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How to Be in the Moment

Photo by Máté Holdosi
Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday. ~Dale Carnegie

I had been picturing the day for weeks, adjusting to the changing date, trying to avoid the palpable feeling of desperation that sat heavy on my chest when I thought about the long months ahead of us.

It was deployment number two. This one was decidedly more dangerous and carried with it more uncertainty, longer periods without communication and far more anxiety than deployment number one.

Military deployments, and the period leading up to them, are a constant wrestle with time — you dig your heels in, praying for time to creep forward at a snail’s pace, then you wish for the clock to speed through the next seven to 12 months of your life.

It leaves all those involved in a constant state of being out of the moment, thinking of the past and then looking forward to the future.

But while the tendency during this time is to discount the present in favor of the future or the past, it also opens the door to awakening to the now like few circumstances do.

3 Tips for Keeping a Journal

Photo by John O'Nolan
People who keep journals have life twice. ~Jessamyn West

A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend who said she wanted to keep a journal. She’d read that all successful people have that in common. Later on that day I saw an Internet meme that said exactly that. Afterward I realized how many people in my 30 Day Challenge group have wanted to write every day as their challenge.

On and off since I was about fourteen, I’ve been keeping a journal. But it wasn’t until about a year and a half ago I started writing consistently — three pages, every day.

I’ve noticed that not only has my writing improved, but I have way less anxiety and my depression has become a lot less pronounced. It’s become part of my routine for self-care.

Many people struggle to keep a journal and write habitually, but it is pretty simple once you have the hang of it. I’ve found that remembering a few things can help you get into writing every day and I want to share them so you can reap the benefits of journaling.

How to Cope When Little Things Overwhelm You

Photo by 9042004 Duke
It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are the most important. ~Arthur Conan Doyle

I have always been wary of the little things in life. The little things can steal my serenity, rob me of peace of mind and kill my joy.

At the same time, I have been aware of the little things in my life:

  • The smell of freshly brewed coffee
  • The overheard laughter of a stranger
  • A spider web glistening with morning dew

How can I be defeated by little things or more likely, how can I LET little things defeat me? I identify with the concept of Chinese Water Torture as a method of ultimate despair — the premise being that drops of water fall onto the forehead of a restrained individual and ultimately render them insane.

7 Ways to Escape Feeling Overwhelmed

Photo by Steven Ritzer
Remember how far you’ve come, not just how far you have to go. You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be. ~Rick Warren

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed that it felt like a ball and chain locked to your ankle, keeping you down? I know I have.

If you’re imprisoned by overwhelm, it can kill your productivity and steal your happiness. Feeling panicked and stressed affects not only your mental health but your physical health as well.

Here are seven ways I have found that really work to unlock your ball and chain.

5 Tips to Increase Your Emotional IQ

Photo by Phil King
You can’t calm the storm, so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass. ~Timber Hawkeye

Have you ever felt so angry you lashed out and said words you regret? Felt so hurt, you couldn’t talk past the lump in your throat?

So frustrated, you weren’t able to form a coherent sentence? Or tried to communicate something important, and it landed like a dead fish?

I’ve been there. In my teens, I was a tempestuous young woman. Hormones had me flipping from rage to despair in a heartbeat. I sprayed emotions around me like a machine gun sprays bullets.

I couldn’t even talk to my then-boyfriend about anything important without losing control. I frustrated even myself.

So I learned to keep emotions under lock and key. I rarely expressed how I felt, and aimed to just keep the peace and ensure everyone was happy.

Except me.

8 Questions to Feel More Free

Photo by Caroline Sleeper
Maybe the life you’ve always wanted to live is buried underneath everything you own. ~Joshua Becker

As a full-time nanny of four, I typically used the family’s van when picking the kids up. One day, however, I unexpectedly found out that I needed to use my own car.

This wasn’t a problem for me. I just had to put some stuff in the trunk and say my least favorite phrase: “Please excuse the mess.”

As I suspected, the children weren’t thrilled. But at least it gave us something to talk about.

“Wow, your car is, like, rotten!” the six-year-old boy immediately exclaimed.

“Where do I put my feet?” his older sister asked.

I thought surely the next time would be better. They’d be used to it.

How to Succeed Through Acceptance

Photo by Antoine Robiez
Of course there is no formula for success except, perhaps, an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings. ~Arthur Rubinstein

I’ve spent a great deal of my life trying to figure out what I should do next, determining where I stand in relation to those around me, creating a harsh comparison between where I am and where I should be.

In these moments of contemplation, I’ve always found a way to diminish the beauty of where I stand today. What is out there always seems a little brighter, a little more impressive than what already surrounds me.

And this way of thinking and interacting with the world plants the belief that action is king — action is the only way to change and change is the only way from point A to point B.

But what if you’re supposed to stay at point A for a little while?

Find Power in Silence

Photo by Phillipe Put
Silence is a source of great strength. ~Lao Tzu

When I was a kid, my family would take long road trips. We were from the Midwest, so in order to get anywhere the drive was at least six hours. But we were ambitious. Six hours was a weekend trip.

We were more interested in traveling to Detroit (a 13-hour trip) or Seattle (a 22-hour drive). When you pack five people in a car for that long, there are bound to be issues, and one of those was the radio.

Since my father drove most of the time, we were at his mercy when it came to the music. Or more often, I should say, the silence. While we were a musical family, my father would insist on turning off the radio every hour or so, just “to hear myself think,” as he said.

We would whine and complain.

“It’s just so boooooring without anything to listen to,” we’d say.

Fast forward decades later, and I suddenly find myself turning off the stereo at home, while I’m working or driving. This is odd for me — I consider myself an audiophile.

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.

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.

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