Serenity. Woman floating in a canoe.

Serenity

Throughout my life, I’ve experienced many extremes.

I’ve been blissfully happy and deeply despondent. I’ve felt supremely confident and utterly worthless. I’ve buzzed with energy and been completely listless.

Extremes are part of life and are something we all experience. Obviously, the positive extremes are preferable, right? We want to feel good, not bad.

What about another option? Instead of chasing elusive and fleeting feelings, we can aspire to serenity—a more consistent positive feeling that, with practice, is not fleeting, but something that we can feel all the time.

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Growth. Woman with awareness and serenity.

Growth

Each of us grows as a person, but how much we grow depends on how much we want to grow.

We start as children involved only in our own little worlds—emotionally invested in everything we face. As we get older and mature, we gain some insight into the world around us and some perspective on how we fit into the universe.

Some people never get past that childhood phase. They can’t see past their own immediate emotional responses, don’t have the insight to see the big picture, and never find the serenity that comes with personal growth and enhanced awareness.

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Struggle. Mother finding peace with chaos all around her.

Struggle

Do you ever have weeks where life seems to be a constant struggle? There are headaches followed by more headaches, with a healthy dose of nothing’s right? Even when you work through all the hassle, there’s a whopping big pile of hassle waiting for you the next week. No one said life was going to be easy, but when it seems like nothing is easy, a shot of perspective can be the medicine you need.

People are, for the most part, rational beings. We wouldn’t willingly make a trade without getting something desirable in return. We undergo stress for different reasons, but in the back of our minds, what we are going through is worth the struggle. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t.

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Show Off. Young Man Pointing to himself.

Show Off

Do you feel the need to make sure people are aware of your successes and triumphs?

I mean, what good is success if no one knows about it, right? Seems simple enough, but being a braggart or a show-off is never very attractive in a person. It really depends on the way we reveal what we’ve accomplished.

From a very young age, people have an innate urge to show off. From doing something to impress our parents (“Dad, look at me!”), to trying to impress a coach or a teacher, to trying to win over that first crush, exhibiting ourselves to impress others is very much part of the human condition.

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Food. Man having snack and drinking beer late night in front of the refrigerator.

Food

Man, I am starving!

You hear people with relatively affluent suburban lives saying this. Although it might mean that the person is actually hungry, it’s more likely that they just want some food, either because they’re looking forward to a meal, they’re thinking about a certain food, or they’re just bored.

Unfortunately, there are lots of people who are actually starving in the world.

Whenever my son says this, or something like this, I remind him that he’s not actually starving and ask him if he actually feels hungry. I ask him to pay attention to the signals his mind and body are sending him and to identify them intentionally. I also tell him that it’s OK to periodically be hungry. Maintaining a hungry feeling can be healthy—it can train us to not immediately start wolfing down food when we have that feeling. We’re not meant to be full all the time.

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