Do you remember yourself standing there, on the edge of the diving board? Every inch of you resisted jumping, but at the same time, you knew you didn’t want to quit – because you would regret it. As adults, we may not stand on the edges of diving boards too often anymore, but we still come across similar situations.

Courage is like a muscle. You can challenge it by training every day, in all sorts of ways.

1 Think of Fear as a Useful Signal

As human beings, we get scared sometimes. And we should be glad about that, because if we didn’t know fear, we wouldn’t wait for a train crossing, or go for a picnic among wild animals. The trick is to distinguish among different kinds of fear. Are you scared for a reason – because you need to protect yourself – or is fear blocking your growth? If it’s the latter, it’s time for a challenge. You don’t need to go bungee-jumping tomorrow, but the more often you do a scary thing, the more your self-esteem grows. And the more interesting your life gets.

2 Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

Practice giving zero f***s about others’ opinions. Tune in on how you’re feeling (is this what you want? Is it good for you), not on what someone else might think of it. And remember: Most of the time, you don’t even know what they’re thinking. So why worry about it?

3 Make a Bucket List

Set up a list of all the things you would love to do, but are too scared to do. Pick one of the points on the list every month, and do it. One “small” thing every month, one big thing every year (skydiving, rafting, singing on stage).

4 Stretch Your Comfort Zone

Courage isn’t just about doing Very Scary Stuff. It’s also about finding the “awkward spot”. Doing things that make you feel uneasy, like chatting with this handsome person on the train, leading a meeting, speaking up about what you like in bed, getting up on the roof to fix the gutter when you’re afraid of heights, taking pole dancing lessons – everyday stuff you would rather avoid.

5 Dare to Make Mistakes

The fear of failure may stop you from doing scary stuff. But if you never make mistakes, this means you never take risks – and your life will be very dull. The more mistakes you make, the more you learn, and the more you grow.

Text: Dorien Vrieling – Photo: Todd Quackenbush

It may seem like a contradiction: Being friendly and kind, yet guarding your boundaries. But saying no and remaining friendly is perfectly possible. In fact, it’s a way of practicing loving-kindness. Towards yourself, and others.

Loving-kindness doesn’t mean you have to be limitless in your efforts to help other people or to be liked. Metta, the form of Buddhism in which loving-kindness is key, means wishing another person to be happy, to find their way towards a lighter way of living. It’s an attitude that you can practice without saying things you don’t mean.

The first part of the metta meditation is: “May I be happy, may I be well, may I be safe.” In the second part, you wish the same to someone else. In the third part, you wish the same to everyone. That’s why metta is about wholeness and unity. You wish for the wellbeing of every living creature, including yourself. Loving-kindness can be: no, I can’t help you right now, but I wish for you that your needs will be fulfilled.

Seven Ways to Say No in a Friendly Way:

1. Look the person in the eye, stand firmly and speak clearly. Make contact.

2. If you know immediately that your answer will be “no”, act right away. By waiting and replying later, you leave them “hanging” and you carry the decision with you. If you haven’t decided yet, ask for some time to think.

3. Don’t use words like “maybe” or “later” when all you want to say, is no.

4. Oftentimes, you can phrase the reason for saying no in a positive way, by letting them know what you will be focusing your time and attention on. If you want, you can thank them for the trust they put in you by asking you this question.

5. Give one reason for saying no, and stick with that. Keep it short and simple.

6. If someone keeps pressing, explain to them in a friendly manner that this makes you feel uncomfortable.

7. Leave room for this person’s possible disappointment, by acknowledging it and not judging – but don’t turn it into your problem.

Photo: Dangtimô Thimô 

Are you always right in time, or always running late? Creative, a perfectionist, athletic? Your hands reveal many things about you. The size of your hands, the length of your fingers, and your skin structure show your character. That comes in handy when you’re on a date, or during a job interview.

Firm Handshake

You probably met them: people who almost crush your hands when you meet. How does that make you feel about a person? Depending on your own personality, you might think of them as self-confident or too dominant. Ira Nagel, hand reader and owner of the Namasté Café in The Hague: ‘People with a firm, dry handshake are decisive and often dominating. A limp handshake means the opposite: lack of self-confidence. Clammy hands reveal a person is nervous and represent sensitivity.’

