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10 Excuses the Mind Will Tell You Before You Take the Next Step

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10 Excuses the Mind Will Tell You Before You Take the Next Step


STARTING NOW: NO shortcuts. NO quick fixes. NO blaming others. NO “I’ll do it tomorrows.” NO MORE EXCUSES!


The mind is a wonderful thing. It’s also an excuse-making machine that frequently tries to convince us not to take actions we know are good for us. And this prevents many positive changes from taking place in our lives.


I’ve had to learn to watch these excuses very carefully in order to make the positive changes I’ve made in my life: a healthier diet, regular exercise, meditation, more sleep, daily writing, better planning, less procrastination, more focus, etc.


If I hadn’t learned about these excuses, and how to suppress them, I would never have succeeded in making these positive changes. In fact, until I knew better, I had failed countless times when I was young because my mind’s deceptive tendencies used to get the best of me.

So why does the mind mess with us and make irrational excuses?


Because the mind wants comfort, that’s why. It’s afraid of discomfort, pressure and change. The mind is absorbed in its comfort zone, and anytime we try to stretch that zone too far, for too long, the mind tries desperately to get back to ground zero at any cost—including sacrificing our long-term health, happiness and success.


So let’s expose 10 of the cowardly mind’s most damaging excuses once and for all…


Excuse #1: I can’t do it.


It seems too difficult at first, so you think you can’t stick to the positive change you’re making. You don’t believe in yourself enough to take another step. This is a common excuse that can be countered by looking at the fact that other people no more capable than you have done it.

For example, my 60-year-old next-door neighbor ran a marathon a little before I started training for my first marathon, and so I told myself, “If she can do it, so can I!” And I was right. Truth be told, the only person who can tell you “I can’t” is you. If you hear those words echoing in the back of your mind, tune them out. Realize that your doubts and your faith have something in common—they both ask you to believe in something you can’t see. You simply have to decide which one you want to believe.


Excuse #2: They can do it, but that doesn’t apply to me because they have it better than me.


Just because someone else can, doesn’t mean you can, right? You look for reasons they can do it but you can’t—maybe he’s an internet entrepreneur or freelance writer because he has no kids. Maybe she’s way fitter than I am, so she can run a marathon. Maybe she doesn’t have all the work and family obligations I have, or has a supportive spouse, or doesn’t have bad knees. OK, fine, it’s easy to find excuses: but look at all the other people who also have considerable obstacles and have done it anyway.


Marc and I have a family, and have dealt with significant loss in our lives, and still managed to succeed on many fronts. And just as we’ve turned things around for ourselves, we know hundreds of other people who’ve done the same. Through a decade of life coaching, we’ve witnessed people reinventing themselves at all ages – 48-year olds starting families, 57-year-olds graduating from college for the first time, 71-year-olds starting successful businesses, and so forth. And stories abound of people with disabilities or illnesses who overcame their obstacles to achieve great things. Your obstacles can be overcome.


Excuse #3: I’m stuck because I don’t have enough time to make changes.


Have you ever met a happy, successful person who regularly avoids responsibility, blames and points fingers and makes excuses for their unsatisfying life? Me either. The truth is, you write your own destiny through the choices you make every day. You become what you repeatedly do. It is more important to know where you are going and why, than to get there quickly. In fact, the most important thing in life is knowing what the most important things in life are, and prioritizing them accordingly.


Most of us spend too much time on urgent things and not enough time on important things. So do yourself a favor and implement these three action steps every time you’re building or sorting your to-do list:

  1. Think about the difference between what is urgent and what is important.
  2. Review all the obligations on your list.
  3. Do what’s important first. (Read The ONE Thing.)

Excuse #4: It’ll be too hard because I can’t get by without _____.


Fill in the blank: I need my wine, my cheese, my sweets, my TV shows, my ten hours of sleep, my big house, my fancy wardrobe, etc. These are luxuries we convince ourselves we can’t live without, so we can justify not making positive changes like eating healthier or exercising daily or saving money or simplifying our lives or building a profitable side hustle. And like I said, I’m not immune either—in the past I’ve made these excuses myself, but they all turned out to be lies. I didn’t need any of these things in my life, and believing that I did was only getting in the way of the positive changes I was capable of creating for myself.


Excuse #5: Life is meant to be easier and enjoyed more.


Sure, I agree that life should be enjoyed (as most people would) but the problem is that the idea that life should ALWAYS be easy and enjoyable is used to justify all kinds of lazy behavior. Might as well sit on the couch and scarf down those cookies, because hey, life is meant to be enjoyed, right? Nope. You can do without junk food and still enjoy life. You can exercise and enjoy it. You can give up a lot of comfort in your life and not lose a thing. In fact, the path of least resistance is often the path of least reward.


You need to do hard things. There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. As Einstein once said, “Genius is 1% talent and 99% percent hard work.” You must run to be a runner. You must write to be a writer. You must actively work on a business venture to learn how to run a successful business. There is no substitute for doing the work. So meditate on this every day: “I will do the work. It won’t be easy. It will be worth it!”


Excuse #6: I deserve a reward (or a break).


We all deserve a tasty treat, or a day off. I’m not saying you shouldn’t give yourself a reward or break when one is deserved. But if you make this rationalization a primary rule for living, you’ll always be on a break. You’ll always be giving yourself rewards, and never adhering to the original plan. Here’s what I do instead: I see sticking to my plan as the reward itself. I see reaching my goals as a gift I give myself. Going on a run isn’t the thing I have to get through to get a reward—the run is the reward.


Excuse #7: I can do it later.


Sure, you can always do it later… but your later self will feel the same exact way. Think about it: Why should your later self be more disciplined than your present self? There’s no reason. In fact, because you’re allowing yourself to slack off now, you’re building a habit of procrastination and actually making it less likely that your later self will be more disciplined.


So today, stop making excuses for why you can’t get it done and start focusing on all the reasons why you must make it happen. Stop talking about what you have done or what you are going to do. Just do it and let your actions speak for themselves. Most great things in life don’t happen by chance, they happen by choice. You never know what’s possible until you risk finding out. In the long run, there is only one thing that makes your dreams and goals completely impossible to achieve: Your lack of action today. (Marc and I discuss this in more detail in the “Productivity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)


Excuse #8: One time won’t hurt.


This lie is so tempting, because it’s somewhat true: one time won’t hurt. Assuming, of course, that it really is only one time. One scoop of ice cream, one missed workout, one time procrastinating instead of working, etc. Unfortunately, it’s never just one time. One time means your brain now knows it can get away with this excuse next time too, and the next “one time” leads to another, until you’ve completely fallen off the wagon.


Make a pact with yourself: never believe the “one time” lie. If you’re going to allow yourself a scoop of ice cream, decide this beforehand and build it into your plan—“I will allow myself a single serving of sweets once every weekend” and stick to your plan, rather than deciding on the fly when your conscience is weak.


Excuse #9: I’ve already failed too much.


You’re only human. If you break down, it’s fine. Just don’t stay down. Rest, and then pick yourself up so you can go to where you’d rather be. Mistakes make us wiser. Failures help us grow. Hope keeps us going. And love is the reason we’re alive. Keep learning, loving and living.

As Winston Churchill once said, “Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It is courage to continue that counts.” Nothing could be closer to the truth. Persistence is the mother of all productive effort. Failures, small and large, happen every day to the best of us. The strongest, most productive people aren’t the people who always succeed, but the ones who don’t give up when they lose.


In the heat of the moment when you feel like quitting, think about how far you have come and why you started in the first place. Oftentimes you’re a lot closer to making a breakthrough than you think. Some people give up their efforts when they have almost reached their goal, while others conquer their goals by exerting, up until the very last possible second, more vigorous efforts than ever before.


Bottom line: Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit. Make some necessary adjustments, and KEEP GOING! (Read The Success Principles.)


Excuse #10: It’s too late now.


Change is constant, but growth is optional. Remain stuck or learn and grow. Where you end up is dependent on your daily attitude and response. And it’s never too late to change your attitude about something you can’t change. Just decide to make the best of it. No excuses. No regrets.

Honestly, nothing is too late until your tired heart stops beating. If you’re reading this right now, congratulations, you are alive, which means it’s not too late for you. Things can change if you want them to at any age. Right now you can choose differently and make something new happen. Your future is immediate. Grab on to it with both hands and keep on moving on. When you come up on a roadblock and are faced with the choice of sitting down and doing nothing or doing something to make further progress, choose the latter.

Think, work, and climb if you have to.


Move your life forward.




Your turn…

What kinds of excuses sometimes echo in the back of your mind? What’s one such excuse that has held you back?



No matter who or where you are in life, you can benefit from sound advice and practical strategies to reach your dreams. My expertise and experience will help you turn potential problems into opportunities.

If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of these questions or if you’ve ever watched someone negotiate a successful deal, walk up to a stranger and ask for a date, start their own business, entertain or give a speech in front of a large group of people and you remember thinking, “I wish I could do that, but I’m just not that confident” then Self-doubt, fear and lack of Self-Confidence are holding you back from achieving your goals. Which brings us to...

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10 Insanely Popular Ways to Weaken Your Self-Confidence

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10 Insanely Popular Ways to Weaken Your Self-Confidence

You can have all the knowledge in the world, but it means nothing without building up the confidence to do something with it.

Two decades ago, when the bullies at our high school called her a nerd for being a virgin and a straight-A student, my best friend Sara smiled and confidently said, “Thank you. I’m really proud of it.” She honestly was. What those bullies said never bothered her one bit. And this is just one tiny example of Sara’s incredible self-confidence.


I was reminded of Sara this morning when I received an email from a long-time blog subscriber (subscribe here) named Lane who is struggling with a similar bullying issue at a small community college where he’s taking classes. After describing his predicament in detail, he ended his email with this:


“I love your books and blog. Both have helped me get through a very low point in my life. But even though I’ve made progress, I often struggle with my self-confidence. These bullies really get the best of me. And I know my shattered confidence is really taking a toll on me. Therefore, what I need now more than ever is to learn how to walk in a more confident person’s footsteps, by changing the behaviors that kill my confidence.”So, pulling from over a decade of experience as a life coach, in an effort to help Lane walk more closely Sara’s footsteps, here are some insanely popular confidence-killing behaviors to avoid:


  1. Getting caught up in lots of needless drama. – Some people love to stir up controversy and drama for no apparent reason. Don’t buy in to their propaganda. Stay out of other people’s drama and don’t needlessly create your own. Instead, imagine what would happen if you spent this entire day, and every day hereafter, with all your energy directed toward your most positive possibilities. Rather than being annoyed, be amused. Instead of getting angry, become curious. In place of envy, feel admiration. Life is too short to argue, fight, or be overly negative. Count your blessings, value the people who matter, and move on from the drama with your head held high.
  2. Seeking approval from everyone around you. – Confident people have no interest in pleasing everyone they meet. They are aware that not all people agree on things, and that’s just how life works. They focus on the quality of their relationships, instead of the quantity of them. So never let the opinions of the masses define who you are or what you can or can’t do. When you let go of the need to impress everyone, that’s when you begin to be truly impressive to the few people who actually matter. And when you earn the trust and respect of these select few people, no matter where you go or what you try, you will do it with confidence—because you know the people who matter are behind you.
  3. Making excuse after excuse after excuse. – Have a plan that’s bigger than your excuses. There is so very much to touch, to do, to create, and to experience. Confident people take ownership of their thoughts and actions. They don’t blame the traffic for being tardy at work—they know THEY were late. They don’t excuse their shortcomings with excuses like “I don’t have time” or “I’m just not good enough”—they make the time and they keep on improving until they see results. Even a tiny effort is infinitely more productive than a big, impressive excuse. So stop seeing every obstacle as an excuse and start seeing those obstacles as forming a pathway to your goals. (Read The Last Lecture.)
  4. Ignoring or second-guessing your intuition. – Intuition is very real and something that is never wise to ignore, because it comes from deep within your subconscious and is derived from your previous life experiences. If everyone else is telling you “yes” but your gut is telling you otherwise, it’s usually for a good reason. When faced with difficult decisions, seek out all the information you can find, become as knowledgeable as you possibly can, and then listen to your God-given instincts. Believe in yourself. Know that trusting your intuition is equivalent to trusting your true self; and the more you trust your true self, the more control you have of making your goals and dreams come true.
  5. Disempowering yourself with weak language. – Confident people use words with intention. Consider the difference between these two aspiring bloggers: One says, “Yes, I am a blogger. You like meditation and yoga too? Excellent! We need to connect—check out my new mindfulness guide I just posted at…” vs. “Well, I am trying to blog but am not sure I am doing it right (nervous giggle). I wish I had started sooner… blah, blah.” Who do you think gets the most views, comments and social shares? Bottom line: If you’re trying to build something or become something, own it and speak like you mean it. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Passion and Growth” chapter of the NEW edition of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
  6. Thinking, “Why me? Why me?” – On the contrary, confident people think, “Why not me?” Sadly though, many people feel they have to wait: to be hired, to be good enough, to be chosen – like the old Hollywood cliché, to somehow be “discovered.” But confident people know that access is basically universal these days (especially if you’re online reading this article). They can connect with almost anyone through social media. (Everyone you know knows someone you should know.) They know they can attract their own funding, create their own products and services, build their own networks of clients and partners, choose their own path – they can choose to follow their dreams. And very quietly, without calling too much attention to themselves, they go out and do it.
  7. Needing to always be right. – Confident people take a stand not because they think they’re always right, but because they’re not scared to be wrong. Cocky, conceited people tend to take a position and then preach, argue, and totally disregard differing opinions or points of view. They “know” they’re right (even when they’re wrong) and they want (actually, they need) you to know it too. Their behavior isn’t a sign of confidence, though; it’s the trademark of a bully. Truly confident people don’t mind being proven wrong. They know that finding out what is right is a lot more important than being right. And when they’re wrong, they’re secure enough to back down graciously and appreciate the lesson learned.
  8. Talking just to hear yourself talk. – Begging for attention by talking constantly is just another mask for insecurity. Thus, confident people are often quiet and unassuming, and they listen as much if not more than they speak. They already know what they think, so they want to know what you think. Follow in their footsteps by asking open-ended questions on the topic of discussion, and give others the freedom to be thoughtful, introspective and resourceful. Ask questions like: What do you do? How do you do it? What have you learned from it? What would you do differently if you were starting over? And so forth. Ask these questions to learn, because you know a lot, but not everything, and the only way to learn more is to listen more.
  9. Letting success get to your head or failure get to your heart. – If success makes you arrogant, you haven’t really succeeded. If failure makes you determined, you haven’t really failed. Period. Think about success and failure differently. Don’t take everything that goes wrong personally, and don’t get a big head when everything goes right either. Be a humble, life-long learner. Create, enjoy, learn, love, experience, succeed, fail, persevere, make mistakes, make progress, take risks, and find the treasure in each day.
  10. Hiding from new life experiences. – Get out there. Let life touch you. Yes, it will hurt sometimes. But the pain will be much deeper if you build an impenetrable wall around yourselfyour own 100-foot tall wall of comfort—your own self-inflicted prison sentence. Life is too short for that. Don’t let the fear of making the wrong decision prevent you from making any decision at all. You have too many beautiful places to go. Today is full of possibility. Now, do something about it!

It’s your turn…


If you only remember two words from this whole article, let them be: Learn and Believe.


Learn: As in… learn through experience. Learn from others. Remain humble, open-minded and teachable. Put yourself out there and let it all sink it. Push yourself to the edge of your comfort zone, so you can expand it and grow a little more confident every day.


Believe: As in… believe in yourself and your ability to succeed. Believe in your intuition, especially when you have to choose between two good paths. Believe that the answers are out there waiting. Believe that life will surprise you again and again. Believe that the journey is the destination. Believe that it’s all worth your while. Believe that you are confident enough to see it through.


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The practice of INNER BONDING is about learning to love yourself and share your love with others. 

INNER BONDING transforms your life, creating emotional freedom, by teaching you to:

  • Recognize your true worth
  • Discover your passion and purpose in life
  • Take loving care of your heart, mind, body, and spirit
  • Take responsibility for your own feelings of pain and joy, safety and worth
  • Create deeply satisfying and enduring love relationships


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Today, I hope you will have another inspired day, that you will dream boldly and dangerously, that you will make some progress that didn’t exist before you took action, that you will love and be loved in return, and that you will find the strength to accept and grow from the troubles you can’t change. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and wisdom in this crazy world), that you will, when you must, be wise with your decisions, and that you will always be extra kind to yourself and others.




7 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned


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7 Things You Need to Stop Doing to Yourself on Hard Days


When you stop doing the wrong things, you give the right things a chance to catch up with you.


I met a friend at a local coffee shop this morning.  She brought her work laptop along so she could show me some of her latest digital art designs.  As we chatted and scrolled through her artwork, the laptop suddenly started making an unhealthy buzzing noise, then the screen flickered on and off and finally cut off completely.  And as we both stared at one another in disbelief, the funky aroma of fried computer circuits filled our nostrils.


I quickly grabbed the laptop off the counter to inspect it and the problem instantly revealed itself.  The bottom of the laptop was soaking wet and an empty, spilt water cup rested against the side of her purse just behind where the laptop was sitting.  In the midst of us chatting and shifting the laptop’s 17-inch screen back and forth, we somehow spilt a cup of water the barista had inadvertently placed on the counter behind the screen, which was out of our view.


When life throws us nasty curveballs like this, it typically doesn’t make any sense to us, and our natural emotional reaction might be to get extremely upset and scream obscenities at the top of our lungs.  But how does this help our dilemma?  Obviously, it doesn’t.

My friend threw her hands up in the air and, to my surprise, cracked a half smile. “That’s exactly why I backed up my files this morning, and why I have full insurance on my laptop,” she said.

I was truly impressed with her response.  Many people I know have had meltdowns over much smaller inconveniences.


How about YOU?


How often do your responses, or emotional reactions, to life work against you?

If you’re anything like the rest of us, the answer is likely: more often than you realize.

So realize this now!


When life doesn’t go as planned, it is what it is.  Accept it, learn from it and grow.  It doesn’t matter what you’ve done; what truly matters is what you do from here.

Let my friend be your inspiration today.  Let her calm and collected response inspire you to make some positive shifts in various areas of your life.  It’s time to think better and live better!

Which means it’s time to…


1.  Stop letting every little problem get the best of you.


Inner peace begins the moment you take a deep breath and choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions.


In other words, the greater part of your happiness or misery in the long run depends heavily on your attitude, not your circumstances.  If you’re stressed out by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your interpretation of it; and this is something you have the power to change.  It’s not easy, but it is entirely possible with practice.


It all starts with establishing a baseline level of positive thinking in your daily life.  Make it a habit!  You need to train your mind to see the good in everything, even when things don’t go as planned.  Life is a series of thousands of tiny miracles.  Notice them.  Notice again and again how fortunate you are.  The evidence is all around you, and it’s beautiful, and well worth gathering into your awareness.


And keep in mind that it takes roughly 66 days to form a new habit like this.  So for the next nine weeks, wake up every morning and look at the bright side of your life, and you will begin to rewire your brain.


2.  Stop expecting an easy journey to all your goals.


Be patient, but don’t just sit there expecting everything to be easy.  Good things don’t come to those who wait for the “easy” way.  And patience in life is not about waiting around; it’s the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard for what you believe in.

Decades from now when you’re resting on your deathbed, you will not remember the days that were easy, you will cherish the moments when you rose above your difficulties and conquered goals of magnitude.  You will dream of the strength you found within yourself that allowed you to achieve what once seemed impossible.


So don’t do what’s easy, do what you’re capable of today.  Astound yourself with your own resilience.


And remember, one of the most important moments on any journey is the moment you finally find the courage to let go of what can’t be changed.  Because, when you are no longer able to change the obstacles in front of you, you are challenged to change yourself from within—to grow beyond the unchangeable obstacles.  And that changes absolutely everything.


3.  Stop resisting your imperfections.


Every one of us is a perfectionist about something.  Learn to sense when your desire to make something perfect is preventing you from getting it done well.  Realize that the idea of perfection is not only unachievable, it can destroy your otherwise productive mindset.  It will keep you running in place, feeling insane for your entire life.


If you feel like you’re running in place right now, take a break and reflect.  Think about the difference between diligent effort and perfectionism, and figure out what is triggering you.  Because whatever triggers you also reveals what you need to heal.


Do your best to bring conscious awareness to what’s going through your worried mind when you’re not feeling good enough.  Why do you feel this way?  Who are you with this train of thought?  Who would you be, and what else would you see, if you removed it?

Know when enough is enough!  Say it out loud if you must:  “Get lost perfectionism!  Without you I am brilliant!”  (Read The Gifts of Imperfection.)


4.  Stop looking past the moment you’re living in.


Isn’t it strange how life works?  You want something and you work for it and wait for it and work for it and wait for it, and you feel like it’s taking forever to arrive.  Then it happens and it’s over and all you want to do is curl back up in that moment before things changed.

So, how can you avoid these feelings of loss and confusion?


By being more present every step of the way.


Pursue your goals and dreams while at the same time enjoying the journey of getting there.  Embrace the step you’re taking, even when you feel like you’ve lost your footing.  Sometimes the road gets bumpy.  Every step doesn’t have to be comfortable or perfectly placed.

By letting go of what “should” happen or what “could” happen every step of the way, you free up your life to various little surprises and joys.  You may not lead the exact life you want, but you will lead a meaningful, miraculous existence, guaranteed.  Life is sometimes difficult, but it’s not a chore.  Make it an adventure.  Make it fun.  Make a choice to feel good about yourself, about your world, about your possibilities and the step you’re taking right now.


5.  Stop disempowering yourself with weak language.


Confident people use words with intention.  YOU can be one of them!

Consider the difference between these two aspiring bloggers (two course students of ours) I recently spoke with:


One says:  “Yes, I am a blogger.  You like meditation and yoga too?  Excellent!  We need to connect on this subject—check out my new mindfulness guide I just posted at…”

And the other says:  “Well, I’m trying to blog but am not sure I’m doing it right (nervous giggle).  I wish I had started sooner… blah, blah.”


Which one do you think gets the most views, comments and social shares on their blog posts?

Bottom line:  If you’re trying to build something or become something, own it and speak like you mean it.  (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the Motivation chapter of our New York Times bestselling book, Getting Back to Happy: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Reality, and Turn Your Trials into Triumphs.)


6.  Stop expecting everyone to be as kind, courteous, or caring as you are.


You will end up sadly disappointed if you expect people will always do for you as you do for them.  Not everyone has the same heart as you.

Be kind anyway!


And remember, being kind to someone you dislike doesn’t mean you’re fake.  It means you’re mature enough to control your emotions.  So be kinder than necessary today.  What goes around comes around in the long run.  No one has ever made themselves strong by showing how small someone else is.


7.  Stop being so rigid (or so “mature”) about letting loose and having fun.


Sometimes we put too much weight into trying to control every tiny aspect of our lives.  Switch gears, relax and ride the path that life takes you sometimes.  Try something new, be a bit daring, and explore your curiosity.


Letting go a little lets you experience more of the unexpected.  And the greatest joys in life are often the unexpected surprises that you never intended to happen.  If you want to get really good at something—personally or professionally—let go of your expectations and replace them with the notion of endless playful exploration.

We don’t stop dreaming and exploring because we grow old; we grow old because we stop dreaming and exploring.  So don’t stop!  ?


Now, it’s your turn…


In light of everything you’ve just read, I have a challenge for you:

Pick one of the points above and start consciously working on it.  Make doing so a positive daily ritual in your life.


And do your best not to fall back into your old patterns.  Toxic habits and behaviors always try to sneak back in when you’re doing better.  Stay focused and positive about what’s to come, by being consistent with what you know in your heart is right.


Which point above resonates with you the most?  (Which one do you need to STOP doing to yourself?)


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Today, I hope you will have another inspired day, that you will dream boldly and dangerously, that you will make some progress that didn’t exist before you took action, that you will love and be loved in return, and that you will find the strength to accept and grow from the troubles you can’t change. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and wisdom in this crazy world), that you will, when you must, be wise with your decisions, and that you will always be extra kind to yourself and others.