Happiness

Walking:10 Healthiest Reasons to Increase It

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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.

 

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Top 10 Easy Ways to De-Stress About Money Problems

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Photo by Aditya Das on Unsplash

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

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Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

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 Smart Ways to Live Free of Cancer Anxiety

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Rich Martello – Unsplash

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

Live a vibrant life

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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How Gratitude Can Affect Your Physical and Psychological Well-Being

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life… makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melodie Beattie

Saying thank-you and showing your appreciation does more good than you may think. This benefit accrues both to the giver and recipient. Indeed, these types of expressions and acts are powerful forms of gratitude. Yet, while it may seem normal to be verbally appreciative at certain times and with specific people, there’s much more that you can get out of gratitude at other times. Here’s a look at how gratitude can affect your physical and psychological well-being.

Gratitude Promotes Positive Mind-Sets and Reduces Stress

A 2017 study published in Scientific Reports looked at the effects of gratitude meditation and resentment and mental well-being. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and heart rate at three intervals – before, during, and after interventions – researchers suggest that gratitude interventions modulate heart rhythms in a manner that enhances mental health. Gratitude intervention, said researchers, improves both emotional regulation and self-motivation by modulating resting state functional connectivity (rsFC) in brain regions involving emotion and motivation. Furthermore, researchers pointed to the potential use of gratitude interventions in treating those with mood disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Gratitude Related to Better Sleep, Mood, Less Fatigue and Inflammation

Mills et al. (2015), in a study of patients with asymptomatic heart failure, found that an “attitude of gratitude” was related to better moods and sleep, less fatigue, reduced inflammation, and better cardiac-specific self-efficacy. Authors said this is important because depressed mood and poor sleep are both associated with a worse prognosis in heart failure patients, as well as in other cardiac condition populations. Thus, researchers said, the simple, low-cost efforts to help heart failure patients increase gratitude may have clinical value and be a potential target in treatment to improve patients’ well-being.

Gratitude Predicts Lower Depression Rates In Patients with Chronic Illness

Sirois and Wood (2017) examined longitudinal associations of gratitude to depression in two chronic illness samples, one with inflammatory bowel disease, and the other with arthritis. The study included two timepoints: completion of online survey at start of study (T1), and completion of a follow-up study at 6 months (T2). There were assessments of gratitude, depression, perceived stress, social support, illness cognitions, and disease-related variables at both time points. Study results showed that T1 gratitude was a “unique” and “significant” predictor of T2 depression in both sample groups. Authors noted that gratitude has relevance and potential benefits as an intervention for adjusting to chronic illness.

Various Elements of Well-Being Associated with Gratitude

A white paper on the science of gratitude prepared for the John Templeton Foundation by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley highlights a number of studies showing possible connections between gratitude and various elements of well-being in those with self-reported higher dispositional gratitude. These include life satisfaction, happiness, positive affect, optimism, and subjective well-being. Authors also mention studies of university students self-reporting higher-order gratitude also reporting increased life satisfaction and positive affect. Examples of higher-order gratitude include thanking God, appreciating life’s hardships, cherishing the present, thanking others, and cherishing blessings.

How Gratitude Helps Improve Mental Health

Joel Wong and Joshua Brown, writing in the Greater Good Magazine, outlined research showing how gratitude helps improve mental health. The article’s authors also provided insights from their research on what may be the origins of the psychological benefits of gratitude:

  • Gratitude shifts attention away from toxic emotions like envy and resentment.
  • The benefits of gratitude occur even without sharing written gratitude letters with intended recipients.
  • Gratitude’s benefits take some time to occur as they don’t always happen immediately following the gratitude activity.
  • Effects on the brain from gratitude activity appear to be lasting, and may train the brain to become more sensitive to gratitude experiences later, thus helping to improve mental health.

