Who hasn’t been hurt by the actions or words of another person? Wounds of any kind can leave you with lasting feelings of anger and bitterness. We all heard a phrase “Forgive & forget” but what does it mean exactly? Some follow this phrase without even giving a second to think of what it actually means. Two words hold such an enormous pressure. Can you truly forgive someone knowing the scars will remain? Probably forever.
We know that forgiveness is about extending our mercy to those who harmed us, caused us pain, tears, distrust & unbelievable anger. Forgiveness is not a quick formula you can follow or a statement you can make. It is believing deep inside that we can let go of all those angry emotions and never to hold the grunt. Even if we know that other person doesn’t deserve it. It is not about finding excuses for the offending person’s actions or pretending it didn’t mean anything. Forgiveness is a long process that ultimately leads us to be in peace with our selves. It is a painful challenge but deeply meaningful. The ill-feeling & memories will linger and resurface now & then. But you know that you made it, when recollection of an ugly incident no longer has an effect on you. Until then, the person who hurt us holds the key to our happiness.
If you don’t practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays dearly for it. Forgiveness can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Forgiveness doesn’t mean to be vulnerable again. Choosing to forgive will heal you & allow a pathway towards a sense of peace. By not forgiving & holding a grunt keeps you trapped and you’re living in a constant state of unsettlement. When you accept the terms & forgive, in a way, you release all the anger & you set yourself free. So stop, analyze & give forgiveness a chance. That includes you too. Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is yourself. We are often harder on ourselves than others & it inhibits us from allowing forgiveness to bring healing.
Is there anyone in your life yet to be forgiven? Look inside your heart. Only you can make the choice of forgiveness. Forgiveness will liberate both of you.
“Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong” -Mahatma Gandhi.
What exactly is talent anyway?
I’m a firm believer that talent is not something you are born with. You are only born with passion. Talent is how quickly your skills improve when you invest in effort.
As Angela Duckworth wrote in her book “Grit” (visit Book section for more info), “…without effort, your talent is nothing more than your unmet potential. Without effort, your skill is nothing more than what you could have done but didn’t. With effort, talent becomes skill and, at the very same time, effort makes skill productive…”
Talent is something you create. Using passion for the good, rather than bad, leads to improvements in your skill. Talent only reflects on how hard-wired you are. If you think about all of the talented people you know, the only thing that they have in common is practice. So they weren’t born with it? Of course not! These people that you admire for their talent have been practicing whatever it is for so long, that to you their “talent” looks almost second nature. They almost make what they do look easy. Let me assure you, they mastered their craft long and hard way, with precision, efficiency & most importantly of all, practice.
If you think that the only way to succeed in life is because of talent- change your thinking process. Excellence & success are not born of any particular ability, but because of practice. In other words, you can be good at whatever you want. As the saying goes- only practice makes perfect.
Come up with something that you love, something that you’re good at and transform them into passion. Commit to practice & perseverance. Becoming better at something, no matter what it is, calls for small transformation. Small steps will eventually lead to big growth. It is likely that you might experience disconnect right now between where you are & where you’d like to go. However, by setting small & achievable goals, you’ll gradually master what others should soon begin to describe as your “talent”.
“One thing I’ve learned is that I’m not the owner of my talent; I’m the manager of it” – Madonna
Why materialism always gets a bad press? Is the stereotype true that people who are highly materialistic (where their priority is money, possessions & status) tend to be more selfish? Research shows that highly materialistic people are largely selfish & prefer to build meaningful relationships with items they buy as opposed to people. Life becomes nothing but luxurious & unsatisfying and simply no fun.
“Their desire to acquire becomes the whole goal of their lives. This drive to always want more is based on the misconceptions that having more will make me happier, more important, and more secure, but all three ideas are untrue. Possessions only provide temporary happiness. Because things do not change, we eventually become bored with them & then want newer, bigger, better versions. Self worth & net-worth are not the same. Your value is not determined by valuables. The common myth about money is that having more will make me more secure. It won’t. Wealth can be lost instantly through a variety of uncontrollable factors” * (Purpose driven live).
But in all those things, there is also nuance. What if money could buy happiness? Money can be a key to happiness. Ask anyone who doesn’t have it. Someone wrote that “Whoever said money can’t buy happiness isn’t spending it right”. Spending money can increase your happiness if it’s spent in a way that fits your personality. In other words, consider who you are when you make that purchase, and that could make all the difference. Weigh your options. Are you the type of person who enjoys buying things for yourself, you look better for the society or prefers healthier bank account? So, before you pull out your wallet or click to order online, think about whether this purchase will really make you happy & why. Remember, the more money you earn- the more you want. You quickly adjust to your new wealth & everything new that you buy.
