Overcoming OCD: What my compulsions taught me

There I was, trapped in my room with no where to go.

It had become my last refuge and now a self-contained cell. I was a living contradiction: both the prisoner and the gatekeeper.  This is what OCD had reduced my life to: hiding away from all of my fears in the confines of my room. Fear of the outside kept me trapped. Can you imagine what it feels like when you perceive the entire world as a threat? Once a normal teen and then .. a nervous wreck.

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My Un-sheltering Experience at a Men’s Housing Center

I’ll never forget that frigid evening in February, walking down the creaky wooden steps that lead to the underground men’s homeless shelter in the northern part of Chicago.

Never had I been truly exposed to a vulnerable population, being that I grew up in a small, privileged, suburban neighborhood that shrouded me from the difficulties pervading all facets of society. As a second year college student, I was volunteering there to fulfill a course requirement, but little did I know that this experience was also going to fill a void in me.

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Understanding the Hedonic Treadmill and how to achieve sustainable happiness

Want to be happier?

Arthur Schopenhauer had once remarked:

“How insatiable a creature is man! Every satisfaction he attains lays the seeds of some new desire, so that there is no end to the wishes of each individual will.”

It seems as if our friend Schopenhauer was on to something which is that we always seem to be several steps away from having what we think we want, yet when we get it, desire itself still remains and the fixed state of happiness we assumed obtainable still seems out of reach.

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A guide on how to rebuild after life’s disasters

You don’t know how and you don’t know when but it happened.

Maybe you were completely in denial, maybe you saw it coming or even predicted it. Perhaps you were waiting for it, counting down the months, weeks and days until – CRASH. You knew it was possible but .. Did you really? What before was merely an image in your mind has now become your reality. You stand alone as the rubble surrounds you and there you are, an island.

“So what now?” you wonder.

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Part 2: History of the Soul

If you just joined us, you’ve happened upon an attempt to cover the vast ocean of contributions to what we know as the ‘soul’ today.

Quick recap: initial consideration of the soul began circa 200,000 BC, which lead to organized religion circa 9831 BC. Earliest written records date to around this time, and the first human considerations of the soul, religion and afterlife are evident from the remnants of ancient Egyptian culture. Worldwide, a boom in philosophical thought took place circa 5th century, which lead to Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and many other religions common today. We have this philosophical boom to thank in large part for Western concepts of Dualism. There isn’t much to note about the soul between the 5th and 16th centuries due the advent of monotheistic religions, which diverted focus from the individual soul to an omnipotent God. We last left off in the 17th and 18th centuries with Descartes and scientific research on the pineal gland.

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Part 1: History of the Soul

Do you believe you have a soul?

That all living things have souls (Animist religions)? That all living things have souls, but only human souls pass on to an afterlife, like supporters of Christianity and many—if not all—Abrahamic religions? That all things have souls resurrected within different forms depending on their karma, like Buddhists, Hindus, Jainists, etc.? Ever wonder just how the concept of this thing we call a ‘soul’ has evolved throughout the ages? Where did the soul begin?

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What’s your perception of depression?

Depression sucks. It sucks the life out of you, leaving you wondering if you will ever find happiness, energy or motivation; You may even question if you deserve the things you so earnestly desire. Sometimes depression can last a little while and at other times it seems endless. Depression causes real problems that can affect every part of a person’s life. Some believe that depression is an ‘addiction’ to self-pity, a downward spiral based on recurring thoughts that a person is never good enough and that the world is against them. Dr. Grieger calls the phenomenon a ‘victim’ mindset, where a person refuses to take responsibility for themselves or their happiness (consciously or not), and blames their problems on circumstances or people. Others like world renowned life coach Anthony Robbins refers to it as ‘learned helplessness;’ a person fails at something, repeatedly, whether by their own fault or not, and ‘learns’ that what they do doesn’t matter. So they stop trying. Some people view depression as a serious illness that has specific causes and treatments. They identify depression as a medical malady that requires medication, sometimes therapy, and then is over and done with. Others think that depression is just a mood that hits now and then, but will eventually pass, whether action is taken or not. The range of perspectives pertaining to depression are vast.

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What happens in our brain when we try to decide

It was Saturday morning and I was on my way to meet Caroline for brunch. It had been a while since I saw her and in order to express my apology for being such a ghost, and such a terrible friend, I told her I’d save her a trip on the bus and that I’d pick her up in my Suzuki; I wanted to provide the best door-to-door service. As we sat down at the table in Apertif in Bayside, Queens, the waiter arrived with our water, as well as.. *play dramatic music* our menus. I knew this feeling all too well. Oh, what it meant to be paralyzed by indecision. There I sat, intimidated by a list of food items, and the complimentary croissant that was placed on my side plate remained untouched.

“Should I get the flatboard or the sandwhich?,” I thought to myself. I wondered if it was possible to get mushrooms on the sandwich, instead of ordering the flatbread. “Then again, there’s brie on the sandwhich, would mushrooms go well with brie?,” I pondered hopelessly. I wanted to design my own sandwich and then I thought about what a nightmare of a customer I’d be. This wasn’t a deli. Dare I be so inconsiderate? My order didn’t require many changes (although please, no onions), decision making just pained me. I didn’t have the stomach for it nor enough time to weigh all the options. What was my belly in the mood for? I hate to say but I wasn’t sure.

This was where the work came in. The work I started five years ago. I had to talk myself into making a decision. I had to force myself. How much of my own life could I possibly miss due to this absurd anxiety? When the waiter arrived with our mimosas, Caroline and I said a toast. When he asked if I was ready, I had decided: “Two minutes.” (Intro by Cheyenne Burroughs)

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Formula for Success: Myth or Reality?

The question of what allows a person to be successful is a question that has been asked of many people, who have sought the answer that would allow them a long, prosperous life. The answer is rarely simple, since what defines success is difficult to measure. Whether one talks about financial success or popularity or perhaps some other goal they seek to achieve, how one would be able to attain this goal would probably be the underlying definition of what it means to be successful. What creates a successful person? Their innate personality or their environment? To answer that question, one has to look at another old question, often asked in psychology:

Nature or nurture?

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