'Most of Us Look for Ways to Feel Offended': How to Break Out of Toxic Patterns and Start Living Eight maxims that will make you reexamine your priorities and regain control of your life.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
In 2015, I got dumped — at an airport. The breakup was abrupt, and it was painful. It wasn't the first time I had been dumped, but this time felt particularly traumatic. Perhaps that was due to the nature of the breakup; perhaps it was because I had believed this man and I were bound to be married, but for whatever reason, I was beyond devastated. For months, I did nothing but cry alone in my apartment and write long emails and letters to my ex, begging him to take me back.
Then, something snapped. I woke up and simply knew that something had to change. So, I decided to make a different decision than I had made with past breakups. Instead of blaming my ex and telling all my friends about how it was all his fault, I made a choice to figure out how, this time, it was my fault. I decided that I wanted to learn something from this breakup.
In the year that followed this awful experience, I sought out a mentor to assist me and read numerous books on the power of mindset, choices and happiness. For the first time in my life, I made a vision board. Then, I made a vision and mission statement. I began to follow it. I became a marathon runner. Then I met the man of my dreams. Soon after, I became a COO, became a skier and bought my dream home. We've traveled all over the world together. Recently, I found the courage to leave my COO role and start my own business. Today, life is more than exceptionally good, and what I've realized is that much of my success boiled down to eight universal truths that I adopted and began to follow.
Read More: 7 Mindsets That Guarantee Enduring Success
Today, my life's goal is to help others become successful and experience all the joy and fulfillment of their dreams. Here are the eight truths that can help you get there.
1. Our power in life comes from focusing on the things we can control
Anytime that we start to complain, whine, moan or vent about someone or something else that we can't control, we start to lose the game. While many of us like to look at successful people and think about how lucky they must have gotten, or how fate just smiled on them, this is a losing mentality. I estimate that only roughly 10% of our success is determined by what happens to us; the remaining 90% is a result of how we respond to what happens to us.
Everything we think, say and do in life is a choice. Regardless of what's happening to us, we always have a choice in how we respond, and when we leave our focus and energy there, we find ways to win and succeed. Knowing that our thoughts and feelings are all choices — including gratitude, happiness, love, acceptance, appreciation and even forgiveness — changes everything.
2. Fear is a product of our imagination
When we feel afraid, it's often about something that may (or may not) even happen. In general, we fear negative consequences that have not come to pass yet. Sadly, however, us being afraid of something bad happening makes it far more likely to actually happen — the true definition of a self-fulfiling prophecy. When we imagine that we'll fail, we make it more likely that we will. When we imagine that we'll be successful and win, we make it more likely that we will.
Fear also inhibits action. But action can help us overcome fear. So, when we're feeling afraid, that's when we're least likely to act, but it's when we often need to act the most. Whenever we're telling ourselves a story from a place of fear, we have every opportunity to change the narrative.
3. Mistakes and failure do not run counter to success
They are a part of success. In fact, we often cannot have success without mistakes and failure. When we get comfortable with making mistakes and failing, we allow ourselves to grow and are able to enjoy the process and journey of life so much more. We only truly begin to fail when we feel like we're failing, when we call it failure. Otherwise, we're still just in learning mode.
4. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
The more we're willing to be uncomfortable, the more that great things can happen for us. And the way to get more comfortable with discomfort is to practice it. Truly successful people don't shy away from discomfort; they intentionally look for ways to be uncomfortable.
5. Most of us look for ways to feel offended. Start doing the opposite.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but often, many of us want to feel like we've been wronged. Our ego subconsciously does this for us. We want to feel like we've been damaged, that someone owes us. It can be fun to play the victim.
Successful people never do this. Instead, they always seek to understand others and learn what they don't know. When something hurts, they don't make assumptions. Instead, they ask questions, listen and discover. When we're feeling offended, the most helpful thing we can usually do is recognize it and choose not to be. We gain so much time and energy back by refusing to take things personally.
Read More: How to Stop Taking Things Personally at Work
6. Growth requires change
Many of us want to grow, but most of us are not really willing to experience great change (and the growing pains that come along with change) to get there. We want the reward, but we don't want to do the work or pay the price for it. If we want things we've never had, we have to be willing to do things we've never done to get there. When we want to grow, we need to be stretched. When we stretch a rubber band, we're applying tension and stress to it, and it's the elasticity that makes that rubber band expand. We, too, must be willing to absorb some tension and stress if we want to expand.
7. Focusing on what you love and are passionate about is key
We should never tolerate or stay in any job, friendship or living environment that makes us miserable. Don't do things out of obligation. Figure out what lights you up inside and chase that down. It's critical we evaluate what truly makes us tick inside. When we find jobs we love, we never work a day in our lives. The secret to fulfillment in life is aligning our beliefs and our actions. We must make sure what we dream about — and what we do — are congruent.
8. Yesterday is heavy. Put it down.
Don't live in the past. It doesn't matter if you were wronged or mistreated. Focusing on these things — or the past — will not serve us. It has nothing to do with tomorrow. The past is interesting but nothing more. The past can be instructional, but our greatest value to impact ourselves, our lives and the world lies in focusing not on tomorrow or yesterday but today. Staying connected to the present allows us to change the world.
These eight universal truths have changed my entire life. I guarantee that if you start to practice them today with consistency, you will notice major changes in your life too.