With all the things we can see needing our attention, it can be easy to neglect those things that aren’t leaping out at us. What do we mean? We mean the emotions, physical signs and red flags coming up on the inside. Yesterday we began to discover the correlation between our physical health and our feelings. Today we want to honor what is going on inside by slowing down enough to listening and then giving credence to what we discover.
When you feel anxious or depressed, do you try to get rid of these feelings, or do you learn from them?
Getting rid of anxiety and depression is big business – especially for the pharmaceutical companies. Drug sales for anti-anxiety meds and antidepressants are huge. This is very sad to me, because, while there are circumstances where these meds are medically called for, much of the time they are prescribed in an effort to simply get rid of our painful feelings. The problem with this is that it leaves us without the roadmap we need to navigate life in a loving, meaningful and joyful way.
Anxiety and depression have major information for us. Let’s compare these feelings to the pain you would feel if you grabbed a hot pan with your bare hand or cut your finger slicing your veggies.
The physical pain of the hot pan or the knife cut is giving you important information. It’s telling you to STOP DOING WHAT YOU ARE DOING! If you numbed your hand before grabbing the pan or cutting the veggies, you could badly burn your hand or badly injure your finger. We NEED these painful feelings to let us know when we are doing something that is harmful to us.
The same is true of anxiety and depression.
What might these feelings be telling you?
One of the main things they are telling you is that you are abandoning yourself in some way. There are many forms of self-abandonment that result in anxiety or depression: Continue reading
Much like the ocean, the mind is a vast world inside of our bodies- we have yet to fully understand it’s depths or its full power. Scientists still seek to understand the full effects of nature versus nurture, the distant impacts of our family tree on our behavior or how exposure to artificial light is changing our sleep patterns. Mental health has been a huge subject in our world recently as all sorts of variables (diet, hormones, random acts of God, etc) collide in creating sometimes highly volatile moments of experience. We are getting used to words like “depression” or “bipolar disorder” because we’re finding countless more friend, family and colleagues who live with them. If no one comes to mind, it is reported that 14.8 million adults in the US are affected by depression in any given year.
So what do we do? Continue reading
This is one of my favorite little snippets from Garden State, a movie I first saw in college and have loved ever since. It’s about a guy who has spent his entire life medicated to the point of feeling nothingness who meets a girl who is the essence of aliveness. When she starts to feel unoriginal or silly, she doesn’t sink into sadness. She’s not overcome with depression. She reminds herself of the truth- that she is an original and at any moment there is infinite capacity for anything to happen.
Let that blow your mind for a moment.
(I can wait.)
You might be sitting at your desk at work.
Maybe you’re on your couch at home.
At any moment you could get up and go do something.
That is one set of possibilities.
You could stay where you are.
That is another set of possibilities.
You could keep breathing, you could not.
Maybe that’s deeper than we need to go.
You could apply for a job.
You could quit a job.
You could make a bold profession of love.
Literally ANYTHING could happen right now.
And when your brain starts to creep around the corner of really grasping that, you can start to be excited about the possibilities. If there is a part of your life you don’t like, you are poised to change it. If there is a thing you wish could happen, now is just as good a time as any. You could move at any moment. You could stop moving at any moment. There are infinite possibilities for this moment that is always now.
Don’t be a bystander in your own story.
Know that you can be an active participant.
So what are you going to do now?
April showers bring May flowers – so the idiom goes, but who talks about how hard those April showers can be to get through? There are weeks during the year when it feels like the flood tides are rising and all you can do is let go into the current. Sometimes those weeks turn into months or longer, and that kind of depression takes different shapes in every person. However, there’s hope. There is a crazy idea that no matter what storms we whether there will be sunshine on the other side, and if we can make it there we’ll be better people for it. There’s hope and optimism that hard times lead to better things. Hope that our trials and tribulations will pay out in positive dividends. We have to believe that to keep going. At Intent we encourage that hope because we believe it to be absolutely true. It turns out we aren’t the only ones – check out these hopeful quotes below and spread them to anyone that could use a little joy.
A coaching client of mine lost her job – for the second time this year. Downsizing. Company problems. None of it had to do with her performance – which was exceptional. She received a glowing letter of recommendation from her CEO to help her land her next job. She asked, “Why is the world so against me? Why do bad things always happen to me?”
We all think this from time to time. We have great plans. They don’t work out. Someone we care about leaves. The person we want to spend time with can’t or won’t spend time with us. A storm damages our house, car or something that we value. Our company fails. We go bankrupt. We think the world has it out for us.
Then we look to see if we have been good – because, you know, it isn’t right or fair that bad things happen to good people. We feel that if we change, and become better, our lives will improve. Then another difficult life event happens and we are back to being depressed, challenged and upset. We, like my client, think the world has it out for us.
