Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

I didn’t believe that I would survive after contracting depression 13 years ago. There didn’t seem to be light at the end of the tunnel. However, it is real and people do suffer from it. Often, I felt that I was largely alone and no one else could understand what I was going through. The solution to overcome depression is to speak about it openly. Time can heal things and words can set you free.

The Day I Died. I suffered from depression from about a year when I was 24. My great-grandmother committed suicide previously. Life was so bad that I contemplated suicide. Even my appetite was affected. This was an existential horror. I literally attempted suicide.

Death was something that scared me. And death only happens to people who have been living. There were infinitely more people who had never been alive. I wanted to be one of those people. That old classic wish. To never have been born. To have been one of the three hundred million sperm that hadn’t made it. – Matt Haig

Why Depression is hard to understand. It is invisible. Your troubles seem to be never-ending and tormenting. It is mysterious in nature and anyone can suffer from it, even comedians.

A Beautiful View. I wanted to attempt suicide when I was holidaying in Spain. I did manage to walk to the edge of the cliff. A depressed person doesn’t want to feel happy, they just want to be freed of pain. My loved ones didn’t know what I was going through. I decided not to take my life.

I think life always provides reasons to not die, if we listen hard enough. Those reasons can stem from the past – the people who raised us, maybe, or friends or lovers – or from the future – the possibilities we would be switching off. – Matt Haig

Pills. My doctor advised me to take pills, even though I didn’t want to. Even after medication, I still felt that I was divorced from reality and a sense of panic was still within me

Killer. Suicide is becoming increasingly common and it is very scary indeed. Some people underestimate the effects of depression.

Negative Placebo. I tended to drink too much when I was not anxious. Diazepam seems to increase my panic levels. To me, the drug was the problem.

Feeling the Rain without an Umbrella. We are made to believe that medication can work all the time. To me, sleeping pills were more effective than anti-anxiety medication. In reality, many people cannot do without pills like Diazepam. There are professors who believe that there are other ways to counter depression other than drugs. Examples could be intervening and recognizing when we are in a low-mood state.

Life. I didn’t get along with my ex-colleagues. I felt out of my place when hanging out with them. I quitted the job and thought that I was a failure in life.

Infinity. Normally, people only think about one thing at once so as to simplify things. However, depressed people think about hidden stuff.

The evolutionary psychologists might be right. We humans might have evolved too far. The price for being intelligent enough to be the first species to be fully aware of the cosmos might just be a capacity to feel a whole universe’s worth of darkness. – Matt Haig

The hope that hadn’t happened. It felt better seeing my parents smile. I returned to where I grew up as a child. I seemed okay for now.

The Cyclone. Depression felt like a weight, both a metaphorical and emotional one. I felt trapped in a cyclone.

My symptoms. There were many different types of symptoms at play here. The warning signs were all present. I kept thinking that I was going through this alone.

But with depression and anxiety the pain isn’t something you think about because it is thought. You are not your back but you are your thoughts. – Matt Haig

The Bank of Bad Days. You store memories of bad days but you always remind yourself of worst days.

Things depression says to you. Depression will tell you to continue staying in bed. It will tell you that everyone will be dead eventually. It will tell you that tomorrow will be worse than today.

Facts. I craved for knowledge. Many people are not open or acknowledge that they have depression. Men are three times more likely to kill themselves as compared to women. Depression is becoming more common and it is scary.

The head against the window. I thought it would be better to be the 80 year-old on the street as compared to my own current identity. The tears came from my stomach. My dad cried too. Crying can be contagious sometimes.

From the outside a person sees your physical form, sees that you are a unified mass of atoms and cells. Yet inside you feel like a Big Bang has happened. You feel lost, disintegrated, spread across the Universe amid infinite dark space. – Matt Haig

Pretty Normal Childhood. People with depression may have mental illnesses in the past. However, I was often anxious when I was younger.

A Visit. I realized that I had a phobia for tight places.

Boys don’t cry. Men are more likely to kill themselves as compared to women. Why is that? Most men see mental illness as a form of weakness. Often, they don’t like to seek help. Learn to accept that depression is a human experience after all.

It took me more than a decade to be able to talk openly, properly, to everyone, about my experience. I soon discovered the act of talking is in itself a therapy. Where talk exists, so does hope. – Matt Haig


Once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about. – Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Cherry blossom. You become obsessed with how your brain functions. I wished I could be a blossom that floated away from a tree. Depression is a mysterious illness.

