“The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.” ~Socrates
Most of us live the majority of our lives for other people—trying to do what they want us to do, aiming to meet their expectations, and hoping to be seen as we’d like them to see us.
Trying to sway perception is exhausting and oftentimes fruitless because we can never dictate what other people think. We don’t get to control our reputation; we only get to shape our character.
Today, if you find yourself fixating on other people’s perceptions and judgments, …
“The most important things in life are the connections you make with others.” ~Tom Ford
Three years ago I was living in the Bay Area, working for a start-up website as a community and content and manager. Every day, I signed online and wrote for hours about a topic that meant absolutely nothing to me.
I accepted the position because it was a dramatic pay increase from my previous temp and freelance lifestyle, and it afforded me my first solo apartment. I’d held dozens of different jobs in my time as I searched for meaningful work, and I certainly …
“To live is to be willing to die over and over again.” ~Pema Chodron
A lot of times we say we want to expand our world, but without realizing it we attach to the way things are.
We attach to our feelings, relationships, and circumstances, and then fight to hold onto them for dear life. It’s scary to let go of what is and what works, and sometimes even what doesn’t work. Familiar and bearable can be a lot more comforting than the unknown and potentially dissatisfying.
And yet tomorrow is always unknown. No matter how secure we may feel …
“By accepting yourself and being fully what you are, your presence can make others happy.” ~Jane Roberts
I suspect we all want permission to be exactly who we are—to accept ourselves instead of feeling unsure of ourselves, and then somehow find a balance between being and improving.
When we see someone else who appears to do that, despite their weaknesses and flaws, it’s immensely inspiring and gratifying. Why? Because we all want to believe that even if we can be better, there’s nothing wrong with being exactly who we are.
Yet only we can give that feeling to ourselves. No …
“A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.” -Proverb
Tomorrow always seems like a safe bet for action. Then you’ll be ready to get started, or get serious, or get over it, or get on with it. Tomorrow you’ll finally set your plan in motion instead of shaping it into something just right. You’ll take the offer, the plunge, or the road less taken tomorrow, when you feel sure.
Tomorrow can become a moving target while todays pile up and expire.
Sometimes we need to be patient, but oftentimes we use it as an excuse to wait …
“Enthusiasm is the greatest asset in the world. It beats money, power, and influence.” ~Henry Chester
Money can leave you feeling emptier than you were before you had it; it can buy you everything yet give you none of the feelings you hoped it would provide.
Power gives the illusion of control, when in all reality, everyone must come to terms with our universal vulnerability. And influence—well, it might make people follow you, but it doesn’t guarantee you have something worth following.
Enthusiasm, when directed toward something healthy, gives you the power to imagine, create, and enjoy, all rooted …
“We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.” ~Anonymous
Before September 2009, I thought I wanted to run a personal development blog—a place to share the lessons I’ve learned and generally build a community around the idea of teaching people to improve their lives. Then I realized that wasn’t my vision.
There were a couple reasons for that.
I feel the biggest challenge isn’t gaining new information; it’s learning to apply it.
Instead of trying to build authority, I wanted to embrace my humanity—to be both strong and vulnerable, willing to share what I’ve learned …
“The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.” ~Flora Whittemore
Some decisions seem so inconsequential when you make them.
You choose not to go to lunch with your coworkers. You decide against making that call about taking a class. You reconsider your plans to go out with your friends and instead sit alone, in a familiar space, with a familiar level of comfort.
Every small decision affects the next decision you get to make.
If you don’t go to lunch, you might not learn about a new position at your company. If you don’t …
“If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.” ~Jack Dixon
I originally started to write a post offering tons of different New Year’s resolutions and tips to stick to them to create lasting change.
After all, that’s what we bloggers do around the end of the year: share our best practices for improving our lives as December rolls into January; compile well-researched suggestions to change, and do it consistently, despite knowing most people give up on resolutions within weeks of setting them.
Then I realized that didn’t feel authentic to …
“A beautiful thing is never perfect.” ~Proverb
The vintage couch pillows that don’t even slightly match. The homemade scarf that’s a little too long and yet just the right size. The worn T-shirt that looks like trash but holds too much nostalgia to toss. The hand-made card depicting a child’s version of a happy family—not even slightly realistic and yet precise in all the right ways.
