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Years ago I made a commitment to learn HOW to remain happy – regardless of any of my external circumstances. It’s because of this solid commitment to prioritize being happy and maintaining internal peace that I’ve made conscious adjustments to my past behaviors. Why? Because 99.9% of the things I did and said did not align with my priority of wanting to be happy. When I made wanting to be happy my number one priority, I was forced to change. And with the change, my life changed. On this journey of discovering how to remain happy, I found out that I needed to develop and create new tools and strategies to counteract anything that didn’t match my new priority – happiness. First, I had to acknowledge and accept the fact that my happiness depended on one person – me. With this knowledge, I felt a sense of empowerment. I no longer had to depend on anyone else to be happy. Maintaining my happiness was my sole responsibility. This new concept of knowing I was responsible for my own happiness brought an added bonus of peace because that meant if I wasn’t happy, it was my fault. I must confess that the majority of my life was spent relying on others and/or circumstances to make me happy. Now my happiness is my responsibility alone. And between you and me, I AM the most qualified person for the job.
While maintaining my own happiness, I discovered another huge but freeing responsibility: Not only am I responsible for maintaining my happiness, I’m also responsible for maintaining harmony in each and every one of my relationships! At first this was definitely a hard concept to accept and even harder to believe – but it’s true. I’ll admit, I spent a couple of decades denying this fact. It was so easy for me to blame the other person for the conflicts and discord in my relationships. In fact, I conjured up endless reasons and even more excuses where I made sure the blame was theirs. I can’t be the ONLY reason for disharmony in my relationships… can I? Can’t I blame the other person for their participation in the friction and discord? As hard as I tried to blame others for their actions, words, and behaviors, it always circled back to me. Why? Because I was responsible for my happiness. It really didn’t matter which relationship I encountered throughout the day, whether it be my parents, children, friends, co-workers, relatives or even strangers – the responsibility of creating harmony in all of the before-mentioned relationships fell squarely on my shoulders. If I want to experience harmonious relationships, it’s my job to create and cultivate them.
Presently, if there’s any friction of any kind in any of my relationships, I have no one to blame but myself. Ouch! Let me apologize in advance for sharing this shocking revelation, but there are no exceptions to this rule. No exceptions to the “Law of Relationship Harmony”.
How does the Law of Relationship Harmony Work?
First of all, let me share that my “Law of Relationship Harmony” (LRH) was created due to the conflicts in my real-life relationships. When I use the term conflict, I’m referring to ANY conversation or encounter that’s not harmonious. I discovered a simple but an unknown secret. I discovered that voicing my opinion and harmonious relationships don’t mix. Especially with people who are not accepting of others. If you are accepting of all opinions and you’ve eliminated judgment from your life style then this article is not for you.
My Past Exposed
Years ago I handed out opinions like I was handing out candy on Halloween. Everyone that was in my presence got served. I even voiced opinions about people I never personally met. Athletes, celebrities, politicians, spiritual teachers, you name a person – I had an opinion about them. Not only did I have an opinion about everyone and everything that happened on this planet, I took it one step further. Everyone that had the pleasure of meeting me was subject to listening to my opinion. All of my “hostages” had one thing in common – they all had ears.
Guilty or Not Guilty
In 1995, former American football player O. J. Simpson was charged with two counts of murder. The criminal trial lasted nine months and was held in Los Angeles, California – my backyard. This case has been described as the most publicized criminal trial in American history. When O.J. Simpson was on trial for double homicide, I was working nights. This left me with free time during the day to watch the entire nine-month trial. Yes, watching the O.J. Simpson trial became a non-paying part-time job. I was consumed with the case; and after the criminal trial ended, Simpson was tried for punitive damages in a civil court. There I was again, glued to the television set. Unbelievably, watching both trials wasn’t enough. I also listened to radio and television commentary after each day of hearings. Adding to my wealth of trial information, I even purchased books from famous criminal attorneys in the country. Both of the O. J. Simpson trials provided me with a smorgasbord of judgment and opinions. I had defined opinions and righteous judgment about whether or not Simpson was guilty. I openly discussed my opinions about the trial lawyers, the witnesses, the judge, the jurors, and even opinions about the murdered victims. You can believe that in 1995, I shared my opinions and judgments with anyone with ears. And to top it off, I collected evidence to prove my opinion was “right”.
