hal elrod emotional enlightenment

What does it mean to move from emotional reactivity to Emotional Enlightenment? How do you go from unconsciously allowing outside forces to determine your emotional state to consciously choosing which emotion best serves you in any given moment or situation?

For over 20 years, this has been an area of focus for me. I’ve learned how to accept what I can’t change, to experience painful emotions in a state of peace and extract maximum value from them, and move on as soon as it makes sense to do so.

In this episode, I want to share with you why Emotional Enlightenment matters. I want to talk about the tools and paradigms that helped me take control of my emotional state, teach you how to optimize yours, and give you the opportunity to experience a guided emotional optimization meditation–something I’ve never done on the podcast before.


  • Why every painful emotion we’ve ever experienced is self-created.
  • How the five-minute rule and the Can’t Change It philosophy led to breakthroughs in my life.
  • Why being in a state of peace diminishes our emotional pain and makes tragedy, trauma, and loss easier to navigate.
  • How emotional invincibility can become a handicap–and the extraordinary challenge I faced that led me to emotional enlightenment.
  • How emotional optimization meditation works, why I love it, and how to do it.


“The degree that we resist reality determines the degree of emotional pain that we feel.” – Hal ElrodClick To Tweet


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Hal Elrod: Welcome to the Achieve Your Goals Podcast. This is your host, Hal Elrod, and thank you so much for tuning in today. Really, really appreciate you being here, taking the time to listen. And in today's episode, we're going to talk about evolving toward emotional enlightenment. What does that mean? Well, I'll explain here in a second. I want to say this first, though. Today's episode and most of my episodes, the way that I look at this it's as if you and I were having a conversation. Now, I know it's one-sided but what I mean by that is this is never scripted. This isn't designed to be a masterclass. In fact, I'm often learning and figuring things out as I talk through whatever the topic is for the episode. It’s like if you and I were sitting down having a conversation face-to-face, whatever comes up is what comes up. And just like that conversation, I go off on tangents. I share what comes up for me in the moment. And in full transparency, when I'm done recording almost every single time, I look back and I wish I would have said things differently. Certain things, right?


I don't think you can relate to this but I would imagine that for most of us with any important conversation and I, of course, view every podcast episode to be an extremely important conversation but after I finished recording almost every episode, I think back to what I said and I wish I would have said 100 things differently. I think to myself, “Oh, that one thing I said came off as arrogant or I think it came off the wrong way. I probably offended some people with that other thing that I said.” But the reality is I don't want to go back and edit it out because I want it to be an authentic conversation. In life, we don't get to go back and edit what we said, right? Well, once it’s said, it’s said and we deal with the consequences and we have to own up to it and own up to what we said. And I want that kind of authentic relationship with you.


So, with that being said, today, I'm going to share the evolution that I have personally experienced and really that I'm still experiencing on. It's an ongoing evolution from what you might call emotional reactivity to emotional enlightenment. What's the difference? Well, we're going to talk about how to go from unconsciously allowing outside forces to determine your emotional state, right? That's emotional reactivity where someone says or does something and you feel a certain way, the emotion takes over. You might get angry, you might get upset, you might get offended, right? That’s the emotional reactivity where you're not consciously choosing the emotional state that best serves you. You're just unconsciously reacting to whatever stimulus is in front of you. How to go from that to emotional enlightenment, which is the ability to consciously choose which emotion would best serve you in any given moment or situation, and then to immediately embody that emotion fully.


And again, it's an ongoing evolution for me but I would say I can humbly say, if you will, that not that I perfected this but I'd say it's an area of expertise for me. This has been one of my primary focuses in my life for over 20 years, and it has evolved, as you'll hear about today, from being emotionally reactive to learning how to accept what I can't change, to learning how to choose the emotion that best serves me, to learning how to experience painful emotions in a state of peace and embracing those emotions even if they're painful and extracting the maximum value from them, and then moving on as soon as it makes sense to do so. So, that's what we're talking about today. And make sure you stay until the end of the episode because today is the first time that I've ever led you through a guided emotional optimization meditation experience. I've taught you how to do it, right? I have shared that concept of emotional optimization meditation but today was my first ever stab at leading you through a meditation and also with a few new additions that I've added into it just in the last couple of weeks. So, stay until the end for that.


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All right. Without further ado, let's talk about evolving toward emotional enlightenment, how to experience every moment in an optimal emotional state.




Hal Elrod: Hey, goal achievers and members of the Miracle Morning Community. Today, we're going to talk about emotional enlightenment. What does that mean? It's funny. I thought that I had coined that phrase, emotional enlightenment. And last night, before I was falling asleep, I had this breakthrough. I go, “Wow. This is my next book. This is the book the world needs right now.” And emotional enlightenment is essentially how I define the other term I've used for that is inner freedom, which is your ability to choose how you experience every moment of your life. And specific to emotional enlightenment, it's your ability to choose the emotion that you're experiencing, how you feel in any given moment. And I was all excited last night. I couldn't fall asleep. I was writing all these notes and like essentially outlining what this book would be, emotional enlightenment, how to experience every moment in an optimal emotional state.


And then I woke up in the morning and I go, “Oh, I better check Amazon just to make sure there's no other book called Emotional Enlightenment,” which is that's what I did when I thought of the idea for the Miracle Morning. I thought, “Oh, there's got to be a book out there called the Miracle Morning,” and thankfully there wasn't. But then this time there was. I looked up emotional enlightenment on Amazon, and it's a book that was published in 2012. So, I don't know exactly what that means, I guess. I don't know if I have to come up with a new title or if you can just write a book by the same title. I need a little research on that but nonetheless, I can do a podcast episode on emotional enlightenment, for sure. And we're going to approach this in a different way. There's definitely some overlap in this topic for any topics I've talked about in the past on inner freedom, on emotional invincibility, which is part of the evolution that led to emotional enlightenment. Emotional invincibility was kind of part of the evolution where it's one concept that I put in The Miracle Equation. There's a chapter in The Miracle Equation on becoming emotionally invincible. And emotional enlightenment is, to me, the evolution. It's the next level of what started out as the five-minute rule.


