Honor Your Life
by Gary Null, Ph.D., with Vicki Riba Koestler
Do you honor your life? Many of
us never even think in those terms. We may work day to
day at jobs we abhor just to make enough money to
survive. We focus on our problems, which, at times,
appear to overwhelm usóill health, relationship
issues, dissatisfaction at workóand lose sight of our
Itís important to take a
periodic break from our daily routine to assess where we
are and where we want to be in our life process. The
following questions have been designed with that purpose
in mind. They will give you the opportunity to step back
from your situation so that you can become objective and
anxiety-free. That will enable you to think about where
you are in your journey and what your next steps should
Does fear motivate your
I grew up in a small town in
West Virginia where the mindset was to put in your 30
years with the fire department, or the school system, or
wherever your secure job was, and then retire. At 17,
people were already talking about retirement. The
assumption was that without a totally dependable job you
would be insecure. In fact, most folks seemed to believe
that only when you retired would you be fully secure!
This is a philosophy of life
based on fear. If your choices are based on fear, where
is the joy and spontaneity of life? Where is there room
for appropriate risk-taking? How is it possible to wake
up each day feeling that this is a wonderful life?
With fear as a big factor, life
becomes controlled and predictable. If you canít
control something, you donít do it. Think of the
things in life that you have not experienced because you
could not control the outcome. Think of a place you
havenít visited that you would love to see. How that
could expand your world! Think of the people you havenít
spoken to because you were afraid of criticism. That
fear may be due to a time in the past when someone
expected perfection from you. Now, to feel a greater
sense of security, you do only what you know you wonít
fail at. And you try to please everyone so that no one
can say youíre not a nice person. At the end of the
day, when you have not done anything of importance to
youóyou have not made time for meditation, for
hobbies, or for quality reading thatís just for you,
nor have you allowed yourself time for a leisurely
dinner or an evening strollóyou have lived a day that
does not honor your spiritual, emotional, physical, and
Every choice, then, is of
paramount importance. Choose wisely to create a life
that honors your essence. Focus on what you want to
achieve. Begin by understanding who you are. Each person
has his or her own unique energy. Some are creative,
some are leaders, others work well behind the scenes to
support a cause. Get in touch with who you are. Honor
When you set a goal for
yourself ask yourself whether this is something you want
to achieve or whether it is simply expected of you.
Notice the difference. I do what I feel I need to doóshare,
communicate, challenge. Iíve spent my life trying to
honor my gift. Everyone has a gift. What is yours? Donít
let fear stop you from using it in a positive way that
honors who you are.
Are you enjoying life?
One way to determine whether or
not you honor your life is to judge how you feel. Are
you happy in your relationships? At work? By yourself?
Lots of people spend eight or more hours working at jobs
that bore them. Theyíre just putting in time. Nor are
they happy in their relationships. They stay with a
partner to keep from feeling alone rather than for the
joy of experiencing life together.
As a result of their
disenchantment, people either exhibit anger or they
repress it, often channeling it into unhealthy habits
like drugs, alcohol, gambling, overwork, or gossip.
Others develop an unpleasant attitude. Theyíre sharp
and sarcastic, quick to retort. Or they walk around
trying to dominate their environment.
Consider the quality of your
life. If your work honors you, you will look forward to
waking up each morning to begin it, and each dayís
energy will be well spent. When you are happy in your
relationships, your heart will be warmer, your mind
fuller, and your spirit more complete.
Have you deconstructed your
What constitutes friendship?
The answer to that question is different for each
individual, but itís important to ask it, and to be
honest with yourself. Is a friend someone youíre going
to actually see and do things with, or is it someone you
will speak to occasionally on the phone? When you were
growing up a friend was someone you spent time with, and
generally a lot of time. Do you have that same dynamic
with your friends now? Should you? You need to determine
what you are looking for in a friendship and then take
the time to ask yourself, "Who are my friends? What
do they mean in my life? Do they meet my needs for
friendship? And what am I to them? What are they getting
from me?" Deconstruct your friendshipsói.e.,
determine what you needóand then reconstruct your
friendships so that you can get what you want from them.
As a result, your life is going
to change. For instance, you used to consider your
bowling partner, Charlie, your friend, but now you
realize that he was always putting people down. By
deconstructing the relationship, you realize that he is
not what you want in a friend anymore because you donít
want to hear someone putting other people down. So you
tear your friendship apart, analyze it, and then reel it
back up. When you build back up thereís a whole lot
less of what was there. Youíre not going to listen to
racist statements any more, youíve decided. Youíre
also excluding sexist statements. Youíre excluding
gossipy statements, and so youíre going to have to go
to Charlie and say, "Iíd still like you to be my
friend, but I have changed. Iím not the same person
that I was before. Hereís what Iíd like you to
consider changing if you want to be my friend."
Charlie will say either, "Iím not going to change
for you," or, "You know something? No one ever
told me that. Iím glad that you had the honesty to
tell me something about myself that allowed me to see my
blind spots. Thank you for caring enough to be that
Youíve presented choices, and
you donít know whatís going to happen. But if you
now know what you need to have a whole and balanced
friendship, then you have a responsibility to focus upon
what you want, to put your energy into it and say,
"This is what I need." Of course Charlie may
use this opportunity to deconstruct the friendship as
well. So he might come back and tell you things about you
that have started to bother him. "Youíre
sometimes arrogant," he may say. Or, "Every
time we get together, youíre late. I feel like you
think your time is more valuable than mine." If you
can discuss all these issues with Charlie in an open
way, youíll probably end up with a more meaningful
friendship than if the two of you had just left
everything status quo.
Are you process-oriented, or
Weíre a highly competitive
society that likes only winners. So we have NBA champs,
Super Bowl champs, and boxing champs. We even compete in
our personal relationships. In fact, almost everything
we do is a form of competition, and most of it is very
unhealthy. All this competition is not meant to improve
us. Itís not meant to help promote inner development.
Itís just the way weíve been conditioned to act. We
pride ourselves on beating people, and categorize others
as being either winners or losers. The losers are sad
and dejected, while the winners are wonderful. But this
is all just a game. People shouldnít take it that
seriously. As with baseball, in life youíll win one
season and lose the next. Itís not all that
significant. We just make it seem so.
Most of us deny the importance
of process. In this fast-paced world, the end is
all-important, as opposed to the means of getting there.
Think of all the money made at the expense of other
peopleís suffering. Look at junk bonds, at pesticides,
at silicon breast implants, at the land mines that cause
an injury every 10 seconds. We donít stop to think of
the consequences of what we create; rather, we
fast-forward in our minds to the results.
What if instead of being
motivated just by what we have to gain, we were focused
on the process of getting there? We would be less
concerned about achievement and more centered on
growing, learning, and being aware of each moment. The
process of living would become as importantóand in
some instances more importantóthan the goals achieved.
That would improve the quality of our lives. We would be
able, for example, to take a day off from work to spend
time with our children, stead of working all hours,
Ask yourself how much of your
unhappiness is the result of being too focused on goals
and results. Shift your focus to the process of life.
Thatís where your energy should be. Then, no matter
what you achieve, you will be able to accept it. Look at
a marathon. No one in the crowd remembers anyoneís
names other than those of the first one or two to cross
the finish line. Yet everybody who finished the
marathon, all 29,994 people, did it for the enjoyment of
the process. They didnít have to win for the race to
Similarly, losing weight is a
process of learning to change habits and, therefore,
feel better about yourself. So it doesnít make sense
to beat yourself up for not losing the magical number of
pounds you think you ought to lose. If youíre focused
on the end result only, youíre going to try any
drastic means to get thereódiet pills, fad diets,
liposuction, stomach staplingóand never learn a thing.
In fact, the all-too-common yo-yo phenomenon will result
in your gaining everything back that youíve lost, plus
more. So itís better to focus on the process of
becoming healthy. Of course youíll have a goal and youíll
want results, but that should not be your main concern.
Rather, your focus should be on the process of feeling
better each day. That way, every moment counts.
Do you take credit for your
Iím a big believer in giving
yourself credit for every single thing that you do. That
means that 10, 20, or 30 times a day, take one second to
stop and say, "Iím doing the right thing."
And say, "Iím happy with myself."
When you become your own
support system you donít rely on the approval of
others. Thatís because you build inner confidence. A
friend could make a negative remark, for example.
Without the habit of self-encouragement you might feel
bad about yourself or angry at the other person. But
when you have given yourself approval all along, you donít
take the negative comment to heart.
Are you realistic about goals?
There are a lot of options to
choose from in the world; itís up to you to make the
choices that are right for you. I recommend setting a
daily goal to make better choices. Then set a weekly
goal, and then one for the year. As weíve stressed,
youíve got to keep your goals realistic; if you
overreach youíll soon be self-sabotaging and ditching
the whole effort. Also, remember that the journey is as
important as the end point. That said, here are some
hints for making your goals happen.
- Prepare an outline of what you
want to change and achieve.
To make a goal realistic, youíve got to see it in
black and white. I create boards and write down the
projects I plan to complete. The boards keep me focused.
That way I am more likely to achieve what I set out to
do. Keeping focused will help you when resistance sets
in. Whenever you go in a new direction, there is a part
of you that says you shouldnít change. You may hear,
"You canít change that. Thatís not right."
Remember, you are making changes for you.
- Do your homework.
Itís one thing to know that you want to be out of a
bad situation. Itís another to know how to go about
doing it. Unless youíre prepared, you may be jumping
out of the frying pan and into the fire. Donít be
compulsive; prepare for change. Thatís an important
part of mastering life. You wouldnít walk on stage to
perform a piano concerto without years of preparation.
Mastery takes time.
Someone recently complained to
me, saying, "Gary, I donít want to live in
Brooklyn anymore. My family lived there, my familyís
family lived there, and everybody expects me to live
there too. But I want to live in a place thatís not
congested, not crime-ridden, not filled with prejudice.
I want to get more out of life." This person was
ready to just pick up and leave. I suggested doing some
homework first: "Why donít you travel to
different places on weekends? Stay within a reasonable
traveling distance. Then take a four-day weekend each
month and go someplace farther." The person did
this, traveling throughout the United States, and
finally settling in the beautiful town of Boulder,
Colorado. That city supports this personís lifestyle
with its health-minded orientation.
Another example is a
schoolteacher I know from the Bronx who retired at 46.
This man had always been enamored of the arts and
languages. I suggested visiting Barcelona, Spain, and
visiting Italy as well. I thought he should see what
life was like in the Mediterranean. Now he lives in a
beautiful home in Spain, and couldnít be happier. With
his pension he is able to afford a villa, a cook, two
gardeners, and a driver. Heís only 20 minutes from the
capital, yet he has 31 acres of land, which includes an
olive grove. He makes his own olive oil. He sent me a
video telling me of everything going on and he said itís
just heaven. He is able to grow his own flowers and make
his own flower arrangements, which brings him great joy.
When youíre from the Bronx you generally donít go
out and hand-pick flower arrangements!
By the way, with these two
examples I donít mean to put down New Yorkís outer
boroughs. There are plenty of great, livable
neighborhoods in them; the point here is that these two
people were looking for a drastic change from what they
had, and in order to successfully follow through on that
they had to do their homework.
Do yours if youíre
contemplating a similar change. Donít be impulsive.
Donít just quit and take off. Prepare for a
transition. Prepare yourself mentally, and then prepare
the resources you will need to make that transition.
- Prepare yourself mentally for
the challenge. I was
recently counseling a terminally ill person who was told
that he was going to die because of liver cancer that
had metastasized. His cancer is very advanced and he is
taking pain medication for it. He asked me for a
protocol to follow. I told him that the very first thing
he should do is prepare himself mentally for the
challenge so that every thought is on doing something
positive. I advised him to not make the fear of the
disease all-important in his life. Being overwhelmed
takes up all of oneís energy. He needed to take back
the energy to regain control of his life.
I could see that there was
a sense of optimism and joy on his face after our talk.
