How to (almost) Guarantee Success (trading fear for belief)

Sunrise

“Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail.” ~Charles Kettering

What would you do if you were guaranteed success? What would you start if you knew you could not fail? What dream has been wet down and stuffed in the back of the closet because you were afraid you would never be able to reach it?

Here’s the problem with that kind of thinking: As long as the dream is left in the darkened closet of your discarded dreams, you guarantee the very thing you put the dream in the closet to protect yourself from in the first place.

If you fear failure, never acting on your dreams guarantees it.

If you’re worried you won’t measure up, ignoring your inner call to do something more ensures it. If you fear pain, living life far below your potential, regretting what could have been is the worst kind of pain. If you fear ridicule, the loudest critic will always scream the most biting attacks every time you look in the mirror.

Instead of letting fear dictate the parameters of your life, allow belief to.

Believe it is not possible to fail, that there are no ultimate obstacles, that you are endowed with amazing power and ability that may as-of-yet be unharnessed, uncovered and underdeveloped, but is there, waiting for you to discover it and use it and do and become what you’ve only dreamed of before.

Life awaits you. Believe in it. Now go create something inspiring, amazing and beautiful.

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Why It’s Good to Have a Comfort Zone

Join the conversation at Why It’s Good to Have a Comfort Zone.

comfort zoneWe hear a lot about comfort zones. Mostly how they’re bad. But is comfort really such a bad thing? Not always.

I was chatting with my friend Shannon the other day about a talk she’s preparing and she shared a really cool metaphor with me:

“When I went to Jamaica on my honeymoon, we walked along the beach right up to where the resort property ended. At the boundary there was a man with a huge machine gun, and he told us we could leave the resort if we wanted – if we wanted to stroll past the guy standing there with the big gun. The choice was clear: safe, comfortable, beautiful resort or some zip lining, discotheques, and God knows what adventures behind the man with the gun. Obviously we chose the safety and comfort of the resort.”

That, Shannon told me, is how she pictures her comfort zone: a safe place to relax and recharge.

“You can’t live in the comfort zone,” she said, “none of the really exciting stuff happens there. But it sure is nice to hang out there once in a while.”

I’ve noticed an interesting pattern with my coaching clients recently. They jump into coaching all gung-ho to make changes and explore what makes them happy. They do some digging and get all excited about new self discoveries and the effects of tiny behavioral tweaks.

And then they show up to a session completely rattled, freaked out, insecure, and wondering what in the hell happened to all their progress.

I reign them in. I tell them it’s normal to feel insecure when you’re shaking up your foundation. And I tell them to take a break from all that changing for a little bit.

Basically, I pull them back to their comfort zone for some R&R.

After a brief hiatus from the pushing and growing, they always recover their confidence and are ready to get back at it again.

I’ve seen this pattern play out with lots of different people from different parts of the world who have completely different goals and challenges.

They push. They grow. They freak out. They pull back and rest. They get ready to push and grow again.


The comfort zone isn’t just nice, it’s necessary.
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You can’t discover new oceans without the courage to leave the shore, but you also can’t expect to circumvent the globe without making a few stops in safe harbors.

Summer and winter for me always feel like natural times to pull back, to rest and recharge before the massive changes that tend to take place in the spring and fall. Maybe that’s why I am avoiding a lot of my own big pushes lately. (Or maybe the heat and my lack of central air is making me sweaty and lazy. Whichever.)

I want you to know that it’s normal to get fed up with adventure and growth and big changes after a while. I bet even Oprah and Brené Brown and the most enlightened person you know has to sit back once in a while and say “screw it, I’m not reframing squat today.”

I want you to know that the harder you push, the more gentle you’ll have to be with yourself.

And mostly, I want you to know that if you find yourself cowering and shivering and hallucinating in the desert of “Uncomfortable Land” it is perfectly OK – smart, even – to haul your butt back to Comfort Zone Resort for a little while.

If this post made you think or made you smile, I hope you’ll share it!


In Pursuit of Happiness


Back Into The Woods

Join the conversation at Back Into The Woods.

When you live in an RV for a year, you learn how to make a really good s’mores.

