Evan Dwan News Blog

Information, tools, and resources for transforming your life

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Can’t find what your looking for… Just ask

I hope that you find in the news blog below information that will help you. If not and you’re looking for specific advice, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am always happy to share information and thoughts on a specific subject that my readers find useful. Of course I never reference any personal information within my news stories so total confidentiality is assured.

Servant-leadership: Bringing out the best in others

In Journey to the East Herman Hesse tells the mythical story of a group of men who travel to the east in search of spiritual renewal. Leo is the servant of the group who does the chores for the other travellers but also, through his positive spirit and singing, lifts...

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The art of attention and the transformation of the trivial

“it’s not the large things that send a man to the madhouse…it’s the continuing series of small tragedies…a shoelace that snaps with no time left … The dread of life is that swarm of trivialities that can kill quicker than cancer and which are always there” Charles...

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On the nature of good work

What is good work? It is in our nature as human beings that we are both active and social. We are active in so far as we are designed to perform certain functions. We can move, manipulate, make things, communicate. We have agency, the ability to effect and change the...

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Practice: Following the out-breath into awareness

Follow each out-breath and connect with a sense of letting go. Notice where the out-breath is moving to. Then pause, for a moment, in the silence between the out-breath and the next in breath. You can try this for 2-3 breaths, or longer if you like. What do you notice?

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Presence practice: Inhabiting the hands

In this practice we will shift the centre of experience from the head to the hands which will help facilitate a greater sense of calm and equanimity. Begin by holding your hands out in front of you and practice seeing your hands. Notice all the detail – colour, shape,...

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Practising presence: Where am I?

When we get lost in the midst of daily activity, we can come back to ourselves, to the soothing space of our own presence, at any time. A useful entry point is simply asking: ‘Where am I right now?’ This question serves a double purpose. We begin to notice our...

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To do what needs doing…to do the right thing

“Just that you do the right thing. The rest doesn't matter. Cold or warm. Tired or well-rested. Despised or honoured. Dying...or busy with other assignments. Because dying, too, is one of our assignments in life. There as well: "To do what needs doing." Look inward.”...

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Change and impermanence

“Don't let the true nature of anything elude you. Before long, all existing things will be transformed, to rise like smoke (assuming all things become one), or be dispersed in fragments...when jarred, unavoidably, by circumstances, revert at once to yourself, and...

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Mindshift: A new way of seeing and being

This exercise is designed to create a sense of ease and well-being by altering the lens through which we look at the world. You can do this sitting or moving when you are not directly engaged in any other task. Practice Begin by simply noticing the way you see the...

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Self-inquiry: Who am I in the space between two thoughts?

Who are you in the space between two thoughts? Our conceptual mind creates the idea of a self – a solid, stable, separate entity at the centre of our experience. But when we investigate and look a little closer this self is elusive and hard to find. Where is the self...

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What’s the most important thing?

Success, in any endeavour, is predicated on our capacity to recognise the most important thing and to be mindful of this fact as we move forward. By remembering the most important thing in any situation we are less likely to deviate, lose direction, or get lost and...

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The practice and pursuit of excellence

Excellence is the quality of being outstanding or extremely good at something. Often excellence can be framed in elitist terms, something reserved only for the very best in any field. However, it might be more helpful to think of excellence in personal terms, in terms...

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Contemplative inquiry: Content to context part 2

Our attention is drawn towards objects in the world rather than the space in which objects arise. The same is true in the mind. We notice the traffic in the mind (thoughts, emotions, sensations), rather than the road on which the traffic is moving (awareness). When we...

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Contemplative inquiry: Shifting from content to context

We can create a shift in awareness by moving from the contents of consciousness to consciousness itself. Or put another way, moving from content to context. The contents are the objects that we are aware of, while the context is the space in which the contents are...

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Contemplative inquiry: What am I aware of?

The internal landscape, or mindscape, is made up of many different contents of consciousness: thoughts, images, desires, memories, sensations, feelings, emotions. In any moment we can explore these internal phenomena by turning the light of awareness inwards and...

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Choosing to express the best that is within you

When facing into any situation one thing always lies within our control: How, or rather, who, we want to be. What happens in our lives is not always within our control but how we respond always is. We always get to choose the values we embody and express. Reflection...

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Authentic expression of your unique life force

Martha Graham writes about the creative nature of each individual life: “There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never...

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The practice of passion

“The glory of God is man fully alive” – St. Irenaeus What is the nature of passion, vitality, joy and aliveness? How can we cultivate these qualities in our lives? Passion can be understood as a strong liking, desire or devotion to a particular activity, object or...

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Creating portals of possibility

The sense of possibility is one of the most enlivening experiences we can have. Possibility is potentiality, prospect, hope. The open-ended, uncertain nature of life allows for possibility…to be possible! The future is unwritten, unknown, in which new things can...

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Faith, trust and confidence: Foundations for living

Faith is a sense of complete confidence or trust in someone or something. The story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer illustrates the power of the strength of faith, and shows how strong faith can develop deep courage. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor who was born in...

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Miracle on the Hudson: Values and strengths in action

Here is a story about strengths and resilience in action: On January 15, 2009, US airways flight 1549 took off from New York heading to Charlotte, North Carolina. Shortly after take-off, Captain Chelsey Sullenberger (known as ‘Sully’) radioed air traffic control to...

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Parts of a whole – Interdependence and interconnection

The world is not made up of separate parts that together make up a whole, but rather, a whole that is made up of different parts that are related to and interact with each other. Interdependence means that two or more people or things are dependent on each other to...

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Seeing obstacles as opportunities to exercise strengths

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” ― Helen Keller Suffering becomes beautiful when anyone bears great calamities with...

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Practising courage in the face of fear

There was once a man who was terrified of his own shadow and lived in fear of the sound of his own footsteps. Walking along one day he entered a panic and tried to flee at top speed. But as fast as he ran, his shadow and footsteps kept up with him and made him run all...

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Living the questions: The key to a meaningful life

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live...

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Practicing perseverance and getting gritty

“Itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout Down came the rain And washed the spider out Out came the sun and dried up all the rain And the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again.” Grit is courage and resolve, or strength of character. Persistence means to...

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What is the value of a human life?

What is the value and meaning of a human life? Does it lie in longevity? In achievement? Pleasure? Success? Does the value of our lives lie in the amount of happy or enjoyable moments we have? Does it lie in what we create or generate (Art, children, career)? Our...

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Acts of care and compassionate contribution

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?” The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is...

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Cultivating hope and optimism

“Hope” is the thing with feathers - That perches in the soul - And sings the tune without the words - And never stops - at all -   And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard - And sore must be the storm - That could abash the little Bird That kept so many warm -...

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Aristotle and eudaimonia: Unfolding from within

‘‘If happiness is activity in accordance with virtue, it is reasonable that it should be in accordance with the highest virtue; and this will be that of the best thing in us.’’ – Aristotle Joar Vitterso writes that the exercise of virtues, or what is often termed...

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Feelings, meanings, and the inner landscape in education

We live in an emotionally-phobic society. There is a deep distrust and fear of feeling and emotion, such that this essential aspect of our humanity is largely left out of social, educational and organisational life. When someone asks how you are do you reply honestly?...

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The educative power of presence

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou The most important element that we bring to any human endeavour or interaction is the quality of our own...

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Nature-fulfilment theory: The pursuit of human excellence

Abraham Maslow describes the aim of a humanistic education as self-actualisation, or, another way of understanding this much used but often misunderstood concept, becoming fully human. This means “the development of the fullest height that the human species can stand...

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Identity and purpose: The essentials of education

In a society that puts such value on efficiency and productivity we are often quite resistant to the practice of deep contemplation, specifically contemplating the why of things, questioning the reasons that we do what we do. Why(!) is this? Why questions are...

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Integration: The essence of health

How does a system thrive and flourish? What makes a system healthy? A folktale from the Philippines tells of a large family that lived in a large palm tree house. One day the different members of the family began to argue about who was the most important member. Soon...

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The making of meaningful moments

“I sat, a solitary man, In a crowded London shop, An open book and empty cup On the marble table-top. While on the shop and street I gazed My body of a sudden blazed; And twenty minutes more or less It seemed, so great my happiness, That I was blessed and could...

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The art of attention: How we create our experience

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ― Albert Einstein Whether we experience our life as a miracle or not depends on the way in which we attend to our lives. What we pay...

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The cosmic perspective and the unity of life

"All I know is I was stunned in a way that was completely unexpected. It was overwhelmingly impressive — beyond anything I’d heard from my colleagues who’ve flown before. We just can’t describe it, you know? When you go to different places here on Earth and experience...

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Facing the wild animals of the inner jungle

The Inner Workings The inner working of a human being is like a jungle.  Sometimes wolves dominate. Sometimes wild hogs. Be wary when you breathe. At one moment gentle, generous qualities, pass from one nature to another. The next moment vicious qualities move in...

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The mismatch between modern societies and ancient brains

In his book, The social neuroscience of education, Louis Cozolino describes the brain as a ‘social organ’ that has evolved “to be linked to and learn from other brains in the context of emotionally significant relationships…the brain has evolved to learn within a...

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Sifting into the internal landscape

The art of resilience is learning to access and effectively use resources available to us when needed. In order to act resiliently and resourcefully we must first be in touch with what is happening so that we know what we need in each moment. We can be so busy that we...

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Invitational education: Engaging the imagination

What if we were to structure society and our education systems to conform to human needs rather than the other way around? What if we let the individual direct their own educational activity? The sad reality is that before children go to school, they are alive,...

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Education for vocation: Cultivating purpose in the young

If we were to design an educational system from scratch what would we design it for? What aims and purposes would we have? What might we hope to ‘draw out’ in the young? What kind of person would we seek to create? When thinking of education, I think it is important...

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Cultivating equanimity: Meditating on transcience

'Once upon a time there lived a man named Freddie, a wise leader, who, in spite of his great wisdom, often struggled with emotional highs and lows. Freddie was prone to periods of great elation where he would make very poor decisions, and periods of great despair...

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Resourcing yourself in the face of challenge

In 1989 during the international Antarctic exhibition, six men spent nine months crossing the Antarctic. Two days before the expedition ended, they hit a blizzard. While they were camped Keizo Funatsu went out to feed his huskies. He was one of world’s great experts...

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Our greatest gift: The path to purpose

Rumi has a beautiful passage on meaning and purpose: "There is one thing in this world you must never forget to do. If you forget everything else and not this, there's nothing to worry about, but if you remember everything else and forget this, then you will have done...

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Practice: Seek and savour

This practice is designed to increase positive emotion and deepen resilience by cultivating curiosity and experiencing pleasure. This can be done at any time in any place. In the first step we ‘prime our mind’ to seek out some positive experience. In doing so we are...

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Communicating is creating: Transforming foes into friends

Reflections (A wisdom story) Once upon a time, a Russian peasant went to visit Moscow, the big city. He arrived at its fanciest hotel. His boots were covered with mud, his clothing was torn, and his appearance was dishevelled. Despite all this, the clerk at the hotel...

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The cultivation of the peak experience

“I sat, a solitary man, In a crowded London shop, An open book and empty cup On the marble table-top. While on the shop and street I gazed My body of a sudden blazed; And twenty minutes more or less It seemed, so great my happiness, That I was blessed and could...

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The perception of possibility

A story is told of a group of blind men who heard that a strange animal, called an elephant, had been brought to the town, but none of them were aware of its shape and form. Out of curiosity, they said: "We must inspect and know it by touch, of which we are capable"....

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The mind is a place of its own: from problems to paradise

There is middle eastern story about a man who is very unhappy because his family are oppressing him. His wife constantly torments him. His children annoy and hassle him. He feels hard done by and thinks it is time he went away in search of heaven. After searching for...

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The danger of denial

'One evening, as Mulla Nasruddin was setting out to call on some of his friends, an old friend happened to come along. It was twenty years since they had seen each other. Both were beside themselves with joy. “It is ages since we met.” said Nasruddin. “I am so very...

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Independence and authenticity: To thine own self be true

One of Chuang Tzu's stories recounts the following: 'Chuang Tzu was one day fishing, when the Prince of Ch'u sent two high officials to interview him, saying that his Highness would be glad of Chuang Tzu's assistance in the administration of his government. The latter...

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Learning how to live

A Sufi story called 'The scholar' recounts the following: "Nasrudin, ferrying a pedant across a piece of rough water, said something ungrammatical to him. "Have you never studied grammar?" asked the scholar. "No." "Then half of your life has been wasted." A few...

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Creating a culture of care

An old myth tells the story of a time when ‘care’ was crossing a river and she saw some clay. She picked it up, and slowly began to shape it. While contemplating the beauty of what she had made, Jupiter came by and ‘care’ asked him to give it spirit, which he gladly...

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The tragedy of the talents

The Parable of the Talents  “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received...

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Obstacles or opportunities?

A story: A doorkeeper stands on guard before the temple of the Law. To this doorkeeper there comes a man who begs for admittance to the Law, but the doorkeeper says that he cannot admit the man at the moment. The man, on reflection, asks if he will be allowed then to...

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Courage at the cliff-edge

'The tiger, the man, and God' A man was being chased by a tiger. He ran as hard as he could until he was at the edge of a cliff with the tiger in hot pursuit. The man looked over the edge of the cliff and saw a branch growing out of the side of the cliff a few feet...

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The search for meaning

Once there lived a king, he had everything he wished for, but one fine day three questions came across his mind. The questions were: What is the most important time? Who is the most important person? What is the most important thing to do? He became pretty restless...

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Changing the lens through which you look

A story is told of a Chinese farmer and his son who live in a small village, and one day they wake up to find their only horse has disappeared. The farmer looks at his crestfallen son, who now has no horse to plough the field, shrugs his shoulders, and says “This may...

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The transformative power of perception

A belligerent samurai, an old Japanese tale goes, once challenged a Zen master to explain the concept of heaven and hell. But the monk replied with scorn, “You’re nothing but a lout—I can’t waste my time with the likes of you!” His very honour attacked, the samurai...

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Maslow’s meditations for nurturing our higher natures

“Never underestimate the power of a single individual to affect the world. Remember, one candle in a cave lights everything.” – Abraham Maslow Maslow offers a series of meditations for what he refers to as ‘being-values’ or higher values. These include creativity,...

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Questioning for a change

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live...

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Challenging and changing negative thought patterns

"We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far." - Swami Vivekananda "All that we are is the result of what we have thought." - The Buddha When encountering a troublesome thought pattern,...

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‘What if my whole life has been wrong?’

“It was true, as the doctor said, that Ivan Ilyich’s physical sufferings were terrible, but worse than the physical sufferings were his mental sufferings which were his chief torture. His mental sufferings were due to the fact that that night, as he looked at...

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‘My life is my message’

Once, while Gandhi’s train was pulling out of a station, a European reporter ran to his compartment window. “Do you have a message I can take back to my people?” he asked. It was Gandhi’s day of silence, a vital respite from his demanding speaking schedule, so he...

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Blessings

My fiftieth year had come and gone, I sat, a solitary man, In a crowded London shop, An open book and empty cup On the marble table-top. While on the shop and street I gazed My body of a sudden blazed; And twenty minutes more or less It seemed, so great my happiness,...

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Wise choices

After a long, hard climb up a mountain a group of seekers found themselves in front of a great teacher. ‘How do we become wise?’ they ask. ‘Good choices’, replies the teacher ‘But how do we make good choices?’ ‘From experience’ ‘And how do we get experience?’ ‘Bad...

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Living with the end in mind

The Buddha advocated contemplating these truths everyday: This body will grow old; I am not beyond ageing This body will become sick; I am not beyond sickness This body will die; I am not beyond death Everything near and dear to me will become separated from me Try...

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Moral courage and the altruistic perspective

Why is it that in the face of great suffering or crisis that some people respond with a heroic compassion and generosity, endangering their own lives to help others, while other people, when faced with the same situation act selfishly, or further on the other extreme,...

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The freedom to choose

Did you ever wake up one day and wonder how you got to where you are in life? It can sometime seem as if life has 'happened' to us - we don't remember actively choosing the path we have taken. It is like the river of life has swept us along in a particular direction...

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Wrestling angels

Genesis tells the story of Jacob wrestling with an angel: One night, in the dark, Jacob was pinned to the ground by an assailant. Struggle as he might, he couldn’t escape, his attacker was too strong. All night the two rolled around the ground wrestling with each...

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Optimising your emotional style

Renowned neuroscientist, Richard Davidson, in his book, The emotional life of your brain, claims that there are six dimensions that determine our emotional style. According to Davidson, the six dimensions “arose from systematic studies of the neural basis of emotion”....

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Developing emotional intelligence

In their book, Emotional intelligence 2.0, Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves outline the four skills that constitute emotional intelligence. The first two relate to personal competence and the second two relate to social competence. 1) Self-awareness Self-awareness is...

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The key to personal change: Cultivating a growth mindset

Why is it that some people flourish under fire, remain positive in the face of adversity, grow and become stronger through difficulties? In her book Mindset: The new psychology of success, Stanford University psychologist, Carol Dweck, argues that how we deal with the...

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The positive potential of everyday experiences

We have within us the power to cultivate positive emotions and experiences in our everyday lives. We have the power to develop joy in ourselves in simple yet profound ways. So often we look to the big events in our lives to make us happy: marriage; career; family;...

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The key to happiness: Attitude and acceptance

“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and can’t control that...

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Two words to transform your life

"If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough." - Meister Eckhart Have you ever deeply observed the natural world at work? When I watch the birds and the trees the clouds and the sea – the very earth itself – I am always struck...

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The painless path to personal change

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” – Mary Shelley When it comes to change, always think small. We have a tendency to view change as something that requires a dramatic overhaul in our lives. Whether it is starting a diet, changing...

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