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5 Reasons to Stop Ignoring Negative Emotions

Photo by Arif Akhtar
To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

I’ll never forget the first time I allowed myself to say, “I hate him.” I discovered the feeling during my meditation time. Seeing it there in front of me made me realize I needed to stop pretending it wasn’t true.

My dearest friend heard it first.

“I hate him,” I said with a smile. Not exactly the hateful expression you’d expect, but it was the most liberating statement I’d ever made, and I was so happy about it!

Always before I’d tried to reconcile myself to his presence. To be the bigger person, and not harbor hate in my heart. But through all my striving, I hated him still, and I’d just been lying to myself about it.

Stop Pretending and Start Being You

Photo by Maxi Adrian San Agustin
You’ll never know who you are unless you shed who you pretend to be. ~Vironika Tugaleva

I grew up in the 1970s, and I learned a lot from the experience. Tom Wolfe called the ‘60s and ‘70s “The Purple Decades” because they had such gaudy styles.

Style seemed to be a big deal then, even more so than in other decades. Everyone of a certain age felt free to try new things and express themselves.

Expressing oneself sounds like a good thing, but actually it depends on what you’re trying to express. Is it the real you or just something you borrowed from the people and styles around you?

4 Ways to See the World Through New Eyes

Photo by Julia Caesar
If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: Infinite. ~William Blake

Working from home, while convenient, is often times punctuated by bouts of loneliness. To counteract that, I often spend hours working from a local coffee shop frequented by a group of regulars.

Today, sitting in my normal spot, I struck up a conversation with a man working next to me. We spoke in brief detail about our work and the weather and eventually about where we were from.

As a Colorado transplant from New York, he said, in short, that it seemed as if people here tended to be outwardly mean or judgmental without being provoked.

I was slightly surprised by the observation, simply because I had found that there was no way to make such a general statement about a group based solely on their geographical location.

To me, geography determined what hobbies you partake in or even the clothing style you learn toward, but personality traits were determined by something else entirely.

A Guide to Happiness via Self-Compassion

Photo by Amandine Marque
My mission, should I choose to accept it, is to find peace with exactly who and what I am. To take pride in my thoughts, my appearance, my talents, my flaws, and to stop this incessant worrying that I can’t be loved as I am. ~Anais Nin

You’re a kind person. A loving person. A compassionate person.

To other people.

But you hold yourself to a higher standard.

When you make a mistake, you’re tough on yourself. You judge yourself. You tell yourself you need to do better.

And although part of you thinks you’re doing this to keep yourself honest, perfect and at the high standards the world around you expects, another part of you — a small, delicate, exhausted part — wishes you could just let it go.

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

Photo by Daniel Zedda
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

Photo by iulia Pironea
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

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.

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