Consider spending money on others. Research shows that people tend to get happier when they spend money on others or donate it to charity. We shouldn’t feel generous only around Christmas. Gratitude beats any materialism. If you happen to have some disposable income, plan a spontaneous trip or take a class to learn something new. Materialism is a natural part of being a human. It undoubtedly has an ugly face but is here to stay. So when you’re shopping & you see an impulse buy-think…”will that make me happy”? Maybe not spending money will be better for your wallet & your very own happiness.
“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people they don’t like” – Will Rogers
noun: the ability to do something that frightens one
Courage is something that everybody wants. Fear, no doubt, is something no one wants to encounter. Fear can interfere in every aspect of our life. It controls our sleep, stress levels, and many other things that make life worth living. Courage is like muscle. The more we exercise the stronger it gets. So exercise courage often by trying new things & facing new challenges. I’m not talking courage of public speaking or sky diving. I’m talking about courage that leads to self examination. Courage that can change lives and allows us to live according to our values & even our dreams. How about starting a business you always wanted? Ending a relationship or going deeper emotionally in your current one? Quitting your job for more exciting one? Admitting to mistakes? Sounds pretty scary- doesn’t it? You will definitely need courage if you want to stay committed to doing these things. No one was born with immunity to fear, and anyone can learn to rise above it. Fear can be a great motivator.
We all know that fear is a powerful emotion. Courage means being afraid & acting anyway. So exercise that muscle. Make it a habit. Courage is contagious. Learn to only listen to positive thoughts & discard all negative bias. Try not to hesitate or procrastinate. The longer you allow your brain to process new ideas, the more time you will have to panic & come up with excuses. If you’re struggling to get started, find a role model who can be your North Start. Someone who can guide you & be a constant reminder that it can be done.
Reconcile with your past. Accept your past no matter how ugly it was and leave it well- in the past. Don’t let your past dictate your future, but let it help you go where you want to be. Get outside of your comfort zone one step at a time. It might cause a temporary anxiety but it will be a great first step. In other words, fake it till you make it. You can trick your mind into confidence by pretending that you are confident.
Only by deciding not to let fear take over your life but dare you to try things that scare you, you can realize how capable & courageous you truly are. So how about today be a day to start something that takes you out of your comfort zone. Repeat it again tomorrow & day after that & day after that.
Each time your fear will be diluted of its power and your own capability will take over. Little more each time until you have new legs to walk on.
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” —Nelson Mandela
First impressions are quick, powerful, and lasting. What about those impressions that are not the first? Are we obligated to constantly impress people we know?
After a while, personalities clashes, jokes goes flat, relationships fizzle. Is there a way to bounce back or should we impress people each time we see them? Not everyone gets along with everyone so stop pretending. Be yourself. Making good first impression means that you’re trying to “fit in”, but this will not work for a long run. At some point you will lose your identity & pretend to be someone you’re not. Someone said that first impressions count but last impressions are forever.
In today’s culture we place a lot of unnecessary pressure on impressing people. In reality, transformation of impressing someone happens long after introductions have been made. First impression is only a glimpse into what someone is like, not a final call who they really are. Impressions overall are meaningless. Don’t rush into a decision after just the first encounter. People are not easy to figure out & they go beyond the name they have been given. There are layers behind every persona & we need time to peal those layers. Time is an essential factor to get to know someone & determine who that person really is.
Don’t jump on a first impression wagon & think you got someone figured out. Because chances are you don’t. Just think how many relationships you’re missing out on because you made assumptions based off of observations. Practice getting to know people & do it for as long as you run out of time and energy. Give certain weight to the relationships you’re trying to develop & find ways to take them deeper. People will notice & you might make a difference in their life. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to stop judging.
“It takes a moment to judge someone, but a lifetime to understand them”.
“Do this or I’m gone!”, “Do this or you will regret it!”, “It’s either my way or highway”… Sounds familiar? Hearing such statements is not pretty. Saying it to someone is worse. There is a difference between an ultimatum and a choice, and the options in an ultimatum are not usually pleasant. It is common for partners to give ultimatums to each other. If you’re in the relationship that actually requires you to use manipulation as a tactic, it’s obvious you’re not in a good place. You’re either unfulfilled, have a need for a change or you’re simply not happy with yourself or your partner. It’s not a contest for power. Ultimatums seldom work. And if they don’t, intimidation often comes next. Ultimatum is another way of controlling the other person & intimidation hides an intention of harming people. Threats however, are another form of emotional blackmail. Instead of having partners be emotionally inspired, they react to a fear of being beat up or having their legs broken. Threat to leave someone for example is a classic manipulation & an attempt to inject the fear of abandonment.
It is important to have boundaries in any relationship as long as they don’t become a form of manipulation. By giving someone ultimatums, you are taking away their ability to make decisions & to be who they truly are. We all have our needs & desires and we are simply looking to our partners to help us fulfill them. It is never OK to live by “my way or highway”. Lay everything out so both parties can hear it & see if you have the same understanding about it. It doesn’t mean we have to like what we hear but the key is to listen, have a tolerance & open mind. Be honest about what you’re looking for but be careful how you communicate it. It’s not what you say but how you say it. You can tell anyone anything & it all depends on how you verbalize it. It’s a bad idea to approach your partner as you would approach a used car salesman.
Some might argue that ultimatums are simply laying out your non-negotiable demands & giving someone a choice to either accept it or not. If that is the case make sure the message you are trying to deliver is out of the need for fairness or to protect your best interests & not because you’re trying to control someone. In some cases ultimatums are given as a sign of “tough love” & are generally directed towards difficult children or partners. Instead of ultimatums, practice compromises. Find a true way to meet in the middle. Compromises can be tricky. Don’t cave into the decision because it’s easier. Healthy compromises benefit both parties. But be careful & don’t give up too much of what is important to you for sake of a relationship or friendship. Don’t lose the sense of who you are. Promote trust & accountability in your relationship. A compromise shows that you have a common happiness in mind, rather your own singular pleasure at heart.
“Never accept ultimatums, conventional wisdom or absolutes” – Christopher Reeve
Yet… Powerful 3 letter word that to me means hope. It’s a phenomenon of some sort that changes your attitude, your approach to things & gives you hope for learning and potential success on the end. Attach it on the end of negative thoughts that would otherwise end without ambition. You will immediately see the difference.
Add the phrase “yet” or better “not yet” to your daily vocabulary. Fully embrace the meaning and instead of answering question as “No”, answer it as “Not yet”. It completely changes your mindset and approach to knowledge. The use of “yet” shows that there is a learning curve, and points to the process, not the outcome.
“Not yet” is a resistance repellant. Once you hear yourself saying those words, you will automatically find an appetite for learning or mastering a particular skill. “Not yet” will be permanently chipped into your brain. Let this be your affirmation. If you struggle with an issue, can’t figure out the outcome or don’t have an answer- don’t think of it as a failure. Don’t close the door to learning by saying No. Instead, believe that you are “not yet” there and that you are on its way. You are on the path of mastering that skill or to perform that task. Your brain will translate this as a potential to improve & to grow your abilities. You would have to step into areas that are unfamiliar. Take risks that are new. But if you keep repeating “Not yet” until the finish line, you will be amazed how much easier it will be to get there. Take it as a faithful attempt in learning.
“You can’t knock on opportunity’s door and not be ready” – Bruno Mars
We’ve all been thru heartaches, depressions, unfulfilled aspirations & endlessly chasing dreams. The list can go on & on. Often I hear statements such as “That’s not what I wanted to do for a living”, “I regret not doing such & such”, “I wish I fulfilled my dream of (fill in the blank)”. My grandmother used to say that “worst things on the end of life are regrets”. I’m sure if you ask an elder or someone on their dead bed, they will share what they regret not doing. It only requires a little bit of effort, commitment & inspiration. Goals without diligence are useless.
Accomplishments don’t necessarily have to entail to promotion, productivity or profits. Sometimes the most fulfilling things we do in our lives bring very little recognition. Write down what your goals are or what you’d like to change or accomplish in your life. Specify time frame- if it’s now, within the year or long term. It is the list otherwise known as the “bucket list”. The same list that we carry with us most of our lives, reminding us of how much more we have to accomplish. It is important to write all of it down & place it somewhere where you can always see it. Don’t write things that scare you, but I do recommend confronting fear at least one time. Facing fear is essential for personal growth. Figure out what it is & come up with the way to confront it in a way that encourages you. Don’t be afraid of failure. The only thing worse than failure is not trying at all.
When the list is done put it somewhere. On the fridge, pin it to the wall, tape it to the TV…I don’t care where it is as long as you can always see it. It’s been proven that putting thoughts or ideas in writing contributes to its completion.
If you can’t come up with an inspiration, try desperation. Desperately try to find something major you’d like to change or something small to accomplish. Keep in mind, it’s not the size of an accomplishment but the accomplishment itself. The point is to get out & do something. As Nike would say, “Just Do It”! Shift to a determined, creative mindset. It’s been said that journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. So whether it’s a 1 mile run or preparing five course dinner- small wins & successes are better than no wins at all. Gain momentum by starting small. The smaller the goals- better the chance of its achievement. Try to find an inspiration in your rear view mirror. What life experiences or events from your past can help you move one step forward? What have you accomplished so far that can give you a jumpstart? Give it some thought. I’m sure you can come up with a list of examples. What if your life depended on it and in order to live you had to make one dream come true? I bet that it would get you going. All of the sudden you would find motivation or money to do it. You would immediately carve out time for whatever you need to complete. Absolutely. Frame your mind, have realistic dreams & I predict lots of successes. Despite of what Rolling Stones tell you, time is not on your side. The clock is ticking so no better time like the present.
“If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one” – Dolly Parton
Friendship is a sacred bond. Second only to romantic love. You might be stuck with your family & prioritize your spouse, but you enter friendships voluntarily. In today’s social media heavy society, people might get confused about the “friend” status. The virtual illusion makes us believe that every acquaintance or acquaintance of acquaintance who invites us to their circle is automatically our “friend”. Such process is destructive & younger generation struggle to make friends in reality. Truth is the process of finding friends hasn’t changed over the years. Just like trust, friendships develop over the years. And friends are not necessarily people you talk to every day. Weeks might go by without connecting, but when you finally do, feels as if no time has passed at all. It’s connections like this that can give you comfort even if you have been out of touch with people for a while.
Friends are usually the first people we run into when life takes an unexpected turn. It’s always good to have buddies & they are also very valuable. Buddy can make you laugh & it’s good to have someone to socialize with. I call it light & casual relationship. But when things get rough we generally reach out to our best friends. Best friends are the ones who we can trade secrets with. They give us hope & support in most difficult situations. Best friend is someone who will love you no matter what. Relationships like these will survive even if everyday life gets in the way.
We need to make effort in our busy lives to always connect face to face with friends. We need to replace screen time with face time. I encourage you to find a friend who will uplift your soul & is full of life. Someone who is excited along with you when new ideas are born & wants to see you through. So log out of social networks & surround yourself with real people. Real people who will encourage you to step away from social platforms & will join you in creating precious memories. Because the time you spend together is priceless. You might not see each other again. When you struggle with the many obstacles life will throw at you, know that you are not alone. Remember people in your life and actively reach out to them. They will always be in your corner. The investment you make with friends will pay dividends for years & years. It will enrich both of your lives. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.
“Because of you, I laugh a little harder, cry a little less, and smile a lot more.”
You know that I’m a big proponent of working hard, which sometimes translates to work more, never stop learning & continue to accomplish more in life. However life is not all about racking up lists of accomplishments & goals. If this is your one & only way of validating self worth- you might get discouraged & burn out very quickly. The tail will end up wagging the dog. The time passes by in a speed of light, as we jump from one item in our list to the next. The common philosophy is that if you don’t move forward, you stand still or move backwards. Instead of swallowing one project after another and keep extending your to do list, reverse your process once in a while and find a shortcut of how to do less. More is, well, not always more. I’ve read somewhere that overachieving is the enemy of productivity & happiness. What if getting more done isn’t by addition, but subtraction?
We all need breaks. Walk away from your work, your to-do list & your calendar. Leave this time for absolutely nothing. Allow yourself to waste time & just hang out. Go for a walk or run & literally only walk or run. With no music in your ears. Don’t think about anything. Don’t even be mindful (that’s more thinking). Let your mind just wonder off & see where it takes you. Do you need a break from seeing people? Go for it! Time alone will clear your head. Ditch unnecessary meetings. Delegate some of your workload if you absolutely must but always check on progress & don’t lose the pulse. Slow down & make more time for yourself. Use your time more meaningfully & productively so you have time for things that give you joy. Celebrate by doing less that day. It’s not about doing less physically, but working differently. Consider what else you might stop doing. Remove unnecessary busy work in lieu of doing what really matters. Have habits & routines in your life. When you have a “system”, doing things efficiently is never a question. It also eliminates meaningless decisions & will make you more productive.
To conclude, I’d like to share an exercise that I came across once. First, identify a specific goal or an area of your work that you’d like to improve. Then, take a piece of paper and divide it in half. On the left-hand side, make a list of all of your daily tasks, and on the right-hand side, make a list of your biggest “wins” — the work milestones you’re most proud of. Draw a line connecting each of your wins to related daily tasks, and circle those tasks. Finally, step back and look at what’s left uncircled on your list. These are the tasks that you should either stop doing, significantly minimize, or delegate to others. Abandoning work that isn’t helping you meet your goals will give you more time to focus on the work that is. I hope this helps you do more by doing less.
“Improved productivity means less human sweat, not more” – Henry Ford