How to Help Yourself by Owning Your “Bad” Qualities A Guest Post by Amita Patel

Hand writing Time to Reinvent Yourself with white chalk on blackboard.
Hand writing Time to Reinvent Yourself with white chalk on blackboard.

“Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” ~William Shakespeare

Like many women, I feared my own voice.

I feared what would happen if I acknowledged my feelings and I feared what would happen if I expressed them.

Above all, I feared that people would leave me if I ever communicated as my true self.

In my family and culture, feelings are things that are best when denied. I was taught they are a liability that, if embraced, would lead to fights, pain, and loneliness. I was encouraged to ignore, avoid, and push them down into the recesses of my mind.

Not surprisingly, by thirteen I developed severe depression, resulting in poor coping mechanisms, a reliance on medication, and a suicide attempt.

The need to express myself was natural and necessary, but my belief that it was wrong prevented me from ever owning my voice. Instead, I communicated in unhealthy ways:

  • I had angry outbursts.
  • I played the martyr.

And while I tried to suppress and control this side of me, it came out in waves of anger and hurt. Through decades of transformation, I now understand that many of my behaviors were based on my belief that things are either all good or all bad.

So how did I unlearn this belief and learn to express my true voice?

By learning how I played the game of black and white.

When we’re young, we’re taught that certain aspects of our personality are bad or wrong, while others are good and useful. And like most things we learned as kids, we need to unlearn them.

In order to fit in, feel loved, and gain acceptance we disown the “bad” qualities we believe we have and try to express ones that are seen as “good.”

This polarized thinking forces us to see the world in terms of black and white, right and wrong, or good and evil. And in this game of black and white, the only rule is that white must always win.

Unfortunately, the world isn’t that simple. Most things exist on a frustrating spectrum of grey.

Fortunately, we can learn to re-own these repressed qualities and transform them into qualities that benefit us and others.

For example:

  • Owning our anger can lead to self-love, if this enables us to set boundaries to take better care of ourselves.
  • Owning our self-expression can lead to genuine connection, if this enables us to get in touch with and communicate our true wants and needs.
  • Owning our apathy can lead us to a passionate career, if this enables us to redirect our energy and quiet our fear of failure.

Here’s How:

The first step to seeing how you play the game of black and white is to determine which traits you’ve put into each category.

What qualities in others make you angry? Often the aspects of others that trigger us are the things we don’t like about ourselves. These are frequently the areas that we need to work on the most.

For example, when other people stated their boundaries, I previously felt threatened because I wasn’t comfortable setting my own. This taught me that I needed to address this issue in my own life in order to feel whole and attract other people with healthy boundaries.

To begin, list several “bad” qualities. These are the traits that go in your “black” pile (i.e.: lazy, late, disorganized, loud).

What qualities do you think of as good, desirable, and appropriate? These are the qualities that we are praised for or that we value in ourselves or others. List several “positive” qualities. These are the traits that go in your “white” pile (i.e.: honest, flexible, driven).

Next, determine how the game manifests in your life.

In what ways do you play the game so that “white” must win? What have been the consequences? For example, in believing that silencing my voice is good, I’ve been in unhealthy relationships, had angry outbursts, and felt depressed.

If you were to give the disowned trait a voice, what would it say? For example: mine would tell me that it’s safe to be the real me.

Finally, embrace the trait as neither good, nor bad, simply a part of you.

If you were to re-own that trait, how could it benefit you? Often, qualities we view as “bad” are harsh criticisms or expressions of our own fears.

For example, I often find that I am frustrated when I perceive someone to be lazy. This, however, is merely triggering my own fear that I am not doing enough. Owning this trait allows me to see that there are times when I should relax.

Owning it taught me that I don’t need to overwork in order to prove that I am worthy. Owning my lazy side would allow me to live a more balanced life and cultivate self-love.

Creating awareness around how you play the game of black and white will give you the freedom to consciously choose your behaviors instead of going on autopilot.

It will allow you to stop stumbling through life and begin navigating it on your own terms. You don’t need to accept your false beliefs when you have the power to change them.

Isn’t it time you mastered your life?


5 Habit Makeovers That Will Help You Turn Your Life Around A Guest Post by Michele Lian


the best vision is insight phrase  on a vintage slate blackboard
the best vision is insight phrase on a vintage slate blackboard


“Learn how to cope, sweet friend. There will always be dark days ahead.” ~Kris Carr

Around this time four years ago, my life was a mess.

Work-wise, I felt like I had hit a wall. The ‘relationship’ I was in (or so I thought I was) was turning out to be a one-way street on which I was being taken for a long, long, painful ride.

Taking care of myself was something I did only when I remembered to, or during unpredictable moments of clarity or calm within the little emotional tornado I was spinning around and around in.

Just surviving each day was my priority.

The cumulative toxicity of all these ‘wrongs’ were making me feel jaded, physically ill, and almost on the brink of despair.

