Inspired By Every Version of You

The practice of putting down the score card of assessment and focusing on loving our selves as we are – in constant transformation. By Madeline Johnson

Your true essence is unchangeable but you can choose a different identity at any time.  Your identity is who you see yourself to be; as you express this identity, it becomes the ‘package’ by which others identify you.

If you’re no longer inspired by the way you see yourself and others see you, you can adopt a new identity by changing your beliefs, choosing to accentuate other personality traits, emphasizing different values, or adding a new flavor to your self-expression. 

Our beliefs and values can change overtime, and what used to define you strongly may no longer be an authentic part of you.

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Our bodies know this instinctively. Our bodies are in a state of constant transformation and renewal. On average, our small intestine and stomach cells turnover every 3 days. Our bones renew their osteoclasts every two weeks. Our skin sheds every 10 – 30 days, depending on our age.

Up until very recently, it was believed that our heart cells could not regenerate.

Each morning, we awake a slightly new and fresh version of ourselves.

Yet we continue to judge ourselves. We are especially good at judging our old selves. We practice self-judgement every time we compare who we are with who we should be.

Yet, every day we are given the opportunity to be someone new.

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The practice of putting down the score card of assessment and focusing on loving our selves as we are – in constant transformation – is the perfect anecdote.

Featured Artist

Instagram @strangecomplexbeauty

 

It’s a Good Day, All Day

Understanding what triggers you emotionally and setting yourself up for a good day. By Madeline Johnson

Mondays can bring so much promise. Like a new year, Mondays can offer a clean slate. A fresh start. A chance to begin again as you plot and plan for a better, more productive week.

Setting out to have a good day, a good week or a good year begins with a conscious knowledge of one’s own feelings, motives, and desires. It starts with knowing who you are and how you will navigate your day to get where you want to go. You understand there will be inevitable distractions.

You need to know what sets you off. What disrupts your day. What makes you feel angry, needy, shutdown and frustrated. What triggers a bad mood for you.  Anything that makes you experience a negative emotional response that could pull you off course.

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Understanding how you react to people and situations throughout the day will help you identify patterns in your life and develop a better understanding of the events in your life that usually lead to a problem, similar to what Mei does at work. Mei is an artificial intelligence messaging assistant that warms of personality changes based on communication with co-workers.

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Knowing What Set’s You Off

What triggers you? It’s important to identify when you feel the need to be accepted by others, understood, in control of the situation, paid attention to, at peace. Understand if it is important for you to have things in order, to feel safe and secure, to have a bit of fun during the day. Are you getting the respect you think you deserve? Do you feel like your talents are needed?

Do you always need to feel right? Are you comfortable? Calm? Do you feel as if your life is balanced? Are you spending too much time on work and not enough with your friends? Is your life way too predictable? Are you a bit bored with what you are doing?

Could you use a bit of challenge in your career? Your relationship? Are you feeling like you are liked, valued and being treated fairly by others?

Does everything feel a bit too chaotic around you? Like something could break, crack or fall apart at any minute?

Do you believe that others are ignoring you? Avoiding you? Do you feel included?

Make it your mission to understand how you operate.

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If at any point during the day you feel out of sorts, off, emotionally frustrated, take a pause.  Breathe deeply. Calm your mind. Don’t get so worked up.

Try sitting up straight and breathing deeply to the count of six. Breathe through your nose for six counts and out your mouth for six. Go slowly. Deep, deliberate inhalations and exhalations. This will calm you down.

Take a moment to understand what you need right now? Do you need to be patient? More tolerant? Less tolerant? Perhaps you need to explain yourself again? Let others know how you feel? Show some compassion? Walk away?

Before you take action, question your own thinking. Know if what you are thinking and feeling is actually true, or if it is a projection of what you negatively think is true.

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What might trigger you?

  • Someone rejecting you.
  • Someone leaving you (or the threat that they will).
  • Helplessness over painful situations.
  • Someone discounting or ignoring you.
  • Someone being unavailable to you.
  • Someone giving you a disapproving look.
  • Someone blaming or shaming you.
  • Someone being judgmental or critical of you.
  • Someone being too busy to make time for you.
  • Someone not appearing to be happy to see you.
  • Someone coming on to you sexually in a needy way.
  • Someone trying to control you.
  • Someone being needy, or trying to smother you.

Read more here

You’ll probably want to avoid them, but find out why they are behaving the way they are – and why you are reacting they way you do.

Realize everyone is trying to trigger you.

Advertisers and marketers bake emotional triggers into their brand messaging. They know how strong emotional triggers will motivate you to act from feelings like fear and desire.  These emotions have effect on you, whether it’s feeling like your life is lacking excitement, adventure and love from an Instagram story to feeling like you are a lonely, loser and not enough from a YouTube ad. The messages are incessant. Turn them off.

Getting a leg up on emotional triggers. Face them . . .

  • Do the most important things first this morning. Understand what you need to do vs what you want to do.
  • Watch what you tolerate.
  • Expect yourself to be triggered by something or someone and have a plan. Avoid or face it.
  • Spend some time alone during the day.
  • Practice being more compassionately assertive.
  • Decide how you will respond to how others mistreat you. Not react. Respond.
  • Try to understand others. God only knows what they are going through.
  • Protect your time at all costs. Tech apps below to do just that.
  • Let others know when you won’t be available. Make something up – like you have an important meeting to go to. They won’t know. Or tell the truth. You are working on something big and need to focus.
  • Decide what you will pay attention to today. If you can, put your phone on airplane mode for a while.

Be strong.

8 Things Mentally Strong People Do Everyday

Technology to help you say no to distractions and to help you have a better day, all day.

Freedom app helps you protect your time, so you can focus on getting things done during the day.

One Big Thing ensures that you focus on your main priority, that one big thing, all day long.

Headspace is like a gym membership for your mind. 10 minutes of meditation a day to help burn off the busy in your brain.

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Featured Art

Indonesia based artist Roby Dwi Antono works meticulously in painting, illustration, and drawing.  His paintings are especially detailed, depicting dreamy scenes.

Shifting Your Focus & Redirecting Your Energy

What to do when you feel like your life doesn’t align with your dreams. by Madeline Johnson

Everything is Energy.

 

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Your thoughts are energy

and everything we create begins with thinking first.

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Negative thoughts = negative energy
Negative thoughts lead to anxious days. Sometimes miserable ones at that.
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Energy cannot be created or destroyed. It can only be changed from one form to another.

– Albert Einstein
Fresh New Vibes
Your ‘vibration’ is a way of describing your overall state of being. Everything in the universe is made up of energy vibrating at different frequencies. Even things that look solid are made up of vibrational energy fields at the quantum level. This includes you.”
Read Raise Your Vibration here.
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What to do when you aren’t doing what you really want to be doing, but you must.
When you’re taking that job to pay the rent.
When you’re just way to comfortable with your significant other.
When you feel like you just don’t have any real friends.
When you’re feeling like a sell out.
When you’re not following your passion.
Or pursuing your purpose.
When you feel like a fake.
An imposter.
When you feel ugly on the inside, and maybe on the out.
When you feel like your life doesn’t align with your dreams.
You must redirect your energy. . . reconfigure that negative thinking.
You must change your mind.
Shift Your focus.
Yet still respect the rules.
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Realize you may be too close to see your reality.
Recognize that you are ruminating again. (but make sure you’re not problem-solving, which is a good thing).
Take charge of your thoughts, your life again.
Anxious rumination can pull us in and take on a life of its own, providing a superstitious feeling of security and control.
To get unstuck and outside of our heads, we can activate our right (nonverbal) brain by doing a simple physical activity such as a walk (without ruminating), or jogging in place for a minute or two. Or we can soothe ourselves, for example, by focusing on our breathing in a meditative way, drawing or painting, or listening to music. In this way, we can contain anxiety and unnecessary torment, as well as safeguard our psychological resources for genuine problem-solving, creative thought, relationships, and other challenges that pay off.
Allow yourself to rest first. Take a moment to pause.
Now begin to question and remove every thought that is not serving you well.
Physically change your environment. Put down the phone, close the laptop,
get the hell off of Instagram. Please.
Take a walk. Go for a bike ride. Stop and change your location.
Just move.
Take another moment to protect your energy. . .
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Understand that negative, anxious thinking is positive energy turned bad, spent complaining, fretting, crying, worrying, comparing and hating yourself.
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You must struggle to redirect it. You channel it. You take that pain and anguish and put it into something new. Let it out. Use that energy to make something new. Something that looks a little more like what you want.
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You take that energy and you journal a bit, go for a run or a walk, blast your favorite music. Make your bed. Clean the kitchen. You break out the water colors, turn to the fresh page, press open the notebook. You click on a new project on adobe. You put on your yoga leggings and grab your mat.  You walk to the market and pick up a wickedly healthy salad.
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Featured Art
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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.”

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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.

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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.

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

To Regain the Sureness of Your Soulfooting

I regain the steadiness of my soulfooting
When I feel this rapture of being alive.

– from the poem River Ride by Patti Auguste Hallowell

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“Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end.
And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party, because, as I think Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”

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Beautiful things I love about me.

My childlike enthusiasm and my a joie de vivre.

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My inner Glow with God.

I love my spirit that shines through with contagious and infectious optimism.

