Music Coloring Page from Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal

Hi everyone! This is my fifth week sharing coloring pages from the soon-to-be-released Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal (available for pre-order now.) Previously, I shared:

How would you answer the question in the middle?

It’s hard to narrow down my favorite music, as I imagine is true for most of us. But there are certain songs that are particularly meaningful to me because of the memories they evoke, including:

1. Wonderwall, by Oasis (which I played on repeat, with friends, for much of my sophomore year of high school)

2. The whole soundtrack to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (because I was in the children’s choir in a performance with Donnie Osmond for several months during my senior year)

3. So This is Christmas, by John Lennon (one of my favorite holiday songs, and the finale number of one of the most memorable regional shows I did in college)

4. Mad World (the song my boyfriend sang at karaoke the night we met, a song I already loved from Donnie Darko)

5. Cheer Up, Sleepy Jean (a song we often sing to commemorate my late grandmother Jeanne, when my aunt pulls out the karaoke machine)

6. Sweet Caroline (a song I’ve sung while jumping many times at karaoke, and a few times with fellow Red Sox fans near my hometown in Massachusetts)

7. Pretty much everything from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Coldplay, RadioheadDavid Gray, and Ray LaMontagne, for far too many reasons to list.

Now I’d like to hear from you! What songs and musicians do you most appreciate, and why?

If you haven’t already, pre-order your copy of Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal here, and you’ll instantly receive three free bonus gifts!

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal is available for pre-order now. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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Why Surrendering to Life is the Key to Positive Change

“Surrender to what is. Say ‘yes’ to life and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.” ~Eckhart Tolle

“Surrender” in current colloquial language equals failure. According to the Oxford Dictionary, without an object, surrender means to “stop resisting to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.” With an object, it gets even worse: “Give up or hand over (a person, right, or possession), typically on compulsion or demand.”

How then can surrender be the key to joy? How can it be winning?

At age thirty, I was defeated by life. Down for the count. But, I did not get back up on my feet until I surrendered.

I had led a charmed life until then. I got into every college to which I applied and went to my top choice. I graduated summa cum laude and got into a similarly impressive grad school, where I also graduated at the top of my class.

After a White House internship, I landed a job at a top investment bank and had moved to an equally prestigious consulting firm. I had lived in and traveled to dozens of countries. I was a winner.

Or was I? Life had thrown me a string of curveballs: health problems, friend problems, romantic problems, professional problems. While, to an outsider, I might have appeared to be “living the dream,” the “dream” entailed eighty-plus hour workweeks and constant travel. After a few years of this, my life had totally unraveled, and after knowing nothing but success, I encountered nothing but failure.

The stress and over-work likely contributed to a string of illnesses, hospitalizations, and surgeries.

I was exhausted after more than ten years of sleeping on average less than five hours a night, and my weight had yo-yoed drastically.

My partner of three years had left me, telling me, to boot, that it was essentially never “a real thing” to begin with anyway. A second equally intense relationship ended in a similar way.

All of this happened when I was living as far away from my hometown as you can get on the globe, and after being so busy for so long, I had almost no one to turn to where I was living. I was completely untethered.

I just wanted it all to end, to make the pain go away. One day, I literally found myself on the floor with a bottle of pills in my hand, contemplating suicide. I almost followed through, but something happened, or actually, a lot of somethings did.

One of the very first somethings that happened was that I became aware of the self-talk in my head and was able to disassociate from it, listening to it as a separate entity.

Perhaps its most recurring commentary was some version of “this isn’t how it was supposed to happen.” I had achieved so much so early in life and worked so hard. I should have been rich. Happy. Successful. Instead, I was a mess.

It was all these “shoulds” that almost killed me because they left me stuck in a mental construct of my own making, set up in opposition to what was actually happening.

At the beginning of a long recovery process, perhaps the key moment came when I was able, however briefly at first, to occupy a reality without these shoulds and instead face whatever was at that particular moment.

It was only later that I was able to grasp the significance of that first moment of surrender. Surrender is not giving up on life but giving up fighting with life. And, when you’re not fighting with it, you’re working with life.

At first, our moral sense is offended by this. In a totally just world, there are a lot of things that should be. People should be nice to each other. Good things should happen to good people. But, if we take this to its logical conclusion, we’re all born innocent, so shouldn’t everyone just get what he or she wants? Shouldn’t only good things happen to everyone?

Beyond the facts that what is “good” is often in the eye of the beholder, and the “goodness” of what appears to be a “bad” or painful or unfair event is often not revealed until later, all of these good things that should happen are far beyond our control.

However, there are a lot of shoulds we can control. We can control our own actions and reactions (while of course allowing ourselves to err). We can act in this world how we should according to our own convictions.

This is how surrendering, far from waving the white flag, becomes the ultimate tool for empowerment and positive action.

When I was able to stop wallowing in the unfairness of what life dealt me and all of the shoulds that never came to be, my mind was free from the rumination and recrimination that led me into that deep state of depression.

When I stopped fighting with my situation, my scope and options for positive action became clear, and at that point I was in full control of the little space in life that I actually could control—me.

I stopped questioning the situation in which I found myself. Some of it was unfair, the result of what I took to be other peoples’ unjust actions, but at the same time, a lot of it was the result of my own actions, as well as pure chance. While I learned some lessons looking backward, the key to my recovery was accepting where I was and look forward to how to get myself out of it.

My immediate action was to seek help, first from friends and then from a therapist, something I would have previously stigmatized as self-indulgent. Overcoming the shame of that opened the floodgates of what was possible for me, and everything was up for grabs.

Within six months of that, I changed so many of the things that were not working for me—my job, my location and my relationships. I crafted a life that worked for me rather than fighting the one that wasn’t.

By dropping the shoulds, I am now able, in my clear-thinking moments, to act without opposition from life and more quickly move to consider my course of action.
Not only has this been emotionally liberating, but I know I have made countless better decisions as a result. Each day there are a thousand little victories, all thanks to surrender.

The logic neat and simple, but the practice is difficult. I get confused and caught up and stuck, but the state of surrender is progressively becoming more and more of my natural default. Some of the lessons and tips I’ve learned to get to this place that I would recommend:

1. Allow yourself to vent—up to a point.

As imperfect beings, total, ongoing and permanent surrender is unrealistic. We will feel negative emotions about experiences not meeting our expectations, and we need to allow ourselves to feel those feelings. It often helps to express them to a sympathetic ear. To a point.
Venting of negative emotions is useful insofar as it allows us to liberate ourselves of them. However, prolonged or frequent venting can also lend momentum to these feelings. It can actually serve to build up opposition to life by hardening feelings of injury and strengthening those shoulds.

So, pay attention to your venting. Is it releasing the negative energy around opposition to life, or is it adding to that energy? If you’re the one listening to the venting, ask yourself the same question of the person doing it. If the venting is adding to the negative energy of the situation, consider trying to divert that energy toward something positive and creative.

2. Remind yourself that surrender is not giving up.

At the beginning of this blog post I deliberately focused on the commonly used definition and connotations of surrender because of the strong biases language can impart on our subconscious thought.

Prior to my own awakening, my brief forays into new age thinking and the new consciousness had always ended up with me dismissing it all as a bunch of hokey-ness that turned people into vegetables. If they were always just so accepting of what happened, how could they ever actually accomplish anything difficult or messy or complex?

I still sometimes revert back to this thinking, but then I recall: surrender is not giving up on life but on fighting with life. Indeed, not surrendering to reality—questioning the fairness, goodness, or logic of the present moment—is crippling. You’re saying “no” to reality: “No, but that’s not fair! It’s not right!” Okay maybe that’s true, but where can you go from there?

Surrender is saying “yes.” “Yes, I accept that this is a terrible situation, and the way I can make it better is…” This is how surrender becomes the key to taking positive action and frees us from so many of the negative emotions that we strengthen by opposing reality. We don’t say that what’s happening is okay, but we accept that it’s happening and move onto what we can do about it.

3. Be the happy warrior.

It’s something of an oxymoron, but the “happy warrior” tends to be more effective vs. the angry warrior, or, what we see more commonly, the person plodding along with grim determination. In fact, the war imagery probably misses the mark altogether, but we all can relate to the happy warrior type, so let’s stick with it.

When we haven’t surrendered to reality and are still fighting it, negative emotions are inevitable, and we are, by definition, engaging in a futile endeavor. In this case, we become the angry warrior or the grimly determined one. That was me for so many years—I hunkered down, determined to endure all of life’s slings and arrows, all the while missing the joy of the journey.

Maya Angelou once said, “What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.” If you’re still complaining or not accepting the reality, how can you change that reality? You’re probably still stuck in the complaining phase.

That aura of negativity or hopelessness that comes with a failure to surrender is, to be blunt, a real turn off for most people. If you want to be the change you want to see in this world and inspire others to a cause, the angry warrior type is probably not going to work.

This is vitally important in these times of so much social strife, and as fundamental questions of what kind of society we want to be arise every day. Eckhart Tolle has addressed this very point when talking about “angry peace activists” and agents of change.

Think about some of the most socially impactful figures in the last 100 years—Martin Luther King Jr., the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Mother Theresa—these are happy warriors.

Their optimism was infectious in winning people to the cause, and this optimism stemmed from accepting reality as it was and moving on immediately to the “how do we change this?” phase. They began by surrendering.

Remember the Buddha. While sitting beneath the tree of knowledge, he was able to turn all of Mara’s arrows into flowers and remain in a state of equanimity. In a sense, you too can do that by not turning the obstacles that life puts in your way into personal affronts against you.

When you accept what life gives you—when you surrender—you avoid creating all of the negativity that rejection entails. You do not disrupt your own peace. From that place of peace, you can affect change.

In my journey, I eventually wasn’t able to continue fighting life, brought down into depression by the impact of all of those arrows. Nowadays, I can’t say that I immediately accept all that comes my way, but my willingness to surrender to life, if not turning the arrows into flowers, certainly makes the journey more joyful.

And, when you have joy, you are more likely to achieve the end you seek, or better yet, find peace in the journey regardless of the destination.

It all starts with surrender.

About Joshua Kauffman

Joshua Kauffman is a recovering over-achiever and workaholic. Leaving behind a high-powered life in business, he has become a world traveler, aspiring coach and entrepreneur of pretty things. Amateur author of a recent memoir Footprints Through The Desert, he is trying to find ways to share his awakening experience, particularly to those lost in the rat race like he was.

Get in the conversation! Click here to leave a comment on the site.

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Tidy Home, Tidy Mind – How Your Surroundings Can Affect Your Mental Health

You’re reading Tidy Home, Tidy Mind – How Your Surroundings Can Affect Your 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.

They say a tidy home equals a tidy mind, but if only it was as simple as that! Whilst a clean environment won’t necessarily solve all of your problems, it can actually have a great impact on your day-to-day outlook and mental health. Whether you’re suffering with stress, feeling overwhelmed or struggling to find motivation, your surroundings can have a dramatic effect on your mood. You may not notice this straight away and you may shrug it off as a non-issue but it is definitely something that’s worth thinking about. We all have those days, where we come home from work tired and all we want to do is collapse on the sofa or crawl into bed. After a long and stressful day the last thing you want to do is see to the pile of dishes, the stack of unopened mail or pile of internet shopping you’re still yet to open.
Waking up and having to deal with a messy house every day can severely impact your motivation, concentration and it’s simply not a great way to start your day. It’s wise to clear a little bit of time to organize the chaos, and then reap the benefits of a calm and tidy home.
Clear the Clutter
The first step to a tidy home is getting rid of the clutter, a time consuming yet worthy task. You’ll need to dedicate a weekend to sorting through all of your items – think minimalist! You don’t have to get rid of all of your worldly possessions but think about what you do and don’t use. You’ll be much happier living in a home that isn’t crammed with unnecessary objects. It will give you space to breathe and a much more organized mind. This is especially important if you ever work from home, after all how much can you really get done in a messy and uninspiring environment?
Sort through the Paperwork
Bills, bills, bills! Those annoying weekly reminders that you owe money on your credit card can soon mount up and before you know it you’ve got piles of unopened mail all over the place. Buy a cheap shredder and spend an afternoon shredding all of your documents and sending them off for recycling. You’ll feel a weight off your shoulders and hopefully you will finally be able to see extra space on your kitchen worktop! Be sure that any sensitive information is destroyed and say goodbye to the mess. Give your important documents a new, organized home so that you can easily access them, without having to trawl through 100s of unopened letters.
Give the walls a fresh lick of paint
Did you know certain colors can affect a rooms Feng shui? Create the perfect ambience with an intimate, peaceful setting using all the right shades. Opt for calming colors such as a soft neutral green, lavender and grey. Avoid harsh colors such as red, magenta and violet as these will have the opposite effect and can also make rooms appear smaller and more cramped.  Try and ensure your rooms are letting in as much natural light as possible too, as this is much more calming than fluorescent lighting. Bright open spaces are much more satisfying than dark, cluttered rooms which can leave you feeling depressed.
Add a touch of green
Did you know plants are great mood boosters? Good Feng Shui plants are the top air purifying plants, these are ones that provide clean, good quality air! Make sure you opt for an areca palm, bamboo palm, English ivy, rubber plant or lady palm for a gracious flow of energy in your home. Plants to avoid include cacti for their spiky energy! Not only will these plants provide you with zen, they’ll also add a beautiful touch to your home.
Following these simple steps, de-cluttering your life and organizing your belongings will make you feel hugely motivated. An untidy home can feel hugely overwhelming, don’t stress yourself out trying to transform it into a minimalist haven overnight, it will take time but will be so worth it in the long run. Once you declutter you will be able to think more clearly, feel more positive and enable you to enjoy a more welcoming and comfortable living area to appreciate. For expert advice regarding a tidier way of living, be sure to check out Marie Kondo’s bestselling book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up’ it will change your life forever!
Happy de-cluttering!

Matilda is a firm believer in self-development, spirituality and a tidy home! She is a freelance marketing manager for interiors boutique Homeward Bound Interiors and enjoys nothing more than travelling the world in search of inspiration in all aspects of her life!

You’ve read Tidy Home, Tidy Mind – How Your Surroundings Can Affect Your 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.


Ketamine: A Miracle Drug for Depression?

A team of researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently discovered why the drug ketamine may act as a rapid antidepressant.

Ketamine is best known as an illicit, psychedelic club drug. Often referred to as “Special K” or a “horse tranquilizer” by the media, it has been around since the 1960s and is a staple anesthetic in emergency rooms and burn centers. In the last 10 years, studies have shown that it can reverse — sometimes within hours or even minutes — the kind of severe, suicidal depression that traditional antidepressants can’t treat.

Researchers writing in the August 2010 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry reported that people in a small study who had treatment-resistant bipolar disorder experienced relief from depression symptoms in as little as 40 minutes after getting an intravenous dose of ketamine. Eighteen of these people had previously been unsuccessfully treated with at least one antidepressant medication and a mood stabilizer; the average number of medications they had tried unsuccessfully was seven. Within 40 minutes, 9 of 16 (56 percent) of the participants receiving ketamine had at least a 50 percent reduction in symptoms, and 2 of 16 (13 percent) had full remission and became symptom-free. The response lasted an average of about a week.

In a small 2006 NIMH study, one of the first to look at ketamine for depression, 18 treatment-resistant, depressed (unipolar) patients were randomly selected to receive either a single intravenous dose of ketamine or a placebo. Depression symptoms improved within one day in 71 percent of those who were given ketamine, and 29 percent of the patients became nearly symptom-free in a day. Thirty-five percent of patients who received ketamine still showed benefits seven days later.

In the most recent study published online in the journal Nature in May 2016, researchers discovered that a chemical byproduct, or metabolite, is created as the body breaks down ketamine. The metabolite reversed depression-like behaviors in mice without triggering any of the anesthetic, dissociative, or addictive side effects associated with ketamine.

“This discovery fundamentally changes our understanding of how this rapid antidepressant mechanism works, and holds promise for development of more robust and safer treatments,” said Carlos Zarate, MD, of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and a study coauthor and pioneer of research using ketamine to treat depression. “By using a team approach, researchers were able to reverse-engineer ketamine’s workings from the clinic to the lab to pinpoint what makes it so unique.”

In response to the Nature report, Sara Solovitch of The Washington Post wrote that “experts are calling [ketamine] the most significant advance in mental health in more than half a century.” She reported that many academic medical centers, including Yale University, the University of California in San Diego, the Mayo Clinic, and the Cleveland Clinic, have all begun offering ketamine treatments off-label for severe depression.

It all sounds too good to be true, right?

The Drawbacks of Ketamine

The predominant drawback of ketamine is the lack of data.

There haven’t been enough clinical trials on the drug to assure its safety, and there’s a lack of information on the long-term effects of its use.

Ketamine’s effects are also short-lived. To be used as an effective antidepressant, it would need to be administered regularly, which leads to concerns about addiction, tolerance, and, again, long-term effects. The data that we do have on long-term use comes from people who have taken ketamine recreationally, as well as those who have used it to treat chronic pain. One 2014 study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology included among possible side effects psychedelic symptoms (hallucinations and panic attacks), nausea, cardiovascular stimulation, memory defects, and bladder and renal complications.

Still, the drug holds promise for uncovering new ways of treating depression and offers hope for the most severe and complicated mood disorders that baffle psychiatrists today.

“Unraveling the mechanism mediating ketamine’s antidepressant activity is an important step in the process of drug development,” said Richard J. Hodes, MD, director of the National Institute on Aging, about the most recent NIH study. “New approaches are critical for the treatment of depression, especially for older adults and for patients who do not respond to current medications.”

Join Project Hope & Beyond, the new depression community.

Originally posted on Sanity Break at Everyday Health.


I Matter Too: Self-Compassion in Action

“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” – Jack Kornfield

Raise your hand if you are a caregiver, either personally or professionally. Do you spend your days looking after the wellbeing of family, friends and/or clients? At the end of a long day or an even longer week, do you feel “all gived out”? As a therapist and consummate caregiver in most of my relationships, I would often admit that my compassion meter was running a quart low. I would find myself feeling impatient and annoyed with the drama that swirled around me. That’s when I knew I needed to examine the areas in my life in which I was neglecting that which I was showering on others.

Compassion is defined as:

“sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.”

In many spiritual traditions, compassion is a core value. The task at hand may be to allow for the people we love and even those we may never meet, to have their own experiences even if we can do nothing beyond sending them good intentions and wishing healing for them in whatever form they most need. Being free of judgment about whether a situation is good or bad, is one challenge I have encountered over the years. Like every person on the planet, I have experienced love and loss, joy and sorrow. The measure of my maneuvering through them has a great deal to do with a certainty that all would work out for the Highest Good. Sometimes that sense of knowing was elusive. It would show up like a prn — as needed — medication to provide a healing balm amid confusion and chaos. That was when I most needed a hardy dose of self-compassion. AND that is when I was least likely to be able to offer it.

It was when I was in a yoga class many years ago, gazing at a statue of Kwan Yin who is known as the Goddess of Compassion that I literally heard her comforting voice questioning why I was so hard on myself and wasn’t I ready to drop the struggle and love myself as is, where I was at any given point along the stretching spectrum.

It was not the first time, nor would it be the last that sweat wasn’t the only liquid that splashed on the mat. Healing tears cascaded down as I realized how often I judged myself for not being “enough,” or “too much,” as a means of over-compensating for my perceived shortcomings.

I became adept at hiding the truth of who I was so I wouldn’t evoke disapproval, which at times felt like obliteration. If friends and family could see beyond the facade I desperately gathered around me like a cloak of protection, they would know that this seemingly confident woman harbored insecurities. Who doesn’t want it to appear that they have it all together? I have wondered if clients and friends knew how I truly felt at times, they would confide in me or trust my therapeutic abilities. I was speaking with a client today about that idea and expressed gratitude that none of us have thought bubbles over our heads that let others in on the workings of our minds.

What might yours say?

My friend Ondreah is going through an ordeal that sadly, many are experiencing as someone diagnosed with breast CA (she prefers to refer to it as “C” and notes that she is on the “C train” as she eschews the words “cancer” and “chemotherapy”, referring to them as IV meds.). A career home care nurse, she is now on the other end of the stethoscope and on the receiving end of care and treatment for a condition she never anticipated facing. All the compassion she poured forth for her patients is now coming her way, from the outside. The inside is a whole ‘nother matter. Sometimes harshly critical of herself, she would question how this condition had developed and what she as a psychologically astute, spiritually exploring medical professional would have to deal with it and what skills she would bring to bear to face the inevitable dark nights of the soul that accompanied it.

As we spoke recently, she offered these words of comfort to herself, “If I am conscious of you (meaning herself), the place I would be coming from would be gentler and encouraging. Cut yourself a break. You didn’t do this on purpose.” She continued the word ramble, “My body feels an urge to move and why can’t I move? I wish my body would move faster. Can I give myself a break and be gentler with myself? No one else would make me wrong for feeling the frustration. Hurry up and get over it. Can I say I love myself? Where do I feel it? I am sometimes pushing my way through it,” and on it goes with no solid sense of resolution.

I wonder what it would take for each of us to hold ourselves with the same sense of love and compassion, being easy on ourselves, only ‘going as fast as the slowest part of us feels safe to go.’


Goodbye, Things: Find Peace of Mind By Letting Go of Your Stuff

Fumio Sasaki is a 35-year-old man living in Tokyo. Tired of the materialist society he grew up in, Fumio moved to a studio flat in a new neighbourhood and discarded nearly all his possessions. His new book Goodbye, Things tells the story of how getting rid of his stuff transformed his life. He spoke with writer Kate Bermingham about how his life has changed.

Kate Bermingham: What possessions do you still own?

Fumio Sasaki: I have about 20 pieces of clothing, including underwear. My electronic devices like MacBook Air and Kindle are incredibly useful. My new home came preinstalled with most of the furniture and electronics I need, so I was able to let go of most of my own items in that category.

If you ever feel you don’t have your possessions under control, I think that’s the time to start decluttering.

On the other hand, there are some things I now have more of. I started cooking every meal, so I have more cookware and utensils. My interest is shifting to DIY and farming, so I imagine I will be getting more tools and equipment for those. I intend to continue to let go of things I don’t need, get new things without hesitation when I feel I truly need them, and make small adjustments as necessary.

Kate: Why did you decide to get rid of your material things?

Fumio: It’s because I felt material things were sucking up my time and energy. Material things are originally meant to entertain you or make difficult tasks easier for you. But if they accumulate beyond the amount you can manage, you end up having to spend a lot of time and energy on maintaining them or work long hours to pay for them—the things you own end up owning you. If you ever feel you don’t have your possessions under control, I think that’s the time to start decluttering.

Kate: How has your life changed since you simplified your home, and what impact has this had on your health and happiness?

Fumio: I have more time because I don’t have to spend as much time going shopping or taking care of what I have. I can go out at any time because my room is always clean. With the freed-up time, I have been able to go out a lot more, which led to meeting people and making new friends.

The fact that I am able to properly maintain my possessions and keep my home tidy and clean gives me a modest boost on my self-esteem that radiates to every area of my life.

Above all, I feel content. The fact that I am able to properly maintain my possessions and keep my home tidy and clean gives me a modest boost on my self-esteem that radiates to every area of my life. While I still find myself wanting something from time to time, I no longer feel envious of others or that there’s something missing. This allows me to consistently experience a sense of peace and fulfillment.

Kate: Is this lifestyle popular in Japan? Do you have any friends who have made a conscious decision to pare down their possessions?

Fumio: Even within the minimalist community I personally know, there are over a hundred people. (The number increases every day so I can no longer keep track.) In Japan, minimalism received a lot of attention from the media—I was interviewed by at least a hundred companies based in Japan alone—and more people are practicing it now.

While I still find myself wanting something from time to time, I no longer feel envious of others or that there’s something missing. This allows me to consistently experience a sense of peace and fulfillment.

This trend is being echoed around the world—for example, my book has sold over 80,000 copies in Korea. Now that my book is being published in 13 languages, every day I gratefully receive comments from readers all over the world saying minimizing has made a difference in their lives. I don’t think everyone has to become a minimalist per se, but I do hope all would benefit from even just the essence of it.

