Excerpt for Taking Charge: How to Assert Positive Control Over Your Own Emotions by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Taking Charge

How to assert positive control over your own emotions

Rod Martin, Jr.

Alternate Title: Instant Happiness

Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be”—Abraham Lincoln (How to Get What You Want, 1917, by Orison Marden, 74).

Smashwords Edition
September 2018
Published by Tharsis Highlands Publishing
Copyright 2018 Rod Martin, Jr.

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof in any form.


Cover photos via (CC0): Bald eagle-341898 Christoph, Fist through glass-1148029 WenPhotos, Lion-1209289 Free-Photos, and Elephants on Parched Earth-590020 Sponchia. Cover design by Rod Martin, Jr.

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.



PART 1—Mastering Your Own Emotions

Introduction—The secret to creating your own feelings

Chapter 1—5 Steps to Taking Charge

Chapter 2—How it All Works

PART 2—Barriers to Overcome

Chapter 3—Barrier to Taking Charge: Negative Attitude

Chapter 4—Barrier to Taking Charge: Laziness

Chapter 5—Barrier to Taking Charge: Blindness

Chapter 6—Barrier to Taking Charge: Reasonableness

Chapter 7—Barrier to Taking Charge: Shyness

Chapter 8—Barrier to Taking Charge: Weak-willed

Chapter 9—Barrier to Taking Charge: Resentment, Annoyance and Blame

Chapter 10—Barrier to Taking Charge: Irresponsibility

PART 3—What to Expect

Chapter 11—Walk the Walk

Chapter 12—Responsibility vs. Blame

Chapter 13—Love vs. Importance

Chapter 14—Humility vs. Failure

Chapter 15—Compassion vs. Sympathy

Chapter 16—Humble Confidence vs. Arrogance

Chapter 17—Ultimate Happiness—Giving Up Self-Concern



About Rod Martin, Jr.

Other Books by Rod Martin, Jr.

Connect with Rod Martin, Jr.


Part 1—Mastering Your Own Emotions


Introduction—The secret to creating your own feelings

Human happiness and human satisfaction must ultimately come from within oneself”—Dalai Lama (The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom, 1998, edited by Renuka Singh).

Every emotion we feel is either a reaction to circumstances or a conscious decision. And if we inspect our every reaction more closely, we find at the heart of each an unconscious decision to give up our own authority—to let circumstances rule our emotions.

Every emotion therefore depends on a decision.

Being happy is as easy as deciding to be happy.

That’s it. Yes, it’s that simple.

So, why do we need an entire book on the subject?

The remainder of this book is all about the ways we make this subject complicated, and how to cure those complications. Once we’ve made “deciding to be happy” easy, any amount of complications will disappear without effort. Getting there is not simple or easy, but it remains a valuable goal, nonetheless.

A discovery which changed my life

I’ve made several discoveries which changed my life. Two of the big ones happened to occur in traffic of all places. One of them I discuss in detail in my book, The Art of Forgiveness.

The other involved a moment in my life when all hope had seemed lost. I was out of work. My previous employer had not been able to make their payroll for several weeks, after several years as a thriving business. My bills had stacked up. My first wife had left without warning. I had not slept well in days and my health had declined sharply.

There I was, sitting in stop-and-go traffic on Laurel Canyon, winding through the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles. I was returning home from a job interview which had not gone well. My stress was at an all-time high. I felt as though I carried a world of troubles on my shoulders. My prospects looked dismal. And I felt miserable.

In a little while, I would be going to another job interview. As I sat there in traffic, I realized that, if given the choice, I would never hire me in my current state.

I had two options—either continue with my current attitude and die, or take full responsibility for my feelings and live. That kind of stark simplicity seemed to wake me up in a place that’s not easy to locate without help.

A lesson I had learned years earlier came back to me: “We are each responsible for our condition in life.”

I realized, peering into my car’s rear view mirror, that I looked grim. I needed a job and a smile might prove crucial in acquiring one. But I didn’t feel like smiling.

We are each responsible for our condition in life. This wisdom sat there in my mind sparkling like a long forgotten gem. At first, its bright happiness annoyed me.

How could I smile when every fiber of my being ached with failure, disease and death?

“Just smile, damn it!” I found myself whispering.

The smile I saw in the mirror looked fake—a thin layer of artificial happiness pasted over an oozing wound of darkness.

Another wisdom I had learned came back to me: Move like the person you want to be.

A happy person is relaxed and at ease. A smile comes effortlessly and feels natural.

So, what did I need to do to get a natural smile on my face?

“Laugh,” I said out loud.

I forced a laugh, but it felt weak and sounded raspy.

What if I laughed like the best laugh I had ever laughed—loud, with lots of air rushing forcefully from deep inside?

But then I became self-conscious of the other drivers around me. What would they think?

“Why should I care?” I asked myself. “It’s my life; not theirs.”

If my planned outburst invited ridicule, it would be their problem; not mine.

“But what if one of them is at my next job interview?” I felt a sudden terror grip me.

As slim as that possibility was, if it happened, I would merely answer their concerns with, “I was merely practicing creative problem solving.”

With no further objections, I immediately let out the biggest, loudest laugh I could muster.

Suddenly, my body felt flush with endorphins. Not only did I feel more relaxed, but the smile on my face looked incredibly natural and light. If colors could be used to indicate emotional state, I had gone from a dark, charcoal gray to brilliant, golden white in a matter of moments.

You might be wondering: Was this some lie I was telling myself? Was this some trick with which I was merely fooling myself?

The next appropriate question would be: What is reality?

Reality is what we make of it. If we simply cruise through life reacting to everything that comes our way, we will end up with an unfulfilling experience rife with misery and regret. If, on the other hand, we create our lives with humility, fearless generosity, and unconditional love, then reality is whatever we allow it to be.

So, was I lying to myself? No, not at all. I was finally taking responsibility and creating my feelings, rather than enslaving myself to someone else’s reality.

I had discovered another aspect of humble confidence—that attitude which had accompanied three miracles in traffic eight years earlier. I still had not fully understood what had happened during that earlier incident, but this day a new lesson had been learned.

Happiness is yours for the choosing

Even with a chemical imbalance that is driving you crazy, you get to choose. The license to play victim stops here. So, if you’re looking for permission to feel happy, stop waiting and give it to yourself.

A little earlier, we looked at an important question. Let’s look at it again.

If the solution is as simple as one word—decide—then why does anyone need a book like this? Quite simply, you don’t need this book, if you get the simplicity—if you understand it in its entirety.

Some, however, create all manner of self-sabotage—reasonable explanations to make things more complicated. The remainder of this book teaches you how to dismantle the barriers which you yourself create.

If you are the type of person who does not take responsibility easily, then this book may not be for you. You may as well stop reading now. If, on the other hand, you hunger to change your life direction, then read on. Such a hunger can sustain you until you are well-grounded in responsibility.

How intensely do you want happiness?

In late 2010, I read a Hindu article on a popular writer’s website. Retired engineer, C.V. Rajan, had written a piece called, “How to See God.” In that article, he related the story of a student and his teacher. When the student asked, “Sir, how can I see God?” the teacher escorted his pupil out into a nearby river until they both stood chest deep. Suddenly, the teacher shoved the student under the water and held him there despite fierce struggling. For several long moments, the Guru held his student, then just as suddenly let him go. The disciple rocketed upward, gasping for breath.

“How did you feel?” asked the teacher.

“Oh! I was so desperate to get my breath. I thought I would die!”

The Guru nodded at his student’s answer and finally gave his own answer to the student’s original question. “If you long for God the same way you longed to get your breath, then you will get a vision of God!”

In today’s fast-food, instant gratification world, our desires are all too frequently shallow and weak. Too quickly we become bored if the results are not instantaneous.

Can instant anything give you something of value? Can it give you lasting results?

The answer to both of these questions is “no” and “yes.” It depends on whether or not you desire the result with the same intensity you desire your next breath.

So, try this: Hold your breath. Right now. Don’t take a deep breath, first. Just hold it, wherever you are in your breathing cycle. Hold it until you feel uncomfortable. Then hold it some more. Keep holding it until your body starts to panic, convulsing to get that next gulp of oxygen. At this moment, look at your feelings. See the strength of those feelings and imprint that strength and intensity on your mind. This will become your battery—your power cell to energize your desire for happiness.

What’s ahead in the book

Nearly every chapter of this book includes one or more exercises you can perform to strengthen your happiness intention. Some exercises are purely physical. Some are mental and even spiritual. If you’re not yet ready for spiritual anything, then consider those exercises as purely thought training based on imagination. Don’t let belief stand in your way. By going through the motions, you exercise that part of yourself which needs to be strengthened. Belief is inconsequential. It’s the results that matter. By going through the motions, you will receive the benefits. But correct understanding can magnify your results and make it easier in the long run. So, remain humble and be willing to change your beliefs. No single belief ever needs to be permanent, unless it continues to work for you and does not become a barrier to further growth.

In the first chapter, we will look at a simple, 5-step set of actions for achieving instant happiness.

Then, we will look at how the physical nervous system and brain are connected to the mind, ego and spirit. From this package we create our own futures.

In Part 2, we look at barriers to happiness. These are short chapters focused on simple ideas and exercises you can do to remove those barriers.

In the remainder of the book, we tackle several areas that most of society has confused. This confusion has led to a great deal of unhappiness. By defining the terms and unraveling each mystery in turn, we help you to strengthen the attitudes that that make happiness possible, and to discard the attitudes that weaken you.

Every one of us is different. Every one of us has unique experiences that affect our abilities and emotions, because we let those experiences have a power over us. One of the most important lessons in this book involves increasing our awareness and aiming it at any barrier in our life. With increased awareness, we can spot our own unique barriers to happiness. With the other lessons we find here, we will have all the tools we need to remove those barriers and the sources which put them there.

Now, it’s time to build your happiness—the instant happiness which brought you here—and then to build the foundation that will make your ability to create instant happiness permanent.


Chapter 1—5 Steps to Taking Charge

When man is happy, he is in harmony with himself and his environment”—Oscar Wilde (The Soul of Man Under Socialism, 1895).

When you’ve become expert at everything in this book, you won’t need the following 5-step set of actions. Taking charge of your own emotions will become a one-step action. But just as a baby starts by crawling, then waddling and then walking, you will start with your own “baby steps.”

The 5-step set of actions in this chapter might not work for everyone, because some people have horribly messed up ideas about their own abilities and responsibilities. Some people will place huge barriers in the way and use them to justify giving up. The remainder of the book focuses on many of the more common impediments to you taking control of your life and your feelings.

While you’re doing these 5 steps, remember the intense need described in the introduction. Need each of these steps as strongly as you need your next breath. That should help you overcome any barriers that stand in the way, until you’ve had a chance to read the remainder of the book.

The 5 Steps

Any time you feel down, you can use the following steps to pick yourself back up emotionally.

  1. Recognize your current emotion.

  2. Prepare to kiss the feeling goodbye.

  3. Remember a time you felt at your happiest.

  4. Force your face to smile, and if it feels fake, recognize by how much.

  5. Laugh the biggest belly laugh ever.

Recognize your current emotion

Awareness of your current situation is always the best first step in making any change. Wherever you are is your “Point A” or beginning point. The more easily you can recognize from where you’re starting, the more easily you can leave that starting point.

