Don’t Be Afraid: A Dose of Inspiration

Spiders. Public speaking. Ridicule. Failure.
There are lots of things that appear to warrant fear. No one would fault you for being afraid of sharks or risking it all, but throughout history, great men and women have had a lot to say about the freedom that comes from conquering those fears.
Let us encourage you- you can do the same thing!
You don’t have to be afraid anymore. Don’t believe us?
Here are some of our favorite quotes from some of our favorite people on the subject.

fearimage borrowed from Oprah.com

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Making Science Cool and Getting Sleep

We live in a generation where teachers make a fraction of what professional athletes take home. People can become celebrities by being really good at Twitter and you could get an MTV show by being able to ride in a shopping cart and crash into things, so we think it’s kind of cool how science and learning is making it’s comeback and our current favorite is the #SciShow on Youtube!

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Being Present & Bill Murray

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Bill Murray has made a career out of being someone.
He’s a someone who appears at wedding receptions for people he doesn’t know to just celebrate (if you can find the 1-800 number he uses in lieu of a manager or agent, you can invite the SNL alum to literally anything you want, really). He’s appearing in the upcoming St. Vincent about a cranky old neighbor who becomes the anti-hero for the boy next door. He’s been known to run around the streets of New York warning pedestrians about lobsters on the loose.

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Discovering Your True Self

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My best friend Erin always felt like she was a follower because she never had a “thing”.
She liked basketball and played in a league but it wasn’t her whole life.
She played music and owns a couple of instruments but it didn’t consume her.
She writes but mostly for herself even though she’s really great at it.

There wasn’t one circle of friends or work or life she felt defined her. She could come and go from a variety of circles and as a result always felt like it must mean she wasn’t a good leader. She must just be a wanderer going from place to place, never being confident enough in one thing to really take charge.

Then we both took the Clifton’s Strengthfinders Test that asks you a series of questions and returns with your top strengths out of 34 on their list. Surprise, surprise- Erin found that one of her top 5 strengths was ADAPTABILITY.

This aspect of her life that had for so long felt like a weakness was actually a strength! She found that she had the ability that so many lacked to be able to be thrown into a variety of situations and really thrive. For the first time, she found truth in discovering who she was.

I know she’s not the only person who saw themselves as an Ugly Duckling of some sort, only to find that maybe they were just a swan and didn’t know it. While we will surely spend the rest of our lives growing and developing, cutting off things that don’t work in our lives and investing in things that do, maybe it’s time to shine a little light of truth onto the uniqueness of who you are!

So here are some thought-provoking questions:

1. What are your favorite parts of yourself? Maybe it’s your love of family. Maybe it’s your recipe for brownies. Maybe it’s your legs. Whatever they are- how are you engaging them and how are you using them to help other people be more alive?

2. When it comes to the things you’re least proud of, what would you say to your best friend if they shared the same thing? We tend to be most hard on ourselves- we aren’t eating right, we could be better friends, we should be over this relationship quicker. But when it comes to those we love, we tend to offer more grace and see things in a better light. Take a moment and imagine what you would say to your best friend if they had the same thought or feeling about themselves. And then take a dose of your own medicine.

3. Who are your heroes? There are surely qualities that your heroes possess that you value. So what might happen if you intentionally fostered those qualities in yourself? Selflessness, patience, fearlessness. Heroes aren’t just born with a supernatural ability to be great. They sacrifice and choose those things when they could choose others. You can do the same thing. You are every bit designed to be a hero.

You don’t have to lie to yourself. We don’t encourage you live in a fantasy world.
We do encourage you to be true to who you are.
We encourage you to discover who that person truly is.
Nice to meet you!

Dear James: Am I On the Right Path?

Dear James,
I recently left my husband of 11-years: it has been a battle from the very beginning. It was an abusive relationship including alcohol and drugs. My question is am I making the right choice by leaving and planning on divorcing him? I’m struggling with my decision to do this.

I also recently applied to go back to school. I want to do this and I have everything paid for, but I need a job. I’m struggling to make the decision to go to work or school and I need to get a place so I can move back to a different town where my kids will attend school. I’m afraid I’m making all the wrong choices, but since I have left, so many doors have opened up to me. I’m excited but also afraid that I need to stay with my husband: that he will truly change and be a good husband.
Answer:
You are indeed on the right path: it’s why it feels so right: and yet so uncomfortable.

Eleven plus years have been spent in torment, anguish, denial and pain.
A decade of hiding the truth just so you could feel the slightest bit normal…sane.
Addicts routinely make promises they never keep: it’s in their DNA. Their need for the next fix, score or drink is so strong, it eviscerates all rational thinking: judgment: responsibility: or accountability.

Substance Abusers and Addicts are illnesses in need of treatment. By second-guessing your decision to remove yourself from this toxic environment by separating and ultimately divorcing, you leave the door wide open for yourself to continue as an enabler.

The only thing you want to enable: is your forward momentum and recovery.
You and your children would be wise to seek counseling in order to truly cleanse your souls. To unburden oneself is to wash away the residue of that which was left behind by lasting impressions.

