Quick Tips and Facts for Learning Anything


Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.
― Mahatma Gandhi

Let’s start with the importance of sleep: your brain reshapes itself whilst you sleep based on your behaviours, actions, and activities you have participated during that day. Your brain even when mature, and as you continue to age, is always changing. Synapses in your brain will grow, change, or disappear depending on your habits, whether you learn new information, have new experiences, or stop certain habits or stop using certain skills and knowledge.

Fun Facts:

  • The brain requires 10 times more energy that its own weight of three pounds.
  • A person’s hopes, dreams, thoughts are contained in neurons in the brain.
  • To give you an idea of the size of the synapse in a person’s brain: a single hair measures 20 microns in diameter, whilst a synapse is less than a micron.

When learning new information the brain interchanges between two different types of learning: focused mode, and diffuse mode. Focused mode is used for information that you already know how to do and diffuse mode is used for creative thinking so you can find solutions to problems and link ideas and information together that might not obviously seem connected.

Einstellung means mindset in German, when you’re thinking gets stuck in focused mode, meaning you are stuck on knowledge you already know and in automated thinking and behaviours; you are not advancing your knowledge or skills and where your own knowledge/skill set works against you in creating a new or better way of doing something. Interleaving practice uses diffuse mode thinking which creatively seeks solutions from different subjects and disciplines.

Helpful Tips:

  • A useful learning tool for remembering equations or new information is to learn through metaphors.
  • When learning seems challenging, to remind yourself that everyone experiences this at some point and that learning takes time and needs patience.

When revising for exams, remember that overlearning the same information you are already familiar with can create the illusion of competence. Effective learning requires deliberate practice of information and skills you are finding challenging and need to improve your performance on.

Let the improvement of yourself keep you so busy that you have no time to criticize others.
― Roy T. Bennett

Quick Learning Tips:

  • Like Einstein said: if you can’t explain an idea in its simplest form to a six year old, you do not know it well enough.

Any fool can know. The point is to understand.
― Albert Einstein

  • A counterintuitive idea for today’s technology age but try to write out notes and knowledge by hand to create muscle memory.

I don’t love studying. I hate studying. I like learning. Learning is beautiful.

– Natalie Portman.

Happy learning!


A Mind for Numbers – Barbara Oakley



Positive Ripple


If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. If you do that, you can change the way people live their lives. That’s the only lasting thing you can create.
— Chuck Palahniuk

Positive Ripple is a monthly post sharing an *uplifting resource link* to an article, podcast, video, inspiring story, book, and so forth, to cause a positive rippling effect, spreading the love and work of individuals and groups that encourage and lift us to optimise our brain, create neurogenesis, and sapere aude (dare to be wise).

Carl Jung wisely wrote that there are no solutions to our problems; they can only be outgrown by evolving our own consciousness.  Positive Ripple is about expanding and interconnecting our collective and individual consciousness; it is kindness and altruism that have kept the planet and human race alive and growing through learning and storytelling.  We weave a golden thread of gratitude that creates the tapestry of life connecting and supporting us all through conscious acts of kindness, love, compassion and by sharing and helping others *thrive*.

This month´s chosen uplifting resource is an interview with author and lecturer Tal Ben-Shahar (he taught the largest course at Harvard on positive psychology)  about the 101 on positive psychology brought to us by Entheos. Sign-up for free and join Brian Johnson, CEO of Entheos and creator of PhilosophersNotes, for 30 minute interviews with some of the world’s wisest teachers/leaders, inspiring, smart, super practical goodness for Optimal Living – 101 .

I´m sure since the emergence of positive psychology, you probably feel you have heard all there is on the topic, such as think positive, optimistic people live longer, smile more, keep a gratitude diary, repeat affirmations and so forth.  The interview with Tal Ben-Shahar may offer some additional advice on creating a happier you than is often heard.  Have a listen for tips like the following:

  • Happiness equation = pleasure + growth (present & future perspectives).
  • Create happiness rituals in order to manifest lasting change in your life.
  • Find out how sport and keeping fit helped Tal overcome his ADHD diagnosis since childhood and how exercise can be even more effective than medications; plus exercise comes with the added bonus of creating neurogenesis in the brain.
  • Why Tal encourages his students to *fail* more often? Research and law of averages shows that everyone has to fail sometimes and that the top scientists are all the ones that fail most often at complex and simple activities.
  • Recommends meditation as one of your happiness rituals in order to become more resilient to cope with life´s inevitable highs and lows.
  • Top key advice from Tal: *be realistic*; the world is paradoxically good and loving, as well as painful and suffering, but this is part of being human and makes us all perfectly imperfect.

Have you tried any of Tal´s tips for a happier you and how have they affected your life? Do you have any tips of your own that have helped you overcome challenges, create new habits or change your life in a more positive and life-affirming way?



What’s difficult in life is to stay centered when somebody does or says something that tempts us to close our hearts because their heart was closed. That is hard. But that is also how we grow. We go through those circumstances in order to evolve into people who can hold to our loving center no matter what the world throws us. – Marianne Williamson

The following are some meditative and calming ways to reconnect with your true, loving self and live in alignment with your heart centred self:

Bamboo Breathing

Sit with good, straight posture so energy can easily flow through you.

Inhale deeply, gently, and slowly from the bottom of your stomach, as if your heart is pulling the air up to the chest.

Hold for several seconds (or as long as feels safe and comfortable to do so).

Exhale slowly and gently in segments (bit by bit which keeps your mind focussed on your breathing, aiding in reaching a deeper level of meditation).  It´s called “bamboo breathing” because bamboo does not form a perfect straight line, but is connected in many misaligned segments; it helps you connect to your body and feel each exhale through the body like running your hand over the differing textures and bumps in bamboo.

Yum Mantra

Sit with good, straight posture so energy can flow easily through you.

Inhale deeply, gently, and slowly from the bottom of your stomach and hold for a few seconds when the breath reaches your chest (heart chakra).

On the exhale, mentally say the Sanskrit Mantra “Yum” which opens your heart chakra.

On the inhale you are breathing in love, peace, forgiveness that resides in your heart space and on the exhale you are opening your heart chakra, releasing anything that doesn´t serve you anymore, inviting new energy into your heart chakra on each new inhale of breath.

Heart-Centred Appreciation

Sit with good, straight posture so energy can easily flow through you.

Inhale deeply, gently, and slowly from the bottom of your stomach, hold for a few seconds, and exhale deeply, gently, and slowly.

Whilst breathing like this, focus your attention on your heart and imagine feelings of appreciation arising in your heart space. Imagine all the people, situations, aspects of yourself, experiences you have had, times in your life, places in nature, pets, animals, relationships that you appreciate.  Allow your breathing and focus on appreciation in your heart space to bring you into a deeper relaxation and appreciation for all.

Send this loving appreciation out into the world, to every person in the world, to future events coming up in your life on each exhale and on the inhale, breathing in all you appreciate in your life.

Celebrate Life



I am releasing all pain, hurts, suffering, and limited thinking from every cell of my body.

I am breathing in new energy full of love, light and gratitude to every cell in my body.

The wound is the place where the Light enters you. – Rumi

I am releasing all anger, resentment, bitterness and hate from every cell of my body.

I am forgiving myself for all conscious and unconsciousness mistakes made in the past.

I am letting go of any people, situations, and belief systems that no longer serve me.

First, we have to face the notion that in order to consider forgiving someone we must have been blaming them for something. We must have anger, resentment, blame, even hatred going on in order to feel the need to forgive. Forgiveness is really an act of letting go, releasing the anger, the hatred, the bitterness, the thoughts of revenge that we have been carrying around. We can do this letting go without even encountering the person we want to forgive. We forgive by releasing all resentment, anger, and bitterness and thus set ourselves free from the negative feelings that weaken us. First we have to get past blame. Then we have to learn to send love to all. – Wayne Dyer.

I am celebrating all the successes of the past year which include being, becoming, doing, and experiencing.

I am grateful for all the wisdom and blessings I have learnt from good and bad experiences.

I am creating in the present moment all that I want to become, do, and experience throughout 2013.

I have become my own version of an optimist. If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door – or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present. – Rabindranath Tagore

Positively Positive


Remember this, that very little is needed to make a happy life. — Marcus Aurelius

Current psychological research shows that only 10% of our happiness and well-being is due to our circumstances (no matter how awful they might be) and that 50% is due to our set-point happiness (whether we are naturally more optimistic or pessimistic); however, epigenetics suggests that we can override our genes so we may be able to affect our happiness and well-being by more than the 40% left which we can control with intentional activity.

