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How Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone Can Help Reduce Anxiety

“What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” ~Ralph Marston

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an anxious person. My grandfather died when I was four years old and some of my earliest memories consist of panic attacks whenever I was left alone. In my mind, I had to keep my loved ones in sight at all times, so there would be no chance of them disappearing, just as my grandpa did.  

From that point on, I slowly began to overcome my fears of separation from family. However, new anxieties began to take its place. Whether …

6 Ways Your Mind Tries to Control Your Life

“I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Our mind is a funny thing. On the one hand, it’s awesome. But on the other, it can pulverize us more quickly and ruthlessly than anything else.

Our mind is inherently scared. That’s its job, to be cautious—to keep us alive, to have us cross roads safely and not get eaten by a lion. But left unchecked, it can become paralyzed with fear and meaner than a cornered crocodile.

And it’s incredibly bossy.

The mind’s tendency to want to control is so strong …

Identity Crisis: When You Aren’t Sure Who You Are or How You Fit In

“Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be.” ~Alan Watts

In another life, not too long ago, I was an actress.

I fell into acting when a catalogue showed up on my doorstep for UCLA Extension summer classes, and in my boredom I started flipping through it to see what was on offer. For whatever reason (synchronicity? my intuition?), the Acting 101 class jumped out at me, and something in me said yes.

At the time, I was living in West Los Angeles, only a few years out of college after graduating …

6 Lessons from Nature on Living a Peaceful, Fulfilling Life

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” ~Lao Tzu

Five years ago, I was feeling really stressed (like millions of other people in the world). I was working full time in a job that was draining me of every single ounce of energy I had.

I had nothing left to give to myself or those I loved at the end of each working day; life had turned into an incessant cycle of getting up, going to work, coming home, working, and going to bed.

During this time, I read about so many people who were also unhappy with …

Vulnerability Is a Sign of Strength, Not Weakness

“I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” ~Brene Brown

I was raised to be determined. I was raised to put my head down and solider on during tough times, and I was raised to never be vulnerable, because being so meant you were weak.

Whether these were the intended lessons, it’s hard to say, but somewhere deep inside that is how I interpreted the messages from those who had influence in my life.

Throughout most of my life I carried these messages like suits of …

How Accepting Your Circumstances Can Help You Find Something Better

“Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be.” ~Sonia Ricotti

I’m on an old bus in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, where I’m staying on a three-month tourist visa. I look through the window at the streets, dirty beyond belief.

Thick dust in the air mixes with the pollution of exhaust fumes; I see men spitting on pavements and small children with greasy hair roaming the streets in search of people kind enough to give a few coins.

I witness dirty stray dogs that look like they have rabies, mingling in the crowd; …

Finding Your Inner Light to Get Through Dark Times

“I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.” ~Hafiz of Shiraz

One week before my twenty-ninth birthday, the love of my life broke up with me. The pain of it was agonizing, heart-stopping. I could not think. I could not eat. I could not sleep. I could not breathe.

I expressed and released pain, anger, denial, guilt, sadness, and on and on, until I exhausted myself. The bottom had dropped out of my life, and my sense of self was left shattered.

If I could be so

When You’re In Transition: Being Patient and Accepting Uncertainty

“Fear, uncertainty, and discomfort are your compasses toward growth.” ~Celestine Chua

Change is never easy, yet it’s always around us. Sometimes it hits us over the head (if you experience divorce, a career change, a move, or a loss of a loved one). Other times, it’s hiding around the next corner. And most of the time, it’s happening even we don’t even know it.

My father firmly believed in the adage the only constant is change. Myself, however, I avoided change as much as I could because I didn’t want to deal with uncertainty.

After a well-scheduled high school …

Are You Limited by the Fear of What Other People Think?

“It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.” ~Eckhart Tolle

A few months ago, I found myself on the busy streets of London’s Covent Garden.

It was a mild Friday evening in the capital and the masses were out celebrating the end of the working week, looking forward to the weekend ahead.

But that’s not why I was there.

I’d come to Covent Garden on that day for a special project.

For most of my life, the fear of what other people thought of me had kept me trapped. It had prevented me

Burn Away Your Barriers to Love: 7 Ways to Live a Beautiful Life

“Your task is not to seek love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ~Rumi

My grandmother is nearing the end. She’s had a good life, a family, a loving husband, dancing and singing, growing things, running a business.

There are some skeletons in the closet though; her early life had some very heavy experiences that made her afraid and may have held her back. On balance, a great life, but there were challenges.

Right now, she’s slipped into a dream world and she is often still there when her …

Recognizing and Overcoming the Fears That Make Us Settle

“Fear, uncertainty, and discomfort are your compasses towards growth.” ~Celestine Chua

Settling feels awful. Take it from me—for the past few months I’ve been holding the Scepter of Settling in both my personal life and my business.

And it hasn’t felt good.

The other morning, as I sat waiting in LaGuardia Airport to board a plane for a three-day intensive business retreat in North Carolina, I had this sudden, radical a-ha! moment in which pieces of my life, both personal and business, just clicked into place.

Have you ever had that happen to you?

I realized I was settling in …

7 Things to Remember When You Think You’re Not Good Enough

“We can’t hate ourselves into a version of ourselves we can love.” ~Lori Deschene

Sometimes I am really terrible to myself, and I relentlessly compare myself to other people, no matter how many times I read or hear about how good enough or lovable I am.

On an almost daily basis, I meticulously look for evidence that I am a nobody, that I don’t deserve to be loved, or that I’m not living up to my full potential.

There is generally a lot of pressure to “stack up” in our culture. We feel as if there is something …

How to Reduce Stress and Focus More on What Truly Matters

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” ~Socrates

Did you ever wish you could just take off from work and get away from it all?

This past summer I had the opportunity to do just that.

I was wrapping up a twenty-four-year career in the Air Force and had saved up two months of vacation time. So my wife and I decided to visit Rio de Janeiro and live by the beach.

The tropical weather was everything you would expect it to be: sunny, warm, and gorgeous.

But surprisingly, the time off gave me so much more.

Being away from …

5 Questions to Discover Who You Are and What Will Make You Happy

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” ~E.E. Cummings

At twenty-five I was happily married and had a great career, many friends, and lots of money. During that time I also became deeply depressed, was put on medication for anxiety, and entered what would be a very long relationship with psychotherapy.

It was a real struggle for me to understand why I wasn’t happy when I had everything that I thought was important in life. Was I selfish? Were my expectations too high? I honestly couldn’t understand what was missing and …

A Simple, Tiny Exercise to Help You Make a Big Change

“Change is inevitable. Growth is intentional.” ~Glenda Cloud

Growing up, I never had that many friends. The concept of best friends is still foreign to me. For the first seventeen years of my life, I found myself happier alone than in the presence of other people.

I wanted to join them; I just didn’t know how.

In order to protect myself from people I’d rather not mention, I decided to join a karate class. For the first time I belonged to a group that was slowly starting to accept me.

In the months that followed, I began to go out

How to Maintain Healthy Habits and Stop Sabotaging Yourself

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Buddha

About two years go, I felt horrible about myself and where I was in my life: single, struggling to lose weight, miserable in my job (and no clue what to do about it), and unfulfilled in general.

I kept trying to bully myself in order to be the person I wanted to be and have the things I wanted to have.

I kept saying to myself, “I can’t believe you said/ate/did that. There’s something wrong with you” and giving myself strict rules to follow,

Why We Don’t Do What We Want to Do and How to Start

“If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.” ~Unknown

“The truth is,” she said, “if you can’t put fifteen minutes a day into your art, then you’re making an excuse.”

I squirmed in my seat.

It was February 1, 2011, and I was on the phone, interviewing Michele, a professional artist and artist’s mentor, for an online course I created.

Michele was sharing what she tells the artists in her mentorship program who complain of not having enough time to do their art. Her words were intended for her mentees, but …

5 Ways to Seize the Moment and Live Without Regrets

“Accept your past without regret, handle your present with confidence, and face your future without fear.” ~Unknown

Samara is my colleague at work. She is one of the most pleasant ladies I know. She always has a smile and an encouraging word to give.

She really is the kind of woman you want to speak to on the days you feel like life has dealt you a bad hand, because she always has something comforting to say. As we got closer, I confided more and more in her about the challenges I was going through in my life.

I envisioned

Think Before Reacting: How to Use Your Mental Pause Button

“Better than a thousand hollow words is one word that brings peace.” ~Buddha

I used to be the queen of putting my foot in my mouth. I’d say the first thing that came into my head without thinking.

My intentions were always good and I’d never deliberately offend or hurt anyone, but it landed me in trouble more than once.

Being so reactionary also played havoc in my relationships. I was defensive and quick to answer back. I did a lot more talking than listening.

This spread into other areas of my life. I’d put food into my mouth faster …

How to Improve Your Relationships and Make a Kinder World

“If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind.” ~Buddha

I once attended a lecture given by a world-renowned expert on post-traumatic stress disorder. The lecture made two points that I have never forgotten. I call them “brain tricks.”

1. Given a choice, our primitive brain will naturally select for the negative. It’s a survival thing.

2. When in crisis, the part of our brain that conceptualizes time and space goes off line. In other words, our brain increases the urgency of the problem by making us think the crisis will never …