Category Archives: Self Improvement Tips

Why Positive Thinking Doesn’t Work – And What Does

By robkish

positive thinking

You’re reading Why Positive Thinking Doesn’t Work – And What Does, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

You might be anxiously wondering where this article is going to go, so just in case you’re about to judge me as some negative Nancy that’s going to bash positive thinking, I’d like to clear that up because that’s not what I’m about to do.

I’m going to use a deep dive into The Three Principles understanding of Mind, Consciousness, and Thought to awaken you to the fact that we don’t need to try to think positive in order to enjoy a joyous and fulfilling life. All we need is an understanding, and to not take our thoughts so damn seriously.

What I’m going to touch on is:

  • Positive and negative emotions don’t exist, you just think they do
  • Judging vs understanding
  • A fear-based mentality
  • How the mind really works
  • Where our thoughts actually come from
  • What control we really have
  • The repercussions to always trying to think positive
  • How positive thinking teaches us to become more judgmental
  • A more peaceful approach to our thoughts and emotions
  • A healthier way to know your thinking is off
  • Where freedom lays, and it’s not with positive thinking

By trying to think positive all the time, you’re attempting to shun the negative and embrace the positive instead of embracing the whole.

The self-help industry is completely flooded with the newest tips and strategies on how to think more positive more often. Oddly enough, attempting to see through a rose coloured lens all the time isn’t the solution to living a more fulfilling and joyful life. On top of that, it doesn’t even work.

My goal by the end of this post is to convince you that by trying to think positive all the time you will never experience all that life has to offer.

Being a caregiver to my wife with Leukemia for the past 9 years has taught me a lot. Amongst the blessings in disguise that I’ve uncovered, I’ve learnt not to fear my own thinking.

Positive And Negative Thoughts Don’t Exist, You Just Think They Do

We make up what every single one of our thoughts mean. There is no universal meaning to our thoughts. There are universal feelings that we label, but each of those feelings means something different to each of us because we each have different thoughts that lead to those feelings.

Any given thought that you THINK is positive or negative is only that way because you THINK it is. You have labelled it so. Why do thoughts that lead to feeling happy have to be positive and thoughts that lead to feeling sad have to be negative?

Is it really such a negative thing to have thoughts that lead to feeling sad if you lose someone you loved dearly? Would you rather feel happy you lost them? One could argue that being happy in such a circumstance could be labelled as negative. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Judging vs Understanding

Judging leads us towards separating our thoughts into positive or negative compartments.

Understanding points toward the fact that we think. Through a simple understanding that we are thinking creatures and we aren’t in control, regardless of the content of our thinking, we can finally sit back and just watch the movie play out in our head.

Knowing that our thoughts have no life of their own allows us to not have to take them so seriously. None of our thoughts are real, not one. They only appear real because we give certain thoughts our full attention. This attention breathes life into a thought and that’s when they appear REAL.

Well, here’s the best news…

just because you have a thought in your head, this does not mean you have to act on it nor do you have to believe it. After all, it’s just a thought…until you think it’s not.

When we give our thoughts a life of their own, we feel the need to gain some control by attempting to banish the bad and embrace the good. We do this because we fear our thoughts are real, they have a sense of control over us, so we must take back control before they make us act out in ways we forbid.

A Fear-Based Mentality

Being a caregiver to my wife with Leukemia for the past 9 years has taught me a lot. I’ve been to hell on earth and back all in one lifetime and I’m very grateful for this experience. Amongst the blessings in disguise that I’ve uncovered, I’ve learnt not to fear my own thinking.

During my deepest depths of despair, the world was a very, very dark place and I couldn’t see the light for the life of me. I tried so hard to “think positive”, but I wasn’t thrown a single bone to chew on.

I wanted to think positive because I was so afraid of what was going on inside my head. I was afraid of my own thoughts, not so much cancer. I was constantly on edge, waiting to defend against the next negative thought that popped up.

Suffice to say, I ground through that stage in my journey, it was not a graceful victory by any stretch.

I know with all my being that I will never go back to that place, or anywhere near it. I know this because I no longer judge my thinking as positive or negative. What’s probably even more important is that I no longer fear my own thoughts.

I now aim to meet each of my thoughts with love and compassion. Love trumps fear every single time. This compassion eliminates any desire for me to judge or change my thinking.

All of my thoughts are now arbitrary until I decide which ones will best serve me and the greater good.

When we see our thoughts as real and in control of us, we have a tendency to then fear the thoughts we’ve judged as negative. This fear of a negative thought gives birth to the desire to abolish negative thinking while simultaneously attempting to control our thoughts.

If we take the stance of seeing all of our thoughts as arbitrary, until we give them life through belief and attention, we won’t feel the need to judge our thinking or try and control the uncontrollable. A thought becomes a thought, no more and no less.

In this non-judgmental state, we develop compassion for our thoughts, regardless of the contents. This compassion breeds a whole new level of understanding that makes one wonder why they felt the need to judge, fear, or change their thoughts in the first place.

How The Mind Really Works

The mind works like a projector. It reflects our own thoughts back to us and we call what we see “reality”. We’re watching the movie of our own mind, we’re not the movie, and therefore we’re not our thoughts.

Sure, we can direct the film through editing the speed, colour, and sound, but what we cannot do is create the film. We don’t even have control over which film gets placed into the projector.

Where Our Thoughts Actually Come From

This remains a mystery. This mystery is what religion, mystics, and spiritual leaders try to put into words that which cannot be described with words.

What we do know is that we don’t create our thoughts, we receive them and we observe them. Similarly to how we listen to a radio, and if we don’t control what is on the radio, what control do we have?

What Control We Really Have

We don’t have the power to decide what plays on the radio, but we do have control over which station we decide to listen to. Similarly, we have control over which thoughts we choose to listen to, but we don’t control which ones get placed in our head.

Just as we have zero control over being able to stop thoughts from popping into our head, we have zero control over which thoughts pop into our head.

An even more important distinction to recognize is that we have control over which thoughts we choose to believe.

