If I Had My Life To Live Over

The following was written by columnist and humorist – the late Erma Bombeck.

If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television – and more while watching life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.”

There would have been more “I love you’s”.. More “I’m sorrys” …

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute… look at it and really see it … live it…and never give it back.

Money CAN Buy You Happiness

Yesterday I shared a little $20 challenge that I’m giving myself this week – to give away $20. I shared the challenge on social media and got a load of great feedback from both people who are joining the challenge and people who’ve done similar things before.

One person (Joel Turner on G+) pointed me to a TED video that I’ve posted below. In the video Michael Norton shares some research that takes on the saying ‘Money Can’t Buy You Happiness’. It turns out that Money can in fact buy happiness – if you spend it on the right thing… others.

Check it out for yourself and join our $20 Challenge and come back and tell us what you find!

My $20 Challenge #20Challenge

This morning I heard a challenge that I’m going to take up this week.

Put $20 (substitute the value depending upon your circumstances) in your wallet/purse this week that you’re not allowed to spend on yourself.

Put it in a spot that you don’t normally put cash and where you’ll see it and be reminded of this challenge (I’m going to put it in front of my credit cards).

As you go through the week look for an opportunity to give it away in a way that will make a positive difference for someone else.

You can give it away in any way that you wish.

The object of the challenge is to make someone else’s life better in some way – but I suspect it’ll have more of an impact upon me than anyone else.

  • What impact will being constantly reminded to look for need or opportunity to give around me have upon how I see the world?
  • How will it impact my view of my own circumstances and the perception I have of my own needs and problems?
  • Will being reminded to exercise generosity impact the way I live this week?

I’m not sure of the answers but I’ll be interested to see what happens.

I’d love for others to join me in this little challenge/experiment. Anyone else up for it?

PS: if you join in I’d LOVE to hear how you go with it. What do you do with your $20 and what did you learn during the challenge? Leave a comment below to share how you find the challenge.

Prepare Teens for the Road (and Enjoy Greater Peace of Mind!)

This post is by Evan Fischer of useddodgeengines.com.

Most parents approach the teenage years with a mixture of hope and dread. 

You hope that the lessons you instilled in your kids as they grew will be enough to help them through this difficult transitional period.  But at the same time you dread the many firsts they will face without you as they become more independent; first date, first kiss, first breakup, and of course, the first time they roll out of the driveway behind the wheel of a car.  And it may be the last one that concerns you most, especially considering the high risk that is posed by inexperienced drivers.

Image courtesy stock.xchng user JosephHart

But if you take the time to prepare your kids for the responsibilities involved in operating a moving vehicle, then chances are good that they’ll make the right choices.  So here are just a few tips that can help every parent feel a little more relaxed and confident when it comes to sending their kids out on the road.

The Talk

The first and most important thing to discuss with your teens is the responsibility that comes with driving a car.  And there are three main topics that fall under this category: financial, legal, and personal. 

They need to know that there are consequences for failure to take the weighty responsibility of operating a car seriously.  You can help them understand the financial burden by making partial payment mandatory.  In other words, make it a condition of driving that your teens get jobs and pay for a portion of the costs themselves.  This will teach them a valuable lesson about the rewards of hard work and relieve you of some of the financial pressures associated with teen drivers. 

There are also legal obligations that come with driving, so sit down with your teens to go over the driver’s manual and talk about the rules of the road.

Then comes the most important conversation: personal responsibility. Teens need to understand that reckless behavior puts them, their passengers, and other drivers at risk for accident and injury.  You don’t necessarily want to bombard them with statistics, but you should open their eyes to the gravity of the choices they make when they get behind the wheel. 

Of course, you’ll also need to set some ground rules (for their safety and your sanity!).  You will almost certainly want to include limitations on where they can go, who they can have in the car, and time restrictions on driving at night (a curfew, in other words). 

You definitely want kids to get the most out of life, but you’ll feel better knowing that there are rules in place to protect them.

The Practice

Of course, you need to make the time for plenty of practice.  You are ultimately responsible for the safety of your kids, so it is in your best interest (and theirs) to withhold the keys to the kingdom (so to speak) until you’re sure they’re ready. 

This means taking them out for frequent practice sessions, so that you can monitor their progress and help them to prepare for any situation that might pop up. 

