Tag Archives: mood

Do What You Want When you Want


Do what you want when you wanna do it! This includes making changes in your life! Lets play with the idea that you don’t need to force change upon yourself until you are ready.

Imagine you are a flower, closed tight like a tulip bulb. How hard will it be to open you when you are still a bulb? If someone tries to pry that flower open when it is closed, it’s extremely difficult and if you are forced open, it won’t be beautiful petals- that’s for sure.

Waiting for times of natural change is okay. Trust that you will know when you are ready. Hold the intention and have faith that you will change when you are ready.

Making changes hard, and nearly impossible if you are not ready. Most of us don’t like things that are hard and we certainly don’t like doing things before we are ready. We like things cheap, convenient, fast and easy. Well… Good news. I’m here to tell you that change can be like that too!

You’ve all heard stories of people who smoked for 40 years and then one day “just decided” to quit. And did “cold turkey.”

Fun fact: Cold turkey was first used in 1910, and may not actually mean a cold turkey, but rather, the word “cold” is implied as a personality trait of being blunt and matter-of-fact. The turkey part comes from an old slang “talk turkey” which means to speak plainly. It was also later suspected that this saying refers to the symptoms of withdrawal that occur when someone suddenly quits heroin.  Read more about cold turkey’s origins

You know why these people were able to quit? Because they were ready! Screw all of that motivational B.S. about “Start today” “Quit Now”. I say “No way!” Wait! Keep doing the thing you are ambivalent about changing until that day comes when you wake up and think to yourself “Fuck this. I’m done” And that will be that. Plain and simple.

Every behaviour is addicting in its own right. Each time you do a behaviour, it is more likely that you will do a similar behaviour again. For example, if you decide to go to the gym today, it is more likely that you will decide to go to the gym tomorrow.

But, if you choose to hang out and drink beer today, then it is more likely you will hangout and drink beer tomorrow (by the way, I’m am not implying either is the right or choice here, I think both are great).

The truth is, we will not change until we are ready to change. And we, as humans,  are lazy by nature! So we will continue doing whatever it is we are doing until something happens and we NEED to change. And then BAM! Change happens! You just decide.

Why waste time trying? There is no trying, only doing. If you wanna be bad ass, do what you want, when you  want, until you don’t want to do it any more. Then quit. And then release a long sigh of contentment, as you continue on enjoying the simplicity of your life.



“She loves the smell of coffee, bloomed roses, and new beginnings” — Sonia Azalea

“Change is the only constant thing in life” — Heraclitus

“Change is the end result of all true learning” — Leo Buscaglia

and of course….

“This too shall pass”


Honesty the Best Policy

We all learned in kindergarten that honesty is the best policy, so why is it still so hard to tell the truth? With lies running rampant from our government and through our friend circles, no wonder it is easy to get so confused. Most of us are living an extremely fast paced lifestyle and sometimes it’s just easier and faster seeming to lie.

“I would love to help with that, if only I had the time!” (It’s not that I don’t have the time, it’s that I have zero interest). Or, “Oh ya, I do remember that totally ridiculous moment you are referring to” (No you don’t because it actually happened when you were with someone else). “Ya I showered today” (Actually I only shower like twice a week, and yes, that is true for me some weeks). “Oh ya, your new haircut looks great!” (What have you done to your hair?!)

Why bother lying about things? Typically, we lie because they want to be nice. Lying though, isn’t nice. It gives false information about a situation and leaves people making decisions based on false facts. If we can start to create social circles and societies where we are honest, we can make huge positive and progressive change! There is no use for a secret agendas or sneakiness if we are all just upfront about what is actually going on. With any major change though, we must begin with ourselves. So how do we start being more honest?

Where to start

Letting go of the ego

Letting go of the ego is not something that happens overnight. This is a long process of working on ones self, or in-fact, letting go of ones self. However, it is a well worth while process that transforms one into a truth seeker.

Once one learns to let go of the ego, instead of looking for things for one’s own planned personal gain, one tunes into a guidance that is larger and more trustworthy than the self. The most important thing to do to continue receiving guidance from the this source is to be honest with ones self and others so the source can guide things appropriately. It’s a process of giving up your control to something that is bigger than you. It won’t necessarily makes sense until you feel it for yourself, but you probably have felt it. It’s built into your intuition.

Use tactful truth delivery

There can be a difference between being honest and being blunt. It takes thought and practice to first find the truth, and second to paint the truth with pretty colours before delivering it.

So when a friend asks you to do something and you have no interest in doing it, you can say no, but also provide encouragement or possibly suggest someone else you know who might be really excited for such an offer.

Being honest does not need to be mean, if your honesty is coming from your heart it can still be delivered and received gracefully most times.

Recognize the little lies

White lies are the hardest ones to quit. My friends and family  members consider me to be a very honest person, and I am. I still do find myself, with certain friends and family members, wanting to veer away from the complete truth. Unfortunately, telling half truths don’t really make the cut. A half truth is a half lie.

For me, it is harder to tell the complete truth to people who I think will have a difficult time hearing it and to people that I think may respond to my truthfulness with something that is hurtful to me or that brings up feelings of guilt within me.

These people are great to have around because they help me to practice the skill of tactful delivery. Also, it is often these people who need honesty role models in their lives the most. Often too, these people will surprise me with their ability to gracefully receive the truth and I realize I have greatly underestimated them.

Some challenges

Part of my challenge being completely honest with certain people I think must be a lingering ego and fear of hurting someone. I, like many others, like to make people happy and I like to be kind.

I also am an only child who loves to spend a lot of time alone in my fantasy land. It is difficult when my friends want to spend time with me but I feel I need alone time. I have to tactfully tell them that I would rather spend my time in my cabin alone doing absolutely nothing productive.

Slowly though, I’m learning to do it. And because am honest with them about my needs, they are able to respect what I need. They are able to know me on a deeper level and in return they get a shiny awesome and happy me because after I have had my alone time to recharge I come out with bells on… sometimes quite literally.

The Benefits of being honest

Truth giver = Truth receiver
When people know we are honest , they feel comfortable coming to us with the truth, whether it is pretty or not. When you are able to hear people’s truthful opinions you are more open to people giving you useful and constructive feedback. When you live a life based on truth you can make decisions with valid information and therefore can live a life that is more clearly aligned with what you want.

When you are honest, you are able to share your true self with the world. You are friends with people who are able to accept your true self and you’re not friends with people who you can’t be honest with. This leads to more intimate and meaningful relationships and an increased sense of self and self-esteem.

Being honest all the time is also a good way to keep your actions in line because you are committed to telling people the truth about what you have done. If you are doing something that makes you feel shameful, you know you need to own up to it. And by owning up to doing things that cause you shame or guilt, you open yourself up to the beginning stages of changing the behaviour.

Honesty is the best policy. Honesty will lead you to happier life, because by living a life of truth you have nothing to fear.



“Honest hearts produce honest actions”

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom”

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind” Dr.Seuss

“Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.” Mother Teresa


Please comment with your experiences and opinions!… You can be honest 😉





10 Day Silent Meditation – Vipassana

I just returned from a 10 day silent meditation retreat in Merrit, BC. Vipassana meditation… And I have to tell you about it.

What Happened

The facility held 70 students, split about evenly between the two sexes. The female and males students were separated for the 10 days except for in the meditation hall.

We were asked not to look each other in the eye or use our bodies to signal to one another. It is means to mimic a totally solitary experience.

After an evening meal and chit chat the silence started…

I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. I had no idea what to expect.

The daily schedule
400 – First wake up gong
430-630 Meditation starts in the hall
630-800 Breakfast break
800-900 Sit of determination (after day 4, everyone must attend these sits and be as still as possible for the entire hour)
900-1100 Mediation in the hall
1100-100 Lunch Break
100- 230 Meditation in the hall
230-330 Strong determination sit
330-500 Mediation in the hall
500-600 Tea break
600-700 Strong determination sit
700-815 Discourse
815-900 Mediation in the hall

Day 1– I observed the nature of my monkey mind. We were instructed to focus on our upper lip for the entire meditation sit for all of the sits of the first three days. We were to feel the sensation of the breath on the area above the upper lip. It was challenging to maintain focus on such a subtle sensation when there were so many things more interesting to think about! My mind would focus for about ten seconds and then a completely random thought would pop up and take me on a ride without my consent. Once I realized I was on the thought train I would bring my focus back, upper lip, upper lip, breath on the upper lip….thought train again, then back, upper lip, upper lip, upper lip… Very slowly the thought train started picking me up for less rides, less often.

Day 2– While observing my upper lip I had a profound and completely unexpected experience. I felt myself open up with a white/yellow light and break open, a literal breakthrough. And through it birthed the forgiveness for an ex boyfriend who I rode on an emotional roller-coaster with for four years in the past. We’ve been apart for 3 years and I had found a lot of healing and forgiveness in that time; however, there was still some residual bits of distaste for his character. To be honest, prior to this experience, I was looking forward to possibly punching him in the face if I ever came across him again… That’s all gone now. I feel like when I see him next I can run to him, look in his eyes and tell him I forgive him for everything we went through and I can genuinely apologize for the role I played in our dysfunction. Wow! Finally. Freedom.

Day 3 – Creative ideas kept breaking my concentration on my upper lip. Great creative ideas though, ones worth remembering, ones worth pursuing. It was like the mundane thoughts weren’t being welcomed in any longer so my mind was like “fine, I will give her these great ideas and then she won’t be able to resist them!” And I wasn’t, yet. I love the discourses in the evening. G.N. Goenka is so funny and has such great stories. I think I have a crush on him.

Day 4 – This is the day I finally was able to sit for the entire meditation in the afternoon and focus on my upper lip without thought interruption. I felt so proud! I did it! I got it!… And immediately after that meditation, S.N. Goenka says over the speakers “We are doing a new technique now”. Damn, I finally get the technique down and now we are changing it. Now we are doing body scans. We “start at the top of the head” and scan the sensation of the body all the way through to the toes. We are instructed to feel every single sensation on every inch of the skin, “part by part, bit by bit”. And so the new challenge begins.

Day 5– I’m loving this. I am keen, I am focused, I am the perfect little mediation student. I didn’t miss any meditations, I focused all of the time and I could feel people noticing my excellent posture and calm focus. I felt great. I scanned the body, head to toe and now we go from toes to the head also… “Patiently and persistently”…

Day 6 – Didn’t sleep well the night before and slept through the morning meditation. Frick! I’m ruined! I feel so guilty, I’m supposed to be the keen one that makes it to every sitting!… I beat myself up for a bit and then I realized this pattern and this desire in my life to be the keenest, or to be the one that tries the hardest. I also started realizing how much of a meal that is for my ego and how often I compare myself to others and measure myself against them. I had realized this before but something felt different this time. This time something dissolved through me, somehow I had a greater understanding and ability to let it go.

Day 7 – I fucking hate this. I want to go home. I will never do this again. I’m so bored of this. I get it, I will practice when I get home. All I need is a break from all of this. I am going to go crazy, how many days are left? I want to punch G.N. Goenka in the face. I don’t look forward to the breaks any more because all they are is moment to get up, wait in line for the bathroom and then go back in. What kind of break is that and why do I bother looking forward to it? This realization-that the breaks aren’t any better than the meditating and I still have 3 full days to stay in this boredom hell hole with no relief changed something in me. There was a letting go of desires, it was a learning to enjoy the moment. I’ve read all the inspiring quotes and bumper stickers about this and I’ve tried to be mindful and all that stuff but now it felt different. Experiencing this shift makes mindful a byproduct of the peaceful state inside instead of an active and slightly torturous effort to slow down and enjoy each moment for what it is.

Day 8 – Screw this. I am not doing this any more. I am doing full-blown yoga in the hall ways and I’m well aware I’m not supposed to. I want to plan 3 classes for when I teach at home after this. I am going to plan my life. I am going to think about whatever I want. I start thinking of all of the things I want to do. I want to clean up the cookie stand and make great treats when I get back, I want to tell this person this thing, I want to make pins with insightful words, I want to make necklaces from beach rocks… I jumped back onto the thought train in full force. Eventually even my thoughts would get boring and I would start meditation again out of an uncontrollable happening in my brain to meditate. There was a shift now, instead of the thinking being the default mode, now I felt bored of thinking so I would meditate. Cool.

Day 9 – I am still pretty much checked out of being a committed meditator. I start to laugh at my frustrations though because I know it’s all I can do. I don’t want to punch G.N. Goenka in the face because I realize now that’s just my own seed, my own “Sankara” and it would only be causing me pain. I am used to not sleeping at night now. Even though I feel partly checked out, I no longer count down the time during meditation waiting for meals and breaks.

Day 10 – Today after meditation we are allowed to talk. What will my first word be? Equanimity. It’s a main word of the course and is repeated over and over and not only that, it seems fun to say! Equaminity! It has a nice bounce. Other than that though, I’m not sure that I want to talk. I kind of don’t mind the silence. After the meditation is over, the teacher gets up and walks away and we all sit there confused as to what to do. People begin leaving the hall. I walk into the washroom and say “Equanimity” I then walk out of the washroom and say to the first woman I see “We’re free!” And we were free. We started talking. Talking felt amazing. I felt gitty and jittery with excitement. So much had happened in our boredom and in our equanimous meditations observing “annicha” (the ever changing nature of things). I watched the anonymous, blank faces turn to life. People’s spirits were shining out and everyone looked different now that their personality could shine through. I’ve never felt so free in my life. I don’t want anything. I was trying to think of something I was craving, like something I really wanted to eat and I couldn’t. I felt excited to put on my good smells again but other than that I could not think of a craving. I am free of cravings… other than tea, I still do really enjoy the tea. It was the tea, milk and honey that got me through some of the most challenging times in the course and for that I have an emotional comfort connection with it now… And I’m okay with that.

Day 11 – Home bound! I feel so excited and refreshed and pure. I feel like I know myself on a new level :) No cravings, just understandings. Wow, I feel free.

To learn more about Vipassana or to sign up to go yourself, click this link:






Keep It Real with the Medicine Wheel

I went to an amazing education day earlier this week. It was about bringing “Culture in the Clinic”, particularly first nations culture from the aboriginals that first inhabited these lands. I live in British Columbia, in the Snunymuxw territory. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world to live I am certain.

Unfortunately much of the First Nations culture – with it’s strong connection to plants, animals, spirit, ceremony and community, was brutally devastated by colonization of Europeans and the creation of residential schools. These “schools” opened in the 1870’s by the new settling Europeans and families were forced to say goodbye to their kids usually at about the age of 5. At the schools, children were abused in every way. Many died and many are still unaccounted for.

When children arrived at the schools they were young and alone.  They were not allowed to contact family and they certainly were not allowed to practice any of their cultural ceremonies, or speak their own language. And their hair, which was traditionally kept long, was cut short. Could you imagine living through this? How might this affect your sense of self? How would it affect your mental health? Your physical health? Your spirit?

Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, apologized for this publicly in 2008, but in 2009 stated “we have no history of colonialism”. This ignorant statement basically erased his apology in the eyes of many.

It may seem as though all of this happened a long time ago, however the culture still suffers, with 50% of the children still in alternative care, whether it be foster homes or adopted families. First Nations people are now all of higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, addiction, poverty and many other health concerns.

This remains a current issue that needs to be recognized as a problem and needs compassionate attention.

One way to give compassionate attention is to learn about the culture. And what an amazing culture it is. Something that stood out for me in the learning of the day was the Medicine Wheel as a personal tool.

This is a tool that can be used, regardless of your history or your culture. Firstly, you must see your body as your house. Like any house, the foundation is key to keep it standing. Typically in First Nations culture they have ceremonies in a wooden, rectangle shaped long house. This house has four posts as part of the foundation, just as the wheel has four foundational sections.


Take a look at the wheel. It’s four pillars, or quadrants are Mental, Physical, Emotional and Spiritual. In our culture, we are really great at the mental component – we put a lot of value on academic education and individuality. We are beginning to get better at the physical component, maybe, with more programs to build community and more awareness of healthy nutritional choices. We have much work to do to get our emotional and spiritual posts in order to find balance. (The First Nations culture could help us with these pieces…)

But now lets look at the medicine wheel as an individual, because really, we are all individuals first. We all can control only ourselves, and even that is harder than we would like most times.

The better we care for ourselves, the better our families, our communities and our towns/cities, and world will be. But it all starts with us as an individuals first.

For any of us to function at our highest capacity, all four of these sections need to be in balance. For example, A student who spends all his waking moments studying will be unbalanced and will be less productive than the person who is studying but also getting a full nights sleep, connecting with a higher power, and spending time feeding healthy relationships.


I challenge you now to take a blank sheet of paper. Draw a big circle on it. Now draw two long lines on the circle, splitting it in 4. Now label each quadrant, one MENTAL, PHYSICAL, SPIRITUAL, EMOTIONAL.

Write down one thing in each quadrant. It can be something you are already doing and want to continue to do, or it can be a goal. Don’t chose something you are already doing as a regular habit, but rather chose something that you are working to continue. Put your wheel somewhere where you can see it on a daily basis. Maybe a good place for it would be on the fridge or on your bedroom door.

Some basic examples;

MENTAL– Learn three new phrases in Spanish

PHYSICAL– Exercise for 30 minutes 3x this week

EMOTIONAL– Notice my self talk and how it affects my mood this week, spend five minutes at night recording my findings in a journal.

SPIRITUAL– Take time to walk slowly through the forest 3x this week

Now make your own. Look at it every day and begin to build your four pillars of a healthy home that is your body.

Enjoy :)

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become”
–Carl Jung



How to Boost Your Mood in 10 Seconds

Wanna know how to boost your mood in 10 seconds? Good, because I want to tell you. Let me give you the situation first.

You are at work, it’s crazy busy and you feel like you are drowning. You are somehow expected to be doing 10 things at once. You don’t feel you even one moment to stop and collect your thoughts.

Sound familiar?

I feel this way working on psychiatric unit sometimes and when I get overwhelmed with so many things to do I can end up running around like a chicken with my head cut off – and not getting anywhere fast.

Trick to Try:

“Shake it off”. We’ve all used the saying before, but have you tried it? Stop. Shrug your shoulders up and down five times and wiggle your whole body, like a dog shaking when it’s wet. You can do this in the bathroom if you don’t want the curious looks from your co-workers.

Why do such a silly thing?

Because, just like dogs, we can shake things off. Have you ever noticed that after you get your dog in trouble he will give a shake? Dogs literally shake things off, and we can too. I’ve tried it. It truly works! It is a quick re-charge, re-set, re-focusing tool that you can use anywhere, anytime.

If someone sees you doing it, even better. You can share a laugh and you can teach them this quick and effective tool. Any chance to be silly and laugh when you are feeling stressed is a great way to bring your self back down-to-earth so you can focus on the task(s) at hand. So it’s a double win. You not only will feel better, but also you will focus better and you can feel proud of getting your work done efficiently.

Go ahead, give it a try! RIGHT NOW! 

Shrug. Shrug. Shrug.Shrug.Shrug of the shoulders (quickly) and a full body Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle…

Feel better?… I know.
Cool right?

I thank my dog Maya for teaching me things great skill. She is so wise and teaches me so much every day.

The Road Less Traveled

This week, I offer you a book review and summary of “The Road Less Traveled” by Scott Peck.

This book is another old classic, published in 1978. The author, Scott Peck, was a psychiatrist and best selling author in his time. He passed away in 2005; however, the concepts he outlines in this book are still relevant to our lives today.

This book is a great read for anyone interested in self development and spiritual growth; however, may be of particular interest in people who are interested in psychiatry specifically. Peck explores certain childhood experiences, parenting techniques and therapy tools as he has experienced them from his personal perspective and how he has seen experience and tools affect his clients.

Peck points out in the first page of his book that spiritual growth and mental health are one and the same. I couldn’t agree more.

He recognizes that life is a series of problems. Life is difficult. The first section of the book is titled “Problems and Pain” and suggests that discipline is one of the required tools to solve life’s problems. He states “Without discipline we can solve nothing.”

On the flip side, Peck recognizes that problems are what bring forth courage and wisdom. It is problems that help one to grow mentally and spiritually. Thus, if we avoid problems we contribute to our own mental illness.

Peck goes as far to say that “This tendency to avoid problems … is the primary basis of all human mental illness.” And in this of course, everyone is mentally ill to some degree. Our mental health, as I see it, is on a spectrum and where we are on the spectrum changes day to day, week to week, month to month, year to year etc. Whether we are contributing to mental health or to mental illness, I agree with Peck, depends on the ability to see life’s problems as hurdles, and recognizing that problems are opportunities for growth. 

The sooner you face your problems, the sooner you can gain the strength they have to offer you and use it to solve the next challenge you face.

Peck talks about the importance of parents as role models but also is sure to mention that “Ultimately love is everything”. The Beatles sing it loud and clear “All You Need is Love”… The message is all around and if we can listen and apply this truth we can transform our lives and experience on this planet. By giving love to people, you give them the feeling that they are valued and therefor treat themselves as if they are valuable. Feeling valuable, Peck states, is “essential to mental health and is a cornerstone of self-discipline.” He also states it is a direct product of paternal love and is extremely difficult to acquire during adulthood. Being abandoned by one’s parents as a child, Peck states is equivalent to death, as children are dependent on their parents for survival.

Peck states “for children to develop the capacity to delay gratification, it is necessary for them to have [the following]:
1. Self-disciplined role models
2. A sense of self-worth, and
3. A degree of trust in the safety of their existence.”

So, we’ve established that problems are opportunities for growth. Next, we need to come to realize that “anyone who is not mentally defective can solve any problem if willing to take the time”.

Peck gives a great example his own experience, being busy in med school and having issues with the mechanics of his vehicle. Peck believed mechanics were something his brain just didn’t grasp; however, one day his neighbor suggested that the only reason he didn’t know how to fix his vehicle was because he had not taken the time to learn how. Peck realized the simplicity of this statement and soon found it to be absolutely true. Once he started to take the time, following wires and looking at the function of the parts, he was able to soon understand his vehicles mechanics.

It’s true. We live in a world of information. If you want to learn how do something, the only formula you need is:

the desire to acquire information + access to accurate facts +  time to investigate and apply the learned information to the current situation

If you sit and wait for problems to disappear on their own accord I will risk to assume you will not live a mood magnituded life.

Imagine your house was on fire. That is a problem. Do you sit and watch it burn to the ground? Or do you problem solve? Maybe you call the fire department, get the fire extinguisher, gather your loved ones and get out. There often are many ways to approach a problem. If one way isn’t working, try another way instead, or in addition to.

A balanced approach to problem solving-

1. Accept the problem, be grateful for the opportunity to gain courage
2. Go to war with the problem- tackle it from all possible angles

A major part of this process is accepting the responsibility of facing problems. Peck points out that saying “It’s not my problem”… is a problem. If something is getting in the way of your growth and is causing your grief in one way or another, it is your problem. It is your opportunity to grow.

Peck quotes a saying of the sixties (attributed to Eldridge Cleaver),

“If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.”

So, we’ve established that life is hard, it’s full of problems and problems are opportunities for growth. We are aware that anyone can solve a problem with time and effort. And, if we neglect to solve our problems we are contributing to mental illness rather than personal growth. The next topic to explore is dedication to truth.

Truth, similar to love, is challenging to define in it’s totality. Truth is exceptionally challenging to define because people see different truths and ones truth can change at any time.

What you can do is curious about the truth and open to all of it’s possibilities. Be a truth seeker. And as the truth changes, change with it.












Think Yourself Out of Mental Illness

“This isn’t me, I’m actually a high functioning, smart person!”

This is something I hear people say when they are accessing mental health services. Stating this as if they are smart enough to think themselves out of mental illness.

Typically the person saying this is well-educated and, in our societies terms, an overall high functioning person. Having mental health challenges does not mean you’re not smart. This idea is bogus.  The fact that I hear it so often, shows the stigma- still stuck to like glue mental health challenges and the people who access mental health services. Many highly functional people do have mental health challenges at some point in their lives.

In fact, According to Stats Canada, one in four Canadians experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime.

17% of Canadians 15 and older perceived that they required mental health services in 2012.

In the US, 2.5% of the population have Bipolar and 1% have Schizophrenia.

All kinds of people access mental health services. No matter how smart you are, you can’t think yourself into mental health. In fact, often the opposite is necessary. Often one needs to stop thinking, slow the thoughts, and calm the mind. Doing this reduces anxiety and gives ease to the mind and body. These two things are the most common symptoms I see people accessing services for, followed by suicidal ideation which trots along shortly behind, if things aren’t dealt with.

In life all kinds of things can and will go wrong. Things will get hard and there will be times when you aren’t taking care of yourself as well as you could be. You might need help along the way from a mental health professional. If and when you do, understand that this is you in this moment. It’s not all that you are, but it’s a part of your experience of the now. This is  a part of your journey. It’s okay, it doesn’t mean that you’re not smart.

Smart people have mental health challenges. Famous people have mental health challenges too and slowly more of them are publicizing this aspect of themselves including the following:

Vincent Van Gogh, John Nash, Carrie Fisher (Princess Leiah), Kurt Cobain, Mel Gibson, Brooke Shields and of course Robin Williams.

In fact, researchers at the University of Toronto and at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital found a protein, called the neuronal calcium censor protein 1,  that is linked to curiosity and spacial memory. This protein is also linked to Bipolar and Schizophrenia.

They found is straight A students are more likely to have either of these disorders, more so for people who excel in humanities than people who excel in sciences. Another study found similar correlations between A grade students in music and language courses and a diagnosis Bipolar.

The correlations found have not been consistent enough to be used for anything further than interesting findings; however, they do provide one an appealling flavor of  food for thought.


Your mental health is never stagnant. It’s changing with every moment you live. You don’t know your future and that’s what makes life interesting. If you stumble across mental illness along your journey, it doesn’t mean you are not smart. It doesn’t mean that you are smart either. It simply means that you are a human going through an experience. Embrace it’s teachings.




How to Win Friends and Influence People

I just finished reading this book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. I had to summarize it and share with you the main principles in the book because they are tips that can help every person in all interactions they with people. How we interact with our world affects our moods greatly. If you are able to get your point across clearly, connect, build relationships and be taken seriously, I guarantee you will be in a better mood. Carnegie does an amazing job in this book of clearly outlining the principles and providing many examples for each of them. I summarized and used some of my own examples, along with my favorite examples of his. By summarizing the book, I am hoping to help you apply some of these principles without needing to buy or read the book in its entirety. You’re busy. Let me to do the reading and the writing; it will be up to you to apply the concepts. You’ll be happier for it if you do. Please don’t hesitate to comment on your opinions or experience. I look forward to hearing from you.  Happy reading.



Principle 1 – Don’t criticize, condemn or complain

This principle is about trying to understand another persons point of view, instead of trying to change it. Carnegie quotes Benjamin Franklin who said “I will speak ill of no man, and speak all the good I know of everybody.” Carnegie adds to this point by writing “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain – and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving”.

Principle 2 – Give honest and sincere appreciation

I like this principle because I hate giving fake flattery to people just so they think I’m nice and I can sense the minute someone is doing it to me. Flattery is counter productive if there is no soul behind it. Carnegie explains the difference between appreciation and flattery is “One is sincere and the other insincere. One comes from the heart out; the other from the teeth out. One is unselfish; the other selfish. One is universally admired; the other universally condemned.”

It is easy to flatter someone but to truly show appreciation for someone requires more attention, which is what many of us fail to give. When you truly listen to someone, think of them and observe them, then you can offer true, sincere appreciation and they will feel your sincerity because it was thoughtful and based on specific observations.

Carnegie puts it nicely in quotes “be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise”.

Principle 3 – Arouse in the other person an eager want

In explaining this principle, Carnegie gives examples of letters written by a person looking for a job.

One person writes asking for a job position, expressing his desires, and requesting a timely response. This letter leaves the person receiving it feeling drained and frustrated that a stranger is asking for him to take time out of his already busy day and requesting him to reply to in a timely manner.

The next letter, in contrast, the person explained to the receiver what skills he could offer the company. He focused on what employer wanted and explained specifically how that he could help achieve those goals.

Next, Carnegie outlines


Principle 1 – Become genuinely interested in other people

Carnegie gives many short stories to explain this principle. The one that spoke to me most, of course, involved a young student nurse.

Martin Ginsburg, a renowned taxation expert in the US, told Carnegie this story while attending one of his courses in Long Island, New York. When Ginsburg was a ten-year old boy, he was stuck in the hospital for surgery over Thanks Giving. None of his family was able to come to visit and he “became overwhelmed with the feeling of loneliness, despair, and fear.”He cried underneath his blanket to himself.

A student nurse noticed him crying and offered him comfort. She explained she was lonely too, having to work Thanks Giving. She found an extra tray of turkey dinner and ate with him.  She tried to calm his fears and she stayed with him seven hours after her shift had ended.

Ginsburg reports that her warmth and tenderness somehow made his pain at the time bearable. Not a Thanks Giving goes by that he isn’t reminded of this young nursing student and the kindness she offered him.

And as a side note, in this principle he encourages you to REMEMBER BIRTHDAYS :) Phone and sing the full song if you don’t send a card. If you are really on the ball, do both.

Principle 2 – Smile

This, of course, is one of my favorite principles and one that I’ve mentioned in previous posts. Smiling is something that is mandatory if you want to be happy! Smile even if you aren’t happy- it will help you to feel more happy! It’s not a new concept, as this book was originally written in 1936!

Carnegie talks not only the effect of a smile when seeing strangers in public, but also over the phone because people can feel your smile through your words. One of my favorite quotes of the chapter is “it isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It’s what you think about.” Another favorite quote from this chapter is “Your smile is your messenger of your good will” and of course the wise Shakespeare makes an appearance in this chapter as Carnegie quotes his words “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” 

Principle 3 – Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language

As you may have guessed. This principle is all about the importance of remembering names. There is no shortage of success stories that come from learning how to do this one simple task well. So throw out your excesses and start trying harder to remember names. If you need to hear it twice, ask someone to repeat it. If it’s a name you have never heard before, ask how to spell it. If you get the chance, write it down so you can look at it, remember it and throw the paper away.

Principle 4 – Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves

This is how to become a good conversationalist. People generally love talking about themselves and rarely can one find someone who is willing to truly listen. Ask questions and pay attention to the answers so you can ask more questions on the topic. Find something about the topic that is genuinely interesting to you. Every conversation is a learning opportunity and people are more than happy to tell you everything they know if you can lend an open ear and keen attitude. Whatever you do, never interrupt.

Carnegie sums this concept up beautifully in the second to last paragraph in this chapter when he writes “So if you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that other persons will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments.”

Principle 5 – Talk in terms of the other person’s interests

Another simple concept – doing your homework. Carnegie suggests, If you are planning to go to someones place for dinner, or having a guest,or going for an interview, do your homework beforehand.

Know a little bit about a few topics your guests are interested in. It’s easy nowadays, all you need to do is a quick google search or scan of his or her Facebook page.

Principle 6 – Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely

This is one of the main principles of the book that Carnegie repeats as a main theme throughout the book. He highlights the work of American philosopher and psychologist, John Dewey who has said “that the desire to be important is the deepest urge in human nature.” and fellow psychologist/philosopher William James, agrees that “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”

Also, a quote Carnegie carries throughout the book, one which struck me right away and I was happy to see repeated,  are the eloquent words business man, Charles Schwab who says we want our friends and associates to be “hearty in their approbation and lavish in their praise.”

Moving on to the next section,


Principle 1 – The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it

The bring home point of this section is that you can’t win an argument because if you lose it you lose it and if win it, you lose it. Why? Because you have made someone feel inferior. Carnegie adds a little rhyme to remember

“A man convinced against his will, Is of the same opinion still.”

Highlighted again, is that people want to feel important. As long as your argue with someone she will find her importance by asserting her authority. But when the argument is halted, the ego can expand and she will be able to become again a “sympathetic and kind human being.”

Know that your opinions may need changing and always be open to hear another point of view and reflect on your own.

Principle 2 – Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”

More great quotes from major people in history appear in this chapter. Including the following:

“Be wiser than other people if you can ; but do not tell them so.” — Lord Chesterfield

“One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing.” — Socrates

When entering a place where opinions may differ Carnegie encourages to start with the phrase “I may be wrong. I frequently am. Let’s examine the facts.” He writes in this chapter that you will never get into trouble by admitting that you may be wrong.

Listen to what people are trying to say, rather than getting stuck on the words they use. Try to understand where someone else is coming from.

Principle 3 – If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically

If you have made a mistake or broken a rule and find yourself getting in trouble for it, agree with the opposition you are met with.

An example Carnegie uses in this chapter is similar to getting caught with your dog off the leash when it is not allowed. The first time the person lets you go and tells you next time you will get a fine.  You follow the rule a couple times, but a couple weeks later you let your dog off the leash again. Sure enough, you get busted by the same fellow who let you off the first time.

Instead of engaging in an argument about why you should be allowed to have your dog off the leash, apologize and say every reason your dog should be on the leash before he has the chance.

By doing this, he as no reason to argue with you and instead, he may  feel understood and important.  Not only that, it’s nicer for you to condemn yourself than to hear it from someone else.

Own up to your mistakes as fast as you can.

Carnegie sums this chapter up nicely with this great quote “By fighting you never get enough, but by yielding you get more than you expected.”

Principle 4 – Begin in a friendly way


It’s important to be friendly in your approach with people. Highlighted in this chapter is the truth that you cannot change anyones mind by using force. You can however, lead someone in your direction if you are gentle and friendly, “ever so gentle and friendly”. Carnegie has several examples throughout the chapter, including short fable about the sun and the wind. T

The sun and the wind argued about who was stronger. Wind decided he would prove he was stronger by blowing of a mans coat. So wind blew as hard as he could almost to the point of a tornado, but the harder he blew, the tighter the man held onto his coat. He was unable to get the coat off. Next, it was sun’s turn. Sun came out from behind the could, and smiled kindly at the man. The man soon warmed up and pulled off his coat.

Carnegie also quotes Lincoln several times in this chapter, stating

“A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.”

Principle 5 – Get the other person saying g”yes, yes” immediately

When talking to someone, begin talking about the things that you agree upon. Emphasize your commonalities. Get the person saying “yes” and try to avoid getting the person to say “no”. Carnegie explains that our responses create inertia and each time we answer with yes or no, we are like a bowling ball picking up speed in that direction. The same thing happens if you start saying no, resistance is built up in the body and there is more likely more no’s ahead.

Socrates used this method, he would desk questions with his opponent would have to agree and he kept doing so until they said yes a handful of times. After that, he would ask a question that brought his opponent to conclude something they would have disagreed with initially. Kind of a cool trick and I can understand how it could work too.

A highlighted quote that sums up this chapter is the Chinese proverb,  “He who treads softly goes far”

Principle 6 – Let the other person do a great deal of the talking

People like to talk about their experiences and themselves. By asking questions about someones experiences and point of view and actively listening to her responses you can get an understanding of why she sees the world the way she does. Also by listening actively to someone as they speak you will be able to ask the right questions. A key piece to this is never to interrupt, no matter the temptation. A person will not be able to listen to you if you interrupt because they are trying to remember what they were going to say when you interrupted them. By asking questions and allowing others to do more of the talking you make them feel important. Allow your friends to excel you. Don’t brag about your own accomplishments or make yourself seem superior. What’s important is that the other person feels good during and leaving the interaction. And when that happens, you can feel good too!

Principle 7- Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers

When someone becomes a part of a process, they become invested in it. If someone regularly doesn’t like your work, perhaps ask them to add to it what they would like to see. If someone participates in the process they are more likely to enjoy the finished product. Ask for specific feedback and make the product fit that persons needs or desires.

Carnegie uses an example of an artist who was trying to sell his sketches. He had a client who would look over his work weekly for three years but never bought anything. One day the artist brought some unfinished sketches to the man and asked him how he could finish them in such a way that the man could use them. The customer gave his advice and when the sketches were completed with his suggestions incorporated, he bought them.

It’s important to ask for feedback and input and involve people in the process when possible.

Principle 8 – Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view

From a spiritual perspective, in which I see the world, we are all part of the same organism, and that’s what this principle is about. Carnegie quotes Dr. Gerald S. Nirenberg in his books “Getting Through to People” when he writes “cooperativeness in conversation is achieved when you show that you consider the other persons ideas and feelings as important as your own. Starting your conversation by giving the other person the purpose or direction of your conversation, governing what you say by what you would want to hear if you were the listener, and accepting his or her viewpoint will encourage the listener to have an open mind to your ideas.”

Another valuable point is made in this chapter. Sometimes, in key moments one can be “so eager to do the right thing, that he does the wrong thing”. When something fires you up with anger and rage, it means you have passion and strong views around it. When feeling these emotions it is integral that we keep our cool and apply these principles. If you lose your cool, you lose any argument immediately.

Emphasized also is the following paragraph “I would rather walk the sidewalk in front of a person’s office for two hours before an interview than step into that office without a perfectly clear e of what I was going to say and what that person-from my knowledge of his or her interests and motives was likely to answer”. Carnegie asks that if you get one thing from reading the book that you get an “increased tendency to think always in terms of the other person’s point of view”.

Principle 9 – Be sympathetic with the other person ideas and desires

Some examples in this chapter are about dealing with conflict. If someone presents you with being upset about something you have done, apologize immediately with sincerity, politeness and kindness. Admit that what you did was wrong and agree with their points, and if possible, even add some of your own.

An example given in this chapter is a student learning piano and her teacher. Student has long, well manicured fingernails that the teacher knows will impede on her ability to play the piano to her greatest potential. Instead of telling the student directly to trim her nails, the teacher instead complimented the student on how nice her nails looked and suggested that if she wanted her piano playing to improve faster, trimming her fingernails would help.” Of course, the student showed up for her next lesson with trimmed nails. Not because she was told to do it, but because she wanted to improve her piano playing.

Principle 10 – Appeal to the nobler motives

Carnegie writes that people usually have to reasons for doing a thing – a real reason and one that sounds good. He advises that in relations with people, to appeal to the nobler motives. Assume that people are sincere, honest, truthful.

An example used in this chapter is a celebrity who doesn’t want a certain picture in the press writes a request, not stating “Please don’t use that photo, I don’t like it,” but rather “Please don’t use that photo, my mother doesn’t like it”. Doing this, appealed to the nobler motive that people have – the respect and love for motherhood.

Principle 11 – Dramatize your ideas

It’s interesting, this book written in 1936, Carnegie writes “This is the day of dramatization.”… I guess that’s  been a truth throughout the times, and certainly continues to be true today. So, instead of doing the same thing everyone else is doing, use actions or lives examples for greater effect. Instead of writing a report and coming in with graphs and statistics, come in with a visual to show what it is you are expressing.

For example, say you want to have more garbage cans on the street because of large amounts of litter. Instead of telling people how much litter there is on the street per block, collect the garbage and bring the bag that you collected on that block. This dramatizes the idea and this, Carnegie states, is what will make all of the difference in how effectively you influence people.

Principle 12 – Throw down a challenge

If you are looking to stimulate people to work a little harder, Carnegie suggests, if nothing else works, throw down a challenge. Doing this stimulates competition in people and increases their interest. People generally have a desire to excel and some friendly competition can be what is necessary to put the into action. When faced with a challenge many people to wish to face the challenge and it encourages them to try their best.


Principle 1 – Begin with praise and appreciation

You’ll never convince anyone to change a behaviour by berating them for it. So, if you are looking to suggest someone do something differently, first let them know that you appreciate them and what they do. Carnegie has some fun analogies for this in the chapter. He notes that “a barber lathers a man before he shaves him.” He sums the chapter up nicely with a simile “Beginning with praise is like the dentist who begins his work with Novocain. The patient still gets a drilling, but the Novocain is pain-killing.”

Principle 2 – Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly

I like the example Carnegie uses in this chapter – A few employees are smoking inside an area at work where they aren’t supposed to be smoking. The boss sees them and approaches them with a couple cigars. He gives the men the cigars and says “I’ll appreciate it, boys if you will smoke these on the outside” He looks up at the no smoking sign and walks away. The men got the hint. They appreciated the man for being kind and generous; therefore, they were happy to follow his direction and smoke on the outside next time they needed a break.

Another main point in this chapter is the use and “and” verses “but”. An example – Your son comes home with a report card. He got all A’s and B’s except for a C in math. You can say “Good job! I’m proud of you, you must have worked hard, but it looks like you need to work harder on your math.” Or you can say “Good job! I’m proud of you, you must have worked hard! And I bet if you keep working hard you can get that math mark up to meet the rest of them!” Which is more encouraging? Which would you like to hear?

Principle 3 – Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person

We all make mistakes and we are all hard on ourselves when we do it. This points out that before criticizing others we need to look at ourselves and know that we are no closer to being perfect than anyone. If you do have a suggestion to offer someone that would help them improve, start by saying “I did the same thing as you but I found it works better if you do…” Or you could say, “I know, this part is tricky… ” acknowledge that whatever the person is struggling with is challenging and acknowledge your own struggles before commenting on anyone else’s.

Principle 4 – Ask questions instead of giving direct orders

Instead of telling someone to do something  a certain way, be like Socrates and ask suggestive questions that can lead them to make the decision themselves. Carnegie states “Asking questions not only makes an order more palatable; it often stimulates the creativity of the persons whom you ask. People are more likely to accept an order if they have and a part in the decision that caused the order to be issued.

Principle 5 – Let the other person save face

If someone does something that lets you down, allow them the opportunity to save face and try again. Carnegie gives a few examples, the following being one of them. A woman is hired to do a survey and presentation for a business meeting. It is her first presentation for the company and she made a mistake in her planning. Her mistake meant that she didn’t have the information she needed to do the presentation and she didn’t have time to warn her boss ahead of time. When it came time to present, she admitted that she made a mistake and did not have the information she needed to present. Instead of getting upset with her, her boss thanked her for her honesty. She told her that it was not unusual for an error to be made on a new project, and that she had confidence that her repeat survey would be accurate and meaningful. The new employee left feeling excited to have a second chance to prove herself and motivated to do so.

Principle 6 – Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”

Give praise often. Give sincere, and specific praise. Carnegie emphasizes that each of us have many powers that we “habitually fail to use”. He recognizes that one of these probably include the “magic ability to praise people and inspire them with a realization of their latent possibilities”. And to sum it up he ends the chapter noting that just as “our abilities wither under criticism; they blossom under encouragement.”

Principle 7 – Give the person a fine reputation to live up to

If someone thinks highly of you, you want to prove them right to think such good things of you. That is why it’s important to trust people will do their best and hold people in a positive regard.

Carnegie quotes Shakespeare who said “Assume a virtue, if you have it not.” He goes on to say “And it might be well to assume and state openly that other people have the virtue you want  them to develop.”

Principle 8 – Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct

Naturally, people have strengths and challenges. The challenges can seem like major burdens at times, however with encouragement they can be small hurdles that, when jumped, allow one to excel beyond expectations. If someone has a challenge, use kind encouragement to make that challenge seem like a small bump in the road that must be past to continue forward. You might say something like “Come on, it won’t be so hard I know you can do it.”

Principle 9 – Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest

Carnegie gives a fun and playful example in this final chapter. A woman working at a grocery store had a habit of failing to label products with their proper price. This was beginning to cause confusion and customer complaints. So what did the manager do? He called her into his office to speak with her. He needed her help. He appointed her “Supervisor of Price Tag Posting” for the store. Now that she had that title and felt important, she paid attention to the very thing she was initially blind to notice. And the best part, she was happy to do it.


And that’s it! Now pick a principle and start using it today! Please feel free to share your experience or your thoughts by commenting!

Here is a link to purchase the book from amazon:



7 Ways to get Happy for the Holidays

The holidays supposed to be merry, so here are some tips to help you endure, and maybe even enjoy these special times.

1) Keep up your routine – Instead of saying “oh it’s the holidays…I’ll get back to it after Christmas” try to keep on track throughout Christmas and you won’t have to spend the first two weeks of a new year just catching up to things you let go over Christmas break. You will be ahead of the game and start the new year off happier for it.

2) Practice gratitude – Isn’t that really what the holidays are all about? Being grateful for what we have? So even if it isn’t much, be grateful for what you have in your life. If you are living in abundance, be grateful and share with those who may have less. This is the time for giving, any receiving is simply a side effect of all the giving going on.

3) Have a plan – Of course things over the holidays are not expected to always go as planned, but it’s still good to have an outline. In your plan include the things that you are doing for sure. Know the things you need to do and say no to things that are unnecessary. The holidays are for relaxing, not for stressing about the things your supposed to be doing.

4) Be self-aware – How are you feeling about the holidays? How are you taking care of yourself? How are you treating others? The better you care for yourself over these last few weeks of the year, the better you can extend kindness and patience to your family, loved ones, and strangers. Be as kind as possible to yourself and extend that kindness to those around you.

5) Move your body – Do some dancing, yoga, active gaming, a sporting tournament, whatever it is get moving over the holidays. Studies show that starting to exercise regularly is equally effective as an anti-depressant for some people. If the holidays have you blue, get moving and watch your colour shine through.

6) Avoid the urge to over-indulge – Maybe a plan to stick to your routine includes your diet. There are many temptations to over-indulge over the holidays. Sometimes it’s okay to give in and this might be one of those times for you. Maybe pick one day over the holidays where you can eat as much as you want/can. We all know that being so full it hurts isn’t actually an enjoyable sensation. Have a treat here or there and find moderation. If moderation is not a word in your world, then abstinence is your ticket.

7) Smile and laugh your way through it – Our minds and bodies are one. If you smile and laugh, messages are sent to your brain that stimulate the release of endorphins. So, when your dad starts with his lame puns and stupid jokes, smile and laugh not only will it make him feel witty, but you will receive the health benefits and your mood will be magnituded 😉

Good luck!

Laughter Yoga

Laughter yoga! 

What the heck is that?!

It’s awesome! And it has nothing to do with yoga poses, although it does join the breathing or pranayama practice of yoga.

Laughing yoga was started by a doctor by the name of Madan Kataria in India. He started in a park with some friends telling jokes to receive the health benefits of laughter. Once they ran out of jokes they decided to skip the jokes and go straight to the laughing and the results astounded them!

By fake laughing with people you eventually end up real laughing that is contagious and leaves one feeling fantastic after the session.

Laugher yoga has started up all over the world in over 62 countries and there are now over 6000 laughing clubs that get together for the primary purpose to laugh!

There are other aspects of laughing yoga too such as clapping,  playfulness, eye contact, and breathing exercises.

Why would one do such a ridiculous seeming thing?

… to feel happy of course!

It turns out that there are many great health benefits of laughter such as

  • Laughing lowers blood pressure. People who lower their blood pressure, even those who start at normal levels, will cut their risk of strokes and heart attacks. …
  • Reduces stress hormone levels. …
  • Fun ab workout. …
  • Improves cardiac health. …
  • Boosts T cells. …
  • Triggers the release of endorphins. …
  • Produces a general sense of well-being.

All you need to do is laugh! And just like anything that you practice, it gets easier to laugh the more you do it. Have you ever tried laughing when something is bothering you? Laugher immediately lightens our mood and helps give feelings of contentment. So go ahead, laugh it up or laugh it off, whatever you do and for whatever reason or none at all – laugh.

Check it out and see if there is a laughter club near you!

I recently became a Certified Laughing Yoga Teacher, so if you are looking for some help starting a Laughing Club near you, let me know!