Unknown unknowns. The brain is incredibly complex. Depression is not about chemical imbalance. It could be due to the lack of serotonin. However, there are also research which point to other directions. Neuroscience is constantly improving. However, the human brain hasn’t evolved from years ago. Our cognition ability hasn’t improved from the past. Exercise does help you to feel better about yourself.

The brain is the body –part 1. When you are depressed, your body feels it too. For instance, you suffer heart palpitations, aching limbs, sweaty palms etc.

Psycho. I realized that I talked in my sleep when I was younger. I had many troubles and worries when I was a kid.

Jenga Days. Time passed extremely slowly when I was 13. A week seemed like a voyage.

Warning Signs. Depression is essentially an illness. It is often invisible. One might feel fatigued for no particular reason. Other symptoms could be loss of appetite, irritability, crying episodes etc.

Demons. I imagined a demon licking me when I closed my eyes. The more I tried not to think of it, the more it appeared. I couldn’t get rid of it at all.

Existence. It is not easy to not think that life is hard. This is the human condition. Humans have created remarkable things in their lifetimes. However, life is sweet even though we know that nothing lasts forever.

Life is hard. It may be beautiful and wonderful but it is also hard. The way people seem to cope is by not thinking about it too much. But some people are not going to be able to do that. – Matt Haig

Part 3: Rising

The art of walking on your own. Depression is often associated with anxiety issues. I forced myself to walk into situations alone. Although I was scared, I told myself that it would be ok. Even walking to the shop alone was incredibly scary for me. I told myself that it was just a shop. I had trouble standing still after purchasing something. It is never easy for a depressive to perform even simple tasks.

A Conversation Across Time – Part 2. I kept telling myself that I could do it. I made it to the shop. I realized that I needed to give myself reasons to stay alive.

Reasons to Stay Alive. Many other people have been here before and been in your shoes. Things are only going to get better from here. The pain won’t last forever. Hurricanes will run out of energy someday. Tell yourself that life will be worth it. There will be happy moments again.

You hate yourself. That is because you are sensitive. Pretty much every human could find a reason to hate themselves if they thought about it as much as you did. We’re all total bastards, us humans, but also totally wonderful. – Matt Haig

Your mind is a galaxy. More dark than light. But the light makes it worthwhile. Which is to say, don’t kill yourself. Even when the darkness is total. Always know that life is not still. Time is a space. You are moving through that galaxy. Wait for the stars. – Matt Haig

Love. No matter how much you love, you will never be free of pain. Andrea saved me. We have been together for 5 years. Love is being able to do weird stuff with another person and be yourself fully. I was lucky. When depression hit, Andrea was always there for me. I could always talk to her. She covered for me.

How to be there for someone with depression or anxiety. Understand that your presence matters. Listen. Educate yourself and realize that depressives can’t do simple tasks. Learn to be patient and ask them what can you do to help.

An Inconsequential Moment. I thought about work. It was a neutral thought. It was massive progress for me.

Things that have happened to me that have generated more sympathy than depression. There were a lot of other things.

Life on Earth to an alien. Explaining depression to someone not suffering from it is like explaining life on Earth to an alien. It can be very intense. It is your life. Everything is magnified in intensity. Even minor changes in weather seem massive to you. It is like a sharpening of the senses.

White Space. I liked the white space. Light was everything. I started to pick up reading. It was good that I fell in love with reading all over again. Words are the escape route. Books were the way out for me.

There is this idea that you either read to escape or you read to find yourself. I don’t really see the difference. We find ourselves through the process of escaping. – Matt Haig

The Power and the Glory. I read ‘The Power and the Glory’ by Graham Greene. I loved his works. There was something which I could relate to. There was hope of redemption at the end and it was inspiring. Some of the other books which inspired me were ‘The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton’; ‘Letters of Keats’; ‘Oranges are not the only fruit by Jeanette Winterson’; ‘Money by Martin Amis’; ‘The Diary of Samuel Pepys’.

Paris. I was afraid of travelling and felt a panic attack coming back. I was afraid of saying no as it made me seem like a loser. Eventually I went and realized that things were not so bad. I confronted my fears calmly. Travelling gives you perspective and solution. Travel has since become one of my favorite things to do.

