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Growing Happier Lives

I just finished a book by Harvard professor Arthur Brooks with insights by Oprah Winfrey. Here are useful nuggets you can use to create a happier life.  See if any of them surprises you.

3 Basic Pillars

The three basic pillars of happiness are enjoyment, satisfaction, and purpose. According to Brooks these “macronutrients” of happiness are scientifically proven by studies and our own life experiences.  Case studies and Brooks’ own family are examples of this principle. Some perceptions from Oprah’s own life also illustrate the importance of each one. The book reveals types of career paths you might have chosen due to one of these areas being out of balance. Whether it’s a job or relationship, you need these three “macronutrients” to feel complete joy.

Your Outlook

Another aspect to being happier, (or less unhappy) is having hope. We all have bad things happen in our lives, even tragic. Your reaction and how you deal with those experiences also play into your happiness.

Brooks explains it like this. “There’s a word for believing you can make things better without distorting reality; not optimism, but hope.” Again, illustrated with life and death examples of crisis and how individuals respond to those events determines levels of happiness. Brooks himself explains, he was not a happy person when starting out in his initial career. I won’t spoil anything for you, but his journey is inspiring.

Spirituality

Call it what you will, but believing in a higher power other than focusing on yourself makes a huge difference. Explained as “meditation” or simple connecting on a transcendental level for peace, this is the third area to explore.

Within you lies the power to create happiness and a happier life, but you must live in love and service. Several other spiritual writings assert what Brooks and Winfrey explain, ways they’ve been able to reach this level of contentment.

Living in love is the key along with these main factors. Healthy and happy relationships with the people we are close too, help us understand the feeling of joy and contentment. Living in gratitude, makes us appreciate the good and bad times in our lives.  So, remember, simple joyful experiences are the best kind and keeps us mindful of the love and happiness in our lives.

Think about the last time you were truly happy and joyful. What were you doing?

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Women’s History Month

March, celebrated globally as Women’s History Month, holds special significance for young women navigating the complexities of modern life. This dedicated month serves as a platform to reflect on achievements, acknowledge challenges, and amplify the voices of women. For young women, Women’s History Month is more than just March; it’s an opportunity for empowerment, inspiration, and collective progress.

Recognition of Achievements

Women’s History Month allows the average young woman to celebrate the progress of those who paved the way before her. It’s a time to honor the trailblazers who shattered glass ceilings, proving that gender should never be a barrier. From women in science and technology to leaders in various fields, these role models inspire young women. Women need to dream big and strive for excellence in their chosen paths.

Acknowledgment of Challenges

While celebrating achievements, March prompts a reflection on the challenges women continue to face today. The average young woman recognizes the importance of recognizing and addressing issues like gender inequality, workplace discrimination, and societal expectations. This awareness fuels a commitment to advocating for change and fostering environments where all women can thrive.

Amplifying Voices

Women’s History Month provides a platform for us all to have our voices heard. It’s a time to share stories, experiences, and perspectives that often go unheard. Social media campaigns, events, and discussions become avenues for women to connect and contribute to the broader conversation about equality.

Fostering Support

This dedicated month fosters a sense of solidarity among young women. It’s a reminder that they are not alone in our journeys. There’s a community of diverse voices sharing similar experiences. Through workshops and public initiatives, women come together to support and learn from each other. This uplifting, continuous action creates networks women can use beyond the month of March.

Personal Growth

Women’s History Month serves as a catalyst for personal growth and empowerment. The average young woman draws inspiration from the stories of resilience, determination, and courage shared by others before her.  Whether it’s learning new skills, pursuing further education, or taking on leadership roles, this time ignites a sense of possibility. The belief that every woman can contribute to positive change.

Reflecting All Women

This time also prompts a deeper reflection on intersectionality. Acknowledging that the experiences of women are shaped by factors such as race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and more. Women recognize the importance of inclusivity. We all need to strive to provide a narrative that is diverse and representative of all women continually.

Through these lenses, Women’s History Month becomes a dynamic force. We can propel young women toward empowerment, growth, and the pursuit of equality in all aspects of life. We all learn by helping others.

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Tips for Heart Health

Prioritizing heart health becomes increasingly important over time for a fulfilling and energetic life. Adopting lifestyle choices that support cardiovascular well-being can contribute to a healthier and more active aging process. Here are simple tips to stay heart-healthy as you navigate this new year.

Heart-Healthy Diet

Nutrition plays a pivotal role in maintaining heart health, especially as we age. Embrace a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Choose nutrient-dense foods that provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Minimize salt intake to support healthy blood pressure levels.

Consider the Mediterranean diet, known for its heart-protective qualities, emphasizing olive oil, fish, nuts, and plenty of plant-based foods. Consulting with healthcare professionals or a registered dietitian can help your dietary choices based on your health needs and preferences.

Exercise

Engaging in regular physical activity is a cornerstone of heart health, regardless of age. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, incorporating activities that elevate your heart rate. Walking, swimming, cycling, and low-impact aerobics are excellent choices.

Additionally, include strength training exercises to maintain muscle mass, supporting overall cardiovascular fitness. Consult with a healthcare provider before starting a new exercise regimen, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions.

Manage Stress

This is difficult for most of us, but stress management is integral to heart health. Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular issues. Incorporate stress-reducing activities into your routine, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or spending time in nature.

Cultivate hobbies that bring you joy and relaxation, providing a healthy outlet for stress. Prioritizing mental well-being contributes not only to heart health but also to overall quality of life.

Regular Health Check-ups

Regular health check-ups and monitoring are necessary components of heart health maintenance. Schedule routine visits with your healthcare provider to assess blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and overall cardiovascular health.

Early detection of potential issues allows for proactive interventions and lifestyle adjustments. Stay informed about your health metrics and collaborate with your doctor to create a personalized plan for heart wellness.

Stay Hydrated

Maintaining proper hydration is often overlooked but is crucial for heart health. Ensure an adequate water intake to support overall bodily functions. Additionally, limit alcohol consumption, as excessive alcohol can contribute to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular concerns. When alcohol is interfering with family, friends, or your job it’s time to rethink your drinking and seek help.

Staying heart-healthy involves a holistic approach encompassing dietary choices, regular exercise, stress management, and proactive health monitoring. Adopting heart-protective habits enhances the quality of life, allowing you to age gracefully while prioritizing cardiovascular well-being.

Remember, consulting with healthcare professionals and making gradual changes, helps a heart-healthy lifestyle and supports a fulfilling and vibrant life.

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Valentine’s Day Gifts

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, and what better way to express your affection than gifts from the heart? While grand gestures are wonderful, sometimes it’s the simple, thoughtful presents that leave a lasting impression. Here are three heartfelt and budget-friendly gift ideas that will surely make your Valentine’s Day special without breaking the bank.

Handwritten Love Letter

In the age of online everything, there’s something incredibly intimate about receiving a handwritten love letter. Take the time to put pen to paper and express your feelings in a heartfelt note. Share your favorite memories, the reasons you love your partner, or your hopes for the future.

A handwritten letter adds a personal touch that can’t be replicated by a text or email. Consider placing the letter in a decorative envelope or tying it with a ribbon for an extra romantic touch.

Customized Memory Jar

Create a personalized memory jar filled with cherished moments and shared experiences. Gather small pieces of paper and jot down memories, inside jokes, or reasons why you love your partner. Fold each note and place them in a decorative jar.

Your significant other can pull out a memory whenever they need a pick-me-up. It’s a sentimental gift that continually reminds both of you of the special moments you’ve shared. This gift not only reflects on your shared history but also looks forward to creating more beautiful memories together.

