How To Be Successful By Being Yourself

“When you understand yourself, you’re able to navigate the world,”

– Gary Vaynerchuk

Oh but where to begin. One idea. How about getting a bit curious about you. Instead of wondering why others aren’t liking your most recent Instagram post, spend just a little time learning more about what’s going on inside your head.

Here are a few practical questions to kick off the project of getting to know yourself a bit better and here a few deeper ones if you really want to dig in.

  1. What am I good at?
  2. What am I so-so at?
  3. What am I bad at?
  4. What makes me tired?
  5. What is the most important thing in my life?
  6. Who are the most important people in my life?
  7. How much sleep do I need?
  8. What stresses me out?
  9. What relaxes me?
  10. What’s my definition of success?
  11. What type of worker am I?
  12. How do I want others to see me?
  13. What makes me sad?
  14. What makes me happy?
  15. What makes me angry?
  16. What type of person do I want to be?
  17. What type of friend do I want to be?
  18. What do I think about myself?
  19. What things do I value in life?
  20. What makes me afraid?

These questions remind me of The Proust Questionnaire. The Proust Questionnaire has its origins in a parlor game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature.

So, what helps in the process of opening yourself up to yourself? How about getting out there and interacting with the world.  However, one must proceed with caution.  First we must remove all the emotional blocks and drop all the baggage.  The grudges, the resentment and the anger that holds us back from really connecting. It begins with forgiving those that have hurt us.

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Forgiveness is like a breath of fresh air, a lighting of the load you’ve been carrying, a softening of the heart, a soothing of the mind and a releasing of the soul. Compassion follows forgiveness because you have genuinely felt your own pain and getting close to your pain is an excruciatingly freeing experience. This is how we grow to understand ourselves and appreciate others. This is how we begin to truly build relationships.

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We connect through truly understanding the human condition. With forgiveness and compassion we have the capacity to feel each others pain and with the right intentions and words, we can help each other release that pain and open up our hearts.

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I truly believe we are here together for a reason – I mean we work together, we live together, we suffer together, we smile together and we experience each and every moment together.  How could we possibly be so in our own heads?

Our growth expands the closer we get, the great and kinder the connections we make as we move away from the false and painful fantasy of isolation. We are not meant to be alone all the time.

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Feeling for our fellow, showing care and concern, warmth, love and tenderness. To be sympathetically conscious of each other.  To hold space for one and another.

The emotional ability to picture ourselves with the same problems in a non-blaming, non-shaming manner.  Reading: Pema Chodron “When Things Fall Apart

On a side note: I am on my seventh day of receiving motivational text messages from a chat bot on Shine Text. It’s a fun way to start the day. Kind of motivating.  Check it out – daily shine. 

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How to Get One Percent Better Every Day

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.  -Viktor Frankl “Man’s Search for Meaning
Realize that Difficulty & Pain is Inevitable & Important
The path of life can be rough and uncertain and sometimes frighteningly dark. Nothing should really surprise us, in reality, all of us at any time, no matter how strong or lucky we think we may be, are susceptible to unwanted pain and problems.
Your Attitude is Everything
Not enough money to pay the rent, a loved one dying from a terminal illness or the ending of what was once a deep and loving relationship.  These are all painful moments that we will experience. The secret to growing through the painfully tough times in life lies in your ability to stay focused on a strong belief in yourself and your creator. Your attitude towards whatever life throws your way is everything. The only thing constant is change and while your circumstances evolve, use every ounce of energy you have to grow stronger through it all. Ten Simple Habits to Grow a Positive Attitude.
Learning from Pain is a Damn Good Strategy
Everything that occurs in our lives – the good, the bad, the easy, the difficult -is usable and workable and is actually the path itself. We can use everything that happens to us as a means for waking up and strengthening our core beliefs and values.
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Difficult People Build Patience
Give up trying to control others, especially those who cause you frustration and harm. They are in your life to help you build patience. You can’t change them, but you can become a more tolerant person from being around them. Remember, you can only control your own thoughts and reactions, no one else’s.
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Don’t Make it Harder Than it Has to Be
See problems for what they are, not bigger than they are. Do not forecast more gloom and doom in your life or you will make a tough situation harder than it has to be. When something bad happens to us we want it to be over quickly and we feel extremely vulnerable. We imagine what worse can happen? What bigger problem is headed our way? Is this the start of a bigger collapse? Accept your reality for what it is right now and remember it is a moment in time that will pass. It really will. Know that everything in the universe, including your problems and challenges, are transforming the world and you.
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It is all meant to be. Practice what Tara Brach calls Radical Acceptance. Move with the transformation, feel the pain, breathe deeply into it and let it help you grow for the better.
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Don’t Try to Predict the Outcome
Soothe your mind by moving and meditating and staying right here, right now in the moment, even if it is painful. You don’t need to suffer so hard, take one step and a time and don’t think too far ahead.  Bring your ruminating and obsessing thoughts that are stuck in the past or worried about the future back to the here and now.
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Everyone Has Something or Someone to Appreciate
Awaken each day by recognizing what good you do have in your life. You always have something to work with. It might be a beautiful day for a long morning stroll or a steamy cup of strong dark coffee or a new soft-covered Moleskin notebook to write in or maybe a good friend to see, sit and chill with. Recognize and acknowledge that these gifts are right here in front of you.
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Use Your Silence to Explain Yourself
When situations are really rough, there may be nothing you can do to change the current moment. Sometimes doing nothing is precisely what you should be doing to help the situation. Some problems must work themselves out organically, in their own time, by people and actions you do not have to handle.  You aren’t suppose to fix everything.
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Watch your words. You must think before you speak. Try to say fewer and fewer words throughout the day. Make it a challenge. Bite your lip. Sometimes we speak because we are nervous. We can’t stand the silence, it’s just too awkward. Words can drown out the pain, but they don’t.
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Nervous words are never really useful. Think before you speak, not every thought is meant to be shared and sometimes words are just noise and nervous energy that add to the pain.
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What You Do Really Does Matter
We might struggle with our significance, but what you do with your day really matters. You get to decide what you do with your day. From what you eat to what you wear to who you call and where you decide to show up. Ever minute is a decision that you get to make. Smart decisions start with a clear mind.
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Keep your mind clear and free from obsessive worry and concern. This can be done by simply focusing on your current moment. This moment right now. Just sit or stand for a second and realize where you are. I know, it’s not easy. We walk around worried while writing a scary script over our painful reality. Our brain’s non-stop problem-solving can be mind bursting. We continue to make up additional problems that may never occur. Isn’t it ridiculous how preoccupied we are most of the time?  The trick is to stop. Pick anything in your environment. Look it at as if it is the first time you have ever observed it. Stay here in this moment. Here is where your mind will be clear and free.
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Watch What Drives You Mad
Watch what moves you. What triggers you. Examine your heart as you respond to others. What feels like a big chore and what truly excites you? If you don’t like some of the things or people or places that trigger anger, rage, pain, sadness or frustration in you, you have an option to walk away. Not to go there.  Perhaps taking the crowded train during rush hour makes you panic, concerned or nervous? You can choose to walk, share a car or ride a bike to work. If you look in the mirror and only see the chubby parts, the stomach you wish was flat, the legs that you want to look slim and tone – then you have a choice. You can start right now. Choose to count your calories, move more instead of sitting and make a plan to lose the extra weight.
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It’s Better to Be Kind than Right
No one ever remembers if you are right, but they certainly remember if you are kind. You have an opportunity every moment to be kind. To be kind is to be soft, sympathetic, compassionate and loving. Kindness – a listening ear, the touching of a hand, a warm embrace, a sympathetic glance. These little moments of kindness can smooth out even the toughest wrinkles of life. Sometimes they feel genuine, sometimes not. It doesn’t matter.
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Put Yourself Under the Microscope
Be painfully aware of the why behind everything you do. Why you rush in the morning? Does all the nervous rushing make you feel energized and in control? Like you are doing more? What are you avoiding by rushing? Why do you check Facebook throughout the day? Does it give your mind a rest from all the hard thinking? Is your job fulfilling enough? Do you secretly wish you were somewhere else? Does feeling jealous of others make you feel awake and alive?  Is your life that boring?  Why do you obsess over whether your boyfriend or girlfriend is cheating on you? Have you been completely honest with them? with yourself?
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Full Speed Ahead
Place yourself where you want to be. Don’t stay in the same place because it feels comfortable or because it is easy. You can’t grow while staying comfortably numb. Open up to the idea of exploring new spaces and environments to inspire you. Make new choices about where to eat, new bookstores to visit, new trails and parks to walk and hike. A new career to replace the shitty job you have. Placing yourself in new places that will open your mind to a bigger life and new opportunities. It starts with a small step, a simple self-seeking search into your heart and a strong, positive attitude.

What Are We Meant To Do?

Why do we need one another?

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What does it mean to be absolutely human?

What is our purpose in this world and how is that purpose related to our responsibilities to each other?

What are we meant for?

What are the deeper things we are meant to do?

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If you wish your heart to be bright,
you must do a little work.

– from Be Lost in the Call, a poem by Rumi

 

Featured Mutated Swamp Girl by David Choe

Kindness  and 1+1 = love  –  Banksy

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

 

 

 

 

On Being Your Own Life Coach

If we are truly living, then we are immersed in a life of learning and growing as human beings.

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As we are growing, we are in a  continual cycle of aspiring, succeeding or failing. With wisdom we realize these positions are transitory. Quote from The Ego is the Enemy.

