“Even in the most difficult circumstances in your life, you have the ability to choose to be the happiest, the most grateful, at peace that you've ever been. That is inner freedom. That is emotional enlightenment.”
Outer freedom gives you the ability to create the circumstances that you want for your life. Inner freedom allows you to enjoy your life, regardless of the circumstances.
These concepts exist in an inherent conflict with one another. When we pursue outer freedom, there’s a part of us that feels like our life could be better, and when we focus on our inner freedom, part of us celebrates the fact that life’s perfect, exactly as it is.
So, how do we address that contradiction? In today’s episode, I want to show you how to get everything you want for your life while enjoying what you already have. By the end of our time together, I hope to help you reconcile these conflicting emotions and discover why your life is perfect–regardless of your circumstances.
- Why almost everyone would prefer to improve their circumstances rather than be perfectly content with what they already have.
- Why the life you think you want won’t make you happier but will eventually lead you back to the hedonic treadmill.
- How to shift your mindset, have it all, and be at peace with life exactly as it is, even while feeling a sense of urgency to create the life you want.
- Why “Life is perfect” is one of my favorite affirmations, even in my hardest times, and how adversity serves to help us evolve.
- The power of choosing to experience inner freedom in the present while looking to be even better in the future.
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Hal Elrod: Welcome to the Achieve Your Goals podcast. This is your host Hal Elrod, and thank you for tuning in today. I appreciate you being here and listening. And today, we are going to explore the contradiction between outer freedom and inner freedom. And the title of the episode today is Your Life is Perfect, and we’re going to get there. It’s going to be a journey to get to how your life is perfect.
But what actually prompted today’s episode was last night, going to bed, I had a realization around the two types of freedom – outer freedom, which is being able to create the circumstances that you want for your life, inner freedom, which is being able to enjoy your life regardless of your circumstances. There’s a contradiction between the values and attributes for each. In short, we’re going to explore this today, but just in short, by exploring, or I should say pursuing outer freedom, you’re literally pursuing, making your life different, which inherently would suggest, would embody a way of not being the way that it could be or should be.
Our life’s not good enough as it is. Now, I’m not satisfied, I’m not happy. So, I got to change things, I got to improve things, I got to make things better. So, there’s that element of pursuing outer freedom that contradicts with inner freedom, which is no, life’s perfect exactly as it is. I’m totally content, I’m totally happy. I don’t need my circumstances to change for me to be any happier. If they do change, great. I’ll be happy as they change and after they’ve changed, but I’m happy now.
So, there’s this contradiction between pursuing outer freedom and embodying inner freedom. How do you deal with that contradiction in a way that allows you to have everything you want in your life, more importantly, to enjoy everything that you have in your life? So, I showed you how to get everything you want for your life while you enjoy everything you already have. That’s what we’re going to talk about today. We’re going to explore that and we’re going to end on you’re going to realize your life’s perfect. Perfect. I might upset you right now. My life is not perfect. There are all sorts of problems and challenges and yeah, maybe they’re perfect. I’ll leave you with that. We’re going to get there.
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And without further ado, let’s explore the contradictions between outer freedom and inner freedom and how we can experience both, ultimately arriving at this perspective that my life, your life, our lives are perfect.
Hal Elrod: I want to ask you a question, and the answer is probably not very straightforward. It’s going to require some thought. It might seem straightforward, but we’re going to dive into and explore the answer together. So, if you had to choose between these two scenarios, the option one, option two, I want you to consider which of these you would choose. Option one would be if you could love the life you have now exactly as it is, nothing would ever change. Your circumstances would never “improve,” meaning you’d live where you live now, you wouldn’t have more money. It would just be that you mastered the ability to be completely content, completely at peace, to be the happiest and most content you could ever be for the rest of your life. So, that’s option one.
We could call that inner freedom that you had the ability to choose, as we’ve been talking about for the last year or so, how to experience every moment of your life. And you could choose to be in just total bliss. That was option one if you had that ability. Imagine, I’m like a genie and you rub the lamp and I come out and I go, alright, you got two wishes or one wish between these two. It’s an A or a B. So, option one, to truly love the life you have for the rest of your life and be the happiest you could ever be. You’re the happiest person anyone could ever meet. That’s option one, but your circumstances never change.
