In 2014 I took action to shake up my life, after years of trying to convince myself that the path I was on would eventually become more bearable. I left my job, spent a couple of months helping my critically ill parents, and ended up traveling around the West for 10 months, recovering from too many 60- to 90-hour work weeks.
I visited friends and family, and I took housesitting “jobs” so that I could try living in different parts of the country. Anything to extend the time I needed to replenish my inner well, which had run dry.
One winter day I left some dear friends and drove south through the high desert of Colorado. Grimy freeway snow coated the windshield, and I could barely see through the filth. Every few miles I had to spray the windshield to see, but I was afraid of running out of fluid before I reached my destination of Albuquerque. I stopped for gas, washed my windows, and enjoyed the clear view for about a minute before it was obscured again.
My windshield was a lot like my life. Moments of clarity would come, and then real life would throw slush at me.
Ever have that feeling?
I got to thinking about how easy it is to focus on one annoying thing like the slush and blow it out of proportion until it ruins your day. But it doesn’t have to ruin your day, if you change your perspective about it. In the past, I would have focused so much on the messy window that I wouldn't have enjoyed any of the drive.
In essence, I would have lost that day. Lost it to annoyance. To irritation. To a flood of frustrations.
Have you ever let a small incident ruin your mood for days?
I hope you can say no. But I myself used to be a master at this. I’d hone in on a small incident that maybe took 30 seconds and let it wreck a morning, a day, or even weeks. I’d keep it all inside when sometimes a simple conversation could have sorted things out.
Sometimes it was a larger event—in which case I could go months sharpening my reactions like an ice pick. I would stab multiple conversations with my anger. It would show up in an argument, maybe years later, about something completely different! Pity the poor person who was the brunt of that well-fed fury, who had no idea why I was so ticked off.
Back to the snowy road I was on. I decided it was more critical to see well than to preserve my windshield wiper fluid. I could always refill it. It would take time, but what time would I save if I crashed?
Crashing is what we do when we let a little thing take over our lives, when we let it ruin part or all of our day, our friendships, or our relationships. When we could do something simple to fix it, change it, clear it up, or simply let it go. But what is that something, and how do we learn to do it?
As I drove into the mountains, I was struck with the idea of using building blocks to gain perspective on our feelings and struggles. What if you had a set of “work” blocks instead of a workbook? Something you could move around to exercise the principles of joyful, mindful living.
From what I had read previously about neuroscience, I knew this could break through some of our resistance to change by creating new patterns of thinking. By practicing our new patterns. And by bringing play to the process of self-growth.
From this initial idea, over the course of two years, I created writeable, washable UnBlocks™ and more than 70 exercises for using them to shake up your thinking and revamp your life.The UnBlocks™ guide you to living the way you really want to live. They help you unblock the things that you inadvertently put between yourself and peace of mind.
Stinking thinking can ruin your life. I’ve fed too much of my allotted time on earth to hurt, resentment, anger, self-righteousness, and fear—to name but a few of my unhealthy thoughts and emotions. I have wallowed in a deep mud hole of wretchedness, a swamp that I created. Yes, me—I made that swamp. The truth is that it wasn’t circumstances that made me unhappy—or I should say, that kept me unhappy. That was all my own doing.
These days I rarely sink into that self-inflicted, soul-sucking garbage. And if I do, I don’t stay soaking in it for long. I’ve used the UnBlocks and the Happiness Builder Program, and I've changed.
If I can change, anyone reading this can change.