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Do more of what makes you healthy


Seen in a meme:

“Do more of what makes you happy.”

While I agree with the sentiment, I would counter this by saying:

“Do more of what makes you healthy.”

Not everything that makes a person “happy” makes a person healthy. Too much of a good thing can have negative consequences.

Never underestimate the brain body connection. Often, when one falls out of balance, the other follows. How one treats their body is how one treats their brain.

Because at least some degree of happiness stems from feeling good about one’s self, it stands to reason that the better one feels about themselves, their decisions, their life, and their health, the greater their sense of well-being.

Happiness is more likely to manifest itself in one’s life as a result of seeking a healthy mind, healthy body, and healthy spirit than it is by seeking the instant gratification of doing only more of what makes them happy.

Do more of what makes you happy healthy (and happiness will follow).


When life shuts a door…

Seen in a meme:

“When life shuts a door… Open it again. It’s a door. That’s how they work.”

Yes, doors may work that way, but opportunities don’t.

But that doesn’t mean other opportunities don’t exist.

The key to maximizing one’s potential to meet opportunities is to not passively wait for opportunities to land on one’s lap, and instead, continually be on the lookout for new ones.

And if no opportunities appear to exist, take steps to facilitate their existence. Learn new skills, hone existing ones, and try to view the world from a different angle.

Often, a change of perspective is enough to draw one’s attention to opportunities that were cleverly disguised as something else.

Don’t close yourself off to potential opportunities simply because you don’t see them from your current level of awareness.

Keeping an open mind and believing that opportunities exist — despite one’s ability to immediately see them — is often enough to keep them from going unnoticed.

Those who don’t look for opportunities will have to settle for the rare few that land on their lap.



Wanting success doesn’t ensure it.

Seen in a meme:

“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you will be successful.”

It’s a quote by Eric Thomas from his book, “The Secret to Success”.

To be fair, I’m uncertain of the context of this quote within the book, but as a stand alone saying, it’s incomplete.

Intense desire can provide the motivation to act, but without action, desire — like wishful thinking — does very little.

One can want to succeed as badly as they want to breathe, but without being both willing and able to take the steps and make the sacrifices necessary to meet their goal, one won’t survive the road to success long enough to arrive at their desired destination.

The desire to breathe doesn’t keep people from drowning. Taking the steps necessary to get oxygen and stay afloat does. And this starts with learning how to swim.

An intense desire to be successful does not ensure success. One must be willing and able to learn & commit to the actions necessary to achieve it.

You can read a million motivational sayings to pump yourself up — or echo them to others until you’re blue in the face — but that won’t change anything unless you take action and consistently change your behavior.



Stop encouraging mediocrity

Seen in a meme:

  • You’re amazing!
  • You’re beautiful.
  • You’re perfect!
  • You’re awesome.

The mere fact that a person exists does not make them awesome, amazing, or beautiful.

Contributing something positive to people’s lives and adding value to the world does.

Act and encourage accordingly.



Strength from struggle

Seen in a meme:

“You can have whatever you are willing to struggle for.”


No one gets everything they desire in life (whether they struggle for it or not).

Having said that…

There are inherent benefits in the act of consistently & persistently putting in the effort necessary to achieve a lofty goal, regardless of whether one is ultimately able to achieve it or not.

For it is from the struggles in life — not the attainment of one’s desires — that a person acquires strength.



Happiness is not a choice.

Seen in a meme:

“Happiness is a choice.”

No. Happiness is not a choice. Attitude is a choice.

Happiness is not just putting on a fake smile, acting cheerful, and pretending everything is OK.

Sometimes things are not OK. And that’s OK.

That’s life.

Stop for a moment and imagine you’re grieving over having just lost a loved one.

Now imagine someone comes up to you and says, “Happiness is a choice.”

Would you believe it? Would you be able to let go of your grief, shrug your shoulders and say, “Ok, I’ll be happy now” and actually be happy?


What about depressed people or people who have suffered psychological trauma?

Would you tell a suicidal person that “happiness is a choice” and expect this superficial catchy catchphrase to solve the problem?

Of course not.

Even if attaining a state of happiness was as simple as making a choice, telling someone who isn’t happy that “happiness is a choice” is as about as helpful as teaching someone how to fish by telling them that “there are fish in the sea”.

It isn’t helpful.

Happiness is a byproduct of enjoying the journey of life.

You teach people to achieve happiness by providing them with the tools necessary to deal with life’s challenges in a positive and productive way.

You teach people to achieve happiness by showing them ways to navigate their mental & physical world in such a way that they can enjoy their journey.

And one of the most effective ways to enjoy one’s journey is to adopt a healthy attitude that allows one to appreciate life experiences regardless of one’s circumstances.

Suggesting that being anything but happy all the time isn’t a healthy way to view life.

Making people feel bad about feeling bad isn’t terribly effective at making people happy either.

The fact is, there is nothing inherently wrong with being unhappy.

“The ability to feel a full range of emotions and different states of being is an important part of the human experience.

It’s ok not to be happy. And in many cases, a large part of personal growth is dependent on recognizing when one is not happy and then actively working through it.”

Sometimes that journey will be difficult and life won’t be fair.

Again, that’s life.

It’s ok to have negative emotions. It’s ok to make mistakes. These are an essential part of life and how we learn. But it’s important to not let these things hold us back or lock us into a cycle of self-pity.

Instead, we can use negative emotions and feelings of discontent as the motivation to initiate positive changes in our lives.”

We may not like everything that happens to us in life and we may not always be happy as a result of what happens, but we can always choose our attitude when dealing with it.

A bad attitude inhibits happiness. And when we are happy, a positive attitude accentuates it.

It’s not happiness that’s a choice, it’s attitude.


“We actually have as little choice about wanting to become happy as the heart does about pumping blood. We’re incapable of wanting not to become happy. The pursuit of happiness isn’t merely an inalienable right with which we’re endowed or an activity we’re capable of choosing; it’s psychological law we must obey. Even people who appear to want nothing to do with happiness, like those so immersed in self-hatred that their principle aim becomes self-sabotage, will say they haven’t lost their desire for happiness so much as ceased to believe they deserve it” — Alex Lickerman, MD (From: The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self)




Seeing things differently

Seen in a meme:

“Sometimes I think I’m crazy because I see things differently than everyone else.”

You’re not crazy if you don’t always agree with the crowd. Group dynamics is one of the most powerful forces in human psychology.

The Asch conformity experiments demonstrate that even the most seemingly logical of people can be influenced to make bad decisions due to one’s internal desire to conform to group expectations.

“Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within groups of people, in which the desire for harmony in a decision-making group overrides a realistic appraisal of alternatives. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints.

The primary socially negative cost of groupthink is the loss of individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking.” — Wikipedia

Group dynamics can cause people to act irrationally and at their own expense or the expense of others.

Group dynamics can cloud the truth, cause us to desire junk, turn us against people we love, and even follow & support leaders who would do us harm.

Group dynamics is often at the core of prejudice and discrimination.

Independent thinking is far less common than it should be. It should be praised.

It takes an exceptional kind of integrity to stick up for what you believe is right and true when facing a group.

Being able to see things differently is a valuable skill and is often what allows us to make great strides in technologies and processes that benefit all. Due to group dynamics, however, truly new and original ideas are often ridiculed before they are accepted.

“For a work to be truly creative, it has to depart from the status quo at some point. That departure makes many people uncomfortable.” — David Burkus (99u)

The ability to see things differently than the crowd and maintain one’s integrity despite pressure to conform is a gift. Being able to see things differently than other people doesn’t make you crazy. It makes you valuable.

“The person who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been before.” — *Francis Phillip Wernig



Not caring what people think is not the answer

[This post is similar to another post I’ve written called: Not giving a damn is not the answer.]

No, you shouldn’t change who you are to be liked by people. And you shouldn’t cave into to peer pressure at the expense of your identity.

But not caring what people think is not the answer.