Or option two is that you could create the best life you could imagine using all the resources available to you. So not that you could rub the magic lamp and go, well, I want to be three feet taller. No. Or like I want to have different family members. No. Using your life as it is now as the starting point that you could set and achieve any goal that you wanted if that was the ability, and we could call that outer freedom. So, inner freedom is the ability to love your life and be content and be truly happy no matter what your circumstance is. And then option one, in this fabricated scenario, your circumstances never change. Or option two, you could change your circumstances, you could achieve your goals, you could improve anything that you wanted, but your happiness would be kind of left up to chance. So, right now, you would imagine, well, if I improve my circumstances, of course, I’ll be happier.
So, which would you choose between those scenarios? Again, option one, you love your life, you’re the happiest you’ve ever been. Circumstances don’t change, but you figure out how to truly be content with what you have, be grateful for what you have, ad love every moment of your life. You’re the happiest person anybody knows. It’s option one. Or option two, you can set and achieve any goal that you want, create the circumstances of your dreams, if you will.
My guess is that most people would choose the latter. That’s my guess. Meaning they would choose two, why would I want to be able to improve my circumstances? I want to create the life that I want because they think that will make them happy. It’s a natural assumption. So, we do anything. We want to feel good, be happy. So, yeah, I want to improve my circumstances because that will make me happy. But is it really that simple? I would invite you to consider that happiness, we’ve heard this before, we’ve all heard this that money doesn’t buy happiness, and happiness is a choice. And while it’s influenced by our circumstances, it is not determined by our circumstances.
And I would invite you to consider that if you can’t be happy with the life you currently have, if you have all sorts of excuses, no, I’m not happy because _____. I’m not happy because my marriage is struggling. I’m not happy because I’m struggling financially. I’m not happy because I’m overweight. I’m not happy because we have all these excuses as to why we’re not happy and we blame it on our circumstances. We think that’s what it is.
But I’d invite you to consider that if you can’t be happy with the life you currently have, like if you can’t figure it out and if you’re blaming your happiness, your emotional well-being on your circumstances, which includes the people in your life, your boss, whatever, spouse, kids, lack thereof of any of those. But if you can’t be happy, if you can’t figure out how to be happy with the life that you currently have, what makes you think that you’ll understand, that you’ll know how to be happy with the life you think that you want?
There’s that old saying, be careful what you wish for. Oh, I want this thing because it makes me happy, then you get the thing and you’re like, oh, the fantasy was better than the reality. The fantasy was better than the reality. I’ve found in most cases in life, the fantasy is better than the reality. They call that hedonism, where you adapt and what was once exciting, once it becomes your norm, it just feels normal. You want this thing and then you get the thing, like the new car, and then it’s the old car, and then the new house is the old house, and the new boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse is the old. Quickly, the newness wears off. I call that the infatuation period. That infatuation period wears off, and then it just becomes mundane, whatever it is.
So, we think that achieving these things or creating these things or improving these things will make us happy, and they usually do for a period of time until we get bored of those things or they become mundane or they become just normal. They’re not exciting anymore. And then we have to pursue the next thing that we think will make us happy. They called out the hedonic treadmill. I think I’m pronouncing that right.
And I think there’s enough evidence for us of people who achieve extraordinary levels of wealth and success and even fame. They have everything they ever wanted, but they aren’t any happier. We see that with a lot of celebrities that turn to drugs or alcohol or even suicide. In the case of Kurt Cobain, one of the top singers in the world, Nirvana, when I was in sixth, seventh grade, that was like the number one band, my favorite band. And then he committed suicide, like age 30. And then Robin Williams, I think Robin Williams committed suicide, I’m not sure. But just in general, there are a lot of celebrities that turn to drugs, alcohol, or even suicide.
I mean, if you look at the headlines, a lot of celebrities that their marriages fall apart. Now, they have everything they ever wanted – wealth, freedom to do what they want when they want that their wealth affords them. They have fame. They have adoration from people and fans. But I would argue that they thought happiness would be found in the future in something different or what they deemed better than their current reality, which is why they were working so hard to pursue their goals and pursue their dreams. They were looking for something. That feeling that they imagined success would bring them, that they imagined financial security would bring them.
