Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Life in Love Becomes a Life Doubled by Katie

Jokes become funnier, beauty becomes deeper, doubts become fewer and fear becomes weaker.
Love does something to us that no words can describe.  Sure we try to describe it, as I am doing right now, and as billions of people throughout the ages have also attempted to do.  Sometimes we may come close to representing the impact of love, but never can we do it justice.  The deep, colorful and emotional existence of love does not fit into the rational and limited structure of words.  As soon as you try to describe it, you lessen it.  By trying to describe it, you try to understand it and by trying to understand it, you impose logic somewhere it does not belong.
In a world where quick-fixes and immediate answers are desired, if not demanded, we struggle with the idea of something that cannot be explained; something that we can’t Google; something that can’t be demonstrated by a scientific study or summed up by a mathematical equation.  But it is in fact in its mystery that we also find its beauty.
Yes, there are cynics that condemn the idea of true love.  They might point to divorce rates and affairs to prove their point.  And it is true that divorce-rates are high, as it is true that many people have affairs.  However, neither of these things invalidates the existence of true love.
Danger comes when we believe that love can and should live eternally without effort.  Us humans cannot survive without effort, and nor can human love.  Love requires work.  It requires investment and commitment.  Those butterfly feelings that we get at the beginning of a relationship are beautiful and wonderful, but eventually, the butterflies get tired and begin to rest their wings.    All of a sudden, the food in his teeth isn’t cute anymore, and the two hours she spends on her hair is just simply annoying; no matter how pretty she looks.  One by one, the butterflies disappear, and left before us is reality; stark, cold reality.  It is here, and only here, that true love is born.  No longer is it the adrenalin of our initial connection keeping the fire alive; it is us; raw, real and naked.  Naked love is far harder, but when it survives, it is also far deeper.
It is easy to believe that relationships die because of negative influences; fights, anger, frustration, distrust.  The truth is that it is often not the presence of negative influencers that kill relationships, but rather the absence of positive ones.
Like a plant, a relationship cannot exist on it’s own and expect to flourish.  Negative toxins might very well kill your beautiful garden, but the more likely culprit is the absence of water and sun, of attention and devotion.
We need to feed our relationships the things that they need in order for them to survive and grow. Not always, but more often than not, the negative factors that we perceive to be killing our relationships are in fact not the weapon.  They are the symptom.  They are the symptom of absence; absence of love, understanding and communication; absence of of listening, sharing and believing; absence of trust, forgiveness, commitment, honesty and compassion.
It is also true that the very things that we assume will kill a relationship, if approached wisely, can actually make it stronger.  Withering leaves act as signals that our plants need attention.  Similarly, anger or distance, or any other such behavior, can also act as signals; signals that, if detected early and treated wisely, can save love rather than destroy it.
Love exists, and its impact is profound.  But it cannot survive alone.  Feed and nurture it every single day and you will begin to see it flourish.  And when it does, which it will, the life you live will grow; jokes again will become funnier, beauty again will become deeper, doubts again will become fewer and fear again will become weaker. Because a life in love is for sure a life doubled.

7 Traits of Highly Sensitive People by Melissa Schwarz

Recently I discovered that I am a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), possessing an  “innate sensitiveness” as Carl Jung originally coined it. In 1996, Dr. Elaine Aron’s groundbreaking work confirmed that 15-20% of the population has this trait of high sensory processing. The work of Dr. Ted Zeff explores how the trait of sensitivity, specifically in boys, has been received in cultures around the world. Through these pioneers I have discovered a false belief I carried for a long time; the lens through which I experience life is not “wrong”. The validation that sensitivity is neither an asset nor a flaw has given me the ability to reframe the way I perceive life.
Here are 7 common traits of Highly Sensitive People:
1. HSPs  intimately experience the subtle details of life.
Delighting in color, design, texture, visual expression and music are all ways that this trait manifests itself as an absolute blessing. Many HSPs discover the depths of appreciation through animals, nature and the universe. There is often reverence and awe for the myriad ways life is experienced through the senses.
2. HSPs pick up on things that might go unnoticed by others.
Subtle sounds like the buzzing of lights, radio or TV static, air fresheners or scented candles, or even attuning to “bad vibes” can nudge an HSP into overload. I am particularly sensitive to clothing tags, fabrics and seams. I am also mindful of the cleaning and hygiene products I use since my skin and body are incredible sensitive to chemicals. The taste, smell and visual appeal of food has been an ongoing challenge throughout my life. As an adult it is wonderful to be able to shop at a local market that offers fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. It is of utmost importance for an HSP to eat well and lovingly care for their body.
3. HSPs experience a more saturated range of emotions.
It is not uncommon for HSPs to experience both positive and negative emotions more deeply than non-HSPs. Many HSPs tend to be “big reactors”. There is a legitimate struggle on the part of many HSPs to be in control of their emotions. I have no doubt that one of my soul’s journeys during this incarnation as Melissa is to learn how to be a master of, rather than beholden to, my emotions.
4. HSPs have strong intuition.
We all hear our inner wisdom in different ways. Most HSPs have an inner knowing that speaks from a place of love, trust and surrender. This personal guidance is what allows for the most serendipitous of relationships and experiences. Many people, non-HSPs included, have been “talked out” of their guidance by well-meaning parents and adults. If you feel shut down to your own personal truths it’s within your power to reconnect in whatever way feels best to you. You might want to cultivate a meditation practice, begin working with a coach, or consider working with a professional therapist specializing in Highly Sensitive People.
5. HSPs need time alone.
It is easy for an HSP to dip into overload after an afternoon of running errands or a dinner party with friends. Often a bit of alone time to read, meditate, daydream, garden, create, stretch, nap or simply “be” is all that is needed to get grounded. Without taking care of yourself you will not have anything to give to others. It is crucial to find a modality of self-connection that works for you.
6. HSPs avoid violent movies and TV shows.
The media is often permeated with gory, scary or gruesome imagery. HSPs might do well to eliminate extraneous violence from entertainment sources and avoid overindulgence in news.
7. HSPs make wonderful coaches, therapists and healers.
Many HSPs are natural caregivers since they are so often in tune with the needs of others. Frequently sensitivity and empathy travel together, therefore it’s common for HSPs to pick up on the emotions of others. Friends in need of a shoulder to cry on might call upon their HSP friends because of our innate ability to love and soothe. HSPs must be mindful not to read too deeply into things or give away so much love that they themselves become depleted. It is a delicate  practice to  beam love onto another while maintaining your own well-being.
Understanding how you “work” as an HSP is a necessary step towards becoming a self-actualized being.  Lovingly establishing routines and boundaries that honor your temperament is a highly personal process. As you cultivate your practices  and  become  more comfortable embodying the most “successful you”, a newfound appreciation for the trait of sensitivity is sure to follow.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

4 Unusual Steps To Attract More Money Into Your Life

Are you struggling to attract money? I did, until I started following 4 unusual steps that have changed my financial and personal life.Since then, I’ve been experiencing one success after another.A reputable publisher asked me to write a book. Ideas flow effortlessly to me. The right people, information, and solution come up unexpectedly when any challenge arise.I've become a human magnet for wealth, wonderful opportunities, creative ideas, and good luck. And now, I want to share these 4 steps with you so you too can experience the same.

Step 1: Have A Big Enough “Why.”

Imagine for a moment that you’re earning $2000 a month from your day job. Then one day, your mom (who has no savings) called to tell you that she has a serious illness; but it can be cured through medical treatments worth $3000 monthly.
If you love your mom, would you be able to find a way to pay for her medical expenses along with your personal expenses? Absolutely!
If you have a big enough “why”, you would do anything to achieve what you want.
So let me ask you…
Why do you want more wealth or prosperity? The reason must have a strong emotional attachment to you.
The pleasure you want to attain must be so gratifying – or the pain you want to avoid must be so agonizing – that you would put 100% of your focus and efforts to accomplish your financial goals.
If for example, you’re stuck in a dead end job but you want to operate your own business, your “why” (as it relates to pain) could be something like… you want to stop waking up depressed every morning, avoid hours of traffic, and stop worrying about whether you could pay for emergencies and other expenses.
Your “why” (as it relates to pleasure) could be something like… you want to work and earn massively on what you truly love to do, be with your family more often, and enjoy your life to the fullest.

Step 2: Change Your Limiting Wealth Beliefs.

Okay, so you said you want to be rich. But deep inside, do you believe that…
- Rich people are greedy or dishonest? 
- Your friends and relatives would take advantage of you if you’re wealthy?
- Having plenty of money makes you spiritually poor?
- Money can’t buy happiness?
- Getting wealthy is not your destiny? 
- You’re too old (or too young or too uneducated, etc.) to get rich?
And the classic…
- Money is the root of all evil?
If you answered “yes” to any one or more of the above, then you have to change those limiting beliefs pronto!
You can’t expect to attract money if you’re repelling it at the same time.
Mingle with wealthy people and you will realize they’re among the most generous and honest individuals you could meet.
Realize that by being rich, you could help a lot of people (and still have more than enough for yourself and loved ones).
By tithing or contributing to a worthy cause, you could boost your happiness and spiritual well-being at the same time. (After all, God loves cheerful givers.)
Your destiny is in your own hands. And it’s never too late nor too early to start accumulating wealth. Stop making excuses!
As Bill Gates said, “If you are born poor, it’s not your mistake. But if you die poor, it’s your mistake.”

Step 3: Surround Yourself With Wealthy, Optimistic People.