Kate: Do you have any tips for readers who are keen to de-clutter their homes and lead a simpler life?

Fumio: To let go is not to lose but to gain. When you let go, something new will inevitably come and fill in the empty space you created. It’s like breathing in during yoga: you can only inhale as much as you exhale.

5 Ways to Declutter Your Home (and Mind!)

Five Ways to Declutter Your Body and Mind

The post Goodbye, Things: Find Peace of Mind By Letting Go of Your Stuff appeared first on Mindful.


Pagan couple arrested trying to gain property by adverse possession

WAUZEKA, Wis. — Two Milwaukee area Pagans were charged with entering a locked building during a first court appearance Monday. Brandon Wantroba, known as Alabaster Dubois Degrandpre-Lysone Chiaramonti, and Elizabeth Percy Ryder, known as Fiona Dawn Feria, were discovered by Crawford county sheriff’s deputies at the Kickapoo Indian Caverns near the town of Wauzeka. They were living at the former tourist attraction in an attempt to gain the property by adverse possession.

The pair wished to create a Pagan sanctuary.

[Photo Credit:]

The 83-acre property, which was shut down in 2011, was known for its cave system. It contained an underground river, large chambers, and thriving bat population. That cave system, which had been attracting tourists since the 1940s, also caught the eye of Mr. Chiaramonti and Ms. Feria.

“We were searching for a place with caves to make into a sanctuary and found this one abandoned,” said Feria.

The couple said that they first tried to contact the owner of the property, the family of  Delores Gaidowski, who died in 2014. Gaidowski’s family had put the site up for sale in September 2015, which is currently listed at the reduced price of $499,000.

However, Chiaramonti and Feria received no reply. They then contacted an attorney to find out if they could take the title to the property through adverse possession.

Adverse possession is a process in which a person who is not the owner of the property lives on, and makes material improvements to, the property for 16 years and is then granted title.

The attorney reportedly advised against using this tactic, but Chiaramonti and Feria say he did give them guidelines on the legal process.

They say that they arrived at the caves on May 7 and set up camp in what was the gift shop at the front of the caverns. “The property was a mess. There was trash everywhere and we worked to clean it up,” says Feria.

Chiaramonti agreed the land was being abused and wasn’t cared for.

On May 10 the Sheriff’s office received a call from the property’s caretaker that someone appeared to be staying in the gift shop. A deputy responded to the call and talked with Chiaramonti and Feria. After noting the lock on the gift shop door had been forced, the pair were arrested.

[Photo Courtesy Chiaramonti and Feria]

Both Chiaramonti and Feria say they followed the guidelines for adverse possession and were looking to take care of the caves and surrounding property. Their dream was to create a Pagan sanctuary where all Pagans could feel welcome. They had renamed the property Silent Grove and posted a sign with the new name.

Feria, a disabled veteran, is still looking forward to raising the money to buy the property. Chiaramonti, formerly of New Orleans, said he feels an obligation from his now deceased mother to create a Pagan sanctuary.

The pair has competition for the property. The Mississippi Valley Conservatory (MVC), a non-profit environmental group, is also looking to purchase the caverns. The group says it wishes to protect the bat population, which is endangered by white mouth disease.

As of yet, the MVC needs to secure grant money for a possible purchase.

MVC has also accused the pair of sending them threatening letters. Feria denies that, saying they never sent a letter to MVC.

She did admit to sending a letter to the owner’s reality company, asking them no to no longer contact them. But, she added that the letter wasn’t threatening.

Chiaramonti and Feria’s next court appearance is June 5. Both are out on bond. The single charge they face, entering a locked building, is a class A misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 9 months in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.


The Stop Worrying Today Course is Now Open to Join (but Closes on Monday)

The 7-week Stop Worrying Today Course is now open again to join.

If you join during this period you also get free life-time access to all the material in my The Invincible Summer – an 8-Week Course in Optimism as a special bonus.

Plus, you get free access to 6 extra bonuses I created last summer.

The registration to join this course will only be open for 5 days this time, until 1.00 p.m EDT (that’s 17.00 GMT) on Monday the 29th of May.

Click here to learn more and to join the course

I started working on this course two years ago but it all started 10 years ago when I made a decision to not let this toxic habit limit and control my life.

And this course is filled with all the best things I’ve learned about that in the past decade.

These are the strategies, exercises and simple step-by-step methods that have helped me to stop worrying so much.

The habits that have been a true life-changer for me.

How would your life change if you stopped worrying so much?

Each week of the course you’ll get a written guide, a worksheet to help you gain better understanding of your own situation and results as you go through the course and an audio version of that week’s guide that you can listen to anywhere when you need a boost.

At the end of the weekly guide you’ll get just a few specific action-steps to take that week to minimize the risk of you feeling overwhelmed and getting lost in worry again.

