My husband has been through an epiphany.
Before last year, my husband was continuously self-sabotaging. He was grumpy and depressed. He lacked intimacy, peace and gratefulness. His overall distaste and lack of confidence seeped into every corner of his life. He was a mess.
He had to change his mind.
The type of change of mind I am referring to has nothing to do with deciding on a different restaurant at the last minute or taking off one shirt to wear another. This change of mind favors that of repentance. A complete change in the state of thinking and reaction.
In November of 2016, Steve realized his fight with depression and “stinking thinking” was sucking the life’s blood out of his day, out of himself, and out of his relationships. He decided he needed help. After consulting a psychiatrist, Steve started taking Prozac.
Immediately, I noticed a difference. All of those “old Steve” ways of thinking were beginning to vanish. Also, during this time, he came up with a series of 5 questions he began asking himself every morning. The positive shift was powerful.
This blog is a collection of interviews I have had with my husband about his 5 questions and how they have had an impact on his life. They have led him to mindfulness and gratitude.
Here are his 5 questions:
Do I have food?
Do I have shelter?
Do I have love?
Do I have a sense of purpose?
Do I like myself?
DO I HAVE FOOD? DO I HAVE SHELTER?
These two are fairly simple. Do you have food? If the answer is “yes,” you are ahead of most people in the world. Most of us have way more than we need. Do you have shelter? If the answer is “yes,” then you, again, are ahead of the game. Not only do we have shelter, but we have a comfortable climate controlled home, a nice warm bed, a T.V. for entertainment, dishes to put our food on, clean water, hot showers, the beverage of our choice, the meal of our choice…you get the idea. EACH ONE OF THESE THINGS IS A BLESSING. We oftentimes take this for granted. However, one look at a refugee camp or a starving and thirsty child should be enough to remind us all we live in luxury.
Steve says, “Recognizing our blessings and being content with those blessings is the first step towards true happiness.”
DO I HAVE LOVE?
This is a huge question. It encompasses peace with self and others. Steve argues, “It means I must do everything in my power to be trusting and trustworthy.” This includes forgiveness of self and others and shedding the judgement of self and others. The way of love and peace is to not worry about the past and to not fear the future. This is a way to live completely in the moment.
This also opens up the pathway to intimacy. Intimacy should be limited to those we trust. Steve stated, “As we grow the circle of family and friends we trust, our love grows. We become more complete individuals.”
Peace and love start with the individual, not the other way around. It grows outward from inward. Love is bigger than oneself, yet it begins within oneself.
DO I HAVE PURPOSE?
Steve suggested, “This question can be periodically changed up depending on what I am going through at the moment. The basic gist of the question is ‘Do I have purpose? Am I better today than I was yesterday? Am I providing a better existence for my wife and son? Are my pursuits healthy for me and for society?’”.
There are 4 basic ways to make decisions that enable us to pursue our goals and find meaning in life:
Good for me and good for others?
Good for me and bad for others?
Bad for me and good for others?
Bad for me and bad for others?
No two people are on the same path. Our own perspective is the only one we know. It is like a fingerprint: you, and only you, own it. However, focusing on doing what is good for one’s self and good for others leads us to not kill, not steal, and not harm anyone.
“I am still growing in this area, as with the other areas, but I find when I ask myself this simple question throughout the day, my purpose and my pathway becomes crystal clear.” Steve also said he has found this approach to be most beneficial in the moment. He says he makes better decisions each time he asks himself this question.
DO I LIKE MYSELF?
This question presents itself as a challenge for most, but the general idea is this: Am I happy? Contrary to most thinking, happiness is not an emotion. It is a state of being. Happiness transcends situations and emotions. Steve said, “I am on the path to living in the here and now.” True happiness is found in the here and now. It is not found in the past nor in the future. It is happening before our very eyes. All we have to do is plug into now. Being mindful and present leaves one in a state of “blessedness.” When we feel blessed, we like ourselves. We love our life. Liking one’s self and being happy are the same idea.
These 5 questions have made a remarkable difference in the lives of every single person Steve is around. I have seen a man, beaten and destroyed by himself and others, pick himself up off the ground, brush off his clothes, and march ahead with joy and focus. Our marriage is stronger, more intimate, and more trusting than before. His relationship with our son has grown into a blooming grove of peace, love, laughter, and listening. His relationships with his co-workers and friends is one of joy and admiration.
Everyone hits a snag in the road. There is no way around it. Keeping in mind these 5 questions and what they represent helps us not only live a more joy-filled existence, but it also helps us regain our balance and find our feet after the bump in the road sends us flying.