If you’re serious in attracting wealth, you have to be around rich and successful people as much as possible.
The best thing you could do is find one or more mentors who are already successful in the field you want to enter. You could leverage from their knowledge, experience, and connections. By modeling their system and getting access to their network, you could get a head start and gain momentum in the process.
The next best thing is to attend their seminars, read their books or watch their videos (if they have any). That way, you can adopt their positive mindset, beliefs, and attitude.
On the contrary, beware those people in your life who always complain, discourage you from achieving your goals, drain your energy, or simply make you feel bad. Avoid them at all cost!
Associate and surround yourself only with the right people, so their “aura” can rub off on you. Your financial destiny depends on it!

Step 4: Immerse Yourself With “Wealth Reminders”.

“Wealth Reminders” are stuffs that remind you of wealth and other things that you want to be, do, or have.
They will program your mind to be conscious of abundance and prosperity.
Here are some ideas:
– Create a vision board where you paste images of money and other things you desire (such as a mansion, a luxury car, etc.). Put it in a place where you could see it often. Mentally and emotionally put yourself in those images and let your imagination go wild for a few minutes.
– Create a video (aka mind movies) filled with images and affirmations that support your financial goals. Watch it as often as you can. (If you don’t know how to create a video, hire a video creator from for just 5 bucks.)
– Write million dollar checks payable to yourself. Put them in your ceiling, in your bathroom mirror, in your wallet, and any other possible spots you can think of.
– Choose a desktop wallpaper or background that depicts stacks of $100 bills or other things that remind you of money.
– Use everyday things with designs that represent wealth and abundance. It could be anything – clothes, blankets, pens, notebooks, plates… the sky’s the limit.
On the other hand, eliminating negative influences and things is just as important. Throw or give away stuffs that make you feel down. Avoid watching the news and stop reading gossip magazines.
Follow these 4 unusual ways and you’ll soon find yourself getting more wealth opportunities, creating more profitable ideas, and simply having more “lucky” experiences than you’ve ever had in your life.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

19 Signs You’re Doing Better than You Think

True wealth is the ability to fully experience life.
- Henry David Thoreau
  1. You are alive.
  2. You are able to see the sunrise and the sunset.
  3. You are able to hear birds sing and waves crash.
  4. You can walk outside and feel the breeze through your hair and the sun’s warmth on your skin.
  5. You have tasted the sweetness of chocolate cake.
  6. You didn’t go to sleep hungry last night.
  7. You awoke this morning with a roof over your head.
  8. You had a choice of what clothes to wear.
  9. You haven’t feared for your life today.
  10. You have overcome some considerable obstacles, and you have learnedand survived.
  11. You often worry about what you’re going to do with your life – your career, your family, the next step, etc. – which means you have ambition, passion, drive, and the freedom to make your own decisions.
  12. You live in a country that protects your basic human rights and civil liberties.
  13. You are reasonably strong and healthy – if you got sick today, you could recover.
  14. You have a friend or relative who misses you and looks forward to your next visit.
  15. You have someone with whom to reminisce about ‘the good old days.’
  16. You have access to clean drinking water.
  17. You have access to medical care.
  18. You have access to the Internet.
  19. You can read.
The truth is, you’re doing better than a lot of people in this world.  So remember to be grateful for all the things you do have.  (Read The Happiness Project.)

7 Things You Should Stop Expecting from Others

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations
and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”
―Bruce Lee
The biggest disappointments in our lives are often the result of misplaced expectations.  This is especially true when it comes to our relationships and interactions with others.
Tempering your expectations of other people will greatly reduce unnecessary frustration and suffering, in both your life and theirs, and help you refocus on the things that truly matter.
Which means it’s time to…

1.  Stop expecting them to agree with you.

You deserve to be happy.  You deserve to live a life you are excited about.  Don’t let the opinions of others make you forget that.  You are not in this world to live up to the expectations of others, nor should you feel that others are here to live up to yours.  In fact, the more you approve of your own decisions in life, the less approval you need from everyone else.
You have to dare to be yourself, and follow you own intuition, however frightening or strange that may feel or prove to be.  Don’t compare yourself to others.  Don’t get discouraged by their progress or success.  Follow your ownpath and stay true to your own purpose.  Success is ultimately about spending your life happily in your own way.

2.  Stop expecting them to respect you more than you respect yourself.

True strength is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles.  It’s about having faith and trust in who you are, and a willingness to act upon it.  Decide this minute to never again beg anyone for the love, respect, and attention that you should be showing yourself.
Today, look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I love you, and from now on I’m going to act like it.”  It’s important to be nice to others, but it’s even more important to be nice to yourself.  When you practice self-love and self-respect, you give yourself the opportunity to be happy.  When you are happy, you become a better friend, a better family member, and a better YOU.  (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Self-Love” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

3.  Stop expecting (and needing) them to like you.

You might feel unwanted and unworthy to one person, but you are priceless to another.  Don’t ever forget your worth.  Spend time with those who value you.  No matter how good you are to people, there will always be one negative person who criticizes you.  Smile, ignore them, and carry on.
In this crazy world that’s trying to make you like everyone else, the toughest battle you’ll ever have to fight is the battle to be yourself.  And as you’re fighting back, not everyone will like you.  Sometimes people will call you names because you’re “different.”  But that’s perfectly OK.  The things that make you different are the things that make YOU, and the right people will love you for it.

