What Positive Thinking REALLY is, and Why it Totally Works

Recently my friend posted a blog by a spiritual teacher that sort of debunked the idea of positive thinking. While I agreed with some of what he said, which I won't go into, I thought it was a shame to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Positive thinking is one of the most useful tools we have as human beings, and it's often very misunderstood, so I wanted to go deeply into what it actually means.

When people talk about positive thinking, what they're really talking about, whether they know it or not, is the law of attraction. It's what The Secret is based on, although The Secret presented a somewhat limited understanding of it. The law of attraction basically says that The Universe will provide you with experiences that match your desires, beliefs, and emotional vibration. So, put simplistically, when you're happy and joyful, good things will come to you, and when you're sad and miserable, bad things will come to you. This is a huge reason people like to use positive thinking (as opposed to negative or sloppy thinking), but also the big reason people hate on positive thinking. Because of course, this isn't always the case. But that doesn't mean the law of attraction's not working, it just means that the process is layered. Stay with me. 

Law of attraction is always at work, which means it's been collecting your desires for your entire life. Desires could be things like having a nice car or a big house or lots of money or a great relationship, but it could also be things like ease and play and fun. The thing that blocks those desires from becoming realities, is us. We do it unconsciously usually. But there are things we can do to let the manifestation of our desires into our reality. This is where positive thinking comes in.

When we tell stories to ourselves that feel bad, it blocks good things from coming. If we have a belief that people are mean, for example, we'll find ourselves meeting mean people, not necessarily because that's all we meet, but because that's what we're focusing on due to our belief. If we have a belief that our life is hard or that nothing ever works out for us, we'll have that experience over and over as long as we keep telling ourselves that story. If we can switch the story we tell ourselves, we can switch our experience, and oftentimes it's super easy. Just find a thought that feels a little bit better. Maybe it's, "some people are mean, but I actually know some nice people too." And then, "well yeah Susie is nice, she made cookies for the office. And Bob lent me his pen. Those are nice things." Just find one incident that's the questions your limiting story, and you're golden. And once you find one, you'll probably be able to find more, if you keep looking. Or maybe instead of saying "my life is really hard" you can say "my life has been hard in the past, but I see that life doesn't seem so hard for some people, and I believe I can be one of those people." Or if that's not believable enough, you can say "my life has been really hard, but some things have come easily" or even "my life has been really hard, but I'm open to a new experience." Find a positive twist. It doesn't negate the hardship, but it changes your experience of it, allowing for a different experience to follow. 

The Secret talked a lot about the future. Vision boards, lists of things we desire, a $100,000 check pasted to the ceiling. And knowing your desires is great. It helps in making decisions. It helps to keep you focused on what you want. But what's even more helpful is acknowledging and appreciating the good things you have right now. Because sometimes you don't actually want the stuff you think you want. And sometimes you get something amazing that you never knew you wanted at all! For example, I studied abroad in Prague in my junior year of college, and it was the most fun I've ever had. But I didn't ever want to go to Prague. That would never have been on my vision board. I didn't even want to go abroad! I was living in New York and liked it just fine. But most of my friends were studying abroad, and I wasn't about to stay in New York by myself, so I went. It was the path of least resistance. And it was unforgettable, in the best possible way. So trust that The Universe knows what you want, and spend your time appreciating what you have.

When you can acknowledge the good things in your life, even if it's so small, even if you don't really want it and it's not ideal, it'll change your life. For example, maybe you don't have a lot of friends, and would like more. You can sit there and whine about not having friends, you can hope for friends, you can make vision boards with people laughing and eating and having a great time, you can complain about not having friends, you can blame the city you live in, you can blame your job, you can blame your age. But you can also find a sliver a hope and focus all your attention on it. For example, maybe you have a co-worker you kind of like, who says funny things occasionally. Appreciate that person as if they were sent down from the heavens especially for you. Be grateful that you have them in your life, even if literally everyone else sucks, even if you don't love hanging out with them, even if you don't really consider them a "friend". When you do that, guaranteed, you will either meet more people you like, or you'll start to like more people you already know. 

Are you starting to see how it works? The more you focus positively, the more you tell yourself positive stories and stories of hope and stories of gratitude, the better your life will become. Because The Universe wants to please you. The Universe wants you to have the happiest life ever. 

But what if you can't? What if it's so bad or what if you can't seem to get your mind off the bad stuff? One thing you can do is start communicating to the Universe and asking for guidance. For example, you could say, "Please show me how to get over this!" or you can ask "How can I feel happier or more abundant or more appreciative?" It's more effective to ask questions in a positive way such as "How can I feel happier?" rather than "How can I feel less sad?" But if you can't connect to "feeling happier" go with "feeling less sad." It's important to feel connected to the stories you tell and the questions you ask, because otherwise you'll be one of those annoying people who practices "positive thinking" but everyone can tell you're faking it. But really, just do your best! And forget what everyone else thinks.

The other thing you can do if you really can't get your mind off of something, or if something has been an unwelcome pattern for a long time, is seek the assistance of someone who can help you release your trauma. Oftentimes when we are really stuck, it's because there's trauma stuck in our bodies from a previous time that was really difficult to deal with, that we didn't know how to process at the time. When we let go of our trauma, we are cleared up to move forward in a way that makes us feel free and alive. You can also clear some trauma on your own by soothing the part of you that experienced the hurt, disappointment, abuse, betrayal, or whatever it was, and consciously telling that part of you a different story. But that's for another post.

So why does positive thinking work and why is the law of attraction even a thing? Alan Watts describes it perfectly: "Every individual is a unique manifestation of the Whole, as every branch is a particular outreaching of the tree. To manifest individuality, every branch must have a sensitive connection with the tree, just as our independently moving and differentiated fingers must have a sensitive connection with the whole body. The point, which can hardly be repeated too often, is that differentiation is not separation. The head and the feet are different, but not separate, and though man is not connected to the universe by exactly the same physical relation as branch to tree or feet to head, he is nonetheless connected—and by physical relations of fascinating complexity."

Because we are all expressions of The Universe as a whole, the pieces are all working together based on what we are creating, and while we can create by action, we can also create by vibration, or energy. We call to us certain people, synchronicities, experiences, abundance, and also hardship, based on our vibration, or in other words, our emotional output and our belief system. And The Universe delivers because we are The Universe. We, in our physical bodies, are asking, and that greater part of us, The Universe, is answering. 

[And I want to just mention quickly that while the outer world does seem to change and bring us new experiences, it's really our perception of those experiences that dictates whether we have a good time or not. For example, two people could be sitting in the same traffic and while one person is cursing and angry and looking at his watch, the next person over could be singing and rocking out to his favorite song or thankfully receiving the extra time to have a conversation with his mom on the phone. While one person could be angry and fearful being let go from a job, another could look at it as an unexpected start to a new adventure or an opportunity to try something they've always wanted to try.]

So positive thinking and the law of attraction is nothing to be afraid of and it's also nothing to balk at. Positive thinking is a useful tool to consciously create the life you want, made possible by the law of attraction. You can experience it right here right now by focusing on something you really appreciate and then switching and focusing on something you hate. You'll probably quickly realize focusing on the thing you appreciate feels much better in your body. Take a negative story you've been telling yourself and add a little positive twist, even if it's just a slight one. Make it believable to yourself. If you can't make it believable, don't force it, just switch topics to something that does make you feel good. 

So that's the basics of it. And let me add quickly that your experiences are based on what you have attracted. You can't think positively for someone else. You can't blame others for how you feel. And you can't determine if positive thinking really works by trying to observe someone else doing it (though you can get an idea of it from someone who's having a great time using it!). You have to do it yourself. You can get inspired by others, but it's your game, played only by you and your universe. So have fun! 

You Make The Rules

Yesterday I was feeling super duper stressed. I get stressed a lot, especially on Mondays. I have a lot of projects going on right now, more than usual, which is a super great thing but also a very difficult thing for someone who isn't used to having a lot of projects. So yesterday I spent most of the day pacing around my apartment sighing really loudly until Morgan couldn't take it anymore and made me sit with him to piece apart the actual things I was stressed about. I wrote a list of over 10 things that were just bouncing around in my brain, some of which I needed to take action on and some of which I didn't, but they were all in there jumping and screaming for my attention.

As we were going through my list, determining which things I needed to take action on and what those actions were, I started feeling less stressed but still pretty overwhelmed. It started to seem silly how many things I had going. Why am I doing all of this stuff? I thought. I've gotten so caught up in the things I'm doing that I've forgotten why I'm doing them, and that makes the things I'm doing seem urgent, yet pointless. So I came up with a tool to help me get back on track.

I call it the INVENTORY OF GOALS and it's super simple, back to basics stuff, but something I'm realizing is very important to come back to over and over as I live my life. Here's how you do it:

Write out your goals leaving some space in between each one. There should only be like 5 things on this list, MAX. This is not a list of details, but rather a list of broad, overarching intentions that if you did or had all of these things you would feel happy. For example, my list was this:

Make Money
Be Part of a Community
Do Creative Projects
Be Healthy

These are my right now biggest goals. Some of these things are already true for me, but that doesn't matter. They're the things that are important to me, that I feel like do or will result in my overall happiness. 

Then, once you have your very short list with space in between each thing, go back and write a little bit more about what each one of those things means to you. In other words, WHY do you want these things? For example:

Make Money
I want a steady income, a big income, I don't want to feel worried about money, I want to feel abundant.


You could be more detailed here. Maybe "I want to be able to travel, I want to be able to buy a car, I want a bigger house." But it's important to get to the deep reason that you want it. For me right now it was I don't want to feel worried about money which, more positively put, is I want to feel abundant. So I knew that I wanted to make money because I didn't want that stress.

Be Part of a Community
Friends, laughter, fun, creativity, relaxation

Okay so you get it. Just a few things about what it is about your goal that is appealing to you.

Then, if you have a list of all the things you're doing that are stressing you out, check them against your list. Everything on my list of things to do fit into one of those four goals that I identified. It's helpful to know that because it gives each "to-do" new purpose. I could also see if maybe something on my to-do list didn't fit into any of my goals. And then I have to decide, is there another goal I forgot about that this would fit into? Or is it something I need to cross off my to-do list and never think of again? 

It can also be helpful, once you've identified all your goals and categorized your to-do list to decide which things are urgent. I know that I often feel very urgent about things that aren't actually on a time crunch, or that I can even put on the back burner for now if I don't have the time or energy for it at the moment.

Remember, this is YOUR life and YOU make the rules! There are a million ways to accomplish our goals, and everything we do is based on choices that we make, so it's important to know our purpose behind making certain choices, which requires knowing ourselves and what we want! 

Thanks for reading! This really helped me yesterday so I hope it helps you today or some day in the future!  
 

Soak the Cashews

I get a lot of ideas. I'm grateful for this, because I've gone through periods of time in my life when I got literally no ideas, ever, and that was terrible. But even though I get all these ideas that I feel super psyched about, going from idea to action feels like the equivalent of trudging through 4 ft of mud up a mountain while I'm wearing a backpack made of steel, filled with melting snowballs.

I don't know why it feels so difficult to make a move. I see people and read about people and watch people on TV making moves all the time. They wake up early, go to work, take care of their kids, cook dinner, workout, and still have time to write a book or start a business or travel to Greece or meditate twice a day. Meanwhile I'm in my bed or pacing around my apartment getting excited about making vegan mac n cheese, while simultaneously feeling agitated and anxious and unable to actually make it. 

My main excuse has been "but I have to soak the cashews for at least 3 hours." I've been wanting to make this mac n cheese for 4 days. I even went to Whole Foods to buy the nutritional yeast that will create the cheesy flavor. I want to make it, not only for myself, but because making vegan foods is literally so exciting to me that it makes me want to dance and I want to make cooking show YouTube videos about it. But first I need to practice my recipes. So I need to make the mac n cheese. But I have to soak the cashews, and that feels utterly impossible. 

It's things like soaking the cashews that stop me in my tracks, over and over and over again. With self-publishing my poetry book, it was trying to decide which ISBN option to choose. I sat on that question for at least 2 months and once I finally just decided to buy my own, I published in just a couple of weeks. With cleaning my apartment, it's usually just putting the clothes away, putting the dishes away, or taking the recycling outside. 

Inevitably every roadblock I encounter takes approximately 30 seconds to a minute to get through, once I start. There might be more steps that take a longer time after that, but the things that I'm dreading, the things that actually stop me, are so minuscule in terms of time and effort. Today I soaked the cashews. Do you know what it takes to soak cashews? One bowl, or in my case, tupperware container, a cup or two of cashews, and water. Not even a specific amount of water. Put cashews in a bowl, poor water on top. It's literally the easiest possible thing to do. 

But my kitchen was dirty, so I had to clean it first. Maybe that was it. Maybe it's the fact that it's new. I haven't spent much time soaking cashews in my life. I'm a creature of intense habitual tendencies. I hate new things, like really hate them. My dad's favorite story about me involves a new restaurant my family found and loved when I was probably twelve. They wanted to bring me to it, but I refused. I thought I wouldn't like it. I didn't want to try it. Under no circumstances would I go to this new restaurant. Except one day when it was my stepsister's birthday and she wanted to go there. So I had to go. And guess what? I LOVED IT. Obviously. It became my new favorite restaurant. I only ever wanted to go there. So this is my challenge. Or at least one of them. It might not be the whole cashew story, but I'm guessing it's at least part of it. Because now that I've soaked the cashews once, I feel that in the future, I could soak them again.

I don't know where I'm going with this. I don't know what the answer is, or how to get past this paralyzation that occurs at the prospect of taking tiny action steps. The only thing I can think to do is just to fucking do it. Just take the step, make the move. Because everything flows after that. But like I said, it often feels like trudging through 4 feet of mud up a mountain. So I don't know. But at least I know this about myself, so next time I can for say for sure "Ok. This thing I'm dreading/avoiding, just do it. It looks like a giant mountain, but it's really just a tiny pebble I have to step over." 

Anyway, here is the mac n cheese I made. It was crazy good.

I watch The Terminator for the first time

Warning: Contains all the spoilers.

What I think the movies is about: Arnold Schwarzenegger is The Terminator. The terminator is a machine that kills people. Or wait, that’s Transformers? He is almost defeated, but at the end of the movie, he gets out of there. But he also leaves a hint that he’ll be back when he says “I’ll be back.”

Ooh it’s a James Cameron film! I don’t know who that is.

Okay so they kind of give the entire movie away right at the beginning...

There’s a space craft….is this a space movie?  Oh no. A machine. I guess a space craft is a machine. Lasers! Smoke! Dead Skulls!

So I was right about the machine thing.

Boring credits. Very slow and repetitive. Not a good sign.

Ok first scene. Here we are at a digging site. There’s a tractor.  Something fishy is going on. More specifically, lightning enveloping the tractor. Driver does not seem too phased.

 

 

Arnold is naked and very chiseled. Also very young. He is walking to the edge of the parking structure (?) to look at the city.

 

A bunch of punks with cool hair are messing with a telescope like a bunch of badasses. They want to bully the giant naked man with giant muscles. I wonder who will win?
 

THEY HAVE KNIVES! THEY’RE GONNA RUMBLE!

Arnold pulls out one of the punks’ hearts, obviously. Other guy takes off his jacket to try to defend himself? Not sure the reasoning behind that.

 

More lightnning. Everyone seems kind of like “ah, it’s too bright” but no one seems *worried*. The lightening produces another naked man. Not as buff as Arnold.

Morgan just walked in and said “This movie’s so good.” So I feel hopeful, yet also strangely skeptical.

“What day is it?” “Thursday” “WHAT YEAR!?” Classic time travel line. Now second lightning guy is running from the cops, putting on clothes. Not sure what’s happening but if I had to guess I’d say he’s chasing Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character to try to capture him and bring him back (aka forward) to his time period. Am I right? Am I right?

Ooh a girl! She’s so beautiful! She’s riding a little scooter! I want one! That’s awesome. She locks it up with a bike lock but it doesn’t seem too secure…And she tells a giant statue to guard it for her…which also doesn’t seem secure, but shows how quirky she is.

HER NAME IS SARAH LIKE ME!!!!!

Arnold breaks a car window and starts the car with his fingers? (‘cause he’s a machine)

Sarah works at a diner and makes working at a restaurant seem stressful. Kid puts a ball of ice cream in her dress pocket! Lololololol

So much is happening in this movie I don’t think I can write about everything. I think Arnold just killed the gun shop clerk but I can’t be sure. He will just destroy everything in his way, including tiny toy trucks.

He is going to kill every Sarah Connor in the city.

Maybe Sarah is the mom of that younger lightning guy in the future and Arnold is….their enemy? Maybe she turned Arnold into a machine and he hates her now.

Back to the space ship scene. It’s a war. A laser war. This is like Star Wars if Star Wars took place on Earth? JK Never seen Star Wars.

The lasers are pretty and remind me of a music festival. Except that they pulverize anything they come into contact with. Music is very suspenseful.

Ok back to present reality, it was all just a dream. Or memory. Or whatever.

Sarah is super cute and innocent which is proven by her Flintstones T-shirt. Omg it's a nightgown.

The detectives are on the case!

Sarah has an iguana as a pet. Strategic choice? Or random quirk?

Uh oh. Sarah Connor #2 DONE & DEAD

Sarah goes into a night club and asks if they "have a phone"? Not a thing. 

Sarah’s roommate’s regularly-sized boyfriend just said to Arnold Schwarzenegger “Don’t make me bust you up man.” All the guys in this movie seem very confident about their strength and fighting ability.

Arnold kills Sarah’s roommate and then, whoops, Sarah calls and leaves a voicemail on out loud voicemail machine (see picture below) (google says it's called an "answering machine") accidentally telling Arnold Schwarzenegger exactly where she is. 

Arnold found Sarah but the second lightning guy found Arnold!! Slow Motion Warfare!!!!Everyone in the club dies. Just kidding, no one is hurt and they all run out in time. Hey, it’s the 80s!

“Come with me if you want to live.” This is also an iconic movie line! I didn’t know it was from this movie!

Car chase scene!

I feel like this movie is a much more intense version of Back to the Future.

Oh he IS a machine that’s built to kill people! (Officially).  I don’t even need to watch these movies!

“I’m not stupid. I know they can’t make things like that yet” –Sarah Connor

“Not Yet. But in about 40 years” – Lightening Man.

First of all, 40 years is not a lot at all.

1984 + 40 = 2024 so we’re getting close guys! Only 8 years to go. Maybe this is like a Trump Dystopia? Luckily they also invented time travel, so there’s hope. But let’s be real, this Lightning guy doesn’t even have a smart phone and he’s not saying anything about the Internet.

Ok so Sarah Connor’s son is the only one who can fight the terminators. That’s why she has to die.

Car chase #2

Oh he’s from 2027 so we have like 10-11 years to go. *Note: in the beginning it says 2029, so all the dates are off.

Lightning man is trying to explain himself and he just keeps saying words that I have no idea what they mean.

OMG gross I do not want to see Arnold Schwarzenegger half man/half machine do surgery on his own eyeball with an exacto knife. NO THANK YOU. He likes how he looks without an eyeball and also with those iconic sunglasses. He’s kind of like a grumpier version (if possible) of 7 of 9.

“I’LL BE BACK” He said it! He said it! Not at ALL what I was expecting!! 

This man machine is costing the city a lot of money.

Fight scene!

The Terminator is very aptly named. He terminates eeeeeeeeeverything.

Are Sarah and Lightening Guy gonna hook up? Is Lightning Guy in love with Sarah’s son? What’s the relationship here?

OMG HE’S THE FATHER. EWWW WEIRD He went back in time to have sex with that girl to make the son to kill the terminators THIS IS WEIRD. I do not like it.

Ok Sarah and Lightning Boy are in a hotel room together talking about their feelings. They are for sure gonna bone like, so soon.

YEP Knew it. They are making out to boring piano music.

Now they are full on doing it.

Terminator is on the move. Music is a mix between video game and banging on the electric piano keyboard.

Car chase #3

Lightning man is dead maybe? Arnold looking more like a borg man every second.

Everything is on fire.

Arnold is still alive, but barely. No one tries to save him. He dies, tragically, and will not be back.

Lightning man is alive somehow?? His name is Kyle, which is a fact I let slip before. I wonder if they thought that was a “futuristic” name in 1984.

Also, the terminator is actually back, and will always be back. He is no longer man/machine, but just machine. He appears to have a limp.

The love birds hide in a room with lots of machines. Terminator has trouble breaking down what appears to be an aluminum door. Kyle turns all the machines on to distract Terminator, who loves machines. Plan did not work. He finds them easily.

Kyle blows Terminator up!!!!! He really won’t be back now!!! Or will he?

Kyle is officially dead.

TERMINATOR IS ALIVE!!!!!!! HE WILL ALWAYS BE BACK! DO NOT LET HIS DISMEMBERED PARTS FOOL YOU!!!!

“You’re terminated, fucker.” Why isn’t this the iconic line from the movie?

The Terminator is crushed with heavy thing and lightening. His red eyes go out, meaning he is now terminated for real. Maybe. Honestly I don’t trust anyone or anything anymore.

Okay. Weird final scene with this little boy saying "please buy my photo of you or my dad will beat me." 

Turns out it was actually a love story this whole time. THE END. 

 

 

I watch Fight Club for the first time

WARNING: Contains all the spoilers.

Scary music. I am scared. What am I watching? Is this a science fiction movie about space? Why are the credits so aggressive? Looks like a Borg Cube. No wait, looks like the inside of a body. Cells? Blood cells? Is this movie about cancer?

Tyler Durdon. That name sounds familiar. Is that Brad Pitt? Is it Pit or Pitt?

Guy in chair is having an existential crisis. It comes down to girls, of course. Oh wait, no, a man? 

Shoot, I already have to pee.

Two guys are hugging. Ok now he’s talking about something else. Pick a story, and stick to it, guy!

More existential crisis. Copy of a copy of a copy.

The monotonous tone of the beginning of this movie is very different than the aggressive credits, but aggressive in its own way.

Oh he’s going to all the support groups. That’s pretty funny. Ooh, donuts.

Bellatrix Lestrange!!!!!!!!!!! 

I feel like I missed some stuff at the beginning.

I like that he calls Bellatrix a “tourist.” Is that a real term from support groups?

Oh no he’s gonna have sex with that dying girl!

I don’t like this inner cave stuff. That penguin really freaked me out. 

Oh maybe he’s not gonna have sex with that girl. He’s gonna have sex with Bellatrix/Marla! Maybe. Maybe not. Someone is going to have sex in this movie though, for sure. 

I’m officially intrigued, not because of the sex. Or maybe because of the sex.

This movie is artsy, I like it.

BRAD PIT(TTTTTTTTTT)!!!!!!!!! Looking super cool in those tinted glasses and spiky hair.

Is he real? Is this gonna be like the sixth sense all over again? He’s not real! He sells soap! No one real dresses like that!

I keep missing stuff because I get distracted on Facebook.

Oh no, his house burned down. But luckily Marla Singer’s number remained perfectly in tact. 

I’m hungry.

Ok main character is hanging out with Tyler Durdon. Still don’t know main character’s name, probably missed it ‘cause I keep forgetting to pay attention.

I feel a Fight Club coming on.

“The things you own end up owning you” so true!

They drank 3 pitchers of beer?!?!!? That is a lot.

I want the characters to stop talking to me. I can’t tell if I like this movie or not.

Now they’re fighting in front of the restaurant. I can’t relate. I think they just want to feel something? I have no idea.

Tyler lives in a haunted house. Knew he wasn’t real. This is a ghost movie. I feel like I’m having a kind of bad dream, but it’s like, interesting enough that I don’t want to wake up yet.

The main character (whose name I still don’t know)’s monotone narration gives me a stomach ache.

Should I start fighting?

Am I having a spiritual awakening?

Is this what ayahuasca feels like?

LOUD BAR

1st Rule of Fight Club, do not talk about fight club.

2nd Rule of Fight Club, DO NOT talk about fight club.

I keep looking for the metaphor. Fighting, fighting…what does it MEAN!?

Ok Self destruction vs. Self improvement….I’m starting to relate.

Woooahhh Bellatrix is in the house. She had sex with Tyler? Maybe main character? No one knows what happened.

Oh good, flashback to what happened.

OK I took a lunch break. Back to the movie.

They are passing toxic waste in bags over a fence. Or maybe it’s blood. Or maybe it’s old juice. Need to pay better attention.

Tyler Durdon is a crazy person. He’s giving Main Character a chemical burn. I think he thinks he’s a spiritual teacher. Or he IS a spiritual teacher. Or he’s a psychopath. Or he’s a ghost, which was my original assessment. Omg he’s definitely a ghost! He’s saying God hates Main Character. Which he probably thinks because God rejected HIM when he DIED and tried to go to heaven so now he lives on earth and torments lonely people.

He’s either crazy or really wise. But I think crazy. I don’t like this.

Uh oh. Boss got a hold of Fight Club rules. Boss thinks it’s some child bullshit. Main Character is trying to scare him by sounding like a crazy murderer.

Marla is stealing food from old/dead people.

Bob is back! He has Krispee Kremes! Don’t know if that’s how you spell it.

OMG Bob is in fight club! FULL CIRCLE

OH SNAP TYLER DURDON IS TAKING ALL THE CREDIT FOR STARTING FIGHT CLUB (which is actually what I thought was the case before I started watching the movie, so the rumors are working). Oh, maybe Main Character doesn’t care about this.

Uh oh, some mafia people just came down to fight club because they’re using their space. JK he’s not mafia. Oh, he punched Tyler maybe he is mafia. He might work for a bank. Tyler wants him to join fight club. Oh snap, a gun just got pulled. Tyler is pushing his luck. Rich guys in suits with guns don’t give a F*CK. Tyler is laughing like a maniac, because he is one. He is gonna kill that guy. He wants to use the basement. Tyler won the fight I think. 

They are taking fight club to the streets. They have to fight with strangers. Main Character has chosen his boss! Main Character got fired. Then started bribing his boss. Now he is punching himself in the face. Maybe he’s fighting himself to frame his boss or MAYBE IT’S A GHOST. Just kidding guys, this is not a ghost movie! It’s a movie about crazy people. It worked! He framed his boss and the cops believed him. 

Can’t stop thinking about making banana bread.

Fight clubs are popping up all around the state and/or country. Tyler and MC are causing mayhem in their own city. Still don’t know if I like this movie or not. If I do like it, it also makes me wildly uncomfortable. If I don’t like it, it’s because it makes me wildly uncomfortable.

Tyler is terrorizing the owner of a small convenience store. I don’t know why. Main Character doesn’t know why either. Tyler says “tomorrow his breakfast will taste good” which makes sense. Shop owner runs away and Tyler says “Run Forrest, Run!” Classic.

Joy and happiness through contrasting terror?

Marla is still in the movie but no one knows why or what purpose she serves. She is the only girl. Maybe she and Tyler are the two sides of Main Character? The weak and strong? The crazy and crazy? Is this a bad dream? I want her to summon Lord Voldemort. Now I’m sad about Sirius Black.

There’s still almost an hour left in this movie.

Oh No, Tyler says Bob is too fat and that his tits are too big. NO ONE TALKS TO BOB LIKE THAT.

This kind of reminds me of the pickup artists in The Game.

Also drawing parallels with Trump, where Tyler is Trump, obviously. Only ‘cause it’s like, crazy narcissist in charge with lots of crazy sadistic followers. Also there’s an American flag hanging on the wall in the background.

Oh that crazy one with bleached hair is Jared Leto! Starting to remind me of A Clockwork Orange, though I haven’t seen that movie in a very long time.

Project Mayhem is the next big thing. Main Character is out of the loop. He and Tyler are having their first “fight”.

They got into a car crash! Kind of hope everyone dies so this movie will end. Of course, they do not die. Tyler saves his BFF, Main Character. He’s really really happy about the car crash.

The house has turned into a frat house. Tyler has disappeared. I still want to make banana bread.

Bob is dead. Bob is dead!! BOB IS DEAD!!!!! 

All the members of project Mayhem are drones. They can’t stop saying “His name is Robert Paulson” which they now think is the name of any Project Mayhem soldier who dies.

Someone mistakes Main Character for Tyler Durdon. Something tells me MAIN CHARACTER IS TYLER DURDON!!!!! BOOOOOMMMMM KNEW HE WASN’T REAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MARLA CALLS MAIN CHARACTER TYLER!!!!!!!

Tyler is back and wearing another cool outfit. Cool glasses and a fur coat. 

If Main Character is Tyler, then WHO WAS HE FIGHTING WITH IN THE FIRST SCENE!!!!!!!! AND ALL THE SCENES AFTER THAT!!! Was he fighting himself like he was in the office? Shit is getting super real/unreal.

Tyler is his alter ego? How does this stuff work? It’s like multiple personality disorder? Or what?

Marla is breaking up with MC/Tyler. Which sucks ‘cause he didn’t even get to have a relationship with her! She leaves on a bus.

He turns himself in to the cops. They probs think he’s cray.

Whoops the cops are members of fight club and they are gonna kill him for interfering with Project Mayhem. He’s gotten himself into a real bind!


He’s running! He keeps running! Which was foreshadowed by Tyler saying to that convenience shop owner “Run, Forrest, Run!”

Tyler Durdon keeps popping up even though we all know he’s not real. MC defuses a bomb. Video cameras show MC pointing a gun at nobody even though he thinks he’s pointing it at TD. He shoots! Nothing happens ‘cause he’s not real.

Tyler is the worst kind of imaginary friend possible. He beats you up but no one else can see him.

Main Character shot himself in the mouth!!! Tyler is still alive. Oh nvm, dead. But MC is still alive somehow. He is standing. Seems mostly fine, but can’t talk. All the crazy men come and bring Marla with them. 

MC tells them to let her go. Blah blah, happy ending.

MC says to Marla “Everything is going to be fine” and then the world around them blows up while “Where is my mind” by the Pixies plays. It's...beautiful? 

THE END.

The Happiness Compass

The first time I remember hearing the word “integrity” was at SuperCamp when I was 15. It was a camp dedicated to “making great kids greater” (real slogan) through teaching study skills, leadership skills, communication skills, the works. The camp was founded on what they called the 8 keys of excellence. Integrity was number one, not, I assume because it was the most important, but just because numbers go in order and something needed to be first.

It never made a huge impression on me, integrity. I favored some of the other keys, like “failure leads to success” and “speak with good purpose.” They defined integrity as when your values line up with your actions. We had a movement for it and everything - one hand values, one hand actions, bring them together and BAM: integrity.

I suppose I understood what it meant, but I didn’t really understand what it meant until literally this year, more than 10 years later. Because what are values anyway? How does one come to know his or her own values?

When you think of the word "values" you might think of something having to do with morality. The phrase do the right thing might come to mind. You might think loyalty could be a good example, or commitment. You might think success or religion or family or a hot bod. And you might think of some values that were instilled into you by your parents or siblings or friends or society. Our society values things like hard work and innovation, independence and money, marriage and family.

But here's the thing. Any of the values that you've acquired from these aforementioned places are probably not really yours. Some of them might be, yes. But I believe that values are deeply personal. In fact, I believe that they are to be found only by becoming intimately acquainted with the fabric of your being. Because your values are what make you, you. Literally. 

I have spent a lot of time in my life trying to figure out who I am. When I was a freshman in college I stopped wearing makeup and straightening my hair in an attempt to "find my soul." I don't know where or how I came up with the idea of finding my soul. And I don't know how I came up with the idea that leaving the house au natural would help me do it. But I guess I had a sense that I was hiding who I was in some way, or that I couldn't be sure of who I was if I was to continue living in accordance with what I perceived as societal norms about beauty. I didn't want to be beautiful. I wanted to be myself. Well, I did want to be beautiful. But I figured I would never know if I was really beautiful or not unless people saw me for who I really was.

And for some reason, those tiny actions worked. Or maybe it was simply the question, the wondering. Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? What is a soul? What am I doing here? What is going on right now? How did I get here? Who am I? I asked the question over and over to myself, consciously and unconsciously, continuously for 8 years. I experimented with Judaism. I experimented with drugs. I defined myself by my friends, by the city I lived in, by the job I had or didn't have, by the relationship I had or didn't have. I studied Spiritual Psychology. I tried to be an artist. I studied the Law of Attraction. I cried a lot. I tried to be a comedian. I tried to be a writer. I tried to stop eating sugar. I drove across the country and back, for goodness sake. Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? The search was incessant and seemingly without an end. But then something happened.

My amazingly gifted friend and life coach, Julie, asked me to do a simple exercise. She said, "Write down your values. These will act as your compass." I did it. Creativity, that's an easy one. Connection. Compassion. Sensuality. Ease. Nothing really happened. Then I lost whatever paper I wrote them down on and had to write them down again.  This time Beauty was included. Vitality. Simplicity. Joy. Magic. And at some point during the weeks I was working on this, it hit me. These values are my compass, just like Julie had said. These values are what guide me. And the reason they can guide me is because they are the makeup of who I am. Ah-ha! My makeup! But this time, the constitutional kind, not the kind I put on my face.

