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Topics - abu_jafar

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Common Forum/Request/Suggestions / Dedicate time to meaningful work
« on: September 24, 2014, 06:19:48 PM »

When deprived of passion and meaningful work, human beings lose their reason for living; they get lost and go frantically mad. Thus, a fulfilling life is lived by letting your interests and passions drive you forward, and then losing yourself in the journey of taking each required step.

The same way your body responds to the right nutrients, your heart, mind and spirit also need nourishment.  You are able to get that nourishment when you indulge in meaningful work, because when you truly lose yourself in something that moves you, you will eventually find yourself there too.

So never let the reality of what is, get in the way of what is possible.  Never give up on the things that make your heart skip a beat.  A focused human being driven by passion is always more powerful than the reality of the moment.  Express your love.  Live your truth.  Share your enthusiasm. Take action towards meaningful goals.  Walk your talk.  Embrace your gifts.  Bounce to the beat of your own drum.  Work on something worth remembering.


You can get almost everything in life you need if you simply help enough people around you get what they need.  The most prolific work is found in the challenge of helping someone who has less than you do.  It’s one of life’s great paradoxes; when you help others you end up benefiting as much if not more than those you have helped.

If you feel stuck in your life because you have lost your direction, shift your focus from your circumstances to the circumstances of those around you.  As Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  Instead of asking, “Why don’t I have what I need?” ask, “How can I help you get what you need?”  Find someone who could use an extra hand and make an offer they can’t refuse.

Life is a circle – what goes around, comes around eventually.  Since so many people are out to only help themselves, when you genuinely seek to help others succeed in getting what they need, they will notice your presence.  These people will in turn fight to help you succeed in getting everything you need.  What you need becomes what they want most.

Bottom line:  Live so that your life is not defined by what you have acquired, but by what you have given away… not by what is etched on a gravestone, but what is etched in the lives and hearts of those you have helped. 

Common Forum/Request/Suggestions / Things a True Friend Would Never Do
« on: September 24, 2014, 06:18:23 PM »
1.  Criticize you for being flawed.
As flawed as you might be, as out of place as you sometimes feel, and as lacking as you think you are, you don’t have to hide all the imperfect pieces of yourself from a true friend.  They see your flaws as features that make you interesting and beautiful.

The quality of the happiness between two people grows in direct proportion to their acceptance, and in inverse proportion to their intolerance and expectations.  True friends love and appreciate each other just the way they are.

2.  Walk away when times get tough.
True friendship and good character is all about how a person nurtures another person when they are vulnerable and can give very little in return.  Thus, it’s not who’s standing beside you during good times, but the ones who stick by you through tough times that are your true friends.

So take note of who remains in your life when times get tough, especially the people who sacrifice the resources they have in their life to help you improve yours when you need it most.  Seriously, when you come out the other side of a difficult period in your life, look around you.  The people still standing beside you are your true friends.

3.  Discourage you.
Unfortunately, some who seem like your friends will try to hold you back from your full potential.  It may be difficult, but don’t let these negative imposters bring you down.  Don’t ever let your so-called friends turn your sky into a ceiling.  Beware of friends who try to belittle your ambitions.  Small hearts and minds always do that.  The greatest hearts and minds – the people you should spend time around – make you feel that you, too, can become great.

Remember, encouraging things happen when you distance yourself from discouraging people.  Doing so doesn’t mean you hate them, it simply means you respect yourself.

4.  Hold a grudge over your head.
Some people will refuse to accept that you are no longer who you used to be – that you’ve made mistakes in the past, learned from them, and moved beyond them.  They may not be able to stand the fact that you’re growing and moving on with your life, and so they will try to drag your past to catch up with you.  Do not help them by acknowledging their begrudging behavior.  Let go of their negativity, find peace, and liberate yourself!

A true friend never holds the unchangeable past against you; instead, they help your repair your present and future.  If someone relentlessly judges you by your past and holds it against you, you might have to take matters into your own hands, and repair your present and future by leaving them behind.

5.  Lie to you.
When you keep someone in your life who is a chronic liar, and you keep giving them new chances to be trusted, you have a lot in common with this person – you’re both lying and being unfriendly to YOU.

If you know someone who avoids the truth by telling you only what you want to hear, they do so for their own benefit, not yours.  They are not a true friend and they don’t deserve to be treated as such.

6.  Pretend like they have all the answers.
If you think about the people who have had the greatest positive effect on your life – the ones who truly made a difference – you will likely realize that they aren’t the ones that tried to give you all the answers or solve all your problems.  They’re the ones who sat silently with you when you needed a moment to think, who lent you a shoulder when you needed to cry, and who tolerated not having all the answers, but stood beside you anyway.

Don’t look for a friend who will solve all your problems; look for one who will face them with you. 

7.  Take from you without giving back.
You deserve to be with friends who make you smile – friends who don’t take you for granted – friends who won’t leave you hanging.  When you notice that a friend is always taking from you without giving back, you might need to distance yourself from them for a while.  If they care, they’ll notice.  If they don’t, you know where you stand.

You should want to give, but you shouldn’t be forced to always give more than you get.  If you feel like you are being taken advantage of, respect yourself enough to confront the situation.  This doesn’t mean you have to stop being friends with those who you feel are at fault, but you need to evaluate your friendships and realize where to draw the line when you give yourself to certain people.

8.  Bully you.
It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but just as much to stand up to your friends.  Sometimes bullying comes from the most unlikely places.  Be cognizant of how your friends treat you, and look out for the subtle jabs they throw.  When necessary, confront them or distance yourself from them – whatever it takes to give yourself the opportunity to grow into who you really are.

Life’s too short to be hanging around people who try to control and manipulate you.  Anyone who does so is not a true friend.  Gain your independence by taking off the shackles and freeing yourself from these bullies. 

9.  Make you feel like you’re burdening them.
True friendship is never burdened with stressful promises and obligations.  What true friends do for each other should be done because they care and because they want to do them.  Period.

So don’t chase people.  They don’t need to be chased.  If someone is a true friend and wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you.  You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot.  Never, ever force yourself on someone who continuously overlooks your worth.

1.  Forgiveness allows us to take responsibility for our own happiness.
Most of what we attract into our lives is a mere reflection of what is inside of us.  Our thoughts and actions create our exterior world.  The Law of Attraction teaches us that like attracts like, and we will never experience a happy ending at the end of an unhappy journey.  By holding onto anger and resentment (even in our subconscious mind), we are pre-paving our journey to be filled with anger and resentment.  The way we feel and the emotions we hold are what we use to create all of our future experiences. 

2.  Forgiveness allows us to see everyone in our lives as a teacher.
Family members, spouses, friends, bosses, etc. – everyone is brought into our lives to teach us more about ourselves.  Thanking them for being a part of our journey and teaching us lessons that we now no longer need to learn is an incredible step in expanding our consciousness.

This same philosophy applies to our negative, failed relationships too.  Once you truly learn the lesson behind why a negative relationship came into your life, you will then no longer attract situations and future relationships that attempt to teach you the same lesson.  You get to graduate and grow so you no longer keep repeating the same unpleasant experience over and over again.

3.  Forgiveness helps us stop playing the victim card.
Adjusting your perspective to a place of forgiveness and gratitude allows you to no longer play the victim card.  Most of the time you are not a victim of anything other than your own vibration and level of attraction.  When you continue to blame someone else, you automatically give control of your life to someone else and thus set yourself up to be a lifelong victim.

4.  Forgiveness makes us aware that most people are doing the best they can.
Have compassion for where other people are in their lives.  It might not be where you are, but most people are doing the best they can at their particular level of awareness and understanding. 

5.  Forgiveness embodies the concept of “what goes around comes around.”
We are all human and we have all done “unthinkable” things.  And deep down, we all yearn for the same forgiveness.  When we release others from the penalties of their actions, we create a space where our own thoughtless actions against others can be forgiven as well.

6.  Forgiveness forces our own level of consciousness to expand.
The process of growth is continuous.  The moment we stop learning, searching for lessons and expanding our consciousness, the ego steps in and takes over.  We are always moving toward something greater, and forgiveness helps us get there faster by eliminating our ties to dead weight from our past.

7.  Forgiveness teaches us to keep our expectations tempered.
We should never be expecting anything from anyone.  When we do this, we give up our own power to decide.  We alone are the creator of our universe, and when we are connected to our own inner source, we no longer “need” anything from anyone.  It’s still nice to receive things from time to time, but we don’t need these things to move forward with our lives. 

8.  Forgiveness teaches us to tone down our instincts for self-preservation.
Too often we injure one another simply because we are trying to protect ourselves (financially, emotionally, etc.), even when it’s at someone else’s expense.  We have all done it.  Becoming aware of this pattern allows us to stop needlessly injuring others for our own benefit.  And as you know, what goes around comes around…

9.  Forgiveness creates a space to let go and love.
Not everyone and every situation is meant to be a part of our lives forever.  Sometimes they are only there long enough to help us open the next chapter of our story.  Letting go creates space to let new people and experiences in.

In addition, we are all connected.  We have never met another person that we have not loved in some small way.  Sometimes we just don’t consciously know how to understand it and show it.  Simply put, forgiveness in and of itself is an act of letting go of our differences and connecting with our oneness and love for each other and the world we inhabit.

10.  Forgiveness is the best revenge.
A bit of sarcasm in this one, but it’s so true.  You can always seek revenge positively by creating a better future for yourself.  Because nothing annoys an adversary or negative force in your life more than seeing you smile after you have genuinely forgiven them and moved forward with your life.

1.  Start focusing on the grey area between the extremes.
Life simply isn’t black or white – 100% of this or 100% of that – all or nothing.  Thinking in extremes like this is a fast way to misery, because negative thinking tends to view any situation that’s less than perfect as being extremely bad.  For example:

Rather than the rainstorm slowing down my commute home from work, instead “it wasted my whole evening and ruined my night!”
Instead of my business venture taking a while to gain traction, “it’s never going to work, and it’s going to completely ruin my financial future.”
Rather than just accepting the nervousness of meeting a new group of people, “I know these people are not going to like me.”
Since 99.9% of all situations in life are less than perfect, black and white thinking tends to make us focus on the negative – the drama, the failures, and the worst case scenarios.  Sure catastrophes occur on occasion, but contrary to what you many see on the evening news, most of life occurs in a grey area between the extremes of bliss and devastation.

If you struggle with seeing the grey area of a situation, sit down with a pen and paper, write down the best-case outcome, the worst-case outcome, and at least one realistic outcome that falls between the two extremes.  For example, say you’ve been worrying about a new intimate relationship, write down:

Worst-case outcome (unlikely extreme):  “The relationship is a total disaster that ends with two broken hearts.”
Best-case outcome (unlikely extreme):  “The relationship is total bliss with zero arguments until the end of time.”
Realistic-case outcome (highly likely):  “There will be great times, good times, and not so good times, but we will work together, respect each other, and give our relationship a fair chance before drawing any conclusions.”
Make the realistic-case outcome as detailed and long as you like, or list more than one realistic-case outcome.  Giving your mind more options to consider will help reduce extreme emotions and allow you to think more clearly and realistically.

2.  Stop looking for negative signs from others.
Too often we jump to conclusions, only to cause ourselves and others unnecessary worry, hurt, and anger.  If someone says one thing, don’t assume they mean something else.  If they say nothing at all, don’t assume their silence has some hidden, negative connotation.

Thinking negatively will inevitably lead you to interpret everything another person does as being negative, especially when you are uncertain about what the other person is thinking.  For instance, “He hasn’t called, so he must not want to talk to me,” or, “She only said that to be nice, but she doesn’t really mean it.”

Assigning meaning to a situation before you have the whole story makes you more likely to believe that the uncertainty you feel (based on lack of knowing) is a negative sign.  On the flip-side, holding off on assigning meaning to an incomplete story is a primary key to overcoming negative thinking.  When you think more positively, or simply more clearly about the facts, you’ll be able to evaluate all possible reasons you can think of, not just the negative ones.  In other words, you’ll be doing more of:  “I don’t know why he hasn’t called, but maybe…”

“…he’s extremely busy at work.”
“…his phone battery is dead.”
“…he’s simply waiting for me to call him.”
You get the get the idea.  None of these circumstances are negative and all are as plausible as any other possible explanation.

Next time you feel uncertain and insecure, and you catch yourself stressing about a problem that doesn’t exist, stop yourself and take a deep breath.  Then tell yourself, “This problem I’m concerned with only exists in my mind.”  Being able to distinguish between what you imagine and what is actually happening in your life is an important step towards living a positive life.

3.  Evaluate and eliminate unreasonable rules and expectations.
You must deal with the world the way it is, not the way you expect it to be.  Life is under no obligation to give you exactly what you expect.  In fact, whatever it is you’re seeking will rarely ever come in the form you’re expecting, but that doesn’t make it any less wonderful.

Stop forcing your own misconstrued expectations and rules on life…

“He was late, so he must not care about me.” – Or perhaps he just got caught in traffic.
“If I can’t do this correctly, then I must not be smart enough.” – Or perhaps you just need more practice.
“I haven’t heard back from my doctor, so the test results must be bad.” – Or perhaps the lab is just really busy and your results aren’t available yet.
Inventing rules like these about how life must be, based on your own stubborn expectations, is a great way to keep your mind stuck in the gutter.  This isn’t to say that you should never expect anything at all from yourself and others (diligence, honesty, ambition, etc.), but rather that the rules that govern your expectations should not steer you toward unreasonably negative conclusions.

If you feel dissatisfied or let down by an outcome, then you must have been expecting something different.  Rather than get upset, ask yourself, “Were my expectations too narrow?” and “What new truths have I learned?”

The bottom line is that you must see and accept things as they are instead of as you hoped, wished, or expected them to be.  Just because it didn’t turn out like you had envisioned, doesn’t mean it isn’t exactly what you need to get to where you ultimately want to go.

4.  Embrace rejection and use it to find the right opportunities.
As soon as someone critiques and criticizes you, as soon as you are rejected, you might find yourself thinking, “Well, that proves once again that I am not worthy.”  What you need to realize is, these other people are NOT worthy of YOU and your particular journey.  Rejection is necessary medicine; it teaches you how to reject opportunities that aren’t going to work, so can quickly find new ones that will.

Rejection doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough; it means the other person failed to notice what you have to offer.  It means you have more time to improve your thing – to build upon your ideas, to perfect your craft, and indulge deeper in to the work that moves you.

“Will you be bitter for a moment?  Absolutely.  Hurt?  Of course, you’re human.  There isn’t a soul on this planet that doesn’t feel a small fraction of their heart break at the realization of rejection.  For a short time afterwards you ask yourself every question you can think of…

“What did I do wrong?”
“Why didn’t they like me?”
“How come?”
But then you have to let your emotions fuel you!  This is the important part.  Let your feelings of rejection drive you, feed you, and inspire one heck of a powerful opening to the next chapter of your journey.

As you look back on your life, you will often realize that many of the times you thought you were being rejected from something good, you were in fact being redirected to something better.  You can’t control everything.  Sometimes you just need to relax and have faith that things will work out.  Let go a little and just let life happen the way it’s supposed to.  Because sometimes the outcomes you can’t change, end up changing you and helping you grow far beyond your wildest dreams.

Common Forum/Request/Suggestions / Negative People You Need to Ignore
« on: September 24, 2014, 06:13:24 PM »
1.  The hopelessly hostile drama queen.
Some people love to stir up controversy and drama for no apparent reason.  Don’t buy in to their propaganda.  Stay out of other people’s drama and don’t needlessly create your own.

Don’t spew hostile words at someone who spews them at you.  Keep your composure and replace the stink of confrontation with the fragrance of resolution.  The louder the opposition wants to yell, and the more drama they want to stir, the calmer and more confidently you need to think and speak.  Don’t let them get to you.

Be an example of a pure existence; ignore their outlandish antics and focus on kindness.  Communicate and express yourself from a place of peace, from a place of love, with the best intentions.  Use your voice for good – to inspire, to encourage, to educate, and to spread the notions of compassion and understanding.

When someone insists on foisting their hostility and drama on you, ignore them and walk away.

2.  The person you have failed to please a hundred times before.
Some people are impossible to please; you will not be able to break through to them no matter what you do.  Accept this harsh as a fact of life.

Throughout your lifetime some people will discredit you, disrespect you and treat you poorly for no apparent reason at all.  Don’t consume yourself with trying to change them or win their approval.  And don’t make any space in your heart to hate them.  Simply walk away and let karma deal with the things they do, because any bit of time you spend on them will be wasted, and any bit of hate and aggravation in your heart will only hurt you.

3.  The naysayer who always dumps on your dreams.
Stop giving credit to those who discredit your dreams.  These people are punishing your potential by slowly extinguishing your inner flame with their watered down vision of what you are capable of achieving.

If you give in and let their negativity convince you of who you are, their madness will wither you away.  You will morph into who they say you are, rather than living honestly as yourself.  In this way, these people will steal your life from you.  You will lose track of where their opinion ends and your reality begins.  Their fiction will become your life’s story.

What you’re capable of is not a function of what others think is possible for you.  So look beyond their presumptions and mental limitations, and connect with your own best vision of what YOU are capable of and how YOUR life can be.  Life, after all, is an open-ended journey, and 99% what you achieve comes directly from what you work to achieve on a daily basis.

4.  The manipulator.
Beware of manipulators, or bullies, who try to use their negativity to intimidate and manipulate your thoughts.  If you observe them from a distance, you will realize that these people are often overly self-referential.  In other words, the people around them (YOU) fit into their plan simply based on how they can be used or manipulated for their own personal gain.

These people routinely prioritize their own feelings and needs over and above everyone else’s.  They will demand that you bend over to help them, but if, heaven forbid, you need help, they will not be able to stand it.

Bottom line:  Some people will say and do anything, thoughtlessly, to get others to do what they want them to do.  Do not accept this behavior as normal.  When someone tries to bully you, stand up for yourself and say, “Not so fast, buddy!  Your delusion of superiority is your problem, not mine.”  And if they refuse to reason with you, walk away without a fight. 

5.  The stubborn one who insists you should be someone else.
In the long run, it’s always better to be disrespected for who you are than respected for who you are not.  In fact, the only relationships that work well are the ones that make you a better person without changing you into someone other than yourself, and without preventing you from outgrowing the person you used to be.

Unfortunately, families and old friends often fail to recognize how you’ve changed and grown over the years.  They also tend to label you in an unfair way based on who you used to be; and it’s easy to end up conforming to these labels because you remember when they were true.  For example, “Oh, Marc always has his head in the clouds,” or “Angel never could focus on anything for very long.”

What’s important to remember is that you’re the only person in the world who knows what’s happening inside your head right now.  People who don’t know you well may assume you’re someone else entirely.  And people who think they know you well may have pigeonholed you – but you know there’s more to you than what they see.

When you ignore their opinions and decide to be who you are, instead of who they want you to be, you open yourself up to real love, real happiness, and real success.  There is no need to put on a mask.  There is no need to pretend to be someone you’re not.

You don’t have control over what others think about you, but you do have control over how you decide to internalize their opinions.  Leave them to their own judgments.  Don’t feel threatened and don’t conform just to please them.  Let people love you for who you are, and not for who they want you to be.  Or let them walk away if they choose.  They can’t harm you either way; it’s their understanding that is faulty, not yours. 

6.  The unforgiving friend who refuses to forgive you for your mistakes.
The most honorable thing is not to never make mistakes, but to admit to them when you do make them, and then to follow through and do your best to make the wrong things right.

Mistakes are part of growing.  They are a natural part of every worthwhile endeavor.

If someone refuses to support you as you grow beyond your past mistakes, they are now the one that’s making a mistake.  Holding on to the unchangeable past is a waste of energy and serves no purpose in creating a better day today.  If someone continuously judges you by your past, holds it against you, and refuses to forgive you, you might have to repair your present and future by leaving them behind.

7.  The inner critic.
Boom!  Wake-up call!  Yes, sadly, the inner critic is inside YOU.

Unrelenting self-criticism often goes hand in hand with unhappiness and anxiety, and it’s completely unjustified.  There is no reason to be your own biggest critic – to harp on yourself for your shortcomings.  All you really need is the courage to be yourself.  Your real value is rooted in who you are, not who you aren’t.

The flaws you often see in yourself are only the qualities of your own individuality.  There is something unique and special about you.  You are different.  You will never be as good as someone else, and they will never be as good as you.  Just as no two snowflakes are alike, your fingerprints are different from every other being on Earth.  You are meant to be different.  You are here to express who you are and enjoy what you have at this very moment.  When you accept this, there is no reason to compare yourself to someone or something you aren’t.  There is nothing for the inner critic to complain about.

Every morning when you wake up, think of three things that are going well in YOUR life at the moment.  As you fall asleep every night, fill your mind with an appreciation for all the small things that went well during the day.  Examine the goodness that is YOUR life, and let your inner critic overhear the five-star reviews about YOU.

Common Forum/Request/Suggestions / Questions to End Your Week With
« on: September 24, 2014, 06:12:19 PM »
1.  What pleasant surprises did I discover this week?
Life’s dynamic nature continually renews the possibilities before you; you honestly never can be certain when the next gust of wind will arrive and what it will blow in your direction.  Open yourself to these surprises and pay attention.  Many of them will bring goodness you never knew you were missing.

Some of your best discoveries will likely come when you least expect them, in places you never even thought to look.  What you were not looking for can end up being more than you ever hoped to find.  So seek your goals and dreams diligently, but don’t be so unyielding that you develop tunnel vision.  Do not blind yourself from all the unpredictable wonders and opportunities passing in your periphery.

You are never too old, too young, too busy, or too educated to find value and joy in new, unexpected opportunities.  So stay on the lookout, and keep track of these pleasant surprises.  Be sure not to lose them in the haste of your weekly routines.

2.  What lessons did my work teach me that I could build upon next week?
This question will help you clarify the distinction between activity and achievement.  There will always be routines and mundane tasks that require you to go through the motions, but what else did you derive from your work this week?  What was learned that could be built upon?  Surely there were successes and failures – ideas that worked and those that wallowed.  Think about these events and extract what is useful.

Look at your week from beginning to end.  It was not a week of lounging around doing nothing; it was a week in which you had everything to do, and now you have done it.  Pat yourself on the back, and then acknowledge the week’s lessons – especially the things that didn’t go your way.  If you didn’t get a task done the way you had hoped or a particular solution didn’t work, it only means something better is out there waiting for you next week.  And the lessons you just learned are the first step towards it.  (Read Decisive.)

3.  Are my short-term efforts and long-term goals still aligned?
It’s not what you do or achieve every once in awhile (big picture), but what you do every day (small picture) that counts.  Dream big dreams, but realize that short-term, realistic goals are the key to success.  What you want to achieve is directly connected to your daily actions.  The way you spend your time defines who you are and who you will become.

Therefore, make sure what you are doing (small picture) truly aligns with where you want to go (big picture).

While the pleasure junkies of the world avoid pain and discomfort at all costs, be someone who truly understands the value and benefits of working through the tough situations that others typically avoid.  Be willing to sacrifice short-term pleasure for long-term happiness.  Be more interested in something being effective than you are in something being easy.  While everyone else is looking for the quickest shortcut, look for the course of action that will produce the real results you want for yourself.

4.  What could I have spent more or less time doing?
As Stephen Covey once said, “Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”  In other words, productivity is not just about getting things done, it’s about getting the right things done.

At the end of each week, look at how you have spent your time, and adjust the allocation as necessary for the upcoming week.  Do your best to get rid of your schedule’s complexities so you can spend more time on the things that matter.  This means fine-tuning and eliminating all but the essential tasks, so you are left with only the ones that add value to your life.  And above all, know when to set aside the important things for the vital things, like family. 

5.  How did fear and uncertainty affect what I did and didn’t do?
Not knowing which path to take can be painful, but nothing is more disheartening than standing still and never making a decision at all.  This is why it’s imperative to think about your fears and address them on a weekly basis.  You have to stop them so they don’t stop you from moving forward with your life.

So what should you do?  Anything… something small… so long as you don’t simply sit there.  If you make a mistake, start over.  Try something else.  If you wait until you’ve satisfied all the uncertainties in your mind, it may be too late.

The bottom line is that you gain strength, confidence and emotional growth by living through every experience in which you are forced to stop and look fear in the face.  And once the face-off is over and you realize you’re still breathing, you must say to yourself, “I have lived through period of uncertainty, I have learned from it, and I am better off.  AND I am capable of dealing with the next intimidating circumstance that comes my way too.”

6.  What mental clutter can I clear?
Just as you don’t move from one place to another without first sorting your belongings, and leaving behind what is not useful or needed, so too should you follow the same process with what you’ve mentally gathered, before moving on.  Do some purging and clear some clutter.  Don’t carry excess baggage into next week.  Eliminate the unnecessary so the necessary may shine bright.

Throw away any regrets, shame and anger that you have accumulated this week, and take only the treasures worth keeping: the lessons, the love and the best of what can be remembered.

One of the easiest ways to sort through your mental clutter, and decide what needs to be discarded, is to perform a simple brain dumping exercise whereby you dump your emotions into a written journal or notepad.  Literally think about this week’s standout moments, make a list of how you felt on each occasion, and then review your findings.  Clear out the negative clutter that’s lingering in your mind by processing your thoughts, filing the lessons, forgiving yourself, forgiving others, and letting this week go.

The bottom line is that you have to close the door on this week’s negativities, change the record, clean the house, and get rid of the mental dust and dirt.  Don’t deny yourself a fair chance at the week ahead.  Stop holding on to what was, so you can enjoy what is beginning now. 

7.  What is the first logical step for next week?
Next week is a new beginning – a blank canvas upon which you have the delightful opportunity to create.  On Monday morning you will be standing at the start of an impressive adventure, with the very real and present opportunity to shape your present and future in exactly the way you see fit.

And as they say, well begun is half done…

Common Forum/Request/Suggestions / Things You Forgot to Be Grateful For
« on: September 24, 2014, 06:11:24 PM »
1.  The unique privilege of being YOU.
YOU are one of a kind.  You are lucky enough to have something that makes you different from everyone else.  Embrace your individuality.  Self-worth comes from one thing: thinking that you are worthy.  So appreciate what it feels like underneath your own skin.  You are amazing just the way you are.

Too many days are wasted comparing ourselves to others and wishing to be someone or something we aren’t.  Every one of us has our own strengths and weaknesses, and it is only when you accept everything you are, and aren’t, that you will truly find the happiness and fulfillment you seek.

2.  Every single experience that led you to today.
Life isn’t about a single moment of great triumph and attainment.  It’s about the trials and errors that get you there – the blood, sweat, and tears – the small, inconsequential things you do every day.  It all matters in the end – every step, every regret, every decision, and every affliction.

The seemingly useless happenings add up to something.  The minimum wage job you had in high school.  The evenings you spent socializing with coworkers you never see anymore.  The hours you spent writing thoughts on a personal blog that no one reads.  Contemplations about elaborate future plans that never came to be.  All those lonely nights spent reading novels and news columns and comics strips and fashion magazines and questioning your own principles on life and sex and religion and whether or not you’re good enough just the way you are.

All of this has strengthened you.  All of this has led you to every success you’ve ever had.  All of this has made you who you are today.  (I’ve written about this extensively in the “Goals and Success” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

3.  What your daily struggles are teaching you.
Challenges are what make life interesting; working to overcome them is what gives life meaning.

Failure and struggles keep you humble, success and achievement keep you glowing, but only faith and determination keeps you going.  So stay focused, and celebrate your efforts too, not just your outcomes.

Remember that the opposite of failing is not succeeding; the opposite of failing is trying.  Your daily efforts are what make it all possible.  Appreciate what they teach you, even when they don’t lead you to an ideal outcome.

4.  The gift of now.
In between all your goals, priorities, obligations, and everything else that might appear on one of your upcoming to-do lists, there are moments called “life” that still have to be lived and enjoyed.

The trick is to make the very best of now, and value it for what it’s worth.  In other words, don’t wish all your time away by waiting for better times ahead.  Smile, right now, because you can. 

5.  The way every moment is a new beginning.
If you feel stressed and stuck, let go, take a deep breath and appreciate the fact that this moment is a new beginning.  Stop thinking about what might have been and starting looking at what can be.  Right now is a perfect time to start over.  This moment is a brand new opportunity to rebuild what you truly want.

There are three little words that can release you from your past struggles and regrets and guide you forward to a positive new beginning.  These words are: “From now on…”

6.  The familiar faces, places and situations you rely on daily.
As Cynthia Ozick once said, “We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.”

Have you ever noticed that the more familiar you become with an amazing person, a beautiful place, or an ideal situation in your life, the more you seem to take it for granted?  It’s like you somehow believe life is supposed to be this way – like it won’t ever change.  And most of the time, all the maintenance these wonderful things need is a little time, attention, and deliberate appreciation.

So how often do you pause to appreciate your life and everyone and everything in it?  How often do you stop dead in your tracks and think, “Wow, thank you”?

7.  A reasonably healthy body.
In other words, if you got sick today you could recover.

Never underestimate the gift of your health.  It’s the greatest wealth you will ever own.  It’s the foundation for every chance at happiness and success life has to offer.  Your body is the only place you will truly ever live.

Respect your body.  Eat well.  Sleep well.  Breathe deeply.  Move harmoniously.  Daily. 

8.  The fact that you are online reading this.
Not only are you wealthy enough to be online right now, but you can read too.

Believe it or not, only about one third of the world’s population has internet access.  And, even crazier than that, there are roughly 774 million people in the world who aren’t educated enough to read.

YOU are one of the lucky ones.

Common Forum/Request/Suggestions / Things You Should Know About Letting Go
« on: September 24, 2014, 06:09:51 PM »
1.  You are subconsciously matching patterns from the past with the present.
When an experience in your life has emotional significance, it gets tagged in your brain as being important.  When the emotional experience is tragic, it triggers your brain’s fear mechanism, which tells your brain to remain on the lookout for any future conditions that vaguely remind you of this tragic experience (it does this to protect you from future harm).  Your brain then tries to match new experiences with the original one.  But depending on how emotionally attached you are to the original experience, it can lead to ‘false pattern matches’ which will inevitably lead you astray.

For example:

A muscular man assaulted you, so now you find it hard to trust all muscular men.
An old boss verbally harassed you, so now you have trouble respecting a totally new boss or different authoritative figure.
Again, these false pattern matches occur whenever you respond negatively and over-emotionally to a particular experience.  And it all happens subconsciously too.  Logically, you know that all muscular men are completely different human beings, but emotionally you respond as if they are one.

If you feel that you are stuck because you can’t move beyond a past experience, then your brain is relating to it as if it’s still happening right now, which means it’s matching patterns improperly in the present.  Here’s a two-step solution that might help:

Ask yourself:  “What specific past experience and associated feelings do my current feelings remind me of?”  Dig deep and be honest with yourself.
Once you have determined the origin of your current feelings, list all the ways your current circumstances differs from the past (the original experience) – this should include the places, people, and details that caused you pain and discomfort.  Review the differences over and over again until you have them completely memorized.  This should help you realize and remember that circumstances have indeed changed. 

2.  Your subconscious mind forgets that your capabilities have grown.
Zookeepers typically strap a thin metal chain to a grown elephant’s leg, and then attach the other end to a small wooden peg that’s hammered into the ground.  The 10-foot tall, 10,000-pound elephant could easily snap the chain and uproot the wooden peg, and escape to freedom with minimal effort.  But it doesn’t.  In fact the elephant never even tries.  The world’s most powerful land animal, which can uproot a tree as easily as you could break a toothpick, remains defeated by a small wooden peg and a flimsy chain.


Because when the elephant was a baby, its trainers used the exact same methods to domesticate it.  A thin chain was strapped around its leg and the other end of the chain was tied to a wooden peg in the ground.  At the time, the chain and peg were strong enough to restrain the baby elephant.  When it tried to break away, the metal chain would pull it back.  Sometimes, tempted by the world it could see in the distance, the elephant would pull harder.  But the chain would not budge, and soon the baby elephant realized trying to escape was not possible.  So it stopped trying.

And now that the elephant is all grown up, it sees the chain and the peg and it remembers what it learned as a baby – the chain and peg are impossible to escape.  Of course, this is no longer true, but it doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter that the 200-pound baby is now a 10,000 pound powerhouse.  The elephant’s self-limiting beliefs prevail.

If you think about it, we are all like elephants.  We all have incredible power inside us.  And of course, we have our own chains and pegs – the self-limiting beliefs that hold us back.  Sometimes it’s a childhood experience or an early failure.  Sometimes it’s something we were told when we were younger.  We need to learn from the past, but be ready to update what we learned based on how our circumstances have changed (as they constantly do).

Here are two things to consider:

If you suspect you are currently living your life (or parts of it) through the conditioning of self-limiting beliefs you developed in the past, remind yourself of what is different now in terms of circumstances and your own capabilities.  What has changed?
Examine what you have learned from past adversity that can actually help you now.  Rather than just regretting stuff, question specifically how it has helped you grow.  Has your past equipped you to be determined, self-reliant, perceptive, tough, aware, compassionate, etc.?  Focus on what you have gained rather than lost from adverse past experiences.

3.  Progress of any kind feels uncomfortable at first.
Nothing starts easy; everything begins at some level of difficulty.  Even waking up in the morning sometimes requires notable effort.  But one beautiful thing about life is the fact that the most difficult challenges are often the most rewarding and satisfying in the long run.

The really tough job interviews that lead to huge career advancements.  The first few awkward words exchanged on first dates that lead to successful relationships.  The excruciating training that leads hopeful Olympians to gold medal placements.  None of these successful outcomes started from a place of comfort and ease.

Far too many people are fearful of the unknown, comfy with putting in the least amount of effort, and not willing to put up with short-term pain for long-term gain.  Don’t be one of them – you know better than that.  You know that growth and progress require discomfort.  Every time you stretch your emotional, intellectual, and physical muscle groups, discomfort arises just before progress is made.

In all walks of life, by committing to continuous, small uncomfortable steps forward, you are able to sidestep the biggest barrier to positive change:  Fear.

Also, remember that growth begins at the end of your comfort zone.  Not only is it important to accept the discomfort of taking steps forward, it is also necessary to let go of comfortable routines and situations from the past.  Holding on to the way things were, prevents you from growing into who you are now, and who you are capable of being. 

4.  The past did not provide your only opportunity for happiness.
Reminiscing about great past times is always a pleasure, so long as reviewing these past times is not used as a way of emphasizing how terrible the present is by contrast.  If you start living in the past to such a great extent that the opportunities in the present are ignored, you have a problem.  For instance, if you don’t even give a potential new partner a chance simply because you “know” they could never live up to your perfect lover from the past… this is a huge warning sign.

Feeling that the past was a golden age of seamless perfection – a time of infinite happiness – is not an accurate assessment of reality.  Comparing this idealized retrospection with the present can lead you to believe the present can never be a happy place, thus preventing you from enjoying the moment and looking forward to the next.

