Change on the inside and let the outside stuff happen


It’s humbling to watch my audience expand to include people struggling with stress and the blues in addition to those who want to grow younger. I really believe these mind/body/spirit habits can transform anyone’s life.

The result of the techniques I share is happiness, but the other day I got to wondering, “What the heck is happiness, anyway?”

Wikipedia says, “Happiness is a mental or emotional state of [well-being] defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.” Hmmm. Actually, I think we can sum it all up in two words: inside job. But how do we conjure up that inside state of positive or pleasant emotions? Many of us think we get there through the outside.

Scenario No. 1: If only she’d marry me, I’d be happy.

Then what happens?

She says yes, they get married and it’s divorceville in eight or 10 years. Or five or six years. Or two or three.

Scenario No. 2: If only I had a better job, I’d be happy.

Then what happens?

He gets a better job and before long, the old boss is gone and he now reports to the boss from hell.

Scenario No. 3: If only I had a whole lot of money, I’d be happy.

Then what happens?

A big windfall of money swoops in, the house is paid off and oops, the brand-new car tangled with a telephone pole and guess who’s in the hospital.

There goes happiness!

My point is that we can’t have sustained happiness inside based on events and situations that happen outside.

No matter how smart we are, no matter how rich we are, no matter how delighted we are with our current circumstances, stuff happens. And our reaction doesn’t just disturb our mental and emotional state. Sometimes it gives us the blues or, worse yet, depression.

So how do we have happiness – even bubbling-up joy – no matter what?

Well, for an inside job, we need to change the inside, not the outside. In other words, let the outside stuff happen. It’s going to anyway.

We change on the inside through inside practices: techniques that we practice every day until they become habits, like observing our thoughts, prayer, meditation, positive affirmations, feeling and expressing gratitude, forgiving everyone, loving ourselves just as we are.

Once these daily practices become habits, then all hell can break loose and we’ll remain peaceful inside, like in that 17th-century haiku by a Japanese poet: “Barn’s burnt down – now I can see the moon.”

If one of your goals is inner peace even when “stuff” happens, take a delightful ride to Dixon on Sunday – April 30 – and join me from 2 to 3:30 p.m. for “Live Happy! 7 Habits for Less Stress and More Fun. “ It’s a free (humorous, but insightful) presentation hosted by nonprofits The Carnelian Center and Blue Star Productions at The GLOBE on State Road 75 in downtown Dixon. Donations are appreciated, but not required. Mark your calendar now and come say hello. I love getting to know people who read my column.

Wood, of Questa, is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of “Think and Grow Young: Powerful Steps to Create a Life of Joy.” Her forthcoming book is “Blues Busters! 7 Mind/Body/Spirit Habits That Transformed My Life.” Wood’s website is Contact her at


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