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What Does a Healthy and Balanced Life Mean to You?

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I recently released an interview on Passion Struck with John R. Miles with the author Susan Cain where we discussed the importance of balancing joy and sorrow, bitter and sweet, and work and life. It got me thinking about what a healthy and balanced life really means.  Today, much in our world demands our constant […]

The Science of Learning: It’s Vital For Your Success

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In order to learn anything, whether it is math, a foreign language, or how to dribble a soccer ball, you need to create and strengthen pathways in your brain. Think about the first time you tried to kick or throw a ball. Your first time doing it, you didn’t have a pathway for that movement […]

How Do You Create Success? Life Lessons From Barbara Corcoran

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We hear the term success all the time, and it carries considerable weight today in society, both in how others perceive our success and how we define it for ourselves. Many people believe they create success by earning a degree, buying a house, a car, or a yacht. It can also be determined by their […]

The Power of Empathy is the Greatest Gift to Human Beings

Two men hugging each other in class demonstrating empathy of John R Miles blog

According to former President Barack Obama, “The biggest problem we have in our society and the world right now is a lack of empathy. We are in great need of people being able to stand in somebody else’s shoes and see the world through their eyes.” The gap that President Obama alludes to is only […]

Cultivating Healthy Esteem: What Are the Ten Keys?

Picture of a red haired woman displaying healthy esteem for John R Miles blog

Famous Greek philosopher Epictetus once said, “It is not what happens to you but how you react to it that matters.” At some point in our lives, we’ve all had times when we felt inadequate and imperfect about ourselves, whether due to a physical flaw, how we perceive ourselves, not reaching our goals or a […]

Becoming Your Best Self is the Foundation for Everything

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Over the years, I have come to a much deeper connection with myself. The most important relationship I can have is with myself—the one true constant in my life. Everything that happens in my life for good or bad occurs based on my self-reflection and becoming my best self.   “Your relationship with yourself is […]

The Science of Creating Healthy Habits – How to Make Habits Stick

Male Gymnast Nile Wilson on the rings for John R. Miles blog showing healthy habits

Kieran Behan was born in Hertfordshire, London, to parents who were of Irish descent. Ever since he could remember, Kieran loved everything about gymnastics, from the tumbling floor routines to the mental fortitude required to compete on the high bar. He lived for the Olympics and was determined to become an Olympic champion. Kieran poured […]

Navigating Life With Joy as Your Compass

It was past 6:00 pm on a cold Michigan day, and Kristen Jane Anderson was trudging through the park, tugging at her knit gloves as she set out to end her own life. She was just seventeen and longed to be happy. Kristen grew up in a typical American family where she had the freedom to do what she enjoyed and had terrific siblings and supportive parents. Yet, inside, all Kristen felt was deep emptiness. Life hadn't been going as she hoped, especially after losing her grandmother and three other friends within the space of two years. Following that she was raped by someone she considered a friend and that experience only compounded the brokenness she already felt. She had taken to smoking, drinking, and partying with her friends, all in a bid to escape the pain and mask her mental struggles. However, she awoke to find them returning each day and felt she had lost all purpose. Which led her to become very discouraged and overwhelmed. Kristen decided that her only escape from all of her troubles was to lay on a train track and allow herself to be run over by the train. Evading the cops and any curious eyes, she managed to get herself on the railroad track and lie in position as the train approached. She lay still with the hopes that all her heartache and numbness would be over in a flash, but then, the unexpected happened. She was run over by 33 freight train cars at 55 mph but somehow was still conscious and alive, however, leaving her with completely severed legs. Eventually, she was rescued by emergency workers and stabilized at the hospital, but she now had to live the rest of her life without legs. Even with a second chance at life, the next three years after the incident were extremely difficult. There were more surgeries- she was placed on different pain killers, antidepressants. She still felt major depression, and still more thoughts of suicide flooded her thoughts. But then, she found hope primarily through her Christain faith. Kristen began taking practical steps to live every day intentionally. With renewed joy, she ended up getting off all her antidepressants and pain medications that the doctors told her she would have to take for the rest of her life. Kristen finished her degree, she told her story of recovery on the Oprah Winfrey Show, authored a book titled 'Life in Spite of Me', and started the foundation 'Reaching YOU Ministries' to help prevent teenagers and young adults from attempting suicide. Furthermore, she got married, amazingly had kids, and became a popular speaker at colleges, churches, women's, and youth events. What steps did Kristen take to transition from being a suicidal teenager to taking back her life and becoming a well-accomplished woman? You will find out as you read on. Taking Steps towards Growth After surviving the suicide attempt, Kristen realized that her problems were not external but rather caused by her inability to live with joy from within. Upon this realization, she took the responsibility to consciously take steps to be intentional about her growth and be guided by joy through life. She began to pay attention to everyday moments and decided to make the most of them, rather than just exist on autopilot as most people do. Here are some of the practical steps that Kristen took to make joy the guiding Compass through her journey of recovery, which we all can effectively apply. • 1 Have an Attitude of Gratitude An adage goes "They who are thoughtful will be thankful". The truth is, no matter what situation we all find ourselves in, there are still reasons – even if it's just one – to be grateful, for as long as there is life, there is hope for better days. So, make a list of the things you are grateful for, and you will see that gradually, joy will begin to fill your heart and guide you onto better days. • 2 Focus on self-love The need for self-love and compassion cannot be overemphasized. In fact, I talked about it in last week’s episode 104. Value and take proper care of yourself. Know that you deserve good things and celebrate your wins, no matter how small they seem. Appreciate and do something special for yourself every day. It doesn't have to be a big thing. Your self-love may be just a walk around the block or gazing up at the stars at night. You can grow into bigger ones from these small steps as things fall into place and joy begins to flow from within. • 3 Be compassionate and give to others One potent means of securing joy is by making others joyful in whatever little ways you can. You receive more of what you give, and you should realize that you always have something to offer to make others feel joy and kindness. When you see the smile on the face of someone you're helping, it just makes it all worth it. This will stir a good feeling in you and naturally make you a more joyful person. • 4 Exercise Exercising is one underrated activity that can help one become happier. Several studies have shown that exercise increases endorphins, dopamine, adrenaline, and endocannabinoid – brain chemicals associated with feeling happy, feeling confident, feeling capable, and improving one’s body's overall wellbeing. Recognize the value of this beneficial physical activity and participate in it to improve your mood and infuse joy into your life. • 5 Get out in nature By stepping out into nature and appreciating all the beautiful things that exist, you get to see life from a much bigger and broader perspective. Activities such as taking a walk through the park, sitting and watching birds fly, hiking mountains, and visiting the beach can be very relaxing and contribute to you becoming a joyful person. Engage in them and see just how valuable they can be to your growth. • 6 Build new habits around things you enjoy Whether it's painting, playing an instrument, listening to music, playing games, or dancing, spend some quality time on activities that you enjoy and that make you happy. By doing so, your mood will constantly improve and you will begin to express joy from within. • 7 Get out of your Comfort Zone Comfort is a major road block that stops people from experiencing real joy is that holding back from reaching for more in life and remaining where they are. You need to step outside of the status quo and aim for great things. By doing so, you will gain new experiences and become better. Even if things don't work out as you picture them to, you will get the joy that comes from trying, knowing you did your best and dared to reach for more. • 8 Surround yourself with optimistic people Whether we like it or not, we are naturally influenced by the friends we keep and the people we constantly interact with. Therefore, you must spend your time only with people who have a positive mindset and outlook on life in seeking joy. These are the people who will encourage you and keep you accountable through your journey towards having a joyful life. Overcoming Obstacles Through Joy The journey towards letting go of past trauma and becoming a joyful person can be an arduous task, especially when the hurt has been continually recalled in one’s memory, which leads to the thought sinking into the subconscious. In getting over your hurtful past, you need to focus entirely on the little steps forward, and build successively on each, while trying your best not to keep looking back at the past – you’re not going that way after all. Oprah Winfrey, who was molested during her childhood, once said, "Turn your wounds into wisdom." Born in rural poverty and raised by a mother dependent on government welfare payments in a poor urban neighborhood, Winfrey learned to rise above her past and grow to become a well-accomplished woman and the greatest black philanthropist in U.S. history. You need to realize that your hurt can make you stronger and better if you learn the lessons from them and use them to help yourself and others avoid whatever led to the situation or encourage others in similar conditions and circumstances. One important thing you also need is support from others. Healing cannot be done in isolation. Expose your challenges to someone you can confide in, who will encourage you and keep you accountable through your journey towards healing. Notably, the place of your spirituality and faith goes a long way, just as it did for Kristen Anderson, whose Christian faith helped her find meaning and purpose after her attempted suicide. Believing in a supreme being whose knowledge and power surpasses every earthly possibility helps us tap into the divine, giving us the much-needed strength and grace to overcome challenges. Find your spirituality and stand firm in it. Remember, it is up to you to see that your healing is complete. Build up your mind with positive thoughts by reading encouraging books such as The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren (pivotal in Kristen's healing), listening to positive messages, and interacting with people who will help contribute positively to your growth. Focus on becoming a joyful person, which will eventually become your reality. Living a Joyful Life There are so many rewards and benefits attached to reaching your desired goal of becoming a person who is led through life by Joy. You become a much better, livelier, and healthier person, not just for yourself but for those around you as well. You will better maximize your potential and reach as high as you can dare to dream. There is hope for suffering and hardship to offer growth and understanding in choosing joy. From the experience of suffering, wisdom emerges. When things are going well, we rarely step back and face the brutal reality of what is taking place in our lives. A difficult situation, however, often forces us out of our externally focused state, causing us to reflect inwardly on our experiences. It allows us to see deeply. With joy comes self-esteem and self-respect which can guide you of difficult situations. A life driven and guided by Joy is genuinely fulfilling. When you've started living this life, things will fall into place, and every day becomes one to look forward to. You become strengthened to rise above challenges, and life becomes more meaningful. In all, you will be able to help others, be there for friends and family, and be of immense value to the world at large. As Dutch Catholic priest Henri Nouwen said, "Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day."

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” – Joseph Campbell It was past 6:00 pm on a cold Michigan day, and Kristen Jane Anderson was trudging through the park, tugging at her knit gloves as she set out to end her own life. She was just seventeen […]

How to Teach Yourself Self Love

Black woman in multi-color dress practicing self love

“In these bodies, we will live; in these bodies, we will die. Where you invest your love, you invest your life.” – Mumford & Sons. This line is one of the most potent lyrics the band has ever written, inspiring this article on self love. I love this lyric from Mumford and Sons because it […]

How Your Environment Impacts Your Growth

Picture of kids in a classroom whose environment is impacting their growth

 Have you ever been in situations or places where you know deep within yourself that you could be achieving much more than you are but fail to do so because of the prevailing conditions of your environment and the people around you? Do you sometimes feel like things would be much better if only you […]

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