He had come to me with a slumped posture, but he left
with a surge of energy. Thatís important. Each day we
have to feel that our challenges are going to be
supported by our passions.
- Remember that passion is what
drives you. Itís what
keeps you going day in and day out. Look at Ralph Nader,
Michael Jacobson, Sydney Wolf, or other people who have
lived their lives in a committed way. Many thousands of
people have daydreamed about being one of Naderís
Raiders and making a difference, but they didnít have
the passion to follow through for any length of time.
They worked at a cause for a week and then stopped. Iíve
had so many individuals come to my office to help me
with projects or issues. Often they begin with great
interest and enthusiasm, but a day or two later I wonít
see them again. They have no passion.
Unfortunately, much of our life
these days is filled up with junk, and we tolerate it.
That weighs us down and buries our real passion. So you
have to choose. Either put your energy into what is
essential to you, or waste your time on nonessentials.
When the nonessential has replaced the essential in your
life, itís as if youíre at a meal but youíre
perpetually eating the after-dinner mint and skipping
the main course. All you get is a little taste in the
mouth for two or three seconds.
How many doctors are living
nonessential lives because they no longer believe they
can cure anyone? How many teachers are living
nonessential lives because they can no longer teach
anyone? Many people are going through the motions every
day to earn a salary, but they arenít making a
difference. You look in their eyes, and you see coal
dust where once there was a crystallized diamond. The
spark is gone. We get burned out from leading
nonessential lives. And then we think thatís all there
- Begin with small changes.
I donít believe in the big-change concept, at least
not for most people. Many people think they are going to
change suddenly, but that approach generally doesnít
work. To realize this you have only to look at the 100
million overweight Americans who diet every day; yes,
they do lose weight, but only to gain it back.
Now picture yourself losing
weight on a small-lifestyle-change plan, rather than on
a strict, artificial diet. Youíre not gaining it back,
because you arenít dieting. Youíve uncluttered your
life and you are not focused upon what is nonessential;
your health is your number-one priority. Before, eating
was important to you for all the wrong reasons. You ate
for comfort, to feel good when life was stressful. Now,
when you eat, you eat for the right reasons. Youíve
made dietary changes involving juicing, taking
nutritional supplements, and cleansing. Youíre
certainly not starving yourself. What a difference there
is in that approach! You are working on yourself, making
all the small changes necessary for a healthy life,
rather than expecting miracles. And itís working.
- Accept that you cannot control
all results. A major
frustration most people have is their inability to
control outcomes. What we can control is our ability to
do the things we know how to do well. We therefore keep
doing the same things over and over and over again. But
that makes for a boring, tedious life. The idea is to do
new things, even though you wonít succeed at first.
Thatís how you learn. And attempting the new can
create wonderful experiences for you.
Now Iím not saying that youíre
going to like every new experience. What I am saying,
though, is that you should not prejudge any experience
based on your fear of not being able to control it. Do
things simply for the joy of doing them. Youíll find
that you enjoy certain new experiences, which you can
then spend more time on. Otherwise life becomes boring.
The average person follows the same routine constantly
during his or her whole life. Most people could live the
rest of their lives by pressing a button that says
"repeat." I find that appalling, donít you?
- Look at your gains even when
the results are not what you wanted.
Thereís a gain in everything. Accept that and realize
that you can feel good about what you are doing even
when you are not getting what you want from it. You can
still feel good for having done it. To give an example,
I was leading a national championship race recently and
feeling really good. Then I developed cramps, and I
couldnít work them out. I had the choice to either
stop, as other athletes frequently do in such a
situation, or just continue and enjoy the race. I chose
the latter course. Even though I didnít achieve a
personal best, I experienced joy in the process of
racing. There was something to be gainedófinishing
something that I had started and savoring the activity
of it. Thatís how we have to look at life. We are not
going to win at everything we do. But we can always
benefit from the experience.
- Be flexible. As
I write this I am in the process of looking to purchase
or rent an office space to create a holistic medical
center because I counsel so many people who need quality
medical care. I canít give them medical treatment;
they have to search for doctors on their own. Often the
doctors they find do not follow my suggestions.
