Ten ways to change your life plentifully

By Vikki Moran

1. Be kind to yourself before all others.
We love our family, we love our friends and colleagues but put your health and spirit first. When you are healthy in body and spirit, you can help others. It’s like putting your oxygen on before helping your children on with theirs when flying. Health and spirit is the oxygen for abundant living. Don’t think bad things about yourself or your past. Recognize mistakes from the past, acknowledge them and then move on to realize that you have made yourself better with self-awareness and this is just part of that betterment.

2. Schedule downtime.
Yes, we may be that busy where we need to schedule downtime. Time that you spend without appointments or a to-do list is time you can dream and let ideas flow. Turn off the phones and frankly, all electronics that pull our attention. You will return to your daily routine and schedule refreshed and loaded with good ideas. How do you get better from a flu? With total rest!

3. Give gratitude.
Especially when you can’t see things in front of you to be grateful for. The toughest time to be grateful is when you are full of rage and disappointment, but it is the best time to turn your mind around by expressing gratitude. Try to write three to five grateful blessings down each day at the end of the day. If something good happened and you are afraid you might forget it at the end of the day, send yourself a text. When you pull your thoughts together and see that text, I guarantee a smile even after a horrific day. A gratitude journal is great to keep next to your bed, outlining the days of the week.

4. Plan your day before its start to begin your day smoothly.
Lay your clothes out like your mom may have done for you so that you do not have to decide what to wear in the morning. Make notes of things you wish to accomplish the evening before. Eat only food that is good for you and avoid anything processed. Exercise every day to your ability level. Not everyone needs to run a marathon, but a tracking device can help you get moving and set goals to improve at any age or ability.

5. Stay focused as much as possible on the present.
Living in the past can be crippling and planning for the future often can limit your joy until the future appears. “I will be happy when….” A wonderful way to be present is to be still and listen to nature. It is life affirming and will keep you grounded in the present.

6. Chase away negative thoughts.
Do not pay attention to an inner need to be perfect. Chase away assumptions as they will only hold you back. If you constantly expect too much from yourself, you will often be disappointed and mentally berate yourself. Be realistic and when things do not go your way, let it go.

7. Give compliments to others and be kind with your words.
The reaction from others will always warm your heart. It does not mean to be indirect; if something needs to said that is not a compliment, it does need to be said but always acknowledge the good, too.

8. Listen and watch uplifting messages.
Stay away from the negative messages. The death and destruction culture of entertainment is not where abundance lies. Look for the positive messages and share them.

9. Gravitate to the positive on social media.
If you participate in social media like Facebook, Instagram, and other vehicles, never pass around other people’s ideology. Ideology is polarizing for us and our country on all ends. In the middle always lies the truth! Explain to your Facebook friends that you will not tolerate negative ideology in any direction. Opinions are just that, opinions and not facts. “Unfriend” the offenders but warn them first.

10. Your life is your life, and you need to protect it fiercely.
Work hard but play hard. Pick the people you surround yourself with wisely. If your family and friends do not make you joyful, limit your time with them or at the least create boundries. Negativity is a poison and joy is its antidote.



Find your influence style this year

The ability to influence those around you is a key leadership skill. To influence effectively, you must be adept at getting your opinions and ideas heard, recognized and considered by others.
Use the new year as an opportunity to try a new approach to achieve different results when trying to influence those in either the dining room or the boardroom.
According to clinical psychologist Dr. Steven Stein, CEO of Multi-Health Systems, influence styles can range from reliance on position and power to education, encouragement and collaboration.
Most people rely on pushing or advocating for a position, which can create a tension between parties, Stein said. It immediately draws a line in the sand between the two sides and leaves people feeling unheard and disrespected. Last year, you may have found yourself using these influence techniques:
Rationalizing, which is a fact-based approach, is using logical reasoning to convince others of your point of view. When used correctly, rationalizing moves discussion to a less emotional space. It works best when the people involved haven’t already made up their minds about a certain topic. Some people react negatively to this influence style, assuming you value your data more than their feelings.
Asserting involves enforcing your dominance through your position or experience to explain why people should believe you. You ask people to comply rather than agree with you. Others can perceive this as aggressive, self-serving and competitive. If they don’t respect your position, your assertion will fall flat.
The turn of a new year might be the time to change up your tactics. To change someone’s mind, you may want to try pulling people toward you and your point of view. If you’re starting on opposite sides of disagreement, find a way to unite the two groups by using these techniques:
Bridging entails building communities based on common, mutual interests. Establish trust by listening to what others have to say. Show you’re listening and then try to find something you agree upon. Finding somewhere small to start where you can agree might help you build toward a resolution.
Inspiring entails advocating for your position by encouraging others with a sense of shared purpose and exciting possibilities. Famous leaders, like Steve Jobs, are remembered for rallying their employees with passionate words and empowering people to share the same feelings.
This year, if you end up arguing with a relative about politics or a colleague about an aspect of your business, take a step back. After exhausting yourselves with facts and figures, try finding common ground. Learn more about techniques for influencing others at mhs.com.



