Life's Challenges

Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they're supposed to help you discover who you are. ~ Bernice Johnson Reagon, Singer/Composer

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Many of our problems come from within our own minds.

The self-help, positive thinking industry is often criticized for being too simplistic, too glib about real problems we all face in life. Fair enough. Sometimes they are guilty of that. But there is clear evidence that what we think very often does influence how we act. Take a moment to read this brief challenge to better thinking and living: Many of our problems come from within our own minds.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Each of us is born with a box of matches inside us

"Each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can't strike them all by ourselves; we need oxygen and a candle to help. In this case, the oxygen for example, would come from the breath of the person you love; the candle would be any kind of food, music, caress, word, or sound that engenders the explosion that lights one of the matches. For a moment we are dazzled by an intense emotion. A pleasant warmth grows within us, fading slowly as time goes by, until a new explosion comes along to revive it. Each person has to discover what will set off those explosions in order to live, since the combustion that occurs when one of them is ignited is what nourishes the soul. That fire, in short, is its food. If one doesn't find out in time what will set off these explosions, the box of matches dampens, and not a single match will ever be lighted.  From the novel, Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Boost Your Mood Naturally

All of us from time to time get a little down, worn out, frazzled. Life is often carried on at a hectic pace. Financial woes, family conflicts, work irritations, health issues, all contribute to days when we feel drained of energy and good feelings. Here are some easy tips to help boost our moods and enjoy each day a little more. See them here:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Three Tips to Protect Your Family Now

Here are three very simple and easy things you can do to make sure your family is taken care of in the event of illness, death, or other emergencies. See them here: Protect Your Family Now

Monday, July 25, 2011

Jackson Browne: "If I Could Be Anywhere"

Master musician Jackson Browne reminds us of just how important it is to live here and now. Not in the past in some other time in history, or in some other life, and not out in the future in some assumed happy place we long to know. To live today is our task. To make the changes we want and need now. To be the person we have always wanted to be now. Listen here: "If I Could Be Anywhere" | Video on

Sunday, July 24, 2011

How Disney Invaded American Childhood to Shill Worthless Crap to Our Kids

What are our daughters being told about themselves and their world in the movies, books, and merchandise from Disney? The author of a new book about Disney's powerful influence on the culture of girls in this country is provocative and disturbing. Read an interview with her here: Books | AlterNet

Saturday, July 23, 2011

More Evidence that Exercise is Key to Brain Health

Although a lot of exercise and dieting in our culture borders on unhealthy obsession there is no doubt that a reasonable and consistent workout routine offers amazing physical and emotional benefits to all of us. Here is a brief article with the facts. See it here:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Adversity is a natural part of being human.

"Adversity is a natural part of being human. It is the height of arrogance to prescribe a moral code or health regime or spiritual practice as an amulet to keep things from falling apart. Things do fall apart. It is in their nature to do so. When we try to protect ourselves from the inevitability of change, we are not listening to the soul. We are listening to our fear of life and death, our lack of faith, our smaller ego's will to prevail. To listen to your soul is to stop fighting with life--to stop fighting when things fall apart; when they don't go our away, when we get sick, when we are betrayed or mistreated or misunderstood. To listen to the soul is to slow down, to feel deeply, to see ourselves clearly, to surrender to discomfort and uncertainty and to wait."  Elizabeth Lesser, Author/Cofounder of the Omega Institute

Thursday, July 21, 2011

When Will I be Happy?

The following article is by Shawn Achor and appeared at

When Will I be Happy?
"I will be happy when..."
This innocent comment is the very reason that happiness is so elusive for us in the modern world. We think: I will be happy when I have a successful relationship. I will be happy when I find a job. I will be happy when I'm out of this relationship. I'll be happy when I get that job promotion. I will be happy when my kid gets into the right school. The formula is clear: arbitrarily-defined success, then happiness.
Based upon the research in the new book "The Happiness Advantage," that formula -- success then happiness -- is scientifically backward. Over the past several years, I have been researching the relationship between happiness and success, only to discover that the problem is not that we forget to pursue happiness, but that we are pursuing it with the wrong formula.
Think about how some people conceive of relationships: "I am unhappy being single, so I will be happy when I am dating the person of my dreams." I had a friend in high school tell me that he would never be happy until he met his other half. This is exactly the formula of "I will be happy when..." While researching for an online dating website, I found that people who use this formula actually decrease their chances of finding a date. We have found that happiness and positivity are attractive traits. When the person we date is positive, it raises our own happiness, improves our immune system and lengthens our lives. So we are biologically attracted to happiness. Thus, we are turned off by the desperation which often stems from believing that happiness exists on the opposite side of success.
We don't quote Freud much anymore, but he did get one thing right: Freud said we leak information through every pore. Our brains are designed to look past things we control consciously (like what we say) to look at how we unconsciously say it. Negativity, uncertainty and desperation leak out through our non-verbals: our eyes, lines on our face, the tone of our voice, etc. So if a person wants to start dating, the key is to not wait for happiness. The key is to cultivate happiness first, which shines through on first encounters, instead of wallowing in the discontent of delayed happiness, waiting for some arbitrary success point in the future to trigger happiness.
This is true in every aspect of our life. I have worked with some unemployment service providers who wonder whether it is okay to have an article about happiness research in a newsletter about unemployment. Absolutely. If we think, "I will be happy only when I have a job," then we are putting happiness after success, which significantly decreases the chances of that person getting a job. Job interviewers, just like potential relationship partners, are looking for positive people to work with and to create a good environment. We leak optimism or pessimism through every pore.
So how can we pursue happiness right now? When I was counseling overwrought Harvard students, one of the first things I would tell them is to stop equating a future success (dating) with happiness. Dating does not mean you will be happy. If that was true, then everyone in a relationship would be happy. Look around and you'll see enough empirical proof that relationship does not guarantee happiness. The same is true with success. Is everyone with a job happy? Then stop thinking that finding a job, getting a promotion, etc. is the only thing that can bring happiness. Success does not mean happiness. Check out the entertainment section of The Huffington Post to look for examples to disabuse you of thinking that being beautiful, successful or rich will make you happy.
Second, we need to break the belief that our external world (how much money we make, are we in a relationship, what the economy is doing, etc.) is predictive of our happiness. Only 10 percent of our long-term happiness is predicted by the external world; 90 percent of our long-term happiness is thus how our brain processes the external world. This is why we find people at the same job who are positive and love their work, and others see it as drudgery and stress. This is why some people love being single and others cannot stand it. The external world does not predict your happiness, which is a freeing scientific realization about how much control you actually have over your happiness.
Third, happiness is a work ethic. You have to train your brain to be positive, just like you work out your body. Doing one positive habit, like eight minutes of meditation a day, journaling for two minutes about a positive experience (it backfires if you write about negative ones!) or writing a two-minute long positive email to a friend once a day -- all have been found in research over the past decade to significantly increase happiness, whatever your current life circumstances. Training your brain for gratitude is one of the most powerful ways to accomplish this. Gratitude is the recognition that the present can make you happy instead of waiting for a future event. Thus, if you think of three things you are grateful for over the course of 21 days, your level of optimism in life significantly rises.
The other half of the research in "The Happiness Advantage" is the good news: if you reverse the order of the formula, you end up with greater happiness and greater success rates. Happiness is the precursor to greater success. Every single relationship, business and educational outcome improves when the brain is positive. If you cultivate happiness while in the midst of your struggles, work, at school, while unemployed or single, you increase your chances of attaining all the goals you are pursuing, including happiness.
(c) 2011 Huffington Post

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Movies and Their Power

When I'm feeling blue.  When the canvas on my little sailboat of life hangs motionless in a hot, windless sea.  When my steps are labored and I drag my feet around like heavy stones.  When hardly anything makes sense anymore and the world appears completely off its axis.  When fun has taken leave of me like some misplaced treasure.  When my soul has no more music in it.  It is then that I go to the movies.  
There in semi-darkness, the anticipation of excitement grows.  Alone or with a companion I soak up the surrounding atmosphere--people chatting, the screen running its ads and movie trivia questions, the soft dim lights signaling something will happen soon, the comfortable seats and convenient cup holders, reminders that small pleasures carry value. 
Has a plain old hotdog and soda ever tasted better than at the movies?  And what is it about movie theater popcorn that never changes and in spite of marketing efforts, is never duplicated? 
Eventually the theater darkens and the screen fills with activity--previews, Coke ads, that little piece about shutting off cell phones, until finally the main attraction is rolling and before I know it I am caught up in the life of a story unfolding on film. 
For a brief while all the burdens of my existence float off to some far away place and are forgotten.  All the poisons inside my spirit--hurts, sadness, loneliness, anger, stress, dread--are released in tears, in laughter, in suspense--and for a beautiful short-lived time I transcend every oppressive worry in the wonder of a movie. 
Later, walking out into the fresh air of the afternoon or evening, I greet my life again waiting for me in the real world. 
On my way home I know the duties of living have returned but I feel I am ready to fulfill them.  My humanity has been affirmed.  I have found my place again within the restless crowd.  Mysterious inner resources discovered in that theater of enchantment have emboldened me now to face tomorrow's deadlines and obligations with a curious new sense of relief, longing, and determination.

ã 2011 Timothy Moody

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Building a park in the sky

The ingenuity of humans is often astounding. Take a moment to see this brief video of a man in New York City who helped turn an old abandoned rail line high above the city into a modern beautiful park. Video on

Monday, July 18, 2011

How to Get More Intuitive

Intuition reminds us to trust our instincts, to realize we just might know more than we think we do. Here is a brief article that offers tips on how to stay in touch with those gut feelings that are almost always accurate. See it here: How to Get More Intuitive

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Reinvent Yourself

"The biggest intellectual breakthrough in the life of the great poet William Butler Yeats came when he realized that happiness and growth are one and the same.  They could not be separated.  You can notice this for yourself: you are happy when you are growing.  And no growth you have ever made has been effortless.

Watch the nature film of the butterfly struggling to push through the cocoon.  You will see the effort.  You will be moved.  You will see the animating force within living beings.  It’s the force of personal reinvention.  Watch the movie Rocky.  You will see the hidden connection between effort and joy.  Pay attention to your reactions to certain scenes in movies.  Pay attention to your goose bumps and your tears.  They come in response to courage and effort.  They don’t come in response to a scene in which someone is being comfortable.  Pay attention to why you are chocked up.  It is your potential self trying to tell you something." ~ From the book, Reinvent Yourself: How to Become the Person You've Always Wanted to Be, by Steve Chandler

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Using a Big Fork May Help You Eat Less

Harsh diets, endless workouts, starving routines, are all ways to lose weight but are they always good for us? Here are some useful tips on learning to stay away from huge helpings and the urge to just keep eating even when we are full. See the article here: Using a Big Fork May Help You Eat Less

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Secrets to a Stress-Free, Happy, Healthy Family

Happy healthy families don't just fall out of the sky. We have to create them. It takes work, commitment, humor, creativity, devotion, love, and much more. Here are some practical ideas to help you keep your family together while the kids are young and later on as well. See them here:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What We Need Is Here

“Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes.  Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here.  And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear.  What we need is here.”

~ Wendell Berry, American Poet

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Change is Good (Really!)

We all get comfortable in our routines, our marriages and relationships, our work, our health. We often fail to plan for change. Here is a brief article to help us be better prepared for the unexpected things in life, or those things we know may be coming, but we simply disregard them. See it here: Change is Good

Monday, July 11, 2011

What is Family?

"What is family? They were the people who claimed you. In good, in bad, in parts or in whole, they were the ones who showed up, who stayed in there, regardless. It wasn't just about blood relations or shared chromosomes, but something wider, bigger. We had many families over time. Our family of origin, the family we created, and the groups you moved through while all of this was happening: friends, lovers, sometimes even strangers. None of them perfect, and we couldn't expect them to be. You can't make any one person your world. The trick was to take what each could give you and build your world from it." ~ From the novel, Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Sunday, July 10, 2011

9 Things to Stop Worrying About

We all worry too much. Life today creates a multitude of stressful situations that often leave us tense and worried. And some of what we have always heard that is bad for us is not necessarily true. This article debunks many of those myths. See it here: Stop Worrying About

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chose to live. Really live.

     On February 5, 1982, Steven Callahan was 800 miles west of the Canary Islands in his boat, the "Napoleon Solo."  
     In a matter of moments his boat was capsized and sinking in a fierce storm.  When the waters settled, Callahan, 30 years old at the time, was alone in a leaky raft.  With only a few resources at hand he collected rainwater for drinking and pieced together a crude spear for fishing.  He ate barnacles and now and then small birds he captured.  In order to keep his mind active he made notes of his experience.  He did yoga when he was able even though he was terribly weak.
     For seventy-six days he drifted in the ocean.  Then on April 21 he was discovered by the crew of a boat off the coast of Guadeloupe.  He is the only person to have survived alone more than a month at sea.
     He described his ordeal in his book, Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea.  
     Although an experienced seaman, Callahan says he survived because he made a choice.  He was determined to stay alive and to endure whatever was necessary in order to be rescued.  He chose to struggle.  He chose to not give up.  He chose to live however he could.
     We all face similar, if not as dramatic, choices every day.  They may have to do with our marriage or a relationship we are in.  They may be about a healthy lifestyle or the courage to start a new career.  They may be about friends or family or coworker conflicts.  They may be about dreams or hobbies or wishes unfulfilled.
     The choices we make ultimately decide the lives we live.  As the French philosopher Camus said, "Life is the sum of all your choices."
     Choose to live, really live.
© 2011 Timothy Moody

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tip for Insomniacs: Cool Your Head to Fall Asleep

We all from time to time have bouts of insomnia. The inability to fall asleep and stay asleep can be frustrating and adversely effect our health. New research shows that cooling the brain at bedtime can help many get to sleep. See the article here: Cool Your Head to Fall Asleep

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Therapy That Can Help Depression

Mild depression, discouragement, feelings of being sort of lost in life are things that I help people deal with. But chronic or debilitating depression that significantly interferes with your relationships, work, and daily life, usually require some kind of ongoing therapy. For more information see an excellent article here:

Monday, July 4, 2011

The ability to let go.

Some helpful thoughts about learning to let life move along without trying to control every single thing that happens to us. See the article here: The ability to let go.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

U.S. Children Misdiagnosed with Bipolar Disorder

Children today are coping with a whole assortment of issues. Many of them are worn out from endless school, sports, dance, and other activities. They often have no time to be a child. Video games and hours of television and online movies consume them. As a result many children develop emotional and or behavioral problems that frighten and frustrate parents. Here is an excellent article by a leading child psychiatrist who says the current fad in medicine to diagnose children with bipolar disease is nonsense. See the article here: Newsweek