Practicing Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to things as they are.  Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness is the energy that helps us acknowledge the conditions of happiness that are already existing in our lives. We don’t have to wait ten years to experience this happiness. It is present in every moment of our daily lives. Mindfulness is when we are truly there, mind and body together. We breathe in and out mindfully, and we bring our mind back to our body. When our mind is there with our body, we become settled in the present moment. Then we are able to identify the many aspects of happiness that are in us and around us, and happiness just comes naturally.

“When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you” – Lao Tzu

Practicing mindfulness enable us to recognize that our thoughts are just thoughts; they don’t necessarily represent reality. We can observe them rather than being dependent on them. It helps us to take in the richness of the moment instead of going through life with half of our attention on the past or future or our own mental gabble. By becoming more aware of our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations, from moment to moment, we give ourselves the possibility of greater freedom and choice; we become enlightened to be more intentional in choosing priorities and actions that fit our life mission.

“Refuge to the man is the mind, refuge to the mind is mindfulness” – Buddha

In this busy, hyper and connected world, we spend so much of our days lost in thought, rushing around from one activity to another, and often trying to do several different things at the same time. We often fail to notice the beauty of life, lose our connection with the present moment. And we all too often miss out on what we are doing, how we are feeling and what our bodies are telling us. We also become vulnerable to anxiety, stress, depression and reactivity. Research shows, in fact, that the more our minds wander, the less happy we become.

With mindfulness, we have the chance to really slow down and appreciate everyday activities with new eyes, new senses. By learning and practicing mindfulness and deep meditation we gain the power of familiarizing ourselves with our thoughts and our patterns, and we can shift our thoughts away from our usual preoccupations toward an appreciation of the moment and a larger perspective on life. In other words, the more mindful you are the happier you are.

In order to get the best results by practicing mindfulness and deep meditation, our mind has to be relaxed and free from all worries about past and future.  We can learn relaxation techniques to help us managing stress and teaching us how to quiet our mind.

One simple way to start practicing mindfulness, is to concentrate on our breathing without trying to change it. We just focus on our breath coming into and leaving our body. As we practice this, our mind might wander, but we can gently, without any judgement bring our focus back on our breathing again. As we begin to feel success with this task, we may wish to extend our focus to sensations we feel in our body, without judgment or trying to change these sensations. And then we can apply this practice to sounds that we hear in our environment. There are many guided mindfulness meditations online that can assist us in learning and practicing, and soon, we will experience the benefits of mindfulness in our day-to-day lives. “Do every act of your life as though it were the very last act of your life” – Marcus Aurelius

 In addition to formal meditation, we can also cultivate mindfulness informally by focusing our attention on our moment-to-moment sensations during everyday activities. Whether we are doing the dishes, flossing our teeth, waiting at the traffic lights or going for our morning walk, we may slow down the process and be fully present as it unfolds and involves all of our senses.  Any routine activity can be made into a mindfulness practice when we bring our full attention to it.

Mindfulness improves physical health:

  • Help relieve stress
  • Treat heart disease
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce chronic pain
  • Improve sleep
  • Alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties

Mindfulness improves mental health:

  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Couples’ conflicts
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Mindfulness can literally transform our entire world from the inside out. It may help us discover the feelings of fulfilment, peace and wholeness which have been within us all along. To find fulfilment and meaning in life, we need to learn how to really experience the moment and then go deeper into ourselves, and ask questions like “What is important to us, what makes us fulfilled and what do we want to do in our life?”. We need to take time away from our busy lives and allow ourselves to reflect, experience and make sense of our life.

“When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.”– Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Basic Human Needs

Basic human needs are that of recognition. To be appreciated, seen, loved and respected for who we are.  “There is nothing, absolutely nothing, more important than meeting our basic human needs. If we focused less on retina display ipads and more on the vision of a world where all people’s basic needs are met, we will all be happier as a result.” ~ Simon Cohen

There are six basic human needs that we all look for in our lives to be happy and feel fulfilled. Tony Robbins, who is well known for his motivational speaking, books, interviews and articles; has explained in his article “The 6 Human Needs: Why We Do What We Do” that all behaviour is simply an attempt to meet these six needs:

  • Certainty: We all need certainty in life, but everybody is different in how much certainty they need. We all need assurance which can prevent us from pain and help us to gain pleasure. A life which doesn’t have a certain amount of order can cause chaos.
  • Uncertainty: This is opposite certainty, but very much needed in everyone’s life to keep the spirit up and alive. The amazing thing about certainty and uncertainty is that how each one of us responds to them so differently, as what is so exciting and normal to one person, might be distressful for another.
  • Connection: Each one of us craves for connection. No matter who we are, and what we do, we all need to be belonged, to be accepted and to be loved for who we are. We need connection with others as much as we need oxygen. It may not seem so critical most times, but I firmly believe that if we truly want to be healthy and happy, connection is one of the most important aspects of personal fulfilment and success. “One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night” ~ Margaret Mead
  • Significance: We all want to be mattered, to be heard, to be able to make a difference in the world, which in return empowers our souls.
  • Growth: Human beings are constantly growing and developing, even those who are almost entirely absorbed in struggling for material survival or aspiring for higher social achievements. But that growth has been most often subconscious, as a result of the trials and errors of life experience, rather than as a result of a conscious process of self-development. Through a conscious effort at developing our personalities, we experience new things, understand ourselves better, expand our capacities, progress our personal capability and understandings.
  • Contribution: They say we all live to serve. That by helping others we fulfil our own destiny. Inherently, we all know that we have been designed to live for something greater than ourselves. Our contribution to this world has to be measured by something more meaningful than the size of our house or numbers of our cars. Our lives are going to find lasting significance in how we choose to live them, and how we enable others to live theirs. “Using your talent, hobby or profession in a way that makes you contribute with something good to this world is truly the way to go.” ~ Simon Zingerman

Personal fulfilment is an ongoing journey for all human beings. It is the achievement of life goals which are important to an individual, in contrast to the goals of society, family and other collective obligations. And helping others to find and fulfil their dreams is one of the key component of achieving our personal fulfilment.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, and to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

My intention of writing this article is to bring your focus on one thing today and that is one thing that people everywhere no matter in a café, restaurant, train station or at the airport, on street, or at work are trying very hard to do: to be happy

Most of us are doing everything we can do to make us happy. Happiness, however, comes in various shades none of which is permanent. But the point is that happiness is not absolute and it doesn’t depend on the object of our delight itself but on the state of our mind too. We take pleasure as long as we are not bored, and to avoid boredom, we socialize, shop, dine out, watch TV and do different things.  These activities are good, but they don’t make us better human beings. What I am Trying to say is that we have to embrace happiness when it comes our ways, but we don’t let it to be our ultimate goals in life. Otherwise, we are likely to find little growth, purpose, fulfilment in our lives. And we may find ourselves living solely for our own good rather than enriching the lives of others.  “What sets human beings apart from animals is not the pursuit of happiness, which occurs all across the natural world, but the pursuit of meaning, which is unique to humans” ~ Roy Baumeister

Life is short, the clock is ticking and before we know twenty, thirty, forty, fifty or more years of our lives have already gone. Maybe you are satisfied with how your life has turned out or maybe you want to do or be something more. Well, it’s never too late to start. To live a meaningful and fulfilling life, find out what matters most to you in this world and then choose to make an impact with it. “Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life’s deepest joy: true fulfilment” ~ Anthony Robbins

Helping others ignites happiness, as many studies have revealed. And by assisting and supporting others meet their needs, we help them to improve the quality of their life and have more meaningful and fulfilling life. Rather than living our lives on auto-pilot, we need to take control and seek opportunities in our lives that will add a new depth and sense of fulfilment to our lives.

“Never underestimate the difference YOU can make in the lives of others” ~  Pablo

Being Lonely

Being lonely and being alone are two different things. It is always unhealthy to be lonely, but sometimes it is healthy to be alone.

Millions and millions of people would undergo almost any torture if the suffering would alleviate this most pressing fear of being lonely. They will go to great lengths to overcome it.  They will see people whom they don’t really like, make themselves subservient to people who bore them, engage in activities which they would see otherwise as a waste of time.

Moreover, they will artificially try to overcome their feeling of loneliness by watching Television, listening to the radio, playing back the tape recorder. They may finally have to resort to eavesdropping on neighbour’s quarrels.

A number of organizations try to deal with this problem, bringing people together in social settings of one kind or another. How successful they are, I do not know. What I do know is the universality of this problem. Its conquest is far more important than that of Mount Everest or any other mountain peak; its conquest is, in my opinion, far more significant than the conquests of North and South Poles, or any past, present and future conquests of outer space.

First, let us define the word itself; what does being lonely mean? Being lonely means different things to people. Many people think of being lonely as being alone, in the physical sense; if one sits alone in his room, meditating, one is therefore lonely.

I disagree with this conception, the lonely person may rarely be physically by himself; he may spend most of his time with other people; he may never know what it means to spend an evening home, reading a book, knitting, or thinking.

The problem of loneliness is not one of being alone, it is one of feeling alone. It is the feeling cut off from others, it is the horrible feeling that separates one from the others, and that other people are walking around in a world alien to oneself.

“People think being alone makes you lonely, but I don’t think that’s true. Being surrounded by the wrong people is the loneliest thing in the world.” ― Kim Culbertson

Many people have confessed that they feel most alone in large crowds of people where feelings of genuine closeness are lacking. Cocktails, noise, loud music may be an insignificant camouflage when they hide the lack of real human contact, when they obscure the human need to make a meaningful connection with other people. “It’s better to be alone than being with someone who makes you feel alone”

On the other hand, Henry David Thoreau, the great American Philosopher, is the classic example of physical solitude without tortures of loneliness. He spent long periods of time writing, thinking, enjoying his feelings of living freely. “I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude” Henry David Thoreau

Henry James, the writer is another example, who remarked that although often alone, but he didn’t feel lonely. I knew a man like this, who was living in Iceland. His companions, mostly ice, snow and barren land, but he was cheerful. There was no prisons up there in the North and the boys who committed offenses against society were put under his supervision because he put them to work on farms fifty and one hundred miles away from his cabin, but he nevertheless helped them with his kindness and by instilling in them a sense of the dignity of manual labour. Many of these boys changed in basic ways and became good members of society.

Serving humanity as he did, this man felt a sense of self-esteem, a proud connection with other people, so that he didn’t feel lonely.

He enjoyed simple activities such as smoking his pipe or reading a book; when he saw his boys, he advised them quietly and listened to their reports of progress in their work and in their feelings. When he met other people, he would tell stories and enjoy their company.

But when he was alone, even for days at a time, he was never lonely. With not one other human being in sight, he was not lonely.

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be” Anne Frank

This is the way it should be with all people. And yet, as medical progress enables people to live longer lives and the world’s population increases, the problem of loneliness is more acute.

There are three agents which help healing loneliness. Awareness, Acceptance and Compassion, and here is how it works:

Awareness:  Embrace your feelings and choose to bring your awareness to your experience. It is vital, therefore, to learn to connect empathically to any painful, or unpleasant emotions such as the hollowness in your chest, the tightness in your throat, or the heaviness of your body. And if you feel an urge to cry, then allow yourself to cry freely.

Acceptance: Instead of running away from loneliness, choose to stay with it. Loneliness can cause feelings like abandonment, solitude, or isolation. Acknowledge when these emotions are triggered, and remember that they are only feelings not fact. Feelings can change quickly based on circumstances and attitudes. You may feel lonely one moment, and the next moment you may receive a phone call from a friend, relieving you from feeling lonely.

Compassion. Remind yourself that loneliness is a universal experience that affects every individual at one time or another. Being and feeling lonely is not shameful or humiliating; it is a part of everyone’s life at some point. And as you show compassion for a friend who suffers from being lonely, you would express compassion toward yourself, and toward others who may feel lonely around you.

“Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for” Dag Hammarskjold

Conquering Fear

Conquering fear doesn’t happen instantly or automatically. It is the result of deliberate intention, and conscious action towards doing things that scares you. As a result of overcoming your fears, you grow as a person, and expand the possibilities that surround your life.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by fear – so much so that it prevented you from doing something you wanted to do?  Believe it or not, this is a common problem faced by many people daily.

Fear has the power to hold you back from taking risks, following your dreams, or becoming successful at anything you attempt to do.  If you allow it to control you for long enough, it can eventually erode your quality of life and keep you locked in a prison of inactivity.

What many people fail to realize is that fear is nothing more than a conditioned response.  It’s a natural reaction to a frightening or unfamiliar situation.  While it is usually automatic, there are things you can do to overcome it.

1)  Check your expectations.

One major contributor of fear is the prevalence of negative expectations.  Do you usually find yourself expecting the worst in every situation?  Do you worry obsessively about what could go wrong, rather than focusing on your strengths and capabilities?

If you make a conscious effort to expect the best, see the positive side of each situation and keep reminding yourself that you can handle more than you often think, you’ll find yourself with much less fear to deal with.  Even if feelings of fear do manage to creep into your consciousness, you’ll still be able to keep them in perspective and balance them against an underlying sense of confidence. “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear” – Nelson Mandela

2)  Discredit your fears.

Experts will tell you that the majority of things you fear will never come to pass anyway.  While this may be true, it sure doesn’t feel that way when fear has a chokehold on you!  However, if you look a little more closely at your fears when they arise, you may be able to dismiss at least a few.

For example, if you have a fear of public speaking and your boss wants you to give a presentation at work, you might feel like your life (and perhaps your livelihood) is on the line.  You may fear getting fired, or worry that your colleagues will lose respect for you if you don’t do a good job.

But is any of this likely to happen?  In most cases, no.  Rather than worrying about what “might” happen if you don’t give a solid presentation, you might brainstorm ways to help improve your performance, such as being well prepared, practicing your delivery on friends and family members, writing notes to yourself and so on. . “When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

3)  Do the very thing you fear.

When you remember that fear is simply a feeling, it loses much of its power.  It can’t harm you and except in truly threatening situations you can choose to ignore it and move forward anyway.

If you weigh the pros and cons in any situation, you may decide that the possibility of negative consequences is minimal so there’s nothing to stop you from ignoring your fear and going for it!  This will be determined by you on a case by case basis, of course.  The point isn’t to become reckless with your decision-making but rather to empower yourself to know when a fear is groundless and easily overcome. Every time we face a fear we gain the three important qualities that Eleanor Roosevelt has mentioned in her quote: “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do” – Eleanor Roosevelt

4) Have faith.

When dealing with fear, it always helps to have faith that a higher power is watching over us. The most threatening fearful thought we experience is not one of inadequacy, but one that confirms the extent of our true spiritual power. We must free ourselves from our own fears in order to demonstrate love to others by helping them get free of their fears. “Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter” – Francis Chan

5) Practice Meditation.

Meditation changes the state of our mind’s affair by increasing the stability and strength of our attention. By meditating we can direct our attention away from fear and focus on the cycle of our breathing or the reassuring stability of the body at rest to help us connect with our own inner stillness and silence. These moments of peace and stillness are one way in which meditation can help us to overcome fear. We can eventually learn to intensify this ability to concentrate our minds so that during our meditation practice all of our attention is filled with the breath, or the mantra, or the prayer. This type of complete meditative absorption is deeply peaceful. In the moment of full absorption there is no room for the experience of fear. “As gold purified in a furnace loses its impurities and achieves its own true nature, the mind gets rid of the impurities of the attributes of delusion, attachment and purity through meditation and attains Reality” – Adi Shankara

How Do You Define Success?

How do you define success? Is it about wealth? Is it about power? Is it about happiness? Success means something different to every person, like beauty, it exists in the eye of the beholder. It depends on every one of us to determine what success means to us and do something to bring it forth into our lives.

The late Zig Ziglar, one of the most respected experts on success and motivation argues in his book Born to Win, that: “Success cannot be defined in one sentence, but instead it is comprised of many things. One could argue that the definition depends on the individual and one size does not fit all”.

Despite this, the successful people share attributes which don’t happen by accident or luck. They originate in habits, built a day at a time. What we have to remember is: If we live our lives, the same way as most people do, we will get what most people get. If we settle, what we are going to get is a settled life. But if we give ourselves our best, every day, our best will give back to us.

Here are the traits that the highly successful people cultivate:

  • Take responsibility for Your Life: You are totally responsible for your life. This is the foundation principle you must embrace if you plan for happiness and success in life and work. You have to stop blaming others for your failures, and take responsibility for your mistakes. No one can live your life for you. You are in charge. No matter how hard you try to blame others for the events of your life, each event is the result of choices you made and are making. “The moment you accept responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you gain the power to change anything in your life.” ~ Hal Elrod
  • Live Your Life On Purpose: What separates motivational and successful people from others is that they believe they’re doing what they were put here to do. Not living life on purpose consists of expending just enough effort to get by with the least amount of problem. But when you live life on purpose, you are aiming to be the best you can be. Being successful means finding a cause you believe in, building your business around it and contributing something to society. “If there is no passion in your life, then have you really lived? Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen FOR you, TO you and BECAUSE of you.” ~ T Alan Armstrong
  • Be Willing to Pay the Price for Your Success: Often times we get comfortable in the situation that we are in. Getting comfortable doesn’t mean that we like the situation that we are in, but it means that we get into a comfort zone. Our comfort zone is a place where we are used to the routine or familiarity of a situation, yet we don’t feel capable or want to do anything to make the necessary changes to get out of that situation.  There is always a price to pay for our achievements but in the long run we will reap the reward of peace, happiness and fulfilment. “There is a cost for everything that you want. Clothes, furniture, successful career, relationships. You or someone else has to pay for what you want.  Even the things that you get for free. Someone put time, money, their heart and effort into whatever you received”.
  • Stay Focused: We live in an age which our focus is on short-term gains and instant gratification. We want immediate results, even in areas which naturally take time. If we do not get success rapidly we move on to the next fad. In the long run most of us achieve little if anything at all. How do we avoid falling into the trap of short-termism and achieve the success we are longing for? The answer is to stay focused on our long term goals, and invest our energy and resources to achieve them, even when we see so many others going for the quick fix. Focusing requires giving up something in the present because we are investing our time in something that will pay off big-time down the road. Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. “You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” ~ Winston Churchill
  • Become an Expert in Your Field: One distinctive factor that all successful people have in common is their desire to be seen as an expert in their profession. Whether they’re administrative professional, a CEO, or a NASA engineer, expertise is something to strive for. So regardless of who you are or what you do, make the decision today to work at being the best in your field. How? By surrounding yourself with people who elevate you. By spending time with people who are experts in your field, you will naturally “catch” some of their wisdom, as expertise is contagious.
  • Never Give Up: “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” ~ Earl Nightingale. When you face an unexpected obstacle in life how do you respond? Do you give up, or do you keep pressing on? Successful people don’t give up. They commit themselves to reaching their final destination. They may not ever get there, but they don’t allow hurdles to prevent them from trying. This means continuing on despite failures and disappointments. When you’re fully committed to achieving your goal, giving up is not an option. You must be willing do whatever it takes to make it happen.
  • Create an Effective Action Plan: Many of us set goals, but not many of us create massive action plans to see those goals through to fruition. A powerful action plan take you from wherever you are right now directly to the accomplishment of your stated goal. With a well-designed plan, you can achieve virtually any goal you set out to accomplish. A goal that isn’t written down is merely a wish or fantasy, and is likely to stay that way.
  • Don’t Delay: “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.” ~ Harold Hill. Nobody knows how much time they have left to accomplish their dreams, and we must remember that we don’t have forever. Life is short. There is no degree for “Live your dreams.” You qualify yourself by showing up and working. You get permission by deciding. Successful achievers know this too, and they go after what they want as energetically and as passionately as possible, for as long as they have. “Don’t wait for tomorrow for something you could do today. Your future self will either thank you or shamefully defend you”.

Success can be defined in many ways. I believe we accomplish success when at the end of a day we can say…this was a good day. I look forward to doing it again tomorrow.

“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”

 

The Purpose of Life

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Throughout my life, I we all have untapped potential, perhaps even areas of genius, to become something entirely different, or somehow more than what we appear to be right now. Each of us has the ability to give contributions that will last longer than our lifespan. Some people have a clear vision of their purpose early on in life, it’s as if their path was laid out for them and they simply had to take the first step. But for some of us the vision is unclear and the path difficult to find. We find asking ourselves: Is this the life I was meant to live? Is this all there is?

“We have one precious life: do something extraordinary today, even if it’s tiny. A pebble starts the avalanche.” ~K.A. Laity

Let us not thinking that there is only one purpose for us and embrace the idea that our purpose in life is to love life fully by putting ourselves into our life! To lead a life on purpose, means to follow our passions and succeed in our dreams. It means that we make more of our talents and live up to our full potential. Whether our concept of success has to do with business, love, friendship, sports, a combination of these or something else, more fully developing our potential will help us to achieve our goals, and that is the purpose of life. If we can learn to assess our potential, set realistic goals, and go after those goals with determination, organization, using our potential more fully, gaining confidence, and be a happier and more successful person, then we will be able to achieve the purpose of our life.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

  • Claim Your Values: Values are the backbone of our life. We all have them, they are ingrained in us as our blood types or our preference for sweet or salty foods. I’m not talking about morals, which are defined by society. Values are who we are, not who we think we should be in order to fit in. If we don’t realize what’s important to us, we spend a lot of time wandering and wondering what we should be doing. There is tremendous power in discovering and living according to our highest values, and experiencing inner peace as the natural consequence. Sometime after evaluating our values, we realize that our urban lifestyle works against those values and leaves us disconnected and drained. Values serve as a compass so that, day after day, we’re moving closer and closer to our definition of the “best” life we could possibly live.
  • Find Your Passions: In this chaotic modern time, most people live in their head rather than their heart. Our heart is our best tool to access our true purpose and passion. “Passion and purpose go hand in hand. When you discover your purpose, you will normally find it’s something you are tremendously passionate about” ~ S. Pavlina. We have to ask ourselves, what we love and take steps to do what we love. When we are inspired and connected to our happy self, inspiration floods our hearts and souls. When we lead from our heart, we are naturally more joyful and motivated to explore. It could make all the difference in our life! If we don’t think we’re in the job that we were born to do, we won’t be able living up to our full potential and lead a life on purpose.
  • Identify Your Strengths: “To express the best of yourself in life and work, you must identify and channel your unique strengths.” If we want to live a life on purpose, we have to focus on our strengths and manage around our weaknesses. In order to recognize our strengths, we need other people to hold up a mirror. When we see our reflection through the eyes of those who know us well, then we begin to identify our most unique talents. When it comes to assessing our own strengths and talents, we’re full of blind spots. If we can see ourselves through the lenses of others, our vision will become less blurry
  • Find Yourself: “The intersection of your true values and super powers, backed with relentless passion, is where the magic happens.” ~ Scott Dinsmore. When we find where those three things intersect, and use it to service others, then we’ll find our purpose in life, and will be able to drive a life on that purpose. The key is to figure out how we can combine our passions and strengths to service to a cause, a person, a community, or an organization other than ourselves. Once we do that, our values will fall into place. Our purpose doesn’t have to be something BIG. The value of our impact on others and on the world has nothing to do with its scale. The fact is that in order for our world to function, we need people living and contributing at all kinds of different levels. “There are people for everything”. If we each could find and inhabit the sphere where we’re supposed to be, and contribute what we were made to contribute, what a beautiful world it would be!

There is a reason that we are all here in this world, and it is all about the discovery of our true Self. That very real part of us that is wanting to bring forth something so spectacular. If we are true to who we are, living our purpose and giving off our talents to the world around us, then we give back in service what you came to share with others – our spirit – our essence. The rewards for sharing our gifts with those close to us is indeed rewarding, much more if it were to be the eyes of a stranger who can appreciate what we have done to them.

“The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out what your purpose is.” ~ Mark Twain

Setting Goals

Setting goals is an important part of being human. Most people understand the importance of goals in living but are too harsh in their demands upon themselves. They feel that their goals are too insignificant, that their achievements will hardly be counted for anything if they are not able to end racial prejudice or the world poverty.

This is a mistake. While we might not be the president of United States, making decisions of global importance; or Richard Rodgers, working on a new musical which millions may see; we are individuals also, we too are made in GOD’s image, and endowed with a wonderful body; we too have mind, feelings, needs, aspirations. We too mean something, if we mean something to ourselves.

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score” ~ Bill Copeland

Often, we have trouble getting started with our goals, or we discover that achieving them is going to take more time and effort than we thought it would, and we start to lose our motivation. But we have to realize that living without having goals or plans to reach them, is like a ship which is set to sail with no destination.

“One of the secrets of life is to make stepping-stones out of stumbling blocks.” ~ Jack Penn

If you are a teen-ager, there is no shortage of goals for you. Mastering a skill, exploring an alien subject matter, hitting a baseball, making new friends, learning a popular dance. And within the span of these broad goals, you can pinpoint daily goals that are satisfying for you.

If you are in your twenties, thirties or forties, your broader goals may change in terms of specifics, but they are nonetheless potentially satisfying. You may be involved in enlarging your vocational scope, raising a family, managing money skilfully, learning hobbies, from day to day, you may aim at achievements within framework of these larger goals, or spontaneously which are fun. You should think in terms of daily goals too, not just life goals.

If you are older, cooking a good meal for yourself and your spouse is a fine goal; it may be commonplace, but it is productive. You give him or her satisfaction with your labour and the more creatively you work with your ingredients, the more pleasure you give him (her) and yourself. Painting a picture may give many people days of enjoyment, even weeks. Mixing the paints, organizing your materials, brushing on your colours, shading and shaping for subtle effects. It is not Rembrandt? That is not the point. Are you putting the best you have into your picture? Would you like to frame it and hang it in your living room? It is more important to you than the next flight into outer space. And it should be. “Life’s blows cannot break a person whose spirit is warmed by the fire of enthusiasm.” ~Norman Vincent Peale

You must not block yourself off from your goals, and you must move every day, feel a sense of direction toward a goal every day, no matter how small that goal might be. You keep moving in the streams of things, doing the best you can. And if you have no goal, you keep moving anyway, and a goal will catch up with you. Your sense of direction is forward.

The reality is that no matter how smart we may be, we cannot predict the future. Things are moving so fast and we’re so interconnected that it is impossible to predict where we’ll end up five years from now. We just don’t know. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because we will not be basing our choice of direction based on a forecast that’s likely to be wrong. By recognizing and accepting the unpredictable nature of life, we can stop over-thinking and over-analysing and start living more in the present moment. This helps us to open our mind up to new areas of possibilities and conquering the limitations which we have imposed on ourselves. You’ll be making your choice on what’s really important to you, right here and right now, not tomorrow.

GOD didn’t put you on this earth to languish in misery; He gave you the success impulses which you have to use them. If you have problems, if you meet obstacles, then you are just like most people. Most of us are familiar with the life of Hellen Keller, who overcame staggering physical handicaps to rise to her incredible achievements. You may not know that Florence Nightingale, the famed nurse, was a confirmed hypochondriac whose services of mercy involved convincing herself first that she was not dying.

The biggest difference between successful people and others isn’t intelligence or opportunity or resources. It’s the belief that they can make their goals happen. We all deal with vulnerability, uncertainty, and failure, but we have to trust that if we move forward anyway, then we will figure it out. “When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.” ~ Honore de Balzac

If you learn to believe in yourself, and do what you want to do, your accomplishments may amaze you.  Remember that by moving forward and taking small steps each and every day, putting aside over-thinking, and realizing that you have everything you need deep within, you can find the right direction in your life. And while it may not be the direction you expected, it will work out just fine.

Now set goals and make them happen, and when you reach your goals take time to enjoy them and thank those that helped you. Think about what you enjoyed and learned along the way. Life is a learning process! Keep your spirit up and be the best of yourself.

“Every day you spend drifting away from your goals is a waste not only of that day, but also of the additional day it takes to regain lost ground” ~ Ralph Marston

 

Building Self Confidence

Building self confidence involves encouraging a positive but realistic attitude toward yourself and the world around you and appreciating your worth, while at the same time behaving responsibly towards others.

“Self confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings” Samuel Johnson

The confidence one has in himself, the way he sees himself down deep, is fundamental in his adjustment to himself and the world he lives in. My aim in writing this article is to help you strengthen this self confidence so that you will tackle your life situations healthfully, without allowing prejudice against yourself to eat his way into your mind.

“Self confidence is a learnable skill, like typing or riding a bicycle. You develop it with practice” Brian Tracy

There is a story about the great Michelangelo. Working in a stone quarry in Italy, the great sculptor was overjoyed at the sight of a huge, oblong block of stones. He touched it. Within it he saw the spirit of Moses. After many, many hours of working on the stone, chipping it, shaping it, he brought forth his great work of art, his great creation of Moses and the Ten Commandments.

Now may I ask you to be your own sculptors, your tools compassion and understanding, so that you can see in your mind’s eye the best that is in you, as Michelangelo pictured Moses, so that you can work to make and keep this best image of yourself as a reality. For your self image and how you value yourself is closely linked with your self-esteem and self confidence.

“Don’t be your own worst critic.  Be your own best coach.  Learn from your mistakes, but encourage yourself to new heights. Each time you fall down, be the first to pick yourself up.  Confidence is a habit you can grow.  The seeds are the thoughts and beliefs that empower you to take action.”

It is your self confidence, which, more than anything, can guide you to years of dynamic living. If you give yourself acceptance, if you see your success and try to perpetuate them, if you believe in your capability, life will hold no great fears for you, and you will remain in the mainstream of life, doing, feeling, relating, connecting.

“Building self confidence is like building muscle, you start with basic structure and then you bund on it”

You can think of confidence as a muscle, then pay attention to all the chances you get to flex it throughout your day.  It even starts with how you get out of bed.  If you don’t think of yourself as confident, then act “as if” and gradually you’ll find your groove.

Keep in mind that while competence breeds competence, confidence comes first – you have to believe to achieve.  Above all, don’t anchor your confidence on external people or things.  Flow it from the inside out, starting with your own belief in you.

I offer you the Ten Commandments for a purposeful and creative living: C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-C-E:

  • C: Concentrate on a stronger self image.
  • O: Offer it full partnership in your life.
  • N: Never let it disappear; you must work to reinforce your sense of self.
  • F: Fulfil yourself with your self image; it is your best friend.
  • I: Infuse your self image with compassion when you meet setbacks.
  • D: Develop it every day; only your true sense of self can make you strong.
  • E: Elevate yourself with your self image so that you need not fear competition.
  • N: Nourish it; don’t let a false sense of selflessness convince you that it is not basic to your happiness.
  • C: Create a climate in which it can grow; spend time every day thinking, with humility, about yourself and your world.
  • E: Enjoy it; continually reactivate the success instincts, the success mechanism, within you.

“Self-improvement without self-love is like building a house upon sand. You can build and build, but it will always sink” Vironika Tugaleva

Remember this: Only you, with the self confidence you build in yourself, in your mind, and which you carry with you into life, in your mind, can create giving relationships with people, productive relationships in the world of work and interests, which can make your years bubble with life.

Confidence implies forgiveness. You feel too big to be threatened, too self-reliant, too nimble at relaxing away emotional hurts. So you are able to forgive.

You forgive others with no strings attached, a clean slate, and no vestige of condemnation. A difficult task, but you can do it.

And you forgive yourself as you forgive others. For forgiveness is but another reflection of confidence, instant confidence.

As you go through the process of improving your self-image and increasing your self confidence, try to think of yourself as a separate person. Picture yourself as a stranger who is on a path toward positive change. Be sure to celebrate this person’s accomplishments.

“Whatever we expect with confidence becomes our own self-fulfilling prophecy” Brian Tracy

Active Living

Active Living is about getting more out of life by giving more of yourself every day. Having lived by this philosophy for as long as I can remember, I know firsthand how life changing it can be. We all have the power to live a life that we love, and achieve amazing things.

“We become happier, much happier, when we realize life is an opportunity rather than an obligation” ~ Mary Augustine

How do you spend your day? The minutes and hours that tick away on your wristwatch, are they your opportunities or your burden? Or do you move towards life activities, eager seeking new adventures, mastering new concepts, and understanding more about human fellows? Time move too fast for you, you can’t get minutes and hours to embrace your interests in the world.

“Life” is a misleading word because people do so many things with it. The person who frets in self-pity and vegetates while others pass him by is half alive. If you are like this, don’t be ashamed, you have millions and millions of people for company. But realize that you must try to change so that you have a chance to know what happiness is. “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” ~ Wayne Dyer

For there is happiness, there is power in life activities. There is joy and strength in moving forward, toward other people, toward the processes around which civilization has festered its approval or its permissiveness. When you wake up in the morning, you must alert yourself to the day ahead, to the possibilities for joyful living that the coming hours will bring if you use them fully. The things you do during this day may not shake the world, but they may make your world.

Unfortunately, however many people are passive to life and they withdraw from its pleasures. It is this, the moving away from life attitude that must be reversed; it is this rejection of people’s creative potentials that must be exposed as absurd.

When you want to, go fishing and salute the sunshine, but actively not passively, otherwise even the fish will say, “I won’t bite”. Can’t you move about a little more?

Let us first talk about the hysterical flight from work at about five o’clock each day, a flight as urgent as one from an approaching hurricane or from a Marine invasion. Is work such an affliction? Many people these days seem to think so. Work is like an alarm clock to them; they are clock watchers who cannot wait for the signal to get away. I really disagree with this concept. I think that productive work is one of the true goods of life; when you work productively, you manufacture more than money, you also manufacture a sense of self-esteem for yourself. Thomas Carlyle, the Scottish essayist-historian wrote: “Blessed is who has found his work; let him ask no other blessedness… Even in the meanest sorts of Labour, the whole soul of a man is composed into a kind of real harmony the instant he sets himself to work.” I agree with his opinion as I have seen people functioning harmoniously in the world of work whose souls perished once they lost or gave up their jobs.

It is true that some people work at jobs ill-suited to them; their work is enslavement because they do not enjoy it.  They work only for money. They do not feel the exultation of a person who pours his most productive powers into his work.

If this is your situation, you must think about remedying it because your chances for a creative living are slim if you feel dead in your work. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” ~ Steve Jobs

May be you haven’t given your job the attention it deserves. May be you haven’t opened your eyes completely to the potentialities around you. May be you are not aware of the fact that you, not the job, might be at fault. Try to remember that in many instances, you create the opportunity, not your job.

If your job is at fault, then you have to try to find another line of work if you can. Even a small cut in pay may be worthwhile if you are able to switch to work which makes you feel more alive. If it is impossible you may convert your work productivity in enriching hobbies. Never withdraw from productive work into sluggishness. You are a human being, not a mattress, and you should utilize your human resources all your life to attain a feeling of completeness. “Never continue in a job you don’t enjoy. If you’re happy in what you’re doing, you’ll like yourself, you’ll have inner peace. And if you have that, along with physical health, you will have had more success than you could possibly have imagined.” ~ Johnny Carson

Your Time Is Yours to Enjoy:

When you finish work you have the gift of time, but what will you do with this gift? Chances are that your hours are shorter than they used to be, even if you are a house wife, so you still have more time to enjoy yourself.

But you may say, “I don’t know what to do with my time”. This is a terrible problem, or I should say that, time is not the problem, you are the problem. You have to realize this and do something about it. Sometimes a small child in a fit of temper might destroy a genuinely loved object, but if you are reading this article, I assume that you are not a small child, and your period of experimentation is over. You must now know what you are doing. You have tools at your command. One is wisdom, the same values gained from your years of living. Surely you can see the preciousness of your free time. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of”. You must learn to use this life-stuff, to fill it with active living, not with boredom, apathy, resignation. Would you empty your wallet or pocketbook into a trash can? Then why throw away time, which is also valuable? You must use your time energetically, productively, to enhance your feeling of true participation in and enjoyment of the life process.

You must realize that leisure time is just as important as work time. You are a whole person not a working machine, and you and you alone have the opportunity within you to keep yourself whole. Leisure time may mean many things – sport, painting, cooking, card games, gardening and a lot of other activities. You must realize that leisure belongs to you, like your eyes, your heart, take it. You must find one aspect of leisure which will help you reach self-fulfilment. Take a look at yourself in the mirror, ask yourself, who you are and what you are doing with yourself. This self-confrontation needs an answer. You can’t be on the fence of indecision. Once you honestly make a response, you will find the activities that will make you happy.  Once you find the activity which makes you happy, then play it to the full. Concentrate creativity on the activity. When you play tennis, play tennis. When you are gardening, garden as if it is for the moment the most important thing in your life. Concentration doesn’t mean exhausting yourself with too many activities. Choose one, and master that, then move on to another. You will find great satisfaction from these leisure-time activities, which you have made them a part of your new creative life.

“There is no passion to be found playing small–in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” ~ Nelson Mandela

 

Finding Inner Peace

Finding inner peace is the path of letting go, even though, the path could be as hard or simple as a person makes the journey of self acceptance.

 “He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe” ~ Marcus Aurelius

There are always many ups and downs in every one’s life. Sometimes we get stuck in a world of confusion, wondering how we find a constant inner peace in our hearts and lives, when there is always something wrong in our lives or the lives of those we love.

