Going light.

Going light.

There are so many messages on how we’re supposed to live life, and on how to do it well. This can feel overwhelming, even paralyzing. So if you want to live the best life possible, how do you figure out what to do?

It’s simple. Get in the habit of going light. When you take this route you’ll make the right choices for you.

This seems like such an obvious suggestion, but as humans, we‘re naturally drawn to the rich fabric of anything complicated, chaotic, and dramatic. This heaviness ends up distracting us from true peace, joy and contentment. And we’re so overwhelmed by our own clutter—all the physical, mental and emotional stuff we’re carrying around day-in and day-out, that we miss out on the things that matter most.

So what can clutter look like?

Mental clutter is just as real as physical clutter (what we own and what we eat). Examples of mental clutter are thoughts that you should be or shouldn’t be doing something. Thoughts that you’re not enough or that you’re too much. Thoughts that you need to do it all to be lovable.

Experts claim we have 60,000+ thoughts a day, with 80% being negative and 95% a repeat of the thoughts we had the day before. How’d we get this way? We no longer have to watch out for threats of our ancestors like sabertooth tigers or wooly mammoths. Instead, we have impossibly full schedules with long lists of to-dos and fast-food easily available on every corner. As a result, we are living in a constantly stressed state—both mentally and physically.

Emotional clutter stems from mental clutter that things should be or shouldn’t be a certain way. Emotional clutter consists of feelings that keep you trapped in a reality that you don’t like. Usually, these feelings stem from thoughts that cause us to feel shame, want us to blame, or lead us to complain. One way to know that you’re carrying some emotional clutter? Wishing things were different but not doing anything to make them different.

So what do we do?

How do we uncover and honor the things that matter most?

We pause. We sit still. We create gaps in our thoughts and we listen. And then when confronted with a choice, we intentionally simplify and choose to go light.

I don’t say go light, lightly. Going light isn’t superficial, it’s one of the most powerful pathways to intentionality there is. So trust the deep knowing inside of you. Ask yourself, does thinking this thought, feeling this feeling, or taking this action feel light or heavy? If it feels light go with it. If it feels heavy, that’s where you have work to do. So go ahead and get quiet. And then when you’re ready, take a deep breath and choose to go light.

With every decision—what you eat and drink, how you move your body, what time you go to bed, who you hang out with, how you spend your time and money—you have the power to choose simplicity over complication.

One thing is for sure. You won’t go wrong if you go light. When you go light, life feels easier, you find your flow and you can’t help, but flourish.

Based on an article from Heather Aardema

Mantras to stay Positive.

Mantras to stay Positive.

Amidst the pandemic, each of us has encountered unique challenges and stressors. While the economic, mental, and emotional difficulties are real — and there’s no easy “fix” or escape — how we view our experience can make a big difference. In fact, science tells us that what we tell ourselves in challenging moments matters. Even one negative word can activate the fear center of the brain and impact our ability to reason. On the contrary, empowering or perspective-shifting words or phrases can help us reframe and course-correct from stress in real time.  

We asked our Thrive community to share with us the mantras that are helping them stay optimistic and resilient during this time. Which of these will you try?

“I don’t break, I bend.”

“The mantra, ‘I don’t break, I bend’ has helped me remain resilient over the course of the last few months. This mantra reminds me that I am flexible, adaptable, and unshakeable in the face of adversity. When fear creeps in, I am reminded that I can handle it and will not fall victim to it. When I’m having a bad day, I write this on a sticky note and stick it on my monitor to help keep me going.”

—Alyssa Swantkoski, executive assistant, Denver, CO

“Clear on the outcomes, flexible on the approach.”

“For the past fifteen years, I have lived by a simple but powerful mantraDuring the pandemic, this mantra has resonated more than ever before. Everything from working to exercising to raising children has been upended. Staying focused on critical outcomes — for example, quarterly revenue goals, health benchmarks, and educational goals for children — is critical. You might not be able to approach your goals as you did in the past, but it doesn’t mean you can’t keep reaching and exceeding your goals. Shifting focus from uncertainty to outcomes is a great way to reclaim efficacy.”

—Dr. Camille Preston, business psychology at AIM Leadership, Cambridge, MA

“Trust the process.”

“My family members are all huge basketball fans. I am more of a casual basketball observer. Even though I am not a loyalist, I am a fan of the 76ers motto, ‘Trust the process.’ It has become my go-to affirmation during this time. Although there will continue to be uncertainty, I believe having patience, faith, hope and trusting the process will help us grow and rebuild.” 

—Monique Johnson, nonprofit COO, Richmond, VA

“I am not alone in this.”

“In these high stress moments, I sometimes get momentarily lost in the personal challenges COVID-19 has created for me. In those moments, I try to shift my focus by repeating the following mantra: ‘I am not alone in this.’ I remind myself that there are so many others who are facing greater challenges through this pandemic. It gives me perspective, and helps me feel grateful that I am able to manage my challenges.”  

—Marcia J. Hylton, corporate marketing strategist, El Paso, TX

“Warrior.”

“My mantra that I like to repeat to myself is ‘Warrior.’ I keep telling myself that I am a warrior and I’m strong enough to face any adversity that comes my way. When anything happens, I ask myself: ‘How would a warrior behave in this scenario?’  It’s a simple way of getting yourself into the right frame of mind to face any challenge!”

—Celia Gaze, managing director, Bolton, UK

“Live right. Be worthy. Make a difference.”

“Resilience is a journey of grace and forgiveness — for myself and others. This phrase helps me feel grounded, hold myself accountable, reinforce my dedication to serving others, and know that we are all worthy of love. It’s been my go-to mantra throughout this time.”

—Elizabeth Blackney, activist, Williamsburg, VA

Turn fear into fuel.”

“I use this mantra as a reminder to myself that being scared is not a reason not to do something that could be productive, interesting, or put myself or my business in forward motion. And the added bonus is that if it is something I need to say this about, then typically I am that much more proud of the accomplishment when it’s done.”

—Suzy Haber Wakefield, apparel design consultant, Montclair, NJ

“I am the hero of my own life.”

“This is the title of a guided journal by Brianna Wiest, and repeating this mantra reminds me to always focus on what I can control, rather than what I can’t. It reminds me that nearly everything is in my hands and that I can choose to respond to whatever I’m faced with however I want. It also reminds me to consistently demand the best for myself: whether that’s how I spend my time, the projects I say yes to, or the people I work with. It reminds me not to settle for ordinary or to hold back when I know I have something worthwhile to contribute.”

—Jodie Cook, social media agency owner, UK

“Small progress is still progress.”

“Working in senior living and healthcare, this has been the mantra I’ve been living by during the pandemic. These are words of encouragement for those who have struggled. Our landscape has changed each day, often hour to hour, and everyone has brought something to the table to provide some hope and stability to our residents and families.”

—Tamara White, training and education partner, Kitchener, ON, Canada

“Breathe.”

“Whenever I start feeling out of sorts, triggered, or anxious, I remind myself to breathe. I then immediately start focusing on my breath, and with awareness, my breath automatically starts to change; it starts deepening and becomes fuller. This mantra is my reminder to expand on consciously deepening my breath. I stay in the moment, breathing in and out, which calms my body and mind, and grounds me. It works every time.”

—Donna Melanson, yoga teacher, Boca Raton, FL

“I have wisdom within.”

“One phrase that I have found powerful during this time has been ‘I have wisdom within.’ This small mantra reminds me daily to slow down the mind chatter and tune into the knowledge base that exists in my bones. It has been so powerful that I have shared it with friends as a way to remind ourselves to tune in and listen, versus tune out and give our power away.”

—Dr. Tricia Wolanin, clinical psychologist and community wellness consultant , Bury St. Edmunds, UK

“You are already everything that you want to be.”

“When I wake up in the morning, the first words that come out of my mouth are ‘You are already everything that you want to be.’ It’s my belief that most of us tend to want things from a place of lack which only attracts more lack. Knowing and stating that I already have what I want takes desperation out of the equation. It always helps me reframe.”

—Wemi Opakunle, author and coach, Los Angeles, CA

Do you have a go-to mantra that helps you stay resilient in difficult situations? Share it with us in the comments.

by Thrive Global

Letting Life Unfold.

Letting Life Unfold.

Present time can be hard, but life unfolds as it will and the universe will wait as we make our way into the unknown.

Our lives are guided by natural rhythms that are particular to each of us and cannot be altered by force of will alone. Life itself is a journey made up of processes and events that manifest before us only to be swept away when time marches on.

Whether we envision ourselves creating a career, building a family, or developing the self, we instinctively know when the time has come for us to realize our dreams because all that is involved comes together harmoniously. When the time is right, the passage of destiny cannot be blocked. Yet as desperate as we are to touch these beautiful futures we have imagined, we cannot grow if we are not fully present in the evolutionary experience.

The present can be challenging, uncomfortable, and tedious, but life unfolds as it will, and the universe will wait patiently as we make our way into the unknown.

The fate that awaits us is not dependent on our pace, which was preordained before we ever appeared in human guise. Therefore there is no reason to rush through life to reach those pinnacles of development associated with the paths we have chosen.

Enjoying and fully experiencing the journey of life is as important as achieving goals and reaching milestones. There are lessons we can learn during those moments that seem immaterial or insignificant that we cannot learn at any other time.

Appreciating these takes patience, however, because human beings tend to focus on the fulfillment of expectations rather than the simple joys of being.

Like many people, you have no doubt longed for a device that would give you the power to fast forward through certain periods of your existence. Yet haste is by its very nature vastly more stressful than serene fortitude. When you feel yourself growing impatient because the pace of your development is deceptively slow, remember that everything that will occur in your life will occur in its own time. Quelling your urge to rush will enable you to witness yourself learning, changing, and becoming stronger.

There is so much to see and do in between the events and processes that we deem definitive. If you are patient enough to take pleasure in your existence’s unfolding, the journey from one pinnacle to the next will seem to take no time at all.

By Madisyn Taylor

Learning from Children.

Learning from Children.

By Madisyn Taylor

When we approach children with the awareness that they can teach us, we become more present ourselves.

As grown-ups, we often approach children with ideas about what we can teach them about this life to which they have so recently arrived. It’s true that we have important information to convey, but children are here to teach us just as much as we are here to teach them. They are so new to the world and far less burdened with preconceived notions about the people, situations, and objects they encounter. They do not avoid people on the basis of appearance, nor do they regard shoes as having only one function. They can be fascinated for half an hour with a pot and a lid, and they are utterly unself-conscious in their emotional expressions. They live their lives fully immersed in the present moment, seeing everything with the open-mindedness born of unknowing.

This enables them to inhabit a state of spontaneity, curiosity, and pure excitement about the world that we, as adults, have a hard time accessing. Yet almost every spiritual path calls us to rediscover this way of seeing. In this sense, children are truly our gurus.

When we approach children with the awareness that they are our teachers, we automatically become more present ourselves. We have to be more present when we follow, looking and listening, responding to their lead. We don’t lapse so easily into the role of the director of activities, surrendering instead to having no agenda at all. As we allow our children to determine the flow of play, they pull us deeper into the mystery of the present moment. In this magical place, we become innocent again, not knowing what will happen next and remembering how to let go and flow.

Since we must also embody the role of loving guide to our children, they teach us how to transition gracefully from following to leading and back again. In doing so, we learn to dance with our children in the present moment, shifting and adjusting as we direct the flow from pretending to be kittens wearing shoes on our heads to making sure everyone is fed and bathed.
Riding the Wave of Life.

Riding the Wave of Life.

By Madisyn Taylor

While riding the wave of life you must also practice stillness so you can flow with, rather than resist the wave’s motion.

Our lives are continually in motion, buoyed by the wave that is the universe’s flow. As the wave rises and falls, we are carried forward, through life’s high and low points. The universe’s flow may take us to a place in life where we would rather not be.

As tempting as it can be to fight the direction and size of this wave that propels us, riding the wave is intended to make life easier. When you ride the wave, your life can evolve naturally and with minimal effort.

Riding the wave, however, is not a passive experience. It is an active process that requires you to be attentive, centered, and awake. You must also practice stillness so you can flow with, rather than resist the wave’s motion.

Because life is dynamic and always changing, it is when we try to make the wave stand still or resist its direction that we are likely to get pulled under by its weight. If you try to move against the wave, you may feel as if you are trapped by it and have no control over your destiny.

When you reach a low point while riding the wave and find your feet touching bottom, remember to stay standing so that you can leap forward along with the wave the next time it rises. Trying to resist life’s flow is a losing proposition and costly because you waste energy.

Riding the wave allows you to move forward without expending too much of your own efforts. When you ride the wave, you are carried by it and your head can “stay above water” as you go wherever it takes you.

It can be difficult to trust the universe and let go of the urge to fight life’s flow, and you may find it easier to ride the wave if you can stay calm and relaxed.

Riding the wave will always take you where you need to go.
Now is the Time.

Now is the Time.

BY MADISYN TAYLOR

The time to blossom is now, not sometime in the future when you believe the stars will be aligned for you.

Having a vision for our future that differs from our current circumstances can be inspiring and exciting, but it can also keep us from fully committing to our present placement. We may become aware that this is happening when we notice our thoughts about the future distracting us from our participation in the moment. We may find upon searching our hearts that we are waiting for some future time or situation in order to self-actualize. This would be like a flower planted in North Dakota putting off blooming because it would prefer to do so in Illinois. 

There are no guarantees in this life, so when we hold back we do so at the risk of never fully blossoming. This present moment always offers us the ground in which we can take root and open our hearts now. What this means is that we live fully, wherever we are, not hesitating because conditions are not perfect, or we might end up moving, or we haven’t found our life partner. This can be scary, because we might feel that we are giving up our cherished dreams if we do not agree to wait for them.

But this notion that we have to hold back our life force now in order to find happiness later doesn’t really make sense. What might really be happening is that we are afraid to embrace this moment, and ourselves, just exactly as we are right now. This constitutes a tendency to hold back from fully loving ourselves, as we are, where we are. 

We have a habit of presenting life with a set of conditions–ifs and whens that must be fulfilled before we will say yes to the gift of our lives. Now is the time for each of us to bloom where we are planted, overriding our tendency to hold back.

Now is the time to say yes, to be brave and commit fully to ourselves, because until we do no one else will. Now is the time to be vulnerable, unfolding delicately yet fully into the space in which we find ourselves.

The Flow.

The Flow.

BY MADISYN TAYLOR

Life energy flows through us like a swift stream, when there is nothing to obstruct it.

The essence of all being is energy. Our physical and ethereal selves depend on the unrestricted flow of life energy that is the source of wholeness and wellness. Though the channels through which this energy flows are open systems and influenced by factors outside of our control, we ultimately choose what impact these will have in our lives. It is up to us to identify and clear blockages in the energy field to ensure that flow is maintained.

A healthy, grounded individual absorbs some portion of the energy emitted by other people and the environment, but this does not interrupt the continuous stream of balanced energy sustaining them. The same individual copes constructively with stress and upset, and they are not subject to the stagnation that frequently goes hand in hand with negativity. When we keep the energy in and around our bodies flowing harmoniously, we are naturally healthy, vibrant, and peaceful. 

Life energy flows through us like a swift stream when there is nothing to obstruct it, but various forces such as trauma, downbeat vibrations, and disappointments act like stones that impede the current. If we allow these to pile up, our life energy is thrown off its course or blocked entirely, causing illness, restlessness, and a lack of vigor.

If, however, we take the time to clear these forces away, we rob them of the power to impact our lives. When we cultivate simple yet affirmative habits such as taking regular cleansing baths, practicing meditation and breathing exercises, smudging, and self-shielding, we protect ourselves from outside influences that might otherwise impede our energy flow. Likewise, we lessen the impact of inner influences when we clear our auras of unwanted attachments and divest ourselves of blocked emotions. 

A strong and fluid energy field is the key that unlocks the doors of self-healing and peace of mind. Your awareness of the flow of energy sustaining you empowers you to take charge of your own well-being by taking steps to unblock, correct, and enhance that flow. Fear will likely be the culprit when you cannot identify the source of stagnation–you may simply be afraid to let go of what is obstructing the flow.

Letting go can be challenging, but the exuberance you will feel when the flow is restored will be a welcome and blessed reward.

Finding and losing in the flow.

Finding and losing in the flow.

As I find stillness in the movement, I am aware of what comes to my encounter and welcome it, instead of grasping for what i long. As sensations and emotions cross myself in my yoga class, they pass through and continue their path forward . They come and go, i find them (or they find me!) and I lose them (or they do what they have to and accomplish their mission and move on). It is impactful, empowering, energizing. It is a metaphor of life, and a living testimony to the impermanence that buddhism talks about. Because of impermanence, life is full of meaning.