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things to do with 25 dollars

You can change your life, and the life of others, with just $25.

I’m a big fan of thinking small. I’ve written about making huge gains in productivity by thinking small; I’ve written about achieving your dreams in just one-hour-a-day; and I’ve written about creating life-changing habits by starting tiny.

In addition, you can think small when it comes to money. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need lots of money to get ahead, do good for others, or enjoy yourself. You just need $25.

Below you’ll discover 14 awesome things you can do with $25.

1. Become a Philanthropist. You don’t need to have thousands of dollars in order to become a philanthropist. Philanthropy is basically attempting to solve social problems by addressing their root cause. You can become a philanthropist by helping to eradicate poverty in developing nations with just $25.

You do this by making a $25 loan to an entrepreneur through Kiva.com. I make loans to Kiva. In my book, that makes me a philanthropist.

2. Become an Investor. Investing is something else you can start doing right away, even if you just have $25 to start with. The blog “Planting Money Seeds” has an interesting blog post on how to start investing with $25. After all, the best way to become an investor is to start educating yourself on the topic and then get out there and put some skin in the game.

3. Set Up An Emergency Fund. Even if you know next to nothing about personal finances, I’m sure that you know this: you need to set up an emergency fund. An emergency fund should contain enough money to cover at least three months worth of living expenses. The purpose of your fund is to cover all of the following:

  • Unforeseen repairs — your washing machine stops working, your car breaks down, your refrigerator goes on the fritz, and so on.
  • An unexpected job loss.
  • Anything else that might come at you from left field.

If you don’t have an emergency fund, set $25 aside right now and start one. An emergency fund with $25 in it is definitely not ideal, but it’s a start.

4. Start Saving Toward Your Dreams. Elizabeth Gilbert–author of the bestseller “Eat, Pray, Love”– explains that, for years, women would come up to her and tell her that they wanted to travel and find their true selves, like she did, but that they simply didn’t have the money to do so. Gilbert says that she didn’t know how to respond to these women.

Then, one day, a woman told her the story of her mother. Her father had walked out on the family when the woman was young, and her mother had been left alone with five kids to care for. Even though money was always tight, her mother would place $1 in an empty coffee can every single day.

She did this for twenty years, until the last kid was out of the house. Then she emptied out the coffee can. The woman’s mother bought herself a ticket on a freighter with her coffee can money, and she sailed around the world, just as she had always promised herself that she would.

Take $25 and place them in a jar or an empty coffee can. This is your dream seed money. Then, every day, add $1 to your dream stash. The going may be slow, but, if you keep it up, sooner or later you’ll have the money that you need to go after your dreams.  In the words of Gilbert: “Take whatever time you need, but make your plan, and begin today.”

5. Invest In Your Education. A great education doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars. Choose a subject that you want to know more about, such as copywriting, marketing, investing, and so on. Then, conduct a search on Amazon for the best three best books on that subject matter.

Once you’ve identified the best three books on your topic, go ahead and buy the Kindle version of each. That should set you back about $25. However, you’ll be making an investment in your education and in your future.

6. Take Someone You Admire Out For Coffee. Is there someone you would like to meet, or someone you already know whom you would like to get to know better? How about someone from the past whom you would like to reconnect with? Ask them out for coffee and a scone. All you need is $25.

You’ll be growing your network and increasing your sphere of influence, which is always a good idea.

7. Start a Web Site. Nowadays, starting a web site is incredibly cheap. I had a web site on how to stop procrastinating which cost me the following:

  • $11.48 a year for the domain name with Namecheap.com.
  • $9.95 a month for hosting with HostGator.com.

With $25 you can pay for a domain name for a whole year, as well as pay for your first month of hosting. Why would you want to start a web site? Here are some reasons:

  • To create an online portfolio of your work.
  • To share your knowledge with the rest of the world.
  • To practice your writing skills.
  • To share your life story with others.
  • To make money.

Starting a web site is easy and cheap, and it gives you a presence on the worldwide web.

8. Participate in a Kickstarter Campaign. Kickstarter is a crowd-sourced project funding platform. Here’s how it works:

  • Someone has an idea–such as a product they want to create or a documentary they want to film–, but they don’t have the money to make it happen.
  • They go on Kickstarter and ask others for the money to carry out their project.
  • People who like the project and think that it should move forward can donate money to help make the project a reality.

Visit Kickstarter.com, choose a project you like, donate $25, and transform yourself into a mini-angel investor.

9. Make a Donation to Your Favorite Blogger or Free Web Site. There are many blogs filled with valuable information which you can read for free. The only thing the blogger asks for in return for the countless hours that they spend researching and writing their blog posts are donations. You can take your $25 and donate it to your favorite blogger.

In addition, you can donate $25 to Wikipedia, Firefox, the creator of a free plugin you have installed on your blog, or any other free website that you spend lots of time using.

10. Forget About It. One of the best simple pleasures in life is “finding money”. Take $25 and put the money in the pocket of a jacket or a pair of jeans that you don’t wear often. Then, forget about it.

Sometime in the future when you put on the jacket or the pair of jeans, you’ll stick your hand in the pocket and find the cash. That’s a guaranteed instantaneous rush of happiness. It’s present you doing a little something extra for future you.

11. Save Time. You can use $25 to save time by outsourcing five of the items on your To-Do list through Fiverr. Fiverr is a marketplace for creative and business services. You pay $5 for each gig (hence the name, Fiverr). Here are some of the things you can have others do for you for $5:

  • Have someone edit and proofread your blog post.
  • Have someone design a logo for you.
  • Have someone create an infographic for you.

If you want some guidance on how to choose the best vendors on Fiverr, here’s a guide you can buy for 99 cents on Amazon: Fiverr: The Essential Buying Guide: Where Smart Buyers Find Top Talent, Write Winning Proposal and Save Tons of Time & Money.

12. Make Yourself Happier. Positive psychologists have discovered that one of the best ways to make yourself happier is by doing good for others. A great way to do good for others is by practicing random acts of kindness. Take $25 and do the following:

  • Leave spare chain in a vending machine.
  • Leave quarters in the slot of a public phone.
  • Buy some donuts and drop them off at the police station or the fire department.

Random act of kindness are fun, they don’t have to cost much, and they’re a proven way to give yourself a mood boost.

13. Give a Loved One a Gift. Take five $5, create a money bouquet, and give it someone as a birthday gift, or even as a “thought you deserved something nice” gift. Everyone loves to get money as a gift–or, at least, I know I do–and a money bouquet is a creative way to present your gift. There are lots of great tutorials on how to create money bouquets online.

14. Plan a Fun Date. Taking your significant other out on a fun date doesn’t have to be expensive. Take $25 and do the following:

  • Buy a $24 bottle of wine and a $1 lottery ticket.
  • Sit out in the yard, go up to your building’s rooftop, or sit out in the balcony.
  • Put on some background music and drink the wine while you discuss all of the great things you would do if you won the lottery with that ticket you’re holding in your hand.

Sharing your dreams is a bonding experience, and talking about your dreams might even encourage you to start taking steps to make those dreams come true. And, who knows . . . you might just win the lottery. :-)

Conclusion

A common excuse that people use for not doing the things that they want to do is, “I don’t have the money”. However, as you can see from the tips above, even $25 can go a long way. Put the money excuse to one side and start living your best life with whatever amount of money you have at your disposal right now, no matter how small it might be.

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creative project ideas

Getting stuck in the left-side of the brain is no fun. We all need to allow our right brains to express themselves.