I honor my divine intelligence and love and oh how now you can see my soul so clearly.

My soul spark shines and breathes fresh air now.

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Free to be me with every beautiful new human encounter entered with the intention of honesty and love.

The best type of truth is told with thoughtfulness, a touch of tolerance and tenderness.

Silly, stupid human.  We think the truth has to be raw, harsh, angry and loud.  Something to fear, because you can’t handle the truth. No. No. No.

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You can handle the truth.

Truth can be whispered, softly, gently, and directly to the soul of another.

Let the world change you, so you can change the world.

-Motorcycle Diaries 2004

 

 

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Ego Trippers, Smiling Our Way Through Fear & The Life Long Importance of Relationships

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When we remove ego, we’re left with what is real.ReadEgo is the Enemy, Ryan Holiday

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Redefining Our Identities with and without Psychedelics

Ego death, or as Jung called it, “psychic death,” is also called “ego loss.” It signifies the complete loss of subjective identity. In Jungian theory, this precedes a rebirth into a new identity. Timothy Leary coined the term “ego loss” in regard to LSD experiences. Ego death is the second stage In Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey.  Ego death in Buddhism is related to understanding one’s true nature, (not mistaking the rope for the snake), which leads to a permanent awakening from ego fixation (one will never mistake the rope for the snake once it is seen to be a rope).

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Psychotherapy and psychedelics both assist in helping redefine identity. Psychotherapy focuses on ego defenses and issues stemming from identification with the ego and its journey to wholeness, while ayahuasca can loosen the strict boundaries of self-perception and allow other information and perspectives in, introducing a new dimension of healing.

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From Panic to Peace – Smiling Your Way Through Fear

Thich Nhat Hanh calls his practice of yes “smile yoga.” He suggests bringing a slight but real smile to our lips many times throughout the day, whether we are meditating or simply stopping for a red light. “A tiny bud of a smile on your lips,” writes Thich Nhat Hanh, “nourishes awareness and calms you miraculously. . . your smile will bring happiness to you and those around you.”

The power of a smile to open and relax us is confirmed by modern science. The muscles used to make a smile actually send a biochemical message to our nervous system that it is safe to relax the flight, fight or freeze response.  A smile is the yes of unconditional friendliness that welcomes experience without fear.

Smiling can be the trigger that switches us from operating under the power of the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) to the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). Our body is designed to be in the state of rest and digest most of the time, but there are too many stressful things in our life to keep our body to stay in the fight or flight mode.

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Why is smiling important? Smiling not only offers a mood boost but helps our bodies release cortisol and endorphins that provide numerous health benefits, including:

  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Increased endurance
  • Reduced pain
  • Reduced stress
  • Strengthened immune system

Read

Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

 

Good Genes are Nice, But Joy is Better

Robert Waldinger is a Zen priest and leader of the longest-running study of human happiness. He has found that science and Buddhism agree on what makes life happy and meaningful.

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Waldinger is also a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard University and director of the famed Harvard Study of Adult Development. It’s perhaps the longest-running study of adult life ever conducted. For seventy-five continuous years, it has tracked the lives of 724 men in order to understand what makes for a healthy, happy life. Now it’s following the next generation, as it tracks the lives of the original subjects’ children and their families.

Harvard study, almost 80 years old, has proved that embracing community helps us live longer, and be happier.

 

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On Love, Respect and Our Dark Side

There is a wonderful part to each of us – as well as at least 200 pounds of psychic toxic waste burying that wonderful part. It is necessary for us to learn to draw nourishment into the core of all that – into what is wonderful – and slowly cultivate it and allow it to emerge.

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This will happen as we operate in an environment of love and respect. It requires an attitude of service, which in no way depreciates us.

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Rather, it uplifts everybody because we are clear-headed, practical and coming from and understanding of the unity of life.

Excerpt from

Will I Be The Hero of My Own Life?

Swami Chetanandanda

 

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Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.

-Muhammad Ali

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Featured art work

William Blake (1757-1827)
The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun
c. 1803-1805
Watercolor, graphite and incised lines
43.7 x 34.8 cm

. . .
A Truth thats told with bad intent 
Beats all the Lies you can invent 
It is right it should be so 
Man was made for Joy & Woe 
And when this we rightly know 
Thro the World we safely go 
Joy & Woe are woven fine 
A Clothing for the soul divine . . .
William Blake’s true God was the Human Imagination. He did not need to be saved by Christ. Rather, through the salvation of his own imagination, which allowed him to engage in right-thinking and proper actions, he was his own Christ. While Blake was a scholar of the Bible, he was a highly original thinker who created his own mythology and his own human-centered religion.

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

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.

Energy
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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