Tag Archive | self-help

GRATITUDE

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“Try to pose for yourself this task: not to think of a polar bear, and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute.”

This post isn’t really about gratitude. It’s about distraction. How deceiving, right?! Lol

But the word “Gratitude” fits into this post well.

In my recent post I mentioned that I recently experienced a few losses, two of my pets (my parakeet and my cat), and my human friend who lost her life to a heart attack at work… all died unexpectedly.

I have been generally very happy even in the midst of my sense of loss and the sorrow for those lost.  I’m usually good at staying positive even in the midst of stress and negativity. 

Some moments the grief is more difficult than others. A few nights ago, it was hard to sleep. I kept waking up with terrible anxiety. Sleep problems and anxiety are not something I am accustomed to experiencing and I wasn’t completely sure what to do. I rarely have trouble sleeping no matter what is going on. And I rarely experience true anxiety even when something very unpleasant or painful occurs.  Anxiety is a “normal” emotion or feeling most everyone feels at some points, whether mild or severe. It’s not necessarily an indication of a disorder. 

But it’s never pleasant. I think it’s one of the most unpleasant feelings in the world, fear, panic, and anxiety. When I do experience anxiety for whatever reason, it’s usually mild and whether or not it’s mild, it usually ends quickly. Most of us don’t have panic attacks or anxiety that is out of control but we can draw on our experiences with “normal” anxiety and fear and deepen our empathy for people who have any sort of anxiety/panic disorder.

Anxiety should not be frequent and interfering too much with life, sleep, health…or it may be or be becoming a disorder that can be treated somehow. 
 
My anxiety wasn’t out of control or a symptom of any condition; it was just a reaction to my recent losses and I have never had a panic attack. It looks so scary to experience and horrible. And I have much compassion for those who experience them. I don’t want to even imagine having to put up with such horror. 

But when I kept waking up my body/mind was just so stiff and trem-bly with anxiety and a kind of fear and it was just so unpleasant I was desperate to end it(just the fear/anxiety, I wasn’t suicidal or depressed). I looked around my room all groggy and tired trying to find anything that may help me allay my fear/anxiety. It would have been easier if I wasn’t so tired. My sleep was restless and fitful. I thought about getting my earphones and trying to meditate but I was too tired. I tried some meditative breathing techniques which really did help. But I felt I also needed something more. 

I kept drifting off to sleep, having weird dreams, then waking all anxious and fearful.

It wasn’t even really anxious thoughts, it was more physical sensations all over my body. 

It sucked.

Then I looked next to me in bed and saw my gratitude journal leaning against the wall. I was so tired and through my blurred vision because I wasn’t fully awake, I saw the word “GRATITUDE” and noticed something I never really noticed before.

The word “gratitude” has the word “tit” in it. 

And I burst out laughing. 

(Yeah I’m kind of on the immature side.) 

I was so amazed for some reason (that state in the middle of wake and sleep tends to put me in strange, often elevated/exaggerated moods and stuff).

I wanted to tell someone. “Hey! Do you know the word ‘gratitude’ has the word ‘tit’ in it?! It does!! That’s so amazing, isn’t it?!”

The first person I thought to tell was my sister. She already thinks I’m a perv(there’s countless occasions throughout the day she says “omg, Kim you’re a pig!” With much emphasis on the word “pig.” lol)  . And she wouldn’t have been too happy. Which would have made it all the more fun to tell her! But she was sleeping. And I was more than half sleeping, in and out of waking and sleeping.

I began to wonder what other words may be in the word “gratitude” and thought probably not many! But I was wrong! Lots of words began jumping out at me! 

A
I
(I laughed at the fact that one letter words are acceptable to me – but why not?! They’re words aren’t they?! Teachers in school wouldn’t let us use one letter words when we played games like this)
AT
Grade
Trade
Age
Eat
Ate
Aid
Rat
Tar
Grate 
Rate
Guard
Art

And so many more….i wanted to write them all down but I was too groggy. 

So I laid there in and out of sleep with words flashing across my mind, most appropriate words for the activity at hand, some I had to correct myself, even in my sleep/dream state. For some reason I kept wanting to put a “C” in it. 

CAGE
CRATE
.
.
.

And I had to open my eyes wide as I looked at my journal to make sure there really isn’t a “C” in “gratitude.”

There’s not. :-/

For a second I even wondered why “gratitude” can’t be “gcratitude” or “cgratitude”  just to make my little game a bit more impressive.  It was disappointing. 

My sleepy brain is a tad off. But it’s all good! 😀

But for the most part, I did well! 

I was quite impressed with my slumbering brain coming up with words as I had my eyes closed sleeping or almost sleeping. I wasn’t actually seeing the word “Gratitude” with my eyes when I would drift off in my state of fitful sleep but I saw it across my mind as I was mostly sleeping.  

And then I remembered how I loved playing that game when I was a little girl. When I was in middle school, my dad and me would choose a long word and sit on the sofa having a competition to see who got the most words out of it. It was so much fun. We sat there for hours playing at night, making lists, coming up with interesting and fun words. Sometimes I would cheat. But I thought it was so funny that I was brilliant and sly enough to cheat (I actually saw it as a slick skill) and cheat without getting caught, that I would open up and spill my dirty little secret and be laughing hysterically as I was telling it. It never got old, the awe over my gall to cheat and my ability to cheat well. 

I had an electronic navy blue word speller that I was able to put just about any word in and it would scramble it for me and tell me all the other words it can make. I used to set my trapperkeeper (some paper holder thing with metal rings and a design with golden lab dogs) up and hide in back of it. My dad wasn’t as impressed as I was. 

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Then I came back to current reality and realized how distracting myself helped me significantly with the fear, anxiety, and grief I was having some trouble coping with. The fun little activity itself not only calmed my whole body and eased my mind but provoked me to reminisce and stirred up sweet childhood memories which further distracted and soothed me, I even remembered my favorite red denim flare pants and white spice girl shoes I loved to wear on Thursdays(i thought I was the hottest little thing prancing around in those clothes with my cool electronic word speller (there was no cell phone, no computer, no Internet that I knew of back then) ), and realized that I do have lots of happy memories of that age(even though I struggled with depression), and I was able to drift off easy and get a few hours of good sleep. I did wake up achy and still a bit anxious but much better than before.

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One thing to keep in mind is that intentionally, consciously, directly trying not to think of something will, without a doubt, make you think about it more. It’s impossible to escape its bondage when you put your mind directly to not thinking about it. It’s like an inherent contradiction. To try not to think about it, you necessarily have to think about it. Even psychological studies suggest it. I learned about it in psychology classes at Temple University many years ago. 

Ironic Process Theory 

(Here is a great link to read about it:

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/10/unwanted-thoughts.aspx

With some tips on how to cope with unwanted thoughts and feelings.)

And I experienced this phenomenon myself whenever I would try to directly take my suicidal mind off of being suicidal. It’s one hundred percent futile. 
But what does work is allowing yourself to feel, think, experience whatever it is while gently distracting yourself by doing something you like/love, something soothing, healing, or something like exercising or other physical activity that is safe for the state you’re in.
Focus on a more pleasant thought and the unpleasant one can melt away. I experienced this then I learned about it in classes. 

Eventually your mind may escape the grasp of whatever it is, for a while. You will be so into the fun or healing activity you’re engaged in.

It may be hard to find the strength or motivation to begin an activity of distraction. When we are so depressed or so anxious, it can be hard to even move or believe that it will really work or believe that we are worth it, but it’s worth that initial effort, that first step. And feeling unworthy is just a delusion that depression can put into our heads. And you won’t know until you try if it will work. Rest is good but it’s not good to sit or lay in bed just dwelling on or obsessing over anxious or depressing thoughts or feelings. Acknowledge the depression or anxiety. It’s ok. Even embrace it. Sit with it. Accept it. Then get moving to help yourself cope.

At the mental health clinic I go to for depression, some therapists give us worksheets to help us cope with different problems. 

Here is a link to various worksheets to help people cope with different problems such as anxiety, ptsd, depression, low self esteem, negative thinking….:

http://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/freedownloads2.htm

They are in pdf files and can be saved and printed out. They are meant to be a supplement to professional treatment if someone has a serious disorder. Anyone can benefit by mindfulness activities and these worksheets but for people with a serious problem, it’s important to seek some kind of appropriate professional help as well. The worksheets are very helpful but are not meant to be the sole “treatment.” Self help techniques (like the worksheets) are great but for true disorders or serious distress, they may not be enough. 

One helpful technique is the “Emergency Bag or Box.” One of the worksheets in the link above is about this activity. 

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When we are in serious distress, it can be difficult to think reasonably and see an effective, safe way to help ourselves at that moment and can be tempting to resort to things that can seem helpful then but really aggravate the situation or are detrimental later. One helpful technique is to keep an “Emergency bag” or “Soothe box” somewhere that is easy to access. 

I don’t have a whole box or bag put together yet. I have things that help me cope with or prevent a depressive episode/suicidal thoughts/urges and help me to cope better with cluster-like headaches. 

Here are some of my emergency or soothe things:

Scented candles, especially tropical scented – they don’t have to be lit
Hot tea
Buddhist Mala beads – they remind me to think of positive quotes and affirmations and are very helpful to me with the headaches 
Gratitude journal 
My six dogs 
Art journal/painting
Scented body lotion 
Positive songs 
Photography – I like taking my own pictures and editing them or writing quotes onto the pics. And also looking at inspiring pics that aren’t mine. 
Quote books 
Stress ball – for coping with the headaches 
Comedy movies 
Positive/self help books
Sharing uplifting pictures or quotes to help others 
Philosophy books/texts – sometimes even when I’m severely depressed, when I read complex, abstract texts, it takes my mind off it for a while and even uplifts me. It can be hard to concentrate but it’s ok, just the process of reading challenging material is helpful.
Blogs – uplifting blogs help me when I’m in a low mood or struggling with physical pain.

