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40 Ways to Give Yourself a Break

“Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend.” ~Lao Tzu

It’s common among overachiever types: We like to push ourselves.

Sometimes it’s to get from A to B. Sometimes it’s to create the illusion of change when really, you’re just spinning your wheels. Sometimes it’s simply to avoid standing still and accepting the moment as it is.

All that pushing can feel so smart and productive—until you’re exhausted, overextended, overwhelmed, or otherwise ready to snap. I’ve felt all these things before.

There are days when I try to be everything to everyone and …

Finding Joy in Your Car and Kicking Road Rage to the Curb

“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.” ~Keri Russell

I’m a positive, happy kind of girl. I smile a lot and try to make people smile wherever I go.

But I have a confession I have to make: I used to have crazy road rage. I turned into the spawn of Satan as soon as I got behind the wheel of my car. I can’t explain it. I don’t know why it happened. It just did.

I didn’t go crazy and tailgate or rest on my horn or even flip the bird to other drivers. Nope, …

52 Ways to Tell Someone You Love and Appreciate Them

“The most important thing in this world is to learn to give out love and let it come in.” ~Morrie Schwartz

As a child, I never heard the phrase “I love you.” Now, I hear people say it all the time—at the end of phone calls and whenever parting ways.

When I moved away from my hometown of Adelaide, South Australia, twenty years ago, I noticed how much less I felt loved interstate in Melbourne, Victoria. Even though I didn’t hear “I love you” when I was in Adelaide, somehow I knew people cared.

Soon after I arrived here, I …

Getting Real in a World of Fake

“Nobody wants to be lonely. Everybody wants to belong to a group. The crowd is essential for the false self to exist. The moment it is lonely you start freaking out. Particularly in the West they have not discovered a methodology to uncover the real. To be an individual is the greatest courage. It does not matter that the whole world is against me. What matters is that my experience is valid. Don’t die before realizing your authentic self.” ~ Osho

Authenticity. Courage. Vulnerability. We hear these words so often they’ve become a part of our daily language. But how …

A Letter to a Kindergartener: 7 Lessons for a Life Well-Lived

“Great is the human who has not lost his childlike heart.” ~Mencius

I have an amazing sister who is currently in kindergarten. I wrote her a letter summarizing everything I’d like her to know as she goes through life. It occurred to me that these lessons are things we could all stand to remember, so I’ve decided to share it here.

Dear Natasha,

Times are hectic now. It won’t be long until I leave home and move to a magical place we seniors call “college.”

I have one semester left to learn from amazing teachers, one season left to wrestle …

Keeping Your Word and Showing Up in Your Relationships

“The simplest deed is better than the greatest intention.” ~John Burroughs

In former times, a person’s word was his “bond.”

In fact, major business deals were transacted and solidified with a simple promise and a firm handshake. It was that basic.

Court cases were reserved for hardened criminals, not contractual breaches. And trust? It was as much of a commodity as stocks and bonds.

I miss those days.

Based upon a number of personal and professional interactions over the last couple of years, it seems that not enough folks consider their word as binding, particularly when it comes to friends …

6 Exercises from Positive Psychology to Boost Your Happiness

“The secret of happiness is to count your blessings while others are adding up their troubles.” ~William Penn

A friend recently asked me, “What’s the worst habit you’ve overcome?”

“Besides eating chocolate for breakfast?” I joked. “That would be complaining.”

I used to be an incessant complainer. Whining was practically in my DNA. When I was growing up, my father blamed the weather for his tennis elbow, the traffic, and his subpar golf game, and he frequently formed judgments and assumptions about other people.

If we drove by a neighbor’s nicely manicured lawn, he’d whisper that the house was bought …

Forgiving and Refusing to Let Bad Things Change Us

“Humbleness, forgiveness, clarity and love are the dynamics of freedom. They are the foundations of authentic power.” ~Gary Zukav

It was a little after 9:00 PM when my mother’s next-door neighbor called upset, hysterical even. Within seconds of hearing her voice, I knew something wasn’t right.

I was getting one of those calls that everyone dreads. Deep breath. She said that my mother had been brutally attacked and had been taken to the hospital.

Breathe Leslie.

“What happened?” I asked in my calmest voice, trying hard to listen and not react. “Where is she? What hospital?”

A family friend had

Let Go of Past Mistakes: 6 Steps To Forgiving Yourself

“At any given moment, you have the power to say: This is not how the story is going to end.” ~ Christine Mason Miller 

Sometimes you do or say things you regret. If you’ve experienced this recently, you might be struggling to forgive yourself, especially if your actions hurt someone you love.

A few months ago, I had a falling out with a friend. It happened like most misunderstandings do: swiftly and unexpectedly. I barely had time to comprehend what was happening.

My friend was trying to convince me to join him in a business venture, which I politely tried …

What You Think You Want Might Not Be What You Need

“The more you love your decisions, the less you need others to love them.” ~Unknown

I got on that twelve-hour flight thinking I was ready. Yet during the travel from my house to the airport to Belgium, my feelings were suspiciously neutral.

I neither hated where I was nor felt strong emotional attachment. Less than two weeks later, those emotions came out, full force. Ten days into graduate school in Belgium, I realized that this wasn’t what I wanted.