Preparation is the key to helping your teens become the safe and responsible drivers (and adults) you know they can be, and it will certainly help you to sleep better at night!

Evan Fischer is a contributing writer for useddodgeengines.com, where used Dodge engines are shipped nationwide daily.

Are You Really Relaxing During Your Relaxation Time?

This post is by Karol K. of newInternetOrder.com.

We all need a little relaxation every day, just to keep our productivity at high levels. There’s no productivity without relaxation. No one is superhuman enough to be able to keep going 24/7 like a Duracell bunny.

But is there a possibility we’re getting the whole idea of relaxation wrong?


Image courtesy stock.xchng user januszek

I can’t remember where I got this concept from, but there are basically three main areas we operate in: physical, intellectual, and emotional.

No matter what work or activity we’re engaged in at any moment, it always falls into one of these three categories.

So what’s the problem with relaxation?

“Default” relaxation

Most of us have a “favorite” way of relaxing—a favorite activity, for example. This becomes our go-to relaxation activity by default, no matter what we were doing just a minute before.

Unfortunately, sometimes this activity isn’t relaxing at all. I’m sure you experience that feeling from time to time. Let’s say that you love to read, like many people do. And you use it as your main way of relaxing whenever you feel like you need a moment off.

But there are times when you just can’t seem to enjoy it as much as usual. Times when each page isn’t that easily consumed. Times when you can’t even focus on what you’re reading, and you have to re-read each sentence a couple of times.

Does it mean that it’s not a good day for reading? No way. There’s no such thing as a bad day for reading. So what’s the problem, then?

Why your default relaxation activity doesn’t work

The reason why your favorite relaxation activity may not work today lies with the activity you were doing prior to having a moment off.

As I said, there are three main areas we operate in: physical, intellectual, and emotional, no matter what we do. And the thing is that we can’t work and then relax within the same area.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re a web designer, and you’ve just finished working on a new website, or at least you’re reached a milestone and you want to relax for a minute. So you think “I know, I’ll check what’s going on on my favorite design blogs.” This isn’t relaxing.

You can’t relax that way because you’re forcing yourself to keep operating in the same area. Designing costs you a lot of intellectual effort, and now, instead of switching to another area, you’re continuing to put your intellectual self to work by forcing your mind to consume new articles about design.

Physical exercises may be an even better example here. If you’ve just finished your workout at the gym, you’re not going to “relax” by running back home. This makes no sense, right?

So the main question is: how can you truly relax?

True relaxation is simple

To truly relax, simply switch to another area of activity.

If you’ve been using your creative, intellectual mind for the last hour or two, the only way to relax now is to either do a physical activity of some sort (like working out), or some emotional activity, so to speak.

In most cases “emotional” means “social.” So meeting your friends for a beer falls beautifully within this area. Basically, emotional activities are everything that don’t require you to think (intellectually), and don’t involve any type of physical activity.

If you’ve been working out for the last two hours, then reading a book is probably a great way to relax. If you’ve been writing an article, you might relax by playing with your dog. And so on.

On the other hand, if you’ve been writing an article then reading an article about writing isn’t relaxation. If you’ve just finished painting your house, hitting the gym isn’t relaxation.

Here’s an interesting example. Contrary to what you might think, if you’ve been in a fight with your partner then meeting your friends afterwards isn’t relaxing in most cases. What is relaxing though is working out or working intellectually, perhaps at your job.

The simple rule of thumb is: whatever you do, always notice which area you’re operating in, then switch to another area for relaxation. Give your body (or your mind) a little time off.

How long does it take to relax?

Interestingly, if you take this approach, relaxation happens rather quickly. But you have to witch areas often.

You shouldn’t ever be operating in a single area for more than two hours without a break. And I mean it. If you’re doing the same thing for eight hours, it will take you what remains of your day to relax. This isn’t efficient at all.

I’ve found that the most effective thing for me to do is to work for one hour, and then take a ten-minute break (shifting to another area of activity). After that I resume work, and repeat the process.

By using such an approach, I can easily “work” for many hours without any sign of being tired. It doesn’t even feel like working. But that’s just my story … your mileage may vary.

Anyway, give it a shot. Just try to work for one hour, and then take a ten-minute break, switching to another area. Finally, get back to work again. Do it for one week and see if it doesn’t improve your productivity and your levels of relaxation.

Once you’re done with this experiment don’t forget to come back and share your opinion about this whole idea. Is it working for you like it is for me?

Karol K. (@carlosinho) is a 20-something year old writer and web 2.0 entrepreneur from Poland, and a grad student at the Silesian University of Technology. He shares his thoughts at newInternetOrder.com. Tune in to get his Getting Things Done (GTD) tips and other personal productivity advice.

How a Positive Attitude Affects Your Looks

This guest post is by Cindi Lewis of Glossy.

Appearance is important in society. Having a positive outlook creates a more attractive appearance. There are different aspects about inner beauty that make it affect a person’s outer beauty. Also, being a beautiful person on the inside is important because it makes good things happen in the world.

Inner beauty reflects outwardly

Inner beauty is reflected through a person’s appearance. A beautiful personality—one that is vibrant, lively, optimistic, and caring—creates a gorgeous person on the outside. For instance, a confident person stands up tall, smiles and laughs, looks other people in the eye, and carries an aura of self-worth. Inner beauty affects how beautiful a person can really be.

A positive attitude illuminates beauty

A smile and a positive attitude instantly brighten a person’s eyes and flush their cheeks. The person suddenly looks much more attractive. An optimistic person always looks the most beautiful.

Obtaining natural optimism

A truthfully positive attitude is most rejuvenating for a person’s appearance. It is possible for anyone and everyone to be positive. A positive attitude asks people to “speak” to themselves with optimistic words. This can be done when they become aware of their thought process and use affirmations in their thoughts most of the time. Once a person speaks positively to themselves, they can speak positively to others, and the positive attitude will shine forth, revealing a truly beautiful person!

Aging is beautiful

Age can bring out a positive person’s beauty. By maintaining a positive attitude throughout life, a person will be beautiful forever, for it will be reflected in their smile and eyes. Some individuals grow more beautiful as they get older, because they become more carefree from having more faith, compassion, and optimism. In fact, age often shows wisdom, and wisdom is an attractive trait.

Proper self-care creates better health

Good skincare and hygiene is important, because the person is caring for their health and well being. There are some natural skincare products that can be used for people who want a fresh and healthy look. Face washing in the morning and night, combing or brushing hair every day, brushing and flossing teeth twice a day, and using quality body cleansers, are great ways to maintain good hygiene and health. Facial masks, exfoliating cloths, and astringent and toners are also beneficial.

When a person practices proper self-care, and has a positive attitude, they show their most beautiful self and put their best features—inner and outer—forward. Being a beautiful person on the inside helps create a positive world.

Cindi Lewis writes for Glossy a skin care products and beauty products online retailer.

How Reading More Can Benefit You

This guest post is by Nick Baker of The Daily Encounters Blog.

The act of reading can be tricky, but also rewarding at the same time.  The main setting of reading at a young age is in school, yet the reading of school books can sometimes be boring, and seem pointless.  This is one reason why we stop reading once we get out of school—we think back to how reading all those educational books was boring, which in turn gives us no motivation to read books when we no longer are forced to.


Image used with permission

This lack of motivation to read once we grow older stops us from benefiting from the many advantages reading provides to us.  Reading is able to make you more valuable as a person in many ways: as an employee, as a friend, and as an innovator.

Employers rarely ask people if they read or what their favorite books are while they conduct an interview.  That doesn’t mean that your next boss can’t tell whether or not you read, or that you can’t find an opportunity to bring up books you have read.

Vocabulary is one way people can tell if you read. The more you read, the broader your vocabulary gets—as long as you have the motivation to look up what words mean when you come across words you don’t know.  You can use your vocabulary in conversation with employers or business associates to show them you’re knowledgeable. You can even intimidate them with your extensive vocabulary!

Reading books that are centered on your area of business is a great way to boost your career and give you an advantage over others, making you more valuable to your company.  Of course, being more valuable to your company puts you in a better position to get a raise or promotion.

Reading can also be used as a social tool either to make friends, or to further your friendship with current friends.  Reading provides you with insight into other cultures whose people have different backgrounds and personalities. It can help to make you more confident in talking to people from different places, with different interests, since you’re more knowledgeable thanks to your reading.

Along with broadening your knowledge of other cultures, reading always gives you something to talk about with other people, whether you’re discussing a book you’ve read with someone who’s read it or is interested in it, or talking about world or local events you’ve read about in newspapers or magazines.

Innovation is spurred by thought and creativity, both of which reading amplifies in the brain.  No matter what book you’re reading, your brain is working hard and new ideas are always popping up.  Fantasy books can lead your brain to think of more out-of-the-box ideas, whereas biographies and documentaries can spur an idea in your head to follow someone else’s example.

Reading has always had a place in society as a learning tool; however, the learning from books does not have to stop once we leave school.  Books always hold valuable lessons that can advance you in certain aspects of your life—as long as you maintain reading a part of your daily activities.

Nick Baker also writes a Blog about Daily Improvement which gives its readers daily articles on simple things they can do every day to make them happy and improve their life.


New Year’s Health

This guest post is by Jesse Langley.

It’s the start of a new year, and many of us are thinking about how we’ll improve life for ourselves in 2012.

Resolutions to get healthier, to spend more time with family and friends, and to begin new professional pursuits are common; but for others struggling with financial hardship, illness, or work issues, the new year can seem like just more of the same obstacles with a new date attached.

You may have to carry problems with you into the new year, but you don’t have to carry your stress, your anxieties, or your fears along with them. Making a commitment to change your outlook on life can make a significant difference in the way you handle challenges—and it can spur you into action that can make your new year better than the year before.

Take stock

The start of the year is a time for reflection and examination; it’s also a time to plan for your future. By taking a little time to list your goals—along with your fears and your obstacles—you can start to put together a plan of action that can carry you through 2012 and beyond.

Of course, making resolutions is much easier than keeping them: while half of us will take the trouble to make a resolutions list, about 12 percent of us will actually keep them. Writing your list of resolutions and sharing them with friends can help you stay accountable for the promises you make, and help you stay committed to the promises you make to yourself.

Make contact

While sharing your goals with friends or family can offer you a group of people who’ll keep you accountable, building or rebuilding a support network can also help you see your life from a different perspective. We’re social creatures, and sometimes we need others to encourage us to take care of ourselves.

In some cases, it can even save your life: a marathon-running firefighter was diagnosed with multiple myeloma after his father encouraged him to see a doctor. He wasn’t prepared for the diagnosis, but with the support of medical professionals and his family, he was able to return to the job he loves. Building relationships can encourage us to take care of each other.

Keep going

Even when he was faced with a cancer diagnosis, the firefighter resolved not just to survive, but to return to his active life. Even living a normal life can be an exercise in patience, endurance and strength; adding new goals or resolutions to overcome your difficulties, particularly if you’re dealing with illness or financial issues, can seem nearly impossible.

The only way you’ll find a better job, or save for a new home, or recover from a chronic illness, is by working every day to change your current situation. Churchill’s advice can be applied to everyday life: “When you’re going through hell, keep going.”

A new year gives us all the chance to start with a clean slate, to pursue new directions and conquer our fears. Whether you succeed is up to you—but by committing to meet your goals and seeking the tools to craft a better life for yourself, your new year could be a new beginning for you.

Jesse Langley lives near Chicago. He divides his time among work, writing, and family life. He has a keen interest in blogging and social media and is an advocate for online training.

5 Leadership Lessons from Steve Jobs

This post is by Lior Levin.

Whether you loved Steve Jobs or hated him, whether you are a Mac or a PC user, whether you are an iPhone or an Android owner, there is one thing that there’s little doubt about: Steve Jobs was an amazing leader who expected and got the most out of those who worked for him.

With his recent passing and the release of his biography, other leaders have gotten a chance to take a closer look at how Steve Jobs lived, thought, and ran his company. It’s an interesting opportunity to look at the inner workings of one of the tech world’s most private men.

So what lessons can leaders glean from Steve Jobs? There are too many to choose but here are five of the critical lessons one can learn from Steve Jobs’ life and success.

1. Have strong opinions, just not always your own

Jobs was not known as a man who held weak opinions. He was quick to make decisions and strong in them. He didn’t waffle or waiver, nor did he delegate his decision-making process to others.

Jobs realized that, with most decisions, making no decision was as bad as, if not worse than, making the wrong one. He also knew that having one person at the wheel helped maintain a unified vision and direction.

However, this doesn’t mean he never changed his mind—just that his reversals were equally decisive and strong. Jobs always encouraged others to challenge his viewpoints and, when he was wrong, would change position and hold to his new one just as strongly.

2. Openness hurts sometimes

Few would have described Steve Jobs as a “nice guy.” He was known for being brutally honest and saying what was on his mind. He even once quipped, “My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to make them better.”

Never one for pleasantries or sparing feelings, Jobs was legendarily tough to work for. However, his approach not only pushed people to generate great results, it ensured that the message was never muffled or muddled.

Being clear, concise, and direct sometimes doesn’t leave a lot of room for spared feelings. While it doesn’t mean being needlessly cruel, it means recognizing that emotions tend to heal faster than broken projects.

3. Focus, focus, and focus

According to Walter Isaacson, the author of Jobs’ biography, focus was very important to this man, who limited his company to focusing on two or three things at a time.

Jobs recognized that it’s much better to do one thing well than to do dozens of things poorly. The more you spread your focus, the less attention you can pay to each item and the more often crucial details begin to slip by.

Jobs once famously said that “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do,” a philosophy evidenced by Apple’s iPhone and iPad lines, and the limited versions and differences between them.

4. Working in teams means talking

Jobs loved working in teams and loved meetings, but he hated PowerPoint and Keynote presentations. He felt that meetings should be about conversation and dialog, not passive listening.

Jobs felt that, in general, teams, especially large groups, made the best decisions and developed the best products—but only if they were leveraged correctly. This is why he favored demo units and other physical objects for visual aids rather than slides on a screen, as Jobs felt these tools got people more engaged.

According to Jobs, the purpose of a meeting was to “Get people talking about it (the idea), argue with people about it, get ideas moving among that group of 100 people … and just explore things.”

5. Planning succession

Jobs, especially in his later years, realized he would not be running the company forever and had to make plans for Apple to live on after he left.

However, he focused on succession not just by planning for the company after his departure, but focusing on ensuring that he hired the best executives possible. Those executives were then groomed and trained so they were able to take over after his departure.

“My job is to make the whole executive team good enough to be successors, so that’s what I try to do,” Jobs said.

If you put your loyalty to your company above all else, you’ll hire people that are the best for it and they can take over after you leave. That, in turn, is the best succession plan of all.

In the end, Jobs was a man driven by his own mortality, long before he was ill. He reminded himself of his mortality so he could focus his energy doing the things that mattered, instead of worrying about failure or the expectations of others.

He was driven and dedicated almost to the point of insanity, and that, combined with his attention to detail and obsession with perfection, enabled him to drive Apple not only to become the powerhouse it is, but also to make some of the best-loved products on the market.

Love him or hate him, Steve Jobs is proof that one person can make a huge difference and impact the entire world in a very big way. Who do you feel has had a similarly large impact on the leaders around the world? Let us know in the comments.

This guest post is written by Lior Levin, a marketing consultant for a company that offers the  best psd to xhtml service, and who also works for a neon sign store that provides custom made neon and LED signs.

FeelGooder Asks: What’s On for Your Christmas Weekend?

Not all of our readers celebrate Christmas, but this weekend is a public holiday in many Western countries, and is celebrated widely in many others. So, whether you’re planning celebrations or not, I’m interested to know:

What’s on for your Christmas weekend?

Family fun

Image copyright Monkey Business - Fotolia.com

My family does celebrate Christmas. Although we don’t have a religion, we see it as a time to get together and have fun. This year, I’m going to the biggest Christmas lunch I’ve ever attended. Word has it that 26 people will be there, among them, my nearly-two-year-old nephew, my sister and her husband, and my mum.

The event’s part of my brother-in-law’s family celebrations. He’s got a very cheeky sense of humor, so I’m very much looking forward to meeting some of his extended family. The weather’s meant to be warm—30 degrees Celsius—which I’m also looking forward to.

That said, 26 people is a big party. I’m planning to spend the following day enjoying some solo recuperation time!

What about you? Will your weekend plans involve Santa and snow, family fun, or something else entirely? Share them with us in the comments. And if you celebrate it, happy Christmas!