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happy birthday

Birthdays are an important milestone.

Today, May 2nd, is my birthday. It’s a holiday here in Panama today (because it’s Labor Day, not because it’s my birthday). To celebrate this auspicious occasion, I’ve collected the 25 birthday quotes below:

  • onehouradayformula banner long“The first fact about the celebration of birthdays is that it is a good way of affirming defiantly, and even flamboyantly, that it is a good thing to be alive.” – G.K. Chesterton
  • “Because time itself is like a spiral, something special happens on your birthday each year: The same energy that God invested in you at birth is present once again.” – Menachem Mendel Schneerson
  • “Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest.” – Larry Lorenzoni
  • “Someone asked me once what I wanted for my birthday. I said, ‘I want more. More love, more laughter, more peace, more fun, more good days than bad.’ Simply more!” – Anonymous
  • “You don’t get older, you get better.” – Shirley Bassey
  • “Old enough to know better…Young enough to still do it.” – Anonymous
  • “Pleas’d to look forward, pleas’d to look behind, And count each birthday with a grateful mind.” – Alexander Pope
  • “The older the fiddler, the sweeter the tune.” – Pope Paul VI
  • “Men are like wine – some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age.” – Pope John XXIII
  • “The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.” – Madeleine L’Engle
  • “Don’t just count your years, make your years count.” – George Meredith
  • “Every year on your birthday, you get a chance to start new.” Sammy Hagar
  • “A birthday is just the first day of another 365-day journey around the sun. Enjoy the trip!” – Author Unknown
  • “Youth has no age.” – Pablo Picasso
  • “A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman’s birthday but never remembers her age.” – Robert Frost
  • “I intend to live forever — so far, so good!” – Stephen Wright
  • “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” – Mark Twain
  • “The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.” – Lucille Ball
  • “Youth is happy because it has the ability to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” – Franz Kafka
  • “Youth had been a habit of hers for so long that she could not part with it.” – Rudyard Kipling
  • “Age is just a number – totally irrelevant. Unless you happen to be a bottle of wine.” – Joan Collins
  • “Deep down I believe my year was a special year: it produced me.” – Ned Vizzini
  • “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!” – Dr. Seuss
  • “A man is getting old when he walks around a puddle instead of through it.” – By R. C. Ferguson
  • “May you live all the days of your life.” – Jonathan Swift
  • “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” – Henry Ford


Keep these quotes handy so you can take them out on your birthday. And, happy birthday to me! 🙂

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creative spark

Sometimes your creative spark goes out, and needs to be reignited.

In Greek mythology, Prometheus is a Titan who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals.  This gift of divine fire unleashed a flood of inventiveness and productivity in humanity. However, sometimes, that fire goes out.

If you currently feel like you’re sitting in a dark cave and the fire of creativity refuses to be ignited, below you’ll find seven ways to reignite your creative spark.

1. Toss In the Kitchen Sink

onehouradayformula banner longLife coach Martha Beck recommends that when you need to ignite your creativity in order to solve a particular problem, that you toss in the kitchen sink.  The process is the following:

  • Think of the problem that you’re having.
  • With this challenge in mind, read bits and pieces of several different books on non-related items.  One can be a biography of Theodore Roosevelt, another can be a book on bat behavior, and still another can be a book about raising alpacas.
  • The third step is to relax.  This can mean driving to your favorite rollerblading location while listening to an audio tape of a stand-up-comedian, and then rollerblading until a solution pops into your head.
  • If no solution is forthcoming, think of the problem periodically and then drop it again.

Following this process allows the right-brain hemisphere to step in and help you solve the problem. Here’s an example Beck uses:

“Laura wanted to travel but hated kenneling her yellow Lab, Buster. She also had partial hearing loss due to meningitis. One day when she had trouble hearing a flight attendant—ping!—she realized she could train Buster as a hearing service dog. Now they fly the skies in style together.”

2. If You See a Good Idea, Bend Down and Pick it Up

A lot of the time, when we have an idea we stop ourselves from pursuing it by saying the following: “If this were a good idea, someone would already have thought of it”. However, that’s not always the case.

There’s a story of a man who was walking down the street with an economist. As they were walking along he noticed a $10 bill on the sidewalk. Since the bill was closer to the economist, he thought that the economist would stop and bend over to pick it up. Instead, the economist walked right past the $10 bill.

At this point, the man stopped and asked the economist: “Why didn’t you pick up the $10 bill that was lying on the sidewalk? It was right next to your foot.” And the economist answered: “There can’t be a $10 bill lying on the sidewalk, because if there were, someone would already have picked it up.”

How many times have you had the spark of a great idea, but you’ve neglected to follow through on it because you told yourself that if it were a good idea, someone else would already have thought of it? Stop assuming that all the great ideas are already taken.

If you think you see a good idea, bend down, pick it up, and run with it.

3. Release Your Need for Recognition

A lot of the time, our need for some extrinsic reward, or external validation for our work, chokes our creativity. Here are some examples:

  • We may want our short story to be published in this or that magazine;
  • Our objective may be for our painting to be hung in the best gallery in town;
  • We may be hoping to win some award or other; or
  • We may be looking to be praised by someone we hold in high esteem.

You need to release the focus on an external reinforcement of your work, and, instead, allow yourself the freedom to focus on creating for the sake of creating itself.  Charles Johnson says this beautifully in the following quote:

“I think a real writer simply has to think in other terms. Not, ‘Will I get in this magazine?’ ‘Will I get the NEA next year?’ but whether or not this work is something he would do if a gun was held to his head and somebody was going to pull the trigger as soon as the last word of the last paragraph of the last page was finished.

Now if you can write out of the sense that you’re going to die as soon as the work is done, then you will write with urgency, honesty, courage, and without flinching at all, as if this were the last testament in language, the last utterance you could ever make to anybody.

If a work is written like that, then I want to read it. If somebody’s writing out of that sense, then I’ll say, ‘This is serious. This person is not fooling around. This work is not a means to some other end, the work is not just intended for some silly superficial goal, this work is the writer saying something, because he or she feels that if it isn’t said, it will never be said.’ Those are the writers I want to read. And there are not many twentieth-century writers like that.”

4. Who Cares What They’ll Think

Sir Ken Robinson argues in his book “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything” that we need to look for that “sweet spot” in which our talent meets our passion; that’s our element. One of the chapters in the book is titled: “What will they think?”

In that chapter, Robinson explains that many times we don’t discover what we truly love and are talented at because of self-censorship. We’re afraid to go against the grain and be ridiculed by society.

In addition, opinions offered by friends and family–often well intentioned–can derail us from pursuing what we’re uniquely good at. I would argue that this same fear of what others will think can derail our creativity.

Robinson uses Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho as an example of how people can find disapproval for trying to follow their passion, if that passion is not in line with what is considered a traditionally acceptable career. Coehlo–author of “The Alchemist” and one of the world’s best-selling authors–wanted to be a writer since he was a kid.

Unfortunately, his parents greatly disapproved of this since it was not in line with what was expected from the son of people of their station. Yet Coelho persisted. When Coelho was approaching the age at which most people go to college, he wouldn’t let go of the idea of being a writer.

At this point, his parents had him committed to a mental institution. Coelho was given three sessions of electroconvulsive therapy to try and get the idea of being a writer out of his head. Fortunately, it didn’t work, and he turned into the Paulo Coelho we know.

Worrying about what others will think is like throwing a cold bucket of water on your creative spark.  If you’re trying to ignite your creative spark, one of the best things you can do is to follow Paulo Coelho’s lead and do what you feel you need to do, despite what anyone else may think.

5. Create a Shrine

Create a shrine filled with objects that inspire you to create every time that you look at them. In the book “Creative Sparks”, Jim Krause explains that a shrine is:

“ . . . a place or piece of furniture used to remind us of meaningful intangibles through the display of meaningful tangibles.”

Your shrine could be a place on a shelf or in a cabinet. It can include books, beads, letters, candles, small statues, artwork, images, photos, and so on. Look for things that remind you of your creative-self.

6. Use Affirmations

Eric Maisel–a psychotherapist and creativity consultant–is the author of “Affirmations for Artists”. The book is arranged alphabetically by subject (Ambition, Anxiety, Day Jobs, Depression, Failure, Fear, Inspiration, Success, and so on), with one page devoted to each subject.

Each page includes quotes from famous artists, a short paragraph to consider, and an empowering affirmation. Here’s an example of one of his affirmations (Ambition):

“I am ambitious, I want; I want so very much! I do not deny my ambitiousness; but I affirm that I will temper it with an appreciation of other things. There is both the mountaintop to aspire to and the patch of plain earth right here to love. I will not put aside my ambitions, but neither will I fail to embrace all the rest that life has to offer.”

And here’s another one (Inspiration):

“I believe I create for myself when I honor my artist’s nature and diligently practice my craft. I will work whether I feel inspired or not: I know that if I labor with an open heart and an open mind, inspiration will come. I am ready to create it, receive it, and be swept away by it.”

Create your own set of affirmations to help you reignite your creative spark.

7. Build a Mystery Box

J.J. Abrams, co-creator of the hit TV show “Lost” and director of “Mission Impossible III”, revealed in a TED.com talk that when he was a kid he would often go to the Lou Tannen Magic Store in New York City. One time he went to the magic store and bought a “mystery box” ($15 buys you $50 worth of magic).

A mystery box is a box full of items–in Abram’s case, full of magic tricks–without the buyer knowing what these items are at the moment of purchase. Even though Abrams bought his mystery box decades ago, and he keeps it on a shelf in his office, he has never opened it.

For him, the mysteriousness of the box far outweighs the value of any magic tricks it may contain. The box–which has a giant question mark on one side–represents infinite possibility, hope, and potential.

Abrams explains that mystery is a catalyst for imagination. Stories are mystery boxes. In TV, the first act is called the teaser. It raises questions which are going to be answered during the rest of the show. Ask yourself how you can use mystery to spark your creativity. What’s your mystery box?


Live your best life by reigniting your creative spark. Start with the seven suggestions above.

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How to Read Hamlet

how to read Hamlet

Hamlet is often considered to be the best work of English-language literature.

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616) — the Bard of Avon.

Born in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, England, Shakespeare was the son of a glover. Although he only attended school until the age of 15, he went on to become one of the world’s best-known playwrights. His career spanned the reigns of two monarchs: Queen Elizabeth I and King James I.

onehouradayformula banner longShakespeare wrote 37 plays, including tragedies, histories, and comedies. These ten plays are generally considered to be his best works:

  • Hamlet
  • Macbeth
  • King Lear
  • The Tempest
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • Twelfth Night
  • Henry IV, Part 1
  • Henry V
  • Othello
  • Romeo and Juliet

Hamlet was written toward the later part of Shakespeare’s life and career. The character of Hamlet was written for Richard Burbage, the leading tragedian of Shakespeare’s time and a member of Shakespeare’s company of actors, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men (later, The King’s Men).

The play’s theatrical success and popularity has continued unabated since its first performances in the early 1600s.

Hamlet – A Synopsis

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (often shortened to “Hamlet”) is set in the town of Elsinore in the Kingdom of Denmark during the late Middle Ages. Most of the action takes place in and around Elsinore Castle.

Elsinore Castle

Near the beginning of the play, Prince Hamlet is visited by the ghost of his father, King Hamlet, who has recently died. The ghost instructs Hamlet to seek revenge for his murder. The king was killed by his brother, Claudius, who then married King Hamlet’s widow—Queen Gertrude—and seized the throne.

Here’s a clip from Act I, Scene 5, showing the ghost of King Hamlet telling the prince how he died and ordering Hamlet to avenge his death:

Although Hamlet becomes obsessed with avenging his father’s death, he hesitates, and keeps brooding and philosophizing. He tries to justify why he should wait before killing Claudius. At first he tells himself that perhaps what he saw wasn’t the ghost of his father after all, but an evil spirit trying to lead him astray.

Hamlet is torn. He wants to take the time to act reasonably, but he also chastises himself for being indecisive and failing to act boldly. Some critics believe that Hamlet is being prudent by taking steps to gather evidence of Claudius’ guilt before he acts. Other critics believe that Hamlet’s tragic flaw is his inaction.

Hamlet was already moody and disgruntled before his father’s ghost appears to him—after all, his father had recently died and his mother had remarried before his body was cold in the ground. After talking to the ghost, Hamlet begins to act even more strangely.

Queen Gertrude and King Claudius begin to worry about Hamlet’s inability to shake off his melancholy mood, and they both encourage Hamlet to get over his grief. However, Claudius starts to suspect that there may be something more to Hamlet’s moodiness than simply sadness over the death of his father.

Soon, suspicion turns to fear, and Claudius concludes that Hamlet may be a threat to him. He recruits spies to try to uncover what Hamlet is up to, starting with Polonius, chief counselor of the king. Later he also convinces Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, childhood friends of Hamlet, to spy on Hamlet and report back to him.

When Hamlet realizes that Claudius sees him as a threat, he begins to act as if he’s gone mad in order to throw off his uncle’s suspicions. Hamlet feigns madness with his family and friends, including his beloved, Ophelia, daughter to Polonius and sister to Laertes.

Hamlet decides to set a trap for Claudius to try to determine his guilt. A group of actors is going to put on a play for the royal court. Hamlet meets with the actors and instructs them to put on a play about regicide.

The play is to be about a king who falls asleep in his garden, and then another man kills him by pouring poison in his ear.  That is, exactly what the ghost told Hamlet that Claudius had done.

Hamlet tells his loyal friend, Horatio, about his plan. He’s going to watch Claudius carefully during the play to see if he reacts suspiciously, and he asks Horatio to do the same. Although the name of the play is The Murder of Gonzago, Hamlet refers to it as The Mousetrap.

At the play, Claudius becomes enraged and screams for more light. Hamlet and Horatio agree that the king’s behavior is telling. Hamlet is now convinced that the ghost was telling the truth and that Claudius is a murderer. He realizes that he must act and kill his uncle.

Here’s the scene of The Mousetrap and Claudius’ reaction to the play (Act III, Scene 2):


Shortly after watching the play, Claudius is alone and, in a soliloquy, he expresses his guilt and grief over having killed his brother. However, he is unwilling to give up the things he gained by committing the murder, namely, the throne and the queen. He falls to his knees and begins to pray.

As Claudius is praying, Hamlet walks by and sees him. This is a golden opportunity to kill Claudius. And yet, once again, Hamlet hesitates.

Hamlet tells himself that if he kills Claudius while he’s praying, his soul will go directly to heaven. In the meantime, his father’s ghost was in purgatory since he did not have the chance to go to confession before dying. Hamlet wants Claudius to go to hell, so he leaves without killing Claudius.

Here’s the scene (Act III, Scene3):


After leaving Claudius in prayer, Hamlet goes to his mother’s chambers to confront her. However, Polonius is already there talking to the queen. When Polonius hears Hamlet approaching, he quickly hides behind a tapestry so that he can eavesdrop on the conversation between Hamlet and the queen.

Once in the queen’s chambers, Hamlet accuses his mother of having betrayed his father’s memory by marrying Claudius. He’s irate and menacing. At one point, the queen fears that he’s going to kill her. She cries out for help and foolish Polonius echoes her cry from behind the tapestry.

Hamlet rashly concludes that it’s Claudius hiding behind the tapestry. He lunges at the hidden figure and stabs it forcefully with his sword, thus killing Polonius. The dead Polonius rolls out from under the tapestry.

When Hamlet finally acts, he doesn’t do so in a reasonable, effective, and purposeful manner. Instead, he does so blindly, recklessly, and violently. Here’s the scene (Act III, Scene 4):

Ophelia is the only woman in the play in addition to Queen Gertrude. Hamlet was at one time sincerely in love with Ophelia. However, the circumstances that Hamlet finds himself in lead him to start feeling unsympathetic toward her.

Hamlet transfers the anger that he feels toward his mother—whom he concludes is a woman of loose morals—to all women, including the pure and virtuous Ophelia. He pushes Ophelia away and tells her to join a nunnery.

The death of Ophelia’s father, Polonius, added to her heartbreak over Hamlet’s rejection is too much for Ophelia to bear. She goes mad, throws herself into a river, and drowns.


In the meantime, Denmark is under threat of attack from Norway. Fortinbras, Prince of Norway, wants to avenge his father’s death. His father, King Fortinbras of Norway, was killed by Hamlet’s father. King Hamlet killed King Fortinbras in hand-to-hand combat, thus winning lands from Norway.

Fortinbras wants to avenge his father’s death, and he wants to retake the lands that Norway lost to Denmark. There are many parallels between Fortinbras and Hamlet:

  • They both lose their fathers.
  • In both cases, their uncles took over the throne.
  • They both want to avenge their fathers’ deaths.

However, their characters are very different. While Hamlet is hesitant and indecisive, Fortinbras is bold and  resolved. Fortinbras’ strong-willed character serves to highlight Hamlet’s tragic flaw.

While this threat looms from Norway, the Danish royal house is in disarray. Claudius has become aware that Hamlet knows about the circumstances of his father’s death, and he wants Hamlet dead.

Laertes has returned to Denmark from France to avenge the death of his father, Polonius. He returns to Elsinore with a mob, threatening to overthrow Claudius if he doesn’t explain his father’s murder. Claudius tells him that it was Hamlet who killed Polonius, and the two men devise a plot to kill Hamlet. Like Fortinbras, Laertes is a man of action.

Claudius and Laertes decide that Laertes will challenge Hamlet to a friendly duel. However, Laertes’ sword will be poisoned. If Laertes draws blood, Hamlet will die.

As a backup plan, Claudius puts poison in a goblet filled with wine. If Laertes fails to poison Hamlet with his blade, then Claudius will offer Hamlet a drink from the poisoned goblet. Here’s what happens during the fencing match between Hamlet and Laertes:

  • Queen Gertrude ends up drinking from the poisoned goblet, and dies. It’s debatable whether she does this by accident, or in an attempt to prevent her son from drinking the poison.
  • Laertes succeeds in wounding Hamlet with his sword, but Hamlet doesn’t die of the poison immediately.
  • Laertes is cut by his own poisoned sword and dies.
  • Hamlet stabs Claudius with the poisoned sword and forces him to drink the rest of the poisoned wine, thereby killing him.
  • Hamlet dies immediately after achieving his revenge.

At this point, Prince Fortinbras, who has led an army to Denmark, enters Elsinore Castle. When he sees that the entire Danish royal family is dead, he takes power over the Kingdom of Denmark.

The Original Hamlet

As was common in his day, Shakespeare based many of his plays on the work of other playwrights and recycled older stories and historical material. This is true of his play Hamlet. The story of Hamlet dates back to at least the 9th century.

It centers on a young prince named Amleth who fakes being crazy in order to avenge his father’s murder. Saxo the Grammarian included the tale in a 12th century text. Later, François de Belleforest incorporated the story in his Histoires Tragiques, which is where Shakespeare may have found it.

Film Adaptations of Hamlet

First performed in 1602, Hamlet is Shakespeare’s longest play, and his most famous. It’s been performed countless times and many movie adaptations of the play have been made. Here are seven of the most famous film adaptations of “Hamlet”:

1. Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet: This is a 1996 film adaptation of Hamlet, adapted for the screen and directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also stars in the titular role as Prince Hamlet. The film features a star studded cast, including Derek Jacobi as King Claudius and Kate Winslet as Ophelia.

2. Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet: This is a 1948 film adaptation of Hamlet, adapted and directed by and starring Sir Laurence Olivier. Although the film has received many prestigious accolades, it cut out nearly two hours worth of content.

3. Mel Gibson’s Hamlet: This is a 1990 film adaptation of Hamlet, directed by Franco Zeffirelli and starring Mel Gibson as Hamlet. The film also features Glenn Close as Queen Gertrude.

4. David Tennant’s Hamlet: This is a 2009 television film adaptation of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2008 modern-dress stage production of Hamlet. It features David Tennant in the title role of Prince Hamlet and Patrick Stewart as King Claudius.

5. Ethan Hawke’s Hamlet: This is a 2000 adaptation of Hamlet, which is set in contemporary New York City. Ethan Hawke plays Hamlet as a film student. Elsinore Castle is re-imagined as Hotel Elsinore, the headquarters of Denmark Corporation.

6. Derek Jacobi’s Hamlet: This is a 1980 television adaptation of Hamlet done by the British Broadcasting Company (BBC). It stars Derek Jacobi as Hamlet.

7. Richard Burton’s Hamlet: This is not really a film, but a recording of an actual Broadway performance. It played from April 9 to August 8, 1964 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater, and stars Richard Burton as Hamlet.

movie poster hamlet

Another famous adaptations of Hamlet–although this one took a lot of creative liberties–is Disney’s “The Lion King”. Look at the following:

  • Scar–like Claudius–kills his brother and takes over as ruler of the Pride Lands.
  • Simba–like Hamlet–gets visited by the ghost of his father, Mufasa.
  • Mufasa, of course, is like King Hamlet.
  • Timon and Pumbaa share similarities with Hamlet’s childhood friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

Poor Yorick

How to Read Hamlet – 10 Steps

Here are ten steps to reading, understanding, and enjoying Hamlet:

1. Read a Plot Synopsis. Before you sit down to read Hamlet, you should read a synopsis of the play. I provide one above, but you may want to do your own research and find a synopsis that you like. There are two books that I used for this purpose:

There are also many good synopses available online. These include SparkNotes, Shmoop, and eNotes.com.

In addition to reading a synopsis of the entire play before getting started, read a synopsis of each scene before reading that scene.

2. Choose a Good Annotated Edition. Although Shakespeare wrote in Modern English, you probably won’t understand his plays unless you get an annotated version. Shakespeare uses some syntax and words that we don’t use anymore. In addition, he makes references to historical events that only people of his time would have understood.

Annotated texts provide definitions, context, and value-added information that will allow you to understand what’s going on in the play. Here are three popular annotated editions of Hamlet you can choose from:

3. Read Slowly and Carefully. Read each page once without referring to the annotations. Simply enjoy Shakespeare’s incredibly beautiful and vivid use of the language. You may even want to read it out loud. Then, read the page again, but this time refer to the annotations. Continue in this way until you’ve read the whole scene.

4. Watch the BBC’s Hamlet. After you’re done with each scene, watch the BBC’s Hamlet for that scene. The BBC Television Shakespeare is a series of British television adaptations of the 37 plays of William Shakespeare.

The BBC uses fantastic actors, and their adaptations closely follow the original material. Derek Jacobi plays “Hamlet” in the BBC’s version of the play, and many consider him to be the best actor to have played the role. In addition, Patrick Stewart plays Claudius.

5. Take Notes. After you’ve read and watched each scene, write down a short synopsis of the scene. This will help you to make sure that you understood what you just read and saw, and it will help you to retain it. Also, you’ll have something to refer to later on when the play is no longer fresh in your mind.

Here are some things you may want to jot down:

  • A summary of the scene.
  • Your impressions of the scene.
  • Anything you noticed about the characters that appeared in the scene.
  • Themes–mortality, action, madness, lies and deceit–and subplots that were present in the scene.
  • Note how the scene moves the main plot of revenge along.
  • Note any life lessons in the scene (Shakespeare’s plays are filled with life lessons).

In addition, write down any quotes that caught your fancy. Here are some of the most famous quotes from Hamlet:

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

“Frailty, thy name is woman.”

“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

“Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.”

6. Find Additional Material. Pick a couple of critical or scholarly works on Shakespeare’s plays, and on Hamlet in particular. Going through this material will give you a greater understanding of the play, and it will provide you with different viewpoints and interpretations.

Here are some good sources you can choose from:

Another option is to take a MOOC on Hamlet, such as Shakespeare’s Hamlet: Text, Performance and Culture, which is free (I enrolled for this MOOC, but they haven’t told us when it starts yet).

7. Read the Play Again. Read the play again, from start to finish. You should be familiar enough with the play by this point that you don’t need to refer to the annotations or look at any additional reference material.

8. Watch Another Film Version. I gave you a list of seven excellent film versions of Hamlet above, including the BBC version which you should have been watching as you read the play. Now you’re going to choose another film adaptation of Hamlet and watch it from beginning to end.

In case you’re wondering, I chose to watch Branagh’s version of Hamlet (and loved it). It’s unabridged and runs just over four hours. The play’s setting is updated to the 19th century, but everything else is true to the original.

9. Consider Memorizing a Soliloquy. There are several famous soliloquies in Hamlet, including the most famous one, “To be, or not to be”.

Many critics believe that this soliloquy is a contemplation of suicide. In it, Hamlet compares death to sleep. The catch is that it could be a sleep filled with bad dreams. Here’s Jacobi reciting the soliloquy:


Memorize the soliloquy, and then proceed to amaze your friends at cocktail parties.

10. Watch Hamlet on Stage. Reading Hamlet, watching film adaptations of Hamlet, and reading scholarly works about Hamlet are fantastic ways to make this fabulous work your own. However, Hamlet is a play, and to truly appreciate it you should watch it performed on stage.

Bonus points if you watch the play at Stratford-upon-Avon, or at the Shakespeare’s Globe in London.


If you haven’t read Hamlet, use the fact that 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of the bard’s death to do so. And if you have read it, read it again. Live your best life by reading Shakespeare’s plays.

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board games for building life skills

Board games can build valuable life skills.

My sister works for—and is part owner of—a company that brings innovative teaching methods from around the world to Panama and licenses them to schools here. One of the programs that she promotes is called the Mind Lab Method. Here’s what the method is about:

“At the heart of the Mind Lab Method is the notion that the most effective way to learn is through an immediate and authentic experience that leaves one wanting more. Game-playing is the perfect example of such an experience – it is entertaining, engaging, and exciting, and therefore stimulates eager involvement. Game-playing also provides fertile ground for the training and application of thinking abilities and life skills.”

onehouradayformula banner longThat is, Mind Lab uses games—including popular board games—to help kids learn all of the following:

  • Reflective Thinking
  • Planning
  • Problem Solving
  • Decision Making
  • Logical Thinking
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Cooperation
  • Competition
  • How to Deal with Mistakes
  • Deferring Gratification; and so on.

Of course, it’s not just children who can learn from playing board games, but adults as well.

In fact, in my blog post on becoming more resilient, I recommend playing board games as one of the strategies to follow in order to increase your resilience. After all, board games help to develop mental flexibility, and being mentally flexible will help you to bounce back quickly when adversity strikes.

I sat down and did some research in order to determine which board games would be helpful in developing thinking abilities and life skills, and here are the 12 that I came up with:

settlers of catan1. Settlers of Catan. Settlers of Catan is a multiplayer strategy board game in which each player is a settler on the island of Catan. The board is a map of Catan. Players try to become the dominant force in Catan by gathering resources in order to build cities, settlements, and roads. The resources consist of wood, grain, brick, sheep, and stone (the resources are represented by game cards).

By playing Settler of Catan, you learn all of the following:

  • Resource management — Players have to choose how to best allocate the resources that they acquire.
  • Negotiation — Rarely can a player win a game of Settlers of Catan without negotiating with other players in order to trade for the resources that they need. Of course, many different aspects will impact the negotiations — the current value of each of the resources; you may not want to trade with someone if that ensures their victory, even if they have something you need; you may not want to trade with someone if they refused to trade with you when you needed a particular resource; and so on.
  • Analysis of the current environment and how that impacts your chances of winning the game — How have the other players established their settlements?  What resources have lost value because they’re no longer needed? What resources have risen in demand? Given the current situation, are there certain resources you’ll want to hoard?

chess2. Chess. No list of board games that help to develop thinking abilities and life skills is complete without the game of chess. Chess needs no introduction: created in India, it’s been around for over 500 years and is one of the world’s most popular strategy games.

Playing chess promotes brain growth–specifically, it fuels dendrite growth–, and it exercises both sides of the brain. In addition, playing chess can increase IQ. A study conducted in Venezuela involving 4,000 students found that 4 months of chess instruction increased the students’ IQ scores.

In addition, chess teaches a plethora of valuable skills, including the following:

  • It teaches focus and concentration – In order to play chess well you have to focus completely on the board that’s in front of you. As you constantly visualize the board, its pieces, your moves, and your opponent’s possible counter-moves, your power of concentration grows.
  • It teaches planning and foresight – Chess teaches foresight by having to plan ahead.
  • It improves logical thinking – When you’re playing chess, you have to keep saying the following to yourself: “If I do this, then my opponent is likely to do that.” That’s logical thinking in action.

Here’s a quote from Benjamin Franklin about learning from chess: “We learn from chess the greatest maxim in life – that even when everything seems to be going badly for us we should not lose heart, but always hoping for a change for the better, steadfastly continue searching for the solutions to our problems.”

cash flow3. Cashflow 101. Cashflow 101 was created by Robert Kiyosaki of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” fame. It teaches basic financial literacy. The board has two tracks: the fast track and the rat race. The objective of the game is to increase your financial IQ so that you can get out of the rat race and into the fast track.

This game teaches all of the following:

  • It teaches you the difference between assets and liabilities.
  • It teaches you how to maintain a basic Income Statement so that you can get a clear picture of your cash-flow situation.
  • It teaches you how to create a balance sheet.
  • It teaches you basic cash management — how to budget and allocate your cash.
  • It teaches you how to evaluate financial opportunities to determine whether they’re good or bad deals.
  • It teaches you how to make money by purchasing real estate, businesses, shares and mutual funds.

Kloo4. Kloo. Kloo was a created by an American game designer named Andrew who is married to an Italian. He takes his family–consisting of his wife and his two girls–to Europe once a year, so he wanted the girls to learn languages. However, his daughters didn’t enjoy language lessons, and the material they were using was ineffective.

That’s when Andrew decided to create a game that would replicate the way we learn our first language. He wanted to make learning languages easier, and fun. And that’s how Kloo was born. When Andrew tested his game he discovered that both kids and adults learn an average of 20 to 30 words in their target foreign language per game. And without even realizing it!

Kloo games are available to learn Spanish, French, Italian, and English. Here’s their suite of products (they have card games and board games):

chutes and ladders5. Chutes and Ladders. Although Chutes and Ladders is a simple kids’  game, it’s filled with important life lessons. In fact, I wrote an entire blog post on this one: Dealing With Life’s Challenges – Life is Like a Game of Chutes and Ladders.

Here are some of the lessons in dealing with life’s challenges which you can learn from “Chutes and Ladders”:

  • The fist lesson is that you need to accept that chutes are just a part of the game of life. Even if you plan everything out very carefully, sooner or later you’ll slide down a chute (the chute can be short, medium-sized, or really long). That’s just the way it is.
  • The second lesson is that you can recover from sliding down a shoot. In fact, sliding down a chute may even be a good thing. After all, when you fall back to the beginning of the game, this gives you another chance to land on the longest ladder on the board, which shoots you right up to the top.
  • The third lesson is that, just as there are chutes everywhere, there are also ladders everywhere. When you least expect it, a great opportunity can present itself. Keep your eyes open for opportunities.

mancala6. Mancala. Mancala is a two player game  that is played on a wooden board with two rows of six holes carved into it. Many things can be used as game pieces, including beans, seeds, nuts, marbles, stones, and shells. The object of Mancala is to have the most pieces in your Kalaha, or storage unit.

Mancala has been played for thousands of years in Africa and different parts of the Middle East. There are also versions in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Mancala can teach all of the following:

  • It teaches observation skills — Players need to distinguish good plays from bad ones.
  • It teaches how to think analytically – Players must learn to plan and develop strategies.
  • It teaches problem solving — Whenever there’s a gap between the way things are, and the way you want them to be, you have a problem. At the start of a game of Mancala, the Kahalas are empty, while the players want them to be full. Players have to move their pieces in a way that will allow them to get the greatest number of pieces into their Kahala, while trying to prevent the other player from doing the same.

monopoly7. Monopoly. Monopoly–a real estate board game for 2 to 8 players– is a classic. Players buy and develop pieces of property, and whoever has the most money in the end wins. Basically, the game is an explanation of capitalism.

Phlip E. Orbanes, author of Monopoly, Money, and You: How to Profit from the Game’s Secrets of Success, explains that playing Monopoly teaches the following life lessons:

  • “To ‘win’ in life, you need to think like a game player. Establish your goals and, before making any decision, ask the following question: Will it bring me closer to my goals, or will it cause me to veer off course?”
  • “Monopoly teaches the necessity to invest in order to grow your savings. And also to wisely spread your investments (diversification) in the event one choice does not turn out as you anticipated.”
  • “You must keep enough cash handy to pay for typical setbacks in the game, and in life.”

set8. Set. Set is a card game in which each card contains four features: color (red, purple or green), shape (oval, squiggle or diamond), number (one, two or three) and shading (solid, striped or outlined). A set is three cards where each feature, when looked at individually, is either all the same or all different.

Set has won over 35 best game awards including MENSA Select.

Playing Set teaches pattern recognition. In turn, the ability to recognize patterns gives us the ability to predict what will happen next with some degree of accuracy. That is, predict what other people are likely to do, how circumstances are likely to play out, and what has a high probability of occurring next in your environment.

There are many people who think that the purpose of intelligence is prediction. After all, the better you are at predicting what will happen in the future, based on patterns that you’ve recognized in the past and in the present, the more likely it is that you’ll succeed in life.

Prime Climb9. Prime Climb.Prime Climb is a mathematical board game. The financing for the creation of this game was obtained through a Kickstarter campaign. It teaches mathematical literacy. You 
roll the dice and add, subtract, multiply and divide your way to the center of the board.

By playing Prime Climb–which can be played by people who are “bad at math” and math whizzes alike–you’ll acquire deeper mathematical understanding. This game will turn everyone in your house into a lover of math.

Pandemic10. Pandemic. In Pandemic, four diseases have broken out simultaneously in the world. It’s up to a team of disease-fighting specialists in different fields to work together in order to find cures for these diseases before mankind is wiped out. The board is shaped like the planet earth.

Unlike most board games, Pandemic is cooperative, rather than competitive. The players, as a team, must coordinate their actions to stop a global pandemic. A game of Pandemic will have all the players discussing strategy and options together on almost every turn. If everyone does their part, the world is saved and all the players win.

As you can clearly see, Pandemic teaches teamwork and cooperation.

mastermind11. Mastermind. Mastermind is a code breaking game for two players. It has a decoding board and code pegs. One player is the code-maker, who creates a secret code, and the other is the code-breaker, who tries to break the code in as few turns as possible. The game has been adapted for applications in fields such as mathematics, computing, and psychology.

Mastermind can be used to teach, practice, and discuss scientific reasoning skills. Specifically, the game can be used to to teach topics such as sound experimental design, hypothesis-testing, careful interpretation of results, and the effective use of controls.

clue12. Clue. Clue is, basically, a detective game. Players try to figure out the three main facts of a murder: the murderer, the location of the murder, and the murder weapon. The game starts with the murder of Mr. Boddy–who has been murdered in his mansion–and involves the 9 rooms of the mansion, the 6 guests at Mr. Boddy’s dinner party and 6 possible weapons.

Playing Clue teaches deductive reasoning, which encourages critical thinking. As players move about the board making guesses as to where, who and what did the killing, they have to use deductive reasoning to narrow down the list of suspects, the possible murder locations, and the possible weapons.

Clue has been used to teach propositional logic and computer programming to college students.


Board games are fun, and they’re a great way to spend quality time with friends and family. However, board games can also teach us thinking skills, as well as life skills. Live your best life by playing board games–you can start by playing the 12 games described above.

What have you learned by playing board games? Please share on Twitter (I’m @Marelisa).

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Knowing When to Quit Cheat-Sheet
To be one of life’s winners, know when to quit.

You’ve probably read lots of quotes that paint the act of quitting in a negative light. Here are four examples:

  • “If you quit once it becomes a habit. Never quit.” – Michael Jordan
  • It’s always too soon to quit.” – Norman Vincent Peale
  • Age wrinkles the body; quitting wrinkles the soul.” – Douglas MacArthur
  • Winners never quit and quitters never win.” – Vince Lombardi

In addition, a couple of weeks ago I wrote a post titled “How to Not Give Up – 8 Strategies For Not Quitting.” So, why is this post about quitting? Because although grit and perseverance will get you almost anywhere, there are times when the best thing you can do is give up. The key lies in knowing when to keep going despite obstacles, setbacks, and disappointments, and recognizing when it’s time to throw in the towel.

Quit Strategically

A few years back, the renown marketing expert Seth Godin published a book titled The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick). In it, he offers a great primer on strategic quitting. Godin explains that, in order to know whether or not to quit, you need to determine if you’re in a “dip” or a “cul-de-sac”. Here’s the difference between the two:

  • A “dip” is when the going gets tough, but there’s the opportunity to be the best in the world when you come up on the other side.
  • A “cul-de-sac” is when you’re just going around in circles, and continued effort isn’t going to get you anywhere.

Godin explains that if you’re in a “dip” you should buckle down and keep going. But if you’re in a “cul-de-sac”, it’s time to wave a white flag. I agree with Godin’s analysis. The question then becomes:

How do you know when you’re in one of those situations in which you just need to keep going and you’ll achieve your goal, or when you need to face the fact the best thing you can do is give up?

