The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life

Contents
Introduction ............................................................................................................................................................ 5 How to Use This EBook ............................................................................................................................................. 6 Thanks ................................................................................................................................................................... 7 Balanced Nutrition.................................................................................................................................................... 8 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 7 Secrets to a Healthy Breakfast ........................................................................................................................ 9 A Simple Guide to Frugal Organic Eating ........................................................................................................... 12 8 Great Foods You Are Probably Missing ............................................................................................................ 16 Cheap and healthy grocery list for a bad economy .............................................................................................. 18 How to Make Going to the Gym Interesting ....................................................................................................... 24 9 Secrets of Choosing the Best Workout ............................................................................................................ 27 The Minimalists Workout ................................................................................................................................. 31 Essentials for Minimal Home Workouts .............................................................................................................. 33 5 Golden Rules that Have Helped Me to Lose Weight for Good .............................................................................. 35 Your Most Frequently Asked Running Questions – Answered .............................................................................. 39 Balance Your Life in Two Days....................................................................................................................... 48 How to Know What Your Life Is Missing .......................................................................................................... 51 How to Spend Time with Yourself and Why ..................................................................................................... 54 10 Simple Ways to Live a Less Stressful Life ................................................................................................... 58 Page 2

Balanced Body ....................................................................................................................................................... 23

Balanced Mind and Soul (Personal Growth, Self Improvement) ..................................................................................... 47

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 5 Simple Steps to Enhance Your Happiness ..................................................................................................... 61 6 Key Lessons in Life from a 140 year Old Man ................................................................................................ 63 The One Ingredient Necessary for Accepting Yourself ....................................................................................... 67 How to Give Your Dark Side Permission to Live ................................................................................................ 70 The Minimalist’s Mind: Decluttering Your Brain Waves ...................................................................................... 73 How to Clear Your Limiting Beliefs ................................................................................................................. 80 10 Killer Strategies to Kill Negative Thinking (and Regain Life Balance) ............................................................... 84 10 Ways to Practice Mindfulness and Reach Life Balance ................................................................................... 87 How to Find Happiness and Serenity with the Help of Seashells (and without them) .............................................. 91 Stop Being Your Best and Enjoy Life .............................................................................................................. 94 10 Ways to Feel Better in 60 Seconds Or Less ................................................................................................. 96 What is Natural Spirituality? ......................................................................................................................... 99 How to Meditate: 10 Important Tips.............................................................................................................. 103 Regain Inner Peace When You’re Busy: Walking Gratitude Meditation ................................................................ 106 Knowing ................................................................................................................................................... 110 How to Begin Your Prayer ............................................................................................................................ 112 Start Your Day in 33 Different Ways ............................................................................................................. 115 7 Great Ways to End the Day ....................................................................................................................... 122 How to Develop Healthy Habits That Stick ..................................................................................................... 124 101 Healthy Habits that Anyone Can Follow ................................................................................................... 127 A Simple Way to Nourish Your Body and Soul without Spending a Dime ............................................................. 132 Page 3

Spirituality ............................................................................................................................................................ 98

Balanced Lifestyle ................................................................................................................................................. 114

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 7 Irrational thoughts that disrupt your life ..................................................................................................... 135 The Happy Couple Cheat Sheet: 15 Steps to a Balanced and Happy Marriage (Relationship) ................................. 139 How to Prepare Yourself for a Marriage That Lasts .......................................................................................... 143 7 Keys to Strengthen Relationships and Create Lasting Memories ..................................................................... 146 How to Make a True Friend (Worth More Than 14.6 Cents) ............................................................................... 150 Step out of Your Shell: Practical Tips to Become a Better Conversationalist ........................................................ 155 How to be Annoyingly Positive and Still Keep your Boring Friends ..................................................................... 158 8 Helpful Ways To Deal With Critical People ................................................................................................... 161 Top 10 Essential Family Values .................................................................................................................... 168 10 Practical Productivity Tips for Parents ....................................................................................................... 171 4 Parents Share Their Top 3 Pieces of Parenting Advice ................................................................................... 175 Should Your Work Be Your Obsession? .......................................................................................................... 180 Wealth vs. Income: What Does it Mean to Be Rich? ......................................................................................... 183 My Ten Commandments of Personal Finance .................................................................................................. 186 The 12-Step Get-Out-of-Debt Program .......................................................................................................... 189

Balanced Relationships (Marriage and Love).............................................................................................................. 138

Social Life (Friendship, Communication, Social Skills) ................................................................................................. 149

Balanced Parenting/Family ..................................................................................................................................... 167

Financial Balance and Career .................................................................................................................................. 179

What’s Next? ........................................................................................................................................................ 193 Photo credits ........................................................................................................................................................ 194

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life

Introduction
Hi, my name is Anastasiya Goers and I am the author of the Balance In Me Blog. I want to thank you for downloading this eBook and taking time to think about balance in your life. Some of you might think that balanced living means dividing your life into 6 areas (family, finances, career, friends and social life, health, spirituality) and then giving equal amounts of attention to each of those areas. This is not what this book is about. Life balance that I am talking about is: • inner peace and happiness, • understanding that your life is full and yet you have plenty of room to bring something new into it, • a happy family and smiles on the faces of your children, • taking care of your body without forgetting your soul, • walking outside and seeing the beauty around you that gives inspiration for everyday life, • faith, • true friends, • being in harmony with the world around you. If you are ready to accept this type of balance in your life then I am happy that you have downloaded this eBook.

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life

How to Use This EBook
Each of us has different lives, different goals and different joys. I can’t promise that I will answer each of your questions but I want to give you guidelines that will help you find peace and happiness in your life. This ebook is divided into 9 chapters: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Balanced nutrition Balanced body Balanced mind and soul (personal growth, self improvement) Spirituality Balanced lifestyle Balanced relationships (marriage, love) Social life (friendship, communication, social skills) Balanced parenting/family Financial balance and career

If you know that you do not feel harmony in any of these areas then I suggest that you jump right into the chapter that interests you and try to find great tips for you. You can get back to this eBook whenever you need inspiration in life or you are feeling down. You can read this book from cover to cover and make sure that your life is in balance. If you have not found the answers that you’ve been looking for then I will be enormously happy to get an email from you and help you bring harmony into your life. You can contact me (Anastasiya) at anastasiya [at] balanceinme [dot] com or balanceinme [at] yahoo [dot] com If you have any feedback about this eBook please do not hesitate to send me a few lines in the email too. I am always willing to get to know you, my reader!

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life

Thanks
This eBook consists of various posts written by very talented bloggers. I want to thank every one of them for providing their wonderful articles for this eBook. Bloggers mentioned in this eBook: Ali Hale, Aliventures Anastasiya Goers, Balance In Me (that’s me) Arvind Devalia, Make it Happen Celestine Chua, the Personal Excellence Blog Chris, Zen to Fitness David Cain, Raptitude David Turnbull, Adventures of a Barefoot Geek Dragos Roua, Brilliantly Better Fr. Michael, Live Holiness Jeffrey Tang, The Art of Great Things Jules Clancy, The Stone Soup Justin, A Little Better Lana Kravtsova, Daring Clarity Len Penzo, Len Penzo dot Com Leo Babauta, Zen Habits Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com Page 7 Mark Brown, The Naked Soul Mary Jaksch, Good Life Zen Miche, Serenity Hacker Sherri Kruger, Serene Journey and Zen Family Habits Steven Aitchinson, Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life Zeenat, Positive Provocations

The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life

Balanced Nutrition

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life

1. 7 Secrets to a Healthy Breakfast
This is an article by Jules Clancy of The Stone Soup. Read more tasty posts on her blog or follow her @jules_stonesoup Breakfast – the most important meal of the day? To be honest I think it’s a little unfair to show favouritism between my meals. But as someone who worked in product development for a multi-national cereal giant I’ve spent a serious amount of time thinking about breakfast. This week I thought I’d share with you my 7 secrets to a healthy breakfast. Make it yourself. The benefit of making your own breakfast is that you can tweak things so they’re exactly how you’d like them to be. It also means you know what’s in it so there are no hidden nasties. It always surprises me the amount of extra fat added to commercial granola – I much prefer to keep it lean like my recipe below. The other benefit is that it keeps costs down. This way you only pay for the ingredients and not for the profit margins that big companies command. ii. Prepare in advance. I make my muesli every few months. This means that as long as I remember to buy yoghurt I always have a healthy breakfast standing by. Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com Page 9

The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
If I’m going to be particularly short on time in the morning, I pop my muesli and yoghurt in a container the night before. Then it only takes a second in the morning for a healthy breakfast on the go. iii. Choose whole grains. Whole grains have received a lot attention in recent years. If you’re new to the concept you can learn more iv. Add extra fiber. I’m a firm believer that fiber should be your friend. I like to spike my muesli with oat bran which is high in insoluble fiber which is important for digestive health. It is also one of the best sources of soluble fiber which has been linked to heart health by reducing cholesterol. v. Have an avo’. For those of you not familiar with Australian slang, I’m talking about avocado. One of my all time favorite breakfasts is sourdough toast spread thickly with avocado and sprinkled with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. vi. Use fruit for natural sweetness. Jam is one of my favorite things. Rather than have it with toast I’ve found it makes a lovely addition to my muesli and yoghurt. But if all that sugar is too much for you, play around with fresh fruit. Banana and blueberries are some of my breakfast favorites. vii. Yoghurt. These days we are spoiled for choice when it comes to yoghurt – my Dad has even recently discovered a lactose free version which works with his allergies. I like to go with a full fat natural yoghurt because it tastes better and keeps me feeling fuller for longer. Whatever you choose, yoghurt is a great way to get beneficial bacteria into your gut. home made granola I like to be generous with the amount of nuts in my granola since I usually just use it as a sprinkle for the top of my yoghurt. Feel free to dial down the nuts. Make sure you use real whole oats (not quick) so you get lovely whole grains of toasted oats. Double this recipe if you have an extra oven tray handy. The trick to making granola is knowing when it’s done. Use the color as a guide but be sure and taste some when it has cooled down to make sure it’s crunchy. Warm oats won’t be crunchy even if they’re completely cooked. 1C honey or golden syrup 7C (750g or 1 1/2lb) traditional or steel cut rolled oats. 2C (300g or 2oz) whole almonds Preheat oven to 150C. Place honey or golden syrup in an oven tray and heat for about 5 minutes, or until it is nice and runny. Stir through oats and almonds until everything is evenly coated in the honey. Bake for approximately 1 hour, stirring Page 10

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
ever 15 minutes or so until the oats and almonds are golden brown. Allow to cool and taste to ensure it is nice and crunchy – if not return to the oven for a while longer. Will keep for a few months in an air tight container. home made natural muesli This is more of a list of ingredient than an actual recipe. Feel free to add in or subtract depending on personal preferences and availability. There are two things that make the biggest impact on muesli shelf life. First are nuts – their high fat level means they are prone to rancidity. The second watch out is moisture transfer from dried fruit to the oats. This means your fruit goes hard. Things with a skin like dried cranberries, sultanas or raisins tend to keep soft. As much as I love juicy prunes, they dry out in muesli. rolled oats (steel cut or traditional) oat bran nuts (choose from macadamias, pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts or almonds) dried fruit (choose from cranberries, raisins, apricot, dates, paw paw) linseeds* sunflower seeds pepitas Combine your chosen ingredients adding a little bit more of this and a little bit more of that until your mixture looks good. Store in an airtight container for 3-6 months. *Note. My Dad was telling me he was talking to a linseed farmer. Apparently they are very difficult to grow and require a whole swag of chemicals. Make sure you choose organic if you do decide to go down the linseed path.

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life

2. A Simple Guide to Frugal Organic Eating
This is a post by Anastasiya Goers of Balance In Me. Please follow me @balanceinme and keep your life balanced. About a year ago I decided to go organic. For a while I tried to buy almost everything organic; everything that had an organic label on it was a must-have for me. After a few trips to the grocery store I realized that 100% organic eating was draining my budget like crazy. If it had continued that way then I wouldn’t have had any money to spend on anything else! That was not a fair choice to make so that is why I decided to conduct my own research and find out really how important organic eating really is. First of all it’s important to understand why you want to eat organic food. I have heard a lot of different opinions and here are some of them: • • • • • • • It’s fashionable, everybody is doing it It’s environmentally-friendly Organic food is diet-friendly If it’s organic then I can eat it as much as I want Organic food is healthier for me Organic food is natural, no additives, no chemicals, no artificial ingredients Name your reason here

I have picked organic eating for my family because it is healthier and organic food does not contain chemicals, pesticides and other artificial ingredients that might be dangerous for our health in the long run. I believe in balanced eating, not necessarily in organic eating. In fact organic is often just a label that manufacturers put on their Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com Page 12

The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
products to lure customers into spending more money (Have you ever seen organic onions? The truth is that there is absolutely no difference between organic and non-organic onions, they are grown absolutely the same and have the same nutritional value. Its’ the same as paying for air. Ridiculous, right?) When it comes to healthy eating it is important to look at a number of different facts: nutritional value, fat, especially saturated fat and trans fats, fiber, sugar (organic foods are sometimes loaded with sugar too and it is not good for your health), sodium, vitamins and minerals etc. I want to get the best for my family but I do not want to be fooled into paying for a fad. This is the reason why my half-organic or frugal organic approach to eating was born. I have been using this approach ever since and it saves me money without compromising my family’s health and well-being. Here are my 15 tips that will help you control your budget and still be organic: 1. The golden 12 organic rule. These 12 fruits and vegetables are highly contaminated with pesticides so that is why I always go organic with them: peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, kale, lettuce, grapes (imported), carrots, pears. You can find the full list of fruits and vegetables and their pesticide score at Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides 2. Read labels. When you buy processed goods (cookies, bread, lunch meats, cereal etc.) read the label. It’s much more important to know the Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com 3. nutritional value than simply buying something organic. Look for low sodium, low saturated fat, low sugars, and high fiber (if possible of course). For my babies I prefer juices that are enriched with vitamins and calcium and unfortunately I haven’t seen any organic juices that meet these criteria. The 5 line rule. I usually do not buy groceries that have more than 5 lines of ingredients. There are exceptions of course but most of the time these products are loaded with preservatives, artificial flavors and ingredients. I buy only the types of groceries where I can read and understand every word on the ingredients list. A lot of organic foods fall in this category and not many non-organic do. Farmer’s market. The quality of food at a farmer’s market is great and of course everything is organic. Most farmers do not label their food as organic because it is too expensive for them to get certified by the USDA but of course it does not affect the quality of food. This is the reason why it’s much cheaper to buy fresh groceries there than it is at a grocery store. The only drawback of a farmer’s market is that it is open only a few months a year (at least in my area it is). Locally grown produce. If there is no farmer’s market around then I go for the locally grown fruits and veggies at my grocery store. Buy seasonal produce. It might sound tempting to indulge into some fresh strawberries in the middle of winter but I prefer not to do it. First of all produce Page 13

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
that is not in season is extremely expensive and secondly its quality is really bad (strawberries taste like grass and peaches are nothing but cotton). You do not get any benefits from these foods; you might be even harming yourself. You can still eat apples, bananas, oranges, potatoes and other produce that grows year round in some parts of the world or that can be stored for a long time. Check out the Seasonal Ingredient Map to find out more. 7. Go organic with meat. I believe that grass-fed beef and free range chickens are the way to go. They taste better, they are leaner, various studies have proved that this meat has higher nutritional value and overall is better for you. I also want animals to be treated humanely even if they are going to end up on my table. 8. Go half-vegetarian. Organic meat is sometimes two times more expensive than non-organic and I know that it keeps some people from buying it. My approach is to eat less meat. I do not want to be a vegetarian (I do not believe that it is part of a balanced diet) but I usually eat meat only 2 times a week or less. This is all the animal protein we need after all. 9. Do not go organic with the basics. Bread, canned beans, canned tomatoes, pasta, and rice – all of these groceries do not have to be organic to be good for you. (Milk is probably the only exception in my opinion.) 10.Go with store brands. A lot of people are afraid of store brands and they are willing to pay extra to get the brand name on their can. I think that a lot of times store brands are even better than popular brands and at the same time they are cheaper. Some grocery stores have organic store brands that are quite affordable in my opinion. Do not be afraid to try something new. 11.Do not buy organic foods from the third world countries. I do not have anything against third world countries (I grew up in one of them after all) but I do not completely trust their farming practices. Non-organic groceries have higher concentration of pesticides if they come from the third world countries than if they come from the US. It makes me wonder how organic their organic food is. Another issue is that a lot of times foods from other countries (and this is especially true about produce) have to spend days just to get to your grocery store. Can you call this produce “fresh”? 12.Use coupons. Most companies that produce organic food offer coupons on their websites. Here are just a few of my favorites and you can google the rest: Organic Valley, Stonyfield Farm, Nature’s path, many more. 13.Become a member of the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). For a very reasonable price (in my area it is about $20 a week) local farmers will deliver fresh produce and in some cases dairy and meet to you weekly. I haven’t joined this Page 14

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
program yet just because my husband and I are planning to move to another state in the next couple of months. Find your local farmers at Local Harvest. 14.Grow your own produce. I know that it’s not easy but it’s totally worth it. This year my in-laws grew some tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, pumpkins and a few other things in their yard. They also have a big apple tree near the house. These fruits and veggies taste so delicious! Even if you do not have a big yard you can still grow at least a few herbs or onions on your porch. 15.Eat less. This might not be true for everybody but a lot of people nowadays eat much more than they need to (obesity rates have gone out the roof). It is expensive to buy organic groceries but if you try to eat less, then your organic bill won’t be that scary any more. Organic eating can be frugal and sustainable. You do not have to make a choice between value for your health and value for your wallet. I hope that these 15 tips of frugal organic eating will help you eat healthy without going overboard.

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life

3. 8 Great Foods You Are Probably Missing
This is an article by Chris of Zen to Fitness. Follow his exciting journey to health and fitness on his blog. Sometimes we just turn a blind eye to some great produce. Not because we don’t like them, but just because we are in the habit of buying the same groceries week after week. It becomes routine. Time for that to change, and for you to start trying out some of these healthy often overlooked products…. 1- Beets I love these for their versatility. Superb in salad or with some goats cheese, or nice to snack on. They pack a real anti-oxidant boost and are rich in Folate. Try to eat them raw or cook lightly to keep the nutrients in-tacked. 2- Canned Pumpkin While anything canned should not be a staple, these are great to keep around the house. Add some butter and cinnamon plus a scoop of whey protein and you have a tasty high fiber snack. The stuff is low in calories and full of Vitamin A in the form of Beta-Carotene which is very healing for the spleen and helps with circulation. Pumpkin and other root vegetables are known as a “Chi” restoring food, 3- Sardines Both tinned and fresh. These are great, packed with protein, calcium and Omega 3’s plus cheap and easy to prepare. I always keep a batch of tinned ones in my pantry and try to eat them fresh when they are in season. 4- Frozen Berries Recently I have been keeping a pack of frozen blueberries around. They are cheap and pack a high Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com Page 16

The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
ORAC score (total anti-oxidant count) plus they are packed with fiber and phytonutrients. Great to throw over some hot porridge or in some good organic yoghurt or cottage cheese. 5- Fresh Mint We often overlook fresh herbs and Mint is a favorite. Great to brew a herbal tea after dinner to aid digestion. Simply hand-wash a bunch and pour boiling water over, leave to steep for 5+ minutes. I also like chopping up a big bunch and throwing it in a salad, Makes for a refreshing twist. 6- Salsa People normally go for Ketchup (which is packed with sugar) when trying to add a zing to their food. Salsa is the ultimate healthy alternative. It is normally packed with vegetables, spices and lemon which makes for a much more beneficial side to your chicken or burger. Try and find a brand that is low in sugar and uses natural salt. These will normally cost a bit more but it’s worth it…. 7- Coconut Flakes Most health food stores carry these and they are a real gem. Packed with good fats and antibacterial properties, coconut is truly a superfood. Make sure you find a variety which has no added sugar and feel free to throw them over pretty much anything from breakfast to curries. Or just grab a handful as a hunger killing snack. 8- Tomato Passata A good organic Tomato passata is something we should all keep in the pantry. It can make home cooking so simple and pack loads of flavor plus lycopene, which is one of the most potent anti-oxidants about. This great post at Everyday Paleo shows exactly what I am talking about… Hope you got some ideas for your next shop, plus don’t forget #9 in the picture Carrots always keep them handy….

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life

4. Cheap and healthy grocery list for a bad economy
This is a post by Anastasiya Goers of Balance In Me. Please follow me @balanceinme and keep your life balanced. The other day I was talking to one of my friends in Ukraine and she was telling me about the difficult economic situation there. Ukraine is suffering tremendously from the economic crisis especially if you compare it to the United States. If you think of this economic crisis as an iceberg then the top of it is the United States and the underwater part is Ukraine (usually about 7/8 of an iceberg is hidden below the waterline). She was telling me that it became almost impossible for her to fix healthy foods at home because all the ingredients are so expensive. I was surprised to hear that so I decided to make a healthychoice CHEAP grocery list for her and give her a few healthy and easy supper ideas. The healthy and CHEAP grocery list is international from my point of view and that is why I decided to write this post. I use these ingredients regularly and my family loves everything I cook so hopefully you or your family will enjoy them as well. Saying that you can’t eat healthy because you do not have enough money is nonsense from my point of view. I agree that sometimes fixing a healthy meal can take a little bit more time then sticking Roman Noodles into the microwave but your body and stomach will greatly appreciate your efforts.

1. Beans are very tasty and filling at the same time.
They are the kings and queens of vegetable protein. Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com Page 18

The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
Rich in fiber, vitamins (vitamin C and folate) and minerals (calcium and potassium) they have an outstanding nutritional value combined with a delicious taste. Canned beans are super cheap and extremely easy to use but they might be a little too high in sodium so that is why I usually drain and rinse them before using them in any recipe. Some food companies now offer no salt added beans and this is the best healthy choice you can make. A lot of grocery stores have sales on them so it’s a good idea to buy 5-10 cans at once and save some money. I often use beans in different recipes but they can also be a great side-dish if you simply heat them and add a little bit of hot sauce. shelves as we are more used to regular white rice. When we choose white rice over his brown brother we lose a ton of healthy nutrients like vitamins B1, B3 and B6, iron, manganese, phosphorus and we completely deprive ourselves of dietary fiber that is responsible for our good health and the feeling of being satisfied. When I use brown rice in a recipe that calls for white rice I usually add an extra ½ cup of water and extra 10-15 minutes of cook time

4. Whole-wheat pasta (spaghetti, shells, rotini,
macaroni, and noodles – anything you like) as well as the brown rice described above is not often a guest in many households around the United States just because most people are not used to it. Wholewheat products are excellent sources of fiber that protect against cancer, heart disease and type II diabetes. They also help with weight management and are essential for proper bowel function. Being rich in manganese and selenium whole-wheat pasta helps to boost the immune system and provides essential nutrients for bone building. Whole-grain products are a little bit more expensive than regular ones but they are also more filling so you will end up eating less than if you were eating regular white flour pasta. Different pastas can be used as a side or as a main dish, they make a perfect comfort food and can energize you even after the most exhausting day.

2. Tomatoes whether they are fresh or canned can
save any meal. Tomatoes are low in calories but rich in dietary fiber, Vitamin A and vitamin C and lycopene. A few years ago lycopene became very popular as it is considered to possess outstanding cancer-fighting properties. Lycopene can be better absorbed into the body from cooked tomatoes like tomato juice, ketchup, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Fresh tomatoes are good in salads and canned tomatoes add a wonderful flavor to soups, spaghetti, pizzas and a dozen other dishes. When I buy canned tomatoes I go for the no salt added ones whenever possible.

3. Brown rice is often overlooked on the supermarket
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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life 5. Potatoes are one of my favorite foods. My husband
once said that it’s one of those foods that you can hardly mess up because no matter what you do to them they are always good. I think that many people “abuse” potatoes by deep-frying them, smothering them in fat and cream and turning them into sayhello-to-heart-disease chips. Potatoes are a wonderful comfort food that despite common opinion are not bad for your diet and weight management. You just need to cook them right. These vegetables are high in vitamin C (I personally never thought of mashed potatoes as an alternative to an orange), potassium (responsible for water balance in the body and healthy blood pressure), vitamin B6 and fiber. Most of the nutrients are stored in the skin that we recklessly throw into the trash can. In order to get the best out of a potato I prefer to cook them with the skin without adding extra fats. Mashed potatoes can be healthy if you cook them with the skin and use skim milk or water instead of cream and butter. When you bake or roast potatoes you need to watch the amount of fats that you add to them. That includes olive oil, butter, cream, mayo, cheese and bacon. substitute it with regular chicken breasts (only don’t forget to cut off all the fat and skin if there is any before you cook it). Chicken is my best friend in the kitchen because it’s easy to fix and it’s a great source of animal protein.

7. Carrots as any other vegetable are natural sources
of vitamins and minerals. Carrots are the richest source of vitamin A that help us maintain good vision and also protects us against free radicals. Carrots are good for almost anything that I fix in the kitchen, I add them to stir-fries and casseroles, use them in soups and stews, add them to salads and munch on them whenever I am hungry.

8. Lean ground turkey is a good healthy alternative
for red meat as limiting red meat consumption is very important for heart-healthy diet. I personally prefer the taste of turkey over the taste of beef but I guess most people won’t agree with me. I think that the best thing about turkey is that you can find 99% fat-free ground turkey that is very low in saturated fat and cholesterol – this is always my choice. One more good thing about turkey is that it’s cheaper than red meat, so my wallet wins together with my heart. 9. Fish. I can’t imagine my life without fish now. Actually I use chicken breast and turkey only a couple of times a month but fish is a must-have on my table most of the time. Fish is not always the Page 20

6. Chicken breast is a great source of protein that is
low in both cholesterol and saturated fat (if cooked properly of course). I personally prefer organic chicken breast because it tastes better and usually has less fat, but if it is too pricy then you can Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com

The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
cheapest food you can get but it is definitely one of the healthiest. If you choose fatty fish like salmon, herring or mackerel then you will get all the omega3s you can possibly need. Fresh fish is always better but you can sometimes get killer deals on frozen fish (buy 1 pouch, get the second one free) or canned fish (canned salmon or tuna are great for fancy burgers or regular sandwiches.) Make sure that you choose only wild caught fish because only these types have the most nutrients that you need and the best taste. as aiding in weight control, garlic is a whole pharmacy on its own. But even if I didn’t know about all these positive effects of garlic I would still value it for its taste. Garlic goes well with almost every meal starting with spaghetti and finishing with a steak. I always use fresh garlic just because it has a richer taste and it possesses all of the listed above health benefits.

12.

10.

Onions are used in so many recipes that I can’t even imagine my life without them. I would call onions the ultimate taste-booster because it can enhance the taste of almost any meal. Onions are rich in sulfur-containing compounds that are responsible for many health-promoting effects like lowering blood sugar, cholesterol and fighting cancer. One of the most famous effects of onions is their anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial activity. The recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests that onions also boost bone health and prevent osteoporosis. Onions are a must in my kitchen.

Frozen vegetables like broccoli, corn, bell peppers, and sweet peas. Vegetables are necessary for a healthy diet and each vegetable has its own benefits and its own unique taste. Using fresh veggies is always better but you can’t store them for a long time that is why frozen vegetables are always good to have. 2% cheese bars like Cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack or any other. I prefer 2% milk cheese because I watch my calories and cholesterol but you can use regular types too if they taste better to you. Buying cheese bars is cheaper than buying sliced or shredded cheese and you can use this cheese for anything: slice it for sandwiches, shred it for spaghetti or salad or cut it in cubes for quick snacks. A little bit of cheese can enhance the taste of practically any meal and give your dish a hearty flavor. Even though cheese is high in saturated fat it is still a very good source of calcium and protein.

13.

11.

Garlic is a close relative to onions but it offers many more health benefits. Promoting cardiovascular health, protecting against cancer and viruses, fighting free radicals and carcinogens as well

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life 14.
Lettuce is one of the evening traditions in my house. Crispy green leaves with carrots and tomatoes are the best beginning of any meal. When it comes to choosing the best lettuce it’s always better to opt for dark green leaves like Romaine lettuce or spinach. These greens are high in folic acid, vitamin A, K and C but are extremely low in calories. The combination of nutrients in lettuce is responsible for its cholesterol lowering activities that make it a heart-healthy food. The thirteen products that I mentioned above are my best friends in the kitchen. No matter if I have 10 minutes or a few hours to fix a meal I can always create something interesting and healthy for my family using these ingredients. If you are wondering what you can do with these foods then you are welcome to check out Healthy Meals on a Budget – Week 1 to pick up a few healthy supper ideas.

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life

Balanced Body

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life

5. How to Make Going to the Gym Interesting
This is an article by Steven Aitchinson of Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life. Follow his blog to find life changing lessons. I regularly work out at the gym. My two sons have just joined me and we have been going now for about 6 weeks, 3 times per week. After a session at the gym whilst walking down to the car one of my sons advised me he got a little bored when going round the gym. I advised him: “That’s because when you go to the gym, you stay in the gym” “Eh?” He gave one of those strange looks with a little twist in his mouth. “Well, I’ve noticed that you’re looking at everybody in the gym whilst you’re working out.” “Yeah, what else is there to do? You just close your eyes and don’t open them until you finish your set.” So I told him where I went when I closed my eyes. Not being in the gym at the gym 1. The rowing machine I am in Australia, China, or Greece and sometimes I am even in Glasgow on the Clyde River competing in the Olympics. I am an unknown and nobody has given me a chance and I only got through to the final on a technicality. However the commentators are astounded when I am in the Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com Page 24

The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
bronze medal position and catching up on the Australians and the great British rowing team. I can see my wife, Sharon and my two sons jumping up and down and hear them calling for me all along the river banks. With 200 meters to go I am level with the British team and the commentators are calling this “one of the best races I’ve have ever seen, and Steven Aitchison is about to go in front.” I win the race by about 2 metres and the crowd surround me. I see my wife’s face and my two sons behind her, smiles as wide as the Clyde. 2. The Weights I find this the most tedious and most strenuous. With the weights I want to push myself harder and harder. The only motivation I can think of when I close my eyes is: My wife and two sons have been held captive by two murderers after being caught up in a foiled bank robbery. They are in a storage container and they are going to be killed if I don’t pass a series of challenges they have set me. They make me lift weights and use all the different muscle groups on the various machines except I have to do reps of 12 each time and instead of the weights being taken off they go up by 2.5 kilos after each rep. My face is nearly purple by the end of the 20 minute session but my wife and kids are safely in my arms and the two bank robbers have been safely put in jail with a few mysterious bruises and a broken jaw and nose (violence doesn’t solve anything, but it’s my wife and kids we’re talking about here.) 3. Cycling I go for the fat burn here with a target heart rate of 165 and the mountain view (you get a nice little picture of you climbing a mountain as you’re cycling). I am in the Tour de France. I am an unknown and I hear the commentators talking as I am cycling. I start off at the back of the pack of 100 or so cyclists but slowly make my way through the pack to reach a breaking pack of about 30 or so cyclists. The commentators have now picked up on the fact that I am in 30th position and I am an unknown so they start to find some facts about me. I see my wife and two sons at the side of one of the roads and cheering me on. My wife places her hand over her heart, to tell me she loves me, and this spurs me on even though my legs are burning up. I am on the last 2 miles of a 7 mile stage (hey, it’s my thoughts ) and I am in 9th place. My son’s voices are ringing in my ears pushing me a little harder. I climb to 4th place, the commentators are almost screaming, there’s one from Scotland there and he’s nearly wet himself with excitement. Third place, 1 mile to go. The camera’s are on me, I can hear everyone screaming. I am just behind the second place rider and can see Lance Armstrong in front of him. The crowd are going wild; the Scottish commentator has passed out. I am right beside Lance Armstrong as we Page 25

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
come to the last 200 metres, he glances to the side and smiles and edges 1/2 meter in front of me, I respond and kick my last kick and we finish the race neck and neck. Lance shakes my hand and hands me the yellow jersey. You don’t have to be in the gym All of the above is honestly what I do when I go to the gym and the time flies by and I really enjoy it. Of course I use other machines but I didn’t want to bore you too much.

