Category: Positively Positive

When Kids Won’t Cooperate: Give Choices

Giving choices may be the single most useful tool parents have for managing life with young children. It really is almost a magic wand, at least until children are about five. And even into the teen years, choices help children learn to manage themselves.

“Do you want to go to bed now or in five minutes? Five minutes? Ok, do we have an agreement that in five minutes you’ll go to bed no matter what?”

Why does this little trick work so effectively? Because it’s a win-win solution. You’re offering only choices that are okay with you, so you’re happy. She gets to pick one that’s okay with her, so she’s happy. You sidestep the power struggle, because you aren’t making her do something; she is choosing. The child is in charge, within your parameters. No one likes to be forced to do something. Here, because she chooses, she cooperates.

So how do you use this magic wand?

1. Give limited choices.

Make them as palatable as possible to the child, but eliminate any options that are unacceptable to you.

2. For young children or any child who is easily overwhelmed, an either/or choice works best.

“We have to leave now. Do you want to put on your shoes yourself or do you want me to put them on for you?”

3. As children get older, choices can get more complicated.

“You can quit soccer if you want, but what sport or physical activity do you think you’d like to try? You need to choose one physical activity.”

4. Choices can be used to help kids learn to manage themselves.

“As soon as your homework is done, I’ll help you carve that pumpkin. Your choice, but I know you want to start on the pumpkin as soon as we can.” He has the choice to procrastinate on his homework, but you’re helping him motivate himself to tackle it now.

5. Choices can teach children consequences.

“You know your piano recital is coming up. Extra practice will help you feel more confident, but that’s your choice.” Don’t offer choices you can’t live with, of course. If you aren’t willing to let her make a fool of herself at the recital, you may need to help her structure her practice effectively.

6. Remember that empathy doubles the effectiveness of giving choices.

Empathy helps the child feel understood, so he’s less upset, and less resistant. That means he’s more likely to actually be able to make a choice and move on.

You might think of giving choices as Parenting Aikido. Instead of meeting your child’s resistance with force — which creates a power struggle, and, ultimately, a more resistant child — you affirm his right to some control, but within the bounds you set. The result: A happier, more cooperative child, who knows you’re on his side.

Dr. Laura Markham, founder of and author of The Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids Workbook, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How To Stop Yelling and Start Connecting and Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life.

Image courtesy of Ketut Subiyanto.

Real Men Feel

Let me tell you something you don’t know.

Men struggle.

That’s right. We struggle with stress at work, with our relationships, with our self-confidence and self-esteem, even with our mental health.

Every single day, men everywhere are putting on a mask and pretending they’re ok

Laughing, joking, being strong and dependable, while inside they are hurting, perhaps even despairing, and struggling to cope. And you didn’t even realise it.

Wait, what do you mean you knew? Who told you?!?

And why didn’t you tell us???

It’s ridiculous isn’t it? Of course you knew. We all know that men struggle, because, well, because we’re human. Because we’re alive and life isn’t easy. Yet still so many of us don’t feel we can admit to our struggles.

No, we have to carry our burdens ourselves, force down our ‘feelings’ (ugh, feelings, men don’t do them, right…??? I think you know the answer to that one as well…). We have to carry on as normal, get on with it, ‘be a man’. We can’t be weak.

Well I’m calling it our for what it is. Utter b….. I’ll let you fill in the blank.

I know from the many years I worked in boxing, that even the toughest among us struggle. I know how it feels to be at your lowest having been consumed by depression, and I know just how hard it is to face each day with its crushing weight upon you. I know just how much strength it takes to overcome our struggles.

And I know that we can pick ourselves up and not only survive, but thrive BECAUSE OF our struggles.

I also know just how important it is to be able to admit that we are struggling, and to ask for help. None of us wants to carry our burdens alone, keep our pain locked inside, eating away at us. But so many of us feel we have to.

It has to change.

We need to feel heard, understood, cared for and supported. We need to feel we’re not alone; that we’re not weak, mad, or less of a man. We need to know that struggling is normal, that we can get through it, and that we don’t have to struggle on our own.

I’m speaking up. It’s time to get real.

And I’m not just speaking to the men, I’m talking to the women too.

You know how it can be hard to get men to listen sometimes can’t it? Hard to get them to pay attention. Hard to get them to get help. Hell, it’s hard enough to get them to accept that they might, just might, need it.

We all struggle sometimes, but seeking help? Nah.

‘I’m alright’

‘I don’t need help’

‘I’ll beat it on my own’

And if and when us men do finally pluck up the courage to admit we’re struggling, when we do finally seek help, it’s often due to the urging of the women in our life (and here I should say, thanks Mam, for making me go to see the doctor after months of struggling back in 2006).

It can be hard for us fellas. We’re not supposed to show ‘weakness’. We’re meant to be the strong ones, we’re meant to be there for you. We’re not supposed to cry; it’s our shoulders that are for made for crying on, not yours.

So we pretend everything is okay. Some of us get bloody good at it. But really, it doesn’t do us any favours. And it can be hard to fool you for long. You know. But what can you do about it?

If you are a man who’s struggling, or if you are a woman that’s worried about a man in your life – a son, brother, husband, friend, colleague – then I have created something to help.

Because when we know we’re not alone, when we know someone else ‘gets it’, when we know that we won’t be judged or laughed at or considered to be weak or mad, then the weight we carry can begin to be lifted. We can talk, and we can face how we feel.

Real men feel.

So I am talking about why it’s so difficult for men to open up and seek help, about my own experiences of depression and what helped me through it. About the importance of the stories that we tell ourselves about who we are, and that change is always possible.

We can do this.

Click the link to get access to my Real Men Feel video series now.

Take care, Matthew.

Matthew Williams is an author, speaker and coach. He lives in the North East of England with his two young children. After overcoming a series of life-changing plot twists he is passionate about positive change, and turning life’s challenges into lessons for creating a better future. His book, Something Changed: Stumbling Through Divorce, Dating and Depression, is available now in eBook and paperback versions, from Amazon. He has also developed the unique online personal development programme, Change, which uses the power of your personal story to help you to create the life you love. For more information please visit

Image courtesy of Alex Green.

The Loss of Living a Singular Life

Where here should I start from?

Where does the beginning sit in a new story?

Is the beginning at the start of the new experience, or at the end of it.

I have been away inside new adventures for the last few weeks.

I swam in turquoise waters in Greece.

I witnessed a rocket blasting off to space at Cape Canaveral with a friend inside of it.

My eyes going from one world to another, adjusting to the new view.

Something happens when you change reality dramatically.

Where nothing is left the same.

People. Places. Streets. Words. You.


All speaking a new language.

Your inner compass becomes turbulent. Until it stabilizes.

But the beginning is not here yet. I can’t find it. 

The beginning is not inside the adventure. I looked. 

Maybe there will never be a beginning to think about again, because I will not need to begin again.

Is that possible even?

We seek new beginnings because wherever we are, is no longer needed, wanted, chosen. But what if you made your life exist inside many realities, where you leap from one to another. A new beginning would become irrelevant.

Wouldn’t it?

Loss would be minimized.

Love would become everything, everywhere, everyone.

You won’t have time to not love, as something new will always show up ready to be loved by you.

In the last few weeks I met people from all over the world, living lives I have never seen before.

Wanting things I have never wanted, because I didn’t know they existed. 

Living in a singular world creates immense loss.

I am just realizing that a monogamous relationship with life is not healthy.

We have created the concept of a new beginning because living a linear existence meant that we had to end one world to begin another.

What if we don’t have to?

What if we exist in many streets, and homes, and places, and most importantly inside many stories. All at the same time.

I don’t want to end my adventures.

I don’t want to begin anything else.

I just want to continue whatever this is.

Because this right here, feels like coming home.

With no beginnings, and no endings,


Christina Rasmussen is the creator and founder of The Life Reentry Institute, Second Firsts, and Star Letters, and the host of the Dear Life Podcast. Christina is on a crusade to help millions of people rebuild, reclaim, and relaunch their lives using the power of their own minds. Christina’s work has been featured on ABC News, NPR, The White House Blog, and She is the bestselling author of Second Firsts: Live, Laugh, and Love Again, which has also been translated in Chinese and German and just released her second book Where Did You Go on expanding the mind in ways that allows co-creation with the forces of the universe. She is also writing her first work of fiction: a science fiction story about a woman on a quest to start over and begin a new life. You can find more information on her website and follow her on FB or Twitter.

Image courtesy of Andy Vu.

These 7 Productivity “Rules” Are Harmful, Anti-scientific Myths

I have a confession to make: I don’t obey any of the major productivity commandments. I often do work in my pajamas. Sometimes I work for hours without taking a single break. And I have yet to find a morning routine that sticks.

One thing I really hate is the preachy attitude of a lot of self-improvement content. Many productivity bloggers have this sort of tone which implies that the reason you’re so unproductive is that you haven’t followed their blog post instructions. Shame on you!

This leads people to try random productivity “hacks” that don’t work, and feeling like it’s their fault when they haven’t gotten that thing done yet.

If these work for you, great! But if not, I’m here to tell you that you can safely ignore these seven productivity rules. I’ve searched peer-reviewed study databases and found little to no evidence that these actually boost productivity. All they are is a massive guilt trip.

1. Don’t check email as soon as you wake up

This is the one I struggled with the longest. I tried and tried. I felt guilty when I failed. I convinced myself I was more productive when I managed. But just this morning, I rolled out of bed and checked my email.

The sky didn’t fall down.

Sometimes when I do this, I do get a niggling sense of unease. It prompts me to get up, get my coffee, and deal with the email that came in. But most often, it lets me have a way more relaxed morning. I’m not dreading whatever is sitting in my inbox — I’ve looked, and I’ve taken care of it.

It’s true that checking email less altogether reduces stress. Kushlev & Dunn found in their 2014 paper that of the 124 participants in their study who only checked email thrice daily were less stressed. (You’ll notice below, the benefits of less email touch on a bunch of things, only one of which is perceived productivity.)

Schematic taken from the Kushlev & Dunn 2014 paper

When you’re a freelancer, your day starts when you want. For me, my day starts as soon as I wake up. If you check your email as soon as you wake up, set aside your guilt. It’s not ruining your productivity and it’s not going to ruin your day.

2. You need a highly specific morning routine

This is one of the most pervasive productivity ideas out there: that you have to nail down what you do in the morning to have a great rest of the day. My mornings do typically have similar elements. I wake up, I checked my email, I put the coffee on, I play with my cats, not necessarily in that order. Sometimes I go for a run, sometimes I don’t. But I don’t have anything resembling the regimented morning routine the most productivity bloggers recommend.

This myth is SO pervasive that I checked on Google Scholar to see where the original source was. Who came up with the “science-backed” morning routine? The only evidence I could find was an article that cited Beethoven’s quirk of making coffee with exactly 60 beans as a morning routine.

The study did show that disruption to someone’s morning routine (e.g. not drinking coffee when they normally do) affected their day, but failed to take into account the fact that any kind of disruption is kind of jarring. Why did they miss their coffee? Did they wake up late? Did they have a fight with their partner? That kind of stuff throws you off your game — not just not getting your coffee.

There’s no peer-reviewed study that shows the productivity of people with morning routines with people without one. There’s no peer-reviewed study that says you have to nail down exactly what you do, in what order you do it, in order to have a great day.

3. You can’t wear pajamas to get sh*t done

I love my pajamas! I love the feeling of being in a cloud. I actually became more productive when I allowed myself to wear my pajamas during my day. Before, I used to force myself to put on makeup and a nice dress for my YouTube videos. Now? I give the camera my normal face and my ratty t-shirt. Nobody cares. I certainly don’t.

I was unable to find any empirical studies from a reputed journal on Google Scholar, but I was able to find a pop-sci article with quotes from alleged experts decrying lazy people who wore their pajamas all day.

Dr. Dragonette, a psychologist PureWow got to provide a quote for their pseudoscientific article, says: “What many might deem insignificant can actually lead to dwindling motivation and productivity as you subconsciously associate your pajamas with bedtime or relaxation time. So, by wearing relaxed clothes, your brain might start to feel sluggish too.”

(She’s the Executive Director from a rather expensive teen rehab clinic.) (The article also used an affiliate link to sell you clothes you can wear instead.)

She offered no potential neurological mechanisms for brains to become sluggish. She did not offer any empirical studies that say the same. The best she was able to provide was a study from a publication literally called Human Resource Development Quarterly that shows people feel nicer if they wear nice clothes.

All in all, there’s no scientific proof I was able to find that you accomplish less in your pajamas. And frankly, I find this productivity myth ableist, as with a lot of these other myths.

If you’re still in your pajamas at lunchtime, don’t beat yourself up. You’re doing just fine.

4. You can’t take breaks, AKA Deep Work

This is such a weird one because prevalent productivity hype has two theories. One, that you need to take regular breaks in order to get anything done; and two, deep work only happens if you manage to work uninterrupted for hours and hours.

(These are contradictory.)

Let’s start with the idea that productive work for hard tasks has to happen in big blocks.

Cal Newport came onto the productivity scene with his book, Deep Work, in 2016. In it, he collects a series of anecdotes from people he admires and respects, such as himself. I was unable to find any peer-reviewed scientific studies that back his claim up.

It’s a nice idea — the internet has ruined our attention span, we keep checking emails, it throws us off-kilter when we lose focus, etc. But it ignores the basic realities of living. Most of us simply cannot block the internet for hours at a time. When I’m creating products for my email list, which I’d consider a prime candidate for “deep work,” I need the internet open to research examples and formats. When I worked as an account manager, I had to be responsive to email.

Show me the peer-reviewed, well-methoded study that proves deep work works and I’ll take it all back. But until then? I’m calling bullsh*t.

5. You have to take breaks, AKA Pomodoro

Set aside everything you just heard about Deep Work, because the midnight sister to Deep Work is the totally contradictory Pomodoro technique.

The idea is you focus for 25 minutes and give yourself a five-minute break. While I was able to find many papers for the Pomodoro Technique™, I wasn’t able to find any empirical studies designed to prove or disprove its effectiveness. One PhD thesis from 2020 I found did say that “[m]ost participants found the PT® helpful for addressing their multitasking. However, there was little consensus on how the PT® helped participants or which aspects were helpful, with the same aspects (e.g. ticking timer, deferring potential interruptions) identified as helpful or ineffective by different participants.”

This roughly translates to, “It worked for some people, but it didn’t for others. I don’t know why.” The thesis did not include any potential neurological mechanisms why working for an arbitrary 25 minutes should make you more productive.

I often shock people when I announce my typical day is a long one. I start around 7:30 or 8 AM, and then I work until everything on my to-do list is done. If I stop to take any kind of longish break, like reading a book, playing a video game, or even lunch, I often lose my motivation to continue.

Instead, I take tons of microbreaks, as I described above. Then I get back to work. I do sometimes use an app called Forest which helps me focus when I want to, but only on my phone, which lets me check my laptop for whatever I like.

My method is not a scientific technique, but you also don’t see me peddling it to others and trying to claim it’s scientific. It works for me.

6. You need a consistent bedtime

“Go to bed on time every single night for healthy sleep!” insists just about every single productivity blogger.

Honestly, I go to bed when I’m tired. Sometimes that’s 9:30 PM. Sometimes it’s 11 PM. I searched for a study that could prove once and for all the consistent bedtimes boost productivity and performance, but all I could find was a study reviewing the time management habits of academically successful students, and those on academic probation (Hensley, 2018).

The study found that “course-takers with a history of academic struggles do not differ substantially from their classmates when it comes to when they study during the week or when they sleep and wake.” (Bolding mine.) The authors also noted “inconsistent sleep schedules for nearly all students, in contrast with prevailing recommendations to go to bed and awake near the same time throughout the week.”

Rough translation? High performers and low performers alike have irregular sleeping habits and it doesn’t seem to matter much.

7. Give up caffeine to attain peak productivity

It’s an addiction, OK? I love my coffee. Occasionally I’ll do a day without it to prove I still can, but most mornings include my French press.

I find productivity bloggers split on this issue. Some turn their love of coffee into a personality trait, referencing their steaming mug of java throughout their idealized morning routines and highly productive breaks. Others decry it as a dirty habit that’s holding you back from true productive potential. Honestly? I don’t think it’s true one way or another.

This is the one productivity rule that does actually have real science behind it. I just don’t think it’s persuasive. Intaking caffeine has been clinically demonstrated to “release the pre- and post-synaptic brakes that adenosine imposes on dopaminergic neurotransmission,” according to a rather dense paper from 2007.

(To be honest, I struggled reading that paper, so I looked for a rough translation. This textbook section explains the effect of caffeine on the brain, and concludes that “you get some stimulating effect from every cup of coffee you drink, and any tolerance you build up is minimal.”)

You should also recall that 62% of all Americans drink coffee every single day, according to the National Coffee Institute. And society hasn’t collapsed. (Well, maybe that’s debatable? But I doubt it’s due to the coffee consumption.)

Most productivity rules are pseudo-scientific BS

I hate to admit it because I bought into it for so long, but I genuinely believe most productivity “rules” are myths. And furthermore, people telling you about them are usually hypocrites. I don’t know a single person IRL who has a consistent morning routine. I don’t know of any real people who religiously go to bed at the same time. And yet most of us still manage to go about our days, getting stuff done.

Authors and bloggers will try to persuade you that their way is not only scientifically backed, but actually, the only right way to do things. (They also position productivity as a moral virtue which I find problematic all on its own, but that’s a separate issue.)

There are a few irrefutable rules: going outdoors makes you feel good. Relaxing is vital for health. Water is good for you. Sleep and eat when your body tells you. But beyond that, everyone is kind of making it up as they go along.

When you read those productivity articles, look for the source material. Don’t accept “science says so” — look for the science. Look for peer-reviewed studies describing potential neurological pathways and mechanisms to explain why this might be so. Look for people who don’t have anything to sell.

Take what you can from productivity gurus and ignore the rest. If it works for you? Great. If not? Don’t feel guilty.

Zulie Rane is a reader and a writer who believes in the power to change the world through the written word. You can find her writing on, posting selfies and art on Instagram at @zulierane and tweeting bad puns on Twitter at @zulierane.

Image courtesy of cottonbro.

Be So Stupid They Can’t Ignore You

I had an idea for a business. This was 1993. I was going to take videos of houses for sale.

I would charge a real estate agency per house I videotaped. I was going to get rich. Rich!

Customers of the agency would no longer have to go to the house. They could just go to the agency and watch the video.

I went to six real estate agencies and they actually laughed at me and said “no thanks.” That was the end of that business idea.

Here’s what I didn’t have:

  • A video camera
  • Any video skills whatsoever. I never had taken a video before.
  • Zero sales ability. I had never tried to sell anything before.
  • Zero money. I had no idea how I would buy a video camera.
  • Zero knowledge. Did the real estate agency have VCRs?
  • I didn’t have a car. How was I going to drive miles around to every house?

I didn’t know anything. I didn’t have anything. I had no resources.

I gave up.

Today I’m meeting with a company that does virtual reality tours of houses.

Anyway, they’ve signed up one of the largest real estate agencies in the world.

Does this mean I should have been persistent?

Of course not.

Ready. Fire. Aim.

That’s the ONLY way you can learn, not waste time, move on to the next experience.

Stupidity is the rungs on the ladder to success.

So then I applied for a job at a comic book store. I loved comics.

“We don’t really have enough business to hire people,” the guy at the comic book store told me.

I wrote four or five novels (I honestly forget) that never got published.

I had them printed up and I saved them for over 20 years. You never know!

Recently I threw them all out. Gone forever. Should I have been persistent?

Of course not! They were horrible.

After I left graduate school, I wanted to have an interesting experience. I tried to move into a homeless shelter.

To be honest, I was so down on myself I thought the best way to meet women would be in a homeless shelter.

It would be like a college dormitory, I thought. Only everyone would be homeless. And lovable.

The manager at the homeless shelter thought I was too crazy to live in a homeless shelter. He said, “No.”

Persistence is overrated.

If they had said, “yes”, to me working at the comic book store then I probably wouldn’t today be about to interview one of my favorite all time singers.

If the gatekeepers had published any of my novels I’d be a struggling and unhappy writer.

If I stayed in graduate school, I don’t know. I’d have spent nine years working on a useless Phd thesis instead of interviewing prostitutes at 3 in the morning for HBO.

If they said yes to me living in the homeless shelter then maybe today I’d be homeless. Come to think of it…I do have no home right now. I just stay in short-term AirBnBs.

I could have tried harder. I could have resisted all the “Nos.” I could have resisted and struggled and fought. But why?

Resistance is the opposite of persistence.

It blocks you into thinking there is only one thing that will make you happy. This is the worst disease and it’s chronic.

So many people I talk with are unhappy because someone, at some point, blocked some thing they were working on. Like a blockage in the artery that prevented the heart of success.

They get obsessed with this blockage. They can’t stop thinking about it. They get angry. They can’t forgive. They can’t forget.

They get stuck. The “No” they got ended up defining them.

Persistence in having many experiences is more important than having persistence in one experience.

The other day I saw a guy playing a piano in the middle of the street. I asked him what he was doing there.

“Living the dream,” he told me. “Living the dream.”

James Altucher is the author of the bestselling book Choose Yourself, editor at The Altucher Report and host of the popular podcast, The James Altucher Show, which takes you beyond business and entrepreneurship by exploring what it means to be human and achieve well-being in a world that is increasingly complicated. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Image courtesy of Jeffrey Czum.

How to Get Better at Saying No

Every request you accept comes with a cost.

If you want to be more effective, if you want to “get more done,” or even if you just want some breathing room in your life, you need to say no more often.

For some of us, of course, this is easier said than done. The inability to say no is one of the things that contributes the most to overwhelm. It can even lead to feelings of guilt or shame—you feel guilty for “letting someone down” even though you’re struggling to keep up on your own.

What should you say no to? That’s up to you! But here’s a start: anything that you don’t want to do.

Before you come up with objections to that statement—”but there are so many things I simply have to do”—I challenge you to try living by it for a while. Again, every request has a cost. By saying yes to one thing, you’re saying no to others. Unless you want to live your life completely at the direction of someone else, you need to improve your ability to say no.

Here are two strategies that have been helpful to me.

1. The Future Is Now

When you’re asked to do something in the future that you’re not sure you’ll want to do, you tend to say yes because it’s far off. You figure, well, that’s a long time from now, and I don’t have anything else going on then, so I might as well say yes.

But then, of course, “someday” eventually shows up on your calendar, along with that request you accepted long ago. Why did I agree to this? you wonder.

The trick is to imagine the activity you’re asked about would be taking place tomorrow. If it was, would you say yes or politely decline? If you’d decline for tomorrow, the odds are that you won’t feel like doing it a few weeks or months into the future.

Therefore, the obvious suggestion: start declining more of those invitations. Don’t agree to something just because it’s far off.

2. Tell the Truth

Second, whether it’s far in the future or a meeting this afternoon that you’d really prefer to skip, how can you say no without hurting someone’s feelings?

There’s no magic answer, but here’s a helpful way you can reframe the challenge.  When I turn down a request, I often say something like: “I want to make sure I do a good job with my existing commitments, and right now my plate is full.”

Sometimes I even go further and say, “I’m a little overcommitted right now, and I don’t think I would do a good job with this thing you’re asking me.”

This way, you’re not rejecting the person or even the request; you’re just noting that you’re unable to accept it. I like to think you’re even honoring that person by not committing to something you might not handle well.

(And by the way, this is true! There’s no deception or lying involved in the answer you’re giving. When I say I’m fully committed or overcommitted, I really do feel that way.)

If you want to have more control over your time and get more done, getting better at saying no is one of the most important things you can do. I’ll be cheering you on!

I would say, “Let me know if you need more help with this,” but I’m afraid I’m fully committed right now….

Addendum / P.S.

I wrote this post after a negative experience with a company I did some work with. In addition to our agreed-upon contract, the company asked me to do something else that I didn’t want to do. I told them no at first, but they said it was really, really important—so I backed down. Big mistake!

The project I worked on for them took more than ten hours, involved a fair amount of stress (along with the misaligned expectations of a third party, another mistake), and in the end I’m not sure the relationship would have been worse off if I’d simply said “Sorry, can’t do it” in the beginning.

All that to say: the struggle is real. Whenever you have an experience like that, store it in your memory for the next time you encounter a similar scenario.

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 Anete Lusina.

How to Find More Clarity in Life- 5 Minute Video Lesson

Hello Spiritual Warrior, are you feeling stuck? Today we are exploring how to find more clarity in life and flow with the natural rhythm of the Universe.

This week we are exploring how to find more clarity in life. Sometimes we go through phases of not really being sure of what comes next. Maybe you’re going through this kind of transition right now.

I know many people are experiencing the uncertainty that comes with a big transition as we all navigate our way out of a more locked down state in quarantine to one that has been gradually opening up again.

So, if you are wanting to find more clarity in your life right now, just know that you are not alone. And I have come up with this simple exercise to give you more insight into what you would really like to see unfold in your life next. I have talked about it before, but I would like to bring it up again for the sake of this week’s theme. I call it the Breaking through the Clouds Exercise.

So, let’s try it now. Grab your journal or a blank piece of paper, your favorite pen or pencil, go to a peaceful, quiet place, and settle in. Ready? Okay, let’s take the first step to find more clarity:

  • What’s a current issue or disturbance that is challenging me right now?
  • What is the impact that this issue or disturbance is creating in my physical life?
  • What is the impact that this issue or disturbance is creating in my emotional state?
  • What is the impact that this issue or disturbance is creating in my material world?
  • What is the impact that this issue or disturbance is creating in my relationships?
  • What is the impact that this issue or disturbance is creating in my spiritual life?
  • What happens if I do nothing?
  • What would I like to see unfold?
  • What are the top three characteristics, core traits, skill sets, or strengths that will best move me through this challenge?
  • How brightly am I willing to shine my inner sun to break through the clouds?

In the meantime, remember to LIKE & SUBSCRIBE to my channels to keep your ripple flowing in our community & support this content!!! I am so grateful that you keep showing up, keep doing your best, and I hope you know how valued you are as a member of this community.

Better yet, go deeper into the community by joining the MIND SHIFT membership too. More details are below if you are interested. I would be honored if you decided to take the next step in this community.

Sending you expansive love, personal growth, and health. Be well.

davidji is a globally recognized mindbody health & wellness expert, mindful performance trainer, meditation teacher & author of Amazon’s Best Seller destressifying: The Real-World Guide to Personal Empowerment, Lasting Fulfillment, and Peace of Mind, Sacred Powers: The Five Secrets to Transformation and Secrets of Meditation: A Practical Guide to Inner Peace & Personal Transformation, & winner of the Nautilus Book Award. Connect with him on . Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

Image courtesy of Dmitriy Ganin.

Vulnerability Is Your Strength


When you step back from your stress and the emotions that come with it, you are practicing positive detachment. If there are changes we can make, such as learning to say “no,” or not over-scheduling ourselves, or looking for help with a task that has us extended beyond our ability, we can lower our stress. Yet no matter how much or how little the shape of our external life can be rearranged, the internal shift is the most important. The same events and situations that cause you stress can be emotionally detached from in a healthy way. Detaching doesn’t mean you no longer care, or that you are just going through the motions. It means that you don’t allow the external world to trigger you. When stepping back from negative emotions becomes a new habit, you begin to clearly see that you have a choice in how stress affects you.


We think that we have certain material things, or are in a perfect relationship, or high-powered job. All of this causes suffering and stress. Nothing or no one else makes you whole. To be whole you have to find harmony within yourself. Stop and ask, “Who am I? What am I doing here? What are we born for? Is there something more to all of this?”


Your strength – and ability to deal with stress – comes from remaining open to all the experiences that life has for you. When you get to a stage where you begin to stop tagging those experiences as good or bad, and you just call them experiences, that’s when stress disappears and happiness flows.

Recognize your feelings and vulnerability, acknowledge the stress, and know that it is all part of life. Vulnerability is one of the greatest strengths a person has. If you are vulnerable, you will never be hurt.

It is the opposite of fear. Think about the roots of your stress beyond the actual situation or person that seems to be the cause of it. Are you operating from a place of fear, or are you embracing your vulnerability and fragility? When you embrace it instead of fighting it, you can let go of stress. Vulnerability is having the courage to say to people, “I am not perfect.”

Derek O’Neill, fondly referred to as the Celtic Sage, inspires and uplifts people from all walks of life, offering guidance to influential world leaders, businesses, celebrities, athletes and everyday people alike. Distilled from his life work in psychotherapy, a martial arts career and study with wise yogis and Indian and Tibetan masters, Derek translates ancient wisdom into modern day teachings to address the biggest challenges facing humanity today. For additional insights listen to his free radio archives explore over 20 personal development books including Stop The Struggle, Bullying, Love/Divorce, Grief, Mindfulness, Anxiety, Stress and Depression.

Image courtesy of Melissa.

Teaching Kids to Listen to Their Gut Means We Have to Listen to Ours

Have you ever had the feeling you’re not where you should be, and it’s time to change direction?

Your stomach tightens, you feel uncomfortable and your instinct kicks in, but it doesn’t give you precise, easy answers.

All you know is where you are is causing friction in your soul.

This inner voice is something I whole-heartedly believe in, but it’s a bit of a murky concept to teach to my children.

It sounds hokey if I flippantly say, “Listen to your gut!” It’s a lesson I’ve witnessed lands harder when they actually experience it for themselves.

But it’s still a tricky lesson to navigate.

I mean, I am telling them to listen to their guts and be true to who they are, and to back away if something doesn’t feel right. How do we balance this advice with the equally well-intentioned guidance to have perseverance and grit to see hard things through? To stick with it and be victorious?

Like nearly everything in life, there is no right or wrong answer, but I find myself wanting to put more weight on the side of my brain that reminds me everyone–even children–are armed with an inner voice that is their compass, and tuning into that is even more important than staying with something that feels wrong, which is different from something that feels only difficult.

My son is 10 years old, and he begged me for two years to play tackle football.

I refused.

I know this child.

This child is not aggressive or competitive. He likes to cook and care for animals, so I had no idea where this desire to play tackle football was coming from.

After his asking one too many times, I finally agreed. I realized the worst thing that could happen would be he would dislike it, and he would at least know after doing it.

At first he really liked it.

And then the tackling drills began.

He cowered and flinched and was taken to the ground.

Over. And over. And over.

The kids who had been playing football for years took this as a challenge to initiate my son, so they came after him more. The coaches yelled at the team that if anyone flinches or does not face a tackle, they’ll do it again until they can take it.

I get it. They were trying to get the boys to not be afraid because being afraid would be the thing that would cause even more injuries.

But there was a lot of emphasis on manhood and not “playing like girls” and the practices started to feel like something I had not anticipated or appreciated. I sat back and let my son figure out if this felt right to him. (What I really wanted to do was storm the field and show them just how scrappy and strong a girl can be.)

My eyes widened as I pretended to read a book but in reality was staring at the same sentence, nervously overhearing the heated practices that rarely included any fun or positivity.

He kept running to me on the sidelines with tears in his eyes, telling me it hurt so bad. He got the wind knocked out of him, got a helmet to the stomach and again to the shoulder and his hands and arms stomped on by cleats.

I am so ashamed to admit this, but my first emotion was anger. I was angry that he hadn’t listened to me. I knew he would not like the aggressive tackles and daily injuries.

After the wave of anger, my instinct was to tell him, “Let’s get out of here if you’re in pain, and this doesn’t feel right.” but I looked down at my book and told him to get back on the field and keep at it.

My own gut was telling me to let him stop, but I doubted the voice, telling myself I was being too sensitive. I didn’t want to make a knee-jerk-over-reactive-mama-bear decision, so I sat and breathed, listening to my gut and then ignoring my gut.

He tried, and again, he flinched and cowered practice after practice, fearing the pain and cut-throat environment.

He ran to me on the sidelines again during a water break, and my protective brain could not keep up the bad-cop persona anymore. He needed my help, and acting cold and angry with him was no way to show him I had his back.

He was looking to me to get him out of a situation where he felt completely overwhelmed. I couldn’t continue to say no.

I calmly folded my camping chair, picked up the book I was pretending to read, and told him, “Let’s get you out of here.” I went up to the coach and told him my son wasn’t feeling great, and we were leaving early.

We got to the car and my son burst into tears. He had been holding them in out of fear of being made fun of by others on the team.

He said, “I don’t know why I didn’t listen to you when you told me I wouldn’t like football. I can’t do this anymore.”

I exhaled, “I know, sweet birdie. It’s okay. But, hey, can I please record you saying that again?”

He smiled.

We had a long conversation about how he didn’t enjoy football at all. He didn’t like that coaches kept yelling at them to not play like girls and to “man up.” He didn’t like that it was no longer fun and nothing but getting yelled and cussed at.

He said it didn’t feel right.

I quietly said, “I know. I hated every second of it, and it was torture watching every practice. I did it because you wanted to try it, and I didn’t want to shield you from things you’re curious about.”

I told him that he could quit, because to me, what helps a boy be a man doesn’t have to be just physical challenges like tackling others. Being an aggressive boy who is in training to be a good man means you have to have good communication skills and a sense of accountability. I told him he could quit only if he would go to the coach in person and tell him face to face.

He rolled his eyes and told me that would be awkward. I said, “Well, let’s go get you back on that field then if you can’t do that.”

He met with the coach the next day and told him football was just not for him.

I told my son he learned something really powerful and that’s the gift of listening to his gut.

We talked about how he could feel he wasn’t in the right place. That’s not to say he was any better than anyone there, but everyone else was having fun and loving tackling each other. He was, however, miserable.

We talked about how it’s a fine line between giving up too soon before you give something a chance and staying too long even when you know it doesn’t feel right.

I told him, “I know this was a hard experience, but I’m grateful I let you play. This way you now know what it feels like, and you won’t wonder and resent me for not letting you. I’m grateful you got to hear your gut tell you you weren’t where you wanted to be. This is all good stuff and worth the last month of practice and injuries.”

I pulled back the curtain and admitted to him as an adult I have made mistakes by ignoring this inner voice. I’ve stayed in relationships in the past where I could feel every day it wasn’t right, but I told myself to stop being sensitive and just deal with it, even when I was miserable.

This lesson of honoring yourself and facing disappointment when things don’t go as we envisioned is one of the biggest obstacles in life.

I told him that’s the hard truth, but how great that he got to experience it and feel it all, so he could understand it next time he faces it.

I can’t lie to you and pretend I wasn’t torn. I wasn’t sure if letting him quit was right. I wanted to push him to a victorious place where he faced something difficult and gained confidence by conquering it. I had visions of him turning a corner and suddenly loving this sport that is so unlike anything else he is interested in.

Aside from wanting to push him, I was also selfishly embarrassed. I assumed the other parents would judge me and my son as weak. I am not proud of my parenting when I waste time on worrying what others think of me.

I stayed awake for a lot of the night, wondering if I had made the right decision, second-guessing my parenting skills. I wanted a guarantee that letting him quit was not setting the precedent of soft parenting that would lead to him one day living in my basement in his 40s as he lacks the backbone to face life, thanks to my coddling.

I can get dramatic and in my head when parenting dilemmas come to me. It’s never fun.

That morning, I had my answers. I knew I too had to listen to my gut. I knew letting him quit was the right answer this time. I can’t tell him to listen to his gut when in reality I doubt my own.

That’s the thing about listening to our guts–the message it sends to us gets muddled when we let ourselves get distracted by doubt.

It can’t be something we abuse to get out of having to face new situations or striving for more in life. We can’t confuse laziness and fear of hard work with raw instinct giving us information about how we’re wired.

As adults, most of us are probably going through life ignoring a voice within us that is trying to nudge us toward something else, right?

It’s hard work to listen to the voice, so we turn on Netflix or scroll social media, but the voice of who we are and what we’re meant to go after is always there. It’s mysterious, uncomfortable and fuzzy at times, but it gets louder when we don’t listen.

When we spend time owning our truths and firmly plant our feet in them instead of chasing after things or people that don’t feel right, we can live a life that is deeper.

These are all big concepts for anyone to wrangle, let alone a 10-year-old boy who prides himself on his repertoire of fart jokes.

But he got it.

He said he felt it and now knows what it means to give yourself permission to be who you are.

This took me about 30 years longer to learn than it did for him, and it’s still something I have to re-learn often.

I run myself into the ground with worry that I’m not guiding my kids in the right direction or giving them the tools they need to be healthy adults who have healthy relationships. But on that day as I saw my son struggle, cry, and then find relief in the permission to walk away and be himself, I realized I am doing something right.

I feel it in my gut.

Rebecca Rine is a writer and speaker at where she writes with raw honesty about the joys and challenges of an ordinary life, feeling it all and living simply and deeply while not being a bag of turds to others. Readers say her writing connects with them because she openly writes about her life and shortcomings regarding marriage, parenting, spirituality, and aging with a goal of embracing your imperfect, authentic self. She is an opinion contributor to Dayton Daily News and public radio, and has been published in places such as: Scary Mommy, Blunt Moms, Fatherly, and The Write Life. Her podcast “Real Life out Loud” can be heard on various platforms, and her short videos about “one thing to think about” can be found on YouTube. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Subscribe to her website and to purchase her book, “What Waits Ahead is Way Better and Way Worse Than You Imagined: True Stories of Balancing Joy and Poo in Life”.

Image courtesy of Ivan Samkov.

This Is Where “Never Good Enough” Goes to Die

I forgot something I was supposed to remember. It happens — particularly when I’m under a great deal of stress or simply haven’t been getting enough sleep. I had a split second of that feeling you get when you’ve let someone down before I pulled myself back. Who had set this expectation? Was it something I was responsible for or something I was made to feel responsible for? There’s a big difference.

I’ve been fighting never being good enough my entire life. The bar was set high in my childhood, and I became the typical overachiever. I could pull in the grades and get glowing performance reviews from teachers and coaches and still fail to measure up in every other way that mattered in my family.

Relationships were often more of the same. A bar was set, and while I got glowing reviews in the beginning, the reality of me failed to reach those same lofty heights. I became an overachiever in this arena, too. The more I felt love bleeding out of my relationships, the harder I tried — as if just being good enough was all it would take to save them.

It took me too long to realize that there was something wrong with this definition of “good enough”. If I wasn’t setting the bar, why the hell was I trying so hard to reach it?

I’ve been working on strengthening my boundaries, and I’ve had to figure out the difference between what I’m responsible for managing and what falls outside of my responsibility and control. I cannot maintain everyone else’s emotional wellbeing. It’s not my job to make everyone else happy all the time. I’m allowed to be human, to make mistakes, and to have bad days. Being myself and doing my best — whatever my best is on any given day — is good enough, full stop.

But years of conditioning as an overachiever also mean that I have to monitor the standards I set for myself, taking care not to constantly move the objectives out farther just as I reach them. I have to make sure that I’m not setting up the perfect conditions for letting myself down. Our goals should be designed to help us succeed, not give us a permanent sense of inadequacy and failure. Small, manageable goals are preferable to having a single large one.

It’s exhausting to work so hard in the vain attempt of winning someone else’s approval. It’s even more exhausting to become conditioned to rarely giving our own approval for our efforts. I’m finally at that place where I realize that this is where “never good enough” goes to die.

Practice Awareness

In the beginning, the best thing we can do to get out of this habit is to start becoming aware of just how often we do it and how it makes us feel. Awareness is a first step to recognizing our patterns and can also be the key to helping change them. That “never good enough” feeling may show up more often than we realize if we’re paying attention.

That split second moment of feeling like I let someone I love down was followed by the uncomfortable awareness that I might have allowed someone else’s expectation to dictate my feelings. As relational human beings, we may find ourselves making commitments or honoring expectations within relationships. That’s normal. Constantly fueling a sense of inadequacy isn’t normal or healthy.

Decide Responsibility

It’s taken too long to realize that other people’s feelings are not my responsibility. This applies to their expectations of me, too. Most of my feelings of inadequacy have come as a result of someone deciding that I should be something I’m not — or someone deciding that I am simply “too much” of one thing and “not enough” of another. This isn’t my responsibility.

Deciding responsibility also requires owning when we are accountable. Sometimes, we let ourselves or someone else down and need to apologize and make it right. It’s also important to make sure we’re setting the right metric for measuring our behavior. If we’re the ones setting the impossible goals that lead to a sense of failure, then we’re also the ones who can change this behavior. It can be empowering to realize where our responsibility lies.

Practice Self-Compassion

I’ve been trying to show myself compassion throughout the process of addressing this feeling of never being good enough. I know where it comes from, I’m aware how often I feel it, and I know what it feels like to experience it. Now isn’t the time to set a bar for finally feeling good enough. It’s the time for practicing self-compassion for all that we’ve been through and all we’re going to go through to stop tying our emotional well-being to how other people receive us. It’s time to give ourselves a little grace because there will likely be times that we still feel this way, and we’ll need to gently move through this experience, too.

Embrace Authenticity

Now, as I move through life, I ask myself if my decisions are true to me and if they honor the life I want to live. Sometimes, I have to pause and ask myself:

Do I feel discomfort because I’m doing something new that may let someone else down, or do I feel discomfort because I’m not being true to myself and, in turn, letting myself down?

I have to ask this question a lot more than I thought I would at the outset. So much of human behavior is learned, and we get into those familiar patterns. Sometimes, we have to check if we’re engaged in a pattern or engaged in living our lives in the way of our choosing.

Embracing authenticity helps move us out of the mindset that we can ever fail at being human. It allows room for imperfection, for trial and error, and for sometimes learning the hard way despite our best efforts. Being true to who we are allows for us to work on our challenges without defining ourselves by them.

I spent too many years of my life feeling like I wasn’t good enough and would never be good enough. I don’t want to live that way anymore. I don’t want to let anyone down, but I’ve decided that the person I’ve let down the most over the years is me. Every time I did something that was in service to someone else’s vision of me, I let myself down. I’m showing compassion for the version of myself that allowed this, but I’m doing my best not to repeat those patterns anymore.

The bar I’m setting now involves living authentically and doing my best. It’s a flexible kind of bar since my best may change from day to day. I don’t want to spend any more time leaping over the hurdles of other people’s expectations. My own are often challenging enough, and even those will need to be adjusted to do more empowering and less making me feel like a failure.

This is where “not good enough” goes to die — when we finally love ourselves enough to decide that letting ourselves down is no longer an acceptable option.

Crystal Jackson is a former therapist turned author. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elephant Journal, Elite Daily, and The Good Men Project. She’s also the author of Left on Main, the first book in the Heart of Madison series. When she’s not writing for Medium and working on her next book, you can find Crystal traveling, paddle boarding, running, throwing axes badly but with terrifying enthusiasm, hiking, doing yoga, or curled up with her nose in a book in Madison, Georgia, where she lives with her two wild and wonderful children.

Image courtesy of Gantas Vaičiulėnas.