1. 5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Mental Outlook

    August 20, 2013

    Improve Your Mental Outlook
    When we think of ways to improve our overall wellness we tend to think of big projects that tackle big issues head on. That kind of thinking is far to often a symptom of the problem, not a path to a cure. A healthy physical and mental outlook is based on a landscape we exist in, not a destination to achieve. I’ve come up with a short list of simple activities you can add to your routine that, over time, will alleviate stress and tension and help you build wells of positive mental and physical energy to rely on.

    Do Something With Your Own Hands

    For most of us hand eye coordination and dexterity are useful only in the context of operating our digital devices: computers, tablets, mobiles. Your hands aren’t made just for accessing more data and downloading your brain into an overheated frenzy. When is the last time you shaped wet clay, carved a piece of wood, kneaded dough? The interplay between hands and mind that only occurs from doing small jobs like this satisfies your mind and relaxes your body. Whether it’s making a birdhouse, preparing a meal to share, or just giving a tired friend a thorough back rub you will gain mental energy by performing simple tasks with your hands.

    Do Low Impact Exercise

    Our culture is geared to celebrate high impact exercise. TV Infomercials compete against each other to claim their program is harder, sweatier, and more extreme. Sometimes training for a marathon or getting buff is just what you want and need, but these high impact programs can be extremely stressful and require imposing aggressive forms of self discipline to complete. They are a great way to get ripped, but not always a great way to become more relaxed and happy. Take a slow, relaxing evening walk, or slow bike ride on a quiet road. If you have a place to swim find time to just splash around a little. No laps, no grind, no constant focus on goals and improvement. You’ll be surprised at how much improvement you get from less stressful forms of exercise, and the relaxation you gain will in turn help make you physically more fit.

    Perform Manual Labor

    Most of us spend our lives trying to find ways to eliminate manual labor from the equation. The problem is, sometimes we are too successful and we cut ourselves off from any form of work that isn’t intellectually focused. Working with your mind is great, but frequently involves long processes with difficult to measure results. When is the last time you cut your own grass, or picked up trash from a public space, or planted a garden? You don’t need to break your back, just find something simple that fits into your time schedule and work at it. Unlike massive work projects that can bog you down for months without verifiable results when you mow a lawn or weed a garden you have the immediate satisfaction of seeing a job well done. This can be a great way to build positive relationships too: do you know any elderly people who could use help maintaining their yard? A space that could be improved for local children to play in? And besides, who would turn down a basket of fresh picked vegetables from your garden?

    Play a Musical Instrument

    Before the invention of TV and Radio almost everyone in the US and Europe played a musical instrument for entertainment. We have gotten away from that, and now rely on unsatisfying time filler activities instead. There are parts of your mind and spirit that are atrophying away when you don’t express them, and actually making music, however simply, is a world apart from passively listening. You can buy beginners instruments fairly cheaply, and free lessons are available all over the net. Pick up a guitar, or recorder, or small bongo drum and dedicate some time into learning the basics. You will get to the point of playing along with favorite songs before you know it, and you will find that you always feel a little happier and more positive after a half hour of making music.

    Write Something

    Writing is one of the most popular forms of personal expression there is. There are lot’s of free blogger sites on the web, pick one and open a blog. Write in it at least weekly. Here’s the catch: most people will tell you writing is all about expressing yourself, or releasing inner thoughts and feelings, and you should just write whatever you want and let the muse take you where it will. That may help you and if you enjoy this please continue in your way. I recommend a little different approach though. Write with a little self discipline. Make sure that everything you write has enough of a plan to include two basic things: a format where you have a clear beginning, middle and end is one. A simple message, or point you are making is the other. Using this approach will force you to do one simple thing every time you write: organize your thoughts. Organizing your thoughts is difficult, and it takes practice, and the goal of writing like this often is to give you that practice. If you think of the people you know who are the calmest, happiest individuals who exude a sense of peace around them they will all tend to have very organized thoughts. No jumbled up nervous tension from them, just simplicity and peace. Using writing to practice this mental sorting and indexing of thoughts will give you a tool you can use to build an island of mental peace around yourself at all times.

