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Your talent lies in your choice - Stella Adler

>> 29 December 2008

Asking questions are the most important first steps to positive changes in the development of your talent, your career.  The act of asking questions sets our course to investigate, explore, wonder, and do.

Questioning stimulates action. 
Questions enhance our choices, and our results. 

So find out what's on your mind. Look at a problem, a path you consider, a goal you are looking for and ask yourself many questions. Look at it from many different angles, points of view. 
Pretend to be someone else, say your complete opposite, and think about what such a person would choose. How does that make you feel? Does it confirm your choice or make you doubt?

Choice is nothing else than the chisel we use to sculpt our life. Every choice we make takes us closer to or further away from our goals.

As Harry Emerson Fosdick wrote, "He who chooses the beginning of a road, chooses the place it leads to. It is the means that determine the end."

Sometimes, when we get to a fork in our road, we will find that one of the paths is easy to take. But that may be the only good thing about it. Is it a path of temptation? Or is it a noble path?

Besides smart versus stupid and good versus bad choices, there is also the choice of non-action. If we don't make a choice, we do nothing. And we have to be aware that it is our decision to do nothing. We give over to fate to sculpt our life instead of shaping it ourselves.

We have to ask ourselves whether we can do this or whether we just want it because we are tempted? We have to always look for the good. No life is so difficult that it cannot be made better by changing and improving our attitude. Because if we cannot change the circumstances, we can always change ourselves.

When we make a choice, do we make it out of habit, for instant rewarding or is it really a conscious choice, made especially for that occasion and reason? It is not always easy. The journal Nature suggests that in order to explore new and potentially rewarding options, the brain has to override the desire for immediate profit. Do you want to wait 10 minutes to eat two cookies or do you want one cookie now?
Having a cookie now caters to the immediate desire for pleasure, but waiting a little bit for the two cookies may be the more logical, most rewarding option.
"By exploring, we are forgoing the comfortable option in order to do something that might be better in the long run." says Nathaniel Daw,  co-author of the study.


Read also an earlier post of mine on Choices are luxuries - or are they?

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To be an artist...

>> 28 December 2008


"To be an artist, it is not necessary to make a living from our creations. It is necessary to live with our eyes wide open, to breathe in the colors of the mountain and sky, to know the sound of leaves rustling, the smell of snow, the texture of bark. To be an artist is to notice every beautiful and tragic thing. To cry freely. To collect experiences and shape them into forms that can be of use. It is not to whine about not having time, but to be creative with every moment. To be an artist is not to wait for others to define us, but to define ourselves, to claim our lives." 


Jan Phillip, author of "Marry Your Muse: Making a Lasting Commitment to Your Creativity"

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My blog is over the top

>> 27 December 2008

Although I never really got into and understood the point of Blog awards, I was quite happy and surprised to receive my first one by Vanessa of The Complicated Chatters and Paperback Designs.



So thanks Vanessa. Of course she thinks my blog has an exceptional design: she made it. So if you like my template and are looking for a new one, visit her at Paperback Designs.

So I would like to pass on the award to 5 exceptional blogs which I read on a regular basis and which I encourage you to visit:
  1. Christine Kane
  2. Lance at Jungle of Life
  3. Marelisa's Abundance Blog
  4. Indie at The Synchronicity of Indeterminacy
  5. The Pioneerwoman
These people are responsible for my spending too much time on the internet :-) Thanks you guys for always catching my attention with very mindful posts, photos etc. 

To receive this award your blog must be exceptional in design and content; presenting us with new knowledge, a sense of style, or at times just giving us a smile!

Each recipient of the award will acknowledge the person who honored them with the award and then go to http://overthetopaprons.blogspot.com to copy/paste the award : Your Blog is Over The Top. (located on the right sidebar, scroll down)



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Biking around the world to plant trees

>> 21 December 2008


Christmas is around the corner and it is time to present another mindful person in this season of giving and thanking. 

