In a presentation I attended years ago, the speaker asked the audience, “How much do you think this eight ounce glass of water weighs?”

After many guesses, the speaker said, “The weight depends on how far you hold it from your body and how long you hold it.”

In other words, by holding the glass of water close to your body for 30 seconds, you experience no stress or pain. If you hold it at arms length for 30 seconds, you might feel greater weight, but not enough to bother you. But if you held the glass of water at arms length for 10 minutes, you wouldn’t be able to bear the pain.

Yet, many people hold on to the past, a grudge, an angry confrontation or some other interaction with family, friends and bosses—for too long. They gather their anger by turning it into a “potato” and stuffing it into their sack.

Over the years, they may stuff lots of “emotional potatoes” into their sack until it becomes so heavy, they must carry it over their shoulders. If such persons continue collecting those “potatoes”, the potatoes themselves ripen toward being rotten.

In my world travels on a bicycle, I learned a few things about carrying too many “things” in my panniers. My four panniers carry my essentials in life: food, water, sleeping bag, tent, tools, cook stove, spare tire and air mattress. Those luggage bags attached to my bike racks allow me only so much “weight” to carry as I pedal down the road.

If I load them with too heavy, the entire bike wears me down while climbing 12,000 foot passes. If I carry too much weight across Iowa, it wastes my energy.

The same holds true with the baggage in my mind. I can tell you that the world offers every kind of emotional challenge in every year of your life. People, events, politicians, relatives, kids and neighbors bring you challenges you never dreamed possible.

If you can change the situation with conversation with that person who angered you, you can release the emotional baggage. If you can’t engage in conversation because of multiple factors, you may walk away with forgiveness in your mind and heart.

One thing affects you if you hold on to anger: it distresses you without solving anything. In time, it paralyzes you without mercy. If it becomes a habit, it’s worse than being caught in a bear trap.

In the case of the glass of water lifted at arm’s length, what might be the easiest way to solve the hurt? Answer: put the glass down.

In the case of that sack of “emotional potatoes” you’re carrying over your shoulders, what can you do to alleviate the stress of all that weight? Answer: either take each potato out one by one, and toss it into brush along your path…or dump the whole bag of rotten potatoes into the next trashcan.

You can accomplish emotional joy by tossing all negative emotions, negative people, and negative circumstances---away from your sphere.

I once knew an attractive lady at my recreation center who had gained 40 pounds with two babies. She loathed the weight, especially since she wanted to attend her 10-year high school reunion where she once captained the cheerleading squad. As her personal trainer, I engaged her with her “why” she wanted to lose weight. Once she hooked into that, I offered her the “Compound Effect”, which means to change one behavior every day for six months, one year and a lifetime. By taking a small step daily, you never know the difference.

While she swam, lifted weights and walked, I encouraged her to eat an apple rather than a doughnut. Instead of fattening desserts, she ate fruit. As her emotions grew and her exercise and eating improved, she shed weight. The more she shed, the happier and more disciplined she became. Within six months, she looked as gorgeous as her high school pictures with a body to die for!

When she returned from the reunion, she proudly showed me a picture of herself in a long black evening gown with her trophy: “Most Elegant.” She beamed.

Whether it’s emotional baggage or physical challenges, by releasing the glass of water or emptying your sack of emotional potatoes or engaging the Compound Effect---you take charge of your body, mind and spirit to live a spectacular life.


Author's Bio: 

Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled 100,000 miles across six continents around the globe. He authored 12 books on adventure and environment. He offers programs to colleges and high schools on adventure and environment. He also offers a "Spirit of Adventure" greeting card line. His website: