How I Learned to Love my Mistakes.

get elephant’s newsletter

A few years ago, I made what I like to call the best-really-terrible-mistake I’ve ever made in my life.

It was a poor romantic decision that left me emotionally bruised for quite some time. It forced me to take a good, hard look at myself.

I’m hesitant these days to even call it a mistake at all. It’s interesting to look back after all the work I’ve done to get over it, and I wonder—if someone had told me with absolute certainty about the way those decisions would play out, would I have made different choices?

That truly would have been a mistake.

As difficult as the fallout was (and believe me, it was pretty awful), I’m extremely grateful to have gone through it. It dramatically changed me for the better.

I had a conversation with a friend recently about something similar. She was feeling badly about the way her life looks, about things that have happened in the past, about the fact that she doesn’t think she’s as far along in life as she should be.

She was spending a lot of time comparing herself to other people she knows, using their progress to feel worse about her own.

She was so focused on this train of thought that she was wasn’t able to do any of the things she needed to be doing to achieve her own goals—neither the big, ambitious stuff nor the mundane daily tasks.

She was stuck.

It made me think of how I do the same thing. I spend an awful lot of time lamenting all the stuff I’ve done wrong in my life. It’s so easy to do. There’s a sick sense of comfort in being able to blame the reality of my current situation on past missteps, bad decisions or the harm caused by others.

And it leads to the comparisons: Look how much money that old school friend is making now. Look how happy my ex is with a new love. Look at all the exciting things this coworker does on the weekends. Look at all the ways I’ve been screwed over by life.

When I’m wallowing in all of that, I don’t have to bother doing anything about any of it.

So I get stuck. I flail around and whine about injustice and resign myself to unhappiness about all the things I can’t control.

I do nothing to help me accept certain facts that are truly outside my influence, and nothing to move past the rough patches. When I’m sitting in that kind of discomfort and fear and letting myself lack the motivation to take any actual action, I’m just furthering that pain. I have no option but to keep feeling that way.

Nothing changes if I don’t change.

What can I do instead?

Take some action! Let go of that fear, if only for an hour or so, and do something. Explore possibilities. And stop feeling so darn bad about where I am.

I’ve worked really hard to remember on a consistent basis that I am, at any given moment, exactly where I need to be.

There’s no point in wasting my energy on wondering why things turned out a certain way or wanting them to be better. Because I’ll still be here, right where I am. And everything I’ve had to go through to get right here has been important—the joyous, the hurtful, the memorable and the mundane. All of it has been a step on my personal path.

I don’t always love change. I don’t always love learning lessons. I don’t always love the way things work out.

But if I’m going to make any positive progress in my life and, more importantly, if I’m going to be able to recognize that progress for what it is, I have to remember to honor all those things I don’t love. I have to embrace my mistakes. I have to be grateful for all the times I didn’t get what I thought I wanted.

I have to know that where I am right now is an important and beautiful place to be.

Even when it hurts. Even when I feel like everyone else is happier and more successful than me. Even when I have to watch another person enjoying what I feel should have been mine. Even when all I want to do is curl up in a ball and feel bad for myself.

Especially then, because that’s when I have the greatest opportunity to do something about myself and my life.

I’m filled with gratitude for the unknown. When someone gives me advice, they usually aren’t able to say for sure how something will turn out. I’m glad it’s that way, that there’s always enough uncertainty about the future that I can choose to forego their advice and forge ahead with my own ideas.

I often learn a lot more that way.

Maybe it would be great to be the kind of person who never makes mistakes, but then I’d never have the opportunity to look back and say, “Wow, that was a stunning failure, and it was my right as a flawed human being to have that experience. Perhaps now I can manage to not do something exactly like that ever again.”

And I’d never have the opportunity to go make my next-best-terrible-mistake.

Maybe I do sort of love all those tough lessons after all.



Author: Shannon Fuller

Image: Flickr/danabooo

Editor: Callie Rushton

Astrology is not a Substitute for the Spiritual Path.

get elephant’s newsletter


Suffering brings people to spiritual practice.

We might pick up a book about spirituality because we are curious or looking for a good read, but we don’t commit ourselves to the painstaking work of transformation unless we want to change. And the motivation to change is rooted in suffering.

The word “suffering” sounds generic and impersonal, but the experience of suffering is anything but.

Suffering manifests in our lives. Suffering is our discontentment, fear, anger, jealousy, depression and stress. These feelings arise within the context of our relationships and careers, in which we have some of the most deeply personal experiences of our lives.

I’ve recently noticed the popularity of Astrology and other forms of spiritual bypassing.

On the spiritual path, there are no shortcuts. Suffering arises as a result of causes and conditions, and we must address those causes and conditions if we want to be free of suffering. We can’t wait for the planets to align or for a flattering horoscope. We have to work with our mind.

As modern people, we often feel stuck between our ears. We don’t experience the world as it is. Rather, we think about it. This cuts us off from the vitality of the present moment. We feel disembodied, discontented, lifeless, which gives rise to insecurity.

Kleshas are emotionally charged thoughts. They aren’t innocent thoughts like, “Why are donuts round?” or “I wonder why turtles are green?” They are thoughts that push our buttons like, “I wonder if she likes me?” or “Do I look fat in this dress?”

Kleshas prey on our insecurities: trigger our fears and send our mind into a frenzy. We start thinking about our own thoughts. “I wonder if she likes me,” we think casually. “I’ll give her a call.” No answer. Half-an-hour goes by; we check our phone a half dozen times. No response. Another hour goes by, “Maybe she didn’t notice I called; I’ll call her back.” No answer. “She’s probably with Michael. It’s obvious she likes Michael. That son of a b*tch. Every time I like a girl, he does this. To hell with the both of them!”

The first thought pushes our button, triggering an inbred cycle of thought. The second thought, thinks about the first thought; the third about the second. And we carry on in this way until we are five, ten, twenty thoughts removed from the present moment. Each successive thought pushes the insecurity button again. We are like a caged rat in a scientific experiment, except we aren’t getting cocaine; we’re getting fear and anger—a big ole helpin’ of adrenaline.

So our thoughts begin racing. As our thoughts gain momentum, much like a ceiling fan, they no longer look like individual blades spinning in space. They look like a solid disk.  We begin to mistake the story between our ears for reality. We start hallucinating. And to make matters worse, we make decisions based on this hallucination.

We pick up our phone and shoot her a text message saying, “I don’t deserve this. You should at least call me back or tell me you’re not interested.” Then we see her response: “WTF?! What are you talking about? I’m visiting my mom this weekend and can’t talk right now. Psycho much?” Suddenly our thought bubble is popped and we are plunged from our dream world back into reality. We feel lathered in embarrassment, which pushes our buttons, cuing up the same insecure thought process.

It is a vicious cycle.

A similar process occurs when we go to sleep. We dream up all kinds of fantastic scenarios. We go on magical quests, great adventures or have nightmares about being attacked by lions or crocodiles. However, when we wake up in the morning, we know they were just dreams. In our dream, the lion is a mirage or a hallucination. Interestingly enough, in dreams, so are we. The body running from the lion is not our “real body.” Just like the lion, it was a mental construct. And so is the act of running. Subject, object, and verb—the whole scenario—are a hallucination.

So it is with daydreaming or the stressful narrative where many of us feel stuck.

This does not mean that nothing is real. There is a dream-like image that we hold over our experience. This is what we think about the world. It is our commentary on reality. Often times, we mistake what we think about the world for the world itself. And when we do, we cut ourselves off from the basic awareness of the body and migrate up into the head where we live as a false-self. Any life organized around a false-self is bound to be insecure. The ego is our primary button.

When we observe our mind, we see that the immediacy of our true life is veiled by a dream-like overlay. This conceptual veneer is comprised of various thoughts. The mind thinks about its own thoughts until that conceptual cloud becomes so dense that the light of basic awareness no longer breaks through.

A meditation practice enables us to break through this cloud by slowing down our thoughts.

We bring our awareness to the breath, which is anchored in the present moment. When we notice our mind drifting off, we return to the present moment by reconnecting with the experience of the breath. We use the breath to break the cycle of thinking about our own thoughts. As a result, the mind settles. Thought no longer looks like a solid disk. We see the gap between each propeller. The light of basic awareness shines through that gap.

This is called a spiritual experience. And such experiences are transformative. If we do this every day, we can actually unlearn this habit of consciousness.

Everyone wants to be happy. No one wants to suffer.

But suffering is inextricably connected to the inner-workings of our mind. Freedom from suffering is contingent upon our willingness to work with our habits of thought and behavior. There is no short-cut or secret that will alleviate our suffering.

A good horoscope reading will not save us from discontentment, fear, anger, jealousy, depression or stress. Suffering has nothing to do with the alignment of the planets. It has to do with the alignment of our mind. A meditation practice places the mind at ease.


Author: Benjamin Riggs

Image: flickr/Stephen Brace

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

President-Elect Trump responds to Buzzfeed Story & Confirms It. [Allegedly]

get elephant’s newsletter


While these allegations are serious (and scary), they are just that—allegations. As of now, the claims in this document are entirely unsubstantiated. No person or agency has gone on record yet to confirm them. I was hesitant to publish this story, mostly because I don’t agree that a Trump tweet is trustworthy confirmation of anything these days. But I respect the author’s right to share his view. If you feel inspired to respond, please do so with the same respect. ~ Nicole, eleditor


Initially I was skeptical about the Buzzfeed story alleging Russia had compromising personal and financial facts about President-Elect Donald Trump.

The story is unverified, and therefore, not news.

It was rumor—until now.

Yesterday, American Intelligence confirmed that they briefed both President-elect Donald Trump and President Obama on information that alleged (should that be present tense, alleges?) Russia possesses compromising personal and financial information about Donald Trump. They were presented with a two-page synopsis, which was pulled from a 35-page classified report that also accused Donald Trump of colluding with the Russians. This 35-page classified document  was supposedly leaked to Buzzfeed and published Tuesday night.

President-elect Trump confirmed during this morning’s press conference that he was briefed by U.S. Intelligence about the classified report. So we know that U.S. Intelligence has a report about Donald Trump’s involvement with Russia, but that doesn’t mean the document published on BuzzFeed was the same document that Trump and President Obama were briefed on.

Enter Donald Trump’s Big Mouth and Tiny, Tweeting Hands.

This morning Trump took to Twitter to blame American Intelligence for the leak. And again in his press conference. In doing so, the President-Elect confirmed the source of the Buzzfeed article:

  1. He and U.S. Intel have confirmed that he was briefed on the matter.
  2. He admits to having seen the document published on Buzzfeed.
  3. He blames U.S. Intel for leaking the information.
  4. Therefore, he is saying what is on Buzzfeed is what he saw in this briefing.

He may be denying the truth of the report, but he has verified the source—U.S. Intelligence. And we must take him at his word because he is not just some loud-mouthed celebrity anymore. He is the President-elect of the United States. 



Author: Benjamin Riggs

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Editor: Nicole Cameron

Three Ways to Be a Real Man.

get elephant’s newsletter

Happy new year, everyone!

We made it to the other side.

I should start by saying I’m not a huge holiday spirit kind of guy. I really don’t feel like much would be lost in my life if all the celebrations suddenly disappeared—especially the Alabama Christmas album…sorry Mom and Dad.

Despite that, this time of year means so much to so many people. During this time when emotions run high and everything feels somehow more important, I find it’s a really good opportunity to think about how I interact with others. Specifically, this time of year makes me consider my role as a man.

So in the spirit of the classic “What I did on Christmas break” homework assignment we completed as elementary school kids, I’d like to offer you three main reflections on what I learned about being a man during this holiday season:

Lesson #1: The Impractical Gift.

Giving my girlfriend a gift that wasn’t “practical” made me uncomfortable, but she appreciated it so much that I’ll probably do it again.

I’m not the greatest at gift giving and fall in line with most other men in thinking that the only gift worth giving is the one that’s practical.

I often think things like, “She mentioned she liked my pressure cooker! That’s what I’ll get her for Christmas because this will benefit her life for years to come and that’s what a gift is supposed to do!”

So when mid-December rolled around and nothing “practical” came up, I was forced to switch it up. Instead, I got tickets to Toruk, the Avatar-inspired Cirque de Solei show playing in my city over Christmas.

The non-practicality actually turned out to be really awesome—the tickets were a really simple way for me to take the lead, create an adventure that she could get excited about, and make her feel special and cared for.

After all, everyone knows nothing kills love in a relationship faster than boredom and monotony.

By not immediately telling her what we were doing, I had an easy way to fill her with anticipation, wonder, and curiosity about what I had planned—all great feelings to have in a relationship that’s been going on for years. While you can definitely create that same feeling with a gift sitting under the tree, the upcoming adventure gave more opportunity to tease her about the surprise, which she seemed to enjoy.

Lesson #2: The Selfless Schedule.

Accommodating her needs made me much happier than making demands of how I wanted Christmas to be.

Over the past few years, I’ve tried to make a focused effort to not be yet another person my girlfriend has to try to accommodate and make happy during the holidays. The mantra in the back of my mind during this time of year is something like, “No drama, low maintenance—the world doesn’t end if you can’t spend Christmas Eve with her.”

Since it’s important to my girlfriend that she spend a lot of time with her family, I’ve taken it as an opportunity to practice selfless love.

I set aside my desire to spend the entire holiday break with her and said to her, “Okay, I understand that you are juggling a lot of people’s specific schedules. You decide which days work best for meeting your family, and I’ll just fill in the gaps.”

Similar to taking the lead with an impractical but fun gift, I considered this taking the lead in the relationship from a position of support.

Rather than insisting my needs are met first, I reassured her that whatever time we spent together was okay, and she didn’t need to worry about me being upset because I might not get to see her on Christmas day specifically.

It was a fantastic way to keep the stress and anxiety down that can so easily spiral out of control. Things were much more relaxed and loving between us.

In addition to this, I decided to take this idea of selfless love one step further this year.

In an absolutely unprecedented move, I suggested to her on multiple separate occasions that we watch Christmas movies together.

So thanks to how good Netflix Canada is compared to the American version, we ended up watching Love Actually, Arthur Christmas, and Talladega Nights (don’t ask why she chose that one because I don’t know).

When I asked her how all of this made her feel, she said that being able to put her family’s schedule first and watching Christmas movies together was like giving her permission (not that she actually needs it) to enjoy the Christmas spirit without feeling personally responsible for my enjoyment.

That’s a big deal for women who are often told, either directly or implicitly, that their job is to make their families happy.

And if “permission” to enjoy a special time of year is spending an hour or two cuddling on the couch during a movie—well, it was a remarkably low investment to make for how awesome it made her feel and how much better it made the rest of the relationship.

Lesson #3: The Importance of Dance.

I still don’t enjoy dancing much but it’s so worth it.

This final lesson came to me in the middle of a slippery dance floor a few hours before the traditional screaming of “Happy New Year!” and the obnoxious sounds of blowing horns and streamers.

As you may have guessed by now, I’ve never been one for much dancing, but when you’re with a girlfriend who is literally the first person on the floor, things kinda have to change.

Even though I was a bit low-energy from a heavy Christmas meal and not overly excited by the DJ’s choice of music, it was amazing to me that all I really had to do was step left, snap my fingers, step right, and snap my fingers to make her feel so happy and loved.

On the ride home from this event (once the vehicle had finally warmed up enough that she could actually talk), she said to me, “You were so great. Thank you so much. It meant so much to me. I love you.”

It was a welcome change to having the age-old battle about “You never like to do anything fun with me.”

Now I know that seems like an extreme oversimplification, because I’ve spent many of my younger years fighting to remain on the sidelines.

Back then my thoughts sounded something like this: “I don’t want to dance. I’m not good at it, I don’t know what to do, I feel awkward and stupid, and people are gonna laugh at me. These stupid hip kids are doing some fancy wiggly gliding sh*t and I have no idea how they learned it or what they’re even doing and I’m just a tall skinny white guy and what am I supposed to do?”

This mess of thoughts has paralyzed many men into total inaction such that when a girl says, “Come dance with me!” he can only give a stern look and respond with “No. I. Will. Not.”

I think that many men get this idea that if we’re going to draw attention to ourselves, then we better look like we know what we’re doing.

Having made it to the other side where the experience of dancing is actually kinda fun, this is purely a construct of the male mind and has no basis in reality. In my experience, most women have decidedly lower standards about these things.

In most cases, her idea of dancing isn’t some complex Argentinian tango where you clear the dance floor and show her off to the world.

What she actually wants is to just have her man by her side while she’s enjoying herself.

While it can feel like women are asking us to move mountains, the only mountain to move is our own self-importance.

And that’s only as heavy as we want it to be.

So we can choose to be a wallflower, or we can choose to say “f*ck it,” understanding that it’ll probably mean the world to her to get out on the “d-flo” and step left, snap, step right, snap.

So what did I learn about being a man this Christmas?

I learned I can get a gift that has no practical use and she may love it even more—especially because of the lead up.

I learned that letting go of my own desires and watching a few Christmas movies means a lot to her, and is totally worth the “effort.”

And I learned that even a somewhat lackluster effort on the dance floor can have her absolutely beaming, as long as you aren’t sulky or pouty—I just received some insider information that that’s where the line gets drawn.

But just because these lessons crystallized over the holiday season it doesn’t mean they are only relevant in December.

Giving selflessly to the one you love or finding opportunities to put your partner’s needs before yours isn’t something you have to wait for the end of the year to do (and it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to wait that long anyway).

In fact, receiving a gift can mean way more when it comes as a total surprise, and putting in extra effort can and should be a timeless practice.

So even though the holidays may be behind us, our relationships continue to evolve and grow. There is always a new opportunity to create a moment where your partner feels like the most loved and special person in the world and feels so lucky to be with you.

Happy new year everybody. Let’s make it the best year for relationships ever.



Author: Mark Stefanishyn

Image: MaxPixel

Editor: Callie Rushton

How to Disentangle ourselves from Karmic Relationships that Drive us Crazy.

get elephant’s newsletter


We’ve all been subject to at least one relationship that’s threatened our personal power.

We may have become so entrenched in it, we could no longer speak up or stand up for ourselves.

Sadly, when this friend, lover or family member invited us into their wacky world, we went willingly—and then we stayed.

Unaware, we left ourselves unprotected and were subject to a twisted reality, which we began to co-enable and co-create with our intense friend.

When I say “intense,” I’m referring to the self-centered, dramatic people in our lives who expect us to give to them in ways they don’t even give to themselves.

These relationships appear unhinged and karmic because the dynamics are eons away from being mutually honest and transparent. It almost seems the other person is playing a game with our hearts and minds, so we no longer see ourselves or the relationships clearly.

Who am I talking about?

The folks who regularly chip away at our truth, time, self-esteem and emotional well-being. Instead of lovingly lifting us up, in most instances, they maneuver to advance their position at our peril. They hold our heads slightly beneath the water’s surface so we can’t speak or breathe. This disrespectful treatmentfurther compounds the dynamic, as well as our misery.

We are naturally attracted to egoistic spectacles. For centuries, we’ve loved melodrama in our celebrities and long-enabled it in our families. Meanwhile, many of us actively sought it out in friendships, romance and business. Somehow we were eternally attracted to relationships with kooky, intense people.

Since we naturally seek out what is familiar, we were responsible when kooky histrionics showed up in our lives and moved in. Fortunately, we can kick them out at any time.

Sensational melodrama can be fun for a while, as it often invites fascinating circumstances. While it usually requires that we endure discomfort and disruption, all the madness usually comes with gifts and surprises too, like 5-star adventures, refreshing spontaneity and hourly oral sex. How do we put a stop to something that sometimes balances out to awesome? More importantly, why would we want to?

Although there is measure of value upon our dance with mania, the problems begins when it is at the helm; we don’t realize just how much the other parts of our souls and lives have been delayed and detoured. As we gaze at the world wearing kooky-colored glasses, we have limited awareness of just how f*cked up the rest of our commitments and relationships have become.

Craziness and melodrama are drugs akin to sugar, cocaine and greed. They’re addictive, dangerous and misleading. We might think we’re enjoying a relationship with a phenomenon, but just like any activity that subverts our value, copulating with Ms. Kooky or Mr. Crazy-pants is nothing but self-sacrificial.

Our introduction to egocentricity often comes from our siblings, parents and family circumstances. Unknowingly, we often recreate situations related to our upbringing. But just because we were born into madness doesn’t mean we have to stay there.

It’s okay to have a little crazy-intelligence in the house, but if the dynamics continually create roller-coasters, it might be time to ask, “What the f*ck am I doing here?” and “What am I getting out of this?”

When crazy-intelligence is healthy, it pushes us to think outside the box, inspires us to plan wonderful events and helps us come up with mind-blowing ideas. When crazy-intelligence is our friend, it builds bridges, enhances our lives and improves our self-worth. But if untenable craziness dominates, it’s nothing more than a beautifully-decorated weapon designed to bring us down.

Weaning off of melodrama can be a nightmare. It requires being honest about what we want and what truly makes us happy. It requires a great deal of self-reflection and letting go.

The process of absolving ourselves from someone else’s egocentricity and melodrama will bring up anger, sadness, guilt and shame. If we’re successful, it’ll also inspire tough-minded confrontations with the person and our ability to make proactive changes and stick to them.

When we’ve enrolled ourselves in someone else’s chaos, we lose touch with what brings us peace. In the midst of mayhem, we forget how to nurture our hearts and defend our life-vision.

If you’ve been eating at the kooky, karma table and desire a rebirth, follow this plan:

1. Make note of the things you’ve learned from all the drama: the good, the bad and the super f*cked-up. Celebrate the lessons and be grateful.

2. Make a list of the wonderful things and people in your life, then fill your schedule with them.

3. Before you add something new to your life, ask yourself, “Will this person or event enhance my happiness, awareness and life-conditions or will it detract from them?”

4. Say goodbye to egocentricity and imbalance, either in-person, phone, text or via a loving friend who’s willing to take a bullet for you. It can be a sentence, book, video or one-person play. Just get ‘er done.

5. Never look back. Ever.

If we enjoy the unpredictable drama in our lives and can use it for our own evolution, then maybe we’ve mastered it. For the rest of us, saying goodbye to Ms. Kooky or Mr. Crazy-pants is the moment when our lives begin.


Author: Paul Wagner

Image: Wikipedia

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Five Clever Tricks that keep me on Track all Year Long.

get elephant’s newsletter


“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” ~ Jack Kornfield

The rain has stopped.

The sun peers through the clouds, if only for an hour or so. I lift my head slightly from the bed where I’ve been resting ever since a strong Lebanese flu hit me hard.

Somehow, the sun nudges me and pulls me out of bed. It’s the first day of the year—always a special time for me. It’s like I’ve been born again; a new beginning awaits.

Hope is in the air, resolutions are close at hand, and optimism still abounds.

I sit down for my now-annual practice, where I reflect on the past year and think of what I want to achieve in the year ahead. I would have liked to spend this time alone on some snow-covered mountain or secluded Thai beach, but powered by Vitamin C and within sight of the sun, I do it anyway.

Here are five practices that keep me on track all year long:

1) Do a yearly review.

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences and failing to achieve anything useful.” ~ Margaret J. Wheatley

I check my journal, calendar and emails for the entire past year and ask myself specific questions:

What went well?

What didn’t go so well?

What did I accomplish?

Did I improve my relationships?

Did I stick to the habits I created in earlier times?

Where did I let myself down?

I’ve got some good memories and some bad ones. However, my overall feeling of the year behind is overwhelm and anxiety. I set too many goals and achieved many of them, but I didn’t leave enough time to enjoy or reflect on them. I was a bit too serious, aloof and self-absorbed.

I stuck to my daily practices rather well, and they became my pillars of well-being and daily living. My writing improved tremendously, as I had committed to 1,000 words per day, which meant I showed up, put out a lot of work and felt great doing so. I let myself down in my sugar binging. I would follow a low carb diet, then mess it up with too much sugar. I also varied my exercise regimen so much that I ended up injured for the final two months of the year.

2) Let go of all the issues we’re still holding onto from last year.

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.” ~ Steve Maraboli

The beauty of a new year is that we get to press the reset button.

We can let go of all the goals and tasks left unfinished and start them again—or eliminate them if they don’t come under the “big rocks” category (see number three).

This January, I let go of all the issues and baggage I’m carrying with me, whether toward myself or others. Yes, I over-analyse and self-deprecate often, but that’s in the past, not now. Yes, a few people wronged me, but I’ve forgiven them and I’m starting a new page. Yes, I’ve hurt a few, but I’ve forgiven myself, and the apology letters are in the post.

Most of all, I want to let go of my guilt—this toxic emotion I carry with me every day for the smallest failings. I can only do that in two ways: with gratitude for what I have, and by comparing myself not to my ideal self (that remains an aspiration), but to who I was last year.

3) Warren Buffett’s five-step process for prioritising the “big rocks.”

“Whatever we put our attention on will grow stronger in our life.” ~ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

We now live in a world where everyone and everything is competing for our attention. Our focus is not limitless, and as such we need to guard it against distractions. We must focus on the big rocks of our life—the things that create fulfillment, excitement and growth.

All other pursuits are futile.

The late Scott Dinsmore explains the system that Warren Buffett uses to prioritise his goals:

•    List 25 goals you want to achieve this year.

•    Now prioritise them from one to 25, so the top five you want to focus on are clear.

•    Set a plan on how you will achieve those top five goals.

•    Put the other 20 in another list.

•    This other list becomes an avoid-at-all-cost list. No matter what, these things get no attention from you until you’ve succeeded with your top five.

I did just that, and I’m happy to say that I’ve got my five goals that I’m working on—and nothing else will matter for me this year until I achieve them.

4) We must always carry a big dream within us that we pursue endlessly.

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”              ~ John Anster, The First Part of Goethe’s Faust

What one thing makes us want to get up every day? What one thing can we accomplish in a lifetime that makes our death acceptable? What one thing can we do in our life that means we outdid our dream?

It’s important to carry this one dream, one hope or one love to our grave. It must remain our secret until we are strong enough to declare it and fend off the many people who want to shoot it down.

This dream is like a candle of hope that burns endlessly and shines hope into our life. It is that one thing that makes the setbacks and vicissitudes of life bearable.

It could be hoping that we end up living and dying with someone we love. Or inventing a new substance that can replace oil as our principal raw material in life. Or becoming a best-selling author with multiple books under our name. Or eradicating cancer. Whatever it is, we must never lose sight of this huge dream.

5) Plan an exciting event that we can look forward to (bucket list).

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~ Howard Thurman

Goals, visions and aspirations are often lofty and take a long time to materialise. We don’t feel like we are getting something in the now, and so we need other experiences that ground us and get our excitement flowing.

I’ve found that when I’m planning to visit a new country or enjoy an experience that I haven’t had before, I’m excited for months before and after. Last year, I planned to stay in Paris for a month-long writing course in the summer and to live alone for the duration (something I hadn’t done in 25 years). It excited me to find the Airbnb, book the airline tickets, and exchange thoughts with my new writing friends that I made during and after.

That single trip dominated my year.

Other experiences could be: preparing for a marathon, climbing Kilimanjaro or visiting Japan and its bullet trains (all on my bucket list).

So, I’ve reviewed my year, let go of the negative energy I’m holding, prioritised my big goals, lit the flame to my one big dream, and planned a new experience I want to have this year.

I’m fired up for the year ahead. How about you?

Bring it on!


Author: Mo Issa 

Image: Hillary Boles/Flickr 

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

We Shall Miss You, but This is What you Left Us.

get elephant’s newsletter

Dear Obama,

You taught us a lot about courage.

I heard it in the first moments of your farewell address to America tonight.

You spoke about the stereotypes we’re wielding today and how they are the same ones we held so long ago about other immigrants—the Irish, the Poles, the Dutch and many others.

We still must challenge our narrow ideas, which is what Obama was saying in his farewell speech.

We can’t just hold onto what is familiar and secure anymore, because these things are outdated—and, in fact, have always been so.

I heard the soon-to-be former president of the U.S. saying that we must pop the safe bubble we form around our lives in order to grow.

I couldn’t agree more.

While I watched Obama speak, the word that kept coming to my mind was grace.

Grace, by one definition, means, “An allowance of time after a debt or bill has become payable… before suit can be brought against him or her or a penalty applied.”

So maybe, instead of feeling the pressure to say hello to the next president as we bid farewell to Obama, we can welcome the challenge that our new leader brings. This is a special time to grow and remember what it is that we are most in debt to: each other and the earth.

Because that is what we are here to do on this planet. We are here to transform, and this rarely happens unless we face adversity.

The reality of our world will wake us up eventually. As Obama suggested in his farewell, we will not be able to ignore our problems any longer, because they will be ones that slap us continually in the face.

He also said that we need to remember that America was built on freedom and an independent press.

We must draw on these privileges now when we face our current enemies—not those who “speak or pray differently,” but those who hold the biggest money and wield it in the wildest ways.

Obama touched on the premise that we must go back to our morals, those ideals we know in our hearts to be true. We have spent enough time making enemies out of people who are not that.

I am proud of the speech that Obama gave. It was something to admire—and so is he.

He even spoke of enlightenment and of our people waking up:

“We cannot betray America,” he said, “unless we just turn into a country which bullies smaller neighbors[…] None of this happens on its own, all of it depend on our participation.”

I believe we must now claim the privilege that living in North America provides us. We must wield our freedom in an admirable way. Simply because we live here, we can speak up and honor the voice we hear whispering inside of us—a freedom which many others do not have.

Right now, there is no time to spare. We must acknowledge that we have been put here with great power. We are living in a country where we can have a voice and a vision.

Obama’s speech made me want to stand up and holler, for he asked us to be accountable.

Responsibility comes hand in hand with our privilege. Whether we like it or not, we are now the leaders of many who do not yet have the opportunity to be heard.

So what can we do and what can we offer right now?

We can offer our strong voices. In this, I feel, is the energy to create the change we need in our world.

Maybe the new president will be a helpful wake-up call, demanding that we come out of hiding and acknowledge the oppression we’ve been pretending not to see.

As it has been said so many times in the last few month, let’s “make America great again,” through knowing that shift is within us. Such an understanding calls us to dissolve the divisions between us.

May this change that is occurring now bring us new growth and vigor to move forward rather than passively accept defeat.

The best future we could imagine is still possible—and it is our job to make it so. In the words of Barack Obama himself:

“Believe not in my ability to bring about change, but in yours.”

Thank you, Obama. You truly left us with something great.



Author: Sarah Norrad

Image: @elephantjournal on Instagram

Editor: Toby Israel


Turn Off the Radio: A Playlist to Raise our Consciousness.

get elephant’s newsletter

“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”
~ Plato

Music has the ability to take us places and affect our emotions.

And just like anything else we consume, it has a direct impact on our energetic vibration too. Because we are energetic beings living a physical human existence, we are in essence consuming anything we take into our body via any of our senses.

And it all has a vibrational impact on us.

So the only question remaining is this: Why wouldn’t we want to listen to music that makes us feel good?

So much of our mental activity is subconscious, so what type of vibe do we want in there, whispering underneath our conscious mind each day?

Music can help us heal and unite—or it can keep us hateful and divided.

The choice is an individual one.

These songs carry me through the hard days and keep me going when the spiritual path seems challenging—and they bring me even higher on the great days. They bring feelings of love, unity, harmony, hope and healing, which is what I want in my reality.

I truly hope this music resonates with you and that you find a song here to uplift your vibe.

1. Xavier Rudd: “Follow the Sun.”

2. Nahko Bear & Medicine for the People: “Aloha Ke Akua.”

3. Nahko Bear & Medicine for the People: “Manifesto.”

4. Tem Blessed: “Blessed Unknown (Remix).”

5. Trevor Hall: “Standing Rock.”

6. Xavier Rudd: “Creating a Dream.”

7. EarthRise SoundSystem with Srikala & Luminadi: “Metaphysical Fitness.”

8. MC Yogi with Trevor Hall: “Road Home.”

9. SOJA with Michael Franti & Nahko Bear: “I Believe.”

10. John Butler: “Young & Wild.”

11. Sandra Fay & Nahko Bear: “Creation’s Daughter.”

I would love to hear from you in the comments below! Please share your favorite conscious, high-vibe tunes so we can connect through our love for music.

I hope these songs made a difference in your day.


Author: Lindsay Carricarte

Image: YouTube

Editor: Toby Israel


Lindsay Carricarte

Lindsay Carricarte

can currently be found residing in Long Beach, CA, with her husband Chris and their fur-babies. They practice and learn from each other every day. Her heart beats for writing, yoga, meditation, books, helping the world, nature, snowboarding, coffee, hiking, and of course her loves— Chris, and two dogs, Bandit, a American Bulldog/Pitbull rescue, and Luna, a Welsh Corgi. Their goal is to travel the world helping others overcome suffering through finding a spiritual path. She currently writes for a living, working at Sage Goddess where she helps others discover their inner Goddess, while getting her YTT cert, and developing chakra healing meditations to give to the world, and developing Life Warrior. Follow her on






 and Periscope!

You can also catch up with Lindsay on her

coaching/motivational website

or visit her

motivational page

for daily heart path coaching.

How One Question Altered my Course.

get elephant’s newsletter

Time is a human construct, yet we often wear it like a noose.

We put it on each morning, tightening it firmly, and then we go out to live our lives as we’ve been told.

We listen to pre-recorded voices that answer our questions and give us directions on how to get where we should go; the routes we take are often mapped by the flow of the traffic around us, our speed matching others’ as we rush to get nowhere at all.

