Month: May 2021

Lessons from an Errant Rocket Ship

From time to time, it’s good to be reminded of your insignificance. Last week provided an opportunity in the form of a Chinese rocket that was falling to the earth.

Perhaps you heard about it. Thankfully, all was well in the end, but until it landed, no one knew where the rocket would touch down. It could have been anywhere on earth! Just think about it: for all the advances of science and technology, we had no idea where on the entire planet a rocket would decide to return.

Of course, this could also serve as a reminder of mortality: a something could crash on our heads at any given time with no warning. Surprise! But to me, that point—which some media reports focused more on last week—is less interesting. Sure, rockets could fall on our heads, but such incidents are pretty far down on the list of freak accidents.

The greater point is that even considering all of the smart people in the world who know about such things, no one has answers to some pretty important questions, such as where an errant, fast-moving rocket might choose to show up.

What does this suggest? To me it suggests three things.

1. It’s a small world (after all).

Planet Earth seems quite large to most of us as we go about our days, coordinating meetings on different time zones or looking forward to the days of long-distance travel resuming. But when a rocket ship reenters the earth’s atmosphere, it has first dibs on where it wants to land: no ocean, continent, or land mass is off limits. Not only that, it doesn’t even have to tell us in advance what it decides!

Just as time is short, the world is small. Combine the two and you end up with the most basic facts of life: we have a brief time to spend in a small space.

2. Big problems for humanity are still out there, waiting for someone to solve them.

How did the smartest people in the world not have any idea where a rocket would land? I wonder if a physics student (or a philosophy student, who knows) will be inspired by the errant rocket landing and decide to start working on this problem. Imagine the thought process: Weird, I guess no one’s figured that out before. Maybe that can be my thesis project.

And then they go on to not only write a thesis but also solve the problem of random rockets landing randomly. Wouldn’t that be a pretty great achievement?

Presumably, there are many other important, unresolved problems like this one, just waiting for the right person to get to work.

3. Random events—like rockets falling from the sky—can inform our lives in a non-random way.

Maybe we should take life more seriously, because it’s so precious—or maybe it should be less seriously, because we have so little control over it.

I find myself going back and forth between these two perspectives. On the “more seriously” side, I tend to ask myself questions like these on a regular basis:

  • What is the single most important thing you should do today?
  • How much of your time are you filling with unimportant things?
  • What is your moonshot goal?
  • What really matters, right now?

And on the “less seriously” side, I tend to remind myself of a basic principle:

Let go of what you can’t control—and once you think you’ve done that, let go of more, because you are still overestimating what you have control of.

That’s pretty much the whole process for the “less seriously” side: let go, and then let go of more.

Putting It Together

How to reconcile these seemingly divergent perspectives? I don’t think the answer is “somewhere in the middle,” because that’s a) too obvious, and b) boring. The better answer is: both are true, simultaneously.

Speaking of scientists and philosophers, there’s a good chance that free will is an illusion—but who cares? If true, there’s nothing we can do about it, just like we can’t (currently) predict or influence what happens when a rocket falls from the sky.

To me, the greater lesson is that we should live bolder and take more risks, whether or not we’re “deciding” or merely following a neurologically predetermined path.

We should identify and spend time on important problems, because those errant rocket trajectories aren’t going to solve themselves. When you aren’t sure what to do, however, it’s usually better to do something than to remain stuck. Sometimes the process leads to an unforeseen outcome.

This is true because even though the planet is tiny and a rocket could land anywhere, it is still a pretty beautiful planet, and the rocket isn’t landing on your head today. Hopefully, at least.

Chris Guillebeau is the New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness of Pursuit, The $100 Startup, and other books. During a lifetime of self-employment, he visited every country in the world (193 in total) before his 35th birthday. Every summer in Portland, Oregon he hosts the World Domination Summit, a gathering of creative, remarkable people. His new book, Born for This, will help you find the work you were meant to do. Connect with Chris on Twitter, on his blog, or at your choice of worldwide airline lounge.

Image courtesy of Kindel Media.

14 Tips for Staying Focused on Your Work

Staying Focused on Your Work

Why you need to focus on your work?

Without focus, you will be making mistakes, and you will need to start over again.

If you cannot stay focused on your work your productivity would be low.

You might not like your work, and therefore, do not care about it. In this case, it would be a good idea to look for a more interesting job.

However, if you wish to be efficient in your present job, finish your work on time, and do it more efficiently, you need to focus on your work.

