The Meaning of Life

The Meaning of Life

Michael and I recently spent a couple of weeks visiting family and friends in my native Switzerland. There we stayed at my brother’s place, where the following message adorned our room and inspired me to write this blog post:


Dalai LamaHow true!

May I go even further than the Dalai Lama, and say that making a difference for others also holds the key to our own happiness? Maybe even our physical and mental health?

I believe so. In fact, more and more studies show a definite link between contentment and health.

Which brings me to altruism’s opposite: self-absorption, or self-centredness.

Self-absorption is an obsession with personal gratification.

Externally, it can manifest as more and more stuff, food cravings and/or sexual encounters. Sensory pleasures might fill our life, but they cannot fill our inner void. Hence their addictive nature linked to on-going dissatisfaction.

Internally, self-centredness leads to focussing on one’s inner life at the expense of our relationships with others. We get so caught up in our own thoughts, feelings and emotions that we aren’t really present.

Notice that self-absorption is not to be confused with self-awareness.

The difference lies in ego involvement.

In self-awareness, we become our own observer from a higher perspective, with little ego attachment. We’re fully engaged in the moment whilst noticing what’s happening in body and mind. We don’t judge, we just learn something new about ourselves.

That’s why self-awareness – also known as mindfulness – has positive cognitive and behavioural consequences.

Whereas in self-absorption, ego runs the show through never-ending commentary and judgements. “What about me?” is the key concern. And over time such mental rumination often leads to a downward spiral of anxiety and low self-esteem. For some, depression is the end result.

So if you’re unhappy right now, do whatever it takes to shift your attention from self-absorption to self-awareness.

“Easier said than done”, you might think. And yet it can be done. I know for sure. Because at some stage I did it myself.

So here are three tools best used together:

  • Make a conscious effort to follow the Dalai Lama’s words of wisdom and make a difference for others. Review every night what you’ve contributed to the world that day, and what you’re grateful for. Every time you have something to celebrate, you’ll feel a little bit happier. Guaranteed.
  • DancingGet out of your mind by becoming more physically active. Practice dynamic forms of meditation. Dance like nobody is watching. Learn martial arts. Go walk in nature and focus on your surroundings without judgements. Breathe more deeply.
  • Attend retreats designed to help you shift gear in a matter of days. Yes, some personal development workshops are the fast track to inner change. If you live in Australia or New Zealand, check the In-Tuition & Freedom workshop offered by the INNER PEACE Institute for Wellbeing.

Michael and I created these INNER PEACE workshops in order to change lives. And we’ve had the privilege to help thousands of people over the past 20 years. So we know from personal experience that the Dalai Lama’s words are spot on:

HH XIV Dali Lama

“If you contribute to other people’s happiness, you will find the true goal, the true meaning of life.”





All the best for your journey. I hope you enjoy your life with ever-increasing self-awareness, clarity and joy.

Much love,


Marlyse Carroll - author, artist and facilitator

Foods and Moods

Foods and Moods

Have you ever noticed the correlation between your meals and your moods?

What a silly question, you might think. Everyone knows what a big lunch does to afternoon productivity. Not to mention the thin line between hunger and anger for some people!

In this article, we’ll explore the long-term links between foods and moods. And how simple diet changes could seriously raise the bar on how you feel most of the time.

I became very aware of this connection last year.

It started in February. “Bad news, said the doctor after my yearly medical check up. You’re borderline diabetic.”

choices-road-signHis words gave me a shock. Continue reading Foods and Moods

Marlyse Carroll - author, artist and facilitator

The Brighter the Light, The Darker the Shadow

The Brighter the Light,
The Darker the Shadow

I recently came across an excellent YouTube that uses the imagery of a black dog to represent depression.

It’s just four minute long and worth watching, even if you’ve already come across this concept:

I feel that this subject is particularly relevant at this time of the year. So close to Christmas, the general emphasis is on loving connections, close family ties, a joyful day spent with loved ones, gifts, generosity and gratitude. Continue reading The Brighter the Light, The Darker the Shadow

Marlyse Carroll - author, artist and facilitator

Hearing Voices Congress Day 3

Hearing Voices Day 3

The Congress closed on Friday night. And yes, it was most impressive right to the end.

Today I’ll give you just one quotation before sharing something personal that came out of it.

“People make recovery happen for themselves.
No one else can do it.”

So said Professor Marius Romme, the brilliant Dutch psychiatrist who founded the Hearing Voices Movement in 1987.

I couldn’t agree more.

And now for the personal story!

Bucket List

You might not know that Michael and I still have a big goal on our bucket list: to help fund a Foundation that supports people in spiritual crisis. Well, we’ve just found a way to start doing it. Continue reading Hearing Voices Congress Day 3

Marlyse Carroll - author, artist and facilitator

Hearing Voices Congress Day 2

Hearing Voices Day 2

Thursday night, back in our hotel room after another fascinating day at the World Hearing Voices Congress 2013.

World Hearing Voices Congress

The main purpose of the ‘Hearing Voices’ movement is to change mainstream Western paradigms of mental illness. It includes demystifying schizophrenia, offering holistic health solutions & hope to voice hearers, removing the stigma attached to psychotic labels and educating the public.

What really touched me today was the number of people willing to be real, presenters included. It does seem that most individuals involved in mental health have a personal reason for it, just as I have!

So it was wonderful to notice the overall level of openness.

Here are some of the gems gathered along the way: Continue reading Hearing Voices Congress Day 2

Marlyse Carroll - author, artist and facilitator

Hearing Voices Congress Day 1

World Hearing Voices Congress 2013

Hi There,

Michael and I have spent today at the World Hearing Voices Congress 2013 that opened this morning in Melbourne. What luck it’s held in our home city this year!

World Hearing Voices CongressAnd it’s a big deal – three full days of world-class speakers, workshops and discussions with about 650 delegates from all over the world.

Uniting Care Prahran Mission is hosting it. In their CEO’s words “It is the largest consumer-led mental health event in our country’s history, it puts the lived experience of hearing voices front and centre stage, and it is filled with hope and potential for us all.” Continue reading Hearing Voices Congress Day 1

Marlyse Carroll - author, artist and facilitator

Could depression be a blessing

Could depression be a blessing?

By Marlyse Carroll
(Author of ‘Am I Going Mad? The Unsettling Phenomena of Spiritual Evolution’ –

This question sounds far fetched, doesn’t it? Yet could it be true that depression, in some cases, is a blessing in disguise?

The label ‘depression’ covers three different inner experiences:

  1. Reactive depression, which is triggered by a painful life event.
  2. Endogenous depression, which happens as a result of physical imbalance such as disease, lack of sunshine, lack of essential nutrients, or substance abuse for example.
  3. Spiritual depression, which reflects the pain of feeling disconnected from The Force – to use Star Wars’ language.

Current Australian medical statistics tell us that depressive illness – the severe, long-term version of a depressive episode – does at some stage disrupt the life of 20% of the population.

Mid-life existential crisis

Whatever the cause, this condition is painful and can severely affect our relationships, health and ability to work.

So from a medical perspective, depression is best avoided at all costs. And since psychiatry doesn’t differentiate between causes, it treats them all under the same label – clinical depression – and with the same tools – psychotropic drugs.

Yet, the prognosis and outcome of a spiritual depression are very different from the other two. Continue reading Could depression be a blessing