Your skin structure

Rough skin structure: fierce, go-getter
Normal skin structure: balanced, aware of other people’s feelings
Delicate skin structure: sensitive (to vibes)

Big or Small Hands

Does a person have relatively big or small hands? People with big hands are often bon vivant, versatile persons. People with small hands are quick thinkers and often a bit impatient. Ira: “In a conversation with a small-handed person, you have to get to the point quickly, or they’ll get restless. They are often proactive people who see the bigger picture. Conversation partners with big hands are calmer, and the ones with long fingers are analytic. People with mid-size hands are both intuitive and rational, which makes them good at mediation.”

The length of your fingers

Long fingers: analytic, an eye for detail
Short fingers: helicopter view, focused on action
Mid-length fingers: a combination of both qualities


The length of your phalanges reveals whether you’re an emotional, a rational or a physical person. People with an upper phalanx that’s longer than the middle and lower one, are often emotional and decide upon their feelings. A longer middle phalanx is common with rational people and a long lower phalanx represents the need for a physical challenge. “A constricted lower phalanx means you’re not grounded enough,” says Ira.

Your phalanges

Longest upper phalanges: inspiring, spontaneous, creative
Longest middle phalanges: rational, turns ideas into plans
Longest lower phalanges: grounded, focused on actions, physical challenge

The Length of Your Fingers

“If your index finger is shorter than your ring finger, you’ve experienced a longer period of insecurity. This period might be over, but the finger won’t grow,” Ira explains. A middle finger that’s almost a phalanx longer than the index finger and the ring finger, often belongs to a structured person who keeps a promise. A short pinky (the top doesn’t reach the ring finger’s upper phalanx) often belongs to late bloomers whose lives change quickly after their thirtieth birthday. An index finger that’s longer than the ring finger represents people who take on the same role at home as they have at work.

Which finger is the most striking?

Thumb: perseverance, will power
Index finger: growth, ambition, self-awareness, spirituality
Middle finger: responsibility, structure, seriousness
Ring finger: lust for life, energy, happiness
Pinky: communication, self-expression


Can you easily move back your fingers? Then you might give in too easily. Your left hand represents your private life, the right one represents work. Ira: “It could be that the fingers of your left hand are more bendable because you’re more flexible in your private life than in your working life.” A thumb that’s very bendable, means you change opinions easily due to other people’s opinions.

See the lines in your hands

Few lines: knows how to stick to their own opinion, not too impressionable
Many lines: chaotic mind, sensitive to stress, impressionable
Very delicate, thin lines: highly sensitive


Our mental state influences our physical wellbeing – that’s nothing new. Yoga, meditation and mindfulness are based on that principle. But why does that headache keep bothering you? How do you get rid of the stress-induced pain in your throat? And what about the menstrual trouble?

Psychosomatics offers a better understanding of your physical complaints. Don’t expect everything to heal spontaneously, or to come across truths that are set in stone, just use the knowledge to explore the symbolism of your physical symptoms. These are a couple of the most common physical problems and what they mean, according to the book Krankheit als Symbol (Illness as a Symbol) by Margit Dahlke.

Urinary Infection

Psychological pressure and the challenge of letting go, that’s what Dahlke links to a urinary infection. You’re letting go of something that was essential to you, and that’s painful. A urinary infection symbolises letting go. The challenge is to just let it happen.

Throat Ache

Throat ache is known as a herald for the flu, but sometimes there’s no flu involved. It’s often related to problems in the area of communication and expression: Matters of the throat chakra. A throat ache represents defending the way to your inner world: Not swallowing everything anymore. A recurring throat ache challenges you to find out what it is you don’t want to swallow anymore.


When your voice is hoarse, it doesn’t show its full potential. It’s the voice of someone who can’t stand for what they’re saying yet. Illness, yelling and smoking can make a voice more hoarse, but the source of it is that the voice isn’t fully supported by the abdomen. People with a hoarse voice, according to Dahlke, should learn to be silent and turn inwards.


A misbalance between the heart and the mind causes a headache. According to Dahlke’s book, it represents a heavy head: Perfectionism and willpower can be obstacles. You need both qualities, but sometimes they cross a line, causing your headache. Dance, go outside, paint. Empty your mind by being and thinking playfully.

Menstrual Disorders

Menstrual disorders, in the most broad sense, are connected to sexuality and a complicated mother-daughter relationship. On a deeper level, the fear of a new life or death, the circle of life, can be a cause.


