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LIFE. The best depiction of life is by looking at a tree. A strong foundation with numerous hanging branches and leaves. Some of the branches flourish more than others and the longer it is around, the thicker the branch becomes. Then there are other branches that wither and eventually fall off.

The strong foundation of a tree represents who we are. Our core selves. Our morals, thoughts, and feelings. This is the aspect of our lives that we need to work on the most. It will essentially decide where we “branch” off into in our lives. A strong foundation requires you to love yourself for who you are (not in a narcissistic way, but one of confidence and self-actualization). Your strong foundation leads your thoughts which results in the actions you take in your life. And while this should be the most fundamental aspect we should concentrate on, people seem to overlook it.

We go about our daily lives without being conscious about who and what we are. We act on impulses and instant gratification. This leads to trouble and at worst, uncontrollable actions. Why is it that so many people are unhappy? It is because we don’t work enough on our own foundations. Our core values determines our lives! Every single aspect of our lives! We must be constantly aware of self-improvement to better ourselves. To build a strong foundation to guide the rest of our lives.

Once a strong foundation is set, then the branches of life starts to take its course. On some branches, you’ll be very happy with yourself. Keep building these up and ensure these branches remain strong and flourishing. These branches are there to remind you of the goodness that you should appreciate in your life. The times and memories that makes your life wonderful.

But, there’s also guaranteed to be obstacles in your life and you will fail at times. These are your weak branches: thin and frail. You will be defeated sometimes. Life will get hard. If you keep these branches, then they only weaken you. Don’t dwell on it - it surely doesn’t help you. Let these weak branches go. Let those break off and fall onto the ground. Once you’re able to do so, fill that empty space with something fresh, new, and alive!

The tree of life. You determine how beautiful it is to look at.

 

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Take a moment and sit with me. Relax. It’s time to reflect on your life. Think about what your short and long term goals are. Now think about what you do on a daily basis. What’s your daily life consist of? Are you happy? Or are you sad? Are you just okay?

If you’re truly happy, great :D

If you’re anything less, why? Is it because you’re not living the life you envisioned for yourself? Are your priorities out of order?

Read below:

Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered, “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

True?

Absolutely.

No matter how old you are, do you feel as if you’re truly “LIVING”? You should feel like you’re making your life worthwhile, not just letting it pass you by. Don’t be a bystander to your own life. Live like life actually means something. Because it should. It is a gift to you - don’t be reckless with it!

The Dalai Lama states that we work our health (and life) away for money. We have become a world that is so concentrated on money, status, and materialism. Why have we enslaved ourselves to such a vicious cycle? Will money still make you happy when your health is poor? And no, money will not always make you healthy again. It can only help so much, until your luck runs out.

If you’re not a bajillionaire, you may believe that money will make you happy. But once you become a bajillionaire, you will see that it does not.

Jim Carrey said it best:

“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”

If you’re going to chase riches, be rich in your mind, heart, and soul. Enrich your life with simplicity and knowledge. You will see that once you’re rich in these aspects, you will truly feel lucky and happy.

If you’re going to chase money, do it for the right reasons. Money is just the byproduct. In actuality, you’re chasing something different. You’re chasing freedom. You’re chasing the ability to give a new life to your family. You’re chasing the potential to help millions of people. You’re chasing the chance to change the world.

Whatever you’re chasing in life, make it good. Make it count. So what are you chasing?

While you’re re-analyzing your life, check out this pretty cool video to help get you going:

www.thedashmovie.com

 

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What we determine to be the realities of our life is actually how we choose to perceive it. How we perceive our own actions may be completely different than how somebody else may interpret the same exact actions. Your intentions may be good, but there can always be somebody who may take it the wrong way.

The spark to this article came about when I recently saw a man holding his significant other’s handbag. No, she wasn’t going to the restroom and he just had to hold it real quick. They were just simply walking down the street and he had the handbag over his shoulder. For all those guys out there that are like me, you’re thinking, “What?! He voluntarily was holding the handbag for her?!” And yes, he sure was.

So let’s analyze this. I, as an American born male, naturally thinks that this is odd. It’s not “manly”. It’s one of those moments where if you get caught doing it, you think to yourself “Quick…do something manly! ::rips out chest hair:: ” It’s just a part of our culture. Our reality states that the perception of this, is one that will warrant looks from strangers and will embarrass us.

Now, what’s the perception of the man that is holding his significant other’s bag? Well, in his culture (which I dug a little to find out), it’s perfectly normal. So if they were in their country of origin, they would not get looks from strangers. So that makes me wonder…

In their country, would the guys who aren’t holding their significant other’s handbags considered unchivalrous? Interesting isn’t it?

