Searching for Higher Ground: 24 Hours to a Better Life

There's a moment in one of my favorite films, Searching for Bobby Fischer, where 7-year-old chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin's chess teacher knocks all the pieces off his chess board, in an effort to get him to concentrate deeper on the way the pieces on the board were strategically aligned.

As the pieces go flying, scattering noisily about the room, Josh is at first stunned that his teacher would have done such a thing. But then, as if by instinct, Josh ponders the situation for a moment, and proceeds to stare at the now-empty board, as if there were pieces still there.

Josh has entered a different level of play, where he can now assess matters of the game without the distraction of the pieces themselves. In this place, he can see all moves before they happen. All strategies of both his opponent and himself are laid bare, without the distraction of rooks, knights, bishops and pawns. Here, he can see the end game and take the appropriate actions to ensure a winning outcome for himself.

We can take a lesson from this. In the chess game of our lives, there are all kinds of pieces on the board distracting us: obstacles from family, friends and co-workers, negative influences from the news media and entertainment industry, fear of failure, fear of success, guilt from events in our past, self-imposed resistance and rationalizations for why we are where we are, limiting beliefs we place on ourselves that put up a solid defense against our future prosperity, and the list goes on.

These are the chess pieces in our own lives that we, like Josh's chess teacher, must scatter about the room. We must, just as abruptly as he did, knock all of these pieces of resistance off our own chess boards. When we do this we will enter a different plane of existence. We will rise above our seemingly insurmountable challenges and difficulties and be able to see them in the same perspective, on the same playing field, as the positives in our lives that we so conveniently ignore.

But how? How does one begin to rise above money, relationship and stress related problems? How do we summon the courage and strength to rise above the situations that consume our every day lives? How do we knock these pieces off of our boards?

The answer lies within your own state of being. Step back and gain a higher ground on your consciousness by examining each waking moment of your life as it happens. Assess every feeling you have in every situation. Take control of it. Abandon your instinctive reactions to things. Stop yourself often during the course of the first day you put this into action.

Ask yourself these questions: How often do I get angry or impatient when there really is no need? How often do I speak of others in derogatory manner? How often do I turn down a chance to tithe? How could I have reacted differently to this or that situation in my life? How could I have responded differently to this employee? This spouse? This child? Just for this one day, think. Examine. Learn.

As you examine your feelings more during the day's activities you will most likely see a trend forming. If it's a trend toward negativity you can stop it. React to it. Change it. Turn negatives into positives. Even if it annoys you, try it, just for this day. There's no need to analyze what's in your past. With the chess pieces off your board you can see your life on a whole new level. And if you can do it for just one day, just one 24 hour period, then you can do it for a lifetime.

For the next 24 hours, try to isolate and recognize every feeling you have. Every reaction to various circumstances throughout your day. Analyze how you are responding to situations, and determine if these responses are instinctive, based on your past habits, or if they are indeed tied to a greater good that you may be striving for in your life. When you can pinpoint these feelings now, you can change them for the better in the future. Then you will ensure a winning outcome in your life.

Andy O'Bryan is co-founder of, the website which enables its members to conveniently download a constantly growing library of exclusive audio interviews with the movers and shakers in personal and professional growth. Members learn motivational tips and advice via their mp3 player, CD player or computer speakers. To learn more about membership, visit

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