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Hope After Grief: A Personal Story

Photo by Tú Anh
A mother is she who can take the place of all others, but whose place no one else can take. ~Cardinal Mermillod

One morning while preparing for school, my sister and I were suddenly hurried to the car. I couldn’t help but notice all the people coming into the house and speaking in low tones. Some even managed to point in our direction, shaking their heads.

I was a kid, but I wasn’t dumb. I knew the inevitable had happened. I had lost my mother. I felt terrible, but then I refused to cry. I was glad that her pain and suffering had finally come to an end.

You see, my mother was a very beautiful woman. And if perhaps you didn’t notice her because of her looks, you would definitely be captivated by her charming smile.

The earliest vivid memory I have of her was during my nursery school graduation. That was a long time ago. I was probably around five or six, but the picture still adorns my wall to this day.

One Simple Way to Improve Your Confidence

Photo by Jill Wellington
If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try. ~Seth Godin

During that awkward phase of high school when you are just as confused by what your math teacher says as what your hormones are telling you, my life shifted dramatically by the most dreaded experience for all school age children — I changed schools.

Thanks to the infinite wisdom of the local school board and their new school zoning policy, I was required to change to a new high school as a freshman. The standard adjustment period from elementary to high school was made exponentially more unenjoyable by the fact that my new school had an entirely new social demographic.

I went from the average awkward teenager to one who was so scared of just being looked at as he got off the bus that my entire body would break out in sweat. Forget talking to girls — walking through the halls at recess was difficult enough. All those eyes looking at me!

My family and friends encouraged me to be “more confident. This is perhaps the worst advice you can give to someone who is border-lining on social anxiety disorder.

How to Be in the Moment

Photo by Máté Holdosi
Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday. ~Dale Carnegie

I had been picturing the day for weeks, adjusting to the changing date, trying to avoid the palpable feeling of desperation that sat heavy on my chest when I thought about the long months ahead of us.

It was deployment number two. This one was decidedly more dangerous and carried with it more uncertainty, longer periods without communication and far more anxiety than deployment number one.

Military deployments, and the period leading up to them, are a constant wrestle with time — you dig your heels in, praying for time to creep forward at a snail’s pace, then you wish for the clock to speed through the next seven to 12 months of your life.

It leaves all those involved in a constant state of being out of the moment, thinking of the past and then looking forward to the future.

But while the tendency during this time is to discount the present in favor of the future or the past, it also opens the door to awakening to the now like few circumstances do.

4 Tips to Develop Your Intuition

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The only real valuable thing is intuition. ~Albert Einstein

When I was a child I would hear a soft slow voice inside me, whispering dreams and ideas, telling me possible problems I could encounter and solutions to issues I was facing.

The problem was that it scared the daylights out of me. I would shake my head, trying to get the voice to stop. I’d wonder what on earth was wrong with me. I didn’t tell a soul, for fear that I’d be seen as crazy, or worse, possessed by some demon I could not control.

I successfully suppressed this voice, but as I got older, I began to reap what I had sown. I didn’t realize that years of ignoring and shaming the voice inside me would lead to unhappiness: divorce, alcohol abuse and all the meaningless relationships that come with that sort of lifestyle.

It wasn’t until I felt completely alone, depressed and untouchable that I started to pay attention to that voice again. It came back to me in little ways. I noticed it was much easier to hear when I did certain things, like exercise or write. So I started to do those things more often.

After more than seven years of intentional work to be more in tune with my intuition, I trust myself. I feel like I am able to make choices that best suit my life. I even can hear when I need to make an unpopular choice, bring up an uncomfortable topic or just walk away from a situation, regardless of how weird it might seem.

How to Handle Difficult Relationships

Photo by Jimmy Álvarez
Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment. ~Eckhart Tolle

A few years ago, after months of turmoil and a constant tug of war spurred by different morals and beliefs, I walked away from a 10-year friendship. Looking back now I am completely at peace with the decision, but at the time, I was hurt, confused and angry at the turn of events that had brought us to that place.

When things had begun their steady downhill tumble, I pulled her aside and voiced my concerns, convinced she would change and I would once again be comfortable participating in the relationship.

In my eyes everything depended on her changing. Instead, the behavior continued and I began slowly backing away, telling everyone around me, “I just don’t understand why she’s doing this to me.”

The more I played into the truth of that one statement, the more I felt betrayed and completely out of control. By that time, the only choice I had was to remove myself from the situation and attempt to return to a place of balance and peace.

While I’ve had few situations since that time that have completely knocked me off balance, I read something the other day that, even now, was able to shed light on what might have been going on in my life at that time to bring such intense conflict into my experience.

6 Ways to Overcome Obstacles

Photo by Sandeep Murali
Your big opportunity may be right where you are now. ~Napoleon Hill

We’ve all got evocative childhood memories — some that stick out more than others. For me, one of the most powerful memories, not to mention one of my most favorite, began when I was just four years old.

I was a shy child. In fact, I was painfully shy. I only really talked to my family, my cabbage-patch kids and occasionally, my pet rocks. With kindergarten fast approaching, my parents were understandably worried. They wanted me to be comfortable talking to other kids in class and to teachers.

Thus began one of my favorite memories.

7 Ways to Support Sensitive Souls

Photo by Matteo Paciotti
Highly sensitive people are too often perceived as weaklings or damaged goods. To feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness, it is the trademark of the truly alive and compassionate. ~Anthon St. Maarten

Not everyone is familiar with the term Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs), but chances are you probably know someone who fits the definition. To generalize, we can say that HSPs experience life on a larger spectrum than the average person — both highs and lows.

This is neither inherently good nor disadvantageous — it all depends on how well an HSP manages his or her sensitivity. As an HSP myself, I can say one of the greatest challenges is handling big emotions.

And if you’re in a relationship with an HSP, it can also provide a challenge for you! Ultimately, everyone must own their personal responsibility to grow self-awareness and manage their emotions.

But for any of you supporting someone with big, sensitive emotions on their quest to learn and grow, here are some tips from my own experience as an HSP.

How to Cope When Little Things Overwhelm You

Photo by 9042004 Duke
It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are the most important. ~Arthur Conan Doyle

I have always been wary of the little things in life. The little things can steal my serenity, rob me of peace of mind and kill my joy.

At the same time, I have been aware of the little things in my life:

  • The smell of freshly brewed coffee
  • The overheard laughter of a stranger
  • A spider web glistening with morning dew

How can I be defeated by little things or more likely, how can I LET little things defeat me? I identify with the concept of Chinese Water Torture as a method of ultimate despair — the premise being that drops of water fall onto the forehead of a restrained individual and ultimately render them insane.

6 Tips for Learning Hard Lessons

Photo by Felipe Neves
God gives us each a song. ~Ute proverb

Often I am woken up by the songs of coyotes howling in the predawn. It might be a single, mournful wail, but more often the entire desert hillside comes alive with the yipping chorus.

It’s a beautiful, eerie song that evokes something ancient and primal, almost like a genetic memory stretching back to the beginning of time.

As well as hear them, I also see them frequently. Wild and furtive, a coyote darts across the path during my morning walk, where I see her hiding among the sage and bitter brush watching me with wary eyes.

I wonder what she thinks. If it’s pure survival instinct, why doesn’t she run? Has the pack come to recognize me over the past two years as I walk several times a week along Rattlesnake Trail that winds up the hill by a cattle ranch, the same territory they occupy?

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?

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