How Yoga and Meditation Made Me a Better Person

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When I was young, I was privileged to have been born in a family where money was not an issue yet my father combined his hard work with hard alcohol daily leaving my mom to raise myself and my 3 brothers. My dad’s income presented my mom with a security that she was unable to attain on her own with no college education. She was married at 18 and pregnant with her first that following year.  My fathers’ growing pay check and increased absence gave her the freedom to hire babysitters, shop, or go on fancy trips. We had many babysitters and family rules were not part of our upbringing.
As kids, we were pretty much given whatever we wanted whether it be ordering out pizza every night or money to buy material items.  Living life in this way may have seemed nice to many, but without the stability of 2 parents teaching family values such as love and kindness towards others, my family life often resulted in a chaotic blend of self entitlement, without compassion, love or respect towards others.
When I turned 25, I was in the middle of College with average to low grades and my dad had made a series of poor business decisions which resulted in him filing for bankruptcy. My mother was filing for divorce. Suddenly, I no longer had the financial support that I used freely to get by in life. I’ll give you an example. This was me speaking to my car insurance company:  " Oh, you’re not going to insure me anymore because I skipped a few payments and was living and driving in the States? – Who cares.  I’ll find another car insurance company." So, I did and my dad paid double.
"Oh, you mean, I can’t come back to school because I missed too many classes and essentially failed out? Whatever…I am going to school in Europe next year.” So off I went.
By the time I was thirty the family money was all dried up with my parents fighting over it in court, and I was left with a very poor set of values and wondered why things just weren’t working for my very entitled self.  I no longer had my dad’s money as a crutch. Whatever good things came my way, I realized I would have to work hard for them and learn how to maintain them.  It was a while before I found yoga and process of meditation, and in the interim I would say that my life was a series of lessons learned without any real guidelines to go by. I was frustrated with life’s curve balls and was searching for some form of peace and guidance in my life. Once discovered, it would seem that yoga and meditation process was the perfect solution.
I think one of the first things I learned was that life is so unpredictable. From Hurricanes to Earthquakes and so many other Natural, Social & Personal Events can bring you way up, then way down. Then way up, then way down, just like a seesaw in a playground.  Yet with life’s unpredictability, I could always find shelter from ups and downs through mantra meditation. When practicing this meditation on a daily basis, I felt safe. I especially felt warmth and love in my heart.

So, my whole world could be turned upside down but I always had somewhere peaceful to go to.  This constant consistent practice gave me peace of mind, and soon I learned how to detach from the things that were out of my control.  I realized that my life’s events of going up and going down were essentially just part of my karma. And the only way to ride my karmic storm without getting all caught up in it would be to surrender to it.  This was very humbling. I learned that I had to detach from the outcome because after all, we have very little control over how people will respond to us or what life brings us and takes way.
With learning this powerful lesson, I was humbled and my heart softened. I began to realize that one of the only things I could control was the way in which I treated other people, especially my friends and family.  I no longer wanted to feel guilty about how I would mistreat my friends and family if I wasn’t getting what I wanted. This feeling soon spread to no longer wanting to be a cause in the mistreatment animals by eating them.

I came to the understanding that all living things are spirit in nature covered by material bodies. And each spirit soul is part and parcel of the Supreme Being. Once I understood this, I felt the desire to treat all living things with kindness and respect from the smallest ant on the sidewalk to my elderly grandmother. I began to see the world as literally one big family with the Supreme Being as the Father of all living entities.
The truly most wonderful thing I learned about yoga and meditation was that the more I practiced it, the more I achieved self-realization. The more I achieved self realization, the more I understand about the science of identity, my essence, purpose and goal in this life. This has become a wonderful journey and I feel so blessed to have found yoga and meditation.

I make an effort each day to meditate upon the Supreme Being, and in return, I feel a sense of love and happiness which supersedes all other forms. In return, I can’t but help to try and emanate the same love and kindness I feel in my heart to all.  This can only be done through the regular daily practice of chanting the names of the Supreme Being. I truly know this because I have experienced it.

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Erin’s Things: November 20

You’re reading Erin’s Things: November 20, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

This week I’ve got a little self-care (think massage), a little music and some pumpkin pie just in time for the holiday. Check out my list below for discoveries that made me happy last week! (and please share your cool finds in the comments below)

  • BIGTHINK.COM – This podcast is outrageously good. Historian Nancy Koehn (Harvard) discusses resiliency and muses on the question of what is a real hero? Her research focuses on what makes people live lives of purpose, impact and worth, focusing on leaders of the past and present. We live in a time where we find it easy to distrust in leaders, so how can we harness the power of the courageous to reveal once again what real guidance is about.
  • SOUTHERN BAKED PUMPKIN PIE – They arrive at your doorstep, frozen and ready to thaw whenever you want. What could be a better addition to your thanksgiving dessert menu than this with a buttery crust, creamy texture and warm spice aroma? It’s Thanksgiving this week, so amidst all the good friends and family get-togethers, nothing is as satisfying to share in as this sweet treat.
  • DRIP – started in 2011 as a membership crowd funding service providing a way for musicians to have a recurring income, it was forced to shut down in 2016. Soon it was acquired by kickstarter. Kickstarter has now re-imagined Drip, with 61 creators to start. Creators need income sources other than advertising. It works as a invite only (for now) membership campaign that allows contributors to continually support through recurring contributions as opposed to a one off campaign. With these membership contributions model, kickstarter is once again relevant by placing itself at the forefront of the digital age.
  • YAYOI KUSAMA – Born in Japan, Yayoi Kusama is the youngest of 4 children in a very affluent family. She is a self described ‘obsessional artist’, who is known for using many polka dots and infinity installations in her work, she’s been called incredibly avant-garde. At age 10 she began using these motifs (nets as well) and created watercolor, pastel and oil painting. She also began to have vivid hallucinations where flowers would speak to her and patterns would come to life, sparking her lifelong struggle with mental illness. Her painting, drawings and sculptures have drawn much attention since the 60’s- environmental sculptures using mirrors and electric lights give us a glimpse into her wildly focused imagination. She is a unique and contemporary feminist artist who operates now from a mental hospital. If you can catch one of her exhibits, you will be very inspired by the experience!
  • THE NOW – Los Angeles has done it again. Leading the way can experience luxury massages in a convenient, accessible and affordable way. The motto: ‘Restore Your Body. Reset Your Soul.’ Conceptualized by Amy Krofchick, Erica Malbon and Gara Post, the goal of their expanding brand is to uplift everyone through massage. With spas on Beverly Boulevard, Santa Monica, Studio City and Silverlake it is easy to get to, and enjoy the atmosphere of this sanctuary. We all need to hit the pause button from busy city life, I cannot think of a more convenient and aesthetically pleasing environment that makes one feel aligned with nature. Massages start at $35 for a 25 minute massage, and there are even massages for kids! If you feel like dropping in, you are welcome to do that, alternately you can make an appointment or even join on with a membership.