Luckily for me (although I didn’t consider myself lucky at the time), things came to a head just before Christmas of 2013, thanks to one small step I decided to take.

I decided that I’d had enough, and walked away—for good.

Despite the pain, my life changed for the better that very instant. I felt lighter. Relieved. Free. As if I could finally rest my head on my pillow and sleep like baby.

By then, I had also left my full-time job and started out on my own.

I was ready to move on.

But before that, I spent months in a self-imposed ‘rehab’ period, analyzing everything that went wrong in the last couple of years, why I let them happen, and what I was going to do to move not just forward, but upward.

So where did I go wrong?

I was a “yes” person.

Whenever someone asked something of me, I never said no.


Because I wanted to be liked and accepted by everyone. “If I say no, maybe this person wouldn’t love me,” I thought to myself.

Looking back, it became clear how ridiculous and dangerous this mindset was. No matter how hard I tried or what I did, there was always someone who would get offended, or upset with me. Being a “yes” person was leaving me drained, resentful, and angry.

The more I said yes, the more I got myself into situations I would later regret, and the more I let myself be used.

When I reached my breaking point, I finally said no for the first time, and it left me feeling liberated. So I kept doing it, as much as I needed to.

Life began to feel easier. I had fewer obligations and more time on my hands to focus on re-grouping, healing, and the people I truly wanted to spend time with.

Your “yes” makeover: Start practicing saying no. You will never be able to—nor should you be obligated to—make everyone happy, even if you tried. And by doing this, you’ll learn how to say yes only when you truly mean it. You’ll start to make better decisions from your gut, not social pressure or a chronic need for validation or approval.

Nourishing my body was not my priority. 

When everything seems to be going wrong, you’re anxious, sad, confused, and lost, the last thing you’ll want to do is have to choose between that extra large pizza and salad for lunch.

Eating might not even be on your radar if you’re going through a rough, traumatic patch.

But here’s the thing—I’d been on both ends of the spectrum, eating too much and then not eating at all for days when life got overwhelming. Both options left me feeling and looking worse off than I already was.

Unwanted weight gain sapped my self-confidence and added to my daily stressors, while too little nourishment left me feeling weak and unable to cope with life.

I adapted by simplifying my meals—I ate more fruit and salads, which didn’t require much cooking and minimal preparation. I let people cook for me and bring me food.

I took a multivitamin every day. I snacked whenever I could. I scheduled my meals as much as possible so that I was constantly reminded to eat. I knew that if I didn’t eat, I wouldn’t be able to get through this storm. As I healed, so did my eating habits.

Your diet makeover: When you’re struggling to take care of yourself, know that it’s okay to make imperfect food choices. It’s okay let others help you.

Add more structure to your meal times so you make a conscious effort to nourish your body. Eat with friends to lift your spirits. The joy will come back. The better you get at this, the better you’ll be able take care of yourself the next time life knocks you down.

I let toxic people enter and stay in my life.

Whenever I was around the wrong people, I’d feel one or a combination of these emotions: doubtful, sad, agitated, uneasy, or just plain tired, as if the wind had been knocked out of my sails. In contrast, the right people made me feel light, playful, at ease, uplifted, motivated, and supported.

As I got stronger and started making clear-cut decision about who could stay in my life and who would get the boot, I came up with guidelines that would make the weeding out process easier.

If someone:

  • Continuously took without ever giving back to me (or anyone else)
  • Turned every disagreement around to make it look like it was my fault
  • Belittled my hopes and feelings
  • Verbally abused me
  • Lied to me
  • Was unable to take responsibility for their mistakes and prefers to play the blame game

I walked away. No exceptions. Life is way too short to spend with the wrong people.

Your toxic relationship makeover: Give everyone in your life three chances to make things right when they do something to hurt you. Three strikes later, if nothing changes, don’t just walk away—run. I know this sounds harsh, but doing this has allowed me to regain control over who I want in my life, and who I don’t, and my peace of mind.

I stopped dreaming.

It takes faith and determination to keep the fires within your soul burning, even more so when you’re running on empty with a bruised heart and spirit.

I went on this way for years until I eventually stopped hoping and dreaming, because I felt so trapped.

My self-imposed ‘rehab’ time was perfect for giving this part of my soul much needed TLC.

I re-started my fires by devouring as many books as I could. Danielle LaPorte’s The Fire Starter Sessions, Jonathan Fields’ Uncertainty, Napoleon Hill’s Think And Grow Rich, and Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth were instrumental in helping me piece back my spirit, world and dreams.

I spent a lot of time excavating, exploring, tweaking, re-discovering, and building.

I opened myself up to deeper conversations, made peace with my mistakes and weak decisions, and started connecting instead of avoiding.

Baby sparks eventually grew into larger-than-life flames.

Your dream makeover Your dreams didn’t die overnight, so take your time getting them back. Getting clarity about what you really want will help you decide the first steps you’ll need to take.

Try doing this simple, but powerful exercise: Ask yourself, “What do I want to accomplish?” Then with whatever answer you come up with, ask why to that, and so on, five times.

Start re-kindling your flame from here.

Too much stillness crept into my life.

The darker and bigger the grey clouds around me got, the heavier I started to feel, physically and emotionally. I dragged my feet wherever I went. The thought of exercising felt like a chore, using up energy I felt I no longer had.

So I gradually stopped.

As a result, I started to feel stagnant, sluggish, and unhealthy. I loved getting my regular flush of adrenaline and post-workout endorphins, but I just couldn’t get going.

There were, however, two things I could do that I found therapeutic and beneficial to my physical health: walking and yoga. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for high-speed, high-intensity, as-many-rounds-as-possible circuits just yet. And that, too, was okay.

Long, head space-clearing walks, rhythmic, breath-centered sun salutations, and gentle stretches became my salvation, so I did more of those.

Your movement makeover: When it comes to exercise, do what is right for you when it is right for you. If hard and fast is your usual routine, it doesn’t mean that you need to force yourself to keep up with it despite not being in the right mental space for it.

Not listening to your gut (and body) could leave you vulnerable to injury and unable to make the most of your training. If you’ve never exercised, just getting out and moving could make a world of difference.

Be gentle on yourself, and learn to bend as the wind blows—you’ll gain a deeper kind of strength from within.


8 Examples of Passive Aggressive Behavior A Guest Post by Carthage Buckley


Passive aggressive behaviour can be difficult to recognise at first. It is recognisable by the disconnect between what the person says and what they do. Passive aggressive people tend to express their negative feelings in an indirect manner, rather than state their disapproval directly to the person concerned. There tends to be a great deal of hostility associated with passive aggressive behaviour and a great deal of this tends to be derived from miscommunication, failure to communicate or the assumption that the other person knows what they are thinking or feeling.  From a relationship perspective, passive aggressive behaviour can be the most difficult communication style to deal with as you are not quite sure what you are dealing with.

8 Examples of passive aggressive behaviour

There are many different ways in which passive aggressive behaviour can be expressed. The following list, though not exhaustive, covers some of the most common examples.

1. Resenting the demands of others

When others make requests or demands of them, passive aggressive people will often view them as unfair or unjust. Rather than express their feelings, they will bottle them up and resent the other person for making the demands. They quickly forget that they did not have to agree to the demand, or that they could have voiced their feelings at the time that the request was made.

 2. Deliberate procrastination

Procrastination, the act of putting off that which needs to be done, is often a subconscious decision. With passive aggressive people, however, it is often a conscious decision. Rather than tell the other person that they cannot agree to their request, the passive aggressive person will delay completing the request until the very last moment, or later. This is aimed at punishing the other person for having the audacity to make the request.

 3. Intentional mistakes

Again, rather than say ‘No’, passive aggressive people sometimes find it easier to deliberately perform poorly at a task. The hope is that they will not be asked again due to the substandard work.

 4. Hostile attitude

As they often assume that others know how they feel, passive aggressive people tend to immediately assume that anything they do not approve of was an intended to be a jibe at them. For example, they may assume that their boss knows that they have a full workload. When he boss makes a request of them, they assume that the has something against them and wants to put excessive pressure on them. It never crosses their mind that they could point out to their boss that they have a full schedule and he would then ask somebody else to help.

5. Complaints of injustice and lack of appreciation

Everything is viewed as an attack on them. When something doesn’t go their way, it is seen as unfair or an injustice. It’s all about how the world impacts on them.

 6. Disguising criticism with compliments

At first, passive aggressive people may seem pleasant and warm. They often appear to be complimentary. It is only after they have left that you realise that the compliment was actually disguising a cheap jibe.

7. The last punch

Passive aggressive people love to throw the last punch. So much so, that even when an argument has been reconciled, they slip one last insulting remark into the conversation. This remark is often more subtle than the ones which went before but it is still an insulting remark which allows them to feel victorious.

8. The silent treatment

As stated at the start, passive aggressive behaviour is recognisable by the disconnect between what is being said and what is being done. Nothing highlights this more than the famous silent treatment. Silence generally signifies agreement but not in this case. When you are on the receiving end of the silent treatment, you realise that the other person is far from agreeable. They have a big problem with you and just to allow themselves the Pyrrhic victory, they have no intention of telling you what that is.

There are 2 other common versions of the silent treatment. One is to answer the question ‘What’s wrong?’ with ‘nothing’, when there certainly is something wrong. The other, which sadly I used to use myself, is to answer any question with just one word. This is intended to signal that there is a problem, without you having to say it. I used to pride myself on the complexity of the questions which I could answer with just one word.

