Is How I Respond More Important than What Happens to Me?
What if changing our lives from a mess to a miracle is as easy as seeing our world in a different way? Where do we get the courage to let go of being a victim and remember our choice to be here right now? The easiest place to start is by choosing how we react to each situation life gives us. I have the chance today to choose my reaction so I don't have to simply be a function of what happens to me, but I can actually choose how I respond to life.
Now, this might sound like a really simple truth, and yet it's profound. It makes a huge difference for me.
How I Respond is More Important than What Happens to Me!
I originally tried to do this as a live stream video on Facebook, YouTube and Twitch the day I filmed the video for this and I started hearing some echoing and feedback from Facebook. Now, do I choose to flip out and scream, “Oh my God, what the F is wrong with Facebook? I can't believe this.” For most of my life this was how I did respond to any little thing not going my way!
While I didn't choose to have the error happen when I started filming the video that led to this post, I did get to choose how I respond to it as I look over and say, “Okay, well, let's get this fixed” which led to the problem disappearing quickly with no aggravation. Still two months later when this has finally been transcribed and put into a blog post, the results of my actions that day made a difference for what I have to share here with you today!
Now, this sounds pretty easy in that situation, but what about when life throws something more challenging?
What about when a driver honks their horn at me?
Do I remember I have a choice in the heat of the moment or do immediately start retaliating?
When someone says something nasty to my face or insults me, do I remember I have a choice to respond at a level that I want to receive back?
If someone says something nasty to me, and I respond back with something nasty, I'm asking to get more of that back.
Focusing on what I have a choice about
What I've learned today is that life is really good if I focus on what I have a choice about, which is my response. I give up trying to control what I don't have as much of a choice about, that's what happens to me.
When I give up trying to act like I've got control, then I don't have to complain about all the stuff that happens to me. I'll give you an example from this morning of what you might say is life happening to me. Obviously, it's a reflection of my previous choice and response, but so is everything else and everyone else's life.
I looked at my bank account when I filmed this video which showed I had $25,000 in cash. You might think, “Wow, I'd be set for all year with that.” In college I would've told you that I'd be able to live for several years on that. After the IRS took their payment of $14,000, that left $9,000, after Chase takes a month or so of expenses, after the US government takes thousands of dollars for student loans, and after everyone else takes their payment, I would have had close to zero in all of my accounts in cash.
This kind of thing where a lot of us look at our bank account and we go into these automatic fear responses. We don't even think, we all of a sudden say, “All right, I've got to work more. I've got to go on overtime,” or we start criticizing, “the IRS is taking so much money. If this person hadn’t done this, then I would have more money.”
This is often the situation in my past where I would've gone into an unconscious response. I would've simply gone into criticism, looked at the world and tried to tear down the world to make myself feel better, and say, “Look, well, everyone else’s screwed me over, so I'm not going to have any money now and that's everyone else's fault.”
To fix this little problem, I decided to sell my Dash masternode which I bought for $11,000 and sold for $87,000. Today it would be worth more than double that but the fact remains I got through the uncertainty just fine. Again.
How to respond and ask the right questions
I looked at this on the day I filmed the video and thought more about how do I want to respond to this?
What can I learn from this?
What can I do to make this an opportunity for me to have a more helpful business?
As I looked at the money I started thinking about, “Well, what can I do to generate some more income?”
Then, I started asking better questions.
What can I do to generate more income in a way that I will actually enjoy doing it?
What can I do to generate income at a rate that other people will be happy to pay, and yet that I will be happy to receive?
How do I consider everyone else's best interest as it goes for my income?
I kept asking more and more questions.
How can I be of better service today to the people I'm working with online?
In seeing my income, I was motivated to look at my business and look at my choices, and see, “Well, Jerry, people have really enjoyed scheduling calls with you in the past. However, your rate to schedule calls is so high right now that almost no one uses it because most people don't want to pay or see that paying $300 to talk to you for an hour is outrageous. You might be able to help a lot of people if you can put your pricing in a better package. You might actually be able to make more money and help more people, and do it all fairly quickly if you get your packaging for a call system into a more effective presentation.”
As I looked at my bank account and I put all this together, I kept asking these questions, I thought then, “What would be the most effective simple system for me to offer my time available through calls and have a way to get reviewed, and get more calls generated from that system? What would be a good price to put it at, both fair for the customer in terms of what they'd be willing to pay and fair for me in terms of taking the calls seriously, and not feeling like I'm wasting my time taking your call or not feeling like I'm just giving my time away and I'd rather be doing something else, but what rate would I set it at to be genuinely excited?”
You might be looking at my bank accounts and see that for the first time in quite a while, I will be pretty close to not having any operating cash on hand. You might think that it's the kind of situation that would drive a lot of bad behavior. In 2014, it did drive a lot of bad behavior, I simply didn't think much about my own business, I just kept borrowing money. I said, “Well, if I'm short on cash, I'll just borrow some more. I'll just run my credit cards up.”
I responded to the same situation being short on cash in my business in 2012, 2013 and 2014 by running up a ridiculous amount of debt.
That's how I responded, “Well, I want to go to school, I'll just borrow money. I don't even really know exactly what I want to do, I'm just going to make some story up to make it look like I do and borrow a bunch of money.”
Ups and downs in every single situation
How I respond in life does dictate what circumstances I will get in the future. What helps me is to see that I don't really get to have a good or bad outcome completely.
No matter what happens, there are ups and downs to every single situation. This helps me respond more out of love and consciously creates the future I want. I see that I can't really get ahead, that all I can do is get different circumstances and no matter what circumstances I get, they'll have their ups and downs.
You might say, “Well, wouldn't you love to just have a billion dollars and have a bigger house, and have all your debt paid out?”
Sure, that sounds good in theory, but that would introduce me to a shocking number of new limitations, which could be quite traumatic all at once.
I would rather not make a transition from today owing a couple of $100,000 and what you might say, trying to humbly be of service here to you, to all of a sudden having a billion dollars, owing no money and being tempted to get some huge ego like, “Let's show the world how great Jerry Banfield is.” ?
According to the data a huge percentage of lottery winners go broke. They have to declare bankruptcy within just a few years of winning the lottery and you might ask, “Well, that's ridiculous. How could someone who wins the lottery after declare bankruptcy?”
A lot of the things that we think are good in life actually have a lot of negative things we just are in a habit of ignoring. I used to have a bigger house. I used to have a 1,700 square foot house with a pool, three bedrooms, two bathrooms on a corner lot, very nice.
When I had that house, it required a lot more work. Just walking from one end to the other of the house took significantly more time. When something broke on that house, then my wife and I, had to pay for the cost to fix it right before we moved out.
The garage managed to find several different ways to break. The belt broke, the door found some way to get stuck, the hinges stopped, the motor went out in the opener. I must have sunk $1,500 into that garage door right before we moved out and sold the house.
We spent $3,000 for some new windows, which were hanging open. You could literally just go by and pull the window open on a couple of the windows in the house, and then we couldn't open or shut them. I wasn't going to have my daughter in a room where you could just walk in and pull the window open. Owning a house with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, it might sound like the American dream, but especially if it has a pool, that's a lot of work.
I might have been able to tell a story like, “Poor me. I had to downsize and move into this 1,100 square foot home where I now have my office literally in my bedroom, and I don't have a pool anymore.”
I could have tried to cry me a river, “Look how awful this is for my life. Wow, I had this really nice house before and I lost it.”
We sold it and we moved into this house for a lower cost because it was the smart thing to do, especially with me getting banned from Udemy, which just thankfully happened at almost the exact same time.
An opportunity to learn how to do better
How I respond to it allows me to make anything that happens to me into a learning experience, into a growth experience, into something that makes me of better service.
At the same time you might think, "Well, you had a website that was paying you anywhere from 20 to $80,000 a month and you got banned from that, instantly losing all that income. You must have to work pretty hard to look at a way to respond to that in a positive manner."
I look at it that even though I was freed or liberated from the income, I was also liberated from a lot of the downsides of teaching on Udemy when they banned me. I was freed up to create and try new things. In the way I see it, I was freed up to be of better service to you here today.