4.  Stop expecting them to fit your idea of who they are.

Loving and respecting others means allowing them to be themselves.  When you stop expecting people to be a certain way, you can begin to appreciate THEM.
Pay close attention, and respect people for who they are and not for who you want them to be.  We don’t know most people half as well as we believe we do; and truly knowing someone is a big part of what makes them wonderful.  Every human being is remarkable and beautiful; it just takes a patient set of eyes to see it.  The more you get to know someone, the more you will be able to look beyond their appearance and see the beauty of who they truly are.  (Read The Mastery of Love.)

5.  Stop expecting them to know what you’re thinking.

People can’t read minds.  They will never know how you feel unless you tell them.  Your boss?  Yeah, he doesn’t know you’re hoping for a promotion because you haven’t told him yet.  That cute guy you haven’t talked to because you’re too shy?  Yeah, you guessed it, he hasn’t given you the time of day simply because you haven’t given him the time of day either.
In life, you have to communicate with others regularly and effectively.  And often, you have to open your vocal cords and speak the first words.  You have to tell people what you’re thinking.  It’s as simple as that.

6.  Stop expecting them to suddenly change.

If there’s a specific behavior someone you care about has that you’re hoping disappears over time, it probably won’t.  If you really need them to change something, be honest and put all the cards on the table so this person knows how you feel and what you need them to do.
For the most part though, you can’t change people and you shouldn’t try.  Either you accept who they are or you choose to live without them.  It’s might sound harsh, but it’s not.  When you try to change people, they often remain the same, but when you don’t try to change them – when you support them and allow them the freedom to be as they are – they gradually change in the most beautiful way.  Because what really changes is the way you see them.  (Read A New Earth.)

7.  Stop expecting them to be “OK.”

Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle, just like you.  Every smile or sign of strength hides an inner struggle every bit as complex and extraordinary as your own.
Remember that embracing your light doesn’t mean ignoring your dark.  We are measured by our ability to overcome adversities and insecurities, not avoid them.  Supporting, sharing and making contributions to other people is one of life’s greatest rewards.  This happens naturally if we allow it, because we all share very similar dreams, needs and struggles.  Once we accept this, the world then is a place where we can look someone else in the eye and say, “I’m lost and struggling at the moment,” and they can nod and say, “Me too,” and that’s OK.  Because not being “OK” all the time, is perfectly OK.


People rarely behave exactly the way you want them to.  Hope for the best, but expect less.  And remember, the magnitude of your happiness will be directly proportional to your thoughts and how you choose to think about things.  Even if a situation or relationship doesn’t work out at all, it’s still worth it if it made you feel something new, and if it taught you something new.

Your turn…

What would you add to this post?  What do you need to stop expecting from others?  Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with the community.
Photo by: Alex Berlin

6 Things Happy People Never Do

Happiness is not something you postpone for the future;
it is something you design into the present.
Happy people do a lot of things.  They spend time expressing gratitude, cultivating optimism, practicing kindness, nurturing loving relationships, committing to meaningful goals, savoring life’s little pleasures, and so on and so forth.
But they NEVER…

1.  Mind other people’s business.

Forget about what others are doing.  Stop looking at where they are and what they have.  Nobody is doing better than you because nobody can do better than you.  YOU are walking your own path.  Sometimes the reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes circumstances with everyone else’s public highlight reel.  We listen to the noise of the world, instead of ourselves.  So stop the comparisons!  Ignore the distractions.  Listen to your own inner voice.  Mind your own business.
Keep your best wishes and your biggest goals close to your heart and dedicate time to them every day.  Don’t be scared to walk alone, and don’t be scared to enjoy it.  Don’t let anyone’s ignorance, drama, or negativity stop you from being the best you can be.  Keep doing what you know in your heart is right, for YOU.  Because when you are focused on meaningful work and at peace within yourself, almost nothing can shake you.  (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Passion and Growth” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

2.  Seek validation of self-worth from others.

When you are content to simply be yourself, without comparing and competing to impress others, everyone worthwhile will respect you.  And even more importantly, you will respect yourself.
How are you letting others define you?  What would you do differently if youknew nobody would judge you?
Truth be told, no one has the right to judge you.  People may have heard your stories, and they may think they know you, but they can’t feel what you are going through; they aren’t living YOUR life.  So forget what they think and say about you.  Focus on how you feel about yourself, and keep walking the path that feels best under your feet.
Those who accept you are your friends.  Those who don’t are your teachers.  If someone calls you something and it’s true, it’s not your problem because it’s true.  If someone calls you something and it’s not true, it’s not your problem because it’s not true.  Either way, whatever they call you is not your problem.  What other people call you is their problem…
What you call yourself, and who you decide to become, is your problem.