There are a number of communication styles. Many times we do not notice them until a dispute arises. It is then that we really see the style which people are most comfortable with. In many ways, passive aggressive behaviour can be the most difficult to deal with as it is not always immediately recognisable. Also, the passive aggressive person can be quite child like (I say this as someone who used this style) and demonstrate an unwillingness to resolve any dispute. It is important to the passive aggressive person that they have the upper hand and they will use some ridiculous tactics to achieve this. The 8 signs of passive aggressive behaviour, listed above, will help you see where you or somebody you know is behaving in a passive aggressive manner. This will allow you to adapt your approach in an attempt to resolve the issue.

I must acknowledge the assistance of my friend Dennis Miedema, of Motriz Marketing, in developing some of the content of this post.

Become A Better Leader Tomorrow By Using These Tips Today A Guest Post by Alisia Paxton



Natural leaders often want to provide various options to others. Everyone has something to offer in the leadership department, and you can figure yours out by throwing yourself out there. This helpful guide is going to provide you with tips for doing that.

When you’re a leader, you’ll need to be accountable. If you make a mistake, admit it and move on. It can be easy to push the blame onto other people, but this should really be avoided. If you’re accountable when you’ve made a mistake, the people around you will feel the need to be more accountable if they’ve made a mistake.

When working to improve in the area of leadership, it is vital that you develop competency. People need to trust that you know what you are doing in order to feel confident in your leadership ability. Instill confidence in those who follow you by finding a mentor to help you become truly proficient in what you do.

Effective leaders are inspiring. You need to develop the ability to inspire those who work under you, motivating them to work toward a common goal. You can use public speaking to achieve this, but there are also videos, blogs, articles and other methods to convey your uplifting message to your audience.

If you make a mistake, admit it. Nothing will kill the confidence workers have for you faster than insistence that you’re right when you are clearly not. However, if you can admit that you are wrong, you will gain the respect of your underlings. The respect of those around you is imperative.

Sincerity plays a major part in leadership. The people that you are leading may come to you with problems. These problems should be listened to and addressed. It may be easy to brush off a problem when it’s not the most important matter. Your team will feel better about you being the leader if you can sincerely listen to and solve their problems.

Make sure that people know that you want the team’s success. If you’re in a position of power, some may suspect that you only want glory for yourself. That’s why it is important to do things that let others know you are on their side, and that your leadership will produce good results for everyone.

Make yourself approachable. There are a great number of people who assume that ruling with an iron fist and intimidation are the right way to show leadership. It is not a good strategy, however; it only makes your team dislike you. Be sure your followers are aware you’re there to help them out, since as their leader, this is your job.

Conquer your fear. Fear can be a terrible thing for you to experience, especially if you’re a leader. Instead, start paying attention to what the fear is telling you. Learn to process it in a way that is healthy and in a way that urges you to move beyond the fear to something more.

Doing well when you’re a leader that’s strong will help you to get ahead when working anywhere and in your day to day life at home. Everyone is required to lead eventually, and it is important for you to know how to lead. Make sure that you took note of everything that was just said.

9 Essential Personal Leadership Skills A Guest Post by Kaylene Mathews

Strong Personal Leadershipis a-1



Strong personal leadership isn’t something we’re born with. It’s something every one of us has to work on to master. It’s something you have to recommit to every single day, because it’s not easy. It’s a decision, an intentional act of the will to stay the course and be a strong personal leader.

9 Essential Personal Leadership Skills

1. Discipline – Nothing happens without discipline, not even getting out of bed in the morning. You must have discipline to start, to keep going and to finish strong. It’s simply about making yourself do what you need to do, even when you don’t want to do it – which is harder on some days than others.

2. Self-Awareness – Not being self-aware is like walking around with toilet paper stuck to the bottom of your shoe. Everyone sees it but you and they’re all talking about it. Self-awareness helps you to see what others see and allows you to adjust and improve accordingly. It empowers you to put your best self forward in every situation.

3. Gratitude – According to Psychology Today, gratitude has numerous benefits including but not limited to, increased determination, enthusiasm, attention and energy. It also will make you more optimistic, improve your exercise, and reduce physical ailments AND it helps you sleep better, lowers depression and has an indirect effect on lowering anxiety. The best part about gratitude is that it’s your choice and it costs you nothing.

4. Commitment to Excellence – Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” When we perform to the very best of our ability, we are practicing excellence. It’s not about perfection, it’s about commitment. Showing up every day and giving everything you’ve got.

5. Routines and Rituals – The purpose of routines and rituals for the strong personal leader is to help you build strong habits into your life. Similar to filling your car with gas and getting regular tune-ups and oil changes, routines and rituals keep your leadership running smoothly.

6. Patience – To have what you really want in life, to live your life on purpose and with purpose requires a degree of patience. The maturity and wisdom found in patience is the bedrock of your success in life both personally and professionally. Patience, especially for the young and motivated and the old and irritated alike, is a virtue that requires intentional effort.


7. Intentional – You cannot be a strong personal leader without being intentional about everything you do. Being intentional requires thought, planning, reflecting, effort, commitment and action. Being unintentional in life is like taking your hands off the steering wheel while driving 80 mph down the freeway. You will eventually end up somewhere you never wanted to be.

8. Grit – This is simply digging in, digging deep and pushing through the tough spots in life. It doesn’t tolerate whining or lamenting or grumbling and complaining. It’s just staying the course when you want to give up. It’s realizing that sometimes life is just life and you have to deal with it.

9. Fun-Loving – The opposite of fun is, “not fun,” which equals stress, because stress is not fun. It’s elementary really. By logical deduction, if you want less stress in your life you need to be having more fun. Stress kills us a little bit each day. According to Statistics Brain, in the United States the percentage of people who regularly experience physical symptoms related to stress is 77% and the percentage of people who regularly experience psychological symptoms of stress is 73%. Stress is rampant and its effects are exacting a toll on our mental, emotional, physical and relational health. The cure? HAVE FUN! Strong personal leaders incorporate fun into their lives because it’s important, it’s good for your health and the soul.

To have what you really want in life and enjoy consistent long-term success master these 9 essential personal leadership skills. Small steps taken each day in the right direction will lead you to the future you really want.



The Delicate Balance: Patience

feather and stone balance

Inspired by the ancient book of wisdom; The Tao Te Ching: Verse Fifteen

The Tao masters of antiquity, subtle wonders through mystery
Depths that cannot be discerned because one cannot discern them
Therefore one is forced to describe the appearance Hesitant, like crossing a wintry river; cautious, like fearing four neighbors
Solemn, like a guest; loose, like ice about to melt Genuine, like plain wood, open, like a valley Opaque, like muddy water Who can be muddled yet desist in stillness gradually become clear?
Who can be serene yet persist in motion gradually come alive? One who holds this Tao does not wish to be overfilled
Because one is not overfilled; therefore one can preserve and not create anew

Lao Tzu


It is hard to image life 500 years before the time of Jesus as hectic. Yet, it must have been. Why else would Lao Tzu compose a verse of the Tao Te Ching reminding everyone to slow down and be mindful of all that is around you?

I am concerned about the pace of life today. I am concerned that I can’t keep up. I’m concerned that I am not certain I want to keep up. I am concerned that I arrive at work all too often not remembering the ride in the car. Lately, I am troubled by the thought that I am not walking my path but running down it at such a speed that I am going to fly by my intended destination.

Slowing down is not something that comes easily to me. I am venturing that it does not come easily to most professional or family caregivers. The thought does drift through my conscious mind every now and then. Customarily, I ignore it. I continue at the same pace or faster. I ignore the signals that I need to rest until the Universeslaps me in the back of my head with sickness, the flare up of an old knee injury or even a fender bender and asks, “Do you hear me now?”

Is living and working under a sense of urgency necessary to accomplish anything meaningful in this mundane world? Do I really need two phones and several other Internet accessible devices to be productive? In an age when we are all expected to be outcome oriented is it sacrilegious to be concerned about the process and the people involved in that process? Is the journey no longer of any value? Is it just about the destination? I believe that it is possible to be active, engaged and yet calm and patient. Now if I could only figure out how to manifest that belief.

I think the first step is to tell my ego, the voice of my insecurities, to shut up. Enough with the relentless thoughts of doom and retribution for venturing to consider that there may be an alternative to living in the fast lane. You can have a great work ethic without having to make yourself sick to convince yourself or anyone else that you are capable of achieving much.

Embracing your Yin/Feminine energy is also a good place to start. Till some soil, plant your hopes and dreams, and watch them take root. Nurture them to be yielding and adaptable to the winds of impermanence. Be patient and receptive to whatever shows up. I realize that is like asking water from the moon but try to sway. Be patient and aware.

I honor the law of attraction. I honestly believe that you can create the life you envision but remember it is not the law of insistence. All will come when it is supposed to. Nothing could or will ever change this. I sometimes think that when prayers are answered it is because you’ve somehow aligned your request with the intended timetable for that manifestation.

Slow down. Don’t be hurried or harried. Breathe. Look around you and be in each step to the best you are able. See the synchronicity of life. You will be amazed how your life will flow to you and how you will flow with it.

8 Things Happy People Do But Rarely Talk About A Guest Post by Steve Kux

The word Joy and many related words and terms in 3d letters against a cloudy blue sky, including enjoyment, bliss, delight, elation and satisfaction


Most of us like to think we are fairly happy people, but deep down we might not necessarily believe it or feel happy. When you look around and see people you grew up with making the most out of life while you keep going to a job you don’t like, repeating the same routine day in and day out, it is easy to feel less than grateful for the life you have. So what are the secrets of all those happy people? What are they doing to get the most out of life while the rest of us watch it pass by?

1. They give


Focusing on money is a sure fire way to end up unhappy. In fact, in studies of happiness, researchers have found that once you have enough money to satisfy your basic needs there are only two ways money can help you. One is by improving your social standing and the other is to give it away. By using their money to help others rather than needlessly hoarding it, happy people feel like they are making a positive contribution to the world.

2. They avoid drama

Happy people also tend to mind their own business. While other people get caught up in other people’s relationships or stress out about who said what to whom, happy people choose to focus on the things they have more control over. Paying attention to your own life and letting other people live theirs is a simple way to maximize happiness.

3. They are grateful


While they may not make a point of rubbing your nose in it, happy people are grateful for the things they have. They don’t spend all their time wanting what other people possess or daydreaming about a better life. Instead, they take a few moments each day to think about all the things that they appreciate and make a point of being grateful for them.

4. They look on the bright side

When the going gets tough, the truly happy are often unshaken. Dwelling on failures and imagining the worst case scenario may be the default option for most people, but if you truly want to be happy, you need to make a point of having faith that things will turn out alright. Maintain your perspective and know that, no matter what happens, you can bounce back.

You may be interested in reading this too: 10 Things Bhutan People Do Differently That Make Them The Happiest People

5. They value relationships

Instead of focusing on money and relentlessly pursuing career advancement by working long hours, the happiest people focus more of their time on personal relationships. At the end of your life, you won’t remember a lot of the time you spent at work. Rather, you will value family meals and time shared with friends. Putting people before money is a powerful tool in achieving happiness.

6. They cultivate many different parts of their lives


While they may place a lot of value on relationships, happy people do not define themselves by one aspect of their lives. They maintain careers they enjoy, they have hobbies, and they love learning and growing as individuals. By paying attention to many aspects of their lives, happy people don’t get overwhelmed when one element of their day-to-day life goes off the tracks. If they get dumped, they still have a rewarding career. If they get injured and can’t play their favorite sport for a while, they still have friends to hang out with. Not putting all your eggs in one basket is a key to being a happy person.

7. They don’t focus on material things

While some of us may think shopping is a great way to relieve stress and that having things will make us happier in the long run, others choose to value experiences over material goods. New clothes are great, but it is hard to get as much enjoyment out of a sweater as you get out of scuba diving the Great Barrier reef and the stories you can tell about it afterwards.

8. They follow their passion


Finally, happy people follow their passions. If they wake up and realize that they are unhappy with their job, they aren’t afraid to leave it to pursue something they really care about. It might involve taking a risk. It might lead to a huge failure. But happy people aren’t afraid to stick their neck out and chase what everyone else is afraid to.

Featured photo credit: Craig Cochrane via

Toxic Boss? How Successful People Overcome Them A Guest Post by Travis Bradberry

Bad bosses contaminate the workplace. Some do so obliviously, while others smugly manipulate their employees, using them as instruments of their own success.

Regardless of their methods, bad bosses cause irrevocable damage to their companies and employees by hindering performance and creating unnecessary stress.

The stress your boss causes is bad for your health. Multiple studies have found that working for a bad boss increases your chance of having a heart attack by as much as 50%.

Even more troubling is the number of bad bosses out there. Gallup research found that 60% of government workers are miserable because of bad bosses. In another study69% of U.S. workers compared bosses with too much power to toddlers with too much power.

The comparisons don’t stop there. Significant percentages of U.S. workers describe their bosses as follows:

  • Self-oriented (60%)
  • Stubborn (49%)
  • Overly demanding (43%)
  • Impulsive (41%)
  • Interruptive (39%)

Most bosses aren’t surprised by these statistics. A DDI study found that 64% of managers admit that they need to work on their management skills. When asked where they should focus their efforts, managers overwhelmingly say, “Bringing in the numbers”; yet, they are most often fired for poor people skills.

TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control. One of their greatest gifts is the ability to neutralize toxic people—even those they report to. This is no easy task. It requires a great deal of emotional intelligence, a skill that top performers rely on.

While the best option when you have a bad boss is to seek other employment, this isn’t always possible.

Successful people know how to make the most of a bad situation. A bad boss doesn’t deter them because they understand that success is simply the product of how well you can play the hand you’ve been dealt. When that “hand” is a bad boss, successful people identify the type of bad boss they are working for and then use this information to neutralize their boss’ behavior.

What follows are seven of the most common types of bad bosses and the strategies that successful people employ to work effectively with them.

1. The Inappropriate Buddy

This is the boss who’s too friendly, and not in the fun, team-building sort of way. He is constantly inviting you to hang out outside of work and engages in unnecessary office gossip. He uses his influence to make friends at the expense of his work. He chooses favorites and creates divisions among employees, who become frustrated by the imbalance in attention and respect. He can’t make tough decisions involving employees or even fire those who need to be fired (unless he doesn’t like them). His office quickly becomes The Office.

How to neutralize an inappropriate buddy: The most important thing to do with this type of boss is to learn to set firm boundaries. Don’t allow his position to intimidate you. By consciously and proactively establishing a boundary, you can take control of the situation. For example, you can remain friendly with your boss throughout the day but still not be afraid to say no to drinks after work. The difficult part here is maintaining consistency with your boundaries, even if your boss is persistent. By distancing yourself from his behaviors that you deem inappropriate, you will still be able to succeed and even have a healthy relationship with your boss.

It’s important you don’t put up unnecessary boundaries that stop you from being seen as friendly (ideally, a friend). Instead of trying to change the crowd-pleaser and force him to be something he’s not, having him see you as an ally will put you in a stronger position than you could have anticipated.

2. The Micromanager

This is the boss who makes you feel as if you are under constant surveillance. She thought your handwriting could use improvement, so she waited until you left work at 7:00 p.m. to throw away your pencils and replace them with the .9 lead mechanical pencils that have the “proper grip.” She has even handed back your 20-page report because you used a binder clip instead of a staple. The micromanager pays too much attention to small details, and her constant hovering makes employees feel discouraged, frustrated and even uncomfortable.

How to neutralize a micromanager: Successful people appeal to micromanagers by proving themselves to be flexible, competent, and disciplined while staying in constant communication. A micromanager is naturally drawn to the employee who produces work the way she envisions. The challenge with the micromanager is grasping the “envisioned way.” To do this, try asking specific questions about your project, check in frequently, and look for trends in the micromanager’s feedback.

Of course, this will not always work. Some micromanagers will never stop searching for something to over-analyze and micromanage. When this is the case, you must learn to derive your sense of satisfaction from within. Don’t allow your boss’ obsession with details to create feelings of inadequacy as this will only lead to further stress and underperformance. Remember, a good report without a staple is still a good report. Despite your boss’ fixation on detail, she appreciates your work; she just doesn’t know how to show it.

3. The Tyrant

The tyrant resorts to Machiavellian tactics and constantly makes decisions that feed his ego. His primary concern is maintaining power, and he will coerce and intimidate others to do so. The tyrant thinks of his employees as a criminal gang aboard his ship. He classifies people in his mind and treats them accordingly: High achievers who challenge his thinking are treated as mutinous. Those who support their achievements with gestures of loyalty find themselves in the position of first mate. Those who perform poorly are stuck cleaning the latrines and swabbing the decks.

How to neutralize a tyrant: A painful but effective strategy with the tyrant is to present your ideas in a way that allows him to take partial credit. The tyrant can then maintain his ego without having to shut down your idea. Always be quick to give him some credit, even though he is unlikely to reciprocate, because this will inevitably put you on his good side. Also, to survive a tyrant, you must choose your battles wisely. If you practice self-awareness and manage your emotions, you can rationally choose which battles are worth fighting and which ones you should just let go. This way, you won’t find yourself on latrine duty.

4. The Incompetent

This boss was promoted hastily or hired haphazardly and holds a position that is beyond her capabilities. Most likely, she is not completely incompetent, but she has people who report to her that have been at the company a lot longer and have information and skills that she lacks.

How to neutralize an incompetent: If you find yourself frustrated with this type of boss, it is likely because you have experience that she lacks. It is important to swallow your pride and share your experience and knowledge, without rubbing it in her face. Share the information that this boss needs to grow into her role, and you’ll become her ally and confidant.

5. The Robot

In the mind of the robot, you are employee number 72 with a production yield of 84% and experience level 91. This boss makes decisions based on the numbers, and when he’s forced to reach a conclusion without the proper data, he self-destructs. He makes little or no effort to connect with his employees, and instead, looks solely to the numbers to decide who is invaluable and who needs to go.

How to neutralize a robot: To succeed with a robot, you need to speak his language. When you have an idea, make certain you have the data to back it up. The same goes with your performance—you need to know what he values and be able to show it to him if you want to prove your worth. Once you’ve accomplished this, you can begin trying to nudge him out of his antisocial comfort zone. The trick is to find ways to connect with him directly, without being pushy or rude. Schedule face-to-face meetings and respond to some of his e-mails by knocking on his door. Forcing him to connect with you as a person, however so slightly, will make you more than a list of numbers and put a face to your name. Just because he’s all about the numbers, it doesn’t mean you can’t make yourself the exception. Do so in small doses, however, because he’s unlikely to respond well to the overbearing social type.

6. The Visionary

Her strength lies in her ideas and innovations. However, this entrepreneurial approach becomes dangerous when a plan or solution needs to be implemented, and she can’t bring herself to focus on the task at hand. When the time comes to execute her vision, she’s already off onto the next idea, and you’re left to figure things out on your own.

