When You’re Not in the Mood

I read a tweet that said “Music is the heartbeat of life.” Most of us have a connection with music. It touches our souls, it helps us through the day at work, at the gym, on the commute, or wherever else you want to close out the When You're Not in the Moodworld and get lost in the rhythm.

Music is the soundtrack to our moods. We use it to soothe and sympathize with us. If a woman is listening to Adele all week, you know what’s going on (i.e., leave her alone fellas). But it also has a different effect on us.

My favorite artist is Amos Lee. His music is a hybrid of blues, folk, rock, and soul. I began listening to him with his second album, Supply and Demand, and I was hooked. But when I previewed his next album — Last Days at the Lodge— I wasn’t feeling it. I was rather disappointed. There were too many songs about relationships. I didn’t have time for that.

I’ve enjoyed his two subsequent albums. But when I went back and listened to tracks from that album I didn’t like, I was blown away. I think it’s his best work now. I’m not certain why I was averse to that album in the past, but I bet it had something to do with my emotional state. I likely just came out of a relationship or some type of relational disappointment (women, smh) that I really didn’t want to hear about Mr. Lee’s drama. So I judged the snippets of the album through the lens of my negative emotional state, missing out on some great music at the time.

Unfortunately, music isn’t the only thing we judge based on our emotionally tainted state. What if the people we’ve met whom we don’t like, those people we got a bad vibe from, and those we felt rubbed us the wrong way weren’t bad people or didn’t really piss us off? What if we just weren’t in the right mood or emotionally prepared to welcome a new friend, colleague or acquaintance? Sure there are some people we just won’t get along with, but what if, for the most part, you don’t get along with certain people not because of their personalities, but rather because of your temperament? What if the issue is with you, not them?

I think that’s the case most of the time, at least in my life. Some people are difficult to deal with, but I can be difficult to deal with as well. We all need others to be patient with us, and in turn, we need to be patient with others. We need to give people a chance. Someone who completely turned you off could potentially be a close friend. (One of my best friends today was someone I couldn’t stand when we first met.)

When I listen back on that Amos Lee album, the funny thing is most of the songs aren’t about relationships. My judgment was clouded then. Whatever preoccupies our thoughts becomes the filter through which we see, hear, and encounter people and things. Whether it’s a breakup, money concerns, low self-esteem, or family issues, our circumstances often spill into other areas of life.

The Bible talks about being sober-minded, which means using good judgment, being sensible, and not being excessive. Regardless of what we’re going through, we must dwell in peace so we can judge wisely. Don’t let a bad day, stress, or your emotions affect your interaction with people. You could miss out on something beautiful. Or, in my case, some great music.

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Is Instagram Ruining Your Life?

On the way home from work the other day, I was walking to my car and overheard two teenagers talking. It was a guy and a girl, and as they parted ways the guy said, “I’ll see you on Instagram.”Is Instagram ruing your life

I thought that was the funniest and, at the same time, dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Because, you know, you actually don’t see anyone on Instagram. I mean you see their image and the food porn they post, but that’s just the virtual them. Are we at the point in our social evolution where Instagram counts as personal interaction? Like, could I ever tell my mom, “Hey, I know I haven’t stopped by to see you in a while, but just get on Instagram because it’s just as good as me being there.”

I’m not going to bash social media because I use it regularly — it’s probably the reason why you got to this page — and it is a great way to stay in touch with people, stay in the know, and stalk others. And you’ve probably already read an article or 20 about how social networks are killing the art of face-to-face conversation. We get it. We need to put our phones down. I agree.

Yet, let’s be honest, the tide has turned. This is the new social norm. You primarily interact through social media. And teenagers? Forget it. That’s all they know. So my dilemma is finding balance. I’m not shutting down my Facebook or Twitter accounts. That’s equivalent to living in a cave.

So how do we keep up with the latest social technology and at the same time not surrender the richness and purity of old school interaction? There are no hard and fast rules, but this is what I intend to do:


This means either a phone (not text) or face-to-face conversation with a friend each week. It’s easy just to drop a line or personal message on a social network, but taking the effort to call or sit down with someone shows him/her is worth your time and attention, and they’re not just part of your social network.


How many times have you been with friends or family and everyone’s face is buried in the blue screen of his/her phone while having conversation? I know, all the time. My goal is to be present. If I’m with people, they should have my attention, not Kevin Hart’s Twitter feed.


If I have your number, that means we’re more than Facebook friends. You deserve more than a wall post on your born day. 


