Self-Help

Faking Happiness Makes Your Unhappiness Transparent

Trying to fool people you’re happy when you’re not is a self-sabotaging practice; you’re deceiving nobody and denying yourself time, space, and opportunities to heal and grow. Ostentatious displays of imaginary “happiness,” especially following tragedy or heartbreak, does not reveal true happiness: it exposes your cowardice, your unwillingness to sit with the pain, the heartache you’re confronting.

Even though the pain of tragedy or heartbreak is unsettling, one should never resort to facades, misrepresentations. Sit with your pain in private first, and when you’ve given yourself the proper time, space, and opportunities to heal and grow, then you can publicly share your authentic happiness or demonstrable progress towards it.

Loss, betrayal, dishonesty—all dimensions of the human condition we face. How we respond to them determines how we emerge from them. Do you want to emerge more liberated, more empowered from them, or do you want to live imprisoned in self-doubt, eternally vexed by your toxic response to them?

Fake it until you make it—a vain, otiose philosophy—spoils any chance you have to advance beyond unhappiness. In fact, this fallacious and disingenuous philosophy is rooted in unhappiness.

You cannot experience emancipation when you’re committed to shackling yourself to unhappiness. The previous sentence evokes Audre Lorde’s powerful statement of resistance to enslaving one’s self to the control of an enemy: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” Unhappiness cannot be eradicated with the tools of unhappiness.

In the midst of your storm, find hope, hope in what’s possible beyond the storm. The storm can be ephemeral; the storm can be surprisingly enriching. Your commitment to truth in the storm will lead you safely on the other side of it. On the side of the storm is joy, peace, and gratitude.

Joy is enduring and more fulfilling than happiness. To arrive usher in happiness, one must begin a serious gratitude praxis, a praxis that ultimately leads to joy.

When you embrace gratitude, a life of gratitude, you enjoy the beauty of life: you savor victories and effectively process disappointments. Disappointments are natural human experiences, but we should never live in fear of disappointments; we should live in expectation of one thing—the good.

A spirit that expects the good, found in the heart of a person committed to permitting herself or himself to receive the fruits of truth, love, and justice, is necessary to maintain joy and peace.

Allow nobody or anything to displace you from joy and peace.

Always remain honest with yourself.

Although in this late stage of capitalism, where Guy Debord’s notion of “the society of the spectacle” is decidedly more pronounced, you may feel compelled to project a phony public image, which leads you to becoming nothing more than a spectacle, love yourself enough to give the world your truth. If you’re not happy, then don’t display a happy facade.

Give the world your best—even if your best is a temporary period of unhappiness. The world knows you’re human; don’t try to be a robot, falling prey to self-deceit. 

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison  

Don’t Let Disappointment Defeat You

Overcoming Disappointment
Photo Credit: Everyday Feminism

Disappointment is a natural part of the human experience; take time to learn from it—never hide from what it invites you to confront. One grows stronger when he or she learns to discover what disappointment offers, but fear causes people to attempt to bury the initial pain and restlessness it materializes. The pain indicates an undesirable, yet necessary pressing against love residing in you; the restlessness, love striving toward healing. Given a chance to run their natural course, pain and restlessness buttress your interior life: they engender resiliency, crucial to surviving and thriving in an often callous world.

Resisting the perception of vulnerability as weakness, a chink in your spiritual armor, inadequate emotional intelligence necessitates courage. To be fearless in the face of adversity, fill yourself up on faith and hope, joy and thanksgiving, rest and gratitude. Doubt, failing to develop a critical reflective praxis, denying vulnerability time and space to speak—all stifle your progress. Extracting value from disappointment requires one to use her or his organic processing tools—reading, writing, and meditating—leading to a higher, more enlightened self.

After reading yourself through disappointment, after writing yourself through heartache, and after meditating yourself through the unpleasant experience, you birth essential knowledge about resistance, resistance to malevolent forces aiming to destroy you. This knowledge of resistance grants you power to shine light into darkness, power to bring tranquility to tottering people and places—and regimes on the brink of ruin.

When you offer peace to chaotic people and places, two guiding principles are important to maintain: stay focused on the mission and understand that you will face opposition—often formidable opposition. Recognize that your opponents, those trying to thwart your continuous progress, suffer from brokenness, requiring someone like you, someone committed to truth, love, and justice, to move them from a barren place to a fecund place.

Misunderstood by many, disappointment torments people. Frightened, they become docile bodies held captive by it. At some point, however, these docile bodies must shatter the manacles of oppression and depression disappointment imposes.

Bondage, it’s dreadful. The more one surrenders to subjugation, the more she or he will accept it. What subjugated people fail to resist, they fail to comprehend.

Mentally and spiritually enslaved people, blinded by ignorance, face inevitable destruction—unless liberators come to their rescue. Resistance can crush bondage. But how? By unseating the false authority granted to bondage.

You have the power to dethrone disappointment’s reign of terror in your life.

What’s holding you back, though?

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison    

Liberate Yourself from People Using You

Photo Credit: Los Angeles Post-Examiner

When you transition to living a life free from allowing folks to take advantage of you, it’s a liberating experience. It’s not about revenge against those individuals who have used you; it’s about giving yourself a chance to be, to live, to breathe. If you’re living a life where you’re constantly serving every beck and call of others, then it’s time to stop. In fact, it has been time for you to end such an unhealthy, unproductive lifestyle.

Recognize that people will continue to take advantage of you as long as you allow them. You must muster the will and courage to stop doing this to yourself. After all, those people who have used you could only do what you permitted.

Once you close the door to users ever being able to use you again, leave that door closed forever.

When you’ve truly given yourself an opportunity to live free from leeches, folks always with their hands out looking for what you can do for them, it’s time for you to celebrate. Celebrate what? Celebrate your newfound freedom, or the rediscovering of such freedom. You deserve it!

You don’t have to announce you’ve closed that door to those individuals forever. Let your actions inform them. When they see your actions speaking, they will see your new liberated self.

People will start to realize they need to give you something before you continue to pour into their lives. This new liberated self isn’t about embracing selfishness—it’s about granting yourself the right to experience personal equity and justice. One shouldn’t passionately fight for equity and justice for others and not extend that same equity and justice to herself or himself.

Yes, those who have used you will begin to make some of the following comments: “You’re acting funny now,” “You’re acting brand new now,” “You weren’t really for me in the first place,” and “You weren’t doing things for me out of the kindness of your heart; you were always looking for something in return.” That last comment really strives to make you feel guilty and compel you to return to a life of bondage.

Never taste the sweet nectar of freedom and then revert to bondage.

Fight for you; fight for your freedom.

If people who have only taken from you want something now, respond to them by inquiring about what they plan to do for you in exchange for what they desire. This dramatically changes the power dynamics: it moves you from being a pushover to the person who holds all the cards.

When you understand that you hold all the cards, you will exercise your power to thwart attempts to victimize you.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison   

Make Some Sacrifices to Get What You Want

Quid Pro Quo

                                     Photo Credit: Minnesota Lawyer

Although you may hold a position that you are not willing to do something someone wants you to do to obtain something you desire, you may want to consider making a sacrifice for it. Yes, this defies conventional wisdom: don’t sacrifice your values; don’t sacrifice who you are for anyone and anything. Is what you need to do to receive what you want really forcing you to sacrifice your values and/or who you are? Face this reality: Successful people take risks and make sacrifices.

Don’t do nothing to risk your life or health, however.

In our present reality, you have to give something to receive something. Although during the impeachment proceedings for President Donald Trump the notion of quid pro quo, “a favor for a favor,” has become a dirty term, a quid pro quo in many contexts is fair. As long as the favor on one side is equal to the favor on the other side, a quid pro quo shouldn’t be viewed as a problem; in fact, it’s fair.

Too many folks want something for nothing. While I am a philanthropist and give much of my time to charitable causes and helping others, I understand how damaging it can be to one’s life when your giving and receiving are in a chaotic imbalance. You cannot pour from an empty vessel. When you are constantly giving and never receiving anything, you’re not taking care of yourself.  Unfortunately, when you need something from the same folks you have helped, most of those folks will not be there to help you.