In every area of life, those who succeed, focus their attention on their work, look for ways to do it better, and focus on solutions and positive results, rather than on failure.

Of course, the best way to improve your focus in every area of life, would be to train yourself regularly, with concentration exercises.

I have written book on this topic, for those who wish to delve deeper into this subject.

In this post, I want to focus on simple ways you can adopt, to stay focused when working.

Focus Your Attention

Focus Your Attention
• Is your attention span too short?

• Do you wish to improve your concentration?

• A focused mind enables you to carry out everything faster, more efficiently, and with fewer mistakes.

• Learn how to focus your mind and attention!

I Want More Info

14 Tips to Help You Stay Focused on Your Work

Ways to help you focus on your job, and avoid distractions while working.

1. Clear Understanding of Each Task

You need to understand each work task, what you need to do, and what should be the outcome.

This would help you know where to focus your efforts, and avoid wasting time guessing what you need to do.

2. Choose a Comfortable Chair and a Good Table

If your posture is not comfortable your mind will not be at ease. You will constantly move, trying to have a better sitting position. You will get nervous and tired, and your eyes might ache.

All this would disturb your focus and reduce your day’s work efficiency.

3. Eat Breakfast and Lunch

Don’t go on an empty stomach to work, and don’t starve yourself until you finish your assignments.

Hunger creates nervousness and restlessness, which harm your focus.

It is most recommended that you eat a good breakfast in the morning at home, and also eat lunch on time.

You can also eat something light, such as a fruit a or snack in-between meals.

4. Drink Enough Water

The body needs water to function, and sometimes we forget to drink water. If you don’t drink enough you might suffer from dehydration, which would affect your physical and mental health.

5. Have a Good Night’s Sleep

With good sleep, you will feel refreshed, energetic and ready for the days’ tasks.

Lack of sleep hurt the concentration and the ability to make good decisions and choices.

6. Exercise Your Body

Exercise is important for both the physical and the mental health. It brings fresh oxygen into body and the blood, and improves the cognitive functions.

7. Put Your Phone on Mute

One of the most disturbing factors to concentration nowadays is the smartphone. The Internet, text messages and the social media take so much time and attention, almost each moment of the day.

This shortens the attention span, and makes concentration almost impossible.

If you don’t need your phone for work, then, at least a part of the day, while working on important assignment, put your phone on mute or switch it off.

Reading and answering text messages, and reading what you friends wrote on Facebook or Twitter, distract the attention and disrupt focus.

8. Focus on Each Task

Avoid daydreaming while carrying out tasks, and don’t allow your thoughts to carry you away.

While working, focus on your work. Don’t do one thing, while thinking of something else. Your actions and thoughts should be in harmony.

Always do one thing at a time. Multitasking does not allow you to focus on one task. Instead, your thoughts jump from one thing to another, without the necessary focus.

Multitasking splits your attention, and this can reduce efficiency and productivity.

9. Prioritize Your Tasks

Make a list of the tasks for the day, prioritize them, and then handle one task at a time, without thinking or worrying about the other tasks.

10. Ignore everything around you

Put effort into ignoring everything unrelated to the work you are doing at the moment.

Phone calls unrelated to your work, conversations, and unrelated thinking can wait for later, after you finish what you are doing.

11. Pep Talk

Give yourself a short pep talk before starting a task. Tell yourself how important it is, and that you will be able to carry it efficiently and with great focus.

Repeat these words a few times, and try to believe what you are saying.

12. Take Short Breaks

It’s a good idea to take short breaks once in a while. Get up, walk for a few moments, stretch your body, drink water or eat a snack.

This will reduce the mental and physical tension and refresh your mind.

13. Don’t Procrastination Things for Later

Don’t put off doing what you need to do. Putting things off would not make them disappear. You will eventually need to do them.

Procrastination and putting thing off, create laziness and weaken the willpower. This weakens your control over your mind and harms your focus.

14. Your Mailbox

Avoid reading and answering your private emails while working.

As to your work email, prioritize what you need to do first, and don’t waste your time on useless and unimportant emails.

How to Stay Focused

In this article, I have recommended a few actions to help you get focused on your work.

  • Do you wish to stay focused on whatever you are doing?
  • Do you wish to have good concentration skills, which you will be able to direct anywhere you want or need?
  • How about increasing your attention span?

When you master your mind and your thoughts you start mastering your life.

If you are looking for more guidance to increase your focus and sharpen your concentration skills, read the book Focus Your Attention. You will find in this book guidance and exercises, which will take your focus skills to a higher level.

Focus Your Attention

Focus Your Attention
• Is your attention span too short?

• Do you wish to improve your concentration?

• A focused mind enables you to carry out everything faster, more efficiently, and with fewer mistakes.

• Learn how to focus your mind and attention!

I Want More Info

Today I Met a Reader — And Something Unexpected Happened


man alone

Although I’m reaching hundreds of thousands of people through my writing, I almost never meet any of my readers in person.

Well, today I happened to meet one. It wasn’t the first time I met him though; rather, it was the fourth. And something unexpected — and at the same time a bit frustrating — happened. But before I go into detail, let me first tell you the story of how we first met.

Over a year and a half ago (that is, in pre-pandemic times), my girlfriend and I participated in a local vegan social gathering, something we enjoyed doing from time to time. There we had the chance to meet a person who I like to call “the man with the biggest smile” (I really think he is) with whom we immediately clicked and became friends.

Soon afterwards, that friend introduced a friend of his own to my blog — a man who, as he himself told me just a couple of hours ago, was deeply moved and inspired by some of my articles, and as a result had formed a very high opinion of me, which made him want to meet me in person.

And so it happened. One night, we dined all together (he, my girlfriend and I, and the man with the biggest smile). We had a great time and met a couple more times from then on. During our meetings we’d discuss several topics, ranging from yoga to education to nutrition to art — topics that interest us all.

But then came today. This time, we met at his (the reader’s) house where we stayed from mid-afternoon until nearly midnight. And here’s the juicy part of the story: A few hours after being there and mostly listening to him talk, he asked me, “Sofo, nearly every time we meet I don’t hear you sharing your opinions and advice during our conversations that much. Why is that?”

My response was, “Well, actually I feel that I do share them, but perhaps not as much as you might want to.”

“Come on!,” he continued, “I was talking for so long on this and that topic, and you had so many opportunities to jump in and share your thoughts.”

“Well,” I said, “If that’s the case, then it doesn’t mean that I intentionally withheld my thoughts — it just means I didn’t feel like having anything to share at those moments. What you perceived as ‘opportunities’ were not been perceived the same way by me.”

“Does that mean you don’t like sharing your thoughts with us?,” he persisted.

“No, that’s not what I mean by that at all,” I said. “I actually love sharing them but, as I already said, only when I feel like it.”

“Tell me, then, when exactly do you feel like sharing your opinions?”, he pressed me on, clearly not pleased with my answer.

“What kind of answer would be satisfying to you?,” I responded. “I can’t tell you when exactly I feel like doing so. It’s something that just comes to me naturally — that is, spontaneously — depending on the circumstance.”

He nodded and smiled, and this slightly heated exchange of words ended.

But the conversation continued, and a bit later he explained why he asked all those questions: Because, after reading my blog he felt that I am a very talkative, wise guy, and expected that I would be sharing my opinions, knowledge and advice much more often than I did. He had pictured a certain image of me in his mind — and he felt a bit disappointed when I didn’t turn out to be exactly as he expected.

To which I responded, “Well, what can I do, this is me. If you want my friendship, then you’ll need to accept me as I am, not as you imagine me to be. Plus, if you want to know more about my thoughts on something, you can simply ask. Anyway, I usually feel more like sharing my opinions — and especially my advice — when people ask me for them.” I also added, “Of course, like any other person, I don’t have an opinion or advice about everything, so even if you do ask, don’t expect me to have an answer.”

It was getting very late, and my girlfriend reminded me that we had to go. So we hugged, mentioned the importance of having conversations like the above, and said goodbye to him and the man with the biggest smile.


Now, why exactly am I sharing this story with you? Because there are a few valuable insights it reminded me of:

1. Wisdom doesn’t equal talkativeness or heavily opinionated knowledge.

I don’t know about you, but the wisest people I’ve met in my life tended to speak far less than they listened, while the most foolish spoke a lot and rarely listened. To avoid any misunderstanding, I’m not saying this to make myself appear wise (which I don’t claim to be) nor to make my reader seem like a fool (which I don’t think he is; in fact, I find him to be intelligent and brilliant in many ways). I’m saying it simply because that’s what has been my experience, and when I contemplate on it, it makes total sense:

Wise people are wise because they have the ears (inner and outer) to hear and absorb information from their environment. This is how they learn and grow — through mindful observation. But this requires a sense of humility — and by that I mean admitting to oneself that one doesn’t know that much, and hence that there’s always enough room for personal growth and understanding. Fools, on the other hand, think they know pretty much everything and have an opinion on any subject, which is exactly what keeps them stuck in the psycho-spiritual state they are (i.e. that of being foolish). In fact, thinking they have it all figured out, fools aren’t willing to learn from anyone — not even from the wise, while the wise are open to learn from everyone — even from fools (yes, sometimes fools can teach us a lot).

