Feeling misunderstood? Sometimes that happens because others aren’t listening. But it can also happen when we aren’t fully saying what we mean. Our words, our commitments, our attention can be so vague and non-committal and, while that serves a certain purpose, it can often leave us feeling disconnected and not fully ourselves. So today, our intent is to say what we mean. Our honest feelings. Our realest opinions. Our worries and concerns, our joys and our hopes.
This video is taking the Internet by storm, which perhaps says more about us viewers than it does about the girl or the gorilla or their adorable friendship. But before we go any further, let’s take a look and this incredible moment:
From an adult’s perspective, it’s hard not to jump to praise the little girl for her undiscriminating love and curiosity. Where an adult might be burdened by thoughts of species superiority, or over identification with being human, or even with the well-intentioned concerns for animal rights, this little girl springs to playfulness and conviviality. The baby gorilla matches her enthusiasm, playing right along with her. The adults laugh and capture the moment on film, somewhat removed from the scene because, ostensibly, the moment isn’t really theirs to experience.
If you are among those whose mind jumps to thoughts of the treatment of animals in captivity, then we encourage you to investigate those feelings more. Do some research, talk with people who work in such facilities, and stay away from zoos and animal parks if they make you uncomfortable. We will support your cause.
In another light, though, it might behoove us adults to examine our own relationships (or lack thereof) with non-human animals. When we walk our dogs, step around pigeons, or visit zoos, are we approaching and interacting with these animals authentically? Are we seeing their lived existence and appreciating them for what they are? Or do we ever fall prey to feelings of superiority, disregard, or even condescension?
Consider this: Next time you come in contact with an animal, try seeing them and interacting with them as fully and honestly as you would interact with a friend. Let’s all take a lesson from this video’s amazing inter-species friendship and do our species proud!
You wanted to start your own bakery and your parents told you that was crazy – so you didn’t.
You wanted to write a computer app that would help people source jobs that fit them and your college roommates talked you out of it.
You wanted to marry someone who had a great love of adventure but you got married to whom you were dating at the time because your friends were getting married and thought it would be great to all get married in the same year.
You wanted to study writing in college so you could be a novelist; your family told you to stop be ridiculous and get a real job.
We get talked out of things all the time – even the important things. Though others may mean well, they offer advice to help us stay safe; they care about us and they don’t want us to do anything “foolish.” But staying safe frequently translates into living small, and living small means not living your dreams, abilities or potential. As Helen Keller said, “Life is a daring adventure or it is nothing.” But few of us would say life is a daring adventure; we’ve been talked out of it.
See, a great life is one that we define based on who we are – what we are good at, what we are passionate about and what matters to us. No one can fill in this information for us. Only we can define what a great life must be for us. Though we each have the ability and responsibility to choose for our lives, we frequently give these away and blend into life. We weren’t born to blend; we were born to stand out by doing the things that matter and fit us.
Our dreams, desires and unique abilities create a road map for our definition of a great life. They are the clues about the things that resonate with us. Listen to these and we have the information we need to choose wisely in life. Don’t listen to these, or listen too much to others, and we quickly move off our road in life and onto theirs. As I told my kids, if you are on a road in life and find other footprints in it, you are likely on someone else’s road. Check in on you and what is important to you. It is likely you will find a virgin path waiting for your steps.
To help yourself find the courage to say what you want for your life and go get it (regardless of what others say) consider these three things:
Know what makes you unique, different and amazing – your talents, strengths and passions. Embrace your uniqueness as your competitive advantage – your way to stand out and find your way in a world of 7.1 billion people. What is different about you is what is right about you. Knowing this gives you clarity.
Know your world to discover and choose the places that need what you do best or will add to your definition of success and happiness. Find your place and direction in today’s world that needs the “you” that you defined in the step above. This creates possibilities.
Connect the unique you to the real world to find those places that will allow you soar, find your fit and love your life. Define it. Post it. Think about it. Share it with others. Get excited about your vision. Be determined. This gives you focus.
The number 1 regret of the dying, shared in the powerful article, “Regrets of the Dying“, by Bronnie Ware, is “I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” Wow. Don’t wait until you are on your deathbed to say what you want for your life and go get it. Know what you want. Find a way to get it. Don’t get talked out of it.
