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10 Ways Nature Helps Your Well-Being

Nature Well-Being

Photo by Wil Stewart on Unsplash

Nature — who doesn’t enjoy a walk outdoors? The fact that natural settings are less and less accessible to those who live in cities should be concerning, especially with respect to overall health and well-being. The fact is, however, that continuing research shows nature has multiple benefits for your well-being.

“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir

More than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and that proportion is projected to increase to 70 percent by 2050. Despite the many benefits of urbanization, studies show that the mental health of urban dwellers is negatively affected by their city environment, with a greater prevalence of anxiety and mood disorders and an increased incidence of schizophrenia.

Finding that bit of green space in cities or spending time in nature visiting rural areas may do more than provide a temporary escape from concrete, steel, and glass. Furthermore, nature activities help fight stress, as this handy resource guide shows.

Ways Nature Helps Your Well-Being

Being in nature improves creativity and problem-solving.

Ever been stumped, hit a wall, or unable to arrive at a well-reasoned decision? Most people have felt this at one time or another. It isn’t a coincidence that taking time out to be in nature can result in a subsequent creativity surge and/or the sudden realization of a workable solution.

Beyond that, according to 2012 research published in PLoS One, a cognitive advantage accrues from spending time in a natural environment.

Other research published in Landscape and Urban Planning found that complex working memory span improved and decreased anxiety and rumination resulting from exposure to natural green space.

Individuals with depression may benefit from interacting with nature.

Research published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in 2012 suggested that individuals with a major depressive disorder who engaged in 50-minute walks in a natural setting showed significant memory span increases compared to study participants who walked in an urban setting. Participants also showed increases in mood, yet the effects were not found to be correlated with memory, leading researchers to suggest that other mechanisms or replication of previous work may be involved.

Reductions in anxiety levels may result from green exercise.

While exercise is universally recommended to improve overall health and well-being, the benefits of green exercise have recently been studied relative to how such activity reduces anxiety levels.

  • Researchers found that green exercise produced moderate short-term reductions in anxiety and that the anxiety reduction levels were even greater for participants who believed they were exercising in more natural environments.

Urban and rural green spaces may help mitigate stress for children and the elderly.

Relief of stress is an ongoing goal for millions of Americans living in urban areas, as well as for residents of cities across the globe. For children and the elderly, access to parks, playgrounds, gardens, and other green areas in cities can help improve the health of these groups vulnerable to some of the challenges of urbanization.

Nature helps reduce stress through gardening.

Gardening can produce more than food for the table or aesthetically pleasing plants and landscaping. Working in the garden is also beneficial for reducing acute stress. So says the research from Van Den Berg and Custers (2011), who found reduced levels of salivary cortisol and improved mood following gardening.

A nature walk could help your heart and your well-being.

Among the many health benefits of being in nature, scientists say, is the protective mechanism that nature exerts on cardiovascular function. This is due to the association between improved affect and heat reduction from natural environments in urban areas.

  • Other research found that walks in nature reduce blood pressure, adrenaline, and noradrenaline, and such protective effects remain after the nature walk concludes.
  • In a study published in 2011, Japanese researchers suggested that habitual walks in a forest environment benefit cardiovascular and metabolic parameters.
  • Another Japanese study of middle-aged males engaging in forest bathing found significantly reduced pulse rate and urinary adrenaline, as well as significantly increased scores for vigor and reduced scores for depression, anxiety, confusion, and fatigue.

Mood and self-esteem improve after green exercise.

A 2012 study published in Perspectives in Public Health found that participants who experienced mental health issues and engaged in an exercise in nature activities showed significant improvements in self-esteem and mood levels. Researchers suggested combining exercise, social components, and nature in future programs may help promote mental healthcare.

Research by Barton and Pretty (2010) found that both men and women experienced improvements in self-esteem following green exercise, with the greatest improvements among those with mental illness.

  • The greatest changes in self-esteem occurred with the youngest participants, with effects diminishing with age.
  • Mood, on the other hand, showed the least amount of change between the young and the old.

Green space in a living environment increases residents’ general health perception.

Not everyone lives in a natural environment, where abundant trees and open space provide a welcoming respite from everyday stress and a convenient outlet for beneficial exercise. However, the addition of thoughtfully planned open spaces in urban environments can add to city dwellers’ perceptions of their general health. This is according to 2006 research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Nature can improve the quality of life for older adults.

As adults age, they often experience diminished quality of life due to medical issues and mental health concerns. In a 2015 study published in Health and Place, researchers found that nature exerts an influential and nuanced effect on the lives of older adults.

  • They further suggested that a better understanding of how seniors experience both health and landscape will better inform methods to improve daily contact with nature that can lead to a higher quality of life for this population.

Natural environments promote women’s everyday emotional health and well-being.

A sedentary lifestyle in urban environments has been linked with poor mental health among women. Yet, it’s more than just getting up from the desk in an office environment and taking a quick walk that works best to augment overall emotional health and well-being.

Increasing evidence shows that public access to natural environments helps women to alleviate stress and anxiety. It also facilitates clarity, reassurance, and emotional perspective.

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

Related Posts:

Combat Stress With Mindful Walking

10 Ways Stress Harms You

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10 Proactive Ways to Determine What Is Most Important

10 Proactive Ways to Figure Out What is most important to you

Photo by Andrea Reiman on Unsplash

What’s happening here is a lack of prioritization, of figuring out what is most important to you and then acting upon it. While not life-threatening, failing to determine what is most important can erode your quality of life. Identify key priorities to have more opportunities to be happy and productive.

10 Proactive Ways to Determine What Is Most Important

Identify the most important people in your life.

When you care about someone, they are important to you. Sometimes, however, we take loved ones, family members, friends, and coworkers for granted. This does both them and us a disservice. By listing the most important people in your life, you consciously recognize and value these meaningful relationships. Since man is naturally gregarious, tending to those closest to you is a practical, effective way to make the most out of life.

Think about what you most enjoy doing to find out what is most important.

For some, it may be arranging floral displays, trying new recipes, or walking at sunset with a loved one. Others may enjoy sports and recreational activities, reading books, listening to music, and participating in spirited debates. Whatever you most enjoy doing is important to you. It is more than passing the time or relaxing.

If you take the time to identify what you like doing the most, you are more likely to make room in your life to take advantage of those opportunities. Besides identifying what is most important to you, you will act upon that knowledge.

What qualities, skills, or talents do you have?

Looking back at your life, what qualities, skills, or talents would you say you have?

  • When you were a kid, were you great at marbles, ping pong, sledding, multiplication tables, and spelling bees?
  • Did you find you excelled in science or English, or math?
  • Are you skilled in carpentry, landscape design, building things, or figuring out how to fix what goes wrong?
  • Do you lose yourself in artistic expression, creating something from nothing?

There is a strong likelihood that what is most important to you is deeply embedded in these qualities, skills, and talents.

List your highest achievements and accomplishments to find what is most important.

Along with analyzing what you believe you do best, jot down the successes you’ve had. It doesn’t matter if it’s a huge accomplishment or something minor. What does matter is the feeling the result gave you. When you are proud and excited about your accomplishments, you experience joy and satisfaction in life. It is also a good hint that these are important to you.

Ask your friends, loved ones, and family to list your best qualities.

You might think you know your best qualities or strengths, but you might over- or underestimate what you’re good at. Besides, you are not very objective when it comes to self-analysis. That’s why asking those who know you best what they believe are your best qualities is illuminating.

  • You might discover, for example, that you possess keen analytic ability, something you haven’t tapped or put to effective use.
  • Could it be it’s your compassion that is most impressive?
  • Or the fact that you listen well and support others in a way that’s empowering and uplifting.

Once you know what these qualities are, you can decide what, if anything, you want to do to take advantage of them. There is something here that is important to you. Perhaps asking others to help you identify them is a painless way to figure this out.

Don’t sacrifice a goal despite the challenge because it’s too difficult.

One of the saddest things is someone giving up just as they are about to reach their goal. We’ve all done this. Some goals are incredibly challenging. They’re difficult, expensive, take a lot of time, or require resources and allies that are hard to come by. The secret to holding fast to a goal that seems out of reach is to break it down. Take it apart and identify stages or steps.

Focusing on the next stage instead of the end goal makes it easier to make the effort necessary to see this phase through. Over time, you’ll pass through various stages on the way to the goal. That’s how you achieve even the most challenging goal.

You can still pursue your dreams and make ends meet.

Stuck in a job you don’t like? You took it because you needed the money. Yet, you stuck with it because things haven’t changed financially, or you can’t see a way forward. Ditch this dead-end thinking and map out a plan to make changes that allow you to pursue your dreams and take care of your financial responsibilities.

You may decide to return to school to get additional training or pursue or finish a degree. What you learn, the people you meet, and the opportunities you are exposed to can profoundly affect your outlook. In addition, be sure to maximize your leisure and recreational pursuits. If you love skiing, schedule some ski trips. If painting is your forte, get busy creating in the medium of your choice.

Deal constructively with depression or anxiety that may stand in the way of doing what you want.

Fleeting sadness or anxiety is a normal part of life. Emotions, while not without pain, can motivate us to make necessary changes. Prolonged depression or anxiousness, however, will only be alleviated with professional help. Medication and/or therapy are in order. If you find these powerful emotions standing in the way of doing what is most important to you, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to get the help you need.

Get past the feeling that you’re not good enough.

Most of us have felt the sting of disappointment, either that we didn’t live up to our expectations or those of someone else. Overt or covert criticism, biting or harsh comments, and gradually shifting away from friends and colleagues add to the sinking feeling that we’re not good enough.

Yet, others don’t define us, and we should never allow them to act like they can. The only way to be good enough is to believe that you are. Since no one can make you do anything and only you decide how to live, choose the affirmative and uplifting option.

Select what gives you the best likelihood of achieving the outcome you desire. Give it your utmost effort, attention, and diligence. If you do your best, you’ll always be good enough. In fact, you’ll be better than simply good enough. You’ll be right where you want to be.

What makes you happy? Do that to find what is most important.

Happiness is like sunshine. It makes you feel good, envelops you in warmth, and costs nothing. Yet, how often do you walk away from happiness and involve yourself in a boring, uninvolving, repetitive, endless, or unproductive task? If you want to be happy, think about what makes you happy. Find a way to insert that pursuit or activity into your everyday life.

It might be walking in nature, working in the garden, whipping up a culinary delight, playing with the children, and making love to your partner. Whatever it is, this is something important to you, something you value highly. Be sure to do it as often as possible, with the full presence of the moment and joy that you can have this experience. This is a proactive way to determine what is most important to you.

This article was originally published on PsychCentral.

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How To Live What You Believe

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How To Keep Frustration From Blocking Your Goals

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Learn How to Manage Your Anger

How to Manage Your Anger

Photo by Matt Palmer on Unsplash

Anger is a much-misunderstood emotion. Powerful and often intense, anger can manifest in subtle ways. It can motivate you to act or compel you to act inappropriately. It’s also unpredictable. You may not always know when you’ll get angry, not understanding the triggers. Pent-up anger can lead to physical complications such as cardiovascular disease. Learning how to manage your anger is important, especially if you’ve noticed you’re experiencing this emotion more frequently or intensely.

Slow Down and Listen to Manage Your Anger

Let’s say you find yourself in a discussion with a co-worker, family member, or friend, and it starts to get heated. Listen carefully to what the other person is saying. Instead of blurting out an angry retort, hit the pause button.

  • Think of what you’ll say before it comes out of your mouth.
  • Slowing down will also help you figure out what’s behind the words — yours and others.
  • If your partner feels like you’re not spending enough time with him or her, for example, you can adjust your behavior and your words to recognize this fact and do something about it.

Say Hello to Humor

Laughter is a wonderful antidote to negativity and anger. It helps you put things into perspective and helps you not take yourself so seriously. When you feel like you are up to the brim with hostile thoughts and must stop yourself from saying or doing something out of anger, turn instead to lighter fare.

  • Watch a comedy.
  • Go to a website with humorous quotes or jokes. Be sure to avoid sarcastic humor, though, as that is counterproductive.

Put Some Relaxation into Your Life

There’s a lot to be said for learning how to relax and how that helps you deal with anger in a much more proactive and constructive way. Whether you engage in deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, or a walk outside in nature, putting relaxation techniques into your daily schedule will loosen you up and help soothe angry feelings.

Switch Your Routine or Environment to Manage Your Anger

  • If bottleneck traffic gets you riled up, try driving alternate routes on your regular commute.
  • If you can’t stand the mess the kids leave in the living room that greets you when you walk through the door, go in a side door.
  • Or ask your partner or an older child to clear away the biggest piles so it isn’t so noticeable.
  • Sometimes it’s also about changing the timing.
  • For example, let’s say you and your spouse or partner always argue at night. This could be triggered by stress because you’re exhausted, just looking at the mountain of bills, don’t feel well, or anticipate an argument. Make an appointment to discuss pressing matters at a different time to make your evening more enjoyable and relaxing.

Change the Way You Think About Things

Psychologists call this cognitive restructuring. Simply, it means reordering the way you think about things. You replace negative thoughts and words with those that are more reasonable. Instead of saying you failed and will never succeed, tell yourself that this was a disappointing result, makes you feel frustrated, but it’s not life-threatening. You will have other opportunities to succeed.

Here are some other tips to manage your anger:

  • Words to remove from your vocabulary (and thought processes) include “never” and “always.” These are ultimatums that back you into a corner. It’s better to give yourself some leeway.
  • Be conscious of goals. When you always have something to look forward to, it’s a little easier to look beyond an immediate emotion, such as anger. You can take the next step toward accomplishing your goals instead of stewing in anger.
  • Remind yourself to be logical. People aren’t out to get you. Their words and actions aren’t normally vindictive. Things happen sometimes. By reminding yourself that this is a temporary rough spot, you’ll help to deflate angry feelings before they become unmanageable.

When to Worry

While you can learn how to manage anger, some warning signs should be heeded. You may need help from a psychologist or other mental health professional if the following occurs:

  • Your relationships or work begin to suffer because of angry outbursts.
  • You’re afraid you might hurt others or yourself.
  • You feel like your anger is getting out of control.

This article was originally published on Psych Central.

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Related post:

8 Ways to Let Go of Anger


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5 Tips on How to Get Started When There’s Work to Do

Treetops Work to Do

Photo by Spencer Watson on Unsplash

There is work to do today. Do you wake up with dread? None of us like this feeling. But we must learn how to deal with it.  On the other hand, sometimes you’re eager to get started when there’s work to do.

“A feeling of aversion or attachment toward something is your clue that there’s work to be done.” – Ram Dass

Either feeling – aversion or excitement – is a clear sign that there’s work to do, and you need to do it. How you deal with these emotions will affect your motivation to keep going:

  • particularly when the going gets rough
  • but also the resulting outcome.

How can you turn dread or anticipation into action that makes sense, is effective, and allows you to feel a sense of accomplishment and increased self-esteem?

Tips to Get Started When There’s Work to Do

Here are some tips to help get you started.

Take a minute to process the emotion – and don’t be overcome by it when there’s work to do.

Undoubtedly, the prospect of diving into a mountain of tax receipts on a deadline is the last thing you want to do. Or you might be so eager to get on the road on your vacation that you slip and fall out of bed.

  • Take a minute to process your emotions before you get up.
  • This gives your mind time to arrive at a game plan and organize your thoughts before you need to do the work.
  • Be aware that conflicting emotions can occur simultaneously.
  • That’s OK. Acknowledge them, then proceed.

Learn to separate what’s nice from what’s necessary.

Both will not be true. You might find it pleasant to think about swimming in the ocean, but you know you must go to work. It might feel great to lounge around all day in your sweats, but you’ve got clients to see. You cannot wear sweats and make a good impression.

  • It’s fine to think about what’s nice, but don’t dally.
  • Get on with what’s necessary.
  • Bonus: Dwelling briefly on what beckons gives you temporary satisfaction before diving into the work.

Prioritize tasks and give yourself sufficient time to complete them when there’s work to do.

Either take projects in order or arrange them according to a prioritization that works for you.

  • Do the most difficult one first to make some headway at it.
  • Or start with some quick and easy ones you can get out of the way so that you feel a sense of making progress.
  • Once you finish one, cross it off your list.
  • This is a visual reminder that effort equals accomplishment.

If you’ve fallen behind when there’s work to do, devise a plan that won’t overwhelm you.

Everybody gets swamped at times. Instead of tossing your hands in the air and writing off the project or task as hopeless, figure out a plan or approach that will be effective and won’t overwhelm you.

  • This is where the intention to underpromise and overdeliver will pay off nicely.
  • You’ll gradually become accustomed to the pace you feel comfortable maintaining.
  • And you can better estimate the time and effort specific tasks will take.

Recognize that work – what you do — is the best way to show who and what you are.

Another way to get started with work is to remember that your output is a straightforward way to show others who and what you are.

  • Since no two people approach a project the same way, this shows your uniqueness, talent, decision-making ability, and willingness to continue until the job is done.
  • You want to put forth your best efforts.
  • This requires that you jump in and act.
  • Perseverance, willingness to accept responsibility for your output, and taking pride in your accomplishments are all part of what it takes to get the job done.


This article was originally published on PsychCentral.com.

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How to Be Flexible With Your Perceptions

7 Tips to Use Time Wisely

How to Be Even More Effective

Success Means You Make Things Happen


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10 Tips to Start the New Year Right


Photo by Tim Marshall/Unsplash

It’s 2017, time to get off on the right foot. All the procrastination, stuffing yourself, indulging to excess, staying up too late – that’s got to go. Replace those bad habits and pure laziness with healthier behaviors.

Trust me. It’s not that difficult.

If you want to jumpstart a pattern of living life to the fullest, feeling joy and fulfilment as well as peace, some of these tips may be just what you need.

Set Your Priorities

You must set your own priorities. Never let others do this for you. The corollary to this advice is to never allow others to impose their priorities on you. To live according to someone else’s wishes is no way to enjoy life. That’s a charade, not something you want to pursue. When you make your own choices, prioritizing what’s important and what’s not, you’re in control. This is a top recommendation for starting off the new year right.

Be Accountable

Remember that what you do has consequences. Every word and action you take has reverberations, many of which you may never know about. People look up to you and model their behaviors after yours. Live with integrity, owning your responsibilities as well as your faults, making good on the mistakes you’ve made.

Prize Self-Improvement

Make it a point to continually improve. Whether it’s learning a new skill, taking a class, getting involved in a hobby, working on interpersonal communication or something else, self-improvement is integral to living a vibrant, purposeful life. The goal is to achieve the best you can, to be the best person you can be. Accept nothing less.

Know Your Limitations

In your drive to improve yourself, keep in mind that you must know your limitations. This doesn’t mean that you don’t push past your comfort zone. You need to do that to grow. Push, but not too far.

Recognize Opportunities

You can train yourself to recognize opportunities. In fact, being able to identify an opportunity is the first step toward success in any new endeavor.

Rely on Your Strengths

There are going to be rough times, periods when the only thing you’ve got going for you is your inner strength. This is what you call on to get you through problems, tragedies, pain, sorrow and suffering. It’s also your inner strength that will help you navigate complex situations, difficult challenges and obstacles.

Maintain Balance

It’s important to maintain a sense of balance in life. If you veer too far out in one area, rein it in. It doesn’t matter if its work-home balance, or diet-exercise-sleep balance, or another kind of balance. What does matter is keeping things in harmony. Lack of sleep and pushing yourself mercilessly won’t result in success. Just the opposite, in fact. But maintaining good self-care, recognizing stress and employing adequate coping strategies, taking time for fun and relaxation – these will help you maintain balance. Now’s as good a time as any to get started.

Be Genuine in Relationships

One of the most powerful resources you have can be summed up in one word: relationships. But just having mere acquaintances isn’t enough. To gain the most from relationships, you need to be genuine always. No phoning it in. A key aspect of being genuine is learning to be an active listener.

Speak Clearly

How many times have you thought one thing and said another? It’s no wonder others misinterpret your intentions. You’re not being clear. People aren’t mind readers. If you want to convey something, speak clearly. It’s also important to say what you mean and do what you say. This builds personal integrity, inspires trust and makes others view you as reliable.

Dream Big

If you’ve given up on something that you once thought important, maybe it’s time to revisit that dream or goal. Just because the time wasn’t right before doesn’t mean it is lost for good. With respect to goals and dreams in general, dare to dream big. Nothing inspires and motivates like a heartfelt goal. Consider the fact that if it means so much to you, it’s something to aspire to and figure out ways to bring the dream or goal to reality. This last part is vital. It’s not enough to dream. You must be willing to act on your intention.

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Related articles:

5 Ways to Find Peace of Mind

10 Quick Ways to Take a Much-Needed Break

10 Ways Stress Harms You

Self-Care: The Most Important Person to Take Care of Is You


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10 Ways Lies Hurt You

ways lies hurt you

Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

What are the ways lies hurt you? And we’ve all told lies from time to time. But lying always has a profound effect. Here’s a look at 10 ways lies hurt you.

10 Ways Lies Hurt You

If getting away with lies gets you ahead, it’s hard to stop lying. Half-truths count as lies, just like big whoppers. Lying is negative. Telling the truth is positive. How badly do lies hurt? Check out the ways lies hurt you.

  1. Ways Lies Hurt You: The More You Lie, the Easier It Gets

Like a sled rocketing down an icy slope, repeated lies begin to spew out of your mouth without any effort. You’ve gotten away with it, suffered no ill consequences, and have no governor on your tongue to keep your lying at bay. After a brief time, it’s easier to lie than tell the truth.

  1. The More You Lie, the Bigger the Lies You Tell

What begins as a small lie never stays that way. One lie begets a slew of offspring, sometimes related, often just hanging around like ill-tempered friends. Think of a lie as a snowball, first small and accumulating in size as it rolls downhill. It’s also impossible to make a lie smaller once it’s begun to grow. Thus, the more lies you tell, the bigger they get.

  1. Lies Destroy Relationships

No relationship can flourish on a foundation of lies. How can you trust that person if you can’t rely upon a partner, loved one, close friend, or co-worker to tell the truth? When you know someone is a liar, it creates a chasm across which you’re increasingly reluctant to travel. In the wake of lies, relationships founder and fail or become quashed before they have a chance to begin.

  1. Lies Trigger the Release of Stress Hormones

A lie isn’t just words that come out of the mouth. Precipitating the verbalization of the lie is a build-up of stress hormones. You get excited, releasing cortisol and readying to combat the effects your lies might create. Long-term spikes in cortisol are bad for your health, creating a perfect stage for developing serious medical conditions.

  1. Ways Lies Hurt You: Lying Uses Copious Negative Physical and Mental Energy

When you lie, you must constantly think of how to spin it, where there’s a nugget that others may cling to, how much they’ll be able to buy before beginning to question the veracity, and how to keep others from finding out the truth. In short, constructing this negative and elaborate form of communication takes tremendous physical and mental energy. That’s energy better spent doing positive things.

  1. Constant Lying Builds a False Sense of Reality

It doesn’t take much time for you to begin believing your web of lies. In fact, the reality you inhabit is false. It just seems real to you. The more you lie, the more out of touch with reality your life becomes. You may not even recognize the truth anymore, let alone voice it – even to yourself.

  1. Lying Creates a Vicious Cycle

It’s often been said that once a lie is out of your mouth, there’s no putting it back. What’s also true is that lying sets into motion a vicious cycle. To exist, knowing that you’ve lied repeatedly, you must perpetuate the lie and rigidly adhere to it despite all proof to the contrary. Lying is a spiral that is impossible to escape from.

  1. Ways Lies Hurt You: Lies are a Way to Avoid the Pain of Living

Many people tell lies to mask the pain they feel in their lives. They don’t like that they have no or few friends, so they create imaginary friendships and boast of their connections. Pathological liars are all over social media and everyday fabricators who seek to maximize their made-up accomplishments to make themselves feel better and convince others of their superiority. This doesn’t work overall, as constant lying is a sign of some serious deficit in the liar’s emotional well-being.

  1. You Waste Time Covering Your Tracks

While there’s much good you could accomplish in life, when you habitually lie, you’ll miss opportunities because you spend so much time covering your tracks. This is time wasted, time you’ll never get back. Covering the trail of lies you’ve told is also increasingly impossible. Eventually, you’re going to get found out. Dreading that eventuality won’t make it go away.

  1. Lies Extinguish Hope and Trust

The accumulation of negativity because of lies has another life-altering effect: It destroys hope and trust. Not only is the liar incapable of trusting others or finding hope in any situation, but he or she has also drained all hope and trust in himself or herself. Life becomes bleak and dreary when all there is to look forward to is a never-ending litany of lies.

When you think of the ways lies hurt you, it makes sense to alter your behavior and stop lying. You will be happier and better able to live a vibrant life.

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10 Tips for Less Stress During the Holidays

Photo by Toa Heftiba/Unsplash

Photo by Toa Heftiba/Unsplash

If the sounds of Christmas carols playing in the malls make you cringe, it could be you’re letting the stress of the holidays get to you. With so much to do and so little time to get it done, this seemingly-innocuous musical reminder just adds more fuel to the fire. You’re primed and ready for these 10 tips for less stress during the holidays.

  1. You Don’t Have to Do Everything

Where is it written that you must be the poster person for everything done and everything right for the holidays? If you’ve assumed this mantle willingly, now’s the time to toss it aside. It’s impossible to be perfect, so why should you pursue perfection? The biggest hurdle for you to overcome is your own self-expectations. Tell yourself – and listen so it takes hold – that you don’t have to do everything. This is the first step to much less stress this holiday season.

  1. Know Your Own Limits

You might think you’ve got everything under control, even after you’ve told yourself that you don’t have to do it all, yet you still push yourself beyond what’s realistic. When you wind up haggard and exhausted at the end of the day, don’t look forward to tomorrow’s to-do list, start shortchanging your own well-being in a constant quest to do more, you’ve got to stop. Here is where you must know your own limits and never exceed them. You’ll be tempted, but don’t succumb.

  1. Make Your Boundaries Clear

If you haven’t let others know what you will and won’t do, you need to make your boundaries clear. Let them know it’s not OK to automatically expect you to host the big holiday dinner, just because you may have done so in the past. Times change, other responsibilities may take precedence, or it’s just not equitable, besides no longer being fun. Don’t think that others can guess what your boundaries are, however, because they can’t. Most won’t want to. You must tell them.

  1. Shop Online

The best thing that ever happened with holiday shopping, in my opinion, is the ability to easily, quickly and seamlessly do almost all of it online. Free shipping, discounts, extra gifts, suggestion lists, cash for purchasing via sites like eBates.com and TopCashBack.com are all excellent for easing this type of holiday stress.

  1. Watch What You Eat

Gobbling a sandwich on the run, skipping meals, eating unhealthy snacks and eating too much are all a recipe for increased stress, if not a serious medical condition. The human body requires nourishment, not junk food. Eat sensibly, in moderate portions, at the appropriate times and regularly. Not only will you have more energy, with good self-care you’ll be better equipped to deal with the stressors you’ll encounter during the holidays.

  1. Get Some Good Shut-Eye

Just as eating too much, too little or the wrong kind of food can increase your stress level, insufficient sleep is a huge contributor to added stress. It might be tough to get 8 hours of sleep each night, especially if you wait until the last minute to wrap presents, clean the house, launder the holiday linens and make sure all the decorations are in good shape, but this is one area you can’t afford to ignore. Remember the tip about knowing your limits and not trying to do everything? When it’s time to go to bed, go. You need your sleep.

  1. Steer Clear of Alcohol

Another big culprit in holiday stress is alcoholic consumption. One drink won’t kill you and probably is fine – unless you are in recovery, do crazy things with the slightest sip of alcohol, or some other reason – but keeping up with the party-hardy folks is just going to land you in a tight spot. Maybe literally, as in handcuffs from drinking and then driving. Just say no. Drink something festive and non-alcoholic. No one will care. And this is a safe choice that will cut down on your stress level as well.

  1. Begin (or End) Each Day with Something You Enjoy

If you want to have something to look forward to, begin or end each day with something you enjoy. Maybe that’s a massage from your partner, a specially-prepared latte, a hot bath or soothing shower, listening to your favorite album, taking a mindful walk outside, working in the garden. What it is matters less than you derive pleasure from doing it. The release of endorphins you get from doing something you enjoy will dramatically reduce your stress.

  1. Enlist Help and Make It Fun

Since there’s a finite amount of time and you only have so much energy to go around, one way that you can reduce your anxiety and stress during the holidays is to ask for help. If you also make it a fun activity, there’ll be less chance others will resent the request. Furthermore, if everyone pitches in, the task or project will get done that much quicker. Be sure to let others know you’ll reciprocate. It’s more than a grand gesture. It makes them even more willing to lend a hand.

  1. Cherish the Moments

Think about what it means to you to have your loved ones and family members to spend time with this holiday season. What you take for granted, others would gladly trade places to experience. Also, time goes by quickly. The moments you cherish and share now will be loving memories later. Love is a healing balm that can magically erase stress. Be open to it and soak up every minute with those you care about.

* * *

Related articles:

Combat Stress with Mindful Walking

How Your Memory Suffers with Poor REM Sleep

Self-Care: The Most Important Person to Take Care of Is You

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10 Ways to Make Mondays Better

ways to make Mondays better

Photo by Haley Hydorn on Unsplash

We’d all love to find ways to make Mondays better. You dread or try to avoid them, but you can’t escape Mondays. Here are 10 ways to make Mondays better that may change your mind about this day of the week.

10 Ways to Make Mondays Better

1. Ways to Make Mondays Better: Have Something to Look Forward to After Work

Nothing motivates me more than the prospect of doing something enjoyable after the workday. Put that something in your schedule.

  • Have fun.
  • Spend time with loved ones and friends.
  • Work on a hobby.
  • Participate in sports or recreational activities.
  • Engage in educational pursuits.
  • Go shopping.
  • Write.
  • Do whatever gives you a positive endpoint for your Monday

If it lifts your step and jazzes your spirit, Mondays may be one of your favorite days. If not that, at least they’ll be more pleasant.

2. Get to Work Early

Sleeping in won’t improve your Mondays. What may give you a leg up, however, is becoming an early riser — getting out of bed a little earlier. Go for a half-hour ahead of your normal wake time. That’s sufficient to help you gather your thoughts, prepare for the day, and allow for unexpected traffic, weather, or last-minute family details. And you’ll get to work ready to go. Stopping for your favorite latte along the way is another reason you might want to get up earlier.

3. Go Big

Many employees put off the tough tasks until they’re smacked against a deadline. Or the boss is banging on their door, looking for answers. Another way to make Mondays better? Tackling something you know is important and demands your full attention.

While it causes you to work a little harder than you want to first thing Monday morning, the sense of accomplishment and progress you’ll feel by getting to it boosts your self-esteem, self-confidence, and overall well-being. Besides, the boss will take notice, and that’s always good for raising your work profile.

4. Ways to Make Mondays Better: Prepare with Good Self-Care

If you’ve practiced partying until all hours from Friday night on, you are likely still hung over or feeling the effects. You can turn this around by instituting good self-care.

In addition to getting sufficient rest (go for 8 hours), eating well-balanced meals, cutting down on alcohol, and curbing smoking, find other ways to relax, restore and rejuvenate. These include:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Nature walks
  • Calming music
  • Self-reflection
  • Prayer

Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it. Greeting Mondays with a healthy body-mind-spirit makes the day so much better.

5. Map Out Time Chunks

Instead of looking at your to-do list with a sinking feeling that you’ll never get it all done, try this: map out time chunks. For example, if you have a report due tomorrow, allocate one to 1-1/2 hour or so to work on it today. If it’s something critical, move everything aside until you finish it.

Set aside a half hour to tend to email at a scheduled time, not whenever they come in. If you must answer emails from your boss, give them priority with an alert. The point is to arrange your day in time chunks. This provides a sense of order and a schedule you can easily follow.

6. Ways to Make Mondays Better: Craft a Plan

Your best approach for any project or task is to craft a plan.

  • How will you arrive at the result you’re looking for – or that someone else demands?
  • What resources do you need?
  • Will you need the assistance of others?
  • Are some elements missing?
  • How will these items affect timing or delivery?

With well-crafted plans, you’ll boost your self-confidence, knowing that you’ve considered variables and have a workable approach to pursue.

7. Take Mini-Breaks

You can’t go breakneck speed without a break unless you want to risk crashing into a dead stop along the way. Exhaustion, physical or mental, work stress, tension, irritability, anger, disappointment, and other negative effects from working nonstop will take their toll.

  • Ward them off with the simple and quick practice of taking mini breaks throughout the day.
  • Walk to the water fountain on the next floor.
  • Get up and stretch.
  • Do isometric exercises.
  • Close your eyes and meditate.
  • Take the stairs to your next meeting instead of the elevator.

Walk outside instead of within the building whenever possible to get fresh air and a unique perspective.

8. Go Somewhere Different for Lunch

Having something to look forward to at the end of the workday is the idea of going somewhere different for lunch. If you always bring a brown bag, and eat it at your desk, go to a park or somewhere in your work complex to eat.

If you go out for lunch only on Wednesday or Friday, switch to Monday to give your first work weekday a change-up. Not only will this brighten your day, but it will also make it speed by.

9. Ways to Make Mondays Better: Skip Coffee and Go for a Walk

Coffee may be a workday staple, but it doesn’t have to be a boring routine you’re locked into. For one of those times, you’re headed to the coffee room or vending machine, skip the coffee, and indulge yourself with a brisk 10-minute walk.

Outside is best, but even a walk in the building will suffice. You’re getting up and moving, which is always good for mental stimulation and physical exercise.

10. Celebrate all the Things you Accomplish

While you’re busy working on Mondays, be sure to take the time to celebrate all the things you accomplished today. It may seem trivial, but giving yourself credit for your hard work is important to your sense of completion, tending to your responsibilities, seeing the fruit of your labors, and making progress. It also helps make Mondays better. What better way to start the work week than with many accomplishments?

If you try these ways to make Mondays better, your Mondays will be better. Guaranteed.

* * *

Related articles:

10 Tips to Decrease Work Stress

5 Tips on How to Make Plans

Time-Saving Tips for Early Risers

How Do You Get Ready for the Day?

Self-Care: The Most Important Person to Take Care of Is You

* * *

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Featured post

Forgetful? 8 Tips to Help Memory

Photo by Stefanos Martanto Setyo Husodo/Unsplash

Photo by Stefanos Martanto Setyo Husodo/Unsplash


“We try many ways to be awake, but our society still keeps us forgetful. Meditation is to help us remember.” – Thich Nhat Hanh


The days leading up to a holiday are often filled with chores, errands and obligations. Not only do you find yourself with endless lists of things to do, but you often neglect good self-care in the process. No wonder you forget details, fail to live up to your obligations, or walk around in a fog.

Everyone has bouts of forgetfulness from time to time. It’s generally nothing serious and doesn’t linger. If forgetfulness does become persistent and begins to cause problems in your life or that of your loved ones, see a doctor to rule out any medical issue.

For the occasional memory problems, however, here are eight tips that may help.

Learn how to make and use lists.

Far from being a bother, lists are very effective in helping keep track of important tasks and goals. When you take the time to construct a list, you’re removing the burden of trying to keep too many things in your head. By eliminating this logjam, you’re freeing up memory. Listing things on paper is much simpler and more effective than juggling, and dropping, them in your head.

Get a good night’s sleep.

Lack of sleep is one of numerous causes of forgetfulness. In addition to waking up grumpy, insufficient sleep messes with your memory. You forget details, don’t remember what you told yourself the night before was important. The solution is to make it a habit to get a good 8 hours of sleep each night, more if you’re a teenager or young child.

Avoid drugs and alcohol.

As the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) warns, one of the ways alcohol affects the brain is by impairing memory. Memory deficits can occur after only a few drinks, increasing in length and severity with more drinks consumed. Binge drinking – consuming five or more drinks in about 2 hours for men, four for women – causes blackouts. These are serious episodes where you wake up and don’t remember anything from the night or day before.

Drug use, whether prescription or illicit substances, can produce similar impairment in memory. Some drugs also interact with other medications and significantly impair memory when used in combination with alcohol.

The best way to protect your memory is to avoid drugs and alcohol, especially to excess.


Clearing your head of all the conflicting messages can give you more than just peace of mind. It can also aid memory. For centuries, people have been practicing meditation to produce a sense of harmony and balance, as well as the calming influence it bestows. And studies have shown that mindfulness meditation helps with attention span and memory. When you meditate, you’re not shutting off all thoughts as much as you’re acknowledging them and letting them go. The resulting peace of mind disentangles those internal conflicts you felt and allows your memory to recalibrate. Also, try mindful walking to ease stress and help with memory.

Do one thing at a time.

Unless you’re a professional juggler, you can’t juggle more than one thing at a time. In a similar manner, trying to do more than one thing at a time is likely to result in a less-than-favorable outcome for both. Not only that, but you don’t focus completely on the task at hand, thus splitting your concentration and causing your memory to work overtime when it doesn’t have to. The clear solution is to do one thing at a time. Then you can move on to the next item, task, project or goal with a clear head and a sense of accomplishment.

Eliminate distractions.

How can you concentrate on a project that’s on deadline when you’ve got your social media messages flooding in, the phone’s jangling nonstop, you allow interruptions from your co-workers or seek out distractions to keep you from tending to the job? In addition to wreaking havoc with a work, school or home assignment or duty, constant distractions produce a confusing effect that’s bad for your memory. When you eliminate distractions, however, you facilitate full use of your mind without overtaxing it.

Make use of reminders.

Sticky notes, post-its, alerts, reminder calls and emails are a great way to keep from forgetting important things. There’s nothing wrong with using these to ensure you never miss what must be done. That way, even if you didn’t get enough sleep last night, are ill, overstressed, had too much to drink or too much on your to-do list, you’ll have a ready reminder at hand.

Take time to relax.

Not only do you not want to be that dull boy (“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”), but you want to have quality time for yourself. This means making sure that you take time to relax. Whether the relaxation takes the form of a hobby, walking outdoors, going to a movie with a friend, shopping, recreational activity or sport doesn’t matter. You and your memory need some downtime, time that you spend doing something you enjoy.

* * *

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10 Tips to Decrease Work Stress

work stress decrease work stress

Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

Does work stress get you down? Feel like you can’t catch a break? Work stress will kill you if you don’t do something about it. Here are 10 tips to decrease work stress you can begin today.

Figure Out What’s Causing Your Work Stress

Before you can begin to decrease work stress, it’s helpful to know what it is that’s causing you to be stressed in the first place. Are you taking on too many projects at once? Is your boss expecting too much from you, and have you not mentioned any limitations to what you can do to him or her?

By analyzing what bothers you at work, you’ll better pinpoint ways to effectively deal with the stressor. If, for example, you’re overworked, you must carve out some of those responsibilities and either delegate them or reduce them.

Your supervisor will help in this area, although it might be tough to broach the subject. Construct a proactive approach. If you let your boss know that you can finish project X within the deadline if Y and Z are either delayed, assigned to a different person or team, or can be consolidated, he or she may be amenable to making some changes.

Take Regular Breaks

Working non-stop will wear you down, increase stress and make you miserable. The only way out of this dilemma is to institute a practice of taking regular breaks. Even if you only get a 10-minute break in the morning and afternoon, you can still stand up and walk around at regular intervals.

Instead of staring at a computer screen for hours, avert your eyes and gaze outdoors once an hour. These mini-breaks help you compartmentalize what you are doing and provide a buffer so that stress doesn’t exact too great a toll.

Cut Down on Tasks to Decrease Work Stress

When your to-do list resembles a phone book, you’ve got too much to handle. No human being can tend to an overwhelming number of tasks, not to mention the unnecessary stress such an accumulation tends to produce.

The quickest and perhaps the only way around this is to reduce the number of tasks. Streamline the entries, combining similar ones and deleting, delegating, or deciding others. For example, if you have 30 tasks listed, see how many are necessary. Which holdover items are no longer relevant? Cut the list in half. That’s a good start. Shedding this weight will lighten your load and help decrease work stress.

Prioritize What’s Necessary

No doubt some work items need to rank high on your to-do list. Your boss may demand action on a project, or you’re the head of a team working on a hot development. Some are time-sensitive, while others require the assistance of others who are only available for a certain period.

But other items on your to-do list don’t require immediate action. They may be better suited to a lower ranking or even deserve their list of tasks and projects for when there’s a lull.

Mark each item on the list in numerical order, with #1 being the most important and requiring prompt attention. You might even color code those items in the top five, assigning assorted colors to those further down the priority ranking.

By prioritizing things, you exert control over what and when you intend to work on them. This alone will reduce the work stress often accompanying work-related duties and responsibilities.

Limit Distractions to Reduce Work Stress

When trying to work on a task or project, listening to your co-workers’ conversations in adjacent cubicles or offices isn’t conducive to productivity. Neither is having your email client notifications of incoming messages going to keep you focused on the work. Constant interruptions drain your energy, scatter your attention, and limit your ability to get work done.

What’s helpful is to schedule times to check emails and take or make phone calls. Turn off your email client, put the phone on silent mode, and automatically answer. Tell co-workers you won’t be available for the next hour while you tend to an assignment. Most of all, don’t allow yourself to search for distractions to keep you from your work.

When you’re less distracted, you can concentrate on what you must do now. This is a terrific way to curb work stress and something in your control.

Confide in Someone You Trust

When you’ve bottled all that stress inside you, you feel like you’re going to burst. That’s not a pleasant feeling. It won’t go away alone. A huge help is finding someone you trust that you can confide in. This doesn’t mean you dump everything on your mind. That will succeed in exhausting you and your confidante. Talk about the biggest thing that’s bothering you, causing you the most stress.