You’ve read Erin’s Things: November 20, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’ve enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.


How Exercise Can Boost your Mental Health

You’re reading How Exercise Can Boost 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.

In an age where pharmaceutical drugs dominate television advertisements (the average US television viewer sees nine pharmaceutical ads per day (C. Lee Ventola, 2011)), it’s not surprising that the overwhelming majority of the population are looking for quick fixes to often complex problems. After all, there’s a pill for almost anything these days. But one of the most time-tested and effective mental health boosters is completely under-utilized and under-prescribed – exercise.

The Connection Between Exercise and Mental Health

Do a simple Pubmed search on the link between exercise and mental health, and you’ll find more relevant articles than you can count. Coincidence? No way. Researchers as far back as the 1930’s identified strong relationships between amounts and types of physical exercise used in treatments, and the positive mental effects they had on those patients (Davis, 1930). Since then, countless studies have been performed, and the results have been overwhelmingly positive. A comprehensive study from 1985 found that “physical activity and exercise probably alleviate some symptoms associated with mild to moderate depression. The evidence also suggests that physical activity and exercise might provide a beneficial adjunct for alcoholism and substance abuse programs; improve self-image, social skills, and cognitive functioning; reduce the symptoms of anxiety…” (Taylor, 1985). These benefits are known worldwide as well, with groups such as Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA) stating that “Exercise appears most effective for depressive disorders and may also improve mental well-being and physical health in individuals with serious mental disorders” (Morgan, 2013); while a Chinese study from 1997 on college and middle-school students found that “physical exercises were helpful to reduce students’ tension, anger, fatigue, depression and confusion, and improve their vigor and self-esteem” (Biyan, 1997) . These are just a few of what are thousands of reports of the positive effects of physical exercise on mental health. The relationship is not limited by nationality, age or time-period – it’s abundantly clear that physical exercise boosts mental health.

The Disconnect

So why, with all the knowledge we have on this physical-mental link, do we still first reach for the anti-depressant pills, and not our running shoes?  The answers are beyond the scope of this article, but most certainly include the billions of dollars of annual advertising spent by Big Pharma; our ever-increasing need for instant gratification; and (perhaps most unfortunately), our ever-increasing lethargy underpinned by our growing worldwide obesity rates. So, where to from here?


The first step towards using exercise as an adjunct to an overall healthy mental state is to acknowledge that there is a clear link between exercise and mental health, and that you are responsible for self-medicating with the powerful drug of movement. At its’ most basic level – getting up and moving around will give you a more positive outlook on life, and moderate some symptoms of depression, anxiety, addiction and cognitive impairment. So, just get up and move.
Taking this to another level, if you want to make a significant and lasting change by using exercise to improve your mental health, there are countless websites dedicated to helping individuals improve their physical health. Many of these are free, and provide detailed workouts, meal plans, tracking tools and guidance to help you stay on track.
Here are some quick and easy recommendations to get you started:
Walk More
No matter how busy you are, there are quick and easy ways you can get more movement in to your daily routine. Set a timer every hour to get out of your chair and walk around the office or your home. Try parking another hundred yards from your workplace or the store. Walk your children to school if time and distance permits. Get a pedometer or activity tracker and try to reach a goal of 10,000 steps per day. If your fitness level is low, don’t get hung up on numbers – just try to move around more!
Lift More
Resistance training is one of the most beneficial physical exercises a human being can do – particularly one that utilizes multiple muscle groups and body parts. When most people think of weight training, they picture powerlifters or bodybuilders moving huge weights around a gym, but in reality, any resistance to your body can make a positive impact on not only your mental health, but your physical health as well. For beginners, air squats, push-ups against a wall and lying leg lifts might be enough to get excellent results. For the more physically-experienced, a weight-training regimen of three to five days per week alternating muscle groups will be more effective.
Join a Class
One of the best ways to continue with physical exercise is to be accountable to a group – whether at a gym, social club or even with work or family members. A great way to achieve this is to join an organized fitness class – it could be aerobics, swim, senior fitness, CrossFit or anything in between. The important thing here is that you get some level of physical exertion.

What to Expect

In the world of instant gratification that we seem to be a part of, it’s unrealistic to expect that walking a few minutes a day will alleviate all your mental health concerns. In that same vain, please don’t take this article as a prescription to drop your medication, counseling, dieting or other treatments and just do some form of physical exercise. What we’re encouraging here, is adding some level of physical exertion to your daily routine as a supplement to your treatments. The goal is most certainly to be symptom and treatment-free, but don’t expect exercise to be your cure-all. Here are some things you can expect, and in a fairly short period of time:
– Improved mental clarity
– Higher self-esteem levels
– Improved cardiovascular capacity
– More restful sleep at night
– Lower anxiety levels
– A better sense of purpose
These should be the goals of anyone looking to improve their mental health, and with decades of published research on the topic, it seems to be a no-brainer that you should incorporate some physical exercise in your daily routine.

