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Messages - abu_jafar

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31
Common Forum/Request/Suggestions / Relationship Tips Everyone Forgets
« on: September 24, 2014, 06:00:24 PM »
1.  Let go of old wounds through forgiveness.
Every moment of your life you are either growing or dying – and when you are physically healthy, it’s a choice, not fate.  The art of maintaining happiness in your life and relationships relies on the fine balancing act of holding on and letting go.  Yes, sometimes people you trust (including yourself) will hurt you.  Being hurt is something you can’t avoid, but being continuously miserable is always a choice.  Forgiveness is the remedy.  You have to let go of what’s behind you before you can grasp the goodness in front of you.

2.  Come clean when you make a mistake.
An honest heart is the beginning of everything that is right with this world.  The most honorable people of all are not those who never make mistakes, but those who admit to them when they do, and then go on and do their best to right the wrongs they’ve made.  In the end, being honest might not always win you a lot of friends and lovers, but it will always keep the right ones in your life. 

3.  Stop gossiping and start communicating.
A good rule of thumb:  If you can’t say it to their face, you shouldn’t say it behind their back.  As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and small minds discuss people.”  Life is much too short to waste talking about people, gossiping, and stirring up trouble that has no substance.  If you don’t know, ask. If you don’t agree, say so.  If you don’t like it, speak up.  But never judge people behind their back.

4.  Give others the space to make their own decisions.
Stop judging others by your own past.  Never act, judge, or treat people like you know them better than they know themselves.  They are living a different life than you are.  What might be good for one person may not be good for another.  What might be bad for one person might change another person’s life for the better.  Allow the people in your life to make their own mistakes and their own decisions.

5.  Do things that make YOU happy.
If you want to awaken happiness in a relationship, start by living a life that makes you happy and then radiate your happiness into your relationship.  If you want to eliminate suffering in a relationship, start by eliminating the dark and negative parts of yourself, and then radiate your positivity into your relationship.  Truly, the greatest power you have in this world is the power of your own self-transformation.  All the positive change you seek in any relationship starts with the one in the mirror. 

6.  Show your loved ones your kindness in small ways every day.
Aesop once said, “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.  Always be kinder than necessary.  You never know what someone is going through.  Sometimes you have to be kind to someone, not because they’re being nice, but because you are.  Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

7.  Say less when less means more.
It takes some courage to stand up and speak; it takes even more courage to open your mind and listen.  Pay attention and be a good listener. Your ears will never get you in trouble.  The people in your life often need a listening ear more than they need a rambling voice.  And don’t listen with the intent to reply; hear what is being said with the intent to understand.  You are as beautiful as the love you give, and you are as wise as the silence you leave behind.

8.  Let your love and trust overpower your fear.
You never lose by loving; you lose by holding back.  No relationship is impossible until you refuse to give it a chance.  Love means giving someone the chance to hurt you, but trusting them not to.  Without this trust, a relationship cannot survive.  You cannot just believe what you fear from others; you have to believe in the good faith of others.  If you are ever going to have someone trust you, you must feel that you can trust them too.

9.  Accept, don’t expect.
Unconditional acceptance is something we want, but rarely ever give out.  Remember, people never do anything that is out of character.  They may do things that go against your expectations, but what people do reveals exactly who they are.  Never force your expectations on people, other than the expectation that they will be exactly who they are.  Who they are is not what they say or what you have come to expect, it is who they reveal themselves to be.  Either you accept them as they are, or you move on without them. 

10.  Let the wrong ones go.
Know your worth!  When you give your time to someone who doesn’t respect you, you surrender pieces of your heart you will never get back.  All failed relationships hurt, but losing someone who doesn’t appreciate and respect you is actually a gain, not a loss.  Some people come into your life temporarily simply to teach you something.  They come and they go and they make a difference.  It’s perfectly okay that they’re not in your life anymore.  You now have more time to focus on the relationships that truly matter.

32
1. The people worth impressing just want you to be yourself.
In the long run, it’s better to be loathed for who you are than loved for who you are not.  In fact, the only relationships that work well in the long run 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.

Ignore the comparisons and expectations knocking at your door.  The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday.  Prove yourself to yourself, not others.  The RIGHT people for you will love you for doing so, and they will appreciate all the things about you that the WRONG people are intimidated by.  Bottom line: Don’t change so people will like you; be patient, keep being your amazing self, and pretty soon the RIGHT people will love the REAL you.

2.  No one else really knows what’s best for YOU.
Don’t lose yourself in your search for acceptance by others.  Walk your path confidently and don’t expect anyone else to understand your journey, especially if they have not been exactly where you are going.  You have to take the steps that are right for you; no one else walks in your shoes.

Let others take you as you are, or not at all.  Speak your truth even if your voice shakes.  By being true to yourself, you put something breathtaking into the world that was not there before.  You are stunning when your passion and strength shines through as you follow your own path – when you aren’t distracted by the opinions of others.  You are powerful when you let your mistakes educate you, and your confidence builds from firsthand experiences – when you know you can fall down, pick yourself up, and move forward without asking for anyone else’s permission.

3.  YOU are the only person who can change YOUR life.
In every situation you have ever been in, positive or negative, the one common thread is you.  It is your responsibility, and yours alone, to recognize that regardless of what has happened up to this point in your life, you are capable of making choices to change your situation, or to change the way you think about it.  Don’t let the opinions of others interfere with this prevailing reality.

What you’re capable of achieving is not a function of what other people think is possible for you.  What you’re capable of achieving depends entirely on what you choose to do with your time and energy.  So stop worrying about what everyone else thinks.  Just keep living your truth.  The only people that will fault you for doing so are those who want you to live a lie.

4.  Society’s materialistic measurement of worth is worthless.
When you find yourself trapped between what moves you and what society tells you is right for you, always travel the route that makes you feel alive – unless you want everyone to be happy, except you.  No matter where life takes you, big cities or small towns, you will inevitably come across others who think they know what’s best for you – people who think they’re better than you – people who think happiness, success and beauty mean the same things to everyone.

They’ll try to measure your worth based on what you have, instead of who you are.  But you know better than that – material things don’t matter.  Don’t chase the money.  Catch up to the ideas and activities that make you come alive.  Go for the things of greater value – the things money can’t buy.  What matters is having strength of character, an honest heart, and a sense of self-worth.  If you’re lucky enough to have any of these things, never sell them.  Never sell yourself short.

5.  Life isn’t a race; you have nothing to prove.
Everyone wants to get to the top of the mountain first and shout, “Look at me!  Look at me!”  But the truth is, all your happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing, not while you’re sitting at the top.  Enjoy the journey by paying attention to each step.  Don’t rush through your life and miss it.  Forget where everyone else is in relation to you.  This isn’t a race.  You get there a little at a time, not all at once.

Let go of the foolish need to prove yourself to everyone else, and you’ll free yourself to accomplish what matters most to you.  Sometimes you have to remind yourself that you don’t have to always be and do what everyone else is being and doing.

6.  The path to all great things passes through failure.
You are an ever-changing work in progress.  You don’t have to always be right, you just have to not be too worried about being wrong.  Screwing up is part of the process.  Looking like a fool sometimes is the only way forward.  If you try too hard to impress everyone else with your “perfection,” you will stunt your growth.  You will spend all your time looking a certain way, instead of living a certain way.

It’s impossible to live without failing sometimes, unless you live so cautiously that you aren’t really living at all – you’re merely existing.  If you’re too afraid of failing in front of others, you can’t possibly do what needs to be done to be successful in your own eyes.  You have to remember that it doesn’t matter how many times you fail or how messy your journey is, so long as you do not stop taking small steps forward.  In the end, those who don’t care that failure is inevitable are the ones that reach their dreams.  YOU can be one of them. 

7.  It’s impossible to please everyone anyway.
Some people will always tell you what you did wrong, and then hesitate to compliment you for what you did right.  Don’t be one of them, and don’t put up with them.

When you run into someone who discredits you, disrespects you and treats you poorly for no apparent reason at all, don’t consume yourself with trying to change them or win their approval.  And be sure not to leave any space in your heart to hate them.  Simply walk away and let karma deal with the things they say and do, because any bit of time you spend on these people will be wasted, and any bit of hate and aggravation in your heart will only hurt you in the end.

33
1. “My goals and dreams can wait.”
To accomplish great things, you must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.  Be a dreamer, a believer, and a courageous and cheerful thinker.  Be a positive motivator, a productive doer, and a go-getter who keeps her head in the clouds and her feet on the ground.  Let the spirit of passion and possibility ignite a fire within you to do something worthwhile today, and don’t forget to spread your enthusiasm to those around you.

There’s no excuse for being an amateur forever.  Life is short.  The day is rapidly approaching when the risk to remain perched in your nest is far more detrimental than the risk it takes to fly.  Fly!  Spread your wings.  Start now.  What a disgrace it would be for you to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of your full potential.

Be bold enough to use your voice, brave enough to listen to your heart, and strong enough to live the life you’ve always imagined.  And remember, people are going to talk regardless of what you do or how well you do it.  So worry about yourself before you worry about what others think.

2.  “I don’t have a choice.”
William James once said, “When you have a choice to make and you don’t make it, that in itself is a choice.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.

Ultimately, life has no meaning; you have a meaning and you bring it to life.  It is a waste to always be questioning yourself when you are the answer.  Until you can look at yourself in the mirror and honestly say, “I have a choice.  I am here now because of the choices I’ve made in the past,” you will never be able to say, “I choose differently.”

You’re choosing, all day, every day.  If you’re struggling at a job you don’t love, look at it this way: you’re choosing to make a living to pay your mortgage, support your family, and fuel your dreams.  Don’t resist it; own it – that’s where your power is.  If you’re in a relationship that’s causing you pain, you’re choosing to be in it.  Maybe staying will lead to essential growth or a breakthrough or a deeper understanding of love.  Or not.  But you’re choosing to be in or out, right now.  Whichever you choose, own it – that’s where your power is. 

3.  “They are probably right, so I must be wrong.”
Don’t allow others to confuse you.  Don’t let them convince your heart what is right for you.  Your heart already knows.  Listen to it.  Don’t let anyone dilute the power of your inner voice.  You’ve got to stand up for something specific, on your own two feet, or you will achieve nothing worthwhile in your own mind.  Within you there is formidable and undeniable sense of purpose.  Happiness comes from making a solid and persistent connection to that purpose.  When your intentions are supported by a “why” that has meaning, you will find the “how” to bring them to life.

Bottom line:  What’s right for you may be wrong for others, and vice versa.  The truth is that the world isn’t really as it is, but as we see it.  And we all see it differently.  So don’t be scared to step out of line.  It’s OK to go off the beaten path, as long as you know why going a different way is right for you.  Some people may resent the freedom that you create in your life when you choose to be true to yourself.  If you come across these people, ignore them and carry on.

4.  “This sucks.”
The worst obstacle in life is a bad attitude.  Remember, it’s not what happens to you, but how you respond to what happens to you.  You can’t let one bad moment spoil a bunch of good ones.  Don’t let the silly little dramas of each day get you down.  Smile, even when it feels like things are falling apart.  Smiling doesn’t always mean you’re happy; sometimes it just means you’re strong.

Likewise, do not let the negative opinions of others derail you.  Throughout your life you will meet two kinds of people: those who are a drain on your energy and try to derail your dreams, and those who give you the energy to pursue your dreams.  Ignore the first kind and cherish the second.  People that doubt, judge, and disrespect you are not worth your time and attention.

5.  “I hate you.”
As Martin Luther King Jr. so profoundly said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  Truth be told, when we harbor feelings of hate, it eventually gets the best of us.  Everything and everyone you hate rents permanent space in both your head and heart.  So if you want to eliminate something or someone from your mind, don’t hate.  Instead, disconnect yourself, move on, and don’t look back.

And remember that getting even doesn’t help you get ahead.  You will never get ahead of anyone as long as you try to get even with them.  Sometimes we don’t forgive people because they deserve it; we forgive them because they need it, because we need it, and because we cannot move forward without it.  To forgive is to rediscover the inner peace and purpose that at first you thought someone took away when they betrayed you.

6.  “I can’t.”
Yes you CAN!  Stop stressing over what could have been, because the chances are if it should have been, it would have been.  You may feel discouraged.  You may feel upset.  You may feel too old.  You may be sick.  You may be divorced.  You may be unemployed.  You may be financially strapped.  You may be… etc.  But you’re not dead – YOU ARE ALIVE.  Your journey is far from over.

Forget about how you thought things were supposed to be.  Just because some things didn’t work out as you had expected, or didn’t happen as fast as you thought they would, is no excuse to give up on yourself.  Time passes one way or the other.  Do what you need to do so that, at the very least, you can look back someday and say, “I gave life my best shot.” 

7.  “I missed my chance.”
Nothing is permanent in this crazy world, not even your mistakes, failures, or troubles.  So laugh at the confusion, live consciously in the moment, and enjoy your life as it unfolds.  You might not be exactly where you had intended to go, but you are precisely where you need to be to take the next best step forward.

As Maria Robinson once said, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”  This is your life; shape it, or someone else will try for you.  Strength shows not only in the ability to hold on, but in the ability to start over when you must.  It is never too late to become what you might have been.  Keep learning, adapting, and growing.  You may not be there yet, but you are closer than you were yesterday.

8.  “Never mind… it’s not important…”
A great deal of unhappiness comes into the world because of confusion, bewilderment, and things left unsaid.  Many times in life I’ve regretted the things I’ve said without thinking.  But I’ve never regretted the things I said nearly as much as the words I’ve left unspoken.

Speak up.  Don’t hide your thoughts and feelings, especially when you can make a difference.  Be brave.  Say what needs to be said.  When you don’t communicate effectively with those around you, there’s a lot of important stuff that ends up not getting said and a lot of beautiful emotion that ends up not being felt.  There’s no greater sadness than holding on to the words you never had the courage to speak.

34
Common Forum/Request/Suggestions / Smart Ways to Stop Fearing Rejection
« on: September 24, 2014, 05:55:26 PM »
1.  Realize that fear itself is the real enemy.
Franklin D. Roosevelt so profoundly said, “Only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.  This is especially true as it relates to self-fulfilling prophecies.

A self-fulfilling prophecy is a false belief about a situation that motivates the person with the belief to take actions that cause the belief to come true.  This kind of thinking often kills opportunities and tears relationships apart.  For instance, you might wrongly believe that a group of people will reject you, so you become defensive, anxious, and perhaps even hostile with them.  Eventually, your behavior brings about the feared rejection, which wasn’t there to begin with.  And then you, ‘the prophet,’ feels that you were right from the very beginning: “I knew they didn’t like me!”

Do you see how this works?  Look carefully at your own tendencies.  How do your fears and beliefs about possible rejection influence your behavior toward others?  Take a stand.  Instead of letting fear show you what might be wrong in your relationships, start looking for signs of what might be right.

2.  Let go of your “end of the world” thinking.
All variations of fear, including the fear of rejection, thrive on “end of the world” thinking.  In other words, our emotions convince us that an undesirable outcome results in annihilation.

What if they don’t like me?
What if he rejects me?
What if I don’t fit in and I’m left sitting alone at the party?
Etc.
None of these things result in the “end of the world,” but if we convince ourselves that they do, we will irrationally fear these outcomes and give our fears control over us.  The truth is, we – human beings – are inefficient at accurately predicting how future misfortune will make us feel.  In fact, most of the time we avoid consciously thinking about it all together, which only perpetuates our subconscious fears.

So ask yourself: “If disaster should strike, and my fear of being rejected comes true, what are three constructive ways I could cope and move forward with my life?”  Sit down and tell yourself a story (write it down too if it helps) about how you will feel after rejection, how you will allow yourself to be upset for a short while, and then how you will begin the process of growing from the experience and moving on.  Just doing this exercise will help you to feel less fear around the possibility of rejection. 

3.  Question what “rejection” really means.
If a person discovers a 200-carat white diamond in the earth but, due to ignorance, believes it to be worthless, and thus tosses it aside, does this tell us more about the diamond or the person?  Along the same lines, when one person rejects another, it reveals a lot more about the “rejecter” than the “rejected.”  All you are really seeing is the, often shortsighted, opinion of one person.  Consider the following…

If J.K. Rowling stopped after being rejected by multiple publishers for years, there would be no Harry Potter.  If Howard Schultz gave up after being turned down by banks 200+ times, there would be no Starbucks.  If Walt Disney quit too soon after his theme park concept was trashed by 300+ investors, there would be no Disney World.

One thing is for sure: If you give too much power to the opinions of others, you will become their prisoner.  So never let someone’s opinion alter your reality.  Never sacrifice who you are, or who you aspire to be, just because someone else has a problem with it.  Love who you are inside and out, and keep pushing forward.  No one else has the power to make you feel small unless you give them that power.  And when someone rejects you, don’t inevitably feel it’s because you’re unworthy or unlovable, because all they’ve done is give you clear feedback about their own shortsightedness.

4.  Let your presence overpower your fear.
Ever noticed how people who are struggling with emotional problems tend to tell you how they don’t want to feel?  Fair enough, but at some point we all need to focus on how we DO want to feel.

When you’re in a social situation that’s making you anxious, forget what you don’t 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.

This is YOUR choice.  You CAN change the way you think.

If you were delivering life-saving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on your mother 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. 

