What’s your opporutnity today?

“To hell with circumstance I create opportunities” – Bruce Lee

If we want to live a better life and free ourselves from the grips of our illness, sickness, or problems, we have to stop making excuses and blaming our circumstances. We must create the opportunity to live a better life.

Do you ever ask yourself why aren’t I living the life I want?  Why aren’t I living up to my capabilities?

People are often stuck because they continually make excuses, or blame their circumstances for their problems.  Now this certainly isn’t a revolutionary observation.  In fact, it’s made by many people who excel in their lives.  Many of contemporary cultures leading coaches, spiritual leaders and motivational self-improvement gurus.

Generally these leaders have been cautious to address the mental health/illness community.  Understandably this community is sensitive to certain language. People use their illness as a crutch or defense mechanism when confronted with sincere challenges.

I’m embracing the opportunity to call on people living with mental illness and mental health challenges to stop making excuses, or blaming their situation for their struggles. Now I need to clearly define the difference between making excuses and acknowledging or identifying that we might live with a certain “diagnosis”

It’s important to understand how difficult it can be for people to accept their situation. Often denial is so strong.  It can blind us from observing ourselves and our behaviour objectively.

Here are two good examples.

“I live with schizophrenia, anxiety and depression.  Although, at times these things can make my life challenging, I don’t use them as excuses for why I can’t enjoy my life. When my symptoms affect my quality of life, I acknowledge them. I then take the necessary steps to care for myself to reduce the impact of my symptoms and get back to a more balanced place”.


“I live with OCD and bi-polar.  I can’t ever get a job because people don’t understand what it’s like for me.  Our government doesn’t support people with mental illness so there’s no point in me trying anyway. Things will be better once my family understands me and employers realize what I need”.

I believe our perceptions are everything. How we see ourselves and the world around us profoundly affects our quality of life.  Those of us living with mental health/illness challenges are especially vulnerable to the way our minds shape our perceptions.  There are countless examples of people who’ve overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to recovering from mental heath problems or illnesses and who thrive in their daily life.  We should look up to them and learn from them.

We can believe in ourselves, we too can improve our lives, regardless of our “diagnosis”.  The negative itty bitty shitty committee that lives in all our heads isn’t welcome inside our hearts.  It will always be knocking, louder for some than others. The beautiful thing is, if we want it bad enough, we can be the captain of the ship, we can lead our minds, bodies, and souls into health, wellness and peace.

Are you forgiving yourself? Others?


Who aren’t you forgiving?

Does your boss, a co-worker do things that drive you crazy? Is your family life a consistent cause of negative feelings?  Do you blame and bad-mouth yourself for little mistakes? How do you respond to being cutoff in traffic? Set aside life changing events you’re not capable of forgiving and focus on small occurrences where you’re stuck in a cycle of irritation, blame and accusation.  How do you respond to your perceived slights on a daily basis?

Our personal life, family, friendships and workplaces can be riddled with self-righteous and stubborn resentment, justified by all kinds of crap.  I challenge you to reflect on a person, situation or experience you’ve had where you’re holding onto justified anger and resentment.  Chose one you’re somewhat flexible with and start there.  Can you forgive? Why are you holding onto the anger?  What purpose does it serve?

Generally we’re holding onto these things because we’re hurt.  We hold on because of fear.  It’s amazing what happens when we let go and forgive.  Forgiveness can be challenging for people, so start small.  It’s like a muscle, it takes acknowledgement practice and consistent effort.

I’m not suggesting we must forgive the actions of others, but we can forgive the actor.  People do all kinds of stupid and ridiculous things that aren’t forgivable. As humans we’re well aware we make mistakes and might even want to take certain actions back. Our global community benefits when we’re capable of forgiving circumstance, other people and ourselves.

Think about the endless victim/perpetrator cycles taking place today and the unimaginable suffering caused by them. What’s holding us back from forgiveness?  Take a deep breath and imagine a world where forgiveness is common practice.

Ask yourself. Who, what, am i not forgiving? What is holding me back from forgiving them?

A few quotes on forgiveness

“True forgiveness is not an action after the fact, it is an attitude with which you enter each moment”

David Ridge

“Let us forgive each other – only then will we live in peace”

Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

“To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness”

Robert Muller

Inspiring stories of forgiveness

Nelson Mandellahttp://www.ibtimes.co.uk/nelson-mandela-forgiveness-south-africa-apartheid-528153

Everyday people – http://list25.com/25-unbelievable-inspiring-acts-forgiveness/

Starts With Me

How are you?

The ‘how are you?’ – conundrum.

“How are you today?  (Wait… did I just say that? Now’s a bad time to chat. Neither of us are interested in having a conversation)  See you later.”

Does this narrative sound familiar?

What I meant to say was, “hello”

Today the question “how are you?” is a meaningless greeting that reflects the sad state of our immature communication skills.

What happened to saying “hello?” Asking “how are you?” should imply you will look a co-worker, friend or acquaintance in the eyes and listen to them.  If you don’t care how they’re doing, or don’t have the time to listen, don’t say “how are you?” say hello.

If you don’t care how the person you’re greeting is doing, you should. For one, as humans, our well-being is collective. Two, learning to care for others is a fundamental human trait which seems to be absent from our day-to-day lives. Three, improving our individual relationships is core to resolving the challenges we face as a  global community.

We’re more concerned with our toys, social media stats and other meaningless status symbols we’ve come to worship.  There are more reasons why you should care about co-workers, friends and acquaintances but I’d need to write an essay to cover them.

Over the next week, bring awareness to how often you ask someone “how are you?” Bring attention to your thoughts and feelings at the time. Figure out if you’re interested or open to a response.  When the time is right ask someone how they’re doing sincerely. Listen and be there for them, enjoy experiencing this fundamental human interaction.  As you get more comfortable in these moments, your ability to be present and compassionate will blossom and you’ll empower others to communicate their emotions.

When we show each other compassion, sincerity and honesty, amazing things happen. These are essential to our mental health and well-being. Practice conscious and sincere communication in your life and we’ll enjoy the benefits together.

Starts With Me