Here are two practices that might be helpful:

To help you feel better about specific situations in the present, you might close your eyes, relax, and focus on a wonderful past time, and then imagine yourself drifting into the present with all those good feelings from the past.  These things did happen and they are worth celebrating.  This can help you actually use the positive points from the past rather than bemoan their passing.
Look for any ways that the present might actually be better than the past, however slight.  Even if it’s simply that you have learned from the past and are now in a better place to make future decisions.
The bottom line is that life needs to continue right up until the moment you die.  If at a certain point all you do is look back, you have, in effect, stopped living.  You need to resist the trap of believing the past was so perfect that the present cannot be appreciated at all. 

5.  Nothing can be expected, and nothing is indefinitely certain.
You need to understand that none of us are playing with marked cards; sometimes we win and sometimes we lose.  Life always finds its balance.  Don’t expect to get back everything you give.  Don’t expect recognition for every effort you make.  And don’t expect your genius to be instantly recognized or your love to be understood by everyone you encounter.

There are things you don’t want to happen, but have to accept, things you don’t want to know, but have to learn, and people and circumstances you can’t live without but have to let go.  Some things come into your life just to strengthen you, so you can move on without them.

As you live and experience things, you must recognize what belongs and what doesn’t, what works and what doesn’t, and then let things go when you know you should.  Not out of pride, inability, or arrogance, but simply because not everything is supposed to fit into your life.  So close the door on the past, change the tune, clean your inner space, and get rid of the dust.  Stop being who you once were so you can become who you are today.

It’s time to open the next chapter of your life.

Common Forum/Request/Suggestions / Miserable Choices You Make Too Often
« on: September 24, 2014, 06:08:29 PM »
1.  Keeping all the pressure of your thoughts inside you.
Even if someone has known you for your entire life, it is impossible for them to know exactly what you’re thinking and feeling.  They can’t feel something for you or know exactly how your mind is processing thoughts.  They could invest every bit of their energy over the course of their entire lifetime in an attempt to achieve this understanding, but in the end they would fall short.

This is precisely why you need to open up and speak your mind to a supportive confidant who will listen to you without judgment.  Only then will they get a momentary, unfiltered glimpse into your soul.  Only then will you feel the pressure of your thoughts subside.

If you feel extremely stressed or even a bit depressed, then you’re likely feeling very alone.  It’s vital that you talk to someone who is sympathetic, whether this person is your spouse, parent, sibling, a good therapist, or just a trusted friend.  So many people suffer in silence and feel that they would be a burden to others if they spoke up about their troubling thoughts.

Understand that your mental health is vital and everyone needs a helping hand and a listening ear sometimes.  In fact, helping one another is a big part of what makes us human, so opening up and asking for assistance is one way of enabling someone close to you to realize their own humanity.

2.  Holding yourself to impossible standards.
Be fair to yourself.  Perfectionism is a trap.  Your expectations need to expand and contract as circumstances in your life change.  When you learn to give yourself a break and feel okay about not being able to live up to impossible standards, then you can begin to get the worry-free rest your mind and body so badly need.

You will always be perfectly imperfect just the way you are, wherever you are.  Instead of berating yourself for falling short, give yourself credit for making progress.  Grow as you go.  Let go of how things “should be” so you can see all the great possibilities in front of you.

It’s also important to note that there’s no such thing as perfect happiness, just as there’s no such thing as perfect despair.  This is why trying to be perfect is an exercise in futility.  What does exist, however, is a continuous series of imperfect moments in your life filled with infinite possibilities and opportunities for you to interpret them and do with them as you please.

You can pave the road you travel with doubt and despair or hope and happiness.  It’s your choice.  Either way, you will someday arrive at the same destination.  The only question is:  Do you want to arrive with a frown or a smile?

3.  Always going and going and going…
When you get too caught up in the busyness of your daily routine, you lose connection with the important people in your life, and yourself.  You end up filling all your waking hours, and then you fool yourself into believing you are relaxing when you’re merely moving from one of your daily labors to the next.

Relaxation is the key to mental and physical recovery.  Stopping for a while and taking time to relax when you feel like things are getting out of control will gradually allow your mind and body to feel restored and reenergized again, thus allowing you to reconnect with the right inner mindset and the people and things that matter most to you.

How do you relax?  There are many ways, but the foundation of all of them is focused breathing.  Your breath is the bridge between your life circumstances and your consciousness; it unites your body and your thoughts.  Whenever your thinking becomes scattered with the worries and stress of busyness, use your breath as the means to take hold of your thoughts again.  Just breathe, be present, and do your best with what’s in front of you.

4.  Changing nothing and expecting different results.
There’s a saying that the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  If you want to improve yourself, you have to try new things to see what works and what doesn’t.

If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.  Inspiration is great, but it must be met by dedicated action.  Changes must be invoked and implemented.  The difference between what is impossible and possible for you lies in what you do and how determined you are.

Often the difference between a successful person and a person who struggles to implement positive changes is not one’s superior abilities, but the courage that one has to bet on one’s ideas, to take calculated risks, and to take steady steps forward.  In other words, some people sit and wait for the magic beans to arrive while the rest of us just get up and get to work.

So ask yourself:  What’s going to be different today?  How do you want your life to be from here on out? 

5.  Procrastinating and then doing 99 things at once.
Do you plan your days?  Did you wake up today knowing what you wanted to accomplish?  If not, maybe it’s time you do.

The way you spend your time defines who you are.  You don’t get to choose how you are going to die or when; you can only decide how you are going to live right now.  Trust me, a year from now you will wish you had managed your time properly today.

What would you regret not accomplishing this year?  What would you regret doing an abysmal job at, simply because you waited until the last minute and then rushed around doing 99 things at once?  Create a plan to accomplish these things and get started today.

Planning doesn’t have to be long and tedious; it can just be a 60 second process.  Every night, think about a few small things that you want to accomplish tomorrow and write them down.  When you wake up the next morning, review this list before you do anything else, and then take the first step.

Remember, we only have two choices when we wake up in the morning:  either we go back to sleep and dream, or we wake up and chase a dream.  In the end it doesn’t matter what you’re thinking, it matters what you’re doing.  Whatever you want to accomplish, it’s time to get started now.

6.  Ignoring the people you love.
When life gets busy, it’s easy to put the most important people on the back burner, because you know they’ll wait for you.  Right?

Wrong.  Your important relationships should be at the forefront of your priority list.  When we take things for granted, these things eventually get taken away.  Too often we don’t realize what we have until it’s gone.  Too often it seems we hurt the ones closest to us by letting less important things take precedence over them on a daily basis.

Appreciate what you have, who loves you and who cares for you.  You’ll never know how much they mean to you until the day they are no longer beside you.  You know who these people are.  They’re the ones who are always there with you in spirit – the ones who leave footprints in your thoughts and dreams.  They are the glue that binds a smile to your soul.  Treat them as such. 

7.  Ignoring your body’s needs.
The human body is the only machine for which there are no spare parts (unless you borrow them from someone else), so treat your body right.  Exercise to be fit, not skinny.  Eat to nourish yourself.  And always ignore the haters, doubters and unhealthy examples that were once feeding you.

Staying in shape is simpler than most people make it.  Body fat is dictated by what you eat and your activity.  Working out affects two things mainly: fat and muscle.  Aerobic exercise burns fat and builds a little muscle.  Weight training builds muscle and burns a little fat.  In most cases, if you’re overweight you’re eating too much of the wrong stuff and/or not exercising enough.

Also, keep in mind that your brain is part of your body too.  The human brain accounts for roughly 2% of the total mass of the human body, yet it consumes over 20% of the oxygen and nutrients the human body intakes.  So even if you don’t care what you’re body looks like, it makes sense to fuel your body with healthy food and keep your blood oxygen levels high with regular exercise.

Bottom line:  Take good care of your body.  It’s the only place you will ever truly live.

Common Forum/Request/Suggestions / Things You Should NOT Do to Get Ahead
« on: September 24, 2014, 06:07:22 PM »
1.  Follow a specific life path simply to satisfy others.
Sometimes we try to satisfy our parents, teachers, spouses and peers by walking a particular path in spite of the fact that our own inner GPS advises otherwise.  Then, not surprisingly, we wake up one day and we feel completely lost.  If you’re feeling a little lost now, its time to change course.

Life is too short to spend all your time trying to make everyone else happy.  Besides, it’s impossible to please everyone all the time anyway.  At some point, you’ve got to stop caring about what everyone else wants for you, and start actually living for yourself.

Make choices that take your mind, body, and soul into consideration.  You are the only person who knows what’s best for you.  It’s impossible for anyone else to know.  No matter how much you share with them, they are not connected to your deepest desires, intuition, hopes and dreams.  Always, ALWAYS listen to yourself and what you want first.

2.  Sacrifice all your present happiness for future security.
Do not fool yourself into believing that you must live the same day over and over again for the rest of your life, simply because it’s the responsible thing to do.

So many people live daily with unhappy circumstances, and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation.  They somehow believe that conforming to their current circumstances will eventually lead to a life of comfort, security, and peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to their spirit.

Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design into the present.  The very basic core of the human spirit is a natural passion for exploration and growth.  This growth originates directly from our encounters with new ideas and experiences that intrigue us; and hence there is no greater destination in life than to have an endlessly changing horizon – for each day to have a new and different sun. 

3.  Focus intensely on not making mistakes.
Don’t commit to making less mistakes; commit to making more of them.  Fail forward.  Mistakes in life are as certain as sunsets and detours.  So why exert energy avoiding the unavoidable?  Embrace it.  The truth is, you aren’t really free until you give yourself the freedom to make mistakes.  So liberate yourself!  Shift your energy from protecting yourself from failure to squeezing more living out of your life.

Get real comfortable with that uneasy feeling of going against the grain and trying something new.  Doing so will always take you to places you never thought you could go.  Try new things, learn and explore freely.  Your good judgment comes from life experience, and life experience comes from your past bad judgments.  You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes.  Disappointment and defeat are the tools life uses to show you the way.

4.  Spend your entire present trying to fix a broken past.
The past isn’t broken.  It can’t possibly be.  It no longer exists.  There is nothing to fix.  There is, however, a present moment that can be lived with presence and power.

Sometimes life doesn’t give you what you want; not because you don’t deserve it, but because you deserve better.  No matter how many times you break down, there should always be a little voice inside you that says, “NO, you’re not done yet!  Get back up!”  That’s the voice of presence and power, which can only speak for you in the present moment.  What you need to realize is, life is a journey, often difficult and sometimes incredibly cruel; but you are well equipped for it as long as you tap into your inner strength in the present, and allow it to flourish forward. 

5.  Resist life’s realities that don’t align with your expectations.
Stop stressing over what could have been.  The chances are if it should have been, it would have been.  Life unfolds in unpredictable ways for a reason.  What happens isn’t good or bad.  It simply is.

Happiness is about trusting that what has happened has long-term positive, rather than negative, connotations.  Trust that life is happening for you, not to you.  This “inverse paranoia” of believing everything is for the greater good helps the human spirit face and welcome life’s turbulent changes cheerfully.

The bottom line is that we’re wired to expect the world to be brighter and more meaningful and more obviously interesting than it often is.  If you can learn to stop expecting impossible perfection, in yourself, others and the world around you, you may find the happiness that has always eluded you.

6.  Attempt to find the easy shortcut to your goals and dreams.
There is no easy shortcut to anywhere worth going.  You must be willing to make sacrifices.  It’s a process!  It’s a process!  It’s a process!  Ingrain this in your mind.  Achievement takes time.  Success, like washboard abs, is the outcome of a habit.  It’s the relentless daily practice of making small, diligent choices that add up in the long run.  It’s about following through and doing what you said you would do even when no one would notice but you, and knowing in your heart why doing so matters.

In a nutshell, when it comes to working hard to achieve a big life goal of any kind – earning a degree, building a business, or some other personal achievement that takes time and commitment – one thing you have to ask yourself is:  “Am I willing to live a few years of my life like many people won’t, so I can spend the rest of my life like many people can’t?”

7.  Win the approval and admiration of the wrong people.
You cannot make someone respect you; all you can do is be someone who can be respected.  The rest is up to them.  No matter how much you care some people just won’t care back.  It’s not the end of the world.  At some point you have to realize the truth – that they no longer care or never did, and that maybe you’re wasting your time and missing out on someone else who does.

Likewise, don’t waste too much of your time with people who are not supportive of your goals and abilities.  Surround yourself with those who believe in your potential.  Anyone who inspires you to make your half-hearted attempts more whole-hearted through passion and love, is a precious friend and teacher.  These people are out there.  Find them and conquer the world together.

8.  Keep waiting for the right time.
You cannot wait for the perfect time; it will never come.  If you think now feels like the wrong time, think again.  It’s just uncertainty messing with your mind.  Most of the time you must simply dare to jump.

Today is the first day of a new beginning – the conception of a new life.  The next nine months are all yours.  You can do with them as you please.  Make them count.  Because a new person is born in nine months.  The only question is: Who do you want that person to be?

Right now is the right time to decide.

Common Forum/Request/Suggestions / Ways to Make the Rest of Today Amazing
« on: September 24, 2014, 06:06:11 PM »
1.  Loosen your grip.
Trying to micromanage every little thing every moment is stressful.  Life should be touched, not strangled.    Sometimes you’ve got to relax and let life happen without incessant worry and micromanagement.

Starting now, let go before you squeeze too tight.  Take a deep breath.  When the dust settles and you can once again see the forest for the trees, take the next step forward.  You don’t have to know exactly where you’re going every single second to be headed somewhere great.  Everything in life is in perfect order whether you understand it yet or not.  It just takes some time to connect all the dots.

2.  Focus forward.
You can’t go back to how things were, or how you thought they were supposed to be.  All you really have is now.  The smartest thing you can control in life is your reaction to what’s beyond your control.  Dwelling on negativity from the past simply contributes to its power.  So stop focusing on what happened and start focusing on what’s going to move you forward.

Everyone’s life has positive and negative aspects – whether you’re happy and successful or not depends greatly on which aspects you focus on.  The best thing you can do now is to let go of what you can’t control, and invest your energy in the things you can.

3.  Check one lingering task off your to-do list.
Putting something off instantly makes it harder and scarier.  What you don’t start today won’t be finished by tomorrow; and there’s nothing more stressful than the perpetual lingering of an unfinished task.

You know that thing you’ve been meaning to do, but you keep putting it off and it keeps nagging at you from the back of your mind.  Stop the nagging by taking action now! 

4.  Spend an hour working on something that moves you.
When you strike that fine balance between the challenge of an activity and your skill at performing it, when the rhythm of your work feels in sync with your purpose, when you know that what you’re doing makes a difference, you become absorbed in the task at hand to the point where time ceases to exist.  This is what true passion and happiness feels like.

So is there anything you do on a regular basis that makes you forget what time it is?

On your average day, flow experiences like these are those flashes of intense living when you’re engrossed in a meaningful task that makes you feel more alive.  These optimal experiences can happen when you’re engaged in work, paid or unpaid, that move you.  Work like this is something you should be pursuing for at least an hour on a daily basis.

5.  Try something totally new.
Step out of your comfort zone and try something totally new.  What have you wondered about doing, but haven’t had the courage or time to try?  Aim for something small that you can accomplish in an hour or less.  It can be a whole new activity or just a small experience, such as talking to a stranger.

Variety truly is the spice of life.  You can see or do something a million times, but you can only see or do it for the first time once.  As a result, first time experiences often lift our spirits and our consciousness.

So what’s new to YOU?

6.  Help someone smile.
There is no exercise better for the improvement of our world than reaching down on a daily basis to lift someone up.  Don’t wait for people to smile.  Show them how.  Do something nice for someone who has no way of paying you back.  Do it because you can, and because it makes the world a happier place.

When you make a positive impact in someone else’s life, you also make a positive impact in your own life.  Do something that’s greater than you – something that helps someone else to be happy or to suffer less.  I promise, it will be an extremely rewarding experience.  And your small gesture just might touch a wound that only kindness can heal. 

7.  Spend time with a friend who improves you.
You can go through life and make new friends every year – every month practically – but there is no substitute for the few who truly improve you.  These aren’t the people who are simply nice to you; they’re the ones who help you uncover the things that are holding you back.  In subtle ways, they bring ideas to your attention that change your life.  These friends don’t just sit beside you unknowingly; they shake your world up, reveal your obstacles and weaknesses, and remain a part of your life because they care.

Friends like this are the most important people you will ever meet because they tear down the invisible walls you have built in your mind.  In other words, they come into your life and reveal new, valuable layers of yourself that you would never have discovered without them.

Spend some time chatting with one of these people today.

8.  Muse on life’s goodness.
You deserve some time every day in which worries don’t get in the way of your happiness.  Moments when, even if some people are insensitive or unkind around you, you’re not going to mind because you realize that the blessings you have received are far greater than the burdens you are dealing with.  You can create time like this for yourself today.  There is power in positivity.

Think about the goodness.  Be grateful for all the blessings you already have.  We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.  What if you gave someone a gift and they neglected to thank you for it?  Would you be likely to give them another one?  The daily events in your life respond the same way.  In order to attract more of the blessings that life has to offer, you must be grateful for what you already have.

9.  Give yourself some “me time.”
Yes, you have battles out in the world to fight, insecurities to overcome, loved ones to contend with, and goals to achieve, but a break from it all is necessary.  It’s perfectly healthy to pause and let the world spin without you for a while.

Go ahead and set aside some “me time” to be alone with your own thoughts today.  Enjoy the space between the commotions.  Say nothing, think quietly, just be and breathe.  Give yourself an opportunity to discover who you really are, and to figure out why you truly are always alone… and why that’s perfectly OK. 

10.  Be right here, right now.
I purposely left this point for last because it perfectly encompasses all the previous points.  Be present.  It’s being here now that’s important.  Don’t let your life slip by.  Pay attention to what’s happening in and around you; don’t just hurry through to the next thing.

You can’t stop the future.  You can’t rewind the past.  The only way to live is to press play.  So instead of dwelling on what happened earlier today, or worrying about what might happen later on, just practice being and living in this moment.  This moment, after all, is the only time guaranteed to you.  Right now is all there ever truly is.  Right now is life.  Open your eyes so you don’t miss it.

Common Forum/Request/Suggestions / Thoughts You Need Out of Your Mind
« on: September 24, 2014, 06:04:47 PM »
1.  “Life hurts and that’s just the way it is.”
The mind can be the harshest battleground.  It can be the place where the greatest conflicts are carried out.  It’s where half of the things you thought were going to happen, never came to be.  But if you allow those thoughts to dwell in your mind and fester, they will succeed in robbing you of peace, of happiness, and of everything that is beautiful in this world.

Tell the negativity committee that meets inside your head to sit down and shut up.  Don’t think yourself into a nervous breakdown, into depression, into hopeless defeat.  If you’re being negative when you’re alone, the warfare is in your mind.  The fight you’ve got to fight is in your mind.  You can’t change what has happened, but you can choose how you’re going to deal with it.

2.  “Those haters are right about me.”
Be wise enough to walk away from the negativity around you; don’t let it infect your thinking.  Don’t let someone else’s negative opinion ruin your reality.  No matter how much negativity is thrown at YOU by others, there is absolutely no need for you to stay put and partake in the decay they choose for their own lives.  YOU decide how your soul grows.

When the people around you give you every reason to be negative, think of one good reason to be positive.  There’s always something to be grateful for.  Say it: “I am lucky to be alive! I am happy to be me!  I have so much to be grateful for!  My life isn’t perfect, it’s just pretty darn good!”

3.  “The way it is now is the way it will always be.”
Don’t confuse your path with your destination.  Just because it’s stormy now, doesn’t mean you aren’t headed for sunshine.  And remember, you cannot heal a lifetime of pain overnight; be patient with yourself, it takes as long as it takes, but your happiness is well worth the wait.

You write your own destiny through the choices you make.  You become what you repeatedly do.  It is more important to know where you are going and why, than to get there quickly.  Do not mistake activity for achievement.  Every time you are tempted to react to the same old circumstances in the same old way, ask yourself, “Do I want to be a prisoner of the past, or a pioneer of the future?”

4.  “Life is supposed to be easy.”
Nothing worthwhile in life was meant to be easy; learn to take it easy with your expectations in this area.  Don’t expect things to be given to you.  Go out and achieve them!  It’s the only sane way to deal with life’s challenges.  If it’s worth having, it’s worth working for.

Anyone can run away and waste away; it’s super easy to do nothing.  Facing challenges and working through them, that’s what makes you strong.  And even on your weakest days you get a bit stronger.  So today, stop wishing for it and start working for it.  Talk is cheap.  Action is priceless. 

5.  “It’s easier to blame someone else.”
Too many of us only take credit for positive outcomes.  In other words, we take full credit for our successes, but deny responsibility for our failures.  A perfect example of this can be witnessed in school classrooms across the globe.  When students receive a good grade, they often attribute it to their intelligence and their excellent study habits.  But when they get a bad grade, they attribute some of their failure to a bad teacher, an unfair set of test questions, or a subject matter that “isn’t needed in the real world anyway.”

Realize that in order for you to grow emotionally, you must be willing to take full responsibility for all your actions and outcomes – successes and failures alike.  Because if you are too afraid of failure, you can’t possibly do what needs to be done to be successful.  Setbacks, failures, obstacles, and hardships are the contractors of life; they build character, strength and knowledge.

6.  “I just can’t stand X, Y and Z!”
Today, let your small annoyances go.  Move through your day consciously.  Make an effort to notice at least one insignificant little frustration that you would normally get frustrated about.  Then do yourself a favor and simply let it go.  Experience, in this little way, the freedom of being in control of the way you feel.  And realize that you can extend this same level of control to every situation you encounter in life.

At any given moment, the way you feel is the way you choose to feel, and the way you react is the way you choose to react.

7.  “They look a certain way, so they must be a certain way.”
Superficial judgments are made the instant one person assumes something about another person based on their immediate appearance.  Sadly, this likely happens thousands of times every minute, all around the world.   For example, someone might see a tall, well groomed man in his early fifties wearing a business suit, and instantly assume he is successful and reliable, even though there is zero concrete evidence to support this assumption.

Bottom line:  Don’t judge a person by what they show you in a single glance.  What you’ve seen is oftentimes only what they have chosen to show you at that particular moment.  Too often we jump to conclusions.  Talk with people, listen to their stories, watch what they do – this is how you get to know who they truly are.

8.  “Giving up and starting over is a sign of failure.”
Don’t try to diminish your losses from a past failure by continuing to follow the exact same path that led to the failure in the first place.  In other words, don’t do the same thing over and over again and expect different results.  If it didn’t work last time, and you haven’t made any significant changes, it probably won’t work this time either.

Sometimes we justify our decision to continue investing in a failed endeavor based solely on our cumulative prior investment, despite new evidence suggesting that the cost, starting today, of continuing to pursue it outweighs the expected benefit.  The logical thing to do would be for us to cut our losses and change our course of action.  However, due to the sunk costs we have already invested, we feel committed to the endeavor, so we invest even more time, money and energy into it, hoping that our additional investment will reverse the outcome.  But most of the time it never will.

When you can no longer think of a reason to continue, you must think of a reason to start over, and that’s perfectly OK.  There’s a big difference between giving up and starting over in the right direction. 

9.  “It’s too late.  I missed my chance.”
Be done with regrets; they are an excuse for people who have given up.  You are still here trying and growing.  Life is about learning from the past, trusting your intuition going forward, taking chances, finding moments of happiness, and realizing everything is simply a lesson that happens for a reason.

Don’t stress over what could’ve been; chances are if it should’ve been, it would’ve been.  Focus on the present; you have a lot to look forward to in it.  Just do your best.  Every moment gives you a new beginning and a new ending.  You get a second chance, every second.  And YOUR best chance is happening right NOW.

1.  Get comfortable with not knowing what other people think.
When I first started writing on this blog, I’d agonize over whether people would think what I was writing was good enough.  I desperately hoped they’d like it, and oftentimes I’d catch myself imagining they didn’t.  Then one day I realized how much energy I was wasting worrying about it.  So I’ve gradually learned to relax with simply not knowing.

Some problems in life, such as not knowing what others think of you, are not really meant to be resolved.  How people perceive you may have more to do with them than you anyway.  They may even like or dislike you simply because you’ve triggered an association in their minds by reminding them of someone they liked or disliked from their past, which has absolutely nothing to do with you.

So here’s a new mantra for you – say it, and then say it again: “This is my life, my choices, my mistakes and my lessons.  As long as I’m not hurting people, I need not worry what they think of me.”

2.  Know that most people are NOT thinking about you anyway.
Ethel Barrett once said, “We would worry less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.

Forget what everyone else thinks of you; chances are, they aren’t thinking about you anyway.  If you feel like they always are, understand that this perception of them watching you and critiquing your every move is a complete figment of your imagination.  It’s your own inner fears and insecurities that are creating this illusion.  It’s you judging yourself that’s the problem.

3.  Accept that someone else’s opinion is NOT your problem.
How many times have you looked at a person and initially misjudged their brilliance?  Appearances are deceptive.  How you seem to someone and how you actually are rarely congruent.  Even if they get the basic gist of who you are, they’re still missing a big piece of the puzzle.  What someone thinks of you will rarely contain the whole truth, which is fine.

If someone forms an opinion of you based on superficialities, then it’s up to them, not you, to reform those opinions based on a more objective and rational viewpoint.  Leave it to them to worry about – that is, if they even have an opinion at all.

Bottom line:  The opinions other people have about you is their problem, not yours.  The less you worry about what they think of you, the less complicated your life becomes.

4.  Ask yourself, “Does what they think even matter?”
People will think what they want to think.  No matter how carefully you choose your words and mannerisms, there’s always a good chance they’ll be misinterpreted and twisted upside down by someone.  Does this really matter in the grand scheme of things?  No, it doesn’t.

How others see you is not important.  How you see yourself means the world.  When you’re making big decisions, remember, what you think of yourself and your life is more important than what people think of you.  Stay true to YOU.  Never be ashamed of doing what feels right.  Decide what you think is right and stick to it.

5.  See the benefit in being unique.
If you’re thinking like everyone else, you aren’t thinking.  And if you aren’t thinking, you aren’t truly living.

