Are You a Peaceful Warrior? Are You Living on Purpose?
by Mitch Axelrod

One of the best perks of being a speaker is getting to listen to other speakers. Recently on a Sunday, I had the good fortune to speak after Dan Millman, author of many books including the one that put him on the map nearly 20 years ago, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior.

I met Dan in 1997 at the Maui Writer's Conference. That Sunday, I bought Dan's book Living on Purpose (this is my fourth Dan Millman book). I highly recommend you have at least one Dan Millman book in your library. And, I made it a point to attend Dan's session, because he is a joy to listen to. In this article I will highlight the 10 key points Dan shared.

Here are the 10 key points Dan shared, with my comments in (parentheses).

1. There is so much illusion in the world, you must become really good at distinguishing illusion from truth. (I call this illusion, Success B.S.™ and I'm writing a book to be published in 2002. I'm sure you can figure out what the B.S. stands for. I bet you could write your own chapter, if not your own book.)

2. Distinction: knowledge, ideas and concepts vs. use of them. (We are on information overload. Success in life is not only about stuffing our heads with more information and knowledge, but using what we learn in the real world to better our lives. We already know more than we can use in 10 lifetimes. Everyone who is overweight knows what to do to lose weight. It's not the knowing that loses the weight; it's the doing).

3. Take ONE DEEP BREATH every waking hour.

4. Choice means giving up something you want for something you want more. (For more on the distinction between choice and decision-making, read my special report, "10 Tips for Making Good Decisions Without Stressing Out!" at

5. Distinguish between the "real" world and the "ideal" world. We strive to live ideally but that's an unrealistic and virtually impossible standard to attain in the real world. Ideally, many of us would choose to eliminate all the guns and weapons of mass destruction in the world. This is not reality. (Many people try to live an "ideal" or perfect life. See more about this in the next section, the paradox of perfection).

6. There are two levels of "reality" in the world: conventional and transcendental. Each "reality" has a different set of "truths." Conventional reality is physical, emotional, and mental, which we can see, feel, touch, taste and smell. We are born, we live and we die. We are all separate beings. If I stub my toe, do you feel the pain? These are conventional truths. In the transcendental world we are spiritual beings, connected as one with the universe. (Rather than battling over which view of "reality" is right or true, we are better served to make the distinction and recognize there is truth in both worlds, and that they can co-exist).

7. Dan suggests there are four purposes to life:

  1. Earth is a school, and life is our daily classroom.
  2. Our work or job IS our form of service to the planet.
  3. Life is about overcoming challenges, problems and hurdles, as well as finding and fulfilling our talent.
  4. Making moment-to-moment choices means we NEVER have no purpose. Our purpose is the next choice.

8. If we don't learn the easy lessons, life will continue to present them in harder ways until we "get" it.

9. Distinguish between influence and control. Influence is exerting effort in a desired direction with NO guarantee of results. Control is the ability to will it, intend it and, MAKE it happen. We are responsible ONLY for those things we can control. GET THIS: we CANNOT control our thoughts or emotions, therefore we are not responsible for our thoughts and emotions.
This was a powerful and potentially, controversial distinction, one that truly explodes some of the myths we accept as truths. We are taught to believe we can and should control our thoughts and emotions. We spend a lot of time, energy and life force trying to control the things that are uncontrollable. "Control your thoughts, and you control your life" is a popular notion. The truth is, we can't stop a thought from happening. Try to stop a thought from entering your mind before it happens. Can't do it. You might be able to influence, push away or distract yourself after a thought appears, but you CANNOT STOP A THOUGHT FROM ENTERING YOUR MIND. Thoughts happen without our conscious control. We are NOT responsible for our thoughts.

Can we really control our emotions? Let's test it out. Right now, TRY to feel terrified; now, depressed; now, surprised; now, anxious; now, sad. Here's a really tough one for some people: feel happy. Really TRY to feel these. Dan says emotions are like the weather patterns of the body. They pass. We are NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR EMOTIONS. You have NO control over your emotions. Trying to control things you have no control over is a misuse of vital life force and energy. If we can't control thoughts and emotions, what can we control?

WE CONTROL WHAT WE SAY. WE CONTROL HOW WE ACT AND BEHAVE. WE HAVE CONTROL OVER WHAT WE DO.Spend time and energy controlling that which you have control over.

10. Spiritual maturity includes three things:

  1. Accept feelings and thoughts as natural.
  2. Know your purpose.
  3. Do what needs to be done.

Thanks Dan for an uplifting and stimulating experience. For more on Dan Millman's work, visit his website.

Mitch Axelrod is a speaker, writer and motivator. You may visit him at . Sign up for his excellent and inspiring newsletter that addresses business and life issues.

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