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Mind, Body & Spirit: Self Help

Two main choices in life:
Which one have you subconsciously chosen for yourself?


I was born into extreme poverty in Jamaica. My father died when I was young leaving my mother (who didn't work, with jobs for women being scarce) and two young children to look after. Many days we didn't even have basic food to eat. But as I grew up in my teens I noticed something that I did every day. I thanked God for my mother and for my life, and then I had only positive thoughts of living somewhere else with everything I needed, being a very successful person. In time, I propelled myself out of that situation through education and ambition and arrived in England. Not being very knowledgeable then, I did not know that I was already sowing the seeds of my own future with my daily ritual of gratitude, belief, action and expectation.

As you wake up this morning from your slumber and you think about your day, what kind of thoughts actually go through your mind about what the day could bring you? How do you see the day unfolding and what would you hope to achieve by the time you return to bed again this evening? Will your day be a masterpiece of activity, positivity, belief and optimism, or will it be just another day where everything seems routine, where you are weighed down by the bills and the problems of your world? The fascinating answer is that, regardless of your circumstances, the result of your day is entirely up to you, no one else. Let's look at this premise in greater detail.

All human beings have two main choices: We can simply exist or we can actually live every single day as if it were our last and live it to capacity.

When we choose to live at the lowest level of life we simply exist with each new day in our conscious state while ignoring our subconscious. We tend not to give thanks for what we already have; we take the people in our lives for granted too; we focus primarily on managing what we have, especially the bills and perennial problems, while we struggle to keep up with it all in an atmosphere of fear, dread and insecurity. Our focus tends to be on status and material things, both acquiring and upkeeping, while we seldom find time to be with our family, to love them fully, to relax and enjoy ourselves, or do something for someone else.

The basic life functions of eating, drinking sleeping and managing the bills and work become the relentless order of our lives. We are likely to have a limited view of life, with a scarcity mindset; we tend to believe that we are controlled purely by heredity and/or environment with no responsibility to change anything; we see things in black or white, good vs evil terms, and believe that luck plays a big part in human success. The overall effect is that, guided by a limiting mindset and outlook that prevent our development, the days simply merge into one another. We keep doing the same things we hate, and complain about them too, which only yield the same results, day after day, month after month and year after year!

On the other hand, if we choose to live in a vibrant and exciting way we consciously decide what we will do with our day, no matter what is happening around us. We accept that we don't have all the answers to life and trust our intuition and subconscious to guide us. We start with the sheer joy of being alive; with thanks and gratitude that we have been granted another day, as well as having great people to support us on our journey. We make a list of at least six things we will do for that day (which will include pleasurable as well as important activities) which will include both the present and the future. We also make time to connect with at least one person, even to say hello, and make a difference to their day. In short, we keep optimism high, we trust our instincts, we keep connected to those who matter and keep doing what we like best, as we gradually soar to new and higher levels of awareness, activities and achievement. In this way, we transcend our environment and create a world of our very own where our vision, belief and action allow a lot of great things to happen, many we would least expect.

In case you haven't noticed, the Universe we live in operates in perfect order, every day and every season. When we live in an ambiguous controlling way which keeps us in limbo and are being dragged by circumstances, life seems hard, fearful and an uphill struggle. When we let go, give thanks, have a vision of what we desire and quietly work towards it, while making the most of the present, life can be truly magical because we also develop a natural order to our lives which align with that of our surroundings. We are bound to feel less stress, more joyful, more contented and far more at peace with our world.

Which way of living have you chosen this morning? Your choice will allow you to live in a vibrant fulfilling manner or simply to exist. But the choice is entirely yours.

What is Love, and how do you know when you're 'in love'?


Q. Being only 15 years old, I just wanted to know, what is love? If I asked myself if I was in love with someone, I would have to know what love is in order to answer that question, and truthfully, I have no idea what it is.

A. On the most basic level, Love is simply the care, value and appreciation for another. That person becomes precious to us for whatever reason we feel. Thus Love appears on many levels, but the one you are obviously asking about is emotional/sexual love.

It is difficult to answer any question about romantic love, or even define it, because people have their own individual reactions to it. However, falling in love appears to be triggered by four major factors: attraction (physical, emotional and intellectual), a feeling of comfort (which encourages security, trust and happiness), a feeling of value (that the person respects and cares for you; that you really matter to them) and a feeling of excitement (that triggers the sexual and affection part of a relationship).

It follows that if any of those aspects are missing there really isn't any 'love' per se, it would mainly be just a crush or infatuation - a phase that would soon pass. For example, if you meet someone and there is no feeling of value (perhaps because he/she is mean in appreciating you, or they even abuse you) there is no love there at all. Or if you do not feel completely comfortable and happy in their presence, that's not love either. If you cannot communicate together, or feel any emotional bond, it is really difficult to love in those situations. Furthermore, if you really don't feel any excitement when you think of that person or share their company, it's likely that you would be just platonic friends, not lovers, because the sexual attraction would be missing.

Sexual Love is experienced mainly by adults because, while a youngster is developing, there is a lot to learn, so many things wouldn't really make sense until one has experienced or learnt about them. Someone also has to love her/himself first before she can love another. That takes maturity and understanding which a younger person usually doesn't have. That is why relationships among teenagers rarely last.

Love is always dictated by feelings and emotions. In a nutshell, when we truly love, we really value the presence of that person and they become very significant to our lives.

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The True Power of Desires Over Our Lives


Desires are essential to our development, our ability to create, to innovate and to grow. They are the key to our existence. We have no other choice but to want thing: achievements, relationships, to be creative. People go after unlimited desires simply because it is inherent within them to do so.

We are programmed to chase unlimited desires because the achievement of every one of them demonstrates our potential, our capacity to make things happen, to build our world and also reinforces our self-belief. Remarkably, at the same time, we are evolving through the fulfilment of those desires, developing in awesome, new ways we never thought possible. As we evolve, the results of our actions ensures that we desire new things in order to mature and progress on our individual journey.