For instance, imagine that you wake up in a dark room in which you’ve never been. If you simply get up and start walking, hoping you’ll find the door or the light switch, you could get several very nasty surprises. You don’t know what obstructions remain on the floor to trip you. You don’t know how level or complete the floor is, or even if there is a floor. Awareness becomes the first order of business. You cannot leave Point A if you don’t know anything about Point A. Understanding and appreciating your current emotion fulfills this step.

Prepare to kiss the feeling goodbye

Some actions and emotions can stick you to something you don’t want. They act as a glue to keep you locked in your greatest discomfort.

Knowing this can help you achieve your desired freedom from the uncomfortable emotion.

If an intense, negative attitude can keep you locked in a painful emotion, then a relaxed, positive attitude can free you. The best positive attitude is gratitude.

Be grateful that you have your painful emotion. It is your starting point. Be grateful that you have a starting point. Be grateful that you are breathing and alive. Be grateful that you have enough awareness to feel your pain. When you do this correctly, you will feel the grip of the painful emotion lessen a bit.

When you’re first starting out, sometimes it helps to have a dialog with the inanimate things over which you want more control. It might go something like this:

“Hello, sadness. Thank you so much for entering my life. You helped me to see things I could not otherwise have seen. But I don’t need you any more. Thanks for the kick in the butt. I’ll be on my way. Goodbye.”

Imagine that the painful emotion is standing right in front of you. Blow it a kiss. Then wave goodbye to it.

Remember a time you felt at your happiest

Whenever you want to leave one place, it’s best to have a destination in mind. Remember a time where happiness seemed effortless. If such a memory includes someone who has passed away, then you may be making things more difficult for yourself. Until you become expert at the techniques of instant happiness, you need to use the safest examples. Pick a time about which you remain happy. If that doesn’t seem to work, because all of your past happiness incidents are somehow lost and gone forever, then attempt to immerse yourself in that time. Pretend you have a time machine. Step in and go back to that time. Surround yourself with all of the happiness. If any thought or feeling of loss pushes its way into your party, then have your own policemen arrest the intruder and take it to a far off land.

The main idea, here, is to find the feeling and use that as a guidepost. That’s the direction you want to go—the feeling itself and nothing else. Once you’ve found the feeling, you don’t need the past or any of its details for this step. Your destination is not the past or any of the props associated with that feeling. You need merely to extract the feeling. Once you have it, do the next step.

Force your face to smile, and if it feels fake, recognize by how much

It helps to have a mirror for this step, but one is not required. You know what a smile is. Force your mouth into that position. If you have a mirror, look at yourself. Does it look ridiculous? If it does, that’s good. Feel the humor of such a fake smile.

How fake is the smile? In your mind, imagine you have a tape measure to gauge exactly how far your current smile is from a real, heartfelt grin.

So far, you’ve locked in on your starting position, prepared yourself to leave, located your destination and assessed the distance you have to travel. Next, you give it the final push—the explosion that sends you hurtling toward happiness.

Laugh the biggest belly laugh ever

Laugh from deep within your belly. Force out the sound, loud and clear. If you’re inside, shake the walls with your laughter. If you’re outside, start an earthquake with it. Don’t be shy. Remember how strongly you want your next breath. Laugh with the same intensity.

If you do this correctly, your body will remember. The shaking of your shoulders, the rapid exhaling with each laugh, the vibration—your body will recognize the irrefutable signs of happiness. With this overwhelming evidence of happiness, your body will start to change its chemistry to match the new feeling.

You have led your body by example. Creating happiness is this simple. You decide, you move in that direction and then you arrive. That’s the secret. It’s really no more complex than that. Everything that seems to make it more complex is merely an old bad habit that you need to recognize and banish.


Chapter 2—How it All Works

If your happiness depends on what somebody else does, I guess you do have a problem”—Richard Bach (Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, 1977).

Our emotions are a part of a complex system of chemicals, moving parts, energy fields, and even spirit. The following gives us a brief overview of this complex system and how many of its parts fit together.

The primitive brain

Within our own physical brain resides a structure called the amygdala. This biochemical device is hardwired to produce rapid results. In fact, it is part of a rapid response system enabling our bodies either to fight an opponent or to flee a dangerous foe.

While writing a book for one of my many customers, my research turned up a fact that opened my eyes to a grave danger facing us all. I discovered that chronic stress tends to favor the amygdala and to shut down the prefrontal cortex—where the heavy thinking happens.

With the news media and governments creating more and more things to fear, the average intelligence of humans in our modern society is slipping. This is a natural reaction to the chronic stress being forced on all of us.

With government actions like mandatory vaccination in the face of overwhelming proof of conflicts of interest, dangers, corruption in the government, and collusion with pharmaceutical corporations, such mandates only create more stress and less intelligence. The fact that a generation ago, autism and other, similar disorders were 1-in-10,000 (rare), and that today they are 1-in-50 (common), only heightens the level of stress within our society as a whole. More parents are suffering damaged children. The skyrocketing rates of damage are accompanying skyrocketing vaccination schedules—from three or four when I was a child to many dozens, now, and increasing with each passing year.

While some defendants of vaccination cry, “correlation does not prove causation,” it must be remembered that it doesn’t disprove it either. When every family has a vaccine-injured child, then stress levels of the entire nation will be catastrophic and dangerous. More and more, the amygdala will take control of our actions, leading to more and more thoughtless reactions, and government reprisals.

The evolved brain

Our intelligence center—the prefrontal cortex—allows us to think things through, so long as the amygdala isn’t hogging the scene.

Naturally, the best way to help ensure this is to practice stress relief techniques. This gives the evolved brain a chance to do what it does best—think of better solutions than “fight or flight.”

Stress and the de-evolution of modern man

Upcoming stressful events could destroy civilization and lead to widespread enslavement. For instance, the United States is now more than $18 Trillion in debt, and getting deeper. This is unsustainable. At some point in the future, the debt will become so big that the dollar will collapse.

Increasingly, the United States is waging war, escalating the stress levels in other nations. More and more Americans are being brought home in caskets, killed in wars that are meant only to make corporations richer, and globalists more powerful.

We can let such events affect our emotions, or we can rise above such external stimuli and take control of our own emotions. It’s really our choice.

Chemical imbalances and physical feelings

The human body is a chemical machine. When some chemicals are produced in too great a quantity, the body becomes chemically imbalanced. This tends to affect the emotions of the individual.

In our favor, we can override such chemical imbalances without the need for prescription drugs and other treatments which frequently do more damage than good.

Diet can also affect the chemical imbalances. For instance, drinking too much coffee can create a depletion of vitamin B and can lead to nervous twitches, irritability, nervousness and insomnia. Even this can be overcome with the right attitude. Of course, injuring the body with excessive coffee, or other sources of caffeine, should be stopped. Whether or not to drink coffee, or to consume any substance, is a matter of choice and moderation. Choose well.

Introduction to the mind

We are each responsible for our own condition. When we embrace this idea and attitude, we empower ourselves to change things for the better.

The mind is superior to the brain, and the brain is superior to the body as a whole. Very little research has been done on the mind itself. We know a great deal about the effects of the mind—thinking and behavior. But we know very little about the mind as a source of thought. In fact, most scientists likely think the mind is the brain. For most people, this would be true. They only think with their physical brain. A rare few have discovered methods for thinking with their mind, instead of the brain.

What’s the difference? To most any observer, any differences would not be apparent. But the result is that the person who thinks with the mind, instead of the brain, can maintain far greater control. The brain is vulnerable to all manner of physical and chemical assaults. The mind is not.

Like any skill, practice increases our ability to use this resource. The primary difficulty is in being able to tell the difference between brain thought and mind thought.

Describing this is not easy, because we are dealing with a non-physical part of life for which words were never developed. For now, the only way to approach the mind is by feeling our way.

Awareness vs. Attention

Most people confuse these two—awareness and attention. They are not the same thing, especially when developing our abilities to use our minds, instead of our brains.

Awareness usually uses the brain. This is where conscious thought occurs. But the mind can also create conscious thought; this is far more rare.

Attention, on the other hand, is typically an unconscious feeling which tends to drive conscious thought in one direction or another. Attention is, in a very real sense, the active direction of your life. Master your attention, and you will have taken control over the direction of your life.

Think of awareness and attention as two vectors, each pointing in a different direction. With training and practice, you can control both so that they come into harmony and point in the same direction.

Remember: awareness is conscious thought; attention is subconscious feeling.

Spirit, ego and karma

Some who read this book might not be ready for this section. That’s okay. You can skip this section and still gain benefit from the remainder of the book.

Just as the brain is superior to the body as a whole, and the mind is superior to the brain, the spirit (true self) is superior to the mind.

Spirit is the non-physical self—a part of the whole which was, and is, source of the physical universe.

Ego, on the other hand, is a physical, false self. This is the separate self that we tend to create because we remain in fear of threats, and desirous of pleasures. Buddhists call this “ignorance.” Christ called this the “First” which would become last. Ego is made up of dichotomies. This was infamously portrayed in the Bible’s book, Genesis, with the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. But ego is much more than merely this one dichotomy. It includes,

  • Right—wrong,

  • Confidence—doubt,

  • Wisdom—stupidity,

  • Compassion—indifference,

  • Generosity—selfishness,

  • Love—self-concern,

  • Perpetrator—victim,

  • And many other dichotomies.

Within ego, there are opposing energies. This manifests itself quite often as karma. When we are bad, we want to learn not to be bad, so we experience the bad directed toward ourselves in order to wake up to that form of evil. Being resentful only makes the “bad” karma persist. Instead, if we are grateful, we release the bad karma.

We need to remain aware of our current feelings. This awareness helps to guide us.

We need to be grateful for every annoyance. Awareness is critical. If we don’t know that an annoyance has occurred, we cannot follow this step. Why gratitude? For one thing, it releases the bad karma we created. For another, it empowers us by putting us in control. And gratitude feels much better than resentment.


Part 2—Barriers to Overcome


Chapter 3—Barrier to Taking Charge: Negative Attitude

No matter how dull, or how mean, or how wise a man is, he feels that happiness is his indisputable right”—Helen Keller (Optimism, 1903).

Perhaps the most important complication to tackle is the negative attitude.

Negative thoughts, by themselves, are not bad. In fact, we should welcome all of our thoughts. Negative thoughts help us to consider all options and possibilities. Without that freedom, we remain blind in certain areas.

The first objective with discovering negative thoughts is to convert them to positive ones. The second objective with negative thoughts is to trace them back to their source in the feeling attitude which gave them birth. Once found, a negative attitude should also be converted to a positive one.

The conscious thought is only the symptom. The subconscious feeling attitude is the active source or cause. And within your whole being, we are the relative “ultimate” cause. For many of us, there is a superior, ultimate cause, and many of us call that “God” or “Source.”

What Kind of Negative Attitude?

There are likely an infinite number of possibilities. But once we know how to tackle one negative attitude, it should prove easy to master any other negative attitude we encounter.

For instance, we may feel it’s impossible or silly to control our own feelings. A psychiatrist may have told us that we’re suffering from a mental illness. Or a family member may have convinced us that we’re crazy and beyond all help.

No matter where a negative attitude comes from, it’s not us.


Worry is a sin on multiple levels. This is the “mother” of all negative attitudes. Worry tends to destroy the immune system, creates ulcers, premature graying of hair and opens the body to all manner of disease. Worry tends to miss opportunities, because it cannot see a positive outcome.

Many years ago, I read an article which described a rare group of individuals who required little or no sleep. These people frequently get two hours sleep a night, and sometimes even zero sleep, and they thrive. A psychological profile of these uncommon people showed that they had an extremely low worry profile. Worry was not a part of their lifestyle.

The late actor, Bill Bixby, was one of these exceptional folks. He spent his nights working on projects which interested him. The owner of one of my favorite restaurants—Canard de Bombay—in Los Angeles was also one of these unique individuals. While his wife and daughter slept, he frequently read or studied. He too would sometimes skip sleep altogether. During the day, he cooked delightful Indian dishes for his customers.

A Simple Trick

One easy way to deflate a negative attitude is to consider its opposite. Someone may call us “crazy,” and then we consider the notion that we are the sanest person in the universe. This may have the danger of inflating our ego, but that is a minor risk for a large, short-term gain. We can always convert ego’s assessment into something more positive, later.

Write a list of every worry you’ve ever had. Beside each item, write down its opposite.


Chapter 4—Barrier to Taking Charge: Laziness

If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or objects”—Albert Einstein (Einstein: A Centenary Volume by A.P. French (1980), p. 32).

Lazy? Deciding is a conscious effort, at least when we’re starting out. Later, it becomes effortless, but only because we’ve let go of a lot of heavy weights.

Our lives are filled with laziness. All too frequently, we don’t want to take the time to investigate a possibility or option. We justify our laziness by declaring an idea “crazy” or “not worth our time.”


Start a journal. I recommend making it in a bound notebook of some kind. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Keep it with you and write down every emotion you experience during the day. Write down exactly what you feel. Where are the feelings the strongest—stomach, heart, shoulders, neck, head, temples? The greater the detail, the better. If you’re driving or involved in some other activity when an emotion strikes, jot down your observations at the next, earliest convenience. Include the date and time where possible. Don’t go back and read anything you’ve written until the end of this exercise. Keep this journal for a week.

After the week is up, find a quiet time to read through what you’ve written. As you read, notice what you are feeling with each description. Do some of the same feelings come back to you? Are any of them as strong as before? If not, how strong are they as you read?

One objective of this exercise is to strengthen your skills of observation. Another is to help you overcome the natural laziness with which most of us grow up.


Chapter 5—Barrier to Taking Charge: Blindness

It is very important to generate a good attitude, a good heart, as much as possible. From this, happiness in both the short term and the long term for both yourself and others will come”—Dalai Lama (Kindness, Clarity, and Insight, 1984).

Even if our physical eyes have 20–20 vision, we can still be blind. How? By deciding not to look. Arrogance, for instance, is a simple lack of awareness; it is a decision that we already know something and have no need to look. Even the most intelligent of humans can be struck down by this malady. Sometimes, it is because of that very intelligence that a person chooses to be blind. Arrogance does not think it is blind. In fact, when we use arrogance, we feel as though we can see all that needs to be seen. And this is the lie that traps us.


Consider opposing beliefs.

If you believe in the “climate change” story proposed by the United Nations, governments, NASA, and many scientists, consider the opposing viewpoint. When I did this, I ended up switching my beliefs. I found too much evidence that proved me wrong.

Take any topic about which you feel passionately, and about which there is some opposition, and take the opposing position. Look at it from their viewpoint. Understand that viewpoint from their viewpoint—not merely from your own viewpoint finding fault with theirs.

Make a list of all your objections to their viewpoint. Take each one and research to find what they say about it. Consider the idea that they are right and you are wrong. In what universe could they be right?


Chapter 6—Barrier to Taking Charge: Reasonableness

Since I consider it a duty to myself and to others to be happy, I escape a misery worse than any physical deprivation”—Helen Keller (Optimism, 1903).

There are a few definitions of reason involved here. One is a “reason” for doing something—basis, motivation or rationale.

Another definition involves the higher faculties of the mind—critical thinking.

Both of these can get in the way. How? Consider the idea of playing the piano, if you’ve never learned, or painting a painting, even if you’ve never touched a paintbrush. Think of some activity or skill you would never consider doing. Look at all the reasons you have for not doing them. Write down those reasons.

After you’ve done this, ask yourself if deciding your own emotion goes against reason. Write down every reason for every emotion you can remember.

In a war, being reasonable can get us killed. Saying that something cannot be done simply because we cannot think of a way to do it is the shallowest form of reasonableness. When the very idea of coming up with solutions matters the most, all of the reasons why it cannot be done don’t matter one iota. While one person is busy saying why something cannot be done, another person may well be ignoring them while they simply get it done.

This is when reason becomes an impediment. Reason is only as good as the data upon which it is based. But there is a large body of unknowns beyond our awareness. There are a great many possibilities that have not yet been explored. Reason cannot work without at least considering these unknowns and these possibilities. In other words, reason works best when it works in cooperation with imagination to ponder the possible unknowns that may be out there.


Write down a list of ten things you think are impossible for you to do.

When you’re done with the list, for each item write a description of something which would make it possible.


