You Have Dreams. Now is the Time To Go for It!

Photo Credit: sam ciurdar // CC0 1.0
Do it. That thing you always wanted to do. Get started. Now. This is the time to finally do it.

If you don't do it now, you may never do it. Ever. "Someday" isn't a day of the week. If it's going to happen, you NEED to start today. 

If you want to write, write. Be a writer. You can't be a writer unless you write (duh). It's simply common sense. You can do it. 

Let go. Let the words flow. You can silence the nay-saying voices that say otherwise. 

If they tell you that you can't, I'm telling you that you can. You have everything inside of you to create a masterpiece. The hardest thing sometimes is getting started. 

Let your heart out. Let your voice sing. Write about what YOU want. This is your space to be selfish. It could be about YOU, YOUR ideas, YOUR beliefs, or anything entirely different. (Pretty much whatever you feel like.) Tell me your vision of the world and what it could be. 

Put the pen to paper. Don't worry about typos or editing (for now), that can all be taken care of later.

Tell me and I'll listen. Write it out and the whole world will listen. 

This is what you've wanted to do for a while. The urge is inside waiting to erupt.

I you don't want to write, produce your passion. If you want to be a teacher, don't wait. If you want to start a business, start planning today. Be bold and go for it.

The best gift you can give the world is being the you that you deeply dare of being.

Roderick Conwi writes at NourishmentNotes.com about lifestyle development. To get helpful insights that enhance your day, join his free newsletter.

NN's Best Notes of 2014

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Hello friends!

As 2014 comes to a close, I’d like to share with you the best notes of the year. All of these notes came straight from my heart and others found these to be very valuable. My goal has always been to provide insights that help people in their daily lives (and even more so in 2015!).

Until then, here are the notes that people found the most insightful, interesting, and valuable:

5 Career Tips I wish I Knew at 21
This is my way of sharing with you the best career advice I’ve learned over the years.

7 Strategies to Raise Happy Kids
As a parent of young kids, I always wondered how to raise my kids to be happy. So I did some research and here is what I found. (Those of you who are parents or planning to be parents will find this insightful.)

5 Reasons Why Laughter is Good for You
As an adult, I sometimes take things too seriously. This is my way of reminding myself and others like me that it’s okay to laugh; it’s good for you. :)

27 Life Lessons I’ve Learned Up Until Now
From my birth to now, I’ve had plenty of valuable life experiences. This note shares with you the lessons I’ve gained (sometimes the hard way) up until now.

8 Great Habits for Both Work and Life
At first, these habits may seem common sense, but you’ll be surprised how many people don’t practice them consistently. These habits were part of a business training that benefited myself and others. They will benefit you too.

103 Quotes for Everyday Motivation
I like quotes and so do a lot of people I know. As a gift to you, here is an e-book packed with motivational quotes.

Fear Can’t Be Eliminated; It Must Be Managed. Here’s How to Do it.
Fear keeps a lot of people I know from living the life they dream of. It’s always a factor, but it can be minimized. Here’s how you can keep fear to a minimum.

How to Thrive in the 21st Century Workforce

This is not about software or coding, it’s about the skills we all need in the ever-changing economy. Practicing these skills will keep you competitive in our evolving workforce.

How to Combat Procrastination in 6 Simple Steps
Procrastination is a demon I’ve faced since 6th grade. It has been a hurdle for me to overcome. Here’s the best way I’ve found to combat procrastination.

Tired? This is Why Rest is Imperatively Important

Hard work is important, so is rest. There are so many benefits; it’s good to remind yourself to take a break.

Happy New Year! Cheers to a GREAT Year!


Sincerely,
Rod

Roderick Conwi writes at NourishmentNotes.com about lifestyle development. To get helpful insights that enhance your day, join his free newsletter.

To Be or Not To Be, This List is Arguably More Important than To-Do Lists

Photo Credit: chandler erisman // CC0 1.0
To-Do Lists are pretty much everywhere you look nowadays. People have them for work, home, and other tasks that they need to get done (I wouldn't be surprised if some people out there have a "list of lists).

If you took a look at the Apple App Store, there are an overwhelming amount of productivity/To-Do List apps (3,180 at the time of this posting). There is definitely a demand for people to organize their tasks and responsibilities.