5.  Let go of your need to always be right.
The reason your fear of rejection sometimes gets the best of you is because a part of you believes you’re always right.  If you think someone doesn’t like you, then surely they don’t.  Right?  WRONG!

People who never learn to question their emotions, especially when they’re feeling nervous or anxious, make life much more difficult than it has to be.  If your perception is always so accurate, why do you make so many mistakes?  Exactly.  It’s time to let go a little.  Being more confident in life partly means being OK with not knowing what’s going to happen, so you can relax and allow things to play out naturally.  Relaxing with “not knowing” is the key to confidence in relationships and peace in life.

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.  I have nothing to prove.  And as long as I’m not hurting people, I need not worry what they think of me.”

6.  Embrace and enjoy your individuality.
Constantly seeking approval means we’re perpetually worried that others are forming negative judgments of us.  This steals the fun, ingenuity, and spontaneity from our lives.  Flip the switch on this habit.  If you’re lucky enough to have something that makes you different from everybody else, don’t be ashamed and don’t change.  Uniqueness is priceless.  In this crazy world that’s trying to make you like everyone else, find the courage to keep being your remarkable self.  And if they laugh at you for being different, laugh back at them for being the same.

It takes a lot of courage to stand alone, but it’s worth it.  Being unapologetically YOU is worth it!  Your real friends in life will reveal themselves slowly – they’re the ones who truly know you and love you just the same.  Bottom line: Don’t change so people will like you; be yourself and the right people will love the real you. 

7.  Use rejection as a priceless growth opportunity.
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 relationships and opportunities that aren’t going to work, so you can quickly find new ones that will.  It doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough; it just means someone else failed to notice what you have to offer.  Which means you now have more time to improve yourself and explore your options.

“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 awareness of rejection.  For a short time afterwards you will ask yourself every question you can think of…

What did I do wrong?
Why didn’t they like me?
How come?
Etc.
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 story.

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 – especially the opinions of others.  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 into your strongest, smartest self.

35
1.  Do the work… practice, practice, practice your craft!
Sure you can be good with a little effort.  You can be really good with a little more effort.  But you can’t be great, at anything, unless you put in an incredible amount of focused effort for a set amount of time every day.  It’s as simple as that.  Scratch the surface of any successful person with incredible skills and you’ll find someone who has put thousands of hours of effort into developing those skills.  There are no shortcuts in life.  There are no overnight successes.  Almost everyone has heard about the 10,000 hours principle, which states that it takes roughly 10,000 hours to completely master a complex skill, yet despite sound evidence, so few follow it… except extremely successful people of course.

Whatever you decide to do, do it well.  Do it so well that when others see you do it, they enjoy it so much that they want to come back and see you do it again… and they also want to bring their friends along so they can show them how incredible you are at doing what you do.

2.  Build trust by standing behind every one of your promises.
If you say you’re going to do something, DO IT!  If you say you’re going to be somewhere, BE THERE!  If you say you feel something, MEAN IT!  If you can’t, won’t, and don’t, then DON’T LIE.  It’s always better to tell people the truth up front.  Don’t play games with people’s heads and hearts.  Don’t tell half-truths and expect people to trust you when the full truth comes out; half-truths are no better than lies.

Regardless of the business you’re in – selling products to consumers, or selling hours for dollars – the only question you have to ask yourself is:  “Do they trust me enough to believe what I’m promising to deliver?”  Without this trust, you have zero, zilch, nada.  If your target market knows you and they’re still not buying what you’re offering, they simply don’t trust you as much as you would hope.  Earn their trust, and the rest of the puzzle pieces will be easy to arrange.

3.  Focus more on less.
Having too many choices interferes with decision-making.  Here in the 21st century, where information moves at the speed of light and opportunities for innovation seem endless, we have an abundant array of choices when it comes to designing our lives and careers.  But sadly, an abundance of choice often leads to indecision, confusion, and inaction.

Several business and marketing studies have shown that the more product choices a consumer is faced with, the less products they typically buy.  After all, narrowing down the best product from a pool of three choices is certainly a lot easier than narrowing down the best product from a pool of three hundred.  If the purchasing decision is tough to make, most people will just give up.

So if you’re selling a product line, keep it simple.  And if you’re trying to make a decision about something in your life, don’t waste all your time evaluating every last detail of every possible option.  Choose something you think will work and give it a shot.  If it doesn’t work out, choose something else and keep pressing forward.  Focus more on less, and do your very best.

4.  Only use quality tools.
While we’re on the topic of focusing more on less, make sure the only tools you’re using are the only ones you truly need.  There’s no point in keeping low quality tools around.  For instance, trying to cut through a thick piece of fresh lumber with an old, dull handsaw would be a pretty foolish endeavor.  You would have to work extremely hard to make the even the slightest impact.  This very same principle applies to everything in life.

Don’t let inefficiency defeat you.  If the tools in your toolbox don’t fit the requirements of the job, find someone who has the right tools and barter with them, hire them, invite them into the process of what you’re trying to achieve.  Possessing the right tools (and skills) can easily shrink a mountainous task into a miniscule molehill.  With a good idea, determination, and the right tools, almost anything is possible.

5.  Spend quality time with quality people.
You are the average of the people you spend the most time with.  And that’s why it’s not always where you are in life, but who you have by your side that matters most.  Some people drain you and others provide soul food.  So be sure to get in the company of those who feed your spirit, and give the gift of your absence to those who do not appreciate your presence.  There’s no need to rush into a relationship you are unsure of, or socialize with those who hold you back.

Spend more time with nice people who are smart, driven and open-minded about personal growth and opportunity.  Use websites like meetup.com to search for local community groups of people with similar passions and goals.  These people are out there.

The bottom line is that relationships should help you, not hurt you.  Surround yourself with people who reflect the person you want to be.  Choose friends who you are proud to know, people you admire, people who care about you and respect you – people who make your day a little brighter simply by being in it.  Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the energy and hope out of you. 

6.  Study, rehearse, and get super comfortable with the art of selling.
About a year ago Marc and I interviewed ten extremely successful business owners and CEOs for a side-project we were working on.  We asked them to name the one skill they felt contributed the most to their success.  Every one of them, in their own words, said: the ability to sell themselves, their ideas, and what they had to offer.

Keep in mind “selling” in its truest sense isn’t an act of manipulating, pressuring, or being deceitful.  Selling is explaining the logic and benefits of a decision or point of view.  Selling is convincing other people to work directly with YOU.  Selling is overcoming concerns and roadblocks, and calming other people’s unwarranted fears.  Selling is one of the principal foundations of both business and personal success.  It’s about knowing how to negotiate, how to deal with a  “no” when you receive one, how to maintain confidence and self-esteem in the face of rejection, and how to communicate openly, honestly, and effectively with a wide range of people so that you can build long-term relationships that garner long-term trust.

When you truly believe in your idea, or your business, or yourself, then you don’t need to have an enormous ego or an overly extroverted personality.  You don’t need to “sell” in the traditional sense.  You just need to communicate your point of view clearly, cordially, and confidently.

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1.  Your God-given truth.
There will always be people who refuse to respect you – the way you look, the way you talk, the things you say, the styles you enjoy, your beliefs, your interests, your loves, etc.  In other words, they won’t support you in being true to yourself.  The good news is, it’s up to you if you want to let them mess with your character, or if you would rather stand up for yourself and accept yourself just the way you are.  I beg you to choose the latter.

Do your best to be as good as you can be, and if that’s not enough for someone, it surely will be for someone else.  You are not here to please everyone, and you are certainly not here to please them at the expense of your own truth.  So care less about what they say and smile more about what you know is true.  Live your life and be happy with yourself, without their judgments.

2.  Responsibility for your own life.
Sigmund Freud once said, “Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.”  Don’t let this be you.  When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility – you surrender power over that part of your life.

Make no mistake, in the end, the price of happiness IS responsibility.  As soon as you stop making everyone and everything else responsible for your happiness, the happier you’ll be.  If you’re unhappy now, it’s not someone else’s fault.

Ultimately, your happiness depends on your self-reliance – your unshakable willingness to take responsibility for your life from this moment forward, regardless of who had a hand in making it the way it is now.  It’s about taking control of your present circumstances, finding your true self by thinking for yourself, and making a firm choice to live YOUR way.  It’s about being the hero of your life, not the victim.

3.  Love that comes naturally to you.
When you love openly and honestly, you always strive to become better than you are.  When you strive to become better than you are, everything around you becomes better too.  There is never a perfect time or place for love like this either.  It happens naturally and accidentally, in a heartbeat, in a single flashing, fluttering instant in time.

As Robert Frost once said, “We love the things we love for what they are.”  And this is precisely what gives life it’s magic.  Where there is true love, there is true life.

Don’t let anything stop you from loving.  Don’t let anything stop you from living.

4.  Your curiosity.
Joy comes easy to us in our youth because we haven’t become set too firmly in our ways.  Our willingness to curiously assess new situations and varying perspectives allows us to experience flashes of insight and beauty wherever we go.  Those of us who fight the draw of our comfort zones as we age, who sustain our curiosity into our later years, learn a lot more and experience far more happiness in the long run.

Curiosity, after all, is the foundation of lifelong growth.  It allows us to retain a beginner’s mind even as our wisdom expands.  In this way, an enduring curiosity permits our hearts and minds to grow younger, not older every day.

So always remain curious and teachable.  Keep an open mind and do not stop questioning and learning.  Look forward, open new doors and experience new things.  Do so because you’re curious, and because you know that today’s journey is always just beginning.

5.  Your ability to make progress.
Happiness isn’t possession.  It’s progress.  It’s seeing your efforts create outcomes.

So don’t let the fantasy of an easy life imprison you.  Short-term discomfort and failure are two of the surest stepping-stones to long-term happiness and success.  Find the strength to keep going, even when the going gets tough.  Good things don’t come to those who wait.  Good things come to those who are patient… while working hard for what they want most in life.

Remember, every day you may make progress – every step may be rewarding – and yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path.  You know you will never get to a place where there is nothing left to experience and learn.  But this, in a surprising way, only adds to the joy and glory of your journey. 

6.  Meaningful dreams and goals.
If you’re bored with life – if you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things – you haven’t set the right goals, and you aren’t doing enough with your dreams.  You’re on the wrong path to happiness.

Every morning you have the same two choices:

Continue to sleep with your dreams.
Wake up and do something that brings them to reality.
When a dream matters enough to a person, that person will find a way to achieve what at first seemed impossible.  You know this is true.  You know what you need to do.  Do it.  Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Put in the effort and live the life you’ve imagined.  The only thing that can truly stop you, is YOU.

7.  Your patience.
Patience does not mean waiting and doing nothing.  Patience involves productive activity.  It means doing your very best with the resources available to you, while understanding that the results you seek are worth the required time and effort, and not available elsewhere for any less time and effort.

In other words, patience is the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard on the activities and goals that bring you happiness.

Ultimately, the two hardest tests on the road to personal growth are the patience to wait for what you want and the courage not to be disappointed when it doesn’t arrive as soon as you had expected.  Patience can be bitter, but the seeds you plant now will bear sweet fruit.  And these fruits are worth waiting for.  There’s no point in hurrying through life and never tasting their sweetness.

8.  All your present contentment.
Sometimes we avoid experiencing exactly where we are because we have developed a belief, based on past experiences, that it is not where we should be or want to be.  But the truth is, where you are now is exactly where you need to be to get to where you want to go tomorrow.  So appreciate where you are.

Happiness is a mindset that can only be designed into the present.  It’s not a point in the future or a moment from the past; yet sadly, this misconception hurts the masses.  So many young people seem to think all their happiness awaits them in the years ahead, while so many older people believe their best moments are behind them.

Don’t let the past, or the future, steal your present contentment.  Stop over-thinking and worrying about every other time and place, every waking minute.  Worry and rumination are the worst enemies to living happily in the present.  Do what you need to do now, and value the process of doing so.  Pay attention.  Experience it.  Life is too short for anything less.

9.  Good times shared with good friends.
Although happiness is a journey that requires effort and progress, it must also be shared.  If you attempt to do it all alone, you will not succeed as a human being.  Your heart will wither if it does not occasionally answer another heart.  Your mind will shrink away if it hears only the echoes of your own thoughts, and finds no other inspiration or relevant conversation.

Any bit of happiness unshared can scarcely be called happiness in the long run; it lacks substance and taste.  So whatever it is that makes you happy, do it and share it.  Don’t hide it and hoard it.

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Common Forum/Request/Suggestions / Self-forgiveness tips:
« on: September 24, 2014, 05:43:04 PM »
Self-forgiveness tips:

Pick an area of your life you would like to work on.  It could be failed relationships, family problems, or business mistakes.
Make a list of all of the people you might have hurt along the way.  This is the toughest part because we tend to bury some of these stressful memories.  So be honest with yourself and take your time.
After you’ve compiled your list, systematically go through each person on the list.  Think about the situation, validate the circumstances, and forgive yourself for hurting them.   As odd as it may feel, apologize aloud to yourself, “I forgive myself for hurting this person,” and take a deep breath.  Once you’ve completed this practice you’ll instantly feel a slight sense of relief.
Remember, the simple act of acknowledging your mistakes is always half the battle.

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1. Stop expecting them to agree with you.
You deserve to be happy.  You deserve to live a life you are excited about.  Don’t let the opinions of others make you forget that.  You are not in this world to live up to the expectations of others, nor should you feel that others are here to live up to yours.  In fact, the more you approve of your own decisions in life, the less approval you need from everyone else.

You have to dare to be yourself, and follow you own intuition, however frightening or strange that may feel or prove to be.  Don’t compare yourself to others.  Don’t get discouraged by their progress or success.  Follow your own path and stay true to your own purpose.  Success is ultimately about spending your life happily in your own way.

2.  Stop expecting them to respect you more than you respect yourself.
True strength is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles.  It’s about having faith and trust in who you are, and a willingness to act upon it.  Decide this minute to never again beg anyone for the love, respect, and attention that you should be showing yourself.

Today, look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I love you, and from now on I’m going to act like it.”  It’s important to be nice to others, but it’s even more important to be nice to yourself.  When you practice self-love and self-respect, you give yourself the opportunity to be happy.  When you are happy, you become a better friend, a better family member, and a better YOU.

3.  Stop expecting (and needing) them to like you.
You might feel unwanted and unworthy to one person, but you are priceless to another.  Don’t ever forget your worth.  Spend time with those who value you.  No matter how good you are to people, there will always be one negative person who criticizes you.  Smile, ignore them, and carry on.

In this crazy world that’s trying to make you like everyone else, the toughest battle you’ll ever have to fight is the battle to be yourself.  And as you’re fighting back, not everyone will like you.  Sometimes people will call you names because you’re “different.”  But that’s perfectly OK.  The things that make you different are the things that make YOU, and the right people will love you for it.

4.  Stop expecting them to fit your idea of who they are.
Loving and respecting others means allowing them to be themselves.  When you stop expecting people to be a certain way, you can begin to appreciate THEM.

Pay close attention, and respect people for who they are and not for who you want them to be.  We don’t know most people half as well as we believe we do; and truly knowing someone is a big part of what makes them wonderful.  Every human being is remarkable and beautiful; it just takes a patient set of eyes to see it.  The more you get to know someone, the more you will be able to look beyond their appearance and see the beauty of who they truly are. 

5.  Stop expecting them to know what you’re thinking.
People can’t read minds.  They will never know how you feel unless you tell them.  Your boss?  Yeah, he doesn’t know you’re hoping for a promotion because you haven’t told him yet.  That cute guy you haven’t talked to because you’re too shy?  Yeah, you guessed it, he hasn’t given you the time of day simply because you haven’t given him the time of day either.

In life, you have to communicate with others regularly and effectively.  And often, you have to open your vocal cords and speak the first words.  You have to tell people what you’re thinking.  It’s as simple as that.

6.  Stop expecting them to suddenly change.
If there’s a specific behavior someone you care about has that you’re hoping disappears over time, it probably won’t.  If you really need them to change something, be honest and put all the cards on the table so this person knows how you feel and what you need them to do.

For the most part though, you can’t change people and you shouldn’t try.  Either you accept who they are or you choose to live without them.  It’s might sound harsh, but it’s not.  When you try to change people, they often remain the same, but when you don’t try to change them – when you support them and allow them the freedom to be as they are – they gradually change in the most beautiful way.  Because what really changes is the way you see them. 

7.  Stop expecting them to be “OK.”
Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle, just like you.  Every smile or sign of strength hides an inner struggle every bit as complex and extraordinary as your own.

Remember that embracing your light doesn’t mean ignoring your dark.  We are measured by our ability to overcome adversities and insecurities, not avoid them.  Supporting, sharing and making contributions to other people is one of life’s greatest rewards.  This happens naturally if we allow it, because we all share very similar dreams, needs and struggles.  Once we accept this, the world then is a place where we can look someone else in the eye and say, “I’m lost and struggling at the moment,” and they can nod and say, “Me too,” and that’s OK.  Because not being “OK” all the time, is perfectly OK.

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1.  No games are being played.
Far too often, we make our relationships harder than they have to be.  The difficulties started when… conversations became texting, feelings became subliminal, sex became a game, the word “love” fell out of context, trust faded as honesty waned, insecurities became a way of living, jealously became a habit, being hurt started to feel natural, and running away from it all became our solution.  Stop running!  Face these issues, fix the problems, communicate, appreciate, forgive and LOVE the people in your life who deserve it.

