10 Great Quotes

Happy Tuesday!

The last time I wrote, I was deep in the winter blahs. I didn’t have much energy and didn’t feel like myself. Well, I am happy to report that I’m feeling a million times better. In addition to stocking up on multivitamins, fish oil, and iron, I bought a light-therapy box from Amazon–and I’m telling you, every day is a sunny one with this thing. Of course, nothing is perfect, but my regimen has been a big help for my mood.

You know what else puts me in a good mood? An inspirational quote. Here are 10 to inspire you today.

1. “Self love has very little to do with how you feel about your outer self. It’s about accepting all of yourself.” -Tyra Banks

2. “Confidence comes from discipline and training.” -Robert Kiyosaki

3. “Wanting something is not enough. You must hunger for it. Your motivation must be absolutely compelling in order to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way.”-Les Brown

4. “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” -Dalai Lama

5. “Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness, and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.” -Og Mandino

6. “‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.” -Alice Walker

7. “Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it’s cowardice.” -George Jackson

8. “The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” -Benjamin Franklin

9. Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” -Oprah Winfrey

10. “Come forth into the light of things; let nature be your teacher.” -William Wordsworth

30 Days of Personal Growth, Day 29: Just Do It…You Probably Know How

Sorry; I have no space left for advice. Just do it.
-Donald E. Westlake

I work as a freelance writer and magazine intern, and every time I sit down to write something, I freeze. I’ve been through the scenario a million times, but each time I futz over the assignment as if I’ve never written anything in my life.

For example, my first freelance magazine piece is an interview due on Saturday, and I’m having the hardest time organizing my thoughts. I’m going back and forth over the details, reading articles from past issues and staring out the window every five minutes, hoping a wave of inspiration will wash over me. And nothing happens. Nothing happens until I stop squirming and write.

I think we make things more difficult when we forget our successes, when we forget that we’ve done this very same thing before and have done it well. Sure, I haven’t written this exact piece before, but I have written profiles. I’ve written blog posts, e-commerce copy, and term papers. With every new project, it’s up to me to have confidence in myself that I can finish the job. And the best way to finish a job is to just do it, not to obsess over it.

While it’s not easy, I’m really trying to remind myself of my successes when I feel stuck. Once I finish what feels like a daunting assignment, I realize how silly it was for me to stress over it. So today, remember your successes. Remember that even when something is new and a bit scary, you may already have the tools you need to conquer it. Once you realize you’re already prepared, don’t stress any longer–just do it!

30 Days of Personal Growth, Day 28: 7 Quotes to Remember Today

When I’m feeling unmotivated, stressed, or doubtful, a good inspirational quote helps me pick myself up. Here are seven to remember today:

Change your thoughts and you change your world.

-Norman Vincent Peale

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.

-James Baldwin

Wanna fly, you got to give up the s–t that weighs you down.

-Toni Morrison

Trust yourself. Think for yourself. Act for yourself. Speak for yourself. Be yourself. Imitation is suicide.

-Marva Collins

To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.

-Elbert Hubbard

 All progress has resulted from people who took unpopular positions.

-Adlai Stevenson

 Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.

-Will Rogers

30 Days of Personal Growth, Day 17: 8 More Self-Esteem Tips

You really have to look inside yourself and find your own inner strength, and say, ‘I’m proud of what I am and who I am, and I’m just going to be myself.’

-Mariah Carey

In keeping with yesterday’s self-esteem theme, here are eight more tips to motivate you on your journey. Enjoy!

1. Be honest with yourself and others. You have a right to be here, so you don’t have to settle for things you know aren’t good for you. Be open about your feelings, but keep it positive. If you don’t agree with someone or something hurts you, say so. You’re not always going to be comfortable, but you have a right to express your thoughts honestly.

2. Speak your mind. This ties in with being honest with yourself and other people. If you overhear a conversation about the NBA Playoffs and you’re a raving basketball fan, jump in the discussion. Chances are people won’t think you’re crazy, and even if they do, that’s their opinion. Write to magazines and newspapers or leave comments on blog posts. You’ve got something to say, so let it out.

3. Take care of your body.  You may not like your belly, thighs, or other parts, but your body is all you have here on Earth. Instead of hating it, try appreciating it for what it does for you. Think about how your brain activates your myriad parts—your eyes, nose, mouth, ears, arms, legs, feet. Get annual checkups, enjoy exercise, and try to eat well. Don’t hurt yourself with excess alcohol, tobacco, or other substances. It’s not always easy, but your body appreciates when you treat it right.

4. Be specific about problems or mistakes. It’s easy to jump into global judgments when you make mistakes—”Oh my gosh, I’m so stupid” or “I can’t believe I messed that up”—but try to be very specific about your actions, and leave your self-worth out of it. Don’t berate yourself if you forget to pay a bill or you stutter during an important presentation. You’re human; mistakes are inevitable. Pinpoint exactly what you did and make effort to improve next time.

5. Live by your unique values, but don’t judge others for theirs. I grew up a Christian and was taught to put my faith in God first. As I got older—and moved from the ultra-conservative South to the liberal North—I realized that many people didn’t believe in anything beyond here and now. That was unsettling to me for a while. I became extremely judgmental and unloving toward people. But as I got older, I learned that people have their own unique viewpoints, beliefs, and experiences. Despite what the church teaches, it’s not fair to expect diverse people to adhere to a single standard. The best thing to do is stand by what you believe for yourself but understand that others have their own ways of living. Believe what you want for you—not anyone else—and remember that others have the same right.

6. Realize you’re too complex for a label. In my quest for healthy self-esteem, I applied global labels to myself. I’d tell myself I was a “great” or a “winner.” But when things went bad, I was a “loser” or “hopeless.” None of those labels is accurate. You have to realize you have positive, negative, and neutral attributes. You may volunteer at a nursing home (positive) but you tend to lie (negative) and you grew up in California (neutral). You’re neither good nor bad; you have the potential for both. So before you smack a “winner” or “loser” tag on your forehead, remember that you have positive, negative, and neutral aspects of yourself. All people and life itself have the same attributes. Also, remember that while you may have one thing you love and are good at (for me, it’s writing), you have many more gifts and talents, whether you’re aware of them or not. Being good—oe bad—at one thing does not define you.

7. Give up mind-reading. When you have low self-esteem, you spend most of social interactions calculating your every move and hoping people don’t think you look stupid. But I urge you to give up the psychic act—you can’t read anyone’s mind any more than he or she can read yours. So relax. Be yourself. Say what you want and remember that you can’t change how you’re perceived, but you can change how you present yourself.

8. Speak to yourself lovingly. An honest yet positive voice is crucial for your self-esteem. As mentioned in #4 (being specific), speak to yourself as you would a loved one. Give yourself compliments and constructive criticism. Would you tell someone you cared about that they were stupid, worthless, or ugly? Probably not. And people who do say those things have their own issues. So don’t beat yourself up. If your best friend made a mistake, you’d probably tell her that we all do. When our family members do negative things, we’re often upset but we love them unconditionally. So do the same for yourself. You, after all, are your own family member. Start loving yourself as one.

30 Days of Personal Growth, Day 14: What Are You Thankful For?

I am grateful for what I am and have.
My thanksgiving is perpetual…
O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches.
No run on my bank can drain it
for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.

-Henry David Thoreau

The past few days have been a drag for me. With temperatures near 100, buses and trains running ridiculously slow, and my commute busting my wallet, I’ve been eager to finish each day and climb in my bed.

This over-it attitude, however, is distracting me from what’s going well in my life. For one, I’m interning at a magazine, a medium I’ve been obsessed with since I picked up an issue of Reader’s Digest at age 6. I also scored a writing contract with a magazine for teen girls, and I’m about to renew my freelance writing contract with a popular online company. I got all the money I need to finish my degree this fall. Plus, I’m blogging every day! When I think about all these awesome things, a few minutes waiting for the bus in the blazing heat doesn’t seem so bad.

I’m making a mental note of everything I’m grateful for and happy about today, because even when one area of my life isn’t going the way I’d like, there’s always something else to smile about. Food, hot water, and clothing are a start. There’s always a reason to feel good, even if it’s “just” the fact that you woke up today or had a comfortable place to sleep last night. Not everyone did.

If you focus on the positive things in your life, you’ll find that you have many reasons to be grateful. Don’t forget to express your gratitude and joy to the people who’ve helped you in one way or another, too. Today and always, choose to take stock of the awesome things going on in your world–it’s sure to be a long list.

PS: Check out these fun, free gratitude worksheets from Feel Good Tribe!

30 Days of Personal Growth, Day 1

Over the past year, I’ve been reading self-help books and personal growth blogs with the intent of becoming a stronger, more confident, self-validating, self-fulfilling person. I’ve made tremendous progress toward this goal, but self-improvement is a ongoing process–we never stop growing. So I’m going to share some of the wisdom I’ve collected on my journey for the next 30 days, wisdom to help you empower you on your own voyage. Learn, grow, and enjoy!

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Thirty Days of Personal Growth, Day 1:

Learn to Love Yourself

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
– Buddha

I hated myself when I was younger. I felt I was too thick, too dark, and too nerdy. Few people told me I was beautiful, so I ingrained in my mind that I was unworthy of the love I so desperately wanted to receive from boys. Feeling like a throwaway, I compared myself to every girl in my class and spent many hours buried in Seventeen and YM magazines, wishing I’d become the pretty girls I saw in the acne medication ads. But it was a pointless exercise. When I woke up in the morning, I’d still be pudgy, dorky me. I despised that.

It wasn’t until I opened myself up to self-help that I realized that in not loving myself, I was hurting myself. Was I not deserving of love, of appreciation? What made others more lovable than I was? Intense therapy revealed the severity of my self-bashing, and, upon realizing that I was just as lovable and valuable as anyone else, I made the commitment to love me. Just as I love my family simply because they’re here and they’re mine, I decided to love me just because I’m me. No matter how much weight I lose or gain, how much money is in my bank account, or how much makeup is on my face, I deserve my own love first.

You’re so much more than your face, your hair, your body, your finances, your education, and your relationship status. Even if you don’t like everything about yourself, you’re better off learning to love the complex you unconditionally. Imagine yourself as a baby: Would you determine that that little girl or boy was not lovable, not worthy of milk and a warm place to sleep? If you’re sane, no. You should love yourself the same way today. You were valuable then and you’re valuable now.

Appreciate what you have, what your body does for you–and remember that loving yourself means disciplining yourself in a healthy way, too, just as you would discipline the child you want to see grow into a healthy, happy, secure human being. Love yourself as if you’re your own family member–you are.

The Courage to be OK

We must have the courage to fall–and the courage to be OK.

“It takes courage to love again when you’ve been hurt.
It takes pain and strength again …
to pack it all away.
Somewhere in all the pain somebody has to have the courage …
to be OK…”

Madea’s Family Reunion

April’s painful, unexpected events have blurred my vision. I feel confused and angry, pessimistic and heartbroken.

But I have trained myself so diligently to think positively yet flexibly. After more than a year of introspection, therapy, and growth, my brain yearns to feel joy in spite of pain. I want to be brave. My lips want to smile even when I’m frowning. Although though I am sad, I long to be happy.

Then guilt sweeps over me. How can I continue to laugh and smile when someone I loved can no longer do so? But reason must prevail: I know my loved one would want me to be alright. He wanted me to succeed when he was alive, and I doubt he would have changed his mind about that.

I’ve practiced the art of positive thinking because life is going to feel unbearable at times. This is exactly what I’ve been preparing myself for–the heartache, the loss, the sadness, the inevitable difficulties of life that fortify us, if we allow them to.

Slowly, the little pieces of glitter dancing in the snow globe of my life are falling back down. Soon they will settle, leaving my house in precious peace for a time. I am determined to keep my head on tight as the chaos dissipates.

In any hardship, I want to have the courage to be OK–and I know that strength is inside of me.