The 5 Causes of Suffering According to Buddhism and the Ultimate Way to Overcome Them


We all encounter mental roadblocks in life. To feelings of self-doubt to anxiety and depression, mental hindrances can be extremely tough to deal with.

However, we’re not the first human beings that suffered from such obstacles.

Buddhist monks and philosophers have studied and practiced the art of freeing the mind from these negative emotions that tie us to what they call the Wheel of Suffering.

They found 5 common hindrances to the mind.

We’ve gone through each of them below and we’ve also discussed how we can actually go about overcoming these obstacles for a peaceful and happy life.

1) The Mental Hindrance of Desire for Sensing.

What is it:

The hindrance of sensory desire is latching onto thoughts or feelings based on the pleasures of the five senses.

Buddhist master Traleg Kyabgon explains it best:

“This term alludes to the mind’s tendency to latch on to something that attracts it–a thought, a visual object, or a particular emotion. When we allow the mind to indulge in such attractions, we lose our concentration. So we need to apply mindfulness and be aware of how the mind operates; we don’t necessarily have to suppress all these things arising in the mind, but we should take notice of them and see how the mind behaves, how it automatically grabs onto this and that.”

How to overcome it:

To overcome the hindrance of sensory desire, the meditator must use mindfulness and acknowledge the hindrance. Then they must observe the hindrance and experience it fully. Once experienced fully, the meditator must contemplate the impermanence of the pleasant desire. Buddhist master Ajahn Brahmavamso emphasizes the technique for letting go of concern for the body and five senses completely:

“In meditation, one transcends sensory desire for the period by letting go of concern for this body and its five sense activity. Some imagine that the five senses are there to serve and protect the body, but the truth is that the body is there to serve the five senses as they play in the world ever seeking delight. Indeed, the Lord Buddha once said, “The five senses ARE the world” and to leave the world, to enjoy the other worldly bliss of Jhana, one must give up for a time ALL concern for the body and its five senses.”

2) The Mental Hindrance of Aversion and Ill-Will.

What is it:

This involves latching onto thoughts or feelings based on hostility, anger, resentment, bitterness etc.

Ajahn Brahmavamso states:

“Ill will refers to the desire to punish, hurt or destroy. It includes sheer hatred of a person, or even a situation, and it can generate so much energy that it is both seductive and addictive. At the time, it always appears justified for such is its power that it easily corrupts our ability to judge fairly. It also includes ill will towards oneself, otherwise known as guilt, which denies oneself any possibility of happiness. In meditation, ill will can appear as dislike towards the meditation object itself, rejecting it so that one’s attention is forced to wander elsewhere.”

How to overcome it:

According to Ajahn Brahmavamso, meditation on loving-kindness is crucial:

“Ill will is overcome by applying Metta, loving kindness. When it is ill will towards a person, Metta teaches one to see more in that person than all that which hurts you, to understand why that person hurt you (often because they were hurting intensely themselves), and encourages one to put aside one’s own pain to look with compassion on the other.”

3) The Mental Hindrance of Lethargy and Laziness.

What is it:

This is characterized as a morbid state of lacking energy and desire for wholesome activity.

Ajahn Brahmavamso states:

“Sloth and torpor refers to that heaviness of body and dullness of mind which drag one down into disabling inertia and thick depression. […] In meditation, it causes weak and intermittent mindfulness which can even lead to falling asleep in meditation without even realising it!”

How to overcome it:

To overcome laziness, we need to use our energy sources. Ajahn Brahmavamso says:

“Sloth and torpor is overcome by rousing energy. Energy is always available but few know how to turn on the switch, as it were. Setting a goal, a reasonable goal, is a wise and effective way to generate energy, as is deliberately developing interest in the task at hand. A young child has a natural interest, and consequent energy, because its world is so new. Thus, if one can learn to look at one’s life, or one’s meditation, with a ‘beginner’s mind’ one can see ever new angles and fresh possibilities which keep one distant from sloth and torpor, alive and energetic.”

4) The Mental Hindrance of Restlessness and Regret.

What is it: 

This refers to the mind being agitated and unable to settle down. Ajahn Brahmavamso explains it best:

“Restlessness [uddhacca] refers to a mind which is like a monkey, always swinging on to the next branch, never able to stay long with anything. It is caused by the fault-finding state of mind which cannot be satisfied with things as they are, and so has to move on to the promise of something better, forever just beyond. […] Remorse [kukkucca] refers to a specific type of restlessness which is the kammic effect of one’s misdeeds.”

How to overcome it:

Gil Fronsdal says it’s about understanding what makes you restless and accepting it and taking action:

“[There are] a variety of ways to engage restlessness, be present for it. […] [One is] learning, reflecting, meditating and contemplating what the nature of restlessness is. […] There might be a really good cause for you to be restless. […] Maybe you haven’t paid your taxes in ten years. […] [In this case] you don’t need meditation, you need to pay your taxes. You don’t use meditation to run away from the real issues of your life. […] Sometimes what’s needed is to really look and understand are there root causes for being restless.”


5) The Mental Hindrance of Doubt and Uncertainty.

What is it: 

This involves self-doubt and not truly understanding oneself.

Ajahn Brahmavamso states:

“Doubt refers to the disturbing inner questions at a time when one should be silently moving deeper. Doubt can question one’s own ability “Can I do This?”, or question the method “Is this the right way?”, or even question the meaning “What is this?”. It should be remembered that such questions are obstacles to meditation because they are asked at the wrong time and thus become an intrusion, obscuring one’s clarity.”

How to overcome it:

According to Ajahn Brahmavamso, this is overcome by having clear instructions and a way to move forward. He says:

“Such doubt is overcome by gathering clear instructions, having a good map, so that one can recognise the subtle landmarks in the unfamiliar territory of deep meditation and so know which way to go. Doubt in one’s ability is overcome by nurturing self-confidence with a good teacher. A meditation teacher is like a coach who convinces the sports team that they can succeed.”