DIY Book

Gift your loved one a homemade coupon book filled with redeemable gestures. Include IOU’s for a homemade dinner, a movie night of their choice, or a relaxing massage. Personalize the coupons based on your partner’s preferences and the things they love.

This gift shows your commitment to spending quality time together. It also allows you to tailor the coupons to your partner’s tastes. It’s a meaningful and cost-effective way to offer your time and attention, making for a memorable Valentine’s Day.

Thoughtful and affordable gifts can be just as meaningful, if not more, than expensive ones. By putting in the effort to create something personal, you not only save money but also show your partner that your love is genuine and comes from the heart.

This Valentine’s Day, let your creativity and affection shine through these thoughtful, budget-friendly gift ideas.

For more inspiration or a travel idea for Valentine’s Day check out my travel website: KathyHusserTempe.net

 

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Setting Healthy Boundries

In our fast-paced and demanding world, self-care and setting healthy boundaries is essential. This practice sets you up for maintaining a happy and joyful life. Establishing boundaries allows us to prioritize our well-being, protect our energy, and create space for self-nurturing activities. By cultivating healthy boundaries, we can enhance our overall quality of life and cultivate a sense of inner peace.

Personal Limits

One fundamental aspect of self-care is recognizing and honoring our personal limits. This involves acknowledging our physical, emotional, and mental capacities and understanding when to say no. It is crucial to listen to our bodies and minds and respond with kindness and compassion. By setting boundaries around our time and energy, we create the opportunity to engage in activities that replenish us.

Whether it’s taking a restorative break, engaging in a hobby, or spending time with loved ones, you need it.  Prioritizing our needs and well-being is not selfish but rather a prerequisite for living a fulfilling and joyful life.

Communication

Communication plays a vital role in establishing healthy boundaries. Clearly and assertively expressing our needs and limitations allows others to understand and respect our boundaries. It is essential to practice effective communication by expressing ourselves honestly.  You also need to be open to listening to the needs of others as well.

By setting clear expectations and boundaries in our relationships, we foster healthier dynamics and promote mutual understanding and respect. Effective communication also helps us navigate any unforeseeable conflicts. This ensures that our boundaries are upheld and our well-being is also prioritized.

Recognizing Energy Drains

Maintaining healthy boundaries also involves recognizing and managing emotional and energetic drains. It is crucial to identify relationships or situations that consistently deplete our energy and create emotional distress. Setting boundaries allows us to protect our emotional well-being and invest energy in relationships and activities that bring us joy.

This may involve creating distance from toxic relationships, limiting exposure to negative influences, seeking support from trusted friends or professionals. For example, I had a job that was truly unhealthy and leaving was the best thing that happened to me.

Foster Positive Relationships

Self-care and healthy boundaries are not about isolation but rather about fostering relationships that align with our values and needs. It is about surrounding ourselves with people who uplift and support us, and engaging in activities that nourish our souls. By nurturing ourselves and setting healthy boundaries, we create the energy to show up fully in relationships, work, and personal pursuits.

It enables us to be more present, engaged, and authentic in all aspects of our lives. Setting boundaries fosters a deeper sense of fulfillment and joy.

Embracing healthy boundaries and practicing self-care are essential components of a happy, joyful life. Be sure to prioritize your well-being, communicate needs, and manage emotional drains you experience.  We all create a foundation for personal growth, contentment, and vibrant relationships when boundaries are respected.

Remember, setting boundaries is an act of self-love and respect. It is empowering all of us to live authentically, cultivate joy, and thrive in all areas of our lives. Live well and enjoy!

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Vision Boards Create Success

What is a vision board?  Create success and achieve your goals this year with a vision board. Read on for three simple steps to make a vision board and have your dreams come true this year.

Visualize Goals

First you need to visualize your goals or what you want out of 2024. Whether it’s a new job, relationship, or home, create a picture in your mind of exactly what that looks like. Remember little details to truly create a vision in your mind’s eye of how achieving your goal would feel.