Turn off your calculator, stop looking at those pie charts, and allow your logical, analytical brain to get some rest. It’s time to draw, write, play an instrument, and create something new.

You don’t have to be Picasso or Mozart, you simply have to create for the sake of creating. To quote Frederic Terral, “for all you frustrated right-brainers trapped in the frigid planes of your left-brain there is hope.” Below you’ll fund 20 creative project ideas–some free and some not–to reawaken your right brain:

1. Write 400 Words. Sometimes even writing 1,000 words is overly ambitious. Why not start with 400 words? Here are some ideas:

  • Write about things you love in 400 words.
  • Tell the story of your working life in 400 words or less (inspired by the magazine “400 Words” which collected super-short autobiographies).
  • Join blogger Matt Gerrard’s challenge and write 400 words a day from now until infinity.

2. Create a Collage of Your Bucket List. Start off by creating your bucket list — a list of all the things you want to see, do, and experience during your lifetime. Then, do the following:

  • Grab a stack of magazines and cut out any images that represent the items on your bucket list. You can also look for images online and print them out.
  • Glue your images on a piece of paper.
  • Decide if you want to draw on top, add little pieces of fabric, glue on some letters to spell out messages, and so on.

3. Create a Poster. Fuel your creativity by creating a poster. You can get a poster board and fill it with your favorite quotes, draw an image on it, or fill it with inspirational sayings of your own. Instead of making it by hand, you can also use Power Point, PhotoShop, or use an online poster maker.

As an example, here’s a happiness poster that I created (you can get it on Zazzle):

how to be happy poster

4. Write Flash Fiction. Flash fiction is a complete story which contains 1000 words or less. It contains the classic story elements: a protagonist meeting an obstacle, conflict (or complication), and a resolution. Here’s a great article on how to write flash fiction: Managing Story Length.

5. Write a Manifesto. A manifesto is a declaration of principles and intentions, or the views of the writer. It can be a true manifesto, such as my Freedom Manifesto”, or it can be tongue-in-cheek (for example, “The Procrastinator’s Manifesto” or “The Lazy Person’s Manifesto”). Here are some great manifestos to inspire you:

6. Write a Poem – Silverstein Style. Shel Silverstein was an American poet, cartoonist, and author of children’s books. His most famous work is a set of children’s poems collected in a book titled, Where the Sidewalk Ends. His poems are funny and silly, and each one is accompanied by a fabulous pen-and-ink drawing that further illustrates the poem’s meaning.

Read some of Shel Silverstein’s poems—lots of them are online–and then write your own poem in a similar style. Here’s one of Silverstein’s poems:

 Early Bird (from the book, “Where the Sidewalk Ends”)

“Oh, if you’re a bird, be an early bird
And catch the worm for your breakfast plate.
If you’re a bird, be an early bird—
But if you’re a worm, sleep late.”

Crowded Tub (from the book, “A Light in the Attic”)

“There are too many kids in this tub
There are too many elbows to scrub
I just washed a behind that I’m sure wasn’t mine
There are too many kids in this tub.”

7. Become An Idea Machine. In his post titled “The Ultimate Guide For Becoming An Idea Machine“, James Altucher argues that ideas are the currency of life. James recommends that you get yourself a waiter’s pad, and that you take some time to sit down every day and come up with ten ideas. These ideas can be about anything. Here are some examples:

  • Come Up With 10 Money Making Ideas
  • Come Up With Ideas For 10 Web Sites You Could Build
  • Come Up With 10 Different Ways to Solve a Problem You’re Currently Having
  • Come Up With 10 Different Ideas for Books You Could Write

By exercising your idea muscle you’ll soon be able to come up with ideas to solve any situation you may find yourself in, at the snap of your fingers.

8. Draw Zentangles. You draw Zentangles by making patterns. These patterns can be simple or complex, and they’re lots of fun and very relaxing to make. Some refer to Zentangles as artistic meditation. Here’s an example:

zentangle

9. Creative Writing Prompts. Creative writing prompts are a great way to get over writer’s block and generate new material. There are lots of great creative writing prompts online, as well as many books on the subject. Here are three to get you started:

  • You’re at a Chinese restaurant; when you open your fortune cookie the message inside says: “You’re in danger”.
  • Your protagonist suffers from amnesia.
  • A group of friends sign up for a one-week wilderness survival course in a remote setting.

10. Steal Like An Artist. Creativity is about combining existing elements, building on what others have done, and applying concepts from seemingly unrelated fields to your problem in order to come up with a solution.  In other words, to use a term coined by Austin Kleon, you have to “steal like an artist”.

One example of stealing like an artist is what Natasha Wing did. She took the popular poem “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore and adapted it to fit other holidays and important events in kids’ lives. I wrote about this here: “The Night Before Christmas and Stealing Like An Artist“.

You, too, can steal like an artist. Who are you going to steal from? :-)

11. Get Out Your Coloring Book. Coloring isn’t just for kids. The simple act of taking out a box of crayons or colored pencils and coloring in beautiful shapes nudges the right brain awake and allows creativity to flow. There’s a huge collection of coloring books for adults, including the following:

12. Plan a Harmless Prank. There’s just a little over 30 days left before April Fools Day. Start planning your prank, now. The hallmarks of a good prank are: it’s simple; it’s harmless; and it’s effective. You can use other people’s ideas, such as dipping cotton balls in chocolate, arranging them on a platter, and leaving them in a central location with a note that says, “Take One”.

However, it’s better to get your creative juices flowing and come up with your own. Remember, if the other person doesn’t laugh, it wasn’t a good prank.

13. Fill Out a Paint-By-Numbers Kit. With a paint-by-numbers kit you can feel the thrill of creating an Impressionist masterpiece, framing it, and displaying it on your wall for the world to see. You get to feel like an artist even if you’ve never taken an art class.

Like coloring books, there are paint-by-numbers kits for adults. Here are three good ones:

14. Draw a Superhero. As I wrote in my blog post, How to Become a Superhero, there are forty superhero flicks due to be released before 2020. Hop on the superhero bandwagon by learning to draw superheroes. There are lots of great tutorials on YouTube. Here’s one I like:

15. Write Your Own Version of “Keep Calm . . .”  The “Keep Calm” posters were originally produced by the British government during War World II. They were intended to raise the morale of the British public. Here’s the original poster:

Keep CalmToday, these posters are a meme.

  • Here’s one by a company that teaches meditation: “Keep Calm and Close Your Eyes”.
  • Here’s one for blogger’s: “Keep Calm and Blog On”.
  • Here’s one for productivity enthusiasts: “Keep Calm and Focus”.
  • Here’s one for Christmas: “Keep Calm and Trim the Tree”.
  • Here’s one for book lovers: “Keep Calm and Read On”.
  • Here’s mine: “Keep Calm and Live Life to the Fullest”.

You can create your own “Keep Calm” poster here.

16. Create a Newspaper Blackout Poem. Austin Kleon writes poetry by redacting newspaper articles with a permanent marker. All you need to do to copy his style is the following:

  • Grab a newspaper and a permanent marker.
  • Choose an article.
  • Take the marker and eliminate any words that you don’t need.
  • Whatever words are left after you’re done redacting make up your poem.

Go here for lots of examples.

17. Create an Altered Book. Altered books are unloved, discarded books that are turned into works of art. Take an old book you no longer want and do any of the following: fold the pages; cut the pages; color the pages; glue images on the pages; cover the pages in fabric; make pockets; and so on. Just allow your creativity to go free.

