Monthly Archives: March 2012

Help Your Community

Giving back to your community is an excellent way to add positivity and happiness to your life. So… what exactly constitutes a community? Your community can range from the neighborhood you live, your hometown, the school you are attending, or a place that you strongly identify with. Doing things for your community have a wide range of benefits that make it a worthwhile option for many. Helping out your community helps you foster positive relationships with other people in your community, be a great role model to your children and others, and help contribute to improving the place we live. Remember you do not have to make a huge effort to make a positive impact in your community. Even the smallest acts of kindness can be influential. You may have a busy schedule or feel like you do not have the skills to help your community, but you might be surprised at what you can do.

Child in Chiang Rai, Thailand

Before you get started on your next goal of positively influencing your community, you need to consider a few factors.

  1. Why do you want to help? Be completely honest. Helping someone for personal gain or just to look good is not an adequate reason for helping out your community. Choosing to help can be challenging and it would be terrible to commit to something for superficial reasons, especially if you feel tempted to quit or realize that volunteering for your community is not as glamorous as you pictured.
  2. Focus on one or two tasks. This is an important consideration that you cannot neglect. Personally, I get very excited about volunteering and sometimes feel a strong desire to get involved with multiple projects, help out with a bunch of tasks and ultimately I end up overcommitting myself. Try not fall into this trap. It’s great to be excited but realize that you will perform best if you focus on one or two things that you are really interested in.
  3. Be honest with yourself about how much you have to commit to helping out your community. You may want to spend 20 hours a week helping out but that may be unrealistic and result in stress. Be realistic about how much time you have before committing to anything. Try to avoid projects that may be taxing on your time. Remember honesty also helps your community too. Try to avoid over exaggerating how much time you can spend a week. Be honest with them about your time limitations and update them whenever possible about if you have to start working less or have more opportunities to volunteer more.
  4. Can you donate money? Donating money is another thing to consider if you are low on time and have a busy schedule. If you are at a place where you can donate money, then consider how much you can donate to this project. Try to avoid situations where you commit to donating more money than you would like.
  5. Can you donate your skills or talents? Each of us has a unique ability. What can you do to help an organization. You might be surprised at how far your talents can take us. For instance, I design and help set up websites for a couple of organizations. I do this all for free but designing websites is a talent I have and many organizations need a website developed but lack the resources, so it’s a good fit.
  6. Do some research! What does this community need? We often go into projects assuming we know what someone needs but you may be surprised. Find out the needs of the community and consider ways that you can help answer those needs.

So now that you have thought over these factors, now is the time to step in and work at helping out your community. Yet at this point you still might be confused on where to start. Here are some wonderful ideas for helping out your community. There are plenty more ideas for giving but hopefully some of these will give you a jumpstart.

  • Donate old clothes to an organization
  • Collect canned food
  • Volunteer in a soup kitchen
  • Help out at an animal shelter
  • Be involved politically. Help support candidates who are making a real difference
  • Help out with the neighborhood watch
  • Deliver dinners to a family in the neighborhood. If there is someone elderly living alone, then offer to cook them dinner sometimes.
  •  Start a community garden
  • Help someone out with chores that is struggling
  • Support local businesses
  • Donate used books to the library
  • Volunteer at local projects designed for improving the community
  • Fundraise to help someone specifically or for a cause
  • Help recycle around the community
  • Create care packages for the homeless, elderly or others in need
  • Tutor students or children in need
  • Write cards for someone who is ill or the elderly
  • Help develop a website for an organization
  • Volunteer to lead a trip
  • Plant a tree in the neighborhood
  • Participate in a marathon or race for a cause
  • Teach a class or start a program to help teach others
  • Mentor a child or adolescent
  • Help paint and repair someone’s home
  • Design a mural for your community
  • Help clean dirty areas in the community
  • Participate in your city’s parade
  • Sew blankets for children or the elderly.
  • Donate old items to others or sell them and use the profit to help a cause
  • Carpool
  • Do art projects with the elderly or children
  • Host a holiday dinner at your home for the neighborhood
  • Foster a pet
  • Set up a food drive
  • Volunteer at job placement centers in your town
  • Donate toys
  • Randomly give someone in need a gift

How To Be More Optimistic

Do you tend to expect the worst when a situation occurs? Are you able to see the bright side of all bad situations? Do you look at the glass being half full or half empty? Depending on the answer to these questions you might be a pessimist or an optimist. Having a positive expectation about upcoming events and your future is part of being an optimist. An optimist can typically see some positivity in bad situations. I am an optimist about most things in my life. About 6 months ago, I had accepted a job offer that had caused me a ton of stress and ended up having me involved in an 80 hour work week. I eventually quit, but am still happy I took the job even if it was extremely stressful. The optimist side of me viewed the situation as a great way to learn new skills and the money from that job helped pay off my car loan completely. I also realized that job opportunity has helped me receive other jobs since now
I have an excellent example of doing something that I had limited knowledge in and successfully completing my work.

Landscape of Sedona, Arizona

Anyone can be an optimist. Some people feel optimism is reserved for people who come from wealthy families, who can afford to not receive job positions or who don’t need to try hard to receive really good grades. That is not true at all! Personally, I have come from a family that has not paid for one thing of mine since I turned 18. My childhood has also not been easy in many ways. I feel that optimism can be a choice. I have visited impoverished countries where people are hopeful and happy about their lives, even when they have next to nothing in terms of material items. In my life, I have encountered people who have been constantly struggling but choose to be optimistic. Alternatively, I have met people who come from wealthy families and have tons of options that may make his or her life easier than others but who still remain very pessimistic about their own life.

Remember that being an optimist does not mean that you suddenly turn a blind eye to negativity. Optimists are able to view the world realistically just like anyone else. When faced with challenges, an optimist will not be quickly discouraged but will recognize the challenge and realize that he should put significant effort to help avoid bad outcomes. An optimist still makes decisions about the world and has a solid plan, but unlike a pessimist, faces decisions with a positive outlook and ensures that he or she follow-ups with their decisions.

Being a pessimist can have significant negative impacts on your life. You might find yourself not sticking through with your commitments and neglecting issues that might improve your situation overall. Having a negative view of your life can result in you missing out on great opportunities and feeling more depressed about life. You might also experience more feelings of helplessness by being pessimistic.

Here are some great tips to help you avoid being less negative about your life. Remember that anyone can become more optimistic!  Sometimes it just takes a few modifications to try and become more optimistic.

Pessimism is fine in small doses. Everybody will go through periods where they feel pessimistic about life. That’s normal and healthy. A very optimistic person may go through a period of feeling pessimistic if he or she is going through a really rough period in life.

Life is not against you! Many people live life by constantly proclaiming that their life will always be bad or that nothing ever works out for them. Some people will blame the world, God, friends or even family members for their bad luck. Understand that nothing is specifically working against you, and that you control your own life.

Bad Starts Do Not Equal Bad Endings. Many great opportunities or experiences may start out bad. Do not expect that everything good will always start out well. I remember I took an internship where the first few weeks were very stressful. I felt like I was not competent enough for the position and was concerned that I was not a good match for the job. After a few weeks, the job got much better and ended up being a wonderful opportunity.

Leave the past behind. It is difficult to be optimistic when you are still involved in bad experiences that may have occurred in the past. Digging up painful old memories, regretting missed opportunities and continually putting yourself down for making bad mistakes only makes you feel worse and wastes time. Learn from the past and start working on the present.

You control your life! Remember that you can influence your own life. If you are feeling not satisfied with your life, then you can start building new plans for yourself and make better decisions. Your circumstances do not control you! Your life is not completely out of your control! Remember that you need to start taking control of your own life. You will need to take some risks and start making new plans for your life. Learn from past experiences and really think about what needs to change for you to be happy.

Find the positives. Start looking for positives in every situation. Being able to find some good in a situation will allow you to view a situation more positively. You might also discover something new about yourself. For instance, looking at a very stressful work experience might show you that you can handle many tasks and learn skills really quickly, but you might need a work environment that requires you to work less hours during the week.

Surround yourself with optimistic people. It can be challenging to be positive about life, when you are surrounded by people who are just pessimistic about life. Think about the people you spend quite a bit of time with. If you find that many of these people are pessimistic, generally unhappy with life, like to discuss how dissatisfied they are with things or tends to discourage you from taking some risks, then you may want to consider finding new friends who have a more positive outlook.

Take care of yourself. Remember that you are a person who has needs. Try to remember to take care of yourself mentally and physically. Set aside time every day to exercise. Spend time treating yourself to things you really enjoy. Try not to put your own needs on the backburner. Put aside time to relax or to do a hobby you really enjoy.

Be patient. Change does not happen overnight. It can take time and will be difficult. Be patient with yourself and understand that trying to be optimistic is a journey that takes time and patience.

How To Not Lose Hope

In the previous post, I described why you should continue hoping. In this post, I want to talk about how to not lose hope. One of the most difficult things to do, especially in difficult times, is understanding how to regain hope in your situation. You may have the knowledge that you should continue hoping but are at a loss on how to keep hoping. There are various methods to being able to regain hope. These suggestions are aimed for people who are having a difficult time believing in hope and are in a moment where hope seems like the last thing possible.

Caye Caulker, Belize

Be patient with the situation. Life is a journey and part of that journey is accepting the reality of failures and successes. Some blessings may happen instantly, while others could take months or even years. Be patient and realistic about your situation. Things typically do not happen overnight. It can take people years to find the love of their life. With the economy, it can be a long process until you find a job. Achieving your dreams will take time. Be patient and remember that these things usually do not happen overnight.

Be patient and understanding to yourself. Life is tough and when faced with difficult times, nobody is expecting you to be perfect. Allow yourself time to mourn, cry, and feel helpless. Remember that you cannot expect yourself to always be strong during very tough situations. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Get proper amounts of sleep. Try to spend time with your friends, family or significant other. Hope is attainable once you set aside time to take care of yourself.

Make a list of things you are thankful for. Creating a list of things in your life that you are grateful for will help you identify some of the good things currently happening in your life. Furthermore, this task will help you appreciate the wonderful blessings that you do have. During difficult times it’s easy to forget some of the good things in your life. Work on making a list of things that you are happy about.

Create hope in others. Go out and get involved in the world around you. Try and make a difference in the lives of others! You can go out and help out at a homeless shelter, do some volunteer activity at your church or some other volunteer pursuit you can think of. Creating hope in others will help you create hope in yourself. You will also see the value you can give to others. Seeing the way people’s lives can be changed positively will help you realize that although you are going through  a difficult time, things will be okay.

Plan goals for each day. Helping to set small, attainable goals for yourself will help you start building up hope. You will realize that you are making an effort to better your situation and will gradually start to see results from that, and will know that you are not stuck in a standstill. Remember, plan small daily goals. If you are worried you will get kicked out of school for poor grades, then start committing to study for 2 hours every day or to receive tutoring at least 3 times a week. Start small and build up from there.

Be realistic. Hope does not involve simply just dreaming and wishing for something that may be unrealistic. Have realistic dreams and aim for that. If our dreams are not realistic then you may end up losing faith in the power of hope. It may be unrealistic to aim to attend a very prestigious school and it’s your senior year, you have a 3.0 GGP and scores on your standardized exams need improvement. A more realistic dream may be to get into a good school with a good program. It may not be realistic to aim for a job that is exactly what you want to do, has great pay, and an awesome employer. You may have to make the decision about whether you are willing to do what you want for less pay, or have a job that pays very well but is something you are not passionate about. It’s great to dream but have realistic dreams. Something too out of the scope of reality may set you up for disappointment.

Be thankful and kind. Show kindness and thankfulness to others whenever you get the chance. There will be people that do support you and blessings will come your way. Make sure to pay attention to those blessings and be thankful to the people who have been supportive and helpful towards you. Being positive towards others will help you regain hope, and see wonderful things that are happening in your life.

Reasons To Not Lose Hope

Flower at a Temple in ThailandAll of us have been through times where we were at the brink of losing hope or had completely lost hope. Losing hope happens to everyone at some point or another but it’s important to try and regain hope. During dark moments you may ask yourself what is the benefit of regaining hope or even find it impossible? Others may have been continually disappointed by hoping in something and may not see any benefit in hope anymore.  Most people go through this and it’s no surprise that believing in hope can be incredibly difficult at times. The following are some reasons to keep holding on to hope.

  1. Hope helps us take steps to achieve our goals. Without hope, it’s much more difficult to stick to your plans in life and to put a lot of effort into those plans. There are countless examples of people who have achieved things in their life by placing hope into those efforts. If these people had lost hope, then it’s very likely that these goals would have not been achieved. For instance, I know quite a few published writers including my boyfriend. All of them have experienced years of rejections from publishers before receiving an acceptance. Each of those writers have been through times where they felt they should quit writing or felt it was just another failed endeavor. With hope, these people were able to make plans to still stay in the game and still get by in life. Following these plans, and a bit of luck, allowed these writers to eventually have a book published.
  2. Hope is an encouraging force. Hope can really help us feel better about our lives and believe that the future will get better. Without hope, it can be difficult to look forward to the next day. Some might even settle for less or simply stop trying due to lack of hope. Hope allows us to keep looking forward to the next day, and to be able to believe that our efforts will eventually pay off. Hope allows us from not giving up on someone or something. Hope is powerful, even when the result is not what we wanted. I remember seeing friends really hoping that a loved one would not die from cancer. There was a strong network of people who were encouraging to each other and kept building hope for that person’s health. Sadly the person died. Although everyone was saddened by the loss, hope had helped people come together and provide an extraordinary amount of support and comfort for each other. Hope had allowed people to cherish the time they had with this person and to treat each day as another blessed day, and not as a countdown for someone’s death.
  3. Hope promotes acceptance of ourselves. Hoping can sometimes allows us to see positives in a situation and provide us with a better perspective of our own lives. Losing hope usually results in someone giving up and just accepting the life she lives. Unfortunately this acceptance is typically seen in a more negative light, resulting in the person saying things to themselves such as “this is the best it can ever get for me” or “I’m unhappy but this is how life is.” This is acceptance to a certain extent, but results in negativity and overall unhappiness. Hope can lead one to more positive acceptance. It can allow a person to objectively look at their own situation and try and make links between what is good about her situation now and what she needs in the future. Like many people, I have been in a position where I felt unhappy, stuck and felt like I was not moving forward. Hope allowed me to view this as just another obstacle overcome. Hope reminded me that many successful people have failed, but that it’s important to learn from those mistakes and try again. Hope helped me realize that I am grateful to have a job and have that income flowing, and that I am currently building a foundation for something even greater. Hope allowed me to see the skills I am developing now and that these hardships are making me stronger and more prepared.
  4. Hope can make you stronger. Hope can allow you to really fight back and try and make things better for yourself. Without hope, you might fall into a hole where you feel you can’t do anything to make things better. Hope will allow you to reach out to others and be able to ask for help or talk to others who have went through similar problems as yourself. By hoping for something better you are able to look at other solutions to the problem you have. You may find solutions in God, faith, social networks, family, counseling, or dropping old habits. Hope can encourage you to change and that change can result in you becoming a stronger person.

How To Respond to Hearing About a Death

Fire in the jungle

Just recently I attended a funeral with my boyfriend. One of his close relatives had died. When arriving to the funeral, I realized that everybody had different responses to the death. Some people were very open and asked clear questions such as “do you miss him?” or “how do you feel right now?”. Other people responded by not asking any questions at all and even talking about things not related to the death or the funeral. Other people had varying responses to the death ranging from humor to silence. Many of these responses are dependent on your own personal feelings about the death and your relationship and level of closeness to the deceased.

Death is a part of life and many of us will have that experience where someone informs you that a loved one has died, or where someone close to you informs you that someone close to them has died. Many of us may not know how to properly respond to death. We want to properly express sympathy to that person but are unsure of how to go about doing that. You may feel that you need to say something to make the situation more tolerable. Questions such as “what can I do?” or “how can I help?” may cross your mind. You may simply be in shock and literally be at a loss of what to even say to someone.

This posting is designed to help give you tips on what to do when faced with this situation.

Offer condolences. You will usually want to say how sorry you are to hear about the death and that you are sad to receive this news. Depending on how close the bereaved is with the deceased, you will want to mention that you are always there for them if he or she needs it. If the situation is shocking then express that. Make sure to tell him or her that you are shocked and really hurt to hear this news.

Be sincere. When dealing with deaths, try to be as sincere and sympathetic as possible. Some of us typically like to try and lighten the mood or even change the subject once hearing about the death. Others might want to make jokes to help the person smile and forget about the sorrow for just a little bit. Although this might seem like a good tactic, making light of the situation should generally be avoided. When you first hear about the death, you should respond with sympathy. Take the situation seriously and try to be sincere.

Contact the family. You can typically send a sympathy card or give the family a phone call. You may definitely want to send a card if you are long distance and unable to attend the funeral. Depending on the funeral arrangements, and how close you are to the deceased, you may want to send along something you would like to be read at the funeral. Feel free to be responsive to people who contact you about the death. If your friend sends you an email about the news, then respond back promptly.

Grieve. You are also dealing with your own feelings about the death. If the deceased is close to you, you will particularly need your own time to come to terms with what happened. It is completely normal for you to allow yourself time to grieve in your own way.

Ask for help. If you are not coping well with the death then seek help from a professional. Seeking help will allow you to communicate your thoughts and feelings, and may help you figure out how to communicate with your loved ones about the deceased.

Give help. Offer to help with the funeral arrangements. You may be surprised at what you can help out with. At the funeral I just attended, a friend of the family helped the family set up a nice slideshow for the deceased. She helped collect pictures and put together a nice video with supplementary cardboard posters that displayed pictures of the deceased. If the family has children, you might offer to babysit, help with chores or do babysitting for the family. You can bring food for the lunch or dinner that is typically held after the funeral arrangements. Sometimes, families will try and do some volunteer effort to honor the death of that family member such as trying to raise money to build a home for an impoverished family in another country. You can send donations to that. You might also want to bring food over after the funeral. This can be especially helpful for a family or someone living alone. If you do not know how to help then ask the family members what you can contribute or how you can help.

Invite the person out. One of the worse feelings someone may feel while grieving, is that people are trying to avoid them due to the death. When the person has had some time to grieve, invite them out for lunch. Get that person out of the house and doing things again. Simple things such as inviting someone out to a movie, lunch or dinner or including them in a group activity is enough.  If the deceased was very close to them, he or she may be going through intense feelings of loneliness. Invite the bereaved out to do something and get them out of the house a bit. Please be considerate that the bereaved may not want to do anything. If that is the case, keep the invitations open, but be considerate that he or she may still need time.

Be understanding. People grieving may be quite different from the friend or relative you typically know. Someone who is usually the jokester in the group, may suddenly be sullen and moody whenever you see him or her. The bereaved may also cycle through moods, sometimes seeming very depressed and angry one day and ready to move on another day. Be understanding to that and try not to take it personally. If it makes you feel very uncomfortable, then give him his space and let him know that you are there for him if he needs it.

The Joys of Volunteering

I love volunteering and try to integrate that in various parts of my life. Just like many, I sometimes feel like I just don’t have enough time to volunteer, but I have found some really effective ways to volunteer my time. Much of my work is in the information technology field, so I try to find ways to devote my time towards helping organizations with IT work. Some of this work may involve helping to develop or maintain an organization’s website, performing instructional design, or helping to troubleshoot some computer problems. This would typically cost organizations quite a bit of money, but I just offer my services for free and it’s something that can be done remotely. I also love to travel, so I try and look for opportunities to volunteer while abroad. Although I may not be able to make a long term commitment, it does help with spreading awareness about a cause and many of these places need as much as they can get. Consider the joys of volunteering and ways you might be able to give back to others.

Basket Weaving

Here are some wonderful reasons to volunteer:

  1. Participate in a cause. If you have something you are particularly passionate about then volunteering can be a great way to support that cause. You can volunteer to help support an organization you believe in or to help combat a problem you are interested in.
  2. Meet different people. Volunteering will put you into contact with people from varying backgrounds. You will have additional opportunities to meet people with similar interests and to make new friends.
  3. You can help to resolve a problem. Many organizations and causes really need the help of volunteers and so many goals could not be achieved without the assistance of volunteers. You can be part of a solution by attempting to volunteer.
  4. Volunteering allows you to have new experiences and a different perspective on things. Before volunteering, I had never really seen poverty and I had little understanding of how people living in those environments interacted. Volunteering allowed me to really understand more about different ways of living and broadened my understanding of the world.
  5. Develop new skills. Volunteering will give you opportunities to learn new skills and really develop your talents.
  6. Build a resume. If you are applying for college or graduate school, then volunteering can be a great resume builder. Volunteering can show that you are responsible, loyal to causes and organizations, can demonstrate hard work and are willing to learn new things.
  7. Have a tremendous effect on the people you work with. Whether you are being a mentor towards another or just have a skill the organization needs, you will have an influence on the organization and other volunteers.
  8. Have increased self-confidence and independence. Volunteering is a wonderful way to pursue something independently and the way you apply your skills will increase your confidence.
  9. Become more socially aware on different issues.
  10. Get outside your comfort zone. If you are seeking new experiences or want to try different things then volunteering will allow you to leave your comfort zone and do something you may have never done before.