OK, this is a hard one because we are so freaking impatient. If we’re in line at a store, and the line’s not moving swiftly, we reach for our phones immediately. Surely Twitter can make this agonizing experience go faster. No, it doesn’t. And honestly, you look stupid. Just stand there and wait. Talk with a fellow waiting customer. Just don’t go to the phone. This can be as hard as holding your pee after drinking a quart of water, but damn it, it’s for the best.

These are just a few things I’ll try this year. Hopefully it will bring balance to my addiction, keeping me from getting totally swept away in the culture’s new form of communication. I challenge you to give them a try too, or your own variation. Whatever helps you unplug and interact as a human. If it doesn’t work, no big deal. I’ll just see you on Instagram.


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How Starbucks Taught Me I’m Selfish

By Kevin Howell

starbucks selfish

photo by visualpanic via creative commons

I’m selfish.

I have the tendency to be self-absorbed.

I focus on solving my own problems, knocking items off my daily to-do list, and sticking to my schedule. When things get in the way of that, I see it as an attack on my way of life, an attempt to sabotage my day, a conspiracy against Kevin, as if the world must kowtow to my comfort.

I’m not always like this, but I can regress into that state. It’s easy to be patient, loving, and sacrificial Sunday afternoon after church, or when you’re around close friends, but in the middle of the week a chatty co-worker or a long line at Starbucks sets off my selfishness.

Speaking of Starbucks, I was waiting on line the other day, and the couple in front of me was ordering the entire freaking menu. They had a list of drink orders for the Brady Bunch or something. It didn’t help that there were only two baristas working either. The couple was already testing my patience, then the guy has the audacity to eye the bakery section and ask for one of everything.

Really? One of EVERYTHING? This ain’t Dunkin Donuts. People don’t do this at Starbucks.

Fed up, I was on the verge of saying something, then the guy turns to me and says, “Sorry, we’re at a funeral and getting orders for our family.”

Oh …

Yeah, felt like an ass. Hadn’t noticed they were dressed in all black. Waiting to order that latte didn’t seem to matter in light of their loss.

It was a humble reminder that my feelings aren’t the only ones that matter. That my agenda can endure some delays. That my schedule can be adjusted. That every day, I need to look outside of myself.

This was an extreme case, but one that slapped me out of selfish stupidity. It’s easy to get caught up in my daily grind and ignore everyone and everything around me, but God’s been putting little reminders in my path lately to slow down and pay attention.

Taking the subway home from work the other night, a lady stopped me asking if I could help carry her suitcase down the steps. My first thought was, ‘I can’t miss my train,’ but I stopped myself and thought: ‘Screw the train, I gotta to help.’

We’re called to serve. The opposite of service is selfishness. Selfishness is evil. There’s no other way to put it. It’s a carnal inclination linked to our sin nature. And unfortunately, life tries to push us to the lower nature.

Work, school, projects, errands, smartphones and social media are part of the daily routine that keeps us focused on ourselves and distracted from the concerns of others. No doubt, we are busy. And there are plenty of problems in on our lives to focus on. But we’re commanded to give others priority over ourselves. It’s an insane concept, but since God said it, I figure it makes sense (He’s smarter than us after all).

It’s the way Jesus lived. Whether He was on His way to heal someone (Matt. 9:18-22), or grieving a personal loss (Matt. 14:10-14), He was always interrupted by someone in need. He never hesitated to break from His routine and put what He was doing on hold in order to serve. Sure, that’s a high standard. But if we pay attention to others and prepare ourselves to put aside our plans if needed, we can meet that standard more often than not.

Our lattes can wait.

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Why I Love Jesus and Jay-Z

By Kevin Howell

Jesus and Jay-Z

Associated Press

I used to be a big fan of Jay-Z. I’m talking the Reasonable Doubt, In My Lifetime vols. 1-3, Streets is Watching era — i.e. his early stuff. I stopped listening to secular music for a while in the early 2000s, so I can’t speak much of his discography during that time — though attending a historically black university where hip-hop was the soundtrack of the campus, I heard plenty of his music then.

Jay has gotten some backlash from the Christian community in recent years, particularly because lyrics to his hit Empire State of Mind. There’s a subtle line in the song, that really, if you aren’t a Christian you probably didn’t even notice it. But it ruffled some feathers when he rapped:

Hail Mary to the city, you’re a virgin
And Jesus can’t save you, life starts when the church ends

It didn’t help that he later released a song with Kanye West called No Church in the Wild. I remember seeing Christians ranting on blogs and social media about Jay’s blasphemous lyrics, his supposed connection to the Illuminati, and how he’s the anti-Christ. Seriously?

Jay’s been taking subtle jabs at religion for years — calling himself Jay-hova, and even making the song Izzo (H.O.V.A.), which is sacrilegious, but catchy as hell.

For some reason, I was interested in hearing his latest album, Magna Carta Holy Grail. His Samsung commercial for the album, despite being 10 minutes long, was intriguing because as big as a mogul Jay has become, you don’t hear him speak much. The commercial, and subsequent clips discussing the meaning of particular songs, gave us a peek into his mind. This clip for the song Heaven was particularly interesting.

As much bravado and swag Jay-Z boasts, as much as he’s worshiped by a generation, and as much as he angers some Christians for his lyrics, he’s simply human. Being so, he has the same questions, internal conflicts, and paradoxes we all experience.

He doesn’t come off anti-Christ in the commercial or the song, but rather agnostic. He’s someone who questions how “a just God could make you burn for eternity for free will that He gave you.” Or how can we not accept others’ ideas of God if none of us has ever been to Heaven. His thoughts are not much different from our neighbors, co-workers, classmates, family members, friends, and at some point, ourselves.

We’ve all had to face the tough questions of our faith.

How can a loving God send people to Hell? 

Jay-Z with Kevin Durant and Pastor Carl Lentz of Hillsong Church NYC

Jay-Z with Kevin Durant and Pastor Carl Lentz of Hillsong Church NYC

How is the Bible relevant with scientific discoveries?

Is there really just one true way to God? 

Even if you’ve found peace in the faith with these questions, we live in a secular, pluralistic society with many beliefs. People around you have these questions.

I love living in a diverse society. I love the fact most people are just seeking truth. And even if people aren’t convinced there’s a Heaven, they still want to go there.

Jay-Z is one of those people. I believe God loves him. I was one of those people. With baggage, with flaws, with unbelief, with questions. God loved me then. Before I knew Him. Before I recognized Him. Before I had faith in Him. The truth of His love and grace convinced me and changed me.

I’m hoping it does the same for Jay.


Kevin is a writer, editor and lover of old school hip-hop. He wasn’t impressed with “Magna Carta,” so he’ll go back listening to his old Tribe Called Quest, Outkast and Public Enemy CDs cassettes.

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How Fear Helps Us Dream

By Kevin Howell

Discovery Channel

Discovery Channel

This past Sunday night was a slow TV night. The NBA Finals were over, the Sunday Night baseball game on ESPN was in a rain delay so, unless you’re into Lifetime or Oprah’s OWN network, there wasn’t much to watch.

But lo and behold, the Discovery Channel came through with a can’t-miss/can’t-bear-to-watch event — Skywire.  Daredevil tight-rope walker Nik Wallenda was attempting to walk on a tight wire across the Grand Canyon. Yes, you read that right. And he was doing it without a harness or safety net… on live TV. I wasn’t sure how the FCC would approve the live airing of a man plummeting 1,500 feet to his death at the bottom of the canyon.

The walk was a quarter of a mile long and, yes, he made it. Throughout the walk, Wallenda, who had a mic on, was praying to Jesus — constantly. I’m no theologian and I don’t judge others’ relationships with God, but there has to be better ways to bring glory to God. Sure, he was exalting Jesus on national television, but at the same time scaring the hell out of everyone else. Anyway….

Wallenda is a pro at this stuff (he did the same stunt across Niagara Falls). His family has tight-roped walked for generations. He said he dreamed of walking across the Grand Canyon since he was a teenager.


Wallenda’s stunt helps illustrate the unique relationship between our fears and dreams. Often times these opposing factors are quite related. What we fear most points to what we desire most. If you are afraid of being alone, your dream probably has something to do with family or community. If you are afraid of failing, you likely dream of success.

courtesy of fearsvsdreams.com

courtesy of fearsvsdreams.com

The organization To Write Love On Her Arms, which supports those struggling with self-injury, suicide and depression, started a campaign called “Fears vs. Dreams” where it asks people to write down their biggest fear and their greatest dream. The purpose is for people “to feel less alone in reading the words of others.”

One of my biggest fears is embarrassment and humiliation. Conversely, my greatest dream is to impact and encourage many lives through my words (both written and spoken). With the dream comes the risk of embarrassment, the risk of humiliation. But our greatest dreams will never come to fruition until we conquer our biggest fear.

Nik Wallenda said he doesn’t fear doing crazy stunts. He said you can decide whether you want to fear something or not. Though I wouldn’t even tight-rope walk 15 feet in the air, Wallenda chose to walk 1,500 feet high. That was his dream, and he conquered fear to do it. What’s your biggest fear? It will likely point you toward your greatest dream and let you know what you have to overcome to get it.

“Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. … the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul.” –Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

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No Time for Fear

By Kevin HowellNo time for fear

“We’re sad, but we’re not afraid. Not before; not now.” - Bob Goff

Another tragedy has hit America. Just four months after the Newtown, Conn., shootings, and nine months after the Aurora, Colo., shooting. This time it was bombings at the Boston Marathon. This time it looks like some form of terrorism — whether international or domestic. Either way, it draws a response we have seen before:





And in some cases, fear.

The latter is the reaction that the perpetrators desire. They want us to live in fear. In terror. Scared to enjoy life. They want fear to disrupt our normal routine. To disrupt our purpose.

But when I look at people who inspire me, people throughout history with the courage to stand for something, they faced death, terror and threats on the regular. They did not fear.

Jesus, King David, the Apostles, Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson, Benazir Bhutto, Aung San Suu Kyi; they did not let fear run their lives. Primarily because they had a greater purpose that was too important to abandon. But also because they were too focused to be bothered by the threats.

They were driven by noble causes. I’m sure they heard the threats and knew, in most cases, their lives were truly in danger. But they also knew ain’t nobody got time for that. They didn’t have time for fear. They couldn’t waste time in fear; they had stuff to do. They knew life is much bigger than fear.

The beautiful thing I’ve noticed in America since the 9-11 attacks is the same resiliency and sense of purpose. We have stuff to do. Lives to live. Races to run. Flights to take. We will not live in fear. We weren’t afraid before the Boston bombings, we’re not afraid now.

We can apply that same resiliency to our personal lives. Without a doubt, we face setbacks, trying situations, disappointments, stress and frustrations. But those are no reasons to fear. Those are no reasons to stand down. No reasons to give up, stop dreaming, or stop believing.

You were built to last. Built to endure. And built to overcome. In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul writes we were “not given a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” The Spirit within us empowers us to overcome. It makes us resilient. It gives us all we need to defeat fear. Even when things catch us off-guard, we stay focused because our purpose is bigger than the fear we face.

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Five Seconds to Greatness

By Kevin Howell

“The strong feeling of doubt, right before you leap in faith, is the last attempt to stop the greatest era of your life.” – Matthew Barnett, founder of The Dream Center

photo by padawan via creative commons

photo by padawan via creative commons

We all deal with doubts. We all experience hesitation before an action we want to take. Our greatest battles are fought within our own minds. Steven Pressfield calls it our battle with Resistance. You can call it fear or nerves. Whatever it is, it’s holding you back. It’s holding me back. It’s robbing us of life, exploration, relationships, raises, victories, joy, and greatness.

On the other side of your fears, doubts, and resistance lies more than a desire — there is a new you. The person you want to be. One who walks by faith, undeterred by circumstances. One who is stepping into greatness. Not because you do daring things. Not because you can never be intimidated or doubt again. Not because your faith never wanes. But because you made a decision to act despite the enemies in your mind. You forced yourself out your comfort zone. You’ve proved to yourself that you are capable of overcoming the internal blockade. That’s a characteristic of greatness.

Author and speaker Mel Robbins teaches that we have five seconds to act on a positive impulse before fear and resistance set in to stop us.

Five seconds.

When we have an impulse to take a leap of faith, go after what we want, or do something crazy (a good crazy that is), we have five seconds before the enemies prance into our cerebrum. Five seconds to marry impulse with action. Five seconds to step into greatness.

The Apostle Peter experienced this. As soon as Jesus, walking on water, identified Himself on the raging sea, Peter stepped out and walked on water. He acted before the five-second countdown went off. Later, He succumbed to fear when he lost focus. But his initial steps took him into the realm of greatness, an eternal testimony of faith — who else do you know who has walked on water?

Fear and doubt are familiar. You’ve dealt with them all your life. Greatness? That’s something new. It’s something untapped. It’s on the other side of fear and self-doubt. It’s the opportunity to begin a new era in your life. To live a legacy of faith, courage, and confidence. Trust God and have confidence in what He’s put in you. You have five seconds. Step into greatness.

