The Hall of One Thousand Mirrors

Source: Om Swami

A certain Shaolin temple in China has a unique hall. It’s known as the hall of a thousand mirrors, for its walls and roof are studded with one thousand mirrors. Many monks train there perfecting their moves with extraordinary precision as they see themselves from a thousand angles. One day it so happened that a dog managed to sneak in.

Seeing that one thousand dogs had surrounded him, he felt insecure and threatened. He bared his teeth, growled and barked to scare the other dogs away. Naturally, one thousand dogs growled back at him and barked. Not to be outdone, he charged at them furiously. One thousand charged back at him. Breaking some mirrors and getting hurt in the process, the dog soon ran out of energy to fight other dogs and died a bloody death.

The monks were appalled to see a dead dog and the shattered mirrors when they came a few hours later. They cleaned and repaired the hall. A few days passed and another dog, a small puppy, found its way in the hall. Exactly like the dog before him, he saw one thousand puppies around him. Overcome with joy, he wagged his tail. One thousand wagged theirs. Having found a thousand friends, the puppy somersaulted. One thousand cute puppies reciprocated in kind.

Every time he moved one step towards any of them, the pup in the mirror moved two steps towards him. The little puppy looked at them lovingly out of his soft eyes and every single one looked back at him with just as much love.

Our world is not too dissimilar from the hall of a thousand mirrors. You growl and a thousand will growl back at you. You smile and a thousand will smile back at you. You know why? Because reciprocating is easier than initiating.

Let me say it again: reciprocating is easier than initiating.
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Initiating a new friendship, making a new move, requires courage. Many people are so weary of life, and battered by it, that they no longer have the courage (or the will) to repair, rejuvenate or restore their relationships. They couldn’t be bothered, they feel. Often though, beneath the I-couldn’t-care-less-either feeling are the fears of rejection and getting hurt again. As a result, people live through broken relationships and fractured friendships for years, sometimes till their last breath.

Those who are truly strong are not afraid of seeking and granting forgiveness. Truth be told, granting forgiveness is not as hard as seeking it. As much awaited rain quenches the thirst of a parched land helping countless seeds sprout, forgiveness is the gentle drizzle that renews a relationship. No real feelings of love can sprout and blossom in the absence of forgiveness.

Each one of us is standing in our own hall of a thousand mirrors and it’s up to us whether we wish to smile or frown. Either way, the return is a whopping 1000 percent. Our hall is our world. It is our own reflection.

Other than making a New Year’s resolution, how about starting your year by both seeking and granting forgiveness? Maybe someone wronged you and even tried to apologize but you were too hurt to forgive at the time. How about sending them a note now, conveying that you forgive him/her? Think again before you reject the idea. And what about seeking forgiveness? You might have hurt someone too at some point in time. How about writing a heartfelt apology (and absolutely meaning every word of it) and sending it to them with the expectation that he or she may never even respond? And it’s okay if they don’t respond. Because seeking forgiveness is owning up to your act and redeeming yourself by accepting your mistake with grace, independently of the other’s response.

True forgiveness can only be granted by the one we have hurt. The victim can’t be substituted. A rabbi, pastor, saint or a prophet can’t forgive you for the grief you have given to someone else. If the victim is no longer in your life nor contactable however, you could opt for a confession in that case. Or, still better is if you could perhaps find it in your heart to grant forgiveness to someone else who let you down.

Forgive if you couldn’t be forgiven.

Taking his friend and his family along, Mulla Nasrudin went to the local amusement park. Foregoing all the other rides, Mulla hopped on the merry-go-round and kept riding it over and over again. Whenever the ride stopped, Mulla would get off dizzily, drink a glass of water and get back on. This went on for a good one hour.
“Wow, Mulla! I never knew you loved the merry-go-round so much,” said his friend.
“Love? I absolutely hate it!” Mulla replied. “I’m feeling sick and could throw up any moment.”
“Then why are you riding it?” his friend asked.
“The owner of this swing owes me 50 dollars, and the only way I will ever collect it from him is to take it out in trade.”

When we choose to settle a score, more often than not, all we are doing is punishing ourselves like Mulla on the merry-go-round. If the other person refuses to admit their offense, there’s very little you can do to make them realize. Only with time, they may or may not understand it. Nevertheless, we should try our utmost to not stoop to their level. Even if you don’t convey it to them (to make a point or for whatever reason), at least try and forgive it in your heart.

When you forgive others, Nature forgives you for your misdeeds. Especially for those acts where forgiveness by a human being is not possible. With a lighter heart, you forge meaningful relationships.

Your life is only as beautiful as the depth of your relationships. That is, your relationship with yourself and others.

Even when we frown at others, we automatically first frown at ourselves. See yourself in the mirror, if you don’t believe me. And, when we love someone, we naturally love ourselves first. It holds true for all emotions including forgiveness.

Wear a gentle smile, keep a warm heart so that when you step inside the hall of one thousand mirrors, you baffle yourself with your own glory.


Emotions: How to Find Deeper Fulfillment

By: Deepak Chopra M.D. and Rudolph E. Tanzi Ph.D.

I recently received a copy of this book and really enjoyed reading it. 

Emotions are a vast subject, but there's one statement that
holds true for everyone. The most desirable emotional state is happiness. Even though happiness is a mental state, the body is deeply affected by our moods. Chemical messages tell every cell how you feel. In its own way a cell can be happy or sad, agitated or content, joyous or despairing. The super genome amply confirms this fact. If your stomach has ever tightened from fear, the "gut
brain" is eavesdropping on your emotion, and when depression afflicts several generations in a family, epigenetic marks may be playing a key role. Most polls find that around 80 percent of people describe themselves as happy, and yet other research indicated that at best around 30 percent of people are actually thriving, while rates of depression, anxiety, and stress continue to

It is highly unlikely that a "happiness gene" will ever be discovered. As discussed in the new
book, SuperGenes. The new genetics tells us that in complex diseases like cancer hundreds of separate genetic mutations are likely involved. Emotions are much more complex than any disease. But we don't need to discover the happiness gene. Instead, we should give as much positive input to the super genome as possible, trusting it to produce positive output. Science may take decades to
correlate the complex gene activity that produces happiness; in the meantime, the super genome connects all the input that life brings us. 

Let's contrast the kind of input that promotes beneficial gene activity with the kind that creates damage. Both lists contain items you are quite familiar with by now, but it's good to see everything gathered together. 

Positive Input to the Super Genome

12 things that reinforce happiness

  • Meditation
  • Love and affection
  • Satisfying work
  • Creative outlets
  • Hobbies
  • Success
  • Being appreciated
  • Being of service
  • Healthy food,
  • water, and air
  • Setting long-range goals
  • Physical fitness
  • Regular routine
  • free of stress

Why “To-Do” Lists Don’t Work, and How to Change That

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides "I love you" is "I don't have time". Everyone suggests working from a to do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let's say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a "to-do" list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

"To-do" lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. The same with "to-do" lists—you can put one together, but if you don't do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Most people find that general to do lists don't work because:
- They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do
- They don't know how to prioritize the items on list
- They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it
- There's a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks, etc

A Step-by-Step Process to Teach Yourself Anything (in a Fraction of the Time)

The following article is from Scott H Young. I have been following his website for a few years now and this is my favorite article.

Have you ever wanted to learn something, but weren't sure where to start? Maybe you want to learn a language, programming or business. Maybe you want the confidence to tackle supposedly "hard" subjects like math, finance or physics. Today I'm going to show you how.

Scott used this in MIT
I'm going to describe the process I've used to condense a lot of learning into a short period of time. This is the same process I used to learn MIT's 4-year computer science curriculum in twelve months, teach myself languages, business and intellectual subjects like physics and psychology.
This article is going to be a bit longer (~3500 words), so you may want to bookmark it for later.
I'm going to focus on the strategy for learning, meaning how you choose to break down a nebulous goal like "learn to speak French" or "understand personal finance" into something concrete and actionable. As much as possible, I'll try to provide links to specific low-level tactics I use, such as the Feynman technique, visual mnemonics or active recall as well.
This strategy is just one possibility. If you've found success with another, by all means, go ahead! I only want to share the method I've been honing for years across a variety of different subjects.

The Steps in 2-Minutes
If you're short on reading time, I'll summarize the steps for you:
  1. Take your learning goal, and craft it into a compelling, obsession-worthy mission.
  2. Find material to learn from, structure it into a flexible curriculum.
  3. Define feedback mechanisms to constantly direct your future learning efforts and ensure high-intensity, active recall.
  4. Test and enforce a schedule that is sustainable over the entire lifetime of the project.
  5. Develop a long-term retention strategy (formal or informal).

How to Overcome Disappointment

Feeling Disappointed

Disappointment is an experience of feeling let down and somewhat defeated. You held high expectations that something would work out your way, but unfortunately things didn't turn out as expected. You are now holding onto an unsatisfactory outcome and finding it difficult to deal with your unfulfilled promises and expectations.
Feeling disappointed in the short-term can actually be quite advantageous. However, wallowing in disappointment can keep you feeling stuck, can lead to doubt, despair, depression, despondency and discouragement in the long-term. This is especially true when you've experienced a series of disappointments over a short period of time. These disappointments are weighing heavily on your shoulders. As a result you get overrun by negative thoughts and other emotions. In fact, you might even catch yourself saying:
  • I'm just not good enough…
  • Nothing ever works out…
  • This always happens to me…
It's very easy to get caught up in this cycle and continuously get down on yourself. However, this is never helpful, and will keep you from seeing disappointment for what it really is: A powerful emotion that will help you clarify your personal expectations and pave the way forward towards the attainment of your goals.

Overcoming Disappointment

Feeling disappointed is beneficial in many different ways. In fact, it's just like any other painful emotion you experience. All emotions are simply guiding posts that alert you to what is happening in your external environment, while helping you make appropriate adjustments and decisions to improve your situation.
It's not difficult to turn a little disappointment in your favor to help improve your circumstances. Here is a five step process you can use to do exactly that:

Step One

Your first step is to acknowledge your personal feelings about the situation and circumstances. If you're disappointed, then admit it openly and honestly. Hiding your disappointment will just prevent you from moving forward. Ask yourself:

33 Ways To Be Happier

Humans have remarkable control over their own happiness. In her book, "The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want," psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky says a person's happiness is 50% due to genetics, 10% due to circumstances, and the remaining 40% is "within our power to change." Happiness is different for each person, which is why we've compiled dozens of different methods to help you find your inner sunshine.

Draw pictures of unhealthy food.

Studies have shown that eating high-calorie comfort foods can make your happier. The downside is this will also make you fat. As an alternative, a study published in the Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science in May 2013 found that simply drawing pictures of foods high in fat, like cupcakes or pizza, and foods that taste sweet, like strawberries, can also boost your mood. The positive reactions were independent of subjects' weight and hunger level.
"These results extend a growing body of biobehavioral research on the positive impact of food images on mood by showing that this impact can be applied to enhance mood when expressing food images through art," the researchers concluded.

Be both an optimist and a realist.

People who have the positive attitude of optimists paired with the rational outlook of realists tend to be more successful and happy, according to psychology researcher Sophia Chou.
That's because so-called "realistic optimists" have the perfect blend of personality types to succeed. Unlike idealists, they are willing to face challenging situations with a clear view of reality, but will use creativity and a positive outlook to try to work their way out of the problem.

Get your hands dirty.

Breathing in the smell of dirt may lift your spirits, according to a study which found that a bacteria commonly found in soil produces effects similar to antidepressant drugs.
The harmless bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae, stimulated the release of serotonin in the brain after it was injected into mice. Having low levels of serotonin is what causes depression in people.
In a human test, cancer patients reported increases in their quality of life when they were treated with the bacteria.
"The findings "leave us wondering if we shouldn't all be spending more time playing in the dirt," lead author Chris Lowry of the University of Bristol in England said in a statement.

Read More at Business Insider>>

How to Be a Silent Witness to Your Thoughts

By Yumi Sakugawa(She has many more amazing comics and illustrations,  make sure to have a look!)

Also be sure to check out her lovely book:I Think I Am In Friend-Love With You.

Leonardo DiCaprio: Why is he driven ?

I felt like the underdog because I didn't have nice enough clothes or maybe my hair didn't look good. And so you have to understand — getting your foot in the door is like winning the lottery. It's literally like winning the lottery if you get to have a career. And I've always felt Okay, now I've gotten this shot, and I'm lucky to have gotten this shot, and if I don't do this to the best of my ability — if I don't work my ass off and make a life of it — I've squandered this incredibly golden opportunity. And that's always been what has propelled me." - Leonardo Di Caprio

Born in Hollywood on November11th 1974, Leonardo was an only child whose parents divorced when he was a baby. His mother signed her young son up with a talent agent and, aged five, Leonardo made his debut on a popular children’s television show before being removed for being too disruptive!

Born Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio on November 11, 1974 in Los Angeles, California, he is known as an actor famous during the 21st century. His first name, Leonardo, was attributed to him by his mother as a result of the 'kick' he gave her at the time she was standing in front of Leonardo Da Vinci painting at a museum in Italy. He is the son of an Italian-American comic books distributor, George DiCaprio and a German former legal secretary, Irmalin Idenbirkin who both got divorced at Leo first year age. Since his parents divorce, Leo spent his time in Echo Park, a particularly dirty and poor, drug-dominated area of Los Angeles where he and his stepbrother named Adam Farrar were raised by his mother and stepfather. 

In-depth: What is Procrastination and How to Overcome it !

Procrastination is not typically a function of laziness, apathy or work ethic as it is often regarded to be. It’s a neurotic self-defense behavior that develops to protect a person’s sense of self-worth.

But in real life, you can’t avoid doing things. We have to earn a living, do our taxes, have difficult conversations sometimes. Human life requires confronting uncertainty and risk, so pressure mounts. Procrastination gives a person a temporary hit of relief from this pressure of “having to do” things, which is a self-rewarding behavior. So it continues and becomes the normal way to respond to these pressures.

If you fail to believe you will procrastinate or become idealistic about how awesome you are at working hard and managing your time you never develop a strategy for outmaneuvering your own weakness.

Procrastination is an impulse; it’s buying candy at the checkout. Procrastination is also hyperbolic discounting, taking the sure thing in the present over the caliginous prospect some day far away.

You must be adept at thinking about thinking to defeat yourself at procrastination. You must realize there is the you who sits there now reading this, and there is a you sometime in the future who will be influenced by a different set of ideas and desires, a you in a different setting where an alternate palette of brain functions will be available for painting reality.

The now you may see the costs and rewards at stake when it comes time to choose studying for the test instead of going to the club, eating the salad instead of the cupcake, writing the article instead of playing the video game.

The trick is to accept the now you will not be the person facing those choices, it will be the future you – a person who can’t be trusted. Future-you will give in, and then you’ll go back to being now-you and feel weak and ashamed. Now-you must trick future-you into doing what is right for both parties.

This is why food plans like Nutrisystem work for many people. Now-you commits to spending a lot of money on a giant box of food which future-you will have to deal with. People who get this concept use programs like Freedom, which disables Internet access on a computer for up to eight hours, a tool allowing now-you to make it impossible for future-you to sabotage your work.

Capable psychonauts who think about thinking, about states of mind, about set and setting, can get things done not because they have more will power, more drive, but because they know productivity is a game of cat and mouse versus a childish primal human predilection for pleasure and novelty which can never be excised from the soul. Your effort is better spent outsmarting yourself than making empty promises through plugging dates into a calendar or setting deadlines for push ups.


By Yumi Sakugawa.
(She has many more amazing comics and illustrations,  make sure to have a look!)

Also be sure to check out her lovely book:I Think I Am In Friend-Love With You.