Hayfever can be a symbol for fear of impulsiveness and love. Especially spring, with all its plants and flowers in bloom and pollen flying around, make patients’ noses stuffy. It’s a reaction to a time that represents new life and reproduction, that’s why it’s linked to love.

Text: Fabienne Peters – Photo: Asdrubal Luna

Your body consists of lots of water, and many bodily functions depend on the fluid. How much you need, depends. For instance, if you exercise a lot or if you’re pregnant, you need to drink more. On average, it’s best to drink at least 1,5 to 2 liters a day.

If you don’t drink enough, your body has several ways of telling you so. Before you grab a painkiller when you feel a headache coming up, or before you think you’re having a snack attack: These signals suggest your body is simply longing for more water.

1 Thirsty

Obviously: If you’re thirsty, you need to drink water. However, the body doesn’t always tell you you’re thirsty. The frequency of your toilet visits is telling. On average, you should go 4 to 10 times a day. If you go less frequently, you don’t drink enough.

2 Trouble Focussing

If you don’t drink enough, your brain isn’t able to function optimally. This makes it harder to focus. A dose of cafeïne may seem just what you need, but a simple glass of water is a better option.

3 Hungry

Before you open the fridge for the 10th time today, just have a glass of water to find out if it’s really food you need. It might be thirst. Your brain isn’t always able to tell the difference, so it gives a hunger signal while all you need is some water.

4 Headaches

If you often have a headache or even migraine, it might be a sign you’re not drinking enough water. Scientists aren’t sure what the connection between the two is, but for many people, headaches are less frequent when they start drinking more.

5 Bad Breath

Sure, if you just had a pizza with extra garlic on it, it’s wise to chew on a leaf of mint to hide the intense smell. But if you’re having a bad breath for no reason, a lack of hydration may be the cause. The bacteria living in your mouth multiply more quickly in a dry environment. Having a few glasses of water helps to restore the natural balance of your saliva, which has an antibacterial effect.

6 Lack of Energy

Feeling listless? For almost every bodily function, water is needed. If you don’t drink enough, your energy level decreases.

7 Constipation

Another ailment you can really, really do without: constipation. Water is like a lubricant for the bowels. If you hardly go for a number two – or you spend more time at the toilet than you’d like – drinking more water can really help.

Text: Sanne Eva Dijkstra

Theoretically, the days of your weekend are days without obligations. But in reality, before you know it, they are filled with all sorts of things – from having coffee with friends to going to the gym and cleaning up. In the blink of an eye, it’s Sunday night. Good news: It’s possible to change your perspective of time – and enjoy that true, relaxed, weekend feeling. 

1. Are You Doing What You Really Like?

Take a good look at your calendar. Are there any appointments you really don’t feel like, such as visiting your parents in law, or going to the gym with your friend? ‘Clean up’ your diary, and then focus on something you really like: whether it’s taking the dog for a walk, or playing your guitar, or updating your diary.

2. Take it Easy

Try to do the things you want to do in a slower pace than usual. That’s how you enjoy the moment and focus on your own life. Take a detour to the supermarket, spell out the newspaper and pay attention to the ladybug that’s walking up your window sill. Slowing down means having a more intense experience. Reading a nice book is a good example: it’s nice to have finished it, but it’s also nice to reread the best lines a few times.

3. Use Your Mind as a Time Machine

Are you experiencing something you’d like to remember, and keep it as a memory? If you think of ways to share this experience with others, you’ll increase your focus. It makes you think of how it smells, what it feels like. If you really looked forward to something, think about the feeling in your belly you had beforehand. Try to be more alert by breathing in and out, and by telling someone else how happy you are and how much you value what happened.

4. Every-day Vacation

Are you happier during vacation than on an average day? Try to take pieces of your holiday into your daily routine. Sit outside with a cup of tea, to enjoy the sun and your surroundings. Let sunset amaze you. Take a walk during your lunch break and walk into a nice shop, or visit the park nearby.

5. Ignore Distractions

When you’re on vacation, you don’t allow your mobile phone to distract you as much as on a “normal” day. So why don’t you put it on flight mode every once in a while? It makes it much easier to just enjoy the moment and focus on whatever it is you’re doing.

Text: Sophie Spanjer – Photo: Rachael Crowe

While marriage is celebrated extensively, there’s often not much more to divorce than a pen stroke. That’s while the divorce is a milestone too, and one that deserves just as much attention. There will only be room for growth when you close off the marriage the right way.