And so, today, I'll share with you the evolution toward emotional enlightenment and kind of this journey and how each step along the way was learning a really powerful tool or a paradigm, or a perspective that enabled more control over my emotional state for me personally. And then I taught it to other people and then, wow, it worked for them, too. And you think about it at the end of the day or at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day, I've said this before, we all want to feel good. That's what we really want. You think about, why do you do anything that you do? Why do you pick up your phone in the morning and start checking Facebook? Because of the way it makes you feel. Why do you set a goal, something you want to accomplish? Because ultimately, it's how it will make you feel. Why do you turn the TV on, turn on Netflix or YouTube or whatever? You're chasing a feeling.


And I want to start out with a quote that I'm reading a book. I think I mentioned this book in the last few episodes once or twice but it's called How to Live by Derek Sivers, and I love this quote. He said, “Most actions are a pursuit of emotions. You think you want to take an action or own a thing but what you really want is the emotion you think it will bring you. Skip the actions. Go straight for the emotion. Practice feeling emotions intentionally instead of using actions to create them.” That's what this is about. That's the essence of this is how do you choose the emotion that would best serve you in any given moment? And most of us are reactive, right? Our emotions are affected or influenced or even determined by circumstances or events, what other people say or do or don't say or don't do. Things that we expected, any expectation that we have that is not met cause us all sorts of emotional turmoil.


And I was really fortunate to learn at a young age, not the whole scope of what we’re talking about but like that first tool that I learned was the five-minute rule. I learned that in my Cutco sales training on day 2 of training, which is he said, “Hey,” he being my mentor, Jesse Levine. Jesse said, “You're going to encounter disappointment on a grander scale.” He basically said that sales is a microcosm for life. In life, you have ups and downs and disappointment but he said, "In sales, it's every day like every day is a roller coaster.” So, one day you're up and things are going great, and then maybe even that same day like customer calls, cancels their order. You're like, “No, no, I was having such a good day.” But then, oh, wait, and you're scheduling a new appointment like it's literally this crazy everyday roller coaster that again, it's a microcosm for life where just kind of your emotions are amplified.


And he taught us the five-minute rule. He said, “Look, whenever you are feeling a negative emotion,” negative being it's painful, it's uncomfortable. It's you're disappointed, you're feeling discouraged, you're afraid of failure, whatever it is. He said, “Set your timer for five minutes. Give yourself five minutes to b*tch, moan, complain, cry, vent, punch a wall, whatever.” After five minutes, then he taught us to say three really powerful words, “Can't change it.” And those three words essentially were an affirmation that, "Oh yeah, I can't change what happened five minutes ago. So, there's no point in wishing I could. There's no value in dwelling on it and being disappointed and continuing to stew in this emotional turmoil that I am experiencing as a result of this thing that happened that I wish didn't happen.”


And what I later learned, probably years later, is that every painful emotion we've ever experienced is self-created. It’s self-created by our resistance to our reality. And the moment you accept reality exactly as it is, you're at peace. It doesn't mean you're happy about it, right? If something happens that if you lose a loved one or something or any loss of anything that you really valued, that's going to be painful. And it's to the degree that you resist reality that determines the degree of emotional pain that you experience. So, if you resist reality, you go, “No, I wish this didn't happen. I want so bad. I want so bad for it to be different,” to the degree that you resist reality determines the degree of emotional pain that you experience. No one ever taught us that, right? At least, I mean, I learned that partly from my mentor with this five-minute rule and teaching us that there's no point in dwelling on something once it's already happened. If it's creating pain for you, accept it, be at peace with it.


And then I think it was years later after my car accident that I read Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now. I believe it was The Power of Now that taught me that the cause of all emotional pain is resistance. At least that's how I remembered. I don’t remember the exact words that he used but it's us, we're self-creating emotional pain based on a resistance to our reality. And that helped me understand, “Oh, that's why the five-minute rule works,” because after five minutes of resisting reality and wishing it didn't happen and being angry and frustrated or sad or disappointed or whatever the emotion is, after the five minutes, I accept it. And now I'm not resisting reality. Now, I'm not self-creating the emotional pain anymore. Now, I can give myself that gift of inner peace.


And so, those two tools, the five-minute rule and then what I call the Can't Change It philosophy, which is kind of goes hand-in-hand, those three words, for me, that was one of the most, I mean, if not the most powerful breakthroughs in my life because it allowed me to become what I came to call emotionally invincible, that no matter what happened, I could be at peace with it. And I remember I used to use this example. This is when I was like, I learned this when I was 19. So, I was still very young and relatively immature. And I remember I would use the example. I got to the point where no matter what happened, it didn't affect me because I realized that I was determining whether or not it affected me, meaning affected me negatively, right, like caused me emotional pain and turmoil. I accepted life exactly as it was always. It's a Buddhist philosophy, I believe.


And I remember I used to use the example that I think it was out of like me bragging to people. I don’t remember who I would say this to but this is in my head. It's a memory that I used to say like, "Even if like my parents died, I would just accept it and move on.” Like, now that I think about it like how callous that sounded and how callous that is. And now, and you're going to as we dive into the emotional enlightenment, you'll see the evolution of it is not about not being able to experience painful emotions, which is kind of what the emotional invincibility was about. Now, I would be devastated, right? I would cry but it would be different. But it would be also in the I would hold that emotional pain in the arms of acceptance, if that makes sense. Meaning I'd be at peace with the pain. The pain wouldn't control me. I would experience it fully and allow the emotions to come up. I mean, I'm kind of getting ahead of myself.


But the point is, I’d use it as an extreme example. It was like, again, I think it was my ego like, "Nothing can affect me. I am bulletproof no matter what happens. Even if the people closest to me were to die, I would just set my timer for five minutes,” kind of sounds horrible, "And say can't change it.” But here's the thing. I mean, as bad as this might sound, it's still very true. And in that, emotional enlightenment is the ability to choose the emotion that best serves you in any given moment. And if grief is the emotion that I feel serves me, then I'm going to spend time grieving for as long as I feel like it's healthy or necessary or beneficial. But see, that's the difference is that most of us if something tragic happens, we lose control of our emotional state. And there are many of us that are still suffering over things that happened when we were kids, people that maybe were abused as children or experienced some other hardship or trauma.


Some of us are using childhood trauma as an excuse for why we are the way we are or why we can't be the way we want to be or our lot in life, "Well, because I had these things happen when I was a child and I didn't deserve them and they weren't fair and essentially, it ruined my life. It made me the way that I am.” Self-awareness is good to realize that but at any moment you can go, “Oh, I'm blaming my past. I'm blaming some circumstance that I can't go back in time and change. I'm blaming my present on my past.” And this is about what is useful, what is beneficial, what makes sense for you. And I think for most of us, suffering in the present over the past probably isn't beneficial. It's probably not serving our highest good. Being at peace with the past, I venture to say, is much more useful, much more beneficial.