Another thing I’ve realized over the years and want to briefly touch upon here is that, even if they are actually well-read and knowledgeable, people who tend to talk too much sharing their opinions and advice (especially when no one asks or cares for it) haven’t yet integrated that knowledge within themselves, and hence don’t apply it in their lives. So, why do they talk so much like that? There could be several reasons, but this is the most common one: They try to distract themselves from their inner demons. In other words, their behavior functions like a psychological defense mechanism arising from a deep-seated insecurity: that they might not be intelligent enough or able to deal with their own life problems.

2. Friendship can flower only under the sun of mutual acceptance.

To some extent, we all have expectations from our friends, life partners and people in general. For example, I do expect that my girlfriend won’t play music out loud for hours in my presence, or that she will be there to support me when I find myself in need of her help. This kind of expectations is a necessary part of a healthy relationship.

But there’s another kind that is extremely poisonous for both partners in a relationship: Expecting the other to be in ways they are not. For the one who has such expectations, there’s a constant feeling of disappointment and sadness (for their expectations can never be fulfilled), as well as a desire to control their partner — which results in further disappointment and sadness. And for their partner, such a behavior can be — depending on their psychological state — immensely painful, because they don’t feel accepted as they are. On the contrary, they feel judged, something that could emotionally traumatize them and leave them feeling inadequate and unworthy of love.

Acceptance is the foundation and very essence of friendship (or any other type of love relationship). That’s because for people to open up and intimately connect with others, they first need to be given the space to be who they truly are — and not how we expect them to be.

3. Strong relationships require genuine communication.

Although I felt a bit frustrated and uncomfortable during the above conversation with my dear reader (and now friend), I know that it was important that we had it. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be able to resolve any possible misunderstandings or tension between us.

To avoid interpersonal conflict, most people usually don’t express what they have on their mind. This way, however, they can’t really understand others or be understood by them. As a result, their relationships tend to remain stagnant, superficial and inauthentic.

To build stronger relationships with others, it’s tremendously important that we’re as honest with them as we can, as well as curious (albeit sincere) to better get to know them. At some level, everyone knows this basic principle, yet many of us tend to forget or overlook it, so I hope this article will serve you as a reminder to be true to yourself and others.

Eating Healthy Is an Act of Self Love

It’s impossible to talk about the importance of self-love and not talk about nutrition. Cue the groaning, but healthy eating doesn’t have to mean eating grass! Feeding your body with healthy, nutritious food is a form of self-love.

This is one of the more important things to focus on if you want to commit to a life of loving your body, and your whole self by extension. Food is energy, and if you feed your body with unhealthy foods, you’ll feel weighed down and stagnant. All those positive goals you might have cannot be reached if you’re not also fueling your body with whole foods (and lots more water).

I’ll preface all the upcoming advice with a reminder that it’s important to do all things in moderation. It’s more than okay to still indulge in that favorite pasta dish, or a baked good, or even a cocktail. It’s all about finding the healthier balance for you- and trying new ways to switch out those sweet and salty favorites with cleaner choices for your body.

You may be wondering how practicing self-love equates to changing your eating habits.

Our bodies are wonderful things, that can run on pretty much anything for a good amount of time, but over time, if you’re making too many unhealthy choices it starts to affect more than just your physical form. Eating too much sugar, or processed foods, or drinking too much soda or juice affects blood sugar levels, vitamin and mineral levels, and energy levels. The right, or wrong diet, can greatly affect how you sleep and how your body feels and how you can recover  on a daily basis as your body regenerates cells night after night.

If you find yourself craving certain foods, it’s usually your body calling out for a vitamin or mineral, or protein or fat. If you struggle with anxiety- add foods rich in magnesium like avocado, nuts, and fish like salmon. High stress depletes the body of all kinds of vitamins- so adding foods rich in vitamins B, C, and E can help your body combat stress. Loving your whole self means feeding your physical body what it needs so that you can spend everyday being your healthiest self. It means fueling your body with more whole foods and less processed foods.

Yes, this means increasing your fruit and veggie intake, and drinking more water and less soda. It means looking at your schedule and your life- and identifying where you can make smarter choices. Do you have time where you can try out meal prepping even a few meals a week- so you have a chance to cook healthier options? If you do take-out for lunch, is there somewhere new you can visit near your home or work that has a menu chock full of whole foods?

I’m a giant believer in the power of incorporating fresh pressed juices, smoothies, and herbs into your routine. If you love to drink teas and tonics, there’s so many great recipes that you can make at home to drink all week long. I frequently post recipes for teas, tonics, and fresh juices on my social media pages. It’s so incredibly fun to try out new recipes!

It helps me to stay on track with making healthier food and beverage choices when I think about what an incredible gift this body of mine is. The things the human body does on a moment-by-moment basis is truly remarkable when you stop to think of it- so celebrate being alive by feeding your body with food it needs- and the nutrients it needs!

Lastly, make sure you also increase your movement! Take a walk, try out some yoga, find a fun exercise routine on YouTube, anything to get your limbs moving helps lead to a healthier body. Find something that works for you, and you’ll be more inclined to stick with it!

Show your body some love, you deserve it!

In Gratitude,


Robin Lee is a medical intuitive, author, mentor, gratitude advocate, and speaker who has helped thousands of people around the world understand the language of their bodies. Robin believes that our bodies innately know how to balance and heal themselves if given proper care and support. Visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter, where she shares tips, tools, and techniques to honor our bodies and heal our lives!

Image courtesy of Nathan Cowley.

The Way Out of Codependency Is Choosing Yourself First

Many people struggle with people-pleasing patterns in relationships. Seeking validation and approval from others is a common way this works to deteriorate both relationships and self-worth. This kind of codependency causes difficulties and problems in all areas of life.

What can you do to get out of codependency to have healthy and whole relationships? You must learn how to be first with yourself.

Ending codependency is about breaking behavioral energy patterns.

The ways you exude codependent tendencies are going to change. Especially as you work through a healing process of self-love. Because that unworthy root is deep down inside you. And it has been there for a long time.

The more I study self-help, personal development, and self-Love the more I learn that this is a process. It takes your life to conquer.

This is comforting to know and embrace

After realizing that some of the worst relationship pain I’ve had was/is caused by my own codependent patterns, I can let go of bitterness and resentment against others. It’s in taking responsibility for yourself, your patterns, and your lack of self-love where real healing takes place.

This was one of the key principles taught in my book Be Solid: How To Go Through Hell & Come Out Whole. In the pit of despair and the hell of heartbreak, when you feel completely unworthy and are full of rejection, self-pity kicks into high gear. It’s one of the causes of blame, resentment, bitterness, and deep complaining.

Which still requires a focus and intention practiced daily. It’s a matter of growing in self-awareness and being mindful of your own individual tendencies.

Many of these tendencies are patterns you’ve been doing since early childhood. They were modeled to you by your parents, teachers, peers, and cultural programming. You watched other people behave in ways that were unhealthy, dysfunctional, and even toxic.

How codependency began during your early years

In your early childhood development, typically age 0-8, you have no filter on what’s healthy or not. You’re a human sponge. So whatever you learn you absorb into your mind and subconsciously believe that to be true.

This is why so much of our adult lives (in the realm of personal growth and healing) are to undo the patterns of our childhood. As we grow, we reshape our energy to flow in the frequency of health, wholeness, and Love.

One element of codependency is a people-pleasing attitude. You aren’t settled unless you feel like everyone else’s needs and wants are taken care of. You’ll go way out of your way to try to make them feel good, or not experience discomfort.

As I’ve grown in overcoming life-long codependent tendencies, I’m still seeing places in my life where these patterns pop up.

One is a needy attitude that can come through when I feel specific people’s level of discomfort. These specific people are those who are in my closest physical proximity, and also those I have the closest relationships with.

I can find myself wanting to make sure that they’re ok, even getting to where I ask that question “Are you ok?” repeatedly.

It’s annoying. I know it’s annoying because I feel it in my bones when I reflect on my day. It annoys me to be in this place where I’m overly concerned that someone else is feeling well, which they usually are.

But overthinking and codependent tendencies can limit my ability to see correctly and get out of my own head.

Why we get in our own way in relationships

These dysfunctional patterns are huge contributors to that.

While I was modeled these patterns and adopted them into the way that I operate unconsciously, it’s my responsibility to change them. And no one else’s.

Which means there’s no one to blame for my codependent nature. There’s no one to judge. There’s no one to be upset with.

Not even with myself. It’s responsibility and grace, not blame or judgment.

When you practice this way of treating yourself with grace, your energy shifts.

It’s one of the key methods of practicing self-Love that truly transforms you. It all begins with keen awareness.

I have found myself being needy in my texting conversations at times. The little emojis that we can put on texts received as a way to say “I Love this” or “That’s right!” or “That’s funny” can make codependent folks like me long for that kind of response to every message.

Do you find yourself wondering why someone will heart a series of your text messages and then not do anything, not even reply?

There’s some codependency in that behavior pattern. Whether you want to recognize it or not.

Because ultimately our relationships thrive when there is complete freedom in them. But if you have this need to receive a certain kind of reply without feeling like the connection is still strong, you’re operating from codependency.

It’s at least worth digging into through reflection and soul-meditation. Checking with yourself, your higher power, and GOD (aka Almighty Love) to ask if your patterns are codependent or healthy is a great way to do this. Listen to what response you get.

What do you do if you have codependent tendencies?

One thing about these types of patterns is that they are teachers and indicators. Like the warning or notification lights in your car that tells you that you need to check your tire pressure, change your oil, or you’re running low on fluids. These patterns can reveal places inside your life where you aren’t showing yourself the Love you deserve and need.

When a part of you doesn’t feel Loved, it whines out in different ways. Awareness and reflection will help you see areas of your life where this is prevalent. Or where you have a tendency of behaving this way.

Neediness can be off-putting, especially if it continues over a long time. We want to be around people who are strong in themselves, who operate out of confidence and self-assuredness.

They don’t need anything from anyone else and it’s just easy to be around them. They’re also people who are generally relied on more because their inner strength sends out a frequency of stability that everyone is drawn to.

When you are someone who is constantly putting everyone else’s needs and concerns over your own well-being, you’re emitting a frequency pattern that is draining and suffocating. It can be difficult to be around, even when you’re with people who love you with their whole hearts.

That’s why it’s important to check in with yourself

And when you find yourself operating with a needy vibe, step back and affirm yourself with love.

It’s your responsibility to fill your spirit, heart, mind, and body with the LOVE energy you were born from.

The source of Love that is GOD is where this Love comes from. Tap into it. Be filled to overflow. Then give to others from the overflow.

Image courtesy of ThisisEngineering RAEng

Codependent tendencies and patterns are teachers

These patterns show you where your measure of inner Love is at. Fill up your tank. Go to GOD and ask for Love. Go to yourself and reaffirm who you are. “I am Love” is a powerful affirmation to bring Love energy into your being.

Don’t just say the words. Get in the energetic field of Love. Think of someone you love more than anything. Feel the love you have for them in your heart, in your body. Let that feeling take over. Give that feeling of Love to yourself.

Practice feeling the immenseness of deep love and practice giving to yourself. Feel this deep love as you proclaim “I am Love. I am one with Love. Only Love is inside of me. My cup overflows with Love from GOD and makes me awesome!!!”

Say these affirmations out loud, with absolute certainty in their truth. Feel them!

This is how you heal your heart and refill your tank of Love. Do the proactive work of healing your energy to get into the vibration of Love and out of the negative space of desperation, where toxicity can derail your relationships and your well-being.

As you enjoy the overflow, the feelings of unworthiness and codependency are stripped away of their power.

And only Love remains.

*Originally published on

D Grant Smith is known as the Growth Farmer, which means he has an old-fashioned approach to living a whole & healthy life. Get his free ebook called Love Is The Seed To Success, that gives help in healing relationships and growing healthy ones. His new book Be Solid: How To Go Through Hell & Come Out Whole is about the journey into self-love and self-care after heartbreak and personal loss. He’s an empowerment superhero who would love to give you encouragement so feel free to reach out!

Feature image is custom-made from using free images.

