Sunday, June 29, 2008

8 Free Ways to Enjoy Life.

View from Rastaholm by Per Ola Wiberg..(PO...or Powi)

It’s so easy to overlook the wonders and joys that surround you every day. In the rush and hurry of getting through the day, we may overlook the simple pleasures. With all the products and advertising bombarding us, you may have forgotten some of the free and easy ways to enjoy the abundance that is all around you:

  1. Look outside your window. Really look. Watch the emerald green leaves sway in the breeze under the golden rays of the sun. Watch as the fire-red cardinal flits and weaves among the tree branches, singing his happiness for all to hear. Smell the wet earthy freshness of the air after the rain. The earth is an enchanting place.
  2. Taste your food. Savor the salty sweet buttery flavor of corn; delight in the melty gooiness of a cheese and pepperoni pizza. Let the creamy silken smoothness of pudding slide down your throat. Taste the tangy sweetness of the juicy navel orange. Pay attention to your food and you’ll enjoy it even more.
  3. Discover History. From books to TV, the history of the world surrounds us. From the ancient pyramids in Giza to the glistening white expanses of the frozen Arctic, wonder and beauty are everywhere. Learning about the variety of life and culture on our planet is endlessly entertaining.
  4. Rejoice in your mobility. From your able-bodied feet to the rolling wheels on your car, you are able to go virtually anywhere. From the beaches and mountains to the community pool and local library, recreation and diversion await around every corner.
  5. Musical Madness. From the throbbing drumbeats of African and Native American drumming, to the rousing symphonies of the Beethoven and other classic composers, music is a release for mind and body. Whether dancing to your favorite hip-hop or pop tune or simply relaxing to the tranquil melodies of new age tunes, music is available any time of the day or night.
  6. Spontaneous Fun. Surprise your spouse with a romantic candlelight dinner, take your kids for a romp at the local playground, sing in the shower, dance under the moonlight, watch the sunrise, and play flashlight tag in the dark. Be playful and open to trying new things. It will add more laughter to your day.
  7. Stimulate your brain and mind. Do a jigsaw puzzle, start a card game and wager potato chips, M&Ms or whatever goodies you have in the house. Play charades or Pictionary for a boisterous, crazy night. Pull out an old favorite like Monopoly, Sorry, Yatzee, or Clue. Or try a classic children’s game you’ve never played before.
  8. Create something beautiful. Draw a picture, grow a garden, play an instrument, write a love letter, make a photo scrapbook, or build a bench with some spare wood. Use your chipped china and pots to make a mosaic table, or those extra magazines and ribbon scraps to create a one-of-a-kind greeting card.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

An Unbalanced Life.

Colorful drops by tanakawho

Many of us are trying to reach that magical place where life is a perfect balance of work and play, good and bad. Although most of us are probably making steady progress, I offer another solution: an unbalanced life.

An unbalanced life is one where we not only admit our flaws – we embrace them! All of our wacky quirks and strange habits now become our strengths. Let’s say you like making personalized Christmas cards, but you get the inspiration in July. Who cares? Go for it! There’s no real reason not to get those cards done early, and your family and friends will appreciate the time and effort you put into them; no matter what time of the year they were done.

Look for your natural rhythms. Who cares if you like to exercise at 9:00 pm at night? If you sleep soundly and can fit it into your schedule, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. Maybe you prefer to clean first thing in the morning? As long as you don’t disrupt anyone’s sleep, go for it. What if you like jazz, but your spouse likes country? That’s what MP3 players were invented for.

Instead of trying to fight our nature, we should welcome it openly. If you’re a morning person, do your hardest tasks early in the day when you have the energy. If you hate making dinner every night after work, try fixing 3-4 meals on Sunday and freezing them for the week.

Stop doing things at a certain time or a certain way just because that the way it’s always been done. Free yourself! Be creative and experiment to come up with your own schedule and preferences. Switch dinner for breakfast so you can eat your biggest meal early in the day. Barbeque in the winter and drink hot chocolate in the summer. Let go of other people’s expectations and enjoy your journey.

What quirks, oddities and eccentric behaviors do you enjoy? Feel free to share them in the comment section. Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Give In To Your Whims!

