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What matters most: Peace in my heart

April 19, 2009
By MATTHEW GOODEMOTE, For The Leader-Herald

I decided this week I would focus on the power of thoughts.

My life has taken a surprise turn this past month. I have fallen prey to my desire for success. This is an area I am very familiar with, but truthfully felt I had come to peace with a few years ago.

I have spent the last several weeks in meetings and at night planning my next business move.

It wasn't until a weekend away with my family that I remembered what matters most. What matters most is peace in my heart.

Last week, I wrote about how what we spend our time doing really determines where we place our priorities.

For me, this most certainly would not be peace, it this would be trying to build a bigger physical therapy practice. I know a lot of people would not fault me for this.

I also want to make it clear that I may in fact pursue building a bigger practice but I will not build a practice that takes away from my family.

I understand this is not exactly what you might expect from me for an article on finding wellness, but for me this is crucial to a point I would like to make, so please bear with me. When we get stuck in our thoughts, even "positive" thoughts, the bottom line is that we are getting stuck in our thoughts.

In this article and in previous ones, I have told you that my priority is peace, yet here I am stuck in my thoughts and putting peace on the back burner.

This is what creates stress. This is what distracts us from our life's purpose.

This is what gets in the way of wellness.

We all have our triggers that get us stuck in our thoughts. For me, the trigger was striving for success.

Let me get more specific about what happened that woke me out of this thought-induced trance.

Last week, I was trying to teach my son a valuable lesson on remembering to ask permission before using my computer.

I insisted that my son ask permission before using my computer.

When he forgot to ask, I made a big deal about how important it was to remember to ask for permission.

I was really frustrated that he couldn't remember. He is able to remember the "fun" things he wants to do. Why is this any different. Sound familiar?

Believe it or not, I am not all that good with remembering things, in fact without the incredible staff I have, not much would get done at the Wellness Center.

I am the guy that never had a schedule book for appointments. I would tell my patients to come whenever they wanted.

I still tell my patients that I would rather they come when it is convenient for them. It is well known that I rely on my staff to help me remember the countless tasks I have day to day.

What I realized is this: I wanted my son - who is a lot like me - to be more like I am able to be myself. I am good at making a plan to accomplish a whole laundry list of things to do each day. I just forget what I planned.

For a long time I literally would write down all the things I needed to do during the day, only to read this list at night when I emptied my pants. I literally never remembered to look at my list.

By stopping for a minute and looking at the situation from a different perspective, I began to see the truth behind the experience.

I saw what I was meant to learn from the event. I found my peace and everything became very clear.

I look forward to situations that challenge my position and disrupt my peace.

Most times I recognize quickly that whatever the situation, "this too shall pass." I have found that any rigid position I hold usually means I am about to learn something very important. I have found that any belief I have warrants investigation to make sure it is in fact "my" position.

I learned that when I "think" something is true it deserves checking it out to be certain.

So this week, when I stopped to check things out, I asked myself the following questions:

Is it true that my son "needs" to remember?

My answer is no.

How do I feel when I think this thought?

My answer is terrible, stressed, angry.

How would I feel if I couldn't think this thought?

My answer: excellent, peaceful.

Then I do a thing my teacher Byron Katie taught me, I turn it around onto myself.

So, my son "needs" to remember becomes "I need to remember." That is definitely true. I mean if I am unable to do it, why would I expect him to?

This is the brilliance of asking questions with openness. I am trying to learn about myself, so when I ask, I allow the answers to find me. I wait and see if it fits. In this case, the truth came out.

So this small event became the catalyst for me to investigate my reaction to my son.

In it I learned that I am stuck believing my thought.

What matters most is my walk, not my talk. When I have my peace I am a great father, son, boss, therapist, writer, friend and person.

This experience carried me back to me, back to my peace.

My priority shifted back to peace.

End of story.

This is the call to wellness.

It is not enough to have physical health. It is not enough to have emotional/psychological health. Without the peace in my heart, all is lost.

My son will remember his father as the guy who put peace as a priority and because of that I was open to him.

I was there for him when he needed me most. I did not have ridiculous expectations of him that I am unable to keep myself.

It is not true that I want my son to be pressured in to remembering.

I know that has never worked for me. I do my best to remember and it seems to work out whether I do or don't, so why get so upset about it?

How is this connected to me trying to be successful? Well the fact is, when I am stuck in my thoughts and following my ideas,

I get distracted from my peace. Then I react to situations instead of responding to them.

So the situation with my son helped me to see that I had lost my peace and was reacting instead of calmly and rationally responding to the event.

When my focus is on success, I stop taking care of my health.

My actions when I have this focus show me that what matters most in my life is achievement, even though I would tell you what matters most is peace in my heart.

For me to walk the walk, I have to be honest with myself. So when I have an event with my son, it shakes me up enough for me to regain my focus.

This shift allows me to prioritize what matters most and because of this I get myself back on the road to wellness.

My intention "way back when" was to come home and help my community, the community that helped me so much.

As a child, I had good people all around me and I feel called to return the favor the best I can.

As I have said before, if I started today until the day I died I would never have enough time to thank all the people who have helped me.

I have a saying at work that I will reach out a thousand times to anyone who needs help. I am not able to carry or drag anyone but I will reach out and help anyone I can. Well, I must confess that I have come up short at times because my thoughts were on success.

My commitment has been renewed. I apologize to anyone for whom I have not truly put forth as strong an effort as I am capable of. My commitment is strong and I welcome and invite anyone in need of help to let me try my best to reach out to you, too

If you have been struggling, I am certain there is a way to find your peace again. It requires the willingness to be honest with yourself once and for all.

How often have you neglected your body? Your body is the only thing that has been with you, literally, since the day you were born.

How have you been treating your closest ally, your body? Have you been giving your body nourishment or feeding it poisons only to make excuses about how little time you have to make a decent meal?

Have you treated your body to a day of rest where you pamper yourself with a nice walk in nature and a comfortable nap in the sun?

Have you exercised for the energy and vitality instead of exercising while condemning and cursing your shape and size?

Have you trusted your body and stopped when you had pain or did you push right on through to accomplish some meaningless task at the expense of your health?

Have you thought that your medical practitioner doesn't really hear you or made excuses about why they messed up, when in fact, maybe you should be listening to them?

Take a minute to look in your life where you are frustrated and look within. What is your priority? Are you more interested in arguing with yourself or others or are you interested finally in being Well?

Try asking yourself the questions I asked above and see what you prioritize in your life and if you are really walking the walk.

Let's all be honest right now and find what priorities we really have. When I looked, I am ashamed to say, I was not living up to my talk. My commitment is renewed, I intend to live it, not just write about it.

Will you join me?

Thanks for reading my columns.

Matthew Goodemote, a Gloversville native, owns Community Physical Therapy & Wellness. His Health & Wellness column will answer your questions and discuss topics that are relevant to your everyday way of life. If you would like to ask a question, e-mail Matthew at



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