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It must be ok.

You saw someone standing up for something you believe in. And you didn’t like how they did it, but you saw other people cheer. So it must be OK.

So one day, while standing up for something you believe in, you go against your values by acting badly when you do it. But as badly as you act, those who agree with you still cheer. So it must be OK.

And while you were basking in the glow of being approved of by people willing to overlook your bad behavior because they agree with your message, someone else was watching and thinking, “It must be OK.”

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The messenger matters

If the person representing your opinion or desired way of life is exhibiting signs of bad behavior when they do it, you can be certain that the majority of people the message is intended for will focus on the bad behavior and ignore the message.

You can cheer on the champions of your cause all you want, but if they’re not setting a good example when they represent your ideas, they’re doing more to ensure that your cause or organization will be perceived badly than they are in changing anyone’s mind.

Those who represent you aren’t doing you any favors if they’re not setting a good example when they do it. And if they’re communicating your ideas in a way that your opposition isn’t receptive to, you can be almost certain that the bad behavior is what they see, not the ideas.

Just because you agree with the message being shared doesn’t mean you should tolerate or ignore the bad behavior of the person conveying it.

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More hate is not the answer

Just a reminder that not everyone you connect with is working with the same level of awareness or maturity or mindset. And certainly, no two people are working from the same set of life experiences.

Some people you encounter online seem to have such high standards that it would be nearly impossible to meet them, and yet their own personal standards are so low that the only enjoyment they get is in trying to exert their dominance over others or make other people feel bad. Some of the people you encounter beat their wives or their children. Some of them solicit prostitutes in their private life while preaching the sanctity of marriage in their public one. Some of them have weapons caches and manifestos. And some of those same people are planning what will become the next mass shooting.

Some of the people you encounter put themselves to sleep with alcohol every night. And some of them want to preach to you about how to live your life and tell you why your ideas about anything they disagree with are wrong. Some of the people you encounter will tell you who or what you should respect while simultaneously having no respect for themselves or others. Some of the people you encounter believe that the world would be better off if anyone with an opposing opinion, different skin color, or different religion didn’t exist. And even some who claim to worship a loving God are the same people who don’t hesitate to wish death upon those who don’t live their lives the same way they do.

Some of these people demand that you respect their opinion or their way of life while at no time showing any respect for your own. They will hurl insults, make threats, and say derogatory things while extolling upon the reasons why their desired way of life is better than yours.

And as much as all of these things may want you to return hate with hate, it isn’t the answer. Because hate isn’t going to solve our problems. And we can all find far better ways to deal with life’s issues than attempting to use hate as a means to fix problems and get what we want.

It should go without saying, but there are alternatives to getting angry, being hateful, and wanting to see other people suffer because they don’t believe the same things that you do. And those alternatives are likely are a far better reflection of the person you truly want to be than the person you are when you are trying to hurt people.

Your insults, no matter how witty, aren’t doing anything to advance your cause. And your nasty remarks aren’t doing you any favors either.

Your hate isn’t helping.

You can be almost certain that the path to a better future doesn’t involve saying things to other people that if other people said them to you, you’d accuse them of behaving badly.

We can do better. More hate is not the answer.

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My first one star review (and a lesson on criticism)

If you’ve read Lessons Learned from The Path Less Traveled, you’ll know there’s a whole chapter devoted to dealing with criticism. It’s impossible to get through life without doing or creating something that gets criticized. That’s life. Some of the feedback you receive on your journey will be fair & given with good intentions. And some of it won’t be. That’s life, too. You can’t control what people do, but you can control how you respond to it. This includes criticism.

Learning to deal with criticism in a positive & productive way has many benefits, not least of which is it allows you to grow from it if you find truth in it or move beyond it if you don’t. Either way, it doesn’t have to have any impact on your well-being or sense of self-worth unless you choose to let it.

This 1-star review could be 100% true. In which case, my book missed its mark with this person. And there’s nothing wrong with that nor does it subtract from the value that other people find in it. Depending on the person, my book may not be worth the pages it’s printed on. And to someone else, invaluable. In writing anything, all I can do is focus on the potential value my work provides. How people respond to it is up to them.

In closing, everyone gets criticized at one time or another. If it holds truth, learn from it. If it doesn’t, it probably has more to do with the other person than it does with you. Either way, it’s a learning experience and life goes on.

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Fix the problem not the symptoms

If you are unreasonably disturbed by simple things that could easily be ignored, this is likely a sign of much larger issues in your life than those you are choosing to get upset about.

It is far more positive & productive to focus on fixing the real source of one’s problems than it is to punish others as if they were the issue.

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What would The Rock do?

Just want to take a moment to highlight how Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson talks to and about people, his career, his family, and his life.

The love, care, passion, sincerity & gratitude is obvious even when he isn’t explicitly pointing it out. This is a very wealthy man who doesn’t make other people feel poor. And the world is a brighter place because of it.

He sets a very high bar, but just imagine if more people — especially those in power — tried to reach it.

I don’t think the journey to get there is a secret. It starts with being sincere, grateful for what you have, and leading your life with love for others and not being consumed with love of money, power, fame, or hatred of other people.

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Making a difference requires mindfulness

Do you care about your friends? Your neighbors? Your community? Local businesses? Your city? If the answer is yes, what are you doing that demonstrates these things in a significant and meaningful way? It’s one thing to think & say that you care. It’s another thing entirely to actively demonstrate it through your actions & lifestyle.

Making a difference means being mindful of the people, places, and things that you can make a difference with and then taking action in a meaningful way. The act of not making things worse is not the same thing as making things better.

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Lessons Learned from The Path Less Traveled by Zero Dean

The fact is that everyone – on some level – cares what other people think. So the more you try to act cool by making a show of how much you don’t care, the more you betray the image you’re trying to project. Caring about things or what people think is not the issue. Letting other people have control over your sense of self-worth is.

If you’re trying to earn affection or gain favor by propagating whatever sentiments society considers cool at the moment, you’re likely far more guilty of approval-seeking than you want anyone – including yourself – to believe.

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