Chapter 7—Barrier to Taking Charge: Shyness

In order to live free and happily, you must sacrifice boredom. It is not always an easy sacrifice”—Richard Bach (Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, 1977).

Shyness is a form of selfishness.

If this claim shocks you, consider the idea that the shy person is self-concerned—they are worried about what other people will think. They are thinking and feeling about themselves. Their shyness is crippling them—preventing them from moving forward and from being of service.

What other people think about our personal decisions is irrelevant. The moment we overcome our own shyness, we are taking responsibility and no longer being self-concerned.

When Dr. Jeffrey Schaler won the 2006 Thomas Szasz Award, he gave a speech on the topic of “mental illness.” He quoted Thomas Szasz, “The only true political virtue is obedience to authority, and the only true political sin is independence.” He went on to criticize psychiatry for inventing “mental illness” as a method of controlling individuals. Schaler stated quite strongly that every disease in psychiatry’s manual of mental disorders is “invented;” yet “every disease listed in a pathology textbook was discovered.” See the difference?

Schaler went on to say, “It takes one person to have a real disease. It takes two people to have a mental illness. If you’re alone on an island, you could develop a real disease, like cancer or heart disease. But you cannot develop a mental illness such as hyperactivity or schizophrenia. This is because mental illness is always diagnosed on the basis of some sort of social conflict. When people do something that others find objectionable, they can be diagnosed as mentally ill. If the person doing the diagnosing is more powerful than the person diagnosed, then there is trouble. In this sense, the diagnosis of ‘mental illness’ is always a weapon.”

So, if anyone thinks we’re crazy for taking control of our own life, then they are not our friend; they are our enemy. For they have aimed an insidious weapon in our direction. They are using ego to put us in our place—to silence our creativity, and to shackle our responsibility.

With shyness, we are giving in to the power of others by giving up our own power.


Take an hour or so to go to a crowded place, like a mall or farmer’s market. While you walk amongst the crowds of people, look at the shapes of their noses. It could just as easily be their ears, but sometimes long hair will hide the ears. Simply glance at the nose, taking note of its relative size and shape, then move on to the next person. Don’t stare at any one person. We don’t want to make anyone else uncomfortable with this exercise.

You will know that you’re done when you feel a change deep within you. This should take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.


Chapter 8—Barrier to Taking Charge: Weak-willed

The happiness of men consists in life. And life is in labor”—Leo Tolstoy (What Is To Be Done? 1886, Chap. XXXVIII, as translated in The Novels and Other Works of Lyof N. Tolstoï, 1902, edited by Nathan Haskell Dole, p. 259).

Procrastination is one habit people use to stop them from taking action. For them, holding off feels comfortable. Taking action feels uncomfortable. The effort to set about accomplishing something creates a low level pain deep inside.

Letting any discomfort dissuade us from deciding is a sign of being weak-willed.

We should ask ourselves if we want to look back in 50 years and see that we have accomplished nothing with our lives. Let ourselves feel what that is like. Let the discomfort of that add energy to our desire to take control of our lives and our feelings.


Make a list of everything you’ve been putting off. Write it down and post the list someplace at home where it is prominent—where you will easily see it every day. Take the easiest item on the list and decide to do it today, if there’s time. If you’re starting this exercise at bed time, then decide to do it tomorrow. From that day forward, do at least one of the items on your list until you are done. As you complete each item, cross it off the list.


Chapter 9—Barrier to Taking Charge: Resentment, Annoyance and Blame

A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships”—Helen Keller (The Simplest Way to be Happy, 1933).

Blaming our feelings on others or on circumstances is, at the very least, counterproductive. It doesn’t help.

Whenever we blame someone else, we are giving our own power to them. Think about that very carefully. When we give our power away, we are left powerless. When we are powerless, we become an easy victim.

Picture in your mind the idea that with every blame that passes between your lips, you are vomiting up your power, making you weaker and weaker.

The more we focus on things to blame, the more we have things to blame. There is an old saying: Whatever we focus our attention on is what we tend to get more of.

Sometimes blame feels “good” to those who otherwise feel powerless. But this is a downward spiral. Whenever we blame someone or something else, we are crippling our own self.

Resenting bad things that happen to us feels “natural.” If we are hurt, or one of our loved ones is injured or killed, it is certainly not something to celebrate. But while we don’t want to celebrate the hurt, there are many things to celebrate. Be grateful that those who have died were ever in our life. Their time here was something to be celebrated. Be grateful that we are still breathing. Find other things about which to be grateful.

Instead of focusing our attention on an annoyance, be grateful for something about it. If nothing else, be grateful for the challenge it gives us to rise above petty resentments.


Write down a list of every resentment you’ve ever felt. Write down not only the circumstances, but the reasons for your resentment. Include every annoyance and everyone you blame for something.

Sometimes it can prove quite therapeutic just to make such a list. But keep this list; you will be needing it in the next exercise.


Chapter 10—Barrier to Taking Charge: Irresponsibility

The root of happiness is altruism — the wish to be of service to others”—Dalai Lama (The Dalai Lama at Harvard: Lectures on the Buddhist Path to Peace, 1988, by Jeffrey Hopkins).

Not taking responsibility is not the same thing as not taking the blame.

Blame is a negative attitude of shifting a burden to someone else so that they suffer.

Responsibility is a positive attitude of taking the driver’s seat for the benefit of all.

Some professionals have gone so far as to tell their patients that they are not responsible for their actions or feelings. This is criminal on their part. They are, in a very real sense, cutting the legs out from under their patients.

