Confident Joy

What does it mean to be confident?
When you experience confidence, you exhibit and elicit a positive mindset, free from the negative perceptions of worry and doubt. The fundamental essence of confidence is trust. With confidence, you have a firm belief that an event or person can be relied upon and when that person is yourself, it is termed self-confidence.

There is a vast amount of research supporting a relationship between confidence and happiness. For example, a 2014 study of 200 students found that the increase in self-esteem provided enhancement to happiness.
Here are 8  Strategies to help you to build confidence:

  1. TAKE ACTION: Lacking confidence can make you feel stuck, like a poet without a muse. Moving forward with some type of action, even if small in scope, creates a new sense of freedom. Any action will likely expose you to new possibilities and as physics dictates, “an object in motion tends to stay in motion.” The action will be a catalyst for more action, fostering a “snow ball” effect. Making a commitment to move forward is key, so make a list of potential first steps, then choose one and do it.
  2. USE POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS: We tend to think with a negative bias. Another words, unpleasant thoughts, emotions, or social events have a greater effect on one’s psychological state than positive things. This can lead to adverse contemplation and information processing. To counter this effect, we can make a conscious effort to think good thoughts and value what is working in our lives. The use of positive affirmations (statements) are a proven method of self-improvement. Simply state or write the positive affirmation out loud and with conviction, several times a day.
  3. ACT CONFIDENT: Just as smiling can make you feel happy, acting confident can generate the feeling of confidence. You can fake it til you make it. This may require dressing for success and observing your body language. Make a point to maintain a straight, erect posture while maintaining good eye contact with others. Consider the traits of someone you deem confident and adopt them. 
  4. JOURNAL FORMER SUCCESSES: The act of laying down one’s thoughts to paper is an ancient tradition dating back hundreds of years. Writing can eradicate those blockages of the mind while providing a more positive understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Procure a notepad or booklet that speaks to you, perhaps with a special design. Choose a comfortable location that is peaceful and private. Begin a list accomplishments and positive outcomes from the past, then make a point to review the list every day.
  5. VISUALIZE: As previously stated, the human brain can lack the ability to differentiate between what is real and what is imagined. Seeing is believing and believing is seeing. Creative visualization is a process that can rapidly accelerate any achievement and take our potential to a whole new level. Take the time to imagine an optimum scenario and let it play out in your mind bringing you a sense of clarity and purpose. Practice your “dress rehearsal” several times a day and allow the affiliated emotions to flow.
  6. HIRE A PERSONAL (LIFE) COACH: A personal coach will be an advocate and will focus on strengthening the personal perspective. A coach can help to “raise the bar,” enabling the client to increase expectations of themselves and the situations they encounter. A coach will fortify a client’s foundation, providing a revised sense of focus and understanding. With the advent of the internet, coaching can be done remotely. Consider doing a bit of research and making contact with a reputable, certified coach.
  7. LOSE THE FEAR TO FAIL: Fear of failure is a powerful emotion that can stop you in your tracks.  But what if we look at it differently? What if failing was simply a powerful catalyst for change? If we can reframe failure as the opportunity to learn and grow, we can view life as an adventure in contrast, accepting what is. Losing attachment with an outcome and trusting the flow of life, enhances our ability to feel good about ourselves and our world.
  8. VALUE SELF: Self-love and self-care are not egocentric, narcissistic, arrogant, or conceited. Love of self is not just a feeling but an action. It requires a kindness and nurturing of body, mind, and soul. Think of someone that you truly adore and let the feeling of love permeate you. Now take that blissful feeling and turn it towards yourself.

Confidence isn’t easily achieved overnight. Confidence can ebb and flow with the tides of life. It can take years and even decades to develop. You can be on top of the world until a situation or person sucks the life right out of you. It is similar to trust in that both beliefs are aligned with firm foundations in the traits of ability, reliability and strength. Confidence in someone or something familiar may be based on similar past events. For example, if a friend has enacted a betrayal of any sort, the natural human instinct is to mistrust that person or lack confidence that they have the ability to provide for your safety. In the latter case, confidence or trust in that person must be rebuilt. And although promises are nice, a new pledge of allegiance may not suffice. The proof is in the pudding. After a betrayal, consistent action is required, along with accountability, honesty, and a compassion for forgiveness.

Yet, confidence in a new situation or person may be more ingrained in the personality, likely learned in childhood. There are a variety of childhood experiences that may contribute to a child’s mistrust and lack of confidence. These absorbed core beliefs learned in childhood can be easily be carried into adulthood. Any painful past event, even just one, can leave scars that cause a person to build walls around their heart for a lifetime, to protect themselves from future pain. This makes it difficult to trust, to have confidence.

The good news is that confidence for yourself, another, or a situation can be healed and rebuilt. The key to confidence is always trusting that you have your back. Whatever situation occurs, you have the ability to not only adapt, but to thrive. Using strategies outlined here, we can have hope in a future for ourselves that is free of doubt and worry.

Expoloring Your Life’s Purpose

Have you struggled to find your life purpose, why you are here? The idea that life has personally purpose is not dedicated to only a chosen few and it does not necessarily equate with your daily job. Everyone is special in some way or many ways, everyone has merit, and everyone has purpose – yes even and especially you. In the words of a dear friend, “the beautiful light inside of you is meant to be a beacon of hope to others. You are here for a very important reason.”

A study conducted among adults over the age of 50 living in the UK found that the factor most closely tied to authentic happiness is a person’s belief that their life has purpose. Living a life of purpose provides fundamental life presence and authenticity which leads to less anxiety about the direction of life. That feeling that your life has purpose has the ability to provide resilience and the motivation to move forward, because it’s a calling. Who can resist a calling?

Your life purpose may be simple or complex. It can be specific or broad. There are those that believe purpose is related passion, that thing that moves your heart strings. Here is an exercise that you might find helpful to determine your life purpose. The more open you are to this process, the more successful you will be at getting a result and the less time it will take to achieve that result. Pray for guidance before you begin.

Finding your life purpose in 20 minutes:

  1. Find a blank sheet of paper or open an electronic document where you can type.
  2. Write at the top: What is my true purpose in life?
  3. Then write an answer, any answer that pops into your head. It doesn’t even have to be a complete sentence, just write something. A short phrase is fine.
  4. Now simply continue repeating step 3, writing more things, until what you write makes you cry. It could take many pages to get there, yet continue to this end.

The idea is that when you are overcome with emotion, with passion, you’ve found it. To some people this exercise will make sense, to others it may appear trivial. Sometimes it’s best not to analyze too much and just go for it. If you persist, you will find an answer that moves your heart. As you progress, some answers may be similar seem repeated. That’s fine. After 50 or 100 answers, you may get distracted, want to give up, or may even get aggravated. Push past these feeling and continue on. You may feel emotion about certain answers, yet they may not bring tears. Keep track of those. Put a star by them because they may be a link to the final answer. Try to do this exercise alone and in a quiet environment. If you find that your mind is not in the right place to begin, put the paper away for a later time when your heart is open it.

A potential final answer might be, “to live consciously and courageously a life of compassion to awaken a great spirit within others, to leave the world a better place.” This could be considered a broad purpose. How might someone make this happen?

After about 20 minutes, this is what I arrived at: “to live authentically, capturing the essence and beauty of life, spreading the loveliest parts of it to those I encounter, thereby bringing to them peace, love, and understanding.” Sounds good right? I arrived at what seems a beautiful life mission, but even so, there were no tears. Is this my life purpose or what I want to be my life purpose?

The epiphany came a few weeks later when a major breakthrough occurred. As I sat with my coffee early one morning, I opened my laptop and read the introduction to a book I was writing. Upon reading the last sentence, not only were there tears, it made me sob. That was it. My purpose is to write for you. The exercise opened the door to the awakening. Thank you for taking part in my passion and life purpose. Now it’s your turn to give it a try, to explore your life purpose.

“If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.” ~Bishop T.D. Jakes

Thought Awareness

Your thinking and how you analyze the world around you has evolved, mostly unconsciously, over your lifetime. Your training and experiences have shaped your worldview and because no two people experience the same life, how you think is distinct to you. This is a good reason not to be judgmental of others; you have not lived the same experiences as they have. Their belief system, and yours, will be unique to personal experience.

The average person has up to 60,000 thoughts per day and according to research conducted by the National Science Foundation, 80% of those thoughts could be negative and 95% repetitive. Most people don’t monitor their thoughts in an effort to improved them. If we are not diligent with our thinking, thoughts can easily run amuck, especially when they are habitual. It’s hard to stop a snowball rolling downhill and when you continue to think those habitually negative thoughts long enough, they become a belief.

In order to break the cycle of the negative monkey mind, you must be diligent with identifying those thoughts. You need to basically stalk yourself. Pay attention to the thoughts you think and begin to question the origin, i.e., “where did that thought come from?” Ask yourself if your beliefs are justified and valid. Keep a journal. I have a friend whose father has always been very consistent about telling her how stupid she is. As she began to accept it, the thought became part of her subconscious mind. It soon grew to become a belief, a very harmful belief that is absolutely not true. So every time she tells herself how stupid she is, she needs to correct herself saying something like, “that untrue thought came from my dad. I am smart about many things.” So keep in mind that the negative thoughts you think might not have originated from you but from someone else that has influenced you, and the sooner that you replace those thoughts with a positive thought, the better.

Although thoughts, as well as the stalking of thoughts, can be painful. The practice can teach you a great many things about yourself and those around you. Growth requires self-examination. “Even though you may not actually like the feelings of inner disturbance that may come from asking key questions, you must be able to sit quietly with yourself and face them if you want to see where they come from. Once you can face your disturbances, you will realize that there may be a layer of pain seated deep in the core of your heart. This pain is so uncomfortable, so challenging, and so destructive to the individual self, that your entire life has been spent trying to avoid it. Your entire personality is built upon ways of being, thinking, acting, and believing that were developed to avoid pain. Real growth takes place when you finally decide to deal with the pain.” From The Tethered Soul by Michael A. Singer.

Exercise: Bounce technique

When experiencing a negative thought, bounce it away with a positive thought instead. Simply replace the thought with a better feeling thought. Draw a line down the center of a tablet or piece of paper, creating two columns. When you catch yourself having a negative thought, write it in the left column. Then draw an arrow leading to the right column and re-write the statement in a positive version. This will assist you in shifting your thoughts. Whenever you catch yourself in the left column, replace the thought with the right column. For example:

Words are a byproduct of our thoughts, and words, in themselves, hold a great deal of power. Pay attention to the words you use and how you use them. Never allow yourself to speak unkindly to yourself or about yourself. You may think Self-deprecation to be funny, but is it really? In reality, it’s a way of reprimanding yourself by belittling, undervaluing, or disparaging your identity. Doing so does not honor you. As they say, to thine own self be true. There is nothing in this world that can trouble you as much as your own thoughts. To be in joy, you need to accept yourself in a loving manner. Choose your words carefully and not just when speaking about yourself, but also when speaking about others. It could be said that we receive in return that which we choose to put out into the world, so choose your words and thoughts wisely.

Even so, the seas of life will surely rock your boat at times, but you can choose your response to the storms. You are not the bad feelings nor thoughts that you get in your head. You are not the storms you walk through. You are the person experiencing the storm. The storm may knock you off your feet, but you are strong. You will rise again. Either the weather will change, you will find shelter, or you will look the storm in the eye with resilience and fortitude, because you know that storm cannot hold you back indefinitely. When you can keep a healthy perspective, your wrath exceeds that of any storm, so be mindful of your thoughts and choose wisely.

“No thought lives in your head rent-free. Each thought you have will either be an investment or a cost.” ~ T. Harv Eker

What Is Love?

Do you recall the first time that you fell in love? How did it feel? Were you walking on clouds? The experience of falling in love can bring about a mixture of many emotions. You may have felt:

Butterflies dancing in your tummy

Anxiousness at seeing them again

A yearning to plan a future with them.

So is love a feeling, or is it a choice? If a choice, does choosing to love require action? Is love an action verb? Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase, “love is not enough.” How can love not be enough?

To love and be loved is precious, but if we do not show love, is it still love?

I heard a story recently, told by a man, we’ll call him Joe, who felt called to visit a guitar store while returning to his hotel room, after picking up some food. He didn’t need a guitar, yet he felt called to make the stop. Upon arrival he found a kid jamming on an electric guitar. Joe reached out to the boy and started a conversation with him. The kid opened up to Joe. He told him about his drug addiction and how his father had recently committed suicide. Joe displayed so much love for him that the kid wants him to meet his girlfriend and daughter who are shopping next door. They walk next door and Joe prays with the family, then he blesses them by paying for all the items purchased. They are blown away by Joe’s act of compassion. It was such a blessing to them and there seemed no strings attached. The family thought there surely must be a catch.

As they depart, the kid returns to the guitar store to play yet another guitar. It seemed a coping mechanism. Joe then learns from the family that this kid has not talked to any man since his father took his own life. And a year prior, the kid had sold his guitar to bail himself out of jail, due to a drug violation. The kid had stopped using drugs at that point, but now, no longer had an instrument to play. Joe was so moved by what he heard, that he then went back into the guitar store and bought the kid a guitar, replacing what was lost. There was no judgment, no negative opinion, and he didn’t simply hand him cash, he showed him love. Had this family ever felt such love?

In our society we tend to identify ourselves by what we do for a living.  Joe identifies himself as “a guy that loves people.” We should all aspire to such selfless action. What would our world be like with more Joes in it?  I encourage you, as you move through your day, to not just feel love for others, but to BE love. Perhaps we should not focus so much on our standard of living, but more on our standard of giving.

If you are old enough to remember Mister Rogers, you may recall this quote, “There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.

Genuine love should not be based on words alone or false deeds, but grounded on authentic actions. Love doesn’t just trust or hope, but it completes specific acts for the purpose of accomplishing those things for which that are trusted and hoped.

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” – 1 John 3:18-19

I would encourage you to look for ways to give the gift of love to someone over the coming week. Look for opportunities to give to someone in need.  It doesn’t have to be monetary. It could be a simple service. Here are some ideas:

  • Open/hold the door for someone
  • Be gracious: say thank you, look people in the eye, be sincere
  • Make something and give it away
  • To those that want to be seen, SEE THEM.
  • To those that want to be heard, HEAR THEM.
  • Run an errand for the elderly.

To make a difference in someone’s life, you don’t have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful, or perfect. You just have to care. Surely we are capable of that. Happiness can be found when we take the opportunity to bless others.

 If you feel troubled, instead of getting MAD about an event or circumstance, go MAD. Make A Difference for someone else. You will be amazed at how it makes you feel. We can serve others, not out of ego, but out of getting in touch with our true nature, which is love. You were made to love. Not only are you love, you are loved, loving, and lovable … always.

The giver is bigger than the receiver. If you want to be large, larger than life, learn to Give. Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get – only with what you are expecting to give – which is everything.

The importance of giving, blessing others can never be over emphasized because there’s always joy in giving. Learn to make someone happy by acts of giving.”

~ Katharine Hepburn

(from Everything Good in the World)