18. Make 1000 Paper Cranes. Origami is a Japanese art form which involves folding paper to create animals, birds, fish, geometric shapes, and so on. A classic origami design is the crane. Cranes are considered to be mythical creatures in Japan, and they are said to live for 1,000 years.

An ancient Japanese legend states that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane. Although there’s special origami paper, you can use any kind of paper that you have lying around to make your cranes. Even newspaper will do.

Of course, you don’t have to make 1000 cranes. You can make just one, or as many as you wish. Here’s how: How to Make a Paper Crane. In addition, you can get yourself an Origami Thousand Cranes Set

19. Create a Children’s Picture Book. Children’s picture books have all of the following characteristics: lovable characters; a great story; an important life lesson for kids; beautiful language; and fantastic drawings. Creating a picture book will put your creativity on steroids.

How do you create a children’s book? Go here and find out.

20. Draw a Dragon. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been fascinated by dragons (and gargoyles). I think they’re fun to look at. One way to get creative is by drawing dragons. Here’s a great tutorial:

Conclusion

If your right brain has laid dormant for far too long, it’s time to give it a wake-up call. Use the 20 creative project ideas above to create something that inspires you. Then, keep creating.

Live your best life by giving your right brain the opportunity to express itself.

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how to change your life

Making changes is hard. Anyone who has ever tried to change their life for the better can attest to this.

Look at the following two examples:

  • You make a firm resolution to start getting up at 6:00 a.m. each morning so that you can get some exercise in before work, but when the alarm goes off in the morning you hit the snooze button and go right back to sleep.
  • You swear off sweets for a couple of months so that you can be slim in time for swimsuit season, and then you break down at the first sight of a Triple Double Oreo.

Why is making changes so difficult? And what can we do to make it easier?

Brothers Chip and Dan Heath tackle the subject of change in their book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard. The Heath brothers explain that change is difficult because of a conflict that’s built into our brains. The conflict exists because we have two minds:

  • A Rational Mind; and
  • An Emotional Mind.

These two minds are constantly competing for control.

In “Switch”, the Heath brothers refer to the rational mind as the Rider, and they refer to the emotional mind as the Elephant. They explain that if you want to start acting differently, you need to follow a three-part framework:

  1. Direct the Rider
  2. Motivate the Elephant
  3. Shape the Path You Want to Travel On

In this post you’ll discover more about the Rider and Elephant analogy. In addition, you’ll learn one strategy for directing the rider, one strategy for motivating the elephant, and one strategy for shaping the path you want to be traveling on. That is, you’ll discover how to change your life.

The Rider and The Elephant

As was stated in the introduction, the Heath brothers use the analogy of a Rider and an Elephant in order to explain the tension that exists between the rational mind and the emotional mind.

Perched atop the Elephant, the Rider holds the reins and appears to be the one in control. However, the Rider is very small compared to the Elephant, so his control is tenuous at best. Whenever the Rider and the Elephant disagree on which way to go, the six-ton Elephant usually wins out.

The Elephant wants instant gratification, while the Rider wants to sacrifice short-term gains in order to acquire an even larger reward in the future. Look at the following:

  • The Elephant wants to go out dancing, while the Rider wants to stay in to work on creating a passive source of income.
  • The Elephant wants a cheeseburger with fries, while the Rider wants a lean protein with some veggies on the side.

The Rider can keep the Elephant on the right path for a while through the use of willpower. The problem is that willpower is limited. More often than not, the Rider’s willpower is depleted while the goal is still nowhere in sight. At that point, the Rider loses control and the Elephant wanders off the path.

That’s why you make plans to spend the night hard at work, but you end up boogying the night away at a nightclub (silently cursing the Elephant).

In order to make a change you need to enlist both your rational and your emotional minds–in other words, get the Rider and the Elephant to agree on where to go. In addition, you need to make sure that the path that leads to the change that you’re trying to make is easy to travel on. There’s more on each of these below.

Direct the Rider – Make It Clear What Needs to Be Done

Not all of the problems related to change stem from the Elephant. Sometimes, the Rider is the one who appears to be resisting change.

The Heath brothers point out that most of the time, what looks like resistance from the Rider is actually a lack of clarity. That is, the Rider isn’t sure what needs to be done in order to create the desired change. Therefore, he ends up leading the Elephant in circles.

Dan and Chip explain that there were two professors at West Virginia University who wanted to persuade people to eat a healthier diet. Their problem was that telling people to “eat a healthier diet” is very unclear. People will not act to make the desired change because they don’t know what to do.

  • Is there any particular diet they should go on?
  • Should they stop eating meat? Should they limit eating meat to the weekends?
  • What if they just try portion control?

The number of possibilities for eating healthier is limitless, and so the Rider does a lot of thinking and analyzing, but nothing gets done.

These two professors had data showing that most Americans drink milk. In addition, milk contains very high levels of saturated fat. Just by switching from whole milk to 1% milk, the average diet would immediately attain the USDA recommended levels of saturated fat.

Therefore, the vague instructions of “eat a healthier diet” turned into the following: “switch from whole milk to 1% milk”. That’s much clearer and easier to act on. But they didn’t stop there.

Most people will drink whatever milk is in their refrigerator. The key is to make the decision of selecting the 1% milk, instead of the whole milk, at the supermarket. In the end, the instructions that the professors started giving people were something like the following:

“When you’re at the grocery store, purchase 1% milk instead of whole milk”.

These instructions are crystal clear. The Rider knows what to do, and can confidently direct the Elephant. To make change, be very clear on what it is that you’re going to do.

Motivate the Elephant – Make an Emotional Appeal

When you want to make a change, it’s vital that you get the Elephant on board. After all, the Elephant is the one that’s going to be doing the work. In addition, you need the Elephant’s energy and passion. However, you can’t convince the Elephant with logic and facts.

The Elephant can “know” that something is good for you, and still not be motivated to start walking down the path toward the change that you want to make. This is because what’s important to the elephant are emotions, not logic. In order to motivate the Elephant you need to make an emotional appeal.

Here are some ways to appeal to the Elephant’s emotions:

  • Make the change visual. If you’re trying to lose weight put a photograph of yourself at your ideal weight up on your refrigerator.
  • Think of how good you felt when you were at that weight, and imagine feeling that way again.
  • Look for stories of people who have succeeded in making the change that you’re trying to make, and let those stories inspire you.

To make changes, appeal to your emotions.

Shape the Path – Craft Your Environment to Support Change

Imagine the following scenario: the Rider is trying to get the Elephant to climb up a steep, rocky path. Even if you’ve appealed to the Elephant’s emotions, for how long do you think the Elephant will remain on that difficult path? Obviously, not for long.

Now think of a path that’s on a downward slope which has been cleared of all debris. Better yet, think of a path that’s been slicked with oil; the Elephant just has to slide down the path. Isn’t it much more likely that the Elephant will stay on that path? Of course it is.

You need to set up your environment in a way that will allow you to succeed. If you’re trying to lose weight, there are many things you can do to set up your kitchen environment in a way that will help you to achieve your goal of weight loss. Here are some examples:

  • Have a bowl of fruit on the counter.
  • Throw out the cookie jar.
  • Put healthy snacks in clear containers and place them in the refrigerator at eye level so that they’re the first thing that you see when you open the fridge.
  • If you must have potato chips and other fattening snacks in the house, place them in a cupboard that’s difficult to reach.

You want to make it as easy as possible for the elephant to walk down the right path. Make changes by setting up your environment in such a way that changes are easy to make.

Conclusion

Think of a change that you want to make in your life, whether it’s modifying your eating habits, becoming an early riser, and so on. Now do the following:

  • Make your goal very specific and give yourself very clear instructions on what you’re going to do.
  • How can you make your goal emotionally appealing?
  • How can you set up your environment to help you?

Live your best life by making positive changes in your life with the strategies explained above.

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inner peace

We must each find peace from within.

When you carry peace within you, you have the ability to remain calm and joyful at all times, regardless of outside circumstances, or what life offers you at any given moment. Here are some definitions of inner peace:

  • Inner peace means being mentally and spiritually at peace.
  • Inner peace means freeing your mind from worry and negative thoughts.
  • Inner peace is a state in which the mind is quiet and serene.
  • Inner peace is having the ability to connect to the supreme self which is eternally at peace.

Inner peace may seem to be a lofty goal, but it’s a state of being that’s attainable for all of us. Below you’ll find six ways to achieve inner peace.

1. Accept What Is. Whatever is happening in the present moment, say “yes” to it. Don’t resist it; don’t struggle against it; and don’t try to argue with it. The present is already here, and it is what it is. When you struggle with the way things are now, you’re struggling with the entire universe.

No amount of arguing will change the present moment. Arguing with the way things are now just creates suffering. Instead of arguing, accept and surrender to what is. Then, ask yourself what the present moment requires of you, and do it.

2. Practice Non-judgment. There’s a TV show called “Rectify” which is about Daniel Holden, a man who spends 19 years of his life on death row for the rape and murder of his girlfriend. Then, he suddenly gets released when new evidence is uncovered which points to his innocence.

While on death row, his mother sends him books on spirituality, philosophy, and religion, and those books become his salvation. The teachings in the books show him how to cope with being on death row.

In one scene of the first episode of the show (31:20), there’s a flashback to Holden sitting on the cot in his prison cell. He can talk to the man in the cell next to his through the wall; the other prisoner’s name is Kerwin. Here’s a dialogue that transpires between the two men:

  • Kerwin: “I can’t do time the way you do it.”
  • Daniel: “I don’t do time.”
  • Kerwin: “That’s what I’m talking about. I can’t do time, by not doing time, the way you do time.”
  • Daniel: “Maybe if you didn’t judge the experience while it was happening . . .”

Both men were on death row. However, they were having very different experiences. Kerwin was angry and full of resentment because he was judging the situation he was in. Daniel, on the other hand, was calm and serene, because he wasn’t judging the situation. He was in a cell, but he wasn’t doing time.

The moment in which you start judging whatever is happening to you–and labeling it as “bad”, “unfair”, and so on–, you put yourself in a cell. You can free yourself from your self-made prison by practicing non-judgment.

3. Transform Your Addictions Into Preferences. There’s a fantastic book called “Handbook to Higher Consciousness” which was written in 1972 by Ken Keyes. I wrote about it in my post “37 Tidbits of Higher Consciousness”. In his book, Keyes indicates that you should transform your addictions into preferences.

An addiction is any desire that makes you upset or unhappy if it’s not satisfied. Here are some examples:

  • If you get upset because you ask someone for help and they refuse, then you’re addicted to having people acquiesce to your requests.
  • If you get upset because your car won’t start in the morning, then you’re addicted to having a car that’s in perfect working condition.
  • If you get upset because the grocery store is out of your favorite breakfast cereal bars, then you’re addicted to your breakfast cereal bars.

When you transform your addictions into preferences, here’s what happens:

  • If you ask your friend for help and he agrees to help you, that makes your day even better than it was.
  • However, if he refuses to help you, everything is still fine. After all, being helped by your friend is just a preference. It’s OK if he doesn’t help you.

The same applies to the car and breakfast cereal bar examples. By transforming your addictions into preferences you will no longer feel restless and unhappy if your desires are not realized. And this leads to peace of mind.

4. Teach Your Mind to Become Still. A turbulent mind cannot be at peace. We need to teach our mind to move from turbulence to tranquility. The way we do is through the practice of meditation.

You can begin to meditate by closing your eyes and focusing on your breath. Then, treat any thoughts that try to take your attention away from your breath like clouds passing through an otherwise sunny day. If you start to think of something that makes you angry or anxious, do the following:

  • Don’t try to push the thought away.
  • At the same time, don’t place your attention on it.
  • Simply allow the thought to make it’s away across the horizon of your awareness and then let it drift off.

While a mind that jumps indiscriminately from thought to thought is stressed and agitated, a mind that is still is at peace.

5. Practice Mindfulness. A mind that is at peace is in the here and now; it’s not thinking compulsively about the past and the future. You can bring your attention back to the present moment by doing the following:

  • Place your attention on the feeling of aliveness in your body: in your hands, your arms, your legs, and so on.
  • Place your attention on an object in your environment, and take a moment to really look at it.
  • Take a moment to feel gratitude for something in the present moment: the coffee you’re drinking; the comfortable chair you’re sitting on; the sweater that’s keeping you warm; and so on.

Allow your mind to find harmony with the present moment. True peace arises in the now.

6. Use Your Willpower to Choose Thoughts that Make You Feel at Peace. In his book, Love Is Letting Go of Fear, Dr. Gerald G. Jampolsky sets forth 12 lessons for creating inner peace. Lesson 11 is about willpower. When most people think of willpower, they think of the following:

  • Use your willpower to choose to eat an apple instead of a chocolate brownie.
  • Use your willpower to choose to go out for a jog, instead of sitting on the couch with the remote in one hand and a bag of chips in the other.
  • Use your willpower to choose to study instead of playing video games.

However, you can also use your willpower to choose your thoughts. That is, choose thoughts that will help you and bring you peace, instead of choosing thoughts that will hurt you. Do the following:

  • Throughout the day pay attention to your thoughts.
  • When you realize that you’re entertaining thoughts that hurt you, stop.
  • Switch over to thoughts that help you, and that make you feel at peace.

Keep telling yourself that you can always choose thoughts that will bring you inner peace.

Conclusion

Achieve inner peace by applying the six lessons above on a consistent basis. Start right now, regardless of what may be going on in your life. Live your best life by creating inner peace.

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15 minutes or less

Fifteen minutes can go a long way.

I’ve already done a post on 15 Extremely Useful Things You Can Do in 15 Minutes, so this is a sequel. I was inspired to write this sequel after reading an article by leadership coach Jason Womack in which he argues that should break up your day into 96 different 15-minute blocks.

Womack explains that a while ago he had a meeting with a client. When he arrived at the client’s office he was told by their assistant that the client was running 15 minutes late. At this point, Womack decided to try an experiment. He did the following:

  • He pulled out his Smartphone, his notebook, and his iPad.
  • Then, he tried to see how many tasks he could get done during the 15 minute wait.
  • Much to his surprise, in those 15 minutes he managed to cross nine items off of his to-do list.

This experiment led him to realize the value of 15 minutes. Here’s what Womack recommends that you do:

“Take out a piece of paper and up on top write down “If I had 15 minutes I would…” and then fill it up. Give yourself five or ten or fifteen things. When you’re suddenly surprised with an open block of time, the last thing you wanna have to do is think about what you have to do.”

Below you’ll find 14 extremely useful things you can do in 15 minutes or less for your list of things to do when you find an extra 15 minutes here and there.