Responsibility is all about empowerment. The more we take on, the more powerful we become. Don’t confuse this power with selfish need. The more self-concerned we are, the less capable we become of taking responsibility. Self-concern is in the direction of giving up power—becoming more vulnerable. Responsibility is all about giving up self-concern for the benefit of others. This doesn’t mean that we cannot benefit. Quite the contrary.

Sometimes, responsibility goes beyond mere physical connections. In fact, quite often our connection to an area of responsibility can be quite spiritual. This first occurred to me in rush-hour traffic on Wilshire Boulevard, in Los Angeles, 1977. Six times within two minutes, drivers turned their cars toward mine, threatening my safety and theirs. Only my quick response kept a collision from happening each time. After the sixth time, my frustration had built to rage. Then something remarkable happened. I realized that I had created their actions. By my focus on frustration, I was not only creating that frustration within my own mind, but also creating the things toward which I was aiming my frustration. When I was willing to take that level of responsibility, other miracles happened. I discuss them in detail in my book, The Art of Forgiveness.

The key, here, is that responsibility allowed me to give up all self-concern and to cease being a victim. When we do that, we open the door to limitless capabilities.


Take the list you created in the previous chapter and write down, in detail, how you were responsible for each incident you listed. If you get stuck on any one item, simply brainstorm an answer by writing down the first thing that comes into your mind, no matter how crazy it might seem. Keep your answers directed toward “how you were responsible” for each incident. And keep in mind the truer definition of responsibility—that of a positive attitude, taking the driver’s seat for the benefit of all.


Part 3—What to Expect


Chapter 11—Walk the Walk

Happiness is not a goal, it is a by-product”—Eleanor Roosevelt (You Learn by Living, 1960, p. 95).

Some world-renowned coaches recommend “walking the walk.” What does this mean? It means that if we want to be happy, walk happy. If we want to be rich, walk rich. If we want to be a powerful leader, then walk as if we are a powerful leader.

Many coaches will tell us, don’t compare ourselves to others. That will kill our joy as fast as anything, they say. The following are things on which we should not dwell:

  • I’m not as rich as he is.

  • His muscles are bigger than mine.

  • He has more college degrees than I do.

  • His wife is prettier than mine.

  • He has more awards.

  • His car is more expensive than mine.

And, of course, we can switch gender in each of these and come up with an extended list covering the other half of society.

But the wisdom of not comparing ourselves to others is only half true. Don’t compare the Be and the Have of others to our own Beingness and Havingness. However, we should compare the Do. What are the successful ones doing that we are not doing? Find a successful person and watch what they do. Practice it. Act the part. Naturally, this isn’t the entire solution, but it’s frequently the easiest to implement. It also can produce the greatest return on our investment of time and energy spent.

Physical Happiness

If we’re ill, overweight or out of shape, then we will find it increasingly more difficult to be happy. We don’t have to be healthy and in shape to be happy, but they help.

One added benefit of exercise is the biochemical change within our bodies that gives us a natural high. If we haven’t exercised in awhile, start out slow. Our ego may want us to do too much. Instead, enjoy the slow pace. We should take the time to reacquaint ourselves with our bodies. Build up slowly. Write a plan. If we’re really out of shape, start with walking. Increase the duration of walking over the first few weeks. Then add short stretches of jogging. The last thing we want to do is to push too fast, too soon, and injure ourselves. Include warm-up and cool-down stretches.

If we have a serious illness, know that nature has ways of healing. Our modern society has far too many chemicals that destroy the body’s health and ability to respond.

Regrettably, the Medical Industry was drastically altered in the early 1900s in favor of unnatural, petrochemical drugs. Know this: our bodies will have a harder time staying healthy if we keep poisoning them. Modern doctors don’t know what they’re doing. They’ve been taught a great deal, but some of it is wrong and it’s all they have been taught.

Most doctors, for instance, don’t know what’s in the vaccines they give their patients. They don’t know that many vaccines and medicines are fast-tracked through the approval process, forcing the final testing phase into the public-at-large. If too many people die, then the pharmaceutical companies have to withdraw their new medicine. Perhaps, one day, their murder by greed will be seen for what it is.

Even today, most flu vaccines contain the heavy-metal toxin, mercury. All flu vaccines are not proven effective, because the strains change each season and it takes months to test a vaccine for efficacy. Why is it being promoted so actively? Because it is potentially the most lucrative single product for vaccine manufacturers—perhaps as much as 15-times the profits from all other vaccines combined.

There are even cures for cancer, but the Medical Industry has made them illegal. The reason? They say that the cures are “untested.” But the Medical Industry won’t test them, because those cures cannot be patented. In other words, they care more about the money than the health of their patients. This should not be surprising to us, because corporations, by their very nature, are built to be selfish. Their first responsibility, by law, is to their stockholders—not to their customers.

Though our own personal physician may care, the Medical Industry as a whole hopes that we get sick and have to remain on one of their disease maintenance programs for the remainder of our lives. At stockholder meetings, do they cheer at the number of lives saved? No. They cheer at the number of units sold. They do not have our happiness or health in mind. Be warned!

Recommendation: We should each see our own physician only in an emergency. Leave their care as soon as we are able. Modern doctors are not trained in health maintenance; only in disease maintenance.

Food—We are what we eat

Each person eats several hundred pounds of food every year—some people as much as a full ton. The food we eat may contain some nutrients and an incredible quantity of toxins, carcinogens and other threats to health. Yet today’s modern doctors learn almost nothing about nutrition. Please read that last sentence again and let it sink in. The one ingredient that has the greatest potential effect on a person’s health, the doctor of today knows almost nothing about. The disconnect here could be enough to make someone go crazy. Are medical doctors that stupid? Even so, many of today’s doctors will ridicule anyone who talks about nutrition. It seems clear, most medical doctors ridicule the idea that food might have something to do with health. What planet do they live on?

