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3 Ways to Declutter Your Mind

Photo by Shelby U
What a liberation to realize that the “voice in my head” is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that. ~Eckhart Tolle

We all lead busy lives. In today’s world, it’s as if it’s a badge of honor. Always rushing to the next thing. Working late to meet that deadline to please a boss or client. Driving from one kid’s soccer practice to the other.

With all of the busyness that fills our days, weeks and months, our mental space begins to fill simultaneously. Internal thinking begins to pile high collecting dust. Stress and anxiety begin to form, ultimately, transcending into our outer world. Our days become even busier with stress and anxiety layered on top.

This is especially true during times of personal struggle. Our mental space becomes so cluttered with thoughts of reality, sprinkled in with fictitious inner-ramblings that we often find it hard to decipher between the two.

When my wife and I decided to sell our business of three years, it put us in a not-so-desirable position financially. As we found ourselves struggling, I, without even knowing, handed the keys of my outer world to my inner world’s chattering ego.

How Being Wrong is Part of Success

Photo by Nissor Abdourazakov
Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. ~Winston Churchill

Before I moved from Minneapolis to New York City in 2006, I worked in the prepress production department of a family-owned advertising agency that is consistently listed as one of the best places to work in Minneapolis, for good reason. (OK, I will spill: It’s Periscope.)

We had a saying there that I still refer to whenever I need it (which is often): “It’s okaaaayyyy to be wrong!” When someone discovered that she had made a mistake, she would raise her hand in the air and say, “I was wrong; it’s okay to be wrong.”

There was no blame. There was no asking whose fault it was and firing them or making them feel bad. It was a culture of acceptance of mistakes.

This allowed us to learn from them and improve.

We talked about our mistakes — what they were, how they happened and how we could avoid making them in the future. We talked about how we could do better, and because we treated them as a learning opportunity instead of a shameful failure, our mistakes led to better work.

This has been a tough thing for me to learn.

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.

4 Tips to Develop Your Intuition

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The only real valuable thing is intuition. ~Albert Einstein

When I was a child I would hear a soft slow voice inside me, whispering dreams and ideas, telling me possible problems I could encounter and solutions to issues I was facing.

The problem was that it scared the daylights out of me. I would shake my head, trying to get the voice to stop. I’d wonder what on earth was wrong with me. I didn’t tell a soul, for fear that I’d be seen as crazy, or worse, possessed by some demon I could not control.

I successfully suppressed this voice, but as I got older, I began to reap what I had sown. I didn’t realize that years of ignoring and shaming the voice inside me would lead to unhappiness: divorce, alcohol abuse and all the meaningless relationships that come with that sort of lifestyle.

It wasn’t until I felt completely alone, depressed and untouchable that I started to pay attention to that voice again. It came back to me in little ways. I noticed it was much easier to hear when I did certain things, like exercise or write. So I started to do those things more often.

After more than seven years of intentional work to be more in tune with my intuition, I trust myself. I feel like I am able to make choices that best suit my life. I even can hear when I need to make an unpopular choice, bring up an uncomfortable topic or just walk away from a situation, regardless of how weird it might seem.

8 Tips to Start Living Your Dream

Photo by Eli DeFaria
It is never too late to be what you might have been. ~George Eliot

We all had dreams while growing up. We all thought we could do anything then. We all wanted to be firemen, policemen, teachers, Superman and so on and so on. Ask any young child, and they would light up when they told you what they would like to be – they truly believe they can do anything. We all agree with them, and make them believe it.

We also had those dreams when we were kids, but somehow we lost them along the way. What happened to us as we grew into adulthood? Where did our dreams go? Why aren’t we doing all the great things we thought we could do as children?

When did we lose the fire in our eyes?

I was that child who thought I could do anything, but when life stepped in all that changed. I knew I wanted to become a writer, but I was told that was not and could never be a career. I was constantly told to follow in my cousin’s footsteps.

How to Handle Difficult Relationships

Photo by Jimmy Álvarez
Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment. ~Eckhart Tolle

A few years ago, after months of turmoil and a constant tug of war spurred by different morals and beliefs, I walked away from a 10-year friendship. Looking back now I am completely at peace with the decision, but at the time, I was hurt, confused and angry at the turn of events that had brought us to that place.

When things had begun their steady downhill tumble, I pulled her aside and voiced my concerns, convinced she would change and I would once again be comfortable participating in the relationship.

In my eyes everything depended on her changing. Instead, the behavior continued and I began slowly backing away, telling everyone around me, “I just don’t understand why she’s doing this to me.”

The more I played into the truth of that one statement, the more I felt betrayed and completely out of control. By that time, the only choice I had was to remove myself from the situation and attempt to return to a place of balance and peace.

While I’ve had few situations since that time that have completely knocked me off balance, I read something the other day that, even now, was able to shed light on what might have been going on in my life at that time to bring such intense conflict into my experience.

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.

4 Ways to Keep the Faith

Photo by Elisabetta Lugari
Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. ~Eckhart Tolle

The past few weeks, spurred by anxiety that sits heavy on my chest, I’ve been exerting all of my energy going against the flow of life. I’ve been operating from a mindset that says if I try a little harder, if I take control a little more, than things can be how they are meant to be.

Long distance relationships — i.e. overseas in a combat zone — are nothing new to me. I endured two deployments in the four years I spent as a military girlfriend and another two deployments when my boyfriend went back overseas as a private contractor.

As a veteran returning to a tough job market with skills geared towards operating in a combat zone, the move to overseas contracting was logical, although not much easier.

Two deployments in, he returned home with the goal of finding work that would allow him to stay in the United States. Four months later, any hope we had in that plan dried up. Jobs just weren’t all that easy to come by.

As he broke the news that another deployment might be his only option, my heart buckled. All the faith I had that things would pan out, that we wouldn’t have to go through this again, flew out the window.

4 Reasons to Be Mindful

Photo by 873770
With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment. ~Nhat Hanh

I believe that mindfulness has the power to change the world. I really do.

I think it’s something that should be taught in every school. Workplaces should encourage workers to be mindful in every day of their lives. All our world leaders should be people who are mindful. Political and business decisions should be made in a state of mindfulness.

I really do believe it can right the wrongs we commit against one another, create an infinitely more peaceful and co-existent world, and bring each and every person on the planet joyfulness, wonder and fulfillment.

I feel so strongly about this because I can honestly say that being mindful and more aware of all that goes on around me, inside and out, has changed my life infinitely for the better.

Before I found mindfulness I was very confused and angry, very depressed and anxious, and in general rarely ever able to get the joy out of life. I took the thoughts in my head to be who I was, and so all my negative thinking made for so much trouble in my life.

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