What The Mirror Doesn’t Show You

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All around me,  I see people concerned about their appearance.

I see celebrities who get surgery after surgery, spending thousands of dollars to avoid signs of aging or imperfection.

I see people who constantly take pictures of their own faces. They post “selfies” on every social network, yearning for one more like, one more click of approval.

I even see myself, looking into the mirror. I’ll try on three different outfits and not  find one that I think is good enough to wear outside. I’ll spend $80 on a new hair style, anything to give my appearance a change for once.

What exactly is it about our appearance that has us so obsessed?

We’ve all heard the theories about pressure put on us by advertising. We’re expected to fit their definition of perfect – slim waist, tan complexion, fit body. These standards are fed to us on commercials, magazine covers, billboards… you name it. They’re shoved in our faces, and few people ever dare to say, “You’re wrong. We don’t have to look like them.”

But we don’t. We don’t have to look how people expect us to. We can dress however we want, eat whatever we want, and do whatever we want to do. It doesn’t matter what people think of our appearance, because of this simple fact:

Our physical appearance is only a very small part of who we are.

We’re also people with dreams, unique personalities, and desires. We aren’t just “that person with wrinkles or a beer gut.” Some of us are mothers, fathers, siblings, or best friends. Each of us thinks with our mind and feels with our heart.

Yes, we have waist sizes, but we also have souls. And that’s what we should be worrying about, what’s on the inside… the things a mirror won’t show us. We’ll never achieve our dreams if we keep letting something as petty as looks get us down.

Focus on who you are deep inside today, and that’s where you’ll find the true beauty.

As always, feel free to comment with your thoughts.

On Change, Loss, and Growing Apart

things-will-change

We lose people frequently as the years go by. Our group of friends begins to change like the seasons. There’s the true few who will always be there, but for the most part, many people end up drifting out of our lives. The same is true of relationships… at least until you find the one.

These losses happen all the time, and for many different reasons. One big one (at least in my experience) is when people move away. True friendship and love can withstand distance, but it’s tough to keep the spirit alive after long periods of time apart.

In other situations, people fight and never find the courage to initiate forgiveness. The rift between them grows so large that it becomes too much work to repair it. They let the friendship disintegrate, until they no longer know who that person is anymore.

As I continue to grow and learn, I’m experiencing a new kind of loss more frequently. People are starting to slowly evaporate from my life because we are no longer one in the same.

I start to feel this growing sense of distance. We were originally brought together because we had the same views, interests, and hobbies. Then, this strange thing happens, and it happens often.

People change, and then you grow apart.

These changes can be both painful and liberating. It’s painful because you can feel yourself losing someone you cared about. The person we once thought we could count on begins to dissolve into someone untrustworthy. It could be you that changed, or the other person who started behaving differently. Either way, the changes are enough to cause you to drift apart.

Lately, I’ve stopped focusing on the painful aspects of this, like losing someone who once knew you so well. Instead, I’ve figured out what’s liberating about growing apart from people.

When you let one person go, it makes room for others to enter your life. By growing apart, you allow yourself the opportunity to be surrounded by likeminded people.

Being around people with the same views is more inspiring than you can imagine. It opens up new avenues to follow your dreams. It allows you to grow as an individual. You’re free to evolve with new people, instead of being stuck in the same ruts. Instead of sticking to comfort and familiarity, you allow yourself to expand into new horizons.

I’m not saying that I think you should disown your friends or your partner. If you have someone that you can relate to on all levels, enjoy them to the fullest.  I also don’t think you should ever forget the memories you had with those special people in the past.

What I’m saying is that if you start to  feel   the    distance     growing, don’t be afraid to let it go. The loss is only occurring to make room in your life, room for the people out there who have evolved just like you have. You never know when the next door could open, and that new friend or partner could completely change your life. For the better, of course.

Leave a comment here with your thoughts.

Picking Up Where I Left Off

Oh, how I’ve missed you, Powerful Belief.

I’m sorry everyone. I’ve been neglecting my duties as a blogger lately. This is my final semester of college (woohoo!) and I’ve been busy with classes, working, and my internship at Destination Weddings & Honeymoons magazine. It’s not an excuse to cut back on my positive thinking posts, but I’ve been distracted.

I’m writing weekly blog posts for DWH, for whatever it’s worth. You can check out my first two by clicking here and here! I’m having the time of my life doing it. It gets to the point where I don’t want to leave my desk and go home. I’d rather keep writing and researching weddings/honeymoons all day long. Can you blame me?

It’s time for us to get to the good stuff, though. It’s time to talk about powerful beliefs.

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I’m writing this post for any other writers or bloggers out there, but feel free to interpret as needed to fit your life. Everything I write can easily be translated into another dream or goal, even if it isn’t the same as mine.

I want to talk about one piece of valuable advice I’ve received as a writer. It’s the one that keeps me going and keeps me striving to be better. I first heard it in Anne Lamott’s novel Bird by Bird. It goes something like this:

If you want to be a writer, just write. Write regularly, whether you feel like it or not.

The only way to be a better writer is if you keep on writing. There will be days where you can barely muster up the courage to put words on paper (or computer screen), but the only way to get better is by doing it. That’s why I’m writing this post today. I want to constantly practice, even if I’m just writing a little blog post like this one. It’s the act of doing it that sends out the positive energy.

If blogging is your passion, never stop blogging on a regular basis. It can be tough to see the purpose of our efforts. We can’t see the bigger picture of how it will pay off in the long run. Trust me when I say that it will. Every minute of practice is making you better than you were before.

If you aren’t a writer, switch out writer/blogger for whatever it is that  you wish to be. If you want to be a computer programmer, get to programming. If you want to be a yoga instructor, do some yoga. It’s simple advice, but sometimes we need the reminder.

This is my little introduction to getting back to blogging regularly. I hope to get back to my minimum of two posts a week. If you’re a writer/blogger, what’s the best advice you’ve been given? Share it with me. Leave a comment.

Don’t be Afraid to be Selfish

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Being selfish is typically a negative act. It’s defined as “lacking consideration for others; being concerned chiefly with ones own personal profit or pleasure.” This negative connotation has caused selfish behavior to be frowned upon. You might think to yourself, why would someone want to be a selfish person? Selfish people don’t care about anyone but themselves.

I want to put a spin on things. I want to tell you why being selfish is the only way you should be.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think you should ever be harmful or hurtful to others. I don’t believe in stepping on other people’s toes to fulfill your own needs, either. What I do believe is that we should always be compassionate to others, even the least deserving.

But in your compassion, never forget that you come first.

 
Here’s why:

1. The only life that you have control over is your own.
When it comes to your life, you are in the driver’s seat. You control which way to turn the wheel. You decide when it’s time to hit the gas, and also when it’s time to slam on the brakes. There will be times when the driver’s around you are driving recklessly. Not everyone realizes that they are the ones in charge of the wheel, but  sadly, you have no control over them.

We can do everything in our power to create a better life for others, but what they do with those resources is ultimately their choice. They decide how to behave and react. It’s not our opinion that matters, it’s their own. There comes a time when we should be selfish and act for ourselves. In the end, that’s all we have the power to do.

2. If you don’t care passionately about your own life, who will?
The above definition of selfish states “being concerned chiefly with ones own personal profit or pleasure.” If this is the way you behave, you should be proud of it. No one else is going to create profit or pleasure for you. No one else even concerns themselves with your profit or pleasure, aside from very valuable loved ones.

Being selfish, in my view, just means that you only concern yourself with your own life. This doesn’t mean that other people’s profit or pleasure should make you unhappy. It should make you thrilled that they had the strength to pursue their own desires. But we shouldn’t concern ourselves with their lives, only with our own.

So, I challenge you. Don’t be afraid to be selfish. Don’t let the negative connotation drive you away from caring passionately about yourself.

 

Do you agree with me? Do you disagree completely? Leave a comment, and let me hear your thoughts.

 

 

The Things We All Have In Common

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It’s easy to point out differences amongst us. Some people are physically different from one another, in terms of height, weight, and skin color. Many others have different core values and believe in a variety of religions. The human race is a vast combination of contrasts.

There’s one set of differences that I’ve been having a hard time with lately – the distinctions between my boyfriend and I. I’m not one to put my personal life out there for all to read, but I think this story has a good lesson behind it.

Let it be known. 

Opposites attract, as we’ve all heard before. In my relationship, there are many opposites that end up working out great for us. We also have an endless number of similarities that remind me of how much I love him dearly. One core value is very different between us, however, and it’s a big one. I’m a workaholic, constantly putting in 110% effort and occupying myself with work. He, on the other hand, is more of a “do what he needs to do to get by” kind of guy. He likes to put in the bare minimum amount of effort.

This drives me crazy. I can be hyper ambitious, always pushing people to work their hardest. Obviously, you all know this because you read my blog about how to follow your dreams. But for my love, at least for right now, it’s having no effect on him. He won’t be swayed by my hard work ethic.

There are times when I feel like this core difference between us could break us apart completely. I was having one of those negative days the other day, and stumbled upon this quote by Mahatma Gandhi.

We forget that despite the superficial differences between us, people are equal in their basic wish for peace and happiness.

A little bell went off in my head, in terms of my relationship and the rest of my life. It doesn’t matter what kind of differences there are between us. We are all humans. We all dream of being happy and loved by others. He may have a different way of going about his daily life, but that’s what makes him happy.

Think about this the next time you encounter someone whose differences seem worlds apart from yours. They’re also looking for peace and happiness. They have the same desire burning in them to be content and satisfied with their lives.

Like Gandhi said, many of these differences are superficial. In the larger scheme of life, in the part of the universe that’s beyond our comprehension, there are no differences between us. Once we learn how to treat all human beings with the same amount of compassion, true happiness will be known.

As always, feel free to delight me with your thoughts. Leave a comment. 

New Year, New You

2013

A sense of refreshment usually comes with the new year. We made it through the past 12 months and earned another chance at life. Feelings of hope for the future begin to emerge.

Some people use that newfound hope to establish New Year’s resolutions. This is a positive way of thinking, of course, but is it realistic? It takes serious dedication and constant reminders to stick with one resolution for an entire year. I don’t have a well-researched statistic for you, but in my own experience, my resolution failure rate is around 100%.

There has never been a year when I created a New Year’s resolution and followed through with it completely.

If you’ve created a resolution and stuck with it, I envy you, but here’s my view on things: Resolutions are often forgotten.

They begin with full intentions of being followed. Then March or April comes around. We have another set of goals in mind and start to let it slip. By the time December arrives, I have no clue what my New Year’s resolution even was.

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t grow as a person.

I often reflect on where I was last year at this time, and realize that I would never make the same mistakes I made then. I learned and experienced things that will never be forgotten. So, here’s my proposition for the year of 2013:

Use this new year to become a new you.

And by “a new you,” I mean a better you. Our core values and experiences will always be there, but we can use this new year to become a better person than we were before. It’s a great feeling to look back and see how much you’ve grown.

This doesn’t require one specific goal or resolution. All you have to do is be sure to grow and evolve. Don’t be afraid of changes. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Some of our most powerful experiences in life will occur from things that we never saw coming.

I don’t know where this year will take me, but I’m hoping that at the end of it, I will yet again feel like a new person. What can you do this year to become a new you? Leave a comment.

 

What If Failure Was Not An Option?

I was laying down on my couch two nights ago, drinking a glass of wine and watching the movie New Years Eve. Josh Duhamel, being the beautiful man he is, gave a speech near the end of the movie. I don’t remember all of the speech. I was probably distracted by his good looks, but there was one climactic part that clearly stood out.

