“I am not what happens to me. I choose who I become.” ~Carl Jung
Recently I experienced a big shock, the kind that most of us don’t encounter very often.
I was with a friend when I discovered evidence of a physical disaster near my home. I did not, at that time, know any of the details, nor did I know what kind of impact it might have on my own life.
Now, normally, I am a person who likes, even needs, to process my emotional impact verbally. In other words, I really like to talk things out. (What else …
“It is better to travel well than to arrive.” ~Buddha
I have this thing about road trips. I love them, can’t get enough of them. I could never step on another airplane for as long as I live and be perfectly fine with that—but I love having all the experiences that can only happen on the road.
Like my mom and I sleeping in our car in the parking lot of a closed motel on our way to Sedona, Arizona. We foolishly decided to forego the hotel strip outside of Phoenix and look for something more “quaint”—until, at three in …
“Be present. It is the only thing that matters.” ~Peaceful Warrior
Technology pervades our world. From cell phones and laptops to iPods and digital cameras, the average person owns an arsenal of gadgets that, in many ways, simplify life.
You can increase your productivity, connect with people quickly, and access information instantaneously—while documenting your every move via tweets and photos to upload to Twitpic or Facebook.
Which begs the question: At what point does technology stop enhancing life and start detracting from it?
When you feel tied to your phone and enslaved by your email, can you pull away, …
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” ~Buddha
You experience and create all kinds of different energies that affect how you feel and what you accomplish throughout your day. Some energies are powerful and easily recognizable, while others are more subtle and often only intuitively felt. I believe it is fair to say that everything is, in a sense, energy.
The things you say, the things you think, the things you do—even the things you don’t do—all produce energy that impacts you and the people around …
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it.” -Charles Swindoll
One day everything seems great in your world—maybe not perfect, but overall things are going to plan. And then something happens.
You lose your job, or someone you love, or your home, or maybe even your health.
It isn’t fair. You don’t deserve it. You didn’t see it coming. You didn’t plan for it. You have so many feelings and frustrations you don’t know what to do first, or if you want to do anything at all.
It would be easier to sit around …
“Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.” ~John Allen Paulos
I used to love uncertainty. I wandered my way all around this country with little more than a suitcase and a journal. Committing to anything felt limiting, suffocating even.
One day I realized it wasn’t enlightenment that pushed me to embrace the unknown; it was a paralyzing fear of creating something certain. You can’t disappoint people when you don’t form relationships with them, and you can’t fail when you never start.
One day I decided to do the scariest …
“The only Zen you find on tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there.” ~Robert M. Persig
We live in a fast-paced, achievement-oriented society. At the end of a busy, to-do-list-focused day, we often find ourselves mentally and physically exhausted and uncertain whether we’re actually moving in the right direction in “the pursuit of happiness.”
Perhaps this explains our fascination with all things Zen. It’s become a buzzword in pop culture, branding products that have little to do with peace and enlightenment—and oftentimes, represent ideas that are diametrically opposed.
Zen Dharma Teacher Rev. Lynn “Jnana” Sipe takes an …
“It is easy when we are in prosperity to give advice to the afflicted.” ~Aeschylus
Earlier this year I got some feedback from the ‘tween magazine I wrote for: “It sounds like good advice, but kids probably won’t do any of that.”
In my head it all sounded logical but I didn’t consider whether I’d have taken that advice as a kid. Or now, for that matter.
People do it all the time: look at a situation from a removed, non-emotional place and hurl suggestions that are far easier said than done. And sometimes, just plain unrealistic.
I’ve listed five …
“It’s really important to be able to receive love and receive compassion. It is as important as being able to give it.” ~Pema Chodron
Yesterday morning two of the correspondents on the news in Boston (where I’m home for the holidays) had an interesting conversation about the classic It’s a Wonderful Life.
One of them said he’s not a big fan of the movie, which instilled a sense of complete outrage in me.
How dare he take George Bailey’s name in vain! It’s such an inspirational film! From saving Harry’s life to finding Zuzu’s petals, every scene gets my …
“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” ~Dalai Lama
It’s a well-known fact that the holidays bring on the blues. According to the National Mental Health Association, reasons for feeling blue around the holidays range from fatigue to financial limitations to tensions in personal relationships.