Whether you are full of the Christmas jollies or look like you are auditioning for the role of Scrooge, watch this short, sweet video on how to invite more joy into your life:


Transmute Worry

Remember, what you focus on expands; results follow focus.
— Marcus Buckingham

Neuroscientific research is consistently showing us the multitude of benefits to mindfulness/meditation/getting still. Jill Bolte Taylor, the neuroscientist who had a stroke, miraculously recovered and lived to tell the tale (a TED Talk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyyjU8fzEYU  and wrote the book “A Stroke of Insight”), discovered in her recovery that our negative thoughts of worry, anxiety, anger etc. last only 90 seconds if we just observe without judgment; what keeps us in a constant mind chatter loop of rumination and negativity is that we continue the story and add to the story with each continuous negative thought as we don´t give our minds the space to observe and release the thought so we can go back to our natural happy state.

Research shows that when we are in a negative emotional state it shuts down our pre-frontal cortex and parietal lobe which inhibits conscious decision-making and creativity and shuts down parts of the brain where we experience joy, happiness, and compassion.  Instead, being in a negative emotional state activates our flight or fight system where we make reactive choices based on fear (or what can seem to be lack of choices, i.e. feeling stuck, continuing bad habits, hiding from life, denial as a defense mechanism), or we fight by being reactive to our circumstances through anger, violence, and abuse.  By keeping a cup half full attitude, counting blessings, and following our desires we can keep the portals open to our own happiness and well-being.

Regular periods of activating our fight or flight system causes stress; stress leads to other symptoms like anxiety and depression, thus entrapping us into a continuous feedback loop of negative thinking and habits which can seem impossible to break out off.  Believe it or not, research has shown that a very simple mindfulness technique can easily help us to release and relieve us of stress; thus changing our neurology from stressed to blessed.

Practice the following:

  • Sitting comfortably, back straight to help energy flow more easily through the body and to stop us from falling asleep (when we lie down, our body is conditioned to fall asleep but if for any reason you need to do this lying down you can). If you feel comfortable to do so, closing your eyes slowly and softly.
  • Focusing on our breath, breathing deep from the diaphragm, slowly inhaling from the nose, exhaling out from the mouth, imagining all the stress being released as you exhale and observing without judgement any thoughts that arise as you do so.
  • Being mindful to always bring our attention back to the breath if we feel our minds start to wander off with our thoughts; keep breathing (which will activate our parasympathetic nervous system which calms and relaxes both the mind and body as both are intrinsically interconnected) until you feel a sense of peace and calm within.
  • When you feel ready, inhale and exhale deeply and slowly from the diaphragm three times, becoming more aware of your body and mind becoming awake and alert and slowly and softly come into the room by opening your eyes.

By making this part of your daily mindful practice or every time you experience stress/worry/anxiety, you are allowing an open space to be created within your pre-frontal cortex and parietal lobe where infinite possibilities reside within your conscious creation.  By acknowledging and honouring our negative emotions which arise for a reason to communicate to us a part of us that needs to heal, change, and/or let go of a situation/relationship/belief, we are then able to create new situations/relationships/beliefs and at the same time keep our brain open to accessing and experiencing happiness, joy, and compassion which can make our healing and transitions through change and challenging circumstances easier and to do so in more conscious, creative, and healthy ways.

A shift in perspective through conscious deep breathing and bearing neutral witness to our thoughts when they arise can transmute worry into wisdom and creative solutions.

An Attitude of Gratitude

When you follow your bliss… doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors, and where there wouldn’t be a door for anyone else.  -Joseph Campbell

Thankfully the same part of the brain where negative thoughts occur is where we can find gratitude which means we can´t simultaneously have a negative thought and a thought of gratitude.  Although important to acknowledge and listen to the wisdom of our pain and negative emotions (under the heading Transmute Worry above shows you how to do this effectively), when stuck in a pattern of negative ruminations or a low mood, focusing our mind on gratitude and our blessings immediately alters the brain chemistry and alleviates our mood and shift in thinking from one of pessimism to that of optimism and faith.

Taking the time to really feel in your heart and mind the things, people, situations, present moments that you are grateful for, activates the parasympathetic nervous system in the body which puts you in a calmer more relaxed state and releases and decreases levels of stress in the mind and body.  It also activates the electromagnetic frequency of the heart and puts it in a state of coherence and peace that communicates with the brain; thus creating this shift in thinking and perspective.  Gratitude is like a natural drug that can alter your mind and body state instantaneously whilst you hold thoughts and feelings of gratitude in your mind and heart.  If you can create an attitude of gratitude before going into difficult circumstances and conversations with others, you will find you see situations in a new light, from a different perspective and one where hopefully you can find a more peaceful and loving way to respond and react to what life and others throw at you.

Interestingly, research conducted by Sonja Lyubomirsky and that she writes about in her book “The How of Happiness”, found that happiness levels increased in participants who practised counting their blessings by writing them down at the end of each week but happiness levels didn´t increase in participants who were asked to do the same task but this time to count their blessings three days per week.  Lyubomirsky suggests this is because the task of counting their blessings three times per week of a persistent duration of time makes the task seem boring and more like a chore than an intentional activity to increase happiness.   It is important to find variety in our habits and routines so that we don´t adapt to them to the extent that they start to become automated where we lose the conscious effect of their benefits.

Find new ways to practice gratitude to keep it fun, effective, and life changing.

Some ideas:

  • For every bad thing that happened to you that week, think about something that you can be grateful for from it; maybe you learnt a new nugget of wisdom or it alerted you to change an aspect of yourself or life.
  • Get kids involved in coming up with creative ways and games to express gratitude before bed or before meal times.
  • Write thank you notes to all the people that brightened up your week.
  • Draw or paint all the things you are grateful for.
  • Have thematic weeks/months where you look out for particular moments of gratitude in different areas of your life like love, career, parenting, friendships, health.
  • Sit in nature and just be grateful for what is, the beauty you are seeing in the moment.
  • Meditate when feeling stressed and overwhelmed and feel the feeling of gratitude in your heart radiating to every cell in your body until you feel calm and at peace and can think from a new perspective of gratitude.
  • If in doubt, you are alive, therefore you have a purpose; be grateful for your life and the opportunity to change yourself and circumstances by coming into conscious awareness and gratitude.

Health is your Wealth

Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend. —Lao Tzu

Movement equals our psychology.  Take, for example, the fact that in 50% of people research has shown that yawning 10 times (even when you fake yawn) is as effective as meditation and relaxation techniques as it awakens the pre-frontal cortex and helps you focus more and be creative.  So the next time you feel stuck when making a decision or have writer´s block, start yawning and stretching to re-awaken your mind. It´s effective as it helps more blood flow get to parts of the brain associated with higher levels of consciousness that Buddhist monks reach when meditating which creates shifts in thinking. Teachers out there and managers allow your students and co-workers to come to class and meetings and yawn…it´s helping them to stay awake, alert and focus on learning and listening; it might even help them come up with some creative ideas!

Doing aerobic exercise for three minutes (and more) changes the neurology of the brain because the brain  after three minutes and more of blood flow oxygenating around the body and brain can´t hold anxious or negative thoughts at the same time providing a wonderful opportunity to create new beliefs about yourself/circumstances/life/relationships.  Start saying those affirmations and intentions you want to create in life whilst exercising and you will literally be re-programming your brain and creating new neural pathways which will help you take positive actions on these newly created thoughts and beliefs about yourself and life.  Now you can literally get a new brain and body at the same time!

Help Others to Heal Yourself

If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap. If you want happiness for a day — go fishing. If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else. Chinese Proverb

Try it.  Help a family member, a friend, a stranger, a charitable cause and you will see how much better you feel about yourself and about life in general.  Although life will always come with uncertainty of the unknown, helping others allows us to feel more resilient and gain self-control knowing that whatever comes our way or into the paths of others together we can find a way to thrive beyond these circumstances.  Helping others is often one of the recommendations given to people suffering from depression by their psychologist as it brings the focus away from the person´s problems and puts the focus on helping someone else; if you can help others and see their lives change, you will also be able to be a powerful instigator in your own life.  It also shows the world is also full of love, compassion, hope and kindness.

Create Sacred Space

Never allow a person to tell you no who doesn’t have the power to say yes. – Eleanor Roosevelt

We all need boundaries in our life.  In order to create the right boundaries for us, we need to know what it is that we want to experience in each area of our life.  Once we know what we want, we will easily be able to recognize when things show up in our life, relationships and our own behaviour and actions that we don´t want; it alerts us to areas in our life that need to change.  The only thing we have control over is changing ourselves.

Creating a space within us through meditating, being mindful, focusing on our breathe where we can get still and create space between our thoughts to let go of whatever no longer serves us in life and invite in the experiences that help us to feel more love and flourish in our lives will help us to create the right boundaries for us.

It´s always helpful to write down what we want as it serves as a physical reminder and of course you can change and adapt what you have written as your wants and needs change too.  I recommend creating a list of categories such as: Love relationships, Family, Friends, Career, Life Purpose, Hobbies, Travel, Fun time, Education/Learning/Skills etc.  Under each category you have created, create the following sub-categories of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual (as these are the four main energies of how we experience the world and they are all interconnected and create our whole health and well-being) and describe in detail what you want to feel and experience in each category and sub-category.  Take the time to visualize and feel in your body how it would feel to be experiencing your dreams and intentions.  Take as long as you need to complete this activity and if you need to do it over a duration of days or weeks, it will be worth it to do it properly.  Once you have finished, take a look at your life, current circumstances and relationships and become consciously aware of people, habits, lifestyle changes that you need to change, adjust or simply let go of in order to make room for all the new and exciting experiences and people you now want to call and invite into your life.

If you don´t take charge of your life and become responsible for how you want to feel and how you want to experience and live your life, you will end up becoming a victim of other people´s agendas and motivations that in most cases will not serve you but serve their needs and experiences which in the end will suck out all your energy and life force.  Take back your life from others and limiting circumstances by looking within and making internal changes and choosing intentional activities that increase happiness, health, and well-being.  As Gandhi so wisely encouraged, “be the change you wish to see in the world”, and I would add in your life too!

Value Yourself

I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence, but it comes from within. It is there all the time. — Anna Freud

The neuroscientist Mark Waldman recommends the following technique based on research for guiding our life and conversations by what we value most in our life:

  • Sitting up straight, focusing on the breath, breathing deep from the diaphragm in order to get still, closing your eyes slowly and softly and if you feel comfortable to do this.
  • Focus your mind on your heart and ask yourself this question: What is your deepest innermost value?
  • What comes to mind first for you? Remember there are no right or wrong answers to this question.
  • Become neutral observer (without judgement  and replay past memories like a movie in your mind and just observe the thoughts and old beliefs that arise and as they arise release them without judgement and staying focused on your breath, breathing deeply and slowing, inhaling through the nose and exhaling out through the mouth.
  • By observing only, we are creating space between thoughts that arise which gives us creative license to create new beliefs for the person and life you want to become and live now. (Remember we are energy, fluid, and malleable so up-date your belief system with this technique as and when you need to and for all areas of your life).
  • This technique can complement the list of experiences and dreams you wrote down in the activity recommended in the section above.
  • To come out of your mindfulness practice, breathe deeply and slowing inhaling and exhaling three times and becoming conscious of your body and slowly and softly opening the eyes.

Inner wisdom is only ever a few breaths away.

Tribe of Positivity

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. — Charles William Eliot

Apparently readers of self-help books on average only read the first two chapters and this includes the New York Times Best Seller ones – yikes!!!  Wonder how many blog readers have scrolled down to read this 😉 Accordingly, self-help has garnered the nickname shelf-help where the books get left to collect dust.  It´s very common that people are initially excited and enthusiastic about self-help books, retreats, workshops that they sign-up to and buy every course and book going, only to forget the one crucial principle that will actually help change you and your life: TAKING ACTION!!!  No one can do that for you but you!

Yes, it´s important to collect and use many resources like books, courses and workshops to learn the skills and training you need to implement changes in your life, equally it is important to create a positive social support system around you that encourage you to take action and can also act as examples of what your life will look like when you do.  Seek out people that are already doing and living the different aspects of your life that you want to improve as well as meet up with like minded people like yourself who are trying to positively take action on their desires and dreams so you can support each other along the journey which will no doubt be full of surprises, challenges, joy, miracles and many blessings big and small.  By doing the written exercise recommended under the heading Creating Sacred Space will help you to know what you want to emulate in your life and by having an attitude of gratitude, as mentioned under the heading with the same name, will help you to remain positive and grateful even when challenges arise and will help you to create new solutions to problems instead of allowing negative emotions to control and take over your life.

Notice how the above information under all seven headings interlink and act as bridges of support in creating intentional ways of increasing happiness, health and well-being in you as a whole and in all aspects of your life.

Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.  ~Nathaniel Hawthorne



You are not your past. You are not all the things that have happened to you. You are the possibility of what can be. —Oprah

Although Christmas is a time for celebration, joy, giving and receiving, it can also be a time of adversity for many, whether that be financial difficulty, illness, death, tragedy, divorce, war, natural disaster, conflict, life doesn´t stop happening just because another festive period is beckoning.  With patience, self-love, and compassion, we can try to move into a perspective of life happens but let´s turn these lessons into blessings, helping others, and making changes to laws, government policies, education etc. so that others don´t have to suffer what we have, instead of having an attitude of life happens to me and becoming stuck by circumstances.

Check out this inspiring short video about adversity and make a choice about how you´re going to approach life from now on: are you the carrot, the egg or coffee?


When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it. – Henry Ford

Have no regrets!!! Empower yourself and loved ones with this knowledge that during the time you spent feeling unfulfilled, sad, depressed, unhappy, vulnerable, you also learnt the skills you need to succeed and be happy.  Check out Dr. Brené Brown´s research on how vulnerability actually connects us to our joy and creating loving and healthy relationships in our lives by showing up and being authentic.


If you want to succeed in your life, remember this phrase. The past does not equal The future. Because you failed yesterday; or all day today, or a moment ago, or for the last six months; the last 16 years, or the last fifty years of life doesn’t mean anything…All that matters is what are you going to do, Right Now.
– Anthony Robbins

I’ve never met a person, I don’t care what his condition, in whom I could not see possibilities. I don’t care how much a man may consider himself a failure, I believe in him, for he can change the thing that is wrong in his life any time he is ready and prepared to do it. Whenever he develops the desire, he can take away from his life the thing that is defeating it. The capacity for reformation and change lies within.Preston Bradley

You Beauty



My inner beauty is radiating out of every cell in my body.

My skin is glowing with love.

Every cell in my body is filled with love and light, regenerating and re-energizing itself, releasing anything that no longer serves me.

My imperfections and perfections equally create my inner and outer beauty.

We turn not older with years, but newer every day.
— Emily Dickinson

The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years. – Audrey Hepburn

Beauty – in projection and perceiving – is 99.9% attitude. – Grey Livingston

You can take no credit for beauty at sixteen. But if you are beautiful at sixty, it will be your soul’s own doing. – Marie Stopes

 People often say that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder. This empowers us to find beauty in places where others have not dared to look, including inside ourselves. – Salma Hayek

True Self


When there is love in a marriage
, there is harmony in the home; when there is harmony in the home, there is contentment in the community; when there is contentment in the community, there is prosperity in the nation; when there is prosperity in the nation, there is peace in the world. Chinese Proverb

True happiness births and evolves from within ourselves despite our external circumstances and the stories, beliefs and ideals we attach to others and situations past, present and future in our lives.  The true test of who you are, how secure and resilient you are and the relationships you have in your life is when life circumstances change beyond your control or expectations.  Despite taking care of your health, you may still get ill; despite working hard in your job and accomplishing work goals, you may still get made redundant; your beautiful home may be destroyed in a natural disaster; your husband/wife may leave you suddenly through choice, or by death; you may lose a child or relative unexpectantly; or you may be suffering the consequences of your actions through poor health/relationship/money choices.  Either way, everything changes and there are no guarantees in life.  All we have is the present moment where we can change the past and future by how we choose to act and treat others in each given moment.  Instead of judging others by their external circumstances, material possessions, or bank balance, pay attention to how the people close to you and who you invite into your life choose to act when things are going wrong, when obstacles show up, when plans and projects fail, when they experience any type of loss or sudden change, this will enlighten you to the true character and qualities of that person and how their actions and behaviours could influence and impact your life for better or for worse.  The following is a poem to guide you and ask yourself how you and the people close to you are choosing to live and what is really important in your/their life:

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.

I want to know what you ache for,

And if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.

I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love,

For your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon.

I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow,

If you have been opened by life’s betrayals or

Have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain!

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own;

If you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you

To the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful,

Be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you’re telling me is true.

I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself,

If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.

I want to know if you can see beauty

Even when it is not pretty every day,

And if you can source your life from God’s presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine,

And still stand on the edge of a lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have,

I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair,

Weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you are, how you came here,

I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the Fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.

I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away,

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself, And if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

– Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Indian Elder.