And the medical profession is getting worse. The older doctors are starting to notice differences in today’s medical education and the graduates which it churns out. Dr. Russell Blaylock, a renowned neurosurgeon, stated that today’s doctors are being trained to be more arrogant and not to listen to their patients. Their egos are being elevated in medical school so that patients will have to listen to them or leave. In my forty-plus years choosing my own health care, I’ve noticed this shift as well. The doctors trained before the 80s were typically more cordial and patient. They listened. The doctors trained in the 90s and beyond have ridiculed, given anti-psychotics for attempting to tell the doctor more about the patient, and chastised the patient for writing too much on their health questionnaire. Yes, this happened to me. This last incident was at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona.

What does this have to do with happiness? Plenty! It means that we need to take responsibility for our own health and not to depend on today’s Medical Industry professional. With that much arrogance going on, if they get it wrong, we are the ones who pay for their mistakes. In their own conceited mind, they make no mistakes; they are blind to that reality. And when correction of such mistakes can save our lives, ignoring these mistake can kill us.

On the other side of the health equation, food production has been compromised.

Today’s farming techniques are destroying the nutrients in our food. Genetically modified organisms have not been thoroughly tested and are now proving dangerous to our health. America’s government agency—the FDA—merely takes the word of the manufacturers, because many of the FDA executives used to work for the very same manufacturers. This is a clear conflict of interest.

For years, wheat farmers have been dowsing their fields with Monsanto’s Roundup just before harvest. Why? To dry out the wheat so it’s easier to harvest more. But doesn’t this poison the wheat? If you get ill eating bread at a restaurant, but are perfectly okay after eating homemade bread from naturally grown wheat, then this may be the reason. This is not a widely known procedure—not outside of wheat farming circles. Consumers are just now starting to discover this dark secret.

GMO crops typically fall into two categories: herbicide-resistant and pesticide-producing. Farmers have found that the herbicide-resistant strains require more and more spraying, because weeds have also become resistant to herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup. This means that the food is becoming more and more saturated with the highly toxic glyphosate, a known carcinogen.

For those crops which produce their own pesticide, you have to wonder what the drawbacks might be from consuming fruits and vegetables which create their own pesticide poisons. Yum! How much poison can the body take?

One European team of researchers, led by Dr. Seralini, found that Monsanto’s GMO corn, and its Roundup herbicide, gave mice huge cancerous tumors, extreme allergies, renal failure and sterility. Monsanto tried to have the study discredited. They had one of their own executives become an editor at the scientific journal—the place which published two papers critical of Monsanto and their products. The tactic backfired. Monsanto only made more of the scientific community critically aware of their unethical tactics. And the Seralini paper was republished under even more rigorous review to ensure no one could ever say the study was flawed.

Recommendation: Stop eating all packaged food and GMO products. Stop eating processed sugar. Stop eating industrial beef, chicken and fish. Eat natural, organic fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, fish, chicken and beef.

Sunlight and Vitamin D

Sunlight has been maligned by “officials” for years. They say that we could get skin cancer from too much exposure. Certainly that’s possible, but have they done thorough studies on the actual causes of skin cancer? Is it the sunlight, or is it the chemicals we put on and in our bodies?

The body needs the vitamin D created under the sun’s UV-B rays. Sunscreen is frequently made of petrochemicals and other toxins. And if we eat food peppered with similar toxins, then our body becomes a walking chemical factory. Ultraviolet rays on such chemicals have not been thoroughly tested. Will skin cancer occur if we are entirely free of the modern chemicals that have been added to foods, medicines and balms for the skin?

According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, Vitamin D is essential for good immune function. In other words, we can become ill more easily simply because we’re not getting enough sun or blocking that sunlight with chemicals. Processed foods also tend to have the herbicide glyphosate which interferes with the proper utilization of Vitamin D. And the United Nations has declared Monsanto’s glyphosate to be a carcinogen.

Also, a few minutes of sun across large parts of our bodies, near noon, will help to gain the greatest exposure to UV-B. Late in the day, the helpful UV-B rays are largely blocked by the atmosphere and the more harmful UV-A rays are not.

Recommend: Get a modest amount of sunlight near noon, each day. If sunlight is scarce, because of the weather, then use D supplements or eat foods rich in vitamin D, like,

  • cod liver oil

  • fish (trout, smoked salmon, swordfish, salmon, mackerel, halibut, herring, sardine and others)

  • mushrooms (portabello, maitake, morel, chanterelle and others)

  • tofu

Beyond health—owning our own space

Think about space for a moment. I’m talking about the space in your room, the space between your ears, and even outer space—where all the planets, suns, and remainder of the universe reside.

Consider the idea of too much space. For instance, imagine standing in a valley and off in the distance a large dam has burst. A wall of water is rushing our way and we have several miles to go in either direction to reach safety—one set of hills or the other. If we are on foot, that may be too much space and too little time for us to reach safety.

Now, consider the idea of too little space. We wake up squatting, our shoulders touch the walls on either side, our bent head touches the wall in front, and our buttocks touch the wall behind us. When we try to sit up, we find that the ceiling is only inches above. Claustrophobia anyone? That’s too little space.

I remember reading years ago how the times of runners on indoor tracks were invariably longer than the times of runners on outdoor tracks. Same runners, too. I wondered why this would be. Then it struck me that our consideration of space might be a key factor.

What if a runner could “feel” the space outside the indoor track? Could that alone improve their running times? What if they could “feel” the countryside, the sky, the nearby mountains, the skyscrapers in the city’s urban center, and more? What do I mean by this?

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