This is a compilation of thoughts and quotes that I have found or written recently, as well as many that I've collected throughout the years. Most thoughts are posted randomly, as I feel inspired. A listing of quotes can be found alphabetically (check the 2008 and 2009 archives listing), or by source.

Feel free to suggest additions!

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” – Proverbs 23:7

Friday, January 29, 2016

Wisdom From Two Successful Women: Oprah Winfrey and J.K. Rowling

From Oprah Winfrey:

“I don't believe in failure. It is not failure if you enjoyed the process.”

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”

“Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don't fight them. Just find a different way to stand.”

“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.” 

“Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.”

“The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.”

“Understand that the right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege. Use it. Dwell in possibility.”

“The whole point of being alive is to evolve into the complete person you were intended to be.”

“I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity."

“Whatever you fear most has no power — it is your fear that has the power.”

“Every day brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes, and dance.” 

“I believe that one of life's greatest risks is never daring to risk.”

“Check your ego at the door and check your gut instead. Every right decision I have ever made has come from my gut.“

“I know for sure that what we dwell on is who we become.”

“You are built not to shrink down to less but to blossom into more.” 

“Difficulties come when you don't pay attention to life's whisper. Life always whispers to you first, but if you ignore the whisper, sooner or later you'll get a scream.”

“Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough.”

“Every time you state what you want or believe, you're the first to hear it. It's a message to both you and others about what you think is possible. Don't put a ceiling on yourself.”

“Be more splendid, more extraordinary. Use every moment to fill yourself up.” 

“I trust that everything happens for a reason, even when we're not wise enough to see it.”

“Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.”

From J.K. Rowling:

“I mean, you could claim anything’s real if the only basis for believing in it is that nobody’s proved it doesn’t exist!”

“Some failure in life is inevitable It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all — in which case, you fail by default.”

“Is 'fat' really the worst thing a human being can be? Is 'fat' worse than 'vindictive', 'jealous', 'shallow', 'vain', 'boring' or 'cruel'? Not to me."

“As is a tale, so is life: Not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.”

“I don't think there's any harm at all in allowing a kid to fantasize. In fact, I think to stop people from fantasizing is a very destructive thing indeed.”

"We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

"Never be ashamed! There's some who'll hold it against you, but they're not worth bothering with."

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” — Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

“Whatever money you might have, self-worth really lies in finding out what you do best.”

“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” — Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

“Whatever money you might have, self-worth really lies in finding out what you do best.”

“What’s coming will come, and we’ll meet it when it does.” – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

"Why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me."

Friday, January 22, 2016

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Thursday, January 14, 2016

What humans can learn from grapes about life

A few years back I lived just outside Florence, Italy in the
Chianti r
egion of Italy where the famous Chianti wines are made. One day I was walking along a trail next to a vineyard when I came upon an elderly farmer standing among his grape vines. Eager to practice my Italian, I said to the man, “This is a beautiful vineyard you have.”

“Tante grazie,” he replied.

“You must have very good soil to grow such grapes that make famous wines.”

The man looked at me then said, “No, Signore. You cannot grow good grapes in good soil.”

I thought this curious and so when I got back home I looked it up on the internet. The farmer was right of course. I learned that bad soil yields higher quality grapes than good soil because, in poor soil, the vines have to work harder, branching off more roots to gather nutrients. Not only does this increase the amount of nutrients that ultimately get to the grape, but it also regulates how much water the plant gets. If a vine has too much water, the result is a fat, characterless grape.

This is a perfect metaphor for we humans as well. Trials and challenges rise before us like mountains. But mountains can raise us or bury us depending on which side of the mountain we choose to stand. Ultimately it’s a matter of choice. Some people choose to be whiners, some choose to be winners. Some choose to be victims, some choose to be victors.

We can spend our days bemoaning our hurts or we can grow from them. Ultimately the choice is ours. We can be victims of circumstance or masters of our own fate, but make no mistake, we cannot be both.

History and life teach us that more times than not we do not succeed in spite of our challenges and difficulties but, rather, precisely because of them.

Even a grape knows that.

- Richard Paul Evans

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Control Your Thoughts, Lessen Your Pain

"Build this day on a foundation of pleasant thoughts. Never fret at any imperfections that you Fear may impede your progress. Remind yourself, as often as necessary, that you are a creature of God and have the power to achieve any dream by lifting up your thoughts. You can fly when you decide that you can. Never consider yourself defeated again. Let the vision in your heart be in your life’s blueprint. Smile!" - Og Mandino

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The 1 Thing Happy People Do Every Day

Happy people practice gratitude every day.

While this may seem simple enough, our minds tend to focus on what we're missing out on instead of being grateful for everything we already have. Our generation has it even harder because we are living in a social world where we are constantly connected. It's easy to feel like you don't have enough when everyone on your social feed appears to be doing cooler things than you.

Good news: there are ways to practice gratitude each day to live your best life. Here's how.

1. Meditate

Starting your day with five minutes of silence has been proven to change your brain chemistry, making you more resilient against life's hardships. However, there are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to meditation. I used to think you had to think about absolutely nothing (which is pretty much impossible) during your practice. But really, meditation is all about being present and not focusing on what you're going to have for dinner or that you forgot to pick up something at the grocery store. The purpose of meditation is to take time for yourself to set an intention for your day and be grateful in that moment.

2. Create a gratitude journal

A gratitude journal is different than a regular journal because it makes you focus on only the good stuff rather than venting about your worries or writing down everything that went wrong in the day. Each day, you should write down at least three things that you're grateful for. By doing this, you can actually rewire your brain to be happier. It's kind of like the "camera effect." When you have a camera, you're constantly looking for interesting things to capture. Instead of hating the graffiti, you might shift your way of thinking and try to make it aesthetically pleasing in your frame. That's how the gratitude journal works for your disposition. Instead of focusing on pessimistic thoughts, you're going about your day looking for positive things to add to your gratitude journal.

3. Surround yourself with positive people

Reflect on your mood and outlook, after you spend time with certain friends. Do you feel inspired and connected or do you feel drained and dissatisfied? If it's the latter, you might want to reevaluate your friendship. We only get one life to live, so why waste any time surrounding yourself with negative influences? It's not easy to cut certain people from your life, but it's even worse to feel unhappy because of the people you're surrounded by. By positioning yourself around inspirational and positive people, you're setting yourself up for a more sunny outlook and successful future.

4. Talk back to your negativity

You know that inner dialogue that says you're not smart enough, pretty enough, or cool enough? While those nagging thoughts are completely normal, the trick is to talk back to them with positive affirmations so they don't get in the way of your happiness. It may seem silly at first, but it works, trust me. If I catch my mind going down a dark rabbit hole, I counter it with logic and positivity. It's OK to have bad thoughts, but what's more important is how you react to them and to make sure they don't take over your life.

5. Focus more on your community and others than yourself

When you're down in the dumps, it's easy to get lost in "me, me, me," which can lead to self-pity and depression. However, when you take yourself out of the equation, you'll start to feel happier because you're helping other people. Try volunteering, writing cards to loved ones, or cooking dinner for a friend in need.

If you practice gratitude each day, you'll slowly start to see a positive change in your disposition and overall outlook on life. It will take discipline and self-control, but really, aren't things you work hardest for worth it in the end?

by Stephanie Wong

The Surprising Benefit Of Going Through Hard Times

Psychologists studying post-traumatic growth find that many people come to thrive in the aftermath of adversity.
This excerpt is from the new book Wired to Create: Unravelling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind, by psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman and HuffPost Senior Writer Carolyn Gregoire.

One of Frida Kahlo’s most famous self-portraits depicts her in a hospital bed naked and bleeding, connected by a web of red veins to floating objects that include a snail, a flower, bones, and a fetus. Henry Ford Hospital, the 1932 surrealist painting, is a powerful artistic rendering of Kahlo’s second miscarriage.

Kahlo wrote in her diaries that the painting “carries with it the message of pain.” The painter was known for channeling the experience of multiple miscarriages, childhood polio, and a number of other misfortunes into her iconic self-portraits, and a real understanding of her work requires some knowledge of the suffering that motivated it.

The phenomenon of art born from adversity can be seen not only in the lives of famous creators, but also in the lab. In the past 20 years, psychologists have begun studying post-traumatic growth, which has now been observed in more than 300 scientific studies.

The term post-traumatic growth was coined in the 1990s by psychologists Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun to describe instances of individuals who experienced profound transformation as they coped with various types of trauma and challenging life circumstances. Up to 70 percent of trauma survivors report some positive psychological growth, research has found.

Growth after trauma can take a number of different forms, including a greater appreciation for life, the identification of new possibilities for one’s life, more satisfying interpersonal relationships, a richer spiritual life and a connection to something greater than oneself, and a sense of personal strength. A battle with cancer, for instance, can result in a renewed gratitude for one’s family, while a near-death experience could be a catalyst for connecting with a more spiritual side of life. Psychologists have found that experiences of trauma also commonly lead to increased empathy and altruism, and a motivation to act for the benefit of others.

Life After Trauma
So how is it that out of suffering we can come to not only return to our baseline state but to deeply improve our lives? And why are some people crushed by trauma, while others thrive? Tedeschi and Calhoun explain that post-traumatic growth, in whatever form it takes, can be “an experience of improvement that is for some persons deeply profound.”

The two University of North Carolina researchers created the most accepted model of post-traumatic growth to date, which holds that people naturally develop and rely on a set of beliefs and assumptions that they’ve formed about the world, and in order for growth to occur after a trauma, the traumatic event must deeply challenge those beliefs. By Tedeschi and Calhoun’s account, the way that trauma shatters our worldviews, beliefs, and identities is like an earthquake—even our most foundational structures of thought and belief crumble to pieces from the magnitude of the impact. We are shaken, almost literally, from our ordinary perception, and left to rebuild ourselves and our worlds. The more we are shaken, the more we must let go of our former selves and assumptions, and begin again from the ground up.

“A psychologically seismic event can severely shake, threaten, or reduce to rubble many of the schematic structures that have guided understanding, decision making, and meaningfulness,” they write.

The physical rebuilding of a city that takes place after an earthquake can be likened to the cognitive processing and restructuring that an individual experiences in the wake of a trauma. Once the most foundational structures of the self have been shaken, we are in a position to pursue new—and perhaps creative—opportunities.

The “rebuilding” process looks something like this: After a traumatic event, such as a serious illness or loss of a loved one, individuals intensely process the event—they’re constantly thinking about what happened, and usually with strong emotional reactions.

It’s important to note that sadness, grief, anger, and anxiety, of course, are common responses to trauma, and growth generally occurs alongside these challenging emotions—not in place of them. The process of growth can be seen as a way to adapt to extremely adverse circumstances and to gain an understanding of both the trauma and its negative psychological impact.

Rebuilding can be an incredibly challenging process. The work of growth requires detaching from and releasing deep-seated goals, identities, and assumptions, while also building up new goals, schemas, and meanings. It can be grueling, excruciating, and exhausting. But it can open the door to a new life. The trauma survivor begins to see herself as a thriver and revises her self-definition to accommodate her new strength and wisdom. She may reconstruct herself in a way that feels more authentic and true to her inner self and to her own unique path in life.

Creative Growth
Out of loss, there can be creative gain. Of course, it's important to note that trauma is neither necessary nor sufficient for creativity. Experiences of trauma in any form are tragic and psychologically devastating, no matter what type of creative growth occurs in their aftermath. These experiences can just as easily lead to long-term loss as gain. Indeed, loss and gain, suffering and growth, often co‑occur.

Because adverse events force us to reexamine our beliefs and priorities, they can help us break out of habitual ways of thinking and thereby boost creativity, explains Marie Forgeard, a psychologist at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School, who has done extensive research into post-traumatic growth and creativity.

“We’re forced to reconsider things we took for granted, and we’re forced to think about new things,” says Forgeard. “Adverse events can be so powerful that they force us to think about questions we never would have thought of otherwise.”

Creativity can even become a sort of coping mechanism after a difficult experience. Some people might find that the experience of adversity forces them to question their basic assumptions about the world and therefore to think more creatively. Others might find that they have a new (or renewed) motivation to spend time engaged in creative activities. And others who already had a strong interest in creative work may turn to creativity as the main way of rebuilding their lives.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Self-Respect Starts With Loving and Forgiving Others

Perhaps the greatest mistake we make, which causes a loss of self-respect, is making the opinions of others more important than our own opinion of ourselves. Self-respect means just what it says—it originates form the self. This self originated in a universal field of intention that intended you here – from the infinite formless state to a being of molecules and physical substance. If you fail to respect yourself, you’re showing contempt for the process of Creation.