1. Rejuvenate With the 5 Tibetan Rights. The 5 Tibetan Rights consist of a series of five yoga based movements–each one done 21 times–which are credited with slowing down aging, reducing stress, increasing your strength and flexibility, and many other benefits. The movements are as follows:

  • Clockwise Spin
  • Leg Raise
  • Kneeling Backbend
  • Table Top
  • Pendulum

You can do the whole routine in 15 minutes. Dr. Mehmet Oz, of Oprah fame, is a big proponent of the 5 Tibetan Rights. Here are detailed instructions on how to do the rites.

2. Spend 15 Minutes Outside. I’ve already written about the many benefits of spending time in nature. In her book, “365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids“, Rebecca Cohen explains that spending 15 minutes outside each day keeps families healthy and connected. Cohen writes the following:

“One in three children is obese. The average child spends more than thirty hours in front of television and electronics a week and gets only four to seven minutes a day of unstructured playtime outside . . .  Research shows that spending more time outside improves children’s concentration in school, lessens aggression, and improves their ability to cooperate.”

Here are three of the ideas Rebecca recommends:

  • Go outside with your kids and spend 15 minutes planning your garden.
  • Go outside and study the night sky.
  • Take a pair of binoculars with you and look for birds.

Here’s a list of 50 outdoor activities for families. The next time you have an extra 15 minutes, grab your kids and go outside.

3. Meditate. Meditating is easier than you think. Although most people equate meditation with sitting cross-legged on a mountaintop for hours on end, all you need is a comfortable chair, a quiet space, and a few minutes.

Here’s an easy ten minute guided meditation you can follow along with in order to get started:

4. Try the Scientific Seven Minute Workout. Can you really get a good workout in just seven minutes? According to the New York Times, yes, you can. The Seven Minute Workout is backed by research, and it consists of 12 exercises performed in rapid succession.

Going through all 12 exercises takes only 7 minutes, and all you need is your own body weight and a chair. Follow along with the video below (I tried it; it’s hard, but doable):

5. Make a Smoothie. A vitamin-packed smoothie is a great pick-me-up, and it only takes a few minutes to make one. Add two cups of liquid to your blender–you can use milk, fruit juice, coconut water, and so on.

Then, add about three quarters of a mug of your chosen fruit. You can try banana and berries or mango. If you like sweet smoothies, add a squeeze of honey or agave syrup. Finally, add a few ice cubes and blend away.

6. Try Rebounding. Rebounding, or jumping up and down on a mini-trampoline, is the latest fitness craze. Here are some of the many benefits of rebounding:

  • It’s a low impact workout that trims fat and tones your entire body.
  • It helps your body to detox.
  • It improves your balance and spatial awareness.
  • It’s great for the skeletal system.

Here’s a 15 minute rebounding workout you can follow along with:

7. Write for 15 Minutes. Poet and creative writing professor Katherine Black once said the following: “Write without editing in your journal for 15 minutes every day. It will change your life.” Just write whatever comes to mind–think stream of consciousness–for 15 minutes without stopping. This will do all of the following for you:

  • It will help you to find your voice.
  • It will lessen your fear of the blank page.
  • It will reveal things about yourself that you weren’t aware of.
  • It will get you into the habit of writing.
  • It allows you to tap into your subconscious.

All you need is a pen, a notebook, and 15 minutes.

8. Clean Your House. The blog lifehacker.com recommends that you automate your housecleaning by dividing your chores into tasks that take 10 minutes each to complete. Then, slip in one of the 10 minute cleaning chores whenever you have some idle time.

9. Read a Book for 15 Minutes. Here are some scary statistics:

  • Only 14 percent of adults with a grade-school education read literature in 2002.
  • 51 percent of the American population never reads a book more than 400 pages long after they complete their formal education.
  • The average American watches 32 hours of TV every week.

Now, here’s the good news:

  • If you read five books on one subject, you’ll be one of the world’s foremost authorities on that subject.
  • If you read for 15 minutes, every day, you can read 20 books in a year.

In addition, as I wrote in my post, “9 Things That Are Making You Dumber“, reading a book teaches you to focus your attention. Also, the control and mental discipline that is acquired by reading a long sequence of pages is necessary for richness of thought. So, the next time you have fifteen minutes to spare, pick up a book.

10. Cook a Healthy Meal. There are plenty of healthy recipes online which you can make in just 15 minutes. If you love to cook, save the dishes that take hours of preparation to make for the weekends. On week nights, cook a healthy meal in just 15 minutes.

11. Kick Off Your Shoes and Try Earthing. Earthing, or Grounding, consists of walking barefoot outside, or sitting on the ground. Its proponents argue that in modern city life we no longer have direct physical contact with the Earth, which means that we’re losing out on the health benefits of exchanging electrons with the surface of our planet.

Your body absorbs these electrons when you make physical contact with the ground. Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a highly respected cardiologist, says the following:

“Without a regular connection to the Earth, people can develop what I call an electron deficiency. In turn, this can lead to imbalances in the body and potentially to significant health problems. For example, chronic inflammation—which is increasingly being identified as the cause of many chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and autoimmune disorders—may be a result of a lack of connectedness.”

And the best part is, all you have to do is go outside and take off your shoes.

12. Have Some Fun. In my post, “25 Ways to Have Fun at Work“, I explain that research shows that having fun at work makes people more productive and creative. Keep some toys in your office and when you have an extra fifteen minutes, play with them.

13. Walk Down the Hall. New research shows that getting up from your desk every half an hour and walking for five minutes is even more important than going to the gym for 30 minutes a day. Limit your sitting time. When you have a few minutes to spare here and there, walk around.

14. Do Some Breathing Exercises. Dr. Andrew Weil is a Harvard-trained doctor and an author on holistic health. He argues that most people don’t know how to take full advantage of the nourishing, health-giving properties of the act of breathing. According to Dr. Weil, here are some of the many benefits of breathing correctly:

  • Lower your blood pressure.
  • Calm a racing heart.
  • Help your digestive system.
  • Center your emotions.

Here are three breathing exercises which Dr. Weil recommends.

Conclusion

Follow Womack’s advice: be prepared with a list of things that you can do in 15 minutes or less so that you can be ready when some spare or idle time presents itself. You can get started by using the 14 ideas above on extremely useful things you can do in 15 minutes or less.

Live your best life by making the most of the small pockets of time that present themselves throughout the day.

Make It Happen!

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love quotes

The month of February focuses our attention on romantic love.

It’s everywhere you look: red roses; teddy bears hugging big red hearts; heart-shaped chocolate boxes; balloons inscribed with “I love you”; paper hearts; Valentine’s Day cards; and on and on. Simply stated, February revolves around all things romantic.

one-hour-banner-largeIn honor of the month of February, here are 44 love quotes to inspire your inner romantic:

1. “Immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you.’ Mature love says ‘I need you because I love you.'” — Erich Fromm

2. “Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.” — Ann Landers

3. “Love, it is said, is blind, but love is not blind. It is an extra eye, which shows us what is most worthy of regard. To see the best is to see most clearly, and it is the lover’s privilege.” — J.M. Barrie, The Little Minister

4. “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind.” — Shakespeare

5. “For some people, ‘the point of no return’ begins at the very moment their souls become aware of each others’ existence.” – C. JoyBell C.

