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4 Ways to Be Your Own Hero

Photo by Matej Jur?evi?
A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles. ~Christopher Reeve

What makes us love Harry Potter or most action movies? Why do we always cheer for the good guys? Why do we love a good story of challenge, perseverance and triumph?

Why makes these stories timeless?

The story of the hero has not changed for thousands of years. Since ancient times our traditions and culture venerate the myth of the hero on a mission. A hero leaves his or her home, faces challenges, triumphs and usually returns home as a changed man or women.

In 1990 the late American writer and intellectual Joseph Campbell wrote of the hero’s journey — the mythological journey that all men and women go through in life. He believed that the highest purpose in life was to complete this journey like some mythological voyage.

A hero is without shape and beyond time; the human need for heroes transcends all cultures.

One Simple Way to Improve Your Confidence

Photo by Jill Wellington
If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try. ~Seth Godin

During that awkward phase of high school when you are just as confused by what your math teacher says as what your hormones are telling you, my life shifted dramatically by the most dreaded experience for all school age children — I changed schools.

Thanks to the infinite wisdom of the local school board and their new school zoning policy, I was required to change to a new high school as a freshman. The standard adjustment period from elementary to high school was made exponentially more unenjoyable by the fact that my new school had an entirely new social demographic.

I went from the average awkward teenager to one who was so scared of just being looked at as he got off the bus that my entire body would break out in sweat. Forget talking to girls — walking through the halls at recess was difficult enough. All those eyes looking at me!

My family and friends encouraged me to be “more confident. This is perhaps the worst advice you can give to someone who is border-lining on social anxiety disorder.

Your Guide to Fun in 4 Steps

Photo by Ernest Iannelli
Never, ever underestimate the importance of having fun. ~Randy Pausch

A few months back I went to a friend’s birthday party. We grilled, chatted and played board games, among other things. When I returned home, I said to my husband, “I had so much fun tonight!” I was sort of stunned by the fact for days.

What struck me was that I had spent years before going to parties, hanging out with people and spending time on my own without having fun. If I looked back, most of the time I was supposed to be having a good time, I was worrying about something I’d done wrong or how I’d get something done later. It was a rough way to live.

It was when I started my own business that I understood this habit I had. I had no idea how to live in the present moment. And when you’ve just invested your time, energy and cash into a business you don’t know will work, it’s nice to have an outlet. I finally realized I needed to find a few I could lose myself in.

I’m fairly certain I’m not the only one who struggles to have fun in the way we’re meant to — losing yourself in the moment, laughing until your stomach hurts or just feeling so content you haven’t looked at a clock in hours.

I think, sadly, many of us never learn how to do this as children. Our lives may have been filled with chaos or been too rigorously scheduled.

How to Choose Love

Photo by Pech Frantisek
As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others. ~Marianne Williamson

In my mere forty years of experience on this wonderful planet of ours, I have come to realize many important (and not so important) things. For example, I have never really been one to get huge amounts of satisfaction from housework or spending my days at home.

Respect to those who do, it’s just not me. So, once my children were at school, I saw very quickly that a life without a career was not for me. As I love to share experiences and knowledge, I then realized that the world of education was the one I was meant for, and I became a teacher.

All of this is important — it has led me to do what I do, but it is being a mom that has led me to the most profound of realizations. You see, I was telling my children to be confident, to have faith in their decisions, to not let others affect how they think of themselves, when I suddenly recognized that I was guilty of doing the opposite.

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.

5 Tips for Handling Criticism

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When you judge another, you do not define them; you define yourself as someone who needs to judge. ~Wayne Dyer

I wish I had read this statement by Wayne Dyer when I was a teenager. In fact, if I had taped it to my bedroom mirror where I would have seen it every day, it might have sunk in. And maybe I would have done some things very differently.

Some of us are just naturally pleasers. As a kid, I really worked hard to get great grades, because I knew my parents would be pleased. I joined a swim team and took on extra practices, so I could win my events and please my coach and my parents. I was devastated if I received criticism from anyone I loved and/or respected — I had failed somehow.

Enter my first really serious relationship after college: I was wonderfully in love, and we moved in together, ready to build a life together. Gradually, it began to creep in. First, it was meals I prepared — something was always not quite right.

Then it was the clothes I chose or my hairstyle. Pretty soon, it was almost everything I did, no matter how inconsequential. There was always a piece of criticism. And my response? It was the same as when I was growing up — I had failed somehow.

My epiphany came when we went to meet his folks. After a weekend in that house, I realized he was certainly his father’s son. Here was an obviously successful businessman who should have been very happy with his life.

4 Reasons to Be Mindful

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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.

6 Tips for Finding Happiness

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Happiness is really a deep harmonious inner satisfaction and approval. ~Francis Wilshire

As humans, interconnected in more ways than we realize, we place a great deal of pressure on each other to act in a certain way. The belief is that if other people act in a way that better suits us and our needs, it’ll be easier to find peace and happiness.

When I was in high school and entirely consumed by my relationships with my peers, any type of conflict — especially the kind that made me believe someone else was in control — shook me to my core.

So when a ten-year friendship hit rocky ground over a difference in opinion about my boyfriend (something I can’t help but laugh about now), I was devastated. I always wanted others to agree with my actions and decisions, and when they didn’t, I searched for ways to convince them that I was right.

I remember brooding over this particular fight for hours, recounting the details to anyone willing to listen, and impatiently waiting for the apology phone call. I thought, If she just calls and admits she was wrong, I can stop thinking about this and move on. But if she doesn’t, our friendship won’t recover.

3 Ways to Build Your Confidence

Photo by Anastasia R
A great figure or physique is nice, but it's self-confidence that makes someone really sexy. ~Vivica A. Fox

Confidence isn’t something you’re born with. And confidence isn’t something only a small portion of society is blessed with.

Nobody is blessed or born with self-confidence. I’m no exception. I had to earn my self-confidence the way I have to earn respect.

And that fact hasn’t changed. Confidence building is an ongoing task we all have to pursue in all areas of our lives.

It’s easy to look at people like Beyoncé, or whoever you believe radiates confidence, only to feel insecure and inadequate in comparison.

Beyoncé (as well as everybody else) had to build the confidence muscle and exercise it relentlessly to be as confident as she is.

5 Lessons I Learned from Going Broke

Photo by Tristan Duplichain Photography
There are people who are so poor, the only thing they have is money. ~Unknown

Three years ago I quit my job as a brand manager to become a freelance writer. I spent half of the first year travelling.

For the next two years I survived on the small income I made from my fledging freelance writing business, supplemented by savings. It’s been a struggle and things did not take off the way I would have hoped. This year money finally ran out.

It’s been a strange experience – having no money (except the little I make with writing and doing house-sitting on the side). Oddly enough, I’m not as freaked out as I thought I would be.

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