Gratitude Fosters Well-Being at End of Life

Everyone dies, although not all of them die a quick and painless death. For many people suffering terminal illness, specifically cancer, the end may be a long time coming. During that slow, inexorable approach to dying, the patient generally interfaces with a number of caregivers: family, friends, hospice and other medical and mental health professionals. Not much has been studied about what is termed positive emotional communication in caring for those at the end of their lives. However, a 2018 study published in Patient Education and Counseling found that positive emotions serve as a protective function and are “associated with enhanced coping, meaning-making, and building resilience to stressful events,” which researchers determined was especially relevant to cancer patients and their hospice caregivers. The shared positive emotions, which included expressions of gratitude, created “mutual enjoyment and social bonds.”

Appreciation or gratitude was one of the category codes for positive emotional communication between the hospice nurses, caregivers, and their cancer patients. Included in the category are counting blessings, appreciation of life circumstances, gratitude toward others, and thinking of someone. An example exchange between patient and nurse might be: “I’m so grateful for everything you do for us.”

Researchers said that the results of their study show that a focus on positive emotional communication brings a strengths-based approach to communication with patients during end-of-life care. Other category codes for positive emotional communication include humor, praise or support, positive focus, savoring or experiencing joy, connection, and perfunctory (social etiquette, etc.). Authors said that such communication can “build a sense of strength, connection, and joy despite facing loss and life-limiting illness.”

Conscious Decision to Increase Gratitude Pays Off

Making the choice to increase gratitude isn’t difficult, yet the decision to do so can and will pay off in ways not immediately seen. Think of the immense power of positive thinking, maintaining a positive attitude, and seeing life in all its richness and variety of opportunities. There’s much to be grateful for each day, from waking up to going to sleep. Being mindful of blessings, thankful for all the gifts we’ve been given, and expressing our gratitude to others costs nothing, and is an ongoing benefit.

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

Related Posts:

10 Health Benefits of Daily Exercise

10 Ways to Express Gratitude

10 Ways Nature Helps Your Well-Being

15 Ways to Increase Your Happiness

10 Tips on Reaching Your Life Goals

How to Tap Into Your Capabilities

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Happiness Is Not Automatic – You Have to Put Effort Into It

Photo by Derek Thomson on Unsplash

 

“If you think that peace and happiness are somewhere else and you run after them, you will never arrive. Only when you realize that peace and happiness are available here in this moment, will you be able to relax.” –Thich Nhat Hanh

 

There always seems to be a lot of talk about happiness. We want to know what it is, where to get it, how to make it better, last longer, how to be happy in the face of illness, pain, despite financial setbacks, lack of progress at work and so much more. While it would be nice if happiness was a vitamin you could take, or something that could be instantly transmitted via a massage, some kind words, even an injection, such is not generally the case. Indeed, the harder we search for happiness, the more likely it is that happiness will elude us. The truth is that happiness is not automatic – you have to put some effort into it.

But how?

Why Not Just Wait for Happiness?

“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” Dalai Lama

You could decide to wait for happiness to somehow come around. It’s true that lolling around sometimes feels good. It’s not a bad thing to take some time to do absolutely nothing – now and then. After all, everyone needs a little down time, a respite when they can let ideas bubble to the surface and begin to take shape, igniting creative ways to do something new. And brainstorming new ideas is its own form of self-generated happiness. It still takes determination and intent.

Yet the time to take action on those creative new ideas will not be far away and is actually necessary to getting things done.

This is also important in the pursuit of happiness. If you want to be happy, you won’t find happiness sitting on a shelf for you to pick up and own. You’ll only find your happiness as a result of what you do in life.

This doesn’t mean your profession or occupation defines your happiness, although you can be wondrously happy in your chosen career if that’s what is meaningful and purposeful in your life. Happiness springs from within, but it requires your action in order to come forth.

Does this sound complicated? It really isn’t.

Say you want a happy family, to feel comfortable and loved by those closest to you. If you do nothing to inspire and nurture warm and loving feelings from them, you might not realize the happiness you so desire. On the other hand, if you give without expectation of return, always show by your actions that you care very deeply about your family members and let them know you love them with what you say, the likelihood of experiencing a happy family increases. Taking delight in small pleasures is inherently experiencing happiness.