Imperfect beauty surrounds us, and without realizing it, we also own it, with our diverse colors, shapes, sizes, and smiles; in our varying tastes, skills, perceptions, and quirks.
All those little things that make …
Sometimes in the name of being good we forget to be good to ourselves. We put so much energy into meeting other people’s needs that we fail to meet our own. And yet that doesn’t change that we have needs; it just pushes us to deny them or to find manipulative ways of getting them met.
For the longest time, I felt certain that good people put everyone else first. They stretch themselves, bend over backward, and even completely exhaust themselves if it means making everyone else happy.
I also thought giving would naturally invite reciprocity. Inevitably, after months of …
“You, yourself, as much as anybody else in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Buddha
In our personal development-focused, life coach-dependent world, it’s all too easy to think you need to change. Not just the things you do, but who you are.
It’s one thing to invite transformation for the sake of growth, improvement, and new possibilities. It’s another thing to feel so dissatisfied with yourself that no amount of change could possibly convince you that you’re worthy and lovable.
This type of intrinsic self-loathing formed the basis of my adolescence and some of my …
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When I was twenty-one years old, I got into a series of car accidents just after getting my license.
The first time, I drove the wrong way down a one-way street. The second time I side-swiped a double-parked car trying to get around it. And the third time, I hit a Channel 7 news van while looking at printed directions in the middle of Big Dig construction madness (not my proudest moment).
In all of those instances, I was …
“Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.” ~Rodin
John Lennon said time you enjoyed wasting was not wasted. The same can be said for time you didn’t enjoy if you decide to find value in the experience of the moment.
It’s easy to do this retroactively—to look back and ascertain that a frustrating moment taught you patience, or a disappointing moment taught you humility. It’s a lot more difficult to ground yourself within a less than ideal moment and decide then to use it wisely; not to remember it wisely later, but actually do something …
“Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.” ~Eckhart Tolle
No amount of strength will change the fact that we are human, and to be human means to hurt. We won’t hurt always, and we don’t have to suffer endlessly, but we will feel emotions all through our lives.
Even if we become really adept at dealing with uncomfortable emotions, we will never completely transcend them. And would we even want to? The ability to feel the darkest of moments gives us the capacity to enjoy the lightest.
So I say lets stop fighting our natural duality. …
“Life is what happens when you are making other plans.” ~John Lennon
There have been times in my life when I believed all my happiness revolved around how busy I was. If I was busy, I was using time wisely. If I was busy, I was proving to myself that I was valuable. If I was busy, I was creating the possibility of a better life in the future. Any threat to my productivity was a threat to my sense of hope.
Being busy didn’t make me feel happy, but it created the illusion that I was somehow …
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ” -William A. Ward
Everyone likes to be appreciated, yet research shows we are collectively quicker to place blame than offer praise. Perhaps it’s because we’re wired to seek solutions to problems, which means we need to recognize things that aren’t working.
But relationships aren’t problems to be solved. They might come with their challenges, but inherently they don’t need fixing. They need nurturing, and it’s our job to do that.
Today make it a point to express all the gratitude you feel, even for …
“You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give.” ~Unknown
There’s something magical about this time of year, and it has nothing to do with the Santas posted like soldiers at various points throughout the globe or the million volts of electricity that light up Main Streets the world over.
I’ve always loved Christmastime because the season inspires people to focus on everything that’s important in life.
The usually harried slow down just a little to stop and smell the mistletoe, while humming along to redundant Christmas songs they secretly enjoy. Fighting relatives …
“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.” -Unknown
There are far more reasons to be happy right now than there are valid excuses to wait for a better day. For starters, things will never be perfect. Just as everything lines up right with work, your relationship may get complicated. Just as you settle into a healthy relationship, your family might feel neglected.
Life is a constant balancing act, and on most days, some things will work in our favor and other things will appear to be lacking. Perhaps true happiness …
“Above all, be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.” ~Hardy D. Jackson
There is a big difference between being there for people and being inauthentic to please people. The irony is that we often do this for people we love thinking it’s what they want. It isn’t. They want our needs to be met, but they can’t know them unless we acknowledge and honor them ourselves.
We are the ones who need to decide who we are and what it means to be true to ourselves; and we’re the …