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Personally, depending on which “part” of my life that I observe, I am currently in all three cycles all at once.

Aspiring, Succeeding, Failing

I am aspiring to launch and build my business, I am succeeding at helping my parents navigate their battle with cancer and I am failing at sustaining a relationship with my brother.

I am aspiring to find the best way to help my parents without enabling them, I am succeeding at keeping up with my own health and fitness routine and I am failing at prioritizing my time at work each day. I over estimate what time I really have and over promise to those clients I want to please.

What helps me during cycles of failure, is to be my own best coach. Just like a coach who faces a loosing team, I champion myself through difficult moments of exasperation by reminding myself of who I am and what I am capable of. I promise to face each moment with my highest standards.

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On Being My Own Best Coach and maximizing my own potential.

I remember and I realize . . .

  • the impact of my attitude on my life.
  •  to believe in myself.
  • I am never given more than I can handle.
  • I don’t have all the answers right now.
  • to remain solution focused.
  • to ask questions and ask for help. I investigate and research those that have been here before me. I look for guidance.
  • I should listen for answers and  rely on others who can help.
  • I need to make corrections. Corrections in my work, my attitude and my behavior.
  • that God is working with me every day. Guiding me to do my best. I am not in this alone.
  • I have done more difficult things before and I have made it through, successfully.
  • I remember that life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.

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Painfully Grateful, Tragically Optimistic

58037f2269bc647f5a01cbd1c48d5571While it is easy to be grateful for the abundance of gifts in our lives, especially on Thanksgiving -all of the goodness – our freedom, our families, friends and the food on our table, it’s appreciation for those that have caused us hurt and pain that give us a real opportunity to truly grow and evolve.

Give gratitude and forgiveness, because those that hurt, hurt. They need it the most.

When we remember that those that hurt are the one’s that are hurting we  take the pain out of circulation and we begin to heal.

Our enemies give us a huge opportunity to practice love, forgiveness and patience. For if we do not choose to forgive, we give more power to the pain.  In the words of Steve Biko “The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”

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I am grateful today and everyday for the good, the bad and the hateful, as well as the inevitable suffering that comes with life. Bring on the pain, I will take it all and make meaning to grow.

True Grit, The Act of Envisioning and Living to 100

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I am adding yet another new daily habit of 30 minutes of focus and deep concentration by journaling precisely what I want to create in life with the honest intention of being in service to everyone I meet.  I imagine and behold a (super) better version of myself, eliminating any negative thoughts including envy, hatred, judgement, selfishness or cynicism. No matter what, I will carve out this time to make sure this becomes a ritual in my life.

“. . . in applying one’s whole soul to doing right and speaking the truth. There remains only the enjoyment of living a liked succession of good deeds, with not the slightest gap between them.”  – Marcus Aurelius

Study: Meditations (Hardcover Classics)

marcus-aurelius-quote-fridge-magnet-2_largeSystem Restore -A Metaphorical Moment

The other evening I was pulling my hair out while trying to free up some space on my computer with Daisy Disk (not worth the $9.99, a total waste). After backing up my laptop I had to restore my operating system. Not something I wanted to be doing at 11 pm at night. I have no patience for this, but it’s like laundry and cleaning the kitchen, it just needs to get done. But I had a moment of true realization while I waited for my Mac to restart with a new blank desktop –  I am also in the process of refreshing and restoring my operating system.  Some call it reinventing ourselves.

The Act of Envisioning the Future

The way I see it, we can worry about the future or we can focus on creating a better story for tomorrow. Recognizing that the dominating thoughts of my mind will eventually transform themselves into physical reality, I have committed to concentrating my thoughts on precisely who I want to become and I am creating a crystal clear picture of that person each day, by writing a new future. This also helps with incessant useless monkey-mind worry because I am putting my thoughts to better use. I highly recommend you try it for yourself.

True Grit

Just like building a start up or pursuing any dream, this life project of mine requires deliberate practice and focus and as many have come to understand a great dose of grit. Grit defined as perseverance and persistence coupled with an unwillingness to wilt, complain, or cry about my current state. It’s the ability to accept my reality and make the best of it, never wishing I was somewhere else, or in someone else’s shoes.

I have come to understand that people who value grit have a number of things in common. They appreciate everything in their lives and what they have right now.

small-daily-improvementsThe “gritty” among us also –

  • Remain cautiously optimistic.
  • Exercise their muscle of self-control.
  • Have a higher level of social intelligence.
  • Maintain the ability to preserver through even the toughest times.
  • Stay enthusiastic about the process.
  • Embrace the art of curiosity about everything. Even their problems.

Grit: harnessing the courage, the resiliency, and the power within.

Climbing Hills and Recreating Blue Zones

Barring heavy rain or deep wet snow, every day I take a 25 minute steep hill hike around my town. What I am trying to do is recreate the effect that blue zones have on the body.  Blue Zones are places in the world where people live to 100 and stay healthy.