The idea is when you are experiencing a crisis or just in a low or agitated state of mind, to go to your box or bag or wherever you have your soothing/emergency objects and mindfully study or use them. What do they look like, feel like, smell like(if it’s safe to breathe it in), sound like, taste like (if it’s something you can taste)…?

If you choose to put on body lotion, for example, carefully tune into the experience. Feel the sensation of the lotion on your body. Is it hot, cold, sticky, soft….? What does it feel like on your hands and wherever you’re putting it on? 

Tune into the environment around you. Use all of your senses and notice the information received by each one. Hear the sounds around you, feel the clothes against your body, taste the air on your tongue…

This mindfulness activity can help you with depression, anxiety, grief, physical pain, and any problem you may be experiencing.  

Another idea is to write yourself an uplifting or comforting note or list. Maybe a list of inspiring quotes or note of encouragement. And put it into your box or bag for when you look into it next. Words by others can be very encouraging and inspiring but it can be especially inspiring to see positive words either that you yourself wrote or ones that someone else wrote that you once shared or felt or agreed with. To know you once felt that way and so have it in you to feel it again. 

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These things help in a psychological way and can also affect brain chemistry in a positive way. We don’t just have to consume things like medication, alcohol, food…to affect the chemistry in the body/brain. Physical/mental activities interact with our brains as well. They can be a great supplement to medication or talk(or other kinds) therapy or both. Sometimes a combination of multiple things works best.  

My heart goes out to anyone struggling with grief, depression, anxiety, physical pain/illness, suicidal urges or thoughts,  or anything.

and someone somewhere knows exactly what it’s like to experience whatever you experience. We’re never alone even when it seems that way. ❤

Much love to you,

Xoxo Kim ❤

On Empathy

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“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” ~ Henry David Thoreau ❤

I have thin, super thin, psychological boundaries but I have learned to handle it well and I see it as a true gift and pure strength. Thin psychological boundaries means I often have difficulty emotionally separating myself and others. When someone suffers either physically or emotionally or experiences pleasure or joy, I feel almost as if it’s happening to me. It literally hurts me, even physically when someone else hurts. And elates me or fills me with sheer joy when someone else is thrilled or elated.  Even if the person isn’t someone I like much or someone I don’t know or even on TV or a fictional character in a book. 

One day a psychic program on TV was on in my house.  I don’t believe in psychic abilities or that psychics are real but it can still be interesting. 
I was sitting on the sofa while it was on and saw parts of it. 
The psychic lady said a lady’s neck was snapped by a murderer in some room in a house somewhere that the psychic lady was standing in and the psychic lady got all worked up saying she has to get out of there because she was so disturbed over what she “saw” and she said she “saw” marks on this lady’s neck and she was holding her own neck and my neck started throbbing and felt all bruised and my head and face started throbbing on the one side, the side where I usually have the cluster-like headaches, and I was holding it the rest of the day off and on! And I felt the dead lady’s neck injury and the psychic’s emotional distress all day. I know it was “empathy pain,” not really something wrong with my neck. Not an actual headache. I was still happy that day, it doesn’t usually overly interfere with my own life.  And I don’t believe what the psychic lady was saying but I believe she may have believed it. Or believed it to some extent. Or is great at acting.

 I felt so connected to that psychic lady, deeply connected. Both of us did not have a neck injury at all but both of us experienced both physical sensation and emotional distress over someone else’s painful situation. I often get “empathy headaches” when someone has a headache. I usually keep it to myself so as not to or appear to be taking the attention or sympathy off of the true sufferer. 
 
There have been occasions I was so overwhelmed over someone else’s pain or sickness I succumbed to my bed for an hour or more. I can handle emotional pain better than serious physical pain so it’s often the physical pain that overwhelms me more when someone else experiences it. Both kinds of pain can be just as bad and painful, it’s just that severe physical pain is more difficult to me. 

It’s ridiculous and a bit uncalled for to have empathy to this extreme. I can still be empathetic without going to this extreme but it’s not my choice. I don’t have it like some people are said to have to the point they’re almost “psychic” like they feel an overwhelming sense of dread then something terrible happens. Or their chest hurts then someone in the room has a heart attack. It’s just when someone is already suffering that I see of or read/hear about, I feel it too. 

Also, unlike with some people similar to me in this way, such as my sister, I don’t feel overwhelmed in crowded places or have to retreat to a place of being physically alone to “recharge” or recover. I can handle crowded places and various people all around me. In fact, I usually prefer it to being alone. I am an extrovert even though I’m very shy around people I don’t know or don’t know well. And I can be around many people and not have to come home and rest afterwards.  I feel energized and uplifted in a room full of people, even if I don’t interact with them in anyway.  Just being physically near people lifts me.

I used to see my extreme empathy as a blessing as well as a curse but now I just view it as a gift. While it can be exhausting, annoying, ridiculous, painful, feeling as One with others can’t be a “curse.”

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I can usually sense people’s true emotions even when they are lying or pretending. I usually catch micro-expressions (the split second facial expression people reveal right before they show a different one – it’s the true feeling before they pretend to feel something else or try to cover it up. If they are angry, for example, anger will briefly flash across the face before they put on a fake smile) easily and can often sense people’s anxiety, elation, or anticipation. Sometimes when one person in a crowded room is extremely anxious I pick up on it even if I don’t know which one it is. I can often sense the overall mood in a room full of people. Whether most people are happy, thrilled, anxious, in a hurry, gloomy….not just see it on their faces but actually feel/sense the energy. 

I also understand situations really well even if I’m not involved or never have been. I can just clearly imagine things happening and why. I have a deep understanding.

I think authors of fiction books need a very developed empathetic ability. I’m not talking about being caring and compassionate but a deep, thorough understanding of how situations work even if they never been in a similar one. An incredibly deep imagination. They have to get in the heads of various kinds of people, even people who are so very unlike themselves, to bring their characters to life if they want them to be of substance, realistic, well developed, and believable. They have to imagine, deeply, how certain situations play out and conjure up the emotions of those who would be in those situations even if they themselves were never in those situations. They have to put themselves in that place. It’s absolutely amazing the skills fiction writers have! I love it! 

It seems that we often overlook their incredible empathy. We often acknowledge their incredible writing skills and even their amazing intelligence, maybe even the fantastic research they had to do for the book’s theme, but look at that empathy! They can write an entire book as if they are that character or in the character’s head! Mind blowing! I don’t see/hear people praising this enough! It’s the same for actors who have to play characters and not just act, but feel, literally (mentally)  become a whole other person! Incredible! 

Empathy. 

 It runs deeper than just caring and compassion. Someone can still be caring and compassionate but not really *feel* or understand someone else’s situation.

And someone can experience a kind of empathy but not feel concern or compassion. For example: I feel the pain of others even just watching movies that aren’t real. There are scenes in movies where a “bad” character is getting hurt like getting hit over the head or something by someone trying to protect themselves or others and I felt like my own body was being hit even when I wasn’t feeling much compassion for the character, even when I was happy when a character was getting revenge.
I have experienced empathy without compassion and compassion without empathy. They often go together but not always.

There are occasions I was empathetic and understanding enough to know something I wanted to say or write to someone would emotionally hurt or infuriate  that person and I said or wrote it to intentionally inflict pain or anger upon the person out of my own anger. I was empathetic in some way but not very compassionate in those moments. My empathy led me to know to some degree how the person would feel and I wanted the person to feel anger or sadness or pain. This isn’t usually a good thing and I think empathy is better used to help heal, not hurt. We also need compassion. 

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Most people have a basic ability to experience empathy; it’s a natural human trait we have that develops as we are growing up. It’s related to compassion. Certain experiences can deepen some people’s empathy. Some are naturally more in touch with theirs than others. And we can learn to deepen our basic empathy into something more. Paying more attention to people and all sentient beings, tuning into our own emotions, drawing on our own various experiences, meditation, trying to better understand, imagining what it must be like to experience something, focusing on the fact that when we suffer or hurt it’s a similar feeling to what others feel when they suffer and hurt…

Empathy isn’t just feeling someone else’s pain but also experiencing another’s joy, happiness, and pleasure.

I have known people who won the lottery, like 100 or 1000 dollars, and I felt like I just won. When I hear of someone getting a new job, job promotion, getting married or engaged, having or adopting a child, getting ready for vacation, I feel it too. The thrill, the anxiety, the anticipation, the sheer joy, the love. I can’t be feeling it exactly how they are as I have my own body and mind/mental/emotional experiences. But I can strongly and deeply sense it.

There’s a definite and deep connection. 

It’s hard for me to get jealous (although I have experienced jealousy and probably will again) of people when great things happen to them when I can bask in the joy and beauty of their experiences almost as if it’s my own. When one person wins, we all win.

I think about things like this often and was recently thinking about it again when I saw the news at work. 

It was startling to see on the news that in some countries people are dying of infectious diseases in the streets.  When they are sick or injured they are left for dead. 

One man of an African country, the man who inspired me to write this post here, was shown on the news laying outside dying of an infectious disease. He was writhing in pain and sickness and laying in a puddle of his own blood, a result of the disease’s progression. 

There were people standing around watching, sure to keep their distance so as not to contract the disease themselves. And then there was the person filming the horror. 

Some moments my empathy or feeling of connectedness is deeper and some moments I don’t feel as connected to what is before me.

The moment I saw the sick, dying man in excruciating pain and sickness, I felt more connected. I felt it with my whole body. A longing to take all the sick, hurting, dying people in my arms so they can feel my touch before they go or before they heal. So they can know someone cares, even if I contract the disease myself. What I felt was both empathy and compassion, a perfect combination. Empathy can inspire greater compassion. 

Imagine laying sick and in pain while people surround you at a safe distance and watch, you’re still so alone. No one will touch you. No one is coming for you, until after you die, to remove your infected, contagious body. Imagine them all staring at you, fear in their eyes, utter helplessness. For some of them, all they can probably think is that they’re glad it isn’t them. Truly, deeply imagine. 

But I felt an instant connection to a stranger across the world, briefly flashing across a TV screen. Someone of a different language, a different country, a different nationality, different culture, skin color, ethnicity.

I have never been deathly ill or left for dead. I never been to his country but still I know that underneath we’re the same.

Strip away all the outer layers of culture and language and color of skin, distance, financial status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and other experiences and underneath at a most basic, primitive level, we are One.

Our basic humanness exists the same underneath no matter the color of our skin, our level of education, career labels, class status, our location in the world, financial situations, our various experiences…..these things are important in some contexts, they contribute to different experiences and struggles for different people and it’s not always good or wise to overlook them, it’s important to acknowledge their circumstances(skin color, country, ethnicity, status in other contexts…) so we can get a better idea of their struggles and pain that may be different than our own, but in some cases they are completely irrelevant. Like in the case of raw pleasure and pain, sickness and health, living and dying. 

I’m not advocating for general “color blindness” or anything of that sort, like saying we should all literally ignore our differences such as skin color or class status. That isn’t good either because then we overlook the unique experiences and struggles that someone in a different situation than us may have. 

If we mentally block out or ignore the color of someone’s skin, ethnicity, or other factors or characteristics that are different than ours, in the name of compassion or “all getting along” then we automatically mentally block out or ignore the struggles that come along with those factors or characteristics.
People who say things like “I only have one race, the human race” or “forget skin color, we’re all human or all bleed red and that’s all that matters…” or something like that, probably have very good, loving, intentions but promoting that and living that way is NOT helpful. 
Ignorance in this way, is NOT helpful or wise or a good thing. 
This can contribute to lack of empathy and understanding of people’s situations pertaining to their own circumstances different than ours. 
It’s ok, even necessary to acknowledge diversity but accept it. But in some cases differences are irrelevant. 

Any one of us can be in the position that sick and dying man was in, our country and our money and our education or language or ethnicity won’t definitely protect us against diseases or death. For some people, truly understanding and realizing this in their heads, can deepen their empathy and compassion for others. And it’s just as bad when it’s someone else as if it were myself or someone I know. Just because I don’t know him doesn’t mean he’s a less important person than someone I do know. Or less important than me. It doesn’t mean it’s good to just go my own way ignoring his suffering. 

Some people are more at risk than others because of their location or discrimination they encounter and some have access to better health care but none of us are immune to suffering or pain and dying of disease or injury. And none of us are immune to being targets of cruelty or the indifference of others against our suffering or pain or sickness. 

Another thing I saw recently that disturbed and actually offended me(and I’m not easily offended at all) is people getting all happy over some podcast about *real* murder victims. They were talking about how thrilling it is to watch or listen, how they can’t wait for the next ones, how it’s so exciting, how fascinating! Not once did I see any one of these people expressing sympathy/empathy or compassion or sorrow for the victims and their friends/family. These are REAL murder victims, flesh and blood, like us, like people we know, some of them children, some adults, who were brutally murdered in cold blood, some tortured, raped/sexually assaulted, destroyed and discarded like they were nothing, not characters in a book or movie or story, real people. I understand taking interest in these stories but no one here displayed sympathy in even the most subtle way, not even an underlying hint of concern for those involved in the devastation, expressed in their tone. It was all just pure pleasure for their own benefit of sitting around listening to it and having fun while drinking coffee all warm and cozy at home. It made me cringe.  

I don’t believe for a second that these happy people who “can’t wait” for the next podcasts about homicide victims, these people who are “so thrilled” over victims murdered in cold blood, tortured and thrown away like trash on the side of the road, are horrible people or sadists, or that they aren’t generally loving and compassionate and empathetic. They may not be, generally, any less caring or empathetic than I am. I don’t believe they were taking pleasure in the pain itself that the victims endured.  It’s the mystery and thrill they get to experience, secure and embraced in the comfort of their own safe homes in their pj’s with their cups of coffee.

 But they were too “detached” in my opinion, in this, here, case. It’s complete thoughtlessness. They were too wrapped up in their own lives and pleasure they put up too much of a barrier. So much so, they are thrilled over real murder victims. It hurt me to witness and I know if it were their own friends and family members or themselves abducted, murdered, targets of rape and other sexual violence, it wouldn’t be so thrilling. They wouldn’t be so eager to see what’s next. I can just imagine a devastated person close to one of those poor victims reading that people are sitting around getting off of the violent, senseless deaths of the people they knew and love. It’s dangerous to let ourselves become numb to the real tragedy, suffering, and pain of others. Even when those are people we only see through a glass screen on a tv or voices we hear through a phone, radio, or words we read through a computer monitor. Even just distant echoes of pain that come to us through some invisible radio waves in the air. Those are real people. That is real suffering. 

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I think it’s important to always tune in to our empathy and compassion whether or not we have ever experienced something similar to what someone else has. And whether or not we know those people well or at all. We do know they are someone, someone just like us. 
Like us, they have/had a name, a story, a dream or goal, needs, and desires, love, joy, pain, sorrow, and happiness. 

Let us be happy for those who are well and happy and successful and full of joy and have compassion, concern, understanding, and empathy for those sick, injured, and in pain, dying, grieving, struggling in any way. But we don’t have to not allow ourselves to be happy because other people are struggling. It’s ok to be happy for our own blessings. Gratitude guilt is not necessary. It won’t help anyone or anything. Dragging ourselves down or not allowing ourselves joy, thankfulness, or happiness, just because others are not well will not contribute to overall goodness to the world, all it does is put more unhappiness or suffering into the world. 

And also, one day we may not be as fortunate in the ways we are now so there’s no need to feel guilty anyway just because we are well and others aren’t. As I said, none or us are immune to tragedy and pain. Next week my house can burn down, you may experience the break up of a close relationship, someone we know can die, we can be diagnosed with a terminal illness….But no matter what, there’s always something to be thankful for and happy about, even in pain, chaos, destruction, grief, depression, anxiety, homelessness… 

I think we do need some emotional boundaries but not too thick. A healthy kind of detachment is good to prevent burnout, exhaustion, being overwhelmed…. but not when it’s blocking our empathy and attempts at true understanding to some level. Not when we are so detached we forget the real suffering and pain of others. Not when we’re so detached, we feel pleasure associated with someone else’s horror or painful circumstances. 

It’s great to experience gratitude for our own happy circumstances and everything but not good, in my opinion, to get so wrapped up in it we forget about those who aren’t so fortunate now, in the ways we currently are, or tune out the depth or degree of their pain.

Empathy won’t always cure diseases or take away someone’s pain and it likely won’t help us in one country be able to immediately help someone dying in another country. But it can motivate us to reach out in some way, maybe to people physically near us who appear to be struggling or people we know online, or reach out to write to people with more power than us, like politicians or people in charge of something related to the issue at hand, or ones who have good things happening to them and we can share in their joy, letting them know how happy we are for them, how proud or thrilled for their accomplishments or fortunate situations, maybe to write a comforting message to someone in need, maybe just to share a link with info about a health condition or situation that needs awareness, to bring more awareness to it and help educate more people. And maybe someone with more resources can see what we share or post and help in ways that we cannot yet help. 

Instead of merely thinking “I’m glad it’s not me” or “that could have been me…” and just going about our own lives forgetting the pain of someone else, we can still feel gratitude for our own fortunate situations but extend our empathy and compassion and realize it’s just as bad when it happens to someone else. It’s realistic to expect people to be thankful some tragedy or unpleasant circumstance is not happening to them but everyone is someone just as important as ourselves and our own friends and family and they feel suffering and happiness the same way too.  We can shift our focus a bit – instead of just being thankful we, ourselves are ok, we can focus more on compassion for those who are struggling in any way.

~Hug the hurt
Comfort the sick

Kiss the broken
Befriend the lost
Love the lonely~ 

And when something amazing happens to someone, even if we wish it would happen to us, instead of resentment, we can bask in that person’s happiness. 

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Deeper empathy along with compassion can help decrease all kinds of things, bullying, cyber bullying, unjust discrimination, sexual violence, other forms of cruelty(against all sentient beings), apathy, even wars and stuff if enough people around the world including those in various governments would better tune into and develop their own empathy and compassion.

Empathy & compassion are great for practical purposes but they also are just amazing traits to possess. They make us better for them. I’m no better than someone who is less compassionate or with less developed empathy but I believe it’s better to have those abilities than not. I’m not better than a sadist, a murderer, a psycho or sociopath with no empathy, but I believe those people would be better people than they are now, in another way if they develop their empathy and compassion.

Not everything is just for practical purposes or actions. Sometimes it’s intentions or just what we are, our essence that counts for something and is beautiful. 

Empathy & compassion, especially a combination of both, can inspire and motivate us to act, reach out to others in some way whether just a simple act of comforting words or volunteering time or money for a specific cause or even just inspire us to hold our tongues when we feel like lashing out or motivating us to proactively speak out against someone else’s callousness, which can have a positive effect. 

Let us remember when we see someone suffering whether it’s emotional or physical pain that is the root of it, human or not, that it’s a very similar feeling that we would feel if it were us. This can make it more real to us and motivate us to reach out in some way, even in the most simplest way, a warm smile, a gentle touch, a kind word…even if it’s not similar to what we ourselves would feel, it’s still important to be empathetic and compassionate but realizing how similar we are underneath can help deepen our empathy. 

And let us not be overly jealous of those who are experiencing joy, happiness, and success even if we are not. Let their accomplishments and happiness inspire and motivate us, not contribute to us being depressed or jealous. It’s best for all of us when we are happy for and encouraging to one another. Let’s celebrate each other and bask in each other’s happiness and success and fortunes. 

There’s enough happiness to go around. 😀

Here are some links about Metta (universal love/compassion) & Empathy.

This explains what Metta is, the benefits, and the importance of cultivating an attitude or lifestyle which has Metta at its core.

http://www.wildmind.org/metta/introduction/what-is-metta

Another explanation of Metta.

http://www.buddhanet.net/metta_in.htm

Here, the link below this, is fascinating research on the brain and empathy. Research reveals that when we are happy and things are going well, we are less likely to empathize with those not so happy or well. We are likely to perceive their pain or suffering as less than it really is. When we ourselves are not doing well, we better empathize with others. We are more likely to validate or realize the seriousness of someone else’s pain or low feelings. In fact, we’re more likely to evaluate someone else’s happiness as less than it really is when we ourselves are not happy. I suspected this before learning of this research. I saw evidence of this in certain situations including the happy people in warm, pj’s at home, drinking coffee while being thrilled over real murder mysteries and not expressing empathy, sympathy, or compassion for those involved.

There is good news. We don’t have to make ourselves suffer to empathize with others. Empathy & compassion are not fixed. 
Compassionate and empathetic people can become less compassionate and empathetic (so it’s important to regularly maintain our empathy and compassion) and those who are not very empathetic and compassionate can become more empathetic and compassionate. 
Some suggestions to maintain or develop empathy, compassion, and an attitude of kindness are meditation, routine mindfulness activities, volunteering to help others, meditating/imagining ourselves in pain and knowing others feel that too…

It’s also suggested that vigorous physical exercises can help deepen a person’s empathy. These exercises can feel physically uncomfortable and help us realize more what it’s like for others who are hurting in some way.
Let’s not go overboard and exercise so much it’s unhealthy but a reasonable dose of routine aggressive exercise can be quite healthy, both physically and emotionally. 

It’s important to do all we can to care for ourselves, be happy, be healthy, be grateful, but keep in touch with the suffering or pain of others.  

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201310/the-neuroscience-empathy

Desktop link to a video for a lovingkindness meditation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sz7cpV7ERsM&app=desktop

Mobile version of the same video:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sz7cpV7ERsM&app=m&persist_app=1
 
Even if you are already a very loving and kind person in general, you and the world can still benefit by practicing this meditation or ones like it. Meditation is calm and soothing and even if we are already or are naturally very compassionate and loving, we can still experience setbacks and it’s important to maintain whatever attitude or lifestyle we want to generally live. Like working out, we must keep up with it to keep it going strong. 
Even if we are naturally a certain way, we can strengthen it by making it more intentional and consciously applying it or deepening it.
It takes some practice and maintaining but is well worth it! 

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May you be well.
May you be happy. 
May you be peaceful.
May you be loved.
 
Xoxo Kim





My (somewhat recent) Dream {you can be greater than anything that can happen to you}

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As I posted here previously, I have vivid dreams that I frequently remember. Sometimes they’re inspirational.
My dreams aren’t usually bad, negative, or scary. They’re often strange. Bizarre beyond comprehension. And when not bizarre beyond belief, usually just quite ordinary like an extension of a normal day.  But I can often gather little parts of them, bizzare or not, that can be analyzed or interpreted. I like my dreams. They seem so real. And I love that I remember them so easily, I even remember dreams I had years ago.
My dreams are so profound and so intense, like I can experience my emotions in my dreams just as strongly as during my waking hours. 

I believe that dreams are usually just stuff we have been thinking about consciously or unconsciously whether it’s important or not so much. I think it’s often just our brains releasing everyday stuff in symbols or images as we sleep. Like a kind of replenishment. I think sometimes we have certain dreams for a certain reason that we aren’t consciously aware of. Some deep, seemingly unreachable, part of the Self is attempting to reveal something.  I love the mystery of dreams and I think they often try to take unconscious thoughts and put them into the conscious mind.

Sometimes I know things unconsciously that I don’t realize in my waking hours. These messages come to me during my slumber and I’m often blessed enough to carry the message out of the dream and into my wakening. 

In another post I mentioned that I have a recurring dream while I sleep sometimes, when I’m depressed and suicidal or having suicidal thoughts. The dream is someone chasing me and trying to kill me and in my dream I want so desperately to live and will do almost anything to survive. I’m passionate about living. My desire to live in this dream is overwhelming and I would do almost anything to save myself. This is a dream I usually only have when I’m depressed and having some degree of suicidal thoughts.

I believe it’s my unconscious mind letting me know I really do want to live, deep inside I want to live, not to listen to and give into the deadly thoughts and urges, that the depression is deceiving me into thinking I should die. The depression is clouding my Truth. My Truth is pure like sparkling white snow glistening on a cold Winter day. But depression comes along like a speeding truck headed straight for me, leaving tracks of mud upon my pure Truth. But no matter how much mud and soil and sludge it leaves upon my Truth, my inner self, my Truth and my authentic Self is still pure and sparkling, still fierce, still strong. No pain can take that. My Truth is that life is always a blessing even when it doesn’t feel so, that there’s always beauty and hope and something to carry on for, something to smile about and be thankful for even when pain or circumstances are overwhelming. No matter how much it hurts. Even when it feels like it will never get better, like all hope is lost. My truth is that I have a purpose and always will. My truth is that I want to live to inspire anyone I can, to share my own story, my happiness and sadness, my joy and pain, my beauty and my uglines, my strength and my weakness,and bring hope and healing to anyone in need.

A few months ago, I have been depressed again and had another dream. I dreamed that someone died. A woman named Angie. She’s not someone I know for real, I don’t know where my mind got her. I don’t think she’s based on a real person that I know of. But I read a fact about dreams that says when we see faces in our dreams they are people we once saw in our reality whether we remember seeing them or not, even if those people were never significant in our lives, even if we saw the face only once, and even if we haven’t seen them in decades. Our brain can’t make up faces. 

The faces/people we dream may not, in the dream, be based on who they really are in reality. It’s just the same physical face/appearance, nothing more necessarily. The example I read is that as a child we may have watched a man pumping gas into our dad’s car then years later dream of a serial killer and it’s the man pumping the gas! His face! Lol So while the face is real he wasn’t necessarily really a serial killer, he was just a man pumping gas whose face made it into a dream years later and the brain made him a serial killer. In the dream the serial killer isn’t that man we remember pumping gas at one point. It’s that our brain just took his face to incorporate into a dream.
Now, I have absolutely no clue how true this is. And if it’s true I have no idea how someone found this out. How does someone know our brains can’t make up faces that never existed? Maybe it’s common sense how someone knows but I’m lacking that common sense or maybe some research reveals it somehow. Some kind of neuroscience? It’s fascinating but I don’t know much about it. I did go to college for psychology and took many brain classes, even held an actual human brain in my hands, along with a spinal cord. My professor had/has a human brain collection in her basement. They float around in jars of fluid. Lol please don’t ask because I don’t know! 

She’s some kind of brain researcher in a lab and keeps the brains for her own entertainment. I would too! Lmao
This sounds like something out of some kind of science fiction or horror movie but it’s reality. So yeah.
I don’t remember over half the shit I learned back then. But it’s ok at least I’m humble enough to admit it! ;-D
It’s funny because sometimes I dream about this fact about dreams and faces that I’m not sure is really a fact. Lol
As a matter of fact, it’s only in a dream that I remember first learning it! 
I don’t remember learning this “fact”/fact while awake. I dreamed about learning this then one day I woke up and thought it was just some weird thing I dreamed out of nowhere. Then I looked it up and saw it’s actually said to be a fact! So I must have learned it and forgot but my unconscious self remembered and had it tucked away until I fell asleep one night.
I haven’t found any reliable sources to support it.
So anyway, if this is true, Angie in my dream who died, must be real since I saw her clearly in my dream. Maybe her name isn’t really Angie. 
Maybe in reality she’s not who she was in my dream. And hopefully she never really died.

Maybe I saw her on a bus one day years ago or in a class in college or in a picture on Facebook….who knows?
But in my dream she died. In my dream I did not know her well at all but the news of her death devastated me. This isn’t quite a stretch or unrealistic as in my reality I find the death of someone to be devastating, even the death of people/animals I hardly know or don’t know at all. Of course, it’s not as deep as for people who actually knew the person/animal but I am just filled with sorrow over the losses I hear of. I can see on the news that someone died or I read a Facebook status and am somewhat somber the rest of the day off and on or even the next few days. It’s not always equal for every one that I see. Some things hit harder for whatever reason.
But in my dream I was in a room full of people who all knew the woman who died. I don’t know where I was in the dream but in the dream it made sense. I think it may have been inspired my the building of the mental health clinic I go to for medication. There were big wooden tables and chairs, like lunchroom tables,  and a lady in charge….in charge of what I don’t know…., she was going around to different people with a clipboard and paper and pen and when she got to me we sat on the chairs, facing each other. I was grieving and felt a kind of fear and I sensed this woman before me was trying to push the problem under the rug, not wanting to talk about the issue directly or in depth because it was painful and uncomfortable.
She asked me questions I can’t remember. She wrote down my answers. I even remember the paper in the dream, clearly. It was white with black text and black boxes to write the answers in. 

Then the last question she asked me I do remember. She said something like: “What is the one quote you want to live by, choose a quote you truly believe in, one that is important, a quote you want to be the foundation for your life?” I thought about it for a few seconds and almost instantly a quote popped into my head. For real I was depressed and in my dream I was depressed and grieving. When I’m depressed I often have certain insecurities thinking I’m not good enough for anything or anyone and in my dream that’s how I felt.
I was afraid to answer. Feeling as if my answer wouldn’t be good enough. Just because it’s my answer, because nothing about me is ever good enough, it seems. I don’t always feel this way, only sometimes, especially when I’m depressed. And in the dream I felt this.
In reality I was feeling a bit hopeless. 
It carried over into my dream.
And the quote that came to me in my dream:
“You can be greater than anything that can happen to you.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

I told the dream lady(who I must have also seen in my waking hours if that fun fact is in fact true, but I don’t remember her either, in my reality) and she happily wrote it down. She seemed impressed and she said to me “Now, you always remember that, don’t you ever forget it.”
And then I woke up.
I was and still am in awe of the beauty my brain creates when I sleep.
Of course my brain did not make up this quote. If only…lol if only my slumbering brain were THAT brilliant!
This is one of my favorite quotes that helps remind me whenever something bad happens, whenever I’m in pain of any kind, depressed, struggling with insecurities or painful memories of any past event or day, grief, struggling with tmjd “cluster headaches”….that no matter what it is, I can be greater if I let myself. I can be greater than anything that can happen to me. No matter how painful or devastating or tragic or sad. I have the power within to rise above it. And that goes for you as well. We can all be greater than anything that can happen to us. We don’t have to give our power to other people, situations, events, pain, things, or anything. Generally and ultimately, no circumstance, no person, no thing has power over you unless you allow it.
We have the power over ourselves. 

In some special cases, people do have the power to control us, situations get the best of us but in the long run, overall, we have the power over ourselves. We can choose to take it back when it seems to be taken away and pro-act.

Sometimes I let my pain, both physical and emotional, repress my Truth. I let it conquer me and my life’s philosophy. I let everything else, everything I know to be true to me, take the back burner and my pain prevail. But then it comes to me in my sleep because it never really left me. It’s still my Truth. It was there all along. And my dreams remind me… 

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I encourage you to listen to your dreams and your truth. Not everyone can remember their dreams at all or enough to interpret them or glean any inspirational or useful insights but if you do remember them, it’s possible a part of you deep inside is trying to tell you something. Listen. Listen to your inner Self. Not just your dreams while you sleep but your waking Truth. 
You may have values, opinions, philosophies, virtues that you generally firmly believe in or live by or want to honor and live up to eventually if you don’t already. But pain, either physical or emotional, situations, unpleasant experiences can cloud those truths and they become muddled and repressed and the pain becomes your truth instead. 
Maybe the pain tells you you can’t go on or that there’s no reason to. Maybe it tells you you’re worthless or that there’s no hope, no point, no purpose, no beauty, nothing but pain. Maybe it tells you that you aren’t good enough, beautiful enough, not equal to everyone else. Maybe it’s just so painful it feels like you have to die to end the pain, whether physical or emotional, or just curl up in solitude and give up on everything.

You can find and develop your Truth and authentic Self through reflecting, thinking, tuning in, meditating, writing, looking for evidence throughout your every day and your whole life to see what you really believe deep within, think about how you handle or have handled various situations and how you felt about the situations and how you handled them(were you sorry you reacted a certain way? Proud of your actions? Was there some sense of dissonance with how you reacted and how you felt? Did the two match up?), think about how you really feel deep inside around certain people, in certain circumstances, reaching out to others, photography if it’s your interest, searching through books, magazines, images and words and seeing what jumps out at you. What captures your heart and resonates with you? It doesn’t matter if you know why something captures you or not or if you never knew something appeals to you til now. Your deeper self knows. I got this idea off of author, Sarah Ban Breathnach, searching through magazines, stores, catalogs without the intention to buy anything, just listen closely and see what calls to you, what clothes, objects, jewelry, vacations, people… call to you? Which ones tug at your deepest parts? Which ones make your pulse speed a bit faster? Which ones make you tingle all over?….glue pictures to paper or a journal and it’s your self discovery journal/journey….keep up with it often to keep in touch with your deep inner Self who may be buried beneath layers of expectations of others or society as a whole or yourself that you think you should be, buried beneath fear, anxiety, pain, and anything else. 

Your pain is very real. But pain clouds our judgment making it not sound so we forget our authentic Self and our deeper Truth. Don’t listen to that pain when it deceives you. Definitely listen to your pain, tend to it, embrace it if you can, accept it, let it teach you and strengthen you and deepen your wisdom, but not conquer you and delude you. That’s not you. It’s part of you for sure, maybe even a significant loud part that screams in your eardrums, screams in your face. But screaming and throbbing and being loud doesn’t make it true. The true you is what deserves to be honored even when your Truth isn’t screaming and loud. It’s quiet and gentle and calm and warm and deep, whispering  inside but it’s evermore worthy of being honored than that loud, screaming pain that demands you to give up and lose all hope and joy. It’s more powerful than pain and delusions, quiet and gentle as it is.

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Sarah Ban Breathnach is amazing! I love her and she’s one of my greatest heroes, though I never met her in person. I would love to though! The book I referred to above with the self-discovery activity is “Something More – Excavating Your Authentic Self.” She also mentions self exploration and authentic Self activities in her book “Simple Abundance.”

Her books are mostly directed at women but they really can help anyone.

I wish you much love, hope, healing, happiness, and joy. And I hope you will always make the choice to honor your deeper self, your authentic Self, your Truth. Even when other people don’t like the true you, even when it’s hard to honor yourself. Always choose life, always choose you.

Xoxo Kim

Rainbows & Stars

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“When it rains look for rainbows, when it’s dark look for stars.”

So, I stumbled upon this lovely quote today! And it happens to be dark, dreary, and rainy as I write this. Lol My very favorite kind of day!

To me, chilled, dark rainy days are not gloomy and depressing as many seem to feel. I LOVE these kinds of days. They awaken something lovely inside me. I also love sunny, warm, days with clear blue skies and fluffy white clouds! I love it all. All four seasons I am blessed to know all year long.

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I complain about the weather on occasion, I confess. Lol I don’t care much to admit it but I do.  I wish I can say I *never* complain about something as stupid as the weather and I can  say that!  But it would be a lie. Lol And since that truth is kind of relevant to this post, I am here to admit it! ;-D And I’m generally very open and honest about myself. 

There are days it’s hot and I wish it were cold. There’s cold days I wish it were hot or warm(although rarely!). I don’t think there’s ever a rainy day I wish it weren’t raining though! Bring on the rain any day! It’s the same with snow! I love it! I love diversity though so it’s great that all days aren’t rainy or snowy.

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But, this quote is a beautiful and simple reminder to appreciate the things that are going well even in the midst of negativity and pain. Some situations in this life seem overwhelming and unbearable and sometimes it may seem that even if there’s good things, the bad things are currently outweighing the good. But we can’t always change our current situation immediately.

Even if the unpleasant things seem to be more deeper or prominent or frequent than the pleasant things, we can still make a conscious decision to focus more on them when we can’t change the negativity or pain or unpleasantness right away.

This develops and strengthens our habit of appreciating everything we have no matter how big or small or simple. 

This ability is like a muscle. The more we work at it, the stronger it becomes. And even after it’s developed, it must be maintained so it doesn’t diminish. We have to practice, practice, practice even when we don’t feel much like it. Just like if you build your muscles. You can’t do all that work, develop a six pack, then stop and expect it to stay! It has to become your way of life.

It’s the same with positive mental habits. And negative ones too. The more you give in and complain and over-focus on the negativity, the stronger your negative habit becomes and the stronger the hold is it has over you. 

But negative habits can be replaced and overcome!

Of course, we have to tend to and think about unpleasant things and healthy venting is often necessary but we don’t have to dwell on it. 

Even in the throes of tragedy, depression, physical illness, pain of any kind, grief and loss, serious distress, this habit can be cultivated and maintained. It will not cure our problems, take away all of the pain, but it will help us cope and see the sunny side of things or at least see the sunlight seeping through the dark rain clouds even when the situation itself has no sunny side. Metaphors, I love them! Lol 😀

It was also raining a few days ago and I got some photos of the rain! As best as I can with just a phone’s (and a broken phone 😦 ) camera.

I have been feeling my creativity blooming again. I get these “things” every now and again where I’m so incredibly inspired to do something but don’t know what or how. It seems to come more when I meditate more frequently. Or read certain things. Sometimes it just comes out of the blue. I’m currently reading a novel (mystery) about a mysterious painter. I have a feeling it’s inspiring me on some unconscious level! 

I want to create create create! Photos, paintings, poetry, writing….anything!

My wonderful phone (even though these phones break so easily and quickly like inside for seemingly no reason, they are still wonderful phones, blackberry z10) has amazing photo apps which allow me to use bokeh effects, various other effects, and text on pictures, and much more and this sparks my creativity even more. I never thought of myself as creative but I think we are all creative to some extent, in some way, some more than others and some people are more in touch with their creative side. For some it comes so naturally and so easily, it’s ridiculous. (jealous) lol! 😀

But some of us have to struggle hard to find even just a thin sliver of our creativity. (That’s usually me) oh well!   🙂

But I’m so thrilled when I get fun ideas and plans and actually execute them even when they aren’t the most beautiful creations. Creativity is another “muscle” we must keep nourishing to keep it strengthened and maintained.

Even if you don’t feel very creative or have many ideas, you can just put pen or paint to paper or take photos and see what happens! It can become easier and easier and more conscious. And creativity isn’t just for artistic stuff, it can be cresting or finding solutions to problems or anything!

I hope this quote is a sweet reminder for you to look around, look within, look up and always see, feel those rainbows and stars even through the hazy fog and darkness. 

Xoxo Kim 😀

September 21st – World Gratitude Day

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Today, September 21st, is World Gratitude Day!! Yay!! I’m not a fan of gratitude on just certain days but everyday! But it’s great to have a whole day to bring awareness to gratitude. Gratitude can be a fleeting feeling that comes out of the blue every once in a while or when something great happens or around holidays. But it can also be a way of life, a conscious habit, an intentional decision we make each and every day to experience gratitude no
matter what. When good things are happening, when bad things are happening, in happiness and in pain. In sadness and even despair. In joy, laughter, and in tears. Live it and breathe it. It’s life changing. No matter how naturally grateful we are, how easily it usually comes to us or how ungrateful we are, we can choose to consciously live in gratitude, to feel it in every cell of our bodies, in every pulsation of our hearts, in the pores of our skin, deep into the marrow of our bones. We can summon these feelings often after developing the habit of living in gratitude. We can do this by using certain techniques, meditation, gratitude journaling each day writing a list of
things we are thankful for that day or in general, gratitude photography taking a photo each day of something that inspires gratitude in us, making mental lists of all we are thankful for, sharing quotes, reading books on gratitude…

In honor of World Gratitude Day, here are a few beautiful quotes related to the concept of gratitude.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
John F. Kennedy

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
Melody Beattie

I’m thankful for a pair of shoes that feel really good on my feet; I like my shoes.

I’m thankful for the birds; I feel like they’re singing just for me when I get up in the morning… Saying, ‘Good morning, John. You made it, John.’

I’m thankful for the sea breeze that feels so good right now, and the scent of jasmine when the sun starts going down.

I’m thankful…” ~

Johnny Cash

At any given moment we can think of a list of reasons why our lives suck but at that same moment we can think of a list of reasons while our lives are simply amazing! The choice is ours. Here’s to Gratitude EVERY DAY!!

😀

Xoxo Kim

Social Media – Developing Healthy Skills and Balance

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I received a lifehack e-mail with a link to a list of reasons why social media can be detrimental to our health.

It’s titled, 
You Should Be Aware Of These 10 Effects Of Social Media On You

By Amanda Rife 

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/technology/you-should-aware-these-10-effects-social-media-you.html

Amanda Rife writes:

“Technology is a useful tool, but many people don’t know how to use it properly which can easily become damaging. As much as you may love your Twitter page is it really worth the toll it takes on your health? That’s for you to decide after you read the following 10 ways social media negatively effects your life:”

She brings up some interesting and important issues and great points with some basis of truth to them and I am elaborating and adding my own views about each one, here.

After each number is her reason why social media may be damaging to us. Under each reason is her view and under each of her views is my own opinion.

1.) Reduces person to person interaction.

Amanda Rife writes:
“Not only do you spend less quality time with is people who are physically present in your life, but they will quickly get annoyed by you when you’re paying more attention to an electronic device than them. Eventually the people around you will even stop wanting to hang out with you.”

My view: We have complete control over how frequently and in which ways we use our social media accounts and our phones, computers, laptops, ipads…and whatever else we use to connect to a social media resource. Connecting with people online and seeing people in person are both great and both have advantages that the other does not. One doesn’t have to take the place of the other one. Social media allows us to share photos, statuses, posts..and comment, tag each other in ways we can’t do in person and allows us to meet people and reconnect with people we would have never met or encountered again if not for social media. Seeing each other in person is different than seeing each other through a screen, we can hang out, look into each other’s eyes(if we can see), hear each other’s voices(if you’re a hearing person), have coffee, tea, food together, laugh together… They’re both great and we don’t have to give up one for the other. It’s all about balance. You can put your phone away when you’re out with someone in person and just because you “see” that person online everyday doesn’t mean you don’t have/want to see the person in person when you can. Social media doesn’t control you if you don’t allow it to.

2.)  Increases your cravings for attention drastically.

Amanda Rife writes:

“Posting vague statuses on Facebook to grab others attention could easily become a nasty habit for people who use social media frequently. The never ending competition for likes and notifications can consume you.”

My view: What can be said about this (and other points brought up here) goes beyond the scope of this post. Many of these are deep psychological issues/aspects that are issues that can have posts of their own. Example: What Amanda Rife states here is true for some people. They need “likes” and comments and shares to feel validated and they want competition, to get more love than others. But that’s not Social media’s fault. That’s an inner issue of the individual self. Social media just provides us with the opportunity to get that kind of attention, to get “likes,” comments, shares…and while it’s great to have that kind of attention, it’s an honor to know that people like us and our content and there’s nothing wrong with desiring it, it’s an indication of a problem to feel that we need it to make us feel worthy or important. It’s a sign of a psychological problem that needs awareness and tending to if we become literally depressed or anxious or feeling excessively low to the point it seriously affects our lives if we don’t get attention on social media. I think the inner problem is what needs to be addressed, not just push it under the rug by criticizing or getting rid of social media for it. It may be helpful to lay off the social media accounts if we are the kind of person to need attention to validate us. It may be very helpful to stay off twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blogs…but that psychological problem of ours will still be there and may manifest in other ways if we get rid of our social media accounts. It’s not social media, it’s us. Social media can be our wake-up call, to help us realize we have a problem, not caused by social media, but being triggered by the opportunities it allows. We can then use this realization to our advantage, working on and exploring problems we would have not known we have if not for social media bringing our attention to it.

3.) Distracts from life goals.

Amanda Rife writes:

“It’s so easy to get wrapped up in what’s going on in social media that people will neglect their real life goals. Instead of aiming for the dream job by obtaining useful skills people, especially younger people, tend to strive for internet stardom.”

My view: Again, this is something we have complete control over. We can use the Internet and social media for just the opposite, to inspire us and motivate us to fulfill our goals and even come up with new ones. We can meet people, discover new ideas, and have our creativity sparked by the people and things we encounter through social media. Anything can distract us so we don’t work on our goals, TV, work, laziness, and more, we can get wrapped up into anything and become a slacker, not just social media. It’s great and very effective to manage our amount of time spent on each thing that takes up part of each day, not let one take over everyday.

4.) It can lead to a higher risk of depression.

Amanda Rife writes:

“According to recent studies the more people used social media the more negative feelings they experience, including depression. This could partiulalrly harmful to people who have been previously diagnosed with depression. If you beginning to notice you’re feeling down on a regular basis it’s probably time to take a break from your many social media.”

My view: This is probably for different reasons for different people. I suspect one of the the main culprits is negative comparison. We know how our lives really are, every aspect, every event, every thought, every problem…but with everyone else, we only see what they choose to reveal. Some people only reveal the positive aspects of their lives and keep the pain and problems hidden. For some, this is because they want everyone to truly believe they have The Perfect Life, for others it’s not that they want, necessarily, to be judged as having a perfect life, but they fear being judged negatively if they complain on social media outlets, for others still, it’s not at all about coming off as being perfect but they want to use their social media accounts just for uplifting quotes and happy thoughts, as opposed to using them to vent or disclose unpleasant situations or thoughts. They just aren’t drawn to sharing their whole lives, pleasant and unpleasant. When we are struggling and we see photos, posts, and all kinds of happy updates by people who seem to have it all, this can contribute to us feeling low about our own lives. And if we are prone to true depression, it can trigger an episode or the onset of a full blown disorder. A couple of other culprits of social media contributing to depression are cyber- bullying and friend rejection, people blocking and unfriending others, not responding to requests or comments and messages. If you’re prone to depression, this can be a serious trigger. 

Giving up all of social media may be a solution for some but I think the underlying depression and/or insecurity is what mostly needs to be addressed.

5.) Relationships are more likely to fail.

Amanda Rife writes:

“No good comes out of online displays of jealousy and snooping. It may seem like an easy option when it comes to dealing with relationships, but in reality it does more damage than good. In fact, studies show that the more a person uses Facebook the more likely they will be to monitor their partner, which leads to arguments and crumbling relationships.”

My view: Again, this is not social media’s fault but the fault of the persons involved. It’s how we go about handling our circumstances while also using social media. Relationships and the use of social media are compatible. We have to use our common sense about what is wise to do and not do in terms of social media. Or learn what to do and not to do if it’s not common sense to us. It’s all about our underlying insecurities and issues, not the social media. Social media just provides us with the opportunity to see and reveal all kinds of stuff that can bring out our insanity if we allow it to. We don’t need social media to spy on or stalk people, it just makes it easier to engage in those unhealthy things. If we feel a strong desire or need to obsessively monitor our lover every second of every day , the problem is either us or the lover. Maybe I’m very insecure and my lover is trustworthy. Or maybe I’m not overly insecure but he is being really suspicious and there is some reasonable explanation for my monitoring.

But the true underlying problems would likely be there with or without social media because they lie within us. They are what need to be addressed.

6.) Excessive use of social media stunts creativity.

Amanda Rife writes:

“I can speak from personal experience that social media is the easiest way to stunt, or kill, the creative process. Surfing social media sites, especially Tumblr. in this scenario, has a numbing effect on the mind that’s similar to mindlessly watching television. If you plan on being productive today shut off those apps!”

My view: This definitely has some truth to it and the word “excessive” is the key word here. Nothing is good in excessive amounts, that’s why it’s excessive! It’s also about being mindful and active in all that we do. Mindlessly scrolling through a bunch of mindless drivel thrown about by others is bound to numb anyone’s creativity and decrease our IQ a few points! But when we are mindful of what we’re reading or looking at and fully engaged, our creativity can deepen and we can come up with new ideas. While looking at pics on Tumblr, reading blog posts, Facebook statuses, or anything else, it will benefit you to pay close attention to what you are doing, thinking, feeling, reading. Is it serving you well? Is it inspiring you, motivating you, challenging you? Do you feel peaceful, calm, happy? Or is it just mind numbing stuff you’re surfing through because you feel you have nothing better to do? If so, you definitely have better things you can be doing! Finding something else to read or look at, meditate, tune into your surroundings, the scents, the feelings, the sounds, the colors and textures…your possibilities are endless.

7.) Cyber bullying is alive and well.

Amanda Rife writes:

“People feel too comfortable on the web and say things they wouldn’t normally say in real life. If you’re not the one say horrible things, you’re still inevitably going to be exposed to it. And if you are one of the people talking trash? Cut it out! You’re not as anonymous as you think. With the rampant cyber bullying on the web, people are also becoming more rude off the web as well.” 

My view: This is so true. Cyber-bullying is something we have little control over for the most part. For those of us who aren’t cyber-bullies, we still have to witness it or just really negative, uncalled for comments everywhere. Have you seen the YouTube comments on even the most inspiring, positive, beautiful, uplifting videos?! Good grief, they’re horrible. I rarely even read the comments because they’re so dumb and uncalled for. Internet trolls are everywhere and unfortunately here to stay. I suggest you don’t feed them. It’s what they want. So let’s let them starve. They are people who feel so low about themselves and their own lives so they insist on attempting to drag others down with them.

And it can crush our spirit to see even when it’s not happening to us, personally. Being a witness to uncalled for negativity can be so life-draining. But we can develop habits and skills to not let it get to us to the point it’s overwhelming and leads us to depression or anxiety. We can stand un-buffeted against the negative attention seekers who get off on inflicting pain upon others just for thrills. Focus on your own positive qualities and all the love and positivity you receive and remember as much as it sucks being bullied or being the target of cruelty, it has to suck way more being a bully. To sink to that level, there has to be something seriously wrong. Pay the callous comments no mind, I suggest you don’t respond to bullies directly but when you see it happening to someone, you can write positive things to the person to uplift her/him.

8.) Constantly comparing yourself to others online will make you miserable.

Amanda Rife writes:

“The digital persona people display on Facebook is often much different that what actually goes on in their lives. After awhile you may feel like you know your online aquainences better than you do, creating a social gap. Try to remember that everyone is just as human as you are.”

My view: Like I said in response to #4 about depression, negative comparisons aren’t good. It’s not healthy for us. When we’re comparing ourselves negatively to others we’re either making ourselves out to not be as good or making ourselves out to somehow be above the other person/people. It’s uncalled for. We all have good things and bad things and it’s all about our attitude. We can’t control what other people put on social media but we can control our own attitudes and reactions. Like Amanda Rife says, we are all equally human. Focus on the goodness of yourself. Bask in your own beauty while truly, relishing the beauty of others. 

Let other people’s happiness, accomplishments, success, and beauty inspire you and motivate you, not depress you or trigger jealousy.

If you really feel utterly miserable because of someone else on social media accounts, analyze yourself, think about why this is. Do you feel like you are lacking in some respects? Missing out? Then do something to fulfill yourself. It doesn’t matter what others think. Do what you have to to bring joy to yourself as long as you are not hurting or directly interfering with others. And if someone is trying to intentionally make others jealous, unhappy, miserable, you can unfriend, block, ignore that person and get on with your own life.

9.) Loss of sleep.

Amanda Rife writes:

“The light emitted from your various electronic screens tricks your mind into thinking it’s not time for you to sleep. Getting enough sleep each night is already difficult enough without extra complications. Perhaps it’s best if your phone doesn’t stay with you though the night.”

My view: This is true but has nothing to do with social media itself, really. If we have our phones by our side in bed, we may see the little flashing lights, hear beeping or other sounds, or just be so tempted to check Facebook and other things. Over and over and over. But this has to do with discipline. Self control. Get into the habit of sleeping at night, not playing with phones. If it’s really too difficult, the phone can be put in a different room while going to sleep to make the temptation less irresistible.

After a while it becomes a habit. Then it will be easier and easier to resist until eventually your brain is trained to not think of that phone and Facebook or Twitter at night. 

10.) Lack of privacy.

Amanda Rife writes:

“Between social media websites saving (and selling) your personal data and the whole NSA mess involving unsolicited government access of personal data including email, Skype calls, and so much more it’s very clear that privacy and the internet don’t mix at this point in time. If you post every last thought that pops into your head it could just as easily come back to haunt you in the future.”

My view: This is really very simple. Don’t ever put on social media, anywhere including what you think are personal e-mails or inbox messages, what you don’t want everyone to see. Even if your account is blocked so only people on your list can see, someone, somewhere, can get access to it if those people really want to. Once you put something out there, it’s out there for good, somewhere, even if you delete it and it looks like it’s gone. It can be retrieved. People can get into your e-mail box and any other thing you have on the Internet. Whatever you would never want others to see, keep it to yourself or tell someone in person if you can. Any other way is not safe. But this is a choice. When we put something stupid out there, it’s on us. It’s not Social media’s wrongdoing, it’s ours. Many people don’t realize that when we put something out there into cyber-world, it’s here to stay. They think it can be easily removed because there are “delete” buttons so it’s important to educate people.

Social media itself isn’t the problem. It’s how we use it and perceive it. Social media is limited in its power over us. It mostly only has the power we allow it to have. We can empower ourselves to have a healthy, balanced, positive relationship to social media and those people we connect with online.

We can greatly benefit by developing healthy skills and habits and cultivate a positive attitude about ourselves, each other, and social media. Social media provides us with amazing opportunities and has much potential for great things. We don’t have to give it up to avoid all our problems that arise while using it. It’s ourselves we need to work on.

It’s not the use of social media that is the problem, it’s misuse.

I’m very thankful Amanda Rife brought up these important issues. It is crucial to address them in this age of social media where so many feel that it has a power and mind of its own, where people feel like victims in the face of struggles made possible by social media. Social media is a blessing, certainly not without its negative consequences and distress in some cases, but it’s definitely a positive thing if we allow it to be and use it wisely.
,
Xoxo Kim 

My Inner Springtime

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I have been working on this for days! And here it is!! 😀

http://www.positivelypresent.com/2014/03/inner-spring.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+PositivelyPresent+(positively+present)

Positively Present(the link above), by Dani Dipirro, is a lovely little place on the net with an abundance of positivity and inspiration to bask in. I subscribed to her e-mail updates a while ago. She came up with a wonderful idea to create an inner Springtime.   You know how Spring is the rebirth of your world around you after what may seem like a long, cold, barren Winter? It can also be metaphorical for rebirth and inner growth, as you may already know.   I love Winter and every season. They all have their own unique beauty and blessings that the other three do not.   And I am blessed to live in a place with four beautiful seasons.  But the Winter cold can be painful and it’s hard to stay out long in that. To me, it often seems urgent like I have to hurry out of the cold after a while. It’s hard to walk and take photos in that weather while shaking in the frigid Winter air. I know many people just don’t like the gray.   And the Winter lack and the light can have a biochemical effect on the brain chemistry of people, contributing to depression or just a low mood.   I wouldn’t give up beautiful Winter for anything though! I like the cold, the gray, the bare branches on trees…

Every year I warmly welcome Winter

But

I also love when Winter melts into Spring and each year I am very ready for Spring as Winter is coming to a close. The sunlight, the warm lingering daylight, the blossoming green and scented flowers…. Dani Dipirro shares her list on her website for how to create our own little Spring no matter what it’s like out there. What a wonderful idea!

I decided to write my own list, trying not to steal any of her exact ideas! Lol   She has amazing ideas on her list! Be sure to check them out! Some of her ideas are: create a gratitude list, re-read a book, watch a Spring themed movie, play with a dog, cat, or child….

She inspires me so much, so frequently! 

Again, here’s her post with her list!

http://www.positivelypresent.com/2014/03/inner-spring.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+PositivelyPresent+(positively+present

So here’s mine!

1.) Try to think back to a song you once loved and listened to often then forgot all about it. 
Download the song and listen. Feel the emotions and memories come flooding back. If you need help remembering your song, think of different ages or stages, years, seasons that have come and gone. Think of old music bands you haven’t heard any songs by in a long while.  Can you remember any long lost songs? 
One of my favorite feelings in the world is rediscovering a beautiful song I haven’t heard in years!

Check this out:
http://www.bobborst.com/popculture/top-100-songs-of-the-year/?year=1964

It has a tab with a long list of years and you can choose a year and then read a list of top songs for that year!

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2.) Try to find a quote you haven’t heard of before. A quote about a topic close to your heart. Maybe a quote about hope and healing, love, gratitude, being and staying motivated? You can search for a quote book or just look online for lists of inspirational quotes.

Here, you will find a wellspring of quotes and inspiration: 
http:www.joyprogram.com

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3.) Maybe a little redecorating! Or Spring cleaning!   This will be a good one for me since I tend to get my room cluttered with books and clothes.   Set out things that make you happy, maybe Spring themed things like flowers, pastel colors, bunnies….

4.) Light a beautiful candle with a light fragrance if you aren’t allergic or have breathing difficulties.   Lavender, citrus, cotton or linen, cherry….MmmmMmm!!
Different fragrances are believed to be great for different things.   Lavender is good for depression and sleep disorders, anxiety and fear. Vanilla is good for stress, Lemon is good for sadness and grief, Clary Sage is good for fatigue……certain scents are just uplifting and can inspire a good mood!  
 Open your window, let your curtains blow in the gentle breeze and invite the promise of Spring into your heart. 
And check this out for aromatherapy mood blends:
http://www.aromatherapy.com/mood_blends.html

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5.) Do some random act of kindness for someone anonymously.   Maybe you know someone in need of some cheering up. Send an anonymous card or flowers, help pay for something…

6.) Pay someone a genuine and sweet compliment either in person or online.

7.) do an arts and craft project. My favorite is to write a quote or song lyrics and decorate it!

8.) Buy or download a book you are interested in and never read yet.

9.) Girls and men and anyone else who love/s to wear makeup and/or new hairstyles, try a new hairstyle/color or makeup look that you have been afraid to try, if that’s the kind of thing you’re interested in. I love makeup and hair and for makeup, I like trying different eyeshadow colors and stuff but my hair is always the same.   Either put up in hair ties or long and flowing around my waist. I never care to change the color or length/general style.  Some people do want to but need a little push. It can be scary thinking about changing a part of ourselves, even something like just a hair style/color which can be reversed and isn’t really a serious life decision.   Anyone contemplating any change, big or small, permanent or not can use some encouragement/support. But it’s ultimately up to you.

10.) Search for a new park or cafe or bookstore. It doesn’t actually have to be new. Maybe new to you or one you haven’t been to in a while.

11.) Step outside your comfort zone. Maybe read a kind of book you don’t usually read. Do an activity you probably won’t be good at. Try a new style of clothing, try food you never tried, try to learn a few phrases in a language you don’t know to speak good in, do something you feel way too shy to do, push yourself, I find that this opens me and I become less shy and more open to even more ideas….

12.) Live in the present moment. Here and now. For an entire day or part of a day, forget about later. Forget about tomorrow and what you “have” to do. Be grateful for THIS moment. Bask in the beauty of your life. Maybe you can mindfully watch a movie, eat something while savoring every taste, texture, sensation…, doing a mindfulness, walking meditation 

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13.) Reminisce about things long gone. Remember beautiful things, places, people, pets….you once knew.   Feel the beauty of love they fill/ed in you, feel the sting of loss, the sweet sadness of nostalgia….it’s bittersweet.

14.) Create a long list of all the reasons your life is amazing right now.   No matter what you want and don’t yet or will never have. Focus on the current goodness.

15.) Share a quote you love with someone. Anyone.

16.) Write a positive, uplifting, or thought-provoking message that can apply to people in general. You can sign your first name, nick name or not sign it and have more mystery.  Fold up the paper and leave it somewhere for a random person to find. On a seat in a restaurant or bus or train.   On a park bench, on a random house step(hopefully you don’t get flagged for littering! Lol you can tell them it’s my fault, I will take the responsibility lmao), on a shelf in a store, in the pages of a book in a used book store. It may seem kind of creepy but it may be just what someone needs to read. It can brighten someone’s day! It can be a quote or any short but sweet, positive, little message!

17.) Do something by yourself that you don’t usually do alone. A movie theatre, restaurant, buy yourself flowers…Love your own company! 
I often had trouble with this because I suffer with depression and there were some years where I had no true friends and was frequently, physically alone like in college some years , during the breaks in the middle of the day. While I love my own company and have fun alone and with people, even when I had true friends, being alone outside would make me depressed and sad sometimes and excruciatingly lonely.   But it’s amazing to learn to love and cherish your moments you have alone. You don’t always need people around to have fun and not be lonely. 

18.) Make a long list of things you like about you, physically or not. You may not consciously know you have things you like about yourself but look at you. Look within and look at your body. Maybe you’ll discover new things you like that you never realized. Think of your opinions, your compassion, your kindness, your eyes, your heart, your uniqueness,  Try not to think in terms of better or worse and just focus on what is.   Like how someone else has it better or that yours can be worse. Look at you currently and love you!  Also try not to think of it as being conceited. Self love is great! It may seem unnatural first but you’ll get the hang of it! 😀

19.) think of a habit you would like to develop and begin it now or tonight. Maybe you want to start going to sleep earlier, putting healthier food into your body instead of junk, take one hour or more a day just for you, learn about a new topic, exercise regularly…

20.) adopt a dog, cat, bunny, or whatever fur/feather/reptile… baby you want!

21.) Step outside and wonder at the incredible beauty and greatness that Nature is. And look at the incredible, beautiful structure of buildings.   Look at the veins in the leaves. Go weak at the knees at the astounding gift of life. Look at the sky and marvel at the colors, designs, textures, everything….tap into full awareness of your senses. Don’t just look and know. Feel. Feel at a deeper level. Fall into the depths of mindfulness and beauty. Come alive.

22.) do some stretches that are safe for you. You can find many tips and steps on YouTube. 

23.) Remember not to be jealous of or depressed over anyone else’s beauty or success.  You, too, have gifts and accomplishments.    There will always be those with more and those with less. And that’s ok.  Celebrate their fortunes as well as your own.

24.) try a guided imagery meditation.   I took a counseling class in college for meditation and used to do stuff like this in therapy some years ago.
Here’s one for pain byMagical Meditations:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rPtsVkfTEWY

This is the mobile link. It’s complicated to get the desktop link on my phone and it messes things up. I hope you can find it on your computer if you’re interested! 
I love this. It’s for physical and emotional pain. You can find ones on YouTube for pain, sleep, relaxation, gratitude, and more!

I love when the person guiding the meditation has a different accent than me. Lol

25.) search for an old/classic novel or play if you’re into reading and download it for free! They’re no longer copyrighted so you can find them free and legally online. Usually in text or pdf version!
Over 40,000 free ebooks here!!

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/32707?msg=welcome_stranger

26.) find an obscure poem, drawing, painting, or something of that sort and try different ways of interpreting it! Or think of an opinion you have on something and try to imagine having a different or opposing view on it.   What must that be like? You don’t have to change your views but it’s fun imagining and also can teach us to develop deeper compassion and empathy.

27.) create a life philosophy if you don’t already have one! I can’t stress enough how much this has helped me heal and to be a better being than I have ever been. I haven’t written my entire life philosophy out yet, just parts of it. But I will write more. A life philosophy will help guide you on your life journey.   It can grow, expand, and change as you do, please don’t let it restrain you. It doesn’t have to be written in stone but write it in your heart. Make it strong and firm enough to hold you, guide you, and ground you when you falter and fall. Don’t let it imprison you but let it guide you. If you ever find that you outgrow your life philosophy, let your life philosophy grow right along with you.  
My basic life philosophy is to make certain thoughts, feelings, and concepts my general way of life as opposed to just feeling them occasionally or only when I feel like it or when it’s most easy and convenient for me.   It is designed by me to help me be the best me I can be for myself and everyone I impact in any way, not to be a perfectionist but to be better in ways that matter most.
Not to tell people what is best for them ever but to be sure my words and actions are always for the better and never to intentionally or thoughtlessly hurt, destroy, or drag people down.
  I choose to make kindness, love, gratitude, hope, and compassion my way of life. Even when it hurts. Even when people do me wrong. Even  when people are not kind and compassionate for me and others, even when they don’t appreciate my gratitude for them and return it. I choose to remind myself over and over how beautiful life itself is even when it hurts. I choose to never give up.   Not give up on life or myself.   All of these thoughts, feelings, and beliefs often come to us and are easy now and then but it’s so easy to crumble and give up on them sometimes. A life philosophy, to be effective to the fullest must be practiced and maintained every single day.   Like I said before sometimes I am so tempted to give up on it and it goes out the Window when I’m in serious pain but it’s ingrained in me enough so I always find my way back to it soon enough. Find quotes, songs, writings, blogs, books, people, memories….to confirm and help you nurture your life philosophy.  Meditate upon it. Write about it in blogs or journals. Apply it to your real life experiences.  
My physical pain disorder and my depressive disorder helped me strengthen and deepen my own life philosophy by testing me.
Just like a muscle when it’s exercised, it gets stronger. My life philosophy deepens with experience, both pleasant and unpleasant. 
This can help you so so much to be happier, stronger, comforted, and have your life more organized. 
Write down the basic tenets of your life philosophy today.
 I came across this idea because I attended college for Philosophy and graduated with the B.A. In it.   So many people say Philosophy is useless and no point in taking it in college. But I took it just for fun and it is not useless or just for academic purposes.    It can help us think more clearly and develop better reasoning abilities.   There are even self-help/personal development Philosophy books designed to help us apply philosophical concepts to our own lives.  Anyway you don’t have to know anything at all about the academic field of Philosophy or go to college to develop your life philosophy or even necessarily read a self-help book.   They can all be supplements.  And you can learn so much about philosophers and their philosophies online. Much of it is old and not copyrighted. 
We even have our own ten commandments! The Ten Commandments of Philosophy!
Check it out:

https://sites.google.com/site/degatzia/thetencommandmentsofphilosophy

But really, all you have to do is think of qualities you would love to have or strengthen in yourself.   Think of qualities you adore in other people, think of thoughts that help you. What are your values? Virtues? Principles? Strong beliefs? Think them through and put them together to develop the basic foundation of your own life philosophy.   As I have said though, it’s ok to change it when/if your core beliefs and values change but it’s good not to let depression, fear, pain, negativity change it in a negative way like make you decide to kick it to the curb for good or for too long. After it becomes your Way and is deeply ingrained in you, it will be much easier to live by.

I hope you will begin to develop your basic life philosophy today. You can add to it everyday.   It may always be a work in progress, not a complete destination.  Just like you yourself.   And that’s for the best. We’re always learning, evolving, becoming and it’s interesting that way!

Here’s an idea for a life handbook:

http://personalexcellence.co/blog/create-your-life-handbook/

Also, here’s a list of Philosophy texts online :
http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/subjectstart?B

And for your amusement :

Unsolvable problems in philosophy/unanswerable questions 

http://io9.com/5945801/8-philosophical-questions-that-well-never-solve

http://a-misconception.blogspot.com/2010/09/list-of-unsolved-philosophy-problems.html?m=1

http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/ETERQUES.html

And here you have free access to an online textbook “Introduction to Philosophy.”

http://www.qcc.cuny.edu/SocialSciences/pPecorino/INTRO_TEXT/default.htm

28.) Do you want to be wildly entertained and put your intellectual skills to use?!  And also be pulling out your hair?! You’re in luck!   Check out these fascinating legal puzzlers!! They will blow your mind. And seriously, they have no definite conclusions! You may think you have it all figured out but there’s always more thoughts and conclusions out there, it is tantalizing! And I wouldn’t have it any other way! ;-D In college, Temple University,  in my philosophy of law class, we were introduced to some of these!

http://people.brandeis.edu/~teuber/puzz1.html

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