On the work front, if a promotion and the opportunity to lead a team is what you believe will make you happy, you’ve got some work to do in order to get there. It won’t happen by chance. And it may take longer than you’d like. But if you truly desire this goal, if you know in your heart that this will bring you happiness, put together a plan of action and get to work.

It’s worth noting that no one is happy all the time. Some people are even afraid of being happy. There are ups and downs in everyone’s life and that is something to expect. Still, the little moments, the small victories, the shared successes often signal a deep and strong feeling of contentment and happiness in life.

If you want happiness, don’t just sit there. Get out and do something to help you achieve it.

Ready to Go for It?

If you’re all fired up and ready to go, what’s holding you back? After all, if working towards something you value and want to achieve is one avenue toward happiness, why not jump in? If you have a goal in mind and a plan in place, you just need to get started, right? Not so fast. It could be you have last-minute doubts, aren’t all that motivated, or you’re worried that you won’t have enough time, energy or resources to do it right.

This is perfectly normal. You can be eager to begin something, but still have aspects of that intended activity that give you pause. You’d be foolish to disregard cautious thoughts, for those may very well be things you need to pay attention to. In your zeal to get going, you may have forgotten a key component, neglected to take a critical first step, or realized you have a conflict that will prevent you being able to devote your full effort to the task right now.

Still, you can acknowledge the doubts, reinvigorate your energy, calm your worries and remind yourself why this is important to you. That’s when you’ll summon the appropriate mindset and the will to get moving.

And none of this detracts from the happiness you feel about what you want to do. You’re not, in fact, idle. You’re doing all-important prep work. That creates a measure of satisfaction, which is a key component of happiness in the moment.

Happiness in Taking on Difficult Challenges

“I think anything is possible if you have the mindset and the will and desire to do it and put the time in.” Roger Clemens

Even with projects that seem impossibly difficult, that don’t seem to stand a chance, and may be well beyond what others believe you capable of, with the will, tenacity and hard work you’re determined to put in, you can very well succeed.

Take a moment to remind yourself of some of the incredible things you’ve accomplished in the past. Think about the challenges you faced and how you overcame them. As you do so, you’ll recall the skills you knew you had, as well as ones you discovered that you didn’t know you possessed. That memory of the joy you felt when you put your skills to work is another measure of happiness. If you face difficult challenges today, remember that what worked before may help you overcome any temporary inertia you feel now, enough so that you summon the self-confidence you know you have and pick up and get working.

Keep in mind too that there are no easy shortcuts to success. Whatever your goal, if your mind and heart and energy aren’t fully into it, you could stumble. In addition, if you’re looking for a quick result and don’t really give it your full attention, the result may be less than satisfactory. Since that’s not what you want, recognize the lazy way and adopt the proactive and more likely to succeed effort. Also recognize that you may need to embrace some negative emotions (how you felt when you made a mistake) in order to find the way toward successfully achieving your goal (and happiness).

You can be happy when tackling difficult challenges if you look forward with hope and confidence, put your plan to work, do what’s required and then some, and reap the rewards you so aptly deserve.

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

Related Posts:

10 Health Benefits of Daily Exercise

10 Ways to Express Gratitude

10 Ways Nature Helps Your Well-Being

15 Ways to Increase Your Happiness

10 Tips on Reaching Your Life Goals

How to Tap Into Your Capabilities

To automatically get my posts, sign up for my RSS feed.  

Want to get my free newsletter? Sign up here to receive uplifting messages and daily positive quotes in my Daily Thoughts. You’ll also get the top self-help articles and stories of the week from my blog and more. I also invite you to like me on Facebook, follow me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest.

 

Kindness Counts: Here’s Why

Photo from picography

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” – Dalai Lama

In my opinion, there isn’t enough attention paid to the recommendation to be kind. While we may read or hear the advice to “Be kind to yourself,” or “Be kind to others,” how many times do we take the words to heart and act accordingly? Kindness, research shows, has many benefits to both body and mind. It also makes the giver and receiver of the kindness feel better in most reports. A deeper dive into how and why kindness counts reveals the following relevant (and hopeful) points.

All Kinds of Kindness Acts Boost Happiness

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Social Psychology looked at a week’s worth of kindness activities intervention and how they affected changes in subjective happiness. In the study, researchers did a systematic review and meta-analysis to determine if performance of different types of acts of kindness resulted in differential effects on happiness. They found that kindness boosts well-being and happiness. Yet, noted researchers, rarely had other researchers done a specific comparison of kindness acts to different recipients, such as strangers or friends. In this study, researchers used a single factorial design to compare kindness acts to the following: strong social ties, weak social ties, observing kindness acts, novel self-kindness acts, and a control of no acts. Results showed increased happiness over the 7-day study period, that the number of kind acts and happiness increases had a positive correlation, and the effect did not differ across all groups in the experiment. The key takeaway is that research strongly suggests acts of kindness increase happiness to strong and weak ties, to self, and to observing acts of kindness.

Kindness Helps in Cancer Care

Those undergoing cancer treatment, as well as their families, often experience intense turmoil. Not only is there uncertainty over treatment success, worry about levels of pain, functionality and quality of life, the setting and personnel involved in cancer care may seem impersonal, not conducive to well-being or even optimistic over outcomes. In a 2017 study published in the Journal of Oncology Practice, researchers from Texas A&M University, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Henry Ford Health System, and Monash University proposed six types of kindness care for cancer patients. The six types included: deep listening; empathy for the cancer patient; generous acts of discretionary effort going well beyond what’s expected; timely care using tools and practices to reduce anxiety and stress; gentle honesty, and support for the cancer patient’s family caregivers. Researchers said these manifestations of kindness by clinicians are mutually reinforcing and can help temper cancer’s emotional toll on all concerned.

Altruistic and Strategic Kindness Both Provide Benefits

Researchers at the University of Sussex analyzed existing research on the brain scans of over 1,000 people who made kind decisions. Their findings, reported in NeuroImage, showed activity in the brain region for both those who acted with strategic kindness – kindness when there was something in it for them – as well as in those who performed kind acts altruistically, expecting nothing in return. Both gift types (altruistic and strategic) benefit others, and both, according to this research, are consistently rewarding to the giver. Furthermore, although they share many neural substrates, the decisions to give aren’t interchangeable in the brain. Altruistic kind acts, however, also sparked more activity in the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex, showing that there’s something unique about altruistic kindness. Researchers concluded that the fact “that any region is more involved in altruistic decisions suggests that there is something additive and special about giving when the only benefit is a warm glow.”

Being Kind to Your Partner Helps Improve/Stabilize Relationship

While many studies of relationships between partners look at how they deal with negative experiences rather than positive ones, researchers from the University of California found that feeling that your partner is there for you when things are going well and will actually be there when things go right is important to the health and stability of the relationship. They also found that capitalization, sharing news of positive events with close others, plays a likely central role in the formation and maintenance of a relationship. The researchers, whose work was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, said that sharing positive emotional exchanges may form the basis of a stable and satisfying relationship. In other words, be conscious of being kind and sharing good news, positive feelings, and hopes/dreams with your significant other. So, while this study focused on partnership relationships, the results seem somewhat appropriate to extrapolate to how kindness affects other close relationships as well.

WAYS KINDNESS IMPROVES WELL-BEING

Looking at things in a positive light and deciding to act in a likewise manner has many benefits to overall well-being, both for you and the recipient of your kindness. Among the many ways kindness helps in this regard are the following:

  • Kindness boosts happiness.
  • Being kind improves the body’s immune system.
  • Acting in a kind manner has been shown to lower the rate of depression.
  • Creativity gets a helpful assist when you are kind.
  • When you are kind, it may motivate you to work harder.
  • Kindness increases the brain’s natural supply of endorphins, creating the so-called “natural high.”
  • In addition, kindness produces a kind of emotional warmth, itself the by-product of the hormone oxytocin, which helps lower blood pressure and pulse rate.

