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“You can’t stop negative thoughts from coming but you can choose to not let them take root.” – Joel Osteen

All of us have experienced what it’s like to be caught up in a storm of negativity. Whether it was an offhand comment made by someone close to you, or a specific event that instigated the storm of negative thoughts, you were left feeling depleted and drained once it dissipated.  

Our triggers are subjective and personal to each of us. They depend on our upbringing and how we cope with perceived challenges. There is, however, one common denominator in this experience – beneath every negative thought lurks the phantom of fear that rears its ugly head when it senses that our security and desires are at stake.

Dark clouds of doom and gloom envelope up our senses and we quickly lose sight of what’s real and what’s not. “I’m not good enough.” “What if this plan messes up?” “What if they think I’m a quack?” “Maybe air travel is not so safe after all.” These serious thoughts remind us of our flaws and fabricate narratives that cause us unnecessary worry.   

The only way to clear out this fog of doubt is to shine a light on our thought patterns, and understand that we are ‘thinking animals’, biologically programmed to fix our circumstances. It’s a mechanism that’s coded in our DNA to ensure our safety and comfort. It serves a legitimate purpose in our survival, but when our concerns are taken too far, it can ruin our quality of life.

The Human species inclination to overthink is compounded by other personal influences such as genetics, and the environment we grew up in. When it comes to genetic makeup, some people are ‘Eeyores,’ naturally prone to focusing on the negative, while some are ‘Tiggers’, who search for the good in every situation. Most people fall somewhere in the middle.   

Our environment and the people around us also have a significant impact on the way we think. When we were kids, we internalized whatever our parents showed us through their parenting style. If they were prone to bouts of worry and anxiety, we most definitely picked up on that. Even as adults, we might be influenced by negative media, our co-workers, and friends.

Regardless of where we stand in the continuum of negativity, all of us are vulnerable to being caught up in negative thinking spirals. We must be aware when this happens, and take necessary measures to stop it. The first critical step is to figure out the type of negative thought patterns we’re experiencing. These are eight of the most common ones:


Image credit: https://family.schizophrenia.com/

Your mind might trick you into believing that being negative is a safety measure that’ll protect you from having your hopes dashed. Like a lot of people, you might mistake negative thinking for ‘being realistic’. Even though your mind might trick you into believing this, your body will never lie. You’ll experience stress-related symptoms like headaches, body aches, frequent illness, decreased energy, and insomnia.

Unfortunately, we’re living in an overmedicated society where people resort to temporary and easy measures to heal these symptoms. Instead of dealing with the root cause of their dysfunctions, they numb it with pills and escapism. Not only does this set up a toxic pattern of substance dependency, but it robs them of the opportunity to grow and learn from their experiences.   

In some cases, deeply entrenched depression and trauma will need the supervision of qualified mental health professionals, but most people can overcome their negative thoughts with some discipline and effort. Just like eating junk food and biting nails, negative thinking is a bad habit that we can control by setting up structures to maintain peace in our mental space.

How to Maintain Positivity During Tough Times | Oprah’s Life Class | Oprah Winfrey Network - YouTube

Here are a few things you can do if you ever find yourself stuck in negative thoughts:

1. Examine your history and treat deep rooted issues: Our beliefs and thinking patterns were established in our childhood. Your mental processes can shift as you mature, depending on how self-aware you are, and the amount of effort you put into restructuring your thoughts. However, you can be sure that your early beginnings play a dominant role in determining your response to events on a subconscious level. Reflect on your history and the possible origins of your negativity by writing in a journal, or working with a therapist. Ask yourself: Where did this pattern originate? Was there a particular event or person that triggered it?

2. Monitor your thoughts: After reflecting on the past, you can bring your attention back to the present. Your analysis offers the context that you need to put your current circumstances into perspective. This will make it easier to evaluate your reactions objectively. Like a fly on the wall, observe your thoughts, paying particular attention to the people and circumstances that trigger your negativity. Make notes on your thoughts and moods throughout the day, without making any judgments. Through this exercise, you’ll realize the futility of these erroneous thoughts.

3. Have a ‘negativity zapper’ toolbox: There are plenty of mental, emotional, and physical modalities that you can use to keep your negative thoughts in check. A healthy lifestyle will ensure that your physiological state is on an even keel. Emotions can be balanced through techniques such as EFT, tapping, journaling, therapy, meditation, and several others. On a mind level, you can stay conscious of the quality of your thoughts and your interpretation of events. One of my favorite techniques is ‘reframing’ a situation  – strive to see things from different perspectives. For example, if you get stuck in a traffic jam, instead of getting frustrated about the delays, view it as an opportunity to unplug and relax while you wait instead. Find a combination of tools that work best for you and your personality type.  

4. Search for the kernel of wisdom: Negative thinking is an exaggerated outlook. Although this mindset can blow things out proportion, if we scale back the fear and drama, we’ll see that there is a kernel of wisdom and insight from which we can benefit. When you’re no longer panicking, you can view your concerns through a fresh lens of practicality. Instead of letting your emotions snowball, you can take calculated steps to put yourself in a position of power and strength. For example, let’s say you’re concerned that, due to declining sales, you may lose your job. Instead of allowing this possibility to scare you, become proactive getting more information based on facts and data, rather than rumors. You can also take this as a push to search for other job opportunities that will offer more job security.  

U2 - Beautiful Day - YouTube

Cartoonist Bill Keane once said that our mind is like water – when it is agitated, it becomes difficult to see. But if you allow it to settle, the answers become clear. So, the next time that you’re feeling bleak do your best to dispel the murky thoughts of fear from the tranquility of your inner world and make room for abundance and love to flow into your space.   

All my best on your journey,

Seline

Reflection Question: How often do you find yourself stuck in a negative cycle? What do you usually do when this happens?

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The post What to Do When You Feel Stuck in Negative Thoughts appeared first on The Dream Catcher.

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“Relationships are not about finding the perfect partner, but learning to see your imperfect partner perfectly.”

If you’re a millennial like me, you grew up watching the Disney classics. These animated features of timeless tales like Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, and Snow White captured our imaginations with their idealism and beauty.

Besides the graceful princesses and their spellbinding outfits, it was the handsome princes that charmed young girls like me. Most girls of my generation will admit that their first crush was on a Disney prince – Prince Eric, Prince Philip, Prince Charming, Prince Naveen, etc. Their debonair smiles, lush hair, chiseled jaws, and charismatic personalities made them the perfect men.

Did it matter that we could never meet them in the flesh? Not at all. These characters simply became the benchmarks we would later use to size up our future love interests. Whether we admit it or not, deep down, we’re all looking for a knight in shining armor to sweep us off our feet and whisk us off into the sunset on his stallion. We want the whole fairytale package.     

Unfortunately, these early embedded romantic fantasies set us up for relationship disasters. We fall into the trap of projecting these idealized expectations on to the people we connect with. But once the passion and intensity of the initial phase of infatuation wears out, we become disappointed when we encounter a real person, with flaws and insecurities. We were so busy trying to make our object of desire fit into our story, that we overlooked their real character.

It’s no wonder that many people are finding it increasingly hard to find a lifetime partner. The number of single adults in the US and in several other nations is unprecedented. Many of these people are choosing to stay single for life. According to a 2014 Pew Report, one in four young adults will never be married by the time they reach the age of 50. Besides professional aspirations and lifestyle preferences, the inability to find the right partner plays a significant role.

Those who do end up getting married and who are under the spell of perfect love, face a higher risk of getting their hopes dashed after they tie the knot. After the wedding, once couples begin the actual work of getting to know one another, minus the romantic backdrop, they become aware of what they previously overlooked. This phenomenon is evident in the escalating divorce rates since the mid-1800’s, after the gradual acceptance of ending an unhappy marriage.

Does this mean that we throw our hands up in desperation and settle for a less-than-stellar partner? Absolutely not. We don’t have to compromise on having the relationship of our dreams – but we do have to compromise on our expectations of perfection.  The perfect partner does not exist. They are merely a construct of your imagination created to fuel fantasies.

This shift must begin with us. We need to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, the following questions: Who do I need to become to attract my ideal partner? What adjustments do I need to make in my personal outlook, traits and relating style to prepare myself for a healthy partnership? Do I have the relationship skill set and readiness that will spell success for a loving relationship?

Remove the fantasy from the canvas of your mind and replace it with a mature disposition that will make you accepting of the oddities and flaws of a real person. Prime yourself to see the perfection in the imperfection of another, love them anyway, and be willing to stick with them for the long haul.

In a world of Tinder-swiping and celebrity worship, where potential love interests are scrutinized and reduced to commodities on the dating market, we need to adopt a more humane approach in how we perceive people. When we see the foibles of others through the lens of compassion, we’ll be okay with the idea of finding Mr. / Ms. Good Enough versus Mr. / Ms. Perfect.  

You must accept potential love interests just as they are, not what they could be. You must open your heart to the truth of their story and see them as a whole person, and not someone who you should mold into your idea of what you want them to be.

How To Attract Your Ideal Partner Using The Law Of Attraction! - YouTube

Here are four ways that can develop this sensitivity:

1.  Get clear on your ‘negotiable’ and ‘non-negotiable’ partner traits: Accepting the imperfections in a potential partner doesn’t mean that you should compromise on your standards. In fact, it’s essential that you’re clear on the key qualities that are important to you, based on your needs and goals. Think about your previous relationships and ask yourself what worked, what didn’t work, and what each experience taught you about what matters most to you in a partner. You’re not going find everything in one person (because no one’s perfect!), so it helps to create three lists: negotiables (qualities you’re willing to compromise on), non-negotiables (essential traits you require in a partner), and deal breakers (the big no-no’s that cancel out everything else). Remember not to get too attached to your list and to see potential partners as whole living beings, instead of objects being evaluated based on a checklist.

2. Look for the key qualities that are required for a healthy relationship: Based on the expertise of relationship experts, certain timeless characteristics are fundamental to developing healthy, long-lasting relationships such as honesty, integrity, empathy, respect, openness, and maturity. These are the gems that are going to add sparkle and longevity to any partnership and should be prioritized in your list of non-negotiables. Some experts say that having a particular set of traits does not always guarantee that two people will get along because compatibility is not a perfect science. What’s most important is a passion and willingness to make things work, on both sides, even when there are bumps in the road.

3. Know the difference between infatuation and compatibility: When we form an image of the perfect partner, we create a fantasy that induces a sense of yearning, which we mistake for being in ‘in love’. In actuality, this amplified state of emotion is infatuation, a fleeting emotion with little or no basis on the real character of the person we’re dealing with. It’s a mirage that becomes a source of enthrallment, especially if our beau is elusive. While it’s okay to revel in the first blush of romance, at some point, we need to cool off the flames and assess if we’re truly compatible with the other person. Be wary that your passion for them may have caused you to magnify similarities and omit potential deal breakers. Take a step back, and consider the reality of the person’s character. When you take on an objective approach, you’ll be able to see them for who they truly are and decipher whether you are a good fit or not.

4. Work on improving yourself and enhancing your life: Before you can find an ideal mate, you have to be living your ideal life. The need we feel to find someone ‘perfect’ is because we’re seeking someone to fill a void in our own lives. When we do this, we’re coming from a mindset of lack and deprivation – we’ll latch onto the first person who we suspect could be ‘The One’. But if you want to attract someone worthy, you have to first clean house. When you feel content in your circumstances, you’ll attract a partner who mirrors this back to you because that’s the relationship dynamic that you’ll manifest from a state of abundance.

Peter Gabriel - In Your Eyes - YouTube

They say that love is blind – but love should be anything, but blind. If we want to be in a healthy and loving partnership, we need to have our eyes wide open to the truth of the person who stands in front of us. If we stay committed to our treasure hunt for love, we’ll eventually find a gem which sparkles in a way that captures our mind, heart, and soul. The wait and effort will be totally worth it!

All my best on your journey,

Seline

Reflection Question: What is your idea of the perfect partner? Why are those qualities important to you?

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The post Why There’s No Such Thing as The Perfect Partner appeared first on The Dream Catcher.

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“Confidence is silent, insecurities are loud”

Confidence has been championed as an integral part of a healthy mindset since as early as the 4th century, when Greek philosopher, Lucius Annaeus Seneca, said that “a lack of confidence is not the result of low confidence – rather it’s our lack of confidence that causes difficulties.”

In the past, confidence was typically seen in kings and nobility who paraded around in pompous regalia, secure in the knowledge of their financial worth and status in society. The common folk had to respect these officials, regardless of their true character.

These dynamics are still evident in contemporary society, only now, it’s an attitude that everyone attempts to emulate, whether it’s on their Instagram profile or in a high-end fashion store. In fact, we’re now encouraged to ‘fake it, till we make it’ and give others the impression of confidence because of how vital it is to our success.

This movement has spawned a new generation of ‘posers’, ‘wannabe’s’ and the nouveau riche who give off an unpleasant whiff of snobbery and entitlement, for reasons only known to them.

I’m all too familiar with this breed, having grown up in a city known to be a hotbed of glitz and glamour. My hometown attracts throngs of expatriates, looking to emulate the decadent lifestyle that they’ve seen on the glossy pages of magazines – people decked out in designer wear and driving expensive sports cars, with a backdrop of the stunning city skylines or sunny beaches.

Being surrounded by ostentatious displays of wealth for most of my life desensitized me to its allure. As I learned more about the human psyche, I could tell the difference between genuine confidence and ‘fake confidence’ by carefully observing and listening.

All of us can intuitively sense when we’re in the presence of a genuinely confident person vs. when we encounter a pretender. Even if we may not be able to pinpoint the exact signs, we can feel it when a person has it and when they lack it.

The truth is that confidence has absolutely nothing to do with a person’s financial worth, status, or looks. We can temporarily fool people with a carefully curated persona that looks prosperous, happy, and successful, both on social media or in person. We can even walk around with an air of snobbery, expecting people to give us the deference that we think we deserve.  

But none of this can ever replace the real confidence that comes from a wellspring of high self-value. It cannot replace the self-love that comes from continual growth, introspection, and personal accountability. Real confidence is a result of tying our self-worth to the value we offer others, and not to our fortune and the attention we receive from others.

Fake confidence is like a house of cards. It can collapse at any minute because of the fragility and insecurities of the person displaying it. Real confidence, on the other hand, is like a sturdy fortress that will withstand even the most blistering storms of criticism or over-the-top flattery.

