Category: Positively Positive

The Healthy Relationship Hat Trick

Too often, relationship success is defined solely by longevity. It’s easy to think that couples who have stayed together are happier and healthier than the ones that break apart. We accept their social media version of their relationship — seen through the filter of loving selfies, vacation photos, and anniversary posts — and think we know the whole story. We never really do.

I am not a relationship expert, but I am a former therapist and have had enough unhealthy relationships to have learned a thing or two about what doesn’t work. I don’t recommend this particular learning strategy, but it has helped me identify the hat trick of healthy relationships. Each of the factors I’ll share are found in healthy relationships — and are noticeably absent in unhealthy ones.

On their own, each of these will enhance a partnership. Yet, none of them can singlehandedly make a relationship thrive. For optimal relationship health, we need all three factors to be present.


Effort isn’t the new sexy; it’s always been hot. It’s also absolutely essential to the health of a relationship. That may seem obvious, but too many relationships begin with low effort at the outset — a guaranteed red flag of trouble to come. If someone isn’t making an effort at the start, they’re unlikely to increase their effort as time goes on.

Effort needs to be equal for it to be healthy. Both partners need to invest their time and energy into the relationship. This creates the best possible scenario for the relationship to flourish as each person gets to know the other and genuinely stays present and engaged in their interactions.

A word of warning here: too much effort at the start could be a sign of love bombing. This manipulative behavior happens when someone goes all out to secure our affections only to withdraw, withhold, or leave once they’ve obtained them. This can appear in narcissistic relationships, but it also happens when a codependent partner goes overboard to gain assurance of the relationship, only to drop the effort later. Effort should be consistent to be healthy, and someone who abruptly stops making an effort could have been engaged in love bombing.

Effort is also evidence of our own individual health in relationships. Tolerating low effort can be a sign of low self-worth. Refusing to put effort into a relationship can be evidence of emotional unavailability. Equal effort in a relationship isn’t too much to ask. In fact, it should be the bare minimum.


Healthy relationships naturally have reciprocity. Respect, admiration, affection, love, attraction — they all go both ways. They are simultaneously given and received. Unhealthy relationships, on the other hand, may have some shared feelings but lack respect, affection, or even love.

This also seems laughably simple. Like effort, reciprocity takes two. It allows us to share our feelings and know that they are returned. Without these feelings being returned, we are unlikely to find our relationships satisfying, healthy, or nurturing. Instead, we can feel excruciatingly lonely even though we aren’t alone.

Reciprocity shows up in how we communicate about one another and to one another, how we handle conflict, and the way we express affection. If mutual respect isn’t a given in each of these interactions, it’s likely that there will be a multitude of problems that could result in an end to the relationship. Relationships without reciprocity can never be healthy.


Real, deep, and connected relationships require vulnerability. They require us to be able to show up as our truest selves — and know that we’re safe enough within the relationship to do it. Healthy relationships need vulnerability to survive the ups and downs of life and sharing that life with another person.

Vulnerability takes enormous courage. It’s incredibly difficult to open up about who we are and how we feel to other people. It’s even more challenging when we have to deal with conflict within a relationship and need to share how someone else’s actions impacted us. Owning up to our triggers, apologizing for our missteps, and taking responsibility for our actions all demand a certain level of vulnerability.

Relationships with effort, reciprocity, and vulnerability are often strong and healthy. This doesn’t mean they’ll last a lifetime. Sometimes, our feelings or needs change. Effort can be present without reciprocity, and no amount of effort from one person can save a relationship. Each of these qualities can make a relationship stronger and more connected, but without all three of them, it’s doubtful that the relationship will be healthy — even if it survives, collecting anniversaries along the way.

I’ve spent too much time in unhealthy relationships where these factors were missing. Before I did the hard work of processing past trauma in therapy, I accepted low effort. It was unsatisfying and painful, but I didn’t realize yet that I deserved better. It wasn’t until I dealt with my own pain that I started demanding effort as a bare minimum in relationships.

I’ve also had too many relationships that lacked reciprocity. In some instances, respect was missing. One former partner had no respect for my work and was condescending about my opinions and interests. Another had full respect for who I am as a person but didn’t return my love or affection. Reciprocity isn’t an optional part of relationships; it’s entirely necessary.

Vulnerability has been the biggest challenge for me personally. I’ve rarely felt safe enough to be completely vulnerable with partners. I always kept myself just a little protected. Even when I was finally able to open up completely, I felt seen, but I didn’t necessarily feel safe when the same person began cataloguing my flaws rather than accepting them. I knew I was being judged, and it made me just a little more self-protective than I would have been otherwise.

I’ll have to continue working on vulnerability, but I’ll be looking for it in romantic relationships, too. I’ve dated the emotionally unavailable partner. I’m not interested in putting myself through that again. My life has enough challenges without having to constantly scale the walls a partner has built to achieve any level of connection and intimacy. It’s exhausting, and they may not ever fully open up. We deserve a love that accepts our vulnerability and offers their own.

Relationships aren’t easy. There will always be differences we have to manage and conflict we need to resolve. Sharing our lives with another human being with their own background, challenges, and interests will always take communication, compromise, and commitment. Adding these base level requirements may seem like it would make dating harder, but the reality is that it just makes it healthier.

In truth, it may take longer to find a partner. We won’t be interested in the low effort or emotionally unavailable partners we used to attract and entertain. When we choose to partner someone and share our lives, we’ll know it’s because we’ve found the right connection, not just a convenient one.

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 Mikhail Nilov.

How Regulated Is Your Nervous System Right Now?

It has happened to all of us. One stressor after the other and all of a sudden we feel paranoid about something we would never think about normally. Or we feel more sensitive and triggered. Or we fall for a scam. Or we shout at our dog. Or…

It’s normal, we all get dysregulated at times. So, what does ‘dysregulated’ actually mean?

It means a Nervous System that feels under threat and has lost its capacity to regulate its fear response. In human terms: It means feeling unsafe.

The funny part is that sometimes we can be dysregulated and not even notice for days, months, years even. We call that burn-out, or stress, or PTSD even.

And if we have a lot of people around us suffering from the same affliction, we might start calling it ‘normal’. And that, my friends, is a slippery slope down the path of delusion, paranoia and un-kindness.

It’s good to pause every now and again and check in with ourselves, how ‘regulated’, meaning happy and human do we actually feel?

Here is a checklist to help you see if it’s time to take better care of yourself

 1. Sleep

How is your sleep? Can you fall asleep easily and do you sleep peacefully? Do you wake up refreshed? Or is your head busy with ‘stuff’ keeping you from properly resting?

If you are not sleeping well, it means your system is more stressed than is healthy. It means your NS is in overdrive, trying to process the input of information you received that day but can’t make sense of it, which feels unsafe. If our world doesn’t make sense, how can we rest at night? Anything can happen at any moment; we have to stay on alert. Hence no sleep.

