Ready to Take Control Of Your Happiness?

Ready to Take Control Of Your Happiness?

“What makes you happy?” Should be an easy question. But as many of us know, it’s not always that straightforward. Sometimes when we’re down, we’re not sure how to get back up. If you feel like you’re not as happy as you should be, and you’re looking for ways to be happier, we’ve got some ideas to help put a smile on your face. 

Be Generous

When you ask yourself, “How can I be happier?” you might assume the answer is about what you can do for you. However, when outlining his 10 tips for happiness, Pope Francis listed “Be giving of yourself to others” as number 2. Giving of your time and efforts for the benefit of others has a weird way of making you feel good.

Turn Off

Falling into the habit of being busy all the time leads to stress and fatigue. When we are constantly on the go, we don’t give ourselves time to decompress. “Have a habit of disengagement.” says Joel Gascoigne, CEO of Buffer. Everyday Joel goes for a walk in the evening to clear his mind and reboot. This gives him the time to work through things and find solutions to the day’s problems.

Surround Yourself with Positive People

Moods and attitudes have a way of rubbing off on those around them. If you find yourself in the company of people who are often negative and ornery, chances are you’ll slip in to the same mood. The same is true for surrounding yourself with happier, positive people. If you’re around happy people, slowly you find you can’t help but smile.

Get Some Sleep

Over at, they’ve taken a scientific look at how sleep affects your happiness. If you’re tired, remembering happy things is actually more difficult than remembering negative things. Being rested also helps with productivity and will improve your reaction to negative emotions.

Drink Water

Hydration is important. You’re about 60% water and maintaining your hydration is essential for a variety of reasons. Water carries nutrients and detoxifies the body. Drinking the right amount of water per day (about 8 glasses) keeps you from getting too irritable and helps you stay mentally alert. 


If you take time to focus on your day-to-day well being and happiness, you’ll find it’s easier to be happier overall.


Why You Need To Take A Break

Why You Need To Take A Break


Part of the problem with our modern always-on society is that in the middle of all that go-go-go we’ve kind of forgotten what it’s like to stop-stop-stop. You have your weekend, but do you REALLY have your weekend? Or does work follow you home? Keep you up at night, plague your weekends, make you feel guilty for taking a vacation?


Here’s why we think you need to remember to give time off the respect it deserves.


Avoid burnout

Getting burnt out is a much bigger problem than people give it credit for. Creativity isn’t just for musicians and painters it’s something that benefits people in all fields. It is a fantastic and helpful asset. But creativity needs space to grow. If you are always thinking about work, you burn yourself out and you leave no room for creativity to flourish. The only time you’ll have great original thoughts and escape the grind is during the time you give yourself off the grind.



So give yourself that time. Leave your phone off sometimes. Go outside for nice long walks. Spend time reading books, or with friends, without any kind of electronics. Discover the pleasures of pursuing a hobby like art or music. See how that affects your burnout.


By allowing yourself to follow things that aren’t directly tied to your work, you will become a more creative, efficient, and effective worker.


The counter-intuitive nature of making sure you get your rest is why a lot of people miss out on their stop time, and settle for a life that isn’t only unhappy, but also not very productive at all.


Don’t fall into the trap! When you have time off, HAVE TIME OFF.


Pay Off Your Credit Card With These Five Steps

If you’ve been out of work for a while and you’ve been living off credit you might have accumulated some debt. Once you start making money again and are ready to pay it off don’t fall into the trap of paying the minimum month after month, while you put money toward other things.


With interest rates of 15%, 19%, 22% all the money you don’t put directly toward that card is adding to your interest payments.  Essentially you throwing money out the window. Money you could be putting toward something useful.


If you don’t have a plan for paying off that credit card debt then essentially you are simply hoping you’ll be able to pay it off.


Stop hoping and start take control of that debt. Here are five steps to do it!


5 Steps to Pay Off Credit Card Debt Fast

Stay Mindful To Keep Things In Perspective

Stay Mindful To Keep Things In Perspective

Some days are smooth and easy. Your ride to work is uneventful. You manage to get what you want done. The evening is pleasant time with friends or loved ones.


Other days it’s like someone packed in so many annoyances you feel like you can’t help but come apart at the seams. You might want to rail loud and angry against the jerk that cut you off on the highway. Scream your head off about the co-worker who got credit for your work. Tear down the receptionist who changed your doctor’s appointment without telling you. No matter what situation has gotten under your skin it’s better to deal with it from a place of calm.


Regular meditation is the great equalizer in life. If you are a regular meditator (good for you) you are already ahead of the game when it comes to dealing with daily stresses. Even if you don’t manage to meditate on a regular basis there are still things you can do in the moment to quickly drag yourself back from the edge.


Create a focal point

The hardest part about meditation for most people is the inability to settle the mind. Our thoughts are like Mexican jumping beans bouncing around all over the place against the express demands of our brains. When you need to settle your thoughts find something in your sight line to focus your attention on. Breathe deeply and just keep focusing on that one thing. Use it as an anchor to hold you in place until you can find a place of calm again.


Find compassion for yourself

Self-compassion means remembering you are a worthy, significant person, deserving of the good things this world has to offer. Flying off the handle in the moment often feels good in the moment, but it’s usually followed by self-recrimination. Along with thoughts like I wish I’d handled that differently or I should never had said that.


By beating yourself to the punch with a little self-compassion you can give your better self the chance to take over from your thoughtless self.


When you feel like lashing out stop and do a quick self-check. Notice your breathing. Take note of your heart rate. Recognize the fight emotion surging in the fight or flight reaction  – and breathe it out. Remind yourself of better ways you’ve dealt with similar situations in the past. Center yourself, find the person who handles things well hidden behind the angry one and bring them to the forefront.

Remind yourself of the long view

The moment we are currently inhabiting always seems huge because it’s the one we’re in. But every moment is tamed down to size with time. If you find yourself in a moment of fury or hurt or fear, take the time to put it into perspective. How much will this moment matter in a day? How about a week? Or a year? Is it worth losing your cool over something you won’t even remember next week? If not then remember you’re going to calm down anyway so you might as well start now!

How Stress Affects the Brain

How Stress Affects the Brain

Stress is good in small doses. It’s important too. In short bursts a stress response saved our ancestors from the threat of predators. For example, the stress response elicited by the sight of a lion walking toward you in the jungle was a good thing. The increased heart rate, the hyped up muscle response, got you out of the person killer’s vicinity pretty quickly.


In times of stress all your energy gets diverted to your brain and muscles, and to help prepare the body for action, the stress hormone cortisol is released. Ideally a stress response should be a message for you to change something. For instance if you smell smoke in the building you’ll want to run out of there. Smoke! Stress response – run!


But what if you find yourself living with a prolonged stress response? If circumstances have left you stressed out on a daily basis, creating the latent smell of smoke in every room of your house that you can’t seem to get rid of? Someone looking for a job, or between jobs could find themselves living with a degree of prolonged stress. Being stressed out is not the optimum attitude to have while on the job hunt.


Physical responses to stress

The body is not meant to maintain a constant state of alert. If such a state persists, the immune system starts to decline. Signals to the brain get muddled, learning and memory suffer, but that’s not even the worst of it. Long term stress and increased cortisol levels can kill off brain cells and make your brain smaller! Judgment, the ability to make decisions also shrink and the risk for depression increases.

Using exercise and meditation to mitigate stress

Although it may not be possible to completely eliminate stressful situations from your life, mindful meditation and exercise can be very helpful in counterbalancing the stress.


Mindful meditation means keeping your awareness in the present moment, not letting it wander to either past or future circumstances – presumably the cause of your stress. If you can focus only on what you are doing at the given moment the stress will have nothing to cling to (hopefully).


Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean getting yourself to the gym. It can mean getting out for a walk or a bike ride, a yoga class, a swim. Something to move your body and get you out of your head.


Exercise and meditation don’t just help you cope with the stress, they can actually help reverse the effects.


Of course, the best way to deal with stress, and save your brain from shrinking in the first place, is to identify the factors that set you off and deal with them before you feel like you’re living in a house full of smoke! If your stress is job hunt related, make yourself a plan for everyday and follow it. Ensure you’re more concerned with doing than with worrying. Stay in the moment while you’re on task, then take time to get up and move in between!


There are just about as many ways to de-stress as there are to stress. Here are over a hundred more from Health Grinder

Make The Most of Your Vacation Time With The Least Amount of Money

Make The Most of Your Vacation Time With The Least Amount of Money

All of us have dream vacations we’d one day like to take. Mine include Rome with all those stunning fountains, Egypt and her mystical pyramids, the utterly unique Galapagos islands. I cannot currently afford any of those vacations. In the meantime, does that mean I need to settle for staycations with my limited means,? No way! With a little planning and alternative thinking it’s possible to take fun, interesting vacations on a restricted budget.


Sometimes the when is as important as the where

Set your alarms everyone, because according to Skyscanner the best time to book a flight is 5 am! Further to that, the best time to book flights for domestic trips is 2 – 3 weeks in advance. The best time to book international journeys is 5 – 6 months in advance. The least expensive month to book those flights is January (with an average round trip flight of about $500). February comes next then leapfrog all the way over to August. While you’re planning, plan to book your domestic flight on a Tuesday and your international flight on a Wednesday to enjoy the most savings.


Accommodation alternatives

Last year I went to Costa Rica with my daughter – which is why I’m on a limited vacation allowance now! Following a few convincing words from my daughter, one of the things we did to save money was stay in a hostel. Old enough to have a twenty-four-year-old daughter, I’d never stayed in a hostel before, thinking they were for backpackers and twenty-four year olds. To be sure there were many of those, but to my surprise there were also all kinds of people my own age. Some traveling with their own kids, some on their own. Although we stayed in a room with 5 other people there were options for semi-private and private rooms. The hostel was spacious and clean and very friendly. It cost us about $25 a night and was an experience I would definitely repeat.


If hostels are absolutely not your thing you can still score significant savings through sites like Airbnb and HomeAway.


There’s also Glamping – which you can think of as luxury camping or glamorous camping across locations around the globe. Or Canopy and Stars a collection of unique, creative places to stay in the great and grand outdoors.



You could take a taxi when you travel and pump your money into someone else’s pocket or you could get friendly with the bus and subway schedules in the area. Or if distances aren’t too daunting you could put your legs to work either as locomotion on their own or as peddle manipulators.


If you do need to rent a car follow these tips from tripsavvy and:

Book early

Comparison shop

Reserve the smallest car possible

Compare daily and weekly rates

Use non-airport facilities

Ask for a discount



By carrying your own water bottle and filing it up as you go, not only are you helping save the world from more plastic refuse you’re also saving significant amounts of money. Speaking of water, choose nature’s thirst quencher as your beverage of choice and put the savings toward other aspects of your vacation. Extra night in the hostel anyone?


Enjoy the freebees

No matter where you travel there are all kinds of things you can do for free. In the article about free things to do on vacation from Wise Bread they mention that many museums around the world offer free admission, and for the ones that don’t they often have a day when admission is free. Plan in advance and explore world treasures without paying a cent.


Walking tours are also a great way to see any city and often those are offered for free.


One other thing, don’t forget about Google. Type free things to do in X and go to town!


Become your own tour guide

Get yourself a tour book before you go and familiarize yourself with your destination then become your own tour guide. For instance, when I finally do get to Rome I could book a 60 euro tour to see the coliseum or I could prepare in advance and get in with 12 euros and create my own experience.


Moving From Planning to Doing

Moving From Planning to Doing

Sometimes things are going gangbusters. You and your goals are a hive of activity, you are learning, expanding, planning for the future. And then sometimes that planning trips a pause button and you end up stuck in a room where you can’t seem to find a way out.


Maybe you’re planning on ways to get a new idea you have off the ground, or you’re working on getting a promotion, or figuring out how to get this book you’ve written published. The planning takes over more and more of your mindspace. and then without realizing it, the doing has taken a back seat to planning. Or worse your plans have gotten too big for their britches. Instead of being something you’re looking forward to, this thing you’re planning feels overwhelming. Then you get stuck.


Small movements lead to big movements

Not everyone is trying to get a new idea off the ground, but just about everyone has faced big plans that never went much further than great intentions. For instance, lets say you plan on getting in shape. You don’t want to just get in shape you want to become strong. You want to be able to dead lift 300 pounds as easily as if you were lifting 30. Your big plans to lift 300 might just get in the way of lifting the weight that you already know is easy.

You can spend all kinds of time delaying getting started. Researching gyms, shopping for exercise clothes, pondering the benefits of vanilla protein powder vs. chocolate  protein powder. However, eventually if you’re ever going to lift those 300 pounds, you’re going to have to start by lifting something. It doesn’t matter how much. The key is getting started. Once you do, you can start adding weights on a regular basis and incrementally you will get stronger and stronger.


Once you start moving and doing it’s much easier to keep on doing and moving

Same thing goes for following through on your goals. You might have big plans, but somehow you can’t get your eyes off the view of the top, down to the bottom where you need to be to build your way up there.



In the article, Two Ways To Overcome Inertia from Forbes, Sonia Kapadia mentions two ways to break the wall between planning and doing. One is to force things to happen by creating deadlines and accountability for yourself. That might take the form of something as simple as writing your daily intentions down on your calendar where you have to face them every day.


The second way is to take a full break from everything, both planning and doing. Clear your mental space then come in, with the intention of pulling your goals out of the planning stage into doing.


No matter which way you prefer, your goal is to stop thinking about what you want to do and put your shoes on and start doing it.  You can’t start at the top where you want to be. You start at the bottom and build your way to the top. Make mistakes. Learn. Ask for help. Think of yourself as a small snowball at the top of a mountain. You just need to push yourself off. Soon you’ll start accumulating speed and weight, excited to see how big you’ll finally get by the time you reach the town below.

“That it will never come again is what makes life sweet.” Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson facebook

You get up every day around the same time. You stumble into the kitchen, turn on the coffee maker. Or if you’re totally with it you grab the coffee from the machine you had set the night before. You eat a variation of the breakfast you eat every day. Maybe you go to the gym. Maybe you skid into work just under the wire. You put in your eight hours and come home.


