Azim Khamisa shares the story of how he forgave the person who killed his son. Soon after, he started the Tariq Khamisa Foundation, in which the grandfather of his son's killer also serves on the Board of Trustees.
Tips from his book, "Secrets of the Bulletproof Spirit: How to Bounce Back from Life's Hardest Hits:"
Secret #3: Bullets Are Really Spiritual Bullion
Spiritually bullet-proof people possess a willingness-even an eagerness-to uncover the spiritual gold hidden inside the hardest hits. The situations they face and the hits they take are no different from anyone else's, but their attitudes make all the difference.
In a sense, it is quite simple: spiritually resilient people make it a point to look for the valuable lesson, the treasure of new awareness or the riches of love they find when they dig through the muck.
Abraham Lincoln believed that 'Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be,' and when you make up your mind to be happy, it's much easier to do if you can believe that there's gold in those hills of heartache.
Starting today, begin to consider that the hit you take may contain treasure hiding underneath layers of pain, time and healing. It will be there when you're ready to start digging.
From Bounce Back Boot Camp: Wear a piece of gold jewelry (it can be costume jewelry!) every day as a symbol of your commitment to finding the bullion behind the bullet. It can even be something like a money clip, as long as it's something you will see throughout the day.
One man we knew didn't like to wear jewelry, so he tied a simple piece of gold string around his wrist. Like most shifts in perception, this one is easier to master if you give yourself cues to remind you of your new perspective.
Secret #7: Entitlement Is The Enemy Of Energy
Spiritually bullet-proof people consciously resist feelings of entitlement-which seriously sap the energy necessary to take any hit and come out on top-and strive to gracefully play the hand they've been dealt.
Spiritually fragile people spend a great deal of psychic, emotional and physical energy reacting to the unfairness they're experiencing because they feel that they are entitled to a certain kind of life-one without crises that hurt.
Spiritually resilient people resist these feelings of entitlement and use all of their energy and resources to do all they can with whatever it is they've been given.
This one difference in attitude makes a tremendous difference in success and satisfaction and is well worth cultivating if you want to reap the full benefits of super spiritual resiliency.
From Bounce Back Bootcamp: Cut up some small slips of paper. On each slip, write down something you felt or feel entitled to. Maybe you feel entitled to parents who unconditionally support you or to not having any financial worries.
Try and be honest with yourself-it's okay to have feelings of entitlement that you have to release. Be as exhaustive as you can-try to write down anything you feel that you somehow "deserve."
Now, read through your slips and consider the energy you have given or continue to give to these feelings of entitlement. Safely burn all the slips and watch as the smoke from the fire disappears up the chimney or out into the air.
Feel yourself releasing these feelings of entitlement and acknowledge that you're freeing up your energy to better assist you in living your best life now.
Secret #14: The Real Meaning of The F-Word
Spiritually bullet-proof people practice forgiveness and see it as the greatest gift they can give themselves.
To forgive is literally to give before or to give ahead of time. Giving ahead of time can feel counterintuitive at first-you're probably much more comfortable giving after.
For example, you give your money to the restaurant after you've eaten the meal and you pay your hairstylist after you've had the haircut.
If you're like most people, you're probably a little nervous giving ahead of time-it can feel risky. Giving ahead of time requires faith that, in the end, you'll get something in return. Sometimes, the only way to get something you really want is to give ahead of time even though it may require a leap of faith on your part.
Don't choose to forgive because you should or because it is the right thing to do-do it because it is a highly efficient and turbo-charged way of connecting with the happiness that lies beyond the heartache you've been experiencing.
Carrying around pain, anger and resentment can make you more miserable than the original offenses committed against you. When you forgive, it is so that you can put this burden down. Forgiveness is not a pronouncement you make or an outward gesture of reconciliation-it is simply a transition you make inside of yourself.
This transition to forgiveness will benefit the world around you in unexpected and uncountable ways. It's a gift you give yourself when you're ready to bounce back from the bullets you've taken. Begin to re-frame forgiveness as an indulgence you deserve rather than as an obligation to someone or something else.
From Bounce Back Bootcamp: All you need to start is a willingness to forgive. Begin by stating that it is your intention to forgive. Write your intention down on a few post-its and place them where you will see them as you go about your daily routine.
The bathroom mirror, your bedside table and the dashboard of your car are usually good spots. Every time you re-read your new intention, feel your readiness to forgive increase.
Secret #21 Be Present to the Present
Spiritually bullet-proof people are committed to living in the present moment, releasing the past and letting the future unfold in its own way and at its own pace.
If you've taken a hit, learning to really live in the present moment will provide you with a practical way to find relief from your heartache or pain. As Irish poet Oliver Goldsmith writes, "A great source of calamity lies in regret and anticipation; therefore a person is wise who thinks of the present alone, regardless of the past or future."
If you can train your mind to resist the backward pull of the past and to avoid the obsessive hamster wheel of future-focused thinking, you will find yourself hanging out in the present moment-and you will quickly discover that hits are a lot easier to handle. From Bounce Back Bootcamp: Use your journal to keep track of where your mind tends to hang out.
Do you frequently find yourself in the past or are you visiting the future a little too often? Try to monitor your mind for five minutes.
Use two columns-one marked PAST and the other marked FUTURE-and keep a tally of how many times you find your mind spiraling backward into the past or spinning forward into the future.
You'll be amazed at how little you are able to remain in the present moment, even when you're conscious about what you're doing. You may find that you are able to stay in the present for less than one minute out of the five you're already devoting to this exercise.
