Where Should We Begin? with Esther Perel

This podcast series was recommended to me by one of my dear friends. She knows that I'm interested in counseling methods and how you can support people in becoming aware of what's going on inside of them and what our relationships reflect about ourselves and others. 

So far, I only had the chance to listen to the first episode but I find Esther Perel's therapy style, in which she has sessions with real-life couples, insightful and think that the topics can be helpful in understanding ourselves and how to communicate better with our partners and with people in general. 

Below you can find more information on where to find the audible series and what the podcasts are about in Perel's own words: 

Where Should We Begin? with Esther Perel

What the podcast series is about in her own words

Great titles

Armless Man and His Blind Best Friend Have Planted More Than 10,000 Trees in China

It doesn’t happen often, but every now and then you hear a story about people overcoming all odds to help others and it completely changes your perspective of the world.

Two Chinese men, 53-year-old Jia Wenqi and 54-year-old Jia Haixia, have been doing something amazing for the last 13 years. They have planted more than 10,000 trees around Yeli Village in northeastern China, a region which once was covered in nothing but rocks and weeds. But what is really stunning about this story is that both friends have severe physical disabilities – Haixa is completely blind and Wenqi is a double amputee with no arms. Yet, it did not prevent them from accomplishing their mission.

Haixia was born with congenital cataracts which left his left eye blind. In 2000, he lost sight in his other eye after a work accident. Wenqi had a tragic accident at the age of three years old, as a result of which he lost both of his arms.

But even despite these challenges, the pair of friends did not lose faith in the good and did not give up on their life. In 2002, when Haixia and Wenqi were struggling to secure jobs, they came up with a plan to make money on planting trees.

However, it was not only about money. The two friends wanted to revive the area around their village to create a better future for the next generations. Thus, they leased 8 acres of land near the Ye river from the local government and set to make their plan a reality.

Our tree planting may not have much substantial benefit for the present generation, but it leaves a green environment to the next one,” Haixia told The Globe and Mail. “We are physically disabled but mentally healthy. We have this big dream in our heart to leave a stretch of green to our children.

Since then, Haixia and Wenqi have planted over 10,000 trees in the area and it all became possible thanks to their dedication and, most important, teamwork. The friends have learned to overcome their disabilities by constantly helping each other.


Louise Hay - Positive Affirmations for Healing

Louise Hay's book Heal your Body was recommended to me over ten years ago by a dear friend and by now my version is about to fall apart and pages have come off. 

In it you can look up a list of medical terms for most common illnesses with short explanations for for mental causes for these physical illnesses as well as positive affirmations for how to overcome them. Every time my husband, or my mom or friends tell me about an ailment, I can't resist flipping through the pages of Louise Hay's book because deep down I believe that your body tries to communicate with you and you have to find a way to understand it. 

I think it's important to be aware of the connection between the mind and the body and because I believe that positive thinking can have a big impact on our lives I chose to put this post in Personal Development rather than in Lifestyle. And when I came across Louise Hay's website  the other day I wanted to share it with you; I thought that I would like to start some of her mediations that help you with self-love and self-love is something I want to work on more but you can find all kinds of other affirmations on her site. Here is a link

At the same time I would like to express in a very exaggerating way: Please don't think that her books and affirmations can heal all your illnesses. What I do want to say is: It's definitely good to be open for different perspectives and "new" ways of thinking when it comes to your struggles in life and little things you could change for a better, lighter, and fulfilling life. 

Lousie Hay is a well known motivational and spiritual author, who has come a long way and it's interesting to read a little bit about her background story. 

"Louise Hay was born to a poor mother who married Hay's violent stepfather. When she was about five, she was raped by a neighbor. At fifteen she dropped out of high school without a diploma, became pregnant, and on her sixteenth birthday gave up her newborn baby girl for adoption.

She moved to Chicago, where she worked in menial jobs, before moving in 1950 to New York. At this point she changed her name and began a career as a fashion model. She was successful at this, working for Bill Blass, Oleg Cassini, and Pauline Trigere. 

In 1954, she married Andrew Hay, but after fourteen years of marriage Louise was devastated when Andrew left her for another woman.

Hay said that she found the First Church of Religious Science on 48th Street, which taught the transformative power of thought. Hay revealed that here she studied the metaphysical works of authors like Florence Scovel Shinn and the Religious Science founder Ernest Holmes. 

In the early 1970's Hay became a Religious Science practitioner. In this role she led people in spoken affirmations meant to cure their illnesses. She also became popular as a workshop leader.

She studied transcendental meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at his university in Fairfield, Iowa.

In 1977 or 1978 she found she had cervical cancer, and she concluded that its cause was her unwillingness to let go of resentment over her childhood abuse and rape. She refused medical treatment, and began a regimen of forgiveness, therapy, reflexology, nutrition, and occasional enemas, and claims she rid herself of the cancer. She declared that there is no doctor left who can confirm this story, but swore that it is true.

In 1976 Hay wrote a small pamphlet, which came to be called "Heal Your Body." This pamphlet was enlarged and extended into her book You Can Heal Your Life, which was published in 1984. As of February 2008, it is still on the New York Times best sellers list. 

Around the same time she began leading support groups for people living with H.I.V. or AIDS that she called Hay Rides. These grew from a few people in her living room to hundreds in a large hall in West Hollywood. Her work with AIDS patients drew fame and she was invited to appear on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and "Donahue" in the same week in March, 1988. 

You Can Heal Your Life immediately landed on the New York Times Best Sellers List. More than 35 million copies are now in print around the world in more than 30 languages and has been made into a movie. 

Louise Hay established Hay House Publishing. It is the primary publisher of books and audio books by Deepak Chopra and Doreen Virtue, as well as many books by Wayne Dyer. 

In addition to running her publishing company, Hay runs a charitable organization called Hay Foundation that was established in 1985." (Wikipedia.org)

Now, Discover your Strengths

Over the last few months I’ve had my share of doing personality tests and I've been reading quite a few books on how to discover and understand your own strengths. I think that you can definitely overdo it but I came across two materials that I consider valuable readings; one is Sally Hogshead’s How the World Sees You (which I wrote about before) and the other is called Now, Discover your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton, which a lot of people might be familiar with. 

Both books’ main statement is that you should do more of what you are good at instead of trying to change yourself. While Sally Hogshead focuses more on how you can sell your strong points better after you understand how others view you (which makes sense because she comes from the marketing background) Now, Discover your Strengths manages to describe your strong points in more detail by focusing on five aspects of your skills and talents, while valuing the combination of aspects as well the weight of each aspect.


I like this book because I agree with how insufficiently societies around the world approach the topic “individual skills” in combination with education and occupation.

Buckingham and Clifton explain that most of our lives we are being told what we need to get better at, what we need to improve in. Even our language shows that we have more vocabulary for our deficiencies and what we lack in than for describing on a wider scale what we are good at. When we say, “she has people skills” what exactly does that mean? Is she good at approaching someone, or at holding a conversation, or at understanding the feelings of the other person? She might be able to do all of these points but she might also just be good at only one or two of them.

The test took some time (about 30 minutes) and was not that easy because of the time pressure but overall I believe that this book is worth the time and money, especially because it doesn’t only help you to understand yourself, it can also help you understand and encourage other people to find their strengths, which is especially valuable at work and when you run your own business or manage people. 

Here is a description from amazon.com: 

Based on a Gallup study of over two million people who have excelled in their careers, NOW, DISCOVER YOUR STRENGTHS uses a revolutionary programme to help readers discover their distinct talents and strengths. The product of a twenty-five year, multi-million pound effort to identify the most prevalent human talents, the StrengthsFinder programme introduces thirty-four talents or “themes” and reveals how they can best be translated into personal and career success. Each copy of the CD contains a unique pin number that gives the reader access to the StrengthsFinder Profile, a Web-based interview that analyses people’s instinctive reactions and immediately presents them with their five most dominant strengths. Once listeners know which of the thirty-four talent themes dominates their personality, they can make practical applications at three levels: as an individual, as a manager and within an organisation. Readers learn what kind of environments will allow them to flourish; how managers can better cultivate their employers’ talents; and how almost all organisations inhibit the talents of their people and need to change.

Das Kind in dir muss eine Heimat finden

German psychotherapist Stefanie Stahl wrote Das Kind in dir muss Heimat finden (“The Child in You Must Find a Home”) and the reason why I share it with you is because I truly believe this book can have a positive impact on your life, IF you are ready to self-reflect and do the exercises. 


Like most psychologists she talks about how your subconscious has an impact on your behavior. Stefanie Stahl is great at keeping things simpler though by describing your subconscious as your inner child. Her book and therapy focuses on getting in touch with your “sun-“ and “shadow-child”.