That's how I've been able to have a business that's still here after five years online when 80% of people who start a business go out of business within five years, and have to either go to another job or find some other way to get by financially.
I keep looking at each thing that happens in my business not as, "Well, this is the end. I can't go on now," but as an opportunity to learn how to do better. This essentially means that what you might call failure is guidance in the proper direction.
Thank God I looked at dating this way because I failed almost every way you could at dating, and I didn't respond very well lots of times. Yes, I'm the guy who wrote lots of long, either crazy or obsessed, or nasty letters to girls I dated.
I would leave voice mails or crazy text messages, and I used to be called things like, "You're a creep," or, "You're a loser," or "You're never going to get along with anyone,” et cetera.
I used to believe them when they said things, and I didn't respond very well either and yet, I kept trying. I still responded to what you might call failure after another, by making another effort. I kept continuing to try and now I have a wife that I love with all my heart, and a daughter, and that's a miracle today.
That's because I responded to each failure with another effort based on what I'd learned on the previous one. I didn't learn how to date successfully as much as I figured out all the things you shouldn't do while dating.
Don't start texting constantly all day every day as soon as you start dating.
How did I learn that?
By doing it.
Don't send way too much information and messages before going out on a date. I've learned the hard way doing that, too.
Don't bother going out with someone again if you're not completely attracted to them. I've learned that way too.
You see, how I respond today gives me the ability to make anything that happens into an opportunity, because really everything that happens is neutral.
Everything has assets and liabilities
You might look at something like my Dash masternode, I invested $10,000, and it was worth almost a hundred thousand the day I made the video. You might look at that as purely good, "Well, that's awesome, Jerry. You made this money, that's great."
It has its downsides too. I then felt obligated to think about that more, pay attention about that more, and talk about that more.
If it had been sitting there still worth $10,000, you probably be reading this now. I probably wouldn't have shared anything about it because it would've been boring like the $100 that's sitting in one of my savings accounts that hasn't done anything except earn like $0.01 interest in a year. I haven't talked to you much about that because there's nothing much to share there.
What helps me today is to see that something in the future won't save me. If I thought having an investment go good would make me happy, it doesn't. Sure, it's nice to look at it and see what it's worth today, but at the same time, with it worth a hundred thousand, I'm much more concerned about keeping it secure and losing it than I was at $10,000.
If something happens to it when it is at $10,000, I can deal with it. When it is at $100,000, that's a little harder to comprehend. That's a little harder to just be casual about it like, "Well, what if someone steals your masternode, which is worth a hundred thousand dollars?"
That seems like something worth worrying about and worth getting crazy about which was what motivated me to sell and join us here on Steemit!.
Good things bring new limitations
Often my thoughts required me to go spend money, or go open up safety deposit boxes at banks, and fire up, get some USB drive so it's totally offline. You see, a lot of the good things that happen to us bring new limitations with them. They bring burdens with them. It's just like dating. When you think someone you're going to date's going to save you, and then you end up getting with them, then you realize that you really have lost some of the things that you appreciated in your life being single.
You appreciated, perhaps, your freedom to go out with different girls, or perhaps your freedom to have your own place, but you gave up some things in order to get something else, and everything in life requires giving up some things in order to get something else. Fundamentally, every different situation has its ups and downs, some things hurt in the moment, but even pain can be helpful for appreciation. When I have a little bit of physical pain, it helps me appreciate the absence of it the rest of the time.
I'm grateful today to be aware of the fact that any situation I get comes with essentially the same limitations in different forms. I'm very grateful to be a married man with a wonderful daughter today.
From your point of view, with the limitations I experienced in my life as a result of working on having a happy marriage on a daily basis and being a good father, or just being a father without labeling what I do good or bad, being a husband and a father on a daily basis, you might look and say, "Oh, those limitations are awful. You mean, you go to bed when your wife goes to bed every night, that you are in by 8:00 PM? You don't go out and do anything?"
"You get up and work every single morning?"
Some of the good things you might think are purely good, have significant limitations and this provides a great peace. This allows me to respond in love, stop and look for some of the bad aspects in something good that comes along, because some of the bad aspects are a bit hard to see at first.