Have a look at the site of  Mohamad Tajeran at We Need Trees.
He is cycling around the world to plant a tree in each country that he passes. Apparently that is not always as easy at it seems.

The world needs trees. Way to go Mohamad!

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Do schools kill creativity?

>> 20 December 2008

Grab a coffee, sit down and relax and watch Sir Ken Robinson tell you all about creativity and the pitfalls of the future we have to steer clear from.




This speech and many other inspiring video's can be found on TED.
I found this on Zenstorming which has many interesting posts.

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Love is...

>> 19 December 2008


Couple therapist Harville Hendrix has established 10 rules that allow us to advance on the road to true love.


  1. Realize that our love relationship has a hidden agenda: heal both our childhood wounds

  2. Try to approach the truth of our partner by getting rid of our illusions and projections

  3. Communicate our needs and desires to our partner

  4. Make sure we 'build' our relationship and work at it every day

  5. Understand that the desires and needs of our partner are as important as our own

  6. Learn to know our dark side in order not to project it on our partner

  7. Have confidence in the other and abandon our self destructive tactics

  8. Find in ourselves the strengths and aptitudes that we are missing and no wait for the other to fill or complete them

  9. Love unconditionally

  10. Accept the difficulty of true love

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10 ideas, 10 convictions - part 10

>> 18 December 2008

To 'live a better life' there are a thousand possible ways. French Psychologies Magazine presented 10 strong ideas in its October issue which I would like to share with you, one a day. Please feel free to comment.


Idea 10 - Another medicine is possible

The success of 'alternative' therapies (acupuncture, homeopathy,...) proves it: a new medicine is being born, founded on energy, centered on the individual as well as the illness.


"What I find fascinating in these alternative approaches, is that they use nature's own forces instead of going against them" - David Servan-Schreiber, psychiatrist

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10 ideas, 10 convictions - part 9

>> 17 December 2008

To 'live a better life' there are a thousand possible ways. French Psychologies Magazine presented 10 strong ideas in its October issue which I would like to share with you, one a day. Please feel free to comment.


Idea 9 - Sexuality is invented outside of the norms

Starting from the person one is and the person one has met, far away from the norms of obligatory 'enjoyment', sexuality is a terrain for self expression, open to the 'ressenti*' and respect of the other.

"When one fixes oneself a goal in matters of sexuality, one risks strongly to pass by the pleasure" - Gérard Leleu, sexologist
* «ressenti»: literally, re-senti, re-felt. [The English word ‘resentment’, like the French ressentiment, is much more limited than ressenti, as it only describes the very particular feeling of being against].

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10 ideas, 10 convictions - part 8

>> 16 December 2008

To 'live a better life' there are a thousand possible ways. French Psychologies Magazine presented 10 strong ideas in its October issue which I would like to share with you, one a day. Please feel free to comment.


Idea 8 - A 'radiant' body is better than a perfect one

True beauty is obtained by living harmoniously in one's body, not by submitting it to dictates of a society of appearance, with more and more destructive effects.

"To love what one is, one has to unify with one's body" - Francis Hofstein, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst

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We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment - Hilaire Belloc

>> 15 December 2008

DISTRACTIONS



SEE
Through the slits of my eyes
I see diffraction
fringes of light and dark
flood in as distraction

TOUCH
Muscles in my body
thicken into contraction
when you touch my skin
immediate distraction

HEAR
Trying to concentrate
my ears pick up a fraction
of conversations around
a welcome distraction

TASTE
Someone is talking to me 
I'm in a state of inaction
chocolate in my mouth
melts into distraction

SMELL
Thinking of tomorrow
something triggers reaction
the smell of cut grass
grows into distraction



(c) Mindful Mimi - December 2008
Thanks to  for prompting this poem on the theme of Distractions.

