A Psychiatric Diagnosis Primer: an easy guide to identifying psychiatric illness. For the first time since the release of the first edition of the DSM and other books on psychiatric diagnosis, you, the therapist, teacher, student, non psychiatric medical professional, parents, employer, business owner, etc., will be able to identify psychiatric problems and presenting psychiatric issues in the general population with my easy to use, easy to read book, A Psychiatric Diagnosis Primer. Although the book is not intended to turn you into a professional psychiatric diagnostician, you will have the knowledge at hand to recognize and identify individual psychological issues and problems. No matter who you are, professional or layperson, the ability to recognize psychiatric problems and issues is now at your fingertrips. A Psychiatric Diagnosis Primer: an easy guide to identifying psychiatric illness will assist you in any environment, professional or personal, and help you to recognize and understand the behavior of those around you. Even if you decided to skip the introduction of my book– please do not skip the Warning in the front of the book–you will quickly understand my simple and easy way to use A Psychiatric Diagnosis Primer: an easy guide to identifying psychiatric illness/2004.

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Movies for those Suffering from Breakups:


10 different reasons for breakups. The most common reason was that the couple had different levels of attachment to each other. Other reasons included differences in personal values, long distance, having a third person in the relationship, incompatibility of temperament, different level of engagement in the relationship, different expectations and needs, disagreement of the parents, lacking sufficient time to be with each other. The interviewees together reported 18 different types of emotional disturbances. The most common one was the feeling of emptiness from breakups. Other reasons, selectively, included guilt for proposing the breakup, anxiety from the inability to concentrate, anger and desire for revenge, anxiety from the disordered life after breakup, alienation from the other sex, pressures from parents, fear for the next possible relationship, sadness and perplexity for not knowing what caused the breakup, low self-esteem, etc. The paper offers a detailed analysis about each interviewee’s experience of identification, catharsis, and insight while he/she viewed the movie. Table 1 summarizes the emotional disturbances and the movies shown to have corresponding emotional healing efficacy to the viewers.

Table 1. Interviewees’ Emotional Disturbances and Movies with Emotional Healing Efficacy Interviewee Reasons for breakup and types of emotional disturbance Movie title

A Breakup reason unknown, long distance; perplexity and sadness (My BlueberryNights)

B Different levels of attachment, long distance; guilt for proposing the breakup (Before Sunrise) 

C Disagreement of parents; dejection and sadness (Le Divorce)

D Different levels of attachment and needs, breakup reason unknown; perplexity, sadness, emptiness (High Fidelity)

E Different levels of attachment, having a third person in the relationship; emptiness, low self-esteem, anxiety, anger, restlessness The Most Distant Course

F Having a third person in the relationship; anxiety, restlessness, worriment, anger Under the Tuscan Sun

G Different expectations and personal values; guilt from proposing the breakup, alienation from the other sex Where the Heart Is

H Different expectations and needs; emptiness, low self-esteem, anxiety, anger (500) Days of Summer

I Long distance and having a third person in the relationship; emptiness, fear, worriment, anxiety, restlessness, anger The First Wives Club

J Differences in values, incompatibility of temperament, different levels of engagement; emptiness, anxiety, fear, restlessness, alienation from the other sex Music and Lyrics

K Different levels of attachment and engagement, having a third person in the relationship; anxiety, loss, anger, alienation from the other sex Before Sunset

L Different levels of attachment, incompatibility of temperament; sadness, anxiety The War of the Roses M Different levels of attachment, different personal values and expectations, incompatibility of temperament, lacking sufficient time; guilt for proposing the breakup, restlessness, fear for the next possible relationship Prime

N Different levels of attachment; guilt for proposing the breakup, sadness, anxiety, loss


The list of initially selected movies English title Language Length (min.) Year of release

Funny Girl English 155 1968

The War of the Roses English 116 1989

Before Sunrise English 105 1995

The First Wives Club English 104 1996

Where the Heart Is English 120 2000

High Fidelity English 113 2000

Unfaithful English 124 2002

Under the Tuscan Sun English 113 2003

Le Divorce French/English 117 2003

Before Sunset English 80 2004

Prime English 106 2005

Brokeback Mountain English 134 2005

Sad Movie Korean 108 2005

Elizabethtown English 123 2005 The

Break Up English 113 2006

The Holiday English 135 2006

Music and Lyrics English 105 2007

My Blueberry Nights English 93 2007

The Most Distant Course Chinese 118 2007

The Love of Siam Thai 157 2007 (500)

Days of Summer English 95 2009


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Bibliotherapy: The right book at the right time. Bloomington, IN: Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation. Dermer, S. B., & Hutchings, J. B. (2000).

Utilizing movies in family therapy: Applications for individuals, couples, and families. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 28(2), 163-180. doi: 10.1080/019261800261734 Eğeci, İ. S. (2010).

Utilizing cinematherapy to improve relationship satisfaction: A qualitative study (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey. Gregerson, M. B. (Ed.). (2010).

The cinematic mirror for psychology and life coaching. New York, NY: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4419-1114-8 Hesley, J. W., & Hesley, J. G. (2001).

Rent two films and let’s talk in the morning: Using popular movies in psychotherapy. New York, NY: Wiley. Horenstein, M. A., Rigby, B., Flory, M., & Gershwin, V. (1994).

Reel life, real life: A video guide for personal discovery. Kendall Park, NJ: Fourth Write. Horton, D., & Wohl, R. R. (1956).

Mass communication and para-social interaction: Observations on intimacy at a distance. Psychiatry, 19(3), 215-229. Jones, C. (2009).

Cinematherapy: History, theory, and guidelines. Retrieved from http://www. Karlinsky, H. (2003).

Doc Hollywood north: Part II. The clinical applications of movies in psychiatry. Canadian Psychiatric Association Bulletin, 35(2), 14-16. Knickerbocker, J. F., Jr. (2009).

Toward improving the film selection process in cinematherapy (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Fielding Graduate University, California. Lenkowsky, R. S. (1987).

Bibliotherapy: A review and analysis of the literature. The Journal of Special Education, 21(2), 123- 132. doi: 10.1177/002246698702100211 Levinson, D. J., Darrow, C. N., Klein, E. B., Levinson, M. L., & Mckee, B. (1978).

The seasons of a man’s life. New York, NY: Knopf. Madison, R. J., & Schmidt, C. (2001).

Talking pictures: A parents’ guide to using movies to discuss ethics, values and everyday problems with children. London, England: Running. Marsick, E. (2009).

Cinematherapy with preadolescents experiencing parental divorce: A collective case study (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Lesley University, Massachusetts. Minow, N. (2004).

The movie mom’s guide to family movies (2nd ed.). Lincoln, NE: iUniverse. Nikkhah, R. (2005).

R o y a l C o l l e g e o f Psychiatrists backs film therapy. Retrieved from uknews/1485028/Royal-College-ofPsychiatrists-backs-film-therapy.html 56 圖書資訊學刊  第14卷 第2期 (2016.12)

Nugent, S. A., & Shaunessy, E. (2003). Using film in teacher training: Viewing the gifted through different lenses. Roeper Review, 25(3), 128-135. doi: 10.1080/02783190309554214 Pardeck, J. T., & Pardeck, J. A. (1993).

Bibliotherapy: A clinical approach for helping children. Langhorne, PA: Gordon and Breach Science. P e a k e, T. H. (2004). C i n e m a a n d l i f e development: Healing lives and training therapists. Westport, CO: Praeger. Portadin, M. A. (2006).

The use of popular f i l m i n p s y c h o t h e r a p y : I s t h e re a “cinematherapy”? (Doctoral dissertation, Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology). Retrieved from http:// Portadin-dissertation.pdf Powell, M. L. (2008).

Cinematherapy as a clinical intervention: Theoretical rationale and empirical credibility (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses A&I. (UMI No. 3341245) Rubin, R. J. (1978).

Using bibliotherapy: A guide to theory and practice. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx. Sestir, M., & Green, M. C. (2010).

You are who you watch: Identification and transportation effects on temporary selfconcept. Social Influence, 5(4), 272-288. doi: 10.1080/15534510.2010.490672 Shrodes, C. (1949).

B i b l i o t h e r a p y : A theoretical and clinical-experimental study (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of California, Berkeley. Solomon, G. (1995).

The motion picture prescription: Watch this movie and call me in the morning. Santa Rosa, CA: Aslan. Solomon, G. (2001).

Reel therapy: How movies inspire you to overcome life’s problems. New York, NY: Lebhar-Friedman. Solomon, G. (2005).

Cinemaparenting: Using movies to teach life’s most important lessons. Fairfield, CT: Aslan. Stephens, J. W. (1981). A

practical guide to the use and implementation of bibliotherapy. Great Nick, NY: Todd & Honeywell. Sturdevant, C. G. (1998).

The laugh & cry movie guide: Using movies to help yourself through life’s changes. Larkspur, CA: Lightsphere. Sturm, B. W. (2003).

Reader’s advisory and bibliotherapy: Helping or healing? Journal of Educational Media and Library Sciences, 41(2), 171-179. Wolz, B. (2005).

E-Motion picture magic: A movie lover’s guide to healing and transformation. Centennial, CO: Glenbridge. Wolz, B. (2010).

Cinema as alchemy for healing and transformation: Using the power of films in psychotherapy and coaching. In M. B. Gregerson (Ed.), The cinematic mirror for psychology and life coaching (pp. 201-225). New York, NY: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4419-1114-8_11 Wooder, B. (2008).

Movie therapy: How it changes lives. London, England: Rideau Lakes.


10 Movies That Teach Important Life Lessons

Films that thrill us or make us laugh may impress mainstream audiences, but the best releases are more than just entertaining on a surface level. These films teach important life lessons in addition to entertaining, the latter being a feat that some of the most reviled films ever made can’t even accomplish. The appeal of these superior films extends to a narrative subtext that has something worthwhile to say about human nature, society, and how we can become better people over time. Of course, art forms like film are always subjective, and these messages will often dictate which films connect with various members of the audience, even on a subconscious level.


We typically think of inspirational films in more traditional terms. Films like Dead Poets SocietyForrest Gump, and The Pursuit of Happyness make their messages explicit throughout, but even releases that one wouldn’t expect to have something meaningful at its core often do. For this list, we’re focusing specifically on films that aren’t typically considered message driven but that keep their core lessons inherent to the story at hand regardless.

1. Don’t commandeer another culture — The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

The Nightmare Before Christmas | Source: Disney

At first this Tim Burton produced stop-motion animated film may just appear to be a part cheery, part gloomy musical about a fantasy world in which every holiday has its own land. However, it’s really about the chaos that ensues when even well-intentioned individuals try to interpret another’s culture and end up forcing their own perspective on the unsuspecting public. Give it another watch.


2. Families take all forms — Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

Mrs. Doubtfire | Source: Fox

This one is perhaps the most blatant on this list, as Robin Williams’s character essentially spells it out in the film’s final moments. Nevertheless, seeing as the film is often remembered as a wacky cross-dressing comedy and not one with so much heart behind it, we’re comfortable putting it on this list. The fact that the Chris Columbus film is largely family-friendly makes its message even more powerful.


3. Be honest with people you care about — Liar Liar(1997)

Jim Carrey in Liar Liar | Source: Universal Pictures

Jim Carrey cannot lie in this Tom Shadyac comedy hit, but aside from the hilarity that ensues as a result, the film is really a commentary on how we all have to put up a front and adjust our behavior in certain contexts, such as at work or when being pulled over by a police officer. Still, the film’s message — that we should be our open, authentic selves with the people we love, if no one else — is a worthy one that should be celebrated.


4. Open yourself up to new possibilities — The Matrix(1999)

Keanu Reeves in The Matrix | Source: Warner Bros.

Neo (Keanu Reeves) enters a dystopian future wherein machines have enslaved the mind of humanity, thanks to a virtual reality program that keeps mankind firmly in the dark about the nature of reality. There’s plenty of thematic juice in this Wachowski sci-fi classic, but the most basic message is one that Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) teaches Neo early on. Keep your mind open to new possibilities, and don’t be complacent with your humdrum life. “Free your mind.”


5. Understand your own mind — Memento (2000)

Guy Pearce in Memento | Source: Newmarket Capital Group

Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece purports to be a neo-noir mystery about a man with severe memory problems (Guy Pearce) who aims to solve his wife’s murder. However, the film’s final moments reveal a remarkable twist that calls into question our own understanding of ourselves and the world around us, encouraging viewers to strive for a better sense of self-awareness regarding our own thoughts and behavior.


6. We’re stronger together — The Incredibles (2004)

The Incredibles | Source: Disney/Pixar

For an animated film, the theme behind Brad Bird’s beloved tale of a family of super-powered individuals doesn’t necessarily break any new ground with its message of unity within a family unit. Nevertheless, the central device — which uses a superhero story to break down themes of infidelity, isolation, and trust — is so expertly well done that few family films since The Incredibles have reached its level.


7. Respect yourself and take responsibility — Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

Michael Cera in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World | Source: Universal Pictures

Edgar Wright’s film may have been a box office flop, but its cult following seems to understand that this adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comics has more on its mind than spastic comedy and video game conventions. Michael Cera’s character has a lot of growing up to do and by battling the literal demons of his beloved’s (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) past, he finds that to be with her and earn inner peace, he must gain the “power of self-respect” and learn to take responsibility for his actions. Deep stuff for a film with such an off-the-wall premise and tone.


8. Appreciate the present — Midnight in Paris (2011)

Marion Cotillard and Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris | Source: Sony Pictures Classics

In recent years, Woody Allen may not have offered as many masterworks as his early days, but this Oscar-winning story certainly fits the bill. Owen Wilson plays a struggling writer entranced by the 1920s literary heyday of Paris. His passion for the era only grows when his nightly walks lead him inexplicably back in time. The film ultimately makes the point that people tend to romanticize the past at the expense of the present.


9. Don’t blindly chase perfection — The Lego Movie(2014)

The Lego Movie | Source: Warner Bros.

The fact that The Lego Movie wasn’t a terrible film may have impressed audiences and critics alike. However, the film managed to be both a rollicking and hilarious adventure as well as a meaningful story about the dangers of pursuing perfection. Without delving into spoilers, the film shares some thematic ground with darker tales like Black Swan and Whiplash, albeit with a far more optimistic and emotionally resonant outcome.


10. Anyone can be anything — Zootopia (2015)

Zootopia | Source: Disney

Frozen may have been a bigger hit, but Zootopia is the very best non-Pixar Disney animated film since at least The Lion King. Aside from its visual design and sharp script, it’s the film’s message that elevates Zootopia. Early on, lead character Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) — a bunny with dreams of being a cop — states that “anyone can be anything” and that message subsequently expands out into a rich social commentary that breaks down themes of discrimination, racism, and other social stereotypes in genius fashion. Quite the achievement.




13 Inspirational Movies With Important Life Lessons To Learn

(Image: Forrest Gump)

Today’s post is different from the usual. We’re going into the topic of movies — specifically, inspirational movies with meaningful life lessons to learn. Get some popcorn before you continue reading! 😀

To be honest, I don’t watch A LOT of movies. I do love superhero movies (think X-Men, Marvel movies) and romantic comedies (EnchantedEver AfterAnastasia) — the former for its good triumphing over evil and epic humanity-centered messages, the latter for the light-heartedness, humor, and romance. While they’re not exactly in the “inspirational” genre, they are inspiring to me in their own way.

I’ve compiled a list of great inspirational movies with important life lessons to learn. The first part of the post features 13 films complete with trailer, description, and my personal review if I’ve watched that show before. Following that is a simplified list of movies that didn’t make the top 13 but are worth checking out. As there are videos throughout this post, if you’re reading this outside of the blog, click this link to see the full post.

I hate spoilers, so don’t worry — there aren’t any spoilers here. Read without reservation! 😀

Not in order of importance.

1. Bruce Almighty

Bruce Almighty is a fun yet inspiring film with a meaningful message. It’s about a TV reporter (Jim Carrey) who constantly has bad things happening to him. He complains that God is doing a terrible job — at which point God appears to him and offers him all his powers to see if he can do a better job. Along the way, he learns lessons that change his life.

On the whole I think the film can place greater focus on the life lessons — the humor tends to take over the film sometimes, possibly to cater to the mainstream audience. Great weekend film to watch with friends.

[Buy Bruce Almighty on Amazon]

2. The Peaceful Warrior

A friend read my blog when I started it back in 2008, and told me that I had to watch the Peaceful Warrior. He said that many of the things I talk about on PE are similar to the film’s messages. So he shared with me his copy of the movie and I watched it.

Based on Way of The Peaceful Warrior (book), the film features Dan, a student from U.C. Berkeley who has everything a college student could possibly want — looks, fame, great friends, attention from every girl, and talent in his gymnastics, his passion. Yet he’s unhappy, deeply troubled, and has trouble sleeping at night. One night, he meets a guide and his journey of self-discovery begins.

I like the Peaceful Warrior and there are many meaningful messages scattered throughout the show. In fact, I’ve included several dialogue in the movie in my inspiring quotes series. Some of my favorites are:

  • “There is never nothing going on. There are no ordinary moments.”
  • “The ones who are hardest to love are usually the ones who need it the most.”
  • “Death isn’t sad. The sad thing is: most people don’t live at all.”
  • “A warrior is not about perfection or victory or invulnerability. He’s about absolute vulnerability. That is the only true courage.”

While I agree with the overall message of the movie and I feel that there were some great moments (like the rooftop scene), I found the movie quite slow paced and predictable. When I was watching, there were many times when “Socrates” (the guide) said something or revealed a lesson I already knew and already guessed he was going to say (in the same exact words too). I think a large part is because I already came to these conclusions myself before, so I’m just not the right target audience for the movie.

That said, there’s definitely some good stuff in this movie, especially as evidenced by the rave reviews by others. If you’re feeling jaded, losing their passion, or looking for a deeper meaning in life, this movie is a great starting point.

[Buy Peaceful Warrior on Amazon]

3. The Family Man

The Family Man is a comedy drama about a highly successful, single investment banker (Nicholas Cage) who gets to experience how his life would have been if he made a different decision 13 years ago (staying with his girlfriend rather than opting for a high-flying career). It’s a movie that presents a ‘what if I had done this instead?’ scenario and contrasts a life with great wealth and success vs. a quiet family life.

It’s a great movie that gets you thinking about life, though I’m not in exact agreement with the implicit message that life has to be either/or — in this case, either wealth or family, not both. It encourages people to justify not pursuing career/wealth goals because they have a family, or that they shouldn’t pursue love/ have a family because they’re busy with work. Both are achievable — it’s a matter of expanding our capacityprioritizing, and planning.

What I do like is the film gets you thinking about what you’re currently doing in life. If you continue what you’re doing today, where is it going to lead you? Would you have a lifetime of achievements and wealth, but no real friends or loved ones to speak of? Would you have lived a life conforming to norms while never taking action on your goals? A life living for others but not for yourself? Would you be someone bitter at life and at the end of it yourself?

And would this be a life you want? If not, what are you going to do to change this outcome?

Similar movies worth checking: It’s a Wonderful Life (1946 film) and A Christmas Carol. These have same “what if”/ alternate reality scenarios that get you thinking.

[Buy The Family Man on Amazon]

4. Click

Click is about a man (Adam Sandler) who receives a magical remote controller that allows him to rewind, stop, and fast forward through time. He uses it to skip past moments that he finds mundane/boring like family dinner, shower, and sickness. Initially this seems fun, but after a while he realizes that it comes with unexpected consequences — which you have to watch to find out.

Forget the trailer/marketing which comes across as your typical Hollywood slapstick comedy. This really isn’t. At first it may seem like that, but halfway through you realize that there’s something deeper that the film is driving. It gets you thinking about life’s moments and how each moment is no less important than another. IMO, it drives home the message that “every moment is a moment to be lived” more strongly than Peaceful Warrior.

I really, really love this film and highly recommend this to everyone. There is this really moving scene near the end where I cry like crazy every time I watch it. A great plot with a provoking mesage, and humor injected throughout the film to keep it light-hearted. I highly recommend you to watch it. Kudos to Adam Sandler too for his acting. 😀

Here’s a blog post that I wrote, inspired by the lessons in ClickAre You Putting Any Parts of Your Life On Hold?

[Buy Click on Amazon]

5. Forrest Gump

I haven’t watched Forrest Gump before but I’ve heard too many great reviews not to include it in this list. Here’s a summary from Wikipedia:

[Buy Forrest Gump on Amazon]

6. The Secret

The Secret is a self-help film on the Law of Attraction and positive thinking. It’s more of a documentary, not a fictional film. The Law of Attraction (LoA) refers to the idea that both your conscious and subconscious thoughts affect your outcomes in life. The Secret took the world by storm when it was released and has been featured on Oprah, The Ellen Show, Larry King, among countless other mainstream media.

I watched The Secret when it first came out in 2006. At that time I was new to LoA, so learning about it from the show was intriguing. Later on I learned more about LoA from reading blogs and came to appreciate it even more. Basically the concept of LoA synchronizes with many things I’ve come to conclude from my experience, so watching the movie was more like an affirmation for me.

After watching the movie, I felt more conscious than my usual self. Just watching this once once in a while can create an upward shift in your consciousness. Of course, don’t fall into the trap of a self-help junkie — ultimately self-help is meant to accentuate what you’re doing, not replace action taking.

There are many LoA detractors who feel that LoA is a hoax, but I think their criticism comes more from a misunderstanding of how LoA works. LoA isn’t about sitting back and expecting the world to change after you start thinking positive — it’s about thinking positive, taking massive action to realize your goals, and then having reality manifest results because your thoughts and actions are in synchrony. On the other hand, someone who takes lots of action but keeps thinking negatively is self-sabotaging because his thoughts and actions are not in alignment.

There’s also a companion book of same name by Rhonda Byrne. I haven’t read it but I gather it’s similar in message as the film.

[Buy The Secret on Amazon]

7. Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is about an arrogant TV weather man (Bill Murray) who finds himself stuck in a time loop where he keeps repeating the same day over and over. The worse part? He’s the only one who remembers the past day’s events — no one else seems to remember anything! At first he uses this time loop for personal gain. After a while though, he starts to evaluate his life and priorities.

So this movie is a really interesting one. Forget that the reason behind the time loop is never explained, because that’s not the point. Forget that this movie is somewhat old (released in 1993). Groundhog Day has deep messages that may elude you in your first viewing, and the interpretation depends entirely on who’s watching. The movie never actually discusses the lessons it’s trying to drive — rather, they are meant to be implicitly observed and interpreted by you.

Without giving away spoilers, pay attention to Phil Connors’ reaction in every scene and how it changes as the movie progresses. Also, notice how other people’s reactions change based on how he reacts. While Phil keeps reliving each day, you can see that his motivations and hence reactions change throughout the film as he realizes that he’s stuck there no matter what.

What do you do when you have eternity to live? Does Phil ever break out of the loop? Watch and you’ll know.

Someone in a forum likened Phil’s story with the path taken by most humans in life, where they are doomed to repeat certain problems until they attain the revelation to deal with it appropriately. Some likened it with the path of reincarnation, where humans are made to live over and over again until they attain the necessary lesson and ascend in their path. I found both to be very fascinating interpretations that I agree with. In fact I wrote a post about recurring patterns, inspired by Groundhog DayAre You Facing Repeating Patterns in Life?

(By the way, it wasn’t specified in the film but Phil spends 10,000 years in the time loop. That’s a LOT of time to be stuck in a loop!)

[Buy Groundhog Day on Amazon]

8. The Bucket List

The Bucket List is about two terminally ill men (Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman) who cross paths in a hospital after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Through their treatments, they befriend each other. They decide to embark on a trip to fulfill their bucket lists — a list of things they want to do before they die.

I have not watched The Bucket List before but I have read about the concept of the bucket list elsewhere. I personally embrace the idea of having your bucket list and have a few posts on it:

[Buy The Bucket List on Amazon]

9. Space Jam

I watched Space Jam when I was a kid and I continue to enjoy it today. It’s a classic. The story is simple — the bad guys (Monstars) ousts the good guys (Looney Tunes) in a game of basketball at the beginning, after which the Looney Tunes go through arduous training to triumph in the end. Michael Jordan stars as himself where he is “kidnapped” by Looney Tunes to help them succeed.

I know it may seem silly that I’m putting a movie like Space Jam in this list but the winning point of the movie is really its simplicity. It drives home the values of determination, persistence/never giving up, hard work, self-belief, and friendship. I love the opening which shares Jordan’s childhood scene with his Dad, after which it transits to present day Michael. I got goosebumps watching it. R Kelly’s I Believe I Can Fly is the perfect theme song for the movie.

There is a joke about piracy in the middle of the film (when Bugs and Daffy are in Michael’s house) which I lol-ed when I heard it. You have to watch to find out what it is. 😀

[Buy Space Jam on Amazon]

10. The Lion King

The Lion King is an all-time classic and hands down the best hand-drawn animated film of all time. Even with all the 3-D films released today — which are great in their own right — none of them comes close to matching The Lion King in terms of its authentic feel. I remember the very first time I watched The Lion King was in the theaters, right when it got released. I was just 10 years old and my parents brought me and my brother out on a movie outing. Childhood memories! 😀

If you haven’t watched The Lion King before, please rent/buy/borrow a copy and watch it. I’ve probably watched it 6-7 times at least. I never fail to cry during a key scene in the second quarter of the film. I continue to rewatch the film once every few years and continue to be moved each time, because the story just never gets old. It speaks of love, responsibility, courage, and strength.

[Buy The Lion King on Amazon]

11. Pay It Forward

Pay It Forward is about a young boy who creates a good-will movement, where he helps 3 people with something they can’t do themselves. The recipient cannot return the favor and must “pay it forward” by helping 3 other people. The film starts off a little slow, but picks up mid-way. Three-quarters into the film, everything starts to fall into place and the ending is a tear-inducing one. I like how the dots unexpectedly connect throughout the film. It’s a film of kindness, generosity, warmth, and gratitude.

[Buy Pay It Forward on Amazon]

12. The Pursuit of Happyness

The Pursuit of Happyness is about a salesman (Will Smith) who undergoes defeats, challenges and hardship such as his wife leaving him, being rendered homeless, etc. to secure a better living for his son. Throughout his journey, he never once gave up, and stood firm to his goals. The mood of the show is slow and somber, intended for the audience to experience more fully what the character is going through. Besides determination, self-belief, persistence and going after our dreams, the story also speaks strongly of a dad’s love for his child.

If you feel like you’ve been down and out in life and just about had enough of it, you should check out this film. It’s based on Chris Gardner‘s true story.

[Buy The Pursuit of Happyness on Amazon]

13. Yes Man!

This is the same movie that PE reader Fahad watched. Yes Man! is about a bank employee (Jim Carrey) who kept saying no to everything in his life until an experience in a motivational seminar changes him to say Yes! to everything that comes his way.

How many times do you say no in life? Do you shut out opportunities without even realizing? Is it about time you say yes to things that come your way? This inspirational movie will get you thinking.

Of course, there are times when you DO need to learn to say no. Saying no to the things you don’t want, that don’t match up with your ideal life. My article here will teach you how: How to Say No To Others: Your Ultimate Guide

[Buy Yes Man! on Amazon]

More Inspiring Films With Lessons To Learn

  • Shawshank Redemption – A story showing how your hope and outlook in life is what shapes your life experience, regardless of where you may be. It’s quite evident that creators of Prison Break drew inspiration from this film!
  • Locke — This movie is very interesting because the entire show is set inside a car, and shows us what happens to a man as he drives from Birmingham to London, and the 36 phone calls he makes/receives. There is only one actor, Tom Hardy, while the other characters are “heard” through a phone. Locke is a drama film that gives us look into a man’s life over a 2-hour car ride as he makes some of his life’s biggest decisions. While the setup may sound boring, there are actually some tense moments where you feel for the character. Worth a watch, and gets you thinking about what you would do if you are ever put in a morally grey circumstance.
  • Rocky series – An underdog club fighter who overcomes all odds to become the world heavyweight champion of all time.
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – An interesting tale of a man who is born in his eighties and ages backwards. Through the film, he experiences the human joys of love, departure, life and death.
  • Inception – Who can forget Inception, the 2010 hit film? While it has been better remembered as an action/heist film, there are many personal development lessons to take away from it too, which I covered here: 8 Personal Development Lessons To Learn From Inception
  • Her (R rating) – A science-fiction drama about a man who develops a relationship with his intelligent computer operating system. While this sounds bizarre, it’s not that bizarre when you watch it (but there’s one sexual scene that will probably weird many people out though). It makes you question what makes a relationship a relationship, and also question the typical societal definitions of a relationship (must it be monogamous? must it be physical? etc.). At the end of it, you also wonder if a connection is truly what human beings should live for, or if they are simply outlets to help us grow as we evolve to our next life phase.
  • Up in the Air – It’s about a corporate “downsizer” who travels around the world helping companies lay off people. His life philosophy is about being non-commitment – detaching oneself from things, locations, and especially relationships. Through the course of the film, he meets people who gets him thinking otherwise. This film didn’t resonate with me much, though I’m putting it here as there have been many rave reviews of it.
  • Memento – This film is “inspiring” in terms of how it is produced and also the lessons, albeit sad ones, that can be learned. This is not a “happy” or “positive” film by any means — it’s a psychological thriller, but not your typical kind. Memento is about a man with anterograde amnesia (a condition where the brain can’t store new memories) who seeks to find justice for his wife’s murder.

    I don’t watch thrillers, but a friend recommended this and I was very impressed after watching. For one, Memento is a smart film executed in a very unique way.  The film’s events unfold in two separate, alternating narratives — one in color, and the other in black and white. The black and white scenes are told in chronology, while the color scenes are in reverse chronology. By the time the film ends, both narratives converge to shed light on the investigation. There are different takeaways depending on the viewer. For me it speaks of how people put themselves in a state of self-denial and self-created fantasies, and because of that they pursue a hollow life, putting themselves in pain/anguish. Again, not a “happy” kind of film, but a film to watch if you like thrillers or you’re looking for a serious movie.

  • The Butterfly Effect – Another “sad” serious film. This is a movie of a man who desperately goes back in time to try to change the future for the better, with unexpected consequences each time. The butterfly effect is the phenomenon whereby one little action (the flutter of a butterfly) magnifies over time into a huge effect in the long-run (think along the lines of a tornado).

    I only watched this movie once because the show is overall very depressing. However, it does have an important message. Many people often wonder, What if I did this? or What if I did that? The point is, we can’t change something without affecting something else in our life. Every decision we make comes with its downsides and upsides, and it’s our role to make the best out of the outcome, rather than regret and wish we did something else as it’s already in the past.  Looking backward prevent us from truly living our life. In the film you can see the character oblivious to everything that’s happening in the present because he is too busy trying to go back in time to change things. I won’t spoil the show for you — watch the film and see the outcome yourself.

This is part of the Inspiration & Motivation series. Check out the other articles in the series:




How Social Media Creates a Fear of Missing Out (And What To Do About It)

FOMO — or the fear of missing out — has become a pattern in today’s world. We are constantly on our phones, glued to social media feeds and checking what other people are up to. The more updates we see, the more anxious we feel. We see people living this exciting life, achieving this new milestone, doing that exciting activity. We feel like we are missing out, that we are not living a good enough life, and we have a compulsion to keep up.

So we keep up… buying, keeping up, and absorbing as much information and updates as we can. And this addresses our anxiety… or does it?

Can you relate? Well, today’s episode is just for you. 🙂 In this episode of The Personal Excellence Podcast, I cover

  • What is FOMO [0:29]
  • Signs of FOMO [1:27]
  • 4 reasons why FOMO exists [4:39]
  • 5 strategies to tackle FOMO [15:06]

Listen here:


Celestine Chua         
PEP 014: Fear of Missing Out           


If you've found The Personal Excellence Podcast useful, I'd really appreciate it if you can leave a good rating and review on iTunes. Your review does make a difference and it will help the podcast to grow and spread the message of conscious living to the world. Thank you!

Fear of Missing Out [Transcript]

Celestine Chua: You’re listening to The Personal Excellence Podcast, the show that’s all about helping you be your best self and live your best life. I’m Celestine Chua, your host and founder of Let’s get started!

Hey everybody. Welcome to The Personal Excellence Podcast! This is Celestine Chua from Today we’re talking about the fear of missing out, otherwise known as FOMO.

Have you heard the term FOMO before? I’m sure some of you have. But if you haven’t, FOMO refers to the apprehension that one is not in the know, or one is out of touch with some event, experience, or interaction. This compels the person to constantly want to know what’s going on, what’s happening out there, and whether they’re missing out on something.

In today’s world, FOMO exists on some level in many of our social media habits and online behavior — even if you don’t realize it. This is why I want to discuss this topic today because I feel that FOMO has become such a prevalent issue.

Some Signs You Have FOMO

Some signs of having FOMO include

  • Continually refreshing your social media newsfeed to see what’s going on, what’s the latest update, and the new things that people are discussing right now.
  • Feeling the need to know what so-and-so people are doing. This can include the people in your social network. It can also include the people you don’t know, such as celebrities or famous people.
  • The constant feeling that you’re not satisfied with your life, and because of that you keep looking outward at what others are doing.
  • Feeling that perhaps you are not doing enough.

So as opposed to enjoying your time right now with the people you are with and the life you have right now, you are constantly checking and seeing what others are up to, because you feel that otherwise, you may be missing out.

Why FOMO is Unique to Our Era

I feel that FOMO is a phenomenon that’s unique to our digital era. FOMO as a term was coined in 2003 and it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013. That’s just a few years ago. So why is FOMO unique to our era?

Imagine in the past, way before the internet was invented. Say it’s a Friday night and you just finished work. What do you do?

Perhaps you would read a book. Perhaps you would do some simple activities. Maybe you like to knit so you knit. Maybe you watch a video of your favorite movie. Or you have a quiet conversation with a loved one. So you do that and you sleep. And you could be feeling pretty satisfied with your Friday night, doing something that you like.

Nowadays, everybody is connected. You can see what anybody is doing and everyone’s updates. With the Internet today, typically what happens is this: It’s Friday night. You could be browsing your social media newsfeed and your Instagram newsfeed.

  • You see this professional coach or guru going to some event, achieving some new level of success, getting this new interview, living the high life.
  • Or you see this celebrity, this person partying at some gala event, living in some mansion, doing some new photoshoot, or having some brand new product launch.

So you could be excited and feeling satisfied with your Friday night, reading a book, knitting, talking to a loved one, whatever it is. But now you are left feeling like you’re boring and lousy because you’re not doing all of these things that these “exciting” people are doing. And that, in essence, is FOMO.

4 Reasons for Fear of Missing Out

I see FOMO as the result of a few factors.

1) Prevalence of Fast-Speed Internet

First, the wide prevalence of fast-speed Internet. It’s incredibly easy to get information today. In the past, when the internet was new, it was slow and we were on dial-up modem. Some of you guys may still be on dial-up.

But in the past, dial-up was the norm. Over the years, as the government, societies build up the infrastructure, high-speed internet became more easily accessible and at a lower cost. Many people around the world have fast internet today.

So you can easily get information at the click of a button. With that, you can easily see what people are doing with the click of a mouse. What Brad Pitt is doing right now, what Angelina Jolie is doing right now, what the Kardashians are up to. All this information, just easily accessible at the click of a button.

Because of that, you can instantly know what others are doing. This starts this whole comparison cycle and behavior because now you can easily compare and put side-by-side what other people are doing and what you are doing. This starts to create a feeling of lack, a feeling of inferiority, that maybe you’re not good enough.

2) People displaying a perfect version of their lives

The second factor would be people using the Internet to exhibit their best selves. Along the way (in the 2000s), the Internet became this platform where people get to share about themselves. But now, instead of people sharing about themselves, people are using the Internet to exhibit a very manicured version of themselves. Sometimes this version may not even be true to reality.

So there’s a very heavy level of self-monitoring and self-altering behavior going on.

We have magazines out there isn’t it? In the media industry, with the magazine editors heavily photoshopping magazine covers, they create this “picture-perfect” version of beautyand very narrow definitions of beauty. That’s the magazines and it’s enough that media industry is doing that.

But now, instead of this being an issue isolated to magazines (and the media), we have people everywhere on Instagram, Facebook, etc. editing the photos that they upload. Instead of it being an authentic moment — which it used to be, where people were genuinely sharing what they were doing as part of connecting with others — now it’s become a situation where people are sharing very edited, manicured, and perfected versions of what’s going on in their lives.

So they could be living their day and essentially doing mundane activities — as with most people living their lives. Some of the things they’re doing will be mundane and usual, nothing to shout about. Then they have this one hour when they are doing something exciting, and then they will take some pictures of that and edit that, make them perfect, add filters, and so on. And just highlight those moments.

When you have people everywhere doing this online, it creates this impression of, Oh this is what’s happening in everybody’s life all the time. So I’m missing out! My life is not good enough! This creates a really skewed and warped sense of reality.

3) Existing social issues magnified by Internet

The third factor contributing to FOMO is there are simply existing (social) issues that the Internet exacerbated. As opposed to the internet creating problems, I would say there were existing problems such as loneliness or low self-esteem. The Internet, with the way it has brought the entire world closer and stripped away many boundaries, exacerbated this issue as we no longer have a strong sense of boundary or space. People who already feel lonely or low in self-esteem may feel more isolated, while people who felt slightly lonely at times may have this feeling magnified in the presence of everyone else’s success and “exciting” life.

4) How today’s websites are designed

The fourth factor contributing to FOMO is how companies have designed their websites.

To understand how this works, it boils down to this underlying principle. Essentially, most companies operate on profit. Well, the essence of a company is to be profitable because if you’re not profitable, you’re out of the game.

When companies focus on profit as their sole objective — without regard for their audience and adding value to their lives — their number one goal becomes to maximize each user’s time spent on their website. This is particularly true for platform companies like Facebook, Snapchat, Netflix, Instagram. The more time you spend on their site, the better it is for them, the more advertisers they can get, the more revenue they can get.

What’s the best way to maximize the time spent? By maximizing interaction, maximizing the number of engagements you (as the user) have on their site, be it by making you click from one place to the next within their site. Whatever keeps you within the site and gets you clicking, interacting, commenting, and spending as much time as possible on the platform itself — whether it’s Facebook, Snapchat, or Netflix — even if it’s to the point of detriment of your well-being, your productivity, or the utility value you’re getting from the website.

This is particularly so when a company starts to focus on profit and what it gets off its user base rather than having the users’ best interests in mind and designing its services around them. This is where profit supersedes value — where companies focus on profit rather than giving value, as opposed to creating value as the priority and earning profit as a result of that.

So platforms are now creating site designs to build addiction. We have Facebook — or any of these large attention companies really — having large teams of growth hackers, where their sole job every day is to get together to discuss, find ways to hack your brain, and figure out how to break down your mental barriers, so that you’re constantly glued to their platform. Getting you to stay on their site, making you feel compelled to come back, and making you feel, Oh I’m missing out if I’m not coming back to the site. I’m missing out if I’m not clicking this notification.

So it could be

  • Facebook popping up a message and saying, “You haven’t been here for a while” or “You haven’t posted on your page for a while. Do you want to interact with your followers (if you have a Facebook page)?”
  • Snapchat. They introduced a streak feature in the past couple of years where they encourage you to continue this streak of messaging someone consecutively each day or over a period of days, so that you can maintain the streak.

Some of these are questionable. Because, okay, Snapchat has this streak feature to message this number of times or this frequency with someone. But does this help forward your relationship with that person or help you live a better life? These are questions to ask ourselves.

So we have these companies coming up with all kinds of strategies. Many of them implicit — you don’t know they are happening unless you take a step back to think. Or unless you run a website yourself, where you become conscious of these issues. Ultimately, they are there to suck you in. To get you addicted. To make you feel like you’re missing out. Hence, the feeling of “missing out.”

So you constantly refresh your social media feeds to see what you are missing out. You feel, Okay! When I refresh and the thing is loading in my browser, I’m doing something with my life. Something is happening and I’m seeing all these updates! The page is now loaded, you see this barrage of new updates. Okay! Now I feel marginally fulfilled. Then 30 seconds later, you are back doing the same thing, loading the webpage and seeing the next wave of updates.

Social Media Updates — Junk Food for the Brain

All these are very much what I call, junk food for the brain. It’s like you eat junk food, and maybe for a few seconds, you feel satisfied. After a while though, you feel, Hey I need more!Like, This is not satisfying me.

Why is that? It’s because these little pieces of updates are inherently not satisfying or nourishing. Junk food is not nourishing for our body. Media news sites and the attention companies, or any of these websites using these strategies to maximize attention and it can include content mills with very low-quality articles, designed to make you click from one thing to the next — these are junk food for the brain.

When you have all this junk food content and you’re consuming it, the quantity may be huge and there may be many pieces of such content everywhere. But because it’s not nourishing for the brain, you have to keep clicking and refreshing and returning just to keep this “nourishment “going. Because it’s so ungratifying, you’re not being fulfilled, and hence you need to do it so many times.

Compared to if you are reading a piece of high-quality content, you can be just reading a short amount and that’s food for thought. There’s something you have gained, that makes you think for the next few days.

So these four factors contribute to the phenomenon of FOMO. Even in the online business world, FOMO has created the shiny object syndrome. Where you feel this need to constantly buy that next app, that next plugin, that next web service, hoping that you’ll create that next big breakthrough in your business. I’ve shared before in an article on the magic bullet — there’s no secret sauce or magic thing that’s going to transform or create some huge results. Ultimately, it’s back to the same fundamentals and it boils down to the strategy that you use and how you approach your business.

5 Strategies to Tackle FOMO

So how can you tackle FOMO? I have 5 strategies.

1) Stop comparing yourself to others

Stop comparing. I know it is difficult because all this information about people’s lives is everywhere, and social media companies have made it so easy for us to access this information. When you come online, you have all these companies hungering to grab your attention, even if it’s to the detriment of your productivity. You have all these companies fighting and eliciting you to, “Come and click, come and click over to my website.” It becomes really difficult because you are fighting all these forces: the macro forces and also the internal force in you, where perhaps there is a sense of dissatisfaction or feeling that, Okay, maybe there’s something out there that I need to know.

So I know it’s difficult, but it is important to stop this behavior from within. This can include limiting your social media usage and controlling the way you use social media which I’ll talk about in tip #3.

With regards to not comparing, two episodes back I talked about our unique path in life. In that episode, I talked about how everybody is on a unique path. You are on your unique path. I am on my unique path. We are all on our unique paths in life. Don’t feel like you need to compare because perhaps you’re not making the best of your life.

Sure, you can benchmark. Benchmark meaning you reference and look at what others are doing as an indication of what you could be doing.

But don’t compare in that you keep looking towards what other people are doing as the reference point for where you should be. Because we are all different. We all have our unique paths. We have our individual aspirations, our individual paths to realize.

You can be the fastest swimmer on Earth. If you keep looking at the bird in the sky and wondering why you can’t fly, you’re just putting your God-given talents in swimming to waste. This is the same between the bird and the swimmer. The bird can be in the sky flying, with the ability to fly and soar, but instead, it looks at the fish in the sea and wonders why it can’t swim.

So the fish gets to explore the wonders of the marine world. The bird gets to explore the wonders of the sky. Everybody is on their individual path to self-actualize and self-realize, and this path may not be comparable in many instances because it’s just unique.

Unfortunately, we live in a society right now with the tendency to diminish and condense people to a metric, and try to simplify human worth or value to some number or statistic. But there’s something for you to keep in mind: We are not statistics and we should not be condensed to a number. Even if society or government or media tries to do that to us, we are not that. Each of us is unique and we are unique individuals on our unique path to contribute and create massive value to the world.

Always remember that and don’t compare yourself to other people. Don’t try to alter yourself or shape your life so that it looks like other people’s lives, because you have your life and you are your unique individual, and it’s about embracing that.

2) Fill your schedule with meaningful activities

My second tip is to fill your schedule with meaningful Quadrant 2 activities. I talk about this in my article Put First Things First. It refers to the activities, tasks, and goals that are the most important in your life, but not necessarily the most urgent.

Why aren’t they the most urgent? That’s because the most important things in our life rarely become urgent until it’s too late. They include our health, our relationships, our biggest life aspirations. Fill your schedule with meaningful Quadrant 2 goals or tasks, whatever they may be. This requires you to take a step back to really think, reflect, and ask yourself:

  • What are my Quadrant 2 goals?
  • What are my most important life goals?

For those of you with Live a Better Life in 30 Days Program, many of the tasks (especially in Week 1) are about goal setting. Assessing your life right now. Identify what is your ideal life, your ideal goals. Creating a life map and your vision board. And so on. All the 30 tasks in the program are meant to get you to think about the different Quadrant 2 aspects of your life. For those of you with the program, review the tasks inside, and start thinking about your Quadrant 2 goals.

When your life is exciting and filled with meaningful Quadrant 2 activities, you will automatically not be interested or very interested to see what other people are doing. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t know what others are doing. To do that would be to isolate yourself from the world and that is just swinging from one end to the other. But you won’t have this constant or unhealthy compulsion to keep seeing what other people are doing and filling your life with this filler information. Because you are living your life. These Quadrant 2 activities could be, say, being with your parents. Having a meal with them. Being with your loved ones. Social activities. Volunteering work.

One of my recent coaching clients went on a six-week volunteer trip in Taiwan. He’s from Australia. He was in this rural village at a homestay, taught at a rural school, and ran some conferences. From this trip, he gained so many insights about his future goals, what he wants to do for the next 10 years and beyond, and what he wants to do as his life direction. That’s because the work was inherently fulfilling and it was something that he was personally interested and passionate about. Pursuing and doing this gave him insights on what he would want to do in the future. That was a huge Quadrant 2 activity. He could have spent these six weeks in a frivolous way or just doing nothing — which is fine too because sometimes relaxing or taking time out for ourselves is important. But he could have just wasted six weeks away. Instead, he used it in a meaningful way, in his own definition. That helped him gain so much insight on what he wants to do for his long-term goals, his 10-year goals, and his future life direction.

Quadrant 2 activities can also include exploring a new place you haven’t been to before. Learning a new skill. Doing something you like, whatever it is.

So fill your schedule with these meaningful activities, as opposed to filling the entire day with refreshers of your social media newsfeed or what Kylie Jenner is doing. Ultimately, this won’t fulfill you. But taking action on your personal goals in life? That’s going to fulfill you.

3) Cut down on social media usage

My third tip is to cut down on social media usage. I mentioned just now that the Facebook newsfeed is like fast food for the brain. Tickles you and keeps you busy. May taste well in the first bite. May even make you think that you’re satisfied. But there’s nothing much there and it will ultimately kill you in the long run.

That’s why people need to keep refreshing and seeing their newsfeed so regularly. Because it’s inherently not fulfilling. That’s why they need to keep seeing it over and over and over again, hoping that it will bring a different result each time — except that it doesn’t. It’s not much different from pulling the slot machine at the casino. In fact, many elements of Facebook and a lot of these leading social media sites today are designed with reference to the addictive elements of a casino or gambling dens.

To avoid being in this negative spiral, limit the time you spend on social media. Think about it: when you are in Facebook — and I’m using Facebook as an example, but it can be any website with the agenda to maximize a user’s attention without taking into consideration their personal goals and life. So you could be in Facebook’s “walled garden,” and this is a common term used to describe the way Facebook has designed their site. It’s like a “walled garden,” to keep you inside their universe and away from the outside world. Once you step into Facebook’s “walled garden,” it becomes an uphill battle to gain control of your conscious self and you have lost the game. Because now you’re up against this seemingly innocuous but very meticulously and strategically designed website, designed to suck you in and get you to stay there as long as possible.

The best way to avoid this is to limit the time you spend on social media. 30 minutes, 10 minutes, I don’t want to set a specific time limit because it depends on why you are using social media, whether there’s something you need to get out of the site at the moment. It could even be not using social media on some days. So it is subjective. But the underlying principle is to limit the time you spend on social media. Because when you step inside, you’re going up against 100 or 1000 different strategies put in place to suck you deeper and deeper into the site. Because all of us have a limited amount of mental energy per day, it becomes a downward spiral. It very quickly drains you, and soon you find yourself in this loop where you are just refreshing and seeing the next new update and so on.

So, limit the time you spend. And remove notifications except for crucial ones or for crucial apps. Most websites and mobile app notifications today, they’re useless. They don’t serve a role in our life except to get you to go back to the app. They don’t tell us about anything important or significantly urgent. You can check these apps once in a while, whenever you remember to. But there’s no real need to have notifications alerting you every single time someone messages you or some update is rolled out. This is a call that you make, but I personally feel that most notifications today don’t have a role and they are not really useful.

4) Stop following people who promote an unhealthy lifestyle

My fourth tip is to stop following people who promote an unhealthy lifestyle. Again this requires you to be conscious of how you are using social media and how you’re approaching your Internet usage. Take a step back and evaluate the people you follow and the kind of lifestyle and messages they promote. This includes people on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, websites and so on.

As you are doing that, ask yourself:

  • How do you feel when you see the updates?
  • Do you feel inspired or do you feel bad or negative about yourself?
  • Does it make you feel like you’re not doing enough when you see these updates? And not in a good way but in a negative way?

Once I was following this guru. At first, it was interesting, seeing his updates. But after a short period of time, it started feeling “off.” I realized that he was constantly talking about his achievements, and not in a once-in-a-while way. It’s fine to talk about what you’re doing and what you’re achieving — it’s fine to share that.

But his updates felt sort of like he was… bragging? It was constantly namedropping and talking about how he’s really awesome for having achieved certain things above and beyond other people. After a while of seeing that, it started to become toxic. Because he created this feeling like I wasn’t doing enough, or maybe I wasn’t doing enough to build my business.

So instead of it being a positive experience, it became a toxic and negative one where seeing his updates made me feel like somehow I wasn’t good enough or that I wasn’t doing enough. I wasn’t sure if it was just me, so I asked two other people who knew this person and both of them got the same vibe too. The overall sense was an off-putting one. Looking at this person’s updates made me feel a great sense of FOMO.

After that, I stopped following this person because it was a negative experience all in all. I wasn’t getting any positive messages from it. For me, as someone who has a platform and shares messages with my audience, I have a certain standard in the kind of messages I send out and the intention of my messages, and I felt like this person’s updates wasn’t congruent with what I expect of my own platform.

Or it could be a totally different type of message. For example, you could be following people who promote a materialistic lifestyle or a way of life that is not very healthy or not in line with your values. If so, you want to limit your exposure to these people. Maybe they are constantly getting you to buy things, buy material goods. Or showing off branded stuff or insinuating that somehow having certain branded goods or possessing certain physical possessions validate yourself or a certain part of who you are… which wouldn’t be a message that you want to carry.

When you are exposed to and following these people, this would keep creating the FOMO feeling. This fear that you’re missing out. That you are not buying this thing (but you should). That you’re not being good enough. That you’re not living it up. That would naturally perpetuate the feeling of FOMO in you.

Another example: with the people you follow, maybe they present a very skewed version of reality. Maybe they constantly photoshop images or present a very cherry-picked aspect of life. And this cherry-picked aspect is a little bit twisted and not accurate to reality. So you’re no longer learning or seeing an authentic side of the world and people’s lives, but a very manufactured version of reality. This will naturally skew your perception of the world.

When you are following people and their updates, know that these are things that you are allowing to enter your consciousness. Ask yourself: Are these the kind of people you want in your living room, with you? Are these the people you want right beside you, in your daily life? If no, why do you want to see these updates on such a regular basis?

So be conscious of who you follow, the updates you see. If people’s updates keep making you feel negative, fear-based, that somehow you’re not good enough, that you’re missing out, that you should be doing/buying/getting that thing, take a step back and ask yourself: Are these the kind of people you want to follow?

Maybe’s it’s good to unfollow them. Limit your exposure to these people. Instead, follow people and content that inspire you to improve, as opposed to making you fearful or feel that you have a lack, because that is not true at all.

5) Consume information in a targeted way

My fifth and last tip is to consume information in a targeted way. The Internet today is characterized by an explosion of information. We have all kinds of information around us now. You want to be conscious of how you consume this information.

You want to receive and focus on content that’s tailored to you, that helps you in your life. For example, some of you may be in Facebook groups. When you join a Facebook group, Facebook automatically makes you follow that group, that group’s updates, and automatically adds you to the group’s notifications.

The way I do it is whenever I join a group, I will immediately unfollow the group’s updates and remove the group’s notifications. So I’m still in the group, but I just don’t see its updates by the second. Instead, I go into the group whenever I want to look at what it is up to. Why do I do that? This helps me to be conscious of the kind of updates I see when I enter Facebook’s main page. So firstly, I limit my usage of Facebook. Next, when I enter Facebook, I want to be conscious of the kind of updates I see on the front page. Facebook has its own algorithm and it cherry picks and selects whichever updates fit that algorithm. Typically these are updates focused on increasing and maximizing engagement, and that’s not necessarily what I want. Sometimes I want to see everything that the group has so far, discussions, etc. so that I can zoom in on the ones that are relevant to me. As opposed to having an algorithm that pre-selects and pre-filters, and the pre-filtered material may not be what I’m looking for.

So being conscious in terms of how you consume information. You pick and choose the sites that you want to see, the updates you want to see, the groups that you want to focus on for today or for a week. That’s the same for websites you follow, newsletters, YouTube channels that you subscribe to. You don’t need to be following everything. You don’t need to be subscribed to everything. You want to ask yourself: Which are the [sites/channels/etc.] that give you great value? Where you genuinely feel uplifted by the content? And the content helps you to live a better life, live a conscious life?

These are the channels/websites/newsletters that you want to stay subscribed to. Don’t worry about missing out because there’s just so much information out there. Your role today is to pick what works for you. Tuning into the information, the updates, the activities that are relevant to you. Rather than feeling that you need to be in the loop of everything. I feel the websites today — how conglomerates have designed their websites — are created to elicit that feeling that you’re not seeing enough, that there’s more content you need to see.

Because of that, we need to learn to draw our boundaries. Deciding that, Okay today I just want to consume this ABC piece of content. And that’s because this channel is something that I like, this website is a high-quality one. Hence I consciously choose to read and follow these things. Beyond that, I’m doing other stuff.

Closing Note

So that’s it for today’s episode. I have a few articles that are relevant to today’s episode that I’ll be linking to them in the show notes.

If you have found today’s podcast helpful, I would really appreciate it if you can leave a review on iTunes, and that’s at Doing so really makes a difference. It helps to spread the message of conscious living out there to the world. And I feel that is something that we massively need today.

If you are interested in living a better life in just 30 days, check out my 30-day life transformation program, Live a Better Life in 30 Days Program. I’ve packed my 30 best tasks on life transformation and that includes some of my best exercises that I share with my life coaching clients, to help them discover your life direction, discover their life goals, review how you are doing in your life, evaluate your routine, transform your to-do list, expand your comfort zone, discover their values, and many more. So you can check that out at

Thank you so much for listening. I truly appreciate you. If you have a question for me, you can post it to me via the podcast page on Until next time, remember: you are beautiful and you are perfect the way you are. Thanks so much guys. And I see you guys in the next episode. Bye guys!

End Note: Thanks for listening to The Personal Excellence Podcast. If you have found today’s podcast helpful, I would really appreciate it if you can leave a review on iTunes at Every review goes a long way to letting others know about the show and spreading the message of conscious living to the world. For more tips and articles on how to live your best life, visit Be sure to stay in the loop of my free content and updates by subscribing to my free newsletter at

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How Watching ‘Caddyshack’ Helps Me Stave Off Depression

The ritual of watching (and quoting) my favorite comedy


Istare into a dark, star-filled screen. A white, illuminated “O” appears, and spins out the words “An Orion Pictures Release.” Outside, the sky is blue. Birds fly across my window. I lie on the couch as a choir of Kenny Loggins fades in from the speakers.

I have watched Caddyshack, the 1980 film directed by Harold Ramis and starring Chevy Chase and Bill Murray, more than 100 times. This is a conservative estimate; it does not include partial viewings, clips online, or the times it’s been played with the sound turned off.

Not once during any of these screenings have I smiled or laughed.

I don’t hate Caddyshack. I adore it. I can’t get enough of Caddyshack’s “snobs against the slobs” tale, set inside the members-only Bushwood Country Club. I relish the scenes with Al Czervik (played in a star turn by Rodney Dangerfield), a nouveaux riche condo magnate, who humiliates Judge Elihu Smails (Ted Knight), Bushwood’s slow-burn villain. I still find myself imitating the cadences of Chevy Chase’s Ty Webb, the golf prodigy playboy who speaks in clipped Zen koans. I adore all of it: the weak main storyline of working-class caddie Danny Noonan (Michael O’Keefe); the set pieces included for no reason other than to feature Smails’ lusty niece from Philadelphia, Lacey Underall (Cindy Morgan), in various stages of undress; Bill Murray’s unscripted performance as Carl Spackler, the louche and unhinged assistant greenskeeper, chasing an elusive gopher with firearms and explosives.

I don’t appreciate Caddyshack as a golf comedy. I’ve never golfed. I’ve never seen anyone tee off, never been to a driving range. I might not even classify Caddyshack as a comedy. Over the past decades, I have screened Caddyshack not as comic relief, but as something else. Spiritual comfort food comes close. It’s more like meditation or saying the rosary, a nourishing ritual. I experience Caddyshack to stitch my mind back together again, to receive what we might call “total consciousness.”

I watch Caddyshack alone. Always. These Caddyshack screenings typically occur in late spring, when my mood turns gloomy, inconsolably sad. I’ve called these periods a number of things over the years: ennui, melancholy, malaise, doldrums, afternoon stupor, feeling down-in-the-dumps. I know now this is depression, with dollops of generalized anxiety and an allergy to pollen. I watch Caddyshack as a rite of spring, to be return to a world where the biggest concerns include whether or not Judge Smails’ nephew, Spaulding, will pick his nose and then eat his own boogers. Watching Caddyshack’s mechanical gopher dance to Kenny Loggins has proven to have as much efficacy as my prescribed medications.

Humor, Simon Critchley writes, “exploits the gap between being a body and having a body.” When I’m depressed, that gap is exploited further. I enter an animal-like, non-intentional state. My own story ends or is paused. The restorative power of watching a familiar comedy like Caddyshack, over and over again over several decades, is that it replaces in the depressed person’s mind the real source of their sadness, whatever it might be. It narrows the gap, however temporarily. It allows you to imagine a body and mind restored to health.


I was too young to see the R-rated Caddyshack in the movie theater. I saw it a few years later, at the dawn of cable TV. It aired constantly. I’m part of the first generation that got to re-watch movies at home on cable and VCRs, over and over again, committing scenes to memory. How many others have Caddyshack imprinted into the minds? Thousands? Millions? Sure, Caddyshack is funny, but what is it about this movie, a modest success when it came out, that merits these re-watchings? Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella StoryEntertainment Weekly film critic Chris Nashawaty’s new book-length study just out this month, burnishes the film’s reputation as one of the “most beloved comedies of all time.” How did a movie written off by critics like Vincent Canby of the New York Times as “immediately forgettable” trash become part of the comedy canon?

In the most famous monologue from Caddyshack, Carl Spackler recounts to a young caddy an obviously bullshit tale of jocking for the “Dalai Lama himself” in the Himalayas. Pitchfork in hand, poking prongs in the caddy’s neck, Bill Murray’s character tells the story of how “the Lama” utters the mysterious phrase “gunga lagunga”:

Did somebody step on a duck?

Here’s the part where I admit to being one of those annoying people who rattles off Caddyshack lines in social situations. Most times I trade Caddyshack lines with another person, I do sense a connection, even a deep one.

We have a pool and a pond…pond’d be good for you.

These quote-sharing moments mark the only times I have laughed or smiled in relation to Caddyshack. I also feel myself on the edge of crying. My eyes well up. My lips quiver. My brain feels lighter.

I’ve sentenced boys younger than you to the gas chamber. 
Didn’t wanna do it, but felt I owed it to them.

In these moments, I don’t need to worry about connecting with another person, or think about what to say next. Time moves forward, onto the next object of attention.

Thank you, home video. Thank you, collective narrative. Thank you, total consciousness.

There’s a good chance that Ty Webb suffers from depression. Chevy Chase’s character is WASPy, his demeanor understated, sure. He is also withdrawn, disengaged. He stares into space, and avoids eye contact. When Lacy Underalls, the movie’s femme fatale, visits him unannounced, we see his bachelor bungalow littered with leftover pizza, samurai swords, and newspapers.

“Here’s an uncashed check for seventy thousand dollars,” Lacy says.

“Keep it,” Ty answers.

Throughout their scene together, Ty never looks into Lacy’s face, never cracks a smile.

Words associated with comedy: masochism, narcissism, trivia, hysteria. 
Words associated with melancholy: masochism, narcissism, trivia, hysteria.

On my desk: a Hallmark Caddyshack Christmas ornament of Ty Webb, dressed in his golf shirt and khakis. He’s barefoot. From the packaging: “Whenever he took to the links with Danny Noonan, Ty offered the caddy not only lessons in honing his golfing abilities but also zen-inspired insights on the game…and the nature of life itself.”

Press the button on the ornament’s base and you hear a recording of Caddyshack’s second most famous monologue, in which Ty holds forth about a “force in the universe that makes things happen”:

Webb then chants some mantra-type sounds as he makes trick shot after trick shot on the putting green. All of this is on the recording. Other than taking out the battery, there’s no way to stop Ty Webb from talking. Once you press the button, it just continues its monologue until the end.

In 2007, psychologists at the University of Pittsburgh studied the facial expressions of 116 people. Subjects were shown “neutral footage” of a train moving down a track, followed by “robust positive stimulus”: a four-minute clip from Chris Rock’s 1996 comedy special Bring the Pain, selected “to reliably elicit positive emotion.” Using something called a Facial Action Coding System (FACS), the researchers confirmed their hypothesis: that depressives are more likely to “control their smiles.”

Depressed individuals, in other words, keep thinking about depressing things. Even when Al Czervik tees off and nails Judge Smails in the crotch with a golf ball.

I can’t really look at Caddyshack in the same way I did when I was young. Bill Murray, now a kind of living meme, has hard flirtations with right-wing politics. Chevy Chase regularly appears in the news after beating up a motorist or uttering some racist comment. I can no longer look up to these men, if I ever did, as models of some masculine ideal.

The last couple of times I have watched Caddyshack, I have found myself focusing on the more ancillary characters. Like Spaulding Smails, the judge’s spoiled nephew. Or Motormouth, the smart-alecky caddie. Or maybe Lou Loomis, the head caddy played by Billy Murray’s brother, Brian Doyle-Murray, who co-wrote the script with Ramis and Doug Kenney.

I now look at Caddyshack as a version of pastoral, in the way English critic William Empson defines the term, an offshoot of proletarian literature in which all the classes exist on the same plane. To put a finer point on it: Empson’s description of Alice in Wonderland and its “blend of child-cult and snobbery” reminds me of Caddyshack’s class warfare angle, the movie’s “snobs versus the slobs” tagline. I know that, by the movie’s end, the slobs will triumph, and that Danny, the main character, will not yet be put down by civilization in the way its star characters have suffered, in both the movie and in real life.

To escape the world into a Caddyshack screening while I’m depressed means suspending time and entering another world. In this world, body and mind, self and soul, coexist side-by-side, not naturally, but as conjoined twins. In this world, I need beginnings, middles, and endings. Inside this world, I need Kenny Loggins overtures, bromances, cliffhangers, sight-gags, dumb homunculi and military-grade explosions. In this world I needCaddyshack.

Caddyshack draws from several Shakespeare plays. I realized back this in college, stoned and watching Caddyshack to put off writing papers on Shakespeare. Ty Webb’s spliff-smoke man-to-man with Spackler mirrors Henry V’s “gentlemen of the company” walk-around before the Battle of Agincourt. The scenes on the links — Maggie O’Hooligan’s frolic on the 18th hole after a pregnancy scare, the caddy tournament in the last act — recall Northrop Frye’s idea of Shakespeare’s “Green World,” a forest or meadow outside the main action that “charges comedies with the symbolism of the victory of summer over winter.” In a final scene, when Al Czervik summons his henchmen, Moose and Rocco, to shake down Judge Smails after he loses the $40,000 tournament bet (“help the judge find his checkbook, will ya?”), I can’t help but think of the cruel punishment meted out to Shylock at the end of The Merchant of Venice.

I could be wrong about this. If you stare at an object long enough, it changes into something else.

I met Bill Murray once, at a 1998 screening of Rushmore at NYU, where I worked as an administrative secretary. I scored tickets easily. Wes Anderson wasn’t a famous director yet, and Bill Murray was a star, but this was Space Jam–era Bill Murray, before his renaissance as a wedding-crashing Buddha-trickster. At the Q&A, an acting student talked about voice projection, and asked if Murray could do a reprise of his lounge singer character from Saturday Night Live. The audience clapped, egging him on.

But Murray offered a serious answer instead. Your body is an instrument, he said, like a clarinet or saxophone. As air moves through your body, it’s important to be open and in the moment. If you can do that, he said, your body will open up, and whatever you’re trying to say or sing will come out clearly, loudly, in that moment. There was a moment of silence right there, a beat before he finished his answer.

“The rest,” he said, “is bullshit.”

I watch Caddyshack whenever I experience, in the words of those Pittsburgh psychologists, “difficulty disengaging from negative stimuli.” Examples: breakups, fallings out, failures, deaths, losses, stressful days at work, public scolding, bad reviews, negative evaluations. I might marathon a day’s worth of multiple Caddyshacks, order in a pizza, close all the blinds to shut off and disengage.

My Caddyshack viewings started before the days I turned to beer, wine, and pot; before mushrooms and LSD; and well before Celexa and Wellbutrin and the occasional codeine, all to dull an anxiety over dealing with people, anger at the world, being a body and having a body.

In blue fogs, I struggle to get back my mind. Melancholy, more than happiness or anger or calm, needs plot. Melancholy moves through time. The melancholic is analytic, detail-oriented, a perfectionist insofar as it means fine-tuning what will or will not lead down paths of worry or despair. Lately, trying to sleep, I imagine one of my daughters injured by any number of large forms: a rusty swing, metal breaking off a bridge, boxcutter knives. I will shake my head and curse myself to sleep. To drive horrific visions away, I imagine myself in a room, alphabetizing hundreds of records, from Alpha Blondie to Zebra. Melancholy is measured by objects of attention: clouds across a window, Joni Mitchell albums from her folk to jazz periods, a mechanical gopher that tears up a golf course.

I’m not sure if I need narrative as much as one particular story. Caddyshack-watching, for me, is a component prayer of burlesque; it deepens each time Carl Spackler sight-gags a garden hose between his legs like a big schlong, each time Ty Webb calls Judge Smails a “tremendous slouch,” each time Spaulding Smails eats his own boogers.

Caddyshack allows me to dream outside my body, one that is restored to health. When I watch Caddyshack, the story pauses; it starts up again inside another story. It’s total consciousness. The rest is bullshit.







How to Find Purpose After a Hard Fall in Life

(Image: lee Scott)

Last week a course participant shared with me that she just had a hard fall in life.

She recently lost her baby, left her job, and has been working on her startup in the past year which has not taken off in the way she wanted.

She asked me if I have any thoughts on reshuffling, reprioritizing, or finding new purpose in life, as she is not really sure if what she thought she wanted before is worth it anymore.

When I heard what happened my heart immediately went out to her. I have already responded to her privately but I thought to write this post in case any of you are going through a tough phase in life.

1) Give yourself space to grief, to heal

Firstly I’m not going to tell you that what doesn’t break you will make you stronger.

Instead I’m going to tell you to grieve and take some time out for yourself first. Our society today is very much about doing. Do, do, do. Move on. Get over things. Get over yourself.

Yet we are humans, not robots. When we fall we need time to heal and climb back up. When we have an emotional fall the wounds may not be visible, but they cut so much deeper than physical wounds. Trying to “move on” when we are still hurting and feeling lost not only hurts us, but may cut us deeper and leave us more broken.

Take some time out for yourself. To heal. To recover. To find yourself. Give yourself the space to grieve, cry, and mourn over your loss.

I recommend to journal your darkest feelings. Pour your heart out on paper. Talk to your loved ones and share your pain. Spend some time alone, by yourself. If you are working, take a few days of no-pay leave (if you don’t have paid leave left) to rest and get a timeout. Work can continue for a while without you. But you, you need time to rest, recuperate, and heal, before stepping forward.

2) Think about the things that matter

Maybe you feel lost because you have been working so hard on something that amounted to nothing. Maybe you just lost your job. Maybe your marriage ended in shambles. Maybe your business is not doing well. Maybe you just lost a loved one. Or maybe you just lost your baby, a pain that no one should ever have to go through in their lifetime.

In these darkest of times, think about the things and people that matter. Your parents perhaps. Your sibling(s) if you have one. Your partner. Your passion. Your beliefs. The people you care about, whom you’ve touched. Your children, if you have any.

And then there’s someone you may have forgotten. Your higher self. He (She) has always been there with you, quietly watching you, comforting you. He (She) has been with you through everything and wrapped his (her) hands around you and tightly hugged you in times of pain, even when you thought you were alone.

When all hope seems lost, remember that you are not alone. If you find it very hard to think about someone or something you care about, close your eyes and ask yourself, “What matters to me? What matters to me in this world?” Write down all your answers in your notebook, and write until you cry and until you can cry no more. As you lie in a state of darkness and grief, think about the things that give you light.

3) Reflect on your future

When you’re ready, and only when you’re ready, think about your life ahead.

As you stand and see your life before you, what do you wish to do moving forward?

For example, 5 years from now, what do you wish to see in your life?

  • Do you want to start a family, if you don’t have one yet?
  • Do you want to work on a new career?
  • Do you want to run your business or start a new one if your previous business failed?
  • If you’re single, do you want to be married or be in a relationship?
  • Where do you see yourself living? Do you want to be living in the same country or elsewhere?
  • What do you want to be doing?

It doesn’t have to be one answer but a few answers. 

Doing this envisioning exercise is about getting clarity of what you want. Defining a direction that you care about. This direction can be the exact same one you were working on before. It can be a similar direction to what you were doing before but altered based on your new priorities in life. It can be a totally different one. Take this as a good timeout to think about what you want vs. just going through the motions.

For example, my course participant L told me that she felt lost because she had been working so hard on her career/business all this while and made sacrifices, yet the people there for her during her darkest hour were her family and husband. While she is working on her business today, all she can think about is her baby and family. All these things that I was chasing, that I thought that I wanted, what for? she couldn’t help but wonder.

I told her to think about what she wants to see down the road. “What do you want to see in your future, 5 years from now?” This future can involve being a full-time mom. It can involve running a successful business. It can involve having a family and running a business of meaning to you. Alternatively, it can involve returning to employment while starting a family. There are no right or wrong answers, only what inspires you and what you want to do.

The most important thing is to know that there is no right or wrong answer, only what matters to you. There is pride and joy in being a full-time mom and caring for the household. There is great fulfillment in being a single business owner. You can also be a multi-tasking parent and entrepreneur, managing family and business. Or you can be married with no kids by your choice, dedicating yourself to your goals, career, partner, and family members.

Your vision can also change along the way, and it is okay. L said to me, “I don’t want to set [a vision] that I realize I don’t really want, or that if I set a mediocre one I would feel restless after a while.” Know that our visions are meant to be dynamic reflections of what we want at this current moment. We will change, and our goals will change, and it is okay. What’s more important is that we have a vision that inspires us enough to take us forward, and we continuously update that to reflect what inspires us now. Read: When Goals Stop Working

Likewise if you are a guy, you can be a full-time dad if this is what works for you. You can be a full-fledged entrepreneur building your business. You can be a family man having a stable job and raising your family. You can be a nomad traveling across countries and speaking at different places where you go. This is no one fixed path, but the path that holds the most meaning to you. None of the path is better or more superior than the other, just different.

If you haven’t, do my life purpose exercise where you write your life purpose for 30 full minutes until you cry. It will give clarity of your overall life direction and where/how you should steer your life as you step ahead.

4) Start to pick up the pieces

When you return to life after a hard fall, it may feel disjointing. You may do X but think about Y. You may feel like you are at a loss. You may feel distanced, like you are far away from the things you are doing even though you are trying to move full steam ahead.

Start with the things you enjoy and that give you meaning. What did you enjoy doing before? Start with these.

  • Maybe you enjoyed writing. Start writing a few articles. Pen down your deepest feelings. Write not for others, but for yourself.
  • Maybe you liked going for walks with your partner. Add this to your routine.
  • Maybe you liked watching movies. Pick a few new releases and watch them.
  • Maybe you liked to travel. Plan your next vacation. Or go for a quick weekend getaway. If your finances allow and you have no immediate obligations, go on a trip for a few weeks. Clear your mind and realign your priorities.
  • Maybe you enjoyed volunteering, which you find purposeful as you help out individuals in need. Go for some volunteer work that you care about.
  • Maybe you liked to work as working keeps your mind moving and your work allows you to do very meaningful stuff. Take on projects that inspires you the most, that get to create the most impact.

The goal is to reintroduce the things you liked about your life back into your routine, at your own pace. Also, focus on doing things that interest you vs. doing things out of obligation. Let yourself be guided by what you want, what you love, not what you feel you have to do. The former is to be driven by love while the latter is driven by fear.

5) Start rebuilding your life

Once you are ready, it’s time to rebuild your life.

Ready meaning you are ready to reintegrate with the world. To give life your all again. To be your true authentic self.

Remember the vision you have painted in step #3? How can you get started with that?

Perhaps you lost your child and you are grieving over his passing. You still hope to have a child one day, to start a family.

When you are ready, try for another child with your partner. I know someone who lost her baby but subsequently conceived again and gave birth. Their newborn fills them with joy each day. Yet he could never have entered the world if they (the parents) didn’t decide to try again, for another baby. He doesn’t replace his lost sibling in any way, but he brings joy and love to his family all the same.

Maybe you just ended a marriage. You are still hurting but you have decided that it’s time to move on.

There’s no need to jump right back into the dating scene if you’re not ready. In fact, use this time to focus on yourself. To work on the goals you couldn’t when you were married. To date yourself and fall in love with life again as a single.

Maybe you just went through a crushing business failure or your business is tanking. You feel ashamed and you’re not sure what to do next about your business.

Remember that businesses fail all the time though. Colonel Sanders was rejected 1,009 times when he tried to sell his now famous KFC recipe. Richard Branson, business magnate and billionaire, has failed in many businesses, from Virgin Cola to Virgin Brides to Virgin Cars. Steve Jobs got fired from the very company he founded, and very publicly so. (He would be famously rehired later.)

That your business has failed or yet to take off is hardly the exception but the norm, especially in today’s ultra-competitive marketplace. In fact every entrepreneur almost certainly fails a few times at least before succeeding. As Richard Branson says, “Every person, and especially every entrepreneur, should embrace failure with open arms. It is only through failure that we learn.” The focus here isn’t “How can I not fail?” but “How can I fail quickly, learn from my failures ASAP, and use these lessons to achieve my next success?” Read: Can Everyone Be Successful in Starting Their Business?

If income is a concern, get a job or do some part-time work first. Budget and save up while you work on your business on the side. Quit when you gain enough traction to make a living from your business. Read: Pursuing Your Passion With No Money

Maybe you just got retrenched. Your previous company is the only thing you’ve ever known your entire working life.

Take this as a fresh new start. Your previous company is not you. What are some goals you’ve always wanted to pursue? Hobbies? Take this chance to explore them. Is there a different industry you’d like to dip your toes in? Create a plan that safeguards your financial risks while paving your new path. Reach out to your friends, industry contacts, and headhunter agencies to understand the industry status and job openings. Attend recruitment events. Use sites like Glassdoor, Vault, and Linkedin to research and understand the inside scene of the industry better. Read: How to Start When You Have Nothing


To you reading this, I’m terribly sorry that you had to go through this. I wish that things could be better. I wish that I could make the pain go away.

While I can’t say that things will get easy because they may not, here’s one thing I do know: We are alive right now. You and me, we are alive. Because of that, it means the possibility to create what we want. To be with our loved ones. To touch them, cherish them. To pursue what we love. To impact others. To make a difference in the things we care about. To show appreciation to the people we love, while we still can. To create life, for some of us.

I hope you’ll be able to find the strength to carry on soon. I hope you’ll be able to break through this darkness to find light. When you do, you’ll find that the whole world has been waiting for you to re-join it all along. That everyone around you, including the people you care about and love, has been waiting for you to join them. That no matter what you think, you are never alone. That even in times of darkness, you can see a light. A light that is inside you, that is burning brightly within you.



Great Minds Discuss Ideas. Average Minds Discuss Events. Small Minds Discuss People.

Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people. This is a quote commonly attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt. What does it mean?

Let’s start by defining “ideas,” “events,” and “people.” Discussing people here means to talk about a person, typically in a negative, gossipy way. Discussing events means to talk about the events happening around the world. Discussing ideas means to understand the higher level messages behind an event, to understand human behavior, to look beyond what’s given, and to find solutions to help the world.

“Small Minds Discuss People”

(Image: Baruska)

When the quote says “Small minds discuss people,” it means that those who discuss people as an end to itself are shallow. Unfortunately, a fair segment of the media and our population today dedicate themselves to discussing people. You have tabloid magazines, celebrity gossip sites, and people who follow celebrity gossip like it is the central goal of their lives. Office politics is not uncommon. People backstab and criticize each other more often than we like. Even our politicians today make personal attacks and conduct smear campaigns. Online, we often see people shaming or attacking each other, or worse still, others supporting such behavior and joining in the attack, rather than taking a higher ground.

“Average Minds Discuss Events”

(Image: Angelo Giordano)

When you switch from discussing people to events, there is an improvement because you look beyond people and focus on events. There is an element of objectivity as you’re now looking at facts, figures, and occurrences. Yet it is a logical fallacy to think that just discussing events makes us smarter.

Firstly, many news stories (depending on where you live) are heavily censored according to the publication’s ideology and alliances. In some countries, the government controls the media. So when you’re reading the “news,” you’re really reading news created/selected to fit what the publication wants you to know, along with filtered comments and angled statistics. Something to consider when you think that you’re being educated by reading a particular news channel — it’s more likely that you are being conditioned.

Secondly, news channels tend to sensationalize and report what is shocking. In internet terms, “clickbait.” As the saying goes, “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.” Hence even though there are one billion possible things to report each day, including countless positive stories and consciousness-raising events, the selected stories are rarely the most important, but some of the most negative, fear-based stories you can find.

Thirdly, even though we may be shocked by a grisly murder that just happened, we have to bear in mind that murderssuicides, crimes, and even war happen every single day. But when you read the news, your attention gets directed to that one crime or that one murder. Or when a news channel repeatedly highlights the crimes that happen in a country, it creates the notion that the place is highly unsafe, when 99.999% of its people get by perfectly safely each day.

In the process of being caught in fear/anger/shock, we miss the bigger picture. The irony is that by thinking that we educate ourselves by reading the news, we are isolating our minds and painting an extremely skewed image of the world and associating it with fear and terror, yet missing the whole point which is, “What can we do to solve the issues we see?”

“Great Minds Discuss Ideas”

(Image: qimono)

This brings us to the last point.

As someone becomes more curious about the world and looks beyond what’s immediately visible, they start to talk about not just people or events, but ideas.

  • Why people do the things they do. What drives them;
  • Why issues like murder, mass shootings, war, and crimes are happening. What we can do to prevent such violence;
  • How we can uplift others;
  • How we can improve as people;
  • World issues, because we’re not just citizens of a country but a citizen of the world;
  • Whether the direction we’re moving in, as a society, as a world, is actually good for us;
  • And most important of all, ideas to improve the world.

Discussing ideas means not just taking what is presented to you, but digging deeper. Understanding root causes. Understanding how something came to be. Questioning realities. Identifying solutions.

This quote is of course meant as a generalization. People and events are often proxies to discuss ideas. We look upon people like Elon Musk, Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey, Martin Luther King Jr., Buddha, Bill Gates, etc. as inspirational figures for change. We discuss people as a way to understand each other. Discussing events helps us grow in awareness; current affairs is a way to learn about the world. If something just happened in my life and I share this with a friend, that’s part of conversation, of relating to each other.

The problem comes when we talk about people or events as an end to itself. This quote reminds us that when we bad-mouth others, gossip, put people down, or follow the news reactively, it doesn’t bring us anywhere. Complaining or chit-chatting about people/events endlessly will not change our lives or make us smarter.

But focusing on ideas for change, it will. Assuming that we act on them, of course.

How to Have a Great Mind: 8 Tips

This means:

  1. Don’t rely on the obvious. Dig deep to understand what lies beneath the surface.
  2. Expand your mind. Don’t just follow the news. There is a world of knowledge out there. Expand your mind to soak in all kinds of information from every corner of the web, starting from Wikipedia to global news sites to content sites that raise your consciousness. Once you do that, you’ll realize how narrow in scope many news channels, especially censored ones, are.
  3. Stay away from gossip. Even though people may gossip about you, it doesn’t mean that you need to gossip about them. Always think about what you can do to help others. Talk about people because you care about them.
  4. Focus on issues. If you don’t like what your boss/co-worker/friend did, focus on the issue, not the person. Give constructive criticism without attacking someone. Read: How to Give Constructive Criticism: 6 Helpful Tips
  5. Seek out those with knowledgeable opinions. Follow them. Read their updates to learn from their way of thought. Bookmark articles that get you thinking. Reading an intelligent article 10 times is better than reading 20 low-level news stories (that are really informing you about nothing but creating an illusion of fear) any day.
  6. Understand world issues. We’re not just a citizen of our country but the world. Climate change is real. So is the absurd amount of waste we produce daily and the immense pollution we generate as a result. Same for cruelty in the meat industry. While these issues may not affect us directly yet, we need to draw the link between our daily actions and such global issues, because there is a link. As conscious beings, there comes a point when we need to think about life beyond just us, because at the end of the day, the world is ours to care for and protect.
  7. Don’t talk about events as an end to itself. Understand them. Why is this happening? When did this first start? What’s causing it? What can we do about this? For example, if there’s a mass shooting, beyond getting horrified, think about what you can do to change things. If you see news on a suicide, don’t just react and talk about it as conversation fodder, but learn more about the causes, overall statistics surrounding this, and why people in modern world today are turning to suicide despite having the facilities and resources that people in undeveloped worlds don’t. Dig in to understand patterns, rationales, and root causes.
  8. Focus on solutions. Finally, solutions. Ideas. Answers to change the world in a positive way. If the world is yours — and it is — what would you do about the problems you see today? What can you do to help others, make an impact, and save the world? Read: What is Your Impact on the World?

Reflect on what you talk about normally:

  1. Do you tend to discuss people, events, or ideas?
  2. How can you spend more time discussing ideas on how you can improve your life, help others, and change the world?

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