Big Fun by Ernst Moeksis

What do you do when you desperately want to do something you enjoy even though you know you have chores and responsibilities waiting? Do you give in and embrace your passion, or trudge through your to-do list grumbling and groaning all the way?

Give in to those whims! Go re-read your favorite book, dance to the music, or indulge in a favorite movie. Call a friend, go shopping for an hour or take a hot bubble bath. Give in to escape. Retreat into another world, a new environment, a change of pace. Allow yourself a few moments of pleasure doing what you love.

In return, your enjoyment will boost your energy and your mood, allowing you to complete your tasks more quickly and easily. It’s like eating your dessert first. You begin with the best part, and after fulfilling that craving, you receive a happiness high that sustains you through the not-so-fun drudgery still to do.

Of course there are times when we have too many duties and responsibilities, and they need to be done immediately. But whenever possible, we should make time for laughter, joy and entertainment. Schedule it into your day, and recognize the importance of leading a balanced life. Fun is a necessary diversion from the seriousness of life.

A whim is a playful calling of your spirit, saying “Hey, come have some fun, you’ve been cooped up too long.” You might feel an urge to sing, dance, run around outside, play a video game, or play fetch with your dog. You might build a couch cushion fortress with your son, cloud-watch with your niece, or catch lightning bugs with your 4-year old.

Whims are by nature spontaneous and playful, and if you want to stay flexible and adaptable to the changes in life, they are vital. Fun keeps you open to opportunities to fool around and be silly, which is essential if you want to keep a positive attitude in spite of life’s troubles. Light-heartedness keeps the anxieties and complications of life from overwhelming your ability to enjoy the present moment.

So go ahead and frolic in the pool for an hour, join your kids on the trampoline, have a water gun fight with your spouse. Play hide and seek, win at poker with your friends, or go to that free Friday night concert in town. When you feel good, your attitude improves and you will feel happier and more confident. There’s no time like right now.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Don’t Be a Mutant.

Today I kept thinking about a movie I saw recently “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.” In the movie, Dustin Hoffman plays Mr. Magorium, avid-shoe wearer, and owner of the fabulous, magical Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium toy store.

Natalie Portman is Molly Mahoney the manager of the store, and Zach Mills plays the wonderful character of Eric Applebaum, hat-collector extraordinaire. But the character who most captured my attention is Jason Bateman, the accountant Henry Weston, also known as “The Mutant.”

The Mutant is the typical, dull, boring business person who is so focused on work and “the job,” that he takes no time to notice anything around him, so obviously he sees nothing unusual about the store. He is plain, ordinary, and has no outstanding characteristics at all.

I find myself constantly surrounded by mutants. Those people who are so engrossed in the process of living, that they don’t take time to breathe and exist in the moment. You know them as the harried friend who talks on the cell phone while you eat succulent lobster at the restaurant. Or the mom who is so busy trying to keep the house spotless, she doesn’t have time to play dress-up with her daughters.

Be aware of the magic around you; the perfume of freshly blooming jasmine, or the soft downy feel of fluffy puppy fur. The sweet silky taste of chocolate as it melts on your tongue. The flush and rapid beat of your heart as you exercise, dance and play. And the musical melody of chirping crickets serenading the soft silvery glow of the full moon.

Beware the mutants. Protect yourself. Learn to live in the now and focus on what’s in front of you. Stretch, breathe, laugh and love. Watch the sun rise in the shades of pink, orange and purple. Turn up the radio on your favorite song, be the first to hug and the last to let go.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tips for Staying Young at Heart.

Are we having fun yet?
by Super tourist

No one likes being around a whining, complaining, stick-in-the-mud. So how do you keep time from changing you from a fun-loving, spontaneous thrill-seeker, to an angry old curmudgeon who is unhappy with life and everyone in it?

One answer is to keep the goal of staying young at heart on the top of your yearly resolutions. Happiness is not something that happens by chance, it’s something we have to work at every day. And one key to happiness is not to let the sorrows and obstacles of life drag down your body and mind.