Also, be aware that you can go to the well too often. Instead of abusing your relationship with too many instances of crying the blues, balance your time with that person by doing other things. Ask about his or her problems and listen without jumping in to talk about your own.

Sometimes it’s enough that you have someone you can go to and talk over things. It isn’t always necessary to dwell on them when you’re with that person.

Meditate or Try Yoga

You don’t have to be spiritual to get value from meditating. Think of meditation to connect with your inner self, whatever that concept means to you. Through meditation, you’re not forcing items out of your mind as much as acknowledging their presence and allowing them to dissipate. This is a huge boost in reducing work stress. You can take classes to meditate or teach yourself with the help of books, tapes, and information on meditation websites.

Another way to decrease work stress is to practice yoga. Again, you can take classes to learn yoga and self-help instruction. There are numerous types of yoga, so you can check out what resonates with you.

Eat Well and Sleep Better

Too much stress at work also wreaks havoc on your health in other ways. You tend to eat inappropriate foods, eat too much, or fail to eat altogether. You’re also likely to toss and turn at night, mind racing over things left undone at work, remembering something you should have done but didn’t, endlessly going over what’s on tap for tomorrow.

A key part of your quest to decrease work stress begins at home. You need good self-care: eating well-balanced, nutritious meals and getting eight hours of sleep each night. There’s no getting around that your body requires adequate nutrition and rest to function properly. This includes the ability to fight the cumulative effects of stress.

Start to Exercise

You might think that scheduling time for exercise has no place in your busy life, especially given all your work responsibilities. Who has an hour to devote to something that doesn’t lighten your workload? When you exercise, your energy levels boost, your mood lightens, and you can better channel the anxiety and stress you feel at work.

Furthermore, after a quick, brisk walk, riding an exercise bike, or working the treadmill – or any other vigorous physical exercise that gets your blood flowing, heart rate increasing, and oxygen coursing throughout your body – you’ll return to the task at hand with greater focus and a resulting increase in productivity.

Enjoy a Recreational Activity or Hobby

All work and no play is bad for your health. If you’re so caught up in work projects that you never have time to do things you enjoy, your life is seriously out of balance. It’s time to remedy that by figuring out something you can do away from work that takes your mind completely away from anything related to work.

What the activity is doesn’t matter. It can be a recreational activity you do alone or with others. It can be a hobby you’ve long wanted to pursue or just discovered your interest. Spending free time with friends, loved ones, and family members also qualifies if this brings you a sense of contentment, love, and fulfillment.

* * *


Related articles:

Combat Stress with Mindful Walking

10 Quick Ways to Beat Stress

Self-Care: The Most Important Person to Take Care of Is You

10 Ways Lists Rule

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Are You Lonely? How to Combat Loneliness

loneliness lonely

Photo by Gabriel on Unsplash


Loneliness is awful and devastating. But there are many effective ways to combat this powerful emotion. If you are lonely, you can do something about it.

Loneliness is a powerful emotion that can be devastating in its consequences. Being alone and isolated has been shown to be an underlying factor in some of the most common health conditions, including depression, substance abuse, and chronic pain.

This is borne out by the findings of a recent study conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of the American Osteopathic Association. Three-quarters (72 percent) of more than 2,000 American adults surveyed said they had felt lonely, while a third (31 percent) admitted feeling lonely at least once a week.

What Loneliness Is…And Isn’t

Do not confuse loneliness with being alone. You choose to be alone or solitary, sometimes to meditate or think through problems, sometimes for other reasons.

Loneliness, on the other hand, is a state of mind. When you are lonely, you may feel unwanted, empty, and isolated. Most lonely people desperately want contact with others but find connecting difficult because of their state of mind.

10 Effective Ways to Combat Loneliness

As dire as loneliness sounds, it can be overcome. Whether your loneliness is situational due to travel, business, or other circumstances, or the kind that always accompanies the loss of a loved one or close friend, you can do things to combat it.

Get checked out. To rule out any underlying conditions, physical or mental, it’s important to get a thorough medical checkup from your doctor. This is especially true if your loneliness has spiraled downward into a depression that lasts for longer than two weeks.

  • Suppose there is a medical reason at least contributing to your lonely feelings. In that case, your physician can offer approaches to remedy the situation with professional counseling, a prescription for medication, or other treatment.

Recognize the emotion for what it is. Just saying you feel miserable isn’t going to make things change. You need to recognize that you’re feeling lonely before deciding to change.

Understand the effects of loneliness. Talking with your doctor and reading about the effects of loneliness will give you a clearer picture of how loneliness affects your physical and mental well-being.

  • If you’re so lonely you don’t want to eat, your physical and mental health will suffer due to poor nutrition.
  • Once you know how loneliness is bad for you, you can concentrate on working to change those areas of your life that need attention.

Learn to be resilient. Instead of breaking under the weight of your problems and withdrawing even further into a shell of self-imposed isolation, work on cultivating resilience. This might seem impossible at first, but learning to bend with the wind and not snap by its force will help you nurture resilience.

Adopt a positive outlook. When everything seems dark and hopeless, looking on the bright side might appear counter-intuitive.

  • Yet, when you adopt a positive outlook and see life’s possibilities instead of its negatives, you’ll find yourself more willing to pursue opportunities.
  • Furthermore, you’ll be more motivated to be with others and end your self-limiting isolation and loneliness.

Be sparing with social media. Connecting on social media isn’t the same as one-on-one and face-to-face interaction. When you’re lonely, the last thing you need to do is immerse yourself in Facebook and other social networks.

  • In fact, studies have shown that social media addiction contributes to feelings of loneliness and depression. For now, hit pause on using social media. At the very least, limit your time there. Get out and interact with people in real time.

Take care of yourself. When you’re lonely, you tend to ignore good self-care. You aren’t getting enough sleep, or the sleep you do get is fitful, interrupted, and plagued by unsettling dreams. You wake up feeling exhausted and even more lonely.

  • Sleep deprivation erodes mood, contributes to getting sick, saps energy, and becomes an ingrained pattern.
  • Along with ensuring you get sufficient, quality sleep, also work on eating healthily, drinking plenty of water, and getting a good amount of physical exercise.

Create a list of goals and plans to achieve them. When people say they feel lonely, they often describe the feeling that something is missing from their life. Spend some time to determine what that might be.

  • Do you have no hobby or interest to devote your time to?
  • Do you feel unable to make any progress in your career?
  • Is the house just too empty?

Once you know what that missing piece is, you can work on finding potential solutions. Most of them, you’ll find, involve interaction with other people.

Act. To stop feeling lonely, you must act. Sitting around the house feeling sorry for yourself is not the solution. If you cannot identify with anyone you can spend time with, join a club or group.

  • Connect with others at work with whom you share something in common.
  • Visit your neighbors.
  • Volunteer at church.

Making new friends and keeping your social calendar filled will help dispel loneliness.

Consider a pet. For some people, there’s nothing like a pet to help banish loneliness. Why is this? For one thing, pets need nurturing and attention. Along with feeding, grooming, and cleaning up their mess, pets naturally gravitate toward displays of affection. They give as well as receive.

  • As the pet’s owner, you benefit from this loving exchange. It helps you feel less lonely when you have your constant pet companion.

* * *

Related articles for inspiration and uplifting messages:

7 Tips on Mastering Change
Self-Care: The Most Important Person to Take Care of is You
5 Tips on How to Make Plans
Stuck in a Rut? Tips on How to Break Free from Monotony

* * *

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How to Be Fair to Yourself

Photo by Lance Anderson/Unsplash

Photo by Lance Anderson/Unsplash

“You cannot be fair to others without first being fair to yourself.” – Vera Nazarian


Are you quick to criticize others? Do you find fault in the smallest things? It might be that you lash out at others to mask what you don’t like in yourself.

And that’s not fair.

It’s not fair to you most of all, because you’re capable of so much more that you’re not giving yourself credit for.

If fairness is important – and it’s a highly desirable trait – what can you do to start being fair to yourself so that you can be fair to others?

This isn’t a trick question. It does, however, deserve some careful thought.

What is Fairness?

What does it mean to be fair?

When you consider a solution to a problem, several options or approaches likely come to mind:

  • You might brainstorm and arrive at these, or they may be suggestions from trusted advisors, friends, family members, co-workers or someone else.
  • Some you might toss out immediately as unworkable, impractical, too costly or time-constraining.
  • Other ideas you may mull over for a while before deciding which category they fall into: toss, analyze further, modify or use.

When weighing the pros and cons of each possible solution, giving credence to fairness should be part of the equation. Often, however, it’s not. Instead, other considerations take precedence, such as expediency, return on investment, instant recognition, catapulting to the top or edging out someone or something else.

Ask yourself, is that fair?

Don’t Sabotage Yourself by Being Unfair

Why do people fail to give themselves a fair chance? Why have you done this? Is it because of a feeling of inferiority or that something’s lacking? Is it that you never received encouragement as a child, have a history of mistakes or failures, or never believed enough in yourself to take a chance? Any or all of these could be underlying contributors to a lack of self-fairness.

And they’re all examples of sabotaging yourself by being unfair – to you, most of all.

Steps to Take to Be Fair to Yourself

But this tendency to self-sabotage can be overcome. You can learn how to be fair to yourself. It just takes determination and practice.

  • Think first. The next time you want to take an action and think about what it is you’re going to do, take a minute to think how this proposed action is fair to you – before you proceed. Are you doing yourself justice? Are you taking advantage of strengths and abilities you possess but haven’t allowed yourself to pursue? Or, are you doing what others tell you without any thought to whether it’s fair or not? Figuring out your underlying motivation will greatly aid in your goal to be fair with yourself. You have to know what’s driving your behavior before you can change it.


  • Commit to self-fairness. When you insist on fairness to yourself, you’ll radiate that sense of fairness to others. Indeed, after you diligently practice fairness, you will find it easier to be fair in your dealings with others. For example, instead of demanding employees stop everything to jump on a project you deem important, you’ll consider whether this is a fair request. This means putting yourself in their position, to understand how your request affects them. If it’s not absolutely critical, you may decide to alter the due date or timetable for completion, allowing for other high priority items already on your employees’ work schedule to continue. The positive reinforcement you’ll receive from grateful employees will add to your recognition that being fair to others starts by being fair to yourself.


  • Put yourself first for a change. Often, you’re the last person on your list. Everyone else’s needs are tended to before you even think about taking care of your own. That’s definitely not conducive to overall well-being. In fact, it sets you up for disappointment, increased tension and stress, and a general malaise and dissatisfaction with life. On the other hand, when you take your own needs into consideration, in conjunction with or ahead of those you know you need to attend to, you’re inserting balance into your life. After all, you need to do what’s right for you in order that you can do right for others.


  • Model fairness to others. Be a leader who models fairness. This type of leadership is inspirational and motivational. When you show others that fairness is important in all dealings, and being fair to yourself is part of that, you’ll be demonstrating an admirable trait of effective leaders. If you need any help with this, take a lesson from some of the world’s most respected leaders, from Winston Churchill to John F. Kennedy to Mother Teresa. They not only knew what was fair, they embodied fairness. Others, seeing such leadership, were inspired to insist on fairness in their own lives.

At the heart of living a vibrant and purposeful life is a fairness to self. Being fair to others will naturally ensue.


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Featured post

Combat Stress with Mindful Walking

Combat Stress with Mindful Walking

Photo by Sylwia Bartyzel on Unsplash

“When you look at the sun during your walking meditation, the mindfulness of the body helps you to see that the sun is in you; without the sun there is no life at all and suddenly you get in touch with the sun in a different way.” – Thich Nhat Hanh


Many people are scared off by the words “mindfulness meditation” and shy away from anything mindful. That’s a shame because research shows mindful meditation and mindfulness in everyday activities are powerful and effective. Mindful walking deserves a look.

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to get involved with mindfulness is to begin mindful walking. To gain insight into how meditation can help manage stress, I contacted David Lynch, Namaste Culture Limited, who practices in the United Kingdom.

The Interview on Mindful Walking

Is there a simple statement you use to help people be more present – even if they are resistant?

Meditation can seem daunting, especially if you’re anxious or low mood. When addressing an audience with little experience with it, I tend to talk more about a practice that helps you still your mind in the way that a run or yoga might do. I use terms like an invitation to experiment with a different approach to managing stress. I refer to the findings of neuroscience and the benefits of developing a regular practice.

What is a mindful walk? How do you do it?

It’s like any other walk with an extra focus on all the senses, exploring internal and external landscapes and their interconnectedness. It’s walking more slowly than usual, less concerned with the final goal, more engaged with the sensations of the body, and savoring the impact of the external world on the inner experience.

How long does it take while walking to let go of all the “noise” in your head and embrace nature?

Although it can feel like a long time if you’ve come straight from a busy office environment where you’ve been very goal focused. Walking outdoors in nature helps you switch off and disengage from fast thinking and problem-solving.

Suppose there aren’t any gardens near work, school, or elsewhere to walk. How can you get the same effect otherwise? For example, can you walk up and down stairs and be mindful? Or do you need some calming influence you best achieve when in nature?

In some ways, it can be easier to walk indoors, either in a circle or in straight lines, where the invitation is to focus very much on your body’s internal experience without the distraction of nature’s beauty. You must be clear in your motivation to walk purposefully in a room and be on track, but once you get going, the rhythm of your body and the simplicity of the task soon stills your mind. Even 10 minutes on your lunch break can make a difference.

What are the specific benefits of mindful garden walks?

My experience is that the combined regenerative effects of walking in nature’s beauty, breathing fresh air, and practicing mindfulness, result in an immediate uplift in mood and outlook. It’s as if these combined forces offer a fresh perspective on whatever your mind is grappling with.

How long do they last?

I invited office workers to a 40-minute experience this summer, enough time to return to the office during a lunch break. [This included] 10 minutes [of] instruction, 20 minutes walking, and 10 minutes debriefing and discussion.

Can you talk about the benefits of mindful walking to relieve stress? How does this work? Do you intentionally shut your mind off from stressful emotions, thoughts, etc., or do you go through a process of letting go?

Mindful walking helps relieve stress because the invitation is to connect with the felt experience of stress in the body and mind, the opposite of switching off from it or suppressing the unwelcome and sometimes painful sensations of stress.

Walking works on at least two levels to relieve stress:

  • The mind focuses on the moment-by-moment experience of the walking movement, the placing of the foot, and the shifting weight from leg to leg, and not on the source of what’s inducing the stress response. Just keeping balanced and upright is enough to focus the mind.
  • The invitation is to acknowledge and connect with the sensations, emotions, and thoughts, no matter how unpleasant and unwelcome, e.g., I can feel my heart racing, I feel nausea in the pit of my stomach, I notice my racing obsessing thoughts.

The additional benefit of walking in nature is that our mind’s attention falls on the sound of the rustling leaves and on the beauty of the light falling on the path and gains a broader perspective on our experience. Suddenly, we note that we are part of something bigger and [better] than our stress response.

Is it better to walk with others or alone – or does it matter?

It’s easier to practice together when you start, as it helps motivate you. However, once learned, mindful walking can be done anywhere and enjoyably by yourself, walking to work through busy streets or walking to your next business meeting. You choose to do it with your attention on your felt experience, slow down and enjoy the sensations of walking.

How long does it take to make mindful walking a healthy habit?

Our program is for eight weeks because the researchers/experts recommend establishing a sustainable meditation practice, embedding a change in our daily routine, to commit to a lifestyle shift in managing demands, responsibilities, and stress.

Of course, it is not enough to learn mindfulness practices for eight weeks and then expect the change to happen without maintaining a daily practice, or at least regular practice. We’re talking about lifestyle changes. That said, I have trainees who have said that although they no longer meditate on a regular basis, they have learned the tools to address stress differently when it arises and therefore benefit from skills development, no matter what.

Any last thoughts?

I am no expert in mindfulness. I am a practitioner, a facilitator of learning, and a coach who has combined several professional qualifications (teaching, counseling, management) and 30 years of experience to create an experiential model of learning that adapts to the learner’s needs and vulnerabilities. They learn. I learn, and I love my work.

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Also, check out My 10 Favorite Summertime Stress-Busters and 10 Quick Ways to Beat Stress.

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Featured post

10 Ways to Feel Good About the Money You Make

Feel Good About the Money You Make

Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

Money isn’t evil. It’s what you do with it that counts. In fact, according to recent research involving two studies, the money you make can contribute to happiness.

That’s readily available money, not funds locked away in pension or retirement accounts or in real estate.

Not that you shouldn’t allocate some of what you earn for either of those. You need to plan and want to invest in a home for the comfort and well-being of your family.

The Wall Street Journal interviewed Joe Gladstone, a research associate at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom and a co-author of both studies. The takeaway from the first study is that a bank balance may be more important to happiness than overall wealth. Meanwhile, the second study found that the things that you buy can result in you being happier if they are a fit for your personality.

While this all sounds great, for those of us who’ve worked hard for our money and want to spend a little of it now, not 20 years in the future, here are 10 ways to feel good about the money you make:

What you earn is a reward for your hard work.

Think of the investment you’ve made in your career, learning new skills, getting a degree or two, and pushing past failures and disappointments. The resulting financial largesse – your spending cushion or dream account – is a product of your continued effort. You deserve it. You should feel good about making it and spending it how you like.

Money gives you freedom.

When you have money, there are many things you can do with it. This freedom of choice also means you get to do something with it that makes you happy.

It can’t buy love, but it can help you love what you do with it.

If you are an ardent skier, having some extra cash on hand can mean you take that ski trip to the Rockies this winter instead of putting it off for another year. If you love and play music well, the money you put toward that grand piano or guitar will be music to your ears and fill your heart with happiness.

Since you can’t take it with you when you die, spending some money now is smart.

Your life insurance and named beneficiaries on pensions and other investments will ensure you care for loved ones. Still, there’s no sense in accumulating wealth and never doing anything with it while you’re alive. It’s no good to you after you die, so take some time and take some cash now to enjoy life.

Money helps reduce stress.

If you’ve struggled to have two dimes to rub together most of your life, you know the value of having some money in the bank. Knowing you have this safety net helps reduce the stress levels that a zero-bank balance never can. You have the added benefit of knowing that some unexpected event won’t wipe you out, and you’re not living paycheck to paycheck. As stress goes down, you feel the freedom to pay more attention to what matters in life. And that might mean using some of the money you make.

Having some makes you less needy and vulnerable.

When you’re in deficit mode, having little or no money, there’s a tendency to be dependent on others, even to the point of being needy. You’re also vulnerable when you are penniless or strapped for cash. On the other side of the coin, having some extra cash – the result of your hard work – boosts your self-confidence and makes you feel more in control of your life. That’s a great reason to feel good about the money you earn.

A good bank balance can help you sleep better.

Tossing and turning over an inability to stay on top of financial obligations is unpleasant. Your slowly growing bank account can benefit your sleep quality and duration since that’s one less problem you must worry about.

Your intimate relationships may improve.

Money problems and sex are two of the biggest conflict producers in intimate relationships. That barrier can crumble when money is not an issue because you have enough. Besides, when you have some funds left over after paying the bills, think of what the two of you can do to spend quality time by spending some of that cash.

The focus isn’t on acquiring but on enjoying.

The money you make has yet another decidedly enticing aspect: It allows you to focus not on acquiring and holding onto it but on enjoying the fruits of your labor.

You choose when and how to spend it.

It’s your money. You worked for it. Outside of tending to your necessary obligations, what, when, and how you spend your money is entirely up to you. At least it should be. There has to be some allocation, some mad money, some do-whatever-you-want-with money that’s yours.

After reading these ways to feel good about the money you make, aren’t you feeling better already?

I’m interested in hearing how you feel about the money you make. Do you permit yourself to do something purely enjoyable with some of that cash?

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Featured post

7 Tips on Mastering Change

Photo by Roberto Nickson/Unsplash

Photo by Roberto Nickson/Unsplash

“You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.” – Brian Tracy


Change is nonstop. Life coaches and proponents of positive thinking are nearly unanimous in recommending that we accept and embrace change.

While that is good advice, sometimes change brings with it uncertainty, fear, doubt, failure and dashed hopes. We may start off with an optimistic outlook, only to encounter some difficulty or unexpected problem that throws everything we had planned off-kilter.

We might just give up on the change we’re trying to make.

Or, we might become even more determined to see it through.

The attitude we adopt is really the key to what comes afterward. Granted, we cannot predict what will happen or what will ultimately be the result of our actions, but we can control how we think about our prospects, what we believe our strengths are and how self-confident we are.

It does take practice to see the hopeful, rather than the dismal, but we can learn how to do this.

Here are some tips on mastering change:

  • Keep your eye on the goal.

While interruptions and challenges are bound to occur, if you have a firm grasp of what you want to achieve, you’ll be poised to weather distractions and detours along the way.