You and I are just as inclined as anyone else to display arrogance. Some telltale signs of its presence are if your confidence tends to bend through the ups and downs of life, criticism knocks you off your game, or you gloat to others when given the slightest advantage or perk.

If you find yourself being driven by a need to feel important, you have to be willing to look under the hood and see what’s driving your behavior. Are there any lingering hurts from the past that have diminished your confidence? What lack are you trying to compensate for? It might help to do this inner excavation with the help of a therapist or friend to get an objective view.

It’s only when we confront our brokenness that we can piece ourselves back together to form a whole person, capable of finding a balance between strength and humility. We’ll be able to source our life force from a strong core foundation, rather than from a fickle, external world. The way you feel about yourself will become much more important than how others see you.

The Difference Between Confidence and Arrogance - YouTube

These four, key differences will make it easier for you to distinguish between confidence and arrogance both within yourself and others:

1. Arrogant people feel entitled, confident people are humble: Arrogant and confident people have different expectations when it comes to how they wish to be treated by those around them. An arrogant person usually looks down on others because they see themselves as better. They are generally poor listeners who prefer conversations centered on their interests, and they rarely apologize or own their mistakes. Because of their inflated self-image, they believe that they’re entitled, and deserve to receive attention and admiration, without necessarily earning it. Confident people, on the other hand, are humble because they see everyone as their equal. They work towards creating win-win situations for everyone and consider the interests of others to be just as important as their own.

2. Arrogance is a product of insecurity, confidence is a product of self-esteem: Behind the mask of perfection that an arrogant person wears, lurks a deep-seated fear of inadequacy. Many of them have inferiority complexes because they lack self-esteem. Acting as if they’re unique and trying to get attention through superficial means is an attempt to soothe their insecurities. They need social validation to compensate for these perceptions. Confident people, on the other hand, are comfortable in their skin and, therefore, don’t feel the need to prove anything. They have made peace with their weaknesses and replaced them with feelings of optimism, progress, and stability through self-management.

3. Arrogant people focus on making themselves feel better, confident people focus on making others feel better: Because arrogant people need to have the spotlight on them, they’ll do everything possible to say and do the things that make them stand out. They want to convince others of how amazing they are and gain their approval. If others share their stories and wins, arrogant people will either tune them out or give little importance to what they’re saying. Confident people treat each and every person with a basic level of respect and strive to connect with those around them. They are comfortable with making other people the star of the show and offering praise when appropriate because they are secure in themselves.

4. Arrogance is loud and dominating, confidence is calm and subtle: If you’ve ever had the misfortune of speaking with an arrogant person, you know that it’s not a pleasant experience. They might have tried to dominate the conversation by forcing their opinions on you, tried to one-up you on everything, or resorted to passive-aggressive tactics. Their loud and overbearing manner is in sharp contrast to the subtle disposition of a confident person who doesn’t impose their opinions on others. A confident person is comfortable with ‘agreeing to disagree’ when there are conflicting views. Their self-assurance and emotional maturity radiates as a calm and stable presence in which others can bask. They speak wholeheartedly, and they always come across as sincere in their communication.

Confident- Demi Lovato [Lyric] - YouTube

Everything that we do and every choice that we make moves us in the direction of either love or fear. When we give ourselves the freedom to express ourselves authentically and unapologetically, because we know our true worth, we move closer towards love. And that’s what will ultimately bring us the satisfaction and meaning that our soul truly desires.

All my best on your journey,

Seline

Reflection Question: Based on your experience, what do you believe are the defining traits of a confident person?

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The post The Difference Between Confidence and Arrogance appeared first on The Dream Catcher.

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“The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition.” – Carl Sagan

Almost all of us have been awestruck by an encounter with the natural world. We may have witnessed a magnificent sunset during a long drive, stood in front of a vast expanse of water before dipping our feet in, or reckoned with a mighty mountain during a hike.   

Every time we interact with nature, we’re reminded that we’re part of something so much bigger than ourselves and that we are a tiny thread in the complex fabric of a thriving ecosystem. The enormity of this reality can take our breath away and lead us down a trail of wonder if we let it.  

Biologist Charles Darwin, since the time he was a young boy, always had a deep reverence for the natural world. But his love for it blossomed when we embarked on his voyage to South America where we discovered new plant and animal species that were beyond his wildest dreams.

On careful observation, he came to the conclusion that humans are no different from other creatures on the planet. This was a bold statement to make during a time when the superiority of man was upheld in the highest regard by religious institutions and by the elites in society. He insisted that we were not divine descendants from a heavenly creator, but that we are a product of a phenomenon known as natural selection – a process where all organisms develop and evolve by inheriting genetic characteristics that increases their ability to survive, compete, and procreate. Humans are a part of this – it’s ‘survival of the fittest.’

Darwin said, “there is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one”. Yet in today’s world, with the proliferation of technology and urbanization, we’ve lost sight of this. Our egos have been inflated during this ‘age of the individual’, where we can construct make-believe worlds through social media where we are the stars of the show, immune to what we have come to consider ‘ordinary’.  

That’s not to say that we should dim our light by downplaying our importance – we do need a healthy sense of self-confidence to make it in the world. Instead, we should be watchful of allowing ourselves to veer into the territory of entitlement. Nature is instrumental when it comes to reminding us of how small and insignificant we really are in our enormous geosphere. It not only brings us ‘down to Earth’, but it motivates us to do more and be more – not because we are fundamentally lacking, but because we inherit a sense of responsibility to contribute to the growth and wellbeing of the planet. This transcendence we feel when connecting with nature helps us rise above the petty concerns and drama of everyday life and see the bigger picture.   

Nature encourages an understanding of our role in instigating chains of events that could ripple out in ways that we may not even see from our vantage point. Throwing a piece of trash on the road may teach a child passing by that it’s okay to litter the environment. Not speaking up for someone who has been bullied sends out a message that bad guys can get away with being mean. Everything that we do and don’t do matters, and nature reminds us to take heed of this truth.   

The natural world is like a grandmaster, we behold it with reverence and respect, but we also feel vulnerable in its presence. Like students, we’re humbled by its wisdom, and we open ourselves up to the many lessons that it has to teach us. We know that intelligence can be found in the most unlikely places if we’re led by our curiosity.

The strength and resilience of an oak tree, the industry of ants and bees, the protective and nurturing ways of a grizzly mother bear, the fearlessness and grandeur of a lion – when we observe deeply, we’ll see that there’s much we can learn from every facet of the natural world. When we’re willing and open to being under its tutelage, we stand to gain a lot.

We are all connected with nature: Nixiwaka Yawanawa at TEDxHackney - YouTube

Here are four reasons why nature, with all her complexity and beauty, humbles us:

1. It is our only source of sustenance: There’s a reason why we refer to our planet as ‘Mother Earth’ and associate it with feminine energy. Like a maternal figure, it nurtures and feeds us with all her bounty. The fresh water from the mountain springs, the juicy berries from her trees, and the sweet honey from bees – as far as we know, there’s no other place in the cosmos that can offer us sustenance. Neglecting to take care of our planet will ultimately cut us from her life-giving support, which could lead to the demise of our species.

