5 Steps to Start Finding Inner Peace

If you haven’t started yet, I’m here to let you know that it’s time to start finding inner peace.

Once upon a time, two people—your parents—decided to have a baby. You had no choice in the matter and your personal life journey began without the perfect manual. If you’re human, then there are days when you might feel knocked off course and just plain uneasy because [insert any of the many triggers here]. In those times, what steps can you take to start finding inner peace?

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Focus on Productivity, Not Perfection

Have you ever wondered how someone with more responsibilities or demands is able to achieve more than you? No, they are not perfect, alien, or some breed of human meets robot. They are not special. It’s possible that they have just learned how to focus on productivity and efficiency.

Let’s get one thing clear before we move any further: A happy life does not mean a “perfect” life. So, be careful not to strive for a one-sided picture of someone else’s life as your measure of success.

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My First Trip to Las Vegas: Is It Worth the Hype?

After returning from my first trip to Las Vegas, I was tasked with answering the usual “how was it” post-vacation question. People who have never been to Las Vegas were secretly curious about whether I would divulge my “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” stories. Just how wild and crazy did this lady right here get in Vegas? They didn’t have to come right out and say it, but I know they secretly wanted to know.

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Why It Is So Hard to Focus in Life

Do you want to know why it’s so hard to focus on your own life and stay on your own zen wavelength? Well, I re-discovered the answer today. Wait for it…

It’s because everyone around you is so DARN LOUD!

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Make Time to Explore In Life

“Beep. Beep!” The church van pulls up and one of my favorite drivers is on duty today. When I see him, I know we are in for an adventure. It is time to explore.

There was a different driver assigned every week and each offered unique excitement—from leaving a church member for taking too long to come out of their house to knocking off car side mirrors along narrow streets. Looking back, this particular driver taught me a lot more about life than I ever realized.

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the moving-away party for my favorite driver and his wife. I knew in advance there was going to be a tribute portion of the event, so I prepared a few words to share with this amazing couple. Do you know how hard it is to capture everything you want to say about people you’ve known your entire life in TWO MINUTES!? Yes, we only had two minutes because the organizers did not want the event to last all night. And, to no one’s surprise, everyone spoke way over two minutes. Hilarious!

You are never lost.

Whenever he drove, I was a mixture of lost, confused, and very intrigued. He often took confusing turns and back roads to avoid lights and traffic. Yet, somehow we always managed to reach the next destination. With every turn, I was convinced we were lost and going to make it to church late. It was as if he had branded a map of the city in his head. No matter how lost I thought we were, we somehow magically appeared at our next destination. Whenever I felt we had taken too many turns to possibly be heading in the right direction, I whispered to someone to ask if we were lost. But, in the end, we were never lost.

At some point, I finally asked him how he knew all the backroads. His answer: he learned them by joy-riding through the city and intentionally traveling down streets to see where they lead. He would get lost on purpose and soon find a familiar street. And, it’s important to note that this was before GPS and cellphone maps. He got lost on purpose to explore and discover new routes.

As I got older, I recognized the link between his success, faith, and fearlessness—three essential factors of life. He is never afraid to explore the unknown in life because he has confidence that he is never truly lost. The only thing to gain is new lessons and new ways to arrive at a destination. He believes that there is always a way out and a way to get back home.

Reflection: What is out there waiting to be explored in your life? Why are you so afraid to go off script?

Personal story

I can recall the many times I was driving somewhere and wondered “what’s down that street.” When I have been willing to explore in life, I’ve discovered beautiful parks, neighborhoods, stores, restaurants, lakes, and shortcuts just by willingly getting lost.

Most recently, getting lost helped me discover something beautiful and peaceful near my new apartment—a beach.

I arrived extremely early for the apartment showing and parked across from the building. Slightly bored and curious, I decided to see what the neighborhood had to offer. To my surprise, I stumbled across a private beach, the ocean, and other wonderful places to explore. Honestly, the apartment alone didn’t sell me, but the neighborhood, water, views, and places to explore did. It taught me to trust God, and life, and to never be afraid to explore because you never know what is around the corner, literally.

Now, if I can apply this to my goals and dreams, I wonder what I will find.

The lesson:

  • Be willing to get lost in life. Take time to explore life because you never know what successes, shortcuts, and opportunities you will find around the corner.

  • Don’t panic if you find yourself on an unknown street. The worst that can happen is you retrace your steps, ask for directions, or keep going until you see something familiar.

Reflection: What do you need to make time to explore in your life?

20 Questions for When You Feel Frustrated With Life

Feeling frustrated with life bullseye

Do you ever feel frustrated with life and/or yourself because you think you should be doing more in life? Do you feel like life keeps throwing up obstacles at you when you feel like you’re getting a few steps ahead?  