Everyone told me to stay, to tough it out. I didn’t realize then that their advice was for them—that my …

4 Questions to Ask Yourself to Create a Truly Rich and Meaningful Life

“Don’t miss all the beautiful colors of the rainbow looking for that pot of gold.” ~Unknown

It’s frustrating, isn’t it?

Stumbling through life without a clear sense of direction. Wondering day after day if it’s ever going to get better.

After all, perpetual joy and a meaningful life are only for the rich and famous. The idea of fulfilment seems so far-fetched given the mundaneness of an ordinary day.

But you know that anything is possible, right?

Could it be that with a little thought, the day will come when you’ll enjoy the colors of the rainbow, regardless of whether …

Create a Kinder World: What to Do Instead of Judging

“When you judge another, you do not define them. You define yourself.” ~Wayne Dyer

I’ve always been judgmental. I will judge someone else’s buying habits, looks, grammar, or political beliefs and get some perverse pleasure in it. It’s very painful for me to admit that.

You see, I strive to be kind and compassionate toward myself and toward others. That’s why I have turned much of my personal development focus this year to letting go of judgments.

When I first started seeing a therapist, in college, we spent quite a bit of time talking about a particular family member …

Forming Positive Relationships: Two Simple Strategies to Meet New People

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~Maya Angelou

We all want to be around people who make us feel lighter and happy. We love seeing and interacting with people who brighten our days.

So, why is it that so many of us spend our days with people who don’t lift us up, people who don’t inspire us, and in some cases, people who tear us down?

It’s tough to remove these kinds of people from our lives, especially if we see …

5 Beliefs About Happiness That Make Us Unhappy

“There is only one cause of unhappiness: the false beliefs you have in your head, beliefs so widespread, so commonly held, that it never occurs to you to question them.” ~Anthony de Mello

Do you believe in soul mates?

I did. I also believed that the only way to be blissfully happy was to be with mine.

At a New Year party, I finally found her. As we chatted and danced through the evening, we fell in love. It seemed perfect.

Life, however, had other plans. Soon after, she moved to another city. I never saw her again but continued …

9 Mostly Free Ways to Spark Creativity and Fun

“People want to be creatively satisfied, and having fun is such an important part of that.” ~John Lasseter

I stopped having fun when my mother was diagnosed with dementia.

I didn’t have time for fun because I had to spend every spare moment thinking about Mom, wondering how I could help her, talking to my dad, wondering how I could help him, and worrying about the future, including fretting over whether I, too, was losing my mind.

Then one day, I asked my mother what it was like, living in such confusion.

“I can’t worry over it too much,” she …

Engaging in the Moment Instead of Wanting to Be Somewhere Else

“Happiness is enjoying the moment for what it is, not what it could be or should be.” ~Unknown

Many of us have been there…

The alarm goes off. In anger, we strike the wretched machine in hopes of getting a few more precious minutes of beauty sleep.

It’s Monday again. The weekend is over and it will be another five days—120 hours, 7,200 minutes, 432,000 seconds—until we throw up our hands again in triumph and say, “Thank goodness it’s Friday!”

We’ve often committed ourselves to the lie that Monday must be terrible. In the U.S., the very idea of hating

Stop Feeling Frazzled: A Powerful Guide to Reducing Stress (and a Giveaway!)

Update – The winners for this giveaway have been chosen:

In my high school yearbook’s class prophecy, it was predicted that I would one day write and star in a one-woman show about my life called “Stress.”

I was chronically frazzled—in a constant state of panic about everything I had to do and had already done but may not have done well enough.

I overextended myself, took very little time to nurture my emotional and mental well-being, and frequently felt like I was about to snap.

In fact, I even broke a stress ball once from excessive …

10 Things Everyone Should Learn as a Kid

“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other wings.” ~Johann Wolfang von Goethe

In 2010 two major life events marked my life forever: my father lost his battle with melanoma and I become a mother.

Both events came unexpectedly. My father was only fifty-six years old and had never been sick for one day of his entire life. Also, I had other plans at the time, focusing heavily on my career, so I did not want to have a baby just yet.

But life is what actually happens …

Why Experiences Trump Things and Bring Us Closer

“Every experience, good or bad, is a priceless collector’s item.” ~Isaac Marion

Last year was a thrilling one for my sweet boys, ages eight and eleven. Thanks to birthdays, Diwali, and Christmas, they were fortunate enough to receive most of the things they’d been begging for throughout the year.

As we sat on our couch on New Year’s day, I asked them what their best memories were from 2014. Surely, I thought, they would rattle off the highly anticipated iPod touch or the Giants jersey that topped their wish lists.

But much to my surprise (and my joy), my younger …

Life Changes When We Change

“We can let circumstances rule us, or we can take charge and rule our lives from within.” ~Earl Nightingale

Last Christmas, I was jobless.

With piling bills and debts, I was trying to switch from a freelancer to a full-time employee. I had been job hunting for weeks, with zero results. I started wondering why. I was qualified, I had a great resume, and I was willing to work hard. So why did I feel so helpless, like the reins were in someone else’s hands?

I didn’t like the feeling, but I couldn’t see how I could take control. …