The-Beauty-of-SimplicityIt’s a common misconception that you need something in order to be happy. In fact, often the more things you have, the more unhappy you become. Things begin to take over your life and take up your time. When we have a lot of stuff, we often spend a lot of time organizing it and moving it around. This all sounds rather harmless until you realize the underlying problem, to afford more, you have to work more. It becomes somewhat of a vicious cycle that pulls people in without them realizing it.

It’s pretty easy to fall into the trap of trying to satisfy yourself with buying things. We are constantly pressured to buy things we really don’t need. We are also pressured to buy the same things at much higher prices because of it’s name brand. The name brand game slaps an erroneous price on a good that is far above what it’s worth or what it cost to make the item. When consumers buy into the name brand game, they are only usually fooling themselves that they are really getting a better product, especially when it comes to clothing and accessories.

Why is so much hype put into spending? The holidays are big money makers for the retail industry and they can’t wait to play that Christmas music in October to start to get consumers into the spending frenzy associated with the holidays. But does it really make us any happier? Do we really need all this stuff?

When you visit a mall, listen to people’s conversations. They often say how much they want something and that they really shouldn’t buy it. However, even though they are conflicted over the decision, they often do. People amount massive amounts of debt when they get in the habit of accumulating stuff and it really creates far more headaches than it’s worth. When you really think about what you need, it’s actually very basic.

So how do you go about decluttering your life? Start simple and get some big trash bags. Go through your closet and get rid of the unessentials. Bring it to the goodwill and let the cleansing begin.

My tactic to simplify my life was to lower my overhead. It really did increase my happiness. You know that feeling when you first wake up and you’re so excited for the day? That is now my day, everyday. Here are 6 reasons why I know you don’t need anymore stuff to be happy. Consider them lessons learned from a recovering materialist.

1. Obsessing About Buying Things Will Attract People to You For The Wrong Reasons

Plain and simple. If you begin to flash around your nice things, people will start to hang around you because they like how it feels to be one of the rich and famous. The lifestyle will attract the shallow and the vain, there’s no promise that they will be honest with you because they have the same sickness, an insatiable desire to one up everyone else. It may take years to heal from the emotional trauma of pain that shallow people can bring into your life. Moreover, it can take years of therapy to get over the hurt you may cause other people by adopting the perspective of better than thou.

2. Buying More Things Requires You to Work Harder and Takes Away Your Freedom

I don’t think the American dream involved adderall and xanax. If you are prioritizing money over helping your community, I can almost guarantee you will dread your job. You want to find a job that is fulfilling but doesn’t suck your enthusiasm. If you are working to live and not living to work, take a look at how your business is impacting the world. Is it solving problems or creating them? If you only work to buy more things not only will you be a slave to your work, you will give up so much of your valuable time for this preconceived notion that we must hate our jobs and punch a clock Monday through Friday. Life isn’t meant to be dreaded so reclaim your freedom and free yourself from the shackles of spending.

3. Buying Things Breeds Jealousies and Insecurities

When you buy things it creates a habit subconsciously that compares what you have to what other people have. You begin to place judge yourself according to what you have instead of how you act. You will never be satisfied if you try to find happiness through retail therapy.

4. Sustainable Happiness Comes From Having a Sense of Purpose

Happiness cannot be bought, it must be earned. If you act with good intentions, you will brew happiness. If you buy something because you have a subconscious void, that void will only get bigger. The way we spend our time is completely linked to our personal happiness. Doing things for others generates sustainable happiness and positive momentum. Doing things to please ourselves perpetuates the idea that we are separate from each other and only makes us feel lonely.

5. Consumption is Addictive Like an Itch You Can Never Scratch

There will always be something better. If you buy a car worth $100,000 you will not be satisfied, you will then want the one worth $180,000 and your consumer addiction will force you to sacrifice anything and everything until it has it’s next fix. And consumerism is progressive. Soon a simple purse or pair of high heels will not give you the same rush as it once did. You will need to go for big purchases, the ones that create mortgages that a small village could live off of. You can kiss your free time good bye because you will have to be consumed with your work to pay for your spending habits. Is that where you want to go?

6. The Planet is Being Pillaged at The Hands of The Haves

Whether you believe in climate change or not is besides the point. Topsoil, freshwater, finite minerals like steel, iron and oil are all things a nation requires to stay functioning. We need steel to build roads and bridges, topsoil to grow food and fresh water to drink, bathe and water crops. The very basic essential things we need to survive are threatened by consumerism because people are disposing of goods at an alarming rate. The packaging alone requires plastic derived from oil wells that are drying up. Most empires in the past collapsed when they ran out of natural resources. Timber is one of the natural resources that people came to America for, England was fresh out and they couldn’t build more ships. To protect our country, we should develop more intelligent and sustainable habits than giving unnecessary gifts at Christmas time and buying things to quench our spend happy thirst.

As we question and redefine our relationship to spending, to material goods and regain our freedom of the purse, we will have dominion over not only more of our own time but more of our own impulses and emotions. We are affected by our environment but when we step back to see how it is either adding to subtracting to our personal satisfaction, we can steer our actions accordingly.

Sarah WilliamsSarah Williams is committed to helping others heal themselves through nutrition and the mind. Her stories seek to inspire others to live life to the fullest. Currently, she’s a happy lifestyle coach and shares her thoughts on self-development, dating and relationships at Wingman Magazine.

Photo by Cornelia Kopp

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Article contributed by Lauren StewartSmiling

I’ve been doing a lot of research on my personality type in the past year or so. In googling and reading, I’ve discovered in terms of Meyers-Briggs personality types, I’m an INFJ (introversion, intuition, feeling, judging). I’m also a HSP, which means a highly sensitive person. This doesn’t just mean I’m sensitive to criticism, negative feelings and conflict (which I am), but I am also sensitive to over-stimulating environments and moved deeply by the arts, to name a few characteristics.

If you’re like me, you’re sensitive to the ever so slight change in someone’s mood, a change in weather or even too much noise. Conflict is like poison. You notice a shift in someone’s mood and you start to panic. Basically, you’re programmed to take everything in the universe personally.

I once had a roommate that took everything personally too. I mean, everything. Like I mentioned, I hate conflict and often avoid it even when it can be necessary to talk things over. However, she was the opposite. She thrived on conflict. Everything was an issue. We often got into arguments because she thought we should be closer. I should have told her that secret. I should trust her even though she had proved to be quite untrustworthy in the past.

Another example is that I had a friend with whom I had been close to for years and feelings developed. The problem was, I had dated one of his friends for many years. We were both single, but the guilt of dating his friend’s ex-girlfriend haunted him. I pushed and I prodded and tried to convince him we were perfect together because there was something there. Surely, he could get over this guilt because of the strong feelings right?

Unfortunately, I was wrong. He ended things and started dating another girl right away. I felt betrayed. How could he move on so fast? Wasn’t our friendship worth it? I became so heartbroken and angry that he had treated me in such a way. I took every single move he made personally.