How to neutralize a visionary: To best deal with this type, reverse her train of thought. She naturally takes a broad perspective, so be quick to funnel things down into something smaller and more practical. To do so, ask a lot of specific questions that force her to rationally approach the issue and to consider potential obstacles to executing her broad ideas. Don’t refute her ideas directly, or she will feel criticized; instead, focus her attention on what it will take to realistically implement her plan. Oftentimes, your questions will diffuse her plan, and when they don’t, they’ll get her to understand—and commit to—the effort it’s going to take on her part to help make it happen.

7. The Seagull

We’ve all been there—sitting in the shadow of a seagull manager who decided it was time to roll up his sleeves, swoop in and squawk up a storm. Instead of taking the time to get the facts straight and work alongside the team to realize a viable solution, the seagull deposits steaming piles of formulaic advice and then abruptly takes off, leaving everyone else behind to clean up the mess. Seagulls interact with their employees only when there’s a fire to put out. Even then, they move in and out so hastily—and put so little thought into their approach—that they make bad situations worse by frustrating and alienating those who need them the most.

How to neutralize a seagull: A group approach works best with seagulls. If you can get the entire team to sit down with him and explain that his abrupt approach to solving problems makes it extremely difficult for everyone to perform at their best, this message is likely to be heard. If the entire group bands together and provides constructive, non-threatening feedback, the seagull will more often than not find a better way to work with his team. It’s easy to spot a seagull when you’re on the receiving end of their airborne dumps, but the manager doing the squawking is often unaware of the negative impact of his behavior. Have the group give him a little nudge, and things are bound to change for the better.

Bringing It All Together

If you think these strategies might help others, please share this article with your network. Research suggests that roughly half of them are currently working for a bad boss!

READ MORE: Travis co-wrote the bestselling book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and co-foundedTalentSmart.


An Overlooked Key to Success: Practical Humility A Guest Post by Deepak Chopra MD

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Every once in a while, some prominent figure in the public eye is praised for being humble, usually at their funeral. Humility isn’t a quality our society often applies to success, since it doesn’t sit well with other qualities–drive, ambition, ruthlessness, competitive fierceness–that are equated with success all the time. To change this, we need to consider humility not as a religious virtue–the models for it have traditionally been selfless spiritual guides like Jesus and the Buddha–but as a practical way of life.

Seen in that light, humility has one great advantage–it allows you to set your ego aside. At every level of achievement, the ego likes to claim credit while overlooking that the same ego blinds us, leading to bad decisions, poor relationships with others, and a false sense of invincibility. It’s often said that there’s no “I” in teamwork, but there’s no “I” in “clear and open-eyed,” which is what a truly successful person needs to be.

I’d suggest the following steps as a start in practical humility:

1. Keep your feedback loop large. On any project, leaders and followers co-create each other. There is constant input and output. If you get input only from your closest circle, you won’t be in touch with the whole picture.

2. Stay flexible. It’s not hard to detect when someone wants to hear only praise and support for their own ideas. Be flexible enough to allow your core beliefs to be challenged. Such beliefs make the ego think it’s always right, a dangerous delusion.

3. Welcome criticism and know your opposition. Leaders who rise high often feel insecure about their position. They are constant targets of jealousy and criticism. Since this is inevitable, start early on to embrace other points of view, accommodating them when you can and at the very least listening to your critics and taking them seriously. There’s no better way to disarm them.

4. Be good at giving sincere feedback and be alert to the repercussions. Everyone takes notice of how praise and blame are handed out. No one is indifferent. Make sure your feedback doesn’t demean anyone, and if you are in doubt about hurt feelings, see the person privately. “Are we okay?” isn’t enough. Look and listen to their personal reactions.

5. Don’t claim a monopoly on the truth. Keep in mind that you do not see the whole picture. This will instill a desire to hear as many perspectives as possible.

6. In any meeting, never lose sight of one central question, “What do these people need?” Never leave the room feeling confused about this. Behind every discussion, somebody needs something. Your ego needs are just part of the mix.

7. Know the difference between what somebody needs and what they want. We all want more of anything that is available; that’s how the ego is designed. But most of the time, what we actually need isn’t clear. Ego and emotions stand in the way. If you can state your real need in any situation, undistracted by what your ego wants, you will qualify as extremely clear-sighted.

It’s undeniable that the ego, with its focus on I, me, and mine, plays an essential role. The hidden trap as far as the ego goes is that we seem to need one all the time, the stronger the better. Leaders at the top are expected to be decisive, certain, and self-directed in the face of pressures from all directions. Yet even in this real-world scenario there should be a value on setting ego aside temporarily, not simply to make a show of being humble but to get things to work better.

Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 80 books with twenty-two New York Times bestsellers. He serves as the founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing. His latest book is The 13th Disciple: A Spiritual Adventure.