Courage of the Heart

Courage of the Heart

Very often what nourishes our spirit most is what brings us face to face with our greatest limitations and difficulties. My teacher Ajahn Chah called this “practicing against the grain,” or “facing into one’s difficulties.” Every life has periods and situations of great difficulty that call on our spirit. Sometimes we are faced with the pain or illness of a child or a parent we love dearly. Sometimes it is a loss we face in career or business. Sometimes it is just our own loneliness or confusion or fear. Sometimes we are forced to live with painful circumstances or difficult people. In this time of pandemic these problems can become more intense. Yet in these very difficulties, we can learn the true strength of our practice. At these times, the wisdom we have cultivated and the depth of our love is our chief resource. To meditate, to pray, to practice at such times can be like pouring soothing balm onto the aches of our heart. The great forces of greed, hatred, fear, and ignorance that we encounter can be met by the equally great courage of our heart.

Freedom is born out of our capacity to work with any energy or difficulty that arises. It’s the freedom to enter wisely into all the realms of this world, the beautiful and painful realms, the realms of sickness and health, the realms of war and of peace. We can’t find freedom in some other place or some other time, we must find it here and now in this very life.

Often we see only two choices for dealing with our problems. One is to suppress them and deny them, to try to fill our lives with only light, beauty, and ideal feelings. In the long run we find that this does not work, for what we suppress with one hand or one part of our body cries out from another. If we suppress thoughts in the mind, we get ulcers; and if we clench problems in our body, our mind later becomes agitated or rigid, filled with unfaced fear. A second strategy is the opposite, to let all our reactions out, freely venting our feelings about each situation. This, too, becomes a problem, for if we act out every feeling that arises, all our dislikes, opinions, and agitations, our habitual reactions grow until they become tiresome, painful, confusing, contradictory, difficult, and finally overwhelming. What is left? The third alternative is the power of our wakeful and attentive heart. We can face these forces, these difficulties with loving awareness.

The maturity we can develop in approaching our difficulties is illustrated by the traditional story of a poisoned tree. On first discovering a poisoned tree, some people see only its danger. Their immediate reaction is, “Let’s cut this down before we are hurt. Let’s cut it down before anyone else eats the poisoned fruit.” This resembles our initial response to the difficulties that arise in our lives, when we encounter aggression, compulsion, greed, or fear, when we are faced with stress, loss, conflict, depression, or sorrow in ourselves and in those around us. Our initial response is to avoid them, saying, “These poisons afflict us. Let us uproot them; let us be rid of them. Let us cut them down.”

Other people, who have journeyed further along the spiritual path, discover this poisoned tree and do not meet it with aversion. They have realized that to open to life requires a deep and heartfelt compassion for all. Knowing the poisoned tree is somehow a part of us, they say, “Let us not cut it down. Instead, let’s have compassion for the tree as well.” So out of kindness they build a fence around the tree so that others may not be poisoned and the tree may also have its life. This second approach shows a profound shift of relationship from judgment and fear to compassion.

A third type of person, who has traveled yet deeper in spiritual life, sees this same tree. This person, who has gained much vision, looks and says, “Oh, a poisoned tree. Perfect! Just what I was looking for.” This individual picks the poisoned fruit, investigates its properties, mixes it with other ingredients, and uses the poison as a great medicine to heal the sick and transform the ills of the world.

How can we do this? We can develop the seeds of wisdom, peace, and wholeness within each of our difficulties. We can make our very difficulties the place of our practice. Then our life becomes not a struggle with success and failure but a dance of the heart. Where better to meditate, to steady our hearts, to practice patience, calm, generosity, compassion than in our tough times? This is where the straw becomes spun into the gold of love.


Sit quietly, feeling the rhythm of your breathing, allowing yourself to become calm and receptive. Then think of a difficulty that you face, whether in your spiritual practice or anywhere in your life. As you sense this difficulty, take your time. Notice how it affects your body, how it feels in the heart, its energy in the mind. Feeling it carefully, begin to ask yourself a few questions, listening inwardly for their answers.

How have I approached this difficulty so far?

How have I suffered by my own response and reaction to it?

What does this problem ask me to let go of?

What suffering here is unavoidable, is my measure to accept?

What happens if I bring tender compassion to all the parts of this difficulty?

What courage is asked as I respond?

What great lesson might it be able to teach me?

What is the gold, the value, hidden in this situation?

In using this reflection to consider your difficulties, the understanding and openings may come slowly. Take your time. As with all meditations, it can be helpful to repeat this reflection a number of times, listening each time for deeper answers from your body, heart, and spirit.

Excerpt adapted from A Path with Heart

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