Free Your Imagination to Unleash Your Potential

Imagination

“The power of imagination makes us infinite.” ~John Muir

You are limited only by the limits you place on your imagination. But once you open the door to any possibility, you free yourself of self-imposed confines and restrictions.

Stop asking yourself, “Why should I?” and start asking yourself the better question: “Why not?”

Open yourself to all possibilities and life will expand to the further reaches of infinity. Don’t go off half-cocked, of course. Be clear-eyed about risks and costs and the acquisition of needed skills. And it goes without saying to always live within the soul-satisfying comfort of your principle-centered values.

But otherwise, push wide the door that opens onto the abundance of life and begin to give free range to your imagination to create what has never before been created.

Knowledge is entombed in the things that are. Imagination is freed to explore the world of the might-be. What might your life be like? What possibilities exist? Envision it. Create it in your heart and mind and then start building it.

Never allow your thinking to be limited by what is. Free your mind to consider what might one day be and what you might one day breathe life into.

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Meant to be Happy


VIDEO: Before You Listen to a Happiness Expert…

This story about how a nurse treated my 9-year-old daughter reminded me that not even the expertise of professionals can trump what we already know about ourselves.

Always remember that you are the expert on your own happiness.


No one knows better than you what’s going on with you.
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Your opinion and insights on how YOU feel and what YOU need are at least as valuable as anyone else’s.

Trust what you know.

Join the conversation at VIDEO: Before You Listen to a Happiness Expert….


In Pursuit of Happiness


What Happiness Looks Like: inBetween Magazine’s Rachel Naud

Rachel Naud is the co-founder and editor of inBetween, an online magazine for parents of teens and young adults. I was thrilled when she reached out to me last year to tell me about this venture, because parenting a teen can feel lonely.

But this post isn’t about raising teens. In fact, Rachel doesn’t even have a teenager yet.

This post is about a woman who works at home, building a business while parenting a son and nurturing a marriage. This is what happiness looks like for Rachel.

rachel-inBetween

What makes you happy?

Having conversations with my seven-year-old son, Tristan. When you look at him, he’s just this cute little boy with missing front teeth, big blue eyes and a mop of wavy hair. But when you sit and talk to him, some of the things he comes up are so profound, it amazes me. He’s insightful beyond his years and can hold his own in a conversation with a roomful of adults. He’s sweet, thoughtful and really funny. He has a heart of gold and I am so proud to be his mom.

 I also love spending time with my family and friends. My husband, Chris, still makes me laugh (most days) after 12 years of marriage and my sister, Rebecca, is my best friend. We see each other every day. I also love going to movies, shopping and trying new restaurants.

Spending time with my fur babies – my two old english sheepdogs – also makes me happy. It’s so easy to please a dog. All they want is love, some exercise and a bowl full of food. It’s so simple. We could all learn a lesson from our four-legged friends.

Speaking of food, surprisingly, I find happiness in cooking. I’m not sure how this happened because I’m not a great chef or anything. But when you make a meal for someone, I really do think it’s one of the greatest ways to show someone that you love them. And when they enjoy it and thank you for your efforts, it’s nice to receive that acknowledgment and appreciation. I just have one rule: If I cook, I don’t do the dishes. That also makes me happy.

How do you find time to do what makes you happy?

I’m a work-at-home mom, so I’m lucky enough to be able to walk Tristan to and from school and that’s when we have some of our best conversations. Other than that, I just make family time part of the daily routine. Every night we eat dinner together and talk about our days. And after dinner, I take the dogs for their nightly jaunt and watch them run, play and smile.

I try to go out for girls’ nights with my friends every once in a while. And when the timing works – and we can find a sitter – the hubs and I will catch a movie or dinner.

There's nothing more important than happinessAre there any “shoulds” you’ve had to let go of in order to pursue your happiness?

Before I had Tristan, I was very focused on my career. I was hell bent on climbing the corporate ladder. The plan was to keep working until I landed my dream job or dream salary. In fact, when I got pregnant, I was only going to take 10 months of maternity leave and return to work early (we get a year in Canada).

And then I met my baby boy, fell in love and quit my job.

And although I probably should have stayed in the corporate rat race (because lord knows I’d be making more money than I am now!), it was the easiest decision I have ever made. And the best. I’ve never regretted it. Not once. Thanks to that decision, I’ve been able to freelance, travel and now, even start my very own online magazine.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about happiness?

There’s nothing more important than happiness. So chase it, seize it and never let it go.

Read more happiness interviews.

Join the conversation at What Happiness Looks Like: inBetween Magazine’s Rachel Naud.


In Pursuit of Happiness


How to Stay Positive: 11 Smart Habits

“Having a positive mental attitude is asking how something can be done rather than saying it can’t be done.”
Bo Bennett

“To avoid situations in which you might make mistakes may be the biggest mistake of all.”
Peter McWilliams

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
Anais Nin

One of the very first things I started to work on consciously with my own personal development was to improve my outlook on life.

It was over 10 years ago that I started to delve into this topic and to step by step – and while sometimes tumbling backwards – build a more optimistic outlook.

An attitude that would over time become more and more stable so that I could not only look at the world in a positive way during good days. But also so I could stay positive and constructive even during tough times and keep working towards something better.

In this article I’d like to share 11 of the best, smartest and most effective habits for doing so that I have learned during over more than a decade.

I hope you will find something helpful here.

1. Find the optimistic viewpoint in a negative situation.

One of the simplest but most effective ways to build a more positive outlook has in my experience been to ask more helpful questions as often as possible.

When I am in what seems like a negative situation – maybe I have made a mistakes, I have failed or stumbled in some kind of way – then I like to ask myself questions like:

  • What is one thing that is positive or good about this situation?
  • What is one opportunity within this situation?

Doing so is a whole lot better than what I used to do in such situations. Because back then I usually asked myself how much I sucked and how things could get even worse now.

I do however not always use these questions right away. Oftentimes I need a bit of time to process the thoughts and feelings that arise in situation before I can do that. Trying to force optimistic thinking when you are still in an emotional turmoil or a bit shocked usually don’t work that well.

2. Cultivate and live in a positive environment.

Who you choose to spend your time with and the input you get from further away like the TV, the internet and magazines will have a huge effect on your outlook.

To be able to stay positive it is essential to have influences in your life that support you and lift you up instead of dragging you down.

So carefully consider what you let into your mind.

You can for example ask yourself:

  • Who are the 3 most negative people I spend time with?
  • What are the 3 of most negative sources of information I spend time on?

Consider the answers. Then think about how you can start spending less time with one of those people or information sources this week.

And how you can spend more of the time you have now freed up with one of the most positive sources or people in your life.

3. Go slowly.

I have found that when I go too fast, when I try to think, talk, eat and move around in my world really quickly then things don’t go too well.

Stress builds up. Negative thoughts about just about anything start to well up and I feel like my own personal power decreases.

But if I slow down just for a few minutes – even if I have to force it by walking, talking and eating slower – then my mind and body calms down too. It becomes easier to think things through clearly again and easier to find the optimistic and constructive perspective.

4. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.

It’s very easy to lose perspective, especially if you are stressed and you are going too fast.

And so a molehill can become a big and terrifying mountain in your mind.

A simple three step way to handle these situations so they don’t get out of hand is to:

  • Say stop. In your mind, shout “STOP!” or “NOPE, we are not going down that path again!” as soon as thoughts of this kind starts to spin in your head.
  • Breathe. After you have disrupted the thoughts by shouting stop sit down and just be still. Breathe with your belly and focus on just your in-breaths and out-breaths for a minute or two to calm your mind and body down.
  • Refocus. Question your mountain building thoughts by talking to someone close to you and getting a more grounded perspective on the situation by just venting or by getting his or her input. Or simply ask yourself this to widen your perspective and to chill out: Will this matter in 5 years? Or even 5 weeks?

5. Don’t let vague fears hold you back from doing what you want.

Sometimes you may want to take a chance in life. Start a new habit that feels unfamiliar, your own business on the side or ask someone out for a date.

A common trap when you want to do one of those things is to get lost in vague fears about what could happen if you actually took action.

And so the mind runs wild fueled by fear and it creates nightmare scenarios.

I know. I have been there many times.

So I have learned to ask myself this: honestly, what is the worst that could happen?

When I have figured that out I also spend a bit of time on trying to figure out what I could do if that that often pretty unlikely thing happens.

I have over the years discovered that the worst thing that could realistically happen is usually not as scary as the nightmare my fear-fueled mind could produce.

Finding clarity in this way doesn’t take much time or effort and it can help you to avoid much mind made suffering. And help you to get going, step outside of your comfort zone and take that chance.

6. Add value and positivity to someone else’s life.

What you send out you tend to get back from the world and the people in it.

Not from everyone. And not every time.

But what you send out there matters a whole lot.

What you give them and how you treat them is what you’ll get back. And they way you treat others and how you think of them also tend to have a big effect on how you treat and think about yourself.

So give value and spread the positivity by for example:

  • Helping out. Lend a hand when moving. Give a friend a ride in your car. Or if he or she needs information then help out by checking it up on Google or asking a friend of yours.
  • Just listening. Sometimes people don’t want any direct help. They just want someone to be there fully and listening as they vent for a little while.
  • Boosting the mood. Smile. Give hugs when appropriate. Play uplifting music when hanging out with a friend or suggest an inspiring movie for your movie night. Or encourage when someone has had a bad day or are going through a tough time.

7. Exercise regularly and eat and sleep well.

This is very obvious of course.

But I know the big, big impact a good night’s sleep or good workout can have when my thoughts are pessimistic and I have a lot of tensions on the inside.

And I know how much simpler it is to think clearly and optimistically when my belly is not empty.

So I highly recommend being careful about these basic habits that may sound boring. Because they do have a huge effect either way depending on how you manage them.

8. Learn to take criticism in a healthy way.

One of the most common fears is the fear of criticism. It can hold people back from doing what they want in life. Because having negativity flowing out of someone’s mouth or email and it being about you can hurt. And being rejected can sing quite a bit.

But if you want to take action on what you deep down want then criticism is pretty much unavoidable. So the key is learning to handle it in a healthier way. By doing so your fear of it will lessen and it will hurt less if you do get criticized.

I usually use four steps when I get some criticism. Maybe they can help you out too:

  • Step 1: Don’t reply right away. When you are angry, upset or riled up then is time to calm down a bit before you reply. Take at least a couple of deep breaths or a little time to process the message before you respond.
  • Step 2: Really listen to the criticism. Try to remain open and level-headed and figure out how this message can help you. Ask yourself: Is there one thing I can learn from this criticism? Is there something here that I may not want to hear but could help me?
  • Step 3: Remember that the criticism isn’t always about you. Some criticism is helpful. Some is simply attacks or someone lashing out because they are having bad day, year or job. To lessen the sting of such criticism – often really angry or overly critical in an unconstructive way – I try to be understanding. I think to myself that this person might not be feeling so good at the moment.
  • Step 4: Reply or let go. No matter the content of for example an email I try to keep my reply level-headed and kind. I may add a question or two to get more specific feedback that is helpful. And if they don’t reply or I have simply gotten a nasty attack then it is time to delete it and to let that situation go.

9. If something still gets under your skin then know what to do.

Sometimes something can still get under your skin and hurt you. Even if you use the steps above.

Two things that have helped me with that challenge are:

  • Let it out. Just letting that issue out into the light talking it over with someone close can be very helpful to see it for what it actually is. And to find a healthier perspective on the situation.
  • Improve your self-esteem. I have found over the years that with a stronger self-esteem things drag me down less and they don’t ruin my day as much anymore. Negativity from others  bounces off me much more often instead. If you want to practical help with this then have a look at my 12-week, step-by-step Self-Esteem Course.

10. Start your day in a positive way.

How you start your day usually sets the tone for the rest of your day.

So be careful about how you spend your mornings. If you get going at full speed, lost in future troubles in your mind then the stress, perceived loss of power of over your life and negative thoughts will ramp up quickly.

If you on the other hand start your day by moving slowly, by having an uplifting conversation with your family or friend or you spend some time with reading or listening to inspiring and helpful articles or podcasts over breakfast or during your bus ride to work then that can make a big difference for how your whole day will go.

11. Mindfully move through your day.

When you spend your time in the present moment then it becomes so much easier to access positive emotions and to stay practical about what you can actually do about something in your life.

When you get lost in the past or future like so many of us have spent a lot of time on doing then worries very easily become bigger. And failures and mistakes from the past being replayed over and over in your mind drag you down into pessimism.

By moving slowly through your morning and hopefully through much of the rest of your day it becomes easier to mindfully stay in the moment you are in.

Another simple way to reconnect with the moment in you are in and to put your full attention there again is to focus just on what is going on around you right now for a minute or two with all your senses. See it. Hear it. Smell it. Feel the sun, rain or cold wind on your skin.

It might sound like a small and insignificant thing to do. But this simplifying reconnection with the moment can have a very positive effect on the rest of your day.

Image by Sterlic (license).


Practical Happiness & Awesomeness Advice That Works | The Positivity Blog


Brain-Taming 101

 “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.”

– Soren Kierkegaard

They say anxiety is a future-focused problem. Depression is past-focused. Some of us are lucky enough to have both at the same time, meaning the present pretty much rolls along without us. We exist like ghosts just waiting to live again, wishing we could take on someone else’s healthy soul.

Too creepy? Well that’s how I felt, anyway. I slipped into a lifestyle where the years blended together into one dismal recurring nightmare. It felt like I didn’t have the right to live.

Humans can withstand lots of things like natural disasters, pain inflicted by others, and even poverty. But it’s a strange and startling struggle when your mind turns on itself. To clarify Kierkegaard’s quote I’d say that anxiety is the dizziness of not being able to handle our freedom. After a few years of freedom mismanagement I woke up, finding myself constantly dizzy with daily stomachaches and a new prescription to heart medication. I would get daily adrenaline rushes from the simplest perceived “challenge.”

As it turns out, our brains can adapt to whatever we tell them. (Even if what we’re telling is insane like, “Panic. The neighbor’s dog is plotting to kill you.”) The amygdala in your brain can actually grow larger like a muscle that works out a lot. This is said to play a role in the formation of PTSD. There is such a thing as too much emotion, or an overactive amygdala that interferes with practicality. This is probably why Van Gogh cut off his ear and Poe raved erratically for most of his life. Both were geniuses, but likely had a serious need to get their amygdalas under control.

We develop these neurotic quirks from our delicate belief structures. The problem is that we might oversimplify, developing beliefs about ourselves or the world that aren’t entirely true. I don’t know what Van Gogh’s belief was, but it must’ve been along the lines of ear betrayal. Mine was, “You’re behind in life. Catch up.” While this led to a ton of hard work and achievement in a short period, it also led to severe mental and physical exhaustion. Not an ideal trade off.

If our amygdalas had it their way, they probably would have devoured the rest of our brains by now, leaving us as nothing more than screaming, babbling bundles of crazy. To keep this from happening, we don’t need to learn anything or do anything. Rather we need to undo and unlearn the negative patterns. It’s actually easier than the original routine, which is like self-torture. Instead, we can avoid stress, sit quietly, think less, etc. Strive for simplicity and enjoyment. Stop every time you berate yourself or act based on a faulty belief structure. This is unlearning.

It’s important to know that mental health is just like physical health in that there’s upkeep. You wouldn’t refrain from going to the doctor for five years (insurance issues aside), yet few people will admit that they’ve been to a shrink even once. Why is that?

Yes, we used to lobotomize schizophrenic people and treat depressed people as social rejects. But for as far as we’ve come, there’s still much further to go in learning how to treat mental illness. If we can recognize our problems and define them, that’s a start. If we can dig around and discover why, that’s half the battle. Then we work to undo the damage through lifestyle changes, talking to people, or whatever works.

Anxiety may be the dizziness of freedom, but simplicity and understanding stop the spinning.

Photo by Lauren Hammond

The post Brain-Taming 101 appeared first on Change Your Life | The Change Blog.


The Change Blog


Secret of Adulthood: Enthusiasm Is a Form of Social Courage.

Further Secrets of Adulthood:

EnthusiasmFormOfSocialCourage_124717

 

The more I think about happiness, the more I value enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm is a form of social courage – it’s safer to criticize and scoff than to praise and embrace — and I’ve decided that I’d rather be “enthusiastic” than “confident.”

I have a patron saint for enthusiasm. Can you guess it? Julia Child. (By the way, identifying your patron saint is a very thought-provoking exercise in thinking about your own values.)

This post I wrote about Julia Child may be one of my favorite posts ever.

It can seem cooler and smarter to be ironic, detached, or critical, and it’s certainly much easier and safer to adopt that sort of stance. But enthusiasm is more fun. Enthusiasm is generous, positive, energetic, and social. It’s outward-turning and engaged. It’s brave, unself-conscious, warm-hearted, and kind of goofy. Like Julia Child!

I’m not sure whether I agree with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who wrote, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm” – but enthusiasm certainly helps. And sometimes enthusiasm takes guts.

I’m reminded of one of something my sister the sage once told me: “No one has an opinion until someone else has an opinion.” By speaking up with enthusiasm, we change people’s attitudes.

Agree, disagree?

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Also…

Speaking of patron saints, if you’d like a copy of my patron saints, email me here. Of you’d like to get a copy of my Happiness Paradoxes, or the Resolutions Chart, or the book-group discussion guides, or the Top Tips sheets, email me your request, and I’ll send it right out.


The Happiness Project


The Horrible, Awful, No-Good Dark Side of Chasing a Dream

the dark side of dreams

If you’ve watched my TEDx announcement video or read this post, you’ve heard my story of the dog who escapes the invisible fence. This one:

Invisible dog fences keep animals in place with fear. As dogs get close, they are given a little bit of hurt, just enough to believe that surely all that lies outside the yard is hurt.

In reality, all that stands between a dog and complete freedom is about 30 seconds of pain.

I had a dog once that figured that out. He would yelp for 30 seconds while he ran through the barrier, and it was a horrible sound.

But then it was over, and he was free.

I know that most of our fears are just 30-second fences standing between us and freedom.

I’ve been told that analogy is inspiring, and I mean it to be.

But there’s a horrible part of that story that is not inspiring. It’s terrifying. It’s painful. It’s the very opposite of inspiring.

For 30 seconds, the dog is experiencing non-stop electric shock.

A split second of that sensation is enough to keep most animals in line. It’s enough to make grown men jump and shove their fingers in their mouths like babies.

Thirty seconds of that kind of pain must be excruciating.

But we skip over that part of the story.

Just like we read about people who have succeeded and we skim over the part where they say they went bankrupt twice. Or lost everything. Or thought about quitting a million times.

Or sobbed on the bathroom floor while someone tried to send comfort through the locked door.

I mean, sure, we read the words – but the words don’t do it justice. Because what the story has that real life doesn’t is perspective.

When you’re in the middle of the 30 seconds, you don’t know that a happy ending is just a few paragraphs away.

It feels more like imminent death than a plot point.

And in real life, it usually lasts a hell of a lot longer than 30 seconds.

A friend of mine is crossing the invisible fence right now, and watching her reminds me of just how bad it is in there.

I want to tell her that she is close, that the pain itself is proof that she is going in the right direction.

I want to promise her that this, like everything, is temporary.

This will be worth it, I want to tell her. But more than that, I want her to know:

This part is awful.

This moment deserves to be seen. This pain needs to be acknowledged and not glossed over with platitudes about growth and progress.

People who push through that invisible fence are changed forever not because they discovered a magical pasture on the other side, but because they have had their shells burned away and their insides charred.

It makes perfect sense that this hurts so fucking bad.

You are not weak for doubting your ability to endure this pain. Doubt and despair are as inevitable as they are awful when you’re halfway between what you know and what you’ve dreamed about.

The courage that brought you to this hell will bring you out, but first it will desert you.

And that does not make you a failure or a coward. It makes you human.

It makes you one of us.

I see your pain, my warrior friend.

I see it, I recognize it, and I honor it.

And I promise it will not last forever.

Join the conversation at The Horrible, Awful, No-Good Dark Side of Chasing a Dream.


In Pursuit of Happiness


7 Ways to Start a Gratitude Practice

gratitude practice

I’m a big believer in practicing gratitude. I think doing is more powerful than feeling, and I know that my own gratitude practice has helped me identify my personal values.

Right now, my gratitude practice involves me spending a few minutes before bed each night making a short list in a journal. But that’s not the only way.

There’s never only one way.

You could…

1. Use a pen and notebook.

2. Download the Happier app.

3. Take the #100happydays challenge.

4. Say bedtime prayers with your kids.

5. Start a Grace in Small Things blog.

6. Make a happiness jar.

7. Send a daily email to the Universe at a free email account you make up.

Don’t let the how hold you back.

How do you keep track of the good in your life?

Join the conversation at 7 Ways to Start a Gratitude Practice.


In Pursuit of Happiness


Hope (the essential trait)

Light at the end of the Tunnel

“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” ~Christopher Reeve

Hope is the light that glimmers in the dark of the unknown. It is the flicker of possibility in the murky depths of the seemingly impossible. It is the reason we kneel in prayer and work to improve our lives and volunteer to help others. It is why we wake up and move forward and dream of better days.

Hope is the brick at the base of happiness. It is the light at the end of the tunnel you can see even when it isn’t really there … yet.

Hope keeps you going when nothing else inspires you to move forward. So keep your hope alive. Feed it a steady diet of faith in the unseen and yet unknown. Let hope wash over you and surround you and carry you when you feel like you’re sinking.

Know all things are possible. Know pain will end. Know things will improve. Keep the hope alive that life is not a punishment, but an opportunity to learn and grow and become something you are not yet but were meant to be.

That, at least, is my hope–that something comes alive and turns on and flickers warmly in the distant, driving your next step forward toward the hope that entices you onward until bathed in the sunlight of confident faith, the realization of a dream and the experience of a long-awaited, but soul-satisfying happiness.

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Meant to be Happy


Peeling Back the Mask: Reconnect With Your Authentic Self

Wearing a Mask

“You cannot find yourself by going into the past. You can find yourself by coming into the present.” ~Eckhart Tolle           

It was 3PM on a Wednesday and I had nothing to do. An empty schedule with limitless potential. 

I was miles from home in the freezing fog of San Francisco. The bustle of traffic reminded me of my hectic life back home, but I wasn’t bothered. I had nowhere to be and nobody to answer to, just like the day before and the next day. I was free.

I brought my favorite travel companion along with me to aid in my journey of self-discovery: me. Not the busy Account-Manager-me. My true self.

Last year was painful for me. Like many others, I found myself ebbing and flowing with the tide that is the nine-to-five. Living for the weekend so I could escape the grind and live outside the snow globe even if just for a moment.

Life is more than clocking in and out with dead eyes and a slack jaw while counting the milliseconds as they fade toward your Friday night. I’m on this earth to be—not to be someone else for a paycheck. In recognizing that I needed a vacation, I downed a bottle of wine and booked a two-week trip to my city by the bay. Fourteen days of sweet liberation.

Maybe you can relate to my reality.

Back home, Rebecca in accounting is a constant complainer. She brings you down like an iron pair of boots. You’ve got to grin and bear it because she processes your expense reports and you see her every day. You’ve gotten so adept at feigning interest that you’re losing sight of what’s underneath the mask.

Rebecca gets the sympathy mask. Your boss gets the I’m-passionate-about-my-job mask. Jackie in distribution gets the I-like-politics-because-you-like-politics mask. We wear whichever we have to in order to make things easier. Nathaniel Hawthorne said it best: 

“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” ~The Scarlet Letter

Two psychological terms stand out as they relate to being someone you’re not: cognitive dissonance and the act of compartmentalization.

They go together like a cerebral peanut butter and jelly sandwich. To understand our challenges, we must first define them. Enter Merriam-Webster:

Cognitive Dissonance: Psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously

Compartmentalization: Isolation or splitting off of part of the personality or mind with lack of communication and consistency between the parts

When was the last time you spent an entire day doing exactly what you wanted to do? Said exactly what you wanted to say? You have a belief system, a rule set. Stuffing these things in a box and being someone else makes you exactly that. Someone else. This is compartmentalization.

It’s a defense mechanism to combat the cognitive dissonance you feel when you have conflicting personalities—when there’s a difference between who you are and who you become in certain situations.

When faced with a challenging situation, a compartmentalized person has to decide how to act. Quelling the reaction most natural to their authentic self, they respond inauthentically because they’ve developed a completely separate personality.

We must be mindful of who we really are—and we get to decide who that is.

“We are our thoughts” isn’t just Eastern voodoo wisdom. The word “brainwashing” has a negative connotation, so let’s call it brain painting. Painting your mind with things you love is a surefire way to become a happy you. This is nothing more than surrounding yourself with people, books, subjects, and thoughts that make you smile. Be selective and consistent with what you allow in.

It’s important to take time to harbor your own well-being in a world that demands so much. Almost two thousand years ago, stoic philosophers like Seneca and Marcus Aurelius told us to retire into ourselves. Frequent self-examination has been a practice for thousands of years.

Being comfortable with and conscious of what you find is the definition of knowing who you are. Constantly look within and connect with your mask-less you. We can nurture our inner authenticity by being mindful every day.

  • Meditate. You don’t have to have an Om tattoo and a stick of incense to find a quiet place to look inside. Take a twenty-minute vacation inside your own soul. Be cognizant of what you find.
  • Observe. Take a walk and leave your phone at home. Look at everything around you with child’s eyes. Notice the beauty in the trees or the vastness of space. Be a living part of your surroundings.
  • Create. Doodle something while your coffee brews in the morning. Take a few minutes to write something meaningful. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it comes from your own creativity. Exercise your mind, amigo. You’ll be surprised at how out of shape its gotten.

Traveling solo isn’t an escape. It’s a small opportunity to delete distraction. Lucius Seneca said, “All of your problems are with you.” Running away from them is impossible. But we can, for a time, run away inside our own soul.

I spent my favorite day in San Francisco walking through the residential Noe Valley and Dolores Heights. A simple stroll down sidewalk after sidewalk, without a boss barking orders or my phone buzzing with e-mails. Just me and my smile to enjoy the cool breeze.

It wasn’t so much the city I enjoyed, as it was the chipping away at my mask. Each footstep, a small victory at finding myself underneath it all. I remembered not who I was, but who I am.

Though I’m back to the doldrum routine of my everyday life, I’m still the same human I was in San Francisco. Underneath the demands of a challenging career lies the same person that wandered those sidewalks so many weeks ago. A smiling nomad. He who digs coffee shops. The one who loves wine.

We have the tools and presence of mind to make our journey for authenticity a daily practice. Recognizing when we’ve strayed from our true selves is the first step to staying the course. No one can be you better than you can. Look inside, befriend yourself, and be free.

Photo by Frank Kovalchek

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About Trevor Smith

Trevor Smith lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his dog and guitars.

The post Peeling Back the Mask: Reconnect With Your Authentic Self appeared first on Tiny Buddha.


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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.