“3 Minutes To Live 1% Happier”

Reality: Change Starts From Heart

2023.10.22 | #33

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1 Insight From Me


This is Johnny, an ex gang member in California, USA.

He joined a gang at the age of 13, robbed with a knife, and spent 4 years in a juvenile detention center. Two months after he was released, he robbed again and stayed in prison for another 10 years.

Why did he take such a path?

His father was an alcoholic and had beaten, scolded and abused him since he was a child. He didn’t get a sense of belonging in the family. And that’s when the gang came in.

As he followed the gang members on the streets, robing, selling and using drugs, his ties to the gang became tighter and tighter, he also began to distance himself from the entire world. He felt that not only his family had given up on him, but society too, and more importantly, he himself had begun to give up on himself.

He began to think that he was born a bad guy and was born to do these bad things. Only when he did these things could he feel that life was meaningful.

The change happened after the second time he got out of prison. This time, he and his gang bro decided to do something big – rob the biggest local drug dealer. The plan was that when they saw the guy’s car stop, he would approach the right door and his brother the left door. But for some reason, when he actually walked up, his brother walked to the right, so he turned to the left.

“Pah, pah, pah” three gunshots rang out.

Johnny said, “Wow, that was fast, you didn’t even give him a chance!”

The moment he finished speaking, the car sped out and drove away. It was his brother who fell to the ground.

It should have been him.

Watching his brother dying in his arms, it’s like one lightning strikes him for the first time.

A few days later, his mother’s car broke down, so she called him and asked him to take her to church.

He and his mother usually don’t talk, and he hated church very much, but he didn’t know why he agreed this time.

When they arrived at the church, the pastor started to chat with him. He asked, “Are you a sinner?”

He said angrily, of course.

The pastor said that this is actually not your problem. Everyone is born imperfect. It is impossible to create something perfect out of something imperfect. Just like no matter how hard you try, apple seeds can only grow into apples. Everyone has a lot of desires, If you only follow these desires, you’ll end up in murder or drug abuse, so we need to control ourselves. And this kind of control starts from the heart, starts from believing that you can change.

Then the pastor asked him, how is your relationship with your dad?

He said, “I hate my dad, I hate him very much. The main reason why I am like this is because of my dad. He failed to fulfill his responsibility to raise me.”

The pastor said, “You are right. But it is precisely because you hate him that you are miserable. Next time you see your dad, apologize to him.

He exploded. What? He hurt me, and you ask me to apologize to him?

He originally planned to see his father only once more, which is on his deathbed. But later he still asked his dad out to meet him.

It was awkward. But he spoke anyway.

“I’m sorry, I’m not a good son. I didn’t meet your expectations. I wasn’t there for you when you needed me.”

Unexpectedly, his father cried.

“I’m sorry. I’m not a good father. I failed to give you a good childhood. I failed to control my drinking problem. I know that your pain is all because of me…”

Twenty years of pain and frustration just crashed in that moment. He and his dad hugged each other.

They had a good relationship since.

Now Johnny is no longer a gang member, but a prison ministry, telling his story to other prisoners around the world, telling them that it is not that you are born a bad person, but that everyone in the world is born imperfect just like you. You can change, and change starts from the heart.


1 Insight From Others

“All the struggles will be worth it mark my words, No one’s in a cage we all are free birds.”

― Wrushank Sorte

1 Small Step To Take

“Try forgive”

In fact, everyone is the same in the core. I also watched other interviews, including prostitutes, drug addicts, etc., and found that their situations were basically the same:

  • Broken family, traumatic childhood
  • Then they became rebellious
  • Later encountered some bad people and embarked on the wrong path, such as prostitution and gangs, because these places provided a sense of belonging.
  • Then, on the one hand, as they sink deeper and deeper, reality holds them tighter for change
  • On the other hand, and most importantly, their beliefs collapsed, they start to think they were born bad. In addition, no one told them what other ways are available out there, so they lost hope and gave up on themselves.

Like a prostitute who is only 20 years old, saying that it is too late for her to change now, and this is the way for the rest of her life.

After watching the interviews, you will find that many people are actually just unlucky. If they had a little better luck, had a better childhood, or later met someone who could help them change, they could end up being completely different people.

Life is not easy, so be more gentle to the people around you. No one is perfect, parents are not gods and they have their own traumas. When you see yourself as a victim, you also give the power of your happiness to the person who hurt you, and continue to live in pain.

If possible, try to talk to the person who hurt you, say

“I forgive you.”

PS: What does “mentally strong” mean?

Do you find this issue of Reality helpful? Leave a reply to this email, I check every reply in my inbox.

Until next week,

Ted Wild

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