It happens to all of us sometimes of course, but if it’s an ongoing thing maybe you need to have a look at what makes you feel unsafe.

My suggestion here would be: Don’t use your phone at least an hour before going to bed. Don’t use it first thing in the morning. Instead: dim the lights, put some gentle yin yoga music on, cuddle with your human or non-human friend or listen to something that brings you back into your heart. Take time to unwind before bed. It makes a huge difference.

2. Groundedness/In touch with the Body

How grounded do you feel right now? If you don’t know what that means think of how you feel after one day of sitting in front of the computer and how you feel after a good dance or hike in nature?

Grounded means feeling alive and connected to your physicality. It means being in the here and now. It means being at ease and trusting that you can respond to your environment moment by moment. It means a willingness and capacity to move in free and spontaneous ways (like dancing and skipping and playing).

If you are feeling alive you are also feeling some sense of pleasure and enjoyment. So how much pleasure is there in your body right now? Or is your head spinning with thoughts/ideas/emotions, and your shoulders are tight? Which brings us to the next point:

3. Needs

If we are connected to our bodies, it naturally follows we are connected to our needs. Right now: how do you feel? And what do you need?

If you do feel stressed, are you aware of what you need in order to release some of that tension?

People who know how to regulate their NS, are in touch with their senses, able to track when they are going over their limits. They are able to get up from the desk and shake or do some exercises in order to bring themselves into balance. If they are triggered, they are able to take a pause and track what’s happening inside themselves. If they feel vulnerable and shaky, they are able to reach out to a friend and ask for a listening ear or a hug.

Taking care of those needs gives an immediate sense of relief and relaxes the NS. It makes us feel safer and less alone. The world starts making a little bit more sense again and feels less threatening. It becomes less about the stories and more about simply being together and the enjoyment of that.

So how well are you taking care of your needs? When was the last time you had a hug? A cry? A laugh? A simple moment of just being?

4. Curiosity

Curiosity implies openness. When we are regulated, that means we feel naturally safe, and therefore able to stay open and curious. We are designed to digest new information and put it together in novel ways, enhancing our ability to make sense of the world around us and find solutions that benefit all.

If, however, you find yourself unable to stay curious when hearing or reading another perspective (one that probably widely differs from your own), it means you are being triggered. A trigger is a sure sign that some part of you feels threatened. You are being challenged in your perspective and identity, and you start feeling unsafe.

If the other side was right, the ground on which you are standing is starting to shake, which means your identity would have to change in order to integrate this new perspective into your own. Hence, we cannot even allow ourselves to see the other position. We close down our natural sense of curiosity. We resort to anger and into blaming and shaming. We perceive ourselves as personally attacked and often feel a victim.

So, track within yourself, do you get triggered easily right now? And if so, can you track it further to which part feels under attack? What do you need to come back to safety?

5. Empathy/Kindness/Open Heart

If we feel safe in ourselves, it’s easy to put ourselves in the shoes of another. Despite all the stories of ‘the survival of the fittest’ (which is really quite outdated), humans are actually programmed for empathy. We love helping. We love feeling. Just remember how good it feels to be generous and kind. Seeing that smile of gratitude on someone else’s face feeds our soul and nourishes our hearts.

When we feel safe, one truth becomes apparent:

You are another me, cleverly disguised as you.

We are literally one. Sure, we have many differences, but we all share the same neurology, body, and heart. We all live on this planet. We all want to feel safe. We all want to be happy. But only when we feel really good (regulated) in ourselves do we have access to truly feeling this.

And this is also where insight and compassion come from. When watching or hearing someone being irrational, negative, or lost in paranoia and hate, you don’t react or get triggered, you simply understand it’s a dysregulated NS, another suffering human being.

You don’t try to meet them with logic (because you remember that that didn’t work for you either when you were in that place),

you don’t shame them or blame them,

you try to make them feel safe,

by showing them that you feel them, that they are not alone. And that there is another way.

6. Laughter

Seriousness is a sign of too much tension in the body. Really.

If life is too much right now, if you are too worried about what’s happening in the world, if your furrow of worry on your forehead is getting too deep, it actually only means you haven’t released some access energy.

Yes, sorry, no matter the amount of how serious you think life is, it will actually never justify you getting all stiff and rigid about it. It just doesn’t help.

I know some feathers are being ruffled here, reading this: what, how dare you suggest I could just laugh at what’s happening? People are dying, the world is collapsing, climate change, poverty, the government, the AI etc.

Yep, I get it. It’s tragic. Disastrous. Painful. So much suffering. And…

also really funny. Absurd. Hilarious. Comic. Ridiculous.

Do you get it?

There comes a moment when we cannot hold this amount of tension any longer and we simply have to let go. Surrender.

We realize that so much of the suffering we have been experiencing actually comes from our own holding on, our own trying to control, molding the world into our limited perspective of how we would like it to be.

When we mature into seeing that we cannot hold on, that that actually hurts us, we release. We release with laughter. Laughing at ourselves for believing that we were ever in control.

It is the best medicine. Try it.

From that kind of release, new energy, and with that new perspective, solutions come. With laughter, we are willing to surrender our own limited perspective and to see the bigger picture. But first, we have to be willing to let go.

So when was the last time you had a good belly laugh?

Sometimes it’s really hard to see ourselves clearly. Especially if we are in the midst of emotionally charged situations. Looking around social media, including Medium, I see a lot of amygdala’s fired up into a frenzy.

Can’t blame anyone either, as we are really in a collective shit-show of epic proportions, but the question is what are we going to do about it?

There is no shame in being dysregulated. The shame is in pretending that you are not and calling it ‘normal’.

If we are really worried about others and what’s happening in the world, let this be where we start from: taking care of ourselves first, regulating our Nervous System, so we feel grounded, open, connected, light, and above all kind. And then reminding others how to do the same.

So, we all remember what it means to be human on this beautiful planet.

Kasia Patzelt works as an Embodiment Coach and is passionate about integrating our spiritual experiences into the here and now of daily life aka how to be truly heart intelligent. She is a writer on Medium and works one-on-one with people online or on the magic island of Ibiza, where she lives.

Image courtesy of Liza Summer.

Why Your Inner Garden Contains Your Transformation Secrets

Here’s a quote that illustrates the power of transforming your inner garden to bring about transformation in your reality. “Flowing water never decays.” I first heard this teaching from Wayne Dyer talking about getting into the flow of Spirit.

Dive deeper into this subject on the latest episode of The Growth Farming Podcast here.

Over the past four months, I’ve been studying a lot of Neville Goddard, Florence Shinn, and Ernest Holmes. They were the pioneers of teaching modern metaphysics and the law of attraction.

They all teach about states of consciousness and how to shift into higher states to create the life you desire.

Florence is big on the power of words and thoughts. Neville is big on combining thought and feeling. Ernest is very condensed in his methods and uses a combination of both thought, belief, and feeling.

All of them teach that the power to create is in the mind and heart.

Barb Canale

Why creation is not in circumstances or experiences

We’re all too often shaped and conditioned by what our senses tell us. What we see, hear, taste, touch, or feel is how we think things are. Yet it’s the inner world (the garden of your mind and heart) that actually creates your outer world.

Using their teachings (Neville, Ernest, and Florence), the Bible is full of insights and directions on the creative power inside all of us to make the world as we imagine it. Yet we’re conditioned to not trust our imaginations.

Jesus said to be like children as we come to God. To come with complete trust and faith.

Also, the mind of a child is one of infinite openness to possibilities and the belief that wonders are normal things. As we get older, we’re taught to come down to earth or think rationally, letting our imaginations alone.

This conditioning stagnates our creative abilities because it blocks the divine flow of Love and creativity. The Divine says that all things are possible.

Tim Foster

Stuck water decays because it becomes stagnant

The ego or intellect wants safety and security, but not necessarily peace and abundance. It wants only to survive. Status-quo is therefore its main objective.

The survival mechanism isn’t a tool for growth and thriving. Often times this survival mechanism will try to keep you stuck in the past. Repeating stories of painful experiences and then telling that this is how life really is.

This is the real enemy spoken of in scripture, not some external evil that is trying to harm you. It’s the negative, destructive thoughts of limitation and fear that create mini-worlds of destruction and pain.

Everything comes from within, not from without. Meaning, all that we see and experience is the fruit of the inner workings of humankind.

The subconscious is reflecting back to us what is inside it by projecting the thoughts and feelings on the screen of the world.

Etienne Girardet

This leads us to ask some very essential questions

How do we remove the decay and limiting beliefs inside this river of our minds? 

Can you change your inner consciousness to operate from the divine infiniteness of all possibilities? 

How can someone who has experienced painful heartbreak, poverty, and struggle escape these conditions to experience blissful relationships, prosperity, and ease? 

What some great teachers have to say about this

“Man awake is under compulsion to express his subconscious impressions. If in the past he unwisely impressed himself, then let him begin to change his thought and feeling, for only as he does so will he change his world. Turn from appearances and assume the feeling that would be yours were you already the one you wish to be. Feeling a state produces that state.” –Neville Goddard, Feeling Is The Secret 

“Power is, and mind is, and life is; but they have to flow through us in order to express in our lives. We are dealing with law; and nature must be obeyed before it will work for us. We provide the thought form around which the divine energies play and to which they attract the conditions necessary for the fulfillment of the thought.  When we give a treatment this is all that we have to do but before we can do even this we have to clear our minds of all fear, of every sense of separation from the Divine Mind. Nothing can happen to use that is not first an accepted belief in our own consciousness.  There is something which waits only our recognition to spring into being, bringing with it all the power in the universe.”–Ernest Holmes, Creative Mind and Success

“We are told in the fifty-fifth Psalm, to ‘cast thy burden upon the Lord.’ Many passages in the Bible state that the battle is God’s not man’s and that man is always to ‘stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.’ The superconscious mind (or Christ within) is the department which fights man’s battles and relieves him of burdens. It seems almost impossible to make any headway directing the subconscious from the conscious, as the reasoning mind (the intellect) is limited in its conceptions and filled with doubts and fears. How scientific it then is, to cast the burden upon the superconscious mind (or Christ within) where it is ‘made light’ or dissolved of its native nothingness.” –Florence Scovel Shinn, The Game Of Life and How To Play It

The fruit of life comes from the garden of the mind and heart

You must change your impression of yourself and your conditions internally.

This is the work of the individual, not any outside influence or event.

The transformation we all want to experience, whether it be from pain to happiness or struggle to ease, or even from glory to glory, is an internal process of clearing out our minds of all that produces beliefs in lack and shortage, limitations and scarcity, fear and doubt.

This is a conscious choice to make on a daily basis to address yourself with Grace and gentleness, not hostility and frustration.

Grace and gentleness are feeling states

The subconscious mind, which is molding your outward experiences through what you plant inside with your thoughts and feelings, is the soil in which the seeds you plant take root. It’s a combination of thought and feeling which produce the fruits of your life.

That’s why the focus of everything I teach with Growth Farming is on the heart and mind garden, the feeling and the thoughts.

The inner work is the spiritual component. It is the river of life that flows from within. As your soul harmonizes with Love using your heart and mind, transformation occurs.

We can block and hinder the infinite spirit from doing its divine work if we maintain beliefs of limitation and scarcity, or of doubt and fear.

Love is abundant and always giving

Yet if we don’t allow ourselves to believe in this truth, we will create experiences that conform to the internal conditioning of the subconscious mind that has only been given figurative weeds and thorns.

All life inside is constantly striving for survival against such negative thoughts and feelings.

The way out of this is to become aware of what is pervasive inside your inner garden.

Do you feel perpetual states of hurt, pain, loneliness, fear, doubt, and worry? Are you constantly questioning your worthiness of Love, happiness, or success?

Do you feel and believe (consciously or unconsciously) that your worth is validated by the actions and attitudes of other people towards you?

If so, it’s ok. We all are conditioned to believe that our experiences are what is real and what is true. But that’s not how life actually is.

Caroline Veronez

Everything is a reflection of your inner state of consciousness

Your conditioned beliefs shape your consciousness, which then shapes your experiences.

What is inside of you is reflected on the screen of the human experience. Or as Neville teaches, “Everything and everyone is YOU PUSHED OUT.

So what can you do to change your state of consciousness?

What is the key to transforming your inner world to reflect your wishes fulfilled in the realm of your senses?

Believe and trust in the power of Divine Love. And know that this Love is already inside of you.

How do I know that Love is already inside of you?

I was in a very similar space not long ago. Heartbroken and emotionally crushed, I felt completely worthless after experiencing a very painful divorce.

I quit my coaching business. Inside my inner garden was no confidence or belief in myself. Instead,  there was a very long-term inner belief that Love and success were the product of years of struggle.

When I was finally brought to a place of feeling below rock bottom, I was confronted with the truth: I had attracted to me everything I believed was true of myself.

All the pain, misery, struggle, and suffering was the harvest of decades of internal planting of negative beliefs and stories of fear and lack.

One day, I heard a still small voice whisper to me in my lowest brokenness. “You don’t know how to Love yourself, and this is the cause of all your pain.”

It was at this point that I began to make a change in my inner world through my thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and actions. I sought the Christ-mind, the Divine Source of all Love and abundance. It met me where I was and has never left.

This was the beginning of my own awakening and transformation.

And if I can go through a proverbial hell and come out whole on the other side, you can too. This is what I teach in more depth through my book Be Solid: How To Go Through Hell & Come Out Whole.

Cultivating Love from within is the key to all positive change

This practice still requires my active conscious participation in clearing out beliefs, thoughts, and attitudes of that don’t serve my highest good. So that the Divine Love of peace, abundance, and success can flow freely and fluidly throughout my life, relationships, business, and endeavors.

It also requires commitment and consistency. All transformation and change is a process.

Anyone seeking instant and immediate results needs to first focus on your inner garden as being the main thing. As your feelings and thoughts change, your outer world reflects this back to you.

It all begins with a choice. A conscious choice. An inner decision.

Only you can make this choice and change

Once you begin, be faithful to yourself and to the process of clearing out your mind from anything that doesn’t serve you.

There are a few select tools I use daily for this. I’ve written and talked about them at length in my book Be Solid: How To Go Through Hell & Come Out Whole, which is a blueprint and playbook for overcoming fear and negative beliefs to live a life of self-Love and acceptance.

I also teach these tools in my online training programs and private coaching practice. A few to mention here are daily journaling, affirmations, and meditation.

These three tools, when used with the power of the Divine Mind (super-consciousness/Christ-mind/Holy Spirit) create the change that produces life as you WISH it to be.

Being conscious of what you are planting inside yourself allows you to experience growing Love from within.

Accept yourself as you are right now. This is Grace. This is Love.

If you feel bad or have negative feelings, do not reject yourself. Accept yourself. “It’s Ok, I Love You,” is a beautiful affirmation that clears negativity because you send Love to yourself. Love overcomes all fear.

Send Love to yourself at all times

Love is abundant. If you find yourself thinking in terms of limitations or scarcity, change your thoughts to those of plenty and abundance.

Find a place to walk outside and notice the abundance of grass, trees, birds, clouds, or anything in nature. Breathe in this abundance and give thanks for it. Gratitude is an attraction force.

If you notice that you have inner thoughts of negativity towards yourself, change them with affirmations. Many great affirmations are in my books.

Others that have helped me are in the books of Florence Scovell Shinn, Wayne Dyer, and Jenn Sincero.

This is what I teach in-depth through the 21 Days To Be The Peace Training Program. Affirmations are declarations of Love that plant seeds inside yourself for the tree of Life to grow from within you. You cultivate these seeds with meditation and journaling to produce the changes you want.

Your inner transformation is then reflected back to you with abundant Love, happiness, and prosperity.

This is the key to having the life of your dreams.

Here’s everything you need to grow in this practice

In summary:

  • It’s the inner world and inner work that actually creates our outer experiences.
  • Your inner beliefs back what is inside it by projecting the thoughts and feelings on the screen of the world.
  • The transformation from pain to happiness or even from glory to glory is an internal process.
  • Become aware of what is pervasive inside your inner garden of the mind and heart garden (belief and feeling).
  • Choose to foster a new set of beliefs and cultivate these daily to experience the transformational changes you desire.

*This article was 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!

Productivity Leads to Happiness

hap·pi·ness /ˈhapēnəs/ noun — the state of being happy. Synonyms: contentment, pleasure, contentedness, satisfaction, cheerfulness, cheeriness, merriment, merriness, gaiety, joy, joyfulness, joyousness, joviality, jollity, jolliness, glee, blitheness, carefreeness gladness, delight, good spirits, high spirits, light heartedness, good cheer, well-being, enjoyment, felicity.

Money and Happiness

What is the relationship between money and happiness? Is money a cause, and happiness an effect? Or is money evil, and a hindrance to happiness?

Most people have heard contradictory assertions about money, ranging from “money makes people happier” to “money is the root of all evil.” Upon close examination, one can see the relationship between the two.

Money is a medium of exchange for values.

A person produces values and exchanges those values for money. The more values one produces and exchanges with others, the more money he or she can accumulate.

Then the person can use this money to produce more values, and purchase values from others. This is a very simplified explanation of wealth production.

What about happiness? Happiness is an effect. The cause of happiness is the achievement of one’s core values.

Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization. These guiding principles dictate behavior and can help people understand and companies determine if they are on the right path towards fulfilling their goals.

Say a person consciously values an enriching love relationship. That person then prepares herself to experience such a relationship. Later, she meets someone that she admires, and they initiate a relationship.

That relationship then develops into a growing love relationship. She may not explicitly grasp the dynamics involved, but she feels happy.

Happiness is an effect. The cause of happiness is achieving one’s values.

This presumes that a person has chosen a hierarchy of values. If a person holds money as a high value and earns it, he or she will experience happiness.

The same is true of all values, such as self-esteem, romantic love, and aesthetic pleasures. Ultimately, however, happiness along with prosperity, and romantic love, depends on one fundamental condition.

Without this condition, one will not experience abiding happiness, prosperity, or romantic love. What is that condition?

That condition is “productive accountability”.

Productive Accountability

ac·count·a·bil·i·ty /əˌkoun(t)əˈbilədē/ noun — the fact or condition of being accountable. Synonyms: responsibility, liability, answerability.

No matter how much money or material abundance we might have, productive work is essential to our happiness. Even if a person wins a billion-dollar lottery, that person would need to engage in productive accountable activities to experience abiding happiness.

Why would even a billionaire need to engage in productive accountable activities to achieve abiding happiness?

Wouldn’t that billionaire be able to buy his/her way to happiness?

Wouldn’t that person derive happiness from the unlimited access and consumptions to material goods?

The reason every adult human being needs to engage in productive accountable work is for physical and psychological survival. Higher causes or altruistic reasons or duty to one’s family, community, or nation are a bonus, but at the most basic level — we need to create to survive.

We don’t engage in productive work because of tacit or expressed obligations to others. The only reason to engage in productive work is for our own physical and psychological survival.

In the case of the billionaire, or any individual who is financially independent, he or she still needs to be productive to experience happiness. The individual who becomes financially independent, no longer works for physical survival. The individual’s material needs are already taken care of. He or she works for psychological fulfillment.

Increased Self-Esteem

Productive work can deliver the self-esteem that is needed for psychological survival. Sexual conquests cannot deliver the self-esteem needed for psychological survival. Neither can praying, hobbies, manipulating others, drug use, criminal scores, killing, or any other activity.

In the long run, the avoidance of productive work leads to the subconscious thought, “I wish I was dead.” It causes neurosis!

Productive accountable work is the foundation of happiness.

Productivity is also the foundation of prosperity. Productive work is indispensable to human beings. Producing more values than one consumes is the essence of a productive accountable and happy life.

Equally important is that no one can dictate to others what work to engage in. For some people’s productive work might consist of landscaping, painting, composing music, or writing. For others, these may simply be hobbies.

Others might choose teaching, healing, or engineering as their means of productive work. The guiding principle here is that productive work requires a long-range perspective, rational goals, a focused mind, and consistent effort.

We need to approach productive work rationally to experience abiding prosperity and happiness. This applies to all productive work, including janitorial work, sales, artwork, building a business, or any other productive activity, including philanthropy.

If productive work is the foundation for all abiding happiness and earned prosperity, and essentially everyone wants to be happy and prosperous, why doesn’t everyone engage in productive work?

There is a two-part answer to this question.

The first part deals with a deeply personal matter. That personal matter is a choice every human being on the planet must make. Each person must make the choice to exert the consistent effort that productive work demands. In essence, each individual human being must make the following choice: to exert consistent effort or default to laziness.

The second part of the answer is a cultural issue. The culture in the upside-down command and control world cleverly works to foster laziness, co-dependency on others, incompetence, and criminal thinking.

A lot of people want to live like a billionaire without earning it, and just have a good old time consuming more than they produce. This unfortunately does not create self-happiness for the long haul.

The command-and-control culture subtly spreads a dependency attitude in the minds of people. As people absorb this cleverly promoted attitude throughout their life, they subconsciously accept it.

People begin to think it is “cool” to take it easy, sit back, and let others do the work. Those who exert the constant high effort needed for value production are labeled as uncool, overachievers, workaholics, or other disparaging names.

Treat People with Dignity

When I was a child, I depended on my parents to survive. As I became an adult, I learned to depend on myself. I was lucky. My father taught me the value of being productive as a teenager. While my friends were having a good time partying, I was being taught the value of money by contributing to the mortgage, and household expenses.

My mom and dad didn’t need the money, and at the time, I could not stand my father for asking me to contribute like 80% of my part-time hard-earned money towards living expenses. I was 17. Years later, I thanked my dad for teaching me responsibility, but more importantly for letting me earn my fulfillment in life and grow to appreciate the importance of self-reliance, and productive work.

My dad treated me like an adult early in life, in order for me to become one.

When you treat people like adults who can take care of things, you give them the freedom they need to break away from co-dependency. You give them the freedom to find their own way in life. You give them the ability to earn their own fulfillment. You give them the ability to create happiness in their lives. You give people their dignity.

This is not just a theory. There are companies today who have embraced freedom at work, and who treat employees as co-creators, as adults. The results are companies outperforming the S&P by a factor of 10X and very low attrition rates.

At Nearsoft, (now Encora) for example, we have the lowest attrition of any company in our industry, because we’ve been treating our co-creators as adults for over a decade. Our people are engaged, free, super productive and happy.

Freedom to be productive on our own terms leads to a happy life — it’s that simple.

Get Out of the Funk

Productivity will get you out of a funk too. I recently got a call from a member of my men’s circle of eight years ago. He shared with me how he didn’t make consistent effort to being productive over the past 40 working years of his life.

As a result, he is not in a favorable place in his life right now. He is going through a divorce, is nursing an injury, isn’t working because of his injury and isn’t earning a living. He is living in the back of a construction job site, while his stuff is in storage.

I truly feel for him because he is being hit by a perfect storm. He shared with me how guilty he feels needing help, when a family member is dealing with stage three cancer. I simply replied to him: “Your perfect storm feels to you like you are fighting stage three cancer, doesn’t it?” Everything we experience in life is relative to how we perceive things and our state of consciousness.

I talk about my own perfect storm in my new book “Emotionally Aware Leadership”, and how it was a gift in my life. A wake-up call.

After hearing him pitying himself, and shaming himself, and being a victim, I simply asked him: If you went to sleep and woke up tomorrow with clear vision of what you need to do, what would that be?

By sharing with him my own perfect storm experience I was able to help him realize he isn’t the only man in the world, who has had to reinvent himself.

After more conversation, we agreed on him getting his living situation in order first. Just the sense of him having to be productive towards a goal, instead of sitting around feeling sorry for himself, gave him a needed boost to feel a sense of purpose.

That sense of purpose lifted his spirits. This brings me to the final point I wish to leave you with.

If you feel stuck, not knowing what to do, being lazy in your own wallow…. feeling a little down on yourself, feeling a little less than…. the first thing you need to do, is get into action. The moment you get back to being productive, is the moment you start feeling happy again.

*Originally published at

Tullio Siragusa is an expert level Certified Life Coach, a pioneer of disruptive technologies, an emotional intelligence (EQ) thought leader, futurist, speaker, and author. For the past 30 years, Tullio has built world class leadership teams in technology companies and startups. Tullio currently serves as Chief Strategy Officer at Nearsoft, he co-produces and hosts DojoLIVE! a platform that gives voice to emerging technology luminaries. He also hosts Rant & Grow, an entertaining and heart-centered reality podcast where each episode explores people’s personal blockages and how to powerfully move forward with careers, relationships, and self-realization by developing healthy habits. As a founding member of Radical, a social justice movement, Tullio is a strong supporter of human-dignity in all aspects of life, including freedom in the workplace.

Image courtesy of ELEVATE.

How Does Doubt Lead Us to Our Full Potential?

For too long, I’ve viewed doubt as a weakness. As a decisive person, it never made sense to me why someone would wait in line to order food for twenty minutes or more and still not have a decision ready when it’s their turn. Especially when there’s a massive menu on the wall facing you while you wait. By “never made sense”, I mean it drove me berzerk. I used to feel like there was something wrong with a person who does this.

Why can’t people just make up their minds?

But those of us on the decisive side of the ledger have our issues too. We get in over our heads sometimes. We overcommit. We wish we would have thought things through more clearly. We fail to respect the consequences of our decisions. We oftentimes fly by the seat of our pants.

Overconfidence leads to disappointment. And indecision leaves unrealized potential. Neither of these paths sound very promising.

Maybe there’s a third way.

What if doubt actually illuminates the best path forward? Not doubt that ends in paralysis. But doubt that demands better answers. That kind of doubt may actually be necessary to grow and find meaningful solutions to vexing problems. Francis Bacon, an English philosopher credited with helping develop the scientific method, wrote almost 400 years ago that:

“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.” ― Francis Bacon, The Oxford Francis Bacon IV: The Advancement of Learning

Think about what he is saying. If we are too sure of ourselves too quickly and fail to ask tough questions, we end up on shaky ground. The conclusion is weak. We see something that contradicts our idea and it all falls apart.

If on the other hand, we test and probe ideas with rigor, we arrive with greater confidence and elegance. Doubt can make us more insightful. Doubt can bring us positive energy. But how do we avoid the indecision that can come along for the ride?

I think the key is to be willing to doubt your doubt.

Ask questions. Be skeptical. Doubt. And then doubt the doubt.

This process does not need to end with indecision. The goal is to get a full range of possibilities on the table so that you can choose. By taking the time to consider the complete spectrum, we can raise the possibility of finding the best path.

Let’s look at how this principle can help to maximize our full potential in three of life’s most important areas.

New Relationships

We’ve all experienced the feeling before. Someone new comes into your life. You just ‘click’. Conversation is easy. There’s strong attraction. Things flow in the most natural of ways. The relationship feels like it’s meant to be. All of your feelings are signaling that this is something special. And maybe it is.

But we have to recognize that our feelings can lie to us. The reason is that our feelings come from our perceptions and beliefs. If our perceptions and beliefs aren’t correct, they can produce misguided feelings.

Doubt can test those perceptions and beliefs. Ask yourself why I feel so strongly about this person? It’s easy to gloss over the root beliefs you have while you are awash in pleasant feelings. But there are beliefs that underlie the feelings.

Find out what the beliefs and perceptions are and you can test them. What qualities am I assigning to this person? What do I believe about them that causes me to feel so strongly? The beliefs are unlikely to be 100% correct.

Getting to mostly correct means your feelings are on the right track. Mostly incorrect could indicate your feelings are leading you astray.

What I’m describing is a romantic connection but it really applies to all relationships.

I’ve felt high conviction positive feelings about business partnerships that turned out horribly. Had I taken the time to dig a bit deeper, I could have avoided pain and suffering for everyone involved.

We’re neither talking about burying feelings or putting them in charge of our decisions. We’re simply taking the time to understand where they are coming from so that we can evaluate the veracity of what they are telling us.

For this reason, I avoid anyone who demands faith or loyalty on a shortened timeline. That is a non-negotiable red flag. If I see this type of behavior, I run.

Evaluating human relationships is hard. Our hearts are complicated and deeply conflicted in many ways. Healthy doubt can help avoid the wrong relationships. And it can deepen the right ones.

Major Decisions That Involve Risk

Even a decisive person like me can feel frozen by truly consequential life decisions. Whether to proceed with a major business deal that involves debt. Whether to give up a secure job to start a new company. Whether to move to another country. These are big risks. Doubt is natural here.

It’s exciting to think about the possibilities of making the move. This could be my big breakthrough. And then the fear sets in.

Dig into it.

Get down to the root of that fear. All fear is really fear of failure in some sense. In this case, it’s important to get more specific. What specific consequences are at the bottom of the fear of failure? Is it reasonable? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t.

I once had this conversation with a multimillionaire client who confided that he feared ending up homeless. Anything is possible but not everything is reasonable. Ending up homeless was an irrational fear for him. It held him back about a major change. And it was more rooted in beliefs instilled in at a very early age. By examining the specific fears more closely, he was able to doubt his doubts and move forward.

Testing the assumptions led to a more confident decision for him.

Faith and Belief

I’m transparent and open about my Christian beliefs. And I have a number of friends who are not believers. If our conversations turn to faith, I frequently get some variation of this comment :

I can’t believe in God because I have too much doubt.

I’m going to let all of my non-believing friends in on something. Most Christians also wrestle with doubt. Some of us struggle with it a lot. But we’re in good company because expressions of doubt are found throughout the Bible.

Perhaps the most famous doubter is the disciple Thomas who famously doubted Jesus’ resurrection. Thomas demanded more evidence before he would believe. Whether you believe in the supernatural or rather that this is a story, what’s remarkable is that Jesus gave him the exact evidence he sought. He didn’t refuse Thomas because he doubted. After seeing and touching Jesus’ wounds, Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”(John 20:28).

The Bible contemplates doubt. And it’s often the doubt that leads to growth and fulfillment.

Another common comment I hear from non-believer friends is:

I just can’t bring myself to blindly believe that there’s a God when there’s no evidence it’s true.

It’s an interesting argument. But faith isn’t really opposed to reason if you think about it. We can’t prove the existence or non-existence of God. So either belief is faith by definition. If you believe there is no God, you are acting out of faith. Because you have no evidence that He doesn’t exist.

What faith does run in opposition to, though, is often our sight. What we see conflicts with what we hear or believe. We see suffering in the world and question the existence of God for example.

It’s understandable to have doubt about God’s existence or goodness based on what we see in the world.

But doubting the doubt can lead to a different conclusion. If God doesn’t exist, how could there be moral judgments on suffering or injustice?

“Survival of the fittest” would be the only valid governing principle. It couldn’t be judged as ‘evil’ since a code of morality would have no foundation. There couldn’t be right or wrong. Those value judgments have no place in a survival of the fittest framework. How could they?

The cause of the original doubt was the evil and suffering we see. But where could the judgment of goodness or badness come from without God or a supernatural power? It is hard to see how moral arguments can fit into pure natural selection.

Again, faith is not opposed to reason. And working through the doubt helps establish a stronger argument.

Handling Other People’s Doubt

As I’ve learned how healthy cynicism can lead to meaningful growth, it has changed the way I respond to doubt in other people. I don’t want to stifle someone else’s growth.

If someone close to me is expressing doubt, I resist the urge to convince them they’re wrong; especially if it’s about something I deeply care about. Ask questions. Learn about their perspective. And let them wrestle with it.

Maybe they’re expressing doubt about me. That’s okay. If I’m blessed enough to have someone believe in me, it will have more meaning if it’s been tested anyway.

Once I fully understand their point of view, then it’s appropriate to challenge their thinking. People are better prepared to have their thinking challenged when they have had the opportunity to be heard and work through the doubt on their own.

No matter what the result, I have helped my friend, family member, or loved one arrive at a stronger conclusion that they can own for themselves.

It’s very likely they couldn’t have gotten there without some healthy doubt.

Brent Rupnow is a Certified Financial Planner, Certified Exit Planning Advisor, Christian, adventure lover, and aesthetic.

Image courtesy of SHVETS production.

The Hedonic Buffet

Every day around 3 pm, my dog takes a nap.

As far as dogs go, he has a ton of available options. He could hang in the backyard, chase a squirrel, whatever. But in that moment, every day, the choice with the most benefit for him appears to be a nap.

We’re not that different.

Except times a billion.

In any given moment, you could read a blog like this one. Or watch a video. Or check your email. Or send an email. Or…

We choose.

We choose to see what Wolf Blitzer thinks is breaking news. We choose to have an argument or send a compliment. We do it largely out of habit, and our habit is grooved by countless choices in countless moments that came before.

Like the buffet, it probably won’t make you happier to keep loading your plate up simply because you can.

Our best path usually begins by acknowledging that we do, in fact, have a choice.

*Originally published on sethsblog.

Seth Godin has written eighteen books that have been translated into more than thirty languages. Every one has been a bestseller. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership, and, most of all, changing everything.

Image courtesy of Christian Domingues.

Love Yourself

I’ve been thinking about self-love a lot lately. How important it is to say yes to yourself, and decide to change your life, because every day is a new chance for you to find, and live that best version of yourself. It’s a hard concept to imagine when we live in a world that does its best to keep you believing you can’t be happier, or content.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, and even if you stay committed to the ideals of gratitude and saying yes to yourself– you’ll still have bad days. You’ll always have tough moments, and loss, and anger. That’s okay. That’s life. But you don’t have to stay trapped in the silt, you can rise through all that muck and burst out like a lotus reaching for the sun.

Or think of life like the four seasons- it’s always a cycle. People often think of winter as a bad time because in a lot of places- it’s cold, snowy, and overcast. But winter, or those tough periods of life, can be seen as a time of reflection, a time to hunker down and stay cozy so that when the sun does come back, and those flowers begin to bloom- you’re fully able to appreciate the beauty of it all.

That’s what self-love is- it’s being gentle with yourself when times are tough but pushing yourself to still seek out all the amazing things life can offer you and your own soul.

Maybe you already have some ideas about what this looks like, but in case you don’t, I wanted to give you some ideas about what self-love looks like.

A lot of self-love is really the self-care stuff you might already be great at — taking a bath, treating yourself to something special, going to bed early, or watching that favorite movie that makes you cry because it just feels good to cry sometimes.

Self-love is also eating healthy most of the time, and still knowing that it’s okay to indulge sometimes with that piece of cake, or that calorie heavy bowl of pasta. Self-love is treating yourself, as often as your finances allow it, to higher quality products that are better for you. Self-love is moving your body as often as you can, whether it’s taking a walk, or dancing while cleaning, or following an exercise routine you saw on YouTube.

Self-love is learning to pay attention to the negative words and phrases you say about yourself, and re-writing those old tapes with positive things. It’s telling yourself that you are enough and that you deserve to be loved, instead of thinking you’re not enough.

Self-love is drinking more water, and less soda. It’s drinking more greens juice, and cutting back on caffeine. Drinking too much caffeine can strip the body of valuable nutrients.

Self-love can be spending less time on social media, and more time reading things that make you happy. Less time on social media in general can have positive effects on your mental well being.

Self-love is re-discovering, or putting more energy into your hobbies. Are you creative, but don’t dedicate the time? Do you like to learn new things- but never seem to have the mental energy anymore? Do you like to always try new things- but never have the time? Self-love is finding a way, anyway, to let these things back in your life.

Self-love can be making positive financial changes. Will saving more, whatever that amount might be, help you to finally take that trip you’ve always known would change your life? Focus on that.

Self-love is letting go of toxic relationships and trusting that you deserve better in your life. This one is especially hard, because for so many- the toxic relationships are those closest to you. It’s parents or siblings that hurt you more than help you, and friends that only take, and never give.

Self-love is looking at the things in your life that make you unhappy and committing to changing that. That can be going to therapy to work through negative self-thoughts or old/current trauma. It can be changing jobs because the idea of your work fills you with dread and despair.

Now, I know I shared a lot of examples here and you don’t need to completely upend your entire life trying to do all of this at once. That said, there are a great many people that have said they found their happiest self after letting go of everything at once and making a great, big leap.

For those of you that aren’t ready to jump off the cliff, and find yourself on the way down, pick even a few of these ideas and commit to them. Write those dreams, and ideals down somewhere, so you see it and hold yourself to a higher standard.

Self-love is, more than anything, knowing your own worth.

It’s knowing that life is meant to be enjoyed and loved. You shouldn’t spend your time being dragged through the mud, or being treated poorly, because you think somehow it will make you stronger, or better. You already are strong. You already are enough. You are precious, and unique, and beautiful.

Let your life reflect those beliefs.

Live your best life by loving yourself.

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 Puwadon Sang-ngern.

When Sparking Joy Is Not Enough: Releasing My “Fantasy Self”

This year has been one of letting a lot of things go. Before this year, I’d struggled with clutter my whole life, even as a Buddhist who practiced cultivating non-attachment diligently. I would walk into a room and marvel at just how much stuff I’d accumulated.

I’m not entirely sure what the tipping point was for me. But after a year and a half of being (more or less) trapped in my house, I have become exhausted by my stuff. What I realized, after being home so much is that I long for the days of travel, when I could move from place to place lightly. Where I had only what I needed and not much more. Where I didn’t have to open my closet or kitchen cabinets and feel the pang of regret or shame of all the things I had spent money on but wasn’t actually using.

When I embarked upon this process, I knew that emotions would come up. There would be family or sentimental items I wouldn’t want to part with—and I gave myself permission to keep anything that felt too difficult. I knew that there would be things I found that would be garbage: broken or expired or otherwise not donate-able. And I gave myself the permission to learn from those mistakes without shame.

What I didn’t anticipate was releasing what (I’ve now learned) the minimalism community calls, “The Fantasy Self.” I didn’t even know I had a fantasy self!

This is an idealized image of ourselves that we hold in our minds—or the perfect image of how we want to appear to others. This might be an emulation of a real or fictional person who’s had a big impression on us. Or this might be an aspirational version of ourselves: perhaps one who has more time, money or energy. The Fantasy Self might point toward what we want more of in life or how we would like to be spending our time in an ideal world.

This is a version of ourselves that we may buy for, but doesn’t really exist. We might buy crafts projects for the Fantasy Self who has loads of time and skill for crafts—that then go undone. We might buy fancy dresses for our social butterfly Fantasy Self when, in reality, we don’t actually go to very many fancy events.

Over the years, I’ve bought beautiful but impractical shoes; magazine-worthy home decor that collected immense amounts of dust; and gourmet items I never got around to actually cooking. Your mileage may vary.

In short, this fantasy self can feel quite connected to our dreams and ambitions for ourselves. Which means that it can feel complicated to let go of that Fantasy Self: it can create feelings of shame or regret. And it means that letting go of those Fantasy Self items that are going unused in our homes—and quite physically standing in the way of our real lives—can feel highly emotional.

When we’re purchasing these things, we’re not purposely being wasteful or unrealistic. We honestly believe that we’re going to become the Fantasy Self who would use these things. We genuinely want the experience of being the kind of person who would use these items.

I personally had to grieve certain parts of myself: in both admitting to myself that these items belonged to my “Fantasy Self” and in letting go of the items themselves. It’s not that these things aren’t beautiful or valuable. To borrow a cliche from the realm of decluttering: they did spark joy!

But what I’ve learned is that, for me, sparking joy is not enough.

My time and space and mental bandwidth is too valuable for things that only spark a fleeting sense of joy, but don’t meaningfully add to my real, actual, imperfect life.

Of course, I felt guilt for the waste—and tried to re-home my items in as low-waste a way as possible. But in decluttering my Fantasy Self, I’ve also developed an immense amount of compassion for myself and my dreams. Those parts of myself that were yearning to break through and breathe. Letting go and developing non-attachment is honestly worthless without that compassion.

In this process of letting go of these items, I thought that I would have to let go of the Fantasy Self who helped me accumulate them in the first place. And, to some extent, that’s true. My Fantasy Self may not have nearly the inventory in my house that she used to. Which is okay.

I’m not living for the imaginary, the fantasy or the future anymore.

I’m more playfully embracing the life I really have and appreciating it for what it is. But what that Fantasy Self represented is still warmly welcome. This is the part of me that loves beauty and has big dreams. This is the part of myself that craves adventure and curates her home and life intentionally. She has a lot to offer. What I’ve learned in this process is that I don’t have to cater to her every whim, but she’s still welcome to sit at the table.

Christy Tending is an activist, educator, and writer. She teaches online courses about sustainable self-care to students all over the world, and hosts the podcast Tending Your Life. She lives on occupied Ohlone territory (Oakland, CA) with her family. You can learn more about her work at

Image courtesy of Elizaveta Dushechkina.

Your Blank Page

Each morning is a blank page on which all of us get the opportunity to write our life story. And as a blank page, there’s an inherent message – you get to choose what you want to write. Also, because none of us exists in a vacuum, pieces and parts of our already and ongoing narrative will need to be incorporated. It’s in these details that our active creative spirit must be engaged, otherwise we’re letting our outer circumstances dictate our personal narrative, a surefire way to misery and a great deal of personal suffering. Oh, I’ve suffered a lot, so far be it for me to throw a rock in this glass house. I’m just a simple messenger, back from the frontlines of life to share with you what I’ve learned.

Taking hold of our daily personal narrative is absolutely an art form because it’s so easy to strangle it by trying to control it.

But our life story is a lot like a wave in the ocean, we have to learn how to work in tandem with the powers of mother nature, or in the case of our narrative, with the universal flow or we tend to get crushed. Fate and destiny play a part in our story as well. Our entelechy, etched into our souls, will endeavor to unfold us in every moment, and to the extend that we partner with this innate and internal force of our becoming, is the extent to which we thrive.

For me, writing has a transformative and often healing nature to it. Having this awareness, which I’ve tested for and on myself over many years, has supported me in being an active participant in the personal narrative of my own life. I write out my visions. I write the details of my dreams. I write my intentions. And I write descriptively, filling each line with the most specific details I can think of, and once that’s done, I know deep in my heart that I am now an active partner with the great forces of the universe.

This is the co-creative element of writing your new narrative, an action, that should you decide to experiment with it, will require your full participation.

But here’s the thing, creating can be so much fun, messy at times for sure, but think of what comes out of creating – babies, art, a new home or business – all are birthed from our creative life force, and actively writing our narrative makes us the co-designers of our lives, partnering with the universe as we create each of our days anew, and over time the chapters and ultimately the book of our lives.

I know not everyone sees their lives as a blank page just waiting for the details, and that’s okay. If you are someone who does, or if you’re someone who’s curious to try this out, take a little time in the quiet hours of your morning or late in the evening, and write out what you see for yourself. You could focus on new work you’d like to do. You could write about a relationship you’re wanting to create. Or maybe you’re wanting to improve your health. What would that look like? Write it out. And don’t leave any detail unturned. Try to think of everything you’d do and experience if you were to be the healthiest you you could be. I have found that when I do this it’s like writing a map for where I’d like to go.

What will you write on your blank page today? The choice is, I believe, yours. Write away, have fun, and see where it takes you. Personally, I can’t wait to see.

Barry Alden Clark is a writer and professional life coach. His work is focused on helping people live their best lives by acting as a guide for them to connect more deeply with their internal life force where creativity, purpose, and true freedom reside, while using humor, compassion, and kindness as hallmarks for the process of personal evolution. Recently Barry published his first book, “Living Life Now: Ingredients for Thriving In The Modern World,” now available on Amazon, and launched his new podcast “Living Life Now,” available on iTunes, Spotify and Google Music. You can reach Barry at

Image courtesy of Cup of Couple.

I Used to Keep This Quiet

There’s a quiet, poignant scene at the beginning of Eat Pray Love, where Liz Gilbert reads a line from a Louise Gluck poem: “From the center of my life, there came a great fountain…”

This is what I think of when I go for daily walks with Baby Girl. Each morning, we set out with the stroller. On our way home, I steer us toward the fountain downtown. The closer we get, the more attentive Baby Girl becomes.

We circle the perimeter, and her eyes go wide. I can only imagine what she’s thinking, what it feels like for her to see all of that leaping, rushing water. It probably seems like a great mystery, a profound wonder, an inexplicable gift.

I can relate because that’s how I feel when I see her face.

She looks at the water, and I look at her.

You see, our Baby Girl was a long time coming. We – I – went through a lot to welcome her into the world. There were times when it seemed impossible. When the odds seemed stacked against it. When the pain was almost too much to bear.

And yet.

I’m not superstitious, but I longed for her so much that I would throw pennies into that downtown fountain. It became a regular ritual, one I kept quiet from the world.

Each time I would close my eyes for just a moment and think: Little one, I wish that someday we will walk by this fountain together.

And then I would go home and handle the latest hurdle in the way of that beautiful dream.

Sometimes I felt like I was crazy to keep wishing and walking past that fountain.

Do you know what that’s like?

To long for something that seems so far out of reach, and to be so bold as to take action on that longing?

If you do, then you know that it isn’t easy. To do as Rilke advises – to “go to the limits of your longing” – that is a tall order.

And also: It is a sacred task.

To long for something that doesn’t exist yet takes faith. It takes courage, to let yourself be vulnerable and admit: Yes, I actually DO want what I want. Some wild, tenacious part of me believes that it’s meant to be mine.

Yes, even in this incredibly challenging time, even in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. Perhaps especially now.

When none of us know what the future holds or how much time we have – how very important it is to be honest with yourself.

To acknowledge that yes, some part of you believes that you really COULD live that dream. (Speak on that stage. Write that book. Start that business. Become that confident version of yourself.)

What I want to recommend to you today is: Listen. Listen to that stubborn, hopeful, relentless part of you.

And then: Take a step in the direction you most long to go. Put feet to your prayers.

That’s what I was doing, back in the day when I threw pennies in the fountain. I wished, yes, and then I took massive action.

I hoped, and then I fought like hell.

I work with women who are brave enough to do that. As a coach, I help them on their journey to become who they’ve always wanted to be.

See, I believe that the part of you that hopes and wishes is actually Future You, calling Present You forward.

Future You wants to exist, so she calls out to Present You in the form of longing.

At the end of Eat Pray Love, Liz writes about this idea:

“The younger me was the acorn full of potential, but it was the older me, the already-existent oak, who was saying the whole time- ‘Yes – grow! Change! Evolve! Come and meet me here, where I already exist in wholeness and maturity! I need you to grow into me!’”

To you and your becoming,


Caroline Garnet McGraw is the author of You Don’t Owe Anyone: Free Yourself from the Weight of Expectations (Broadleaf Books, 2021). Read the first chapter for free and start living your life without apology.

Image courtesy of Matheus Henrin.