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My Day With The Dalai Lama

You guys!  The Dalai Lama came to Princeton a few weeks ago and I got to see him speak.  I like to think of myself as a buddho-christian so this was an exciting opportunity for me–only 4ooo tickets were available for the event and his last speaking engagement was to over 100,000 people.  Whoa.  Luckily, my sister worked a little magic and…voila!  We were in.  I was beyond excited.

Me and liv

I have always been intrigued by Buddhism; something about this religion’s message always resonated in a deep part of me.  I’ve dabbled in meditation + chanting, and I’m a big fan of Pema Chodron, but I was raised Catholic.  And, well,  sometimes I feel conflict about connecting with the ideas and a leader of a different religion, even as an adult.  Almost like I’m cheating on my religion?  Anyway, I’m getting over it; I just can’t ignore the peace + clarity that the Buddhist beliefs bring me.

And it was even more so after visiting India and Nepal seven years ago.  It’s a long story, but I pretty much ended up on my death bed in the middle of a Nepalese village.  It was a medically freak occurrence that brought me to a precarious state, but the kind people I encountered there saved my life.  Their way of life makes so much sense to me–they believe in compassion, forgiveness and tolerance; they value human lives over things.  I’m convinced their practice of these beliefs is how I made it back home in one piece.

dalai lama signSo when I got home from that trip, I started digging around about Buddhism–I wanted to understand it better.  And the more I dug, the more I liked it.

For example: the Dalai Lama believes that despite philosophical differences, all major world religions have the same potential to create good human beings.  That really resonates with me because, isn’t that what it’s all about?  Individual choice to believe our own way of becoming a better version of ourselves?

We all want to be ‘good human beings’.  And the ability to practice religion is such a precious and necessary component of any culture–multiple and different religions offer a range of perspectives–that’s how we learn and grow.  It’s how we become tolerant, how we learn acceptance.

Suppporters of the Dalai Lama

So armed with this information I’ve gathered over the years, I understandably felt a little buzzed on the day of the Dalai Lama talk.  I was going to see THE man.

The amazing energy of all of the kind, compassionate + devoted people that gathered for the day brought a peaceful, but  intense feeling to the campus.  There were groups from communities all over, showing support and respect for their holy leader.  They sang and danced and dressed in their beautiful robes–I literally got choked up a few times watching them!

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Even though we were in the upper level for the talk, it still felt like a small gathering–you could literally hear a pin drop.  Everyone was in awe of him; I think it was because we all felt like we were in the presence of a living legend.  Regardless of your religion, it’s hard to dispute the fact that the Dalai Lama has had a major impact on humanity + the world as a whole with his teachings.

View of talk

Throughout the talk, he was happy + childlike, which was an amazing surprise; he giggled a lot and was playful.  He got a Princeton baseball hat as a gift when he was introduced, and  he popped it on + wore it for most of the talk.  Such a cool dude.

DL in baseball cap

There were even peaceful protestors outside before and after the event!  They were able to share their truth, too. (SO important.)

Protestors

 So here are a few basic ideas I took away from his talk:

  • Affection and kindness are the answer; no amount of money can create true happiness and inner peace.
  • Compassion and kindness expand the human nervous system.  Anger and hatred shrinks the brain in development. (I’m pretty sure he cited some studies of this)
  • We need more education about inner values–how to develop them within ourselves–and create this secular education of whole heartedness in schools.
  • Trust and fear cannot go together.
  • The real meaning of forgiveness is reacting without anger.
  • Read different views of topics that come up in your life and use critical thinking to come to your own conclusions.  Don’t accept things at face value or how they are presented.
  • Our life depends on hope and the belief that it exists; when you don’t have hope, there is no purpose and it’s easy to give up + believe in the bad.
  • We are closest as a society when we feel we are all the same and are connected.

The levity of his talk stayed with me for days and made me feel really, really good. It was a confirmation that even though it’s not the religion I was born into, I can explore other ideologies when they ring true with me (and not be afraid).  Trusting the path of growing and learning new things can be a wonderful, enlightening experience–peace + joy come in many forms.  And I feel like challenging myself occasionally about what I believe + stand for, helps me grow.

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My Day With The Dalai Lama2018-03-29T20:23:13-04:00

How I Handle The Fear Of Success

Sometimes we fear success as much as we want it! Here are some simple tips to keep in mind so you don't self-sabotage.

I hit a major snag this weekend in my art business.  I *finally* bought a new printer to make my own art prints but I can’t seem to match up the color on the screen with the colors that print on the page.  Yikes.

As someone who knows just enough about printing/technical stuff to get by, this can be a dangerous situation.  I don’t totally know what I don’t know, and can majorly screw things up with a few wrong adjustments.

I got on the phone with Epson on Saturday to try to trouble shoot the whole scenario.  I’ve been putting off calling them for 2 weeks because of my desperate and irrational fear that it can’t be fixed–what if I made a mistake in buying my own printer?  What if I can’t really do this?  I realized during those 2 weeks, staying in limbo kept me in that holding pattern of not exactly failing, but not exactly succeeding either.

Three hours later, we hung up and I still felt anxious because they couldn’t resolve the problem and couldn’t tell me what the true issue was.  They suggested I contact the help desk of Adobe Photoshop (what?).  Turns out, they’re closed on the weekend, and better yet, they don’t offer phone support for my product.  And so it goes.

I know I am in the home stretch.  This art business is what I have been dreaming of for a long time.  So why was I procrastinating on figuring this piece out?

After a short break from talking technical madness, I logged in to a chat room for Adobe and found that I needed to calibrate my monitor.  Funny how we didn’t cover that topic on the three hour call yet there it was, the simple answer.

After I thought about it, I realized this: I may get exactly what I wish for.  And even though I really want it, sometimes I just get scared of change and I self-sabotage.  

Can you relate?

I came up with a few simple thoughts on how to welcome success and how you can avoid your own case of self-sabotage:

  1. Visualize what you want.  When I can actually see in my mind how I want the ending to look, I feel more comfortable when it (or something close to it) appears in my life.  Fear of the unknown is no longer an obstacle.
  2. Act as if.  When I behave from the perspective that what I want is already in my life, it’s easy to incorporate it when it actually shows up.  I choose each minute of each day how to feel, why not choose what I want?
  3. Ask for Help.  There’s no need to reinvent the wheel!  There are soooo many people who have already done what I’m looking for, and they are so willing to help.  Some great options that help me all of the time?  On-line forums + social media communities.
  4. Understand the sacrifice you make by not winning.  What are you giving up by NOT succeeding?  For me, it was figuring out the hurdle of the monitor needing calibration to make prints that I was proud of.  There are options you are letting go of by not overcoming fear of success; identifying them can be a great motivator.
  5. Let go of expectations.  I know, I know, it’s not what you want to hear, but the main idea is to hold your expectations loosely–you never know when something even better may show up.

It’s not so scary when I break it down into those simple steps.  Maybe they will help you, too.  I’d love to hear about what small step you’re taking today to handle your fear of success here.

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How I Handle The Fear Of Success2018-03-29T20:23:14-04:00

Know When To Hold ‘Em, Know When To Fold ‘Em. (How To Make A Decision.)

Some people are just good at making decisions, are you one of them? Click through for 4 simple steps to walk you through how to make a decision so it's less overwhelming.

It seems like the older I get, the harder it can be to make a decision.  I’m not sure if it’s because I’m more conscientious, or that I’m noticing my perfectionist tendencies, but either way–I’ve recently noticed I don’t make decisions as quickly as I used to.

Understanding how to make a decision is the difference between being a child and an adult. I am lucky because I had a mostly easy childhood and didn’t have to make a lot of heavy decisions– there’s a tribe of people–parents, neighbors, classmates, friends + family that helped move me along to the next step.

But when do you figure it out how to make a decision on your own?

For example: I remember the moment I told my parents I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to college and that I thought I’d take a year off to explore.  Their response was, “that’s nice honey, now get in your room and finish your college applications.”  The decision was made for me; my parents didn’t let my fear of growing up get in the way of my progress.

Fast forward to post-college days; they were full of trial and error.  Left to my own devices, some of my decisions lingered longer for the mere fact that I didn’t know what I was doing.  My failed engagement sent me into a tailspin,  there were a few jobs that weren’t quite the right fit for me and my ever changing address kept me on the move; decisions during this time were made a lot by trial and error.

Now as a real adult, (what is that anyway? I recognize that each decision is a small piece of the puzzle of the life I am building.  No one is pushing me along anymore.  I am the creator of my own life.

And sometimes I’m afraid of making the wrong decision.  Aren’t we all?  But I’ve figured out a simple way to go through the decision process and not get overwhelmed.  You can easily walk your way through these steps, too:

1) Weigh the options.  Demistify the whole process.  Are there 4 different possibilities?  Write each one down and take into consideration the options they offer.  When you can see the different paths broken down step-by-step, it takes the mystery (and fear) out of each one.

2) Think about the what ifs.  What ifs can often bring you to a screeching halt, but to make a sound decision,  you have to consider each alternative.  There’s always this thought: what if I hate my decision?  What if it doesn’t work?  But there’s also this: What if I succeed beyond my wildest dreams?  The possibilities are endless.  If you hash out the most immediate ones, the options becomes more manageable.

3) Set a deadline to pull the trigger.  Give yourself some room to figure things out, but give yourself a deadline of when to decide.  Procrastination is the enemy of progress, especially with matters of the heart.  When you allow yourself some room but also set a goal of when to reign it in, you’ll feel better about exploring. 

4) Go for it.   You can’t accomplish anything if you don’t make a choice.  Check in with your gut and make a move.  Good or bad, actually taking some steps is a positive.  Things work out well?  Great, you now have more confidence.  Things falter a bit?  Find the learning point in there and keep moving forward.  And remember–it all works out in the end.

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Know When To Hold ‘Em, Know When To Fold ‘Em. (How To Make A Decision.)2018-03-29T20:23:19-04:00

The Secret To Happiness: Let Go of These 5 Lame Beliefs. {Part 2}

letting go and holding on

There are certain beliefs we have that stop us from being ultimately happy.  We don’t even realize where they come from because they are so ingrained into our psyche.  We grow up with these beliefs, (mostly from our parents but also from experiences) and we take them as concrete facts.

We may not even fully buy in to these ideas, but they are so intimately woven into our lives that we don’t see them for what they really are: half-truths.

Lame beliefs hold us prisoner and don’t offer any solace. They delay our growth and happiness.

Let’s let go of these things:

Let go of always wanting more.  We are conditioned to want more, but studies show we are happier with less.  There’s a saturation point for wanting things, both of a physical and emotional nature.  Don’t be a hoarder.

Let go of the fear of the unknown. There’s no magic bullet. You are going to have to figure things out as they come.  But fear is a contagious feeling and it will burrow deep in your heart if you let it.  Trust that things are happening as they should, then take a deep breath and keep moving forward.

Let go of feeling like time is running out.  Time is a man-made construct.  You are the ruler of your time, not the other way around.

Let go of the godforsaken drama.   Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. (Eleanor Roosevelt)  Don’t buy into someone else’s crazytown just because they’re bored and have nothing else to talk about.  Rise above the triteness and find other ways to nourish your soul.

Let go of needing to know the answers.  Enjoy the process and pace at which your life is moving.  If you knew everything all at once, you’d be overwhelmed and miserable.  Enjoy the unfolding of it all.

Make regular adjustments in your life.  It’s normal to change your mind, you’re entitled to grow and expand and move on.

Let go of those lame beliefs that no longer serve you.

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The Secret To Happiness: Let Go of These 5 Lame Beliefs. {Part 2}2018-03-29T20:23:24-04:00

Comparison is the thief of joy. {Don’t do it.}

you-are-more-than-awesome-you-re-amazingYOU ARE AMAZING.  Has anyone told you that lately?   You are amazing.  There is no one else in this world like you.  You are unique and beautiful and simply divine.

 There is a very special, very specific genius about you.  You have a very unique set of talents and skills; whether you hide them or show the world, is up to you. And I know showing up can be scary at times.

I remember when I was starting my abstract painting class a few years ago.  It’s full of adult painters that have been painting for quite sometime.  They all have a specific style, they know how to begin on a blank canvas (that can be tricky), and they know what to do for inspiration when they get stuck.

I remember the incredible frustration I felt during the first couple of months of class–I felt clumsy and foolish (I still do some days).  Learning something new as an adult can be downright painful at times.

I wanted so badly to paint what I was imagining in my head, but the translation from mind to canvas was just. not. happening.  I would look around and see how awesome the other paintings were and how badly my work sucked.

Comparing myself to others felt like a heavy weight in my heart because something that was supposed to be fun, had become a struggle.  That competitive instinct started to kick in and it didn’t feel good.  After all, I was taking this class to relax and explore my creativity; not to be the ‘best painter’ and earn a gold star.

comparison

So, I had a serious pep talk with myself.

I vowed that when I looked around the class, I would make myself see opportunities.  Instead of getting frustrated with what they were doing (and I was not), I promised I would make myself see the many techniques that I could copy and learn from.  My classmates were years ahead of me in training.  It was silly to think that I would catch up to them in a few months!

See, that’s the thing–when we compare ourselves to others, we don’t know where they are on the path.  We could be comparing our beginning steps to the middle of their journey;  It’s like comparing apples to sneakers.

When I reframed it from that beginner’s mind, I began to relax and find my own style.  When I stopped the comparison game, the very thing I was seeking had room to grow and show itself.  I just needed to get out of my own way.

There’s always going to be someone smarter and more successful than you because people don’t grow at the same pace, at the same time.  And that’s a good thing–we need others to inspire us, to show us what can be done. Just try to avoid the comparison game; it’s self defeating and only succeeds in stunting your growth.

Resist the urge to compare your insides to someone else’s outside.

It’s a losing battle and the view always looks better looking in.

Let go of the comparisons and dig in to your brilliance.  The world is waiting for you.

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Comparison is the thief of joy. {Don’t do it.}2018-03-29T20:23:26-04:00
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