3.  Rely on other people and external events for happiness.

Unhappiness lies in that gap between what we have now and what we think we need.  But the truth is, we don’t need to acquire anything more to be content with what we already have.  We don’t need anyone else’s permission to be happy.  Your life is magnificent not because someone says it is, or because you have acquired something new, but because you choose to see it as such.  Don’t let your happiness be held hostage.  It is always yours to choose, to live and experience.
As soon as you stop making everyone and everything else responsible for your happiness, the happier you’ll be.  If you’re unhappy now, it’s not someone else’s fault.  Take full responsibility for your own unhappiness, and you will instantly gain the ability to be happier.  Stop seeking in vain to arrange conditions that will make you happy.  Simply choose to appreciate the greatness that is yours in this moment, and the right conditions will start to line up around the contentment you seek.
The greater part of your happiness or unhappiness depends upon your outlook, and not upon our situation.  Even if things aren’t perfect right now, think of all the beauty still left around you.  A good reason to smile is always one thought away; choose to tap into it any time you like.  (Read The Gifts of Imperfection.)

4.  Hold on to resentment.

Let today be the day you stop being haunted by the ghosts from your past.  What happened in the past is just one chapter in your story; don’t close the book, just turn the page.
We’ve all been hurt by our own decisions and by others, and while the pain of these experiences is normal, sometimes it lingers for too long.  Feelings of resentment urge us to relive the same pain over and over, and we have a hard time letting go.
Forgiveness is the remedy.  It allows you to focus on the future without combating the past.  To understand the infinite potential of everything going forward is to forgive everything already behind you.  Without forgiveness, wounds can never be healed and personal growth can never be achieved.  It doesn’t mean you’re erasing the past, or forgetting what happened.  It means you’re letting go of the resentment and pain, and instead choosing to learn from the incident and move on with your life.

5.  Spend prolonged periods of time in negative environments.

You can’t make positive choices for the rest of your life without an environment that makes those choices easy, natural, and enjoyable.  So protect your spirit and potential from contamination by limiting your time with negative people and the environments they inhabit.
When other people invite you to act like victims, when they whine and moan about the unfairness of life, for example, and ask you to agree, to offer condolences, and to participate in their grievances, WALK AWAY.  When you join in that game of negativity you always lose.
Even when you’re alone, create a positive mental space for yourself.  Make it a point to give up all the thoughts that make you feel bad, or even just a few of them that have been troubling you, and see how doing that changes your life.  You don’t need negative thoughts.  They are all lies.  They solve nothing.  All they have ever given you is a false self that suffers for no reason.  (Read Buddha’s Brain.)

6.  Resist the truth.

It is a certain deathtrap when we spend our lives learning how to lie, because eventually these lies grow so strong in our minds that we become bad at seeing, telling and living our own truth.  Lives come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies.  If you resist the truth, you will live a lie every day as the truth haunts your thoughts every night.  You simply can’t get away from your truth by moving dishonestly from one place to the next.
So don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to hide the truth with deception; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion of what’s popular.  It is better to offer no explanation or excuse than a false one.  It takes courage and strength to admit the truth, but it is the only way to truly live.  Accept what is, embrace it fully, and live for the possibilities that lie ahead.

Your turn…

What would you add to the list?  What’s something you should NOT do if you want to be happy?  Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
Photo by: Danorbit

7 Habits to Start in 7 Days to Guarantee a Year of Happiness

“Learn to value yourself, which means: fight for your happiness.”
―Ayn Rand
In our busy daily lives it’s easy to miss the forest for the trees and completely overlook some of the more obvious activities that can disproportionally affect our happiness levels.  Luckily, we can go off more than just our intuition; there are lots of proven strategies that aim to create the right behavior that leads to a happier life.  Below, we take a look at seven of the more actionable pieces of advice you can start implementing over the next week.

1.  Find meaning in your work.

Last week I interviewed a motel housekeeper in Miami Beach for a side project I’m working on.  “Do you like your job?” I asked.  To my surprise, she smiled from ear to ear and was breathless for a couple seconds.  She finally collected herself and said, “I can’t believe how much I love my job!  I get to make dozens of our guests happy every day and feed my two beautiful children at the same time.”  Talk about a powerful perspective!  Right?
A job is only just a job if you chose to see it as a job.  But there’s so much more to it.  All work is a chance to be of service.  All work is a chance to express your gifts and talents.  All work is a chance to be helpful to other people.  All work is a chance to change the world.  It’s up to you to find meaning in your work, whether you’re a house keeper, whether you’re a police officer, whether you’re a teacher, whether you’re an astronaut, or an entrepreneur.  You must find meaning in your work so that every day you feel like you’re on a purposeful mission.
So I today challenge you:
Love what you do, until you can do what you love.  Love where you are, until you can be where you love.  Love the people you are with, until you can be with the people you love most.
This is the way we find happiness.  (Read Buddha’s Brain.)

2. Embrace discomfort to gain mastery.

Happy people generally have something known as a “signature strength” – at least one skillset they’ve become proficient at, even if the learning process made them feel somewhat uncomfortable at first.
Over the past decade we’ve coached thousands of people online and offline, and one lesson we’ve learned is that, yes, mastering a skill is just as stressful as you might think.  However, this stress is positive.  Although the process of becoming proficient at something takes its toll on people in the form of stress, people also admit that these same activities make them feel happy and satisfied when they look back on their days, weeks, months, and years as a whole.  They see their progress and they feel great about it.
Truth be told, being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it.  Struggle is the evidence of progress.  The more time you spend there, the faster you learn.  It’s better to spend an extremely high quality ten minutes growing, than it is to spend a mediocre hour running in place.  You want to practice at the point where you are on the edge of your ability, stretching yourself over and over again, making mistakes, stumbling, learning from those mistakes and stretching yourself even farther.  The rewards of becoming great in the long run far outweigh the short-term discomfort that’s felt in the process of earning your stripes.

3. Detach yourself from your failures and successes.

Self-worth that’s attached to external merit can be quite fickle.  For example, through our coaching, Angel and I have come to know that most university students who tie their self-worth to their schooling feel small boosts when they receive a good grade or graduate school acceptance letter, but feel harsh drops in self-worth when they don’t.  What these students are forgetting is that failure is not something you are; it’s just something you experience.  And the same is true for success.
So remember that happy, successful people are often happy and successful in the long run for one simple reason: they think about failure and success differently.  They don’t take everything that goes wrong personally, and they don’t get a big head when everything goes right either.  Follow in their footsteps.  Do the best you can, and be a humble, life-long learner.  Never let success get to your head and never let failure get to your heart.

4. Be productive, but not rushed.

Being rushed puts you on the fast track to being miserable.  Period.  But on the flipside, having nothing to do can also take its toll (bad news for those who subscribe to the dream of doing nothing).  The balance is just right when you’re living a productive life at a comfortable pace.  Meaning, you should be expanding your comfort zone often, but not so much that you feel frenzied and out of control.  Easier said than done, but certainly a positive state to strive towards.
One method of achieving this is to have “heavy lifting” and “light lifting” timeslots scheduled each day.  During the “heavy lifting” times, you go at it full force, and then as soon as a “light lifting” timeslot arrives, you slow down.  It’s simply a matter of scheduling time every day to not be overly busy.  Have dedicated downtime – clear points in the day to reflect, rest, and recharge.  Don’t fool yourself; you’re not so busy that you can’t afford a few minutes of sanity.
Also, keep in mind that you can’t always be agreeable to everyone else’s requests and demands; that’s how people take advantage of you.   Sometimes you have to set clear boundaries.  We all have obligations, but a comfortable pace can only be found by properly managing your yeses.  Be willing to say “No” to most things, so you are able to say “Yes” to the right things.  (Read The ONE Thing.)

5.  Give when you’re able.

While giving is usually considered a selfless act, giving is often more beneficial for the giver than the receiver.  In other words, providing social support of any kind can actually be more helpful to the bigger picture of our lives than receiving it.  Intuitively I think we all know this, because it feels amazing to help someone who needs it.  And that’s because lasting happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we give – the experience of making a difference in the world.
The science behind this is simple…
Performing any act of kindness releases Serotonin in your brain.  Serotonin is a natural substance that has incredible health benefits, including making you feel more joyful.  However, what’s even cooler about this is that not only will you feel better, but so will others watching your act of kindness transpire.  That’s right; bystanders will be blessed with a release of Serotonin just by watching you give kindness.  (And a side note is that the job of most anti-depressants is to release more Serotonin.  Move over Pfizer, kindness is kicking butt and taking names!)
So just keep in mind that while you can’t give all of yourself all of the time, you can give some of yourself some of the time, and doing so will make all the difference.

6.  Nurture your closest relationships.

Finding Flow, an interesting psychology book on happiness, reveals national survey data showing that when someone claims to have a few close friends with whom they can discuss important problems, they are 60% more likely to say they’re happy.  Also, did you know studies have shown that average human mortality rates DOUBLE when we’re lonely?  WHOA!
Good relationships really are worth their weight in gold.  And the number of friends isn’t the important aspect here; it’s the effort you put into your relationships that matters.  Although it’s harsh to think about, even the best relationships dissolve over time if they aren’t maintained; a closeness with someone is something you need to continually earn, so never treat it as a given.  Every time you connect with those close to you, you further strengthen those bonds and you give yourself a little boost of happiness at the same time.  Win-win.
And don’t wait around to make big plans with those you care about.  Make your time together the plan.  Communicate openly on a regular basis.  Get together in the flesh as often as possible.  Not because it’s convenient to do so, but because you know each other are worth the extra effort.
Just put down the smart phone, close the laptop and enjoy each other’s company, face to face, the old fashioned way.  There are few joys in life that equal a good conversation, a genuine laugh, a long walk, a friendly dance, or a big hug shared by two people who care about each other.  Sometimes the most ordinary things can be made extraordinary just by doing them with the right people.  So choose to be around these people, and choose to make the most of your time together. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

7. Be true to yourself.

This one is more anecdotal than specific, but perhaps the most important point of them all.
When the Guardian asked a hospice nurse about the most common regrets of the dying, one of the prevalent answers was that people regretted not being true to themselves.  As one patient put it, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
May that quote dwell in your mind and remind you to make your needs a priority.
Because ultimately, no matter how you live or how wonderful you are, someone else will be disappointed.  So do your thing.  Don’t hesitate and waste all your time with lots of explanations.  Most people only hear what they want to hear anyway.  Just because someone doesn’t understand your point of view, doesn’t mean a great explanation doesn’t exist.
Seriously, can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?  Happiness is found when you stop comparing yourself to everyone else and what they want.  Stop living for other people and their opinions.  Be true to yourself.  You are the only person in charge of your life.  The only question is: What do you want to do with the rest of it?
Start doing it!
As they say, there are seven days in the week, and “someday” isn’t one of them.

Your turn…

How about you?  What habits keep you happy?  What else would you add to the list?

8 Toxic Beliefs Most People Think Are Normal

It’s not the circumstances of our lives that shape us, but our beliefs about what those circumstances mean.
When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I had tunnel vision and expected life to be a certain way.  I studied my failures until I lost sight of my successes.  I surrendered my dreams to feel a sense of comfort.  I held tight to my fears and shielded myself from love and happiness by refusing to put myself out there.  And as I did all of this, I sat back and wondered why life was so miserable.
Obviously, I was very lost.  My own toxic beliefs and ensuing behaviors had gotten the best of me.  But after some extensive soul-searching, lots of reading, and diligent daily practice, I learned to do things differently, and I found myself again.  I tell you this because I know you struggle with similar inner demons – we all do.  Sometimes the ideas and habits we get comfortable with end up killing us inside.
As a veteran life coach who has now spent the better part of a decade coaching thousands of people online and offline, I realize that many of the toxic beliefs I struggled with earlier in life are actually quite common.  I have literally seen the same toxic beliefs surface in the lives of new clients over and over again.  Here are eight of the most common ones you need to be aware of:
  1. The present is indicative of the future. – When things aren’t going well there’s a tendency to extrapolate and assume the future holds more of the same.  For some strange reason this doesn’t happen as much when things are going well.  A laugh, a smile and a warm fuzzy feeling are fleeting and we know it.  We take the good times at face value in the moment for all they’re worth, and then we let them go.  But when we’re depressed, struggling, or fearful, it’s easy to heap on more pain by assuming tomorrow will be exactly like today.  This is a cyclic, self-fulfilling prophecy.  If you don’t allow yourself to move past what happened, what was said, what was felt, you will look at your future through that same dirty lens, and nothing will be able to focus your foggy judgment.  You will keep on justifying, reliving, and fueling a perception that shouldn’t have existed in the first place.
  2. It’s too late to make changes. – Life isn’t a straight line.  There isn’t one right path for you or anyone else.  And there isn’t a set timeline of milestones.  But sometimes the pressure coming from peers, family, work, and society in general is enough to make us feel completely broken inside.  If we don’t have the “right” job, relationship, lifestyle, and so forth, by a certain age or timeframe, we assume we’re somehow broken.  And that’s not true at all.  You’re allowed extra time when you need it.  You’re allowed to backtrack.  You’re allowed to figure out what inspires you at different stages of your life.  Life is meant to be a series of zigs and zags.  It should look like a mess, but a beautiful mess.  So whatever situation you’re in right now, just know that it can change if you want it to.  It’s up to you.  You just have to turn yourself around and choose something new.
  3. Being vulnerable is dangerous. – We’re all afraid to say too much, to feel too deeply, to let people know what they mean to us.  But this isn’t healthy.  Love is vulnerability.  Happiness is vulnerability.  The risk of being vulnerable is the price of opening yourself up to beauty and opportunity.  Being vulnerable is not about showing the parts of you that are polished; it’s about revealing the unpolished parts you would rather keep hidden from the world.  It’s about looking out into the world with an honest, open heart and saying, “This is me!  Take me or leave me!”  It’s hard to let go and be vulnerable like this though, because the stakes are high.  But remember, nothing worthwhile in this world is a safe bet.  Since love and happiness are born out of our willingness to be vulnerable – to open up to something wonderful that could be taken away from us – when you hide from your vulnerability, you automatically hide from everything you desire.  (Read Daring Greatly.)
  4. Being alone is a problem. – Wrong!  If you don’t like who YOU are when you’re with someone else, that’s the real problem, and it’s time to change things.  Relationships must be chosen wisely.  Don’t let loneliness drive you back into the arms of someone you know you don’t belong with.  Fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.  Strive to discover true love – the kind of relationship that motivates you to be a better person – the kind of intimacy that’s rare rather than right there.  “But I don’t want to be alone!” you say.  Change your mind about that.  Be alone.  Eat alone.  Take yourself out on dates, and sleep alone when you get back.  By doing so you will learn about yourself.  You will grow, you will figure out what inspires you, you will realize your own dreams, your own beliefs, your own stunning clarity, and when you do meet the right person who makes you feel even more like yourself, you’ll be sure of it, because you’ll be sure of yourself.  Bottom line: Don’t rush love.  Wait until you truly find it.  A great relationship is worth waiting for.
  5. Fitting in is a good thing. – Sometimes you likely catch yourself asking, “Who am I to think I can do this?”  When in fact you should be saying, “Who am I to think I can’t?”  Ignore your doubts.  Forget about fitting in.  Stand out!  Think about it.  If you spent your entire life focusing on what everyone else thought of you, would you forget who you really were?  What if the face you showed the world turned out to be a mask… with nothing beneath it?  That’s what happens when you spend all your time trying to be who you think they want you to be.  Don’t sell yourself short.  Don’t save face and lose your soul in the process.  Doing so does not serve the world.  There’s nothing helpful about shrinking so that others won’t feel insecure around you.  You are meant to shine in a way only YOU can.  You were born to manifest all the brilliance inside you.  And as you let your light shine, you subconsciously give others permission to do the same.  As you are liberated from your own fear of standing out, your presence automatically liberates those around you too.  (Read Choose Yourself!)
  6. There’s a perfect XYZ for me. – As human beings, we often chase hypothetical, static states of perfection.  We do so when we are searching for the perfect house, job, friend, lover, and so forth.  The problem, of course, is that perfection doesn’t exist in a static state.  Because life is a continual journey, constantly evolving and changing.  What is here today is not exactly the same tomorrow – that perfect house, job, friend or lover will eventually fade to a state of imperfection.  But with a little patience and an open mind, over time, that imperfect house evolves into a comfortable home.  That imperfect job evolves into a rewarding career.  That imperfect friend evolves into a steady shoulder to lean on.  And that imperfect lover evolves into a reliable lifelong companion.  It’s just a matter of letting perfectionism GO.
  7. What everyone does to you is personal. – People are toxic to themselves and others when they believe that everything happening in the world is a direct assault on them, or is in some way all about them.  The truth is that what other people say and do to you is much more about them, than you.  People’s reactions to you are about their perspectives, wounds and life experiences.  Whether people think you’re amazing, or believe you’re average, again, is more about them.  I’m not suggesting we should be narcissists and ignore all feedback.  I’m saying that a great deal of hurt, disappointment and sadness in our lives comes from our taking things personally.  In most cases it’s far more productive and healthy to let go of other people’s good or bad opinion of you, and to operate with your own intuition and wisdom as your guide.  (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
  8. You should never be sad. – The desire for constant happiness only makes us miserable.  Because nothing in life is constant.  There is neither absolute happiness nor absolute sadness.  There are only the changes in our moods that swing between these two extremes.  At any given moment we’re comparing how we feel to how we felt at another time – comparing one level of our contentment to another.  In this way, those of us who have felt great sadness are best able to feel heightened feelings of happiness after we emotionally heal.  We must know misery to identify times of elation.  The key on a daily basis, nevertheless, is to live your life in full.  Experience the highs and the lows, the positives and negatives, and all the moods present in between.  Don’t focus on simply being happy.  Focus on living a well-seasoned life.  Focus on achieving completeness.  Yes, happiness is part of this completeness, but so is sadness, difficulty, frustration, and failure.  And overcoming these latter points supports your personal growth far more than constant happiness.

The floor is yours…

If you can relate to any of these toxic beliefs, remember, you are not alone.  We all have unhealthy thoughts and tendencies buried deep within us that have the potential to sneak up on us sometimes.  As mention above, the key is awareness – recognizing these beliefs and fixing them before they work their way into your daily routines.
So, which of these toxic beliefs sometimes sneak up on you?  What other toxic beliefs have held you back?  How have you coped?  Leave a comment below and share your thoughts and insights with us.