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Research Examines Social Benefits of Getting Into Someone Else’s Head

Desire to understand other people’s perspectives has implications for teamwork, relationships

June 1, 2016   Source: University at Buffalo

Do you often wonder what the person next to you is thinking? You might be high in mind-reading motivation (MRM), a newly coined term for the practice of observing and interpreting bits of social information, like whether the person next to you is rhythmically drumming his fingers because he’s anxious or if someone is preoccupied because she’s gazing off into the distance.

Do you often wonder what the person next to you is thinking?

You might be high in mind-reading motivation (MRM), a newly coined term for the practice of observing and interpreting bits of social information, like whether the person next to you is rhythmically drumming his fingers because he’s anxious or if someone is preoccupied because she’s gazing off into the distance.

MRM is the tendency to engage with the mental states and perspectives of others. But it’s much more than just a means of passing idle time. Being high in MRM leads to many social benefits, including better teamwork, according to Melanie Green, an associate professor in the University at Buffalo Department of Communication and corresponding author of the groundbreaking new study published in the journal Motivation and Emotion.

“We’re not talking about the psychic phenomenon or anything like that, but simply using cues from other people’s behavior, their non-verbal signals, to try to figure out what they’re thinking,” says Green.

MRM is an entirely new construct – developed by Green and her coauthors Jordan M. Carpenter at the University of Pennsylvania and Tanya Vacharkulksemsuk at Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley – which also has implications for advertising and relationships.

Individuals high in MRM enjoy speculating on others’ thoughts based on the potentially hundreds of social cues they might receive. Those low in MRM dislike or have no interest in doing so. MRM is about the motivation to engage with other minds, and is distinct from the ability to accurately interpret others’ cues.

“We didn’t measure ability directly in our study of teamwork, but the research suggests that just the motivation to understand others, and presumably the behaviors that go along with that motivation, appear to lead to benefits,” says Green.


In addition to facilitating cooperation and better teamwork, people high in MRM also consider people in great detail and have a nuanced understanding of those around them.

“Those high in MRM seem to develop richer psychological portraits of those around them,” says Green. “It’s the difference between saying ‘this person strives for success, but is afraid of achieving it’ as opposed to ‘this person is a great cook.'”

The relevance of those portraits also appears to have implications for advertising and the salience of certain messages.

“High MRM people are more drawn to and pay more attention to messages with an identifiable source – a spokesperson or an ad focusing on company values – that is, someone whose perspective they can try to understand.” says Green. “On the other hand, low MRM people seem to pay more attention to ads that are more impersonal, like those that just discuss the product – a message that does not appear to come from a particular person or group.”

Although there is no previous research in MRM, there is a long history of studies on perspective taking. But much of that research has focused on situations where perspective taking, in a sense, is required.

“Think about seeing some kind of trouble and trying to figure out what’s wrong,” she says. “Or noticing your partner is upset and you try to figure out what they’re thinking.”

Green and her colleagues thought there might be a difference in how much people enjoy or were motivated to speculate on people’s thoughts in situations where there was no situational need or institutional pressure. It could be as simple as a bus passenger considering the thoughts of those across the aisle.

“This hadn’t been previously considered from the standpoint of individual differences,” says Green.
“That’s where this research is something new.”

Story Source:
The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University at Buffalo. The original item was written by Bert Gambini. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
Journal Reference:
Jordan M. Carpenter, Melanie C. Green, Tanya Vacharkulksemsuk. Beyond perspective-taking: Mind-reading motivation. Motivation and Emotion, 2016; 40 (3): 358 DOI: 10.1007/s11031-016-9544-z


7 Ways Mentally Strong People Deal With Stress

Jul 27, 2015   Amy Morin     What Mentally Strong People Don’t Do

While stress causes some people to crumble, mentally strong people are able to thrive despite added tension. In fact, they view adversity as an opportunity for growth. Whether they’re dealing with financial setbacks, health problems, or workplace difficulties, mentally strong people don’t let stress drag them down.

Here are 7 ways mentally strong people handle stress effectively:

1. They accept that stress is part of life.

While some people waste time and energy thinking things like, “I shouldn’t have to deal with this,” mentally strong people know that setbacks, problems, and hardships are inevitable. When stressful situations arise, they devote their efforts into doing what they can to move forward. Even when they can’t change the circumstances, they know they can always take steps to improve their lives.

2. They keep problems in proper perspective.

Rather than think that a flat tire has the power to ruin their whole day, mentally strong people keep inconveniences in proper perspective. When tempted to catastrophize a minor event — such as thinking one mistake could ruin their whole career — they respond by reframing the message they give themselves, and refuse to allow a pessimistic inner monologue to take hold.

mental strength

3. They take care of their physical health.

Mentally strong people recognize the importance of keeping their bodies in smooth operating condition. They recognize they won’t be able to combat stress if they’re worn out and running on empty. They exercise, get plenty of sleep, and maintain a diet that keeps them healthy.

4. They choose healthy coping skills.

While some people turn to alcohol, junk food, or other unhealthy vices to help them escape stress, mentally strong people cope with discomfort in a productive manner. They allow themselves to feel uncomfortable emotions like anxiety, fear, and sadness head-on. They use healthy activities, like going for a walk or participating in a hobby, to cope with emotional pain.

5. They balance social activity with solitude.

Sometimes, in an attempt to avoid facing problems, people fill their schedules with social activities. Others deal with stress by withdrawing from friends and family. Mentally strong people strike a balance: They maintain a healthy social life even when they’re stressed, but they also reserve time to be alone with their thoughts.

6.They acknowledge their choices.

Stress can cause people to feel like victims of bad circumstances. Mentally strong people acknowledge that everything they do, from the time they wake up until the time they go to sleep, is a choice. They’re willing to say no to things they don’t want to do and they accept responsibility for their behavior.

7. They look for the silver lining.

Mentally strong people don’t necessarily see the world through rose-colored glasses—they have a realistic outlook—but they do look for the silver lining in tough circumstances. They recognize that good things can come from stressful situations. Rather than allowing hardship to turn them into bitter people or helpless victims, they choose to use stressful circumstances to become stronger and better.

Amy Morin, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.     What Mentally Strong People Don’t Do    Training your brain for happiness and success


How You See the World Is How the World Sees You

by Vishnus Virtues

Growing up, I believed the world I lived in was a struggle.

And you know, I was right.

It was.

At home, I repeatedly heard things like, “money doesn’t grow on trees,” and “we can’t afford that.” I began to notice that things that I wanted cost too much and were out of reach.

While working in our small family business growing up, I heard my parents say regularly that business was a struggle and it was hard to make it by every month. And again, it was. Our family tried to save money everywhere it could and put off putting things until the next month. I remember asking for fee waivers for different projects at school or scholarships to go on field trips.

I noticed that our financial and economic life was a struggle.

My Indian parents talked (lectured) a lot but were not very open in communicating and never spoke about their feelings. I came to see the world as one where it was abnormal to talk about feelings and normal to hide how one really felt.

In my own relationships and marriage later, I came to see non-communication as acceptable without realizing how detrimental it was. Talking about feelings felt like a sign of weakness and it was better to be silent than bringing emotions into the mix.

I’ve realized that our perspective in life stems from the things we’ve experienced and the people we’ve interacted with.

The way you view the world reflects the way the world has treated you.

The way the world has treated you gives you the lenses you use to see the circumstances in your life.

  • Believe in lack and poverty: encounter financial insecurity.
  • Believe in adversity and tough times: perceive everything in life as a struggle.
  • Believe that dreams take forever to come true: notice that your life is at a constant standstill.

If you have certain negative beliefs about the way the world works and the way the world treats you — beliefs you’ve developed throughout the course of your life — know that there’s good news: you can do something about it.

You can turn around your disempowering view of life.

To see the world differently, you must change the filter you’re using to view the circumstances around you.

Once you change the filter you use to see the world; you’ll perceive life events as entirely different from what you previously imagined. And ultimately, you’ll live a much richer and more abundant life.

Here’s 4 ways you can change your life’s beliefs to have more empowering life experiences:

1. Awaken to your world view.

Most of your life you’ve taken what people have told you about your life and merged it with your personal experiences. This has shaped your world view.

What you must do now is call out this world view and realize it’s just one perspective.

If you believe that finding a job is difficult or that doing your life’s work is impossible, become aware of this perspective.

