any fool can complain, it takes smarts to do something about it

Brrr…

I can’t think of a better word than that to start today’s post.

Despite wearing leather gloves and my nice warm hat, I could still feel the biting cold as I whipped through the streets on my racer last night.

It’s winter here in Japan and it’s not my favorite season.

I know, I know. I’m English and I should be used to the cold. But the key word is “should.”

Growing up I didn’t live, what people would call a typical life.

As some of you might already know, I spent much of my life in South East Asia as a child and so anything under 23°C/73°F was cold for me. I’m more of a 32°C kinda guy.

In 10 years, 15°C was the coldest it ever got. I still remember it, sitting on the stairs in front of our school library shivering. But that was a once-in-a-blue-moon type of event. Most of the time it averaged 30°C. Nice and warm…and lovely weather to go swimming in.

Yesterday, here in Osaka, my iPhone told me it was -1°C or 32°F  and it sure felt like it.

For the first 10 years or so here, come each winter, I would complain about the bitter cold, but now, while I still find it cold, I don’t mind it that much.

First off, I’m better prepared than I once was. A Russian hat to keep my head warm (and I sure need it as my head is getting shinier and shinier), a nice warm jacket which makes me look twice as strong and nice warm gloves.

But more importantly, my approach to winter has changed.

It’s cold. I get that, but there’s not much I can do about the weather. What I can do though is change how I feel about it.

The cold gives me a good excuse to stay at home and study.

And, as added bonus, if I feel drowsy all I need do is take two steps outside my door and I’m wide awake.

This week I estimated I doubled my output in getting things done even if I did take some time off from writing this blog.

So it’s not all bad.

Now, rather than complain about the cold, I take advantage of it.

My mentor, Jim Rohn, said something on one of his audio lectures that stood out to me. He said, “Learn how to turn frustration into fascination. You will learn more being fascinated by life than you will be being frustrated by it.”

He then went on to describe a situation we have all found ourselves in at one time or another. “I’m on my way to the airport to catch a plane that leaves in 45 minutes. The traffic is not moving one inch. I am now fascinated – not frustrated, but fascinated.”

I loved that.

He then added a qualifier, “It doesn’t work every time.”

How right he was. Life is not what happens, but how we perceive it.

In every given situation we decide how we feel, no one else. People and things can influence that feeling to a certain extent but, in the end, it is up to us to determine how we will choose to feel.

That’s why two people who experience exactly the same thing will react to it in very different ways; they internalized the event differently.

As a child I was bullied.

People used to call me names and make fun of me.

Weakling, skinny, and a whole host of other things that I can’t even remember.

They made fun of my accent and I lost all the confidence I had in my looks.

It sucked.

There were times all I wanted to do was run away.

But there was one thing they couldn’t do.

They couldn’t change the fact that I liked me.

I liked who I was.

I had a family that loved me and I always had a few good friends. (It also helped that I knew the people who said hurtful things were often time losers.)

So most of the time I was able to just brush them off.

I’ll admit that some things hurt more than others, but I knew that was what life was like in school.

I also firmly believed and still do today that “what goes around, comes around.”

I’ve found that to be true. So I just let jerks be jerks. They’ll get what’s coming to them sooner or later.

There are thousands of things we have no control over. We can’t control whether a client will join our firm. We can’t control the temperature outside. And we can’t control the traffic.

But what we do have is control over our actions and our emotions.

We might not be able to make a client join our firm, but what we can do is be prepared and give a great presentation when they visit us.

We might not be able to control the temperature outside, but we can buy air-conditioners and heaters to keep us comfortable inside.

We might not be able to make the traffic move any faster, but we can choose a nice piece of music to listen to put our mind at ease or we could put in that marketing CD we bought just the other day and get educated. Either way it’s better than the alternative.

It may be cold, people may say bad things about you, there may not be any chicken left at the supermarket, but the question is, what are you going to do about it?

You can shout and scream, or you can laugh and smile.

That part is up to you.

I’ve taken control of my life and my feelings and am a changed man, just ask my wife.

I’m more relaxed and am enjoying life a whole lot more.

I hope you will, too.

Adrian Shepherd

ps. If you were wondering what I’ve been up to the past two days I was working on my financial seminar and working on some new marketing ideas. Woohoo.

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