I recently spoke at a church service held in a hotel ballroom. After the service, a fellow told me, “On my way here, I mistakenly went to another hotel where another church was holding a service. As I sat down, the preacher was blasting the audience with a hellfire and damnation sermon. He kept ranting about how sinful we all are and how we are all going to hell unless we toe the line. The more I listened, the more awful I felt. It didn’t take me long to figure out I was in the wrong service; his speech was definitely not the one I came to hear. So I politely left and found my way here, where I felt a lot better listening to your talk on the power of love.”

You cannot afford to hang out in a place that keeps you smaller than you are. How many uninspiring church services, circular-reasoning board meetings, dates from hell, and soul-numbing conversations have you painfully endured because you believed you had to stay, while your inner being was screaming at you to move on? If something is right for you, it feels rewarding. If it is a mismatch to your spirit, it feels stifling. Trying to convince yourself otherwise will only prolong your agony and delay your joy. Yet joy is the only thing you cannot afford to postpone.

If you are currently watching a bad movie in the form of a relationship, job, or bodily condition, leave before it gets worse. I am not suggesting that you run away. I am suggesting that you do whatever you need to do to make it better. Ideally you can create shifts that take you to a new level within the relationship or job. Your pain may be calling for an attitudinal upgrade rather than a departure. Whether your situation is asking for an advance or an exit, you cannot afford to settle for less than what you really want. Werner Erhard suggested, “Live as if your life depends upon it.” It does.

Behind every “no” you utter lives a greater “yes.” Saying no to working overtime is saying yes to quality time with yourself or your family. Letting go of a relationship that deadens you, opens the door to one that enlivens you (maybe with the same person!). Turning down an invitation to break your integrity is to affirm that your values will work for you if you trust them.

The universe is trying to give you what you want, but you have to make space for it. To put this principle to work on your behalf, recognize that there is no private good. What is truly good for you will serve and support others. If something is not working for you, it cannot be working for others. When you give yourself permission to succeed, you give others permission to fulfill their destiny, too.

The night before a Hawaiian seminar, I had a thrilling dream that I was swimming with dolphins. The next morning I sat in a perfunctory meeting, bored. All I could think about was going to the beach. At the first opportunity, I excused myself and headed for the ocean. As soon as I arrived, a large pod of spinner dolphins swam into the bay. I dashed into the surf and spent a long time cavorting with these amazing creatures. It is said that once you have looked directly into the eye of a dolphin or whale, you are never the same. I agree. I am so glad I followed my intuition to step away from a limiting situation to taste a higher dimension.

On the eve of my being ordained as a minister in a Hawaiian spiritual church, I invited my eight-year-old goddaughter to the ceremony. “What’s an ordination?” she asked. When I explained, she answered, “I don’t think I’ll be there. I’ll be bored.”

I had to laugh; her honesty was disarming. How many weddings, bar mitzvahs, and luncheons have I attended which, if I were honest, I might have declined, confessing, “I don’t think I’ll be there. I’ll be bored.” Now I’m not suggesting you utter those words or be rude or unkind. I am suggesting that you have a right place in life, and when you are in it, you are being extremely kind. Your friends’ gatherings are important, but if they are not meaningful to you, why go and be a downer to people who are there to have fun? Either go with a whole heart, or don’t go at all. Paramahansa Yogananda taught, “Manners without sincerity are like a beautiful but dead woman.”

The only thing more important than being good is being real. Authenticity is kinder than resignation without conviction. Truth leads to good faster than good leads to truth. Ultimately truth is good, but you have to live it from the inside out.

The Book of Genesis tells us that God instructed Abraham, “Leave the land you know and go forth!” At key times in our life, each of us must let go of the familiar to claim the possible. If you find yourself in a situation that is sapping your life force, the only thing more impolite than leaving, is staying. Honoring your inner guidance will set forth a chain motion of healing that will stun you in its wisdom and magnificence. There is a place inside you that knows where you belong. Respect it, and your life will be a testimony to joy and service.

Alan Cohen is the author of the best-selling The Dragon Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and the acclaimed Why Your Life Sucks and What You Can Do About It. Join Alan in Maui for his life-transforming Mastery Training and new Oxygen Training for healers and therapists. For information on these programs and a free catalog of Alan’s books, tapes, and seminars, phone 1-800-568-3079, visit www.alancohen.com, email admin@alancohen.com, or write P.O. Box 835, Haiku, HI 96708


  • Alan Cohen is the author of many popular inspirational books, including the best-selling Why Your Life Sucks and What You Can Do About It, the award-winning A Deep Breath of Life and his newest is the prosperity guide Relax into Wealth.

    Alan is an Empowering Caregivers featured expert, learn more about Alan

    Or visit his website at: alancohen.com.