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These 4 common beliefs are destroying your life. Here’s how to change them.


When we evaluate the little things that make our day a little less perfect, we usually turn to external factors like someone else’s tardiness. Or traffic. Or how long it takes for your food to order at your favorite restaurant.

In reality, these things exist by themselves. Traffic is always going to be there and what’s really annoying you isn’t the traffic itself but how it’s affecting you.

Specifically, how it’s affecting your perception of time. This is more true of someone’s tardiness. You expect them to be on time and when they aren’t, you get incredibly annoyed.

This psychological tendency is readily explained by Epictetus who said: “People are not disturbed, but by the views they take of them.”

Traffic is a universal element. It’s always going to exist, even if we don’t want it to.

So it’s still puzzling why people get pissed off at traffic even though they have been traveling the same road for years and years on end.

You know you’re bound to get in stuck in traffic so why are you spending so much energy getting annoyed by it?

A lot of this frustration lies in our inherent mindset.

A psychologist named Albert Ellis summed up the top four mindsets we have that can inhibit the way we interact with the world.

He says what we think of the world causes a huge part of the unhappiness and disdain we feel on a daily basis. It’s problematic because these thoughts aren’t conscious. They lurk within our minds and affect our consciousness.

Don’t know what they are? Well, this article is about pointing them out:

1) “I’m like this because of my past”

Yes, you have been wronged in the past. Yes, you have been under some sort of traumatic incident but that doesn’t mean it should define who you become in the future.

Let’s say you were bullied when you were 12 years old, had no friends, and were made to feel completely useless.

A lot of people tend to use this event in their life as a loop to continue their current trajectory.

The only problem is, you’re not 12 anymore. You’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s, or even 50s as an adult who should be able to recognize the role of agency in his or her life.

Past problems should be exactly what they are: left in the past. There’s no wrong in acknowledging it but living by it, shaping your life around it is the least progressive way of dealing with these things.

2) “Perfection is Key”

This isn’t exactly a subtle mindset since a lot of people like to declare that they are perfectionists in one way or another.

The sneaky part about this mindset, though, is that we expect that we are perfect. Sure, we make mistakes and we acknowledge that we aren’t perfect. Or at least, that’s what we like to say.

When things get awry, we tend to get disappointed in ourselves and create a big fuss over what should have beens and could have beens.

If we truly, deeply realized that perfection shouldn’t be our guiding light in everything we do, our approach in life wouldn’t be so tense all the time.

3) “Anxiety Eases The Journey”

Worrying about things is fine, and we’re pretty open about that too. But there comes a time when worrying becomes a drug, so much so that we can’t help but be anxious about a possibly insignificant event in our lives.

It’s hard to catch ourselves and will our minds to stop worrying. Ellis believes that worrying is an odd habit that encourages people to keep thinking because it subconsciously makes us feel better.

We think that by obsessively dreading an event or a responsibility, we are preparing ourselves for the better.

By replaying the same upsetting scenario in our heads, we are getting our minds acquainted with the stress.

Instead of spending 24 hours worrying, why not allocate 30 to 45 minutes to do nothing but worry?

This study acknowledges that moderated anxiety can actually be a healthy way of releasing stress.

As a solution, the experts are suggesting that people should schedule their worrying. This way, they can let off some steam without expending a lot of time and energy on it.

4) “This Shouldn’t Happen”

The traffic scenario is perhaps best explained by this mindset. Although we recognize that traffic is a part of our lives and will inevitably add a couple of hours to our daily travel, we still get pissed when it does happen.

The reason? Because a little voice in our heads tell us that this shouldn’t be happening to us.

Whenever something inconvenient comes our way, our reaction is to be pissed. The inconvenience is rooted in our subtle belief that these interruptions shouldn’t happen to us.

We could acknowledge that the world isn’t a fair place but we can’t help but hope that the world would be fair to us.

That’s not to say you should settle on what life throws at you. By all means, do what you can to improve your situation. The point is to know the difference between a circumstance and just plain coincidence so that you may pick your battles accordingly.

Australian Firefighters Pose With Adorable Animals For 2019 Charity Calendar And The Pictures Are Hot!


The profession of a firefighter is already honorable by nature, yet the men from Australian Firefighters Calendar want to go that extra mile for a genuinely good cause. Ever since 1993, they’ve been hosting their fund-raising calendar project for charities such as the Children’s Hospital Foundation.


After 17 days of photography, the final photos are put together to create the Australian Firefighters Calendar for fans across the world.
This year the Australian Firefighters Calendar will be donating to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital. Scroll down to check out the calendar’s epic pictures:

Firefighters Pose With Adorable Animals For 2019 Charity Calendar And The Pictures Are Hot!

Firefighters Pose With Adorable Animals For 2019 Charity Calendar And The Pictures Are Hot!

Dealing with Stress at workplace


Stress at the workplace is common for an employee. Each employee is facing stress at the workplace, but the amount of stress is different from individual to individual and situation to situation. An incident for an employee may cause stress, but the same incident for other employees may not be the cause of stress.

Stress at the workplace not only affects the job satisfaction and performance of an employee, but stress also affects personal life, health and relationship of an employee.

What is stress?

“Stress is a reaction people have to pressure placed upon them and occurs when pressures exceed the individual’s ability to cope”

Stress may be positive or negative, if due to stress the performance of the individual is increased then it is positive stress, but due to stress when the performance is decreased it is negative stress. Stress is a normal part of life and every individual is facing stress in routine life. Stress has both implications, if stress is positive then it is good but if stress is negative then it is harmful. In other words, stress in a certain limit can be good but if stress exceeds the limit then it becomes harmful.

Factors Influencing Organizational /Work Stress.

The following factors directly or indirectly affect the stress level of employees.

  • Workload

The higher workload to the individual employee is a major factor for stress. If an employee is unable to complete the given work in a time frame, the level of stress increases.

  • Working Hour.

Too many working hours or odd working hours may become the major factor of stress.

  • Environment hazards

Some working places are prone to environmental hazards and adversely affect the health of an employee, for example, the chemical industry.

  • Poor Infrastructure at working place

Some working places do not have proper infrastructure facilities such as ventilation, proper seating arrangement, drinking water, toilet etc. which may become the cause of stress.

  • The drive for success

The employee may have a very high drive for success. Sometimes they cannot bear the little failure and create stress for them.

  • Changing work patterns.

Sometimes employees are used to doing work in a certain pattern but if there is a change in working patterns initially employee suffer stress.

  • Little job control.

Sometimes employees do not have any control over his job or have very little control which can also lead to stress.

  • Poor communication.

In an organization, proper communication is very important. Conflict will arise due to miss communication or poor communication, which may lead to stress in employees.

  • Lack of support.

In the organization, proper coordination and support are required. If there is no support from the superior or colleague, then an organization cannot achieve the targets which result in stress.

Early Warning Signs of Work Stress

There are various physical and mental signs of stress such as Headache, sleep disturbances, difficulty in concentrating, short temper, job dissatisfaction, low morale etc.

Stress Management Strategies

Stress can become a silent killer if it exceeds level for more time. So one should identify the stress and if it is negative for a long time, a remedy to control that stress must be searched out. Following are some strategies to control stress.

Recognize the Problem

The most important point is to recognize the source of negative stress. This is not an admission of weakness or inability to cope, but it is a way to identify the problem and plan measures to overcome it.

Stress Management Techniques

  • Change your thinking
  • Change your behaviour
  • Change your lifestyle

Change Your Thinking.

The best way to minimize the level of stress is to change the way you think about the incident. One can change the thinking by way of

(1)     Re-framing

Reframing is a technique to change the way you look at things in order to feel better about them.

(2)    Positive Thinking

Here one should think about the positive aspects of incidents and focus on strength.

 Change Behaviour

A person should express their thoughts, feelings and beliefs directly to others

  • Get Organized

Here one has to prioritize their objectives, duties and activities and make them manageable and achievable.

  • Ventilation
  • One has to talk with friends/colleagues about the problems.
  • Humour

Laughter is the best medicine and best way to relieve stress.

  • Diversion and Distraction

Get away from things that bother you.

 Change Your Lifestyle

  • Diet: Balanced diet is very important for healthy living. One should have proper calories, nutrition and vitamins. The healthy body can resist the stress easily.
  • Smoking and alcohol: One should avoid alcohol and smoking from routine life.
  • Exercise: Exercise can help to lower your stress level. Regular exercise gives positive effects on mood, resulting from lowering stress level.
  • Leisure and relaxation: Going out with family in natural places such as forest, beach, mountains etc. reduce the stress level.

 

 

To conclude one can say that stress is a part of life, we need to identify the sources of stress and need to manage stress so that one can have better performance and more productivity

15 New Year’s Resolutions Every Person Should Actually Make


15 New Year’s Resolutions Every Person Should Actually Make

Making New Year’s resolutions and staying committed to them can be a challenging thing for a lot of people. And even though I think it’s important to have a vision, a clear direction or goal before starting the New Year, all these New Year’s resolution lists can create a lot of stress and anxiety in people, causing them to feel disappointed when things don’t go as planned. And that’s the reason why I created this list of 15 New Year’s Resolutions Every Person Should Make.

This is a different kind of New Year’s Resolutions List, a list that’s meant to help you do the things you want to do, while at the same time learning to be calm, flexible, open and receptive when things don’t go as planned. Because you and I know that life doesn’t always go as planned, and that’s okay.

15 New Year’s Resolutions Every Person Should Actually Make

1. Be open and receptive.

Be open and receptive to whatever life sends your way.

2. Allow.

Allow life to shape you and to mold you in a majestical and graceful way.

3. Surrender.

Surrender to what is.

4. Let go.

Let go of fixed plans and concepts and allow events to follow their natural course.

5. Accept.

Accept life unconditionally and trust that it’s all happening for your highest good.

6. Embrace.

Embrace with grace all that you face.

7. Be soft.

Be soft, fluid and yielding, just like water is, and you will overcome whatever is rigid and hard.

8. Trust.

Trust the wisdom of life more than your own wisdom.

9. Treasure the moment.

Treasure the moment. Don’t let it pass by you unnoticed.

10. Be of good cheer.

Be of good cheer, there is always another way.

11. Where there is no love, put love.

Follow the advice of St. John of the Cross, and “Where there is no love, put love — and you will find love.”

12. Give thanks for all things.

Cultivate the habit of giving thanks for every experience and every interaction life sends your way, either good or bad because all of them are meant to contribute to your growth and evolution.

13. Speak from the heart.

Speak with love, speak from the heart. Speak in such a way that people love to listen to you. And when people talk, listen with your heart. Listen in such a way that they all love to speak to you.

14. Work with love.

Whatever you do in life, work at it with all your heart. Work at it with love, passion, and dedication, “as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” ~ (NIV) Colossians 3:23

15. Seek to become all that life created you to become.

Be who life created you to be, not who the world thinks you should be. “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” ~ Catherine of Siena

Happy new year in advance! May 2018 bring you all that your heart and soul desire, and may you receive all your blessings, obvious or disguised, with grace and gratitude 🙂

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Once you get rid of these 25 toxic thoughts and attachments, you’ll have a much better 2019


So I know you’re probably thinking…

There’s no way I’ll ever be happy.

And look, I know that feeling.

Seriously, 3 years ago I was a complete mess.

But now? I’m more peaceful and happy than I’ve ever been.

And check this out: In the past 3.5 years I’ve achieved more than ever been able to achieve in my life.

Let me guess though…

You’re still holding onto regrets of the past and you’re worried about what the future will hold.

And as you know, without enjoying the present moment, you can’t be happy.

Seriously, you can’t enjoy actually living when you can’t live presently.

You can’t get rid of anxiety and depression and finally experience some peace.

Genuinely, you can’t enjoy the beauty of life if your mind is focused on the past or the future.

So, what can you do?

Get rid of all the shit.

You see, it’s attachments and negative thoughts that are keeping you from enjoying the present moment.

Relationships that aren’t helpful to you, desiring more money or materials, hoping that eventually things will change…

It’s this kind of thinking that’s stopping you from living the life you want.

So below, I’m going to go over everything you need to get rid of in 2019 so you can finally just live in the present moment and be happy.

Check them out:

1) You Should Wait Until Tomorrow

We all know that at some point life will end, but for some reason we choose to not think about it often. As depressing as the subject is, it’s something that should be regularly considered.

Some of us have had a friend or family member suddenly taken from us without warning. This can really snap you back into the reality that sometimes tomorrow won’t come for all of us.

Because of this, you’ll eventually learn that tomorrow may or may not come and that every moment should be cherished and appreciated.

2) All the Distractions of Life are Worth Your Time

In today’s world, we’re all glued to our phone. Not only is it unhealthy, but we use it as a distraction from the world around us.

Anyone can communicate with you immediately and you have a world of information in the palm of your hand.

But does that all really matter as much as we think? As you get older, you’ll realize that all those missed text messages and social media notifications really didn’t matter. Making actual memories is what mattered most.



3) Staying Busy is Important

It’s good to be busy once in a while. Time goes by faster, our minds are work and our wheels are spinning.

But sometimes it’s important to slow down and relax. All that rushing around and busyness isn’t really all that important. Our lives aren’t infinite and being overwhelmed everyday is no way to live.

4) Faster Is Always Better

When you’re young, at the time it seems better to work quickly and efficiently. When you’re living this way, you’re forgetting to stop and smell the roses. You don’t have to do everything at once. Sometimes it’s best to slow down and just take one thing at a time. When you’re older, you appreciate every moment and what it has to offer.

In our younger years we tend to think that we’re the center of all that exists. We only see things from a certain angle and are only concerned with how that will affect us and only us.

We tend to put ourselves first instead of thinking about how things affect those around us.

Instead of asking “What about me?” start asking “What about you?” In our older years we seem to be more charitable with our time and also more fulfilled.

5) Everyone Else Knows What You Need.

Your voice matters, so why do you listen to everyone else so much? Your life is your own and when you’re young you trust everyone else to know what’s best for you.

This is a good way to start going down the wrong path and farther away from the things you truly want. When you’re older you tend to start listening to that voice in your head and figuring out what it truly is that you want!

6) It’s Okay to Hold Grudges.

This one is a big one. Holding grudges does nothing but hurt the person holding them. Forgiveness allows you to let go of any hurt or lasting pain you might have.

Sure, someone may have wronged you in your life, but that doesn’t mean you should be angry for the rest of time. It’s easier to let go of the past when you’re older and just focus on the good things to come.

7) You Can Change Other People

If you continue to think that you have the power to influence or change other people, you are dead wrong.

Many people waste time and money and energy and resources on those around them trying to make them someone they are not.

If you have ever had a bad boyfriend or neurotic girlfriend and you tried to change them, you know it is impossible.

But we don’t learn from those kinds of mistakes. If you want to live a better life, accept people for who they are, or move on.

8) You Are The Victim

If you like to wallow in your sorrows and draw attention to yourself because of the things that have happened in the past, then you are never going to grow into the person you are meant to become.

Playing the victim creates a sense of drama in our lives that we think is necessary, but the truth is that while bad things happen, what we think about them is on us.

We can’t control everything, but we can always control how we react to situations.

9) The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side

If you live in a constant state of wishing for the future, your life is going to be over before you know it.

Rather than worry about how green the grass is on the other side of the fence, tend to your own grass once in a while and see how your life starts to change.

10) Putting Expectations on Others

If you have expectations of people, they will let you down. While this is not always true, it can be the biggest source of frustration for people, especially where family is concerned.

We expect family to help us and be there for us, but when they let us down, it can take a long time to get over it.

Rather than set yourself up for disappointment, stop putting expectations on those around you.

11) You Need Someone To Complete Your Life

If you think your life is sad and terrible because you don’t have a significant other, think again.



There are many great things about you and your life that deserve your attention. So what if you don’t have a partner?

What can you do to make your life better than it was yesterday? How is sharing your life with someone going to make it any better?

12) You Care What People Think

If you spend time worrying about what people think, you’ll never get anything done. Most people are so busy worrying about what others think of them; they don’t even have time to worry about you.

Do what you want and need to do and the rest will fall into place.

13) You Are Unprepared for the Future

If you live in constant fear of what life is going to throw at you, you’ll never live your life to its fullest potential.

If you feel unprepared for the future, start working through some things to get ready for it, but don’t forget to enjoy the here and now.

14) Money Will Make You Happy

Sure, money can buy you a lot of things, but it won’t make you happy. If you spend your life chasing after money, you’ll end up a rich old person with a lot of regrets.

Look for meaning in your life in other places and find ways to measure your success in ways that have nothing to do with money. You’ll be happier for it.

15) Your Past Determines Your Future

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you need to be the person you were yesterday.

Life changes and evolves all the time, and you have the privilege to become whoever you want to be.

16) You Don’t Need to Change

If you think that you are perfect just the way you are, that’s great. But there are probably areas of your life that could use a tune-up.

