Category Archives: Joyful Activities

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.


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.


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.