Stretch Your Budget Without Cramping Your Style

This post is by Jesse Langley.

If you’re starting to pinch pennies and worry about cash flow, you’re not alone. Tough economic times and uncertainty about the future have a lot of people cutting back drastically. But you don’t have to cut back on all your purchases and fun activities just because you’re getting strict about your budget. You just need to get creative about how and where you’re spending.

Get smart: use coupons

Going to the grocery with just a grocery list won’t cut it anymore. Searching for sale items is a great start, but coupons can help you reduce your grocery bill significantly. And since printable coupons are so readily available, you can spend a little time finding coupons for the items on your list before you even leave the house.

Saving money on necessary budget items like groceries means you can transfer those savings into other budget categories. If you’ve completely cut out date nights or movies and an occasional pizza, the money you save on grocery bills can give you some extra cash for an occasional splurge.

Find fun alternatives

Pizza night

Image copyright Andriy Petrenko - Fotolia.com

When people start tightening their belts and trimming budgets, the first thing to go is usually entertainment and non-essential spending. This can actually be a mistake. The last thing you want to do when times are tough is make your life less fun. You can still engage in the same fun entertainment activities. You just need to do it differently.

Taking the family out for pizza and movies can kill a budget. By the time you’ve paid for two pizzas, four movie tickets and the requisite sodas and popcorn, it’s likely going to be just shy of a hundred dollars.

Instead, have a family pizza and movie night at home. Make it a family affair with some pizza kits and have the whole family pitch in. You can enjoy some delicious homemade pizza for a fraction of the cost. And after dinner, the whole family can lounge in the living room and watch movies with a Netflix subscription. It only costs $8 per month for unlimited movies. What makes this a nice option for family entertainment is the huge selection of kid-friendly films.

So for a family night, you can have more fun and family involvement for about one tenth of what you’d spend going out.

Buy used

You shouldn’t get hung up on having to buy new items. Finding used items for a fraction of the cost is a great way to cut down on monthly expenditures, and it’s fun too. craigslist is a great resource for practically any item you’re looking for—from home furnishing to a second vehicle.

You shouldn’t have hang-ups about buying used. Local thrift shops are often a lot more like little boutiques than the Salvation Army you may remember as a kid. Buying gently used clothing allows you to make frequent targeted purchases and it’s easy to find exactly what you’re looking for. Finding name brand clothing in a local thrift store is a great way to cut back on clothing purchases—and there’s no thrill quite like finding the perfect cashmere sweater for just a few dollars.

Cutting back on spending is a good idea, but there’s no reason you can’t make it fun. What budget-stretching tips can you share with us?

Jesse Langley lives near Chicago. He divides his time among work, writing, and family life. He has a keen interest in blogging and social media and is an advocate for online training.

Use the Internet to Boost Job Seeking Confidence

This post is by Stephanie Staszko of Blue Octopus Flat Fee Recruitment.

Being unemployed can be an extremely stressful period in anyone’s life, and feelings of worthlessness and frustration can soon surface. Unemployment is a vicious circle for some people: the longer their period of unemployment stretches, the lower their confidence becomes, thus lowering their chances of getting a job.

Job hunting

Image copyright Elenathewise - Fotolia.com

Keeping confidence high when you’re out of work is important so as not to enter this vicious circle. If you’re currently unemployed and feeling low, there are many ways which you can utilize the Internet to boost your job seeking confidence and, ultimately, get hired.

Safety in numbers

Knowing you’re not alone when going through times of hardship can be comforting and, currently, unemployment rates are unusually high. If many of your friends and relatives are working it can feel like you’re alone during your bout of unemployment.

Bookmarking a page on the Internet that you can refer back to, which states unemployment rates and statistics can help to remind you that you’re not alone when you’re feeling down. This can help to raise your self-belief and confidence once again and give you more enthusiasm.

Join a community

Joining an online community which relates to one of your interests can be a great way to meet new people online and forget about your unemployment for a while. The community could be related to the industry you’re in, or would like to work in, or it could just be related to a general hobby or interest.

Communicating within this niche community can help to occupy your mind, and meeting new people can open up new career opportunities. Inform people in your community that you’re looking for a job, as someone may know of a vacancy you haven’t heard about and may even have the power to put a good word in for you.

Read recruitment blogs

Recruitment blogs can help you with a variety of different job-related problems. They generally provide information on everything related to employment and many provide job seeking tips and tricks which you may not have thought of trying before. Some recruitment blogs even provide advice and allow you to write posts explaining your career problems, and answer them on the blog.

It may also be worth reading a recruitment blog which is aimed at employers so you can keep up-to-date with the latest hiring and firing strategies—knowledge is power!

Don’t be unsociable

You can use your social profiles as a job seeking/networking tool as well as a personal messaging service. Many employers view candidates’ social profiles before hiring them so make sure you have nothing inappropriate on there!

You could also use social networking sites to inform friends that you’re unemployed, as they may be able to help to find you a position within the company they work for. Finally, keeping in touch with friends is important at difficult times—no one can put a smile on your face more readily than your close friends.

How the Internet can ruin your confidence

Of course, every silver lining has a cloud, and there are ways in which using the Internet can ruin your job search. Here are a few bad habits to avoid when in front of the screen:

  • Don’t job-seek for excessive amounts of time, as it can actually be counterproductive as well as bad for your health. Sitting at the screen for too long can cause eye strain and fatigue—which certainly aren’t confidence boosters!
  • Avoid falling into the “nocturnal routine”. When you’re unemployed, it can be easy to fall into the trap of staying up really late at night and lying in bed all day. Although this may initially sound appealing, it can be a hard routine to break and can actually be quite depressing.
  • Don’t become a “success stalker”. Avoid “stalking” your successful friends online. Obsessing over what you haven’t got is a sure-fire way to knock your own confidence. Be proud of your friends’ success and inspired by it, but avoid turning into the green-eyed monster. Jealousy can destroy relationships and right now, you need the support of the people who are close to you.

What tips can you add from your own experiences being out of work? We’d love to hear them!

Written by Stephanie Staszko on behalf of Blue Octopus Flat Fee Recruitment. Steph enjoys writing various posts on recruitment for candidates and employers alike. You can find her on Twitter @StephStaz where you’ll find more career/recruitment posts.

6 Ways to Be More Positive and Happy

This post is by Lou Macabasco–Yanuaria of Lifetofullest.com.

The ability to keep a positive attitude in our day-to day-activities and interactions is a skill that only few people possess.  For most of us, it is easier to fill our minds with negative thoughts and ungratefulness.  We complain and feel miserable in a lot of areas in our life.  We hate our homes, work, school, family, friends, co-workers—or our whole life in general.

Personally, I used to live with negative attitude. But fortunately, through my willingness to unlearn my old beliefs and openness to learn new ways of doing things, I was able to surpass that negative stage of my life.  Eventually, I found happiness and success.

How did I change my negative outlook, to eventually become more positive and happy? Allow me to share with you a quick story.

A couple of years ago, before I started discovering, studying, and teaching personal development, I was limiting my happiness and success because of pessimism.  I hated so many things in my life.  I hated my work.  I hated my teammates at work.  I hated our family’s financial status.  I hated the attitude of some family members.  And I hated my ex-boyfriend who dumped me for another girl.

A day came I could no longer take all the hateful feelings and stress in my life. I decided to pack a few clothes and take a weekend off alone in a town in the mountaintop with no familiar people around. No friends, no family members, no co-workers, no boyfriend.

While I was staying at my hotel room and watching TV, I saw the talk show of a life preacher.  Something about what he said changed my perspective in life.

He compared life crises, such as pain, hatred, or stress, to a journey in the forest.  He asked the listeners to imagine a life crisis as if you are going to walk in the forest.  At the beginning, it will be a bit tough to walk on forward because you feel scared and anxious with the unfamiliar path you are about to take.  You may need to do work, cutting the grasses and large branches of trees in order to pass by.

The next morning, when you pass by the same route in the forest, it will now be much easier than the previous day.  You are now more familiar with the new path.  Although you may still feel a little discomfort, and you still have to cut few more grasses and branches of trees as you pass by.

As you continue passing along the same new path in the forest, each day that follows will be easier than the previous one.  You will adapt to the new journey, and you’ll no longer feel pain, fears, doubts or anxiety. Eventually, you will feel comfortable and happy with your new path.

Be happy

Image is author's own.


To end the story, the preacher then said, “if only you will be open to change your perspective, be more positive, and adaptable, you will see that that life crisis isn’t as hard as you think it is.”

After my soul-searching on the mountaintop, and hearing the story of the life preacher, I went back to my reality determined to change my perspective in life.  In my desire to change and be more optimistic, I’ve read many different self-help books and I’ve even attended many self-improvement seminars.  These have helped me develop, change, and keep a positive outlook in life.

To help others create the same positive change in their life, for them to start appreciating and stop hating, I’d like to share some of the principles in keeping a positive and happier life.

1. Thoughts become things

I’ve learned this phrase from the book, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, which is based on the principle of the law of attraction.  The law of attraction states that like attracts like.  It means that when we are thinking negative thoughts, we attract more negative things into our life.  And the same is true when we think of positive thoughts.  We can bring happiness in our life by focusing our thoughts on the positive, not on the negative.

2.  To be enthusiastic, act enthusiastic

I knew this principle when I attended the Dale Carnegie Course.  Dale Carnegie said, “Enthusiasm is the little secret of success.” When you are able to develop and practice enthusiasm, it gives you positive energy for your daily tasks or activities.

3.  Read books or articles on motivation and personal development

Positive attitude is a habit, and the same is true with negative attitude.  To help us habitually maintain a positive outlook in life, we need constant reminders.  Our reminder can be through reading books on personal development at least once a month, or subscribing to personal development websites which send weekly motivational articles.

4.  Join an organization of like-minded positive people

Another way to be consistent in keeping a positive attitude is by becoming a member of organization that promotes personal growth and a positive attitude.  Surrounding yourself with positive people can influence you to maintain and develop a habit of gratitude.  As they say, attitude is contagious.

5. Attend training seminars on self-improvement

I have noticed that people who keep looking for ways to improve themselves end up happier and more successful than those who don’t.  Attending training and seminars on self-improvement give you an opportunity to learn from the people you meet in the process, such as the trainer/coach and your co-participants.  It’s also a chance to practice mingling with like-minded people.

6.  Find and do something you’re passionate about

Passion is having strong desire or devotion towards something, like people, an activity, or a cause.  When you are passionate with what you do, you are likely to enjoy working, and to produce an exceptional result.  And when you enjoy what you do, the more likely you will be to be happier and positive in your perspective.  If you want to be more successful in your life, find and work on something you are passionate about.

Changing attitudes and your perspective won’t happen overnight—it happens through continuous effort and action called habit.  Which is why, in order to form a habit of positive attitude, you need to constantly follow guidelines I’ve mentioned above.

For a final note, let me leave you this quote to ponder:

When you are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears.—Anthony Robbins

Lou Macabasco-Yanuaria is a professional accountant, personal development coach, public speaker and entrepreneur. She writes and coach on positive attitude, productivity, stress management, success, personal finance and balanced life. Find out more about her works at Lifetofullest.com

10 Tips for a Safe Halloween

This guest post is by Janette Dolores of www.janettedolores.com.

Remember growing up and looking forward to the cool or spooky costume you’d be wearing for Halloween and all of the candy you’d rake in?

As a parent, grandparent or relative of little ones, do you now regard those cool and spooky costumes and candy doled out by strangers as causes for concern?

Halloween

Photo Attribution: Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net


If so, consider the following ten tips for safe Halloween fun.

  1. Join the fun. If your children are young enough to trick-or-treat, they’re still young enough to need a responsible adult present during the outing. The combination of Halloween falling on a weekday this year and people driving home from work while trick-or-treaters are racing from house to house warrants extra caution.
  2. Plan the trick-or-treating route ahead of time. If you’re taking the kids door-to-door, consider the neighborhood to be visited, its traffic pattern and whether the area is sparsely populated.
  3. Check the weather. Keep in mind that, despite areas with cooler Halloweens, kids may scoff at the idea of wearing a jacket over the outfit they’ve had picked out for months. One way to avoid this tug-of-war is to dress the kids in long-sleeved shirts, thermals, or leggings under the costumes so the integrity of the costume oeuvre d’art isn’t compromised.
  4. Host a Halloween bash! Frigid or stormy weather forecasted on the day of? Call fellow parents beforehand and plan a home Halloween party. Safe-to-eat treats, warm drinks, and family-friendly Halloween games can be included. Pick up a Halloween CD at your local party store for added effect.
  5. Visit the mall. If your children are toddlers or younger and you are hesitant to take them outdoors this holiday, dress up your children and take them to the mall to trick-or-treat with other costumed children. Many stores in malls pass out candy on Halloween. Note: get to the mall early to avoid arriving after candy supplies at stores have run out!
  6. Stay safe by staying visible. Stick reflective tape (found in hardware or toy stores) on your children’s costumes, or take along glow sticks, glow necklaces, and/or a flashlight to stay visible to motorists.
  7. Do a costume test-run. Have your children try on their costumes. Notice how well they walk in them, and see and breathe through any mask or headgear. Consider face painting instead of a mask so that vision and breathing aren’t obstructed. Never dress an infant or toddler in costumes with long pieces of fabric or embellishment that may pose a choking hazard. Last, check labels for fireproof or fire retardant material.
  8. Inspect all Halloween candy once you get home. This rule has applied for generations and remains a safety must for identifying and discarding unwrapped or otherwise problematic treats. Give your children dinner before trick-or-treating and take along a few pieces of candy from home to keep at bay your children’s temptation to dip into the Halloween bounty.
  9. Know the allergy-friendly treats. If food allergies are a concern, consider your children’s specific allergic trigger(s) when deciding what candy gets past you, the gatekeeper. While which candy is “safe” depends on the allergy at issue, some peanut and tree nut-free options are: Junior Mints, Pez, Tootsie Rolls, Twizzlers, Sweet Tarts, Starburst, Life Savers, Skittles, Smarties, and many varieties of lollipops.
  10. Trust your instincts and remind your children to trust theirs. A stranger doesn’t stop being a stranger just because he is handing out candy. Allow children to only approach homes with illuminated front porches, and instruct your children to never go inside a home or near a car for candy.