    Image Credit: Mark Sebastian – www.flickr.com/photos/markjsebastian/4686167305

  2. Discover Your Dharma or How I Quit My Job

    May 26, 2013

    discover your dharma

    by Luba Kholov

    “O Indra, lead us on the path of Rta, on the right path over all evils”

    10th mandala of the Rigveda

    Dharma is an ancient Sanskrit term. It’s literal meaning is “that which upholds, supports or maintains the regulatory order of the universe” It sounds a bit New Agey, but in essence it means the purpose of one’s life. It doesn’t mean the final destination, but the path one takes. The Law of Dharma means awakening oneself and using person’s unique talents to serve the humanity.

    How do you discover your Dharma? You don’t have to ask anyone about it, because you already have the answer. All answers are within you. If you are unable to hear your inner voice, that is the problem you have to solve.

    People started thinking about Dharma concept thousands of years ago and still think about it to this day – of course, if they have time. Most of us just don’t have the luxury of free time and thinking of Dharma isn’t our top priority… We don’t think about the meaning of life. We need to pay bills, finish assignments on time, satisfy a lover, build our career or take care of the kids.  By society’s definition, you need to be on top of all of these aspects of life and perform well in every regard in order to be successful, worthy and respected. Yet, as a result, people get sick, depressed and exhausted. Why? If you have ever spent a day commuting via the New York City subway system, you definitely understand what I’m talking about.


  3. Lets Be Happy – Positive Psychology in Action

    May 23, 2013

    I am back from a week of R&R in Kripalu Yoga Center and feeling very POSITIVE. Seriously positive! It is not only the yoga, meditation, scenery, nature hikes, and being surrounded with nice people, etc. It is also seeing people actively pursuing their goal of living HAPPY lives. As Tal Ben-Shahar, a positive psychology guru, once said “There’s more people wanting to be happy than rich”. Well, we all know “money cannot buy happiness”, so why not go straight to the goal and be happy? Simple eh? Well it is indeed.

    Tal happened to be in Kripalu this week teaching the course on Positive Psychology for social workers and therapists. I didn’t attend the course but spoke to some participants and they were totally overwhelmed. Apparently, being happy is SIMPLE! You just have to focus on the right things. Here I’d like to offer this short video by Tal Ben-Shahar talking about the “Incredible Power of Positivity”. Just watch and learn:



    So let’s start asking these questions: “what’s going well in your life?”, “what’s going well in your relationships?”, “what are your strengths?”. Let’s talk about our happy moments and happy experience and focus on positives. May be this will shift your balance and attitude?

    According to Dalai Lama, “Compassion is a state of mind where you extend how you relate to yourself toward others as well” If you dislike or even hate yourself you’ll create this “hate wave” towards others as well. Dalai Lama teaches us that the key is to start loving ourselves first: “Yourself first, and then in a more advanced way the aspiration will embrace others. In a way, high levels of compassion are nothing but an advanced state of that self-interest. That’s why it is hard for people who have a strong sense of self-hatred to have genuine compassion toward others. There is no anchor, no basis to start from.”



  4. The Psychology of a Great Athlete

    May 5, 2013

    Psychology of a Great Athlete

    Image Credit: Joel Stewart

    by Korah Morrison

    For athletes, mental resilience is a key indicator of success. There are exceptions to the typical physical requirements, but the mental ones can be harder to bypass. Drive and volition, confidence, focus, calm and emotional control are some of the psychological characteristics of the most successful athletes on the planet.

    This article is an analysis of the key character traits of successful athletes, which confirmed by quotations stars such as Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, etc. Be inspired and aspire to more!

    Drive and volition

    “[Professional athletes] just work as hard as they possibly can. And the drive is usually propelled by intense passion for their sport; they just love playing the game.” Jim Taylor, Ph. D.


    Volition is the deliberate act of decision-making. For athletes, volition is comprised of self-motivation and the use of physical skills, as well as the comprehension of emotional response. These tactics combine to generate self-confidence.

    Work ethic: Everyone sees the greatness of a big-time athlete. But you don’t always see the sum of hours it takes to achieve that greatness.

    Total commitment: Maria Sharapova turned that work ethic into commitment. As a child, she was often first on the court and the last to leave.

    Motivation: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Wayne Gretzky

    Conviction: “I cant” should never be uttered by a pro athlete. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team; what if he had given up then?


    Believing in yourself and your abilities is a substantial contribution to any accomplishment. It may also be a determinant of performance and efficacy in leadership.

    Faith: “It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.” Muhammad Ali

    Desire: “If at first you don’t succeed… I was given the ball 27 times with ten seconds left in the game and the winning shot in my hands… and I missed.” Michael Jordan

    Abolish Doubt: “If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win.” Carl Lewis

    Expectation: “My mind is my biggest asset. I expect a win every tournament I play.” Tiger Woods

    Perseverance: “Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” Michael Jordan


    The best athletes have practiced staying cool under pressure and against opposition.

    Manage tilt: “Tilt has many causes and kinds, but it has only one effect. It makes us play bad. It makes us do things we wouldn’t do it we were at our very best. And that’s how I want to define it, exactly like that. Tilt is any deviation from your A-game and you’re A-mindset, however slight or fleeting.” Tommy Angelo

    Handling pressure: “No matter how tough, no matter what kind of outside pressure, no matter how many bad breaks along the way, I must keep my sights on the final goal, to win, win, win – and with more love and passion than the world has ever witnessed in any performance.” Billie Jean King



    Focus means reigning in the ability to react quickly, but in a controlled manner. Attentional control may make the difference between an average athlete and a superior one.

    Pursue the goal: “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion’.’” Muhammad Ali

    Make your goal the top: “I play to win, whether during practice or a real game. And I will not let anything get in the way of me and my competitive enthusiasm to win.” Michael Jordan

    Abolish distracting thoughts: “Concentration is the ability to think about absolutely nothing when it is absolutely necessary.” Ray Knight

    Emotional Strength


    Emotions factor into an athlete’s abilities more than you might think. It ties back into confidence and mental strength, using acquired psychological skills to control these emotions.

    Enthusiasm: “Enthusiasm is everything. It must be taut and vibrating like a guitar string,” Pele

    Passion: “I run because it’s my passion, and not just a sport. Every time I walk out the door, I know why I’m going where I’m going and I’m already focused on that special place where I find my peace and solitude. Running, to me, is more than just a physical exercise… it’s a consistent reward for victory!” Sasha Azevedo

    Control: “Learn to control your emotions or they will control you.” Edgar Martinez

  5. Happiness – It’s More than Just a Trend

    April 21, 2013

    Golden girl

    Image Credit: Marcos Vasconcelos

    by Brittany Young

    Everywhere you look, there are stories promoting yoga, meditation, and self-care to eliminate negative thoughts and stress and lead you to happiness. There are movies, books, and international movements all designed to provide the answers on how to find happiness. Even the United Nations has declared March 20, 2013 as the first-ever International Day of Happiness. But this emotion common to human nature isn’t so much a trend as it is a primary goal for people all over the world. Whether they want a change in career, an increase in personal investment to family and friends, or to take a leap of faith to travel more, individuals around the globe seek this feeling and are willing to do what it takes to get there.

    As we partake in these extreme efforts to discover our personal happiness, questions naturally arise: Is happiness innate or this emotion something that can be found? How do we get there? And once we are there, how do we preserve it? I do not claim to have the answers, but here are some things that have helped me in my pursuit of happiness.