6. “So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s gonna be really hard. We’re gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, you and me, every day . . . ” – Nicholas Sparks

7. “I am a common man with common thoughts, and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul, and to me, this has always been enough.” — Nicholas Sparks

8. “You don’t marry someone you can live with – you marry the person who you cannot live without.” – Unknown Author

9. “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” – Lao Tzu

10. “How do you spell ‘love’?” – Piglet
“You don’t spell it . . . you feel it.” – Pooh

― A.A. Milne

11. “I love you and that’s the beginning and end of everything.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

12.  “If I know what love is, it is because of you.” — Herman Hesse

13. “If I had a flower for every time I thought of you… I could walk through my garden forever.” — Alfred Tennyson

14. “You know you’re in love when you don’t want to fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” —- Dr. Seuss

15. “We are most alive when we’re in love.” — John Updike

16. “Love is not only something you feel, it is something you do.” — David Wilkerson

17. “Love — a wildly misunderstood although highly desirable malfunction of the heart which weakens the brain, causes eyes to sparkle, cheeks to glow, blood pressure to rise and the lips to pucker.” — Author Unknown

18. “The lover is a monotheist who knows that other people worship different gods but cannot himself imagine that there could be other gods.” — Theodor Reik

19. “Who, being loved, is poor?” — Oscar Wilde

20. “Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” — Robert Heinlein

21. “Love is, above all, the gift of oneself.” — Jean Anouilh

22. “Love me and the world is mine.” — David Reed

23. “Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.” — Zora Neale Hurston

24. “We picture love as heart-shaped because we do not know the shape of the soul.” — Robert Brault

25. “Sometimes you can’t explain what you see in a person. It’s just the way they take you to a place where no one else can.” — Unknown

26. “In a sea of people, my eyes will always search for you.” — Unknown

27. “Suddenly . . . in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairytale.” — Unknown

28. “Love doesn’t need a reason. It speaks from the irrational wisdom of the heart.” — Deepak Chopra

29. “Real love stories never have endings.” — Richard Bach

30. “I have fallen in love many times . . . always with you.” — Anonymous

31. “Paradise is always where love dwells.” — Jean Paul Richter

32. “You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.” — Sam Keene

33. “I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you.” — Paulo Coehlo

34. “If I could choose between loving you and breathing I would use my last breath to say I love you.” — Anonymous

35. “Falling in love is like jumping off a really tall building. Your brain tells you it’s not a good idea, but your heart tells you, you can fly.” — Anonymous

36. “There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.” – John Steinbeck

37. “We waste time looking for the perfect lover, instead of creating the perfect love.” — Tom Robbins

38. “Love is trembling happiness.” — Khalil Gibron

39. “Every love story is beautiful, but ours is my favorite.” — Anonymous

40. “‘I love you’ means that I accept you for the person that you are, and that I do not wish to change you into someone else. It means that I will love you and stand by you even through the worst of times.It means loving you even when you’re in a bad mood, or too tired to do the things I want to do. It means loving you when you’re down, not just when you’re fun to be with. ‘I love you’ means that I know your deepest secrets and do not judge you for them, asking in return that you do not judge me for mine. It means that I care enough to fight for what we have and that I love you enough not to let go . . . ” — Anonymous

41. “Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast,
it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking.
It is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil,
but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.”

   — I Corinthians 13:4-8

42. “Soul meets soul on lovers’ lips.” — Percy Bysshe Shelley

43. “To love another person is to see the face of God..” -— Victor Hugo

44. “True love is when you put someone on a pedestal, and they fall – but you are there to catch them.” — Anonymous

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drink more water

One of the best things you can do for yourself is incredibly simple: drink more water.

Your body is about 60% water, and your brain is about 73% water. You need water to function, and you lose water every day through your breath, perspiration, urine, and bowel movements. Research shows that more than 4 in 10 Americans don’t drink enough water.

one-hour-banner-largeHere are three reasons why it’s so important to drink enough water:

  • You’ll have more energy. The first sign of dehydration is the feeling of being tired.
  • You’ll eat less: a lot of the time thirst masquerades as hunger. Drinking water will often make you realize you don’t need to eat something after all. And if you eat less, you’ll lose weight.
  • You’ll alleviate constipation and digestive problems: your body needs water to eliminate the food you digest.

And here are three more reasons why you need to make sure that you drink the amount of water that your body needs:

  • Water flushes out toxins from your body.
  • You’ll have more beautiful skin if you drink plenty of water.
  • Proper hydration keeps your joints lubricated.

To top it all off, your brain needs water. When you don’t drink enough water, your brain cells lose efficiency: it’s more difficult to focus; both your short-term and long-term memory are impaired; and your reaction time slows down.

Below you’ll discover how much water you should be drinking, and ten things you can do to drink more water so that you can meet your daily water requirements and stay properly hydrated.

How Much Water Do You Need?

How much water should you drink? You’ve probably heard the “8 x 8″ rule: drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. However, the reality is that the amount of water that a person should drink varies by individual.

How much water your body needs depends on different factors, such as the following:

  • Your gender;
  • Your size and weight;
  • The weather, and
  • Your level of physical activity.

Here are some general guidelines you can use:

  • The Institute of Medicine recommends that women consume a total of 91 ounces (that’s about 2.7 liters) per day, and that men consume about 125 ounces a day (or 3.7 liters).
  • Trent Nessler, PT, DPT, MPT–managing director of Baptist Sports Medicine in Nashville–says the following: “In general, you should try to drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh, every day.” So, if you weigh 150 pounds, that would be 75 to 150 ounces of water a day.
  • Make sure that you drink water before, during, and after a workout.
  • According to the Mayo Clinic, you’re drinking enough water if you rarely feel thirst and your urine is colorless or slightly yellow.
  • Here’s a handy calculator you can use to determine how much water you should be drinking: SOMA(it takes into account your weight and how much exercise you’re getting).
  • About.com also has a handy Hydration Calculator.

Once you’ve decide how much water you need to stay properly hydrated, set that as your daily goal. Keep in mind that 20% of your water needs typically come from the foods you eat.

In addition, drinks other than water–such as juice, tea, and even coffee–can count toward the remaining 80% of your hydration needs. However, water is almost always the best way to replace lost fluids.

Ten Ways to Drink More Water

In order to meet your daily water goal, here are ten ways to drink more water:

1. Drink Lemon Water First Thing. A great morning habit is to drink a glass of lukewarm water with lemon when you wake up.  While you sleep, your body becomes dehydrated. You’ll be jump-starting your metabolism and helping your brain to wake up by gulping down a glass of water shortly after getting out of bed.

In addition, the lemon gives flavor to the water, gives you Vitamin C, balances your pH levels, and has other benefits.

2. Keep a Water Bottle With You. Having water easily accessible makes it more likely that you’ll drink it. Choose your water bottle as carefully as you would choose a pair of sunglasses or other must-have accessory. It’s something you’ll always want to have with you.

When choosing a bottle, make sure that it’s made of glass, and not plastic, so that that there’s no risk of chemicals leaching into your drink. Lots of people love the Lifefactory glass water bottle, but there are plenty of choices available.

3. Use Rubber Bands. Once you’ve determined how much water you need to drink, use rubber bands to keep track of how much water you’re drinking. For example:

  • If your goal is to drink 100 ounces of water a day, and your water bottle holds 20 ounces, wrap five rubber bands around your water bottle in the morning.
  • Each time that you empty the bottle, take off a rubber band and refill the bottle.
  • Your goal is to take off all five rubber bands by the end of the day.

4. Set Water Triggers. Set triggers to remind you to drink water. Here are some examples:

  • Take three sips from the water fountain at work every time you walk past it.
  • Take three sips of water from your water bottle every time your phone rings.
  • Drink a glass of water just before you start getting dressed for a workout.
  • Drink a glass of water as soon as you get back from a workout.
  • If you’re watching television, take a drink of water each time a commercial comes on.

