Life Lessons with

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Life Lesson 1

 

5 Truths You Must Accept Before You Can Grow

Hard but essential pills to swallow in order to become your best-self

 
Ayodeji Awosika

Ambitious people are a dime a dozen. Most people doubt themselves. All of us — in some shape or form — are stuck in la la land.

 

One of the most difficult yet useful skills is the ability to balance your aspirations with reality. A pessimist and an idealist both miss the point.

 

The point is to have optimism about your future but look at the state of society, your environment, and your circumstances without rose-colored glasses.

 

Many of these truths sit right under your nose. Intuitively you know they’re true, but facing them head-on means discomfort.

 

Success or failure in life comes from which type of discomfort you choose.

 

You can choose the discomfort of facing reality, making decisions to change, and having the difficult dialogue needed to do both.

 

You can also choose the discomfort of rationalizing your situation, lying to yourself, and making excuses.

 

The choice is yours. In my experience, and from what I’ve observed, taking the discomfort upfront can feel horrible in the short run but rewarding in the long run. Pushing it away with the avoidance of truth alleviates discomfort in the short term, but it always comes back and persists until you do something about it.

 

Take a look at the truths I’m about to share with you. Technically, they are my opinions. You’re free to disagree with them. Before you do, though, try to take a look at yourself and your situation honestly to determine whether you really disagree with me, or you’re just hiding.

 

The World Will Never Quit Poking You

 

Most [people] make the error of thinking that one day it will be done. They think, “If I can work enough, then one day I could rest.”Or, “I’m only doing this now so that one day I can do what I really want with my life.” The […] error is to think that eventually, things will be different in some fundamental way. They won’t. It never ends. As long as life continues, the creative challenge is to tussle, play, andmake love with the present moment while giving your unique gift. — David Deida

 

Have you ever felt like your circumstances were trying to break you?

 

Just when you’ve improved your finances, your car breaks down.

You wake up on the wrong side of the bed, come to work to a nagging boss and go home to an indifferent spouse.

Every time you take a step forward, you take three back. Inevitably, just as you’re on the rise, something or someone tries to knock you down.

If only life would give you a little bit of a break, you tell yourself, you’d have enough energy to make an effort to become successful.

 

Deep down, you believe success provides an escape from life’s problems. You figure if you had enough income, freedom, and positive experiences in your life…the bullshit would stop.

 

It doesn’t and it never will.

 

In fact, when you push to do something outside of the box — start a business, write a book, become an artist, carve your own route — not only will things get worse before they get better, you’ll still have to work to maintain what you’ve achieved.

 

People of all walks of life have problems. Billionaires have problems, Hollywood actors, the Dalai Lama all have problems. Around every corner, just when you think you’ve won, life will find a way to see what you’re made of.

 

But there’s beauty in the struggle of life when you look at the right way. When life tests you, you get the chance to prove you’re resilient. One of the deepest levels of satisfaction comes from knowing how strong you are. Few memories are better than those of overcoming struggles, persisting, and absorbing pressure and turning it into fuel instead of letting it break you.

 

Realizing the world will constantly test you removes the element of surprise. When you find yourself in a bad spot, it feels doubly worse because you didn’t see it coming.

 

Know that life is preparing its next right hook, but as Jim Rohn said, “Don’t wish it was easier. Wish you were Better. Don’t wish for fewer problems. Wish for more skills.”

 

Our first reaction to pain and hardship — mine included — is to dwell on how much it sucks. A few of us, however, realize there’s an opportunity to be had.

 

It’s easy to say and difficult to do, but if you can learn how to transform pain into purpose you’ll feel a type of happiness that is ten times better than the feeling of having a life devoid of difficulties.

Maybe our purpose on this planet isn’t to feel good. Maybe we’ve been placed here to see what we’re made of.

 

Almost every time life tests you, you won’t want to find the opportunity in it. I never look positively at a challenge or hardship instantly, but after I’m done sulking, I look to take a step in a positive direction.

 

Try it. Over time, it works wonders.

 

Things Will Never be the Way They “Should” Be

 

“We unconsciously imprison ourselves to avoid our most primal fears. We choose Should because choosing Must is terrifying, incomprehensible.”- Elle Luna

 

Should — what a simultaneously dangerous and useless word.

 

People often use should in one of two ways — to give themselves an excuse for not doing something or for complaining about an unchangeable circumstance.

 

A perfect world doesn’t exist — the one without inequality, injustice, unfairness, superficial people, hate, greed, envy, lust, the list goes on.

 

Are you using the world to avoid living in reality?

 

Maybe you think you should be making more money. But you’re not, and believing you should make more isn’t going to change that. Finding a new job could change that. Improving your performance and negotiating a raise could change that.

 

Complaining definitely won’t.

 

Maybe you think you shouldn’t have to work twice as hard to achieve the same level of success as someone else. But what if you do have to work twice as hard? Are you going to wait for the scales of justice to even out? They won’t.

 

Again, you can complain if you want, but complaining isn’t a strategy. It doesn’t do anything.

The same energy you use to rail against the way life should or shouldn’t be could be used to improve your situation.

 

Should also become dangerous when you talk about the things you aspire to do. “I should start working out,” you tell yourself. “I should start working harder and being motivated.” The minute you use the word in your head or out loud, you’ve already lost. It gives you an out. You almost get a perverse satisfaction from thinking about doing something. It gives you the credit you don’t deserve yet.

 

Instead of talking about what you should do and the way the world should be, you’re better off doing.

 

Doers make change happen for themselves and for others. Doers don’t have time to think about what they should or shouldn’t do. They know what to do. If they don’t, they gather enough information to have an idea of what to do and act on it.

 

Ask yourself where the word should is causing harm in your life. Now, what are you going to do about it?

 

No One is Coming to Save You

 

“Sure, raise the minimum wage if you plan to stay there your entire life.” — Jim Rohn

 

When was the last time the government came to your rescue?

 

The answer is likely never. Yet we treat it like a savior or a demon when it’s neither. It’s a machine. An uncaring machine that’s completely self-interested. Regardless, we make our way to the voting booths to ensure our guy or girl wins.

 

Look at your own life. Has it changed dramatically between presidencies — not in terms of news coverage or your feelings about the president — but your actual life from day to day?

 

Are you waiting for an employer to save you with a raise or magically improving your work environment? If so, you might be waiting for a long time.

 

It’s easy to blame the government, your employer, or someone other than yourself for your woes. It’s easier to say wages should be higher than to try to become more valuable.

 

I’m not saying the institutions of society are fair. They’re definitely not. With the fleeting life you live, however, you don’t have time to wait for institutions to save you.

 

Odds are, you’ll have to lift yourself out of your circumstances. Will it be easy? Hell no. But you really don’t have a choice — not if you want to change your life.

 

Everything is Your Fault

 

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”-Theodore Roosevelt

 

I know what you’re thinking.

 

You were born poor, your parents didn’t treat you well, you have a disability, you have a funny accent, you live in the wrong city, you’re sick, your boss hates you, you have no money, you’re a disabled veteran, you’re black, you’re a woman, you’re gay, you’re trans.

 

You’re special. And because your circumstances are so unique, you couldn’t possibly be to blame for your failures.

 

Deep down we know we’re the common denominator of all our problems, but it’s hard to face. Why?

Because it means we’re the ones who have to change our situations. And if we don’t change our situations, we can only blame ourselves. Nobody wants to think they’re the only real barrier to their own success, happiness, and well-being. It’s easier to blame someone or something else.

 

And no, I don’t think you’re lazy, mediocre, or “don’t want it bad enough.” It’s genuinely difficult to take full ownership of your life. It can be uncomfortable or downright painful. The natural reaction is blaming someone other than yourself because your brain wants to protect you from harm and danger.

 

But you can overcome these excuses.

 

You’re in control of your life.

 

Are you in control of what happens to you? No, but you’re in control of how you react to what happens to you.

 

You choose how to react to situations, maybe not fully and consciously, but choose nonetheless.

 

If you don’t take responsibility for your life, who will? I know how hard it is. Denial feels bad, but it hurts a little less than accepting the truth of your role in your own life.

 

If you go through the painful period of acceptance and get up from the floor, I promise greater things are ahead.

 

You’ll Never Find the Perfect Time Start

 

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” — Proverb

 

I remember the first time I told my wife I wanted to start writing.

 

“I think it would be really fun to have a blog and start writing,” I said.

 

“Well…why don’t you start writing then?” She replied.

 

I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was 17 years old. I didn’t start until I was 25. Maybe I was too immature to write anything of value until I’d lived a little, but I still wonder how much further along I could be now if I started earlier.

 

Did I make a declaration to become a writer, buy a typewriter, and lock myself in a room to write for hours? No.

 

I started with one blog post…and I’ve been writing nearly every day for years since. There’s power in starting. You don’t have to make a big deal out of starting a new project, just do it.

 

Seriously, what are you waiting for?

 

Are you waiting for the kids to grow older or move out so you can write that book?

 

Leo Tolstoy had 13 kids when he wrote War and Peace.

 

Are you waiting to have enough money to start your business?

 

If you have a good idea, there are various ways to start businesses at a low cost or find seed money. Oh, it’s hard to find seed money? Well, starting a business is hard. Deal with it.

 

All salesmen know the phrase “now isn’t the right time,” is a lie. There’s always a hidden objection behind the polite ones given such as lack of time, money, or ideal circumstances. The objection could be that the buyer doesn’t trust the seller, they don’t believe the product will deliver on its benefits, or they do believe in the product but not in themselves to get the most from it.

 

The way you self-talk is much like the relationship between a salesperson and a customer. You give yourself the polite out, but the truth is there’s a deeper objection.

 

What is it?

 

You may not have even consciously thought of it yet. You really might believe in your own polite excuses. Until you dig deep to find the hidden reasons behind your behavior, you’ll never change. I talk about this process at length in my book.

 

We all have deeply embedded beliefs about ourselves and about the world we live in — business is “risky,” intelligence and talent are fixed traits, finding a secure job will make us happy, others are luckier than you are, rich people steal, you’re left or right brained and can’t cross over, being healthy means depriving yourself, you must own a home and have kids, men are evil, women are evil, the list goes on and on and on.

 

Many of these beliefs keep you from starting. You’re not a “numbers person” you tell yourself. Richard Branson has dyslexia and teachers labeled him learning disabled as a child — he’s a billionaire.

You think you can’t succeed because you’re ill or have a disability. Jon Morrow — a man who cannot move anything below his neck — owns a multi-million dollar blog with a viewership of millions per month.

 

I can find a counterexample to every excuse you have for not starting “x.”Rather than argue with me about it, why not just start?

 

Learn How to See

 

There’s a lot of noise in the world. A lot of b.s. You can find success by seeing through it all.

 

You can wait for the world to change into the ideal state you want it to be, or you can learn to navigate it.

 

The people we call successful, they can see — through the limits, society tries to place on people, through the cliches that aren’t true, through the joy-sucking prisons called institutions.

 

Can you see now?

 

I hope you decide to use the lens of truth to shape your decisions moving forward. It won’t feel good right away, but it will feel amazing when you look back at all you’ve done.