You also learn how to pick a good campsite, how to waterproof everything you own, and how to cook a complete meal over an open flame.

You learn what it feels like and sounds like to walk on real ground.

You learn you can be comfortable even if your feet are dirty or your clothes don’t match, but also that you can get perfectly clean and presentable with surprisingly few supplies.

You learn that it’s easy to forget what you look like in beautiful surroundings.

You learn to be entertained by games with names like “famous last words” and “guess who said this.”

You learn to pass time sitting quietly listening to nothing but the sounds trees make in the wind or in the fire.

You learn to set your day by the light instead of the clock.

And then you move into a city and you forget much of what you’ve learned. The pull of community and the pulse of society teaches you new things so quickly that you don’t even notice what you’re unlearning.

Two years fly by and you can’t imagine an entire night spent sitting in the dark or that you could fall asleep without the hum of traffic outside your window.

Until you go back to the woods.

Then, you remember what you learned that one time when you were having a grand adventure.

And you think – you hope – that some things can never be forgotten. Some things, maybe, just stay in the woods, waiting for you to come back and remember.

Lessons from the woods

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In Pursuit of Happiness


Dealing With Criticism: 5 Tools to Develop a Thick Skin

Man at the Ocean

“When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” ~Miguel Ruiz

Have you ever opened a spring-loaded email? You know, the kind with a nasty barb inside that hits you like a punch in the gut?

My business partner and I had recently launched our new podcast, and he had forwarded me an email he’d received from a viewer.

“Just watched Episode One,” the writer said. “GREAT idea! But WAY too much talking. Want specifics, not Melissa’s self-indulgent blathering on about the creative process…”

Ouch. My vision blurred at this point, and the rest of the missive was lost on me. A hot flush prickled my skin from head to toe.

I recognized this feeling: it was something I’d been doing my best to avoid since early childhood. For much of my life, fear of criticism had kept me small and timid, hiding under my shell. Over the past several years, though, I’ve been stepping out of the shadows, playing bigger, putting myself and my work out in the world more boldly.

I knew it was only a matter of time before critics started lobbing nastygrams my way, and thankfully, I was prepared.

If you want to live a big, bold, creative life, one of the first orders of business is learning how to deal with criticism.

The more you step out into the spotlight, whether literally or figuratively, the more attention and feedback you’re going to get, and not all of it will be positive.

As kids on the playground, we chanted that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me,” but words can and do hurt. They have the power to destroy us if we let them.

How, then, do we armor up against criticism?

Here are five tools that will help you grow a thicker skin.

Tool #1: Separate fact from interpretation.

When I opened that nastygram from the podcast viewer, it would have been easy to interpret it as defining a core truth about me.

Instead, I reminded myself that her assessment wasn’t objective truth; it was merely her opinion. I might not like her opinion, but ultimately it has nothing to do with me, or with objective reality.

In the same way, if I launch a new workshop or offer a painting for sale, and nobody buys, it’s easy to leap to thoughts like “My work sucks. I suck.”

The fact that I didn’t make a sale doesn’t actually tell me anything about me or my work, however. All I really know is that this particular offer wasn’t compelling to this particular audience at this particular moment.

Separating fact from interpretation can help prevent you from sliding down into a rat hole of “I suck.” And it can even help you make tactical decisions going forward: if this audience didn’t buy, maybe I want to change my messaging, or maybe I want to find a new audience!

Tool #2: Find the shiny, red button.

Have you ever noticed how certain criticisms roll right off, like water off a duck’s back, but others cut you to the core, no matter what you do?

In elementary school, when the boys tried to taunt me by fiddling with my last name, Dinwiddie, and calling me “Dumb-widdie,” it was annoying, but it didn’t really hurt. Nor did it stick, because I had a core belief that I was smart. There were no fears or beliefs about myself for the insult to hook into.

On the other hand, for many years whenever someone called me selfish, it flattened me.

Somehow I got a message as a very young child that I was selfish. Then in my first marriage, whenever I wasn’t able to meet my husband’s needs, he declared that I was selfish. Even when my friends and family reflected back that I was loving and generous, those early beliefs were like a big, shiny, red button with a hair trigger, that got pushed really easily.

