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6 Reasons to Travel Alone

Photo by Chantel Beam
Everything's mine though just on loan, nothing for the memory to hold, though mine as long as I look. ~Wislawa Szymborska

I always had the impression that time was passing too fast, that I was not fulfilling my potential and that I was lost in a world, which I was struggling to get to know even in a small part.

I always wanted to travel, but I didn’t know how to start. I was insecure about my own decisions, but first and foremost I was afraid to do it alone.

One day I just decided to finally leave all these concerns at home and go traveling by myself. I decided to book tickets to places I had never been, pack my backpack and escape to a new part of the world for almost a year.

After visiting 40 countries, I can assure you that being your own captain while crossing into unknown lands is the most self-developing experience it is possible to have. Let me explain to you why.

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.

5 Secrets to a Happier Today

Photo by Moyan Brenn
Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it everyday. ~Henri Nouwen

“If I’m not fully happy right now in this moment, nothing will ever make me happy.”

The thought struck me as I stood at the kitchen sink scrubbing the dishes. It appeared organically, but it felt like something I already knew, a conclusion I was returning to, not recognizing for the first time.

One of those moments where you say, “Oh yeah, I forgot about that.”

It wasn’t a moment that I should have been happy — one of those milestones in which happiness is actually a requirement, i.e. graduations, weddings, etc.

It was ordinary. I was tackling a mundane task and thinking about what I needed to get done in the next 24 hours.

Yet, in a moment of clarity — one I didn’t muscle into fruition — I recognized that everything I had longed, begged and dreamt about a year ago was there, in my current experience.

6 Tips to Heal a Broken Heart

Photo by Arif Akhtar
When you protect yourself from pain, be sure you do not protect yourself from love. ~Alah Cohen

Many times in life we are faced with an experience where we pour our heart and soul into a situation and/or relationship only to have our heart broken.

We feel like all of our efforts were in vain, and although we gave our all, we are standing in the midst of the rubble that remains.

Often what happens after such an experience is that we decide that we will never allow ourselves to get hurt like that again, and so we do the smart thing and shut down.

We close off our hearts and are extremely cautious when it comes to love or any situation which requires us to open our heart and soul. We want proof that any venture of the heart is secure and safe.

How to Accept Yourself Fully

Photo by Shannon
We accept the love we think we deserve. ~Steven Chbosky

I’ve been going through life feeling like a fraud.

Every time a friend expressed awe over my seemingly perfect life, I gulped a big one and prayed they would never realize what my banal day-to-day existence was really like.

When I was in school, at every exam I hoped that this wouldn’t be the first one I would fail miserably, starting a chain reaction of terrible grades, followed by flunking out of school and ending up on the street … or in jail.

How to Make Your Dream a Reality

Photo by Gala Darling
There are seven days in a week, and Someday isn’t one of them.

To me, these two seemingly innocuous words, “some” and “day,” when put together are the most empty and depressing seven letters in our language.

They are a synonym for “never” and “ain’t going to happen.” They are the lie we tell ourselves for a dream that we will never ever, in our lifetime, accomplish. It is belied in the tone of voice — faithless and empty — this combo of words usually parenthesized by a pair of audible sighs.

Sigh, “Someday I’m going to …” Sigh.

Once again we have deceived and cheated ourselves. Whatever happened to carpe diem? Seize the day? Yesterday I was reminded again of the danger of someday.

4 Tips to Manage Ego and Find Bliss

Photo by Kasia Skrzypek
We must go beyond the constant clamor of ego, beyond the tools of logic and reason, to the still, calm place within us: the realm of the soul. ~Deepak Chopra

Imagine it is a beautiful day. The sky is blue and the sun is shining bright. There is a light breeze that just feels like a gentle hug. You are walking down your favorite street. Everything you see is just beautiful.

As you walk, your sense of peace increases. You then turn the corner and all of a sudden dark clouds appear out of nowhere. The sky turns dark. The gentle breeze is replaced with powerful winds. Pretty soon, you are pushing yourself against the wind. You think you are moving forward but actually you are stuck.

This darkness that appeared is not the weather. It is what happens when you stray from your innate nature — bliss — and succumb to the power of the ego.

Have you noticed that some people have sparkles in their eyes, shining with joy, while others seem to be traveling with a storm cloud over their head, consumed by problems? Those who exude joy don’t have fewer life challenges, they’ve just figured out ways to better handle their egoic mind.

3 Secrets to Mindful Eating

Photo by Sarah Ann Wright
The art of mindfulness can transform our struggles with food — and renew our sense of pleasure, appreciation and satisfaction with eating. ~Jan Bays

This is a personal story of my disordered relationship with food and my own healing. When I wrote this a year ago, I thought:

There is absolutely no way I’m sharing this so openly and publicly. Especially since I’ve had such transformation over the past few months and now feel healed of this struggle. This is a closed chapter.”

Now, I think, that’s even more the reason to share.

My intention in telling you the details of my experience is so perhaps you will find the courage to inquire about your own relationship with food.

When we’re able to cultivate a deeper awareness with eating, we will also begin to wholeheartedly nurture ourselves and pay attention to other areas of our life.

3 Lessons Solo Travel Taught Me

Photo by Rosie Hardy
To travel is worth any cost or sacrifice. ~Elizabeth Gilbert

Six years ago, I took one of the boldest actions of my life. I traveled solo halfway across the world to Ubud, Indonesia (Bali). In June 2008, I was 27 years old and had never left United States soil despite a constant longing to.

A combination of fear and comfort held me hostage in familiarity — until  I read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. This bestselling novel chronicled the author’s adventures through Italy, India, and Indonesia as she sought to “find herself” after a divorce.

The book’s vivid descriptions of Indonesia’s rich culture and lush countryside converged with my imagined vision of ornate wood-carvings, colorful temples and sprawling rice paddies.

The beautiful tapestry of life I envisioned left no question about where my first trip abroad would be once I mustered up enough courage to go. And whenever I went, I decided I would go alone — just like Elizabeth Gilbert.

5 Reasons To Embrace Jealousy

Photo by Sarah Ann Wright
Let age, not envy, draw wrinkles on thy cheeks. ~Thomas Browne

This morning I spoke to my sister on Skype for almost two hours. She lives in Istanbul, so we don’t chat as often as when we lived in the same house, but we’re pretty close despite the ocean between us.

I remember in the not-so-distant past that getting off the phone with her was bittersweet. She’s lived in Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Italy, South Korea and even international waters. The bitterness didn’t come from being so far apart from my lovely sister, but the fact that I was extremely jealous of her.

I remember vividly sitting in my home in Minnesota expressing my excitement for her when she told me she was planning on moving to Asia.

“You’re so lucky,” and “This is such a great opportunity for you,” came out of my mouth, but what I was thinking is I can’t believe I’ve lived in one state my whole life. I should be traveling and exploring too.

It was embarrassing to be jealous of my younger sister, so naturally I denied it to myself and anyone else who had the guts to say it. But in my head, the envy found a place and rooted itself there, determined to make permanent residence.

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