For over 32 years, I have been a person who has given and given to people—with little being received in return. It’s time for me and others like me to stop feeling guilty about asking people to give us something in return for what they want from us. You’re not a criminal for looking for something in return from others who want huge favors from you. Be kind to yourself by treating yourself justly and demanding others to treat you justly.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Emily P. Freeman’s The Next Right Thing: A Summary

The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman

Photo Credit: Amazon

Emily P. Freeman’s The Next Right Thing (2019) offers readers important insights about how to make successful decisions. The book strives to help readers see decision making as an opportunity for spiritual growth. For Freeman, one can find peace even when it does not seem possible. The author contends that doing the next right thing is about moving one’s focus from outcomes to the present moment.

When a person removes distractions, Freeman argues that he or she can better understand inner experiences.

If an individual is not being real with himself or herself, the author asserts that God is not able to reveal what He desires to communicate to him or her in the present moment.

The Next Right Thing challenges the reader to question his or her desires and motivations. Freeman believes that questioning one’s desires and motivations allows him or her to find clarity on their spiritual paths. This does, however, require one to be candid with himself or herself.

Freeman recommends that one invest more time in listening to his or her believers rather than critics. She asserts that keeping yourself uplifted with positive words of others empowers you to arrive at the heart of the person you really are.

The writer values surprises, for they, she argues, more often permit one to resolve decision making chaos than perceived clarity does. The book emphasizes that it is not wise to expect clarity about every detail of the future, considering life unfolds in complex and unpredictable ways.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison  

Are You Experiencing Discrimination at Work? Signs and What to Do about It

Workplace Discrimination

When one experiences workplace discrimination, it can be disheartening. For the victim, lost income, reduced work productivity and dissatisfaction, isolation, stress, and unemployment or underemployment often result. Places where workplace discrimination occurs frequently suffer from low employee morale, high turnover, and unfavorable productivity. Since work is an important part of true inclusion in our society, one must highlight how workplace discrimination divides and marginalizes people, both as individuals and groups.

What is Illegal Workplace Discrimination?

To count as discrimination in the legal sense, actions must violate legal protections. All U.S. workers are protected by federal law, which specifically forbids discrimination based on color, national origin, race, religion, sex, mental or physical disability, genetic information, pregnancy, or parenthood.

State laws also protect workers from discrimination based on those characteristics, plus other ones enacted by state legislatures. For example, many states have laws forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation. Also, many cities have laws that specifically prohibit other forms of workplace discrimination.

What are the Signs of Workplace Discrimination?

Signs of workplace discrimination may be overt and/or subtle. For example, a boss directly hinging a promotion on sexual favors would be overt sexual discrimination and harassment. A boss hinting about sexual favors and then claiming an employee who didn’t respond has poor work performance would be a more subtle form of sexual discrimination and harassment.

While overt signs of workplace discrimination are clear, subtle signs often start with small phenomena and then increase over time, frequently engendering a hostile and unhealthy atmosphere. Subtle signs often reveal themselves as patterns. For example, a male employee may make increasingly offensive comments about a female coworker after she refused to date him. The comments may begin as ones open to interpretation, but, over time, the harasser continues the pattern while his comments grow increasingly offensive, which constitutes a clear case of sexual harassment.

Signs of workplace discrimination often manifest themselves in adverse actions taken against an employee. Adverse actions include disciplinary action, failure to promote, demotion, unlawful retaliation, failure to accommodate protected leave, and wrongful termination. Because of equal opportunity employment safeguards, when an adverse action is taken on the basis of a protected characteristic, bad actors usually try to camouflage their discriminatory conduct by claiming a pretext for the adverse action.

A manager, for example, may refuse to promote a woman who earned a higher position because he thinks women are inferior leaders, which violates the law. To cover his tracks, he may give her an unjustified poor performance review and then use it as a pretext to deny the promotion. An adverse action paired with a pretext is a conspicuous sign of discrimination.

What Should Discrimination Victims Do about It?

Though a natural fear of rocking the proverbial boat can emerge, discrimination victims should contact their organization’s human resources department or a company manager. Once the employee has notified the human resources director, the company becomes obligated to investigate and correct any illegal discrimination. In many organizations, this solves the problem; in others, unfortunately, it yields no real change. Human resources departments are to intervene in ways that protect victims and rectify their problems.

In other organizations, investigations may favor the harasser because of power dynamics, politics, and other reasons. In this case, victims should consult an employment lawyer immediately. An employment attorney can inform victims about options available.

Victims of discrimination can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and/or their state’s Department of Human Rights. These agencies will investigate and attempt to settle the matter. If the matter cannot be settled by the agencies, victims can file a lawsuit in state or federal court.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Resources Consulted

The Balance

Law Offices of Jeremy Pasternak

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The American Association of University Women

The Nest

What You Need to Know When Going Back to School as an Adult

Working Adult College Students

It’s never too late to obtain a degree, but going back to school as an adult can be difficult. As an adult, you may have many other responsibilities that your (much younger) fellow students don’t have, such as a full-time job, career or parenting responsibilities. Even if you can devote yourself entirely to being a full-time student, you may still feel like a duck out of the water. Whether you’re jumping into a four-year degree program, or you think it might be a good idea to take some online classes. Here are three things you need to know when going back to school as an adult.

Talk to an Advisor before Registering or Enrolling

As an adult, your educational needs will most likely be strictly academic rather than both academic and social. While an incoming college first-year student might benefit from living on campus and staying at one school for all four years, your best option might be to take online classes at a community college before enrolling at a four-year institution. Speaking with a college admissions counselor may help.

Also, Collegewise counselors are passionate about “creating customized plans and setting deadlines to ensure that students complete their applications and essays thoughtfully, effectively, and early.” 

You May be Exempt from Some Classes Based on Experience

Adults have the benefit of work experience that most first-year college students do not possess. Another way college admissions counseling can help you is in determining if any of your applicable work experience might exempt you from having to take certain classes. The fewer classes you have to take, the sooner you can obtain your degree and the less that degree will cost you.

It’s Going to be a Big Change

Working adults who become college students must alter the lifestyles. How often do you need to take your work home? If often, then you may find it difficult to set aside time for research and homework after you arrive home from work. Although it may seem unmanageable to work a full-time job and attend college, you can manage both. With careful time management and dedicated preparation, you can do it. Think of the goal at the end to keep yourself in high spirits, and try to enjoy the shift in the atmosphere of the classroom versus the workplace.

Remember, receiving academic advising from an experienced higher education professional is critical to a first-time student’s success. While effective college admissions counseling isn’t the sexiest topic, it can make the difference between satisfying college experience and an unsatisfying one.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

How the Choices You Make Can Turn Your World Upside Down

Consequences of Choices

Choices have consequences; therefore, think before you act. The decisions a person makes can have a positive or negative outcome. Either way, it’s wise to select the right choices so you can be sure you’re on the right path. Here are some reasons why you should think before you act.

Committing a Crime

It might be intensely entertaining to watch someone commit a crime in a movie. The criminal seems brave and daring with a horrible attitude. Remember it is acting, thus stimulating your imagination, not reality. In your everyday, real life, committing a crime can change your life. You could go to jail or even prison. Legal action may be required, and you might need an attorney to represent you. Make intelligent decisions to avoid criminal activity.

Have quality friends, friends devoted to engaging in productive phenomena. Really cogitate about how your friends and family would feel about your poor choices. Would they be ashamed or feel sad that you ruined your life? Think about how the consequences of your actions could affect other people.

Severe Punishment

Spending even a small amount of time in jail isn’t in any way easy. Prison time can prove so trying, so mind-altering that an individual can decide to continue violating the law even after returning to civil society. Another prisoner may have learned a harsh lesson and choose to become more spiritual.

Even if you aren’t arrested, committing a crime can change your life. Your conscience will bother you whether you notice it or not. It could manifest itself in ways you don’t see. It could even lead to self-destruction: you possibly falling prey to alcoholism, substance abuse or worse.

Losing Everything

As if being in jail or prison isn’t awful enough, you’re friends and family could sever communication with you. Most people don’t want to communicate and hang around unsavory individuals. Law-abiding people don’t particularly enjoy tolerating someone with malevolent intentions. When you intentionally engage in pernicious activities, one practical reality is you can (and inevitably will) lose your job. Failing to reform your behavior, therefore, might just leave you broke, busted and disgusted.

Is that all you want for your life? Hopefully not.  

If you have problems with self-control, you might want to see a trusted therapist. Learn to love yourself because that’s who you’ll be hurting the most in the end.

Educate yourself on moral and ethical conduct by reading books and attending classes that offer sound advice and instruction on ordering your life in ways reflective of authentic love, truth, and justice. 

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Resources Consulted

Law Offices of Jeff C. Kennedy

Sam Silverstein

Thought Catalog

Pick the Brain

 

Eliminating Toxic Relationships: Banishing Takers

Relationship Problems

(Photo Credit: Sandra Henderson)

Toxic relationships are harmful to your health and life. When you’re continuously giving to someone, and hardly ever receiving from him or her, that’s a toxic relationship; that’s a toxic imbalance. A person like this is a “Taker,” an individual who only values what he or she can receive from you. Takers don’t care about what’s going on in your life and what you may need; they’re only interested in how you can serve them. Mark the “Takers” in your life and flee from them.

Wise Up! You’re Being Robbed

While these Takers, these leeches are robbing you of your time, energy, money, health, and more, they’re progressing in life; however, you’re remaining stagnant or regressing. Are you investing so much in a person that you’re not passionately pursuing your own dreams and aspirations? Have you lost so much time, so much energy, so much of yourself investing in selfish people? Face the facts: They’re robbing you, and you’re letting them do it. Release yourself from the prison of Takers.

Takers Will Question Your Character and Commitment

When you finally release yourself from this carceral bondage, Takers will question your character, deceptively asserting that you’re not a good person because you’re no longer going to let them rob you of your value. Also, they will attempt to characterize you as selfish—as not having a true commitment to helping people. Well, you carried their butts for years and made them who they are today, so they know that isn’t true.

Because Takers are full of wicked pride and have fragile egos and self-esteem, you can shut them up by candidly letting them know that you made them. Yes, let them know you made them. You owe it to yourself, considering you gave so much to them over the years, to claim what you made, what you built: them. Since they don’t want to give you proper credit, and act as if they just arrived at their current station in life on their own, help to disabuse them of their self-delusions, their falsehoods: boldly tell them you made them, you built them. After you do this, they will not bother you much longer. Why? Because they’re exposed.

Invest in Yourself

A person who really knows his or her value and who really loves himself or herself will seriously invest in himself or herself. Don’t let no one and nothing keep you from living your best life, a life where you’re operating deftly and zealously—without any shackles—in your vocation. Spend the remainder of your life being the best version of you. This, of course, does not mean for you to become a selfish person; however, it does mean devote essential attention to your dreams and aspirations.

Conclusion: Seize the Day

If you’ve never read Robert Herrick’s poem “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time,” a classic carpe diem, a Latin aphorism typically translated as “seize the day,” poem urging people to make the most of the present moment, then please read it immediately. Herrick understands that humans have no time to waste. Stop wasting your time on selfish people. Love yourself enough to invest in yourself.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Pop-Up Sermon: Stop Crippling People

Stressful Practices

(Photo Credit: Odyssey)

Although a true commitment to helping people is commendable, don’t become their crutch—don’t cripple them. At some point, you have to allow them to do things on their own. Yes, show them how it’s done, and then leave them to demonstrate that they want to put your teaching into practice. If you fail to end an unhealthy practice of attempting to solve everyone’s problems, or fail to discontinue doing everything they don’t want to or cannot do, then you’re placing yourself on a path to experiencing serious mental health issues (if you don’t already have them).

When will people ever grow if you never give them an opportunity?

Without a change of these toxic practices, people will take advantage of you—and you may never recognize it. You will inevitably destroy your body by trying to be a Superman or Superwoman for everyone. Let me take a moment to unsettle you: you’re really not a Superman or Superwoman—you’re really a “do-boy” or “do-girl,” meaning you’re getting used, hoodwinked, bamboozled.

Ameliorate the quality of your life by teaching people how to execute tasks, and then let them do the work. Learn to be more than a crutch for others.

#PopUpSermon

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison