What Is Success?

To laugh often and much

to win the respect of intelligent people

and the affection of children;

to earn the appreciation of honest critics

and endure the betrayal of false friends;

to appreciate beauty,

to find the best in others;

to leave the world a bit better,

by a healthy child, a garden patch,

or a redeemed social condition;

to know even one life breathed easier

because you have lived.

That is to have succeeded.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


“Optimism is the foundation of courage.” This was written by a man who was born during the American Civil War and died shortly after WWII. Imagine the hardship and discord that this man saw in his lifetime. And still, he managed to forge ahead in his time and win the Nobel Peace Prize in his day. We still look to that brief statement by Nicholas M. Butler for hope.

In times of adversity, optimism is a conscious choice. It is a courageous action and a courageous attitude. Google defines optimism as “1. hopefulness and confidence about the future successful outcome of something” and “2. the belief that good must ultimately prevail over evil in the universe.”

Optimism is not blind ignorance, nor is it a light hearted decision. Pessimism is not blind hatred, nor is it a permanent mindset. People will argue with you about this. Name callers will call optimists “fools.” Name callers will call pessimists “downers.” And then some. But we don’t need to label ourselves into one of these two categories FOREVER. We can think about it and decide. Faith and reflection are required for this kind of clarity. We need to choose how we want to think and how we want to live.

Let me give you an example. My mother called herself a pessimist. She told me her first thought every morning when she opened her eyes in bed was “I’m still here.” She explained that she was surprised that she didn’t somehow die during the night. (Note that she believed this when she was healthy.) Now an optimist could think the exact same thought “I’m still here” with a different mindset. “I’m still here” could mean that I am grateful for another day to live in this world.

In these days of great adversity in the world, we need more optimists. How to shift our thinking when we are deeply discouraged by the state of affairs? Take a break from the news. Take positive actions to make a difference. Avoid complainers. Listen to inspiring music. Read inspiring stories. Watch inspiring Ted Talks by real inspiring people. Follow the underdogs. Get enough sleep. Eat well. Exercise well. Tell your fears and worries to a supportive friend. Be a positive role model to children. Rise up with hope.Have faith.

Optimism is the choice to shine your light. Realism is that some days it will shine brighter than others. Faith is knowing that your light is forever present to share with others. Like a sunrise.

Playoffs and Championships, Here Here

Sports inspired empathic feelings? What’s the connection? Actually, a pretty strong one.  Especially during playoff season. I’m a playoffs person. Love championships. You may say that I am a fair-weather friend. Not a true fan. Everyone loves a winner. Yep, that’s true. But there are reasons why.

First, there is the practical side. “True fans” need a lot of time to watch tv or attend live events. Like many working parents, I just don’t have it. Play-offs season and championships are short blocks of time, and events are later at night or on weekends.

Second, there is the emotional draw. Very big for an empath or highly sensitive person. We can feel the excitement tenfold, and it is very energizing. It is satisfying to absorb all the hopeful and happy energy of the competition. It is wonderful to feel the optimism of the fans.

Third, there are the backstories. Surrounding playoff games and championships are the human stories of the athletes. We learn about the diversity of human experience. And with top athletes, there is almost always an undercurrent of hope and of overcoming adversity. It seldom is an easy or straight line to the top of one’s game. Endurance, stamina, and courage are the hallmarks of great athletes in any sport.

And last, and most important, are the underdogs. Empaths and HSPs love the underdogs. We acknowledge them. We cheer for them. They are our favorite heroes and our favorite champions. Because they make the impossible possible. Many of them are athletes, and many of their stories get told during the play-offs and championship season. They inspire us to never give up and never give in. They dream big, and we know that dreaming big is a firm belief in hope. And we are all about hope.

We may not be typical fans, but we are fans nonetheless. The how they got there stories draw us in. The accomplishments make us say wow. Amazing. Empaths and HSPs see the strong spirit of hope and determination (often against all odds) in many athletes. So, bring it on, baby.

You’re One in a Million and More

You’re one in a million. Actually you’re 1 of 7,655,041,631 people in the world as of 8:30 AM on Sunday, October 7, 2018. If you live in the U.S., you are 1 of 327,390,653. If you don’t believe me, go and look up the population of the world or of a specific country in real time on the world population clock at http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/  

So when you’re feeling not so special, think about this. Scientists estimate that the odds of you being born are 1 in 400 trillion. Yep, 1 in 400 trillion!! (I don’t even need to cite this statistic because it is so widely believed and noted by many scientists.)

Still not sure how unique you are? Here are 4 stats from Ted Talks speaker and HuffPost Life contributing author Mel Robbins on the probability of being born:

  1. Probability of your parents meeting:  1 in 20,000
  2. Probability of your parents meeting resulting in the birth of a child/you:  1 in 2,000
  3. Probability of the right sperm meeting the right egg: 1 in 400 quadrillion
  4. Probability of your ancestors having reproduced successfully: 1 in 10.
  5. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/probability-being-born_b_877853.

So why does this matter? Because you matter. It took a miracle to get you here. And we forget that. We forget how the odds were stacked against us even being created. Yet, here we are. We are the ones who made it on a wing and a prayer. We got the opportunity to come into this world. We were born. We are living and breathing miracles.

So what are you going to do with your time here? Of course, that is the big question that will continue to haunt us. This question does not have one answer, but it has many. And the answers change over time. But the guiding principle is the same – make the most of our time here. Life itself is an improbable gift. Give back as much as you can. Be present. Eyes wide open. Be loving. Embrace others. Be kind. Extend a helping hand. Be adventurous. Go see the world. Be curious. Learn as much as you can. Be grateful. Grow your faith and your spirit. Be healthy. Treat your body well. Be the best you that you can be. Just Be.