Sunday, 27 January 2013

Love is the Way of the True Warrior


“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realise there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”
— Lao Tzu
I have been reminded this week that we can always use good advice when faced with extreme conditions. Such conditions are also a reminder that challenges can bring out the best, and the worst, in people. And as much as global conflicts and crises impact our lives, our personal challenges will sometimes have even greater impact. Hardship, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

In the United Kingdom, we have faced frosty temperatures during a long cold spell of snow falls in the past week. And amid rising energy bills hitting the pockets of hard-up households feeling the pinch of an economic growth continuing to contract, the snow has lead to school closures, people working from home and events being cancelled across the country. But there are people battling through freezing conditions to help others despite the challenges brought on by the extreme weather.

And the difficulties won't be over as the cold snap ends, when we shall be left to face the floods and rising waters the snow will leave behind when it invariably thaws. However, as the waters rise, so must we, too, rise to the challenges that face us.

Meanwhile, what of the greater tribulations facing world at large? Going from one icy extreme to another, glaciers in the tropical Andes are melting at their fastest rate in 300 years, according to one study - but climate worries are not the only challenges we are likely to face, now or in the near future. The rise in drug resistant infections is comparable to the threat of global warming, according to the chief medical officer for England. Along with this antibiotic "apocalypse" warning, experts also think it is just a matter of time until we have a seriously lethal epidemic. But possibly more chilling is the news that well into the second decade of the 21st Century, and we have still not seen the end Islamic extremism.

Some correspondents say, that ignited by France's cavalier attitude and brutal history of conquest and xenophobia towards Islamic people, Islamic terrorism has now reared its head in north Africa, with what the government is calling a "specific, imminent threat" to Westerners. And as France rubs its hands in glee at the thought of the UK exiting the European Union, the UK's prime minister, David Cameron has warned that the Algerian hostage crisis could be the start of a decades-long battle against Islamist-inspired terrorism in north Africa, after Pakistan and Afghanistan.

It is a stark reminder that this legacy will be one our children will have to contend with, and one which they may not even solve - or even want to. Every generation reinterprets and responds to the major recurring themes of life in their own way, and as symbols of power are ascribed new meanings, the challenges they bring with them will change. Consistently, children grow up with their own personal set of problems. In the UK child poverty is increasing, with statistical evidence suggesting that children from poor backgrounds are more likely to be overweight. Government ministers are blaming "an abundance of bad food" for the situation, and have threatened food manufacturers with legislation unless they cut the amount of fat, sugar and salt in their products and urged firms to sign up to the voluntary "responsibility deal" to reduce calories. They believe if the government fails to act this will continue to store up huge problems for the country and its medical services in the long term.

Shield yourself with real food.

When we take at look at the statistical evidence out there, the extremes recorded are alarming. Prostate cancer risk has risen to such a degree that one in every seven boys will develop it, projections suggest, while as parents are large majority of us are bringing our children up with "instrumental lying". Most parents tells lies to their children as a tactic to change their behaviour, a study of families in the United States and China has revealed. The most frequent example was parents threatening to leave children alone in public unless they behaved.

The study found there was an acceptance of such lies among parents when they were used as a way of reinforcing desirable social behaviour. For example, the lie told to children that they would grow taller for every bite of broccoli was seen as encouraging healthy eating habits. But the study raised the longer-term issue of the impact on families of such opportunistic approaches to the truth. It suggested it could influence family relationships as children get older, concluding that this raised "important moral questions for parents about when, if ever, parental lying is justified".

A war on truth, a war on food, a war on the environment, a war on terror - it seems we are all too quickly becoming used to war; and an interview with Prince Harry, the Queen of the United Kingdom's grandson, back from a military tour of duty in Afghanistan is a revealing - if not frightful - insight into the way the next generation perceive war, and life in general. Nicknamed the "warrior prince", Harry comes off as nonchalant about killing people, describing them as combatants that are merely "taken out of the game".

This "princely" statement gains grave gravitas when we learn that the average 11- to 14-year-old spends 13 hours a week playing computer games, increasingly on their smartphones, fixated on war themed violent sagas. Children have diverse imaginations, but rather than playing with the latest fad toy, the key for their development is that they are given time to play with other children. However, more often than not, this now means fighting and "killing" each other in war games. It seems we are becoming all too used to the horrors of war, and the horrors within ourselves. In the real arena of war, we might take lives to save lives, and yet, what have we really achieved?

Humans are complex creatures filled with contradictions. We invest millions in new scientific breakthroughs to save lives, and to take lives. But how do we decide to do which? We love those things close to us, and fear those apart - and yet, though we may risk our lives to kill those we don't understand, some of us risk our lives to save people we don't know, too. Some would say the latter is the greater sacrifice. Princes go off to war to fight, but are offered special protections, and then return home to do charity work, making it all sound like a PR stunt to pad out a recently dented public image. While soldiers wounded in action become haunted by the horrors of war, the privileged seem free to use the killing of insurgents as propaganda. It comes off as crass to some, and makes no sense to others.

As commemorative days like Holocaust Memorial Day in the UK serve to remind us, it is difficult to make sense out of war, for the very reason that the longer it continues, the more senseless it becomes. I always find that I avoid war films for very much the same reason, because as the killings increase, the story becomes senseless, its plot lost in the loud shelling of patriotic rhetoric and melodrama - and when even the fighting is deemed necessary to protect the freedoms we cherish in the West (and that I am very thankful for), eventually the blood spilled on both sides colours us all same. Nazi Germany and the Holocaust is a warning for all of us to be vigilant against racism and prejudice (especially under the guise of war), because its where they ultimately lead.

What is inevitable, however, is that a clash of ideologies will eventually have to end in discussion and reconciliation, for history shows us that it is not war, but peace which makes us all winners. The greatest muscle we have is not might, but common sense. There will have to come a time when the West tries to understand Islamic extremism (and our part in its creation), and find a way to bring its representatives to the table for talks. This isn't about being idealogical, but practical - even in politics the most cynical realise that the best way to hold on to power is to get a broad compromise over policy - with as many people from all parties on board as possible.

Love is the way

“Love is of all passions the strongest, for it attacks simultaneously the head, the heart and the senses.”
— Lao Tzu

Living life from what some would call such spiritual perspectives - to live in the flow and return to your inner self as source for solutions rather than destructive action - are not new concepts. Lao Tzu (or Laozi - an honorific title meaning "venerable" or "old") lived in China during the time of the warring states, and he decided he didn't want anything to do with war and violence, and hatred and killing.

Before he went off to be by himself, he dictated 81 verses that became the Tao Te Ching (Daodejing). There are some that call it the wisest book ever written, and as its author, this has led Laozi to be traditionally considered the founder of philosophical Taoism (pronounced as "Daoism"). Legend has it that Lao Tzu's younger contemporary, Confucius likened him to a dragon to describe his indescribable uniqueness.

The Tao Te Ching (or Daodejing), often called simply Laozi after its reputed author, describes the Tao (or Dao) as the source and ideal of all existence: it is unseen, but not transcendent, immensely powerful yet supremely humble, being the root of all things. Many see it as a manual for achieving a way of life that guarantees integrity, joy, peace and balance. According to the Tao Te Ching, humans have no special place within the Tao, being just one of its many ("ten thousand") manifestations. People have desires and free will (and thus are able to alter their own nature). Often we act "unnaturally", upsetting the natural balance of the Tao.

A general consensus is that the Tao Te Ching intends to lead students to a "return" to their natural state, in harmony with Tao. In essence humans do not cease exploring; but the end of our exploring, it's believed, will be to arrive where we started, and to know the place as if for the first time. When we transform ourselves, we discover our true nature is where we began, but we see it properly for the first time because we are now aware. And so, too, in life, we all arrive with a round trip ticket to go back to where we came, to the source we shall all return. And if we all come from a divine essence, then believers say returning to that is the motion of the Tao.

It's thought we all emanated from the same source and are one at the core, and everything of form emanated from the formless. Thus, life is a period of coming from nowhere to the "now-here" and back to nowhere again. Subsequently, adherents to this belief say the life-death transformation is the same thing, simply with a subtle difference in its spacing. It has been suggested that Laozi was trying to say that we should go back to that moment from non-being to being, and live our lives from a spiritual perspective - to become a truly consciously aware (some would say God-realised) being.

Thus the argument goes, we should learn to "die" while alive, providing the only opportunity we have to get outside of our physical "package" that houses us temporarily. We need to do this in order to be able to look back in our waking conciousness, to see ourselves trapped in the cage of our bodies and how unnecessary it is to remain caged. It is essentially about believing that we come from a divine place of well-being and to learn to trust in that nature within us.

It's believed, therefore, the best of us follow our own nature and not the trappings of life. Towards this end, experts encourage us to create a scared space for ourselves, and place in it everything that has energy value to us - for example any mementos we have such as a photograph of a loved one, or a role model, mentor or hero that has inspired us - to help guide us as we reflect on our true nature and source of well-being. It is with love we discover the way, because love is the way.

