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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.

4 Ways to Stop Procrastinating

Photo by Susanne Nilsson
Procrastination is opportunity's assassin. ~Victor Kiam

After a nice walk on a Saturday, my friend told me she had some housework to do and was weighing her options.

“I really don’t want to do it now, but if I wait until Sunday night, it’ll put a damper on my whole weekend. It’s like I won’t really enjoy anything until it’s done.”

Boy, could I relate. I had been the world’s worst procrastinator in high school, somehow managing to pull off amazing feats of academic strength with all-nighters, but that all changed after an incident in college.

I stayed up late into the night finishing a paper and had to drive to class to hand it in. (Oh the days when professors wouldn’t accept email files!) On my way back, I was exiting off the freeway and a cyclist ran a red light in front of me. I was so exhausted I didn’t notice him right away.

3 Ways to Know What You Want

Photo by Kurt Budiarto
If you don't know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else. ~Lawrence J. Peter

I was riding in a taxi cab with a few coworkers years ago after a long day working a convention when I said something I thought was basic knowledge.

“You’ve got to know what you want in life,” I said matter-of-factly. “I think the reason so many people are unhappy is because they’re busy chasing things they don’t even want.”

One of my coworkers laughed and called me a guru. I took the compliment. But she also said this:

“If that’s our problem, then fixing it should be easy, right? We just need to figure out what we want.”

In saying that, she’s sent me on a bit of a quest these past years. How do I know what I want? How can I help other people figure it out too?

How to Get What You Want

Photo by Tom Merton
As for the future, your task is not to foresee it but to enable it. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

One of the first things I did after being dealt the ego-bruising, heart-wrenching blow of a breakup was to reinforce my support system.

I leaned heavily on my family and confided in a few close friends that I felt comfortable sharing the insanity of my outbursts with.

My 4-year-old niece reconfirmed my need to do this when, in the middle of my sobbing, she gave me a hug and simply said, “It’s ok. We’re your family and we’ll always take care of you.”

Nothing else seemed more true in that moment.

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