Hardwired for Happiness

According to Dr. Joe Dispenza in this lecture, 95% of who we are by the time we are 35 is a memorized set of behaviors, a pattern of emotional reactions, continual unconscious habits, hardwired attitudes, rigid beliefs and perceptions.
We become very predictable people.
If we decide that perhaps we want something better, perhaps change in our lifes, we must start with our thoughts.

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If you agree and believe that the way you think has some effect on you life, than changing the way you think is the only real solution for transformation.

In order to become better versions of who we are for a better life, we must change our personalities.

Terri Duan

How Our Personalities Are Formed

We have around 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day. That’s an average of 2500 – 3,300 thoughts per hour. Out of those 60-70 thousand thoughts that you think, 90% of those thoughts are the same thoughts as the day before.

If you believe (like I do) that your thoughts are some how connected to your life, then the same thoughts always lead to the same choices, which eventually lead to the same outcomes.

Thoughts for Change

Since the same choices always lead to the same behaviors, the same behaviors create the same experiences.

The same experiences produce the same emotions.

Those very same emotions drive those very same thoughts.

A vicious circle and a predictable life.

Your thoughts, fueled by emotions effect your entire life, including your biology, your neurocircuitry, your neurochemistry, your neurohormones, and even your genetic expression. It is all equal to how you think, how you act and how you feel.

How you think, how you act and how you feel is called your personality and your personality creates your personal reality.

Art by Robert Jahns

 

Overcoming Distractions & That Overwhelming Feeling

Distractions keep us from focusing on our mission. If you don’t have a mission, that’s okay, think of your mission as anything you say that you really want to “focus” on if you had the time, the money, the resources. You know, your hopes, dreams, and aspirations.

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Everything feels like a distraction at times, which can lead to feeling overwhelmed especially when distractions are inviting and enticing.

Do what Adam Robinson does. Ask yourself this question – my notes from Tribe of Mentors.

Where should I be focusing my attention right now?

Mission

 

Art by Russ Mills

https://byroglyphics.co.uk/

Giving The Day Wings

You know you need to repair your routine when you start the day all full of fire that burns out faster than a stick of Palo Santo by 11 am. Nothing is going to change if you don’t. Yes you are on a track, but is it the best track? The one that will propel you forward to expand your awareness? To elevate your consciousness? To move you further towards the life of your dreams.

Doing the day a little differently will help curb the habits that are holding you back.

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Build Morning Inspiration & Motivation

You know what I am talking about. You’ve journaled, meditated, gone to the gym, consumed something healthy and you’ve created a “to do” list – you’ve set some goals for the day and then bam, hello, it’s 1 pm and you’ve done everything but what you set out to do.

Frustrated, the best advice is to become more open to being blown off course. Why? Perhaps the course you are choosing isn’t the one you are suppose to be on. Moving through our days a bit more loosely will also remove the limitations we begin with when we try to define the day in it’s entirety.

Where to start? Your true life starts when you remove the mask.  A poem by Shel Silverstein

8. UNDERFACE (Every Thing On It)

Underneath my outside face
There’s a face that none can see.
A little less smiley,
A little less sure,
But a whole lot more like me

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Masks by Richard Jonkman

Fuel Your Focus with a Mid Day Reset

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Take a pause, gain some perspective. Is this really the day you intended? Recognize the obstacles. Where are you procrastinating? How is your body disconnected from your mind’s desires? How is your thinking trapped in a tunnel?

Haruki Murakami // “What we see before us is just one tiny part of the world.”

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Ethan Hawke // “Pay attention: what you need to know is usually in front of you. There are no secrets, just things people choose not to notice.”

Wind down Wonderfully for Rest & Recovery

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Develop a wind down ritual. Examine the day and explore the darker regions of your heart.  What could have been addressed by a better version of you?

Frida Kahlo // “At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.”

 

 

How Good Can it Get?

Because I am more prone to incessant worry about future events than I am to anticipating good outcomes, or pleasant surprises, I continue to struggle with my pessimism bias. That is I tend to exaggerate the likelihood that negative things will happen in the future.

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This morning, walking back from the gym, I had a thought drop in from the sky. A simple little question just popped into my head.  The question I pondered. . .

I wonder, how good can it get?

or better said by Alan Cohen . . .

 

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Here, a cheat sheet to the many cognitive biases that keep us stuck.

Featured image “Open mind” ceramic series by Johnson Tsang

(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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Expanding Our Minds & Paving a Path to Freedom

I had so much, but felt so little.   I think it was a deeper desire for more meaning and joy, for I had become numb, deadened and desensitized to my life. I wasn’t depressed, I was discontent.  It wasn’t that my life was bad. I would have some nerve complaining about anything, considering those with real misfortunes.  My life was just too predictable in an annoying way and I had way too many people leaning on me for support. To top it all,  I was reliving the same problems over and over and over again, applying solutions that didn’t work.

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I felt tired, disillusioned  and quite unfulfilled.  Everything was on replay. The things I collected, now collected dust and took up too much space – books, clothing, furniture – the clutter of “cherished” memories – did nothing but confuse me.

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At the very same time, my parents, in their 70’s, living in a pretty remote part of Florida, were in need of some help. Their health was degrading. Actually, their lives were falling apart. The house in need of growing repair.  It was May when I got the call. Mom developed stage four lung cancer and dad,  tormented by anxiety and fear, slipped deeper and deeper into dementia. He was frustrated, angry and confused as well. They didn’t want anyone’s help, they didn’t want to see that they could no longer take care of themselves.

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Every single day brought on a mini disaster as they continued to try to do the things they use to be able to do.  Fires in the oven, crucial medication missed, terrible falls in the middle of the night and countless visits to the emergency room. I dreaded every flight I took to see them.

I witnessed first hand what people do when they hold on too tight, when they cling to the past, when they shut down, when they isolate themselves. They were terrified to the point of paranoia.   They became delusional and just couldn’t and wouldn’t accept the inevitable – that everything eventually breaks down, fades away.  Everything in life is impermanent. We die a little each moment, with each breath we exhale. This is a part of the process of life. It is also why we must hold life preciously in our hearts, while we have the time we do.

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Time does not stand still for anyone and while I was extremely sad,  I am grateful that I was able to comprehend the lesson and the wisdom in my parent’s painful decline. Clinging to what once was and wishing things were different does us no good and only has us suffocating and suffering more.

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It was with this that I made the non-negotiable decision with myself, that I wanted more joyful moments in my life while my vision is not blurred with cataracts, my hands can still lift a pot to cook and my legs can carry me for long walks along the shore

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We must be grateful for every second we have now and every gift of a moment we have from this second forward. We must learn, adapt and find new ways to stay relevant and useful. Purposeful while doing the best with what we have.

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At the same time that I was keeping my head above the water with my parents in crisis and my freelance work, my husband, my darling, told me that he never took the lithium he very so needed to keep his bipolar illness at bay.

In and out of hospitals for much of our marriage, it was one roller coaster ride after the next.

The meds seemed to help keep him balanced, or so I thought.  It was the last draw and he lied to me and that hurt very much. He began self-medicating with drugs and then alcohol and then God knows what. Anything to soothe his mania I guess. He was trying to  help alleviate the heightened anxiety.  All of this crazy behavior around me was pushing me further and further into disassociating from all of my emotions.

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I did not want to accept the reality of all of this pain. He too, may have been on a path – while I was choosing to discard of  anything that no longer served me well. He may have been seeking the same, using different tools, a different approach. Somewhere along the way there was a huge disconnect. That’s the trouble with chemical imbalances and mental illness, you never know what’s real or what’s just a troubled mind gone off on a really wild tangent.

So, the only question to answer: What do I do now?

Forgiveness first, self-care second. I’ve been exploring the wisdom of Buddhism, the secrets of the Kabbalah and enjoying the calm and mind-clearing benefits of meditation and yoga. I am doing more of what I enjoy doing. Swimming in the ocean, bicycling, Soul Cycle, exploring new places, reading, long walks, dancing and time with my daughters and friends.

So far, I have come to understand and respect, that by becoming more curious about myself and how I think and in turn expanding my awareness by building my propensity to be mindful, to forgive and to give with loving kindness.  I feel healthier and more energized. By asking What am I to do now? What is the right thing to do next? I am guided by my heart and values that I hold dear.

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With the current state of world affairs, I have been questioning just how sane we really are. Frankly, I am frightened of what’s to come and the media loves it that way.