For years, the tiniest comment that I was acting in my own self-interest threw me into a frenzy of self-doubt and anxiety. As a result, I bent over backward for others in an attempt to prove that I wasn’t selfish.

No wonder an accusation that I was “self-indulgently blathering on” stung me so badly!

The criticism isn’t actually the problem here; it’s the beliefs we hold about ourselves.

When we can notice which criticisms wound us the most deeply, it shines a light on what our beliefs are. Not only can this help us to find neutrality again, with this outlook, criticism can actually become a valuable tool for self-growth.

Tool #3: Reframe criticism as positive fuel.

Years ago, when I was a beginning calligrapher, a master teacher invited me to show him my portfolio.

I was scared to hear his critiques, until he assured me, “I’m simply going to tell you how you can make your work better.” Suddenly, instead of being terrified of his feedback, I was hungry for it.

Alas, not all of our critics will be so gentle and well intentioned. It’s not always easy to practice neutrality, but the more we can shift our mindset to look for the lesson beneath the venom, the more even negative comments can be useful to us, and even empower and fuel us to keep going and make our work better.

Tool #4: Ignore anyone on the sidelines.

That said, sometimes feedback isn’t useful at all. TED speaker and best-selling author Brené Brown has received comments on her videos such as, “If I looked like Brené Brown, I’d embrace imperfection too.”

This kind of insult has nothing to do with the work in question. It’s designed to hurt, not to help, and it has nothing useful to offer.

If there are some cases when a criticism can be useful, and other cases when it does no good at all, how do we sift through feedback to determine what to pay attention to, and what to ignore?

Brown likens nasty, unhelpful comments to the insults screamed down from the stands at the gladiators fighting in the arena below. It’s easy to yell that someone else can’t fight their way out of a paper bag when you’re sitting safely out of harm’s way.

So ask yourself if your critics are offering opinions that are truly useful to you. Are they metaphorical gladiators, fighting alongside you in the arena? Or are they potential recipients of your work?

If your critic is neither of the above, it’s likely they’re trolls hanging around on the sidelines. Ignore them.

Tool #5: Find a thick-skinned role model.

Did you know that Dr. Seuss, whose books sold millions over his lifetime, had his first book rejected at least twenty times? Thank goodness he persisted!

It’s easy to think that being on the receiving end of criticism means something is wrong with us, but the truth is, being criticized is a hallmark of doing cutting-edge, important work! Countless people who are now known for amazing things were criticized or rejected at first.

Think of Madonna, Lady Gaga, Hilary Clinton, Gloria Steinem: whether or not you like their work or what they stand for, you have to admit that these women each touched a nerve in our culture, and have gotten a ton of criticism as a result. Yet they never gave up.

The next time someone lobs a bomb your way, think about someone you admire, who kept forging ahead, despite their critics. You might even want to post their picture, or quotes by them, by your workspace to inspire you to keep going.

There you have it—my five favorite tools for handling criticism. Hopefully these will help you grow a thicker skin!

Photo by Nagesh Jayaraman

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About Melissa Dinwiddie

Melissa Dinwiddie is an artist and creativity instigator, on a mission to empower people to feed their creative hungers. Find out more, and get a FREE printable mini-poster of her Imperfectionist Manifesto at Living A Creative Life.

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Tiny Buddha


“Complete System Failure” (a vital lesson in moral vigilance)

Virus protection II

The human mind is the most efficient organizational system on the planet, could be in the universe for all we know. ~Jason Howard (Senior Technical Researcher, Intel Labs)

Back some time ago, I copy/pasted a couple pictures off the internet for a document I was creating for a high school class. Soon after doing so, a window popped up with a foreboding message that spelled the doom of my computer: “Complete System Failure.”

As I read that ominous message and realized what just happened, my heart sank. My computer had died a premature death.

I started wondering how many other computers are filled with active viruses and dormant Trojans, slowing functions, causing quirky malfunctions and system failures.

It got me thinking.

