We heard a good joke recently. A man and his young grandson are shopping in a supermarket. The little boy is fussing and whining, wanting to leave.

The grandfather says, “Be patient, William. We only have two more items to get and then we can go.”

A few moments later, the grandson is again complaining, and the grandfather says, “Just one last item to find, and then we can go, William.”

Finally they are in the checkout line, and the boy is still acting out and making a scene. The grandfather says, “We’re almost done, William. We just have to pay, and then we can go to the car.”

As they’re leaving, a woman comes up to the man and says, “I have been observing how patient you are with your grandson William. I want to congratulate you on your kindness.”

The man replies, “Thank you, madam, but you misunderstand. I am William, my grandson’s name is Harry.”

I’ve told this joke a few times, and it always gets a laugh. It’s such a common situation that it resonates with everyone. But, as with many jokes, there is a deeper side to it.

We all find ourselves in situations that are unpleasant, but from which there is no easy escape. We can learn from William how to handle such times. If we let frustration get the upper hand, it will lead to anger, which will then lead to conflict. It is a self-reinforcing negative cycle experienced by both individuals and nations.

Or, we can break the cycle by affirming a positive quality that neutralizes the negative energy. Here, William is using a sort of simple affirmation, a “Be patient” mantra. Repeatedly Paramhansa Yogananda talked about the importance of positivity on the spiritual path. There are three simple steps to greater self-control:

1) Control the reactive process. Try to give yourself a little time, even a few seconds, before you respond. Those few seconds give you the space to act rather than react. Take a few deep breaths. Count to ten. Repeat a simple affirmation. Stretch your spine. Do anything to gain the space you need, and you will find it much easier not to get drawn into an adverse response, which would sustain a negative cycle.

2) Neutralize the negative force coming toward you with its positive opposite. The boy was impatient, so the grandfather affirmed patience. Affirmations work because the world is made up of opposing polarities. A positive thought creates a positive flow of energy in the neural circuits of the brain, which creates a positive magnetism, or force field. The opposite is, of course, also true, and most of the time people simply react, reinforcing the negative magnetism, which leads to conflict.

3) Communicate your positive response. The grandfather didn’t ignore the boy, he reassured him. When faced with negativity, be sure to let the other person know that you have heard them. Otherwise they will get angrier and shout louder just to be sure they have your attention.

The central point here is that trying to make the world conform to your wishes will only lead to frustration—it is hard enough to control our own behavior. But that, my friends, is the task given to each of us. Self-control is the fast lane to Self-realization.

In patient joy,

Nayaswami Jyotish

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  1. Often, the positive and negative emotions fight each other. This type of stories teach us to pause, take a deep breath and maintain silence. Once the thought process allows us to settle with positive emotions, our response is reflected in actions. The more we practice, the more we improve and change ourselves. The habit and behavior will change gradually. Patience is the key. Namaste.

  2. Respected Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,

    A funny story to bring home the point. Great Advise and very useful techniques. I would sure practice them. Thanks

  3. Respected Nayaswamys Jyotishji and Deviji,

    Thank you very much for this valuable guidence, Somehow this was what I needed to hear.

    Thanks Again.

    Yours In Soul
    Snehal Bhat

  4. And remember,you dont have any right,nor do you have any room/To hurt,judge or condemn any other/Because like you,all have fallen short and so it is no wonder/All need love,understanding and patience…all need help,encouragement..and peace and happiness too.

  5. Thank you, dear soul, for the ongoing reminder that God and Guru have us in their Light and…we need be ever willing and clear channels for that Light to flow. Namaste

  6. Dearest & Respected Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,

    Thanks for such a nice description of mind and self control.. Although you have narrated the sequence of hidden events as joke , I think it as a very good lesson to me. It is thought provoking, and teaches how to take control of one self without getting provoked and disturbed when one is pulled from opposite direction of ones move.
    Thanks and thanks again.
    Jai Guru

  7. I love this one! Reactivity ALWAYS gets me into trouble and disturbs my peace of mind. Patience and “ not taking the hook” really pays off if we can do it! The pausing with a breath or two is a great technique I shall try to remember.



  8. I slipped into the temptation this morning and the negative cycle just spun tighter and faster. It’s helpful to remember that this is exactly the stuff we are to practice with faith and diligence. Very, very helpful to be reminded of the method(s) that work! Thank you so much for this!
    Jai Guru!

  9. Jyotish Ji !
    We really need this everyday. As sister Gyanamata said :

    “I have come to measure spiritual advancement, not alone by the light that surrounds one when he meditates or by the visions he has of saints, but by what he is able to endure in the hard, cold light of day.”
    Thank you for reminding me to control the reactive process and the techniques to do so.

  10. Wow! This is so helpful! Thank you. I love the affirmation part. Affirm the positive to counteract the negative.

  11. Dear Jyotishji,

    Very good joke with needed and useful advise.Enjoyed it.Thank you for sharing .

    Aum Guru,


  12. I sometimes find myself acting in almost direct contravention of what I am praying or affirming for. This makes me frustrated and sad.

    I am coming to realise that initiating and maintaining a dialogue with my Higher Self – or whatever name I feel inspired to call him/her/it at any particular time – reflecting on what I am asking for, and how my actions don’t always reflect my aspirations, is a nice way of getting back and staying on track.

    It is a regular struggle but stories such as this are VERY helpful and I much appreciate them.

    Thank you.

  13. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish JI,

    Thank you for the blog :).
    Much needed at this time. Thank you for the tips. With his grace, we are marching towards Self-control, the fast lane to Self-realization.

    Jai Guru


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