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How to Practice Nonviolent Communication

Editor’s Pick. Written through crowdsourcing. Nonviolent Communication (NVC) includes a simple method for clear, empathic communication, consisting of four steps: observations, feelings, needs, requests. NVC aims to find a way for all present to get what really matters to them without the use of guilt, humiliation, shame, blame, coercion, or threats. It is useful for resolving conflicts, connecting with others, and living in a way that is conscious, present, and attuned to the genuine, living needs of yourself and others. Read the full thing at » continue reading

Don’t Get Addicted to Powerlessness

Wise words from T. K. Coleman, whose blog I read daily: Being a victim is rewarding. It elicits sympathy and attention while insulating us from the challenges that come with taking responsibility for our lives. These rewards, however, come with a cost. The benefits of victimhood can only be procured at the expense of personal power. When you frame your life in terms of how uniquely unfair the universe is to you, your ability to think critically and creatively diminishes. Simple problems become unsolvable and ordinary people become unbearable. We ought to educate children about the dangers of thinking like victims with the same fervor we exhibit when teaching them about harmful drugs. Because, like harmful drugs, getting high off being a victim feels good but it will eventually rob you of your sanity, your resources, and your friends while simultaneously transforming you into a magnet for manipulators, invalidators, and time-wasters. Skyler. continue reading

What’s So Bad About Servitude?

Editor’s Pick. Written by Paul Rosenberg. Some years ago I found myself at dinner with a small group of people. We had a pleasant time, but soon enough, someone brought up my “weird” opinions. I explained that I was an advocate for freedom and opposed restrictions on it. A spirited debate followed, of course, and at one point I said something about disliking servitude. In response, one of the people at the table – a medical professional – asked: “What’s so bad about servitude?” At first I was shocked, because I had never heard anyone say such a thing. I’m an American boy, after all, and I grew up surrounded by at least an implied demand for freedom. But once past that, I realized I didn’t have an answer to the question. I had always taken it as a given that servitude was bad – not only from what I had heard and read, but from what I knew in my bones. I dug within myself for a serious response to the question, but I came up dry. I had no answer to give. I continued the conversation as best I could, and perhaps I did some small amount of good. But, as I drove home, I realized that I had a problem. This man asked a simple and essential question, and I didn’t have an answer to it. Read the full thing at » continue reading

A Positive Outlook Isn’t Turning a Blind Eye

Editor’s Pick. Written by Pam Laricchia. Last week I talked about finding joy, that deeper sense of self that no longer seems quite so susceptible to the whims of life and luck. Yet, as I mentioned, it’s not that life no longer has disappointments or challenges, so I thought I’d talk a bit about when things go wrong. You know, those moments when maybe you act and react without thinking, or when things seem to go from bad to worse and worse again. One tip I’ve found helpful over the years, which I believe I first heard from Sandra Dodd: remember these are just moments, don’t be tempted to paint your whole day as a “bad day”. Each new moment is a chance to do something differently. If you stay in that place of disappointment or frustration it colours your perspective as you move through the rest of your day: you view, act, and react through that filter. All of a sudden a handful of things not going perfectly becomes the world out to get you. (Note: the world isn’t out to get you.) So there’s a really good reason to take the time to put the frustrating moments into perspective and move forward fresh: your next moments aren’t tainted before they even happen. Read the full thing at » continue reading

Finding Joy

Editor’s Pick. Written by Pam Laricchia. First, what do I mean by the word joy? Certainly it means happiness, pleasure. Most people can find happiness in response to good things that happen to them or around them. Yet when disappointing things happen, they are thrown into despair. It’s tough to be at the mercy of outside events! What I’d like to talk about is the deeper sense of joy that I found developed alongside my growing understanding of unschooling. It’s a sense of self that no longer seems quite so susceptible to the whims of life and luck. That’s important because a joyful life is not without problems or strains or challenges. As I wrote earlier this month, “somewhere along the line it dawned on me that it’s not about figuring it all out so I can finally, from that moment on, live a happy life. This process IS a well-lived life.” A joyful life. Read the full thing at » continue reading