You know you. Trust your judgment. Find places that fit you in today’s world that give you great joy, love and enthusiasm. Dance when others sit. Run when others walk. Sing when others grumble. Come out when others hide. Be grateful when others complain. Live out loud in your way, on your terms, at your speed. Don’t get talked out of it.
So open the bakery. Write the app. Marry who you love. Write the book. Travel the world. Be an accountant. Be a mortician. Be happy. Love your life. Help others learn to love theirs. Don’t get talked out of it. Ever.
Conversation is more than an art. The spoken word can convey confidence, power, and authenticity. Uttering those first words when you meet someone new can make a great first impression and lead to success. Wouldn’t you like to reduce the stress of a courageous conversation and know how you really appear to others?
Here is what your conversation style reveals about you:
1. You speak rapidly and a pause in the conversation makes you nervous.
Most likely you have a heightened sense of responsibility. However, a conversation involves two people. You don’t have to do it all and this will help you learn to delegate all other things in your life. Give the other person a chance to participate. Breathe slowly and deeply before you speak and make it a point to be silent and reflect. Know that great music depends on pauses.
2. You speak about the present; for example, what is going on at the party, the heat wave, the crisis in Syria, or the latest movie.
This is a great attribute because you are alive and alert, not rehearsed. This type of conversation immediately involves the other person and you are focused on active listening.
3. You have rehearsed a couple of great anecdotes or stories to insert in any conversation.
You like to prepare in advance for stressful situations and imagine successful scenarios in your mind. However, avoid coming across as over-rehearsed, or reciting monologues while not listening to what the other person is saying because you are thinking about what you need to say next. Ease up on yourself and release your spontaneous side too.
4. You ask a lot of questions.
Clearly you are interested in the other person, but you might appear to be an interrogator. While conversations thrive on questions, plan on sharing more of yourself: Experience, philosophy or feelings. Don’t hide behind the questions.
5. Your humor is sarcastic.
While sarcasm reveals a solid intellect, overdoing it might make you seem critical and negative, alienating others who don’t want to become the subject of your sarcasm. If you find yourself piling on the sarcasm, go the other route: Use self-deprecating humor.
6. You immediately share your own experience when someone reveals his.
For example, if the other person was sick in the past, you were even sicker or if the other person had a harrowing travel experience, yours was worse. While you are basically trying to validate the other person by sharing in the universal experience, you might appear to be self-centered or a bit narcissistic. Listen attentively and nod in agreement. Simply, let the other person know something similar happened to you and wait for a follow-up question.
Build up your likeability and credibility. The essentials of good conversations involve keeping an open attitude and avoiding absolutes. What works for me is taking on the role of a student instead of a teacher – even though I was a teacher for many years. Radiate good energy with a smile and make eye contact with soft affirming eyes, similar to welcoming someone into your home. Liberate your natural self, so if you meet again, you will not have to remember what mask you wore.
A recent study by the Public Library of Science shows that the more somebody uses Facebook, the more their satisfaction of life decreases. Apparently, many frequent Facebookers are scrolling through their newsfeeds feeling bad because they don’t think their own lives stack up to the fabulous accomplishments, vacations, and photo-shopped and filtered images they see plastered on their computer screens.
I love social media just as much as the next person, with the ability to easily stay in touch with long distance friends and family and to reach a broader audience with my blog posts. However, the dark side is it can cause some to experience negative feelings which can morph into criticism, judgement and competition with others or even depression and lowered feelings of self.
The deeper concern here is looking inward, not outward, for peace and adopting an “I am enough” mentality. We will never be happy when comparing ourselves to others. But, before taking that deep dive, it is important to scratch the surface and for people need to realize that social media is not even the real deal. It is simply a snapshot of a life — the very best moments that we all choose to share with our audience.
If I take a closer look at my own life and the lives of those in my social circle, there are many of us modern day ‘super-women’ types out there. We use our powers to do cool things like create beautiful babies, build a kick-ass career, leap tall hobbies and ambitions in a single bound, make the world a better place, and look darn good doing it all! Some run their households like a tight ship carting the kids to school and various extracurricular activities with ease, whipping up healthy & Pinterest-worthy meals without breaking a sweat, and a keeping spotless house.