I used to think this when things until I heard something that changed my perspective. I was listening to a podcast about earthquakes. (Bear with me, this will make sense in a minute.) In the podcast, they were explaining why earthquakes happen – the movement of the tectonic plates deep within the earth. The earth is alive – the plates within the Earth are always moving. In short, the Earth does what is true to its nature – it brings the materials deep from the earth to the surface to regenerate and recharge itself. It isn’t spiteful or against us. It isn’t personal. Though we may be affected by an earthquake, it isn’t against us.
This helped me better understand life – it is as it is. We can choose to be disappointed, depressed, upset, bitter and hateful for what “happens to us” or we can see that life happens – it isn’t spiteful and the world isn’t against us. When we realize this, we can now focus our energy not to fight with it, feel victimized or be upset.
How can we remember to see that the world isn’t against us? Consider these:
- Remember: The only thing I can control is my response. We are small players in a big universe. We can’t control many of the things that affect our planet, country, state, neighborhood, house, family, work and health. We can, however, choose to show up present to each moment to see and understand what life is sharing with us – then choose the best response in the next moment, using all that we know. We can only control our response to the events of our lives – our thoughts, feelings and actions from the events; we can’t control the events.
- Ask: What are two opportunities that can come from this? Getting out of victim thinking and into an opportunity mindset is the key to thriving in our big wild world. By changing our focus from what is not right to seeing opportunities, we shift our energy from negative/victim (catabolic) to optimistic/opportunistic (anabolic). In this way, we can shift our energy from lack to one of power that can invent, create, solve, anticipate and appreciate.
- Ask: How will this help me show up bigger, truer, stronger, or more capable? Developing the ability to see opportunities, regardless of what life sends us, enables us to handle the tough events in life with grace, optimism and courage; we see them as the opportunity to be better. I think we are hardwired to struggle – meaning we have the built-in capacity to be resilient and tenacious. This enables us to go head-to-head with the tough times to use them to become more aware of how capable we truly are.
Life is as it is. It doesn’t pick a fight with us; it isn’t against us. It delivers what it delivers. Our days would be happier if we could learn to see life as a friend and a teacher. It is a friend when it sends us beautiful days, success and opportunity; it is a teacher when it sends us pain, challenge and struggle. Both are for us. Both benefit us. We can use both to show the world how strong, capable, courageous and amazing we can be.
I love that the sun is starting to stay a little longer every day.
Is there still a polar vortex? Is that still happening?
I think it’s safe to say everyone is over the polar vortex.
We’re ready for the sun.
It’s such a joy hanging out with the folks on Intent.com because no matter the weather- rain, clouds, Los Angeles- they are always so focused and driven to live whole-hearted, healthy lives.
Right now, in the wake of Spring and the Olympics, we’re hearing a lot of buzz about happiness. Some of my favorite words about happiness?
“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
“I’ve got nothing to do today but smile.”
What makes you happy?
What places in your life could use a little happiness?
Here are a couple of things you could do to help you find it:
1. Keep a gratitude journal. Some people keep track of happy moments or things via journal or awesome jar or some other method for recording and saving.
2. Meditation. Take a few moments in your morning to focus on what you’re looking for. “Today I intend to find happiness in even the smallest moments.” Keeping that at the forefront of your mind all day has this way of making those bight spots of happy all the brighter when they happen because you’re not bussing right by. You’re training your eyes to see them.
3. Set an intent. I’d be remiss if I did not encourage you to create your own Intent.com profile. You can share your intentions (the one about happiness seems like a good place to start!), get feedback and encouragement, keep track of how you’re doing, whatever you need it to be. You have the opportunity to combine the perks of a journal with real humans who are walking alongside with you. So why not? Check out these intentions:
So, as the Patridge family so famously sang, “come on, get happy!”
We’re with you!
Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.“
– Oprah Winfrey
When I first moved to California my aunt and uncle were kind enough to let me live in their guest room rent-free until I was able to find a job. The arrangement was not supposed to last more than three months. Instead, it lasted nine.
They lived 45 minutes north of Los Angeles, which was a lot more convenient than my parents’ house 3,000 miles away, but it still felt like a world away from where I wanted to be. Every day I spent the morning sending in job applications, trolling the internet for more places to apply to, nagging every contact I had to see if they had heard of any openings. There were a couple of interviews but they were weeks apart and it was becoming obvious that none of them were going to work out. I started applying for local retail part time jobs as well, just to get some cash coming in but with the unemployment market the way it was they knew better than to hire a recent college graduate who was trying everything they could to get their “dream job.”
Needless to say, it wasn’t long before the depression set in. My aunt and uncle were amazing and so generous during this time, but I still felt separated from all of my friends back home and I knew no one in the place I wanted to be. There were one or two people from college living in LA but if I was being honest, their success while I was struggling to figure out exactly what I wanted to do just made everything more frustrating. I felt so alone.
Then I made the most important decision that I’ve made since moving to the west coast. I decided to take an intro-level improv class at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. At first I naively thought I could take one class, prove to be an improv messiah and be hired as Amy Poehler’s assistant before the whole thing was over, or at least get a hook up for a page job at NBC – not to mention it’d force me out of the house and into the city for three hours a week. Of course, I’m still waiting for my call from Amy but what I did find will be more instrumental in my success than any job interview or fancy contact will ever be. I found my tribe.
Suddenly I was surrounded by people exactly like me. They were all at varying points on the road to being able to pay rent by entertaining people, but we were all traveling together. They were people who cared about being funny. About performing. About writing. And as we learned to “Yes, and…” and listen together, we began to care about each other. Improv is entirely about support, after all. It’d still be another two months before I found employment, but taking that class and making those friends gave me a whole new outlook on my journey in Los Angeles. I felt a renewed energy and motivation. I listened to their stories and soaked up their wisdom. I went to their shows and clapped the loudest. For the first time in almost a year since I uprooted my life to go after this ridiculous dream, I felt like I belonged here.
Last summer when comedian/writer Katie Dippold released her first written feature length movie The Heat, her old friend and fellow comedian Chris Gethard wrote an essay about it, and how Katie had been a fundamental part of finding his own tribe.
Now maybe you think you have a shot at being a creative person who pays their rent by being creative. Maybe you’re scared to go for it, like I once was. Maybe you have something you want to do and you don’t know if you can really do it. My suggestion, based on experience, is to find someone else who might be uncertain of themselves, and be brave enough to tell them what you see in them. Be brave enough to hear about the belief they have in you. Be the lighter fluid for someone else, and let them fan your flames too. Find your tribe.“
Finding your tribe is not at all about finding the people who are the best connections to get you to the next level. No, those are contacts and you should keep them separate. Your tribe are the first people you call when you land the big job because they were the people you cried to all the times you didn’t. Your tribe are the people who tell you that you’re being an idiot and you need to focus when you blow off a writing a deadline. They are the people that pick you up and take you to the movies the morning after you’ve had your heart broken to give you something else to think about. Your tribe are the people that hold your hand when things are messy and they are the ones that clap the loudest when all of it becomes clear.
After that first class I started taking more and over the past year I’ve been steadily adding more and more people to the tribe. This advice isn’t just for creative people because it’s not just creative people that need support. Everyone participating in life needs a tribe. So do yourself a favor and look at the people you spend the majority of your time with. If any of them make you feel less than deserving of all the things you want, tell them to beat it. Make the conscious effort to surround yourself with people that not only support you, but have the strength and integrity to call you out when you’re being ridiculous. As Oprah said, you need the people who will ride the bus before they’ll ride the limo. These people are your magic potion, your cheat sheet, they’re the key thing you need to get you to where you want to go.
If you’re in need of finding the right people for your tribe, take a risk and put yourself out there. You can follow my footsteps and take a class. Or you could join a book club. Peruse MeetUps.com for people that follow your interests. Put yourself in a room with people you don’t know but who have a common interest or goal and see what happens. And don’t disqualify the internet as a great place for meeting those people. Message boards and social media sites are great ways to meet people you otherwise wouldn’t have who share your passions and can be a great resource as you start to figure yourself out.
Find your tribe. Find your happiness. Find you.
Most people know Demi Lovato from her stint as a Disney Channel princess (no really, she did play a princess in one of their Disney Channel original movies – Princess Protection Program) or you recognize her as a judge on FOX’s X-Factor. What you might not know is that a couple of years ago the pop singer entered a rehabilitation clinic to battle her issues with self-harm and an eating disorder. When she emerged from treatment she had the words “Stay Strong” tattooed on her wrists to help remind her of the strength she has to overcome the personal demons she was battling.
Demi has been vocal about her struggles, sharing quotes and advice to her 20 million Twitter and Facebook followers. She’s an advocate against bullying and works constantly to provide support services and positive outlooks for young people that struggle with the same issues that she has had to face. Her latest effort to bring support and positivity into the lives of teens dealing with depression and eating disorders is a new book “Staying Strong” which is a collection of 365 quotes and meditations that Demi has personally used to help motivate herself and bring her out of dark places. We are giving out five copies of the book this week from Intent Blog and Intent.com so make sure you comment below for your chance to get one!
In celebration of Demi’s recovery and in honor of her work in trying to provide a bright light for those struggling with the same things we have compiled a few of our favorite quotes from “Staying Strong.” We hope that if you are dealing with any darkness that they empower you to seek help and your own light to find your inner strength.
On sharing and community: “Listen to other people’s stories and find the strength and beauty in their actions“
Demi: I love to hear my fans’ stories because they are so inspiring. They tell me how they have overcome bullying, eating disorders, addictions, cutting and it’s amazing how much strength we each have inside us. I also believe that when you share your story the strength in you grows and the inspirational effect you have on others multiplies. It takes courage to open up to others.
On positive influences: “You’re only as strong as your weakest member; you’re only as positive as your most negative friend” – Kelly Rowland
Demi: It’s important to remember how our friends have such a powerful influence on us and vice versa. This can be a great thing as long as your friends surround you with love, loyalty, respect and positivity.
On jealousy: “Don’t torment yourself with jealousy. It’s a silly illusion that someone’s life is better than yours when the truth is that each one of us is on a different path.”
Demi: There are times in my life when I let myself get consumed with jealously for someone else’s life, their body, their wardrobe, their talent. They call it the green-eyed monster for a reason. It’s a self destructive and when it’s in the room, it consumes you. Be strong and don’t focus on what other people have.
On giving: “Give what you want to receive. If you want happiness, make others happy.” – Russell Simmons
Demi: It’s a simple law of attraction that you get back what you put out into the universe. The more love you give, the more love you attract. The more love you attract, the more love you receive. WHen we put good energy into the world, we feel good. We make those around us feel good.
On peace: “If you and I are having a single thought of violence or hatred against anyone in the world at this moment, we are contributing to the wounding of the world” – Deepak Chopra
Demi: Violence is the easy way out and it only leads to more violence. We need people in this world who are willing to find solutions through peace, through communication, honesty and diplomacy. World peace may seem impossible, but it’s worth aiming for.
On creativity: “And all the colors I am inside have not been invented yet.” – Shel Silverstein
Creativity is so much more than just producing art. It also allows you to purge toxic emotions and thoughts in a positive, healthy way. For me, it’s singing and playing music. When I perform I’m able to express my emotions without engaging in self-destructive behaviors.
On fear: “I am not fearless. I get scared plenty. But I have also learned how to channel that emotion to sharpen me” – Bear Grylls
Demi: All fear has ever done is hold me back. I have so many things I want to accomplish in my life. For myself and for the world. Fear is useless; it just gets in the way of accomplishing everything Overcome fear today and and confront one of your phobias.
If you have a favorite quote share it in the comments below!
Demi Lovato’s “Staying Strong” was published via Macmillan Publishers on Nov. 19, 2013. Comment below to win a copy or purchase from any major book retailers.
For many of us this is a season when it feels that we are going faster and faster. Everything’s racing, through school semesters, wrapping up work commitments, entering the holidays; the currents of life are in full tilt.
Given the time of year, one student fell into a period of intense stress resulting from a cycle of classes, studying, working and little sleep. He didn’t realize how long he had neglected to write home until he received the following note:
Your mother and I enjoyed your last letter.
Of course, we were much younger then and more impressionable.
As you know, it’s not just students. Some months ago a friend described getting caught in this state busy-ness while trying to get her daughter to school. She was busy getting things ready while her daughter was trying to show her something. Every time her daughter would call her over she would say, “Just hang on a moment. I’ll be there in a second.” After several rounds of this, the little four-year old came out of her room tired of waiting. She said to her mother, hands on hips:
“Why are you always so busy? What’s your name? Is it President O’mama or something?”
Along with the speediness we have the sense that there is not enough time. It’s interesting to observe how often we are living with that perception. It is usually accompanied by a squeeze of anxiety:
“I’m not going to be prepared,” and a chain of insecurities. “There’s something around the corner that is going to be too much,” “I’m going to fall short,” “I won’t get something critical done.” There’s this sense that we’re on our way somewhere else and that what’s right here is not the time that matters. We’re trying to get to the point in the future when we’ve finally checked everything off our to-do list and we can rest. As long as this is our habit, we are racing toward the end of our life. We are skimming the surface, and unable to arrive in our life.
Thomas Merton describes the rush and pressure of modern life as a form of contemporary violence. He says:
“…to be surrendering to too many demands, too many concerns, is to succumb to the violence.”
When we’re speeding along, we violate our own natural rhythms in a way that prevents us from listening to our inner life and being in a resonant field with others. We get tight. We get small. We override our capacity to appreciate beauty, to celebrate, to serve from the heart.
Our mindfulness practice offers us the opportunity to pause and rediscover the space of presence. When we stop charging forward and open to what’s here, there’s a radical shift in our experience of being alive. As we touch into this space of Hereness, we access a wisdom, a love and a creativity that are not available when we’re on our way somewhere else. We are home, in our aliveness and our spirit.