If we did not chase desires, or we just chased a few and stopped, we would not reach this technological stage of evolution that we now enjoy. We would have reached a plateau where nothing much would happen. We would stagnate as we lose sight of our purpose and potential. But the mere fact that we are never satisfied with life, that every fulfilment leads to even greater yearning is a clever ploy by God, Nature, the Universe, a Higher Intelligence or whatever, to ensure we continue to grow until the day we die; that we never rest on our laurels because we are always moving our own goalposts to new heights of excellence. Desires ensure we have no time to sit and stare, that we are always striving to develop our world and ourselves. Without desires, and the curiosity and yearning to achieve them, we would still be back in the dark ages as primitive beings.

Desires make or break us. We cannot live without them because they shape us into whomever we wish to be and ultimately become. We gradually materialise into our dreams that are formed from desires. In turn, desires keep us on track, every step of the way, through the simple process of chasing their fulfilment.

The Main Reasons Why We Have to Make Decisions


Imagine sitting in the middle of a road and there is an oncoming car heading rapidly towards you. You have a choice of only two actions. To get out of its way and live to fight another day, or to sit where you are and be run over, which means either being badly injured, or, much worse, being killed. In that split second, you have to make a decision. If you are trying to commit suicide, your decision will be to keep sitting and hope to be killed. However, if you did not expect a car to be in your path, you will be getting out of its way pretty fast.

That was a simple illustration of why we have to make decisions: to dictate the way we wish to live by making either pleasant or unpleasant choices. Our life consists of making decisions, one way or another, they are imperative. But many people deliberately prevent themselves making decisions because they cannot bear the consequences. Yet decisions are necessary for six important reasons:

1. To get results and outcomes. Without those results, we would have no idea whether we are going in the right direction to fulfil our needs and desires; we would not know whether our aims and objectives are being fulfilled; we would be in limbo over our future and potential and we would not be motivated to carry on with our daily life because we would lack the reinforcement to do so. Decisions confirm our beliefs, reinforce our abilities and empower us to the next level or stage of our development. They are like review breaks in our existence. By making decisions, we can use their outcomes to assess who we really are and where we are going.

2. To commit to a course of action. Once we make a decision, we have committed ourself to a particular action. Not making a decision keeps us guessing and going nowhere, and keeps us from making that particular commitment to a person or thing. Making a decision ensures that commitment and forces the decision-maker to take one side or the other. One cannot then stall or be middle-of-the-road because a clear course of action would have been taken.

3. To affect future progress. The outcome of any decision, i:e the result we get, establishes our position in that situation very firmly. If one was hesitating about taking a job, or buying a house, the minute the decision is taken to do it or leave well alone, the result will reveal the progress being made at that point and will also dictate what happens next. Perhaps not buyng the house will save money for something else, which makes one better off, while not getting the job could be a social and financial setback for a long period of time. Either way, making a decision will force the issue which then affects the future.

4. To exercise authority and power. Many decision-makers, and parents, take decisions regarding others mainly to exercise control and power in their position. Parents discipline or motivate their children through the routine decisions they make. A decision which has a negative effect on a child's behaviour is designed to keep that child toeing the line, while decisions by managers that are designed to boost productivity in the office will have more positive effects.

5. To boost personal confidence and self-esteem. The more decisions we feel able to take the more empowered we are likely to feel and the more confidence we have in affecting what happens in our lives. Decisions give results and outcomes. The more results we have that reinforce our identity, actions and positive emotion, the more we will advance in life with a greater capacity to affect the way we live that life in ways of our own choosing.

6. Last, and by no means least: To prevent others making them for us. Should we resist making any crucial decision, as night follows day, someone else will take charge and oblige! Nature dislikes a vacuum and if we fail to make decisions for ourselves, especially when the outcomes are necessary to progress our lives, we immediately abdicate our responsibility to others who will not fail to do the job for us, whether we like it or not!

How is your emotional health today?
If it is not too good, could it be because of your emotional type?


Some people seem to sail through life with successful relationships while others appear to have constant battles with themselves. That could be down to one main factor: the emotional type we are. The way we feel, and are able to cope with life situations, controls our emotional health. There are three main emotional types of people.

Predictors (Main Trait: FEAR and CONTROL)

First, there are the predictors (whose confidence is often marred by self doubt) who live their lives in perspectives, seeing things well into the distance that aren't really there. Being controllers who are ruled by fear, they spend time mainly looking ahead and imagining the worst, instead of letting go and waiting to see what happens. Predictors focus on their destination, not their journey. In fact, they tend to fear that journey because they do not have much control over it.

They often look at their life's road, see a little bend up ahead and immediately believe that the bend is a sharp one that will poke them in the eye or give them lots of trouble. They begin to imagine its impact and plan for it in all sorts of ways to compensate for its assumed shock or effects. They constantly fret, worry and fear their lives, using control - of others and their situations - to overcome those fears.

Dreading new experiences, and new gadgets which disturb their ordered pattern of life, they are prone to be loners with extremes of behaviour which they use to cope with their fears and discomforts. Predictors are often difficult to convince because of their inability to live in the moment; to simply let their hair down, to trust their instincts, themselves and others or to chill out and accept life as it is!

Predictors tend to seek perfection in love from the very beginning and, if everything they desire isn't perceived to be there, they are reluctant to engage themselves in it. Of course, life is never perfect and so that approach leads to a lot of frustration and disappointment when things do not quite happen as expected. They tend to be givers but their love is usually conditional upon the partner acting in ways they find comfortable and acceptable. In effect, partners are not encouraged to be themselves but to conform to a preconceived ideal!

Realists (Main Trait: CONFIDENCE and OPTIMISM)

The next ones are the realists who live in the moment and prefer to take things as they are. They value the present, looking neither backwards or too far forwards. They are usually very confident, optimistic people who have few fears because of their instinctive belief in themselves and abilities. They like and welcome new experiences, new innovations and new ways of seeing things. Often thrill seekers and the adventurous types, they tend to be keen on simply living - making the most of their life on a daily basis, and see the pursuit of happiness and contentment as a direct goal.

For them making the journey is the real buzz, not just reaching the goal. They are not afraid to try anything they believe will give them joy and simply take the rough with the smooth. Outgoing and more flexible in approach and thought, realists focus on the moment and enjoy the journey for its own sake because their primary objective is learning and self development.  Every experience is something to savour and for the memory banks, so they are always seeking to make it happen.

Realists tend to be self-driven, laid-back individuals. They often achieve a lot because they love a challenge and are not afraid of pushing forth an idea or attempting whatever stimulates and interests them for the sheer experience of it. However, this emphasis on the present often prevents them planning adequately for the future and encourages them to see life in much rosier hues than others are able to. They are also very trusting in love, tend to forgive easily, are natural givers and are prone to be hurt because of that trust. However, they tend to take that in their stride as part of their experience, while moving on optimistically to the next great adventure.

Fossils (Main Trait: LIVING IN THE PAST)

Finally, there are the emotional fossils. These people live in the past and have no journey or particular destination because they have, essentially, stopped living. They are stuck back there without knowing how to appreciate their present, or how to move to the future without the emotional baggage. Some past trauma, lack of personal value and significance, family dysfunction or deep disappointment in their expectations would have kept them focused on what has gone, still using that experience as a parameter to judge everything else, and not being able to move forward sufficiently to see things differently. Usually pessimistic in outlook, and resentful in feelings, they have long lost the ability to trust, to think with an open mind, to appreciate anything new they have been given or to see life with positive lens. Instead everything they achieve is always compared to that past life or bad experience, which they expect to repeat no matter who they meet.

For the emotional fossil, life was either much worse back then or much better, no in-between. They find it hard to celebrate their current lives or their actions and tend to live in constant regret of what they should have done. No matter how successful they are, it is just never enough compared to what they could have had. They are constantly comparing themselves to others and finding themselves wanting. Yet, somehow they never quite manage to fulfil their own expectations of themselves to reach those impossible standards.

They often sound like whingers who are never satisfied and are disappointed with their lives, yet not really seeming to do anything to change their situation. They do not utilise their present to the full and often cannot relate to the future except in terms of fear, failure and dire predictions. They tend to be takers in relationships, seldom giving much back. Not being able to fully appreciate themselves, they are likely to be mean with praise and appreciation of partners and entirely self focused.

These are the basic emotional types but many people are likely to be combinations of these as nothing in life, especially to do with people, is ever really one thing or the other!

Why We Must Always Listen to That Little Inner Voice


Within two weeks of meeting someone in 2007, he proposed.

Now, many people would think that is much too quick for anyone to pop the question. But only if we are judging them by our specific standards of doing things. Some people might go the other extreme and take years before they do anything. That's fine for them too, whatever the reason for the procrastination. We all have to go at a pace that suits us. Thus it is no less fine for someone who proposes within two weeks or two days. It is really about individual needs and the pace at which each person prefers to act.

I am the kind of person who believes that people come into our lives for a reason, and not just the obvious one, so I do not make assumptions about anyone who passes my way until they prove their own purpose. And boy, did he have one!

I loved him then, but I wasn't sure I was really 'in love' with him. There was just something that held me back and I couldn't say what it was. Yet, talk about affection and love! In his own way, he smothered me with it. I laughed nervously the first time he mentioned marriage, told him that was too quick for me and left it at that. But the more he got used to me, the more he warmed to the idea of having his own personal motivator and adviser etc., and the more the proposals came: every fortnight like clockwork.

Listening to my Instincts
It was beginning to bother me after the first six weeks of seeing each other, but I was warming to him too. Still, that little doubt persisted and I always listen to my instincts. Finally, at the beginning of the next six weeks, I decided to accept his view of the situation: that he had met the only woman for him; the only one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. And he was not joking either. However, as I didn't feel quite that way, I decided on a compromise.

I told him that if we were still seeing each other in January 2008 I would be prepared to consider it, and even accept it. Six months to me sounded fine to calm doubts and to get to know him better. We fell out exactly three months later as truth whacked me across the face like a wet sponge: that if we took the lovey-dovey bits out, there was no reciprocity in our relationship. That gentleman simply took and took, particularly on basic things which might seem trivial on their own, but where the cumulative effect was disastrous. When one lives on one's own, one develops certain patterns of routine to get the most out of one's day, so one has to be careful that a new person doesn't disrupt it entirely and leave feelings of regret instead of pleasure. I guess the best relationships in our modern world are those where new soulmates can seamlessly fit into that life, and vice versa, to become indispensable. The minute they are dispensable, the relationship is doomed.

Without going into details, my guy discovered that he had someone who didn't mind waiting on him hand and foot, and he loved the fussing and the loving, the appreciation and the value. He would simply arrive at the flat on a night or weekend and sat down. Not once would he even take a cup to the kitchen. He loved the service and the pampering. But he forgot one important thing, if he wanted to marry me: to return that service in some way! He never offered to help with anything, which suddenly increased my work twofold. The net result was that, we might have been shagging ourselves silly, with lots of affection and connection, but there wasn't any care. No real care towards me at all. It was all about him, no one else, and he took everything for granted.

Fear of Communication
Not surprisingly, by the end of the first month I was feeling pressured and resentful. I had even more to do by then, especially with my new role as glorified handmaiden (or serving wench!). I was there for him physically and emotionally, to talk about all his problems and chivvy him on; to cook, clean, iron (I even surprised myself with my domestication!) but he wasn't there for me at all.

In fact, he was hardly interested in anything about me, except if it fitted into one of his plans. He also feared communication and decided to clam up, instead of a discussion, when he sensed that I was losing interest. Faced with the possibility of losing me, his fear took over and he suddenly stopped talking to me one weekend. Communication is the essence of my life, so how would I have been happy with someone who dreads communicating, especially when there are things they don't want to hear? Soon he became dispensable and it was time for despatch!