5. Set Alarms.  When you’re very busy you may need a hydration nudge. Use the alarm that comes with your cell phone and set several alerts–set one or two hours apart–that will remind you to drink water. Each time the alarm goes off, get up, stretch, and drink a glass of water.

6. There’s An App for That. If you keep forgetting to stay hydrated, turn to your iPhone for help. Download a free app like Hydro or Waterlogged. These apps will remind you when you need to drink water, and they’ll help you keep track of how much water you’re taking in.

7. Make Infused Water. If plain water bores you, try infused water. The easiest way to infuse your water is by adding a few slices of cucumber to a pitcher of water. However, there are many different fruits, vegetables, and herbs you can add to your water to make it more interesting. As an added bonus, you’ll feel like you’re at a spa.

8. Get a Water Filter. Some people don’t like the taste of tap water, which could become an obstacle when they’ve set the goal to drink more water. If this is you, get a water filter. Water filters can provide a better tasting and better smelling drinking water.

9. Gamify Your Water Intake. Everything is easier if you turn it into a  game. Create a water card which allows you to keep track of how much water you’re getting, and give yourself points each time that you drink a glass of water. Give yourself a reward at the end of the week if you meet your water goal for the week.

You can even get some friends to play with you and compete to see who reaches their water goal and who doesn’t.

10. Take A 21-Day Water Challenge.  Give yourself the challenge of staying properly hydrated for 21 days. At the end of the 21 days record how you feel. Chances are you’ll have more energy, have an easier time concentrating, and be in a better mood, and you’ll be hooked on water for the rest of your life.

Conclusion

Like everything else in life, don’t overdo it. There is such a thing as drinking too much water (but most people don’t need to worry about this).

Are you drinking enough water? If not, use the tips above to start giving your body the hydration it needs. One very simple way to live your best life is by drinking more water. How do you make sure that you get all of the water that you need?

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morning habits

How you start your morning sets the tone for the rest of the day.

You can start your day by hitting the snooze button, dragging yourself out of bed at the last minute, rushing to get ready, and then running out the door with a doughnut in one hand and your briefcase in the other. Or, you can start your day with good morning habits. I recommend the latter.

one-hour-banner-largeBelow you’ll find nine morning habits to start the day right.

1. Wake Up Early. Early risers reap many benefits. Some of these benefits include the following:

  • Being able to go through your morning routine in a calm and leisurely manner instead of running around like a chicken with its head cut off being rushed.
  • Having time for introspection and getting yourself in the right frame of mind.
  • The quiet morning hours are a great time to get things done.
  • You can get an early start on your goals, such as getting daily exercise or tackling a 30-day challenge.

Waking up early will also allow you to practice the eight habits explained below, which will help you to start your day in high spirits, ready to tackle anything that life throws at you throughout the day.

2. Smile and Think Something Positive. As soon as you wake up, smile. Scientists have discovered that smiling does all of the following for you:

  • When you smile your body releases the feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine and endorphins. This means that by smiling first thing when you wake up you’ll be starting your day in a better mood.
  • In addition, when you smile your mood is further lifted by the release of serotonin.
  • Smiling strengthens the immune system, so by smiling first thing in the morning and remembering to do it throughout the day you’ll be warding off disease, specially during flu season.

If you have trouble getting yourself to smile in the morning, force yourself: even a forced smile has benefits.

In addition, say something like the following to yourself when you wake up (say it out loud or just say it silently in your head):

  • “Every day, think as you wake up: today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.” – Dalai Lama
  • “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

Lastly, ask yourself these two questions:

  • What am I grateful for today?
  • What am I looking forward to today?

3. Make Your Bed. Get up and make your bed. Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project”, indicates that a simple way to be happier is to make your bed every morning. By taking this small step to create outer order, you create inner calm. It’s something small and doable which gets your day started off right.

In addition, Naval Adm. William McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, said the following about making your bed in his commencement address at the University of Texas at Austin:

“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.

If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”

4. Brush Your Teeth and Scrape Your Tongue. Most people were taught to brush their teeth after having breakfast. However, it’s healthier to brush your teeth as soon as you wake up. Plaque—which is a film of bacteria–builds in your mouth while you sleep. You should remove this plaque buildup by brushing as soon as you wake up.

Also, brushing coats the teeth with a protective layer of fluoride to guard against the sugars and acids introduced in the mouth at breakfast.

In addition to brushing your teeth, you should also scrape your tongue. Here are five reasons why:

  • Fresh Breath – Most bad breath comes from the bacteria at the back of the tongue.
  • Better Tasting Food – By scraping your tongue you remove mucus which can block your taste buds.
  • Boost Immunity – Scraping your tongue prevents toxins from being reabsorbed into your body.
  • Healthier Teeth – The process of scraping your tongue promotes general tooth and gum health.

Then, after you’ve eaten your breakfast, rinse with a fluoride mouthwash.

5. Drink Warm Water With Lemon. After brushing your teeth drink a tall glass of lukewarm water with half a lemon–or one whole lemon–squeezed in it. This is an easy health tip which will do all of the following for you:

  • Lemon water cleanses and stimulates the liver and kidneys.
  • Lemons have lots of Vitamin C, which helps to protect you from catching a cold.
  • Drinking lemon water alkalizes the body — when the body does not have sufficient alkalizing substances and is overly acidic, it takes these substances from the bones or vital tissues.
  • The antioxidant properties of lemons help combat free radical damage, which keeps your skin looking young and healthy.

I use a straw to drink my water with lemon in the morning in order to protect the enamel on my teeth from the acid in the lemon.

6. Do a Stretching Routine. Performing a morning stretching routine will help you to loosen your muscles after sleeping, while increasing blood flow to your muscles. Taking ten minutes to do a few yoga poses will allow you to connect your mind, body, and breath in preparation for the day that’s ahead.

7. Meditate. Start your day with stillness by meditating in the morning. Meditating does everything from improving your focus to reducing stress, improving emotional stability, and preventing common health ailments. You can start simply by focusing on your breath for three minutes each morning, and build from there.

Do the following:

  • Sit in a comfortable position.
  • Close your eyes and focus on your breath.
  • Inhale for 4 counts, retain for 4 counts, and exhale for 8.
  • Every time you feel your mind wandering, bring it back to your breath.
  • Do this for three minutes.

8. Eat a Healthy Breakfast. You’ve already heard this a thousand times, but I’m going to say it again: breakfast in the most important meal of the day. A healthy breakfast consists of lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats. You’ll gain all of the following benefits from eating a healthy breakfast:

  • You’ll be less hungry throughout the day.
  • You’ll have better focus and concentration.
  • Skipping breakfast is tied to being overweight.
  • You’ll have more energy.

9. Create Something. Before you start taking in information–reading emails, listening to the news, attending meetings, and so on–create something. This can be anything: write a blog post; draw something; create an info-graphic; record a video; write a chapter of your novel; and so on.

Start you day in creativity-mode.

Conclusion

Your morning habits can make or break your day. The nine habits explained above are guaranteed to get your day started off right. Live your best life by creating good morning habits.

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Look at the following quotes and tell me they don’t motivate you to become an early riser:

  • “It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.” — Aristotle
  • “The time just before dawn contains the most energy of all hours of the day. This has helped me become an early riser and an early doer . . . When I wake to see that it’s light out already, I feel the world has started without me.” — Terri Guillemets
  • “The early morning has gold in its mouth.” – Benjamin Franklin

Are you ready to commit to becoming an early riser? If so, this post will help you get started. Below you’ll discover seven things to stop doing to become an early riser.

