A 7-Step Plan for Finding Love After a Devastating Breakup
“Resilience in love means finding strength from within that you can share with others.” ~Sheryl Sandberg
It took me a couple months to start repairing my broken heart after the toughest breakup of my life. I thought we were going to spend our lives together, but the gods of love had other plans.
After I’d grieved in healthy (and not-so-healthy ways) I knew I could take two paths: stay stuck in my misery or pick myself up, dust off my sadness, and make a plan to move on.
And now it’s time for you to move on and find love again, too.
I know it’s not easy. For years I believed my ex was “the one” and the thought of finding someone new after our breakup was terrifying.
But I got back on my horse and kept riding. I felt the fear of rejection, putting myself out there again, playing the “dating game,” trusting someone new, and wasting my time with people I didn’t connect with.
But finding love doesn’t have to be complicated and scary if you follow a plan, just like anything else in life.
You want to start your own business, take a vacation, or get out of debt? Make a plan.
You want to find love? You’ve got to make a plan for that, too.
If you don’t have a plan you’ll continue stumbling around in the dark hoping you’ll miraculously find true love. So if you’re struggling to find love and tired of the same old patterns leading you into the arms of the wrong people, then listen up…
Step 1: Let go of your ex.
Have you really let go of your ex and moved on from your breakup?
If you haven’t let go, you’re not going to find love. Period.
On the first date I went on after my breakup I talked about my ex. A lot. I knew I was breaking the sacred rules of first dates, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t about to hide my true feelings. Because the fact was I was still sad about it. It was clear to me that I wasn’t yet over the breakup.
But I also understood that if I had my ex and my breakup on my mind there was never going to be room for new love to enter.
Do you still have negative feelings around your breakup? Are you holding onto anger, shame, or resentment?
If you want to find a new partner and true love, you’ve got to let that stuff go.
Whether you’re getting over a recent breakup or a breakup that happened months or even years ago, you have to let go.
First, stop avoiding and suppressing your negative feelings. We avoid dealing with our feelings in all sorts of ways: binge-watching television, eating, sex, alcohol, drugs, and telling people, “Everything is fine,” when we’re actually a hot mess.
Instead of avoiding and suppressing, let your feelings flow through you and get comfortable with the discomfort. Don’t chastise yourself for the feelings. Ask yourself, “Where is this coming from?” and, “Why is this coming up NOW?” Getting curious is always healthier than suppression.
Second, get back to doing things you love. Sometimes when we’re in a long-term relationship, we lose ourselves. Go do things that light you up inside and bring you joy. Go take that hip-hop dance class, join a new gym, or write the book you’ve been putting off.
And finally, make sure you have someone who listens to you without judgment and will let you vent when you need to. You think you don’t have someone to talk to? Think harder. You might be surprised of how willing people are to help and listen when you tell them how much you’re hurting. Exploring solutions is always easier when we have someone who listens instead of feeding us useless clichés like, “Time will heal.”
Other solutions to exploring our feelings are support groups in your community, online forums, or starting a journaling practice. Get the stuff out and you’ll be surprised how much easier it becomes to let it go.
Step 2: Believe that you have more than one soul mate.
“But Eric,” you say, “I already found my soul mate and now they’re gone!”
It’s okay. All is not lost.
Because there’s no such thing as having only one soul mate on this planet. If you’ve already found one, good for you! But guess what? There are more out there!
How do I know that for sure? I don’t. But if you want to go on staying stuck in your breakup and feeling sad about losing your soul mate, I can guarantee you won’t find a new person who brings out the light inside of you, who makes you feel special, wanted, and supported.
Believing you have only one soul mate is nothing more than a limiting belief—and limiting beliefs are meant to be overcome.
If you haven’t yet found a soul mate, this is still an important point to understand. If you convince yourself there’s only one soul mate for you out there, you’re going to put too much pressure on every new relationship you enter into. Remember, there are multiple soul mates out there for you. But I promise, if you’re lying on the couch watching Netflix, you’re not going to find them.
Step 3: Don’t date people just because they’re the exact opposite of your ex.
When you go through a devastating breakup you convince yourself that you’ll never date someone like your ex ever again! “That’s it!” you scream, “I’m going for someone totally different than my ex!”
Your ex hated spontaneity and adventure? You’re going after a rock-climbing, world-traveling, adrenaline-seeker.
Your ex had blonde hair? Only brunettes from now on!
Your ex didn’t like reading, cats, Star Wars, trying new restaurants, the opera, camping, people-watching, or road trips? You get the idea.
But the problem with this approach is that it’s a knee-jerk reaction. Instead of thinking about what you really, truly want in a relationship, you jump in blindly. Dating someone just because they’re not like your ex probably won’t end well.
Go to Step 4.
Step 4: Get clear on your values.
Our values are the guiding lights in our lives.
If you’re not clear on what you value, how can you find someone who shares your values? Because if you’re dating people who don’t share the same values as you, it’ll never work.
Think about your past relationships. Remember those times when you first started dating someone and you discovered something that didn’t jive with your values? And remember how you brushed it to the side and said, “It’s probably not that big of a deal. Maybe I’ll change….or maybe they’ll change.”
Fast-forward to your breakup. I’ll bet some of those old clashes in values came up throughout the breakup process, didn’t they?
Get clear on your values and don’t negotiate, undermine, or reduce them. Stay true to them and find a partner who shares your values. If you do this, you’ll be taking a huge step toward finding love again.
Step 5: Say “no” to relationships that are a waste of your time.
It’s hard to say “no.” We don’t like hurting people’s feelings, so we say “yes” to things we shouldn’t. Then we kick ourselves for not having had the guts to say “no.”
When we delay our “nos” we’re wasting our time and the other person’s time. We go on third, fourth, and fifth dates with people who we’re really not interested in, but we just can’t tell them the words, “I’m sorry, I just don’t want to be with you.” Instead, we draw it out into a painful process of indecision, stress, and fear.
How do you say “no” to someone you’re not interested in continuing dating?
You say, “I’m sorry, but I know what I’m looking for in a partner and you’re not that person.”
Get used to it. Because if you’re clear on your values after Step 4, there’s no reason to waste your time with people who don’t align with what you’re looking for.
And really, what’s so bad about saying, “You’re not the partner for me?” Shouldn’t people appreciate honesty?
Yes, they should. But people aren’t like that and they might feel hurt. But that’s their problem, not yours. Ultimately, that honesty is going to help both of you move forward in a more healthy way.
Stay true and honest to yourself and be as compassionate as possible when you say “no.” After that, it’s up to the other person to accept it.
Step 6: Improve yourself.
No matter how many self-help books and articles on Tiny Buddha that you’ve read, we all have blind spots and weaknesses.
After my latest breakup, I realized I needed to work on some things. I reflected on my fear of commitment. I got clear on my core values. I worked on my ability to communicate my feelings around tough subjects like sex, money, and having children.
I read new books, worked with a coach, and traveled by myself. I met new people and shared life experiences with them in a vulnerable way.
It’s really hard to take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “Where have I been going wrong? What can I do to make myself better?” It’s so much easier to point a finger and say, “It’s your fault! Not mine!”
But true growth can only happen when we look inside ourselves. When you grow and become a better version of yourself you’ll develop more confidence—and we all know confident people are a lot more likely to find true love.
Step 7: Work it!
If you’re ready to find someone new, you have to go out and find them.
It drives me a tad crazy when people say, “I want to find love, but if it happens it happens. I’m not going to go out looking for it! I’ll let the universe do its thing.”
Are you kidding me? When is the last time something that made your life better came to you while you were sitting around doing nothing?
If you want to find love, go out there and look for it!
When we put ourselves out there, get out of our comfort zones, and face our fears, amazing things start to happen.
Go to social gatherings with new people. Find common interest groups in your community. Talk to a stranger on the bus or metro. Hell, give online dating a try!
If you want to find love, you have to get out there and meet new people. Sure, each time isn’t going to be a fruitful experience, but that’s what it’s about. When good things start to happen (which they will) you’ll look back and understand all the effort was worth it.
Now, this seventh step isn’t about obsessing over finding love to the point that it’s unhealthy. If you’ve followed the steps above this shouldn’t be a concern because you’re now feeling more confident in your own skin. If you get better at saying “no,” get clear on your values, and improve yourself, then you’re ready to find love.
But if you’re afraid of being alone for the rest of your life and desperate to find a partner no matter how wrong they are for you, you’re not ready for Step 7. Go back and work through Steps 1 to 6 until you’re ready to find love for the right reasons.
Finding love isn’t easy. This plan can take a long time to master.
But when you find that special person you’ll know that all the effort, struggle, rejection, failure, and time-investment was worth it.
True love is a beautiful thing. It shouldn’t be degraded to a pipe dream for the lonely-hearts-club. True love is something that everyone should strive for because life is a lot more fun when we can share it with a person who brings out the light inside of us.
If you haven’t found love yet, please don’t give up. It’s out there. And if you follow the right plan, I know you’re going to find it.
Eric Ibey is a Breakup Coach and member of the International Coach Federation. He's on a mission to help people move on from tough breakups and find more confidence, happiness, and peace faster than they imagined possible. Join his Free 3-Week Breakup Challenge TODAY and start reframing your breakup into an opportunity for self-growth.
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Why We Push Ourselves Too Hard and How to Work Less
“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” ~Unknown
I was sitting on the beach with my wonderful girlfriend, trying to relax on our vacation in Florida, yet I was racked with anxiety.
We were lying under a large umbrella, taking in the beautiful waves and swaying palm trees, attempting to recover from the past months (and years) of overwork and overstress. But all I could think about was a marketing initiative I was working on for a client.
The more I tried to chill, the more nervous I became. My girlfriend lay peacefully, dozing off occasionally, while I was busy fending off a full-blown panic attack.
Did I hurry back from our beach session to get back to work? That would be crazy, right? Well, it was worse. I pulled out my laptop and went to work right there on the beach.
I was so addicted to my computer and so stretched thin with commitments that I couldn’t even enjoy this highly anticipated vacation with the love of my life. In fact, the only thing I can remember when I look back on this trip is my stress. I don’t remember enjoying the beach or ever feeling present.
When I got back from Florida, I didn’t feel refreshed at all. I more desperately needed a vacation after it than I did before it. Not only had my over-commitment to work prevented me from enjoying my time away, it led me to operating at below my best for many months following.
Why did I do this to myself? It was a combination of things. I was insecure and using money to mask it. I was correlating my self-worth with the amount of money I had in the bank. I worked more to distract myself from my own anxieties. But most of all, I was working myself to death because of how the human brain works.
The Psychology of Over-Working
The benefits of working less are counterintuitive, but well documented. There are the obvious benefits—such as having more time for hobbies, friends, family, health, or even working on bigger and better projects—and then there are the less obvious benefits, such as improving creativity and productivity.
Tim Ferriss’ proposition of a “four-hour work week” is attractive to our rational thinking brains, but in practice, it’s surprisingly difficult to work less.
The reason we work more than we need to—sometimes to the extent of actually hurting our productivity, health, or personal relationships—may lie in how humans have evolved.
In their book Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters: From Dating, Shopping, and Praying to Going to War and Becoming a Billionaire – Two Evolutionary Psychologists Explain Why We Do What We Do, Alan S. Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa postulate that our brains are shaped by evolutionary pressures to survive and reproduce. We’ve adapted to recurring problems faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
“Our human nature is the cumulative product of the experience of our ancestors in the past, and it affects how we think, feel, and behave today,” Miller and Kanazawa write. People who showed no anxiety to threats would not have taken the appropriate steps to solve the problems and therefore may not have survived.
In his book Evolutionary Psychology: Neuroscience Perspectives Concerning Human Behavior and Experience, William J. Ray, describes how these evolutionary adaptations can actually hinder us from properly interpreting reality:
“Consciousness is just the tip of the iceberg; most of what goes on in your mind is hidden from you. As a result, your conscious experience can mislead you into thinking that our circuitry is simpler than it really is…our modern skulls house a Stone Age mind.”
In the context of work-life balance, our brains didn’t evolve to determine exactly how much we need to work. Our brains simply want us to survive and reproduce, and working more seems to contribute to those end goals. Our brain’s anxiety about survival and reproduction motivates us to work more, even though it’s not usually in our best interest over the long-term.
Similarly, our brains crave sugar because in the past, calories were scarce and we needed to eat as much as possible to account for extended periods without food.
Sugar has a high calorie density, so it was very economical for our ancestors. As a result, many people today have a tendency to overeat unhealthy foods, even though we don’t face a problem of the scarcity of food like we did before the agricultural revolution. Unfortunately, sugar contributes to a number of health problems over the long-term, but our brains don’t understand that.
Our brains think working excessively to gather resources contributes to survival and reproduction. But it doesn’t know how to moderate. More work doesn’t always lead to more money, let alone a more fulfilling life. At its worst, excessive work can lead to burnout, depression, panic attacks, and a lack of meaningful relationships.
Here are four signs you may be working to the point of your own demise:
- Working far beyond what is needed despite the risk of negative consequences
- After reaching a goal, you immediately set another more ambitious one
- Refusing to delegate work, despite the opportunity cost of doing the work yourself
- Creating more work that doesn’t add value in order to avoid feelings of guilt, anxiety, insecurity, or depression
To be clear, there are benefits to working hard. Working more can help you get more done, and, assuming you are doing the right work, that can help you make more money. And there are times when anxiety is rational and you legitimately need to work more in order to survive. But more often than not, working too much can do more harm than good.
The counterintuitive reality is that working more does not always mean working productively if it means you’re going to burn out.
Simple But Hard Choices
We have a choice about how to deal with working too much. Like so many other challenges, there is the simple but hard solution, and a complex but easy solution.
For your health, the simple but hard solution is to eat more healthy food and less unhealthy food. This solution requires discipline, but it doesn’t cost money, and it’s proven to work. The complex but easy solution is to pay for the latest diet products.
The simple but hard solution to workaholism is to work less. This means saying “no” to unnecessary projects and responsibilities. However, I call this the hard solution for a reason. First, it would be a bruise to your ego to admit you can’t handle something. Second, it requires introspection and change in order to address underlying anxieties or insecurities that may be the impetus for pathological working habits.
Fear or frustration with executing on the simple solution incentivizes us to change course. So we add complexity.
These complex but easy solutions include productivity apps, time management processes, or even prescription drugs. They can help us eek out a couple more units of productivity on a given day, but they often have negative side effects over the long term, and more notably, they enable us to avoid blaming ourselves or putting in the hard work of conquering our anxieties and insecurities.
These solutions are like playing whack-a-mole—they only solve the surface level symptoms. James Altucher provided an apt analogy in writing about the power of saying “no” to bad opportunities:
“When you have a tiny tiny piece of sh*t in the soup it doesn’t matter how much more water you pour in and how many more spices you put on top. There’s sh*t in the soup.”
Often times, continuing to work excessively, even while using the latest and greatest productivity apps, only leads to burnout, which results in an extended period of low productivity, or, worse, an unfulfilling life, void of meaningful relationships or even physical and mental health problems.
How to Work Less, Survive, and Prosper
Your brain doesn’t know or care that working less won’t prevent you from surviving or reproducing in modern times.
It doesn’t know how much money you have in your bank account or how many hours you need to work in order to retire in thirty years.
It definitely doesn’t care about helping you achieve higher ambitions like finding love or having fun on weekends.
You feel anxious about working less because your brain only cares about surviving and reproducing.
But we’re not slaves to our lizard brains. The idea that working less can help you accomplish more requires some critical thinking. However, with awareness of how our brains work, we can make decisions that are healthier and more productive.
So, how you can you counteract your brain’s adaptive impulses? I’ll share two strategies that have worked for me.
First, know your priorities. Every time you say “yes” to more work you’re saying “no” to the other aspects of your life that you value. By taking inventory of your list of priorities, and where work lies on that list, you can make decisions that will help you live a more fulfilling life.
Second, address the underlying issues. Oftentimes we work to avoid thinking about our insecurities or shortcomings. Or, we think we need to have more money in order to be loved. I’ve been guilty of both of these.
Once I gained awareness of these issues, it was easier to make healthier decisions about my work. I worked to conquer my anxiety instead of making it worse by burying it in work, and I’ve dispelled the myth that I’m not worthy of love unless I have massive amounts of wealth.
Since doing this work, I’ve said no to many great opportunities in order to keep my life in balance. It’s difficult at the time, but I’m healthier and happier for it.
It may sound idealistic to work less, but if it can help your health, productivity, and life isn’t it worth a shot? If it doesn’t work for you, keep in mind that there will always be more work to do!
Mike Fishbein is a personal development writer living in New York City. His work has been published on Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Observer and The Next Web. You can read his best articles at mfishbein.com.
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When Everything Falls Apart: How to Start Moving Forward
“I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you are not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.” ~F. Scott Fitzgerald
Not too long ago, I had the worst week of my life.
Let me give you some background. Just over a year ago, I was diagnosed with a meningioma—a benign brain tumor. “It’s small,” I was told. “It won’t cause you any issues, at least not for several years.”
Fast forward to May 18, 2017. “It has grown. We need to start considering surgery or radiation.”
Whoa. Major brain surgery or radiation to my brain? What a fun way to spend my summer.
Then, on May 19, 2017, I walked in to work. I was ushered into a meeting. “Your position is being eliminated,” I was told. Hey, life! Way to kick me when I’m down!
I spent much of that morning crying. I reached out to family and friends, updating them on my news, all while eating cookies from my favorite coffee shop and gulping down a McDonald’s large Diet Coke.
In fact, I spent much of the next two weeks in the same manner.
Now I am sitting here, on my laptop, contemplating the significance of all of this, happening at once.
If I’m going to be honest, I have been in a downward slump for the past year. My migraines have gotten out of control. I have gained about twenty pounds because I can’t control my stress eating. My anxiety? Whoa—it requires a couple of medications to control it, and I still see a therapist weekly (who is awesome, I should add).
Suffice it to say, on May 19th, that morning, that moment, I hit rock bottom.
I am going to go out on a limb and say that we’ve all hit the proverbial rock bottom before. In fact, I would bet that some of you, dear readers, are sitting there right now, trying to figure out how to claw your way out.
Up until the end of June, I was there too. I was sitting there, at the bottom of a hole.
I realized I could sit there, cry, continue eating cookies, letting the weight pile on, and be unhappy. I could let my physician’s pile on more medications for my anxiety and my migraines. Or, I could envision everything I am going through as the beginning of something much bigger.
Something bigger. Freelance writing is my secondary income. I am in the midst of yoga teacher training. I am a certified diabetes educator and an RN. I have all of these skills; the question is, what should I do with them?
I have had the same best friend since we were twelve—well over half of our lives. When I texted her that I lost my job, she called me within the hour. “It’s hard to see it now,” she said, “but this just means that job wasn’t right for you. Something bigger is meant for you.”
When I think about the last year of my life, I think about how much I loved my job. But I also think about how poor my health has been because of my own actions. I think about how my anxiety has affected my family.
Although it is hard to see it right now, I am in a unique position. I get to start all over again. I get to figure out what I really want to do. What else do I know? This life I’ve lived for the past year. It isn’t working for me. I have been miserable. Health crises and job loss are traumatic, but for me, they may have been the figurative kick in the ass to see that I am on a precipice—all I have to do is jump.
So, dear readers, if you are also at the proverbial rock bottom, here’s my best advice at crawling your way out, coming from someone who was literally right there.
Step 1: Finish wallowing, then take an assessment.
You read that right—I just told you to finish wallowing!
Why? Because if you’re not done grieving whatever situation kicked you into your hole—whether it be a major breakup, a health crisis, a job loss, or a death of a loved one—you’re not really ready to pull yourself out.
All of these big life issues? They’re huge. They’re astronomical. They’re so large that they put your life into a tailspin. You need to properly grieve the loss of your past life before you can move forward.
I am not an expert at grieving. If you need help, please seek it. And don’t be ashamed to seek help. Remember how I mentioned that I see a therapist weekly? I am unashamed.
Once you’re done grieving, take a long, hard look at your life. What caused you to sink into your hole? Where were you before you hit rock bottom? Most importantly, where do you want to go from here?
I want to add that this phase is hard. I mentioned that you need to finish wallowing. This means stay there as long as you need to, because you need to get over it before you can move on. However, have you ever heard the saying, “It’s okay to have a meltdown, but don’t unpack your bags and stay there”? This is step 1—don’t get stuck in regret and forget to move forward.
Step 2: Start planning.
My life changed dramatically one month ago. I by no means have my plans figured out yet. I have a vague idea of where I want to go from here, but it is still in the air, so to speak. And that’s okay.
The important thing is that, after you’ve begun to desperately claw yourself out of the pit, you begin to make a plan.
For example, as both a writer and an RN, I am making plans to use both of my talents. I know, after ten years of nursing and working for a hospital that ultimately let me go, I don’t want to work in that capacity anymore.
I am not entirely sure what this means, but I do know that I still want to use my credentials as a diabetes educator. I want to somehow work as an RN. I also want to be a writer. That’s all I know so far.
My main focus, of course, is being healthy. With my surgery coming up quickly, I am focusing my energy on my health and subsequently my recovery. Once I have recovered from my meningioma removal surgery, I will start all over again.
It is important to note when you are planning, your goals don’t have to be huge. My goals are huge because what I am going through is pretty big. Even if your goals are huge, the steps that you take can be small—the important thing is that you are making a plan.
And another thing! Write that plan down. Tape it to your bathroom mirror, your kitchen cabinet, or the steering wheel of your car—somewhere that you’ll see it and read it over, and over, and over.
Step 3: Put your plan into action.
Planning is great. But a plan is only great if you actually do something with it.
The day I hit rock bottom, I actually started writing this article, thinking it would be published immediately. “It’s so great!” I thought.
Yes, but I hadn’t actually dragged myself out of the hole yet. I had basically written my narrative, but there was not a lot else about how I planned to dig my way out, so needless to say, it was turned down nicely.
Because I had no clue.
I spent the next couple weeks grieving. Then, I realized, I was done with grieving. I will always be just a little bit sad about losing my job, because I genuinely loved it. But I can’t grieve forever. And my brain tumor? Well, I just got back from Mayo Clinic and will have it removed in several weeks, and with any luck, it will never grow back.
Am I scared? Sure. I’m scared to lose another job. I’m scared of brain surgery. I’m scared that the tumor will grow back.
But I am also grateful. I am a creative person by nature—I can barely draw a stick figure, but I love to write; had I not lost my job, perhaps I would never have been given this opportunity to use this creative skill.
I am grateful that my tumor is benign. It is easily operable. I will have an easy recovery. I have an amazing support system in my husband, my friends, and my family.
After I realized these things, I started putting my plan into action. I started writing more—for my clients, for myself. I have slowly begun to apply for nursing and diabetes educator jobs that interest me, although I will be unable to start until after surgery. I am working to complete my 200-hour yoga teacher training.
Whatever thing you’re going through, that caused you to hit rock bottom? It sucks. I know it does. No one hits rock bottom without a reason. But don’t stay there. I know it’s going to take us a while, but I also know it’s better out of the hole. We’ll get there, I promise.
Krysti Ostermeyer blogs at https://krystiwithak.wordpress.com/, where she writes about migraines and her son’s food allergies. She is a nurse, a diabetes educator and a yoga enthusiast.
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Kindness Isn’t Weakness (and We Need It to Survive)
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ~Leo Buscaglia
Many of us are brought up today to look after number one, to go out and get what we want—and the more of it we can have, the better.
Our society preaches survival of the fittest and often encourages us to succeed at the expense of others.
I was no different, and while I noticed a tendency to feel sorry for others and want to help, I was too busy lining my own pockets and chasing my own success to act on these impulses. I worried that kindness was me being soft and, therefore, a weakness that may hamper my progress, especially at work as I moved up the ranks.
It was only when I quit my corporate career, after years of unhappiness, to realign my values and rebuild a life around my passions that I learned the true value of kindness and how it has impacted my life since.
I volunteered overseas with those less fortunate. I lived in yoga ashrams and spent time with Buddhist nuns and monks across many different countries. I learned how compassion and kindness can be a source of strength, and since then I’ve applied this wisdom, with success, repeatedly into my own life.
Our natural response to seeing someone in distress is to want to help. We care about the suffering of others and we feel good when that suffering is released. This applies if we do it ourselves, see it in a movie, or witness it in real life. It makes us feel good. Feeling like we’re making a difference in the world and helping those who need it brings us joy; it gives us meaning.
My grandma was the most giving person I ever knew.
When her weekly pension arrived she delighted in giving the grandchildren money, even though it meant having little to spend on herself.
Family members would get upset that they bought her lovely gifts, which she then re-gifted to others, often less fortunate. Over the years I began to understand that it if she gifted it to someone else, it meant that she liked it and thought it was worthy of sharing.
Knowing the pleasure she got from giving to others and that she wasn’t in the position to buy things herself, I saw it as her getting the gift twice: the pleasure of receiving it but then also the pleasure she got from being able to give it to someone else. The recipients were always grateful and touched by her kindness too.
Buddhists say, “All the happiness there is in the world comes from us wishing others to be happy.” When we do good deeds for others it makes us feel good.
James Baraz quotes statistics on why giving is good for you in his book Awakening Joy. “According to the measures of Social Capital Community Benchmark survey, those who gave contributions of time or money were 42 percent more likely to be happy than those who didn’t.”
Psychologists even have a term for the state of euphoria reported by those who give. It’s called “helpers high,” and it’s based on the theory that neuroscience is now backing up: Giving produces endorphins in the brain that make us feel good. This activates the same part of the brain as receiving rewards or experiencing pleasure does.
Practicing kindness also helps train the mind to be more positive and see more good in the world. There’s plenty of it out there; it just doesn’t seem like it because, while the kind acts outnumber the bad, they don’t make as many headlines.
When I think back to how life was before, I realize that I wasn’t even being kind to myself, so it makes sense that I didn’t value kindness for others. I’ve learned it’s about self-respect first, and from there it’s much easier to respect others. Kindness as a skill taps into our true strength. We can respect ourselves when we are being kind to others and to our planet.
Friends would warn me I was too soft and that people would walk all over me. Whether I was buying a coffee for a homeless man (he should get a job and buy his own coffee) or letting someone else go in the queue before me (you were here first, don’t let them push in).
Sometimes I think this comes from fear, or a sense of entitlement and protection of one’s self. I guess that’s the ego at play.
Most of us are kind. I believe it’s part of our innate nature. It just gets a bit lost sometimes or drowned out by all the noise of a more selfish sense of being—particularly in our consumer-driven society where we’re taught we must have things for ourselves, and the more we can get, the better. Where money is such a force and where we put up fences rather than inviting people to share in what we have.
In business as a senior manager, I used to think that any signs of kindness would be viewed as weak. I used to dumb down skills like empathy and try to act like the tough business leader I thought the world expected me to be. In more recent years I’ve noticed that having time to be kind builds trust and relationships and garners the sort of respect that leads to strength in a leader.
Don’t get me wrong, it is not about being lenient, giving in, and not holding people accountable. It’s about being reasonable, fair, open, and trustworthy; supporting others, empathizing with them, recognizing them when they’ve done well, and showing you care. Not by overpaying them or extending their deadlines, but by asking how their weekend was, getting to know what motivates them, how they feel and who they are.
It’s too easy to justify desire, self-indulgence, and miserliness with the survival of the fittest mentality. We tell ourselves this is based on Darwinian evolution and competition to survive. What we have overlooked is that a fundamental part of our survival is cooperation, working together, looking after each other.
Humans did not evolve to be big and strong or with big fangs. We survived because we helped each other. Look how ancient tribes lived. They didn’t see competition as a priority but thrived on cooperation. It is the essential nature of living things to cooperate, not dominate. Yes, there’s competition in nature, but the basis is cooperation. In The Descent of Man Darwin did mention survival of the fittest (twice), but he also mentioned love (over ninety times).
I’m not suggesting we all need to donate our savings to charity or move overseas to rebuild huts in poor villages. There are many small gestures and so many opportunities every day: getting coffee for a coworker who’s struggling, helping a mother with her shopping, holding the door open for someone, smiling at a stranger, or asking the store assistant how their day is going.
It makes people feel good when they are on the receiving end, but also it makes us feel good because we are being kind and connecting with others on a genuine level. Kindness increases our sense of fulfillment and joy, it helps us build resilience, and it’s also a source of strength, as well as a skill that aids our success.
After a successful career in the corporate HR world Jess decided to follow her passion in Health and Wellness as a coach, speaker, and author. A qualified yoga instructor who has trained in Buddhist meditation and mindfulness, living and working in many countries Jess draws her life experience into her work to share the principles of health and happiness.
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The post Kindness Isn’t Weakness (and We Need It to Survive) appeared first on Tiny Buddha.
7 Misconceptions That Keep You from Achieving Peace of Mind
“There is no greater wealth in this world than peace of mind.” ~Unknown
Achieving (and keeping) peace of mind is high on my priority list, yet my choices didn’t always reflect this, particularly when it pertained to my work.
Over time, I realized that I needed to change to live a more peaceful life.
If you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and frustrated, it may be time to bust a few misapprehensions. Here are a few of the main ones that compromised my peace of mind.
1. Money will make me happy.
I formerly considered money and material possessions to be the ultimate sources of happiness, and my life’s aim was to earn and acquire as much as I possibly could. Because of this, my professional commitments were constantly eating into my personal time with my loved ones, and vice versa.
There I was, trying to give my best at work while simultaneously catering to the needs of my family to the greatest extent possible. I was trying to excel at everything, but I wasn’t doing justice to either of my roles. And I wasn’t enjoying any aspect of my life.
There came a point when I realized my schedule was depleting me, and I could not serve from an empty vessel. Now, I’ve come to understand that money can buy you fancy things but not happiness.
There can be no happiness without peace of mind, and materialistic things can’t provide that. Indulging in a certain degree of hedonistic pleasure will do you good, but happiness comes from feeling at peace with who you are and how you spend your time.
Also, spending wisely can make a huge difference to your peace of mind. Today, investing in meaningful and memorable social interactions such as family vacations, sporting events with friends, and concerts with near and dear ones brings me more satisfaction than spending money on a pair of designer shoes ever did.
2. There’s no room for mistakes.
It’s hard to feel peaceful if you punish yourself for making mistakes. You may even end up avoiding risks and new experiences to escape the pain of your own self-judgment. Remember, trying new things not only opens up avenues for you, but also brings a sense of fulfillment in life.
The key is to perceive mistakes as lessons rather than failures. I could easily get down on myself for, consciously or unconsciously, choosing material gains over all-round prosperity. But, choosing to learn from experience worked wonders in speeding up my healing process.
Now, instead of focusing on my errors, I pay attention to the feedback received and the experience gained.
Instead of feeling bad for focusing too much on money and things, I focus on learning from my past, letting it go, and making my present better.
At the time, my near and dear ones told me that they missed my presence and attention. They also mentioned how they worried about me neglecting my needs while trying to double my earning capacity.
So, these things had to change for sure, and over time, I did find balance through conscious efforts. I feel so much more in control of my destiny now, which brings me inner peace. I didn’t think bouncing back from supposed failures would feel this empowering, but it does.
Think about it; if you learn from mistakes, you end up a much wiser and happier person, so really, mistakes are valuable.
3. Shunning negative emotions brings peace of mind.
When my mind was troubled, I often experienced bouts of anger, frustration, anxiety, and other negative emotions. And I tried hard to fight them.
There were times when I masked them under the guise of a fake smile, indulged in a lot of retail therapy, and even overate to make myself feel better. I wanted to get rid of my demons by any means possible.
After all, that’s what you’re expected to do, right—keep your real feelings to yourself and plaster a smile on your face to appear happy and successful? However, as Carl Jung said, “What you resist persists.”
Emotions don’t go away when we hide them. If anything, they control us even more; we just don’t realize it. Also, emotions are what make us human. Not feeling them means we’ve become robots.
Avoiding negative emotions can give you the feeling of being trapped in a prison, because when you can’t accept them, you can’t deal with them. You deny yourself the opportunity to resolve those feelings permanently and feel free.
I’ve found healthy ways to come to terms with my emotions with the help of mindfulness, meditation, and even by writing them down. Peace doesn’t come from suppressing your feelings; it comes from working through them.
4. Getting ahead in life is all that matters.
In our quest to stay ahead in the rat race, we forget that no amount of getting ahead will ever feel like enough. And more importantly, by pushing to get ahead in one part of our life, we “fall behind” in others.
When I was focusing on money and material pleasures, I missed family milestones and cancelled on friends’ get-togethers just so I could work more. This, in turn, made me stay late at office, even though I was well aware that my family awaited my return so we could spend some valuable time together.
I thought I’d make up for lost time later on. Little did I know that ignoring my needs would affect my relationships, physical health, and mental state. I’m glad I realized my true priorities sooner rather than later and that I made a conscious effort to create balance.
We often undermine the importance of balance. We cannot expect to find peace if we’re constantly chasing our dreams and neglecting ourselves and our relationships. A lot of people are under the impression that only achievement will bring them happiness and peace. However, this is far from the truth.
Sure, secure finances are crucial to our peace of mind, but we need to draw a line between what we need and what we want and focus more on the former. Only then will we know real peace.
5. I need to hold on to my past and think about the future.
No, you really don’t! We can experience peace of mind only in the here and in the now. I live in the present and this is where I find my peace. This is where the answers to all my pressing questions are.
If I keep going back to the choices I made in the past, I will never be able to move on. I believe that I made the kind of progress that I did because I chose to let go of my former decisions and lifestyle, and I stopped thinking about the money I was going to have in the future. I consciously became more concerned with what I was achieving in my present.
Holding on to your past will only allow it to control your present. Everyone has experienced a mix of happy and hard moments. While reminiscing about the good times once in a while is fine, you need to let go of memories and moments that hold you back or instill fear in you.
Thinking about the future, on the other hand, will lead you to daydream and imagine potential outcomes, which may be far worse than the reality. So pondering too much over what’s to come won’t help much either.
Life always happens in the present, and it’s only by truly experiencing it that we can find peace of mind.
6. To express my feelings is to be weak.
Being in the situation that I was in (and knowing that I’d brought it upon myself), I wanted to talk about how I was feeling and seek help for dealing with it. And it’s not like I didn’t have an audience. I knew I could always speak to my family and friends, and they’d offer me an ear and a kind shoulder to cry on. However, I was too afraid of being perceived as weak or vulnerable, which reinforced my silence. After all, I was supposed to be the pillar of strength to them, and not the other way around.
A lot of us feel uncomfortable expressing ourselves. This is especially true of people like me, who grew up in a family that didn’t encourage open expression of emotions.
I had a hard time opening up to my family about the hardships I was facing, but when I did, I experienced a catharsis of sorts. It was liberating to not have to carry the anxiety and frustration alone. You can experience this too.
We need to realize that expressing our emotions in a healthy manner is a sign of strength rather than weakness. It takes a brave person to be honest about his or her feelings. More often than not, the bravado is rewarded with peace of mind.
7. I need to be or feel a certain way.
There was a time when I thought I needed to be visibly successful to gain approval from those around me, but all that did was make me unhappy. I was always too preoccupied with trying to receive approval from those around me
The truth is, you really don’t need to be anyone other than yourself or do anything you don’t want to do. We all have this image of our “ideal” selves and we try to live up to that as best as possible. But, this can sometimes mean setting ourselves up to be someone we’re not. How can that bring peace?
Accepting ourselves, on the other hand, can be immeasurably liberating. When we accept ourselves and our values and build our lives around what’s actually important to us, peace inevitably follows.
Achieving peace of mind is a gradual and a continuous process, and it’s not just about knowing what to do, but also understanding what not to do. Start with busting these misconceptions and you’ll be well on your way to peace, happiness, and contentment.
Brian Zeng is the owner of Ponbee.com. He is an entrepreneur by spirit. Through Ponbee, Brian would like to share his insights on an array of topics related to business, e-commerce, digital marketing, and entrepreneurship. His recent collection of motivation quotes will surely help you to see failure and success in a different perspective.
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The post 7 Misconceptions That Keep You from Achieving Peace of Mind appeared first on Tiny Buddha.
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