Take responsibility for your life: the ultimate action plan


What type of person are you?

Screenshot_2018-09-18 Take responsibility for your life the ultimate action plan

Do you realize that you control your happiness and success, and when it comes to an obstacle in the pursuit of your best life, you work out a way around it? Do you simply don’t give up without trying?

Or maybe you are someone who, thus far, has refused to take responsibility for your life?

When things get tough, you’re more likely to give up instead of taking the path less travelled. You know that your ideal life is out there, but you’ve chosen to live in Mediocre-ville and somehow found a way to enjoy it. Taking responsibility seems like too much hassle.

The awkward truth is that it’s so much easier to be a victim, blame others and have a sense of entitlement, rather than to take responsibility for the circumstances in our lives.

If the second person is you (and it used to be me), it’s time for you to leave the losing team that are playing the blame game and take responsibility for your life. Here’s exactly how to do it.

Start taking responsibility

So you’ve decided to leave the losing team behind and venture out on your own. You want to take responsibility for your life and for your future.

You’re officially getting off the blame train. That’s great – you’ve officially stepped off at the best station you can.

But this station is quite deserted. You’re not sure whether you need to catch another train or wait for a bus. There’s a reason that hardly anyone is here. They’re still firmly on the blame train and have no intention of disembarking at this, or any other, station.

However, you’ve realised something and it’s going to change your life. You’ve realised that only you can take responsibility and succeed. Only you can take the necessary action to live your best life.

It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to take a lot of conscious effort and some brutal
honesty, but I hope you like a challenge. You know that nothing worth having, including a meaningful life, comes easily.

You need to suit up. Superman can keep his ability to fly and his rather tight-fitting attire. Wonder Woman can keep her bracelets and shields.

They’ve got nothing on you because your super power is… well, you. If you’re willing to change and decide what meaning you’re going to give to the events in your life, you’ll be taking that all important responsibility and reaping the rewards.

Step one: Attitude and reflection

It’s time to get ruthless.

You need to do what your teacher always said and ‘take a good long hard look at yourself in the mirror.’ Without using your metaphorical mirror, it’s going to be hard to make the necessary changes to your attitude and your overall responsibility.

The truth is, you might not like what you see, but that’s okay. You know that change is a journey not an event. We all have to start somewhere.

Along with your willingness to change needs to be a more proactive attitude of responsibility. You have the power to respond in the right way. You have the power to create your own future and your own success. It’s right there at the tips of your fingers. You’ve just got to flex those responsibility muscles each and every day. Only then will you have the power you need to change your life.

Reflection on past behavior can be painful or awkward. It’s a natural part of the process. Don’t shy away from it because you can learn so much from being a reflective person.

Listen to the feedback that you might have had from other people in your life, e.g. your spouse, your colleagues or your close friends. Are they suggesting that you need to change your attitude or response to something? By considering some of their suggestions, you’re taking your responsibility seriously.

Step two: Understanding your power

In his groundbreaking book, ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’, Viktor Frankl used his experiences as a prisoner of war in a Nazi concentration camp to try to understand how man reacts when in adverse situations.

His findings and the book itself give us all a greater understanding of how we can live our lives and take greater responsibility.

Upon arrival at the camp, Viktor realised that he had the power to decide how to respond to the terrible situation he was in. He soon became conscious of the fact that his chances of survival rested on his ability to acknowledge this situation and his response moving forward.

Viktor knew that he was in complete control of his responses and decisions.

No matter what else came his way, no matter how awful the conditions or his treatment by the guards, by turning inwards and focusing on his responsibility, he was able to survive the ordeal.

Many people try to find their life’s meaning first, before they undertake new responsibilities or decisions.

Frankl believed that it is only through your actions and responses that you can find the meaning to your life. It is unique to you. There is no general meaning to life. We can create and change ours at will.

In a situation as awful as Frankl and his fellow prisoners, he was able to understand that blame had no place in the camp. Focusing on his internal state of mind, rather than the external factors that were at play, meant he could survive.

Even when working shoeless in the snow to build a train line, Viktor was able to picture his wife in his mind and focus on the love he had for her, rather than the conditions he was faced with. He took responsibility for his reaction to the pain he felt, turning it upside down and into something good.

Step 3: Finding your internal power and perspective

Man’s destiny is certainly affected by his circumstances, by those external factors. But we are ultimately able to choose our own path. Even in the worse situations known to humankind, you have the freedom and the power to choose your attitude to life. Every human has the capacity
to change his behavior and response to any situation.

That’s the power of responsibility. By doing so, you’ll be happier and in more control of your life. You will no longer shout at inanimate objects or become angered by the weather.

Just remember you have the power to:
• Be reflective and learn to improve.
• Choose how you feel and respond to different situations.
• Be happier and in greater control of your life.
• Be responsible.

It all starts and ends with you.

Action Steps for self-responsibility:

So now you’ve established that you’re ready to kick blame to the curb and take responsibility by the horns, you want to know how to do it.

Here are 3 action steps you can start on today to take responsibility for your life.

1. Sit somewhere quietly and reflect on decisions and responses you have made in the past. If you were faced with the same problem today and with this new understanding of personal power, how could you do things differently?

