“We work on ourselves in order to help others, but also we help others in order to work on ourselves.” ~Pema Chodron
Recently I got into a hypothetical conversation with someone who very quickly turned hostile and accusatory. Let’s call her Jane. My first instinct was to get defensive, but then I realized this subject was quite raw for Jane, and there was likely something going on below the surface.
Usually when people are combative seemingly without cause, there’s some underlying pain fueling it.
As we got to the root of things, I learned that Jane was holding onto anger …
“What you are is what you have been. What you’ll be is what you do now.” -Buddha
We all have goals–things we’d like to accomplish and ideas of who we’d like to become through the process. But sometimes we get so bogged down in fears and self-doubt that it’s hard to commit to the changes we want to create and then work toward them consistently.
It’s not easy to do. When you’re faced with obstacles, you might get stuck. When you feel unmotivated or unsure, you might get stuck. When your goal seems too far out of reach, you might …
“Strangers are friends you have yet to meet.” -Unknown
Since I live in LA and my family lives in Boston, I take long flights several times a year. During many of these flights, I read a book or watch a movie and disappear into my own little world of self-entertainment.
When I was returning from a recent visit, I found myself looking around at all the different people who I would likely not talk to during the flight, and then never see again.
We’d all share an experience together–and yet apart–and then move on with our lives, without …
“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” -Benjamin Franklin
A few years back, I reconnected with an old friend from high school. Years after we met, we both struggled with depression and dealt with messy, public recoveries.
He said that seeing me was disheartening because I seemed like an after picture, whereas he felt like he had so much more work to do.
While I recognized that I had come a long way, I knew he formed this conclusion partly because he wasn’t seeing a complete picture. He was seeing confidence and a smile within an isolated moment in time and …
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” -Einstein
Sometimes it’s more effective to track your progress in mistakes than it is to track it with successes.
There are days when I have tons of mini-victories, but they’re all things I have done before and knew I could do well. So while I may feel good about those accomplishments and they may propel me toward my goals, they have a minimal impact in terms of my long-term growth.
There are other days when I do things I’ve never done before, struggle, and in the process identify …
Update: The winners have been chosen! If you didn’t win, you can purchase a copy of The Book of (Even More) Awesome on Amazon.
Last year, I posted a review of The Book of Awesome, by Neil Pasricha—a compilation of blog posts from his wildly popular website, 1000 Awesome Things.
I was so inspired by his ability to recognize simple pleasures where I never even thought to look that I decided to follow suit with a post I titled 50 Peaceful Things.
Neil’s blog has been one of my favorites since he first launched three years back, …
“What we see is mainly what we look for.” -Unknown
Whatever you believe about people and the world, you will likely find proof to support it.
If you look for selfishness, you’ll find it. If you look for animosity you’ll find it. If you look for injustice, you’ll find it. If you’re invested in seeing the world this way, you can probably explain a lot of what you see with negative interpretations.
Conversely, if you look for good intentions, you’ll find them. If you look for loving gestures, you’ll find them. If you look for possibilities, you’ll find them.
“Confidence is preparation. Everything else is beyond your control.” -Richard Kline
People often think confidence means knowing you can create the outcome you desire. To some extent it does, but this idea isn’t universally true for anyone. No matter how talented, smart, or capable you are, you cannot predict or control everything that happens in your life.
Even confident people lose jobs, relationships, and even their health.
Confidence comes from knowing your competence but acknowledging it’s not solely responsible for creating your world. When you take that weight off your shoulders and realize that sometimes the twists and turns have …
“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” -Dalai Lama
I’d be happy if I had a boyfriend. I’d be happy if my boss promoted me. I’d be happy if I had a larger house. It’s not uncommon for people to make these assumptions–to believe happiness exists in some alternate reality where people and conditions are different.
In a way that’s comforting. It absolves you of responsibility, and puts the blame neatly on other people’s shoulders. But it also gives them the power.
You create your own happiness through the choices you make day to day. …
“Peace of mind is not the absence of conflict from life, but the ability to cope with it.” -Unknown
There are some days when I want everything to stop.
I want the calls to stop, the emails to stop, the requests to stop, the expectations to stop, the confrontations to stop, and the struggles to stop. Essentially, I want everything to feel quiet and easy.
Then I realize that if everything stopped, life would be boring, uneventful, and static.