Coming back to my belief that everyone comes into our life for a reason, I am not sure what effect I had on his life in the three months we dated, but he had a profound effect on mine, and not how he might have imagined. Before I met him, if you had asked me what my five top values in a relationship were, in this order, they would be: Love, Communication, Sharing, Caring and Generosity. Well, that gentleman couldn't have smothered me anymore in love and affection. He couldn't let go off me any time and any place. We spent days in bed and every moment hugging! But what was missing throughout, what caused the early doubts, was a little thing called 'caring and sharing'. He might have loved me in his own way, but he really didn't care for me as a person: not about my dreams, aspirations, my pain or my life and he shared very little.

Last time I heard he had married, barely seven months after me (a guy in a hurry to be wed, obviously). He actually wrote to tell me and added how much he was thinking of me and wanted to hear from me! So much for the new wife! But I thank my Universe, as usual, for sending him into my life for three great months. For keeping me from feeling too flattered by his affections to rush into the wrong long-term relationship. For using him to teach me that Communication, Caring and Sharing are the top values for me, followed by Love, and that is what my next partner and I will have to reciprocate in abundance. I am grateful too for adding something of value to someone's life on my own journey.

What is the real value of self-help books?


There are thousands of books and oceans of information available on how to help one's self and solve one's problems. The self-help market is booming as many people try to make sense of how they feel and attempt to get their life on track or to simply boost their opportunities for success. But for others, self-help books have not really worked perhaps because of the way they view such books.

Erroneously, most people are inclined to believe that, if they are using a 'self-help' book, they must have some 'problems' which they need to sort out. They perhaps cannot afford professional counselling and so turn to cheaper options. While that may be true of a minority of people, in that frame of mind, and with that perspective, they are not likely to get the full benefit of what they are reading because they have already limited the scope and effect of the material.

Self-help is not about merely dealing with problems you might be encountering. That's just one part of the overall use of such books. The real meaning of self-help is discovering potential and possibilities; to find out what you are capable of, how you might be limiting that potential with current beliefs, attitudes and approaches, and how you can make the best use of those possibilities to achieve whatever it is you yearn for.

The key thing to note is that utilising any kind of self-help material suggests that the person does not accept everything about their life as given. He/she makes a conscious decision not to be a hostage to their genes, their past or their environment. They will decide how their life will unfold and the best way to do that. They will not simply conform to expectations or predictions of what they should or ought to do with their life. They accept that life has its difficulties, its ups and downs, but they refuse to be constrained by them or dictated to by specific situations. They need objective answers in helping them to expand their knowledge and to reinforce their direction, and self-help books are essential in this regard. As author Tom Butler-Bowden (50 Self-Help Classics) pointed out, self-help books, "can reveal your unique course in life, form a bridge between fear and happiness or simply inspire you to be a better person".

It means that self-help books are not really about dealing with personal problems, per se, but are the key to educating you about your potential, especially regarding a way of life which enables you to make a difference to both yourself and your world. In that way you not only transform the way you think, and how others perceive you, but you also transform your future, all by yourself, and in the most effective way you see fit.

For more information: The Sihera Confidence Guide©
(especially "Confidence and Success" and "How Confidence is Lost")

Three essentials in life that we have to generate first in order to 'find' them


We often hear people say that they are looking for 'happiness' or they are seeking 'love' or they expect others to 'trust' them. We all desire those essential elements in life but, if you lack any of them, could it be because they cannot be 'found', they have to be generated within you first?

The 19th century writer, James Allen, said a profound thing: "Men do not attract what they seek. They attract who they are." Simply translated it means that the law of attraction dictates we will never find what we're looking for, unless we possess it first! That would be like trying to give away what we haven't got. Soon the person who provides it for us will get tired of just giving and getting nothing in return, which then leads to a perpetual cycle of failed friendships and relationships.

Take the quest for happiness. That is not a destination where one keeps searching daily until one finds it. Happiness is a state of being which can happen any moment of any day in our lives. It isn't saved for special occasions or for material things. Happiness lies within us, but its roots relate to the way we feel about ourselves. If we loathe ourselves, continually find fault with who we are, can't stand our image in the mirror, have low self esteem, are constantly seeking perfection and never satisfied with who we are, we are likely to be unhappy. No matter what we do, where we go and what we are given, we will always feel inadequate, gloomy and negative about life because our basic feeling of life, which stems from feelings about ourselves, is faulty and negative. Any material thing we have might give us momentary joy, but we won't ever have real happiness because we have to generate it first in order to attract it.

The same with trust. Many people are very suspicious of others because they don't trust themselves either. They find it very difficult to trust perhaps because of past hurt, betrayal or fear of being vulnerable. However, the irony is that those are the people who are most likely to expect complete trust and openness from others, while still being suspicious and distrustful themselves. We can only get trust if we freely give trust, otherwise other people will start feeling uncomfortable with us when they realise how one-way things are. It is like real friendship. If we want genuine friends we have to be a friend to others too in order to have it come back to us ten-fold. Otherwise we will simply be labelled as takers, not givers and avoided where possible.

Finally, we all seek love, every moment of our lives, but love will always be elusive if we have none for ourselves. How can we really love another if we have no self love? Not possible. We will always want others to love us to compensate for the lack of self love we feel, which makes the pain of a broken relationship much worse when that love-giver is no longer there. We are ready for true love only when we love ourselves, we no longer look inward in a selfish way and can look outward to take others with us. Love will always find us when we have found ourselves. So no relationship begins with the other person. A relationship begins with us and the love we have to SHARE with others, not to expect or to take. Once we love ourselves first, we can always take or leave the other person.

So, if your life feels as though you cannot trust anyone, that love is hard to find or happiness is so elusive, just look inside yourself for the answers. They are all likely to be hiding there in fear, for specific reasons relating to yourself or your past. They just need some encouragement to shine so that others can recognise them in you and make a beeline for your door to share them too!

What does it mean to achieve Wellness?