You never have to stop loving your husband and father of your children. You just have to love your self more: and him enough so as to allow him to fall, so he may yet rise…if he so chooses.

Empower yourself by educating yourself.

Demonstrate to your children the depth and determination of your will, the levity and gaiety of your spirit, and the strength of your convictions.

Open yourself to the many doors and windows that will continue to open for you, as you seek to move and align yourself with your highest purpose and ideals.
Be forgiving of yourself and others, as forgiveness speeds the momentum of your recovery.

Be patient, yet confident, in all your dealings and decisions. Life is not a sprint, but a marathon.

Enjoy the journey, as you will come to discern the destination is fluid, not fixed.

Above all else, believe with all your being that you are doing the true and right thing.

Be steadfast: not steely.

Ultimately, Peace comes to those who willfully believe they are worthy of it.
Be worthy of Peace.

DearJames

DearJames™ provides intuitive insight, answers and advice…to your life questions. DearJames™ is an Intuitive Advice Columnist, Radio Host and Consultant.  DearJames™ is available for private intuitive consultations and you may also listen and call in live every Wednesday at 9:00AM Pacific on the Contact Talk Radio Network during DearJames Live – EXPRESS YOURSELF: an all live call in show where you Tell It Like It Is…And Then Hear What DearJames™ Has To Say. ASK DearJames a question or find an abundance of Inspiration, Advice, Wellness Resources & Tools and Charitable Giving opportunities at www.dearjames.com.

The Most Basic Guide to Affirmations

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There are infinite schools of thought as to how good things happen in a person’s life.
Maybe that person is just extra good.
Maybe they believe it, so it happened.
They made a deal with the Devil.
They made a deal with God.
They were lucky.
The sun lined up with Jupiter just right and the full moon was in retrograde.

I’m not a scientist, so I can neither confirm nor deny the power of the moon in retrograde, but I do know that the practice of positive affirmation isn’t a wasted one. There is something to having hope, faith and love. Believing for the best has the power to rewire your brain and help you finally put a stop to the things we are usually eager to leave behind.

Dr. Arlene Taylor specializes in speaking on brain function and she had some very interesting things to say about the best way to get your brain to respond:

According to the dictionary, the word affirm means to validate and to state positively. Practically, this defines a nurturing communications style; one in which you talk to yourself and to others in a positive manner. In general, “positives” are more powerful than “negatives.” Positives are a one-step process that creates a picture that you want the brain to follow. Negatives, on the other hand, require a two-step process. Words such as don’t are meant to convey do the opposite of the picture that was just created in the brain. This is often difficult for a mature brain to figure out and may be virtually impossible for the immature brain to compute.It might feel silly at first, but let me encourage you to speak affirmations out loud.

-Dr. Arlene Taylor, “What Does Affirmation Mean?”

Much like we do, our brains respond best to a positive environment with clear, direct communication.

What do you want?
Say them. Audibly.
It doesn’t have to be for an audience but it’s important that you AND your brain gets the message about what you’re going for.

There isn’t a right or wrong way to the words you choose, no magic spell.
So again, what do you want?
Put those desires together in a clear and direct sentence.

I am awake and alive. I have all the energy I need for today.

I am capable and strong enough to face the challenges that come my way.

I can form habits that are beneficial and long-lasting.

Choosing happiness is something I can and will do everyday.

Where are you in your life right now?
What would you like to see come into your life or change?
That’s a great place to start.
Speak what you would like to see.
Speak what you would like your brain to agree with instead of agreeing with things that aren’t necessarily any more true-

That you aren’t smart enough, likeable, pretty, strong, able.
That good things will never happen for you.
That you aren’t good enough.
That you just aren’t the kind of person who gets what they dream of.

Stop agreeing with those things consciously or subconsciously.
You are able and you are enough.
So say it.

An Intent for Education

As someone who was blessed with good schools in my hometown, the education needs of others has often slipped my mind. Sure, living in cities after college had made me aware of multiple teacher strikes, as well as the calls to reform public schools. Still, having gone to public school myself, and afterwards a four year college, I wondered if perhaps it wasn’t the schools, but the neighborhoods, family units, and other factors that were more responsible for young students’ struggles.

That mindset, however, was entirely changed after aimlessly turning on DirecTV’s Audience Channel to discover the documentary, Commonwealth. The documentary follows the plight of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s oldest city, after 24 of their public schools were shut down in 2013. Educators, parents, and students themselves go on to discuss the disturbing fact that Pennsylvania spends an average of 400 million dollars per year in order to build and maintain their vast prisons (a number which is only growing). Students and teachers alike claim that in essence, the prisons are built for the youth of the city, who are given little to no chance to avoid incarceration as they are shuffled through the public education system. Horrifying details – such as a test administered to third grade students help determine which children are more or less likely to become criminals – emerged as I continued to watch the program.

