How to Be Your Most Honest Self-Critic

When you begin to question your own mind, you begin to become the best self-critic you can be.  By Madeline Johnson

This is a note to all of us prone to self-loathing. To cringing at the face we see in the mirror. Why, oh why is it so difficult to simply like ourselves – just the way we are?  One theory is that we are evolutionarily predisposed to nitpick at our failings. We are so damn hard on ourselves and we can be our very own worst critic.


As if life wasn’t problematic enough, we still insist on comparing our lives to others and beating ourselves up most every day.

self pity

How did we create this fantasy that if we punish ourselves enough with negative thoughts, we’ll change?


What we should become more critical of is our own thoughts.

If you are going to criticize anything about yourself and your place in the world, it should be the bleak narrative you have looping around your brain.

Question that.

Question your assumptions, your biases, choices.

Learn how to clarify your thoughts by uncovering the logic that upholds what you believe, rather than just accepting your muddled ideas of the truth. The next time you catch yourself cutting your self-worth down, filling your head with self-doubt, ask yourself –Why do I believe this to be true? 


When you begin to question your own mind,

you begin to become the best self-critic you can be.

What purpose do your current thoughts serve you?

What are you assuming to be true to think this way?

From which perspective are you thinking from?


What evidence do you have to draw the conclusions you do?


Featured Artwork

Phillipe Halsman

For me, lighting is what a brush is to a painter.  I want my light to give an awareness of the 3rd dimension, that it shows volume and depth.  Above all I consider light as a means of characterization.”   

Happy Like This

You are happier than you know. Appreciating the small wins. Madeline Johnson


There are many positive emotions and positive feelings you have in a day and happy is just one of them. I believe that you are more happy than you even know. Why? Because there are 86,400 seconds in a day and if you really reflect on how you feel throughout the day you will find fleeting moments of happiness, delight and joy which come and go. Unfortunately you are so busy that you didn’t even know you are experiencing some form of happiness. So often we are all are just rushing around – that we can miss recognizing the positive emotions we have in our lives.


Little bits of happy all day long

Reflecting on my day yesterday, I realized that finishing a project that was two weeks over due imparted a sense of relief in my mind, which was reassuring and empowering. I accomplished a task completely and that made me feel wonderful.


Simply preparing and eating a healthy breakfast, I felt satiated and energized and able to power through my work in the morning, another moment of success.



Taking a moment to organize my wardrobe, bringing my clothes to the dry cleaners and my pants hemmed, the feeling of taking care of myself, my appearance – another moment of self-care and a tiny hit of happiness.


Sometimes it’s the journey to joy

It’s the doing things that you enjoy that keep you going. Not everything you like to do has to be so significant and grand.  You might like to dance, draw, knit, paint, read, strum the guitar – not to perform at Carnegie hall – but simply for the relaxing way it makes you feel.  Find what brings you a bit of joy each day and do some of that. 

It’s important to know what makes you happy. Your life is your life, know it while you have it. 



Taking ownership over your happiness starts with mastering your mind and body.

Not every little thing that happens to you needs your attention. You don’t need to treat everything like a precious decision. However, if you can, you must set yourself up, stage the day and do what will increase your chances of being happier. You are responsible for your feelings.

I own my physical wellbeing so I sleep well, stay fit, eat sensibly and hold my body in an alert, engaged and present state. I am responsible for my feelings and I know the destructive impact of fear, anger, sadness and craving. Thus, I seek and stimulate the emotions of calm, passion, kindness, contentment and joy. I know that I am not my thoughts. I watch and challenge my thinking making effort to step back, explore different explanations, respect the perspective of others and stay fully present to the moment with an attitude of realistic optimism.”  From The Resilience Institute

Different definitions of happiness & its fleeting nature.

It’s the definition of happiness that screws things up. Happiness is like a biorhythm, it gauges up or down. It ascends to high peaks and then flutters down to lower levels. When you say “I am not happy” you are letting your mind determine a condition in your situation that may not be true.  People have different definitions of happiness and different conditions for chasing and staying happy.

Aristotle said there were four different levels of happiness:

  • Happiness from material things, like a new pair of shoes or car.
  • Happiness from feeling victorious, more accomplished than the rest.
  • Happiness from doing good for others and making the world a better place.
  • Happiness from feeling deeply connected to everything and everyone.

Understanding your approach to happiness.

Gratitude is the first approach. Being happy with what you have. The hedonic approach, seeking pleasure and avoiding pain; and the eudaimonic approach, which focuses on the meaning you give life and self-realization.


Life is not easy, it can be very difficult. One moment everything is going your way and then the next, you have problem – a friend is angry with you, your stomach hurts, you have a headache, your tooth is loose, you can’t find your keys, your phone, your wallet.

You need to enjoy and savor the small, delightful experiences and march on through the tough times – determined and willful.

Remember, suffering is self-induced (you get to choose what bothers you) and worsened by a dysfunctional society that places the trappings of material success above peace of mind.


Just thinking about being sad, will make you sadder.

Featured Art

Nicoletta Ceccoli



Sending Out Good Vibes

Your energy is your responsibility. Love more. By Madeline Johnson

Day 4. 2019. New habit. Shine. Be the light. Give off better vibes. Be more loving. Let’s see how they react. Can simply being nicer up the ante? Improve the experience. Now is the time to sprinkle just a bit more love sauce and compassionate spice into each conversation.  Please don’t rush off the phone. Take a moment to text a friend. Smile at a stranger. Give one big, no huge hug. Yeah, let’s do this.





Read Poetry by Nikita Gill

Reference Leaving a Legacy of Love

Artwork by Ray Caesar, digital artist




Be Who You Are, Not Who You Wish You Were

How to be authentic with Madeline Johnson, writer, thinker and strategist.

I am helping this genuinely lovely couple build their wellness empire. They own a mine, a mine with liquid gold. Lucky them. So blessed. I consult them about business, marketing and growth plans. I help them build actionable strategies and tactics. We have weekly FaceTime conversations and tonight after yet another long call they blew my mind with something they said to me.

They said, “Madeline, We are so happy we met you. You are so positive and you make us believe we can do anything. You make us feel so strong. You open our minds and you have made us understand that being around positive people is very important.”


They didn’t know it but I was melting inside. My heart filled with a lightness, a brightness I haven’t felt in a very long time. I know that what I need is to feel valued.  Yes it is true, we all need to feel deeply appreciated. Tonight I felt recognized, respected and prized.  I also felt happy, light and free.


I use to think feeling happy was practically impossible.

Now, honestly, between you and I well, I abhor the word “happy” and it’s my father’s fault.

So, Why The Hell am I So Happy?

I’ll never forget what my father, a depressing kind of dude at times, said to me when I was about 15.  You see I am a smiler. I smile through everything. I smile when I am sad, when I am angry, by myself, with others. It doesn’t matter what I am doing, I just feel a sort of smile in my heart.  So Mr. moody swinger, daddy O passes me in the hall and asks me –

Why are you so “happy”?

Nice thing to hear from father dear during my formative years.

My automatic response  because I am. I am happy.  Genuinely happy.

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Doesn’t matter what’s going down, I am always going to be happy. It’s just my nature. Sure I feel grief, sadness, anger, rage – yup, even rage, but for some reason, I always swing back to happy.  This is where the good vibes grow.



P.S. If you want to be happy, be aware of manipulative ass hats with selfish agendas.