To me, dating my ex-boyfriend’s friend was awkward, sure, but something I could get over. To the guy, it made him feel like the villain of the story. No one wants to feel like the villain. Being emotionally open with me probably helped him to find another girl who was more suited for a relationship with him. At the time, I took it as a personal attack, when he was just doing what was best for him and his mental health.

What would life be like if my old roommate wouldn’t have taken things personally? What if she had accepted that I needed to tell people things in my own time or perhaps even not at all?

What if I had accepted a romantic relationship with my friend wasn’t meant to be? What if I hadn’t taken it personally that he moved on because likely it had little to do with me?

“There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.” – Don Miguel Ruiz from the book “The Four Agreements”

So this is a great concept. If you don’t take anything personally, you can’t really be affected by negativity in your life.

Then, you’ll always be happy. Great, right?

Easy to say. Extremely difficult to do.

The first step in not taking things personally is accepting that you’re human. This is probably the hardest thing to do in life. You’re not going to be perfect. You’re still going to get angry, or upset and hurt. That’s how we learn. We can always start again.

“Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally. Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. – Don Miguel Ruiz

The second step is realizing that nothing other people do or say is because of you. Just like no one can see the world through your eyes or read your mind, you can’t see what other people see or think the way they do. Something that wouldn’t upset you may upset your best friend. This is completely normal. We all live in our own realities or our own dream worlds.

The next time someone is upset with you, take a step back and look at the situation through their shoes. Even if their way of thinking seems ridiculous to you and you believe they have no reason to be angry or upset, still try to view things their way.

Don’t jump to conclusions in any situation or conflict. Our views of the world are shaped by our personal experiences. Perhaps something you said to a friend with good intentions but bad delivery reminded her of something her abusive mother once said to her and it brought up all kinds of horrible feelings. So when she lashed out at you, it was normal and acceptable in her mind, even though it left you feeling confused and attacked.

When you take a step back to think about why someone is acting a certain way, you can respond with love and good intentions instead of hurt, anger and a victimized attitude. In some cases, someone might not realize the tone they’re using or the way they’re coming across. Listening to someone, apologizing for your own behavior and trying to come up with a constructive solution to a problem are always good. However, if someone is constantly belittling you, getting angry for seemingly no reason and will not explain themselves, not respecting you or abusing you in any way, you need to re-think that relationship. Not every relationship can be fixed. Sometimes we need to walk away to protect and love ourselves.

Lastly, view every relationship and experience as a learning experience. There is no shame in leaving relationships or friendships that are no longer healthy for you. I no longer speak to either of the people mentioned in this article and I believe that is the best thing for me at this point in my life.

The next time a conflict arises, remember this phrase from Don Miguel Ruiz: “There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.” When you don’t take things personally, what other people say and do doesn’t affect you. You feel happy and free. It might take a little practice, but it will surely be worth it.

Lauren StewartLauren Stewart is a freelancer who lives and works in Michigan. She enjoys writing about relationships, health and beauty.

You can view some of her other articles and contact her by visiting her portfolio website.

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Peaceful-ManThe following article was contributed by Lynn Newman

On the outside, it seems that others view me as an outgoing, centered, confident woman. I wouldn’t say I’m not. I am. But I also have a very different internal experience at times.

When I took the Meyer Briggs test when I was a theater major in college, I was shocked to discover I was an introvert and not an extrovert. I was an actress after all! But, I came to understand over time that the pressure I felt to be “extroverted” raised my anxiousness.

I was surprised when a friend of mine who was a VP in the movie industry told me she felt the same way too. Everyone, including myself, seemed to think of her as a leader who could get stuff done oh-so-very-calmly — but that wasn’t how she felt inside.

We formed a bond in our secret: Underneath, we really were introverts. Once I started paying attention, I realized that many of my friends were the same, even most men I was in relationship with. We gravitated towards each other because we related.

Many of the people I know as well as myself feel life deeply, are very intuitive and empathetic and are in tune with our environment and the people around us. This may cause us to want to go more “inward”.

I feel great compassion for the men who feel this way too — because men are more conditioned than women to not feel and this can be much harder.

I also find a similar theme in we who feel life and others deeply: We tend to lean towards having anxiety.

In working with anxiety, here are some questions I learned to ask myself:

1) Can I let myself feel what I am feeling underneath the fear?

Anxiety is often a manifestation of unexpressed feelings.

Even though many men are trained not to cry or express their feelings, women have been conditioned not to as well. In this western world of equality, we don’t want to be judged as “emotional”.

We want to stand upright for our jobs, our children and have a social impact. It is hard sometimes to express our needs. We take on a lot. We must keep it together because of daily responsibilities.

Very rarely do we give ourselves permission to have a good cry. Sometimes we feel like we might want to cry, but we suppress it with all kinds of things (work, food, wine, talking, etc.)

Or we look for the meanings attached to our feelings before “feeling” them. This puts us in our mind — NOT our heart center — and cuts off the tender place within that wants to express itself.

9 times out of 10, I discover after a simple cry, pressure gets released and my anxiety disappears. Ground returns and I am back in my body, relieved.

The trick is to ask: What am I feeling underneath this anxiety? And then to give yourself permission to feel it.

Many times it is a concern of judgment from others or a self-judgment at the root. What if you found that judgment, placed it into your heart, and let it rest there instead?

2) Can I take the pressure off?

We are often governed by a list of “shoulds.” We learn these “shoulds” from our families, culture, and environments.

We need to be a success “out in the world”. We need to stay busy, work hard, have full lives. We compound our spirit with so much tension.

In the chaos and stress of our daily lives, we don’t realize the importance of taking time to re-center and re-connect with ourselves. We can feel guilty and find excuses for why we “should” not.

Many times, when we are anxious we think that it’s an emergency. Our fear makes us believe we are in danger so our nervous system protects us by not letting us stop.

But what is needed most in these times is to give ourselves a break: To turn off and turn down. In this day of age, this permission seems crazy — like there is something wrong with us.

It’s not wrong. It’s necessary. And sometimes more often than not.

An antidote for when the “Should Monster” appears is to say to ourselves this mantra to allow ourselves space to decompress: So what? Who cares? Big deal! Why not?

And then, to enjoy the down time we give to ourselves.

3) How much of my anxiety is due to putting my attention on someone else?

As empathetic, feeling, intuitive beings we feel the people around us, especially those we care about and love the most. We take on others’ problems, feelings, thoughts and experiences as if they are our own.

We want to fix, to help, to be of service. Sometimes in times of great need, we want to save and rescue.

But what if we don’t have to fix another (or ourselves)? What if we didn’t have to take on what another one carries?

This seems selfish. Yet, we do another a great disservice by fighting their battles for them. We take their power away from doing it for themselves.

In essence, we are trying to control another to reap a benefit — whether it is to feel better about ourselves or to get something we want.

Anxiety can be a form of control without even realizing it. We want to control our relationships and our environment as a way to feel safe and protected.

What if we were to simply focus on ourselves and find ways to soothe our anxiety through our own self-care?

The golden rule: Do You. That’s what I tell myself.

4) What if I didn’t have to think I was better than being human?

So much of anxiety can stem from having a perceived picture of how we think we should be. We have a vision and can be attached to it.

Our preferences design our lives yet our happiness coincides with the amount of anxiety we feel.

“What if I’m not perceived the way I think I should be? What then?”

“What if I’m not accepted? What if I fail? What if I’m not loved? What if I am an introvert?”

A way to handle these fears is to ask these questions:

What if I could just be me? Offered myself space? And what if who I really am is really what’s for my highest good?

I’ll heed my own advice.

lynnLynn Newman has a Masters in Counseling Psychology, is a writer, painter and game creator (like The Game of You & The Game of Insight – An Interactive Way To Know Yourself, Create The Life You Want). She’s big into unleashing the truest, free-est parts of you, so that you can experience more joy, more purpose, and more passion in life.Find out more: http://www.LynnNewman.com

Photo by Alan Cleaver

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The following article was contributed by Ajax Oliver.

Today’s economy has forced many families and individuals to focus on a number of ways to save money. One of the obvious ways to save money is to save energy by decreasing your consumption of it. Every energy-efficiency expert has a list of ways that you can accomplish. Unfortunately, most their recommendations involve spending money that you may not have to invest in energy-efficient consumer products or whole-house systems. The following is a list of 16 simple ways to save energy without breaking the bank.

Be more efficient when using your kitchen appliances

1) Involve your children – find some energy-efficient games to play with your kids in order to teach them the value of less consumption and saving money. Teach them to let you know when energy is being wasted due to leaving appliances, lighting, and other switches on.

2) Open your curtains – letting sunshine illuminate a room doesn’t cost you a thing when you consider that you won’t be using your lighting. During the winter, this will also help to warm the room up and save you money on heating costs.

3) Unplug your appliances when not in use – most people don’t realize that your appliances still use energy when they are turned off. Even wall chargers use energy when not charging anything. When you are not using your appliances, unplug them to save even more electricity.

Learn to cook more efficiently

4) Heat your home after cooking – when you are cooking, this is an ideal time to lower your thermostat and consume less energy. For instance, when you are done baking something in the oven, leave the door open on it and let the heat escape. This will warm up your kitchen.

5) Let your dishwasher do the bulk of the dish cleaning for you – you don’t have to pre-wash everything that goes into the dishwasher. Some minor scraping and rinsing with cold water will remove a large percentage of the food remnants on your plates.

6) Save time by cooking more – whenever you bake in the oven or cook on your stovetop, make a few meals at a time. This will save you a considerable amount of time, but more importantly, it will save energy and money.

7) Take it easy on your freezer and fridge – if you keep these two appliances full, they won’t use as much energy. Since they won’t have to work as hard, you will save money on your electricity bill every month.

8) Use the right pan with the right stove ring – if your stovetop has different sized burner rings use the appropriate saucepan or skillet when cooking. In other words, put smaller pots on small rings and larger skillets on larger rings. Additionally, use the appropriate size pot or skillet according to the quantity of food you are cooking in it.

Use heating efficiently by:

9) Cutting costs and staying warm in the process – turning your thermostat down 1° can result in significant savings. Set your thermostat to 68° during the winter.

10) Getting cozier – during the wintertime, layer your clothing to keep warm as the days get cooler. Additionally, throw an extra blanket, duvet, or comforter on your bed.

Wash clothing more efficiently

11) Decrease your hot water usage – when you consider that 90% of the energy that is used when running your washing machine, it makes sense to turn the water temperature down by washing your garments and other items in cooler or cold water.

12) Give your dryer a break – start hanging your laundry outdoors on a clothesline instead of running multiple dryer loads. Not only will your clothes dry effectively, they will smell just as nice as if you used a fabric sheet (and those can get very expensive over time).

13) Save time when ironing your clothing – you can iron your clothing a lot quicker if you remove them from the dryer before they have dried completely. Plus, it will require less energy to run the drier.

Whole-home efficiency with government grants

The Federal Government offers a number of perks for those individuals who practice whole-home efficiency. In addition to incentives and tax breaks, consider the following:

14) Free loft insulation – it’s quite possible that you could easily be losing up to 25% of your heat through your loft. You could be saving up to 20% on your utility bills by getting approved for a loft-insulation grant from the government.

15) Free solar panels – using solar panels to power your home is one of the most effective ways of decreasing electricity consumption and saving you some serious money every year. You may even find professionals and technicians that will install solar panels at no charge to you because of the breaks they receive for installing these energy-saving devices.

16) Free wall cavity insulation – the Federal Government offers full and partial grants to help you pay for insulation for those walls in your home that have cavities. Not only will this save you up to 15% of the energy you are currently using, it could save you over $100 per year on your monthly utility bills.

Additionally, you should apply for a government-backed energy-saving grant. You can search for these online and probably find dozens to apply for.

Planning for an Energy-Efficient Home

At some point in time, you may want to invest some money in your home and “go green” so that you can be doing your part to save the environment and save big money on the cost of utilities every year. Granted, it will be a sizeable investment initially, but within a short money, the savings you achieve will far exceed what you paid up front. More importantly, you will enjoy the knowledge and independence that you gain by going with a renewable energy system in the future.

Renewable energy systems can be used to meet all or part of your electricity demands by employing one of the following technologies:

  • hydropower or micro-hydro power systems
  • small hybrid (solar and wind) electric systems
  • small scale solar electric systems
  • small scale wind electric systems

Planning out a home with a renewable energy system takes work. Of that you can be certain. But if you do the necessary research, educate yourself about it, and analyze your current energy consumption, you’ll be able to determine what will work best for you. Remember, the less energy you consume, the more money you will save.

Additional Considerations

For all intents and purposes, you should never be over-paying for your energy usage and you do have numerous choices where this is concerned such as considering subsidiary contractors who supply electricity considerably cheaper than the primary power supplier in your area. A little self-education never hurts when it comes to researching the many ways to be energy-efficient in your lifestyle habits.

Furthermore, you should consider installing some energy monitors in your home to effectively gauge your usage. Consider replacing your older appliances with newer ones that are rated as energy-efficient (they are usually marked with the Energy Star. You can also save around up to 20% on your electricity bill by replacing fluorescent and incandescent bulbs with energy-saving products. Over the long-term you will enjoy the money you save and know that you are doing your part to leave a smaller carbon footprint in the process.

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Employee output, or productivity as it is more commonly referred to, helps a CEO, employer, or upper level manager track how well their employees are producing and being profitable for the overall company picture. From a business and industry standpoint, we oftentimes think in terms of getting the most production out of the least effort or producing the most products in the least of man hours expended.

The way in which a company’s daily tasks are prioritized can significantly impact and increase the level of productivity that they are experiencing. When you complete assignments or tasks, you will be able to do so in order of importance and need. There is nothing more rewarding than achieving your goals whether you are at home, investing or saving towards retirement, or working on a project at your job.