Reasons to be Strong. I needed to be near Andrea. I had to be strong one after I realized Andrea’s mum had cancer. It was horrible having to wait for her mum in hospital. However, eventually, they returned and I was okay again. Later, I challenged myself and eventually got a book published. I dedicated the book to Andrea.

Weapons. I was going to be a published author. My self-esteem was boosted massively. I knew that wellness was possible.

Running. Running was a great alleviator of depression and anxiety. It was difficult but that only motivated to work harder and train more. It undid the damage from smoking and drinking. Murakami loved to run too. It really helped to train the mind. My weapons against depression were writing, reading, talking, travelling etc.

The brain is the body –part 2. Mental illness leads to other ailments too. Derealisation is a symptom that makes you feel well, not real.

Famous People. Even famous people like David Foster Wallace and Robin Williams took their own lives. Depression can happen to just about anyone. Being overly attached to material items can lead to greater suffering. Depression makes us think too much.

Abraham Lincoln and the Fearful Gift. He wanted to accomplish something in his lifetime. He insisted in acknowledging his fears and delve deeper into them. He was one of the most serious men around. Depression was something Churchill had but that inspired him. The motivation behind ‘The Scream by Edvard Munch’ was also existential terror. Franz Kafka was also a depressed person. Melancholy fueled Lincoln’s great work.

I find that being grimly aware of mortality can make me steadfastly determined to enjoy life where life can be enjoyed. It makes me value precious moments with my children, and with the woman I love. – Matt Haig

Part 4: Living

The World. If everything was happy and great, why would people need anything more? However, it is important to be calm and learn to settle.

Life is the people who love you. No one will ever choose to stay alive for an iPhone. It’s the people we reach via the iPhone that matter. – Matt Haig

Mushroom Clouds. It is easy to ignore warning signs. Now, I know what to look out for. I had to give a speech in public in school and I felt incredibly nervous. A rash broke out around my skin. I experienced a panic attack but managed to finish my presentation.

The Big A. Anxiety and depression co-exist like a nightmare marriage. We are all overloaded by information in the modern world. Do we all have to live with anxiety?

Slow Down. It is important to learn to slow down. We can use CAT and MRI. Neuroscience isn’t perfect yet. Pills might not be the only cure too. Yoga is good at helping you to slow down. Take deep breaths. Learn to meditate and let the tension go. Always live in the present.

Parties. It is difficult to walk in a room full of people. I hated parties. My panic episodes seemed to be entering relapse. I ran to Andrea. Thankfully, after I left the party, the panic attacks subsided. Failure can be a step forward.

Part 5: Being

Fighting makes it worse. I learn to accept depression and anxiety. Now, I am simply glad to be alive. I want to experience as much of life as I can. I want to feel as much as I can.

I feel the sheer unfathomable marvel that is this strange life we have, here on earth, the seven billion of us, clustered in our towns and cities on this pale blue dot of a planet, spending our allotted 30,000 days as best we can, in glorious insignificance. – Matt Haig

How to be a bit happier than Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer thought that life was about futile purposes. He thought that achieving goals only brought a short satisfaction. Unattained goals cause pain. Even if you achieve your goal, you will need to set another one and the process continues on and on. The solution is to give things up. His solution was to lead a very unambitious life and deny their instincts. How do you stop wanting and worrying? How do you get off the treadmill once and for all? The answer is acceptance. Buddhists believe in mindfulness. It is important to connect with the Universe and meditate more. It is important to grateful and compassionate. One should be selfless and mindful.

We all matter because we are all alive. And so kindness is an active way in which we can see and feel the bigger picture. – Matt Haig

Thoughts on Time. We all fear death. Time does seem to travel at different speeds. Being aware is important. How much are we living in the present? We think that life is short so that we need to achieve as much as possible. However, by doing so, it seems that time will pass too quickly. We all have to accept how small we are in this world.


