101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think

101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think

by Brianna Wiest

This book will change how you see and experience the world, your life, and your behavior. The book covers a wide range of subjects, such as why choosing purpose over passion is important, how to look for the good in tough situations, the importance of routine and simplicity, and consistency. It also offers profound insights about love and relationships, advice on creating habits, how to recognize the impact of your own cognitive biases, and more! By reading this, you will no longer see things the same way, and you will be able to create a better and happier life you could ever imagine.

Summary Notes

Essays On Emotions

“Real emotional maturity is how thoroughly you let yourself feel anything.”

Our inability to understand our feelings is a significant source of stress since emotions affect all aspects of our existence. Usually, people tend to think of unpleasant emotions as their enemies, which is why they tend to suppress them. However, suppression is the least effective technique to regulate emotions. Some signs that may indicate you are suppressing your emotions are indecision, procrastination, constant comparison with others, unpredictable outbursts of emotions, social anxiety, etc.

Emotional suppression is the act of ignoring or rejecting your emotions. This is dangerous, as emotions are survival reactions. Take fear, for example. While feeling fear may be unpleasant, it’s actually helpful in recognizing and running away from life-threatening situations. This explains why denying or avoiding your emotions are not the best steps to take when dealing with them. If you try, they will not go unnoticed; instead, they will find another way to get your attention.

Remember that all your emotions have a purpose and may signal you something. When you feel bad, for example, it means that something is wrong. The emotion calls your attention to what needs to be fixed or changed. If you don't pay attention to that signal and message, you won't be able to make the changes you need for your well-being.

Emotionally intelligent people don’t ignore their emotions but carefully listen to their messages and work with them. They also know that their emotions and thoughts are not the reality; but rather their interpretation of it. That’s why they choose how they will perceive things. They don’t assign value to everything they feel. They don't use logic to argue against their feelings. Instead, they acknowledge their feelings. They look at their thoughts objectively and do not identify with them.

Actions to take

Essays On Happiness

“Happiness is not only how we can astound our senses, but also the peace of mind that comes from knowing we are becoming who we want and need to be.”

There are three forms of happiness: the happiness of pleasure, grace, and excellence.

The happiness of pleasure is derived from sensory pleasures, such as a good meal. The happiness of grace, on the other hand, is derived from gratitude for all that we have in life. Finally, we have the purest form of sustainable happiness—the happiness of excellence. This is derived from falling in love with the journey rather than your destination.

While we all seek happiness, we often fail to reach it because of our false assumption about it: we believe that happiness is found in consistently achieving particular triumphs and goals. Sure, we feel happy when we accomplish goals, but this happiness is only temporary and unsustainable. If we truly want to be happy, we should not link happiness to success but to intangibles like a sense of purpose, belonging, and love. This way, happiness becomes a choice: we choose to cultivate things that fulfill us, that are challenging, meaningful, beautiful, and worthy.

We need to quit seeking happiness and instead include things in our daily lives that help us live with purpose and values. Instead of looking for happiness, we could look for knowledge, clear thinking skills, ways to build strong, meaningful relationships with those we care about, etc. This is what gives our lives meaning and provides us with a sense of long-term happiness and contentment.

Happiness is thus a lifestyle made of activities that enrich us and bring us closer to the things we value and enjoy most. In other words, the key to long-term happiness is self-actualization (the happiness of excellence). To be truly happy, you should know who you are and what you want. It means knowing what you want to the point where not doing it is no longer an option. It is the ability to define your values and build your life around them.

Actions to take

Essays On Purpose

“Feeling lost or like you “don’t know what you’re doing” is only solved by learning to think about things differently.”

People strive to find purpose in life, but sometimes it doesn’t work. If you don't know what you are doing with your life and cannot find meaning and purpose, don't worry; the truth is that nobody really knows what they are doing with their lives. We can plan and predict our future, but it is not certain that things will go as planned.

