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Friday, February 22, 2019

Has Your Life Become a Sitcom About Nothing? How to Exit Your Show

Our emotions don't have to rule of our minds.


“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” — Anonymous

A few days ago, my wife said something that stirred an immediate flash of anger. Perhaps you can remember being at a similar crossroads? You can:

  1. Express your anger. How did that work out for you the last time you did?
  2. Stuff your anger and silently rehearse your grievance. Again, your relationship will suffer.
  3. Choose a better way.

That day, I chose a better way. In almost the same moment my anger arose, I noticed the story forming in my mind justifying the anger. I realized anger was pre-existing in my mind and the story I was constructing was a made-up narrative designed to help me drop responsibility. In that moment of realization, the anger was gone; not stuffed, gone.

Path 3 is unnatural to our ego and requires mental discipline and practice, but the rewards are immense.

This realization happened without intellectual processing. In other words, I didn’t do a number on myself.

An hour later, I couldn’t have told you what I thought I was angry about. Something can no longer be a cause (what my wife said) if it has no effects. If the false cause is removed, so are the effects.

I would like to tell you I always choose path 3. I don’t. Path 3 is unnatural to our ego and requires mental discipline and practice, but the rewards are immense.

The process I’m describing can apply to any upset: fear, anxiety, worry, etc.

This is just one idea I will present in my workshop: “Has Your Life Become a Sitcom About Nothing? How to Exit Your Show” at FEEcon in Atlanta this June. More than 120 speakers will participate in this 3-day event; early-bird registration is now available.


  • Barry Brownstein is professor emeritus of economics and leadership at the University of Baltimore. 

    To receive Barry's essays subscribe at his Substack, Mindset Shifts.

    His essays also appear at the American Institute for Economic Research, Intellectual Takeout, Learn Liberty, The Epoch Times and many other publications. Barry’s essays have been translated into many languages, most frequently Spanish and Portuguese. He is the author of The Inner-Work of Leadership.

    Barry holds a Ph.D. in economics from Rutgers University and a B.S. in mathematical statistics from CCNY.