"My plan never included this many roadblocks. But maybe the only difference between 'roadblock' and 'adventure' was my perspective..."
Life often doesn't go quite as planned. In fact, many of us are familiar with the old saying, "The only constant in life is change." Depending on the day and your mood when such change strikes, it can be difficult to embrace it fully for the adventure that it is! REI's short film "Adventure in Real Life" touches on the importance of changing perspective in order to appreciate experiences as they come; for better or for worse.
(Video Credit: REI)
"Slowly I discovered that nature was all the more beautiful because of the unplanned and the unexpected."
"I guess life is like that; full of setbacks and roadblocks. But when we love something enough, we can turn any obstacle into an Odyssey. The truth is, life isn't going to go as planned... The only question is will you choose to call it an adventure?"
Nothing forces someone to embrace a humble attitude like a tough challenge. You're bound to become kinder and more sympathetic to others and their own obstacles, too. Embracing your failures will better prepare you for your next great adventure, and remind you that you are indeed human.
The most efficient use of your mental and emotional energy is to focus on yourself first; what do you think of your efforts? How do you prioritize personal growth? What makes you truly happy? What makes you feel accomplished? While the validation of others can be a temporary relief, your own validation will provide long term satisfaction in any situation.
"Love creates a communion with life. Love expands us, connects us, sweetens us, ennobles us.
Love springs up in tender concern, it blossoms into caring action. It makes beauty out of all we touch. In any moment we can step beyond our small self and embrace each other as beloved parts of a whole."
- Jack Kornfield
We know all too well that the world can be a scary, overwhelming and confusing place; and lately there seems to be a lot going on. Between natural disasters and acts of violence, headlines are dreaded and draining before the day has even begun. Despite the darkness during challenging times, there is something else going on that's worth noting.
People are donating their time and resources to charities and various efforts of all kinds. They're giving all that they can, however they can. It's during the darkest times that humanity can shine the brightest! That light is putting love and kindness into action, and we're all capable of putting this energy into practice.
Beyond becoming involved in your community and in charities that speak to you, inward reflection is an essential aspect of processing tragic events that are beyond our control. Truth be told, the majority of us can only control how we react to such things. A simple meditation practice can cultivate the love & kindness that is so important following disasters, and can even be done in spare moments throughout your daily life.
Begin by finding a quiet or special space where you feel comfortable and relaxed. Take deep breaths for a few minutes, focusing on a soft heart and releasing all plans and precautions. First, recite the below phrases inwardly and focus on your own well-being.
May I be filled with loving kindness.
May I be safe for inner and outer dangers.
May I be well in body and mind.
May I be at ease and happy.
While repeating the phrases, allow images to come and go naturally, and focus on allowing the feelings to fully permeate your body & mind.
When you are feeling a strong sense of self love, you can then feel confident in expanding the meditation to include others in your own social circles, then your community, and finally, humanity as a whole. Repeat the same phrases as above, but imagine sending the feelings outwards to others.
One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again..."
– Abraham Maslow
Countless people operate day to day within their comfort zone; a silent but common ailment. The longer someone stays within it's confines, the less happy they tend to be. Stepping beyond the boundaries of what's familiar is essential to finding happiness, accomplishing goals and discovering your true passions in life. So why do so many of us choose to stay there if it's slowly draining us?
Big changes take lots of energy. Everything in life takes energy, which can be translated into motivation. If we lack the motivation necessary to make big life changes, we as humans find reasons to remain in a state of stasis; after all, stepping beyond our current circumstances could end up being uncomfortable and even scary!
But if you do not journey past all that you know, you're deliberately robbing yourself of 3 beautiful things life has to offer on the other side....
You are not growing
Shawn Achor, a positivity psychologist and author, states that happiness is "the joy you feel moving towards your potential."
We've all heard the saying that if you aren't growing and moving forward, you're really slipping backwards. Progress is a key ingredient to happiness in life! As long as you remain within your comfort zone, you're not growing because you're making no movement towards progress or growth. Remember, growth is about becoming more than you currently are and without experiencing all that is outside of you, you'll never get there.
You're not out there trying new things
What are you passionate about? The luckiest of us discover what we love doing early on in life, and we're able to follow our hearts as we spend our lives mastering the art of it. But if you're anything like the majority of people, you spend the first two or three decades of life searching and testing and wondering what it is that our hearts desire.... And that's only if you're diving into one thing after another, and constantly trying new things.