How to Develop Emotional Health by Oliver James

Introduction. It is something that you are experiencing now. Learn to feel comfortable in your own skin. Self-awareness is important. You are adaptable yet authentic. You have a strong ethical code. You are spontaneous in nature. Your emotional health allows you to feel resilient. The fact is that most of us are not able to have perfect emotional health all the time. Those who have stressful jobs rarely lead good and stable emotional health. Emotional health is different from mental health. Happiness is indeed a fleeting state. Emotional health has little to do with genes or hereditary factors. There are 5 key elements of emotional health. They are 1) insightfulness (ability to understand); 2) living in the present (have your own identity); 3) fluid 2 way relationships (interact freely); 4) authenticity (live by your values); 5) playfulness and vivacity (approaching life with joy). It is certainly possible to achieve all 5 of the above. Being cared for when you are young is an important component of emotional health.

Once you passed early adulthood, your likelihood of being mentally healthy improves with each year. – Oliver James

Insightfulness. You should recognize the early signs of things that reduce emotional health. Our present is sometimes shaped by our past. For instance, we can unlearn bad habits taught by our parents. How you were brought up by your parents will have an impact on how you raise your future kids. Your childhood has a big impact in your adulthood. The ‘fight-or-flight’ hormone might be present in kids who were abused in the past. It is important for the mother not to develop the fight or flight mechanism during pregnancy as it might affect the child’s development in future. Parents need to be secure in their love during the early stage of development. By 6, you are largely influenced by your upbringing. A human’s IQ and personality does not change much over time. Life is such that one thing leads to another. For instance, your disposition as a kid might attract a certain group of friends. Most people take careers as a reflection of our parents, or as a response. Sometimes, you need to be aware that family traditions might be passed down. However, this can be mitigated and you should have a mind to think for yourself. The eldest sibling is usually less risky taking and more obedient. The youngest sibling typically has to innovate and be different to get attention. It is easier to correct if the influences occurred when you were 6. If it had occurred when you were younger, it would be more difficult as you will have difficulty recollecting. It is not advisable to feel that your traits are pre-determined.

If you can gain an accurate knowledge of how you were cared for as a child and develop insight into how it governs your present experience, it can transform who you are. – Oliver James

By age 30, our proneness to common emotional problems, like depression or anxiety, is well-established. If you have already suffered them by then, you are liable to do so again. Our main tool for change for the better is insight, especially about the influence of the past upon our present. – Oliver James

To the extent that you have simply inherited a damaging family culture, and depending on your capacity to feel safe to challenge your parents in your mind, you can call that culture into question. – Oliver James

Living in the Present: A Sense of Self. It is crucial to know who you are and build a strong identity. If not, you must want to seek others’ attention. In fact, you may want a lot of achievements and make yourself extremely busy just to distract yourself from loneliness. As a baby, we are completely vulnerable and powerless. We hate that feeling. The carer, when feeding the baby, can have a strong impact on the emotional health of the child. His actions can confer physical sensations in the baby. Some people can have seeming tumultuous pasts but yet exhibit strong emotional health. Absence of care by both parents can lead to a weak identity in a child. The need is to know your child intimately and know their needs. Serious dissociation can lead to depersonalization etc. The earlier the child is maltreated, the largely the impact in his adult life. Having a strong parental figure is proven to help build resilience for the child later on in life. Some people with weak selves might end up shooting their caregivers. Therapy and medication can help. However, there are other ways to address a weak self too. For instance, picking up a hobby or finding an interest helps. Some people seek success in their adult life so as to compensate for feeling helpless when young. However, if you are not careful, your true self may not be expressed if you are busy at work etc. Some people like the thrill of being associated with being called a certain position. Weak selves tend to vivacious in their lives. However, they often neglect the questions which are deep etc. Their vivacity in life may be counterfeit in nature. Community and belonging can aid people with a weak self. We are often identified by what we do at work. Never express your individualism by your possessions. Personality disorders are more common among highly individualistic societies, like America. There are flaws to collectivism, but at least it helps a weak-self live in a developed country. Doing things with your friends improves mental and emotional health. One can also gain identity via religious activities. There is always the possibility of volition even in dire situations.

However, hard work and exceptional achievement can provide a self, and be every bit as addictive as heroin, producing electrochemical changes in the body which compensate for infantile lacks. – Oliver James

For the weak-selfed person, being an individual is hard. You have to decide who to be, what to do, and if you lack self, that is a huge demand, making resorting to drugs or alcohol or a workaholic lifestyle more likely. – Oliver James

Fluid, Two-Way Relationships. People can bring you down with their negative personalities etc. As a kid, we can experience either secure or insecure types of attachment. We may be rejected by our carer and this can have an impact on our well-being. Remember, hell is not the other people. Do not let money be your lodestar. For people who have been abused, they are afraid of getting into relationships with people. To them, relationships might seem dangerous. They are afraid of even being touched or hugged. Being very successful in your life can draw people to you. However, these are often just acquaintances and are unlikely to be your friends. If you have no secure figure in your childhood, you might not trust any adult again. However, a stable relationship with a therapist might make things better. Kids from broken homes also tend to suffer. How can I improve my relationships? Be emotionally healthy before deciding to have a kid. Compare with your childhood to see the differences between your parents traits and spouses’ traits. Separation will be very damaging for your children. It is proven by research that being in a lousy relationship could be better than not being in any. Learn to seek more intimacy. Modern people have more facebook friends, but less true friends. You need to distance sex from relationships. Try to connect with strangers and be nice to strangers around you. Sex is definitely not companionship in any way. For emotionally healthy people, the other people are like heaven.

Because our relationship with our opposite-sexed parent is so influential in determining what we find attractive in others, we have a lamentable tendency to repeat the past, picking partners who duplicate the behaviours of our parents. – Oliver James

Authenticity in Our Careers. Many people are satisfied with their jobs and do not want to see progress. This is good. If you know what enough is, you can be contented. Sometimes, being too ambitious can bring on undue stress. Being calm and self-confident can exude beauty as well. As parents, all you want is for your kids to be happy. Learn to stay authentic in both your education and career. If you know what you enjoy, you can just focus on that and not focus on everything to burn yourself out. Good values must be communicated when young. The message and values sent must be consistent throughout. Being too angry or forceful to children might backfire. If the child identifies with the value more himself, chances are the good behaviour will last. Let the child have the freedom to choose. Whatever a parent says has to be authentic or else the kid will be able to detect it. For high-achievers, it is more difficult to retain good level of emotional health. Coercive methods can back-fire in the future when bringing up a kid. Americans tend to be more narcissistic. Do not live your life like a robot. In some European countries, it is understood and is ingrained in the culture that one should not simply seal the limelight. Learn to play down differences in ability and personality. It is important to understand your goals/motives at work. If you follow a goal your parents set for you, it is more of an extrinsic goal. You will be caught on the hedonic treadmill if you don’t know when to stop. You need to learn how to navigate office politics, because it is inevitable. Learn to form alliances with those who are with you. You need to work smart and learn to deal with others. Sometimes, it is necessary to wear different facades at the workplace. It is necessary, once in a while, to do things that are not pleasant.

When it comes to achievement, they have a well-developed concept of enough. Professionally, they are satiable. They do not constantly compare themselves to others, or feel the need to keep up with the Joneses. – Oliver James

A clear sign of identification has occurred is when someone does things throughout life because they enjoy them, like hobbies. At its best, they manage to build a career or find a job based on these interests. – Oliver James

In the context of work, people with intrinsic motives and goals have been shown to seek intellectual fulfilment, creative self-expression and a sense of mastery in completing tasks. The extrinsic look for evermore money and professional prestige. – Oliver James

Yes, it helps to be competent at the tasks that the job requires, and to be a hard worker, but without office political skills, you will be lucky to thrive. – Oliver James

We all develop a variety of personae to deal with others, in all situations, including in family life. At the office, an emotionally healthy person will consciously develop different masks to be put on when dealing with different people. – Oliver James

Playfulness and Vivacity in Parenting. It is important to make it fun during the parenthood stage. Learn to create something new. A loving partner might not be ideal. Learn to understand your own situation. Motherhood can improve a woman’s emotional health. Becoming a parent helps calm you down. You need to care for someone else. For this to happen, you need to have excellent emotional health too. Everything feels good again. How we parent is affected by how we were cared for when we were young. Parenting has a key role in nurturing a genetically difficult baby and making them normal. Nurturing is crucial for a child. There are three types of mothers: 1) Hugger; 2) Organizer; 3) Fleximums. For a Hugger, financial constraints will cause her harm as she will not able to offer excellent care on the child. Do not simply choose a man for his attractiveness, but you must think whether he is capable of raising a kid. Divorces are ugly and often the person ends up committing the same mistake. Your childhood will affect who you see as being attractive in future to be your partner. A martial therapist can be useful indeed. Try to acknowledge and identify traits of your parents in your partner.

Conclusion: Meeting the Challenges. You have to live more in the present. Learn to be more authentic and insightful. Be playful and vivacious. Success is ever partial. You cannot be completely emotionally healthy, but you can always strive to improve your current state. You must know which branch you are stepping on. If you had a negative childhood, find ways to stop it from affecting you. Do not take the abuse too personally. Learn to take stock of what you have. It usually takes a major event to wake people up. Learn to practise mindfulness and meditation. Vow to start living now and start over. Picture yourself in a symbolic grave. Sometimes, books can be a revelation on its own. Refrain from substance abuse as it might affect your mental health. If you have serious emotional health issues, seek help. Use CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). Hope for the best, expect the worst.

If only we could be satisfied with what we have got, materially, we could start to focus on the other stuff, which is so integral to emotional health: our intimates, our friends, our communities and hobbies, as well as more profound experiences, like enjoyment of the arts, or spending time in beautiful natural places, or spiritual pursuits – in fact, whatever rocks your inner boat. – Oliver James


Confident Now by Noel N

If you want to be more confident, this is the book for you. I am more confident than I ever used to be. This book mentions the ACT Therapy (Acceptance & Commitment). 1) Practise the skills; 2) Utilize them effectively; 3) Evaluate results; 4) Adjust as needed. If you had unlimited confidence, would you do anything differently? This book will cover issues on mindfulness, goal-setting, fear communication etc.

Mindfulness. This is an ancient concept found in Buddhism etc. It involves being present in the current moment. It involves being curious and open, especially in unpleasant situations. Defusion, expansion and engagement are all key elements. Defusion involves detaching yourself from your thoughts in order to prevent them from controlling your actions. Have a sense of separation from such a thought. Singing the thought aloud helps. Recite your thought in a silly voice. Imagine your thoughts on leaves which are floating down a stream. Keep repeating until you get the hang of it. Stay in the present moment. When life gives you pain, try to enlarge and open and accept the pain. Expansion means making room for your emotions. It is important to notice, acknowledge and then make room. Be aware. Engagement means to be engaged in the present moment. Take deep breaths and then relax. Breathe in, breathe out. When you get distracted, please return your focus on your breathing.

Values. Keep your values strong and keep pushing. Stand for something in your life. What can a clear set of values do for you? An example is that of Nelson Mandela. Goals set in accordance to values are very fulfilling indeed. Values are more about long term reward than short-term gain. Even if you don’t achieve your goals, it is satisfying to be able to live up to your values. Create a values list and write it down. There are plenty of values that this book suggests. Values are not rules.

Goals. A ship must have a rudder. You must be able to steer your own ship. Set meaningful goals for yourself and work towards them. Do not drift about aimlessly in life. Many people are full of self-doubt. Your beliefs must change first. You need to want it and know what you want before you can achieve it. True success is living by your values. Embrace the process and let go of the outcome. The process is more important than the outcome. Now that you have written your values, learn to write down your goals in terms of both career, love, play, health etc. Choose one area of your life to focus on first. It is very important not to let your thoughts hold you back.

Fear. When we are in autopilot mode, we are not aware of our emotions. How do you face your fears? Notice which part of your body experiences fear. Let your mind chatter away. Acknowledge your feeling by its name. For example, say ‘Here’s stress’. Make space and breathe. Loosen up and feel yourself. Expand your awareness. Every day, you should be working towards your values. Do something fun and meaningful each day.

Remember, the actions of confidence come first and the feelings of confidence come later. – Unknown

Self-Acceptance. You have to fully accept yourself and avoid judging yourself at all costs. Focus on how to improve instead. When you recognize a judgment, stop and acknowledge that it is a judgment. Break the habit of judging other people as well. Learn to compete with yourself instead. Focus on every experience and learn from it.

Body. Exercise makes you happier and more confident. It makes you look more radiant and happy. Do not neglect your health and your body. Try walking for long distances if you have not incorporated exercise into your routine. Nutrition is important as well. Incorporate healthy diet choices into your lifestyle.

Communication. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Communicating with confidence is important. Learn to genuinely treat people well. Practise using confident body language. Fake it till you become it. Do not hesitate to record yourself in the mirror etc. Pay attention to how professional leaders project their voice. If you are good at social interaction, people will pay attention to you.