Whether or not O. J. Simpson was guilty of double homicide is not the point here. It’s taken me almost fifteen years to realize that voicing my opinions was divisive to anyone who did not share the same opinion. I intentionally segregated people based on whether or not they shared my opinion as to whether or not O. J. Simpson was guilty of double homicide. I actually de-friended people who did not agree with me. I ended relationships with people I’d known for years. Looking back, voicing my opinion created a lot of division in my life – and along with the energy of division, comes the energy of unhappiness.
I’ve spent most of my life and a lot of energy voicing and arguing my opinions and my reasons for them. But what are opinions? Opinions are a personal preference based on an individual’s perspective. How can you disagree with a personal perspective? More importantly, have you ever engaged in a back-and-forth discussion (aka argument) and the other person suddenly stops and yells out – “OMG, you’re RIGHT! What was I thinking?” Every single person I’ve argued with about whether or not O.J. Simpson was guilty NEVER changed their mind. Not once! Not one person changed their opinion because of a discussion I had with them. It didn’t matter how much “evidence” I supplied to support my opinion either. What’s been your experience? When two or more people discuss opposing opinions, it usually plays out like an endless back and forth exchange with the grand finale statement of “I guess we’re just going to agree to disagree”. Think about it, when’s the last time you’ve changed a cultivated opinion?
Look around. This world is obsessed with never-ending discussions about what happened, why it happened, what should have happened, what could happen, and what will happen. Opinions are what make talk-radio and television multi-billion dollar businesses. You can’t escape them.
What’s My Opinion?
My opinion is that I AM responsible for supplying the dose of harmony in all of my relationships. All of them. And because of this, I’ll sincerely and vehemently AGREE with any opinion you might have! Besides, everyone is entitled to believe their opinion is valid. Have you ever had an argument with someone who agreed with you? The answer is no. We only argue with people we disagree with. And with that said, your opinion is now my opinion. Say goodbye to arguing, disagreements, and conflicts and say hello to peace and harmony.
Is O. J. Simpson guilty of double homicide? “That’s what the evidence shows.”
Is O. J. Simpson not-guilty of double homicide? “That’s what the evidence shows.”
Again, since my number one priority is to maintain harmony in all of my relationships at all costs, I have an obligation to create and maintain the harmony I seek. I admit, that my ego gets hurt and feels neglected; however, that’s a necessary side-effect to creating harmonious relationships. Besides, I’m sure my ego will quickly find another project to attach itself to.
Let me be perfectly clear, when I pose the idea of whether or not I should voice my opinion, I’m talking about my day-in, day-out life. What would happen in my personal life, if I agreed with all opposing opinions? Nothing but a peaceful encounter. I’m still able to maintain my opinion; it’s just that no one needs to know it. No one ever needs to know my opinion, especially if it creates division. Unless it’s my job to voice an opinion, I will continue to agree with all opinions I meet. If voicing my opinion does not create a harmonious encounter, then why would I choose to voice it?
Democrats versus Republicans
When I was growing up, my father would instigate a political discussion of Democrats versus Republicans, usually around the dinner table. Republicans versus Democrats – good versus bad. (no order intended), I received a thorough brainwashing for sure. I was conditioned to dislike anyone who wasn’t affiliated with both my parents’ choice of political parties. I’ll admit that as a young adult, I fell for the indoctrination hook, line, and sinker. Before meeting a person, I developed an opinion about them based on which political party they belonged to. That’s more evidence of how my opinion created division. Now that my priority is maintaining and sustaining peace during all circumstances, it doesn’t matter to me whether you are affiliated with the Republican party, the Democratic party, the Libertarian party, the Peace and Freedom Party, the Constitution Party, or the Green Party – I agree with them all.
What draws out more opinions than a national presidential election? I can’t think of anything else at this moment. I admit that during the 2008 presidential election, my opinion as to whom I was going to vote for was plastered on several billboards throughout the state. (Exaggerated to make the point) I let my opinion be known, with a mega-megaphone. I also shared my opinion with willing and unwilling hostages. I even remember making phone calls to people who I knew were undecided! Yes, I know, I know, it’s hard for me to believe also. But that is what’s so great about change and growth. We all have the ability to make different choices whenever the old choices stop serving us. Did sharing my political opinion create any peace for me? The answer is NO. Sharing my opinion with opposing “parties” never brought me peace, harmony, or happiness!
In 2012, the United States held an election for Obama’s second term. Even though Obama won the election, the poles showed this country was strongly divided. For me, the election did not have the same “feel” as the 2008 election did. I was too wrapped up in wanting to be happy. Don’t get me wrong, I planned on voting, and I had a clear idea of who I wanted in the White House; however, I was no longer compelled to voice my opinion. In 2012, it didn’t matter who I voted for. What mattered to me was how to engage in daily conversations about the election that I would inevitably have. Why? Because I take public transportation to and from downtown Los Angeles every day. On a daily basis. I encounter station security, janitorial staff, bus drivers, and passengers. I work in an office that occupies 12 floors in a 28-floor building divided into North and South towers. I literally have 700+ co-workers. Along with co-workers, there are hundreds of other tenants occupying the same building, including CHP officers, private security, maintenance/janitorial staff, and cafeteria employees. When I enter the front door, I pass more than 10 security officers before I reach the lobby. I literally speak to at least 15 people before I even arrive at the elevators. In my free time (lol), I teach 4-5 exercise classes every week. My classes are usually filled with 25-40 students. I literally have contact with hundreds of people on a daily basis, Monday through Saturday.
My behavior had to change between the 2008 election and the 2012 election. My behavior had to change because I changed. I changed because my priorities changed. My priorities changed from feeding my ego, to wanting to create peaceful, harmonious relationships everywhere I landed. Discussing, arguing, voicing my opinion to hear others vehemently disagree with me did not feel good anymore. In 2012, I had a dilemma. How was I going to interact with the hundreds of people I saw on a daily basis?
As usual, several months prior to the election, the candidates would host televised debates. And the next day following the debates, there was no escaping the political conversations, especially with my opinionated reputation.
I distinctly remember walking into my office building after a night of presidential debates. To my left was a female security officer wearing a “Vote for Obama” button. Our eyes locked and I gave her the universal “two-thumbs-up” sign. A few more feet into the building, was a small group of Romney supporters huddled in a circle. I locked eyes with one of the Romney supporters, and guess what? I flashed another universal “two-thumbs-up” sign. My behavior was simple and really easy, and more importantly, harmoniously peaceful. For months prior to the election, I mirrored everyone’s opinions.
When asked in 2012, “Who’re you voting for?” I responded with, “I’m voting for the same person you’re voting for – of course.” Anyone who asked me my opinion on the election, I would encourage them to discuss their opinion first. All I had to do was listen intently and nod my head up and down – listen intently and nod my head up and down again. My opinion was their opinion; and with that there was peace and harmony in my world. I was happy. They were happy. Harmony reigned supreme.
Time has passed and I still have my opinions, but now they live in exile. You see, my priorities have changed. Today, my number one priority is to be happy and to create harmonious relationships.
My Recent Relapse
I recently had a reoccurring conversation with my dear, sweet mother. The key word here is reoccurring. My mother loves to watch the morning, afternoon, evening, and weekly news. If the news is on, she’s watching it. As you might guess, my personal preference is to not watch the news. My mother knows this fact; however, it doesn’t stop her from trying to engage me in conversations about what’s happening in the news. A lot of times, people want to insist on what’s important to them be important to others. I know, because I’ve been guilty of this also.
My dear mother insists “You should know what’s going on in the world.” “You should know what’s happening in your community.” “How will you know what to wear if you don’t listen to the weather report?” All valid points; however, I seem to manage a life without receiving a daily dose of murder, rape, child abuse, mass shootings, be-headings, global warming, and war stories.
My dear well-meaning mother actually gets angry because I don’t watch the news! The last time my mother ended the reoccurring scolding, I thought to myself, “What’s wrong with me agreeing to watch the news?” It doesn’t mean I have to watch it. Is it really that important for me to disagree with an 84-year-old woman? After all, I’ve been disagreeing with her for years on countless topics, and what have I created? Certainly not harmony or peace. My mother does not share or accept my opinion regarding watching the news; and in reality, why should she? You can be sure that the next time the topic of watching the news comes up I’m going to let my mother know that she’s been right all along! What was I thinking? Why would I deprive myself of a daily dose of negativity and brutal images?
Yes, voicing my opinion has become unnecessary for me because I’ve switched my priorities. Now, your opinion is my opinion. Tell me what you think and I’ll agree.
Rap music is destroying our youth. “I agree”.
Pornography degrades women. “I agree”.
If you’re not eating organic, expect to die. “Yes, I agree”.
Global warming is a serious issue. “I couldn’t agree more”.
Drugs should be illegal. “I agree”.
Drugs should be legal. “I agree”.
The top 10 problems in this country are … “I agree”.
Did I watch the news today? “Morning, noon, and night.”
My solution is simple, easy, and it works for ME.
By the way, if you don’t agree with this article, I don’t either.