Next, have at least 3-5 big ideas for the new year. Write down the words that describe those successes and don’t hold back.  Words that come to mind can be fearless, courage, abundance, joy, self-care, so use your imagination.

Illustrate Your Big Ideas

I’m not an artist, so illustrating for me may be different for you. I like to use Pinterest as a very easy way to capture my thoughts and inspiration. Studies have proven if you can visualize your goals, you will increase your chances of achieving them. Digital photos, drawings, doodles, anything that brings your big idea to mind is an “illustration” for your board.

I tend to create simple drawings and also attach photos for inspiration on my vision board. Whatever is easiest, illustrate your ideas so you have a roadmap to your action steps.

Map Out Steps

 

Mapping out specific actions, no matter how small, for each goal is your next step.  For example, if you want to learn Spanish by the end of year, your actions might resemble:

  1. Check out free language resources at the library
  2. Research local teachers or community organizations for classes
  3. Block off time on my weekly calendar for lessons/practice
  4. Book my trip to Mexico for the summer or in 2025
  5. Continue conversational Spanish with my neighbor two nights a week

When goals are written down, visualized and acted on, they are more easily achieved. The vision board for this big idea might include Yucatan travel photos or common conversational phases. Having a goal that is broken down and committed on your calendar is also more likely to be completed by your timeline. This is only one big idea example, so think of more and don’t limit yourself.

The most difficult part of a vision board is deciding what you want from 2024 with so many possibilities today. Don’t limit yourself, and make this new year, a year to remember and celebrate.  Here’s to a happy and healthy 2024 to you and your family and friends!

 

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Themes for the New Year

 

As we start a new year, it’s a perfect time for reflection and renewal. While resolutions abound, certain overarching themes can guide us towards a more fulfilling and purposeful journey in the coming months. Here are three vital themes to remember for the new year.

Mindful Well-Being in 2024

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s easy to neglect our well-being. As we step into the new year, it’s crucial to prioritize self-care and cultivate a mindful approach to health. This includes not only physical wellness but also mental and emotional balance.

Consider incorporating practices such as meditation, regular exercise, and adequate sleep into your routine. These small yet impactful habits can significantly contribute to overall well-being. In a world that often glorifies busyness, valuing moments of rest and self-reflection becomes a cornerstone for a healthier, more resilient you.

Embracing Learning and Resilience

The new year offers a blank slate for personal and professional growth. Embracing a growth mindset involves seeing challenges as opportunities for learning and viewing failures as stepping stones toward success. This approach not only fosters resilience but also fuels a continuous desire for improvement.

Set achievable goals that push your boundaries, both personally and professionally. Whether it’s acquiring a new skill, pursuing further education, or taking on challenging projects, the growth mindset propels you forward. This also fosters a sense of accomplishment and adaptability during unforeseen challenges.

In a rapidly evolving world, the ability to embrace change and learn from experiences is a powerful asset. Cultivating a growth mindset ensures that every encounter contributes to your journey of becoming the best version of yourself. Whether that personal experience is positive or negative, you grow from it.

Nurturing Relationships

In the digital age, genuine connections and meaningful relationships hold incomparable value. As we navigate the new year, prioritize the nurturing of both existing and new connections. Whether it’s strengthening family bonds, fostering friendships, or building professional networks, investing time and energy in relationships enriches our lives.

Take a proactive approach to communication, be present in your interactions, and seek out opportunities for collaboration and shared experiences. These connections not only provide emotional support but also contribute to a sense of belonging and purpose. In a world that can sometimes feel isolated, the power of genuine human connections is a beacon of light. A light guiding us through the challenges and joys of life to be happier.

As we embark on 2024, let mindfulness, growth, and connection be our guiding lights. Prioritizing well-being, adopting a growth mindset, and nurturing relationships pave the way for a year of purpose, resilience, and fulfillment. Here’s to embracing the opportunities that 2024 brings and creating a meaningful tapestry of experiences and growth.

Happy New Year!

