“It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.” ~Albert Einstein
My son recently returned home from college with a new demeanor.
He was helpful, considerate, interested in others, and genuinely happy. The change was a far cry from the boy who had left for college just a few short months before.
Don’t get me wrong, he has always been a good kid, but up until now he’s been a typical teenager. He was a bit messy, a bit lazy, and if it wasn’t part of his …
“Gratitude creates joy—not vice versa.” ~Dr. Brené Brown
To be blunt, my summer of 2013 sucked. In a matter of months, a tidal wave of stressful events happened and it completely shattered my sense of safety. I was on the verge of a serious depression.
The summer began with a broken heart. The love of my life, the man I planned to marry, broke up with me and admitted he had wanted to leave for the past year.
In a matter of minutes, my dreams of starting a family and living happily ever after were crushed. It caught me so …
“The grass is always greener where you water it.” ~Unknown
Have you noticed that when we’re unhappy we often spend our time focusing on those very things that are making us unhappy?
My life has had its ups and downs, like anyone, but one of the lowest lows was back when I had a graduate job at a big four accounting firm.
I was completely stuck in a rut: I’d drag myself out of bed in the morning, commute to work, spend the day in an office full of people I didn’t like, doing work I found mind-numbingly boring …
“So, like a forgotten fire, a childhood can always flare up again within us.” ~Gaston Bachelard
I woke up to the sun peeking through the bedroom curtains and I cautiously opened one eye to check if my little brother was still asleep on the other side of our room.
I was excited about the day. The sun was shining and we were meeting up with some family friends for a picnic in the park later that day. All I cared about was we would be having lots of treats at that picnic and the park we were going to had …
“Happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.” ~Chuang Tzu
It all started when one of my boys asked me if I was happy, and of course I answered yes.
Why wouldn’t I be happy? I have a handsome and kind husband, two boys of which I am very proud, I had a successful business, I had a house I loved, I was surrounded by friends, I was a sought after speaker in my community, and blah blah blah.
Then my son asked why I didn’t have fun anymore. I began defending my happiness to him, explaining all the reasons …
“If we could see that everything, even tragedy, is a gift in disguise, we would then find the best way to nourish the soul.” ~Elizabeth Kubler Ross
Sometimes a tragedy can give new energy to life and bring awareness we have been living on autopilot.
I still remember the night like it was yesterday. It was late and my husband and I had just turned off the light when my phone rang. It was my aunt saying my dad pushed his life alert and was transported to the hospital.
I fumbled to find my clothes and hurried to the …
“On a deeper level you are already complete. When you realize that, there is a playful, joyous energy behind what you do.” ~Eckhart Tolle
We have this strange need or conditioning to not take responsibility for our own happiness. We expect it to come from an outside source.
It can happen, but it’s fleeting. True happiness has to come from within.
True happiness comes from a connection to our true being.
Years ago my family and I took our dog to obedience school, and the trainer told us, if we have more than one dog, to never let them share …
“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” ~Henri Nouwen
Once upon a time I was on a relentless hunt for happiness. I’d root around for it in romantic relationships, search for it in visits to exotic locales, and scour self-help sections of bookstores, hoping to run across a volume that, once and for all, would reveal its thorny secrets.
The books I read said happiness couldn’t be found outside of me, but I was always skeptical of that advice. I longed to believe that if I got what I …
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” ~Marianne Williamson
I used to have this secret habit of flipping through the DSM—The Diagnostic Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders—and diagnosing myself with every disorder in the book.
Reading over the criteria for borderline personality disorder, cigarette in hand and eyes wide open, I scanned the diagnosis criteria.
Frantic efforts to avoid abandonment? Check. Unstable and intense interpersonal relationships? Check. Unstable self-image? Check. Impulsivity that’s self-damaging? Check. Suicidal behaviour? Check. Unstable moods? Check. Chronic feelings of emptiness? Check. Inappropriate and intense …
“If you believe it will work out, you’ll see opportunities. If you believe it won’t, you will see obstacles.” ~Wayne Dyer
I sat, exhausted and alone after a long night, on the stairs outside the train station.
It was 3:00AM, and it was raining. I’d been drinking all night and I wanted nothing more than the warmth of my bed.
But my journey home hadn’t even begun. The gates weren’t due to open for another two hours, the wait for the train would be yet another hour, and the ride itself another hour on top of that.
My misery was …
“Your inner knowing is your only true compass.” ~Joy Page
Are you someone who devours self-help books, blogs, and articles?
Do you take pleasure in checking out the latest advice from this “expert” or that “guru”?
Are you someone who puts into play the advice proposed but are still left feeling somewhat unfulfilled afterward?
The Trouble with Self-Help
The trouble with self-help advice is that sometimes it leads us down the path of us not helping ourselves at all. Sometimes we get so caught up in someone else’s vision that we lose sight of our own.
Truth be told, what …
“Happiness is not a goal. It’s a by-product of a life well lived.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
I don’t care what you do or what you become as long as you’re happy. Just be happy.
This has been my mother’s well-intentioned maxim throughout my life. As much as it is an example of her unconditional love, it is also a pretty massive request if you think about it, and something I could not seem to be. Ultimately, I failed because I wasn’t happy.
If she’d wanted me to be a brain surgeon, I could have given it a shot. I’d have known …
“When everything seem to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” ~Henry Ford
We all have this image of how depression looks. It’s a person looking all sullen and grim. Rain is usually involved. It’s dark. It’s cloudy. It’s depressing.
But what about the sunny depression, the one that almost never shows its face in public, the one that looks just… normal.
I’m a naturally happy person. I wake up smiling. I go to bed smiling. I even smile in my sleep, or so I’ve been told. Yet I’ve been depressed, …
“Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.” ~John Wooden
“Why don’t you just take up swimming?” the doctor asked.
I was twenty years old, single-minded in my pursuit of a dance career, visiting yet another doctor about the vicious tendinitis that had forced me to give up my spot at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City.
What the doctor didn’t understand is that dance isn’t just a sporting activity; it’s a way of life, an identity.
Telling a young dancer to “just take up swimming” is about as helpful …
“Sometimes the wrong choices bring us to the right places.” ~Unknown
For most of my life, I’ve seen the world in black and white, and I’ve felt constricted and pained as a result.
When I was a young girl, I believed there were good people and bad people, and I believed I was bad.
When I was an adolescent, I believed there was good food and bad food, and because everything tasty fell into the latter category, I channeled the shame from feeling bad into bulimia.
And when I grew into adulthood, I believed there were good decisions and bad …
“Use your smile to change the world; don’t let the world change your smile.” ~Unknown
For most of us the average day includes a mix of things we both look forward to and things we don’t look forward to. We look forward to coffee in the morning, we regret that we have to go to work; we look forward to coming home at the end of the day, we dislike that we have to do laundry.
But how much of your life are you giving up if you dread, dislike, regret and don’t look forward to, say, 50% of your …
“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.” ~Pema Chodron
I have a confession: I was really scared of trying yoga for the first time.
I know, I know, it’s not exactly bungee jumping or skydiving, activities that warrant a certain amount of fear. In fact, yoga seems downright tame by comparison. But I was still scared nonetheless.
Someone recommended the age-old practice to me to stretch out my perpetually tight hamstrings and strengthen my bad knee. But instead of jumping at the chance to heal my body through gentle, …
“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” ~Anna Quindlen
“Oh, my god,” she said, “I forgot to shave my left leg!”
That may not sound like a particularly dramatic announcement, but Jenny and I were sharing a seat on the chartered bus taking our senior class to the beach for “Senior Cut Day” a few weeks before graduation, and her discovery horrified me.
An unshaved leg, it seemed to me at the time, was scandalous in the extreme.
Had it been me who forgot to …
“It’s not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?” ~Henry David Thoreau
I was slipping deeper into a dark spiral after my fortieth birthday, looking for anything to grab onto and pull myself out of the darkness. Some said I was having a midlife crisis, but I believe it was actually the beginning of an awakening for me. For the sake of argument, I’ll call it a midlife awakening.
This by no means meant that I understood the meaning of life and was all of a sudden enlightened and happy—quite the …