As for me, I’m generally a happy person. I don’t dwell on things I can’t control, I have realistic expectations, I’ve learned overtime that trying to change people is futile, and I’ve even come to appreciate some of my flaws.
But sometimes, melancholy finds me. Like a thick fog …
“Give yourself permission to immediately walk away from anything that gives you bad vibes. There is no need to explain or make sense of it. Just trust what you feel.” ~Unknown
Last year I graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a major in Communication Studies and a minor in Business Writing.
During my college career I created public relations material for both my Business Writing minor and the public relations firm where I interned. As I thoroughly enjoyed my minor and the internship, I decided to apply to more PR positions.
About a month into the job search, I was …
When I first sat down to write this piece for 5 Rules for Life, I wrote “Live without rules” five times, each followed by a reason to keep your approach to life flexible.
The way you live is largely a reflection of where you’ve been, who you’ve been, and the beliefs you’ve formed. Who am I to create a cookie-cutter hard-and-fast code that makes sense for everyone?
That’s when I realized I’d need to make a sixth rule to introduce these ideas: judge my words, and anyone else’s, against your own reason and moral code.
Buddha said, “Believe …
“We must never assume that which is incapable of proof.” ~Unknown
You can never truly know someone else’s intentions.
If a coworker offers to cover your shift, she may be trying to ease your stress—or she could be vying for your job. If your sister-in-law offers to pay for your meal, she may want to help you out during tough times—of she could be trying to remind you that you’re inferior.
You can always find a negative assumption that allows you to believe the worst in people. Or you can give that person the benefit of the doubt and believe …
“Be what you are. This is the first step toward becoming better than you are.” ~Julius Charles Hare
I admit, I have a beautiful life. I don’t mean to brag, but I love the life I have and there is no other life I’d rather live. This wasn’t always my truth.
Many years ago, I didn’t think I would one day have a beautiful life. I had a terrible attitude, a soul-sucking job that I occasionally enjoyed, superficially at best, and I pursued things that would always leave me feeling empty. It took me a long time and a lot …
“The biggest problem for humanity, not only on a global level, but even for individuals, is misunderstanding.” ~Rinpoche
Someone cuts you off in traffic.
What a jerk!
A date stands you up.
She obviously doesn’t like you.
Your colleague gives you a dirty look across the room.
Your last email must have really pissed him off!
In so many places in our lives, we see a behavior and automatically make a meaning out of it. Everything from a glance to an email gets snappily run through our minds and attached to a reaction or feeling.
Part of this is biological. …
“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.” ~Unknown
Even though I couldn’t possibly care less about oil-based raincoats, I listened to him talk for about fifteen minutes one rainy morning last week.
This little guy, with his colorful button-down shirt and funny-looking hat makes my day most mornings. He works at the 7-11 where I get my coffee. And he always seems happy.
At first I thought he was just putting on a good face, making the best of a tough situation. After all, he couldn’t possibly enjoy working at …
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” ~Dr. Seuss
As children we’re taught to just say no, and we do it with abandon.
Want to come inside and get ready for dinner? No! Want to shut off the TV and go grocery shopping? No! Want to wear the glittery holiday sweater grandma bought you last year? You know where this is going.
Then we get older and learn about etiquette. We get that sometimes we need to do things that we don’t want to. We understand …
“Knowledge is learning something new every day. Wisdom is letting go of something every day” ~Zen Saying
Simplicity, at its heart, comes down to eliminating the excess in our lives.
Excess needs, wants, possessions. The list goes on.
Society tries to sell us on the idea that having more in our lives should be the goal and is the answer. But is more really improving the quality of our lives?
Do more possessions beyond a certain point really add value to our lives?
Do more commitments in our diaries really help us feel less stressed and rushed?
Does always wanting …
“Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” ~William Shakespeare
Research indicates lottery winners are no happier than people who didn’t win, and in many cases, become depressed in the years following their win.
Scientists have surmised that we all have a baseline level of happiness—a range of joy we’ll stay within regardless of our external circumstances. The greatest factor in determining this joy is our mental attitude.
If you’d like to alter your baseline, instead of trying to change your circumstances, change the way you interpret them.
It sounds much easier said than done because it …