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There’s an interesting maxim about how long wealth actually stays with a person and their descendants. The saying is three generations, tops: one to make it, one to spend it, and the third to blow it. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but have you ever sat down and seriously thought about wealth and what it means to you? Or do you figure, “What the heck, I’ve always been broke, my forefathers were broke; it’s generational” – it’s just a rite of passage of sorts. If you feel that wealth is out of your reach, you aren’t alone. According to some experts, there are millions of ‘clueless potential millionaires’ who could be at the top of the wealth ladder if they only reined in a few bad habits. However, you may be a skeptic, and rightly so. Being wealthy means different things to different people. But according to the experts, there are financial mistakes many people make that keep them away from their possible wealth.

What is Wealth Anyway? 

Most people do not equate wealth with a mansion or a big yacht. In fact, a scanty 7% of people surveyed associate wealth with material possessions like cars, houses and boats. Rather, to many, being rich means having just enough to not worry about the next payday – that’s according to 33% of those questioned. An additional 26% define being wealthy, or rich, as having more than enough money to quit their jobs. Still, few people place an actual dollar amount on what it means to be wealthy. Only 17% felt that being rich means having at least $1 million or more, and 11% stated a six-figure yearly income would make them feel rich. Yet most people who are rich don’t even consider themselves rich. Maybe it’s because being ‘rich’ or ‘wealthy’ has very little to do with material possessions, and more to do with how people feel about themselves. Nonetheless, according to financial experts you will never be rich if you are bogged down by anything on the following list:

1. Overspending

If you have a ferocious appetite for spending beyond your means, you’re not alone. According to a survey, of the 52% of people who habitually overspend, many balance the shortfall by taking from their savings, and 22% rely on credit cards. Blowing all your money each month is not a realistic pathway to wealth. Start tracking where your money goes each month, check where you can cut back, and create a ‘realistic’ budget that allows you to pay your bills and invest in a retirement account or an emergency fund.

2. Not Saving Enough

Welcome to the club! The personal savings percentage in the US is a measly 4.9% of disposable income. Saving should become a priority if you want to accumulate wealth. Start with an emergency fund. Once your emergency fund is substantial, you can redirect small amounts toward other goals like purchasing a home or paying for college.

3. You Have Too Much Debt

Certain debts are a precursor to financial success, like purchasing real estate or starting a business; however, a high-interest credit card balance is not. Pay off credit cards with the highest rates first.

4. You Don’t Have a Plan

Without a definite, clearly defined plan, becoming rich will seem like an unbelievable dream. This alone will solidify your excuses for overspending and not saving. As the saying goes, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” Putting together a financial plan may seem tedious, but it doesn’t have to be, and you can get used to it.

private villa

5. You Don’t Have an Emergency Fund

Experts say you need at least six months of income saved in case of an emergency. Life is tricky, and not having some type of safety net can turn a comfortable situation into a disaster.

6. You Started Late

Time is slipping by. Just like starting an exercise routine, the most difficult part about saving is getting started. Even if you have debt, a small income, or many expenses, you can save something, even if it’s only a small amount.

7. You Complain Rather Than Commit

“I don’t earn enough money”; “Life is too expensive”; “It’s hopeless, I’ll never get out of debt.” Have you uttered any of these statements before, or perhaps all of them? Old habits die hard; however, as long as you do nothing to change, nothing will change. Stop complaining and making excuses. Instead, take responsibility for your non-productive habits and concentrate on how to change them – and then do it!

Being rich is more than physical ownership

8. You Live for Today, and Forget About Tomorrow

It’s no fun getting serious and thinking about retirement and all that stuff. Nonetheless, eventually it has to be done. The problem is that impulsive and unregulated spending leads to debt… period! Do yourself a big favor: Get rid of the ‘buy now, worry later’ attitude, and switch to a ‘save now, get rich later’ way of thinking.



3 Simple Acts Of Kindness That Can Make Someone’s Day

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“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.” ~Oscar Wilde


It’s the small, everyday things that can make or break a day for us.


While we celebrate the role models who inspire thousands (in person or on Facebook!), for most of us everyday moments—a stranger jostling us in the shops, a car cutting us up at a light, someone pushing in front of us in line at the post office—can upset us out of all proportion.


But the flip side is that we can also be disproportionately pleased by the small actions of a stranger.


On a bad day recently, rushing down the road in Chiang Mai, Thailand, late for an appointment, I dropped my bag and things spilled all over the road. I looked at my possessions spread out in the dust beneath me and held back tears.


As I stood there, a Thai woman, tending a food cart at the side of the road, walked over and carefully helped me pick everything up. Then she smiled at me, patted my hand, and walked back to her stall.


This small act of kindness from a stranger reminded me to be kind to myself in turn, and I took a breath before continuing with my day, lighter in heart and mind.


Be that stranger. Here are three small acts of kindness you can carry out today.


Offer your help.


Last year I met someone who challenged himself to offer his help to one person every day.


One day, I was really ill, in a foreign country, alone. I had no way of getting to the shops. He offered his help and brought me groceries. It was a small thing for him. But I was hugely grateful, and it made a real impact on me, this almost-stranger providing practical help.


Now I try and offer my help more often.


At first I used to think no one would be interested in my help, or they’d be suspicious, or a hundred other reasons which stopped me offering. But even when people don’t need it, they appreciate being offered help.


I offered someone help with something they were carrying yesterday, and while he turned the help down, we exchanged a joke and a few words, and both of us went on our way happier.


And when people do need the help, you’ll be amazed at the long lasting impact it can have.


Be of service. Offer assistance.


Say thank you.


You might say thank you a hundred times a day. It’s a politeness, a courtesy. But how many times do you actually mean it? How many times are you still engaged in the conversation when you say it, and not turning away toward the next thing?


I have a friend who, when she writes birthday cards, doesn’t just write the usual “To Sarah, Happy Birthday, Love Mary,” but takes the time to write her friend a more heartfelt message.


She includes in that message some of the things she is grateful to the friend for doing for her that year. Getting a card from her doesn’t feel like a formality, it feels like a true connection. And her cards are the ones I remember.


Today, say thank you like you mean it. Catch the other person’s eye and say it firmly. “Thank you. I really appreciate your help.” It could be to the girl who serves you your caramel macchiato in Starbucks, or your dad for helping you out by putting that shelf up for you.


Or if face-to-face feels too personal or intimate, write a letter or a card to a friend thanking them for something specific they contributed to the friendship last year—their joy, their lightness of touch, the great presents they always buy you, their sense of humor.


Be grateful, and share that gratitude with the other person.


Compliment someone.


We judge others in our head all the time, just as we judge ourselves all the time. “I hate that dress she’s wearing; I look fat in that mirror; I can’t believe she just said that; that nail varnish is awful; he really can’t do that yoga pose…” It’s a constant narrative.


But we also think positive things in the same way: “I love that skirt; I wish my hair was that color; those shoes are great; he does a great downward dog; I wish I was that confident.”


In my last job, particularly when I was feeling negative (and knew it might leak out), I used to push myself to articulate the compliments I usually just said in my head. Sometimes the person I was complimenting was a little taken aback, but they were always pleased.


Put your focus on the positive by expressing it. Tell someone what you like, admire, appreciate. Share the love.


These actions might seem small, but not only do they make others’ lives better, they are also directly nourishing for you.  Being kind is good for your health.


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Article By: Ellen Bard

Overcoming The Fear Of Taking Risk: Just Do It

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“Fear is inevitable, I have to accept that, but I cannot allow it to paralyze me.” ~Isabelle Allende

About eight months ago I hitched a ride to Buenos Aires, Argentina via a one way ticket with the love of my life. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. I wasn’t throwing things in my suitcase and cashing out my bank account while kissing friends and family goodbye, sayin’ “See ya!”

My boyfriend and I were recent graduates at wits end suffering economic woes with no place to go. We had always wanted to go abroad to teach English, but weren’t sure where we’d end up.

At one o’clock in the morning after an argument over my apprehension, I just told him to book the tickets and I’d feel better.

Well, I thought I’d feel better. We finally booked our long anticipated flight. Champagne wasn’t popped and confetti didn’t cascade to the floor. I sat on the bed wondering why I felt so petrified to go. It had been a childhood dream of mine to travel abroad.

It was rather terrifying, and for the first time in my life I was afraid of an adventure.

Surprisingly, as I looked at our online itinerary my stomach sank. Nausea filled my days when I looked around knowing I was going to leave everything I knew.

I rationalized every excuse to get out of going but I reminded myself to persevere and that everything would work out. But the questions still popped up in my mind.

Was I making a mistake? Was this risk going to be worth every penny and hardship?

The night before our flight my stomach was curling into knots and my mind was a twisted mess. I tried telling myself to calm down and to just take the risk. I knew that if I could just get my butt into my window seat that everything would be fine. But even then my fear didn’t subside.

It wasn’t until the plane took off that I realized I had done it. I was twenty thousand miles in the air, and nine hours ahead of me was awaiting an entirely different world. But the fear was ever present. After a week of being a tourist, the fear remained hidden under a layer of excitement.

I couldn’t sleep, I was thousands of miles from home, only able to utter a few phrases in Spanish that I remembered from middle school.

I stayed in the apartment as much as possible because I was afraid to go out and communicate with others, let alone take a bus by myself and get lost some bad part of town.

With time, the fear slowly dissolved, the unfamiliar became familiar. We found jobs and an apartment within three weeks of arrival, a blessing considering we had no idea what we’d do when we got there. I had kept on despite my reluctance and faked a smile when I wanted to scream and run.

Everything worked out because I kept a positive affirmation despite the fear.

Many of my friends made excuses for themselves by letting me know how easy it was for me to just up and leave to a foreign country because of my circumstances, especially having a boyfriend who spoke fluent Spanish.

Yes, some of the opportunities I was afforded made the journey easier, but we worked our butts off, sold everything we owned, and packed up our few belongings into plastic bins.

My boyfriend, who is an optimist, was ecstatic and I looked calm because I wanted everyone else to believe that I was confident in my decision to up and leave.

From most people’s expressions and comments they didn’t believe we’d commit to actually boarding the plane, but I surprised everyone and even myself when I handed the boarding pass to the attendant and shook the pilots hand as I entered the plane.

The fear crippled my mind, but my legs managed to carry me to my seat.

Of Course There Will Be Doubt

Despite my crippling fear, sleepless nights, and fake demeanor, I knew deep down that I needed to take the risk; after all, that’s why it’s called a risk. Of course as with any life changing decision, you will doubt yourself.

You think Neil and Buzz weren’t freaking out before they got into an eight-ton firecracker that was going to take three days to get to the moon? They didn’t even know if they’d sink elbow deep in moon dust, but they took one small step for man, and an even greater leap for mankind.

I am sure that despite the years of preparation and endless simulations, they still had a sleepless night before one of humanity’s biggest risks.

Most people who take risks are kidding themselves if they don’t doubt themselves a teeny tiny bit. So do yourself a favor and take one small step toward your goal despite your apprehensions and gut-wrenching fear.

Fake It Until You Make It

Like I did, and so many other risk takers do, you have to fake it until you make it. It sounds cliché but it holds a boatload of truth. Use reverse psychology on yourself. You’re your own worst enemy. Tell yourself and others that you are confident about taking the risk and notice how your apprehension will dissolve.

Nurture the Positives, not the Fear

Print out some pictures of your risk and tape them on your ceiling so when you wake up with cold sweats, you can remind yourself that you are going to do what it is that you set out to do. I put pictures of Patagonia as my desktop screensaver to remind me of the beauty I would experience in Argentina.

Write a pros list and forget the cons. Focus on the major pros. Cons can always be worked through.

Whether it is lack of money, not knowing the language, being thousands of miles away from home, I knew that it was what I had always wanted to do and I could find money by selling all my things, or start learning basic phrases or use Skype to talk to friends and family. There is a positive to every negative.

No Excuses: Just Do It

Even worse, don’t make excuses about why you shouldn’t do it. Nowadays, we make excuses for everything. I’m too busy, I don’t have the money, or I don’t want to disappoint others. Make every excuse why you should do it.

Despite my crippling fear which gave me many sleepless nights, I stuck with it and kept telling myself “We already bought the tickets.” Like the Nike slogan, I needed to “Just Do It.” Perpetual excuses will pour from your mouth, but remember fear shouldn’t be a chain holding you back.

Don’t let fear paralyze you; close your eyes and imagine that everything will work out.

Don’t expect the unexpected and focus on what could go well. Just as life will have its highs and lows, taking a risk comes with excitement and terror. Fear is only natural when taking a risk. So go on! Jump out of that plane (with a parachute of course) into the world of your dreams.

Photo by _overanalyzer

Ten Foods That Bloat Your Belly

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              Ten Foods That Bloat Your Belly


By Erin Palinski-Wade from Belly Fat Diet For Dummies


Belly-bloating foods work in different ways. Some things you eat can increase gas in your stomach, making your abdomen look and feel distended. Even though this bloating is only temporary, it can still be uncomfortable and make your pants feel quite snug around your waistline. Other foods can lead to long-term belly bloat from increased visceral fat storage.


Bloat-inducing bagels


If you go to the bagel store or a deli, you almost always get a huge bagel made with 100 percent refined flour. That refined flour sets off the cascading events of elevated blood sugar, elevated insulin levels, and increased belly fat storage.


If you’re a bagel lover, don’t worry. Healthier options exist. Aim for a small bagel (the size of the palm of your hand), and make sure it’s made with 100 percent whole grains.


Cabbage-powered gas


Cabbage is a vegetable known for increasing gas production in the gastrointestinal tract during digestion. Gas-producing vegetables are often easier to digest and break down when cooked well. So, choose cooked over raw. And don’t eat large quantities of cabbage on a day you want your waistline to look slim.


Bloat from carbonated water


For one to three hours after drinking carbonated water, you may feel as though your belly has expanded. The carbonation can make your stomach look distended and cause clothing to fit more snuggly around your midsection.


If you really love carbonated beverages, aim to drink just one glass per day. Also, avoid carbonated beverages a few days before an event or outing where you want your belly to look as flat as possible.


Cola (including diet cola) for a too-full feeling


A cola may contain sugar, corn syrup, or another liquid sweetener. All of these sweeteners increase fat storage right in your abdominal area. High sugar content, especially in liquid form, immediately raises blood sugar, which in turn spikes insulin levels. This elevated insulin level signals your body to begin storing the excess sugar as fat.


Diet soda doesn’t contain sugar, but it still has carbonation. Diet sodas are also packed full of artificial sweeteners. These sweeteners are foreign chemicals to your body, so when they’re consumed in excessive amounts, they may increase inflammation, which in the long run can increase health risks and belly fat. Your best solution is to try a naturally flavored seltzer or a glass of water with a splash of lemon or lime juice for added flavor.


Waist-expanding risk of fried foods


Deep-fried foods can cause you to feel heavy and sluggish because the high levels of fat in these foods slow digestion. Commercially fried foods often contain the most dangerous of all fats: trans fats. These fats in even small amounts have been linked to many negative health effects (such as heart disease). They can also significantly elevate inflammation in your body.


If you love fried foods, try breading the foods in whole-grain flour and pan-frying them in a small amount of olive oil (or baking them instead). The foods will come out crispy and delicious without all the dangerous fat.


Downside of ice cream


Ice cream contains a large amount of sugar, and foods high in sugar cause both blood sugar and insulin levels to rise, resulting in the storage of more belly fat. Because ice cream is a milk product, it also contains high levels of lactose, the sugar found in milk. Many individuals have lactose intolerance, which causes them to have trouble breaking down lactose and leads to increased gas production, bloat, and even diarrhea.


Extreme temperatures in foods, such as very cold (like ice cream), can also stress the gastrointestinal tract and lead to cramping and bloating.


Sausage stored as fat


Sausage is a fatty meat that’s loaded with unhealthy saturated fat. This fat clogs arteries and may also increase inflammation, which has a direct link to belly fat storage. Sausage is almost always high in sodium as well. And food high in sodium causes your body to retain water, giving your belly a bloated look and feel.


Sausage made with leaner meats like turkey, chicken, or venison contains less saturated fat and fewer calories. Even leaner options can be high in sodium, so save them for occasional treats rather than meal staples.


Sugar alcohols as sweet substitutes


Sugar alcohols are sugar substitutes that can only be partially digested by the body. Many times you see these in foods like sugar-free candy, gum, and snacks. They’re often listed as xylitol, sorbitol, and maltitol. Because they’re only partially digested in your body, they provide fewer calories per gram than actual sugar, but they also can cause gastrointestinal side effects, such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea.


Gum containing sugar alcohols can have some health benefits, such as helping to prevent dental cavities. It also has no impact on blood sugar and insulin levels due to the low glycemic index of sugar alcohols.


Aired-up with sugar-free gum


Chewing gum, in general, while fine to do, can lead to the swallowing of air. The more air that you swallow, the more this air accumulates in your gastrointestinal tract, which can cause bloating, pressure, and belly expansion.


White rice for a bigger belly


White rice has been refined and stripped of the outermost and innermost layers of grain, removing most of the fiber, nutrients, and proteins. White rice digests rapidly in your body, creating that cascading effect of increased insulin levels, increased fat storage, and an increased waistline over time. Also, as a refined grain, white rice offers a low level of satiety. So you’ll eat it, won’t feel very full, and then eat more.


If rice is a staple in your diet, you can keep it that way. Simply choose a less-processed option instead. Brown rice and wild rice can be substituted for white rice in almost any recipe and are much friendlier to your waistline!


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Jairam Singhal

Like millions of people, Jairam Singhal has diabetes.

Unlike most of those people, he chooses to treat it in a manner most people might find repulsive: Drinking cow urine.

Every morning for the past 10 years, Singhal, 42, has guzzled down a glass of pee harvested fresh from a virgin cow at a cattle shelter near his home in Agra, India.

As gross as his medicine sounds, he swears by cow urine therapy.

“I had diabetes, but ever since I have started drinking cow urine, my diabetes levels have been under control,” he said, according to the Mirror. “Someone told me drinking cow urine is good for health.

“We have had cows here for over 12 years now, so first thing in the morning we take cow urine and drink it.”

As a Hindu, Singhal believes that cows are sacred animals.

However, he said that the cow urine craze is relatively recent.

“Lots of people come here. And of late, the numbers have been rising. We all gather in the morning and drink fresh urine that Mother cow offers us,”Singhal said, according to the Daily Mail. “Just a few years ago, there would hardly be anyone interested in taking cow urine from our shelter. “But today lots of people come to our cow shelter. There are cancer patients sometimes — they want to see the benefits of cow urine.”

He is hoping to spread the so-called benefits of cow urine by putting it into eye drops, soaps, toothpaste and stomach medicine.

Hindu priest Ramesh Gupta stresses that not every cow’s pee is holy.

“The cow, whose urine one has to drink, should be a virgin — she must not have delivered a calf. Also, the urine is to be collected just before sunrise — that urine has the best effect,” he said.

Urine therapy has been practiced since the ancient Romans used pee as a tooth whitener.

Drinking urine is relatively safe, but there’s a wee problem with the claims of people like Singhal and Gupta: There’s no proof it works on diseases like diabetes or cancer.

In 2008, the American Cancer Society declared that the “available scientific evidencedoes not support claims that urine or urea given in any form is helpful for cancer patients.”

There is another side effect to drinking cow urine that Jessica Simpson discovered while filming her 2010 VH-1 reality series “The Price Of Beauty.”

“In Mumbai, we drank cow urine because it detoxes you and it’s good for your skin,” Simpson said. “I puked that up like all over the place.”

25 Reasons Why You Should Smoke Weed???

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1) Nobody has ever died from smoking pot.

2) Marijuana users report less depression

3) Marijuana does not cause emphysema, unlike tobacco.

4) Marijuana does not cause cancer (and if you smoke it you are actually slightly less likely to get cancer)

5) THC actually helps cleanse the lungs, preventing tumors

6) Daily marijuana use doesn’t damage your brain.

7) There has never been a study to link marijuana with psychological problems, though it’s not for a lack of trying.

8) Marijuana is NOT a gateway drug.

9) Marijuana fights hardened arteries

10) Marijuana has both stalled the growth of and eliminated brain tumors in rats. Such an experiment has yet to be done on humans.

11) Not that herd mentality is a good reason, but you’re not alone. Marijuana is the US’s number one crop.

12) Sex gets a whole lot better

13) 15 million people smoke it a month (US only).

16) Marijuana can prevent blindness.

17) Marijuana can prevent migraines.

18) Marijuana is less addictive than caffeine. There is no physical addiction but a slight mental addiction can develop.

19) In 1977 the DEA wanted to decriminalize marijuana.

20) Haven’t you always wanted to be able to laugh at Pauly Shore?

21) Because legality isn’t a good enough reason for you to not smoke. Slavery was once legal and sodomy was once illegal; legality is a horrid barometer for morality.

22) Because getting “high” isn’t “bad.” Though you may not realize it, eating meat or candy or fried foods or vegetables or drinking coffee, tea, or soda all effect your mental state. All of these things can make you “high.”

23) Because we don’t yet know all of the benefits of marijuana; the government has tried for years to prove that it is harmful and has consistently failed. Very few studies have explored its benefits.

24) Because you would be in the company of Louis Armstrong, the Beatles, Bob Denver, Bill Clinton, George Bush (okay, never mind him), famous scientist Carl Sagan, Michael Bloomberg, Lewis Caroll, George Washington Carver, Salvador Dali, Al Gore, Steve Jobs, John kennedy, John Wayne, and George Washington.

5 Reasons You Should Stop Caring What People Think.

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If you’re one of those people who constantly worries what others think of you, this article may help you get off in the right direction, reversing those unpleasant thoughts. No matter what it is that you obsess about — looking good for complete strangers, listening to rumors, getting into a negative cycle — this article should help let you begin to turn your life around.

1) Stop judging others

The times in my life I’ve been most self-conscious have been the times I’ve been most judgmental of others. These two qualities seem directly tied to each other, and may even be the same thing. The more agitated I am about the actions and apparent beliefs of other people, the more I feel like they’re all judging me, they’re being unfair.
At least most of the time, the feeling of being judged by others is actually caused by your judging yourself. If you think about it, you can’t actually experience the judgments of others. The only judgmental thoughts you can experience directly are your own. If you often “feel” harsh disapproval from others, I would bet you often disapprove of others with similar harshness. The more accepting you are, the more accepted you feel.

Like I said, for most of my life I couldn’t bear the thought of another person regarding me as bad or wrong. The most efficient way to avoid risking that was to interact with people as little as possible. This becomes a habit. I know now that I was so afraid of appearing bad or wrong because of how intensely I judged others for appearing bad or wrong to me.

I am convinced that for most people, learning to minimize habitual judgments of others is all they need to do to alleviate the bulk of self-consciousness and the pain ofworrying what others will think of you. If you put any of these tips into practice, make it this one. It will get you most of the way.

Nonjudgment is a powerful practice for personal transformation, and this becomes self-evident once you begin to experiment with it. It’s a major theme in Eastern philosophy and spiritual practices, but it doesn’t need to be spiritual at all. The best place to learn nonjudgment is through mindfulness and loving-kindness meditation.

2) Hold other people’s freedom of thought as highly as you hold their freedom of speech

Understand that others have every right not to like you, and their reasons are none of your business. Almost everyone recognizes the importance of every individual’s freedom of speech, even if we don’t like what they say. Yet we somehow convince ourselves that it is unacceptable for others to even think badly of us. While there are necessary limitations to freedom of speech, (making threats for example) freedom of thought is inalienable. Others have every right to think whatever they want, and you should respect that to an even greater degree than you do freedom of speech. Nobody owes you explanation or justification for their thoughts. Thoughts do not have to be fair, sensible, or pleasant. Personal thought is utterly private territory.

Furthermore, people don’t choose what thoughts they have. Thoughts happen to us like weather happens to us. Modern neuroscience tells us that we don’t actually have freedom of belief. A person cannot make himself believe whatever he wants — to truly believe something, it must feel true given what he already believes. So the beliefs we end up with are essentially predetermined by outside forces, which means you can’t logically blame people for their beliefs. We can hold people accountable for their actions, but not for their beliefs, because they never chose them. [This is also the tip of a huge discussion. For more, check out The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris]

So resist the temptation to blame your Catholic grandmother for disapproving of your views on sex and relationships. It is not her fault, and it’s probably useless (and rude) to try to change her just so that you can feel like nobody sees any faults in you.

The belief that you ought to worry about (and try to change) what others think requires you to believe that you actually can reliably change the views of another person. In real life this is almost impossible, and so the sooner you recognize that other people’s thoughts are off-limits to you, the sooner you will lose your anxiety about them.

3) Notice your impulse to seek scraps of approval

We all would rather have others laugh when we make a joke, and nod when we make a point. It feels good, and we naturally seek good feelings even if they lead us to bad places. If you get hooked on those little moments of approval, then anxiety can grow around the possibility of not getting them. The more you need approval, even in the smallest doses, the more disapproval hurts, and the more you will interpret it as a sign that there is something wrong with you.

When I grew up I quickly became addicted to regular doses of social approval. I felt that the number of these shows of approval from others (compliments, assurances, laughs and looks of admiration) made a good barometer for whether I was moving towards happiness. Disapproval was a sign that there was something wrong with me and that I need to change what I’m doing — or worse, who I am.

This might make sense if we were all the same person and all valued the same things, but we’re not. There’s no reason to believe your parents’ religion makes sense for you to practice, or that you shouldn’t make art just because your friends don’t get it.

You lose nothing when people don’t laugh at your joke or agree with your point. You stand to lose a lot when when you let your sense of worth depend on it. Habitual approval-seeking behavior is how you become your most awkward, painful self — by bringing visible self-doubt and neediness to every action.

Often the most gratifying achievements in our lives become accessible to us only when we knowingly expose ourselves to the disapproval of others. Still, we all develop a tendency to seek these scraps of approval like breadcrumbs, and if we’re not aware of that tendency, we follow the trail without looking where it’s going. Notice the impulse to reach for these breadcrumbs, and when you do, consciously withdraw your hand. Leave them for the birds.

4) Realize your self-image is not who you are, and that it will always feel at least partly wrong

We all have a self-image at any given moment in which we think about ourselves — a mental impression that represents the person you are right now. But this image is nowhere near enough information to represent a whole person, no matter how attractive or ugly it is. Images are thin and devoid of detail or possibility. Human beings are endlessly complex and dynamic. You can’t know a person by examining a momentary impression of them any more than you can know an entire country by looking at a few photos of it — even though we do it all the time, even to ourselves.

So the figure I see in the mirror, and all the peripheral thoughts that it triggers — how I feel about that guy, what I like about him and don’t like about him, what I expect will happen to him, what I wish had happened to him earlier — all that changes. It can be different at any given time. The impression I have of that image today is different to some degree from any one of the other thousands of impressions I’ve gotten from looking at him over the last thirty years. I find a different self-image every time I look for one, and that means none can be trusted.

~From “All self-images are false”

Your self-image is constantly changing, always overemphasizing certain traits (usually its imperfections) and leaving out other parts entirely, and it always tries to come off as a reliable assessment of who you are. But it can never represent you accurately, because it’s nothing but a comparatively minuscule ball of interchangeable thoughts about your life.

If you’re not your self-image, who are you then? You are the present-moment experiencer of those thoughts — and everything else in this world. You experience passing self-images in the same way you experience passing weather, passing bodily sensations, passing trends and passers-by on the sidewalk. They drift into your awareness, their appearances changing the whole while, and then they are gone and can only be remembered.

A self-image will always be unacceptable anyway. Because it’s a churning mess of emotionally-backed thoughts, it will always contain at least one aspect that doesn’t sit right with you, so there’s no way to perfect it. Do something to relieve one insecurity and another one pops up. You can spend your whole life trying to rid your self-image of aspects you don’t like and you’ll never get there. It’s designed to let you down and keep you making changes. It’s a treadmill.

Learn to expect it to be what it is: needy and impossible to satisfy, showing a different face to everyone and to every moment — an altogether inadequate representation of who you are. But expect it to be there.

This is a crucial idea. More here.

5) Find the like-minded

This is not a prescription to “stick to your own kind”, or to find an echo chamber where you can’t learn anything new. Rather, it means to find the people out there in the world who love what you love. Sharing a passion with another person lends you a stable source of self-esteem along with a sense of solidarity. Music people, for example, love music, and they also love music people, and specifically they love their love of music. Once you find this level of connection and solidarity with even one other person, approval from people who don’t share those values starts to feel irrelevant.

Often we’re born into families, social circles, cities or even entire societies where the norms don’t feel right to us. Opposing values can lead to interpersonal friction and alienation. Nonjudgment and open-mindedness can go a long way in allowing you to find a sense of belonging even in places where you’re the eccentric one.

But sometimes, if the interpersonal friction is too great, you do need to remove people from your life, or remove yourself from a particular place or social situation. It is entirely possible that no matter how nonjudgmental you become yourself, certain others will always disapprove and say so, and that their company will no longer be worth your time. For example, if your parents are staunch fundamentalists, they may never be able to accept that you are gay or that you don’t believe in God. They may never lose their need to try to make the world conform to their beliefs, and that may mean that it no longer makes sense for you to attend family gatherings any more. These can be hard decisions to make, but it doesn’t make sense to suppress your values to appease others.

Find the people who love what you love. They are out there, no matter how little you have in common with the mainstream. Human beings are built for loving, they just sometimes let certain aspects of their neediness get in the way of their ability to love — self-doubting would-be artists and intolerant parents alike.

This can make a huge difference to your quality of life. Moving to another household, neighborhood, city or even country is often a relatively small price to pay for a consistently higher level of self-esteem and fulfillment. People do it all the time, and they wonder how they ever got along before. For all the personal freedoms enjoyed by members of the “first world”, most of us invest too little conscious attention in creating living situations that allow us to be fully who we are, with a real sense of freedom.


It’s hard to describe the feeling of shedding self-consciousness, but it is a physical feeling with physical habit changes. It feels like there is much less that’s off-limits to you. You find yourself less attracted to the edges of rooms. You accept more invitations. You fidget less. You stop waiting for others to do the talking. You ask for things you want. You do less hoping that others will behave a certain way. You do less hoping altogether. It no longer seems necessary.