Three Week Challenge: Be Kinder Than You Have to Be….

Why This Will Lead to Greater Peace and Happiness

Be Kinder than You Have to Be
This is one of those “Self Improvement Hacks” that is so simple and so “flowery” that the average person dismisses it without a single thought.

I hope you aren’t average.

We’re all after the same thing – peace, happiness, joy, stress-free days, good health, and more reasons to smile than to frown.

More reasons to laugh than cry. More opportunities to speak positive words than negative ones.

We want happier families and relationships – everyone getting along, laughing, and enjoying life’s ride together.

One of the simplest paths you can take to this “ideal world” doesn’t involve hard work, special talent, acquired skills, or even money.

It simply calls for you to show up!

This challenge is simple: you just have to be kinder than you have to be for three weeks.

What does being kinder than you have to be entail?

  • Saying kind things to others when you’d rather just say, “Hi.”
  • Biting your tongue when you want to ridicule, criticize, or even “tease.”
  • Telling people to have a wonderful day… and meaning it.
  • Asking how their day was, THEN listening and actually caring.
  • Allowing others to think differently than you do.
  • Complimenting people for the sake of seeing them smile.
  • Doing little things that you know will make someone else happy.

The list goes on, but you get the idea – being kinder than you have to be means thinking about THEM instead of YOU.

But here’s the thing. This challenge isn’t even for them. It’s actually for you…. but, shhhh, no one has to know.

 

It won’t even take the full three weeks for you to reap the benefits. I promise you, you’ll feel happier and more at peace almost immediately. Watch how others respond to this kindness and watch how it makes you feel.

It feels good to be make others feel good… so good, in fact, that it’ll become a lifelong habit.

I promise. Please try it. Be kinder than you have to be for three weeks. You’ll never go back to being any other way.  It is truly one of the secrets to happiness, happier families, peace, and even better health.

~ Joi

Trying to Wear too Many Hats Doesn’t Do Anything But Cause Headaches

Sometimes It Pays to Remember You Just Have One Head

Quote About Trying to Do Too Many Things
 

This past week, alone, I’ve witnessed the following:

  • An e-mail from a Christian newsletter publisher talking about treating joint pain.
  • A department store with a bank, clinic, and tax prep booth – all where better shoe, books, and clothing selections once were.
  • A bar-b-que restaurant serving fried fish. BAD fried fish.
  • Another e-mail newsletter (“specializing” in health) talking about relationships.

And it’s just Wednesday!

Is it just me, or are people trying to DO too many different things and BE too many different people these days?

Fast food restaurants may be the worst. There’s even one clown who seems to think he’s Starbucks.  Stick to the fries and burgers, buddy.  Oddly enough, people seem shocked that this restaurant is falling in profits and popularity. That happens when you stop trying to “perfect” what you’re supposed to be doing.

There’s a beauty salon I drive by frequently and it seems that each time something new has joined the lineup: manicures, pedis, botox, fillers, and other things I can’t even pronounce. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to drive by today and see, “Now doing open heart surgery! Get your nails done before you even come to!”

Even my own much, much beloved coffee shops are branching out further and further. Pastries, sandwiches, smoothies, candy, nuts, etc…

Trying to do everything doesn’t perfect anything.

Take the flip side. Think of  Chick-Fil-A, Cracker Barrel, NBA Players, and Waffle House.

  • Chick-Fil-A sticks with chicken. They concentrate solely on what’s on the sign out front and you will not find better chicken in any fast food restaurant.
  • Cracker Barrel doesn’t try to be anything they’re not. They serve great home-style cooking and leave the rest to… well, they leave the rest to the rest.
  • NBA and WNBA Players Defy Logic. Ever think of how incredibly difficult it would be to get a small ball into a hole that’s hanging so far away? All while there are 5 athletes, your size or bigger, giving their all to defeat your purpose?! But these men and women commit themselves to the game and they are just mind-boggling to watch. They specialize in perfecting their game and their conditioning. They do things we can’t even begin to imagine doing because they work at that one thing – basketball.
  • Waffle House? Breakfast food all day, all night. Can you imagine how ludicrous it’d be to see “Now serving lasagna” on the sign out front? A lot of the scenarios we see everyday are just as ludicrous, we’ve just gotten used to them.

Now let’s bring it home to where we live. Do we ever fall into the same traps to the ones above? Of course we do. It’s human nature, I suppose to think, “More = Better.”  Wal-Mart’s reasoning is that if they create essentially a “small city” inside each store, more people will shop there. They think, “Let’s give them a bank, a clinic, a beauty salon, a pharmacy, an Optometrist, a place to do their taxes…”

None of which, of course, makes them a better department store. Ironically, it makes them LESS valuable as a department store because all the other clicks and whistles are squeezing out the LAST things they should be squeezing out. I can remember when Wal-Mart had the cutest, most affordable shoes in town. This was about 10 years ago and their selections have gone downhill since. I guess they just don’t have room for things like that anymore.

Mark my words, Sam Walton would not be a happy man.  Can you imagine what he’d said the first time someone said, “Hey, Mr. Walton, I have a great idea. Let’s put a clinic inside each store!

Don’t get me wrong, I applaud ambition but, like they say, “Ambition without knowledge is like a boat on dry land.”  And since NO ONE knows everything, that stands to reason that a lot of people are treading water they never should have jumped into in the first place.

What happens when an individual tries to do too many things, wear too many hats, and tries to walk on too many different paths? Well, for one thing, they look like a darn fool.

On a more serious level, though, he or she suffers in three key areas:

  1. The MORE they do and try to do, the LESS happy they will be. They find themselves so BUSY trying to do all things and be all things that they’re left with no time to simply enjoy life. Life is passing them by and they never actually even look up long enough to see it. Stress is a particularly ugly monster and he prefers people who have too many hats. They’re like some kind of signal to him – he thinks, “Easy prey!”  How can you tell if stress is sneaking up on you or already has you in his clutches? I think the easiest way is to ask yourself how your RESPOND to situations and people. Do relatively small things set you off? Do things that once wouldn’t even measure a blip on your radar now cause your heart rate to speed up, your neck muscles to tense up, and an angry disposition to show up. Sure signs of stress…. and since stress leads NOWHERE good, deal with it today.
  2. The GO! GO! GO! mentality creates physical problems that can be deadly. Heart disease, hypertension, and even gastrointestinal problems can, and are, directly linked to this type of hyper lifestyle and mindset.  Have you ever seem someone in the throes of thinking they had to do a million and one different things? I swear, sometimes they even forget to breath.
  3. Relationships Suffer. While this is the last one in the list, it certainly is not the least. Moms and dads who think they HAVE to work extra long hours at the expense of actually spending time with their children are making one of the biggest mistakes known to man or womankind. It’s also one of the mistakes they’ll, one day, regret the most.  The same can be said for husbands and wives who become so wrapped up in “making money,” “having more,” and “getting caught up…” when every topic of conversation revolves around these subjects, the stage is set for misery.

Life isn’t something we’re going to be able to get out and enjoy for hundreds of years, you know. If you’ve become so busy that work or money are all you ever think or talk about and you’re forever looking for your next hat – do yourself (and everyone in your life) a favor…

  • slow down
  • breath
  • live in the moment
  • enjoy life

Your level of happiness will rise with each hat you cast aside.  Life is to be enjoyed, not rushed through.

~ Joi

Infographic: 6 Ways to Conquer Your Fears

19 Million People (in the US Alone) Suffer Phobias!

6 Great Ways to Conquer Your Fears

I thought it was deliciously ironic that I received this infographic to share with you on the same day I had the last post (Overcoming Fear: Truth Be Told It’s Pretty Darn Cool) scheduled. Things happen like that so often that I’m really not even surprised any more… I just think, “Meant to be,” and have another drink of coffee.

Credit: 6 Great Ways to Conquer Your Fears [Infographic] by the team at Vegas Extreme Skydiving

 

Overcoming Fear: Truth Be Told, It’s Just Pretty Darn Cool

How Our Mind Can Both Create and Solve the Same Problem

Canoeing at Sunset
 

My husband and I recently took a canoe trip on one of Kentucky’s many beautiful lakes.  For most people, this would simply be another beautiful adventure in the great outdoors. But for someone, like me, who has a “nearly” paralyzing fear of bodies of water larger than a bathtub and a “totally” paralyzing fear of snakes, it was like riding a roller-coaster at an old abandoned amusement park… a roller-coaster without seat belts in an old abandoned amusement park.

A roller-coaster without seat belts in an old abandoned amusement park being operated by a clown with an evil laugh.

OK. You get the idea.

When we set off from the safety of the land (I really, really love land) and the canoe started swaying “too far” that way, then overcompensated by swaying “too far” in the other direction, my mind went full on “fight or flight mode.” It started coming up with scenarios that could get my feet right back on the nice safe land. I thought,  “I could say I forgot something…” then, when my husband said, “What?” I could say, “I forgot to stay in the car.”

Then, I thought, “I could say I’m sick… and it won’t be that much of a stretch…”

By the time I was deciding on one approach, I realized we’d gotten too far away from precious land. Frankly, I didn’t have any intention of ruining the husband’s day by making him step in my chicken &$!^.

Just as my brain tried to console itself by thinking, “At least we haven’t seen a s-n-a-k-e yet…” guess what slithered by the canoe with its head held up high, trying to get away from us as fast as possible.

That’s right.  A s-n-a-k-e.  My brain spells it out… makes them seem less real.

Here’s the kicker. I thought he (she???  – how in the heck would you know??) was downright cute.  The whole head up above the water while the body tried frantically to get it to safety made me feel both a kinship and a pity for it.

It was cute. There I said it.

I even somehow managed to raise the camera I was holding in a death-clutch and tried to take a picture of him (her). It was too fast, its fight or flight speed left mine in the dust.

It wasn’t long before I had actually relaxed enough to actually speak. I managed to tell Michael that I was going to need lots and lots of chocolate when we got off that lake.

Chocolate is my adult pacifier.

By the time we’d seen beavers, an epic beaver lodge, herons, eagles, ospreys, geese, and deer (in the distance… they weren’t swimming out there, now THAT would have freaked me out), I was having the time of my life. As the sun began to set, I realized that our canoe trip was nearly over and I actually felt a sense of regret.

Then I remembered the chocolate and all was well.

What I took away from the entire situation was this: Sometimes we tell ourselves SO OFTEN that we’re afraid of this, or we’re afraid of that that we cause the fear to seem larger than it actually is. We make it a huge monstrous two-headed beast when it’s actually usually much smaller, not that monstrous, and has just the one head.

When we allow fear to dominate us, we’re actually giving it too much credit and ourselves not nearly enough.

One thing that helped me fairly early in the canoe trip was a certain little “mental checklist” I did.  I asked myself what was the worst case scenario and what I would do if it came to pass.

I determined that if the canoe flipped and I found myself in deep water approached by a s-n-a-k-e, intent on using my soaked body as a buffet, I would club it with my oar. My brain also reminded me that I could always climb back into the canoe and that, after all, I was wearing a life jacket.

After I saw the you-know-what fleeing the scene, it also occurred to me that a clubbing wouldn’t even be necessary. I’d have to chase it to do so and I have no intention of doing that.

Ironically, I was ITS huge monstrous two-headed beast.

During the canoe trip, I also got a live, up close look at what irrational fear looks like. In a canoe near us, a “football player size” teenage boy nearly turned the canoe he and his girlfriend were in completely over. Seriously, they were inches from landing in the water.

He caused such a commotion, their canoe swayed like Gilligan’s ship in the opening credits and I still have no idea how it kept from wrecking.

Come to find out… he did all of that because he saw a spider. I’m not even kidding you.  As I was laughing at the big ole boy afraid of a tiny little spider, my over-stimulated and shot out mind asked me, “What are YOU laughing at, snake charmer?”

The day was as enlightening as it was entertaining.  My irrational fear came thisclose to ruining it for both me and my husband and I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am that I chose “fight” instead of “flight.”

It’s not an overstatement to say that it made me stronger. Winning battles does that – especially when you’re your own opponent.

Our minds are utterly fascinating and utterly powerful.  While this may seem like a reach, It’s one I’m willing to risk: Our minds determine the world in which we live.

We pretty much create the world we live in all between our ears. If we want something to be beautiful, it will be beautiful.

If we want to find fault in a person or a situation, we will be able to find as many as we’d like.

If we want to make a situation fearful, we won’t have to break a sweat, we can make it horror-story quality.

I’m sure you’re asking the same thing I am… why would we want to create anything negative?  Why would we desire to create anything frightening or ugly?

Unless we’re as crazy as crazy has a right to be, we want our world to be beautiful, peaceful, and infinitely happy. Right? Well, the good news is we have the power to set it on the right track.

This power is our mind.

Next time your mind tells you something is scary, ugly, or even hideous, don’t just take its word for it (especially if it spells it out). Step back from the situation, take a deep breath, and create the world in which you truly want to live.

~ Joi

Your Turn: What are your own personal phobias or fears and what have you done to overcome them? Anyone else “highly cautious” around snakes?!

Canoeing

Prevent Dementia with Smart Food Choices

Out of Bounds
5/4/2015

Dementia (including the most fearsome type of dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease) has become as feared in our society as cancer. Fortunately, there are proactive changes we can make to greatly reduce our odds of getting dementia. In addition to getting plenty of physical and mental activity – eating a healthy diet is absolutely essential.

Read more about brain foods that’ll help prevent dementia by clicking the link.

Heart Healthy Benefits of Drinking Your Heart’s Favorite Drink: Green Tea!

How Tea Can Help You Prevent Heart Disease

Cup of Green Tea
 

The health benefits of green tea are legendary.  I could, I’m certain, write a 6,000 word essay on the powers of green tea and still not cover half of the information.  Since I have a lunch date with my family in a few hours, I won’t launch into that right now.  I know one thing, though, as usual, I’ll be ordering tea to drink.

Green tea isn’t just one of the smartest drinks anyone can choose, it might just be THE smartest one an individual at risk for heart disease could choose. Given the sobering fact that, each year, roughly 1.5 million Americans have a heart attack, it makes sense to do absolutely everything to make sure we don’t fall within this number. When lowering our risk is as simple as choosing the right drink to pour into our glass, it’d be ridiculous not to jump on board.

The following excerpt from Prevent a Second Heart Attack lays it all out beautifully:

Just like chocolate, tea is a form of plant food – and plants contain a plethora of phytochemicals that, when stacked together, will maximize the strength of your daily heart disease defense system. No doubt about it, a few daily cups of tea, and especially green tea, can provide cardiovascular protection via antioxidant and anti-inflammatory mechanisms.

There are three main varieties of tea – black, oolong, and green – and all are derived from the tea plant known as Camellia sinensis (Countless herbal infusions are informally referred to as “tea,” but these are unrelated to real tea produced from Camellia sinensis). Teas are classified based on how the leaves are processed, with the leaves of green tea being the least processed of the three varieties. Green tea is dried but not fermented; hence it retains the greatest amount of polyphenols.

What exactly is in green tea that wards off heart disease? Researchers believe that the primary therapeutic component in green tea is another type of flavonoid, the catechin family of plant polyphenols, found in exceptionally high concentration.  The most abundant of the green tea polyphenols is called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG for short. EGCG is believed to be the most active health-protective component in green tea. (Incidentally, green tea contains 40 percent more polyphenols than black tea.)  According to researchers out of the University of Hong Kong, EGCG is a highly effective agent for lowering inflammation in the bloodstream as well as reducing oxidation of LDL, thereby protecting against plaque buildup.  – Page 225, Prevent a Second Heart Attack by Janet Bond Brill, PH.D., R.D., LDN

Did you know that research shows that drinking tea may reduce the risk of death following a heart attack. A study showed that people who drank two or more cups a day had a 44 percent lower death rate following their heart attacks than did non-tea drinkers.

Some of the health benefits of drinking tea may come from the fact that it keeps you from drinking soft drinks and diet soft drinks – both of which aren’t even remotely healthy.  It’s always the right time for tea… so I think I’ll go have a cup right now. – Joi

You can read my Prevent a Second Heart Attack Review by clicking the link. The article includes GREAT advice on heart health whether you’re looking to prevent a first or second heart attack! The author also answers some questions about heart health and heart attack prevention.

See Also: I’m not just a tea drinker or a tea lover… I’m actually a Crazy Tea Chick. Click the link for my tea blog!

Dealing With Stress and Stress Triggers

Often Finding Peace Means Making Peace

 

Sweet Hannah

Hannah: One of the Sweetest Cats to Ever Cat

Have you ever seen an individual in the throes of stress?  They look like they have it worse than anybody on earth. They act like the entire world… and possibly even God, Himself, is out to get them.

Some lash out in a temper tantrum like a 5 year old that’s being forced to leave the McDonald’s playground.  Others sulk like one that never made it to the playground in the first place.    Still others internalize their stress – keeping it all in and under wraps, at least for the time being. I say for the time being because, it’s sure to come out eventually and when it does… you don’t want to be anywhere near the event.

Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness. – Richard Carlson

Stress can be sneaky.  You can think you have a handle on it, but next thing you know,  every little thing seems to set you off.    After a while, you don’t even realize that SO MANY things are getting under your skin. You get so used to the feeling, you think it’s normal.

The saddest thing about this is the fact that you’re wasting precious moments, hours, days, weeks, months, and years of happiness and peace.

As far as I’m concerned, happiness and peace are two of the most beautiful words in the entire world.  Why let anything stand between you and these two beauties?!

If any of this sounds remotely like you, I have good… make that great… news for you. You don’t have to live at stress’ mercy.  You can do something about it and, quite frankly, the fact that you’re still reading means you are WELL on your way.

Coping Techniques for Stress

There are coping techniques for stress that you can experiment with.  Use these techniques in your own life and find the ones that bring more peace into your life and happiness into your days.

There are those beautiful words again.

Blowing up, internalizing, sulking, stressing – these are all things that are causing damage inside your body.  If you could somehow look inside and see what your inability to handle stress is doing, you’d find a way…. make a way… to cope.

I’m not judging and I’m not condemning.  I’m probably the least judgmental person you’ll ever encounter.  I get that everyone is different and I, honestly, love that fact.  I also have read enough, observed enough, and simply know through good old common sense that everyone reacts to things differently.  On any given day, three people can get a flat tire and each will react differently:

  1. One may cuss, pound the steering wheel, and search for the nearest person to blame – the road crew, the city, construction workers, the spouse (always a good one), God (yeah… He’s always home and has nothing better to do than pop tires), etc.  The blamers of life are real pills, aren’t they?  My oldest daughter and I watched a man outside of a coffee shop one afternoon a while back.  Something wasn’t quite right under the hood of his truck and he put on a display unlike anything I’ve seen in a while.  He hit the hood, he screamed at his mortified wife, he stomped, he kicked…  Some people were laughing at him, my daughter said he was “gross” and I just went back to my coffee hoping I never met him face to face.
  2. One may tear up and have a little “poor me, nothing ever goes right for me” cry.
  3. The third one might just say, “Wow, didn’t need that, but at least no one was hurt.  Oh well, if this is the worst thing that happens to me today, I’ve got it made.

One person isn’t OVER ALL any better, smarter, or cooler than the other two.   Each simply copes differently.  The thing is, when we get to the place where we’re able to cope with stress like the individual in the third example, we’ll enjoy life more, we’ll function better, our health will be better, our relationships will be sweeter and we won’t be spectacles for others to laugh at, call gross, or wish we’d never even seen in the first place.

Irregardless of how we react to it, stress is a most unwelcome guest.  Like all unwelcome guests, it boils down to two choices:

  1. Get rid of it. If there is anything within your power to deal with what is stressing you out, do so. Most things are within our control – it’s just easier to “hope” for change than it is to “work” for it.  If you are physically, mentally, or emotionally unable to deal with it – find someone who can help you. There is no shame in asking for help – we all have to every now and then. And if it helps get rid of stress, isn’t it worth it?
  2. Learn to deal with it. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but sometimes you just have to make peace with a situation.  This is especially true when what’s causing your stress within someone else’s hands. You cannot control other people, and shouldn’t even want to, if we’re being honest.

Let’s take a closer look at the second one… learning to deal with it, simply because this is the water most of us will find ourselves wading through.  Often the things that cause us to “stress out” are things that we simply have no control over. The economy, politics, the media, sports, our grown children’s decisions – we’ll simmer over these worries until we’ve worked ourselves into a bundle of stressed out negative energy.

Over things we can’t control! What a waste of time and emotion. When we let things “get to us,” simply realizing it is the first step.  Taking a deep breath (two, if it involves our children), and acknowledging that this is something beyond our reach is the next step.

The third step is where the magic is – make peace with it. Remind yourself, “You don’t have to like it… you certainly don’t have to love it. But you will not let it rob you of another minute of peace.”

As usual, this makes me think of animals… everything makes me think of animals! Recently, a MUCH loved cat of mine (Hannah) had approached old age.

Very old age, to tell you the truth.

During the last months of her life, she lost weight and just wasn’t herself. As someone who has, literally, had cats all of her life, I saw (but hated) the writing on the wall. I found myself getting so stressed out and sad over it that I realized that I wasn’t enjoying the time I had left with her as much as I should have been. When she first began losing weight and looking like the little old lady that she was, I found myself feeling heartbroken and sad when I was around her. Sometimes I’d even start to cry because I knew time was running out.

I caught myself one day, though, and made up my mind to stop focusing on the negative and concentrate on the positive. I’d had this beautiful little cat in my life for many years and whether it was months, weeks, or days that I had left with her – they were going to be happy days.  Days celebrating her living, not days dreading her dying. I made peace with something that was the last thing I wanted to make peace with. However, it was inevitable and you know what fighting with the inevitable causes, right?

STRESS.

I did, of course, lose Hannah to old age. But I chose (and choose) to focus on the fact that I had one of the sweetest-natured, most beautiful, and spoiled rotten cats ever! She was my constant companion when I walked, did yard work, or just sat on the ground with her. She loved having her picture taken and would ALWAYS roll onto her back to show off her belly. She was uncommonly proud of that belly!

We gave her a wonderfully happy life and she brought more sunshine into our lives than you can imagine.

Sometimes if you want find peace, you simply have to make peace.

After all, when you think of peace, what do you think of as its “opposite?” War, right?  If you aren’t living “at peace,” you are living “at war.” How miserable and unhealthy does that sound?!

Stress Triggers

Before you can actually deal with stress, however, you have to identify your triggers.  In the example above, the man in front of the coffee shop obviously couldn’t cope with adversity.  (Good luck with life, buddy.)   I also wonder if a little bit of feeling helpless had something to do with his performance.  After all, if he knew what to do, wouldn’t he have been doing it rather than acting a fool?  The lashing out at his wife was probably somewhat of a defensive reaction to keep from showcasing that he didn’t know what to do.  (Pick up the phone… call someone who does… easy peasy…)

We can’t all know everything and there is no shame in simply smiling and saying, “I know as much about this as I do the mating habits of the blue footed boobie.”  There never has been and there never will be any shame in admitting that you’re human.

Some of my favorite people in the world are human.

Other people are triggered, seemingly, when they think the world isn’t doing enough for them or giving them enough.

My advice for these people is this:   The world doesn’t owe you anything.  If this is your thinking, let me hasten to point out that you’ve got it all twisted…. You owe the world.  Start giving and you won’t have time to throw a pity party.  Also, while you’re at it, stop complaining that others aren’t doing enough for you.  If you want something done, do it. Try this on for a while:  Go out of your way to do things for other people.  Compliment them, smile at them, help them out whenever and however you can.

There’s a great old saying, What goes around comes around – maybe you’ve been living that out and what you’re receiving is what you’ve been giving… or, in this case, haven’t been giving.

Just a thought.

A third stress trigger is feeling overwhelmed – like life is just giving you too much at one time.  We’ve all been there and few of us ever want to go back.

The emotions, turmoil, and so forth that surrounded my mom’s sudden death in 2006 left me feeling like I was completely and totally spent.   If not for prayer and an outstanding family, I might still be in bed with the covers over my head.

I actually remember the day that I “got up,”  emotionally.  I hadn’t physically stayed in bed for days after losing my mom, but my spirit sure did. With the covers pulled tightly around its head.

Then, one day, I was in the back of the house and I heard my husband and our youngest daughter in the front of the house looking for something.  I knew that, not only was this dynamic duo completely helpless when it came to finding anything, they’d make a colossal mess trying.  I flipped a switch that I’d forgotten even existed and, literally, rejoined my family.

Sometimes we have to admit that we’ve “gone under.”  Make no mistake about it, we all do at one time or another – we feel overwhelmed and worn out.  The trick is not to stay there.  Remember Lao-Tzu’s words, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  If relationships, finances, work, or another potent opponent has you on the ropes…. or even if it has knocked you to the mat!… you have a choice to make:  Are you going to stay there or are you going to fight back?

The answer to your triggers, your problems, your adversities, and your stress lies inside of you.  Find someplace quiet and sort things out.  Stop placing blame on anyone, beginning with yourself.  Blame is the most irrelevant and useless expense of energy I can think of.  Forge past blame, forge past self-pity, and forge past anger. Find the solution you need to either remove your personal stress from your life or determine how you’ll learn to deal with it.

Life is too precious and the world is too beautiful to spend any measurable time whatsoever “on edge” or “stressed out.”

 

‘Cause You Got Per-son-al-ity

Walk Personality, Talk Personality, Smile Personality...

Personality Song Lyrics
 

I have always LOVED the song  (You’ve Got) Personality by Lloyd Price. What a voice. In fact, I think his is one of the best voices that have ever carried a tune… and this man carried the heck out of it.

There’s actually a method to my madness today – I’m not just posting cool song videos or doing unsolicited music reviews to suit my fancy (though it most certainly suits it fine). I was making a graphic for an old article I wrote about personalities. As I read over the article, each time I read the word personality, I read it as “per-son-al-ity” – and, you guessed it, it was to the tune of Lloyd Price’s song.

By the time I was through with the graphic, I knew I had to make another one (the one above) while listening to the song.

On repeat.

Click the following link to check out the old post: Is Your Personality an Asset or a Liability? but first, listen to the wonderful song below.

What. A. Voice.

Money Secrets from C-Suite Coach Tony Robbins

What three things does self-help guru Tony Robbins think anyone can and should do to catch their next big break?

In an interview with Rebecca Jarvis, the host of Real Biz with Rebecca Jarvis and ABC News’ chief business and economics correspondent, Robbins shares his secret to creating the best strategy to break through barriers and get results in the shortest period of time. Click the link above to see what he has to say!

 

10 Tips for Starting Your Own Blog

There's A Lot to Consider Before You Write Your First Word

Alexa

My boss, Alexa, questioning a post title.

I recently received an e-mail from a VERY sweet lady who was interested in beginning her own inspirational blog. She asked, like many have over the years, if I had any tips, suggestions, or advice.

I thought I could actually best serve her (and possibly even you, if you have an interest in this sort of thing) by devoting a post to the subject.

Jumping right into the Top 10, I will start with the most important tip of all….

 1.  Be absolutely certain this is what you want to do. I’m certainly not trying to talk anyone out of their decision to have a blog – far from it. If you have equal amounts of time, determination, and ability – having your own blog can be extremely rewarding. There are many great benefits – running the gamut from earning a little extra income to honing your writing skills. If your subject requires research, you can also keep your mind sharp… which, let’s face it, is always a good thing.

However, as someone who has done this for well over 10 years, I feel it’s only fair to point out a few things:

  • Running a blog takes a great deal of work.  It isn’t simply a matter of typing out a few thoughts and popping a picture at the top. The reason you see SO many abandoned blogs along the internet highway is the fact that what looks so easy and simple really isn’t. At all. It takes time and it takes commitment. For anyone with a full-time job, I’d strongly consider thinking long and hard before jumping into something that’ll take more time away from recess.  I work, full time, from home and even I find the work load to be overwhelming at times. When it’s time to get up and fix supper or clean house, I often find myself jumping out of my seat like a kid at the end of a school day.  Bottom line? It’s work.  Frustrating line? Few people see it as such.
  • There are a lot of “technical” aspects to blogging that you’ll need to learn – preferably before you even buy your domain. You’ll need to have at least a “good” understanding of search engines (seo – search engine optimization – will become a permanent resident in your subconscious thoughts).  You’ll also need to learn the rules and regulations of using content and pictures (basically, use your own – more about that later), “plugins,” link-building, disclaimers, privacy statements, graphics, themes, etc.  If you’re accustomed to Facebook or Tumblr, beware that having a blog is nothing like these social media websites.  A lot of people have the misconception that it’s basically the same thing, and it really isn’t. At all.
  • There are costs involved. If you’re going to run a website or blog, and do it right, there are costs involved. I’ll spell them out below, but (again, unlike Facebook and other social media sites), it isn’t free.
  • Speaking of social media websites…  You can create a great following and help tons of people simply by being active on Twitter, Facebook, or another social media website.  If you were to decide that having your own blog IS more work than you’d counted on, you don’t have to give up on reaching out to people or throw out the idea of expressing yourself creatively. Simply build a following on your favorite social media website and interact there.
  • Finally, consider guest posts. I work with people on each of my blogs in the area of guest posts. If an individual is not promoting a website or product that isn’t relevant to my subject, I am more than happy to consider publishing their article or articles on one of my websites. I’ve published quite a few on Self Help Daily, alone.  The authors of these posts are credited, of course, and have an opportunity to reach people they might not otherwise have the chance to reach.  Guest posts are simple to do – simply search out blogs that are relevant to your subject and contact the owner. Ask if they accept guest posts and ask if you can submit one for consideration. I’ve often had people ask me if there’s a particular subject I’d like for them to write about… I always think that’s pretty cool. Just be sure to only submit original articles that you have written yourself and never submit the same article more than once. Once a blog has published an article, it’s done – don’t ever submit the same on anyplace else. It’s called duplicate content and it’s bad, bad, bad. Suffice to say, it’s a terrible way to get on a website owner’s good side.

 2. Decide on Your Niche.  If you’re still reading, I assume you either are wholly committed to the idea or are simply one of those people who follow through anything they begin to the end. Either way – my hat’s off to you!

If you are certain you want to make the commitment to having your own blog, decide upon your subject. While some “personal blogs” are successful, most people do not enjoy reading what the average person eats, drinks, or thinks.  And selfies? Yeah, you can probably go ahead and keep them to yourself.

People are more interested (understandably!) in how THEY can get more out of life. They’re interested in how you can help them improve themselves and, as a result, improve their life.

They don’t care as much about seeing you happy as they care about what you can do to make them happy.

You need a good, solid “niche” (subject) and this niche needs to be obvious to your readers right away. If you have something to offer people that is worthwhile… something that can help them.. then you have solid ground to build on.

 3. Take a Look at What’s Already Out There. This one’s tough to explain, but I’ll do my level best.  If your subject is one that is uncommonly popular, you’re probably going to be one small fish in a great big ocean.  For example, if anyone were to start a food blog today, they’d be up against it. WAY up against it.  Not only are there countless recipe websites online (Food Network, Cooking Channel…), every conceivable food product has their own website – complete with, you guessed it, recipes. Add Pinterest, with it’s limitless recipes, and a food blogger has their work cut out for them. How do I know? I’m a food blogger! I began my food blog Get Cooking! many years ago.  I didn’t do it for any other reason than the fact that I loved to cook and experiment with recipes and I wanted a “cool” place to accumulate my recipes, tips, and advice for my three daughters.  Over the years, competition for visitors to a food blog has become nuts. The tricky thing is – you want your subject to be popular enough for people to care… but not so popular that… well, again, you end up a tiny little fish swimming with sharks. If you DO decide to run with a subject that’s greatly saturated, just be sure you stand out!  Look at the different blogs in your niche – take a good look at the top 10 that show up in Google. Ask yourself (honestly) if there’s anything that you could or would do differently.

 4. You’ll Need a Domain Name. From the start, I have used GoDaddy.com for all of my domains.  They are completely trustworthy, dependable, and have a stellar reputation. In the RARE event a problem does arise, their people are lightning fast in responding to the issue. You’ll want to choose a domain name that’s easy to remember and easy to spell. When naming your website and choosing your domain name, be sure to (again) search on Google and make sure you aren’t stepping on any toes that are already on the dance floor.  You pay for a domain name yearly , but it’s a very low price – around $12 – $15.

 5.  You’ll Also Need a Reliable Host.   GoDaddy.com also offers hosting but I’ve always used HostGator. Completely trustworthy and helpful  – plus, I’m pretty crazy about the gator. You can find all of the information you need about domains and hosting on either one of these websites. Each spell everything out beautifully and there are always helpful experts on the other side of the phone or e-mail.

6. You’ll Must Have WordPress.  A lot of articles about “starting your own blog” will outline your different options. Not me. I’m just going to tell you, flat out, you need WordPress. It’s free and it’s the best platform for your blog. The best plugins and “themes” are made with WordPress in mind and, when it comes to your readers, it’s by far the best.

7. You’ll Need a Theme. A blog theme is basically it’s “design.”  There are free themes available, and you’ll be able to access a great number of these as soon as you install WordPress. However, free themes can come with a lot of headaches and, no matter what you do, they will almost always look as free as they are. If you plan to treat your blog as a business, you’ll want to purchase a premium theme. A quick Google search (“Premium WordPress Themes”) will give you plenty to choose from.  Before purchasing one, be sure to read different reviews of the theme and theme’s creator. Also, look at their different demos, and ask yourself, “How much tweaking and customizing went into this? Is it something I could do?”  Most of us weren’t born with the information to code or design websites or blogs. It’s incredibly complicated, in fact, so be sure you find the most intuitive and easy-to-use and understand theme possible.  I stand 110 percent behind the GetNoticed Theme.  In fact, I tend to get annoyed with my blogs that aren’t yet sporting this theme!

8. Graphics and Headers, Oh My!  See the “logo” at the top of the page – it says “Self Help Daily – Inspirational Blog with a Save the World Complex.”  This is called a “header” and your blog will most assuredly need one of these. 9 out of 10 people are best served by finding someone online (a graphic artist) to hire for this part of the process.  Unless you have Photoshop (EXPENSIVE!) and some experience with graphic art, paying someone to design a logo for you would be the smartest way to go.  They’ll need to know the dimensions (information found within your theme), colors, whether you want it to be transparent or not, and possibly even some information about the font(s) you had in mind.  If you find a graphic artist you’re thrilled with, be sure to keep them in mind for future work.

 9. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words. When it comes to content and pictures you publish on your website, you can find endless advice online about what pictures to use, where to find “free, loyalty-free images,” etc.  Yet again, I guess you could say my advice is narrow-minded…. use your own.  People have been taken to court for using other people’s pictures. Actually, it happens every day. Personally, I don’t even trust the websites that tell you to use their pictures free because, unless I know where that picture came from… how do I know IT wasn’t once taken from someone else?! I’d much rather eliminate all worry and prevent all headaches by only using only pictures I (or a member of my family, of course) have taken.  I also simply make a lot of graphics – such as the quote graphics you see everywhere on the website. These are perfect for a blog because they’ll be shared on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. If you use someone’s quote on your blog, always give their name and never post anyone’s content as your own.

10.  If You’re Looking to Make Money…. Sorry, Charlie, it’s the rare fish that strikes it rich. Maybe it’s because this blog is an inspirational, self-help blog, but most of the people I hear from aren’t looking to start a blog for money as much as they are simply interested in reaching out and helping others. However, most people DO think, “Eh, I can make my own blog and make a lot of money… people will pay me to advertise, people will buy books….”  When I come across that mindset, I think, “Bless your heart…. bless your heart..”

Blogging is like anything else, really – sometimes people strike it rich, but most of the time they don’t get anywhere near anything resembling rich.  The only “riches” I’ve ever known had last names… and there was only one of them:  Rich Brooks, a former UK Football coach.

And I never even met him!

Yes, there are more people online than ever before – common sense would tell you that this is where the money is, right? Problem is this: The internet is saturated with websites and social media. There are thousands upon thousands of websites covering every niche known to man, woman, or cat.  The streams of income that were once “handsome” online are starting to look downright “homely.”

Social Media can be a two-edged sword. While it can, hopefully, be used to draw people to your website – the competition for people’s attention has never been greater.  A great, great, great number of people… when they get online… go to Twitter or Facebook and that’s it.  They jump on, then they jump off. You have a small window of opportunity to catch them and pull them to your blog.

It can be done, mind you – but, again, it takes work.  It takes time, self-confidence, determination, elbow grease, and… to be perfectly honest… more than a little stubbornness.

BONUS Tip: A somewhat thick skin will serve you well. People can be jerks sometimes and putting yourself “out there” invites the jerks to approach you. Whether on Twitter, in e-mail, or in your blog’s comments, the jerks will appear from time to time.  They seemingly have no life of their own to speak of, so they’ll simply try to bring you down to their  level of misery.  There are spell check police who degrade you if you accidentally leave an i or an e out of a word, there are clowns who are anti-God, anti-America, and anti-just about anything you can think of who just sit out there ready to pounce on anyone who DARES to be pro anything, and there are simply people who live to start stuff.

Years ago, I tried to reason with the jerks of the world. I’d be as sweet and hospitable as my Kentucky upbringing demands. Southern charm would ooze out.

More times than not, approaching jerks that way is about as effective as spraying perfume over a cow pasture.

You have to realize that miserable people try to spread misery the way happy people try to spread happiness. Always remind yourself that the problem lies with them, not you. If you allow them to make you miserable, they’ve won.  Come on now… that’s the last thing we want!

Spray a little perfume, if you must, then walk away as fast as possible before you step in anything.

If you have any questions and/or advice, please leave a comment below.

~ Joi

Alexa


At the end of a long day!