If you can’t change a situation, change your perception of it. Remember, most of your stress comes from the way you respond, not from the way life is.

If you can’t change a situation, change your perception of it. Remember, most of your stress comes from the way you respond, not from the way life is.

When I first read this aphorism, I summarily rejected it because I came up with numerous examples that this Zen perspective does not allow for. Most certainly, the circumstances in Ukraine give countless examples.  For example, watching on live television as the Russians were shooting missiles at the largest nuclear reactor in Europe, I could not help but feel tremendous dread and fear. I don’t think there is a Zen related solution that would enable me to compartmentalize my feelings watching something of that magnitude.

That said, there are countless scenarios in which today’s aphorism carries water. We are very quick to react to negative stimuli in our lives. That stimuli can be as innocuous as an offhanded comment that someone makes in your presence or having someone cut you off on the road. The only string we have to play upon is our attitude. Proper management of our attitude is paramount to a successful lifestyle. It is so easy to let so many incidental things infest our consciousness and permeate our mood and our behaviors towards others. Yet, all of this is wholly unnecessary and completely manageable with a proper perspective on life and a certain degree of self-control and discipline.

Take the sadistic personality that thrives on bullying, see it for what it is (a cry for help) and recognize that it is thriving on witnessing your pain and discomfort. Recognition of the circumstances enables you to reduce their enjoyment, and thereby cast them further out of your life. If they are not receiving the joy of your expressed frustration, they will go and find someone else to bully in your place. 

Specific to what I was writing about yesterday, sometimes an unforeseen act of kindness can actually convert a negative person into a more positive one because, like the lions who needed antiseptic cream for their paws, a bully or negative person is really seeking some degree of normalcy that they are obviously not feeling in their current existence.

Separate from a person who is causing circumstances that you cannot control, lies other variables that impede our ability to accelerate into that which we are most determined to accomplish. Here is where today’s aphorism truly comes into play. When we encounter things that we are not going to be able to change, we might wish to spend long volumes of time working to fix the issue, but in many cases, the issue is not fixable and nothing within our power will allow us to accomplish this. 

If we cannot go around a circumstance, and we are unable to alter it, the only choice left is acceptance. It may not be the option of desire, but it might be the only option available at that time.

God, Grant Me the Serenity to Accept the Things I Cannot Change, Courage to Change the Things I Can, and Wisdom to Know the Difference.

This Christian aphorism could not be any more accurate. It is the core truth in life. Once we are capable of seeing it for what it truly is, we are further empowered to accelerate into a higher state of being which takes the elements of frustration and converts them into relatively innocuous variables so that we might better get on with our lives, rather than stress over the things that are just not fixable. I think this is a very difficult lesson. One that requires daily practice. One that necessitates awareness on a much higher level.

There are so many things to do in life, sometimes I think we are hard-pressed to find desire to work on the intangible lessons like this one. Usually it requires us plummeting into a chasm of disappointment or despair before we are more willing to embrace these kinds of approaches. I take the time to draft these musings in the hope that if you or someone you love is struggling to cope with one of the many topics that I write about, that perhaps one tiny idea that I may share will unlock a remedy or solution that will be of value. 

As a final note, try looking at the people or circumstances that are causing you frustration as your zen master. If you start to see that stimuli not as a vehicle of frustration, but rather a spontaneous exercise as to whether or not you are able to control yourself, you will discover that you are less irritated by them and ultimately you will start to become more pleased with yourself as you learn to navigate through these circumstances with considerably less internal friction.

Happy Sunday!

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Written by Brian Weiner
When I was 5 years old, I discovered that the lemon tree in the backyard + dixie cups + water and sugar and I was in business. I have been hooked on that ever since. In 1979, I borrowed $14,000 to create a brand new product... photographic greeting cards with no text on the inside, called Paradise Photography. That was the start of The Illusion Factory. Since then, The Illusion Factory has been entrusted by all of the major studios and broadcasters with the advertising and marketing of over $7 billion in filmed, live, broadcast, gaming, AR, VR and regulated gaming forms of entertainment, generating more than $100 Billion in revenue and 265 awards for creativity and technology for our clients. When I took a break from film school at UCLA to move to Hawaii, my mother did not lecture me. Instead, she took 150 of her favorite aphorisms and in her beautiful calligraphy, wrote them artistically throughout a blank journal. That is the origin of the Lessons from the Mountain series. Since then, on my journeys to the top of a mountain to watch the sunrise, I have spent countless hours contemplating words of wisdom from the sages of all races, genders and political persuasions, constantly accumulating the thoughts to guide me on my life path. I hope you enjoy my books. Please let me know your thoughts, as I highly value your feedback!