While it's good that we as a society are mindful of what we do (and need/want to do), it's more important to be mindful of who we are.

As crazy as it sounds, it makes sense for us to create "To-Be Lists."

Here's why.

"To be" is an intended state of being.It's the characteristic you choose to embody and practice. For example, if you intend "to be helpful," and commit to being helpful, then you inevitably do helpful things. Helpful people can't help but do things that are helpful. They think and act out of helpfulness because they are being helpful.

That's why focusing on being is more important than focusing on the doing.

Here's my example:

Knowing that I'm going to have a busy day filled with paperwork and deadlines, here's my To-Be List:

      To-Be List
  • Be Efficient
  • Be Courageous
  • Be Patient

Throughout the day, I need to be efficient with both my time and my effort. Being efficient increases my productivity and makes me more effective. Along with that, I need to be courageous to tackle the challenges and obstacles that I face on a daily basis, especially when they are overwhelming. On top of that, I need patience in my life to balance everything out. I need to be patient when dealing with people who are being difficult or when I want progress to happen, but I know sometimes it won't happen instantly. Patience helps me stay calm and be focused in the moment I'm in.

Being mindful of who you are being helps you be the best version of you. Plus, it propels you towards the person you deeply wish to be.

Roderick Conwi writes at NourishmentNotes.com about lifestyle development. To get helpful insights that enhance your day, join his free newsletter.

The Simple (Sometimes Easy) Way of Getting What You Want

Photo Credit: aundre larrow // CC0 1.0
Not too long ago, a former supervisor of mine (Hi Brock!) shared with me one of the most powerful pieces of advice he'd ever been given. His adviser in college told him, "If you want a cookie, you have to ask for the cookie."

The concept behind that is simple: if you want something, you are more likely to get it if you ask.

Sometimes you'll get it; sometimes you won't, but you'll never know until you ask.

Not asking keeps your wants, dreams, and desires hidden inside. Who knows, the person you've been wanting to ask something might have a "yes" already waiting for you (and wondering why you haven't asked yet).

At work, asking helps clarify to your colleagues what your expectations are. If you want a promotion, ask your boss if there are any positions open. That way you know if there are any and your boss knows that you're looking to grow. Your boss isn't a mind reader. If you want a raise, make it clearly communicated by asking for one. If you want to have some days off for yourself, by all means, ask. It may seem intimidating at times, but how else is your boss going to know that you want/need time off.

In relationships, asking creates communication and clarity between partners. If you want to go on a date, resolve an issue, or just talk, it helps to ask. At the very least, asking gets the ball rolling.

If you're not in a relationship, asking is a powerful practice to help you get in one (if that's what you want; there's nothing wrong with being single). If there's someone you're interested, ask her/him to go on a date/hang out/get coffee/grab lunch/get dinner/watch a movie/etc. Any of those is enough to give you a good start.

I know that asking takes courage. You risk being told, "No," which many people associate with disappointment and failure. Many times asking requires you to go through the nervousness and fear.

I can tell you from my personal experiences that it is definitely challenging to muster up the courage to ask. There are times when it is hard and plenty of times when it seems much harder. There will be times you'll be told, "No," and it brings down your mood. How I get over it is to just keep on going. By practicing, I get better at keeping up my momentum whenever people tell me, "No," when I ask. Practicing is empowering.

Even if you think you have a long shot of getting a "Yes" from people, you might be surprised. The last time I went to go get sushi, I asked for a discount before I paid the bill and I got it. (I was surprised myself.) I just asked, not knowing whether or not I'd get it, but it worked. The same thing happened when I went to buy a ham last week. Asking takes a little courage, but it definitely helps develop character.

In everyday life, the act of asking opens limitless possibilities. Asking opens doors. It starts conversations. This simple act will help you if you practice it consistently.

Is there something lingering inside that you've been wanting to ask someone? Go for it!

After all, you will never know until you ask.

Roderick Conwi writes at NourishmentNotes.com about lifestyle development. To get helpful insights that enhance your day, join his free newsletter.

Thinking Outside the Wreath

Whenever I see someone turn a passion into a blooming business, it inspires me. My friend Kat from Kat in Wunderland Crafts took her passion and style and has been turning ordinary wreaths into artistic masterpieces. These aren't just ordinary circular tree branches; they're custom-made pieces of art for every occasion.

Here is just a sample of what she has done:

A photo posted by Kat Barnes (@katinwunderland) on


A photo posted by Kat Barnes (@katinwunderland) on

A photo posted by Kat Barnes (@katinwunderland) on

A photo posted by Kat Barnes (@katinwunderland) on
 
To explore Kat's latest products or order a wreath of your own, check out: http://instagram.com/katinwunderland

6 Truths about Success Many People Misunderstand

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Success is one of the most misunderstood concepts in this world.  Some people think that success is making a lot of money. Others think that it comes from luck or inborn talent. There are those who think success can come quickly and without much effort. They couldn't be any more wrong. Here are the truths about success that, unfortunately, many people misunderstand:

1. Success is Subjective

People define success in their own unique way. A person's passions and life experiences factor into her/his definition. To some, it may be graduating from college or earning a MBA or PhD. To others, it might be having financial freedom to not worry about money and bills. Other people might define success as having the freedom to spend an abundant amount of time with their loved ones. 

To me, success is living the life that I deeply dream of. I am fulfilled with my career. My family fills my heart and soul with joy. I have all that I need. Because of all that, I consider myself very successful.

2. Success is More Than Just Making Money

Money is something that is glamorized more and more in society. It's almost to the point where a person's value is closely related to their income or bank account balance. A lot of people see that as their ultimate goal to success.

But I've heard many authors, entrepreneurs, and other successful people talk about how they define success.  It's not just based on wealth. For many, it's having a family, being healthy, or being able to follow their passion (in a career or hobby). Success is being fulfilled and satisfied with the lifestyle they have.

I'm not saying that money isn't important; it is.  Money is needed to pay the bills and support your lifestyle; it's just not the only thing you need to be successful.

3. Inborn Talent is a Very Small Factor in Achieving Success

So many people I see every day don't have a growth mindset. They think they're smart or they're not. They consider themselves talented or untalented. These are self-destructive mindsets because people who think them put limits on themselves. 

I believe that everyone is born with a certain amount of natural talent, but that doesn't limit anyone from learning anything. People still need practice to develop their skills whether they have natural talent or not. 

Practice makes us better. It improves our skills and pushes us past our "personal best." (Our personal best can continuously change, especially if we are getting better.) We all can improve in all of our talents, even if we are much better at a specific skill compared to the rest of the world. 

4. Success Takes Time

I'm sure that there are people who become overnight successes, but I can't think of one.  The reason is because success rarely works that way; it requires time. To achieve any goal, you'll need effort and time to put that effort into.

If you want to be a teacher, you'll have to earn a bachelor's degree, pass a whole bunch of tests (CBEST, CSET, etc), complete a semester of student teaching, and earn your teaching credential just to meet the job requirements. That doesn't include the time it takes to actually apply for openings and go through the interview process. All that doesn't happen overnight; it takes time.

5. Success Takes Discipline

It's not just about working harder, but working both harder and smarter.  Success also takes focus that keeps you on task and on the path toward your goals. 

Writers know that books don't write themselves. They need to have enough discipline to create the time and put in the effort to get their work done. If it never gets done, it never gets published. 

Having discipline means you can manage your time, effort, and emotions to help you accomplish tasks and achieve your goals. 

6. There is No Magic Formula that will Guarantee Your Success

I wish that I could just tell you a sure-fire way to achieve success, you'd do it, and you'd be successful. It would be great if I told you that if you went to college, got a bachelor's and master's degree, then you'd be set for riches beyond your wildest dreams. Unfortunately success doesn't work that way. What works for someone won't work for everyone. 

People have their different personalities, skill sets, and life experiences. That all factors in to how they define success and their road to achieve it. You could copy what other successful people have done and it might increase your chances of succeeding, but that wouldn't guarantee you the same success.

All that I can advise is to keep trying until you find something that works for you. You might find that your own approach to a problem works better than what everyone else does. You might start with a job that you're not passionate about only to find out what your true passions are. It's possible that you might end up in a career that wasn't part of your original plan, and that's perfectly okay. 

You have to find your own path to success. It might be sloppy with some ditches and dead ends, but it's ultimately your path to create.

Roderick Conwi writes at NourishmentNotes.com about lifestyle development. To get helpful insights to enhance your day, join his free newsletter.

How To Have a Good Day Every Day

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For all of us, there are good days and there are others that aren't so good. There are days when good things happen, and naturally we tend to think of those days as good.

That's a trap that a lot of us fall into. We sometimes think that having a good day is dependent on something external. It could be something like receiving good news, winning a prize, or spending time with a loved one. For example, someone might think, "Today is payday, so that makes today good," or "If I make X amount of sales today, then today will be good." The danger in that type of thinking is that it makes other days feel not-so-good. If paydays are awesome, then days that we don't get paid aren't, which isn't necessarily true. 

The reality is that good things and not-so-good things happen every single day. Life is a complex mix of these things. It's not simplistic where good things only happen on good days and bad things happen only on bad days. Having a good day shouldn't be dependent on what happens during that day.

Every day can be a good day. All you have to do is consciously decide that today is a good day no matter what happens. It's a powerful and courageous act of optimism that shows that you choose to perceive the day as good even if something bad happened. It's an empowering decision to make this day good for you, even if others choose to label it otherwise. 

Dr. Phil wrote in his book Life Strategies that there is no reality, only perception. How we interpret our world defines our reality. 

For example, each morning I tell myself something like, "Today will be a good day. No matter what happens, I'm' going to do all I can to do as much good as I can. It's going to be a good day because I choose to make it so."

Of course, there are some days that we consider to be better than others. There are the days we have more free time, spend more time with family and friends, or experience a life-changing event. There are great days in which more good things happen in our lives than on average. Those great days may make other days seem like bad days, but that's simply untrue. They're still good days. Whether we have a good, great, or not-so-good day, every day is still indisputably a good day.

Roderick Conwi writes at NourishmentNotes.com about lifestyle development. To get helpful insights to enhance your day, join his free newsletter.

How To Make Creamy Pumpkin, Ginger, & Coconut Milk Soup

Photo Credit: myworkout.dk
Disclaimer: This note is a guest post from Yvonne Alonso, my first grade classmate. She is an inspiring person. On her blog, she shares healthy recipes and continuously shares her fitness journey. 

This recipe is just one of the many goodies she shares on her blog: myworkout.dk

ENTER YVONNE:

It’s that wonderful time of the year when you see pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns everywhere you turn. So I thought to myself, a delicious pumpkin soup would be perfect!

In this recipe I used a pumpkin that is, in fact, a squash. The Japanese squash called Red Kuri Squash otherwise known as Hokkaido, is technically a squash. It has a rich, nutty flavor, making it perfect for a hearty soup. It’s also a rich source of fiber, calcium, potassium and it’s low in calories.

I also added tahini which gave it such a great consistency and flavor. I will definitely be adding this fantastic ingredient to my other soups and dishes in the future.  And last but not least, ginger root. It not only adds a delicious, tangy flavor and aroma, it is also a fantastic anti-inflammatory and anti-flatulence (yes, I said it!) root that also aids in digestion and is great this time of year for warding of colds and coughs.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did!

Ingredients (makes 4 servings)
  • 1 Hokkaido (peeled/chopped in squares)
  • 1/2 an onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small chunk ginger, minced
  • 3 tbs coconut or olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbs. tahini
  • 2 cups water or vegetable/chicken stock
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • juice from 1/2 a lime
  • cayenne pepper, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • coriander or parsley (optional)
Method
  • In a pot, heat the oil over medium heat.
  • Add onion, garlic, ginger and hokkaido squares. Stir and fry till hokkaido begins to soften.
  • Add the water or stock and bay leaves to pot. Cover with lid and allow to simmer on low heat till it begins to boil.
  • Once it’s boiled, check to see if the hokkaido is tender and soft in the center of the squares. If it is, remove the bay leaves and add the tahini and coconut milk.
  • Now it’s time to blender and purée the soup. If you have a blending wand, you can mix the soup right in the pot. If you don’t have one, use a ladle to carefully put the soup in a blender or food processor. Be careful, it is hot! Once it’s blended, return to the pot.
  • Season your puréed soup with the lime juice, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.
  • Top with coriander when serving, if you like.
Carnivore option: add chicken and/or bacon bits ;)

Enjoy! :)

Yvonne Alonso is a certified personal fitness trainer and bikini fitness athlete originally from California and now resides in Denmark. For more healthy recipes and fitness tips, check out her blog at www.myworkout.dk.

This note was originally published at My Workout Food and Fitness Blog. All content and image are used with permission.
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5 Career Tips I Wish I Knew at 21

When I get up and get ready to go to work, I do a lot of usual and a bit of what might be considered unusual things. Like most people, as part of my morning ritual, I press snooze (repeatedly), take a shower, eat breakfast, dress nicely, and (most importantly) sip a cup of coffee. 

As I drink that warm caffeinated elixir, I like to savor the flavor as it slowly (and surely) wakes me up mentally. This is the time when I like to reflect on different parts of my life. It's in no particular order. Whatever comes to my mind is what gets pondered. Sometimes I think about my experiences growing up. In the mix are my childhood, the friends I've made, my accomplishments, things I've been blessed to have, and my career so far. 

As of right now, I can say I've done well in my career. I have a fulfilling role as an educator.  I teach high school English. I'm a role model. I've had hundreds of students over the years. Some are off in college, some aren't. All have left my classroom better than they were when they first walked in. It's a huge responsibility, especially knowing the impact of having (and not having) an education impacts people's entire lives. This is a career I feel blessed to be in.

When I first graduated college, I never thought that I'd have this as my career. I didn't really know what I was going to get myself into. That phase of my life was definitely a struggle. If I could somehow tell my 21 year old self the most important career advice I know now, here is what I'd say:

Uncertainty is Perfectly Okay

No one can predict the future, no one. There is no way to know absolutely everything about what is going to happen in your career or life. There will be times where you feel lost. That's perfectly normal. Being "lost" will give you the space to explore what you like, don't like, and unlock your passions. 

You'll want guidance and direction. It's okay to reach out for it. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness. It's a sign that you want to grow and want to learn from others' experiences.  Even other people don't have all the answers, and that's perfectly fine.

Mistakes Don't Define You; They're Learning Experiences 

Like death and taxes, mistakes are inevitable. Everyone makes them.  What really matters is how you react to them.  Do you see them as a sign to give up? Or do you see it as a sign that something isn't working, so something needs to be adjusted. 

Anytime you try something new, you're bound to make some sort of mistake.  That's okay. What you will learn through experience is minimizing the amount of mistakes you make and dealing with their consequences (hopefully it's not bad at all).

Sometimes making a mistake is painful.  You might've hurt someone you care about.  You let yourself down.  It's not easy.  Getting over it is a process that helps you mature and grow. Owning your mistakes is powerful, so is owning your success.

You Make Your Day; Not the Other Way Around

It might take you some time to realize it, but you are in charge of your life.  I know it may be hard to fully see it, especially because you've had to follow rules and directions from others your whole life. This is one of the most empowering thoughts you've ever been told: you are ultimately in charge of your own life. Your thoughts control your actions.  Your actions affect how life reacts to you. Your family, friends, career, and lifestyle are all directly influenced by your thoughts and actions.  

You get to choose your attitude.  You can choose to be positive or a pessimist.  You can choose to be happy or act with grumpiness.  You may not be able to choose what happens in your life, but you can choose how you react to it.  Act and react with optimism, grace, and manners.  People like being around people who uplift them and are a positive impact on their lives.  

Free Time Can Be More Valuable Than Money

There are two main reasons why many people choose a career: passion and money.  People usually want to be in a career where they can utilize their passion. People also want to make money.  It pays the bills.  Money isn't everything, but it affects your lifestyle. At the beginning of people's careers, people usually don't care about free time, but later on, most of them do.

When people say time is money, they mean it.  Your time at work is valuable, and that's why you get paid to be there.  Your time outside of work is valuable too.  It's YOUR time.  It's your time to rest, relax, and do whatever you need to do.  Free time also gives you the opportunity to do fun things that add happiness into your life.

(By the way, many people become entrepreneurs to give themselves more freedom in their careers. If you're interested, check out Kabbage.com. Kabbage provides small business loans and pride themselves on helping entrepreneurs be productive.)

There is No Work/Life Balance; It's All Life

Achieving and maintaining a work/life balance is a struggle for many adults.  People want to be able to have both a work life and a home life. The truth is, your life can't be separated that way.  There will be times where you are at home and other times at work (sometimes you're at both at the same time).  They both affect each other.  Sometimes they overlap into one another's territory.  Trying to split your life into two or attempting to split your identity between two areas is an idea that is doomed to fail.  

Your life encompasses both home and work.  It's about being flexible and balancing responsibilities from both areas.
...

In hindsight, all this seems to be common sense, but they're all things that I knew, but didn't fully understand until I got older. I know that I can't change my past, but really, I wouldn't change my experiences for anything else.  Everything in my career path (experiences, lessons, and mistakes) led me to who I am now and where I am currently in my career. My wish is that my experiences help others out there who are at the beginning stages of their career.

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My Apology to My Second Son

Dear Son,

I'm trying to be the best dad I can be. I know that you're only six months old and haven't lived that long, but there are a few things I want to apologize for. 

Your mother and I always wanted to have two kids. It seemed to be the perfect size for us. Two is affordable on our income. Two is physically manageable for us (so we thought). We were more than excited when we found out we were having you. 

Since your older brother is only a couple years older than you, I was financially happy knowing that we had saved a lot of your brother's baby stuff. When we found out that you were a boy, I got super excited, not because I wanted to have a boy (I would've been just as happy if you were a girl), but because we could save money by reusing many of your brother's clothes. (In retrospect, if you were a girl, we would've reused your brother's old clothes anyway. A good amount of those clothes are gender neutral.)

So I must apologize for you getting a lot of hand-me-downs. You may not care now, but you probably will as you get older. We're saving as much money as we can right now so we have more to give you later. Just because you get mostly second-hand clothes or (gently) used toys, it doesn't mean I love you any less. 

And really, to me, that's not what I wan to apologize mostly for. Since you're our second child, your "firsts" may seem less special because we've done those things with your older brother before. 

Taking you places is special, but I can honestly say it's different than how it was with your older brother. With him, your mother and I were first time parents; the experience was new to us too. By taking your brother places, we got to see the world anew through his eyes. It was exciting. 

But now when we do those same things with you, it's different. I'm sorry if it seems less special or exciting. I try to make it just as special because I know that it can't be exactly the same, it's going to be different. Before, your mother and I had one child to care for. Now with two young boys, the experience is unavoidably different. 

I want you to know, your mother and I are pouring our hearts into making you feel special.

And on top of my apology, I want to make you some promises.  I promise to give you as less hand-me-downs as possible, especially during the teenage years.  I promise to try not to compare your progress to that of your brother's.  I have to remind myself that every kid is different.  Also, I promise to try my absolute hardest to make all your experiences special, even if we've been through it with your brother already. 

Think of it this way: your mother and I have been dreaming of our family with two kids for the longest time, and now we have what we've wished for.  Now that you're here, we're excited for the upcoming holidays, family vacations, and other experiences to come and spend them with you. What we experience now is our first time experiencing it with both our boys.  It'll be different, and to me, that's special.

Love,
Dad

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8 Great Habits for Both Work and Life

Not too long ago, I spent a summer working in business to business marketing. I basically worked for a consulting company that did direct marketing for an international telecommunications company. I went door to door talking to various businesses to obtain new clients or keep current ones satisfied. During that time, I learned a lot in the business world. 

In order to do my job, I needed to learn logistics quickly, have mental toughness, and pay attention to details. Every day I had to be flexible. Since I met new people daily, every day was an unpredictable adventure. Luckily, the person who mentored me, Carl, was really good at all this. 

One of the things he taught me during my training was the "8 Great Work Habits." They're habits that helped him achieve his massive success (he's currently the president of a successful organization) and that he has instilled in those who work under him. Take a look:

1. HAVE A GREAT ATTITUDE

Attitude affects everything. Your attitude affected your actions and how the world reacts to you. It helps you connect with people. People gravitate towards people who have a positive attitude. They want to be around people who emit a positive aura. 

Having a great attitude keeps you optimistic during the day and gives you a better chance at overcoming challenges. Whatever lies ahead during the day, having a great attitude helps a lot more than not having one.

2. MAINTAIN A GREAT ATTITUDE

It's not enough to just start with a great attitude, keeping it is just as important.  It's just like if you're in a race; it's important to be in first place, but more important to maintain that position until the end of the race.  

I'm not saying that you should always be positive or happy 24/7.  There are times when you receive bad news or may be wronged.  When that happens, having a great attitude means reacting appropriately.

3. BE ON TIME

My parents always made sure they were punctual people.  Whenever we went somewhere new, we left extra early just in case there was traffic or we got lost.  We were almost always early, but always on time.  It's a habit that I can't help but have now (thanks Mom and Dad). 

Being on time shows that you have time management and can use your time wisely.  It also shows that you value not just your time, but other people's time too.  If others can see that you value their time, they're more likely to value yours.

4. BE PREPARED

It's the Boy Scout motto.  Being prepared for any task optimizes your chances of not just getting it done, but more effectively and more efficiently.  

I had a professor in college (hi Dr. Reese!) who often said during class that "battles are won even before the battle begins."  He argued that the better prepared army would be the winner.  It was a metaphor to provoke us to prepare ourselves before our exams. 

In kitchens, chefs setup their stations and arrange their ingredients before they start cutting and cooking.  That way, when an order is placed, all they have to do is cook.  Their preparation saves them time and effort.  The same is true in sports, business, and everything else in life.

5. MAXIMIZE YOUR TIME

This habit is sometimes referred to as "work a full day" or "work a full 8 hours." While that may not apply to everyone's situation, the concept behind it does: maximize your time.  

Everyone has 24 hours in a day, no more or no less.  What we do in that time makes all the difference.  

Maximizing your time takes place in many forms. It could be effectively planning your day beforehand.  It could be spending more time taking action and less time procrastinating.  It looks like more procrastinating and less scrambling.  It's about working smarter and harder (but not to the point of physical exhaustion). 

6. WORK YOUR TERRITORY CORRECTLY

Growing up, I was always taught to be aware of my surroundings.  My surrounding environment could be an advantage or disadvantage based on what I was able to recognize and what I was able to do with it.

In consulting and in sales, I was assigned a certain area. Within that, I had to connect with every business and discuss their telecommunications services.  I was taught "keep it tight to the right," meaning that I would contact a business, and the next one I'd contact was the one to the right of it, and so on.  That was how I maximized the potential of my surroundings.  It ensured that every business in that area was included and no one was excluded.

Now working in education, the same concept applies.  It's all about using my surroundings to my advantage.  I use the resources and technology available to me to effectively prepare my lessons, execute them, grade, contact parents, and finish others tasks throughout the day.

If I'm shopping for stuff at home, I use my knowledge of sales, coupons, and other discounts to find the best deal.  Often I use my smartphone to look up prices among different retailers.  I know what retail stores are in my area.  I can figure out if something is cheaper online.  I use all of my available resources to help me provide for my family.

7. UNDERSTAND YOUR OPPORTUNITY

Opportunity is often misunderstood.  It's everywhere, but the same opportunity isn't always available everywhere.  It's like dating relationships; sometimes timing makes all the difference.  An opportunity that is here now may not be there tomorrow (or even tonight). 

There are three skills that I believe everyone should have: recognizing opportunity, seizing opportunity, and creating opportunity. Being able to see opportunity that is available, especially to you, opens doors.  Actually taking action and seizing an opportunity puts you ahead of people who also see an opportunity, but either don't take action, or do, but don't execute as well as you do. And most importantly, being able to create opportunity gives you a door of possibility wherever you are.  Whatever economic climate or geographic location, being able to find a job (especially in competitive markets) or start your own business is yourself giving yourself opportunity.

8. TAKE CONTROL

Up until recently, this was the habit that I struggled with the most.  Every day I had to practice taking control of a situation and make it work for me.  If I was in a conversation with someone who was sucking up most of my time, my inclination was to politely let her/him talk.  Now I'm better at politely ending the conversation and offering to continue it at another time. 

Taking control isn't about being aggressive, it's about proactively leading your situation. 

...
Even though I had this job years ago, these habits still stick in me. Granted, these habits weren't  all-new to me, but the practice of consciously applying them to my daily work routine benefited me. I grew more as a professional. These habits aren't just great to have at work, but they also are great at helping me have a successful and fulfilled life. 


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5 Reasons Why Laughter is Good for You

Laughter. It's something free and intangible. It's passed around among friends. It's something inherently beautiful.  There's something innocent about laughter.  When people see other people laugh, it's usually a good sign.

In laughter, there are smiles, giggles, and chuckles. Laughter expresses happiness. It shows people that things are alright, even if it's just for the moment.

Laughter helps make the pain go away for a little bit. Some say it's the best kind of medicine. Here's why:
  • According to HelpGuide.org, "laughter triggers the release of endorphins..." which helps our bodies feel good physically and emotionally.
  • Laughter also boosts the immune system. WebMD states that "the ability to use humor may raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies in the body and boost the levels of immune cells, as well." 
  • A study from the University of Maryland Medical Center indicated that laughter may prevent heart disease.  In their study, they found that "people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease."
  • According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter can increase your personal satisfaction by making it easier to cope in difficult situations and helps you connect with others.
  • Melandie Winderlich, from Discovery, states that laughter can also decrease stress, provides a burst of exercise, positively impacts blood sugar levels, and energizes organs.  
There is always a time and place for grief and mourning, but without a doubt, there is always room for a little more laughter in the world. 

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References

"Laughter Is the Best Medicine." : The Health Benefits of Humor. HelpGuide.org. Web. 17 Aug. 2014. <http://www.helpguide.org/life/humor_laughter_health.htm>.

"Stress Management." Stress Relief from Laughter? It's No Joke. Mayo Clinic, 23 July 2013. Web. 17 Aug. 2014. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456>.

Griffin, R. Morgan. "Laughter: Good For Your Health - WebMD." WebMD. WebMD. Web. 17 Aug. 2014. <http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/give-your-body-boost-with-laughter>.

Murray, Michelle. "Laughter Is the Best Medicine for Your Heart." University of Maryland Medical Center. 14 July 2009. Web. 17 Aug. 2014. <http://umm.edu/news-and-events/news-releases/2009/laughter-is-the-best-medicine-for-your-heart>.

Winderlich, Melanie. "10 Reasons Why Laughing Is Good for You : Discovery Channel."Discovery Channel. Web. 17 Aug. 2014. <http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/curiosity/topics/10-reasons-why-laughing-good-for-you.htm>.

6 Insightful, Inspirational, and Motivational Quotes for the Week







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Distractions are Everywhere. Here's Why Being Present in the Moment is Important.

The other morning, my 4 month old son woke up in his crib in a pretty good mood. He didn't wake up screaming, crying, or needing to be changed, so I was thankful for that.  Even more, I was thankful that he was in a pretty good mood.

He was smiling at me.  He was laughing with his little baby chuckles.  He was waving his arms and legs in excitement as if he was dancing. He was having fun. It was awesome.

Part of me wanted to take a picture and post it on Facebook and Instagram. I wanted to share the moment with my friends and family.  But in doing that, I would've distracted myself and disrupted this beautiful moment.  To take the picture, I'd have to go to the other room to get my phone, which could've ruined the moment.  I could see my little happy kid watch me walk away and wonder, "Where the hell did Daddy go?" and freak out.  Then I'd have to actually take the picture by sticking my phone right in front of his face (which he hates). Imagine being a happy kid, with a big smile on his face, spending time with his dad and then a big electronic thingy hovers right above your face and you can't see anything else.  Would you still be smiling? I probably wouldn't either.

Even if I got him to smile, the pictures probably wouldn't have been pretty.  It's dark in the room, so the pictures would look tinted. Since he was moving so much, most of the pictures would have been somewhat blurry.  I might've wasted a few minutes trying to take the perfect shot.  Good thing I didn't.

So I just decided to sit there, smile, and enjoy it.  I knew I wouldn't have a digital souvenir to look at later, but eh, it's alright.  I was fully present. Both physically and mentally, I was giving my infant son my full attention.

It showed him that this moment was important, and so was he.

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