The Importance of Productivity

We typically love doing certain things or performing specific tasks because we are team players and want to be part of a productive group of individuals. As a result, we look for ideas, tips, or tricks to accomplish this. However, the reality is we usually want to increase our productivity for one or more of the following 10 reasons:

  1. So we can control the time we have.
  2. So we can do more with the time we have.
  3. So we can earn more in the time allotted to us.
  4. So we can free up more time for ourselves.
  5. So we can improve the way we spend our time.
  6. So we can just have more time in our day.
  7. So we can perform better during the day when we are using our time.
  8. So we can perform our tasks easier, effectively, and efficiently.
  9. So we have more time in our favor.
  10. So we have time to focus on other priorities.

The bottom line is that it is essential to be as productive as possible in our careers. Hopefully, the above content will enable you to do so.

Productivity on the Job

Look at it this way. When your productivity level is increasing on the job, it proves that you have arranged your goals systematically so you can complete each one efficiently and as soon as possible. There’s no secret formula or trick involved in doing this. The only requirement is that you stick to your original plan for achieving the company goals that you have set. Keep in mind that the true sign of a person’s productivity is when there is nothing left on their daily agenda or “To Do” List because every task has been completed.

If you are in a position where your actions directly affect the efforts of your co-workers, your level of productivity will also be equaled by your fellow employees because they will complete their tasks as quickly and efficiently as you do. On the other hand, if you consistently fail to meet your deadlines at work, it will be reflected in your level of productivity that you achieve. One of the most important inter-company goals among employees and their employers is meeting company deadlines.

An effective method for meeting deadlines is to work towards completing a project once you begin working out. In other words, following through. You have to set aside those tasks that are less of a priority than the one you are trying to complete. Don’t try to juggle your tasks as it will give you the false impression of productivity. You will only feel frustrated and overworked as a result. Additionally, showcasing your talent is a means of showing others what you are capable of, but just remember, out-producing your fellow employees breeds resentment.

Tips for increasing Productivity

Let’s be realistic for a moment. We all want to be productive and get more done so we can have more time to devote to the important things in our life, like our families. Unfortunately, we all have the same amount of hours in a day to live our lives and take care of our many responsibilities. So what is it that makes some individuals much more productive than others? Here are 24 ways to make the most out of your time and be more productive in the process:

  1. After 2 hours, take a 10 to 15-minute break to get some fresh air and clear your head.
  2. Ask yourself if what you are currently doing is getting you any closer to achieving your goal.
  3. Avoid answering your phone. Seriously, you have voice mail don’t you? They will leave you a message if it’s important enough.
  4. Avoid attending meetings whenever you can. If it is mandatory that you go, have a desired outcome as your goal.
  5. Block out your ability to access distracting websites (especially social media platforms) at a scheduled time every day.
  6. Blogging takes a great deal of time and effort. So you might want to consider outsourcing your content to a professional designer to create your blog in 2 days, not 2 weeks like it could take if you were designing it.
  7. Don’t get in the habit of saying “I should”; say “I will” instead. As Yoda would say, “There is no try. There is only do or do not.”
  8. Get in the habit of getting up an hour earlier than what you normally would.
  9. Hire a housekeeper, if you can afford to do so and use the time you would normally spend cleaning more productively on other goals or tasks.
  10. If you’re in a creative or writing frame of mind, shut down the internet, walk away from your computer, and sit down with a pen and tablet so you can write down what is on your mind.
  11. Ignore distractions or say no to them so you can better focus on your goals.
  12. Just do it! In other words, STOP PROCASTING!
  13. Keep a notepad handy so you can list additional ideas or distractions in it and then focus on them another time.
  14. Keep your TV turned off while you are working (some individuals move their TV’s to another room so they won’t be tempted to turn it on).
  15. Know how the outcome is going to look and what you will achieve by meeting your goals.
  16. Know the next step to perform after a conversation is closed.
  17. Make an agenda or “to do” list each day but only put your three most important tasks on it.
  18. Plan out your upcoming week on Sundays.
  19. Plan your day around the largest, most important task on your agenda or to do list, not the quickest and the simplest to complete.
  20. Put some motivating, upbeat music in your CD player or on the radio so you keep up your level of energy and stay motivated.
  21. Separate the important accomplishments from those that aren’t as critical.
  22. Set a timer at 30 minute or 1-hour intervals so you know when to focus on the next task or activity taking a one-minute break in between so you can re-focus.
  23. Start a journal of your achievements in hard copy or online.
  24. Turn the alerts and e-mails off on your cell phone.

Although the above is quite an extensive list of ways that you can be more productive, you may have other methods or ways to accomplish a higher level of productivity on the job. However, the above list deserves everyone’s consideration.

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Woman-at-SunsetThis article was kindly contributed by Leslie Ralph of Openly Being.

“To change one’s life: 1. Start immediately. 2. Do it flamboyantly. 3. No exceptions.” – William James

We often have a complicated relationship with making life changes. Change can be both desirable and daunting.

Discrepancies between where we are and where we want to be can inspire us to change. Feeling stuck can make change appealing. Whatever the impetus, change is frequently met with ambivalence. Wanting it doesn’t always make it accessible.

Why is change so hard sometimes?

Even when we are less than satisfied with our circumstances, there is a comfort in the known and a desire to avoid the uncertainty of change. We put off the changes that seem difficult and uncomfortable.

Change is formidable when perfection is expected. Mistakes are almost 100% guaranteed, and prohibiting them only leaves us discouraged. Perfectionism therefore blocks us from learning and exploring. It is a known killer of creativity.

Lasting change also requires consistent, effortful practice, even when we wish to hurry it along. It is frustrating when change does not occur. For many of us, this reinforces the beliefs we had about change in the first place: that it is too hard or unpleasant. We can then make exceptions and gradually (or not) slip into old ways.

For all of its challenges and complexities, change can and does happen. It happens all the time. The secret to change boils down to 3 elements: begin somewhere now, approach with conviction, and persist.

Start Immediately

The only joy in the world is to begin. “ – Cesare Pavese

We all know that if we want to see change, we’re probably going to need to get it started, but this doesn’t always translate to starting immediately. Instead, it is common to hold ourselves back from the change we want to see.

When we put off a change, we often don’t get to it at all. Meanwhile, we continue to see a discrepancy between where we are and where we want to be.

Unrealistic expectations can contribute to putting off even our most meaningful changes. Expecting to do it all at once and perfectly is enough to make even our most desired changes intimidating, predicting hassles leaves us drained before we’ve even begun, and overlooking our strengths causes us to feel inept and useless.

Starting immediately means taking a step toward the change now. No avoidance. No procrastination. When we start immediately, we are proactive rather than reactive. We move from complaints to positive change.

To start immediately:

Make an initial step. You have to start somewhere to get moving, so take a small step toward the change you want to see. You can do a bit of planning first, but don’t get lost in the planning phase. In fact, your plans will likely change once you have started. While planning your approach, break the change down into small and concrete steps, gather resources, and give yourself a deadline.

Get inspired. Set aside time every day for motivation, inspiration, and reflection. During this time, you might read an inspirational article or story or listen to a motivational song. Perhaps you respond to pictures or sharing your progress with your friends. Reflect on your progress and remind yourself of how far you have come.

Get curious. Treat change like an experiment. From this perspective, you remove expectations of perfection. Expect and even embrace mistakes.

Do it Flamboyantly

“Sing like no one’s listening, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like nobody’s watching, and live like its heaven on earth.” – Mark Twain

We are far more likely to succeed in making a change when we believe in that change and ourselves whole-heartedly. This means going all out and approaching change with abandon. No reservations and no apologies.

This kind of change is authentic. It is honest and sincere.

In contrast, when we try to remain inconspicuous in our approach to change, it is as if we are muted. Change cannot occur from this place.

Know that there is a reason this takes courage. With so many uncertainties about change, it is no wonder that we might like to hold back.

There may be barriers to doing it flamboyantly. Putting yourself out there, imperfections and all, can be scary. It is an especially bold move when we are doing something new and different. Additionally, the people in our lives may not know how to see and accept our change. In fact, some may prefer that we stay as we are, even if where we are is painful.

Doing it flamboyantly means going about your change with conviction and courage. It means finding strength from within as you face challenges and obstacles.

To do it flamboyantly:

Accept yourself. Yes, you read that right. There is a paradoxical relation between self-acceptance and change. It is through self-acceptance that you find the courage to show who you are even if you are unsure of where it will take you. Through self-acceptance, you become less attached to perfection and pleasing others. When you no longer define yourself by weaknesses and mistakes, you can take the bold steps toward the change you want to see.

Do it your way. Advice is all well and good, but at the end of the day this is a change that you have to make and that you have to live with. Use your expertise in yourself. Learn from mistakes. Find creative solutions to problems that work for you. Allow your unique talents to shine.

Be exuberant. Allow yourself to go all-out. Nurture your natural curiosity and excitement for this change.

No Exceptions

“If you are going to achieve excellence in big things,you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.” – Colin Powell

Lasting change isn’t always easy. You can expect that it will take effortful practice. So, once you are committed to this change, commit to it fully.

When we make exceptions, we open the door for avoidance and procrastination. Just this one time becomes this time and another. Exceptions build, and old ways can slip back in.

Doing it with no exceptions doesn’t mean that you have to be harsh or strict with yourself. In fact, compassion is going to get you much farther than criticism will. No exceptions means dedicating yourself to what you want. It means putting forth the effort that you deserve. To do it with no exceptions:

Practice daily. Sustainable change comes when we build better habits. Better habits do not happen automatically, however. It typically takes about 30 days to make or break a habit. Try giving yourself a 30-day challenge. Start at the beginning of the month and monitor your progress on a calendar or journal. Work toward a small reward at the end of the month.

Do something. Even if you can’t do it completely, do something. Even if you aren’t sure, you have your doubts, or aren’t good at it yet, do something. Compassion for yourself is key here. If you need to modify your approach, do it with intention and kindness toward yourself. Remind yourself of your dedication to this change and trust in yourself to stick with it.

Stick with it. Stick with it as long as it is healthy for you. Allow your plan for change to be flexible. Flexible goals are realistic goals, and realistic goals are far more likely to set you up for success.

About Leslie Ralph

Leslie Ralph, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist practicing in a university counseling center where she specializes in anxiety management, values exploration, self-compassion, and mindfulness. Outside of the office, she is a wife and mother, cat lover, music enthusiast, weekend runner, and master at living room yoga. She is the author of the Worth beyond Compare. See more about how to connect to the good within by visiting her website Openly Being.

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Happy-and-Successful1This article was contributed by Lauren Sapala

The secret to success is the most sought-after treasure in our culture. We all want to be successful, whether that means being financially abundant, being an expert in our field, or being in good health. But what is it that successful people do to get where they are?

The secret is that it’s not what they do. It’s what they do differently.

And it all comes down to the power of choice.

About ten years ago I was struggling in all areas of my life. I worked in a retail job I hated, I had serious problems dating, and I thought I would never achieve my dream of writing (and finishing!) a novel. At the time I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong. It didn’t seem like it was my fault that I didn’t have the skills to get a better job, I never met the right person, and I just couldn’t seem to get started on that novel.

But it was my fault. Because most of the choices I was making dragged me down, instead of lifting me up.

Back then I was a big fan of soap operas, and I really got into reality TV when it came out. I didn’t have a whole lot to do at my retail job and so I read the news avidly, drinking in the all the updates on the latest scandal, disaster, or dire prediction. The people I hung around with socially didn’t challenge me to move out of this zone either. They were mostly concerned with meeting at the bar every night for happy hour and then some.

It wasn’t until I took the terrifying step of joining my first writing program that things began to change.

In that program I started to see how each one of us makes choices every day, but successful people turn the power of choice into a work of subtle genius. Because they study the big picture of what they want and where they’re going, they consciously implement systems of choice in their lives that are always in their best interest.

Successful people know that every decision they make, and every opportunity that comes their way, stems from one fundamental choice they made from the very beginning. We all make this choice but most of us are unconscious of it. It breaks down into 3 core factors:

Time
Attention
Energy

Your time, attention, and energy are the essential components that make up your life force. Whenever you divert even a small stream into something that isn’t worth it, you’re draining that precious force away from your best interests and wasting a part of yourself that could have been put to better use.

When I was going nowhere and struggled every day feeling dissatisfied with my life, I had been unconsciously giving away my power of choice. Instead of directing my energy towards my dreams and goals, I got scared and let it leak away. Watching mindless TV, reinforcing my fear-belief system through the news, and spending too much time at the bar with like-minded people sucked my time, energy, and attention away so that I didn’t have to deal with the big question.

Who and what did I want to choose to spend my life force on?

When I asked myself that, it was the beginning of bringing conscious awareness to my power of choice. This is what successful people do all the time. In fact, they’re so familiar and adept at it that it’s become a built-in habit and they don’t even think about it anymore.

Unconscious people tend to let these kinds of choices be made for them, just like I did ten years ago. For instance, if you turn on the television for background noise and end up half-watching the news or reality TV, you have now allowed the fear of the media or the drama of the Kardashians into your head space. That sort of energy worms its way into your field whether you pick up on it or not, and it has a significant effect on your thoughts and emotions.

The same goes for social media. If you log in to Facebook to check one message and find yourself still scrolling through a stream of nonsense an hour later, you’ve made the choice to waste your time. And every single post you’ve viewed—whether positive or negative—has been cataloged and absorbed by your brain for digestion. Is that the kind of stuff you really want to be feeding your mind?

These are just two examples of the way choices can end up happening to you instead of you making choices for yourself. This is what successful people do differently. They build their lives in such a way that very little unconscious noise gets through to distract them from their real work and life purpose.