He (and by “he” I mean Sam, the man Duhamel plays) quotes his late father, who used to always say things like this:

new-years-eve-josh-duhamel

“What would you do today, if you knew you would not fail? Then go out & do it.”

That quote struck a chord in me.

It’s a simple question to ask yourself. What would you do today, if you knew you would not fail? I’m sure you could easily come up with a number of answers. I, personally, would write a nonfiction or self-help novel. If I already knew that the book wouldn’t be a complete failure, I’d start writing it and continually push for publication. So why haven’t I done it yet?

Because fear of failure holds me back, and this fear is in all of us.

We fear that we aren’t good enough, and we don’t possess enough talent. We’re afraid that we’ll look stupid for trying to accomplish something difficult. Failure means being completely unsuccessful, so it makes sense that we would be afraid of it.

But let me remind you of one thing…

Fear is imaginary. We make it up in our minds.

So, technically, fear of failure is also made up. We are the only ones that create the possibility of failure. We are also the only ones who can decide, for good, that failure is not an option in our lives. This is where the second part of that quote comes into play.

Answer the question, then go out and do it. 

Treat failure like it isn’t even an option. Know deep down inside that you will not fail, and it will be true. Believe me when I say that fear is imaginary, and go out and start whatever you wish to accomplish in life.

I know I will write a nonfiction novel one day, and it will be successful. That day might not be today, but it will come. Today, I’m going to work on my other writing projects and know that they will not be failures.

Leave a comment and answer that question for me, what would you do if you knew you would not fail?

Be Okay With Where You Are

There are many times when I find myself worrying about the future. I want to be somewhere else, later on in life, when I’ll finally be happier. There are always things I could be doing better – exercising more, waking up earlier, working harder.

In short, I want to change. I yearn to evolve into a stronger person.

There are many aspects of life that we have no control over, like the behavior of other people and the specific opportunities that come our way. Wishing to change these things is pointless. We can always pray, letting our wishes be known to the universe, but results are never guaranteed.

In contrast, there other parts of life that we have complete control over. Only we can change how we look, what steps we take toward the future, and how we live our lives. We are the only ones who can determine what exactly we want to change about ourselves.

I think it’s great to hope for change. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be healthier or dreaming of working harder, but there’s a point that is crossed. There’s a point when people, like myself, become obsessed with change. We reach the point where we are so eager to change that we fail to realize the beauty of where we are right now.

I saw this quote on Pinterest, giving me a quick reminder of this.

be okay with it

In truth, the only thing we can be sure of is this very moment. Our lives can be taken away in an instant. Our hopes for change could vanish completely. What’s the point in always hoping to change, when tomorrow is never guaranteed?

All we can do is maintain balance between the two mind states – loving the present, and wanting to change.

What do you wish to change about your future, and what do you love about where you are right now? Keep the positive movement going. Leave a comment.

Meditation & How to Quit Overthinking

meditation

I am not a meditation expert. I can’t say I’m one of those people who wakes up at sunrise everyday, sits in half-lotus position with fingertips united, and enters a state of trance for an hour.

I have, however, experimented with it. I’ve read several books and articles on mediation techniques, and put what I learned to use. I also participate in about 10 minutes or so of meditation after every yoga practice, at the least, but it isn’t easy for me.

Meditating is a learning experience, and it’s far more difficult than it seems. I envy the people with the mental strength and patience to make it a daily ritual. It’s more than just peaceful relaxation. It’s a journey through the mind.

Here’s one important thing that meditation has taught me:

We think way too much.

The only way to realize how much thinking you do is by trying to stop doing it. Try to stop thinking completely for 15 seconds. The first time I tried doing this, I almost cried out of frustration because it was impossible. I was sitting in a silent room, with no one bothering me, but I could not stop the thoughts from popping into my head. Part of my issue was that I was thinking about not thinking… It was that bad.