James Anthony is the manager of Protein King – an online fitness, health, supplement and apparel store dedicated to improving the lives of everyday people. Based in Australia, James writes extensively on the topics of diet, nutrition, sports supplements and fitness, and in his time working with Protein King, has been rewarded with many inspiring stories of change and empowerment.
Biyan et al. (1997). The Mental Health of College and Middle-School Students in Shanghai And Its Relationship With Physical Exercises. Psychological Science, 1.

  1. Lee Ventola, M. (2011, Oct). Direct-to-Consumer Pharmaceutical Advertising: Therapeutic or Toxic? Pharmacy and Therapeutics, 36(10), 669-674; 681-684.

Davis, J. E. (1930, August). Mental Health Objectives in Physical Education. Occupational Therapy & Rehabilitation, 9(4), 231-238.
Morgan et al. (2013, August). Exercise and Mental Health: An Exercise and Sports Science Australia Commissioned Review. Journal of Exercise Physiology Online, 16(4), 64-73.
Taylor et al. (1985, March-April). The Relation of Physical Activity and Exercise to Mental Health. Public Health Reports, 195-202.

You’ve read How Exercise Can Boost 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.


Living a Life of Purpose: Breaking Away From the Mental Shackles

You’re reading Living a Life of Purpose: Breaking Away From the Mental Shackles, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

If you ask a child of 12 or 13 what she wants to do with her life, it’s a futile exercise. At that age, most children don’t quite know what they want. It’s all about the shiny object of the moment. But we ask them nevertheless. I’ve seen this happen often where I come from in Asia. In many Asian households the child grows up wanting to be a doctor, engineer, or a lawyer simply because of the ingrained belief that by becoming one of these you will be successful. Many talented children give up things they are good at, things they are passionate about—and the world loses a brilliant musician, artist, or marine biologist.
When a person is able to marry their occupation with their vocation or calling in life, often it is because a door opened in their mind, and walking through it filled their soul and excited their spirit. Hence, their purpose was born.
Bear in mind, this door doesn’t open by itself. More often than not, we stumble onto something big through movement, not stagnation. It is cardinally important that you never stop seeking. There is no getting around this rule. If an explorer goes to a forest and stumbles upon a gold mine, it is because he got there by starting the exploration. Not just dreaming about it.
Possibly the biggest impediment to finding and living our purpose, is the mental shackles many of us are tied down to. This is usually a result of being programmed to follow and believe a certain set of norms set forth by family, culture, or society. In many ways, these norms are like blinders we put on horses, to cut out the peripheral vision.
Nature, in her innate wisdom, has designed the human body in such a way that if we pay attention, we can learn some important life lessons from it. Here are two important aspects of the human body from which I personally derive my life’s philosophies.

Forward Movement

The human body is designed to propel us forward, never backward. Walking backward doesn’t allow you to see where you are going, which can be dangerous. The body loses its balance as you try to walk backwards. This also applies to life in general.
If you want to find your purpose and discover who you are meant to be, you cannot regress. You have to focus on the future and keep seeking. The future may seem uncertain, but you cannot keep running back to the past because it’s familiar. It is our life’s purpose that propels us to keep moving forward, even when life gives us no reason to.

Peripheral Vision

Just because you are looking forward, doesn’t mean you lose sight of what is around you. Our eyes, though focused directly ahead on what we are looking at, are bolstered by a 180-degree view that fills in the background with what we are not focused on.
The areas we are not focused on are sometimes far more important than we realize. It gives us a depth of perception and an awareness of things approaching from the side. We are able to successfully steer forward only when we are also aware of the opportunities and threats around us. Otherwise, we are left only with tunnel vision.
I don’t deny that tunnel vision has its purpose, but it needs to be used selectively. When one needs to focus on an activity such as sharp shooting, then your mind objectively shuts out all peripheral vision. This is an important skill to develop so you can build concentration. But when tunnel vision is enforced by virtue of the metaphorical blinders put on by society, by the school system, or by other aspects of the environment we grow up in, then the peripheral vision that helps us balance what we need to see in life, is lost.
What if you could remove those blinders so you could see the world as it is? When we rely on the enforced tunnel vision, they become our shackles. These shackles inhibit us from recognizing our purpose in life.
Someone once told me a story about elephants in a circus. A man passing by saw these huge creatures being held in place only by a small rope tied to their front leg. It was obvious the elephants could at anytime break away from their bonds, but for some reason they did not.
He asked a trainer nearby why the elephants just stood there and made no attempt to get away.
“Well,” the trainer said, “when they were very young and much smaller, we used the same rope to tie them and at that age it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”
Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging on to a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we have been led to believe that we would fail?
To learn more about living a life of purpose and overcoming limiting beliefs, please get a copy of my new book Two Minutes from the Abyss, available as an e-book on Amazon.
Vijay Eswaran is a successful entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and philanthropist and the author of the best-selling book In the Sphere of Silence. His new book Two Minutes from the Abyss published by Networking Times Press is now available as an eBook on Amazon

You’ve read Living a Life of Purpose: Breaking Away From the Mental Shackles, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’ve enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.


The 6 Biggest Enemies to Creating Your Dreams

You’re reading The 6 Biggest Enemies to Creating Your Dreams, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

Hey, what is your problem?
Wait, I’m not trying to pick a fight. I mean that in a literal way:
What issue(s) are you trying to solve so you’ll feel better than you do right now?
Do you want to build a billion dollar business?
Do you want an amazing marriage?
Do you want to write the next great novel?
Do you want to bake the perfect banana cream pie?
Do you want to shake thirty-five pounds off your body and keep that weight off? (If so, don’t hang out with the person trying to bake the perfect banana cream pie.)
WHATEVER your "problem" — your point A — may be, there is only one thing that will get you to the solution — your Point B — which is the achievement of your dream:  Your creativity.
Because by it’s simplest and truest definition, creativity means the act of making something. Making something happen that isn’t happening now. Making something exist that currently does not exist.
Without taking this action — without your creativity — the things you want and need go nowhere. But these unfulfilled thoughts don’t merely go nowhere… they in fact pull you down deeper and deeper into frustration and even misery because you aren’t DOING anything about them.
Indeed, being creative is absolutely required for you to solve any problem — to achieve any goal and dream — you have.
For two decades now it’s basically been my job (and passion) to help individuals and organizations get unstuck, stay unstuck, and make themselves become whatever they most desire to be. In that time,  I’ve discovered there are 6 very big enemies to creativity.
Here they are, in countdown order to the biggest, baddest enemy #1:
Enemy #5: Self-Sabotaging Expectations 
Rome wasn’t built in a day. That’s such a tired old cliche, but I looked it up and it is historically accurate.
It takes time to solve your problem, to achieve your dream. And the bigger the problem — the more important your dream — the more time it takes.
Yet what I see constantly, and not only with the younger folks, is the expectation of success fast.
In part we owe it to our "Give it to me now" culture for this expectation. And it is mighty destructive.
People will let themselves feel like a "failure" when they haven’t built their Rome in a day… or even a year. This feeling chews away at their ability to create, so all they’re eventually left with from their creativity is just ivity. Whatever the heck that is.
The point is, be ambitious in your expectations, but not ridiculous in them. And stay aware of your expectations as you move forward. Remember it takes time, and ongoing effort too, which brings us to…
Enemy #4: Dreaming Without Doing
Thomas Edison said that "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety nine percent perspiration." The same thing goes for creating your dream. You have to work at it. A lot. It’s as simple (and complicated) as that.
Ideas are nice and all that. But they are a dime a dozen. Generating ideas, even the great ones, is the easy part.
It is executing on your idea — moving forward no matter what to solve your problem — that makes dreams come true.
And I’ve seen that many people are pretty darned good about moving forward… for a little while. Until the "excitement" factor wears off and the going gets tough. Author Seth Godin calls that point "The Dip," and it’s where most people give up.
Meanwhile, the few who keep going when things get discouraging or downright sucky are the ones who succeed.
Right at the start, when you’re planning to build or create anything, one of the smartest things you can plan for is getting disheartened and feeling like giving up once you’re past that exciting beginning stage of anything. And plan to keep going anyway.
Because 9 times out 10 people do hit that big (and often long) frustration point, where it feels like nothing is going right, no one is paying attention, what’s the point of doing this, whoa is me, etcetera.
Being AWARE at the start that this point will come, though, is a powerful defense. Because when it does arrive weeks, months or longer in, it won’t catch you by surprise. You’ll have the upper-hand on it — "Aha, I knew you’d come!" — and you’ll have the commitment you made to keep pushing forward anyway.
Enemy #3: Waiting for the Muse
Maybe you are moving forward to achieving your dream… but very, very slowly because you "wait for the muse."
The "muse" is that sweet angel of inspiration and energy that occasionally visits you and, as if she’s made of rocket fuel, just jets you forward in creating high-volume, high-quality work.
The problem, though, is that this Rocket Fuel Muse typically doesn’t visit often… and she’s unpredictable as to when she might visit.
In other words, if you wait for the muse, you will likely be waiting until you are dead.
Again, you instead have to work at it. Routinely. As often as possible… and the more you want that dream, the more you will find is possible to work on it.
A funny thing happens, by the way, when you really bust your butt routinely no matter what to achieve your dream… the muse tends to visit a whole lot more.
The muse is attracted to the sound of effort.
Enemy #2: Negative Nelly
"You can’t… You shouldn’t… You never will! Give it up! You’re not good enough!"
These are some of Negative Nelly’s favorite phrases. And she is always very busy trying to make your life grey.
You should know that she’s not human… she’s more like a demon that possesses humans.
Sometimes she tries to drag your dreams and your life down through the voice of people in the present, like certain family members, your boss or co-workers, or friends.
Sometimes she harasses you through the voice of people in your past, such as parents or siblings or teachers or friends when you were younger.
But her FAVORITE method of trying to jade you is by getting right there inside your head, making you believe she is actually YOU.
But she is not you. Ever. The negative thoughts in your head trying to provoke you into believing you haven’t got what it takes… that you should give up or not even start … are NEVER EVER YOU.
You are the one with the big goal, the dream… and if you can think it, you can do it.
When Negative Nelly spits out her ugly words, therefore, don’t try to fight her (she enjoys that). Instead, step back, accept that she is there but she is not you, let her pass, and then get on with your doing.
She’s like a bad storm… don’t take her personally, and don’t waste your energy fighting her, and she will pass.
Enemy #1: The "Expert" Mind
The "expert" mind is one very strong and sneaky enemy.
It usually goes after, and often brings down, those individuals and organizations who have already enjoyed some previous success from their previous efforts, such as Fortune 500 companies, famous actors and actresses, celebrated chefs and authors, and the like.
With just a little practice, though — and some striving to be humble thrown in — you can learn to spot it and stop it from destroying your dreams and success.
First of all, whether it is inside your organization or inside your head, WATCH OUT for this kind of thinking:
> "I am better at this than almost anyone."
> "What the heck do they know? We are the pros!"
> "I already know that. And that. And that."
> "I’ve been doing this for 10 (20, 50, etc.) years… I’m not worried about them."
> "I am an expert at this."
This kind of thinking is deadly. This kind of thinking thwarts creativity and stops innovation and productivity in their tracks.
Back to old Thomas Edison, who said, "We don’t know a millionth of one percent about anything."
And he’s still right. Much as your individual or your organization’s collective ego wants to congratulate you on what an amazing expert you are, there really are NO experts at anything.
While IBM was busy acting like the "expert," Microsoft was busy innovating, eventually knocking them off their perches. Then while Microsoft was busy acting like the "expert," along came Google, and Apple, and Facebook. And so it goes.
One of the most beautiful ideas from Buddhism — and one of my strongest recommendations — is to always maintain the "student mind." A humble mind that acknowledges that, no matter how much you have learned, you still don’t know a millionth of one percent about anything… even in your field where others may consider you an expert (let them think that way about you, but never fall for the nonsense yourself.)
Or in other words, strive to remain a wide-eyed, humble, open-minded student no matter how much of an expert other people say you are.
So there you have it. Beware of these 5 enemies to your creativity — keep them out, kick them out if they sneak in — and you will achieve your dreams. Problem solved.

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3 Things to Do Before You Quit Your Job to Become an Entrepreneur

You’re reading 3 Things to Do Before You Quit Your Job to Become an Entrepreneur, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

Being a successful entrepreneur and running your own business is hard. If you dream of quitting your job to become an entrepreneur, there are 3 things you should do today, in your current job, before you take the leap.

Create a Part-Time Side Hustle

Before you leave the comforts of your reliable health coverage and paycheck, start small and do some of your entrepreneurial work part-time. Find a way to create a side hustle to test your idea before going all in and quitting your job. It does require that you spend your free time working, but you will be further along when you do decide it’s time to quit.
Ideas to consider before you quit:

  1. Create a website to sell or promote your idea and start testing who responds favorably.
  2. Spend your weekends and evenings creating your business plan and share with friends and mentors for feedback.
  3. Attend networking events related to your idea. Start to build your tribe of potential clients, customers, or supporters.

The opportunity to launch your own company is an enticing one, be sure to do as much as you can with the stability of your current job, before you take on the risk and try to launch your new idea.

Evaluate Your Current Job

Before you quit your job, ask yourself this question: are my ideas and passion something I could tap into with my current job or company?
If you can become an intrapreneur and launch new ideas and products within your current role, that could be the entrepreneurial sweet spot you are craving. Intrapreneurs have the opportunity to create new things, but with less risk, as you will still have your company’s resources available to you.
NOTE: You won’t have the same upside as a wildly successful startup. You won’t have the same equity in the idea as you would if you started it out on your own. That said, starting something new, right where you are, could be great practice and just the training wheels you needed to get your entrepreneurial feet wet and ready to do your own thing.

Assess Your Needs

Make sure being an entrepreneur is what you want. Do you need a change? Are you passionate about seeing your idea come to fruition? These are great reasons to become an entrepreneur, but you also need to be equipped to handle failure, rejection, and ready for the long-term implications that entrepreneurship brings.
Start by spending time self-reflecting on what would help you tap into your passion. Talk to mentors that know you, and start to uncover your internal motivations, and how you could get closer to your goals.
Also, spend time identifying what infrastructure you require to succeed. For example, do you need a steady paycheck to support your family? Do you work best when surrounded by a collaborative team? Think about how you will you manage the ambiguity that comes with entrepreneurship, and not having the built-in support and structure your current job provides.

Proceed with Caution

If you take these 3 steps, you will be better equipped and ready for launching your own product or service as an entrepreneur. It delays quitting your job today but gives you some tools to leverage if you do take the plunge further down the line. Taking these steps will ultimately ensure that you make a career choice that will make you happy and lead to success.

About the Author:

Entrepreneur turned intrepreneur. Co-founder of Pick-A-Prof and MyEdu. Launched new products at the California Department of Education and IDEO. Karen’s work has been highlighted in media publications including The New York Times, TechCrunch, NPR, CNN, and more. She has spoken at SXSW, COIN, Tech for Schools, EDVenture, and worked with companies and organizations across the public, civic, and non-profit sectors. You can follow Karen by visiting her blog or connect via Facebook and Twitter.

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How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others and Make an Impact

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In 1726, at the ripe age of 20, Benjamin Franklin created a habit-tracking system to help him live a more successful life. On each day of the week, he would give himself a crossmark for the virtues he failed to practice.

“I might mark, by a little black spot, every fault I found upon examination to have been committed respecting that virtue upon that day.” — Benjamin Franklin.

Benjamin’s 13 Virtues: Temperance. Silence. Order. Resolution. Frugality. Industry. Sincerity. Justice. Moderation. Cleanliness. Tranquility. Chastity. Humility.


Build Your Internal Compass

This checkmark system alone wasn’t enough for Benjamin.

Each morning, he would ask himself “What good shall I do this day?” before he wrote a short journal as he jotted down his ideas. Each evening, he would reflect on his day with this single question: “What good have I done today?”

“The quality of your life comes down to the quality of the questions you ask yourself on a daily basis.” — Tony Robbins.

His check-mark system, alongside his morning and evening questions – served to steer his life in a far more focused direction. It made him continually think about ideas he could implement each day to practice goodness, both for his benefit and the benefit of those around him.

Small ideas can create huge changes.

His three daily habits, gave him an internal compass from which to measure his life’s success. His systems not only affected his daily actions but they also positively influenced his thought patterns each day.

“The outer conditions of a person’s life will always be found to be harmoniously related to his inner state…Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are.” ― James AllenAs a Man Thinketh

All the plaudits he received in his lifetime were secondary.

In the end, his success wasn’t determined by others.

It was determined by his own standards.

His Circumstances Didn’t Determine His Success

Benjamin Franklin only had two years of education during his youth. He was the 15th child of seventeen children from a poor family background. He ran away from his family at the age of 17 after being violently beaten for writing under a pseudo-name in his brother’s newspaper.

Yet he found a way to move away from any sort of mental victim mentality.

Life’s storms, in his case, created more resilient roots.

Benjamin Franklin didn’t measure his success or failure through extrinsic rewards or his past experiences— he forged a deep internal locus of control which he then extrapolated into his three daily habits.

Are you operating based on external standards, or internal standards dictated by yourself?

In my life, just like everyone else, I’ve had my fair share of storms. From growing up with a violent stepfather, to being homeless, and being forced to move country at the age of eight.

But pain is never an excuse for mediocrity.

It wasn’t an excuse for Benjamin, and it shouldn’t be for you.

“People with an internal locus of control believe that they are responsible for (or at least can influence) their own fates and life outcomes. They may or may not feel they are leaders, but they feel that they are essentially in charge of their lives.” — Daniel J Letivin.

Did Benjamin Franklin’s Daily Habit System Help Him Live a Meaningful Life?

In his autobiography, Franklin wrote that through his daily habits, he never “arrived at the perfection he had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it.”

Yet, he admits his attempts made him a happier and far more productive man than he would otherwise have been. While he may have not reached a state of perfection, he did indeed live a life of true excellence.

The truth is, our lives will never be “perfect”. But the more relentlessly we move towards that “perfection” in our habits and character, the more our lives will reflect everything we’re yearning for.

“Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves.” — James Allen

Just Some of Benjamin Franklin’s Accomplishments Include:

  1. Inventing bifocal lenses that allow people with presbyopia to see in the distance through the upper half of the lens, and read through the lower half.
  2. Creating lightning rods which protects millions of buildings from the hazardous effects of lightning strikes.
  3. Founding the University of Pennsylvania and the American Philosophical Society, which have both positively influenced thousands of students lives and shaped America’s cultural landscape.
  4. Publishing Richard’s Almanac, which contained the calendar, poems, sayings and astronomical and astrological information which pioneered the way information was presented in many books thereafter.

None of those accomplishments would have been possible had he not focused on living each day that was offered to him, with the utmost focus.

And one of his secret weapons was his daily habits.

“The Secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.” — Mike Murdock

Look Inside Yourself for Your Sense of Self-Worth

The moment we begin to look outside ourselves for our measures of success, the more we run the likelihood of feeling like failures. And it’s also the moment we limit our potential success.

We’re all living within the confines of our own orchestrated reality. The moment you think someone is better or inferior then you, you limit your thinking — according to research in Nany Kline’s book Time to Think. And when you judge someone’s accomplishments in relation to yours, you perpetuate an illusion that masks your real self-worth.

Unless you’ve built your own internal measures of success, then you will always run the risk of comparing yourself to others. And that’s dangerous — you can end up risking your sense of self-esteem and unique individuality for some external standard “you’re supposed to meet”.

  • You’re not supposed to meet anyone’s standard.
  • You’re only supposed to be inspired by other people’s example.
  • It’s up to you to create your own standards.

“Comparing yourself to others is an act of violence against your authentic self.” ~ Iyanla Vanzant

Build a System of Accountability for Your Daily Habits

Between 1707 and 1770, Benjamin Franklin lived a life of purpose, character, and excellence. While you can take great lessons from his daily habits, the reality is that your systems need to take into account your uniqueness and the times we live in.

A digital approach to tracking your habits, on a phone app or on your computer can be just as effective. You can build upon Benjamin’s ideas and refine them to suit.

If you want to cultivate the practice of tracking your daily habits, then you don’t have to necessarily track thirteen qualities and ask yourself a question every morning and night.

Experiment, and discover what works for you.

In the end, the most effective system, is the one that you can stick to.

My Daily Habits System

Differently to Benjamin Franklin, I track the actions that lend themselves to the state and emotion I want to experience each day.

In Eric Barker’s book ‘Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong” the author cites that the more we can “gamify” our lives, the likelier we’ll stick to our disciplines.

At the end of each week, I have a call with a friend (who also tracks her habits) to share how it all went — just to make this practice of discipline a little more playful.

Potential Areas to Track in Your Life

  • Your Finances
  • Your Health (How many workouts are you doing per week and month)
  • Your Knowledge (Which books are you reading, which conferences are you going to?)
  • Your Highlights of the Month (Gratitude)

By measuring your progress in the important areas of your life, you will always be proactively comparing yourself to who you were yesterday, and to no one else.

Life isn’t designed to give us what we need, it’s designed to give us what we earn. And we can more easily earn what we want, when we stop comparing ourselves to others, as we focus on maximizing our daily habits to their full potential.

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Should You Be An Artist And Follow Your Dreams? Here’s Something You Must Know

You’re reading Should You Be An Artist And Follow Your Dreams? Here’s Something You Must Know, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

Van Gogh - Read Vineyard

Van Gogh - Read Vineyard
Do you often think whether you should follow your dream of becoming an artist? If you do, then read on.
Look at the painting above.
The painting you see is ‘The Red Vineyard’ by Vincent Van Gogh.
The only painting which Van Gogh ever succeeded in selling during his lifetime out of the 900 which he had painted.
He remained a failure for his lifetime, led a miserable life filled with mental illnesses and melancholy, until he finally shot himself and committed suicide.
"La tristesse durera toujours," were his last words, which meant "The sadness will last forever".
He never got to witness his success. He didn’t remain alive to see it. He couldn’t make a fortune out his art. Yet, he painted.
His art wasn’t respected in his time and pushed him towards the miseries he might not have imagined. Once he spent his money on paint rather than food, yet he painted.
Why did he paint?
If you could answer the question without a need to think, with a voice that comes straight from your soul, I doubt not that you’re an artist.
I believe you know why artists do what they do.
If you can feel how he might have felt and can’t help thinking with a sigh on your face for a while, then you’re an artist.
More than anything, if you could see your own reflection in what he did, you’re truly an artist.

Here’s a truth

Artists don’t always get what they’re known for. But neither have they always worked for those reasons.
Fame, money, attention, respect – are all cheaper than the reason which motivates an artist to create his art.
There’s nothing wrong if he expects some material outcomes. Yet, for all the blood, sweat and tears he puts in his art – these rewards are far less than compared to what he gives back to the world.

The fancy lie about being an artist

The world is often an ignorant place where people measure actions only in terms of outcomes.
If you can’t justify your work to them or fail to come up with a logical reason, they’ll build up their own assumption anyway.
As an artist, you’re selfless. You create because you love to. You share because you work brings smiles.
Sometimes, you create just because something kills you from within and you wish for nothing more than taking off that burden form your heart.
But world won’t ever get it. It will always think that you’re driven by some selfish motives and are a crazy maniac who has no regard for his life.
But you’re only misunderstood. Because even if money and fame might be among the reasons you create art for, they aren’t the only ones.

Why artists should be less attentive to the world

Artists owe nothing to the world. Nothing.
To the world, your art may be nothing less than a speck of dust.
Then why do you try so hard to make others care about our work?
It isn’t wrong to seek audience. After all, we create to be seen and appreciated. However, just because the world is blind to your art and disrespects it, doesn’t mean that you should quit.
Those who truly know and love you, understand the value of art in your life.
They’ll motivate you, not drag you. They’ll try to help you in all ways they can and try you to get your art the value it deserves.
As for the rest, how should react to those who wish to snatch the thing which is the reason behind the smile on your face?
Do what you always wanted to do for yourself. Give up your yearning for the attention of people.
Only then you can make the world restless and shake its ignorance. Soon it shall notice you, glare at you with wondering eyes, and give you the respect you deserve.
The moment you find some work that fills you with excitement or makes your heart pump faster, you feel an intense wish to do it.
You find yourself. Soon, you fear losing that feeling, and you wish to go on creating forever.
But then, you think what others might think of you.
You suppress the brightest part of yours by making yourself believe that you’re a fool to dream.
You think of the bread before your happiness, and of the world before your soul.
After that, you become a loser for life and are left to bear a regret forever.
No one ever knows what your dream was, your life remains normal, yet in your heart you know that you had lost something in life.
It doesn’t matter what you become to the world, in your heart you know that once you feared, and then remained a coward – forever.
If you don’t wish to be that coward, give up your fear of the world and start somewhere. Be what you want to be.

You wanted a chance? You already have it

Dare to dream. To be what you want to be. To create, not just for the world but yourself.
Step out of your safe zone, feel your vulnerability and surrender yourself to the work which scares you. The work which makes you love your life and vanishes your fear of death.
This is the moment you’ve got. Either you become the next faceless person who lived according to the conventions of the world, or die a rebel with a satisfaction that at least you had tried.

“Of all that is written, I love only what a person hath written with his blood.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

A real artist doesn’t give up art

Being an artist can be painful and miserable. But you don’t let anything prevent you from becoming one. You go ahead, you play your part.
This world doesn’t owe you anything, but not giving it what you can would be a sin. More than that, it would only bring you misery and break you, for you fail to contribute your part in this world.
Don’t create art for gains, but yourself and for the happiness of the ones who appreciate it. The world is an ignorant place – so if you judge your art in the amount of attention you get – you might be forced to quit.
People are often conservative in their appreciation and won’t help you grow even when they can. Doesn’t matter. Create for the kind ones who care.
Above all, create for yourself.
Art can change you, the world, and everyone else. You have a price to pay too. Sufferings and pains always exist, but you don’t let them break you.
You are an artist only if you create. So create. Sometimes there aren’t any reasons to create, not many successes to celebrate, but the keep pushing yourself to create more.

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” – Vincent Van Gogh

When you’re an artist, you feel like a loser when you stop. You feel good when you create.
So create art, no matter what. Die with a bunch of admirable creations by the side of your deathbed, that’s the only worthy satisfaction you must have.
How long are you planning to think? How long will you stay a loser? How long can you quash the gift you’re born with?
Hope you decide soon.
I just wanted to tell you something.
If you ever wanted to be an artist, be one.
You can be everything else that you want to be, and also an artist. You don’t have to choose being one.
It’s always beautiful to create art and it’s great to be an artist.

About Author:

I’m Vishal Ostwal. A writer, blogger, and the kind of person whose name rhymes with his surname.
Apart from that, I’m a dreamer, and a storyteller who can talk about life tirelessly. Visit my blog to find my online home,or connect with me on facebook and twitter.

You’ve read Should You Be An Artist And Follow Your Dreams? Here’s Something You Must Know, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’ve enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.


The Art of Saying NO!

You’re reading The Art of Saying NO!, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

When is it ok to say NO? It is always ok to say no, and that’s regardless of what is being asked and by whom. I don’t mean saying NO, and then give an explanation as to why your answer was NO. Just saying NO as your response is more than enough. Explaining yourself as an adult is just too much when giving NO for an answer. I would rather a person just go mute, instead of lying about why you can’t accommodate the person’s request. I know, the world is sensitive and being raw and straightforward is frowned upon, but it’s needed to get answer understood. These lies that are being given as explanations as to why you can’t grant their request, are considered “little white lies”. These “little white lies” eventually turn into “HUGE white lies” that are hard to keep up with. Even if your explanation is truth, don’t use it as an excuse if your answer would have been no without the explanation. Those little white lies are detrimental to your growth. “The truth shall set you free.”
Lying is Comfortable.
Person 1. “Do you think you can help me move out of my current apartment into my new apartment this Saturday?”.
Person 2. “No, I’m sorry, but I have to work that day, but I wish I could give you a helping hand.”
The dialogue between person 1 and 2 is an example of person 2 lying about working on Saturday. Person 2 does not have to work Saturday, and in fact has no plans for that day except one, and that’s not helping person 2 move into their new apartment. Why is lying the first result and so comforting? It’s the first result because person 2 cares more about persons 1 perception of him/her instead of just telling the truth. “The truth hurts”, is a very true statement but in fact it not only hurts the receiver but also the giver. Most people don’t want to be labeled mean, an asshole, or selfish. Reputation has always been of greater societal value than character. Character is self-perception and reputation, is society’s perception of you, and of course society wins every time.
Lying is a character killer that was given to us by our parents/guardians. We are lying to protect our reputation, even if our intentions aren’t to hurt the person asking. Our brains are made to protect us from harm, hurt, and pain always. Pain is inevitable for growth, and I mean good pain. Good pain is disappointment, heartbreak, failing, and working out. You don’t want good pain to be a constant occurrence, but if it’s out of your hands then you must accept it and keep going. Telling the truth to a friend or family member will have some pain involved mentally. All fear comes from others and our reputation being damaged is at the top of the fear pyramid. Caring how others feel and what they think has become priority over our feelings and thoughts.
Establishing the NO
You are the most important person in your life, and that’s the case if you have children or a spouse. Always tell the truth and be honest with yourself first and never lie. Telling the truth is liberating and should be a staple in your character. Just try and say NO to something that you don’t want to be part of. If there is an explanation that you choose to give for saying no, make sure it’s “because I said no”. I know I know, how can a person be so mean. This is just honesty, and honesty has been coupled with being mean or selfish. Lying has become so prominent that it’s accepted over honesty. Lying is always the first thought and choice when facing an uncomfortable topic.
You can break this terrible habit by adopting a great tool in life. This tool is called “Not giving a f#*k”. This tool is amazing and will grant great liberation to your value of life. Now scream FREEDOM loudly as if you were William Wallace strapped to a table awaiting your decapitation, like the scene from the movie "Braveheart". Your “not giving a f#*k” tool is now activated. You will have to practice saying no, with total disregard for the feelings of the person asking. You will place your character on a pedestal and not give a f#*k about your reputation. This tool will cause some damage and you may lose some people from using it, but that comes with growth. The people lost are not your concern and shouldn’t deter you from using your tool for the betterment of yourself. People that respect and genuinely love you will not stray from your honesty. You will feel guilty, but your job isn’t to please everyone, but it’s to please yourself. If you aren’t in great shape mentally and physically, how can you be of any assistance to anyone else. Saying NO is only for things that you don’t want to do, and not to be used maliciously to hurt others purposely.
Written By: Ronald Anthony Wilson

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Embracing the Unacceptable

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

We all go through something in life we never wanted, desired, or thought even possible. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, well, consider yourself lucky and forewarned; something will happen one day, and you might want to have read these tips. Whether it’s coping with not having internet or cell phone reception for a week, (something unthinkable to so many this day and age), embracing a new life direction due to drastic job change, family dynamic, or even something like me, with a life threatening mystery illness, there is one common denominator: you have to get through it. And you can and will get through it; the how you get through it, is entirely up to you.
Here are my 5 lessons from going through my own intense health battles for the past decade and a half, resulting from a mystery illness and a sense of humor that simply refuses to give up in the midst of it all.

5 Steps For Embracing Something You Never Wanted

• 1. Side step the fact that you never wanted it. Don’t try to accept it or cope with it; just step around it. Often what makes something so unacceptable is the shocking contrast to the current, acceptable circumstances we are in. The acceptable life compared to the unacceptable life can seem too big a leap to grasp, reconcile, cope with. So, don’t try at first. Allow yourself to be in shock by simply going around the news. This way you have a little time to let the new reality sink into your mentality before actually dealing with it.
• 2. Find something outrageously positive about it—even if the reasoning might be slightly skewed. It’s a scientific law of nature that there is an equal and opposite element to every being. So, after the unacceptable has been able to seep into your consciousness, try to find some light to shed on it so it becomes as positive as can be. Perhaps you could compare it to something that would be way worse.
For example: my illness has left my body with terrible veins, a real difficulty as blood work is a necessity for my survival. One time, when I was having a particularly sick bout, I had a doctor take 3 hours of continuously poking me trying to find a vein that could hold an IV line to give me antibiotics necessary to save my life. In a particularly long “fishing” expedition of his needle deep in my arm, my positive thinking of was how much I would rather be in this scenario than at a banquet of a picnic that was covered in ants. That would really suck.
• 3. Become a salesman— pitch the positive perspective to your friends, family, and self. Time is passing, the acid taste in your mouth piles up every time you think of the unacceptable you are trying to avoid. Yet, it has slowly been turning into a part of your consciousness, and your outrageous comparable are slowing making the unacceptable seem an actual existence. You are bravely trying to put your chin up and somehow go forward. Not yet coping with it or even embracing it, more co-existing with it.
Now you need to sell it to everyone. Those who are closest to you will see the act of your sharing all the positives for what it is—an act (or at least we like to believe they do). If you can convince everyone, slowly, you might even start convincing yourself that this will somehow be survivable, maybe even okay. Perhaps you can even find pleasure in the act of trying to convince yourself of the positive. Sometimes the more ludicrous, the more amusing it can be—try it!
• 4. The Time of Acceptance Has Arrived. No, you never wanted it; yes, the positive reasons are outrageous. Life the beautiful way you imagined, knew, is no longer an option—maybe only for a time, maybe forever; who really knows? But you’re here; you can choose to be miserable, or choose to embrace this change and experience it to the fullest. *Remember, choosing to embrace the journey to the fullest doesn’t mean that you need to be positive, doesn’t mean that it will be all sunshine and daisies; it simply means that you will be fully alive, fully aware, and fully present. It’s your choice.
• 5.  It’s Your Choice; Your Power; Your Decision. You always have a choice. Even if you hate the circumstances, didn’t choose them, didn’t deserve it, whatever; it’s your choice in how you get through it. With bitterness, delight, tears, or laughter, or a combination in between—it’s your choice. You are not a victim, your life is not a result whim of Life’s folly; you do have a say in how you act, how you express, how you live this moment. There in lies the power within you.

Cecilia Baldwin, Living As A Mystery Girl. After becoming a quadriplegic due to an unknown illness at just 15, Cecilia has spent the next 15 years fighting to recover what best her body could, search for answers, endure through misdiagnoses, cancer, and maintain her quirky sense of humor. With an amazing support system, super-hero Mom who is also her primary care giver, and faithful service dog at her side, she strives to not only survive but to thrive. You can follow her on her blog at : on Twitter at @livingamystery

You’ve read Embracing the Unacceptable, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’ve enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.