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

Janette Dolores is an at-home mom, wife and blogger. She is passionate about family, spirituality and writing, and draws inspiration for her writing from everyday experiences. Read more of her posts at www.janettedolores.com.

7 Tips to Help You Concentrate

This post is by Andy Boyd of edugree.com.

Many people are easily interrupted and struggle to stay on topic and task until complete. However, staying concentrated on a single task isn’t as hard as you might first believe. Following these simple tips will help anyone concentrate on a task to get it finished as easily and quickly as possible. Hopefully you can concentrate long enough to read the whole article!

1. Envision the task at hand

Concentrate

Image copyright Robert Kneschke - Fotolia.com

Think through the process you must use to finish the task. Are you writing a paper, studying for a test, or planning for an event? It doesn’t matter what the task is. Simply mentally walk yourself through the process so you know what it entails.

2. Prepare the work space in advance

Choose a work space that is large enough to accommodate all of the materials you will need to complete the job. Move all of the necessary materials into the space so they are easily accessible without having to leave. You should not have to leave the work space to get materials once you begin because this causes unnecessary distractions to occur. If you have mentally walked yourself through the process in advance, you will know what materials are essential to the completion of the task.

3. Remove all barriers to your concentration from your work space

The work space should not house a phone (unless you really need it for the project), television, or other distracting gadget. In fact, choose a time to work that others will not be around you to distract you or break your concentration—working from home is notoriously difficult for some, especially those who are naturally easily disrupted. If you must work in a public place, use headphones to eliminate noise and show others you are too busy to be bothered.

4. Begin the task by breaking it down into achievable pieces

Make a list of what needs to be accomplished. Then, rewrite the list in the order of importance. Breaking down the task into smaller parts can make it easier to concentrate since you are only concentrating on one idea at a time. It is also easier to concentrate when you know what piece you are working on and what piece will be coming up next. You don’t have to worry about what is coming up next.

5. Allocate each task a time

If the deadline or time frame of a project has you worried or stressed, this may cause you to lose your concentration. To avoid losing your concentration over this, you may find that it eases your mind to allocate given amounts of time for each task on your task list. Since you have already broken down your job into specific tasks to accomplish, go back to that list and allocate specific amounts of time to make sure that you don’t spend so much time on one part that you can’t finish the whole. Adhere to the timeline as closely as possible to take the guesswork out of when you will be finished.

6. When you begin the job, check off each piece as you finish it

This helps you see what parts have been accomplished and allows you to only concentrate on the jobs that are left. This relieves stress you may be feeling about the overall project and allows you to use all of your focus to concentrate on the current job you are trying to complete.

7. Don’t forget to schedule breaks periodically during your work session

Concentrating so hard on one task can easily be tiring. To avoid overtiring yourself or letting your concentration waver, schedule five to ten minute breaks each hour. During the break session, stand and stretch. Get a cold drink or snack and let your mind wander from the task at hand.

It is important that you don’t do anything during a break session to cause you to lose focus for more than the allotted five to ten minutes. Making a phone call or checking an email account during a break may not be smart since these could cause possible distractions that break your concentration or cause you to abandon your work.

What helps you concentrate? Share your tips in the comments.

Andy blogs about how you can advance your career through education and provides advice on drafting your resume on his blog. You can visit his blog at edugree.com.

Morning Energy: 10 Tips to Kickstart Your Day

This post is by Susie Michelle of Momscape.com.

Are you having one of those days? If so, you probably knew it from the moment your eyes blinked open and struggled to focus.

Maybe you slept okay, and maybe you didn’t, but the day is here just the same.

Wake up

Image copyright AVAVA - Fotolia.com

Here are ten tips and techniques to help you start your morning with more energy.

  1. Drink a glass of water right when you wake up. It’s a great way to energize and set the tone for a healthy, active day.
  2. Yes, have that cup of coffee. Unless you have a medical condition, there’s probably nothing wrong with a morning wake-up cup of coffee or tea. Blow the steam and watch it scatter across the top of your mug. Sip it and savor it with enough attention and reverence, and you might just find that one cup is enough.
  3. Take a moment to be with your thoughts. Don’t rush headlong into your day, if you can help it. Maybe you enjoy writing for a few minutes in a journal. Maybe you like to sit at the table and thumb through the newspaper. Don’t discount these little rituals in starting your day off right. Give yourself time to shake off the sleepies and bring your full attention to the day ahead.
  4. Brush your teeth, and use some zingy mouthwash. This always helps me feel a little more invigorated, and it also helps me turn down that second cup of coffee.
  5. Use a daily morning ritual to get your head on straight. When you’re brushing your teeth, or when you’re washing your hair in the shower, for example, recount as many things as you can that you are thankful for—or things that you are looking forward to in the day ahead. Marinate in your own positive thoughts for a minute.
  6. Blast some tunes. Get a good, energizing playlist or tune into some free Pandora channels that help you stay energized and eager for the day ahead.
  7. Energize with aromatherapy. Citrus scents are perfect for getting you going in the morning. Use an essential oil warmer in the room where you’re getting ready to face the day, or find a perfume that incorporates these energizing notes.
  8. Start your day by eating something healthy and fresh—something with high water content. Indulge in a piece of fresh, juicy fruit, for example, along with something else that will stick to your ribs. I always have a few walnuts to add some protein and staying power.
  9. Exercise in the morning. You don’t have to go nuts. Just a brisk 20 minute walk or jog will do wonders for your mood and energy levels. Sometimes (okay, often) I have to trick myself: I’ll put on my running shoes and tell myself I’m going to go for just ten minutes once the kids are on the school bus. After ten minutes have passed, I nearly always find that I don’t want to stop.
  10. Make some time to laugh. Set your browser to open with one of those websites or YouTube channels that always makes you giggle. Read The Onion or The Pioneer Woman or call that friend who always has a good joke at the ready. Humor has a remarkable ability to break us out of a bad mood and help us feel better about the day ahead.

If you still can’t seem to wake up, give yourself a little more time. Some days are like that. Have another cup of coffee and breathe deep. It’s going to be a beautiful day.

Susie Michelle is the publisher of Momscape.com a parenting site with articles, tips and ideas from renowned experts on health and fitness, organic living, weight loss, romance, and travel. Susie is also the founder of Susies-Coupons.com where she spotlights coupon codes, daily deals and fun finds from around the web.

10 Couples’ Massage Dos and Don’ts

This post is by Denis Merkas of CouplesMassageCourses.com.

Massage between couples can be so much more than just a five-minute shoulder rub every now and then. Those particular shoulder rubs are not often given in the right spirit of generosity—couples instead bicker over who got the longer massage, who owes who what and then no one ends up satisfied (and everyone gets sore hands!).

Done right, massage can be a catalyst for building trust and intimacy between partners. Giving a loving massage—without expecting a thing in return—is a surefire way to make your partner feel absolutely amazing.

The benefits speak for themselves—heightened intimacy, a feeling of closeness, better sex, stress relief, brownie points… you don’t even have to be the one getting the massage to enjoy these benefits. Even the giver of the massage will feel more relaxed afterwards.

Couples' massage

Image copyright istockphoto - Graham Bedingfield

With all that in mind, think about pampering your partner tonight with a special massage just for them and see what happens. Here are my top dos and and don’ts of massage to get you started.

1. Don’t squirt oil directly onto your partner’s body

Squirting cold oil onto warm skin looks sexy in the movies, but feels terrible in real life. Always squirt your oil into one hand and then rub your palms together to warm the oil up before applying to the body. Much sexier.

2. Do slow it down

So many couples tend to rush through their massage. There are no points for finishing first! Get your sweetie in the mood with relaxed, gentle strokes. Slowing down will also help you gain their trust, which means they’ll be putty in your hands by the end.

3. Don’t use your thumbs!

Aha, that one got you, didn’t it? Using thumbs is the quickest way to tire out your hands, so avoid using them at all until the very end of the massage. Start by using an open hand technique with relaxation strokes and save your thumbs as your secret weapon—after a good ten minutes of the open-hand technique, bust out your thumbs for short bursts (I’m talking 30 seconds only at a time) on specific knots to really make your partner melt.

4. Do ask for feedback

Any good massage therapist will ask their client for feedback, and you should do the same. “Is that deep enough?”, “How does this spot feel?”, “Where are you tight?” are all great questions.

Also look out for moans and groans, oohs and aahs while you massage; these all signify that whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it right—so keep doing it!

5. Don’t massage without being prepared

You don’t want to be stopping halfway through a massage to turn off lights, adjust the thermostat or grab a towel. Have everything you need organized and close by before you begin. And turn your phone off!

6. Do contour your hands to your partner’s body

The more surface area you can touch, the better your massage will feel for your partner. When massaging, keep your fingertips and palms down and relaxed. If your hands are stiff or tense they won’t contour properly and your massage won’t feel natural.

7. Don’t underestimate the ambiance

Tidy up the massage space so there’s no mess and clutter, and make it seductive by triggering all the different senses—light candles, play soft music, burn incense and serve wine and chocolate.

8. Do give encouraging feedback when you’re being massaged

Remember, your partner is new at this and will lose motivation if you’re critical of their performance. Positive reinforcement is the key, tell them what you love about the massage and how great it feels—remember to pound out some “oohs and ahhs.” Trust me, you’ll be on the receiving end of many more massages with this approach!

9. Don’t go in deep at the start!

Many people make the mistake of getting right in there with a firm massage. Unless your partner has just come off the football field and needs a leg rub stat, there is no excuse for going too deep too fast. Any good practitioner starts off gently every time to give the muscles time to warm up first. You can go in deep towards the end of the massage.

10. Do massage on the floor

The bed seems like a sexy idea, but the soft and uneven surface of the mattress is going to hurt your back, and your partner’s neck. The best position is for you to kneel on the floor with your partner sitting cross-legged between your knees. You must have plenty of cushions bolstered under your butt to help keep your weight off your knees. In this position, you have great access to your partner’s neck, shoulders, arms and upper back. Massage for no more than 20 minutes in this position as it will eventually start to tire out your knees and lower back.

Keeping the above in mind should set you well on your way to pampering your partner with a decadent, long massage. For more information on massage techniques go to CouplesMassageCourses.com and download your massage guide now.

Do you massage your partner at home? What does and doesn’t work for you?

Denis Merkas is a qualified Acupuncturist and Remedial Massage Therapist whose expertise is in training and developing professional massage therapists. He has used those same techniques over the last five years to teach couples how to massage in live workshops and has just released a series of eBooks, available at CouplesMassageCourses.com.

How to Be as Happy as a Child, No Matter What Your Age

This post is by Marie-Eve Boudreault of the behappyanddowhatyoulove.com blog.

Happiness is a tricky thing when you’re a kid—and also as you grow up into an adult.

I observe that we find happiness easily when we’re young. But we try so hard to please others, so we can be loved by them, or believe in a fictive way to live, that we lose that knack along the way. At least we can expect to grow up wise enough to have a broad perspective on life, and to know “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”

Fun

Have happiness teachers: mine are my sons (Image is author's own)

Fun is now

Somehow, when we think we “get” life and have a lot of responsibilities, the fun levels can decrease. We don’t have time for fun; we can’t have fun at work because we have to do “important stuff.”

When I was young, every moment was an opportunity to have fun. In school or in spare time, I knew instinctively what I loved: to hang out with my friends and sisters, read, go out into the woods with my dog, or be an athlete.

My three-year-old twin boys are the same: everything can be a source of wonder. Fortunately they are my every day teachers of having fun.

Find out how you can keep fun in your life or get it back.

Love goes with happiness

Love is energy: it can neither be created nor destroyed. It just is and always will be, giving meaning to life and direction to goodness. Love will never die.—Bryce Courtney

I understand now that love is what we should look for and do our utmost to carry out. But I can’t say I understand it more than ever, because it seems I knew it when I was as young as a toddler.

I flourished being in a circle of constant love, and perished when I wasn’t. Even if through the passage into adulthood loving slashed a bit of my happiness—because when love crashes, it hurts bad—I’ve never regretted to love. I get love from relationships, but also from the beauty of this world, the smile of a stranger, and conditions that permit us to live and experience reality.

Violence is the contrary of love. We can all know violence, going from a mild form to the extreme, and showing itself by verbal or physical abuse. I know we can stay in that place because we need to be loved, but this is not love. Looking back now, I’d stand up for myself and get out of abusive situations as soon as they came. Don’t be afraid to do so. Love yourself enough for that—and by this you’ll never be out of love.

You always have a choice to be happy

It’s easily observable: when a child has all his needs responded to, he’s—most of the time—naturally happy. I strongly believe genuine happiness is a natural state in humans.

Adults in our industrialized societies don’t appear to have retained this ability. Maybe we’re too much occupied to get the next thing that should gain us happiness, and greed, avarice or complacency have a part to play in it. Maybe we’ve been hurt too much by sad events in our lives. But we have to realize that we can be happy this very moment. If you don’t, you consciously—or unconsciously—make the choice to be unhappy.

I realized after doing what was expected of me, and facing the hardships of life, such as sickness, violence, and a child’s death during pregnancy, that I was becoming more and more unhappy. At the same time, that was the last thing I wished for me, and others. So I went out on a happiness quest: maybe this job will make me happy, this thing, this relationship…

I should have just stopped doing what was making me unhappy, and lived happiness in the present instead of going on a happiness treadmill. I’m not angry at myself. I was pretty much on my own, and I now have tools to remain happy no matter what happens. One of those tools is that I have to make the conscious choice to be happy.

Dreaming is good for happiness

Dreaming is the first step to achieve our dreams. We dream a lot when we’re kids, but somehow growing up we try to make those dreams fit with what’s socially acceptable.

Now that I have children, I really understand that parents love their offspring a lot. Often, we’re stuck in unpleasant situations and are depended upon to fulfill needs, so we forget our dreams and/or the wellbeing of our children. Young people, please understand this; parents, don’t neglect your children because of it.

Any of us can always strive for a better situation, and do our best to reach it. This is what will bring your dreams into your life.

An example: I’ve always loved books. In kindergarten I was angry at the teacher because she wouldn’t show me how to read and be in the first grade class. I forgot that one of my dreams was to write, but I’ve rediscovered it recently.

Now, the situation isn’t ideal because I work a lot at home with my kids. But we shouldn’t wait for ideal situations. I find time every week-day to write, because if I don’t, I feel unfulfilled. I’m an author and I love it. But if I’d stuck with my dreams originally, it would have taken me less time to find my passion, and what I believe I’m here to do: inspire people to live a happy, aware life and do what they love.

As adults, we have to fulfill all our needs, and rediscover our dreams without sabotaging those of our young—let them be.

Be a conscious, happy child

Now, it’s not too late! You can remember, as I did, to make the choice to have fun, love as if you’ve never been hurt, and live your dreams. Be a conscious child, no matter what age you’re at, and live in happiness.

Marie-Eve Boudreault chose the path of happiness and living her dreams, being a sociologist, stay-at-home mom and author. You can get her free ebook, ecourse, newsletter at Be Happy and Do What You Love, under the free products page, at http://behappyanddowhatyoulove.com/blog.

5 Steps to Better Self-confidence

This post is by Nabil Gulamani of successatreach.com.

Many of us want to work on our self-confidence, but we are not sure about what approach to take to improve it. Those of us that suffer from low self-confidence know we need to take action … and yet we don’t.

Below I have included five tips for ways you can improve your self-confidence so that you can have more success in your career and your personal life.

1. Talk to more people every day

Most of us are caught up in a routine lifestyle, and we talk to the same people every day.

Self-confidence

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In order to take your self-confidence to whole new level, you have to make a habit of talking to different people consistently. You will realize that when you have mastered this skill, you will overcome your shyness. The reason why many people suffer from low self-esteem in their social lives is because they are not talking to enough new people each day.

2. Get outside of your comfort zone

We all have fears in certain areas that stop us from having the lives that we really desire. In order for you to grow mentally and emotionally strong, you have to get outside of your comfort zone.

Make a habit of doing what you fear, and you will notice that you will get past all of your limiting beliefs. The reason most of us are afraid to step outside of our comfort zone is because we fear the unknown. When you learn how to deal with uncertainty on a regular basis, you will get a sudden boost in your level of confidence.

3. Practice making direct eye contact when you’re talking to other people

Making eye contact is very important with the people you communicate with face-to-face, every day. When you can master making great eye contact, it will help you in your career, but it can help improve the relationships you have in your personal life as well.

When you can make good eye contact when talking with others, it shows that you have leadership traits. People respond positively to leaders, so if you master these skills, your friends, co-workers, and members of the opposite sex will gain more respect for you.

4. Surround yourself with people who are successful

Start getting to know people who are successful in every area of their life. This includes friends and people in your work niche as well.

When you make a habit of talking to successful people, your vision will expand and you will explore new opportunities that you hadn’t seen in the past. When you are around individuals that are willing to share their success and help you as well, you will enjoy a lot of positive energy.

5. Exercise more often

Go to the gym at least four to five times a week. Many of us are sitting at our office desks the whole day, and it can get really depressing if we don’t move around during the day.

Lack of exercise will affect your confidence in all areas of your life. If you do not want to go to the gym and prefer the outdoors, go for a run or hike. Make working out and eating healthily a long-term commitment. Don’t get into crash dieting because you will feel like you are forcing yourself to stay healthy, and that can have a negative impact on your self-esteem.

Next time you pull out your calendar, make sure that you have enough time set up so you can work on mastering the above skills. Make a daily habit of doing something that will improve your self-confidence.

What are you going to do to take your self-confidence to the next level?

Nabil Gulamani is in sales and helps businesses nationwide with their Direct Marketing. During his free time he blogs about self-improvement and personal growth to help people improve their overall lifestyle. You can visit his Self-Improvement blog www.successatreach.com.

Top Health Tips for Computer Users

This post is by Jane of Coupon Triumph.

Online entrepreneurs use computers a lot. They sit in the same place a lot. That doesn’t sound healthy, does it?

It’s not just online entrepreneurs—anyone who uses computers for their work, or for fun, sits in front of computers a lot.

Such people tend to neglect their health as they spend long hours in front of their computers. Sitting the whole day isn’t really advisable as it may affect your body and take a toll on the overall health. And that’s before we consider strain and other injuries specifically related to computer use itself.

Headache

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Yes, as a person who uses computers often, you will need to invest in your health too. Here’s a list of action items to get you going and stay healthy—even in front of the computer!

Your eyes need attention

As you continuously work in front of a monitor, staring the screen for a long time, you are sure to strain your eyes. Many vision-related issues crop up because of long hours spent sitting in front of the computer.

Taking breaks in between tasks, looking away from your screen, and maintaining a good distance from your screen while you are working may help you give you relief from eye irritation and strain. You should also make sure you blink while you look on the screen—don’t just stare at it for long hours.

Back issues

Many people’s backs ache when they sit for long hours; it only adds up more pain if you don’t pay enough attention to the initial signs and take steps to avoid the back issues in the first place.

Get yourself a comfortable chair which enables you to keep your feet on the floor. A footstool may help if you need extra height. Sit straight and take small breaks for walks away from your desk.

Eat—don’t skip

Your diet does come into play here. You shouldn’t skip your meals: you are what you eat, and your health depends on how healthily you eat.

Avoid sugar-rich foods and starches. Grab fruits and healthy snacks instead. If you feel that you don’t have time to get away from your work, keep healthy snacks at your desk. Remember: eat healthy to stay healthy.

Drink water

Water, as they say, is the elixir of life. Drinking water while you work may save you from lot of problems related to dehydration. Your computer heats up, and working inside under lights, or in air-conditioned spaces, can also make you feel dehydrated.

Sometimes, you may not even feel that you are thirsty because you are so busy at work. Keep a bottle of water ready and sip in at regular intervals. This will ensure that your water intake is proper.

Neck pain

Exercise while you work. I do not mean that you have to totally cut off from your work—you can follow some simple and easy exercises at your desk itself. Tilt your head to avoid neck pain now and then by looking up, and to the right and left sides.

You can also relax for a few minutes in your chair, too. Do try exercises that relieve shoulder pain, like rolling your shoulders back and forth a few times each hour.

Use a friendly keyboard

This may sound a little difficult, as many of us usually become adjusted to a particular keyboard. But this quick tip works too well, as it gives much-needed comfort to your ever-typing fingers.

Invest in a ergonomic keyboard—one that’s friendly to your hands and wrists. It will benefit your work and your health as well. It helps you easily avoid that wrist pain which cramps your muscles, and leaves you free from finger pain too.

Weight loss

Unintended weight loss occurs as we result of the wrong eating habits and an unhealthy lifestyle.

Skipping meals is a strict no-no. Give yourself good amount of time to finish your food completely—it energizes you to work for the rest of the day. Try spending meal times with family or friends, and make eating a fun-filled activity in your schedule.

Sleep

Last, but not least, sleep is as important as food to your health. You might get yourself a bad headache or strain yourself too much if you continue working all day and night.

Relax your brain and eyes and slip into a good sound sleep. You will feel more refreshed after a good sleep, and you’ll work more effectively too.

Try these effective tips to get your work going without sacrificing your health. Do you have any you can add?

Jane also writes for Coupon Triumph, a discount coupon site that offers bistro md and diet to go discount coupons.