What happens when we start to feel down or stressed?

First of all some kind of negative thought comes into our mind that gets us discouraged and anxious. The next thing that happens, is that we start believing in that thought. And feeding it with more arguments, which in turn gets us into a deeper state of confusion and sadness. Next thing we know, we find ourselves, there in that deep mud hole. We look around and all is doom and gloom.

What can we do so that this does not even happen?

  • Accept what is: Life is unpredictable. Nothing is permanent, everything changes; and of course, a lot of things can happen that will transform who we are and have an impact on our life. The problem is that we need to be prepared to truly accept whatever comes and embrace it. This is what I have noticed with so many people, in that we focus and linger on things which we have no control over. Why worry about something that all the worrying in the world will not change? Why care about what other people think of us when we’re not even sure what it is they are actually thinking? Yes, acceptance is a choice—a hard one most definitely, but a choice nonetheless. By practicing acceptance we learn to live in this changing world, where we never know what’s going to happen next. Acceptance is like protecting ourselves with our own shields.” You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Spend time in nature: Nature calls you back to reality. We can’t stop it from raining. We can’t delay the setting sun. We can’t set the temperature to a comfortable degree. When we are climbing a mountain, our muscles are going to burn. But with this surrender comes such relief! We awake from a dream and realize how little control we really have. We remember that hardship and lack of control are part of life, and accepting this reality makes it not only bearable, but possible to feel the joy of being alive. By being in nature we feel comfortable in our own skin, we experience our own quiet peace and strength, we sense the inner us that is the true us. The mask we present to the outer world is irrelevant for a time, and put in its proper place. Nature helps us to connect with this powerful, loving presence, whether we call it GOD, Earth Mother, the Great Mystery or any another name. Nature brings us closer to GOD, our own spirit and helps us to live lives of meaning and joy. “The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” ~ Anne Frank
  • Learn the power of a smile: A smile is a powerful key to living happy from the inside out. The simple act of smiling sends a message to your brain that you’re happy. And when you’re happy, your body pumps out all kinds of feel-good endorphins. Smiles are powerful and contagious. Don’t hesitate to smile warmly at friends, family, colleagues and even strangers. Never stop smiling! God smiles on us each and every day. His love has no depth, his mercy no end. His arms are open wide, just step into them. “Smile and the world will smile with you.” 
  • Choose to help others: Care for others genuinely around you. What you put out, you really get back in life. Being caring allows us to have empathy for others and to live a life based on affection, love, and compassion for the people around us. When we make a positive impact in someone else’s life, we also make a positive impact in our own lives. Any act of kindness and goodwill eases our way towards inner peace. When we start helping others, we stop thinking about our so-called problems and then we realize that our life is not so bad after all. Do something that’s greater than you – something that helps someone else to be happy or to suffer less. “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” ~ Charles Dicken
  • Never lose hope: Never give up. Never lose hope. Always have faith, it allows you to cope better during the trying times. Having hope is a personal decision, a bold conviction—a choice, and with hope we always have a path towards peace. Having hope is an active, decisive mindset etched into every single moment. No matter the haze and fog that clouds our vision, hope’s laser cuts through, and never losing sight of her shimmering stars. Hope is something we can never afford to lose  Who we really are is based on values we choose to live by, such as believing in the possible, believing in the goodness of others, and believing in the power of love and hope. When we decide to passionately pursue our greatest purpose, then we become the hope in our lives and manifest her greatest dreams, because we refuse to consider any other possibility. As Henry James put it, “Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.”
  • Embrace your beliefs: I am not here to favour any belief system over another, but whatever it is that you are believing in, hold it closely in your arms, accept it willingly and enthusiastically, as by being within your faith, peace will find its way into your heart. We all might have different opinion in regards to our belief systems, but one thing that we all have to acknowledge is that without a healthy and solid belief system, we won’t be able to find a fair conscience which could show us the way towards peace and wisdom“Faith is universal. Our specific methods for understanding it are arbitrary. In the   end we are all just searching for truth, that which is greater than ourselves.” ~ Dan Brown 
  • Live in the present moment: When we live fully in the present moment, our awareness becomes completely centred on the here and now. We won’t worry about the future or thinking about the past. How often have you been worrying about things that have yet to come, or how often have you been beating yourself for mistakes that you’ve made, no matter how much time has passed? Too much time, I believe. Not only living in present moment has a significant effect on our emotional health, but also it has a great impact on our physical wellbeing. By living in present moment we live in acceptance; we accept life the way it is, not the way we wish, it should have been. And when we live in acceptance, we realize that everything is complete as it is. We can forgive ourselves for the mistakes we’ve made, and we can have peace in our hearts knowing that everything that should happen will. “If you worry about what might be, and wonder what might have been, you will ignore what is.”

Finding inner peace is not a simple or short path, but it is a process that we can all learn. It is a journey which needs to be appreciated every step of the way. We have to be willing to let go and step outside the box that we have accepted ourselves to be put into, in the first place and start from scratch. We have to be ready getting to know ourselves all over again and be willing to make mistakes. And most importantly, we have to realize that only we have control over our emotional responses and reactions and they can be changed for the better. And finally when serenity and unconditional love fill our hearts, we will accept that we cannot go back, and will not give up what we have now found, that peace that we seem to have been searching for our whole lives. “Remember, the entrance door to the sanctuary is inside you.” ~ Rumi