So the perception in America of a man holding a handbag is one of a negative one. That’s the reality that most of us have grown up on. Our reality states that it is not manly, so don’t do it. Now, the perception of the man who is holding his significant other’s handbag is one of chivalry. He probably thinks “I want to make it as easy for her as possible so I want to carry her handbag to take that load off for her.” That’s where I would just say, “Well then honey, just don’t bring a handbag!” Ha, I’m kidding, but not really…

But anyways, the point of this article is to have you, as the readers, open up and accept different people and/or cultures. Just because your perception creates your own reality, it doesn’t mean it’s the same for all those around you. If you able to keep this open-mindedness as you go throughout your days, you’d learn to be much more accepting in your life. Heck, you would even learn a whole bunch about human nature just by observing and accepting rather than staring and judging.

So if there can be so many perceptions of every single action you perform, whose perception should you actually be concerned about?

Clearly, your own.

It may be hard to at times, but you should always act on what, who, and how you want to perceive yourself as, not others. If you do this, life will be much simpler and you will absolutely be happier. Why? Because of the simple fact that you have rid of the giant burden of what others think of you. You’ve rid of the burden of trying to create an image that others will have of you.

Create an image of yourself where you will respect yourself for. If need be, re-create over and over until you love your perception of your own reality.

 

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What the heck does that even mean? How do you save yourself by keeping your thoughts to yourself?

Let’s start off with some questions:

What is one of the first things you do when you get angry or annoyed at a situation? Do you call or text your friends to vent? Do you get your closest friends together and update them all at once?

What happens then? Of course since they’re your closest friends, they’re more likely than not going to back you up and tell you that you’re right. You feel good after venting, but now whenever there’s an update, the subject is brought up again. What comes with it is just more negative feelings resurfacing constantly. Now your thoughts are easily distracted and consumed with this negativity.

Is this not true? When we’re in a crummy part of our life, all we do is vent about it. It’s all we want to do. We do it because we like the support that comes with it.

For example, when you hate your job and you’re absolutely miserable waking up to it every day, your friends and family all know it because it’s plastered all over - from your conversations to your social status updates. It consumes your thoughts and guess what? It only makes your days worse.

The situation can be anything: trouble with friends, a bumpy relationship, etc. When you present your current negative points of life to the masses, you might actually get more bad than good. You may get temporary support when you vent, but man oh man do your days stink because it’s all you think about. It makes your days worse because even when you’re finally not thinking about it, you’ve told so many people that the topic will be brought up again. Boom, there comes negativity knocking on your door once again.

This is why I’m a big advocate of keeping the hardships of life to oneself. It is okay to vent once in a while, but when you’re constantly venting, well, you’re actually just complaining all the time. When you do this to yourself, you’re going to drive your mind insane. You won’t be able to take your mind off it and it’ll consume your day. Let me rephrase: negative thoughts will consume your day. That is certainly no way to live out our lives.

It is very difficult to keep our own situations to ourselves, I understand. It’s on your mind so you can help but just blurt it out. But in doing so, you’re not doing yourself any justice because you’re escalating the situation worse…for yourself. Our minds have a way of making the SAME situation even worse, just by thinking too much about it. We start to over-analyze and create scenarios in our minds. We ask “how come” and “what if” questions. It ruins our moods. It ruins our days. Why let it?

So by learning to keep complaints to yourself, you learn incredible self-control on how to handle your mind and thoughts. You learn that no matter how much you may vent to others and think it’ll make you feel better, you actually may not because ultimately, it’s up to yourself and the way you think about it to feel better.

So give it a try. Whatever your situation is, from hating your job to relationship problems, try to keep it to yourself and learn to work through it within yourself. You’ll only come out stronger. Then you’ll quickly start to realize what actions you should take to get out of your negative situation, but that’s a whole topic on its own :)

Good luck!

 

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By Diane Lang

As I sit outside in my backyard on this lazy June day, I become mindful of everything around me. I realize all that I have is with me right here and now. I realize that on days when the glass seems half empty I should realize how full it is by pouring in some gratitude and appreciation for all I have. So, I sat still for about fifteen minutes and soaked in all that life has to offer and surprisingly it was all free of charge. This list is just a reminder of all the abundance we have in our lives at any moment. This is a reminder to live in the here and now. We are happiest when we live in the moment.

Abundance List:

  1. The clear sky with it’s bright blue coloring
  2. The sun shining
  3. The warmth that I felt on my skin on this sunny beautiful day
  4. The breeze that cooled me off
  5. The green grass that feels cool on my feet
  6. The beautiful surroundings that make me smile every time I look around me
  7. A sense of higher power – looking around at all this beauty there has to be something bigger then us
  8. My adorable 12 year old golden retriever who doesn’t seem to realize he is aging while he nudges me with his ball. This scenario always causes me to smile.
  9. The local libraries that offer me free books, movies and magazines which I took advantage of on this beautiful, lazy day
  10. The ability to read my books and use my creativity & imagination to a get a full view of the characters and the story I’m reading. There is nothing like visualizing!
  11. The freedom to choose what I want to do with my time and my life. I’m lucky to have the freedom to take the day off and enjoy it the way I please.
  12. The ability to change my perspective at any time. I have the ability to see the glass half full or empty – I choose full!
  13. The ability to laugh and smile which is contagious so pass it on. Smiling and laughing gives us an instant boost of happiness and reduce our stress.

Send me your abundance list at lifeline36@aol.com   The best part is writing the list. As you write the list, you will be in a moment of gratitude and appreciation, you will feel a boost of happiness.     

Upcoming workshops:   Tuesday, June 7 at 11am - Letting go of Anger YMCA of Burlington County at the Women’s Opportunity Center 856-234-6200 ext 224   Tuesday, June 7 at 6:30pm- Create Balance & relieve anxiety Warren Community College, NJ 908-689-7613   Tuesday, June 14 6:30pm - Happiness - Living an optimistic lifestyle Warren Community College, NJ 908-689-7613   Thursday, June 16 7pm - Free workshop - Letting go of Anger Stony Point Library, Rockland County, NY 845-786-2100   Thursday, June 23 7pm - Happiness - living an optimistic lifestyle Mystical World, Lyndhurst, NJ 201-896-3999  

For more information on Diane Lang visit her website: www.dlcounseling.com or e-mail Diane at lifeline36@aol.com

Choose Your Words Carefully - They Carry More Power Than You Think

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”

Or can they. They sure can. The words we use have so much power behind them, that without realizing the consequences (positive or negative), we may be losing out on the bigger picture. How we word our sentences determines reactions. It also determines how we are perceived as individuals.

Words can be used for good. Or words can be used to hurt others. When we trash talk others, whether it is in front of the person or not, it is still mean and hurtful. But we tend to do it a lot. Especially trash talking others behind their back. And while it can be justified as “venting” about others to feel better,  ask yourself whether you would ever say it in front of the person when you can actually see their feelings get hurt. To watch their facial expression transform to sadness. Then would you still say the same things? Likely not.

While we all hope that people don’t trash talk us, why do we ourselves do it so often? We tell ourselves, “he/she will never find out what I’m saying.” Perhaps not, but does that justify our words? Does that make it okay to be mean? Usually when we feel angry and want to vent about others, we trash talk instinctively. What if we were to take a few steps back and wait to calm down. Wouldn’t it be that much easier to bite our tongue then? We can still vent about a situation, but cutting back on cruel words can make all the difference.

When we say mean things about others, we don’t realize how harsh it actually sounds. The trigger for this article that happened for me was when I was listening to strangers say mean things about their “friends”. The words used were just so superficial. Trash talking sessions between friends really aren’t a necessary part of bonding. It actually becomes a bad habit. When the same group of friends come together and a name pops up, there will automatically be a switch to turn on the hate. What’s worse is that if there’s a person who does not know the victim, and one day actually meets him/her, judgment has already been passed. The victim had no chance from the beginning. Ouch.

This also gives us such a limited view on life’s experiences. A person who is hated on constantly will never be given a second chance. It closes off your own heart to any and all of their possibly good intentions. Whether you’re right or wrong about the individual does not matter. Let others have the chance to see for themselves. We can reserve our own comments and learn to be better people by not getting caught up in trash talk. Don’t get absorbed into group-think. Instead, be the person who influences the group to move on with the subject. Say it however you want, but the more you’re able to stop the group, and especially yourself, on ranting mean comments about others, the less likely trash talk will be the subject of conversation.

Words are so powerful. So powerful that we don’t even realize it sometimes. It is literally a constant part of our daily lives. So let’s make a pact to ourselves. Cut down on the trash talk. Make the world a friendlier place. Perhaps the ripple effect of such behavior can go much further than we can even imagine.

 

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We seem to live in a society that likes to nit-pick at one’s imperfections. Look around and see how critical the world is. Listen to the harsh words that are said by everyone around you, as well as the media. It is quite a mean playground we live in. But why should imperfections be a bad thing? And how often are they truly “imperfections”?

Who determines your imperfections? Society? It would seem so because society has so many standards, but one should never live by the absolutely imperfect standards that have been set by society. It is a battle you’ll rarely win. Just be YOU. How you feel, how you react to situations, how you look, what goals you have in life etc…do what feels like YOU. Do not let society dictate what you should mold into because it’s the “standard.”

And are character imperfections so bad? At the surface, it would appear so. However, think about the good that imperfections can actually produce. One great result of an “imperfection” is humility. If YOU see one of your characteristics as an imperfection, you surely won’t brag about it! And always remember this: do not let that “imperfection” bring you down. Instead, see it as a way to keep yourself accountable. It’s just another crack in the road we call life that we, ourselves, can decide if we would like to fix it or not.

Bragging is never an attractive feature, no matter how much one has accomplished. You gain friends and keep friends by being humble. Very often, you will not get very good reactions from being a show-off. People will either tune you out, think that or may even feel completely jealous about you. What satisfaction does one actually get out of all that? One may try to speak a lot about one’s accomplishments for the purpose of gaining adoration, but the complete opposite may actually occur. If you’re well accomplished or you have something that you’re proud of, it’ll speak for itself. There’s no need to force the world to know it. This is humility. And if you think about it, you will actually have a much more powerful effect if you are well accomplished yet humble, because you will gain the respect of your peers. Why? Primarily because you do not put yourself above them but keep it at a equal level.

“Imperfections” you believe you have keep you from bragging. It shows you that no matter how “perfect” other characteristics you have may be, there’s still work to be done. Our human life is always a work in progress. When you work through an “imperfection”, remember the process and really absorb it. It’ll keep you feeling level, as you’ll appreciate the transition you’ve made.

So no matter what your looks are, whatever character “flaws” you have, and however much you may feel like you do not conform with society, remember that the good and “bad” of your personalities is what makes up YOU. That is what makes you special and unique from everyone else. And if YOU decide to work on traits that YOUbelieve are “imperfections”, remember the journey of personal improvement because it’ll help you keep up your humility!

   

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I always emphasize on the importance of self-improvement in one’s life because there is absolute truth that being satisfied in who you are as a person is one of the biggest attributable factors to one’s personal happiness. We owe it to ourselves to be the greatest at who and what we are. That’s not to say that we have to be the BEST overall; it’s not a competition between you and others. Essentially, it’s a personal growth test: it is you versus you. You strive to be the best…the best YOU possible.

And that may sound like one should strive for perfection. But isn’t striving for perfection near impossible? What is perceived as perfect to one, may be considered an absolute disaster to another. Borrowing (and slightly altering) an age old idiom works well in this case: “Perfection is in the eye of the beholder.” So if we are to strive for perfection, aren’t we working towards that goal for somebody else? For the beholder? Why are we doing that when it’s a journey for our own personal growth?

Remember your reasons for pursuing a journey of personal growth. It’s for you. For you to be happy and satisfied with who you are. It’s for you to go about your daily life and be enthusiastic about it each and every day. To feel ALIVE, because when you are truly happy, you will feel very much alive. And while you do work on personal growth for yourself, the extra bonus is that you will positively influence all of those around you, whether directly or indirectly. By teaching what you’ve learned in your personal growth journey to them, others will have you as an example as to how they want to feel in their lives as well. Indirectly, you can simply make somebody’s day better just by them encountering you. How? Have you had those moments in your life when a complete stranger showed genuine kindness and happiness in public to others and you thought to yourself, “Wow, that was refreshing to see/hear.”

You can be that person. Be refreshing simply by being the BEST YOU possible.

Who do you want to be? Go out and develop into that person.

What do you want to do with your life? Have the courage to break out of the norm and do whatever you want.

How do you get there? By starting today and being aware of where you want to be in your life!

 

Be the change you want to see in the world

Would you consider yourself selfless? If you do, that’s wonderful because there needs to be a greater sense of selflessness in our world nowadays. Our world has become a selfish society in which we primarily look out for our own needs. It’s a dog eat dog world. But I don’t blame people for being that way. Society has shaped our behavior to be this way. How? Some examples I’ve heard throughout my lifetime:

A person falls down on his/her fault and a stranger comes to help the fallen individual. The fallen individual ends up claiming that the stranger pushed him/her and sues for damages.

A manager at work screws up. Well, he/she doesn’t want to take the fall, let’s just blame it on somebody below him/her.

The above are selfish (and absurd) actions that real life people take. It’s easier to put the blame on a scapegoat than to place the hit on oneself. So essentially that’s why people, in turn, become selfish as well.

"If somebody doesn’t look out for me, why should I do it for someone else?"

"I wouldn’t get anything out of helping this person out."

"I wouldn’t get recognition for my actions, so why waste my efforts?"

No selfless act is a waste of effort. Every selfless act, whether actually commended or not, is an action that will drive the world to be a better place. Wouldn’t you want to live in a better world? Why wouldn’t you? You live in it every day! And while you may be thinking that your selfless acts won’t change the world, you’d be surprised. Your selfless act can touch another person’s life. This can become a continuous chain that can reach any and all parts of the world. You may not ever know it, but it can all start from you. And you know what, it will eventually make its way right back to you.

Don’t live your life based on what society has forced upon you. Move with the good, but rebel against the bad. Selfishness is bad. So if you think the world is a cruel dark place, make it bright and happy. Don’t join the crowd. Lead your own crowd! If the world is a mean arena, stand out from everyone else and be the opposite.

Ghandi said it best: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Do you want to change the world? In a positive way? Then become that change and see the amazing things that will happen.

The best story on selflessness that I have ever heard is about Sir Nicholas Winton. He was a man who saved 669 children from the Nazi concentration camps and never told a single person, even his own wife, for 50 years! This is truly a man who did not need the recognition for his unbelievably selfless feat. What an incredible story to tell! Yet Nicholas Winton was able to hold it all in. He did not need the recognition. He just knew that what he did was the right thing and that’s all that mattered. It wasn’t until his wife discovered a book that contained the names of all the children he saved and convinced him to go public with his story that his heroic feats came to light. You can read more about him here: http://www.winton.dk/

And the above video is when Winton met with the people that he saved for the first time. This is a classic example of how selfless acts will always come back to thank you, even if it is 50 years later!

Set an example in the world. Any small feat counts. Start today :)

I’m not affiliated with the American Red Cross, but I do believe that no effort is considered small when it is to help others, so please, if you can, donate to help out the Red Cross in its Earthquake/Tsunami relief in Japan. Spread the word to your friends and family. I’ve provided the link straight to the donation page below for your convenience. Thank you all.

American Red Cross - Japan’s Earthquake & Tsunami Relief

       

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Meet “Freak-out” Fred:


“I can’t believe this didn’t go according to plan. I had the next few years of my life mapped out. I’m freakin’ out!”


And meet “Stagnant” Sally:


“I’ve had the same expertise ever since I graduated from college. I was doing really well in my field until the need started to become obsolete. My skills weren’t needed anymore and I never learned anything else. How am I going to survive?!”


We all know a Freak-out Fred or Stagnant Sally. These are the individuals that have a set plan for their life and when things steer off course, all hell breaks loose. They think that doom is impending. Heck, Fred or Sally may even be YOU!


If you have a hard time adjusting to change, whether it involves friends, family, your career etc, then you’re going to have endless bumps on your journey through life. Life’s obstacles will be that much harder for you. Every time a big negative life event happens in your life, it’s going to feel like a boulder hit you. And while you will eventually get over it (because time really does help) wouldn’t you rather be the individual that overcomes the negative almost immediately?


Meet “Dynamic” Dan:


“Wow I can’t believe that incredible business idea didn’t work out. I really thought that was going to be my big break. Oh well, time to move on to my next big idea, I need to achieve my goals!”


And meet “Evolving” Erin:


“I just got into a big fight with my two best friends and they’ve decided to never talk to me again. I have to find a new group of friends and everything. It’s going to be rough, but maybe it’ll be good for me to meet new people. It’d be pretty exciting actually!”


If you’re like Dynamic Dan or Evolving Erin, then an obstacle in life won’t feel like a boulder hit you, but more like a pebble. It’ll surely hurt, but you certainly won’t be down and out from it. Just a quick sting and you keep on walking forward! Apply that to all aspects of your life and you’ll be able to get through anything. We all need to understand that bad stuff happens in life, no matter how good or bad of a person you are.


Quite simply, it’s just life. But what fun would life be if everything was the same and never changing? We’d be going through the same monotonous routines and never getting wiser. We could read or hear bad experiences through others, but that isn’t the same as going through it and feeling it. To feel it, live it, and experience struggles is to set the foundations of becoming a stronger and wiser person. It’s needed to grow. To mature. To pass on your knowledge to those around you. To make yourself happier.


Understand that you have to be ever-changing. Evolve yourself. Be dynamic. Take on every bad (and good) that life throws at you. Make aware that what your life is today can completely change tomorrow. And while there’s no real way to fully prepare for the worse, you can always equip yourself with your own arsenal. Have a strong mind that can overcome anything. Build a strong exterior to shield yourself from the bad the world will throw at you. Develop the confidence in your abilities to jump through the high hurdles in life.


Finally, smile and walk with your head held high showing the world that nothing and nobody can touch your bad ass dynamic self!