While juggling such full plates with style and grace and making a difference in the world is certainly commendable, don’t you often wonder what is really going on behind the scenes?
Here’s a peek into my own life. Just last week, I was thanking my lucky stars for a busy day at the office as my tech company was finally picking up a little steam, after a very lackluster 2012. I was happily bouncing from customer call to PO processing to, oh crap! I was running late (again) in leaving to get my 5 year old daughter to dance class. Little twang of mommy-guilt ensues. Later, I was playing outside with my girls, when I realized “oh crap” (again), as it just dawned on me that I forgot to reply to an important client email that I had promised to deliver. Ugggh. Time to whip out the iPhone and sneak in a quickie one-handed email while bouncing the baby on one hip and pushing the five year old in the swing. People seem to get the impression that I totally have my sh*t together, but honestly it’s a never-ending quest for balance! I have to work really hard on it and often come up short.
And, sure, if I invite you over for dinner, my house is going to be squeaky clean, smelling divine, and I will be fresh-faced and greet you with a big smile, ready to be your hostess with the mostest. But, if you show up at my house unannounced, expect to find me in yoga pants, no makeup, possibly un-showered, frazzled, with kids and animals running around, toys strewn all about, and a possibly a mystery smell in the air. It could be the cat box, dirty diapers, garbage that needs to go out, or a smelly dog. Hopefully, it’s not me!
What is my point with all this? I’m just keeping it real. It gets messy behind the scenes. People usually post the happy and photogenic moments to share with their virtual followings, and I’m not going to judge that. I mostly do the same. Frankly, nobody wants to see photos of me un-showered, in my yoga pants and with regurgitated baby food stains on my shirt. Nor do I want to share every gut-wrenching decision I have to make or twang of mommy guilt that comes my way. And, I cringe anytime I see people post all their dirty laundry on social media. (I’m so not going there!) But, that doesn’t mean there is not a deeper story going on. The same applies to everyone online.
Think about an iceberg and how the majority of it is underwater and out of site to the naked eye. What people choose to share on social is just the tip of their iceberg. While social media can be a great way to keep in touch, it is no substitute for in-person interaction and you have to realize that you are only getting a small glimpse into people’s lives – usually the highlights reel.
To have your social media and your happiness too, the lessons to take from this are:
Limit your social media browsing. Study after study continues to bring its dark side to light. Like all good things, moderation is key. If you are slightly obsessed (and, yes, it can be highly addicting), try setting time limits or even take a little time off. Enjoy your new-found happiness!
Spend time doing what you love. What are you super passionate about? What works in your life for you and your family? If you invest all of your time and energy diving deeply into whatever passion burns inside of you, then you will simply not have the time or energy to aimlessly peruse the internet all day. Fall in love with you and chase your dreams. You are amazing and have much to offer the world.
Remember all that glitters is not gold. Behind every shiny and polished exterior, there is most definitely a deeper story sure to include some struggle and sacrifice that has gone on behind-the-scenes. Remind yourself that what you are seeing is only one snapshot of reality. Don’t do the comparison thing! Just don’t. You are enough.
Take notice & log off. If you notice yourself feeling a little down or upset when browsing Facebook, then that is a major sign its time to log off for a bit. There was life before social media – remember? Sometimes less is more. Get yourself out into the real world and live it up! And no need to post all about it, either. Spend that time actually enjoying and savoring each moment.
Spend more time face-to-face. This same study associated spending more time interacting with real people with an increase in life satisfaction. Go figure. You get much more of the real enchilada in-the-flesh than on the computer screen, anyway. Spending more time being “real” social makes for both healthier relationships and better self-image. Get some friends together and leave your iPhone off. (Just for an hour or two. The world won’t end – I promise!)
Don’t hate, elevate! Remember, the life you are currently living is a by-product of the thoughts and choices you have made along the way. If you are feeling a little down or even a little envious, don’t beat yourself up about it. It is just a gentle nudge for you to look deeper inside and figure out what direction you want or need to go with your own life. So, choose wisely how you react. Don’t let those feelings turn toxic. Instead, bless and congratulate others. Then take that positive energy and use it towards working on elevating your own existence. You have infinite potential!
Hopefully we can all learn to take social media for what it is and not allow it to become a negative component in our lives. In the meantime, maybe we can all start a ‘keep it real’ movement where we start posting “real life “pictures, like when we first roll out of bed, pre-coffee (or green juice) and make-up. And, no editing or filters! Go ahead … you go first. 😉
What about you? Are you addicted to social? Are you one to “put it all out there” or just the highlights like most people? Have you witnessed or experienced a correlation with too much social and a decline in happiness? Sound off in the comments below!
You know as much as I do that life doesn’t always go as planned. You can fantasize and dream about how you would like things to go, but the harsh reality is that your very existence on this earth is tenuous, and your reality is founded on unpredictability, not certainty.
Once this simple truth is accepted, you can focus less on manipulating and controlling how your life unfolds, and prepare yourself for the inevitable curveball coming your way. You may have already been up to the plate to receive one, but just like in baseball, you never really know when the next one is coming, so it’s always great to be prepared.
When something happens in your life that you didn’t expect, or thought never would, it’s likely to knock you off your feet. You might get blindsided by an infidelity or divorce, diagnosed with a life threatening illness, or realize that you will never be able to have children. Losing a job, your home, or a loved one will also rock your world to the point of capsizing.
These life challenges, and the many others that can strike at any time, are really hard to contend with, but they don’t have to wreck you. Whether you know it or not, you have been training your whole life to deal with these kinds of struggles. Just like your ancestors, you inherently possess the skills you need to deal with anything that gets thrown your way. You are wired to survive.
If you have already survived a serious life challenge then you know what to expect. This is where hindsight is truly 20/20, so be sure you learn what you need to know from the past so you can apply it in the future.
If you are just stepping up to bat, and realize at this moment that a curveball is headed your way, then it’s time to hunker down, and get ready to swing. If you are still “on the bench” and haven’t had to play ball yet, this is the perfect time to start thinking about how you will handle things when they arise.
Here are 5 ways to hit that inevitable curveball out of the park:
1. Take Pause
The experience of dealing with an unexpected life challenge is filled with frenetic energy, and a sense of urgency. Instead of making hasty decisions and going full throttle toward trying to solve the issue, take a moment to digest what has happened. Slow it way down, breathe, and sit with the reality of your situation before taking any action. Hitting the pause button is always a good idea when overwhelm and chaos are omnipresent because it creates a space for thoughtful reflection, better choices, and a more engaged process.
2. Remain Present
Worry will become your silent partner when you are dealing with a curveball. Projecting into the future is a natural human response to stress and uncertainty, and the human brain is always looking for what’s “next”. You may also become riddled with regret about what you could have or should have done in the past to prevent your present situation. Getting stuck in the past or the future doesn’t serve you in these times of crisis. The goal is to remain in the present, even though this feels counter-intuitive.
3. Maintain Integrity
It’s at times like these when your character and values are put to the test. Even if you are the most patient, diligent, and high-functioning individual on the planet, you are sure to become lost, disconnected and a blubbering version of yourself at a time of crisis. Staying true to what you believe, and paying attention to how you want to come across as you move through any transition will ground you in maintaining your most authentic self.
4. Reach Out
For most people seeking help at a time of crisis is justified, but you may have a hard time asking for support even in your darkest moment. It’s common to believe that you can solve all of your problems on your own, but you actually show greater strength by seeking the counsel of a professional. There are always going to be people who can offer wisdom and experience beyond what you can give yourself. Take advantage of the many great healers out there, and give yourself the gift of growing and learning from what feels like a rock bottom. Getting the tools you need to rise above will ensure that you come out the other side better then when you went in.
5. Be Honest
A strong defense against the pain of disappointment that accompanies being hit by a curveball is denial. Not accepting your circumstances, or trying to blame the world for what is happening to you is a way to avoid what you are dealing with. You may feel a sense of shame around your situation making it harder to find the self-compassion you deserve. Remember that you are not alone, seek out others who have experienced a similar fate, and acknowledge that like everyone else in the world, your humaneness makes you immune to a perfect existence.
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Dr. Andra Brosh is a Clinical Psychologist, writer, and thought leader. Her unique perspectives on life, love and connection stem from her own personal wisdom, and her knowledge of psychology and philosophy. Dr. Brosh’s work is founded on the fundamental truth that we are all wired to be relational beings, and that with the right guidance and tools everyone can find happiness and fulfillment in their interpersonal relationships.
We get it. Vulnerability is probably the last thing you want to be feeling when you go in for that interview, or start writing that novel, or hold your baby for the first time. Most likely you want to feel strong, competent, and powerful. Every word must be direct, every action swift, every feeling resolute. But guess what? Those hard edges may be keeping you from experiencing the fullness of a life worthy of such strength and potency. Case in point: What’s the first rule of love? Open, soften, let love in.
One of the most poignant TED Talks out there – which you may have already seen because it’s just that darn good – is one by social work professor Brené Brown. In her research, Brown focuses on the relationships among authenticity, courage, empathy, and, you guessed it, vulnerability. These ‘virtues’, you might call them, come together in the following simple but intimidating formula:
accept imperfection + welcome vulnerability = banish shame and live authentically
Do you agree with Brown’s thesis? Are you ready to be vulnerable? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!
Food, work, the internet, caffeine, booze, exercise, shopping, lovers… many of us grapple with addiction in some way. Many commonly ascribe genetics to addiction, but it’s actually a complex spiritual condition stemming from unresolved emotional pain. Regardless of whether it is pain originating in childhood, or another lifetime, unresolved pain shows up on the physical plane as a voracious appetite for more. To constantly need something outside of ourselves to be OK is a very legitimate state of dis-ease.
Addiction comes in many shades, and while I (maybe) didn’t look like a person who was suffering from addiction, I, too, used to be trapped in the insatiable cycle of more – that never seemed to be enough. I was young and fit, but it wasn’t enough. I had a good job and a boyfriend, but it wasn’t enough. I had a closet full of designer clothes and a home on the beach, but it wasn’t enough. I didn’t know what was missing exactly, but I still felt like I needed something more, and then I’d be happy.
The belief that more money, more work, more accolades, more food, more alcohol, more clothes, more concerts, more lovers – whatever it may be – will make us whole/better/happier is an indicator that we are in emotional pain. With this corrupted thinking, we believe we are not enough just as we are, making it very difficult to value ourselves. If we can’t value ourselves, it makes it very difficult to value anything thing else we create.
On the spiritual plane, when we’re in emotional pain, we go “out-of-body” as spirit. You may be familiar with going out-of-body from instances when you are driving and suddenly you realize you have no memory of the road you’ve traveled down for the past twenty minutes. Where did you go? If you weren’t there, who was driving the car?
Every spirit creating through physical form is innately a trans-dimensional creator, meaning we go in and out-of-body many times throughout our day. What people call “spacing out” is more accurately understood as “going out” of our physical form. When we are struggling with emotional pain, we go out-of-body more frequently because we are living in a pain body and it doesn’t feel comfortable to be in-body. What’s more, we go out-of-body to a greater degree when we ingest drugs or alcohol. You may recognize how people you know seem to have different personalities (alter egos) when they’ve ingested drugs or alcohol. This is because going out-of-body leaves our bodies open to a number of spirits who then direct through us. Just as if you were to leave your house with the door wide open, lights on, and the music blasting, some people might take up residence in your home and party down while you’re gone- the same goes for your physical form.
In other words, the sensation of lacking control, otherwise known as addiction, is a result of literally not being in-body enough to maintain ownership of your body; therefore multiple spirits direct through you, making it feel like you have an insatiable appetite for more. These spiritual dynamics – compounded with the inability to value ourselves – prompts us to feel like we need even more, sending the cycle of compulsion spinning round ‘n round and making it nearly impossible to sit still and even enjoy the present moment. As we heal old emotional pain, and cultivate our own personal self worth, it becomes easier to be in-body and present in our lives a greater percentage of the time.
Despite the our society’s vague promise that net worth equates to self worth, I discovered that the real seeds to self worth – and ultimately a much happier life – are authenticity, vulnerability and integrity. Probably much to my parents’ dismay, these weren’t attributes I emerged with from childhood. I was pretending on the pretending and I didn’t even know I was pretending. Most people don’t. They just know they want more.
So how does one go about cultivating authenticity, vulnerability and integrity?
Authenticity means being true to yourself. Not going with the crowd just because that’s the easiest way to win approval and acceptance. Taking time to truly find what lights you up inside, and not just doing what you think is expected of you from your parents, teachers, and friends. It means making hard and sometimes unpopular choices, but if you find the courage deep inside of you to do so, you’ll find the authenticity, and power, you never knew you didn’t have.
Vulnerability means expressing the full rainbow of emotions we human beings are capable of feeling, rather than just portraying a picture perfect veneer. Only when we are truly honest with others about who we really are, and what we’re experiencing, can we share a genuine heart connection. If you are being validated for an image of perfection you portray, your performance is being validated, not your authentic self; therefore, you don’t feel seen or loved.
One of the most effective ways I’ve found to get comfortable being vulnerable is to create art of any form. Art is effective in drawing out our vulnerabilities because in order to access our creativity, we must suspend our judgment, and let go of fears of what other people might say or think of us. In creating (paintings, music, writing, acting, dance) you are removing the mask you may not even know you hide behind. The more I did this, the more comfortable I got feeling exposed, and discovered in the midst of creative passion, the tell-tale signs of being in body – hot hands and feet, heightened concentration, and unabashed enthusiasm – appeared and I found myself relishing the elusive, present moment. In the throws of inspiration, there was no place I’d rather be, and the last thing I needed was more.
Integrity is being honest with yourself and others. It means telling the truth, and following through with what you’ve committed to do. Integrity is the willingness to apologize when you’re wrong and pave the way for forgiveness. A common saying amongst people healing from addiction is “you are only as sick as your secrets.” Integrity means telling the truth – even when it’s uncomfortable – even when it can get you in trouble. I grew up stretching and bending the truth because I pushed and rebelled, and when I got caught, I didn’t want to get in trouble. Sure I escaped being punished, but years later, in a never-ending quest for more, I found myself in a different kind of trouble. I had fear and shame (emotional pain) and as a result I was “out of body” and on the never-ending quest for more.
I finally resolved to tell the truth, even if my voice shakes. I committed to show up and follow through with what I set out to do; I began creating art, making music and writing. As I cultivated my authenticity, vulnerability, and integrity, I started to experience a contentment I’d never known before, and was surprised to see my addictions lose their grip on me. I still work, eat, shop, drink, love, and of course use the internet, but none of these things dictate my days or nights and rather than feeling like it’s not enough, I feel gratitude for my life and what I’ve created.
I now know the aforementioned practices were immensely powerful because they served as building blocks for what I now know as self worth. While there are certainly many different pathways to healing from addiction, I’ve found it cowers in the face of true self-worth. I realized this one day, when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and felt sincere love and respect for the woman staring back at me, and it felt really good to be in her body.
Facebook users could be considered narcissists or at least people who exaggerate their achievements and experiences to show off how great they are to others. When you think about it, Facebook could be an opportune venue for narcissists who keep expanding their audience, drawing in those who wish to bask in their sunlight, get invited to their parties and live vicariously through their experiences. This leads to the logical question: Does Facebook promote an exaggerated sense of self, a false facade of self-worth, or does it in actuality cultivate real self-esteem?
The Facebook profile is an idealized version of self, full of photos and posts to support a “quality” identity. In fact, some people post blatant lies, like about participating in golf tournaments when they don’t even play golf. Others exaggerate how much fun they had on a vacation by posting beautiful photos taken during the one hour of sun in a week filled with mudslides and torrential rain. In either case, one’s lies reveal truths about the self – the image that one wishes to create.
