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4 Ways to See the World Through New Eyes

Photo by Julia Caesar
If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: Infinite. ~William Blake

Working from home, while convenient, is often times punctuated by bouts of loneliness. To counteract that, I often spend hours working from a local coffee shop frequented by a group of regulars.

Today, sitting in my normal spot, I struck up a conversation with a man working next to me. We spoke in brief detail about our work and the weather and eventually about where we were from.

As a Colorado transplant from New York, he said, in short, that it seemed as if people here tended to be outwardly mean or judgmental without being provoked.

I was slightly surprised by the observation, simply because I had found that there was no way to make such a general statement about a group based solely on their geographical location.

To me, geography determined what hobbies you partake in or even the clothing style you learn toward, but personality traits were determined by something else entirely.

5 Things Kind People Know

Photo by Eric
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. ~Aesop

An elderly woman in Massachusetts made the news last month, and no one even knows her name. The anonymous woman, known as the “layaway angel,” walked into her local toy store and paid off $20,000 worth of merchandise on layaway.

Within minutes, more than 150 customers were told their merchandise was paid for — all because the woman said it would “help her sleep better at night.” She simply wanted to be kind.

The moment I heard this story, I resolved to be more kind myself. Maybe I didn’t have $20,000 to give, but I could at least do something small — one act of kindness a day for a month. So that’s I did.

The journey was easier than I expected and more rewarding than I imagined. It’s one we all should take, and I’m here to share five compelling reasons why you should begin that journey today.

How to Be Patient … Now

Photo by Roel Wijnants
Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet. ~Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Monday came around, and I was bouncing off the walls. I couldn’t get any work done; I was so distracted. I had been waiting for this day for what seemed like ages: My husband would finally be home from a week-long business trip. Yeah, it may be cute, but it also showed me that I am no good at waiting.

Of course, I knew this. And I don’t think I’m the only one. Just look at everyone frustrated in their automobiles when traffic doesn’t move at the speed they want. When I wait for the bus, I rarely sit more than a few moments before I pull out my phone to check the schedule because it’s taking “forever.”

Patience is something that’s been pulling at my heart strings for a while now. “Don’t you think we should get to know each other a little better?” it would ask. For years I’ve stubbornly pretended I couldn’t hear, but it (of course) waited patiently until I was ready.

The Gratitude Guide: 14 Practical Ways to Practice

Photo by Tonglé Dakum
Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough. ~Oprah Winfrey

A few months ago, I was going through one of the hardest times of my life: Within the span of a few weeks, I had to find and move to a new apartment suddenly, suffered a devastating personal loss of a close family member, and was having some serious health problems.

Every day when I woke up, it felt like life was becoming increasingly hectic. I found myself wondering, “When will it end?”

Eventually, after countless hours of kindly giving me a listening ear through all the troubles, my best friend reminded me how important it is to take stock of all the good things I still had in my life. When things became crazy, I’d become too content to focus on how bad things seemed instead.

A Guide to Happiness via Self-Compassion

Photo by Amandine Marque
My mission, should I choose to accept it, is to find peace with exactly who and what I am. To take pride in my thoughts, my appearance, my talents, my flaws, and to stop this incessant worrying that I can’t be loved as I am. ~Anais Nin

You’re a kind person. A loving person. A compassionate person.

To other people.

But you hold yourself to a higher standard.

When you make a mistake, you’re tough on yourself. You judge yourself. You tell yourself you need to do better.

And although part of you thinks you’re doing this to keep yourself honest, perfect and at the high standards the world around you expects, another part of you — a small, delicate, exhausted part — wishes you could just let it go.

How to Handle Your Haters

Photo by Bonita Suraputra
People who urge you to be realistic generally want you to accept their version of reality. ~Unknown

With my multiple streams of income drying up one by one and no light of opportunity on the horizon, I was quickly losing faith in my ability to create a sustainable life as a writer. The long stretches of nothing to do were cementing my career-driven depression, and I was beginning to feel completely disconnected from my purpose.

I was incredibly insecure about my lack of forward movement, so I attempted to avoid conversations that brought up the topic of careers.

Then one day, a family gathering prompted a conversation about a local retail store that was considered to be a great place to work. One well-meaning but somewhat brash family member turned to me and said, “Why don’t you at least try to get a job there?”

I felt as if someone had just pummeled me in the stomach.

How to Reclaim Your Life After Childhood Abuse

Photo by Utomo Hendra Saputra
Editor’s Note

This article deals with child sexual abuse, a difficult issue for most to stomach. Because, as Leslie points out, one in four women and one in seven men have been abused before they are 18, and because so many abused children grow up to seek help from posts like those on TSN, I thought it was important to publish Leslie's article. However, if the subject is triggering, please seek a safe space where you can read this article, ask a trusted friend to read it with you or come back to it when you're feeling more ready.

Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth. ~Buddha

I’m a survivor of child sexual abuse.

But even after decades I still can’t say that completely without shame. That’s the nature of this kind of abuse. Logic tells us we were children. We had no choice.

But the wounds go deep and are so hidden that for me, and many like me, that feeling of shame becomes as much a part of who we are as our eye color. We just learn to live with it.

We survive. But once innocence is lost, it can never return.

I believe many survivors of childhood abuse are drawn to spiritual traditions. Those of us who manage to fight the low self-esteem and the numbing lure of drugs and alcohol still need to make sense of what happened.

How to Be Grateful When You Aren’t Feeling It

Photo by Ryan B.
Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings. ~William Arthur Ward

You want to be grateful for what you have, but if you cut straight to the truth? You aren’t feeling it.

For a lot of people, acknowledging that truth brings with it immediate shame — the shame of knowing that in a world where so many people go homeless or hungry; or are hurt, abandoned, or abused; or are dealing with a serious illness or the death of a loved one, not feeling grateful is very, very bad.

So, we try gratitude on. “Okay,” we say, tossing our hair back and squaring our shoulders. “Let me focus on gratitude. Here I go.”

We think of 10 things to be grateful for, and then … deep breath … it is still there, that subtle and abiding sense of low-grade disappointment or sadness or disconnection from yourself or the world.

It can be the ultimate lose-lose scenario. If you push yourself to feel grateful when you know that it’s not happening on a core level, you feel like a phony. If you aren’t grateful, then …well, you’re ungrateful. No bueno.

31 Promises to Change Your Life

Photo by Lauren Hammond
It doesn’t matter where you are, you are nowhere compared to where you can go. ~Bob Proctor

As a young girl, I learned early that I was different. I heard family members talking; I heard the mean taunts and the comments about my mother. I was constantly compared to a woman I knew nothing about.

Every time I did something wrong or didn’t get something right, I would brace for the barrage of insults and name calling. The most popular one was “You are going to be just like your mother.” No one had to tell me what that meant. I figured that out early when, at four years old, my cousin nicely told me I would never amount to anything.

I promised myself that I would prove everyone wrong. I would become someone. I worked harder in school and most of all, I did all I could to please everyone I came in contact with. I wanted to make everyone like me and not see the side that my family members saw.

How to Be More Confident

Photo by Lauren Hammond
When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun. And when you have fun, you can do amazing things. ~Joe Namath

I was so far outside of my comfort zone it was hard to believe I even had one. I thought just turning up to my first Toastmasters International meeting was the hard bit.

I was wrong. I realized all of the things I had read about being confident and fun around new people was about to be put to the test …

I used to wish I could stroll into a new social situation and feel completely comfortable. I wanted to be able to talk with new people, share my ideas and opinions with an open heart. I wanted my new acquaintances to love my openness, and I wanted to admire them for adding to the momentum of the conversation.

I longed for the day every new interaction would begin like this, and everyone in the room would be drawn to my humor, confidence and insight like magnets. I wanted to leave these new situations filled with excitement because I shared myself openly; I remained true to myself and, most importantly, had fun.

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