Sunday, January 29, 2017

4 Ways to Keep Your Attitude Up When Life Brings You Down


1. Create space to breathe.

Feelings and emotions come and go like clouds on a windy day. Conscious breathing is your anchor.

Hold still for a moment, take a deep breath and free your mind from all the chatter that’s going on inside your head and around you. Doing so creates space for a change of state – for something new and positive to enter.

Don’t say you don’t have time to pause. Yes, you have battles to fight, insecurities to overcome, loved ones to contend with, and goals to achieve, but a momentary break from it all is necessary. It’s perfectly healthy to pause and let the world spin without you while you compose yourself.

Ultimately, the key is to refill your bucket on a regular basis. That means catching your breath, finding peaceful solitude, focusing your attention inward, and otherwise making time for recovery from the chaos of your life.

2. Relieve the resistance.

You might be surprised by how often you subconsciously resist life.

If you evaluate your body and posture right now, I bet you can find some kind of tension. For me, it’s often in my neck, but sometimes it’s in my back and shoulders.

Where does this tension we feel come from? We’re resisting something – perhaps we’re annoyed by someone, frustrated at life, overwhelmed by all our obligations, or just bored. And our mental resistance creates a tension in our bodies and unhappiness in our lives. I often recommend this simple strategy to our course students who are struggling to relieve themselves of their resistance and tension:

Locate the tension in your body right now. Notice what you’re resisting and tensing up against – it might be a situation or person you’re dealing with or avoiding. Relax the tense area of your body – deep breath and a quick stretch often helps. Face the same situation or person, but with a relaxed body and mind.
Repeat this practice as often as needed. Face the day with less tension and more presence. Change your mode of being from one of struggle and resistance to one of peace and acceptance.

3. Find the beauty behind the pain.

Every situation imaginable has hidden beauty in it if we’re willing to open up to it. For example, even as Angel and I have coped with the death of loved ones, we’ve discovered opportunities for us to appreciate life more, to appreciate the lives of those we’ve lost, and to appreciate the priceless time we had with our loved ones.

We do our best to embody this same mindset in every difficult life situation we encounter. When we get ill, it’s a chance for us to rest. When some unforeseeable event postpones one of our business projects, we spend more time with our family. When our young son, Mac, throws a temper tantrum, we see that he’s expressing himself, asserting his individuality, and being human.

We choose to find beauty even when it’s buried beneath problems and pain. You can do the same.

Let’s take a moment and revisit the idea of finding beauty even amidst the reality of losing a loved one, because that’s about as painful as life gets, and the general principles for coping with this catastrophic kind of loss is universally applicable to less severe situations too…

Imagine a person who gave meaning to your life is now no longer in your life (at least not in the flesh), and you’re not the same person without them. You have to change who you are – you’re now a best friend who sits alone, a widow instead of a wife, a dad without a daughter, or a next-door neighbor to someone new. You want life to be the way it was, before death, but it never will be. I know from experience that when you lose someone you can’t imagine living without, your heart breaks wide open. And the bad news is you never completely get over the loss – you will never forget them. However, in a backwards way, this is also the good news.

You see, death is an ending, which is a necessary part of living. And endings are necessary for beauty too – otherwise it’s impossible to appreciate someone or something, because they are unlimited. Limits illuminate beauty, and death is the definitive limit – a reminder that you need to be aware of this beautiful person or situation, and appreciate this beautiful thing called life. Death is also a beginning, because while you’ve lost someone special, this ending, like every loss, is a moment of reinvention. Although sad, their passing forces you to reinvent your life, and in this reinvention is an opportunity to experience beauty in new, unseen ways and places. And finally, of course, death is an opportunity to celebrate a person’s life, and to be grateful for the priceless beauty they showed you.

4. Let go and begin again.

Everything in life – every situation and every relationship – has to come to an end eventually. It’s important to appreciate and accept the end of an era – to walk away sensibly when something has reached its inevitable conclusion. Letting go, turning the page, moving forward, etc. It doesn’t matter what you call it, what matters is that you leave the past where it belongs so you can make the best of the life that’s presently available to be lived. This ending is not THE END, it’s just your life beginning again in a new way. It’s a point in your story where one chapter fades into the next.

To a great extent, this happens to us constantly. It’s happening right now.

Every single day, we have to accept the fact that things will never go back to how they used to be, and that this ending is really the beginning. This concept might be tough to accept at first, but it’s the truth. Life is endless impermanence. And it’s beautiful. It means nothing is really behind you. It means life always begins now – right now – not tomorrow or the next day or the next. And it means you can have the fresh start you want whenever you want.

So be humble. Be teachable. The world is always bigger than your view of the world. Right now there’s plenty of room for a new idea, a new step… a new beginning!

(MARCANDANGEL).

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Poem: To You Whom I Left Behind


To you whom I left behind,
Forgive my impromptu disappearance,
And the cruelty of my departure.
The visitor gave me no time for courtesy, to say my ultimate goodbye.
It came with a smug of derision, mocking my ignorance.
Forcefully, it took me away and I could not wrestle him.

To you whom I left behind,
Dry your tears for it holds no panacea,
Dust your heart from the debris of sorrow,
Rinse your spirit from the pot of wailing,
For you will have to move on.

To you whom I left behind,
Hang in there though the days be tough.
Walk through the raging fire and endure the heat.
With busted lips, ailing feet and heavy eyes, keep going.
Fight for every moment you live and always remember,
I will always be with you.

To you whom I left behind,
I tell you with authority for I have seen things;
There are too many battles you should not fight,
There are too many rat races you should not indulge in,
There are far too many pursuits that are not worth the sprint,
Understand what is important,
And never forget that your time on that side is fleeting and finite.
Seek the wisdom to always know what is sacrosanct, and on those, dwell.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

4 Ways to Keep Your Attitude Up When Life Brings You Down


1. Create space to breathe.

Feelings and emotions come and go like clouds on a windy day. Conscious breathing is your anchor.

Hold still for a moment, take a deep breath and free your mind from all the chatter that’s going on inside your head and around you. Doing so creates space for a change of state – for something new and positive to enter.

Don’t say you don’t have time to pause. Yes, you have battles to fight, insecurities to overcome, loved ones to contend with, and goals to achieve, but a momentary break from it all is necessary. It’s perfectly healthy to pause and let the world spin without you while you compose yourself.

Ultimately, the key is to refill your bucket on a regular basis. That means catching your breath, finding peaceful solitude, focusing your attention inward, and otherwise making time for recovery from the chaos of your life.

2. Relieve the resistance.

You might be surprised by how often you subconsciously resist life.

If you evaluate your body and posture right now, I bet you can find some kind of tension. For me, it’s often in my neck, but sometimes it’s in my back and shoulders.

Where does this tension we feel come from? We’re resisting something – perhaps we’re annoyed by someone, frustrated at life, overwhelmed by all our obligations, or just bored. And our mental resistance creates a tension in our bodies and unhappiness in our lives.

Locate the tension in your body right now. Notice what you’re resisting and tensing up against – it might be a situation or person you’re dealing with or avoiding. Relax the tense area of your body – deep breath and a quick stretch often helps. Face the same situation or person, but with a relaxed body and mind. Repeat this practice as often as needed. Face the day with less tension and more presence. Change your mode of being from one of struggle and resistance to one of peace and acceptance.

3. Find the beauty behind the pain.

Every situation imaginable has hidden beauty in it if we’re willing to open up to it. For example, even as Angel and I have coped with the death of loved ones, we’ve discovered opportunities for us to appreciate life more, to appreciate the lives of those we’ve lost, and to appreciate the priceless time we had with our loved ones.

We do our best to embody this same mindset in every difficult life situation we encounter. When we get ill, it’s a chance for us to rest. When some unforeseeable event postpones one of our business projects, we spend more time with our family. When our young son, Mac, throws a temper tantrum, we see that he’s expressing himself, asserting his individuality, and being human.

We choose to find beauty even when it’s buried beneath problems and pain. You can do the same.

Let’s take a moment and revisit the idea of finding beauty even amidst the reality of losing a loved one, because that’s about as painful as life gets, and the general principles for coping with this catastrophic kind of loss is universally applicable to less severe situations too…

Imagine a person who gave meaning to your life is now no longer in your life (at least not in the flesh), and you’re not the same person without them. You have to change who you are – you’re now a best friend who sits alone, a widow instead of a wife, a dad without a daughter, or a next-door neighbor to someone new. You want life to be the way it was, before death, but it never will be.

You see, death is an ending, which is a necessary part of living. And endings are necessary for beauty too – otherwise it’s impossible to appreciate someone or something, because they are unlimited. Limits illuminate beauty, and death is the definitive limit – a reminder that you need to be aware of this beautiful person or situation, and appreciate this beautiful thing called life. Death is also a beginning, because while you’ve lost someone special, this ending, like every loss, is a moment of reinvention. Although sad, their passing forces you to reinvent your life, and in this reinvention is an opportunity to experience beauty in new, unseen ways and places. And finally, of course, death is an opportunity to celebrate a person’s life, and to be grateful for the priceless beauty they showed you.

4. Let go and begin again.

Everything in life – every situation and every relationship – has to come to an end eventually. It’s important to appreciate and accept the end of an era – to walk away sensibly when something has reached its inevitable conclusion. Letting go, turning the page, moving forward, etc. It doesn’t matter what you call it, what matters is that you leave the past where it belongs so you can make the best of the life that’s presently available to be lived. This ending is not THE END, it’s just your life beginning again in a new way. It’s a point in your story where one chapter fades into the next.

To a great extent, this happens to us constantly. It’s happening right now.

Every single day, we have to accept the fact that things will never go back to how they used to be, and that this ending is really the beginning. This concept might be tough to accept at first, but it’s the truth. Life is endless impermanence. And it’s beautiful. It means nothing is really behind you. It means life always begins now – right now – not tomorrow or the next day or the next. And it means you can have the fresh start you want whenever you want.

So be humble. Be teachable. The world is always bigger than your view of the world. Right now there’s plenty of room for a new idea, a new step… a new beginning!

(MARCANDANGEL).

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Adieu Obama: How Will History Remember Itself?