Take note of the beliefs you hold in each area of your life.

What is your belief about money?

What is your belief about work?

What is your view about problems and struggles you face?

world-projection perspective

As a simple exercise, write down each area of your life you want to explore: Money, Work, Dreams, Career, Job Security, Relationships, etc.

Under each category, write down what you believe about that area. What are your views about each area?

For example, work. Do you believe that the harder you work, the more you earn?

Do you believe that to earn more, you need more education?

Do you believe that work has to be in an office and 9-5?

Do you believe in staying in one job for life?

Notice these are simply beliefs that represent one perspective. These beliefs are not true for everyone – just true for you.

2. Flip the script.

If you’ve written your take on each area of your life, you’re in a place to change your life’s perspective.

Now, review each area and acknowledge that your views and beliefs about the world may not be the ultimate truth.

Your beliefs may be true for you based on your circumstances, but they’re not the ultimate “truth. ”

These beliefs may be true for you based on what you heard when you were growing up and on the life experiences you’ve had, but room exists for a different perspective.

If you have a negative or disempowering world view, acknowledge this and be open to the existence of an opposing world view.

If you believe money is tight and difficult to come by, acknowledge that the opposite world view is that money is easy to come by and the world is filled with abundance.

If you believe your job is a means of earning a living and that’s it, acknowledge that your work is your life’s greatest contribution. Acknowledge that some people are living their purpose while doing their life’s work every day.

Whatever negative or disempowering views you have of the world, look at the opposite and contrary view of what you currently believe.

3. See the world through new lenses.

Once you have a better understanding of what you believe and how you see the world, and after you’ve acknowledged the flip side of the coin, start seeing the world through a new set of lenses.

When something happens to you or around you, don’t neatly store that new incident in the same old belief system file.

Be willing to challenge the way you interpret the events in your life.

If you encounter a problem, look for the lesson in it.

If you face a setback at work, determine how it helps you pursue your greater purpose.

If a salesman tricks you, realize how much savvier you’ve become as a result.

If someone breaks your heart, see how it’s really setting you up for your life’s best relationship.

When dealing with life’s events, know that you have two choices and that you have the power to determine how you see each event.

You can view the circumstance or problem through your old lenses and your former belief system, or you can look at it under a more empowering light.

You determine whether it’s positive or negative.

You decide whether it’s helpful or harmful.

You choose whether the life event is a setback or a lesson.

I’m encouraging you to look at your life events using your new perspective – via the shades of abundance, happiness, positivity and growth.

Look at situations and people in the best light.

4. Celebrate, call out and expect to see the world you desire.

Here’s the best part about seeing the world through a different set of lenses.

Your life will literally start to change.

If you perceive people as helpful and events (even bad ones) as leaning in your favor, you’ll encounter a world that’s pulling for you and that
wants you to succeed.

To keep the good things coming your way, acknowledge and celebrate the new developments in your life.

Instead of seeing a bad boss as a terrible manager, realize how much better you’re becoming at your work through the mentoring you’re receiving. Also, acknowledge how much better you’re getting at dealing with abusive bosses.

Instead of seeing a layoff as a life-crushing event, call it out as a positive, life-changing event. You would never have left the job you hated, but the fact that you were let go allows you to reprioritize your life and do work that really matters.

Continue to see circumstances with positive new lenses.

Acknowledge the circumstances of your life and celebrate them. Try to appreciate everything that happens to you and look for the silver linings even in the worst life events.

Stay optimistic; expect things to turn out in your favor.

Expect to encounter people who help you, work that promotes you, relationships that fulfill you and gifts from nowhere that truly surprise you.

Maintain a positive vibe and be open to the possibility that the world will create positive circumstances in your life.

And come to see how every circumstance furthers your purpose, improves your life and gets you closer to your dreams.

Once you choose to see the world in a more uplifting light, you’ll notice positive developments, favorable events and more abundance.

Your perspective and belief system 

shape your world view.

Be willing to flip your perspective and alter your belief system and watch your life transform.

Vishnus Virtues, Author, Blogger and Life Coach
Vishnu writes a popular relationship and personal development coaching blog. He coaches people who are going through divorces start over, get unstuck and find their purpose in life.

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How To Become The Person You Were Meant To Be

You want to be successful. You know you were put on this earth to contribute to the world in a big way. So you slave away for long hours, sacrifice time with your family and friends, and put all of your energy into helping others.

One day, when you’re successful, it will pay off. One day, you can slow down and relax. One day, you’ll make the contribution you were meant to make.

Except it doesn’t work like that. You’re building your future right now. And every decision you make is setting the boundaries, rules, and habits for what’s to come. So, instead of waiting to reach a milestone before you can build the lifestyle you want, let’s set the right foundation now for future success to grow.

Because happy, healthy people change the world. Burned out people just fuel their egos.

Want to build your successful dream life? Follow these five tips:

1. Start backward.

Have you ever tried to build an IKEA desk without the picture? Expect hours of frustration and mistakes. You can’t build success if you don’t know what it looks like. Decide exactly what success means to you. How much money you make, how many hours you work, how many lives you change, who you ideally work with, who you refuse to work with, where you vacation, how much you exercise, what kind of relationships you have, what kind of food you eat. When you create a clear blueprint of the final picture, you’ll know how to take the steps to get there. Clarity means focus, which means success.

2. Eat, sleep, and breathe success.

Let’s face it — success doesn’t just happen in a vacuum. If you have a toxic relationship, sooner or later that’s going to impact the energy you can put into your job. True success is really about holistically living the life of your dreams, so start with what you can control. Eat, sleep, exercise, and interact the way a successful person would. Decide to remove toxins of any form from your life, and value yourself as if you were born to be successful. Because, truthfully, you were.



3. Be who you are, not who you wish you were.

You were born with a set of inherent skills and passions. For the heck of it, let’s call that a life purpose. But people often get so focused on improving what they’re not good at that they ignore their inherent strengths. You were born this way for a reason. Learn how to rely on your strengths and ask for help on your weaknesses. It will make life more enjoyable and make you remarkably more successful.

4. Know your value.

You believe you were put on this earth for a specific reason. You have the antidote to somebody’s problem. So why are you doubting your self-worth? People are desperate for what you have to offer, and you’re the only person standing in your way. Once you get really clear on exactly what you have to offer and how much it’s worth, it will influence everything from how successful you allow yourself to be, to how much you charge, to how you value your time.

5. Assume this is it.

We never know what the future will hold. You may be the next Oprah, or you might never move from your present state. So be happy with where you are right now. Don’t wait to design the exact relationships, work life, and happiness that you want. Even if you can only start with a simple blog or taking a tiny step toward your goal today, start doing it. Because if you start building the foundation for the life you want now, you’ve already reached success. The rest is just icing on the cake as that mansion starts to grow.

Success is just as much an internal mindset as it is an outward experience. When you realize how much you have to contribute to the world and raise your standards to match that level, the rest will fall into place.

Because success is really about consciously creating your dream life — the life you were born to live. And, when you do that, you’ll truly be living your life purpose.

Just try to stop someone that happy from changing the world. I dare you.

by Mike Iamele     March 20, 2014 


4 Ways to Beat Stress, Lose Your Guilt, and Be Happier

Research-based strength training for your emotions.

Frustrated because you can’t get what you want? Has someone turned you down for a date, a work request, or just a favor? It can be annoying to be blocked from one of your goals. Fortunately, by applying some evidence-based tools of emotional strength training, you can turn down your stress meter and make the best of bad situations.

The cornerstone of emotional strength training is cognitive therapy, in which individuals seeking to overcome depression, anxiety, or problems in relationships build mental toughness by recognizing their triggers and then turning off the switch that might normally lead to a meltdown. One doesn’t need to have a diagnosable condition, however, in order to apply some of these basic principles to improve one’s ability to tolerate life’s setbacks and annoyances.

In cognitive therapy, individuals learn to read and change the dysfunctional inner patterns that lead to sadness, anger, guilt, frustration, and self-hatreds. They detect their automatic thoughts, the instantaneous—almost subconscious—assumptions that rattle around in their heads with no apparent rhyme or reason. When negative, these automatic thoughts take the form of simple phrases like, “nobody likes me,” or “I’m just so stupid.” Automatic thoughts sit there as primes that make you especially sensitive to situations in which others seem to slight you or in which you slip up in some insignificant way, such as forgetting what you were supposed to pick up at the grocery store after you get there.

