Do You Truly Practice the Meaning of Friendship?

Do you truly practice the meaning of friendship? What is a friendship? The philosopher Aristotle said, “In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. They keep the young out of mischief; they comfort and aid the old in their weakness, and they incite those in the prime of life to noble deeds.”

Friendship necessitates an inquiring mind; for others and for ourselves. This does not involve sticking our nose into someone else’s business or forcing our opinions on others.

It means the creative use of the imagination, not the destructive abuse of it. It is the eye of a healthy self image, the soul of friendship. It takes inspired imagination to help others.

Rich imagination is not an exclusive gift of geniuses. It is potentially in all of us. If, daily, you long to improve yourself, to use your creative powers, you will seek enriching ideas in your mind; and you will find them. Perhaps you will share them in friendship.

Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity” ~ Khalil Gibran

Each day resolve, in your imagination, to be a good friend. What can you do for those who you like? What can you say to communicate your brotherly feeling? Put yourself in the other fellow’s shoes; what consideration would he appreciate? “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” ~ Confucius

The practice of friendship is the practice of eloquence; this eloquence needs no words since it implies an understanding of your fellow man. There is eloquence in the performance of a friendly act, done impulsively, without thought of a reward. There is eloquence in a brotherly fellow-feeling, a fellow-feeling of identification, of sharing the human condition. There is eloquence in meeting others halfway, perhaps more than halfway.

“Friendship is like a garden. It is beautiful when it is watered and tended to with love, care, hugs, tears and cheers, but it will be withered up and die if left untouched.”

The ability to practice friendship does not belong to a few; it belongs to all of us, if we but make it one of our daily goals. Friendship requires the highest degree of courage. This is not often recognized, but it is nonetheless true. A good friend must be a courageous person.

We consider a man courageous when he risks his life cutting his way through snake or crocodile infested forests. We consider courageous the fireman who plunges through smoke to save a child’s life or the policeman who pursues a dangerous, armed criminal.

These are acts of bravery; some are also actions for the benefit of the community. These people are heroes of our civilization, protectors of civilized life, who rise up in times of crisis.

Yet courageous does not require an apparent crisis. One can be brave during the ordinary twenty-four hour day with no blatant dangers, but with variety of small dangers lurking behind the minutes. It takes real courage to attain the stature of friend to your brothers and sisters on earth. You show courage when you meet life every day with self-control. You do not attack a man for the colour of his skin, the size of his noise, his values and beliefs, or if he is more convincing in an argument than you are. You fight off, conceit, malice, and disdain; you refuse to find fault with others to support your own sense of inadequacy. “We were all humans until race disconnected us, religion separated us, politics divided us, and wealth classified us”

Friendship means we must courageously move toward our fellow men, not retreat from them as in passive living. Friendship forbids indifference toward others. It means that we stand up and fight not only for our beliefs but the beliefs of others. Only a brave can enter into such demanding relationship as these. “A true friend unbosoms freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably.” ~ William Penn

Let your energy flow away from yourself to others less fortunate, helping them willingly with your compassionate hands. Have the courage to keep moving toward life, toward people, in spite of problems, frustrations, defeats. Be strong enough to give to others in a spirit of equality. Be determined enough so that you can overcome your negative feelings; if you can’t, you will not be a friend to yourself or to others. Friendship is a reaffirmation of the life instincts; it is the personification of fighting life force.

Friendship is an exciting voyage of discovery of the good in yourself and in others. It is a daily search that never ends, a search for giving in yourself and in others; a full time job.

“Shine your soul with the same egoless humility as the rainbow and no matter where you go in this world or the next, love will find you, attend you, and bless you.” ~ Aberjhani

Enjoy Life to the Fullest

Enjoy life to the fullest, it has an expiration date. Life today should mean pleasure, but our modern concept of living is often just the reverse; negative in concept and implying the resignation of one’s self image. Modern living often means abandoning satisfaction because of a phantom called “twentieth-century anxieties”.

“Rejoice while you are alive; enjoy the day; live life to the fullest; make the most of what you have. It is later than you think.” ~Horace

Life should be a happy vocation. People should be useful to themselves and to others. Pleasure must be part of us; like our heart, our eyes, our hands, and our feet. It should know no race, no creed, no colour, no status, no age. The good feelings to life belong to us and there is no moral aspect to it except that it is immoral for people to fester in unhappiness.  “Live life to the fullest because you only get to live once”.

By forgetting the mistakes of the past, you can live each day to the full.  You can find pleasure in working, in living, in friendship, and every other aspects of your life, if you feel that you have a right to enjoy yourself. I am not a great believer in sin, but if there is sin, it is for people who sit around, finding fault with themselves for the mistakes they have made; mistakes which are only human.  “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing” ~George Bernard Shaw

There are so many people who waste the wonderful power of their imaginations and torturing themselves with their past blunders. It is sad but true that many of us who blame ourselves so severely have in reality lead lives characterized by hard effort and a constant attempt to be decent human beings; yet we give ourselves no rights.

When we criticize ourselves, we deny ourselves pleasure. Yet we have the right to feel free of fear, to feel free of guilt; to feel pleasure. In order to enjoy our lives to the fullest we have to find resolution within our minds to be happy. It is a victory of one’s positive thinking-imagining forces over negative thinking-imagining forces. We prepare ourselves to enjoy our lives as we strengthen our images of ourselves each day. We live vitally, allowing ourselves pleasure because we feel that we deserve it. “I have decided that no matter what is happening in my life, I will choose to be happy! Not because everything is perfect, but because I deserve it”.

Through strengthening your self image, through seeing yourself at your best, through encouraging your success instincts, you can create pleasure for yourself. But the unfortunate fact is that many people do not feel that it would be fair for them to be happy. They do not feel they deserve it, and they use rationalizations to explain their misery:

If only they had money…..

If not for that financial catastrophe……..

If that accident hadn’t happened…….

If not for that childhood disease which only they had contracted……

A tragic event from the past is dredged up and used to explain all the pain, all the lack of their pleasure in life. But what they don’t realize is that everyone knows tragedy, everyone knows pain; fate didn’t single them out for punishment. Successful, happy people know pain, too, but they just keep pushing forward through pain to pleasure. “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning to dance in the rain”.

Imagine a man sits at his desk; he is an executive for a large company. His desk is full of menus, letters, contracts, and other papers. Two lights on the side of his telephone flicker on and off, indicating people waiting to talk to him. He is in conference with two men who sit, waiting for his attention. He looks at his appointment book and notes that another vital conference is set for this day, and he must devote a few hours to a project which is behind schedule, and also he must dictate letters to A, B, C,….

The enormity of these pressures might overwhelm many of us. “It is too much for us” we’d say. But not this man. He feels pleasure and he enjoys doing it. He refuses to let a daunting imagination ruin his effectiveness. Instead he sees in his mind the successes that his day will bring. He Turns warmly to his visitors, listens attentively, does his best to respond to their needs and demands. He answers the phone, and getting to the heart of communicating instantly, returns to his visitors. He tells them what action he intends to take on the matters under discussion, dictates a message into a machine, turns back to them to ask if they are happy with his decisions. They are, and he ushers them to the door, shaking hands warmly. Nothing phony, simple pleasure in a direct, effective moving toward goals. This man projects his imaginations into action in a positive way. He accepts his right to feel happy and be successful. Many people fill their minds with destructive, depressing thoughts; and pleasure is caught in a squeeze in which it is crushed. They worry about disasters that never or rarely happen. The feelings of happiness and satisfaction from their work are not tolerated, and they obviously cannot function in the successful way that this executive does. They do not enjoy their work; they do not enjoy their life either. “We call pleasure the alpha and omega of a blessed life. Pleasure is our first and kindred good” ~ Epicurus

We must enjoy our lives to the fullest. We can feel pleasure in our every day of living. We can sing in the shower and feel musical thoughts in our minds and generosity in our hearts. It is a question, basically, of what we will allow ourselves. We must not block the attainment of our legitimate satisfactions. No years can be creative if we deny ourselves the principle of happiness and enjoying our lives to the fullest.

“If you think positive, any sound becomes music, any move becomes dance, any smiles becomes laughter, and the entire life becomes a huge celebration. So always think positive and live your life happy to its fullest”

Continuous Personal Growth

Continuous personal growth involves a lifelong of reflecting, connecting, and learning which enhance our understanding of who we are, the world around us, and provide us with more and better opportunities to improve our quality of life.

To be able to improve we have to accept that something about us needs to be changed, and when we are ready to unlock the perceptions that we have created over the years, then we can start living a joyous life of change and growth.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” ~Marcel Proust

As we go through life, our main attention is usually on external world and the material possessions, but the reality is that the most important thing that we have to focus our energy on, is the development of self into the person we want to become. And when we achieve a real connection to our authentic self and realize our true purpose, all the external achievements and successes will pursue anyway.

“Personal development is your springboard to personal excellence. On-going, continuous, nonstop personal development literally assures you that there is no limit to what you can accomplish.” ~ Brian Tracy

Over the years, I have learned to practice and focus my energy on the proven track of actions and beliefs that had helped me to improve the quality of my life and the state of my mind.

Here are the strategies that have worked well for me . . .

  • Be present: The method for being present is really simple, but it needs practice. When we practice something regularly, we become good at it. It becomes like a mode of being rather than a task on our to-do list. Whatever you’re doing, at any time, learn to focus completely on doing that one thing. Pay attention to every aspect of what you’re doing, to your body, to the sensations, to your thoughts. It might become tiring at the beginning, if you’re not used to it. Let yourself rest if you grow tired and come back and practice it again. After a while you realize how your worries fade away and you enjoy your present task much more. When we learn to be joyful in whatever we’re doing, grateful that we’re able to do that task, and appreciate every movement and sensation of the task, then we become aware that anything can be an amazing experience, anything can be a miracle. ‘Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.’ ~ Thich Nhat Hahn
  • Stop seeking approval from others: When we have a need for approval we value the beliefs and opinions of others above our own, it becomes addictive and we can quickly develop a need for more. Once we stop worrying about how other people would think of us, how our decisions might disappoint others, or how they might judge us, we become free to be fully authentic selves. The biggest irony with approval-seeking behaviour is that it usually causes the opposite results to those which are intended. If you take a moment to observe those people whom you respect most, you will find that one of their strongest traits is their ability to be true to who they are. There is usually so much pressure from society, peers and media to conform to certain standards and ideals. But if we are led through life always and only really doing and being what we’ve come to believe is ‘expected of us’, then, in a way, we cease to exist, to live, and be real. When you cease being worried about people’s disapprovement of you, a whole new world of personal possibility opens before you.
  • Reflect on Transformational Moments: We all have critical and determining moments in our lives. We come to a fork in our life, and we make a choice that will affect everything since. Once the choice is made, we can never withdraw and start over again because circumstances and people involved change. Words have been said, lives affected and these can never return to the original form. Looking back on those focal points in our past is a great way to look at how far we’ve come, and to discover where we want to be in the future. Always evaluate your options, and consider how they will affect your principles and values. Each one of us has a set of values that define who we are. If one option has you compromise your values, no matter how profitable it may be, it will not be worth the risk. There are a number of people who have reflected, after picking a fork in their road, “There was just something that didn’t feel right, but I did it anyway.” If it doesn’t feel right, you can’t force it to be right. “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest” ~ Confucius
  • Move past failure: “The major difference between achieving people and average people is their perception of and response to failure” ~John C. Failure is a part of testing the limits of what we know, and it’s an opportunity to learn how to take that next step forward. The truth is that when we experience failure, we’re growing, stretching, and expanding. Each setback, whether small or large is an opportunity for growth. When we change our perception toward failure, then we will be able to use it as stepping-stone to success instead of a stumbling block. But first we have to acknowledge it. Our initial tendency is often to blame others or some uncontrollable, external factors. But rarely are the failures in our lives entirely the responsibility of someone else. And until we take personal responsibility in some capacity, we can never move on to the next step. After we accepted our failure, then we can look back at them as simply feedback that can take us to another level of awareness. “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” ~ Napoleon Hill’
  • Teach, and learn by teaching: “The beautiful thing about teaching is that our legacy is defined in what we give and empower others to do, not only in what we do ourselves”. Wisdom is understanding where we have been, and how we got to where we are now. All of us have experiences and wisdom worth sharing with others. One of the best way of personal growth and change is to listen to other people’s experiences and sharing ours. Have you ever helped a friend through a difficult time and then you became aware that you feel better and happier? Our most lasting and fulfilling achievements in life are often earned by helping others fulfil theirs. As if when we help, encourage, and enable others to reach their dreams, we can also achieve our dreams along the way. Giving and helping others is a powerful pathway to personal growth and lasting happiness. And it may just be the secret to living a life that is not only happier but also healthier, wealthier, more productive, and meaningful. “Making the conscious commitment to empower yourself by directing your thoughts, energy and focus toward what you most want and the goals you need to achieve is the first step towards creating an extraordinary life.” ~ Tony Robbins

 

Creative Living

Creative living starts when people realize that by setting purposeful goals and make it a daily habit to achieve them, their lives will have meaning. They must learn that life is more than a succession of twenty four hours of nothingness. The major enemy of creative living is the passive scheme that people fall into, believing that they are meaningless particles in a huge world. And as a result, they become “watchers” in a world that passes them by.

“If we fail to nourish our souls, they wither, and without soul, life ceases to have meaning…. The creative process shrivels in the absence of continual dialogue with the soul. And creativity is what makes life worth living.” ~ Marion Woodman

Just as we get into habit of doing things without questioning ― buttoning a shirt, brushing our teeth, washing the dishes ― so we tend to adopt culturally stereotyped ways of thinking without making a real individual selection. Often we may uncritically accept patterns of thought which do not make real sense.

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong” ~ Joseph Chilton Pearce

About creative living for example, I believe that most people believe it is silly to devote time to thinking about creative living. They are of the opinion that One’s life pattern is either dynamic or static; and planning will not help. I disagree. I believe, firmly, that sound planning plants the seeds of rich, dynamic and fulfilling living.

In rising above the animal state, man increasingly has used planning to achieve the goals he values, most of which are not spur-of-the-moment accomplishments.

“You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win” ~ Zig Ziglar

The forty two year doctor, with his comfortable practice, will have figured out his lifework perhaps in his early teens, as a high school student.

The lawyer and the physicist, too, doing work they like and receiving rewarding pay for their efforts, paved the way for their successes with similar planning.

The incomparable inventor Thomas Edison, was experimenting with his mechanical environment when he was six years old. Many of our timeless entertainers, such as Donald O’Connor, performed as children and enlarged their talents through experience and experimentation.

When you are in high school, in college, starting your first job, raising your children, building your career, cultivating your mature ideas, visiting your grandchildren ― during these years, you should be going beyond your function, always looking to fill your years with life. The essential ingredient in your plans must be the development of your belief in yourself as a human being in the world, not outside it, living each day fully, not fleeing in fear from the demand of life.

The search from childhood to old age is the search for a healthy self image. Fearful of approaching the threshold of adult life, we search for it during adolescence. We seek to strengthen it during adult life and spend a lifetime in this pursuit ― if we are wise and if we do not lose it in paying homage to false gods and worthless values. If we are sensible, we continue to build on it during our later years instead of finding the easy way out in a passive withdrawal from life.

We have to realize that we must live fully today. We must understand that each day is a lifetime to be lived now and that the mistakes of yesterday must be left in the tomb of time.” When your past calls, don’t answer. It has nothing new to say”. The young become mature and the mature become young when they learn to deal with negative feelings and to rise through them to their full recognition of themselves as adequate human beings. We must learn to accept ourselves now in realistic terms. I do not mean that we should constantly tell ourselves how wonderful we are, or how much we are better than anyone else, as this is a narcissistic process of going away from oneself into a world of fantasy. Our estimate of ourselves must be valid and must take into consideration our fellows around us; aspiring to see ourselves in our best moments and trying to prolong and extend these moments. We must also honestly see our weaknesses and be compassionate toward them, as we would be compassionate toward the weaknesses of a loved friend. “It is a beautiful experience being with ourselves at a level of complete acceptance. When that begins to happen, when you give up resistance and needing to be perfect, a peace will come over you as you have never known.”

My point is that we must, at as early age as possible, feel good enough about ourselves so that we need not run away from life. We must get into the habit of accepting ourselves, in the world, in life, without retreat, even if we find no perfection.

If we truly accept ourselves and the world we live in, we are laying the groundwork for a creative, and dynamic living. This is the only solid base for real living.

When you know yourself you are empowered. When you accept yourself you are invincible. ~ Tina Lifford

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