On January 20th 2009, when a 44-year-old man from Hawaii with roots from the slums of Kenya made a triumphant entry into the white house after breaking the highest glass ceiling of power, he didn’t just make history, he became history. A piece of literature that will forever be told. Obama received national notoriety in 2004 when he made a key note address at the July Democratic National Convention at Boston, paving way to his election into the United States Senate in November of that year.

Barack Obama was box office upon arrival. He exuded poise; a silver lining in a society with dark economic clouds and a fulfillment to the August 28th 1963 dreams of Martin Luther King. The President began his historic term with the nation in the middle of an economic and foreign policy turmoil. He confronted global crises, terrorism, mass shootings and the challenges of growing economic inequality. He fulfilled a promise made by generations of Democrats to secure universal health care, and he served justice to Osama Bin Laden.

However, as Obama leaves the oval office, there are regrets, missed opportunities and a few ‘what ifs’. In the last eight years, nothing has been more controversial than the gun control debate. It was fierce at times and emotional at other times, but it was a raging conversation at all times. Obama will always remember gun violence cases like Sandy Hook and wonder what might have been. On January 5th, 2016, Obama announced new executive actions extending background check requirements to more gun sellers but political pundits believe that this was never enough to stem the scourge. In many ways, Obama was frustrated by the NRA and its cohorts on this subject. Whether Barack Obama will do some pro bono work in his post-presidency days will entirely be his decision. However, the gut feel is that he will depart from public glare with Donald Trump at the helm. We can only hazard a guess at this time but only in the fullness of time will we truly know.


Many have questioned, and rightly so, if the life of the average African American is any better today than it was eight years ago. The facts suggest that black shootings and discriminations have become more pronounced over the past eight years. Racial tensions have become louder from Dallas to Louisiana, and Barack Obama have most times looked like a man caught in the middle. Yet, one truth that cannot be gainsaid is that Barack Obama changed how black folks thought of themselves and the wider nation they lived in. Obama’s attainment of the nation’s highest office illuminated the depth and breadth of black genius in American society, helping to inspire millions of young people to nurture bigger dreams.

And some words for Michelle Obama. The outgoing first lady is grace personified and has more than carried herself with dignity over the past eight years. In a society where there is a dearth in effective parenting, Michelle has done a great job in bringing up Sasha and Malia under enormous pressure. As the Guardian newspaper puts it ‘Her public resilience in leading a charge to promote healthy eating across the nation, including providing nutritious foods for economically and racially segregated youth living in poverty, was illuminating – as was her willingness to speak truth to power at the Democratic national convention, where she acknowledged living in a house built by slaves. Moments like these cemented her soaring stature nationally and solidified the special place she holds within the hearts of black people everywhere.’ She has also managed a home that have been largely free from scandals, in an age when the social media scrutiny on those in power has been rife. There is a feeling that the last might not have been seen of Michelle Obama, if not now then certainly in the future.


In summary, these are early days to pass a verdict on the presidency and the entire legacy spectrum of Barack Obama. The jury will be out on that one for a long while. Hindsight they say is a beautiful thing and it is only when posterity looks back through historic lens that a last word will be said on the presidency of Obama. Yet, one thing we can all agree on is that Barack Obama was the face of history and while he tried to play down the significance of his racial roots, he cannot entirely divorce this reality from the way his presidency panned out. When all is said and done, history will be merciful to Barack.

Monday, January 2, 2017

15 Powerful Affirmations We Should Say to Ourselves This Year


1. “The biggest and most complex obstacle I will ever have to overcome is my mind. If I can overcome that, I can overcome anything.”
2. “I cannot control exactly what happens in life, but I can control how I respond to it all. In my response is my greatest power.”
3. “I have to accept whatever comes my way, and the only important thing is that I meet it with the best I have to give.”
4. “I will stop focusing on how stressed I am and remember how blessed I am. Complaining won’t change my reality, but a positive attitude will.”
5. “Being positive does not mean ignoring the negative. Being positive means overcoming the negative. There is a big difference between the two.”
6. “I will not get caught up in what could’ve been or should’ve been. I will look instead at the power and possibility of what is, right now.”
7. “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions. It’s about not letting my fear decide my future.”
8. “I will get back up. Again, and again. The faster I recover from setbacks, the faster I’ll get to where I’m going in life.”
9. “My next step in the right direction does not have to be a big one.”
10. “Patience is a genuine expression of confidence, acceptance, serenity, and faith in my own ability. It’s a sign of strength. I will practice it.”
11. “When I find that I don’t have time for what matters, I will stop doing things that don’t.”
12. “I can always feel the genuine, positive power that flows from my decision to rise above the petty drama and distractions that don’t really matter anyway.”
13. “Instead of getting angry, I will find the lesson. In place of envy, I will feel admiration. In place of worry, I will take positive action. In place of doubt, I will have faith.”
14. “The longer I remain peaceful, the stronger I become. Peace on the inside leads to real, meaningful progress on the outside.”
15. “There’s nothing selfish about self-care and self-love. I can’t give what I don’t have. When I enrich my own life, I’ll be life-giving to others too.”

(MARCANDANGEL).