Soon enough, I found myself investigating education not only in Philadelphia, but in my own city, Chicago, and elsewhere across the country. Documentaries such as Teach, which discuss educators in public schools, their triumphs and their struggles, and David Guggenheim’s first groundbreaking documentary, Waiting for ‘Superman’ were added to my list. Though Waiting for Superman has come under criticism recently, all of these documentaries at their core raise awareness for the cause of improved public education.

Education reform should be a much discussed issue, even for those who aren’t yet worried about their own children’s school system. In a country where many, widely different and uniquely talented students are subjected to standardized tests and curriculums that leave little room for exploring fascination and grooming each student’s interests, and where much emphasis is placed on acquiring a college education (which is often too expensive or leaves students in years of debt), we seem to be hanging our youth out to dry. Too many times we’ve heard others comment that they would hate to be graduating from college with the current job market, or they’re concerned about the economic troubles our future youth will be handed upon entering their adult lives.

So, for the sake of both my own and young students’ futures, I have made the intention to focus additional efforts on educational needs. Of course, one of the first steps is participating in local elections and concerning myself with the education platforms of politicians running for office. Many education decisions are made at the state level, meaning choosing a president with a focus on bettering schools is not nearly as effective (though it helps!) as voting for officials closer to home who have the interest and the ability to more quickly enforce changes within the schools closest to you.

Beyond that, I plan on opening myself up to the opinions of others – not just lawmakers and enforcers, but the teachers, students themselves, and administrators who face education struggles on a daily basis. It seems clear to me that these are the people who would have the clearest ideas regarding what education policies work, and which are leaving students to struggle. Supporting those educators, through better pay, better supplies, or whatever else they may require, will only benefit our young students and future workforce in the long run.

Finally, I intend to guide my own philanthropic efforts toward volunteering with after school programs and other activities that given students the opportunity to explore passions that may not be emphasized, or even available, within the public school system. You can too, it’s not as time-consuming as one may think! Whether it’s assisting with an after school sport, offering to help raise funds for your local school’s art and music programs, or even speaking to students about your own unique career, and how you got there, your efforts could inspire and help cultivate a young kid’s dreams!

 

The Search for Ultimate Happiness

Yesterday a friend dropped an email into my inbox.
It said, “I just have to share something with you …..on Sunday, Brian
and I went to see the feature film, Hector and The Search for Happiness…
we laughed, we cried…it is funny, inspiring, transformational….we just loved it.”

By the end of the day, I’d watched the trailer several times, remembered how much I loved Simon Pegg, and had some great answers to questions about happiness from director and co-writer Peter Chelsom.

May I present “Hector and the Search for Happiness”…

As the man who filmed a man traveling the world in search of happiness, Chelsom seems pretty qualified to offer insights as to what makes people feel whole and satisfied. We’re happy to share the interview and his wisdom here!

Intent: Why do you think “Hector and the Search for Happiness” is important for today’s audience?
PC: We have lost sight of what happiness really is. We have become too “needy.” We are more pre-occupied with being interesting as opposed to be interested. And credit and advertising have made sure that we are never going to have enough!

Intent: What is one thing you think the world doesn’t get about happiness?
PC: Making happiness the goal doesn’t really work but what does work is understanding that real happiness is a by-product of giving yourself over to life, being in the flow, being inspired. What does work is that real happiness is richness. Richness is the full spectrum of all of the emotions, all the colors.

Intent: What/where is your happy place?
PC: Being with my family. And, being with my family at our home in Italy.

Intent: What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone who starting their own search for happiness?
PC: I say to my sons. “Come on boys, what is the secret to happiness and they reply kindness.” I love that because it’s a mission, a plan, an transitive action, something you can do. The by-product is surely happiness.

Intent: Were you surprised to learn anything over the course of filming- about yourself, about your career, about life?
PC: Very much. How lucky I am. How far I’ve come. As writers, Tinker Lindsey and I had to get personal and look to ourselves.
I genuinely feel that the zero on my axis has risen so that the lows are not as desperate and the highs are more cherished.

Intent: Has there ever been a big risk that you took and ended up being really glad you did?
PC: Yes. Becoming a filmmaker, is a ridiculous risk. What bugs me about non-believers and atheists, they talk about deluding yourself and I say, if I had NOT deluded myself, I would have never become a filmmaker. If I had been a realist, I would have never had tried. You say delusion, I say faith.

Intent: When it comes to making choices about your life, what criteria do you use when deciding yes or no?
PC: The criteria used to be selfish, now that I am a family man, family has become the criteria.

Intent: What fears are left for you to conquer?
PC: Growing old.

Intent: What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
PC: Having children. I wouldn’t have said that I am naturally qualified, now I think I’m pretty good!

Intent: If you could go on an adventure, where would it be and what would it look like?
PC: Having been round the world making this film, my idea of adventure is not a check box of lots of different places, but exploring one place, one area in massive details. Probably, me, the family, the car and 8 weeks to travel through all of Italy.

So go see it.
Go take a couple of hours to rest your brain, laugh, cry, and then ask yourself what you want out of this life. Every day is a day where everything can change. It might was well be today.

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