    At the roots of happiness comes mindfulness. Simply being aware of our situations can be eye opening. Specifically, in our increasingly competitive society, we may fall victim to criticism and judgment, both of which carry negative emotion and may inhibit happiness. Simply take notice of what you judge and ask yourself why you judge it. Is this judgment toward other individuals or toward yourself? Awareness alone about ourselves, people, and situations is critical to our climb in happiness. Being mindful of our thoughts allows us to accept current situations.


    Feelings and emotions come on naturally, and in stressful situations they may be hard to ignore. A basic example of this would be if you accidentally burn your tongue while sipping your morning coffee. You probably aren’t going to be very happy after that. That little fuzzy feeling on your tongue can be upsetting when it inhibits your ability to taste the buttery croissant and sweet blueberries to follow. Rather than get upset, consider it a reminder for the next time you find yourself in the same situation. Today, your taste buds may be altered, but is it worth the emotion? Most likely your own stressful situation causing you negative feelings is going to be bigger than a burnt tongue, but the bottom line is that you have control over how you react. Do you want to feed negative energy and self judgment for a simple accident? Acceptance and patience with a situation, thought, or feeling empowers you to make the choice!


    Shifting our perspective in order to see how a current problem or situation is not as big of a deal as we think is helpful as well. In the context of life, and in the grand scheme of things, how does your present situation fit in? If you have stress or negativity surrounding this situation, is it worth it? If it is worth the stress of negative emotions, this is totally acceptable. Simply being aware and putting whatever it is you are going through in perspective may help you realize how you may or may not be acquiring the happiness you deserve.


    Once we are aware of what drives us and makes us happy, the pursuit of our passions comes in. Perhaps you love sports. Get involved at a local gym, running club, cycling team, or attend a weekly yoga class. If your heart feels melodious when you dance, sing, or play an instrument, take a music class or hit that piano. Love family, friends, or travel? Identify your passion and pursue it. Do not waste your time on things that do not make you happy or move you towards your ultimate goal—life is too short.


    Happiness. The beauty of acquiring this emotion is that every person is different. There is no right or wrong way to create it, and there is no exact science behind how each individual attains it. It truly is his or her prerogative. By practicing mindfulness and acceptance, shifting our perspective, and pursuing our passions, we learn how to preserve our own happiness. Circumstances constantly change, and monitoring our thoughts and actions moment to moment may help us maximize those positive feelings. However, I think the true secret to preserving happiness is: once you’ve found it, share it with everyone around you.

  6. How to start believing in yourself

    February 21, 2013

    “If you don’t believe in yourself, no one will,” people say. Every one of us has our own set of beliefs about ourselves and our abilities. These beliefs define our thoughts about what we deserve in life and what we can and cannot do. These beliefs define our actions.

    Sadly, it is these beliefs that stop many people from going to the new heights in life and fulfilling their dreams.

    positive beliefs

    Photo by Fairuz Othman

    Do you have limiting beliefs?

    If you are unhappy with your current situation for years, but unable to get out of it, you may be a victim of limiting beliefs. More often than not, people stay in conditions they don’t like because deep inside they believe they either don’t deserve or cannot achieve any better.

    This is true for all sorts of situations, such as having the right relationships, getting better health or finding one’s true calling in life.

    –          How many people do you know who constantly complain about their current relationship, but don’t call it quits?

    –          Do you know anyone who hates his job for years, but never looks for another one and never starts his own business?

    –          How about a person who wants better health and leaner body, but never does what it really takes to get it?

    People site all kinds of external obstacles as their reasons to stay in situation they are discontent with.

    They may tell you they stay in an unhappy marriage because everyone lives this way.  They don’t look for another job because you can only get a job if you know the right people. They don’t start a new business because they are afraid to fail. They don’t work on improving their health because “high blood pressure and heart disease runs in the family.”

    In reality, other people around them find better relationships and better jobs, and become the first ones in the family to break the vicious circle of disease.

    They do it because they believe it is possible for them.

    What belief is holding you back?

    To break free from limiting beliefs, it is important to understand where they are coming from.