For me a state of wellness is simply the following:

1. When we love ourselves and are very happy with our bodies instead of expecting others to compensate for that lack of self-love by loving us instead.

2. When we accept what we have, no matter what age we are, or the 'faults' we perceive we have. Wellness springs from self-happiness otherwise there will always be a gnawing feeling of inadequacy and insecurity within us.

3. When we become givers instead of takers, seeking to affirm and reinforce rather than to be affirmed and applauded.

4. When we give gratitude for every blessing, rather than taking everything for granted and whingeing about what is missing.

5. When we can allow others to be who they are without judgement, as we are proud of our own selves too, and wish to be accepted as we are.

6. When every moment is precious to us, i:e accepting and enjoying the imperfections of today and not searching for perfection tomorrow, which we might never see.

7. When we need nothing else in life to give us joy than waking up each day to find ourselves above ground and with all that potential to explore!

In a nutshell, when we love ourselves, give gratitude for who we are and what we have, when we reach out to others in a spirit of that self-love, while appreciating our own presence, potential and moments of life, and are simply happy in our own skin, we have indeed achieved wellness. :o)

I always start my day with giving thanks to my Universe for yet another day and pledging to make it 'a masterpiece' with whatever I do. I never take any new day for granted. I also give thanks for everyone who has been sent to accompany me on my journey, especially my children, relatives, friends and former partners. I affirm my love for myself by commenting on my amazing smile, beautiful body and wonderful intellect: all gifts from a higher power that I can never take for granted.

I remind myself, for example, that 80% of the world cannot read, so for me to have such powers of expression is truly a special blessing. That kind of acknowledgement and comparison runs throughout my day. Every time I feel like whingeing or complaining, I remind myself of Haiti and all those suffering people without my shelter and comforts etc, or the democracy I enjoy which allow me, as a woman, to thrive just like a man. By contrasting myself to the millions of unfortunates around the world, I constantly put my privileged life in perspective. It stops me expecting rather than affirming.

The result of that, compared to 20 years ago before I discovered real wellness and happiness, is a daily life of pure joy and satisfaction. I have nothing to moan about, I have little stress, I lack nothing materially, despite only having a small income, and I have achieved some amazing things in those years. Best of all, I seem to be surrounded by love and friendship and, amazingly, the more I give of myself is the more I seem to get from others. It is difficult to describe how well and happy I feel, despite having a debilitating illness which could terminate my life at any time without warning.

5 Reasons Why We Should Never Use Hindsight!


How often have you looked back on significant moments which mattered to you and uttered the immortal comment: "I should have done so and so. I wish I hadn't done that."

We all replay events inside our head, desperately searching to resolve them with perfect action. Yet the biggest obstacle to greater achievement and a feeling of confidence is the curse of hindsight. People who lack confidence are always prone to looking back to what they have done, either regretting their actions or wishing they had not done certain things in certain ways. This is a pointless exercise which only reduces self-esteem even further and solves nothing in the process.

Reason 1: You cannot ever change the past. You have to learn from it and let it go. Brooding over it negatively merely fuels the flames of discontent and the feelings of inadequacy, turning your future dreams into ashes. How can you make a better future if you are locked in the past trying vainly to undo the impossible in your head? It is a massive waste of good energy and it stifles creativity.

Reason 2: We ALWAYS act according to the moment, which means that we do what we genuinely believe is right at THAT given time. We might act in haste, or without the full facts to guide us, but that is only ever revealed afterwards. In your assessment, what you did was the only possible option given these seven important variables: your confidence, experience, resources, training, maturity, knowledge and, above all, your mood. That is why some people commit crimes one moment that they would not dream of doing in another – those awful mood swings of low esteem and desperation are the culprits. Nothing else was possible at that time, otherwise they would have done it. Ten weeks later, when you are more aware (your knowledge has improved), you feel much calmer and more positive and you view the matter differently, is no time to judge your past actions harshly. It is foolhardy and serves little purpose except to make you out to be 'worse' than you are.

Being Proud of What We Do

We can decide to change our approach in the future, but we do nothing positive by chastising ourselves for our actions in the past. Neither is it constructive. It mainly leads to self-doubt and self-deprecation. The key thing to remember is Reason 3: If we could have done it differently, we would gladly have done so. Just because you are more mature and confident now doesn't mean you spend your time berating that younger, greener individual who took those decisions when he/she didn't have your current maturity and experience. With all those unpredictable variables mentioned earlier, we should always be proud of what we do because it is an acknowledgment that we are ideal at that moment in time until we gain more knowledge, maturity, experience, etc. Then we move to another level of excellence. We should never be ashamed of whatever we do because it is all a necessary part of our natural evolution and learning process.

Reason 4: This curse of hindsight mainly affects perfectionists who want things done in a perfect manner. It means that no matter what they attempt, even though it might be fantastic, it is never enough to please them. In their eyes, it should have been just so. They could always have improved upon it, they mistakenly think. Yes, maybe now, but NOT back then. Their sense of perfection blinds them to accepting the nature of their developing talents and their need to make mistakes to realise those talents. Instead, they spend their lives wishing they had not done certain things, instead of revelling in their blessings and acknowledging that those 'mistakes' actually cemented the unique people they are and brought them to their current position.

It is perfectly right to savour the wonderful moments we had in the past, and to review them from a position of strength and learning. But to spend a life regretting any action at all, or blaming others, simply because experience has taught us better, is to tempt fate. Everything done already helps to mould our unique personalities, so individual experience should not be used to continually regret what cannot be changed. Instead, it should make future actions far more enjoyable and rewarding because our maturity would enable us to appreciate where we are coming from and wish to go.

Living in the Present
Reason 5: Finally, if we are regretting something which happened years ago, we would not be able to replace past actions with current ones. The age would be different, the morals and ethical codes would be different, people's behaviour would be different and the way the world is perceived would be very different from now, which would make your new solution entirely inappropriate for the time and expectations. Imagine going back to the time of Galileo hundreds of years ago to tell them that the earth was actually round because you know better!

Religious fanatics would probably make sure you were burnt at the stake as a witch/warlock! They were wrong about the earth being flat but it was for them to begin the exploratory process in that and for another age to finish it. Just the same with medicine and science. Nothing can be done all at once. That's how we evolve, one small step at a time, making an awful lot of mistakes along the way.

So the best advice for a confident life is to live in the present. Appreciate your past with pride and prepare to have an awesome future!

7 simple Lifestyle Changes that can impact greatly on the quality and length of your life


1. Have positive thoughts about how long you would like to live and exactly what you will be doing with that extra life. If you begin with your mind, you will bring those wishes into being as you work steadily towards improving the quality of your life. We age in our heads first and then our body follows. Hence, if we genuinely believe we are old and decrepit, and not good for anything else, the body will oblige! By making your thoughts more uplifting and positive you will begin the first stage of lengthening your life.

2. Exercise your brain: If we do not use anything in life, we will lose its function, especially the brain. We have the most powerful learning tool on earth and we are only using a fraction of its capabilities. Get on the Internet and find your own little library, develop your own courses, learn a new language, research a topic.

People who use their brain daily stay much healthier, and live much longer, than those who just watch television or sit idly around feeling 'bored'. In fact, recent research has discovered a link between Alzheimer's and not using the brain sufficiently. Research has even shown that the more we use our brains the longer we live.

The more we learn, the greater our capacity for learning and the more empowered we feel within us. Make a point of learning at least ONE new thing each week and gradually increase your knowledge while improving your capacity to learn and absorb information.

3. Exercise your body: You don't have to go to a gym to keep fit. Just running on the spot for three minutes, running up and down stairs for a while and dancing vigorously to two favourite records each day will help tremendously to keep you healthy. Simple things you can do in your home every day would make a huge difference over time to the state of your health and the potential for a longer life. If you can get to the gym, even better. But just incorporating some new activity into your daily routine could work wonders for adding extra years.

4. A good Diet: Cut down dramatically on fatty foods and sugar. Once those twin evils are reduced, you can eat more of what you like, especially with vegetables, fruits and nuts. Eat in moderation and regularly - like three medium sized meals each day instead of starving yourself until the next meal.

5. Adequate sleep: Your body is a finely tuned machine and the only time it gets to regenerate itself and does its 'repairs' is when you are asleep. A lack of adequate sleep (7-8 hours) lowers your performance threshold and reduces the power of your immune system, making you more prone to illnesses and lethargy. Try to get at least six hours each night, preferably seven. According to the experts, the more we sleep the longer we live.

6. Have a life purpose: Having something you really want to do, like a personal passion, will keep you much healthier because it will give you a deep sense of satisfaction, achievement and wellbeing. Makes you want to get out of bed each day. It also establishes your presence, your value and your legacy.

7. Be more adventurous: There is a little saying: "You're either green and growing and ready to learn or you're ripe and rotting knowing it all and ready to fall".

To keep 'green and growing' you need to try something new whenever you can. Test your boundaries and your limits. Learn a language or a new task. Get out of the secure comfort zone which has turned into a rut and do something different. It helps to build your competence, confidence and knowledge. The more you can explore is the younger you will feel, the more confidence you will have and the greater your capacity to live longer too.

Just making these simple changes in lifestyle can significantly increase your longevity because the body likes two things, in particular: learning and activities. Once we get out of our comfort zones, become flexible and curious, there is much more in store for us, including those extra years!

The Five Factors That Affect How People Manage Conflict


The five main factors affecting how people manage conflict are the following, in order of my priority:

1. The way they were brought up
People tend to deal with conflict according to how comfortable they feel with it. Someone who has been taught that conflict is not a good thing, one that should be avoided at all costs, is likely to manage it less effectively than someone who sees it as one aspect of life which needs to be addressed. They are likely to fear it more, especially its potential outcomes and consequences. Some cultures also downplay conflicting situations which would affect how members deal with it.

2. The social skills they possess
Someone who possesses good interaction skills, especially having charm and empathy on an emotional cultural and professional level, will handle conflict far more effectively than someone who needs the training or experience to deal with it. Generally, the more adept one is at social interaction, the more confident they tend to be at dealing with conflict and getting desired results.

3. Their level of confidence
Confident people tend to cope with life and conflict much more effectively than those who lack confidence, are low in esteem or who feel like victims. They are more likely to see the opportunities in a conflict, and even see it as a challenge to their skills, than just a pitfall. Confidence comes from self belief, skills, knowledge and experience in dealing with everyday situations. It follows that a confident person will be better prepared to deal with a conflicting situation, compared to one with low confidence who is likely to feel inadequate in such situations.

4. Their professional or personal status
No interaction can ever be taken at face value. Whenever two people are face to face there are underlying dynamics in play relating to power (and who has it!) which the parties might deliberate try to ignore: such as the gender, colour, culture, and, most of all, the peceived status of each party.

Two women, for example, are likely to deal with conflict differently than two men, or one man and a woman, especially if the woman is of higher status! And within a multi-racial situation, certain assumptions might be there before anything is addressed (see no.5). In these status situations, how one handles the conflict also depends on whether one is trying to impress the other person or one couldn't care less! That will certainly affect the approach and outcome.

5. The perception of the parties involved
We all bring our perceptions to every situation because our perception is our only reality. What we have experienced, and how we think, decide what we see. That is why it has such a powerful effect on situations, especially on conflicts because, regardless of the four other factors mentioned already, if someone has a perception of the other person which is more negative than positive, their handling of the conflict will be quite different than where there is a genuine attempt by both parties to accommodate each other.

For example, some women and minorities who are prepared to defend their rights are often seen as "aggressive" because such defence often make others feel uncomfortable. It means that no matter how confident, skilled and experienced they are at dealing with conflict, no matter how accommodating they could be, the negative perception of others will make sure that they are perceived to have ulterior motives before they begin; to be less skilled in resolving the issues because of this perceived "aggression".

In view of these factors, it is a small wonder that conflicts can be resolved because of the many unspoken elements operating in such situations. Unless some of them are addressed, the conflict will merely simmer uncomfortably, with people merely making the 'right' noises, than be truly resolved.

Are Happy People More Productive People?


Happy people are far more productive people for a variety of good reasons, especially the following:

First, they feel good about themselves and their great self-esteem means less angst or worry about what is possible. They tend to feel less anxious about the consequences and so are more willing to at least try. Happy people are likely to be self motivated to do whatever they desire because they do not need anyone to motivate them to feel good. Being already happy, they are also likely to be far more positive and to appreciate their world and other people, which provide them with the resources to get what they want.

I am a very happy person, always with a big wide grin on my face, no matter what is happening to me, or how negative the situation. I have great self-belief in what I can accomplish and am highly self motivated every day, especially as I work for myself. I have the the self-discipline to attempt what I want to do and the end result is that I have tended to be a pioneer, always first to do something. I have achieved so much single-handedly, many others have been amazed at my capabilities and determination. Life is a joy to live, instead of having anything to be gloomy about it, so productivity sits easily with me.

When we are unhappy, life becomes a drudgery. We are less motivated to fulfil our desires because we lack the essential ingredient to make it happen: self belief and confidence. The end result is that we tend to do far less than our potential would allow because most of our time would be spent whingeing, feeling sorry for ourselves as victims, criticising, wishing and hoping rather than doing. Most of all, unhappy people tend to be riddled with fear, which keeps them paralysed in action, and yearning instead of doing.

A happy disposition is a productive one because, when life feels good, we want to reach for the skies. Being happy at least gives us the disposition to make the crucial start to achieve that goal.

Five Reasons Why Group Therapy Works As Well, If Not Better, For Depression Than Medication


Depression is regarded as a 'mental' problem but I have always felt it was an emotional one. Depression is a state of feeling which then affects how we think. When people feel isolated, rejected and overwhelmed, in particular, they are likely to feel very depressed and low in esteem, which then affects their mental state: how they see themselves and the world. A study of group therapy among 123 people in the UK seems to have confirmed the emotional nature of depression, in that the interaction done by the group is proving even more effective than just medication.

That should be no surprise. The only sadness is that it has taken so long to be confirmed!

Group therapy, especially talking and interacting, has five major benefits that no medication can provide. In order of priority, they are the following:

1.Validation: Being validated as an individual is one of the key desires in our lives. We want to be confirmed as who we are and wish to be. Being among others who accept our identity, warts and all, accept our perceptions, no matter how 'faulty', where we don't have to pretend to be what we're not and sharing regular space with those who emphasise our dreams and empathise with our pain, is the greatest compliment we can have from others.

2. Being Heard: Being listened to and having the opportunity to be heard as a significant person is one of the greatest desirables in life. Many people go through their daily routine with no one they can trust, or being afraid to share their pain and problems with others. Often people are being talked at but never listened to, especially older isolated individuals. In a group therapy, they can be heard. They will always get their turn. They do not have to feel embarrassed, inadequate or 'wrong'. They can be themselves, knowing that their viewpoints and contributions are as valid as any others.

3. Belonging: In a group there is shared experience in not being alone with one's problems or suffering. One is not unique. There are others who might be even worse. There are also different ways of dealing with the same problems. Group interaction also confirms doubts and removes individual fears. There is greater confidence in not being alone in one's pain. But overall, there is a sense of belonging to a family, being where one matters, and being valued.

4. Support: This is a crucial element of group therapy, the support each member gets from the group as a whole: emotional, physical and practical. They can encourage one another, advise and cajole each other and share valued information together. One cannot get those important benefits when one is at home on one's own just popping pills to stay afloat! Individual fears can be alleviated while personal initiative can be encouraged. The emphasis is on sharing and motivating.

5. Different Perspectives: Most important for changing the person's own approach to helping him/herself are the different perspectives that one is exposed to during the interaction. Everyone deals with issues in their own way. By discussing all the different approaches and their effectiveness in facilitating change and progress, group members are more aware of what is possible, what could be useful and what should be jettisoned. When someone is depressed, they are likely to see their world in very negative, limiting terms. Being able to open up that world to others, while being exposed to theirs, gives greater latitude for getting different results and turning the negative tide of feelings into a positive one.

Most people who feel depressed feel unwanted, rejected or abandoned. That is not a clinical state but an emotional one which gradually needs clinical attention if left untreated. Medication on its own cannot replace validation, belonging, a feeling of significance or a simple hug. But reaching out to others, sharing their experiences and, above all, interacting together in talk and encouragement, while adding a hug of support, can often work wonders.

Apart from your family and life itself, what THREE things are you most grateful for at present?


Many people often take their blessings for granted. They are likely to notice what they haven't got compared to the abundance of things they already enjoy. For example, I found this little factfile on the web which reduces the population to the size of a village of just 100 people and says that, in this village:

20 are undernourished.

1 is dying of starvation, while 15 are overweight.

20 have no clean, safe water to drink.

56 have access to sanitation

15 adults are illiterate.

1 has a university degree.

7 have computers.

It really made me think about how lucky I am, despite my ongoing diabetic complaint because one's quality of life really depends on where one was fortunate to be born!

So, apart from your family and life itself, what three things are you most appreciative of; that would really change your life for the worse if you didn't have them?

I have so many blessings which I already give thanks for every day, I wouldn't begin to know what to choose. But, as I have to restrict myself to three, they would be:

1. My writing talent and capability.

2. My computer and the Internet.

3. My smile and disposition.

I chose them because, should I lose them all, my life would be dramatically different. In fact, I would be an entirely different person and I am not sure it would be for the better, especially without my smile!

Let's have them!

Which TWO ways would you change the world for the better?


1. I would create Love Academies where people are taught how to love themselves and others unconditionally. Love is the greatest force for good in our world and there is not nearly enough to go round. Most of our problems occur because of that lack of love, either for ourselves or for others.

Many people don't know how to love, how to engage others into their orbit or how to be more appreciative of themselves. In these Love Academies everyone would learn the principles of love, great ways to love themselves, key ways to encourage the best from others and how to improve their interactive skills to bridge cultural barriers, to engender greater understanding, to be far more expressive about their needs and to feel pride and self-esteem in their person, culture and identity.

Once people have more love, hopefully, they will start looking outward instead of just for themselves. They would be encouraged to use that new positive perception to help others who are less fortunate. There would be no wars and much more dialogue. On a personal level, everyone would have to help and assist just ONE more person in their orbit. To pass on that love first and then help them physically too. In that way, we would gradually eradicate poverty, suffering and misunderstandings without any one individual or group having to take those burdens on their shoulder.

For example, I might teach my neighbour to read, and that neighbour would teach her friend to type and that friend would teach someone else a skill, on and on in a productive chain. This would prevent only a few people having to carry the burden of change, yet nothing being too onerous for each person to do. In that way, every person can make a small difference which leads to massive global changes.

2. Everyone would have to start and end their day with a compliment to someone, a praise, a kind word, and genuine warmth; an appreciation for something they have done. Many people go through life never hearing anything positive, yet being criticised, undervalued and unappreciated instead. It would make a lot more people feel inclusive, it would remove the emphasis from our 'me' culture and place the focus outwards and it empower an awful lot of people who currently enjoy little recognition. In that way, there would be more good works done as people feel inspired to behave differently.

Everything flows out of love and appreciation of the self and others. Make love, appreciation and respect, the foundation of life and everything else will slowly, but surely, fall into place - something like I am personally enjoying now, and it's awesome.

What Legacy Would You Like to Leave the World?


I am seeking to make the world a better place by putting more emphasis on emotional health and well being. This sounds like common sense, but it isn't. This branch of health is little understood, or noted in any meaningful way, so one could say I am a pioneer in its content and promotion. Emotional health (confidence, self-esteem, emotions) seems to be lumped with mental health without being recognised as the lynch pin which dictates both physical and mental states, yet is quite separate from them.

Emotional health is all about FEELINGS and SELF-LOVE. How much we love ourselves and our perception of being included and wanted by others. When feelings are negative, especially with youngsters and jilted lovers, they are likely to precipitate changes in mental and physical well being because feelings of inadequacy have to be transformed somehow, into feelings of power. We tend to feel a sense of injustice at such times and are veritable loose canons when we feel rejected, excluded and disrespected.

For example, depression is a mental state caused by the degree of negativity and inadequacy the person FELT, their emotional health, before they became depressed. One state leads to the other. It means you can be both physically and mentally at ease but emotionally screwed up, a situation most apparent in relationships, especially with partners or parents. Yet that is seldom addressed, so the person keeps repeating the same detrimental emotional pattern of behaviour everywhere they go then wonder why their relationships repeatedly fail, or give them the same results.

At the core of emotional health is personal value, confidence, self esteem and inclusion. Focus on these in every human being to make them more positive and enabling, and you have an immediate answer to many of the world's ills, especially those who feel lonely, undervalued and emotionally excluded from their society/community, enough to become deviant and aggressive. You only have to gauge someone's emotional well being by asking them how they see themselves, and rating themselves out of 10. Most people will say 6 or under, because they have a desire to be perfect beings and, in their eyes, they fall well short of that. So they focus on their perceived weaknesses instead of their uniqueness and strengths, feeling truly inadequate in the process. Without the resources to change that perception, it is guaranteed to have a knock-on effect on jobs and home. Yet a little self education, self-love and appreciation usually change such negativity.

Additionally, an enormous amount of money would be saved in dealing with the physical and mental ill health which often results from feelings of exclusion and insignificance, not to mention stemming the level of crime that is always associated with emotional crises and a lack of self love. Time to give emotional health its priority in human life and change the narrow way we deal with human rejection, exclusion and deviance. The world would certainly be much better for it.

That would be my legacy to the world: greater awareness of nurturing self-love and feelings of value, and boosting emotional health.

What's yours?

The Main Elements of Spirituality


Many people speak about being spiritual, as opposed to being religious and adhering to a particular denomination or sect. But levels of spirituality, and understanding of it has been so varied, it seems useful to pinpoint the key factors that make one a spiritual being to provide a better comprehension of true spirituality.

The main belief of spirituality is of having an invisible spirit or soul which is enjoying an earthly experience, or journey, in a visible body. This spirit is timeless, with a lack of consensus on what happens to it when it completes its earthly journey. Some people subscribe to a reincarnation as something else, most likely as an animal, some to the notion that the spirit assumes a new body and starts the cycle all over again, while others believe the spirit roams freely in the ether after that, in common with many similar souls.

Whatever beliefs spiritualists subscribe to, it seems there are 10 major elements that indicate a true spiritual being and they stem from the following beliefs:

1. Being on a spiritual journey, not earthly, but having a temporary mortal body, with a potential for reincarnation.

2. The existence of a higher power (Universe/Nature), or other kind of generalised deity, which is not attached to any one religion or gender; a loving, benevolent power that is more guide than dictator.

3. An automatic intuitive connection with every other spiritual being on earth

4. The power and centrality of instinct and intuition to guide life and its outcomes.

5. Emphasis on loving and emotionally supporting others, and reaching out to them as a natural way of living.

6. Keen appreciation of, and interest in, the wonders of nature and its possibilities.

7. Feeling of serenity, fearlessness, contentment and acceptance of one's life and fate.

8. Independence of thought and the desire to stand apart from the crowd, while responding to the world's beauty

and consciousness.

9. A feeling of being very special, knowledgeable, unselfish, empathetic and grateful.

10. A strong and routine feeling of gratitude for blessings, possessions, friendships and interactions.

If you are not sure how 'spiritual' you are, a simple way to measure it is by checking the extent to which the 10 statements above match with your beliefs by doing the Spirituality Quiz.


(Photo images used on EmotionalHealthGuide.com courtesy of dreamstime free photos).