While you may not agree with what people think or say about you (and some would say it’s none of your business), if you believe in bettering yourself as a person, it’s important to allow yourself to internally acknowledge and be aware of the feedback you get in life.

  • Do you ruffle feathers everywhere you go?
  • Do you get into arguments or make enemies easily?
  • Do you find yourself getting into the same kinds of dysfunctional relationships?
  • Do you act creepy or make people uncomfortable without realizing it?
  • Is your body language saying one thing while you are saying another?

These are important things to be aware of.

Acknowledging what others think (positive or negative) provides us with valuable feedback that allows us to make sure we are acting and communicating in the manner we think we are. And if we are not, it provides the opportunity to make changes to how we do things (if we so choose).

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” — Winston Churchill

There are a lot of people who suck and act badly simply because they refuse to even acknowledge the feedback they get on a consistent basis.

“You think I’m a jackass? Well, I don’t care.”

The fact is, if people are calling you a jackass, it’s a good idea to be open to the idea of exploring *why* they said that and if it has any validity.

And it may not. Just because someone calls you a jackass doesn’t mean you’re a jackass, but something about the circumstances you found yourself in led to negative feedback. And after analyzing the situation, you may discover that you could have done something more effectively in the situation — even if was simply to avoid it altogether.

While I don’t believe in not caring what people think, I do believe in is not fearing it.

And that’s a huge difference.

One approach says, “I’m fearful of accepting or acknowledging negative feedback” and the other says, “I have a strong enough sense of self to not let criticism (or praise) adversely affect my sense of self-worth.”

When you truly know who you are — and who you are in the process of becoming — you will no longer live in fear of what people say or think about you.”

Because you can’t please everyone, sometimes you will act in a fashion that upsets people or makes them uncomfortable. And sometimes it is completely justified — it comes at the cost of expressing yourself in an authentic fashion.

It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t act that way. But it also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about the response you get — you simply shouldn’t be afraid of it or let it bother you.

Not letting what other people think bother you is one thing, not caring is another.

I believe the goal should be develop a strong enough sense of self to not let what others say or think about you diminish (or inflate) your sense of self-worth, not to simply “not care”.

Allowing yourself to be open is a sign of confidence, and it’s a strength that will get you much further in life, and provide you with the ability to weather more storms, than simply pretending that storms don’t exist.”


The process of becoming who we are


There are some memes making their way across social networks these days claiming that, “People don’t change.”

Obviously, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Every experience we have provides us with information that either reaffirms something we already believe, alters a belief we already have, or creates a completely new one.

Whenever a person’s beliefs change or they acquire new ones, the person changes.

If you’ve ever thought “Well, I’m not going to do that again!” or “Well, that didn’t work. I guess I’ll try it a different way next time”, it’s proof that you’ve grown.

And growth is change.

If you want to expedite the process of personal growth, then give yourself and others the freedom to change.

Be a person who believes in the possibility of positive change because it is often the belief in something that creates the possibility.


Where “being yourself” fails

Seen in a meme:

“Embrace who you are and don’t make any apologies for being yourself.”

I’d like to add a major caveat to that:

First, we are *all* works in progress, we all make mistakes, we all have blind spots in our level of awareness (particularly with regard to ourselves), and we all have room for improvement.

But some more than others.

While I am all for people being authentic and real, I’d much prefer not to encourage the assclowns, douchebags, and dirtbags to just “be themselves” and never apologize for it.

“Yeah, I cut you off in traffic. So what?”
“Yeah, I double parked. Just being myself, man.”
“Yeah, I litter. Big deal.”

Sure, if you’re kind, compassionate, and authentic, if you strive for progress and improvement in your life and your self, if you aim to make a positive difference with what you have to offer, then by all means continue. Even if you occasionally make mistakes, as we all do.

But if you’re someone who goes through life making things more difficult, painful, or inconvenient for others, then perhaps it’s better you don’t just “be yourself”.

Perhaps it’s better if you aim to be the kind of person you and others can actually be proud of rather than just accept who you are with no intention to change.

“Be yourself. Unless you suck.” — Joss Whedon



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