“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” ~Mary Engelbreit
We all know at least one person who we think needs a self-help course or book more than we do. They’re the “wrong” ones, at least in our minds.
I once was in a relationship with a man who seemed to have placed me at the bottom of his priority list. He would always be too busy playing sports or going out with his coworkers to spend time with me.
I found myself modifying my weekend schedule to match …
“If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.” ~Paulo Coelho
When I was born, the nurse lifted me from the bed, placed me on a cold metal operating table, and prepped my umbilical cord to be severed. As my parents put it, I “screamed bloody murder” when she attended to me, then grabbed ahold of the index finger of her latex glove and pulled it clean off.
“You just wouldn’t let go,” my dad recalls, chuckling.
That often-told family tale has risen to consciousness many times during the last few months, especially …
“If you can’t change the circumstances, change your perspective.” ~Unknown
I was the one who was the designated driver in high school and college. I wanted to be in control of how I arrived and left a party. Besides, the taste of alcohol did not please, so it was a win-win situation in my mind.
Then, a decade later, I found myself dating someone who was addicted to drugs. I thought if he could just hang around me, see how I found joy without being altered by substances and bask in my love, then he could stay sober.
In the …
“The intensity of the pain depends on the degree of resistance to the present moment.” ~Eckhart Tolle
The nurse found me slumped behind the soda machine.
“Honey, are you okay?” she asked, brow crinkled in nervous response to my (apparently louder than I’d realized) sobs.
I nodded, answering in messy sniffles. The nurse, not entirely convinced, assured me that if I needed anything, she’d be at the desk just around the corner.
I remained crouched in my not-so-perfect hiding place a while longer, waiting until my breaths no longer shook to trudge back to my mom’s hospital room. The news …
“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have—life itself.” ~Walter Anderson
Some of us experience more adversity and painful events in our lives than others. We wonder why our difficulties don’t happen to the “bad” people out there instead of us. Unfortunately, life is not fair.
Awful things happen. Dreadful circumstances or tragedies will affect most of …
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” ~Cicero
Being grateful or practicing gratitude has many benefits, including improving our health, relationships, careers, sleep, and self-esteem, to name just a few.
In recent years, these benefits have been confirmed in scientific studies showing how the brain is “rewired” by continuous grateful thoughts.
However, I recently discovered (and experienced) another significant, and I believe mainly overlooked, benefit of being grateful—in the somewhat unusual setting of a major seniors championship tennis tournament I played in Palm Springs this past January. I learned that:
“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.” ~Unknown
What if you realized on evening of December 31st, that the past 365 days were the best yet? Imagine a single year in which you scared yourself into your deepest fears and faced more challenges than you ever had from all the previous years combined?
Moving forward, how would you feel about one-upping that year? Overwhelmed? Anxious? Scattered? Yeah, me too.
This was the question that I asked myself on the last evening of 2013 that left me thinking back on distant memories, …
“When we…go back into the past and rake up all the troubles we’ve had, we end up reeling and staggering through life. Stability and peace of mind come by living in the moment.” ~Pam Vredevelt
There is a way in which we tend to view issues in our lives that makes it seem like the issue is a big, scary monster that chases us around everywhere we go.
We have commitment issues. Or we are bad with money. Or we have an eating disorder, we drink too much, or we follow-through too seldom.
We view ourselves and our lives …
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” ~Maya Angelou
When I was eight years old, my mom had her first mental breakdown. The illusion of a typical suburban family shattered as the household descended into chaos. When the counselors and child protective services stepped in, I knew: I was undeniably different.
When you’re a child, family life is the classroom through which you learn how the world works. Once my mom was hospitalized, I realized how very different my lessons were.
Mortified, I retreated into a …
“We first make our habits, then our habits make us.” ~Charles C. Noble
Until recently, I firmly believed that a classic set of toxic habits consisted of nail biting, smoking cigarettes, and abusing alcohol and drugs.
I completely forgot that there are some behavior patterns that can do equally bad damage to our vital and creative energy, claiming control over our lives and holding us back.
Ignorance is bliss, someone once said. I overstayed my welcome in that state of mind more than once. I thought my bad habits were actually making my life easier, and following the path to …
“To thine own self be true.” ~William Shakespeare
No one knows the real you but you. Sometimes it is true that we don’t know ourselves. That’s because we’ve lost ourselves, or maybe because we never knew ourselves to begin with.
I grew up a long time ago on a hill on Bentley road in Puyallup, Washington. I was a very quiet, shy, and reserved little girl. Today, I am a forty-two-year-old woman. I am still introverted, but I am learning to be more assertive.
As a co-dependent people pleaser, I grew up with a lot of self-doubt and …
“Our sorrows and wounds are healed only when we touch them with compassion.” ~Buddha
He had been ignoring the symptoms for months, possibly even a year. When my husband came home from the doctors, he told me his PSA score was high, and he needed to have a biopsy. That date came and went, and we were waiting for the pathology report.
The doctor assured us it was nothing.
The image of standing in the car dealership parking lot, talking with my son and son-in-law will be forever etched in my memory. When the phone rang, I saw that it …
“Fear is inevitable, I have to accept that, but I cannot allow it to paralyze me.” ~Isabel Allende
When you think of a fearless person, you might imagine a real-life James Bond who performs death-defying stunts knowing he could die at any second.
But for most of us living “normal” lives, fear operates at a subconscious level and prevents us from being the best we can be.
For a long time, I struggled with these fears. I could not get myself to speak in front of people without experiencing extreme nervousness. When it came to talking to girls I liked, …
“Suffering is not caused by pain but by resisting pain.” ~Unknown
Pain is everywhere. Whether through heartbreak or a broken bone, we all struggle with unavoidable hurt at some point in our lives. Often, even the suggestion of suffering is enough to send us running for cover.
One of our most basic instincts is to avoid being hurt, and for good reason. The world is full of sharp objects and hot frying pans. While our instinctive wiring is helpful when it comes to cooking, it only contributes to our suffering when applied to the pain of relationships and physical discomfort …
“Genuine forgiveness does not deny anger but faces it head-on.” ~Alice Miller
I was quietly watching a documentary with my wife when the phone rang. An icy voice informed me that I was supposed to be at work at 6:00; it was already 7:00 PM. It was my boss.
Great, that’s all I needed—an unexpected night shift with a resented supervisor.
In my worst mood, I jumped in my pants at quantum speed and then ran toward the train station on the other side of the street.
Although the road seemed clear, a car was approaching and the driver didn’t …
“Never fear shadows. They simply mean there’s a light shining somewhere nearby.” ~Ruth E. Renkel
As an ocean lover, I frequently visit the shore, even during the winter. Encouraged by a day with blue skies and forecasted temperatures above freezing, I hopped in the car and headed for the coast.
The beautiful view of the ocean is the best part of the six-mile walk I intended to do. However, as I neared the coast, I noticed a thickening layer of fog. By the time I parked, the fog had completely blocked my view of the sun and everything at a …
“The heart is like a garden: it can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love. What seeds will you plant there?” ~Jack Kornfield
Comparison is something we all struggle with at one point or another. Although it’s something that conventional self-help wisdom urges us to avoid, it’s also a way of gauging where we fit in the world.
Usually, when we engage in comparison, we do so from an ego-based perspective and find ourselves (or others) lacking. This approach doesn’t benefit anyone involved, but, until recently, this was my predominant experience of comparison.
I also had the belief that healthy …
“Happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.” ~Chuang Tzu
Do you feel, on some level, that your life is hard work? That you need to struggle in order to improve things in your world? Do you feel that you even need to struggle to reach a desired goal, to overcome adversity before achieving something worthy?
Our addiction to struggle is an impediment to us feeling the joy of quiet and the now, the place from which subtle and natural development can occur.
This addiction to struggling—the addiction to striving, always trying to achieve—used to hold me back from experiencing …
“Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.” ~Wayne Dyer
When I was twelve years old I returned from a weekend at my aunt’s house, with my mom, to find my father dead in bed. I remember my mom’s screams causing many of our neighbors to come over to see what had happened.
The experience shut me down. I don’t know how else to put it. My father was young: fifty-three years old. It was a huge shock to everyone.
Apparently, he was too proud to get a pacemaker. He died of a heart …
“Stay away from what might have been and look at what can be.” ~Marsha Petrie Sue
When I look back at some of the most painful moments of my life, I see myself sitting alone, feeling either immense shame or regret.
It’s bizarre how we can get so offended and angry when other people hurt us, and yet repeatedly choose to torture ourselves, far worse than they possibly could, through repeated mental rehashing.
For the longest time, my biggest regret revolved around missing out on life.
From a distance, people always thought I had everything going for me. Up close, …