Raising eager readers
This new year, inspire your little ones to love reading

It can be difficult for parents to know exactly when to start teaching their children how to identify colors and numbers or when the right time is to start reading to them. However, the earlier parents begin reading to their kids, the better prepared they can be once they reach school age.
In fact, reading to children at home can set them up for success in school and in life, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. With the right resources, parents can influence their kids’ enjoyment of reading. These tips from the Pizza Hut BOOK IT! Program, which aims to motivate kindergarten through sixth-grade students to read by rewarding them with praise and pizza, can help inspire a lifelong love of reading.
Read to your children early and often. Parental involvement is one of the best predictors of future academic achievement, according to research published in the Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community. Getting into a routine of reading to your children at a young age is a habit that can be pivotal to developing a love of reading. As you read, point out words, colors and images and ask questions about the story to help children develop a deeper understanding and relate what they have learned back to other books and activities.
Regularly visit the library. Libraries typically have lists available of favorite books for various age groups and can help parents and kids create reading lists of stories that match reading levels and interests. Additionally, attending “story times” and other library activities tailored to age-specific target audiences can expose your child to new books.
Make books easily accessible. Having multiple locations in the home where you keep books can inspire children to pick one up any time. Start with a main bookshelf in your child’s room that lets him or her easily see the titles, and place additional book storage locations in different rooms where your family typically spends the most time.
Get comfy. Creating the perfect spot (or spots) to read has a lot to do with individual children. While some prefer to read with mom and dad in a chair or on a couch, others prefer their own space where they can cuddle up with a good book. If space allows, consider dedicating a corner of your child’s bedroom or playroom as a “book nook.”
Take advantage of technology. The use of technology can aid in creating excitement about reading. To help develop strong reading habits and enhance your child’s vocabulary and ability to comprehend, consider supplementing traditional books with devices such as e-readers and tablets or smartphones equipped with age-appropriate reading and learning applications.
Keep reading. Children often see their parents as role models. If you read often, your children will be more likely to pick up the habit, as well, according to a BOOK IT! survey. It revealed that adults who have gone through the program are more likely to establish regular reading routines with their families, as 54 percent of the survey respondents said they read with their children every day, compared to 32 percent who did not participate in the program.
For more information and ways to help inspire young readers, visit bookitprogram.com.



A book for the New Year:
What Is the Meaning of Life? And 92 Other Things I Don’t Have the Answers To©

By Dani Sgueglia

As the last of the glitter and twinkle of the holidays is packed away and we settle in to turn the calendar to a New Year, we often reflect on what has been, what is upon us and what is yet to come. Sometimes pondering the abundance of our lives and slowing our hectic minds can be helped along by a special tool. Once you have cozied up into your favorite reading nook with a cup of tea with the snow gently falling outside your window, make sure to reach for What Is the Meaning of Life? And 92 Other Things I Don’t Have the Answers To© by Don Hermann (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 11/2017, 101 pages.) This fun tool is formatted as a series of thought provoking, unanswered questions designed to engage you, to inspire you and to cultivate contemplation.
We find that it is so easy to wander from the things in life that matter and to stray from your own unique abundant path forward. Through wit and knowledge that come from aging, Don Hermann drives us to remember always that life is stunning, yet complex.
A learned man in his early 80s, Hermann is open about his inspiration, age and desire to share his experience with his readers by asking questions. The foreword dives right in with the premise of the book, which was borne from an introspective young man consistently posing questions to himself. Throughout his life, Hermann had a notebook close at hand. Over the years, his notebooks became filled with questions. Peridically he would revisit these questions and was struck by his answers and how they changed over time. This process has been enlightening for him in chronicling his life, his loves, his values and the abundance he sees within.
The compilation of these questions evolved organically. The reader, as Hermann discovered, will notice trends in the subjects, such as “Does fear frighten or motivate you?” and “Are you afraid to fail?” Success and how one classifies a “life well lived” is also a prevelant topic of reflection, including“Have you made your parents proud?” and “How many people call you their ‘best friend?”
Hermann considers this collection of questions a “thinking person’s book.” He sees this book as something very personal, with each question being a conversation-starter either with yourself or a stranger. A single question, posed in a group, will have myriad answers, all reflecting personally on the respondent.
While reading this collection, I thought about stereotypes. Hermann writes, “You know what else I’ve wondered: Am I a different person behind the wheel of my car? Does it give me license to be a jerk?” I asked him if these questions were inspired by stereotypes of age and if he saw his answers change over time. He answered by telling me a story of his father, who was considered a very sweet man, kind and gentle. His personality changed, however, behind the wheel of the car where he was aggressive and, in many ways, unrecognizable to his neighbors.
Hermann said that he is interested in challenging us to ask ourselves if, like his father, we change when driving and if we become “jerks” behind the wheel, possibly endangering ourselves and those who share the road. These thought-provoking questions coax us to answer with reflections on our own lives and our own experiences.
In speaking with the author of this most unique book, I found that the tone of his voice evoked a wisdom garnered through years of experiences and adventures that the romantic in me likened to a sage. We spoke at length. He was an easy person to speak to—kind, genteel and filled with stories. We discussed why he started this project and how it evolved over time. He told me about his career as an “ad man” in New York City and stories of George Steinbrenner and Phil Rizzuto and how satisfying it is to see his visions come to life.
This petite book packs a serious philosophical punch. It can be read in an afternoon, but don’t rush to put the book on the shelf to collect dust. Keep it close, on a side table with a journal and a pen at hand and use it as a tool to encourage meditation and to cultivate a curated collection of thoughts, memories, and answers to life’s mysteries. Just remember that those answers may change in a month, a day or simply with the change of the wind and certainly with the growth in abundance of your “life well lived.”


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