Underneath the automatic thoughts are the time bombs of dysfunctional beliefs—the actual theories you have about your flaws and foibles. These beliefs might be that you are unlikeable or unlovable, that you’re incapable of doing anything without making a mistake, or that things in your life always have to go perfectly.

Cognitive theory proposes that these automatic thoughts and dysfunctional beliefs wreak havoc on our emotional life. If we didn’t have these negatively-tainted views of ourselves and our experiences, we’d feel a lot better. By changing these thoughts, then, so the theory goes, we can change our emotions.

In therapy, people work with their therapists so that a little bell goes off in their head when such automatic thoughts kick in (“What an idiot I am”). They use those automatic thoughts to drill down to the dysfunctional beliefs that give rise to them (“I must not make mistakes”). Often these thoughts are prompted by a given situation (you accidentally step on someone’s toe). Then you can get to work on changing the belief (everyone is clumsy at times) and the automatic thought will go away or change to something more adaptive (such as, “I was clumsy just now. I wish I hadn’t been, but it doesn’t mean that I’m clumsy all the time, or stupid”).

Even automatic thoughts and dysfunctional beliefs that don’t underlie depression or other conditions can still interfere with your emotional health. This is where the strength training comes into play. By becoming a clear thinker about situations that normally cause you stress, you can improve your everyday mood and self-esteem—and you can turn off your negative emotions no matter which buttons are pushed.

Here are 4 steps that will give you the tools you need to build your resilience:

1. Turn off your binocular vision.

Binoculars help us see the world in clearer detail, but they also make small things seem large. With emotional binocular vision, you look at situations in a way that makes them seem bigger and more threatening than they really are. Getting delayed in traffic by five minutes or running into bad weather that means you get drenched while running to catch a bus can be aggravating. In binocular vision, you see these ordinary daily problems as huge and insurmountable: You’re going to be late on a day you had a lot to get done or your freshly-done hair is ruined. Horrible, right? Turning off binocular vision means that you use your internal listening skills. You’ll hear a thought like, “If I’m late, people will think I’m a slacker,” a thought tied to the belief that you are a slacker. Once you can convince yourself that you are a hard worker, and that others realize you’re a hard worker, the delay will be an inconvenience but not a condemnation of your character. The situation will shrink before your eyes from the worst thing that could happen, and its magnitude will not overwhelm your mood.

2. Recolor your view of the world.

You know the expression, “looking at the world through rose-colored glasses,” the frame of mind that describes an eternal optimist. There are many health and wellbeing advantages to being an optimist. However, optimists aren’t always perfectly adapted to the stresses of the world, either. You may not have the psychological make-up to become an optimist, or at least not do become one overnight, but you can brighten your view of life events so that you’re not always viewing situations in the most negative possible way.

In coping with stress, people can either try to change the situation or their view of it. With situations that can be changed, your coping will be more effective if you actually do something to make the problem go away (“problem-focused coping”). With situations that are immutable, you’re better off changing something within yourself (“emotion-focused coping”).

Let’s say that you’re getting dinner ready for important guests (or one important one). You’re preparing the main dish and realize that you forgot to buy a key ingredient. Frantically, you look around the kitchen but realize that you have nothing at all to substitute for it. You could theoretically run to the store but if you’re running short of time, that’s not an option. How terrible! Your guests will think you’re a terrible host and they’ll never want to see you again! The automatic thoughts just won’t stop and the little problem now becomes the worst possible thing that could happen (that’s binocular vision again).

You can’t actually change the situation so you’re next option is to change the way you view it. Start with some problem-focused coping: Calm yourself down and start to look at what you can realistically do. Perhaps you should go online and see if there are alternative recipes or substitutions you hadn’t considered. And, guess what, there’s another recipe almost like the first one. You plunge ahead with the alternative dish and everyone loves it. It may even be better than what you originally planned.

By taking the opposite, optimistic, takeaway message from such incidents, you can come to appreciate that situations need not conform to your original plans in order to be successful. The change of mindset benefits you.