 


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Life Lesson 2

 

To Become Super-Likable, Practice “The Ben Franklin Effect”

The 18th-century observation later confirmed by science

Barry Davret

+When Ben Franklin sought to transform an adversary into a supporter, he turned to an unusual approach. He later described it in his autobiography as an old maxim.

 

In 1969, researchers would confirm his maxim. Today, we call it “The Ben Franklin Effect.”

 

I’d first heard of it during a sales training years ago, and would learn more about it from Franklin’s autobiography. In it, he writes a story about an adversary of his in the Pennsylvania legislature.

Franklin wished to befriend or at least neutralize this adversary, so Ben asked him for a favor — to borrow a rare book. The adversary sent it, and Franklin returned it a week later with a note expressing his gratitude. When they next spoke, it was with great civility, a departure from their previous encounters. In time, they became lifelong friends.

 

He summed it up this way.

 

He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged — Ben Franklin

 

Okay, a bit too 18th century, so I’ll modernize his quote. In short, logic suggests that if you do someone a favor, they’ll reciprocate. Not so, according to the theory. You are more likely to receive a favor from someone if they have already done one for you.

 

Cognitive dissonance explains why it works.

 

Let’s suppose you perform a favor for someone to whom you feel indifferent towards, or maybe even dislike. You now experience dissonance, an inconsistency between your belief and your action, which you must resolve. I just went out of my way to do a favor for this jerk. Why?

 

Your mind reaches for harmony between the two, so you alter your beliefs to fit your action. Eh, he’s not all bad. Actually pretty cool at times. It’s far easier to convince yourself you like the other person than it is to reason away your action or pretend it never happened. And since we do favors for people we like, we’re more likely to grant additional ones.

 

The possibility of using this technique intoxicated me. I’ve always suffered from a lack of charisma and have struggled with meeting new people. I was eager to try out this strategy, not to manipulate others, but to improve my likability.


The hard truth about the “Ben Franklin Effect.”

Sorry, but you can’t go around asking people to do you favors and expect them to oblige. You might even annoy a shit-ton of folks. But that doesn’t mean you can’t employ the essence of what Franklin observed centuries ago.

 

If you read over the snippet about Franklin’s original request, you might notice the second factor at play. It wasn’t just a favor that he asked; it was a special kind, one that probably evoked a feeling of pride in his adversary.

 

Franklin’s adversary took great pride in his rare book collection. By asking to borrow from it, Franklin validated his adversary’s passion. He implicitly stated, “You have excellent taste and judgment in books.”

 

That kind of validation generates warmth and appreciation. It’s hard to avoid liking someone who compliments you on your excellence, passion, or taste.


A strategy to enhance your likability

 

Like most techniques to improve your interpersonal relationships, you need to put in effort on the backend before you execute on the frontend.

 

1. Learn about the people you wish to befriend

Pay attention to the subtle clues people drop in their conversations. What skills do they pride themselves in? What passions do they pursue? Ask questions to learn more about their likes and interests. Pay attention to the things they speak of most. You’ll discover what’s important to them.

By acquiring this information, you can seek small favors in a way that validates their passions and abilities.

 

2. Ask for a targeted favor

Ask for a favor that’s easy to deliver but meaningful for you to receive. Don’t put someone in an uncomfortable position. Never ask someone to do you a favor when you should be paying them for their work. That’s a surefire strategy to make you unlikable.

 

By acquiring the right knowledge in step one, you’ll attune yourself to opportunities as they arise. You only need to pay attention to the subtle cues.

 

Perhaps an acquaintance of yours touts their chops as a foodie. She boasts about her connections with local restaurants. Since you have a date night planned with your partner, an opportunity presents itself.

 

You need a restaurant. Call that foodie acquaintance of yours. Ask her for a favor.

“I have a special dinner planned for Friday,” you say. “I need to pick the perfect place. Can you do me a favor and help me?”

 

If she prides herself in this sort of thing, she’ll appreciate that you recognize her expertise. And since the ask is simple, she’ll oblige. She may even offer to set up the reservation with her contact.

 

3. The gratitude sandwich

 

Always express gratitude once the favor completes. Start with a sincere thank you. Include a sentence about how it benefitted you or what it meant to you. Sandwich it with a closing, thank you.

“Thank you for getting us into that restaurant. It was an unforgettable evening. My partner can’t stop talking about it. Thanks again. I appreciate your help.”

 

Avoid saying something like, I owe you one, or I’ll make it up to you. That makes it transactional. Friends do things for each other out of kindness; they don’t enter into transactions.


Ben Franklin made a lifelong friend when he asked an adversary to borrow a book. Simply asking people for favors won’t make you more likable. It might even make them resent you.

Instead, learn about people’s passions and interests. Ask for a targeted favor when the opportunity arises. And always remember to express gratitude in a way that demonstrates how much it meant to you.

 

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Life Lesson 3

 

The Danger in Fake Positivity and Spiritual Bypassing

Negative emotions and experiences allow us to grow

Vanessa Smith Bennett

These days, the realm of spirituality (and sometimes psychology) can feel fake.

 

Instagram and other social media are jammed with influencer posts about positive vibes, about not allowing negative energy or thoughts to get to you, about surrounding yourself with only supportive, positive people.

 

Unless you live in a bubble or on Mars, this is not only unrealistic, but also a recipe for never growing or truly learning who you are.

 

If you attempt to transcend or avoid difficult experiences, you can remain emotionally stunted. Spiritually minded psychologists and teachers refer to this as spiritual bypassing. Like it or not, the ugly parts of our humanity are where growth can occur. In the words of Buddhist teacher, author, and nun Pema Chödrön:

 

Feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear… are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They’re like messengers that tell us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck.

