Category Archives: Inspiration

Becoming a New Person

Demosthenes orator Louvre
Sting [CC BY-SA 2.5 (]
Everyone has wanted to be a different kind of person at one time or another. Maybe we’ve wanted to be more athletic, outgoing, or successful. Whatever it is, we’ve all had moments when we wished to be something different, something more.

Take Demosthenes of Athens, for example. Here was a young man who was disadvantaged in so many ways that he could have given up at an early age and few would have blamed him. Consider his circumstances:

“He was born sickly and frail with a nearly debilitating speech impediment. At seven years old, he lost his father. And then things got worse.

The large inheritance left to him – intended to pay for tutors and the best schools – was stolen by the guardians entrusted to protect him … Still weak and sick, Demosthenes was also unable to distinguish himself in the other critical sphere of Greek life: the floor of the gymnasia.

Here was this fatherless, effeminate, awkward child who no one understood, who everyone laughed at. Not exactly the boy you’d expect would soon hold the power to mobilize a nation to war by his voice alone.

Disadvantaged by nature, abandoned by the people he depended on, nearly every wrong that can be inflicted on a child befell Demosthenes. None of it was fair, none of it was right. Most of us, were we in his position, would have given up right then and there. But Demosthenes did not.
— adapted from The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday

Despite these setbacks, he had a dream that one day he could be a great orator who commanded the attention and respect of all of Athens. And he did it!  

To conquer his speech impediment, he devised his own strange exercises. He would fill his mouth with pebbles and practice speaking. He rehearsed full speeches into the wind or while running up steep inclines … And soon, his quiet, weak voice erupted with booming, powerful clarity.

Demosthenes locked himself away underground – literally – in a dugout he’d had built in which to study and educate himself. To ensure he wouldn’t indulge in outside distractions, he shaved half his head so he’d be too embarrassed to go outside. And from that point forward, he dutifully descended each day into his study to work with his voice, his facial expressions, and his arguments.

When he did venture out, it was to learn even more. Every moment, every conversation, ever transaction, was an opportunity for him to improve his art.
— continued from The Obstacle Is The Way

If one person could reinvent himself so completely, despite such disadvantages, then couldn’t we, at the very least, re-invent ourselves in at least one or two ways. Perhaps, we might simply want to:

  • Become a fitness buff, or
  • Return to college, or
  • Gain the confidence to stand up for ourselves

And just think, if we can focus and dedicate ourselves to re-invention in one aspect of life for a year, or maybe just a few months, then maybe we can do it again and again.

By building upon one success after another, we might one day find ourselves much like Desmothenes: a new person with a new future to look embrace.

To get you started, check out this article about 15 steps to re-inventing yourself:

Seagulls and the Road to Hell

Seagulls in flightIt’s cliche but they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. For many individuals who suffer from chronic anxiety and depression that is proven true year after year. I think a short story from Andy Andrews’ The Noticer will illustrate the point nicely.

The wise and enigmatic Jones sits down with Henry to offer some advice on his latest predicament and begins with a riddle.

Jones: “Five seagulls are sitting on a dock. One of them decides to fly away. How many are left?”

Henry: “Well … four”

Jones: “No. There are still five. Deciding to fly away and actually flying away are two very different things.”

Jones Continues: “Listen carefully to me. Despite popular belief to the contrary, there is absolutely no power in intention. The seagull may intend to fly way, may decide to do so, may talk with the other seagulls about how wonderful it is to fly, but until the seagull flaps his wings and takes to the air, he is still on the dock. There is no difference between that gull and all the others. Likewise, there is no difference in the person who intends to do things differently and the one who never thinks about it in the first place. Have you ever considered how often we judge ourselves by our intentions while we judge others by their actions? Yet intention without action is an insult to those who expect the best from you.”

And this has what to do with anxiety and depression?

How many times have you intended to do any of the following, but never did:

  • Find a new therapist who better suits you (or go to one for the first time)
  • Get into a regular fitness routine to drop 50 pounds while burning off some of that anxious energy
  • Give meditation, yoga, tai chi or other disciplines a chance
  • Ask for help and support from family or friends to help you through a rough period

I’m as guilty as anyone. Only recently have I returned to the gym after an 18 month layoff that was due in part to foot injuries. Of course, that was a convenient excuse as I could have continued working out in ways that didn’t stress my injuries. There were other excuses as well, but the fact remains that despite all my intentions to get back into the gym I gained 20lbs over the past year.

If you could pick one unrealized intention – just one – to focus on for six months what would it be?

Post Inspired by: Andy Andrews The Noticer

Photo Credit: Maltesen under Creative Commons

You Already Know How to Be Happy. You Just Don’t Realize It Yet

A Gorgeous Life LogoYou want to improve your life. You want to stop procrastinating and start doing the shit you love. You want to kill your perfectionism and you want to live an epic life. You want to be confident, strong and – most of all – you want to be happy.

Unfortunately, you are not.

And so you browse the internet, searching for the ultimate blog post that will change your life forever. You know, that one post that will radically change the way you perceive the world. The post that will somehow turn you into the person you are supposed to be.

You know that blog post is out there. You just feel it. You just have to find it and your life will change. This blog post will give you all the happiness and all the confidence you need. You will be a new person, no doubt.

Stop, You Stupid!

(I’m sorry for being harsh. I just want you to pay full attention. You’ll thank me later, I promise. And if not, you’re allowed to yell at me on Twitter. Once, that is.)

I’m calling you stupid because you have already read the blog post you are looking for! In fact, I’m pretty sure you have read several great posts that just might change your life.

The problem isn’t a lack of decent blog posts about happiness. There are numerous neat + helpful articles about how to be happy.

Here are some of my favorites:

The 5.75 Questions You’ve Been Avoiding by Michael Bungay Stanier
Are You Your Own Dream Zapper? by Ashley Ambirge
The Only Guide to Happiness You’ll Ever Need by Leo Babauta

The problem is that you don’t like to take action. You don’t like to face your fears. You don’t like to get up extra early to exercise, to stop eating chocolate or to risk failure.

You prefer to read. You’re still hoping to find those magic wise words that will change your life for you. Unfortunately, cowboy, it doesn’t work that way. Sure, there are lots of wise words out there, but it’s you who has to take action.

So please, decide what it is you want most, and take the first step to get there. And then the next. And the next. And before you know it, you’re well on your way to being happy.

And Stop Reading, Already!

By the way, obviously I don’t want you to stop reading blogs altogether. Hell no! Blogs are fun …

Note from Todd:

This is a unique “guest post” in that it comes from a blog called A Gorgeous Life. It was a fantastic blog about living as a reformed perfectionist, but unexpectedly shut down soon after I discovered it and began communicating with its author.  I can only assume it was her conscious decision to shut down the blog so I’ll protect her identity by not reposting it here.