Love Is Not a Bargain

“Love can never possess. Love is giving freedom to the other. Love is an unconditional gift; it is not a bargain.” – Osho

My husband proposed before we even kissed. When we met, we were two Romanians living and working in Asia, within the same company but in two different countries. I was in China; he was in South Korea. Our relationship started as a beautiful, genuine friendship. After three dinners in Shanghai and many long telephone conversations that felt like a deep, soulful connection, he proposed. I will never forget that day. It came like thunder. Totally unexpected. Surreal. A miracle of love.

At the time, I was 35 and very clear on what I wanted from a romantic relationship. My wish was to feel loved, supported, cherished and appreciated. I wanted a companion — a lover and a friend — not to complete me because I was already feeling whole and complete. I wanted to spend my precious time with someone I could share new life experiences with and build a solid foundation together.

I knew people usually spent time getting to know each other before committing to marriage. Despite knowing that, I said yes. It just felt right. That was one of the best decisions I have ever made and, since that day, I have never underestimated the power of my intuition.

It’s been five beautiful years since we became husband and wife, and here’s the most important thing I learned from this experience:

If you are either married or in a relationship, you know that’s an ongoing job. We often get into the trap of expecting our life partners to make us happy. In reality, nobody else can make us truly happy, and happiness is a personal responsibility.

We all have a basic need to be loved and appreciated. As Descartes said, “human is a social animal.” However, the need for love and being needy of someone are two different things. 

If I expect my husband to bring joy into my world, I turn him into my prisoner. I start setting expectations for whom I would want him to be and what I’d want him to do or say, so I can get my needs met. If I expect him to complete me, I am incomplete. When I hold him tight to me and control him so that I wouldn’t lose him to another woman, it’s not him I fear I might lose. That’s the voice of my fear of getting miserable and lose the very source of my happiness.

Many people (and women especially) stay in unhealthy, co-dependent and even toxic relationships out of fear: fear of the unknown, fear of what other people think, financial dependency, or the need to have someone else to confirm and validate their self-worth.

I came to understand that real love builds on a partnership. Two individuals who are already whole and complete have no fears. They get together with the purpose of supporting each other and growing together, not for using each other as an external tool to fulfill their own wants and needs.

In reality, the only person in charge of my happiness is me, and everything else is a bonus. I know this might sound selfish, but it’s not. Self-love in romantic relationships is a necessity. Long-lasting happiness can not come from someone else, but only from ourselves, from the inside out. 

We need to love ourselves enough so that we can love another. When I feed my soul with self-love and keep my cup full, I don’t need other people to fill it up for me. I am free, and this allows my partner to be free, as well.

And now, I would like to hear from you. What is your definition of love?

Sara Fabian is a Women’s Empowerment & Career Coach and inspirational speaker, on a mission to help professional women to discover their unique strengths, gifts and talents, boost their confidence, find their calling and live a meaningful life of purpose. For weekly inspiration, subscribe to her free newsletter at or follow her on Facebook.

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NJ Senate Delays Abrogation of Religious Conscientious Objections to Vaccines

NJ State Senate Prepared to Send
Draconian Coerced Vaccination Law to Governor 

Contact Your State Senator Here:

 UPDATE NOTE:  The Bill failed to pass the State Senate on Monday, January 13th by one vote; the Bill previously was “pulled” from the Senate floor on 16 December 2019 as there were not enough votes to adopt it.  After the failure to pass on January 13th a new version of the Bill has been introduced for the new Session of the Legislature.  Continued pressure is needed to kill this vicious Bill permanently!

 New Jersey Senate Bill 2173 would abrogate long-standing religious conscientious objections to mandatory school vaccination. The New Jersey legislature thereby joins with other “Blue State” legislatures, such as California and New York, to adopt coercive laws implementing a “zero tolerance” rule for childhood vaccination. This action was taken only after the State Senate majority leader had to remove his own party members from the Health Committee to engineer the committee majority vote in favor of the bill.

The Bill violates long-standing law regarding conscientious objections to vaccination even though our courts have held vaccines to be “unavoidably unsafe.” The universal right of Informed Consent tells us that where there is risk there must be choice. This basic principle of international law is being unlawfully overridden by the legislature.

Recently the United States Supreme Court has clearly declared, even a “… diminished expectation of privacy does not diminish the… privacy interest in preventing a government agent from piercing the… skin. And though a blood test conducted in a medical setting by trained personnel is less intrusive than other bodily invasions, this Court has never retreated from its recognition that any compelled intrusion into the human body implicates significant, constitutionally protected privacy interests…” Missouri vs McNeely, 569 US 141 (2013)

An earlier Supreme Court declared that the courts are “not without power to intervene… if it be apparent or can be shown with reasonable certainty that he is not at the time a fit subject of vaccination or that vaccination, by reason of his then condition, would seriously impair his health or probably cause his death.” Jacobson v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905)

What the legislature fails to understand is the depth of commitment by those citizens who reject vaccination as pseudo-science which is causing mass, well documented harm to thousands of children. The risk heavily outweighs any supposed benefit from “piercing the skin” with unavoidably unsafe toxic brews. These parents are ready to refuse to obey coerced vaccination laws. Never before in American history have citizens been subjected to this level of massive social control over the health of their children.

The Bill has a number of very questionable provisions. These include:

   1. Abrogating religious conscientious objections although the First Amendment protects religious belief and action. Parents will be forced to submit to an unconstitutional condition: be coerced into remaining silent although opposed to vaccination or have their children denied their state constitutional right to a thorough and efficient education.

   2. Creating a government-controlled Immunization Registry of all children and their vaccine status. This is clearly a violation of basic privacy rights and would enable government seizure of children from vaccine resisting families.

   3. Unlawfully discriminating between religious conscientious objections to vaccination versus objections to other medical interventions, where the Bill states: “Section 5c. Any rule or regulation involving physical examination [, immunization] or medical treatment other than immunization shall include an appropriate exemption for any child whose parent or parents object thereto on the ground that it conflicts with the tenets and practice of a recognized church or religious denomination of which the parent or child is an adherent or member.” This provision acknowledges the right of conscientious objection to all medical procedures except what is termed “immunization” although there is no scientific agreement that injecting toxic brews into children actually provides any immunization. Further, the legislature has no power to decide what religious beliefs are “recognized.”  This is clear violation of the First Amendment.

   4. The law, in Section 6(1) a, restricts licensed physicians as the learned intermediaries from freely expressing their professional opinions regarding whether a particular child is a fit subject for vaccination by requiring the expression of all medical exemptions to confirm to one particular Federal Government Agency (ACIP) listing of allowed adverse reactions, although another Federal Government Agency (IOM) has documented literally hundreds of additional dangerous adverse reactions.

This Bill, if it becomes law, is clearly subject to challenge in the Courts.

While the science is not settled, vaccines are proven unavoidably unsafe and are an uninsurable risk.

It is unconscionable for the State of New Jersey to join with a few other states in violating the basic rights of their citizens. Among the six vaccine-coercing states are the two with both the most draconian vaccine laws and the lowest childhood health record, Mississippi and West Virginia. The other vaccine-coercing states of note include both California and New York, states where thousands of citizens are leaving to protect their children from the unproven and dangerous reality of mass, multiple vaccination.

The mad-vaxxers are acting in such a cavalier manner because they are increasingly aware that opposition to forced vaccination will simply not disappear — we will not continue to sacrifice our children on the altar of Moloch! 

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The Payoff Principle: How to Stop Sabotaging Yourself

You’re weird.

I am, too. We all are.

We all, to some degree, do something that’s very strange. On the one hand, we’re totally preoccupied with ourselves. On the other hand, we don’t do everything possible to help ourselves live better lives.

From a logical perspective, this makes no sense. But one of the biggest lessons you can learn in self-improvement is the fact that human beings are almost always anything but logical.

You’re not logical, at all.

You’re emotional, irrational, and prone to little mental traps that keep you from living the life you want.

One of the biggest traps? Self-sabotage.

Why do you do thinks that you know deep down, will cause more trouble in your life?

You continue to date that same type of toxic person. You quit right before your efforts will start to pay off. There seem to be so many times in your life where you foil your own efforts.


Simple, Counterintuitive, and Deadly Accurate

Once I realized this, fully, my life changed.

What did I realize?

I, you, we all, like, no, love… self-sabotage.

