Woman with eyes closed, exuding happiness and peace.

Happiness and Peace—How to Maintain a Life of Serenity

We all have people in our lives who seemingly know how to push our buttons—they are somehow able to get under our skin and threaten our peace and happiness. There may also be circumstances that invariably make us tense or irritable. Rather than denying that this is happening or resigning ourselves to these unpleasant feelings, we can use a variety of tools and perspectives to help us identify these conditions and address them. We can also make ourselves less susceptible to being impacted by these conditions. We can build a foundation of serenity through practices that stabilize our emotional reactions and make us aware of how we interact with the world. We can also be proactive about the elements in our lives to which we consistently have negative reactions. Finally, we can look inside ourselves and try to truly understand why we react the way we do and use that knowledge to mitigate our negative emotions.

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Letting go. Father and son sunset.

Holding Close While Letting Go

It can be hard to let things run their natural course, especially when it means letting go of something very precious to you.

It is a very natural thing to move in and out of people’s lives. For workmates, teammates, or even friends, this can happen regularly, and while these transitions can be difficult, there are other circumstances that are way more intense. There are those in your life that are truly a part of you—literally and figuratively. You see a big part of them in you and you in them. You’ve given enough of yourself to them and to their growth and evolution that their lives and yours literally merge. At least for a time.

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Rock. Band at a fun crowded club.

To Rock or Not to Rock—Being Open to Potential Adventures

How do you approach big life decisions?

Some of these may seem overwhelming and carry repercussions that can have impacts for years to come. You may obsess and worry over them and struggle mightily to come up with the “correct” choice. But ultimately, there is no incorrect choice, as everything you experience becomes part of your story and gives you insights into your journey and your path. Something positive comes from every decision you make—you just have to be open to it and allow it to become part of your experience. Regrets can also be part of a decision, but they are also part of the experience and can result in positive outcomes.

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Lying. Good and bad lies.

My Rocky Relationship with Honesty

I am a liar.

I’ve been one my whole life. It hasn’t gotten me into trouble or hurt anyone, but I feel like it has hurt me. I probably don’t lie any more than most, but I’m uncomfortable with the amount of lying I do. Some of my lying is “good lying,” and some is bad. Some of my lying is adiaphorous (or so I tell myself), but I don’t think any lying sits squarely on the fence. Even if it isn’t harmful to others, it makes me more comfortable with lying. I mainly lie for convenience; it’s rarely malevolent. That doesn’t mean it’s not bad; it just means it’s not significantly harmful—or so I tell myself. Lots of my lies are lies of omission, and most of those lies are good lies; they spare someone’s feelings or make a process move along more quickly. They are instances when telling the truth would serve no useful purpose or would do harm. But some instances involve keeping secrets related to an inconvenient or embarrassing truth. Most of these secrets are harmless—or so I tell myself.

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Id, ego, superego

The Id, the Ego, and the Superego Walk into a Bar

Like most people, my life is made up of a variety of competing forces. They often seem like a mishmash of drives, doubts, and compulsions, and it can be hard to get a handle on them and how much each is controlling my day-to-day thoughts and activities, my path in life, and my worldview. I try to be very intentional about my vision for my life, goals, and aspirations—I have a document that I update regularly describing all of these—but I still struggle with who’s in the driver’s seat. I do feel like I have a good, strong moral compass that helps me develop my evolving worldview and guides my interactions with people, but I can also be selfish. I try very hard to be healthy and spiritual, but many of my thoughts and actions are driven by compulsions related to basic urges. Sometimes I prioritize working toward an ideal, while at other times, I tell myself that I should just have fun. Life is, of course, a balance, and I try not to sweat these competing forces too much, but when I stay aware of these forces, it can actually be fun to watch them fight with each other.

I’ve been thinking about these forces in terms of Freud’s id, ego, and superego[1] (more here), which has been fun and instructive.

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