This quote startled me –
“If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.”–Cardinal Richelieu.
At first I was appalled.
How could anyone look at only six lines and decide if the author was deserving of capital punishment?
Then it dawned on me.
People see what they want to see.
Others don’t know your motives.
You can do the most noble thing, or the hardest thing for the right reasons, and people will judge you.
Look at some of our greatest leaders, including Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King.
Most consider them legends.
Some consider them Divine.
Yet vast amounts of people hate them, despise them, distrust them, and ultimately killed them.
“Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have helped countless people.
I remember a broke blues musician who came to me red faced and angry because he couldn’t pay his rent and might be evicted yet again. I helped him for the next decade.
He got out of debt. He tasted the good life.
But later, he changed his mind, turned on me, said he got almost nothing from my help (after 10 years of helping him), and wrote me off.
He wasn’t the only one.
I remember a former drug pusher who was dodging the IRS but wanting to change his life and make money online. I helped him for almost a decade, too.
Again, after he got all he wanted from me, he fabricated a bill saying I owed him for past services he did “as a friend.”
He went as far as to contact former associates of mine, email a database we shared, and try to destroy me.
“Don’t waste your time with explanations, people only hear what they want to hear.” – Paulo Coelho
Of course, there are also people who I have helped who still thank me publicly and privately.
I am grateful for them.
The point is, we can’t control others or their opinions.
We can only do the best we can and hope we make a difference.
They may misunderstand us.
They may misinterpret us.
We have to do what we believe, anyway.
Sometimes what we do will be hard, and no one will understand.
Sometimes what we do will appear wrong, and no one will support us.
Sometimes what we do will hurt, and no one will rush in to help.
We have to do what we think is right anyway.
P.T. Barnum said, “We cannot all see alike, but we can all do good.”
Even when no one understands.
Even when others judge you or your motives.
Even if some cardinal from the 1600s might read crime in your six lines.
After all, isn’t life worth living when you follow your own inner compass?
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My father passed away last month. He was 93. One of my proudest moments was turning him into an author when he was age 90. Here is that moment:
I went to a sleep study center recently. I needed to find out if I have sleep apnea. I don’t know the results yet, but I want to share this story of what happened while I was there.
It’s another miracle.
Tell me what you think…
The woman hooking me up with wires and sensors had an hour to kill, as she had that much set up to do, so she asked me what I did for a living.
“Lots of things,” I said. “I’m primarily an author.”
“What have you written?”
“I’ve written over 76 books,” I said.
“Good God! Tell me about one of them.”
I told her about Zero Limits.
I explained the story of Dr. Hew Len and how he helped heal an entire ward of mentally ill criminals with a Hawaiian healing method called ho’oponopono.
“What’s that?” she asked.
I explained it was a way to change outer reality by changing your inner perceptions of it.
“Are you saying that the therapist changed his perceptions and the inmates got better?”
“Bogus!” she blurted.
I was slightly surprised.
I’m not used to meeting people so instantly close minded.
“I’m a psychologist,” she said. “I only look at the brain and empirical evidence for what works.”
“Then you’ll love my book,” I said. “I coauthored it with the therapist, and I interviewed the staff that worked at the hospital with him.”
She shook her head.
“Do you believe the stuff you write?” she asked.
That was a stunner.
“Yes, of course! It would be the greatest crime in my life to write what I didn’t believe.”
“Well, it sounds bogus to me.”
I let it go.
I was there to have my sleep diagnosed, not get in an argument.
But then something miraculous happened.
Around 5 in the morning, I announced I couldn’t sleep anymore and she might as well return and unhook me from the test equipment.
She came out, moving slow, and I noticed she was red faced and struggling to breathe.
I asked if she were okay.
“I think I’m having a heart attack.”
I instantly perked up and sat up.
I still had wires all over me and electrodes on my head and face. But I was alert.
“I’ll call 911 right now,” I offered. “My phone is right here.”
“No, the hospital is right behind us.”
“Then I’ll walk you to the hospital. Just get this stuff off of me and we’ll go.”
“I still have two other patients to unhook,” she explained. “Then I can go.”
“Sit down here,” I said, patting the bed.
“Take your time. There’s no hurry.”
As she sat beside me, I began to practice the four phrases of basic ho’oponopono.
I repeated, I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me and thank you.
I didn’t say it out loud.
I just repeated it silently, as a mantra.
I noticed she seemed to relax.
Her breathing slowed.
She was still red faced and still anxious, but clearly more relaxed.
She started to remove the wires from my body.
As she did, I just kept practicing ho’oponopono.
When she was done, I told her I’d wait for her to finish the other two patients.
She left the room and I got dressed.
But even as I dressed, I continued saying the four phrases.
The other patients left.
I went out to the main area and saw her sitting at her desk, her head laying down like a student at school having recess.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” she said.
She was still struggling to breathe.
“I’m a cigarette smoker and haven’t had one in a while,” she confessed.
I waited and talked to her a bit.
Once I was confident she was truly stable, and that her supervisor would be coming in shortly, I left.
So, did ho’oponopono help her?
It helped me.
That’s the point.
Whenever you have something going on, do ho’oponopono on yourself.
As you relax into the miracle of now, you will feel better.
As you do, the outer may shift too.
But do it for you.
PS – I called a few days later to check on the nurse. She went on vacation. Maybe now she will truly relax. Maybe she’ll even read my books on ho’oponopono, Zero Limits and AT Zero. 🙂
My 93-year-old father was moving some old furniture around when he discovered a few long lost black and white photographs.
One of them was of me.
At the age of ten months.
I had never seen the photo before.
But as I stared at myself of almost 65 years ago, I saw a happy child.
My father told me, “Joe, you were one happy baby!”
Maybe I was.
But I certainly wasn’t happy shortly after growing up.
And I went through long periods of unhappiness as an adult, and as a struggling writer wanting to be a success.
What happened to that happy child?
What happened to that uninhibited smile?
Oh, it’s still here.
People can see the baby smile in my adult face today.
But where’d it go for so long?
My guess is, it never left.
And I’m guessing your original innocent smile is still in you someplace, too.
Lately I’ve been encouraging people to look for their very early baby pictures.
Not the ones where you are still in diapers, and not the ones where you are going off to school.
I want you to find the baby pictures where you are showing signs of awareness and your “original smile” is still on your face.
Get that photo and use it as a meditation.
Stare into the smile.
Let it expand from within yourself.
Feel the original innocence of bliss today.
Because it’s still there.
And if for some reason you can’t easily or quickly find an early photo of yourself smiling, then consider looking at my photo. Or someone else that makes you grin or giggle. Or draw or paint one.
The point is, that original smile is not lost.
It’s in you.
I used to teach a form of meditation where you imagined an inner smile within yourself. As you visualized it, it grew. Before long, you had an outer smile.
Your inner child is still within you.
And it is still smiling.
It’s time to find it again.
PS – I also believe there is something like an “original laugh,” too. That’s where you laugh without control or inhibition. Recently author-singer-TV celebrity Lisa Winston and I held a Facebook Live to discuss our forthcoming event, “Own the Stage.” We were so open and playful with each other that by the end of the broadcast, we were laughing so hard we were crying. Where is your original laugh? Where is your original smile? I urge you to look within and see…