The five blue zones are as follows:

  • The Italian island of Sardinia
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Loma Linda, California
  • Costa Rica’s isolated Nicoya Peninsula
  • Ikaria, an isolated Greek island

Ikaria_1428628iThe people in blue zones don’t need to artificially incorporate exercise into their lives with machines.  The exercise comes for free, already built into their daily lives naturally.  Common across all of the blue zones is that the people climb mountains, walk through the hills, work the land, and generally use their bodies in a constant grind as they perform their daily activities.  And it doesn’t have to be high intensity “run as fast as you can” exercise either.

To live long and healthy requires a constant, daily lifestyle of positive enrichment for the body and mind.  For many this may seem hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Read more about what it takes to live to 100 here.

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Read: The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People

Instant Karma and A Trip to Paradise

instant-karmaMost of us in the western part of the world believe that karma is a supernatural universal law of justice. He or she did something bad, hurtful, deceitful, etc. well, karma will get them in the end.

The reality and truth is, when the eastern sages spoke about karma, they were speaking about selfishness. The word “karma” in Sanskrit means “action” and the Buddha believed in two types of action. Bad selfish action and good selfless action. Bad selfish action promotes, protects and aggrandizes the ego which in turn leads to inner suffering, distress, remorse and guilt.

buddhaThe real suffering is on the inside and when we are unconscious of our perpetuating selfish actions, however small they may be, we continue to suffer all the time.

I stumbled upon this explanation and more from Leo Gura on Actualized.org. What Is Karma exactly? – Watch a rational explanation of how karma really works and why it’s extremely relevant to your happiness levels.

On My Book Shelf

Instant Karma is a collection of thousands of ways to create good karma for yourself and others. The advice in Barbara Ann Kipfer’s book is based on the principles of Buddhism and emphasizes the importance of physical health, spiritual growth and peace.

41w7fE7c8DL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_A few pearls of wisdom from this little gem of a book.

  • Throughout the day, ask yourself, Am I paying attention?
  • Then ask yourself, Why judge?
  • Do not expect praise or reward.
  • Give confidence to others.
  • Life is positive, only your thinking is negative.
  • See everything in your life as a gift.

Remember that looking for happiness outside yourself is like expecting to get in shape by watching others exercise.

Read more, here:  Instant Karma

Believe the best is yet to be.

 

Inviting Your Troubles to Tea

buddhaThe night before the Buddha attained final enlightenment he had a visit from the demon king Mara. Mara represented all the anger, doubt, fear, striving, craving and greed of the world. He came to tempt the Buddha.
Instead of ignoring Mara or driving him away, the Buddha calmly acknowledged his presence, staying “I see you, Mara
He then invited Mara to tea as an honored guest.
It is suggested that we do the same when we are pained with trouble (whether real or imaginary). When we are feeling jealous, fearful, angry, frustrated, we examine these feelings with a compassionate heart, filled with self-love. We invite troubles to tea.
Instead of running from what troubles us, avoiding what is painful to face while only trying to seek happiness, we need to deal with all of life’s struggles head on, or they will continue to haunt us.
tea settingTea 101
Wake up with Matcha or Peppermint; Sleep with Kava or Chamomile; Ward off a cold with Echinacea or White Tea; Digest with Ginger or Lemon; Detox with Dandelion or Nettle; Soothe an upset stomach with Fennel or Ginger; Energize with Mint or Green; De-stress with Lavender or Ginseng.
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 Tea Supplies
 Soma-Water-Pitcher-01Filter your water

Soma Sustainable Pitcher & Plant-Based Water Filter

 bonavitaInvest in an electric tea kettle

Bonavita Dual Voltage 0.5L Travel Electric Kettle

My favorite morning tea

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Traditional Medicinals EveryDay Detox, 16-Count Boxes (Pack of 6)

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KENKO Tea – Matcha Green Tea Powder – USDA Organic – Japanese Culinary Grade Matcha Powder for Lattes Smoothies Baking -100g Bag [50 Servings]

 

compassion A lesson a day from . . .

Teachings of the Buddha (Shambhala Pocket Classics)

We Have To Stop

  Growing in popularity, Instagram’s @We_have_to_stop  is dedicated to capturing people on their phones and devices while in public.  

A crowd-sourced account that documents the social isolation and bizarre relationships we have with our devices of delusion in a world of increasing chaos and confusion.

Photos of people around the world, taking selfies, posting updates, merging calls, drafting emails, filming injustices, snapping and filtering their every meal. 

My Friend Gary calls this the severe maladaptive behavior of Generation K – as in Kardashians.

I wonder what it will take to wake the world up again to true human interaction, face-to-face communication and  co-existence  with compassion.