your call

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@rgfsolutions: Your journey begins when you make a conscious decision to accept your call! #SuperSoulSunday

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@rgfsolutions: Your calling will manifest greatness in your life by challenging your perception of self & others! #SuperSoulSunday

How to Find Your Happiness

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-firestone/how-to-find-your-happiness_b_6673546.html

Lisa Firestone

How To Find Your Happiness

   

We’ve all seen some version of this scene: the child at the playground, covered in ice cream, wearing a tiara. She’s surrounded by fun toys, fawning parents and other happily screaming kids. Yet, although her world appears to be exactly as she’d want it, she is beside herself sobbing in utter distress. My point here isn’t to illustrate the simple statement that happiness can’t be bought or that spoiling your children is bad. What I’m suggesting is that most of us are not all that different from the little girl on the playground. Many of us are going about happiness all wrong. 

Despite what we may believe, quite often, we are not really seeking our own happiness at all. Many of us don’t know ourselves well enough to conceptualize what we actually want. We conform to the notions and ideals of our society, our family and other influences that can drown out our own point of view. We spend our lives repeating patterns and filling prescriptions from our past that don’t serve us in the present. To varying degrees, we fail to differentiate ourselves, to separate from limiting outside influences and realize our unique value in the world around us. When these outside forces seep in and quietly overtake us, we wind up seeking someone else’s idea of happiness.

The key to one’s happiness is buried inside the process of recognizing and differentiating from these forces. Of course, there are things that have shaped us that are positive. There are traits we’ve taken on that strengthen us and enhance our sense of self. Yet, differentiation isn’t about separating yourself from society or ridding yourself of positive social models. It is about peeling off the undesirable layers that shield us from achieving our unique destiny and living the life we desire.

There are four crucial steps to this process of differentiation developed by my father, psychologist Dr. Robert Firestone. I explain these steps in more detail in my blog, “Becoming Your Real Self,” however to summarize they involve:

1. Separating from destructive attitudes that were directed toward us that we’ve internalized 

2. Differentiating from negative traits of our parents and influential caretakers

3. Breaking free of the old defenses that we built to cope with negative childhood events

4. Developing our own value system and approach to life

There are many influences from our early environment that we internalize, repeat or adapt to. For example, imagine having a narcissistic parent who acted superior and domineering. Perhaps, she boasted about herself, while putting you down or disregarding you completely. Growing up, you may take on her point of view toward yourself. You will start to have mean thoughts or “critical inner voices” that tell you you’re inferior or that you are insignificant and only take up space. 

You may also run the risk of repeating the negative traits of your parent, in which case, you’ll notice having your own thoughts or feelings of superiority or entitlement. Maybe you’ll act out the same condescending, critical attitudes toward your children. Finally, if growing up with a narcissistic parent made you feel inadequate, perhaps your defense was to sidestep confrontation, to retreat into your shell or to avoid standing out. These adaptations may have made you feel safe in your household, but chances are, these same traits could be hurting you or holding you back as an adult.

These early influences on our life make the first three steps of differentiation important precursors to living a happy existence, one that reflects who we really want to be. Once we shed these layers, we are able to take the fourth step and ask ourselves who we truly are. What resonates with us and gives our life meaning? This final step is all about finding our happiness. What are some actions we can all take to uncover what we want from life? It may seem ironic to highlight general principles of happiness when I’m suggesting that the key to happiness is unique to each individual. However, in this process of differentiation, there are certain mental health principles everyone can adopt in order to better find their own sense of joy and fulfillment. These include:

1. Happiness doesn’t come from filling our days with fun things. Studies show that the happiest people are those who seek meaning as opposed to just pleasure. Thrill-seeking and instant gratifications don’t work, because they offer band aids and short-term highs that fail to fulfill us on a deeper level. When we lead a life that has particular meaning to us, we feel more satisfied and joyful.

2. Happiness involves transcendent goals. People are generally happier when they create goals that go beyond themselves. These individuals show care and concern for others and practice generosity. Studies show that people get more pleasure from giving than getting and that generosity can lead to longer, happier lives.

3. To seek happiness, we have to realize our personal power. It’s important to consistently remind ourselves of the profound effect we alone have over our destiny. This means both dropping the baggage from our past and resisting any urge to play the victim. When we acknowledge our power, we have a much stronger sense of resilience and can better handle any hardships that arise. In fact, having a sense of power in your life has been found to be one of the key factors in being a resilient person

4. Happiness involves maturity. Part of being a strong, differentiated self means avoiding playing out parental or childish roles in relation to others. We can’t control others, only ourselves, so being parental toward those around us will lead to higher levels of dissatisfaction and keep us from focusing on changes we can make. On the flip side, being childish and allowing others to control us, again, undermines our power and potential.

5. Happiness comes with a price. In order to feel more joy, we must be willing to feel more of everything. We cannot selectively numb pain without also numbing ourselves to exhilaration, excitement and pleasure. The human condition is a painful one, and we must be willing to feel our sadness, our anger and our fears in order to live a vital and passionate existence.

6. Happiness means being willing to evolve. We are most alive when we expand and try new things. Think of a couple falling in love. They grow each other’s worlds. They’re open to new experiences, activities, emotions and friends. What happens when they fall into routine and start to impose restrictions on each other? Their worlds start to shrink. They stay in, make rules and lose their sense of independence, and even, attraction. Happiness means maintaining your interest in new and lively choices that will keep the spark inside you alive.

When we look at these principles, we quickly realize that seeking happiness isn’t selfish. When we are authentic, happy and fulfilled individuals, we are far better for the people around us and for society at large. We are better parents, better partners, better bosses, co-workers, friends and citizens. As we follow the path we carve for ourselves, we can expect old influences to seep in and critical inner voices to flood our heads. Yet, finding our happiness means silencing these demons and celebrating the unique and worthy human being that lies beneath. As author Howard Thurman said, “”Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Read more from Dr. Lisa Firestone at PsychAlive.org

7 Flaws That Make You Absolutely Amazing

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alexandra-harra/7-flaws-that-make-you-absolutely-amazing_b_6568220.html

7 Flaws That Make You Absolutely Amazing

I’m full of flaws. Actually, I’m brimming with imperfections: I’m a terrible liar, a hopeless romantic, and an awful singer (to my mother’s dismay, who was the Brittany Spears of Europe in her youth). Such dire dilemmas should keep me up at night, I know. 

And they used to, in fact. The young me was consumed with what everyone thought of her and obsessed with reaching perfection. I was so preoccupied with appearing perfect to everyone else that I became blind to what was already excellent within me. I ignored my inner gold while searching for silver in foreign places.

With time and spiritual elevation, I gave up on putting on an ideal show for the world and simply decided to become great for myself. I’m not the only one who has felt inadequate under the unrealistic obligations of society — we’ve all tried to mold ourselves according to external pressures. But have you ever thought that your flaws are exactly what make you uniquely perfect? That perhaps that dreaded wrinkle and your tendency to overreact are precisely what complement the totality of your being?

The result of this way of thinking would create realistic expectations and a much-needed sense of tolerance of ourselves and others. Embrace and act on these seven “flaws” as your secret, treasured strengths:

1. Honesty. It seems that an honest person is a rare commodity in today’s world. Lies are enforced more than the truth simply because they “sell” better. But those of us who would still rather tell it like it is should take pride in our unadulterated sincerity. Honesty reinforces our tremendous value as members of our community and offers us hope for collective progress.

2. Romanticism. Sleepless are the nights of hopeless romantics, we who view the world through the lens of love above all. But our romanticism means that we continue to believe in love even when it is frail, lacking, or false. To us, love is the undying trait and highest ability of humankind. We recognize that this emotion can mend all that is broken, if only we allow it. Love others, even if they’ve betrayed you. Love your partner, even if he or she has harmed you. Love yourself, even if you’ve disappointed yourself. Give love the chance to right all wrongs.

3. Sacrifice. As I’ve said before, there lies beauty in sacrifice. Doing for another instead of doing for yourself stirs up an indescribable feeling. Best of all, sacrifice is contagious. When you sacrifice for another person you are teaching by example. Perpetuate the cycle of doing good for yourself and for others. Allow the altruistic grace of sacrifice to resurface in a selfish world.

4. Sensitivity. As the saying goes, “It is both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so deeply.” As one who feels beyond normal bounds, I can tell you that both aspects of this quote are true. Sensitivity isn’t crying during the final scenes of a sad movie. It implies a heightened awareness to the world around you. You’re “sensitive” if you literally feel the struggle of another person or you know just what to bring a loved one when they’ve had a bad day. To be sensitive is to be intensely aware of details and desires and helps us discover the grandeur of even the most minute things. 

5. Consciousness. Living consciously means being alive in every sense of the word; it is acknowledging your divine nature and mission on Earth — seeing yourself not as an individual person with self-imposed limitations but as a powerful vessel for good that’s part of a greater whole. It is noticing not the rainbow of colors in springtime, but its divine inspiration. When we are conscious, or spiritually awake, is when we finally begin to understand the reasons of things.

6. Vulnerability. To keep from getting hurt, we are taught to be strong-willed and guarded at all times. In part, this is a natural defense mechanism against pain. But it makes us more machine than human. Recognize the times when it’s okay to be susceptible — to feel, experience, engage, empathize, and risk. You’ll get hurt on occasion, yes, but you will also develop virtues that are inaccessible to the closed heart: wisdom, integrity, compassion, patience, and acceptance. Walk the fine line between shielding yourself and revealing yourself in order to experience all the wonders of life.

7. Simplicity. In a world that covets the complex, gorgeous, and expensive, it’s hard to stand out as a “simple” person. But simplicity fosters authenticity, and no amount of elaboration can match the force of a genuine spirit. Be simple in your intentions. It’s a lot of fun to live a fast-paced, flamboyant life, but remember to slow things once in a while. Living simply reminds us of our true reasons and roots us in purpose.

We’re all laden with what others label as flaws, but what are in reality our secret strengths. When we understand this, we can begin to act on these imperfect parts of ourselves to produce perfectly positive results. Accept your personal faults today and discover the world of good they can deliver tomorrow.

To your secret strengths, 

Alexandra Harra

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