Protecting More than Machines

If we protect our computer systems with spam filters and virus protection and firewalls, why do we so quickly download such awful garbage into the most important memory storage system we will ever own without so much as a second thought?

Why do we let filth creep into our minds, clogging our souls, slowing our upload time, cluttering our memories, corrupting our thoughts, allowing the risk of complete moral system failure as images and words seep into the hardware of our hearts, minds and lives?

Why do we so indiscriminately clutter our brains with filth and trash? Why do we let music and movies that promote ugliness and indecency and disrespect get access to that organic computer system we should be protecting most actively, most carefully and most faithfully?

Just asking.

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Meant to be Happy


The Happy Life of a Blogger (7 ways blogging can improve your happiness)

Blogging

Note: This post was originally prepared for Lori Gosselin’s blog series called, The Life of a Blogger. Well, in the midst of editing, I got caught up with other things and neglected to send it off.

And since the series ended a year ago (oops!), I thought I would go ahead and publish it here. Waste not, want not, as they say, right? If nothing else, it may interest you to know how blogging has affected me personally. And you never know, maybe it will inspire you to start a blog of your own!

The Happy Life of a Blogger

Are you a happy blogger? There are certainly aspects of blogging that can have the opposite effect. There have been times when self-imposed deadlines and frustrating blog stats and disappointing comment counts have led me to wonder if it was all really worth the time and effort.

But all things considered, the net effect has been more happiness. Significantly more. In fact, there are at least 7 reasons blogging has been good for my happiness:

7 Ways Blogging has Improved my Happiness

Reason #1: I love to write. The creative process of writing and editing, of perfecting a sentence, crafting a paragraph, creating the tempo and meter and rhythm of an idea is a deeply rewarding process, a process that gives voice to my creativity and imagination, allowing my artistic side to have an outlet.

Reason #2: I love researching, thinking through a concept, then putting fingers to keyboard to construct the article that conveys the message I want to share. I love it all. It’s become an unquenchable passion that has added another layer of happiness to my life.

Reason #3: We become what we think and believe and immerse ourselves in. I’m surrounded by ideas that promote happiness and spend lots of time reading about it, thinking about it, writing about it and applying its principles to my life. The more I tread in the waters of happiness, the more its liquid seeps into my bloodstream.

Reason #4: Blogging has stretched me. I’ve come to think more deeply and clearly and have extended myself into uncomfortable areas doing what I’ve never done before. As I grow and develop new skills and hone embryonic talents, my happiness grows as well.

Reason #5: Because happiness matters, my role in its explication and promotion adds deep layers of meaning and purpose to my life.

Reason #6: As I read comments and emails from those who have found value in what I do and have taken the time to tell me, my sense that I am serving others, providing them with inspiration and answers and a way out of their challenges grows. As a result, so does my personal happiness.

Reason #7: Blogging has also added loving and lovely people to my life who share aspects of my passion and work. They inspire me. They have befriended me and I have brought them into my heart as well. And so my happiness has been compounded by blogging many times over.

Bottom Line

Blogging has become an important part of my life, adding meaning and purpose and creative expression to it. It also allows me to send a little piece of me out into the world , that just may improve a life or two. Half of that goal has been met. It has improved my life.

Back to you!

So we’re back to my original question: Are you a happy blogger? What about blogging adds to your happiness? What doesn’t? If you’re a non-blogging reader, have bloggers helped you with your happiness? How?

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My New Book about Habit Formation, as Distilled in 21 Sentences.

change aheadEvery Wednesday is List Day, or Tip Day, or Quiz Day.

Today: My new book about habit-formation, handily distilled into 21 sentences.

As I may have mentioned, I’m working on Better Than Before, a book about how we can change our habits. It’s at the copy-editing stage now, so it’s really nearing completion — both thrilling and slightly terrifying. (If you want to know when Better Than Before goes on sale, sign up here.)

In each chapter, I identify a strategy we can use to make and break habits.

I was thinking of Lytton Strachey’s observation, “Perhaps the best test of a man’s intelligence is his capacity for making a summary.” So I decided to try to summarize each chapter of Better Than Before in a single sentence.  The entire gist of the book, in 21 sentences.

