What zaps your energy and happiness more powerfully and rapidly than anything else is your reaction to difficult people.
Notice I didn’t say difficult people are responsible for zapping your energy and happiness. Only you are in control of you. You do have a choice in how you respond.
With that in mind, here is a simple, powerful and transformative – that is, intense – experience for you, in two steps.
For the first step, on computer, paper, or at least in your mind, make a list of the people you would define as difficult who you routinely correspond with or who impact your life.
This can include those in your professional and personal world, and those in the public eye, who rub you the wrong way, who make your skin crawl, or who — if you didn’t believe in kindness and compassion or at least in avoiding jail — you’d flat out enjoy punching in the nose.
Surely a few people spring right to mind.
Create this list of people you don’t like, and then consider each person on it in this regard:
What is it about this person that is worth emulating?
Instead of focusing on their disagreeable qualities and actions, that is, for each person on your list shift your perspective to what their best qualities are … more particularly, to the one, two or more aspects of their character that YOU could learn from and perhaps use more of.
Perseverance? Discipline? A happy-go-lucky attitude?
Everyone has something worth emulating. Everyone. Though certain people may deserve to be fired, jailed, or impeached, even they have qualities that are worth appreciating and emulating.
It is our reactionary egos that are prone to completely trash those who seem to have a negative influence in some way on us. Our egos are primitive; if somebody strokes them, that somebody is good, and if somebody kicks them, that somebody is bad.
This lingering reaction creates the notion of “dislike,” or hate, which blocks our eyes, mind and heart from focusing on anything but the negative. But by focusing on the negative in anyone – “I really don’t like that person” — we are doing by far the most damage to ourselves.
Honing in on what we don’t like in people (or in situations for that matter) won’t change them, but it does make our lives considerably less peaceful and sucks away our energy and happiness. It becomes a habit that perpetuates the self-damage. Plus it makes us considerably less attractive to others.
This is not a call to tolerate being taken advantage of or abused by “people we don’t like,” of course; if changes need to occur to avoid those circumstances then by all means do what is ethical to make those changes.
But it IS a call not to let those people – really, your own ego – pull you down into discord and disharmony where you don’t deserve to be.
The key, then, is to try to focus on what is worth appreciating and emulating in the less-than-your-favorite-people people – even if (especially if) they are your “opponent,” such as in or on court – versus letting your ego, your emotional reactions, rule.
So the first step is to get your practice by making that list of people you don’t like and considering each person from that angle.
And then the second step is to extend that practice to daily life.
The next time you encounter someone who seems to be doing the opposite of their part to make your life fabulous — in person, on T.V., in your head — instead of focusing on what makes them such a lousy human being, focus on what it is about this person that is worth emulating.
Keep striving to do this until, typically two to three weeks in, it becomes a habit you don’t even need to think about.
You will be quite surprised at how this shift in your perspective reduces your overall anxiety, increases your energy and enables you to achieve more … and achieve it happily.
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