The Joys of Hiking

 

Countryside of Switzerland

Hiking is typically a lengthy walk through the countryside and can be challenging or easy. People can do hikes on a beach, mountainous terrains, on the rim or through canyons, in the desert, or even just around your home area. From a young age, I have always loved hiking. I used to go hiking with my older brother and the family dog. As I got older, I branched off to doing solo hikes and hikes with friends. Many of the pictures that I post on this website are from my hiking excursions. Hiking is a very peaceful activity and for many it can really bring joy and tranquility to one’s life. Hiking is an excellent way to get exercise, enjoy beautiful scenery, challenge yourself, and just allow yourself to relax. It’s a wonderful activity that can be shared with family, friends, pet or even just by yourself.

Reasons To Hike

  1. Hiking is a great way to de-stress and escape from stressful situations in relationships or at work.
  2. It’s an exciting and fun way to exercise and challenge yourself physically.
  3. You can enjoy beautiful scenery. This is especially relaxing if you live in a metropolitan area where enjoying nice scenery is not something you encounter frequently.
  4. A fun option for walking your dog and keeping both you and the dog in shape.
  5. Hiking is a wonderful way to clear your mind and allow yourself to focus on your thoughts.
  6. Hiking is an activity that is pretty much free. Some national parks might charge you a very small fee but other than that, hiking is a cheap and free activity.
  7. Allows you the opportunity to develop your skills in navigation, survival, hunting, camping, rock climbing and other things as well.
  8. Hiking is a year round activity.

Consider going on a hike to relax and allow yourself to have time to think and discover the world around you. Remember hiking can be done in any season but take precautions and be safe. If it’s snowing then wear appropriate clothes and bring appropriate gear. For the summer months, bring along plenty of water and wear comfortable and light clothing. Also, if hiking alone, then make sure to let someone know where you will be and how long you foresee being gone.

Either way, consider hiking as an option. Hiking is a really enjoyable activity for myself and something I love doing when I’m feeling overwhelmed with life or dealing with too many things on my mind. Hiking is a great idea if you are dealing with something emotional and are just sitting at home, being consumed with those thoughts. Getting out and about and taking a hike can help clear the mind.

So if you have time and are feeling up to it, then get out and go hiking!

How To Accept Your Body

The media often shows images of what is beautiful. Imagine how confusing and frustrating this can be since everyone has different bodies and faces. As a teenager, I spent far more time being focused on how I look and beauty in general. I would try styling my hair in all sorts of ways, wearing makeup, skipping meals and sometimes just feeling self-pity because I did not look like the girls shown in the media. Almost everyone feels this way at some point, both males and females. I see some guys hung up on how skinny or fat they are or girls obsessed with pant sizes and how toned they are. We all have to learn to accept our bodies. Everyone is so diverse and beauty is very subjective.

Assortment of Shells

I remember having a conversation with a few people about celebrities and who was attractive and who was not. Surprisingly, women and men who I felt were gorgeous, others felt were just alright, while I disagreed with who some of them felt were attractive. Again, it’s all subjective and everyone is beautiful in his or her own way.

  1. Try to not compare yourself. It’s simply impossible to just compare yourself to another person. We all come from different racial backgrounds, have different hair styles, facial structures, skin tones, and all sorts of things that contribute to how we look. Comparing yourself to the beautiful blonde in your class will not only make you feel bad, but is also inaccurate. You can’t really compare that person to yourself. We are all different and have unique qualities that others may not share.
  2. Find the beauty within you.  Look for the beauty inside yourself and focus on the qualities about yourself that you do find beautiful. Look in the mirror if you have to or even ask a close friend what he or she feels your best qualities are. Do you have lovely hair? Nice legs? A warming smile? A really calming voice? Are you a great listener or someone who really gets the party started? Find out what is beautiful about yourself and focus on those characteristics.
  3. Pay attention to compliments. Often people insecure about his or her looks may ignore or downplay the compliments given to them. Learn to accept those compliments. If somebody says you are pretty then accept and appreciate that compliment. If something says you have a great laugh then accept and appreciate the compliment. Taking time to appreciate compliments given will allow you to appreciate the beautiful things within yourself.
  4. Work on yourself. Take time to keep improving yourself mentally and physically. If you are unhappy with your weight then try and incorporate healthier eating patterns and proper exercise. If  you dislike your skin then spend time taking care of the health of your skin and using good treatments to improve how your skin looks and feels.
  5. Flaunt it! If you have certain qualities you love, then show it off! If you have beautiful eyes, then use makeup to make your eyes pop even more. If you love your hair then style it up, condition your hair and make sure it has excellent condition. Wear clothes that you love and feel look good on you.