Kevin is learning to step into greatness, one challenge at a time. It’s simple, but not easy. Connect with him via email: Kevin(at)transparencymag.com, or on twitter: @transparencymag

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4 Keys to Finding Passion and Purpose

We all desire to do what we love for a living. We want to be passionate and purposeful about our lives, both professionally and personally. But getting to that point isn’t easy, partly because we aren’t always sure of our passion and purpose.

photo courtesy of employed by my vision

photo courtesy of employed by my vision

Darius Brown discovered his purpose and now spends his time helping others navigate through life to find their purpose. Three years ago he started Employed By My Vision, a business that helps young people discover their passion and make a career out of it.

His road there wasn’t easy though, nor was his path to discovering purpose always positive. At age 19, living in a three-bedroom apartment with eight other people, Darius was frustrated with seeing his family struggling. So he started selling drugs and embezzling money. Fortunately, he was able to remove himself from that lifestyle and use creative gifts and abilities to start businesses and live a “purpose-filled and passionate life.” Here are some tips he provides for living your purpose passionately.

Don’t look for something your passionate about, find passion in what you’re already doing.

Darius said he didn’t know his passion until it became his passion. Even in a mundane job working at a bowling alley, he realized he was bringing in a lot of money to his employer but not seeing the financial benefits. This dissatisfaction helped birth an entrepreneurial spirit in him. Which eventually led to him discovering his purpose.

“There’s a thin line between passion and purpose,” Darius explains. “Passion is something that grips your heart. But what is the purpose of it? It’s a reason why you do it. Purpose comes with assurance. What’s the reason behind it? Why do you want it? When you marry those two, you have purpose.”

Know your identity, your ability, and your “why” in life.

Darius says: “Purpose starts with identity. A shattered identity can’t handle the weight of purpose. You have to know who you are in God. When you figure that out, you’ll have that confidence to say ‘this is my purpose.’ It takes a level of confidence and identity to discover a purpose.”

“Purpose is a ‘why’ and an ability. Without a ‘why,’ nothing makes sense, nothing is valuable, nothing matters. There’s no fulfillment without a why, but there’s no movement without an ability to make this ‘why’ come to life.

“Jesus could’ve had the greatest heart, but without the gift to heal, preach, empower people, He wouldn’t be as effective. He had that gift to bring the ‘why’ to fruition.”

Darius explained that understanding the “why” in your life empowers you. When he was selling drugs and embezzling money, he was driven by the desire to improve his financial situation. “My whys weren’t good, but I had to grab a why,” he said. “Jay-Z had a song back then that said: ‘We ain’t doing crime for the sake of doing crime. We doing crime because we ain’t doing fine.’ That was why. I ain’t doing fine, so I got to do this. You have to find a righteous why to be empowered. Then you can find a gift to bring that why to pass. As believers, we don’t use our gifts and abilities just to do them; we use them because we love God.”

Your identity, the “why” in your life, and your abilities are the keys to discovering your purpose.

It’s never too late to live your purpose and passion.

Sometimes we feel as we get older, we’ve missed out on opportunities to pursue our dreams and purpose has passed us by. But Darius explains that it’s never too late to pursue purpose.

“God redeems time,” he says. “The time you lost, you messed up on, God can redeem time and He awakens it. As long as you’re living, you have a chance to live out purpose.”

He describes a time when he was speaking in Pittsburgh in 2011, and a 72-year-old man came to the altar to get prayed for. In tears, he told Darius he wanted to know his purpose. Next to him was a 9-year-old boy who wanted to get prayed for to know his purpose. God doesn’t discriminate based on age. He continues to use those willing to be used, no matter how much time has passed.

Know who God’s calling you to be and what He’s calling you to do, and have confidence in that.

“Purpose is so far from arrogant,” Darius says. “God gave us purpose to do something for His people. Purpose is telling God: ‘I’m going to join you in what you already doing for your people.’”


Darius Brown is the founder and president of Employed By My Vision, Inc., certified life coach, and author of Forgive Me, Success: Life Guide 101. For more information visit www.employedbymyvision.com

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You’re Not Fine; You’re Amazing

By Kevin Howell

“I’m fine.”

photo by randi butler via compfight

photo by randi butler via compfight

It’s the most common response and sentence we hear every day. We even say it… all the time. But what does it mean? Is there any substance to it? Or is it something we just automatically say? Does it really explain our current state?

If so, it’s a sad picture of our lives.

By purpose, we have been intricately drawn onto the canvas of Earth, at this time, for a reason. And the best way we can describe our existence is just “fine?”

Fine is symbolic of the mundane life. A life lacking adventure, lacking meaning, lacking fun. It’s what we say when everything is going according to routine. There’s nothing wrong with routine. There’s nothing wrong with working 9 to 5. Established patterns are important to balance, discipline, and sanity in life. The problem isn’t the routine, but the mind-set we adopt because of the routine.

The “normal” routine often drags us into a “normal” life. And really, nothing about you or me is supposed to be normal. Each of us has been made so unique, we shouldn’t fit into normal. We shouldn’t look at our existence as normal. We shouldn’t take life normally.

If we really think about it, life is staggering. Like, freaking awe-inspiring. I visited the Bodies Exhibit in New York years ago, which features all parts of the human anatomy and describes the details of how every nerve, vessel and muscle interacts. You won’t believe the complicated process happening in my body just for me to type this sentence… or how much work your brain is doing just to simply read this sentence… or how everything in your body functions just so you can breathe. Our bodies are far more complex than any computer. We’re walking miracles.

King David wrote in Psalm 139:14 we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Most of us have heard that scripture before, but we take it as something “normal” as well. Fearfully, in the text, means to revere, or had in reverence. I don’t think we totally comprehend that because most of us — unless your name is Beyoncé, LeBron, or Barack — have never been revered. We don’t always get it at home, we don’t get it at church, and we sure as hell aren’t revered at work. But, when you were crafted in your mother’s womb, you were revered. Even more staggering, you were revered by God Himself and all of Heaven.

So how are you normal? How can your life be just fine?

You and I are more than just fine. We’re amazing. I know, it sounds cocky, but think about it: Wouldn’t you describe anything God created as amazing? How many times have you in awe of a beautiful sunset, trees blooming in spring, the colors of autumn, a snow-covered canvas, or a mountain view? All those natural scenes we describe as amazing. Yet, as beings created in His very own image — His greatest work of art — we don’t afford ourselves the same description.

You’re amazing. Accept it.

But do our lives match our dopeness? Are we living in a manner worthy of our creation? I can’t say what that means for you, but for me it’s…

  • living my purpose by serving others
  • creating things (art, businesses, projects, ideas)
  • being a leader
  • letting people know they matter
  • doing my best with every opportunity
  • being myself with no shame

Change your mind-set. Your life, what you’re doing — or what you should be doing — is more than fine. It’s laced with greatness — from simple acts to ambition efforts. Approach it with the awe, reverence, and dopeness in which it was created.


This article was inspired by this TED talk by Mel Robbins below. She also has a book, Stop Saying You’re Fine. I haven’t read it, so if you buy it and it sucks (though I doubt it), don’t blame me. Enjoy the video.


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No Regrets

By Kevin Howell

photo by Andre Delhaye via compfight

photo by Andre Delhaye via compfight

I want to live with no regrets.

That’s one of my themes this year (I have like 20, trying narrow the list down a bit).

“No regrets” doesn’t mean I want to live mistake-free. Mistakes are inevitable. And they’re not all regrettable. If viewed properly, they are learning experiences. (Ironically, the biggest mistake is being afraid to make mistakes, but that’s a different article).

Regrets are those things I imagine I’ll look back at 20 years from now, or even a year from now, wishing I had done. As a friend of mine mentioned in a text, “You will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did.”

So in a way, I’m trying to be preemptive, imagining myself a year from now, looking back on how I spent my time. With each day, each decision, each opportunity, I wonder if my older self would regret my actions or inaction. It’s sort of like using hindsight as foresight — living a Back to the Future flick in your head.

This concept helps level the playing field in my mind games. Fear is the main factor that leads to my regrets. It’s the voice in my head that tries to keep me in my comfort zone. It shuns adventure. It cowers from conflict. But in retrospect, fear is always trivial. It’s only a hindrance in the present. In hindsight, the outcome I was afraid of would never happen. If I can push my perspective past now, fear loses its power over my present.

At the end of the year, what would you regret not doing? Is it the business you should’ve started? The girl you should’ve asked out? (Or the guy you should’ve given a chance?) The time you should’ve spent with friends? Family you should’ve visited? The job opportunity you should’ve explored?

I know the pain of regret from all those scenarios because I let them pass last year (and probably did the same on some of them the year prior). The “should-haves” suck in the end… much worse than the “shouldn’t-haves.”

But this year can be different. You and I can encounter adventure, opportunity, and conflict, and embrace it. We can exchange busyness for productivity. We can prioritize people over projects. Relationships over reality TV. We can filter life through the lens of a new perspective. One where we look at life in foresight. Living with no regrets.

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