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5 Secrets to a Happier Today

Photo by Moyan Brenn
Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it everyday. ~Henri Nouwen

“If I’m not fully happy right now in this moment, nothing will ever make me happy.”

The thought struck me as I stood at the kitchen sink scrubbing the dishes. It appeared organically, but it felt like something I already knew, a conclusion I was returning to, not recognizing for the first time.

One of those moments where you say, “Oh yeah, I forgot about that.”

It wasn’t a moment that I should have been happy — one of those milestones in which happiness is actually a requirement, i.e. graduations, weddings, etc.

It was ordinary. I was tackling a mundane task and thinking about what I needed to get done in the next 24 hours.

Yet, in a moment of clarity — one I didn’t muscle into fruition — I recognized that everything I had longed, begged and dreamt about a year ago was there, in my current experience.

How to Live Your Dream

Photo by kris krüg
Sometimes a leap of faith is the only available transportation. ~Margaret Shepherd

The wind kicked up the desert sands behind me as I leaned forward, cautiously looking over the edge. The fissure had no visible bottom. On the other side, just a few feet away, the trees beckoned invitingly, promising water, promising shade.

There was nothing for me to go back to; if I wanted to go forward at all, I was going to have to jump. My heart ached to advance, but my knotted stomach held me back.

What if I can’t jump that far? What if I fall? What if it’s even worse over there on the other side?

OK, perhaps I’m being a little dramatic; I wasn’t literally standing in a desert. Or technically even jumping over anything. But the fear was completely real.

6 Tips to Heal a Broken Heart

Photo by Arif Akhtar
When you protect yourself from pain, be sure you do not protect yourself from love. ~Alah Cohen

Many times in life we are faced with an experience where we pour our heart and soul into a situation and/or relationship only to have our heart broken.

We feel like all of our efforts were in vain, and although we gave our all, we are standing in the midst of the rubble that remains.

Often what happens after such an experience is that we decide that we will never allow ourselves to get hurt like that again, and so we do the smart thing and shut down.

We close off our hearts and are extremely cautious when it comes to love or any situation which requires us to open our heart and soul. We want proof that any venture of the heart is secure and safe.

Tell Your Story & Heal Your Past

Photo by Jonathan Kos-Read
Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. ~Brene Brown

I emigrated halfway across the world to escape my story. That’s how desperate I was.

It was a story of loneliness, rejection and depression. I blamed my country of origin, my family and a run of bad luck.

And instead of facing my story, I ran from it.

But our pasts always catch up to us. And so it wasn’t long before my life in a new country with a great new job resembled much of my life before the emigration.

Not on the outside, but on the inside. I had escaped my physical circumstances only to find that what I really wanted was to do was escape myself.

6 Steps to Accomplish Anything

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Because this business of becoming conscious is ultimately about asking yourself, 'How alive am I willing to be?' ~Anne Lamott

Last year I wrote about a goal-less New Year: Beginning from a place within that allows you to open more in 2013 — to use less fervent goal-seeking willpower and more awareness when placing intentions.

This is a practical piece on how to intentionally move from this place of willingness, once you’re attuned to that inner self.

Eighteen months ago, I couldn’t sit still in meditation for more than a few minutes. I became either anxious and antsy or really sleepy after several minutes of stillness.

Three years ago, I couldn’t imagine life without chicken and fish. My diet was largely comprised of protein, protein, protein — in the form of animals.

Four years ago, I couldn’t run more than 6 miles. Beyond 6 miles felt like the furthest distance.

Five years ago, I was petrified to start my own real estate business. I was comfortable with being an employee, and starting my own business seemed risky.

How to Accept Yourself Fully

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We accept the love we think we deserve. ~Steven Chbosky

I’ve been going through life feeling like a fraud.

Every time a friend expressed awe over my seemingly perfect life, I gulped a big one and prayed they would never realize what my banal day-to-day existence was really like.

When I was in school, at every exam I hoped that this wouldn’t be the first one I would fail miserably, starting a chain reaction of terrible grades, followed by flunking out of school and ending up on the street … or in jail.

3 Lessons on Creating Trust

Photo by EDUARDO IZQUIERDO
Trust is to human relationships what faith is to gospel living. It is the beginning place, the foundation upon which more can be built. Where trust is, love can flourish. ~Barbara Smith

My husband and I have been considering buying a house but knew we had some hurdles that might make it unlikely. We contacted a loan officer who worked with us and gave us a positive opinion. We were absolutely thrilled and started looking at homes.

It turned out, however, that he’d processed some incorrect information and we might not be able to get a loan this year after all.

To say we were bummed out would be an understatement. Both of us tried to see the positive side but couldn’t seem to shake our disappointment.

Neither of us wanted to talk about it, but finally I brought it up.

6 Lessons On Letting Go

Photo by Hannes Caspar
Letting go doesn't mean that you don't care about someone anymore. It's just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself. ~Deborah Reber

All my life, I have relied on goal-setting to achieve results.

Whether it came to school work, or even just taking time to hang out with my friends, I would plan the entire day out on outlook or use one of many goal setting techniques that I had learned.

For example, I would stick a piece of paper on the ceiling of my bedroom with my goals written on it so it would be the first thing I saw when I woke up.

And while all this helped me achieve great results, I noticed that I was always chasing the next big thing or the next goal I set for myself. I noticed that I never felt genuine contentment in my life.

It wasn’t just with goals. When it came to my social life, I cared too much about being popular and tried too hard to maintain a good social image by pleasing people. And I constantly felt like I didn’t know who I was, and I definitely wasn’t happy.

How to Make Your Dream a Reality

Photo by Gala Darling
There are seven days in a week, and Someday isn’t one of them.

To me, these two seemingly innocuous words, “some” and “day,” when put together are the most empty and depressing seven letters in our language.

They are a synonym for “never” and “ain’t going to happen.” They are the lie we tell ourselves for a dream that we will never ever, in our lifetime, accomplish. It is belied in the tone of voice — faithless and empty — this combo of words usually parenthesized by a pair of audible sighs.

Sigh, “Someday I’m going to …” Sigh.

Once again we have deceived and cheated ourselves. Whatever happened to carpe diem? Seize the day? Yesterday I was reminded again of the danger of someday.

5 Life Lessons from World Travel

Photo by HANNES CASPAR
The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page. ~St. Augustine

I’ve spent the last year wandering around the globe and exploring this wondrous thing called life. Through 26 flights, I’ve managed to circle the globe twice and touch five of the seven continents.

The journey led me to scuba diving for a month straight with whale sharks on islands in Thailand to hitchhiking my way through an African country to being paid to make sand castles on the beautiful Australian beaches to almost having a foot amputated in Asia.

It’s been a hell of an experience. I’ve learned more about the world and myself than any book, teacher or person could tell me.

I’m not claiming that this has made me a superior human being. Maybe a bit wiser, but I’m just as much human as you are. I still have trouble putting my own insights into practice.

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