Paying it Forward

Practicing random acts of kindness and “paying it forward” have huge benefits for the soul.They probably help the “helper” more than the “helpee” by improving mood, state of mind, and overall life satisfaction.

Here are a few ways you can increase the level of joy in your life by paying it forward.Some are small, some are big- but all will provide lasting benefits to society, and individual, and yourself.

  • Organize a carpool to save gas and help the environment
  • Start a recycling program at work or school
  • Donate a few dollars to a charity of your choice
  • Volunteer for Meals on Wheels– or just prepare a meal yourself and drop it off to someone in need
  • Start a compost pile for your food waste, and invite your neighbors to “help themselves”
  • Organize a school clean up day
  • Host a foreign exchange student
  • Become a foster parent
  • Foster a rescue dog
  • Start a neighborhood watch program
  • Turn on some music, and invite a loved one to dance
  • Post a gratitude blog
  • Volunteer to help a charity apply for grant money
  • Volunteer for a cause
  • Donate your hair to an organize that provides wigs to cancer patients
  • Instead of birthday presents, ask for donations to your favorite charity
  • Shop local
  • Sponsor a potluck lunch or dinner at work
  • Organize a neighborhood block party
  • Volunteer to be the designated driver
  • Mentor a less-experienced coworker
  • See someone who’s had too much to drink? Volunteer to pay for their taxi home
  • Send flowers to someone when its not a special occasion…just because
  • Ask an older relative about their life experiences, and document them for other family members
  • Organize a family reunion
  • Chat with random strangers on the bus
  • Smile at at least one stranger a day
  • Pay for the order of the person behind you in the drive through
  • Let someone with fewer items than you go ahead of you in the checkout line
  • Volunteer a few pennies tosomeone who doesn’t have change, to avoid them having to break a larger bill

How to Enjoy the Great Outdoors

No matter how you were raised or where you were born, you may have a craving for wide open spaces. For a lot of us, this desire can be met with a walkthrough the wilds. Simply ensure you are completely ready for your excursion!

First, get a high quality backpack that is comfortable.Then, assemble the following essentials:

Trail Map/Guide – Be sure you are in possession of a valid guide to the region, with details of hiking trails — whether it is a comprehensive atlas or a printed pamphlet.

Compass – As you can not always use the sun as a guide to your position, you need a compass to accurately gauge your location.A compass works even if it’s cloudy.

Cell phone – Outdoor exercise should provide you with a rest from tech devices; however, having a mobile for emergencies could be a lifesaver. You can’t rely on having a signal so that you can use its GPS functionality– (This could also waste your battery) — but make sure you have one for scenarios that are serious.

Water – When performing any type of exercise, you needs lots of hydration.Bring a refillable bottle that filters water automatically, or take chemical pills to purify water. You might need a water pouch, worn on your back – like a Camelback – if you’re going out for a long trip and sources of water are uncertain.

– Make sure to have a total day’s worth of calories on hand, even if you’re only planning on being out for a few hours.

Consider bringing fruit, power bars, granola, trail mix, beef or turkey jerky, whole grain bread or rolls, and peanut-butter.

First-aid kit – Bring a small container with bandaids, fine tip tweezers, alcohol or betadine wipes, cotton gauze pads, a small pair scissors, and adhesive medical tape.

Additional clothing – Besides the garments you’re wearing, bring extra clean drysocks, a pair of gloves, as well as a hooded rain jacket.Be sure you are wearing quality hiking boots, lightweight long pants, and a lightweight long sleeved shirt.

Whistle – Being able to summon help is essential if you are injured or when you are lost.

Fire starting gear – Pack something to use to start a fire in an emergency- this could include water proof matches, flint, or fire sticks.

Multi-use tool– Make sure that among the tools included are a knife,locking blade, wood saw, reamer, scissors, and pliers.

Torch – Even in the event that you plan to return before dark, have a little LED torch with fresh batteries — in your back pack.

Insect repellent – There are all types of bugs in the outdoors. Whether the area is infested with mosquitoes, ticks, or other insects, you’ll want to have a high quality repellent with you to keep them away.

By carefully checking for all these pieces of gear before you head off for your day ofexercise, you’ll be ready for anything!.

Random Acts of Kindness Ideas

Make someone else’s day — and yours!

They say kindness is contagious. The more nice things you do for others, the more that makes others prone to do the same. That said, what goes around comes around — performing random acts of kindness upon others can make you happier, too, over the long haul.
“People who engage in kind acts become happier over time,” says Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside. “When you are kind to others, you feel good as a person—more moral, optimistic and positive.”

So, where do you start? Here are some ideas on ways you can make someone’s day that much better — and yours as well.

Treat the next person in line – Standing in line for your lunch or sitting in a drive-through? Buy something for the person in line behind you. Knowing that you will make a stranger’s day better can help you have a better day, too, and likely make them pass on another act of kindness to someone else. If you’re feeling extra generous, you can buy multiple people’s orders.

Volunteer – You can choose to volunteer at a food bank, a neighborhood cleanup, or you can even be a chaperone on your child’s trip. No matter where you choose to volunteer your time, you’re bound to feel great, and help others feel the same for donating your time to them. In fact, science proves this to be true.
“People who volunteer tend to have higher self-esteem, psychological well-being, and happiness,” says Mark Snyder, a psychologist and head of the Center for the Study of the Individual and Society at the University of Minnesota. ”All of these things go up as their feelings of social connectedness goes up, which in reality, it does. It also improves their health and even their longevity.”
Leave money in random places – For example, place change a gumball dispenser so the next person who uses it gets it free. Or tape a dollar or two to the office vending machine with a note stating that “The next snack’s on me!” Whoever is next to purchase their snack will no doubt be put in a better mood, and you’ll feel better knowing you helped someone with just a few bucks and some creativity.

Don’t skimp on compliments – It’s the easiest way to brighten someone’s day, and doesn’t cost you a thing, nor requires a lot of effort. If you can find something to compliment — whether it’s someone’s outfit, their new haircut, how well their presentation went — then let that person know. Even the smallest comments of praise can make someone smile, and make you feel better about your own self.

Give thanks – Community life-saving professionals, like police officers and fire fighters, often don’t get the thanks they deserve. It’s important to take a moment and think about all they’ve done in the past and present, and tell them how appreciative you are of their work, be it a phone call, letter or email. These people risk their lives to save others every day, and offering a simple “thanks” can mean all the difference. In addition, you can also thank your family, friends and other loved ones if they’ve recently done something you’re grateful for.
Kindness really is contagious, after all so get out there today and make a positive difference.


Fun Facts about Purim – Learn more about this Jewish holiday

Many people are not familiar with the Jewish holiday of Purim. Purim centers around the story of a man named Haman, a king’s adviser who planned to draw lots to determine which Jewish people he should kill. The king’s wife, Esther, told the king of this plan, and therefore saved the Jewish people. On the surface this holiday doesn’t sound very festive, but read on to discover a few fun facts about Purim.

A happy and joyous occasion
In the entire Jewish religion, Purim is considered one of the happiest and most joyous of occasions. Indeed, some rabbis have ordered all adults to get drunk on Purim. Sounds a little more festive now, doesn’t it? Adults are supposed to get so intoxicated that they can’t remember who the bad guy was and who the good guy was in the story the holiday recalls.
‘The whole megillah’
The saying, “the whole megillah,” is actually a phrase derived from the name of the scroll from which the story of Esther is read. That story is read two times on Purim. It is read at night and then again the following morning.
Let’s make some noise
A noisemaker called a gragger is used to stir up a tremendous amount of noise every single time the name of Haman is said while the megillah is being read. This is supposed to drown out his very name. Children make these graggers, and it is a fun project that allows the young ones to get involved in the festive activities. The gragger is typically a small container filled with lentils and dried beans that is then decorated and shaken.
Let’s eat
There is a three-cornered pastry containing poppy seed that is eaten on Purim. That pastry is called “hamantashen.” Why three corners? The pastry has three corners because Haman’s hat had three corners. In Hebrew, these pastries are referred to as oznei haman, which stands for “Haman’s ears.”
Something missing?
Interestingly, in the Book of Esther, of all the sacred and holy Jewish books, God’s name is nowhere to be found.
Giving alms
On Purim, it is the Jewish custom to give alms to poor people. One is supposed to give away three half-dollar coins. Whether the giver is extremely wealthy or very poor, all are required to give away the same amount on Purim. Why? Because it is believed that everyone has a truly equal role to play in the future and destiny of the Jewish people and their faith.
The Jewish religion is filled with tremendous tradition, ritual and faith. It is made up of a fabric of wonderful customs and celebrations that make it a very interesting faith to study and learn about and/or experience.


Ways to avoid putting things off and to be more productive

Procrastination happens to the best of us. Whether it’s postponing the reorganization of your closet, an assignment at work, or refinancing your home, we’ve all delayed projects that we didn’t want to do at a certain point in time. But procrastination only temporarily makes you feel better.
“Putting off the dreaded item on your list saps your strength,” explains Eva Wisnik, who provides time-management training for lawyers and corporations in New York City. “Checking it off will make you feel super-productive.”
Try one of these get-things-done tips today:
Avoid distractions
Most of the time, the reason we procrastinate is because there’s something else we’d rather do — whether it’s play the game from the new app you just downloaded, watch TV, call a friend, or browse Facebook. Find out what’s diverting your attention from what the task at hand, and then get rid of it. So for example, put your phone in a drawer, unplug the TV or block entertaining websites. With distractions in your reach, you’re more likely to be tempted to pursue them. But once they’re out of sight, they’re also out of mind, and it will free you up to achieve what needs to be done.
Shrink the task
Sometimes, people procrastinate because they’re overwhelmed by how much needs to get done. Decrease some of that pressure by making the task at hand smaller. For example, if you need to clean three bathrooms in your home, narrow it down to just one and see how you feel. Or, if you have to organize eight boxes, do three. Once you start and see how good it makes you feel, you’ll likely want to do more.
Regroup in the middle of the day
If you know you’re a procrastinator, make sure to check in with yourself — especially if it feels like your morning has flown by without accomplishing much.
“At 2 p.m. every day, assess how much you’ve accomplished, remind yourself of what’s critical, and alter your plan so you can tackle the most important thing,” says Wisnik. This will help you ensure you have enough time to complete the things that need to get done. “If you wait until 5 p.m. to evaluate your day, you’re out of time — and in crisis mode, putting out fires.”
Make a date
With yourself, that is! It may sound strange, but pencil in what you need to do on your calendar or plug it into your smartphone. And treat this designated time slot as you would any other appointment. For instance, don’t schedule conflicting activities and don’t be late. Setting an appointment with yourself will hold you more accountable and help you avoid procrastinating. Think of it this way: You wouldn’t blow off a friend’s plans or a boss’s meeting if you had a scheduled meeting with them, would you?
Work in 10-minute intervals
Ten minutes. That’s it! Set a timer for a short amount of time where you do what needs to be done and nothing else.
“Anyone can do 10 measly minutes,” says Debbie Mandel, a stress-management specialist in New York City and the author of “Addicted to Stress: A Woman’s 7-Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life.” “You may get engrossed and end up working even longer.” That’s because the satisfaction you’ll feel from accomplishing your job within that short time period will trump the negative outlook you had before.
Your time is valuable, so take the advice of the experts and you’ll see your productivity boom.

Must-Watch Midseason TV Premieres

If you like watching really good TV, you’re in for some special treats this year. Several upcoming midseason premieres promise some of the best entertainment for the small screen. Here are five of the most anticipated TV shows this midseason has to offer.

Mind Games, ABC
Mind Games premieres March 11 on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. (EST). It features a story about two brothers who use their skills from their previous and current careers to solve issues that their agency is faced with. One of the brothers is an ex-convict, and the other is an amazingly intelligent, yet bipolar professor. The show stars Christian Slater, Steve Zahn, Gregory Marcel and Megalyn Echikunwoke.
The 100, The CW
On March 19, starting at 9 p.m. (EST) on Wednesdays, The 100 premieres. It stars Henry Ian Cusick, Eliza Taylor, Isaiah Washington, Kelly Hu, Marie Avgeropoulos, Thomas McDonell and Devon Bostick. The TV show is set in the future, after the entire planet has been decimated by a nuclear war. A hundred juvenile delinquents are sent back to Earth to figure out what conditions are like on the planet after the devastation has taken place. The adults who are still in outer space dominate and rule the kids from the skies. This series definitely promises to be interesting for sci-fi fans.
True Detective, HBO
Bringing tremendous star power to this new TV show, HBO will feature none other than Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, along with Kevin Dunn, Alexandra Daddario, Tory Kittles and Michelle Monaghan. The plot centers on two detectives in the state of Louisiana who reopen an intriguing murder mystery case.
Believe, NBC
Starring Johnny Sequoyah, Jake McLaughlin, Kyle MacLachlan, Delroy Lindo and Sienna Guillory, Believe tells the story of a little girl who has certain powers that she is unable to control. The downside? She’s also being hunted by evil forces who want what she’s got. The premiere date and time for this show are yet to be determined, but the series promises to be well worth the wait.
Resurrection, ABC
Beginning on Sundays at 9 p.m. (EST) on March 9, the show Resurrection is expected to hit the airwaves. ABC has heavily promoted this show, which the network hopes will be a true hit. It’s about Arcadia, Mo., a town overrun by … you guessed it … zombies. However, there’s an intriguing twist: These “undead” are surprised to be back as well, and are not the “mean” type of zombies we’ve all come to expect.
Whether you prefer suspense, drama or science fiction, these are just a few midseason premieres that promise many hours of viewing enjoyment.


Tips for making your New Year’s Resolution last

It’s a new year, and you probably have some exciting new resolutions to make it the best year yet. If you’ve had resolutions in previous years that didn’t last that long, don’t get discouraged. There are many simple strategies you can use to help your resolutions last through the entire year.

One is the best number
If you’re already feeling stressed out about keeping all your resolutions, this tip will be music to your ears. Pick the resolution that is the most important to you and forget about the rest. This makes it much more likely that you will actually keep your resolution, so you won’t have to make the same one next New Year’s Eve. Don’t feel guilty about paring down your list, it is a strategy backed by science.
“One of the first mistakes people make is planning too many resolutions,” states Whitson Gordon from LifeHacker. “The fewer things your brain has to deal with, the better, and you’ll be able to focus all your motivation on one resolution, increasing the chances you’ll succeed.”
Turn resolutions into projects
It’s not too late to tweak your resolutions so that they work better for you. Resolutions can be hard to conquer, whereas projects with concrete goals can make the experience fun and easier to keep up with.
For example, if your resolution was to get out of a rut, turn it into a project to try one new thing a month. If your resolution was to be more social, your project can be to talk to one stranger a day. These clear projects can help you tackle your resolutions much more easily.
Visualize your goals
When your willpower starts to falter, make sure there are things that remind you of your goals in your environment to help you keep going. Visual cues are extremely powerful, so be sure that you are using them to their fullest extent.
“Draw on the strength of images by putting a photo of a thinner you on the fridge, or a picture of a Caribbean beach in your wallet near your credit cards to remind yourself of the vacation that you’re saving for,” states Amy Roberts from
Think achievable and measurable
Your resolution projects must be achievable and measurable in order for you to succeed. The goal of “getting back in shape,” for example, is not measurable, because being in shape is a subjective concept. Due to the fact that it can’t be measured, you won’t be able to track your progress or ever determine if you have actually reached your goal.
Transforming this goal into something measurable such as losing one pound per week or increasing your bench press ability to a certain number helps you stay on course to succeed. Lastly, make sure you are choosing achievable goals, so you won’t be discouraged and give up when you can’t meet them.
Starting fresh with a new calendar and new goals is very exciting, so make sure that the excitement and your commitment to your resolutions doesn’t fade away in the coming weeks by putting these tips into action.


Five Great Live Albums

These classics are worth a listen

Sure, even in the digital age people listen to full albums. With the rise of the mp3, however, most listen to individual tunes loaded to an iPod or other mp3 device instead of listening to a full album, start to finish. It is for that reason that the heyday of the live album format really was in decades past, and to find the best live albums of history, we need to look to the past. Here, for your consideration, are five of the best live albums ever made.
“Live!” – Bob Marley and the Wailers
This live recording by the late Bob Marley is a seminal recording of the reggae genre. It features tracks such as “No Woman, No Cry,” “I Shot the Sheriff”, and other popular Marley songs that are perfect for chilling out and listening to through a headset. Marley’s comforting, but strident live vocals set against a reggae beat offer up a tone of independence and mellow joy.
“Johnny Cash at San Quentin” – Johnny Cash
This classic live album from the 1960s showcases the talents of country music icon, Johnny Cash. Recorded in full at a concert for inmates at San Quentin State Prison, this album features live vocal performance of Cash’s hits, including favorites such as “I Walk the Line” and “A Boy Named Sue,”the humorous song that became one of Cash’s most memorable recordings.
“Live at Leeds” – The Who
Aptly described by as a “deeply pleasurable listening experience,” this album by British band The Who is a long-playing musical journey. It includes everything from the classic earworm tune “My Generation” to selections from the band’s psychedelic rock opera, “Tommy,” the story of a “pinball wizard” that was eventually turned into a movie starring Roger Daltry and featuring Elton John.
“Take No Prisoners” – Lou Reed
In this live album, Lou Reed riffs on all sorts of subjects, creating a live album that meanders through observations, stories, and takes listeners on a true musical journey. It features songs such as the once-popular and still memorable “Walk on the Wild Side.” Take a listen to see why Reed is considered to be a forefather of the punk and new wave musical genres.
“Wings Over America” – Paul McCartney and Wings
Here, former Beatle Paul McCartney performed with the band that backed him after The Beatles disbanded: Wings. It’s a three-record set that mixes McCartney hits with Beatles tunes, including favorites “Blackbird” and “Yesterday.”
These five suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of great live albums for you to consider. Some of the best recordings of live performances are from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, and make for some great listening, indeed.


Best Wedding Movies

Weddings are brimming with pageantry and joy, so it’s not surprising that movies about them are popular. Here are five wedding movies guaranteed to make you laugh, cry or both.

Bride Wars
When two best friends schedule their weddings on the same day, well, the war begins. This 2009 film starring Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway centers around two women, Emma Allen (Hathaway) and Olivia Lerner (Hudson) who decide they both want their weddings in the same location at the Plaza Hotel. The movie is full of all sorts of humorous pranks and comical encounters as the brides-to-be attempt to sabotage each other’s plans. Candice Bergen is superb in her role as one of New York’s most in-demand wedding planners.
Father of the Bride
Many people don’t realize this 1991 movie starring Steve Martin, Diane Keaton and Kimberly Williams-Paisley is a remake of a classic starring Spencer Tracy. Just about any father can relate to George Banks played by Martin, who gets nervous and unpredictable when he realizes his little girl is all grown up and about to become a bride. Martin Short as the foreign wedding planner is absolutely hilarious in his scenes.
My Best Friend’s Wedding
This 1997 romantic comedy stars Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz and Dermot Mulroney. Revolving around a theme of long lost love, Roberts’ character plans to entice a long-time friend into romance just a few days before the wedding. The soundtrack song I Say a Little Prayer (For You) was so memorable in the movie that it has become a sort of unofficial anthem sung and danced to at wedding receptions.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
What happens when a young Greek woman falls in love with a non-Greek man, and her family has difficulty accepting her choice? This 2002 comedy features a relatively unknown cast, including Nia Vardalos and John Corbett. The two most notable stars are Michael Constantine and Lainie Kazan. The couple endures a wide range of trials and tribulations before they finally walk down the aisle. It ends up being a traditional wedding and there are lots of smiles to go around in the end.
The Wedding Singer
Adam Sandler is perfectly cast in this 1998 film about an energetic and entertaining New Jersey wedding singer. Engaged to be married, Robbie Hart, played by Sandler, meets a waitress, Julia Sullivan, played by Drew Barrymore, at a reception hall where he sings regularly. Julia is also engaged and after a series of debacles they finally end up together and get married in the final scene. Other stars in the movie include Kevin Nealon, Jon Lovitz and pop singer Billy Idol.
The next time you need a movie to get you out of the doldrums, try an uplifting wedding movie. They never let you down.


Essential Keys To Successful Personal Development Plans

 When it comes to helping yourself live the life that you have always wanted, you may wonder where to begin, as there are so many things to consider when trying to re-vamp your life for the better. The tips in this article can provide you with what you need to better your life.

If you slip along the way do not be too hard on yourself. Be gentle when making a mistake and understand that it does happen in life. Learn from the mistake that you make, if you have to write down the consequences and do not do it again. Get back on your bike and ride!

A great self improvement tip is to always live honestly. To be a truly great man or woman, you must have integrity. This also means you should live within your means. Do not spend more than you have. Being honest with yourself and with others will reap all kinds of benefits in the future.

Do not procrastinate. The longer you put something off, the less likely you are to actually do it. You will also begin to forget why you wanted to do it in the first place. Accomplishing tasks and learning new things will help you grow as a person, so don’t wait to get started on your projects.

Stop putting things off. If there is something you feel you need to accomplish in your lifetime, now is the time to start accomplishing it. Once you start putting something off, most people keep putting that something off. Never put off for tomorrow what you can do today. You will only regret not doing it later on in life.

Make sure that your goal is not just something that you logically think you want to attain. Make sure that your goal starts from your heart. By doing this, it will make the goal very desirable for you and therefore it will make it easier for you to work for it.

Listen to the inner you when it is trying to tell you something. If you take the time to listen, there are many things that your mind and your body are going to tell you that you should really hear. These could be things about health, mind or spirit and are all equally important to be heard.

Avoid negative news sources to improve your self improvement progress. A consistent positive attitude is vital for maintaining motivation and reaching your development goals. If a news source that you view regularly tends to spoil your mood, do your best to cut it out of your life. Check such news sources only when you absolutely must.

If you do not want to follow the herd, remember to ask questions. The fact is that many people accept the way the world is unquestionably, which can lead to a feeling of being unfulfilled. If you ask questions and take only the things of value that are offered to you, you’ll be more likely to internalize only beneficial ideas.

If you have a large, seemingly unattainable goal, break it down into smaller tasks. Taking on a huge goal all at once can quickly become overwhelming. Instead, break the goal down into as many small, simple tasks as possible. Then, focus on accomplishing each of those tasks. Before you know it, all of your small efforts will add up, allowing you to reach your larger goal.

When working toward a large personal development goal, it’s best to break up the goal into smaller goals that are easier to reach. For instance, if want to get organized you may find it helpful to focus on one area at a time. Start with your desk and when that space is clear set another goal. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. So, make your goals moderate and stay motivated.

Try your best to be someone you can respect. Never do anything you know you are going to hate yourself for doing. Really think about your actions. Think about what sort of impact they will have on you and your life before you carry through with them. Strive to accomplish things that will leave you proud of yourself.

As was outlined in this article, there are so many resources and options that you can make use of, based upon your needs, preferences and overall style. If you implement any combination of these tips and resources, you will be able to attain success in your self help quest. Good luck!