The awesome thing is that anyone can take back their power of choice. It just takes a couple of weeks of adjustment to a new set of system controls.

Here’s the quick-and-dirty guide to taking back your power of choice:

News and Media
If you are committed to following the news, pick only a few websites that you trust and be conscious of the articles you read. Choose only to focus on topics that you actually care about. Read each article you’ve chosen all the way through. If you find you’re only visiting news websites to skim the headlines, stop visiting those sites.

If you watch the news on television, limit yourself to 30 minutes per day and no more. If you’ve got CNN constantly running in the background of your home, it’s time to turn it off.

Cut yourself off from reading or watching any sort of celebrity news, gossip, or generic fluff pieces on lifestyle and what other people are doing. Successful people aren’t that concerned with what other people are doing. They’ve got their own work to do.

Social Media
If you choose to continue engaging on social media, remove any and all social media apps from your phone. Set aside 30 minutes a day to use social media and use a timer to enforce this rule. When you’re engaging in your 30 minutes make sure you’re sitting down, you will be uninterrupted, and you are only doing that one thing.

Cut out the distraction-driven constant checking of social media accounts while you’re trying to do other things. Successful people don’t have their head buried in their phones when they’re walking down the street. They have too many great plans in the works to risk getting hit by a bus.

Relationship Elimination Round
If you feel like you can’t open up about your dreams and plans with certain people in your life, those people need to be eliminated. If you can’t cut them out entirely, keep things civil but always short, and seek out new people who are interested in supporting and encouraging you.

The best way to do this is to check out Meetup groups in your area for people who share similar interests, sign up for classes and seminars, and explore different types of volunteer work. Positive people are constantly searching for ways to improve themselves and the world. And successful people know that big dreams must be surrounded with positive thinking.

After I joined that first writing program I started meeting other writers. I had a place to go every week filled with people who were interested in my work and who urged me to keep going. Then I met someone in the group who connected me with a better job opportunity and I quit the retail store I hated. I began to open up emotionally through my creative work and was able to bond more deeply with the man I’d started a relationship with and now we’re married.

None of this is easy at first. If you’re addicted to the news, or social media, or negative people, it will feel like a loss when you stop participating with any of them. But as with any addictive energy, the feeling of loss is only on the surface. The important thing is that you’ve stopped giving your power away. You’ve halted the process of others making choices for you.

What you’ve really done is taken your power back, and the first step toward joining the ranks of the truly successful.

Lauren Sapala is a fiction writer, writing coach, and blogger. She founded the Write City writing group in San Francisco, and its sister branch in Seattle. She coaches all levels of writers, helping them to discover their voices and realize their goals and dreams. Lauren currently lives in San Francisco and is working on her fifth novel. She blogs regularly at www.laurensapala.com.

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Buddha8This article was contributed by Janietta Robinson.

What happens when you first fall in love with someone? Life becomes bliss for a time doesn’t it? You have met someone who is a perfect match for you or so you think.

Something about the other resonates with some deep part of you. You are in tune with each other, at home in each others company, able to relax and be at ease with yourself. You feel warm, safe, accepted, known and happy. Life is good and you feel good. Everything seems divine and you believe you will feel this way for ever….only you don’t!

Sooner or later feelings of unease can creep into even the best of relationships. The bubble begins to burst a little.

When this happens don’t PANIC!

Let me explain why it’s important not to overreact and worry that you have made a wrong choice or that your relationship is doomed to fail. Don’t reach for the number of the divorce lawyer just yet…..there is life EVEN after the rosy glow of first romance begins to wane.

This is all good; it is all as it should be.

Let me explain.

Relationships, especially the most intimate of relationships, exist in order to provide a rich environment in which to nurture and foster our own growth as human beings, helping us to burst through our limited perceptions of who we are so that we may grow into the fullness of our true selves.

This kind of growth requires energy and that is why a certain amount of friction between two people can be a good thing because it is the friction that provides us with the vital energy needed for growth.

However there needs to be a balance. Too much friction can lead to stress and break down while too little can lead to stagnation. Both of these scenarios can produce unhealthy and arguably unsustainable relationships. I know this from first hand experience (twice divorced and now married for the third time). Here’s a quick peek into my background.

In my first marriage I paired up with someone who was so like me that there was no spark and no energy exchange between us. This led to boredom, lethargy, frustration and dissatisfaction within the relationship. In my second marriage it was just the opposite – sparks flew all the time, we never saw eye to eye, we were poles apart as individuals and we lived with a constant tension that finally, literally pulled us apart. Now in my third marriage I am learning to be vulnerable and real and honest. It’s not always easy.

We grow in relation to other people.

Let’s just take a moment to have a look at the nature of this growth. We are all born with something that psychologists call the organismic valuing system which is our inbuilt natural tendency for growth and development. We are wired for this growth whether we are conscious of it or not.

As humans we like to push the boundaries. We like to try new things, develop new skills, invent new technologies and travel the globe in search of new experiences. All these are evidence of the organismic valuing system at work in our lives. It seems we just can’t resist embracing growth – when it is applied to external things.

However when it comes to our internal growth (perceptions, attitude, beliefs, awareness, self understanding) it seems we are not so eager to expand our horizons. When it comes to this kind of growth we often need the help of other people around us to facilitate the growth process.

Although we all enter this world as perfect, wonderful, whole and unique beings as we go through life we can lose sense of this perfection as we begin to form an image of ourselves that is limited in its nature. In our desire to please the significant people in our lives, to fit in, to belong and to acquire love, approval and acceptance we allow ourselves to cultivate the characteristics that we think will bring us what we want while at the same time shunning the ones that we think will bring disapproval.

This results in a self image (a way of identifying ourselves) that is partial and incomplete based more on whom we think ourselves to be rather than whom we feel ourselves to be.

When we don’t feel whole and complete we are like a jigsaw with some missing pieces, seeking completion elsewhere in external things and in other people.

When we first meet someone whom we are deeply attracted to what actually happens is that we see in them all the ‘good’ parts of ourselves that we have so far rejected or been unable to own as being a part of whom we are.

Seeing these in the other completes us and we feel happy and whole and wonderful for at time.

However we will never feel whole for long if we are unable to recognise and own the qualities that we are admiring in the other person as being a part of who we are.

We are meant to bring these qualities into ourselves so that our self image can expand and become more complete.

The problem is that quite often what we long for is the very thing that we have been taught to believe is wrong, insignificant, worthless, useless or just ‘not for me’ and because of this it is hard to accept these qualities as being a part of who we are. Because we have judged these qualities in a negative way we shun them from our self image and before too long we begin to shun them in others too.

Suddenly our illusion of the perfect partner is shattered and where we once saw perfection we now see imperfection. Where there was once bliss and harmony now there is strife and conflict.

This is all good. This is all as it should be.

Why? Well, because this is the end of the illusion that a ‘perfect’ person will come and rescue us from our (unconscious) impoverished sense of self. When we are disillusioned with love we are freed to begin to learn to love in more real and wonderful ways.

But what does all this mean in practice?

Well it seems that the things that annoy us most in our partners are the very things that we most need to reclaim in ourselves. Let me give you an example from my own life.

When I first met my husband I was immensely attracted by his vibrant and joyful nature. He embraced life full on, something that I had never been able to do. Unconsciously I wanted the same for myself and unconsciously I reached to him to provide it for me.

However for a long time I remained unaware that his vibrant love of life was something that I needed to cultivate in myself and instead I fed off his energy believing that that was all I needed.

While I was doing this however, I wasn’t growing internally as a person. Eventually my own inner sense of lack began to show and what initially attracted me to my husband began to annoy me especially his constant habit of making a joke about everything.

This contradicted everything I had grown up to believe about life. As a child I had grown up in a happy enough household but just not one where jokes, wise cracks and light hearted banter abounded. The message I received was that life was serious business and not something to laugh and joke about. My husbands approach to life was in direct opposition to all this and it felt plain wrong to me.

Initially the only way I could cope with this and maintain my own self image was to make my husband out to be wrong so that I could be right. (More of this in my blog: Keeping ourselves right by making others wrong.)

You’ve heard the phrase ‘What you spot you got!’

In a nutshell this means that all the missing parts of ourselves that we have not internalised as our own remain outside of us where they gain our attention through the behaviours, personalities and actions of others. My husband’s joviality was meant to invite me to find my own joviality but because I wouldn’t or couldn’t own this trait in myself I had to push it away.

By reacting to my husbands joviality what I was essentially doing was re-enacting it externally rather than choosing to experience it internally – a defence mechanism designed to keep my own, familiar, limited self image safe and intact.

What we push things away from ourselves we are able to criticise, judge and condemn in others without condemning ourselves.  This is divisive. Having separated ourselves from the perceived ‘bad’ trait we now need to separate ourselves from the ‘bad’ person who is exhibiting that ‘bad’ trait and thus rather than experience closeness with our partners we experience conflict as mistrust and suspicion build up between us.

The only result of this conflict is to either flee (withdraw) or stay and  fight which usually means trying to get the other person to change so that he/she fits with our beliefs about how they should be in the first place!

Keeping our focus external from ourselves means that any problems we are experiencing in our relationships is the fault of the other and nothing to do with us. Often we can become so embroiled in our partner’s faults and their need to change that we forget to live our own life!

Essentially our conflict is never about them, it is always about us!

Things began to change for me when I realised that my husband’s behaviour was actually a mirror showing me, in rather an exaggerated way, what it was I needed to reclaim from the deep shadows of my inner self.

My husband’s behaviour was highlighting, that is throwing light onto the very things that I needed and that would allow me to live a happier and more fulfilling life. I was annoyed with his constant joviality because deep down I longed to be more joyful, free and light hearted but so far I had not allowed myself to be so.

Now whenever I experience irritation with my husband rather than push my negative energy away from me so that I can play the blame game I try to sit with it and feel what it is trying to teach me. I try to feel joy that wants to rise up in me rather than squash it down with criticism and disgust. The more I am able to do this the more liberated I become as I begin to take responsibility for my own life rather than expecting my husband to change in order to make me happy.

The more I can love and accept myself the more I can love and accept my partner.

It seems the best thing we can do in any relationship is to work on ourselves because as our own self image expands and becomes more complete then there are less missing parts for others to reflect back to us. Consequently there is less to react to, less to label ‘wrong’ and less blaming, judging, condemning and withdrawing from each other.

Embracing a new sense of self builds a bridge of intimacy between ourselves and our partners and is the quickest way back to the land of bliss that we experienced in the early days of our relationships.

It’s a simple enough process but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy!

When we can find the courage to own that which we spot in others we find that the door we had slammed shut between us opens and we are able to unite in our common humanity and our heartfelt longings to be loved and accepted. Suddenly we find ourselves back on the same page, singing the same song – even if, at times, we are singing slightly off key and/or losing our sense of rhythm on occasions!

So whatever annoys you most in your partner be it their messiness, their tendency  to be late, to always have the last say or to selfishly indulge in their own passions and hobbies – take a closer look and see if you can spot something that you have not allowed yourself to develop in your own personality. Sometimes what we see mirrored back to us can be in a rather exaggerated form but this is just to grab our attention. If we can dilute the annoying actions a little then usually we can get a clearer picture of what is being shown to us.

Relationships are heaven sent. They are a gift given that we may waken up from the illusion that there is something wrong/missing/incomplete about us and that we need some divine person to come and make us better/whole/complete again.

Once this illusion dies we are freed to love in healthier, more fulfilling ways. Now relationships are not about finding the perfect partner but about becoming the perfect (which is just another world for complete) self.

When we arrive at this understanding we no longer have to spend our live going from relationship to relationship seeking out the perfect partner. Instead to quote Marianne Williamson we are now able to stop jumping from ‘pink to pink’ and able instead to stay in a relationship and discover and revel in a ‘full rainbow of colour’!

This, my dear friends, is the real world of ‘Happy EVEN after’.

Screenshot_1Jannietta is a poet, writer and blogger with a firm belief in the power of words to heal and transform lives. After facing a series of losses in her life she now embraces with joy the process of re-discovering her true self and celebrating the wonder of being alive. She is author of three volumes of poetry. Barefoot on Green Grass; Wild Swans Flying and Arriving: Poems to bring you Home.You can find out more about her and read her blog on her website www.Jannietta.com

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Scared? Perfect!

by AJ Walton

PeaceThis article was contributed by Brooke Steff.

How nervous does being afraid make you? Have you really looked at it before? Your deepest fear or even those simmering anxieties that keep you up at night.

Don’t misinterpret my intention here, I’m not out to make you feel bad for feeling afraid of anything. This actually brings me to the point of this post quite quickly- we are always made to feel negatively about experiencing fear, that if we share our concerns or exhibit any signs of being afraid, it “says something” about our character.

I have always struggled with the “showmanship” that we are meant to portray to the world. I’m not suggesting that we all become quivering masses of fears and tears, but perhaps we don’t actually have to desperately scramble for those around us to see how well we have our shit together?

Even if we don’t?

You didn’t enter this world knowing the art of mastering it, so when (and my god, why) do we adopt the belief that the switch should flip and one day we have it all figured out.

None of us have it figured out. Not really. The only thing we find ourselves confident with is the alternate reality where we can go back and live our lives over, but differently. Oh how we would do things differently! Because we’ve been here before.

If that didn’t land for you, think of it this way- we are all infants in our own state. Each and every day is new to us, just like every anniversary, world event and age.

Has your grandmother ever been 90-something before? Experienced the troubles you’d expect to, being nearly a hundred years old? No. It would be a new experience for her. And if she doesn’t appear strong in the face of rapid aging do we demand her to be so? Of course not. The same can’t be said for the rest of us. Apparently, we should know how to roll.

We all have fears. And they can be few or wide-ranging. We enter each and every day the best way we know how with the tools we have picked up along the journey and pray to god that we won’t have to face a cataclysmic event that forces us to use all of our resources at once.

That’s fear.

And we all feel it on some level. So why can’t we be around each other and act with authenticity and humility?

Fear is a neat little reminder that you’re not totally in control of how things manifest in your life. Fear is your knowing of this.

You wish that you could govern your life freely without any resistance or obstacles, but what must be understood is that life is like a divine collaboration.

Lead your life without fear paralyzing you.

Instead, let fear run along side you quietly, keeping you alert and ever so grateful. Learn to embrace the heightened, electric state of awareness that fear gives you.

Some people think that a secret to happiness lies in being fearless. This is naïve at best. Fear is very important and every one of us feels it to some extent. Fear is not something to be ashamed about, as the people who recognize its value have more chance of reaching heights that soar above the rest.

Fear demands either bravery, or nothing at all.

Don’t glamourize fearlessness. It doesn’t require you to be brave and it certainly isn’t a co-factor for happiness.

The obvious place we send fear-blame is the ego. Of course, the ego lives it’s life in the shadowy areas of comparison and competition. But, I don’t want to ego-bash here. It exists, and it can be a great teacher for us.

The pearl is to acknowledge what the ego wants but understand that it may not actually bring you the feelings of self worth and validation that you feel you need.

Wouldn’t it be more liberating to look a fellow human in the eye and declare “I’m doing my best, I don’t know what’s going to happen, and I know you are doing your best too”?

Fear can only paralyze when you feel that you’re alone. Knowing that everyone is doing their best on their pilot flight of life makes you breathe a sigh of relief and deep sense of togetherness and compassion.

It is our imperfection and common struggle that connects us with others and it is only when we think our suffering is abnormal that we feel isolated.

The ego and it’s offspring, fear, don’t like us to understand this.

But, fear has another story also.

Someone wise (I can’t remember who) said, “Fear is me realizing my own power”.

Fear is you on the edge.

Think about it for a second. How often does fear come up when you don’t care about something? My money’s on never. In this way, fear can be another word for love.

When you care for something or someone intensely, there is an associated possibility of losing that special something or someone.

That’s scary, no one disputes that.

But, if we are to use the above wisdom as a guide, it’s the monumental courage and strength to overcome such loss that causes us fear and hence brings us face to face with our own POWER.

Being afraid, not knowing what the hell you’re doing or where you’re going sometimes is okay. We all feel it. None of us actually know what’s going to happen. Just give someone a hug and let them know that you really understand. You totally get it.

brooke sBrooke Steff is a degree qualified Naturopath, Medical Herbalist, Strength and Conditioning Coach, Seeker and the founder of Crazy Beautiful Healthy.

At Crazy Beautiful Healthy she provides purpose-driven women who want to live healthy, fulfilled and passionate lives without sacrificing their individuality or self expression.

You can also connect with Brooke on her Instagram profile or Facebook and Twitter pages.

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happy dayThis article was contributed by Kathryn Hall

I’m just going to lay my cards on the table, put myself out there and say it.

My name’s Kathryn Hall. And I’m a happy person.

I love my life. I love my family. I love my career. I love the cute little bakery round the corner from my house. I love the birds that dash and dart outside my office window. I love the waves of the sea that are 5 minutes from where I live. Yep, life is sweet. I am indeed a happy person.

Now before you go running to the bathroom feeling queasy at the ‘Disney’ style joy that appears to be pouring from this article, let me first set the record straight on what my life actually looks like.

Because, despite how I have made my life sound, I don’t jump out of bed every morning grinning from ear to ear like some kind of maniac.

In fact, sometimes I like my bed more than I like to get up.

There are times when I just can’t get going, like last week when I spent a whole afternoon lying on the sofa because I couldn’t get my arse in gear to do any work (you know – that work that I love?)

I sometimes get frustrated when my boyfriend leaves his socks on the floor when the laundry basket is RIGHT THERE! And then there was that driver who nearly knocked that woman off her bicycle. I felt angry about that for a while.

And then I cry sometimes. Maybe because I’ve watched a sad film, maybe because I feel overwhelmed, or maybe I’ll cry just because…there doesn’t always have to be a reason.

In fact throughout my life, I have felt and continue to feel every emotion going. The ups and the downs, the twists and turns. Excitement, sadness, gratitude, frustration, love, fear, and of course pure unbridled joy.

And do you know what?

I’m ok with that. I have accepted that during my life I will have moments when I won’t feel completely happy.

Because I am a human being.

And as human beings it’s impossible to be happy all of time. We are complex, beautiful, creatures that experience the full rainbow of emotions. It’s what makes us who we are.

Reacting to the world around us, we empathize, we build relationships, we dream, we create and we explore, all of us journeying through this life the best way that we can. The emotions and feelings we experience every day are simply part of life. They are the signs that we care, that we are not simply robots, that we have evolved as a species to be more.

So, bearing this in mind, how can I stand before you and claim to be a happy person?

Well, I personally believe it’s about 2 things.

  1. How I feel about the things that are most important to me as an individual
  2. How I feel the majority of the time

My career is important to me but as a business owner there are certainly times when I get fed up with my work. When I feel anxious as to whether a blog post will get the desired results…when I get frustrated because the technology I am trying to use doesn’t do what I want it to do…when I feel bored by the task in hand.

However (and this is the clincher), just because I feel negative emotions now and again doesn’t mean I don’t love what I do. Ultimately my career makes me feel happy. I have shaped it to fit beautifully with who I am and what I want. I no longer get that sinking feeling on a Monday morning and for the majority of my life my career brings me satisfaction and joy.

Yes, there are odd moments of frustration and anxiety, but I challenge you to show me a business owner (or employee for that matter) who doesn’t have an off day now and again – I’m pretty sure there’s no-one out there. It’s normal, and so I forgive myself and move on.

The problem however is when these negative emotions take up too much of your life. When those off-days aren’t simply odd days here and there, but are in fact how you spend most of your time.

If every day that you go to work feels like a drag, then there’s probably something wrong. If you feel frustrated and angry at your partner more than you feel happy, supported and loved is that really the life you want to live? Perhaps something needs to change.

As Steve Jobs put it…

I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘no’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

And I guess that’s the point really. Ok, so you may have the odd grumpy day here and there. But if those grumpy days are consistently seeping into and overshadowing the important parts of your life, take time to think about what that means.

I know for sure that happiness isn’t the emotion I want in scarcity. Instead I want it running in abundance through the core of everything important in my life.

Because when the core of your life is full of joy, it doesn’t matter what other emotions show up.

You’ll always return to happy.

Kathryn Hall is founder of The Business of Introverts, an avid writer and mentor to individuals across the globe who want more freedom, solitude and creativity in their careers. She’s big on helping people to embrace their introversion in all its glory, while creating a life they love.

 

Photo by nhi.dang

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