This means becoming aware of all the principles you have learned as a child from your parents or close ones - principles like “I’m not good enough”, “I can’t leave you”, “I need to be a good girl/boy” - and giving mostly your shadow-child with all the negative feelings a voice.

By doing that you start realizing in what stressful or emotional moments in your life it’s more the shadow-child reacting on its learned principles.

Through realizing that you can start working on disempowering your personal principles, which have always limited you and have/had a negative impact on your life. 

Thanks to this book and the meditations that come with it I’m starting to realize how often my inner child interferes with my present life and causes me pain. The more I listen to it, the more the grown-up Seval has a chance to distinguish itself from it and tell it that nothing was its fault, that it IS good enough, that it IS being loved, and that it doesn’t have to adjust to others in order to create a sense of harmony.


To me this book feels like a relief. What it could be to you is up to you.

P.S. I thought this book is available in English as well but it turns out that it's not at this point. 




















How The World Sees You

I posted about Sally Hogshead before, in which I also mentioned her personality test. 

Have you had the time to do it?  :-) 

What makes Sally Hogshead’s personality test and book How The World Sees You different compared to tests like Myers Briggs is that it’s not showing you how you see the world but how others perceive you.

Sally Hogshead has created a matrix of seven archetypes, as she calls them, and every person is a combination of two archetypes - your primary and secondary advantage. These two define how you communicate with people around you and how the world sees you.

In her matrix I’m a combination of Passion and Trust and I’m called The Beloved.

The archetype Passion creates warm, emotional connections. Passion personalities are expressive, intuitive, and engaging, whereas the Trust archetype is known to build loyalty over time and stand for traits like stable, dependable, and familiar.

To a lot of people knowing what you’re good at and what your pitfalls are might be a given thing (although I doubt that everyone is honest to themselves about their pitfalls) but to me finding out all these things about myself was an eye opener.

What I love about this book and concept is that it tells you to be more of who you already are, rather than having to change and bend yourself.

The more efficiently you use your skills, know about your pitfalls and understand how people around you function, the more you’ll enjoy yourself and what you do in life. 

Sally Hogshead

I find Sally Hogshead, an American author, professional speaker, CEO of Fascinate, Inc and a former advertising executive, pretty … fascinating. She was recommended to me by my business consultant Jacqui not long after we met. 

She told me about this personality test that has a specific advantage: In just three minutes you can discover your own advantage and what makes you stand out. 

I've tried out several personalty tests but I never had one that was so spot on and different in its structure.

It helps you understand what kind of first impression you create, how others see you, how what might come across as a weak point can be turned into a strong point. 

Therefore, unlike other personality assessments, this isn't about how you see the world. This reveals how the world sees you.

Just recently she launched a book titled … Fascinate, in which she explains how to make your brand impossible to resist. Since I'm working on an online business at the moment I was keen on getting my hands on the book. I just finished the book and I dare say that I did learn lots of … fascinating things from her. 

At the beginning she explains the origin of the word "fascinate" and then she introduces the marketing world bewitches us. Just finding out about all the different levels our brains deal with marketing tricks in itself is fascinating. 

Then she talks about seven different primary pillars in combination with a secondary advantage which help you decide what your business' core idea and message is and which general direction to take when you have to make new decisions. 

The second part could have been longer and a bit more detailed, I think. Still, this is a book that every person should read - whether you want to start or already have a business or you just read it for the sake of understanding how our busy world in terms of marketing works.       

For now though, if you want to take the assessment ...

1. Go to: https://portal.howtofascinate.com/members/invite/525273472751418754226

2. Enter your information to set up your account and answer the assessment questions. You'll immediately receive your Fascination Advantage result.                        

I hope you enjoy it and find it useful. I'd love to hear what you come out with

When Everything Changes Change Everything

It took me four months to read this book.

I'm glad that I took my time with it. It's even what Walsch recommends - to put the book aside at times in order to simmer everything in your mind. 

Neale Donald Walsch is an American modern day spiritual messenger and author of the well-known series Conversations with God, in which he redefines God and shifted spiritual paradigms around the globe. Books like this one, that help understand love and life on a bigger and spiritual scale and assist you in coping with day-to-day struggles, always seem to reach you when your heart is ready for them. 

This book might not be something for you AT ALL. Or it's EXACTLY what you should consider to cope with life BUT your heart might just not be ready for it … yet.

In my case, valuable books like this one have always been recommended to me by dear friends (you know who you are) and acquaintances. Sometimes it was the perfect timing for the certain push I needed. At other times I felt that I wasn't quite there yet and I picked them up again when the time felt right. 

In "When everything changes change everything" Walsch talks about our fear of changes not knowing that changes are ALWAYS good for us even though we often can't see the bigger picture due to desperate times or certain mindsets. At first, I admit that I found his writing style annoying, as he keeps repeating A LOT, which made me feel like I'm a child that needs the simplest explanation in order to follow his thoughts. Eventually, I started to appreciate the simplicity and repetition; as he lays open a world with a different mindset you need time to digest all those new but universally true ideas and messages. 

That's all I want to give away. That and the fact that the book taught me how to be more at peace with things happening in my life that were not according to plan and which therefore stressed me out. I've learned a new way of coping with situations like that: to trust in the universe to lead me on a path that's eventually better for me, in one way or another.

It's not easy to trust. But that's how it is with trust.  

Danielle LaPorte - Day Planner

I wrote a post about this planner in the ideal-l section of my blog but I wanted to connect it with a post in personal development because I think that this planner has potential to also work on your personal growth. 

Enjoy the other post here

The black dog in my life

Millions of people have a depression. In a report from WHO (World Health Organisation) from 2015 it says that more than 350 million people are affected worldwide. 

On average about 1 in 20 people reported having an episode of depression.

Here is how WHO summarises depression:

"Depression is a common mental disorder, characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness, and poor concentration.

Depression can be long-lasting or recurrent, substantially impairing an individual’s ability to function at work or school or cope with daily life. At its most severe, depression can lead to suicide. When mild, people can be treated without medicines but when depression is moderate or severe they may need medication and professional talking treatments."

There are so many different types of depressions, with so many different levels (mild, mediocre, severe), different versions (mothers who have postpartum depression, so called baby blues, seasonal affective disorder or bipolar disorder) that hit you in different waves and portions.  

A lot of people and societies look at depression as a weakness in a person's character, as something the person should snap out of and simply deal with.

If I had cancer, people would be more understanding with my situation and sympathetic because  cancer is considered a terrible disease. Why is it considered a terrible disease? - Because it is disease. And so is depression. It doesn't have one single cause - brain chemistry, hormones, and genetics all play an important role. 

Then again there is so much discussion going on about whether depression is an actual disease or not. I'm not a scientist or doctor. I'm not trying to argue. I want to draw attention to symptoms that are real for so many people. Symptoms that can lead you to suicidal thoughts. 

If your child or husband or girlfriend or mother had these symptoms, would it matter whether depression is a disease or not? All that would matter is that there was a health system that knows  how to deal with it beyond pharmacological treatment, a social net that was informed, understanding, and supportive, a way out of darkness and sadness and away from suicidal thoughts. 

Have a look at this article from Healthline to read a quick summary on depression. 

Here is a great animation that envisions how it is to live with depression. 

Neale Donald Walsch

I had and still have my ups and downs, sometimes within a short time span of a day or even an hour. I can feel good and safe in one moment, and scared about my future, frustrated and then sad about my life situation in the next.

It's called having a depression. It comes in different versions, portions and waves. I'll talk about that in another post

Today, I want to introduce Neale Donald Walsch to the ones, who don't know him yet. 

He is a modern day spiritual thinker and became famous with his books Conversations With God

Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue Book1
¥ 1,768
By Neale Donald Walsch

He is not an Eckhart Tolle or Byron Katie, who helped me through many mental crisis. 

I know this doesn't help to advertise the guy but there is a tiny voice in my heart that resists him as a person, probably because he and his audience look like harmless next door neighbours with clothes and hairstyles from the 80s, hiding dirty little secrets behind closed curtains. 


His video discussion about money and abundance and books Conversations With God, as well as When Everything Changes Change Everything, which I'm reading at the moment, hold a profound truth and help me change my perspective on how to deal with life. 

His messages overlap with a lot of core statements from Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie.  

If (and I know how hippie like that sounds) your heart feels ready for taking all that in, then don't miss out on the books and video I mentioned.



I'll write up my comments in the booksss section about When Everything Changes Change Everything when I'm done reading.