2. We’re frequently reminded of its unpredictability: All of us have witnessed powerful natural phenomena like tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, floods, droughts, forest fires, and many others. As devastating and frightening as these events are, their frequent occurrence serves as a potent reminder of nature’s unpredictability and how it can turn our lives upside down. Primitive humans used to interpret these events as a sign of God’s wrath – a punishment for some kind of oversight. With the advent of modern science, fewer people interpret things in this way, but that doesn’t take away the humbling effect that comes from knowing that nature is never fully under our control and that risks are always present.  

3. It has existed since the birth of our planet: Earth formed over 4.5 billion years ago. Like an elderly relative, we respect it for its resilience through countless changes and fluctuations. From the early days of the volcanic infernos, ice ages, and dinosaurs, through to the more recent incidents such as climate change and deforestation, our planet has been through a lot. Astrophysicist Carl Sagan, in his book Pale Blue Dot, writes, “look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

4. The immense variations in size and diversity inspire us: According to scientists, our planet is currently inhabited by several million species, with more new species evolving during our lifetime. 1.8 million of these species are described as being ‘incredibly diverse’, which include the tiny celled microbes that live on parasites, to the giant organisms like Sequoia trees and blue whales. The considerable variation in color, size, features, and shapes is mind-boggling to even the most well-versed biodiversity aficionados. We can all gain inspiration from every single animal and plant on the planet and feel honored to be a part of this incredible ecosystem.

Sting - Fields Of Gold (Official Video) - YouTube

Author David McCullough Jr. once said, “climb mountains not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world.” When we climb mountains and behold the majestic vista around us, we’ll realize that our magnificence is nothing but a reflection of the magnificence of Earth. We are as much a part of the earth than anything else.

All my best on your journey,

Seline

Reflection Question: What kind of effect have your encounters with nature had on you? What did it teach you about your role in life?

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“Waste your money and you’re only out of money, but waste your time and you’ve lost a part of your life.” – Michael LeBoeuf

Have you ever found yourself questioning where did the time go? After a long day, you ruefully gaze at the clock, feeling unaccomplished and defeated. Even though you were busy all day, constantly spinning in circles, you have nothing to show for it. If only you had more time!

If you can relate to this scenario, then there’s a strong chance that you have fallen into some time wasting habits. You can be sure that there are things that you’re doing during your day that’s making you feel productive, when it’s actually soaking up your time. Like the sand grains inside a hourglass, your precious moments slowly slip away as you waste time on these tasks.

Our modern world has become a minefield of distractions. We have to tackle newer ones such as smartphones, advertisements and commercials bombarding our senses, as well as traditional types of distractions, such as loud coworkers and a disorganized home and workspace.

A study done by UC Irvine has shown that office workers, on average, are interrupted every 11 minutes and it takes 25 minutes to get re-focused on their work tasks. In the space of an eight hour workday, our brains can get interrupted for two out of those eight. Not only does our overall productivity take a hit but so does our cognitive abilities.

Mental health professionals have warned that persistent distractions can seriously diminish our ability to concentrate. It can have the same effect as the loss of a night’s sleep and put us in a hyper-alert state . Author of The Inflamed Mind, Edward Bullmore says that the frequent release of stress hormones, like cortisol, is harmful to our health and causes several physical ailments.

Instead of draining away the power of our brain, we should learn to tap into its boundless potential. We can use our mental prowess to master skills and topics that interest us. According to Malcolm Gladwell, it takes 10,000 hours of ‘deliberate practice’ to become world-class in any field. But to find that kind of time to master our craft, we must learn how to vigilantly guard it.

According to studies done by Nielsen, American adults on average are watching five hours and four minutes of television per day. Just imagine how much could be accomplished during that time frame – the number of books you can read, the number of skills you can learn and how much fitter you can be if you moved your body, instead of sitting in front of a TV or computer.

We pay a heavy opportunity cost when we choose to spend our time on activities that don’t bring us much value. From a young age, I’ve been hypervigilant when it comes to how I use my time. Consequently, I became impatient, and found myself wound up by anything that slowed me down, such as traffic jams,babblers and sitting in waiting rooms for booked appointments.

I became more restless as I grew older, because I realized that time is limited, and hence a precious commodity. But I also knew that having a sense of urgency is not conducive to a healthy state of mind – it left me feeling jittery and anxious. I needed to redefine what time wasters are and get creative in filling in the gaps of time when I’m being unexpectedly detained.   

What’s also needed is an ability to respect time, because it can be one of your biggest allies when it comes to creating a life that fulfills you. You have to grasp the gestalt of the flow of time, so that you can work with it to accomplish your goals. A balanced attitude will make you deliberate about planning for both active and inactive phases, seizing each and every moment.

How to gain control of your free time | Laura Vanderkam - YouTube

A big part of cultivating this sensibility is weeding out the time wasters in your life. These are the top five that you need to avoid if you want to attain lasting success and fulfillment:

1. The internet and media: Although the Internet and social media has gifted us with instant access to information, and connectivity to people all over the globe, it’s become a big source of distraction. The ease and convenience that our smart phones offer to access the Internet, makes it highly addictive. Every time we get a notification or a ‘like’, we get a hit of dopamine, a pleasure-inducing hormone that boosts our brain chemistry. According to research, this comes with a huge cost in productivity, with the average person spending about three hours a day on their phone and the top 25% are on their devices for 4.5 hours or more. If you would like to reduce the amount of time you spend on the social media, try limiting the number of apps and social media platforms on your phone. Set a timer while you’re browsing the Internet for fun, and get off when the timer goes off. These disciplinary measures ensures you don’t go overboard.

2. People who are unsupportive and drain you: There are certain kinds of people whose presence can be a major drain on your time and energy – like the coworker or friend who talks nonstop and constantly asks for favors, or the people in your circle who play games and who are unsupportive of you and your aspirations. We have to be especially careful in dealing with toxic individuals – people who disrespect, abuse, belittle or criticize us. These type of individuals are not only a drain your time, but on your spirit as well. The bottom line is that if anyone is adding weight to your load and aren’t contributing in anyway (love, support, knowledge, skills), then you need to either build boundaries or cut them out. You also have to learn how to say no and replace such people with those who support you and who you can ask for help.

3. Activities that are not related to your goals and aspirations: Clarity about your goals and aspirations is insufficient if you don’t back it up with consistent and strategic action. One of the vital components of your plan should include a strategy to eliminate distractions that get in the way of your productivity and derail your focus. This list should include things like replying to emails that are not related to what you’re working on or excessive time spent of leisure activities such as watching TV, staying up late to attend parties and events or playing video games. We also need to find ways to tackle chores such as cleaning the house, grocery shopping, paying bills and car maintenance in an efficient manner. You can create solid systems to complete such activities or outsource them to others, if you have the means to do so.

4. Worrying and procrastination: Internal blocks such as worrying and procrastination can slow us down or stop us in our tracks, causing us lose time. When we worry about an outcome that we can’t predict or control, we are wasting precious energy, which could have been used in more constructive ways. Worrying leads us to procrastinate and put things off to another day when it could have been done today. Instead of burying our heads in the sand, we got to break the cycle by addressing the psychological barriers that are blocking us. Find out what will instill the motivation and drive to tackle the task and complete it in the time frame that you desire. You can find more ideas on how to beat procrastination in this previous post.  