In this post I’m going to share with you a cheat-sheet I developed for knowing when to quit. The process that you’ll be using to fill out the “Knowing When to Quit Cheat-Sheet” is the following:

  • Choose a “Quitting Trigger”
  • Make a List of Pros and Cons
  • Brainstorm With the “15 Knowing When to Quit Questions”

The “Knowing When to Quit Cheat-Sheet” looks as follows (click on it to see it clearly):

Knowing When to Quit Cheat-Sheet

You’ll find an explanation of the process that you’re going to use to fill out the cheat-sheet, below.

Choose a “Quitting Trigger”

The first thing that you’re going to do is decide ahead of time when you’re going to quit. An example of this is set forth in the book,  The Battle For Investment Survival: How To Make Profits, written by Gerald M. Loeb.

In his book, Loeb explains that there’s a specific formula that you should use to maximize your gains and minimize your losses when you’re investing in the stock market. The formula works as follows:

  • Select a stock to buy — make your selection based on rational fact-finding and expert counsel.
  • The stock may rise for a short while, and then fall. In addition, the stock may rise for a long time. However, even if the stock does well for a prolonged period of time, you need to accept the fact that sooner or later the price of the stock will begin to fall.
  • When the price starts to fall, wait for it to fall at least 10 to 15 percent. When it does, cut your losses. That is, sell out at the chosen percentage level.

What the formula is telling you is to decide ahead of time when you’re going to quit. You should apply this same principle to other areas of your life, including goal setting.

When you set a goal, decide at what point you’re going to give up if it turns out that achieving the goal is more difficult and requires more resources than you had previously anticipated. That is, decide what’s your “Quitting Trigger”. Here are some examples:

  • You can make the decision to work on a goal for X amount of time–say, a year–, and if you don’t get the results that you’re after in that time, you’ll consider quitting. In this case, your “Quitting Trigger” is one year.
  • You can make the decision to budget Y amount of dollars–say $5,000–for the achievement of a particular goal. However, once you reach the budgeted amount, if the goal remains elusive, you’ll contemplate quitting. In this case, your “Quitting Trigger” is $5,000.
  • You can decide that you’re going to make Z amount of attempts at achieving a goal–say, three. If you fail at your first attempt to achieve your goal, you’re going to look for a different way to try to achieve it. If you fail again, you’ll try a third way. However, if you fail yet again you’ll sit down to analyze whether you should keep trying. In this case, your “Quitting Trigger” is 3 attempts.

Determine beforehand how much time, money, and effort you’re willing to devote to a particular goal. When you set a goal, grab a copy of the “Knowing When to Quit Cheat-Sheet”.  At the top, write down the goal that you’ll be working on and your starting date. Below that write down your “Quitting Trigger”.

Top of Knowing When to Quit Cheat Shhet

Then, go after your goal with gusto. However, if the resources that you allotted for the achievement of the goal turn out to be insufficient, and you’ve reached the “Quitting Trigger” for that goal, it’s to time fill out the rest of the “Knowing When to Quit Cheat-Sheet”.

Make a List of Pros and Cons

A while back I wrote a post on making decisions like Benjamin Franklin. The decision-making process, or method, recommended by Franklin is to create a pros and cons list. You’re going to be creating a pros and cons list, using your “Knowing When to Quit Cheat-Sheet”, when you reach the “Quitting Trigger” for any goal that you’re working on.

Do the following:

  • Your “Knowing When to Quit Cheat-Sheet” should contain two columns. One of the columns should be labelled “pro”, and the other column should be labelled “con”.
  • You’re going to think of all the reasons you can come up with for sticking to your goal, and write those under the “pro” column. In addition, think of all the reasons that would justify the decision to give up on your goal and add those to the “con” column. Do this by brainstorming with the “15 Knowing When to Quit Questions”, which you’ll find below.

Brainstorm With the “15 Knowing When to Quit Questions”

You’re going to fill out your “pros” and “cons” list by answering the “15 Knowing When to Quit Questions”. The questions are as follows:

  1. Have you made any measurable progress toward the achievement of your goal so far?
  2. Are you learning any new skills?
  3. Are you meeting new people and building a valuable network?
  4. Are you enjoying the process of working toward this goal?
  5. Is working on this goal helping you to grow as a person?
  6. How do you feel about the prospect of continuing to work on this goal (depressed, excited, bored, satisfied)?
  7. What’s the opportunity cost of continuing to work on this goal? Is there another, more worth-while goal you could be working on? Is continuing to work on this goal the best use of your time and/or resources?
  8. How much money will it cost to continue working on this goal? Can you afford to continue working on this goal?
  9. Is there any reason for you to think that things are going to change for the better if you continue to pursue this goal? What has to happen for things to get better? How likely is it that this will happen?
  10. If your best friend were in the exact same situation you are now, would you tell them to quit or keep going? Why?
  11. If you were making the decision today whether or not to start working on this goal, would you? Why or why not?
  12. What were the benefits you hoped to receive by working on this goal? Have those benefits decreased? Is pursuing this goal still the best way for you to obtain those benefits?
  13. Do you have new information that makes the goal less appealing to you?
  14. Do you have new information that changes your perception of how difficult it will be to achieve the goal?
  15. If you continue to work on this goal is it likely that you ‘ll be able to recoup the investment–in terms of money, time, and effort–that you’ve already made in trying to achieve this goal, or would you just be throwing good money after bad?

Middle of Knowing When to Quit Cheat Shhet

The Final Analysis

Once you’ve conducted a brainstorming session by using the “15 Knowing When to Quit Questions”, the pros and cons list on your “Knowing When to Quit Cheat-Sheet” should be filled out. Now, do the following.

  • You’re going to assign weights to each item on your pros and cons list, depending on its importance. Assign a “1” to the items that are “moderately important”; assign a “2” to the items that are “important”; and assign a “3” to the items that are “very important”.
  • Add up all of the weights for the “pro” column, and add up all of the weights for your “con” column. Write down the totals below each column.
  • If the total sum that you got for the “con” column is greater than the total sum for the “pro” column, quit.
  • If the total sum that you got for the “pro” column is greater than the sum for the “con” column, keep going.
  • If the analysis leads you to conclude that you’re going to continue working on your goal, come up with a new Quitting Trigger –work on the goal for 3 more months; budget another $1000 to the goal; try one more alternative for achieving the goal; and so on.
  • If the new “Quitting Trigger” is reached, quit.

Bottom of Knowing When to Quit Cheat ShhetConclusion

Achieving any worthwhile goal will require lots of work and determination. And, most of the time, you should keep going until you achieve your goal. However, there are times when the evidence points to the fact that it’s not a good idea to keep pushing toward the achievement of a particular goal.

If you’re not sure whether or not to give up on a goal, use the “Knowing When to Quit Cheat-Sheet” to help you make a decision. Here’s a PDF of the “Knowing When to Quit Cheat-Sheet” which you can download.

Live your best life by knowing when to quit.

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There are 36 questions which can spark friendship or love.

I discovered the 36 questions which can kick-start a friendship or relationship in an episode of “The Big Bang Theory” called “The Intimacy Accelerator”. One of the characters in the show, Amy, shares that she read an article about how people can create intimacy in an accelerated time frame.

Two other characters, Penny and Sheldon, decide to give it a try. At the end of the experiment they both decide that they feel closer to each other. Here’s part of the exchange between Penny and Sheldon:

I came across the 36 questions once again while researching an article that I’m writing on friendship. Shasta Nelson is a nationally recognized friendship expert and the CEO of GirlFriendCircles.com, a women’s friendship matching site. She’s also the author of two books on friendship. Nelson uses a variation of the 36 questions in her friendship workshops. She calls them “Sharing Questions”. Nelson explains that when women sit down together and answer these questions it brings them much closer than simply engaging in small talk or trying to look for common interests. This makes it much more likely that they’ll become friends.

Since it was the second time I had seen a reference to these questions, I decided to conduct some additional research to find out more about them.

The 36 Questions Came From a Lab Experiment

The 36 questions are the brain child of psychologist Arthur Aron, who runs the “Interpersonal Relationships Lab” at SUNY-Stony Brook. He published them in 1997 as part of a study titled “The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness“.

The study revealed the results of an experiment Aron conducted to test his theory that he could develop closeness between a pair of people by having them ask each other questions designed to slowly build and establish intimacy.

The 36 questions are divided into three sets. Each set of questions gets progressively more personal. This is how Aron refers to this progression: “sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personalistic self-disclosure.”

Aron argues that vulnerability is what creates closeness between people, and the questions are designed to make two people be progressively more vulnerable with each other.

As you saw in “The Big Bang Theory” clip above, one of the first questions is “What’s your perfect day?”, which is innocuous enough. However, the questions get more probing. One of the last questions is “How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?”, which definitely enters into the “sharing personal information” realm.

Here’s how Mandy Len Catron–who wrote a New York Times article about her experiment with the 36 questions–describes this slow progression from easy questions to highly personal questions:

“The questions reminded me of the infamous boiling frog experiment in which the frog doesn’t feel the water getting hotter until it’s too late,” she wrote. “With us, because the level of vulnerability increased gradually, I didn’t notice we had entered intimate territory until we were already there, a process that can typically take weeks or months.”

There Are Many Uses For the 36 Questions

The 36 questions can be used in various settings:

  • To create intimacy with a romantic interest and increase the chances that you’ll hit it off.
  • To make new friends.
  • To accelerate the bonding process with people you need to get to know and trust quickly –a task force at work, participants in a seminar, during college orientation, and so on.
  • To deepen your ties with people you already know well —friends, family members, and even long-term partners.
  • To have fun with friends at parties and have people get to know each other better.

The Process to Follow With the 36 Questions

Here’s the process you should follow with the 36 questions:

  • Sit down with the person you want to create intimacy or closeness with (this has to be done face to face).
  • You can print out the questions (which you’ll find below), visit this website, use this app, or get these cards.
  • One person reads the first question aloud. Then, both people take turns answering the question.
  • Swap roles for the next question.
  • Continue in this way until you get to the last question (make sure you go through the questions in order).
  • If the person you’re with is a romantic interest, once you’ve answered all of the questions set a timer for four minutes and use that time to simply look into each others’ eyes (you can blink, but don’t look away).
  • Take as long as you want, but the whole process of asking and answering the 36 questions normally takes about 45 minutes, to an hour.

Keep in mind that the process is as much about how you answer the questions, as it is about how you listen and respond to the other person when they answer the questions.

The List of 36 Questions

Here are the 36 questions:

Set One

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?

6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?

7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?

8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.

9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.

12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

Set Two

13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?

14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

16. What do you value most in a friendship?

17. What is your most treasured memory?

18. What is your most terrible memory?

19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?

20. What does friendship mean to you?

21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?

22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.

23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?

24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?

Set Three

25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling … “

26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share … “

27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.

28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.

29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.

30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?

31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.

32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?

33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?

34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?

35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?

36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.


If you want to see a man and a woman who have never met before asking each other these questions, here’s a video for you:

Live your best life by getting closer to others.

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75 Simple Life Rules

simple life rules

To have a good life, you just have to follow some simple rules.

The world would be greatly improved if everyone lived by some simple rules. The kind of rules that most people learn as kids (but promptly seem to forget the minute they enter middle school). What are these rules? You’ll find them below.

Here are 75 simple life rules to follow to have a better life.

1. Be yourself.

2. Know yourself.

3. Pick up after yourself.

4. Keep your promises.

5. Say please and thank you.

6. Have good table manners.

7. Make healthy food choices.

8. Don’t eat more food than you need.

9. Stay fit.

10. Get enough sleep.

11. Drink lots of water.

12. Keep yourself clean.

13. Wake up early.

14. Wake up smiling.

15. Spend time in nature.

16. Avoid excess.

17. Wear sunscreen.

18. Wear your seat belt.

19. Follow the Golden Rule: do unto others like you would have them do onto you.

20. Mind your own business; if it’s none of your concern, stay out of it.

21. Choose your friends wisely.

22. Nurture your close circle of friends.

23. Don’t give unsolicited advice.

24. Don’t interrupt others when they’re speaking.

25. Be honest.

26. Think before you act.

27. Count your blessings.

28. Don’t gossip.

29. Don’t take anything that is not yours without permission.

30. Be kind to yourself.

31. Be kind to others.

32. Have a positive attitude: look for the bright side of things.

33. Take responsibility for your actions.

34. If you hurt someone, apologize.

35. Spend less than you make.

36. Save money for a rainy day.

37. Budget your money.

38. Budget your time.

39. Be prepared.

40. Plan ahead.

41. Live in the now (this point and the one above it are not in conflict).

42. Make time for those you love.

43. Set priorities.

44. Plan your day.

45. Don’t over-commit yourself: say “no” to things that are not aligned with your priorities.

46. Have some “me” time each day (to think, meditate, or just be).

47. Do your best.

48. Believe in yourself, but be aware of your limitations.

49. If you fail, try again.

50. If you make a mistake, acknowledge it and do what you can to fix it.

51. If you’re in over your head, ask for help.

52. Read more than you watch TV.

53. Be patient with children.

54. Respect the elderly.

55. Be kind to animals.

56. When you’re talking to someone, give them your full attention.

57. Don’t yell or speak harshly to others.

58. Don’t put others down or make them feel bad about themselves.

59. Don’t take credit for the work of others.

60. Develop your talent.

61. Share your gifts with the world.

62. Work hard –results require discipline and perseverance.

63. Set aside some time each day to play, laugh, and have fun.

64. Have goals; go after them.

65. Step out of your comfort zone; do this on a consistent basis.

66. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

67. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

68. Don’t worry about things that are outside of your control.

69. Don’t whine, complain, or make excuses.

70. Don’t take more than you need.

71. Seize good opportunities.

72. Challenge yourself.

73. Take smart risks.

74. Don’t take stupid risks.

75. Don’t break any of these rules.


See how simple rules those are? Why don’t more people follow them? Live your best life by following the 75 simple life rules above.

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laugh more

A simple way to have a happier, healthier life is to laugh more.

Laughter is a physiological response that involves rhythmic and involuntary action, and denotes merriment, happiness, or joy.  Over the past several years countless studies have been conducted that show the positive effects that laughing has on one’s physical and mental health.

Here are some of the many benefits of laughing more:

  • Laughter causes you to gulp in large portions of air, thereby oxygenating your blood.
  • Laughter decreases stress hormones in the body such as cortisol and adrenaline, thus helping to stave off illness.
  • Laughter strengthens the immune system.
  • When we laugh our bodies release hormones and chemicals that have positive effects on our system. One of these chemicals is endorphins, the feel-good hormone.
  • One minute of laughing burns the same number of calories as 6 to 10 minutes on a treadmill.
  • Laughing raises your mood; joyfulness through laughter is the fastest way to create a positive state of mind.
  • Laughing is good for the heart and improves blood circulation.
  • Laughter can reduce pain and aid the healing process.
  • Laughter creates and strengthens human connections.
  • It feels good to laugh.

Are you ready to laugh more? Below you’ll find 22 ways to bring more laughter into your life.

1. Set the Intent to Laugh More. Make a resolution, or set the intent, of laughing heartily as often as you can. Setting a goal to laugh more is as important as setting the goals to get more exercise, eat healthier, and drink more water.

Tell yourself: “I resolve to laugh more”.

2. Include Laughter in Your Morning Routine. Many of us have a routine that we follow every morning to help set us up to have a great day. How about adding laughter to your morning routine?

One way you can do this is bygetting a year-in-a-box calendar that will give you a quick laugh when you glance at the joke for the day. Choose a year-in-a-box calendar that tickles your fancy and put it right next to your alarm clock.

I’m partial to the Garfield year in-a-box calendars, but I know a lot of people like Dilbert. Start your day with laughter!

Garfield3. Smile More. Yes, I know: smiling is not laughing. However, smiling also has a myriad of benefits. When you smile, happy changes begin to take place automatically, both internally and externally. In addition, you can think of smiling as a warm up for laughing.

One way to remember to smile more is to have smiling cues sprinkled throughout your day. There are a number of ways to do this, including getting yourself a coffee mug that makes you smile. That way, every time you get yourself a cup of coffee you’re reminded to smile.


Here are three more cues you can use to remember to smile:

  • Smile as you step into the shower.
  • Smile every time you’re about to enter your home.
  • Smile every time you open the refrigerator.

4. Read the Funnies. If you’re one of those people who still reads the newspaper offline—like me—don’t skip the funnies. After reading about everything that’s going wrong in the world, a little levity will do you good.

5. Befriend a Funny Person. Some people are just naturally funny. They may have a way with words, or they may have a wacky way of looking at the world. These people are gems. If you find one, befriend them immediately.

6. Have a Favorite Comedian. There are lots of great comedians out there, but almost everyone knows of at least one comedian who really appeals to their own particular sense of humor. Choose your favorite comedian and look for some of their comedy routines on YouTube.

If you’re wondering who my favorite comedian is, it’s George Carlin (1937 – 2008). I love his dry, sarcastic humor. Here are three of his most memorable lines:

  • “In most polls there are always about 5 percent of the people who ‘don’t know.’ What isn’t generally understood is that it’s the same people in every poll.”
  • “Why is the alphabet in that order? Is it because of that song?”
  • “I have six locks on my door, all in a row. When I go out, I lock every other one. I figure no matter how long somebody stands there picking the locks, they are always locking three of them.”

7. Follow a Funny Sitcom. Although I advocate watching less TV so that you have more time to read—or work on projects that are important to you—I’m not one of those people who argue that you shouldn’t watch any TV. Just make sure that you’re watching shows that you really enjoy.

Specifically, limit your TV viewing to shows that make you think, and shows that make you laugh. Here are two shows that make me laugh:

  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Parks and Recreation

8. Have More Fun on Date Night. Keep your relationship strong by laughing more with your partner. On date night, go to a comedy club. If you want to stay in, make some popcorn and watch a funny movie. Here are two funny movies I would definitely recommend:

  • Burn After Reading, starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and John Malkovich.
  • The Other Woman, starring Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, and Kate Upton.

9. Read a Funny Book. I often recommend that you read the classics, but you should also read books just because they’re funny. A genuinely funny book is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Here are two funny books you can get started with:

10. Find a Little Kid You Can Hang Out With. Little kids haven’t forgotten how to laugh yet. They’ll laugh at just about anything, and there are few things more infectious than a little kid’s laugh.

11. Get a Pet. More specifically, get a dog. Dogs make us laugh because. . . well, just look:

happy dog

12. Play Fun Games With Friends. Playing competitive party-style games with a group of friends you enjoy hanging out with will have you laughing in no time. There are lots of games you can choose from, including the following:

Just set up the game, put out some guacamole and chips, and get ready to laugh ’till it hurts.

13. Learn to Laugh at Yourself. Most of us take ourselves too seriously, which limits our ability to find the humor in difficult situations. In addition, it can make us uptight and overly sensitive to what other people may be thinking of us.

Learning to laugh at yourself takes some of the pressure off, and it will allow you to be more authentic and vulnerable (both of which are desirable character traits). Here are two ways learn how to laugh at yourself:

  • Give yourself permission to be silly. At the right moment, being silly is a plus.
  • Look for the funny side of things. When you’re upset over something, ask yourself: “How is this situation funny”? Humor is a great way to deal with adversity and can even turn a negative into a positive.

14. Take Up Something New. When you try something new–whether it’s to draw, perform a karate kick, or learn to roller blade— your initial attempts will likely be clumsy and even ridiculous. That is, funny.

And, since in the point above you learned how to laugh at yourself, taking up something new is very likely to result in lots of laughs.

15. Have a Favorite Comic Strip. My favorite carton strip of all time is Calvin & Hobbes. I have all of Bill Waterson’s Calvin & Hobbes books. When I need a pick-me up I grab the pile of books, sprawl out on my bed, and look through them.

In a short while I’m laughing, and soon after that I’m out of the funk I was in.

Calvin & Hobbes

16. Start a Pinterest Board of Funny Stuff You Find Online. Before the site Squidoo went belly up, I had a Squidoo lens that I used to collect the funny stuff that I found online. This included YouTube videos, images, jokes, quotes, and so on.

Although Squidoo no longer exists, you can do something similar with Pinterest. Start a Pinterest board and every time you find something funny as you browse the web, pin it to your board.

Here’s one of the jokes that I had added to my Squidoo lens:

A police officer pulls over a driver and informs him that he has just won $5,000 in a safety competition, all because he is wearing his seat belt.

“What are you going to do with the prize money?” the officer asks.

The man responds, “I guess I’ll go to driving school and get my license.”

His wife says, “Officer, don’t listen to him. He’s a smart aleck when he’s drunk.”

The guy in the back seat pops up out from under the blanket and says, “I knew we wouldn’t get far in this stolen car.”

Just then a knock comes from the trunk and a voice calls out, “Are we over the border yet?”

17. Start a Scrapbook of Funny Things Your Family Members Say. Family members are a great source for funny comebacks and sayings. Start a scrapbook to collect the funny things your family does and the things they say. This will make you more aware of their funny moments, which will make you appreciate them more.

18. Put Laughter Quotes Up On a Bulletin Board. Put up a bulletin board where you’ll be sure to see it often, and fill it with laughter quotes. Here are some to get you started:

  • “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” — Mark Twain
  • “At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.” — Jean Houston
  • “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” – e. e. cummings
  • “If laughter cannot solve your problems, it will definitely dissolve your problems; so that you can think clearly what to do about them.” – Dr. Madan Kataria

19. Do More of What Makes You Laugh. When was the last time you had a really good laugh? What were you Doing? Do more of that.

20. Follow Funny People on Twitter. Follow two or three funny accounts on Twitter so you get a few laughs as you see the tweets go by on your stream. One funny account I follow is @itsWillyFerrell. Here’s a tweet from him I found hilarious:

vfunny tweet

21. Start a Joke Jar. Get your whole family to laugh more by starting a joke jar. Do the following:

  • Get a nice jar and some scraps of papers.
  • Find some funny jokes and write them down on the scraps of paper. Ask your family members to do the same.
  • Put the scraps of paper with the jokes written on them in the jar.
  • At dinner time have someone reach into the jar, take out a joke, and read it out loud.

Here are some family-friendly jokes to get you started (they’re Easter oriented since it’s almost Easter):

  • Q: What do you call a rabbit with fleas? A: Bugs Bunny!
  • Q: Why shouldn’t you tell an Easter egg a joke? A: It might crack up!
  • Q: What kind of book does a rabbit like at bedtime? A: One with a “hoppy” ending.

22. Try Laughter Meditation. As I wrote in my post on how to meditate, there are many different meditation practices you can try. One of these is laughter meditation. Do the following:

  • Find a comfortable place to sit.
  • Bring your attention to your breath and release all tension from your body.
  • Bring up an image of something you find really funny. Once you have the feeling of laughter, spread it throughout your body, from the top of your head, to the tip of your toes.
  • Bring up another image that makes you laugh. Continue spreading the feeling of laughter throughout your body.


I hope this post made you laugh! After all, laughter is the best medicine. Live your best life by laughing more. Get started with the 22 tips above.

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How to Not Give Up

Never give up!

When you’re pursuing a worthwhile goal it’s almost inevitable that at some point you’ll think one or more of the following:

  • “This is harder than I thought it would be.”
  • “Why is this taking so long?”
  • “I’m getting nowhere with this.”
  • “I keep failing at this goal.”
  • “I can’t do this. What was I thinking?”

And when you do have one—or more—of these thoughts, it’s very likely that you’ll want to give up. When that happens, come back to this blog post to stop yourself from quitting. Below you’ll find 8 strategies for not giving up.

1. Adopt An “I Won’t Quit” Mindset.

I just finished watching the fourth season of “House of Cards” – an American political drama about a Congressman and his wife who will stop at nothing to achieve their goal of climbing up the political ladder. Now, the protagonists of the show–Frank and Claire Underwood–are definitely not good role models. They’re ruthless, manipulative, self-centered narcissists.

But the one thing that they do have going for them is that they just won’t give up. Even if all the tables are turned against them, they keep going.

Not giving up is a mindset. And it’s a mindset that you can adopt. Fortunately, you don’t need to have a personality disorder—like the Underwoods–to refuse to give up, no matter what. Instead, what you do need is to constantly tell yourself the following:

  • I persist when things get tough.
  • I will either find a way or make one.
  • Every problem has a solution, and I have the perfect ability to find it.
  • Every day I gain more knowledge and insight about what works and what doesn’t, which means I’m getting stronger and wiser.
  • Setbacks are temporary.
  • I will find a way through this.
  • Think! What’s the best thing to do now?

Having an “I won’t quit” mindset will make it much easier for you to persist—and refuse to give up—until you achieve your goal.

2. Watch Someone Else Persevere.

We can learn a lot by watching other people. And learning to persevere is no exception.

There are lots of great movies out there which are based on real life stories about people who faced incredible odds and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, but who nonetheless refused to quit. And they managed to achieve what they were after.

Sitting down to watch these movies can be helpful when you feel like quitting. Here are three examples of inspirational movies which will allow you to watch someone else persevere (so you can follow suit):

  • Rudy – This film is a based-on-fact account of Daniel Eugene “Rudy” Ruettiger, a small town boy who dreamed of playing football for Notre Dame, but was always told he wasn’t good enough (not big enough, smart enough, athletic enough, and so on). Nonetheless, he persevered until he achieved his dream.
  • The Pursuit Of Happyness — Inspired by the true story of Chris Gardner, this film is about a single father with a 5-year-old son who rises from homelessness to Wall Street legend.
  • Erin Brockovich – This is a biographical film about an unemployed single mother of three who finds work as a legal assistant and manages to bring down a California power company accused of polluting a city’s water supply.

Watching others refuse to give up will strengthen your own resolve to keep going. Tell yourself the following: “They didn’t quit, and neither will I.”

3. Call Someone.

I’m sure you’ve seen TV shows in which someone decides to stop abusing alcohol, so they join AA (Alcoholics Anonymous). One of the things AA does for them is give them a sponsor. If they ever feel like having a drink, they’re supposed to call their sponsor so that their sponsor can talk them out of it.

When you’ve been chasing an important goal for a while, but you haven’t made much progress and you feel like giving up, call someone whom you know will talk you out of quitting. You can think of this person as a “goals sponsor”, if you will. Resist the urge to give up by calling your goals sponsor.

4. Go Back to Your “Why”.

One of the most important steps in setting a goal is to create a list of all the reasons why you want to achieve that goal. In fact, if you discover that you don’t have a strong enough “why” for a particular goal, it’s probably a good idea to discard it. After all, your “why’s” are what will motivate you to continue striving for a goal, even when the going gets tough.

When you feel like quitting, look at your list containing all of the reasons why your goal is so important to you. If need be, add even more reasons why. The greater the quantity of reasons—and the stronger the reasons—that you have to keep going, the more likely it is that you won’t quit.

5. Find a Different “How”.

Refusing to give up doesn’t mean that you should simply keep doing the same thing over and over again. If the approach that you’re currently using isn’t working, try a different approach. Continue in this way until you find a method, technique, or strategy that does work.

Tell yourself the following:

  • “I refuse to give up because I haven’t tried all possible ways.”
  • “Wanting to give up is just a sign that a different approach is needed.”

When you want to give up, take out a pen and a piece of paper and start brainstorming different alternatives you can try. Then, choose one of them, and try it!

6. Succeed at Something Else.

Human beings love being rewarded. In fact, we crave it.

When you’ve been working toward the achievement of a goal for a long time, but your efforts haven’t resulted in any rewards—you haven’t made any money, you haven’t achieved anything you can brag about to others, you don’t really feel like you can pat yourself on the back, and so on–you’ll probably be tempted to quit.

One way to stop yourself from quitting is to take a break and go do something else that you know will be rewarded. Here are some examples:

  • Write a brilliant blog post that will get you lots of social media shares (bask in the glow of the online attention).
  • Increase the length of your runs and complete a 10K (take a selfie as soon as you cross the finish line and send it to all your friends).
  • Try a new recipe and have people over for dinner (give yourself kudos every time someone asks for the recipe or wants seconds).
  • Drop one pant size in a month and go out and get yourself a great new pair of jeans (smile graciously as people compliment you on how great you look).