My biggest concern is to have a strong enough mind that I don’t become brainwashed by all the bad news. I have always wondered how people followed someone like Hitler, let alone Trump. This truly concerns me. Reading books about the holocaust like Man’s Search for Meaning Viktor Frankl and watching movies like Schindler’s List and Life is Beautiful, I still ask myself, how do these atrocities happen?  I have become so concerned that if the world completely fell apart, I want to make sure that I have a strong enough mind and spiritual base that I do not follow the herd.

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This herd mentality is something I know I desperately need to avoid. I need to seek a more meaningful understanding of life, so that I can strengthen my mind and continue to think clearly. So that I can better understand the truth and the purpose of living and giving with intense gratitude each day. I know that clinging to fear of falling prey to stronger (albeit: unhealthy) minds. My mind should never be controlled by outside forces, including fear.

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Generating Good Vibes & Why You can’t afford Another Negative Thought

This is probably TMI and I never told anyone outside of my family this, but here you go. . .
I have been emotionally drained this past year (wait, my entire adult life) with a very unstable ex-husband who is non-compliant with his medication. The father of my four darlings, this charismatic dude is lashing out and vibrating at a super, super, super angry and rage-full frequency.
He comes with the complete package – bipolar, borderline personality disorder, substance abuser and quite frankly a big, no, forgive me HUGE pain in the ass. Yes I knew he had this disease and yes it has been an extremely rough road, yes we had some great times in-between, but the biggest problem I have right now is he is displacing his pain, resentment and rage on his  own grown children.
Thank God they are strong enough to see through the manipulation and self-pity.
Look, I know he is sick and yes I have been compassionate, but as anyone involved with someone who has untreated bipolar that is exasperated by drug and alcohol abuse will tell you – it is just horrifying to see someone self-destruct when they know very well that there is medication and healthy ways to manage this illness. To make matters worse, he had an incredible nine years of wonderfulness in-between episodes. I am grateful to have had that time with him, BUT. . .
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I just see way too many people with manic depression and mental illness struggling to take care of themselves while broadcasting their lives on YouTube and blogging about their daily challenges. It seems extremely selfish for him to at the very least try to commit to lifelong mental health.
What a beast of a disease.
So, I search for solutions. Not for him, for ME now. I am done with trying to fix someone who doesn’t want help. Disease or no-disease, there comes a time when you have to protect and care for yourself. Shout out to all you amazing caregivers out there.  I feel you.
Where do I begin?
Right now I feel like I need to wash, no SCRUB off the toxic and at least try to vibrate on the highest level I possibly can.
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Help. I’m looking for the blessings. Sure it could be worse, but damn.
The quote that keeps me hanging on lately –

We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations. 

Please someone help me see the possibilities.

Rule #1 Stop doing things that don’t produce results.

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I use to smile a lot. I smiled because I was genuinely happy inside. Then somehow life started to feel like an uphill battle, a long, arduous climb. The thing I like about smiling is that if feels like the boldest statement you can make, without saying a word.
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Strangers would comment about my smile. Out of the blue, I would be walking down the street, on the train, at work, “what a contagious smile you have”.  Great smile, they’d say and they’d smile back.
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My smiling days. It felt like my energy was pure & protected from the pains of the world.

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I remember once my father asked me when I was smiling one morning “what the hell are you so happy about?” It was as if he was accusing me of being phony, fake, a poser. It crushed me for a while. But I kept on smiling.
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I want to get that great big beautiful smile back. I want to FEEL the way I did when I didn’t know much.

I want to dance, sing, celebrate, love, kiss, hold, run, laugh, swim myself back to that state of being – that sweet inner bliss –  for no apparent reason I just glow.
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I understand it’s about raising your vibrational frequency. Or at least that’s what the people say on the internet :). Look, there is even a vibrational emotional scale that someone put together. I have no idea if this is true, but I know I want to be in the blue/violet zone even the turquoise.
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The funny thing about those smiley days,  it wasn’t as if my life was any better than it is now. Perhaps it was full of what I perceived to be more promise and hope. There were dreams, visions and ideas. Sometimes, I think it’s about getting back to your original story line.
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How to Re-energize My Life & Produce Some Damn Good Vibes

