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The Secret to Life

In 1991 a funny but poignant movie by the name of City Slickers was released in theaters nation wide. It made people laugh, it made people cry, and others were made to think about life in general. We all go through moments in our lives when we reinvent ourselves. The main characters in the movie tried to do this by having affairs with Grocery Store cashiers, running from two ton beasts with horns attached to their heads, trying their hands at being a cowboy, and learning what it means to do the right thing by finishing what you start.

Jack Palance's character, Curly, had a line in that movie that has resonated in my mind for many years. He was speaking to Billy Crystal's character at the time. He held up one finger and told him something I never forgot. The entire sceen is below, embedded from for you to see.

So what is that "one" thing? Curly was right, it really is different for all of us. For Billy Crystal, he discovered what that one thing was. Curly never told what his was, but it was obvious even in this scene that he had already discovered his own. I think that was because Jack Palance himself identified with the character.

Jack Palance had discovered that one thing early on in his life. It wasn't the ability to act or having a career in Hollywood. Jack Palance was a Heavyweight Boxing champ, winning his first 12 matches by TKO. His boxing career ended with the beginning of WWII though, and after he was wounded in combat, he received the purple heart, good conduct medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. He never watched any of his own movies. He spoke 6 languages including Ukrainian, Russian, Italian, Spanish, French and English. He was a graduate of Stanford University. He had a cattle ranch with over a thousand head of cattle and yet was a vegetarian. He was a painter and a published author, and the father to three children. Jack Palance had peace of mind. That was his "one" thing.

Having peace of mind isn't easy to accomplish. It's not for the lazy or reckless. It's not for the judgmental, the selfish, the mentally weak or the physically strong. Peace of mind comes only to those who have obtained the peace of heart.

There are those out there who would disagree with what I'm about to share, and those who may agree with it. There are also those out there who may learn something, so please continue to read if you have an open mind.

The way I deal with stress is unusual to most. That is my "one" thing, the way I handle situations. That directly relates to my secret to life - less stress.

If something is bothering me to the point of feeling stress, I sit back and think rationally. If I can fix the situation causing stress, I stop worrying and fix the situation. Then I don't have a reason to stress. If I can't fix the situation, then I stop worrying because it's out of my hands and I move on to the next situation that I can fix and I don't stress. Life has managed to throw one curve ball after another at me and either I step up to the plate and knock it out of the park or I step aside rather than let it hit me in the face.

Patience is key. To sit back and breathe a moment helps me to clear my mind. I can feel the immense stress leaving my body with each breath I let out. I know right now that I have a trip that I can't wait to go on. Rather than wish the time to go by faster, I resolve myself to understand that the time will pass on its own. If I rush the time, I may miss out on the richness of day to day life that so much deserves to be lived. If I'm stuck in a moment that I would prefer to go by faster, I take a breath, let it out slowly, and think rationally. This will pass. This will not last. All things in life are fluid and constantly changing. I have lived through some of the hardest trials a person can endure and came out the other end a stronger and more determined person than ever. I can survive anything at this point, so why would I rush my way through things? I may miss out on an important moment that could change my life as I know it if I went through life rushing this way and that, not paying attention to the little details - the way the rose petals bend under the dew or the way someone's facial expression changes just by smiling at them.

When someone tries purposely to upset me, I turn off the negative emotions. They never did me any good anyway. I think calmly and rationally. In many cases, if the point was to upset me, the only thing it does is upset the pursuer. I make it obvious that they are not able to raise my blood pressure and that angers them more. The more calmly I state the facts with a slight smile on my face, the more angry they get, the more I find it humorous that I've once more succeeded in winning the argument by not arguing. They may grow as angry as they like to the point of yelling and screaming at the top of their lungs and yet I will remain stationary with a slight smile on my face. If I can fix the situation, I will. If I can't then I won't worry about it.

People confuse this rational side of me with coldness; contemplative, calculating cruelty. That's not it at all... it's patience. To be patient is to rule your own world.

I'm such a never ending patient person that I would rather be an hour early for something than have anyone wait 5 minutes for me. I am more patient than most and don't mind waiting. Because of that near phobia of being late, I've only ever been late twice in my life... once was to deliver my son. He was a few days overdue when he was born.

Patience and rationality have provided me with the control over my own life that I've searched for as long as I can remember. Even the moments of removing myself emotionally in order to think rationally about a situation can be contributed to patience. Some people think I'm too young to know what my "one" thing is, but I know already. It's different for everyone, but my "one" thing is patience. Through patience, all things are possible.

"One of the most important reasons for living is to do something - live outside of yourself and put together an idea, an idea that you want to explore and then complete... Awaken your creative sensitivities!"

- Jack Palance.


  1. I was right! This is an Epic blog. Not sure what my one thing is honestly. I know the things I hold high in regards like friends and loyalty. Not sure though if I've been able to make the key clearly fit into place and put all the puzzle pieces together.

    I think overall we are both wise beyond our years and it often serves us well. You know yourself well and are able to rationally look and evaluate yourself that is a true gift. I also think your part Vulcan, but that's just me.

  2. I could live with that being a great compliment - being part Vulcan... I kinda like that idea actually. I do find negative emotions most illogical.

    Seriously though, that's not the first time I've been told that. It's just the first time it's been meant as a compliment.

  3. Your blog is amazing!! This post is most thoughtful and informative. Now as far as my one thing... I don't think I have found it yet. Because I do stress about things. Some more than others and some longer than others and yet some more deeply than others. How do I make it through every day? Maybe it's knowing that the sun is going to come up again tomorrow and that the Son of God, our Savior suffered everything I have suffered and will suffer and He did that because He loves me and it gives me a way back. A way back to Him and our Father in Heaven. A way to be with my family for eternity if I so choose. Maybe my one thing is Him. I'll have to remember that more often!! :) It ought to be Him, for me anyway.

  4. My secret is always living completely in the moment. Take in the sights, the sounds, the smells of everything in good and in bad times. Build upon these experiences and learn to live your life so that you put yourself in more positive situations then negative one's. Plan for tomorrow, but make sure that you take the time to experience today, because at some point for each and every one of us, tomorrow never comes.

  5. Vicki - thank you so much!
    It does sound to me that your one thing has revealed itself in your response. Perhaps you just haven't realized, it turned out to be rather complex - it's LOVE. The love of your family and of your Savior. Because of the love you give and receive in your life, nothing is impossible.

  6. Another smile received and given back. Thanks Lady!! You are right!! :)

  7. Okay after great thought (see your doing your job...inspiring me and making me think) I have decided my one thing is ...determination. With it I can do anything. Without it little to nothing happens.

    Bad day? Get determined to accomplish things and get that good feeling. Life going bad? Determination to make changes and get back on track. Determination to be the best friend I can be. Determination to always be honest...etc...


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