And by the way, I said this a few minutes ago, do our circumstances impact our happiness and our emotional well-being? Yes, I would argue that they absolutely do. They absolutely influence it. If you’re in difficult circumstances, it is more difficult to be happy, it’s more challenging. And if your circumstances are comfortable, that’s less things you have to overcome to be able to feel happy.
I did a podcast episode. It was Episode 393, How to Experience Both Types of Freedom. That was the title. If you want to go back and listen to it, of course, go to HalElrod.com/393. I’m going to make a note of that, but How to Experience Both Types of Freedom. And the two types of freedom that I talked about are outer freedom and inner freedom. Or sometimes it’s called exterior freedom and interior freedom.
So, again, for definition, at least in that episode, I defined outer freedom as the ability to get yourself to do what you need to do, even when you don’t feel like it in order to produce the results, outcomes, and circumstances that you want in every aspect of your life, that’s how I define, at least in that context. I’m sure I can come up with a new definition, but outer freedom, again, the ability to get yourself to do what you need to do. It’s the freedom to take action to create the circumstances you want in your life.
And a lot of people, they don’t have that freedom. They might have it available. In fact, we all have it available to us, but they haven’t figured out how to tap into that freedom. If you consider yourself lazy and you have all these limiting beliefs that you adhere to and you can’t figure out how to get yourself to take action when you don’t feel like it, you can’t figure out how to get yourself to be motivated or just do the things that are required, then you’re lacking that outer freedom.
And then the second form of freedom is inner freedom. I defined that in Episode 393 as the ability to get yourself to feel exactly how you want to feel – happy, confident, calm, at peace, in love, in bliss, regardless of what’s happening in your life. Again, so outer freedom is the ability to get yourself to do what you need to do to create the circumstances that will allow you the freedom to do whatever you want to do. And then inner freedom is about not doing, but feeling the ability to feel how you want to feel.
I did an episode recently called Evolving Toward Emotional Enlightenment. Emotional enlightenment is kind of the term that I use for inner freedom, it’s the ability to choose your emotional state in any given moment, regardless of what’s going on around you. I call that inner freedom. I call that emotional enlightenment. So, in that Episode 393, we talked about how do you get yourself to do what you need to do even when you don’t feel like it? And how do you get yourself to feel the emotional and mental states that would enjoy you to enjoy life no matter what it is?
So, today’s episode is really about answering the question, is it possible to have your cake and eat it too, so to speak? Meaning, is it possible to love your current life exactly as it is? That was option one that I opened the episode with today. Is it possible to love your life, be the happiest human being on the planet, regardless of your circumstances, while you also pursue improving those circumstances? Can you do both? Can you have both types of freedom?
Now, in that Episode 393, I talked about how to experience both types of freedom. So, I answered that question. What we’re doing today is the distinction, it’s based on a distinction I had last night as I was falling asleep, going to bed, and then as I almost always do, I turn my phone on, open up the note tab and speak into it, which the next morning I go try to decipher my incoherent speech the night before when I was falling asleep. It’s often tough to do, but the distinction I had last night was that the values and attributes that enable one to experience outer freedom in many ways can contradict or conflict with the values and attributes that enable one to experience inner freedom.
So, it’s a distinction that needs to be addressed because we have to be taught or we have to understand a way to be able to achieve both outer and inner freedom because, again, how do they contradict? Well, think about it, if you’re focused and I’ve gone through periods where back in the day, I used to be all about achievement. Probably why this is called the Achieve Your Goals podcast. I was all about achievement. I was all about creating the circumstances that I want. I was all about outer freedom. I was all about how do I get myself to do what I need to do even when I don’t feel like it.
Now, I’ve done episodes in the past on How to Experience Both Types of Freedom, Episode 393. Again, that talks about that. We’re not going to talk today about how to get yourself to do what you need to do, even if you don’t feel like it, but if that is a challenge for you, I encourage you, after today’s episode, I’ll put in your schedule to go back and listen to the episode at HalElrod.com/393 because we do answer that question, but that’s not what we’re doing today.
But here’s the point, outer freedom, pursuing goals, pursuing constant, never-ending improvement, that is what enables you to improve your circumstances, to achieve things that maybe you want or maybe you never imagined you could achieve. I know for me, many of the things I’ve been able to do in my life, my younger self never imagined that I could have done because I was lazy growing up. I had ADHD. I didn’t have or at least I didn’t think that I had the attributes and the skills and the mindset to achieve success.
And then when I was 19, I got hired to sell Cutco cutlery. My mentor, my manager, Jesse Levine, he was really the catalyst for kind of enabling me to start tapping into my potential. And I believe we all have that potential. We all have that, but it takes a conscious awareness, a conscious effort, conscious decisions to do the things that you need to do to achieve the things that you need to achieve. There’s a little bit on that.
But if you think about it, inner freedom has been my pursuit for the last couple of years. And yes, I still work every day and I still do things to achieve various goals. I think the difference is that the goals now are really how can I contribute the most to the most amount of people? And I’m not trying to sound altruistic or whatever. I still have things I’m achieving for me. But just for me, I really buy into the Zig Ziglar philosophy, which is you can have everything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.
And I’ve found that when I focus my attention on how I can help as many people as possible get what they want, then inevitably, it helps me get what I want. In fact, a memory popped up on Facebook earlier today. I don’t know how many years ago, but I posted this quote like six years ago or 10 years ago or whatever it was. But it said, “If you want to be a millionaire, don’t ask yourself how to make a million dollars, ask yourself how you can add over a million dollars worth of value to other people.”
So, again, it’s just a slight mindset shift in other way. One of my mentors, Rick Castro, used to say it, is there are two ways to get everything you want in life. You can focus on getting as much as you can or on giving as much as you can. Either way, that will help you get everything you want in life. And I think that that’s a great sentiment, but it has to be strategic. If you just focus on giving all the time, but you’re not intentional, you’re not strategic, you’re not thoughtful, you’re not thinking of yourself. There’s such a thing as being selfless and there’s such a thing as being selfishly selfless or selflessly selfish, whatever you use it whichever way you want.
But which is the idea that you’re like, yeah, I genuinely want to help other people, but I also want to take care of myself. I also want a great lifestyle. I also want to earn money. So, I’m not just going to be selfless all the time and give away all my energy, all my attention, all my time just selflessly serving, I’ve got to also make sure that I’m doing it in a way where it’s creating value for people that I can monetize, that can actually so I can provide for myself and for my family. So, it’s a little bit of a tangent.
But the point is, inner freedom, let me bring this back around. Inner freedom, again, I define that as the ability to get yourself to feel exactly how you want to feel no matter what’s going on around you, what’s happening in your life, your circumstance is. So, this is very much a Buddhist philosophy or an Eastern philosophy, if you will, but it can be found in Buddhism, where it’s the idea that you are completely content with what you have.
And maybe you can conjure up in your mind an image of a monk, they eat a very minimal diet. It’s just some rice and beans or whatever each day. I don’t totally know what monks eat, but I know it’s minimal. And then they just sit and they just meditate all day. They don’t have a closet full of all sorts of different designer clothes. They don’t have television. They just are at peace with life exactly as it is. They live a very simple life. So, if you imagine that kind of extreme around inner freedom, where you’re able to be so at peace that you don’t need anything, you don’t need any stimulation. You’re just able to sit in the lotus position and meditate for 8, 10, 12 hours plus a day and then go to bed wearing the same outfit, the same robe, or whatever. And then you do it again and again and again and again and again, indefinitely. That’s the life of a Buddhist monk. So, that’s one extreme where this is contradictory, as you can imagine.
Well, if you’re looking at the extreme of being completely minimalistic and just enjoying your life exactly as it is, it’s like, well, then it would be contradictory to have any sort of desire to improve my life because inherently, there would be a level of discontentment. If you are desiring to improve your life, that essentially means that you’re experiencing your life as it is now, it’s not good enough, not ideal, not perfect. It can be better. So, that’s where it’s contradictory is how do you love the life you have exactly as it is, while you also work on making your life different? You see the contradiction, the conflict. It’s subtle, but it’s there. And that’s actually the subtitle if you’re not aware. My first book that I ever wrote, which I published in 2006, most people don’t even know about this book. I self-published in 2006. It was called Taking Life Head On! But the subtitle is what we’re talking about today. It was How to Love the Life You Have While You Create the Life of Your Dreams.
And most people, they’re waiting to create the life of their dreams, to love the life they have because they think, well, I don’t love life I have. That’s why I’m trying to make it better because if I make it better, then I’ll love the life I have. I can’t love the life I have now because of this reason and this reason and this person and this relationship and these challenges and these living situations. I don’t love the life I have right now. I’m very unhappy with it. I’m very discontent. Or maybe it’s not black and white. I have got some things, but overall, I want it to be different. I want it to be better. I want to improve.
So, how do you be completely at peace with the life you have, completely content while you wake up every day, and maintain a healthy sense of urgency to take action on creating the life that you want? How do you have your cake and eat it too? How do you say yes to option one that I presented at the beginning of today’s episode and option two? How do you say yes to both? Is that possible? I asked you to choose. That’s how we started, I said, if you had to choose between your circumstances as they are now staying exactly the same forever, but you loved them, you loved your life, you figured out how to be happy, you cracked the code on, wow, my circumstances didn’t change, but the way I look at them changed, the way my perspective on my life changed so that I became unbelievably happy, in a state of bliss, it was incredible.
And then someone might say, well, but wait, so nothing changed. Your spouse didn’t treat you better. You didn’t come upon a sudden financial windfall. You know, I just figured it out. I figured out that life is meant to be enjoyed. I figured out that I have the power, I have the ability to choose how I feel in any given moment. And so, now, instead of allowing my circumstances to get me down or other people to bother me or offend me or affect me in any sort of negative way, I realize I don’t have to let that happen anymore because I was allowing it. And now, I only allow what I want to allow. If I want to be unhappy, I can, I have that choice. This is the inner freedom.
And so, one thing I would invite you also to consider is if we had to prioritize what’s more important, loving the life we have or being able to create the life that we want or that we think that we want, or be careful what you ask for? A lot of times, the more success brings complexity. I can vouch for that, that you start building a team and everything like, you’re on a roll, and then all of a sudden, you look at your life, you go, what have I done? I gave birth to eight children. I’m not to use that as an analogy for hiring eight team members, for example. Right now, I have to manage them all. And now, I’m getting calls and texts and emails. What did I do? And I literally have experienced this. We built a team at one point, and then I completely let it go. After I had cancer, I had a nervous breakdown. I’m like, I can’t handle this, I can’t handle the life I’ve created. And so, I had to be careful what I wished for.
So, anyway, here’s the point. If we had to prioritize what’s more important, inner freedom, being able to choose how you feel in any given moment, choose how you experience life, be the happiest you’ve ever been no matter what, that’s the inner freedom. That’s the emotional enlightenment. If you had to prioritize that or being able to create the circumstances that you want, wouldn’t the former be more important? Meaning if you knew how to create better circumstances, but you didn’t fear how to be happy, as we talked about earlier, wouldn’t it be more important to learn how to love your life exactly as it is and be content and happy and at peace with the things you can’t change? Because, as we said, if you’re like all these celebrities and these successful people, improving your circumstances is only exciting for a while, it only lights you up for a while and then you settle into the new norm.
And then think about this, who you were before you created the better circumstances eventually rises to the surface. I mean, imagine that, like the new circumstances, they pushed down who you have always been for a little while and you get to live in this la-la land and oh, my gosh, it’s so exciting. Like, this is happening now and this is happening, and my life’s better in this way. And everything’s better, everything’s great. This is awesome. And then once it becomes your norm, who you were before you improved your circumstances, rises to the surface, and you’re stuck with yourself. That’s why I truly believe it’s far more important to learn how to love the life you have exactly as it is, to be truly content with the life that you have.
I mean, in fact, think about that. You could almost say that that’s the key to experiencing heaven on earth, like being in bliss is to be completely and utterly and absolutely content with your life exactly as it is. If you’re content with your life exactly as it is, life is perfect. And that is a perspective more than it is a circumstantial quality. It’s a perspective. No matter how great your circumstances are, you can always find things wrong. Nothing’s ever perfect. So, it’s more of a perspective.
That’s one of my favorite affirmations, by the way. Life is perfect. Life is always perfect. And when I’ve been going through the most difficult times in my life, the most difficult circumstances when I was in the hospital, hooked up to chemo, and in pain, and I said it over and over and over. It’s my favorite affirmation because it reminds me that life is perfect. It’s exactly as it should be. And I go, well, how could you say that if there’s pain, if there’s suffering? Well, have you ever had pain and suffering in the past and you moved through it and it helped you grow and evolve and become a better, more resilient version of you? I imagine the answer is yes. We’ve all experienced adversity in the past, and if we get through it, we become a better version of who we were before we endured it.
So, is life perfect? Was the adversity perfectly part of your evolution? I love what Steve Jobs says that you can only connect the dots looking backwards. That is another way of saying hindsight is 20/20. We’ve all heard that phrase many times, hindsight is 20/20. You can only connect the dots looking backwards. But if hindsight’s 20/20, why wait until the future to be at peace with the present, knowing that eventually you’ll look back and it’ll all make sense so when we look at the values and attributes that are necessary or that are present, when we are focused on achieving outer freedom versus achieving inner freedom?
So, again, inner freedom is about you’re at peace with the life exactly as it is, even if it’s not the way you want it to be. It’s about being completely content, totally happy, totally grateful, totally at peace, whereas outer freedom is about striving for something better, it’s about setting goals. In other words, actively identifying areas of improvement, it’s about pursuing something better, which inherently, again, means that you’re concluding that the present moment isn’t sufficient. If it was, why would I pursue something better? It’s not as good as it could be or should be. So, I got to pursue something better.
So, outer freedom, for example, is about wanting to make more money, whereas inner freedom is about being totally content with the amount of money that you currently have. Outer freedom is about improving your relationship, creating a great relationship. Inner freedom is about being grateful for the relationships that you have, seeing the beauty in each one. Outer freedom, in a nutshell, is about achieving everything you want, whereas inner freedom is about being perfectly content with what you have.
So, how is it possible to have both inner freedom and outer freedom simultaneously? How can you be completely content with what you have while maintaining the necessary drive and motivation to take massive action and improve upon what you have? Well, it starts with this awareness. It starts with the awareness that I can, you can, you have the ability to choose to love your life exactly as it is and take action each day from a place of love, from a place of abundance, from a place of my life is already perfect as it is, and as it changes, it will be perfect in each and every moment, as it improves, it will be perfect just in a different way.
If I go through adversity, again, which it’s going to happen, it’s virtually inevitable, as human beings, we’re all going to go through adversity. But even when you go through adversity, life is perfect in this moment and this moment and this moment and this moment. And during these great times and during these difficult times and during these mundane times, life is always perfect. That’s what I call the episode today. I don’t have a title for it yet. But life is always perfect, and that is a mindset. It’s subjective, completely. You could say your life’s terrible. I could say my life’s terrible. But your life’s amazing, I can say my life is amazing, or anything in between.
So, to be able to experience both outer freedom and inner freedom and to understand the contradictions between pursuing something that we perceive to be better and being completely happy and content with what we have exactly as it is, it’s only contradictory if you’re not aware of it or if you decide that it is. What I mean is you have that ability and I guess it’s what I just said, I don’t need to be redundant, which I know I am. I tend to repeat myself partly because I have brain damage and I forget what I already said, partly because, whatever.
But the point is that you have that ability to love your life as it is now, but you have to just decide that. You have to decide, and I put it in writing. This is an affirmation waiting to be had by you, waiting to be written, waiting to be crafted, waiting to be recited, that I love my life exactly as it is. I’m at peace with the things I can’t change while I take action each day to change the things that I can.
Let’s go back to the Serenity Prayer. It’s something about being a piece of what you have, change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference. That’s my butchered version of the Serenity Prayer. But that really is the answer is to make a conscious decision that I’m going to love the life I have while I create the life of my dreams. And I made that decision when I was, I don’t know, 20 years old, I think, when I had my car accident. That’s why that was the subtitle of my first book because one of my main mantras, affirmations, paradigms was always, I’m going to love the life I have exactly as it is.
When I was in the hospital was when I came up with this. I was in the hospital, told I would never walk again. And I decided if I never walk again, I am going to love my life exactly as it is. And specifically, I said, “Dad, I promise I’ll be the happiest and the most grateful person that you’ve ever met in a wheelchair because I will never allow my circumstances to define my emotional well-being. I will never decide that my life is good or bad based on my uncontrollable, unchangeable circumstances.” So, therefore, if I was in a wheelchair for the rest of my life and I couldn’t change that, I wouldn’t ever allow the unchangeable to affect my inner world, my mindset. So, I would love the life I had regardless of my circumstances.
And I want you to think about that, like I really do believe that when I went to the car accident and I asked myself, why am I going through this? I thought, oh, maybe this is to help other people. Maybe I’m supposed to take this challenge on, this adversity, this horrific adversity. I’ve got 11 broken bones. I’m in a hospital, told I’m never going to walk, and permanent brain damage. Maybe I’m going through this for the benefit of other people. So, maybe, my responsibility is to take this adversity head-on so that I can go share it with others. Hey, even if you’re in a hospital bed with broken bones, in pain, and being told you’re never going to walk again, that’s not an excuse to not be the happiest you’ve ever been.
So, what’s your adversity right now that you’re facing? Here’s the way to frame this that really wraps a bow on this episode. What limitations to your outer freedom are you allowing to impact to negatively affect your inner freedom? What circumstances in your outer world, your life are you allowing to cause you to feel unnecessarily painful, detrimental emotions – depression, PTSD, anger, sadness? And again, all of those emotions are valuable to a point. They’re valuable when you are consciously choosing to experience them or allowing yourself to experience them because you feel there is a benefit. If you lose someone, grieving is a valuable, important process. You don’t want to stuff your emotions down or pretend they’re not there or ignore them.
Emotional enlightenment is about feeling all of your emotions fully and extracting whatever value they’re presenting for you. For example, if you hurt someone’s feelings, and I talked about this in a recent episode, I think the episode I did on Evolving Toward Emotional Enlightenment. I used to be like a sociopath, meaning I didn’t feel any painful emotions. And so, I had very little empathy for those that did because I would go, what’s wrong? Like, just accept it. Move on. You can’t change it. Why are you allowing yourself to ruminate over this for days or weeks or months or hours or whatever? Like, get over it. So, I didn’t have any empathy. And that has been a conscious effort to develop empathy.
Well, the only way to develop empathy is to feel bad yourself. How can you feel for another person’s pain if you don’t feel pain? So, every emotion serves a purpose, but emotional enlightenment is about choosing the emotion that best serves you in any given moment. So, for you, personally, what are the aspects of the limitations of your outer freedom? I don’t have enough money, not happy in my marriage, or my spouse isn’t who I want them to be. I have regret in this area. I wish I would have done it differently. These are all limitations of your outer freedom that you are allowing, most likely unconsciously allowing. You’re not consciously choosing to be upset, most likely, but you’re allowing them to negatively impact or hinder or be detrimental in some way to your experience of life, how you feel.
So, it is absolutely possible for you to experience both types of freedom, even though they are contradictory. It is possible for you to love the life you have exactly as it is without your circumstances changing while you come from a place of love and abundance and excitement and passion to every day take action toward the circumstances that you want and enjoy every part of that process. Not to say, well, once I achieve this, then I’ll be happy, then I’ll feel successful, then I’ll feel worthy of love or joy. It’s not at some point in the future. It’s not that outer freedom leads to inner freedom. In fact, if anything, it’s the opposite.
Inner freedom, choosing, mastering your ability to choose how you feel in any given moment. That’s what leads to outer freedom because if you’re discouraged, if you’re depressed, it’s pretty hard to get motivated to work. If you lack confidence, you don’t feel confident, it’s pretty challenging to take on big scary goals.
That's why I say that if you had to choose between the two, I believe inner freedom trumps outer freedom all day long both because it enables you to get into an emotional state, to create the outer freedom you want, but also because when you would create the outer frame you want, you know how to enjoy it. When you learn how to love the life you have then when you create the life that you think is the life of your dreams and the newness wears off, that excitement wears off, that infatuation wears off, you settle back into who you were before you created the circumstances, and that was that same happy person. You go, "Man.” I want you to really hear this.
This is maybe the last part of the episode. You go, "Man,” or woman. You go, “I was so happy when my life sucked.” Right? You track with me here? “I was so happy when my life was difficult. When I was going through those tough times, I just decided I was going to be happy because that's what life was about. I decided that I was going to enjoy my life because I only had one. And, man, because I did it through difficult circumstances and I really made it a priority to be at peace with my circumstances, to love my life, to love myself, right, to be grateful for everything I had because I figured it out then. Now that I've improved my circumstances and I'm continuing to improve my circumstances, man, it's just easier to be happy. I was already happy. I was already happy with sh*tty circumstances. Now that I've taken the actions each and every day to improve my circumstances, wow, I'm still just happy old me just with better circumstances.”
And I really feel like that's kind of been my journey, you know, for me personally. And it can be your journey. That's why I'm doing this episode, right? I want that to be your journey where you make the decision today. Let today be the day. Let today be the day that you draw your line in the sand and you say, “My highest priority is to master inner freedom,” or you can call it emotional enlightenment, whatever resonates with you, “to master my ability, to choose how I feel, to choose the optimal emotional state in any given moment, regardless of what's going on around me.” That choice will enable you, I've experienced, to create everything else you want for your life. Learn how to love the life you have now while you create the life of your dreams. And then when you create the life of your dreams, you're going to enjoy it that much more. You're not going to fall back into an unhappy you that thought that the life you wanted was somewhere in the future, that it was based on circumstances. It's not. It's a mindset. It's a choice. It's a way of being, a way of thinking, a way of seeing your life. Choosing to be happy, choosing to love the life you have is available to you right now. That's the coolest part.
Improving circumstances, that takes a while, right? Think about that. I mean, it takes a while. Creating the life of your dreams, that takes a long time. Nobody does that. There's no overnight success. It takes a long time to create the life of your dreams. If you're not living what you would call the life of your dreams right now, if there are things you want to accomplish and achieve, it takes a while. It takes time to improve circumstances. But loving the life you have, being the happiest you've ever been, that's available to you right now without changing your circumstances. Now, I'm not saying you can snap your fingers and it's there. It takes reconditioning for sure. Meaning you've got to affirm things like this each day. You've got to change your perspective in writing, which is an affirmation. It's an improved perspective. Otherwise, why would you affirm something that was a worse-off perspective? Like, inherently an affirmation is an improved perspective, an enhanced perspective. You're not going to affirm something that like, “I'm going to be unhappy today like I'm going to feel worse today than I felt.” No. You don’t affirm that. You affirm, "My life is perfect as it is now. I can be the happiest I've ever been now, regardless of my circumstances.”
And if you need to use my example of being in the hospital and choosing to be the happiest I've ever been while I endured the most difficult circumstance in my life, then you can do the same. Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, when he was in a Nazi concentration camp, he decided that how he felt, that was the last of man's freedoms. That the choosing, in fact, the way he said it in the book, choosing one's attitude in any given set of circumstances is the last of man's freedom or freedoms, which is if I'm using my language on emotional enlightenment, being able to choose your emotional state, he said attitude. I would say choose your emotional state, but attitude, I mean, those go hand-in-hand. Perspective, paradigm, all of those are not exactly synonyms but they all are kind of describing that you choose how you see your life. You choose how you feel about your life based on how you see it. And if Viktor Frankl could do it in a concentration camp where he was practically starved to death every day and beaten and watching his friends die, if he could do it, we could do it.
Even in the most difficult circumstances in your life, you have the ability to choose to be the happiest, the most grateful at peace that you've ever been. That is inner freedom. That is emotional enlightenment. And even though it contradicts this idea of pursuing something better, which inherently says, “Well, wait, but my life isn't perfect.” No, it's okay if you look at every aspect of life is perfect. Like, my life is different today than it was a year ago or a month ago, right? But perfection is a perspective. So, you have that ability within you now. Changing your circumstances? Yes. Wake up every day with a healthy sense of urgency to create the best life you can imagine. But I would argue, more importantly, love the life that you have right now with all its drama, with all its imperfections, with all its challenges. Love your life. You have one. And you don't have to wait for it to be different to truly be at peace, to truly love the life that you're living now.
Goal achievers and members of the Miracle Morning community, I love you more than you know. I really, really do. Thanks for listening today and I will talk to you all next week.