Whether you like Oprah or not (I do, a lot), there is no arguing that she is one of the most influential people on the planet in the spiritual arena, something she has focused her work on for at least the past twenty years or so.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that she singlehandedly put Eckhart Tolle on the map with her recommendation of The Power of Now.She’s also helped to launch my favorite teacher, Mickey Singer, into the spiritual stratosphere by recommending The Untethered Soul, which Oprah calls, “One of the most important books of my spiritual growth and development.”

Turns out she’s also a big fan of Mickey’s latest book, Living Untethered. Her favorite passage from the book is this:

The moment in front of you is not bothering you. You are bothering yourself about the moment in front of you.”

I get why this had such an impact on her. It’s all about our external versus internal worlds.

Some examples of how this plays out:

-You hit five red lights in a row, resulting in a screaming you slamming the steering wheel. The red lights didn’t cause that. Your reaction to the red lights caused that.

-Your wife called you cheap for insisting the family get fast food for dinner rather than go to a decent restaurant. Your wife and her comment didn’t cause you to sulk for the rest of the night. Your reaction to her comment caused that.

-You look in the mirror and see several new gray hairs, which puts you in a bad mood. The gray hairs didn’t you in a bad mood. Your reaction to them did.

Some may respond to this by thinking it sounds overly harsh. That Mickey, and I, are telling you to stop being so sensitive/angry/temperamental, etc. That’s not what it’s about. And it overlooks something supremely important. What?

That this provides a HUGE opportunity for us.

How? Because if we don’t just cave in and react to the moments that bother us, we can significantly improve our lives.

Marital spats

How? I’ll give you an example from my life. I’ve been married for seventeen years. Like any married couple, we do our share of fighting/bickering. Luckily, it’s been a pretty normal, unexcessive level. But we do it.

Since I’ve been adhering to this “it’s not the moment in front of you that’s bothering you, but how you’re responding to that moment,” mantra, the amount of times we’ve gotten into prolonged battles has declined. Why?

Because if my wife says something that really pisses me off, shortly after absorbing that feeling and weighing how I should respond, it occurs to me:

“Okay, that thing she just said really pissed me off. But I have a choice in how I’m going to respond. I can either let it ruin MY night (and probably hers, too) or I can stay level-headed and deal with it in a calm, measured way. It’s MY choice. I can feel pissed off and upset, or…not.”

What I’ve been doing for a while now is putting the situation back on me.

“I’m not feeling pissed off right now because of her. I’m feeling pissed off because of how I’m responding to what she said.”

Do you see how this could eliminate megatons of negative energy and bad moods in your life? Most of you get this immediately. Think about all the times we say, “Screw him/her. I’m not talking to him/her unless they apologize. That was SO insensitive!”

Then we spend the next hour, evening, three days, week, month stewing over the fight. And feeling miserable because of it. What a waste!

The takeaway

Bottom line: Conducting our lives according to that quote by Mickey Singer is incredibly beneficial. And well worth working on.