3. Eliminate black-or-white thinking.

One of the primary cognitive errors that cause people excessive misery or anxiety is seeing the world in distinct terms: A situation is all bad, or all good. Most situations in life involve gradations in between these extremes. A great event may still have a few unfortunate implications, but building your emotional skills requires that you allow those situations to occur.

Consider an event that’s been months in the planning, like a family reunion, vacation, or business meeting. All is going well but then, out of nowhere, two people get into an argument and the mood is soured. After a while, though, the combatants retreat, and all is back to normal. Now, you could think, “This whole event was a disaster! I wanted it to be perfect, and now it’s all for nothing!” Or, you could adopt a shade-of-gray approach and say that the event still went 90% well. Recognizing that the automatic thought, “I have to be perfect,” is caused by the dysfunctional belief that if you’re not perfect, you’re no good, will help you accept life’s imperfections without being demolished by the occasional snafu.

The all-or-nothing approach can also create problems when you engage in the related cognitive problem of fortune-telling on insufficient evidence. In this situation, you start to imagine a future event that hasn’t yet happened and assume that it will turn out badly: “I’d like to go to the party, but I’m sure no one will talk to me. I might as well stay home.” You have no real reason for anticipating this unfortunate outcome. It may stem from your automatic thought, “No one likes me,” which itself stems from the dysfunctional belief, “If everyone doesn’t like me, I’m no good as a person.” With no other data generated by your mind, you draw an inaccurate inference and make yourself miserable in the process.

Instead of making such mood-altering predictions, enter into a feared situation with an open mind instead. If you allow yourself to monitor situations objectively—without assuming that you’re flawed, deficient, etc.—you may be pleasantly surprised by outcomes that validate your self-worth. Combine this with the notion that things aren’t always 100% good or bad, and you’ll be on your way to building reserves that will protect you from unnecessary disappointment.

4. Avoid the blame game.

We all play the blame game now and then, accusing others when it was our own behavior that caused a negative outcome. In emotional strength training, you take responsibility for your actions. If something goes wrong that is your fault (not one that you just imagine to be your fault), you accept the fact without cringing. You own your behavior rather than foist the problem’s cause onto someone else. As a result, people will like you more, not less. They will appreciate your honesty, maturity, and openness to negative information about yourself.

Of course, for the anti-blame game to work, you need to avoid blaming yourself for something you didn’t do. Taking too much responsibility for events going wrong can lead you to endless bouts of self-doubt, making you more likely to predict unfortunate outcomes, see the world through dark-colored glasses, and take an all-or-nothing approach to life’s gray-colored events.

Even thinking in terms of “blame” can create problems: Why must someone be blamed? Why not attribute negative outcomes to the causes that often are the real source of the problem? Perhaps you offered to take your friends out for a weekend afternoon foray to the par or the mall. A tree branch from a truck falls in front of your car, and though you try to avoid it, you get a flat tire. Now you all have to wait for a repair person to rescue you. Where’s the blame to assign? Is it your fault because it was you who invited them, decided to drive, and couldn’t avoid the branch without swerving into another car? No, it was nothing you caused.

Research on cognitive therapy shows that people who become more competent in the skills they develop in cognitive therapy are better able to resist succumbing to experimental manipulations of negative moods (Strunk et al., 2013). The results can produce a lifetime of lighter moods.

Strunk, D. R., Adler, A. D., & Hollars, S. N. (2013). Cognitive therapy skills predict cognitive reactivity to sad mood following cognitive therapy for depression. Cognitive Therapy And Research, doi:10.1007/s10608-013-9570-z

Jul 30, 2013

Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. 2013 

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9 Things Success-Oriented People Do

It’s a long journey. Here’s how to get started.

Posted Aug 08, 2015

Each of us can probably name an “overnight” success story, but most successful people actually spend countless hours nurturing and caring for their beloved projects. Many people assume that most successful people have things handed to them or that it comes with little effort. What is less obvious, however, is that they more typically become successful because of what they practice.

Here are 9 things that success-oriented people practice:

1. They are prepared for the journey. And they know the journey is an expedition rather than a stroll. Along the way, they encounter obstacles that no one warned them about, walk down poorly lit paths and discover a great deal about themselves.

2. They see everything as an opportunity. They even see rejection as an opportunity for personal and/or professional growth. Their strength comes from knowing that rejection is not the end of the world, and understanding how to use it. This is why success-oriented people don’t panic when they see an obstacle; they have confidence that they will work through the challenge.