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. – Lao Tzu

Appreciation. Be grateful for everything you have. Say thanks to everyone. Savor every last experience of life. Make a gratitude notecard to note down the important moments in life. Practising gratitude isn’t easy. Be a giving and compassionate person. Give without constraints. Make small donations to charity. Buy a gift to show appreciation for someone.

If we give with no thought of getting, there is no limit to the abundance that will accrue to us. We limit our happiness to the extent that we try to measure out happiness to others. – Earl Nightingale

Forgiveness. Do not hold on to anger. Instead, learn to let it go. If you are healthy, you should be able to forgive others. Don’t be a slave to negative experiences. The past has no power over the present. Forgive yourself for your past mistakes and learn to move on.

Practice. Nothing will happen if you don’t practice. Being confident is a skill that is useful and you can carry with for the rest of your life.

Win. Russ Harris wrote a book on confidence. There are 10 rules for confidence. Negative thoughts are normal. Learn to defuse them, but do not fight them. True success is living by your values. Befriend your fears. Peak performance is achieved through total engagement.


Tao Te Ching (道德经) by Lao Tzu

It consists of 81 short poems in traditional Chinese. It is known as ‘The Book of the Way’. It is a book of deep wisdom on the art of living. From his teachings, Lao Tzu did care about society. Non-action is the purest and most effective form of action. The doer can vanish completely from the deed. He emphasises a lot on softness. Give up to Tao and be compassionate. The more solitary you are, the more compassionate you can build and better you can distinguish good from evil. It is a deeply moral teaching. Evil isn’t a force, but simply seen as something opaque. The author has interacted with the actual Zen masters. The author attempts to translate his mind.

Only the unnameable is eternally real. Free yourself from desire. Mystery and manifestations arise from darkness.

Opposites support each other, for instance, difficult and easy. The key is let things come and go. Do not possess and expect. Then your work will last forever.

When people see things as beautiful, other things become ugly. When people see some things as good, other things become bad.  – Lao Tzu

Do not do things excessively. Weaken your ambition and toughen your resolve. Practice the art of non-doing. Lose yourself.

Tao is a well that can never be used up and is filled with infinite possibilities.

Tao is not biased and welcomes everyone. Use it, but do not talk of it, in order to understand it better.

Tao is always present inside you and you can use it any way you wish.

It is infinite because it has no desires and eternal because it has never been born, and thus cannot die. Detach yourself.

Be contented. Be yourself and don’t compare or compete with others. Others will start to respect you.

In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present. – Lao Tzu

Do your work and take a step back.

Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill. Keep sharpening your knife and it will be blunt. Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench. Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner. – Lao Tzu

Be original. Keep supple. Cleanse your vision. Love others without your imposing your views. Deal with only the vital matters. Step back from your own mind.

Work with being, but non-being is what we use.

Trust your inner vision. Keep your heart open.

Success is as dangerous as failure as your position is precarious. Keep your feet grounded. Hope and fear are just thoughts of our mind.

Realize where you come from and that is the key to wisdom.

The master welcomes everything and is incredibly patient. Wait for the situation to change.

Empty your mind of everything. Understand yourself. Everything is serene at the source.

There is no need to talk as a master. Act by example instead. Trust your people.

Filial piety emerges when there is no peace in the family. Patriotism is born when the country is in chaos.

Throw away holiness and wisdom, morality and justice, industry and profit, and people will do fine.

Do not want what others want. I am expressionless. I possess nothing and drift around. I am different from the others.

Tao doesn’t cling to ideas. Let the light in. I see the Tao in myself.

Live by Tao, and you can be true to yourself.

Because the Master doesn’t display himself, people can see the light. Because he has nothing to prove, people can trust his words. Because he doesn’t know who he is, people recognize themselves in him. Because he has no goal in mind, everything he does succeeds. – Lao Tzu

Open yourself completely to experiences and be honest with them and how they make you feel.

Just do your job and let it go.

The beginning of the Universe can be known as Tao. It flows through everything. Man follows the Earth, Earth follows the Universe. The Universe follows Tao. Tao follows itself.

Do not allow yourself to be blown to and fro. Stay firm.

Embody the light.

A good traveller has no fixed plans, and is not intent upon arriving. A good artist lets his intuition lead him wherever it wants. A good scientist has freed himself of concepts and keeps his mind open to what is. – Lao Tzu

Be a pattern for the world. Accept the world as it is.