Originally published on Elephant Journal

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Why Love Taylor and Travis

 

In the vast landscape of popular culture, certain figures captivate our attention and hold our fascination. Two who seem to effortlessly command the spotlight are Taylor Swift, the iconic singer-songwriter, and Travis Kelce, the NFL player. What is it about these two seemingly contrasting personalities that ignites our collective obsession?

Taylor Swift: The Evolution of Empowerment

Taylor Swift’s journey from country sweetheart to pop sensation has been nothing short of a cultural phenomenon. Swift’s ability to authentically narrate her personal experiences through music has created an intimate connection with her audience. From teenage love anthems to mature reflections on heartbreak and self-discovery, Swift’s discography resonates across generations.

Her openness about relationships, friendships, and the challenges of fame endears her to fans. She makes them feel like they’re on a journey of self-discovery alongside her.

Additionally, Swift’s skilled use of social media invites fans into her world, fostering a sense of community. Her engagement with fans, candid posts, and witty interactions contribute to the perception that she is not just a megastar.  She is also a relatable individual navigating life’s ups and downs.

Travis Kelce: Beyond the Gridiron

Travis Kelce, known for his exceptional skills on the football field, has transcended the confines of his profession. Beyond his athletic expertise, Kelce’s magnetic personality has made him a favorite in and out of the sports arena. The tight end’s charisma, evident in his touchdown celebrations and post-game interviews, sets him apart. Kelce’s authenticity shines through, showcasing a genuine and approachable side of professional athletes often overlooked by the public.

Kelce’s involvement in philanthropy and community outreach further cements his status as a well-rounded and socially conscious figure. Fans are drawn to his genuine passion for making a positive impact off the field. He creates a deeper connection beyond his achievements in football.

Art Meets Athletics

The convergence of Taylor Swift’s musical prowess and Travis Kelce’s athletic excellence may seem unexpected. However, it underscores a broader truth: our fascination often lies at the crossroads of diverse talents. Swift and Kelce represent more than their respective crafts; they embody resilience, authenticity, and the pursuit of excellence in their chosen fields.

In essence, our obsession with Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce is not merely about their talent; it’s a celebration of their humanity. Through vulnerability, relatability, and a commitment to authenticity, these icons become mirrors reflecting our own desires, struggles, and triumphs. In a social media age of curated personas, the genuine nature of Swift and Kelce becomes our beacon. They are guiding our fascination and deepening our connection to their stories with our own.

 

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Thanksgiving To Remember

As the holiday season approaches, I think of memories of past Thanksgivings. My family would spend time cooking and filling our home with laughter. Yet, this year, there is a subtle but undeniable shift in the air—a desire to change our Thanksgiving. Is it time to embrace new experiences?

When do you make those changes to your traditions? How do you create lasting memories that reflect your evolving values and priorities?

Coming Together

For me, Thanksgiving has always been about coming together with family and friends. We share a feast  (usually turkey and my cornbread stuffing) and express gratitude for the blessings in our lives.

These familiar customs have been an anchor, a comforting thread that connects us to generations past. However, as life unfolds and circumstances change, it becomes important to adapt and find new ways to celebrate and connect.

The decision to change our Thanksgiving traditions was not made lightly. It involved open and honest conversations with family, each expressing their expectations. We acknowledged that traditions should not be stagnant but should grow and evolve with us.

We collectively embraced the idea of including fresh elements that reflected our shared values. We want to enjoy the holiday and respect one another’s different ideas of togetherness that Thanksgiving represents.

Community Service

This year, we decided to organize a community service project as part of our Thanksgiving festivities. Instead of spending the entire day in the kitchen, we will dedicate time to serve others at a community home.

Our family’s aim is to extend our gratitude to the wider community and make a positive impact who need it. The joy of giving back will undoubtedly deepen our sense of gratitude and reinforce the spirit of Thanksgiving.

