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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.

7 Ways to Stay Positive Around Negative People

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It takes but one positive thought when given a chance to survive and thrive to overpower an entire army of negative thoughts. ~Dr. Robert H. Schuller

Have you ever felt trapped in a negative, toxic environment? Did you feel overwhelmed by the negativity, and were you unable to shield yourself from it?

If so, you’re not alone.

Some time ago, I was in an environment that was so toxic that I almost quit my job. I was trapped among endless gossip, mean-spiritedness and backstabbing. I worked every day feeling like I was in self-preservation mode.

My character is strong, resilient and caring, but my work environment made me question that. I thought my positivity would spread to others and be enough to at least slightly improve their outlook — right?

Unfortunately, I was wrong.

5 Tips for Facing Problems

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The passport to living is to imagine yourself in your grave. Imagine you’re lying in your coffin … Now look at your problems from that viewpoint. Changes everything, doesn’t it? ~Anthony de Mello

After weeks of plans falling through and unexpected circumstances arising at every turn, we came back together with a wall already formed. Some of the unrest was voiced, some of it was simply felt by the palpable anger we had allowed to grow between us.

We skirted around the issues by avoiding each other, making sure to plan our schedules so that we could sit alone in the frustration we both felt for very different reasons.

After a lengthy relationship, this wasn’t the first time we had encountered problems — problems of miscommunication, unmet expectations, etc., etc., etc. — but this bump in the road was starting to make me feel as if our relationship had an expiration date.

And that I couldn’t deal with.

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.

Want to Succeed? Let Go

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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

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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

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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?

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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.

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