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It may look like winter outside, but today I felt the sun on my face and I can say; Spring is Coming. Are you ready for it? :)
Repeated bouts of adversity are an unavoidable aspect of human existence. We battle against our inner struggles or outer world forces, and in many cases, we emerge on the opposite side of struggle stronger and better equipped to cope with the challenges yet to come. However, we can occasionally encounter trials that seem utterly hopeless. We strike at them with all of our creativity and perseverance, hoping desperately to bring about change, only to meet with the same results as always. Our first instinct in such situations is often to push harder against the seemingly immovable obstruction before us, assuming that this time we will be met with a different outcome. But staying power and stamina net us little when the same choices consistently garner the same results. A change in perspective, behavior, or response can do so much more to help us move past points where no amount of effort seems sufficient to overcome the difficulties before us.
Whether our intention is to change ourselves or some element of the world around us, we cannot simply wish for transformation or hope that our lives will be altered through circumstance. If our patterns of thought and behavior remain unchanged, our lives will continue to unfold much as they have previously. Patterns in which fruitless efforts prevail can be overcome with self examination and courage. It is our bravery that allows us to question the choices we have made thus far and to channel our effort into innovation. Asking questions and making small adjustments to your thought processes and behaviors will help you discover what works, so you can leave that which does not work behind you. To break free from those unconscious patterns that have long held sway over your actions and reactions, you will likely have to challenge your assumptions on a most basic level. You must accept once and for all that your beliefs with regard to cause and effect may no longer be in accordance with your needs.
Stagnation is often a sign that great changes are on the horizon. Courting the change you wish to see in yourself and in the world around you is a matter of acknowledging that only change begets change. The results you so ardently want to realize are well within the realm of possibility, and you need only step away from the well-worn circular path to explore the untried paths that lie beyond it.
The time we are blessed with is limited and tends to be used up all too quickly. How we utilize that time is consequently one of the most important decisions we make. Yet it is far too easy to put off until tomorrow what we are dreaming of today. The hectic pace of modern existence affords us an easy out; we shelve our aspirations so we can cope more effectively with the challenges of the present, ostensibly to have more time and leisure to realize our purpose in the future. Or we tell ourselves that we will chase our dreams someday once we have accomplished other lesser goals. In truth, it is our fear that keeps us from seeking fulfillment in the here and now—because we view failure as a possibility, our reasons for delaying our inevitable success seem sound and rational. If we ask ourselves what we are really waiting for, however, we discover that there is no truly compelling reason why we should put off the pursuit of the dreams that sustain us.
When regarded as a question, "Why not now?" drains us of our power to realize our ambitions. We are so concerned with the notion that we are somehow undeserving of happiness that we cannot see that there is much we can do in the present to begin courting it. Yet when we look decisively at our existence and state, "Why not now, indeed!" we are empowered to begin changing our lives this very moment. We procrastinate for many reasons, from a perceived lack of time to a legitimate lack of self-belief, but the truth of the matter is that there is no time like the present and no time but the present. Whatever we aim to accomplish, we will achieve it more quickly and with a greater degree of efficiency when we seize the day and make the most of the resources we have at our disposal presently.
All the joy, passion, and contentment you can envision can be yours right now, rather than in some far-flung point in time. You need only remind yourself that there is nothing standing between you and fulfillment. If you decide that today is the day you will take your destiny into your hands, you will soon discover that you hold the keys of fate.
We all know from experience that we can’t change other people, yet most of us have a tendency to try. This is because we naturally feel the need to do something to change situations that we find troubling. It often doesn’t occur to us that the best way to create change is not to try to convince others to change but to change ourselves. When we make adjustments from within, we become role models for others, and leading by example is much more inspiring than a lecture or an argument.
We sometimes look outside ourselves for what’s wrong with the world, but the outside world is really just a mirror reflecting us back to ourselves. When we encounter negativity—anger, depression, fear—we empower ourselves by looking for its roots inside of ourselves. For example, if you have a friend who is unreliable, observe yourself and notice if there are ways in which you are unreliable. You may be surprised to discover that you have your own struggles with this issue in ways you weren’t able to see. Once you own the issue for yourself, you can begin to work for change within yourself. This will also enable you to have more compassion for your friend. At the very least, as you strive to become more reliable, you will become more of the person you want to be. In the best-case scenario, you will be an inspiration to others.
You can apply the same method to larger issues. For example, if there is something you see in the larger world that you would like to change—let’s say, greed—try taking responsibility for changing it in yourself. Instead of being angry with those you see as greedy, seek out the roots of your own greed and come to terms with your power to transform it. This may be the best way to lead the world toward greater moderation and generosity.
You may need to make important decisions regarding your life situation, but you may notice that you are hesitant about committing to one course of action today. Your indecision could be the result of your fear of making a mistake and possibly losing something that is dear to you. Perhaps remind yourself that no matter what you do, you will always gain from your choices for everything is an opportunity to grow. Keeping this in mind today may assuage your uncertainty enough to look at your situation realistically, which could help you make a more grounded and well-informed decision based on what you confidently feel can move you forward. The act of releasing your doubt could free you up to look around you at the various options with the full knowledge that this is a growing experience. Even if you make a mistake, it will not be the end of the world.
Seeing a choice as something that is a process rather than as a final result will help us make confident choices. When we are afraid that something will happen, we energetically block ourselves. Our indecision actually works against rather than with us. Approaching things with the idea that you stand only to gain from your actions, however, will put you in a positive frame of mind, allowing you to focus on all you are able to achieve today.
I'm a big fan of facing your problems head-on and dealing forthrightly with your pain. But what if that approach isn't always best? Renowned psychologist Richard Lazarus said he wanted to "challenge the view that psychological health demands full realism." He believed that some sick people get healthy faster by refusing to admit how serious their problems are. To those in stressful situations, he recommended that they could reduce their anxiety by describing their predicament in a matter-of-fact way. "Avoiding what is painful, to a great extent, seems to serve a positive function," he concluded. Although I'm not sure this strategy is universally applicable, I do recommend it for you right now, Aries.
Every book has the potential to touch the human soul deeply, arousing patterns of thought that might otherwise have lain dormant. The pleasure we derive from the written word is unique in that we must labor for it. Other forms of art provide us with stimulus and ask nothing more than our emotional response. Reading is an active pastime that requires an investment of emotion as well as our concentration and imagination. The words we read are merely a starting point for a process that takes place largely within our minds and hearts.
There are few activities as comforting, relaxing, and healthy as perusing the pages of a good piece of fiction or nonfiction. Curling up with a book and a cup of tea is one of the simplest ways we can remove ourselves from the confines of reality in order to immerse ourselves in the drama and intrigue of the unfamiliar. The pleasure of transcending reality is only one aspect of the reading experience, however. Each time we read for enjoyment, whether we prefer the fantastic nature of fiction, the empathy awakened within us by memoir, or the instructive passion of nonfiction, we create entire landscapes in our mind's eye. The books we choose provide us with the inspiration we need to accomplish such a feat, but it is our own creative reserves that empower us to use our imaginations for this unique and beautiful purpose.
The tales you lose yourself in can lead you on paths of discovery that take you out of your own life and help you see that existence can unfold in an infinite number of ways. You can learn so much from the characters and mentors who guide you from page to page. Your emotions are awakened each time you read, allowing you to become vessels of the passion that pours forth from line after line of print. Ultimately, the books you absorb-those that touch you deeply-will become a part of who you are, providing you with a rich and thrilling world within that you can revisit anytime you wish by simply closing your eyes. If you haven't read a book for pleasure lately, try and allow yourself the time-you deserve it.