5. A disorganized environment and schedule: Disorganized and messy workspaces have been found to be a significant productivity killer, based on studies done by neuroscientists. Physical clutter depletes your attention span and increases stress levels, which plummets your performance levels. Along with an organized environment, we need to ensure that we have plan that streamlines our activities in a timely manner. A clear and well thought-out plan is sure-fire way to avoid wasting time on tasks that aren’t important, and giving priority to the things that count. You’ll establish a flow in your activities, while steadily making headway in your plans.   

Johnny Hates Jazz - Turn Back The Clock - YouTube

If you’re regretful about wasting time on certain jobs, relationships and projects in your past, take heart in knowing that you can redeem them based on what you extract from those experiences. If you look back on them through the eyes of wisdom and compassion, you’ll be able to glean the lessons, which will be instrumental in creating the bright future that you desire.

All my best on your journey,

Seline

Reflection Question: What are the biggest time wasters in your life? How do you plan to get rid of them?

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“How do you spell love?” – Piglet

“You don’t spell love – you feel it!” – Winnie the Pooh

Most of us would agree with Pooh on this one. Love, in its purest form, can’t be captured in words – it must be experienced to be understood.

Dictionaries describe love as an ‘intense feeling of deep affection’. Poets, writers, and philosophers from every historical era used vivid imagery, colorful metaphors, and enchanting narratives to capture this enthralling emotion.

No matter what our perspective on love, there’s no denying its importance to our wellbeing. Love and belonging are on the top of our pyramid of needs, along with other essentials like food, water, shelter, and safety. We are an interdependent species that need each other to survive. Our ancestors instinctively realized that a solitary existence could spell disaster, motivating them to greater cooperation.

Love lies at the foundation of healthy relationships. It’s the glue that holds us together, allowing us to contribute to our shared existence and help one another. It’s love that instills a genuine concern for the welfare of others and makes us responsible members of family, national, and cultural groups with which we are affiliated. Through love-based connections, we experience support, acceptance, protection, and comfort, whether that be with a partner, friend, family member, or pet.   

And yet, based on recent statistics, it seems that a large segment of the global population is not feeling the love. Several studies indicate that more than 300 million people (that’s 4.4% of the global population), are suffering from depression and loneliness. It’s estimated that about one in four people will experience a mental health condition during their lifetime.

These staggering figures are a result of various factors, including the hectic pace of modern life, and overstimulation from technology and the media. There has also been a significant shift from community-based societies to ones that focus more on the individual. Individualism tends to isolate people and cut them off from the possibility of forming genuine connections with those around them.    

Even people who are in relationships are not satisfied. There seems to be a growing disconnect, no matter what form their relationship takes because they don’t know how to communicate their feelings. Even if there is genuine love, it may feel like you and the people around you are not on the same page.

Like two foreign dignitaries who face difficulties in understanding each other, both of you might feel like you speak different languages. According to Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, people do, in fact, experience love differently and speak different love languages. We all have our own love language that describes the way we feel loved and appreciated, and it’s highly possible that our partner, family member, friend, or child may experience love differently – they speak another love language.

The five languages are:

You can find out what your top love languages are by taking the free assessment here.

Understanding your love language and those who you’re close to will help bridge any communication and intimacy gaps. You’ll find it easier to give and receive love in more meaningful ways, which will deepen your bond and bring you closer together.

When you understand the love languages, you’ll know which actions will have a favorable impact on those you care about and make it possible to convey your standards. It fulfills the ultimate goal of relationships – to make both parties feel accepted and loved.

The 5 Love Languages Explained - YouTube

Learning about the five languages has enhanced almost every important relationship in my life, but it’s also shifted my perspective on the mindset needed to create them. Here are the top three lessons that I garnered from my experiences:

1. Focus on how your love is received, not just how you feel when you offer it: The objective of every relationship is to both give and receive love. Yet most people are fixated on how other people show them love and affection, instead of thinking about how their expressions of love (or lack thereof) are being received by others. While it’s essential to ensure that you’re being treated with respect and dignity, ensuring that you offer the same to those you love is just as important. Take the time to figure out your loved ones’ love language based on their reactions to what you do for them, or by simply asking them what they appreciate most.  

2. Attention to details and thoughtfulness go a long way: In the initial stages of any relationship, or in times of need, we tend to magnify everything about the other person. We’re eager to please, so we’re willing to go through great lengths to win their trust and affection. But once the novelty wears off, our focus on them is shifted toward other concerns. However, when we pull back, others may experience it as a loss of interest and feel less important. If this occurs, you can prevent these feelings by taking conscious steps to make them feel seen, heard, and understood. Use your words and actions to convince them they are always part of your world. For example, buy them a book by their favorite author, speak to them about projects that they are working on, and pay attention to their stories of struggle and triumph, offering them support.  

3. Small gestures are just as important as the big ones: We tend to believe that it’s the grand gestures, like expensive dinners and vacations, or pricey gadgets and jewelry, that impress. While these gifts may be appreciated by your loved one (especially if one of their top love languages is ‘receiving gifts’), they aren’t necessary to make them feel loved. In fact, if done excessively, it might cause them to feel uncomfortable and suspicious of your motives. A person who isn’t materialistic will appreciate even the smallest gestures of affection from you – a cute text message during the day, cleaning the dishes when they’re unwell, giving them a massage to ease their tension. All these small acts of kindness add up to big feelings of love and continuously remind your loved ones that they hold a cherished place in your heart.  

Haddaway - What Is Love [Official] - YouTube

Love is the language of the soul. That’s why it nourishes and strengthens us on the deepest level. We are not merely biological machines, existing to survive. We are here to experience the warm and loving glow that comes from sharing our journey with others. Bonding with other beings is an essential part of our soul’s evolution and growth.   

All my best on your journey,

Seline

Question for you: What did you learn when you found out about your love language? Has it shifted the dynamics in your relationships?

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Over the last couple of decades, gratitude has become a popular buzz word in the field of self-empowerment. Being grateful is now considered to be one of the most effective ways to create an abundant and joyful state of mind. By simply paying attention to our blessings, we can instantly get rid of unpleasant feelings of lack and dissatisfaction.

According to the metaphysical law, the law of attraction, whatever we focus on expands. If we focus on all the abundance around us, we can attract more prosperity into our lives. On the other hand, if we focus on what’s wrong or missing in our situation, we’ll block anything good from entering our life.

Clearly, gratitude is an essential ingredient for building a successful and healthy mindset. The quality of our life can be significantly enhanced by maintaining a regular gratitude ritual, such as writing a gratitude journal, praying and giving thanks, or training our mind to see the silver lining in any situation.

But could being too grateful possibly deflate our desire for progress? Can we delude ourselves into believing that our life is good enough because we have plenty to be grateful for? Can we experience feelings of guilt when wanting more because we see it as a sign of not being grateful?

The answer is yes. I’ve seen this tendency in me and in other people as well. To illustrate how this can play out in real life, let me share a true story of one of my friends.

A close friend of mine from college (let’s call her Jenny) found a job at a Fortune 500 immediately after graduating. Like any other wide-eyed graduate, Jenny was thrilled about the offer and felt extremely lucky about securing a position at this prestigious multi-national firm.

During her first few months of working there, I would touch base with Jenny to see how she was getting along. She confessed that her work was menial and that her boss was making her work very long hours, but she was still grateful and happy. I knew that was not being truthful as I could hear pain in her voice.

Having not see Jenny since she started her job, I hardly recognized her when I finally did meet her. She had gained weight, developed bags under her eyes, and was a shadow of what she used to be. She looked tired, worn out and had lost that signature sparkle in her eyes.

During our conversation, I did not hold back from expressing my concern about her. I urged her to consider finding another job so that she could have a better work-life balance. Fortunately, she took my advice and found a job at a company that offered great opportunities for career growth but also allowed her to have a life outside the office.

This story shows how people can use gratitude to hide from the truth of their life and avoid making the changes that they know they need to make. This also implies that gratitude is a practice that can help us, only if it’s complemented with self-awareness and honesty about our life situation.

This issue also reminds me of a scene from the Disney animated movie The Lion King, where Mufasa’s spirit approaches Simba to remind him that “he is more than what he’s become”. After being exiled from his kingdom, Simba slipped into a state of complacency and lived the “Hakuna Matata” philosophy of life to escape from his past. When he came of age, Mufasa’s spirit stepped in to tell him that he needs to get out of his comfort zone and step up to the plate, if he wants to take his rightful place as king.

There may have been several points in our life when we felt like Simba. Our complacency might have led us to bury our heads in the sand and allow things to happen without our intervention. It’s this kind of attitude that can cause a person to settle for less in life and gradually lose his or her sense of ambition.

The good news is that we can turn things around by learning how to maintain a balance between the steadiness of a grateful state and the strong tug of our goals. The trick is to create just the right amount of tension to feel driven, but not so much that we become weary.

Eckhart Tolle and Oprah Winfrey - Abundance and Gratitude - YouTube

Here are some ideas on how we can locate and stay in this sweet spot:

1. Set challenging goals and remind yourself of them on a daily basis: Goal setting is a must if we want to achieve success in any area of life. Goals make dreams real, tangible and attainable. There’s lots of great material on goal-setting. Some of my favorite books on this topic are by Brian Tracy and Jack Canfield. Try writing your goals down in a notepad on a daily basis to reinforce their importance.

2. Acknowledge your progress and milestones: Acknowledging your progress will keep you motivated. Most people have a tendency of wanting the ‘whole enchilada’ as soon as possible. However, sometimes our goals take time to unfold. During this process, it’s important to reward ourselves for the progress and small successes we achieve along the way, if we want to feel good about our efforts.

3. Balance your life with relaxation and play: While attempting to achieve our goals, it’s important to create a balanced life by making time for relaxation and play. Without this there is a high chance that we will burn out and crash, just as my friend Jenny did. You can learn about creating balance in this post.

4. Have lots of self-compassion: You will inevitably face challenges and make mistakes along the way. Accept that this is a necessary part of your learning curve and don’t beat yourself up for it. Remind yourself that the reason why you are putting yourself out there is because you believe that you are worthy of living your best life, and not because you are broken and need to be fixed.

5. Maintain a practice of gratitude: While we’re engaged in all the above activities and we shift towards healthier perspectives, we’ll be in a better place to connect to a genuine sense of gratitude, because we have developed a strong internal foundation and an exciting vision for our life.

Bob Marley-Don't worry be happy - YouTube

William Arthur Ward once said that “feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it”. I believe that if we wrap this present up with a full sense of our most authentic self, before handing it over to the world, we can make the gift so much more special.

All my best on your journey,

Seline


Question for you: What role does gratitude play in your life? Has it had any effect on your sense of ambition and your drive?

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“Enlightened leadership is spiritual if we understand spirituality not as some kind of religious dogma or ideology but as the domain of awareness where we experience values like truth, goodness, beauty, love and compassion” – Deepak Chopra

Since the dawn of time, people have been governed by leaders. In the past, kingdoms were led by tribal chiefs, kings, queens, and nobility. Over the years, leadership roles have shifted from these autocratic titles to democratic ones such as President and Prime Minister.

Even though leadership labels and regimes have changed, the concept has stayed the same. Leaders typically possess a set of skills and personality traits that facilitate their ability to guide, make decisions, and direct their subordinates to accomplish common goals.

In theory, this is what is expected of a leader, but often the individuals who take up this role do not follow through. An unjust, biased, and arbitrary selection process can result in the election of a head who is unqualified, emotionally unstable, and power-hungry. With all this baggage, people under such rulership are vulnerable to the gaps in their leaders’ ability.  

History has plenty of examples of incompetent and ruthless rulers who left their kingdoms in a state of disarray, chaos, and destruction – Attila the Hun, Queen Mary I of England, Vladimir Lenin, Fidel Castro, and Mao Zedong are just a few examples. The scars of their leadership remain in the souls of many and serve as a warning to the consequences of having a leader who lacks heart.

While an ironfisted attitude and astute military strategies are instrumental in gaining territory and intimidating enemies, it can jeopardize people’s wellbeing if taken too far. Leaders who overuse this approach are almost always driven by greed and the desire for personal glory. They followed the Machiavellian leadership code that encourages “a duplicitous interpersonal style, a cynical disregard for morality, a lack of empathy, and a focus on self-interest and personal gain.”

Fortunately, some leaders chose differently. Their policies, centered on creating better conditions for their people, were influenced by enlightened ideas on leadership. These ideas were propagated by the doctrines of the Roman pater familias and Confucianism, which states that “a leader’s primary purpose is to serve the people and guide them.”

Rulers influenced by these principles are responsible for ushering their states into eras of progress, peace, efficiency, and stability. Ancient leaders like Cyrus of Persia and Ashoka of India, and leaders from modern history like Churchill, Gandhi, and Mandela are prime examples. Their contributions were profound and changed the course of history for the better.  

Conscious and heart-centered leadership is needed now more than ever. Pertinent global issues that involve environmental ethics, world peace, and the resolution of inequality, world hunger, and poverty can only be fixed with a compassionate form of supervision. We need to move away from fear-based devices like armies and firearms, to ones that are rooted in compassion and wisdom like negotiation, collaboration, and cooperation.

If we have to evolve toward an elevated plane of existence as a species, we have to choose leaders who are capable of taking us there. Although the past cannot offer us a magic formula or a precise template for benevolent and effective leadership, it does suggest patterns and nuances from which we can glean a balanced leadership style.

Why good leaders make you feel safe | Simon Sinek - YouTube

Through their life stories, great leaders have shown us the nature of benevolent leadership and potential outcomes. Here are four lessons that we can learn by their example:

1. Good leadership requires a balance of both masculine and feminine energy: Leadership has traditionally been associated with masculine qualities like assertiveness, independence, action-orientation, and rational and logical thinking. However, too much masculine energy, to the exclusion of gentler feminine traits, can cause an imbalance. Good leadership requires a combination of masculine and feminine characteristics such as empathy, relationship-based intuition, receptivity, patience, and compassion. Mahatma Gandhi is someone who was able to establish this balance in his leadership approach. Even though he was determined to achieve his end goal (India’s independence from British colonization), he successfully enforced his will through a policy of non-violence and civil disobedience versus outright aggression and brute force.   

2. A solid sense of ethics and morality form the bedrock of benevolent leadership: You can’t be a benevolent leader if you’re not a person of good character with a moral compass that points to what is right and wrong. A foundation of personal ethics will influence a leader to create rules that are fair and just for everyone. During her tenure as First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt was an advocate for the civil rights of African Americans, as well as a supporter for women rights. In her syndicated newspaper column titled ‘My Day’ she voiced her thoughts on various social and political issues. After her husband’s death, she served as a U.S. delegate to the United Nations where she played a key role in drafting the Universal declaration of rights.

3. Being a good leader doesn’t make you naive and ignorant: Benevolent leaders are often seen as being too ‘soft’, naive, passive, and yielding by their contemporaries. It was feared that the head of state could easily be taken advantage of by their more cunning and cut-throat enemies. Although kind and trusting leaders have been exploited and crushed in the past, it’s essential to understand that it wasn’t their altruism that got them into trouble, but other factors such as a lack of a good strategy and foresight to prepare them for potential threats. Queen Elizabeth I was a tolerant ruler who tried to make England a fairer place for everyone. However, she was always one step ahead of everyone. She was a strong and formidable leader who wasn’t shy of using her clever, shrewd, and ruthless ways to protect her country’s interest.  

4. Leaders make the best decisions when they listen and learn: The archaic model of leadership implied that the king or queen was bestowed with God-like powers that instilled an inherited ability to make the best decisions for their people. Leaders raised with this belief developed a sense of grandiosity, convinced that they could make any decisions despite what their subjects thought. King Louis XVI is one such example – he was eventually beheaded by the French revolutionaries for his ignorance. A benevolent ruler on the other has the wisdom and humility to know that the best decisions are the ones that are made through discussion and alliance. They step out of an ego-mindset and listen to their constituents, and make informed decisions based on that communication. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, President John F. Kennedy insisted that he listen to various points of view from his advisors before deciding how to tackle the Soviet challenge in Cuba. He believed in the value of selecting strong and independent subordinates as a safeguard against making poor decisions.

John Farnham - You're The Voice (lyrics) - YouTube

No matter how vast their ‘kingdom’ is, a leader has the sole responsibility to construct policies that will collectively benefit everyone. Before signing any paper, they need to ask themselves if approving a particular course of action will improve the life of another. Whether they realize it or not, their jurisdiction affects the destinies of many. This is a responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

All my best on your journey,

Seline

Reflection Question: Which leaders from history inspire you the most? Which of their qualities do you most admire and why?

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“Love sees clearly, and seeing, loves on. But infatuation is blind; when it gains sight, it dies.” – Mary Roberts Rinehart

“These violent delights have violent ends

And in their triumph die, like fire and powder

Which, as they kiss, consume” ― William Shakespeare

Shakespeare perfectly captures the flavor of infatuation in this excerpt from his classical masterpiece, Romeo and Juliet. Words such as ‘violent delights; ‘fire and powder’ and ‘consume’, speak to the intensity and volatility of this type of affection.

We’ve all had a taste of what ‘violent delights’ feel like, either personally, or vicariously through novels, movies, and songs that written on the subject. In our teenage years, we may have had crushes, happily throwing ourselves into the rapture of young love. As crazy as those experiences were, they had a certain charm.     

Once we reach a particular stage in life, usually in our 20’s-30’s, we must transition toward a more mature kind of love if we wish to be in a healthy and committed partnership. It’s a rite of passage that we need to experience in our quest for adulthood.

There are a significant number of people who do not make that transition, and as a result, they find it hard to tell if they are in love or merely infatuated with a person. We certainly shouldn’t blame them for it – in the beginning stages of any romance, you’re totally smitten. Both love and infatuation appear to be relatively similar, and it’s easy to get confused.

I was one of those people. Having grown up watching Disney fairytales and rom-coms, I was the perfect candidate for falling under the spell of romantic illusion. Like a decadent, sugary cookie, the prospect of love offered a sweet high, but once the effect wore off, I would come crashing down to reality. This type of love is addictive, which is why it was hard to break the cycle.

After some rough experiences, I had a day of reckoning when I observed an elderly couple in a park. The lady gingerly helped her husband sit down on a bench as he let go of his walker. She sat down beside him and opened a bag of chips and, after eating some herself, she proceeded to feed her companion. They held hands and looked out over the lake, not saying a word.

This scene left a lasting impression on me and made me question my idea of love. The love between this old couple was palpable, but it looked nothing like what is portrayed in popular culture. Their love was characterized by familiarity, understanding, comfort, and teamwork as opposed to pure physical attraction, desire, and unbridled passion. While it’s possible that the initial attraction between them might have sparked an infatuation, they didn’t allow their feelings to burn out. Instead, they stoked the embers into a long-lasting bond.

The next time you meet someone who captures your interest, go ahead and enjoy the first blush of romance, but avoid being completely swept away by its seductive allure. Get curious about your sweetheart – see them as they are, with all their flaws, instead of putting them on a pedestal and idolizing them.

Why do we get crushes? | Isabelle O'Carroll | TEDxBrixton - YouTube

Once you’ve seized the reigns of your reasoning, keep these five key differences in mind to figure out whether you’re in love or you’re simply infatuated:

1. Love is based on reality, infatuation isn’t: Even though infatuation can feel like real love, it isn’t. Relationship expert Susan Winter says, “infatuation lives in illusion. Love can survive reality.” When we’re infatuated with someone, we are in love with the idea of them and not the actual person. We project our romantic fantasies and expectations onto them and delude ourselves into believing they will live up to it. Love, on the other hand, is being in love with who the person really is, after getting to know them. You see their humanity and consider their positive and negative traits, their behavior on ‘good and bad’ days, and you love them anyway.

2. Love takes work, infatuation doesn’t: It’s easy to become infatuated with someone. When you see a person you’re attracted to, you instantly latch onto them, part of you feels like you ‘own’ them, and they become a dominant part of your world. The attachment gets stronger every time you think about the person, and all of this can take place without any effort or interaction with them. Love, on the other hand, moves beyond the realm of our imagination and into the real world.  When two people are in love, they’re willing to roll up their sleeves to cultivate and nurture their relationship. The bond deepens as both parties experience life’s ups and downs and they work through the inevitable lulls and rough patches.

3. Love is long-term, infatuation is short-lived: When we’re in love with someone, we’re in it for the long-haul. You know that you’re in love when you feel committed to someone in your heart, and you decide that you want to be devoted to them for many years to come. Infatuation may start out with similar sentiments, but it doesn’t usually last very long. There will be a point when your interest wanes, usually out of boredom, distraction, or when you spot a flaw that you don’t like. Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay highlights this truth in her poignant quote: “I know I am but summer to your heart, and not the full four seasons of the year.”

4. Love is liberating and slow-moving, infatuation is demanding and impatient: Falling in love is a slow and liberating process. It’s steady and comforting because we take our time to open up and build intimacy with another. We don’t feel any pressure to ‘possess’ the person, and there’s no urgency behind our desires. Like a boat that glides across a lake, we enjoy the relaxing pace and the beautiful scenery along the way. Infatuation consumes our full attention and throws us off balance. We might become obsessive, jealous, and do crazy things to get the other person’s attention. You could feel like you’re losing yourself because you constantly daydream about your love interest. Consequently, other areas in your life will stagnate.

5. Love involves acceptance, infatuation seeks perfection: When you’re infatuated with someone you measure their worth based on how well they live up to your expectations about how they should act and the direction that the relationship should take. Infatuation can only thrive when we exalt our partner – any hint of their blemishes can destroy the fantasy which we’ve concocted in our imagination. When we’re in love, we understand that no one is perfect. That’s why we don’t try to control them or make them fit our concept of the perfect partner. We adopt the mindset of compassion when seeking to understand our partner’s story. Because our love is unconditional, we provide them with a safe space to grow and be vulnerable.

6. Love comes from the soul, infatuation comes from the ego: Unconditional love is a product of the soul. It is profound, genuine, and life-changing. Being in love leads to the expansion of your soul. Therefore, it will intuitively feel right to you in every way. You connect with the deeper aspect of an individual such as their hopes, aspirations, and values, and you share a common vision for the future. Infatuation, on the other hand, is purely superficial and based on ego desires – you may like them because they’re ‘cute’, ‘hot’, ‘have a nice car’, ‘have an Ivy league education’ etc. If your attraction to a person is based on shallow traits, rather than deeper ones, you can be sure that you’re infatuated with them.

Ronan Keating - When You Say Nothing At All - YouTube

A healthy kind of love is like a strong and robust tower that provides us with security and shelter. Within this ‘tower of love,’ we can enjoy the warm fires of passion, while also revelling in the comfort of having a place that we can call home – a place that will nourish us for years to come.

All my best on your journey,

Seline

Reflection Question: How can you tell whether you’re infatuated or you’re in love with someone? What signs do you look for?

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“Do not ignore your gift. Your gift is the thing you do the absolute BEST with the LEAST amount of effort.” – Steve Harvey

Report card day was probably the most stressful day as a student. You probably had butterflies in your tummy as you anxiously awaited your results. Teachers and parents made you feel like your whole future depended on your grades.

That one document carried a lot of weight because it determined your potential for future success. Based on your performance, you were placed into either the ‘smart’ or ‘not-so-smart’ category. Unless you had conscious caretakers around you who elevated and encouraged you, no matter what grades you got, this type of classification had an impact on your confidence.

The problem with school grading systems is that it only measures for certain types of intelligence. It inadvertently tips the scales in favor of those who excel in mainstream subjects like math, science, and languages. However, by putting only certain types of brilliance on a pedestal, school authorities alienate those who are gifted in other ways.    

While school gives us the basic education to prepare us for a stable professional life, it fails to provide an accurate measure of what we’re truly capable of achieving. There are plenty of examples of accomplished people who were considered poor students but went on to become trailblazers once they uncovered their hidden talents. Einstein is one such example.

Albert Einstein’s teachers referred to him as a poor student who had a learning disability. Some have claimed that one of the reasons he struggled in school was because he was dyslexic, making it a challenge for him to communicate in the formal confines of German schooling. Fortunately, Einstein didn’t let the judgement of his teachers go to his head. He eventually found his stride, at which point, academic institutions such as the University of Netherlands and Princeton invited him to teach.

The good news is that our society is beginning to recognize the flaws in our limited outlook on intelligence, and education systems are changing accordingly. As we learn more about the brain and its boundless capacity, we’re seeing that conventional methods of evaluating intelligence, like IQ and standardized tests, simply can’t give a holistic insight into cognitive ability.

One of the first people to pick up on our narrow view on intelligence was development psychologist Howard Gardner. He didn’t see intelligence as one-dimensional or a single generalized ability that belonged to a lucky few. What other scientists referred to as ‘soft skills’, were in fact ‘modalities’ of intelligence based on Gardner’s theory. In his book, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, he suggests that there are nine types of intelligence:      

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons BetsyOconnor

If you’re curious to know your intelligence type, you can take this online assessment to find out.

Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences suggests that someone who is ‘people-smart’ or a brilliant musician is just as smart as someone who is a math whiz. This perspective on different intelligences levels the playing field and makes room for all kinds of talent to flourish.  

Although everyone has a small part of all the nine intelligences in them, each one of us will be particularly strong in one or two specific areas, and it’s essential to be aware of them as soon as possible so that you can develop your strengths more thoroughly and eventually gain mastery.

It’s critical that you unearth those inclinations that are a true reflection of your unique chemistry because it will have a significant impact on your self-esteem. If you’re made to follow a particular career path in which you’re mediocre or below average, not only will you waste your natural gifts, but you’ll lose confidence in your abilities. For instance, if you know that you’re an excellent dancer but your well-intentioned parents convinced you to get a ‘real job’, you’ll feel perpetually dissatisfied because you can’t shine in your field.

The 9 Types of Intelligence - What Your Talents Reveal About You - YouTube

You can resist falling into this trap by understanding your unique type of intelligence and leveraging on it. Here are four ways that you can build on, and express your genius:

1. Acknowledge your unique type of intelligence: Once you discover your type of intelligence take the time to absorb and own it. Journal your thoughts, and discover how this aspect of yourself makes you feel about your identity and your future. If you were one of those kids who was made to feel dumb by teachers and other grown-ups because you weren’t intelligent based on their criteria, acknowledge the pain from those experiences and take steps to heal it. Replace those holes in your self-esteem with empowering thoughts, and recognize your worth.

2. Look for outlets where you can apply your intelligence: Seek opportunities where you can utilize your intelligence. You can find ways to use it in your current profession or in a hobby or vocation outside your work. What’s important is that you allow your talent to be seen in the world – it will give you a boost of energy and make you feel like you’re in power. For instance, if you’re an accountant by profession, but you know you also have high musical intelligence, you can join a choir and take singing lessons. If you’re a recruiting manager and you have high visual and spatial intelligence, you can spend time on the weekends painting.

3. Improve and build on your natural intelligence: The road to mastery requires that we regularly work on our craft. Anyone who has excelled in any field has had to educate themselves and receive guidance from trainers, mentors, and others with more experience. Similarly, you can build on your knowledge and boost your performance by signing up for classes, reading, and getting an apprenticeship with someone who is well versed in your field. No matter how good you become, stay humble, and don’t stagnate out of complacency. Your brain is brimming with potential which can only be utilized if you’re willing to stretch yourself and move beyond your comfort zone.

4. Recognize the intelligence of others: Recognizing other people’s intelligence is just as important as acknowledging the intelligence in yourself. This is especially important if you’re in a leadership position such as a parent, teacher, or manager. Walt Disney was well-known for his uncanny ability to identify people’s gifts and hire them for projects that matched their skills. In this way, he was able to hire the best talent for his projects while also boosting the morale of his staff. Even if you’re not in a leadership position, you can pick out professionals to fill in the gaps in your knowledge. Not good with numbers? Hire an accountant to do the number-crunching. Strategically outsourcing your weakness will free up time for you to work on your strengths.

John Mayer - No Such Thing with lyrics - YouTube

While our intelligence might bring us financial success, accolades, and fame, we should not allow these rewards to be the main drivers to harness it. Instead, we should view our smarts as a vehicle to mobilize our soul-mission of fulfilling our potential and helping others. The trail we leave behind will bear our unique signature in the eternal sands of time.

All my best on your journey,

Seline

Reflection Question: What are your two strongest types of intelligence and how do you currently use them?

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The post The 9 Types of Intelligence and How to Use Them appeared first on The Dream Catcher.

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