Personal ledger. Two volunteers give each other a hug.

Your Impact on the World—Creating a Positive Personal Ledger

What’s your overall impression when you think about your impact on the world?

Most people would probably say that it’s positive but that they could probably do more. But many are not really aware of the range of impacts they have and are not intentional about understanding or targeting their impacts. Many impacts you have on the world, both positive and negative, are subtle. You might give someone a genuine smile and change the course of their day. You might unknowingly use a product with palm oil, not realizing that it’s leading to the extinction of species. When we think of our impacts, many of us only think about those impacts about which we’ve made choices, like giving money to a charity, when the bulk of our impacts do not rise to

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Thought stream. Woman escaping her thought stream and living in the moment.

You’re not Who You Think You Are—Escaping the Thought Stream

We all have narrators for our lives.

A regular stream of thoughts is something very natural and normal that most of us have. If managed intentionally, it can be a welcome and insightful companion. However, if given free rein, it can be a ceaseless heckler, a neurotic worrier, or a naysaying Eeyore (or any combination of the above). It is important to remember that our streams of thoughts are not reality, nor do they even reflect reality. The only reality is our moment-to-moment existence and experience. Our thought streams are also not who we are. We aren’t characters in our stories who have to follow the plots, we are the creators of the stories.

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Recharge. Young woman enjoying a fresh air on the mountain during summer morning.

Recharge versus Retreat—Making Time Alone Meaningful

We all need time to ourselves—time to rest, recharge, and reflect.

But it’s important to distinguish between finding meaningful alone time (see “Alone”) and escaping from our connections or retreating from our engagements. All of us, even the most extroverted, have times when we don’t have any more energy for people. We also need time to ourselves to gain perspective on what is happening in our lives and to plan for our futures. This time is not only important for our mental health, it’s also a critical aspect of a meaningful and fulfilling life. We have to have time to ourselves to truly get in touch with what we’re after and where we’re going, to maintain our connection with who we are at our cores, and tounderstand our values and passions. BUT we have to make sure we have a healthy balance and aren’t avoiding people or problems when we need to engage.

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Desire. Woman facing the complexity of her desire.

Desire—Understanding our Idealized Lives

Desire is a funny thing.

It can be the driver for our greatest accomplishments, and it can be the cause of our personal downfalls. It can be a source of strength and courage, and it can be a significant weakness. Many of us will think first of romantic desire, but desire can be many things—some healthy and some not so healthy. Desire is like an amped-up version of “want.” When we desire something, it is more ingrained in ourselves, in our identities.

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Blank Slate. From nothing, a new image of a butterfly emerges.

Assume Nothing—The Benefits of a Blank Slate

All of us see and use patterns.

It’s how we get through life. If we didn’t assume people would behave a certain way or that the world wouldfollow physical laws or that our cars would work the same way, we would never get through the day. We would spend all our time experimenting—figuring out how things worked and how they responded to our interaction.

On the other hand, our assumptions about how things work can impede our ability to discover new things. Our need to see patterns can lead to a habit of seeing them where they may not exist. Patterns can be very helpful, but we should avoid assuming a pattern or some other condition if the potential for learning something new or different exists. Things aren’t always as they seem.

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