We need to get outside our comfort zone, learn and experiment with new things, loosen up and enjoy daily delights. Here are a few tips I’ve rounded up to help keep an optimistic, big-hearted outlook in the coming years:

  • Surround yourself with loved ones. Family, friends, coworkers, pets, and anyone else who fits the bill. Staying in touch with people we love helps us feel included and appreciated. Having a friend helps keep loneliness at bay and gives us a reason to recover faster from illness.
  • Stay flexible. In both body and mind. Read, do puzzles, learn a new language or play cards. Try a new exercise or sport, anything from tai chi to basketball to juggling. Strengthen all your muscles for a strong and healthy life.
  • Be playful. Find activities you enjoy and do them often. Whether it’s riding a bike, going to the movies or joining a clown troupe. Try something you’ve always wanted to do, like learning to play the violin or taking a scuba-diving class.
  • Indulge in occasional luxuries. Have lobster at a fancy restaurant; rent the red Corvette you’ve dreamed of for your weeklong vacation. Stay at a 5-star hotel and get the massage, facial and Jacuzzi included. Or simply eat your favorite dessert or soak in a hot bath to relax. Treat yourself to things that make you happy.
  • Be silly from time to time. Go the local playground and don’t bring your kids with you. Play hide-and-go-seek with your grandkids. Watch a cartoon, go roller-skating again, hug a teddy bear and smile. Let your hair down (unless you like pigtails better) and laugh out loud.
  • Exercise. Exercise of all kinds makes our muscles stronger, helps us breath more deeply and alleviates stress. The key is to find a style you enjoy. If traditional weight lifting and aerobics don’t do anything for you, think about something else. Try a team sport like baseball, join a fossil club and hike to your destination, or add a trampoline to the backyard. Nothing keeps you young like an active and fit body.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Talk Yourself Out of a Bad Mood.

Lego space men by Gaetan Lee

Just like negative thinking can bring you down, positive self-talk can make you feel more optimistic and energetic. This works especially well if what you’re worried about is a future event, or what you fear “might” happen. For instance, I recently started a new job. After not working for two years, I was understandably nervous. “Would I do a good job? Would people like me?”

Some of the possible problems for me were; I would look foolish because I couldn’t find my way around and would get lost, or my clothes wouldn’t be nice enough because I hadn’t purchased anything new.

Instead of dwelling on negative scenarios, I started picturing positive ones: me walking in with a big smile on my face as I greeted my new boss. The poised stride I had when I walked in with my favorite, most comfortable work outfit for my first day. I could actually feel the confidence of myself in these images and they were very reassuring.

And of course everything was just fine. I didn’t have any major problems, found everything I needed to, and got along quite well with my new coworkers. By redirecting my negative thoughts, I was able to save myself hours of worry over things that didn’t even happen.

For me, the easiest thing to do was to actually speak to myself out loud. I would say, “Shirley, you’re going to be great. You are smart and capable and a fast learner. You’re really going to enjoy this job.” I find that speaking out loud paints a more vivid picture in my head. (Of course, if you need to do this for work, or public speaking, you may need to speak only in your head, unless you want some really strange looks.)

The main thing is, if you notice self-doubt rearing its ugly little head, put a stop to it. When that inner critic tells you, you can’t do it, tell her to put a sock in it! Take charge of your thinking and put an end to your worry with some positive words. If you need a little inspiration, just think of what your best friend, mother or spouse would tell you, and say it aloud.

Sometimes I even imagine that my favorite cartoon characters or movie character giving me the advice. It makes me laugh, and that breaks the spell of those pessimistic thoughts and makes me feel better instantly. Try it yourself. It might be just what you need to boost your self-esteem and get you through a tough time.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Visit a Carnival

Looking for something interesting to read? Look no further. Check out these various Blog Carnivals for some fascinating finds:

Carnival of Improving Life

Jose DeJesus MD presents How to Make Your Energy Last Through the Afternoon posted at Physician Entrepreneur.

Niharika presents Brain Power: 100 Ways to Keep Your Mind Healthy and Fit | OEDb

Spilling Buckets presents Simplicity can be Difficult posted at Spilling Buckets.