2. Make a list of the circumstances that you find yourself in frequently. Instead of looking at them as situations that can’t be changed, how could you find a way to look at them differently? How will you approach these situations in the future so that you feel happier? If you have some planned responses and reactions to difficult situations, you’re more likely to succeed.

3. Read ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ by Viktor Frankl. It will transform your understanding of finding your life’s meaning and taking responsibility for everything going forward.

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Loneliness: The Truth Behind Your Fear of Being Alone


What Your Fear of Loneliness Is Really All About

“When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.”
― Elizabeth GilbertEat, Pray, Love

There’s a campaign happening now in the UK meant to tackle loneliness and its effects on the general population. Everyone knows that London can feel quite lonely, even when surrounded by people. My attempt here is to solve the cause of the lonely feeling, not the effect of it. Of course, calling someone can work, also going to a pub and having a drink might get you closer to someone.

There are so many apps these days that can be used to combat this awful feeling of being lonely. But in my opinion, the feeling of loneliness itself is not awful, but the meaning we give it. I think that loneliness stems out of the fear of being alone, of being with yourself, your true self. It’s easy to identify with the person everyone sees in you, but when you are alone, who are you?

What Your Fear of Loneliness Is Really All About

That’s a question most of us, including me, are dodging because we’re afraid of the answer. We’re afraid that we might find out that we’re not good enough, strong enough, pretty enough or capable enough.

That fear is so terrifying that we’d do almost anything to not feel it, including hanging out with people who may not do us any good. Some might think that it’s better to spend their time doing something that does not necessarily bring them joy but it’s anyway better than being alone. Also, this loneliness may keep us in toxic romantic relationships, where the predominant feeling is attachment and worry, where people are not happy but they just go with the flow or settle because “probably there’s nothing better out there anyway”.

In fact, we’re scared that someone else might see the real us and they won’t accept us, because why would they? We know what we really feel inside and we know how broken we are. Most of us settle for a comfortable relationship, one that usually becomes a partnership of buying a house and raising children, while one or both feel the need to go outside the relationship to fulfill all their needs.

The fact that the rate of divorce is getting higher and higher is because it became accepted nowadays, but that doesn’t mean that relationships until 30 years ago were happier. I used to get asked the question: do you think it’s better to stay in a toxic relationship or divorce? I’d say option number 3, having a loving, meaningful, honest relationship where love only grows for the rest of your life. The only reason why we’re settling for the first 2 options and we don’t keep looking for number 3 is that we just don’t know any better.

How many times did you hear someone say: “true love does not exist”, or “Love is never enough”. Of course, it’s not, especially because that’s not love.

What is Loneliness?

When a relationship only keeps going because of habit, attachment, and fear of loss, why do we expect them to feel good? Because we don’t know any better. I’ve never studied this in school, probably neither did you. But when you forget to love yourself, you cannot love anyone else. It’s something that comes from inside of you, so how could you ever give something to someone else if you don’t have that for yourself? I know that some people wish that this weren’t true because they don’t feel that much about themselves.

They see the failures that they are therefore they cannot love themselves. Who can ever love a failure? I think that the answer is obvious: God. I’m not talking about the God presented to you by religion, but that Force that lives inside of you and that you’re probably not forgotten everything about. When you connect with that Force, you cannot feel lonely ever, because you’re never alone. My suggestion is just to take a step back and stop running away from the fear because it’s, in fact, the fear of fear itself that is causing all your problems. Take a look at yourself and think: Is it really that bad? Am I really that bad?

Whatever you think you did, forgive yourself.

There’s nothing worse than being separated from what is in fact, your true nature. Once forgiveness starts, the healing will start as well. Don’t run away from it and don’t be afraid of it, you are not alone and you have never been. You just didn’t know any better, at the time it sounded like a good idea, so you went with it. I promise you, once you reconnect with your Self, you will not need anyone in your life.

Also, that’s when they will come because you won’t make everything about your pain anymore, you will be their bedrock and they will love you for it. But first and foremost, love yourself, because without that all you’re giving is emptiness and sadness. 

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Finding Your Superpowers: 3 Steps To Discover Who You Really Are


Finding Your Superpowers: 3 Steps To Discover Who You Really Are

Every single one of us has superpowers. T.V shows, books or movies with characters that have supernatural powers surround us, but we’re told growing up that it doesn’t exist- that it’s not real. What if I said to you that every single one of us contains a superpower or multiple, and your job is to discover it?

We are all so full of magic, but we’re told that magic doesn’t exist. We limit ourselves to reaching our full potential because of the limiting beliefs society has taught us. We’re scared to know and believe how powerful and exceptional we are, which leads to doubt ourselves.

Finding Your Superpowers

We’re scared to own who we actually are and what we’re capable of because it may be different from people around you, but why should we? Why should we put a limitation on greatness?

We are all beings of love and service, and until you can accept that, you’re not going to fully discover who you are and what you’re fully capable of. What is the superpower that allows you to be a service to other people and yourself?

Growing up I was always on a different vibration from other people, and I felt that. I had no idea why I would take on people’s energies so quickly, felt so drained around large groups of people or why I would know things about people before they told me. As I grew up, I started to see spirits or sense them around me. I would have dreams about situations before they would happen. People would always joke with me and call me a “Witch,” which was something that “ didn’t” exist. I never developed my psychic abilities further and started to shut them off because I didn’t want to be different.

I didn’t know how to handle what I was going through. I didn’t have anyone tell me that I would eventually use this to help other people. It wasn’t until I started paying attention to what I was drawn to and fully accepted it. I allowed myself to develop and just be who I am. I want to be that person to say to you to reach your full potential. Whatever you feel that may have you feeling different from others- listen to it, because babe that’s the divine within you. That’s how you’re going to finding your superpowers.

3 Steps To Finding Your Superpowers

1. Pay attention to the things you’re attracted to

This may be a genre of books, styles of music, hobbies, certain people & environments. Pay attention to what catches your eye and what puts the fire in your soul. Listen to it and follow the eye of your heart. Grow that flame and turn it into a raging passion.

2. Ask yourself how you can be a service to yourself and others:

What can you do that brings joy not only to yourself but makes others feel light, loved and raises their vibration. We are all put on this earth to help each other. This does not have to be in the form of changing their physical health.

3. Own who you are:

Own your greatness, and when I tell you this, I don’t want you to think it and move on, I want you to OWN it and KNOW that you are AMAZING. Do not dim your light for fear of being seen or being judged. You let yourself shine, be weird, follow your heart and go your path. You will attract so many things, but most of all find that superpower that you’re searching for. It will show up, as long as you show up for yourself.

 

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Finding Purpose for a Good Life. But Also a Healthy One.


Happiness has little to do with it. Research suggests meaning in your life is important for well-being.

Volunteering to help children, for example, or to take care of a pet can improve your well-being, research suggests.

 

My favorite medical diagnosis is “failure to thrive.”

Not because patients are failing to thrive — that part makes me sad. But because of the diagnosis’s bold proposition: Humans, in their natural state, are meant to thrive.

My patient, however, was not in his natural state. Cancer had claimed nearly every organ in his body. He’d lost a quarter of his body mass. I worried his ribs would crack under the weight of my stethoscope.

“You know,” he told me the evening I admitted him. “A few years ago, I wouldn’t have cared if I made it. ‘Take me God,’ I would’ve said. ‘What good am I doing here anyway?’ But now you have to save me. Sadie needs me.”

He’d struggled with depression most of his life, he said. Strangely enough, it seemed to him, he was most at peace while caring for his mother when she had Parkinson’s, but she died years ago. Since then, he had felt aimless, without a sense of purpose, until Sadie wandered into his life.

Sadie was his cat.

Only about a quarter of Americans strongly endorse having a clear sense of purpose and of what makes their lives meaningful, while nearly 40 percent either feel neutral or say they don’t. This is both a social and a public health problem: Research increasingly suggests that purpose is important for a meaningful life — but also for a healthy life.

Purpose and meaning are connected to what researchers call eudaimonic well-being. This is distinct from, and sometimes inversely related to, happiness (hedonic well-being). One constitutes a deeper, more durable state, while the other is superficial and transient.

Being a pediatric oncologist, for example, is not a “happy” job, but it may be a very rewarding one. Raising a family can be profoundly meaningful, but parents are often less happy while interacting with their children than exercising or watching television.

Having purpose is linked to a number of positive health outcomes, including better sleep, fewer strokes and heart attacks, and a lower risk of dementia, disability and premature death. Those with a strong sense of purpose are more likely to embrace preventive health services, like mammograms, colonoscopies and flu shots.

And people with high scores on measures of eudaimonic well-being have low levels of pro-inflammatory gene expression; those with high scores on hedonic pleasure have just the opposite.

 

Doing good, it seems, is better than feeling good.

One study analyzed how having purpose influences one’s risk of dementia. Researchers assessed baseline levels of purpose for 951 individuals without dementia, then followed them for seven years, controlling for things like depression, neuroticism, socioeconomic status and chronic disease. Those who had expressed a greater sense of purpose were 2.4 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s, and were far less likely to develop even minor cognitive problems.

Another study followed more than 6,000 individuals over 14 years and found that those with greater purpose were 15 percent less likely to die than those who were aimless, and that having purpose was protective across the life span — for people in their 20s as well as those in their 70s.

Helping other people can also be a way to help oneself. A volunteer with a box of supplies in DuPont, Wash., the location of a deadly Amtrak derailment last month. CreditGrant Hindsley/seattlepi.com, via Associated Press

Having purpose is not a fixed trait, but rather a modifiable state: Purpose can be honed through strategies that help us engage in meaningful activities and behaviors. This has implications at both the dinner table and the hospital bed.

A recent randomized control trial compared the effect of “meaning-centered” versus “support-focused” group therapy for patients with metastatic cancer. Patients in the support groups met weekly and discussed things like “the need for support,” “coping with medical tests” and “communicating with providers.”

Patients in the meaning-centered groups focused instead on spiritual and existential questions. They explored topics like “meaning before and after cancer,” “what made us who we are today,” and “things we have done and want to do in the future.” Meaning-centered patients experienced fewer physical symptoms, had a higher quality of life, felt less hopeless — and were more likely to want to keep living.

Other research suggests that school programs that allow students to discuss positive emotions and meaningful experiences may enhance psychological well-being, and protect against future behavioral challenges. But this isn’t how we usually operate. We instead assume that anxiety and depression are problems to be treated — not that emotional resilience and human flourishing are states to be celebrated.

What’s powerful about these conversations is not just that they can help cancer patients through treatment or help teenagers build resiliency — they can also help the rest of us. We should all consider asking ourselves and our loved ones these questions more often.

During my most trying months of medical school, I met every Sunday evening with three friends. Phones off, lights dim, wine glasses full. We shared the most challenging and most rewarding moments of our weeks. These conversations helped each of us glean — or perhaps create — meaning in challenging, sometimes traumatic, experiences: the death of a child we’d cared for; abusive language from a superior; the guilt of committing a medical error.

It was in these sessions that I chose my specialty, decided to apply to policy school, and vowed to reconnect with a lost friend.

Meaning grows not just from conversation, of course, but also from action. One recent study randomly assigned 10th graders to volunteer weekly with elementary students — to help with homework, cooking, sports, or arts and crafts — or put them on a wait list.

Teenagers who volunteered had lower levels of inflammation, better cholesterol profiles and lower body mass index. Those who had the biggest jumps in empathy and altruism scores had the largest reductions in cardiovascular risk.

Engaging in these kinds of activities may be most important for individuals whose identity is in flux, like parents with children leaving for college or workers preparing for retirement. A program run by Experience Corps, an organization that trains older adults to tutor children in urban public schools, has shown marked improvements in mental and physical health among tutors. The improvements included higher self-esteem, more social connectedness, and better mobility and stamina. (The children do better, too.)

This work hints at an underlying truth: Finding purpose is rarely an epiphany, nor is it something you pick up at the mall or download from the app store. It can be a long, arduous process that requires introspection and conversation, then a commitment to act.

The key to a deeper, healthier life, it seems, isn’t knowing the meaning of life — it’s building meaning into your life. Even if meaning is a four-legged friend named Sadie.

Why Children Aren’t Behaving, And What You Can Do About It


Boy completes his chore of raking leaves

Childhood — and parenting — have radically changed in the past few decades, to the point where far more children today struggle to manage their behavior.

That’s the argument Katherine Reynolds Lewis makes in her new parenting book, The Good News About Bad Behavior.

We face a crisis of self-regulation,” Lewis writes. And by “we,” she means parents and teachers who struggle daily with difficult behavior from the children in their lives.

Lewis, a journalist, certified parent educator and mother of three, asks why so many kids today are having trouble managing their behavior and emotions.

Three factors, she says, have contributed mightily to this crisis.

First: Where, how and how much kids are allowed to play has changed. Second, their access to technology and social media has exploded.

Finally, Lewis suggests, children today are too “unemployed.” She doesn’t simply mean the occasional summer job for a high school teen. The term is a big tent, and she uses it to include household jobs that can help even toddlers build confidence and a sense of community.

“They’re not asked to do anything to contribute to a neighborhood or family or community,” Lewis tells NPR in a recent interview. “And that really erodes their sense of self-worth — just as it would with an adult being unemployed.”

Below is more of that interview, edited for length and clarity.

What sorts of tasks are children and parents prioritizing instead of household responsibilities?

To be straight-A students and athletic superstars, gifted musicians and artists — which are all wonderful goals, but they are long-term and pretty narcissistic. They don’t have that sense of contribution and belonging in a family the way that a simple household chore does, like helping a parent prepare a meal. Anyone who loves to cook knows it’s so satisfying to feed someone you love and to see that gratitude and enjoyment on their faces. And kids today are robbed of that.

It’s part of the work of the family. We all do it, and when it’s more of a social compact than an adult in charge of doling out a reward, that’s much more powerful. They can see that everyone around them is doing jobs. So it seems only fair that they should also.

Kids are so driven by what’s fair and what’s unfair. And that’s why the more power you give kids, the more control you give them, the more they will step up.

You also argue that play has changed dramatically. How so?

Two or three decades ago, children were roaming neighborhoods in mixed-age groups, playing pretty unsupervised or lightly supervised. They were able to resolve disputes, which they had a strong motivation to because they wanted to keep playing. They also planned their time and managed their games. They had a lot of autonomy, which also feeds self-esteem and mental health.

Nowadays, kids, including my own, are in child care pretty much from morning until they fall into bed — or they’re under the supervision of their parents. So they aren’t taking small risks. They aren’t managing their time. They aren’t making decisions and resolving disputes with their playmates the way that kids were 20 or 30 years ago. And those are really important social and emotional skills for kids to learn, and play is how all young mammals learn them.

While we’re on the subject of play and the importance of letting kids take risks, even physical risks, you mention a remarkable study out of New Zealand — about phobias. Can you tell us about it?

This study dates back to when psychologists believed that if you had a phobia as an adult, you must have had some traumatic experience as a child. So they started looking at people who had phobias and what their childhood experiences were like. In fact, they found the opposite relationship.

People who had a fall from heights were less likely to have an adult phobia of heights. People who had an early experience with near-drowning had zero correlation with a phobia of water, and children who were separated from their parents briefly at an early age actually had less separation anxiety later in life.

We need to help kids to develop tolerance against anxiety, and the best way to do that, this research suggests, is to take small risks — to have falls and scrapes and tumbles and discover that they’re capable and that they can survive being hurt. Let them play with sticks or fall off a tree. And yeah, maybe they break their arm, but that’s how they learn how high they can climb.

You say in the book that “we face a crisis of self-regulation.” What does that look like at home and in the classroom?

It’s the behavior in our homes that keeps us from getting out the door in the morning and keeps us from getting our kids to sleep at night.

In schools, it’s kids jumping out of seats because they can’t control their behavior or their impulses, getting into shoving matches on the playground, being frozen during tests because they have such high rates of anxiety.

Really, I lump under this umbrella of self-regulation the increase in anxiety, depression, ADHD, substance addiction and all of these really big challenges that are ways kids are trying to manage their thoughts, behavior and emotions because they don’t have the other skills to do it in healthy ways.

You write a lot about the importance of giving kids a sense of control. My 6-year-old resists our morning schedule, from waking up to putting on his shoes. Where is the middle ground between giving him control over his choices and making sure he’s ready when it’s time to go?

It’s a really tough balance. We start off, when our kids are babies, being in charge of everything. And our goal by the time they’re 18 is to be in charge of nothing — to work ourselves out of the job of being that controlling parent. So we have to constantly be widening the circle of things that they’re in charge of, and shrinking our own responsibility.

It’s a bit of a dance for a 6-year-old, really. They love power. So give him as much power as you can stand and really try to save your direction for the things that you don’t think he can do.

He knows how to put on his shoes. So if you walk out the door, he will put on his shoes and follow you. It may not feel like it, but eventually he will. And if you spend five or 10 minutes outside that door waiting for him — not threatening or nagging — he’ll be more likely to do it quickly. It’s one of these things that takes a leap of faith, but it really works.

Kids also love to be part of that discussion of, what does the morning look like. Does he want to draw a visual calendar of the things that he wants to get done in the morning? Does he want to set times, or, if he’s done by a certain time, does he get to do something fun before you leave the house? All those things that are his ideas will pull him into the routine and make him more willing to cooperate.

Whether you’re trying to get your child to dress, do homework or practice piano, it’s tempting to use rewards that we know our kids love, especially sweets and screen time. You argue in the book: Be careful. Why?

Yes. The research on rewards is pretty powerful, and it suggests that the more we reward behavior, the less desirable that behavior becomes to children and adults alike. If the child is coming up with, “Oh, I’d really like to do this,” and it stems from his intrinsic interests and he’s more in charge of it, then it becomes less of a bribe and more of a way that he’s structuring his own morning.

The adult doling out rewards is really counterproductive in the long term — even though they may seem to work in the short term. The way parents or teachers discover this is that they stop working. At some point, the kid says, “I don’t really care about your reward. I’m going to do what I want.” And then we have no tools. Instead, we use strategies that are built on mutual respect and a mutual desire to get through the day smoothly.

You offer pretty simple guidance for parents when they’re confronted with misbehavior and feel they need to dole out consequences. You call them the four R’s. Can you walk me through them?

The four R’s will keep a consequence from becoming a punishment. So it’s important to avoid power struggles and to win the kid’s cooperation. They are: Any consequence should be revealed in advance, respectful, related to the decision the child made, and reasonable in scope.

Generally, by the time they’re 6 or 7 years old, kids know the rules of society and politeness, and we don’t need to give them a lecture in that moment of misbehavior to drill it into their heads. In fact, acting in that moment can sometimes be counterproductive if they are amped up, their amygdala’s activated, they’re in a tantrum or excited state, and they can’t really learn very well because they can’t access the problem-solving part of their brain, the prefrontal cortex, where they’re really making decisions and thinking rationally. So every misbehavior doesn’t need an immediate consequence.

You even tell parents, in the heat of the moment, it’s OK to just mumble and walk away. What do you mean?

That’s when you are looking at your child, they are not doing what you want, and you cannot think of what to do. Instead of jumping in with a bribe or a punishment or yelling, you give yourself some space. Pretend you had something on the stove you need to grab or that you hear something ringing in the other room and walk away. That gives you just a little space to gather your thoughts and maybe calm down a little bit so you can respond to their behavior from the best place in you — from your best intentions as a parent.

I can imagine skeptics out there, who say, “But kids need to figure out how to live in a world that really doesn’t care what they want. You’re pampering them!” In fact, you admit your own mother sometimes feels this way. What do you say to that?

I would never tell someone who’s using a discipline strategy that they feel really works that they’re wrong. What I say to my mom is, “The tools and strategies that you used and our grandparents used weren’t wrong, they just don’t work with modern kids.” Ultimately, we want to instill self-discipline in our children, which will never happen if we’re always controlling them.

If we respond to our kids’ misbehavior instead of reacting, we’ll get the results we want. I want to take a little of the pressure off of parenting; each instance is not life or death. We can let our kids struggle a little bit. We can let them fail. In fact, that is the process of childhood when children misbehave. It’s not a sign of our failure as parents. It’s normal.

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7 things happy people always do (but never talk about)


Why are some people more happy than others? It looks like they’ve found what they love to do and have a consistent sense of peace and happiness.

They see positive opportunities when most people see closed doors. They handle failures and setbacks with grace and confidently continue moving in their desired direction.

Don’t worry if you think this doesn’t sound like you.

The good news is, you can be one of those people. Those characteristics are largely learned.

I know this from personal experience. I’ve seen people go through hardships and depression and yet turn their life around purely through their actions and attitude.

Being happy is possible, no matter how dark your days are.

Contrary to popular belief, being happy really doesn’t have much to do with “positive thinking”. It’s about cultivating a realistic attitude that embraces life as it is.

Finding lasting happiness is a lot like physical fitness. You have to work your muscles daily if you want to see results over time. So, if you’re looking for a nudge to get the ball rolling, here are 7 habits of authentically happy people.

1) They have at least 5 close relationships

Did you know that the longest Harvard study ever on happiness found that healthy relationships were the most consistent predictor of a happy person? Having a few close relationships has also been found to help us live a longer, higher quality life. True friends really are worth their weight in gold.

But why five relationships?

This has been found to be an acceptable average from a variety of studies. According to the book Finding Flow:

“National surveys find that when someone claims to have 5 or more friends with whom they can discuss important problems, they are 60 percent more likely to say that they are ‘very happy’.”

However keep in mind that the actual number doesn’t necessarily matter that much, it is the effort you put into your relationships that matters.

2) They don’t tie your happiness to external events

A variety of research says that self-esteem that is bound to external success can be quite fickle. For example, if you tie your self-esteem to getting that job promotion, you’ll experience a small boost when you get it, but it won’t last long.

Tying your happiness to external events can also lead to behaviour which avoids failure. The key may be to think of yourself less as this C.W Lewis quote says to avoid the trap of tying your self-worth to external signals.

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” – C.W. Lewis

3) They exercise

It’s been proven over and over. Exercise will make you feel better if you stick with it. Body image improves as a result of exercise and eventually you’ll begin to experience that “exercise high” thanks to the release of endorphins. It doesn’t matter which physical activity you do, just as long as you do something.

4) They become good at something

Happy people generally have something that they’re “good at”. A skill they’ve honed over the years. People report that even though it may have been tough to improve their skills at something, they are satisfied with themselves when they look back.

The rewards of becoming great at something far outweigh the short-term discomfort.

5) They spend more money on experiences

According to a fair amount of research, experiential purchases tend to make us happier than spending money on material goods. This could be because experiences are something you’ll remember forever, they’re social and they’re unique. Nobody in the world will have the same exact experience you had.

6) They don’t ignore negative emotions

Yes, it’s common for most of us to resist emotions like sadness. But the truth you need sadness if you’re going to have happiness. And resisting these emotions will only turn into something more ugly down the road. Perhaps master Buddhist Pema Chödrön says it best:

“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”

7) They are busy, but not rushed

Research shows that if you constantly feel rushed, then you’ll feel miserable. On the other hand, studies suggest that have nothing to do can also takes its toll.

The best is when you’re living a productive life but at a comfortable pace. Meaning: You should be expanding your comfort zone, but not so much that you feel overwhelmed. The best advice here is to say no to things that you’re not excited about, and yes to things that you can say “hell yeah!” to.

For all book lovers please visit my friend’s website.
URL: http://www.romancewithbooks.com

How Anger and Other Negative Emotions Affect Your Body


Have you ever been so angry that your face turns red, your body starts shaking, or you feel like you just want to hit something?

You can imagine anger like a volcano, building up pressure until the top just blows off. Or, if you’re like me, maybe you remember Bugs Bunny cartoons and watching the characters blow steam out of their ears. Lol!

When we experience the emotions of anger, there’s actually a whole series of biological effects that take place in the body. Here’s a really cool 2 1/2-minute video on the science of anger.

Anger is a natural emotion and it should be acknowledged. It can also be a catalyst for positive changes, like when we see an injustice that should be righted, when we witness another being hurt, or maybe if we’ve been taken advantage of.

But when we hold on to this emotion, or if we are quick to anger all of the time (like someone cutting you off in traffic) it can actually be toxic and degrading to our overall health.

That’s why we need the proper tools to release it, and to bring our bodies back into balance.

If you’d like some help with releasing anger, I encourage you to check out this Tapping Meditation. It’s great to use in the moment, and when used repeatedly, it can train your brain and your body to be less prone to anger.

 

For all book lovers please visit my friend’s website.
URL: http://www.romancewithbooks.com

6 brutally honest reasons why your intentions don’t matter, but your actions do


In the world I live in, intentions mean very little. Your actions do, though.

This seems obvious. We’re living during a time of constant propaganda and lies, so it makes sense to judge people based on what they do rather than what they say or intend to do.

We could take this further.

What matters to me even more so than your actions is the consequences of your actions. This means that intentions do matter, but only insofar as they cause you to engage in actions that make your life and the lives of people around you better.

Below I’ve shared 7 reasons why your actions are way more important than your intentions. But first, I want to share what provoked this article.

Sam Harris: The podcaster who believes what you think matters more than what you do

Seeing as I think it’s fairly obvious that actions matter more than intentions, I was surprised to discover that the American author and podcast host Sam Harris believes that “ethically speaking, intention is (nearly) the whole story.”

Harris is the author of Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion and is an incredibly popular modern day public intellectual. He’s followed by millions of people.

I encountered Harris’s perspective on intentions in his fascinating email exchange with Noam Chomsky.

Harris tried to argue that Chomsky has never thought about the ethical importance of intentions when it comes to American foreign policy. Harris suggested that the 9/11 terrorist attacks (killing several thousand people) were far worse than Bill Clinton’s bombing of a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory (resulting in the deaths of over 10,000 people), because of the difference of intentions.

Here’s what Harris said:

“What did the U.S. government think it was doing when it sent cruise missiles into Sudan? Destroying a chemical weapons site used by Al Qaeda. Did the Clinton administration intend to bring about the deaths of thousands of Sudanese children? No.”

The families of the tens of thousands of people killed by Clinton’s bombing would unlikely be comforted with the knowledge that Clinton’s intentions were pure.

Chomsky was brutal in his response to Harris (and I encourage you to read the dialogue in full). He wrote that if Harris had have done some more research, he would have discovered that in fact Chomsky has spent decades considering the intentions of foreign powers in their imperial acts:

“You would have discovered that I also reviewed the substantial evidence about the very sincere intentions of Japanese fascists while they were devastating China, Hitler in the Sudetenland and Poland, etc. There is at least as much reason to suppose that they were sincere as Clinton was when he bombed al-Shifa. Much more so in fact. Therefore, if you believe what you are saying, you should be justifying their actions as well.”

Can you imagine the outcry if we were asked to judge Nazi Germany on the consequences of their actions based on the intentions of Hitler?

This for me strikes to the heart of what’s wrong in the modern day and age.

We’re so quick to justify our own worldview based on intentions rather than the actions we’re carrying out. It’s most pronounced in the political landscape, where politicians will say one thing and then go ahead and do another.

But rather than judge something based on ideology (or professed intentions), we should instead examine the consequences that result from actions.

I think that in general we are so focused on our intentions and don’t pay enough attention to what we’re actually doing with our lives.

Having good intentions is an important part of the story; but our intentions don’t interact with the physical world. They don’t shape society, culture and the planet.

Our actions do.

It’s time to start living our lives based on our actions and not our intentions.

6 reasons to start focusing on your actions right now

Here are 7 reasons to start focusing on your actions right now, as reported by Paul Hudson.

1. You’re defined by how you treat people, not by how you justify your treatment of them

Just as every government has an ideology that drives justification of its policies, we also have our own narratives for why we treat people in certain ways.

Yet these narratives change over time. But the way we treat people will live on.

2. You’re defined by what you pursue in life, not by your reasons for pursuing them

I used to fall into this trap in the early days of building Ideapod. I would tell everyone that we were building a place to organize the world’s collective intelligence so that ideas could be better put to use. I even used to speak about upgrading human consciousness (without really knowing what that even means).

Now, I’m much happier to be judged on what I’m actually in life as opposed to the reasons for why it mattered. It’s incredibly liberating and has given me extra freedom to get things done.

3. You’re defined by the people you surround yourself with, not by your excuses for keeping the wrong people around

This was a hard lesson to learn. Over the last few years, I consciously made sure that the people I spend time with shared my values about actions mattering more than intentions.

It created a big shift. My friends now are the kinds of people who get things done rather than constantly talk about getting things done.

I had many excuses for keeping the wrong people around me. Usually these excuses were tied to my reasons for what I was pursuing. Once I let go of these reasons, I didn’t need to make any excuses for the people in my life.

4. You’re defined by your beliefs, not by why you believe them

It matters way more what you believe than the reason you believe something. You can’t live life justifying your beliefs by explaining that your parents taught you something, or that’s how you were educated. You are an individual and you have the autonomy to change what you believe.

5. You’re defined by the way you love, not how you feel when you love

The shaman Rudá Iandé said to me once that his greatest moments of love didn’t come from the way he felt, but from how he acted in certain situations.

This was something I needed to hear. As I’ve written about before, I’m 36 and still single. I feel like this fairy tale emotion of love is absent from my life.

But when I look back at how I treat people, I can see that the love is there (and sometimes it’s not – I’m working on this!). It’s there because it’s actions of love that matter far more than how it feels.

6. You’re defined by the life you create, not by the excuses you manage to adopt along the way

Nothing defines you more than the life you have created for yourself. It is the sum of all your creative expressions and acts, your passions, your beliefs and your choices.

Despite what Sam Harris suggests, it doesn’t matter what you intended to create. It does matter what happened from your actions.

 

For all book lovers please visit my friend’s website.
URL: http://www.romancewithbooks.com

5 ways to deal with a narcissist once and for all


A narcissist is a unique and challenging type of personality that can make you want to scream if you encounter one.

Not only are narcissists profoundly obsessed with themselves, but they also can’t understand when others are not equally obsessed.

Narcissists can be especially difficult to deal with if they are members of your family. It’s hard to confront someone who you are close with, but when it comes down to it, it’s either them or you, and believe us, you don’t want to have to deal with a narcissist any longer than you have to.

So suck it up, speak your truth, and make a plan on how to deal with a narcissist with these helpful tips.

1) Know That it’s an Ongoing Battle

Here’s the thing about dealing with a narcissist: you are in the tough spot of being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

If you don’t speak to the narcissist in your life, you continue to suffer their wrath; but if you do speak up, be ready to incur that wrath.

Just understand that saying what you think is important to any relationship, so whether or not it causes problems between you, just know that it can’t be worse than it already is now.

2) Take Their Power Away

One of the hardest part about dealing with a narcissist is that they take a lot of your power away.

They might not even mean to do it, but we allow people’s thoughts and opinions to take hold of us and it can cause us to limit ourselves because of it.

If you want to know how to deal with a narcissist, don’t allow their words to have power over you.

3) Smile and Nod: How to Deal with a Narcissist Effectively

If your efforts to speak to the narcissist in your life have gone unattended, just resolve to let them say what they need to say – sometimes it’s like these people are going to explode if someone isn’t paying attention to them – and smile and nod.

Don’t feed into their nonsense and don’t offer any advice or words of wisdom. If you haven’t been able to break through to them in previous attempts, it’s unlikely that you will be the one to make the breakthrough with them. Just keep smiling.

4) Don’t Take it Personally

Here’s the thing: narcissists are all about themselves. If they say or do something to you, it’s likely that they actually don’t mean to hurt you, but they mean to raise themselves up.

So don’t take it personally if you are suddenly offended by what they say to you. Remember that many people who are narcissistic suffer from depression, poor self-esteem, and come from a string of attempts to gain control over their life without success.

They project that failure on other people and they try to make it seem like they are doing better than everyone else.

When you look close, you can see that these people are barely hanging on, so cut everyone some slack, including yourself, and just let it go.

However, if you decide to speak up against the narcissist in your life, drawing attention to them when they offend you is probably the best way to get them to see that they are hurting real people in their lives.

5) Cut Them Loose

If you have tried to deal with a narcissist in your life and it hasn’t resulted in any relief for you, it might be time just to let them go.

Sure, they’ll try like hell to stay in your life, but you can’t let them drag you down with them.

They are a walking, talking, ball of sadness and bad attitude and you don’t need any of that in your life.

While you might feel guilty for cutting ties with a narcissist at first, soon you’ll be feeling lighter and more free than you have in a long time.

And, here’s the thing: they aren’t going to care. As long as someone – anyone – is paying attention to them at every turn, you won’t be missed.

That’s just the reality of living with a narcissist in your life. So get them out of your life as soon as you can so you can get on with your life in a way that doesn’t leave you feeling like you’ve been in a tailspin having an argument with a brick wall for days.

Save yourself the trouble. Walk away.

 

For all book lovers please visit my friend’s website.
URL: http://www.romancewithbooks.com

How to be your own guru and find the answers within


The Chinese philosopher and writer Lao Tzu once said: “Care about other people’s approval and you become their prisoner.”

This has been one of the toughest lessons I’ve had to learn in life.

The quote suggests that what you make of your life is up to you.

You need to take responsibility for your life. You need to do this for yourself. When you care about people’s approval, you give away your power.

It’s hard to take responsibility for your own life. The way to do this is to recognize that the answers lie within you.

Rezzan Hussey has written a brilliant book explaining exactly how you can take responsibility for your own life. In My Own Guru Hussey provides a universal process for anyone who wants to live a better life through self-knowledge.

This book is a unique contribution to the self-development genre. Most self-books claim to have the perfect solution for whatever challenges you face. All you have to do is believe what they’re telling you and you’ll soon see massive changes in your life.

But the problem I find is that these books inadvertently ask us to find the solution outside ourselves. Hussey, on the other hand, focuses her book entirely on helping the reader to find the answers within.

As Hussey says:

“Personally, I have found it challenging to avoid using personal growth material like I’ve used other things: as a way to stay fascinated rather than to implement. There is a gulf between knowing and being, and in that gap lies our freedom.”

The rewards of knowing yourself better are immense, according to Hussey:

“Knowing yourself better really does bear remarkable fruits. For instance, now I know the true meaning of emotional self-reliance; not the kind where you’re avoiding people for fear of being hurt. I can create my own happiness and contentment on demand. I’ve basically reclaimed my power – the power I did not know I had given away. I have become my own guru, and I believe that anyone can by changing the way they pay attention.”

My Own Guru distils complex ideas into accessible takeaways. Although Rezzan goes into impressive detail about human psychology, everything she writes has a practical element to it. Not only will you learn why understanding yourself is so important, but also exactly how to do it. It’s also fascinating and at times humorous read about how the ideas in the book have personally helped in her life.

One chapter I particularly liked was on responsibility, one of three “reality red pills” (along with mindfulness and acceptance). She outlines the ability we all have to adjust our perceptions of important events in our lives. I think we can all relate to having had ‘negative’ experiences, but how negative these really are is just a matter of perspective. Re-framing these events, as Hussey suggests, is a pretty powerful thing to do.

I also liked where Hussey touched on a few benefits of “knowing yourself” that are less apparent (at least they were for me). One that stands out was how self knowledge can make us more compassionate and better placed to benefit those we care about. In other words, becoming self-aware isn’t just an exercise in self development, it helps us help others too. I like the sound of that.

My Own Guru provides a peek into the author herself. You’ll discover that Rezzan’s a mid-30s, yoga loving, blogger and writer. She’s been on a decade long and multi-country journey to understand herself better.

This book is a delightful culmination of her (brief) lifetime of learning and caring.

 

For all book lovers please visit my friend’s website.
URL: http://www.romancewithbooks.com