And of course, if you feel like someone is playing games with you, speak up.

2.  Everyone is on the same page.
If a woman starts out all casual with a man and she doesn’t tell him that she wants a committed relationship, it will likely never become a committed relationship.  If you give someone the impression that casual, or whatever, is okay with you, that’s what will be assumed going forward.  The bottom line is that you have to be straight from the start, or at least as soon as you know what you want.  Don’t beat around the bush.  If someone gets scared and runs away because you were honest and set boundaries, that person wasn’t right for you anyway.

3.  The line of communication is open, honest, and clear.
You can’t be afraid to have certain conversations.  It’s better to talk and find out the truth, than to keep going and get nowhere.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.  Don’t expect the important people in your life to read your mind, and don’t play foolish games with their heads and hearts.  Don’t tell half-truths and expect them to trust you when the full truth comes out – half-truths are no better than lies.

Listen without defending and speak without offending.  Communication isn’t just an important part of a relationship, it is the relationship.  Relationships often fail because of trust issues, commitment issues, and above all, communication issues.  So be honest, commit, and COMMUNICATE always.

4.  Loving deeds consistently reinforce loving words.
Nurture your important relationships so that when you tell the people you love that you love them, it’s merely a ritualistic validation of what you have already shown them by how you treat them on a daily basis.  Do little things every day to show your loved ones you care.  Knowing that the person you’re thinking of has you on their mind too means a lot.

Truth be told, you can say “sorry” a thousand times, or say “I love you” as much as you want, but if you’re not going to prove that the things you say are true, they aren’t.  If you can’t show it, your words are not sincere.  It’s as simple as that.  And there’s no such thing as a “right” relationship that isn’t sincere at both ends.

5.  Expectations of perfection are strictly forbidden.
Any relationship that’s real will not be perfect, but if you’re willing to work at it and open up, it could be everything you’ve ever dreamed of.

Your best friends and your soul mate may be far from perfect, but they are a perfect fit for you.  Give them a chance to show you.  When you stop expecting the people you love to be a certain way, you can start to enjoy and appreciate them for who they are.  What you need to remember is that every relationship has its problems, but what makes it perfect in the end is when you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, even when times are tough.

6.  Honesty, vulnerability, and presence are held sacred.
Although it may sound risky, the strongest type of love is the love that makes you the most vulnerable.  It’s about daring to reveal yourself honestly, and daring to be open and fully disclosed over the long-term.  It’s about sticking by each other’s side through thick and thin, and truly being there in the flesh and spirit when you’re needed most.

So open yourself up.  BE with the person you love.  Allow yourself to experience them authentically.  Tear down any emotional brick walls you have built around yourself and feel every exquisite emotion, both good and bad.  This is real life.  This is how you welcome a sincere connection with another human being. 

7.  There is a healthy blend of freedom and teamwork.
Keep in mind that we can’t force anyone to be with us or love us.  We shouldn’t beg someone to stay when they want to leave.  And likewise, we should never feel trapped in a relationship.  In fact, if either person feels trapped, the relationship doesn’t really exist.  Because that’s what relationships are all about: freedom.

Relationships are also built on a solid foundation of teamwork.  And since relationships are one of the greatest vehicles of personal growth and happiness, the most important trip you will ever take in life is meeting someone else halfway.  You will achieve far more by working with them, rather than working alone or against them.  It really is a full circle.  The strength of a relationship depends on the strength of its two members, and the strength of each member in the long run depends on the quality of the relationship.

And remember, relationships are rarely 50/50 at any given instant in time.  You can’t always feel 100%, or a full 50% of a relationship’s whole – life is simply too unpredictable for that.  So on the days when you can only give 20%, the other person must give 80%, and vice versa.  It’s never been about balancing steady in the middle; healthy relationships are about two people who are willing to make adjustments for each other in real time as needed, and give more when the other person can’t help but give a little less.

8.  Personal growth is embraced, celebrated, and shared.
It’s not about finding someone to lose yourself in, it’s about meeting someone to find yourself in.  When you connect with someone special, a best friend or a lifelong partner, this person helps you find the best in yourself.  In this way, neither of you actually meet the best in each other; you both grow into your best selves by spending time together and nurturing each other’s growth.

When you honestly think about what you and your closest confidants add to each other’s lives, you will often find that instead of giving or taking things from each other (advice, answers, material gifts, etc.), you have chosen rather to share in each other’s joy and pain, and experience life together through good times and bad.  No matter what, you two are there for one another, growing and learning as one. 

9.  Outsiders aren’t calling the shots.
Relationships don’t always make sense, especially from the outside.  So don’t let outsiders run your relationships for you.  If you’re having a relationship issue with someone, work it out with THEM and no one else.

You have to live your own life your own way; that’s all there is to it.  Each of us has a unique fire in our heart for certain people.  It’s your duty, and yours alone, to decide if a relationship is right for you.  You’ve got to stop caring so much about what everyone else wants for you, and start actually living and deciding for yourself.

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Choosing to do nothing. – 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.  Every day is a new chance to choose.  Choose to change your perspective.  Choose to flip the switch in your mind from negative to positive.  Choose to turn on the light and stop fretting about with insecurity and doubt.  Choose to do work that you are proud of.  Choose to see the best in others, and to show your best to others.  Choose to truly LIVE your life, right now.

The excuses you keep reciting to yourself. – Sooner or later you will come to realize that it’s not what you lose along the way that counts; it’s what you do with what you still have.  When you let go, forgive, and move on, you in no way change the past, you change the future. 

Avoiding the reality of the present. – You can’t change what you refuse to confront.  You can’t find peace by avoiding it.  Deal with problems before they deal with your happiness.  Don’t let a hard lesson harden your heart.  Remember, life’s best lessons are usually learned at the worst times and from the worst mistakes.  When you lose something, don’t think of it as a loss; accept it as a gift that will get you on the path you were meant to travel all along.  Thank your past for all the lessons, and move on.  Say it: “Dear past, thank you for the lessons and wisdom.  Dear future, I’m ready for you!”

Over-thinking and worrying about everything. – When your fears have you looking too deep into things, it creates problems, it doesn’t fix them.  If you think and you think and you think, you will think yourself right out of happiness a thousand times over, and never once into it.  Worrying doesn’t take away tomorrow’s troubles, it takes away today’s peace and potential.  Stop over-thinking everything.  Life is too short.

Who you once were in the past. – Find the balance that allows you to be who you truly are.  Your worst battle is between what you know and what you feel.  One of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make is when to stay put and try harder or when to just take your memories and move on.  Sometimes you have to step outside of the person you’ve been, and remember the person you were meant to be, the person you are capable of being, and the person you truly are.

Resistance to necessary growing pains. – Remember, we can’t become what we need to be by remaining exactly what we are.  Life is change, but growth is optional.  Choose wisely.  When we lose ourselves in the things we love, we find ourselves there too.  So if you are passionate about something, pursue it.  Stretch yourself.  You will know you’re on the right track in life when you become completely uninterested in looking back, and eager to take the next step.

Doubting your own faith and courage. – You can be comfortable or courageous, but you cannot be both.  By taking a leap of faith, you find out who you are truly capable of becoming.  Faith sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible; it’s about believing when it’s beyond the power of reason to believe.  And courage is being scared to death, and then taking the next step anyway.  May you always find the faith and courage to do what you are afraid to do.

Thinking you don’t have what it takes. – Nobody is going to blindside you and hit you as hard as life will.  Sometimes life will beat you to the ground, and keep you there if you let it.  But it’s not about how hard life can hit you; it’s about how hard you can be hit while continuing to move forward.  That’s what true strength is.  And that’s what winning the game of life is all about.

Overlooking everything that’s wonderful. – Do your best and surrender the rest.  When you stay stuck in regret of the life you think you should have had, you end up missing the beauty of what you do have.  You will have a hard time ever being happy if you aren’t thankful for the good things in your life right now.

Pessimism and negative self-talk. – Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction.  Break this negative habit.  Talk about your joys, your loves, and your dreams instead.  What you see in life often depends entirely on what you’re looking for.  In the end, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.  It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.  It’s not what you see, it’s how you look at it.  It’s not how your life is, it’s how you live it.

Excessive pride. – Get out of your own way.  Stop judging everyone and everything.  Pride is one of the greatest enemies to your happiness and growth.  Open your mind before you open your mouth.  Don’t hate what you don’t know.  The mind is like a parachute; it doesn’t work when it’s closed.  Or as C.S. Lewis so profoundly put it, “A proud person is always looking down on things and other people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something beautiful that is above you.”