So, a year-and-a-half after I learned the five-minute rule, and I once spent a lot of time on the story because you all know the story of the, you know, I was in a car accident and found dead and all of these things. When I came out of the coma, you know, this was a year-and-a-half after I had begun my Cutco career and a year-and-a-half after I had learned the five-minute rule and I'd been practicing it and the Can't Change It philosophy and saying, "No matter what happens to me, I am at peace with it. I do not resist anything I can't change.” Oh, and by the way, I do need to share one other piece. The next evolution of the five-minute rule and the Can’t Change It philosophy was what I call, "Accepting life before it happens.” And it was the acknowledgement that, "Oh okay. So, all painful emotions are self-created. Okay. The way that we can overcome the painful emotions, we can transcend emotional pain and inner turmoil is acceptance.”


So, rather than wait for each occurrence to take place, why not just accept life before it happens? I'm just going to make a decision that no matter what happens in my life, I will accept it. In fact, I've already accepted it before it happens. And that's what happened with the five-minute rule. When I first learned the five-minute rule, I thought five minutes isn't long enough like I need the longer to be upset. But after a few weeks of the five-minute rule, I remember I set my timer on my phone once for five minutes after I had a customer cancel their order and I was like, “Ah, son of a - I can't believe this. Oh gosh, dang it.” And then I picked up my phone and I had 4 minutes and 32 seconds left, and I just had this like profound breakthrough. I went, “Wait a minute. Why don't I just accept it now? What's the point of b*tching and complaining and feeling sorry for myself for another five minutes when I could just accept it now, 28 seconds in? And then I could get on the phone and I could be proactive for the next four-and-a-half minutes and actually make up for the lost order?”


And I turned my timer off my phone and I took a deep breath and I went, “Can’t change it. I don't need five minutes.” And then I said in that moment, I remember I went, “You know, the five-minute rule, forget the five-minute rule. It's a five-second rule.” I actually have five seconds to like grunt or moan or curse or whatever and then I'm just going to accept it and move on. And then the evolution from the five-minute rule to the five-second rule became accepting life before it happens. And I went, "How about I just decide now that no matter what happens for the rest of my life, I'm at peace with it. I'm at peace with all outcomes before they ever happen.” And then a year-and-a-half later, I was in a car accident, came out of the coma six days later and I was told I would never walk again. Now, granted that it took me more than five minutes to process that, right? It took me five days, though, to be honest.


I don't remember exactly because it's a very fuzzy time for me. I just know the story that I've told ever since that car accident, which is when my dad came in a couple of weeks after the accident because he met with the doctors and the doctor said, “We believe that Hal is in denial or he is delusional because every time we interact with him, he's smiling and joking and laughing and making us laugh.” And he said, “That's not normal. That's not normal for a 20-year-old young man who is being told he's never going to walk again.” And the doctor said, "We want you to find out how he's really feeling because being in denial that will get him, you know, he can fake it for only so long, and then eventually he's going to have to face reality. And the emotions that he's hiding that he's covering up it's going to come crashing down. And we would rather him go through that process of facing his reality of possibly never walking again and having permanent brain damage.”


My body was just, I mean, to this day, it's scarred like dramatically the whole left side of my body have scars all over my leg and my arm and my eye and my ear and my chest and my waist. The whole left side of my body was crushed by the oncoming car. And at 20, obviously, I definitely was more vain back then and the idea that I’m going to have this disfigured body for the rest of my life. And so, the doctor said, “We want you to talk to Hal and find out how he’s really feeling.” And my dad came in that night and he was like his face was red. He was kind of like choking up and he said, “Hal, hey, buddy. I want to talk to you,” and he explained the doctor’s concerns. He said, “How are you really feeling, son? It's okay. I know you're a positive person and you believe in positive thinking but you also got to deal with reality. It's okay to be. The doctor said it's normal to be sad, someone in your shoes, sad, scared, depressed, angry. You know, how are you really feeling? It's okay to feel those things.”


And I went inside and it just took me maybe 30 seconds of that and I just checked in with myself and I went, “Am I sad? Am I scared? Am I depressed? Am I angry?” And I just started shaking my head and I looked at my dad and I smiled. I said, “Dad, I thought you knew me better than that.” “What do you mean?” I said, “Remember, I live by the five-minute rule?” He said, "Remind me what that is again.” And I said, “I told you and mom this so many times. You’d be so much happier if you just listened to me. I said the five-minute rule says it's okay to be negative when things go wrong but not for more than five minutes. There's no point in dwelling on something you can't change and wishing it were different.” I said, “Look, the car accident happened two weeks ago. My five minutes is up.”


I said, “I can't change that I was in a car accident. I can't change that I broke 11 bones. I can't change that I have permanent brain damage. And if the doctors are right and I never walk again, then I might spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. And if that's the case, I can't change it. But I can choose how I experience every moment of my life from this point on, and I'm choosing to be the happiest, most grateful I've ever been while I endure what is arguably the most difficult, painful time in my life.” And he checked. He was like, "Are you sure, Hal?” Actually, I remember what he said. He said, “Hal, you were taught the five-minute rule for mild adversity. That was for like Cutco disappointments and canceled orders and no sales and customers, not showing up to the appointment and all that sort of thing.” He said, "This is a little more serious than that.” And I paused and I thought for a second and I go, “Yeah.”


And then I said, "Yeah, dad, but the principle still applies. What's the point in me feeling sad, angry, scared, and depressed? How does that serve me or anyone? How does that help my recovery? How does me feeling down on myself or how does me resisting reality, wishing this accident didn't happen, being upset about it, how does that serve me?” I said, “I have to recover anyway. Why recover while feeling sad, scared, angry, and depressed? I'd rather go through this recovery, go through this difficult time in my life feeling grateful that I'm alive, that I have a mom and dad who are here helping take care of me, that I have a hospital, staff, doctors, and nurses that are taking care of me, that I have friends that are visiting me and family that are visiting me, that my brain still like I got a little brain damage but it still works for the most part. I have so much to be grateful for.”


And I want you to think about that. If you're listening to this right now, think about that. I bet you have challenges in your life. I bet you have things that you can focus on that make you feel scared or depressed or angry like life's not fair. I would imagine you have those aspects of your life just like I had many things to feel bad about. But you also have so much to be grateful for. You're listening to this right now, so you got a hearing. To be grateful, sometimes to understand like to fully experience gratitude for something, it takes imagining missing like losing that thing because we often take things for granted. Like you're hearing, how often do you sit there and go and feel deep gratitude for your hearing? Probably not that often, right? I don't. But if you lost your hearing, imagine losing your hearing for whatever reason. You've allowed a bomb went off by your head. Now, you can't hear anything. When you look at your loved ones and they're talking to you to see their mouth moving but you don't hear anything. Right?


You never could listen to music again. Watching a movie, you can't hear the voices, you can't hear the sounds. Imagine losing your hearing. That's just obviously one of five or six senses, depending on how you look at it. We can go eyesight. That'd be probably maybe the worst. But losing your hearing, imagine that. So, imagine losing it. And imagine you didn't have hearing for a few weeks or months or a year or whatever. And then imagine someone said, “Hey, I can give you your hearing back.” Imagine the gratitude you would feel, the excitement you would feel to have the thing that you never even think twice that we take for granted. So, again, I'm just using hearing as an example but that's true for anything. There are countless things for you to be grateful for. Did you have a meal today?


And when I say countless things to be grateful for, I'm talking about like any one of probably a hundred things or thousands of things that we could sit here and brainstorm a name that we have in our life, a roof over our head, people that love us, people that we get to love. Imagine if you had no one. Imagine if you have no one, right? So, we take these things for granted but I'm talking about experiencing like such deep gratitude for every bite that you get to take when you have a meal. Like every minute detail of your life. Right now, my hands are - I'm like kind of my fingers are, I'm kind of pushing them together as I talk. Like, imagine if you didn't have hands. Again, we could go on and on and on. And I didn't mean to turn the corner and focus on gratitude but the point is that when I was in the hospital and applying this to you but in hospital, I went, “Dad, I have so much to be grateful for that there's nothing worth complaining about. There's nothing worth feeling sorry for myself. I get to choose what I focus on. Why focus on that, which causes me pain when it doesn't serve me?”


If it serves me, sure. If I need to focus on the thing that caused me pain because I got to prepare for it or whatever or deal with it, yeah. But I don't need to dwell on it. The idea, to me, painful emotions are of value only for as long as you experience value from them. For example, if you're feeling fear of something, don't live your life in fear. Ask yourself a) what can I do to prepare myself for this thing I'm afraid of or b) focus on becoming fearless? I did an episode a few months back on how to become fearless. And it's the idea that we become fearless by affirming that we can handle anything that comes our way. Fear is not a result of the things that we're afraid of. It's a result of our perceived inability to handle those things. Think about it. If there's something that you're afraid of but then you realize, "Oh, wait, I can handle that. No problem,” well, now you're not afraid. The only fear is if you don't think you can handle it, if you think it's going to be too difficult for you to handle. But if you can affirm and you can embody and you can believe that you can handle anything that comes your way, then you can.


And I'll tell you, as someone who's experienced some pretty like dramatic life experiences like the car accident, I would have never. Like, if I knew that were coming, the amount of fear I would have experienced because I would have figured, “I can't handle that, I can't handle breaking 11 bones and being in a… Like, I can't handle that.” I'd be terrified but guess what? Yeah, I handled it. And you can handle whatever comes your way. I got cancer. If I would have thought about getting cancer, I would have been afraid because I would have thought I can't handle going through 650 hours of chemo. And was it painful? Yeah. But I handled it, and you've handled everything that's ever happened in your life up until this point. Now, you may or may not have handled it optimally, right, meaning you may have handled it with a lot of resistance. You may have resisted your reality and gone, “This isn't fair. I don't deserve this. This is so painful as I hate this. Why is it happening?” You may have been in a state of resistance and remember, the degree of emotional pain that we experience is determined by the degree of resistance. The degree that we resist reality determines the degree of emotional pain that we feel.


So, if you have experienced adversity, challenging times, difficult times, painful times, if you were in a state of resistance, you amplified how difficult that experience was. If you had accepted it fully and been at peace with it, the pain would have diminished. The struggle would have diminished. To the degree that you accepted reality as it was and stopped resisting, you can be at peace. You can be at peace in the midst of pain. You can be at peace in the midst of tragedy or trauma or loss. You can't change the thing that already happened. But you can absolutely determine how you experience the thing that happened. One person can be in traffic stressed out and the person next to them can be going to the same job running just as late in the same traffic jam and they can't change it so they're at peace because they realize there's no point in wishing I could change the traffic. “I'm in traffic. I'm going to be late. I won't have a consequence. I can't change any of those things. There's no point wishing I could, dwelling on them, feeling bad about them, feeling angry when I have the ability to accept and be at peace with all things, I can't change.”


So, fast-forwarding, the evolution from emotional invincibility to emotional enlightenment. So, emotional invincibility is basically the ability to not feel any painful emotions. There's a problem with that. You become, in an extreme, you become a sociopath. That's the extreme version of what you can become. I think my ex-girlfriend when I was like 21, she used to call me that. It was right after the car accident, and it was like, "Nothing can affect me, I am impervious, invincible, whatever.” She’s like, "You're a sociopath. You don't feel anything.” And she wasn't too far off because that's the challenge with this approach is it is a superpower for sure to be able to not feel painful emotions. It's also a handicap because when you don't feel painful emotions at least from personal experience, I say I lost the ability to feel painful emotions, I didn't remember what it felt like to feel angry. I didn't feel angry for years, literally, like I don't. Even to this day, I don't really get very angry. I mean, I guess, like, it takes a lot to get me there.


But I haven't felt sadness. I hadn't felt any of these emotions. Here's why it becomes a handicap, a few reasons. Number one, I was missing out on the fullness of the emotional experience of being human. Again, every emotion serves a purpose. I literally couldn't feel a lot of them. And the other problem is that going back to the sociopath label is that you lose the ability to be empathetic. I didn't know how to be empathetic. I mean, I'm talking from age 20 on. I don’t know how to be empathetic for other people. You know, somebody go, “Oh my God, I'm so sad and this and that. I'm upset,” and I'd be like, "You can't change it. Accept it. Move on.” I couldn't sit with someone and their painful emotions. And in fact, here's what I realized. This was a huge self-awareness that I had a couple of years ago that while I viewed my ability to only feel positive emotions, not feel painful emotions as a superpower, as a strength, I was actually when it came to feeling painful emotions, I was afraid. It was a weakness. I couldn't do it. And so, I set up all of these strategies so that I never feel painful emotions. And the longer I went without feeling painful emotions, the more I couldn't handle it.


