'Cold shivering sleep on a damp grass bed.'

I’m gonna share the story of how I stayed happy when I was homeless.
Cool, Lemme Read!

It was morning, but the clouds had already gathered & started to rumble.

The sky over Toronto was gray, and downtown where Hailey and I were, looked even grayer.

My feet were killing me from weeks of living on the streets. I couldn’t walk anymore and we didn’t even have enough to stay up all night in an internet cafe.

I knew we needed a creative solution, but none were really jumping to mind, y’know?

So I did what most peeps do when they get their backs to the wall.

I gave up.

Yep.

I let go, admitted most of my life was out of control, and then… I enjoyed the day.

Hailey and I read a book, we shared a McDouble, and we played a game. I did my best to make her happy… but it felt forced.

Sometimes the people around us aren’t able to see our situations too positively. Sometimes I can’t, lol.

I needed a break.

For me, bathrooms became the safest of havens, a shelter from the harsh elements, where no one would bother me, a peaceful, zen oasis in a concrete jungle.

So, I went to one of the nicer stalls in the Manulife Center, took a notepad out of my pack, and started writing.

Shelterless, a storm coming, and I chose to write.

I’ve written many millions of words in my life, most of it lost.

And I’ve written lots that I appreciate ’bout life —in much darker times— than most. I’ve filled up hundreds of pages with art & writings & ideas about things I love. I’ve filled up hundreds of text files with the same.

So…

If you spend thousands of hours swimming, what are you good at?
If you spend thousands of hours engineering, what are you good at?
If you spend thousands of hours appreciating things, what are you good at?

Exactly.

I got good at seeing the best in things, and turning negatives into opportunities. And a lot of it shines through in my writing and conversation.*

*I also have times when I can be extremely negative. I’m kinda swing-y that way, but they’re rare.

That said, I didn’t know what the day would bring, where we’d sleep that night, and everything looked shitty, period.

I was broke, didn’t feel comfortable turning to family or friends (they had a poor record of supporting my life-choices), I didn’t want to enter ‘the system’, and I didn’t want to hear any negativity from Hailey…

So I wrote good things, and it helped me feel better, and I’ll explain the magic of this simple-but-effective technique a bit later in the post.

Point is— in a time of powerlessness, I took a solid step towards feeling better.

I left the stall and went back to my girl. I had an idea to help her mood, so I took us to the library to scan Craigslist for opportunities.

Time passed slowly, but that night I had an even better idea.

I created a bed out of nothing.

Or at least, almost nothing.

I made it out of our clothes & bags, then slept next to Hailey under a really big tree in Queen’s Park.

And you know what? After I found a place on the ground with no lumps… I slept great.

I mean really, really well.

It was one of the best, most energizing sleeps of my life.

The waking up was a bit rough, though— Did you know that dew will suddenly appear under you during the night, so that you wake up in a cold puddle of soaked clothes? Neither did I.

I was pissed at waking up to such bullshit, but I also woke up to no alarm, on my own schedule, and to a client in my inbox wanting some web design work.

It was enough to get me some shelter and back on my feet.

So what’s the story mean?

Well, to me it means that if you’ve got your back to the wall & the world’s looking bleak & nothing seems to be working— write something positive to shift your mood.

It’s a simple action that helps you focus, and life responds to focus.

There’s always something around to write with, and on.

Focus is a vital skill, and writing is a gateway that even a kindergartner could pull off.

And I was blessed to use it to help me get through some deep shit.

Basically…

We’re all gonna go through some shit.

lol, right?

Sure, somewhere in the back of our minds, we often believe there’s a way to avoid experiencing shitty things.

Which is why we worry and try to avoid things like oh, say, being homeless.

We wanna avoid pain.

Bzzzt. Wrong.

You can’t avoid pain— it’s part of life. Like birth, growth, and death. You never hear anyone trying to avoid being born, or avoid growing, but you always hear about people trying to avoid pain.

It’s silly.

You can’t.

Not one person in the history of humanity has lived a life free of pain.

But you can experience it all differently.

Like all successful peeps do, experience pain in different way.

I can’t guarantee they all write positive things in times of stress, but they have attitudes, ideas, and ways to feel differently about their painful experiences.

Read their biographies and you’ll see that at a dark time, they were able to summon something from within and focus on something beautiful, valuable, and positive.

Successful peeps appreciate things often, they appreciate the sun that rises, the air we breathe.

Take a moment, breathe it in now.

That shit is a blessing, you didn’t need to earn it, but it supports and energizes and soothes.

Successful peeps have deep desires and powerful beliefs that something will get them through, and they don’t spend their time bitching in e-mails and blog posts.

If you really feel like you need to express something — there are millions of words to choose from to express yourself. Try some good ones.

“I remember bein’ blind to it ’til the day I put my mind to it Pen and pad on the dress for me to fine tune it I sat in a corner, made up my mind do it.” – Rick Ross, Rich Forever

Focus. Take responsibility for your choices and that crappy hand life dealt you.

Do what you want, live how they want, and have whatever fun you can scrounge up.

So I’ma give you my top positive-writing tool.