 

Many emotions serve as flags indicating an opportunity for us to learn. Challenge, sorrow, change, discomfort, conflict, hatred, depression, and anxiety are paths to growth and change. We can explore and accept the parts of ourselves society urges us to keep tucked away. Painful or uncomfortable experiences enable us to grow past our current emotional and spiritual states.

 

Fake positivity can perpetuate a lot of the stigma around mental illness. Encouraging someone who has clinical depression to focus on the positive is not helpful and can actually do more harm. This advice can bolster the feeling that they are at fault because they cannot simply pull themselves up by the bootstraps. I tell people struggling with depression that they are more tuned in to real human experience and emotion than those pushing the positive-vibes-only agenda.

 

Clients don’t come to therapy or seek life coaching because everything in their lives is going wonderfully.

 

They are stuck in a pattern chock-full of negative emotions, and they cannot seem to break free.

 

Sometimes we need an unbiased third party to help us see what we are running from or challenge us to face what we are unwilling to feel.

 

Friends and loved ones can’t do it for us; we have too many emotional ties.

 

Doing this difficult work can lead to lasting change. It takes real courage to stop pretending you have it all together and shake hands with deep sadness or childhood trauma. (Yes, this is a plug for going to therapy. I can’t help it. I’m a therapist.)

 

The path of individuation asks for total integration of all facets of the self: good, bad, and ugly.

 

Sometimes there is nothing to do with or about these emotions. Sometimes we need to simply acknowledge these feelings—to sit with sorrow, resentment, or jealousy without trying to change the experience or pick it apart.

 

We have to allow ourselves to unfold, to witness emotions flooding our system, to breathe into the places in our bodies where we are stuck. We experience a softening when we allow space for all emotions, not just those that feel good.

 

If we can allow ourselves the space and acceptance to be multifaceted, we will experience life to its fullest.

 

Being human means facing suffering.

 

There is no light without dark, no joy without sadness. If we don’t experience all feelings, we have no basis for comparison.

 

If we run from certain emotions by staying busy, expressing fake positivity, or abusing mood-altering substances, we are cutting away half our existence.

 

When we stop and honor difficult emotions, we have the opportunity to live fully and integrate all parts of ourselves. These feelings will torment us until we stop running from them—and from the truth of who we are.

 

Next time you feel a sense of anger, fear, or sorrow, I challenge you to pause, get still, and remain quiet.

 

Notice the feeling in your body and take a deep breath into that space. You might even place a hand on the spot—the chest, the stomach, the throat—where the emotion seems to reside.

 

When you recognize these feelings, you truly honor your humanity. You may feel a loosening or a challenging emotion washing over you. But it will fade, like a wave that crashes on the shore before receding into the ocean.

 

It’s also important to own your feelings.

No one can make anyone feel any particular way.

It may seem like someone else is triggering us, but the source of discomfort is always within.

 

Blaming your anger or resentment on someone else is a very easy way to bypass the inner work.

 

The path of individuation asks for total integration of all facets of the self: good, bad, and ugly.

 

Don’t get discouraged by the difficult moments and emotions, and don’t push them away or diminish someone else’s experience by encouraging fake positivity.

 

Uncovering and understanding the self is a lifelong journey that demands rejection of conventional attitudes and the mask of positivity.

 

June Singer, noted American psychologist, put it this way:

 

It is an easy thing to say “be yourself” but quite another thing to know who you truly are. How can you be yourself if you do not know that self? Therefore, the process of individuation becomes a seeking after self-knowledge.

 

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Life Lesson 4

 

13 Rumi Quotes That Will Change The Way You Think

They will open your heart and mind to the beauty that lies within you.

Omar Itani

Rumi was a Persian poet and scholar from the 13th century.

 

His words and wisdom have crossed all borders and continue to stand the test of time. There is great beauty in the words he spoke, and it’s no wonder he has influenced and inspired many artists throughout the years.

 

His quotes stand to transform your life for the better by inviting more hope, love, and awakening. Here are 13 quotes that will open your heart and mind to the beauty that lies within you and, in doing so, change the way you think.


 

“Yesterday I was clever so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise so I am changing myself.”

 

Who you were ten years ago and who you are now are two different people. The same applies to me. What began as a journey of seeking an answer to “how can I change this world with my ideas” transformed, in more recent years, into “how can I change myself so I can better be suited to contribute to this world.”

 

Changing yourself doesn’t mean becoming a different person, it simply means working on improving yourself to become better; learn how to have higher self-awareness, cultivate a stronger mindset, find meaning in what you do and develop mindful habits that boost your productivity.

Your goal is to understand yourself better and become more grateful, resilient, confident and productive in your daily life.

Work on bettering yourself — only then can you be in a position to contribute positive change to the world.


 

“The quieter you become the more you are able to hear.”

 

Every year, Bill Gates takes two “Think Weeks” and spends them alone in a cabin in the woods. He does it to escape the noise, read books, reflect on his progress and engage in deeper creative thought. Studies have shown that people who learn to find comfort in solitude tend to be happier, experience lower levels of stress and are less likely to have depression.

 

A few years ago, I flew to Sri Lanka on a solo trip and spent a week on a silent retreat. That experience was eye-opening; it set me on a path of greater self-awareness and gave me a much better idea of where I wanted to take my life. I went quiet, and in that silence, I was able to hear.

Silence and solitude go hand-in-hand. Learn to integrate at least 10 minutes per day to be alone with your thoughts because “the quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.”


 

“The art of knowing is knowing what to ignore… Ignore those that make you fearful and sad, that degrade you back towards disease and death.”