Meditation can teach us to become aware of our thoughts. Our inner monologue is a constant stream of worries, observations, judgments, and the like. Unless we take the time to slow down and observe these thoughts, they will keep on coming. While meditating, the thoughts still come, but they’re fleeting. You observe them for a second, and move back into silence.

I’m not going to ask that you try and stop thinking completely for more than 15 seconds. This takes time and months of practice. I do ask that you try to do this one thing – observe your inner monologue. When you have a thought, become aware of it. I realized, after working to become more aware of each thought I have, that my thoughts tend to be negative. I let one thought get out of control.

It doesn’t have to be this way if you can become aware of your first thoughts as they appear. You’ll have a thought, realize “Wow, that was a really stupid thought,” and banish it from your mind before it can become overanalyzed. Awareness is key here. Once you become aware of  negative thoughts as they appear, you’ll have the power to erase them before they can go any further.

If anyone else has tried meditating, what lessons has it taught you? Leave a comment.

The Power of Serendipity

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So much of life depends on chance meetings, twists of fate, or pathways that suddenly branch out in a new direction. -Deepak Chopra

The quote above is one of my favorites. It embodies all that is true about serendipity, or finding great things by chance. These words have been represented in countless ways, from “Stop searching and it will come to you” to “Go with the flow.” In other words, we will get what we deserve when we least expect it, and life’s twists and turns are an important part of the path we’re meant to go down.

I want to share part of my life story with you – the story of how all of my dreams came to me by chance…

When I was a junior in high school, a friend suggested that I write for the school newspaper with her. I’d always enjoyed English more than any other subject, so I thought, why not? It was a path I’d never expected to go down, but I loved every minute of it. Interviewing people was a way for me to come out of my shell. Writing articles gave me a newfound sense of confidence.

As my senior year came to an end, our newspaper teacher suggested that I study journalism in college. He said that my writing was strong and it would take me places in life. I decided to take his advice and run with it.

One year later, I was a freshman in college, studying Magazine Journalism. I took two classes, News Reporting and Editing I, with Professor Brunson. I put my all into these classes, feeling (for the first time in my life) honest interest in the subject matter. After earning the highest score on both midterms, Professor Brunson sent me a private email. It was a message I’d never expected to receive. It was a twist of fate that branched out into the rest of my dreams in life.

He said that he was impressed by the work I’d done over the past year. He saw great potential in me and wanted to help me accomplish my goals in life. We had a meeting, discussing my dreams for the  future. He admitted me into the UCF Society of Professional Journalists and gave me the link to their Facebook page, where regular internship and job opportunities are posted.

That Facebook page is where I stumbled upon the internship opportunity at Parenting magazine. It was a life-changing opportunity. I learned the in’s and out’s of magazine publishing, writing for a magazine with millions of subscribers. It solidified my dreams, showing me that magazine writing has the power give me genuine happiness.

Last week, I stumbled upon another fantastic opportunity on the very same website. It was an internship position at Destination Weddings & Honeymoons magazine, located in the same building as Parenting. I slipped away from the Parenting office and went for an interview, and you won’t believe the result.

As I was writing this very blog post, about the luck of finding things by chance, I received a call from the editor of Destination Weddings & Honeymoons. It happened 10 minutes ago, as I was typing. They’d love it if I would be their intern for next semester, my final semester of college.

I tell you this story for a reason.

Sometimes, things that come to us by chance have the power to change our lives completely. Don’t be afraid to stray off of the path you’re on right now. One little risk I took, to write for my high school newspaper, ended up showing me all I want to achieve in life. That one experience led to my dream of being the Editor in Chief of a magazine one day.

It was serendipity, coming across a great thing by chance, that created these opportunities. One small twist of fate led to another. The same thing can, and will, happen to you. All you have to do is be open to it. Be ready to take those risks and accept the twists of fate when they come storming your way. You never know when a fork in the road will lead you to the treasure you’ve been waiting for.

Do you have a powerful story of serendipity? Share it with me. Leave a comment.