Not giving the people around you a chance. – Life is a tapestry of people weaving in and out of your life, people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.  Everyone has something to offer and share with you.  Imagine treating every person you encounter, no matter how fleeting, as an intriguing story waiting to be told. But the story can only be told if someone asks to hear it.  Will you ask?  That person you see standing before you, no matter who they are, young or old, rich or poor, angry or kind, is like a blockbuster movie ready to enthrall you. But, first you have to buy a ticket.

Comparing yourself to everyone else. – Sometimes the reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes circumstances with everyone else’s public highlight reel.  Give it up.  Don’t compare your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 15.  Follow your own path, write your own life story, and never give up on yourself.  Remember this:  Happiness formula = Do YOUR best and feel good about it. | Unhappiness formula = Compare yourself to everyone else. 

Letting the judgments of others control your life. – People know your name, not your story.  They’ve heard what you’ve done, but not what you’ve been through.  So take their opinions of you with a grain of salt.  In the end, it’s not what others think, it’s what you think about yourself that counts.  Sometimes you have to do exactly what’s best for you and your life, not what’s best for everyone else.

Procrastinating and senselessly wasting time. – Remember, you are the customer of a bank called Time.  Every morning it credits you with 86,400 seconds.  Every night it writes off, as a loss, whatever remainder you have failed to invest to good purpose.  It carries over no balance.  It allows no overdraft.  Each day it opens a new account for you with the same deposit of 86,400 seconds.  Each night it burns the remains of the day.  If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours.  There is no going back.  There is no drawing against the tomorrow.  You must live in the present on today’s deposits only.  Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness, and success.  You’re making withdrawals right this second; make them count.

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What other people say about me is their problem, not mine. – Don’t take other people’s negativity personally.  Most negative people behave negatively not just to you, but to everyone they interact with.  What they say and do is a projection of their own reality.  Even when a situation seems personal – even if someone insults you directly – it oftentimes has nothing to do with you.  What others say and do, and the opinions they have, are based entirely on their own self-reflection.

I am free to be ME. – Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?  Happiness is found when you stop comparing yourself to everyone else and what they want.  Stop living for other people and their opinions.  Be true to yourself.  You are the only person in charge of your life.  The only question is: What do you want to do with the rest of it?

Life isn’t perfect, but it sure is great. – Our goal shouldn’t be to create a perfect life, but to live an imperfect life in radical amazement.  To get up every morning and take and good look around in a way that takes nothing for granted.  Everything is extraordinary.  Every day is a gift.  Never treat life casually.  To be spiritual in any way is to be amazed in every way. 

It’s okay to have down days. – Expecting life to be wonderful all the time is wanting to swim in an ocean in which waves only rise up and never come crashing down.  However, when you recognize that the rising and crashing waves are part of the exact same ocean, you are able to let go and be at peace with the reality of these ups and downs.  It becomes clear that life’s ups require life’s downs.

Even when I’m struggling, I have so much to be grateful for. – What if you awoke today with only the things you were thankful for yesterday?  We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but of appreciating everything we do have.  Stress thrives when your worry list is longer than your gratitude list.  Happiness thrives when your gratitude list is longer than your worry list.  So find something to be thankful for right now.

Every experience is just another important lesson. – Disappointments and failure are two of the surest stepping-stones to success.  So don’t let a hard lesson harden your heart.  When things go wrong, learn what you can and then push the tragedies and mistakes aside.  Remember, life’s best lessons are often learned at the worst times and from the worst mistakes.  We must fail in order to know, and hurt in order to grow.  Good things often fall apart so better things can fall together in their place.

Not everything is meant to stay. – Change can be terrifying, yet all positive growth and healing requires change.  Sometimes you have to find the good in goodbye.  Because the past is a place of reference, not a place of residence.  Be strong when everything seems to be going wrong, keep taking small steps, and eventually you will find what you’re looking for.  Learn to trust the journey, even when you do not understand it.

Being wrong is the first step to being right. – Sometimes the wrong choices bring us to the right places.  To be creative and productive in life, you must first lose your fear of being wrong.  And remember, a fear like this can only survive inside you if you let it live there.

I do not need to hold on to what’s holding me back. – You are not what has happened to you; you are what you choose to become.  It’s time to break the beliefs and routines that have been holding you back.  Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer grows you.  Listen to your intuition, not your ego.  When you stop chasing the wrong beliefs, you give the right ideas a chance to catch you. 

My happiness today is simply the result of my thinking. – Happiness starts with you – not with your relationships, not with your job, not with your money, but WITH YOU.  It is not always easy to find happiness in ourselves, but it is always impossible to find it elsewhere.  Regardless of the situation you face, your attitude is your choice.  Remember, you can’t have a positive life with a negative attitude.  When negativity controls your thoughts, it limits your behavior, actions, and opportunities.  If you realized how powerful your thoughts were, you would try your best to never think another negative thought again.

Who I spend quality time with matters. – Surround yourself with people who lift you higher – those who see the great potential in you, even when you don’t see it in yourself.

Drama and judgments are a waste of perfect happiness. – Make a promise to yourself.  Promise to stop the drama before it begins, to breathe deeply and peacefully, and to love others and yourself without conditions.  Promise to laugh at your own mistakes, and to realize that no one is perfect; we are all human.  Feelings of self-worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible.

Most people are judging me far less than it seems. – The truth is, while you’re busy worrying about what others think of you, they’re busy worrying about what you think of them.  Crazy?  Yes, but true.  The good news is this knowledge instantly frees you to let loose and do more of what YOU want.  And while doing so, you’ll also liberate others to do the same.

I can make the world a happier place. – Do your best to help one person every day in some small way.  By becoming the answer to someone’s prayer, we often find the answers to our own.  When the people around us are happier, it’s a lot easier to smile.

The work is worth it. – Lose the expectation that everything in life should be easy.  It rarely is.  In fact, there are no shortcuts to any place worth going.  Enjoy the challenge of your achievements.  See the value in your efforts and be patient with yourself.  And realize that patience is not about waiting; it’s the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard on your dreams.  It’s knowing deep down that the work is well worth it in the end.

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1.  Your imperfect magnificence.
It’s not hard to find someone who tells you they love you; it’s hard to find someone who actually means it.  But you will find them eventually, so don’t rush love, and don’t settle.  Find someone who isn’t afraid to admit they miss you.  Someone who knows you’re not perfect, but appreciates you as you are.  One who gives their heart completely.  Someone who says, “I love you” and then proves it day in and day out.  Find someone who wouldn’t mind waking up with you in the morning, seeing your wrinkles and grey hair, and then falls in love with you all over again.

Remember, to the people who truly love you, you are magnificent already.  This is not because they’re blind to your shortcomings, but because they so vividly see the beauty of your soul.  Your shortcomings then dim by comparison.  The people who care about you are willing to let you be imperfect and magnificent, at the same time.

2.  The right to decide for yourself.
Don’t put the only keys to your growth and happiness in someone else’s pocket.  Relationships are not about authority and obedience; they’re agreements of love and respect.  You simply can’t live your entire life through someone else’s fantasies.  There must be compromise and the space to do what’s right for you, even if someone you care about disagrees.  Give, but don’t allow yourself to be used.  Listen to loved ones, but don’t lose track of your inner voice in the process.

Never apologize for what you feel and what you don’t feel; that’s a betrayal of your truth.  No matter how much advice people give you, sometimes you have to feel things out for yourself, make decisions on your own, experience things firsthand, and build your own conclusions from the ground up the old fashion way. 

3.  Your innate human need to be understood.
There’s honestly nothing more intimate than simply being understood and understanding someone else in return.  Even when there are disagreements, every healthy relationship contains this mutual understanding – a loving space filled with listening and compromise.

So remember to listen without defending, and speak without offending.  Communication isn’t just an important part of a relationship, it is the relationship.  And really, there’s only one rule for being a good communicator: the willingness to hear others.  Because we do not always need a busy mind that speaks, just a patient heart that listens.

4.  The freedom to love.
Love is the creative force of the universe.  It is as important to life as oxygen is to breathing.  When it is present in our lives we feel happier, more optimistic and fulfilled.  Without it, we become angry, cynical, resentful people, critical of ourselves and others, effectively squashing the greatness that exists in us, and diminishing our own light.

Open your heart and let love out.  Love people.  Love experiences.  Love yourself.  And let go of those who try to stop you.

5.  The courage and willingness to experiment with life.
To live a great life, you must lose your fear of being wrong.  Remember that doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing.  Even when things don’t work out, they do.  Because in the end, experience is what you get when you didn’t get exactly what you wanted, and experience is often the most valuable thing you have to give.

So don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions.  Don’t let someone scare you out of failing forward.  All of life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make the better.  Either you will succeed or you will learn the next best step.  Win-win.

6.  Your joy.
Never let anyone or anything get in the way of your joy.  Live a life that sizzles and pops and makes you laugh out loud every day.  Because you don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that your life is a collection of meetings and “someday’s” and errands and receipts and empty promises.

So go ahead and sing out loud in the car with the windows down, and dance in your living room, and stay up all night laughing, and paint your walls any color you want, and enjoy some port wine and chocolate cake.  Yes, and go ahead and sleep in on clean white sheets, and throw parties, and paint, and write poetry, and read books so good they make you lose track of time.  And just keep living and laughing and making God glad that he gave life to someone who loves and cherishes the gift.

7.  Other important relationships, including the one you have with yourself.
If a relationship is closing you off from the world, it’s time to break free.  It’s time to choose love over deception.  After all, that’s what love is all about – freedom.

So don’t blame love if a broken relationship is interfering with your other important relationships, or robbing you of your self-esteem and personal freedoms.  No, don’t blame love.  For it isn’t love that’s stealing from you.  It’s possession.  It’s obsession.  It’s manipulation.  It’s confusion.  Love has nothing to do with your situation.  For love doesn’t close the door on happiness and liberty.  It opens it wide to let more in.

Likewise, if someone expects you to be someone you’re not, take a step back.  It’s wiser to lose relationships over being who you are, than to keep them intact by pretending to be someone else.  It’s easier to nurse a little heartache and meet someone new, than it is to piece together your own shattered identity.  It’s easier to fill an empty space within your life where someone else used to be, than it is to fill the empty space within yourself where YOU used to be. 

8.  Your inner peace and composure.
No matter what you do or how amazing you are, throughout your lifetime some people will still upset you, disrespect you, and treat you poorly.  Let them be; let karma deal with the cruel things they have done.  Hatred and negativity filling your heart and mind will only consume you and your potential.  You will begin to heal and grow emotionally when you let go of these past hurts, excuse the people who have wronged you, and forgive yourself for your misjudgments.

Bottom line:  Learning to ignore certain people and situations is one of the great paths to inner peace.  So let GO when you must.  Let them be, so you can be at peace.

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Common Forum/Request/Suggestions / Habits You Must Quit to Be Happy
« on: September 23, 2014, 07:50:38 PM »
1. Quit procrastinating on your goals.
Some people dream of success while others wake up and work hard at it.  Action and change are often resisted when they’re needed most.  Get a hold of yourself and have discipline.  Putting something off instantly makes it harder and scarier.  What we don’t start today won’t be finished by tomorrow.  And there’s nothing more stressful than the perpetual lingering of an unfinished task.

The secret to getting ahead is simply getting started.  Starting, all by itself, is usually sufficient to build enough momentum to keep the ball rolling.  So forget about the finish line and just concentrate on taking your first step.  Say to yourself, “I choose to start this task with a small, imperfect step.”  All those small steps will add up and you’ll actually get to see changes fairly quickly. 

2.  Quit blaming others and making excuses.
Stop blaming others for what you have or don’t have, or for what you feel or don’t feel.  When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility and perpetuate the problem.  Stop giving your power away and start taking responsibility for your life.  Blaming is just another sorry excuse, and making excuses is the first step towards failure; you and only you are responsible for your life choices and decisions.

3.  Quit trying to avoid change.
If nothing ever changed there would be no sunrise the next morning.  Most of us are comfortable where we are even though the whole universe is constantly changing around us.  Learning to accept this is vital to our happiness and general success.  Because only when we change, do we grow, and begin to see a world we never knew was possible.

And don’t forget, however good or bad a situation is now, it will change.  That’s the one thing you can count on.  So embrace it, and realize that change happens for a reason.  It won’t always be easy or obvious at first, but in the end it will be worth it.

4.  Quit trying to control the uncontrollable.
If you try to control everything, and then worry about the things you can’t control, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of frustration and misery.

Some forces are out of your control, but you can control how you react to things.  Everyone’s life has positive and negative aspects – whether you’re happy or not depends greatly on which aspects you focus on.  The best thing you can do is to let go of what you can’t control, and invest your energy in the things you can – like your attitude.

5.  Quit talking down to yourself.
Nothing will bring you down quicker than berating yourself.  The mind is a superb instrument if used right, but when used incorrectly, it becomes very destructive.  Be aware of your mental self-talk.  We all talk silently to ourselves in our heads, but we aren’t always conscious of what we’re saying or how it’s affecting us.

As Henry Ford once stated, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”  One of the major causes of why we fail is due to self-doubt and negative self-talk.  The way to overcome negative thoughts and destructive emotions is to develop opposing, positive emotions that are stronger and more powerful.  Listen to your self-talk and replace negative thoughts with positive ones, over time you will change the trajectory of your life. 

6.  Quit criticizing others.
The negativity you bleed out toward others will gradually cripple your own happiness.  When you truly feel comfortable with your own imperfections, you won’t feel threatened or offended by the imperfections you see in other people.

So stop worrying about the flaws you see in everyone else, and focus on yourself.  Let the constant growth and improvement in your own life keep you so busy that you have no time left to criticize others.

7.  Quit running from your problems and fears.
Trust me, if everyone threw their problems in a pile for you to see, you would grab yours back.  Tackle your problems and fears swiftly, don’t run away from them.  The best solution is to face them head on no matter how powerful they may seem.

Fears, in particularly, stop you from taking chances and making decisions.  They keep you confined to just the small space where you feel completely comfortable.  But your life’s story is simply the culmination of many small, unique experiences, many of which require you to stretch your comfort zone.  Letting your fears and worries control you is not ‘living,’ it’s merely existing.

Bottom line:  Either you own your problems and fears, or they will ultimately own you.

8.  Quit living in another time and place.
Some people spend their entire lives trying to live in another time and place.  They lament about what has been, what they could have done, or what might become.  However, the past is gone, and the future doesn’t exist.  No matter how much time we spend thinking and lamenting about either, it doesn’t change anything.

One of life’s sharpest paradoxes is that our brightest future hinges on our ability to pay attention to what we’re doing right now, today.

We need to live more in the moment.  Living in the moment requires active, open, intentional awareness on the present.  Don’t fantasize about being on vacation while at work, and don’t worry about the work piling up on your desk when you’re on vacation.  Live for now.  Notice the beauty unfolding around you.

9.  Quit trying to be someone you’re not.
One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else.  Someone will always be prettier, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be younger, but they will never be you.  Don’t change so people will like you.  Be yourself and the right people will love you, and you’ll love yourself more too.

10.  Quit being ungrateful.
Not all the puzzle pieces of life will seem to fit together at first, but in time you’ll realize they do, perfectly.  So thank the things that didn’t work out, because they just made room for the things that will.  And thank the ones who walked away from you, because they just made room for the ones who won’t.

No matter how good or bad you have it, wake up each day thankful for your life.  Someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs.  Instead of thinking about what you’re missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.

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Common Forum/Request/Suggestions / Things Happy People Do Differently
« on: September 23, 2014, 07:49:13 PM »
Express gratitude. – When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value.  Kinda cool right?  So basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness.  And that’s without having to go out and buy anything.  It makes sense.  We’re gonna have a hard time ever being happy if we aren’t thankful for what we already have.

Cultivate optimism. – Winners have the ability to manufacture their own optimism.  No matter what the situation, the successful diva is the chick who will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on it.  She knows failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life.  People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times.

Avoid over-thinking and social comparison. – Comparing yourself to someone else can be poisonous.  If we’re somehow ‘better’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, it gives us an unhealthy sense of superiority.  Our ego inflates – KABOOM – our inner Kanye West comes out!  If we’re ‘worse’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, we usually discredit the hard work that we’ve done and dismiss all the progress that we’ve made.  What I’ve found is that the majority of the time this type of social comparison doesn’t stem from a healthy place.  If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself.

Practice acts of kindness. – Performing an act of kindness releases serotonin in your brain.  (Serotonin is a substance that has TREMENDOUS health benefits, including making us feel more blissful.)  Selflessly helping someone is a super powerful way to feel good inside.  What’s even cooler about this kindness kick is that not only will you feel better, but so will people watching the act of kindness.  How extraordinary is that?  Bystanders will be blessed with a release of serotonin just by watching what’s going on.  A side note is that the job of most anti-depressants is to release more serotonin.  Move over Pfizer, kindness is kicking ass and taking names.

Nurture social relationships. – The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships.  Did you know studies show that people’s mortality rates are DOUBLED when they’re lonely?  WHOA!  There’s a warm fuzzy feeling that comes from having an active circle of good friends who you can share your experiences with.  We feel connected and a part of something more meaningful than our lonesome existence.