To play devil’s advocate to what I just said, for those who believe in fate, it can even be argued that we don’t even choose our thoughts. Who told us to choose a certain thought? To believe a certain thought? It can be said that it’s part of our destiny and that the script is already written and we’re just playing it out.

It’s estimated that we have 60,000 – 100,000 thoughts swirl around in our head on any given day. Most of these thoughts are regurgitated and go unnoticed, none of these thoughts were placed in our head by choice, wrap your head around that.

Confused? Try reading this: 2 Of The Biggest Myths About Meditation And Finding Peace Of Mind

We Don’t Have The Power To Create A Positive Thought

If I presented you a blue ball in my hand and told you to choose the red one, could you do it?

Similarly, if you were presented with a negative thought and I told you to choose the positive one, could you do it?

Understanding that we don’t create our thoughts is probably the most important aspect of truly seeing why positive thinking doesn’t work. We have zero control over initiating the process.

Since I’ve pointed to the understanding we don’t create our thinking, this also points towards the understanding that we can’t create a positive thought. Sure, one could argue and say “OK, I’m going to decide to think a positive thought” Yet, that sentence alone is a thought that they didn’t create, they just listened to it.

I think this is where the distinction between choosing a thought and creating a thought really needs to be distinguished.

Here’s an example I received recently:

“At any time, I can recognize I am being hard on myself and then consciously choose to think, “I deserve a little credit for everything I did right today.” That’s an example of consciously choosing to create an empowering thought, and I’ve actually done this many times!”

I can see this confusing many people, as it confused the heck out of me at one point as well.

Who placed the thought “I deserve a little credit for everything I did right today.” into their head?

Where did that thought come from? Once again, this remains a mystery.

This person chose to give that thought attention and bring it to life with belief, but only after the thought was created and delivered as an option in the mind’s eye. If we had the power to consciously create “positive” and empowering thoughts then we would do it all the time, but I’m sure based on our experiences we can all agree that this is just not true.

Why is it that when we need an empowering thought the most it doesn’t seem to come? If we had the power to create one then we surely would. Instead, we wait until one pops into our head. And, if we’re too distracted or overwhelmed, we’ll completely miss the thought altogether.

As fascinating as the mind is, it is limited to only one thought at a time. One thought that we didn’t create but the one thought that we chose.

I understand that this is a hard concept to grasp, and one that can completely rock your world. Especially for those who want to think they’re in control, it can be earth shattering to even fathom the idea that you’re not in control of which thoughts get created and place into your head. That all you have control of is which thoughts you choose to give attention.

The opposite of control is freedom, free from the need or desire to control. This is when we will experience true freedom of mind.

Where Freedom Lay

There’s no freedom in condemnation. Freedom lay not with judgement but with non-judgement. A mind that condemns a thought due to a negative judgement is not a free mind.

This is a mind that is on edge, constantly on the lookout for the enemy. A mind that fears harm upon itself is not a free mind, this is a paranoid mind.

A liberated mind does not judge itself; it accepts what arises and understands that it does not need to attempt to control the uncontrollable.

True freedom of mind lay not without certain thoughts but with all thoughts. True freedom of mind lay not with fear of certain thoughts but with love for all thought.

A More Peaceful Approach To Our Thoughts And Emotions

Typically, negative thoughts are judged as negative due to the feeling they induce. Common feelings such as anger, guilt, frustration and resentment are regularly judged as negative emotions leading us to believe that our thinking is negative.

What if there is no such thing as a negative thought?

I like to view our emotions as indicators sending us messages. An innocent indicator that points us toward our thinking that has led to that emotion. Not to judge the thoughts, but to see the innocence and harmlessness in the thoughts, and to see the thoughts with compassion.

“Feelings are a barometer of our thoughts at any given time”

– George Pransky, The Relationship Handbook

The messages we receive are always a reflection of our thoughts at the moment since each one of our thoughts gives birth to a corresponding emotion. Therefore, the benefit of any thought, whether we judge it as positive or negative, is that it will generate a feeling which we can use to better understand our thinking at the moment.

If you pay attention to your feelings without judgement, you’ll see that they’re a great indicator to which thoughts you’re giving the most attention.

In my experience, understanding is a much more peaceful approach than constantly judging.

The Repercussions Of Always Trying To Think Positive

Firstly, if your expectation is that you should always think positive then you will be thoroughly disappointed. You’re setting yourself up for failure, this is one battle you will never, ever win.

Your frustrations during this battle will generate their own negative thoughts by way of continuous judgement of yourself for not gaining control. This will ultimately lead to the creation of an ongoing teeter-totter between positive and negative thinking.

This constant battle is exhausting, it takes up so much mental energy. This is wasted energy that could arguably be better spent on creativity or imagination, among other things.

How Positive Thinking Teaches Us To Become More Judgmental

In order to distinguish the so-called positive and negative thoughts, we must judge them as one or the other. To be on the look-out for the bad guys all day (negative thoughts), this requires us to be judging our thoughts all day.

This teaches us to analyze our thinking, then segmenting each thought into positive or negative categories. I’m exhausted just thinking about doing this each day.

We don’t see the world as our experience, we experience our thoughts as the world we see.

Therefore, the more we judge ourselves, which includes the thoughts in our head, the more we judge the world outside of us, including others. This is not the way of a more peaceful and joyful life.

As soon as we judge a thought as negative we’ve given it life, quite the opposite of our intentions. If we don’t judge the thought, it passes by all on its’ own like a cloud in the sky. Letting the thought go with judgement allows room for the next thought to pass by.

If we hold our attention on a negative thought, it leaves no room for the next thought to come through, not until we let that one go.

Being able to see your thoughts without judgement is ultimately what brings peace. Trying to think positive all the time takes you further away from this and more woven into a neurotic and judgmental world.

A Healthier Way To Know If Your Thinking Is Off

Rather than constantly judging our thinking, I propose a much more peaceful and non-judgmental way to explore our thoughts. There are two powerful questions I like to ask myself that help me see with more clarity, they are:

  1. Is this thought really true?
  2. Does this thought the greater good?

I wrote an article explaining why these two questions are so life changing here.

Learn from all of your experiences, opportunities are everywhere.