3. They ask important questions. And the questions they ask themselves are far more important than the ones anyone asks them, questions like: Who do I want to reach? Is this goal serving a higher purpose? Who can I ask for honest feedback? What keeps me motivated?

4. They practice balance. They know they are on a journey and that self-care is critical. They realize that things can began to go sideways if they focus too much on just one issue. Going back to the expedition metaphor, success-oriented people know that if they use all of their energy to climb one hill and don’t properly pace themselves, they will run out of “fuel” to complete journey. In other words, they take breaks and participate in non-work related activities.


5. They know that the core values of determination, discipline, perseverance, and hard work produce golden results. Many people want instant results, but it’s thoughtful, well-planned intentions that carry successful people to the finish line.

6. They are fully aware of their blind spots. They are open and ready to ask for help in areas that they haven’t mastered. They know that others can see things they can’t, and that sharing different perspectives provides new opportunities for growth.

7. They are always a student. They may be reading, doing independent research or engaging in new conversations, but their Number One goal in these activities is to learn. They know that they are responsible for laying the foundation for their success, and this growth comes from broadening their knowledge base.

8. They are not caught up in labels or status symbols. They know that golden opportunities are sometimes the ones others overlook or don’t see as popular. Success-oriented people know that a brand name isn’t always the best value for their business. They know what is the best fit.

9. They practice gratitude. They adopt this practice as part of their daily habits. They are grateful not only for career accomplishments but also for any help that they receive along the way. They are quick to say a sincere “Thank you” to those who offer them support.

Success comes in many different forms
and opening your perspective about
it can shape your path.

Kristin Meekhof is a licensed master’s level social worker. She graduated from Kalamazoo College with a major in psychology and completed the master in social work program at the University of Michigan. She is the author of the forthcoming book, “A Widow’s Guide to Healing: Gentle Support and Advice for the First 5 Years.”


How Changing Your Beliefs Changes The World Around You

I always tend to see a basic fault when I hear people talk about hoping for change in the world. It’s the idea that we see the notion of change as something happening outside of us, driven by some faceless group of elite scientists, inventors and leaders coming up with some revolutionary idea that would set the world on a different course.

The fault with this notion is that it comes from the same mould which gave form to the problem in the first place – separation. We feel that we are separate from all the atrocities happening in different corners of the world; separate from shady global deals done in the interest of the few; separate from the marvelous work done by selfless peacekeepers and volunteers; separate from the bloodied hands of our previous generation and the problems of the next generations.

We think that we are helpless, innocent and powerless in the face of all this and that the change we expect ‘has’ to come from others, individuals, collectives or nations.

The Pain of Separation

When we look at the world outside we constantly see problems. We see real world problems such as overpopulation, energy crisis, water scarcity, the destruction of our environment, health hazards, etc. We also see degenerative and auto destructive patterns of behaviour such as greed, materialism, madness, over-consumerism and the general disenchantment with the world and the Universe. In short, we see modern Man as having lost his soul and disconnected with his spirit and the natural world.

When you think of it, in fact, all of these problems we see are rooted in separation.  Humanity seems to be off course because we have separated ourselves from our ancestral wisdom, our enchantment with the magical Universe, with ourselves, with our being. We have increasingly ingrained in us the false idea of individual freedom at the cost of community welfare. We feel that we have the freedom to be separate from our global community and affairs that affect the millions. So the recurrent theme is separation.

Wearing the Inside Out

On another level, we fail to see that our outer world, with all its blessings and problems is merely a projection of our inner world, both individually and collectively. Wars, atrocities, eco-destruction and restlessness is nothing more than a projection of what is happening internally on a deeper psychic level. The state of the world we are in, is nothing more than the state we are in internally on a collective level. Once again, we feel there is a separation between our internal and outer reality which is basically nothing more than a mere illusion. On a positive note, the positive change we are starting to witness is also a reflection of our nascent change in consciousness, first on a individual then collective scale.

Re-programming Your Reality

I feel that the idea to work with is that before we expect any mass changes to the afflictions we see around us in the world, we should start experimenting with changing the immediate reality around us, equipped with the idea that we can bend our personal reality by shifting how we face the world and interact with it. As the iconic quote from Gandhi goes “Be the change you want to see”.