So the story goes that watching my thoughts can lead to better emotions which will then dictate improved behavior and possibly upgrade my vibrational frequency.
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My plan? 
Stay away from people who are low energy, negative thinkers, complainers, whiners and of course just downright mean. Mean people just suck.
Track my emotions during the day and use them to inform me of what I need to fix.
Also, do more to improve and increase my vibrational state –
Meditate
Listen to music
Drawing & painting
Dancing
Outdoor Bike riding
Cycling
Long walks and hikes
Watch inspirational books, movies
and listen to some of my favorite podcasts and spiritual teachers
Use aromatherapy while sleeping and at the desk
Stay outdoors, one with nature, as long as possible
Swimming the waters
Living in a state of appreciation
Dedicate myself to doing what makes me happy & relaxed.
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In Omnia Paratus – Ready for All Things – Self-Awareness & Other Life Advice My Mother Never Told Me

I strongly believe it is everyone’s responsibility to create a firm daily devotion to committing oneself to life long learning and the continual development of waking up with honest self-awareness.

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This morning I was thinking about some of the teachings of spiritual catalyst, Teal Swan, specifically her guidance about the importance of having an emotional wake up call.

“Our emotional selves are children. And they never grow up. We just learn how to parent our emotional selves better.”

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Yes my parents gave me good guidance, but they couldn’t possibly have told me everything. Here are a few lessons I am learning along the way . . .

  • This moment, right here, right now is the only one you have. Feel it, see it, taste it, hear it and take it all in. Be here now.  The book by Ram Dass

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  • Hold sacred an unconditional, nonjudgmental relationship with reality as it is right now.
  • omnia mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis All things change, and we change with them.  Adapt every day.
  • Trust your basic wisdom.
  • Everything takes time. It’s okay to live life on your time. You don’t have to run with the herd.
  • Watch how you talk to yourself. Realize when you are too self-critical. Stop the pattern. Break the loop.

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  • Do not worry about how others look at you, what they are thinking or whether you fit in.  Being “normal” will get you nowhere.
  • When all else fails, be kind.
  • Again, try to be gentle and soft with yourself and with others.
  • Stop pressuring yourself. Rushing anything simply ruins it. Slooooooowwwww down.

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  • There is rarely ever anything to be nervous about.  Face what you think makes you weary.  Get curious about that.
  • Remember you are a miracle. Nothing short of a miracle.
  • Time is precious. There is none to waste.

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  • You have what it takes to try anything you want. There are many options, choices and directions you can go.  Experiment with your life.
  • You are dying with every single breath. Appreciate every single moment. Even the most annoying ones.
  • At any given moment, everything is always as it should be. Acceptance brings serenity.

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  • You can not control everything.
  • You must control the way you respond to others.
  • Get to know what triggers your strongest emotions. There’s the work that needs to be done.

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  • At any given moment, you will know the right thing to do.
  • Be thoughtful about everything, even if others are not.
  • You don’t have to be larger than life, famous or popular. You simply have to play your part in this wonderful life to the best of your ability, every day.
  • Do something ridiculously fun every single day.
  • Whatever action you take, whatever word you say, make sure it decreases pain in the world.
  • People may disappoint you if they aren’t working on themselves. Forgive yourself for being impatient with them. For they no not what they do.
  • Anger and resentment are poison and will manifest into physical ailments. Let go everyday. If you feel yourself getting overly heated and enraged, step away for awhile. Retreat, think, respond.

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  • Your emotions are important for they tell you what to do. Yes, some of them are signals, but they are here to guide you, not take over your day and life.
  • Some emotions are false, yes they are you, trying to protect you, but don’t fall prey to every single one, over reacting to situations is usually related to an over sensitivity to past trauma. The problem arises when you start to react in a bigger way than justified. Read: How to Stop Overreacting.
  • Stop making up doom and gloom stories about what might happen in the future. Not everything is going to be a disaster.
  • When in doubt about what to do, do something good. Good for you, good for others.
  • Open up your heart, be real, be vulnerable. Life is not meant to be lived in the safe zone.
  • The painful moments are the lessons. Move through your problems by facing them for they will tell you a lot about yourself.  What haunts you must be addressed. Release your tendency to run away, to seek pleasure before pain.

