Life is a grand mystery, designed to bring out the best in all of us. There’s immense potential in every individual. We are all different and seek to experience life in our own distinctive way. But in order to tap into our intrinsic potential, we need clarity, direction and a sense of purpose, things that are lacking sorely in our over-communicated age. Today, we find ourselves overwhelmed with all the choices, ideas and values that we are exposed to. Easy access to information has not made it any easier—on the contrary there is even more confusion, more noise in our already overcrowded mind-space.
In such a scenario, don’t you wish that there was someone who could, gently but firmly, help you to come unstuck? Someone who could tell you exactly how you can become and stay healthy; deepen your relationships; be a better parent; lose weight; sleep better; improve your work performance; find your personal meaning and purpose…
Perhaps living would’ve been easier if life came with a manual, you think. Well, here we are, with—dare we say?—a mini-manual for life.
Over the past 10 years or so, we have had the privilege of featuring transformational wisdom from some of the kindest and brightest teachers of life, each sharing practical insights to help us live better. Most of the ideas that these stalwarts generously shared with us are worth more than their weight in gold. They have, in each of them, the potential to transform lives. That is why we decided to assemble some of the best ideas into one mega feature. If there ever was a life manual, it would be like this one—crisp, sensible and powerful.
A multidimensional advice that will put you right on track—to live your best life. So go ahead and nourish your soul. And don’t forget to bookmark this page so that you can come back whenever you feel the need to recharge your spirit.
~HEALTH AND VITALITY~
01 Exercise is easy to accommodate
You can accumulate 30 minutes in 10- or 15-minute sessions throughout the day. What’s important is to include physical activity as part of a regular routine. However, don’t get pulled into thinking that all exercise should be high-intensity activity. Even moderate-intensity activities, when performed daily, can have long-term health benefits. Here are some examples: gardening and yard work, housework, dancing, playing frisbee, playing catch with the dog, horseback riding.
—Scott Isaacs & Frederic Vagnini
Mission X, September 2011
02 Your 30-year advantage
The best tonic for the heart is exercise. Exercise is a 30-year age advantage. A fit 80-year-old has the same mechanical advantage for the heart as does an unfit 50 year old. What medicine can match that claim?
—Walter Bortz II
Dare to be 100, February 2011
03 Take up a positive habit
It is far better to take up healthy practices than to give up unhealthy habits. This is especially true in the beginning of a change programme when you are seeking to enhance the quality of your lifestyle. It is wiser, for instance, to take up a satisfying activity that gives early positive results, such as vigorous daily walking for an hour or more, than to struggle to refrain from smoking. Of course, doing both is best.
Move over health, wellness is here, July 2011
04 Age is a mind game
Society may categorise your years numerically and put you into an age zone which may term you as aged. But, real age, for you, is in your mind. If you think young, you’ll look young. If you have a happy and peaceful mind, the lines of stress won’t show on you.
Young at heart, April 2007
05 Nourishment inside-out
Being truly healthy, fit and vibrantly energised is the sum total of all that we do, each and every day—physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Your daily habits must nourish your body, mind, heart and soul.
5 keys to maximum energy and vitality!, June 2013
06 Relaxation works wonders
Just as the body has an automatic process to prepare it for a “flight or fight” situation, it can also go into what is called the “relaxation response”. But it takes a conscious effort to experience it. During relaxation, our blood pressure decreases, breathing becomes regular and the metabolic rate falls down, allowing the body to recover from the strains placed on it by everyday life. A prolonged period of relaxation also increases the body’s secretion of particular mood-altering chemicals, which lead to feelings of happiness and contentment.
Freedom from stress, December 2007
07 Include yourself in your priorities
Are you running on full tank or are you running on the illusion of a full tank? Do you let your tank become empty before you fill it up again and therefore run the risk of stalling out? Do you let your light go out because you don’t have enough oil in your inner lamp? In short, where do you put yourself on the list of priorities in your life? Too often we relegate our needs to the bottom of the list, if we’re on the list at all. We take care of our duties and obligations to others first and use the energy that’s left over for ourselves. But, truthfully, how often is there any energy left over?
As within so without, May 2011
08 Exercise your mind and your body
If you work at a desk all day, don’t sit in front of TV all night. Do something active. If your job is physical, or involves being on your feet or running around, relax and exercise your mind [like reading a book] during the off hours. If your work involves both mental and physical aspects, try alternating the two throughout the day. What this does is add balance and vitality to your life. It’s more energising, stress-reducing and healthier overall. It’s easy to get stuck in a single monotonous mode—like moving from chair to chair all day—and suppress your other self. It’s essential to exercise both your mind and body.
— G. Gaynor McTigue
The take-it-easy list, January 2011
09 How do you feel inside?
Mental health and mental peace are more important than physical fitness. If you accept yourself and feel good about it, you will remain fit. Whether you are fat or thin, short or tall, dark or fair—at the end of the day it does not really matter as long as you like yourself, accept yourself. What matters is how you are on the inside.
“I love my life the way it is”, March 2009
10 Laugh—it strengthens your immunity
When we laugh, extra oxygen is brought into the body. The advantage of this is that it strengthens the immune system and releases endorphins, which are natural painkillers your body makes, and the combination makes us energised and happy. Laughter that comes from the belly also dispels stagnant air from the lungs and replaces it with fresh vital energy the same way pranayama [yogic breathing] exercises do.
No laughing matter, August 2013
11 Less sleep can make you fat
Believe it or not, obesity and sleep are linked. Our body is designed to perform certain functions during our sleep, so if you cut down on that, you upset a natural process. The body’s ability to process glucose also decreases with fewer hours of sleep.
Sleep problems? Listen to your body, August 2013
12 Stop counting calories
I think the real challenge for all of us is to stop thinking in terms of numbers. In our career, we must give more importance to job satisfaction and less to the salary package. In our relationships, love and compatibility must precede everything else. But look at the matrimonial ads—they are all about numbers: weight, height, salary and so on. When it comes to food, we are paranoid about ‘number of calories’, whereas we must actually think in terms of whether the food we are eating is nourishing my body, mind and soul. Only when we begin to think about food in the right way, will we become more sensible about what we eat instead of being as frivolous about it as we
Eat more to lose weight, October 2010
13 Your body knows best
We all have our craving for comfort foods in times of stress, which could even be unhealthy food like colas and chips. So, it is necessary to understand whether the food craving we feel is physical or emotional. If the craving is emotional, just a taste will suffice and I don’t have to finish the whole tub of ice cream. If physical, my body will indicate what food to eat and how much it needs. I only need to listen.
“I can find happiness in any situation”, July 2009
14 Your excess weight is your teacher
Appreciate the lessons that your excess weight is offering you. Your excess weight is like a bell whose sound reminds you that your past actions and way of living, did not serve you well. You can liberate yourself from the imprisonment, struggle, and burden of your weight. Though you are not solely responsible for your current state, YOU are the only one who is able to change it. You must act for yourself. No one else can do this for you. The first step is to be aware that you are choosing to change.
—Thich Nhat Hahn & Lilian Cheung
Yes! You can lose weight, December 2012
15 Setbacks are always temporary
Losing weight is a journey that is wrought with ups and downs. Surviving the ups—the victories—is easy, but those who reach their weight goals are the people who weather the downs and spring back from setbacks. The probability of achieving your goals is directly related to the way you account for your setbacks. To rebound effectively, you must remind yourself that setbacks are temporary, confined to the particular instance at hand, and not due to personal incompetence. In other words, you must learn to think like an optimist!
The secret of successful weight-loss, December 2011
16 Never leave home without it
A good night’s sleep is the best way to start your day—don’t leave home without it!
Clear your sleep debt, September 2012
17 Can’t survive without it
Sleep is more important than sex. It’s possible to channel the libidinal instinct and survive effectively. But you can’t make a habit of depriving yourself of sleep and hope to survive for long.
Sleep Thieves, June 2012
18 Don’t sleep with that thought
Never go to sleep with the thought that you are utterly exhausted. Not only will the desperate desire for rest often drive sleep away, [simply because desperation is the antithesis of repose] but the mental affirmation of exhaustion will be carried into the subconscious, and will affect even your wakefulness the next day.
Sleep like Yogis, December 2012
19 Sleeping is not something you ‘do’
Good sleepers don’t ‘try’ to do anything and one thing is certain, if you try to fall asleep you will not succeed. This is because sleeping is not something you have to ‘do’. It might be more accurate to describe falling asleep as something you do not do. Trying to fall asleep is a little like pushing really hard against a door which needs to be pulled—it’s never going to open until you stop pushing.
12 blunders insomniacs make, May 2014
20 Work and bedroom are incompatible
The moment you step into your bedroom, it should induce a relaxing feeling in your mind and body. An orderly bedroom pleases the eyes. Keep your work away from your bedroom. When you work in your bedroom, your mind finds it difficult to ‘switch-off’ and get into sleep mode.
Bedroom rules, October 2013
21 Why you should dump those pills
We should remember that it is during deep sleep that the body releases immune-boosting substances, while it gets detoxified and repaired. An occasional sleeping pill may be the answer for sporadic insomnia, but after years of dependence on sleeping pills, health can be subtly, but seriously damaged.
Healing Power of Sleep, July 2007
22 How many hours of sleep do I really need?
The number of hours one must sleep to feel refreshed varies from person to person. Some can get just four hours of sleep and lead a healthy life, while others need up to 10 hours. So, rather than following some ‘norm’, ask yourself when you wake up, “do I feel tired or fresh?” The amount of sleep that refreshes you is the sleep that you should get.
False alarm, November 2011
23 Communicate right away
If you feel your team member has done something that was incorrect, it is appropriate to take immediate action and respond. The correct method is to look at the person and say directly [and, kindly] what is on your mind, or what problems you see occurring from their behaviours. It can’t be fixed if it isn’t shared.
Harmony Rules, November 2006
24 Focus gets things going
Psychic and physical forces are automatically mobilised with a focus and rapidly dispersed and exhausted without one. What’s the purpose… for this meeting, this proposal, this vacation, this department, this desk, this job? What are we trying to do? Where are we going? Clear answers to these questions create energy which produces results with less effort. But it takes focus to direct a focus. Unattended, distraction creeps in like a thief in the night.
Sack your workload, November 2008
25 Multitasking equals mediocrity
I came across this interesting piece of research, which said that just picking up your phone for a few seconds to check an SMS while doing a task causes you to lose your original trail of attention. And it takes 11 minutes for you to regain focus. So can you imagine the kind of mediocre output a distracted mind produces?
Multitasking: The worst work habit, March 2012
26 Flexibility is a sign of strength
The strongest branches on the tree are the ones that can bend without breaking in the fierce winds. The branches that refuse to bend are the ones that snap off quickly and get tossed to the ground. Being flexible and adapting to cultural norms is not a sign of helplessness, but being strong and business savvy.
Feeling fenced in?, December 2013
27 Every once in a while, simply step back
Burnout happens when we give too much, neglect our own wellbeing, chain ourselves to our expectations, become sour and allow our emotions to lock us into a view that is depressing. We can overcome burnout by learning to witness to our situation—standing back and setting emotions aside so we can see what is really going on. This allows us to re-perceive the situation, and make clear and healthy choices that can move us out of burnout and into wellbeing.
Don’t Burnout!, February 2007
28 Break the monotony
All of us need to ‘vacate’ ourselves from our jobs and the wear and tear of the ‘everydayness’ of our lives. All of us need to get absorbed in, focused on, something of interest outside of ourselves. All of us need escape, if only for a while, to retain our perspective on who we are and who we don’t want to be. All of us need to gain some feeling for, some knowledge of, the differences between distraction and insight, merriment and meaning, entertainment and recreation, laziness and leisure, rest and inertia.
The urgent importance of leisure, April 2012
29 Keep your desk uncluttered
If your desk is cluttered and you can never find what you want when you want it, re-organise it. Being able to instantly reach for a report or a pen when you need it helps the mind remain calm and balanced.
Working with Zen, February 2013
30 Expect more, get more
The funny thing about life is that the more you expect the best of people and give them room to be themselves without suffocating them with your expectations, the more they will surprise you.
—Srikumar S Rao
What do you notice?, January 2013
31 Don’t fight fire with fire
Rather than isolating backstabbing or undercutting incidences as ‘office politics’ [which is more of a fancy term], it’s better to think of it as part of human relationships. As long as there are people, there will be politics, simply because politics is a result of people with conflicting agendas, in competition for power and opportunities, and who do not subscribe to the notion of playing ‘fair’.
Some people believe in reacting to backstabbing by doing the same to the backstabber. But that’s fighting fire with fire. Seemingly enticing, this method isn’t the best way to go, as it will only result in a bloody aftermath. While you may inflict harm on the other person, you are only lowering yourself to a behaviour which you detest in the first place. Remember the Golden Rule, which is not to do onto others what you don’t want others to do onto you.
Betrayed at work?, April 2013
32 Leadership is a people business
One of the greatest mistakes leaders make is spending too much time in their offices and not enough time out among the people. Leaders are often agenda driven, task focussed, and action oriented because they like to get things done. They hole up in their offices, rush to meetings, and ignore everyone they pass in the halls along the way. What a mistake! First and foremost, leadership is a people business. If you forget the people, you’re undermining your leadership, and you run the risk of having it erode away. Then one day, when you think you’re leading, you’ll turn around and discover that nobody is following and you’re only taking a walk.
Walk slowly through the halls, May 2013
33 Are you inspiring your people?
If you spend your days in inspiring and developing talent, encouraging the discouraged, helping them do what they never thought was possible… they are going to wow their customers, they’re going to be more productive, they’re going to meet their vision, they’re going to give their heart and soul to your business. What’s that going to do to the profitability?
Victims make excuses; Leaders deliver results, April 2013
34 What makes people tick
An organisation that truly cares about the employees’ personal aims and development in all areas of their life, beyond its own institutional aims, inspires them; its employees then see their work not just as a means of keeping a roof over their head. They see it as a vehicle to build their lives as a whole and achieve their dreams. This is what ensures a rich working environment of motivation, purpose, loyalty, trust and high levels of commitment, where people pour their heart and soul into their work, as against arriving reluctantly to give their heads and hands.
Put people first, July 2013
35 Leaders are not control freaks
By having complete control over the team and issuing commands, some leaders get the sense that they have a better grip on the situation and can do things ‘their way’. In truth—and extensive research supports this—dictatorial leadership stifles innovation and people actually perform better when they are trusted to perform well.
What a leader is not, September 2012
36 Respect the other’s viewpoints
You could spend your entire life trying to win over people to your point of view. The simple truth is, you won’t. At least, not everyone. Even if you present the most logical, rational, airtight arguments, some people will never see it your way. Maybe they’re proud, stubborn, stupid, or in some instances—did you ever stop to think?—right. Don’t waste your time trying to convert the diehards. Instead, work with them, live with them, respect their differences, and be thankful the world isn’t full of people exactly like you.
—G. Gaynor McTigue
The take-it-easy list, January 2011
37 Differences are interesting
When we relate with someone who is different than we are [read, everybody], there are two paths open to us—the Zen path and the normal path. The normal path is to look at the differences, and declare the other person ‘wrong’. The Zen path is to look at differences, and say, “Interesting variation”. The adult path is to be curious, and to enjoy variety.
Leave loners alone, May 2012
38 This is how you give feedback
When giving feedback, ask yourself: will this feedback be useful and can this person do anything about it? If the answer to both is yes, go ahead and give it. Pay attention to your tone and timing and make your words digestible. Once you have given your feedback resist the temptation to repeat yourself. Allow the person to absorb it and take action.
The Feedback formula, June 2012
39 Incompatibility is inevitable
Some attempt to avoid people problems by matching themselves with like-minded others, the assumption being that compatibility makes problems less frequent or less difficult to resolve. Compatibility certainly has its place, but the ability to handle the inevitable incompatibilities is far more important to the success of a relationship.
The survival kit to thorny relationships, May 2012
40 Life means conversations
The most important thing is to be aware that misunderstandings can arise, and with them tempers, when no one is crazy and no one is unkind and no one is intentionally dishonest. We can learn to stop and remind ourselves that others may not mean what we heard them say. Life is a matter of dealing with other people, in little matters and cataclysmic ones, and that means a series of conversations.
Talking sense, September 2013
41 Different rules of communication
Remember this rule of thumb: To solve conflict problems with reasonable people, we should talk more. To solve conflict problems with unreasonable people, we should talk less and act more. Conversations with reasonable people can accomplish something, but conversations with unreasonable people accomplish nothing. We can’t reason with an unreasonable person. They ‘win’ by keeping us frustratingly embroiled in the verbal battle.
The survival kit to thorny relationships, May 2012
42 Listen with your whole being
Instead of trying to convince the person of our point of view, what if we tried listening empathetically? Empathy means trying to understand what the other is experiencing. It calls on us to listen to the other with our whole being. Instead of focussing on their words, we focus on their eyes, face and body language, and try to feel what their heart is saying, rather than the words coming out of their mouth.
The Enormous Value of Listening, March 2014
[Marriage and intimacy]
43 You are both human
Don’t try to create something superhuman. Be human, accept the other person’s humanity with all the frailty humanity is prone to. Your partner will commit mistakes just as you commit mistakes, and you have to learn. To be together is a great learning: of forgiving, forgetting, understanding that the other is as human as you are.
Soul mates or cell mates?, May 2014
44 Let there be spaces in your togetherness
If couples focus entirely on each other, they don’t allow themselves the freedom to grow and create. When the relationship goes from being the primary focus to being the only focus, other things that life has to offer are lost. Although I believe a person can grow more within a relationship than without one, I also believe it is necessary to find a balance between self and other.
Back off , May 2011
45 How do you treat your best friend?
Respect means treating my partner with compassion, kindness, empathy, and civility. That this isn’t the case in many bad relationships is obvious. I’ve never been able to understand why people yell at, berate, blame, or gossip about their partner. After all, this person is “supposed to be” your best friend. Just because you are making yourself miserable in the relationship is no excuse to treat your partner worse than you treat, for example, colleagues at work.
Lines of love, November 2012
46 Advice for men and women
When it comes to relationships, the road to happiness is to remember that a woman loves a man with a plan and a man loves a woman with a smile. So my advice to women is: focus less on making men happy and focus more on making yourself happy. This way, not only will you be happier, he will be happier too.
To men, I say this: recognise that women are always busy in their brains much more than you. So plan something for her—a date for example. It’ll free her from having to plan everything. And that’s a great source of fulfilment for her. When you plan special activities, she doesn’t have to do it.
Trip to Venus, March 2009
47 Tackle the problem, not each other
A husband and wife bring an assortment of abilities to their marriage. When they see themselves as team-mates, they realise that their game plan is not to compete against each other but to cooperate. It is this attitude of togetherness that creates a climate in which conflicts can be resolved. Conflicts are inevitable, but if a couple is committed to working together as a team, they can tackle the problem and not each other. An attitude of togetherness says, “We will not let this defeat us. We will find an answer.”
Marriage is not a match, August 2011
48 Before you quit a relationship
Before quitting a relationship you must earn the right to quit it. You should be able to look into your own eyes in the mirror and say to yourself that you have tried everything you could in all honesty, in order to save your relationship, but it could not be saved.
—Minnu Bhonsle & Rajan Bhonsle
Communicate your needs, December 2010
49 Not perfect but sacred love
Wabi Sabi Love is grounded in acceptance. It’s the practice of accepting the flaws, imperfections, and limitations—as well as the gifts and the blessings—that form your shared history as a couple. Acceptance and its counterpart, understanding, are crucial to achieving relationship harmony. This is sacred love, not infatuation, or love that is convenient. What if we discovered that romantic love was never meant to be perfect, but to guide us to this highest form of love? What if, in fact, soul mate we-are-destined-for-one-another love exists to propel us into an understanding of Wabi Sabi Love?
From annoyed to enjoyed, October 2013
50 Let them make their share of mistakes
Over-involvement in your child’s life can become stifling for her. Some children are able to voice out their woes. However, those who lack the courage, show their resentment in passive-aggressive ways, like becoming withdrawn or angry. Fear and rigidity often dominate the responses of such children towards themselves and others. Allow your child to learn from his mistakes. Not every knock in life is disastrous.
I am a grownup now, July 2012
51 Your consistency is a gift
A consistent parent comes across as a reliable parent because, being consistent also means a steady and committed presence in your child’s life. Consistency from parents helps children learn and accept boundaries and limits. Though children may sometimes protest wildly, a parent’s consistent response actually helps children feel safe.
Virtues of a super parent, December 2008
52 Master yourself to help your children
Children learn primarily through imitation, taking your cues about everything, and becoming your most exquisite mirror—so always ask yourself: “Am I worthy of my child’s unquestioning imitation?” If yes, then you have resolved 95 per cent of your discipline issues before they even materialise. True discipline is ultimately self-discipline, and the more mastery we develop of our own inner being, the more harmonious family life will be.
Way around the rod, April 2012
53 Raise your consciousness
Raising a conscious child is less about what you need to do and more about what you need to become as a parent. Parents don’t want to hear this but in the end, what is going on in you, in your mind, your relationship, your fears, is often what will be mirrored by your child. The next time you have a challenge with your kid, ask yourself this courageous question: “What in me is having this show up in them?” The more you focus on changing and improving yourself, the more your child will be free of limiting behaviours. Raise your own consciousness and your child will receive the gift of a lifetime!
—Ariane de Bonvoisin
Raise your children to be happy, healthy and complete, April 2013
54 Tell your kids they are loved no matter what
If parents really want to teach kids their own cultural values, the first thing they have to teach them is very good self-esteem. Kids need to know that they are loved unconditionally, even when we punish them. We need to tell the kids, “If you behave badly, you will be punished, but we will still love you.”
“The only thing you can do is make the shift within yourself”, March 2013
55 Parenting means growth and transformation
The spiritual purpose behind our becoming parents is to grow and transform. Specifically, to learn how to get in touch with those parts of ourselves that we have forgotten, discover where we have been wounded, and commit to new ways of being and living.
— Shefali Tsabary
Are you a conscious parent?, May 2011
56 Teach them to explore
Encourage them to try things, make mistakes and not be perfect. From an early age, kids learn what they are good at and want to stick to those. They know they get ‘points’ from their teachers and parents for doing something well. Your job is to help them do things they’ve never done before. It can be something as small as a dive in a pool, doing a cartwheel, speaking a few words of another language or making a video—anything that is new. This isn’t about doing anything right; it’s just about the experience of something new, with no need for results. This will help expand their awareness of themselves and what they are capable of.
—Ariane de Bonvoisin
Raise your children to be happy, healthy and complete, April 2013
57 Your genius is waiting to come out
Being a genius isn’t about being super intelligent. It’s about learning to love all your warts and flaws. It is about embracing all that is wrong with you and finding all that is right with you. When you do this, you too can bring out your genius.
You can be a genius too, September 2014
58 Give your humanity some space
Spend a day unplugged. No cell phones, TVs, computers, video games, DVDs, personal stereos and other digitally fed distractions. Instead, strive to have face-to-face conversations, read books, take walks, play with the kids, visit friends, or just sit quietly and think. Find out how soothing and restorative it is to be UNconnected once in a while. And how refreshing it is to take a break from our growing dependency on these devices, which are meant to be tools, not ends in themselves. Keep technology in its proper perspective. And your humanity first and foremost.
—G. Gaynor McTigue
A dozen sure shot ways to dodge stress, April 2013
59 Writing helps to make sense of your life
We are all story tellers. We make sense of our world through the stories we tell ourselves, it is how we create meaning. Writing our thoughts and feelings down is a way of making sense of things. And the great thing about writing is that it’s free. You can do it anywhere, anytime and it’s good for your wellbeing.
We are all story tellers, March 2014
60 See humour in pain
How would you know that your sense of humour is getting better? It’s when you can take something that is difficult in your life and see the humour in it. Take that pain and give it a twist, until you can feel the funny side.
Find your funny bone… and cartilage, muscle etc., December 2012
61 Unplanned travel is most enriching
The best things happen once you leave the planned agenda, throw away the map, and embrace whatever you encounter along the way. In travel at least, if everything goes as planned, you probably won’t remember what happened for very long afterwards. Listen hard to the best travel stories and so often there will be themes of facing adversity, challenges, discomfort, and fear. The real travel starts once people lose their way.
Journeys that move you, April 2011
62 Rituals enrich your life
A family ritual is the anchor that really holds the family together, the glue. Rituals are one of the greatest spiritual technologies of the 21st century. They can be as simple as transforming your morning cup of tea into a ceremony of connection or placing a coin in a ’success jar’ to acknowledge your accomplishments. Rituals anchor us and give us a sense of belonging to something greater than ourselves. They also enrich milestones and guide us through life’s inevitable transitions.
The power of rituals, June 2014
63 Why getting organised makes sense
If the thought of getting organised, of finally making those deferred decisions, begins to feel overwhelming, remember that getting organised isn’t about doing more, it’s about doing less. You’re already overwhelmed trying to keep up with all your current responsibilities and tasks. It only makes sense that trying to add anything on top of your current obligations will further complicate your life.
Discover the incredible power of de-cluttering, December 2013
64 Optimism is realistic
The first truth in the great game of life is worth memorising—life is difficult! So get over it. No sweet-talking politician, fairy godmother or genie is coming to sprinkle stardust or grant three wishes. Embracing optimism is about embracing self-reliance, personal responsibility and the work of changing your thought patterns and your actions. It doesn’t mean that you’re denying reality; it’s simply about positively coping with that reality to succeed in the face of life’s challenges.
The optimism advantage, November 2013
65 Identify your personal obstacles
Nothing is all bad or all good. There are shades to everything. In difficult economic times, for example, some companies hunker down and lay off people but others find their niche and thrive in the very same conditions. Children that grow up in difficult households can turn out different—one might be afraid and under confident her entire life, while another may take those circumstances and use them as a ‘fire in the belly’ to become successful in spite of the odds.
No matter what circumstances you are in, or are given, you can make lemonade from the lemons life hands you. Keep focussed on your goals and desired outcomes, and figure out what stands in your way—your personal obstacles. Identifying the obstacles allows you to systemically remove them on the way to your desired outcome.
—Beverly D Flaxington
Battling change?, August 2012
66 Make your will today
Not having a legal will is a mistake many high net worth individuals make. Some even keep financial secrets from their spouses. So if something happens to them, their spouses often don’t even know the ATM password to access money in a savings account. No one knows where money has been invested or where financial documents have been kept. So, prepare a will even if you are in fine health, to ensure a smooth handover of assets.
Costly moves, June 2012
67 ‘People pleasing’ is a terrible time-waster
I have never seen a greater time-waster than people pleasing. The nervous habit of scurrying around trying to win the approval of others. Answering every call and email the minute it comes, fulfilling every request, interrupting yourself over and over. It leaves no time for achievement. Being spared from the desire for love and approval is non-linear time management in a nutshell.
Stop managing time master it, June 2012
68 Your home speaks to you; are you listening?
Look around your house. What do you see? Does every nook and corner of your home speak to you? Can you identify with your home? Do you feel it reflects you as a person? If not, it’s time to get up, close and personal! Have a look at your home and do some thinking.
Let your home be you, April 2010
69 There is healthy fear and there is unhealthy fear
It is essential to know the difference between healthy and unhealthy fear. The anxieties and worries that pervade our daily lives are not healthy, but neurotic fear. Healthy fear stands guard responsibly but neurotic fear exaggerates and even invents potential danger. Healthy fear is about protection and unhealthy fear is about being in control. See them as two advisors, each with his own personality and agenda.
Fear the way out, July 2012
70 Know when to let go of stuff
It is very powerful to know when something has made that transition from being useful, enjoyable, and life-enhancing to becoming clutter. The sooner we recognise this, the sooner we are free to release, let go, and make room for something better. And the clearer our mind becomes, the better we are at recognising that something better is often . . . nothing at all.
It’s time to tidy up your room.. and your soul, April 2013
71 Laughter brings a shift
When your day isn’t going as planned, laughing is an opportunity to look at things from a new perspective. The power of humour, being joyful, is a choice we make. Take a break. I promise you’ll find something to smile about.
Arm yourself with the most effective weapon, September 2012
72 Happiness needs a goal
Always have a goal. Happiness comes from moving towards what you want, not from going away from it. Any time you achieve a dream, you need to replace it. Make sure you always have something to look forward to.
10 non-secrets to happiness, August 2008
73 Giving is always followed by receiving
When you act out of generosity, when you give freely of yourself, then yes, good value will come back to you, but not necessarily right back from the person you were generous to. It’s not a mechanical, one-to-one kind of action.
What’s more, it will often come in amounts that far exceed anything that anyone ‘owes’ you. I’ve seen it happen dozens, hundreds of times, and I’ll bet you have, too, if you were paying attention.
— John David Mann
The startling physics behind infinite abundance, March 2014
74 Make principles your centre
When your life is people-centred, the important thing to you is what others want. When it’s possession-centred, the important thing is what you have. When it is activity-centred, the important thing is what you do. These are all external sources of motivation. But when your life is principle-centred, the important thing is who and what you are. Your core motivation lies within you. When you choose an external source of core motivation, you place yourself at the mercy of mood swings, inconsistent behaviour, and uncontrollable changes of fortune. When you put principles at the centre of your life, you have a solid, unwavering foundation for decision-making.
—Azim Jamal & Nido Qubein
Live a life of purpose, January 2013
75 Creative expression is vital
Spirituality and creativity is the same thing. The creative flow is your spirit and when you create, your spirit works through you. The creative process enhances, strengthens and celebrates your true essence. This does not mean that everyone should have a creative profession. It means that you, me and everyone else needs to make time and space for weekly creativity in order to feel really good about ourselves and to remember who we are.
Unleash the artist within, December 2012
76 Your purpose is your life
All of nature is on call, operating in silence and yet on purpose. The mighty oak was once a little nut that stood its ground. The acorn contains the design for the fully developed oak tree in all its mightiness. Where you find purpose and strong principles, there you find success and balance. A ship would never sail without a destination. Similarly you can’t find fulfilment without having a clear objective. When you have purpose, you know where you are going, and you know why you want to go there. You are driven to get there. A sense of purpose creates energy, meaning, gumption, and love. You lose track of time doing things that have a solid purpose.
—Azim Jamal & Nido Qubein
Live a life of purpose, January 2013
77 Stay present
Pressure gets to you because your mind is preoccupied with past failures, or is anticipating future ones. Your mind has to be in the present. Only then will you not feel the pressure.
“I will cherish this compliment forever”, December 2008
78 Heal the root cause
In a world that has grown accustomed to instant gratification, most people are looking for an instant resolution of their problem. Genuine and deep-rooted change is often difficult and may require dedicated and consistent efforts. Look at self-help as a way of bringing about systematic change through consistent application. It is not about applying a band-aid to the wound, but discovering and healing the root issue itself.
Step up your personal growth, October 2011
79 It protects you
Forgiveness is not just a favour you confer upon another person. It is a much-needed protection you need for yourself. It protects you from corrosive feelings of bitterness and anger that can corrupt mind and soul.
Pardon, Please, July 2012
80 Your greatest gift
The greatest gift you were ever given was the gift of your imagination. Within your magical inner realm is the capacity to have all of your wishes fulfilled. Here in your imagination lies the greatest power you will ever know. It is your domain for creating the life that you desire, and the best part of it is that you are the monarch with all of the inherent powers to rule your world as you desire.
Your greatest power, August 2014
81 Open up to possibilities
We all pay lip service to the idea that anything is possible. Yet, whenever specific instances of ‘never- before’ happenings present themselves, most of us reject the possibility out of hand. Can limbs regenerate? Can paralysis be reversed? Many of us who otherwise agree that anything is possible will respond, ‘no’ almost without thinking. Why don’t we allow in practice what we profess to believe? One answer is that the mindsets we form from everyday experience close us off to possibility.
—Ellen J Langer
Open your mind… good health is just a thought away, October 2009
82 Are you listening to your advice?
You can tell when your advice is meant for you if you are more interested in saying it than the other person is in hearing it. The words want to come out for you to hear.
In the eye of the beholder, February 2013
83 Uncertainty is fun
Our anxiety comes not from the uncertainty itself but from our insistence that there be no uncertainty. Once we accept uncertainty as a given, all anxiety drops away and the texture of life becomes richer. Every day we awaken not knowing what life will bring to us and revel in that mystery. Sometimes it will be pleasant, and sometimes not. Some days, our plans will work, some days they won’t. But that’s what makes life so much fun—and makes it meaningful.
Embrace the gift, November 2013
84 Stay away from the ‘victim’ label
No matter what life deals you, refuse to label yourself a victim! Depending on what has happened to you, you might find it tempting to label yourself as a victim. But allowing yourself to embrace that label can strip you of the will and the positive attitude you need to overcome the adversities you will continue to encounter.
The optimism advantage, November 2013
85 Your inner compass
Intuition offers a direct line to your life-force, and also—as I experience it—to a divine intelligence. It’s the language of energy. You need to speak it to thrive, though our techno-crazed society doesn’t recognise this essential fact.
Your intuition is like an inner compass. We can’t afford to remain deaf to intuition’s messages. Its expertise is energy; its job is to know every nuance of what makes you tick. A master at reading vibes, intuition is constantly tallying: what gives positive energy, what dissipates it. Who you meet, where you go, your job, your family, current events, are all evaluated—crucial data that you can learn to interpret and apply.
Harness the power of your intuition, July 2013
86 Exploration is happiness
Creating things, making things happen and cerebral, creative and physical journeys improve our wellbeing. Happiness has much more to do with exploration rather than reaching the end point. Creativity includes seeing the potential in what is around you and making something of it, uncovering beauty in ordinary things and tolerating, or even embracing, mistakes or imperfections. The capacity to make the most of a perceived flaw, to learn from it or to improve upon it is a form of creative empowerment and joy.
—Carrie & Alton Barron
Creativity, The Secret of Happiness, Wellness, and Positive Change, May 2013
87 Difficult, happy life
Follow your highest sense of right. Our first obligation is not to systems and religions and societies, but to be true to ourselves, to that inner spirit that yearns to know itself and to shine its light in the world. Following our highest right will guarantee that we’ll have a difficult, happy lifetime.
“There’s no such thing as objective experience”, January 2010
88 Are you afraid of happiness?
People have a fear of happiness. Consider how often we say or hear these types of things: “It’s too good to be true,” “It’ll never last,” and “I’m just waiting for something to go wrong.” We literally are creating a state of unhappiness for ourselves because we think we can’t possibly be that happy. It’s as if complete happiness has become so unattainable—in our own minds—that we are looking for reasons why we can’t have it or expecting it will be taken from us.
Why happiness is eluding you, April 2014
[Success And Failure]
89 It’s about the journey, not the destination
If you broke it down by percentage of time spent, the vast majority, in fact nearly all, of your time is spent in the process of achieving goals, not in the actual achieving of them. So why put yourself in a situation where you can only be happy during the small fraction of the time you are actually realising your goals, instead of enjoying the entire process?
Open the present, November 2012
90 Improvement is a never-ending pursuit
I do not define or evaluate my life by perceptions of success or failure in any particular business or activity. Both these perceptions are negative and create an obstacle to progress. A perception of success could make you complacent, while a feeling of failure is demoralising and discouraging. Thus, I prefer to view everything I do as something that teaches me more—about life, about people, and about myself. For me, the pursuit of a full life and becoming a better person is never-ending, and I will never give it up.
“I can find happiness in any situation”, July 2009
91 Work only on your strengths
We need to let go of our penchant for idealising the perfect person, and ignoring our natural gifts in favour of focussing mostly on fixing what’s wrong with us. No one is perfect and perfection is not what drove all of the successful people we could name. What drove such success was a focus on maximising existing talents and minimising dependence on non-talents.
You can be a genius too, September 2014
92 You are always choosing
Any behaviour you persist in doing, after you become aware of it, is a conscious choice. If you’re unaware that you’re cracking your knuckles, you don’t really have control. But once you become aware of what you’re doing—and you continue to do it—you are making a conscious choice [even if you only choose not to control your behaviour]. The same applies to people who swear a lot, have overloaded schedules, feel oppressed by guilt, drink too much, yell at other people or wallow in self-pity. You always have a choice.
Change made easy, January 2012
93 Grace in success and failure
Until you accept responsibility for your failures, you are never going to succeed. Play the game only if you can be graceful in your victory and gracious in your defeat.
—Shah Rukh Khan
“I must have done something right”, January 2009
94 Self-discipline is not the problem
We don’t lack self-discipline, we lack presence. So the question is not “How do I become more disciplined?” The question is “How do I learn to live in the present?”
—Cheri Huber & Ashwini Narayanan
Finally, the self-discipline approach that never fails!, January 2014
95 When we stop trying for perfection
The lesson of Zen is that, in the instant when we stop trying for perfection, we free ourselves from the dictates of our mind. Right then, right there, we find the space to stop thinking and actually do something.
The beauty in brokenness, December 2013
96 What spirituality really is
There’s truly nothing to get from the spiritual path, not even experiences. At each level of the spiritual path, the old parts fall away. Where words and ideas helped to create a structure, that scaffolding must be torn away. Consequently, as spiritual experiences and connections help to cultivate an even deeper awareness, those too must eventually be let go. Because spirituality isn’t in an experience or in an idea—it’s in us.
The role of the illuminator, March 2013
97 Don’t give away your liberty
Mindfulness practice, in its purest sense, is simply this: be aware of what is, what is here in this moment. One of the very important aspects of mindfulness training is that you learn more and more to see your own beliefs, to see them in operation, to test them, and to start seeing the consequences they have for your life. Then you will eventually have a chance to make decisions about whether you want to continue to believe them or to change them, rather than just assuming that they are true.
We have to train ourselves to be vigilant, however, because so much of our mind is automatised; it just runs by itself, taking away our liberty.
Eyes wide open, August 2012
98 Put your philosophy aside
Life is its own purpose; it is not a means to some end, it is an end unto itself. The bird on the wing, the rose in the wind, the sun rising in the morning, the stars in the night, a man falling in love with a woman, a child playing on the street… there is no purpose. Life is simply enjoying itself, delighting in itself. Energy is overflowing, dancing, for no purpose at all. It is not a performance, it is not a business. Life is a love affair, it is poetry, it is music. Life cannot be bridged by philosophical questions. Philosophy has to be put aside.
Live without purpose, May 2013
99 Notice the miracles in your everyday life
When you start the day with brushing your teeth, pay attention! How does the toothpaste taste? What temperature is the water? What sensations are you experiencing in your mouth? Notice your body posture; are you tensed over the sink? Experiment each day; with different aspects of your morning. Take those few moments of doing something ordinary and let it become something extraordinary. Even to appreciate the ease with which we do miraculous things like breathing, can assist us to take a short break from the constant chatter of our minds.
Working with Zen, February 2013
100 Bring in more emptiness
What is missing in our lives is emptiness. Our soul wants more ‘nothing’. It is in the emptiness, which allows spaciousness, that we actually find the missing piece.
It’s time to tidy up your room… and your soul, April 2013
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