Core Traditions

While service is a new addition to our Thanksgiving, we remain committed to preserving the core holiday traditions. The gathering of loved ones around a table with traditional family recipes will always be at the heart of our celebration.

We will continue to savor the flavors that evoke childhood memories and ignite conversations about family history. Again, I’m referring to my Grandma’s stuffing recipe, that I make only once a year.

The idea of changing Thanksgiving traditions may initially stir mixed emotions.  As we bid farewell to familiar routines and ideas of what the holiday should, it’s time to discover something new.

However, the essence of Thanksgiving lies not in the specific rituals, but in the deep connections we have and the love we share. By embracing change, we open ourselves up to the possibility of discovering new traditions that resonate with our present selves. Will you be making any changes this year? A new host or maybe try a community project?

Ultimately, changing Thanksgiving traditions is an opportunity to deepen the bonds we share with our loved ones. Making sure to honor values and embrace the spirit of gratitude in new and meaningful ways for your current lifestyle. Here’s an invitation to create lasting memories that reflect who we are today.

As I embark on this journey of change, I am filled with excitement and a little anticipation. I know that our Thanksgiving celebration will continue to evolve and grow. Be sure whatever our plans, you foster a sense of belonging, love, and gratitude. This will remain with your family and friends long after the holiday season fades away.

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Self Care

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s easy to get caught up in demands and responsibilities surrounding us. As I’ve journeyed through my own life experiences, I’ve come to realize the importance of self-care and power of meditation.

Taking the time to prioritize my well-being and cultivating a regular meditation practice has been nothing short of life-changing. Here are some insights I’d like to share with you about embracing self-care and the art of meditation.

Self-Care

First, self-care is about acknowledging and honoring your own needs. It’s not selfish; it’s an act of self-love and preservation. Begin by carving out dedicated time for self-care activities that resonate with you. It could be as simple as taking a warm bath, reading a good book, or taking a walk in nature.

Whatever it may be, the key is to make it a regular practice. This ensures it becomes a non-negotiable part of your daily routine.

Meditation

Meditation is an incredible tool for finding stillness amidst the chaos and noise of the outside world. It doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Start by setting aside just a few minutes each day to sit quietly, focusing on your breath.

Allow yourself to observe your thoughts without judgment, letting them come and go like passing clouds. Gradually increase the duration of your practice as you feel comfortable. Through regular meditation, you’ll experience a profound sense of calm, clarity, and inner peace.

Physical Well-Being

One aspect of self-care that often gets overlooked is nurturing your physical body. Engaging in activities that promote physical well-being is an integral part of self-care. Whether it’s practicing yoga, going for a run, or dancing to your favorite music. You need to find an exercise routine that brings you joy and makes you feel alive.

Additionally, pay attention to your nutritional needs. Fuel your body with nourishing foods that provide energy and support overall health. Remember to stay hydrated, get enough sleep, and listen to what your body is telling you it needs.

Connections

Another powerful self-care practice is cultivating meaningful connections and setting healthy boundaries. Surround yourself with individuals who uplift and inspire you, and who truly care about your well-being. Learn to say no when necessary and honor your own limits.

Setting boundaries allows you to preserve your energy and protect your mental and emotional health. Prioritize activities and relationships that bring you joy and fulfillment. Also, remember to gracefully let go of those people that no longer serve your growth and happiness.

I’ve discovered that self-care and meditation are not merely acts of indulgence but components of a fulfilling and balanced life. They provide the foundation for personal growth, inner peace, and resilience in the face of life’s challenges. Embracing self-care and making space for meditation allows us to tap into our true selves. It nurtures our mind, body, and soul, to live authentically happy lives.

So, I invite you to embark on this beautiful journey of self-care and meditation. Start small, be gentle with yourself, and be open to the transformation that awaits. Prioritize your well-being, and watch as your inner light shines brighter, radiating love, peace, and harmony into the world. Remember, you deserve every moment of self-care and the deep nourishment it brings

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