Sometimes we stay in the same lane of our journey because it seems easiest. Perhaps we’ve been told this is the fast lane or that this route will lead us quickly to our desired destination.

No one told us this destination would keep moving with the changes in our desires.

I’ve lived that life. I’ve watched myself wake and sleep at the direction of a clock, and I structured my time within it following all the careful plans I had made.

And then something changed in me—or perhaps what was locked within me grew too big to be contained. Because one day I chose to stop doing what I thought I should, or even what I thought I could.

I dared instead to consider the answer to one simple question:

What kind of life do I want to live?

I asked the great what if, but I didn’t ask, what if I fail? I asked instead what my life would look like if it could be anything I wanted.

I didn’t put limits on those dreams. I gave myself full freedom to explore how my life might look in every aspect, and then I stopped. I put everything in park to consider the implications—and after, I began to go in a new direction.

Even now I know that my life could go in a number of directions, but I also keep firmly in mind all that I want from the life that I’m leading. I can always earn money, but there’s no way to earn back our time once lost.

Let us seize the day before it’s gone and ask ourselves this:

What if…

…you and I leave the GPS behind this once? What if we venture down a road that we’ve only seen in passing, just to find out where it’s going?

When we’ve passed the same old house three times in succession, we can stop to ask for directions from the next person we meet. But we don’t ask how to get to a specific somewhere, predetermined. We ask, instead, to be pointed in an interesting direction—a scenic view, an interesting stretch of road, a bit of history hidden away from the world.

What if we stop to chat for a while with this stranger and make the stranger a friend before we go? What if we ask for pieces of his or her history and leave a bit of our own story behind?

What if we park the car a while and walk, even if it’s raining, because we found the perfect picnic spot?

What if…

…we take a day to leave aside the noose? We wake when our bodies tell us to and stretch in the light of the sun peeking in through the windows.

We make an extravagant breakfast and eat it outside in the sun or by a window where we can watch the changing colors of the sky or the brightness of the day unfolding. We hold each other close, along with hot cups of coffee or tea, and we read good books. And later we trace our hands over now-familiar maps, exploring the terrain to see where we might linger.

We find remembrances of the past with this old scar and these faded marks, a personal history mapped out in lines. We create a new map of the world where the world is only the two of us.

Later, we’ll sleep naked with the fan making lazy circles around the room, covered only with a sheet, curled into each other while the sun shines brightly through the open curtains, fluttering now in the breeze. We’ll sleep until we wake, hungry again and ready for new adventures.

What if…

…you and I weren’t you and I? What if there is only ever me in this time, in this life?

What if I leave behind the GPS this once? I’ll venture down the road I’ve seen only in passing, just to find out where it leads.

When I’ve passed the same old house three times in succession, I’ll stop to ask for directions from the next person I meet, but I won’t ask how to get a specific somewhere. Instead, I’ll ask to be pointed in the direction of a scenic view, an interesting drive or a bit of history.

I’ll search out those hidden treasures, stopping along the way to collect other treasures in the stories of those I meet. I’ll leave pieces of my own story scattered along the road in the people that I encounter, and I’ll park the car and walk awhile, even if it’s raining, because I found the perfect picnic spot.

What if…

…I take a day to leave aside the noose? I wake when my body is ready and stretch in the light of the sun.

I  make an extravagant breakfast to eat, then watch the changing colors of the sky or the brightness of the day unfolding. I cup between my hands a hot mug of coffee or tea, wrap myself in the softest of blankets, and read good books.

And later, I trace my hands over a now-familiar map, remembering this old scar and acknowledging these faded marks—each a testament to the full life I’ve lived. I’ll create a map of the world with the knowledge that I am perfect even in my imperfections and always enough.

Later, I’ll sleep naked with the fan making lazy circles around the room, covered only with a sheet while the sun shines brightly through the open curtains, fluttering now in the breeze. I’ll sleep until I wake, hungry again and ready for new adventures.


Of course, as a single parent, even the laziest of days is adjusted a bit from this.

Instead of sleeping until I want to wake up, I sleep until I am awakened by the cherub face and auburn curls of my son, who starts each day with enough energy to power the planet. Or the trilling laughter and bright happy eyes of my daughter, who sees every day as an adventure.

They’ll let me sleep just a few minutes longer while they play their version of quiet on the floor with their toys before informing me I’ve slept enough. Then we’ll make our way downstairs and have a pile of chocolate chip pancakes and bacon. We’ll watch cartoons in our pajamas, and I’ll sneak close and tickle them.

It doesn’t matter how those days look. What matters is living inside of them fully present, embracing them as gifts. What matters is choosing the kind of lives we want to live, rather than living the lives we think we should.

It took asking the question to see the answers, but I had to stop letting my fears speak out of my own personal darkness. I had to listen to my hopes instead, which are so much more difficult to hear when we’ve been conditioned to deny, to repress and to fight against the things that we feel.

But what if we could live the lives we are capable of—lives made up of those hopes?

And what if we stopped limiting ourselves by what we think is possible and what we’ve been told is best for us?

What if we trusted our intuition enough to understand that the path of our dreams is one we must honor—or always struggle against?

What if we accepted that our lives could be richer if only we would choose it?

Our lives are now, in this moment. Now, while I’m typing the words. Now, when my feet are cold so I tuck them inside the blanket I’ve wrapped around me to ward off the chill. I listen to the faint sound of lullabies coming from the nursery down the hall, and I can feel the night pressing darkly against the window panes as I watch the words form.

Our lives are now, in this moment. You, reading the words. Perhaps nodding that, yes, you’ve experienced this, too. Or perhaps shaking your head or rolling your eyes in dismissal. But this is the moment.

Now. Our lives. The journey. Now.

We can dare to ask what if or shrink away from it, not wanting to see what could be if we wanted it. Or perhaps fearing that what could be won’t be.

But the journey is this moment—and the next and the one after that—and our paths are stretching out into the night. We cannot see how far they’ll go or where they’ll lead, but we can choose, each moment, the steps we take.


Author: Crystal Jackson

Image: @walkthetalkshow on Instagram

Editor: Toby Israel


How to find Harmony with the Hygge Practise.

get elephant’s newsletter

Today I made a wonderful Tuscan bean soup with warm bread for dinner.

It’s cold and rainy outside, dampening me to the bones. As I work on my laptop, I have on one of my favorite cozy sweaters that keep me warm even on the coldest days. And I am content.

As we start this new year and weather the long nights still ahead of us, we would do ourselves well to embrace the blessings of the season and to “hygge” our homes, as I did today.

What is hygge (pronounced HOO-Gah)?

Simply put, the closest translation for this Danish word is “cozy“. It is derived from a 16th century Norwegian word hugge which means “to comfort” (“hug” in English).  And this new craze associated with hygge is the obsession with all things cozy, homespun and natural—a perfect accompaniment for the winter months.

Hygge has evolved naturally in Denmark and many of the Northern European countries over the many years. During the long winter months, it is a perfect antidote to Seasonal Affective Disorderor SAD.

Although they have, at times, 17 hours of darkness a day, Denmark is consistently noted as one of the happiest countries in the world! They manage that with their quest for hygge.

With several books coming our way in 2017 on this “new” topic, the focus of hygge is on creating a warm environment. It is akin to the feeling and purpose of Chinese feng shui (aligning oneself with the flow of the natural world for greater well being). Both philosophies focus on the importance of closeness, connection and relationships, and of being rather than having.

So, hygge is sort of a Northern European cousin to feng shui.

And lest you think it’s a call to overindulge, there is another concept—a Swedish word “lagom” which speaks to moderation and teamwork, fairness and equality. No one is left out. This demonstrates another way in which it is connected with fengshui: balance and harmony.

In a recent article in the New York Times, Cassie Jones, executive editor at HarperCollins and publisher of “The Little Book of Hygge” said, “It (hygge) had the feel of the fengshui phenomenon. An opportunity to look to another culture for something intuitively familiar yet refreshingly new.”

So, how do we create hygge? 

1. The Golden Light.

Hygge, it appears, is only possible with golden light. In Danish custom, candles set the ambience for proper hygge. Danes are so fond of candles that the Danish word for spoilsport in Danish is lyseslukker, which literally means, “one who puts out the candles.”

So, candlelight is top priority in achieving hygge. Lots of candlelight. And if there is a fireplace, that will be roaring, as well.

2. Intimacy.

The Dane’s particularly focus on creating hyggelige (the act of being hygge) environments for intimate gatherings. In fact, it is a focus of conversation in the evening; particularly what can make the event more hyggelige!

Hygge is akin to an après-ski experience. After soaking in a hot bath, you slip on a warm sweater and a pair of wool socks. You gather around a roaring fire with a few intimate friends, sipping brandy or 20-year-old scotch. All is well in life.

Or, hygge can be a solitary experience. Ever curl up with a good book on a cozy chair with a blanket wrapped around you?

Family photos, folk art and handmade items that represent who you are add intimacy to your home. Hyggelige home design includes low ceilings, warm wall colors, cozy nooks, lush thick drapes that can be pulled across the windows, and worn wood floors with scattered wool area rugs. Research shows that these types of spaces promote intimacy and connection.

3. Sustenance.

For gatherings, much consideration is made to the food and drinks served. Comfort foods include slowly cooked stews, soups filled with organic, homegrown vegetables, baked bread, and homemade pies with fresh whipped cream on top.

Beverages may be hot cocoa, a deep, fruity cabernet, or a nice cup of tea in an old, mix-matched china tea cup (a colleague once explained the difference between having tea in a china cup and a mug—no comparison!)

4. Mother Nature Knows Best.

Nature places a big role in hygge. Decorative items from nature—such as stones, beach glass, seashells and driftwood as well as lots of healthy live plants–-contribute to a hyggelige space.

Hygge spaces have plenty of rich textiles such as inviting throw blankets and soft, comfy pillows to your seating spaces.

Furnishings are made with natural materials and lots of curves—basically things that are yin with nurturing qualities. Hygge has a very wabi-sabi kind of quality (the art of honoring objects that show use, age, patina and imperfections), such as old wooden spoons and rough-hewn pottery.

5. Simpler Times.

Hygge brings us back to a gentler time, away from the chaos and stress of modern life; back to nature and homesteading. I believe that is why it is showing up today. It’s a force that counteracts the triviality and superfluousness of society. It is meaty and substantial, and gives us an anchor to all that is good and wholesome.

At a time when technology creates fake closeness with hundreds of Facebook friends, hygge provides the opportunity for kinship and true connection.

Whatever happens to hygge over the course of this year, it is welcome in my home and life for all time.

It’s easily attainable and personal because it’s natural, unique and homemade. But as with all other trends, I am sure that there will be a long line of hyggelige products that will try to tempt us (just as with “shabby chic”).

But for some of us, hygge will inspire us to treasure the furnishings and belongings in our homes. To keep items around longer because of their usefulness and in spite of their wear; to forgo the disposable mentality for a “fix it” one; to cherish handmade objects from friends and family over cheaply-made, mass-manufactured objects from Home Goods.

So, I will channel my inner-Dane to embrace our world in a wholly natural and cozy way.

Anyone joining me?


Author: Maureen Calamia

Image: Unsplash/Stephen Di Donato

Editor: Erin Lawson