 

Remember that you have a beauty that is unique to you. Work on recognizing that and most importantly, loving it about you. Stop comparing yourself to other people. You have your own unique qualities that are beautiful both on a physical and mental level. Flaunt it and realize how much other people value those qualities about you too.

How To Show Appreciation To Someone Special

Showing how much you appreciate someone is very important for personal relationships. We often very much appreciate the things that people do for us, but are unable to show that appreciation adequately. Many of us also know how wonderful it is to hear that someone appreciates the little things you do. You may perform an act of kindness and genuinely not expect anything in return, but receiving a sign of appreciation can make you feel really good and make you feel that the person is acknowledging the kind things you are doing. Being able to show appreciation is especially important with significant others, family members, or friends. When appreciation is not visibly shown, then confusion and misunderstanding may occur which can cause problems in your relationships. People sometimes need to know how much you appreciate their actions and just because you feel that you appreciate someone, does not mean that that person knows. I’m sure you can think of at least one instance where you did something kind for someone, and did not feel that appreciation was shown. Anyway here are some tips to get you started on trying to visibly show someone how much you appreciate their kindness to you.

Native American Mural

Say Thank You. A simple statement sometimes goes a long way. When somebody does something kind for you then take a second and tell them thank you. You can also be more explicit and let them know how much you appreciate their actions for you and their friendship. You can say thank you in any way you feel most comfortable. Text messages, emails, verbally or phone calls are all good ways to express your thanks to another.

Send a handwritten note, letter or card. Sending someone a handwritten message can be a great way to show your appreciation to another. Receiving handwritten letters or cards can be very meaningful and show people that you are willing to construct a nice handwritten note for them.  Handwritten letters can also be a very romantic gesture for significant others.

Spend time with them. Sometimes a great way to show your appreciation is to just set aside time for someone. There’s a friend I have had for years but we rarely see each other due to us living thousands of miles away. The best way I can show how much I appreciate her friendship is by scheduling some time to just catch up with her whenever I am in the area. It has made a world of difference for our friendship. Treat your friend to lunch or doing something fun that you both enjoy. Spending time together shows that you want to continue being part of their life and have a desire to develop your relationship further.

Return the gesture. You can also show appreciation by just returning the favor. If you have a friend who always watches your children whenever you are in rough spots, then offer her something in return for that. Think of the needs that your friend has or something he or she really likes and do something kind in return. Offer to clean the house, or watch their children one night, carpool, let them borrow something of yours or cook them one of their favorite foods.

Send a surprise gift. You can also show appreciation by giving your friend a gift. This does not need to be expensive either. Some examples could be a six pack of cold beer, a souvenir from a place you recently visited, or treating them for lunch.

Make time to listen. Show you care by doing a simple act of listening. Listening is especially great if the person tends to listen to you often and provide advice. Reciprocate that act by taking time to listen to their problems and by giving them the time they need to really express themselves.

Be positive with others. Try to take time to focus on all the kind things that people do for you. Without giving attention to positive actions, you may miss the kind things that someone does for you or not notice. You might also downplay a kind action. Take time to see the kind things others do for you, and that will make it easier for you to identify and show appreciation.

Remember, being able to show someone how much you appreciate their actions can improve your relationships, make you more aware of kind things people do for you, and allow you to better identify kind people in your life.

How To Stop Lying

Blue Flower

Almost all of us have told a lie during some occasion in our life. Many of these lies might be seemingly harmless such as telling your best friend that her new haircut is cute, even though you feel the haircut makes her face look really fat. Another harmless lie might be telling your employer that the speech he gave to the company was great, even though you really felt it was a bit dull and unenthusiastic.

Some of us tell lies that are harmful and for reasons that we ourselves may not understand. I used to have a really good friend who was a liar. He would tell lies that were just ridiculous and ultimately resulted in him being unable to make friends easily or to maintain a long term relationship. He would tell lies like “oh, I went to the movies last night” even if he was simply just working or proclaiming that “he had all these exceptional talents in math, instruments, and on” when he was maybe talented in just one of those areas and not in any of the other things he listed. These were purposeful lies that were confusing once discovered and resulted in distrust amongst his friends and in his relationships.

You may fall into any of these categories. You may fall into a habit where you tell an unusually high amount of harmless lies or where you make up stories or tell harmful lies to others.

So here’s how to handle this situation.

Acknowledge that you have a problem. Admit to yourself that you are lying and that it’s unhealthy. Some people often fall into the pattern where he will say to himself “oh, it’s just this one time”, or “no big deal, I’ve only lied a few times about this one situation”, or even, “he or she made me lie, so it’s not my fault.” Saying these statements to yourself only makes you not take responsibility for your own lies. You will continually fall into a pattern where you will feel everyone else is at fault, but you, or that the lies do not matter if done every so often. Admit that you have a problem lying and that it needs to be stopped. You cannot truly stop lying until you are able to acknowledge that lying is problematic for your relationships and you will ultimately not be happy if the habit continues.

Understand what lying is. Many of us lie and make so many excuses for those lies. You have probably heard of situations where someone cheated and felt it was okay because he or she did not get attention from their partner, or where you feel it’s okay to not admit a lie until someone asks you about it. Lying by omission is still a lie and does not excuse you from that lie. Try to spend time understanding what lying actually means and what constitutes a lie.

Ask yourself why you are lying? Where ever you may be at on this spectrum, you must understand why you feel you are lying. Try not to be consumed with each individual lie, but focus on why these lies are actually occurring. I remember when I was younger, I used to purposely exaggerate my achievements or say that I had participated in something, when I had not. After thinking about why I was lying, I realized I was lying because I wanted people to not think I was stupid and that I was lacking confidence in myself. This helped me tremendously with not exaggerating so much and not saying I had done something that I never did. So what are your reasons for lying? Are you lacking confidence? Are you insecure? Are you seeking attention from someone? Do you want to feel accepted by others so much you feel the need to lie? Are you afraid to tell the truth? Are you having such a tough time facing the consequences of your actions that you feel the need to lie as a way of coping or dealing with problems?

Communicate your problem to others. If the lie is compulsive and/or hurting relationships with others then be honest about those lies. My friend, at one point, had admitted to me a few lies he had made in our friendship. He admitted those lies to me and told me that this was a problem. Afterwards we had worked through it and have both tried to make an environment where he can be open with me and this has helped him tremendously with being honest. I was able to give him good feedback on how to quit lying and he felt like he was able to communicate that he had a problem with me.

Start small. Work on being honest one step at a time. Try being honest about things that you normally wouldn’t be honest about. Do you usually tell your friends you are adopted, to avoid admitting your poor relationship with your parents? Instead tell people you meet that you have parents and aren’t all that close. Do you tell dates you do not have a history of cheating? In your next relationship admit that you have cheated in the past before. Do you usually tell people you are really good at math? Instead, tell people the truth about how poorly you do in that subject. This will help you make honesty a habit and realize that it’s okay to be honest.

Satisfy your needs in a healthy manner. After the process of trying to understand why you are lying you may find yourself having emotional needs but feeling like there are not any ways to satisfy those needs except through the use of lying. Try to think of ways you can satisfy those needs without lying. Trying to satisfy needs through the use of lies will only create unhappiness for you in the long run and will result in poor relationships with others. It’s necessary to find other ways to meet those needs.

Apologize. If you have lied enough to hurt meaningful relationships then it’s time to stop and apologize to that person. Do not give excuses or try to explain away the lies. Tell them you did something terrible and that you are genuinely sorry, and are working on trying to stop this habit of lying. If you are in relationships where you have not yet admitted the lie, then now is the time to admit that lie. It may be difficult but continuing to lie will only make matters worse. Admit your lie and be ready to apologize and work to strengthen that relationship again.

Admit you are not perfect. Lying can result when trying to maintain a certain self-image to others. You may lie because you do not want to look stupid or you think others will judge you for not knowing something. Realize you are not perfect and never will be. Nobody knows everything and very talented people may not know even very simple answers. I just recently heard a very talented writer proclaim that she thought Poland was a city, and did not realize it was a country. Her saying that did not make me think that this woman of high talent was suddenly stupid. If you do not know the answer to something, then admit that, and be honest about what you do know. You will earn greater respect for your honesty.

Seek help. If necessary, find help from a counselor or psychologist. Seeking guidance from a counselor will provide you with the extra help you need to battle problems that are making the problem of lying worse.

Remind yourself of the benefits of honesty. Honesty is a wonderful thing and will allow you to be confident with yourself, to accept yourself and the world around you, to have stronger relationships with others, and to cause less pain and feel less guilt. We all have our own personal benefits for not lying. Do you feel more accepted being yourself? Do you have a happier relationship with your spouse when being honest? Are you spending more time being proud of real achievements than fake ones? Remind yourself of the beauties of honesty and how honesty is continually making your life happier.