Besides, wouldn’t you rather show kindness than the opposite? And, as research demonstrates, kindness is contagious. Kindness may be religion, as the Dalai Lama’s quote states, yet it’s part of the human condition, is it not? Mankind has evolved to be more than merely a survivor in the species, due perhaps to the extraordinary ability to show kindness and caring for other like beings, as well as animals, the environment, and the planet on which we exist.

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

Related Posts:

10 Ways to Express Gratitude

15 Ways to Increase Your Happiness

10 Tips on Reaching Your Life Goals

How Practicing Compassion May Help You Feel Better

How to Tap Into Your Capabilities

To automatically get my posts, sign up for my RSS feed.  

Want to get my free newsletter? Sign up here to receive uplifting messages and daily positive quotes in my Daily Thoughts. You’ll also get the top self-help articles and stories of the week from my blog and more. I also invite you to like me on Facebook, follow me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest.

 

Realistic Ways to Achieve Happiness: An Interview With Tim Bono

Photo by Michele Hohner

Photo by Michele Hohner

Every year, many people make themselves promises to engage in healthier behaviors, to jumpstart in earnest a pursuit of personal happiness. Resolutions notwithstanding, the pursuit of happiness is not only a worthwhile endeavor, it’s also life-affirming and can result in lasting change to overall well-being.

To delve deeper into realistic ways to achieve happiness, I recently spoke with Tim Bono, a psychology lecturer in Arts & Sciences who teaches courses in happiness at Washington University in St. Louis. Bono is the author of “When Likes Aren’t Enough: A Crash Course in the Science of Happiness.”

You say “life-changing” and that there’s a science to happiness. Can you explain what you mean by that?

TB: People have been interested in pursuing the good life for as long as there have been people. Over the last few decades, the field of psychology has applied the scientific method to the age-old questions around how we can increase our well-being and strengthen our psychological health. Beyond just intuition and conventional wisdom, the scientific method tests hypotheses by collecting data on large groups of people to identify the behaviors and mindsets that are most effective at increasing our happiness.

What are your top tips for making this a happier year – by doing something proactive to get a handle on personal happiness?

TB: I have a few I recommend, as follows:

  • Get outside, move around, take a walk.
  • Get more happiness for your money. Buy experiences instead of things and spend your money on others.
  • Carve out time to be happy, then give it away. Thirty minutes helping others is more rewarding and actually leaves us feeling empowered to tackle the next project, helping us feel more in control of our lives and even less pressed for time. This translates to higher levels of happiness and satisfaction.
  • Delay the positive, dispatch the negative. Anticipation itself is pleasurable, and looking forward to an enjoyable experience can make it all that much sweeter.
  • Enjoy the ride. People who focus more on process than outcome tend to remain motivated in the face of setbacks.
  • Embrace failure. How we think about failure determines whether it makes us happy or sad.
  • Sweet dreams. Get a full night’s sleep on a regular basis.
  • Strengthen your willpower muscles. Exercising willpower muscles in small, everyday behaviors strengthens our ability to stay focused at work.
  • Introduce variety into your day-to-day activities.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others.
  • Reach out and connect with someone.
  • Limit time on social media.
  • Use your phone in the way phones were originally intended.
  • Practice gratitude.

The most effective interventions in my view are gratitude, sleep, exercise, and social connection.

Are most of your tips on how to achieve happiness – like going outside for a walk – more physical than mental? That is, do you initiate the code to happiness by doing something physical? Or is it more of a balance between the two?

TB: We know there is a strong link between our psychological health and our physical health. One of the most effective ways to take care of our minds is to take care of our bodies. Physical activity releases neurotransmitters like endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, which are the brain’s natural “feel-good” chemicals. There’s also a feeling of accomplishment (what psychologists call “self-efficacy”) that comes from completing the hard work of an intense exercise or workout routine. In this way, exercise is a very important way to strengthen psychological well-being. But there are, of course, many other ways to increase happiness that aren’t predicated on physical activity. Gratitude, meditation, and prosocial behavior are chief among them and do not require physical labor of any kind.

Do different stages of life have anything to do with how easy or difficult it is to achieve happiness?

TB: On average, there doesn’t seem to be a strong relationship between age and happiness. However, there is evidence to suggest that older adults tend to be slightly happier than younger people, which could be due, in part, to a tendency to savor life more during its later stages instead of striving for the next promotion or worrying whether their career is on the right track for optimal future success. Older adults are more likely to live in there here and now, and that kind of mindfulness is important for our well-being.

What additional methods, if any, do those in recovery from addiction (alcohol, painkillers, polydrug use) and/or mental health disorder (anxiety, depression, PTSD, eating disorder) need to employ in order to get on the road toward feeling happier?

TB: One of the most important ways to recover from addiction or disorder and get back on track toward mental health is with a strong social support system. Caring people who provide a shoulder to lean on during the inevitable difficult times along the way, as well as people who are there to help you celebrate your successes, are extremely valuable on the road to recovery. When people you trust know about your goals to improve your well-being, they hold you accountable and provide support, both of which can go a long way toward making progress.

Any advice on how to deal with obstructive others – that is, those closest to you (family, loved ones, friends, even co-workers) who try to dampen your enthusiasm or are critical of your efforts to prioritize you and work on your personal happiness?

TB: As difficult as it may be, bring sympathy toward your interaction with that person. Anyone who stands to obstruct another person from improving their own happiness and well-being is likely battling their own inner demons. If someone criticizes you or otherwise attempts to derail your efforts, you might choose to acknowledge that you’ve heard them, but do not modify your behaviors to accommodate their negativity. Find friends or colleagues who support you—or better yet, want to join you in these efforts—and spend more time with them. Negative people are unavoidable in our daily lives but that does not mean that we have to allow them to dictate our behaviors. As you make progress toward your own psychological health goals, you might also consider serving as a model for those who were not initially supportive. Don’t do this to show off, but merely to show that it can be done. I’m a strong believer in the sentiment that we should be kind to unkind people—they’re the ones who need it the most.

How best to cope with disappointments? Maybe you’ve been on a great trajectory, but some unexpected glitch or problem has suddenly derailed your progress. How do you get back on track and not feel like you’ve failed?

TB: First, use failures and setbacks as learning opportunities. Like a lot of other things, failure is neither inherently positive nor is it negative, but the beliefs we hold about it make is positive or negative. As Winston Churchill once said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Maybe something didn’t turn out as we hoped or expected, but there are likely important lessons that could be gleaned from the experience, which can serve us well in the future. Plus, we are gaining more and more awareness today of how successful people have gotten to where they are, and we now see that for most it has involved a circuitous path with stumbles along the way. The most successful people will tell you that in order to achieve their success they had to learn a lot along the way. Often, a very effective way to learn where there’s still work to be done, or to figure out what needs to change in our approach, is through failure–trying things one way, identifying what doesn’t work, and then making the appropriate modifications.

Second, acknowledge that failure is important for growth. There’s other research showing that adults who had to overcome a moderate level of adversity while growing up tend to have the greatest outcomes later in life because they have had to engage their social support networks and develop the coping mechanisms that are necessary to negotiate life’s challenges. Developing these skills early on comes in handy for bouncing back from later hardships and responding to future adversity. The people who have the strongest psychological health later in life are often those who have learned how to fail. They’ve learned how to pick themselves back up after being knocked down, reflect on the experience, grow from it, and soldier on.

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

Related Posts:

10 Health Benefits of Daily Exercise

10 Ways to Express Gratitude

10 Ways Nature Helps Your Well-Being

Can You Sleep Too Much (or Too Little)?

How Your Memory Suffers With Poor REM Sleep

In Search of Better Sleep

15 Ways to Increase Your Happiness

10 Tips on Reaching Your Life Goals

How to Tap Into Your Capabilities

The Incredible Value of Dreams

To automatically get my posts, sign up for my RSS feed.  

Want to get my free newsletter? Sign up here to receive uplifting messages and daily positive quotes in my Daily Thoughts. You’ll also get the top self-help articles and stories of the week from my blog and more. I also invite you to like me on Facebook, follow me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest.