The Most Important Thing to Do Before a Difficult Conversation


“You are your choices.” ~Seneca

After four years of radio silence, a former flame appeared in my inbox.

We set up a time to talk later that week. And when the day came, right on time, he called.

We talked. I had many questions. He explained the best he could. The conversation eased into Taoism and Twitter. Totally comfortable.

But for the twenty-four hours beforehand, I was bracing myself.

I was expecting long, awkward silences, angry words, and maybe even a premature hanging up of the phone. In case it’s not clear, things hadn’t ended so well with us.

And if I had lunged into the conversation with all that tightness and fear, I probably wouldn’t be writing these words right now.

Because all my tightness and fear would more than likely have generated tightness and fear in him, and there would be nothing enlightening or inspiring to share out of that.

But thankfully, that’s not how this story pans out.

Here is what actually happened:

I set aside an hour before the call. I didn’t have a plan for what I’d do in that hour. I just knew that it was going to be a time of relaxation and rest.

I sang sweet pop songs while making my bed. I took a long, hot shower. I put on my favorite dress and snuggled with my puppy.

And then I sat cross-legged on my bed and, as Marianne Williamson puts it, I invited the Holy-Holy to “enter where You already abide.”

I meditated on words like “forgiveness” and “compassion.” And I also made room for words like “boundaries” and “clarity.”

The phone rang, and like I mentioned, the conversation went smoothly.

I’ve faced a string of difficult conversations lately and the consistent theme I’m noticing is this:

When I traipse up the stairs in last night’s pajamas with a smudge of peanut butter on my lip and a beeping phone in my hand, I am inviting more of that same messy, jumbled energy into the conversation I’m about to have.

If I want clarity and connection in my relationships, what the heck do I expect to happen when I begin our conversations with restless, twitching unfocused-ness?

What I bring to any interaction is (usually) what I receive from it.

So it boils down to this:

Before walking into tough conversations, we must get clear on who we want to be in that moment.

Before the birth control discussion with your daughter, take ten deep breaths. Remind yourself that you want her to understand the joy of sex and the life-shifting responsibilities it can bring.

Before you take away drunk Uncle Larry’s keys, ground yourself in the love and concern you feel for him and the safety of the other drivers and pedestrians on the road that night.

Before you walk into the big meeting, before you sign the divorce papers, before you say “I do,” pause and ask yourself:

Who do I want to be as I do this thing I’m about to do?

You might choose to be kind, open, attentive, loving.

You might prefer strong, firm, connected, a leader.

Inhale that. Affirm that. Be that.

This doesn’t mean that your body language and words will be in permanent alignment with the qualities you’ve chosen to focus on.

And it certainly doesn’t mean you’ll now morph into some super-human communicator deluxe.

You will still mess up, somehow. That’s part of being human.

But, I believe, you will mess up less.

I believe that when you get deliberate about the intention and energy you want to carry into a conversation or a room, you shift the dynamic.

The context moves from He-made-me-say-it to I choose these words. I choose these actions.

You are no longer floundering around.

You are no longer a victim or a puppet of the circumstances and people around you.

You’re making clear, conscious choices about the person you want to be. That’s what true power is. That’s what it means to create your life.

So before you open your mouth or write the email or turn the doorknob, be clear as seawater about who you want to be in that moment.

And then be that.

Photo by Benson Kua

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About Annika Martins

Annika Martins is a spiritual curator, which is kinda like being a museum curator. Except instead of curating paintings, she curates spiritual practices. From prayer and eyes open meditation to surfing and self-touch (oh yah!), pack your curiosity and prepare to expand your definition of what’s high and holy. See the Sacred. Your way. It’s all going down at

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Tiny Buddha

When Through is the Only Way Around

Breaking through

“The best way out is always through.” ~Robert Frost

What do you do when life pushes and slaps, crashes and burns and you find yourself scraped, bruised and buried under the weight of disaster and heartache? Do you run and hide? Do you curl into the fetal position and wait for life to stop hitting so hard?

Or do you get up and fight back with all that’s inside you, tenaciously pushing through to the other end of the challenge?

Standing up when life knocks us around a bit as we climb life’s mountains builds something inside of us that intensifies and focuses our resolve and makes us more able to deal with life’s most difficult trials. The hot fire of pain and difficulty polishes us.

We begin to drown in a sea of self-pity, sorrow and resentment when we stop in the middle, when we throw in the towel and go home before we’ve gone all the way. Continuing through to the other side makes the next disaster that much easier to bear and happiness that much easier to keep.

So the next time you feel bullied by life and everything seems to be falling apart, stay the course. See it through to the end and keep your mind trained on the end-product, an improved, more resilient you. Because in the end, you will be a stronger person for having endured.

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Meant to be Happy

Free Your Imagination to Unleash Your Potential


“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.


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:



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?

If you’re reading this post through the daily email, click here to join the conversation. And if you’d like to get the daily blog post by email, sign up here. (You can ignore that RSS business.)


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

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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.