Advice For My Best Friend

advice for my best friend

Quick – What’s the best free thing in the world that most people usually refuse to accept? That’s right, it’s good advice. We have all been there. Heck, sometimes we ignore our own selves when it comes to good advice. Since I absorb every self help and motivational book, video, and podcast I can find, I decided to set down a list of things I would tell my best friend – and then follow that list myself. Feel free to come along.

Do Something Today That Your Future Self Will Thank You For

I have not been able to trace down the author of that quote, but it is quite powerful. Every single day of your life, do something that will bring you more knowledge, improve your skills, move you towards a goal, etc. If you do a little bit each and every day, that effort will begin to add up in your life and bring you a happier and more fruitful future.

This could also be thought of as planting a seed each day. Take that cooking class. Open that business you are passionate about. Learn to code a new computer program. Go on that vacation with your family or your best friend. Spend that extra time with your loved ones. You are essentially investing in a happier you.

Start Saving and Investing Today

Compound interest is your friend. And who doesn’t want to earn interest on their interest? The earlier you get started saving and investing, the more independence and freedom you will have in life. While money doesn’t necessarily lead to happiness,  the freedom and independence it provides actually does. Saving and investing money can be confusing and, therefore, scary. The best way is to automate the funds to go to various places so you never miss the money from your paycheck. Here are some good ways to get started:

If you have access to a retirement plan at work, utilize it now. If not, start an IRA. Then increase the amount you contribute to it every year. You will never miss the increases if you automate the deductions, and you will be building an impressive net worth. (Be sure to use an experienced financial planner or do your own homework before allocating those funds.)

Open an online savings account and set money to automatically transfer to it each month. (We opened up a Marcus online account and have been happily stashing money in it every month for a while now. We are saving money every month with absolutely no effort on our part.)

If you would like to go further, index funds are recommended by virtually all investment gurus. The Vanguard 500 Index is generally considered a good investment because it covers 500 of the biggest and best established companies around. It also has extremely low fees and can easily be bought through your own personal brokerage account. You can purchase EFTs one share at a time or you can buy directly into the fund for an investment of $3000 or more.  You can open a Vanguard account here. To learn more about the Vanguard 500 Index click here.

Be Who You Really Are

Remember: “If I want to be free, I’ve gotta be me.”

This quote was originally by Bill Gove, but is frequently repeated by Bob Proctor, who was one of his disciples. It reminds us to always live the most original version of us. Don’t settle for just okay in your life when you can be extraordinary instead. Never think about the things you can’t accomplish, but focus on what you CAN accomplish instead. Another famous man (Henry Ford) said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t – Either way you are right.”  Every day people accomplish things that were not possible, which tells me that almost anything is possible if you want it badly enough. Don’t stop growing and improving yourself every day.

Read Think and Grow Rich Every Year of Your Life

Most super successful people read as many books as possible each year. Some actually read a book each week. However, the quality of  each book matters. Think and Grow Rich has become the bible of success for many people around the world because is has proved its worth over the decades since it was first published.

There are many other classic books out there to help you along your journey. I personally like anything by John Assaraf or Bob Proctor. You can also find tons of videos by them and many others on YouTube that are inspirational and life changing.

Forgive Everyone for Everything

We humans are a grudge holding bunch. Secretly, we love to revel in the terrible things that bad people do to us. Only, there’s really no such thing as a “bad person” but only bad things done by imperfect humans. You have already heard the spiel about forgiving others so you can feel better yourself. Forgiveness is for you, not them. That is completely true. But the best and most unselfish thing to do is forgive them for both of you. We are all in this together, so sometimes you have to forgive others for being human. While you are at it, extend that same courtesy to yourself.

You Don’t Need To Be Perfect

Sometimes it is easier to forgive others than ourselves. Mistakes happen to everyone and no one can ever be perfect everyday in every way. Enough said.

Live in the Present, Not the Past or the Future

This is also known as mindfulness and it has been one of my personal downfalls. It took me years to learn how to do this. I literally used to spend around 90 percent of my waking hours worrying about things in the past I couldn’t change or imagined things in the future that mostly never happened. It takes some time to retrain your brain, but you can learn to enjoy your present moment in life. And what a difference it makes!

Exercise and meditation are two of the best ways to accomplish mindfulness, as well as monitoring your thoughts and redirecting back to the present when your thoughts slip to the past or future.  Of course, you can always revisit the past and plan for the future sometimes, just don’t miss the beautiful moments of the life you are living today.

Begin and End Every Single Day with Gratitude

Science has shown that positive and negative thoughts cannot exist in the brain at the same time. It is literally not physically possible. This means every time you choose to have a positive thought you are literally blocking out a potentially negative thought. Think about how powerful that can be in your life. When you start each day with gratitude, you prime your mind to think about happy, positive things all day long.  Also, when you end your day with gratitude, you prime your unconscious mind for your hours of sleep. (Yes, we all know our unconscious mind keeps working even while we sleep.)

So pick three things to be grateful for when you wake up each morning and three different things when you go to bed. Writing these down in a journal is even better because you can revisit previous entries from time to time and celebrate the accumulation of good things in your life.

Exercise and Meditate Every Day

Your body needs more activity and your mind needs a break! That is true of the majority of the population anyway. When your body gets both of these things everyday (or at least most days) it balances both your body and your mind because you are feeding both exactly what they need. Stress will literally begin to melt away and your true self will begin to emerge. Your health will likely improve as well.

These articles about exercise and meditation from Harvard Health back it up.

It’s Okay to Be Successful and Happy

This one trips up a lot of people, including myself. We (I) sometimes feel like we have no right to want financial success and happiness in our lives when there’s so much poverty and misery in the world. That’s like saying some people are starving so I must starve too. That makes no sense. There must be entrepreneurs to help create jobs for others. There must be authors to inspire others. This world requires creators and developers to give the world joy and fill its needs. Without that, we would become stagnant.

The trick is to be as successful as possible, but be generous with what you have. That’s a win/win situation for everyone.

Set Detailed Goals and Write Them Down

There is a HUGE difference between “I want to retire early” and “I will retire at age 50 with a net worth of $1 million and $15,000 of monthly  income.” Science has proven that people who write down their goals and make them very specific are much more likely to achieve them. It also helps to read over your goals everyday and maybe even post them on your bathroom mirror.

Everyday is a  new opportunity to achieve something wonderful in your life, so don’t spend time on things unless they make you happy or get you closer to your goals.

Keep Your Eye On the Prize

Always remember what success looks like. Lots of money with no close relationships would be misery. So would being broke with lots of friends. Balance is what we all need in life, so make sure to pay attention to your health, wealth, and happiness at all times.

I have chosen this list as the most basic things to make the most of life. Feel free to add to it as needed.

You might also like: The Value of Fitting In (Or Not)

The Value of Fitting In (or Not)

The Value of Fitting In

Today I was in a school and saw some children interacting. It was immediately clear which students “fit in” and which ones did not. You could tell by the conversations and body language of the whole class that everyone there understood that as well.

This led me to think about the value of fitting in with others in our society. Most all of us work hard at this for the duration of our lives. It starts when we begin our schooling, or sometimes even before. It is safe to say that a large amount of our life energy is spent trying to attain the goal of acceptance, while fearing that any slight provocation or slip will result in all that hard work going down the drain.

Why do we invest so much of ourselves into fitting in? I believe it is mostly fear.

No one wants be feel left out in life. So we fear not having friends, or a network of support when something goes wrong in our lives. We also want to know that others approve of us and our way of life. The need to belong to a group or a family is so strong that sometimes we swallow our principles and allow ourselves to be put in positions that are uncomfortable.

But what would happen if we allowed ourselves to just be?

What if there was never an agenda to any interaction we had had with anyone? Could life just unfold in a more peaceful, relaxed way? Maybe everyday could be more pleasant if we didn’t expend so much energy trying to force things to unfold in certain ways.

Because in the end, does it really make that much difference? I would wager that being a completely genuine person who is confident would gain us all more acceptance than any amount of extra effort could ever could. Who isn’t attracted to the company of a smiling, pleasant person? And in essence, isn’t that really who we all strive to be anyway?

So I challenge you (as well as myself) to become that person as this year unfolds.

Forget trying to impress anyone or sell yourself to anyone. Just be your normal, awesome self and see what happens.

You might also like Let Go of the Need To Be Perfect.

Happiness is a State of Mind, Not a Destination

happiness is a state of mind, not a destinationThe Big Decision

Everyday we wake up and make a big decision.

Before our feet ever hit the floor, we must decide whether we will be happy or unhappy for the day.

Now, some people will automatically think that is an oversimplified statement, but really it’s not. Think about it. Everyone knows that one person who is always happy, no matter what. And often that person is not rich and does not have a perfect life. (At the time of this writing there is a documentary on Netflix called “Happy” which highlights this and I highly recommend watching it.)

You see, we often look to outside circumstances and other people to provide our happiness. We may not realize that, but we do. True happiness comes from within ourselves. It is a state of mind – a state of being. If you are a truly happy person, then things that happen around you generally don’t change that.

Make the choice right now to be happy and don’t let anything change that decision.

Stop Waiting for Happiness To Happen

One day a few years ago, I was talking to my father about some life issues when he said, “Angela, if you don’t stop that you will wish your whole life away.”

Wow! What an insight!

He was right. I was always living for the next weekend or vacation. I thought I would be happy when I got a new car, then when it was paid off. Or when I paid off a different bill or accomplished  something at work. There was always that one thing that I needed in order to be happy. I had been postponing my happiness for years without really realizing it.

I didn’t really grasp the concept that I could be happy while life was unfolding. It didn’t have to wait for anything. It was as easy as making a one second decision.

All those reasons I was using to not be happy were nothing more than excuses.

The Easiest Way To Happiness

The #1 way to get happy and stay happy is practicing gratitude each and every day.

Those who practice it religiously will tell you that emphatically.  When you start every day thinking about the abundance in your life, it is virtually impossible to feel unhappy. Also, your mind cannot think positive and negative thoughts at the same time. It is completely impossible. So while you are thinking off all the things you are thankful for in your life, you are literally pushing all the negative thoughts away.

For example, I begin each day saying “thank you” for everything I can think of.  As I get out of bed, take a shower, brush my teeth, etc. Then I also go back to that exercise throughout the day. Sometimes I do that when I eat, or if I encounter a negative situation or person. It immediately puts me back into a happy state of mind.

Most people have better lives than they think because they focus on the negative things instead of the positive ones. Once you start to focus on the good things, then your life will begin to feel more abundant. You will literally feel a shift in your life.

Say it in your head, say it out loud, or even keep a gratitude journal so you can look back at all your blessings over time. Just start today.

Steps To Happiness Everyday

  1. Decide to be happy when you wake each morning.
  2. Decide to be happy right this minute and stop using excuses not to be.
  3. Use gratitude throughout every day to remind you of your wonderful life.

It’s that simple! Start your happiness journey right now!

 

Why You Must Be Kind To Be a Minimalist

why you must be kind to be a minimalist

My husband and I always notice how most dog owners are friendly, outgoing people. It is quite unusual (at least in our part of the country) to see anyone walking a dog who doesn’t have pleasant demeanor and a kind word for anyone passing by.

Our theory is that dog owners:

  1. Are drawn to the fun loving attributes of dogs because they exhibit those traits themselves.
  2. Are less stressed because dogs provide stress relief in their lives by way of closeness and silliness.

The same goes for minimalists.

Well, not exactly…..but sort of.

Minimalist are also friendly, outgoing people. And it is also for similar reasons to dog lovers. In fact, minimalist often ARE dog lovers.

Stay with me here…..I’m going somewhere with this……I promise.

You see, being a minimalist allows you to strip away all the things in your life that are not important. And believe me, there are lots more unimportant things in our lives than most of us realize.

When you get rid of the things that are not important and only the good things remain, then you will become a more relaxed, happier person. Your joy will begin to overflow. Then the most amazing thing will happen. You will suddenly be super nice to everyone around you…..even complete strangers!

So you really shouldn’t ask why you must be kind to be a minimalist, but rather, how can you be a minimalist and not be kind?

As for dogs, as a semi minimalist (I’m still working on it) I find that a dog (or in my case 2) are essential to my happiness. When I strip everything away, my fur babies are on my top ten list of things that make me happy. They are a part of our family, and they bring joy to everyone in our home. (It’s like having two more kids that you don’t have to start college funds for.)

Besides, I truly believe that way deep down, even the meanest, nastiest person really wants to be kind to other people. When we take away all the clutter and see our lives clearly, then love and kindness stand above all else.

And, really, nothing else truly matters.

What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew (Please Take Notes Guys!)

what wives wish their husbands knew

What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew Is Truly Not a Secret!

It’s not even a book of secrets…….

So I am sitting here on this wonderful Tuesday night feeling particularly insightful and I just decided it was time to write this article.

Everybody knows that males and females are different, right? Women are both celebrated and vilified by guys. You think we are soft, alluring, intoxicating, and sometimes scary. (Want to clear any room full of guys? Just put one crying girl in there!)

I was watching a video clip on YouTube the other day (see below) where John Rzeznik (lead singer of Goo Goo Dolls in case you don’t know – I’m a huge fan) made a comment about having a girlfriend but that she could “turn into a b**** at any moment”  because women are “unpredictable” among other things. See? Even guys of that caliber have issues figuring out girls.

 

My own husband says I am unpredictable – which both excites and terrifies him. I call that entertaining, but he doesn’t think that’s nearly as funny as I do. But I digress…..

It is what it is, and you guys are not always a piece of cake to live with either. (Just thought I would throw that little fact in.)

We Are From That Other Planet (The Mysterious One)

Can you imagine how boring your life would be if we were JUST LIKE YOU? Some guys complain constantly about their wives/girlfriends, but how much fun would it be to live with a clone of yourself? Now, I am not saying that all guys are disorganized and smelly (I know a few who are neat freaks), but a house becomes a home when you put a female in it.

Back in my single days I had a guy friend who used to say he loved coming over because we (my roommate and I) always had candles burning and things were always cozy at our place. Looking back now, I can see it probably didn’t hurt that not one, but two females lived there too.

And let’s face it, your burping, bragging buddies get old after awhile and you want a totally different kind of companionship. I am not just referring to sex here, either. And you know that even though you like to joke about our monthly problems and other foreign matters that you don’t understand, you secretly revel in the fact that you know our most personal tidbits and are intimately involved in our mysterious world.

So here’s what you really need to know about us:

1. We Don’t Need To Be Fixed (So Please Shut Up While We Cry)

I realize you are a man and it’s your job to fix things, but please stick to changing light bulbs and killing spiders. Sometimes we just need to cry it all out and there’s nothing you can do about it, no matter how hard you try. When we are ready for your suggestions we will ask for them, and don’t worry because that time WILL come. Until then, we just need a big shoulder to cry on.

2. Our Ability To Turn Into a B**** At Any Moment Is Totally Relative To Your Mouth Opening and Things Coming Out of It

Now, I realize that you are not the cause of everything that goes wrong in our lives, but men have a way of rubbing salt into any wound we might have. There are many things that men can do that make us want to morph into those scary creatures you are afraid of, but here’s the worst one. You don’t listen to us and then try to cover it up. (^%^$%#$%@$#!$#@#$)!!!! That’s us saying bad words because we are SO frustrated when that happens for the millionth time! Just admit you weren’t listening and let’s try it again. Then please make an attempt to pay attention the next time.

3. Cavemen Are Sexy

Well, certain aspects of it anyway. With very few exceptions, women want to feel protected. Even those who act like they don’t usually do deep down inside, they just don’t want to admit it. Enter the caveman. He was tough, he had tunnel vision, and it was usually on getting what he wanted and needed for survival. So we like the fact that you get snorting mad if someone looks at us – in your eyes we are important and worth protecting.

So if you choose a night with us over a night with your buddies, you are really saying to us “I need you more than my friends” which also means “Because I need you, I will protect you”. (Can you see yourself swinging a huge club? Not the golf kind.)

Now, there are some girls who don’t like violence of any kind. But I am from the South where the girls are delicate and the guys are tough, so I really like the fact that my husband would beat anybody up for me. He doesn’t have to actually DO IT to make me happy, just the fact that he’s willing is enough for me!

4. Holding Our Purse Proves Your Love For Us

Actually, this proves that you value our opinion of you over the opinions of others. But this, in turn, proves that you love us. Every girl wants a guy who will make a fool of himself for her. There’s nothing like having a really tough guy be a total teddy bear for you.

5. If You Want Sex Later, You Will Listen Now

Intimacy is a totally different thing to girls and guys. If you want to have a healthy sex life, then you need to have a healthy relationship in every other way. Sorry, guys, but that’s how it works for girls. If you are being a jerk, WE ARE NOT EVEN ATTRACTED TO YOU! Literally. And what is the biggest way that guys are usually jerks to girls? You got it – not listening. It is SO frustrating to spend your time and energy telling a guy something that’s important only to find that he didn’t listen to one word of it!!!

6. You Don’t Have To Give Us the Moon

I know that male egos are something that guys have to carry around your whole lives. Your entire existence in one big peeing contest. I get that. A guy friend recently told me that guys are always wondering if they are “good enough” and that obviously includes how much you can give your girl. However, girls are a lot more forgiving than you probably think. We love you because you hold our hair out of the toilet when we are sick and because you make up sweet pet names for us. The smallest things you do are usually what matters most to us. Time and attention are what we need the most. That costs nothing but makes the biggest impact in our lives. It also shapes our feelings about you more than anything you could ever buy for us.

So to sum it up, what wives wish their husbands knew is this: we need your time, attention, and devotion. But I bet you already knew that deep down inside, right? Don’t treat her the way you want to be treated. She’s from Venus, not Mars.

There you have it – insight into the female mind. Thanks for visiting our world, please return often!

If you will do the things above, you will get the following things in return: our undying love, devotion, and admiration. In short, you will be our heroes! Isn’t that what your male ego needs to begin with?

Here are two resources to help you make your wife extremely happy:

If you are having relationship issues and need a plan to keep your relationship from failing, please visit The Magic of Making Up.

Just need a little something to spice things up a bit? Try 1000 Questions for Couples instead.

Husband Tips: How To Be Her Hero

husband tipsNeed a Few Husband Tips?

Ever wish marriage came with a manual? If only life could be so easy! Most men could use a husband guide to with give exact instructions to get them from Point A to Point B. You know, one hundred and one husband tips for an incredible marriage. But alas….God finds humor in wiring men and women differently, but aren’t we glad he does? Just think how boring life could be without our differences. Anyway, your wife does not expect you to be perfect, but she does want you to at least try. It’s not a hard as it might sound, and she’s worth it, right? So here’s some pointers to help. Let’s cover the basics first:

  1. Love her
  2. Show her that you love her (This IS different than Number 1.)
  3. Respect her in private and in public
  4. Make time for her
  5. Apologize when you are wrong
  6. Put her above everything except God (if you are a believer)
  7. Go to church with her (if she likes to go)
  8. Talk and listen to her
  9. Protect her
  10. Do little romantic things for her

Got that covered? Now, let’s talk about other things that you can do. I have been married for close to 14 years and have two adorable little boys, so I have some wisdom I can share with you guys. You are not lost, here is where you start…..

1. You Are Probably Not Off Track As Much As You Might Think.

You deserve a good ole pat on the back. You have already made some good choices along the way. First, you were innovative enough to find the woman of your dreams, then you were savvy enough to marry her. Second, you made the life-changing choice to marry that woman. Third, you love her (and yourself) enough to find information to make your marriage the best it can be. (There is always room for improvement, no matter what.)

Next, all you need to do is make a few small changes and you will see some spectacular changes in your marriage.

2. Consider Telling Your Wife That You Are Making Some Changes.

Honesty will usually get you far and sometimes it is best to come right out and tell your wife that you are trying to improve your marriage. When you tell her what you are working on she might even give you some ideas. Each wife is different but she might provide you with some specific ideas on things that need some improvement.

3. Start With Little Things.

Making changes can sometimes be difficult and even more difficult to maintain over time. That is why you shoud aim for no more than one change per week. If this seems daunting to you, then go for one change every two weeks instead. It is important for you to have a plan that you can stick to. A husband guide is only useful if you are able to follow it.

4. Spend At Least 20 Minutes Each Day Giving Her Your Complete Attention.

You are probably thinking that is not much time, but it may be more quality time than you are spending together now. Set aside the time just after you get home each day or right before bedtime. It can be hard to establish this habit, but the importance of this step in improving your marriage can not be overstated.

5. Make a Short List of Things You Do That Annoy Her.

Be honest with yourself. You know the things you do that make her crazy. Maybe you do not close the kitchen cabinet doors. (Some of us short girls get bumped in the head from that, you know?) Do you leave the lid off the toothpaste? Could it be that you forget your anniversary every year? Is you mother’s birthday more important to you than your wife’s? You must be honest with yourself or you will not know what to fix. These husband tips only work if you use them.

6. Take Charge – You Are the Boss of You!

Attack that list of annoying things. It is important to write this all down. Draw a line down the middle of a sheet of paper. Now list the behaviors on one side and the action you will take to fix the problem on the other side. Implement one thing each week. This step goes a long, long way. It is sort of like your own personalized husband guide. This is NOT difficult. You are the boss of you and you simply must decide that your marriage and her happiness is worth the time and effort. It pays off big in the end, trust me.

7. Now Fix the Really Big Things.

Honestly, some things take more time and effort to overcome. If you and your wife have undergone a huge hurt in your marriage, then outside counseling might be needed. Real men take charge and make real steps to fix problems in their home and marriage. There are lots of places to get free counseling out there, especially in churches. Try one and see what happens. If a particular counselor does not seem right for you, go find another one. Don’t give up.

8. Love Her – and Show It To Everyone.

Here’s how to make her truly happy. Don’t just tell her you love her, show her too. Do it in huge ways that shows everyone around you that you love her completely. You want to feel loved, respected, and cherished, right? So does your wife. Engulf her with love in so many ways that she is mesmerized. Think that will not make an impact on her? So how do you do that? Pack a great picnic and candle and surprise her at work. Just eat it at her desk if necessary. Or just go to her break room, does not matter. Bring her a flower everyday for a week (or a month). Place notes for her everywhere in the house or at her work. Send or drop off small presents for her at work. Rent a large billboard and say “happy birthday” to her. Place an add in the newspaper. Say lovely things about her on your Facebook page. Always show love and adoration for her in front of all your friends and family. Lots of hugs and kisses with some special compliments help do the trick. You want the world to know how great you think she is.

The Last Step Is: Get To Work Today.

the magic of making upLittle things make a big impact, so it will not take long to start enjoying the benefits of your efforts. The changes will be huge and you will soon want to do more things for her. Too many spouses are only willing to put in their 50 percent of effort into their marriages. If you don’t keep score and just make a commitment to put in 100 percent yourself, you will probably find your wife starting to put in 100 percent too. Hope these husband tips will kick off a new phase in your marriage. May your life and marriage be peaceful and harmonious. Be an amazing husband that makes your wife swoon!  If your relationship is in trouble, get a step by step plan to turn it around at The Magic of Making Up.