Days fold into weeks

The days fold so seamlessly into each other that you start counting weeks instead of days. Life zips along. There’s nothing wrong with your zipping life. It’s actually pretty good – except who’s driving it? Without dedicated monitoring it’s easy for us to let routine take charge of our lives.


The downside of routine

There is nothing wrong with routine. It streamlines the days, it gives us time to think about new things while older ones take care of themselves. Routine makes for a smooth-running life and society. The problem isn’t routines exactly. The problem is when, rather than adding convenience to life, life becomes routine.


There will never be another today

As we automate our days to make them run smoothly we can lose track of absolute specialness beyond the automation.


Your kids won’t have the experiences of today tomorrow. The song you shared with your best friend won’t come on the radio at the moment you think about her tomorrow. The trees won’t all burst with new life on the same day again until next year. The preciousness of each day lies in the fact that it is unique. Rushing through the days on the train of routine we often forget to look out the window to see what’s on offer.


Make sure you take time each day to notice what’s special about the day. Savor it. You don’t remember days or weeks. You remember the moments that populate them. Moments that will only come once.

Did You Ever Wish You Could Improve Your Memory?

Did You Ever Wish You Could Improve Your Memory?

How is your memory? Do you have easy recall? Can you easily reference things from your past or popular culture or do you find yourself relying more and more on external devices? As I get older I definitely notice more memory stalls and sometimes full out dead ends. Instead of resigning myself to a petulant, temperamental memory I decided to see if there were ways to improve it.


Meditation for memory

There are so many benefits to meditating it’s surprising it’s not something we are taught throughout our years in school. Meditation helps with sleep, with creating balanced lives, with controlling stress and anxiety and it also helps with memory. Meditation not only helps us with short term memory – like remembering people’s names, it also helps us strengthen our long term recall. By turning off all the noisy business in the head, meditation creates an open space for grey matter to increase. A home for long term information to settle in.


Cut back on the sugar

Everyone knows there are all kinds of health reasons to cut back on sugar so we’re not going to go into a drawn-out discussion about all of them. What you may not know is, research shows that a heavy sugar diet can also induce memory problems and neuroinflammation.


Enjoy that coffee

Researchers at Johns Hopkins found that caffeine can help enhance memories up to twenty four hours after ingesting it. So after you learn something new get yourself a cup of coffee to solidify what you’ve learned.


Get moving

Exercise isn’t just good for the body, it’s also a brain booster. The article Ten Minutes of Exercise a Day Improves Memory from the Guardian states, “Scientists at the University of California studying brain activity found connectivity between parts of the brain responsible for memory formation and storage increased after a brief interval of light exercise – such as ten minutes of slow walking, yoga or tai chi.”


Ensure you get enough sleep

Like so many other things on this list a good night’s sleep has more benefits than we can count so we’re going to focus only on memory. Sleep is the time when memories consolidate in your brain. That’s the time when short term memories move into their long-term homes.



“There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.” Thich Nhat Hanh

"There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way." Thich Nhat Hanh

How often have you said, I will be happy when I achieve such and such a goal? Or, Once this is over I’ll be happy. According to those sorts of statements one achieves a state of happiness through something.


Unhappiness factors around the goal

The problem is, the dedicated quest for happiness through accomplishment is so stressful and consuming that it sucks the current happiness we could be feeling if we weren’t so focused out of our awareness.


Yes, achievements feel great. They prove your abilities and increase your self-worth, but do they actually make you happier? You will most probably feel happy immediately after you achieve that goal. But how long will it last?


Everyone has a general set point for happiness. Meaning for the most part, no matter what fabulous new job you get or beautiful new house you move into, after a while you will re-set to your natural happiness level.


The mouse wheel of happiness

Trying to achieve happiness through doing or acquiring things is a race that will never finish. It’s as perpetual as a mouse on a wheel. The slight bump in happiness fades and we’re on to the next thing to get it back – feeling less happy in the process of achieving.


Be the happiness

No matter what you achieve, your new job, your new house, you are still essentially the same person. That’s why we always return to our set point for happiness. Your set point of happiness is always underneath whatever else you’re doing. That means we can choose to acknowledge it and be happy while we go about achieving our goals. While we are living in our current location.


Happiness is a question of noticing the details. The warmth of sunshine on your skin. The colour of the sky. The music playing in your vicinity. Happiness isn’t the goal. Happiness is the way.


We’ve talked a lot about the happiness set point today. Although everyone does return to their general happiness level there is a way to re-adjust that set point and it’s through helping other people. Help other people feel better and you end up feeling increased happiness yourself. Like the saying goes, The more you give, the more you get.