Once you understand that you love messing your own life up at a deep emotional level, everything starts to make more sense and you’ll finally have the seeds to real change.

I used to ask myself why I kept screwing up. I searched for this magical answer to seemingly irrational behavior. I’d ask myself, “If you want to make your life better, why are you acting like this?”

All the while I didn’t understand the truth. I didn’t want to make my life better. I wanted to be a loser.

Why would someone want such things?


You get a pay off from feeling this way. You live by the pay off principle. Anytime you find yourself making bad choices, ask yourself “what’s the payoff?”

For most of my life, I lived below my potential. I did so because my pay off was being able to cling to the identity of the “kid with potential.” I loved living in Potentialville.

See, if I were to try hard then I could run into the possibility of failing. Failing meant I’d no longer be talented and gifted. I’d no longer be the sharp kid with the whole world in front of him.

What’s your pay off?

People stay in bad relationships and continue to choose bad partners because they get the payoff of confirming their identity as someone who doesn’t deserve love — often a mental map created in childhood.

People pretend they don’t want more for their lives because they get the payoff of being a martyr. When you see someone acting outrageously, they’re getting their payoff in the form of attention.

The payoff principle helps you understand your behavior as well as the behavior of others. Instead of thinking you know everything and scoffing at the behavior you disagree with, ask yourself, “What is this person getting from this?” Also, ask yourself the same question when you make missteps.

There are many micro reasons and payoffs people use to, often poorly, navigate life. But the main culprit is almost always the same.

You’re “The Devil You Know”

The main payoff you get from sabotaging yourself?

You get to remain you.

Almost all roads to a life you don’t want to live lead back to ego and identity preservation.

Say you consider yourself a total loser in every regard. Why would you want to maintain that identity? Simple, because if you were to change you’d have to admit that you wasted a large chunk of your life feeling a way you didn’t have to feel. That’s usually the kicker for all of us.

We don’t want to admit that we’ve wasted time.

You’d rather stay the same for the rest of your life than do what’s necessary to change — totally eradicate your current self.

To truly change, you have to die.

You have to kill your old belief systems, mental maps, deeply-rooted elements of social programming. And this death is precluded by admitting you got tricked, admitting you need to start over from a humble place, admitting you don’t really know a whole hell of a lot.

Spoiler alert — this doesn’t feel good.

For whatever reason, it seems beneath you to start at square one. You think you should just get it.

Many people in society, who I would never in a million years want to trade lives with, get a payoff that I do sometimes envy. They think they know what they’re doing.

Their lives are shit, but they’ve convinced themselves they have everything figured out. Sometimes I wish I could feel that way. I really do. I wish I could be okay with living like that, but I can’t.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably like me.

As much as you love sabotaging yourself, you can’t shake the idea that you could be doing more. You see yourself flipping that switch one day, somehow, and you’re holding out hope that it will happen.

You haven’t given up yet because you understand the consequences of giving up. Yet, you’re not quite there yet. You haven’t yet done the things you’ve been meaning to do forever. You still sabotage yourself.

How do you stop?

Update Your Software

Everything in your life can be looked at through the lens of incentives, rewards, payoffs, patterns, etc.

The less you think of yourself as a rational agent and the more you think of yourself as a software of sorts, the better you’re able to change your life.

You have to find a way to change your programming, change your payoffs, and give yourself a reward that’s better than the weird love affair you have with self-loathing.

Usually, finding your purpose…serves that purpose.

Nothing provided me a better reward than self-sabotage until I found writing. Luckily for me, I caught that motivational fire quickly. I knew pretty early on that this was it.

The process might not happen the same way for you.

You’ll have to not only find the thing but do it long enough to get traction before you sabotage yourself like you normally would.

How do you pull it off?

Well, the closer you’re aligned to your strengths, your tastes, and your deep-seated predilections, the better. I’ve written multiple books about this if you’re curious about the process.

Aside from finding and working on your purpose though, success comes from simply making this mental switch that is really hard to make.

Often, true pain can cause this switch. Life can beat you up enough to where you’re like, “Ok, screw this. The payoff doesn’t justify living like this.”

But often, people experience a level of pain that still doesn’t reach that threshold. It’s a dull pain, low-level anxiety that hurts just enough to be a consistent annoyance, but not sharp enough to override the payoff of being able to make sense of their lives.

It’s a cruel trap, like the fable of the frog sitting in a pot of water that starts to boil and it doesn’t jump out because the heat increases ever so slowly.

The best you can do is try to manufacture that stark realization that, in many ways, you’re throwing your life away. Realize that it’s not dramatic to think you’re throwing your life away. Then, change your payoff.

When you follow the road less traveled, you get a payoff that can be felt much better than it can be explained, but I’ll try.

You feel like you have superpowers. Most people can’t exert their force of will over reality, but you can.

You feel like you have this secret that few can understand.

You feel a deep level of pride because you didn’t let the idealistic youthful version of yourself down.

Ayodeji Awosika is a personal development blogger and the author of You 2.0. His goal is to help as many people as possible find the freedom to do exactly what they want in life. Find more of his work at





Image courtesy of Leon Seierlein.

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Create a Fulfilling Life

Dear John,

When I was younger, I thought that working hard and getting good grades would lead to a fulfilling job and help me advance up the ladder at work. But now that I’ve been employed for more than a decade, I find myself going through the motions of meaningless work, still facing student debt, and feeling like no matter how hard I work, I’m treading water and not advancing. I could leave, but I worry that every corporate job is like this. What do I do?



Dear Unfulfilled,

It sounds like you’re in a struggle that many young adults share. These are the challenges of modern times, in which you are trying to lay down solid roots and advance in a career. You are frustrated, working away with your wheels spinning in the mud on what seems like a dead-end road. At the same time, you’re working hard to stay employed and chip away at compounding student debt. When we consider all of these factors together, it makes sense that you have concluded that life is unfulfilling and devoid of real meaning and purpose. It all feels rather futile, I imagine.

Nevertheless, there remains an opportunity in this strife to author a meaningful existence for your life. To author one’s existence is an intention that you must choose to live by every day. This kind of existential authorship requires you to be a present, creative, brave, and active participant in your life.

In your question, there is a dilemma in which you must choose between carving out a new path for yourself or establishing meaning in your current situation. Each of these two paths has pros and cons. I invite you to take some time to map those out on your own.

My goal is to give you a dialectical behavior therapy (DBT, as described by Lane Pederson) method to create a more fulfilling life path. This method is rooted in the notion that human beings are creatures of habit and benefit from consistent and predictable routines. Therefore, I recommend keeping your sleep, wake, and mealtimes consistent throughout the week.

However, the shadow side of developing consistent routines is that you can get bored and burn out. If you get too rigid, you will likely rebel against the beneficial structures that you are creating. Hence, according to Pederson, you must also infuse your routine with open space and time during which you can be creative and unstructured.

Related: A Brilliant Way to Organize Your Calendar for Less Stress

You see, within our lives is a tension between the things that we must do to survive and those activities that bring us joy and meaning. To maximize our sense of leading a fulfilling life, these two poles must exist in a balanced relationship.

It sounds like your focus is currently on the “must do” end of the scale, and weight is needed on the “meaningful activities” side. Therefore, a helpful and immediate step forward is to intentionally add back into your life those things that you love to do. If you do not know what those are, then it is a time to be playful and experiment with different activities and see what brings you joy. Be curious and explore!

A straightforward and effective way of protecting yourself from boredom is to put creative playtime on your schedule. During this time, be spontaneous, go with the flow, and do something unexpected and exciting. Also remember that (aside from sleeping, waking, and eating) every day does not have to be identical.

From this general framework of a daily routine, there are other components recommended in this DBT approach, based on Pederson’s work. For instance, part of your structured routine must include a commitment to fulfilling ongoing responsibilities. You will increase your success if you break long-term responsibilities into smaller actionable steps to be completed weekly. So create a daily, weekly, and monthly action plan to ensure you are meeting your life duties.

Be sure your responsibilities are also inclusive of activities oriented toward fulfilling your life values, goals, and plans. By attending to these, you will begin to notice a growing sense of fulfillment. Integrate daily practices that enhance the mind, body, and spiritual well-being. These practices can include many different things, such as meditation, yoga, exercise, and time in nature.

Then consider what rituals or traditions you would like to add to or restore in your life. These can be traditions connected with the seasons, holidays, or simple daily ones like a morning coffee or tea ritual. The possibilities are endless. Ask yourself, what interests me? How can I keep life fresh? What can I do to be playful and engage in something new, even if it’s driving home via a different route? When you identify these, place them on your daily schedule and do these activities often. It is like putting money in the bank that increases your vitality, and you can make withdrawals when you are attending to those “have to” tasks.

Related: 3 Easy Ways to Spark Joy Without Cleaning a Thing

The last component Pederson outlines is to envision a wholesome, full, and fulfilling life. The best advice I have here is to keep your end goals in focus every day, and, at the same time, stay patient, dedicated, and steadfast in your pursuit. You must remember that developing a fulfilling life plan and path takes time and repetition. Forgive yourself when you fall back on old habits, and then get right back at it without any energy expended on judging yourself.

You may consider keeping a journal or notebook that you can use to map out the above components and have a writing space that you can refer to in order to hold yourself accountable.

Life is continuously happening and will continue to do so with or without anyone’s participation. The constant invitation to us is to take charge and dive into life, knowing every moment is precious and tomorrow is not guaranteed. We must never waste a single moment!

I thank you for writing in with your inquiry. It is a question for an entire generation of folks working to carve out a meaningful and fulfilling future. I wish you the best on your journey!



Pederson, Lane. The Expanded Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training Manual, 2nd Edition: DBT for Self-Help and Individual & Group Treatment Settings. PESI Publishing & Media. Kindle Edition.

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It’s Okay to Feel Lost

I want you to know it’s okay to feel lost. I am experiencing this in my life, and there is nothing wrong with that feeling. But I understand how feeling that way can keep us stuck. It can keep us up at night. I understand that because right now; I am awake.

I am awake because I’m feeling lost. Life is hard sometimes-it’s hard a lot of the time. It’s frustrating. And if I’m being honest, I have it much better than others. I know it’s not as hard for me as it is for other people. I have it good. However, personal problems don’t lose their relevance because someone else may have it worse.

I’m 47 years old, and I feel lost. I’ve felt this way a lot recently it seems. I’m going through several changes all at once, and I wish I knew how to react. How to be. How to feel. How to deal with what’s in my head and my heart. But, right now, I don’t.

Sometimes I have no clue what to do or what I’m doing at any given moment. You would think I’d have figured it out by now but I haven’t. I’m not sure if I ever will. I feel lost occasionally.

I don’t know if everything will be okay. I don’t know if things will be better or worse. And I don’t know how long these feelings will last. I can feed myself all of the stuff I’ve written about before to try to make myself feel better. To convince myself everything will be okay. But I really don’t know that it will be. I could feel this way for a long time or I could feel much better tomorrow. That’s what life looks like for me right now. It’s not good or bad. It just is.

I guess I’m scared. I’m scared of what the future holds. It’s all unknown.

And the unknown scares the shit out of me.

Should I sit with that pain, that unknown, that uncertainty? Or should I move on? Should I let everything get to me or should I be numb like I was for so many years?

The numbness kept me safe at least. I don’t know what is worse.

I’ve tried to take control of the future by plotting out what I want to do. How I want to be. Who I want to be. But it can all be changed in a day. An hour. In a moment.

Right now, I’m just trying to figure shit out. I know I’m not alone and I know things aren’t as bad as they seem, but knowledge and thoughts are two different things.

And it’s those thoughts that will get us in trouble. It’s those thoughts that take us down a path we don’t want to go on. They keep us awake. And they keep us from living.

I wish I knew what I’m supposed to do. But at this moment, I don’t.

And everything above is okay. It’s okay to feel lost. It’s okay to not know what you are supposed to be doing at this moment or at any given time. It’s okay to be scared, and it is certainly okay to not be okay. The future may end up completely different than what you or I envision, and that is okay too.

These are the moments which define us. These times of being scared and of not knowing. Because once we get through them, these moments strengthen us. It may be hell feeling this way. It may be torturous to your soul. But we need it for growth.

We will get through this. We will come out the other side better than we were before. I have hope. But, right now, it’s okay to feel lost.

Originally published on

Jeff Barton is a writer, ultra-runner, lover of books and zombies, a practitioner of positive thinking, and most importantly, a dad. Living and loving life one day at a time. You can find him at and

Image courtesy of Daniel Jensen.

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