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Find A Hero

Whether it is politicians, gun toting maniacs killing children randomly, power hungry egomaniacs defrauding people of their life savings, or terrorists killing innocents, wreaking havoc and destruction, it is hard to escape the feeling that the standard for ‘human’ behavior is sinking lower by the day. It is very difficult not to feel despair at the lack of basic morality, compassion, integrity, empathy and justice that appears to be so prevalent in the world today.

It is easy to focus on the villains – they are all over the news and the media.

What needs much more intentionality is to look for the heroes. Those who are silently lighting candles rather than blaming the darkness (or looting in the dark) are easy to miss. They seldom make headline news.

And yet it is the heroes that we need more than ever today. Heroes that live their values with integrity, stand for justice and are a force for good on this planet. Heroes that renew our faith in humanity and stand as...

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Trying to get rid of negative feelings?

positive thinking Oct 06, 2016

Are you desperately trying to get rid of negative feelings so that you can be happy?

Good luck with that!

According to research on happiness by Russ Harris (The Happiness Trap) it is unrealistic to expect that we can get rid of all negative feelings.

In fact, emotional wellbeing entails experiencing and embracing a full range of human emotions, sadness, grief, happiness and joy.

We cannot selectively turn off certain emotions. When we try to suppress negative emotions, we end up putting a blanket on all emotions. We cannot really feel joy if we do not allow ourselves to experience sadness.

A more useful approach to emotions is to recognize and label the emotion we are feeling and to acknowledge it, knowing that all emotions are transitory.

Happiness and sadness come and go. Let us practice noticing and labeling the emotion we are experiencing.

A simple but very powerful exercise.

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What’s the worst that can happen

When we are starting something new, it is natural to feel apprehensive about the outcome and to fear failure. The mind will likely come up with a lot of 'what ifs' followed by a picture of catastrophic failure.

At times when your mind starts to go down the spiral of what dismal failure looks like, it is good to do a reality check and ask yourself: "what's the worst that can happen"?

Very rarely will the answer be one of life or death (unless you are a neurosurgeon or an astronaut, in which case please take your apprehensions seriously).

For the majority of us, the worst case scenario is no worse than the present situation. Except maybe for a slightly bruised ego. And a loss of time, effort and maybe some money.

While the mind is ready to go to the worst case scenario, we need to gently nudge it in another direction by asking a follow up question: "What is the best that can happen?"

Mostly, you will find the risk involved in taking action is worth the potential payoff.

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Judging others and ourselves

What happens when someone falls short of your expectations? Do you judge them by their failure to act in accordance with your expectations? If a close friend forgets a birthday, for example, do you judge them for their failure to remember?

Now when you fail to do something, do you judge yourself by your good intentions? For example, I always intend to wish friends on their birthdays but often lose track of the day until it has passed. I often console myself by reminding myself that I did intend to call but somehow didn't.

How about assuming that everyone has at least as good intentions as we do?

We are likely to be so much more forgiving of small and big lapses if we practice this regularly.

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Ready Fire Aim

No that's not a typo. We have all heard the recommendation to get ready, aim and then fire. Metaphorically this relates to any plan of action that we may have.

If you're anything like me however, you spend so much time getting ready and aiming that by the time you fire, the target has moved! The actions are too late and irrelevant at this point. In today's fast moving society, this is truer than ever.

On the other hand, when you get in the habit of firing by taking action, you will get feedback and can keep improving your aim until you hit the target eventually.

Life, as they say, rewards action. Let us not wait until we 'have it all figured out'. Let us start taking action and learn from our mistakes. We can only fine tune once we have begun.

Ready, Fire, Aim!

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The Miracle of the Chinese Bamboo Tree

In these days of instant feedback and results, it is challenging to remember that some things take time.

Such as farming, gardening, building relationships and parenting.

It can be disheartening when we feel we are working hard but not seeing immediate results.

On days that we feel that are efforts are not bearing fruit, it may be helpful to remind ourselves about the Miracle of the Chinese Bamboo Tree, a lovely parable about the power of faith, patience and perseverance.

The Chinese Bamboo Tree tests the patience of those who plant it. After planting it and nurturing it with water, soil and sunshine, the farmer sees no visible signs of growth at all.

Not for the whole of the first year.

Or the second . . . or third . . . or fourth.

By this time, the farmer begins to feel as if he is doing something wrong or that is there is something faulty with the seed itself. There is self doubt and loss of faith beginning to creep up.

Faced with barren land and no sign of reward for his...

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Hope is not a strategy

Hope by itself is not a strategy. Merely hoping or imagining a great outcome will not make it happen nor will it make your dreams or goals come true.

Hope, however, IS a very important part of making dreams and goals become reality.

In fact, we could say that it is an essential first step in changing what we are not satisfied with. Only with a hope for a better future are we motivated to take action.

Hope then, is a necessary but not sufficient ingredient for change and transformation.

It must be combined with action for dreams to become reality.

Think of an area in your life where you are dissatisfied. What are your best hopes? What would be a great outcome?

What is one tiny step YOU can take towards making that hope into a reality?

ONE. TINY. STEP.

That is all you need to start.

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What DO you want?

Easy question right?

For many of us, it is a less than easy question to answer. It is so much easier to talk about what we don't want.

Our brain is geared towards avoiding pain and so it is easy for us to recognize what we want to move away from and what we don't like.

Getting clear on what we DO want is not automatic. It takes intentionality and reflection.

It is worth the effort though because we are much more likely to get want we want in life (and in relationships) if we are clear on what we want.

Begin noticing how many times you talk about what you don't want . . .

Here are some things I noticed just this week:

I don't want to be overweight
I don't want to go to the dentist
I don't want to take flights that land in the night
I don't like action movies
I don't like loud spaces

What do I like and want?

I would like to be an ideal weight
I would like to have a perfect set of teeth
I prefer daytime flying
I like movies which are calming to the nervous system
I prefer quiet spaces

...
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Getting confident

All of us feel more confident in some areas of our life than in others. For areas that we are less than confident in, we tend to tell ourselves that once we feel confident, we will take action in this area.

But here's the thing: confidence only comes from taking action.

It is practice which gives us the confidence. Confidence without doing the necessary practice is actually foolhardiness not confidence!

Think of when you started to drive. (or cook, or work . . .)

Remember how you were nervous even after you passed your road test? You started taking the car around the corner and then down the street. Slowly with practice you felt comfortable going further and you finally made it on the highway. If you had waited to have full confidence before you drove, you would have never taken the car out of the garage.

You decided to push through the feeling of nervousness and fear and take action despite those feelings.

Now that you are a confident driver, it may be hard to even remember those...

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Venting is so old fashioned

Many of us have been led to believe that it is good to 'let it all out'. To talk about our problems. To vent or 'ventilate' our issues.

Just think about it - have you an issue or a problem that you have been venting about for a while? A long time? More than a month? A year? Several years?

Has venting helped or has it, in fact, solidified the problem, made it grow roots so that is now firmly established as a 'thing' in your life?

While talking about a problem can SOMETIMES help, more often than not, it does little good. It grows roots for the problem and it can actually stop us from engaging our brain in finding solutions for the problem or the issue.

The latest research in psychology and neuroscience suggests that is more helpful to talk through your problems, that is discuss them with a view to looking for solutions and alternatives.

So while venting occasionally about an issue may help you feel better in the short term, know that it is not an effective strategy for happiness in...

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