It was a total shift. Because before this, I had been trying to find out who I was by identifying my qualities. It might have gone something like this: 

Who am I? 
I am someone who is kind and compassionate. 
I am someone who is funny.
I am someone who is beautiful.
I am someone who is curious, creative, strong.  

Forever I have tried to define myself by my qualities. I was on a search for unwavering things about myself that I could latch onto and wear like buttons or tattoos or certificates for myself and everyone else to see and know. But the thing about qualities is that they’re like water. You can’t hold onto them. They change from moment to moment.

I’m usually nice, for example, but I’m not always nice. I can’t define myself as “nice” because that’s not who I am. And if I try to make it who I am I will always be disappointed in myself. I will always fall short. I will inevitably fall into people-pleasing. I will inevitably sometimes be mean. If I have to be nice to be me, and one day I’m not, then my identity is in question.

Maybe I’m funny. But I’m not always funny. In fact, I’m usually not funny. Because sometimes I’m sleeping. Sometimes I’m sitting quietly reading a book. In fact, I would say the percentage of time that I’m funny is maybe .01%. But people still call me funny. But that’s not who I am. And again, if I try to make it who I am, I will be disappointed and confused 99.99 percent of the time.

But values. Values are like big boulders. They’re solid and sturdy and generally unwavering. I could value kindness and it requires nothing of me, no question of my identity. I could value kindness and be mean to someone and all it would do is make me feel a little uncomfortable or guilty. It would probably make me question my choices. It would make me wonder if there was a nicer way to have handled the situation. But it wouldn’t leave me hating myself. It wouldn’t leave me questioning who I am. 

The difference between using qualities to define yourself and using values to define yourself is that qualities are things about you, while values are things you strive toward. As I said before, values are your compass. They dictate the choices you make. If you value money, you’ll make choices that you perceive will make or save you money. If you value commitment, you’ll make choices that will get you places on time, and you’ll organize your day around the commitments that you made. If you value humor you’ll probably find yourself with funny friends, watching funny movies, and finding the funny things in life. You might not be funny, or you might. If you value humor and you do things that make you serious, hang out with serious people, and focus on serious things, you’ll probably feel unhappy and dull, and this is what being out of integrity is.

When you’re living in integrity with your values, you feel alive and fulfilled and energized. When you live out of integrity, you feel icky and sluggish and sad, sometimes even guilty. But here’s the weird thing: we always act in accordance with some values. It’s how we make decisions. Our choices are always influenced by our values. This is why it’s so important to differentiate between our real, core values, and the values we’ve taken on from other people. If we know our values, we can always find happiness. If we don’t, we will always struggle to find who we are and how to live our best lives. 

Weekly Poems #2

1. THE INVITATION by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn't interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon...
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life's betrayals
or have become shriveled and closed
from fear or further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn't interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
"Yes."

It doesn't interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

 

2. HUG O'WAR by Shel Silverstein

I will not play tug o'war.
I'd rather play hug o'war.
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs,
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses,
And everyone grins,
And everyone cuddles,
And everyone wins.


3. TRIPPING OVER JOY by Hafez

What is the difference
Between your experience of Existence
And that of a saint?

The saint knows
That the spiritual path
Is a sublime chess game with God

And that the Beloved
Has just made such a Fantastic Move

That the saint is now continually
Tripping over Joy
And bursting out in Laughter
And saying, "I Surrender!"

Whereas, my dear,
I am afraid you still think
You have a thousand serious moves.


4. WILD GEESE by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. 
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting - 
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.


5. THE INFORMATION MAN by Buddy Wakefield

Weekly Poems #1

 

1. NIGHT LETTER TO THE READER by Billy Collins

I get up from the tangled bed and go outside,
a bird leaving its nest,
a snail taking a holiday from its shell,

but only to stand on the lawn,
an ordinary insomniac
amid the growth systems of garden and woods.

If I were younger, I might be thinking
about something I heard at a party,
about an unusual car,

or the press of a Saturday night,
but as it is, I am simply conscious,
an animal in pajamas,

sensing only the pale humidity
of the night and the slight zephyrs
that stir the tops of trees.

The dog has followed me out
and stands a little ahead,
her nose lifted as if she were inhaling

the tall white flowers,
visible tonight in the darkened garden,
and there was something else I wanted to tell you,

something about the warm orange light,
in the windows of the house,
but now I am wondering if you are even listening

and why I bother to tell you these things
that will never make a difference,
flecks of ash, tiny chips of ice.

But this is all I want to do--
tell you that up in the woods
a few night birds were calling,

the grass was cold and wet on my bare feet,
and that at one point, the moon,
looking like the top of Shakespeare's

famous forehead,
appeared, quite unexpectedly,
illuminating a band of moving clouds.

 

2. THINGS ARE SUCH by Rumi

Things are such, that someone lifting a cup,
or watching the rain, petting a dog,

or singing, just singing--could be doing as
much for this universe as anyone.

 

3. START CLOSE IN by David Whyte

Start close in,
don't take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step
you don't want to take.

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way of starting
the conversation.

Start with your own
question,
give up on other
people's questions,
don't let them
smother something
simple.

To find
another's voice,
follow
your own voice,
wait until
that voice
becomes a
private ear
listening
to another.

Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don't follow
someone else's
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don't mistake
that other
for your own.

Start close in,
don't take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step
you don't want to take.

 

4. THE JOURNEY by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried. 
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

 

5. THE TYPE by Sarah Kay

 

6. DETAIL OF THE WOODS by Richard Siken

I looked at all the trees and didn't know what to do.

A box made out of leaves.
What else was in the woods? A heart, closing. Nevertheless.

Everyone needs a place. It shouldn't be inside of someone else.
I kept my mind on the moon. Cold moon, long nights moon.

From the landscape: a sense of scale.
From the dead: a sense of scale.

I turned my back on the story. A sense of superiority.
Everything casts a shadow.

Your body told me in a dream it's never been afraid of anything.

 

5 Things You Might Not Have Thought To Do That Could Change Your Life, Especially If You've Tried Everything Else

If you’re a self-help junkie like me, you might be sick and tired of hearing about things that can make your life better. But you also might still be craving more (because you're a junkie). You’ve tried every workshop, read every book, done every diet, joined every religion, and maybe you’re happy or maybe you’re thinking, gosh there seems to still be something missing!

Well here are 5 things you might not have tried that could change your life, break up stagnation, or just be fun experiments.

1.     Sweat.

Sweating is one of my favorite favorite favorite things. I like it because it’s both healthy and easy. It’s my go-to, get-back-on-track activity. There are multiple ways to sweat. The sauna or steam room might be the most obvious. But if you have can afford it and live in the area, I highly recommend trying Shape House, an Urban Sweat Lodge. (Fine, I might be biased because my stepmom owns it, but it's the best, I swear!) There are currently 3 locations in Los Angeles, one in Santa Monica, one on Larchmont, and one in Pasadena.

Why sweat, you ask? Well for one, it releases tons of toxins. This is about the only fact I know about it. But it's a pretty good one, right? In my own personal experience, I just feel better when I sweat regularly. My skin feels softer. I feel lighter and less bloated. And maybe most importantly, it encourages me to do other healthy things like eating cleaner, exercising, and meditating. Plus, it gives me an excuse to watch every Star Trek episode that ever existed. Hold the phone, you say! You love Stark Trek? Me too! Or wait, no. You're just wondering how I get to watch Star Trek and sweat at the same time. Well it's easy! When you sweat at Shape House, you get to spend that hour watching TV, a movie, or listening to music. You can even watch Shakira videos on YouTube. Or any videos! It's just an example! See? Healthy things can be easy and fun! 

2.     Get your email inbox down to 0.

I’ve always been a fairly messy person. I grew up in a fairly messy house. My mom had open sliding drawers built for me in my closet so I could just throw my clothes onto them instead of throwing them onto the floor. De-cluttering has always been this kind of inexplicably never-ending process in my world. I read the Konmari book. I did everything she said and got rid of tons of stuff. And still, it seemed there was always more!

I don’t know why this works, and maybe it’s just coincidence, but one day I decided to get rid of my 700 unread emails and since that day I’ve been able to clean. I can walk through my bedroom without tripping on anything. My closets are (pretty) organized. I can sit on my couch without moving a pile of junk to one side. It’s not perfect. I still have more things than I need, and the apartment does get occasionally messy. But it’s closer to being consistently clutter-free than ever before, and I give credit to not seeing any numbers next to the word "inbox" in my Gmail account. 

Another thing about unread emails, for me anyway, is that it always makes me feel like I have something I need to do. At The University of Santa Monica, they call it “incomplete cycles of action.” To my "I need to always get everything done" brain, unread emails need reading, and that creates totally unnecessary stress, even if it's subtle or mild. I feel so much better, freer, and happier since deleting all my emails. Now all it takes is easy upkeep.

3.     Stop eating Meat

Ok Ok, I know. You’re either thinking “Yay! I already don’t eat meat!” or you’re thinking “Oh no, not this shit again. Next!” But just hear me out. It’s hard to stop eating meat all at once. It’s taken me almost 10 years to stop, and I still sometimes eat fish. So I’m not asking you to stop right now forever and be done with it.

My meatless journey began in my freshman year of college when I tried being vegan for 2 months. I got the idea because my RA was vegan and I had never met a vegan and I thought it would be a good challenge. And also, spoiler alert, I was passionately in love with said RA and was pretty sure this would make him fall in love with me, if not at least give us something to talk about.

And I was right! We did have something to talk about. But we never fell in love. And two months later I was drunk and eating Taco Bell in the hallway of the dorm and he laughed at me and said “Sarah, Taco Bell’s not vegan!” And that was the end of that. The veganism, not the crush. Also, Taco Bell can be vegan if you order your food fresco and with beans instead of meat. But I digress.

Over the next few years I was fully and unashamedly eating animal products, though I did have a lot of vegan and vegetarian friends. And then my first boyfriend was vegan. And I slowly cut out meat in an attempt not to gross him out all the time. And then I ate meat again. And then cut it out. Back and forth until finally it just stopped being good enough. Eventually, I’d only eat meat when someone really recommended it. “Try the burger, it’s phenomenal.” So I’d order it and eat it and every time, I’d think, well that was okay, but a veggie burger would have been just as good, if not better. And after a few instances of doing that, I stopped eating meat altogether. Except, like I said, for the occasional fish. But really, it’s rare!

Ok, so why do I tell you all of this? To say that look, I know it’s hard! And I don’t think anyone should force themselves to give up meat until/unless they are ready. You’ll inevitably give in and eat it again. Food is an extremely primal experience, and for some reason when asked to give up something we like, it can create anger and resentment, which seem like totally irrational and over-exaggerated emotions in response to the request, but it is what it is and I'm not here to fight that. But I’d say it’s worth it to at least investigate. There are a lot of good documentaries about meat production that will at least make you more aware of what you’re eating. Cowspiracy is my favorite. And there’s something that, while uncomfortable, is very freeing about enlightening yourself from ignorance in general. And I’d say that’s one of the biggest reasons I put this on the list. We make so many choices everyday based on pleasure and habit and when we take a look at what are choices actually cost us and the rest of our planet including its inhabitants, it can be extremely liberating because it actually gives you more control.

In my own personal experience, I feel a lot more connected to the planet since not eating meat. The more plants I eat, the more I can feel their nutrients absorbing into my body. I feel like I’m part of the earth instead of separate from it. And every time I choose not to eat an animal, I feel like I’m connecting with animals all over the world, showing compassion toward them, and choosing kindness, which makes me feel like I'm living with integrity. Animals are so awesome. I like them, and I feel that I'm showing them respect by not eating them. 

4.     Break gender expectations.

This one is mostly for the ladies, because I identify as one, and therefore have been subject to expectations related to females. I'm not as versed in the ones related to men, though we could sure use some male allies to support us in breaking ours! 

So here goes, ladies (and supportive men). Stop wearing makeup, stop wearing bras, and stop trying to get rid of all your body hair! 

I’ve spent an embarrassingly large amount of time worrying about body hair. When I was 12 or 13 I remember begging my mom to let me shave my legs. BEGGING, do you hear me? That seems insane to me now. Please let me change my natural physical appearance to fit today’s societal norms for beauty, please! Crazy, right? And I spent a lot of my high school and college years wondering how much hair to remove from my bikini area. Eventually I just started waxing all of it off because I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do and that’s what I was getting the most Groupons for. It hurt, but if I kept up with it regularly, it wasn’t so bad. (PS I was stupid, because a regular bikini wax is almost half the price of a Brazilian and not getting waxed at all is free).

But seriously, try to stop shaving your legs, armpits and bikini areas. I know it’s scary. It feels uncomfortable to go outside in shorts with all your leg hair just lazing about. It’s possibly even more uncomfortable to go out with hairy armpits. But let me tell you a story.

One day I was on a date with this guy I liked (it was Morgan). We were cuddled up on my couch reading love stories to each other from a book I’d just bought. I was wearing shorts and I remember thinking “Oh no, I haven’t shaved my legs! In weeks!” And then I thought, “Whatever. If he thinks I'm gross, we're not meant to be.” And guess what? Morgan became my boyfriend and a few months later he told me that he remembered that day. And his thought was not “Ew she’s gross.” His thought was “This girl is so chill.” SO CHILL! (I'm sure I'm paraphrasing, but no matter!) Not only did he not view my leg hair as a negative, he viewed it as a POSITIVE. Can you believe it? And there I was for years and years worrying about how much hair to wax off my vagina. But he didn’t care about my vagina hair or my leg hair or my armpit hair. In fact, we both currently agree that now whenever I shave my armpit hair it looks really weird. Because aesthetics have a lot to do with just what you're used to. You might be thinking, but Sarah! If I have hairy legs and armpits, people are going to constantly comment on it! Maybe they will. But in the 6 months to a year that I've stopped shaving, I've had exactly zero people say anything to me about it. So, Ladies, don't let body hair be another reason to shame, doubt, or hate yourself! 

And one of the best things about letting my body hair grow for awhile and getting used to it is that I now know what I like my body hair to look like, and don't really care about other people's opinions. I know that I like having armpit hair, but not too much or too long. So I shave about once every two or three months. And I like having leg hair, but sometimes I also like to have no leg hair, so I wax it off and wait a few months for it to grow back until I don’t want it anymore. And as for my hair down there? Well, there are some things a girl’s gotta keep secret! (But really, you can probs guess). 

I’m not going to talk about makeup because it’s the same thing. You’re beautiful without it. No one cares about you or loves you because of your makeup, I promise. And yet, makeup is fun and it’s pretty and I like it as much as the next person, but the point is to not be dependent on it, so if that means to stop wearing it for a month or two or a year until you don't feel ugly without it, then do it. 

Ok so what about bras? Eek! Not wearing a bra, especially if your boobs are fairly big, is really scary. Free hanging boobs are a rarity, and they honestly look kind of weird, but only because we’re not used to them! But really, not wearing a bra can feel a little too exposed. Sometimes I’m afraid that men will stare at me or say something rude and inappropriate. Are these real fears? I have no idea! Sometimes, probably, and this is one I still have to practice. I like to go out without a bra for short periods of time and then run home to safety. I’m trying to go out braless for longer periods of time and more often, but it takes getting used to. I don’t know why this is exactly. Something that can help is what I call a “reverse training bra.” This is a bra that doesn’t have an underwire or padding, so it still keeps the breasts contained while giving them a little bit more of a natural shape and feel. I never wear regular bras anymore, and in the recent past when I’ve tried them on, I think they feel weird and make my boobs look comically big. 

For more info on this topic, check out my friend Bridget’s video. She goes into a lot more detail as to why giving up wearing a bra can be so liberating and even healthy.

 

5.     Try Improvisational Comedy!

Ok you caught me, I saved the best for last. In my opinion, Improv comedy might be the single best and definitely the most fun self-help tool I’ve ever had the pleasure of trying. Here’s the thing about spiritually focused workshops and classes and books. They’re so great! But they can also be very limiting. You can easily get in your head when you read or do too much mental activity having to do with personal growth and spirituality. You run the risk of spiritual bypass, which is when you have so much spiritual lingo, concepts, etc in your brain that you can talk the talk but stop being able to walk the walk. Improv is great for at least 100 reasons, but here are 5:

1.     Every time you go into an improv scene, you have the opportunity to learn something about yourself. When I first started doing improv I learned as much or more about myself and healed more issues than I had in three years of therapy. Every time I had to do a scene I was faced with my own personal demons. “I’m gonna mess this up,” “I don’t want to make the wrong choice,” and “that person is stupid” are just a few of limiting judgments and thoughts my mind would inevitably start spouting. I realized I was thinking about improv and also the real world as this place where stuff was already created and existing and that I had to figure out how to fit in as a cog that wouldn't mess things up and keep them going perfectly. But that’s not how anything works! When you’re in an improv scene, nothing exists until you make it exist, so everyone is creating it together. You’re creating as much with your words as with your silence as with your action. And it’s the same for the real world. I guarantee you there is nothing that could have made me learn that faster than improv.

2.     You have to listen. Listening is something that is taught in many spiritual and personal growth practices. It’s one of the first things I was taught while earning a Masters in Spiritual Psychology from The University of Santa Monica. But when you do improv, you really have to listen. Or it doesn’t work. You have to listen so carefully that you don’t miss anything (you are creating your world after all, and listening might be your only way to know what’s been created!). You have to listen so carefully that you remember what you heard, and you have to listen so carefully that you can have an honest emotional reaction, which brings me to my third reason improv is so amazing.

3.     You have to react honestly. This is one of the hardest things that I’ve had to learn. A lot of times, I don’t even know what my honest reaction looks like, I’m so slow to have one. So many of us are conditioned to be nice, to be respectful, to follow social norms of behavior and conversation. But improv works best when you react honestly, when you say the first thing that comes into your brain, when you let yourself get emotional, and when you blow things out of proportion. We can't always be throwing tantrums in work meetings or telling everyone we love them so maybe this doesn’t fully translate to real life, but I think we’d all be much better off saying what’s honestly on our mind, or at least acknowledging it to ourselves, than cutting ourselves off short, which we often do before our true reaction even registers. 

4.     You have to stop judging. When I studied Spiritual Psychology, we talked about judgments every five minutes. Letting go of them, forgiving ourselves for having them. When you do improv, you have to learn not to judge or it doesn't work. Remember, in an improv scene, anything goes. The second you start judging your own or your partner’s choices, you halt everything. The show can’t go on if you squash it by thinking or saying someone's choice is stupid or wrong. And so it is with life.

5.     It’s fun and lighthearted. This is the thing that I find most missing from self-help books and seminars. Everything always tends to get so serious. I’ve worked SO hard to stop judging. I’ve worked SO hard to heal uncomfortable, sad, and even traumatizing things from my past. I’ve worked SO hard to try and love myself. And in the end, maybe it worked, maybe it didn’t, but I’m probably caught in what one of my Spiritual teachers, Michael Hayes, calls “The Great Path Of Becoming.” What is the great path of becoming? It’s basically when you get addicted to healing your shit. You’re always on the path to become better, more spiritual, more whatever, and you forget that you already are good and spiritual and whatever.

One of my best friends in college used to yell “Have as much fun as possible!” whenever we were doing pretty much anything. And that’s stuck with me as possibly the best advice I’ve ever gotten. Improv is fun and scary, which I feel is the best combination for growing, because the fun element makes you go back again and again to conquer your fears. And it forces you to actually do things that will push you to face yourself instead of just talking about yourself. You’ll also notice as you do and watch improv, that these issues that have felt so heavy will come up in a scene or a show and you’ll get to laugh about it, because life is ridiculous and silly and not very serious. And we all know that laughter is the best medicine. Besides maybe chocolate or a bunch of likes on a Facebook post.