You may think, “Twenty-one strategies! That’s overwhelming.” It may seem like a lot, but it’s actually helpful, because you can choose the ones that work for you. For instance, if you’re a Rebel, you’re not likely to use the Strategy of Scheduling, but the Strategy of Identity would work well. Or if you’re an Obliger, the Strategy of Clarity will be much less important than Accountability.

Many experts suggest one-size-fits-all solutions for habit change — and boy, it would be great if there were one magical answer that helped everyone. But we’re all different, so different strategies work for different people.

In fact, that’s why the first two Strategies relate to Self-Knowledge…

Self-Knowledge

The Four Tendencies: To change your habits, you have to know yourself, and in particular, your Tendency. (Are you an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel?)

Distinctions: Knowing yourself is so important that it’s not enough to know your Tendency, you must also recognize your Distinctions. (For instance, are you a Marathoner or Sprinter? Under-buyer or over-buyer? Finisher or Opener? Novelty-lover or Familiarity-lover?)

 Pillars of Habits

Monitoring: You manage what you monitor, so find a way to monitor whatever matters.

Foundation: First things first, so begin by making sure to get enough sleep, eat and drink right, move, and un-clutter.

Scheduling: If it’s on the calendar, it happens.

Accountability:  You do better when you know someone’s watching–even if you’re the one doing the watching.

 The Best Time to Begin

First Steps:  It’s enough to begin; if you’re ready, begin now.

Clean Slate: Temporary becomes permanent, so start the way you want to continue.

Lightning Bolt: A single idea can change the habits of a lifetime, overnight. (Enormously powerful, but hard to invoke on command.)

 Desire, Ease, and Excuses

Abstaining: For some of us, moderation is too tough; it’s easier to give up something altogether. (Works very well for some people, and not at all for others.)

Convenience: Make it easy to do right and hard to go wrong.

Inconvenience: Change your surroundings, not yourself.

Safeguards: Plan to fail.

Loophole-Spotting: Don’t kid yourself. (The funniest strategy. I love collecting loopholes.)

Distraction: Wait fifteen minutes.

Reward:  The reward for a good habit is the good habit, and that’s the reward to give yourself.  (The most misunderstood strategy.)

Treats: It’s easier to ask more of yourself when you’re giving more to yourself. (The most fun strategy.)

Pairing:  Only do X when you’re doing Y. (Simple but surprisingly effective.)

 Unique, Just like Everyone Else

Clarity: The clearer you are about what you want, the more likely you are to stick to your habits.

Identity: Your habits reflect your identity, so if you struggle to change a particular habit, re-think your identity.

Other People: Your habits rub off on other people, and their habits rub off on you.

Have I forgotten any strategies? Which ones appeal most to you? I’m an Upholder, so I like just about all the Strategies.

Habit-formation is an endlessly fascinating subject. If you want to know when Better Than Before goes on sale, sign up here.

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The Happiness Project


Your Job Doesn’t Define You

Unique Path

“I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as making a ‘life.’” ~Maya Angelou

When I started working toward a life of freedom a year ago and dared to set my sights on my dreams, I never imagined I’d be where I am today.

However, if you took a snap shot of my life three years ago you’d have seen a different person. I was a career woman, a high flyer, rising quickly from an Office Manager to the Head of Human Resources for a fast growing, successful business, going from strength to strength.

I was living the dream, earning more than enough money to make sure I could buy whatever, and I’d finally become a success at long last!

Yet today, the story is the complete opposite. I am a cleaner. I work part-time seven days a week, cleaning and clearing up after other people. I work for minimum wage and I work physically hard every single day.

Who I Thought I Was

I thought I couldn’t get a better job, a better position in life, or a better chance to show the world that I had finally made it out there in the big wide world. I was earning substantial amounts of money, getting to travel the world, and buying whatever I wanted.

I thought that if I could just make it somehow, and prove it to everyone because I was working in London fifty hours a week, that I’d get the respect I’d always deserved. I was completely and utterly defined by my career. Without the job, the status, and money I’d be nothing a ‘nobody,’ and who wants to be that?