When the reality of life, work, responsibilities, stress, and our personal goals collide, they can often compete for our time and attention. If we’re not careful, these can cause frustration and throw us into a cycle of negative talk, and trigger poor physical, emotional, and mental habits. 

Two months ago I wrote a blog post about having faith in yourself. It was a great reminder that we have to rethink the mental and emotional limits we place on ourselves. Yes, it is true that sometimes the world, circumstances, and people can feel like they are working against us; but, it is also true that the person staring right back at you in the mirror has control over how they respond to that frustration.

Perspective and peace are crucial in life, especially when you feel frustrated. 

It is so easy to fall into the trap of focusing so much on the big picture that we overlook our past and present victories. Yes, life is frustrating right now, but this too can and shall pass. Sometimes we need to slow down, count the blessings, weigh the good versus the bad, and appreciate the accomplishments and victories written in our life’s story.

When I start feeling like life is not moving at my pace, or like things are not going as planned, I try to take some time to evaluate whether my frustrations are warranted, healthy, logical, or accurate. Listen, this little brain of ours is POWERFUL! If we let it, it will control our mood and energy—for better or for worse.

When things are starting to feel overly frustrating, I try to process using some of these questions: 

  1. What is within my locus of control that I can change right now?
  2. Where can I spend more energy on the things I can control?
  3. Am I extending enough grace to myself in this situation?
  4. How am I contributing to this ongoing frustration?
  5. Is this situation more frustrating for me because there are things I still need to heal within myself? 
  6. Do I feel frustrated because I am out of balance in important areas of my life?
  7. Has this frustration the result of comparing myself to other people’s timelines and successes?
  8. What can I learn from this moment in life? How can I readjust, reset, and rest?
  9. Do I just need to adjust my attitude?
  10. Have I contribute to this frustration by not monitoring my time and energy? 
  11. Am I taking enough time to take care of my mental health or just push forward in life?
  12. Who and what do I need to take a break from in order to regroup? 
  13. Am I in misalignment with my deepest and truest self? 
  14. Do I have a vision for my life or am I just winging it? Could this be adding to my frustration?
  15. Do I need to learn to be more flexible?
  16. Have I been getting enough sleep and taking care of my body? (Believe it or not, this does influence your mood!) 
  17. Am I taking responsibility for my life or waiting to blame my problems on other people?
  18. Am I projecting my frustration in this situation and avoiding addressing the root concern(s) in my life?
  19. How willing am I to take different actions to have a different outcome? Do I secretly enjoy the misery? 
  20. To what extent am I living in a box that is too small for me? Is it possible that this frustration is really a catalyst to grow?

Before or after processing these questions, I encourage you to spend some time also recording a few things that you are grateful for. Gratitude is the best thing you can do to start changing your attitude and mindset. It really is all that it’s hyped up to be. 

If we are willing to learn from our mistakes and successes in life, then we are growing and learning! The faster we learn the lessons, the less time we will waste repeating the same test(s). Life can change overnight (for the better or worse), so there is no point in staying stuck in a frustrated mindset.

We will inevitably get frustrated, but we can overcome it, move forward, and find greater balance than before. Remember, you are only stuck if you keep repeating the same mistakes. Life is full of frustrations, but we don’t have to let them become the overarching theme of our lives.

Let’s take back our control, power, and just take life one deep breath at a time. 

Judging People in the Media: Right or Wrong?

It is very easy to forget that other people are also human.

I remember when I was a little teenybopper I subconsciously found slight enjoyment in commenting on other people’s life mistakes/decisions. In a weird way it made me feel more normal, more confident, and more hopeful that — despite not having everything I wanted — I might possibly stand on a higher moral ground than those I chose to judge comment on. I felt the pressure to be perfect, so it was kind of refreshing to know that other people were not. Hooray, someone’s mistakes were bigger than mine!

Back then I would not have considered myself a gossiper, but I certainly had an opinion if asked. In my mind, my opinions were not judgements but rather concerns cloaked in curiosity. Me be mean-spirited and judgmental? No. Never. However oddly enough, the most enjoyable conversations were those about the mistakes of people that acted like they were better than others. “See, that’s why people should never think they are better because life will show us that we are not.” This I would proclaim while thinking myself better than they were. Oh, the irony.

One of the easiest targets I felt entitled to comment on were celebrities and entertainers. There were many I loved, but there were others I thought to be raunchy, slutty, desperate, fake, corny, untalented, ugly, weird, crazy, and/or conceited!  Most of my negativity boiled down to the fact that I didn’t feel they deserved the fame, money, or success they had. I was jealous disturbed that me, my family, my friends, and others in society had to “work so hard to succeed while these celebrities prance around from red carpet to red carpet like the hardest task of life is deciding what makeup, suit, dress, or date they are going to bring that night.” Elite athletes were not exempt from my judgments opinions either: I would say, “you are talented, but you are lame!” Of course I had no idea about the challenges and sacrifices, both physical and emotional, they had to make in order to get to where they were. Yet, I still felt the God-like right to determine what someone else deserved! But you know what? It is very easy to sit back and comment on another person’s life — celebrity, athlete, famous or not —  when we don’t really have to live their life or walk in their shoes.

It might sound like I sat around all day “hating” on other people (which is not really the case), but I do recall the many moments when I projected my insecurities and anxieties onto the easy targets of the world: the famous ones, privileged ones, and the entertainers. They signed up for it, right? It comes with the territory, right? It is the price of fame, right? Well, at least that’s what I told myself in order to justify my judgments opinions. I needed to find something negative in order to explain why my life was less glamorous so I told myself I had more class, purpose, and humility than “those people.” Honestly, deep inside me I really just wished I was rich too! (I still secretly do).

As my teenage years passed, the celebrity issues I read about were no longer so distant from the realities of regular people. Suddenly I knew/knew of people going through similar experiences: divorces, rumors, cheating, drug and alcohol abuse, hard partying, suicidal episodes, and/or new boyfriends/girlfriends every other week. I started to rethink my heavily misguided judgements about entertainers and got the sense that anything could happen to anyone, famous or not. I started asking myself: Would I be able to endure the pressure? How do I know I wouldn’t do that under the right conditions? Would I really be able to react differently than they do? Would my attitude be different if I went through that? How would I feel if I was in their shoes? Would I be happier? Could I handle the constant spotlight of judgment and expectations of perfection? I wasn’t always sure in each circumstance so I changed my opinionated tuned: “Judge less and never think you are above life’s challenges; just hope, pray, and do whatever you can so the challenges allotted for you won’t be the end of you.”

Now in early adulthood, I feel empathy for celebrities, entertainers, and leaders. Social media has not only changed how the world interacts, but it is also impacting how we view each other. When I started college, MySpace was huge, Facebook was only open to college students with a valid school email address, and there was no Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat. Before social media, we had to wait to hear about a celebrity scandal in the local newspaper, on the nightly news, or we just had to speculate about the truth plastered across the front page of the tabloids. Now, everything is front page news on social media and everyone has a comment or judgment that can be posted openly or anonymously for anyone to read at any time. The sad news is that it’s highly likely that one of our friends, family members, or even one of us will be in a position of entertainment, leadership, or fame one day. We/They will have to endure the same public ridicule that we put entertainers and leaders through everyday. There are some people out there that warrant the opinions we have toward them, but those people are far less prevalent than those that don’t deserve it.

When I look at the tabloids, blogs, and entertainment news columns I see stories that could happen to any normal person:

  • Rumored marital problems: If you have ever been in a relationship, then you know that there are ups and downs! Imagine paparazzi and news outlets, proclaiming your relationship or marriage to be over while you’re fighting hard to make it work. Imagine your relationship is totally wonderful, yet every grocery isle claims it’s doomed because your spouse is cheating with someone else in their industry.
  • Breakups and makeups: Now we know that the dating scene can range from very pleasant to pure madness. Can you imagine every dating move you made being stalked and reported by the media? From your one-night stands, to your short-lived relationship, to your quick transition to the next lover, or to the moments you thought you were exclusive but he/she is out dating someone else. Can you imagine finding all that out on social media? Can you imagine being judged for the relationship decisions you willingly chose to make as a grown man/woman by people who probably have less than perfect relationships themselves?
  • Family Drama: Need I say more? Can you really imagine all your family drama being front page news for all your friends, employers, and haters to revel in? How embarrassing!
  • Body Image: Can you imagine feeling like a fashion icon only to later find out that half the world thinks you look hideous? Or even worse, can you imagine those times when you don’t look your best and have to go out in front of the world? Exactly!
  • Hidden Struggles: You may not be an alcoholic or drug abuser, but I am sure if you think hard enough you will be able to identify one person you know that struggles with something similar. But, what’s your vice? How do you mask and hide your insecurities, anxiety, and/or fears? What are the self-defeating behaviors and thoughts you have? How would you feel about having your lowest day chronicled and logged as the most talked about news of the week?
  • Mental Illness or Health Issues: Sometimes we deal with mental and health issues that we don’t necessarily wear on our sleeves. Some are impossible to hide and others we try our hardest to keep private. Can you imagine people taking your private moments for mass entertainment or having cameras and photographers outside every surgery and doctor’s appointment as they dig and hack for your medical history simply for entertainment purposes?

I don’t know why I think about these things but I do. I think about how some celebrities, prominent figures, entertainers, and leaders in our society must feel at night when they lay down to sleep knowing that there are a lot of people out there in the world that would rather tear them down than see them thrive. Too easily we forget that people are human and deserve to be treated like they have a heart. Let’s try harder to support the entertainers we like but NOT pull down those we don’t enjoy as much. Instead of trashing them from our lofty moral seat, let’s just say, “I am not a fan” and keep it moving. The truth is our bashing, hating, disgust, and attacks say more about our internal issues than they do about theirs.

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Photo Credit: Seth Capitulo

Logic vs. Emotion

Logic and feelings feel like two siblings that are constantly fighting and bickering with one another. I remember fighting one of my older brothers when I was a little girl. When he would poke fun at me or make shady comments, I would cry, and then sometimes we would fight. I would try to rub his face deep into the carpet, but ultimately his strength and age would always overpower me! Darn, you brother.

One time he pissed me off so much that I swore. “F*%&$ you!,” I boldly proclaimed. My emotions clearly overruled the logic — that I would get in huge trouble — and I said it again: “F*%&$ you!” This time, however, no brawl ensued. He simply said, “Oh, so you want to swear now?” Calmly, he walked out of the room in what I thought was defeat and I proudly proceeded to watch my afternoon cartoons. Next thing I know the phone rang for me, twice. First, it was my mother calling from work, and then it was the pastor’s wife! That little sneak left the room to call them… not to cry as I initially thought!  Let’s just say I got in BIG trouble when my mother got home, cried many tears that night, and the next Sunday had to go up and ask Jesus to come into my heart for the 5th time in my young life!

The annoying feeling of bickering with a sibling is what the tension between logic and emotion feels like — to me at least. Life happens, questions arise, doubt raises its ugly little head, and we have to determine which we are going to rely on to move forward — logic or emotions.

Hurdles are an excellent example of logic versus emotions. I remember having to do the hurdles during track and field tryouts in high school. It was interesting, to say the least. You are running full speed ahead, see the hurdle right in front of you, and need to make a decision to jump over it. An experienced hurdler knows that proper execution relies very little on emotion but rather on three factors: (1) accurately counting the steps in between hurdles, (2) powering over the hurdle through the use of speed and momentum, and (3) proper running form in between and over hurdles.

Ready, set, go: 1-2-3-4-5 OVER…1-2-3 OVER…1-2-3 OVER…1-2-3 OVER… The hurdles race requires the runner to focus on their steps and technique rather than on trying to anticipate jumping over the hurdle. I am sure that with more training I would have become a very good hurdler. However, during the first auditions in practice, I stutter-stepped before each hurdle and jumped over it each one with flailed arms and wild legs. Let’s just say that the hurdles never became my main event; I was better at sticking to sprinting without the hurdles being there to slow me down.

Sometimes my logic dominates my emotions, and in other cases, my emotions overrule my logic. In general, I cannot say one way is better than the other without considering the situation. In some cases, logic should overrule emotions and in other instances, we should be more emotional. The key to life is knowing which one should dominate in any given situation and then being able to listen to the appropriate one.

Logic versus emotions may play out in the following ways:

  • Sometimes you may have to trust your experience and logic, and at other times you may have to let your experience go and step out on the limb.
  • Other times, you may have to overcome your initial emotional responses and rely on systematic logic.
  • In other cases, you may have to completely throw away logic and pray that your gut emotional response is worth trusting.
  • From time to time, you might have to rely on both logic and emotions in order to navigate a situation.
  • And in certain cases, trusting any ounce of either logic or emotions will seem impossible — in which case I personally rely on the spiritual.

Logic and emotions like to fight and bicker within us. Unlike my fights with my brother, it is not always clear which side will win. I always lost, but in real life logic and emotions don’t always win or lose. Thankfully, as I got older the fighting with my brother decreased and we became siblings that have each other’s back when necessary. This is how we need to train our emotions/logic to interact– more like partners in crime than like warring children. A great partnership between both logic and emotions can make us unstoppable even in the face of the tallest hurdles.

Logic versus emotions will never be a black-and-white dilemma. One thing is for sure: Whether the situation requires more logic or more emotion, it is important to not slow down as we approach the hurdles of life. Momentum, momentum, momentum! Trusting our ability to generate enough power to make it over the hurdle(s) is just as important as trusting that we will be able to decide whether to use our emotions or our logic in any given situation. In reality, we need a little of both: enough logic to conclude that our experience and technique, if well executed, with not fail us and enough emotion to feel and use the power we possess to overcome any hurdle that lies ahead of us.

Photo Credit: G. Jereczek

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