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10 ideas, 10 convictions - part 7

To 'live a better life' there are a thousand possible ways. French Psychologies Magazine presented 10 strong ideas in its October issue which I would like to share with you, one a day. Please feel free to comment.


Idea 7 - Body and spirit are one

Medicine rediscovers it: man is not separated in two, the body can influence the psyche and vice versa. The effects of meditation on health, of relaxation on stress, of physical exercise on depression are witnesses of it.

"One thinks as much with one's skin than with one's brain" - Sophie Marinopoulos, psychoanalyst

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10 ideas, 10 convictions - part 6

>> 14 December 2008

To 'live a better life' there are a thousand possible ways. French Psychologies Magazine presented 10 strong ideas in its October issue which I would like to share with you, one a day. Please feel free to comment.


Idea 6 - Learn to live the present moment

It is the ultimate goal of meditation, of all self improvement: calm the inner discourse made of souvenirs, projections and desires of the future, to live one's presence in this world fully, here and now.

"The truth will not come, it is here and now" - Swami Prajnanpad, philosopher

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10 ideas, 10 convictions - part 5

>> 13 December 2008

To 'live a better life' there are a thousand possible ways. French Psychologies Magazinepresented 10 strong ideas in its October issue which I would like to share with you, one a day. Please feel free to comment.


Idea 5 - Giving a sense to one's life is essential


Remember why we are living, living in accord with oneself , one's values and essential desires, help oneself with philosophy, cultivate one's spirituality... many roads towards self realization.

"It is not life that needs to have a sense, it is the sense that needs to be lived" - André Comte-Sponville, philosopher

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10 ideas, 10 convictions - part 4

>> 12 December 2008

To 'live a better life' there are a thousand possible ways. French Psychologies Magazinepresented 10 strong ideas in its October issue which I would like to share with you, one a day. Please feel free to comment.


Idea 4 - Being a parent is something you learn


The landmarks of parental authority have exploded. Not always having received the keys, young parents today need to think about their own childhood and about the values they want to transmit.

"Educate a child, is teaching him to become a 'civilized' being" - Claude Halmos, psychoanalyst

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10 ideas, 10 convictions - part 3

>> 11 December 2008

To 'live a better life' there are a thousand possible ways. French Psychologies Magazinepresented 10 strong ideas in its October issue which I would like to share with you, one a day. Please feel free to comment.


Idea 3 - Love is built

Love is learned. Yes, love is a learning ground and not a given. Besides attraction and seduction, it is about learning to know the other and to harmonize a relationship which, by definition, is always in movement.

"We are the architects of our couple" - Salomon Nasielski, psychologist and psychotherapist

Read more...

10 ideas, 10 convictions - part 2

>> 10 December 2008

To 'live a better life' there are a thousand possible ways. French Psychologies Magazinepresented 10 strong ideas in its October issue which I would like to share with you, one a day. Please feel free to comment.



Idea 2 - Self esteem is the basis of everything


Learning to love oneself allows one to love others. When the self esteem grows, one can liberate oneself of crutches that artificially serve to stay erect (compulsive buys, strong emotions, alcohol...) and open up to those around one.

"One has to accept one's fragility to be able to meet the other" - Marie-France Hirigoyen, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst

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10 ideas, 10 convictions - part 1

>> 9 December 2008

To 'live a better life' there are a thousand possible ways. French Psychologies Magazine presented 10 strong ideas in its October issue which I would like to share with you, one a day. Please feel free to comment.




Idea 1 - Everyone can change


Without denying determinism which we underly (genetics, education, social status...), but on the contrary being conscious of it, we can all become actor of our life and pass over our wounds. Therapy, philosophy, spirituality, introspection... we have enough tools.
"To change, means to first of all change the point of view" - Jean-Bertrand Pontalis, philosopher and psychoanalyst

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To be on Facebook or not to be on Facebook... Part 2

>> 8 December 2008


After having written about my doubts with regard to being on Facebook for real, I just wanted to share with you a few articles and two video's (video's in French only...)
To me it is not the same as blogging and maybe I am fooling myself. So be it.

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I am serious, so I laugh a lot. You need to laugh. You don't laugh enough. I don't trust anyone who doesn't laugh. - Maya Angelou

>> 4 December 2008


They say laughter is the best medicine. 


So today I want to invite you to have a good laugh and feel better. 
Go to Parental Instincts and laugh with the funniest babies on the web. 
Trust me, you will hold your belly. I especially love little Theo - he is so contagious.

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Thou shalt not voodoo...

>> 3 December 2008


At the beginning of October K&B started commercializing a voodoo doll made in the image of French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. It comes with a manual that gives tips on how and where to plant your pins to put a curse on him.


The Prime Minister apparently did not think this was funny (as opposed to Ségolène Royal - Sarkozy's socialist rival - whose doll was also put on the market and who did not sue but took this with humor) and took legal action to get the dolls taken back from the market. He demanded a ban, arguing that he owns the right to his image and had never authorized the doll

A court in Paris, however, threw out the request, ruling that the doll was protected by what it called "the right to humor". The dolls continue to be sold with a label stating that they are 'offensive to the president'.

The doll has since become a best-selling cult item and the news has seized on the news as a welcome distraction from the declining economy.

Funnily enough, when Sarkozy was interior minister in 2006, he defended the right of newspapers to publish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that offended many Muslims.

With his behavior he has only added to the success of the product and made himself a bit ridiculous. Imagine if Bush had to sue everyone using his face for humor and satire....

And what would a psychologist say about this reaction?

Read more...

Recession? What recession? Got 20 million? Let's have a party!

>> 25 November 2008

Last week was the grand opening of the Atlantis, The Palm Hotel in Dubai. The resort, built by gaming and resort magnate Sol Kerzner, cost 1.5 billion to build. The opening was an exclusive party for 2000 guests from all over the world and catered spectacular fireworks and a private concert by Kylie Minogue (and many other superlatives). Apparently Kerzner's core value number one is "Blow away your customer". Well I guess he literally did that by blowing away 20 million $.


I am just stunned. I mean, I like a good party, but 20 million $??? Hello?
So much for helping to reduce poverty. 
So much for saving energy.
So much for being ecologically conscious.
I wouldn't even want to attend such a party and I just lost a tad of respect for the people who did.

There, just needed to get that off my chest...

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The great cathedral space which was childhood - Virginia Woolf

>> 24 November 2008


Childhood

Endless space and time
all trees are there to climb

Unconditional love and trust
every no feels so unjust

Outdoors and in the woods
weekends full of baked goods

Summer holidays last forever
oh we think we are so clever

Sleeping on the floor in grandma's house
talking even though the lights are doused

Spending entire days in the local pool
and it is fun to learn things in school

Campfires and sausages on a stick
television and soup when we're sick

Discovering the magic of reading a book
the need to create a personal nook

Stories at bedtime and playing with dad
everything is just fun to be had

Without notice innocence is replaced by knowledge
the power of time and change we have to acknowledge

Oh the wise who know how to remain
that child that lived life without a strain


(c) Mindful Mimi - November 2008
Thanks to  for prompting this poem on the theme of Childhood Memories.

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Sometimes the biggest act of courage is a small one - Lauren Raffo

>> 20 November 2008


It takes courage
to be yourself
to be different

in the face of
Intolerance
and despite
Prejudice

I takes courage
to drop your defenses
to take off your mask

held back by
Fright
or led by
Compliance

It takes courage
to open up
to let someone in

afraid to get
Hurt
or retained by
Pride

Be brave
a little
every day
Have the courage to
Be you!


(c) Mindful Mimi - November 2008
Thanks to  for prompting this poem on the theme of COURAGE.

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A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues - Marcus Tullius Cicero

>> 19 November 2008


I am currently reading The Secret.  As usual, I start to doubt such books because I both hate and like them and I cannot conceive the fact of hatred and liking at the same time. But I am thinking happy thoughts, and I am being thankful every day for what I have. So I wanted to make a list and invite you to make one too.


I am thankful for:
  • being me.
  • being alive and healthy.
  • having a wonderful, loving and understanding husband who makes me happy and complete, who supports me, tells me what he thinks, tells me to hold it when I need to hear it...
  • having two wonderful little boys who are beautiful and healthy and are the joy of my life.
  • having healthy, imperfect parents who are still able to shower their love on our kids
  • having a large extended family spread all over the world
  • living in a country without war and that is safe
  • living in the countryside and being able to snuff in the good that nature does
  • having a wonderful, big house that fits our needs and wishes
  • having a big garden for our boys to play in
  • having a job that pays the bills
  • speaking lots of languages which has often gotten me a job and lets me communicate with people
  • having friends that are there for me when I need them and even when I don't need them, that I trust and that trust me
  • being able to create (paint, take pictures, sing, write)
  • being wiser than I was before
  • owning a car that doesn't stutter on a cold morning
  • being able to hug my loved ones and see them as often as I want
  • being able to hear, smell, see, feel, taste
  • being able and enjoying working out
...to be continued...

So what are you thankful for today?


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Painting is just another way of keeping a diary - Pablo Picasso

>> 18 November 2008



Well, this would be my diary entry for the day then. 
I started thinking about painting. Then I thought, well that isn't working. And I just did what I was thinking about. It also helped that I had some old seed pods from Guadeloupe lying around... And the painting from my post before got me inspired.

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Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky - Rabindranath Tagore

FLOATING

Morning run
sweating, alert body
looking at an empty day ahead

Shower
Water trickling, cleansing
quietness taking over

Happily floating
mind wandering
watching the rain outside

Feeling happiness
taking over
floating through my body

Reading, writing
empty mind
feeling at ease, floating

(c) Mindful Mimi - November 2008
Thanks to Weekend Wordsmith for triggering this post about Floating.

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EU's bureaucracy keeps money away from developing countries

>> 13 November 2008


A recent Reuters article mentioned a European Commission proposal to give 1 billion Euros that are left over from the European budget to struggling farmers in the developing world.
The article continues:"But the proposal has run into trouble as European Union lawmakers and governments said the bloc's executive did not choose the right budgetary procedure."

Is the political process just an excuse? Do you think people in developing countries care that the EU is bogged down in bureaucracy and worry about which budget this should be booked under?

Read more at One.org and help getting this money directed into the right hands by joining ONE and sending a letter to your country's leader.

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Believe in your dreams and they may come true; believe in yourself and they will come true

>> 12 November 2008

One of my readers, Lance at The Jungle of Life, pointed me to the video below and made me discover the very special person that is Nick Vujicic. Nick, a now 26 year old Australian, was born without arms and legs. He has turned around what looked likely to become a sad and difficult life and is touring the world to inspire and motivate people from all walks of life.

“People say to me, ‘How can you smile?’” he says. “Then they realize ‘there’s got to be something more to life than meets the eye if a guy without arms and legs is living a fuller life than I am.’” 

He challenges the way people see themselves. He asks them to change their perspective: on life, on themselves, on others. Circumstances are just that, circumstances. One should look beyond them. Obstacles are not problems but opportunities to grow. Attitude is the most powerful tool we have. Happiness does not come from temporary things. Because the happiness that does is just that, temporary.


For his website go to Life without Limbs.
Fore more inspirational video's, click here.

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How to write the perfect blog post...

>> 11 November 2008


You can write a blog post about anything and you may even find a few readers. 

But what makes a blog post GOOD? Below a few tips:

  1. Keep it 'close to you'. Talk about the things you know, you live, you have experience yith. That way things don't sound too forced.
  2. Start your column with a strong sentence, a bold statement that wakes up the reader. At the end of your story you come back to this teaser and to 'round it off'.
  3. Write short sentences.
  4. Exaggerate - a little.
  5. Kill your darlings: your text may become better if you leave that gorgeous first sentence out. And is that one anecdote really necessary to the story? Be critical and dare to throw things away.
  6. Stick to one subject. Avoid telling your whole day. Stick to that one funny or annoying detail and pump it up.


As Lore Sjöberg puts it: 
Creating your own blog is about as easy as creating your own urine, and you're about as likely to find someone else interested in it. 

And don't forget:
Blogging is not about writing brilliant pieces of literature or journalism. It's about getting information out to your client while using your natural voice, and doing it in a way that doesn't take a lot of time from your normal schedule. - Brian Brown

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Are you a control freak?

>> 10 November 2008


Below you will find a few statements. Tick the ones which apply to you.

  • I make lists of about every aspect of my life
  • I don't like it when people touch my things
  • I hate to wait for someone who is late for an appointment
  • In case of an argument or discussion, I am usually convinced that my opinion is the correct one
  • If I want something to be done right, I do it myself
  • I get uneasy on 'empty' vacation days and am mostly the one who makes the plans and proposes fun activities
  • I would feel awkward if someone organized a surprise party for me
  • I feel upset if people do not follow my advice
  • I become testy from the mess of other people
  • When I watch television with other people, I usually hold the remote control
  • Others are usually less demanding than I am
  • I find it difficult to delegate. And when I do, I explain how the work should be done
  • When I organize a dinner, I prefer my guests to stay out of the kitchen and do not want them to clean or start doing the dishes
  • If a friend tells me she wants to start doing yoga, I start looking for the best and most suitable classes for her
  • I always take notes at meetings, even when someone else writes the minutes
  • I rarely take a ride with other people; I prefer to drive myself

How often did you say 'yes'?

  • From 0 to 5 times: you are ok. You have gusts of controlling behavior, but in a healthy way. If you hardly ticked any of the above statements, you should probably watch out not to let others take over.
  • From 6 to 10 times: you are in the danger zone. Stand still a little more often to look at your behavior and thought patterns. Ask yourself the question: what would happen if I did not do this? If you want to change the direction, use the 6-steps plan below.
  • More than 10 times: you are a real control freak. And you know it, also because people point it out to you. If you do not succeed in letting go on your own, call in the help of a psychologist or therapist.

Learn to let go in 6 steps:

  1. Select on of the most controlling behaviors from the above test and 'abstain' for one month. If you usually take notes during meetings, try to consciously NOT taking them. Do you get nervous, are you able to concentrate less, are you afraid to forget something? That is an indication that something needs to change. Stick to it for a month, that is the minimum term to break with a habit.
  2. Control freaks usually do not control a certain facet of their own life. Their perfectionism is a diversionary tactic to control the inner chaos. Ask yourself how this is with you and where your controlling behavior can originate from.
  3. Tell your partner and good friends that you would like to become less controlling in the near future and ask them to help you. Check with them in which situations you suffer from controlling behavior and when it bothers them also. Ask them to point out to you - in a friendly and constructive manner - when "you're at it again".
  4. Start small. What may be a futility to someone else, like living without a watch, can be groundbreaking for you. The good thing about starting small is that you get immediate rewards. You feel more relaxed and get more self confidence - which makes it easier to continue.
  5. Stop being overly helpful. In the long run this only leads to frustration and turns people away from you. Because what you really want - influence the behavior of others - does not work. Live and let live, that is the message. Respect others' choices and solve people's problems not for them but with them. 
  6. Remember: letting go of control from time to time really does not mean that you will loose your identity or come across as weak. You only become a more pleasant person. And also: the opposite of control is trust. Not only in yourself, but also in other people and in the future.
Freely translated from Libelle magazine

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