 

There will be people who will try to stop you from following your dreams and most will project their fears and limiting beliefs onto you.

 

Gary Keller, the author of The One Thing, says that “the way to protect what you’ve said yes to and stay productive is to say no to anyone or anything that could derail you.”

 

We are faced with so much noise in life that sometimes it’s easy to get lost in it. The key is to say no. Say no to the doubters — ignore them. Say no the ones holding you back — ignore them. Say no to fear, negativity and criticism — ignore them.

 

If you wish to make music in your life, you must tune out the noise. Find strength in ignoring what derails you from your focus of becoming better and moving forward in reaching your potential.


 

“It’s your road, and yours alone, others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.”

 

In other words, if you don’t find the courage to go after what you want in life, you’ll never get it.

I spent the majority of my life talking about “one day writing a book”.

 

But instead of doing anything about it, I just talked about it — and never wrote. I’d always find an excuse why not to: ‘I don’t have time to write’; ‘it’s a great book idea but I don’t know how to start it’…

Excuses are fabricated illusions we create to rationalize our behaviors when we’re too afraid to go after what we really want.

 

If you keep giving yourself excuses, you’ll never walk the road. Twenty years down the line, you’ll regretfully look back and say “I wish I had.”

 

Whatever it is you want to achieve in your life, you must be the first one to step forward toward it. Start walking the road now, so that later on, others may walk it with you.


 

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

 

On May 19th, 2017, I had a bike accident and blacked out on the street. It was bad; I ended up spending the rest of the summer recovering from surgery. But that accident — that wound — transformed me.

 

Light is defined as “the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible.” Through that accident, light entered to show me things I was blind to.

 

It taught me to slow life down and appreciate what I have. It opened my eyes to the abundance in my life and I became a grateful person who set out on a deeper path of self-discovery.

 

Light makes things visible, and a wound is a place where the light enters you. We all experience pain, sorrow, and misfortunate in life; no road is free from bumps.

 

The key is to not fall blind in the moment’s darkness and dwell in self-pity but to allow the light to enter you and show you all that you cannot see.


 

“Inside you there’s an artist you don’t know about.”

 

This is similar to Picasso said:

 

“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

 

J.K Rowling is an artist in the way she unfolds a story. Kobe Bryant was an artist in the way he played the game of basketball.

 

Michael Jackson was an artist in the way he brought music to life.

 

Pablo Picasso was an artist in the way he interpreted his paintings: “The world today doesn’t make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do?”

 

Art is defined as “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination.” Which means we all have the capacity to create art.

 

The key is to allow yourself to explore it.

 

Never lose sight of your inner-child. You are an artist in your own way. The question is are you willing to take the time to resurface your inner-child, discover what your talent is and be curious enough to explore it?


 

“As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.”

 

This is so true. So many times we find ourselves hesitant because we know where we want to go but we don’t know how to start.

 

You want to build your own business, but you’re not sure how to start.

You want to become a New York Times Bestselling author but you’re not sure how to get there.

You want to become a musician, but you’re not sure how to release music.

 

But it’s not about the how; it’s about the where.

 

You need to be moving towards something in life — a goal, a direction or destination. Don’t dwell on the details, just get started.

 

How you’ll get there is something that will unravel as you begin the journey towards that destination. But you must start walking first — walk, and the way of “how” will present itself to you. You’ll figure it out as you go.


 

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.”

 

Some call it passion.

Some call it purpose.

Others call it meaning.

Whatever you call it — it’s “curiosity” that pulls you closer to it.

 

And curiosity isn’t something you “think”, it’s something you “feel” that stems from the heart.

 

It’s that feeling you have for someone that goes from a crush to one date to a relationship. It’s that feeling you have for writing that takes you from amateur to blogger to author. Let yourself be drawn by its pull.

 

Learn to follow your heart. It can lead you to places you could’ve never imagined.


 

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

 

This is beautiful. What Rumi is saying is we must learn to love ourselves before we try to love someone else.

 

When we were first born into this world, we joined it as a little bundle of joy, screaming our way into existence.

 

Thoughts like “I’m not good enough” or “I’m fat” or “I’m not a good person” are things we’ve come to believe either because we were told these things earlier in life and we never questioned them, or because we repeatedly said (and still say) those things to ourselves, and through time, they were encoded in our subconscious mind.

 

Self-care is necessary for your sanity and your health. It means loving yourself for who you are today and forgiving yourself for your past.

 

It means changing the story you tell yourself: “I am good enough”; “I love my body”; “I am a good person”.


 

“The garden of the world has no limits, except in your mind.”

 

This is the most powerful of all because it reminds us that we set our own limits in life.

 

You can choose to see the world as a lush green garden scattered with waterfalls that flow with possibilities. You can also choose to see it as a bottomless pit of troubles and a life-sucking machine of death.

 

Which one will it be?

 

The world is a direct reflection of your mind.

 

Look through a lens of positive possibility and you will see the gardens of growth; look through a lens of negative restrictions and you will see the abyss of demise.


 

“Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.”

 

Recent research has proven that gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.

 

It not only unshackles you from toxic emotions, improves your physical and mental health and offers positive lasting effects on the brain, but it also helps you feel more positive emotions, become more resilient in dealing with adversity, and build stronger relationships with family and friends.

 

Gratitude allows you to see life with abundance. Practice gratitude and its positive implications will spill over into other areas of your life.


 

“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?”

 

You were born with wings.

You are meant to fly, explore and discover.

Why are you crawling?

Why are you not spreading your wings, filling them with the winds of conviction?

It’s fear isn’t?

 

That’s completely normal because fear is omnipresent; fear is always there.