Develop strategies for coping. – How you respond to the ‘craptastic’ moments is what shapes your character.  Sometimes crap happens – it’s inevitable.  Forrest Gump knows the deal.  It can be hard to come up with creative solutions in the moment when manure is making its way up toward the fan.  It helps to have healthy strategies for coping pre-rehearsed, on-call, and in your arsenal at your disposal.

Learn to forgive. – Harboring feelings of hatred is horrible for your well-being.  You see, your mind doesn’t know the difference between past and present emotion.  When you ‘hate’ someone, and you’re continuously thinking about it, those negative emotions are eating away at your immune system.  You put yourself in a state of suckerism (technical term) and it stays with you throughout your day.
Increase flow experiences. – Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still.  It’s when you’re so focused on what you’re doing that you become one with the task.  Action and awareness are merged.  You’re not hungry, sleepy, or emotional.  You’re just completely engaged in the activity that you’re doing.  Nothing is distracting you or competing for your focus.

Savor life’s joys. – Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy.  It’s easy in a world of wild stimuli and omnipresent movement to forget to embrace life’s enjoyable experiences.  When we neglect to appreciate, we rob the moment of its magic.  It’s the simple things in life that can be the most rewarding if we remember to fully experience them.

Commit to your goals. – Being wholeheartedly dedicated to doing something comes fully-equipped with an ineffable force.  Magical things start happening when we commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get somewhere.  When you’re fully committed to doing something, you have no choice but to do that thing.  Counter-intuitively, having no option – where you can’t change your mind – subconsciously makes humans happier because they know part of their purpose.

Practice spirituality. – When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us.  We surrender the silly idea that we are the mightiest thing ever.  It enables us to connect to the source of all creation and embrace a connectedness with everything that exists.  Some of the most accomplished people I know feel that they’re here doing work they’re “called to do.”

Take care of your body. – Taking care of your body is crucial to being the happiest person you can be.  If you don’t have your physical energy in good shape, then your mental energy (your focus), your emotional energy (your feelings), and your spiritual energy (your purpose) will all be negatively affected.  Did you know that studies conducted on people who were clinically depressed showed that consistent exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft?  Not only that, but here’s the double whammy… Six months later, the people who participated in exercise were less likely to relapse because they had a higher sense of self-accomplishment and self-worth.

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Common Forum/Request/Suggestions / Simple Truths Smart People Forget
« on: September 23, 2014, 07:47:56 PM »
#1 – Education and intelligence accomplish nothing without action.
It doesn’t matter if you have a genius IQ and a PhD in Quantum Physics, you can’t change anything or make any sort of real-world progress without taking action.  There’s a huge difference between knowing how to do something and actually doing it.  Knowledge and intelligence are both useless without action.  It’s as simple as that. 

#2 – Happiness and success are two different things.
I know an extremely savvy businesswoman who made almost a million dollars online last year. Every entrepreneur I know considers her to be wildly successful.  But guess what?  A few days ago, out of the blue, she told me that she’s depressed.  Why?  “I’m burnt out and lonely.  I just haven’t taken enough time for myself lately,” she said.  “Wow!” I thought.  “One of the most successful people I know isn’t happy.”

I also know a surfer who surfs almost all day, every day on the beach in front of our condo complex in San Diego.  He’s one of the most lighthearted, optimistic guys I’ve ever met – always smiling from ear to ear.  But he sleeps in a van he co-owns with another surfer and they both frequently panhandle tourists for money.  So while I can’t deny that this man seems happy, I wouldn’t classify his life as a success story.

“What will make me happy?” and “What will make me successful?” are two of the most important questions you can ask yourself.  But they are two different questions.

#3 – Everyone runs their own business.
No matter how you make a living or who you think you work for, you only work for one person, yourself.  The big question is:  What are you selling, and to whom?  Even when you have a full-time, salaried, ‘Corporate America’ position, you are still running your own business.  You are selling one unit of your existence (an hour of your life) at a set price (the associated fraction of your salary) to a customer (your employer).

So how can you simultaneously save your time and increase your profit?  The answer is slightly different for everyone.  But it’s an answer you should be seeking. 

#4 – Having too many choices interferes with decision making.
Here in the 21st century where information moves at the speed of light and opportunities for innovation seem endless, we have an abundant array of choices when it comes to designing our lives and careers.  But sadly, an abundance of choice often leads to indecision, confusion and inaction.

Several business and marketing studies have shown that the more product choices a consumer is faced with, the less products they typically buy.  After all, narrowing down the best product from a pool of three choices is certainly a lot easier than narrowing down the best product from a pool of three hundred choices.  If the purchasing decision is tough to make, most people will just give up.

So if you’re selling a product line, keep it simple.  And if you’re trying to make a decision about something in your life, don’t waste all your time evaluating every last detail of every possible option.  Choose something that you think will work and give it a shot.  If it doesn’t work out, choose something else and keep pressing forward.

#5 – All people possess dimensions of success and dimensions of failure.
This point is somewhat related to point #2 on happiness and success, but it stands strong on its own as well…

Trying to be perfect is a waste of time and energy.  Perfection is an illusion.

All people, even our idols, are multidimensional.  Powerful business men, polished musicians, bestselling authors, and even our own parents all have dimensions of success and dimensions of failure present in their lives.

Our successful dimensions usually encompass the things we spend the most time doing.  We are successful in these dimensions because of our prolonged commitment to them.  This is the part of our lives we want others to see – the successful part that holds our life’s work.  It’s the notion of putting our best foot forward. 

But behind whichever polished storyline we publically promote, there lies a multi-dimensional human being with a long list of unprofessed failures.  Sometimes this person is a bad husband or wife.  Sometimes this person laughs at the expense of others.  And sometimes this person merely takes their eyes off the road and rear-ends the car in front of them.

#6 – Every mistake you make is progress.
Mistakes teach you important lessons.  Every time you make one, you’re one step closer to your goal.  The only mistake that can truly hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too scared to make a mistake.

So don’t hesitate – don’t doubt yourself.  In life, it’s rarely about getting a chance; it’s about taking a chance.  You’ll never be 100% sure it will work, but you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work.  Most of the time you just have to go for it!

And no matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be.  Either you succeed or you learn something.  Win-Win.  Remember, if you never act, you will never know for sure, and you will be left standing in the same spot forever.

#7 – People can be great at doing things they don’t like to do.
Although I’m not suggesting that you choose a career or trade you dislike, I’ve heard way too many smart people say something like, “In order to be great at what you do, you have to like what you do.”  This just isn’t true.

A good friend of mine is a public accountant.  He has told me on numerous occasions that he dislikes his job – “that it bores him to death.”  But he frequently gets raises and promotions.  At the age of 28, out of nearly a thousand Jr. Accountants in his division, he’s one of only two who were promoted to be Sr. Accountants this past year.  Why?  Because even though he doesn’t like doing it, he’s good at what he does.

I could come up with dozens of other examples just like this, but I’ll spare you the details.  Just realize that if someone dedicates enough time and attention to perfecting a skill or trade, they can be insanely good at doing something they don’t like to do.

#8 – The problems we have with others are typically more about us.
Quite often, the problems we have with others – our spouse, parents, siblings, etc. – don’t really have much to do with them at all.  Because many of the problems we think we have with them we subconsciously created in our own mind.  Maybe they did something in the past that touched on one of our fears or insecurities.  Or maybe they didn’t do something that we expected them to do.  In either case, problems like these are not about the other person, they’re about us.

And that’s okay.  It simply means these little predicaments will be easier to solve.   We are, after all, in charge of our own decisions.  We get to decide whether we want to keep our head cluttered with events from the past, or instead open our minds to the positive realities unfolding in front of us.

All we need is the willingness to look at things a little differently – letting go of ‘what was’ and ‘what should have been,’ and instead focusing our energy on ‘what is’ and ‘what could be possible.’

#9 – Emotional decisions are rarely good decisions.
Decisions driven by heavy emotion are typically misguided reactions rather than educated judgments.  These reactions are the byproduct of minimal amounts of conscious thought and primarily based on momentary ‘feelings’ instead of mindful awareness.

The best advice here is simple:  Don’t let your emotions trump your intelligence.  Slow down and think things through before you make any life-changing decisions.

#10 – You will never feel 100% ready when an opportunity arises.
The number one thing I persistently see holding smart people back is their own reluctance to accept an opportunity simply because they don’t think they’re ready.  In other words, they believe they require additional knowledge, skill, experience, etc. before they can aptly partake in the opportunity.  Sadly, this is the kind of thinking that stifles personal growth.

The truth is nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises.  Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow emotionally and intellectually.  They force us to stretch ourselves and our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first.  And when we don’t feel comfortable, we don’t feel ready.

Just remember that significant moments of opportunity for personal growth and development will come and go throughout your lifetime.  If you are looking to make positive changes in your life you will need to embrace these moments of opportunity even though you will never feel 100% ready for them.

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