    Beliefs are formed based on our life experiences and interactions with other people.

    –          We may believe that we are not pretty/witty/interesting enough to get into a relationship with a better person because we never have in the past.

    –          We may believe that a person of our background can NEVER get a better job or become leaner because this is what our parents and our social circles kept telling us.

    Often, people pass their limiting beliefs onto their children. You have likely received some from your family, too.

    Three steps to believing in yourself

    Once we understand what particular belief holds us back, it is time to develop a new belief. Just like an old belief, a new one should be based on experiences and interactions.

    Step 1. Shut off negative noise

    As a first step, shut off anything and anybody who reinforces your old belief. A husband who believes that you can never succeed in business, a friend who thinks you cannot lose weight, and parents who believe it is too risky to change your life situation and that it will only get worse. Naysayers only reinforce your old limiting beliefs and don’t give you a chance to practice new experiences.

    Step 2. Find proof that what you want is possible

    Secondly, you need to find proof that it is possible to achieve what you want. Look for real examples in life. Are there people who did what you want to do and have succeeded? Try not to think about those who failed, because this is an argument that will get you nowhere. You need to list as many examples as you can find. Even if you want “to boldly go where no man has gone before”, there are a lot of examples of people doing so.

    Step 3.  Start small and celebrate mini-successes

    Lastly, you need to start gaining new experiences that prove your new belief.  Too often we concentrate on mulling over our failures instead of celebrating every little successful experience or interaction.  It is through mini-successes in life that we gain that confidence and belief that we CAN DO and WILL DO better.

    Get social support

    There is a simple bullet-proof way to get new experiences and get inspired by other’s doings. You need to surround yourself with people with similar goals and people who already achieved what you are striving to achieve. It is very hard to fight this battle alone. So find yourself a community, offline or online, that operates on a different set of beliefs than your current social circle.

    If you have identified that your limiting belief comes from the people around you, it is time to put your blinders on and associate yourself with other group of people. You really need people who will provide you with enough proof that what you want is achievable, and encourage you to make those mini-steps towards your goal.

    Every big goal is achieved in mini steps. If you want to lose weight, celebrate every time that you chose to eat healthy. Take this as a proof that you are a type of person who makes good decisions, however small they are.  If you want to change jobs, start networking on LinkedIn. Send an invite to people in higher position despite nagging feeling that they will never connect with you. You will be surprised how many actually will, and you will have another reason to celebrate getting a new connection.

    Believing in yourself starts with defining what stops you and eliminating the influence of people who enforce limiting beliefs on you. By finding examples that what you want is possible, making small steps and celebrating your successes, however small they are, you will inevitably start believing that you can and will do better. And then, sky is the limit!

  7. Living Your Life To Its Fullest – Feeding Your Wild Side, Living Your Dreams

    February 2, 2013

    Live your dreams What have you always wanted to do but thought “I could never do that”? In your wildest dreams what would it be?

    Sky diving…skinny dipping…mountain climbing…?

    What would it take for you to actually DO it?

    Be dared…get drunk…?

    What if you just decided to do it? What would that look like? Many people who are diagnosed with Cancer start to live their dreams after they were diagnosed. Living your dreams puts you in a positive vibration which allows you to attract more positive things to you. It is the Law of Attraction: What you think about comes to you.

    Now, you can’t have any of those nasty negative thoughts or self-talk sneak in there, it all has to be positive. The best way to keep the vibration is to imagine that you already have it.

    Remember using your imagination when you were a kid? Well, dig it up again if it has been a long time since you have used it.

    Have you ever thought “what if you died with the music still in you”? Think for a minute with your eyes closed. If you had 4 weeks to live, how would you plan your day…your nights…your weekends…? Who would you be talking with? Where would you go?

    Here are some things to think about to get in touch with your wild side:

    • Make a list of things you always thought about doing. Prioritize it without picking up the pen (The crazier the better)
    • Add to it who you might do it with if applicable
    • Check your bank account and holdings. Don’t bite off more than you can chew
    • Surf the web for groups/associations doing what is on your list
    • Contact your friends and tell them your interests. Find a buddy to do it with or not!
    • Set a date on your calendar to call the contact person or travel agent. Write it in your planner and assign a time to do it – then call!
    • Reward yourself with something fabulous for taking the risk. Write about it in your journal

    Think what kind of wonderful contribution you will have to your family, colleagues, community, and the world when you get in touch with who you really are.

    Start attracting what you really want. Live your wildest dreams. Dare to be the real YOU!

  8. Take Your Dreams Back!

    January 30, 2013

    IMAGINATION The imagination is an amazing tool that the mind utilizes to paint a visual picture of what’s hidden inside of the heart. To imagine what it would be like to be exactly where you want to be in life is something that even the greatest amongst us has done from time to time, and in fact, it’s probably what motivated them to be where they are right now. The imagination has the ability to take us anywhere we want to go, however; when what we see when we open up our eyes in reality totally differs from what we imagined, how can one stay motivated?

    Reality can be a tricky place to live in depending on the foundation its build upon. Reality has the ability to exclude some things from the eyes of a dreamer that would cause them to believe that a dream is just a dream. The conditions of the world, the seemingly impossible price tag that’s attached to what we want, and the “negative supporters”, all play their part in the devouring of dreams. When you begin to pull out your list of downfalls and rejections, it becomes very easy to believe that maybe what you want is not meant to be, and the fact that so many other people around you appear to be living out your dreams does nothing but confirm those negative feelings that you have instead of inspiring you to believe that if it can happen for them then it can happen for you. A lot of us have had to endure the hard task of developing our own reality in order to survive. It’s a reality that insists on moving forward and refusing the alternative. In this reality we find our motivation and we become firm believers in the fact that there is enough of God’s love and provision to go around and there is no fear of it running out!

    Do not give fear and negativity the opportunity to cause a forfeit in your crusade for purpose.

    When you have a dream, it almost seems as though mistakes, doubt, fear, and everything else negative under the sun is drawn to it just like a magnet. You find yourself fighting for, defending and pleading with the very things you once felt so passionate about until you get so tired that you decide to take a time out. It is during this “time out” that distractions come and cause you to forfeit everything except for the memories of what could have been because life likes to save those for later to taunt you with, just when you thought you couldn’t feel any lower. You have to get to a point where the discovery of your destiny means so much to you that you are not willing to trade it in for defeat. To give up on your contribution to the world is not an option. To live stagnant in the midst of change is removed from your state of mind from this point on!

    Take your dreams back!

    Sometimes a person can feel that because they have reached a certain age or made numerous mistakes in life that it is too late for dreams. Sometimes life has a very cunning way of making you believe that it is just simply not going to happen, however; I challenge you to believe that you can achieve whatever you believe in! Matthew 9:29 Then touched he their eyes, saying, according to your faith be it unto you. The things you are in search of are reliant upon your faith. It is the avenue of your faith that your dreams are allowed to travel through. Your faith is the road map and if you do not provide your dreams with the directions then they will never find you. It is up to you to take your dreams back by claiming them and providing an atmosphere in which they can live and survive in. Though many dreams are commonly desired, those that belong to you have your name on them, and are for you only, so do not let the success of others around you make you shrink back from the possibility of your own. Learn to develop an attitude that says I’d rather try and fail then to not try at all because to play the, should’ve, could’ve game is bad for your spiritual and mental health!

    A dream (meaning a goal or a vision) is not simply just a dream but it is a mental revelation to the purpose of your life on this earth and it can sometimes become reoccurring, almost like a warning until you do something about it. It is the one thing that stays in your heart and in your memories even when everything and everyone else has left you. The imagination is a gift from God that allows you to see as much as your heart is willing to expose to you and after that, God will go above and beyond that, simply because you dared to believe that in the midst of adversity that he could still do anything. Can you imagine that?