It’s ripped off almost entirely from Abraham-Hicks, who’s meditations, process, ideas, and speeches I’ve listened to heavily for years.

They were the inspiration for the movie ‘The Secret’ and they basically started the law of attraction movement.

Now this law of attraction stuff is pretty ridiculous to most peeps— if that’s you, fine, keep trying standard strategies & tactics if they work for you.

Either way, I’m sharing something super-fucking-valuable and it’ll change your life if you give it an honest, open-minded shot.

It’s either that or wait til your back’s to the wall, like I did. Ready?

It’s a writing tool called an ‘Emotional Grid’

And it’s what I used when I was desperate, my life was totally out of control, and I couldn’t make anything I wanted to happen… happen.

‘Making’ things happen can be a major source of pain.

“I want more money”, “I want better friends”, “I wanna get laid” were all things I thought. They were all appealing things I wanted to experience.

But why did I want that stuff?

‘Cause deep down, I felt it’d make me happy.

Peeps just wanna be happy. We just wanna achieve our dreams. Is that so wrong?

Of course not.

And I’ve been focused on that my whole life, and for a while I thought I could “make” people happy with my logic and my words (’cause let’s admit it, my logic and my words are super-awesome :P)

Thing is, no dream ever comes true while we’re trying to make it happen. They come true while we’re being happy human beings and enjoying the process.

I’ve tried to make a lotta stuff happen, and it ‘not happening’ is really painful.

Life’s bigger than making things happen. Life’s more mystical than that. Life’s way beyond the right strategy, the right tactics, or the ‘right’ anything.

Peeps who ryze to great heights tend to thank (and tap into) greater powers 🙂

The most powerful way to change your life is emotion.

Ever tried consciously managing your own emotions?

It’s not hard, but it’s certainly rare.

Learning to embrace and express ’em can help a ton, and if you’re able to sit down and write out some better, more desired feelings is a game-changer.

Abraham-Hicks teaches ’emotional grids’. They’re simple and powerful and I’m gonna take you step-by-step through one.

And you know what it really is? It’s got a fancy name, but it’s just like, 7-to-9 words— but not just any words.

It’s positive, emotional words with deep personal meaning, that focus on what you want.

Let’s say you’ve been struggling with something for a long time (money, health, relationships, homelessness, etc.)

You choose words that are powerful direct opposites of all that pain, use a thesaurus if you have to.

If you’re tired of ‘struggle’, use words like ‘ease’, ‘flow’, ‘comfort’, etc. Get the idea?

Cool.

I’ll show you one that I used for homelessness, ’cause I didn’t want to be homeless, or separated from Hailey. I didn’t want to beg, or feel like a loser.

Those were important desires for me, but I felt powerless to reach ’em. The only action I could take was to focus, write, and subtly shift my emotions.

Which, turns out, was a powerful thing by itself.

I needed to create an emotional grid to rely on, so the first word I wrote was “ease”, and I put it right in the center.

Then I wrote “inviting” and “welcoming.”

Then I wrote “stable” and “comfortable.”

Then I wrote “fun” and “affordable.”

Then I added “appreciated.”

And I finished with “loving.”

Much of my homeless years were relatively positive.

For most, being homeless would be a dark, painful, scary time —and it had some pretty dark dealbreakers— but much of it was pretty positive.

I was shelterless but I felt free, happy, and at peace. Writing helped me me manage my emotions well.

And not long after I shifted my emotions, a solution presented itself.

Out of the blue, a friend I hadn’t talked to in 3 years e-mailed me and said: “J, honestly, I’d like to invite you to live with me. I’d feel better if you and Hailey came to stay at my place. I don’t get a lot of company and you’re such a joy to have around, I’d gladly have you stay here.”

So Hailey and I moved in with him, and it felt like heaven.

And the more I write focused, positive, emotional words, the more things go my way.

Now, I had to figure this out ’cause I got my back to the wall.

Hopefully no one’s forcing you to be in some horrible situation just to learn the power of emotional grids.

Hopefully you get to read about it from me, and learn from my dark times.

This. Is. Worth. Mastering.

This isn’t some chump-change thing to try once — it’s something to practice. Something to make habit, and it’ll change your life. It’ll take you far towards your dreams and wants, and even better than that, it’ll make the “hard” journey actually enjoyable.

This is close to a magic bullet.

It’s not perfect, but it’s powerful and rare.

I’m sharing it here, but it’s still rare, ’cause it’s only meant for people who’re ready for it. Who get it.

My friend & copywriter, Jennifer Price, says #WordsMakeItReal and she’s right.

It’s easy, takes no money, barely any time (I did it in a bathroom stall), and it brings insane results.

BUT…

(And this is a key point…)

It takes focus.

Once you’ve established your emotional grid, you can’t spend the rest of your day worrying.

You gotta take a breath and focus on that beautiful feeling of ease, or pride, or comfort or whatever you put in your grid.

Do it well.

If you do anything in your life well, make it this.

Please, I care about you, I want you to succeed, and I want you to feel better.

Will everyone who reads this try it? No. Will everyone who reads this “get it?” No. But if my story has touched you at all, use it, and share it with someone else.

The world can use more happy people. It really can.

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