Nov 252012
 

Hi! Allow me to get right to the chase: You’re in control of your own thoughts!

If you don’t feel like you are, you can be. You should get on that shit. It’s a process, something you become increasingly good at with training. That it might take some effort at first, but…That shouldn’t stop you.

Because the premise you can’t govern what goes on in your own damn head is weird and wrong on so many levels. For the most important argument, you need to see that it’s your own fucking head we’re talking about. If you can’t do it, nobody can. Then it’s basically just going to be a big wheel of crazy attached to your neck for life. It will always spin out of control unless you take control. Plus, if you have chosen to think your thoughts cannot be ruled, you have chosen a defeated point of view that allows you to never even try. There is nothing to gain there.

I have always believed I’m in charge of what goes on in my head. That’s why I started exercising this authority* over time by deciding on the things I wanted to think about. And the more I trained, the easier this became (Pro tip: This is the case for anything in life).

The things we spend most of our time thinking about will shape our lives in a few different ways.

1. We identify with our thoughts. We identify with the behavior that come from our thoughts.

If I think a lot about writing and consequently write, it shapes my identity into that of a writer. If I think a lot about unhealthy food, I will consequently eat more of it and ultimately think of myself as an overeater.

The things we think and do, we eventually internalize. We make it a part of our personality. So if you think about it (get it? because we’re talking about thoughts?) we should really pay attention to our thoughts as they end up in the big pile of stuff that makes us who we are. That’s why it pays to think positively about yourself and to focus on the good things that you do: It shapes who you are.

2. We will see what we think about reflected in our lives.

Whether it’s because we prime ourselves and it’s just an attentional thing or because the Universe slides it towards us in a ‘here you go it matches our vibration’ type of way, what we think about comes into focus and into play. If I focus on the people I find annoying, their role in my life will grow and I will find more things to get annoyed over. If I focus on the people that I love, love will become more important in my life and I will find more things to love.

3. The way you think will make you feel a certain way. 

You can pick up your emotions by training yourself to think good and positive. Try it now: Think of three things that happened this week that were awesome. You’re bound to feel that, maybe even accidentally smile a bit. You basically feel yourself cheering up.

Yu can make yourself miserable. If I’m going to focus on the shitty weather, or my hip that hurts, or my procrastination, I feel my emotions going down in response to my thoughts. I start feeling lousier. This does not help me.

Your emotions will play a crucial part in your day-to-day life and how things will turn out, and you can help them by thinking a certain way.

(cool art, to be found at this webshop!)

Now for anyone who hasn’t had that much practice or is just getting started (or wants a refresher course!) I jotted down a few basic things to get in that pretty head of yours:

  • Start like you’re stupid. At first, use short, general sentences and catch phrases to have bouncing in your head for a while. They work great. I know it sounds silly but they are easy to remember, easy to repeat and can completely change the general tone in your head! Some easy ones are “I expect miracles”, “I’m positive and happy”, “I make my life ridiculously amazing” and “I’m awesome.”
  • An obstacle people encounter is their rationale going “…but I can’t control everything with my thoughts! How do I do this!” and the panic/helplessness that can ensue from that. Relax, and adopt the following “I may not be able to control everything, but I can still work with my thoughts” or “I have no control over other people/that situation, but I am in control of my own thoughts.” I don’t focus on the things I can’t control, I work around them with the things that I do control. 
  • Think about what you want. Make it a habit to focus on the goals, hopes, dreams, wishes and what not. Not even going my usual Universe preachy road, by doing this you keep your eyes and thoughts on the correct things.
  • When you find yourself worrying or obsessing about something negative, snap yourself out of it. Direct your own attention to something positive. This is weird at first, but it will become a second nature too. Now when I find myself coming back to the same issue I just go “Have I gotten the important lesson out of this? Have I given it enough of my emotional and cognitive attention?” If the answer is yes, beating myself up over something is not going to add anything new to the situation. So I take a breath, go do something else and focus on something pleasant.
(Think of these little Pacman ghostsies as thoughts. If you could pick a few thoughts, what would they be? And now, start thinking them.)