Take care,



positive thinkingHey! Rob Kish here. I have the best job in the world. I wake people up and transform lives for a living, as a health coach and through my written word. Visit my website to sign up for my newsletter and receive frequent words of wisdom plus my newest posts straight to your inbox!

Website: www.robkish.life


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Creating a Sacred Space for Creativity

By dianaraab

You’re reading Creating a Sacred Space for Creativity, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

Most writers and artists need privacy and solitude to tap into their creative selves. Creating is not always easy, but it can be even more difficult if is done in an uninspiring environment or surrounded by unwanted people and noise. Before beginning your writing practice, it’s a good idea to find a time and place when you can be by yourself uninterrupted for a significant block of time. It should be a place where you feel comfortable and grounded. Writer Virginia Woolf spoke about the importance of having “a room of one’s own” in her book by that title. She was referring to a figurative room, which can be a deeper concept than what might be an actual physical space. She believed that women (and all writers) should have a place where they can go to write and feel safe and comfortable—a place that offers a blanket of support, while also being inspiring.

Your creative area can be a room in your home or even a part of a room there; it can also be in a public place where you feel comfortable. If you choose to make it a sacred space in your home, you may want to consider including special items that inspire you and make you smile. Perhaps they are artifacts from memorable travels or family heirlooms that jog your memory about certain times in your life.

My writing space has candles, essential oils, prayer beads, and photos of my family. I am also surrounded by my collection of typewriters, as a reminder that my first book written in the 1980s, Getting Pregnant and Staying Pregnant: A Guide to High-Risk Pregnancies, was written on a Smith Corona. In the corner of my desk sits a Buddha holding a stone that says “serenity.” Seeing his face grounds me. Years ago, I read that some major corporations placed coffee-scented candles in their offices as a way to increase productivity. So now I have one of those burning on my desk. I find that it alerts my senses and keeps me motivated, perhaps in the same way as drinking a cup of coffee would. Behind my desk is a bookcase holding all my favorite reference books, and nearby is my altar and a chair for my daily meditation practice. My room also has a reading chair and an ottoman facing my garden.

There have been times when I was not blessed with such a special sacred place, because either I was traveling or my living quarters weren’t amenable to one. Here are some ways to create a sacred creative space wherever you are:

  • Make yourself comfortable.
  • Close your eyes, uncross your legs, and take some deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Listen to your breath and concentrate on it.
  • Imagine visiting a room of great importance in your life. If you don’t have one or want to create an imaginary one, that’s okay.
  • Use your third eye (the space between your eyes) as a movie camera, and try to visualize the room. Capture all its details. When you are ready, open your eyes.
  • If you’re a writer, pick up your pen and write about the space, describing it in great detail. If you’re an artist, try drawing the place. Stay in the moment and try to create without looking up. What do you see in your space? What are you feeling in your body when you are in your space? What is your heart feeling while in your space?

Mythologist Joseph Campbell also spoke about the importance of having a sacred space as being necessary for everyone—a place without human or world contact, a place where you can simply be with yourself and be with who you are and who you might want to be. He viewed this place as a place of creative incubation. He said that, even though creativity might not happen right away when you are in this special space, just having it tends to ignite the muse in each of us.

Sometimes it is a good idea to vary your creative location. Working or writing in a different place brings an altered perspective to your creativity. As a writer, when there was an abundance of chain bookstores, I spent a lot of time in their coffee shops. I did some of my best writing there—perhaps as a combined result of the ambient noise, the smell of coffee, and being surrounded by books. At home, sometimes classical or spiritual music helps me concentrate. However, listening to music with lyrics can be difficult while writing, although the lyrics of some musicians, such as Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan, are very inspiring for some people.

During my teens, my grandfather introduced me to the fine art of people watching in Parisian cafes. We’d sit for hours observing people and talking about them. I am still inspired by the white noise of cafes. After my grandfather passed away, I continued the practice and then expanded to bookstore coffee shops. When not working on my projects, I would write in my journal about what I saw. I wrote about the people passing by, wondering what they were doing when not in the book store. I also sometimes documented conversations. It was a fun exercise that I sometimes suggest to my workshop participants. For another change of venue, on a nice day I like to write sitting in a park—another great place to people watch. If you’re an artist, sitting near cafes or in a park can also be an inspiring way to create a sacred space

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The Starting Five: Vitamins for Improved Health

By IndySummers

You’re reading The Starting Five: Vitamins for Improved Health, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

“By the proper intakes of vitamins and other nutrients…you can, I believe, extend your life and years of well-being by twenty-five or even thirty-five years,” said Nobel Prize winning scientist Linus Pauling. Modern research has confirmed Pauling’s belief as it has identified five vitamins that may improve overall health.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D provides many important health benefits. It helps to build strong bones, regulates the calcium and phosphate levels in the body, encourages cell growth, strengthens the immune system, protects against certain forms of cancer, and improves mental health. Recent studies have also found that a person’s health can be improved at the most critical times when Vitamin D is given in combination with the nutritional supplement glutamine – an amino acid that occurs naturally in the body. Glutamine benefits the body in several ways. First, it is an important building block of proteins, which are essential to a strong immune system. Second, glutamine improves intestinal health. Third, it helps the body’s healing during injury and illness. A 2017 study found that trauma patients receiving Vitamin D and glutamine had a 62% lower death rate. The best sources of Vitamin D are certain types of fatty-fleshed fish, such as salmon, tuna, or mackerel.

Vitamin A

Another health booster is Vitamin A. It benefits the body in many ways. First, Vitamin A plays an important role in vision. It is a key ingredient of the protein rhodopsin, which acts as a light receptor in the retina of the eye. Recent studies have found that Vitamin A may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, which affects the vision of the elderly. A leading cause of blindness in children worldwide is Vitamin A deficiency. Second, the vitamin is vital to proper heart, lung, and kidney function. Dairy products, fish, and meat are good sources of Vitamin A. Another source of the vitamin is food containing beta-carotene, which the body converts into Vitamin A.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C can also improve a person’s health. First, Vitamin C helps wounds heal faster. This is due to its vital role in the body’s production of collagen, which is a key building block of the body’s connective tissue. Second, Vitamin C is an antioxidant, a substance that can prevent oxidation. This is when unstable molecules called “free radicals” damage cells in the body, which can lead to many diseases. Vitamin C can help prevent or delay such damage. The foods rich in Vitamin C are citrus fruits, tomatoes, and potatoes.