Sometimes when you tell other people your exaggerated achievements or make up stories about your noble aspirations, in essence you are boosting your own self-esteem. After all, these are your innermost wishes and dreams, the inner recesses of your imagination. Once you announce your “stories,” in posts for family, colleagues, friends and acquaintances to see, then you might set out to achieve your stories. Each story you live up to boosts your confidence to build on that experience and fulfill the next one. Who inspires you, a positive coach or a negative coach? In other words you virtually become your own positive coach: Look what I did!
For example, people who experience difficulty losing weight and really want to lose the weight often confide in their inner circle of family and friends for accountability and reinforcement – “there is no turning back now.” Or those who have failed in an endeavor and pledge to succeed in the future want others to see how they can transform failure into triumph. Everyone wants to live up to the better image: Conceive, believe, and achieve.
Reclaim your true identity:
You were born an original, first rate version of your authentic self. Don’t become a copy of someone else’s concept, second rate. Take the initiative to fulfill your true self.
Start accomplishing for yourself instead of always accomplishing for others.
Ask yourself: What do I need to communicate, so that others understand what I need?
Rid yourself of emotional programming, that false sense of perfectionism: The perfect job, lover, and home. Make your ideals real. Small steps lead to giant gains.
I am always on a constant search for people, places, and things that ignite a spark of energy within me and inspire me to be the best version of myself. I believe that awareness is the key to inspiration. In today’s world, with the news so cluttered with tragedy and unpredictable events, it is more important than ever to keep ourselves fully stocked with go-to inspiration that reminds us to be positive and proactive about the future—and the roles we play within it.
For this reason I have assembled THE LIST.
THE LIST will be my new monthly post, featuring the top five inspiring finds, gems that hit me at my core, morsels I cannot possibly think of keeping to myself. Good works, good people, good books, and good movies—all rolled into one post. I’m eagerly looking forward to sharing them all you!
So here’s the challenge at hand: Check out the top five inspirations that made THE LIST this month and let me know what you think in the comment section below. AND, if you want to go the extra mile, please post the links to your own awesome discoveries in the comment box so that you, too, can inspire the many readers who come across this post. Who knows, your contributions below may just end up on next month’s list!
Dig deeper and share today, and I’ll be sure to do the same.
1. The Drawing Hope Project
I received an email from photographer Shawn Van Daele last month. I had chills up and down my body and tears in my eyes as I read what it is that Shawn does and how he is impacting lives on a level I’ve never even imagined before.
Shawn is the founder of the Drawing Hope Project. He takes drawings created by children either born or living with health conditions and turns them into magical photo artwork. He is planning to pull all the images into a storybook that will be a constant reminder to kids and adults of all ages that anything is possible.
All of the kids (I should call them young artists) have defied the odds—surviving heart transplants, living with rare forms of leukemia, waiting on organ donors—and are still dreaming bigger than ever before. One little guy is still waiting on two lungs AND a heart, and he’s only four years old.
Shawn truly has a magical project under his belt that has already changed many lives. Check it out and be reminded of Shawn’s mission in your own life: any dream is possible, no matter what odds seem to be against you.
VIDEO FROM DRAWING HOPE:
Directed by Oscar®-nominated director, Roko Belic, and produced by Tom Shadyac, director of another amazing documentary called I AM, Happy is an award-winning documentary about the journey to find what makes human beings truly fulfilled in life.
From the slums of Kolkata to the the swamps of Louisiana, Happy asks the questions, “Does money make you happy? Kids and family? Your work? Do you live in a world that values and promotes happiness and wellbeing? Are we in the midst of a happiness revolution?” These questions alone are enough to challenge a lot of us, so one can only imagine what the whole seventy-five-minute documentary will do for your spirit!
3. Today We Are Rich
I read about one book a week so it is difficult for a book to stand out among so many. Tim Sander’s book, Today We Are Rich, is one that I cannot help but share.
Written as a memoir, Tim weaves us through a heartening journey filled with hardships and grace that helped him develop a framework for his own life centered on positivity and gratitude.
The book is packed with the kinds of lessons you just want to slip into your back pocket, one of them being, “Fill your mind with good stuff.” Just like we clean out our body or take on a cleanse to rid our systems of toxins, Tim suggests we go on a “mind cleanse” by feeding our mind the right kind of “mind food.”
Thanks to Tim’s advice, I’ve made personal decisions over the last few months to stop surrounding myself with negative people or letting myself be sunk down by the tragedies that clutter the news headlines on a daily basis. I’ve turned myself toward more upbeat conversations, people who want to lift me higher instead of bring me down, and good books, articles, and music. When I turned on the news a few weeks back, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. Instead, I felt cleansed and released from the ways the barrage of negativity used to hold me captive.
I don’t recommend many books. But this read is one you should make sure is on your bedside table by the end of the day. You’ll pick it up and instantly be better because of it. Who doesn’t want that?
Matisyahu recently released his new album, Spark Seeker. In the past months, he created a lot of disruption among his loyal fans because he shaved his beard and cut his hair (which goes against his Chassidic Jewish tradition). Me? I was already a fan of his music, but I really love how authentic he is and how he chooses to stay true to himself by living out loud.
He explained on his website last year:
No more Chassidic reggae superstar. Sorry folks, all you get is me…no alias.
When I started becoming religious 10 years ago it was a very natural and organic process. It was my choice. My journey: to discover my roots and explore Jewish spirituality—not through books but through real life. At a certain point I felt the need to submit to a higher level of religiosity…to move away from my intuition and to accept an ultimate truth. I felt that in order to become a good person I needed rules—lots of them—or else I would somehow fall apart. I am reclaiming myself. Trusting my goodness and my divine mission.
Get ready for an amazing year filled with music of rebirth. And for those concerned with my naked face, don’t worry… you haven’t seen the last of my facial hair.
I will try to write a couple of ideas and thoughts, but I prefer to speak in my native language, the language of the soul, Music. So I will preface this piece by asking that before prescribing judgement to some pictures, please wait and listen to my new record Spark Seeker from start to finish. The record is infused with both Jewish and universal inspiration, as it is a reflection of my inner landscape over the past 2 years of its making. From visions of the Bal Shem Tov to Kabbalah references, prayers in Hebrew and stories in Yiddish, this record was both a spiritual and reflective journey full of transition and growth. That being said, I believe there is a higher level…a level where there is no divisiveness. Where there is complete unity, and that is what I am mirroring. There was a time when I felt it was necessary to show the world what I believed in through my physical appearance. I think this can be a wonderful thing, but as my faith has evolved I have come to believe there are many other ways to show my spirituality and Judaism. Ways in which our humanity is emphasized over our differences. This was my aim for the music. This was always my aim. During the making of this record I began to feel that I was shedding something, and with that I chose to shave. Just as when I was 18 and I shaved my dreadlocks to let go of my identity, I felt as if I was returning to a time prior to religion or rules or right and wrong. To a place where truth shows itself in beauty and balance and I felt it was time to walk a new path. What that exactly means or looks like I am still figuring out, and will be for the rest of my life, I hope. To those who feel betrayed by my choices or my look, don’t worry, I think they will continue to change and evolve–that is the awesomeness of life. I think that through patience, in time you will see we are still on the same team. We are ALL on the same team. I am so excited for you to hear my new record I hope it will explain and inspire so much more then my words here can.
Sincerely In Love and Truth,
Matisyahu is forging his own path, but even more than that, he is not conforming to the standards of society and what people expect of him. He is blazing a trail and being a true example. It takes a great deal of courage to go against the stream for the sake of authenticity, but I believe we get to new levels when we choose to evolve and grow when seasons in our lives shift.
5. Baby Chimp Adopted By Dog (PHOTOS)
This one doesn’t even require a description. I am a HUGE animal lover so the pictures can speak for themselves.
A zoo employee cared for this baby chimp after its mother died but never expected that her dog would end up raising the chimp as one of her own.
So there you have it, my top five inspirations for the month. I hope you enjoyed checking them out as much I loved finding and sharing them. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comment box below and leave links for all the discoveries you’ve been loving lately. I will be clicking away and maybe even adding them to next month’s list!
Eric Handler is the publisher and co-founder of Positively Positive. Check out his TEDx talk. Follow Eric on TWITTER.