Because I want as many as possible to not only to read the information. But also to take small steps forward each week to make a real and lasting change in their lives.

In this course you’ll for example learn how to:

  • Understand the 5 basic reasons for worrying. So you can understand yourself better and where you need put your attention.
  • Use the same small, 3-step method I use to put a stop to a worry in about 2 minutes so that I can relax and fully put my focus and energy into what I want.
  • Start your day with a morning routine that only takes a few minutes and will get you off to a day of less worries popping up in the first place.
  • Work through and overcome persistent worries by using a step-by-step exercise that will help you to finally see the situation and what you can do about it with clear eyes.
  • Stop getting lost in worries, fear and in limiting yourself so much. And start living a lighter, happier and less anxious life where you go after – and stay on course towards – what you deep down want in your life.

And a whole lot more.

The window to join The Stop Worrying Today Course closes at 1.00 p.m EDT (that’s 17.00 GMT) on Monday the 29th of May.

Click here to learn more about The Stop Worrying Today Course and to join it



Can You Forgive Yourself?

“My problem stemmed from not forgiving myself.” – Shannon A. Thompson

Each of us has done things we’re not particularly proud of. It could have been something major that brought great harm or pain to another. Maybe it was some trivial matter, an action we didn’t think all that much of initially but later learned had consequences. The human tendency is to internalize the guilt, shame and sadness and repeat the self-condemnation over and over. This is not good for overall mental health and well-being, nor is it any way to live life.

The question becomes, can you forgive yourself? It’s often easier and less problematic to say we forgive others than to look directly in the mirror and grant forgiveness to the person staring back at you. If, however, as experts say, forgiveness of self must take precedence for any real healing to begin, it’s better to figure out a way to say, “I forgive you” to yourself and mean it.

Forgiveness is not walking away.

It’s important to recognize that forgiveness doesn’t mean you walk away from what you’ve done. On the contrary, you need to take responsibility for your actions, however difficult and involved that may turn out to be. No, you can’t take back your deeds, words and thoughts but you can make changes so that you behave differently from this day forward.  It is by your actions that people will know you, or look at you with a changed viewpoint if your prior actions harmed them or caused them pain.

How do you begin to forgive yourself?

But how do you begin the process of self-forgiveness? In one respect, it involves taking the broad view. If you try to scrutinize every mean thing you said or thought or did, the task may seem overwhelming. You’re more likely to give up than go on. Here’s a less overwhelming way to get started.

  • Tell yourself that you resolve to do better and take full responsibility for your actions.
  • Then say the words, “I forgive you” while you look at yourself in the mirror. This process is literal, not figurative. Stare at yourself while you say the words. This helps reinforce your intention to self-forgive. It may not seem effective at first, but if you repeat this daily at the same time as you make changes in your behavior to put the weight of your action behind your intention, you will begin the healing process.

How long does it take for self-forgiveness to work?

Most of us are all about answers, quick ones at that. It may come as no surprise, however, that learning to forgive yourself isn’t one of those quick and easy remedies. Like anything that’s worth doing, this process takes time, diligence, effort and hope. You must believe that there is a way out of self-disgust, self-hatred, self-recrimination and self-blame for self-forgiveness to have a healthy chance of success.

Instead of always measuring how you feel and holding your emotions as a yardstick to be constantly scrutinized, go with the flow. Get busy doing things that broaden your horizons, help you interact with others, do something good for someone else without any thought of reciprocity. Getting outside yourself and your concerns is a therapeutic way of soothing your conscience and furthering the self-forgiveness you so want.

When self-forgiveness becomes natural.

Over time, you’ll spend less of it focusing on whether you’ve forgiven yourself and more of it living a fulfilling, productive life. That’s really the motivation to forgive yourself, the prospect of moving forward with goals and working to achieve your dreams. When you no longer feel the need to think about self-forgiveness, it’s become second-nature. You’ve evolved to a higher state of well-being, one that is enriching, hopeful, loving and helpful.

Will this process be easy? For some, it may be a bit easier than others. Don’t expect that it will be without setbacks, however, for that is not realistic. You’ll have good days and bad days, yet the forward momentum that comes with growing self-forgiveness will begin to overtake any negativity. That’s when you’ll know that self-forgiveness has become natural.


To Succeed in Marriage, Clear the Decks

Do you have unfinished business? Most of us do. It’s important to gain a sense of closure about a past relationship in order to succeed in a new one.    

Closure, in the psychological sense, means “the state of experiencing an emotional conclusion to a difficult life event.” 1 Typical situations that call for closure are the loss of a romantic partner, spouse, or parent. Another can involve grieving the absence of a healthier home environment in which one was raised.  

Loss of a romantic partner

Are you still emotionally attached to someone who’s no longer in your life? Some people try to quickly replace a former partner who they thought was “the one” before grieving the loss. They may crave reassurance of their desirability, a companion, or something else. But they are still quite vulnerable because they haven’t yet “cleared the decks.” So their new relationship is not likely to be satisfying for long.

What if you loved him (or her) and still do, and you can’t believe it’s really over. Maybe you were more “into him” than he was into you, meaning you thought it was serious but to him it was casual.

If you rush into a new relationship before processing your thoughts and feelings about a previous one, you might come across as needy, tense, or controlling. Or you may choose someone who is not good for you. By first taking care of your unfinished business, you will be more confident, relaxed, and self-accepting.

Julie’s Pattern

Julie hoped to marry. A successful executive with a ready smile and engaging personality, she attracted men easily — when she was ready. Ready is the key word. She’d been in many relationships with men who weren’t interested in marriage. After each breakup, her self-esteem plummeted. She would feel miserable for months or longer. In this state, she wasn’t ready for a new relationship. Finally, she would return to her vibrant, confident state and attract a new man.  When that relationship fell apart, so she would she, and the cycle continued.

Grieving Ultimately Boosts Happiness

Happy people attract happy people. We need to finish grieving a significant past relationship before we’ll be ready for a good new one. By allowing ourselves to experience and accept all of our feelings around a loss, we clear out our insides. A sense of contentment returns.

Grieving a failed relationship can include learning from the past. Think “no mistakes; only lessons.”

Julie’s Lesson

Julie learned an important lesson from her short relationship with Hank, her final going nowhere one: she should learn a man’s reason for dating before allowing herself to get emotionally involved. Hank was romantic from the start. He seemed entranced by Julie. As he was leaving at the end of their fourth date, she asked him during their long goodnight embrace when she’d hear from him again. He’d tensed up, backed away, and said tersely, “I don’t like to be pressured. Don’t pressure me.” After he left she felt awful; she knew it was over, at least in Hank’s mind.

But she wasn’t ready to let him go. For two days Julie was miserable. She did some journaling to process her feelings.

She wrote him a letter saying how upset she felt about his pulling away. She wanted to get him back. But then she thought, “Why send the letter? I want marriage and he’s afraid to commit even to another date!”

Instead of sending the letter, she phoned him to say goodbye. She said she noticed that his pattern was to pull away when they were getting close and that she wasn’t interested in a casual relationship. After a stunned silence, he asked in a quiet voice if they could still be friends. “Of course,” Julie said, understanding this meant that they were agreeing to be polite if their paths crossed.

After ending the call, Julie felt a surge of relief. This is closure. She was amazed that it happened so quickly. She had finished grieving in two days; she was over him and ready for someone better for her. She now knew that she should date only one kind of man — the marrying kind.

Within a year, she was married.

Julie learned that she couldn’t be fully present with a new man until she had sufficiently freed herself from being emotionally attached to another one.

Grieving the loss of a spouse

After losing her husband through divorce or death, a woman is likely to feel devastated and overwhelmed. From moment to moment, she may feel angry, hurt, shocked, betrayed, numb, guilty, abandoned, lost, or bereft. She has lost her lover, companion, and a big piece of her identity, because she is no longer a wife.

The effects from such a loss are typically long lasting. There is no timetable for grieving. But the sooner you allow yourself to experience your uncensored thoughts and emotions, to yourself, a caring friend, a skilled therapist or grief counselor, or other empathic listener, the sooner you can expect to grieve satisfactorily. But again, there is no timetable. When you’re ready to move on, you will.

If you are still stuck in a mode of recrimination, guilt, or anger after a spouse’s death or after a divorce, an attempt to succeed in a new relationship is likely to be premature.  

Unprocessed Feelings after Divorce Cause Problems

I’m a speaker at an annual retreat for singles. Dina attends regularly. She is petite, smart, and charming. Men are drawn to her. Last year, I figured out why she keeps coming back instead of getting married. I happened to overhear her tell a man about what a louse her ex-husband was to both her and their teenage daughter, who was standing close enough to hear her.

How can Dina be fully present with a new man when she is so full of resentment toward her ex that she feels compelled to unload it on men she meets? My heart went out to both her and her daughter. When a mother airs her complaints about her ex-husband to their daughter, she drives a wedge between her and her father.  

Before she will be ready for a good relationship, Dina will need to find healthier ways to grieve, and to take responsibility for any part she may have played in the failure of her marriage.

Grieving the Loss of a Parent

Women who, during childhood, lost a father, or step-father or other father figure, through a divorce, abandonment, or death, and have sufficiently grieved their loss, will probably need to do so before they’ll be able to create a successful marriage.

I think that to a child, divorce is a huge betrayal of trust. In children’s minds, an implicit contract states that their parents will stay together and always be there for them.

Grieving is a clearing process. It makes it possible for our minds and hearts to be fully present for a current or future relationship.

How to Grieve

People find many ways to grieve. Journaling or talking with sensitive friends about your thoughts, feelings, and memories can be helpful. So can allowing yourself to release pent up feelings by crying for as long as you need to. Many people are helped via therapy, grief counseling, or a grief support group. By doing whatever it takes to process a loss, we make room for something wonderful to enter.