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Feeling Misunderstood? These 3 Things Can Help

Photo by Tristan Duplichain Photography & Design
Everyone has a side to them that's kind of unexplained and feels misunderstood. ~Kirk Hammett

I have felt misunderstood, and for a large part of my life.

I am a very social person and I can get along with most people. People, who know me well, would not describe me as an introvert but I do feel I have an introverted side to me.

I find the world incredibly noisy, and I often struggle to understand my part in the grand scheme of life.

I have always questioned things and still spend much of my time thinking about different aspects of life, what everything means and how it all fits together.

I think a lot, and I think logically, so I find myself grappling with the meaning of life daily, which can be extremely frustrating.

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.

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.

3 Things to Remember When You Want to Give Up

Photo by Leo Rey
Hope begins in the dark — the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work; you don’t give up. ~Anne Lamott

My friend and I ran along the sidewalk, side by side, our warm breath filling the cold December air. We hoped to cover more miles than usual as we trained for a longer race.

Rounding the corner to our least favorite hill, we routinely stopped talking, knowing we would pick up the conversation at the top just like we had done for years.

As we leaned into our steps, a man drove past us, leaned on his horn and gave us the finger for no reason. I caught a glimpse of his angry face as he sped by and wondered why he was so mad at us.

My friend turned towards the speeding car, her arms lifted in exasperation, and said, “Really?????”

We stood there staring at each other and wondered aloud what just happened. We both felt deflated and decided to walk up the rest of the hill. So much for the longer run.

How to Find Your Life’s Purpose Today

Photo by Daniel Zedda
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Countless self-help gurus urge people to find their purpose, to lead a purpose-driven life, to be purposeful about their choices.

The thinking goes like this: If you’re feeling a pervasive sense of un-fulfillment and lack — perhaps sprinkled with varying degrees of anxiety or sadness or anger — then you’re probably lacking your purpose. Find your purpose, the enlightened people say, and all else in life clicks into place.

Roger that. It’s a logical thread to follow.

There’s just one problem: Trying to find your life purpose causes a lot of people more stress and anxiety. It throws life wildly out of balance. It creates striving. Until that holy grail of Here’s my life purpose is found, life can feel perpetually lacking.

Start Living Your Best Life: A Personal Story

Photo by Eric
The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows. ~Buddha

After I graduated from college and started earning a decent paycheck, I spent a fair amount of time flipping through glossy home decorating magazines and meandering through home furnishing stores.

I was “setting up house” for real for the first time in my life. It seemed very important that I get the décor exactly right because it would make an important declaration to the world about my personality and lifestyle.

But choosing just the right style was hard — because I didn’t have my own style yet. Well, no … I knew I must have one. I just had to figure out what it was.

4 Tips for Being Yourself

Photo by Alba Soler
Let go of who you think you should be and embrace who you are. ~Brené Brown

Do you ever fear that who you are isn’t enough — you put on a mask and become someone you’re not to avoid rejection?

This has been me for most of my life. From a young age I never felt as though I was good enough. Growing up as an introvert surrounded by extroverts was what first got me questioning myself.

Everyone seemed to love the opposite of what I was. I felt unloved, and I became ashamed of myself.

This was the beginning of many years of self-destruction. I so desperately wanted to be accepted and loved by others. I did whatever it took to be what I thought people wanted to see. Even if it wasn’t in line with who I was and what I truly valued.

I hid behind a mask. I pretended to be someone I wasn’t. It was my protection from allowing people to get to know the real me so I could avoid rejection. This is how I lived for 23 years.

Are You Afraid to Let Go of Your Struggle?

Photo by AP Photographie
Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow. It only saps today of its joy. ~Leo Buscaglia

My mother, a woman who is steadfastly spiritual and always looking for a way to move into greater understanding of herself and others, recently attended a meeting for our church where she serves as a prayer practitioner.

Each of the participants were recounting the issues they were working through, some rooted in relationships, others in careers.

When it was my mom’s turn to share, she expressed that she felt beaten down by the financial trouble that was on the horizon once again after recent layoffs left both her and my dad without jobs.

One of the women turned to her and simply said, “Are you ready to let go of the struggle?”

Her first instinct was to say, “Yes, of course. Who wants to struggle?” But as she sat with the idea, she noticed the pattern, the strings of attachment and the payoff of being in a constant state of upheaval, worry and uncertainty.

How to Find Compassion

Photo by Vladimir Fedotov
Compassion brings us to a stop, and for a moment we rise above ourselves. ~Mason Cooley

I was on my way home after purchasing a lavender-scented candle to help kick start a relaxing atmosphere I desperately needed to wind down from a terrible and emotionally draining week at work. I was rummaging for my keys in my purse for what seemed like forever.

Oh no! Are you kidding me? I didn’t have my keys!

I could see my keys right now in my mind’s eye. There they were, resting on the table by the side of the door. That morning my boyfriend locked the door as we headed off to work, while I unknowingly left my keys at home.

The thing was that he just got on a bus to meet up with a friend on the other side of town.

I couldn’t help but laugh miserably at myself. What a fitting ending to a horrible week.

5 Ways to Stop Worrying

Photo by Jonathan Kos-Read
Behind all this, some great happiness is hiding. ~Yehuda Amichai

I woke up excited about the day ahead. It was a year after I’d left my job and a promising new way of life was taking shape.

I wrote for an hour at my big wooden desk in the morning light. With rich Castro coffee and a cat curled near my feet, I felt expansive and loved.

The promise of breakfast wafted through the house as I headed for the shower. In the shower, an idea for a fun blog post series came to me, and I found myself singing an ABBA tune.

But then it hit me. 

This is not normal. This can’t be right. Mama mia! I’ve been happy for too long this morning.

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