Sometimes their egos get in the way of true service, and
they charge outrageous prices. So Iím trying to set up
a center where truly holistic, humane practitioners can
Anyway, every time I find an
office I begin to reformulate what I will do in that
office depending upon various factors. For example, one
space is 4000 square feet, while another one spans 6000.
One is uptown while another is downtown. I am constantly
reformulating ideas. Iíll probably see dozens of
spaces before I find the right one. But if I donít
keep myself flexible, I may pass one by that truly meets
my needs. That will leave me feeling forever frustrated
as I continually look for the "perfect" space.
Think long-term. Be patient in
your journey. Thereís no stopwatch that you have to
abide by. Give yourself time, hold to your higher
ideals, and be flexible. Before choosing my ranch in
Texas, I looked at hundreds of ranches throughout the
United States. Brokers were constantly sending me
videos. The process, from start to finish, took four
years. Finally, I found land that I turned into a
beautiful place. The same process was true for my ranch
in Florida. I looked at numerous places; many of them
looked good. But I wouldnít have been able to do as
much with them as I was able to do with the one I
finally chose. It took patience.
So be patient, be flexible, and
reformulate your ideas. If one of your ideas doesnít
work, rework it, modify it, mold it until itís usable.
Sometimes weíre too rigid, and that works against us.
- Stop focusing on your
limitations. See your positive attributes.
Donít accept your imperfections as limitations. All of
us are imperfect. Look closely at anybody, and you will
see his or her imperfections. We try our best to hide
our imperfections. We use cosmetics. We use haircuts. We
use clothes. We use language. We use everything we can.
We use our mastery of something to hide the
imperfections of what we have not mastered, but all of
us are living embodiments of imperfection.
Thatís okay. There is no
perfection in life. Thereís only process, and weíve
all begun a process. If I donít blame myself or beat
myself up for what Iím not, then I can accept what I
am. And if I can accept what I am, then I can grow. If Iím
always angry about what Iíve never achieved, then I
will deny the virtue of what I am at this moment. And if
I deny my basic virtue, then how in the world can I be
complete or self-loving?
- Never fear being
introspective. If youíre
introspective youíre going inside to resolve your
conflict instead of outside. The only thing you can fear
from that is meeting the real self and being angry that
you didnít embrace that self long ago. Thatís where
forgiveness comes in. Stop comparing yourself with
others. People in this society tend to say, "At
this age I should be this, and I should have that."
You canít. You are who you are, and youíre at where
youíre at, and thatís where youíve got to start
the process. Donít look at someone else and say,
"They must be happier, or better, smarter, or
wiser." You donít know what anyone else says to
himself with his own inner voice.
Iíve had the chance to
counsel some very famous, powerful, and successful
people. On the human level, not one of them has any more
going on than anyone else. Take those people outside of
their areas of expertise and power, and theyíre just
like everybody else. Thatís one of the reasons
celebrities want to be away from everyone who is,
so-called, common. They donít want you to realize how
close you are to them. They want to make you feel that
theyíre uniqueówhen theyíre not.
Yes, thereís a lot of room
between where you are now versus perfection. But donít
overvalue perfection, and donít undervalue where you
are. Youíve survived and learned a lot. Give yourself
credit for that.
Gary Null. All Rights Reserved.
from Gary Null's Book,
Boomerís Guide to Getting it Right the Second Time
Gary Null, the popular Pacifica Network talk show host, is a consumer advocate, investigative reporter, environmentalist and nutrition educator who has written more than 60 books on health topics. He says that, "You must be empowered before you can be whole," and he empowers his listeners with life-changing facts that promote wellness.
Mr. Null has conducted over a hundred major investigations and has produced numerous documentaries in which he encourages his viewers to take charge of their lives and health. Among his dozens of videos are titles like "The Pain, Profit and Politics of AIDS," "Chronic Fatigue," "Diet for a Lifetime," and "Cancer: A Natural Approach."
Gary Null lives the active, healthful life that he advocates. He regularly competes in races and marathons and has trained thousands of people in his "Natural Living Walking and Running Club" to do the same.
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