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  Curled Up With a Good Book
An interview with Nathan J. Snow, *Break Your Addiction to Conflict, 12 Tools to Quiet the Mind*

What motivated you to write Break Your Addiction to Conflict, your debut self-help?

The absolute desire to find spirituality in a frenetic world and share my findings. This is a concise, specific method to counter balance lifeís feverish pace. It works for the life I lead in Los Angelesís entertainment industry.

Your book is a combination of self-help and some autobiographical material. Why do you think you chose to combine the two?

Iím not a spiritual guru by trade. A spiritual traveler, I have devoted myself, as so many have, to self-help programs and meditation. Over the past 15 years, I have shared a lot about an Ďaddiction to conflictí and many have related to my experience. I felt the need to autobiographically integrate my life as common ground to reach others.

You speak of a pattern of habitual conflict in your book. What does that look like in real life? Can you give us some examples?

Conflict is a pretty heavy word, but a simple one. On one end of the spectrum, conflict is war, famine, or devastation. On the other end, conflict exists as any mental struggle where oneís wishes run contrary to the demands of a situation.

My discussion of habitual conflict is not aimed at the earth-moving tragedies in life. In the book, I speak of a negative hardwiring that we are all prone to--a familiarity with mental struggle that mirrors the frenetic world we live in. For many of us, it is easier and more convenient to embrace a ranging state of conflict or mental struggle than it is to trust and embark on a road that leads to lasting serenity.

When our lives feel out of balance, we are caving in to habitual conflict. Here are some examples: If you constantly nag, scold or complain in your relationship, if it feels reflexive, and you have no clarity on your actions, you are stuck in a pattern of conflict. If you find yourself gossiping constantly, taking the focus off your own life only to indulge in other peopleís drama, you are getting high on conflict. If you remain passive in a relationship, flustered with your own inability to speak up or set boundaries for yourself, you are stuck in a pattern of conflict.

How can we recognize if we have this pattern going on in our relationships at home or at work?

A pattern of habitual conflict manifests as persistent obsession, distraction, fear or anger. Negative emotions and behavior that leave us with a constant, negative emotional residue indicate a pattern of conflict. Ask yourself: Does my life feel out of balance? Do I wish I were happy but canít find the tools to pull myself out of misery? Or, more simply: Am I unhappy, more often than not, at home or at work? These are good questions to ask that may suggest a pattern of habitual conflict in oneís life.

Your book maintains that we can break our addition to conflict. What do you say in your book that it takes to break the cycle of habitual conflict in our behavior?

Consistency and hard work. Actually, the hard work of consistency. The Tools I lay out in my book are liberating, refreshing, and promise lasting serenity, but they require consistency. Implementing a spiritual regimen into our lives is exactly like going to the gym. Sometimes we love it, sometimes we donít. But we want to feel good and look fit! How do we do this? With consistency. If you want to feel mentally and spiritually fit, free from needless conflict in your life, then you must employ a consistent regimen and open up to a new way of thinking.

What are some of the hallmarks of healthier communication patterns than can reduce stress with self and others?

Honesty is one of them. One of my tools is called The Honesty Checklist and it asks us to write down on paper our contribution to any entanglement we are engaged in. We have to honestly examine our actions in any situation. We do not have to beat ourselves up in the process for our lifelong, habitual behavior, but we can start to gain clarity on our actions. We learn to bring positive solutions to life, instead of indulging engrained patterns of conflict that are familiar and convenient to rely upon. Another way to reduce stress with self and others lies in meditation. The Candle Meditation in my book goes a long way to quieting the mind. We are learning new tools in a quest to better ourselves. Honesty and meditation, two tools to quiet the mind, require consistency. But the spiritual payoffs are immense.

Wouldnít some people get bored without a certain degree of conflict in their lives?

First of all, conflict is a very real part of life. And, at times, it is unavoidable and even welcome. We absolutely love and need challenges in our life. During these challenges, which are healthy, our wishes or opinions often run contrary to the demands of the situation or run divergent to the point of view of another person. Technically, we are in conflict with someone else whether it is a debate or an argument. Great catharsis comes from conflict, debates and arguments, both at work and at home. But so often, we overindulge drama and lose sight of our gravitation to needless conflict. This leads down the rabbit hole of distraction, fear and obsession. My book aims at pulling people away from the habitual orbit of needless conflict. Donít worry. There is plenty of necessary and unavoidable conflict to go around in life. No one need fear getting bored!

How do we fill the empty space that forms after weíve stopped creating conflict?

Iím not sure an empty space is created when we stop indulging needless conflict. We are always filled up with perceptions and emotions and feelings. A part of my book deals with awareness, also known as mindfulness. When we make the choice to stop indulging needless conflict, whether we recognize our negative part in a situation, or turn to a Gratitude List to acknowledge our inherent abundance in the Universe, we are filled up with observations and emotions. Through awareness of our actions or the joy of gratitude or the peacefulness of meditation or the indulgence of hobbies, we start to cultivate consistent, positive thought and emotion. So, in the process of halting our indulgence in conflict, we are actually cultivating positive observations and ushering out negative drivers. Humans are never empty!

For more on Nathan J. Snow's Break Your Addiction to Conflict: 12 Tools to Quiet the Mind visit Barbara Bamberger Scott's review of the book is available here.

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