Pay attention to the subtle red flags.

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

During my first few weeks at college, I made friends with a guy who seemed really smart and proactive. We barely knew each other but we got along well — we exchanged notes, drank coffee between lectures, I lent him some of my CDs (yeah, those were still a thing at the time). But there was one thing about him that kept pecking at the back of my mind and I couldn’t quite make sense of it.

Whenever I asked him about the time, he would give a vague approximation. For example, if it was 3:20, he’d just say it was 3. If it was 6:35, he’d say it was 7. …

Which one are you?

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Having a high IQ means you’re great at certain kinds of problem-solving. But this won’t always lead to greater joy and success in life.

Some extremely smart people keep making self-defeating choices. They get stuck in unpleasant situations and see no way to improve the situation.

I’d like to share five stories, with some details changed to protect anonymity.

1. The Constant Worrier

Andrew is a charming guy, he’s often the life of the party. He prides himself in being rational about everything, and he’s quick to make fun of superstitions or irrational thinking.

His friends don’t know that Andrew keeps losing sleep because of anxiety. He can’t stop worrying about his loved ones, and he keeps thinking about worst-case scenarios. He also worries about silly, inconsequential things, like small verbal gaffes and misunderstandings. Andrew’s wife believes he needs help with his anxiety — but Andrew dislikes the idea. He’s “the rational one” in their marriage, so he thinks his fears are rational too.

I seem to be keeping it together but I’m a ball of nerves inside.

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

I never thought I was anxious because I was always able to cross out the majority of items on those ‘Tell-tale Signs of Anxiety’ lists.

Never have I ever had a panic attack, avoided social interactions, or had trouble sleeping. I never thought I was anxious until I read about something called high-functioning anxiety.

Unlike typical anxiety, high-functioning anxiety lets you handle anything that comes your way. In fact, you’ll probably do it impeccably.

It’s for this reason that people with high-functioning anxiety are often viewed as extremely poised, enthusiastic, and successful. But there’s a storm of insecurities brewing underneath it all. …

And make it a new habit in the new year.

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Photo by awar kurdish on Unsplash

After you’re done with the worries of the day and you’re snug and warm in bed, take 20 minutes or more to enjoy a book. Don’t check your phone, don’t let your mind wander to work, finances, or other ongoing problems. For a little while, give yourself over to reading.

Introducing this habit into your life is easy, and it is sure to improve your life. The benefits of bedtime reading include:

1. Stress-Relief and Improved Physical Health

Reading is a great way to stop ruminating before bed. You can stop or prevent the anxiety spirals that keep you up all night.

I used to try to meditate before bed, but I found it challenging — I can empty my mind but then it fills back up again. This is why reading is a godsend for me. It calms me down but it also gives me new things to think about. …

Don’t hesitate to rewrite your life script

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Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Earlier this month, I got to see this viral video of a former prima ballerina with Alzheimer’s moving her frail limbs to the sounds of the Swan Lake. It showed the immense power of music and its role in lighting up the forsaken neural pathways in our brains.

Awe-stricken as I was by her transformation, another thing caught my attention. It was the grace of the old lady’s body, as she was following the music in a reverie. Although she looked like a shadow of her old self, with her face and arms shriveled, this woman still had a formidable and powerful presence when she danced. …

This holiday season, I’m embracing sincerity.

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Photo by Mariana Kurnyk from Pexels

With the end of 2020 just around the corner, I’m reading retrospectives.

People keep talking about what they learned during the pandemic and how the experience changed them for the better. I keep seeing a bunch of positive spins on the situation — and some of them make me want to scream.

It’s not that I’m a hardcore pessimist. In fact, it’s my life philosophy to appreciate the opportunities life gives me. But I know people who are struggling with every aspect of life right now (which is understandable!) …

How I’m teaching my kids to be brave.

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Photo by Nick Bondarev from Pexels

As a dad, I want to keep my children safe from all the dangers of the world. When they’re distressed or scared, I want to be the one to protect them. But according to all the parenting advice I’ve ever read — as well as my own common sense — overprotective parenting makes it harder for kids to adapt to the challenges of growing up.

I don’t want to be one of those parents who never let their kids make mistakes. I want them to be confident and try new things. I also don’t want to fret about them spending time outside, even if they get their clothes dirty. Lockdown showed us exactly how bad it was when they were cooped up for weeks on end! …

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“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.”
Peggy O’Mara

If you have children you’ve probably heard the following questions a few times:

  • How long until you die, Dad? What will happen to us when you do? Where do people go when they die?
  • Why do wars happen? Why do people do bad things?
  • If animals feel pain, why do we eat them?
  • Are you and Mom going to get a divorce? How can you be so sure you won’t? Everyone keeps getting a divorce.

Your kids look to you for guidance, and your job is to help them understand what’s going on in society (and in your family, too). But the world’s messy, and you don’t always have easy answers. …

Hold yourself to a higher standard, not an impossible one

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Photo by Chaney Zimmerman on Unsplash

For a long time, my main goal in life was to become a better version of myself.

I fell for all the slogans — “Improvement begins with I”, “it’s all about your attitude”, “a day spent in stagnation is a day wasted”, and so on.

I tried to control every aspect of my life.

I would get up extremely early every day including the weekends. I closely monitored my diet always choosing healthy meals over comforting ones. I had a long to-do list, and I never could quite get to the end of it.

By the standards I set for myself, I was improving. But still, I was never good enough. Every few days, I’d slip up a little and go off schedule. When that happened, I’d feel like I committed some horrible sin. …

Some friends take more from you than just your time.

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

It feels awkward to bring up the subject of money rather than emotions or communication when speaking about a toxic friendship.

But did you know that between 29% and 41% of marriages fail due to disagreements about money? The figures for friendships ending because of money could be double for all we know.

Friendships falling apart isn’t even the worst outcome. Before that happens, your financially toxic friend might mess up your sense of self-worth, negatively impact your decisions, and you may even go into debt because of their bad influence.

There are a few different ways this can play out. Here’s how to recognize financial toxicity and tell apart harmful friends from those you need to keep. …


Eric Sangerma

Dad, Husband, Entrepreneur, Co-Founder of Wholistique. Connect with me on LinkedIn:

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