If you thought that you’ve done all you want to do and accomplished all you want to accomplish, then set some new goals.

Life is best lived when we are growing and learning. Staying still doesn’t give us any pleasure.

17) You Are Always Right

If you need to be right all the time, you can be. But you won’t have many friends or family members that want to be around you.

It’s okay to be wrong, and in fact, if you are always right, how can you learn anything new?

Consider hearing others out when they talk or ask questions to understand the other side of the story when one is presented to you.



It makes life more interesting than walking around thinking you know everything.

18) Dwelling on the past and worrying about the future

This one takes huge mental effort, but it’s important to realize that the present moment is the only thing that exists.

Whenever I noticed myself dwelling on the past, I anchored my mind to something that was happening right now, such as my breathing.

Whenever I was looking to the future in an anxious way, I did the same thing. Eventually it became more natural to fully live in the present.

19) Trying to live up to people’s expectations

It’s important to have your own standards to hold yourself by. For example, I always strive to try my best, help others when I can and hold my word.

But besides that, I can’t do anything else. And worrying about what other people think of you won’t help anything.

20) Comparing yourself to others

Again, this really doesn’t serve any purpose. If you’re trying your best and sticking to your own values, then there’s nothing else you can do.

And anyway, how could you possibly compare? We’re all unique with incredibly different circumstances.

21) Constantly complaining

Let’s be honest, nobody likes a complainer. So don’t be one!

But once you make this a goal, you will begin to notice that you do complain. So my strategy to stop myself was to give a dollar to anyone I was complaining to.

Nothing stops a habit like losing money!

22) Being overly self-critical

Just like above, if you’re trying your best and sticking to your values then you don’t need to criticize yourself. All it does is reduce your self-confidence. Be proud of who you are and how far you’ve come.

23) Trying to be perfect

This is a huge one that I’m sure many of you can relate to. Perfection can be a big cause of depression and anxiety. But no one will ever be perfect. And trying to be perfect will mean that you you’ll be afraid of trying anything new.

Remember, flaws are what make us human!

24) Holding grudges

No one is responsible for my life but me. And why would you want to hold that negative energy inside you, anyway?

25) Trying to avoid mistakes

Mistakes are scary, especially when you’re trying to be perfect. But mistakes and failures are actually a beautiful thing. They allow you to learn and grow. Remove mistakes and failures from your vocabulary and replace them with lessons.

The Day Dostoyevsky Discovered the Meaning of Life in a Dream


“And it is so simple… You will instantly find how to live.”

 

One November night in the 1870s, legendary Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky (November 11, 1821–February 9, 1881) discovered the meaning of life in a dream — or, at least, the protagonist in his final short story did. The piece, which first appeared in the altogether revelatory A Writer’s Diary (public library) under the title “The Dream of a Queer Fellow” and was later published separately as The Dream of a Ridiculous Man, explores themes similar to those in Dostoyevsky’s 1864 novel Notes from the Underground, considered the first true existential novel. True to Stephen King’s assertion that “good fiction is the truth inside the lie,” the story sheds light on Dostoyevsky’s personal spiritual and philosophical bents with extraordinary clarity — perhaps more so than any of his other published works. The contemplation at its heart falls somewhere between Tolstoy’s tussle with the meaning of life and Philip K. Dick’s hallucinatory exegesis.

Portrait of Fyodor Dostoyevsky by Vasily Perov, 1871

The story begins with the narrator wandering the streets of St. Petersburg on “a gloomy night, the gloomiest night you can conceive,” dwelling on how others have ridiculed him all his life and slipping into nihilism with the “terrible anguish” of believing that nothing matters. He peers into the glum sky, gazes at a lone little star, and contemplates suicide; two months earlier, despite his destitution, he had bought an “excellent revolver” with the same intention, but the gun had remained in his drawer since. Suddenly, as he is staring at the star, a little girl of about eight, wearing ragged clothes and clearly in distress, grabs him by the arm and inarticulately begs his help. But the protagonist, disenchanted with life, shoos her away and returns to the squalid room he shares with a drunken old captain, furnished with “a sofa covered in American cloth, a table with some books, two chairs and an easy-chair, old, incredibly old, but still an easy-chair.”

As he sinks into the easy-chair to think about ending his life, he finds himself haunted by the image of the little girl, leading him to question his nihilistic disposition. Dostoyevsky writes:

I knew for certain that I would shoot myself that night, but how long I would sit by the table — that I did not know. I should certainly have shot myself, but for that little girl.

You see: though it was all the same to me, I felt pain, for instance. If any one were to strike me, I should feel pain. Exactly the same in the moral sense: if anything very pitiful happened, I would feel pity, just as I did before everything in life became all the same to me. I had felt pity just before: surely, I would have helped a child without fail. Why did I not help the little girl, then? It was because of an idea that came into my mind then. When she was pulling at me and calling to me, suddenly a question arose before me, which I could not answer. The question was an idle one; but it made me angry. I was angry because of my conclusion, that if I had already made up my mind that I would put an end to myself to-night, then now more than ever before everything in the world should be all the same to me. Why was it that I felt it was not all the same to me, and pitied the little girl? I remember I pitied her very much: so much that I felt a pain that was even strange and incredible in my situation…

It seemed clear that if I was a man and not a cipher yet, and until I was changed into a cipher, then I was alive and therefore could suffer, be angry and feel shame for my actions. Very well. But if I were to kill myself, for instance, in two hours from now, what is the girl to me, and what have I to do with shame or with anything on earth? I am going to be a cipher, an absolute zero. Could my consciousness that I would soon absolutely cease to exist, and that therefore nothing would exist, have not the least influence on my feeling of pity for the girl or on my sense of shame for the vileness I had committed?

