to get back to our humanity. And I'm not reading right now. This is me talking. Get back to our humanity like can we love each other unconditionally? Like, I don't know, people are struggling with that. Like for me, it hasn't changed. If someone believes in a different ideology than I do, I love them just as much like it doesn't change. If somebody doesn't get vaccinated or does get vaccinated, I love them just as much. Like I love you. I want you to live your life on your terms as long... Right? Of course, not infringing on other people, but that doesn't change my love for humanity. And I'm not trying to get on a high horse and be like, “I love people so you should too,” but I guess that's kind of what I'm saying. Going with what Margaret is saying, the human qualities of generosity, contribution, community, and love to be evoked no matter what, to decide that's who I'm going to be. I'm going to be a stan for love. I'm going to be a stan for unity. I'm going to be a stan for compassion. That's who we can choose to be. All right. I’m getting excited. Let me drive back into the book here.
I know it is possible to experience grace and joy in the midst
of tragedy and loss.
I'm going to say that one again. This reminds me of Person A versus Person B. In the midst of tragedy and loss, Margaret Wheatley says:
I know it is possible to experience grace and joy in the midst
of tragedy and loss. I know it is possible to create islands of sanity in the
midst of wildly disruptive seas. And I have studied enough history to know that
such leaders always arise when they are most needed.
Now it’s our turn.
Now it is our turn to rise to be that leader that experiences grace and joy in the midst of tragedy and loss, that leads people back to an understanding of who we are as human beings by our example. Right? Be the change that you want to see in the world. Be a source of love. Do not spew hate in any form, including Facebook comments or Twitter comments or rants, right? Be a space for love. So, there's one more section I want to read and then we're just going to start talking here. So, the last part of her opening, Who Do We Choose To Be? And this to me is arguably the most powerful.
This needs to be stated clearly at the outset: we can no longer solve the
global problems of this time at large-scale levels: poverty, economics,
climate change, violence, dehumanization. Even though the solutions
have been available for a very long time, they require conditions to
implement them that are not available: political courage, collaboration
across national boundaries, compassion that supersedes self-interest and
greed. These are not only the failings of our specific time in history; they
occur in all civilizations at the end of their life cycle.
And let me real quick insert Margaret Wheatley, she has studied the rise and fall of civilizations. I have studied the other folks that have studied that and the United States, and I can't speak for other parts of the world as much but based on a predictable life cycle of an empire, the Roman Empire, I’m drawing a blank. We are at a stage where we are towards the collapse of the empire. And so, just something to be aware of. And again, that's what I'm referencing that because that's what she was talking about when she says that:
These are not only the failings of our specific time in history; they
occur in all civilizations at the end of their life cycle.
This is a bitter pill for activists and all people with discerning, open
The powerful always defend the status quo because it
is the source of their power and privilege. Any change
that benefits others would destroy their position. And
their position is all they care about defending.
As a lifelong activist focused on changing leadership in large systems, as
one still inside those large systems as a consultant, advisor, and friend,
I realized years ago that large-scale change was not possible. Leaders
were grasping for control, overreacting to crises rather than thinking
systemically, treating people as “units” rather than as humans. Yet I also
met and worked with extraordinary leaders who were creating islands of
sanity where good work still got done and where people enjoyed healthy
relationships in the midst of chaotic conditions, fierce opposition, heart-
breaking defeats, lack of support, isolation, loneliness, and slander.
Several years ago, in the face of irreversible global problems and the
devolution of leadership, I began to challenge every leader I met with
these questions: Who do you choose to be for this time? Are you willing
to use whatever power and influence you have to create islands of sanity
that evoke and rely on our best human qualities to create, produce, and
Now I’m asking you.
Again, that is from Margaret Wheatley's book. Who Do We Choose To Be? And this to me is the question. In some ways, it's the ultimate question. Who do you choose to be? Life is going to happen. There is chaos right now in the world like we've never seen before. Who are you going to choose to be? Because guess what? It's the only thing you have control over. It's the only thing you have control over. Last year when the pandemic hit and there was this collective fear and people didn't know what was happening when it first started in March 2020-ish, it's not when it first started, but that's kind of when it really became part of our collective consciousness and everybody was aware of it when measures, lockdowns here in America and around the world were taking place. And I asked myself as a leader of anyone in my life that I can reach or impact or influence such as you, if you're listening to this podcast, I asked myself, what do people most need right now that I feel like I can in a way that I can serve using my perspective or gifts or talents or life experience or whatever it was? And I ended up doing a podcast called What Should We Focus On Right Now?