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  • Have an unconditional, loving relationship with the world. There is no escape, no exit. There are lessons to be learned every day. Everyone you encounter is your teacher. Pay attention.  Pema Chodron.

I would love to know what lessons you learned on your own. Share below in the comments.

 

 

 

Be The Light You Need

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And in the word’s of William Shakespeare. . .

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”

Your fate is in your beliefs and behavior, and how you respond to life events.

 

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Those who have been reading know that I am working on improving my behavior. Here I share a few things that have changed. These are new perspectives that have helped me grow.

1. I have let go of trying to change or control others. You just can’t. Change yourself instead. Besides, it’s more interesting and rewarding. Life changes, when you transform. You heal, life heals. It is that simple.

2.     Realize that feelings should be processed not suppressed.

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3.   Give up suffering needlessly, no longer worrying about worst case outcomes. The truth is, life is full of surprises. You must be wise enough to know that life doesn’t always produce what you wish would happen. It’s typically creates what is most likely to happen. Prepare for that.

4.   Learn to listen and observe more, to understand what is really happening around you.

5.   Take stock of this moment while mindfully paying attention to the here and now.

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6.    Choose to be more responsible of all that is happening in your life. I am beginning to own mine. It makes me feel stronger. More accountable. Even a little more in control.

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7.    Understanding that you should embrace your eccentricity. It’s what makes you, you. Don’t be worried about being different. Appearing normal will get you no where. Stop behaving as if you are seeking the approval of others. Seek approval from yourself.

8.    Please continue to release all that no longer serves you. Let the useless go. People, places, things.

9.    No more delusional thinking. Experience reality for what it is, not what you wish it was. That is kind of like #3.

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10.   Seek clearly without judging. Then you will see it most realistically. Reality is your friend.

11.   Honor yourself and your desires.

12.   It’s not necessary to share every little emotion, thought or feeling with anyone who will listen.

13.   Forgiving and letting go. Put that on repeat. It is so freeing.

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14.    Cease to react to every little thing that happens.

 

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Selective Perception & Mental Gymnastics

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Sunday seems like as good a day as any other to start thinking about ways I can strengthen my mind. To start with, I stumbled upon this smart list of  brain training, mind-soothing exercises.

A Mind Clearing & Expanding List of Good Thinking Skills

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The truth is, the quality of your mind determines the quality of your life.

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I have to diligently guard what enters my mind. Note to self: stave off the temptation to randomly search YouTube. Consume Quality. Read and watch only quality books & films.

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Don’t believe everything I think. Don’t hold onto every little thought. Release, and let it go. Meditation can help you with this.

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Give my mind some well-earned rest. The importance of self-care.

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Brighten my mind with hopeful, peaceful and positive thoughts. Training my mind to be  calm and to ward off the alarming effects of long-term, chronic stress.

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Focus on what I want, not what I don’t want. This ain’t easy. The mind always wants to go back to ruminating worry and concern.

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Develop a healthy rule book for good thinking.

Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

 

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Understand & know what I value. Freedom, truth, a sense of security, peaceful living and love.

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Take my mind on adventurous trips. Inspire it by doing more of what I enjoy.

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Feed it good food. Each brain cell gets a boost from healthy nutrition.

And know that I have a choice – how I react to any given situation.

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Avoid negative people, gossip, bullshitters and crazy makers at all costs. Like the plague.

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Learn new skills. Study what I am curious about. Dabble.

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Free my mind of unnecessary pain, guilt and fear. Ask questions instead. Stay curious. Continuously ask yourself, Why are you doing what your doing? Like right now, why are you reading this? I know why I am writing it. To help me become a better version of myself than I was yesterday.

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Organize my surroundings.  Remove what is useless. Declutter my life and my brain.

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Most of us value intensity. Intensity makes us feel like we are busy, productive and important. Not. True. Slowdown.

Our breathing can shift our minds.  Breathing to conserve my energy. Yes, there is a direct link between emotions and our breathing patterns.

Expand my mind in the great outdoors. Clear my mind.

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Beware of Brutum Fulmen.  Apparently coined by the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder, a brutum fulmen is a harmless or empty threat. It literally means “senseless thunderbolt.”

Lot’s of things in life are empty threats. Even those you scare yourself with – ignore them.

Read: 20 Latin Phrases You Should be Using