Too often, we get disappointed with ourselves for not achieving what we originally planned. However, our needs and desires change over time, so you don't owe anything to your younger self. What you do today, what you love, and what fulfills you now are all that matter most.

When you don't accept how things turned out, you feel "lost." To find yourself again, you should accept what happened, stop planning some big life purpose, and instead keep focusing on what you like to do today. For example, J.K. Rowling was writing a book for her kids; she had no clue she'd become a famous novelist. Steve Jobs never imagined that manufacturing computers in his garage would revolutionize how people use technology.

We waste time thinking about what we should do to achieve some higher purpose in life. It keeps us from making progress and doing something useful. Clarity comes from doing, not pondering about doing. Living well means making the most of what you have now. Living well is more about simply being than about achieving anything.

When we seek a higher purpose, we put pressure on ourselves to be extraordinary; however, we can find a fulfilling and calm life by appreciating the ordinary things that bring us joy without worrying that we should accomplish something significant.

Actions to take

Essays On Worry And Anxiety

“Anxiety is being disconnected from the present moment, other people, or yourself.”

Most of us tend to seek comfort, thinking that it will keep us secure. However, there’s no ultimate security. Our bodies are meant to change; our possessions are impermanent. And we cannot always be confident of anything, no matter how hard we try.

People who overcome their worries are those who decide to try something despite their uncertainty and anxiety, while others remain hidden in their comfort zones due to fear. They realize that going into the unknown is the only way to progress. So they allow themselves to step outside of their comfort zone and overcome their fears.

Fears are sometimes guideposts—they show us what we need. For example, if we are afraid of being alone, it means we need a deep connection with someone. Anxiety comes from a lack of connection to reality, other people, and identity. To heal, you need to reconnect with life by staying in touch with the people in it and figuring out your deepest needs and wants. Uncomfortable feelings are a sign that you are about to embark on something greater and fresh, but you must act.

Not moving is the worst thing you can do. You should do whatever it takes to get your anxieties and issues resolved. If you don't face your difficulties head-on, you're just running away and giving up on your life and yourself.

You can begin with something as simple as a journal where you can note your worries. You'll discover as you write that your concerns are primarily future-related. Anxiety is a warning sign that we are living in the past or the future too much. The way out is to live in the present moment and change your perspective on things that make you anxious.

Actions to take

Essays On Self Esteem and Self Love

“Self-esteem is knowing that we can determine our own course and that we can travel that course.”

Self-esteem is what provides us with a sense of well-being. It's a belief that we have the ability to chart our own course and follow it. Self-esteem is not how confident you are in how others will see you; it is how confident you are.

One thing that destroys self-esteem is building our self-worth based on other people's comments and opinions. You have to treat yourself well, especially when it seems like you don't deserve it.

You should give up thinking that being at peace with yourself requires the approval of others. Remember that people often base their judgments, particularly unfavorable ones, on what they know they lack. No matter how long it takes you to uncover them, you must finally stop basing your sense of value on other people's insecurities; instead, begin basing it on your own sincere beliefs.

Personal value is built based on evidence; we need to look back at situations that prove to us that we have succeeded many times. Some examples of evidence are:

  • You've accomplished something you once thought unattainable or a dream come true.
  • You forget what you've been through because it's no longer a concern.
  • The worst has ended, and you made it through. For example, you continued to live after losing someone you couldn't live without, etc.

When it comes to self-esteem, we must first establish two foundations: self-respect (the belief that you deserve to feel pleasure) and self-efficacy (the belief that you can deal with life's problems and obstacles). Building our self-esteem takes time and process. The good news is that there are six practices that can help you with that: living consciously, accepting yourself, having self-responsibility, being assertive with yourself, living life mindfully, and building personal integrity.

Actions to take

Essays On Thoughts And Beliefs

There are psychological biases that prohibit us from perceiving reality as it is:

  • Confirmation: It occurs when we selectively listen to information that confirms or validates our views.
  • Projection: Because we only perceive the world via our senses and psyches, we project our desires and consciousness onto what we see and interpret it.
  • Extrapolation: This is when we look at the way things are right now and think they will always be that way.
  • Anchoring: This occurs when we are too impacted by the first part of the information we hear.

Understanding these biases helps us think more clearly and eliminate the bad feelings that (often irrational) thoughts give us. But how do we deal with irrational thoughts? Simply by noticing the difference between what's happening right now and what you're thinking about.

Usually, our anxieties are primarily caused by shame—we feel wrong about ourselves or what we’re doing, which drives us to fix or change them. Often, we have these kinds of strange, incorrect, and unsettling ideas that have nothing to do with reality. However, it’s important to remember that our thoughts are often illusions. Think about it: How many things you’ve worried about have never happened? Chances are, there are a lot. To prevent yourself from thinking like this, you can practice rational, objective thinking.

Sometimes the only problem with our lives is how we think of them. We think more than we live. We analyze issues more than you solve them. We don't value everything we have achieved and received, which was once our big wish, but we quickly move on to other wishes. We focus on the goals instead of enjoying the journey to the goal. Before taking action, we wait to be inspired or motivated. But if we change these thoughts, we can improve our lives.

Actions to take

Essays On Love And Relationship Issues

“The purpose of a relationship is to see ourselves completely. It is to see the parts of ourselves that we are otherwise unconscious of.”

If you’re tired of fighting for someone’s love, you may need to shift your focus from receiving affection to giving it. After all, love doesn't arrive, and you can't simply earn it from someone else. When someone doesn't show you love, you may attempt to alter it (and be trapped), or you can keep providing love (which will let you move on). When you want to blame yourself for not receiving enough affection, consider how much you're giving.

Now, if you’re someone who doesn't yet have the love you want, there may be a few reasons behind it, such as:

  • When you have a vision of what love should be, you frequently use it to soothe insecurity, avoid reality, or prove yourself to others. Love isn't intended to look a specific way; therefore, it never does.
  • You believe love is a wonderful sensation but a condition of body, mind, and soul.
  • You don't realize that for love to flourish, both people's love hormones must operate. Even under ideal circumstances, love cannot develop if the hormonal reactions are incompatible.
  • You want your life to be changed by love. You want it to offer you stability, security, hope, and happiness because you believe you can't provide such things to yourself.

On our journey toward finding love, we may encounter situations where we want to choose people who cannot love us back. Usually, this stems from our desire to prove to ourselves that we deserve love. After all, a relationship isn’t meant to make us whole or joyful, but to point out the places in ourselves that need work. When we’re with people who don’t love us back, we become more aware of our flaws and our darkest parts. This enables us to fix ourselves on our own.

Aside from choosing those people who cannot love us back, we may also wonder how we fall out of love with the idea of someone. Well, it all comes down to the idea that our romantic partner will support our needs, fix some parts of us, compensate for some deficiencies, make us feel better about ourselves, etc. This idea, however, will only cause us pain when we part ways with those people because we tend to believe they made us a complete person and the best version of ourselves when, in fact, they did not. In reality, we don’t need anyone to achieve that.

Actions to take

Essays On Self-Awareness and Life-Calling Discovery

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate.”

To create a meaningful life, we should work on self-awareness and self-discovery. We should define what job fulfills us, what motivates us to do it, what kind of person we want to be, how we want to be remembered, and what our life's calling or purpose is.

When we think about our ideal life, we think about titles and positions instead of responsibilities and roles. It is important to consider whether performing all of these tasks daily, as associated with the desired title, fulfills us. For example, instead of aiming to get the title of a doctor, ask yourself “Do you like doing all the duties of being a doctor?”

Self-discovery and creating a meaningful life include change. People want to change their lives, but not themselves. Every time you have an issue in your life, it is because of how you think, feel, or react. Any benefit you believe you are not getting is a direct result of any assistance you are not providing. So, you must offer where you believe you are lacking. If you desire more acclaim, you should acknowledge others. You should give more love if you seek love. So, you should provide what you expect in return.

We all have a voice inside of us and a sense of what is right for us. Sometimes we don't know why we like or dislike something, but we shouldn't try to find out why. Instead, we should just listen to that inner voice and follow it.

Actions to take

Essays On Expectations

“There is no such thing as letting go; there’s just accepting what’s already gone.”

When we let go of certain expectations, life becomes much easier and more pleasant. Here are a few examples of expectations to let go of:

  • “I should be extraordinary.” Persons of extraordinary caliber are, by definition, uncommon. Realizing this doesn't mean you're giving up on your potential; rather, it means you're letting go of false notions of who you need to be to thrive.
  • “I can be whatever I want.” You can’t, but if you work hard, don't give up, and are born into the right circumstances, you can combine your skills and interests.
  • “I can control how other people think of me.” People will always think according to their subjective perceptions.
  • “Hard work guarantees success.” Sometimes it simply doesn’t.
  • “Other people cause my emotions.” Your emotions are determined by how you view things and occurrences.

Remember that wasting time on such expectations will not bring you genuine happiness and progress. That is why it is necessary to let them go and move on.

Actions to take

Essays On Habits, Motivation, And Success

“While natural skill is more or less something you’re born with, self-control is something you develop.”

The most significant, freeing thing any of us can do is decide to think that everything is working to our benefit. You might think of yourself as a helpless victim of life or as someone who has been given a chance to grow and learn. No one is sure to have a happy life. We have to make meaning if we want it. If we want peace, we must believe there is a reason for our suffering. This mindset pushes us to get through life's problems and move forward on the path to success.

Success is more a function of habits than of talent. To be successful at something, you must practice it frequently. Experts differ from others because they have a lot of self-control, a structured routine, self-discipline, and strong determination. While we have limited self-control, we can extend it with practice and by using our time wisely. We may avoid unneeded decisions, limit distractions, and minimize what's unimportant.

We all have different goals in life, but if we want to be truly happy, we only need to set goals that are more about enjoying what we have than chasing what we don't. For example, to appreciate the way people are, not the way we want them to be, to devote ourselves to the friends we already have instead of looking for new ones; to enjoy things that are not expensive; to find meaning and joy in the work we do, not the work we wanted before, etc. This living approach makes us fulfilled and happy, giving us the inspiration and motivation to reach our other goals.

Actions to take

Essays On Mindfulness, Stillness, And Simplicity

“We are not built to be running all the time.”

Stillness is equated in our minds with passivity, and passivity is associated with failure. It's in our nature to work long hours and feel like we're wasting time if we're not always making progress toward our goals. But stillness is beneficial. In fact, "doing nothing" is vital for maintaining a pleasant, tranquil, balanced life. Stillness and mindfulness help reduce stress, improve memory, decrease emotional reactivity, promote relationship satisfaction and cognitive flexibility, foster empathy and compassion, reduce anxiety and depression, and more.

When you are doing nothing, your brain is finishing up unconscious tasks or taking in and analyzing conscious events. For example, while we sleep, neural networks can combine what we've learned, organize our memories, and make learning, paying attention, and feeling emotions stronger. This makes our daily work more efficient and effective.

Also, when we don't have time to calm down, stop, and reflect, our negative emotions rule our lives. We need stillness to manage our emotions.

Stillness also affects creativity. Creativity is cultivated by moving away from a project, activity, or problem and focusing on other day-to-day duties. Several studies show that people who consistently come up with the most creative and unique ideas let their minds wander and rest instead of focusing on the tasks at hand.

Nothing is as soothing and fulfilling as simplicity, and it is easy to implement it in your life. We should just learn to appreciate inexpensive items. The key to living a meaningful life isn't how frequently you can overload your senses, but how you learn to give even the banalest, everyday things meaning.

Actions to take

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