Your comfort zone isn't about getting out there, challenging yourself and discovering. In fact, you'll rarely try anything new and if you do, it's typically not of your own free will.
You're becoming comfortable with settling
The worst fate of all! We all know those people that had a dream straight out of college and then life happened. They settled for a life that was good enough without being too much; they decided to remain comfortable and unchallenged versus chasing tirelessly after their passions.
And this situation alone isn't the worst of it. If you become conditioned to settle in general, you will fail at recognizing prime opportunities that come along throughout life. You'll reject them out of the fear of leaving what you've always known.
Don't worry - there is still hope! Anyone and everyone can expand their comfort zones and even wander beyond them in a healthy and enjoyable way. The real trick to beating is to make feeling uncomfortable a conscious and constant habit. The more you do it, the less resistance you'll experience to the feeling itself and to the actions associated with it.
The old adage 'one step at a time' truly comes into play here. That first step is the most essential because it's the only one where we're facing our fears directly. Second and third steps are significantly less terrifying, and before you know it you're running from your comfort zone with a smile on your face. The next time around will be that much easier, as your confidence builds.
Here are 3 things you can do to develop the self confidence and strength necessary to step outside your comfort zone regularly...
1.) Make a list of your procrastinations
What are all of the things that you've been putting off and continue to put off? Try to think of everything, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, that you've been procrastinating on for a few weeks or more.
2.) Start checking off things from that list, beginning with the smallest
Don't go chasing the whales on your list; begin with the small fish and work your way up. It's essential that you take that first step and experience success as quickly as possible.
3.) Continue moving forward
It's all about momentum from here. Continue moving forward by stepping further and further from your comfort zone until you feel ready to tackle whatever comes your way!
Your resolve is a muscle - the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. Before you know it, spending substantial amounts of time beyond your comfort zone will become the new norm.
"Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy."
- Dale Carnegie
Phil Drolet, creator and author of the successful 'optimal living' blog The Feel Good Lifestyle, didn't always have the success that he'd hoped for. But when he fianlly decided to take that leap of faith and embark on the journey of entrepreneurship, he utilized a method he fondly refers to as the "All In Method", or AIM. He argues that society tends to commit to something and give up on the effort when the going gets tough, or the next exciting endeavor appears. But by allowing yourself to be wishy-washy and throwing the towel in when things become difficult or don't go your way, you rob yourself of opportunity and success!
Bottom line: If you truly want to achieve something, you cannot do it half way - you must push all of your chips into the middle.
When you force yourself into this state of fear and excitement, uncertainty and hope, something quite amazing happens. You'll discover strengths that you never knew existed. Parts of you will awaken and shake off the dust of the familiar, and you'll harness the courage to forge ahead despite all of that.
Here's how you do it....
There's a strategy you'll want to put into play in order for your attempts to be successful. And even before you begin creating your plan, doubts can begin to creep into the mind. What if I'm not good at this? What if it's too scary? What if it doesn't work, no matter how hard I try? Let's silence the inner voice that's unsure about the plunge, and encourage the one that's excited and ready!
1.) Identify Your Project or Goal
Sometimes it can be a struggle to identify what you truly and deeply want. But in order to begin your journey toward success, you'll need to first have a clear vision in mind!
What kind of project is this?
Is it goal-based, or relationship-based?
Is it a sort of spiritual journey?
2.) Test Drive your Aspirations
Give yourself a reasonable time frame in which to commit fully to something. It could be anywhere from 30 days to 6 months, but allow yourself that clear start and end time. This allows you the flexibility of 'strategically committing'; you're now free to participate in life 100%, test things out and find out if it's enhancing your life before you sign on the dotted line, so to speak.
People view time frames as a safety net, and you can use this to your advantage. Anyone can do something for 30 days, right?
How long are you willing to commit for?
2.) Evaluate, Evaluate and Evaluate Again
Once you've begun the 'strategic commitment' plan, you'll want to keep track of any challenges and successes starting right away. Taking stock of your feelings and results from this project will help you not only deem it worthy of your effort and time, but you'll also find momentum and motivation from seeing yourself improve.
Ask yourself the following...
- Is this project working?
- Am I enjoy this?
- Is it leading me in the right direction?
- Where am I struggling?
- What bad habits do I need to cut out?
- What support do I need from others?
Once you've made the choice and committed to it for X amount of time... Go for it!
Gordon Hempton is a self-declared "sound tracker", constantly in search of vanishing sounds from all corners and crevices and cracks on this earth. According to Hempton, the most precious sound of them all (and the one that is most endangered) is in fact silence.
"The Hoh Valley is the quietest, least noise-polluted place in the entire lower 40," states Hempton. "I don't know if I can save silence, but I know that I can try."
But why is silence worth finding, practicing and preserving?
4 Health Benefits of Being Silent
1.) Heightens Sensitivity - 100 scientists went on a retreat to study the importance of silence, and found that eliminating speech heightens awareness in many other areas. The practice of vipassana meditation focused on breathing, which they found to heighten sights, sounds, emotions, thoughts, intentions and sensations in general.
2.) Relieves Stress - When sound waves reach the brain, the amygdala (the part of your brain associated with emotions and memory formation) is activated, which leads to the release of stress hormones. Believe it or not, a mere 2 or 3 minutes of silence can release more tension in the brain and body than any exposure to relaxing music!
3.) Improves Memory - A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that adults who walked alone for 40+ minutes three times a week for a year had noticeable brain growth in the hippocampus, which is associated with spatial memory. Improve your memory consolidation by getting outdoors!
4.) Fights Insomnia - If you're someone who suffers from insomnia, depression and/or fatigue, mindfulness meditation can do you a world of good. Mindfulness meditation involves focusing in and bringing attention to your breath, which consequently brings the individual into the present moment.
We live in a very bustling, loud world, full of TVs, cell phones, music and people. But we could all use a little quiet time now and then; mentally, emotionally and physically. Incorporating silence into your daily routine, even if it's only 5-15 minutes, can benefit you in many areas of life.
We're all familiar with spring cleaning the house - closets to be decluttered, old boxes to be sorted through, blinds to be dusted and unused items to be given away... But how often do we turn our focus to the baggage in our emotional closets? Too many of us suffer from messy habits, crowded feelings and ideas that we've clung to for far too long. Perhaps this spring is the perfect time to practice a bit of emotional minimalism!
Do away with the clutter you've tucked away and allowed to gather dust in your heart and mind. Replace it with something fresh, inspiring and altogether motivational.
Old baby clothes that no longer fit our children pile up in the corner of your closets, because it's tough to let them go. Your ex-boyfriend's t-shirts still claim a space in your drawers, even though you know you'll never again wear them.. Why do we insist on keeping it all?
Items that have emotional memories associated with them become a physical representation of that moment in time. But we do the same thing with grudges! Sometimes they're linked to photos we tuck away and look at secretly, other times it can be simply a feeling. Toss out the items and the feelings! Let go of the desire to seek revenge or hold onto anger - focus on forgiveness and take each moment as it comes, free of any roots from the past or worries about the future.
Use the same strategy when dealing with your negative thinking habits as you would with old bags of clothes on their way to the donation bin - give it away! Don't ask for anything in return, and certainly don't keep it around for another day longer. Pessimists tend to push people away and can turn otherwise healthy relationships into damaging ones. Their thinking patterns and outlook on life spoil happiness and thwart growth. Bundle up all your negative thinking and ship it off... You'll feel all the better for it.
It isn't realistic to completely eliminate fear, and probably not recommended either. After all, some of our instinctual reactions and 'gut feelings' can help get us through sticky or scary situations. But don't let fear control you. Fearing a possible shark attack while swimming in the Great Barrier Reef is a rational fear; fearing the same thing while in a lake in the middle of Colorado is not.
The key here is to buckle down and move forward despite being afraid... It is then that you'll come to realize your fear of the situation was larger than the reality of it! Acknowledge your fear, embrace it, channel it into actionable steps and move through it.
Envy can only live on the assumption that life is a zero-sum-game; one person's good fortune and success means that there's less to be had for the rest of us. Not only is this train of thought selfish, but it is untrue and self-sabotaging. To fight against this behavior, remove yourself from the equation entirely and evaluate how you feel now that it doesn't involve you. Are you happy for your friends success? Step into their shoes and imagine the joy and accomplishment they must be feeling.
All of us have cluttered closets and emotional challenges, but the issues arise when we continue hiding more things under our beds or pile on the grudges till there's no room left to grow. Spring is upon us, so go clean out your closet and unpack your heavy heart as well!
"The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it."
– J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
For the majority of people out there, confidence is more situational than permanent; in certain situations we feel very sure of ourselves, and in others we aren't quite certain how things will pan out. But never fear! Confidence is something that can be learned, exercised and created. Actions influence attitude, so by changing the way we behave over time, we can change the way we feel about said actions.
Below are some of the top traits that confident people display to those around them, and ultimately to the world. Remember... The goal isn't to seem confident - it's to actually BE confident!
They take responsibility
A confident person understands that being true to and owning their feelings, emotions, and actions is the quickest path to success. You won't hear them blaming their struggles on others or situations around them. This includes taking responsibility for one's failures, and being consistent in your choices. If you made a terrible mistake, own up to it! You'll quickly earn the respect of your peers and friends if you're able to admit when you're wrong, and learn from the outcome.
They avoid gossip
Gossip is a senseless circle, and serves no one in the end. Confident people choose to instead talk about their goals, ideas, plans, dreams, fears... They acknowledge that it's best to be positive or remain neutral. If you're around people who tend to gossip, reconsider who you surround yourself with and the thoughts you harbor.
They ask for (and accept) help
Attempting to accomplish everything on your own is not only impossible, but also exhausting, frustrating and less productive in the long run. Ask for help often if you want to work your confidence muscles, and don't feel threatened by someone else's wisdom or experience. Pass it along and help others in turn, whenever you can!
They view every failure as a success
This is a HUGE one, so pay attention! Confident people do not see failure as the end but rather as a tool they use to further their growth. The road to any success is fraught with obstacles, challenges and complications, but they know that sticking with it will get you the win in the end. In order to fail you also must try in the first place, which is the only way to succeed at all. Fail often, and you're sure to reach your goals.
They want to share the limelight with others
Every confident person thinks highly of themselves, but they also remember that others' opinions and experiences are just as valuable and valid as their own. Embracing your inner confidence requires you to be a team player at all times. They know that the focus doesn't always need to be on them, and they work hard to establish positive habits, like listening rather than talking and engaging in group efforts. Yes, you can be confident while keeping your ego in check!
Choosing to live in the past or the future not only robs you of the enjoyments that today brings, but it robs you of truly living. The only important moment is the present moment... If you wish to begin living more mindfully in each and every moment, consider this list of tips below!
(Video Credit: Tragedy & Hope, Audio: Alan Watts)
Remove unneeded possessions
Embracing a more minimalist lifestyle forces you to live in the present moment. Remove items that remind you of past memories - you will free up your energy to start living in the present.
Start your day with a smile! Write a reminder note on your computer monitor to smile, put images or quotes up on your walls that inspire happy feelings. Remember, you and you alone are in control of your attitude every morning. Do yourself the favor of keeping things optimistic.
Soak it all in
Pay closer attention to the sights, smells, sounds and emotions that rise up throughout the moments of your day. Embrace feelings that come from both successes and sorrows, and appreciate each for the experience they offer.
LOVE your job
Most of us spend at least 5 full days out of the week (71% of our waking time) working in our chosen profession. If you're in a constant state of "surviving" the workweek, you're wasting nearly 3/4 of your life! Though it can be a challenge, there are two solutions to this: 1) Find a new job you enjoy that inspires you, or 2) Find something about your current career that you appreciate and engage in that rather than focusing on the negatives.
Forgive past hurt feelings
When someone does wrong against us, we have the choice to move on or allow their poor choice to continue impacting our mood and outlook on life. Choose to forgive and move forward for your own sake.
Don't dwell too much on past accomplishments
It's plain and simple - if you are too busy talking about what you did yesterday, you certainly haven't done much today!
Has worry ever accomplished much of anything for anyone? There's no way to fully appreciate the day if your mind is focused on yesterday or tomorrow. After all, tomorrow will come whether you worry about it or not.
Dream about tomorrow, work hard today
It is important to set big goals and plan for a beautiful future, but putting the effort in today will get you that much closer to tomorrow. Don't fall into the trap of letting dreaming take the place of hard work in this moment.