My friend, who was full of fear and doubt a few weeks ago while training for the Dublin Marathon, is now making progress. More and more, he's enjoying the early morning runs, the sounds of the birds, the dawn views of the trees, the flowers and the mist in the valley.
I had an interesting conversation with him on the phone the other day. "I'm gradually losing the fear, the doubt and casting them out, but then, even on the best of mornings, the fear creeps back in again."
So I went through the original mental routine with him.
There are only two major drivers in our lives. Fear and freedom. I describe fear as false evidence appearing real.
Now, while a little bit of fear is useful to keep us from driving on the wrong side of the road, the majority of our fears simply arise from false evidence appearing real.
Courage is not the absence of fear; it is feeling the fear and doing it anyway. It is showing up fear to be the imposter that it is.
Fear persists because the ego, the false self, feeds on fear. Once you wake up and become aware, the ego disappears.
"I know," my friend said, "that I should be more grateful for the fact that I can run, but I should be doing more training."
Now there's another six-letter word you must never use – should. The majority of the time that we suffer is when we believe a thought that argues with reality, with 'what is'. When the mind is perfectly clear, 'what is' is what we accept in this moment.
And yet, if you pay attention, you'll notice that you think thoughts like this all the time. Whenever the word 'should' shows up, that's what's going on. As in: "I should be thinner, I should be fitter, my partner should be more sensitive and attentive."
These thoughts are ways of wanting reality to be different. A lot of the stress in life is caused by arguing with 'what is'. If you argue with reality once, you will every time. We cannot undo or rewrite the past.
As the Iranian poet Omar Khayyám put it about 1,000 years ago: "The moving finger writes; and having writ moves on: Nor all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, or all thy tears wash out a word of it."
My friend argued: "But if I simply accept reality, I will become passive and nothing will change. I'll just become indifferent, apathetic."
Which is not true. You accept reality, and then you take positive action by focusing on the one thing you can do to improve it.
Which of these makes more sense?
1/ 'I wish I hadn't lost all that money; I should have been more careful!'
2/ 'What one thing can I do now to create more income now?'
Accepting 'what is' doesn't mean you settle for the way things are, it just means you give up all the resistance by wishing it were different and freeing up your energy to take positive action now.
Be more appreciative and you will be amazed how much your life changes.
It's not just my friend. Last week I was giving myself every reason why I shouldn't go for a run when I met a person on the street in a wheelchair. She smiled and said: "Isn't it a lovely day?"
I replied that it was, but in truth, I hadn't even noticed.
I felt ashamed.
Within minutes, I was in my gear and running. The lady had told me it was a day to smell the roses.
She was right, and I did.
Declan Coyle is a director of Andec Communications. His motivational techniques have been used by several All-Ireland winning teams. firstname.lastname@example.org