Category Archives: Better Than Before

Living with Intent: 6 Steps to Living a Healthier, More Joyful & Purposeful Life

MallikaChopra

About two years ago, I approached my father (Deepak Chopra) with a confession. I told him I was generally exhausted, over caffeinated and my sugar addiction was out of control.  I realized I was overscheduled trying to balance my role as a wife, mom, and entrepreneur with Intent.com, my start-up social media company. I felt bloated and had a lot of body pain. I hadn’t been meditating or exercising much, and at night I was having trouble sleeping. My father looked shell shocked, and it took a few moments for him to transition from concerned father to Deepak Chopra, the person that thousands go to for health advice. Continue reading

Doing the Inner Work for the Outer Work in a Suffering World

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For the last 3 weeks, I participated in an intensive program at Teachers College (Columbia University) for my Masters in Psychology and Spirituality. During 9-hour days, we immersed ourselves in an academic understanding of the inherent spirituality in children, and how spirituality relates to personal healing, education, substance abuse and depression, and communication. The experiential learning included heart based connection, artistic expression, individual and planetary energy healing, Jungian symbol exploration and, of course, lots of meditation and intention setting.

I will be honest – at times I found the experiential exercises excruciatingly annoying. I have been meditating for 35 years, have attended conferences since my teens, and teach about intention and balance at conferences around the world! For me, returning to school at 45 was clear – my intent was to develop a lexicon of theories in spiritual psychology for my public speaking, and potentially future books and projects.

This endeavor was for my mind and my intellect, not my soul.

As we sat, day after day meditating, I found myself getting more irritable. Because, the world continued to happen…

Brexit, stirring fear and uncertainty

Terrorist attacks in Turkey, Bangladesh, Iraq, Saudi Arabia

The refugee crisis

My friend mourning her husband’s death to cancer

Philando Castile and Alton Sterling

Police shootings in Dallas

Accepting that we had to let go of Cleo, my brother’s dog Continue reading

Aging Gracefully

Aging Gracefully:
Noticing and Choosing What You Want As You Grow Older

men

A few months ago, I did a panel, and follow-up interview with Prevention Magazine (a magazine which I love, by the way) on aging gracefully. How funny to find myself being a voice for that…

On the panel, as others talked about diet, exercise and how to look young, I found myself getting emotional as I thought about my grandfather, Nana, who had just passed away. I realized, while sitting on the stage, that aging gracefully for me meant living with dignity, being of service, and cherishing the relationships in my life. Continue reading

Like Me, Do You Get the Urge to Do Spring Cleaning? Here Are Some Areas I Plan to Tackle.

One of my great realizations about happiness (and a point oddly under-emphasized by positive psychologists) is that for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm. More, really, than it should. After all, in the context of a happy life, a crowded coat closet is trivial. And yet over and over, people tell me, and I certainly find this, myself, that creating order gives a huge boost in energy, cheer, and creativity.

So I’m a big believer in the value of clutter-clearing.

Also, I’m a big believer in using outer milestones as a catalyst for action or change. Whether that’s New Year’s day, September (the other new year), my birthday, or a holiday, I think it’s helpful to be reminded that I might want to make changes in my life. (Yes, Questioners, I know you think that January 1 is an arbitrary date. Noted.)

So spring, for me, is a reminder to think about spring clutter-clearing. I’m not inspired to do deep cleaning like window-washing, carpet-cleaning, or anything like that. Spring reminds me to tackle nagging clutter build-ups.

I look for places where I tend to stick things and forget about them. Do you have this problem? For me, I’m looking at these areas: Continue reading

The Prescribed Vacation: Why Travel is Good for your Health

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Most people look forward to their yearly vacation. Whether it’s just a short weekend here or a week there, getting away can have a great effect on your overall outlook. However, did you realize that a vacation can also help you to improve your overall wellbeing? It may sound bizarre, but a week by the sea or exploring an ancient city can help you be healthier.

Many people are skipping their vacation because of work demands, money, stress, or the ill effects caused from the time away. On average, the U.S. employee takes about 16 days off per year as of 2013. In 2000, the average was 20 days per year. When you deprive yourself of a much-needed break, you can cause damaging effects to your health. The stress overload is enough to kill you. Being able to immerse yourself in new surroundings can boost your brain power and allow your body to recharge. Here are five reasons why you should take a break. Continue reading

10 Things I Learned from Having Deepak Chopra As My Mentor

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I’m not famous, nor do I have a recognizable last name and I’m not related to any powerful individual, so when Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP replied to my tweet I assumed it was a member of his staff. This was in the fall of 2013. We exchanged emails for a few weeks before I discovered it was actually Deepak himself writing me. Then in January of 2014, he generously agreed to meet me in his New York office. Since this time, I’ve had the good fortune of having Deepak as my mentor and friend.

Here are ten things I’ve learned from having Deepak Chopra as a mentor:

Continue reading

Is There One “Best” Type of Temperament? Or Tendency?

thomasmerton“Temperament does not predestine one man to sanctity and another to reprobation. All temperaments can serve as the material for ruin or for salvation…It does not matter how poor or how difficult a temperament we may be endowed with. If we make good use of what we have, if we make it serve our good desires, we can do better than another who merely serves his temperament instead of making it serve him.”

–Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

This passage from Merton caught my attention, because of my Four Tendencies framework for personality.

In that framework, I divide all of humanity into four types: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel. (Want to find out what you are? The Quiz is here. Almost 500,000 people have taken it.) Continue reading

Black and White Thinking

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Growing up with an alcoholic parent, we were taught to see things in extremes.  It was either the best possible thing that could ever happen, or the worst possible thing that could ever happen.  Our parents had been taught, and were passing on to us, the lesson that people in the world are good or bad, right or wrong, smart or stupid, strong or weak.  If something bad happened, we often heard phrases such as, “I should just give up, then.”  Our world was framed around these extremes.  We have extreme reactions to situations and people in order to get what we want.

Continue reading

Want to Write Better? 21 Reminders about the Elements of Good Style.

Writing tipsWhether you write all the time, or only occasionally, you’ve probably thought about how to write better.

One of the best books about writing is The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr., and E. B. White. It has been in print for forty years.

I don’t know anything about Strunk, but I’m a huge fan of the writing of E. B. White.  I love his children’s books of course — masterpieces like Charlotte’s Web and The Trumpet of the Swan — and I also love his brilliant essays, like Here Is New York, and the Letters of E. B. White.

So I pay close attention to whatever he says about style.

The reminders from The Elements of Style include:

Continue reading

Tupperware and Choosing a Guilt-Free Life

A photo by Jason Briscoe. unsplash.com/photos/sfze-8LfCXI

Oh how the mighty have fallen
Yeah, I was that guy. Black car home every night because I worked Past 10pm every night. Dinners paid for from almost anywhere I wanted; An office that overlooked the Statue of Liberty, long stints in exotic places like Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the UK to fix business units that were determined to need fixing, etc. I was that guy. When I walked into your office, it wasn’t to tell you that you were doing a good job. I was the perpetual hammer in search of a nail. If I found you, it wasn’t pleasant. I fully admit that I wasn’t a nice guy. I made people miserable, but that was my job. There was no margin for error in my old business. One small mistake could literally turn into millions of dollars diverted into incorrect risk pools. A domino effect would ripple through many areas of the firm. Inaccuracies were unacceptable. After years of this, I lost myself and became this character, devoid of any compassion or empathy. I was a one man wrecking machine. That was the way it had to be in investment banking. It was the nature of the beast. I remember getting a blackberry message from my colleague Steve on that fateful September Sunday evening; “Turn on MSNBC”, it read, and I did. Our stock price had plummeted from $92 to $2 a share over the course of a few months. We had been sold to a bank, a real bank that takes depositors money. In that sale, it made my entire line of work and thousands of people’s jobs, in direct violation of the SEC Bank Holding Company act. We would have to go. After about an hour of absorbing this, my wife broke out her emergency pack of stale Parliament cigarettes, and we sat on our stoop at 11:30pm, inflicting torment on our lungs. “What are we going to do?” she asked. “I don’t know” was my reply. And that was the truth. I didn’t.

Dylan had it right “For the times, they are a ‘changin…”
I spent the next eight months trying to reconcile the loss of most of my life savings and career, sleeping until noon, staying up until 2am scouring job boards and applying for positions that I was grossly overqualified for, or just watching YouTube videos on anything from car engine repair to doctors removing infected pus filled boils. The meltdown of 2008, and the related pain, was not just reserved to “Main Street” as the politicians spewed. It hit many ex-Wall Street’ers just as hard. I eventually held several high level positions at smaller firms, and was absolutely miserable. At my lowest point, I lost my desire to eat, lost a ton of weight, and frequently vomited up blood before leaving for work. The negativity of my work environment was literally eating me alive. One day in a brief moment of clarity, I realized that none of this really mattered. I calmly typed an eight paragraph resignation letter to my CEO, left my ID card, Amex card, and office keys on my desk, pushed my chair back, stood up and left. And that was it. I got into my car and hit the NJ Turnpike with the windows open and the radio blasting “Badlands” by Bruce Springsteen; “Talk about a dream, try to make it real, you wake up in the night with a fear so real. You spend your life waiting for a moment that just won’t come. Well don’t waste your life waiting.” Those lyrics hit me hard. I kept repeating that line, “Well don’t waste your life waiting”. That was the answer. You need to make it happen. YOU need to make CHANGE happen. I felt good about myself for the first time in almost three years. I originally thought the smell in the car was the methane belched out of the Linden Co-Generation Plant on the Turnpike, but it became sweeter the longer I drove. It was the smell of freedom. It was the smell of change. It was intoxicating.

From a small seed, a mighty oak grows
While I’m far from comparing myself to a mighty Oak, even the smallest effort to foster a positive change in your life should be lauded as a Herculean effort. Quite honestly, the only difference between leaders of industry, innovators, and economic titans like Jobs, Forbes, Gates, Edison and the rest of the world is that these few had the spine (or the stupidity) to take that first small step. Continue reading

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