1. Stop Mindlessly Watching TV Late At Night. Obviously, if you stay up late watching TV you’ll have a tough time getting up the next morning. And, let’s face it, it’s easy to zone out in front of the TV and let yourself binge watch your favorite TV shows late at night (I’m currently being tempted by “Sons of Anarchy”).

With the new season of “House of Cards” being released soon, it’s more important than ever to set limits on your TV time. To stop mindlessly watching TV late at night, establish a specific window of time during which you’ll allow yourself to watch TV, and limit your viewing time to that window. This probably means the following:

  • You’re going to have to be more selective when it comes to choosing which TV shows you’re going to follow. Just follow the shows you truly love.
  • In addition, you’ll have to force yourself to wait for the resolution of the cliff hanger of your favorite shows until the next day, even if the next episode of the show is already available (tough, I know).

Follow this same strategy if your late night addiction is playing video games, playing games on Facebook, or even reading vampire novels.

2. Stop Working Late at Night. A lot of people tell themselves that they’re most productive at night, and that they have their best ideas at 3:00 a.m. If you fall into this category, your late-night work habit is probably the major obstacle that you’re facing on your journey to becoming an early riser.

One strategy you can try is to give yourself a 9:00 a.m. challenge. The challenge is to spend 90 minutes working on your most important task of the day before 9:00 a.m. This challenge does two things for you:

  • It gives you a deadline. Procrastinators are often productive at night because they’re being pushed by the deadline of having to finish their task for the day before they’re too tired to work any longer. They can use this same strategy for being productive in the morning by setting a 9:00 a.m. deadline for their most important task.
  • In addition, it’s very likely that by taking this challenge you’ll discover that—like most people–you’re more productive in the mornings rather than late at night.

3. Stop Sitting In Front of Your Computer Until Your Bedtime. You should turn off your computer and all electronic devices in the hours before your bedtime. The artificial light that electronic devices emit—which is called blue light–keeps you alert and suppresses the body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep.

Aim to turn off all of your electronic devices two hours before bedtime. If you simply have to use your smartphone, tablet or computer close to your bedtime, try doing the following:

  • Turn down the brightness, ensuring that the device is at least 12 inches from your eyes.
  • Use an app that dims the lighting on your screen at night. One option is f.lux.
  • Use amber-tinted glasses that block blue light.

4. Stop Drinking Caffeine After Noon. Caffeine is a stimulant, and it disrupts sleep. A study conducted by researchers at Michigan’s Henry Ford Hospital’s Sleep Disorders & Research Center and Wayne State College of Medicine sheds some light on the time at which you need to stop drinking caffeine in order to get a good night’s sleep.

The researchers found that caffeine consumed 6 hours before bed reduced total nightly sleep amounts by more than 1 hour. That is, even if you fall asleep at the time you want to after having consumed caffeine in the afternoon, the quality of your sleep will be affected. To avoid sleep disruption, do the following:

  • Stick to a 2 o’clock cut off. Drinking caffeine can be a good thing. It can give you energy and make you more alert. However, you should drink caffeine at the right time. Try to restrict your caffeine consumption to the morning hours. If you do have a midday cup of coffee, drink it before 2 p.m.
  • Ease up on the caffeine as the morning progresses. Start the day with your most highly caffeinated beverage and ease up on the caffeine as the morning goes on. For example, have a strong cup of coffee in the morning but then have tea for your mid-morning coffee break.

5. Stop Relying on Willpower Alone. When you rely on willpower, which is a limited resource, you’re pushing yourself to carry out a specific action. However, when there’s something that you really want to do, intrinsic motivation will help you to carry out the task. And there’s no shortage of intrinsic motivation.

If you don’t have something to look forward to as soon as you wake up in the morning, only sheer willpower will get you out of bed. However, scheduling something you look forward to early in the morning will practically pull you out of bed. Here are some things you can consider doing first thing when you wake up to make sure that you’ll be bounding out of bed:

  • Have everything you need on hand to prepare your favorite breakfast (delicious food will get me out of bed any day).
  • Enroll in an early exercise class that you love, such as Zumba or a hula hoop class.
  • Schedule your favorite activity in the early morning, such as writing, drawing, or going out to walk in the countryside and take photos.
  • Work on a passion project first thing.

6. Stop Trying to Force Yourself to Go to Sleep at the Same Time Every Night. You should definitely aim to be ready for bed by the same time every night. However, don’t go to bed until you’re sleepy. If you’re waking up at the same time every morning, the time at which you start to get drowsy at night will vary depending on how tired you are that day. Look at the following:

  • On days in which you had more to do than usual, or if you didn’t sleep well the night before, you’ll naturally want to go to sleep earlier at night.
  • On days in which you’re less tired you’ll naturally want to go to sleep later at night.

To sum up: get up at the same time every day, and be ready to retire at the same time every night, but don’t go to bed until you’re tired.

7. Stop Hitting the Snooze Button. Everything that’s been explained so far is simply preparation for the key moment in becoming an early riser: the moment in which your alarm rings. What do you do when your alarm goes off? Do you get up immediately, or do you hit the snooze button and stay in bed?

If you hit the snooze button you’re not only missing your target wake-up time, you’re also restarting your sleep cycle. This means that when the alarm goes off a second time it’s very likely that you’ll be at an earlier and deeper part of your sleep cycle, which will make it even more difficult for you to get up.

Here are some strategies you can use to stop hitting the snooze button:

  • Put your alarm on the other side of the room so that you have to get out of bed to turn it off. An alternative is to put one alarm next to your bed, and another, louder alarm that will ring a minute later across the room.
  • Set your coffee maker to start brewing your coffee just before your alarm rings so that you wake up to the smell of coffee. The arousing aroma of coffee will activate your brain and help you wake up.
  • Get an alarm that forces you to do something, such as an Android alarm that makes you get up and scan an item so that it will turn off. There’s also an iPhone alarm that makes you do math.
  • Use an outlet timer for your lamp so that you have light shining in your face right when you wake up.

Conclusion

In order to become an early riser, stop doing the things which prevent you from getting up early in the morning. That is, stop doing the seven things explained above. Live your best life by becoming an early riser.

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The New Year is filled with promise. Most people would recognize the following phrases:

  • “This is the year I’m finally going to write my novel.”
  • “This is the year I’ll stop smoking.”
  • “This is the year I’m going to get into the best shape of my life.”
  • “This is the year I’m getting organized.”

Whatever your New Year Resolutions may be for 2015, here are 100 blog posts to help you achieve them:

1. Stop Procrastinating

2. Be More Productive

3. Make Better Use of Your Time

4. Keep a Journal

5. Get Richer

6. Cross a Few Items Off of Your Bucket List

7. Have More Fun, Go On More Adventures

8. Achieve Inner Peace

9. Become a Better Person

10. Be Happier

11. Be More Creative

12. Write a Novel

13. Find Work You Love

14. Increase Your Willpower

15. Increase Your Self-Esteem

16. Increase Your Motivation

17. Travel

18. Be Healthier and Get Fit

19. Be Smarter

20. Get Organized

21. Build New Habits

Conclusion

Start living your best life in 2015 by setting New Year Resolutions and creating a plan for achieving them. The 100 blog posts above are a great place to start (if I do say so myself). Have a great 2015!

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