Just like keeping a journal of all you expenditures will help you figure out where all your money is going, doing this exercise will help you see where all your attention is going.
The good news is, with practice, you can actually train your mind to stay in the present most of the time. And once you get a taste for the bliss of the present moment, you'll never want to leave.
Secret #25 Say Yes to Your Adventure
Spiritually bullet-proof people think of themselves as heroes on a kind of quest. All that happens to them, good and bad, is part of the myth they see themselves as living.
They know that there is a reliable pattern at work in the universe-when they face an obstacle and surmount it, they are rewarded with new knowledge, personal power or wisdom.
Awareness of this pattern allows them to re-frame the hits they take as not only a natural part of life, but also as vehicles for growth-a chance to live the life they are truly meant to lead.
From Bounce Back Bootcamp: Rent Braveheart, Gandhi, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Lord of the Rings, The Pursuit of Happyness, or Forrest Gump. Or better yet, rent all of them! If you have any other favorite hero movies, include them, too. (If you experiment, you'll actually find that almost every movie is a kind of hero story.)
Make it fun for yourself-make a big bowl of popcorn and get comfy. As you watch the films, look for the patterns this chapter points out. After each movie, write in your journal about the hero's heartbreaking hit(s). Do you relate to any of the heroes or the hits they take? Did they learn any lessons you connect with? Find one idea or quality to borrow from each hero and write about it.
About Azim Noordin Khamisa:
Azim Noordin Khamisa is an author, activist and inspirational speaker. He was born in Kenya, Africa and had early training in mathematics, economics and international finance.
A successful international investment banker with over 35 years experience, he has conducted business in Africa, Middle East, Europe and Asia.
A man always on the go, taking action for societal transformation, he is presently the Chairman, CEO and Founder of the Tariq Khamisa Foundation (TKF) and Founder and National Director of the Constant And Never Ending Improvement (CANEI) program.
Committing his life to halting the continuing cycle of violence among the youth, Azim became a social activist after his 20-year-old son Tariq was senselessly murdered while delivering pizzas in January 1995 by Tony Hicks, a 14-year-old gang member.
Out of unspeakable grief and despair, Khamisa was inspired to transform his loss through the miraculous power of forgiveness. Believing that there were "victims at both ends of the gun," Azim forgave Tony and founded the Tariq Khamisa Foundation to break the cycle of youth violence by saving lives, teaching peace and planting seeds of hope in their future.
A month after establishing the foundation, Azim invited Ples Felix, Tony's grandfather and guardian, to join him. Together, since November 1995, the two have brought their story and message through TKF's Violence Impact Forums.
The duo has reached a half a million elementary and middle school children live and over 20 million via video programs, guiding the youth to choose a peacemaker's life of non-violence and forgiveness.
Because of his powerful story and message, Azim is a highly regarded and respected leader and a sought after speaker nationally and internationally. Having given 400 keynote address speeches all over the world, including an audience of 300,000 at the "Stand for Children" rally in Washington D.C. in 1996, Azim has received more than 60 regional, national and international awards.
Some of those awards are in April 1997 the National Crime Victims Special Community Service Award presented by President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno. In December 2002, he received the prestigious "Search for Common Ground" international award for "Building Peaceful Communities" along with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Ted Koppel. Other recent awards include 2003's "California Peace Prize," 2006's "Freedom Heroes Award," 2008's "Death Penalty Focus Award" and "The Spirit of Crazy Horse Award," the latter being given alongside Muhammad Ali.
As well, in June 2004, Azim participated in the Synthesis Dialogues, with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, held at the Pope's summer residence in Castelgandolfo, Italy. Azim also met with the Dalai Lama at the Vancouver Peace Summit in September 2009.
Azim's profound work has been featured in the likes of The New York Times, Oprah Magazine, People Magazine, Parade Magazine, Washington Post and U.S.A. Today as well as on NBC's Today Show, Nightly News, CBS's Early Morning Show and KPBS' Fresh Air.
A well-traveled, multi-lingual naturalized United States citizen, Azim serves on the Board of Directors of various non-profit and for-profit boards. He was inducted onto the Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Sponsors of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.
Azim is also the founder of the CANEI restorative program, which he developed under the auspices of the National Youth Advocate Program. Currently CANEI operates in Columbus, OH, Atlanta, GA, Chicago, IL and San Diego, CA.
A resident of La Jolla, California, Azim is also the proud father of Tasreen and the proud grandfather of Khalil and Shahin. With various inspirational products available on his website, he is an award-winning author of the book: Azim's Bardo -- From Murder To Forgiveness: A Father's Journey.
He followed up this book in November 2007 with From Forgiveness to Fulfillment, showing the continued evolution in an unfolding story that is his path, his passion and his life. A third in the trilogy will be From Fulfillment to Peace, to be published in 2010.
In February 2009 Random House published The Secrets of the Bulletproof Spirit: How to Bounce Back from Life's Hardest Hits, Azim's latest book coauthored with Jillian Quinn. And finally in January 2010 comes "The Truth," a movie in the vein of "The Secret." Says Azim, "We humans continuously confront defining moments in our lives.
Sometimes these events are joyous; sometimes they are tragedies. At these moments it's important to make the right choices. When we do, we're able to manifest miracles and produce transformation in ourselves and others."
For more information or to order Azim Khamisa's books, DVDs or CDs, go to www.azimkhamisa.com
For information on the Tariq Khamisa Foundation, go to tkf.org.