You can’t improve the world. See things as they are. Stand in the centre of the circle.

There is a time for being ahead, a time for being behind; a time for being in motion, a time for being at rest; a time for being vigorous, a time for being exhausted; a time for being safe, a time for being in danger. – Lao Tzu

Do not dominate events and understand that the Universe is out of control. Because he accepts himself, the whole world accepts him.

Peace is the highest value. How can you be content once peace is shattered? Rejoice in victory. Do not sadistic.

Know when institutions should stop and understand that names are provisional.

Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich. If you stay in the centre and embrace death with your whole heart, you will endure forever. – Lao Tzu

Be humble and do not be aware that you’re great.

When you grasp Tao, you will have peace in your heart. When you look for it, there’s nothing to see.

Have subtle perception of the way things are. Let your workings be a mystery, just show people the result.

Centre yourself in Tao and the world will be transformed. Have no desire and peace will be abounded.

Don’t try to be powerful. The Master has no will of his own. He only dwells in reality.

The Master does nothing, yet he leaves nothing undone. The ordinary man is always doing things, yet many more are left to be done. – Lao Tzu

View the world with compassion. Understand the whole.

Return and yield. All things are born of being. Being is born of non-being.

It is seemingly difficult to locate Tao. However, it does complete everything.

Male and female combination leads to harmony. Embrace your loneliness and be at peace with the Universe.

Non-action has huge value in this world. Teach with words is the Master’s way.

If you look to others for fulfilment, you will never truly be fulfilled. If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy with yourself. Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. – Lao Tzu

Allow things to happen and let Tao speak for itself.

See through your fears. Fear is an illusion. Do not prepare to defend yourself. Have no enemies.

The Master arrives without leaving. The more you know, the less you understand.

In Tao, things are dropped and non-action is practised. Let things go along by nature’s flow.

In Tao, it trusts everyone. Everyone is treated and taken care by Tao like children.

Give yourself up to the moment. Hold nothing back. Be ready for death.

Be spontaneous. Tao comforts and nourishes everyone.

If you close your mind in judgments and traffic with desires, your heart will be troubled. If you keep your mind from judging and aren’t led by the senses, your heart will find peace. – Lao Tzu

When you are extravagant or greedy, you are not being in line with Tao.

Look inside yourself and if you believe in Tao, you will prosper much.

Never expect anything and you won’t be disappointed. Thus, your spirit will never grow old.

Be like the Tao and give yourself up continually.

Stop trying to control. The more rules you have, the larger it will backfire. Let go of religion, economics and the law.

Do not impose your will, but still be pointed in a certain direction.

Be a moderate man and make sure of whatever that comes your way. Let go and care for others.

Give evil nothing to oppose and it will disappear itself.

Do not meddle in the affairs of others and see those who point out your faults as being very benevolent.

Offer to teach your new leader, Tao. Tao will forgive your mistakes.

Confront the difficult while it is easy; accomplish the great task by a series of small steps.

Nip danger in the bud and prevent it from escalating. Remain calm as a Master.

By non-knowing, you will not be stubborn and become more open to experiences.

If you want to lead, you must know how to follow. Place yourself below others. Do not compete with anyone.

I only teach 3 things: simplicity, patience and compassion. Be compassionate towards yourself.

The best businessmen only compete in the business of play. Follow the will of others.

Observe before moving. Do not underestimate your enemy. Victory will go to the one that yields first.

If you want to know Tao, look inside your heart.

The Master is a physician who heals herself of everything. She is whole again.

The Master steps back so that people won’t be confused. They have nothing to learn.

Tao doesn’t let a thing slip and overcomes without competing. It is constantly at ease.

All things change. Don’t cling on to one too tightly. The future can’t be controlled. Go with the flow.

Trust the common folks and leave them alone.

Whoever is stiff and inflexible is a discipline of death. Be soft and yielding.

The master can keep giving without fear.

Remain serene even when upset. Do not allow evil to enter your heart. Life is paradoxical.

Treat failure as an opportunity. Correct the mistakes yourself and do not expect things from others.

A master doesn’t need to travel. He is content at home and takes delight in everyday activities.

Wise men don’t have to prove anything. Do not dominate or force others.

The master has no possessions. The more he does for others, the happier he is. The more he gives to others, the wealthier he is. – Lao Tzu