The true warrior has no enemy

“The true warrior has no enemy, because in everyone he or she encounters they see a part of themselves. The true warrior knows there is no victory except through the fight for peace. Thus there is no way to peace, unless you see peace as the way. Remind yourself that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. There is no way to love. Love is the way. Bring peace, love and happiness to all that you do. Live without attachment and be generous. Be strong by being flexible, by giving you will receive more than you give. Know we have to learn to allow those we love the freedom to find their own way. It's more important to be kind, than to be right. Rather than looking for miracles, see everything as miraculous as you reconnect to source - to your source, whatever you believe that to be.”
— Mickie Kent

The Tao has often been described by some as another name for love, god or spirit, but within the Tao, language and conventional wisdom are always critically assessed. Taoism views them as inherently biased and artificial, widely using paradoxes to sharpen the point. More recently, anarchists such as fantasy author Ursula K. Le Guin have written about the conjunction between anarchism and Taoism in various ways, highlighting the "gentle wisdom" and teachings of Laozi in particular.

In her translation of the Tao Te Ching, Le Guin writes that Laozi "does not see political power as magic. He sees rightful power as earned and wrongful power as usurped... He sees sacrifice of self or others as a corruption of power, and power as available to anyone who follows the Way. No wonder anarchists and Taoists make good friends."

As with all people whose words have had the heaviest influence on social consciousness, Laozi's wisdom crosses the lines of culture, religion and time. Some suggest that the words resonate so strongly with universal truths that while you read them you should pretend God is talking to you, or the universe, or the divine part of yourself. Or whatever you listen to that taps the most intimate, connected part of who you are. The treasure of the Tao has to be deeply felt and integrated, otherwise it's just "Quote-of-the-Day" material.

And what would Laozi say to people living at this time, given the conditions that we have in our life right now? He would probably advise us to live beyond our ego and not to be controlled by its fears and preoccupations. We live our lives in fear - fear of losing face, loss of reputation, disapproval, what others think of us. But when we critically question what we are really afraid of, we realise that our fears are generally unfounded. When we shift from fear to curiosity, and become curious about what we are afraid of, those fears habitually lose their mystic. Whatever fears you are attached to, start to let them go. Laozi might say if we knew who truly guided us, we would never feel fear or doubt again.

The source that guides us connects us. We are all connected. We need to see ourselves in everyone and everything. There is a native American saying that says no tree has branches so foolish as to fight amongst themselves. On the tree of humanity, therefore, we are all its branches, and if we want to end violence we have to change our thoughts, and then our actions, by following a better way.

All actions have consequences, and as such come with accountability and responsibility. Another parable often cited on the futility of violence is the dandelion flower. If we want to remove this plant from your garden (considered a weed by some, a flower by others), hammering it with a shovel will only spread its seeds and bring more the following year. Violence gives birth to more violence. No matter how horrendous people behave towards us, we must remember that there is something of us in them. Naturally, we need to defend ourselves and protect our freedoms and the right not to be interfered with - as we shouldn't interfere with others. But on a higher level, we need to go within and find a common bond to reach out to - or else many fear civilisation as we know it will not survive.

From this perspective, we can see the absurdity of having an enemy, and even those who go to war, the ones who triumph are the ones that have no enemy. The people we slay to gain victory, are no different to us than ourselves. We need to stay positive when we see the dark side of human nature, and try to see ourselves in everyone you encounter. Thus the primal virtue should be about living in oneness; to shift from a position of ego and entitlement. To stay humble, and in doing so, discover the perspective that everyone has issues in their lives.

A blueprint for facing our challenges

“Wisdom is knowing we go to nothing. Love is knowing we come from everything. And in between the two our life moves.”
— Mickie Kent

Challenges and crises are a great equalizer, and so is the Tao. To know the Tao, it's often said, is to understand the greatness within ourselves, and to look to our nature as the source of well being. Allow yourself to trust in your nature to know what you really want, so that you can overcome your own challenges. Sometimes our challenges will be conflicts with other people, even loved ones, on a constant basis. How do we end the conflict? In an argument, be the one who ends the silence. We can end the hate, the stress, the hurt if we decide to end the conflict with love. This is true for all the challenges we will face. The ability to take a conflict and to end it with love, is one of the most powerful things you can do. Only then is the conflict truly over.

Because if the nature of our being is kindness, then we must be kind to the kind and unkind; we must love all beings impartially abandoning none. We must allow all things to live peaceably, by not interfering unduly in their lives, even our loved ones. We are there for consultation and support, but we each have to work out the way for ourselves. We have to trust that people can work things out on their own - if we trust in our nature, we will know the right thing to do - as the baby "knows" how to grow healthily in the womb without interference.

And by observing nature, we learn that it is the nature of things that there will be a time for every purpose, even challenges - with the awareness that hidden in all misfortune is good fortune, because no storm can last forever. Hidden in every storm is calmness, for every snow there will ultimately come a thaw. And the way we overcome anything is one day at a time; from the small do we accomplish the great. This is especially true if the challenges we have to overcome are addictions or bad habits, which like a vicious circle perpetuate their own, ever increasing challenges.

Those well versed in the Tao confront their difficulties, but never experience them. Thus, if we identify and take on difficulties while they are still easy, then we can achieve greatness from the little things, and so greatness comes from being in the moment, being in the present in the now. And love links us from personal ambition to the collective - to the groups we belong to - and when we team up with like-minded people, we create and connect more with love. The more you connect with your core, the stronger you are, and the stronger you are, the more you can accomplish in the days ahead.

Furthermore, when we live by giving it creates balance in our lives and a sense of contentment. When we constantly create out of a state of love, moves us from rigidity to to softness, and living with flexibility is an important transformation. If we are to seek new experiences we need to be open to change. The best partner is one who is flexible in all relationships. The more flexible we are as people the more we can accomplish. Little minds are closed to change, great minds are supple like healthy bodies and open to change. If Laozi were alive today, he would probably advise that all things living are soft in life, and brittle in death, and thus flexibility, not rigidity should be our companion in life in thought and action. Observe the nature of water, and imitate its fluidity when challenges arise; go with the flow and turn with the bend.

Likewise, if you can guide your thoughts and actions to flow like water over your challenges, you can rise to any occasion. Challenges are learning curves; in them rest the potential for growth. They are there to teach us something important about ourselves, to grow in a way we couldn't otherwise. Tapping into the wisdom of being grateful for whatever comes will help us see it as guide sent from whichever source we place our faith in. Our challenges give us an extraordinary gift, and put us on a whole new level of acceptance.

Naturally, this is a challenging way of thinking, but challenges are a part of life; changes and disruptions are inevitable. And if we are irritated by every rub, we will never become a polished version of our true self. So, we should view challenges with love, take a step back and allow the divine perspective it gives us to inspire us to see solutions, as a way to polish you into becoming a better you.

To this end, below is a blueprint for a heart-focused life transformation. It is a comprehensive guide, filled with a lot of important information for you to assimilate, so take your time, and bookmark this page for reference if need be, so that you can get the most out of this life changing approach.

Follow the Path of the Way | Contents

    Love is the way forward: Learning to face our challenges will lead to a healthier life. We can do this by incorporating healthy habits in place of negative ones that don't serve our true self.

    Surrender to love: For true happiness we need to connect with a like-minded support group or community, and let to go of things that no longer serve us in our lives.

    Move up with love: We must commit ourselves to action to achieve life transformation. Most experts advise a strategy of inspired rather than massive action.

    Inspire yourself to be yourself: Taking action means action that is right for us. To do this we first need clarity of thought to join us with our true self, which can be attained with meditation.

    Do you know what you really want? To accelerate personal growth we need to be able to clarify what it is we really want, before we act to achieve it. Also provided are strategies from the experts on how to reach our dreams and desired goals.

    Identify what is choking you: What separates those of us who can from those of us who cannot change and meet our challenges? One of the main strategies for dream-realisation is the need to identify and eliminate the choke points in our life, and on our progress. But although we need to get mentally tough, we should remain connected to our spirit.

    Allow love and goodness to inspire: In all that we aspire for ourselves, we must be inspired by love and goodness. This will add value to our aspirations and transformation, and sharing this with others will profit us in the end.

    Life is about the highest quality of living: The real secret of a successful life transformation is by giving to others the value we discover within ourselves. Only by breaking out of the comfort zone the conventions of our culture provide can we transcend fear, and courageously choose to follow the way of love.

Love is the way forward

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. If you realise that you have enough, you are truly rich.”
— Lao Tzu

In life, we need to learn how to deal with our own challenges, no matter how nerve-racking, because otherwise to do nothing is to invite stagnancy. Hiding away in our shells won't solve our problems, it will just make more. Increased stress is one of those culprits. Cortisol, known as the "stress hormone", is integral to our body's "fight or flight" response. Originally designed to help us survive life in the wild, the "fight or flight" response was essential when our ancient ancestors were faced with sudden, brief danger like, let's say, a tiger.

However useful in short bursts, releasing cortisol too frequently, as we seem to be doing in response to the ongoing or "chronic" stress of modern life, may have serious, even scary, impacts on our physical, mental and emotional health. In fact, living in this kind of biological "survival mode" may be making us more vulnerable to everything from cancer to heart disease, and more. Therefore, some experts believe not facing our challenges can also be detrimental to our health.

Read about natural stress-busters.

Think about the best vacation you've ever had, do you remember what it felt like? Do you remember feeling relaxed, happy, at peace, and just full of life? Now think about how you feel on a regular basis? Would you say you feel more stressed than when you're on vacation? If so, this gives you an idea of what chronic stress is all about. Chronic stress is that regular stress we don't even realise is there until we do something like go on vacation.

But the important thing is that experts warn this stress is believed to be what leads to so many chronic illnesses in our society. If we can learn to deal with stress, it will also give us confidence over our mental strength. And sometimes issues are more than a one-person task. Asking for a help is not a sign of weakness. No matter the circumstance, being able to ask for help and knowing that you need help is one of those things that helps you grow and mature, and we can learn to appreciate the relationships we have with friends and family. Solutions take time and patience, and worrying about something once it's become a problem makes matters worse.

Rather than wasting our precious time worrying, some even suggest we take a nap. You might not think sleeping is being active, but some say it is. Adherents to the benefits of "power naps" cite Albert Einstein's "method" of finding great ideas and solve problems by relying on the powers of his subconscious mind. The subconscious said to be a powerhouse of energy, vitality and creativity that when tapped upon, gives us incredible powers to achieve in every area of our lives. Proponents of this say that the secret lies in activating the creativity part of the subconscious mind through a short nap, Albert Einstein is able to activate the alpha brainwave state of his mind, which is believed to be the most creative state of the mind to provide solutions.

Other experts advise we should make the necessary lifestyle changes when challenges arise, instead. When we evaluate what has gone wrong in our life, we will often find that our bad habits are the root of the problem. When challenges arise, ask yourself: What bad habits do you have right now? Smoking? Overeating? Procrastination? Drink? Drugs? Do you waste your time? Or not taking care of your body? Think about it. You know what your bad habits are, and you know you shouldn't be doing it. And yet you continue. You try to quit, then continue again. Every single time the pull is too great.

Click here to change 6 negative habits.

We've all been there. To be able to change that pull we need to change our habits in the right way, and understanding exactly how good and bad habits form is the first step to changing them and help you take control. Because habits are our automatic reactions it requires an effort to change them. We're overwhelmed by drives to eat, drink, smoke or do something else that gratifies some desire in us.

But we can change, by breaking bad habits and forming better ones, with planning and effort. Fill your life with the sort of novel distractions that stop you living on autopilot and relying on bad habits. Sometimes all it takes is a shift in focus. So every three weeks to sixty days (the time it takes to form a habit) experts say you should introduce a new healthy habit to help you transform your life.

The best healthy habits for happy long life.

All this can work, but with one proviso. You have to really want it to. The surest way to change our habits is to change them ourselves and for this we have to want to change. Change is difficult, but if you try and find healthy habits that fit your life, then they will resonate with you and become a habit. If not, leave them behind, and try another. Experts warn us to take things slow and easy, and remember to be kind to yourself.

Two healthy habits to change your life

You can still fix your bad habits and make dramatic changes in your life in just a few minutes per day. For the first healthy habit, set an alarm 3 times a day for 30 days, and when it goes off, stop what you're doing and ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. What am I focusing on right now?
  2. Is focusing on this moving me forward, backward or sideways?
  3. What can I choose to focus on right now that WILL move me forward?
Don't judge yourself if you discover you are focusing on something that isn't helping you move toward your ultimate life, just the awareness and decision to make another choice will be enough.

If you form this habit, experts say that it could change your life. It will only take you about 30 seconds each time you commit to it, and to get the biggest result from this, it's recommended you do it at least 3 times daily. It seems absurdly simple, but experts say the results can change your life.

The second health habit experts say you should get into is a simple five-minute solution which can be done at any time of the day. Sit down and create a check list for the next day's priorities. Simply write down the 3-5 biggest things that need to get done tomorrow in order to move you ahead with your life changes. While your at it, identify the obstacles in your way (if any) to achieving these tasks. When you come up with solutions, these will become your new habits.

This step helps you become pro-active about success, rather than being re-active to what happens around you. It's a seemingly small change in behaviour, but it's actually a giant step forward in transforming your life. Other healthy habits experts frequently recommend is waking up early (as a solution to get started on the previous night's check list). If you find this works for you, make getting up early a habit.

Keep your priority to-do list right beside your bed. When you wake up and get through your morning routine, go right to item number one on the list and start taking action to get it done. This might mean starting an exercise routine, preparing a better lunch for work, working our your finances, or simply going through a stack of unpaid bills on your kitchen table.

You'll notice that these habits do not require massive sacrifice. Instead, you'll gain confidence and motivation with small victories each day. Action begets more action. Set yourself deadlines, give yourself incentives, while accountability and support will keep you on track. These four pillars of life transformation are the best habits to incorporate into your life. It's the perfect recipe for success.

Support is one healthy habit we could all incorporate into our lives to help us move forward. Seeking out support is not only a healthy habit in itself, but it can be very beneficial when making new healthy habits. When seeking our your support group, ask yourself: Who are the most positive, loving and inspiring people in your life? Those people who have a very real and loving interest in you and who will be your cheering squad and hold you accountable.

Surrender to love

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
— Lao Tzu

Sometimes we are lucky and our significant others/family/friends are right there with us. Sometimes they can be resistant and concerned with how changes will affect their lives. We must remember that selecting a support team is NOT about ignoring constructive criticism - even negative criticism can be beneficial if you know how to react to it. Others like to make their biggest critic their role model, because they may feel they need that constant accountability to stay on track. The importance of criticism is to analyse it and see where it's coming from - if it's based on a position of love, then often it is advice we may need to heed. So whoever you choose, make it part of your focus to spend more time with them. We all deserve our own personal support team.
  • Take some time and think about all of the people in your life.
  • Pinpoint the ones that will be an asset to your support group.
  • Talk to them and let them know why these changes are important to you and that you value their support.
  • Check online for additional support groups making the same changes.
  • Be Inspired! Find other people who have made similar changes in their lives. Get to know them!
  • Surround yourself with people who are passionate about change and who will share in your journey.
  • Be open to making changes/additions to your group as you move forward.

Experts remind us it always best to get into the habit of reminding yourself that you are not alone. Your support group will be there to encourage you, give advice when you need it and maybe even an occasional “kick in the pants” to help you move forward. They will also be the first ones to celebrate your success. Some believe it's truly amazing what happens when you get out of your comfort zone and gather with and engage other people who have similar goals. As simple or silly as it may sound there's probably a really good chance you're missing out on your biggest opportunity to stay focused and consistent if you're not part of a support community on an ongoing basis.

It's been said that there are 4 types of people in our lives. Those who divide your life, those who subtract from your life, those who add to your life, and those who help you multiply your efforts in life. That's why experts recommend you make a conscious decision to spend your time with like-minded positive people who share similar goals, while some go further to claim that if you decide to ignore social support or being part of community you could be wasting half your potential in life.

Experts emphasise the importance of the right social support group, because they say you become who you hang out with. If you spend time with negative, broke, overweight people then you're most likely going to be negative, broke, and overweight too. Habits are mini-magnets of attraction, some say, and if you look around and see a lot of what you don't want in your life, you're experiencing "negative attraction".

Debt, bills, stress, a job that leaves you unfulfilled (or perhaps no job at all) - strained relationships, lack of passion or creativity. Nobody "wants" these situations or problems, but most people spend a lot of time thinking about them. And experts on the law of attraction explain that what you think about - you attract. So, how do you stop thinking about your problems and start attracting your desires? Success and happiness is attainable for everyone not just the successful few. It's about letting go of things that don't serve us, because the pursuit of happiness and success isn't necessarily about what we gain, but about what we can let go.

15 things you should give up to be happy

Sometimes we get caught up and forget how simple and beautiful life is, but there are things we can do to enrich our life even further. Here is a list of 15 things which, if you give up on them, experts say will make your life a lot easier and much, much happier.

Click here for 40 tips to a happier life.

We hold on to so many things that cause us a great deal of pain, stress and suffering - and instead of letting them all go, instead of allowing ourselves to be stress free and happy - we cling on to them. Starting today why not give up on all those things that no longer serve us and embrace change? Namely:

  1. Give up your need to always be right. There are so many of us who can't stand the idea of being wrong - wanting to always be right – even at the risk of ending great relationships or causing a great deal of stress and pain, for us and for others. It's just not worth it. Whenever you feel the "urgent" need to jump into a fight over who is right and who is wrong, ask yourself this question: "Would I rather be right, or would I rather be kind?" What difference will it make to you? Is your ego really that big?
  2. Give up your need for control over others. Be willing to give up your need to always control everything that happens around you – situations, events, people, etc. Whether they are loved ones, co-workers, or just strangers you meet on the street - just allow them to be. Allow everything and everyone to be just as they are and you will see how much better will that make you feel. Lao Tzu is attributed as advising that by letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond winning. This doesn't mean we shouldn't show effort in life, it just means we need to channel the wisdom to know what is in our power to change.
  3. Give up on blame. Give up on your need to blame others for what you have or don't have, for what you feel or don't feel. Stop giving your powers away and start taking responsibility for your life. Be accountable to yourself first, you'll then be able to back up your actions and choices to anyone who questions you. This is when you achieve real control.
  4. Give up your self-defeating self-talk. How many people are hurting themselves because of their negative, polluted and repetitive self-defeating mindset? The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive. Experts say, we shouldn't believe everything that our mind is telling us – especially if it's negative and self-defeating. You are better than that.
  5. Give up your limiting beliefs. It has been said that a belief is not an idea held by the mind, it is an idea that holds the mind. This is about what you can or cannot do, about what is possible or impossible. From now on, you are no longer going to allow your limiting beliefs to keep you stuck in the wrong place. Spread your wings and fly!
  6. Give up complaining. Give up your constant need to complain about those many, many, many things - people, situations, events that make you unhappy, sad and depressed. Nobody can make you unhappy, no situation can make you sad or miserable unless you allow it to. It's not the situation that triggers those feelings in you, but how you choose to look at it. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking, especially when coupled with inspired, positive action.
  7. Give up the luxury of criticism. Give up your need to criticise things, events or people that are different than you. We are all different, yet we are all the same. We all want to be happy, we all want to love and be loved and we all want to be understood. We all want something, and something is wished by us all. So, understand and believe in others as you wish to believe in yourself.
  8. Give up your need to impress others. Stop trying so hard to be something that you're not just to make others like you. It doesn't work this way. The moment you stop trying so hard to be something that you're not, the moment you take off all your masks, the moment you accept and embrace the real you, you will find people will be drawn to you, effortlessly.
  9. Give up your resistance to change. Change is good. Change will help you move from A to B. Change will help you make improvements in your life and also the lives of those around you. Follow your bliss, embrace change - don't resist it, and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls, so the experts say.
  10. Give up labels. Stop labelling those things, people or events that you don't understand as being weird or different and try opening your mind, little by little. Minds are like parachutes, they only work when open. The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don't know anything about.
  11. Give up on your fears. Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself." Fear is just an illusion, it doesn't exist – you created it. It's all in your mind. Correct the inside and the outside will fall into place. We may not be able to control everything that happens to us in this world, but we can control whether we fear what happens, or choose to face it head on regardless.
  12. Give up your excuses. Send them packing and tell them they're fired. You no longer need them. A lot of times we limit ourselves because of the many excuses we use. Instead of growing and working on improving ourselves and our lives, we get stuck, lying to ourselves, using all kind of excuses - excuses that 99.9% of the time are not even real.
  13. Give up the past. This is hard, as we can all be held hostage by our past - especially if the past looks so much better than the present, and the future looks so frightening. But you have to take into consideration the fact that the present moment is all you have and all you will ever have. The past you are now longing for - the past that you are now dreaming about - was ignored by you when it was present. Or worse, if you have locked yourself away in the mistakes of the past, then you are constantly beating yourself up about situations you can no longer change. All you can change is the way you look back and perceive your past. So, stop deluding yourself. Be present in everything you do and enjoy life. After all life is a journey not a destination. Have a clear vision for the future, prepare yourself, but always be present in the now.
  14. Give up attachment. This is a concept that, for most of us is so hard to grasp, but it's not something impossible. You get better and better at with time and practice. The moment you detach yourself from all things, (and that doesn't mean you give up your love for them – because love and attachment have nothing to do with one another, attachment comes from a place of fear, while love - real love is pure, kind, and self less. Where there is love there can't be fear, and because of that, attachment and love cannot coexist) you become so peaceful, so tolerant, so kind, and so serene. You will get to a place where you will be able to understand all things without even trying. A state beyond words.
  15. Give up living your life to other people's expectations. Way too many people are living a life that is not theirs to live. They live their lives according to what others think is best for them, they live their lives according to what their parents think is best for them, to what their friends, their enemies and their teachers, their government and the media think is best for them. They ignore their inner voice, that inner calling. They are so busy with pleasing everybody, with living up to other people's expectations, that they lose control over their lives. They forget what makes them happy, what they want, what they need - and eventually they forget about themselves. You have one life - this one right now - you must live it, own it, and especially don't let other people's opinions (those not in your support group) distract you from your path.

We hear this reminder often: The life you have left is a gift. Cherish it. Enjoy it now, to the fullest. Do what matters, now. This suggests action - and when we aren't getting results, it's easy to find excuses. The problem is that everyone can justify their behaviour (or lack thereof), but until we take responsibility for our results, we will not move ahead. Experts suggest that we shouldn't rationalise procrastination, out of our fear of action.

Move up with love

“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
— Lao Tzu

Rationalisations are generally said to be convenient evasions of reality and are used as excuses. If this is true for you, then the best habits to form in your life will be to identify the solutions to the obstacles in your life. Eliminate the rationalisations that stop you from moving on, and start taking action.

What else are we here to do except to do what makes us fulfilled and move forward to a better version of ourselves? So why don't more people taking action to do what they really want to do? It seems that on the subject of action, the world never ceases to amaze. On one hand, people are extremely unique. We have billions of unique beings running around all over the place. On the other hand, experts seems to constantly be telling us that all people end up in one of two groups - those who act, and those who don't. And those who don't are often held down by a fear of what they perceive to be "failure".

Committing to what you want and taking action based on that really puts you in a position where it's going to be obvious to someone when you "fail". But if you can learn to see your "failures" as lessons to move forward, then you can muster the courage to push through and take action.

Failing, in this sense, can be a liberating moment in life, too, because you've faced your fear and moved past it, and realised that you can survive it. And from that point forward, experts reassure us that fear will no longer control you and keep you small. We have a choice of action: to go after what we want or to learn how to take what we get. Experts recommend doing both, provided you get the order right.

This means go after what you want first, and then be accepting of what you get as the next step to reach further. It's been said that our reach must always exceed our grasp, or else what are dreams for? Do what you want. Start to act in the direction of your dreams. You don't need anyone to tell you it's OK to want what you want. All you need is your own approval to begin with, because even with a support group, the support for yourself must start with you. From there, it's about action.

So, going back to the start of this article, although the winter's snow has caused inconvenience and disrupted travel services and spoiled people's holidays and left people without power. But it hasn't been devastation on a historic scale. And it shouldn't have come as a surprise. This has happened for the past three years.

Instead of thinking up ever more extreme ways to describe the sort of weather that is only to be expected at this time of year, perhaps we should be thinking more of how to respond better to such conditions when they happen again, and to take better heed of the advice that is out there. Early pioneers of creative thinking methods like Alex Osborn described this as "thinking up". When we do this, we are making sure when challenges they arise they do so on our terms. And living life on your terms, while allowing for the universal terms of co-existence, tolerance and acceptance is the true way forward.

Couple positive thought with positive action.

Most people think and act as though they were born under an unlucky star. That's a mistake. It doesn't make any sense, and it only reinforces a losing attitude. With positive action your path is well marked and has plenty of illumination to help you find your way. It is, however, up to you to start the journey. Sitting at home and lighting candles for good luck might work for students of the magic arts, but in the real world we need to put in active as well as mental effort.

Can we visualise away bad luck?

As a bit of fun, here is an exercise you can try to disperse away what you perceive to the bad luck in your life - but remember most experts tells us that there is no such thing as luck. We are the navigators of our life, and luck is this sense is made.

However, this is also a good example if a visualisation technique to calm you or bring you into a meditative state, and bring you into your happy place and thus boost the power of your visualisations.

To start this exercise, you need:

  1. An open mind,
  2. your imagination
  3. and a fun outlook.

To start with, in your mind's eye, visualise 4 different coloured candles: orange, black and grey and blue (blue represents you).

  • Step 1: Sit down and relax.
  • Step 2: Light the blue candle in your mind's eye and say: "This is me, me in all things."
  • Step 3: Light the black candle and say: "This is all the bad luck that has dragged me. This bad luck now leaves me forever."
  • Step 4: Light the grey candle and say: "All bad is neutralised. All bad luck is dissolved."
  • Step 5: Light the orange candle and say: "This is the energy coming my way, to get my life moving."

Lastly, visualise the negative energies being whisked into the grey candle and dissolved into nothingness. Visualise the orange candle drawing good energy and good luck towards you, see the air stirring about with possibilities and opportunities. Let the candles burn down completely in your mind's eye.

In exploring the strategy of "inspired action" there is a simple way to put it to use right away, but first, let's compare it with the "massive action" approach to see its strengths and weaknesses. According to this approach, you just keep "pounding the pavement" until you find the right opportunity. Life is just a "numbers game" and your job is to stick with it, keep crunching the numbers and be persistent. If you keep knocking on every door you can, you'll eventually get one to open.

Some experts emphasise that the message of persistence encouraged by this strategy is definitely a plus. No matter what you want to be, do, or have in life, you've got to stick with it and persevere. That's an important message. Too often people give up before they have a chance to succeed. However, the idea that you HAVE to take massive action can be a real trap and a poor way to enjoy your life. It can lead you to keep banging on doors that won't open because they just aren't the right ones. That idea can lead you to overwork or overcompensate in your life - and be constantly stressed and exhausted.

The key characteristic of massive action is that you are trying to make things happen. But if massive action is your mantra, how do you know when enough is enough? Is there a limit to massive action? Hopefully, that limit doesn't come in the form of a heart-attack, stroke, or being tired and frustrated beyond belief.

While the effort put forth in massive action, and the persistence, may be admirable, experts point out that there is another way that gives you even better results with much greater precision. By using this strategy you'll realise that you don't have to work doggedly and that life is in your corner, providing what you need, when you need it. This is is the inspired action approach.

Inspire yourself to be yourself

“Whatever walk of life we come from, we are all called to the same vocation, namely that of living. Some view living as a recreation, some as a competitive sport, or a social activity or even as a religious duty. But living is really a craft - one that takes hard work, effort and perseverance, and rewards us accordingly. When we make something of ourselves, only then should we expect miracles, because the real magic of being rests in not just the doing, but in the doing for being.”
— Mickie Kent

Most experts will try to instil in us that only faithful hard work on ourselves will get us where we want to go, and not just wishful thinking. But, before this sounds like us making living feel like too much hard work, we need to approach it from the stance of the amateur. Many of us hold misconceptions about the meaning of the word "amateur", which has to do with motivation, not quality. Remember "amo, amat, amas", the Latin verb "to love". The meaning of "amateur" is "he or she who does a thing for the love of it". There is no higher reason for doing anything than the love of doing it.

In that respect, we all qualify as amateurs of living; and our steadfast attendance in our lives fully qualifies us for this definition of the word "amateur" - and it should rest at the foundation of our approach to inspired action.

What do experts say inspired action means? Inspired action is about paying attention to internal and external cues to discover the best course of action. In other words, you notice inner prompts such as interesting thoughts, feelings, and sensations, as well as environmental elements that stand out to you, as indicators pointing toward right action - action that is right for you.

Read about the wisdom of inspired action.

Right action can be defined as what is aligned with the flow of how things are and with what is best for all. In this approach, some experts say our positive thought should remain in our subconscious, and we just trust in our action without too much second-guessing being involved. The inspired action approach says that there is a right action that will move things along most successfully and more efficiently. The more confidence you gain, the more instinctive it will become, and making the right active choices will become like second nature - or more correctly, your true nature.

The feeling of inspired action is generally ease, excitement, and synergy. Everything seems to fit together naturally and flow in the best possible way. When you are inspired with right action you feel energised rather than depleted. It may feel almost magical as the right door opens and people respond as you hoped they would. Some experts say you may even experience resources seemingly fall in your lap as that right opportunity presents itself to you.

Of course nothing really happens as if by the magic of storybooks - we need to work at our lives, careers and relationships to make them work - but by utilising inspired action experts say that it will seem effortless. Instead of knocking on every door on the street, inspired action first takes time to discern the best door to knock on. You pay more attention to meaningful cues about what might work and what doesn't. You allow life to inform you, rather than trying to make life conform to your preconceived ideas and plans. It's about thinking before you speak, looking before you leap - but to be sure-footed when you do.

Verse 68 of the Daoist text Tao Te Ching has been interpreted as saying that the best warrior leads without haste, fights without anger and overcomes without confrontation. They puts their selves below to bring out the highest in their peers. This is the ancient path of perfection. It's the virtue of not confronting, of working with the abilities you have, of complying with the laws of nature.

Experts say inspired action is important because positive thought and positive thinking is not enough to manifest our heart's desires. We need to couple this with inspired action to get what we want out of life. It is a life ethic that many have utilised in their real rags to riches stories. And the first move of inspired action is to get an initial prompt about what right action might be. As you follow this initial prompt and continue to pay attention to inner and outer cues, you refine this initial prompt with finer and finer detail. You go from a good general direction to precise insight.

Is the heart like a brain?

There are more ways to know something than what you see or sense. But to say the only way you can know something is through feeling it is equally wrong - so striking a balance between the two is really the golden mean for which we should be aim. The more analytical we become, the more we challenge conventions. This means we will also need to start listening to our intuition better, or clearing our mind from all the daily clutter, so that we will be able to hear better when our inner voice tells us what we really want.

Meditate for clarity of mind

To get a good initial prompt and to notice how you might need to adjust that as you go along requires mindfulness - you need to relax, quiet your mind, and pay close attention. You focus on what you want to achieve and expect that life will show you the best way to get there. In other words, you seek to calm your emotions, focus underneath your mental chatter, and sense a deeper inspiration that is connected to what is really happening in the whole of life. A great way to get to that place is to meditate.

Read about the power of meditation.

Meditation is a useful way of releasing stress and accessing inspired action through your heart. Generally in meditation, you guide your attention toward one thing, such as your breath or some inner focal point, and let go of everything else. As you do this, your brain waves come into calm coherence, your heart shifts into an easy rhythm, and your body relaxes.

From that quiet relaxed state you are better able to see, feel, and discern what you want, what information is available inside and around you, and what steps to take to get where you want to go. In the clarity provided by meditation, you make keener observations and are receptive to information that you might otherwise miss.

Here is a simple way to begin to access that sort of guidance. You can even try this right now:

  • Find a comfortable seat, close your eyes, and take several, slow, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Once your body is relaxed and your mind is quiet and alert, bring an issue into your awareness, focus into the area of your heart, and ask your heart a question. For example, "What is most important to do right now?" Be patient and keep the question open without rushing to have a quick answer. You may notice a word or phrase, an image, or a subtle nudge to action.
  • This might sound a little "out there" at first - until you get the hang of it. A great time to do this is at the end of meditation practice, once you've gotten really centred and deeply relaxed. Ask your heart any question that's on your mind. You might be surprised at what you find.

You can quiet your mind chatter. Be kind to yourself - welcome the chatter in, accept it with love and then let it go. Practice this whenever you find your mind starting to spin and soon your mind will begin to quiet. You will become much more present in the now and you will feel the power of your source of infinite creation guiding you.

Science has proven that meditation can eradicate stress, sharpen your brain, increase energy levels, and boost happiness. So, when your mind starts running in circles - gently meditate and remind yourself of the power of pure awareness over thought. Release the craving to always know the "how" if it doesn't serve you for that time, and feel yourself experience a brain evolution.

The life we create for ourselves has much to do with what we imagine is possible. Pick something in your life: health, wealth, family, etc., and the ask yourself ten years down the road what's the best-case scenario? What's the worst case? That's your perceived "range of potential" and some experts say this is wrong, because this doesn't really tell us what we're capable of accomplishing.

Do you know what you really want?

“At the centre of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”
— Lao Tzu

Knowing what you want to become tomorrow is the only way you can start working on it today, but realising our true potential and being able to maximise it is the key to success. Personal development is all about realising your fullest potential, being the best person you can be and making the world a better place to live in with your minuscule, but significant contributions. It all begins by knowing your calling in life.

If you enjoy something and you're good at it, then first you must define yourself as what you want to be. Most people go through their whole lives not knowing what they want, and so knowing what you want is half the battle. Things are easier to find if you know what you're looking for.

Ways to accelerate personal growth.

Scripting the future

Experts recommend that we set out our goals and intentions in writing, and shift out of habits that no longer serve us to be able to achieve them. It is thought that we can achieve this with a 5-step formula to help us write down our goals. You can try out this exercise by downloading and printing out the Intentions Summary Sheet, and following the instructions below. Namely:

  1. Know what you don't want. They say a human is like a magnet, and every line and dot and detail of his or her experiences come by his or her own attraction. So, in step one specifically identify and write down on your summary sheet what you don't want.
  2. Select what you do want. Step two involves selecting what you would like to have, do, or be. The trick is in turning every one of your complaints around to something you DO want. Write them in your summary sheet. Focus on where you want to go, not on where you were or where you are.

    Next, select your intention or goal and write this in the "Affirmation" section of the summary sheet. Write your intention or goal in the present tense, as if you already have it, e.g., "I am now...", because it's believed by doing so, you will be unconsciously reminding yourself of your intention. Your own mind will then help nudge you in the direction of making your goal a reality. Experts use the analogy of planting a seed in your mind. The rest of the steps in this formula will tell you how to water it, give it sunshine, clear out any weeds, and let it grow.

  3. Feel what it would be like to have, do, or be what you want. The technique to help you in this area is called scripting. The concept is another form of visualisation, and is deceptively simple:
    • Just imagine that you already have what you want and write out a scene that describes it.
    • Describe in such detail that you can feel it. Pretend you are a movie director and write a script for what you want to experience. Really get into it as you write it. Feel it. Sense it.
    • Experience it. When you think it and feel it, it comes to be.
    Record this script on your summary sheet. Read this script everyday. Let it be the first thing you do when you wake up, and last thing you do before you go to bed. Play it out in your mind like a movie.
  4. Clear all negative or limiting beliefs. Like any new decision, your goals are made from a rather clear awareness of what you do not want or of what has not gone well, and so, in order to set your goals into motion with enough momentum to keep them going, it is necessary to spend some time lining up your energy with your new decision. Many people make goals, and often by the first or second day they have gone back to their old habits, and then they feel discouraged. However, every day provides a wonderful opportunity to set forth your clear intentions, and clear any negativity. Some experts call this motivated visioning.

    Bounce back with affirmations.

    Find a comfortable place where you will not be interrupted and look through your summary sheet. In the section "My Dominant Intentions", under the sub-heading "My Current Beliefs" write a general description of how you currently feel regarding the five categories of your body, relationship, home, work and money. Be honest. Next, under the sub-heading "My Future Beliefs" write a general description of how how you want to feel and be, regarding each of the five categories. Be general and easy. Let these words come easily from you.

    Now, go back to the first category, focus on the topic. Your current list are your limiting beliefs. You need to eliminate these by replacing them with your future ones. So, experts advise you to sit back, relax, and daydream about doing this. Imagine your body looking just as you would like it to look. See it in your mind's eye. Try to imagine how that beautiful body would feel. Move it, in your imagination. Take it for a walk, dress it in something that pleases you. Appreciate it's stamina and flexibility and clarity. Spend as much time daydreaming about this wonderful physical vehicle as you can. Stay in your vision until you feel refreshed, and continue to be there as long as you can.

    Now, go on to the second category, and do the same thing. What's limiting you from the perfect relationship? or are you not appreciating what you already have? Bring an image of the most significant person in your life experience and see that person with you. Feel appreciation for that person. Mentally speak your appreciation. Imagine that person loving you back. Praising you, and complimenting you. Feel your mutual appreciation and admiration. Stay within the vision until you feel refreshed.

    Now, go to the third category, and feel appreciation for your home. Transform all the current negativity into a positive future. Make mental pictures of your home as you want it to be. See it orderly, if you desire that, and beautifully furnished, if you desire that. In an easy and carefree manner, imagine it however you would like it to be. Take pleasure from your vision and stay there until you feel refreshed.

    Now, go to the fourth category, and gather a mental picture of your work. Feel appreciation for the excuse it gives you to flow energy toward something. Acknowledge how expansive it is, and feel appreciation for its ever changing nature. See yourself expanding and thriving. Stay there until you are refreshed. Do the same with the final category. What is limiting you financially? See that change in your mind. Conjure positive images that excite you.

  5. Let go and listen to your intuition. Act on your intuitive impulses and allow the results to manifest. Experts say that spending more time focused upon your dream than upon the reality will create a transference in your life, where the dream becomes reality. The reality gives birth to the dream - but the dream is where you are wanting to put your attention. And as you do that, proponents to this formula say you have not only resolved, in your own mind, how your transformation will be, but you have notified everyone and everything in the entire universe and you have solicited their assistance in achieving your intentions. And from that moment forward it's thought the entire universe will conspire to assist you.

    Remember there is no right or wrong way to approach this, you must find your own way. The important thing with goals is that you choose areas of your life that matter most and thrill you. Passion is key. Try it and see if it works for you. What have you got to lose?

    Love is there if you want it to be, you just have to see that its wrapped in beauty and hidden away between the seconds of your life. If you don't stop for a minute, you might miss it.

The base of personal development lies in knowing why is it worth making all that huge amount of effort to improve yourself, or put simply, knowing your actual goals in life. You might not be able to write a long list of such things, but if you cannot think of a single one then you are most unlikely ever to live a life of power and passion.

For instance, let's assume that helping others is your inner calling and you feel that ultimate satisfaction in doing so. Then working hard on improving yourself and making yourself being capable enough to help others makes all the effort of personal development absolutely worth it. But you have to make sure that providing this sort of value is your true calling life.

Read how to discover your passion.

To put it another way, actually discovering what it is you really want to do (and what motivates you) is your first reality check. Apply some critical thinking to your life. Can you think of a few things about which you are passionate? One or two things which you care deeply about? Just one would be a start.

Don't beat yourself up if you cannot immediately think of something. It is hard to dream up a better life for yourself due to the decades of negative conditioning you have allowed yourself to accept. How often did your teachers, parents and friends encourage you to dream and ask you to share your vision with them? How often did someone shoot your fledgling dreams down in flames or pour scorn upon them? If this is an apt description of you, then small wonder that your dreams are not on public display.

5 tips to turbo-charge your dream
  1. Dream of a brighter tomorrow. Your yearning power is more important than your earning power.
  2. Be rational. Mysticism is your mortal enemy. There are obvious, logical steps between here and your dreams. Write them down in bite-sized chunks and follow them like a route map.
  3. Act. All is dust without action. Action is the key.
  4. Be disciplined. Life is tough. Fight. If others want you to fail, ignore them. Look to your support group. If the world is against you - go your own way. If people will spout nonsense, just ignore it.
  5. Start today. Procrastination is the thief of time. Successful people start right now. Procrastinators chatter to themselves that they will start "one day soon". Like the tomorrow that never comes, it never happens.

For many, low self-esteem can be more damaging than over-confidence. It can promote a vicious circle of anxiety and depression and is associated with many mental health problems. However, the dangers of confidence is that it is a double-edged sword. Research by psychologist Jean Twenge suggested a 30% rise in narcissistic attitudes over the past 30 years, while a 2006 study found that students are increasingly ambitious, but also increasingly unrealistic in their expectations. Thus, although low self-esteem certainly causes problem, high self-esteem can also bring issues such as narcissism, denigration of others and lowered resilience when things don't go well.

Perhaps what we need to so is focus on a sense of self that is not based on comparisons with others, but rather on our goals and what we want out of life. For instance, the modesty of champions comes from a deep knowledge of their sport. They know what it takes to win and what their opponents must have gone through just to be competitive. Modesty is perhaps the ultimate sign of confidence. Arrogance may hide a deficiency of skill, whereas modesty shows confidence in one's ability.

This is also the other side of the coin to support, and subsequently connecting with colleagues who inspire you to be more creative while you side step negative influences on your way to your goal, can help to counteract any reality-affirming notions of failure.

The beauty of this idea is that it's not about a goal per se. Instead it's all about pace. And, believe it or not, experts say everything you hope to accomplish in life hinges on this. Most people think that if they focus on work and constantly sacrifice their quality of life, that they will reach their goals faster.

Is the best goal no goal?

Experts say that the the secret to enjoying life is to keep your life in synergistic balance. The secret to success is making sure you take care of your body, mind, and spirit in addition to your loved ones and heart-focused, chosen career. You may think that you can't afford to do this, or that it won't work for you. But the truth is that your best ideas and contributions in business and life will come out more often when you are happy, healthy, and relaxed. Once we discover this secret, it can totally transform our life.

4 strategies to achieve your dreams

In our professional life there be times when you are under an urgent deadline and you may need to spend extra time working, but we can slow time down if we focus and become aware that our time is in our hands. And you may be someone who loves to work a lot because you want to. And those are both fine. But it's equally important that you play as hard as you work.

On this subject, experts have provided top 4 strategies that you can use to become more successful and achieve the life of your dreams. Divided into 4 key areas of health, personality, community, and life, these strategies are focused on helping you balance the business, body, mind, and spiritual areas of your life. If you apply these four strategies in your own life, experts assure us that you will be amazed at the changes you will notice, often within just a few days.

  • Strategy #1: Focus your energy on the right things at the right time. At some point, nearly every person will fall into the trap of spending time or money on "the wrong things at the wrong time." You need to make an effort each day to focus the majority of your time on the tasks that will produce the greatest result. For example, if you get distracted a lot with emails or surfing the internet, you may actually only get a few hours per day of quality work done. Technology is so addicting that it's easy to get sidetracked without even realising it.

    The easiest way to overcome this problem is to write down the 3-5 most important tasks that would allow significant progress towards your goals. Then, get started on those tasks first thing in the morning before you do anything else. If you work on the most critical tasks first, then you will be amazed at how much you can accomplish each day.

  • Strategy #2: Take your health seriously every single day. You are certainly aware that being healthy is a good thing, and has a huge impact on your quality of life. And two of the most important ingredients to staying healthy are getting enough sleep and drinking enough water. It is super-important to get a full night's sleep, and on a consistent schedule.

    Love your sleep.

    Have you ever noticed that when you haven't slept much, that over the next few days, your brain is foggy and you don't get as much done? The reason is because you then spend the rest of the week recovering from the sleep you lost earlier in the week. And you ultimately end up getting less done than if you had just done the work after a normal sleep cycle.

    The 10 habits of healthy ageing.

    And when it comes to water, you have heard a million times that it is important for you to drink lots of water. But if you're like most people, you fill your day with other fluids like tea and very little amounts of actual water. Teas are beneficial on occasion, but not as a replacement for the essential water that your body needs.

    Can water heal?

    The human body has approximately 50-75% water. And your brain is 90% water. So if you don't supply enough water to your body, then your brain and other parts of the body cannot function well. That is why it is so critical that you make sure and drink 6-10 glasses of water per day, depending on your age and body size.

  • Strategy #3: Chart your path to success with written goals/plans. One of the best gifts that you can give yourself and your family is the "gift of choice." You are capable of creating the life that you want, if you just follow the right steps to get there. It has been proven time and time again that those who go through life with a plan will be more successful than those who just take life as it comes. It makes sense logically too. You'll get to where you want to go quicker in life if you navigate yourself there. Experts say goals are the same way. If you always keep working in the direction toward your end goal, you will eventually get there.

    Now that we've taken an initial inventory of your personal situation, it's time to move forward. Don't make the same mistakes twice. Don't waste time weighing the pros and cons, dwelling on unproductive thoughts. Some opportunities only come along once. Make a decision, and then act on it. Make up your mind to do something that will transform your life in the next few weeks.

    Here's how to achieve your goals as fast as possible. You first need to be clear about exactly what you want to accomplish, and then write those goals down. Then, you should re-write each of your goals in a positive tense, such as "I choose to have a healthy body at my ideal weight," or "I choose to allow myself more time with my family."

    Once you have written your goals in a positive tense, you should visualise what life is like once those goals have already happened. Picture it in your mind. Then, repeat this process each day when you wake up, and/or each night before you go to bed to reinforce your goals. Next, take action in your life as opportunities come your way that will help make your goals come true. This process literally trains your brain to be on the lookout for the opportunities and ideas that will help you achieve your goals the fastest.

  • Strategy #4: Always "Be present". While technology has introduced so many incredible improvements into our lives, it has also caused everyone to be more distracted than ever. The truth is, when you try to talk to someone while you are looking at your phone or computer, you are not really being effective at either. Plus, you may hurt the other person's feelings because they will feel ignored.

    A better approach is to just stop what you are doing, and give that person your undivided attention for the time you are together. The same concept applies to your vacations and other time away from work. When you have a day off or take a vacation, leave your work and your computer behind. Give yourself some true time away from the office.

    In other words, be "present" with your day off, not distracted or multitasking. This will actually help you be more productive when you get back to work, and will expand your creativity. And don't feel guilty about enjoying your days off. Treat your time away from work as being critical to your success.

Think for a moment about how busy you are (or how busy you feel you are), what you have accomplished in recent years, and what you wanted to accomplish. Now do a thought experiment. To do this, you need to ask yourself, "What are the blocks and obstacles in the way of me accomplishing TWICE as much now as what I had planned?"

For example, if you enjoy writing, do you need more free time to write? And by free time I mean finding time when your head is clear from other obligations so that you can sit and create at a more productive pace. (Essentially, do you need more "magic time"?)

What about your health habits? Is your nutrition slowing you down? This is often an overlooked component of mental work rate, as any fitness expert will tell you. But the average person doesn't realise that the fuel they put in their body also impacts mental performance, not just physical appearance. It's possible that you are sacrificing 1-2 productive hours every day because of your meal choices. That's nearly a full workday every week, and more than a full work week every month, just because of your diet.

Consume life with love.

These are the choke points in your life. And if you eliminate these choke points, just imagine what you could accomplish. Are there daily chores that you are doing that interfere with your flow? That's where you take a look at the 95% of activities in your life that you can delegate to others, leaving you with the 5% of critical activities that allow you to achieve double your output.

Identify what is choking you

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
— Lao Tzu

Once you identify the choke points in your life, then you can identify how you can eliminate the choke points on your progress. When you start to critically analyse and delve into your life, you'll be amazed at how many useless distractions/chores/habits you can find that are literally getting in the way of you doubling your rate of progress. Experts recommend we all do this to help clear out any unnecessary clutter from our lives, too.

What you need to do is:

  • Continue to identify, isolate, and integrate magic time work into your life.
  • Delegate your 95% (this is an almost never ending process and you need to make sure things don't slip slide away from you) and focus on your 5%.
  • Critically evaluate what tasks are important, and prioritise your tasks, develop the habit of being able to focus on top priorities while minimizing distractions, obsessive-compulsive loops (i.e. checking Facebook and email every 20 minutes), time wasting, and time vampires.

This is not easy, but if you put in the effort, experts reassure us we will see results. Change your mindset from "I'm just an average person" to "I am not average". Switch your mindset, and big breakthroughs will come faster than ever.

Click here to rewire your mindset for success!

Here is a little exercise that might help. Imagine walking into a room and meeting the "you" of ten years from now. What will you be wearing? Where will you be living? What will your lifestyle be like? What car will you be driving? Will you be running a business? If so, how successful will you be?

Experts say that you really only have three choices here about how the "you of the future" will look, and this is where the power of this exercise lies:

  1. Somewhere in between how you are now, and a worse version of yourself.
  2. An exact clone of how you are now - absolutely nothing has changed in a decade.
  3. A happier, wealthier, healthier version of the "you of today".

Only a suicidal depressive would visualise number one. Number two is effectively saying that nothing will change; you will not grow over the next ten years, you will not get happier, wiser, healthier. The "you of tomorrow" will be indistinguishable from the "you of today". So that just leaves number three, and if you selected this it remains for you to back this glittering vision of the "future you" with all the force of your imagination.

Having imagined how you will be in the next ten years, here is a really neat to trick to help you achieve it. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • "What do I need to achieve in the next 12 months in order to make my future dream a reality?"
  • "What do I need to do in the next month to start myself on this journey?"
  • "What can I do by next week to prepare myself for the journey?"
  • "What can I do right now, today, in order to start this process off?"

Consequently, you need to dream, but this is not enough. Dreams come a size too large so that you can grow into them, and this means that dreams are too large to realise all at once. Our minds are finite, and so all large projects must be broken down into bite-sized chunks otherwise we become discouraged by the scale of the endeavour, and you find that your dream has become a ball and chain tied to your feet. Experts say a "bite-size" approach is one of the secret keys of successful people. They are undaunted by large projects, because they use the trick of breaking them down into simple steps. Each step is easily manageable, and can be completed in anything from a few hours to a few weeks.

In contrast, it is useful to analyse the situation of people who are stuck, both monetarily and in spirit, if only to allow you to avoid these errors. I would never use the derogatory term "loser" to describe such people, because I am not talking about "winners" and "losers" in any usual sense. I mean someone who, by their own definition of winning and losing, is falling well short of where they want to be.

  1. They are frightened. Their lives are dominated by fear. They see the world as a scary, threatening place and crave security, dullness, mediocrity. They long for every day to be the same as the last and become scared and upset if even a small change breaks the monotony of their days.
  2. They completely lack visualization ability. If asked to visualise their future self, they would stare at you blankly. They are not pretending. They do not even understand what you mean by this exercise. If you force them to try, they'll come back with nothing more than a shrug.
  3. They don't know what actions to take. Assuming that you could drag some sort of dream out of them (for example wanting to be worth a million dollars some day) then they would be wholly incapable of working backwards from that point to the present, and suggesting actions they might have to take in order to make this come about. Again, they are not faking. There is now; there is the future; and in between, a yawning, fathomless chasm - a blank.
  4. They lack the necessary discipline. Even if you were to write the steps out, 1-100, with a check box next to each one, they absolutely lack the discipline even to start on the task, let alone complete the steps. At the first slight downfall, or negative comment from a friend, they will give up. In any situation that requires a choice between working for a better future, and instant gratification now, they will unfailingly choose instant gratification.

But this is not you, hopefully. If you recognize yourself here, then don't worry because it is possible to change and get out of this "stuck" pattern you are in. You need to develop the habits of a winner. You want to enjoy today, but have an even better tomorrow waiting for you. To do this, experts recommend you model yourself on people who have achieved great things in their lives. People that have pulled ahead of the game and achieved what they set out to achieve. Experts say that these sorts of individuals operate in this way:

  1. They are brave. Like all human beings they feel fear, but have mastered it and are able to rise above it. While they acknowledge that there are frightening people and places in the world, in general they view the world as a benevolent place, full of great opportunities and wonderful people. This is a vital principle. Winners view the world as mainly benevolent with some bad bits. Losers see the world as mainly malevolent with some good bits.
  2. They are good visualisers. They have the ability to imagine the future, often in precise detail. They have high self-esteem, and know that they are worth more than they have at present. Life to them is an exciting adventure to be lived to the fullest. In contrast, losers view life as a terrible chore to be somehow "got through" with as little pain as possible.
  3. They are intelligent and logical. If they have a dream of the future, they know the secret technique for making this happen. Today's dreams are tomorrow's realities. They know that large projects cannot be tackled by finite human minds unless they are broken down into manageable, bite-sized pieces. They are able to work backwards from a future dream to the present day, and to list the logical steps required to make that dream come true.
  4. They take the required action. Having written down the steps required to achieve their goals, they know what is required next. Action. Up until this point, all of their plans amount to little more than ethereal hot air. It is action which grounds the circuit and allows the current to flow. They know that the journey will be long and hard. Any worthwhile dream will involve hard work, concentrated effort and some suffering to attain. They need one more quality. Discipline. This keeps them going during setbacks, when the list seems too long, and when others heap mirth and derision upon their efforts.

Now, throughout this article you will have noticed changes in language and tone - when it comes to building confidence within ourselves, some tough words have been used on action, and ignoring other people's criticisms that might dent your confidence. However, this doesn't mean we should treat people negatively in our actions. Life coaches will often remind us of this, if we get to zealous, and some recommend we keep 3 steps in mind as we progress in our transformation.

  • Step 1: Your thoughts, intentions and actions should always be pure and honourable.
  • Step 2: Judge your success by not what you get and have but what you can give and contribute.
  • Step 3: If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

Putting in the requisite effort requires "getting tough" - but the toughness described is a mental toughness, not a toughness of spirit. We should always remember that love is the ultimate reality and the answer to our problems. Without the feeling of love, no one can experience kindness or compassion, the cornerstones of humanity. Without love, there is no check or balance on our violence.

Religious people believe the feeling of love is your experience of God. In its highest truth, love is all there is, all there was, and all there ever will be. When you move into the absolute, you move into love. The realm of the relative (our physical world) is here order we might experience self, but this does not make the relative real unless our vision encompasses the absolute. A lack of love in our lives, whether we don't love ourselves enough, or we don't have the necessary support group, can be a major choking point in our lives.

Allow love and goodness to inspire

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”
— Lao Tzu

Experts say the realm of the relative is a created reality you and I have devised, and continue to devise, in order that we may know ourselves experientially. the creation can seem very real. Its purpose is to seem so real, we accept it as truly existing. In this theory, adherents say we have produced an environment in which we can play God - we can kill at will, murder indiscriminately, and wield great power over our world.

However, without an eye on the absolute, we run the risk of losing sight of what is truly important, and risk our very own survival as a result. It is like the little candle that thinks itself the Sun. The littlest soul can know itself as the light, but in actuality it comes from the light that can chase the dark away.

Proponents to this theory say that in the realm in which we live on the physical plane, there are only two places of being: fear and love. Thoughts rooted in fear will produce one kind of manifestation on the physical plane. Thoughts rooted in love will produce another.

In creating the realm of the relative, we first create the opposite of self. Fear is the other end of love. It is the primal polarity. Love is an extension of hope, with hope comes fear, but to give in to out fears is to ignore hope, and to give up trying is an offence to life. Believers say that the secret of the relative world is to refuse to acknowledge fear. In short, they have chosen only love, in every instance, in every moment, and in every circumstance. Life cannot be taken out of the game, because life IS the game, but more than game.

The universe has used every contrivance to place this truth before us. In song and story, in poetry and dance, in words and in motion - in still life and moving picture, and in collections of words we house in our books. We have chanted it from the highest mountains, and called it from the lowest valleys. This truth has been echoed through the corridors of all human experience: Love is the answer.

Thus experts suggest this is the way to move forward. When we need motivation to clear out the old, and make way for the new we should look to love. Bad habits can easily be broken and the past cane be dumped as easily as old baggage, but only if you're willing to make some sacrifices for the absolute picture.

We need to discard all that is no longer useful in your life according to love, this will include people, ideas and things. If it's finished, let it go. Don't hang on. Many things will pass out of your life as the years go by. Bless them and release them. Moving forward is all about letting go of the past in order to make room for the future, and setting yourself free so you enter the new cycle with a clean slate. If we're willing to release what no longer serves us, it will be difficult, but, if we embrace possibility, this will be a very powerful and life-changing time for us.

Life transformation is also the time to harvest the fruits of your labours: all those extra hours you put into your self, loved ones and your career. All the heart-to-hearts and late night conversations you sacrificed sleep for to help your loved ones. The healthy food you ate and exercise routines you engaged in for the sake of your health. And the time and energy you spent rediscovering yourself and re-aligning with your goals.

Always realise that you are a rare and special individual, with an amazing inner beauty, built from a combination of your own unique traits and experiences. But also remember you are much more than, as the saying goes, "a unique snowflake". Because a snowflake can never choose what tree or patch of ground it falls on. It cannot decide how quickly or slowly it melts, or whose boot it gets crushed under. It is powerless against the whims of fate.

You, on the other hand, are immensely powerful. You have the opportunity to connect with the very essence of your being, to adjust your trajectory when you stray off course, to soar above your challenges, and to plant your feet in as much prosperity, joy, love and well being as you want. The difference between in those you can and those you cannot is in the way they talk, the way they act and the way they think - and our awareness of this.

The way you think is what you create in your inner world. The way you talk and act is what you express in your outer world. If you want to be fully successful at whatever you do, you must be fully congruent in your thoughts, speech and actions. Half congruence results in half-hearted results. If you communicate lack in every way you won't discover abundance.

Experts that propound this theory also add that the elements in our environment affect our consciousness. Everything that you see around you will subconsciously impress upon you the idea of success. The more broken and dilapidated stuff you hold without replacing, the more you will feel lack.

When you keep signs of abundance in your environment, your subconscious mind will be constantly impressed with the idea of supply and abundance. By causing yourself to feel abundance, you will perpetuate the conditions of abundance in your reality. The subconscious impression of abundance creates conditions of abundance. Seeing abundance in one area creates a mental shift and allows you to start seeing and feeling more abundance in your life. Swap the word "abundance" for "love" and you have the same thing.

Whatever area in your life you have right now that makes you feel rich and powerful, create more of that. Use that area to affect other areas. The key is to get more references of abundance for you to be conscious of so as to impress upon your subconscious mind as much as possible the reality of abundance. Your actions create subconscious impressions, and by choosing to love yourself, you are saying that you are worth it. Your subconscious mind will pick up these impressions from your actions and create conditions in your life that resonate with that state of mind.

To manifest your dreams, you must begin with living as though you are already successful. It doesn't mean you should overspend, or have a grossly over exaggerated view of your abilities, or be narcissistic - it simply means to speak, think and act in a way that makes you truly happy. And when you are happy, you can then make others happy, and share the value in your life with the world. And there is no need to worry about what you're going to get back, because all things that proceed from you, return to you. Helping others often benefits you the most.

Life is about the highest quality of living

“One can not reflect in streaming water. Only those who know internal peace can give it to others.”
— Lao Tzu

If you're perfectly happy to keep on enduring the peaks and valleys of everyday life, however, without exploring the possibility of a more empowered, enlightened, engaged state of being, then the discoveries you've made up to this point will already stand you in good stead. And although all through this article we have touched upon what we can get for ourselves, the real secret of the absolute is that life is about creating the highest quality of giving, not the highest quality getting.

Life is not "for getting", life is "for giving" - giving to ourselves so that we many in turn share this with others. In order to do that, you need to be forgiving and tolerant to others - especially those who did not give you what you thought you were going to get. We must release people from our lives that no longer serve us, but we don't have to be cruel about it. We just have to bless them, and let them go their own way - as we move on forward to ours.

This switch will entail a complete shift of your cultural story. Today, what we call "success" in our culture is measured largely by how much we "get" - how many kills we make on the battle field, or by how much prestige and money and power and possessions we amass in our personal lives. However, in this new culture shift, "success" is measured by how much value with can give to ourselves and others. We all want love, but which of us can give it?

Thus the more value we cause others to amass, the more we will amass, almost effortlessly. With no "contracts" no "agreements", no "bargaining" or "negotiating" or lawsuits or courts which force you to give to each other what was "promised". We won't have to murder people different from us to protect our way of life, or push theirs to extinction. We will not do things for personal profit but personal value and for personal growth, which will be profit in itself.

This might go against the convention of success we are used to hearing. But if there is one thing we should take on board from following the way of love, is that we must live deliberately and with boldness. We should not be satisfied with simply how things have gone with others. We should unfold our own story by letting ourselves be drawn by the stronger pull of that which you truly love. In its pursuance we should be courageous. Get out of our comfort zone and forget safety. We should live where we fear to live, tread where we are scared to tread. In doing so, we shall destroy our fears and their notoriety.

When people want to move forward in life, they will wish to do so for a variety of stated reasons, but they almost always want to know themselves better in order to know what to do with their lives. We live in a world that efficiently creates boxes and labels for us to step into and we're told that stepping into them is how we become good citizens.

There are not a lot of alternatives presented to us, and at some point we pick up that the desire to live an extraordinary life is something other, cooler people do but not you. The internal permission needed to take steps toward an extraordinary life get snuffed out, and suddenly you find yourself in one of those boxes slapped with one of those pre-made labels. Going after your fears reminds us that there is an alternative. It will also give us self-confidence when we see that there is nothing really to fear, after all. You are the hero of your own story. You can fall in love with a passion, a purpose or a mission and let yourself be pulled by it.

And, most powerfully, stop living by fear. This is especially powerful in the safety-obsessed culture that permeates the developed world. Raised by parents that use instrumental lying to protect their young, fed on a steady diet of apocalyptic predictions to boost news entertainment ratings, and litigated into believing that any personal pain or hurt should be compensated with someone else's money, we have become so paranoid and safety obsessed we barely leave our dead-bolted houses. And we have become so protective of such a society, that we will wage war across the globe to ferociously protect it.

This translates into a fear of being judged by our neighbours, a deep seeded call back to the time that getting "kicked out of the tribe" actually could mean death. And we've become so acclimated to this feeling of fear we don't notice how shallow our breath has routinely become. But we are only able to haze to the ground our fear of our neighbour's opinion, of life itself if we believe we were made for something bigger.

We know life is precious, so we shouldn't let fear keep us from living it to the fullest. We should go out and live it, and love it, and unfold our own story, find our talent and discover our gifts and figure out how to embrace growth, while living deliberately and boldly. And subsequently, "profit" in a very real sense will come to you as you become a bigger and grander version of who you really are. We profit by being true to ourselves and happier people as a result. Happy contented people don't war, and they certainly don't war with each other. The true warrior fights the challenges necessary for self-improvement, and does not using force to coerce others into their way of life.

If another person does not agree with us, simply allow them to walk their path, make their choices, and create their own experience of themselves. If people are strapping bombs to themselves to murder innocent bystanders, or people are taking up arms against our way of life, we have to ask why. Ultimately all life on Earth is our source of light; we shine the brightest when we shine from our true self, but we all shine the strongest together.

Thus it is in the spirit of unity that we should choose to rejoice, and be aware and appreciate all of the blessings in life. Sometimes we don't understand the gifts we receive. Chasing wealth and power should be a means to the end of what is truly important, or to reveal what has been missing in our lives. The love with have for ourselves, our family, our friends, and for the entire world.

Without that we lose sight of what can truly bring us wealth and happiness. It's so easy to lose sight of the gifts we have, but it's also true that we should pass these blessings on to others, so that they might never lose sight of their own gifts. Begin to release limiting beliefs like, "I'm not worthy" or "It's impossible". Connect with who you really are and your true purpose, only in this way will you discover how to enter a state of heart connection - where you feel peaceful and connected to the best course of action for you - here and now.

We just need to take that first step to follow our dreams, as long as we don't abandon what truly loves and serves us. If we do then we're simply pretending to be someone we're not; but going after our passions will make sure what gives us value will bring us value, too. Of course we will make "mistakes" along the way, we are only human, and these are learning lessons depending on how we look on them.

And when we look on our lives with love, we will hear and see exactly the things that we need to move on up - that we are loved, and that love will always be there for us. No matter how far we stray, love will always want us to come home, because for the true warrior that is where all roads lead.

Yours in love,

Mickie Kent