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“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.” – Soren Kierkegaard

We don’t grow by remaining stagnant, doing the same things, keeping to our routines and staying in our safety zones. Growth comes from doing things differently, thinking and acting outside the box and taking risks. Risks may bring rewards, but risks may also bring failure and embarrassment. As the poet Mary Oliver asked: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Do you plan to remain in your comfort zone OR stretch yourself?

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“Life is too short to be in a hurry.” – Henry David Thoreau

“And so taking the long way home through the market I slow my pace down. It doesn’t come naturally. My legs are programmed to trot briskly and my arms to pump up and down like pistons, but I force myself to stroll past the stalls and pavement cafes. To enjoy just being somewhere, rather than rushing from somewhere, to somewhere. Inhaling deep lungfuls of air, instead of my usual shallow breaths. I take a moment to just stop and look around me. And smile to myself…For the first time in a long time, I can, quite literally, smell the coffee.”―Alexandra Potter, The Two Lives of Miss Charlotte Merryweather

Do you tend to act hastily OR make an effort to slow down?

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“Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us.” – Stephen Colbert

In every life, we encounter honest and dishonest people and have positive and negative experiences. Over time, as a defense, some of us may develop a cynical attitude, believing that people are motivated by self-interest, and distrusting their sincerity. While our cynicism may protect us from getting hurt, it also creates a wall against experiencing authentic connections with others. And that’s a heavy price to pay for protecting ourselves.

Do you tend to be cynical OR open and sincere?

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“Nothing is predestined: The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings.” – Ralph Blum

Each one of us has our own personal history. You could say that we are the sum total of our experiences. And while the past has untold influence on us, it does not create our futures. We do — through our actions, intentions and dreams. In the words of Henry David Thoreau:”I learned this… that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Do you tie yourself to your past OR create your future?

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“Holding back our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can place people at risk for minor and major diseases.” – James Pennebaker

Express yourself. While silence is sometimes the right option, it is more often than not better to say what’s on your mind. Open up. Don’t hold back. Easier said than done! To openly express oneself is to take a risk. And while the risk may bring the rewards of closeness, intimacy and satisfaction, they may also bring judgement, embarrassment and hurt. Businessman Bernard Baruch advised: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

How are you at expressing yourself? Do you tend to suppress OR express?