Vitamin K

Another important vitamin in health improvement is Vitamin K. It plays a major role in blood clotting and in bone function. Recent research also indicates that the vitamin may reduce abnormal calcification in blood vessels, which can lead to fatal cardiovascular conditions and chronic kidney disease. Scientists believe Vitamin K may reduce the risk of osteoporosis, the fragile bone condition that affects over 10 million people in the U.S. Green leafy vegetables, cheeses, seafood, legumes, and nuts, are all rich in Vitamin K.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E may also improve a person’s health in several ways. First, it is an antioxidant and may play a role and reducing cell damage from free radicals. Second, Vitamin E may boost the immune system. Third, it may prevent or delay heart disease due to its ability to prevent blood clots from forming. A study of 90,000 nurses found that Vitamin E supplementation lowered the risk of heart disease by 30% to 40%. Vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds are rich in Vitamin E.

“[A vitamin is] a substance you get sick from if you don’t eat it,” quipped Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, the Hungarian biochemist that first isolated Vitamin C in 1933. Scientific research in the following decades has proven Gyorgyi right – these five vitamins can lead to improved health.

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3 Easy Tips to a Good Night Sleep

By Marwan Jamal

3 sleeping tips

You’re reading 3 Easy Tips to a Good Night Sleep, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

Good night sleep. The best thing in the world (Second to a nice Cheeseburger on a rainy morning).

According to a 2010 survey, 30 percent of Australians reported experiencing a severe sleeping disorder. Whereas in America, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that one of every four Americans reports not getting enough night sleep. This corresponds with another survey saying that around 60 million Americans are affected by sleep disorder each year.

So, how to sleep better in a high-paced life like the one we`re living today? By following these three simple tips:

Night Sleep Tip #1: Aim to be as relaxed as possible (Seriously)

Keeping a “relaxed” bedtime routine is the core to great night sleep, studies say. According to the National Sleep Foundation, you should separate your sleep time from any stress, anxiety or excitement coming from other daily activities.

This means that the least you can do is turn off your phone, TV and/or laptop to avoid any sleep disruption. According to studies by the Universities of Michigan and Colorado Boulder, 56 percent of sleep disruption cases are caused by the excessive usage of electronics in bed.

Associate your bedtime with only sleep and sex, and —if possible— keep all electronic gadgets in a separate room. Once you build this habit, you can use do yoga or meditate before you sleep. Both can decrease sleep disturbance and reduce the need for sleep medications.

In one study, 69 seniors were asked to either do yoga or take a herbal preparation before bed. The results then showed that the yoga group slept better and felt more energetic in the morning compared to the herbal group.

Also, meditating for 10-15 minutes before going to bed can add to your sleep quality. According to this 2011 study, those who attended a weekly meditation class and practiced meditation before bed significantly improved insomnia compared to the control group. Other studies suggest that some breathing techniques such as the 4-7-8 technique enhance the quality of sleep as they act as a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system.

Night Sleep Tip #2: Eat/drink the right stuff

Many studies are against eating before bed as it may slow down your metabolism. Still, if you choose to eat before bed then make sure it makes you sleep better, such as:

  • Chamomile Tea

Researchers call it “a mild tranquilizer and sleep-inducer.” They believe it acts as a mild sedative to calm your nerves, reduce anxiety and improve your sleep quality. In one study, ten of twelve sleep-disrupted heart patients fell into a deep sleep shortly after drinking the beverage.

  • Food rich in serotonin

Serotonin is a good chemical that sends signals between your nerve cells and, according to studies, can act as a sleep-inducer and mood stabilizer. You can naturally increase serotonin levels in your brain by eating foods that are high in tryptophan such as eggs, cheese, tofu, pineapples, salmon, nuts and seeds —especially almonds—, and turkey.

Night Sleep Tip #3: Caffeine is great for your health (but too much won’t get you to bed)

Stimulants such as coffee, tea, soft and energy drinks can have amazing health benefits such as lowering the risk of specific types of cancer as well as Type-2 diabetes. However, these stimulants can increase the activity of the central nervous system… And can affect your night sleep if taken right before, or close to, your bedtime.

One study by Drexel University found that among the 76 percent of sampled high school students who consumed more than 100 mg of caffeine per day —the equivalent of drinking a single espresso— at least one third said they felt tired during the day. Another study by the University of Colorado at Boulder says that too much caffeine can disrupt your internal clock and delay it by 40 minutes which can make you feel sluggish during the day.

Experts also believe that it takes six hours for only half of the caffeine to be fully metabolized by your body which is why consuming lots of coffee or tea before bed is more likely to make you awake, or at least less relaxed than you should be.


Marwan Jamal is a soccer-playing, food-loving, joke-cracking New York-based wellness writer. You can say hi to me here

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We All Have Scars: Let Go of your Childhood’s pain

By Samy Felice

You’re reading We All Have Scars: Let Go of your Childhood’s pain, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

Between the moment we are born, to the moment we reach adulthood, many of us experience incredible, profound pain.

Some of us have been sexually, physically, or psychologically abused — and then left to pick up the pieces on our own.

In the most vulnerable and sensitive stage of our lives, we’ve been exposed to the deep flaws of those around us. And with that, our deep innocence and natural reverence for life has been buried into the pits of our psyches.

But however far our primordial innocence and reverence for life has been lodged away, for most of us, our innate attitudes towards life are still recoverable.

And our past doesn’t have to decide our future.

Life can still be worth loving.

The Kind of Experiences We Collectively Go Through

Right now, there are daughters who are experiencing the feeling of being unloved to their very core by their parents.

In the last hour, countless kids have been violently hit by a parent for a simple, innocent mistake they’ve made.

Right now, there’s an autistic kid in school who is being picked on by everyone in his classroom.

All of this, is happening year after year. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This same cycle, continues to repeat every generation, to differing degrees.

According to Dosomething.org, 3.2 million children are victims of bullying each year in the US alone. 1 in 4 teachers see nothing wrong with bullying and will only intervene 4% of the time. Approximately 160,000 teens skip school every day because of bullying.

That statistic hasn’t drastically changed for the better compared to a decade ago. Yesterday’s same pre-teens, have now grown into adults. For over a decade, they were made to feel unloved, isolated, and inadequate by their surrounding environment.

What Kind of Adults Will These Abused Children Grow Into?

Today, teenagers who have been bullied year after year, have been told to go out into the world and ‘make something of themselves’, with the slippery foundation of a past story that makes them feel deeply subconsciously inadequate.

And let’s not forget the many who have been abused at home.

In 2016, according to Childrensrights.org, there were 4.1 million reports of child maltreatment in the United States involving more than 7.4 million children.

It will be much harder for many of these individuals to move forward in their life in the way they want, if they’re being dragged down by the past.

Not everyone ends up getting the help they need. Not everyone ends up doing the work to heal their past. And for many, they ‘manage’ (just about) without any sort of intervention.

But life isn’t about managing.

It’s about thriving, and living closer to our potential.

If you have scars from the past, you’re not alone. And the feeling of not being alone, can at the very least, bring some semblance of solace.

But it’s not enough.

After All — Here Are The Symptoms of Childhood Traumas

  • Addiction
  • Depression
  • Apathy
  • Insecure/Anxious Relationships
  • Passivity
  • Victim-hood Thinking
  • Lack of Ambition
  • Feelings of Abandonment
  • Self-hatred

These symptoms can all manifest to differing degrees. And we’ve likely all experienced one or more of these as adults.

When we realize that our present challenges, are often a partial or a complete symptom of what we’ve experienced in the past, we can bring more compassion to ourselves.

We don’t have to continually blame our present selves. We can realize that our present experiencing self is in large part, a manifestation of our past selves, and by correcting the cracks in our pasts, we can correct our present lives.

Modern Self Improvement Negates the Past

With the virality of motivational videos from people like Eric Thomas, Gary Vaynerchuck, and Tony Robbins, we’ve been told that the way to a better life is through hard work + strategy + hustle.

And while there is plenty of wisdom and value in some of the common ideas shared on success today, the common rhetoric about living a good life, is often void of a holistic understanding of what shapes us as human beings.

For many of us, very little will help us move forward in a significant way -until we’ve healed our past. A garden can’t grow until it’s roots have been tended to. A soil patch can’t grow thriving luscious wildflowers if it’s devoid of nourishment.

Stepping back and looking back at the story of our lives, and how that story is shaping our identity today, is perhaps the most productive thing we could ever do. It’s the metaphorical equivalent to tending to our roots.

Why We Replay the Past

The neurological basis for why we place a large emphasis on our past traumas is because our brain is attempting to warn us from the same thing happening again in the future. If something keeps repeating in our minds, according to clinical psychologist and author Jordan Peterson, it’s because we haven’t articulated how we can prevent the same occurrence from happening again.

By laying out the narrative of our past, speaking about it, and identifying how we felt during that period, and what lessons we can extract from our experience, our past can become a tool that serves us in the present. Without this analytical approach to our past, our past owns us.

Instead of us owning it.

A Simple Question To Heal your Past

Our past can either empower us, or it can negate us. Splitting apart your past in three epochs will enable you to identify the major negative experiences in your life more easily.

What were the three most significant dis-empowering moments and endings in your life between the ages of:

  • 0–7
  • 7–14
  • 14–21

By taking the time to think this through, and even write these experiences down, you’ll have 9 significant mini-stories that have partially shaped the story of your past, and your present identity.

From there, you can zero in on what you learned from those experiences, and the likelihood of them ever happening again. Doing so, will stop your brain from replaying these negative experiences. You’ll stop being led by these experiences.

Philosopher Daniel Kahneman shares in his TED Talk, The Riddle of Experience vs Memory, that we essentially are two selves. We are the experiencing self(present moment focused) and the remembering self (the one that keeps score of our story).

By honing in your past, you will be changing your remembering self, and your experiencing self. You will no longer be in the fog. You will be dissecting your past, so that it serves you.

Healing the past, will always be more important than conquering the future.


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Align Your Life With Your Passion

By danrecio

You’re reading Align Your Life With Your Passion, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Remember in grade school when everybody would ask you this?

A firefighter? Astronaut? How about president?

For me, it was a writer. I remember the weekends when my mom would take me to the library. I was a very active child and the only way to settle me down was with a book in my hand. When I wasn’t devouring tales of adventure and mystery, I would weave my own stories and share them with my classmates.

Now fast forward to your high school graduation.

You finally accept your diploma and the whole world opens up to you. After a decade of weeks structured into courses and periods, you now have the freedom to choose to do what you want. To be who you want.

Until reality kicks in.

You quickly learn that life isn’t very accommodating to your passions. It’s strange how your kindergarten dreams seem so distant on the cusp of adulthood.

Rather, you and I were indoctrinated to pursue what is practical. What works. What most closely guarantees an acceptable degree, an acceptable paycheck, an acceptable livelihood, which all leads up to an acceptable retirement.

Be practical. Be smart.

When I graduated college, I was quickly pressured to become a nurse. All of my family members, cousins, aunts and uncles, even classmates were in the medical field. They all said the same thing: It’s a good paycheck.

However, nobody told me how much they loved it.

Naturally, being the rebellious teenager I was at the time, I pursued what I loved: reading and writing. Rather than going to medical school, I declared myself as an English major. I got myself a job and paid my way through college.

At first, I loved it.

I loved reading literature and I loved writing about literature. Shakespeare. Hemingway. Yeats. These incredible writers were my heroes because I was forever fascinated by how these literary masterminds could summon thoughts from the universe and string them in beautiful sentences that inspire people.

I wanted that.

To write and inspire readers the same way that they did would be a dream come true for me.

However, somewhere in the process, I buried this dream. I replaced my passion for writing with anxiety and worry about my future. In my head, the same question played on an endless loop:

What am I doing with my life?

At this point, I was doubting my ability to become a writer. I was doubting myself. Even worse was that I was allowing others to tell me what was best for me.

People told me that I wouldn’t be successful as a writer. That I wouldn’t make money with a degree like yours. It’s not too late for me to do something more practical.

I dropped my Kindergarten dream of becoming a writer.

Feeling lost, I consulted with a career counselor and asked what practical and respectable careers could an English degree could lead me to?

Her answer: law school. Many English majors excel in law school, partly due to their writing skills.

Perfect! Becoming a lawyer was an acceptable, even admirable career choice. It pays well and is far more stable and structured than writing, right?

Law school it is then!

So, I enrolled in pre-law courses. Joined a club. Interned for the public defender’s office. Took the LSAT. I even quit my job to work for law firm as a legal assistant. I was so proud of myself for choosing a conventional career that was sure to make me tons and tons of money when I was older.

Then something started happening.

It wasn’t noticeable at first. It wasn’t quick nor sudden. Rather, it was a slow, creeping realization. A restlessness with this newfound plan I created.

I didn’t see all the red flags. I didn’t hear the question I desperately needed to hear: why am I not happy?

Everything that I’ve done for the past two years was working to get me into law school so that I could become an attorney. My parents were proud of me. My friends were proud of me. My professors were proud of me.

Why wasn’t I happy?

I arrived at the awful realization that this isn’t what I want to do.  I was a college graduate with no plan. I was terrified.

I sunk into a pretty awful emotional slump for a while. I was a wandering young man drifting through life. No goals. No plans. No passion.

Then one day, one of my English professors approached me about an event in which you can submit a paper and if it’s good enough, you can present and discuss it with a panel of fellow writers.

Why not? So I did it.

Something inside me ignited. Through the reading and the researching and the drafting and the editing, I was re-discovering myself. I was unearthing that dream I buried.

Presenting this paper was not a course requirement. I wasn’t being graded. I didn’t do it to build my resume either. I did it because I genuinely enjoyed doing it.

I realized that this is what I want to do.

My life leading up to that epiphany was me listening everybody else’s thoughts at the expense of my own. I gave permission to my family, my friends, and even my career counselor to dictate what was best for me.

In doing this, I removed myself from the equation that was my life. I forgot to factor in my thoughts and my feelings and my interests.

I’m not doing that anymore.

I understand now that your life is the compilation of all the little and big decisions that you make. With a big decision like deciding your future and your passion, you must take full ownership over it.

Because something as amazing as living a life with purpose also means choosing to pursue a dream that drives your passion. If becoming a lawyer or doctor is something you’re passionate about, do it! If being a writer or artist is something you love, do it!

Pursue what ignites your soul.

And it’s scary, I know.

Especially when you don’t have all the answers you’re hoping for.

When you’re unsure of where you’re heading in life, try asking yourself what was asked of you so many times in grade school:

What do you want to be when you grow up?

You just might find your answer.


Dan Recio loves sharing tips on how to create and achieve goals the smart way at Motivationalist. Set yourself up for a productive week with his free guide: 7 Sunday Habits to Conquer the Week.

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The Complete Checklist For Strong Mental Health

By Slavko Desik

mental health

You’re reading The Complete Checklist For Strong Mental Health, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

Feelings and thoughts, both pleasant and unpleasant, have one thing in common – a mind which experiences them. And this is an obvious truism that seasoned meditators pick up early in their practice. But what does it take, for a westerner, or someone who is unfamiliar with the mind, to develop strong mental health? To resist impulses, to build up fortitude, and to remain calm in the face of restlessness, anxiety, and fear?

Behavioral psychology will tell you to practice a certain set of habits. To lead a well-rounded live, which in the face of adulthood is often an act of balance.

Trying, therefore, to maintain balance, I’ve decided to create a simple checklist. With the help of my wife, who is a psychologist and Gestalt therapist, I’ve traced down the most productive habits. These represent the backbone – the proper framework – on which you can rest your mental health.

What is the mental health checklist?

If I had to put everything through a poetic lens, I’d say that our nature is multi-dimensional. A pragmatic division sees the average Jane as a biological creature, who is very intelligent, highly social, and self-aware. The mental checklist, therefore, needs to address a number of different verticals.

Routine

If you observe successful people who’ve put their lives together, you’ll notice a frequently shared trait – they all have a propensity towards forming and maintaining routines. And this is something that Jordan Peterson, who is a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto, will urge most of his clients to adopt.

The routine, although it can leave enough room for leeway, should dictate most of your waking hours. If nothing else, there should be a pattern by which you start your morning, go to work, eat, or end your day.

Fixed circadian rhythm

The circadian rhythm regulates the level of melatonin secretion, the plasma level of cortisol and your core body temperature. When out of balance, these can have a negative effect on every other system in your body.

To fixate your circadian rhythm, you’ll have to wake up at the same time every single day. Regardless of when you go to bed, make a conscious decision to get up at the exact same time.

Exercise

Although it feels like a layman advice, the importance of exercise is very much in sync with scientific rigor. It can effectively regulate hormones such as endorphin, dopamine and serotonin, allowing you to experience more positive emotions.

Exercise is linked with having a positive self-image, less significant mood swings, and physical well-being which is the precursor of mental well-being. Do note, however, not to mistake exercise with overly demanding routines – it is more than enough to get active, lose a couple of pounds, and make a habit to exercise twice or three times per week.

Having a creative or productive outlet

This is why it is very important for people to have a preoccupation – something to fill their most productive hours with. Whether that is going to work, investing energy into a personal project, or perhaps creating some form of art.

Our nature is to be resourceful, curious, and creative, so we must employ our mind on daily basis.

Social activity

Most people perceive themselves in relation to others. Social activity, therefore, should be an important entry in our mental health checklist. Through social occasions we work towards attaining status – and this is what regulates most of our positive and negative emotions.

To traverse, therefore, through the social hierarchy, we must practice our social skills, and make it an intentional habit to engage in social activities.

Healthy diet

Light and balanced meals can greatly contribute towards reducing your anxiety, depression, and overall restlessness. The more disciplined you are, the stronger your mental health. You should also make a habit of eating throughout the day, never skipping a single meal.

Sun and air

Regardless of what you do for a living, outdoor time must become one of your priorities. Adult life comes with a garden variety of responsibilities, so getting out in the open can be admittedly remote. Nevertheless, you must find at least 15 minutes and get the most out of it.

Familiarize yourself with the mind

The more capable you are of seeing repetitive patterns running in loop, the less likely you are to get overwhelmed by them. And this is achieved through either meditation or therapy. There are many affordable apps like Headspace, where you can learn to meditate, and equally many affordable therapists that you can visit once ever week or two.


Slavko Desik is editor-in-chief at Lifestyle Updated where he often writes about personal development, home fitness, and lifestyle design. Working together with his wife, who is a psychotherapist, his goal is to create easily accessible guides for leading a healthy, balanced life.

You’ve read The Complete Checklist For Strong Mental Health, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’ve enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

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7 Golden Rules for Self-Education in the Internet Age

By alicedavison

You’re reading 7 Golden Rules for Self-Education in the Internet Age, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

-Benjamin Franklin

The concept of education and learning has witnessed a paradigm shift since the internet came into the picture. Today, knowledge is no longer confined into the four walls of a classroom and can be gained or imparted from anywhere in the world. Now, as the wave of transformation is washing over the sphere of education, more and more learners are opting for the self-directed education process.

At a time when knowledge is literally concentrated within the palms of our hands, let’s explore some useful insights on pursuing self-education and learn the tips to study smarter.

  1. Learn to control what’s beyond you

It isn’t unusual for students to cower under pressure while dealing with an apparently intricate concept. This inevitably gives rise to anxiety and skepticism in the student’s mind while he/she is trying out the self-education method.

According to the eminent academicians, approaching a difficult subject or assignment will almost always be overwhelming, and trying to get over this jitter will ultimately offer a great sense of satisfaction. Moreover, it’s important that you put your brain through some sort of rigor, and these difficult subjects and lessons will provide just the opportunity.

  1. Utilize different mediums to learn valuable lessons

You can read insightful books, articles, and journals, join different online educational forums, attend seminars, and watch various documentaries. You should explore the different mediums and you can stick to one that inspires you the most. However, try not to restrict yourself to only a single source of knowledge, and make sure to evaluate and use the information in every form.

  1. Fixating over multitasking isn’t going to cut it

While it may be empowering and exhilarating to take charge of the learning process on your own, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have to resort to multitasking. In fact, learning and multitasking cannot happen simultaneously.

The beginners in the process of self-directed learning often tend to glorify the phenomenon of multitasking. This could be because they are apprehensive about committing to a single objective.

So, if you are new to the self-directed education process, you need to remember that you have plenty of time to learn. You should focus on one topic at a time and proceed to another learning objective once the previous goal has been achieved.

  1. Look for promising online courses

Many notable institutions are offering online learning opportunities, which are available at a nominal cost (or in many cases absolutely free). So, you can check out the online learning courses provided by websites like Myassignmenthelp, edX, Coursera, Udemy or Hubspot. If you don’t want to follow the set patterns of self-directed learning, you can definitely try unexpected sources of learning.

There are a host of online destinations that are increasingly effective in imparting the knowledge you require. Once you explore the options, you are sure to be spoilt for choice.

  1. Clearly determine your objectives

When you are approaching the self-directed learning method, it’s imperative that you stay committed to the process. This also means that you need to set specific goals that don’t sound like the New Year resolutions. Whatever the objective you are trying to achieve, you need to be focused and give yourself a strict deadline to accomplish it. This way you’ll have a parameter to judge your success and failure.

Other than that, there’s a mental shift, which becomes evident when you define the objective you’re working on. It’s almost like raising a child and it also develops a sense of commitment within you.

  1. Every information you come across will not be authentic

Even when you think you have gathered the most credible sources to study from, you should not approach the learning materials with a feeling that it must be 100% genuine.

When you go through different learning materials, you’ll notice that some of those are contradictory to the things you are already aware of. So, you need to be careful while researching the learning materials.

  1. Always follow up on the references

While reading about serious issues and topics, you’ll come across references from scientific articles, books, statistical sources, and other kinds of publications that the authors mention.

If you go through those resources, you’ll open up to a whole new dimension of the topic that you’re reading.

Parting note,

The human mind is capable of accomplishing the impossible, but it’s rarely utilized to its fullest potential. Self-directed education process serves as a great workout for the mind. While the traditional classroom setup is still quite prevalent, the self-learning system will definitely be useful to improve the process of education even further.

You’ve read 7 Golden Rules for Self-Education in the Internet Age, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’ve enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

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How to Overcome Stress, The Easy Way

By peternm

Overcome Stress With Mindfulness

You’re reading How to Overcome Stress, The Easy Way, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

Hey, don’t you think you’re a little over-stressed? Seriously, since when is it okay to let stress manage our lives? I argue that we don’t have to be at it’s mercy. As a matter of fact, I firmly believe that it’s possible to overcome stress using only thought. Personally, I’ve managed to greatly reduce my stress through regular mental exercise. I would even go as far as saying it was easy. Yeah, it takes time, but it’s not difficult.

Before I get into the how

Why You Need to Overcome Stress

Before overcoming stress, it’s essential to understand why you should even bother… After all, isn’t stress just a natural response?

Well, yes and no…

It’s true that stress is a natural response to a stressful situation (go figure…), but it’s a little more nuanced than that. The truth is, biologically, stress is a necessity. In a nutshell, it helped us escape from predators. The flaw here is, well, we don’t need to escape predators any more. In other words, our biology didn’t evolve at the same rate as our environment. We’re biologically almost the same as we were thousands of years ago.

Simply put, since the dawn of organized civilization, we’ve been getting stressed for all the wrong reasons. Stress was never meant to be constant, and it’s permanence in modern society brings countless issues. Literally, it has tons of negative symptoms. Among others, anxiety, a lack of motivation, sleep problems and much, much more… (Source: Mayo Clinic)

There’s a bright side though! It’s not a lost battle, humans have been blessed with the awesome power of the mind. We’ve got so much control over our lives, and I’m going to show YOU how you can exert that control, and never suffer the iron grip of stress again!

Overcome Stress Through Mindfulness

The secret is mindfulness. That’s it. If you can shift your mindset to focus solely on the present and it’s tasks at hand, stress will seem to fade away…

Easier said than done, right?

Well, not really. You really only need one trait in order to achieve a degree of mindfulness that makes stress manageable… Patience.

If you’re willing to give the practice of mindfulness time, you just will succeed. Now, you’re ready to practice, you’re patient, dedicated and tired of being a slave to stress… So, what now?

The 2 Simplest Ways to Improve Mindfulness

There are really only two exercises you need to incorporate into your life for this to work. Both of these will cultivate your conscious control. They’re also similar in the sense that they require, like any other skill, repetition to be effective. This is where patience comes into play, there’s no way to gauge how long this will take, but if you’re patient, you will succeed. Let’s get into the first step…

Affirmations

positive affirmations are a fantastic way to improve your self-image. The reason this is essential is because a positive self-image provides reassurance… And with reassurance comes a feeling of control over your environment. Affirmations don’t only help you overcome stress, they also boost confidence!

The process is pretty simple, seriously. You’ve only got to say something positive about yourself. This article about affirmations is a fantastic way to start!

Mindfulness Meditation to Overcome Stress

Meditation

You might be tired of hearing about the benefits of meditation…

But they’re all true! You wouldn’t believe how effective meditation can be when it comes to overcoming stress. It’s surprisingly simple, too. There are a few ways, but I would recommend remaining comfortable while listening to some relaxing music or binaural beats. Afterwards, focus on taking deep breaths and always bring your thoughts back to your breath.

It’ll be hard at first, but it’s worth it. Meditation has an incredible positive impact on mindfulness. However, overcoming stress isn’t the only benefit meditation brings to you. Among other advantages, when done right, meditation can greatly reduce regular, daily frustrations.

Seriously, include mindfulness practices like meditation and affirmations and you’ll be well on your way to overcoming stress. You’ve got the potential to control your thoughts, your perspectives, and your mindset through mindfulness. Once you overcome unbearable stress, mindfulness will only continue to improve tons of other aspects of your daily life. Stick to it!

Keep your head up,
Peter


My name is Peter, I run a blog called the Novel Mindset. I write all about mindset and success! I also run an awesome email list, subscribe for a free report, coincidentally showcasing 7 Surprisingly Simple Stress Busters!

Contact info: petermichael.re@gmail.com

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Stop Pushing – Start Trusting!

By DanaPharant

You’re reading Stop Pushing – Start Trusting!, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

“Write a book,” they told me.

“It’s easy,” they said.

Ha!

Not when you are bearing your soul in 200 pages, and detailing your business failures, and you want to make a book that’s worth reading!

Not when you are blending in a controversial subject of BDSM and your past as a Dominatrix and turning that into advice for business owners.

No, that is a very different story altogether.

There were many times I would go back and read my own chapter on ‘Digging In’ so that I would lean into the discomfort of writing one more chapter or taking it through one more edit.

The stories from the Dungeon were fun and lit me up to write and edit, but the ones about my business failures would sting. I would rotate between soothing the pain with a glass of wine (or two) and sitting my ass down to take one more pass at it.

It was tempting to give up, and there were times when I had to stop for a month, or more before coming back to it.

Having spent six years as a dominatrix, the best lesson I took away from the dungeon was how to lean into discomfort; not with teeth clenched and body tight, but with deep breathing, heart opening and surrender.

This is the spiritual aspect of Kink, surrendering to what is! This is the message of empowerment that I wanted to bring to business owners. THATis what got me back to the keyboard each time.

I love that I get to bring all of that energy work into how I run my business today. Leaning into each challenge has caused me to become the catalyst for my own growth, to be more, and have more.

Pick up any popular book on personal development and you will see most of them advocate for willpower and resolve to get through your challenges. For so long, we have been told to stick it out, find the strength, push through, with subtle messages thrown in to keep going despite all odds – even despite being sick.

That model is not working any longer. We are suffering from stress-related illnesses, our connections to other people have gone digital, and we are becoming more polarized with each other. It is time for a change in how we manage outcomes and approach people, our jobs, everything.

Time to get reconnected with our instincts and learn to trust ourselves so that we work joyously and efficiently instead of blindly pushing through, expecting that something good has to come at the end of all that effort.

Here’s what happens.

When we stop pushing and start trusting ourselves, we allow our magic to unfold. When we slow down, we can find our creativity again and pick up those incredible ideas that can propel us forward.

It can feel scary to stop pushing – if that is the only way you have ever run your life – but I encourage you to pause and lean into trusting again. There are tools that can help get you there – to help you loosen your grip on attempting to control every outcome.

It is a process of training yourself to react differently. Slowly conditioning yourself to ease off on the gas pedal and take some time away from the challenge in front of you.

Here is a small exercise: Next time something goes sideways or off schedule (big or small), try to feel the resistance and fear creep in. Breathe and ask yourself “what if this is not real?”. Now, imagine opening your body up and the fear flowing out of your feet and into the earth. Releasing the grip of tension until you can hear your own inner voice bubbling up; the one that gives you all those amazing ideas. You can only listen to that voice when you relax.

We will eventually hear the intuitive nudges of who to talk to next, how to write that email or, when it is time for a walk. Over time, this allows us to be more effective with less effort.

It allows us to finish the book!

In being a dominatrix, I became my biggest teacher. I learned that it was never about ‘power over’ as one would assume, but ‘power within’; the power to own who I was and the power to lean into trust. I hope to share those tools and my journey so more women will find the peace and happiness that comes from surrender.


Combining her 20+ years in the wellness and stress management fields along with her experience of building a 7-figure business, Dana Pharant leads her audiences in healthier habits, mindset strategies and authentic presence so they can tap into their inner power, be top performers and close more sales. She is an award-winning speaker, Amazon Bestselling author of Beyond Fear, her new book Inner Dominatrix Guide: Become a Badass in Business is now on sale on Amazon. www.danapharant.com

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