I think that was the title, What Should We Focus On Right Now? And the premise of it was there's so much to focus on right now. You could spend all your time watching the news and focusing on everything you see on the news. You could zone in on one part of the news like COVID, and you could focus all your energy on that. And that could be your focus. And you could feel fear and you could feel overwhelmed and you could feel out of control because as I said during that episode, "When we focus on things that are out of our control, we feel out of control.” When you focus on something that's out of your control and watching the news is pretty much feeding that. I mean, when you watch the news, I'm not sure how much of what you watch on the news is in your control. This is happening in Afghanistan and this is happening in hospitals around the world and on and on and on. It's typically out of our control. And when you focus your attention and your emotion and your energy on things that are out of your control, you feel out of control. And guess what? That doesn't serve anybody. That doesn't help anybody. When you're feeling out of control, when you're feeling stressed, depressed, overwhelmed, scared, how can we be of service when we're in that state? That fear state, that stress state.
And so, at the end of the day, the answer to that question, what should we focus on? It’s ourselves. We should focus on who we're choosing to be. We should focus on optimizing our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual capacities and wellbeing. Let me say that again. My belief, I know I get excited, so it comes across as preachy sometimes like I'm never preaching. I'm just sharing a perspective that is my own and I'm inviting you to consider if it benefits you, if it's helpful to you. And so, my belief, my conclusion when I asked myself the question of with so much craziness in the world and chaos in the world and, gosh, this was a year-and-a-half ago, it's only gotten a little crazier or a lot crazier since then. But the question is, what should we focus on? And it started personally with me in my Miracle Morning just going like before meditation, what should I focus on right now and how can I best serve? That was the question I asked myself. And the answer was that I came up with that what makes the most sense, what's the most beneficial to me and everybody who I come in contact with, is for me to focus on optimizing and nurturing my mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being, and capacities.
So, expanding my mental capacities by learning, continuing to learn and grow, expanding my emotional capacities by meditating each day, doing what I call emotional optimization, meditation. You're not sure what that is. I've talked about it on many, many podcasts, but it's essentially where you choose which emotional state you want to feel and then you get in that state by thinking of something that causes that feeling like remembering the last time you felt that way, visualizing that. And once you get that emotional state, you set a timer for five minutes or 10 minutes or 30 minutes or however long to meditate, and you marinate in that state, the benefit of which you are essentially creating neural pathways and strengthening neural pathways that make that emotional state available to you whenever you want. So, that's how you nurture and expand your emotional capacities. Your physical capacities, of course, that would be through exercise, through physical movement, weight lifting, going for a bike ride, going for a walk, doing breathwork, expanding your physical capacities. And then spiritual capacities, that's a little harder to quantify I think. For me, it's how do I expand my spiritual capacities? It's really through, well, it's through reading. It's through reading books on spirituality.
The book I'm reading right now, I'm going through it so slowly because I underline almost everything, and then I reread it. I read it at night, reread the chapter I read the night before the next morning like I really want to master this content. And it's called The Inner Work by Matthew, I forget. The Inner Work. If you go to Amazon and type The Inner Work, it's the one with the purple cover that kind of looks like a dark purple cloud kind of thing. So, The Inner Work and it’s How To Unlock True Freedom and Lasting Happiness I think is the subtitle. But so, I'm reading that book. So, expanding spiritual capacities for me, expanding any capacity or especially if it's mental, intellectual is you've got to expand your knowledge. Like if I don't know something, I can't access that thing. Like, if I don't know, that's kind of what this podcast is about is just sharing what might be a new idea or reminding you of something that you've heard in the past so that you now have that knowledge to act on. You go, "Oh, I can choose to be Person A or Person B. Huh, I wasn't realizing that I've been Person A.
I've been stressed and angry and depressed, and I've been projecting and I've been being hateful. Or I've just been feeling, I've been focusing on all the negative things in my life that make me feel out of control and scared. And while I didn't realize that, but now that I'm aware, now that I have the knowledge that I have a choice between being Person A where I'm focused on and creating a reality around the things that caused me emotional distress, but wait a minute, I could choose to be person B and just be free from the stress. I can choose, as Margaret Wheatley said, to experience grace, and I don't even know, love, compassion, peace of mind in the midst of tragedy, chaos, adversity. Wow. I have that choice. Well, that sounds like a way better choice. I'd rather be free on the inside even when I don't have the freedom to change a fixed circumstance or a past event, right? We can't change what we can't change. We can always choose how we experience our life in any given moment.