It’s human nature to attempt to mimic other humans we look up to – perhaps a parental figure or a celebrity – especially when we are feeling insecure in our own skin.  But attempting to be someone else will always leave us feeling empty inside.  Why?  Because what we appreciate about the people we admire is their individuality – the qualities that make them unique.  To really copy them, we need to develop our own individuality, and in that way, we would actually be less like them and more like our true selves.

We all have quirks and unique perspectives.  The more relaxed you become with your own differences, the more comfortable you will start to feel just being YOU.  Celebrate being different, off the beaten path, a little on the weird side… your own special creation.  If you find yourself feeling like a fish out of water, by all means find a new river to swim in.  But DO NOT change who you are; BE who you are. 

6.  Be fully present and aware of how you DO want to feel.
It’s OK to know how you do not want to feel, but that’s not all you should be thinking about.  Imagine someone trying to learn to read by spending all their time focusing on how they do not want to not be able to read.  It doesn’t really make any sense, does it?

Enough is enough!  Forget what you do not want to feel for a moment.  Work out how you DO want to feel right now in the present moment.  Train yourself to live right here, right now without regretting how others once made you feel, or fearing the possibility of future judgment.

If you were delivering life-saving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on your mom in public, you’d be 100% focused and present.  You wouldn’t be thinking about what bystanders thought of your hair, your body type, or the brand of jeans you were wearing.  All these inconsequential details would vanish from your consciousness.  The intensity of the situation would motivate you to choose not to care about what others might be thinking of you.  This proves, quite simply, that thinking about what others are thinking about you is YOUR CHOICE.

7.  Speak and live your truth.
Speak your truth even if your voice shakes.  Be cordial and reasonable, of course, but don’t tread carefully on every word you say.  Push your concerns of what others might think aside.  Let the consequences of doing so unravel naturally.  What you’ll find is that most of the time no one will be offended or irritated at all.  And if they do get upset, it’s likely only because you’ve started behaving in a way that makes them feel they have less power over you.

Think about it.  Why be fake?

In the end, the truth usually comes out one way or the other, and when that happens, you’re standing alone if you’ve been living a lie.  So live your whole truth starting now.  If someone gives you a hard time and says, “You’ve changed,” it’s not a bad thing.  It just means you stopped living your life their way.  Don’t apologize for it.  Instead, be open and sincere, explain how you feel, and keep doing what you know in your heart is right.

1.  “I’m not good enough yet.”
You might think you’re not good enough, but you’ll surprise yourself if you keep trying.  Your past does not determine who you are. Your past prepares you for who you are capable of becoming.  What ultimately defines you is how well you rise after falling.  Don’t ever be afraid to give yourself a chance to be everything you are capable of being.  Forget the haters.  Never undervalue who you are and what you’re capable of.  Excellence is the result of loving more than others think is necessary, dreaming more than others think is practical, risking more than others think is safe, and doing more than others think is possible.

2.  “I should be living up to other people’s expectations.”
Remember, it’s always better to be at the bottom of the ladder you want to climb than the top of the one you don’t.  Happiness and success is all about spending your life in your own way.  Always be yourself and walk your own path.  No one can ever tell you you’re doing it wrong.  Everyone has their own dreams, their own struggles, and a different path that makes sense for them.  You are YOU for a reason.

If you end up living a boring, miserable life because you ignored yourself and instead listened to a parent, a teacher, or some gal on TV telling you how to live your life, then you have no one but yourself to blame.  Just remember, the smartest and most courageous act is simply to think for yourself and listen to you own intuition.  In the end, it’s better to die your way, than live someone else’s idea of your life. 

3.  “What they think and say about me matters.”
What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?

Don’t let others crush your dreams.  Do just once what they say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their negativity again.  Don’t walk away from these negative people… RUN!  Good things happen when you distance yourself from negativity and those who create it.

Truth be told, no one has the right to judge you.  People may have heard your stories, but they can’t feel what you are going through; they aren’t living YOUR life.  So forget what they say about you.  Focus on how you feel about yourself, and do what you know in your heart is right.

4.  “I need recognition for my actions to be worthwhile.”
Do what you know is right.  Integrity is doing the right thing, no matter what, even when nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.  Life always finds its balance.  Don’t expect to get back everything you give.  Don’t expect recognition for every effort you make.  And don’t expect your kindness to be instantly recognized or your love to be understood by everyone you encounter.

What seems like the right thing to do could also be the hardest thing you have ever done.  Do it anyway.  There is no greatness or peace of mind where there is betrayal of your own goodwill.  Always aim at complete sincerity of your thoughts, words and deeds.  If it is wrong, don’t do it.  If it is untrue, don’t repeat it.  Do what you do because you believe it’s the right thing to do.  Do the right thing even when nobody is looking.  Be one of the people who make a true difference in the world by leaving it a little better and more wholesome than you found it.

5.  “It’s too late for me.”
Don’t let yesterday steal your present.  Don’t judge yourself by your past… you don’t live there anymore.  Let go, grow, and move forward.  As we grow older and wiser, we begin to realize what we need and what we need to leave behind.  Sometimes walking away is a step forward.  Sometimes a break from your routine is exactly what you need.  Unless you try to master something beyond what you already know, you will feel forever stuck.

Don’t waste another minute regretting what you did yesterday, and start doing what you have to do now, so tomorrow you won’t regret what you did today.  It’s not too late.  If you feel like it is, it’s just your inner fears lying to you.  But remember, fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in your mind.  It’s difficult to follow your heart, but it’s a tragedy to let the lies of fear stop you.

6.  “I need to have it all figured out.”
Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?  Believe it or not, sometimes it’s the latter.

Sometimes the greatest dreams that come true are the dreams you never even knew you had.  It’s about open-minded exploration.  There are no wrong turns in life, only paths you didn’t know you were meant to walk.  You never can be certain what’s around the corner.  It could be everything, or it could be nothing.  You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and realize you’ve climbed to the peak of the most beautiful mountaintop.

7.  “I do not have enough to be positive and grateful.”
Some days you’ll find diamonds and some days all you’ll see is coal.  However, every day is a golden opportunity to learn, practice gratitude, and positively impact the world around you.  Do not ask for instant fulfillment in your life, but for patience to accept your current frustrations.  Do not ask for perfection in all you do, but for the wisdom to not repeat past mistakes.  Do not ask for more before saying, “THANK YOU” for everything you have already received.

And remember, everything in life is temporary.  So if things are good, enjoy it.  It won’t last forever.  If things are bad, don’t worry because it won’t last forever either.  Just because life isn’t stress-free right now, doesn’t mean you can’t laugh.  Just because something is bothering you, doesn’t mean you can’t smile.  The trick is to be grateful when your mood is high and graceful when it is low.

8.  “My life should be easier and free of discomfort.”
Great challenges make life interesting; overcoming them makes life meaningful.  It’s how you deal with failure and discomfort that determines your level of success and happiness.  Laugh at your mistakes and learn from them.  Joke about your troubles and gather strength from them.  Have fun with the challenges you face and then conquer them.

Emotional discomfort in life, when accepted, rises, crests and crashes in a series of waves.  Each wave washes an old layer of you away and deposits treasures you never expected to find.  Out goes inexperience, in comes awareness; out goes frustration, in comes resilience; out goes hatred, in comes kindness.  No one would say these waves of emotional experience are easy to ride, but the rhythm of emotional discomfort that you learn to tolerate while doing so is natural, helpful and prevalent.  The discomfort eventually leaves you stronger and healthier than it found you. 

9.  “I can’t forgive them.”
Forgiveness is a promise.  When you forgive someone you are making a promise not to hold the unchangeable past against your present self.  Forgiveness doesn’t mean what happened was completely excusable, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that person should still be welcome in your life.  It simply means you have made peace with the pain, and are ready to let it go and move on with your life.

Forgiveness has nothing to do with freeing a criminal of his or her crime.  It has everything to do with freeing yourself of the burden of being a victim – letting go of the pain and transforming yourself from victim to victor.

10.  “I am alone.”
You can’t make it through on your own.  None of us can.  That’s why, thank goodness, you are never as alone as you sometimes feel.  So many of us are fighting the same exact battle alongside you.  You may feel alone sometimes, but you are not alone in being alone.

To lose sleep worrying about a loved one.  To have trouble picking yourself up after someone lets you down.  To feel rejected because someone didn’t care about you enough to stay.  To be afraid to try something new for fear you may fail.  None of this means you’re weird or dysfunctional.  It just means you’re human, and that you need a little time to regroup and recalibrate yourself.

No matter how embarrassed or pathetic you feel about your own situation, there are others out there experiencing the same emotions.  When you hear yourself say, “I am all alone,” it’s just your mind trying to sell you a lie.  There’s always someone who can relate to you.  Perhaps you can’t immediately talk to them, but they are out there, and that’s all you need to know right now.

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