If everything stopped, I wouldn’t have any opportunities to create, grow, learn from other people, or share what I’ve learned with …
Update: The winners have been chosen! If you didn’t win, you can purchase a copy of And I Shall Have Some Peace There: Trading in the Fast Lane for My Own Dirt Road on Amazon.
I recently received a copy of Margaret Roach’sbook And I Shall Have Some Peace There.
I was not previously familiar with Margaret’s wildly popular garden blog, A Way to Garden, but I was fascinated to learn about her transition from editorial director of Martha Stewart Omnimedia to full-time gardener at her country house in upstate New York.
I know a lot of people …
“Some people think it’s holding that makes one strong—sometimes it’s letting go.” -Unknown
Sometimes admitting that something is over can feel like defeat. After all, we hear a lot of messages that tell us to never give up–to hold on and keep fighting at all costs.
But if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll know when it’s time to move on.
You’ll know when a relationship no longer serves you, and you’re just staying because you’re too scared to leave. You’ll know when a job no longer makes you happy, but you’re staying because you think it will be hard to …
“In the long run we get no more than we have been willing to risk giving.” -Sheldon Kopp
Fear tells us to hold on for dear life or else something bad might happen.
Fear tells us to cling to the people we love so that we will not lose them. Fear tells us not to share what we have or else we might not have enough. Fear tells us not to spend any money because we might need what we give up.
Fear is the voice that says, “Don’t let go,” but it’s only when we release and free our …
“If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you’ll never enjoy the sunshine.” -Morris West
Today I watched Finding Nemo, one of my absolute favorite Disney movies. When Dory and Marlin are searching for his lost son Nemo and it seems like they’re doomed to fail, Marlin says, “I promised I’d never let anything happen to him.”
Dory responds, “Hmm. That’s a funny thing to promise. You can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.”
As someone who has often worried about people I love, …
“We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world.” -Helen Keller
This is the kind of statement that I used to find incredibly annoying. I thought it was an overly simplified way of condoning a lot of the hurtful things other people had done. If someone suggested that a hardship was a gift, I assumed they were saying it because they couldn’t relate to my pain.
Then I realized that my stubborn commitment to being right and bitter was causing me just as much pain as I felt other people caused. I …
“Doing your best means never stop trying.” -Unknown
For years, I stressed over the possibility that my best was not good enough. I realized that I couldn’t possibly do better than my best, but as a type-A overachiever, this logic wasn’t sufficient permission to feel proud when I put all my heart into something.
I didn’t want to do my best–I wanted to do the best that anyone could do. I wanted to achieve greatness, as recognized by lots of people. I wanted it to be undeniably true that I was someone worth admiring and respecting.
What I have since …
“A hard fall means a high bounce…if you’re made of the right material.” -Unknown
I recently saw the movie Soul Surfer about Bethany Hamilton, the professional surfer who lost an arm in a shark attack in 2003 when she was just 13 years old. This would be difficult for anyone, but especially someone so young.
Bethany lost 60% of her blood that day, and after turning down a lifelike but non-functional prosthetic arm, soon realized she had to relearn almost everything.
What kept her going was knowing she didn’t lose everything. Lots of things were different, but lots of things …
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” -Plato
Sometimes it can seem like everyone’s out to get you. There’s the person in traffic who refuses to let you into his lane. The customer service representative who rushes you off the phone without helping even a little. The friend who didn’t tell you the whole story, which left you feeling hurt.
We’ve all met these people. We’ve also been these people. We all have days when we’re not as considerate, helpful, or honest as we’d like to be.
Sometimes it’s because we’re rushed. Other times it’s because …
“It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.” -Eckhart Tolle
You might not think to compare beloved children’s writer Dr. Seuss to spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle, but there’s a common message about happiness in both their works: We can only experience joy through action in the now, not by waiting to get it some day, when everything works out and makes sense.
From Seuss’ Oh the Places You Will Go:
The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go …
“It isn’t what happens to us that causes us to suffer; it’s what we say to ourselves about what happens.” -Pema Chodron
We all have stories we tell ourselves about the events in our lives. Many of them are negative: My boyfriend left me because I’m not good enough. I didn’t get that job because people think I’m incompetent. My parents were too hard on me because they don’t really love me.
We often give far more meaning to events than they actually had, allowing them to control us and our actions.
Your stories can either leave you feeling helpless …