Remind yourself of what success feels like. Then, allow that success to sustain you for a while longer while you take another swing at your goal.

7. Use Failure As a Stepping Stone.

In 2008 Hillary Rodham Clinton— then the junior United States Senator from New York– wanted to be president of the United States. She announced her decision to run and campaigned her heart out. However, she didn’t even succeed in getting the Democratic party’s nomination, much less was she elected president.

Even though she failed, she didn’t give up on her goal. Instead, she accepted a position as Secretary of State. After all, being Secretary of State put her one step closer to the White House. It was a stepping stone.

Now, in 2016, she’s running for president once again. And—because of the foreign policy experience she gained as Secretary of State–she’s in a stronger position than she was back in 2008. I don’t know if she’ll win the presidency, but at least she hasn’t given up on her goal of becoming the first female president of the US.

If you fail as you try to achieve your goal, instead of using that failure as an excuse to quit, use it as a stepping stone.

8. Keep Chipping Away.

When you want to quit, push yourself to keep taking consistent action toward the achievement of your goal. Even if you haven’t seen results yet, you never know what may be happening underneath the surface. Look at the following:

  • The bamboo plant spends five years just growing its roots. During that time, the grower has nothing more than a small shoot as the only visible aspect of the plant actually being there. Then, after five years, the plant shoots up to 25 meters in a short amount of time.
  • You can hammer away at a rock, perhaps a hundred times, without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the next blow it splits.

Just because you can’t see anything yet, although you’ve been working on your goal for awhile, this doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. You may be closer to achieving your dream than you think. Don’t give up, when you could be just moments away from succeeding. Keep chipping away.


Achieving large, hairy goals isn’t easy. Somewhere along the way it’s very likely that you’ll want to quit. But when you feel like quitting, don’t give up. Live your best life by refusing to quit. Start by applying the 8 strategies explained above.

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how to overcome self-doubt

“Our doubts are traitors . .. “ – William Shakespeare

Everyone feels self-doubt at least every once in a while. However, high achievers overcome their self-doubt, while low achievers wallow in it and allow their self-doubt to prevent them from achieving their goals. Self-doubt sounds like the following:

  • “I’m not sure I can do this.”
  • “What if I fail?”
  • “What if I just don’t have what it takes?”

Fortunately, there are ways of conquering those doubts, so that they don’t hold you back. Below you’ll find eight ways to overcome self-doubt.

1. Beware of Naysayers.

Self-doubt comes from one of two sources, from other people—also known as naysayers–or from your own negative inner chatter. Let’s start with the naysayers. They’re the people who are constantly telling you things like the following:

  • “That’s too hard; there’s no way you’ll succeed. Don’t even try.”
  • “That doesn’t sound safe.”
  • “You’re too old to try that. Remember, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
  • “What if you fail? You’ll never be able to live it down”

The motivation behind these comments could be any of the following:

  • They may be trying to keep you from getting hurt, albeit in a misguided way. If this is the case, explain to them how you’ve prepared yourself for the challenge that lies ahead, and reassure them that you’ll be fine.
  • They’re reflecting their own doubts about themselves onto you. Don’t adopt other people’s doubts as your own. Instead, tell those people: “I’m sorry if that’s how you see yourself, but that’s not how I see myself.”
  • They may be jealous that you’re trying something new, while they’re too scared to change. Move away from these people as fast as you can.

Deal with naysayers in the ways explained above so that they stop feeding your self-doubt.

2. Challenge the Negative Chatter in Your Head.

The second source of self-doubt is your own negative inner chatter. The best way to quiet the negative chatter in your head is to present evidence against anything it’s saying. Here are some examples of possible responses:

  • “What are you saying? That I’m too old to run a marathon? There’s a British man named Fauja Singh who ran a marathon at the age of 100! I still have time.”
  • “Yes, I realize that I didn’t go to business school. That’s why I’m taking business courses online.”
  • “I understand that it’s going to be hard. But this is important to me, and I’m willing to do the necessary work.”

Just continue in this way, and sooner or later you’ll hear your inner chatter say, “You know what? Do whatever you want.”

3. Shrink the Challenge.

It’s easy to doubt yourself when the challenge that you’re facing is very large. Therefore, you can decrease your self-doubt by making the challenge smaller. Here are three examples:

  • If you’re thinking of quitting your job to work as a freelance writer, stay at your job—for now—and do freelance work on the side.
  • If you want to be a writer, don’t start by trying to write a novel. Instead, start by writing short stories.
  • If you want to start making video courses, don’t start by getting expensive, professional-quality equipment. Instead, put together a simple home studio for yourself that includes just the basics.

Get over any self-doubt you may be feeling by shrinking the challenge. Later, when you’ve overcome your self-doubt, you can make the challenge big again.

4. Ask – What’s the Worst that Could Happen?

Another way to overcome your self-doubt is to come up with the worst case scenario. If you fail, what’s the worst thing that could happen? Then, ask yourself the following:

  • Is it really that bad?
  • What steps can I take to lessen the probability that the worst case scenario will come to pass?
  • What can I do to be prepared in case the worst does happen? What sort of “insurance” could I set up in order to protect myself?

Conquer your self-doubt by realizing that the worst case scenario wouldn’t be something catastrophic. Instead, even if it were to take place, you would be prepared to deal with it.

5. Ask – What’s the Best that Could Happen?

If you go after your dreams, you might fail. But you might also succeed. What would that look like? Paint a vivid picture of what your life would be like if you achieved your goal. Whenever you feel self-doubt rearing its ugly head, pull up that image of yourself succeeding and achieving your goal.

Overcome self-doubt by keeping your eye on the prize.

6. Take the Focus Off of Yourself.

Sometimes you feel self-doubt because you’re too focused on yourself. If that’s the case, what you need to do is shift your focus to others. Look at the following:

  • Instead of asking, “What if I bomb the presentation?”, ask yourself, “What do the people who are going to be in the audience need to know about this topic, and how I make the presentation fun and informative for them?”
  • Instead of asking yourself, “What if nobody buys my product?”, ask yourself, “What problem am I trying to solve for others with this product?” and “How can I make sure that my product solves that problem?”
  • Instead of asking yourself: “What if I ask for the promotion and I don’t get it?”, ask yourself, “What does the company need from someone in the position that I want, and how can I best meet those requirements?”

See what the trick is here? If you’re not thinking about yourself, how can you doubt yourself? Put an end to self-doubt by focusing on others.

7. Share Your Goal with People You Trust.

If you share your goal with the wrong people—toxic people, people who don’t like change, or people who are just sad and miserable—they’ll probably add to any self-doubt that you may be feeling. However, sharing your goal with the right people will help you to conquer your self-doubt.

These are the kind of people you should share your goals with:

  • Someone who has already achieved what you’re trying to do and can point you in the right direction.
  • Someone who will remind you of for your past successes and encourage you to move forward.
  • Someone who can point out any flaws in your plan, and give you advice on how to fix those flaws.

There are some people who can act as a bridge between where you are now and where you want to be. Those are the people you want to be sharing your goals and dreams with. They will help you overcome your self-doubt.

8. Walk Through Your Fear.

Self-doubt is fear: fear of failure, fear of being ridiculed, fear of disappointing others, and so on. In order to overcome self-doubt, you have to walk through your fear.

I’m going to give you an example of walking through fear. My bedroom door has an opening over it which is partially covered by three wooden slots at an angle. You can’t look out into the hall from the bedroom, but you can clearly see whether the hallway light is on or off through the opening.

A few nights ago—it was late at night–I was in my bedroom, about to fall asleep, when I turned over and opened my eyes for a moment. At that instant, I saw the light out in the hall flicker on and off twice through the opening over the door. I froze. What had just happened?

I turn all of the lights off before going to bed, and I live alone. So why was the hallway light turning on and off? I thought to myself: “Please let me have imagined that.” I continued staring at the opening over the door, and then it happened again: the light out in the hall flickered on and off a few times.

You can imagine how scared I was. However, I forced myself to get out of bed and pull on the string that turns on the ceiling fan light. I then stood very still, and it happened again: the light out in the hall flickered on and off three or four times.

In my mind I could see a dark figure standing out in the hall with its hand on the light switch, moving the switch up and down (the imagination goes into overdrive when it’s very late at night).

I told myself that I needed to go out there and see what was going on. I looked around for a weapon and noticed I had left my broom leaning against one of the bedroom walls. I grabbed the broom and readied myself. Then, I resolutely walked to the door, swung it open, and raised the broom in order to smack whoever—or whatever–was out in the hall with the broom.

The hallway was empty. Then I noticed that what was flickering on and off wasn’t the hallway light, but the kitchen light.

That’s when I remembered that the kitchen light wasn’t working. It would take some time to turn on, then it would turn off, and a while later it would start flickering. When I went to bed I hadn’t noticed that the kitchen’s light switch was in the “on” position, because when I walked past the kitchen the light was off.

I breathed a sigh of relief and went back to bed. This story has two morals:

  • When you’re afraid you have to force yourself to walk through the fear.
  • Once you do walk through the fear, it’s very likely that whatever fearful outcome you were imagining will not materialize.

In order to overcome your self-doubt, walk through your fear.


I started off this post with the beginning of a quote on doubt by Shakespeare. Here’s the quote in its entirety:

“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

Live your best life by overcoming self-doubt and going after the things you really want. Start by applying the eight strategies above.

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