Viktor Frankl, who was a Nazi concentration camp survivor, of course, while he was in the concentration camp, he did not know if he was going to survive. He assumed he would die since that was kind of the plan, and it didn't look like there was a way out. And Viktor Frankl, he talks about between a stimulus, an event, someone saying something to you, between the stimulus and your response, there is a space. Now, if you don't take a deep breath and you've got to allow that space, something can happen, and you go, screw you. You can react instantaneously. So, you got to allow the space, but the space is there and it's always there. Even if you react instantly, there was a millisecond there that you missed, but he says between stimulus and response, there is a space.
And in that space, we get to choose our response. We have the ability and the opportunity to choose our response. So, how are you responding right now to the challenges in your life? And when I say challenges, I'm not just talking about the external challenges. I'm also talking about–alright, so where was I? What the heck was I talking about? Oh yeah, between stimulus and response is your ability, your opportunity to choose your response, and Person A is reactive. They're typically not consciously choosing their response. Like I said, you're usually not saying this bad thing happened, and I want to feel emotionally distraught over it. Usually, you're not thinking that to yourself. You're just thinking, oh, my God, this horrible thing happened. What am I going to do? And you're not consciously choosing how you're going to feel. You're not choosing how you want to feel. You're not choosing how you're going to experience that tragedy.
And why aren't we choosing? And usually, it's a lack of awareness, it didn't even cross my mind that I had a choice. I was just reacting. In that way, you can either be reactive, and I guess that's actually a really good way to you be reactive or proactive, and that's a good way to just like a simple way to differentiate Person A and Person B. Person A is reactive. Person B is proactive. Person A is reactive in terms of whatever the stimulus that comes in, whatever the event, the tragedy, the trauma, the chaos, the circumstance, whatever it is, they don't take advantage of the space between the stimulus and the response, they just react. Their response is to react at whatever comes up for them initially. And it comes up for them very often. It's simply past programming. Think about that for a second. When you react to something, when you react, when you're reactive, not proactive, being reactive is typically simply responding out of past programming.
So, for example, if every time somebody cuts you off in traffic in the past, you've always gotten angry, right? Like, let me cut you off, and you go, what? Throw your hands up, and you curse and profanity at them, and screw you, buddy. How dare you? Maybe you tailgate them and ride their bumper, like how you react in varying degrees. Some people go all the way to road rage. Some people just get kind of frustrated or whatever, but usually, think about this, if that's how you've always reacted when someone cuts you off in traffic. And by the way, this cutting off in traffic, you can apply to anything, if every time your spouse says a certain thing, and it triggers you, that's kind of what triggering means, right? You're unconsciously reacting. The trigger is the unconscious reaction. When someone says or does this or cuts me off in traffic, I'm triggered. I get angry. So, that's a past programmed response.
So, when it happens next time, what do you think you're going to do? Well, if you're a Person A and you're reactive, you'll probably do the same thing you've always done. There's no growth there. There's no evolution in terms of your personal evolution, if you stay as a Person A, if you stay reactive. If every time you see somebody posts something on social media that's either pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine or that's pro, this politician or that politician or that, like whatever, if you are triggered by it, that typically means that just simply, you're based on how you've reacted in the past, you're just repeating that same reaction, that reactivity. And the difference of being proactive, Person B, we’ll say is proactive, right? And we should call these Person R and Person P, right? Person R is reactive. Person P is proactive, but whatever.
Person A and Person B. So, Person A is reactive. Person B is proactive. What's the difference is they choose their response intentionally and consciously. They choose their response that would best serve them, that would best serve the moment, that would serve the situation, maybe that would serve the greater good, right? Who do they choose to be? They choose to be someone, they choose to be the version of themselves who is consciously showing up in a way that serves the moment, that serves themselves, others, the greater good, the situation.
And so, I'm inviting you, I guess, right now, or I'd like to invite you to consider. Well, let's do this. I was going to say consider who you want to be, Person A or Person B. Let's share just some differences between the two, and again, obviously, Person A and Person B are mythical figures. And it came out of the reality that two different people can suffer the same tragedy or trauma, and Person A is devastated and Person B is inspired. Person A is reactive and Person B as proactive. So, in simple terms, just some examples of what the differences might be between choosing between Person A and Person B. Person A focuses on things that cause them to feel emotional distress. And you could say, in simple terms, you could say they focus on the negative in life, right?
Now, negative is a very subjective term. You could say, well, is it negative? Is it positive? One person's negatives, another person's positives. That's kind of the point is it's the context for them, it's negative. For them, they focus on the things in their life that caused them emotional distress, make them feel unhappy. Often, they justify what they're focusing on and saying, I'm realistic. And you maybe heard me say in the past, I always challenge that, that claim that, well, I'm not negative. I'm realistic with, well, how is it any more realistic for you to focus on the things you're focusing on than for me to focus on that, that make you feel stressed and angry and hateful? How is that any more realistic than for any of us to choose to focus on that which inspires us and causes us to feel joy and gives us energy and motivation? Like how is it any more realistic to focus on one or the other? It's not. The realism is identical. It's just as realistic to focus on everything wrong in the world as it is everything right in the world. It's just as realistic to focus on everything wrong with yourself, with you, with ourselves as is folks on everything right with ourselves. It is just as realistic to focus on everything wrong with other people as it is to focus on everything right with other people.
Again, this is Person A focusing on everything wrong. Person B focusing on everything right. And it doesn’t mean that you can't be a little bit of both, but to me, focusing on what's wrong in the world should be limited to only what's relevant to you, what's directly relevant to you, or someone that you're going to make a difference for, but in terms of what you focus on that's wrong in the world, if it's not in your control, then other than making you feel bad, what's the benefit of that? Whereas focusing on what's right in the world, that completely transforms how you experience your life. It completely transforms your quality of life.
So, in terms of who are we choosing to be, are we going to focus on what's wrong in our lives and dwell there and make that our reality? Are we going to focus on what's right in our lives? Are we going to focus on what's wrong in ourselves and dwell there and make that our reality and just feel terrible about ourselves, just to destroy our self-esteem? Or are we going to consciously choose to focus on what's right with ourselves? Sure, focus on what's “wrong” in terms of an area you want to improve, but only for the sake of recognizing what you want to improve. Or maybe it's an area you aren't going to improve, such as a physical deformity, right? If you were born with one arm, then that's simply a matter of accepting it, just being at peace with it.
This happened yesterday. I was talking to my daughter about, how do I say this without, in case she hears this, without, I don’t want to embarrass her. Well, let's just say there's a part of her that she's not happy with. She's like, I don't like this about me. I really don't like it, it's a physical characteristic. I don't like this about me. And she's like, I don't look good in this area, whatever. And she's 11 or she’s just turned 12. And I said, sweetheart, I said, I want you to think about Nick Santonastasso. And if you don't know Nick Santonastasso, find him online. He's a total inspiration. He and I become friends. He was born with no legs. He was born with one arm and a hand with one finger on it. In fact, I think I've had him on, I should look that up, but anyway.
So, yeah. So, no legs, one arm, and the only arm that he has, the hand that he has, only has one finger on it. So, any of your physical, anything about your body that you don't like, your waist is too big or your arms are too big or your ears are too big or your nose is too small or like, whatever, right? Nick Santonastasso is as happy and proud of his body as anybody, and he chooses to be Person B. If he's Person A, he'd be depressed, right? He'd be like, oh, my gosh, I have no legs and I only have one arm and I can't do this and I can't do that, and my life is so horrible. No, he's living life in a way that few people ever will, where he is living to his full potential in every way possible. My daughter has met Nick and knows him. And I used him as an example. I said, look, if Nick heard you complaining about your body, what do you think he would say? And it was amazing, it broke her pattern from defending her, complaining about her body to be like, she lost like, gosh, you're right. You're totally right. He would say, well, at least you have legs.
And so, I think that that was a great example, that I believe this was yesterday that my daughter and I had this conversation, but just a great example of your life is as good or as bad as you think it is. Your body is as good or as bad as you think it is. Every aspect of life is as terrible or as amazing as you think it is. And Person A, by focusing on what's wrong in their life, again, that becomes their reality, whereas Person B focusing on what they have to be grateful for, what they're excited about, etc. Person A also is a result of focusing on things that cause emotional distress, those are people that are complaining all the time because the thoughts that are going through our head all the time, not only are we experiencing that, but typically when we open our mouth, that comes out, right? That's what you're thinking about. That's what you start talking about. Whereas Person B refuses to complain because they realize that all that does is perpetuate the negativity, the painful things in their life. And there's complaining, they've decided doesn't serve them. It doesn't serve them.
You also see Person A wastes a lot of energy, wishing and wanting they could change things that are out of their control. I wish the path were different. I wish this person were different. I wish the state of the world was different. I wish our government was different. And they put energy, emotional energy into wishing and wanting they could change things that are out of their control, and again, that then becomes their reality, this feeling of helplessness, of powerlessness, whereas Person B, they refuse to waste energy wishing and wanting they could change things that are out of their control because that wishing and wanting is futile. Instead, they accept life exactly as it is there. They choose to be at peace with things they can't control and focus their energy on the things that they can control. Person A tends to focus on the past or the future, they're always ruminating over the past or worried about the future, whereas Person B chooses to live in the present moment AKA life. They live in this moment fully present.
So, I think you get the idea. I could go on and on and on, but again, the premise, the simple, the essential aspect of the difference between Person A and Person B, which you get to choose. Person A is reactive. They are reactive, they are not consciously choosing how they want to experience their life. They are experiencing their life by reacting very often, out of past programming. It's these unconscious reactions, and then that becomes the new programming, right? The consistent programming. And then they're filtering all the new drama in the world and in their life through their past reactive programming. And it's meshing to create new neural pathways of negativity and emotional distress and pain and fear, and that becomes reality.
And my friends, I'm doing my best to share with you that you were in control of how you feel, or at least, you have that opportunity. You get to be in control of how you feel if you consciously choose that. And we've talked about this in varying ways and varying degrees for the last year and a half. I've called it inner freedom at many times, and right now, I'm just giving you a different way of viewing this, of realizing that there's Person A and there's Person B, and you get to choose. If you don't choose at all, you're likely to succumb to being Person A, to feeling emotional distress, to being unhappy, to living in fear. Or you can choose to be Person B, and that is your choice.
I know someone who was hit by a drunk driver, similar to me, right? So, when I was 20 years old, I was in a car accident, hit head-on by a drunk driver at 70 miles an hour. And I was found dead at the scene, I was clinically dead, not breathing for six minutes, no heartbeat for six minutes, broke 11 bones, in a coma for six days, in the hospital for two months, came out of the coma, told I'd never walk again, so on and so forth. You probably know the story if you've listened for a while. I have a friend who was also in a drunk-driving accident. Now, she sustained some injuries. And I don't know exactly what they were. I don't remember, it's been a long time. Her accident was kind of like mine. It was a decade-plus ago.
But here's the point. I forgave the drunk driver immediately. He didn't try to hurt me like there was nothing to hold against him. He drank a few beers and then he got in his car and drove. Is that a smart decision? Probably not, right? Definitely not. Is that any reason for me to have any hate toward him? No, not in my mind. Why would I have any negative feelings toward him? He made a mistake, so I forgave him right away. And when I actually went to court, the judge asked me what I thought, if I wanted to share. And my brain damage was very new at that time. It was really hard for me just to speak, period. And this was literally like a couple of months after the accident that I went to court. And so, my mom and dad spoke on my behalf. I explained to them what my thoughts were about this, and I requested that instead of spending years in jail, just wasting away in jail, I thought, spending six months in jail. So, he had time to really think about what he did and kind of a wake-up call. I thought that was because they were proposing three years in jail. I thought, well, eventually, there's a diminishing return. Like, I don't know what's going to change in terms of the benefit for him or society after you're one or you’re two or you’re three. So, I thought, give him six months in jail.
And then my request was that, instead of spending the next two and half years in jail, that he spent the next two and a half years speaking at high schools about the consequences of drinking and driving and sharing his story, I thought, let's be proactive in terms of what his, if you want to call it his punishment, I guess. I thought let's do something that benefits other people instead of him just rotting, just being in jail. And unfortunately, the judge didn't want to do a creative sentence like that and just sentence him to three years in prison. It is what it is. It was out of my control, but the point is, I forgave him. I had no ill will toward him at all.
And my friend who, her injuries, I don't remember exactly what they were, but they were nothing nearly as catastrophic. She, to this day over, I think, it's been more than 10 years, she harbors so much hate for the drunk driver that hit her. In fact, every year on the anniversary of the drunk-driving accident, she posts on Facebook, at least I don't know if every year, but I've seen her posts about the anniversary. She says, I hope you are burning in hell, or I hope you burn in hell. She has so much hate toward this person, this man who drove after he drank alcohol and accidentally hit her car. Here's the point. The point is that we get to choose. Now, she's choosing either, I mean, I don't know if it's consciously or unconsciously after these many years, I'd imagine it's got to be in some ways consciously, but maybe not, maybe it's just her past programming, right? She decided early on she hated this person. And then now, the thought of that person, actually this makes sense, she's reactive, right? She's reactive based on her past programming. She had hate for this person early on. And now, no matter how many years or decades later, every time she thinks about this drunk driver, that she reacts with those same programmed thoughts and emotions of hate.
Now, is that serving her? I'm sure it is in some way or she wouldn't do it, right? It makes her feel maybe powerful or in control or righteous or I don't know. I don't know, I can't speak for that, but I’d imagine that that much anger and hate is not good for her body. I mean, that kind of stress and spiking cortisol levels is bad for your immune system. It's bad for your biology or biochemistry. So, I made the conscious choice, I thought, what doesn't serve me to hate this person back, it doesn't even to me, make sense. And so, I just made a different choice.
And again, that's what today's episode is about. It is about reminding you that you get to choose how you experience your life, you get to choose what you think about, what you focus on. You get to choose how you feel. You get to choose how you treat other people. You get to choose how you handle trauma, how you handle tragedy. And to me, the fundamental decision is how do I want to feel most of the time? How do I want to experience life? What do I want my experience of life to be like? Do I want to be happy? Do I want to experience love or hate? Do I want to experience happiness or sadness? Do I want to experience fear or peace of mind? Either way, the world's crazy. Either way, other people are going to do things that disappoint you, that don't meet your expectations, that are mean or rude or whatever, but who are you going to choose to be? How are you going to show up? If someone's rude to you, are you going to mirror that with being rude back? In some instances, that's probably the right thing to do, but are you going to allow someone else, and then how they treat you to affect how you feel? I don't know about you, but I don't give other people permission to determine how I feel inside.
I want to say that again. I want you to think about that. Personally, I don't believe we should give other people permission to determine how we feel. You might be thinking, Hal, this is easier said than done. Sure, everything new is easier said than done, but once you've practiced what I'm talking about for weeks and months and years, it gets easier and easier and easier until it becomes who you are. Who do you choose to be? You've got to start somewhere, you've got to decide I'm committed to being, let me look at those words that Margaret Wheatley used in her book, Who Do We Choose To Be? She said, “I know it's possible for leaders to use their power and influence.” And remember, you are a leader. And the first place to use your power and influence, by the way, is on yourself. Use it on yourself. That for me is it, I don't teach things that I don't practice myself. Once I practiced it myself and I feel like I've got a level of competency, and it's working and it's serving me at a high level, then I tell people about it, then I share it.
So again, she says, “I know it's possible for leaders to use their power and influence, their insight and compassion, to lead people back to an understanding of who we are as human beings, to create the conditions for our basic human qualities of generosity, contribution, community and love to be evoked no matter what.” So, I'm just going to stick there, you guys and gals. I'm inviting you. I'm encouraging you. I'm challenging you. I'm asking you that if you can step up as a leader. Every human being is a leader of humanity. Step up as a leader to use your power and influence, your insight and compassion, to lead people back to understanding who we all are as human beings, to create those conditions of the qualities, the basic human qualities of generosity. So, be generous of contribution. So, contribute to others of community, foster community where you are with the people you love and the people you lead.
And last but not least, for us to all embody love no matter what. The world is a crazy place, and I think it's always been a crazy place. I've told my daughter that, she goes, Dad, like, I can't believe, this feels unfair that we're having to grow up with, like, this crazy world. And I go, Sweetheart, the world's always been crazy, like depending on how you look at it, it's always, right? There have been wars since, I actually, because I told her, she’s just going into sixth grade. I said when I was in sixth grade, there was Desert Storm. There were wars going on in the Middle East like there's always been chaos in the world. And guess what? In your world, meaning your life, there will always be challenges and tragedies and trauma, but the good news is you get to decide who you're going to be in the midst of it all.
Thank you so much for listening today. I hope that's helpful. I love you. I appreciate you. I'm going to keep trying to be that North Star, trying to remind all of us to treat each other with love and compassion, beginning with ourselves, most importantly. Treat yourself with love. Treat yourself with compassion. You deserve to enjoy this one life you've been given. And I believe the people that know you, the people that see you, the people that hear from you, they deserve to see and experience the best of you, exemplifying, embodying those human qualities of generosity and compassion and contribution and love. So, let's do it together. Let's be the change we want to see in the world. I love you so much. I'll talk to you all next week.
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