Words are important.

Self-help language doesn’t resonate with us here, so we don’t use it. Our goal is to establish a common platform from which we can engage with each other and create meaningful dialogue that leads to impact and action. Here are some words that hold a prominent position in our vocabulary, and here’s what we mean when we use them.

Selfish: 

The underlining instructions for our public behavior indicate that we should put others first and ourselves second. As such, selfishness tends to get a bad rap. The older we get, we tend to push ourselves from second place to third, to fourth, to last. When learn from a very young age that we should treat others as we’d like to be treated. We keep the ideal of how we’d like to be treated, the nice idea of it, but we don’t treat ourselves that way. We don’t have time; we’re too busy taking care of everyone else.

Here’s a fact: It’s not noble to put others before ourselves when we have no ground to stand on. In order to authentically show up, we need to take into consideration what we need in order to be the most complete version of ourselves. This looks like saying no a lot more often and valuing our own needs as much as we value the needs of our families, friends, and coworkers.

Most of us work way too hard for way too many hours, at the expense of our home lives and our peace of mind. If we’re being honest, which we have to be, we’re not able to be present for others unless we first take into consideration our own needs. Otherwise, we risk getting burnt out, becoming resentful, and compounding lots of unnecessary stress into something ugly and burdensome. Rule #1: Allow yourself to be selfish. Your self is important, and you wouldn’t have much without it.

To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness. Though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost.
— Gustave Flaubert

Confidence:

Generally speaking, “confidence” gets a little more love than “selfish” does, but it’s still often considered in a negative light. Confidence is not the opposite of humility. When we are not confidant in ourselves, we are ignoring or refusing to recognize the unique gifts we have to offer. In this way, a lack of confidence indicates a lack of self-awareness and self-worth. When we ignore or refuse to recognize the unique gifts we have to offer, we are doing a disservice to ourselves and everyone else. Confidence is not the same as arrogance, egoism, or excessive pride. Those are things that impair human connection. Confident acceptance and sharing of our gifts allows us to engage with those around us from a place of authenticity and service. It allows us to say, “I know what I have to offer, and I want to share it.” 

The miracle is this: the more we share, the more we have.
— Leonard Nimoy

Broken:

“Broken” has come to mean weak, damaged, flawed. If we’re being honest, and we allow ourselves to see beyond these surface connotations, we will see that we’re all broken, all the time. There’s always some piece of us that’s neglected or out of joint with what we want to be up to. There’s always action we can take to get back into proper alignment again. Broken is not irreparably damaged. Broken is a place of opportunity that draws our attention to the fact that there is always space for growth. There’s not such thing as arrival, and there’s no such thing as perfection. That is a gift, because it means we never stop moving in the direction we want to go, and we can continually redefine what we want to create.

Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.
— Leonard Cohen

Breakdown:

We’ve all had breakdowns. Across the board, we’ve probably let ourselves experience them too infrequently. A breakdown is when our acknowledgement of our brokenness overwhelms us. The excess emotion works itself out through tears, anger, or panic. Breakdowns are points of emotional volatility during which we’re extremely unstable and raw. Breakdowns are potentially scary and painful, but they’re also powerful forces of raw, vulnerable creation. They don’t last forever, and the other side holds perspective and growth. 

There’s beauty in the breakdown.
— Frou Frou

Lost:

We’re all a little lost. Even if we think we know where we’re going, there are always places in which we’re off course. When we allow ourselves to change our perspective around being lost, we can embrace it as an adventure, rather than a point of despair.

Since my house burned down
I now own a better view
of the rising moon.
— Mizuta Masahide

Depressed:

Someone is “depressed” if they are clinically diagnosed with depression. It is not the same as sadness. Both are completely valid terms to use in appropriate contexts. Each word should be used mindfully.

“Then you should say what you mean,” the March Hare went on.

”I do,” Alice hastily replied; “at least—at least I mean what I say—that’s the same thing, you know.”

”Not the same thing a bit!” said the Hatter. “You might just as well say that ‘I see what I eat’ is the same thing as ‘I eat what I see’!”
— Lewis Carroll

Love:

This is the most important thing. The source of it all. For real. And before you get turned off because this sounds too touchy-feely, listen: Love allows us to connect with others. Connecting with others gives us perspective. Perspective is the greatest gift we can offer to anyone. As a society, we are hesitant to talk about love in any real, serious way. We think it’s silly, wussy, or weak to publicly acknowledge love or show intimacy. The reason? It is an open display of our vulnerability. In love, we are wide open. Like a breakdown, love gives us access to a raw, creative space in which we can grow and develop.

Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.
— Oscar Wilde

Sex:

Do I have your attention now? Here’s the good news: We need to talk about sex more. And if we want to experience healthy and fulfilling sex lives, we need to be able to talk about sex in a real way. Our cultural representation of sex is a paradox: we are bombarded constantly with two-dimensional ideas of sex; at the same time, we avoid genuine intimacy and physical connection. We’re good at observing from the sidelines and offering our expert commentary. We’re not great at actually allowing ourselves to be present for the action (pun intended?). Sexuality is a valid part of each of our lives. It’s just as important as our jobs, our fitness, our nutrition, and our social relationships. If we truly want to live balanced, meaningful lives, we need to remove the taboo around sex and talk about our feelings, man. We need to acknowledge that we all have needs and desires and it’s not bad or wrong to want things.

Where true Love burns Desire is Love’s pure flame;
It is the reflex of our earthly frame,
That takes its meaning from the nobler part,
And but translates the language of the heart.
— "Desire" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Yoga:

I’m a yoga teacher and I talk about yoga a lot. Yoga is not a fleeting trend. The fact that it’s trendy right now allows a wider and more diverse group of people to access it, which is awesome. Yoga is an ancient practice in mindfulness, and the word yoga comes from a Sanskrit root meeting “to yoke,” or “union.” It is about harnessing our breath, our focus, and our physical movement into a state of empowered awareness of the present moment. Yoga gives us access to a pause button in a world that is constantly telling us to keep going. The physical postures (asana) support the mental and emotional space that a yoga practice offers to us. 

The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.
— Thich Nhat Hanh