From the moral, he veers into the existential:

It became clear to me that life and the world, as it were, depended upon me. I might even say that the world had existed for me alone. I should shoot myself, and then there would be no world at all, for me at least. Not to mention that perhaps there will really be nothing for any one after me, and the whole world, as soon as my consciousness is extinguished, will also be extinguished like a phantom, as part of my consciousness only, and be utterly abolished, since perhaps all this world and all these men are myself alone.

Beholding “these new, thronging questions,” he plunges into a contemplation of what free will really means. In a passage that calls to mind John Cage’s famous aphorism on the meaning of life — “No why. Just here.” — and George Lucas’s assertion that “life is beyond reason,” Dostoyevsky suggests through his protagonist that what gives meaning to life is life itself:

One strange consideration suddenly presented itself to me. If I had previously lived on the moon or in Mars, and I had there been dishonored and disgraced so utterly that one can only imagine it sometimes in a dream or a nightmare, and if I afterwards found myself on earth and still preserved a consciousness of what I had done on the other planet, and if I knew besides that I would never by any chance return, then, if I were to look at the moon from the earth — would it be all the same to me or not? Would I feel any shame for my action or not? The questions were idle and useless, for the revolver was already lying before me, and I knew with all my being that this thing would happen for certain: but the questions excited me to rage. I could not die now, without having solved this first. In a word, that little girl saved me, for my questions made me postpone pulling the trigger.

Just as he ponders this, the protagonist slips into sleep in the easy-chair, but it’s a sleep that has the quality of wakeful dreaming. In one of many wonderful semi-asides, Dostoyevsky peers at the eternal question of why we have dreams:

Dreams are extraordinarily strange. One thing appears with terrifying clarity, with the details finely set like jewels, while you leap over another, as though you did not notice it at all — space and time, for instance. It seems that dreams are the work not of mind but of desire, not of the head but of the heart… In a dream things quite incomprehensible come to pass. For instance, my brother died five years ago. Sometimes I see him in a dream: he takes part in my affairs, and we are very excited, while I, all the time my dream goes on, know and remember perfectly that my brother is dead and buried. Why am I not surprised that he, though dead, is still near me and busied about me? Why does my mind allow all that?

In this strange state, the protagonist dreams that he takes his revolver and points it at his heart — not his head, where he had originally intended to shoot himself. After waiting a second or two, his dream-self pulls the trigger quickly. Then something remarkable happens:

I felt no pain, but it seemed to me that with the report, everything in me was convulsed, and everything suddenly extinguished. It was terribly black all about me. I became as though blind and numb, and I lay on my back on something hard. I could see nothing, neither could I make any sound. People were walking and making a noise about me: the captain’s bass voice, the landlady’s screams… Suddenly there was a break. I am being carried in a closed coffin. I feel the coffin swinging and I think about that, and suddenly for the first time the idea strikes me that I am dead, quite dead. I know it and do not doubt it; I cannot see nor move, yet at the same time I feel and think. But I am soon reconciled to that, and as usual in a dream I accept the reality without a question.

Now I am being buried in the earth. Every one leaves me and I am alone, quite alone. I do not stir… I lay there and — strange to say — I expected nothing, accepting without question that a dead man has nothing to expect. But it was damp. I do not know how long passed — an hour, a few days, or many days. Suddenly, on my left eye which was closed, a drop of water fell, which had leaked through the top of the grave. In a minute fell another, then a third, and so on, every minute. Suddenly, deep indignation kindled in my heart and suddenly in my heart I felt physical pain. ‘It’s my wound,’ I thought. ‘It’s where I shot myself. The bullet is there.’ And all the while the water dripped straight on to my closed eye. Suddenly, I cried out, not with a voice, for I was motionless, but with all my being, to the arbiter of all that was being done to me.

“Whosoever thou art, if thou art, and if there exists a purpose more intelligent than the things which are now taking place, let it be present here also. But if thou dost take vengeance upon me for my foolish suicide, then know, by the indecency and absurdity of further existence, that no torture whatever that may befall me, can ever be compared to the contempt which I will silently feel, even through millions of years of martyrdom.”

I cried out and was silent. Deep silence lasted a whole minute. One more drop even fell. But I knew and believed, infinitely and steadfastly, that in a moment everything would infallibly change. Suddenly, my grave opened. I do not know whether it had been uncovered and opened, but I was taken by some dark being unknown to me, and we found ourselves in space. Suddenly, I saw. It was deep night; never, never had such darkness been! We were borne through space and were already far from the earth. I asked nothing of him who led me. I was proud and waited. I assured myself that I was not afraid, and my heart melted with rapture at the thought that I was not afraid. I do not remember how long we rushed through space, and I cannot imagine it. It happened as always in a dream when you leap over space and time and the laws of life and mind, and you stop only there where your heart delights.

The 1845 depiction of a galaxy that inspired Van Gogh’s ‘The Starry Night,’ from Michael Benson’s Cosmigraphics: Picturing Space Through Time

Through the thick darkness, he sees a star — the same little star he had seen before shooing the girl away. As the dream continues, the protagonist describes a sort of transcendence akin to what is experienced during psychedelic drug trips or in deep meditation states:

Suddenly a familiar yet most overwhelming emotion shook me through. I saw our sun. I knew that it could not be our sun, which had begotten our earth, and that we were an infinite distance away, but somehow all through me I recognized that it was exactly the same sun as ours, its copy and double. A sweet and moving delight echoed rapturously through my soul. The dear power of light, of that same light which had given me birth, touched my heart and revived it, and I felt life, the old life, for the first time since my death.

He finds himself in another world, Earthlike in every respect, except “everything seemed to be bright with holiday, with a great and sacred triumph, finally achieved” — a world populated by “children of the sun,” happy people whose eyes “shone with a bright radiance” and whose faces “gleamed with wisdom, and with a certain consciousness, consummated in tranquility.” The protagonist exclaims:

Oh, instantly, at the first glimpse of their faces I understood everything, everything!

Conceding that “it was only a dream,” he nonetheless asserts that “the sensation of the love of those beautiful and innocent people” was very much real and something he carried into wakeful life on Earth. Awaking in his easy-chair at dawn, he exclaims anew with rekindled gratitude for life:

Oh, now — life, life! I lifted my hands and called upon the eternal truth, not called, but wept. Rapture, ineffable rapture exalted all my being. Yes, to live…

Dostoyevsky concludes with his protagonist’s reflection on the shared essence of life, our common conquest of happiness and kindness:

All are tending to one and the same goal, at least all aspire to the same goal, from the wise man to the lowest murderer, but only by different ways. It is an old truth, but there is this new in it: I cannot go far astray. I saw the truth. I saw and know that men could be beautiful and happy, without losing the capacity to live upon the earth. I will not, I cannot believe that evil is the normal condition of men… I saw the truth, I did not invent it with my mind. I saw, saw, and her living image filled my soul for ever. I saw her in such consummate perfection that I cannot possibly believe that she was not among men. How can I then go astray? … The living image of what I saw will be with me always, and will correct and guide me always. Oh, I am strong and fresh, I can go on, go on, even for a thousand years.

[…]

And it is so simple… The one thing is — love thy neighbor as thyself — that is the one thing. That is all, nothing else is needed. You will instantly find how to live.

Want to stick to your News Year’s exercise regime? This research can help


Our New Year’s Resolution to visit the gym or do more exercise need not be a stab in the dark with the help of some clever psychology, according to a team of researchers.

The experts from The University of Manchester, Leeds Becket University and the National University of Ireland Galway researched the most effective techniques for changing adults’ physical using a concept known as self-efficacy.

The study of the concept, which refers to the belief in our ability to behave in a way that produces a specific performance and published in Annals of Behavioral Medicine, pooled the results of an analysis of 180 randomised trials.

Though it has long been known that higher levels of self-efficacy is associated with higher levels of physical activity, it is not clear which techniques can best increase self-efficacy in the over-18s as a whole.

The ‘This Girl Can’ Campaign to promote sport among women, say the team, is a prime example of how self-efficacy can be used to encourage participation in sport.

Lead researcher Dr. Mei Yee Tang from The University of Manchester said: “One of the biggest influences of our behaviour is our own beliefs. If we believe we are capable of doing something, then we are more likely to devote effort to it and feel we can do it even if it may be a difficult task.”

The team found that the more techniques we use, the more effective they may be at maintaining our self-efficacy – the perception of our abilities and its influence on our behaviour—in the longer-term.

However, the researchers also found that commonly used techniques such as giving people information on the health benefits of physical activity were not effective in increasing self-efficacy.

Dr. Tang added: “We were unable to find clear patterns of techniques which should be used together, or which might not work as well together, in increasing self-efficacy.

“Previous similar reviews which have looked at specific adult populations have found self-regulatory techniques such as setting physical activity goals and monitoring physical activity behaviour to be effective at increasing self-efficacy in obese adults and adults without a clinical condition.

“Yet, these techniques were associated with lower self-efficacy in . In older adults, techniques such as setting graded tasks—such as slowly increasing walking distance each time—were found to be more effective for this population.

“Therefore, it’s important to stress that there isn’t a single ‘magic bullet’ that can increase self-efficacy for physical activity across all .

“On January first we should think about factors such as age and any illness or conditions if we are to support ourselves and our loved ones in achieving their physical activity related-New Year’s resolution.”

Memory is Necessary to Move Forward


Memory is Necessary to Move Forward

 

The MacDonald home celebrates this Christmas season with a little more excitement than those holidays of the not-so-distant past. My youngest son’s health is the best it’s ever been, and we are in an excellent place. We have nothing to complain about. Life is good and the business of this time of year sparks a fresh sense of hope and joy.

Recently, I shared with a few groups of people the horrors of MacDonald the Younger’s health issues. I discussed how my son could not walk and sat in a wheelchair for more than a solid year. I recounted the many days he spent hospitalized with pain so great that regular pain management regiments could not treat him. We spent more days in the hospital than out.

Why these stories? Why now? My righteous younger dude does not suffer anymore. The only sign he did is a slight limp. Other than that, he is at his prime. There is no obvious reason to discuss these horrible issues anymore. The past is where it should be — in the past. So far, his current medication provides him the protection he needs from breakthrough bleeding. All is well.

After sharing the stories, I usually spend a fair amount of time beating myself up. “Joe, you do not need to share your boy’s struggles. Let it go and get over it.” I’ve continued to keep pouncing on my brain, taking no prisoners. We are in the middle of a time of great health. Why conjure up some of the most challenging times of my life?

One day, while struggling with this thought, a still, small voice inside me seemed to permit my grieving. “Yes,” it said, “Life is incredible right now. The holidays appear fresh and new. There is no reason that you should not take advantage of your newfound health. However, it is also appropriate and human to grieve bad memories.”

I must give myself permission to accept the events of the past and mourn their passing. Acknowledgment gives way to grief, which gives way to healing.

A wave of relief enveloped me as I realized that I needed to give myself space to reflect on the not-so-good moments to appreciate the here and now. Blocking away feelings only prevents me from experiencing the joy that is possible with hard work and self-reflection. The present is heightened with a greater sense of pleasure as I look at the past and turn my attention to the very exciting present. And all it takes is a quick turn of the head.

It is with great joy that the Christmas season began with lights, trees, and an endless array of decorations that tell the stories of our family. We share with gratitude that a season of struggle fades with each passing year and the focus on our current good fortunes allows us to enjoy the holidays like never before. Our memories of the events that held us captive will be with us always, but it will never overshadow the hopes experienced in the here and now. Enjoy this season, this year, at this moment.

We move forward, complete with our whole selves and ready to share with other people struggling to understand the effects of chronic illnesses. They turn to us because we know what it’s like to muddle through the aches and pains associated with medical issues. We stand by caregivers when they feel like there is nothing to do but scream. We remind them of the hope that lies right around the corner. Most of all, we promise never to leave their side. Service to others is where our true healing firmly establishes itself and brings meaning in the middle of our most profound pain.

15 Empowering Messages From Your Authentic Self


15 Empowering Messages From Your Authentic Self

“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” ~ George Moore

There is a place inside of you where there is eternal peace, a place where fear does not exist. A place where love feels at home and your inner light is always shining. This beautiful place is where you belong, it’s who you are….

By affirming and acting upon these 15 empowering messages that come from your true and authentic self, you will remember many of the things you have forgotten about yourself and you will start living life in a more beautiful, happier and meaningful way.

1. Don’t Take Life Too Seriously

Life is a gift — enjoy it, and please, “Drop the idea that you are Atlas carrying the world on your shoulders. The world would go on even without you. Don’t take yourself so seriously.” – Norman Vincent Peale

2. Treasure Your Divinity

Learn to treasure yourself and your Divinity. Be willing to accept yourself completely. Be yourself, be graceful, be kind, be wild, be weird … be true to yourself.

“You surrender to a lot of things which are not worthy of you. I wish you would surrender to your radiance … your integrity … your beautiful human grace.” – Yogi Bhajan

3. Nurture Good Thoughts, Create A Good Life

You create your life with your thoughts. As you think so shall you be. Think loving thoughts and you will experience a loving life. Use your mind and don’t let it use you. Purify your thoughts and watch your life purify with them.

4. Let Go, Be Happy

Let go of all the pointless drama, all the toxic relationships, thoughts and behaviors that are present in your life. Let go of the heavy weights you have been carrying on your shoulders and decide to travel light. Bring your mind into the present moment. Create your life from a place of infinite choices and possibilities – the present moment, and no longer from a place of fear and limitations – the past. Shift your focus from the bad onto the good and watch your life transform.

5. Give Yourself, and Others, the Gift of Forgiveness

Forgive, release and let go of any negativity, hate, and resentment that is currently poisoning your life. Allow peace and tranquility to govern your heart.  Forgive those that have harmed you, not because they deserve it, but because you do, and forgive yourself for holding on to poisonous thoughts and depriving yourself of all the love and happiness you truly deserve.

“True forgiveness is when you can say, “Thank you for that experience.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

6. Build Bridges Instead of Walls

No matter how much you’ve been hurt in the past and no matter how much more you will be hurt in the future, don’t let fear convince you that you should close the door to your heart. You need love to feel alive. By depriving others of your love and affection, you are depriving yourself of the many beautiful things that come from love.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ~ Rumi

7. Appreciate Both the Good and the Bad

Learn to love and appreciate both your failures and successes; the happy experiences but also the unhappy ones. Look for the lesson in everything and by doing so, no experience will ever be wasted. They all contribute to your growth and expansion.

8. In Friendship, Choose Quality Over Quantity

Build your friendships on a healthy and strong foundation. It’s always better to choose quality over quantity. It’s wiser to have a few real friends than many untrue ones.

9. Be Kind to All Living Creatures

Treat all living creatures with love, kindness, and compassion. Keep in mind that this isn’t just our home, it`s theirs as well.

“He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.” – Immanuel Kant

10. Be Good to Your Body

Your body is your temple and the way you feel internally will reflect externally. Exercise whenever possible, make sure you drink plenty of water- water is life, and eat as healthy as possible. Treat your body in the exact same way you want your body to treat you and stay away from toxic addictions.

11. Live With an Open Heart

Allow love to rule your life. Put all your fears aside and allow love to rule your life. Embrace your authenticity and dare to walk through life with your head up high, always! Don’t settle for anything less than love.  Learn to pour love into everything you do. Pour love into your relationships, your work, your life and into yourself. Allow love to rule your life.

“For the first time in my life, I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that Love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.” ~ Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

12. Give Meaning to Your Life

Do the things you love the most, follow your heart, your passions, and your dreams. Ask your true and authentic self to guide you and to help you live your life in a loving and authentic way. Look for meaning, look for purpose and allow yourself to become the unique and authentic being you were born to be. Make the shift from ambition, to ambition with meaning.

“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” ~ Viktor E. Frankl

13. Love Everything, Be Attached to Nothing

Nothing is yours to keep – not your friends and family, not your lover, not your material possessions, not your youth and vitality, not your struggles (which is great news) or successes, and not even your life. Things, people, experience, they all come and go. Everything changes, nothing remains the same. Love everything but be attached to nothing.

“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They came through you but not from you and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.” ~ Khalil Gibran

14. You Are a Soul; You Have a Body

You are a soul within a body. You are not your body and the body is not you. Your body is your vehicle in this life and it’s meant to help you achieve the things that your soul came here to achieve. But you are not the vehicle, you are the one that drives the vehicle.

“Never tell a child,” said George Macdonald, ‘you have a soul. Teach him, you are a soul; you have a body.’ As we learn to think of things always in this order, that the body is but the temporary clothing of the soul, our views of death and the unbefittingness of customary mourning will approximate to those of Friends of earlier generations.”

15. You are ONE with Everything

At the soul level, you are connected to all living things. There is no separation between you and everyone else. You are ONE with it all that is. Look within for guidance and directions. Ask your soul to lead the way and you will become ONE with all that is.

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” ― Albert Einstein

If you are a soul who has a body, what do you think happens to the soul once it leaves the body? You can share your comment by joining the conversation below 🙂

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