And so, when someone, a loved one, when my wife, when someone was in any kind of painful emotion, it freaked me out and I would want them to stop, right? So, I would try to talk them out of feeling. I go, “Don't feel that way. Just be positive. You can just accept it. Just move on.” Well, that's great if someone has that ability. If they don't, which is probably 99% of the population doesn't yet have that ability, then ultimately, I was disconnected not only from my own emotions but from other people's emotions. I couldn't sit with them. I couldn't be there for other people because it made me feel uncomfortable. And so, emotional enlightenment, for me, this was born through an extraordinarily difficult time beyond anything I've ever experienced before. And I've touched on this throughout podcast episodes.


And again, I won't go too deep into it. But a couple of years ago, it was after I finished my chemo and I think this is because of chemotherapy, there's no way to really know. But chemotherapy is poison, essentially, and it does damage to your organs, to your body, of course, your brain. And they call it chemo brain. But I got to a point where I went through a five-month period where I was severely depressed to the point of being suicidal every day. Every day, I tried to figure out how I could take my own life, how I could kill myself. This was from about the end of 2019. November, December 2019 until June 2020 was the worst of it, where I was sleeping two to four hours a night. I was extraordinarily sleep-deprived, which just fed the depression and anxiety. I was hallucinating, thinking that people were going to kill me, and I felt like I was going crazy. I was going crazy. And I felt so much emotional pain, can't change it.


Nothing I've shared so far, none of my superpowers that I'm imparting, nothing worked. My brain was broken. It was broken. I couldn't think straight, I couldn't form thoughts. I had completely lost my identity. And I went through the worst experience of my life for these six months. I mean, to this day, still, there's remnants of it there, it is two years later. My marriage was falling apart because I was a mess. I was a mess. And I still record the podcast every week and share some positive something with you guys and gals.


But here's what it did for me, and this is actually my perspective during. I will tell you this. Maybe this is probably what kept me from taking my own life, is I accepted it exactly as it was. I hated it, it was so painful. But I accepted this, and I tried to find purpose in it. I went, maybe this is happening so that I can endure this horrific emotional pain because I don't know what it feels like. I've been without this emotional pain for 20 years and I don't understand what it's like, and how can I help someone who is enduring emotional pain get to the other side of it if I don't know what it feels like to be them?


Like I just told you, I had lost empathy. I didn't know what it felt like to feel sad and scared and depressed. I didn't know what that felt like because for so long, I had this emotional invincibility, this five-minute rule, five-second rule, can't change it, accepting life for what happened. No matter what happened when I got cancer, so I can't change it, I have cancer, I'm not going to let that bother me. And then after two years of chemo or three years of chemo, whatever it was, it was finally like, alright, we'll see about that.


And so, as I was going through this, I thought maybe I'm supposed to go through this so that I can understand, that I can empathize with people who are going through really difficult emotional turmoil and trauma to the point where they can't get out of it or they feel like they can't get out of it, and I have to figure it out. I have to figure out how to get through this so that I can help them do the same. And here we are. And here we are talking about this.


First thing I did was get off chemo against doctor's orders. He’d said, “I want you on this.” As long as I emailed my doctor, when can I get off this chemo? What criteria are you using to determine how long I need to continue taking chemo? And he said, “Hal, your cancer is so rare.” He emailed me back, “Your cancer is so rare that we're just doing the best that we can, where it's the best guess that we have. We want you to take the chemo, stay on the chemo as long as you can tolerate it.” And I emailed him back and I said, “Doctor, I literally contemplate suicide every single day.” I'd say I cannot tolerate it and I'm done, I'm done taking it.


And there was fear. My wife was afraid, my mom and dad were afraid, people were afraid that, oh, you're getting off the chemo, that's what's keeping you alive. Well, yeah, the opposite is kind of true. It was deteriorating my body. In fact, can't change it, but in hindsight, I wish I would have got off the chemo sooner. But I was already doing every holistic practice I could do to build my body up, and once I stopped taking chemo, once I stopped the pharmaceutical intervention and I focused completely on natural healing for not only my body, but also for my brain, taking natural supplements and using meditation. I continued to heal naturally, I continue the Miracle Morning, I utilize the affirmations, I utilize meditation, I utilize sound healing, I utilize many supplements, again, and healed myself naturally and healed my brain naturally. The damage that was done from the chemotherapy, it's definitely still here. I struggle a lot with mostly cognitive ability. My ability to think straight is still really challenging, but it is what it is, and making the best of it, can't change it, right? Can't change it.


Let's kind of bring this to a conclusion, what emotional enlightenment is at this point. And this is still an ongoing– I'm by no means have this completely fleshed out, I've got a lot of content, most of it I've shared, but emotional enlightenment is everything that we've talked about so far. Again, remember, the definition, and it's a working definition, I'm sure it'll evolve. But right now, I define this, it’s the ability to experience every moment in an optimal emotional state. So, optimal is you're choosing that. So, that might mean grief or sadness if you lost someone, that might be the optimal emotional state at that time.


But if you study stress, stress is a killer on the body. Stress causes your body to become acidic. It causes disease. It hurts your immune system. So, experiencing stressful emotions, which stressful emotions is a broad category. Anger is stressful. Sadness can be stressful. Anxiety can be stressful. Fear can be stressful. Typically, these are stressful, painful emotions, or what some people call negative emotions. I refer to them as negative emotions sometimes, but I don't know that they're negative, they are what they are, but definitely, they can be detrimental to your physical and mental well-being.


And so, the ability to experience any given moment in optimal emotional state means you get to choose. And for most people, if we did a survey, I'm going to guess most people want to feel good. We want to feel happy. We want to feel confident. So, to choose those emotions at will is what we're talking about. Now, one of the ways to do that is by choosing your perspective, choosing a perspective that best serves you. We did an episode a few weeks ago on how to choose your perspective, but ultimately, the first step is really acceptance, is accepting life exactly as it is. It's using the five-minute rule than using the can't-change-it strategy, realizing that painful emotions are self-created. And then that way, you by accepting life exactly as it is, that creates a neutral, emotional state.


So, imagine something happened, causes you emotional pain. Oh, why this happened, then you go, can't change it. I can't change it. It is what it is. There's no point me wishing it were different or dwelling on it or feeling sorry for myself or feeling bad. I can just accept it, be at peace, and move on. So, once you get a neutral, emotional state, then you go, okay, what emotion best serves me right now? And think about the difference of feeling grief, for example, when you're choosing it consciously, deciding that it's actually what best serves you in that moment or on that day or during this time in your life or for an hour each day, whatever, go through your grieving process. The difference between grieving where you're not in control and a circumstance is causing you to grieve uncontrollably, how different that is from going, I'm at peace with what I can't change, I'm at peace with what happened, what emotion would best serve me? You know what? I really do want to grieve, I want a good cry right now. Very different from the circumstance or the event determining your emotional state versus you choosing it.


And so, again, this is where emotional enlightenment isn't that you don't feel painful emotions, it's that you feel them consciously because you're choosing to experience those emotions consciously. And when you choose it, that means you get to choose when you're done. Okay, I've grieved now for long enough, I'm ready to move on. It's a lot harder to do that when your emotions are controlling you, when your circumstances are determining the emotions that you're experiencing and you're out of control. I mean, think about the last time you got angry. Did you choose it? Probably not. And the same goes for me, I'm not without fault here. But typically, think about a person that's angry, like they're not control– they're not choosing that. And we may never get to the point, I mean, that's why it's emotional enlightenment, to be truly emotionally enlightened is where you can, again, like at a level 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 – 10 is like where you can consciously, that moment, for the emotion surfaces, you see it coming up and you go, okay, I'm starting to feel angry. Does this serve me? Should I allow the anger to come up, to manifest? Should I embody the anger right now?


If somebody assaults your spouse, for example, and they're attacking them, anger might be the best emotion in that time to get you the courage, and I don't know, maybe it's not, maybe anger is not the right emotion, but I'm just throwing this out there, but the courage you need to defend your significant other. Maybe I need to get angry to protect what's being threatened right now. So, emotional enlightenment, it's really a distinction, it's a nuance on emotional invincibility. Emotional instability is the ability to choose your emotion, but it's kind of really about not feeling any painful emotions, and that was my limited– I mean, I was really emotionally retarded, in a way, where, yes, I had this what I would call a superpower, where I could not feel any painful emotion and only feel the emotions that I wanted to feel.


But again, the other side of that coin, the handicap was I can't handle painful emotions. So, that's why when I experienced those challenging emotions in 2019, 2020 after the chemo, it messed me up. Even my wife would– she's more emotionally enlightened in some ways because she feels all of her emotions and she would be like, “Sweetheart, it's normal to feel the way you're feeling.” I'm like, “Not for me. I don't understand. I'm the guy that teaches people how to not feel depressed and scared and, like– and I don't, I'm out of control, I've lost control.” But again, that was for me personally on my journey, I had to go through that to really get to this point of emotional enlightenment, where it's like, oh, it's not just about not feeling painful emotions, it's about being at peace with your painful emotions and allowing yourself to experience them so long as they serve a purpose.


And then it's the ability to go back to acceptance and that five-minute rule and can't change it and being able to okay, the emotions run its course. I needed to feel that. If you make a mistake, for example, and actually, this is where the sociopath comes in, if I hurt someone else and they were like, you jerk, you really hurt me. I would go, look, can't change it, accept it, move on. Like, I didn't have any empathy for them, and I didn't like them telling me that I did something wrong because that made me feel bad. And so, I would just, that you follow? Like I didn't have an emotional well-roundedness, if you will.


But the thing is, for most people, I've experienced through my speeches and feedback on books and stuff, most people err on the side of they struggle to be happy, they struggle to be confident, they struggle to be at peace with things they can't change. So, that's usually where people, they're like, yeah, I can get angry, I can be upset, I can be sad. Those are my norm. So, most people are wanting to get toward this emotional invincibility. I've taught for years. I mean, I've been giving, I don't know how many, hundreds, probably close to a thousand speeches that I've given over the last 20 years, and I've taught the five-minute rule and can't change it in almost every single speech which is great, and it's been powerful and useful for people, but I want to, I guess, for all of us, to not feel shame over painful emotions. It's really, I guess, at the core of all of this is the word peace. It really is peace through acceptance. Peace through acceptance, meaning being at peace with all of your emotions and then being able to choose, consciously choose the emotion that best serves you.


So, I hope this has been helpful for you. For me, it's been a real process learning how to feel all of my feelings, not just the positive ones, but feel all of them. I'm still on that journey, I'm still learning it. I still don't like feeling the painful emotions. I'm still learning how to be at peace with them. But I will tell you, that having that superpower, that I hope you're gaining from this episode to be able to choose the emotion that best serves you at any given time and to experience that emotion. It's powerful.


And last but not least, I almost forgot this, thank goodness I didn't. I want to run you through an emotional optimization meditation. So, I've taught you this before, but we’re actually going to do it. I'm actually going to walk you through this right now. So, for those of you, if you're not familiar, emotional optimization meditation is essentially a daily practice that enables you to implement everything we've talked about today. I shouldn't say everything, you're not implementing the five-minute rule or can't change it, those are their own tools. But the emotional optimization meditation is you choosing the emotion that you want to experience, consciously choosing it, and then it's spending one minute or five minutes or 10 minutes or an hour or whatever you want to marinating in that emotion. Technically, you're meditating, but I like the idea of marinating.


So, what you're doing is you're feeling that emotion, you're sitting with it, you're allowing it to wash over you. And what you're doing is you are programing your nervous system to be able to feel that emotion and access it at will because it's one thing to feel an emotion for a second or a minute, like if you get in a state for a minute or you feel happy for a second, but the longer you feel a state, the easier it is for you to access that state again and again and again. And the idea of emotional optimization meditation is that you're conditioning yourself to feel to be able to access the optimal emotional state at will. So, you might choose that you want to feel grateful, and again, I'm going to walk you through this, I’m going to lead you through kind of a guided meditation here in just a minute. But again, it might be grateful that you want to feel or it might be happy or it might be I need to feel confident or it might be my kids are going to wake up in an hour, I want to be playful, I want to be engaged. My wife and I or husband and I, we fought last night, I know they're feeling it and I'm feeling it. And by the way, I've done this one, where I want to get in a loving state and feel love and affection toward my significant other. And so, I want to do that before they wake up. So, when they wake up, we don't continue last night's fight, but I'm at peace.