Why You Should Run Away

Editor’s Pick. Written by Paul Rosenberg. One of the more instructive experiences of my life occurred when was when I was a teenager, barely sixteen years old. My dad, whom I had previously considered to be incredibly over-protective, put me on a cross-country bus and sent me, alone, to visit my grandmother, some two thousand miles away. For two straight days I was on my own, surrounded by people I had never met, in places I’d never been, and thrown into situations that I could never have expected. The experience did something to me: I learned about a strange world and how to get along in it, alone, with no one to run to. The benefits I felt from this trip didn’t have to do with traveling. This wasn’t about getting from point A to point B – this was about wandering through the unknown. And that was an idea that rather bothered me. During my youth, there was a common idea that moving around was a bad thing. You were supposed to stay in your place unless you had a good reason to do otherwise. People who moved around were considered suspicious and even dangerous. The benefit that I felt from wandering clashed with what I had been taught. When I returned home from this journey, I returned to the regular American distractions of sports, school, and all the other shiny objects that grab at young people’s minds. But I never forgot the strange feeling that stuck with me from that journey. Sometime later, I came across a passage in Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona: I rather would entreat you to see the wonders of the world abroad, than,living dully, sluggardized at home, wear out your youth in shapeless idleness. That wasn’t precisely what I had felt on my adventure, but it was close. It would be some years before I would travel seriously, but I decided right then and there that I would make it my life’s goal to see the world. That experience, which I’ve come to call The Strangest Secret, is not unlike Earl Nightingale’s message of the same name. Both concepts lead to a rich and fulfilling life. Read the full thing at » continue reading

A Guide to Practical Compassion

Editor’s Pick. Written by Leo Babauta. If I’ve found two guiding principles in my life, they are contentment and compassion. With these two ideas, life becomes better. Contentment makes every moment better. And compassion makes your connection with others better. What Compassion Is, & Some Difficulties Let’s talk about compassion for a few minutes, because as important as it is, very few people talk about how to actually do it. First a definition: the simple definition of compassion is feeling and understanding the pain of others, and then wanting to reduce that suffering. In practice, it’s a lot harder. How do you understand the pain of others? If I see anything about you, it’s based on very limited information, just what you’ve shown me — and often, based on very limited interactions. So I have to project a story that I make up about you, and the truth is, it’s probably wrong. But sometimes that’s all we have to work with, and then gain more information once we’ve started to apply it. If you have a large group of people — me trying to find compassion for all of you, for example — that can be very difficult. How do I find empathy with thousands of people? It’s almost impossible. So you see that applied compassion can become a complex thing. Much more easily applied on an individual basis. Read the full thing at » continue reading

How Do You Handle Adversity?

Author unknown. A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted …to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed that as one problem was solved, a new one arose. Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She then pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, “Tell me, what do you see?” “Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied. She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The granddaughter then asked, “What does it mean, Grandmother?” Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity — boiling water — but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water. “Which are you?” she asked her granddaughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?” Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity? Do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor of your life. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation... continue reading

What Are Ethics Anyway?

Editor’s Pick. Written by Justin Nafziger. I have observed that people confuse various adjacent terms and ideas as equivalent. Belief and conviction for example, while they may overlap are not one and the same. Another oft misconstrued association is mixing morality, integrity and ethics. To be sure, they do interact heavily, but one and the same they are not (my personal definitions follow, but while the terms are subjective the concepts I think, are solid. “A rose by any other name…” ) Morality is a broad strokes sense of things. “Do unto others as you would have done unto you” or “an ye harm none, do what ye will.” Ethics are the weights and measures of morality faced with the tribulations of practicality. What do you do when everyone, or no one, in a situation is in the right/wrong? For example, when two parties are equally ethical but their well-being is in opposition? Integrity, simply put, is the resilience of will to consistently act upon the resolutions of ones own morality and ethics. The “devil” is in the dogma (to retool a phrase). Dogmatic systems of belief fail, a key example of that is they choose to prescribe all three of these aspects forging them into one rigid code of conduct, which in it’s rigidity contradicts itself when applied to reality rather than the abstract. They prescribe moral considerations within largely binary systems and seek to use punitive means combined with intimidation and occasional emotional bribery to constrain adherence. (For those keeping score, organized religions are far from the only dogmatic institutions present in contemporary society and the secular bodies aren’t exempt from this analysis either). Read the full thing at » continue reading

Habit Mastery: Creating the New Normal

Editor’s Pick. Written by Leo Babauta. Changing habits, at its core, is simply a process of changing what’s normal for you. This is something I’ve done myself a gajillion times over the last 7-8 years: not smoking became my new normal (lots of pain for a month or so) running became normal eating vegetarian became normal later eating vegan became normal writing every day became normal not having sugar in my coffee became normal eating whole foods (instead of junk foods) became normal meditating every morning became normal having less stuff and a simpler home became my new normal reducing and eventually (mostly) eliminating sugar became normal and so on: no car, walk and ride mass transit, do less, becoming content with myself, working for myself, etc. In fact, you could say the last 8 years of my life has been a constant adjusting of what’s normal. Adjusting normal is my normal now. Read the full thing at » continue reading