So what happened?

I quit. One day I just decided that it wasn’t for me. It was too stressful; it was life numbing work, killing me from the inside out. I knew I no longer wanted to work for someone else’s dreams. I was tired of working hard, on the verge of becoming mentally unstable and feeling utterly miserable.

I realized that what I did as a job wasn’t what mattered. What mattered was the fact that I was happy, that my purpose went a lot deeper than sitting behind a desk, with my head in my hands wondering what the hell I was doing and why.

The Journey Began

Once I’d started on this journey, I knew there was no going back because I’d never be satisfied. So I began searching for what really made me happy, what I loved to do, and how I could use that to serve the world.

I wanted to contribute, to make a difference, and inspire others to do the same. It was like a light had finally been switched on in my brain. I realized that life was what I made it and I didn’t have to do what everyone else was doing. I could try something new, step out of the ordinary, and live an extraordinary life.

The thing was, however, I had no money. When I’d quit my job, I’d mounted up a lot of debt. My credit cards were maxed out, and the money I did have I had to use for bills, rental payments, and to pay off those debts.

I became very scared and anxious, as I wanted to follow my dreams and search for what mattered; yet, I still needed to live. I wasn’t about to go backward, so I had to admit defeat; I had to get a job, a menial one, something that required little attention or time that would still paid the bills.

So I became a cleaner.

I won’t lie to you; it wasn’t easy. For so long I’d been a high flyer. I was proud of being known as a success and loved being able to afford anything I wanted. Then here I was, a failure, the type of person I felt sorry for and could never imagine being.

I had become someone I never wanted to be. I was embarrassed to admit it to people, but at the same time I knew I had to do it. Financially, it took the pressure off. It also gave me the freedom to do what I loved during the day, and most of all, it allowed me to rediscover my dreams and work toward them.

Your Work Doesn’t Have to Define You

It took me a long time to realize that my work didn’t have to define me. All that mattered was that I could pay my bills, which was the only reason for doing this. The fact that everyone else saw me as just a cleaner didn’t mean a thing; they could think what they wanted.

I was the only one who knew the truth. I didn’t have to justify myself to anyone anymore.

It was so liberating.

Of course, there are down sides. I have days where I get so exasperated, so frustrated that I have to do this job. I get a little down and disheartened, but each time those doubts pop into my head I instantly turn them into something positive.

So how can you deal with these down times, when you’re doing something that isn’t your dream?

Realize it serves a purpose.

Remind yourself why you are here, why you are doing this job, and what you are getting out of it. Remember there is a reason for it, and that reason is to pay the bills, the rent, or food, and that’s it.

It’s not that you are a cleaner, or a garbage collector, or whatever you decide to do while you work on your dreams. You are a planner, an achiever, and you are courageous enough to do what has to be done to make sure your dreams happen.

Be grateful.

Seriously, this is the most important thing you can do. When I get down I remember that I am so lucky and grateful for the fact that I can do a job, get paid for it, and still work on my dreams.

If I had a nine-to-five job, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today because I’d be too tired. I’d be too comfortable with the money, the work, and the easiness of it all, so I’d probably stay stuck.

Sometimes it’s good to be doing this kind of work, as there’s something you really want to get out of. It will motivate you so much more in that way. So always be grateful for having this opportunity.

Keep cheerful.

Whenever I go into work, I see all the office staff looking down and depressed. I remember what it felt like to be stuck behind a desk all day doing work that did little for me. So I make sure I am cheerful.

I spread a little bit of light around me because I feel so lucky to have gotten out of the rat race. If I can make other people see that cleaning isn’t who I am, it’s what I make of it that matters, then perhaps I can inspire others to do the same.

I hope these will inspire you and keep you on the journey toward your dreams and purpose in life. It’s so important not to let what you do affect who you are. Some people will only see you for what you do, but those people don’t know what you know.

Always feel blessed and honored to be able to follow your heart and have the courage to go after what makes you happy.

If you are like me, you are very lucky indeed—and if you want to follow your dreams, begin today before it’s too late!

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About Paula Lawes

Paula Lawes, a blogger, writer and regular ‘Pollyanna’. Her love is to share all, good and bad. You can find her writing daily at The Daily Grow.com  dedicated to daily inspiring, thought provoking and growth motivating articles. Her first book ‘A Freedom of Less’ gives 50% of all sales to The A21 Campaign to END to Human Trafficking.

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Tiny Buddha


Stop Saying You Should Be Happy

Join the conversation at Stop Saying You Should Be Happy.

This week’s video is about giving up on the idea that you SHOULD be happy.

I met a man recently who told me that he had the perfect job: good pay, lots of freedom, great boss – he said he knew that any sensible person would look at his life and say he was lucky and he should be happy. But, he confessed to me, he has an overwhelming sense that something is missing, that he’s not really as happy as he could be.

When I heard that, I immediately flashed back to my own past when I also tried to tell myself I SHOULD be happy.

On the outside, everything looked good: loving husband, healthy kids, family support, close friends, and relative financial security. But despite all that, I didn’t FEEL happy or content at a soul level.

And, instead of trying to figure out what WOULD make me happy, I wasted a lot of time and energy beating myself up because I thought I SHOULD be happy.

Don’t do that!


It doesn’t matter if you should be happy. What matters is if you are.
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If you’re not happy despite having a good life, that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. You aren’t broken because your “good life” isn’t making you happy.

You just haven’t found YOUR life yet – and you can’t as long as you keep beating yourself up for not being grateful or happy enough.

Instead of trying to guilt yourself into happy submission, make some changes. Figure out what DOES make you happy and do more of that.

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In Pursuit of Happiness


Take Care of Yourself This Summer: 7 Simple Tips

Relaxify Your Summer

“Then followed that beautiful season… Summer… Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”
Sydney J. Harris

The summer is here.

And for many of us it is a time of vacations, a time of being free from school or a slow time at work or in your business.

So it is a good time to focus on taking a bit of extra good care of yourself to unwind and decompress.

And that is exactly what today’s article is all about.

I hope you will find a couple of tips among these that will help you to recharge yourself and that you may even carry with your into the darker and colder seasons of this year.

1. Just watch the clouds go by.

During the months of continuous intense work it is easy to get trapped in the mindset that you have to do something pretty much all the time. This can add a lot of tensions and stress.

So try doing nothing at all from time to time this summer. Just go for a walk in the woods. Sit by the lake and take in the wonderful summer landscape. Or lie down on the grass and just watch the clouds going by.

Do only that, savor the moments of summer and feel how the inner tensions flow out of your mind and body.

2. Go phone- and internet-free for a time.

I’ll be disconnected for much of this summer. I’ll not go online unless it is necessary. I’ll only check my emails maybe once a day or once every other day. And I’ll leave my phone at home while I’m outside in the sun enjoying a book.

I recommend trying this one out, especially if you tend to spend a lot of time at work or in school with being online or talking on the phone.

Start with just staying away from your email and phone for maybe 24 hours. Then check them.

And you may see that you haven’t missed much by not being available all the time. But instead discover that your stress levels have dropped quite a bit and it feels easier to fully focus on your family, friends or your hobby.

3. Appreciate what you did between New Year’s Eve and the start of this summer.

Half of 2014 has now gone by.

And there might have been some worries. Perhaps you were angry with yourself more than a few times during these 6 months. Or disappointed in what you did, didn’t do or what happened in your life.

When the stress and inner tensions are plentiful then it is easy to get stuck in focusing on what went wrong or on your own setbacks or mistakes.

So take a break from that.

Ask yourself: What can I appreciate about what I did and I accomplished during these 6 months?

It doesn’t always have to be big things. And be sure to appreciate what you did, the effort you put in even if things didn’t go exactly as planned.

4. Go slow.

This will also dial your stress down.

And, perhaps even more importantly, help you to be in the moment and fully enjoy all the sights, sounds, smells and people of your summer.

Instead of being half-lost in the future or in a memory while life and perhaps something really wonderful is happening right in front of you.

5. Say no to the shoulds of summer.

There are sneaky shoulds in life. They can make a vacation filled with things you “just have to do before the summer is over” seem like draining work. And they’ll leave you more tired than you were before your time off even started.

So avoid them by asking yourself: Will this matter in 5 years? Or even 5 weeks?

Zooming out like this makes it easier to find a healthier perspective on things and to see the real value of doing something. It makes it easier to simply relax and to say no to doing something because you realize that it frankly isn’t that important anyway.

6. Spend more time doing what you love.

Maybe it is fishing. Or going out into the woods and picking berries and mushrooms. Or painting. Or reading books. Or playing with your kids or hanging out with an old friend.

No matter what it might be, think about how you can fit more what you love doing into not only your summer but the rest of your year too.

Take a couple of minutes and sit down with a pen and a piece of paper. Think about what you spend your time on during a normal week.

Then find 1-2 things during your regular weeks that you can do less of. Or things you can simply say no to so that you have a bit more time and energy over each week during the summer, fall and winter for what you love doing.

7. Remind yourself: rest and recharge time will pay off both for my health and results in the long-run.

You are not a robot. Even though you or other people may think so from time to time. It’s a simple thought mistake many of us have made or still make.

But it is not the best option. And not just for your mental and physical health in the long run and to prevent for example getting burned out.

No – because in my experience at least – if you get a real break over the summer and during your vacation then that will also pay off greatly in your performance both at work and in your relationships too.

Because your energy will reload for real, your motivation will go up and you’ll feel inspired and curious again as you dump a big box of old stress and tensions by the side of the road.

So when you feel stressed or like you just “should do” something this summer then remind yourself that in the long-run you’ll gain more in any area of your life by getting a bit more rest and recharging time.

Image by Lali Masriera (license).


Practical Happiness & Awesomeness Advice That Works | The Positivity Blog


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How to improve your self-confidence

There are different kinds of people in this world, some are fearless, some are contented, some are full of attitude while some are filled with gratitude. But there is a lot of difference between who you actually are and what part of your personality you actually show to others. Everyone around is going to perceive you the way in which you present yourself and the most important part of an individual’s personality is his/her self confidence.

I won’t go into the definitions of self confidence to tell you what it actually is. In simple words, self confidence means believing yourself, having complete faith in your own decisions and judgments. For instance, you have been chosen for a declamation contest in order to represent your school or give a presentation in a meeting at work and you have a firm belief that you will be able to justify the tasks given to you, then my friend you are blessed with self confidence. But not everyone is blessed with self confidence from the beginning, the reason can be any. However, the important thing is to recognize low self esteem and search for ways that’ll help in overcoming low self esteem.

In this article, we have tried to incorporate all the ways through which you can improve your self confidence and achieve the goals you’ve been dreaming of:

Give time to yourself The important aspect of overcoming low self esteem is focusing on your own self. The difference between the crowd puller and crowd is just self confidence, so groom yourself to become a crowd puller. If you are afraid of something or someone, stand in front of the mirror and practice to speak imagining the real circumstances, trust yourself and you’ll see a positive change in yourself.

Speak Most of our friends are actually afraid of public speaking and some of us have such a low self esteem that they are not able to express themselves in front of their friends and family. The reason behind this shyness is not lack of knowledge or communication skills, it is lack of confidence. But try to incorporate the habit of speaking up in public, expressing your opinion once in a while initially will definitely help improving your self confidence.

Get rid of all the negativity Most of the people are so busy thinking about the negative aspects of their own personality that they lose all the positivity and charm that they possess. Also, there are few individuals who think that people would judge them for their acts and words and thus the fear of getting negative reviews lowers their self esteem. Friends, just feel free to think and speak your mind because every individual in this world is unique and you can’t make everyone happy all the time, so first try and make yourself happy.

Stand tall Yes, overcoming low self esteem with the help of Velvet Evolution at The Studio, 21 Old Square, Warwick, CV34 4RU 07961 31 30 29 involves changing the way you dress, sit, stand and walk. A good posture while sitting and standing makes an impression of a confident personality. A fast and straight walk is a wonderful way of conveying that you are fearless. Similarly, a good dressing sense according to the occasion is a great of way of improving self confidence.