I'm telling you, emotional optimization meditation is my favorite form of meditation, and I just came up with it. I think you know that, I don't know, in the last year or two, but– alright, here we go. Some lead to this. So, start by think of something in your life that you've been experiencing some form of emotional turmoil around. So, we're going to start there, start with the turmoil, so such as something you've been feeling stress about, could be a person or a situation or your finances or fear about, could also be a person or situation or your finances or the future of the world or our economy. Think of something in your life that you've been experiencing some form of emotional turmoil around.


Now, ask yourself if that emotion is serving a beneficial purpose in your life. My assumption is that it's not, if you've been feeling chronically, it's probably overtaking you. You probably don't like that you're feeling stressed or afraid of this thing constantly all the time. Many of us, we go to bed thinking about things that causes stress. And then we wake up, we wake up feeling depressed or scared or stressed, it becomes our emotional norm. So, ask yourself if that emotion that you've been feeling or set of emotions, that emotional state, ask yourself if it's serving a beneficial purpose in your life. And if the answer is no, maybe even if it's a nuanced no, like, well, it's kind of serving me, but it's probably indulging in that emotion a little too much. It's affecting me. I can tell it's affecting me in negative ways. Ask yourself if there is a higher emotional state that would better serve you, such as love or peace. Peace, I just want to be at peace. Peace is kind of the antidote to all of the other painful emotions.


If you're angry, feeling at peace is kind of an opposite. If you're feeling stressed, stressed, I'm so stressed, feeling at peace can have an opposite. When you’re at peace, then that's easier to choose the next emotion that would serve you. So, ask yourself if there's a higher emotional state that would better serve you, and it can be peace or love or excitement or joy or happiness. How do you want to feel? If I was a genie and I can wave a magic wand and I can make you feel anything you wanted to feel all the time, how would it be? I bet you'd pick something like, I want to feel good, I want to feel happy. God, I want to feel happy. Now, when I say that, I remember that period of time, those six months where literally, I remember, I told my wife, I haven't felt happy in so long, I don't remember what it feels like. And that was scary, that was terrifying, I thought, what if I never get back there, what if I never– think about that, to forget to feel how it feels to be happy and some of you, that might actually resonate with you right now. You might go, I don't remember what it feels like.


But you can remember, you might have to think back to a time in your life, in fact, that's the next step. Let's get back into this. So, you're asking yourself there's a higher emotion, choose that emotion. That's the next step. Choose the emotion. What's that emotion? Name it. How do you want to feel right now? We're going to do this right now. You want to feel happy, you want to feel grateful and excited, you want to feel confident. How do you want to feel? Choose the emotion, name it. Now, ask yourself what you would need to focus on in order to authentically feel that emotion when relating to your situation or that person that's causing you to feel the painful emotion or the possibility of the future. So, ask yourself what you would need to focus on in order to authentically feel that emotion. And again, you might have to just go back, if you're like me, where I go, I don't remember what it feels like to be happy, if you're like I was.


And by the way, I'm living proof that there is hope, that even if you're in that dark of a place where you think about taking your life every day, don't do it. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, even if it seems like life is hopeless and the future is scary, and maybe there's even things coming up that are not going to be good. Life is long. I know that I've endured difficult circumstances that lasted for a few years. The cancer journey has been a five-year journey that's been pretty tough. But then I don't know that I'm on the other side of it, but I'm mostly into the side of it. But my point is I'm living proof that there is hope. I just wanted to make sure I mentioned that in case you are feeling hopeless because that is a major cause of depression. When you lose hope, that's depressing, that's scary.


So, you might need to focus on a time in your life, think back to a time in your life when you felt that emotion. Maybe it was when you were younger, maybe much younger. Think of a time when you felt that emotion, when you felt confident. For me, I think about when I gave one of my first speeches and I got a standing ovation. And I remember that moment, I was like, “Wow, I did it. I got this.” I felt so confident for my next speech. I was like, “I'm a good speaker.” And of course, I was nervous for the next one. But the point is, I can picture that, I can go to that moment. I remember that feeling of confidence and excitement. It's wonderful, grateful, I just think about my kids smiling. So, what? Ask yourself what you would need to focus on in order to feel that emotion.


Now, come up with a simple affirmation that affirms the emotional state you're ready to experience. I'll give you an example. My wife and I, we bought a home on land. You could call it a ranch, I guess. We're getting animals, and I've talked about that in the podcast before, so anyway. But we got excited, we thought it was the right one. And I’m still hoping it is. But just in total transparency, we spent more money than we intended on spending. It doesn't matter. I don’t need to go into detail. Here's the point. Ever since we did that, I've experienced a lot of stress and fear. And I still do around did I make the right decision or did I make the wrong decision?


So, I recently was doing an emotional optimization meditation. I went through this process I'm leading you through, and I thought, I want to be at peace and happy in our home. I don't want to be worried about what might go wrong, if the economy crashes, if this, if that, I'm living in this state of what if. Like, it's one thing, we know better, we tell other people, we teach other people. It's easy to give advice, it's always harder to take your own advice. It's like, I know better than this, but yet I find myself feeling perpetually stressed about our financial future. And the affirmation I came up with the other day was, I love our home, and we're meant to live here. I feel so much better than the dialog that I've been engaging in or that I had been engaging in. I love our home, and we're meant to live here.


So, once you've chosen your optimal emotional state, come up with a simple affirmation that affirms the emotional state you're ready to experience. So, for example, let's say it's happiness. I deserve to be happy no matter what's going on in my life. I deserve to be happy no matter what's going on in my life. Or I get to choose to be happy, happiness is a choice. I choose happiness. Happiness is a choice. I'm choosing to feel happy despite my challenges. I deserve to feel happy. You follow? You get to choose. That's what emotional enlightenment is, it's the ability to choose the emotional state that you want to experience at any given moment for any given time, for as long as you want.


Because think about it, think about this for a second, here's a quick perspective, at the end of your life, you're going to look back, and there's all sorts of crap that you went through, good times, bad times, difficult times. My theory, I'm not at the end of my life, so I have to theorize because I'm not actually there, but what I think is going to happen is when I look back, I don't think that how I feel about my life is going to be determined by what did or didn't happen as much as how I experienced what did or didn't happen. So, for example, if there was an adversity in your life, at the end of your life, you look back and you go, man, I went through that difficult time. It was so difficult. But I think that how you're going to feel about it is when you look back and you go, but you know what? I accepted it exactly as it was, I was at peace with what I couldn't change, and I was happy even though I was going through a difficult time. I think, to me, that's what I'm going to look back on, not what happened to me, but how did I experience what happened to me? How did I respond to my adversity? Did I feel sorry for myself? Did I let it ruin my life and be emotionally distraught for extended periods of time because I'm not going to feel good if that's what I did? I'm going to go, what a waste of life? Why did I do that? Life is so precious. Yeah, the adversity was inevitable, but how I experienced it was an option. That was up to me. That was optional. And man, did I mess up? I wasted my life wishing it was different, being upset and angry over things I couldn't change.


So, come with a simple affirmation that affirms the emotional state you're ready to experience no matter what's going on around you because remember, it's about what's going on inside of you. Think of that affirmation as a seed that must be watered repeatedly, daily to grow into a new way of experiencing your life. Emotional optimization meditation, the emotion that you choose and the affirmation that you integrate, which by the way, this is a new wrinkle, a new aspect of emotional optimization meditation that I just added in a few weeks ago, which is the affirmation component. I found that that was easier for me to feel the emotion I kept affirming something like, I love our home, and we're meant to live here. I love our home, and we're meant to live here. Or I deserve to be happy, and so, I'm choosing that now. I deserve to be happy, and so, I'm choosing that now. That affirmation, it keeps the emotion, at least for me, it's really helpful so my mind doesn't wander, but just I keep affirming over and over and over, watering that seed that grows into this new way of experiencing life to experience it based on the emotions that I'm choosing.


And then, from here, and I'm not going to have you sit here with me for 10 minutes, but basically just focus on easing into that emotional state by taking 10 deep breaths, you can go in for three, out for five while repeating your affirmation. In for three, I'm happy, I choose to be happy, no matter what's going on in my life, that's my choice, and out for five. And do this to calm your nervous system and create a space for your new emotional state to grow within you and affirm that and meditate on that emotion every day so you're conditioning your mind, body, and spirit, your nervous system to be able to access that emotional state so that instead of going to bed stressed and waking up stressed, because I find that however we feel when we go to sleep and wake up, that's usually our default emotional state.


You probably heard the analogy where it's like setting the temperature. If you set your temperature in your house, then if it gets too hot, the temperature regulates it back to 70 degrees or whatever you have it set. If it gets too cold, it regulates it back. We have that emotional thermostat where if we get too happy, it is temporary and we quickly go back to our whatever temperature we're set at or emotional temperature. I typically feel kind of morose and upset and sad and scared and depressed, and that's where I'm at so I go to bed feeling that way, I wake up feeling that way. There might be moments during the day where something gets me happier, excited, or I distract myself with my TV or my phone, but I always go back to that temperature, that emotional temperature. And so, what I'm teaching you is how do you reset that temperature? How do you reset your emotions so that you get to experience life the way that you want to experience life, not based on what's going on around you, but let’s say based on what's going on inside of you, what you're choosing, choosing emotional enlightenment, choosing the optimal emotional state that you want to experience in any given moment? That is your ability. That is your right.


And everything we talked about today from the five-minute rule, except the things you can't change, give yourself five minutes to feel the pain, feel the emotional turmoil, and when the timer goes off, literally set your time off for five minutes, you say, can't change it. Take a deep breath and realize, oh, I can't change. What's in the past? Whether it's five minutes or five months or five decades, can't change it. So, the logical choice is to accept it, and then the five-minute rule becomes the five-second rule, eventually, go, oh, I don't need to sit here for five minutes, I've been doing this for a while. Now, I just am going to accept life before it happens. And then no matter what comes your way, you realize I'm in control of my emotional state. No matter what happens, I can choose to accept it and be at peace with it. God, that was empowering. It's empowering no matter what happens to you. Even if, like me, when you get a cancer diagnosis, you go, well, that sucks, I wasn't planning on that, but I can't change it, so I might as well be _____ whatever you choose. For me, it was, I'm going to be the happiest and most grateful I've ever been while I endure the most difficult time in my life. That's our ability to choose whatever we want.


And then finally, emotional enlightenment is not just turning off all those painful emotions that you become a sociopath with no empathy, like I was. Emotional enlightenment is, yes, you have emotional invincibility. It's one of your abilities, that invincibility that you can choose to not experience painful emotions if you don't want, but emotional enlightenment is the realization that, oh, every emotion serves a purpose. And so, if I experience a painful emotion, I'm going to ask myself, does this serve me? And if it does, I'm going to experience it only for as long as it continues to serve me, and I'm not going to resist the emotion and wish it wasn't there, I'm not going to resist the cause of the emotion and wish it didn't happen. I'm going to hold all of that, all of the pain with peace through acceptance. I'm at peace with how I feel because I'm choosing how I feel.


That, my friends, is my rough version of emotional enlightenment that will continue to evolve. And I'm sure we'll do part 2 of this at some point in the future. We went long today. It's so funny. It's like my dinner. Dinnertime for me was 50 minutes ago, but for some reason, I just felt inspired. I want to record this for you, and I hope it was helpful. I really, really do. And please leave me a comment if it was and let me know, HalElrod.com/podcast. This will be episode 427, so actually, HalElrod.com/427. If you would leave me a comment, I would really, really appreciate it. And I'll respond back to you.


And then also, if you do me a huge favor, if you got value from today or you've been listening to the podcast for a while, would you leave me a review on iTunes? I'm like the only podcaster, I think, in the world that doesn't ask for reviews, and I should, I probably should. So, this is probably like the fourth time I've ever asked for reviews in 10 years, but I'd appreciate that. So, if you could take just a couple of minutes and write a review on iTunes, that would mean a ton, or Apple Podcast, I guess, it is now. Either way, even if you don’t write a review, I love you, I appreciate you. Thank you so much for listening today. And may we all start to develop the superpower of emotional enlightenment because I do believe that, well, every single one of us, life does what it does. More challenges are ahead for all of us, and our ability to handle those challenges is what's going to matter more than anything. So, love you. Thanks for listening. And we'll talk to y’all next week.



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