John was trying to live his life with lots of calm and tranquility. But today his wife, Sharon, was trying to mount a new phone on the wall and had a very frustrating time of it. John resented her for putting so much negative emotion into the atmosphere.
Which means basically he was saying (if he was bold enough to say it out loud), "I know the circumstances are upsetting, but please change your way of dealing with your circumstances so they don't bother you as much."
But what about John? Sharon being upset is his circumstance. Can he change his way of dealing with it so it doesn't bother him as much? And if he can't, how can he ask her to? And if he can, why does he need to ask her to?
So John thought about it. And he asked himself, "Given that my intention is to live in serenity, what would I have to think about Sharon being upset that would result in me being serene about it?" In other words, if he was already serene about it, what would he be thinking?
And he came up with an answer. He'd be thinking something like this: "It was just circumstances. Those circumstances would have frustrated anyone. She got extra upset, but she has genuinely frustrating circumstances compounded by other frustrating circumstances in her life. She's dealing with it the best she can and actually she's dealing with it successfully for the most part. So she lost her head a little. Who among us has not lost his head a bit when thwarted repeatedly by frustrating circumstances?"
There is an old Russian saying that before you concern yourself with the dirt on someone else's doorstep, first clean your own. John learned this lesson for himself. And his calm helped Sharon find her calm.
Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth, Slotralogy, Antivirus For Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.