“Taking responsibility” is one of the key concepts in “Spiritual Divorce” by American coach and author Debbie Ford.  In this book, she describes how devastating divorce is; how ex-partners are sometimes lonely, hopeless, and furious. On the fragments, something new can be built, Ford writes. But for that to happen, a painful process is needed. A process of thorough and honest introspection.

Divorce as a Wake-up Call

What went wrong, Ford wondered during the many sleepless nights after her own divorce. What did she do wrong? How could she have been so blind? In inner dialogues, she kept lamenting endlessly: life is horrible, I can’t trust anyone, I’ll never let anyone get so close again.

Until she started looking at her divorce as a spiritual wake up call. A painful one, to be sure, but she saw it as a chance to take a good look at herself, and at her own part in the failed marriage. ‘If you ignore this wake-up call, you’ll make the same mistakes again,’ Ford warns.

The Seven “Laws”

1.          Acceptance

Everything happens for a reason, Ford is convinced of that. Everything is as it should be. Learning to accept this, and your painful divorce is her first and most important “law”.

2.          Surrender

As soon as we stop resisting what’s happening in our lives, and surrender to the situation, there’s room for change. Resistance is the biggest obstacle on the way to “recovery”.

3.          Modesty

By being humble in the process of accepting and surrendering to what’s happening, by switching off ego and pride, we can gain wisdom.

4.          Responsibility

We need to look at our own part in the divorce.  Love drama is almost always caused by two people. We need to (have the guts to) take responsibility for our own role.

5.          Choice

As soon as we have taken responsibility, we’ve gained options. We can choose new interpretations of what happened, interpretations that make us stronger, instead of weaker.

6.          Forgiveness

We need to grow compassion and forgiveness for ourselves. If we can do that, we can forgive the other person too.

7.        Creation

Forgiveness leads to freedom. It makes us break free from our past and create a new future.

Text: Eveline Brandt – Photo: Aaron Burden

Do you know Marie Kondo, the Japanese tidying guru? According to Marie, the question we should ask when tidying, is: “Does it spark joy?” This question might be applicable to more things in life. If you’re not sure about your friendship, the Marie Kondo way can be helpful. 

You probably know them, too: people you once were really close to, but not so much anymore. If it happens in a love relationship – you’re growing apart -, it usually results in a breakup. Friendships, however, are not monogamous, so you don’t really need to “end it”. The relationship keeps muddling through and before you know it, you’ve collected several friendships that hardly offer you anything anymore.

Andrea Bonior wrote the book The Friendship Fix and recommends people to really think about what you want and expect of your friends. Someone who’s a good listener, someone who makes lots of fun with you, someone who shares your hobby? In an ideal world, your best friend has it all and all your friends bring out the best in you. In reality, it’s different. Because someone is really emotionally dependent. Or because they bring up the nasty, gossiping side of you. The more time you spend together, the more difficult it is to be the best version of you.

Sounds like you? Then it’s time to unfriend people using the Marie Kondo method. This is how.

Don’t End it Overnight

Which friendships make you happy? These are the ones you should hold onto. With regard to the other ones, it’s quite simple: If they bring out a negative side in you, it’s better to end it. This might sound a bit harsh, but when push comes to shove, both you and your friend benefit from honesty.

You don’t have to “break up” overnight. Just get in touch less often and see how it feels and what happens. The other person may have noticed the same as you, and they may be fine with more distance. They may also ask you what’s going on. If they do, it’s best to explain in a friendly way that your life is going in a different direction than it used to, Bonior advises.

If your friend asks questions, don’t leave them hanging, but take the time to explain how you feel about the friendship. You don’t owe them to be their friend, but you do owe them a fair answer.

Remaining Friends Within a Group or Not?

For some people, big groups of friends work really well and they don’t really mind if a one on one friendship disintegrates: within the group as a whole, the connection can still be there. However, this is about your needs. If you feel that it’s time to let go of the friendship, there’s your decision. If it’s fine with you to see each other every once in a while when there are other friends around, that’s OK, too.

When it comes to friendships, it’s pretty much the same thing as tidying up. Some people are fine with a bit of chaos. No problem, according to Marie Kondo herself: “There’s nothing wrong with a chaotic house if that is what you want. However, I would advise to create a spot for every belonging and to have some sort of overview. That’s how you make sure your aware of the situation and that’s the most important thing.” It works the same with friendships.

Text: Eline Hoffman – Photo: Kalisa Veer

How do you forgive a loved one? How do I get myself to accept my pain? How can I start to think more positively about the person who has hurt me so much, what is the secret? The secret is that you don’t need this person. The essence of forgiveness is to dismiss the other person from the obligation to live up to your expectations.

The basics of forgiveness are knowing what you long for and allowing yourself too long for it, while at the same time no longer expecting someone else to fulfil your wishes. Or: “I long for a certain form of love, care and acknowledgement. But you don’t have to be the one to give it to me.”

Forgiving Doesn’t Mean “Water Under the Bridge”

In relationships it’s probably most difficult, because why would you have a partner if they can’t give you the love, care and acknowledgement you are looking for? However, forgiving is extremely important in relationships. Scientists say we should be aware that forgiving doesn’t mean “water under the bridge”, nor does it mean justifying things or apologising for them.

Nobody is entitled to forgiveness, it’s always a present. It has nothing to do with weakness. You can forgive someone and, at the same time, hate what they did or even find it unforgivable. And you can forgive someone for something and, at the same time, never want to see them again.

Do you Want to Stay Together?

If you stay together, you need to know forgiveness is a process that takes time. It’s wise not to tell your partner “I forgive you” because they will think that you have done so right then and there. If you’re not loving and understanding immediately, they may get frustrated or confused. It’s better to say: “I will try to forgive you, but give me time.”

Think of the times when your partner did give you love, care and acknowledgement. And realise that you don’t live for other people’s acknowledgement or love, but to fulfil your own life goals. That you can be a light for yourself within a relationship. And give yourself time.

Photo: Toa Heftiba

We’ve all been there: A friend, family member, or acquaintance said something about us and really hurt our feelings. If you’re a highly sensitive person, it’s even harder for you to handle judgment. The good news is: You can make it easier for yourself. 

“When someone judges the road you’re taking, lend them your shoes.” This proverb is a nice reminder for anyone who would like to care less about other people’s judgment. One of the most important things in life is to do what makes you happy. Even if it means being different.

Need for Harmony

The difficulty is that people have a natural tendency to judge. Especially if you choose to go your own way, you may encounter hurtful opinions, lack of understanding and judgment. They can make you feel really small, especially when you’re highly sensitive and need harmony and peace. A judgmental look, mean smirk or a bad vibe can lead you to a downward spiral.


People who are highly sensitive, think a lot. Other people’s judgment can remain in their heads for days. Am I doing something wrong? Am I crazy? Why do people judge me? Does it matter that I do things differently than my friend or family member? Why can’t people see me for who I am, just for who they want me to be? This self doubt can drive us crazy.

Many highly sensitive people handle the doubt by adjusting. They are very empathetic and do the best they can to understand others and meet their needs. It’s their way to keep the peace, and it shows how sensitive and well-intentioned they are. But in the end, it makes them cross their own boundaries, time and time again. It’s important not to let other people’s judgment determine what you think, and do what feels right for you.

Be True to Yourself

It’s incredibly hard not to care about what others think, yet very important. Sometimes, criticism is constructive, or friends mean well with their judgment. Of course, it’s wise to listen to them. But once you feel their judgment isn’t just, it’s even more important to put it aside. That way, you make sure the judgment doesn’t bring you down, and you stay true to yourself.

How to handle other people’s (unjust) judgment:

1. Take a deep breath

Make sure you don’t get into a heated discussion. Keep your distance and discuss how you feel with a good friend before you carefully decide how to react. Distance makes a situation less complicated and allows you to calmly express your feelings.

2. Depersonalise the judgment

It’s wise to think about this: chances are the judgment has to do with the person giving their opinion, rather than it has to do with you.

3.  See through the charade

People with severe opinions about others, often have a low self esteem. If you don’t accept yourself unconditionally, with all your flaws, you can’t accept anyone else. Putting labels on people or judging them, is a way for them to control you. By realising this, you can put the judgment aside.

4. Talk about what’s bothering you

Possibly, they don’t know what their judgment feels like to you. By expressing what’s bothering you, you allow them to explain their behaviour. It brings you peace, because your intentions are pure. If they react compassionately, the two of you might reach a new level of connection.

5. Focus on people who do support you

It’s impossible to satisfy everyone around you. Don’t waste your energy on hostilities and negativity, but find the people and situations that actually make you happy.

Text: Joanne Wienen – Photo: Carolina Heza