The most important thing here though is that you learn that you can guide your mind and thoughts. You are not powerless. You are in control over your head, and the more you practice the easier this becomes. You can totally sculpt and shape what’s happening in your own head. It’s basically Thought Play Doh. Go clay.

*I love me some authoritay.

Oct 182012
 

There are some things you just won’t read in self help book, things you won’t know until you find out for yourself…Or you know, until a random self help blogger finds out and runs to the Internetz to tell you.

I believe this is one thing that can really help your life beyond anything else. It will make it easier to go exercise. It will make it harder for you to procrastinate. You will get more done. It benefits your work, your household and even your relationships. It will even boost your mood altogether.

By now I probably got you on the edge of your seat (or not, maybe I’m the only one who’s easily excited), but it’s a very general, and maybe even deceivingly simple thing: Go from a passive mindset to an active one.

See, I can observe this in my own life and have come to the conclusion this is a main, underlying cause of either my struggles and frustrations or my victories and happiness. I am very familiar with both ends of the spectrum.

My passive lifestyle consists of sleeping in (8:45, but still – it’s late for me), watching endless television shows, not working out, and putting off anything of significance until the very last minute. I often feel lethargic, unmotivated and lazy, which also makes me terribly cranky and frustrated. Doesn’t help. I just occasionally spiral downwards in it, though. Sometimes it only lasts for a couple of days, but I’ve also had this problem for weeks (and longer in my teens).

My active lifestyle is very different. I get up early, often to work out first thing and then have a busy day. I have a clear overview of what I want to do, I make to do lists. Very importantly, I move a lot from place to place (work, family, yoga studio, groceries, social appointments, extra gig) and I also take a lot of action myself (calling people, emailing people, going places, pursuing things). I’m on the go a lot, which somewhat forces me to use my time optimally. The more I do, the happier I am, the more productive I become. I know when to take a break and I take great care of myself and my life.

And the thing that makes the difference, the very basic general thing is setting my mind to active instead of passive, and then acting on it.

My mindset in Active Mode is when I think in opportunities, useable time frames and solutions. I decide to combine yoga with a trip to the grocery store, that I can write an article while I’m in public transit for an hour and I decide I’m going to fix an administrative order by making a phonecall.

My behavior in Active Mode is getting up a little earlier than I have to, moving from place to place a lot, writing down everything I no longer assume to remember, and actively seeking out people and opportunities.

I observed my own days: Happy and productive when doing a lot, annoyed and ineffective when being lazy. And I decided that I can consciously flip the switch whenever I want. Knowledge is power and because I know what ultimately is best for my well-being and my mood, it’s easier and more interesting to access that side of me!

I also suddenly remembered that it’s actually a very influential way to help people out of their depression: Reinstate activity again, as depressed people become more passive (and it’s easier for passive people to become depressed). I encourage you to give it a try. Switch from a general sense of passivity to activity. Try to think like an active person and behave this way, it’s a powerful behavioral strategy.

It may seem like a no-brainer but it’s crazy how easy it is to overlook the obvious when it comes to self help. Sometimes we get lost in complex strategies when you can solve a lot with something basic like this. I wonder if it is as helpful to you as it is to me; I’ve been applying it a lot this week and it really helps. Let me know in the comments if you give it a shot!