 

But with time, I’ve learned that fear is not something we must overcome, rather it’s simply an emotion that we must channel differently.

 

Fear is an instinct and it only rises for things that we care for — it’s a form of resistance to stop us from spreading our winds.

 

Not wanting to do something will make you feel indifferent about it, and thus fear is tamed. It’s only when you have an inclination for something — an interest — that fear rises.

 

If you give in to that fear, you will continue to crawl through life; if you don’t, you will spread your wings and fly like you were born to do.


 

“When you let go of who you are, you become who you might be.”

 

If you want to become a successful entrepreneur, you must shed your older habits and limiting beliefs in order to grow in the journey.

 

If you want to become a great writer, you must learn to crush your self-doubt and fear of vulnerability and expand in the process of “becoming.”

 

It’s in the journey where you find happiness.

 

It’s in the journey where you become what you dream to be.

But to grow and expand, you must be willing to let go of who you are — your limiting beliefs, harmful habits, and negative self-talk.

At the end of the day, you are the only one holding yourself back from reaching your potential.

 

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Life Lesson 5

 

How to Become Popular Without Being Charming, Funny, or Outgoing

It’s your actions that matter most

Barry Davret

My first day of eighth grade taught me the meaning of the word “unpopular.” I had just moved to a new school district and didn’t know anyone. At lunchtime, I grabbed a tray of food, walked into the seating area, and thought, “Oh shit.”

 

There were no open tables. Plenty of seats were available, but I couldn’t bring myself to plop down in an open chair in the middle of a group of friends. So for most of the year, I ate while walking around, pretending like I had somewhere to go.

 

Even as an adult, I never grew into the type of person whom others were automatically drawn to. I couldn’t spin a good joke or charm my way around cocktail parties. I wasn’t a master conversationalist. I figured I would never achieve popularity, and just had to live with it.

But then I learned to adapt.

 

Over the years, I learned that if you’re charming, funny, or outgoing — great. But in the long run, it’s your actions that matter most. You become popular when you exhibit behaviors that make people like you, admire you, respect you, and seek you out. Here are seven ways to do that.

 

Be the diplomatic one

Long before I developed skills to compensate for my shyness, friends knew me as someone who could resolve disputes and break the tension.

They saw me as impartial, fair, and coolheaded.

When you develop this reputation, people will seek you out as a trusted adviser to settle confrontations.

To take on this role, spend more time listening than talking.

Don’t take sides.

Refrain from inserting yourself into disagreements.

If someone asks for your opinion, say, “I don’t know.

Can each of you explain your stance on the issue?”

You’ll be amazed at how often people work things out without any additional effort on your part, but you’ll still get credit for restoring the peace.

 

Give unforgettable compliments

Anyone can give a compliment, but most compliments are lazy.

Flattery like “You have nice eyes” or “Love your work ethic” is too vague to spark anything in the recipient other than a passing appreciation.

A memorable compliment has three components:

  • It’s narrow. The compliment addresses a small aspect of a person’s actions, expertise, or values.
  • It’s specific. It expresses in detail what triggered the desire to praise.
  • It validates. It shows appreciation for the person’s skills, taste, or values, and most importantly, recognizes what they believe (or wish to believe) about themselves.

Here’s an example of a compliment that accomplishes all three objectives: “I loved your article about rekindling a lost love. The idea of demonstrating instead of expressing love explained the distance I’ve been feeling with my spouse. We tried your communication strategy and really reconnected.”

 

Don’t keep score

I once believed you should give and then wait for reciprocation before giving again.

That was a mistake.

Fretting over debits and credits of favors only leads to resentment.

 

Giving freely to others benefits you, even when the recipient fails to balance the ledger. When you share your expertise, you reinforce the lesson for yourself. When you do someone a favor, you feel good about being helpful.

 

That doesn’t mean you should let people exploit you.

Nor should you give away something that deserves compensation. But when you give out of passion rather than obligation, you become someone people like, admire, and respect.

 

Ask, don’t tell

My quiet personality brought me one benefit: I never became one of those self-absorbed blowhards — one who rambles on about their life as if nobody else in the world matters.

 

To compensate for my lack of charm, I learned to ask questions.

When you ask open-ended queries, you keep others talking while you learn about them. You might ask: “Tell me a little bit about your role” or “Interesting, can you say more about the challenge of winning a deal?” or “What’s it like to have that responsibility?”

 

Follow your questions up with punchy reversals to keep people talking about themselves: “How’d you do that?” “What’s next?” “How so?” “I’m curious to hear more about…”

 

Once you get in the habit of asking questions, conversations become more comfortable. Your friends and peers will appreciate the opportunity to talk about their favorite subject: themselves.

 

Remember the insignificant

A mentor of mine had a practice of finding out trivial facts about people and tracking them in a spreadsheet.

Then, whenever he’d read an article, spot a quirky gift, or meet someone who reminded him of a person, he’d reach out, saying something like, “Hey, I just found this auction for Russian nested dolls. Was it your wife who had a collection?”

 

You don’t need to be that organized about it, but find your own way to remember the seemingly insignificant details of a person’s life. It makes them light up. They know you’re really listening.

 

Don’t complain

Some folks are quick to express negativity when things don’t go their way. I know this because I’m one of them. But after years of hearing, “Why are you always so negative?” I’ve become conscious of my behavior.

 

Avoiding negativity and complaining won’t instantly make you the most popular, but being the one who always finds a problem in everything is sure to repel people like a steak at a vegan retreat.

When you feel the urge to go negative, try this:

  1. Think, but do not speak your negative thought.
  2. Change perspectives. Ask yourself, “What good can come of this? How can I turn it into something positive?”
  3. Share your positive perspective.

 

Be first when it hurts

Be the first one to lead. Be the first one to defend. Be the first one to call out injustice.

 

Standing up for the vulnerable puts you at risk for rejection and attack.

That’s why most people refuse to do it. It’s less risky when you’re the second, third, or fourth person to join the fray.

 

But being the first when it hurts earns you respect from the people who matter.

 

If you exhibit these seven behaviors consistently, it won’t matter whether you’re someone who can captivate crowds at dinner parties or make hilarious observations wherever you go. You’ll attract people simply by being a better version of you.

 

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Life Lesson  6

 

Life Lessons From a Psychiatrist Who’s Been Listening to People’s Problems For Decades

 

How you approach life says a lot about who you are.

 

As I get deeper into my late 30s I have learned to focus more on experiences that bring meaning and fulfilment to my life.

 

I try to consistently pursue life goals that will make me and my closest relations happy; a trait that many individuals search for their entire lives.

 

Nothing gives a person inner wholeness and peace like a distinct understanding of where they are going, how they can get there, and a sense of control over their actions.

Seneca once said, “Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power.”

 

“No people can be truly happy if they do not feel that they are choosing the course of their own life,” states the World Happiness Report 2012. The report also found that having this freedom of choice is one of the six factors that explain why some people are happier than others.

 

In his best-selling first book, Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now, Dr Gordon Livingston, a psychiatrist who’s been listening to people’s problems for decades, revealed thirty bedrock truths about life, and how best to live it.

 

In his capacity as a psychiatrist, Dr Livingston listened to people talk about their lives and the many ways people induced unhappiness on themselves. In his book, he brings his insight and wisdom to the subjects of happiness, fear and courage.

 

“Life’s two most important questions are “Why?” and “Why not?” The trick is knowing which one to ask.” Acquiring some understanding of why we do things is often a prerequisite to change. This is especially true when talking about repetitive patterns of behavior that do not serve us well. This is what Socrates meant when he said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” That more of us do not take his advice is testimony to the hard work and potential embarrassment that self-examination implies.”

 

Most people operate on autopilot, doing the same things today that didn’t work yesterday. They rarely stop to measure the impact of their actions on themselves and others, and how those actions affect their total well-being.

 

They are caught in a cycle.

 

And once you get caught in the loop, it can be difficult to break free and do something meaningful.

Past behaviour is the most reliable predictor of future behaviour.

 

If your daily actions and choices are making you unhappy, make a deliberate choice to change direction. No matter how bleak or desperate a situation may appear to look, you always have a choice.

 

“People often come to me asking for medication. They are tired of their sad mood, fatigue, and loss of interest in things that previously gave them pleasure. ”…“Their days are routine: unsatisfying jobs, few friends, lots of boredom. They feel cut off from the pleasures enjoyed by others.

Here is what I tell them: The good news is that we have effective treatments for the symptoms of depression; the bad news is that medication will not make you happy. Happiness is not simply the absence of despair. It is an affirmative state in which our lives have both meaning and pleasure.”

 

“In general we get, not what we deserve, but what we expect,” he says.

 

Most people know what is good for them, they know what will make them feel better. They don’t avoid meaningful life habits because of ignorance of their value, but because they are no longer “motivated” to do them, Dr Livingston found. They are waiting until they feel better.

Frequently, it’s a long wait, he says.

 

Life is too short to wait for a great day to invest in better life experiences.

 

Most unhappiness is self-induced, Dr Livingston found.

 

The three components of happiness are something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to.

 

Think about it.

 

If we have useful work, sustaining relationships, and the promise of pleasure, it is hard to be unhappy. I use the term “work” to encompass any activity, paid or unpaid, that gives us a feeling of personal significance. If we have a compelling avocation that lends meaning to our lives, that is our work, ” says Dr Livingston.

 

Many experiences in life that bring happiness are in your control. The more choices you are able to exercise, and control, the happier you are likely to be.

 

“Happiness is an inside job. Don’t assign anyone else that much power over your life,” says Mandy Hale.

 

Many people wait for something to happen or someone to help them live their best lives.

They expect others to make them happy.

They think they have lost the ability to improve their lives.

 

The thing that characterizes those who struggle emotionally is that they have lost, or believe they have lost, their ability to choose those behaviors that will make them happy, says Dr Livingston.

 

You are responsible for your own life experiences, whether you are seeking a meaningful life or a happy life.

 

If you expect others to make you happy, you will always be disappointed.

 

You can consistently choose actions that could become everyday habits.

 

It takes time, but it’s an investment that will be worth your while.

 

“Virtually all the happiness-producing processes in our lives take time, usually a long time: Learning new things, changing old behaviors, building new relationships, raising children. This is why patience and determination are among life’s primary virtues,”

 

Most people are stuck in life because of fear. Fear of everything outside their safe zones. Your mind has a way of rising to the occasion. Challenge it, and it will reward you.

 

Your determination to overcome fear and discouragement constitutes the only effective antidote to that feeling on unhappiness you don’t want.

 

Dr Livingston explains.

 

“The most secure prisons are those we construct for ourselves.”

“I frequently ask people who are risk-averse, “What is the biggest chance you have ever taken?” People begin to realize what “safe” lives they have chosen to lead.”

 

“Everything we are afraid to try, all our unfulfilled dreams, constitute a limitation on what we are and could become. Usually it is fear and its close cousin, anxiety, that keep us from doing those things that would make us happy. So much of our lives consists of broken promises to ourselves. The things we long to do — educate ourselves, become successful in our work, fall in love — are goals shared by all. Nor are the means to achieve these things obscure. And yet we often do not do what is necessary to become the people we want to be.”

 

As you increasingly install experiences of acceptance, gratitude, accomplishment, and feeling that there’s a fullness in your life rather than an emptiness or a scarcity, you will be able to deal with the issues of life better.

 

Closing thoughts

 

Dr Livingston’s words feel true and profound.

 

The real secret to a happy life is selective attention, he says.

 

If you choose to focus your awareness and energy on things and people that bring you pleasure and satisfaction, you have a very good chance of being happy in a world full of unhappiness, uncertainty, and fear.

 

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Life Lesson 7

 

5 Exceptional Morning Routines That You Probably Didn’t Consider Yet

How you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have. — Daniel Handler

Sinem Günel
 
The power of morning routines is no secret anymore.

At the latest through the fame of amazing books like The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, or Robin Sharma’s 5 AM Club, morning routines became very popular among those who are into personal growth and self-improvement.

 

Yet, that’s no coincidence. The world’s greatest minds and most successful people have been reporting to practice morning rituals for many decades.

 

Bill Gates, for example, starts his day on the treadmill, watching educational videos.

Benjamin Franklin woke up at 4 AM every day and scheduled his day.

Oprah starts her day with at least 20 minutes of meditation.

 

However, sadly, the majority of people spend their mornings in a rush. Instead of leading their days, they fight through them.

 

A continuous morning routine is the best way to start your day properly and improve your productivity and your wellbeing throughout your days. Through a morning routine, you let go of the stress and instead focus on things that are good for you.

 

While habits like meditation, sports, reading, and journaling are quite well-known, I want to introduce you to a few morning routines that are less known, yet incredibly effective.


1. Hydrate

I am not sure if that one is really exceptional, but I know that many people neglect to drink enough water.

 

You should take care of hydrating your body throughout the whole day, yet the mornings are especially important.

 

While sleeping, you spend many hours without hydrating your body. You wouldn’t do that throughout a typical day.

 

At least you shouldn’t.

 

Going through a day without drinking water for six hours or more would cause fatigue, headache, and a few other unpleasant symptoms. That’s precisely why you should extensively hydrate your body right after getting up.

 

Being dehydrated makes you feel tired and lowers your performance.

 

If you feel exhausted and low in the morning, the reason might not be a lack of sleep but dehydration.

For me personally, that means filling up my bottle with warm water and drinking 2–3 cups of tea right in the morning.

 

Most of the time, it’s warm water with lemon and turmeric.

 

That doesn’t only hydrate my body but also provides essential nutrients to my body.

 

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive — to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.

— Marcus Aurelius


2. Go for a Walk

If you don’t like exercising the first thing in the morning, going for a walk might be a great choice.

 

I need to admit that I don’t stick to this during winter months, but in summer, I love it.

 

Going for a walk in the fresh air is a fantastic way to start your day. Especially if you have a little park and some nature around the corner.

 

A walk in the morning is meditative and yet energizing. It helps you to clear your mind and start your day with fresh energy.

 

Plus, walking itself comes with many more health benefits.

According to Harvard Medical School, a daily walk:

  • counteracts the effects of weight-promoting genes
  • helps tame a sweet tooth
  • reduces the risk of developing breast cancer
  • eases joint pain
  • boosts immune function

You see, a little walk in the morning doesn’t only boost your daily mood and performance, but it also comes with many more long-term health benefits.


3. Scrape Your Tongue

Tongue scraping might sound too fancy, but it is actually an Ayuverdic self-care practice that is around for decades.

 

Even though you might brush and floss your teeth, without scraping your tongue, your mouth stays full of bacteria, fungi, toxins, and dead cells.

 

In addition, scraping your tongue promotes good oral and digestive health, improves your ability to taste, stimulates internal organs, and is a defense against bad breath.

 

You can get a tongue scraper for a few bucks, yet, it can be a massive gamechanger for your oral hygiene.


4. Dry Brush Your Skin

Brushing our teeth and hair is normal, but what about our skin?

 

Dry brushing is uncommon but highly effective in cleaning your body from the inside out. It helps to detoxify by increasing your blood circulation. It also unclogs your pores and stimulates the nervous system.

 

The best time to brush your skin is right before your morning shower so that you can wash off the dead skin cells.

 

However, dry brushing your skin is not something that you should practice every day. Once or twice per week is completely fine.


5. Listen to Binaural Beats

Binaural beats help you to bring your brain into the same state as when you are meditating. It’s a brainwave entertainment technology that helps you to hold the mind’s focus.

 

Listening to binaural beats helps you to get into a meditative state easily and quickly.

 

“It is possible that hormonally induced physiological behavior changes may be made apparent by measuring the binaural-beat spectrum.” — Dr. Gerald Oster

 

For those who struggle with meditation, but want to have a few calm minutes in the morning, binaural beats are a great alternative.

 

Additionally, binaural beats come with many more benefits, like reducing anxiety, increasing focus and concentration, lowering stress, fostering positive mood, and promoting creativity.


A morning ritual shouldn’t be complex or exhausting.

 

On the contrary, it should let you feel energized and well prepared for your day.

For me, journaling, breathing exercises, visualization, and hydration are inevitable parts of my morning routine.

 

Yet, what I experienced is that sometimes, if you are too versed in doing something, you are not mindful anymore.

 

While I appreciate the benefits of everything that I do in the morning, I don’t want to be in an automatic mode throughout my mornings.

 

I want to be mindful and present.

 

That’s why I try to mix my routine up every now and then.

 

And I believe that these five habits can also improve your life and wellbeing at least a little bit.

Just choose one of them (except hydration, that’s a must-have) and explore whether it works for you and makes you feel better throughout your mornings and days.

 

 

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Life Lesson  8