  • Revisit your plan often.

Sometimes, with everything being thrown at you, it’s tough to stay focused on the plan. That’s why you write it down, so you can refer to it as often as necessary to remind you of your goal – and the steps you need to take to be successful.


  • Be optimistic about being able to find solutions.

Problems will occur, but you have been through these kinds of situations before and figured out solutions. Remind yourself of this and it will help bolster your resolve and maintain your optimistic attitude.


  • Don’t be afraid to adapt and revise.

Just because you have a plan doesn’t mean that you have to adhere to it so rigidly that you miss opportunities. The key here is to remain flexible so that you are able to adapt and modify your plan to incorporate new ideas and perhaps take advantage of a different approach. Flexibility is one of the hallmarks of mastering change.


  • Surround yourself with positive people.

When you’re embarking on change, or making a decision to change, you don’t need naysayers around you challenging your actions. Choose to be with others who are upbeat, supportive of your ideas and goals, and whose success and demeanor you admire. Positivity is contagious, and you’ll benefit from associating with positive friends, co-workers, neighbors and acquaintances.


  • Find the lesson in failure.

No one likes to think about failure, but the fact is that it happens. Should this quash your attitude about ultimately succeeding? Not if you study what happened and discover the lesson the experience holds. This makes you that much more prepared to handle whatever comes next and to take proactive measures to deal with them.

  • Be open to new ideas.

You wouldn’t eat the same meal day after day, would you? Just as variety is the spice of cuisine, so, too, is the willingness to entertain new ideas. Even if what you read, see or hear is a somewhat different way to accomplish a goal than you’ve used before, it might hold some merit in terms of adaptation, revision or addition to what strategies you have in your toolkit. Knowing you have options is a great confidence-builder.

Keep in mind that the way you regard change says a lot about who you are. You can be in control of your attitude and master change, or allow change to master you.

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Featured post

Success Means You Make Things Happen

Photo by Joshua Sortino-Unsplash

Photo by Joshua Sortino-Unsplash

“There are people who make things happen, there are people who watch things happen, and there are people who wonder what happened. To be successful, you need to be a person who makes things happen.” – Jim Lovell


Are you a doer, a watcher or a wonderer? The answer may lie at the heart of whether or not you find yourself successful in life.

Granted, sometimes you need to watch for a while to become motivated to take action. After all, what interests you may involve stepping outside your comfort zone and taking a few risks. Well, nothing worthwhile ever occurred without a little discomfort. For one thing, it’s anxiety-provoking to think about taking on a challenge, something you’ve never done before. Maybe you should watch and wait for a while.

But not too long. If you wait until the proverbial time is right, you may still be waiting months and years down the line. At that point, instead of being successful, you’ll be one of those people who scratch their heads in dismay and wonder what happened.

Making things happen sounds too easy. It isn’t. Often, it involves long periods of practice, building skills and acquiring knowledge. It generally takes longer than you anticipate and requires more work than you intended.

But success is worth it if the goal is one that you truly desire.

Are You Ready to Make Things Happen?

Ask yourself these questions to see if you’re ready to make things happen.

  • Is this (goal) something I really want?
  • How much effort am I willing to put into achieving it?
  • What will I do if distractions get in my way?
  • Do I have a plan to follow, or am I just going to wing it?
  • What about resources? Do I need to line them up or are they readily available to me?
  • How will I handle criticism, failure and rejection? Am I strong enough to get past this?
  • Am I willing to learn from my mistakes?
  • What about revising my plan along the way? Have I incorporated that into my strategy?
  • Have I factored measurement into my plan so that I know when it’s a success?

The Caveman Scenario

I’d like to illustrate this with the following scenario. Early caveman enjoyed sitting around the fire with his companions, partner and offspring. Telling tales of hunting exploits got everyone going and lasted well into the night. But some of the little ones fell asleep, missing out on the stories.

The caveman started etching shapes into the earth with a stick, but the images were quickly obliterated as everyone dispersed. This same stick, used to poke and prod the fire, was blackened at the tip. The caveman pondered the sooty blackness on his fingers and noted it was tough to remove. He looked up at the empty cave wall and thought about scratching his pictures there.

First, it was just a rudimentary sketch. Then, the images grew in size, complexity and number. Before long, they told a complete story. Now, not only the little ones, but everyone in the caveman’s group, could enjoy the tale. He was designated as the official keeper of the tales and his stature grew in the community.

Was this a success? Did the caveman make things happen? From a desire to share his tales with his children, he figured out a way to do that and made it happen. It was an absolute success.

If the caveman could do it, just imagine what you can do.

Featured post

8 Proactive Ways to Let Go of Anger

8 Ways to Let Go of Anger

Photo by Anton Darius on Unsplash


When you are angry, it’s hard to find ways to let go of anger. Life holds many frustrations to deal with. These ignite angry feelings and a desire to retaliate.

  • Some inconsiderate driver cuts you off in traffic.
  • The woman in front of you in line at the coffee shop gets the last pastry – the one you had your eye on.
  • Your co-worker takes credit for the report you researched and wrote.
  • Neighborhood kids smashed your car with rocks, causing extensive damage.

You’re angry. You want to lash out. But will this do anything to change what happened? Or will it only make you feel more miserable as you can’t escape the fire of your anger?

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” – Buddha

No one picks up burning hot coal with their unprotected hands. That’s foolish. Fire burns. Yet, that’s exactly what we sometimes do regarding powerful emotions like anger. We hold onto it. Expecting a different outcome than getting burned is the definition of insanity.

8 Proactive Ways to Let Go of Anger

If the best way to deal with anger is to let it go, how do we do that? Here are some suggestions:

Walk Away

Putting some distance between you and the situation or people that prompted the angry feelings, to begin with, is a logical first step. If you aren’t close to the source of your anger, you’re less likely to lash out and do or say something that will cause harm to another. In addition, by walking away, you’ll allow yourself time to cool off so that you can think about what happened in a more rational way.

Identify Why You’re Angry

Take the inconsiderate driver that cut you off. This happens all the time. Why is today any different than another day?

  • What is it about being cut off that makes you so angry now?
  • Is it that you’re already late for work?
  • Is it just another string of things that went wrong today, and this is the last straw?
  • Are you upset with yourself for failing to complete a task or due to an argument with your spouse, child, or co-worker?

By identifying what’s underneath your anger, you’ll be better able to get past it.

Let it Out to Let Go of Anger

Instead of bottling up your anger and holding it inside like a captive coal that continues to burn, find a place to let it out with a scream, a vigorous physical workout, or a good cry. Letting go of the anger before confronting the person that prompted the negative feelings will allow you to behave more constructively and proactively.

Figure Out What to Change

Realize that you have three options when dealing with anger: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it. Once you decide that there’s something you can do to change the situation, act on that. It will help you let go of the anger and move on.

Own Responsibility

Secretly, you might have prompted the situation that made you angry. Instead of trying to shift the blame and punish others, take responsibility for your part in what happened.

Even if you only acknowledge this to yourself, it’s a huge step. Then, focus on what you could have done differently so that the next time something like this occurs, you’ll act in a more responsible way.

Calmly Talk with the Offender to Let Go of Anger

You’ll need to use the walk-away technique before confronting the offender about what made you angry. When you’ve put some time and distance between you and the person and situation, you can better tell that person how you feel about what happened. It’s important to remember that you won’t be able to control how that person reacts. The only thing you can do is express your feelings kindly and calmly. This will help you let go of the anger.

See the Anger Melting Away

The anger you feel doesn’t affect the other person as much as it does you. Knowing this, why hold onto it? Instead, visualize the anger as ice that’s melting away in the heat. Feel the sense of coolness that replaces the anger. This will help you regain peace and kindness toward yourself.

See it From the Offender’s Perspective

The person who angered you wasn’t aware he or she was doing anything wrong. They could have inadvertently done something, not out of malicious intent, just without thinking of the potential consequences. Mistakes happen. People don’t necessarily intend to harm. Recognize that you’ve done the same thing to other people. Have a little compassion. This will go a long way toward your ability to let go of anger.

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Featured post

Self-Care: The Most Important Person to Take Care of is You

Photo by Wilson Magalhães

Photo by Wilson Magalhães

“There are days I drop words of comfort on myself like falling leaves and remember that it is enough to be taken care of by myself.” — Brian Andreas


When life swirls around us, it’s often difficult to remember that the first priority has to be taking care of ourselves. Instead, we look to care for others, even to the point of self-exhaustion. While it’s loving and kind-hearted to be so selfless, it’s not good for our overall well-being in the long run. In order to be around and able to help others, we have to be physically, mentally and emotionally healthy.

Good self-care, then, is not only important, but also imperative. Here are some tips on how to take proper care of you.

Eat right. With life so hectic, the temptation to skip meals, scarf down junk food and eat too much at once is sometimes tough to ignore. That doesn’t mean it’s good for your body. Think about what you put in your mouth before you eat. Maintain a well-balanced diet and eat regular meals. Your body will thank you for eating healthy.

Sleep well. In order to be alert and ready to go each day, you first need to get a good night’s sleep. Sleep, according to experts, plays an important role in everything from memory to learning. Adults generally need 7-9 hours of sleep a night. The key is uninterrupted sleep.

Get regular exercise. A healthy body and mind requires regular physical exercise. What you do is less important than doing it. Start with something manageable, such as a good run or walking in a park or through the neighborhood. If you have a dog, this is a natural for both of you. Ask friends to accompany you. Walk instead of drive to a nearby coffee shop. Take up a recreational sport. Join a gym. The choices are endless. The point is to do it.

Drink plenty of fluids. You might not realize it, but your body constantly loses fluids during the day. Such losses occur naturally in urination and elimination of stools, in breathing, and skin evaporation. The more physical exertion you do, the faster you lose fluids. The human body requires hydration for organs to operate efficiently. In fact, the body is about 60% water. The best way to replace lost fluids is to drink water. It’s readily available and the fact is that you can’t live without it.

Manage stress. Allowing the day’s turmoil to eat at you is going to drag you down, physically and mentally. Taking proper care of yourself means that you do whatever you find that works to manage stress. This can take many forms, from meditation to deep breathing exercises, massage, prayer, yoga or other relaxation techniques, to cognitive-behavioral therapy and setting clear goals.

Spend time with friends. You know how much you value friendships, particularly with those who share your interests. Studies show that friendships enrich life and make it healthier. Not only do you enjoy being with good friends, the interaction is good for your overall health and well-being. What more evidence do you need to share some quality time with your friends?

Engage in learning new pursuits. When you pursue something new, something different, your mind is actively involved in a desirable goal. The unknown, while sometimes scary, can also be stimulating, challenging and ultimately rewarding. Learning something new can help you overcome fear, push you beyond self-imposed boundaries, and provide a much-needed boost in self-confidence and self-esteem.

Tap into your spirituality. You don’t need to be religious to be able to tap into your spirituality. Tending to your spiritual needs is as important as getting sufficient sleep, eating well and everything else you do to take care of your body. There is more to life than just existing. You are more than the sum of your parts. Take time to reflect on the bigger picture, using yoga, meditation, self-reflection or whatever helps you get outside of yourself.

Avoid excessive alcohol intake. Using alcohol as a coping mechanism is bound to backfire. The tendency to reach for a drink to deal with problems or forget about them for a while can quickly spiral out of control. If you aren’t able to decrease your drinking on your own, get professional help. Otherwise, cut down on how much you drink.

Don’t smoke. There is absolutely no physical benefit to smoking. If you’ve never smoked, don’t start. If you do smoke, make a decision to stop. Smoking can lead to serious health problems, but you will improve your health by quitting the smoking habit.

Pay attention to your needs. Put yourself at the top of your list of priorities. Remember that you need to be healthy in order to be available to help others. This means being mindful of what you need to do to stay healthy. It isn’t selfish, it’s actually self-care.

Maintain an optimistic, hopeful outlook. Life will throw you a few curve balls, to be sure. And you never know when you’ll be called on to deal with them. The best thing you can do is to adopt and maintain an optimistic, hopeful outlook. If you believe you will succeed, you will. If you see the positive instead of the negative, the results are likely to follow suit. Don’t be afraid of challenges. Be hopeful, prepare yourself to act and follow through.


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Featured post

My 10 Favorite Summertime Stressbusters

summertime stress-busters

Photo by Scott Trento on Unsplash

We’ve all experienced the cumulative effects of stress on more than a few occasions. While each person needs to find unique ways to combat stress, here are my 10 favorite summertime stressbusters – just in time for summer.

10 Terrific Summertime Stressbusters

Bicycling on Mackinac Island — One of the Great Summertime Stressbusters

Although it was many years ago, my fond memory of bicycling on Mackinac Island (between mainland Michigan and the state’s upper peninsula in Lake Michigan) with my mother, son, and daughter still lowers my stress level. It was a wonderful bonding experience between three generations and a great exercise.

Go out and rent a bicycle when you’re on vacation or during a trip to an inland lake or other recreational area and see how your cares seem to float away as you pedal along. This is an inexpensive and effective summertime stressbuster that anyone can do.

Going for a long drive

When I’ve had it up to here with deadlines, pressure to finish a task, non-stop phone calls, and nagging emails – not to mention all the things left to do around the house – I get in the car and head out for the open highway.

Since I live in California, however, that means timing my escape to avoid the freeway gridlock. Still, there’s nothing like cruising along the 101 freeway somewhere north to clear the cobwebs from my mind – and melt any stress that’s built up.

Hiking a new trail — Another of the Great Summertime Stressbusters

I’m fortunate to live just blocks from the Santa Monica Mountains preserve and numerous hiking trails. This sounds like a lot of work, but there are easy trails to climb and more strenuous ones.

An early morning hike – especially when I can check out a new trail – is one of the quickest ways to dissolve stress for me. My family members are equally appreciative. And who doesn’t love spending quality time outdoors with those you love?

Taking a well-deserved vacation

Too often, we tell ourselves that we can’t afford to take a vacation or don’t have the luxury of taking that much time off work.

I know. I’ve said as much myself.

The truth, however, is that a vacation is not only deserved but necessary to recharge and revitalize, gain peace of mind and restore a sense of balance.

Thinking back on memorable vacations, I count trips to Cancun, Kauai, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, and Jamaica, and visits to great national parks such as Yosemite, Yellowstone, and more.

Arranging a long weekend getaway

Sometimes a weeklong vacation just isn’t practical. There’s still the opportunity to take a break by going for a long weekend getaway.

Head out to the beach or a cottage by the ocean. Explore what nature has to offer in a national park in the area. Visit a not-too-distant city to sample cuisine and nightlife or other attractions.

Romantic, sightseeing, educational or pure leisure – whatever inspires you can be the ingredients for a weekend getaway.

And the stress will disappear.

Attending an outdoor concert

My daughter and son remember attending Bob Seger, Beach Boys, and Fleetwood Mac concerts with me at an outdoor venue in Michigan. Just recalling those magical nights under the stars gives me a nostalgic rush. How perfect to wash away stressful thoughts?

No matter where you live, a venue offers outdoor concerts, music festivals, and the like. Check out some of your favorite artists, search for affordable tickets, and take the family for an unforgettable outing.

Digging in the garden – and creating a lush landscape

Whether I’m yanking out weeds, cultivating an area to plant flowers and shrubs, or helping to dig the requisite size hole for a tree, the sheer enjoyment I get from digging in the garden is undeniable.

The fact that the result is something I’m proud of – and don’t mind accepting compliments from others for – is a plus.

Don’t think you have a green thumb? I didn’t either, but years of practice and effort have paid off. Even if the plant eventually dies, I know I’ll get something to replace it that will prove equally lovely in my garden.

And there’s something about washing away the dirt from my gardening sojourn that is also very satisfying.

Reading an enjoyable book

I’ve loved to read all my life. Still do, although I don’t do it as often as I’d like. With tablets, it is easy to access new ebooks from my favorite authors quickly.

Mysteries, true crime, thrillers, autobiographies, inspirational – you name it, I’m there. Nothing like whiling away an hour or so engrossed in a delightful book. If you get into the habit of reading something you like, you’ll find that your stress is gone, fading away like a distant memory.

Seeing an adventure movie

Movies are another favorite pastime of mine. I like several genres, but my favorite is adventure movies for dissipating stress. I can feel the adrenaline rushing through my body, and while that seems counter-intuitive to eliminating stress, it works.

Realizing the outcome along with the protagonist (or hero) is doubly satisfying. It’s like I’m there. Not bad for a quick escape from stress, right? Best of all, there are always plenty of adventure movies to choose from at the movieplex near you – or available to rent or download from your TV provider or Netflix.

Checking out an amusement park

Do you love roller coasters? I do. When I can check out an amusement park with the family – and occasionally for business, unbelievably – I head straight for the biggest roller coaster in the park.

If you’re going to go, go big, or don’t go at all. That’s my motto.

I’m drawn to this ride because I remember riding a roller coaster with my dad just a week before he died. I was thirteen. He was my everything.

Other attractions in the amusement park are also great stressbusters for me, including the haunted house, dodge ‘em cars, the Ferris wheel, and more.

And who doesn’t love cotton candy, hot dogs on a stick, outdoor cafes, and other tempting gastronomic delights? You can work out later. For now, indulge and have a fun time.

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My 10 Favorite Ways to Waste Time — and Not Feel Bad About It

Photo by Ryan McGuire

Photo by Ryan McGuire

So much has been written about how not to waste time that I thought it might be fun to list some of the ways we waste time all the time. I’m as guilty of this as anyone else, so here are my favorite time wasters.

I should add that I don’t feel bad about doing any of these. In fact, I rather get a kick out of how good I feel after I’ve lollygagged, been consumed with and totally exhausted from any of them.


Getting Lost in LinkedIn


Networking is an absolute must for anyone in business. Whether your business is writing or recruiting or manufacturing electric cars or anything else, who you know can sometimes make all the difference in the world.

Need an introduction? Your LinkedIn contacts may be able to provide that. What about a recommendation or endorsement? Ditto.

Building a LinkedIn network (or any social media, for that matter) takes time. Often, that’s a lot of time.

I know. I’ve spent many hours reading profiles of LinkedIn members, absorbing their posts and likes, commenting on what I see and hoping others will reciprocate.

Come to think of it, LinkedIn is pretty essential to what I do. There’s no way this is a waste of time.


Searching for the Perfect Photo


When I write a Daily Thoughts or blog post, I’m always on the lookout for the perfect photo to illustrate them. I can literally spend a couple of hours searching for one photo.

I use multiple free and paid sites for photos. And I love discovering new photographers.

Since my profession is writing, it’s not a stretch to say that my time spent in pursuit of just the right photo is far from a waste of time. Yet I do find that I get a little carried away at times, continuing to search through photo albums and recent posting to see what’s new – in case I want to use it sometime.


Writing To-Do Lists – and Promptly Losing Them


I’m an inveterate list-maker. I’ve gotten it down to a science, in fact. I jot down items, then prioritize them, revise and add or subtract – and then put aside the list for later.

Somehow what happens more often than not is I lose the list.

Then I start over.

All is not lost in this seemingly hopeless endeavor, however. My mind catalogs what I’ve written, cementing it in place. It lets me know that there is a list somewhere, just in case I forget. So I don’t have to worry that I’ve missed something.

And that gives me great comfort.

Just don’t ask me where my list is.


Going for a Walk


Why do I walk? I used to think it was for healthy exercise, and there certainly is that component to it. But the underlying reason I walk is that I like being out in nature.

To me, a walk affords me the opportunity to connect with life outside the home. I take the time to listen to the birds and watch them flit from tree to flower to bush and back. I particularly enjoy watching the interplay between birds, protecting their mates and nest, doing the courtship dance, feeding offspring, etc.

I also feel good knowing I’m burning fat – but that’s another story. My sore muscles tell me if I’m giving it what I need or not. Still, my 45-minute walk may be considered a waste of time to some people, but not for me. I’ll do it any chance I get.


Working in the Garden


There’s nothing like getting my hands dirty digging in the garden. Granted, I’m not that fond of some of the bugs I have to pluck out, but wrestling with weeds to give my flowers, bushes and trees room to grow gives me great satisfaction.

It’s also wonderfully fulfilling to see the results of my carefully-tended garden. Worth all the hours I toil in garden, no matter what time of the year.


Shopping for Organic Produce


I’ll admit I was a little slow getting on the organic food bandwagon, but now I’m a firm believer. So much so that I can literally spend more than an hour just roaming the aisles of my go-to grocery store (even Costco) looking at the newest organic versions of produce I’ve eaten in old form since I was a kid.

If I had to excuse my wasting time on this activity, I’d have to say that putting the healthiest food into my body is a priority. I’m OK with any amount of time I spend looking for anything organic.


Doing Price Comparisons on Running Shoes


First, a confession. I don’t run – at all. But I am an aficionado of running shoes or cross-trainers or whatever the latest athletic shoe is.

My reason for the obsession is that I want my feet to be well taken care of. Whether I’m hiking a mountain trail in the preserve near my house or traversing the mall in search of a good deal or just driving, I want a great pair of shoes on my feet.

As such, I’m always looking for the best price on shoes and have bookmarked my favorite websites. Time just flies by when I’m on the hunt.

And I don’t regret one minute of it. So, there.


Going for a Massage

To some people a massage is an indulgence they can do without. Not me. I learned long ago that my Thumper I bought from Relax-the-Back does a great job easing out a kink, but I’d much rather get an expert to do the work for me.

It feels so much better when I don’t have to exert myself.

And the massage professional can reach areas I can’t.

Besides, the overall effect afterward is simply out of this world. The therapeutic aspects alone are worth the time I take from my day to get the massage.

Come to think of it, I haven’t had a massage for a while. Time to make an appointment.


Trying Out a New Recipe

I may not be the greatest cook around, but I do enjoy trying out new recipes. Like searching for the perfect photo, checking out recipes is a real time-hog.

Once I’ve found a recipe to make, I often have to go to the store to get the ingredients. Invariably I’m missing one or more. And I learned long ago that substituting what might work usually results in a disaster.

As a professional chef once told me, stick to the recipe until you’ve amassed years of experience and absolutely know what you can safely substitute without ruining the dish.

Regarding the mess that I have to clean up when I’m done, that’s another chunk of time that necessarily has to occupy my time.


Watching a Great Movie

Another one of my favorite pastimes – and a huge time waster – is watching movies. I love a number of different genres, so a drama doesn’t necessarily lose out to suspense, thriller, comedy or horror.

I’d much rather watch a movie that’s gotten stellar reviews, but I’m also game to check out the little-known or obscure flicks as well. This is especially true if they’re by famous directors or ones whose other work I’ve enjoyed.

Get out the popcorn, chips, ice cream and other snacks (OK, junk food, but sometimes you just have to indulge) and I’m good to go – for at least an hour or two.

Chores can wait until later.

* * *

What are your favorite ways to waste time? Comment below and I may do a follow-up blog post mentioning some of them – giving you credit, of course.

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How to Be Even More Effective

Photo by Anders Jilden

Photo by Anders Jilden

Everyone is always on the lookout for a better way to do things, to accomplish goals in record time, to improve effectiveness. While such a quest is admirable, it can prove problematic if you begin to fixate on success instead of searching for ways to be more effective.

Can you improve on your rate of effectiveness? Absolutely, and here’s how:

  • Learn to manage your time. It can’t be stressed enough that lack of time and trying to crowd too may obligations and tasks into a 24-hour day will quickly overwhelm almost anyone.
    • Instead of fighting the clock, trying to cram in that last item on today’s to-do list, put some space between duties and eliminate some from the list altogether.
    • Time management isn’t only for business people. It works for busy moms, students, artists, inventors, scientists and, well, everyone.


“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” – Peter Drucker


  • Keep a list of what worked well before. Making incremental improvements in your effectiveness is the best way to gradually become more successful in whatever you do.
    • One way to do this is to keep track of what you did before that resulted in a favorable outcome. Maybe there’s something about that technique that you can utilize in a similar or even different project, task or endeavor.
    • When you have a reserve of effective approaches (as in, they worked before), you’re never going to be at a loss for ideas.


  • Ask for suggestions from trusted others. Just because you generally accomplish what you set out to do doesn’t mean you’re as effective in your approach as you could be.
    • Make use of your network of trusted friends, co-workers, loved ones and family members and ask them for suggestions on how you might improve your rate of effectiveness. Their comments may prove helpful in identifying gaps in your method or highlighting areas of strength and expertise you haven’t yet tapped into.


  • Take time to reflect on your accomplishments. Once you do succeed at a goal and before you rush into the next thing on your list, take the time to reflect on your accomplishments. This can be viewed as a small self-congratulation, but it’s actually much more than that.
    • Away from the whirlwind of activity, your mind can calmly assess the various aspects of the now-completed job or task and come up with inventive approaches and ideas you may be able to use the next time.


  • Aim for continuous improvement. If a job or task seems too much of an obstacle, but you still want or need to tackle it, instead of fixating on only complete success the first time around, it might be better to aim for continuous improvement.
    • Do the best that you can on whatever portion of the project you’re on.
    • Learn from what you do. Strive to put that knowledge to use when you pick up the project again and move on to the next phase of it. This will help you increase your overall effectiveness.


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Why You Need a Vacation

Photo by Faye Cornish

Photo by Faye Cornish

If your days are filled with crashing deadlines, too much on your to-do list and never enough time to get things done, you might be more than a little stressed. In fact, overwork can lead to dissatisfaction in other areas of your life as well.

What a perfect time for a vacation.

Before you object that you just don’t have time to get away, consider the following very good reasons why you actually need a vacation.


Vacations help you disengage and reconnect with self

You can’t hear yourself think when you’re all caught up in forcing yourself to finish this project and begin work on the next. Facts and figures, phone calls and emails, the boss barging in with yet another hot assignment – no wonder you’re feeling frazzled.

Getting away from it all, however, frees your mind from incessant interruptions, constant distractions and self-imposed pressure. What better way to reconnect with self than relaxing in a hammock under a shady tree, gazing out at nature?

How about going out on the river or lake in a canoe, rowboat, sailboat or powerboat? Nothing like being in the outdoors, taking in the sounds of silence and just hanging out to clear your mind.


Taking time for yourself helps you unwind and relax

Rushing from one task to another without a break is enough to cause anyone distress. High-pressure office environments and frantic schedules at home and school do nothing to bring peace of mind.

On the other hand, when you physically get away from the normal routine, the picture changes dramatically.

Instead of reacting to what people demand, you can act in accordance with your own wishes. If you feel like doing nothing, that’s just fine. If you want to hike a trail in pristine wilderness, there’s nothing to stop you.

Whether you choose to be alone or in the company of loved ones, family or friends, taking time for yourself is just the right tonic for relaxation and unwinding.


Vacations help you free your mind

When all the noise subsides and you’re on the beach, at the lake, hiking, golfing, getting a massage or doing whatever you like, a curious thing happens. Your mind empties.

All the stuff crowding your brain, those urgent projects you told yourself you couldn’t forget, the massive responsibilities you felt you had to shoulder – they seem to melt away.

It’s not that you’re walking away from anything. You choose to be away, and for valid reasons. Research shows that people are more productive after they’ve taken a vacation than those who stick it out at work.

Furthermore, solutions to problems often seem to magically appear when you’ve stopped thinking so hard about them. While you’ve shut down the engine, so to speak, your mind is still humming away in the background, making connections, figuring out creative approaches, relishing the time to arrive at a sound decision.

All this from just taking a vacation? What a bonus.


This is the time you can be yourself

A vacation is when you don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. Not your boss. Not your neighbor. Not your best friend. Certainly not to yourself.

In fact, one of the great things about a vacation is that you can dress how you like, eat what you want, do what you feel like when you want to. There are no schedules to keep – unless you want to make them, no one you have to impress with your PowerPoint presentation or glitzy ad campaign.

It’s all about you.

Some people have a hard time being alone with themselves. So unused to having time off, too tethered to duties and deadlines and making a good impression they don’t know where or how to begin to enjoy a vacation.

Try it. You’ll soon get into the rhythm of doing whatever you like or nothing at all.


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5 Tips to Make the Right Choice

Photo by Dave Meier-Picography

Photo by Dave Meier-Picography

“Nothing is so exhausting as indecision, and nothing is so futile.” – Bertrand Russell


Standing at a crossroads and deciding which way to go is a metaphor for life. No matter who you are, you’re going to be faced with situations where you need to make a choice every day. Even deciding to do nothing is a choice, although not the most productive one.

Still, it can be extraordinarily difficult to know what the right choice is. Here are some tips that may help:


Tip #1: This particular choice isn’t life-altering.

Most likely, the choice you make now isn’t going to drastically change your life. It also isn’t generally going to be of long-term duration. So, you can enter into a decision with the confidence that you can revise your actions later, take a different course of action, learn from your mistakes, and keep going.


Tip #2: Weigh and balance your options, but do take action.

You can put off making a decision for a long time, but what does that really get you? It’s just a stall tactic that buys very little and may cost a lot. The wiser approach is to carefully review your options and tally up the one that has the most positives going for it. Then, take action. It’s much better than sitting by the sidelines doing nothing.


Tip #3: Seek advice from trusted others, but tailor your actions to suit your circumstances.

It’s OK, even recommended, to ask others what they think. This is especially true the more challenging or important the decision you need to make.

After you hear what your network of loved ones, family members, good friends or other trusted individuals have to say, sift everything through the lens of your mind to come up with a plan that will work for your particular situation.


Tip #4: If it doesn’t work, do something else.

No one is going to be successful in making the right choice every time. That’s not how life works. But giving up when you encounter disappointment or failure isn’t the way to get the most out of life. Doing something else, however, is.

If you stumble the first time out, it doesn’t mean you’re awful at making choices. It does mean there’s a lesson here you need to learn. Take stock of the lesson and figure out a new approach.


Tip #5: Find your best time to think about your choices.

If you try to make a decision when you’re stressed out, tired, hungry, angry or depressed, the choice you make may not be well-informed. Instead, pick a time when you’re well rested, full of energy and receptive to taking action. This may be early morning, a mid-afternoon break, after you wind down at the end of the day.

Whatever time works best for your decision-making process, when you feel you can objectively analyze the various choices and come to a reasonable, workable decision, use that time to your advantage. The choices you make will reflect this proactive approach.


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8 Tips to Help Decision-Making

Photo by Ryan McGuire

Photo by Ryan McGuire

Do you agonize over choices or waffle back and forth before finally settling on one? Even if you don’t think you have much difficulty arriving at a decision, everyone can always use a few pointers, right?

Here are some suggestions on how to make the decision-making process a little easier, less stressful, and a lot more satisfying. 

Get organized

To get started, you need a clean and clear space. A cluttered desk, sloppy workspace or no space to sit comfortably do not help you do anything productive – least of all make an important decision.

Take the time to put things where they should go, wipe up spills, toss out unused and unwanted items or trash, and for the files and materials you will need, arrange them neatly on your desk or work area.

If the project or task that requires your decision involves specific files, folders, artwork, renderings or other items, keep them front and center. 

Eliminate distractions

When it’s time to think about a decision, you can’t afford any distractions. Simple tips to eliminate them include:

  • Turn off your cell phone or let it go to voicemail.
  • If you’re in a physical office with a door, close the door.
  • Turn off email notification sounds on your computer.
  • Better yet, get out of your email client for the time being.
  • Let co-workers and your boss know you’re working on a project and are trying to concentrate. (It helps if this is something you’re on deadline to do, as the boss will likely understand.)
  • Avoid the tendency to doodle, no surfing the Internet to kill time or game-playing just because you think you can.

Clear your mind

Now it’s time to get down to the business at hand. In order to begin the process of decision-making, it’s necessary to clear your mind. This is often one of the hardest things for people to do, especially in today’s non-stop world.

Since it’s next to impossible to completely wipe out extraneous thoughts, the best way to deal with them is to acknowledge their presence and allow them to go away on their own.

You need a bit of time for all the “noise” in your head to die down, so don’t be in a rush. Gradually, your mind will quiet and your thoughts can become better focused. 

Focus on the goal

Speaking of focus, once you’ve cleared your mind it’s the right time to focus on the goal. What do you hope to achieve? What’s your optimum outcome? Are you trying to solve a problem, brainstorm ideas, come up with a creative approach, make a tough choice involving conflicting ideas or options?

Knowing what you want to achieve as an outcome will help you in selecting various avenues and possibilities to consider.

Analyze the pros and cons

The things that come to mind will each have plusses and minuses that you’ll need to take into account. To get through this part of the decision-making process involves the ability to envision what might happen if you choose option A over option B or C, and so on.

Really take the time to think this through. Jot down into columns what the potential outcomes or ramifications for each choice might be. When you can look at these pros and cons on paper, the decision you need to make will be easier, if not obvious.

Sometimes, however, the decision you make will need to be the lesser of two negatives. Always strive to select the choice with the most positive outcome.

Finalize the approach

By now you’ve probably narrowed down your choices and selected the one that you think will serve your needs and help you arrive at the goal you intend.

You’re not done yet.

This is the time to fine-tune your approach, adding the various elements that will make it stand out and shine. You want it to be the best you can do, to reflect your strengths and talents and the benefit of your experience.

It’s possible that you’ll want to make use of one or more facets of other approaches or solutions you were considering. If it helps solidify your ultimate choice or gives it a better chance of success, by all means add it to your approach.

Factor in follow-up

Once you zero in on your decision, the final step before taking action on it is to spend some time figuring out what you’ll need in the form of follow-up.

Will reports help determine the success or failure of your decision? How will the choice you make affect others in the workplace? What benchmarks are important to achieve in order for the decision to be considered effective, valuable, repeatable or industry-first?

Follow-up is one aspect of decision-making that many overlook; yet it is critical to the success of any major decision.

Make the choice

This is the final stretch in decision-making: actually making the choice and beginning to take action. There’s no turning back now. If you’ve gone through the process in a thoughtful and purposeful manner, the decision you make now reflects your attention to detail, your creativity and vision.

Go ahead. Make the choice. And feel good about your decision.


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Leadership Lessons I Learned from Dad


Among the many articles written about leadership, how leaders develop, if they’re born with the ability to lead, how to nurture and mentor someone to become a leader, I’ve rarely seen one that mentioned the importance of fathers modeling leadership for their children.

Personally, wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for the lessons I learned from my dad. So, in celebration of Father’s Day and an acknowledgement of the profoundly important role fathers play in the development of their sons and daughters into leaders, I’d like to talk about my own father.

Clem Harland was the eldest son in a family of four children, one of whom died in infancy. His father was a lumberjack in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, after toiling as a farmer in North Dakota for many years. When Clem’s father died, he had to leave school to begin providing for his mother and two sisters. He took up lumberjacking, the best income potential for the family.

His mother was sickly and died young. This left Clem the sole provider for his two sisters – and he put them both through college, sacrificing his own personal needs and putting the idea of getting married and starting his own family on hold for years.

Although Clem was born with a congenital heart defect and doctors told his parents that he probably wouldn’t live past his teens, nothing deterred the young man from pursuing life to the fullest.

Whether it was lumberjacking in the bitter cold, stinging rain and dangerous conditions (his father died by being crushed between logs jammed up in the water), working a second job as a musician, taking a third job as a cook, or staying up all hours to care for his dying mother, he persevered.

Years later, when he was 31, Clem got married to Mary Jean. By now, he lived next door to her in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They soon were the parents of one boy, lost several infants to miscarriage and finally welcomed their only surviving daughter, me, some four years after the birth of their son.

Clem worked in an automobile factory in Detroit, Michigan. He generally worked the graveyard shift, coming home just as my mother was headed off to work. His health continued to deteriorate, but he never let on.


“Everything you want to know is in here.”

While he never went back to school to finish his education, let alone go to college, he taught himself by reading books. When I was about five and asked my dad how he knew so many things, he closed the book on astronomy he was reading and pointed to it, saying, “Everything you want to know is in here.” I thought he was talking about the stars and planets, but he meant that knowledge is readily available to those with a desire to learn.

This was my first leadership lesson from my dad.

Another came following a heated fight I had with my brother. He broke my doll (we didn’t have much, and this was my favorite toy) and I beat on him with my little fists. He was much bigger and stronger than me and just laughed. I ran to my father crying that life wasn’t fair, boys were mean and I hated my brother.

My dad listened to my complaint and comforted me as best he could. He promised to fix dolly (and he did) and told me that I should never let others take advantage of me. Even though he didn’t condone fighting (and my brother had a stern talking-to from dad as a result), he believed that individuals have to stand up for themselves.

This important leadership lesson sticks with me today. A leader doesn’t back down just because there’s opposition. He or she takes a stand and leads by example.

When I was 12, I was fearful all the time. I was aware that my father wasn’t well. I’d heard my mother discussing how the factory put him on a sweeper’s job due to his poor health. But he was still the breadwinner and the factory took care of its employees.

I began having nightmares about my dad dying. I was so frightened that I didn’t dare tell him. All I could muster was a conversation where I asked what he wanted out of life, did he ever regret his choices, and was he happy?

“…Don’t let anyone or anything prevent you from following your dreams.”

His answer still brings me to tears. He said, “I have everything I ever wanted. You, your brother and your mother mean the world to me. As for my life, I am happy and blessed. What you need to know is that you can be whatever you choose to be. Don’t let anyone or anything prevent you from following your dreams.”

We even went to a local amusement park over the Fourth of July to celebrate his 52nd birthday. We screeched in glee as the cars lurched to the top of the roller coaster and flew downward with neck-straining fore.

My father was dead less than a week later. His death was massive coronary occlusion. He died on the job. The personnel people that came to the house to inform us said he died in seconds.

 *  *  *

I also remember long walks on the beach of Lake Michigan, running up and down the sand dunes, catching and cleaning perch and whitefish after being on the frigid lake since before dawn.

And so much more.

All these things happened decades ago, but the memories are as vivid as if it was just yesterday.

My father taught me everything I ever need to know about leadership. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.



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Why I Hate Clutter

DeathtoStock_Creative Community8

If you’re like me, sometimes it’s hard to get your head in the game. The deadline’s looming, you’ve got a sore back from doing too much over the weekend, you had to skip breakfast because you slept in, and now you can’t seem to get started. Looking over your desk or workspace, all you see is clutter.


It’s enough to make you want to turn off the computer, get up and walk out, right?


For me, clutter is a big four-letter word. I just can’t stand to come to work, all ready to go (or not) and be confronted with a pile of disorganized papers, mail someone dumped in the middle of the desk instead of the inbox tray, pens that found their way into corners, empty paper ream wrappers and so on.


I think to myself that this is a big waste of time – but I can’t help myself. I have to tidy up before I do anything else.


Most of all, however, I’m angry with myself that I didn’t take the time before I left the office yesterday to do what I normally do: clean up my workspace.


In reality, it only takes a few minutes to do the job properly. The caveat is, of course, that it’s done regularly. It kind of defeats the purpose if the clean-up task is left undone for a solid week. That just results in a massive job that takes time away from more productive or enjoyable pursuits.


Here, in no particular order, are the reasons I hate clutter. Maybe some of them resonate with you.


  • Clutter makes me look disorganized.
  • The boss doesn’t take too kindly to a messy workspace.
  • It takes much too long to find what I’m looking for, especially when I need it quickly.
  • I can’t think clearly when I’m surrounded by clutter.
  • If it’s a leftover food container or latte, there’s a smell I have to deal with in addition to the mess left behind.
  • Ever have a problem with ants from something sticky or sweet that didn’t get cleaned up? I have. And I hate bugs even more than clutter.
  • The messier my desk looks, the worse I feel.
  • I think clutter is contagious. It often seems like my co-workers don’t tend to their mess if I don’t keep my workspace clean.
  • When I’m surrounded by clutter, I feel completely unmotivated to get anything done.
  • Clutter reminds me that I need to do a better job managing my time – so there’s enough time to take care of this annoying, but necessary, daily task.


Change Your Habits, Change Your Life


I’m a big fan of Gretchen Rubin and I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration from her tips on how to change your habits to live a healthier life.


I’ve also read books and blog posts, and watched how-to videos and presentations on time management, simplifying your life, prioritizing goals and how to become successful in everything you do. I think I’ve done my research.


What I’ve learned is that not only is cleanliness next to Godliness, the sign of an orderly mind and a good habit to practice, it also feels good to get rid of all that clutter.


It really is possible to change your habits and change your life.


Now, what happened to my to-do list? It was just here somewhere…


What irks you most about clutter? More important, what tactics do you use to deal with it?


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How to Deal With Insidious Office Gossip

Photo by Ryan McGuire

You’ve heard the whispers, caught the sly glances cast your way, felt the cool brushoff from co-workers and people you thought were your friends. No matter how connected and well-liked you think you are, you’re not immune to being the target of gossip.

While it can seem harmless, gossip can also ruin your career, seriously damage relationships and crush your self-esteem. So, it’s never something to take lightly. How do you deal with insidious office gossip? Here are some suggestions.

Don’t Repeat It

You can’t stop other people from spreading gossip, but you can stop yourself from repeating it. This means you don’t repeat it in any form whatsoever, not in person, over the phone, in an email or text or any kind of written communication. Repeating gossip reinforces what may very well be bad information, lending credence or some air of authority to baseless, harmful words.

Never Encourage It

When you ask for more details, nod in agreement, look interested and keep the conversation going with the gossiper, that’s just giving the person the green light to keep spreading such tales. Even if the tidbit might give you some kind of leverage over the person gossiped about, it’s very bad form to be part of this tangle of negativity by subtly or overtly encouraging the gossip to continue.

Change the Subject

Suppose you have coffee with some co-workers before heading into work or dashing off to your desk. In the middle of exchanging pleasantries, talking about the great game your child had yesterday, making plans for lunch or after work, one of your co-workers says with a hushed voice, “Did you hear that Marsha (your boss) is having an affair with Dave (her boss)?”

Instead of immediately requesting details, the best course of action here is to change the subject. Tell your gossiping co-worker that you have to go, you’ve got a project that’s due, you forgot something in your car, or something else. Without an audience, the gossiper will have no one to dish to. And you’ve helped possibly halt the transmission of office gossip – at least with you and for now.

Don’t Make Time for It

It’s not always non-stop work at the office. There are periods of downtime as well. It could be during a coffee break or lunch or walking from one meeting to the next, in the car on the way to an office function or on the phone chatting when you have a minute. It’s during such times that gossip can be inserted as a way to shake things up, keep work interesting or attempt to garner support for someone with an ulterior motive.

You, however, have the power to not be a part of this. All you need to do is not make time for it. When you refuse to participate, the gossiper can’t draw you in. Use whatever statement or action works best for you, but just don’t allow yourself to be swept up in the gossip.

Don’t Confuse Gossip with News – It Isn’t

Most gossipers have a great lead, as if what they’re about to say carries the importance and timeliness of news. You’ll know fairly quickly if what comes after the headline – or even the headline itself – is legitimate news or something else, like gossip.

While the person spreading the gossip wants you to believe and join in the gossip trail, you know instinctively that this is not good for anyone. It won’t help you in your dealings at work, won’t elevate you in the eyes of others (who trusts a gossiper, anyway?), and may very well come back to bite you.

Again, use your most effective tactics here to get away from the gossiper, but never confuse gossip with real news.

Think How You’d Feel

If you want to know the effects of gossip, put yourself in the shoes of the person being gossiped about. Think how you’d feel if everyone was saying these awful things about you. That sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, knowing that others are spreading gossip about you? Multiply that by 10 and it won’t even come close to the damage insidious office gossip can create.

Watch What You Say

If you start a conversation with “You can’t tell anyone…”, it’s almost guaranteed they will as soon as they’re out of your sight. For this reason, watch what you say to others. Before you say anything, think about why you’re saying it, what purpose your words have and what the effect may be on whoever hears them.

Will your comments be taken as literal, fact, rumor or innuendo? Is this something that you really need to say? Suppose you are behind on a project and need help to get it in on time. Ask for help, but don’t blame your shortcomings on someone else on your team, sabotaging them behind their back. Rally those whom you know you can count on, especially people whom you’ve helped in similar circumstances.

Confront the Gossiper One-on-One

When you’ve heard negative office gossip and especially if you are in a position of authority, the best way to stop it in its tracks is to confront the gossiper directly. Do so in a private location where no one else will hear the discussion – and seek to spread even more gossip about the goings on.

Let the gossiper know that what he or she is doing is harmful to others, and can result in disciplinary action or other negative consequences. While the gossiper may have thought their actions harmless, reminding them that gossip is anything but may be enough to quell it.

Model the Best Behavior

If you’re the boss, the leader of a team, or just one of the employees who contributes to the overall company’s success, you can make a difference when it comes to dealing with office gossip. How you do this is to model the kind of behavior that’s proactive, positive and uplifting.

This is called leading by example and is something that every employee can do. By showing through your words and actions at all times what is acceptable behavior, you will be serving as a role model for others.

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How Your Memory Suffers with Poor REM Sleep

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Photo by Jordan Whitt

Do you find yourself yawning during the day? Are you tired, listless and can’t seem to focus on the task at hand? Is it difficult to remember things – like what you have on your to-do list, what you did an hour ago, the promises you made yesterday?

You could be suffering from the effects of poor sleep.

Thanks to a study published in Science by researchers at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute at McGill University, and the University of Bern in Switzerland, there’s new awareness that rapid eye movement sleep, or REM, plays a direct role in the formation of memory.

REM sleep, also called dream sleeping, is actually the fourth and final stage of sleep. This sleep stage is characterized by rapid eye movement back, shallow breathing, heart rate and blood pressure increase, and paralysis of the legs and arms.

Although scientists already knew that the brain stores newly acquired information into different types of memories. These are spatial or emotional memories. After they are stored, they are consolidated or integrated.

But how this brain function performs has remained a mystery until the researchers proved, using optogenetics, that REM sleep is critical for the normal spatial memory formation in mice. Optogenetics is a recently developed technology that helps scientists to precisely target a population of neurons and control its activity by light.

REM sleep has long been considered a critical sleep component in all mammals, not just humans. Poor sleep quality is also becoming increasingly associated with onset of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

The results from this study suggest that disrupted REM sleep may be a direct contributor to the kind of memory impairment that those with Alzheimer’s disease exhibit.

But disrupted REM sleep isn’t good for anyone, not in the short- or the long-term.


How to Ensure Good REM Sleep

If disrupted REM sleep is wreaking havoc with your memory, there are some things you can do to ensure you get back to having a good night of REM sleep.

  • Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages – particularly in the hours just before you head off to bed. While alcohol may make you drowsy, it interferes with REM sleep. Caffeine, meanwhile, negatively affects REM sleep. So drink that latte earlier in the day.
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress that is supportive of your body.
  • Watch out for taking certain medications, including decongestants and diet pills, because they also have a negative effect on REM sleep.
  • Medications taken to promote sleep, both prescription and over-the-counter medicine, work to suppress REM sleep.
  • Cigarette smoking is also counter-productive to a good REM sleep. That’s because nicotine withdrawal wakes the sleeper prematurely, thus disrupting adequate REM sleep.
  • Maintain a comfortable sleeping environment. If the room where you sleep is too hot or too cold, it will interfere with your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. That’s because the body loses its ability to regulate temperature during REM sleep. So, if you wake up because you’re shivering or in a sweat, your REM sleep is disrupted. It may be a while before you fall back asleep, and your REM sleep may not be enough.
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule. Retire for the night at a consistent time and wake up at the same time each morning. When you maintain a regular sleep schedule, you’ll be giving yourself more opportunity to cycle between the various sleep stages and experience longer REM sleep later in the night.
  • Get rid of all distractions in the bedroom. Light from electronic devices, such as smartphones, tablets, television and computers stimulates the brain, cuts down on the production of melatonin that encourages REM sleep, and can mess up your body clock. Technology is a huge culprit in sleep-deprived individuals.
  • Exercise at least 20 to 30 minutes daily – but do it 5 or 6 hours before you’re ready to go to sleep. Daily exercise has been proven to both help you sleep and allow you to stay in REM sleep longer.


If you try these techniques and still have a problem getting adequate REM sleep, a visit to your doctor might be in order. There could be an underlying medical condition that needs attention. For most people, however, understanding the various stages of sleep and the things that typically interfere with REM sleep, and taking proactive steps to counter them usually works.


Now, go ahead and get some good ZZZZs.

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10 Biggest Daily Work Time-Wasters

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There are only so many hours in the day to get things done. Knowing this, sometimes does it seem like you’re constantly chasing down the clock, scrambling last-minute to finalize projects, gather your thoughts and make it home in one piece?
Could it be that you’re wasting precious time doing things that are unnecessary, low priority, out of sequence or simply the wrong things at the wrong time?

Here’s a look at some of the biggest daily wastes of time at work. See if you recognize your time-wasters among them.

Time-Waster #1: Checking texts and tweets

If you can’t bear to miss what could be important texts and tweets, you’re likely guilty of FOMO (fear of missing out). In reality, most of the instant messages, texts and tweets can wait for later. It’s all too easy to become hooked on checking, replying and checking again cycle. No wonder you can’t get anything done at work, home, school or elsewhere.

What to do: Only check texts and tweets on a pre-determined schedule. And don’t make that too often or you’ll defeat the purpose.

Time-Waster #2: Addicted to email

Email is a necessary part of doing business. It’s also the bane of productivity at the office, home business, on the road and so on. If you always have your email client open and notifications pop up on the taskbar or chime to let you know another email’s arrived, you’re engaging in highly unproductive behavior. Not only are you inclined to rush to that incoming email to see what it’s about, you’re also taking your concentration away from the task you’re engaged in.

That’s not conducive to good work habits. And it won’t win you any points with the boss – unless, of course, the email is an urgent one from your superior.

What to do: Set specific times to check emails, say at 9:00 a.m., Noon, and 3:00 p.m. Don’t be tempted to interrupt your schedule to peek. That’s defeating the purpose.

Time-Waster #3: Multitasking

You’re not a superpower. That means you don’t have the ability to perform multiple tasks simultaneously. Somehow, however, you’ve come to believe that you’re really good at juggling several things at once.

You’re not.

What to do: Prioritize your day, setting a specific time to accomplish each task. Work to complete one before beginning another. By focusing on one task at a time, you’ll train yourself to finish it in the allotted time. You’ll probably do a better job at it as well.

Time-Waster #4: Reacting, not acting

How much of your day is spent reacting to something others foist on you, interrupt you with or feel you have to comment about? If you’re always reacting, that robs you of time you could better spend taking action.

What to do: While you can’t stop all interruptions, you can figure out how to deal with them more effectively. Don’t answer the phone when you’re in the middle of a project. Let it go to voicemail. If someone asks you to help them, say you’ll be glad to when you’re finished with what you’re doing.

Time-Waster #5: Doing personal stuff

Everyone does it. That doesn’t mean tending to personal stuff when you’re supposed to be working isn’t a huge time suck. Hoping you can post to your social media or sneak some errands in before your boss notices is not the best strategy. And you’re more likely to extend the time than cut it short.

What to do: Use your lunch break to take care of personal matters, such as updating social media, gabbing with friends, etc. Let others know they can reach you during this time, not when you’re working.

Time-Waster #6: Endless surfing the Web

The Internet is a wonderful resource, but it’s also the perfect venue for wasting time. Not only can you get lost by following different links, the temptation to endlessly surf the Web is almost irresistible.

What to do: Here is a case where you really need to set limits. If you can’t engage in a quick peek when you’re researching something for work, set your surfing aside and indulge in it during lunch break or after work. At least finish what you’re working on now. Otherwise, the end of the day will arrive and you’ll have wasted it.

Time-Waster #7: Looking for things

Where did that report go? You know it was just here, but you can’t seem to find it in the pile on your desk. If your work area – or the area where you do work – is cluttered, scattered and messy, you are wasting time you can’t afford.

What to do: Spend 10 minutes at the end of the day to clear your desk. File what needs to be kept. Recycle or shred documents no longer needed. Make your workspace neat and tidy. This will add to your efficiency tomorrow and cut down on wasted time.

Time-Waster #8: Little breaks that go on forever

Stretching a coffee break into longer than necessary is another common time-wasting practice. That smoke you just have to have (even though you’ve promised yourself you’d quit) seems to take you away from the job far more often than it should. These constant little breaks are adding up to a lot of lost productivity. Not good.

What to do: While mini-breaks, as in, looking away from the computer or getting up to walk around every 15 minutes, are good, heading out for too many breaks is counter-productive. Cut them to mid-morning, lunch and mid-afternoon and you’ll find you’ve gained back some of that time you lost.

Time-Waster #9: Meetings that go nowhere

Who doesn’t hate unproductive meetings? The fact is that many meetings lack a solid agenda, meander without ever accomplishing their goal, degenerate into argument or reach no consensus.

What to do: Distribute an agenda prior to the meeting (if you’re the one calling it). If you’re an attendee/participant, encourage others to stick to the agenda. Most important, if a meeting isn’t necessary, elicit ideas and input another way, perhaps via email.

Time-Waster #10: Nonproductive in-between time

Your workday isn’t all alone-time at your desk. It’s comprised of meetings and phone calls and time in-between meetings. These windows of 15-30 minutes are often completely wasted.

What to do: Instead of doodling at your desk, using the time to check social media, emails and engage in other time-wasters, try to schedule meetings back-to-back. The time you save can then be grouped into a single block of time, possibly later in the day. That allows you uninterrupted time to actually get something done.

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6 Reasons to Love Routines



6 reasons to love routines

Photo by Manki Kim on Unsplash

With everything you must do daily, it can sometimes be a bit too much. It doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO of a startup, a small business owner, or a home-based entrepreneur trying to juggle kids and family and still tend to your company, everyone struggles to find balance and figure out effective ways to get things done. Here are some reasons to love routines.

Routines come in handy. In fact, instead of considering daily routines as something boring or to be avoided at all costs, a routine should be your friend. I know I’ve come to appreciate the value of routines. Here’s why:

6 Reasons to Love Routines

Routines are comfortable

Like that outfit you automatically reach for in the closet because you can be yourself, an established routine offers comfort.

You don’t have to worry about it being right or try to figure out which one to use. You’ve got it down, know the steps, what to do first, and what follows that.

Less worry, more comfort. How easy is that?

Routines are familiar

When faced with something strange, the natural tendency is to shy away, to wonder if this is out of your league, and to procrastinate until a deadline or demand forces you to act.

On the other hand, even when you know you’re likely to encounter moments requiring you to decide today, you can still rely on the familiarity routines provided.

Familiarity with routines is like a dear friend. You know what to expect. There are no surprises. My familiar routine is a blessing when I’m on autopilot – especially first thing in the morning when I’m not fully awake.

Routines are easy

While some routines can become unnecessarily complicated, the best ones are simple and easy to follow.

Who wants to think too hard about which part of the routine requires additional steps before you can begin? You want the cleanest, most straightforward, and most basic routine to make doing it as easy as possible.

The key is to break the routine into small, easy-to-follow steps. This helps cement your memory. You can pull it out whenever needed. 

Routines offer security

A lot of times, you don’t get to choose what you must work on today. Your boss, teacher, parent, friend, neighbor, acquaintance or associate, or someone else lays down the itinerary for you. More than likely, they also insist on a deadline.

Not knowing what’s coming tends to make you a little insecure. Enter the security of your familiar, comfortable, and easy routine. There is nothing like going back to basics to reestablish calm and give you the sense that you have control over what you do.

Whenever I feel things getting out of control, I take the time to indulge in one of my favorite routines. Mine is having a delicious latte. The process of anticipation, making it, and sipping it never fails to make me feel great. 

Routines help you get started

Pressure to complete multiple projects often results in an unwillingness to begin on any of them. It may seem like the more you have on your to-do list, the less inclined you are to get started.

The beauty of routines is that they serve as a neat primer to revive your energy. Consider routine as the spark that ignites the gasoline to power the car or the fuel in breakfast that nourishes your body and mind.

Whether you make use of a routine to get up in the morning or go to bed at night – you might even refer to these as rituals — what you do before tackling a difficult or time-consuming project at work or something you do before having an important conversation, routines are particularly good at helping you get started.

And sometimes, we all need a little help doing that.

Routines serve as a transition or bridge

It’s well-known that humans can’t run flat out for extended periods. You can pull only so many all-nighters before your body gives out.

A routine makes transitioning from one state of energy, focus, or concentration to another a little less jarring. It also helps to smooth the way from one task to the next by factoring in a buffer zone to refresh and regroup.

One of my favorite routines helps me do just that. It’s also good exercise. After working on a task for about an hour, I get up and walk downstairs, go outside to do something small in the garden (another familiar, comfortable, and easy routine), or take a walk.

What are your favorite routines? Do you have some you use only in certain situations or find more effective than others? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Can You Name Your Top 5 Goals?

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Chances are you want a lot more out of life. And you’re well aware that success requires ongoing effort, a plan and willingness to do what it takes.

So, why are you floundering? Or are you just confused, unclear or unmotivated?

When the thought occurs to you that you’re not where you want to be, the next question to ask yourself is, “What are my goals?”

This basic self-query is essential to achieving anything in life, whether it’s success in business or career, at home, school, in relationships, and in finding happiness and purpose.

Goals are the key.

With this in mind, can you name your top five?

If not, all is not lost. Here’s help to get you back on track.


What All Good Goals Have in Common

Goals are as plentiful as grains of sand on a beach. They’re also as unique. Your goal for achieving success at work is different from mine, from that of your friend and co-worker, the neighbor across the street, your best pal in high school.

Yet good goals have a few characteristics in common:

  • They’re meaningful, highly desirable to the individual.
  • They can be separated into smaller, specific goals for different parts of your life (such as career, relationships, health, self-fulfillment, hobbies, etc.).
  • They’re realistic.
  • They’re achievable.
  • They generate inner excitement.
  • They spark enthusiasm and drive to achieve them.


How to Understand What Really Matters

Everyone’s heard the story about the patient who learns she has only six months to live. What will she do with that remaining time? A lot gets clarified in a hurry when time is short.

Translate that to your situation – and that means putting yourself in the life and death scenario. Think about the people and dreams that are most important to you. Are you making progress toward doing what makes you most happy and fulfilled?

Suppose you always thought that having $100,000 in the bank would be a sign of success, that this was a worthwhile goal. Is the bank statement showing you’ve got $100,000 in your account a manifestation of what you believe is truly important in life?

Will it sustain you and bring you comfort over the next 180 days?

Granted, it’s painful to envision the end of your life. Yet this exercise may help you drill down to the essence of your values and beliefs. It may be easier to strip away the nonessential and hone in on goals that really do make a difference.

These will be the goals that are meaningful, can be broken into workable parts, are realistic, achievable, exciting and motivating.


Step-by-step Process to Achieving Goals

After you’ve completed your self-awareness analysis and gotten to the crux of what means most to you, you’re ready to begin work on goals.

Specifically, this is an eight-step process to achieving goals:

  1. Identify goals. Remember the various aspects of your life that matter? Take the time to write down goals that affect your career, attitude, health, relationships, financials and more.


  1. Prioritize goals. Assign a number to each, from most- to least-important. Do this for each category.


  1. Create sub-goals. While you have already identified primary goals, each of these need to have sub-goals that you create. A sub-goal is a goal that must be achieved before you can succeed in attaining the primary goal.


  1. Develop intermediate goals. Take each goal category and list what you feel you need to achieve in several timeframes: a month, six months, one year, five years and 10 years. Make these intermediate goals specific. Write them down.


  1. Do a present status assessment. Next, figure out where you are today relative to your goals. If you find that you’re far short of where you need to be, consider what you need to do to either change your circumstances or reconstruct your goals. This isn’t giving up on your goals. It’s revising them to acknowledge the constraints you’re experiencing while still giving you the opportunity to achieve them.


  1. Get used to achieving goals. You want to become familiar enough and comfortable with attaining goals. Once you succeed, instead of considering that you’re done, revise the goal again to the next level up. As you gain more self-confidence with continued goal achievement, you will experience continued growth.


  1. See yourself being successful. A crucial part of goal setting and achievement is actually visualizing yourself a success. Engage in a little daydreaming here to see how that success looks, sounds and feels.


  1. Set a timeline and plan. Having gone through steps one through eight, you’re not done yet. Now it’s time to put down a timeline and a specific plan in order to achieve each of your goals.


The more you go through this process, the easier it will become. After a while, it’s going to become second-nature. Instead of struggling to figure out where you’re going from here or not knowing what really matters, you’ll have an instinctive blueprint.

You may not end up with five top goals. You may have only three, or you could have 10. The number isn’t important. What matters is how these goals help you to live a vibrant and purposeful life.

If they don’t, are they really that important after all?

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How to Procrastinate Less and Accomplish More

procrastinate less

Photo by Hilthart Pederson on Unsplash

Most of us would love to know how to procrastinate less and accomplish more. While we may think we have solid skills in this area, there are always new tips to try. Here are some smart and effortless ways to procrastinate less and accomplish more.

How to Procrastinate Less and Accomplish More

The definition of procrastination is the act of deliberately putting off or delaying doing something despite the inevitable negative consequences of that decision. When you look at procrastination this way, it makes sense to investigate approaches that teach us to procrastinate less and accomplish more.

How Much Does Procrastination Affect Your Life?

Before trying to curb the urge to procrastinate, figure out how much procrastination affects everyday life. Procrastination plays a significant role if you put off doing even mundane tasks, thinking you’ll do them later or at some undetermined time. And it’s not a good role.

On the other hand, fear could be an underlying factor if you tend to procrastinate more when uncertain about the task or issue, your knowledge, experience, or readiness to tackle it.

  • Your strategies for learning how to procrastinate less may vary depending on when, where, and how much procrastination affects your life.

Make a List of Tasks

Before working on any task, you must know what you’re dealing with. So, list all the jobs you must do.

  • It may also be helpful to include a deadline beside the task. That way, you know the due date and can move on to the next step to procrastinate less and accomplish more.

Prioritize the Tasks to Procrastinate Less

Now that you have all the tasks listed, it’s time to prioritize them according to the parameters you set. For example, you could arrange them by:

  • Categories
  • Due date
  • Importance
  • Must-do, nice-to-do, or do-whenever
  • Reporting structure (who’s waiting for the completion of the task, duty, or assignment)

Create a Schedule

There are only so many hours in the day to devote to tasks. To maximize your time, create a schedule accommodating other work-home-social activities and responsibilities.

  • Remember that work-home balance is essential to overall well-being. Avoid waiting until the last minute on a critical project and working into the night to complete it.
  • With a workable schedule, you can procrastinate less and accomplish more.

Break it Up to Procrastinate Less

Staring at a complex, time-consuming, or complicated task is enough to tempt anyone to put it off. Sidestep this trap by breaking the task into manageable chunks. There are several ways to do this:

  • Work on the most accessible part first. This helps build momentum and self-confidence.
  • Tackle the most challenging part first. This eases some of the pressure and stress and gets you that much closer to completion.
  • Alternate between challenging and accessible sections of the task. This inserts variety into the activity and keeps interest levels high.
  • Work linearly. This is a logic-based progression where each step naturally leads to the next.

Aim for Completion, Not Perfection

Few things in life are perfect. Only some tasks will be completed to perfection. There isn’t enough time for that when deadlines loom and others count on you to deliver the product or assignment.

  • Do your best to adhere to specifications and directions.
  • Remember that overall productivity suffers from delays in task completion by individual contributors.
  • Completion is more important than perfection.

Allocate Time and Limit Non-Productive Activities

Burnout happens when task work proceeds past productive time. Set aside an appropriate amount of time to work on the task and take a break.

  • Similarly, minimize time spent on anything non-productive.
  • Extending breaks longer than necessary is too easy to rationalize. It will also cause you to procrastinate more when the goal is to procrastinate less and accomplish more.

Use Positive Thinking to Procrastinate Less

Suppose you must complete a project or task outside your expertise. This is an instance where you want to give yourself a pep talk. Use positive psychology to bolster your courage and determination to get started.

  • Remind yourself that you’ve completed challenging assignments before. You have what it takes and will do an excellent job.
  • Nothing motivates more than positive thinking.

See This as a Growth Opportunity

Some tasks are distasteful, not fun, boring, tedious, or not worthwhile. Yet, everyone must do things they don’t want to or would instead put off indefinitely. Remember that life is filled with dichotomies. The core of life is opposites: good vs. evil, happy vs. sad, light vs. dark, birth vs. death, and the like.

  • While you may not enjoy specific undesirable tasks, you can learn to tolerate them.
  • Use this as an opportunity to grow as a person.

Treat Yourself to a Reward

After completing the task, celebrate. Allow yourself a treat or reward for getting the job done.

  • When you know you’ll be rewarded, and you’re more motivated to continue until you’re finished.
  • Sometimes, the best way to get through complex tasks is the lure of post-task celebrating.

A final thought: Give yourself a little latitude in learning to procrastinate less and accomplish more. Remember that incremental progress counts – and is self-reinforcing. The habit of achieving what you set out to do becomes easier with practice.

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Walking:10 Healthiest Reasons to Increase It

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Photo by Delphine Beausoleil on Unsplash

Walking is an effortless way to increase daily physical activity. Besides being free, the incremental benefits of walking continue to add up. Here are 10 of the healthiest reasons to increase walking now.

Healthiest Reasons to Increase Walking

Everyone knows that exercise is good. We tell ourselves we will get more physically active, yet often fail to follow through. Life gets in the way. But walking is a simple, easy, and free way to exercise. Bonus: Walking is good for physical and mental health.

Boost Energy and Vitality

In a 2022 review and meta-analysis, researchers found significant increases in energy and vitality in exercise in green outdoor versus urban outdoor environments.

Walking Significantly Reduces Anxiety

Combatting anxiety can be challenging. Yet, research shows that walking can prove effective in reducing the symptoms of anxiety.

  • Liu et al. (2019), researching the health benefits of bamboo forest therapy, found increased positive mood after 15 minutes of viewing and 15 minutes of walking in the forest.
  • Besides lowering anxiety, the bamboo forest walking reduced tension, anger, hostility, fatigue, and confusion.

Improves Tranquility and Calmness

Besides meditation, what else helps improve a sense of tranquility and calmness?

  • According to research by Butryn and Furst (2003), walking in a park showed a statistically significant increase in tranquility compared with an urban environment.

Buddhist Walking Meditation Helps with Type 2 Diabetes

What about combining the two if walking is good and meditation is good? When evaluating traditional walking with Buddhist walking meditation, Gainey et al. (2016) found positive effects for Type 2 diabetes:

  • Buddhist walking meditation significantly improved oxygen consumption.
  • Fasting blood glucose levels significantly decreased with this form of mindful walking.
  • Significantly decreased levels of HbA1c and systolic and diastolic blood pressure were found in the Buddhist walking meditation group. This was compared with traditional walking.
  • Furthermore, arterial stiffness improved, and blood cortisol levels were reduced with Buddhist walking meditation.

Walking Helps Reduce Stress

Walking outside is a simple yet effective way to lower stress levels. How it works: Exercise like walking reduces cortisol and adrenaline levels. These are stress hormones. Walking (and other brisk exercises) increases endorphin production. Endorphins are brain chemicals that are called natural painkillers and natural mood enhancers.

  • The benefits of walking can occur with a brief, 20-minute walk. This is enough to clear your mind and reduce feelings of stress.

Walking May Help Reduce Cognitive Decline

As Americans age, rates of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia continue to climb. But is there a non-medical way to help stave off cognitive decline? Research on walking shows promise in this area as well.

Research from the Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association reported that 31-plus minutes of moderate-to-vigorous daily physical activity (steps, walking) was associated with a 21 percent lower risk of dementia or mild cognitive impairment. This was among women aged 65 and older.

Walking Could Boost Creativity

Are you looking for a burst of inspiration? Walking may be the answer. Researchers at Stanford University found that walking boosted participants’ creativity by 81 percent on one test and 23 percent on another.

  • Interestingly, their creativity got a residual boost when participants were seated after walking.
  • Furthermore, walking outdoors offered the highest quality results.
  • Researchers concluded that walking spurs ideas free flow. It is a robust, simple solution to increase creativity.

Growing New Brain Cells May be Possible

Scientists are eager to find ways to stimulate the brain to produce new cells. Researchers are excited to study the potential benefits of walking to stimulate the growth of new brain cells.

  • A study on aerobic activity, such as walking and dancing, found that white matter in the brain remodels itself with increased physical activity.
  • The brain’s white matter is responsible for remembering and thinking.
  • Being able to potentially grow new brain cells by walking demonstrates the brain’s plasticity and malleability.

Lower Anger and Hostility

Do you need to tamp down feelings of anger and hostility? Besides hitting a boxing bag, what else can you do? How about walking?

Dr. Melina B. Jampolis, commenting on the research, states that regular walking “modifies your nervous system so much that you’ll experience a decrease in anger and hostility.” The article appeared in Prevention.

Brisk Walking Improves the Heart

Research shows that a 30-minute daily walk helps reduce heart disease risk. Researchers say walking should be recommended to help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Walking can also help combat depression. So, step it up. Get out there. Enjoy a refreshing and reinvigorating walk today.



Best Easy Ways to Overcome Depression

Overcome depression

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Feeling down for weeks is no fun. Besides, living with untreated depression robs you of joy. Commit to taking proactive steps with these easy ways to help overcome depression so you can live a vibrant life.

Depression Statistics

The World Health Organization (WHO) says about 280 million people worldwide have depression. Furthermore, this mental health disorder is more commonly found in women than men (by about 50 percent).

  • Although effective depression treatments are available, more than 75 percent of those with depression in poorer countries are not treated.

Depression can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or ethnicity. Yet, depression is highly treatable, and people can go on to live a normal, productive life.

Easy Ways to Overcome Depression

The most crucial decision is getting treatment. Yet, psychological depression treatments, while effective, take time. Your treatment may include behavioral, cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal, or problem-solving therapy. But you will want to take additional steps to feel better. The same holds for taking prescribed antidepressant medications.

What can you do today to help overcome depression?

Find Activities You Enjoy

Think about what you enjoy doing most. For example, if you like walking in nature, schedule a weekend to relax with a stroll in a nature preserve, a hiking trail in the mountains or woods, or a city park.

Walking in nature hits two significant points in the ways to overcome depression:

Maintain a Regular Routine

Now is the time to stick to your regular eating and sleeping pattern. It would be best to nourish your body and replenish your energy consistently.

Cherish Connections with Family and Friends

One easy way to overcome depression is familiar and healing. Connect with family and friends often. This helps lift your mood, overcome lethargy, stop self-destructive and potentially downward-spiraling thoughts, and promote well-being.

Be Kind to Yourself to Overcome Depression

Kindness always helps. But when you are working to overcome depression, kindness can be highly effective. First, be kind to yourself. Healing from depression is a long-haul experience. You want all the help you can get.

Plus, the benefits of self-kindness radiate to all aspects of life.

Find Someone You Trust to Talk to

Even though you may see a psychotherapist or counselor to help you overcome depression, you may need someone to talk to in-between sessions.

  • Choose this person wisely.
  • You want someone you trust so you know they won’t betray your confidence.
  • And you want to talk openly about your feelings with someone who can be empathetic and encouraging in your healing journey.

Give Yourself Goals to Achieve

One of the best easy ways to overcome depression is to have something to look forward to. Your list of goals to achieve can include the following:

  • Making plans to go on vacation
  • Going back to school to get a degree
  • Taking a course to learn something new
  • Achieving proficiency or mastery in a sport or hobby
  • Embarking on a new career
  • Expanding your network of friends

Creating opportunities for goal achievement and accomplishment is one of the cornerstones of positive psychology interventions to reduce depression.

Embrace Hope to Overcome Depression

Be optimistic about your future. Adopt a hopeful attitude. Hope helps restore your body and mind to a healthy state. Hope drives motivation. It is a source of inspiration and is essential for creativity.

Treatment Resources

Need help locating treatment? Check out these resources:



10 Best Easy Solutions to Most of Your Problems

10 Best Easy Solutions to Most of Your Problems

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Some problems are so challenging that it seems impossible to find a workable solution. Let alone one that is easy to do. Often, problem-solving is so anxiety-producing that you give up. That creates problems. What you want are answers. So, here are my best easy solutions to most of your problems.

Is this possible? If so, how do you go about it? While no single approach will work for everyone, there are some general tips on finding your way through the potential solutions to find the one that works best in any given situation.

Divide – So You Can Conquer

Separate what’s necessary from what can wait. If you have too much competition for your attention, you cannot find the motivation to get going on any task or problem.

First, pare down your list. Identify what is necessary to do before anything else. Set aside anything that can wait. This helps reduce the tension and stress that may cloud your judgment and prevent you from finding workable, easy solutions to most of your problems.

Set a Completion Timeline

Determine your timeline for completion. Some tasks, problems, duties, or responsibilities are more pressing. Factor this into which ones you’ll tackle first. Also, allocate sufficient time to gather needed information, line up resources, and get needed assistance. Add some cushion time to avoid a last-minute rush. This is another excellent strategy to reduce pressure to complete tasks or solve problems.

Make the Problem Manageable

Break the problem into manageable parts. Splitting them into smaller chunks is essential for complex, complicated issues that take a lot of effort or time. They need to be ones that you can manage more easily.

Consider that solving any task means going through specific steps. Use a ladder approach. This helps you arrange steps into more accessible ones. It also gives you a feeling of accomplishment when you complete each one. After going through the steps, you’ll find that what once seemed difficult or impossible is not overwhelming.

Use Your Support Network for Easy Solutions

Your support network is a great resource to learn how others successfully tackled similar problems. Whatever problem you’re trying to solve, it’s likely that someone in your support network has come up against something similar and may have suggestions on what you can do. Listen to their solutions and use what works best. If your problem is unfamiliar to the group, they can still provide the support and encouragement you need.

If a Solution Works, Keep It

There’s a reason specific strategies and techniques prove successful. Once you discover one or more that work for you, hang on. You can use it again. This gives you a ready-made list of easy solutions to most of your problems. Even if this solution doesn’t seem to apply, knowing that you have a list of strategies and approaches that worked well before gives you confidence that you can also solve this problem.

Every Mistake Holds a Lesson for Easy Solutions

If you find that the solution you put so much effort into didn’t succeed, it’s easy to be disheartened. But there is value there. It would be best if you discovered it.

  • Ask yourself, did you rush things? If that is the case, the lesson may be to take more time with your approach.
  • Did you forget to consider all the potential ramifications before seizing on the solution you anticipated would work? The lesson here could be to take time to weigh one approach with others.

Remember that every mistake holds a lesson. You can always learn something valuable.

Sleep on it.

A good night’s sleep rejuvenates the body. It also calms emotions and makes problem-solving easier. Write down or think about the problem you must solve. Give your subconscious permission to work on the solution while you sleep.

This technique works beautifully. Writing what you want to accomplish frees you from worry. You can sleep knowing that your powerful mind will sort through problem-solving scenarios. When you wake up, you may have an answer or several potential solutions to pursue.

Take a Break

Another way to find easy solutions to most of your problems is to take a break. Stop thinking about it so hard. Instead, do something you enjoy.

Easy Solutions

  • Go for a walk outside. This will clear your head and boost your mood from the endorphins released during brisk exercise.
  • Watch a movie. Immerse yourself in the story, characters, genre, and theme. This brief hiatus from problem-solving will refresh your mind with ideas.
  • Listen to music.
  • Read a book.
  • Go shopping.
  • Meet a friend for coffee or lunch.

While you enjoy yourself, your stress level reduces, and your mind clears. This may lead to unexpected easy solutions to most of your problems. And it is often when you least expect it.

You Are Unique

While you want to be as successful as possible in solving challenging problems, accept that you are unique. This means avoiding comparisons with others’ success. Avoid being envious of their apparent ease in solving a comparable situation. You have no idea what it took for them to arrive at the solution.

Instead, remember that you are unique. You will find solutions that work. Adapt or adopt what others used successfully. With your creativity and fresh ideas, you will make it your own. 

Celebrate success.

You found the best solution to your problem. Congratulations. Yet there is one more step. Celebrate your accomplishment. What does this do? It reinforces self-confidence that you have what it takes to plow through the details to get the job done. This is especially important to your self-esteem and expanding your mental energy to solve problems. Celebrating success builds hope about the future and what you can accomplish.

Top 10 Easy Ways to De-Stress About Money Problems

ways to de-stress about money

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Money cannot buy happiness, but it can help. On the other hand, when money is an issue in a relationship, it can create problems. Since we all have money issues, it is important to learn how to confront and overcome them. Check out these easy ways to de-stress about money problems.

Meaning of De-Stress

What does the word “de-stress” mean? Simply, it means to relieve, alleviate, or reduce stress. Other meanings refer to reducing and relieving tension and anxiety.

Here, the verb is used in connection with the hot-button topic of money stress.

Ways to De-Stress About Problems with Money

This is not a blog about making money. It is a blog about how to get past the stress associated with money problems. In the process, you might discover ways to increase your income or add to your savings. Consider this a bonus.

So, whether you have too little or too much money, here are some effortless ways to solve the stress-related problems associated with money.

Have That Conversation

Money is a source of much friction in relationships. It is one of the biggest sources of disagreement between couples. No wonder people find it tough to talk about money, let alone how to de-stress about money problems.

Yet, having that conversation with your spouse, partner, or significant other is important. It is better to discuss how you feel about money now than wait until finances become unmanageable. For example, discuss what to spend money on, how to divide expenses, how much to allocate for savings, whether you want children (a huge financial expense, loving them notwithstanding), how much of a house, or whether you want a house to own, and other topics.

Figure Out What Is Important

Most people want to succeed in life. They want to pursue their dreams and feel fulfilled. Some say that getting married and having a family is most important to them. Others cite a satisfying and rewarding career.

Think about what you want your life to look like. Do you want to travel? Is finding a better job your goal? Whatever you find most important, envision what that looks like. This helps you shift priorities (and values) to better align with your dreams.

Determine the Money Stress Source

What keeps you up at night about money? If financial anxiety causes sleeplessness, it will only get worse without action. Money experts suggest listing the top money challenges you have. Make it a brief list because too many will frustrate you further.

  • Once you know that certain expenses (like the mortgage and car expenses) are causing you the most stress, you can look for ways to minimize that stress. If you worry that you cannot pay for your child’s college education but other major expenses are still within budget, there are ways to address this money problem.
  • If you are always afraid of never being able to get out of debt, you’re operating under what is known as the scarcity mindset. You will never have enough money (or time, or whatever you’re afraid you won’t have enough of). Instead, experts on reducing money stress suggest reframing your thinking into what you’ve gained or learned from your money problems.

Create a Budget (One You Can Stick to)

Budgeting is a necessary financial activity for any family. One of the best easy ways to de-stress about money problems is to take control of family finances. A budget can mean the difference between overspending and not having enough money to pay the bills and being able to save money for what you want.

Tip: The starting point is net income, the amount left after taxes. List every expense. Set up automatic payments for bills that come every month – like mortgage and utilities. Be sure to sign up for bank alerts so your balance doesn’t dip below a specific level.

Divide Income into Wants and Needs

Now that you know your income, divide it into wants and needs. Your needs are the top priority. The goal here is to make the best use of what you earn. Money only goes so far, whether from salary, investment earnings, a side gig, or freelance jobs.

After classifying what you spend each month by want and need, the next step is to look for ways to cut some wants. These are the expenditures that eat away at the budget – and cause stress. Yes, that daily high-priced coffee drink tastes great, but it is an unnecessary regular expense.

Reduce Debt to De-stress About Money

Have credit card balances become unwieldy? Are you able to make more than the minimum monthly payment? Remember that the interest still accrues on unpaid balances, so unless you can pay the balance in full, at least pay more than the minimum monthly.

  • A better strategy is to stop using credit unless necessary. Another is to set aside high-interest-rate credit cards and only use those that charge lower interest rates.
  • Look for trusted resources if you have trouble reducing debt and still need help with money problems. Your bank financial advisor, your CPA, the Federal Trade Commission, and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling are some good choices.

Add to an Emergency Fund

We all know the value of having an emergency fund. But how many people have the recommended three to six months fund to pay for living expenses in an emergency? While allocating money to sit in a bank account for just-in-case situations may seem distasteful, think of this as a self-insurance policy. That should help you de-stress about money problems.

Earn More from Your Investments

If your bank savings account returns 0.04 percent or less, switch banks or transfer some funds to online banks offering better annual percentage rates. For example, several online banks in April 2023 offered 4.45 percent and higher on high-yield accounts. There may be a minimum investment and a monthly maintenance fee, so check the specifics. A reliable source to check is Bankrate.

  • Also, check out certificates of deposit (CDs). Although your money will be tied up for the duration of the CD, you will earn more than if you leave it in a regular savings account.
  • Another suggestion to earn more from your investments and de-stress about money is investing in high dividend-paying stocks. Even though the market may drop, high dividend-paying stocks will continue to make you money. Look for companies that have consistently raised dividends for 10-20 years.

Schedule Regular Check-Ins with Your Partner

Life can get hectic, and things can change quickly. Goals you or your spouse or partner had six months ago may seem less desirable today. Or, one or both of you may want to pursue something else. Be sure to check in regularly to familiarize yourself with your individual wants, needs, and those you share.

Enjoy Free Leisure Activities with Your Loved One

Financial concerns can interfere with the quality of life if you only stress about them. Besides taking proactive steps to de-stress about money problems, enjoying leisure activities with your loved one is another way to reduce money anxiety. Even better, many things you enjoy doing together are free, like walking in nature, cooking a meal together, and laughing at a comedy you watch at home.

Best Easy Ways to Ensure You Are Happy Today

best easy ways to be happy

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Happiness is what we all want. To be happy means feeling fulfilled, at peace with yourself, one with nature, and much more. Some people strive all their lives trying to find happiness. Yet happiness is readily available. And it is free. Here are some of my best easy ways to be happy today.

Best Easy Ways to Be Happy Today

Start with these tips to begin your journey of happiness.

Clear Your Mind with Meditation

Scientific research on the benefits of meditation reveals that cultivating mindfulness through meditative practice results in improved well-being, reduced stress and anxiety, lower levels of depression, lowered heart rate, and major changes in the brain. Each of these contributes to the ability to recognize and appreciate happiness.

Meditation practitioners say that the time involved can be brief yet effective. You don’t need to spend hours meditating to reap the benefits. Start by clearing your mind, focusing only on the sound, and feeling your breath. According to Headspace, tapping into happiness and reconnecting with your mind’s happy state is possible by meditating for happiness.

Besides, you can meditate anywhere, making meditation one of the best easy ways to ensure you are happy today.

Treat Yourself

Think of the last time you treated yourself. How did the experience make you feel? If you say delighted, fulfilled, satisfied, content, nurtured, or filled with joy, you’re onto something. That something is happiness. While generally reserved for a reward after accomplishing a goal, a treat can prove useful when you’ve put in the work and deserve a break.

And we can all resonate with that. This makes treating yourself one of the best easy ways to be happy today.

Enjoy Food That Tastes Good

Let’s start with chocolate, specifically dark chocolate. While a 2020 study found that cocoa consumption in young adults improved brain performance, research published in 2019 found a lowered risk of depressive symptoms by eating dark chocolate.

Yet good-tasting food that improves well-being and happiness goes beyond chocolate. Other happiness-inducing food includes coffee, eggs, coconut, avocado, red peppers, blueberries, red wine, beets, walnuts, salmon, black beans, honey, whole-grain bread, and seaweed.

Whatever sparks your taste buds, consider adding one or more of these good-tasting foods to your menu this week. It’s yet another of the best easy ways to ensure you are happy today.

Be With Upbeat People

Since having a positive outlook is aligned with happiness, one of the best easy ways to be happy today is to be with upbeat people. Why is this true? Verywell Mind says positive people are happy, compassionate, optimistic, helpful, humorous, upbeat, solution-oriented, and grateful.

On the other hand, negative people tend to be unhappy, unhelpful, apathetic, cynical, ungrateful, pessimistic, and serious and dwell on their problems.

Get Outside and Connect with Nature

Nature’s sights, sounds, smells, and touch sensations provide many benefits that add up to increased well-being and happiness. An American Psychological Association article points out how spending time in nature can boost cognition and improve mental health.

One key finding is that spending time outside in nature induces awe, the feeling that you’re part of something much bigger. The result: you are happier, more content, more giving. Strive for at least a couple of hours a week outside. Carve out 15-minute segments for a quick walk if that is easier, or take an hour-long hike and a few short walks during the week.

Visit a Good Friend

Isolation is not conducive to happiness, whereas spending time with a good friend helps promote happiness and an overall sense of well-being. Friendship has long been associated with good mental health and happiness, so it is no surprise that visiting a good friend can lift your mood when you need it most.

Have a Laugh or Two (Even More)

Who doesn’t love a good comedy? I enjoy watching sitcoms (especially reruns of Two and a Half Men). Furthermore, growing up, I always laughed a lot. While we didn’t own many material things, we enjoyed experiences. In short, we learned to laugh at ourselves, at life’s seeming contradictions and its many idiosyncrasies.

The science behind why laughter helps promote happiness is clear: Laughter releases endorphins in the brain, making us feel good. Laughter also helps support long-term relationships by cementing social bonds.

Give Yourself a Challenge

The satisfaction you feel when you accept a challenge and do your best to achieve the goal can easily correlate with happiness. We all feel good about ourselves when we aim beyond our comfort zone and tackle something new and difficult. Yes, it can be scary to venture into an activity with uncertain outcomes, but the exhilaration that comes with success is self-reinforcing. We feel confident going after new challenges.

Be Nice to Others

Kindness and being nice to others have a beneficial effect on happiness. Researchers in two separate studies found that practicing kindness boosts happiness and that kindness and happiness encourage each other.

Be kind to someone today. It is one of the best easy ways to ensure you are happy today.

Embrace Happiness

The final item in my best easy ways to ensure you are happy today is embracing happiness. It is good to be happy, not only because it feels wonderful but also because happiness promotes more happiness.

When you do what you love and feel happy, you want to continue to do what you love. You find additional ways to add to that ability, new ways to express your talents, and progress in your learning experiences.

Everyone deserves happiness. We all have the capacity for happiness since it is in our DNA. Call it the happiness gene. For the best easy way to be happy today, embrace happiness.

How to Make the Most of Your Strengths

We all have strengths. Yet many of us have difficulty identifying what we’re good at – much less capitalizing on our abilities to maximize them. So, how do you make the most of your strengths?

10 Tips on How to Make the Most of Your Strengths

The process is straightforward. It is also easy to do. Allow sufficient time for each step and analyze the results. Be patient and forward-looking. Remember that progress is built on a foundation of incremental layers. Think of them as building blocks.

Figure Out What You Do Best

To get started, think about your past successes. What themes or elements stand out? Is it a particular character trait that enables you to push ahead and overcome obstacles? For example, are you determined and unfazed by mistakes or less-than-stellar initial results?

Is there a specific talent you have that you’ve used with success? For example, if you write well, do you use this ability in your career? It could be a significant component of the job requirements or a talent that serves you well in various aspects of your job.

Once you identify what you do best, incorporate that strength into your life. Take writing talent as an example. Start a blog to increase your posts’ visibility and gain a greater audience. If you’re good at woodworking, you could have a side gig selling your hand-crafted products.

Become More Proficient

Suppose you always enjoyed math but haven’t capitalized on that ability. What can you do to make the most of your strengths in this area? Can you become more proficient in mathematics to secure a higher position in your company or another employer? You might consider taking a course or returning to school to obtain a degree.

What if your skills could be better in a particular strength you know you have but do not use to advantage? Again, gaining proficiency is an excellent first step. It could also be that you need to practice using that strength, and it will then work like a finely tuned engine: perfectly humming and with plenty of horsepower.

Whether it is something you once learned or know you are strong in but out of practice, or something you want to learn, by becoming more proficient, you’ll be on your way to making the most of your strengths.

Stay Up to Date

Becoming proficient is essential, but so is the tip for staying current on your strengths and skills. Without ongoing learning – through coursework, seminars, networking groups, clubs, and online classes, your talents could stagnate.

Keep up with current market trends to see how you can best use your strengths, talents, and skills to your best advantage.

Sharpen Problem-Solving Skills

Everyone runs up against a formidable challenge at some point in their career and life. This is human nature. Yet, it can be a partial stop or a severe obstacle. One game-changing tip in solving problems that get in the way of making the most of your strengths is to sharpen problem-solving skills.

Target Your Strengths for Success

What benefit do you get from identifying your strengths if all you do is let them remain unused? Or if you need to use them in pursuit of success? The ideal solution is to target what you’re good at, some trait, skill, ability, or talent to achieve your goals. Making the most of your strengths means targeting them toward a desirable success achievement.

Network to Make the Most of Your Strengths

The key to networking to make the most of your strengths is ensuring you have strategic contacts. Many opportunities to succeed come from recommendations and referrals from connections you make through networking. You gain visibility among your contacts and benefit from word-of-mouth notifications of ways to improve your strengths and take them to the next level.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

While it may be tempting to go along with things as you’ve always done, when it comes to how to make the most of your strengths, this is a no-go. It is time to take a deep breath and embrace the opportunities that come your way.

For example, your company may be expanding or just completing an acquisition. This may allow you to make effective use of your strengths. Yes, you need to be proactive and seek this role, but summoning the courage to do so is worthwhile.

Be Fearless

Success results from putting in the work. It demands the best effort, yet it does not require perfection. That’s many people’s mistaken belief, thinking they must be perfect. When you do your best, you are the best you are. When you learn more and become more proficient, you expand your experience and make the most of your strengths. To do this, be fearless.

Use Technology to Enhance Your Strengths

Technology continues to advance at a rapid pace. Many worry that artificial intelligence (AI) will render their jobs obsolete. While AI is making significant inroads in labor-intensive industries, it is also surpassing itself in research and development as one discovery zeroes in on the next in the continual progression. There is some cause for concern about AI displacing humanity, which should be monitored, and strong safeguards should be put in place to ensure a human is always in the oversight and control position.

Still, technology helps streamline mundane, repetitive, and complex tasks, freeing time for more strategic planning and implementation. Be sure to utilize the appropriate technology to make the most of your strengths.

Embrace Your Values – They’re Strengths, Too

What about your core values? These are strengths to embrace. They are at the heart of who you are and strive to be. These include honesty, loyalty, compassion, determination, commitment, courage, generosity, adaptability, dedication, and flexibility.

Remember, making the most of your strengths is essential to realizing success and achieving happiness. When you love what you do best and continue to learn and grow, you enhance your opportunities, expand your network, and feel fulfilled and productive. You maximize your ability to live a vibrant life when you make the most of your strengths.

10 Ways You Can Win Big When You Lose

win big when you lose

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Losing could be better. Like winning. Anyone who says otherwise isn’t speaking honestly. Or they’re deluding themselves. No one wants to lose, ever. Not getting the promotion you’ve worked hard for also hurts. Here are ten ways you can win big when you lose.

  1. You win big if you learn something.

If everybody loses at one time or another, the key is to profit from the experience. If all you do is complain about your bad luck or wrong timing, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Figure out what went wrong and learn from it. As long as you come away with a better understanding of what caused this failure, you’re one step ahead when doing it better the next time. Already you’ve turned a loss into the first part of a big win.

  1. Losing can spur you to renew your commitment.

How much do you want to succeed at the action or endeavor you failed? With the right mindset –wanting a successful outcome – you can rededicate yourself and renew your commitment to the goal. This is part of what it takes to develop a winning strategy and reinforce a winning mentality. It is another way to win big if you lose.

  1. After you lose, call on your strengths.

Losing isn’t pleasant in the best of times. In the worst times, losing can seem like the world is against you. Don’t fall prey to that self-defeating line of thinking. Instead, list your strengths and begin to make use of them. Some, no doubt, are strengths you haven’t used for a long time or ever.

This is the time to call on your strengths, for they will help you reinvigorate your willingness to challenge yourself to win again.

  1. Remember, you never give up.

This isn’t the first time you’ve been on the losing end of a situation. Even if this is your first recorded loss, the point is that you know it’s not in you to give up. Those little hurdles you put forth such effort to overcome and continued despite how tough it was? Those were little losses, but you remained steadfast and refused to give up.

You will win again with this can-do attitude. Keep at it, and you’ll be at the finish line before you know it.

  1. Competition makes you sharp.

If everyone had the same amount of talent and ability, the world would be a boring place. Thankfully, there’s competition. When you’re engaged competitively in the same endeavor or pursuit, seeing what others do significantly sharpens your skills, amplifies your determination and motivation, and keeps you engaged.

Do you want to succeed? Are you in it to win? Pay attention to your competition, even the competition you instill in yourself, and you’ll soon win again.

  1. You have greater compassion – because you know how losing feels.

No one likes an arrogant winner. It takes humility – losing – to realize how it feels not to succeed. Since you have lost, you now know how the other person feels. This helps make you a better person, one with compassion and empathy. When you’re in the winner’s circle again, this compassion will help keep your inflated ego at bay.

  1. You gain perspective by looking at the broader picture.

It may be tough to see past the recent loss. Yet that’s precisely what you need to do after you lose. You’ll never be motivated to continue if you can’t gain some perspective to see the broader picture. Your world isn’t a narrow confine or a box you can’t escape.

It’s wide open and waiting for you to discover. This should motivate you to keep going and recognize that this most recent loss is one step to success – and how to win big.

  1. You’re already invested.

You’ve already put significant effort into what didn’t work well. So, you’ve already invested. Therefore, it makes much sense to profit from the effort you’ve already put forth and find new ways of approaching the task, project, pursuit, or endeavor. Refresh your memory with what worked well before and modify or adapt those strategies and techniques to the job.

  1. Gain new insights by sharing experiences with your network.

What you need is a separate set of eyes and ears. By sharing your experience – the recent loss – with your network, you might learn a few things that can help you get back to winning.

Often, it’s just this type of interpersonal communication. Talking over what happened and listening to suggestions and techniques that worked for others is enough to get you back on track to winning again. That loss also won’t feel as painful when you listen to how others came back from losing.

  1. Hold on to your dreams.

In the darkest times, what keeps us going are our dreams. Remember, dearly prized dreams are nature’s way of pushing us to keep going, especially when things look the least favorable.

Your plan may take a little longer to achieve, but you’re making progress if you hold fast and take small steps toward achieving it. This is a sign that you’re a winner, even though you may have lost a thousand times before and likely will again. Hold fast to that dream, and you will achieve it.

Bottom line: The best way to win big when you lose is to use every strategy that works. Persevere until you succeed.

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10 Smart Ways to Live Free of Cancer Anxiety

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Do you, or someone you know or love, have cancer? If so, you are already keenly aware of cancer anxiety and the distress of a cancer diagnosis.

The uncertainty of prognosis, learning about treatment, and deciding whether to undergo radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or a combination of therapies is gut-wrenching. Is there a cure? How long do I have to live? What will happen to my family? Cancer anxiety can be all-consuming, but there are ways to learn how to live free of cancer anxiety.

A Personal Story

I know what cancer anxiety looks and feels like. My spouse was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer that metastasized to the brain. My eldest son braved three years with Stage IV pancreatic cancer before he died in May 2022. Putting on a cheery face and striving to be optimistic is challenging when confronted with dismal odds – and no possibility of a cure.

How did we do it? How can you? Here I’ll share what I’ve learned so that it may help you in your cancer journey. I call them 10 smart ways to live free of cancer anxiety.

10 Smart Ways to Live Free of Cancer Anxiety

Be prepared to go through many changes. Lifestyle changes will occur, along with changes in health, personality, behavior, eating and sleeping habits, desire to interact with others, participation in hobbies or sports, and more. No one diagnosed with cancer is immune to the disruption of their lives. Yet each of us is capable of – and responsible for – learning to maximize our strengths, take advantage of resources readily available, and create the best outcomes possible.

Stay On Top of Research

Billions of dollars in cancer research yield unprecedented treatments, therapies, and medication breakthroughs. There is hope for a cure for many types of cancer within the next decade. This is exciting and incredibly hopeful for anyone with cancer and their support group of family, loved ones, and friends. Thus, the best way to quell cancer anxiety is to learn what’s happening in cancer research.

The National Cancer Institute offers helpful tips for coping with cancer-related anxiety and distress. Research shows that people with cancer deal with anxiety. About half have some anxiety, while about 25 percent have a great deal of anxiety.

Sign up for newsletters to stay on top of the latest research. Some of the websites I’ve found helpful include the following:

Embrace Each Day

None of us knows how long we will live. Many don’t think about dying until they face a life-threatening disease. Once we get the diagnosis, however, all that changes. Cancer anxiety rears its ugly head. Each day becomes precious.

For that reason, make it a point to embrace each day. Look at what you can do and go out and do it. Find joy in little things.

Express Gratitude

I’m incredibly grateful to have time to spend with my spouse. I’m also thankful for my time (albeit long-distance due to COVID-19) with my son after his diagnosis. Whether you have cancer and experience cancer anxiety or you care for someone with cancer, express your gratitude for the blessings you have been given. Expressing gratitude for the kindness of others or silently to God or your Higher Being helps you as well.

Be Optimistic and Forward-Looking

Cancer breakthroughs include rigorous research into the DNA sequencing of 12,000+ tumors. A new test is now available to help diagnose one of the deadliest cancers: pancreatic cancer. Yet some of the most promising breakthroughs in cancer research include using artificial intelligence and precision oncology to improve cancer diagnosis and treatments.

What does this mean for someone with cancer today? It offers hope that new treatments and therapies can extend lives and improve quality of life. Always be optimistic. Also, look forward to continuing advancements in cancer research.

Join a Support Group

Sometimes you need a break from non-stop doctor visits, treatments, scans, getting prescriptions refilled, and travel time to accomplish these necessary errands. It can get overwhelming – for you and your family.

Sometimes you and your loved ones and family need outside help to reassure you that all is not lost and to talk with others who know what you’re going through. Consider joining a support group, either in person or online. There’s always help when you need it, even if that’s just to let you know you are not alone.

Ask for Help When You Need It

Feeling down and keeping it to yourself may seem kind. But it is not. Suffering silently and being unwilling to ask for help hurts you and those you love. It is okay to say you’d appreciate some assistance getting meals, going out for some sunshine in nature, visiting friends, going to a movie, or eating out.

Your loved ones, family members, and friends want to do what they can to bring a smile to your face and spend time with you.

Surround Yourself with Positive Friends

Remember the cartoon with Charlie Brown and the dark cloud above his head? Instead of hanging your head down and thinking gloomy thoughts, be with upbeat, positive friends. There is no better way to cheer up than to spend time with people you enjoy.

Some suggestions:

  • Have a few laughs.
  • Watch a game or movie on TV.
  • Play cards or a board game.

Check Off Your Bucket List

If you love to travel, check off places on your travel bucket list if the doctor gives the okay. While I’ve never been to Australia, it’s a destination I’ve always longed to visit. Returning to the Hawaiian Islands for a month’s stay is another trip on our list. What about you?

Besides, it’s fun to make plans to go on a vacation. And you and your loved one deserve this. You’ll find cancer anxiety melts away in the sunshine on a tropical beach or while you lose yourself wandering through ancient ruins.

Learn New Things

Is there something you want to learn but put off because you thought you wouldn’t have the energy or time to devote? For several months (more than half a year), I neglected my writing. I had no physical or mental energy left to tend to my passion at day’s end. I also felt it would take time from my loved one, who needed me so much.

What I learned, though, is that each of us must pursue what gives us joy. Even if it’s for a brief time, do what you love. You’ll feel renewed in spirit and have more to offer.

Live a Vibrant Life of Purpose

What is the secret to life? I find the greatest joy in living a vibrant life of purpose. That means doing my best each day to fulfill my dreams, being kind to others, listening more than speaking, giving back more than taking, and being grateful for all I have.

I am blessed to have talent I can share with others through my writing. Despite life’s challenges and pitfalls, I feel fortunate to have had many excellent teachers who encouraged me to pursue my dreams. This wisdom has comforted me during times of cancer anxiety.

My advice to each of you is to live your life fully. Live a vibrant life. It is the best gift you can give yourself and those you love.

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10 Smart Ways to Value Your Hard-Earned Money

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Money isn’t evil. It’s what you do with it that counts. In fact, according to recent research involving two studies, money can contribute to happiness.

That’s readily available money, not a pension, retirement accounts, or real estate funds.

Not that you shouldn’t allocate some of what you earn for either of those. You need to plan and want to invest in a home for the comfort and well-being of your family.

The Wall Street Journal interviewed Joe Gladstone, a research associate at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom and a co-author of both studies. The takeaway from the first study is that a bank balance may be more important to happiness than overall wealth. Meanwhile, the second study found that the things that you buy can result in you being happier if they are a fit for your personality.

While this all sounds great, for those of us who’ve worked hard for our money and want to spend a little of it now, not 20 years in the future.

10 smart ways to value your hard-earned money

    • What you earn is a reward for your hard work. Think of the investment you’ve made in your career, learning new skills, getting a degree or two, and pushing past failures and disappointments. The resulting financial largesse – your spending cushion or dream account – is a product of your continued effort. You deserve it. You should feel good about making it and spending it how you like.
    • Money gives you freedom. When you have money, there are many things you can do with it. This freedom of choice also means you get to do something with it that makes you happy.
    • It can’t buy love, but it can help you love what you do with it. If you are an ardent skier, having some extra cash on hand can mean you take that ski trip to the Rockies this winter instead of putting it off for another year. If you love and play music well, the money you put toward that grand piano or guitar will be music to your ears and fill your heart with happiness.
    • Since you can’t take it when you die, spending some of it now is smart. Your life insurance and named beneficiaries on pensions and other investments will ensure you care for loved ones. Still, there’s no sense in accumulating wealth and never doing anything with it while you’re alive. It’s no good to you after you die, so take some time and take some cash now to enjoy life.
    • Money helps reduce stress. If you’ve struggled to have two dimes to rub together most of your life, you know the value of having some money in the bank. Knowing you have this safety net helps reduce the stress levels that a zero-bank balance never can. You have the added benefit of knowing that some unexpected event won’t wipe you out, and you’re not living paycheck to paycheck. As stress goes down, you can pay more attention to what matters. And that might mean using some of the money you make.
    • Having some makes you less needy and vulnerable. When you’re in deficit mode, having little or no money, you tend to be dependent on others, even to the point of being needy. You’re also vulnerable when you are penniless or strapped for cash. On the other hand, having some extra money – the result of your hard work – boosts your self-confidence and makes you feel more in control of your life. That’s a great reason to feel good about the money you earn.
    • A good bank balance can help you sleep better. Tossing and turning over an inability to stay on top of financial obligations is unpleasant. Your slowly growing bank account can benefit your sleep quality and duration since that’s one less problem you must worry about.
    • Your intimate relationships may improve. Money problems and sex are two of the most significant conflict producers in personal relationships. That barrier can crumble when money is not an issue because you have enough. Besides, when you have some funds left over after paying the bills, think of what you can do to spend quality time by spending some of that cash.
    • The focus isn’t on acquiring but on enjoying. The money you make has yet another enticing aspect: It allows you to focus not on acquiring and holding onto it but on enjoying the fruits of your labor.
    • You choose when and how to spend it. It’s your money. You worked for it. Outside of tending to your obligations, what, when, and how you spend your money is entirely up to you. At least it should be. There must be some allocation, some mad money, some do-whatever-you-want-with money that’s yours.

After reading these 10 smart ways to value your hard-earned money, aren’t you feeling better already?

I’m interested in hearing how you feel about the money you make. Do you permit yourself to do something purely enjoyable with some of that cash? Do you have a bucket list you’ve earmarked to check off when you want to enjoy your hard-earned money?

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