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Eliana Reyes

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What do you think are the TOP 3 personal issues that stop an individual from pursuing their life purpose and developing their talents?

For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with studying different issues people deal with and reasons why they may not be content with their life.

I am curious to know what everyone else thinks (based on observation or personal experience).

What stops us from "living life?"
What are the main issues in life? Is it fear? doubt? low self esteem? envy?
Why do you think some people let those issues stifle their purpose in life?

Lets Talk! :)

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    Dec 18 2013: Hi Eliana,

    Personally, I think the top 1 reason is that they literally do not believe that they can achieve their dreams. For example, if you ask a person to read aloud "I can achieve whatever dream I want to achieve. I can live a meaningful live and have an positive influence on my friends, family, and even the world." I think that most of the people will have an inner voice that say "What? Achieve dreams? Have an influence on the world?? You must be kidding!" So I think that some people cannot pursue their dreams because they literally do not believe that they can achieve it.

    I think the second reason is that people tend to blame too much on themselves. I think that many people have the feeling of guilty and weak when they did not achieve what they want, such as getting up early in the morning. Then, they might think that they are just losers and they just cannot be a persistent person, which make them giving up. However, they do not realize that failure is just perfectly normal on the way to success.

    The third one might be lack of support from friends and family. I think that it is really hard for one to continue her dream if there is no one supporting and encouraging her.
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      Dec 19 2013: It wasn't until I had the wonderful privilege of working amongst people passionate about their work - people who had vocations rather than jobs - that I had a true, deep-down realisation that the difference between people in 'sensible' careers and people in inspiring careers isn't just luck. I realised that 'sensible' doesn't have to mean 'boring' - sometimes inspiring careers can be sensible, too. And I realised that my colleagues came into their careers through completely achievable means - achievable for me, too. I can't say what kept me from realising this earlier in life. Perhaps it was coming from a 'work hard' family rather than a 'follow your dreams' family, or perhaps it was never before having met a person in a career which inspired me.

      So, for me, it was as you say, Mingkun - at least with respect to my career. I didn't think dreams were achievable by normal people. When that changed, I also needed a bit of extra motivation to make the necessary sacrifices and, of course, money.
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      Dec 19 2013: Mingkun and Sara,
      I agree with what you both have expressed....

      I personally view the life adventure as an exploration, so in my mind and heart, there are no mistakes or failures. There are opportunities to learn, grow and evolve as an individual while contributing to the whole.
      As one of my good friends often says....."it's not a problem....it's a feature":>)

      Imagine how it might feel if we do not label anything a failure, but rather consider it as an opportunity to learn and grow? It frees us from the feelings of guilt, blame, being losers, feeling that we are not persistent enough, strong enough....on and on....

      These feelings often stem from fear of not "being enough", and if we can free ourselves from these feelings and really believe in our "self", we can move through the life adventure with curiosity and love.
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        Dec 20 2013: You enlightened me Colleen! The wall is there to give every single person opportunities to challenge themselves. For different people, the wall may be different. However, there will always be walls to try to let us show our courage and enthusiasm to our goals. Thus, we do have a choice.
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          Dec 20 2013: Oh my goodness Mingkun.....that was easy.....LOL:>)

          I think you are already enlightened my friend....glad you joined the TED community:>)

          Are you aware of this?
          "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
          (Marianne Williamson)

          This quote is often found on the Internet incorrectly credited to Nelson Mandela from his Inauguration Speech, 1994, especially the last sentence of that quote, “As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
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      Dec 19 2013: Hi there!

      I thought I had replied to this, but I see that it never went through. Mingkun thanks for sharing your thoughts. I totally agree with you as well. I have seen those things to be true in my own personal life and I have learned the power and important of faith: believing in yourself. The second reason you mentioned is one I was currently having a conversation about. I believe that when it comes to over blaming yourself for things there are 2 things at play:

      1. Lacking compassion, forgiveness and love for yourself.
      2. Not being comfortable with imperfections.

      I loved that you said that failure is part of success. Yes! And I think we can become better at embracing our weaknesses and imperfections knowing that some days are going to be great and some days we will be in a funky mood. But, we shouldn't let that one mood dictate our day, our week, our month, our year, or our life!.

      And Colleen you summed it perfect. The key is to convince ourselves that WE ARE ENOUGH and put a bit more of faith in us like we put it on other things. That is a very liberating mindset to have. I am just so heart broken with the youth around me who cant fully grasp these concepts yet because of the different pressure they receive daily. Sigh.
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        Dec 19 2013: Sara, Colleen, and Eliana,

        Thanks for your replies! As Colleen said, if we all view failures as an opportunity to grow, life will be so different. And I totally agree with Eliana's 2 reasons for why we tend to over blame ourselves.

        I also want to add one more thing about why we tend to over blame ourselves. It is because that we view reality as an enemy instead of a friend. When we pursue our dreams, we tend to view current reality(We are lazy, do not have enough capital, do not have a good education, etc) as an enemy to stop us from pursuing our dreams. Thus, it becomes normal that we feel as a loser when we lose since we are defeated by our enemy. However, if we view reality as a friend, the problem will be totally different. In fact, reality is really a friend on our roads to achieve dreams. It is a friend to let us know how badly we want something, and a friend to let us know how important our dreams are, and a friend to let us know what we should do to achieve our dreams. It is simply not an enemy to stop us, but a friend to remind us that we have dreams, and we want to achieve our dreams no matter what. As Randy Pausch said: "The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people."
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          Dec 19 2013: WELL SAID Mingkun!

          Are the walls there to "stop" other people, or do you think/feel they may be there to give ALL people the same opportunities to challenge themselves? Maybe both? Do you think it is a choice for us?
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          Dec 20 2013: Love that last quote!! You rock. Tis true my friend. I like that mindset you explained on how to view our realiy (with all he ups and downs) as a friend. Frm expereince, I know it makes a difference.

          In all of these comments I am seeing a thread on the importance or rather the impact that "our mindset" has in our daily life. I have always been a firm believer of what we repeatedly think, we manifest. And in my expereince as a story-teller I have learned that they are powerful! They can spread a truth or a lie. One of my menors, Les Brown, told me something this year that absolutley changed my life. He said:

          "There are the stories we are born into, he stories we live by, and the stories at we create. What story are you telling yourself daily?"

          This made me look at my actions and then question the story I told myself to arive to that action. It then made me look at my past and see patterns. When I wasnt happy, when I was being too harsh on myself, when I was over blaming self- I was telling myself a not so loving story. "Eliana you CANT do that. Eliana you know better. Eliana people like you cant expereince that. Eliana blah bla blah"

          Its liberating to know that WE have the power AND choice to create a new story in our minds, a truth we want to comint to living so that our "reality" changes. So much more I can say on this! Sigh
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    Dec 18 2013: Probably not being able to identify what life it is that we want to live. If you ask people they very often can't show you a blue print of how they want their life to be.
    Another reason might be a combination of what you already wrote, (self) doubt and fear. People often are afraid to make radical changes. We all feel safest in an environment we know.
    Procrastination is probably another one.
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      Dec 18 2013: Harald, thanks for your reply. I love the first sentence that you wrote " not being able to identify what life it is that we want to live." I have been studying this year identity and vulnerability. Dr. Brene Browns work has been very helpful in this. From personal experience I have found this to be a HUGE issue for people- having that inward battle of this is who I was told I would be vs. this is who I am OR "this is the life people told me I would have" vs. "this is what I want my life to me like." I think what you wrote about blueprints is true. If people are stifled with so many inner issues, how can they have a vision for their life?
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        Dec 20 2013: People make it too complicated. Instead of focusing on what they really want in life, they focus on everybody else. Advertising, the media, friends, family and pop culture are all working very hard to make people follow whatever they think is important. Over all this external influence many people just can't figure out what it really is they want.
        I think many people lack authenticity and rather act like puppets influenced by their environment.
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          Dec 20 2013: TOTALY AGREE ON THE LACK OF AUHENTICITY! YES! YES! and YES! Sgh...
          So much I can say abou this but I will reserve my commens for anoher conversation.
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          Dec 21 2013: I wholeheartedly agree Harald, that often times, people make things too complicated for the reasons you mention. In addition to what you insightfully point out, I observe some folks focusing on everything that is "wrong", rather than moving through the challenges to realize what they can do about what is not working well in their lives.

          You brought this up in another comment Eliana...you write...
          "There are stories we are born into... stories we live by... stories we create. What story are you telling yourself daily?...look at my actions... question the story I told myself to arrive to that action. It then made me look at my past and see patterns. When I wasn't happy, when I was being too harsh on myself, when I was over blaming self...I was telling myself a not so loving story. "Eliana you CANT do that... you know better. Eliana people like you cant experience that... blah bla blah... Its liberating to know that WE have the power AND choice to create a new story in our minds, a truth we want to commit to living so that our "reality" changes".

          Well stated Eliana. What we focus on expands. When we change our thoughts (the mind chatter thoughts), it may change our feelings, which can change our life experience and what we believe to be reality in every moment.
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        Dec 21 2013: Eliana,
        Regarding your comment...
        "I have found this to be a HUGE issue for people- having that inward battle of this is who I was told I would be vs. this is who I am OR "this is the life people told me I would have" vs. "this is what I want my life to me like."

        I agree that this is a HUGE issue.....labels given to oneself, or labels given to us by others that we accept. A good example of this idea is some of the incarcerated guys I worked with. I heard more than once...."I am ADD.....what do you expect"? They were given this label as kids, held onto the label as a reason for their lifestyle patterns and behaviors and it influenced their expectations of themselves.
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    Dec 20 2013: Thanks for the tip Colleen ... a good thread runs here ... I will stand back for a bit and enjoy ... I feel affinity to all comments and will only add something if I feel it may increase the value ... right now, it is running fine without me ... cheers to all!
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    Dec 19 2013: Hi Eliana, and welcome to TED conversations:>)
    I too have always been fascinated with human behaviors....my own included!

    My answer to your question is fear, fear, fear. In my perception and experience, we are, at all times, coming from an underlying sense of love (curiosity, enthusiasm, eagerness to learn and grow, joy, compassion, respect, etc.), or fear.

    You mention fear, doubt and low self esteem as an example. In my perception, doubt, low self esteem and some other examples insightfully presented on this thread come from fear.....the fear of not "being" enough, not doing enough, or having a fear of failing in the life adventure.

    I suggest that some folks let those issues stifle their life adventure, because they may not realize that those thoughts, feelings and emotions are stifling? We cannot change something that we are not aware of, so the first step is realizing how some of the fear based thoughts, feelings and perceptions impact the life experience. If we do not do that exploration, we continue to be impacted by the underlying "programming".
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      Dec 19 2013: Thanks for the welcome! I have missed out on some great conversation by not being part of this community sooner!

      Thanks for your reply, especially admitting that you are fascinated in your own behavior! That makes two of us!
      I love how you phrased "stifle their life adventure." Brilliant! What is an adventure but a journey of embracing the unknown, feeling the fear, but doing it anyway. I agree with you- the issue is not oftentimes the actual fear, or doubt, or (insert another issue), but not being AWARE that those feelings are blocking ones ability to live their dream.

      This brings up another passionate interest of mine- how does one awaken or challenge a persons state of unawareness? #pondering
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        Dec 19 2013: Eliana,
        I suggest that you have not "missed out" on anything, because in my perception and experience, we discover and participate in something when we are truly ready, willing and able to do so.

        Anyway, a lot of the topics discussed on TED are repeated over and over again.....I think there is a lot to discuss in our world, and TED provides the opportunity for us to connect around the world.....I LOVE it:>)

        Regarding fascinated with my own behaviors....yes.....it is sometimes very enlightening to observe my own behaviors, because that is how I evaluate, learn, grow, possibly change something, and sometimes it is very amusing:>)
        "Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves for they shall never cease to be amused":>)

        Are you aware that there is a book by that title?
        "Feel the Fear and do it Anyway" by Susan Jeffers
        I read it years ago, and thought it was very good.

        I find that asking questions of myself, challenges me to be more aware, and I often ask questions to encourage/support others in their journey as well:>)
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          Dec 20 2013: Colleen I can feel your warm and compassinate spirit through the screen. I just want to hug you! Thanks for your reply. I love asking questions and swimming in thoughts of possibiliies and ideas and truth!

          I am aware of that book! Its a god book indeed. And thank yu for the encouragemen that yu wrote n the very first sentence. :) Cheers!
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        Dec 21 2013: Thank you Eliana....sending you more warmth, compassion and a hug:>)

        Let's use your comment as a little example of what we are talking about....ok?

        You write...
        "I have missed out on some great conversation by not being part of this community sooner!"

        A person can focus on that idea and repeat it over and over again in his/her mind...why didn't I do that sooner...I should have known better...bla...bla...bla. That focus can take a person on a regret/shame/blame trip. There were certainly times in my life when I discovered something that seemed to be right in front of me all the time, and I asked...why didn't I see, feel, perceive and understand that?

        For some reason, I was not ready, willing or able to embrace, accept or understand that information, on that level, at that time. So, I let go of the "should have" "could have" regret/blame scenario. As we learn and grow with the life experience, we often see things differently, based on information we are accepting at any given time...hind sight, wisdom...call it what you will. There have been many life situations I explored at various times in my life, often going to deeper and deeper understanding at different times.

        When we get stuck in, and focus on the regret/blame patterns, it prevents us from moving forward with the information which might help support and encourage learning. There is nothing wrong with having the thoughts...why didn't I do that or know that sooner. It is the holding onto those thoughts and making them our reality, that might be problematic.

        The questions that may be helpful to ask... why do I want to have regrets? Why do I want to blame myself just because I didn't notice something sooner, rather than later? Why do I want to hold onto those regret/blame feelings? You say we can swim in thoughts of possibilities and ideas.....I love that Eliana. Let go of the regret/blame mind chatter, and swim in new thoughts of possibilities and ideas....be clear with our 'self".....KNOW THYSELF:>)
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          Dec 21 2013: Dear Colleen,
          I saw your smiling face and felt a pang. I know it's a photo but guess I am getting older :) Sorry this is absolutely out of topic.
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          Dec 23 2013: Colleen, (hugs, love and compassion received)

          When I read your replies I feel like I'm:

          a. having an inner conversation with myself. (that is how they sound like)
          b. writing in my journal.

          That is why my responses back to you are not long becuase I feel like what you express are things I express to myself when no one is watching. Its so refreshing to see others express what you understand, but express it in such a form that it adds to your understanding. Yummy!

          And I love that you said:

          "I was not ready, willing or able to embrace, accept or understand that information, on that level, at that time. "

          I totally agree and have always believed in that idea as well. THANKS for sharing the truth of your soul. :)

          You are a wonderful soul.
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        Dec 23 2013: Dear Pabitra,
        You are a sweet kind man....oops....I mean chimp:>) I sincerely hope the "pang" that you felt was pleasant, rather than the alternative!

        Perhaps it is not so "off topic" my friend, because in my perception and experience, it appears that some of the same fearful limitations that may stop an individual from pursuing their life purpose and developing their talents, are sometimes the same limitations that hinder genuine connections with people. Putting oneself "out there" in the pursuit of our life purpose, developing talents that support what we believe to be our purpose, and genuinely connecting with people all require a certain risk.

        What if we are rejected? What if our attempts are a mistake? What if we feel like a failure because we did not get the results we anticipate? What do you think about the idea that it takes a risk to wholeheartedly pursue our life purpose, develop talents and relationships?
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          Dec 23 2013: Thanks Colleen :)
          The in topic response then will be:
          1. Inhibition
          2. Insecurity
          3. Infallibility

          All apply to mind and stop us from the flight of joy.
          Hugs and Merry Christmas.
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          Dec 23 2013: Pabrita,

          Thanks for replying! Your profile picture is quite nice. That is one sassy and intellectual chimp. I wonder what he is contemplating!

          I love your above statement of the 3 I's...Delicious. And, I also agree with Colleen I LOVE THE FLIGHT OF JOY. Joy is an upward journey, one that most times starts on the lowest of grounds.
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        Dec 23 2013: I agree Pabitra, and I love your reference to "the flight of joy"!
        Hugs and Happy Holidays to you too my friend:>)
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        Dec 29 2013: Eliana,
        This is a reply to your comment which begins..."Colleen, (hugs, love and compassion received)"

        Thank you for your kind words my friend. It is indeed very pleasurable to connect with so many people who seem to be on the same page, same book, same library! I am very grateful to TED for providing the wonderful opportunity:>)

        Wishing you more love and hugs in the new year!
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    Dec 18 2013: We have a number of talks on this ( including Elizabeth Gilbert and JK Rowling) which I know you will find by browsing the site, so let me recommend something not on the site. Steven Pressfield in several of his books puts forward a theory called Resistance. I am sure you would find his writing interesting.

    I think a couple of challenges arise because people may have a number of interests that are incompatible and following one often means not embracing the other fully. A person may be interested in being a scientist and being an actor, for example, and can invest in only one with full energy. A person may be interested in a career that involves traveling all over the world but then falls in love with a homebody he cannot imagine living without.

    Another matter is that people may have a variety of interests with different risks associated with them and make a choice of what to pursue taking both the anticipated value of the experience or path and also the risk of not succeeding into account. Some people will choose a path that offers them lots of personal value over one that might work out great but also might work out very poorly.
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      Dec 18 2013: Thank you so much for those resources. I will check them out. And I have talked with many people who have expressed the same thing you just finished explaining. So, are you saying that an individual who is multi-passionate CANT pursue multiple passions at once? or they can but not at the same time? What do you think?
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        Dec 18 2013: It depends what their passions are. Many people pursue several simultaneously, like people who are devoted to family but also have a career, or people with a career who also paint or write poetry.
  • Dec 28 2013: 1. Survival. You need to do those things which are required to survive.
    2. Shift in responsibility from just self, to others, as in family. When this occurs in your life, you need to balance time, energy and resources among more than one person, more than one purpose, and more than one set of priorities. This diversion can change a personal life purpose from just being focused on personal success, to also being focused on the success and happiness of others. It is selfless, but may provide a different sense of personal fulfillment in life. However, you want to retain your sense of self or you can end up feeling like a drone.
    3. I think lack of will and balance in life leads to a lack of harmony, and that may leave a sense of being stifled or leading a life of seemingly little purpose. Relative to number 2 above, you can have more than one purpose. The trick is to find a balance that enables you to do more than just one thing. Perhaps it is share your talents as you teach your children. Perhaps it is using spare time effectively to continue personal development. Perhaps it is finding creative ways to continue to improve yourself, enrich your life and have new experiences while you share similar things with other people. If you have the desire and passion to chase a dream and make it reality, then all you need is the will and the focus to make it reality. It may take a while, and there may be some sacrifices along the way, but if you stay focused on the long-term goal, then the journey will be one you want to take and hopefully one that you enjoy through life. In this manner, you can have personal happiness, perhaps share your talents and dreams with others proportionally to the amount of time you spend with them, and stay positive about life.
  • Dec 22 2013: Fear,Doubt and low self esteem are not the real issues but these are the symptoms. The real issues are the issues which work behind the scene and create fear,Doubt and low self esteem.

    As this is not the right venue to share real issues , so I will not be honest here and will prefer to practice dishonesty.

    My top most personal issue is like riddle , whether the egg came first or the chicken came first .It is a catch 22 issue.

    Like: If I want to have A then I must have B then only I can have A. But, to have B I must have A .

    I will appreciate it if you have any solution to this issue.
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      Dec 23 2013: Santokh, your 'underlying cause' point makes sense to me. I was also thinking there may be a catch 22 situation, but I've decided it's not that hopeless. Are you sure there's no 'C can also produce A/B'?

      There's a TED talk by Amy Cuddy which may give you some ideas, if you've not seen it yet. The key message is 'fake it till you ARE it'. Amy talks about reseach showing how our own body language affects us. I'd recommend it, even just for interest. It brings to mind a concept in psychology called the Facial Feedback Hypothesis, which suggests that our facial expressions influence our emotions - the 'smiling makes you happy' idea. From recollection, A.J. Jacobs made a similar observation to Amy in his talk 'My year of living biblically'. He felt his actions during that year changed him inwardly. And I've had a similar experience, going from being someone really uncomfortable with talking to most people and known as 'quiet', to striking up conversations (well - friendly exchanges, perhaps) with random strangers in the supermarket, firstly through 'faking it', now because I enjoy it. So, if either A or B is something internal rather than external, you may be able to kind of manipulate your mind through facial expression, body language and action, and break out of the catch 22 that way.

      Here are some other ideas with which you might address 'symptoms':
      1) Research suggests spending a few minutes focusing on our core values - writing about why they're important, for example - has a physiological effect (affects glucose levels) and replenishes our self-control and stamina, allowing us to better tolerate things like stress, fear and pain.
      2) One treatment for phobias is to start by confronting the fear in a really small way until you're comfortable - e.g. imagining a spider - and gradually 'upping the ante' until you're e.g holding the spider. Maybe this could be adapted for some symptoms.
      3) Talk to an expert.

      I hope some of this is relevant and helpful
      • Dec 25 2013: Thank you for the solution.You have revealed the truth about how the world practically functions.

        What I can conclude from the above is it is that if one wants to be appreciated and accepted by the world then one has to be dishonest,tell a lie and become selfish.

        It seems that it is the world who has fear and is afraid to accept and appreciate the person as it is so to be acceptable in world one has to fake many things.

        Faking may be good as long as it is internal or it is related to self development of self improvement but is it good to fake externally ?
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          Dec 25 2013: "What I can conclude from the above is it is that if one wants to be appreciated and accepted by the world then one has to be dishonest,tell a lie and become selfish." Oh dear! No no no no! Not at all what I was trying to get across, and not at all how I interpret Amy's talk. First off, it's not so much about changing the way the world sees us, but changing how we feel. I guess I wasn't clear that Amy's talk isn't about how our body language affects others, but how it affects ourselves (I'm making an assumption you haven't watched it). Of course, it's a natural consequence that changing how we feel should change the way we're perceived by others, but that doesn't need to be our primary motivation - or any motivation.

          Secondly - dishonest, lie? Well, you could argue that manipulating our facial expressions and posture uses our bodies to deceive our minds, but I think that's a bit of a stretch (no pun intended). You could also argue that pretending social confidence (/happiness/self-belief/etc) is dishonest, but if there's no potential of harm, even if discovered, is it a negative thing? And what Amy suggested in her talk, and what I experienced, was that confidence allows us to become MORE authentic. Even faking confidence allowed me to be more authentic.

          Thirdly - selfish? Well, I guess it depends on what actions you've taken and how you apply changes you've made. If, for example, you make a decision to recycle more, and you find that as a result you become more environmentally aware, I think you'd agree that's not being selfish.

          I'm not a big fan of deception myself, so I appreciate where you're coming from, but I like to think my moral code isn't rigid. My default position is against dishonesty, in large part because it usually has the potential to harm myself and others, and it devalues the trust others place in me. These are the things I would consider if contemplating 'faking externally'.
      • Dec 28 2013: I completely agree with you and also understand your point of view as well as that of Amy's Talk.

        But, my point of view of is also true , that world does not has the courage to accept the truth and so people lie.And to prove my point I have to disable my privacy settings, which I prefer not to do so as this is not the right venue.

        I won't argue.:)
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          Dec 30 2013: I'm grateful for your reply, Santokh. I was a little disturbed by the idea that I might be misinterpreted (perhaps that came across :) ). Apologies if I misinterpreted you.

          I won't argue, either, but I do enjoy friendly discussion and debate. Perhaps you'll allow me to mount a small defence of 'the world'? Or, at least, a partial defence. I feel somewhat obliged to, since I'm a component part of the world and so is everyone I love. And, of course, so are you. Speaking for myself, sometimes I forget that.

          I'm sure it's right that some, or even most, of humanity fears some truths. But I do know it's possible for a truthful person to be accepted and appreciated. I once worked with a man who was almost pathologically honest, at the top of his profession, and very much liked and admired - I'm smiling now at the thought of him.

          Of course it would depend on the truths and the social group. I wonder whether a solution to your problem is to emerse yourself a social group which accepts your truths. We may be unique in the world, but it would be surprising to think that there is nobody who is similar and in a similar situation. However, I know this may be a completely impractical idea, or completely off base.

          Whatever the case, I do hope you're able to find a way to be the best and most authentic version of yourself that you can, and still be accepted.
      • Dec 31 2013: Authentic Version !! Ha Ha Ha ... The talk will continue in the New Year . . . :)

        I N T E R M I S S I O N

        Good Bye 2013 and Welcome 2014

        Happy New Year !!
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          Jan 1 2014: :) Touché! Perhaps not precisely what I meant, but then it probably has more of a ring to it than: "I hope you find a way to engage in the set of habitual and non-habitual behaviours which most closely and fully reflects what you consider to be the most positive and essential elements of your mental representations of yourself." (Oh dear. I think studying psychology may have broken my soul....)

          Happy New Year :)
      • Jan 2 2014: :) When I entered this conversation in the beginning, My authentic version was Male Heterosexual , but it seems that your paragraph containing the example of your pathological friend and the paragraphs afterwards and your psychology have transformed me into something I don't know what.

        I am neither unique nor do I want to emerse myself into any social group.

        During the start of the conversation I had no fear, But now I am afraid.

        I have no pathological and technical problem.

        Its been nice to talking to you.It was the most longest talk I had with anyone.

        It seems that you have a strong influence of any one of these numbers (3,4,7,8)
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          Jan 2 2014: I wasn't thinking what I think you thought I was thinking :) My friend was also straight. Sorry to scare you. Glad to hear about the lack of pathological and technical problems. Rather like the positive qualites of 3,4 & 7, so thanks. Not sure 8 is me, though. Apparently 6 is, for name and birth.

          Nice talking to you too. Kia ora :)
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          Jan 2 2014: Santokh,

          I like your blunt type of humor whether its intentional or not. Thanks for your contribution to this conversation. :)
      • Jan 3 2014: :) I thought that we have concluded our talk.But, the revelation of your number brought me again here.Its been over a year since i have been a member at this site, but due to introverted,reserved and shy nature I never had such long talk with anyone.Making friends and talking to them is the most difficult task for me both offline as well as online.

        But , the moment I saw that the talk is moving forward effortlessly. I got suspicious of it , that how come so comfortably I am talking to someone and that curiosity made me to ask you to which number do you belong.

        Now, your revelation has confirmed that it was the magnetic energy of your number which was working behind the scene.

        People belonging to number 6 are very magnetic and they are also beautiful and gorgeous.I am sure that in your teen years you could have stolen the sleep of many guys.Making friends is an effortless thing for you.

        Does Kia ora means - Thank You.
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          Jan 3 2014: Thank you, Santokh! That you feel comfortable talking to me is such a lovely compliment - the best I've had this year :) Perhaps there's a limit to my sixishness, though. Making friends isn't effortless for me - I'm no extrovert, myself. I have a small number of close friends and a quiet, relaxed social life which, these days, suits me well. And I'm not sure about many boys having lost sleep. One did. He's more than enough, 20 years on.

          Kia ora is used to mean a friendly "hello", "thank you", "I agree/support that/appreciate and acknowledge that", perhaps sometimes "goodbye". My Māori language lecturer gave it a literal translation of "It is my desire that you be well". So, I pretty much meant everything except "hello".

          So shyness is your real issue? It's a tough one (I know!) but not insurmountable. I'm reading Philip Zimbardo's book 'The Lucifer Effect' right now (Philip has a talk on TED). He briefly talks about shyness as a self-imposed prison:
          "Any action that calls attention to one's person threatens her or him with potential humiliation, shame, and social rejection and thus must be avoided. In response to that inner guardian, the prisoner-self shrinks back from life, retreats into a shell, and chooses the safety of the silent prison of shyness."

          Does this ring as true to you as it does to me? He suggests shyness is a "social phobia". So, perhaps my suggestion of adapting the treatment for phobias isn't a bad one. Thinking about it, it's helped for me. Sometimes I'll still get a slightly sick feeling if I've called more attention to myself than usual, or in a new way, and I'm not sure how I'm being recieved, but it's not crippling now. And it does still take a bit of courage to write that! :)
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    Dec 19 2013: Eliana, As we are all individuals we each have our demons to contend with and to limit to a top three would not provide the picture you are looking for.

    We all prioritize. There are people in the poorest part of town who drive a fancy expensive car and wear designer cloths ... we know people who opt for a career over love and a family ... we know material people, and we know those who could care less.

    One of the things that set the USA apart was that the "opportunity" to succeed was there regardless of your plight in life ... it took courage, hard work, and a dream. It some time took a generation to arrive at the goal through effort and determination.

    That spirit has given away to a generation of "entitlement" mentality. Who refuse to "work for it" and want what they are entitled to and by the way ... re-distribute the wealth of those who did work for it .... I deserve it.

    It seems like the harder you work the "luckier" you are.

    So I am going to turn your question around and say "What are the traits of the successful".

    This being the equivalent of the question: Is the glass half full or is it half empty.

    Nothing stops us from living life those are just really bad choices and excuses.

    Just my opinion ..... I wish you well. Bob
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      Dec 19 2013: Bob,

      Thanks for your insight. I agree with you, especially on the mindset of entitlement. I have been victim of it in the past. Your comment of "it seems like the harder you work the luckier you are" and your question of "what are the traits of the successful," remind me of the book The Slight Edge. According to the book- what leads to success is being committed to daily disciplines. Its the compound effect of that commitment that leads to success.

      So, based on your answer would you say that for those of us in the States- entitlement may be an issue because we think opportunities are supposed to "come to us" instead of us go after what we want? And that possibly that entitlement leads to excuses we make up or laziness or bad choices?

      Thank you for your contribution sir!!
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        Dec 19 2013: Again my opinion ... entitlements are the absolute thing that could have happened to us. It is a killer to self pride, initiative, self respect, responsibility, morals, ethics, etc ... either directly or indirectly.

        If I tell you that I will provide you and your four illegitimate children with food stamps, WICK, medical care, education, housing, and money for clothing, transportation etc ... which in the real world amount to about $80,000 .... or you could get a job, if lucky, for about $25,000 a year and pay for all of those things. The young girl on the Oprah Show stated this is her life and she plans to have another child out of wedlock soon to increase her income. .... why would she either get married or get a job?

        The administrations view is that you deserve a chunk of the pie ... we will take it from the rich guy and give it to you and continue to reward you for not working and continue to have children out of wedlock for fun and profit .. we have your back.

        Upon arriving in America, the Puritans devised what we call the Puritan Ethic Law .... If you are capable of working and refuse you will not share in the results of others efforts such as food, housing, etc ...

        If I work all year to grow crops, can, store, build a house, chop wood for fires and a cistern for water, make blankets and cloths and another groups parties all summer .... then the government comes in and says you have a lot ... we are placing ten party people in your home for the winter to share your goods until summer when they can go back out weather permitting to party again.
        I ain't happy.

        When welfare is more profitable that working we have killed pride and self respect and invoked a nanny society that will make a big government even larger and will write the death warrant of the country.

        Again just my opinion ... Bob.

        PS; Read what happened to Argentina in 1916. It went from a world leader to the bottom in one year .... compare to the US today.
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          Dec 19 2013: Its the truth, unfortunately. Thanks for sharing Bob. Your opinion is valuable!
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    Jan 16 2014: One thing that stops us from living life is the fear of death. another is the constant nagging at your mind, that tells you that following your dreams will not make you enough money. Another thing that stops us from living is envy. We must be confident in ourselves, in order to know what we really want.
    The fear of death is a big one, but death is beautiful if you really think about it. Death creates life, and once you die your electricity is one with the universe. I would rather live life fulfilling my dream, than to live life, just so I can sustain myself, and one thing that helps me with my confidence is to pretend that I am confident, until I actually am.
    Get out there and fulfill your dreams!
    I like to listen to Allan Watts. He has an interesting point of view. Another source of inspiration is Gandhi
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    Jan 13 2014: No.1 mental barriers 2. Money 3. upbringing
  • Jan 3 2014: Thanks to you also Eliana for starting such a beautiful conversation.:)

    Humors are always blunt.Life is the big humor in itself.Sometimes it makes us to behave like monkey and sometimes it makes us to behave like donkey.:)
  • Jan 2 2014: Money, Funding & Disposable Income...
  • Dec 31 2013: Many good reasons have been given and by survival, I assume priorities always push into the usage of time. I would also ask that we make sure we evaluate the life purposes and talent. I have seen too many people say they deserve the goal because they want it most. Saying nothing about talent, work, personality.

    A colleague's son wanted to be a golf pro. He spent 5 years chasing that dream - the difference between a very good amateur and a pro is very slight but it is there.

    The questions we need to ask ourselves do we have the talent and are we willing to spend the time and effort to get there.
  • Dec 27 2013: No. 1. Mental barriers
    2 Upbringing
    3. Societies response to the right things
  • Dec 25 2013: I wouldn't go about listing all the myriad factors, but I would comment on lack of purpose.

    I've found that the absolute number one reason I haven't pursued my life purpose is that I don't know what it is, assuming there is one at all.
    Being an atheist, its nothing of supernatural origin, and I never was one for ideology. The military made its effort to indoctrinate me to its purposes for a time, but it failed rather miserably in that regard.

    In short, I've achieved no purpose because I don't have one. Setting up something arbitrary I never fully believed in just didn't seem good enough.
  • Dec 24 2013: In the recreational world this is called barriers. Barriers are things that prevent you from achieving self -efficacy.
    Albert Bandura has written many books on this and I have to say as a basis for the recognition of recreation as an important part of our daily lives this theory has helped develop many tools to helping people cross those barriers no matter what they may be - from the mental, to the physical.
    It's quite a fascinating study, just as much as the therapeutic lifestyle changes that need to be made in order to be happy.
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    Dec 23 2013: 1) money
    2) environment/upbringing
    3) work
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    Dec 19 2013: In my opinion, "living life" means just this: living life. Our personal utopias are in our dreams, but if you live your life properly and doing your best, you are just "living your life", because there isn't another one, by the moment.
    The main issues are different for each individual, although most of them are naturally common to all us. Fear, doubt, envy, of course, plus violence, hate, and a very long etcetera.
    Most of us let -like or dislike- issues like those stiffle our purpose. It's normal. Our response must be resilience, a strong and long lasting willing for doing or best, for not bending, not falling. And for remembering that we are what we are because our inner force for surviving. As a friend of mine says: 'At last, the secret is to resist and to have the help of somebody" Friends, family and people of good willing are the best help.
    And good luck, of course! :)
  • Dec 18 2013: Interestingly none of the comments have included...

    What country you born in.

    In fact, I'd go to far to say, you'd never hear this question even raised by children in poverty in the Philippines, nor in India, nor on the continent of Africa.

    So I'd count that as 1), 2) and 3).

    So Eliana, if you were born in one of those places, and in poverty, you'd not even get the luxury of asking the question. Let alone post in on the internet.
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      Dec 18 2013: Steven, that is an excellent question you raise and it definitely adds a different perspective. I was born in the Dominican Republic and was raised in poverty or a long time until I came to the States. I have been fortunate enough to also spend time in Africa working with the poor and you are right, their main question is not "what is my purpose, what am I supposed to do with my life." Their main concern is having basic needs met and being loved.

      Not sure where you were born, but based on your observation...do you think that "strive to live with purpose" ad leave some type of personal legacy in the world is something only seen or thought of by those in the states? Is it a different mentality for those in Europe? What do you think Steven?
      • Dec 18 2013: Eliana, where I was born does not really to me matter any more. To many it's a flag of convenience, to separate as distance oneself from the rest of humanity. ie it's those people over there.

        My life, which I'll be the first to admit was a very good one where I have lived all over the world and stayed long enough to understand the culture of many a people, has left me with the inevitable conclusion, that if those that are better off don't care, we must accept that we are guilty of allowing a whole section of humanity to be slaves for us, that's something I can't or won't accept.

        What people don't realize, specially in the better of countries that, a personal legacy is really not that hard to achieve, I have helped literally hundreds of thousands of people all across the globe, regardless of race or creed or color, to get and education, by using the internet.

        If, I, one solitary man can make that difference to so many without hardly any cost to himself, with the exception of time, and concern for his fellow human beings, and give them without cost, the opportunity of having opportunity, who knows Eliana maybe you wouldn't have had to leave home. And by not doing so, who knows again Eliana you may too have been the catalyst that could have helped others get out of poverty.

        To anyone, who this may strike a chord with, I hope too that you can be the catalyst for change and betterment, and somewhat hopeful thought for you is.....surprisingly it's actually not that hard to do. The internet is a powerful tool and whatever skills you have, know that there are many people who would love a free mentor, even if it was just for one hour a day.

        That was my hope, that was my goal, and with much humility, after receiving many a heartfelt thank you, for many that dream did finally come true.

        And in answer to Eliana is that a different mentality in the us or europe, the answer is no, it's regardless of flags, it's regardless money or recognition - it's what's in your soul.
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      Dec 19 2013: "Interestingly none of the comments have included...What country you born in." Steven, I interpreted the use of the phrase "personal issues" in the question to mean issues which exist over and above situational or environmental issues, like poverty and access to resources. Perhaps most of those who responded did also (although I notice Yoka had thoughts along the same lines as you). Of course, it could be argued that none of us exists independently of our environment, and so it's kind of impossible to draw a line between 'personal' and 'situational'. Just the same, maybe this will give you some hope that people aren't quite as oblivious as it seems to the challenges faced by those in poverty.

      It sounds like you're a person of conscience, compassion and action, a powerful combination. Hats off. And you've made me think about how I personally can have a wider impact, so thanks.
      • Dec 19 2013: Sara I well understand that most people thought about 'personal issues', the question is geared that way, and when you read it, one's natural thought is to think about you.

        As humanity we have to start having a wider vision, viz my take on the question. You see your personal issues are all easily solved, it's just that you might not know the person who can solve them.

        And that's the real catch, we all have the ability to be 'solvers', and that's what I want to encourage people to be, because then we can solve children's poverty / edu, we can solve all the issues that face us, and personal issues you have may well to be solved.

        You have to start somewhere, do what you can, as I said a little effort -really- can go a long way to people's who have so little. Also don't expect that just because your helping that other will immediately help you. Your doing it, not necessarily for immediate gratification, but as part as a long term plan of up upliftment of the whole of humanity.

        It's only too apparent that politicians, multinationals, the un etc, have not solved these problems, so if everyone helps maybe we just don't need them. Maybe we never did. Maybe we just devolved our responsibility.

        When I started by education plan, some didn't want me to be involved in certain countries, but how can one differentiate honestly with ones-self to people who need help. I realized that if you do selectively help on race, color, religion, you're only be co-oped in to the system we have now - the one that for many isn't working.

        Your profile Sara, a student of linguistics and psychology, I'm sure that there are many people who would love to be helped with linguistics, but just can't afford it.

        Even in a far away place like New Zealand, (one place I must still visit) the internet expands your reach. I would encourage you to create a web site, where people can be mentored by you, and what your now learning, if only for 1 hour a day. It WILL make a HUGE difference.

        All the best
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          Dec 19 2013: You're right, of course, but you're preaching to the choir! :) Given that so many TED speakers are people trying to 'make the world a better place', I suspect a huge proportion of people in these conversations are doing the same, but perhaps on a smaller scale. Thanks for the encouragement, though, and the internet idea. It's a good one. But perhaps I'm getting off topic....
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    Dec 18 2013: What stops us from "living life?"
    Depends on how "living life" is defined. What does it mean to live life?, is there a predefined happiness level we need to achieve?, certain level of success we need to achieve?. I feel that "living life" is a vague term. A miserable unsuccessful unhappy person is technically someone who is living life. This is a subjective question and I think the answer is unique for every individual.
    What are the main issues in life? Is it fear? doubt? low self esteem? envy?
    Yet another subjective question. Doubt, low self esteem and envy are all tied to fear. Fear is the root cause of doubt,envy and low self esteem. And I don't really see them as necessarily bad. Fear is an important guiding agent that defines our limits and prepares us to overcome obstacles.
    Some people let issues stifle their purpose either because they are not strong enough or because they don't have the adequate knowledge or resources that is required to overcome obstacles.
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    Dec 18 2013: well, I don't really know anyone who hasn't pursued their life purpose and developed their talents. Do you know people like this? Are you yourself like this? Can you tell me the story of people who haven't done these activities?
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      Dec 19 2013: Here's a story that still puzzles me, more than ten years after the event. Maybe you'll be able to make sense of it, Greg.

      While living in the UK, a couple of colleagues asked the usual question: "What made you move here?" I answered more seriously than usual, explaining that at 20 years old I found myself married, with a mortgage and a low-paying job and a hum-drum existence which I could see stretching out, unchanging, into my future until I had kids (which we couldn't have afforded), retired or died. The thought depressed me, so I wrote a bucket list and dragged my almost-willing husband off to England.

      The response amazed me. My colleague said, "You can't run away from your problems, Sara. Look at Karl and I. We're miserable but we still live here and stick it out." I wish I'd probed a bit and tried to figure out where that thinking came from - that it's somehow virtuous to live an unhappy life and cowardly to seek to change it - but I was so astounded I didn't know where to begin.
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        Dec 19 2013: Well, what were your motives for moving to England? Was it because you thought things would change, that in England you would do away with your mortgage, have a high-paying job, and an exciting existence? Why would that be? Or did you think that in England you still would have a low-paying job, but life would be exciting and interesting because you were in a new environment? Your friends might have thought you believed the former, that every aspect of life would change for the better because of the move; but maybe in truth your feelings were more modest, that you didn't expect everything to change but only that you would enjoy a new place?
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          Dec 19 2013: Maybe you're right! That hadn't crossed my mind at all. I went to England with neither the expectation nor the realisation of a high-paying job. I went because I wanted to feel I was living a life and getting the most I could out of it (through novel experiences and other things), rather than just enduring one. And it worked. But I probably didn't make that clear to them.

          Perhaps your response leads to another answer to Eliana's question. Maybe some just have a different concept of what a life should be and so they feel, if they've paid off the mortgage and raised a couple of kids, they've achieved their 'life purpose' (not that these are small feats), and fully developing their other talents would be redundant. Or perhaps they feel that if they've lived in such a way that's maximised their own and/or others' happiness, they've reached their potential (in essence, my own current philosophy). So, although they may not seem it, they're actually really successful.
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        Dec 19 2013: Before England, you were living in New Zealand? What was different about England from N.Z.? Besides the novel experiences, what were the "other things" you were hoping to get out of life?

        Well, Sara, I don't know if there are people who don't develop their talents, most of the people I know go for it. Don't forget how it is that people pay off the mortgage, it is through work, I would think that many people find fulfillment through their work, they may not rise to the highest position but in work they are utilizing and developing their talents. In paying off the mortgage and raising children they are expressing themselves still more. And many of those people have hobbies, avocations, where they develop themselves still more. It somewhat sounds like you didn't value the work much you did, or are still doing, it is only a means to pay bills and mortgages? What do you do?

        How have you maximized your own or others' happiness?

        I think it's possible that your colleagues in Britain who said they were miserable, if you delved into their lives were not so unhappy as all that, it may have been a bit of drama.

        I do notice that the parks and recreation department in my town, in conjunction with different schools and teachers, offers many kinds of enrichment courses to take where one can explore different interests and aims, and they keep offering it every half-year, year after year, so someone must be taking the courses.

        By the way, thanks for your sharing on the other question about interesting places in the world. I apologize for not answering but it was at the "third level" of response (the three "bullets" on the left side) where there is no way for the other to reply. Had you wanted to chat about that one, I would enjoy.
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          Dec 20 2013: Some fairly big questions for 2000 characters! I'm afraid this sounds a bit like an 'all about Sara' thread, but since you asked, and since most people's favourite topic is themselves.... :)

          Yes, I was living in NZ before England - I was born here. Two differences I loved: the accessibility of Europe - travel from NZ is costly; and the tangible heritage - Roman ruins, castles, old cities, neolithic stone circles etc. I enjoyed the stories inherent in my surroundings, and the stories my surroundings inspired.

          At 20, I wanted to learn, to appreciate the world, to help people, to have some adventure, maybe to store up memories for when I'm in the rest home, and, embarrassingly, I think I wanted to check off a few things that my culture says signifies a life lived to the full. I think the first three things continue to lead me to some of the decisions and mindsets that promote my happiness. Now, I've finally made it to university with the aim, eventually, of becoming a speech-language therapist. I do a bit of paid and voluntary work teaching English to migrants, and other paid and voluntary work when I'm able. I'm learning fascinating things, helping people, and building towards helping people for a career. These things give me huge satisfaction and help make me feel like I'm reaching my potential daily, and will continue to do so in the future.

          Before I left New Zealand I was an administrator. I wouldn't say I didn't value the work, exactly - I worked hard and cared about the organisation - but it had stopped challenging and teaching me so, you're right, I didn't enjoy it. The job in the UK with Karl and Tess was data entry - less challenging still.

          Back to topic, the paradoxical thing is this: after about a year, I felt like data entry was all I was capable of. Others in similar situations have told me they found the same thing. I know some find work fulfilling - I do now, too - but it can also diminish us. It's so tied to identity.

          So what do you do?
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          Dec 20 2013: Btw, Greg, your post has started me thinking about ways I can promote the happiness of those around me in day-to-day actions - something I haven't really considered much in the past. So, thanks - you might be doing some good on the other side of the Pacific!

          And, yes, I'd like to know your thoughts on the travel thing - whether you've travelled outside of LA and Ontario and, if so, how you'd answer the questions you asked. Would replying again to Nthabiseng's post work? Would that be a breach of etiquette.?
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        Dec 20 2013: Thanks for sharing about your life with me, Sara, it's really quite lovely to hear about it. So are we upholding or negating Eliana's original premise, that loads of people are unfulfilled? Because apparently at one time you did like being an administrator, and then, when you ceased to like it, you took steps to look again for something contenting? And apparently have found it, more than once?

        I think it's possible that people do things for a while that they hate, but find a way to move on. I don't hear that much about people who have been miserable their whole lives.

        I also think it's possible that things might look better in hindsight. I too had a data entry job I disliked where I was inputting forms about child abuse at a social services agency. But if I look back on it now, it was rather interesting to read the stories on these forms as I inputted them, it gave me a bit of look at the world.

        Apparently the strategy of moving to England worked? Excellent. I'm curious, is there any ancient heritage in New Zealand? We certainly hear about the aborigines of Australia, who no doubt have their lore and interest. But that ancient heritage would not have held sufficient interest for you?

        I think I know what a speech therapist is, but is a speech-language therapist different? What is it you find interesting in the job? My brother has worked for a long time in the disabled communications field, designing communications equipment for severely handicapped people. His most famous client has been Stephen Hawking.

        Well, I can see the value in travel. It is interesting to see other places. Sometimes I want to encourage people to look more into where they are living, peel away the layers of the onion, so to speak, and find new depths and interest. Do you think you are easily bored? How might you account for that?

        Currently I only work for my mother, who is.......
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        Dec 20 2013: a big businesswoman here in Glendale, California. My parents started with very little, worked very hard, and owned and managed many apartment buildings. Then my dad died young leaving my mom with quite a bit of responsibility.

        I have done many jobs in my life, the most interesting was maybe TV and motion picture extra (Glendale is about five miles from Hollywood, California.) As life went on, I decided that the most positive, interesting, healthy and wholesome life would probably be dairy farming. I'm more interested in a self-sufficient lifestyle where you only raise food for yourself, as opposed to scads of milk and beef that you then sell. But I would be willing to move somewhere and work in someone else's big dairy, except where I live I am near my family, mother, sister, brother, sister-in-law, and niece, and I like that. I think it would be interesting to see if I could dairy here, I live in a suburb of Los Angeles where in theory there is no agriculture but perhaps I could get a waiver from the city government?, but the other problem is I don't have a spouse. I really think it's very hard to dairy alone, you somewhat need a partner, if for no other reason than to guard the animals from rustlers when you have to go away for some reason.

        But one thing is I'm trying to interest lots of people in my unusual diet. About five years ago, I was having some eye discomfort, and the eye doctors weren't doing that well in solving it. So I shifted to living almost entirely on skim milk, for the last five years, 365 days a year, I have been drinking almost two gallons a day, or nine liters, of skim milk, and really hardly eating or drinking anything else. It helped my eye discomfort, and I believe that for the same reasons it helped my problems it would help others with other problems, such as cancer, AIDS, and so on. I have been corresponding with NIH, the National............
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        Dec 20 2013: Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Maryland, for quite a while, asking them to put it to research tests, and they are considering it (NIH is the largest government health research center in the U.S.) I don't know that healthy people would be very motivated to turn to this diet as it is quite extreme, but if you were sick and living on skim milk made you feel better, you would be quite motivated to do it, wouldn't you? Wouldn't it be thrilling if it really did help people with serious diseases like cancer?
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          Dec 23 2013: And thank you!

          "So are we upholding or negating Eliana's original premise.... I don't hear that much about people who have been miserable their whole lives." I think you're right that most people - at least those with sufficient health, resources, personal safety etc - don't live their lives in misery, apart from the chronically depressed. I'm sure I've heard/read that we have a sort of natural baseline of happiness that we usually return to after extreme events - although there seems to be lots of research about ways to increase that baseline, and there are no doubt ways it's reduced. However, I don't think that not being miserable is quite the same thing as being fulfilled or developing one's talents; and I guess I don't think that fully developing one's talents and pursuing one's 'purpose' is a complete recipe for fulfilment, either (so, perhaps some of my posts haven't been quite to the point).

          I do know, and have known, a number of people with talents and passions they've only partially developed, including my husband. It frustrated me for a while that he had this passion which, to my mind, he wasn't making the most of. He could have done a degree, got a research job, made some real contributions in an under-researched area and reached his potential. It took me a while to realize he IS reaching his potential in the path he is taking as a hobbyist, forum contributor, member of clubs and, now, a volunteer. He's maximising his happiness. Formal study might confine his learning and take the wonder away from discovery. Turning his passion into a job might sap his joy. That's what led me to the 'maximising happiness is fulfilling potential' idea. So, yes, I still agree with Eliana's premise, but I think not fully developing talents isn't always a negative thing.

          Unfortunately, I don't think everyone maximises their happiness. Necessity forced me to leave the data entry job. If it weren't for that, perhaps I'd still be there, believing I could do no better.
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          Dec 23 2013: (mostly off topic)

          “I also think it's possible that things might look better in hindsight.” Absolutely, or so my studies tell me. Especially when we are happy in the present. We don't tend to have such a good memory for bad things. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. When we're unhappy, it's difficult to remember the happy times.

          “Apparently the strategy of moving to England worked?” Yes – for the specific problem of feeling I was wasting the gift of my life. Other things on that bucket list helped, too e.g. learning a language, working in an orphanage (I didn't actually do that – I downgraded to volunteering in a foreign aid charity shop – but it still made a difference to my life and hopefully others).

          “is there any ancient heritage in New Zealand? ….” Yes, but little, if anything, in the way of built heritage prior to the 1800s beyond some earthworks, which usually take some squinting and imagination to make out with the untrained eye. The indigenous people of NZ are the Māori, who are as distinct from Australian Aborigines as I am, with my European ancestry. They arrived relatively recently (about 1000 years ago give or take a century or two). They generally didn't build in very durable materials. “Sometimes I want to encourage people to look more into where they are living...” I completely agree, and we spent our honeymoon touring the South Island of NZ for that very reason – to see NZ before other places. One of the wonderful things that being abroad often teaches, however, is the foibles and things of value in one's own country that we might otherwise miss. It was through reflecting on Europe's tangible heritage I saw that NZ might not have much built heritage, but we have living heritage that has been preserved by Māori, and that's really special and beautiful. The most famous example is the haka – the pre-match dance performed by the NZ rugby team.
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          Dec 23 2013: Speech-language therapy – I think 'language' acknowledges it's not always about the mechanics of articulation, but sometimes neurological e.g. autism. I'm still pretty ignorant. Right now I'm doing a BA in psychology and linguistics. In 2015 I'll begin a Masters in SLT. At first it just seemed a logical career choice given my majors, but then I realised how important speech is to all sorts of success – not only financial, but also social success and psychological well-being. Huge respect for your brother.

          Easily bored? No, I don't think so. I want challenge and purpose and meaning, like most people, but I'm also fond of saying I was born to be idle. It's too easy for me to spend most the day just lost in thought.

          It sounds like you're rightfully proud of your mother. My aunt and her kids went through a similar thing to your family, so I can appreciate the sort of strength it must have taken for her to keep things going, especially early on. The world doesn't stop just because the world turns upside-down. I'm sorry you and your family went through that.

          I imagine it would be deeply satisfying working in the business your dad helped build.

          “I really think it's very hard to dairy alone” You can't say that in a conversation like this! :) My thoughts: if it's within your reach and local govt permits, get support from neighbours, make a plan, do the research, devise an exit strategy in case it doesn't work out, and go for it. I know that's presumptuous, especially given how little I know of your circumstances, but it seems like not trying could be a 'deathbed regret' for you (yes, a bit morbid).

          You're right – your milk diet is pretty extreme but of course would be worth it. It seems medical science is taking food more and more seriously. How do you deal with the way food is so much a part of how we socialise? Having a beer with mates, holiday feasts, summer bbqs, inviting new friends over for dinner .... I assume all this stuff is the same in the US as NZ?
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        Dec 25 2013: thanks, Sara. Well, I believe now I misread Eliana's conversation, I thought she was saying most people didn't develop their talents or pursue their purpose. I see now she only said some, that makes me feel better since I would be quite depressed to think that most don't.

        If developing one's talents and pursuing one's purpose isn't a complete recipe for fulfillment, what is?

        Now I'm somewhat thinking that when we find ourselves in a less than optimal position, there might be something going on in our subconscious that has put us there for a good reason. For example, you worked doing data entry that you disliked. Perhaps there was some person you were supposed to meet on that job, some experience you were supposed to have, that made it worth it.

        Yeah, when I say peel away the onion layers, I'm thinking it doesn't even have to start out as exotic, like there can be something around you that appears very mundane, but if you will delve into it you will find it has very interesting depths. For me, I learn a lot about my environment when I try to make it better. For example, I have had a lot of complaints about noise from the supermarket loading dock across the street from me at 5AM. As I've attempted to reduce this noise by talking to the supermarket staff and the staff of the trucking companies that come and deliver the food, I've learned quite a bit about merchandising and merchandise transportation that has made my immediate environment more interesting.

        Yeah, I wouldn't be thrilled about my brother's job or working with autistic people. I've occasionally said to my brother that I wished he'd get out of the line, it seems like a leper colony, someone has to do it but I wish it wasn't him, or you.

        Well, it's a case where I'm not totally driven to produce my own milk, I'm quite happy to buy but if I got a wife it would be much more doable to produce my own. It seems like you like the idea of living on milk can you say why since some don't?
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          Dec 27 2013: "If developing one's talents and pursuing one's purpose isn't a complete recipe for fulfillment, what is?" I think having good relationships is pretty crucial, like those you seem to have with your family. I'm sure I've read/heard through my psych classes good social networks are a predictor of happiness in old age. I also think much can be learned from Buddhism. The Dalai Lama's(/Howard Cutler's) book 'The Art of Happiness' talks a lot about the Buddhist principles of compassion and loving-kindness. I think it must be hard for hostile people to feel fulfilled - satisfied, perhaps, but that's different. And perhaps we also need the feeling that we're contributing to something bigger or beyond ourselves, or creating a legacy, which may or may not involve pursuing our purpose. What are your thoughts?

          "Perhaps there was some person you were supposed to meet..." Mmm, perhaps. I'm not convinced by 'supposed to', but I do think every stage of my life has taught me something important. In this case, worth the cost, but I'm not sure about all cases. It's a nice idea, though, and I like your optimism.

          Onion layers - ok, I get that now, I think. It's a valuable point, and food for thought.

          Is your brother happy in his work? It must be distressing at times, but I think of Eliana's comment that she's energised through helping those who confide in her, and Joan Halifax's talk, in which she says compassion enlivens rather than drains. However, I know not everyone has the same experience, and it is something that concerns me. I plan to work in schools rather than hospitals, because I think working with kids will require less emotional resilience. And not all cases will be difficult to handle. I'm touched by your concern, though.

          Yeah, wives are great! :) Sometimes it does seem life is geared towards microtribes.

          It's less that I like the idea of living on milk, and more that I don't like the idea of living with avoidable suffering and I try to be open to new ideas.
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        Dec 27 2013: well, I was thinking of purpose in a larger sense, like part of your purpose would be to have loving relationships. Also thinking that when someone truly discovers his or her purpose, the purpose would be benign. It's hard to believe that Adolf Hitler discovered his purpose, for example, one would tend to think he didn't find his purpose but went off on a side road?

        Well, if you agree that every stage of your life has taught you something important, isn't that pretty close to saying that you were "supposed to" experience all those stages?

        Yeah, another way to explore your environment deeper is to be willing to ask an unusual question, I think people are sometimes afraid to ask an unusual question. And to do things that you are scared to do, that challenge you. In my case, for example, here in the states we have something called talk radio where you have a host and often guests talking on the air, and the public can call in from home and talk on the air with the guests and host. I've often called in and gotten on the air although it's difficult for me because I know from experience that things move quickly on the air and one can get tongue-tied in front of many thousands of people. Do you have any things that challenge you, Sara, what are they, do you go ahead and do them anyway?

        How does that job work, Sara, are you only with autistic people? People with a mental flaw like that give me the heebie-jeebies. And people with a physical defect where they are really out of control and drooling and such do, too, if it's due to a sickness and not old age. You say I'm wrong?

        Well, if it's the milk that's helping you avoid the suffering, then you are saying you like the idea of living on milk, aren't you?
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          Dec 28 2013: "I was thinking of purpose in a larger sense" Good point - there could be many different interpretations of 'purpose'. I guess I have two main ones, both stemming from a leaving card message: "May you find the path that leads to the highest and truest of yourself". One interpretation is the goal at the end of the path; the other the path itself.

          "supposed to" - again, perhaps. Jury's out on things like prophetic subconsciouses and fate. I'm a fairly reflective, self-evaluative sort of person who looks for life lessons, so maybe learning from any situation is natural for me, or maybe it's just human - an adaptive evolutionary trait. But then maybe not. I sort of like the idea that some force draws people together and nudges us along in life, but I prefer the idea of free will.

          "unusual questions" - agree. Mine tend to be about social norms etc, although I'd probably get more from them if I looked harder for answers.

          What challenges me? Answering questions which call for openness and therefore vulnerability. Do I do it anyway? Judge for yourself :) Not as challenging these days, though.

          SLT involves all sorts of speech difficulties, including things like stuttering.

          I don't think it'd be reasonable to say you're wrong to get the 'heebie-jeebies'. What you feel is what you feel. It would be different if it manifested in cruelty, but I don't think that's you. Luckily I feel differently. I'm conscious the only things making me and my loved ones different to 'them' is chance, perhaps time, and perhaps distance along a spectrum. And I care (I don't mean to imply that you don't). I think I might even feel an affinity with people with Aspergers and mild autism. Perhaps, if you were inclined and haven't already done so, you could try to counter your 'heebie-jeebies' with research into the conditions that creep you out, and learn more about individuals living with them e.g. Temple Grandin's TED Talk is good, and I enjoyed reading John Elder Robison's memoir.
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        Dec 28 2013: what unusual questions do you have about social norms, Sara?

        I was just looking for information on the Masai attitude toward mentally retarded. I'm a big fan of the Masai tribe of Kenya, in fact consider myself Masai in spite of being a white American. It is where I got the idea of living on milk. The Masai live in dung huts on the wilder places of Kenya. Should a Masai woman give birth to a mentally retarded baby, my understanding is she will put it out on the plains at night for the wild local lions to kill and eat. I have also read ancient Romans killed mentally retarded babies. This totally works for me, I believe retards take a lot of resources and give little back. I don't know if autism and Asperger babies would get the same treatment, I would guess it's pretty likely but I will look around. I suppose we can feel empathetic towards babies who get this treatment, it's really nobody's fault that something just went wrong during the creation of these babies, but still, on a practical basis we don't want them. Do anything for you? I see Grandin is herself autistic, no, I don't want to watch her, heebie jeebies.
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          Dec 30 2013: Intriguing response.

          Social norms - one of the latest questions is, "What makes strawberry-flavoured cider a 'girly drink'?" and strings of emerging questions.

          It strikes me that disabled communications is probably not a field one just falls into, so I'm guessing your brother has very different views to you. What do you think is behind that? If it's not too painful a question, do you have personal experience of people with these sorts of conditions?

          "Should a Masai woman give birth to a mentally retarded baby..." Wiki says "A high infant mortality rate among the Maasai has led to babies not truly being recognized until they reach an age of 3 moons". If that's true, it makes it easier for me to understand how they could allow their babies to be killed. Is this a belief you share - that babies shouldn't really be recognised until they're 3 mths old?

          "I have also read ancient Romans killed mentally retarded babies". Yes, I've heard that, too. But, then, I've also heard that watching people being torn apart by animals was popular entertainment, so I'm not too sure about the ancient Roman model of society. Wouldn't you agree?

          "I don't know if autism and Asperger babies would get the same treatment" Maybe not, since it might be the toddler years before a disorder is even recognised. In fact, I've heard of autistic children developing normally, acquiring language and everything, then, seemingly overnight, losing their language and being diagnosed autistic. I don't mean to be cruel but, if something like that had happened to your neice, would you have let her be left on the plains?

          "This totally works for me...." Do you have the same views about other 'unproductive' members of society? If so, where do you draw the line?

          A point I would make - Temple Grandin has made greater contributions to society than I probably ever will. I'm a bit surprised, Greg, given your enquiring mind, that you wouldn't be interested in the inside story, despite your heebie-jeebies.
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        Dec 30 2013: it's a bit hard for me to answer questions about alcohol as I never drink any, I do live on milk. I would imagine that milder flavored drinks are "girlie," possibly also with less alcohol?

        I would say my brother did somewhat fall into it, he became friends at church with Walt Woltocz (not sure that's the right spelling) who had a company called Words Plus that created these devices, and eventually came to work for Walt, eventually rising to second-in-command. He says he likes it because (well, actually Words Plus has been sold and my brother has left so I should say he liked it in the past tense) he thought he could make a strong difference in some lives with this particular work, it's not like making one meal for a person, for example, where you only help the person that one time. I myself recall working for a fellow with cerebral palsy, doing his housekeeping and such for a month or two, but it might be hard for me to do that all the time. But he was sharp-minded and interesting to talk to.

        I don't know about the 3 moons, we don't have a high mortality rate here. Do you have children, Sara? Is a person on edge for a while seeing if the baby's going to make it even in a modern environment?

        Well, one can take one thing from the Romans one likes and discard what one doesn't believe.

        Well, if autism isn't recognized til later maybe Masai wouldn't put on plains. I would say I'm quite uncomfortable with a serious mental defect such as retardation, because such a person is so very unproductive, even people like my friend with CP could still contribute cogent thoughts. And then he didn't get it til later in life, I can't see killing unproductive adults, I was talking about mentally retarded babies. From everything I know about autism yes I would have put my niece on the plains, even if an autistic lives a somewhat normal life aren't you always tense waiting for them to do something weird?
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          Jan 1 2014: "it's a bit hard for me to answer...I do live on milk" Yeah, I get that :) Such drinks may or may not differ in flavour intensity or alcohol content. I like the question because it leads to so many other idle musings. Is it culturally or biologically based? Or even linguistically? Thinking of the usual sweetness of strawberry flavour, and the semantically different but psychologically linked meanings of 'sweet': a sweet apple; a sweet girl. Is it linked to colour (pink for girls)? Interesting that we should assign gender to things like flavour and scent. Do roses (rose-pink) smell more feminine than, say, bluish lavender? Why are floral scents feminine, anyway, and flowers generally? Especially when the stereotypical image of a professional gardener is a male. How long has it been this way? Many other streams of thought, too. As I said, probably more useful if I looked or thought harder for answers, but it's entertaining nonetheless.

          No children. I have a very demanding cat, but they tell me that's not the same. Similar to you, I have a nephew nearby. He's a big part of my life.

          My observations - I'm not sure about 'on edge', but new mums (AKA moms) sometimes seem (sensibly) hyper-alert for problems with their babies, although sometimes don't want to be seen as the panicky first-time mum, so suppress their concerns. Not always for the best. Emotional engagement of my mum friends has been high from the outset (this sounds colder than I mean). A friend told me after her son was born "I've never felt so much love". So, if 'on edge', not detached.

          I know a number of people with whom I'm always tense, waiting for them to do something weird. They haven't been diagnosed with anything, though. I'm pretty unphased by conventionally understood 'weirdness' e.g. I'll take 'autism weird' or 'tinfoil hat weird' over 'racism weird' any day. I'm often atypical myself.

          BTW (I mean this kindly) you do realise you're no poster child for 'normal', don't you, Greg? :)
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        Jan 1 2014: well, in general are women more physically delicate than men? I mean, I believe a woman can do anything she wants, she can be a weightlifter, a garbage collector, play football, but still, mostly men get these kinds of jobs, and it's probably true that a woman couldn't for example play in the National Football League, she'd probably get hammered by the guys? So they may prefer the more delicate scents and colors? I could see the scents being associated with what guys and girls do, for example guys might like the scent of the sea because they go to sea as sailors, whereas women like roses because they stay home and tend the rose garden.

        Well, there's something different for me when someone does something weird but it's not due to a brain defect, at least they probably have some sort of rationale for it, and with discussion they could change their thinking. But when it's due to a brain defect it seems like you can't be sure they would change because they are a victim of their defect, no matter how much you point out a better way of thinking they might not be able to get it. And even if they do change, you're never sure if they really grasped the reason for changing or just changed in a rote, mechanical way because you told them to.

        Well, are you saying I'm weird, I hope you're not, because usually when we describe someone as weird, we mean it pejoratively, like they're at least somewhat bad in what they do. I would think there's a pretty wide range of normal and I fall somewhere on that range, but since I like exotic ideas and practices, I'm probably on the more exotic side of normal?

        In what ways are you atypical, Sara? Is it possible that you could apply a more flattering word, like "exotic"?
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          Jan 3 2014: 'delicate', gender habits/nostaligia etc - perhaps. Some for the mix.

          '...some sort of rationale...could change their thinking.' It's really, really scary how irrational we all are. The more I study, the more I think that what makes us human is not our ability to be rational, but our propensity to be irrational and not see it. Thankfully, as humans we have some magnificent redeeming qualities as well. However, I'll take your comment as encouragement :) And, so.....

          Atypical neurological development may lead to highly visible, seemingly strange behaviours, but have you ever considered how bizarre laughter is? A sort of undignified vocal convulsion, sometimes involuntary. But it's great - it releases stress. It helps us find a balance between our outer and inner worlds. So what's the difference between laughing, and, say, spinning? In my view, it's just this: popularity.

          Despite the previous post, I don't really like the word 'weird' applied to people and, no, I'm not applying it to you. 'Weird' to me is a very divurgent sort of word. It emphasises difference, ignores commonality, and sort of erects a mental barrier to understanding. It's not exactly the road to peace, love and harmony. What I was trying to hint at is difference isn't inherently bad, no more so in those who are neurologically atypical than in you. And, perhaps it's only fair that the willingness to try to understand one sort of difference should be applied to all sorts of difference, especially if we hope for others to understand and accept our own difference.

          Exotic - not me. It implies all sorts of things I'm not. I like atypical - it's value-neutral in my mind. However, a rose by any other name....
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        Jan 3 2014: thanks, Sara. Well, have you said why you think some drinks, or scents, are considered "feminine," since you've been thinking about it a while perhaps you have some insight?

        Well, people can be irrational, but there's really a difference for me when it's a choice and there's a possibility of making a better choice, versus when it's due to a brain defect and there's no real possibility of substantial improvement.

        I don't think of laughter as bizarre, but spinning when it's due to a brain defect bothers me. However, spinning when not due to a brain defect is okay, for example I've always been fascinated in the back of my mind with the "whirling dervishes" of Arabia, I think these are people who would just spin and spin in their dance, it would change their perceptions?

        "Atypical" I think might not be as value-neutral as you think, some people might hear it as "weird," might think you're calling yourself weird. What do you do that is atypical, but there might be words that are more pro-active to describe it?
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          Jan 4 2014: "... perhaps you have some insight?" My thoughts have moved on a bit now to other entertainments. But I think it's mostly cultural, given how differently we interpret appearance as masculine or feminine across time and space. Maybe it's derived from things like literature and historical roles - not gender roles alone, perhaps, but interlinked with differences between e.g. wealthy, sedantry elite and hard-working peasantry. I have no firm opinions.

          "...there's no real possibility of substantial improvement" Oh, don't say that! You'll make me feel redundant before I even start working :)

          The whirling dervishes - the dancing is part of a religious practice, isn't it? Makes sense - spinning is pretty euphoric. We know it as little kids, but as teens and adults we're too"dignified". We might sneak it into life in the form of dancing or theme park rides. Wonder whether it would be a good form of therapy? Perhaps we should all inject some occasional spinning into our lives - mass sessions like people who do tai chi in parks. It makes me think that spinning is perhaps not a direct result of autism, but a reasonable tool - just an alternative to crying or laughing or writing emotions in a journal.

          Still like 'atypical'. I know that it may not be value-neutral for others. I don't really mind. Those who know me don't need labels for me. Those who want to know me will create their own labels. And the rest - why would they or I care? Getting back to Eliana's topic, I'm sure caring too much about social approval is an answer.

          I've enjoyed chatting, but would it be a good idea for us to delete most our off-topic (or very tenuously on-topic) comments?
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        Jan 5 2014: well, I don't get the comments about social class? I would think it's true for both lower-class and higher-class men and women that the women are more inclined, for example, to wear a flowery-smelling perfume than the men, or to sip a "girly" drink?

        Well, you might be able to improve their practical actions, and even improve their thinking, but there is a hump you can never get over, which is the physical defect, it will always rear its head somewhere and have them doing goofy thinking or actions somewhere. At least that's my impression from the outside, Sara, I have not worked with these people. Really, you know your own life best, if this is the area that you feel, then we support.

        If you're looking for meaningful work, can I sell you and your husband on getting into dairy farming in some capacity? That seems like it would be a challenging, gratifying job, outdoors, close to nature, lots of delicious, healthy raw milk and beef around. Actually I have a vision of a better world where there wouldn't be such a variety of jobs, where everyone would be dairy farming.

        Yeah, I have nothing against people spinning if it's a choice and not a brain defect. Personally I find getting dizzy unpleasant, thus I've never understood the whirling dervishes?

        So what "atypical" things do you do?

        I wouldn't think any of this is off-topic, but even if it were, it seems quite great when an initial conversation becomes a springboard to other good conversation?
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          Jan 7 2014: 'social class' - Mmm, I didn't really explain that, did I? I was thinking about wine and beer/cider, wine being probably more of a 'girlie' drink, and beer/cider masculine. Why? Perhaps it has something to do with the price of wine for my cultural predecessors. The UK isn't known for its prolific vinyards. Beer and cider would have been much more accessible by the masses. This is where it gets tenuous: perhaps beer would have been considered more masculine because the drinkers were engaged in more 'manly' activities, and wine the opposite, because drinkers swanned around in their pretty clothes doing little physical work. And I do think there are probably class differences in what is gender appropriate. Differences in beer/wine perception is probably one of them.

          "... then we support." Thanks :) Wasn't at all serious, though - I'm in no way deterred, and I do believe in the possibility - even likelihood - of substantial improvement. Have you seen Aditi Shankardass's talk, by the way? Shouldn't be any problem with heebie-jeebies. Would be interested to know if it impacts your views.

          'dairy farming' Not a snowball's. No offence to your dream. Even if the cost weren't prohibitive, 5a.m. milkings are enough to put me off. There are a number of other things that I can't say I'd love about the job, either.

          'atypical' Persistent :) Well, there's one thing you know about - I'm a mature student, or adult learner, or whatever they call us now. There's a few of us among the psych majors at uni, but only one other I know of among linguistics majors. That is, amongst the undergrads. But perhaps not the sort of thing you meant? So, then, confession of the day: I dance to supermarket music when I think nobody is looking. What do you think - should have been left on the plains? :)

          'off-topic' I'll defer to you, since I haven't been around long enough to really pick up forum etiquette. Others can flag for deletion if they wish.
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        Jan 7 2014: thanks, Sara. Well, I hadn't thought the question was about which class considers certain drinks "girly," I thought the question was when people do consider a certain drink girly, why do they? I would still think it has to do with women being more physically delicate and thus preferring a lighter taste. When it comes to prohibitive cost, I would think the way to approach dairy farming would be to first work as a milker on someone else's farm (and, who knows, maybe do that the rest of one's career.) That way the cost wouldn't be prohibitive? As I say, I think it's quite interesting, dealing with the interesting creatures that cows are, providing food for the community (and delicious food at that), being close to nature. Not sure what's wrong with 5 AM, it seems like most people are active 16 hours, and sleep eight, it doesn't matter what time they rise, they'll still get their 16 hours of activity.

        Yes, I dance everywhere, I dance in line at the supermarket, on the corner waiting for the light to turn green, in bed before I go to sleep. I really don't mind people seeing it, it's great exercise and adds variety to my day.

        I would say this conversation is completely on-topic, I mean the topic was why people develop their talents and that is what we've been talking about, our goals and how we would like to achieve them. But even if it were off-topic, I think it's fine as long as it's good ideas, if we were talking at the dinner table we wouldn't have to stick to one topic, the initial topic would become a springboard for the joy of communication?
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          Jan 8 2014: Of course, but if there are differences across classes, doesn't that offer a way of looking into the question? It would suggest, for a start, that the answer isn't purely biological, but probably cultural. I'm not convinced about the 'delicate' argument (some girly drinks/scents/colours are overpowering), or even that women actually do prefer the things labelled as feminine. Example: I might not like the idea of being a dairy farmer, but I do love the smells of a dairy farm, even the effluent. Not particularly feminine, but it smells like home. I prefer your suggestion that it has something to do with traditionally disparate activites of men and women, and perhaps this is handed down through culture. Maybe a different angle for the origin is something like the connection between the smell of the sea and the presence of men, and the smell of the garden and the presence of women. Psychological theory probably would support that, too (e.g smells priming us to bring to mind certain thoughts).

          Yes, I suppose this could be linked back to the topic, too. Thoughts about culturally defined gender (or other) expectations and how they affect our perceptions and decisions as individuals. Not just limited to women, either - in fact, I think in NZ men have to be braver than women to go against those expectations. I think of a guy friend who once told me about the flak he gets for being a stay-at-home dad while his wife works.
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        Jan 9 2014: thanks, Sara. Well, since I don't drink, and really don't know people who drink a lot, it's a little difficult for me to comment. I could sort of imagine that a woman of a lower class would drink beer, whereas one of a higher class would drink wine? But they might both avoid shots of whiskey because it's a stronger drink, it's not as delicate? And they might sip the beer and wine, they might not slam it back as hard as a man? I would say a floral scent suggests flowers, which are very delicate as plants go (and also pretty, and women value beauty.) Also, the work one does in a flower garden is probably a little lighter, or can be a little lighter, than the work one does in a ship going to sea. But one thing I love about your question is it's potentially freeing, it would be nice if a man could wear a floral scent if he wanted to.

        As I had mentioned dairy farming, it got me to wondering why you don't see women working often as milkers on dairy farms, at least not in the US. I wouldn't think milking cows is any harder than, say, waitressing in a restaurant, yet on the many farms I've visited I only saw males.

        I maintain that dairy work is the most satisfying work. Have you ever done any job where you were producing food in any capacity? How did it feel emotionally?
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          Jan 13 2014: If there's a class difference, I think it's more obvious in men than women. But, then again, maybe it's more to do with the situation than class - e.g. a beer after a long day's physical work; wine with a nice meal.

          I've had a few small food production jobs. They had good points and bad points, but I can't say I personally got a buzz out of producing food in itself. The fact that we are all motivated by different things in different ways is, of course, a good thing.

          Some questions occurred to me, trying to understand your unusual perspective on intellectually disabled people. Like, do you believe they feel the same things most of us do? Love, hate, sorrow, joy, fear, hurt, excitement etc? A need to belong, to feel loved, to dream, to achieve?
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        Jan 13 2014: well, there may be a class difference in men, but i thought the objective was to discover why certain drinks are considered girly, so you would have to be comparing how and what women drink to how and what men drink?

        What were the small food production jobs? Why would, for example, helping someone lose his or her stutter be more exciting or interesting than producing food, that's hard for me to understand? Isn't it somewhat stressful to be around someone who stutters, how do you deal with the stress, except why would you want to if it's more interesting to be producing food?

        I will say, Sara, that based on my exposure to the dairy world, wives don't work much with the animals. It seems to be somewhat traditional, where the husband is outside taking care of the animals and the wife is indoors taking care of the house, the finances of the business, and so on. If you got interested in dairy, perhaps your job would be to handle the family finances in such a way that you could afford to buy a farm, you were saying how the cost of a farm is initially prohibitive, well, I don't think you want to buy a farm right off the bat anyway, while your husband was working as a milker you perhaps would be investing and trying to grow his salary so that you could get into the business in a bigger way eventually? Or I suppose there might be smaller animals to take care of, too, such as chickens, perhaps that would fall to a wife, although keeping chickens I don't think is Masai.

        Oh, disabled people might feel love, but it's sort of rudimentary and it can't add much to the world? You have to figure they take a lot, they have to be fed, clothed, housed, looked after, it takes money, time, effort, and they're not giving much back, only rudimentary emotions, it's not nothing but it's not enough?

        If you like to respond, I see the conversation is close to closing. I'm sometimes slow to respond too as I don't have my own computer. Thanks for talking.
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          Jan 14 2014: "there may be a class difference in men" It's the culture vs biology thing again.

          I don’t find being around people who stutter stressful. It's never occurred to me that others might find it so. I've known adults (some dear to me) whose speech difficulties have had a huge negative impact on their lives. Language is so essential to social connections, and therefore so essential to well-being. That's what motivates me.

          "Why would you want to if it's more interesting to be producing food?" For me, producing food isn't more interesting. Neither is doing accounts. And my husband gets much more satisfaction out of his current career than he would dairying, too. I'm curious as to why you think others should be dairying. I'm sure I remember hearing the there's often a milk surplus in some countries, so I can’t imagine we’re not meeting demand in the West. Or have they fixed that now? In any case, it's not like the world needs more atmospheric methane.

          "rudimentary emotions" I thought that might be your belief. Do you have any foundation for this? Do you think this belief is a cause or effect of your phobia/’heebie-jeebies’? If you looked into it and found that, in fact, intellectually disabled people are often productive in wider society and do feel complex emotions, would you still feel the same way? I suspect you would. Given that your attitudes to other members of society who are ‘unproductive’ are different, I would guess it’s an effect. It strikes me as similar to the sorts of stories soldiers sometimes tell themselves about 'the enemy', misogynists tell themselves about women, homophobes tell themselves about gay people etc. I believe it's called dehumanization. I don’t know much about the phenomenon, but I’m guessing it’s some sort of ego-defensive behaviour - a way of rationalising responses which we might like to think are inconsistent with who we are. If this is true, I suppose you’d be unlikely to change your opinions, regardless of the evidence presented.
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          Jan 14 2014: I could be wrong. I would like to be wrong. In case I am, you might like to look into people with Williams Syndrome (they seem magical) as a starting point for both emotion and contributions to society. Although, if I am wrong and you are able to change your views, you’d still have other very human obstacles, like loss of face resulting from changing what I imagine is a long held opinion, and maybe even a threat to identity if the view is very much a part of you or engenders a sense of superiority. And it would still leave the underlying phobia. I think sometimes the first step with addressing phobias is to want to address them. A phobia can also be a cherished part of identity - something that sets us apart, makes us special.

          It would take courage and strength to get over all this.

          Apologies for the lecture and analysis, but my hope is it will help you. It could even help in the ‘getting a wife’ department and so be a step towards your Californian Maasai dream.

          Thanks also. You ask some great questions.
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        Jan 14 2014: well, my best guess is that men go for rougher, stronger drinks because somehow they say physical strength, and women for sweeter, milder drinks because they say delicacy. But I would think many other feelings get overlaid on all that. I would guess that occasionally men do like and drink girly drinks, and women like and drink strong ones. I have heard that there are men who sometimes buy women's deodorants, in fact I myself have done it.

        You know, I'm not entirely sure why I advocate for dairy farming. I've done all kinds of jobs in my life, and they seemed to all eventually become boring. For about 20 years, I've worked as an extra in TV and movies. For most of that time, I loved it, it was magical and challenging (isn't being on camera in a mainstream Hollywood production, even as an extra, one of the most exciting propositions in the world?) Then, in my last extra job, I got to do the most acting I've ever done as an extra. I played a pawnshop owner opposite one of the TV show principals, and had a long "bit" with him, although my side of the exchange was silent. And I realized that even acting was boring, the magic and challenge had gone out of it. But one thing I have never gotten bored of is milk, I've now drunk thousands of gallons and it still tastes as delicious to me as ever. I don't think I ever will get bored of the taste. And I keep discovering new intellectual dimensions of milk, for example, one could say that a downside of milk is that you have to urinate a lot, but then some say every time you urinate your system gets cleaned out inside, so even the urinate part of milk is positive. But if I stay interested in milk, doesn't it seem like milk production would be endlessly interesting as well? Because it's so fundamental and you're producing something so positive and crucial to your life, without food you would starve, it's much closer to the bone of life than acting or speech therapy.

        Yeah, the occasional retard....
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        Jan 14 2014: can be trained like a robot to work as a janitor. But even when it comes to janitors I would rather deal with a real janitor who has a mind and a consciousness and thinks cogent thoughts about their life than a retard. I'm sorry, it's nobody's fault, something just went askew in the development, it's actually amazing how little intellectual decapacitation there is.

        Not sure how softening towards retards is going to help me get a wife. Not going to marry one!

        Actually, Sara, I do have to admit that I have never worked as a dairy farmer, and, who knows, maybe it could become boring as well. But it's hard for me to think it would ever become as boring as actor or speech therapist, you're outside, you're constantly exposed to nature, new questions enter your mind about the natural world, you're dealing continually with these animals with all their interesting needs and personalities, you're continually drinking this delicious raw milk, raw milk is the best and most of us never get it, dairy farming seems like the best.

        Actually, when I think of the taste of milk, I'm not sure it tastes so different from other food, but the fluid form of it is so refreshing. And the fluid form means when you take a drink it hits thousands of your taste buds at once, it's a burst of flavor, versus solid food that you have to chew to get the flavor.
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          Jan 17 2014: robot, mind, consciousness, cogent thoughts - What extraordinary assumptions. Gotta say, Greg, you really can't have interacted with many intellectually disabled people. Either that, or there are much greater differences between Kiwis and Americans than it appears.

          "....going to help me get a wife." What I mean is that shared values are an important part of any successful relationship. I'd hazard a guess that most single women (most people, in fact) would find the 'babies as lion fodder' thing incompatible with their values, whether or not they'd consciously frame it that way. Not saying that you should pretend to think differently - just that it might be a good idea to really look into the facts, trying to eliminate confirmation bias, and be open to changing your opinions to reflect the evidence. It might not increase the pool size of women you think are potential spouse material, but it might increase the pool size of women who would see potential in you.

          Best of luck, Greg. Thanks for the challenges.

          By the way, if my husband is right and you are a troll, nicely done.
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        Jan 17 2014: well, I've interacted enough with retards, Sara. I think it takes about 60 seconds and you know the Masai are right?

        well, as far as women go, I can't believe that how I or a woman feel toward retards is going to be much influence on how we form a relationship, when you think of the million factors involved in a relationship.

        Strange ending note, your husband and you thinking I might be a troll? I must have done a bad job presenting my thoughts and their justifications if there's any suspicion that I'm trolling. If you like, go to my profile and read my 2,000+ comments, you'll see that I'm quite consistent. Here are the four videos on my YouTube channel, I think they're all interesting videos, one does take up my almost-all-skim-milk diet: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZvDZdiqgpIOyXgi-lZVBgg/videos I'd still encourage you to think of the life of a dairy farming couple, the cattle gently lowing, the beautiful countryside with myriad wildlife, birds, flora, fauna, the getting to know each cow, the elemental connection with nature, all that heavenly raw milk, and if you want, cheese, butter, and beef, knowing that you are producing the most healthy, wholesome, delicious product in the world.
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      Dec 19 2013: Greg thanks for your feedback. I am amazed that you don't know people like this or perhaps you understand and view those around you differently than I do. Unfortunately, I see it everyday. I see it in the line of work I do. I see it in my family. I see it in friends. I was once like this when I was younger but not currently. When I reflect and look at my life I realize that the times where I was not happy or "pursuing" my purpose, I was building someone elses dream and being a people pleaser. I was trying too hard to be everything for everyone forgetting about self and the things that would make Eliana happy. I know what it feels like to develop your talents, be happy and wake up everyday knowing that you are satisfying a greater purpose because I also know what it feels like to be miserable, to feel like you are not talented or are not doing anything about developing your skills. I can tell you lots of stories. The majority come from younger people who don't think critically about life and are not motivated to live. Or at least, they are honest enough to confess that unlike some adults that I know who are miserably chasing the image of who others think they should be, and not who they really are.
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        Dec 20 2013: Eliana, I relate to much of this, except the people-pleasing experience and the experience with youth.

        "I know what it feels like to develop your talents, be happy and wake up everyday knowing that you are satisfying a greater purpose because I also know what it feels like to be miserable, to feel like you are not talented or are not doing anything about developing your skills." I spoke with a friend today about your question, and this comment makes me think of something she said. She told me about some friends of hers who were not reaching their potential and she felt it was because they were sad or depressed. Like you imply, it seems to me that many of us need to feel we are reaching our potential or achieving our purpose, or just that we're on that path, in order to feel happy. However, I think we also need a certain level of happiness to find the confidence and energy we need to set out on that path.

        So, perhaps many of us find ourselves in a catch-22 situation. I needed a catalyst to get myself out of that situation and set me on my current, hope-filled path - and I'm guessing you're a catalyst for many you work with. What do you think? Does this ring true in your experience?
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          Dec 23 2013: Hi Sara! :)

          A good friend of mine once said that if you find yourself in a depressed state its because you are holding on too the past and if you are in an anxious state of mind, its because you are thinking too much about the future. Of course, he was implying that the key is too live here in the now. In regards to what your friend said, I think that you cant move forward joyfully if you have un-dealt with issues from the past. I would ask her if there is resentment, bitterness, or forgiveness she hasn't dealt with that is causing the depression. Thoughts of the past will come in and out of our lives, but we have a choice of what we flirt with and what we don't. Of what thought we choose to hold on to and what we let go of.

          I have had many catalyst in my life. they have come in the form of people, books, and experiences but they all did ONE THING: EXPOSE ME TO SOMETHING I WAS NOT AWARE OF- MAKING ME CONSCIOUSLY AWAKE TO ANOTHER PART OF ME. In my experience, this awareness almost always motivates me in such a way that I take action in the area I was idle in. In my line of work, I have found that for some I have been a catalyst. Not because I have accomplished great things in life and have a life that others are dying to have. No. But mainly because I have conversations with youth that expose them to a truth about themselves or life that they weren't aware of. And sometimes that is all we need: to wake up to a part of us, to get a deeper understanding about life, or to just get clarity.

          I also think that once we are in this "hope-filled path" that there will be discouragement, negativity, and bad energy coming our way, but the goal is to continually become aware, to purposely seek growth and to be open to the different catalyst on our paths that will catapult us to the next level whether its the next spiritual, emotional, financial, or intellectual level.
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        Dec 20 2013: Well, I can say I'm an active person. I have various things I want to do, and I'm quite happy to enlist the people who seem like they're oriented toward support. For example, I do some library research, and I'm not shy about asking for help from librarians. And it is hard for me to understand the mentality of a librarian, because it seems like they don't have projects of their own, they only help people with the other people's projects. But most of the librarians I deal with seem quite happy, but I've never asked if they are. Is it a case where you would actually ask a librarian who was helping you if the librarian were happy? I probably avoid that, because I don't want to hear about too much unhappiness in my day, we get enough in the media and in our various dealings with people and life, and why ask a question where I'm maybe going to hear about more unhappiness? Is that what you do, Eliana, you actually ask people if they are happy or not? Doesn't it get to be a drag after a while if you're hearing a lot of negative answers?

        If you were unhappy in the past, I'm glad you found a way to become happier. How did you do it?
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          Dec 24 2013: Hi Greg,

          No I don't go around asking people if they are happy or looking at their face and assuming that they are miserable and I'm the only one in the world that is HAPPY!!! :) NOT.

          Most of my days it feels like I have a sign on my forehead that says: "Hello, please tell me all of your issues. I would love to listen." :)

          That has been the story of my life. So even before I was a professional motivational speaker/consultant people just came to me and for some reason felt extremely comfortable being vulnerable with me. In those conversations there was always an expressed confusion, discomfort, or unhappiness. Hearing this over and over never drags me. On the contrary I get a weird energy from it because I automatically encourage and love to build another persons self/spiritual/mental/emotional esteem.

          With the work I do now, I don't assume people are unhappy. I just share my story and message and 90% of the time a crowd comes up to me afterwards with questions and insecurities that tell me where they really are in life.

          Regarding your last question... it was a long process but I learned that every time I chose to be myself, my true authentic self I was happy. So everyday I make a choice. I choose to be Eliana and if that means that today Eliana is going to embrace her intellectual side, or her goofy side, or her artistic side or her introverted side or her nerdy side, or her absolutely stubborn side...then I let it be. Happiness to me is a state of mind. I dont need anything added to my life to be happy. Things can definitely enhance my happiness. I just need to choose my attitude, my happiness.

          Thanks for asking Greg.
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        Dec 24 2013: Well, when you say people don't develop their talents, Eliana, can you clarify what you mean by that? Let's say I have an inkling that I might be a good painter. So I could do several things, I could start painting on my own to practice and develop my skills, or I could take a class. Or I might decide I don't care about painting enough to develop my skills there. All of these are positive scenarios, in the first two I develop my talent, in the third I don't but it's for a good reason. But you're meeting people who don't develop a talent for a bad reason, where they'd like to develop it but something frustrates them? What could that be?
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    Dec 18 2013: 1. laziness
    2. lack of courage
    3. lack of resources (money,power or relationships)