We start shifting our reality not by gaining anything new but by releasing and letting go of years of conditioning and self-limiting beliefs. Here are some beliefs we ought to start adopting, while letting go of their complete opposite, if we really want to start seeing the change happening around us:

1) You are always part of the equation of life

When we feel disconnected we lose our real power. That power is the feeling of being one with life – of being an integral part of the equation. Again, the human dis-ease is that we feel separate from and powerless over the currents of our life stream.

When we realign ourselves with the belief that we are part of the whole eco-system of life with its subtleties and magic, we create a powerful inner conviction that enables us to trust and have faith in whatever is happening. This is the magical ingredient for staying in tune with our highest potential and unblocking those obstacles that keep us from moving forward and changing our reality.



2) You can empower yourself to be the change you want

We are embedded in a system that is programmed to disempower us and condition us into believing that change happens outside of us. Yet, when we listen closer to our heart, we realise that this empowerment or disempowerment is only in our hands. If we allow ourselves to be grind down by the machinery of the system, then that is what we create.

If on the other hand we take charge of our life and destiny and encourage ourselves with the idea that only we have the power to make the change, we are turning the tables on the system. We start becoming free hearts and free thinkers. The shackles no longer bind us because we become masters of our own destiny.

3) You are a co-creator of your own reality

It’s a simple but powerful truth really. You are the co-creator of your own reality. Look at your life, the state you are now in – whether good or bad. You had a big say to create all that, whether you are conscious of it or otherwise. Since we are agents in our own life, we make choices, interact, dream and act, we are undeniably co-creators of our own reality. The more we catch up with the idea and consciously take hold of it, the more we can co-create and change our life positively.

4) Healing is losing the sense of separateness & fear

If you consciously look deep into yourself, you will find a constant yearning for healing, for restoring your being. This is a constant spiritual quest that we look for in different ways, at different times in our life. What this healing really means is remembering who we really are – our real power, our humanity and divinity at the same time. Most of all healing is transcending fear and our sense of separateness.

It is important then to always remember that we can heal ourselves by moving away from fear and the belief that we are disconnected and alone in a hostile universe, to one where we have faith that no matter how our life fluctuates, it’s all fine since we are supported by an infinite source of love and power.

5) Others are allies to your co-creations

The sense of separation continues to be reinforced by the sense of ‘us and them’. We feel that others can be a threat to our own wellbeing and happiness. We see them as possible competitors in a limited pool of resources. We enter into the survival mindset.

This is all very counterproductive at best. The more we let go of the sense of fear and separateness (thus being healed), the more we see others as potential allies and contributors to our own co-creations. This cannot be otherwise if we start from the premise that everything is interconnected and that we are an integral part of the equation of life (see point number one).

People who have become conscious co-creators of their own destiny know the true value and power in this. They understand the importance of helping, sharing, trusting and giving out while getting in. They understand human nature more intimately, knowing that each and every person, no matter how his or her outer behaviour can be off-putting, carry the same potential for healing themselves, others and the world around them.

6) You can always change the channel you tune into

Another fundamental truth that has been echoed in various forms is that everything is ultimately energy and vibration at different levels of frequency:  From very low, soul-wrenching vibrations to elevating, exhilarating frequencies of love and bliss. You have ultimately the power and freedom to choose which channel to tune into. Negative self-talk, self-limiting beliefs, fear, cynical friends, etc, will keep you stuck in a reality that vibrates at low frequency, so to speak.

On the other hand, opening your heart to new experiences and adventures, doing more of the things you like, being grateful, surrounding your self with exciting people and not being afraid to love will help you shift into a frequency bandwidth that will make you attract more of the same goodness and excitement. It will literally make you become the change you want to see in yourself and the world.

It’s basically about tuning in to and attracting the energy vibrations you would like to see more of in your reality. Thus while you are tuning in to higher frequencies and tuning out of the lower ones, you are co-creating a meaningful and positive personal reality which ultimately is projected and manifested onto the world. The result is that you would be creating the change you want to see in this world. On a collective level, this would be the beginning of a new earth.

Thanks for reading!

Gilbert Ross,  Soul Hiker