You’ll find no shortage of opinions directed at you. If you allow them to undermine your self-respect, you’re seeking the respect of others over your own, and you’re abdicating yourself. Then you’re attempting to reconnect to the field of intention with low-energy attitudes of judgment, hostility, and anxiety. You’ll cycle into low-energy vibrations that will simply force you to attract more and more of these lower energies into your life. Remember, it’s high energy that nullifies and converts lower energy. Light eradicates darkness; love dissolves hate. If you’ve allowed any of those lower negative thoughts and opinions directed your way to become the basis of your self-portrait, you’re asking the universal mind to do the same. Why? Because at the high frequencies, the universal Source of intention is pure creativeness, love, kindness, beauty, and abundance. Self-respect attracts the higher energy. Lack of self-respect attracts the lower. It knows no other way.

The negative view points of others represent their low-energy ego working on you. Very simple, if you’re judging anyone, you aren’t loving them at that moment. The judgements coming your way, likewise, are unloving but have nothing to do with your self-respect. Their judgements (and yours as well) distance you from your Source, and therefore away from your power of intention. As my friend and colleague Gerald Jampolsky observed, “When I am able to resist the temptation to judge others, I can see them as teachers of forgiveness in my life, reminding me that I can only have peace of mind when I forgive rather than judge.”

This is how you return to the self in self-respect. Rather than judging those who judge you, thereby lowering your self-respect, you send them a silent blessing of forgiveness and imagine them doing the same toward you. You’re connecting to intention and guaranteeing that you’ll always respect the divinity that you are. You’ve cleared the path to be able to enjoy the great power that is yours in the field of intention.

-Wayne W. Dyer

Monday, January 4, 2016

Things That I Have Learned by Maya Angelou

When the great American poet, the late Maya Angelou, reflected on her life and things she had learned she said, "I've learned that...

  1. no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.
  2. you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
  3. regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life.
  4. making a 'living' is not the same thing as 'making a life.'
  5. life sometimes gives you a second chance.
  6. you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back.
  7. whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.
  8. even when I have pains, I don't have to be one.
  9. every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.
  10. I still have a lot to learn.
  11. people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Friday, January 1, 2016

How to Stop Dwelling on the Negative

How do we stop dwelling on these awful moments when we cease to be productive?

1. Admit to yourself that you’re thinking too much.

After all, you can’t solve a problem if you don’t first recognize that you have one. Do you immediately feel affected by criticism? Are you sensitive to unsolicited advice from well-meaning friends or family members? Are you in the habit of ruminating on past failures? Acknowledging your emotions is the first step toward taking control of them.

2. Distract yourself.

If you find yourself ruminating needlessly over a bad breakup, ask friends to go for an afternoon coffee. Immerse yourself in a hobby. Taking up activities such as sports, art, or crafting is a great way to take your mind off something negative.

The reason I got lost in the woods in the first place was that I was trying to clear my head after an argument with my mother. After the short excursion, I felt better equipped to deal with the situation.

3. Think about possible solutions to your problem.

Remember the doctor Robin Williams met in Patch Adams? He told Patch to “look past the problem." Often, we as humans like to blow things out of proportion, just to make things sensational. Try to be as objective as possible — even if you still feel awful about the particular memory.

For example, if you're recovering from the loss of a loved one, consider activities that make you happy and keep you busy, to help yourself avoid wallowing.

4. Be gentle with yourself.

It sounds simple enough, but you’d be surprised how much more critical you are toward yourself than toward others. Confidence is key to success, but often a small setback is enough to destroy whatever self-worth you may have had. Again, try not to give too much credence to one or two perceived "failures." Believe in your ability to succeed again. Keep moving forward.

5. Know that it will take time.

It's not about forgetting the bad things that have happened. It’s all about learning to accept that there are things we can't control and focusing on the things we do control. It won't always hurt. You will make it through. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and you'll get there.