Something like an investment doing very well, it might really be difficult to see what's bad about that until you've got a hold of it, and then you see, “Oh, well, now I got to figure out what to do, when to sell it, or how to protect it, or et cetera, et cetera.”
When I look at life as a playground, I see that when I pick up one toy, I've got an iPhone in my hand here, then my hand is full and if I pick up another toy, if I want something new, I really need to put down one of the things I've just picked up.
A simple life is better
I'm learning that having a simple life is better because it makes it easier to pick different things up and play with them. If I'm burdened, if I'm weighed down with thousands of different things, then it's hard to do anything new. It's hard to do anything at all.
It's like video games, when I was younger, I would get a video game for Christmas or something and I'd be so excited. I’d play it because then that was the only new game I had. There's some kind of sadness that comes when you can just have any game.
Like today, I could buy an Xbox if I wanted to on credit and I could buy whatever game I want. There's a certain kind of sadness that comes with being able to have whatever game you want.
It's no fun anymore when you can play all the games, like for League of Legends, I just bought all the characters in it because I could, and that takes out a lot of the fun of it.
You start to see some of the things in life that you might think are worth working hard for, once you actually get a hold of them, they’re not worth having. What you wanted them for was to be happy. You wanted something to make you happy, but once you get a hold of it, you realize that it won’t make you happy.
I’ve had lots of friends and family members talk about wanting things like jobs, wanting things like children, wanting things like respect, wanting things like a partner, a husband or wife, and the ones who see it as something that is worth doing and not something that will provide salvation tend to be happy with it.
I will be happy when…
The friends and family members who want something for salvation would say things like, “When I have a child, it will be so much better. When I get less hours at work, when I get this pay raise, it'll be so much better. When I buy this new car,” or the phrase “I will be happy when…"
"I will be happy when,” is such a devastating phrase.
Because I've got what I’ve wanted so many times in my life, I’ve realized that getting something won't make me happy. Whether it's getting the food to eat, I'm doing this 16-hour fast right now and I was feeling a little hurt and a little down this morning, and I thought, “Why don't I just have something to eat?” In other words, use food to change my mood because as you can tell for some of these podcasts, I'm really up sometimes and sometimes I'm a little down and that's okay.
A lot of the ways that we respond make things that are a little bad a lot worse. We have a little bit of a bad mood and what do we do?
We go get some medication for it, and then we really start to experience messed up moods.
I just heard in a book the other night that most all of the shootings that have taken place have happened with someone who is taking some kind of medication. A very little publicized fact that I've heard.
How I respond, if I respond with unconditional love, I tend to get really good things back out of life, and then I tend to appreciate them when I have them.
I tend to appreciate everything in life because everything is neutral. Everything is beautiful, alive and great. It's not easy all the time, but I'm grateful today because I remember that I do have some choice about how I respond. I don't ever have to go into those negative routines. I don't ever have to get into the, “Well, you did this and you're so horrible, and you, and they, and them.” I don't ever have to tear the world down, and it won't make me feel any better to tear the world down.
It won't make me feel any better to blame the IRS for their $14,000 tax bill for 3 months. I won't feel any better blaming my family and friends for my own feelings. When I look at how I'm responding, I'm empowered to do something that makes a difference. I'm empowered to share how I'm feeling instead of trying to look for a reason that I'm feeling that way.
I'm grateful to be here with you today.
My exercise is to look at the opportunities I have to make a response today, to see each new opportunity in life as a fun new adventure, like a new level on a video game.
When I wake up each day, this is a brand new level I get to play on a video game.
When I go to bed, I'll get another one tomorrow.
Instead of looking at this as some horrible trudge, some awful job I have to do before I get my reward of death or before I get my reward of being similar to death in retirement where I can just watch TV all day and not do anything. ?
Thank you very much for reading this post which was originally filmed as the video below!
The feedback on the video was so positive that I spent about $100 to get this post created for you here out of the video and then edited it prior to publishing! I appreciate you being here and I hope you have a wonderful day today.
If you found this post helpful on Steemit, would you please upvote it and follow me because you will then be able to see more posts like this in your home feed?
Jerry Banfield with edits by @gmichelbkk