Our society, quite literally, prides itself on confidence. Our heroes and role models teem with it; the celebrities, Grammy-winning musicians, and sports superstars so many of us seem to idolize (and are taught to at a young age) overflow with a bounty of this particular character trait. As kids and into adulthood, we’re taught to hold our heads high, speak up, look others in the eyes, believe in ourselves, be proud, be confident, be bold. Like most, I faced my fair share of challenges in pursuit of such confidence as I labored awkwardly through adolescence, early adulthood, and the years beyond. Getting confident in one’s self isn’t easy and yet, along the way, I never doubted that doing so was important, if not essential.
There’s a lot of talk on the internet about success, how you can do anything you set your mind to if you just believe in yourself and follow a certain set of tips or guidelines, buy a particular book, or register for a this or that class or workshop. We’re in the throes of a “YOU CAN DO IT!” era, for sure, which isn’t necessarily such a bad thing. It’s just that every online street corner seems anchored by someone hocking their personal brand of success steroids (guilty as charged). Success, success, success. Somehow it all leaves me feeling like failure is getting more than a bit short-changed, like it’s the ugly step-sibling, locked in the cellar while success gets all the accolades and attention. Read more
I’m not sure I’ve ever made a new year’s resolution that I’ve kept. After many attempts at the endeavor throughout my younger years, I eventually decided that the whole thing just wasn’t for me. But this year something happened. I accidentally made one, kinda.
So, yes, I officially turned 45 years old today. 45 years! What does this even mean? How does thinking about it effect me? Does it cause me to re-evaluate my life? Or mourn the passing of my youth and youthful vigor? Does it conjure a slew of thoughts about my own mortality? After all, birthdays effect everyone differently and, no matter how we approach these milestones of time’s annual passing, different birthdays carry different types of meaning with them. Turning 10 for instance, then 13, 16, 18, 21, 30, 40… all unique experiences. Turning 45, what did I really think about this? Well, this morning I got my answer, courtesy of a thought I didn’t remotely expect to have.
I meet with a lot of people who say things like, “Oh, I’ve tried meditation before but I’m just not good at it.” When asked to explain, the most common answer is, “I just can’t make my mind get quiet.” I’ve heard responses like this so often that I’ve come to realize that this is the single greatest misunderstanding about meditation. In truth, meditation is not about calming our mind or achieving a state free from mental noise and cognitive clutter. Far from it, actually.
I remember attending a lecture by the Tibetan monk Sogyam Rimpoche, author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, in which, smiling all the while, he confessed, “So many people, they say, ‘I’m not afraid of death.’I tell you, they’re lying! Death? Very scary. Me? I’m very scared of death.” And I thought to myself, “Phew, if he’s scared, then it’s certainly okay that I’m scared too.”
Life is full of choices. Some choices may take months or years to decide, others are so seemingly inconsequential that we may not even notice ourselves making them. The question is, why do we make the choices that we make? What motivates us to choose this over that from one moment to the next? How can we make sure that our choices serve us, not just for right now, but over the long haul? These are essential questions to answer if we want to cultivate mastery over our lives.
Sleep is one of the primary contributors to physical wellness. Having just survived two years of having infants in our bedroom, my wife and I know this all too well. When either of us don’t get enough sleep, we inevitably grow more testy and irritable. Of course, being awakened by hungry babies is not the same as having insomnia, but the point remains: sleep matters. It matters so much so that, whenever a client complains about having insomnia, I never fail to share my secret remedy which (by the way) has never failed for me personally. I’ve used it hundreds of times with flawless results.
The human mind can be easily deceived sometimes. In its perennial effort to accurately interpret our world, it is unfortunately prone to making some serious mistakes. This is exceedingly evident in the case of optical illusions, were the mind is tricked into believing something is true that, in fact, is false. The image below, for instance, is completely static and unmoving, made by colors and patterns fixed in space. Is this what you see?
My sons are one- and two-years-old right now and, wow, this alone is enough to find me feeling overwhelmed sometimes. Add to this the fact that I also want to spend quality time with my wife, keep creating articles like this one, meet with 20-30 counseling clients per week, oversee the insurance billing for my counseling center, give workshops and public talks, supervise two student therapists, interview and hire new counselors, and keep pace with an ever-growing mountain of reading and writing assignments for my PhD program, and it’s a small miracle that I’m able to keep my head screwed on straight from one day to the next. Luckily, I’ve discovered a trick that works wonders to help me handle it all.