A Carnival on Relaxation Tips

Living By Design – Personal Development

Saturday, June 7, 2008

You Don’t Have To Have All The Answers.

Question! by -bast-

What a wonderful, freeing idea. As I sit here and struggle to come up with another interesting and inspiring idea, I rejoice in the thought that it’s okay if I don’t have the answers. No matter how intelligent or clever we are, we don’t need to know it all.

That insight gives us the freedom to loosen up and learn. Each blog post I type helps me put into words the things I have learned over the years. But some days I am lost and clueless. I can’t think of a single new idea or topic to share. Or so I think.

It seemed like a revelation to me that it is okay to not have a brilliant new angle on life to reveal. What a relief that I don’t have to anticipate and correctly answer every question. But how often is it that someone takes a chance and admits he or she doesn’t understand a topic or issue? No one wants to feel foolish or dim-witted.

Most of us try to avoid areas of conversation we don’t really understand. And sometimes that’s okay. But a few us may pretend to know more than we do, and we do a great disservice to ourselves. Let us not be afraid to say, “You know, I don’t much about that topic, can you tell me more?” Not only would we learn more, but it would give others a chance to shine as well.

Give yourself permission to acknowledge the things you don’t understand. No one else expects us to be experienced on all subjects and matters. It is only our own inner critic that feeds our ego and tells us we must comment on everything. We can learn more by giving others their chance to inform, enlighten, and participate. Let us no longer be afraid to be the student instead of the teacher.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone – 10 Tips.

sky dive by krismartis

Doing something that we wouldn’t usually try is a great way to stretch our minds and bodies. A new thing can be as simple as eating at a new restaurant, or as complicated as learning to play the guitar. But whether you become the next rock star or just expand your taste buds, you will be richer for the experience.

Getting out of your comfort zone is not a test to see how perfect you are at new things. In fact, I hope that you fail at first. Because failure is good for you. Learning how to cope with the frustration and disappointment of failure helps you stick to your goals even in the face of setbacks and obstacles that block your progress.

Trying a new experience may be awkward, embarrassing and even painful at times. But with each new skill you acquire you will gain knowledge, skills and resiliency to guide you in life’s unpredictable waters.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Be adventurous. Try a new roller coaster, go skydiving, hike a mountain trail, visit the go-cart track, or have a paintball competition with 10 of your friends.
  2. Try a new food. Spinach, almonds, olive oil, and zucchini, these were all foods I hated as a child. I tried them as an adult and loved it. This also encourages me to try exotic new foods I’ve never had before and give my taste buds a jolt.
  3. Join a sports team. Tennis, basketball, soccer, and golf are great to pick up anytime. There’s also surfing, skateboarding, archery, running and weightlifting.
  4. Go someplace new. Visit a history museum, go to the planetarium, see the fish at the aquarium, listen to a classical symphony, or laugh at the circus.
  5. Learn a skill. Grow roses, take dance lessons, learn French or Spanish, draw cartoons, write a book, take a comedy class, play the bongos, or start a scrapbook.
  6. Electronic genius. Learn those skills you’ve been putting off. Make a family video, email a picture slide show to a friend, figure out the music, video and picture features on your cell phone, fix your lawnmower, and find the fun of a digital (erase your mistakes) camera.
  7. Be silly. Nothing releases your fear of embarrassment like having a little child-like fun. Blow some bubbles for your dog to chase, have a water gun fight, practice your magic tricks, go to the roller rink, read some comic books, or have a hula-hoop contest.
  8. Volunteer. Nobody expects volunteers to be pros. This is a great way to learn something new. Join a clown group, help the SPCA, visit the elderly at a nursing home, or join help your favorite charity with fundraising. Check out Volunteer Match for help getting started.
  9. Treat yourself. Get your first massage, have your toenails painted, buy fresh flowers for no reason, have a fashion makeover, see a football game, go to a concert or treat yourself to a great steak dinner.
  10. Travel. Swim with the dolphins, go cave exploring, ride a dinner train, take a glass-bottom boat ride, go beach combing for shells and driftwood, or go camping and sleep under the stars. Stay at the hotel with the biggest pool or rent a sports car for your trip.