Oct 022012
 
This list is a sneak-peek of what kind of material Self Help Course Level 1 entailed: I mostly send out longer text-material on Mondays and provide fun lists & exercises to entertain my students with over the weekend. I couldn’t resist sharing this little Self Help Suggestions with you that my students got the second week: It was a favorite. I don’t know when I will be doing a Self Help Course again, but consider this a peek into my cabinet of tricks. It’s one big ass cabinet.
  • Make a list of things you’ve been putting off for as long as you can remember (the type of things that start bugging you when you’re in bed and should go to sleep, you know?).  Take a first step to cross then off your list. Hell, take two.
  •  Pick your favorite self help book and do the first exercise that’s provided in the book. Pretend the author is patting your shoulder and giving you notes.
  • Think about things you want on your resume. A certain language, hobby, internship, committee? Take an active step to make that more of a reality! Sign up for a course, send an e-mail to Human Resources of that company, write the sorority , call the club to see if you can come try out. Babysteps, remember?
  • Have a talk with a close friend about things you want to improve in your life. Confide in each other. Help eachother out. Share experiences and tips. Leave all inspired and excited. Inquire in each other’s progress every once in a while.
  • On your days off from school or work, still get up on a reasonable hour, shower, dress up and make yourself look nice and pretty. It will set a good tone and you’ll be more action-oriented, productive and positive.
  • Make a friendly bet with your boyfriend, roommate or a competitive brother or sister. Who can run the most kilometers this month? Who can crank out the most words for your book, blog or thesis? Who can make the most hours to study? Make it fun and hang a progress chart in shared space so you can keep score easily! Treat eachother to dinner or a gift by the end of the bet!
  • Set a timer and do something for 30 minutes, 45 minutes of 60 minutes, no interruptions. Whether it’s cleaning your room, writing, making a study schedule or even just relaxing, train yourself to focus on one thing only for a certain period of time. Bonus point if you can build up to longer interrupted times.
  • Try working out in the morning. Sets a great tone for the rest of the day too; you’ve already taken care of your health so you’ll feel awesome and feeling awesome inspires more awesome actions!
  • Start a 30-Day Trial!
  • Look on your favorite self-help website or browse through your favorite self-help book and underline/write down the things applicable to your life. We need to learn to read this stuff while keeping our own lives in mind. That way we bridge the gap from knowing to doing.
  • Try ‘Stuffing A Day’. Have one day a week/a month that you stuff with all this life improving stuff. On a ‘Stuffed Day’ you go to the market for fresh fruits, you go to a yoga class, study for two hours, see your most inspiring friend and have a language course at night. This way you can feel really great about that day and it will also inspire you to do more of these good things during the week!
  • No Internet or Television for a day. Your productivity will soar, but it’s not always easy. Good luck. ;-)
  • Create your ideal week schedule, but don’t overdose yourself with new habits; choose one. Now, slow and steady implement it in your routines. See where you end up.

I’m still sick unfortunately, fever turned into a mean stomach bug that has me in bed and watching more Glee than is good for a person. I now honestly don’t understand why Manfred doesn’t do a choreographed ballad when he comes home from work. Hope you guys are good and that I can write from an upright position anytime soon!

Aug 272012
 

Another language can be tricky to learn and tiring to keep up. But it’s worth it! In fact, being a bi- (or tri- or quadruple) lingual is not only neat and handy in other countries, it’s also really good for your brain. There are quite some cognitive advantages to being (moderately) okay  in different languages.

But when you snooze, you lose your language just as much as you would lose any other skill you stop training. Luckily, you don’t have to spend your entire day working on your French, English, German, Klingon or Cantonese: some simple ways to keep it up work well enough and they will make you even better. I want to share some tips with you that will amp up your English, Italian, Turkish or Mandarin. Whatevs.

1. Read, dammit. Everything. Anything (but feel free to put down poorly written drivel the moment you realize it’s poorly written drivel). When you encounter a word you don’t know, look it up if you can’t get its meaning out of context. And ‘sort of’ knowing where you can’t explain it doesn’t count.

2. Watch TV without subtitles. Frustrating at first (especially in French or Spanish with the tongue-knotting speed of the language). But once you have heard it for a little while, your brain catches up and it clicks. You’ll start learning and recognizing words in no time.

3. Get acquainted with the beauty of a language. Personally, when I read I underline and jot down not only words I don’t know but also yummy writer-party-in-my-pants phrases. Things like “Septieme Ciel” (7th Heaven), “Screwing Someone Until Your Thighs Ache”, “in need of more personal space than a herd of American bison”.  To this day, English is this big gorgeous pool of words I get to splash in daily and I love it, I have fun with it. I play with it every single day.

4. Make sentences with the new words yourself. The main way I usually do this now is by implementing them in my own writing. What I used to do was write poetry and work with the words I had just learnt. This way you become familiar with them and you learn to use them. They become yours.

5. Speak it. Read aloud.To yourself, a drunk friend who doesn’t mind, your foreign friend or family member. Talk to exchange students. Let that tongue struggle a little bit with the foreign language. A little vocal training here and there will make you better than you ever thought you could be.

Aug 242012
 

At home, I have a juicer, a blender and a greenly accessorized fridge. On the road and while camping I have a miniature cooler, freaky gas station or local supermarket food and maybe a knife if I can find it in the trunk of the car. Maybe.

Needless to say maintaining my usual healthy diet is downright impossible and any type of healthy diet is somewhat of a challenge. But hey, you gotta make due. Impossible is nothing and all that. But Croatia was probably the most challenging country in terms of healthy food available: I’ve never had more disappointing trips to the supermarket in my life. But here’s how I personally handled maintaining semi-healthy habits in terms of food while on the road or on a campsite. Cheers.

B.Y.O. Healthy Stuff. Be smart about it though: Don’t bring things that spoil easily or that will melt in their package when you leave it in the car in the scorching heat. Go for things like apples, prepacked healthy crackers, dried berries and fruits, almonds and other type of nuts and maybe some (NOT HOMEMADE) raw chocolate bars. Trust me on the last one. Tragic incidents.

Easy Alkaline Trick. One easy healthy thing to keep doing while on vacation is bring/buy a couple of lemons there and put lemon juice in your bottles of water. If you’re in a hot country you’ll be drinking lots of water anyway and by adding lemon juice you will not only have a more flavorful drink, you’ll also bring up the alkalinity of your body.

Work with what’s local. This is going to differ per country but in Croatia the only tolerable fruits were bananas and grapes: so I had those. A LOT.

I’m not really a Grape Person but after a few days of 1-day old bread (we bought it like this in the shitty supermarket), I gladly had a bunch of grapes for breakfast. The moment we arrived at our campsite in Italy I dove into the supermarket and bought baby tomatoes, rocket, bell peppers and made myself an enormous salad for lunch. Bliss.

Have a side salad. More often than not I would look at that sad little pile of lettuce with three slices of tomato or cucumber and say ‘fuck that’.After being in Croatia where the side salad was my only possibility of eating vegetables, I did. It’s not great and doesn’t beat any salad you make yourself, but it’s something.

Try not to freak out over the stuff you eat. Instead try to really enjoy it! Every Magnum Almond I had was like a little party in my mouth. I could look at it rationally enough too: I knew I wouldn’t gain a gamillion pounds overnight. It’s habits that decide our weight gain. Whenever you feel a little gross because of the shit you eat go for a swim, run or do some stretches or exercises. It’s mostly mental, but it will make you feel better.

The good news: After a while what you eat there will only increase your healthy food cravings. When you get home any salad, juice or smoothie will feel like an even better party in your mouth. There is a lot of mouth-partying going on in my house right now, let me tell you. Okay, that came out wrong but you know what I mean.

Aug 212012
 

Sometimes when you work with the Law of Attraction you can do everything right and it still won’t work. You visualize until your mind’s eye starts spinning, construct the perfect phrasings and convey the right emotions like you’re working in a chemical lab: It still doesn’t quite catch. This type of thing is exactly why the critics think they’re dealing with a bunch of hooey. But actually, what we’re dealing with is just a small obstacle in manifesting: you have made what you’ve asked for too far-fetched to swallow.

Whereas I usually think realism is an ugly term pessimists use to justify their whining, sometimes in order to succeed you have to infuse your manifesting with a healthy dose of reality. The more true something is to you, the easier you will pull it into your life.

Example time: When I was 16, I wanted to manifest 12 million euros. I had read you should set ridiculously big goals and so I did. But as I’m not using a platinum MacBook Rich with diamond letters while smelling like Nouveau Riche, you can assess the 12 million never came my way.

Here’s the thing: I was 16. I was happy enough with my mail girl salary. What the hell did I know. How on earth could I wrap my head around such exorbitant amounts of money? Or manifesting it? Or what I would do to get it? Or what I would do with it once I had it, except buy a unicorn. I had no idea what it would be like to have that much money (still don’t) nor did I really believe I could pull that off with the Law of Attraction (I do now, but that’s a story for another time).

Do I still want to manifest 12 million? Sure. But let’s start with the next 12 euros first. Then 120, 1200, 12000 and see how that turns out. It works to work your way up. I believe this is a gazillion times more effective than writing a check for an amount of money that’s more than you can possibly imagine.

I don’t think I can write it down, ask real hard, and have the cash roll in before lunch. What I do believe, if I start attracting things I know I can manifest (smaller amounts of money), it will work. Because I’ve had that kind of money before, I believe I can get/manifest it based on earlier experience and belief. It’s not far-fetched, it could work. But you can’t go from 12 euros to 12 million euros. Let’s work up. Here’s how.

1. Most of all, manifest within (or only just outside) the realms of what you feel can be reali. Attract what you already believe is possible and work your way up. So like for me, manifesting 12 million is a little too much. But how realistic is it to manifest a bonus, or to double your income this month/year? Realistic enough, people do it all the time. So you can’t believe yet you could be a size two, but how about a gorgeous size eight? You don’t believe you can manifest a happy, healthy relationship? Well, why not start with a fun date? Or a friend?

2. The moment you notice you’re becoming sceptical, you can actively tell yourself to shut up by affirmations. “Even though it doesn’t feel like a possibility now, it will be one for me eventually.”, “Even though I still sometimes can’t believe it, I trust myself/the Universe.” and “I don’t need to know how or when, I just need to know that.”

3. Manifest your way up. If you want to manifest a healthy, thin body, start out by manifesting some small weight loss victory, some weight loss opportunities (finding a fun sport, a work-out buddy, a healthy dish you like). If you don’t believe you can be wealthy, try to manifest some extra cash through whatever channel and work your way up. You can start at flirting opportunities to dates to relationships. From the first few lost pounds to skinny jeans to toned thin arms. Slow and steady! As you do this, more becomes possible for you until you nor your subconscious worries about whether or not something can or cannot be.

4. Add more realism. This is a tip I once read in a Steve Pavlina article or book: He explains you can add the realistic elements of whatever it is you want to have that are sometimes inconvenient or a downright pain in the ass.

Like figuring out taxes, hiring accountants and having to say ‘no’ to vultures, when you’re rich. Or fighting when you’re in a relationship, having to make compromises or occasionally being annoyed (or annoying). Or getting up really early to exercise, prepare healthy food or saying ‘no’ to a binge-drinking partyfest when you want to be healthy. This way the picture is colored in extra ways that might make it easier for you to really feel it is as it would be in reality.

What it comes down to, is that you have to teach yourself (and your subconscious) to believe things are possible and can become real. The easiest way to do this is through experience!

By manifesting ‘easy’, realistic things first, you start stretching the limits of what you deem possible and what you consider within your reach. Always work up. Before you know it you’re manifesting shit you considered impossible a few years before. Who knows, you might manifest that crazy-ass 12 million of mine.

Aug 012012
 

Oh Internetz, how I love you. So much inspirational material available, countless hilarious Internet memes and all these awesome people only a click away. I love it. The Internet is in my top 5 Abstract Concepts I Would Marry List*. But let’s face it: Too much Badluck Brians and brainless Youtube videos isn’t good for a person.

We spend shitloads of time on stupid websites while we could be doing other stuff. We all know checking your e-mail every 5 minutes is neither effective nor productive. We basically overstimulate our brain with a load of crap (which makes our brain less useful later in the day) as well as procrastinate on more important things as well as miss out on a lot of other way more fun, creative and awesome things we could be doing in our free time.

And I’m the worst addict when it comes to the Interwebz, so I really have to make it easy for myself to not be on the Internet. Here are some easy ways to start taking down your Web-Time and start having some more Real Life Time (I’ve heard it’s really fun, you guys).

Turn off your computer when you’re not using it. My poor MacBook is always on. I am surprised it hadn’t become a fire hazard yet. I’d like to keep it that way, so now I (try to) turn it off when I have no legitimate reason to use it. And watching a Jenna Marbles marathon is not a legimitate reason. At least not twice in the same week. 

Write down what you want/need to do on-line before you do it. When I know I only need to check my e-mail, find the route to this new restaurant and cry over my bank account balance, I can be on- and off-line rather quickly. Even if I want to read through my bloglovin’ feed I can do most of that in an hour. When I have a list of things I want to do next to me, it’s easy just to cross it off and not to wander in the Labyrinth of WiFi I accidentally create for yourself. So make a list: What are you really on the Internet for? Some blogs? Some fashion inspiration? Finding a good recipe. Make a list, go on-line, do your business, go off-line. Like using the computer once was intended.

Limit your browsing time. Set an egg-timer for 30 minutes. You can go nuts on 9gag and Tumblr in those 30 minutes but after that it’s back into the real world with your cute little butt, okay? Plus, there’s only so many memes you can see before you stop laughing. Trust me.

Browser Nannies. I use Safari and there is no Safari Nanny yet, but Google Chrome & Firefox have Nannies: These are basically apps you can add to your browser who block or limit time on websites of choice (Facebook. Gmail, Twitter) and who lock the entire Internet for you after the hours you set to have per day. I’ve heard people made great strides in terms of less Internet with this, and I like the posh British sound of having an Internet Nanny.

 

Make it less visible. Remove Safari, Mail & Twitter from your dock. Remove the shortcuts from your desktop. This way you won’t be visually reminded (at least not after a while, for the first week you’ll probably hallucinate them there) and the more effort you have to put into starting up your browser, Tweetdeck and e-mail, the less likely you’ll do it in your moments of hurry and deadlines.

Declare Internet free hours or days. Shut off your wireless network or router if you have to. Have your house or workplace be Internet-free from 9 to 11 or from 1 to 3. This way you can not be distracted. You’ll be amazed how productive you can become in those hours; when I go to Internet-free coffee places I get the most work done, no joke. This is also addictive: you’ll soon be craving them!

Literally step away from the electronics. I have the worst habit: I check everything the moment I wake up. I often attach a few Tumblr-browse minutes to that morning-routine as well, which is also quite stupid considering I have more important things to do with my morning time (getting ready for various things). Which is why I now leave my iPad and MacBook in the living room when I go to bed, just taking my phone because it’s my alarm clock. For now it’s just delay, but at least it’s progress. I strive to not touch any electronics until after breakfast at one point.

Get Internet on your phone. This is not my own tip, but I’ve seen this in boyfriend & friends: Once you have a phone to look up minor things such as movie times, important e-mails and routes, you’ll be less likely to start up your computer and be lost there for hours. Slight risk is your face being constantly buried in your phone, but that’s something you have to find out for yourself.

Things that also help is getting a hobby that does not involve the computer, such as reading, dancing, running, cooking and -you guessed it- hooping, or meditation instead of clubbing your brain to death with LOLcatz. Speaking of…Maybe we should just all get ourselves some Internet Monitoring Cats. That might work too.


*Writing, Internet, Bikram Yoga, Teaching and Coffee. Yes, still.

Jul 152012
 

A co-worker calls us sloppy, a superior has some points of improvements, a friend doesn’t appreciate a certain comment or action. Some dick on the Internet thrashes you because there was nothing good on TV. Whereas this is hardly a Dramatic Life Event, we can take this shit really hard. We obsess about it. We don’t let it go. It makes us question ourselves and who we are. Before you know it, we start fetal rocking and eating icecream straight out of the carton.

While criticism in itself is harmless: It’s just a person who tells us what they think we’re doing wrong.

But what we do with is what causes us trouble: We make a lot of that stuff personal. And here’s some questions you can ask yourself, and some truths that can help you deal with the ugly sides of the shit that’s posed as criticism.

  • Question Time: Who is it coming from? Is it someone who knows what they’re talking about? Is it someone whose opinion you value? Is it someone who’s opinion should matter to you?

When my father tells me I did something stupid, I know that I legitimately pulled a stunt from the Douchebag Department. When it’s a random guy on the street who’s either drunk or homeless (or both), I will probably raise my eyebrows quizzically and then move on with my life.

Really look at who is telling you something and it should matter. Supervisor? Sure. Deli-guy? Not really (but pretend to be interested or he might spit on your sandwich). Experienced teacher? Absolutely. Snotty peer with insecuity issues? Hell no. Valued reader? Yes. Internet Idiot? Fuck no.

  • Question Time:Is it true? Do you think there is any merit in what someone is saying to you?

Not all criticism is created equal. You can (without immediately basing your entire self-esteem on the answer) ask yourself whether you agree with the statement or not. Your opinion matters in this too, you know! You don’t have to change yourself at the whim of every person that comes along; if you do, you’ll be in the Crazy Institute before long.

A few years back when I was doing my Psych internship, one of my supervisors told me (in rather rough terms) I was terrible in writing patient profiles: I added too much irrelevant information, I left out the important stuff and it was disorganized and inconclusive. I disliked the fact he said it (and how he put it), but I did agree.

  • Question Time: Is it something you can improve, should you want to?

Again, your choice. If you think that which was said to you was valid and it is something you can work on, you can choose to do so. If a reader tells you about your spelling errors, you might refresh your rules. If a date tells you you eat like a barbarian, it might be time to re-evaluate the advantages of using your hands instead of knife and fork and you know, start eating like a real human again.

When a student tells me I have been too strict with them, I ask myself if I agree before I say anything else. If I think that I have come down on them a little tough, I agree, apologize and choose my words more carefully next time. But if I don’t agree (because I run a pretty tight ship ;-) ) I just explain about how I like to teach and ask if they have any other specific suggestions for me.

  • Truth Time: If it is about a particular situation, it only says something about you in that particular situation.

Doing something wrong in whatever area of your life does not automatically put a stamp on saying “FAILURE IN THIS AREA”. You can do something stupid at work and still be a good employee. You may have said something stupid to your BFF, but you can still be a wonderful friend. Snapping once at your kid (because he’s being a brat in the supermarket) does not make you a horrible mother.

  •  Truth Time: It is about a particular skill/trait/situation/action, not about your entire being. 

I come with big news: It’s okay to not be brilliant in every area of life. Doing one thing wrong every once in a while does not make you a shit person

So, you are a little socially awkward. Or you can’t deal with angry customers. Or you said something stupid in a meeting at work. Well, you know what? I suck at math, organizing, cleaning, administration — and I once met a kickbox-legend and I didn’t know who he was and made the lamest joke in history.

It’s okay. One bad habit does not make you a weakling. One stupid remark does not equal being a dumbass. It just means you made a mistake, and that you’re not perfect (GASP). Newsflash: Perfect is bullshit, and boring.

  • Truth Time: Dismiss any criticism that’s targeted at you as a person or that is clearly meant to hurt your feelings.

You can immediately disregard any critic that tells you that you’re a horrible person: that’s not criticism, that’s trash talk. You don’t have to waste your time trying to convince them of the contrary, and besides: People who have decided to dislike you are going to dislike you no matter what you do, they will find reasons to do so in everything you do.

So please. Go forth in the world with a sense of that it’s okay to make a mistake here and there. That it’s fine to have an area in which you are not as amazing as you might be in others and that most things can be either accepted, fixed or improved. Lighten up. Think of all the things you did right. Bet there’s plenty. Enjoy them.

Jun 292012
 

I love to write. As Gloria Steinem says in this article: “Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” I feel like that. One day, I hope to have someone bring me food and occasionally brush my hair so I can write as interruptedly throughout the entire day as possible. But writing, as another writer so beautifully put it is really “sitting in front of a blank page until drops of blood form on your forehead.” Sometimes, getting the words out is freaking hard and sometimes you get stuck.

Over the former 10 of trying to write fiction* (only to find out I have no knack for it!), the past 6 years of blogging in English, and the last year of trying to write non-fiction, this is what I found out about writing and how to make it easier for yourself. 

  • Writing is rewriting. No text drops out of your head from your fingers onto the page in its most excellent state. I re-edit my posts at least 4 times: spelling, weird sentences, off tone, less jokes, more jokes, less adjectives (you never add more. You hear that, Stephenie Meyer?). 
  • If you don’t write down what you already have stuck in your head and just leave it in there for too long, it will never come out as brilliantly as you had it at first. Write it down. Now. Whether you use it now or later, write it down. That way it can’t rot in your head. 
  • Writer’s Block? I visualize/meditate on having access to the Universal Database, where every excellent idea ever and all good material comes from. Then I go do something mindless like exercise or cleaning and ideas usually start to pop up. 
  • Did I mention that when you don’t write down what you already have in your head, you won’t have any room for new ideas? Write everything down. Now. 
  • Turn off the Internet. For Fuck’s sake, turn off the Internet. Do you have any idea how many writers get lost procrastinating on the Internet forever? Turn it off. Write for a few hours, and then go dick around on Tumblr or 9Gag. 
  • Pay attention to what people love about your writing: Not because the reader rules the writer, but because information is power. But pay attention to what readers love about your writing: It is loved for a reason. That information can guide you towards the golden tone, your most passionate subjects and a style that’s most you.  
  • DON’T pay attention to those who steal your work. Whenever I see my old content pop up on someone else’s website, it’s either one of two things: One, someone genuinely likes my stuff, credits me and gives a lovely, unique personal touch on it. That’s great. I love it when that happens. But I do not love it when someone pretend they’ve come up with it themselves without so much as a hiccup they know I exist. Repeatedly. Took me a while to let go of my indignation but now I am relatively relaxed about it. People who can’t come up with their own original content really aren’t worth the frustration. 
  • Write as much as you can and use different materials. Anytime, anywhere. Always carry something to write on. Switch up your paper notebook with your phone, tablet, laptop, old college notebook, napkins even. Write on anything and everything at all times: It keeps your head limber and switching it up will generate new ideas.
  • Accept the wonderful truth that what goes for anything in life (but especially for writing): If you keep doing it, preferably daily, you’re going to get better and better and better
My favorite writing quotes of all time are “If there’s a book you’d like to read that hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it” by Toni Morrison and of course “You must stay so drunk on writing so that reality cannot destroy you.” by Ray Bradbury. I try to live my life by those. Do you?  

*Project for in another 10 years when I’ve become less of a young romantic wuss. I am terrible at killing my darlings, I just want them to live happily ever after in meadows and shit. Maybe one day! 
Jun 182012
 

Start Fresh. Just because you did it a certain way before doesn’t mean you have to do it that way today too. Not to get all Hallmark on you, but today really could be a day where you do thing totally differently. How does today feel to you? Do you want to go hardcore with a killer work-out, hours of disciplined work and a supersized salad for dinner? Or is it more a day for a spontaneous adventure, for some relaxing, for a spiritual experience or spending time with loved ones?  What’s your mantra today? How do you want to feel? What do you want to do, be, see, taste, experience? Today has never happened before, so treat it like a new experience. Because it is! 

Start with a purpose.  When you wake up with something that you really want to do today, the day is instantly vibed up with purpose and calling. Which is awesome. So when you wake up, think of something you really want to do today, something you want to try or something you want to achieve. Maybe you want to run a certain number of miles, try out that new bakery downtown, see a friend, do something nice for your significant other or work on your short stories? Whatever it is, give today a purpose. Days are good when they have purpose.

Do something nice for another person. As simple as holding the door open, smiling at someone who looks sad or giving a co-worker a compliment about their dress. Or buying a present for someone you love, writing a letter to an old friend or taking your loved one(s) out for dinner. Our relationships are important, we should cherish them.

Although I got caught in a huge rain storm this morning and my socks are still soaking, I’m good and here to wih you a Happy Monday? Make it a good one!