Seeking What Makes Us Feel Calm & Confident

I was thinking today about how it feels to be continually thrown off balance. To be provoked and manipulated by others, especially those that are harder-to-handle.  I was wondering how it is we can become reactive to every annoying thing that is thrown our way and what we need to do to remain composed in the face of unreasonableness. How we can train ourselves to cultivate an inner calm beyond meditation. How we can feel more centered and even more balanced, maybe top that off with a deeper faith and confidence in ourselves and humanity, and ultimately feel downright comfortable in our own skin.
When you are truly comfortable in your own skin, not everyone will like you, but you won’t care about it one bit. 
All day today, I thought about what makes us feel that we are all right with the world. What connects us with the wiser part of ourselves and what activities bring us the necessary strength to deal with the chaotic and the craziness that every day daily living can conjure up.  I look at these activities as the stamps in our passports to getting our own power back.
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They are the things we do to help strengthen us and stay balanced when life knocks us around. When we are beaten and busted and feeling agitated and disgusted. When we are overwhelmingly frustrated.
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A part of seeking what makes us feel strong is deciding the places and spaces and situations we put ourselves in order to build back that serenity and peace and stillness that keeps us sane.
I believe it is our responsibility to seek what makes us strong. I think it’s easier to do if we begin by relinquishing control of what we cannot possibly change.
One of the most rewarding moments in life is when you finally find the courage to let go of what you can’t change.
So what do we do to travel back home, to comfort ourselves, to relieve that pain and suffering brought on by this daily struggle called living.
Things we do to be present to our own selves. To show up for ourselves. Praying in church, meditating in the morning, running in the rain, crunching and squatting at the gym, journaling for ourselves,  browsing through a book store, enjoying coffee and croissants with friends, a long walk by the water. . .
We start by carving out some time for ourselves.
Seeking what brings us back to center gives us a sense of control, a boost of needed energy and a dose of self love that keeps us sustained and encouraged to keep the party moving forward.
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A healthy practice to embrace, we have become use to a low-level of generalized anxiety and confusion as we navigate our daily lives. We are so entrenched in the movement of go, go, go that we don’t even acknowledge how revved up and in knots our spirit and our essence has become.
Of course we are more reactionary when we lose ourselves in the daily nonsense and bull shit of life.
While turning inward can be helpful to touch the peace you oh so need, I also believe it is the activities we do, the places we choose to go and the people we decide get our attention that also activate and/or deactivate our inner peace.
We must seek more pleasurable moments. First we must identify how many we are having in a day.
Inspired by “Turning the Mind Into an Ally” by Sakyong Mipham.
Cheryl Richardson: Personal Growth: How to Give Yourself a Radical Upgrade
on The James Altucher Show.
Joe Dispensa – guided meditations
artwork by Barbara Kruger
 
I am experimenting with capturing the art of daily living on camera while creating short shorts that emotionally resonate on some level in your mind and heart.

(Some) of The Most Important Things That Matter

I use to fill every moment of my day with something I could cross off my list later. #thatain’tliving

Elizabeth CarlsonI am Falling in Love with My Imperfections“.  A poem to learn from.

The more time I spend with the aging and the dying, the more I am beginning to understand what really matters each day.

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Their regrets become my wisdom and the important lessons to win tomorrow, while there is still life to be lived.  This is the stuff I should’ve learned so long ago and the lessons that should be taught in school.

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1. This moment right now, make it matter.  Make this moment important, vital and worth living.

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For so long I made a pact with myself to seek the truth, until I realized, that . . .

2. The truth you seek is only a matter of your perspective. There are many different versions of the truth.

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There are many realities. There are many versions of what appears obvious. Whatever appears as the unshakeable truth, its exact opposite may also be true in another context. – Amish Tripathi

Embrace the ability to see all things as they are and not as we ‘think’ they are. Reality in all it’s forms, is our friend.

3. All of our experiences shape us. We should seek new experiences and adventures each day. Try stuff. All sorts of stuff.  Expand our borders.

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You may think your “story” is boring, ordinary and not worth sharing, but you are wrong. Very wrong. You have some experience with life and someone out there can learn from your mistakes. You hold the power to lift someone up with a single sentence, a lesson learned.  Share your lessons with strangers.

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4. We are so much more powerful than we even know. Our words can be weapons, a single sentence can be as sharp as a sword. You can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.

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To play our roles in life well – whatever the roles are, brother, father, husband, wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, mentor. . .we simply must be and do that which is right at the moment and do it with patience and kindness.

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5. The purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others.

So listen deeply to friends and enemies. Listen quietly for all the missing words, the things they don’t say. All of it can teach you as well.

And remember, fear not the angry and rageful. To see compassionately how others may be in pain.

Stay soft and available always. Yes, you can train, practice and prepare for the future, but most importantly, be adaptable, flexible and ready to pivot, detour and move on when things aren’t going well.

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Sharing our gifts, bringing our best and leaving those we encounter feeling stronger and more inspired after we leave them.

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Be emotionally free, while letting go of all resentment and anger. Forgiving all.

6. Continue to strip life of all that bogs us down. Boiling our actions down to the most important.

Speaking fewer words, owning less of everything, accomplishing more by doing less.  Every so often, it is our duty to cleanse our emotional baggage and past hurt. Heal our pain and fix our faulty parts by becoming more self-aware while understanding the genesis of our emotions

7. Treat ourselves well. Guard our minds, keep thoughts bright, clear and as strong as can be.

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8. To prepare for the transition of  life/death/life. Learning to love the open ended mystery of not knowing why.

Balance out the days with enough sleep time, intimacy time, work & focus time, time in (self-reflection), down time and play time. Live each day as if it was your last.

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Remember this, when it all falls apart or there’s a heavy cross to bear and the storm is on the horizon. Learn to adapt and adjust daily.

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“Amid a world of noisy, shallow actors it is noble to stand aside and say, ‘I will simply be.”
Henry David Thoreau

“Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.”
Allen Ginsberg

“The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself.”
Lao Tzu

    • Featured art “Sounding Silence” by

Michael Cheval

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The Rhythm of Life Unfolding

Trying to figure out why certain things happen in life is like attempting to piece together a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle while having only a few pieces of the puzzle in your possession.

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You cannot fully understand the present situation using the logic of your finite mind. Just know that a bigger picture exists, even though it is not possible for you to see it at this time.

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Trust, for all that is happening is an act of love; ultimately you will discover the blessing. Have patience! You will look back on this period of your life and be thankful for all this is occurring now.  The Matrix card from The Magadalene Oracle

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Respecting the “timeliness” of an action. 

Welcome to “Indian Time.”’

It’s not easy to explain what Indian Time is. It’s more complicated than assuming everything will be late (though, that’s often a safe bet). I’ve heard Indian Time described as “the time it takes for moss to grow on a stone,” or as one elder put it “the time it takes to do things in a good way.”

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It’s an enigmatic idea based on a uniquely cultural relationship with time. Simply put, things happen when they happen. There are not 24 hours in a day. Time is unlimited, impossible to cut up into chunks. 

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If something is to happen at 11 am, it might happen at 11:01 am or 12:26 or 1:11 pm. It will happen when it will happen. The universe has its own heartbeat, and who are we to speed it up or slow it down? To some, it’s an excuse to be late. To others, it’s a way to avoid ulcers.

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“Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend – or a meaningful day.”
Dalai Lama

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Every single moment gives us an opportunity, a choice. Close the gap of what you are capable of doing and what your actually doing. Be the best you, right now. How do we live consistently as the best version of ourselves?  Read: The Rhythm of Life by Matthew Kelly

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Inspired by human potential thought leader Bryant McGill author of Simple Reminders

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Minding What Really Matters

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Observing what happens around us without filters or prejudice. Now that’s something to soak up. A life skill worth practicing.  Try rewiring that into your brain. How often we get frustrated because life is not suppose to be this way or that way?  As if it was always our call.

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It’s so easy to get mad when things don’t go our way. It’s even easier to sleep walk through our days. On autopilot, we just cruise through the hours without even taking notice of the small things that need real care.  The tiny pain points that pop up, that if we just focused on now, would never get out of hand.  The things that really matter. Perhaps this is how bigger events and problems suddenly catch us by “surprise”.  When we avoid the smaller, seemingly “meaningless” things in life. We shrug them off. “It is what it is.” “She’s just like that.” “I’ve been meaning to take care of that.”

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An important skill to learn is to know how to sniff out the unexpected before it scares the hell out of you. It starts with paying attention to your life.

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I am sure you realize that more often than not, there are usually many warning signals before something goes surprisingly wrong. It’s just that we were so distracted at the time.

To detect early warning signals, you need to build up your curiosity. Paying attention involves asking many questions and developing a wide network of friends and family willing to tell you the truth, even when it is spiked with anxiety and panic.

Collect all the rumors and paranoia that blow around you and your life and then separate the signal from the noise. Now, that’s paying attention.

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Paying attention also asks that we ask the important question –

“What can you do today that will make a difference, not only in your life but in others?”

Becoming a More Attentive & Thoughtful Human

Encourage yourself to grow with quick and easy learning (YouTube), and create a personal mindset that allows you to make well-intentioned mistakes while paying attention. Taking notice, trying new ways of problem solving and staying awake at the wheel of life – it’s all a skill.

Don’t let your mind turn into a black hole where bright ideas go in but nothing useful ever comes out. Be an idea-driven human that values fresh thinking and doing.

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Understand your strengths and weakness which will show you where your vigilance is strong and where you are vulnerable. That’s paying attention to yourself.

Minding What Matters

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‘What actions can I take that will benefit not just myself, not just my  family, not just my community, not just my work, but all it’ – that’s when you start to see possibilities for greater freedom.”  That’s when you start paying attention to what matters. Inspired by “Leading the Life You Want“.

Happy and successful people focus on what really matters and who really matters to them. And then they take actions that are consciously and deliberately designed to make things better for them and the people around them.

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Find meaning in mundane tasks while playing on your strengths. Apply skills you have in one area of your life to another.

Act with creativity and courage—and continually experiment with new ways of getting things done. An exercise for enhancing your skill in being innovative is called Scenarios. Identify a goal in any part of your life, and describe the results you want to achieve. Be as specific as you can. Then identify three alternative courses of action that would achieve the same results. For each potential path, list the resources you will need, the people whose help you’ll draw on, and how much of a stretch beyond your comfort zone this would be for you. By taking time to think through different options, you increase the flexibility of your thinking. Brainstorming about creative possibilities puts your focus on the goal, or results, rather than on one way to get there.

Inspired by Leading the Life You Want and 18 Questions that could change your life

 

 

 

Going from Anxious Type A to a More Self-Healing Nature

I’m not sure when I adapted such a stressed out, hard-charging approach to life, but I did and it sucked and I am over it. I don’t regret much, but I do feel as if my fretful, grinding approach to work and life has exhausted me with very little more to show for it.

All that grind, all that toil, leading to very little added reward.

What a waste of energy.

Sure I feel successful, but I have over exerted my energy and worried my way to fatigue. The added busy motion, flying headlong into my days, pressing to get things done quickly, hasn’t adding anything of value to my life.

I could have had so much more fun enjoying the process.

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So now I am on a mission to change the habits that have led me to feeling exhausted and sometimes even sick.

Make it Simple, But Significant

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Everything is related to everything else. How stressed or angry you are, and how you interact with the world, is contingent in large part on your personality style,” says Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter. “And that is going to have an enormous impact on your health.”

Good Riddance to the Strain, Struggle & Strife

Eliminating the Need to Over Exert my Energy

My plan is to transform my Type A personality to a self-healing nature that is more curious, secure, constructive, responsive, and conscientious. These traits translate to enthusiasm for life, emotional balance, and strong social relationships. Read more about how your personality traits effect your life here.

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Barring any states of emergency that require immediate action, I ban all short and unreasonable deadlines. No more guarantees, pressure to promise results or setting up impossible goals.

I will only take on projects that I am exited to tackle and that I will enjoy completing.

That doesn’t mean that I won’t creatively challenge myself.

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If there is anything I regret, it is having spent so many of my years moving through my days, huffing, puffing, red-faced to get the maximum out of every day.

I could have done it without the pain.

Rushing ruins the whole thing.

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I want to move with more grace and elegance. I believe that with a calmer approach, much of my day can be effortless, enjoyable and effective.

How?

  • I will stop when I begin to feel stressed.
  • Take more time to think.
  • Look for ideas, not immediate answers.
  • Make obstacles work in my favor.
  • I won’t take the pleasure out of doing a great job because I am rushing through it.

More ways to eliminate the stress from your life.

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JR x Blu

In 2007, JR collaborates with Italian artist Blu on a mural installation in Berlin.

 

Additional Credits

 

Artist Nick Cave

 

Keeping Calm, A Critical Keystone Habit

What are Keystone Habits?

Habits are what we do every day. Habits can help us grow or hold us back. Some habits are more important than others — they have the power to transform our lives.

Keystone habits lead to the development of multiple good habits. They start a chain effect in your life that produce a number of positive outcomes.

Getting enough restful sleep every night is a keystone habit. It will help you face the next day with energy, help you be more productive and think more clearly.

Exercising everyday is a keystone habit. Walking and working out will give you strength, keep off unhealthy pounds and boost serotonin to the brain, a chemical that will keep you serene.

Saving some money for the future is a keystone habit. Socking away a few bucks will keep each week will have you feeling more secure about that unpredictable rainy day ahead.

Read more about keystone habits in The Power of Habit.

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Keeping Calm, A Crucial Keystone Habit

Chances are if you are reading this, you are to some degree stressed out. Focusing on managing our emotions while nurturing a peaceful mind is imperative to navigating the chaos of every day living.

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The Multitude of Benefits that Come from Keeping Calm

  • Keeping a cool head, remaining calm, no matter what situation arises is key to retaining common sense and gaining others’ respect.
  • Managing our emotions in times of stress helps us maintain control over our lives.
  • Standing composed while all around you is flipping out in a chaotic crisis helps keep your thoughts collected.
  • A calm mind will bring about peaceful contentment.
  • No matter what is happening, remaining calm will give you a sense of confidence.
  • A peaceful and clear head will keep your vision for the future clear. Calm begets clarity.
  • Staying calm during the biggest of battles will help you appear less crazy than your colleagues.
  • Your concentration increases with each calm breath you take.
  • Your worries become lighter and your state-of-mind more carefree.
  • The thoughts that you have and words that you speak are less crass and more compassionate.
  • Life is easier when we move with through challenges creatively in a calm way.
  • We become more proactive and less reactive.
  • We become kinder and less cruel when we are calm and take more thoughtful calculated risks instead of impulsively moving in every direction.
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A calm demeanor is contagious. Try it. The next time you are in a situation where everyone is flying off the handle, stay calm. Don’t speak, don’t yell, don’t move. Just be the calming force, the rock, the reminder of how powerful a calm state-of-mind can be.

Okay, My Ideas on How to Stay Calm 

Know that things are bound to go wrong today. They just are. Ain’t no getting around it. Someone will piss you off, drive you crazy, make you angry, but on the other hand, something good will happen today too. Guaranteed. Life is peppered with a bit of both.

Redefine what stress means to you. A dropped cell call? A cracked laptop screen? The wrong dressing on your salad? What does life-threatening stress look like to you?  Define what a real threat looks like. Categorize what constitutes a real problem before you get hit with one. Everything else is easy.

Slow your speech and your gait. Seriously. Walk like a old wise spirit. No rushing, just simple, confident steps with your posture strong and your head held up high. Or sit still. Unless the house is burning down or someone is bleeding out, don’t react. Process the pain in the moment and then decide how you will react.

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Put your hand on your heart. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply. Remember what really matters. Remember how short life really is. Ask yourself, what is most important to you right now? 

Smell your way to serenity. Use calming oils throughout the day. Inhale lavender, rosemary or geranium before you send that scathing email or make that frustrating phone call. Keep an oil by your desk or burn a soy-based scented candle in your home or office.

Take calming action. Take care of what is in your control. Don’t hesitate. Get what you can get done.  Don’t know what to do first? Make a priority list and check it off. Realize that life is 10% what happens and 90% how you react to it.

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Clear all the clutter from your life. Your home, your desk, your relationships. If it isn’t serving you well, get rid of it. If you are going through a crisis, keep everything in your life really, really simple.

Carve out moments of joyful time. Hack your happy chemicals. Slip away for a while, get lost in a book, go for a walk, ride your bike, safeguard your sanity.If you are in the midst of a long-standing stressful situation, like caregiving for the terminally ill, making your way through a divorce, trying to find your next job, take a moment to do what you enjoy. Lower your level of cortisol by doing something that makes you happy.

Ask yourself what is good about this? Even though this horrible thing is happening right now, what is good about it? Perhaps it is a problem that finally came to a head? Maybe it will finally move you in a new direction that you knew you were suppose to go? Perhaps this problem offers you an opportunity to try something new?

Slow down on the consumption of everything. This includes drugs, alcohol, food and caffeine. Purposefully chew more slowly. Talk more slowly. Walk more slowly. Slow down to a very soft and gentle pace. Rushing to nowhere will bring no good effect.

Watch a sad, sad movie and cry really fucking hard. Cry until your eyes sting with pain. A list of heartbreaking movies to get you going here.

Realize how short life really is. Check out the internet’s friendly reminder of how long you are going to live, aka the Death Clock.

Give up your mind. Listen to a guided meditation. Author of Radical Acceptance and mindful meditator, Tara Brach offers a free podcast.

Play with puppies or watch puppies. Check out these live puppy cams.

and. . .

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For more powerful tips on how to remain calm throughout the day, check out this article on LifeHacker and  this one on Forbes.

Credit for today’s Illustrations and Ocean inside me