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Want to Succeed? Let Go

Photo by Cyril Lookin
By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond the winning. ~Lao Tsu

When I joined my college improv comedy troupe during my freshman year at UPenn, I wasn’t the only newly inducted member in the group. Another guy named Pete came on board with me.

Pete and I were total opposites. Right before a show I was a ball of nervous energy, while Pete was super cool and relaxed.

I worked hard in practice, memorizing the rules of each game and studying what worked and what didn’t, while Pete — always on cruise control — seemed to just wander into practice and wing it.

I didn’t like Pete at first. I didn’t think he was a good performer and didn’t trust him in scenes. He would say something totally random that no one else was prepared for, and the scene would suddenly turn in a completely different direction.

There was just one thing though — Pete was funny. Real funny.

How I Deal With Depression

Photo by Nicolas Fuentes
Turn my sorrow into treasured gold. ~Adele

Three years ago I was depressed. I couldn’t stop crying over the mistakes I had made, and I was trying to dig myself out of a dark hole. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t go back and the only way I saw out was through death. I wanted it to be over, and I couldn’t see how I was going to live with myself.

I went to a doctor for a checkup because my body was so tired. When I told her my symptoms, she immediately asked me if I had suicidal thoughts.

She saw right through me.

Living Authentically: A Personal Story

Photo by Matteo Paciotti
Whatever it takes to find the real you, don't be daunted if the rest of the world looks on in shock. ~Stephen Richards

About a year ago I left my job, moved up in the mountains far away from family and friends, and started anew. I had enough of crowded places, constant machine noise and a life spent mainly indoors. My way out was to use part of my savings to offer myself a year to find out: “What’s next?”

Until then, I had lived in different cities around Europe, working in offices for many years — a normal western lifestyle with its ups and downs and its hectic and stressful rhythm.

For some time I had been uneasy about it, and as I started searching for other possibilities, I suddenly felt I needed to do a clean cut and find a way of life that really fulfilled me.

Here I had my big chance to review my life, and the main question I tried to answer as honestly as I could was: Did I live according to my dreams, my convictions and the demands of my heart?

Obviously I did not.

How to Be More Optimistic

Photo by AP Photographie
If pessimism is despair, optimism is cowardice and stupidity, is there any need to choose between them?” ~Francis Parker Yockey

On one of my husband and my first camping trips together, we were walking down a wooded trail next to a crisp mountain river. The heat was severe, as it was mid-August.

“Ugh,” my husband said. “This heat is so oppressive.”

“Yeah, but we’re about to go swimming,” I replied. “Don’t be so pessimistic.”

“The difference between my pessimism and your optimism is that I’m optimistic about the big things and you’re only optimistic about the small things,” he replied. “I think my pessimism is better than your optimism.”

I hated to admit it, but he was right. I would worry constantly about whether our relationship was working but blindly skip along, happy to ignore the 100 degree heat.

Before that I used to think everyone should be an optimist, but I don’t think that’s really what we should all be aiming for.

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.

6 Tips to Be More Confident

Photo by Maxi Adrian San Agustin
Charisma is the fragrance of soul. ~Toba Beta

Have you ever wondered why some people exude charisma while others just seem to be so plain?

We all know people who seem to have that special something that makes them stand out. They walk into the room and you can immediately sense that they operate on a completely different level than most other people.

In case you are wondering, the word charisma comes from the Greek language and it means a gift from the Gods/the Divine.

Based on the definition, you might think that charisma is something that only a select few will be able to possess. However, just as the elusive concept of luck, charisma is a trait that we all can develop.

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.

6 Tips to Help Introverts Thrive

Photo by Daniel Zedda
Stay true to your own nature. If you like to do things in a slow and steady way, don’t let others make you feel as if you have to race. If you enjoy depth, don’t force yourself to seek breadth. ~Susan Cain

I’ve been an introvert my whole life — but until recently, I was working against my brain.

That is, I was trying to force myself to be social when I was mentally exhausted, to work in conditions an extrovert would thrive in, to not allow myself some sweet alone time that all introverts love every now and then. No wonder I was always tired!

Here’s the thing: It’s OK to be introverted, just like it’s OK to be extroverted.

Unfortunately, it’s an extroverted world at first glance, and many introverts try to fit themselves into an extrovert’s life, not realizing that they would be so much happier if they simply went with the flow of their body and brain, living a more quiet life.

Here are six tips that I’ve learned as an introvert that have vastly increased my happiness, productivity and overall peace of mind.

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.

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