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life

6. 9 Secrets of Choosing the Best Workout
This is a post by Anastasiya Goers of Balance In Me. Please follow me @balanceinme and keep your life balanced. exercise is a lot like being tortured than something that we can do enjoyably. I remember when I was a teenager my mom always tried to push me into some type of sports. I always preferred sitting at home and studying or working on my art projects instead of working out. However because of my mom I tried tennis, track and field, folk dancing (I hated that the most), swimming, exercise therapy (I developed scoliosis as a child), badminton and finally aerobics (I hated it too for the first year and used every excuse I could to skip it). Today when I look back at my childhood I am very grateful to my mom that she tried so hard to make me a fit person. I also realize that all her attempts were in vain because she missed the most important principle of exercise: she didn’t let me do what I wanted to do. My dream as a child was to be a ballroom dancer or a gymnast. As adults we treat exercise as something that we MUST do and not something that we enjoy. When we choose a workout we base our opinion on what everybody else is doing or what is considered healthy, good for you and popular. We do not give much thought as to what exercise will actually make us happy, make us look forward to every workout and become an essential part of our life. Some people give up on exercise before even trying it because they think that they are not made for sports or because they do not have time for it. Page 27

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
I think that exercise can be an enjoyable part of your lifestyle if you can find your “miracle” workout, something that will work for you. You might have to try a few different things and feel disappointed once or twice before you finally find what you like. There is no one-fit-all workout that anybody can stick to but there are hundreds of workouts to choose from that you can fall in love with. So what are the secrets of choosing the best workout? The secrets are these 9 questions that will help you realize what workouts can work for you. 1. Why do you want to exercise? - To lose weight – you need to concentrate on cardio workouts - To get stronger and shape up – you need mostly resistance training - For health purposes – you need a combination of cardio, strength and flexibility training Keep in mind that no matter what your goal is you will still have to incorporate all three types of exercise into your routine on some scale: cardio, strength and flexibility training. It is essential if you want to develop a balanced body and if you want to see constant improvement in the way you look and feel. 2. What is your level of fitness? - Beginner (you’ve never exercised before or it has been too long since you last exercised) – do not try advanced workouts from the very beginning because you will face nothing but disappointment and pain. It Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com will be better to start with low impact activities (walking, swimming, cycling, strength training) and later progress to higher intensities. - Intermediate (you exercise occasionally or it has been a few months since you have last exercised). You can try anything you want but keep it within reason. - Recovering after an injury or you have serious health considerations – you need to talk to your doctor and ask what type of activity can suit you best. - Advanced (you are probably not reading this article) – choose any activity that appeals to you. 3. How old are you? Our bodies need different types of workouts at different ages. When we are young we mostly exercise because we want to have great looking bodies. When we get older we exercise to stay younger and to protect our health in the future. In general the intensity of our workouts decreases every decade after we turn forty, so be wise when you choose a proper workout. I would also recommend talking to your doctor first if you are 50 and older. 4. How much time can you devote to exercise every week? - I am too busy, I do not have any time at all – it is time for you to rethink your schedule and find some time for exercise. Do you socialize with your friends or colleagues every week? Do you watch a TV show every night? Do you spend hours surfing the web and Page 28

The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
keeping track of all your friends on Facebook and Twitter? You can sacrifice a few of these activities for the sake of exercise and better health. You can also squeeze in a short workout before work or during your lunchtime (30-minute circuit training at a nearby gym or a fast walk around the block). Be creative and honest with yourself: you lack desire not time. - I can exercise only on the weekend – plan 60- or 90-minute workouts on Saturday and Sunday and add 10-15 minute workouts during your weekdays (morning exercises, a brisk walk, going up and down the stairs) - I can exercise at any time – choose time when you have the most energy and get moving! 5. Are you a social person? - No, I am not – If you are tired of working with people all day long then you will probably enjoy some silence while working out. You might also enjoy these workouts if you are very shy or embarrassed about your fitness level. The best options for you will be running, walking, cycling, exercising at home (exercise DVDs, home exercise equipment), working one-on-one with a personal trainer in a small studio or swimming. - Yes, I am – People around you might be a good motivation if you are a social person or if you like competition. Your options are really endless. You can choose anything from team sports (volleyball, football, soccer, basketball, racquet sports), martial arts to the most popular classes at your gym. 6. How emotional are you? - Emotional people will enjoy fun and spontaneous activities like dancing, team sports, mountain biking, and group fitness programs. - At the same time reserved and unemotional people will appreciate Mind & Body programs like Pilates, Yoga and Tai Chi, running, weight training, working out on cardio machines, swimming, and walking. 7. How aggressive are you? - I can’t see a pacifist working out on a punching bag at the gym or sweating during a kick boxing class. This person will most likely prefer a relaxed Yoga class or some folk dancing. - If you are an ambitious person with a forceful character then choose aggressive sports like racquet sports, kick boxing, body pump, and weight training. It will help you let off some steam. 8. How competitive are you? - For some people competition is the main and only motivation to exercise. These are the people who choose exercise to compete in different sporting events (5Ks, marathons, triathlons, weight lifting contests), who like martial arts and team sports. - Others prefer to work out on their own pace without trying to keep up with anybody else. If you are a loner then choose sports that give you opportunities for reflection (Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, swimming, walking, and long distance running). Page 29

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
9. How much support do you need? - Some people need lots of support and encouragement to stick with an exercise routine. If you are one of these people then choose group fitness classes at your gym, join a running or cycling club in your community, hire a personal trainer to work out at the gym and never try to exercise at home or alone. You need examples to follow in order to stay on track. - Other types of people have high levels of self discipline and they are self sufficient in exercise. Feel free to exercise at home (DVDs, YouTube, and home exercise equipment) or choose any other program that appeals to you. I hope that once you have answered all these questions you will be able to find an exercise routine that you can stick to and that you will enjoy. The best part about exercise is that once you get used to it and once you see some results you can try any other fitness program. The stronger you become the easier it will be for you to enjoy different types of exercise. You can even use exercise to reinforce traits of character that you want to develop or maintain but that’s a topic for another article. Have a good workout and Keep it balanced!

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life

7. The Minimalists Workout
This is an article by Chris of Zen to Fitness. Follow his exciting journey to health and fitness on his blog. Some people manage to stay naturally fit and healthy. They look radiant. They have no problem maintaining a stable and desirable body weight, yet they seem to do little in terms of working out or paying attention to their health and fitness. Or so it seems… How Do They Do It? These people don’t need to train in a gym every day or stay dialed in to a perfect diet. Why? Because they naturally follow these rules: • • • • • • • Eat a REAL FOOD diet and don’t pig out on junk Walk lots daily or Commute to work by bike Have time for Relaxation Enjoys Social sports or stay active on weekends/freetime (tennis, hiking, skiing etc) Do something they enjoy Know how to deal with tough situations or people Fit in 7-9 hours of good sleep every night

If you’re doing all of this daily or can make at least 80% of it part of your life, then how often do you really need to go to the gym or work out? Not much. If you want to stay in optimal shape and gain muscle, 2 times per week is plenty. If you want to maintain shape or achieve a lean and athletic body composition, once per week will be just fine. Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com Page 31

The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
2 Day Muscle Building This a simple split of pushing and pulling. It works well to build volume without requiring too much time in the gym. Day 1 Push – This day will be 3 sets of 8-12 reps of compound pushing exercises. • • • • Squat 3 x 8-12 Shoulder Press 3 x 8-12 Dips 2 x 8-12 Pushups 2 x 10-15 1 Day Athletic Training A simple full body split, for those of you who simply want a bit of extra muscle, improved performance in sports, and a better body composition. It’s made up of compound exercises, which will work your entire body without the need for isolation movements. • • • • • • • Overhead Squat (Dumbbell or Barbell) 2 x 8-12 Pull-ups 2 x Max Reps plus some Negatives Dips 2 x 10-15 (Add weight if necessary) Stiff Leg Deadlifts 2 x 10-12 Shoulder Press 2 x 10-12 Plank 2 x 1 minute 5 Minute Row

Day 2 Pull – This day will be 3 sets of 8-12 reps of compound pulling exercises. • • • • Deadlift 3 x 6-10 Pullups 2 x Maximum Reps (Without straining) Bent Over Row 2 x 10-15 Upright Row 2 x 8-12

With all of these exercises, keep the momentum up, but take a short rest (45-90 seconds) between sets, then move onto the next exercise. That’s It! Keep healthy with fundamentals outside of the gym, and use workouts as a tool for increased performance, body composition and athleticism!

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life

8. Essentials for Minimal Home Workouts
This is an article by Chris of Zen to Fitness. Follow his exciting journey to health and fitness on his blog. Sure we can do workouts at home with absolutely no equipment using purely our bodies to provide resistance. To excel though having a few simple pieces of kit around the house can help you add variety to your workout whilst making it far more effective. What better time to ditch that gym membership? 1- Kettlebell - A kettlebell at home is a great investment, they are so flexible and can be used for pretty much anything. One Kettlebell can leave the need for a set of dumbbells at the door. Basically they are cheap effective and offer a total solution for the weight based part of your home training kit. I myself have a 16 Pood kettlebell at home and have used it for: Swings Presses Cleans Floor Presses Squats As well as a variety of other more basic exercises. To me its an invaluable piece of kit. For more info and the full low

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
down on how to use and get started with a KB then checkout my post over here……. 2- Resistance Bands - Ever seen those rubbery bands that are used for stretching and light resistance, they are a surprisingly handy piece of kit. You can perform pretty much anything you would with free weights the trick lies in using the positioning of the bands to manipulate resistance. I like to use them to burn out muscles especially the shoulders and arms. The other benefit of having a set of these at home is that they travel well and can be stored away easily. Plus they are great for stretching out and relieving tightness in the muscles. While these are not great as a single way to train a muscle they compliment a circuit of BodyWeight and Kettlebell exercises. I sometimes take mine to the park to use between sets of sprints too. 3- Ab Wheel - Forget doing endless crunches for abs when you can train your entire core including your lower back and supporting muscles with one simple exercise. I sued to think ab wheels were a gym fad but after using them a few times they blew me away and I now love using them, nothing gets my whole core quite as well worked. You can also use a stability ball to do the ab rollouts using similar technique shown in the video above. Its really time to stop crunches which will do more damage than good, get some real core work in with rollouts and static stability exercises like the plank….. 4- Chinup Bar - So many possibilities with a Chinup Bar, they will allow you to build your upper body with simple compound exercises which is key. While chinups are what you would normally expect to be done you can also use the chinup bar for: Negative Chins (Great Ab Builder) Hanging Leg Raises Stretching out your Back and Chest So its really worth having one chin-up bar stationed somewhere in your home gym. Don’t forget a simple circuit of Bodyweight Squats, Chinups and Pushups is a workout in itself and can build an impressive physique. One last thing I would also throw in is a good pair of minimal running shoes think Nike Free’s or Vibram 5 Fingers plus some good basic kit for working out (shorts, tshirt and socks) and you are good to go. While none of the above are essential for home workouts as you could use purely body-weight and running, the kit does serves as motivation and will get you better results. If I had to choose one? I’d go for a Kettlebell…….

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life

9. 5 Golden Rules that Have Helped Me to Lose Weight for Good
This is a post by Anastasiya Goers of Balance In Me. Please follow me @balanceinme and keep your life balanced. OK, so the holidays are officially over with and it is time to start a new year. Whether one of your New Year resolutions was losing weight or you just ate too much turkey and brownies then you are probably considering ways in which to get back in shape and lose those unwanted pounds for good. I must confess that I had a lot of delicious treats during the holidays and I was not even thinking about dieting (come on, that’s really boring to diet when everybody else is having fun.) Now is the time to get rid of a few extra pounds, a few inches in the wrong places and get back in shape. I was thinking for a while about writing a post about weight loss. After all, weight loss was actually a trigger that made me think about a balanced body at first and a balanced life in general afterwards. I think it is time for me to open a few of my personal secrets of getting into the best shape of my life without diets and without long and exhausting hours at the gym. Let’s get on to it! #1. Be Happy It is not a secret that most pounds are packed on due to emotional eating. Sweet, fatty, creamy, smothered in fat and high in carbohydrates foods are drugs for most people because they make us feel good (for a while at least.) This is an addiction that does not cost much, that is easily Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com Page 35

The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
accessible by anyone and that is not reproached by our society. The only problem is that the pounds that come together with that delicious taste in your mouth bring you the most depressing thoughts and lower your self-esteem to the ground. Even though eating makes you happy for a few minutes, you feel like a complete loser afterwards. Do not try to fix your problems in life with food and do not expect that losing weight will make everything in your life go smoothly and joyfully. Concentrate on being happy right now and you will notice that your pounds will start melting on their own. I have been fighting my weight for many years (well, I was not fat; I just could not lose the last couple of pounds that would have made me completely happy with my body.) The moment I stopped concentrating on weight loss and started living a happy life (fell in love with my husband, found my passion in life, started spending more time with my true friends) I found myself feeling lighter (in a physical and emotional sense.) Go to The Happiness Project to find the best advice on how to be happy and do not forget to buy Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project. #2. Stop snacking No matter what weight loss advice you read you are most likely to hear that you need to eat frequently in order to Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com keep your metabolism high and to not be super hungry during your big meals. I have found that I managed to lose my weight when I eliminated all snacks during the day. I didn’t do it on purpose; I just didn’t have time to eat between meals after my girls were born. My schedule allows me to have a late breakfast, a regular lunch and an early supper. This way I do not have more than 4 hours between meals and I do not get too hungry. If I want to eat something small then I always choose apples or berries, green tea without sugar with a square of dark chocolate or 2 cookies (about 75 calories.) #3. Stay Busy A lot of times we eat because we are bored and we do not know what else to do. We eat while watching TV, we munch on something at our desk at work, we crunch on something while driving and drink something (sugary of course) while reading or waiting. Keep yourself busy at work, find some exciting tasks at home, try new hobbies, be outside as much as possible, play with your kids, go out with your friends, learn something new, try something extraordinary and stop watching TV. Keep your life full, not your mouth. Sometimes you can get distracted from hunger by reading a fascinating book or following an incredibly funny blog. I have a great suggestion for you, check out the Dietgirl Blog and read her hilarious book The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl. It can get you in the perfect mood to tackle your pounds. Page 36

The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
#4. Concentrate on being healthy instead of being slim In order to be healthy you need to eat a healthy diet and to be physically active. Being slim is a goal that is too narrow and too shallow; it does not provide any benefits other than enjoying your reflection in the mirror. When you are young and do not have a family yet you often want to lose weight in order to find your Perfect Match (and this motivation is usually strong enough to get you through diets, exhausting hours at the gym and constant feeling of hunger.) However, when you already have a loving partner, kids, and friends who accept you the way you are, your motivation to lose weight starts to crack. You keep on eating and become more sedentary with each passing year. The right motivation is to be healthy at any age. #4a. Healthy nutrition and no dieting Healthy eating is the best diet strategy that you can maintain your entire life. It is really simple: you need a lot of vegetables, legumes and whole grains to fill your stomach without consuming too many calories, you need healthy fats like olive oil, nuts (especially walnuts) and fatty fish (salmon and herring) as well as lean proteins (fish, beans, moderate amounts of lean beef or chicken) to keep you full and some fruits to satisfy your sweet tooth Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com make sure that you use only healthy cooking methods like boiling, steaming, broiling, grilling, sautéing and baking (you should forget about two words: frying and deepfrying) remember to drink plenty of liquids (water is your best and only friend) and to cut back on sweets and sugary drinks. That’s it. If you are not sure about how to fix healthy meals that will actually taste delicious rather than … well… healthy then you can check out my cheap and healthy grocery list and recipes that follow. I am also a big fan of the World’s Healthiest Foods Website and George Mateljan’s book The World’s Healthiest Foods, Essential Guide for the Healthiest Way of Eating that is like the bible of healthy cooking. #4b. Be active throughout the day and not only at the gym In order to be healthy you need to exercise because our bodies were meant to move instead of sitting in one position for hours. You need at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every day (you will need more than that if you want to lose weight though.) You don’t have to become a gym rat though. You can walk or jog, you can play sports with your kids or friends, you can exercise at home and of course you can go to the gym if you want to. And even better, gardening, vacuuming and shopping are also types of exercise. You just have to do them frequently and long enough. I am sure that there is a Page 37

The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
perfect workout for each and every person on this planet, sometimes it just takes a while to find it (check out these 9 Secrets of Choosing the Best Workout.) #5. Take it easy Slow as a turtle is the best speed rate for losing weight and getting the best body of your life. I know that all of us want to look gorgeous instantly and this is the exact reason why so many people fail at maintaining healthy weight. Changes do not happen overnight and you must be prepared for a long journey if you want to see results that will last. It took me one year to lose the 20 pounds that I gained during pregnancy but I am absolutely happy with the result. I was not crash-dieting, I was not exhausting myself at the gym, I was not skipping my deserts and I was living a full life while losing this weight. Do not try everything at once when you make a resolution to get in shape. Start by making your diet healthier (get rid of fast food and junk food, incorporate more veggies and whole grains), then cut your portions slowly (not more than 20% at a time) and add as much exercise as you feel comfortable doing (do not try to run a marathon the first time you put on your sneakers.) Losing weight is all about developing new habits that you can stick to your entire life. I think this is it. I really could not come up with any other strategies that have helped me to lose and maintain my weight. I hope that these tips will help you to reach your dream weight and to be healthy and happy for the rest of your life!

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10.

Your Most Frequently Asked Running Questions – Answered
I frequently tweet about my runs – including a gorgeous 8.5-mile run I did along the ocean this morning that just blew me away – and every time I do, I get asked running questions. Today I thought I’d answer those questions, for a few reasons: 1. I love talking about running – and it’s your fault you got me started. 2. The more I can encourage others to enjoy this glorious pastime, the better. 3. I’d love it if my passion for running could inspire others in some small way. I should note that I am not an expert. I’m not even an advanced runner — aside from running track and cross country in high school, I’ve only been running steadily for the last 4 years. In that time I’ve done three marathons, a few half marathons, a couple of 20K races, a bunch of 10Ks and 5Ks and other road races, and have rarely missed a week. Recently, even though I haven’t been training for races, I’ve run my best-ever 10K (44:30) and 5K (19:55), blowing away previous PRs done more than a year earlier. I’ve decided to run my first half-marathon in a year and a half – take a look at my training plan.

This is a post by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. Follow him @zen_habits and keep your life simple and productive.

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So take any advice I give with that in mind. And let’s dive into the questions! Q: How do I get started running? A: Slowly. Most beginner’s make the mistake of trying to go too long or too hard — being too ambitious. I did that, so I know. You think you can do more, so you do. However, this is a mistake. You end up getting too sore (some soreness is normal at the beginning of any new activity) or worse, injured. Please, take it easy at first, I beg you. If you’re out of shape, and especially if you’re pretty overweight (20-plus pounds or more), start by walking 2030 minutes, a few times a week. After a few weeks of this, start doing some faster walking intervals — quick walking for a minute or two, alternated with slower walking. If you feel you’re ready for running now, or if you’ve done the above walking routine for at least a month and are ready to incorporate running, I suggest run-walking. That’s warming up with walking for 5-10 minutes, then jogging for a minute or so, alternating with walking rest periods. If you think you can run without the walking, do it for short periods at first — 10 minutes, then 12, then 15, and so on. Add some time every 2-3 runs, but don’t be too quick to add the distance. And don’t add faster paced running in yet. The key principle is this: your body will adapt if you give it time. Start slowly, let your body adapt to that, then gradually add time. Later, when you’re used to running (after a couple of months), you can add intensity. You’ll be tempted to ignore this advice and be more ambitious. But listen to me, and you’ll have a much better experience with running. Q: What’s the best way to motivate myself to run regularly? A: Three things that work brilliantly for me: 1. Get a running partner. I can’t tell you how great this is. My partner is my sister Kat, who is a wonderful person to have a conversation with – I really look forward to our runs together. She’s pretty reliable too, and I make sure to wake myself up and head out the door on time to meet her so that I don’t stand her up in the dark. Find someone to meet up with, and you will rarely miss a run. 2. Make a rule: just lace up your shoes and get out the door. That’s all you have to do. The secret is – and don’t tell anyone I told you this – you’ll run once you get out the door. You don’t have to run long, but as long as you run a little, you’ll continue to build up the habit. 3. Focus on the enjoyment of it. Don’t focus on how hard it is, or you’ll never keep doing it. Think about the beauty in the surroundings as you run. Enjoy the quiet and solitude,

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or the conversation if you have a running partner. Use it for contemplation, for stress relief, for release. Q: But I hate running! Why should I run? A: If you really hate it, don’t do it. I’m not saying running is the best thing in the world, and that everyone should do it. No – instead, find an activity you really enjoy, like cycling or swimming or yoga or hiking or tennis or whatever. Or, if you like, try starting out slowly, as I described above, and get a partner who you enjoy spending some time with. Running is very enjoyable if you don’t overdo it at first, and if you can have a great conversation while doing it. Q: I’ve been running regularly, but how do I build up my long runs? I can’t run for more than a few miles (or maybe 5 miles). A: If you’ve been running regularly, you might set your sights on a longer race, like a 10K or a half marathon or something like that. If so, the best way to do that is one long run a week. Take note of that – don’t make all of your runs longer. If you’ve been running 3 miles a day (for example) 3-4 times a week, don’t suddenly make all your runs 4 miles. Just pick one day a week to go longer. Gradually increase that long run by half a mile to a mile each week. But it’s not good to keep increasing without rest — so if you increase for 2-3 weeks straight, cut back on your long run one week before progressing the next. So, if Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com your long run progresses each week like so: 3.5 miles, 4 miles, then 4.5 miles, take a cut-back week where you just do 3.5 miles on the fourth week. Then go back to 4.5 miles, then 5 miles, and so on. Cut back on every 4th week or so, or you will risk injury. Another thing to note is if you’re increasing the duration of a run, cut back on the intensity. So do your long runs a little slower at first — later, when long runs aren’t a problem for you, you can do faster-paced ones, but that’s more of an intermediate/advanced tactic. Q: I did a long run of 10-plus miles and chafed badly. Tips? A: Yeah, that’s something every runner has to experience once. As you go past the 10-mile (or so) mark, you’ll feel things you’ve never felt on shorter runs: you’ll chafe in the crotch and nipples, which are not places most people like to have pain (with some possible exceptions among you). It’s best to avoid this pain by using some kind of lubricant – Vaseline works well, or BodyGlide if you can find it, or in a pinch, if you’re a parent of a baby like I was when I was training for a marathon, diaper rash cream. Apply the lubricant to the areas in your crotch that your running shorts touch. I use Band-Aids for my nipples. Or if you’re a male, run without a shirt for those longer runs. Females will want to also put lubricant around the edges of their sports bra.

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Q: Any advice on running clothes and shoes? A: Runners don’t have to buy a lot of equipment, but investing in good clothes and shoes is important. Actual running clothes really help. If you’ve tried running in cotton, it’s uncomfortable – it can chafe, it’s heavy once you start sweating, and just doesn’t feel great after rubbing against your skin over and over. Running fabric is light, doesn’t chafe until you go over 10 miles, and magically wicks sweat away from your skin. This includes real running socks. I’m not qualified to give advice on running shoes – go to an actual running shoe store if you can and get the advice of professionals, who can watch you run and tell you if you’re an over-pronator or a supinator or neutral or whatever. Failing that, do some reading online to figure out what kind of shoe you need. It’s important – wear the wrong kind of shoe for too long (months) and you can get an injury. After that, it’s trial an error to find the brand that works best for you. I personally love Asics. Q: What about pre- and post-run nutrition? What should I be eating and drinking before and after a run? A: This is something runners worry too much about. Honestly, unless you’re doing a marathon, pre- and postrun nutrition isn’t that important. I usually don’t eat anything before I run, even on runs of 810 miles. Even when I do sprints or hills. Sometimes I’ll have a banana or a handful of raisins. For a run of 15-plus miles, you’ll want to get some carbs before and during and after the run, either in the form of a sports drink or gels, or some kind of easily-digested food like bananas or gummy bears. After a run, I don’t worry about getting anything. It’s not that important unless, again, you did a really long run. After a half marathon race (or longer), it’s good to get some carbs and protein. Chocolate milk is perfect for this. If I’m really hungry after a run, I’ll eat. My favorite breakfast is oatmeal with nuts and berries and flaxseed. As for hydration, it’s important, especially for longer runs. I always, always have a glass of water when I wake up, before I run. I usually don’t need to hydrate during a run unless it’s 10 miles or longer. Hydrate immediately after a run. You normally only need water. Q: I heard steady-state cardio isn’t that healthy for you. Does it erode your muscles or something? A: It’s healthy. Most people into fitness who bag on “cardio” or endurance running just had bad experiences with it. They would rather do weight training or shorter, intense workouts, and that’s fine. But they usually say running is not that healthy because they see fat people on treadmills who never get any fitter. Page 42

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That might or might not be true — are they sure it’s the same fat people, month after month? – but even if it is, it’s probably because of diet. Those people are on the treadmill but are eating junk food. Studies have shown that running improves health, time and time again. Sure, evidence shows that while you’re running a marathon, you’re at higher risk of things like heart attacks, but … duh. You’re putting yourself under a lot of stress, and you should be sure you’re pretty healthy before attempting a marathon. Also, after a marathon, you’re at higher risk of a cold, because of a weakened immune system. But regular running actually improves your immunity, as long as you’re not taxing your system as much as a marathon. Some people worry about losing muscle because of running – mostly because they look at marathon runners like the Kenyans and think that means running will make you skinny. This isn’t something to worry about unless you run as much as the Kenyans do – 100-plus miles a week. For the casual runner, your body won’t make adaptations this extreme. To save muscle, be sure to do resistance training with weights. I do weights three times a week, but I think twice a week would be sufficient. I recommend basic compound lifts, going heavy once you’ve gotten used to them: squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead press, lunges, pull-ups, dips. Strength training helps running, in my experience. Since getting stronger, I’ve been running better than ever, despite minimal running training. Q: How can I stop from getting shin splints? Or other injuries? A: I’ve been lucky to have been running injury-free for most of the last four years, with a couple of exceptions (a twisted ankle once, pain in my heel during my first marathon training, back injuries a couple times from weight training). Shin splints usually happen to beginners, and it’s usually just your body not adjusting quickly enough to the demands you’re placing on it by running so much. The answer is almost always rest. Rest a few days, or a week, and start again slowly. If you still have pain, rest a little longer. Don’t overdo it when you return. Most other running injuries are a result of overuse, in my experience. Meaning, you’re running too much, or you’ve added too much running too quickly. Our bodies need time to adapt, and even if we give it adequate time, every person’s body has its limits. The answer for most injuries is just rest, and when you return, to cut back on volume of training. Some injuries are the result of using the wrong kind of shoes, in which case it’s probably smart to get a professional to look at you – either to get the injury treated Page 43

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or to get the right kind of shoe. I’m no doctor, though, so don’t take my word on injuries. Q: Should I only do steady-state runs? Or should I mix it up somehow? A: If you’re just starting out, just start with regular running – don’t add intervals or other challenges in yet. Your goal is to let your body adapt to the basic activity of running, and you should do that gradually. But after you’re past that stage, you’ll definitely want to mix it up. There are too many ways to mix things up than I can mention, but to name a few: long runs, sprint intervals, longer intervals, hill runs, hill repeats, tempo runs, tempo intervals, faster-paced long runs, fartleks, and more. I’ve done all of these and love them all. I recommend you add these different types of runs into your training one at a time, and that you go easy at first. Adding intensity needs to be done with caution – if you do intervals, for example, don’t do them all out at first. Just do them at a lower intensity, and after a few weeks, increase intensity a bit, until your body is used to them. What kinds of runs you add into your training depends on your goals. Longer runs build endurance for longer races. Hills help you build strength. The other runs add intensity for various goals – increased VO2 max, the ability to run faster for longer, and so on. I’m not going to outline a pace or plan – that’s what online running sites are for. :) Q: Any recommendations for reading about running? A: There’s so many good ones out there that I can’t be comprehensive. But I’ll name a few to get you started. Any books by Hal Higdon or Jeff Galloway are good for beginners. Once you’re into the intermediate phase, I recommend The Competitive Runner’s Handbook by Bob Glover and Shelly-lynn Florence Glover. For intermediate to advanced marathoners, you can’t do better than Advanced Marathoning by Pfitzinger/Douglas, though be warned this is not an easy plan. My favorite running philosopher is George Sheehan, and you must read Running To Win, no matter what your level. Runner’s World magazine, website and forums are great, though the tips can get repetitive once you’ve read them for awhile. I also like coolrunning, completerunning and a bunch of other blogs (like Mark’s). Q: What about a good diet for runners? A: I don’t buy that runners need a special diet or need to eat anything other than what’s healthy for most people: real, whole foods. Some people think runners need a huge amount of refined carbs, like pasta, but this is a myth based on the idea of carbo-loading for marathons or other longer endurance events. If you’re not doing a marathon, you don’t need to carbo load, and you don’t need sports drinks either.

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If you’re running, you can eat a little more calories than most people, but it’s not an excuse to pig out. And if you’re trying to lose weight by running, you might actually eat more if you get really hungry from your runs. I would resist the urge to eat more if you’re trying to lose weight. Eat moderately, and don’t think you can pound down those donuts just because you did a 3-mile run. You’ll gain weight this way. A better plan is to eat a nutritious diet of real foods: whole grains if you’re going to eat grains (whole oats, sprouted grains are my favs), lots of fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, beans, and if you’re not vegetarian or vegan, lean meats and dairy. My diet has limited grains (basically just oats), seeds like quinoa, beans and nuts, lots of fruits and veggies, and some soy (tofu, soymilk) but not too much. On a diet like this, you’ll be healthy, and adding in an activity like running will only make you healthier. Like I said, I’ve been running better than ever on this diet, losing weight, and feeling great. Q: Does continuous jogging help in reducing weight? A: Yes, it can help. It’s not a silver bullet, though — jogging won’t cause you to lose your gut overnight. Losing weight is simply burning more calories than you eat, over a good period of time. Not a week or two, but more likely a few months or a year or more. As running burns a good amount of calories, it’ll help you get into a caloric deficit, especially as you increase your endurance and can run for a longer time. There’s a school of thought, especially in weightlifting circles, that sprinting intervals is better for burning fat. And if your workout time is very limited, this is true — if you can only work out for 20 minutes, you’ll burn more calories sprinting or doing some other intense exercise rather than just steady-state running (or jogging). There are a couple of problems with that thinking, though: 1) sprinting is very intense, so if you’re not in good shape it’s not smart to just start sprinting; 2) the intensity of sprinting means you need more time to recover — so you shouldn’t do it too often, and if you try to do it every day (or even every other day) you’re risking burnout or injury; 3) sprinting can’t be done for very long — it’s usually limited to about 20 minutes or so (otherwise you’re probably not really sprinting), so the amount of calories you burn are limited — while you can run at medium intensity for much longer, meaning you can burn many, many more calories running instead of sprinting, and thus burn more fat. That said, I think sprint intervals are a great compliment to any running or fitness program, as long as you don’t overdo it. Back to the original question about weight loss: the biggest component of weight loss is really diet. You can burn 600 calories in an hour of running, but you can easily eat 2-3 Page 45

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times that much (or more) at a restaurant in one sitting. So if you don’t control your diet, almost no amount of running will help you lose weight.

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Balanced Mind and Soul (Personal Growth, Self Improvement)

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11.

Balance Your Life in Two Days
Life balance always seemed to me like one of these broad terms that cannot be explained in two words and that definitely cannot be reached in two days. Even though I am practicing life balance every day I still cannot say that I have mastered it completely and still have a long way to go before I do. However, this weekend I discovered a wonderful way to bring my emotions under control, to find peace in my inner world, to straighten out my thoughts and clear my mind, to enjoy a wonderful quality time with my family and even to fight a few of my fears. My life balance doesn’t seem so complicated anymore and it took only two days for me to discover why. This weekend my in-laws rented a log cabin in the mountains and invited us (my husband, me and our twins) to stay with them for a weekend. I must admit that I was very skeptical about this trip and I was not sure that it was a good idea (you see, my babies hate their car seats and a trip that is longer than 30 minutes usually turns into a disaster. It takes 3 hours to get to the mountains so you can understand my “enthusiasm”). I must confess that this trip was one the best ones I’ve had in a long time. This trip taught me a few lessons and opened my eyes to a few simple secrets of balanced living. Enjoy Nature The balance inside of you is closely connected with the balance around you. There is nothing more balanced than

This is a post by Anastasiya Goers of Balance In Me. Please follow me @balanceinme and keep your life balanced.

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nature and no matter how hard humans try to create something terrific and magnificent they can never beat nature’s creations. Being surrounded by nature, admiring it and absorbing its beauty works wonders for everybody. The nature in the mountains was so magnificent that I could not stop marveling at it every second that I’ve spent there. All the problems that were troubling my mind seemed so silly and unimportant; all my concerns were so superficial and shallow. Nature is the biggest source of creativity and inspiration and spending at least a few hours admiring it every week is an essential part of life balance. Country Charm Country living is not for me and I do not think that I can live without a grocery store within a 10 minute drive, a big shopping mall around and a few dozens of restaurants that are at least a little bit higher class than McDonald’s and Wendy’s. However country living has its unique charm that helps you slow down and relax. To me this country charm consists of simple things like a small bluegrass festival, local barbecue parties, Dukes of Hazzard style driving (well we didn’t jump over anything) on country roads, and absolutely no hustle and bustle of the big city. Country living makes you more grounded, it helps you enjoy simple things that do not have high price tags on them. Quietude and Solitude How many noises do you usually hear in your house? The refrigerator is buzzing, the air conditioning unit is droning, Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com your neighbor’s dog is barking, cars are constantly going past your windows, the garbage truck is beeping … All these noises are registered by your mind and they make it impossible for you to enjoy silence, to experience a complete vacuum of noises. It’s important to give your mind a break, to let it be still for a while. You can experience this silence and solitude on a lonely mountain trail, in a big field, on a deserted ocean beach. New Adventure Try something that you’ve always wanted to try or that you’ve always been afraid to try. When we are kids everything that we try is new and exciting. The older we get the less excitement we have in our lives, the fewer adventures we dare to try, the more boring we are. It’s important to try new things constantly, to experience new emotions and to enjoy life. This weekend I tried horse-back riding for the first time. The minute I mounted that pretty horse (her name was Lucy) I felt something special inside of me. I was scared and excited at the same time and I could not stop smiling (I think I looked pretty silly though ) There was something very relaxing and real about horse-back riding through the woods, going through the creeks, enjoying the silence and the calmness of the world around me. Experience media-free life I was shocked to realize that I didn’t have any cell phone signal in the mountains (I can’t believe that there are still Page 49

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places where you cannot be reached). We didn’t have Internet in our log cabin and of course as usual we didn’t watch TV. I could do whatever I wanted to do without being interrupted by the outside world. Play Games How long has it been since you last played cards or any other family game? I remember when I was little I loved puzzles, monopoly, card games, crossword puzzles and many other games. It has been years since I last played any of them and this weekend my husband and I decided to play Rummy. We had so much fun and I felt like I was a child again. No concerns, no problems, just having fun. Go Hiking Hiking up a mountain is not just an exercise that is good for your body. It gives you the feeling of accomplishment once you’ve reached the pick of the mountain. It gives you the feeling of unity with the nature around you. It teaches you to feel your body and to be grateful for being healthy and being able to climb that mountain. Run up a steep hill My husband and I were walking around the area in the morning and we saw a very steep hill. We decided to have a small race just to see how far we could go. Not far, unfortunately but we had so much fun. When we are kids competitions like this come to us naturally and we enjoy running, jumping, falling, and climbing without any particular reason. You do not have to exercise because you need to lose weight or because your doctor says that it will lower your risks of heart disease, diabetes or any other medical condition. You can be active just because it is fun and because you enjoy doing it. Learn from your kids or from the kids around you to be active without any particular reason. Have fun! If you want to balance your life then you must learn to have fun in your life no matter what. We all need to earn our living, to be serious at one point or another, to solve difficult life questions and to be … adults. However, if we forget about having fun then our life gets completely out of balance. It’s important to have short vacations from your daily routines, to change your lifestyle completely, to learn something new and to remember something that you’ve forgotten long ago. It’s important to keep a childlike nature inside of you and to let this child play and have fun every once in a while (the more often, the better). It’s important to be closer to the nature and to draw inspiration out of it. It’s important to live a balanced life and I am sure that anybody can get closer to being balanced just by slowing down a little and getting back to nature.

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12.

How to Know What Your Life Is Missing
the right thing but you can’t find it. You then get frustrated about your life and nothing brings pleasure any more. In Russian folklore there is a fairy tale that describes this situation. The main character, in order to get his princess, has to perform a very difficult task that the princess’s father gives him. “Go There, I don’t know where. Find That, I do not know what.” Do you feel that you have the same task in your life sometimes? Of course the guy in the fairy tale gets his princess in the end and they live happily ever after but his methods probably won’t work for you. How do you know what you are missing in your life? There are two strategies that you can use in order to answer this question.

This is a post by Anastasiya Goers of Balance In Me. Please follow me @balanceinme and keep your life balanced.

Do you sometimes get that feeling when you are leaving your house that you forgot something? You look around; check your pockets or your pocket book but you still can’t remember what you are missing. The thought that you forgot something important is driving you crazy but still you leave the house and go on with your life. Sometimes you feel the same way about your life (I know I do). You feel that you have everything and yet something is missing. This missing part keeps you from being happy and completely satisfied with your life. You keep searching for

Strategy #1 Let me get back to the analogy about leaving the house. You know a lot of times when I leave with that funny feeling that I forgot something I realize that I actually didn’t forget anything. I had everything I needed and my trip (to whatever place I was going) was very successful. It was just an illusion that bothered me. Look around your life. Are you really missing something or is it just an illusion? Do you set unrealistic goals for yourself? Page 51

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
If you think that you are not as happy as you want to be, please remember that even the happiest people in the world have bad spells in their lives (they just know how to deal with them.) If you think that you are not rich enough then remember that you cannot be rich if money is the only thing you are chasing after (even if you have millions it won’t be enough). You already have everything you need and everything you need is within you. Stop saying “I will be happy only when/if …” Be happy and live your life right now. Be the person you are and stop chasing the phantoms of your past or your future. Strategy #2 A few times when I walked out of the door I realized that I forgot my cell phone or a letter that I had to drop off at the post office. A few times when I was still in college I forgot papers with my homework (and I got into trouble because of that.) Somewhere deep down I knew that I was missing something but my mind was so cluttered with millions of other thoughts that I could not dig it out at the right moment. Your life might be really missing something and your subconscious is trying to tell you about it. It is great that you are paying attention to these thoughts and now is the best time to find out what you can do to make your life better. 1. Clear your mind. Let’s start by organizing your thoughts and giving you some clarity. • Set aside some time to meditate. • Go to a peaceful place without your cell phone or any other distractions (park, beach, art gallery or any other place that inspires you). • Allow yourself not to worry about anything (leave all your stress behind and grasp the moment). • Do not think about what your life is missing and just be grateful for what you have. • Walk, run, write, swim or do any other activity that you enjoy and that lets your mind relax. • Breathe. • Look around. • Breathe. • Listen. • Breathe. • Be present. • Relax. Breathe. 2. Look at your life through the eyes of a stranger. Did you notice how fast we can usually see what is missing in the lives of people around us? What would you say about yourself if you didn’t know yourself? Would you see a workaholic who spends every free minute working on a new project but forgets about his wife and children? Would you see a housewife whose life is limited to the house and taking care of her family? Would you see a person who desperately

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needs to take care of his/her health? Do not be partial to yourself, be honest. 3. Ask yourself “Is my life in balance?” Break your life down into these 7 areas: - Career/ business/ accomplishments - Money - Family/ romance - Social life - Spirituality - Self growth - Health Are these areas equal or do you see gaps in some of them? You can write down your accomplishments in each of the areas and this will help you figure out what you are missing in life. 4. Ask yourself “What can you do to fill in the missing part of your life?” This is the biggest question that we are afraid to answer sometimes. You already know what you are missing but you do not want to admit it because you are scared of changing your life. You do not have enough courage or will power to take steps that will make your life full. Break down your goal into smaller steps and start growing. Mary has just written a wonderful article about the concept of growth vs change Follow her advice and start growing slowly into a better you rather than changing the way you are. 5. You still didn’t find what your life is missing? Go back to the strategy #1 and start living your life with the awareness and acceptance of who you are. Have a full and balanced life everyday and every moment of your life!

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13.

How to Spend Time with Yourself and Why
Today I wanted to talk about one special gift that you could give to yourself. The gift of time. The gift of spending time with yourself. This post is actually inspired by a great blog I recently discovered called The Naked Soul. The owner of the blog, Mark, wrote a post No room at the Inn about a Christmas story a lot of us know - when Mary and Joseph came to the town of Bethlehem and were looking for a place to stay as it was time for Mary to give birth. They came to one Inn but the Inn was full, there was no room for them. Mark says: “ For me this is a story that illustrates “God”, “Love” “Source” , “The Universe” (call it what you may) knocking on our door and us saying “No, we are too full, there is no room here for you, please move along as we are too busy, too important, too arrogant to make room for you in our life at this time”.” I am going to make a connection here between the Universe or Source that Mark is talking about and our soul or our Highest Self. How often do you make time to spend with your soul?

This is a post by Lana Kravtsova of Daring Clarity. Follow her @LanaKravtsova to find clarity in life.

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How often do you make time to spend with yourself? It’s been proven time and time again that answers to any questions we have are within us already. Everything we ever needed to be happy and to reach all of our goals is within us already. But how often do we reach within? How often do we actually stop and listen to our soul? Is it something on our priority list? Is it something we make a point to do every day? Do we put it on the same line of importance as we do our jobs, our goals, and everything else we are spending time on? I am sure for many of us the answer is NO. Even though it doesn’t make any sense. Why in the world would we run around trying to solve a problem when we could stop, look inside and find the solution much quicker and with less effort? Only when I truly realized that and started spending time with myself, did I notice a shift in everything I was doing. I got much more clarity, I became much more effective without striving for it, lots of creative ideas started popping up in my head, I started living more consciously without much effort, I naturally let go of negative thoughts that were not serving me and overall became much happier and more at peace. I truly believe if we spent time every day communicating with our soul we would be happier and more successful in life and amke this world a much better place to live in. What does it mean to spend time with your soul? Spend time with yourself. Get quiet, ask questions and listen. You can do it by journaling, or meditating, or visualizing or just sit quietly and listen. Or better yet, spend some time telling yourself how much you love yourself. Most of our problems come from us not loving and accepting ourselves enough. Spend some time every day filling yourself with love and accepting yourself. Let go of fears, worries, deadlines or any other clutter in your head. Let go of everything at least for a few minutes a day and actually be there for yourself, your True Self and listen to what it has to tell you. You’ll be amazed at some miraculous changes that will start happening in your life if you do that consistently. I know that a lot of my readers do that already, the message in this post is to those who still don’t, but know they should. How do you make it happen? How do you find time to be with yourself every day? Here are some things that helped me: 1. Understand your “whys”. Why do you want to do it? Most likely your “why” is to live a more conscious and authentic life. It might also be to find answers and let your Page 55

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
intuition guide you in reaching your goals. Connect to your Higher Self. Become more creative and get more ideas. What are your “whys”? 2. Schedule. Actually schedule time to be with yourself. Just like you schedule any other appointments and activities of yours. The more routine and predictable you make it, the more likely you are to actually do it. 3. Unclutter. Unclutter the space you are going to spend time with yourself. Just like you want your mind to be uncluttered from all the mind chatter in order for you to be able to focus on your soul and your Highest Self, the space around you has to be uncluttered too. Physical clutter is very disturbing to our mind and soul, get rid of it. 4. Choose what you are going to do. Actually decide how you are going to spend your time with yourself. Some of the ideas for you: Journaling. Journaling is a great self discovery tool. By writing we connect directly to our subconscious and our soul. It helps us to get out the messages they were trying to communicate to us. You can ask specific questions and write whatever answers come to mind or just write whatever you feel like writing about at the moment. Meditation. This is a primary tool for connecting with the Universal Mind and your Highest Self. Don’t know how to meditate? Just sit for 10 minutes and focus on your breathing. No need in learning any special techniques. Visualization. Spend some time daydreaming with a purpose. Get comfortable and think of your ideal day. Forget about everything, forget about how you are ever going to get to that day and just allow yourself to dream and feel your dream as if it came true already. Fill yourself with love. Say – “I love and accept you deeply and unconditionally” to yourself over and over again. Talk to your Inner Child. Find that little girl or boy inside of you and talk to him. Tell her how much your love her. Tell him how much you are proud of him. Tell her that you’ll be there for her no matter what. Give him the love and acceptance that he didn’t get when you were growing up. That child is still inside of you and he needs you to nurture him. Draw. Our soul often communicates with us using pictures. Visual journaling or using pictures to communicate your feelings is actually a very effective tool to understand yourself better and find the answers to questions you might have. I learned about Visual Journaling from my friend Marina and it is amazing what it can do for you and how you can express lots things you were not able to express with words using Visual Journaling. I’ll probably have my friend write a post about Visual Journaling here soon. 5. Make it a habit. Consistency is a key. How do you get consistent at something? By making it your habit. There are lots of ways to make something a habit. You probably know what works for you. Page 56

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
What works for me is to start small. Set a goal to do something for 3 or 7 days. Then for another 3 or 7 days. Then another. Small intervals don’t overwhelm your mind and ensure you actually start doing it. Once you build a momentum, it’s going to be easier to continue going. I hope those points will help you. Give yourself a gift this holiday season to find a place for your soul in your everyday life. Commit to spending time with yourself every day. You’ll see miracles, I promise.

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14.

10 Simple Ways to Live a Less Stressful Life
“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.” - George F. Burns Stress is a major problem for many people — a hectic, stressful job, a chaotic home life, bills to worry about, and bad habits such as unhealthy eating, drinking and smoking can lead to a mountain of stress. If your life is full of stress, like mine once was, there are some simle things you can do to get your life to a more manageable level. Now, your life will probably never be stress-free — I don’t think that’s even desirable, even if it is possible, because stress is something that challenges us and helps us grow. At a reasonable level. But when stress gets too high, it causes us to be unhappy and unhealthy. It wasn’t that long ago when I was working long hours in a very stressful job, with little time for my family, smoking and eating fatty foods and not exercising. I had a lot of debt and too many bills. I was unhappy and stressed out all the time. I was losing hair … OK, actually that was because of genetics, but still. I was pretty stressed. So I made some drastic changes. I quit my job. I simplified my life. I quit smoking and started exercising and eating

This is a post by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. Follow him @zen_habits and keep your life simple and productive.

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
healthier. I began to eliminate my debt. And I learned some habits that, when applied on a daily basis, can really transform the way you live, in a positive way. How did I do all of this? One thing at a time. I didn’t do a major rehaul of my life. I changed one habit a month, and gradually over the course of a year or two changed a lot of things in my life. I won’t guarantee that all of these will work for you. They worked for me, but each person is different. Pick and choose the ones that will work best for you, and give them a try. One at a time. 1. One thing at a time. This is the simplest and best way to start reducing your stress, and you can start today. Right now. Focus as much as possible on doing one thing at a time. Clear your desk of distractions. Pick something to work on. Need to write a report? Do only that. Remove distractions such as phones and email notifications while you’re working on that report. If you’re going to do email, do only that. This takes practice, and you’ll get urges to do other things. Just keep practicing and you’ll get better at it. 2. Simplify your schedule. A hectic schedule is a major cause of high stress. Simplify by reducing the number of commitments in your life to just the essential ones. Learn to say no to the rest — and slowly get out of commitments that aren’t beneficial to you. Schedule only a few important things each day, and put space between them. Get out of meetings when they aren’t absolutely essential. Leave room for down time and fun. Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com 3. Get moving. Do something each day to be active — walk, hike, play a sport, go for a run, do yoga. It doesn’t have to be grueling to reduce stress. Just move. Have fun doing it. 4. Develop one healthy habit this month. Other than getting active, improving your health overall will help with the stress. But do it one habit at a time. Eat fruits and veggies for snacks. Floss every day. Quit smoking. Cook something healthy for dinner. Drink water instead of soda. One habit at a time. 5. Do something calming. What do you enjoy that calms you down? For many people, it can be the “get moving” activity discussed above. But it could also be taking a nap, or a bath, or reading, or having sex (which can also be considered a “get moving” activity if you do it for longer than 5 minutes). Other people are calmed by housework or yardwork. Some people like to meditate, or take a nature walk. Find your calming activity and try to do it each day. 6. Simplify your finances. Finances can be a drain on your energy and a major stressor. If that’s true with you, figure out ways to simplify things. Automate savings and bill payments and debt payments. Spend less by going shopping (at malls or online) much less. Find ways to have fun that don’t involve spending money. 7. Have a blast! Have fun each day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. I like to play with my kids — they take my mind off everything and are really hilarious. I also like to play sports (again, often with my kids). Board games are Page 59

The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
fun. Sex, again, can be a fun activity. Whatever you choose, be sure to laugh. 8. Get creative. Throwing yourself into a creative activity is another great way to de-stress and to prevent stress. I like writing, but others like to paint or play music or sketch or make pottery or do interior design or build things. 9. Declutter. This is a favorite of mine. I like to take 20-30 minutes and just go through a room, getting rid of stuff we don’t use or need anymore. I look around at anything that’s cluttering up a room, and get rid of it or find a better place for it. When I’m done, I have a nice, peaceful environment for work, play, and living. Do this a little at a time — it can be one of your “fun activities”. 10. Be early. I will admit that it’s hard to be early when you have to get 6 kids ready (seriously — try it!). But being late can be very stressful. Try to leave earlier by getting ready earlier, or by scheduling more space between events. Things always take longer than normal, so schedule some buffer time: extra time to get ready, to commute, to do errands before you need to be somewhere, to attend a meeting before another scheduled appointment. If you get somewhere early, it’s good to have some reading material. How do you keep the stress in your life to a manageable level? Share in the comments. “Loafing needs no explanation and is its own excuse.” Christopher Morley

Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com

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15.

5 Simple Steps to Enhance Your Happiness

This is a post by Zeenat of Positive Provocations. Follow her @zeenatsyal or on Facebook to stay more positive every day. If you want to be happy, be. ~Leo Tolstoy We have all been hearing and reading so much about Happiness. How to find happiness? How to be Happy? This is not going to be one of those articles where I tell you how to find happiness… Why? Simply because I believe happiness is within each and every one of us. We need not look for it elsewhere. We don’t need to search for happiness, because it can never be found! How do you really find something that isn’t lost in the first place?? Happiness can be self controlled and enhanced through certain practices. A large portion of being happy comes from our own power to change. Change is usually a good thing, especially, if you’re in a dormant not-going-anywhere kind of situation. So today I will give you 5 simple steps/practices that will enhance and improve your happiness quotient: 1. Be Grateful: Write letters of gratitude to people who have helped you in your life. Maybe it was something small or something big…but write that letter. Email or Text Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com Page 61

The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
the gratitude note or letter. It’s my guarantee, you will experience a lasting and increased sense of happiness. But you won’t know till you try it! 2. Be Optimistic: Everyday before you go to bed or while you meditate, visualize an ideal future for yourself. For exampleliving with a loving and supportive partner or finding a job that is fulfilling. You can visualize whatever you want and describe that vivid image in a journal entry. After doing this for a few days: one- the universe will start positively aligning things for you, two- you will have an increased feeling of well being. 3. Count Your Blessings: Practice writing down three great things that have happened to you over the week. You might have met someone nice or might have bought something new. You being alive and breathing is a blessing too. You living and experiencing this wonderful life is a blessing too. Write it down and see the heightened state of euphoria you feel after you do. You will start noticing blessings you didn’t even know you already had! 4. You have strengths, Use them: Take time to think about your strengths. You might be loving, giving, nurturing, helping, a good friend, a good person, a good host/hostess, great at your job, great with kids…the list is endless. Identify your strengths and then make use of these in your daily life. Everyday will become a blessing you will want to write about in your gratitude journal. 5. Commit acts of kindness: Helping others also helps ourselves. Donate some time or money to charity. Better still be kind, help and assist people in need. Watching another person smile because of something you did, is the best feeling in the world! You will miraculously feel your worries vanishing, only to be replaced by a heightened soulful sense of happiness. Simple, isn’t it? Now go ahead and gently introduce these practices in your life. You deserve every ounce of happiness you can garner from this wonderful life.

Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com

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16.

6 Key Lessons in Life from a 140 year Old Man

This is a post by Arvind Devalia of Make it Happen. Follow him @arvinddevalia and make it happen for a better you and a better world. We had made a special trip to London and watched the film in Leicester Square just a few days after its release – watching it was a defining moment in my life. I have watched this remarkable movie about a remarkable man many times since then. “Generations to come will scarcely believe that such a one as this walked the earth in flesh and blood.” – Einstein I have read a lot about Gandhi since then and also been influenced by my late father who collected a huge library of Gandhi’s teachings. It is now up to all of us to apply Gandhi’s teachings in our daily life – after all his message about peace and nonviolence is more pertinent than ever before today. On this 140th anniversary of his birth, here are 6 keys lessons for all of us to apply in our life from today. 1. Be the change you wish to see in the world. This is possibly Gandhi’s most famous phrase and tells us that before we can go and change the world, we have to change ourselves. From the being, comes the doing and ultimately the having.

Today is the 140th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi. So he would have been 140 today had he not been assassinated in 1948. Gandhi may not be around anymore but his legacy and his message of non-violence lives on and he is indeed the light the world needs today. He has always been one of my heroes from a young age and I remember crying after watching Richard Attenborough’s famous film Gandhi.

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So we now have the message – “Do the change you wish to see in the world”. Focus on changing yourself and being the change you wish – and soon we can begin to look at the bigger picture and solve the world’s challenges. There is this anecdotal story about how a mother came with her son to see Gandhi. She wanted Gandhi to tell her son to stop eating too much sugar as it was harmful for his health. He asked her to come back a month later by which time he himself had cut down on his own sugar intake. The point is that before you can get anyone to take on your own teachings, you have to apply them to your own life. There are various phrases to reflect this message such as “practise what you preach” and “walk the talk”. “Let your life be your message” – Gandhi Is your life the message you want to give the world? When will you be the change you want the world to be? 2. Reduce, reuse and recycle “There is enough in the world for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed” – Gandhi Even in Gandhi’s time there was vast disparity in the world between the rich and the poor. He could see how the world’s resources were being pilloried to satisfy the excessive demands of the West whilst most people in the rest of the world were barely surviving. Today I would argue that the way we are all living in the West and elsewhere, there is not even enough for everyone’s needs. We must revisit how we live our lives and truly learn to reduce, reuse and recycle – the 3Rs. The time has come when we cannot just rely on others – each one of us has to do our bit. Increasingly, more and more people and also businesses are waking up to their responsibilities to the environment, the larger community and the global implications of their activities. Start today and apply the 3Rs in your life. 3. Live a simple, minimalist life. Gandhi lived a very simple, frugal life. He died with very few possessions and he preached simplicity and minimalism in all areas of life. He also dressed simply and even persisted with his simple Indian loin cloth when he visited England and met the King. When asked if he was under dressed for a meeting with the King, Gandhi replied that the King had enough clothes on for both of them! Minimalism is something I am beginning to apply in my life too. To get you started, please check out this excellent “Minimalist Guide” from my blogging mentor and friend Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. Page 64

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
Leo is a man Gandhi would have approved off for his humility, sharing, compassion and also his hairstyle:-) Start living a simpler minimalistic life from today – and you will release a lot of time and energy to bring more of Gandhi’s teachings into the world. 4. If no one walks with you, walk alone Believe in your cause, follow your truth and stick to your journey even if you have to walk the path on your own. Gandhi at the end of his life was said to be heartbroken with the partition of India as millions were killed and displaced. Even then, he still had a message for the world – it takes just one man to make a difference. If no one responds to your call, go forward alone. If no one talks to you, oh luckless one, If everyone turns away from you in fear, Reveal your thoughts and express your ideas to yourself. If everyone leaves you while you are travelling a dangerous road, If no one wants to look after you, Walk on alone, on the road strewn with thorns, trampling on them with bleeding feet. If no one shows a light, if in the dark stormy night everyone shuts their doors, Use your rib as a torch, lit from the fire of thunder. – Rabindranath Tagore Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com Page 65 So anything and everything you do counts and will make a difference. 5. Get your power through humility Gandhi was a very humble, down to earth, ordinary humanbeing but therein lay his power and authority. His power came from being very clear about who he was, his values and his mission. So the clearer you are about who you are and what you stand for,the more power you will exert in the world, whilst remaining humble and as down to earth as you wish. Of course, by power what I mean here is not the power that corrupts but one that changes the world and makes a positive contribution. 6. Start today “The difference between what we do, and what we are capable of doing, would solve most of the world’s problems” – Gandhi Believe that what you do matters, and that it will make a difference. You can’t save the whole world single-handedly, and we can’t all be a Gandhi or a Mandela, but you can certainly make a difference to one person at a time. So look for ways to contribute.

The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
Ask yourself what special skill or knowledge you have that can solve a problem or make the best of a situation and that will help or support others. And actually, maybe we can all be a Gandhi or a Mandela Start small – and get started no matter what. They too started small one day at the beginning of their own life journeys. So fear not – you already have and know enough – new skills will come for sure as you progress on your journey. And whatever you choose to do, it will make a difference. The point is that everything we do matters and makes either a positive or a negative impact on everything around us. You can start today to apply Gandhi’s message in your life, simply by focussing on this one question:How can I bring more love and peace into my life today? Just know that every little bit helps and by you being more loving and peaceful, the rest of the world becomes more loving and peaceful too. After all, we all have a “Gandhi” inside of us, just waiting to emerge. As for me, I too shall continue to work on letting my own Gandhi emerge, but perhaps not his dress sense! The way forward – become crazy to change the world! What makes one person a Gandhi or a Dr Martin Luther King? Is it pure coincidence or do such inspirational historic figures have some special powers? “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify and vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as crazy, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Steve Jobs, Apple So just how crazy are you? And how will YOU change the world?

Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com

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17.

The One Ingredient Necessary for Accepting Yourself
Recently I was surfing an online forum, and I came across something that almost made me cry. Somebody had dug up an old, old post of mine and replied to it. Sometimes new users on a forum don’t look at the date on a old post, and they respond to it as if it were still relevant, so the post goes to the top of the first page in the list, even if it’s years old. Those of you who read online forums have seen this happen many times, I’m sure, and so had I. But this one gave me an instant lump in the throat. The post was called, “My Struggle.” The desperate tone of the post stunned me. I couldn’t believe it was me. In it, I had spilled my guts to everyone who would listen, over my dissatisfaction with myself and my life. I hated how I never finished anything, never got on a roll, never got good at what I wanted to be good at. I was not able to accept myself, because to accept myself meant that what I was doing (and failing to do) was fine. Of course I wasn’t fine with it. I knew I was squandering my time and my talents, and it was killing me. I didn’t feel like I could get anywhere until I loved myself, and I didn’t feel like I could love myself until I got somewhere.

This is a post by David Cain of Raptitude. Follow him @daviddcain or on facebook to get better at being human.

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People advised me to decide to accept who I was, right now, and then I’d be free to live the life I want. I tried to do that. In fact, I did it a lot. I would get so worked up with enthusiasm about myself that I felt unstoppable. But enthusiasm fades. After a few days, the same patterns emerged again, and I was back to square one. This went on for years. I’ve seen countless others describe the same problem. You can’t just decide to suddenly feel good about yourself. It won’t work. I can see now the mistake people make in trying to love themselves, it’s exactly what I did. They confuse self-love with how they feel about themselves. They want the warm, comfortable feeling of being loved. They are focused on receiving love from themselves, rather than giving it. If You Have Trouble Loving Yourself Know this: Love is action. Self-love is not how you feel about yourself. It’s what you do for yourself. You can only love yourself by doing, not thinking. Execute feats of love, feats of respect, for your own benefit. First of all, worship your body. There is nothing on this earth you will ever do that does not require its cooperation. Be nice to it. Get it into great shape. Don’t poison it, don’t abuse it, don’t neglect it. An unwillingness to worship your Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com body will undermine any attempt to love yourself. Love it with your actions, or it won’t love you back. If you are rude to it, it will hinder you, embarrass you, and even kill you. Learn. Endow yourself with skills, languages, abilities and arts. Developing skills is the most immediate and liberating way to shoot your self-esteem through the roof. What qualities would make you love or admire someone else? Kindness, humor, thoughtfulness, ability? Cultivate and improve those qualities. A lot of people seem to think indulging or gratifying yourself is the same as loving yourself. Magazines and commercials say “Love yourself,” or “You’re worth it,” and then tell you to buy something or eat chocolate cake. Finding some reward and indulging in it is not love. Often it’s just abuse. Comforting yourself is not loving yourself. Beware the draw of comfort; seeking comfort is often a response to fear, not love. Don’t appease yourself, revere yourself. Do work you love. Even if you make less money. Even if you disappoint others. Working a job for which you have no passion is betraying yourself, for eight hours a day. Nobody can love themselves while they subject themselves to forty hours of uninspiring work every week. If it isn’t practical to leave your current line of work just yet, start planning your escape now. That’s love. Do not resign a third of your life to someone else’s purpose. Dignity is worth any pay cut. If you don’t like your job, you are only getting better at being resentful. The Respect Habit Page 68

The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
The quality of your actions matters. Do everything with care. Pick up and put down objects as if you respect them. Don’t just drop yourself into a seat, sit down with purpose. Respect everything you buy, borrow, give away or dispose of. Respect your time. Spend your time on things that put you into a better situation in life, on things that make you more capable, rather than on things that make you feel good for the moment. You will love yourself for doing this. Respect other people. Respect their skills and their virtues. Their flaws too. Respect their thoughts. Let them finish what they are saying, don’t interrupt, don’t be dismissive. Try to understand what they’re getting at. Let them be who they are. I am convinced that people are exactly as judgmental about themselves as they are about others. Find the value in others, or you will never see it in yourself. Forget the ways in which you would like other people to be different. Forgive them, and forgive yourself. Forgive yourself every time you wake up, and every time you go to bed. Forgive yourself every time you screw up. Respect the world around you. The spectacles, the scenes, the details. Respect buildings and the people who built them. Respect businesses and the people who run them. Respect the trees. Respect the tiny, yellow-flowered weed that vehemently persists in thrusting itself up through the cracks in the sidewalk. It invests all its energy in growing, and it absolutely insists on being itself. Love is picking up the dumbbells the moment you start making excuses. Love is doing your scariest task first thing in the morning. It’s not quitting early and treating yourself to a beer. It’s not telling yourself it’s okay for your apartment to be a pigsty. There is a choice in every moment, between acting out of love, or out of fear. At any instant, you can stop at look at the moment, and it is clear which action is which. You will make a habit out of choosing one or the other. You won’t be able to have respect if you do not make a habit of recognizing value. There is value in every person, object, place and moment, but you may miss it if you hold faults to be more important. Find the endless value in the world around you, and it will be easy to find the endless value in yourself. Eventually you will no longer see a difference between the two.

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18.

How to Give Your Dark Side Permission to Live
Do you like Star Wars? I do, and I know a few people who are plain crazy about it. Have you ever wanted to have that Force that Luke Skywalker and his family had in their blood? You know, fight with a light saber or influence thoughts of intellectually lower individuals. Luke and Anakin had the gift of the Force but they used it differently. Of course you know that Luke was all good and followed in the steps of Jedi masters while his father turned to the Dark Side of the Force (Boooo!) They were both powerful but what if they could use bits of both sides of the Force? I believe they could have been finally happy and more … human. Anyway, enough with the Star Wars. Each of us has two sides: the Good Side and the Dark Side and our life is spent as a rollercoaster from one side to the other. If you are looking for ways to improve your life, to live a better life and become a better person then you are probably trying to fight some of your Dark Side nature. You wake up in the morning and you know that it is time to get up because you want to go running before work, you need to get a few things done and you want to be productive today. On the other hand when you look at the clock you feel the warmth and comfort of your blanket, and suddenly you feel so secure and peaceful that you just do not want to leave this bed. You want to give in to your Dark

This is a post by Anastasiya Goers of Balance In Me. Please follow me @balanceinme and keep your life balanced.

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Side Laziness and enjoy a few more minutes in the comfort of your bed. Of course you still get up and go on with your regular routines and you push aside those pleasant thoughts of laziness. The Dark Side is the part of us that we do not want to accept and that we want to fight as much as possible. We might be fighting laziness, aggression, inconsideration, ungratefulness, rudeness, stubbornness, arrogance … you know better what qualities you are fighting. Sometimes this battle can be very exhausting and while you are trying to be all good and perfect you lose the present moment. You lose yourself and lose simple life happiness. An interesting thing is that a drawback for one person can be the most treasured quality for another and everything depends on how we use these qualities. For example one person can be suffering from stubbornness and try his/her best to get rid of it while another person will use stubbornness to reach their goals and to stay on track no matter what (this is how I personally deal with being muleheaded ) I think that each of us should let a small piece of the Dark Side live and flourish inside of us. We should have one “dirty little secret” that will bring balance into our life. I believe that happiness and fulfillment in life come not from being perfect but from being balanced. This balance can be reached only if you let both sides of your nature co-exist inside of you, let the Ying and Yang inside of you go hand in hand together. Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com When you agree to let a few bits of the Dark Side live inside of you, you must be very careful because you do not want to go overboard. It is like eating a delicious cake. A small piece will make you feel good and happy, but a big piece (and especially the whole cake) will make you regret every bite. Your Dark Side is your temptation that you can give in to only when you really need it but you should never indulge in it. How can you let the Dark Side live inside of you without any regrets? I do not know all the answers, but I think that these tips can bring some balance into your life: Have your own “dirty little secret.” Have you heard the song by The All-American Rejects “Dirty Little Secret”? While trying to improve yourself allow yourself a few “secrets” that will let you feel in balance. You can listen to the songs with bad language while running, you can eat icecream in the middle of the night when nobody can see you or you can wear one pair of socks for a few days (if it makes you happy, why not?) Little things like that do not hurt anybody but they let you be “bad” every once in a while. Choose what bad qualities you can keep in your life. It is very important to choose exactly how much of the Dark Side you can keep in your life. Keep only those qualities that do not hurt you or people around you physically, emotionally or financially. I would not recommend to you to hold on to smoking or gluttony because these habits will

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only drain you in all senses. Choose your bad qualities wisely because you are a smart person after all. Find innocent ways to satisfy your Dark Side. If you are trying to get rid of some bad qualities the worst thing that you can do is to eliminate them completely. Do not step over yourself but rather try to find a place for your Dark Side in your life. If you are trying to fight aggression or a bad temper then try martial arts, video games or occasional fast driving and smoking the tires on the car (that is exactly what my husband does to let off some steam ) If you are fighting procrastination then just allow yourself to have one slow day when you can procrastinate as much as you want (the best thing is to choose a day when you have the least amount of tasks.) Have one “bad” day a week or a month. Allow yourself to be lazy, inconsiderate, stubborn etc. every once in a while and do not feel bad about it. My husband and I have Sunday as our lazy day. We do not have any tasks, we can sleep as long as we want (as long as our babies allow us to) and we can have dirty dishes lying in the sink all day long. Try to be the opposite. Sometimes we experience the biggest revelations when we step outside of our comfort zone. It can be a good idea to try to be a totally different person every once in a while. If you are calm and passive by nature then try to be emotional and aggressive sometimes (express your thoughts loudly or try aggressive sports). If you are a leader in life then just relax and go with the flow for a while. If you are independent then try to rely on somebody and put your entire trust in that person (it can be good proof of your true feelings and a strong relationship). Do you have your own “dirty little secrets” or bad qualities that you are not ready to part with? If you put a lot of work into becoming a better person and improving both spiritually and physically then you can still keep a few bits of your Dark Side without any regrets. Eventually you might get rid of that Dark Side completely and without any effort just because you gave yourself some time to adjust to a new YOU and to develop slowly. Keep your personal life balance between good and bad and enjoy a happy and fulfilling life.

Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com

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19.

The Minimalist’s Mind: Decluttering Your Brain Waves

This is a post by David Turnbull of Adventures of a Barefoot Geek. Follow him @dturnbull and enjoy his laid back life hacking. too focused on the “stuff” aspect of simplicity. Yes, getting junk out of the house and acquiring less is important, but really, as most articles centered on this topic will tell you: “Stuff is just stuff.” That idea goes both ways. Your thoughts are more important than what surrounds you and even a lone ascetic in a cave can live a cluttered life if they’re not mindful of their consciousness and how it behaves on the spectrum of emotion and logic. I feel it’s the mental capacity in which you can simplify that will provide long-term clarity and peace of mind. This is not about “turning your brain off” (not even the Dalai Lama can do that), but being aware of what’s pervading the flow of your thinking and carefully working towards a life that isn’t inundated with shallow fuzz and mindless fluff. Cut compulsions. For those that follow me on Twitter you may have noticed my announcement that I’ve decided to stop following anyone. I still use the service as a broadcasting and communication tool, but my compulsive nature compelled me to read every tweet that came my way and, while I didn’t have too many incoming tweets, it was the constant checking that interrupted my work and cluttered my thoughts.

Things. Things. Things. Just as people are too concerned with “stuff” so is the recent upswing of minimalism advice Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com

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Be honest with yourself and think about your compulsions; your reactionary choices that constantly interfere with your life. And it doesn’t have to be internet-based compulsions either. I used to be obsessive about finishing every book I started, at times slogging through chapter after chapter of mindless drivel. Non-completion was a difficult belief to instill, but like all compulsions, releasing them is a huge weight off your shoulders. Identify background resistance and systematically work towards overcoming it. Everyone has background resistance; small things like unfinished tasks preventing them from moving forward or causing them distress at seemingly random times. They’re the things you “should” do, yet aren’t exactly a requirement to continue your life, but you know they will bring you happiness or the possibility of happiness. Here are a few examples of things I should do, but have been procrastinating about, creating this background resistance: Depositing an international cheque at the bank. Have new passport photos taken (my passport expired a few months ago). Turns out ePassportPhoto can do all the “hard work” for me on this one. Learning to drive (…this has been background resistance for a long time). All of these things I should be doing prevent me, at times, from having a relaxed mind; constantly tugging at my guilt for not acting on them straight away, creating this antagonizingly long stretch of ambiguous anxiety. Now, overcoming this background resistance is obviously something I struggle with myself, but I do have a plan of action (and would love to hear your opinions in the comments): Make yourself accountable. Write a list of all your background resistance and, if possible, share it in a public place (such as a blog) or with friends and family. Take the path of least resistance. Start with the simplest item on your list and commit to doing it on a specific day. Get out the door. Once that day arrives tell someone that you’re going to do X and then get out the door. That’s the most important part. Get moving and resolve that “I’m going to do this thing I’ve been procrastinating about TODAY.” When writing your list be careful not to filter out items that you feel are silly. My entire list is silly – nothing I need to do is particularly difficult, or even that time-consuming, they’re just not that interesting to me so I’ve pushed them away to focus more on what I care about at this particular point in time. And while that sounds very Zen of me, it’s seriously impending my ability to go beyond my current

Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com

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situation (which isn’t too bad, but I still have a few goals to achieve over my lifetime). Consider what your wishes are. What do you want to do with your life? What do you want to wake up to every morning? How do you want to spend every day until the day you die? These are fairly massive questions, and the uncertainty they conjure is a major reason so many people fail to answer them, but if you don’t answer them there’ll be that nagging feeling at the back of your mind that something’s not “right,” that there has to be more to life but you just can’t tell what. “…abandon any concern for reputation and be satisfied if you can just live the rest of your life, whatever remains, in the way your nature wishes. You must consider, then, what those wishes are, and then let nothing else distract you.” – Marcus Aurelius When you stand up and say “this is what is important to me and I’m going to freakin’ get it,” a few super-fantastic things happen: All the clutter (both physical and mental) that is not conducive to the life you want to lead becomes overtly irrelevant, making it easier to let go of. Your future choices and decisions become less turbulent. You can frame any idea in the context of the life you wish to have, and see what fits. Nothing will stand in your way. You will find a solution to any problem and you will get to where you want to be. This could take weeks, months, or even years, but when it matters to you that much, the time is inconsequential. In all of this however, remember that no decision is permanent. Deciding that you want to be an artist, doesn’t stop you from becoming a web developer; it just gives you a stepping stone for today. Let technology and circumstances pull the cart. Will power, being busy, and working till you drop is overrated. Writing, developing software, and endlessly learning is what I love, but that doesn’t constitute giving into the potential for ineffective, time-wasting fluff. Get up in the morning, sit at your computer at 9 and then leave at 5 and your mind will be as jumbled as, uh, something that’s very jumbled? (Simile fail.) Technology and the wide network of intertubes was designed to make our lives easier, not suck our souls down their fiber optic lines . It’s time to make our digital allies pick up the slack and for our environments to lift their game, providing us with the power to do what needs to be done without frazzling our noggins. Ask yourself this simple question: How can I craft my circumstances and use technology to streamline my life?

Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com

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Okay, the question isn’t too simple, so here’s a couple of examples from my world: As I wrote about in Working on the Web and Having a Life I found I was spending way too much time on the computer and felt like it was dominating my life, making it difficult to disconnect from the digital world. Instead of relying on will power or trying desperately to cut this chain, I changed my circumstances, choosing to set up a permanent office downstairs, away from the part of the house I mostly live in. Plus, I used software like LeechBlock (although now I use SiteBlock since switching to Chrome) to stop my obsessive checking of email, and other minutia. Mobile phones have never been a big part of my life. With the ability to work at home I rarely feel a need to urgently get in contact with friends and family; and if I do, for whatever reason, there’s of course our home phone that works fine. Even so, last year I picked up an iPhone 3GS. It’s an amazing phone, made even better since I jailbroke it, but a feeling has risen a few times over the past couple of weeks: do I really need it? After examining my use, in reality it was pushing me away from my goals, sucking me into mindless Twittering and compulsive Facebook-checking. Setting up self-moderated rules or just “dealing with it” could perhaps put a dent in the issue, but there’s the simpler alternative: sell the phone. Downgrading, or “lo-teching” is a viable alternative to the much pushed “adding more features” and “getting more Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com Page 76 connected” view of tech – all this more, more, more just obfuscates the core problem you face and the core desires you have. And while the iPhone still sits patiently in my room, I feel off-loading it on eBay is a perfect example of these key ideas: Never rely on will power. Regularly re-examine your usage of technology and other potential sources of distraction. Lo-tech works. Solve problems; don’t solve potential, yet unlikely eventualities. Cutting out something you like in your life isn’t always a sacrifice in the scheme of things. Being inundated with noise, notifications, and waves of fuzz will clutter your mind, eliminating the focus you wish to achieve and the clarity that is unfortunately difficult to maintain. Externalize yourself from your world and treat your circumstances like a game of The Sims – you can craft them from ground up, create the situations you wish to live through and form the frame of mind you wish to attain. Isolate judgment. Our judgment of situations is what causes unhappiness, not the situation itself. This is perhaps the most prominent belief of Stoicism, and there’s a perfect example in my recent history.

The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
My mum, sister and I decided to head down to a beach about 20 minutes away. After learning how to not suck at swimming I’d been eager to get back in the water, preferably at an open water pool to do a few laps. When we arrived however the area was crowded, the water was murky (it’d been raining for 3-4 days prior), and while I was expecting a pool to do laps in, the closest part of the beach that resembled a pool was simply a netted off area in the water. I wish I could say I jovially went on my merry way and made the best of the situation, but alas, I’m not infallible and for a good 20-30 minutes I couldn’t shake the feeling of being let down because my overly specific pre-conceived notion of what the day “should have” been like wasn’t a reality. But what’s really unfortunate is that: It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, clear skies, and warm temperature. The beach we were at is a very nice beach. I had the freedom to be able to be in this amazing place in the middle of the day. …and yet I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was missing out. People come from all over the world to visit places like this and the fact that I couldn’t knock off a few laps ruined the entire experience. I’m trying not to be too hard on myself, but you have to agree, my reaction was silly. At the same time though, the vast majority of people let their judgment get the better of them. Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com The act of isolating judgment, I feel, is an ongoing process and I doubt there’ll be one point that stands out where I’ve made the transition (if I ever manage too). Letters from a Stoic and Meditations are both filled with fantastic pieces of advice and are definitely worth reading, but here are a few quick points to get you started: Avoid expectations in the first place. Tell yourself “this could turn out like X or it could turn out like Y” – run all the possibilities through your mind and don’t attach yourself to a specific outcome. Welcome unpredictability. Understand the nature of self-interest. Everything anyone does is done because they perceive it as a benefit to themselves – that’s including yourself, the Dalai Lama, the Pope – everyone. If someone does you wrong, remember that, if you were in their situation, with the sum of their life experiences, you would have acted in the same way. Seek the positive. Yin and Yang; there’s good in the bad and bad in the good. No matter how dire a situation or circumstance may seem there’s always at least a morsel of positivity, and an advantage from your stand point. Living a life clouded by pre-conceived notions and harmful beliefs is not how I envision my future, and I imagine it’s not your dream either. Be aware of how you see situations and how they affect you. Cultivate the habit of appreciating events and environments for what they are, not for what you’ve determined they should be. Page 77

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Release obligations with the survival mindset. I believe the purpose of the human race is to perpetuate the existence of the human race. That may not tie in with any theology, but from my interest in Stoicism and Buddhism it makes sense that survival would be our most important goal in life as it’d be consistent with the rest of nature. But let’s not make this a religious debate. To some the idea of this “survival mindset” would seem pessimistic, as it proclaims that there’s no higher purpose for mankind. I take the other route however. I see it as a form of liberation; a liberation from unnecessary obligations that we’re often forced (or at least coerced) into adopting. Our only obligation is to survive, and to not interfere with the survival of others (what hurts the hive, hurts the bee after all). Anything beyond those two conditions is our own playground of opportunity. “…we are on earth to fart around and don’t let anybody tell you different.” – Kurt Vonnegut Perhaps, if I’ve explained this idea clearly enough now, you’ve started to realize: you don’t need a Ferrari, spending 40 years in a job you hate to further your “career” will all be for nothing once you’re dead, and doing anything that doesn’t tie in with your obligation to nature (survival) is fairly trivial in the scope of the universe – at the least though it can be a form of triviality that you find fun. Never commit to a specific set of beliefs. One way to cause friction in your thinking is to be too rigid in what you Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com believe; choosing at any stage in your life that “X is true, Y is false and these are never-changing constants.” The moment you’re in this frame of mind where you can never be wrong and your beliefs are 110% foolproof, you’re practically inviting disorder into your brain. What if your thoughts are preventing you from getting to a place where you want to be? What if a belief has been founded on an obscured view, and is thereby invalid at its core? How will you react to varied opinions that could prove beneficial to you? Being without belief is being without breath; it’s unlikely you’re going to survive too long if you avoid all instances of having an opinion or thinking beyond a specific fragment of the truth that you’ve been fed. Have a belief, but don’t stick to it so tightly that it pervades you ability to live the life you wish to live, and do the things you wish to do. “If someone can prove me wrong and show me my mistake in any thought or action, I shall gladly change. I seek the truth, which never harmed anyone: the harm is to persist in one’s own self-deception and ignorance.” – Marcus Aurelius Decide to do a little here and a little there. Big thinking – and ambition in general – has its benefits. Thinking too small will destroy motivation and hinder your own growth. But while I believe you should think big I try to regularly “act small” – as in, everything I do to attain my big goals is not some boisterous, over-the-top attention grab, but a Page 78

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simple, modest, and mindful decision that inches me closer to where I want to be. If you’re the type of personality that wants to do big things then I’m not going to say, “don’t do that, it’s wrong” – everyone’s different after all. In my experience though, when I let my actions transcend my thoughts I’m overcome with doubt, negative stress, and a cluttered mind. The approach I’ve been taking with this blog demonstrates this quite well. Instead of committing to 2-3 high quality posts per week and really pushing myself to take my work to the next level on an endless basis, I act in a sustainable way; regularly rising my standards and not resting on my laurels, but still not taking myself to the point where I feel like I’m standing atop a house of cards waiting to crumble at my next breath. This may be a slower way to get from A to B, but the process – the stuff you’re doing now – is elevated to the most important aspect of your day and with that, everything you do, from the most mundane to the most thrilling brings a sense of clarity to the table, allowing you to not over think (to the point of self-destruction) what you’re doing and, instead, just doing it with all the focus you can muster.

Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com

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20.

How to Clear Your Limiting Beliefs
I used to have a belief for a long period of my life that people didn’t like me. This is by the way one of the top ten limiting beliefs people have. I used to have that belief in a slightly exaggerated form though. It was coming from childhood and from my mom’s desire to have an easy going and communicative child which I never was. She used to always directly or indirectly try to change me. I have a great mom by the way, she did what she thought would be the best for me. But as a result of that I formed a belief that people didn’t like me the way I was. Anyway, I realized that I had that belief a long time ago. I also realized that it was just a belief and that it limited me a lot in life since it didn’t allow me to fully express who I was and made me very insecure. The nature of our beliefs is very tricky. When we have a belief about something we’ll always find proof of that belief in the external world. When I had this belief that people didn’t like me, that’s what I was noticing everywhere I went.

This is a post by Lana Kravtsova of Daring Clarity. Follow her @LanaKravtsova to find clarity in life.

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Of course, there were (and still are) plenty of people who love me. But I simply ignored them and focused on those who didn’t. That in turn reinforced my belief and made it even stronger. Quit a vicious cycle. When I started living more consciously, I started reevaluating my beliefs. One thing I learned was that often just becoming aware of the limiting belief was enough to let it go. Ahh Awareness… It can truly create miracles. Well, unfortunately, with some deeply rooted beliefs not everything is that easy. I let go of the belief partially but not all of it. How did I know? Awareness helped again. I told you it’s a powerful tool. I started noticing (became aware of) occasions when the belief reappeared again. I think one of them was when I sent a friend request to a person on FB who I was really interested to become friends with and the person didn’t respond to the request for several days. The first thought I had was that the person didn’t like what I had written in the message I sent, which was pretty silly to think, but I did. The thought was very quick and then I immediately realigned myself realizing how stupid it was to think that (state of awareness again). I had a couple of other occasions like that one and those brief thoughts or reactions that I became aware of showed me that the belief is still there. I let it go quickly and don’t allow it to make my life miserable anymore because I am aware of it. But it would be so nice to not have it at all, to let it go out of my life completely. And I think I finally did. How did I do that? Instead of trying to fight my limiting belief that people don’t like me, I decided to consciously let go of my need for approval by others. I consciously decided that from now on I will allow people to not like me (as if they ever cared about my permissionJ). I allowed myself to be okay with people not liking me. I made a decision and I also wrote it down – “I am completely fine when someone doesn’t like me and I allow them to feel towards me the way they please”. So I attacked the belief from a different angle. It is still there but I don’t care about it anymore since I don’t care about people liking me or not anymore. Well, I probably still do but I am not attached to it. Page 81

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
What are the beliefs you have that bother you? Are you even aware of your limiting beliefs? Becoming aware is the first and most important step of stopping those beliefs from ruling your life and dictating you how you are going to think, feel and act. Become aware first and then see how you can completely get rid of them. Find a different angle to your belief just like I did and let it go. But before you do that you have to learn how to become aware, right? Without awareness you’ll continue living on autopilot at the mercy of your limiting beliefs. How to become aware: Stop and ask why. Ask why you are thinking, feeling and acting the way you do. Why are you afraid to do something? Does it really make sense? Or is it some limiting belief of yours stopping you from taking action? Stop and ask, often just that is enough to uncover limiting beliefs. Watch your language. Notice how you speak. Do you have lots of negative phrases in your vocabulary? Do you have lots of – “It won’t work”, “I don’t think I can do it”, “this is unrealistic”, “they won’t approve” etc? Do you have any “Would be nice but…”, “I’d love to but I should..”, “I don’t want to but I have to…” Watch how you speak and you’ll become aware of your limiting beliefs. Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com Watch your thoughts. What are the thoughts that run through your mind? Are there lots of those that make you a victim, criticize you, complain etc? Notice the patterns, find limiting beliefs. Become aware. Only after that can you let them go. Start noticing your second reaction to something. Your first reaction usually comes from your soul and is true. You second reaction might be different and it is when your limiting beliefs kick in. When I wanted to send a friend request to a person I talked about earlier, I was excited. Then the second reaction came and my limiting belief kicked in – she might not have liked what I had written (people don’t like you, don’t you remember?) Write it down. When you become aware of your limiting thoughts, words, reactions– write them down. Otherwise you’ll forget. Meditate. Meditation is the number one tool that helps with the state of awareness. It helps us to become an observer. Without becoming more aware you won’t be able to stop and ask why. You’ll continue on autopilot doing what you were doing. You won’t be able to notice your limiting language patterns or your second reactions. All of that is possible only when you are aware, when you are observing.

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After you became aware of some of the limiting beliefs that hold you back in life, see how you can let them go completely. Find the angle that will help you get rid of any need to have that negative belief. Release your attachment to the thing you are so afraid of. Let go. Free yourself up. You’ll love it, I promise. Live Consciously, Be Yourself, Follow Your Dreams!

Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com

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21.

10 Killer Strategies to Kill Negative Thinking (and Regain Life Balance)
I am sure that each of us has those days when we feel that the whole world is against us. It starts with gloomy rainy weather that does not let even a tiny ray of sunshine touch your skin. The next thing you know is that you have gotten into a mess that you were not even expecting. You got laid off (pretty common in this modern economy), you had a bad argument with someone close to you, or you feel that you are not appreciated and that everything you do is not good enough. You can think of your own scenarios of how you could develop a negative attitude to life, I don’t think you need my help for this It’s difficult to be balanced and happy in these situations (yep, even “balance experts” like me have times like this). Instead of focusing on balanced thinking you start overanalyzing the situation. Thoughts of self-pity or criticism fill your entire mind killing any sprouts of creativity or inspiration. You get stuck in a circle of insecurity, fear, frustration and a general feeling of failure. Each of us knows the best advice that we hear in these types of situations “Stop thinking negatively. Concentrate on positive thoughts.” Yeah, right … If it really were that easy then people would not be popping anti-depressant pills like crazy now. However I do believe that there is a way to change this negative attitude and to regain life balance in the shortest

This is a post by Anastasiya Goers of Balance In Me. Please follow me @balanceinme and keep your life balanced.

Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com

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time (without any medical assistance). After going through a situation that required all my knowledge of life balance I can give you a few tips on how to eradicate negative thoughts. 1. Talk to someone with a positive attitude. The most important thing in situations like this is not to stay alone. Find somebody that you can talk to and discuss whatever troubles you (do not forget to be emotional in the conversation). Do not get stuck on the subject of your negative attitude though. Once you feel that your burden is lighter move on and talk about something pleasant. Remember funny situations that happened to both of you in the past, talk about nice people you met; discuss funny movies or people you saw lately. Have fun. 2. Write down your thoughts. If there is nobody you can talk to then just write down all your thoughts. Again do not forget to put your emotions into this writing. You can pretend that it’s a letter to yourself or to an imaginary friend. It also can be the plot of a novel (do not forget to write a happy ending then). It can even be a mind map that will help you realize what led you to this negative attitude and how you can break through. Once you are done you will feel relieved and your balance will be at least partially restored. Depending on the situation you might want to burn whatever you have written or tear it to pieces and imagine how your negative thoughts disappear. 3. Immerse yourself into a hobby. When you are doing something you love you stop thinking Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com negatively. I like organizing photos, creating photo collages and looking through photo albums. It brings happy memories and helps me to be more grateful for what I have. 4. Be engrossed in your work. When you are a writer or any other creative person then being engrossed in work is a problem (negative thoughts kill inspiration). However, I find it helpful to do some routine projects that do not require creativity. In the terms of a blog it can be looking for new plugins, looking for people to follow on Twitter or Stumbleupon, going through old posts and organizing them etc. No matter what you do for a living I am sure that you have some routine tasks that you do not like doing on most other days but that you can benefit from when you are low on inspiration. 5. Go to an inspiring place. The worst thing to do when you are attacked by negative thinking is to hide in your house and to complain about the whole world. Get out and go to a place that inspires you. Nature is the biggest source of inspiration for me that is why I enjoy going to the park, hiking nature trails or just going for a walk around the neighborhood (you still see trees, grass and flowers ). (You can find a few ideas about nature and life balance in Balance Your Life in Two Days) Some people might get inspired in a museum or art gallery while others might be fans of hot rods and muscle cars. You know what inspires you so just go there!

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6. Stop your negative thoughts for a while. If you are a disciplined person then you can tell yourself “I cannot think about it now. I will think about this whole situation between 8 p.m. and 8.20 p.m.” You do not stop your thoughts you just postpone them. The idea is that when the allocated time arrives, you won’t feel the same anxiety. 7. Practice gratitude. It is very important to learn the art of gratitude before negative thoughts start to bombard you (in this case negative attitude does not even have a chance to creep into your life). However, it’s never too late to start. Be genuinely grateful for what you have in life and never stop thinking about it. Meditation is a powerful tool to control your thoughts and to learn gratitude (I am almost ashamed to admit that I still have not tried meditation. Well, it is nice to know that I still have long ways to go to discover everything about life balance ) Being spiritual in general will help you to become more aware and grateful for your life. 8. Try something new and get extremely excited about it. One of my close friends recently broke up with her boyfriend and the world looked pretty dark to her. She has decided to try something she’s been thinking about for a long time – Kundalini Yoga. She says that the whole world seems a hundred times brighter now and she has completely regained her inner balance in just a couple of weeks. What do you want to try? 9. Learn from the situation. Whether you have given in to emotional eating and gained 10 pounds that you’ve been trying to lose for the last year or whether you have been hurt by stinging comments and thoughts of people around you, just use this situation as a life lesson. Imagine that you have gotten a bad grade in school. It’s unpleasant, you feel bad but it is not the end of the world. You just have to learn your homework again and next time you will be prepared. 10.Find happiness boosters. Sometimes a bowl of icecream can be a better cure than any emotional counseling (do not practice emotional eating too often though). Watch a comedy or any movie with a happy ending. Focus on good things in your life (my babies are the biggest happiness boosters for me. Just one smile on their faces makes me the happiest person on the face of the earth. ) I firmly believe that any smart person can withstand any attack of negativity. It is our choice how to fight this battle and to be winners no matter what. Negative situations or failures are unavoidable but we can avoid their destructive power by holding on to positive thinking, a desire to understand the world around us and a constant movement towards life balance.

Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com

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22.

10 Ways to Practice Mindfulness and Reach Life Balance
Being a mindful person is probably the best way to find life balance. When you are mindful you live in the present moment and you can enjoy your life right now, not some time in the future and not some time in the past. Right now I am sitting in front of a glass door that opens to a terrific view of the ocean, waves breaking on the beach, blue sky and white fluffy clouds that form the most amazing shapes in the sky. My girls are playing with my husband on the balcony and I can see their little faces with huge smiles and sparkling eyes. I am mindful and I feel completely in balance at this moment. There is nothing else that I could wish for in life. Mindfulness is the first step to finding balance and happiness in life. I know that a lot of times we are too busy to stop and think, to be mindful of the present moment and what it means to us. From our earliest years we hear that we need to think about the future all the time. We need to plan for the future every minute of our life. We are not taught to live in the present and to enjoy the very moment that we are in right now (actually living in the present and not thinking about the future is reproached in any possible way.) When we are not thinking about the future we are usually thinking about the past. It would have been nice if we were thinking only about pleasant moments of the past, our emotions and memories of the happiest days of our life.

This is a post by Anastasiya Goers of Balance In Me. Please follow me @balanceinme and keep your life balanced.

Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com

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However, most of the time we think about something that we should have done but we forgot to. We think about some situation when we didn’t feel at our best and how we could have changed it if we had said or done something differently. We think about people and opportunities we’ve lost. We remember stressful situations that bring only negative emotions and thoughts. And again the present moment is lost in the stream of our past. You can’t be in balance when you miss so many moments of your life. Life balance is about being in peace and harmony with your inner world and with the world around you. You need time to be able to enjoy this peace of mind and to be present in the present. I believe that it is great time to start your search for life balance through becoming a mindful person right now. Mindfulness is associated mostly with meditation but there are other ways how you can embrace mindfulness while performing your every day tasks. I started trying meditation only a couple of weeks ago and I must confess that I do not spend more than 10 minutes a couple of times a week doing it. However, I improve my mindfulness day after day without any effort. Here is how I do it (and you can too): 1. Just stop. The best thing that you can do to learn mindfulness is to stop and enjoy the moment. Look at children and how they view the world. When they play or walk they just stop when they see something exciting (like a caterpillar or a simple rock) and take Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com their time enjoying their little treasure. You can do the same every once in a while. It will be easier to start this practice somewhere in nature where you can observe the magnificence of the world and be grateful for living in this world. 2. Spend a lot of time in nature. Nature has different faces and I have already written about the importance of nature for life balance. Nature can calm your thoughts down and let you experience mindful awareness. 3. Mindful eating. Food is a source of energy for our body and spirit and if we want to learn mindfulness then we must start with mindful eating. Shoveling down tons of food without even thinking about what we are eating and how much we are eating is very common in our present society. The next time that you eat think about every bite and enjoy it. Taste the flavor of your food, smell it, feel it and be aware of how your body reacts to this food. How much does your body really need? Mindful eating will help you take care not only of your spirit but also of your body. 4. Breathe. You do not have to meditate in order to learn mindful breathing. Stop for a second and just pay attention to your breathing. Feel your lungs filling with air as you inhale and then feel how they contact as you exhale. Try breathing through your mouth and through your nose, try chest and abdominal breathing, make a few deep breaths and a few shallow breaths. There are so many ways how Page 88

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you can breathe and there are so many reasons why you should be thankful for this simple ability to breathe. A lot of times we forget how much we already have just by having this ability to breathe. 5. Pay attention to the most boring and ordinary tasks. We get caught up in our routines so much that we use autopilot when performing most everyday tasks like brushing teeth, taking vitamins or other pills in the morning, standing in line or taking a shower. I do not know about you but I had quite a few times in my life when I forgot whether I brushed my teeth in the morning or not, I forgot whether I took my pills or not and sometimes I even forget when I ask my husband a question (he laughs at me when I ask him the same question every 30 minutes ). The consequences of these mindless actions can be anything from bad breath to a serious car accident that is why mindfulness is an essential quality that we must develop in us. Learn to pay attention to each of the tasks that you are performing throughout the day. Register your feelings, your emotions and your experience. 6. Break your routines. It is difficult to be mindful when day after day you do the same thing. Break your everyday routines and you will notice that mindfulness will come effortless. Take a different route to work, exercise at a different time or change your morning routines (skip your everyday email check or newspaper, switch coffee for green tea). 7. Try walking gratitude medication. Just the other day I read a wonderful post by Miche from Serenity Hacker Regaining Inner Peace when You Are Busy: Walking Gratitude Medication. She explains in detail how you can practice mindfulness and gratitude while doing such easy tasks like walking, cycling or even scrubbing the floor (any monotonous activity that does not require mental exertion). While walking put your focus on your body’s movements and motion. Do not think about anything else but your breathing and your muscles. Every time that you notice your mind drifting away stop these wanderings and think about something you are thankful for. After you get into the mindful state take a few deep breaths and continue concentrating only on your body again. You can practice this meditation anytime and anywhere. 8. Try Mindful Meditation. Here is a good video of breath meditation to start with – Breath Meditation and Yoga (this is the meditation that I am working on right now.) Meditation is a great way to clear your mind and if you can find 10-15 minutes every day for it then your practice of mindfulness will enhance greatly. 9. Exercise mindfully. Before I have even tried meditation I have been doing Pilates and Yoga for a few years. Just a couple of years ago I’ve added running to my workouts. All of these types of exercise are a great way to practice mindfulness. You need to concentrate on your breath and on your body. You also need to be present in the moment if Page 89

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
you want to perform all movements correctly. You can use other types of exercise to practice mindfulness just make sure that you are aware of your body when you are working out. 10.Be mindful of what you say. Sometimes we lose the ability to be mindful when speaking and our words lose their real meaning. Your words are an expression of your thoughts and your inner world that is why make sure that they are as clean, precise and balanced as your inner world is. Think before you say anything because nothing can hurt more than mindless words. It is easy to learn to be mindful. All it takes is just a little bit of effort and desire but the benefits are tremendous.

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23.

How to Find Happiness and Serenity with the Help of Seashells (and without them)
If you sometimes have those days when everything seems to go from bad to worse, then this article is for you. The other day I had that type of day. I could not get any work done, the babies were misbehaving, my husband had a headache and was in a bad mood and on top of all that I had an argument with my mom and grandmother who live in Ukraine. If you do not see people you love for more than a year then you definitely do not want to argue with them. When it was time for the babies to go take their afternoon nap they went into hysterics and screamed and cried for about an hour, making sure that I had a steady and irritating headache. If you do not have little children then you probably do not realize how important these naps are. These are the 2 hours that let me and my husband recharge and feel that we have at least some control over our lives and we are not being completely manipulated by our little munchkins (whom we love to death of course ) Anyway, that was the type of day I was having and I was not happy (in spite of the constant practice of gratitude, mindfulness and other happiness-boosting techniques.) My husband got a phone call from our real estate agent and told me some of the best news I could hope for – we were closing on a house we’d been waiting for 6 months in a day. “WOW”, you would say, but my happy-o-meter was not registering any emotions. Mu hubby suggested that I go for

This is a post by Anastasiya Goers of Balance In Me. Please follow me @balanceinme and keep your life balanced.

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a walk on the beach and he would take care of the babies while I got a little bit of ME time. He also gave me an important task to collect as many beautiful seashells as possible (this is sort of our hobby right now while we are renting a condo on the beach.) It was really cold on the beach and there were no people at all. My only companions were seagulls who were wondering if I was crazy to go out on the beach in such nasty cold weather. I started walking without any particular purpose. Most of the time I go running on the beach when I have some free time from the babies because I try to maximize my productivity (get exercise, breathe fresh air, enjoy beautiful nature and at the same time come up with new ideas for posts.) This time it was just a walk without any time or distance limits. At first I could not see any beautiful seashells. They all seemed broken and completely unexciting. As I was walking I noticed that I have never seen a beach so beautiful. Try to picture it in your mind. The setting sun colored the entire beach in a million of shades of yellow, orange and red. The ocean was so calm that you could probably see your reflection in the water. The low tide revealed the most amazing ocean landscapes: puddles looked like lakes, sand dunes looked like mountains and flat and smooth sand spread out in all directions like an enormous desert. The beach was absolutely empty and there were no sounds other than the soft murmur of the waves rolling on the beach. Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com I was completely mesmerized with this picture and I started noticing the most amazing seashells. I found a few sea urchins and a star fish, Lettered Olives (my favorite seashells), Florida Augers, Van Hyning’s Cockle and even two perfect sand dollar skeletons. An hour passed like 5 minutes and I felt completely revived. It was some sort of a walking meditation for me. When you try to meditate you are often advised to concentrate on your breath and to clear your head. Instead of doing that I concentrated on finding the most amazing seashells and my mind became absolutely quiet without any effort on my part. This is how I found happiness and serenity with seashells. The most amazing part is that when I was coming back home I was passing the same part of the beach that looked barren when I started out. I found the most beautiful seashells there in such abundance that I must have been blind to not have noticed them before. Life revealed a secret to me that day: “The world around you is full only when you are full.” Life can give you all kinds of possibilities and miracles that you will not be able to notice because your eyes and your heart are closed. If you are not happy and the world around you seems grey and boring then most likely you are the one who is grey and boring (I definitely was that person that day). In order to find happiness and something amazing in this world you must prepare yourself first. Page 92

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My example with the seashells is just one of the ways how you can learn to see more in this world. If you have a bad day or you want to make the world around you fuller (by making yourself full first) then you can try this simple exercise: 1. Devote some time to yourself. Allow yourself to do something without any purpose or reason and preferably do it outside (I think that any of our problems can be cured with a sufficient dose of nature.) Some of these examples might be going for a walk without a destination, sitting under a tree in the park, bird watching, watching a fire, collecting seashells or anything else that you enjoy doing. 2. Concentrate on small things and start noticing the tiniest details around you. 3. Let your mind go absolutely blank and concentrate on your task (whether you are just observing something or looking for small treasures.) 4. Repeat this exercise as often as possible. I know that it sounds too simple but this is exactly what we need because we make our lives too complicated all the time. I wish you a happy and full life rich in amazing discoveries and revelations and as usual … Keep it balanced!

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24.

Stop Being Your Best and Enjoy Life
A lot of times, I hear the phrases “Be your best,” “Live your best life,” “Be the best in everything.” You can buy books and read tons of articles that will “teach” you to be your best (you can check out Optimal Thinking: How to be Your Best Self if you want to employ “the best” attitude). I think that these mottos create a generation of perfectionists who are highly unsatisfied with everything they have in life because they do not believe that they have reached “the best” status. What is the problem with being the best? Well, I can’t say that I am the best I can be. Sometimes I do not look the best, sometimes I do not feel the best, sometimes I do not make the best decisions, sometimes I am not the best mother or wife and sometimes I am not the best friend. Striving to be the best will make me a failure in my own eyes because I cannot live up to the expectations of the “best world.” Being the best means that you constantly have to climb to the top of a ladder that you have created for yourself. You cannot stop and appreciate the moment as well as you cannot let yourself go down a few steps. Every day you are hungry for new achievements and new proofs of your “bestness” (being the best in your professional field, earning more money, being the best

This is a post by Anastasiya Goers of Balance In Me. Please follow me @balanceinme and keep your life balanced.

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parent, being the best student, being the best in a competition, having the best house etc.). After you have achieved all of this you start pushing your own desire for being the best onto people around you (you want the best partner, the best kids, the best parents and the best friends). When they do not fulfill your expectations you feel like they’ve failed you and that they are not good enough to be around you. This leads to a deep feeling of depression, dissatisfaction with your life, permanent loss of happiness and a 100% imbalance. For peace of mind, we need to resign as general manager of the universe - Larry Eisenberg, actor Instead of being the best, I choose to be good in everything I do and this makes my life much more balanced and fulfilling. The motto that I try to follow is “Good is good enough.” I think that this motto can help anybody to live a good life where they can comfortably find their own ZEN. How do you incorporate the “Good Is Good Enough” principle? Here are just a few ideas that can get you started and I am sure that you can transform them to fit your life and desires: • • • • Set your own standards in life. Do not follow somebody’s else example or vision of life Do not compete with everybody around you Be in touch with yourself Be grateful for what you have (appreciate even the smallest things like a sunny day or a smile on your partner’s face) Look at the big picture. Do not fret about little things like dishes that have not been washed or grass that hasn’t been mowed in a while. What is more important: these details or your general well-being? Do not expect much from others, just be grateful for who they are and for the fact that they are in your life Write a list of expectations of the best you. Analyze this list and decide which of these expectations are really important and will make you happy Do not try to be the best self for somebody else (for your partner, your kids, your friends or colleagues) When the thoughts of “bestness” start chasing you, fight them with loving-kindness meditation

• •

What are your ideas about being the best? Do you think it is important to be the best, or would you rather be happy and balanced by using the “Good Is Good Enough” principle?

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25.

10 Ways to Feel Better in 60 Seconds Or Less
2. Do something you love. Reduce stress by doing something you love. Read an article, flip through a magazine, call a friend, book a massage. It doesn’t matter what it is just make sure it’s something you enjoy and not something you feel you have to do. 3. Eat a piece of fruit. There’s something about biting into an apple, peeling a banana or the scent of an orange that just makes you feel good. Fruit is refreshing, good for you and something we typically don’t get enough of. Next time you go shopping load up on “grab and go” fruits. Fruits like apples, bananas and grapes, that don’t require any prep work. Although fresh is better dried can be a great alternative when you’re looking for something a bit different. Dried apricots are one of my favorites. 4. Laugh. Find a video of your favorite comedian or sitcom or maybe it’s a picture of a friend or your kids that always makes you laugh. Laughing feels good, it gets you smiling and it allows you to not take things so seriously, if only for that moment. 5. Drink. Water that is. Water is vital to our well-being and is another thing we typically don’t get enough of. Drinking a tall glass of water helps you feel fuller longer, curbs your desire to eat when you’re not particularly hungry just bored and it’s great for your skin. Add a twist of lemon or lime to add a bit of natural flavor. Page 96

This is a post by Sherri of Serene Journey. Follow her @serenejourney to learn more simple tips how to enjoy life.

1. Sit up straight. Many people who spend a lot of time at the computer likely don’t sit properly. There’s a tendency to slouch, stoop and sit cross-legged. Is there a correct way to sit? You bet. Choose a comfy chair, preferably one with arm rests. Sit with your butt to the back of the seat, shoulders back and feet flat on the floor about hip distance apart. Maintaining good posture can help you avoid injury and promote proper bone alignment. When walking tall with good posture you both look and feel more confident, fit and pulled together.

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
6. Get outside. There is something about nature and the expanse of space that can rejuvenate the mind and body. Look around you and take it all in. The birds, the people, the blueness of the sky, the clouds floating along, the smell of the fresh air, the warmth of the sun on your cheeks. Take a minute to just stand outside where ever you are and just soak it all in. 7. Breathe. Deeply. Breathing can help you relax, focus and slow down. Breathing can help you put things in perspective release tension that builds up throughout the day. Take a minute and breathe deeply. Clear your mind and just breathe. 8. Give. It may seem counter intuitive but to feel better yourself, do something for someone else. It doesn’t have to be anything big, elaborate or a year in the planning it just has to be sincere. Ask your co-worker in the next cubical over if they would like a coffee, pay the toll for the person in the car behind you, hold the door for someone, give a hug, smile. 9. Beautify your surroundings. While you’re walking your dog, walking to your car, waiting for the bus or riding your bike take a moment and beautify where you are. Pick up a piece of garbage or 10 or 20, pull a weed or hammer in a nail. Every little bit helps but having the “I didn’t do it so I’m not picking it up” mind set doesn’t. Do your part and take pride in your neighborhood or work area. 10. Stretch. Sitting for too long can cause joint and muscle pain, headaches and other aches and pains. A few times throughout the day stand up stretch out your arms, your back, your legs, and your neck. Be gentle and don’t overdo it. Stretching should feel great and renew your energy. If you’d love to but can never remember set up a reminder in your calendar or set a timer for an hour. You’ll be glad you did.

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Spirituality

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26.

What is Natural Spirituality?

This is a post by Mary Jaksch of Good Life Zen. Follow her @Mary_Jaksch to get your daily dose of practical inspirations for a happier life. Let me ask you, are you a spiritual person? Or not? I think that everyone is a spiritual person. Because spirituality is a natural human attribute. It’s a gift that comes with being human. Spiritual traditions fail to acknowledge that we all have natural spirituality. As most of you know, I’m a Zen Master. Most spiritual traditions – Zen included – work from the premise that their way is the ‘right’ way. So when people join a particular tradition they are promised: “Do exactly what tradition says, and you will experience something special.” In other words, if you don’t follow the rules, you will never have that special experience! This attitude loses sight of something very important: Every human being has natural spirituality In fact, nobody can give you spirituality. No teacher and no tradition can do that. Why? Because we already have it! If we honor this human capacity, we can learn to live in a way that supports and strengthens our natural spirituality. The richness of spiritual traditions is then in service of the natural spirituality of human beings, and not the other way around! Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com Page 99

The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
that our natural spirituality regards the present moment as a doorway to wisdom. Some of us stumble upon the miracle of ‘now’ as children: When I was ten years old, my father took us on a trip to the Swiss Alps. On our way up my first major mountain, we stopped for a rest. It was a sweltering day and I sank down into the dappled shade of a stunted conifer. Beside me a little brook flowed through the meadow. I was mesmerized by the gurgles and splashes, and by the way leaves would come proudly riding down. Suddenly I felt peaceful and somehow large. I couldn’t feel where I stopped, and where the brook began. I had discovered the miracle of ‘now’. Learning to be present is the basis of all spirituality and personal growth. For example, you can’t learn to be kind without learning to be present. Why? Because when you’re distracted or preoccupied, you miss opportunities for helping others in need. Here is a simple way to find the present moment right now: take one slow breath and notice how the soles of your feet are in contact with the ground. Stay with the experience for a few more breaths and notice what happens. When you open your awareness to the present moment, your preoccupation with plans, dreams, and memories dies away – and spaciousness arises.

What is natural spirituality? There are three core experiences of natural spirituality. Here is the first one: #1 The present moment is a mysterious doorway. When we are completely present, without the mind dwelling in the past or the future, our experience changes in a significant way. You’re skeptical? Too much spiritual mumbo-jumbo? Ok, then let’s look outside the sphere of spirituality to discover how people experience this mysterious change. The Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discovered that athletes who are absorbed in present moment experience being ‘in the flow’. This is a state in which you feel relaxed, confident, ecstatic, focused, and have no sense of time passing. All actions seem effortless, with mind and body working in perfect unison. You can read more about this in my article Turbo Charge Your Performance: 7 Steps to Being in the Flow In martial arts being in the moment is sometimes described as having a ‘don’t know’ mind. ‘Don’t know’ means keeping an open mind and responding according to circumstances, not according to how we assume things will be. A ‘don’t know’ mind sets us free from the constraints of expectations. The experience of being ‘in the flow’, as well as the ‘don’t know’ mind, are both expressions of the fact Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com

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The second core experience of natural spirituality flows from being in the moment. It’s an experience of being without limits. #2 The self is vast You may want to say, “What do you mean by ‘the self is vast’ Isn’t that just spiritual claptrap?” You’re right in a way, because our ordinary life doesn’t support this experience. A ‘vast self’ means that it is without boundaries; without inside or outside. But in our everyday life, the boundary between ‘self’ and ‘other’ seems quite distinct. And in many instances, that’s important for survival. After all, when you cross the road, you want to know exactly where you are located in space, and where the car is that’s speeding towards you! We experience ourselves as individual, separate beings: “I’m in here; and you are out there”. We struggle and strive to make a better life. And we suffer: loved ones leave us; we have health problems; we struggle to find meaningful work; we strive to fulfill our dreams; we age; we worry about family and friends; we feel incomplete and unworthy. That’s suffering. Natural spirituality shows a different way of living life. We can relax into a larger realization of who we are. That’s when we are not limited and inhibited by our ordinary notions of self. Actually, all of us have glimpses of this way. But we may not always recognize them. In these moments we suddenly become present to what is happening right now. Instead of sleepwalking through life, we suddenly wake up. Then we can get a glimpse of the vastness that we are. Rummage in your store of memories, and you may find moments that offered spaciousness and ease. Maybe they were moments in nature, or moments of intense focused activity, or moments of stillness. Whatever the moments were, you may have noticed that the struggle of life suddenly ceased for a while. When we become present, there is spaciousness and ease instead of suffering. Not only is there ease and spaciousness, but there is also a sense of mystery. We become unknowing and unknowable. When we get a deeper recognition of who we are, we find a new sense of capacity, a lasting sense of ease, and an awakening of love and kindness. Just imagine how your life would be, if you could let go of the struggle, and embraced ease and kindness instead! Each of us has the capacity to transform our life in that way. All we need to do is to nourish our natural spirituality. The nourishment can come from simple changes to our everyday life, as well as from traditional practices, such as meditation. Beside the experience that the self is vast, there is a second core experience of natural spirituality: Page 101

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
#3 We are interconnected All of us experience moments when we feel deeply connected. It’s as if the barrier between self and other suddenly melts away. I’m thinking of simple moments. For example, today I was driving along a congested road, bumper to bumper. I could see cars banked up in a side road, waiting to join the flow. Suddenly I caught sight of a woman peering out anxiously over her steering wheel. I waved her into the queue. Her face lit up and we smiled at each other. It was a fleeting moment, but I could feel the warmth of kinship throughout the day. Can you remember moments when you experienced a sense of kinship? Maybe kinship with other human beings, or kinship with other beings, or with the whole wide world? Maybe there were moments when you embrace your loved one and the idea being separate melted away. Maybe there were moments of kindness when you felt an intense connection to another being, even though you might not have known them well. Maybe there were moments in nature when you forgot to observe, and instead you became the valleys and mountains, or the raindrops on a rosebud, or a blade of grass. When I was a child I used to sneak into the farmer’s wheat field when the crop was ripening. I would lie down on the ground, spread-eagled on my back. The wheat ears nodded in the wind and the clouds scudded across the sky. Sometimes I would lose myself and know that I was part of a larger, mysterious reality. It didn’t last long, though. Suddenly I would hear the farmer bellow, “Get out of my field, you little monkey!” and I would scamper away to escape his threatening stick. We can enhance our natural capacity for connection through learning to be present, through learning to listen deeply, through having a conscious relationship with ourselves and others, and through practicing love and kindness. Our sense of interconnection is part of natural spirituality. In the meantime, let me ask you a question: What is your experience of natural spirituality?

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27.

How to Meditate: 10 Important Tips

This is a post by Mary Jaksch of Good Life Zen. Follow her @Mary_Jaksch to get your daily dose of practical inspirations for a happier life. Why meditate? On one level, meditation is a tool. It can help combat stress, fosters physical health, helps with chronic pain, can make you sleep better, feel happier, be more peaceful, as well as be present. But on a deeper level, meditation is a doorway into the unknown. It can help us get a sense of the mystery of who we are. When you start meditating, you will notice how unruly the mind is. I remember being quite shocked by this! I noticed that my mind was all over the place. Profound thoughts about my past or future jostled with mundane thought clips about what groceries I needed to buy. Some time afterwards I would come too and notice that I had spend 15 minutes running a painful memory over and over. It was like sitting in a crazy cinema! So, if you’re starting out with meditation, please don’t beat yourself up about your wild mind. It is a natural condition. In time you will learn to work kindly with the barrage of thoughts and you will some clarity and peacefulness. Here are some simple tips on how to start meditating. Maybe those of you who already practice meditation could please add your comments of what has worked for you.

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helpful. It’s too sharp and edgy. To focus in meditation means to pay soft attention to whatever you place in the centre of awareness. I suggest using the breath as a focus. It’s like a natural door that connects ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. Zen Master Toni Packer says:. Attention comes from nowhere. It has no cause. It belongs to no one 3. The breath Paying attention to the breath is a great way to anchor yourself in the present moment. Notice your breath streaming in and out. There’s no need to regulate the breath – just let it be natural.. 4. Counting you breath. If you are having difficulties settling, you can try counting the breath – which is an ancient meditation practice. On your outbreath, silently count “one”, then “two”, and up to “four”. Then return to “one”. Whenever you notice your thoughts have strayed far away or you find yourself counting “thirtythree”, simply return to “one”. In this way, “one” is like coming home to the present moment. It’s good to return without a backward glance. 5. Thoughts. When you notice thoughts, gently let them go by returning your focus to the breath. Don’t try and stop thoughts; this will just make you feel agitated. Imagine that they are unwelcome visitors at your door: Acknowledge their Page 104

1. Posture Whether you sit on a chair or cross-legged on the floor, make sure that your spine is upright with head up. If you are slumped your mind will drift. Mind and body are intertwined. If your body is well-balanced, your mind will also be in balance. To straighten up, imagine that your head is touching the sky. 2. Eyes Try and keep your eyes open. Open eyes allow you to be more present. Just lower your eyes and let your gaze be sort. If you close your eyes you will be more likely to drift away on thoughts and stories. However, it’s important to do what is comfortable for you. Some people find closing their eyes much more effective. It’s good to experiment and see what feels best for you. 2. Focus In ordinary consciousness we are hardly ever present. For example, sometimes we drive the car on autopilot while being preoccupied with thoughts. Suddenly we arrive at our destination and don’t remember anything about the drive! So, meditation is a wonderful way of waking up to our life. Otherwise we miss most of our experiences because we are somewhere else in our mind! Let’s take a look at what focus is. In ordinary life, we tend to equate focus with concentration. That’s like using the mind like a concentrated beam of light. But in meditation, that kind of mind isn’t Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com

The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
presence and politely ask them to leave. Then shine the soft light of your attention on your breath. 6. Emotions It’s difficult to settle into meditation if you are struggling with strong emotions. This is because some emotions tend to breed stories in the mind. Especially anger, shame and fear create stories that repeat over and over in the mind. Anger and shame make us keep looking at past events of the past. Fear looks at the future with stories that start with, “What if…” The way to deal with strong emotions in meditation is to focus on the body feelings that accompany the emotion. For example, this could be the tight band of fear around the chest or the hot roiling of anger in the belly. Let go of the stories and refocus on your body. In this way you are honoring your emotions but not becoming entangled in stories. 7. Silence Silence is healing. I know that there are is a lot of ‘meditation music’ around, but nothing beats simple silence. Otherwise the music or sounds on the tape just drown out the chatter in your mind. When we sit in silence we actually get to experience what our mind is doing. There is steadiness and calmness that comes from sitting in silence. In time outer and inner silence meet and you come to rest in the moment. 8. Length Start with 10 minutes and only sit longer if you feel that that is too short. Don’t force yourself to meditate longer if you are not ready to do that. In time you might like to extend your meditation to 25 minutes. That’s a length that allows you to settle your mind without causing too much stress on your body. Most importantly, shrug off any ‘shoulds’. Some people enjoy sitting for an hour at a time. Others find that they can’t sit longer than 10 minutes. Do what feels right for you! 9. Place It’s lovely to create a special place to sit. You can even make a shrine or an altar that you can face when you sit in meditation. You might like to place a candle on your altar and objects that have meaning to you. It’s lovely to find objects for your altar as you walk. Maybe you find stones, or seashells, or flowers that speak to you. 10. Enjoyment Most of all it’s important to enjoy meditation. You might like to try sitting with a hint of a smile. Be kind to yourself. Start sitting just a little each day. It’s helpful to establish a daily habit.

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Regain Inner Peace When You’re Busy: Walking Gratitude Meditation

This is a post by Miche of Serenity Hacker. Follow her @SerenityHacker to get her tips about serene and peaceful living. How good are you at keeping your focus and sense of inner peace when you’re busy? Do you stay clear; maintain your center and ability to concentrate, even when there’s a lot you need to get done? What about when time or a lack of it adds to the pressure? During busy times many of us adopt a frenzied, scattered pace. But a scattered mind cannot be present, and does not lend itself to peace, efficiency, or focus. Wouldn’t it be better to deal with busy-ness from a place of inner calm? When you’re calm and centered you don’t feel so busy, even if you are. • • • Being present increases inner peace. Inner peace keeps us calm and clear. With clarity, focus becomes more effortless.

That may sound simple but it’s true. The problem is we’ve been encultured to believe that we need to get everything done and finished first in order to experience inner peace and renew our sense clarity. But this is really not the case. From that mindset, everything takes more effort. Remembering becomes a chore. Focus takes enormous mental exertion. Peace and calm are put off as luxuries while we battle on relying solely on will to get things done. We’re less effective and efficient at our tasks, we have too Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com Page 106

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many thoughts competing for attention and our minds get ahead of our bodies. Because of this, we are disconnected, off-center, and scattered. Our minds and bodies are not in sync. Here are two short examples most of us can relate to: You wake up in the morning on a work day, still in bed, and start thinking about taking a shower. While your body is in the shower your mind is thinking about your work day and all the other things you need to remember. While your body is getting ready after the shower your mind is thinking about your commute to work… When your body is on the way home your mind is rehashing your day at work but also is imagining doing the things you need to do once your body gets home. You decide to get up from your bed upstairs and go downstairs and get a drink of water. As soon as your body gets up until the time it pours the drink your mind is thinking about getting, pouring, and drinking the water, even though your body is putting on slippers, walking down the stairs and through various rooms toward the kitchen. In both scenarios you are not present. In each case, there was an opportunity to connect to the present moment and inner peace rather than letting your mind get ahead of your body, or stay behind your body. It is in simple instances like these that you can begin to cultivate a mindfulness practice, even if you’ve never done it before. It just requires keeping your mind and your body together, in the Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com same moment. Your body is always in the present moment, even if your mind and awareness are not. The good news is that there are simple techniques that don’t take much time or skill which will help you regain your center and inner calm, even in the midst of a busy day. When you take a few minutes to practice these throughout your day, you can then operate from a much calmer, clearer place. You check in with the present moment, empty your runaway thoughts, and are able to focus and remember more easily. Getting things done takes less mental exertion, and not only do you become more peaceful, but more efficient as well. Plus, you’re a whole lot more relaxed, and that just plain feels good! One way I like to regain my center when the hustle and bustle has me running is by practicing what I call Walking Gratitude Meditation. Much like any other walking meditation, it can be practiced for any length of time, including short times throughout the day. No real meditation “skill” is required to start doing this, and, it doesn’t take much work or “extra time”, something that often keeps many people from beginning a mindfulness practice. The 4 Steps to Practicing Walking Gratitude Meditation Ideally, this practice is best done while in motion doing things that don’t take a lot of mental exertion. You don’t need to be walking per se, (you could be scrubbing the floor, carrying laundry down the stairs, or in the shower). Page 107

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You just need to be doing something that requires motion. For the sake of this example, I’ll use walking: 1. Put your focus on your body’s movements and motion. The point of this type of focus is to bring your awareness inside your body in order to become centered. Put your awareness on every step, every time each foot moves forward and then touches the ground. Feel your leg muscles, joints, and all the parts of your body required to walk. Experience every sensation your body feels. If you have trouble with this, breathe deeply first and focus on deep breaths, long breaths in and long breaths out, to bring your awareness into your body (try putting your attention on the movement and sensation of the air moving as you breath it). This is simple enough to do even in a parking lot, as you’re walking from your car to a store. Don’t let your mind get to the store before you do. Be in your body while you walk. (Also, this is very easy to also do in the shower, though you’d be focusing on other movements and sensations.) 2. Notice the mind’s wanderings. The point here isn’t to beat yourself up about the fact that your mind wanders, it’s rather just to notice when it does. The mind will wander to things outside of yourself, judgements and ideas about what your eyes are taking in. Or, it may wander down imaginary paths of possible futures, or conversely travel back and rehash events that have passed. Some of the mind’s wanderings may be distractive in Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com nature and some may just feel plain lousy. Many may be useless and of no value. Just notice that your mind and your awareness has wandered outside of your body, outside of the walking meditation. 3. Interrupt the wanderings by cultivating gratitude. This step first serves to interrupt the wanderings of the mind. We need to interrupt the mind’s wanderings and give it something else to focus on because its wanderings have become habitual. This step then serves to cultivate thoughts that will bring you more contentment, joy, and peace. This will allow you to more easily regain your center and come back to the present moment. See if you can mentally express gratitude about something relevant to the physical moment you’re in. This can be done no matter what you are doing. You can be thankful about your ability to walk, to breathe, to be alive. The blue of the sky, the sun on your face, the eyes with which you see. Or, if you’re walking to your job, there’s probably something to be grateful about in that. Even if you’re walking down the stairs to do your laundry, there are many things you can come up that are worth cultivating gratitude for. While in the shower, why not be grateful for the running water? After practicing this, you will more easily notice when your mind wanders and it will be easier to bring your awareness back. 4. Take a few deep breaths, inhale long, exhale long, and then repeat Step 1. Page 108

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After the expression of gratitude, take a few long, deep, conscious breaths in and out. Put your focus on the breath, on breathing in air long and slowly and breathing out air long and slowly. Then come back to your body awareness (see Step 1). Try to do this as many times a day as possible, and see what happens. Are you more clear throughout your day? Calm, and at peace? Are focus and concentration coming easier to you? Are you less forgetful and frenzied? I can tell you this works amazingly well for me. The more you can do it the better, and longer periods or walks outside work well, too. But don’t be intimidated by feeling you need lots of time, or special situations. Like I mentioned, you can do this anywhere, during any part of your day. You’ll probably be quite surprised by what you discover. When you stop going in too many directions and just be where you are, when you are… things really become a whole lot simpler. The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

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29.

Knowing
part of my journey as I am sure they are part of the journey for many people. We are very intelligent beings and it is no surprise that we ask questions about beliefs which we have no empirical data to support. It is of no surprise that in today’s world that we ask for proof, hard facts that would remove all doubt about the extent of our journey and our purpose. In fact it is good that we are mindful and that we ask these types of questions. Asking questions about this part of our journey is an essential element of our human experience. For many years I believed that we feared what we do not know and we feared the fragility of who we are. Along my journey I have learned that this was not correct, we don’t fear what we don’t know and we don’t fear how fragile we are. NO, we fear what we really know deep inside, we fear how powerful and magnificent we truly are and we fear that acknowledging who we really are will be too much for us to handle. We fear what we view as the challenge of our own truth! The irony of our fear is that when we push through our fears, when we step outside our fear and truly come home to know who we are we find that we are eternal energy and that we are eternal Love and that this human experience is part of an eternal journey that we are a part of.

This is a post by Mark Brown of The Naked Soul.

I have recently been asked by a few people “How can you be so certain that when we die that this is not the end of our journey?” Let me first say that along my journey I have been at points where I believed this was “it” and that there was nothing after we died. At one time I believed dead was dead and that the idea of life after this life or of God or higher source was a human belief concocted to placate the weak minded, to help to alleviate the fear of the finality of death for some and for others to create fear of how one should live their life in order to apply control and to prevent total anarchy. Yes, these thoughts and beliefs have been Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com

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When someone asks me how do you know what you believe is true, I simply have to say “I know”, I also have say that my truths shift as I grow, therefore what I know today may change in the future, for my knowing will change as I grow and as I remember. I cannot offer any real proof of what I know. Sure, I could point to many sources that would tell one about personal experiences of other people, near death experiences, encounters with those who have passed on, people who have traveled the astral plane, people who have meditated and reached a knowing, however none of these sources will provide the proof that many seek. “Knowing” is a very personal experience. Each of us will have our “knowings” at different points along our journey. I am reminded of a line from the movie “City of Angels” where the angel tells the doctor that the patient that died in her hands that day lives on, the doctor responds “I don’t believe in that” and the angel says “Some things are true weather you believe in them or not”. For me this is a great line because this is true, something’s are true regardless of what we choose to believe. For those who question why I believe what I believe in regards to this journey all I can say it that I believe what I have remembered which is found within me. I don’t claim to have the answers for anyone besides myself. What you choose to believe will be based on where you are in your journey and how deep you are willing to dive within yourself to remember who you truly are. It is important to note that most people barely scratch the surface of their authentic self and these people tend to live an ego driven life fueled by the egos of others and supported by fear rather than love. It is upon each of us to dive deep and to remember the love that we are and to have a knowing of our purpose and that knowing that this is but one leg, one experience of an eternal journey, an indescribable adventure that each of us our on!

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30.

How to Begin Your Prayer

This is a post by Fr. Michael of Live Holiness. Follow him @frmichaelnajim It is a Christian post, so you can choose for yourself whether you will benefit from it or not. families with a large school to boot. It was a wonderful place for a new priest. One of the great blessings was ministering to the many youth in the parish. I remember one email exchange I had with a high school student who was very involved in our youth group. She took her faith seriously and she wanted to grow in her relationship with the Lord. Her email to me was simple: I want to spend more time in prayer and deepen my relationship with God, but I’m not quite sure how to pray. Can you give me advice? Maybe you find yourself in the same position as that girl— now a wonderful young woman whose wedding I’ll be doing in May. You want to grow in your relationship with the Lord, but you’re not sure how to enter into deeper prayer. When you go to pray your mind is filled with distractions. So you sit there and fidget. Your questions may be similar to hers: How can I have an intimate relationship with God? How should I pray? What should I say? “For me prayer is a surge of the heart, it is a simple look towards Heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy” – St. Therese of Lisieux My first assignment was at St. Philip’s parish in Greenville, RI. St. Philip’s is a vibrant parish comprised of about 3000 Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com I’d like to suggest how you should begin your prayer, for the way you begin your prayer sets the tone for how the rest of your prayer will unfold. The one mistake that many of us make when we pray is that we begin by focusing on ourselves: my intentions, my needs, my feelings. If we Page 112

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really want to enter into a deeper friendship with the Lord then we must begin by focusing on Him. The starting point of prayer is becoming deeply aware of God’s personal love, plain and simple. So here’s a good way to begin your prayer:
• • • •

As I begin this time of prayer, help me to know how much You love me. I know that Your heart and Your arms are open, ready to embrace me. You don’t look at my sins and failings. You don’t look upon me in judgment. You look upon me with love: infinite, unconditional love. You want me to be very close to You. Lord, sometimes it’s hard for me to admit, but You really do love me. In fact, the more deeply I become aware of Your love for me, the more I see that I am truly lovable. You desire to be in an intimate friendship with me. How amazing! Please let this time of prayer simply be a time of letting myself be loved by You. That’s the deepest desire of my heart, Lord, just to know Your personal love for me. Nothing else matters at this moment. Clear my mind and heart of all distractions and fill my heart with Your love. Thank you so much for loving me Lord. My past is gone; my future is not here. We simply have this moment together, and so I give myself entirely to You in this moment. I sit in silence Lord. Now I will just let myself be loved by You, and I will listen to You speak to my heart. Once you have begun your prayer in this way, it’s a matter of sitting with the Lord and letting Him love you. So now go do it. He’s waiting for you!

Find a quiet place where you won’t be distracted Sit in a relaxed posture (although not so relaxed that you’ll fall asleep) and close your eyes Take a few deep breaths and then breath normally Let these first moments be focused on becoming aware of God’s loving presence, nothing else: picture the loving eyes of Jesus gazing upon you. Take as long as you need to become of aware of His loving presence. Once you are aware of God’s loving presence, speak to Him about His love. Here’s what I was moved to write. Feel free to use it for your own prayer, but eventually you should speak to the Lord in your own words:

Lord, I know that You are here with me. I know that You have called me here. I wouldn’t even have the desire to pray if You didn’t put it on my heart. You have drawn me to this sacred moment because you desire that I be close to You. You have spoken to my heart, and now I come to listen.

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Balanced Lifestyle

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31.

Start Your Day in 33 Different Ways

This is a post by Dragos Roua of Brilliantly Better. Follow him @dragosroua or on Facebook to make your life brilliantly better. Consciously inserting your intentions in these very first moments will have a huge effect. Taking charge of those moments it’s like activating some subtle, unconscious triggers which will ultimately determine your whole daily experience, exactly the way you want. Mornings are fundamental. This is why I experimented a lot with my very first moments of the day. Here are at least 33 ways in which you can transform your days by only spending 5 minutes every morning. 1. Write in Your Journal I love the morning stillness and the unspoken promise of something ready to start. Mornings are fantastic for journaling. Whenever I do it, I feel like I already consumed several hours from that day and yet I’m only at the very beginning of it. Journaling acts like a mind emptier and out of nowhere I feel energized and ready to go. Not to mention that in the morning I have less inhibitors and my journaling is far more authentic. 2. Enjoy the Morning Silence And do nothing. Just feel the silence and let it spread over your mind and body. I’m fascinated by all the little noises that are born from that morning silence: from my familiar house noises (wife and daughter waking up, steps, Page 115

Mornings are underrated. I consider them fundamental for the whole diurnal experience. What you do in the very first moments of your morning will fundamentally and inexorably shape your entire day. Most of the time you spend your mornings by routinely performing some habits, on auto pilot. Hence, your days will routinely unfold towards you, the same way day after day, on auto pilot.

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
windows, doors) up to the neighborhood noises (car engines, low voices, small buzz). Everything starts in that silence and sometimes I think that if I focus enough on it I could actually predict, or even create all those little noises. 3. Be Grateful for Something 5 Minutes Point your mind to something you’re really grateful for and stay there. Might be your family, your wealth, your health or just your present moment. Feel grateful for it. There’s nobody between you and that thing, there’s nobody watching or listening. You’re free to feel grateful and happy. And then start your day as usual. It’s only 5 minutes, yet the impact of such a day starter is overwhelming: whenever I’m doing it I feel like walking 2 centimeters above the road for the entire day. 4. Open Windows Regardless of the current season. If it’s cold outside, even better. Open your bedroom windows, your living room windows, your kitchen windows. Let the fresh air inside, welcome the small buzz of the city waking up, silently watch the last forces of the night walking away. Let yourself be refreshed. The yesterday you is no longer there and the today you is slowly getting in shape. Those open windows will unconsciously allow you to receive change and novelty with much more ease during the day. 5. Throw Away a Useless Object You’re going to spot it pretty easily if you put your mind to it. It often happens to me to stumble upon unneeded stuff in my house during the early morning. If it’s a chair staying in my way, maybe its place is not in my house. Maybe it’s a piece of paper or a wrecked device. I find joy and a subtle enthusiasm in throwing away things that are only cluttering my space, and doing it first thing in the morning makes it even more powerful. 6. Help Somebody Write an answer to an old question, do part of a small chore, move an object out of somebody’s way. No need to be huge or visible. Just keep in mind the intention of being helpful immediately to somebody else. During the morning your mind is far more clear and you have access to more energy than usual. Hence, your helping activities will be much more effective if you decide to do them as the first thing after you wake up. 7. Meditate For 5 Minutes Empty your mind and isolate from your environment. Focus on your breathe. If there are thoughts coming in your way, acknowledge their presence and then kindly ask them to go away. Meditating in the morning is easier, there are fewer perturbing factors. Even after a good sleep, your mind is still trying to find answers, to solve problems, to fight or resist. Do yourself a simple, yet solid service and pack your morning time with an extra meditation on top. 8. Think How To Help Somebody During The Day Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com Page 116

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This is different from number 6 in terms of the actual time of the helping act. Now you’re planing how to help somebody during the day, you’re visualizing the context and try to find a specific time in your schedule for this helping act. Again, doesn’t have to be huge, a piece of advice, facilitating something or a small gift. The mere act of planning how to help somebody will change the course of your entire day. 9. Exercise Like in getting physical. I’m not doing this every single day, but I’m doing it often enough. A part from your brain there’s a body, too. A collection of joints, muscles and bones. And in order to be balanced you have to take care of those too. The good news is that your body has a feedback mechanism for the good things you do to it: it’s called “endorphins”. Every time you start your day with a decent workout, you’ll be blessed with a decent rush of endorphins. Usually, it lasts until evening. 10. Spend 5 Minutes in The Garden Alternatively, spend some times near your flowers. Or your terrace. Just be outside in the first minutes of the day, trying to breathe the fresh air and feel the vibe of the green life. Clear you mind and open your senses. Let your awaken body to synchronize with this frequency and don’t start the day until you completely immersed in this flow for at least 5 minutes. I seldom run into a fight or even got closer to some aggressive scene when I start my day like this. Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com 11. Forgive Somebody Let go. Forgive and forget. Morning are very good for that because you have so little inference from the outside world, only your own mind and personal history. Does it really matter that much? Feeling that grudge and anger towards somebody who hurt you? Yes, he hurt you, but it really matter that much? Forgiving somebody as the first thing in the morning makes me want to conquer the world the very next minutes. And it works really well with forgiving yourself too. 12. Think for 5 Minutes at Someone You Love Again, that person may be your family, someone you loved at some point in your life or someone who just appeared. Keep that person in mind, imagine having a conversation or doing something together. Create an internal representation of a desired bond. Not only it will actually attract that person towards you (somehow) during the day, but what you think in those moments will add up to the relationship in a very mysterious way. It’s like what you think it’s already happening. 13. Read a Poem Poetry, or any form of art, talks to your irrational mind. Usually, your morning is cluttered with rational thoughts and activities: get up and ready for the job, prepare the kids, get the morning tasks solved. Talking to your irrational mind will break this circuit, but it will do it creatively. For instance, my favorite morning poem is “If”, Page 117

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by Rudyard Kipling. Every time I read it, even if the day is packed with difficult tasks, somehow, I find the energy and right attitude to get over them. Totally irrational. 14. Make Coffee or Tea for Your Partner I like this whole beverage ritual in the morning, I think it has something to do with deeply buried recollections of religious rituals we humans, as a species, performed during the history. There’s something sacramental about preparing the water, making fire, putting the right amount of tea or coffee. It’s like asking gods for benevolence. Only this time is not about gods, it’s about your partner. Paving your road through today with your partner blessing. 15. Write a Thank You Letter You don’t have to send it, just write it. When I first experienced this I had a little bit of a shock. I realized I don’t know how to do it. And for whom. That was a sad shock. Not having somebody to say “thank you” in your life can bring in quite a sorrow. So, be sure to start at least one of your mornings with a “thank you” letter. Bring to the light people or events you are thankful for. If you say “thank you” to something first thing in the morning, you’re inviting those specific type of events into your life. 16. Take a Day Off From Your Job And use the rest of the day for yourself. Even if you’re self employed, or especially if you’re self employed, take a day off. And start it clean, from the early morning. Those free Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com days are somehow bigger when I decide to have them unexpectedly. If I start my morning with the clear decision to take the day off, something very strange will happen: my businesses will run smoother without me. My blog traffic will spike. It’s like too much work means getting in the way of your own success. 17. Do Some Crafting For 5 Minutes If you’re a man, fix something, replace a light bulb or use your screwdriver to harden some piece of furniture. If you’re a woman, modify some clothes. (Later update: You can do it the other way around, if you really think this is a sexist approach – read the related comments below. And please, get over it it’s just a simple example, I never thought, nor do I will, that because you’re a woman or a man you should do ONLY a certain type of things. Are we cool now?) Just do something with your hands, without any preparation, in the morning silence. In a very surprising way, this morning crafting will unfold some new opportunities. You can find a solution to an old problem or you will solve something for somebody else. It’s like this morning crafting will actually make you craft the rest of your entire day. 18. Learn a New Word in a Foreign Language Just one word. Every morning, for several weeks. I used to learn some hiragana and katakana only in the morning (and that proved really interesting during my first trip to Japan). It forces your brain to find parallel ways to solve problems and your body to stay focused on a small problem from the Page 118

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very beginning of the day. Again, in a very strange way, learning a new foreign word each morning makes me dream about foreign lands. Which is quite a way to start your day. 19. Imagine Your Morning in a New Country How your morning will be in New Zealand? Or in Thailand? Or in Austria? If you’ve ever been there, try to remember the smells, the air, the noises. Waking up in a different country every morning might be a fantastic experience (I might do this one day, by the way). If you’ve never been there, just try to imagine your morning there. After spending 5 minutes in a distant country, getting back to your actual day will feel like coming home from a long trip. Which is, partially, true. 20. Go for A Short Walk Like the first thing in the morning, before even having breakfast. Breathe the air, look at the neighborhood. Watch the morning light and hear the noises. Move around. When you got home, your day will be different. This short walk often acts like setting up the scene for something I want to happen. Walking around alone, before igniting the day, makes me feel like a director inspecting the stage. Everything looks cool, let’s make a great film today. 21. Write a Powerful Goal Mornings are very good for writing goals. I especially like that time of the day for writing goals because I have very few interference from the outside world. Which makes me Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com much more authentic. I value more the goals written in the morning because I am less influenced. I know for sure that during the morning I don’t have to prove anything to anyone, I’m just me and what I want. Some of my best health decisions are picked up during the morning. 22. Clean Your Desk Again, this must be done before having breakfast, or before any other domestic task (and this also assumes you work from home, at some point). Put things in order, wipe the dust, prepare your working setup. And then start the day as usual. After having breakfast, interacting with your family or just finishing your morning routine, come back to your office. A shiny, fresh and neat vibration will welcome you. A short sign of appreciation from yourself. 23. Sing a Song I do this all the time in the shower. And I highly recommend it. Despite what your neighbors may say (or even some of your early riser family members). Singing a song goes hand in hand with reading a poem. Doesn’t matter if you know how to sing. just go ahead and knock some “Let It Be” as loud as you can (“Let It Be” is my favorite shower song, by the way). If you hear me humming some tunes in my beard that’s a good sign I started with a loud song in the shower. 24. Read and Evaluate your Morning Phrase

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Do you have a morning phrase? Craft one, it’s easy. Starting a day with a morning phrase it’s like a mental programming exercise for maximizing your potential. It may take even less than 5 minutes and it’s a powerful tool for energy channeling. The trick is to keep it for at least several weeks. But the advantage is that this exercise is very powerful. Wanna setup a millionaire mindset? Or just planning or quitting smoking? Put it in a morning phrase and use it. 25. Delete Some Email Or some old, unneeded files. That’s the mirror in the virtual world of number 5. Remove the clutter. Get rid of old messages, logs or files. Be in the flow. They say you have to let go the current you in order to become who you really want. I used to be a packer. Making folders and packing and storing everything in my computer. Now I start my mornings every now and then with a refreshing session of file deletion. Making room for what the day may bring in. 26. Watch the Sunrise Easiest of all and yet so underrated. There’s so much power and simplicity in watching the sunrise, connecting to the light and actually feeling how the Sun will start another day. And you’re there witnessing this cosmic process. Every time I watch the sunrise, being it at my home or in a foreign country, I have a subtle feeling of responsibility. This huge cosmic mechanism is turning around me as my playground: what am I going to do in it today? Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com 27. Read Your Yesterday Journal If you keep a journal, of course. Look at yesterday from the very first moment of your new day. What do you love about yesterday? What do you don’t like about it? Now you have the chance to change those things. Reading your journal first thing in the morning is a surprising experience. Seeing what you wrote without any noise and with a clear mind will reveal things that you didn’t noticed. Maybe because you didn’t like them? 28. Do a Short Yoga Session You don’t have to be an expert yogi to start your day with a mild yoga session. I often find myself lighter and more flexible when starting the day with a short suite of Surya Namaskara, or Sun Salutation. It stretches your body and calm your mind. I once did this for more than 6 months, every single morning. It was perhaps the most calm and balanced period of my life. And besides calm and balance, what else do you need when you start your day? 29. Visualize 3 Moments from Yesterday Keep your eyes closed and try to remember 3 moments from yesterday. It’s not reading about them in your journal, it’s trying to visualize them in your mind. First of all, the very selection of those 3 moments will tell you something about your current state. Are those moments embarrassing or happy? Second, keeping them live in your head will help you find a solution or a sequel to them. It will help you keep yesterday linked to today. Some people call this flow. Page 120

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30. Visualize 3 Moments from Today Can be practiced in tandem with the one above, or separately. Visualizing 3 moments from today means actually create those 3 moments. See yourself performing those actions, attending those meetings, saying those words or writing those sentences. It’s early in the morning and nobody is pressuring. You have the freedom to see yourself exactly as you want to be. In my experience, almost any of these “predicted” moments are actually happening during the day. 31. Take a Picture Of Yourself I started this as a technical challenge a few years ago (trying to automate my Mac PhotoBooth) and proved to be enlightening. Not the actual process of taking a photo of myself each morning, but seeing those photos in a fast moving sequence months after. You can’t fool the camera in the morning. All your problems, joys, frustrations or thrills are so transparent in a photo taken in the first moment of the day. It’s like a message you send to your future self without even knowing the message. 32. Identify One Task to Be Canceled It must be one. Out of your entire to do list for today there must be one task which can be canceled. Sometimes I wake up with the only thought of identifying my canceled task for the day. I usually chose this approach after a very intense and tiring yesterday. It give me a sense of freedom and flexibility. And most of the time the freed time will make room for something interesting, or at least surprising. It’s like opening your door to the unexpected. 33. Chose a Theme Of The Day This works in tandem with your personal mission (if you don’t have a personal mission maybe it’s time to find one). Find one red stripe which will go through your entire day. Like making this day “the productivity day”. Or “the observation day”. Or “the money day”. This will be the dominant vibe of your entire day. By setting course in the very first moments of the morning you will maximize your chances to actually create your day on that exact theme.

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32.

7 Great Ways to End the Day
All too often we hear about ways to start the day, with habits and routines we should implement in order to have a good day. What is often missed out on is finishing the day which is a hugely important time to wind down and set yourself up for a good night’s sleep and the day that will carry along from that. 1. Have a hot bath or shower The best thing about a hot bath or shower is that it will relax your tensed muscles. No matter what kind of day I have had I will always try to have a hot shower about 30 minutes before sleeping. It helps calm my mind, plus soothe my head and shoulder muscles. You will also find it easier to nod off if you are warm. 2. Make a warm glass of milk Sometimes before bed we can get a slight hunger pang, not enough to warrant a meal or snack even but rather to nod us off to sleep. Try lightly heating a small cup of milk, stir in some cinnamon and raw honey and sip on it before going to bed. The milk will help calm the stomach and give a sedative effect, so don’t be surprised if you start yawning soon after. 3. Read something relaxing and inspiring Firstly and most importantly make sure it is something that interests you. This normally comes hand in hand with

This is an article by Chris of Zen to Fitness. Follow his exciting journey to health and fitness on his blog.

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relaxing and inspiring. A good book before bed will calm the mind and fill your mind with positive ideas and hope for the next days. Here are a few of my favorites at the moment; The Miracle of Mindfullness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation Saltwater Buddha: A Surfer’s Quest to Find Zen on the Sea Force of Nature: Mind, Body, Soul (And, of Course, Surfing) The 4-Hour Workweek. Those are some of the best easy reads I have had in the last month or two. So take a look and see if you enjoy any. 4. Visualize the next day This takes just 10 minutes and can set things up for your next day. Try just laying down closing your eyes and focusing on your breath. Then move into visualizing key points and things you want to achieve the following day or even that week, make sure your visualizations are positive and make them play out to be ideal. Of course this guarantees nothing but it certainly helps. This is a tip from one of my favorite books PshycoCybernetics. 5. Write down what needs to be done tomorrow Clear your mind, get things off your chest. By simply grabbing a pen and paper and listing out the following: What needs to be done Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com Page 123 The order in which you will try to do the tasks What’s on your mind You can clear a load of clutter in your mind that might normally keep you up at night ruminating and worrying. 6. Make a gratitude list This goes back to habits, by simply noting down at the end of each day a handful of things you are thankful for you will feel much better. Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful. -- Buddha You don’t need to spend much time on this just note down four or five things that went well today and store them in a journal on your bedside. 7. Do some basic stretches Stretching before bed is very relaxing. Nothing too stimulating should be done just a few simple yoga poses and stretches will do fine. This is especially useful if you have a desk job or something that has you sitting around all day. It can make your hip flexors and abductors very sore as well as crushing your lower back. So lengthening stretches along with something for the legs are great.

The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life

33.

How to Develop Healthy Habits That Stick
One of the reasons it is so difficult to cultivate healthy habits is because it requires changing your tastes, your routines and your life in general. Most people are not ready for this and each of their attempts is a complete failure. I had the same problem for many years until I finally learned to develop habits that stick. I am sure that any person can live a healthy life if they really want to. Some changes might be easy (drinking more water, adding a few servings of fruits and veggies every day) and some might be really challenging (giving up smoking, committing to exercise) but all of these changes are definitely doable. I have tried a lot of different approaches to cultivate healthy habits that stick and here are the ones that finally worked for me. 1. Start with easy habits. If you are just starting out on your way to healthy living then you must see some results right away. Choose something small and easy like drinking 8 glasses of water every day. You will feel successful and it will be easier for you to try something more difficult the next time. 2. Give each habit 30 days. 30 Days to Success was the first article that I read on this issue and it was the most helpful advice I have ever gotten. Anybody can stick to doing something for one month. Tell yourself that if you still do not like it after 30 days then you can give up on this habit and try something Page 124

This is a post by Anastasiya Goers of Balance In Me. Please follow me @balanceinme and keep your life balanced.

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
new. In 30 days you will start feeling better as well as see the first benefits of your habit and it will become a part of your lifestyle. 3. Realize that some healthy habits are not for you. No matter how healthy celery is I cannot eat it. I remember one time I was on some body-cleansing diet and one day I had to eat as much celery as possible. I was committed to learning to like celery. I was able to get through breakfast with my celery but when lunch time came around I just couldn’t stomach it (literally). I don’t need to go into details about what happened next but needless to say I didn’t fill well the rest of the day. Eating celery is one of the healthy habits that do not work for me. Listen to your body and do not force yourself to do something that your body does not want to be doing. If you cannot eat fish, then go with walnuts and olive oil for your daily supply of omega-3s. If you do not like high impact activities like running or kick-boxing then go with Yoga, Pilates and walking. You do not have to do it all in order to be healthy. 4. Go for it 100%. Some people think that it is better to gradually ease into your healthy habit. I found out that it is much easier to go the whole 9 yards from the very beginning and see if you can keep up or not. When I was trying to lose weight I knew that I had to give up sweets. I committed myself to not eat anything with sugar for one month. I lost weight and I learned to appreciate non-sweet things. I still like sweets but now they are just occasional treats and Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com not every day must-haves. When you work hard to achieve something you learn to appreciate what you are doing. 5. Do 1 healthy habit at a time. You do not need to rush and develop a ton of healthy habits all at once. Choose 1 habit every month and commit to trying it. Take one step at a time and you will feel how easy it is to live a healthy life. Healthy living should not be stressful; it must be balanced and relaxed. 6. Study your healthy habit and realize why you need it. Understanding why you have to develop a healthy habit is one of the most important factors that will help you stick with this habit. A lot of my young slender friends ask me “Why should I exercise? I am not overweight then why should I waste my time on exercise?” If they do not understand the importance of exercise then they won’t be able to stick with it. It won’t be a priority in their life. Before you commit to your 30 day trial make a list of benefits that this healthy habit will bring you and review this list every time you think about ditching it. In the case of exercise, some of the benefits will be: strong heart and bones, sexier body, no pains associated with a sedentary lifestyle, and an investment in good health for the future. 7. Learn the consequences of not developing healthy habits. This fear might become your biggest motivation to develop a healthy habit. If you are a smoker then learn everything you can about lung cancer and the danger of smoking for people Page 125

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around you. If you are trying to lose weight then learn about all health problems associated with being overweight. 8. Allow yourself to fail. Some of your attempts won’t be successful from the beginning but this is not a reason to give up on this habit. If you are trying to lose weight and you go out and have a huge hamburger and a gigantic size chocolate sundae for dessert then do not be hard on yourself. Accept it as a bump in the road and continue with your healthy eating plan the next day. 9. Recruit support. Tell your friends and relatives your big plans and ask them to monitor you. If you are trying to go vegetarian then ask your significant other to do the same thing with you. If you are trying to start running then ask your friend to start running with you. If you are trying to cut down on sweets then ask your colleague at work to not offer you cookies and chocolate bars during lunch. 10.Write it down. Create a diary where you will write down every healthy habit that you are trying and track your progress. If you are trying to exercise then write down every workout that you had, how it made you feel, what was easy, what was difficult and so on. This diary will help you stay focused on your goal. The first healthy habit that you will try to cultivate will be the most difficult one, but every one after that will get only easier and easier. In no time you will find yourself living a healthy and balanced life without even thinking about it.

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34.

101 Healthy Habits that Anyone Can Follow
Developing healthy habits can be overwhelming if you do not know where to start. A lot of people fail at healthy living simply because they try too many things at the same time and they end up not sticking to anything. They get back to their double cheeseburgers and “exciting” evenings in front of the TV and keep getting bigger as their health problems increase. Developing healthy habits that stick is not that complicated if you choose the simple ones and progress slowly. Here are 101 healthy habits that you can choose from. Just pick one habit at a time, conquer it and then try the next one. It is that simple! Healthy Eating 1. Always eat a big breakfast 2. Add 1/2 cup of fruits to your breakfast 3. Drink 8 glasses of water and carry a bottle of water with you all the time 4. Start a food diary and track how much you are actually eating (with 2/3 of the Americans being overweight or obese overeating is a real problem today). The general guidelines are 1600 calories for women and 2200 for men (active people would obviously need more) 5. Substitute fresh and dried fruits and berries for candies and granola bars

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6. Eat fish on most days of the week. Choose fatty fish like salmon, herring and trout as often as possible 7. Eat only whole grain cereal. Look for at least 3 g of fiber and not more than 10g of sugar in one serving 8. Add walnuts to your breakfast or salad to increase your omega-3 consumption 9. Add sunflower seeds, almonds and hazelnuts to your meals to increase your vitamin E consumption 10.Eat red meat once a week or less 11.Choose only lean meat and poultry 12.Do not fry shrimp or any other shellfish. Grill, boil or bake it to reduce cholesterol 13.Eat fresh fruits as snacks between meals 14.Eat at least one apple daily 15.Choose fat free or low fat dairy products 16.Eliminate foods made with trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils) 17.Make every meal balanced: 40-50% carbs, 25-35% protein, 20-30% fat 18.Include at least 1/2 a cup of beans and other legumes in your meals daily (legumes are high in protein and fiber, but very low in fat and carbs. They will keep you full longer, lower your cholesterol levels and nourish your body with important nutrients) 19.Consider going semi-vegetarian completely or at least for a week every month 20.Ditch soft drinks 21.Limit your consumption of juices. Opt for freshly squeezed juices to get the most nutrients and dilute them with water to reduce calories Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com 22.Have small treats every week. Choose a treat that you like the most and have it every week to keep your healthy eating enjoyable (eating a pizza or a chocolate Sundae is not a treat, it is pigging out) 23.Do not eat heavy meals before you go to bed. If you are hungry go for some fruit, a small bowl of whole grain cereal or yogurt 24.Exclude foods made with high fructose corn syrup 25.Eat lots of brightly colored vegetables (spinach, tomatoes, carrots, beets etc.) because they are rich in anti-oxidants, flavonoids and vitamins 26.If you are trying to lose weight, decrease each of your meals by 25% 27.Use coconut oil for cooking. Most liquid oils (like olive oil, canola oil etc.) become toxic and turn into trans fats once they are heated to 200 degrees whereas coconut oil stays stable up to 360 degrees 28.Use olive oil and balsamic vinegar as dressing for your salads. Forget about Ranch and Thousand Island for the sake of your heart and arteries 29.Drink dry red wine with fatty meals (limit it to 2 glasses for men and 1 glass for women) 30.Drink coffee (you can enjoy up to 3 cups of coffee daily and reduce your risks of developing type 2 diabetes, Parkinson disease and colon cancer) 31.Soak meat for 6 hours in a wine or beer based marinade before grilling. It will reduce the amount of carcinogens (chemicals linked to cancer) and other harmful substances for up to 88% 32.Eat hot and spicy stuff Page 128

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33.Eat oatmeal in the morning 34.Choose cottage cheese and yogurt instead of regular cheese and sour cream when cooking 35.Eat dark chocolate to cope with cravings and to protect blood vessels as well as to prevent cardiovascular disease (do not go overboard though, one or two squares daily is all you need) 36.Eat whole wheat bread with at least 3 g of fiber in each serving 37.Use mustard instead of mayo on sandwiches 38.Follow a Mediterranean diet to decrease risks of cancer and heart disease (Mediterranean diet is rich in lean proteins, fish, fruits, vegetables, legumes, olive oil and red wine) 39.Eat only wild caught fish, grass-fed beef and free range chicken to ensure that you get the best nutrients without chemicals or contaminants 40.Go half-organic 41.Follow “The Less – The Better” rule when eating 42.Do not eat in front of the TV, a computer or while reading a newspaper 43.Drink loose green and black tea without sugar 44.Decrease your daily sodium intake 45.Make snacks not more than 100 calories. A 500calorie piece of cake is not a snack, it’s a meal 46.Add at least one serving of fruits or vegetables at every meal (one serving is about 1/2 of a cup of sliced produce and 1 cup of leafy greens). Aim at getting 5-9 serving of fruits and vegetables daily 47.Drink vegetable or tomato juice instead of fruit juices Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com 48.Stack your fridge with healthy products weekly to avoid last-minute carry outs, unhealthy frozen dinners and eating out Exercise 49.Walk for at least 30 minutes every day 50.Start your day with morning exercises 51.Buy a pedometer and make at least 10,000 steps every day 52.Schedule your workouts beforehand 53.Have 10-15 min workouts several times throughout a day (you can do push-ups and sit-ups, go up and down the stairs, walk around the block, have a mini Yoga workout) 54.Get yourself a dog and go for a walk with it every day 55.Walk with a weighted west to burn more calories and to prevent bone loss 56.Add weekly Yoga sessions to relieve stress and improve you mind and body connection 57.Buy a jumping rope and jump as often as you can 58.Exercise with your kids and your partner 59.Add muscle strengthening workouts at least once a week 60.Start a physical activity log 61.Get at least 2 hours 30 minutes of moderate activity weekly (brisk walking, dancing, gardening, swimming) or at least 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous activity weekly (jogging, cardio aerobics) 62.Follow “The more – The better” rule with your physical activity Page 129

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63.Sign up for a community event like a walk for a cause, 5K, triathlon etc. 64.Increase your physical activity by 10% weekly 65.Make your own motivational collage and keep it in front of you all the time 66.Stretch out every 1-2 hours at work 67.Invest in a mini home gym – buy a few dumbbells, resistance bands,a jumping rope, a medicine ball or a stability ball. This way you can squeeze in a short workout at any time 68.Buy exercise DVDs, find workouts on YouTube or sign up for a workout podcast and work out at home 69.Employ an “I think I can do” attitude to stay on track with your workouts 70.Create back-up plans for your workouts in case of obstacles, e.g. “If there weather is bad I’ll …”, “When I have to work late I’ll …”, “When I am tired I’ll …” 71.If you are a runner or a walker then buy new shoes every 300-400 miles 72.Find your best workout and start it today 73.Try new activities monthly to keep you enthusiastic about working out 74.Use your imagination when working out (imagine that you are climbing a mountain when you are working out on an elliptical machine or that you are competing in a marathon while running on a treadmill) 75.Add balance exercises to your workouts – complex movements force your mind to work harder engaging multiple parts of your brain as well as multiple muscles (try dancing, Pilates, Yoga) 76.Join an online community where you can track your progress and talk to people who have similar interests or goals as you do. Most popular fitness magazines have free (or almost free) personal trainer tools and online communities on their websites (menshealth.com, shape.com, runnersworld.com). Other great websites are sparkpeople.com and bodybuilding.com 77.Get inspired. Read blogs, websites or magazines that share exercise success stories and find your inspiration every day 78.Walk a few laps around the mall before you start shopping General health 79.Use sunscreen all the time 80.Spend 15 min in the sun daily to boost the production of Vitamin D in your body 81.Take Vitamin D supplements in winter or if you do not spend enough time outside 82.Take multivitamins and mineral supplements 83.Go to sleep earlier and sleep longer (get your 8 hours of zzz-s daily) 84.Do not forget about your regular medical checkups 85.Keep your vaccinations up-to-date 86.Keep track of your health. Control your cholesterol levels, your body measurements, your food intake, exercise and just the way you feel to avoid serious Page 130

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
problems in the future and to realize when something goes wrong. A great website to track everything is thecarrot.com Mental and Emotional Health 87.Laugh every day, several times a day 88.Make a list of up to 100 personal pleasures and pursue one every week 89.In order to gain balance in life make a list of things “My life would be complete if …” and see what areas of your life you need to focus on 90.Make a list of the happiest moments of your life and think about one of these moments every day. This will be decrease your stress levels and make you a happier person 91.Keep an uncluttered to-do list. Avoid to-do lists that are longer than 9-10 tasks and update them as you go 92.Add mini relaxation sessions (1.5 – 2 minutes) throughout the day: close your eyes, relax, breathe slowly and deeply, imagine a peaceful and serene place 93.Read books every day 94.Play brain games as often as possible (Games for Brain, Brain Games) 95.Feel younger no matter what your age is – do things that are not “appropriate” for your age, hang out with younger people, be optimistic and less serious about life 96.Learn a new skill every week 97.Spend money on memorable vacations and trips rather than shopping 98.Try balance exercises with your eyes closed – this will improve your brain’s plasticity. Stand on one leg with your eyes closed or try Yoga poses with closed eyes 99.Ditch TV 100. Practice media detox days weekly (no TV, no cell phone, no Internet) 101. Become spiritual (consider prayer, religion, meditation, positive beliefs). Spirituality is linked to longevity, better health and lower stress levels as well as a general sense of well-being. I hope that you will pick healthy habits that have appealed to you from the list above. Do you have any other healthy habits that you would like to share with me? What is your experience of developing healthy habits? I am looking forward to your feedback in the comments below. Stay healthy and Keep it balanced!

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35.

A Simple Way to Nourish Your Body and Soul without Spending a Dime
Yesterday was the first sunny day after a week of rain and clouds. I do not want to sound too trite but I felt like life returned to our house. I had this burning desire to go running however there was nobody to stay with the babies while they were sleeping. After sitting at the computer half of the day and trying to figure out what to write about I decided to do something new. Every other day I do my Pilates and Yoga workout in the living room but yesterday I decided to take this workout outside. Having the baby monitor right by my side I headed out to the porch. It was almost like a summer day (actually better, because I didn’t have a flock of bugs chasing after me ) and I was totally inspired for my workout. I had the best hour devoted completely to myself that I’ve had in the last couple of months. Yesterday was a total revelation for me. There is nothing ground-breaking in the fact that being outside is inspiring and totally healthy. I just thought that we spend so much time inside that we forget how important it is to be outside. Our lives revolve around computers, offices and desks. We are proud to be intellectual workers and we bury ourselves in the prison of modern-day comforts. After work a lot of us go home and watch TV or drive to the gym to lift weights and run a few miles on a boring treadmill. Even Mind & Body practices like Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates take you inside

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and force you to look at boring walls decorated with a few artificial plants or new age pictures. We weren’t born with this great desire to be stuck inside. I agree that being inside is comfortable a lot of times (I would rather clean toilets than go outside in a blizzard or that rainy foggy weather when you feel your bones shivering under your skin) but we should not forget our natural environment – NATURE. I have the worst days with my babies when we cannot go outside. Nobody told them that they need to be outdoors in order to be happy or healthy. They just want to go there and play in the sun, play with mud, sticks and rocks and enjoy being a part of a big and bright world. At 19 months they know what they need better than a lot of us – adults. I’ve come across some interesting statistics lately about participation in outdoor activities. For the most part people have less than 24 outdoor outings every year (that include jogging, hiking, bicycling, spending time in parks and nature resorts – see the full report here). Isn’t that horrible? Do you really want to spend all your time inside like a plant in a greenhouse? Everybody knows that greenhouse vegetables and fruits are far less tasty than the ones grown in natural conditions. Do you think there is an analogy with people? Actually there is, here are just a few facts: • 90% of people involved in outdoor activities (PIOA) say that getting outdoors reduces stress levels and leaves them with a sense of accomplishment • • • 88% of PIOA say that it helps them escape the pressures of everyday life 79% believe that it keeps them young 79% of PIOA say that being outdoors strengthens their families, helps them to understand each other better and avoid conflicts 76% believe that being outdoors allows them to connect with themselves Being outside makes you healthier because sunshine boosts your body’s vitamin D production Outdoor activities are more satisfying and less boring than the ones at your local gym Being outdoors makes you more aware of the environment and your own responsibility to conserve it.

• • • •

As you have probably already understood a simple way to nourish your body and soul without spending a dime is being outside. There are hundreds of things you can do outside on most days of the week and it could be a great idea to spend some special occasions outside too. My husband gave me a wonderful surprise on our two year wedding anniversary. He took me hiking on a beautiful mountain located 45 minutes away from where we live. I could not get a better present than that. Restaurants, movies and adventure parks simply do not compare in my opinion. After we got to the top of the mountain we found a quiet spot overlooking the entire city of Charlotte and had a glass of wine to celebrate our special day. It was so amazing! Page 133

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
There is something about being outside that brings balance into your life. Maybe there is not enough research or studies done to prove it but not everything in our world can be measured by dull numbers and raw logic. Sometimes you just feel what your soul and body need and you just have to follow that desire. I believe that being outside is an essential part of bringing balance into life.

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36.

7 Irrational thoughts that disrupt your life

This is an article by Steven Aitchinson of Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life. Follow his blog to find life changing lessons. A lot of us suffer from irrational thinking which can affect our lives in a dramatic way. It can separate the successful people in life from the unsuccessful ones, it can mean the difference between loving someone and hating someone, it can be the difference between peace and war. All wars, Yes I mean ALL, are caused by irrational thinking. In this post I will look at seven common irrational thoughts and hopefully if you suffer from irrational thinking it will help you to change. 1. If someone criticizes me there must be something wrong with me There are many reasons why people criticize each other but it does not mean there is something wrong with you if they do criticize you. It means they have a differing opinion to you which is fantastic as without differing opinions in the world it would be a terrible place to live. 2. I must always seek approval in order to feel good about myself Many people have thought this at one time or another in their lives, however it becomes damaging when it is an entrenched belief. There is no way you can please everybody all the time so there is no point in even trying. Seek approval from yourself and if you’re happy and feel Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com Page 135

The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
good that’s all that matters. Yes it’s nice to have other people’s opinions but don’t go out of the way to please other people. 3. I won’t try anything new unless I know I will be good at it Many people suffer from these types of thoughts. Trying new things in your life is a way for you to grow and learn more about yourself. You don’t have to be good at everything in your life but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy new experiences even if you are not good at them. 4. It’s not my fault my life didn’t go the way I wanted I have news for you; it is your fault. This doesn’t make you bad and it doesn’t mean you are a failure. You have control over your thoughts and therefore your actions. You thoughts and actions will determine your life. If you constantly blame others for the way your life has turned out you have given all your power away to other people. Take the control back and take responsibility for your thoughts and actions. 5. I am inferior to everyone else That’s just the way you feel, which doesn’t make it true. You have qualities that nobody else can touch and other people have qualities that you can’t touch. Recognizing your strengths will build your self confidence recognizing others strengths will build their self confidence but don’t put yourself down when recognizing that somebody else is better than you at something. 6. I was rejected which means there is something wrong with me This is over generalizing like the person who was rejected in a relationship, they think it always happens to them and they must somehow be unworthy of love. People reject others due to differing ideals, just like you do, but it doesn’t mean you are in any way unworthy it just means your ideals don’t match someone else’s ideals. 7. If I feel happy about life something will go wrong Another common irrational thought. You deserve all the happiness you make for yourself; your past is your past, if there are still issues lurking from your past that is blocking you to feel happy about today speak to someone about it. Do not tinge your present and future thoughts with bad memories or else your present and future thoughts will get infected and your life will always stay the same. How to stop your irrational thoughts Simple! Just catch yourself every time you have an irrational thought or self defeating thought and replace the wording of your internal thought. For example: You are driving on a beautiful day and a bird decides to shit on your car. You might think:

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“that always happens to me, why do they always shit on my car” To “It’s about time I got the car washed”. Look for the keywords in there “always”, this is an untruth. If birds always shit on his car his car would be floating in the stuff. So catch yourself with untrue statements such as: “always” e.g. I always get caught in the rain (If that were true you’d be a fish) “I never……………………” e.g. “I can never get a parking space.” (If that were true you wouldn’t be able to go anywhere in your car without stopping). “I couldn’t……” e.g. “I couldn’t walk a mile” (have you tried?). “I’m hopeless at……………”e.g. “Oh, I am hopeless at talking in a group.” (usually said whilst talking to a group of friends). “It’s terrible……” e,g. “Isn’t it terrible that it’s raining?” (Eh! No, it’s not terrible). There are a lot more irrational thoughts out there and you have to be conscious to catch yourself thinking them. I hope this article helps you to catch your irrational thoughts and brings your life into perspective.

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Balanced Relationships (Marriage and Love)

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37. The Happy Couple Cheat Sheet: 15 Steps to a Balanced and Happy Marriage (Relationship)
This is a post by Anastasiya Goers of Balance In Me. Please follow me @balanceinme and keep your life balanced. The other day my husband and I were talking about our marriage and how happy we are together. Then we somehow started talking about our friends and how some of their marriages and relationships didn’t work out. It was sad to see some of them go through painful divorces or experience great disappointments in people who were considered their second halves just a while back. It’s not a secret that rates of divorces are rising like crazy all over the world now (in the United States 50% of all marriages end in divorce and in Ukraine the rates are just a little bit lower). I am not going to go into the details of why it is happening but I would like to share my experience of a happy and balanced marriage. I hope that maybe these tips will help some couples to live happily ever after. 1. Be honest with each other. I think marriage and any serious relationship starts with honesty. My husband is a scuba diver and he has a few scuba buddies. If you do not know much about diving then I want to share one secret: it is EXTREMELY expensive (you need at least $3000 on average to get your own gear and as you become better at it you will want more expensive and more professional equipment). For the reason that I cannot figure out scuba diving is a real addiction for men and they cannot stop buying new equipment no matter how much they have Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com Page 139

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already (my husband is past that point thankfully ) Back to the scuba buddies, these guys are married and they hide their new equipment from their wives. Every time they buy something new they try to sneak around and get it delivered when their wives are not home, then they hide it real good to make sure that their wives do not know how much they’ve just spent (my husband has never done anything like this, phew!). One of these guys has just divorced and now they are fighting over the custody of the children. I can’t imagine living with a person who is not honest with me, neither does my husband and I do not have much hope in marriages that are based on lies and sneaking around. 2. Do not only say “I love you,” show it. My parents divorced when I was about 10 years old. I remember my dad always talking a lot about how much he loved my mom and me but he never showed it. He never helped my mom around the house, he never helped her financially to raise me after the divorce, and he never tried hard enough to be a good husband and a good dad. It is important to show your partner your love. It can be support in a difficult situation, help around the house or with the kids, a romantic night out or a timely hug when you are feeling blue. 3. In a relationship you are a team and not two solo players. When you are married you lose some of your “I” and turn it into “We.” Marriage is like a football game (without getting slammed though ). Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com A person who does not know the rules will look at the field and see a bunch of big guys running around, jumping on each other and acting completely irrational. A person who knows the rules will see a strategy behind every move. Each player has his own role on the field and each of the players is responsible for the final score. In a marriage it is important to have your own life and your own interests, however happy couples know that all these interests are worthless if they do not benefit their team. There is a great movie called Facing the Giants that continues this analogy (this is a Christian movie). Another one of my favorites is Fireproof and I think that all couples need to watch it because it is a wonderful and inspiring movie. 4. Keep romance burning in your relationship. There is nothing worse than a boring and unromantic relationship. When women start wearing hair rollers and shower caps around the house and when men spend all their time on the coach with a bottle of beer in their hands you can say that this relationship is doomed. Here are 10 ways to turn a boring relationship into a party of love and I am sure that you can think of at least 100 more. 5. Be best friends. A marriage based only on friendship is hardly possible, but a marriage without friendship is doomed. What do friends do? They talk, they share their most intimate thoughts, they share their joys and sorrows, they have fun together, and

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they help and support each other. Can you imagine a marriage without all this? I can’t. 6. Let little things slide. This tip is mostly meant for women because a lot of us (women) go crazy about little things like dirty socks around the house, a glass that was left in the wrong place or the wrong type of produce that he picked up at the grocery store. Men can think only about one thing at a time (these are words of my husband, no offense guys). When they think about a nice bottle of wine that they want to bring home for supper they forget whether you wanted Romaine lettuce or spinach. When they think about a football game they forget where they leave their glass and when they are ready to cuddle up with you under a blanket they forget where they threw their socks. Look at the big picture and enjoy a deep relationship and bond with your partner, after all nobody is perfect. 7. Talk. When I say “talk” I do not mean just talking about what refrigerator you have to buy or what happened at work during the day. I mean talking about everything: about friends, about news, about your interests, about your concerns and about 100 more subjects. My husband and I lose track of time when we start talking to each other and I love this time more than anything else in the world (well, almost anything ). Talking will help you understand what is going on in the head of your spouse, what bothers him/her, it will help you to resolve and prevent conflicts and misunderstandings if they arise Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com (the worst thing is to keep a grudge inside and let it destroy your marriage). 8. Be silent. Sounds contradictory to what I’ve just said, right? If you and your partner argue (it happens to the best of us) then you are likely to say something that you do not really mean. When we are upset we tend to pick the most stinging words that can hurt your partner’s trust and faith in you permanently. I find that it is much better to be silent in these situations and to let both of us cool down a little bit. After the smoke has cleared and you can think rationally again you can talk the whole situation over and most likely you will find an easy solution or explanation that will satisfy both of you. 9. Be equally responsible for the family and household. This is a tip for men. A lot of men mention that marriage kills romance and that their wives become less interested in sex and fun activities that they used to enjoy before. This is really true because a lot of women get so tied up in household problems and bringing up children (not mentioning the fact that a lot of women are also working at the same time) that they do not have any energy left for anything else. Most men still think that a woman is a 100% responsible for bringing up children and taking care of the household. How many men change about half the amount of diapers that women do? How much time do men spend with the children when the kids are in a bad mood? How often do men think about Page 141

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what to fix for supper or when to vacuum the house? If you are one of the men who does it all or is willing to do it all then your wife is (will be) a very happy woman (my husband is all I’ve just mentioned and even more ). How would you expect a woman to think about a romantic night when she has been changing dirty diapers all day long and her personal time was limited to 5 minutes in the shower? A marriage puts a lot of responsibilities on both a man and a woman and if you want a happy and sexy wife then you need to give her some help and some free time. 10.Smile and laugh together. According to a recent study people who smile a lot have lower rates of divorce. Researchers are not quite sure about the connection between smiling and happy marriages but having great time together and laughing a lot will help you become more positive about your relationship and life in general. Here are 5 more rules that do not need any explanation in my opinion. 11.Love each other 12.Respect each other 13.Support each other 14.Understand each other 15.Give to each other A balanced and happy marriage is not a dream, it is a reality for me. I wish that more people could enjoy relationships that were satisfying and long-lasting at the same time.

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38.

How to Prepare Yourself for a Marriage That Lasts

This is a post by Justin of A Little Better. Follow him @alittlebetter to learn his personal development tips and tricks. We frequently hear about the rising divorce rate, and unhappy marriages, but people still want familes. There is nothing wrong with this, but these stories can be quite discouraging. The hope of marriage lasting seems all but gone. Does this mean that there is nothing we could do to make a marriage more likely to last? Not at all. In my story, I make it clear that it was the idea of kids like me that really motivated me to delve into self improvement. One of the factors that I really wanted to take care of was a happy marriage. Its not fun or wholesome to grow up in a family where the mother and father do not get along, and if there is no example of what proper love is for a child growing up what standard will they have to measure love by when they are adults? So I started asking anyone who I saw that appeared to have a happy marriage, and I still read everything I can find on relationships and marriage. This is what I’ve found so far. Learn to Manage Your Finances The most frequent cause of divorce is finance. Both you and your partner must make it a priority to at least have a general understanding of finances. You should have a shared philosophy on how money should be handled. Examples to work on together for this area are as follows. How much money should be set aside for entertainment? How much should be put in an emergency fund? What Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com Page 143

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things can be sacrificed in a financial emergency? How much time is too much time at work? How should living expenses be divided fairly? One major point here is to address any debts before marriage. If either you or your partner has debt you must be up front about it. If you cannot get rid of said debt before marriage than at least put together a strategy to pay it off. Know Your Marriage Beliefs What does marriage mean to you? What is the role of the husband? What is the role of the wife? Is there any time that divorce is acceptable? When? I couldn’t tell you if there is a right or wrong answer to these questions, but I can tell you this. If you and your partner do not have a similar view on these things it will cause trouble later on. Marriage Will Not Fix You There are many people that get married because they feel it will somehow make them magically better. They want marriage to make them a more complete person. This creates unrealistic expectations and ultimately disappointment. First off you are complete as you are. Nothing is going to make you more complete. The thing you should be looking for is: “Are you living to the potential you already have? Are you happy with yourself? Why not?” These are things you need to address. Your partner can still help and offer not only loving support but an occasional swift kick to the caboose when it’s needed, but marriage is Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com not going to address those things for you. If you want to change your habits then start now because marriage won’t change them. The nice thing though, is that the moment you commit to live better you are already moving in the right direction. Don’t Rush Marriage If you are really in this relationship for the long haul than you are already going to spend the rest of your life together. When you hold the ceremony from that point isn’t as important, so don’t rush it. Instead make sure that you are ready. This does not mean never get married. Just be ready first. One good rule to follow whenever possible is do not get married before at least 25 years old. Before this point the brain is still developing wait until that is settled in. Do things that you need to do on your own before you are married. It’s not that you can’t do them with your partner, it’s that you want to have a good idea of who you are and how you want to live life first. Always Improve Communication There is not an area in your life that cannot be improved with better communication skills. This includes reading what others mean, effectively sending the message you intend to, actively listening, learning what times are and are not appropriate for opening up, when it’s time to be quiet, and how to stand up for yourself appropriately. You and your partner should both make a life habit of working on communication skills. One trick that has helped my relationship is realizing that most arguments boil down to Page 144

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definitions. Dictionaries can end arguments, and a thesaurus can help you find the right word to make your point. In the end, it’s not up to me when you are ready to be married. I would ask that you at least consider these things, and I wish you all the best in love and life.

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39.

7 Keys to Strengthen Relationships and Create Lasting Memories

This is a post by Miche of Serenity Hacker. Follow her @SerenityHacker to get her tips about serene and peaceful living. times. We really don’t “plan” on creating happy memories, they just seem to happen, yet we’d all like it if we knew we could have more of them. But how do we go about intentionally making them happen? What are the things that we remember most? Sure, a vacation might do the trick, or another big life event, but these don’t always occur very often. And even though we really can’t guarantee that we’ll be able to create more joyful memories, there are manageable things we can do in the present that deepen bonds, increase mutual joy and aliveness, and raise the odds that we’ll have more memorable times to look back on in the future. Most of these involve, at least in some way, breaking from our routines. Even good relationships tend to stagnate when routine sets in … time slips by, without any real memories being made. This is when we look back and wonder where the time went… there are no real markers to set things apart. Stressed or difficult relationships are also undermined by routine: things have become so uncomfortable or tough that any routine that keeps the status quo, or the stress at bay, is often adopted. No good memories are created in this place, and with time, this increases the chasms that separate us from those we care about. Page 146

There’s almost nothing more rewarding in life than close relationships, be it with a spouse or loved one, friends, children, or our families. One of the things that all of the most cherished and satisfying relationships have in common is lasting memories. Memories, especially joyful ones, fortify relationships and increase their endurance, especially through difficult Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com

The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
Breaking out of the routines that keep us from deepening our connections and experiencing the stuff we’ll enjoy looking back on doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or extravagant. Instead, try incorporating some of the following simple elements into any of your relationships, and make them, in some way, part of your routines together: 1. Experience New Things Together This is ultimate “break up your routine” idea, but it goes quite far in creating the kinds memories that stay with us. When we experience something new, our senses are heightened, our adrenaline is active and our awareness is keen. Scientifically, all those biological factors actually work to sear memories deep into our subconscious, and make them easier to recall. Go places you’ve never been before, try things you’ve never done. You don’t have to love them all, the point is to get out of your relationship’s comfort zone and activate everyone’s spirit (and biology) of adventure. 2. Create Together This one often goes neglected, but really, how often do we create together with the people we love? We don’t have to get all fancy about it, creating can be as simple as creating a space in your home, making a snowman, building a tent with your kids, or even concocting a new recipe together. The bonds that are built around creative activities are special because creating involves being open, imaginative, and cooperative, and in the end, there is a result in which Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com everyone contributed a part. When you create together, do it in a spirit of fun, and of play… let go of the results. Better yet, let someone else take the lead… help someone you care about create something that’s meaningful to them. 3. Be Active Together Much of what we do for pleasure with those we love is rather passive. We may watch television, go to the movies, or out to eat. Though these sorts of pursuits might be relaxing and pleasurable, it’s because they’re passive that they don’t really strengthen our connections or create occasions that are memorable. Make it a point to experience things that require active involvement, even if just occasionally. Games, hikes, outdoor activities, or sports are all easy enough to do on a budget. You don’t have to do them all the time if they’re not your thing, but choosing active entertainment expands our experience of one another in a way that passive entertainment just can’t. 4. Include Others When You Spend Time Together This doesn’t have to be all the time, but including others not only brings a freshness to regular activities but also widens our perceptions of each other. Plus, the more personalities in a place, the more unexpected results, which often become the stuff of some our funniest memories. If you’re a family, do things that include other families, even if that just means things you normally do at home. If you’re a couple, try to connect with other couples, Page 147

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and for friends, go places where you’ll encounter new people together. Even making it a point to do something of this sort once a month, or every other, can enliven any relationship and solidify the ties that bind us. 5. Learn Together This is another category that gets neglected, because often we think learning is a solitary activity, or something we do formally, as in class, often with people we don’t know. But learning together with people we like or love is actually quite fun, broadens our horizons, and serves to enrich our relationships. The point here is to learn things that are new to everyone, so no one is really “the teacher”. Pick something that interests everyone involved. You can go about it formally or informally, but commit to it together. 6. Share in Joy and Celebratory Events Make time to acknowledge joyful moments and celebrate successes and triumphs, no matter how small, be it your own or someone else’s. Joy can be contagious, and though it might take a little effort, taking part in celebratory occasions together often adds more meaning to relationships. And you don’t have to wait for holidays, family events, or friends’ special occasions. Though such occasions are often fun, not everything needs to be a party, or even personal for that matter. Attending celebrations around your interests is often a good time, cheap, and can be found in your city and town. Universities, museums, libraries, even weather conservatories and parks often host or organize such events around anniversaries or other historical markers. 7. Make Room for Spontaneity Next time you’re inclined to pass on an invitation to do something because it’s not your thing, it’s too different, or because you feel too busy, just say “yes” when you feel the urge to say “no” or “maybe later”. Perhaps your sweetie suggested something new, your friend something strange, or your child something imaginative… these are the very things we shouldn’t pass up (besides, what are you passing them up to do instead?) The most wonderful, unexpected surprises often take place when we let go and let spontaneity reign supreme for awhile. When we allow spontaneity in our lives, we’re embracing living, we’re fully present, and we learn more about each other, and quite often about ourselves, in the process. True love is unconditional and everlasting, it is established over time and validated by memories ~Anonymous What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life, to be with each other in silent and unspeakable memory. ~George Eliot

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Social Life (Friendship, Communication, Social Skills)

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40.

How to Make a True Friend (Worth More Than 14.6 Cents)

This is a post by Mary Jaksch of Good Life Zen. Follow her @Mary_Jaksch to get your daily dose of practical inspirations for a happier life. Making new friends seems easy these days: you can buy them, or ‘friend’ people at the click of a button. But is that really making friends – in the true sense of the word? What is a true friend? True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation. ~ George Washington I once heard Zen Master John Tarrant say something unforgettable about friendship. He said, “If you have a true friend, one of you will sit at the other’s deathbed.” That puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? I can’t quite see my 2000 Twitter followers crowding around my bed in the Intensive Care Unit during my final days! What John Tarrant reminds us of, is that true friendships are long-term connections that flow through our life like rivers. I remember some beautiful moments of friendship when my mother, Joan Jaksch, died. I was with her as she passed away and immediately rang up my son Sebastian and three of my friends. They came at once and we all sat around my mother’s bed, holding hands and shedding tears. Page 150

A friend is one to whom one may pour out all the contents of one’s heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away. ~ Arabian Proverb Maybe you thought that friendship can’t be bought. Wrong. You can buy 3000 Facebook friends for only 14.6 cents apiece from Usocial.com. Twitter friends are even cheaper. You can acquire them in bulk: 25,000 Twitter friends only cost 3,4 cents each! Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com

The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
Ten Ways to Create Lasting Friendships A few days later, Sebastian and I celebrated my mother’s life with a funeral service held in our lounge (which doubles as a meditation room). My mother’s cat, Sweetie, lay curled up on her legs in the open coffin. Friends gathered, and we sat on the floor around the coffin, telling hilarious stories about my mother’s eccentric ways, until we could no longer tell the tears of laughter from the tears of grief. Then one of my best friends – my ex-husband Uwe Grodd – played a haunting solo on his flute. That’s true friendship. Friends are the family of the soul Fate chooses your relations, you choose your friends. ~ Jacques Delille (1738 – 1813) We are born into particular families. Some of us are lucky because we were raised in happy, loving families. Others grow up in abusive families and carry the scars all their lives. However, whatever family we were raised in, we are free to create our own family. These family ties can be by blood or by affection. Or by both. If you have children you will know that blood relation doesn’t guarantee close emotional ties. It’s a sad fact that many adult children leave home and then sever all ties to their family. That’s because they lack the bond of love and affection that is strong enough to last throughout life. I’m fortunate because my son Sebastian is one of my cherished friends. Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com 1. Be caring Ask not what a friend can do for you. Ask what you can do for a friend. ~ Anonymous The two cornerstones of friendship are kindness – and care. Here’s a lovely story by Father Theophane about the spiritual value of kindness and caring: There’s a monk there who will never give you advice, but only a question. I was told his questions could be very helpful. I sought him out. “I am a parish priest,” I said. “I’m here on retreat. Could you give me a question? “Ah, yes,” he answered. “My question is: ‘What do they need?” I came away disappointed. I spent a few hours with the question, writing down answers, but finally I went back to him. “Excuse me. Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear. Your question has been helpful, but I wasn’t so much interested in thinking about my parish during this retreat. Rather I wanted to think seriously about my own spiritual life. Could you give a question for my own spiritual life?” Page 151

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“Ah, I see, the monk said. ” The question is, ‘What do they really need?’” In order to care for another person, we need to walk in their shoes, and consider what we could do to make life easier for them. Then do it. 2. Be there in misfortune “Misfortune shows those who are not really friends.” - Aristotle I once went through a dismal patch in my life when I was forced to leave a high-profile job as a Director of a school of music – just as my husband Uwe and I were going through a divorce. The day after I left my job, I lost 80% of all the people whom I regarded as friends. That was a shock, as you can imagine. It turned out they were only hanging out with me because I was well-known. Strangely enough though, I then discovered that there was a small group of people lurking in the background of my life who were waiting to become friends with me. One of them was Birgit (who is like a sister to me now). I asked her: “Why did you guys wait all this time before letting me know that you wanted to be friends? “Oh,” she said, “we were waiting for you to come down to earth and stop being up yourself!” (In New Zealand, ‘up yourself’ means to be arrogant…) 3. Delight at success and share joy “Anybody can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathize with a friend’s success.” - Oscar Wilde One of the greatest compliments I’ve received was when a friend told me, “You’re the only person with whom I can share my success without reservation. I can tell you all about how well I did – and know that you’ll celebrate with me!” 4. Always Encourage When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves. ~ William Arthur Ward We can often spot a friend’s potential better than they can. Our task as a friend is to encourage, encourage, encourage. (Yes, I know I wrote that three times…) So often talent withers because there is nobody to encourage it. Let your friends know how wonderful they are – again and again. 5. Be Respectful In our society respect is linked to hierarchy. You are expected to be respectful to those ‘above’ you, but nobody cares if you treat those you consider ‘below’ you with familiarity or even distain. Well, that doesn’t work for making friends! How about treating everyone with respect? Page 152

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
I’m always saddened when children and young adults are treated disrespectfully – even though being young is a passing human condition, and children can grow into lifelong friends. If you want to be friends with a child or an adolescent, listen to what they have to say. Be interested in what they do. Treat them like the interesting human beings they are. 6. Be honest A true friend stabs you in the front. ~ Oscar Wilde I love this saying by Oscar Wilde! As a good friend it’s our duty to lovingly and patiently tell the other if we think he or she is going wrong. If a friend does that to you and you feel defensive, ask yourself, “What is the grain of truth in what they’ve said?” 7. Listen Friends listen to what you say. Best friends listen to what you don’t say. ~ Anonymous Listening to a friend is what deepens friendship. I know it’s difficult at times because you may be preoccupied at the time, or feel the pressure of concerns you want to get off our chest. Here’s a remedy: as well as listening to your friend, open to other sounds around you – the roar of traffic, the twitter of birds, or the splash of raindrops falling against the window. This keeps you in the present moment. Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com 8. Repair rifts It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend. ~William Blake Do you sometimes mourn a good friend whom you’ve lost through a quarrel? That’s what the quote by Blake is about. When we love – and friendship is a form of love – we open our heart to sorrow, as well as to joy. Make sure you reach out and let the other person know that you still want to be friends. Do it sooner than later. Sometimes we feel betrayed or ill-used by a friend. That’s a difficult situation. What I try to do in those moments is to remind myself about all of the good aspects of that friendship, so that I can move towards forgiveness. 9. Be trustworthy If you want to create lasting friendships, you need to be trustworthy. Really, that goes without saying. But it’s good to remind ourselves of this over and over. To be trustworthy means to keep confidences, not to denigrate a friend behind his or her back, to keep promises, to protect our friends, instead of taking advantage of them. 10. Accept despair The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, Page 153

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that is a friend who cares. ~ Henri Nouwen At times there is absolutely nothing we can do to help a friend and we feel helpless. We can’t see a way forward and despair because there seems nothing we can do to help. But actually there is. We can give our friends the most precious gift of all: our full presence. Hold your friend’s hand, listen to their despair. Or, if you are a distance, hold them in your heart with loving thoughts. Conclusion To be a good friend is a skill that grows with practice. I hope the ten rules above help you to become a good friend, or remind you of some important aspects of friendship. Most of all – let each friendship light up your life in a unique way.

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41.

Step out of Your Shell: Practical Tips to Become a Better Conversationalist
Some people are born with a thick shell around them. This shell protects them from the outside world, from bitter remarks of other people and from disappointment and failure. These people are shy by nature and going out in the public is a really difficult for them. A lot of these shy people are also introverts (not all introverts are shy though, just a remark) and connecting with the outside world is not easy for them. I am definitely an introvert and I am a bit shy too. This is the exact reason why I always had trouble communicating with strangers. Unless those strangers were interested in me I could not find common topics to talk about or common interests. You know those awkward moments when you come to a party and the host introduces you to one of their friends and then leaves. You and your new “acquaintance” try not to look in each other’s eyes because you do not know what to say. Both of you are just waiting for the right moment to run away. I’ve had hundreds of such moments in my life and I have finally decided to fight them and to step out of my shell. When I was a teenager and wanted to become a better conversationalist I read a book by Dale Carnegie “How to win Friends and Influence People.” I believe that this is the best book on this subject and everybody who has trouble communicating with new people must read it. However, this book was written about a century ago (I really can’t believe it. It sounds so weird and so old. Brrrrrr!) and today our world offers much more to people who are stuck inside their

This is a post by Anastasiya Goers of Balance In Me. Please follow me @balanceinme and keep your life balanced.

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shell. I am talking about the Internet. I think the Internet is the best thing to help make you a better conversationalist and make you a braver and bolder person in general. About two years ago I got hooked on blogs and the whole online community and that is when I finally found a way to get out of my shell and to become a better conversationalist. I believe that anybody who has the same fears as I had (you do not know what to say and when to say, you are not sure if you are right or not, you are afraid of being laughed at, you are not sure if your opinion actually matters to other people or not) can finally break free and feel at ease in any situation with strangers. 1. Start following blogs. If you are not sure what to talk about you can “borrow” other people’s opinions and use them in your real conversations. Blogs can give you insight and deliberate opinions on any subject that you might find interesting. You can learn things that you’ve never known about, you can hear news that nobody else is talking about and you can read opinions that have never been written about. 2. Comment on blogs. I think this is one of the most useful exercises for anybody who wants to be a better conversationalist. Choose a topic that you know nothing about, read a post and try to write an interesting and smart comment (things like “Great article, Keep it up!” do not count). You might have to find a few other resources along the way to make you a little bit knowledgeable on the topic. You can take as much time as you want to chisel your Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com comment (time is something we do not have in real conversation). Over time you will become faster and more confident in posting comments. This is when you will become better in real conversation too. 3. Use email instead of a regular phone. People who are scared of talking to strangers are often terrified of the phone. I must confess, I still have a phonephobia and I would rather clean a toilet than make a phone call to a person I do not know. Using email is so much easier in my opinion and it saves me so much trouble and time! 4. Join a forum. It’s close to commenting on blogs but on a forum you can actually start a discussion that you are interested in and try to keep it flowing. You can start something controversial and that way learn to deal with criticism and negative opinions. You can try to engage people in an interesting conversation. You can also reply to other people’s threads and become an active member of the forum community. You can take as much time as you want to come up with a topic or with a response. It has helped me to become more open and more socially active. 5. Use Twitter wisely. Twitter is probably the best social media site for people who want to get out of their shell. Nobody can see whether you are online or not that is why you do not have the pressure to post something every time you log into your account. You will learn to find something interesting in what you are doing or what you are reading. You will learn to use your knowledge to the benefit of other people, Page 156

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your followers. You can have hundreds and thousands of friends without feeling too exposed. You will also improve your speaking skills by being brief and concise. The fact that I am an introvert helps me not to be obsessed with Twitter. Some people just want to be exposed to the entire world that is why they are on Twitter 24/7 (I am not even sure whether they sleep or not). They tweet about their breakfasts, lunches and dinners, about every grocery trip and every cup of tea or coffee that they drink, some of them even say when they go to the bathroom. If you are like me then you are lucky because you can only benefit from twitter without getting addicted to it. 6. Join online training programs, webinars, conferences, online parties. You can do almost anything online today. No matter what you are interested in you can find a community of sameminded people online who would be happy to talk to you. A lot of times these communities have their own online parties, webinars or they join some training program. As a mom of twins I am a part of TwitterMoms and TwinHappy and these are fun communities for moms and even dads. You can find a lot of social networks and even create your own at Ning.com. Follow your interests and expand them online! 7. Discover social media. You can stay up-to-date on everything you are interested in by joining social media sites like StumbleUpon, Digg, Delicious and Facebook of course. Establish your online presence and learn to communicate with people online, share your thoughts and your opinion. The worst thing that can happen to you is that people won’t pay any attention to you which is not a big deal in my opinion. 8. Start your own blog. Once you are comfortable with the first 7 steps and you want to try something else you can create your own blog. I know that blogging is not for everyone but it’s a great tool of self-improvement. You will learn to find topics that people are interested in and you will feel the excitement of sharing your knowledge with the rest of the world (even if at first the rest of the world is only your cat). Blogging is a daring adventure for everyone who is afraid of talking to people. Blogging is the ultimate tool to break that shell that hides you from the outside world. I know that my online life has helped me to become a better person. The online community has taught me a lot, it helped me to be more confident and more open with other people. I am not afraid of talking to strangers anymore and I am even doing better with phone calls Do you think you can benefit from it too?

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42.

How to be Annoyingly Positive and Still Keep your Boring Friends

This is a post by Arvind Devalia of Make it Happen. Follow him @arvinddevalia and make it happen for a better you and a better world. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a positive and effervescent outlook on life. (by the way, I really like the words “effervescent” and “effervescence” – they evoke colourful images of energy and gas bubbling out of a huge bowl – and honest, I am not on any drugs, just high on life). If you are such a positive bubbly person, have you noticed how it is the norm for people around you to be “realistic” and always look on the downside of everything? You tell them it is nice and sunny and they say, yes but it will probably rain later. You tell them it was a great meal and they complain about the dessert. Have you ever been around someone who is maddeningly positive and full of life and zest? Did they annoy you so much you wanted to just stamp on them? Or maybe YOU are one of these highly positive people with boundless energy and zest for life?! Well, if you are, then many congratulations! You get my point. At the same time, being so positive, are you in danger of losing all your “boring” friends?! I have gradually come to the conclusion that sometimes you simply have to let negative people be. I used to try so much to get them to see things differently, but now learnt that it’s a waste of time and energy to try and make others around you see a more positive outlook.

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The worst thing you can do is to let your positivity and optimism be dashed by negative, draining people. I would say that the challenge for positive people is twofold:1. How to maintain that positive outlook on life. 2. How to spread their positivity and effervescence – and keep their friends. (I told you I liked that word effervescence) Though it is key to remain upbeat and positive, you have to be realistic about what is and what’s not possible for your friends and their outlook. Expect the best from life and you will invariably get it. Expect the worst and you will not be disappointed! The last statement above is actually what some people live their lives by – they have low expectations so as not to be disappointed – meaning that they never even get around to raising their expectations. To me that seems like a rather sad way of approaching life. At the same time, everyone has a different life journey - I accept they have to go through and I do not wish to take away anyone from their desired learnings and chosen life. However there is so much one can do, so as to escape from this dark pool of negativity, if they wish to do so. Your life may not be going great right now, but by adopting a positive approach and working on your life, things will improve. As for people who are already relatively positive and have a zest for life, how do you continue to do so without annoying your “boring” friends? Here are some ideas for maintaining your positivity and still hanging on to some of your not so positive friends at the same time:1. Accept your positivity As I said, there is nothing wrong with being positive and happy. Just keep it up and enjoy it. At the same time, appreciate that everyone is in a different space, so if you are around someone very negative, curb your enthusiasm a little bit, without losing your grounding. Learn to gauge where the people around you are at and tone down a little if necessary. 2. Empathize with your friends When you are with your not so positive friends, understand and accept where they are coming from and what’s behind their outlook. You don’t have to agree with what they say – just try and relate to them. Hear what they have to say and humor them if necessary. 3. Reframe their arguments if necessary Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com Page 159

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Some people do change their outlook quickly and you can help them by reframing their arguments about how things are the way they are. Get them to see an alternate viewpoint and you may just life their spirits. 4. Let others be as they wish At the same time, some people are just not ready to change and adopt a new outlook – and nor is it your responsibility to do so. Instead focus on yourself and let them be. 5. Do not buy into their story Most negative people have a story about why life is treating them so badly and how things will never get better. Do not buy into their story. You stick to your own story – and also look for some key learnings from what they say – you can learn a lot by reflecting on how people are the way they are. 6. Share your resources. For some people, their negativity is a call for help and if so, you can offer to help them by sharing your expertise, resources and contacts, but do not make them dependent on you. Do keep your boundaries and do not become a door mat for others to dump on. 7. Disassociate and let go Ultimately, if you find that a person is simply too draining on your energy, then you have to be kind to yourself and let that friendship go. It may sound cruel but at the end of the day, you have to think about your own well-being. Just because you are a compassionate and loving being doesn’t mean that you have to be a friend for the whole world. Spread your optimism & zest for life and infect the whole world In summary, it is good to be positive, high-spirited and with a zest for living life to the full. At the same time, remain grounded and base your optimism with an underlying reality check – and most importantly continue to be effervescent:-) Remember – your positivity and bubbly nature should not be annoying but rather it should always be endearingly infectious. That way at least you will still have some friends – and they too will eventually be just as positive and full of life as you.

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43.

8 Helpful Ways To Deal With Critical People

This is a post by Celestine Chua of the Personal Excellence Blog. Follow her @celestinechua or on Facebook and learn how to be your best and live your best life. ability to scrutinize and zoom into every little problem there is. Following which, they fixate on these issues and offer unwanted opinions on them. If that’s not enough, they top it off with their projection of all the possible bad things that can happen. In my article on Are You Emotionally Generous?, I shared why we should be cut out the emotional stinginess and why emotional generosity is the way to go. Critical people are emotionally stingy, because they are so bent on harping on ”flaws” and what’s not there. They seem to have an automatic filter which mentally blocks out whatever goodness before them. Rather than give praise, they can only criticize. 8 Helpful Ways to Deal With Critical People Naturally, critical people aren’t the first people you’d think of hanging out with. While you can try to get out of their way, you are bound to run into one or two of them in school or at work. Here are my 8 handy ways to handle them: 1. Don’t Take It Personally Most of the times, their criticisms reflect more about themselves than about you. They react in this manner because of certain beliefs and frameworks they have about life. You may think the critical person is all out to get you, Page 161

Imagine this. You are in a good mood today. There’s something you are really happy about and you decide to tell your friend to share the excitement. However, your friend listens mainly in nonchalance while you are gushing away. Worse still, he/she starts giving his/her 2 cents about how it’s not really not that great. Talk about a wet blanket! Before you know it, your mood has done a 180 degree switch from happy to one of annoyance and irritation. Does this sound familiar? This is a typical behavior of critical people. Critical people can be real downers, just like energy vampires. No matter what you say, they always find some way to derail the mood of the conversation. You can’t even remember when was the last time they ever gave a compliment or encouragement. They have an uncanny Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com

The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
but it’s more likely he/she reacts in this same manner toward everyone else too. Here’s one simple way to check – Think about the common friends you have with the critical person. If possible, identify people of the same standing as you, so it’s comparable. After this, try to be present the next time they are with each other and observe how the critical person interacts with him/her. How does the critical person behave? Does he/she give the same pattern of comments? Does he/she focus on the negative things? Does he/she come across as critical? Chances are high that it’s going to be a yes. Last time, I used to take a critical friend’s comments to heart. I’d wonder why she was always so discouraging, and would feel defensive when she voiced out with her unwelcomed criticism. However, when I observed her treatment of our common friends, I realized she did this with the others too. Same comments, same criticisms, same hang-ups with them, even though I never saw anything wrong with our common friends. Not only that, there was a trend in what she said and harped on. It was then I realized it wasn’t about me; it was her inner frameworks. It was a liberating realization. From there on, I no longer took anything she said personally and was able to objectify the situation. 2. Understand Their Real Intentions Sometimes, I feel critical people are just misunderstood. They may just trying to offer an opinion but it becomes Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com misinterpreted due to their lack of tact. At times this swirls into a big misunderstanding. They become labeled as *ssholes even though they really aren’t trying to be. Unfortunately, people become hung up over “how” communication is done (the words used, the tone of communication), rather than “what” is being communicated (the message). The former ensures the message is conveyed correctly, but ultimately it is the message that matters. Critical people may be curt, but we are the ones who choose to attach the negativity to their words. Critical people may lack tact, but that’s because they lack awareness of how their behavior implicate others. You may be surprised, but sometimes they are really just clueless on how they are coming across until they see themselves in action. If you are taking their comments negatively when they don’t intend to be negative at all, that’s probably the worst way to expend your energy. Filter through their words (more importantly, your interpretations of their words) and get down to the real message. What are they trying to communicate? Why are they saying these? What are their intentions? Are they really trying to be *ssholes or is it a different intention? Behind their words may lie great insights. If you can get past the “how” and get down to the “what“, you gain access to valuable feedback for improvement. Two power things occur here – Firstly, you are a step ahead in your journey of conscious living because you are no longer behaving in a reactive manner. Secondly, you are literally more knowledgeable now you know the real intent of their Page 162

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feedback. This can be constructively used in your journey of self-improvement. Neither of these can happen if you are hung up over the criticism. The previous company I worked at is an American MNC, so the communication was often direct and to the point. There were times when people would be overly curt and blunt, especially when caught in pressing situations and tight timelines. One of the general managers was well known for his fiery temper, lashing out with verbal attacks and swearing at people when things were not going well. While some might gasp at this behavior, there is really no reason to take offense, because that’s just how he chooses to communicate. Of course it’d be ideal if everyone communicates in a sociably tactful manner, but ultimately you can’t change how others act. You can however, change how you perceive something. What really matters is the message the person is trying to convey, more than what exactly is being said. Needless to say, the ones who chose to take comments in negative light put themselves through unnecessary unhappiness; The ones who sieved through the words and got to the essence of the message were able to improve based on the feedback. My past experience has made me a more perceptive person because rather than focus on exact words being said, I listen to what the person is communicating. The ability to actively “listen” beyond words is a critical skill (no pun intended) for all of us in connecting and building strong relationships. 3. Take It as a Source of Honest Feedback Honesty can never be underrated. Take their criticisms as a source of reliable, honest feedback, rather than seeing them as uninvited criticisms. At least with them, you know what you see is what you get. I would much rather be out with a directly blunt person than with someone is seemingly nice but is fake. Some people pretend to be nice and supportive in front of you, when in actuality they are not in agreement and they are just concealing their misgivings. I’ve come across a couple of such people, and while the friendship initially starts off on a high note, the revelation of their dishonesty later on disgusts me to no end and puts an abrupt end to the friendship. On the other hand, I have friends who may be uncomfortably blunt when I first know them, but later reveal themselves to be true gems because they are reliable and true to their words. 4. Address Your Discomfort Within Just as their criticisms reflect something about their inner frameworks, our discomfort with their criticisms reflect something about our inner frameworks too, especially if we are bothered about it. If I ever feel uncomfortable about others’ comments, I’ll look within to understand why I’m feeling that way. Chances are, it made me uncomfortable because it has struck a chord with an inner belief. The next step is then on me to discover what it is. This is consistent with everything we face in life too. Sources of discomfort should be seen as a compass for growth. As I shared in one of my quotes in 101 Inspiring Page 163

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
Quotes, “Fear, uncertainty and discomfort are your compasses toward growth”. Ask yourself – Why am I feeling uncomfortable with his/her comment? Why am I unhappy about what he/she just said? What is it about it that is bothering me? Keep asking and drilling down to the root cause. The first set of answers will be directed towards the external world, such as issues with the other person. However, as you keep drilling down, the answers change from outward-directed to inward-directed. This means the discomfort is not because of the person; it’s really because of something in you. It could be a certain belief or a certain similar situation from the past. The final answer should be one which helps you gain closure on your discomfort and helps you to directly act on the situation by your own actions, without expecting anyone else to change. 5. Don’t “Ask” For Their Opinions If You Can’t Take It If you can’t take what the person has to say, then don’t ask for his/her opinion. This includes invitations for opinions, by virtue of just talking on the topic. Critical people like to dispense their opinions even where they are not asked, so just make sure you don’t mention it in front of them. Some of my friends would complain about how their critical friends put them down all the time. Yet for some reason, they keep putting themselves in the receiving end of criticisms after that. In a way it’s probably done subconsciously for validation and acceptance, simply Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com because it’s so hard to get encouragement from critical people. However, the natural reaction of critical people is to criticize, not praise. So if you talk to them about something in hopes they will respond in enthusiasm and encouragement, stop doing it. You have seen their critical behavior in action before, so it shouldn’t surprise you if they continue to dish out criticisms at what you say. Albert Einstein would tell you that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity, and he’s right. If you still insist on putting yourself in the same situation, then you really have no one else to blame but yourself! 6. Ignore Their Comments Below is an insightful story I’ve heard several times before, but never grow tire of: Buddha was well known for his ability to respond to evil with good. There was a man who knew about his reputation and he traveled miles and miles and miles to test Buddha. When he arrived and stood before Buddha, he verbally abused him constantly, he insulted him, he challenged him, he did everything he could to offend Buddha. Buddha was unmoved, he simply turned to the man and said, “May I ask you a question?” The man responded with “Well, what?” Page 164

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Buddha said, “If someone offers you a gift and you decline to accept it to whom then does it belong?” The man said, “Then it belongs to the person who offered it” Buddha smiled, “That is correct. So if I decline to accept your abuse does it not then still belong to you?” The man was speechless and walked away. If you can’t stop them from voicing their opinions, then you have an option of ignoring him. Just as the critical people need to take responsibility for their comments, we have to take responsibility for receiving the negativity too. With every occurrence, there is always the event itself, and our perception of the event. We can’t change how people want to act or say around us, but we can change how we act around them. You always have a choice in how you want to react. If you don’t want to accept the negativity, then just don’t accept it. 7. Show Them Kindness This may be a huge leap forward for some. You are probably wondering: “Why should I be kind to them? They are causing me so much anguish as it is. They most certainly don’t deserve me my kindness!” I watched Peaceful Warrior about half a year ago, and there was a quote I really liked. “The people who are the hardest to love are the ones who need it the most.” I thought this is a very powerful quote. It’s true, isn’t it? If you think about Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com it, why are the critical people so critical? Why is it so hard for them to be positive? Why are they so scarce with their emotions? It’s because they lack it themselves. This is why they are not able to offer it to others. And if they are so critical to others, chances are they treat themselves with the same, if not higher, level of criticalness. They aren’t even giving themselves the love they desire. Treat them with kindness. Drop them a compliment. Give them a smile. Say hi. Ask them out for a meal. Help them out in areas you know they can benefit from your help. Get to know them personally. Don’t judge the effectiveness of your actions by their initial reactions. They may react adversely at first, but that’s because they are caught off guard by your behavior. Likelihood is, they are wary because they have rarely been treated in this manner. Just continue on with your kindness, and soon enough they will react with positivity too. While the effects may not be immediate and it may just be a small improvement in your eyes, in their universe it’s a huge shift. And through time, your relationship with the person will evolve into a different one altogether. I wouldn’t recommend responding to critical people with criticism because it’s just going to drain both of you. Imagine going into a 1-1 fist fight with someone who is heavily decked with ammunition and armor. A critical person will naturally have a barrier erected and all ready to lash out verbal attacks where needed. Trying to initiate an attack will just leave both of you heavily wounded at the

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end. Not to mention, create a big dent in the relationship too. 8. Avoid Them Where all else fails, simply avoid them altogether. Reduce contact, limit conversations with him/her, hang out with others if it’s a group outing, or as a last resort - cut him/her out of your life. Even if both of you are from the same team and in the same workplace, you can’t be working with each other 24/7. Use a combination of all 7 approaches above in the times you absolutely have to interact, then just steer clear of him/her during the other times. I have a friend who is particularly critical. Being around her feels suffocating. No matter what I talk about, she’d have a way to add a negative slant. For example, if I’m sharing about something I’m excited over, she’d reply with some lackluster comment, about how it’s not such a big deal or it’s just normal. In our day-to-day conversations, she barely has anything encouraging or positive to say, choosing to focus on the “bad” things. Even when it comes to seeking solace, it’s hard to get an empathetic response. Half the time, I feel like I need to ready myself for a negative comment. Because of this, she has been repelling her friends, including me, over the years. Sometimes it may just be that both of you are not compatible as friends at this phase of your lives, and that both of you are better off apart from each other. If the relationship is causing you anguish, then do yourself and the person a favor by breaking it off.

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Balanced Parenting/Family

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44.

Top 10 Essential Family Values

This is a post by Sherri Kruger of Zen Family Habits. Follow her @ZenFamilyHabits to get all the important advice about parenting and happy family life. Here are my top 10 essential family values. 1. Belonging. It is important that each member of my family feel that they are loved, that they belong and that they matter. Being a cohesive family could mean that you spend every spare minute together doing family activities but keep in mind that everyone is different. Creating a strong family unit is great but each person should be allowed the space and freedom to explore the activities they think they may enjoy. People are more courageous and more willing to take chances if they know they have a safe place to come back to when things don’t quite work out. Coming together for special occasions and holidays and just spending time together as a family is what helps build that sense of belonging. How do you define family values? In our home family values are rules or ideals that, as a family, we agree to live by and stay true to. The list of essential family values would be a mile long no doubt and the top 10 lists for each family would be as unique as the one that came up with it. Having strong well defined family values helps solidify the foundation for a strong, tight knit family. When cultivated long enough this closeness provides a soft place to fall when life doesn’t go according to plan. Strong and consistent family values are important in building trust and confidence in each family member. Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com 2. Flexibility. I’m all for order, schedules and structure in my family to help maintain some level of sanity. But too much structure and the unwillingness to give a little can result in a lot of unhappiness and resentment. The more flexibility you have in decision making, for example, the happier your family will be for it. Imagine one member of the family always thinking they are right and enforcing their way of doing things. This certainly wouldn’t lead to much happiness within the family unit. 3. Respect. This is a bit more difficult to define. For my family, to respect each other is to take feelings, thoughts, Page 168

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needs, and preferences in to account when making decisions. It also means acknowledging and valuing everyone’s thoughts, feelings and contributions to the family as a whole. Respect is indeed earned and there is a very fine line between it and fear. The only way to earn and keep someone’s respect is to first show them respect yourself. Respect as an important family value will extend out of the home and into school, work or other social settings. 4. Honesty. This is the foundation of any relationships that are meant to last. Mother-daughter, husband-wife, sisterbrother. Without honesty a deeper connection will not form and certainly won’t last. Encourage honesty by practicing understanding and respect when someone tells you of their wrong doings. If we lose it and get angry when we’re told what has happened the other person will be more likely to hide it from you next time simply to avoid the disrespect. 5. Forgiveness. Forgiving people who have wronged you is an important choice to make. Yes, forgiveness is a choice. It is not some feeling that randomly washes over you when you feel the other person has “suffered” enough. This can be tough since a lot of us tend to equate forgiveness with saying what you did was okay. They are not the same thing. Holding a grudge, is not conducive to a close family with mutual respect. Keep in mind that everyone makes mistakes, we all occasionally say things we wish we hadn’t and none of us are perfect. Refer to value 3 communication. Get issues out Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com in the open, gain some understanding and move on. Life is too short. 6. Generosity. Giving without thinking “what’s in it for me” is an important value for anyone wanting to be a responsible, contributing member to society. Through generosity we build empathy since we tend to think more about what people want or need. Being generous doesn’t mean simply handing over money to someone in need. It can also include giving your time, love, attention or even some of your possessions. 7. Curiosity. Children have a natural curiosity. If you’ve ever watched a toddler even for a couple of minutes you’d see that quality shine through. For some that curiosity wanes. I think it’s important to encourage and push our kids and even ourselves to be curious about things. Rarely should we ever just take someone’s word for it. How do we spark our curiosity? Ask questions. Lots of them. Read about a topic you know very little about and don’t be afraid to say you don’t know. Critical thinking is an important skill that can be learned and developed through exploring your own curiosity. 8. Communication. Communication is as much an art as it is a science. A failure to communicate will likely lead to unhappiness and misunderstandings. Small issues grow into larger ones and when they eventually boil to the surface it’s unlikely they will be resolved calmly. Communication is a lot more than simply speaking your mind. In addition to spoken words, communication also extends to tone, Page 169

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volume, expression, eye contact, body language and effective listening. I would argue that this is the most important value for families to have. When people feel they can talk openly about anything – hopes, dreams, fears, successes or failures – all without judgment, it’s encouraging and strengthens the bond. 9. Responsibility. We’d all like to be considered responsible people. Some of us are and some of us are decidedly less so. Responsibility is something that is learned. As a child you may have been shown how to put your toys away after playing, how to tidy your room or how and when to feed the dog. This sense of responsibility extends well into adulthood. An adult who has an intrinsic sense of responsibility doesn’t require a lot of prodding to show up to work on time, return phone calls or meet deadlines. Setting out individual responsibilities for family members works to instill this quality in everyone. 10. Traditions. This is by far the most fun for me. I think traditions are what make a family unique, they draw people together and create a sense of belonging for everyone. Traditions don’t need to be expensive, elaborate or a lot of work. It can be something as simple as a lazy Saturday morning sipping coffee and chatting or an annual fondue dinner to ring in the new year. If you don’t currently have traditions in your family, create them! All traditions started with one person why not let your family traditions start with you? Get creative and have fun. So those are my top 10 family values. Of course there are others I’ll be incorporating but these are the most important to me.

Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com

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45.

10 Practical Productivity Tips for Parents
done. it’s definitely a difficult choice to make. It gets especially frustrating when you work from home or if you are a stay-at-home mom. I know what I am talking about because I am a mom of 18-months old twins and I’ve been working from home for over two years now. It seems that being productive and being a parent are two things that do not go together well. Kids need our attention at all times (especially babies and toddlers) and they do not understand the statement “Mommy/Daddy needs to work now to pay for our life” or “Mommy/Daddy has to do some work around the house. I cannot play with you right now.” The best case scenario is your child will get fussy and cranky then won’t let you do anything. The worst case scenario is they will get into trouble and get hurt right at the moment when I take 2 minutes to put some clothes in the washer (this is the worst thing that has happened to me so far). It feels that being productive is just not worth all the trouble. This experience has allowed me to discover a few practical tips that work for my family and that let me and my husband (he works from home too) be productive and get things done without going crazy. Here they are, 10 tips that literally save my life and I hope that they can be helpful to you too:

This is a post by Anastasiya Goers of Balance In Me. Please follow me @balanceinme and keep your life balanced.

If you are a parent, then you probably face a dilemma between spending time with your kids or getting things Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com

1. Stop multi-tasking. It might sound tempting to work while you are watching over the kids but this is Page 171

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not a good idea. Children know when you are faking and when you are not genuine in your desire to play with them. I don’t know why but all children (at least the ones that I know of) get extremely fussy and cranky when you are trying to do something important and pretend that you are playing with them. If you have to play with your children then do it genuinely and enjoy every moment that you spend with them. When they are playing on their own or sleeping then you can use all your mental power to get things done. 2. Have fun breaks. Usually kids can play on their own for at least 20 minutes and after that they get bored. Schedule fun activities with your children at least every 20 minutes and do something exciting. Go out and play in the yard, have a tea break with your daughter’s favorite doll or teddy-bear, dance, or do any other activities that your children like to do. Your mind will have a break and your child will have something to look forward to. 3. Have a schedule. This is especially true for little babies. It’s important to establish a regiment that will be comfortable for your kids and that will help you plan your day accordingly. A lot of parents do not have this regiment and their kids go to bed only when the parents think that they are tired, they wake up at different times every morning and they are fed when they seem like they are hungry. Not only does it makes your life more complicated, it also makes your child unorganized and undisciplined. My girls Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com always go to bed at the same time at night, they wake up at the same time in the morning, they have their nap at the same time every day and they eat at the same time as well. Parents are no different, they need to have schedule too. Plan what to do and when you need to do it and follow your plan. For example, my morning hours are devoted to exercise, I start fixing supper at the same time every day and I have a few hours set aside for productive work. 4. Define your goal for the day. It’s crucially important to know what you need to do. You can’t be productive if you cannot concentrate on one single most important thing that needs to be done during the day. In the morning define your goal for the day and use every opportunity to reach this goal by the evening. 5. Do things with your kids. Even though I do not recommend multi-tasking there are still some things that you can do while you are watching over your kids. The key is to do only fun things with your kids. I usually do 5-10 minute workouts when I play with my babies. They think that sit-ups and push-ups are funny and yoga poses are just hilarious for them. One day I let one of my girls pull the clothes out of the dryer while I was folding them and it was the best thing ever. Be creative, do not be afraid to improvise and let your children help you and have fun. 6. Devote certain hours to your kids only. Your children must feel that they are loved and that you Page 172

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are willing to spend time with them. Give your undivided time and attention to your kids and make it a rule in your house. For example, every evening you do things only with your kids (no work, no chores) or every Sunday is a family fun day. Your kids will be looking forward to this moment and they will let you get more things done at other times. 7. Hire some help. It’s a wide-spread misconception that if you work from home then you do not need to send your kids to daycare and do not need to hire a baby-sitter. If you are serious about what you are doing then you should definitely consider some help. I personally do not want to send my babies to daycare because they would pick up all kinds of viruses from other children and I am not even going to touch on the subject of how extremely expensive it is. Our neighbor’s daughter comes to babysit once or twice a week and she plays with our girls while my husband and I work. Some churches also offer Mother’s Mornings Out – it’s like a daycare but only for 2 or 3 hours a few times a week. Usually it’s pretty reasonable too. Even if you do not have the money you can team up with other mommies or some Mr. moms in your area and have an at-homedaycare once or twice a week. 8. Split responsibilities with your spouse. As I have already mentioned my husband and I work from home and that is why both of us need some free time to get things done. A few months ago we adopted a new strategy that has proven to be the most Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com productive for us. Basically we divide our work week into daddy’s and mommy’s baby-duty days. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are my husband’s work days, and Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays are my work days. Even if you do not work from home you can still split responsibilities. When daddy goes to the gym he takes the kids to the gym daycare with him and when mommy goes out for a cup of tea with her friend she takes the children with her. 9. Use every minute of time wisely when your kids sleep. If your children are still taking their afternoon naps then this is a golden opportunity for you to get things done. My children take 1 two-hour nap every day and that’s the time when I can do things. Depending on your children’s schedule you can work at night after they are already in bed or early in the morning while they are still asleep. This is the reason why it’s so important to have your kids on schedule. 10.Be smart with your time. You need to use every minute of your free time effectively that is why you need to cut down on “cluttering” activities. Do not watch TV, limit web surfing, Twitter, Facebook and other social media, talk on the phone or send an emails, basically do only important things when you have free time. Even when you are playing with your children you can listen to a podcast or audio book and sometimes even read a book or a magazine. It’s not multi-tasking in my opinion. You are teaching your kids the importance of reading and listening. Page 173

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I love being a parent and I love spending time with my kids. I am sure that you love being with your kids too and you do not have to make the choice of whether to get things done or be a good parent. You can have the best of both worlds by maximizing your productivity with simple changes in your life that I’ve described above. Let me know if these tips worked for you and I am more than ready to hear about how you stay a productive parent.

Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com

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46.

4 Parents Share Their Top 3 Pieces of Parenting Advice

This is a post by Sherri Kruger of Zen Family Habits. Follow her @ZenFamilyHabits to get all the important advice about parenting and happy family life. Nobody said parenting was easy. When you first find out you’re going to be a parent you’re thrilled, excited, and perhaps a wee bit nervous. There is a lot of pressure on parents today to be perfect, to be everything to everybody and to keep it all together all the time. Honestly, I think this is an impossible standard to live up to. Becoming a parent for the first time can be intimidating. Even now with two young kids I find myself constantly second guessing much of what I do as they each move through the various stages of growing up. I figure I’m not alone. To get other perspectives and different takes on parenting I asked 4 parents to share their top three pieces of parenting advice. I feel each of these parents get it that every child and situation is different. With that in mind, you should do what works for you. Whether your parental status is newbie, to-be or veteran I’m certain a lot of the statements to follow will resonate with you. Here is the best parenting advice from 4 parenting experts themselves. Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com Page 175

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Vered – Is a professional blogger and a mom of two. 1. Do not be a perfectionist. A strange piece of advice from someone like me who obviously strives for perfection, BUT believe it or not, since my first child was born ten years ago I have learned to relax my standards A LOT, especially when they were little. Kids bring so much joy into your life, but also a lot of mess. Whatever you do with kids, if you strive for perfection, you will fail, and make you and the child miserable. For example, when baking with my kids, I have learned to really lower my expectations about the final product. I don’t care anymore if it turns out great or not and instead I focus on the time spent with my kids. 2. Allow them as much independence as you possibly can. This isn’t easy, because we live in a society that really limits what kids are allowed to do compared to our own childhoods. My childhood was in the seventies and I was free to roam the streets and play with my friends every day after school, as long as I was back home in time for dinner. I don’t give my kids the same amount of freedom, and although some say that parents today are overprotective and that the media is causing unjustified hysteria, I just can’t take the risk, however small, of abduction. But that’s for a different post. There are however other ways you can encourage independence, from letting children choose their own clothes to encouraging them to place their own order at a restaurant, and more. The basic rule: if a child can Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com do something by herself, even if she won’t do it as good or as fast as you, let her do it. 3. Be present. This is the one I struggle with myself. I am very busy building my freelance blogging business, and although my kids are older now (8 and 10) and don’t need me to play with them the way I did just a couple of years ago, they still need – and deserve – my undivided attention when they come to me for help with homework or to tell me about their day. But when I’m writing, it’s very hard for me to drop everything and listen – really listen – to my kids. I’m making a conscious effort to do it anyway – to fully devote the morning hours to work, and then to accept that the afternoon is when my kids are my first priority and so less work will get done. Tsh – Writes at Simple Mom and is a mom of two. 1. Enjoy your children in each stage. Don’t waste time wishing they were older or older. They grow up so fast; it’s a shame to waste time wishing they were potty trained when they’re six months old, able to make their own lunches at three, or wishing they were already in kindergarten at four. Savor the stages. 2. Follow the theory of Occam’s Razor, which states, “When you have two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is the better.” In parenting, I apply this to mean keep it simple. Don’t buy a wipes warmer — hold the wipe in your hand for a few seconds to warm it up. Don’t create some complicated chore system that neither you or your child can understand Page 176

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— simply give them assignments and privileges for accomplishing them. You don’t need an expensive system that helps you teach your children to read — read to them all the time, and teach them phonics. All things being equal, always choose the simpler option. It’ll save your sanity. 3. You are the best expert on your child. Read those wiser than you, and glean advice from parents you admire, but at the end of the day, do what feels best in your gut. When you truly have your child’s best interest in mind, you’ll know what to do. Don’t expend energy on needless guilt or theories that just don’t make sense for you or your family’s value system. There’s no better expert on your specific children than you, their parent. Dustin – Writes at Engaged Marriage and is dad of two (and one on the way). 1. Your kids don’t come first. Your faith and your marriage must come first. A healthy marriage feeds a healthy home life. 2. Be consistent. Children learn primarily through your example. You need to send a consistent message of order and discipline for them to learn from. 3. Have fun. Don’t forget that they are kids. Tickle them, play catch, lay on the floor with them and watch cartoons. Don’t take life too seriously and miss out on the joys of childhood. Samantha – Writes at Mama Notes and is a mom of one. 1. Don’t waste your money on a lot of toys. My son – 11 months old- very rarely plays with “toys.” He much prefers tupperware, kitchen utensils, shoes, boxes and anything he’s not suppose to get into. Even as kids get older, kids don’t need as many toys as society tells us they do. Keep your life simple and encourage creativity in your children with basic classic toys that will last forever. 2. Do your research and educate yourself. I believe it’s our job as parents to educate ourselves on important parenting issues. We can ask our doctors what they think and get expert advice, but ultimately we’re the parent and we’re the one making the best decision for our child. Don’t rely on outside sources to make important decisions for you. 3. Trust your mommy (or daddy) gut. I really believe that we all have a “gut” and we need to listen to it. If you walk into a day care and something tells you it’s just not right, then listen to that something. If your child is acting weird or you feel like he could be sick, then trust that feeling even if your doctor says he’s fine. Trust your gut. Trust yourself. Trust your heart. My thoughts I would echo the advice given from every parent here. My own three pieces of advice would be:

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1. Don’t live through a view finder. It’s tempting to want to capture every moment on pictures or video but you can get so wrapped up in trying to get the “perfect shot” that you miss the moment. Take pictures to capture memories but lower the camera to really see the look on your child’s face, to get on the swings with them, or run and splash in the water. 2. Write things down because you will forget them. I know I’ve said it a few times already myself “oh I’ll remember when that happened” only to have the date quickly escape me. On the back of art work write the date it was done, the age of your child and other details to help you remember what was going on. Keep a journal and capture random activities or funny things that happened throughout the day. Your kids will enjoy reading about the cute and funny things they did as kids. 3. Just be. There is no such thing as the perfect parent. I think a very large majority of parents do the best with what they know at the time. No parent has it together 100% of the time. When you’re feeling frazzled, like you’re failing horribly remember you’re not alone. Take a deep breath, get on the floor with your little ones and just be. I want to sincerely thank Vered, Tsh, Dustin and Samantha for sharing their best pieces of parenting advice. Thank you all!

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Financial Balance and Career

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47.

Should Your Work Be Your Obsession?

This is a post by Ali Hale of Aliventures. Follow her @alihale or on facebook to get all her tips n how to get more from life. If you’re following me on Twitter, you’ll know I’m doing a lot of creative work at the moment. The next few months are a good time for me to focus hard on my novel, and I probably sound quite obsessed at the moment – with word counts, hours spent, plot problems resolved… So I’ve been thinking about (mainly creative creative) work and obsession. I wrote about this last week, in Loving Your Work: Don’t Be Obsessive, Be Tough. Several people chimed in with comments, particularly about this paragraph: Although we have terms like workaholic to describe people who fall into this trap with career-related work, I’m not sure that we have a corresponding way to talk about artists and creative types who succumb to obsession. We might feel that musicians, painters and writers should approach their craft in an obsessive way: we think this is good for them and for the work. And then, basking in the glow of everyone agreeing with me (ah, if only this would always happen in real life…), I read Jonathan Mead’s post How to Make a Living Out Of Your Obsession (over on Productive Flourishing), where he wrote:

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Each day now, I actually wake up excited to start work. No, I’m not kidding. I eat and breathe what I do. For me, there are no boundaries. And the only way I’ve done that is by being obsessed with what I do. And this is supposed to be a good thing? There were plenty of comments over on Jonathan’s post in favour. But I’m still very unconvinced. Yep, I can see why Jonathan’s touting obsession (aside: is this the new “passion” in the personal development blogosphere?) but I’m not with him on it. Obsession Can Be Good (in the Short Term) Now, I can see why “being obsessed with what [you] do” could be helpful. You might get some useful benefits like: Concrete Focus If you’re obsessed, it’s pretty darn easy to focus. You’re not going to be fighting constant impulses to stop what you’re doing. You won’t be easily distracted. You’ll wake up focused on doing your work, and other considerations – like the laundry or the housework or that cute guy/girl at the gym – aren’t going to be any distraction. Easy Energy Jonathan says he wakes up excited about work, and I believe him: I get a real sense of his energy and enthusiasm in his writing. An obsession can give you the energy to jump out of bed, to power through the day, to carry on even when you’d normally be flagging. If Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com you’re obsessed, maybe you don’t need to worry about trying to do your good creative work at your best times of day – you’ll just carry on going. Getting Into “Flow” I don’t manage this all that often with fiction writing, but it’s great when I do: I lose track of time, I’m very much in the moment, and I forget about all those nagging little questions like “what’s for dinner?” and “what’s happening on Twitter?” I tune out conversations, music, traffic noise. I can do something similar with a book I’m really into, or (less laudably) with computer games. However … these benefits are short term. Sure, when I’m really into my novel, I’m keen to get up and get on with work; I find myself focusing more easily and achieving flow more often. But I don’t spend an entire week, or even an entire day, writing fiction. If I did, I’d quickly get exhausted. I’d run out of energy and ideas, and the writing would begin to feel much more like a chore than a treat. Obsession Won’t Work Long Term Maybe it’s fun to be obsessed. Maybe it makes your work feel terribly important, giving you a nice masochistic blend of stress and self-righteousness. Over the long term, though, being obsessed isn’t good for you, it isn’t good for your work, and it isn’t good for the people around you. Unbalanced Life

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Being obsessed with something means, by definition, that you’re focusing on it to the exclusion of pretty much everything but the bare essentials in the rest of your life. When you’re obsessed with your work, you might not sleep enough, eat healthily, or take enough exercise (I know my exercise levels drop off dramatically when I’m “too busy” with my terribly important and engaging work…) Selfishness Closely related to this lack of balance is selfishness. Putting your work on a pedestal because it’s your obsession might feel noble, but it’s not. Obsession is a convenient excuse to make your work the focus of your life and the lives of everyone around you. (And yeah, I’m guilty of this; when I’m busy with work, Paul ends up doing more of the housework to support me. I’d rather write than clean, and it’s very tempting to take advantage.) No Distance from Work If you can’t ever get any distance from your work, then both you and the work will suffer. I take holidays from writing: we’re planning a walking break over Easter when I won’t touch a computer for a few days. I’ll have whole days when I write very little. I need this time and space to recharge my batteries. I also need it to get some critical perspective on what I’m writing. If I was properly obsessed with my work, I wouldn’t be able to leave it alone. Burn Out Ultimately, obsession leads to burn out. Working too hard for too long isn’t good for you – even if you love your work. If you’re going to have innovative ideas in your business, if you’re going to have that spark of creative energy for your art, then you simple cannot be obsessive about your work. Sure, you can have whole mornings or afternoons or days or weekends when you throw yourself into a project – but then take it easy. Let it go. Reconnect with the rest of your life. Of course your work matters. But so does your health, your relationships, your happiness. In the end, you are in charge. If it feels like your life is being dictated by your work, or that your work has become your entire life, you need to pull back. Take a whole weekend off. Do some deep, quiet thinking – going beyond those rushing, circling thoughts which come with obsession. I don’t want to make a living out of my obsession. I want to have my life, and have it fully: I want to love my work, but not to be defined by it.

Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com

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48.

Wealth vs. Income: What Does it Mean to Be Rich?

This is a post by Jeffrey Tang of The Art of Great Things. Follow him @jeffreytang to learn his tips and habits for effective living. A few years ago, a financial advisor treated my co-workers and me to lunch – one of those deals where you get a free meal in exchange for listening to a sales pitch for financial planning services. The central theme of the advisor’s pitch was: “Start planning and saving for retirement now! The sooner you get started, the more secure you’ll be in the future.” Good advice, to be sure. But none of us left that day feeling particularly motivated to consider the prospect of retirement. And I suspect we aren’t the only ones to feel less-than-anxious about the far-off land of retirement. Why? Most people aren’t concerned about what money means in the far, far future – they’re concerned about how money affects their lifestyle right now. Bottom line: we don’t want to be rich; we want to be rich now. But “rich” means different things to different people. One person might be driven to create a fortune, while another would rather live freely on a tight budget. Each one considers him/herself to be rich, and they’re both right. Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com Page 183

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Force these two people to switch places, however, and they’ll both be miserable. To be “rich,” you not only need to have money – you also need to follow a financial path that makes you happy. That requires a decision now, rather than later. It is absolutely something that affects your lifestyle today. This is, in my opinion, the first question you must ask yourself before making any sort of financial plan: Is accumulating a lot of wealth one of my goals, or am I happy with securing a steady income? There’s nothing wrong with either option, but they will lead you down radically different paths. The Path of Wealth Your heroes are people like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates. You not only want to have money – you want to have more than you could possibly spend in a lifetime. Some people may think your goals are shallow, but you understand that wealth is a tool, and it’s how you use it that counts. On the path of wealth, generating money is of your primary goals. You choose jobs based on how they’ll help you develop the skills and resources needed to make money, even if you’re not particularly interested in the job itself. You’re willing to spend a lot of time on making money now (and possibly for years to come), in the hopes of creating (or investing in) an immensely profitable and scalable business. Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com Often you create success, reap the benefits, and move on to the next project. As you walk the path of wealth, you come to understand that wealth encompasses more than cash. You’re also compelled to create products, businesses, and innovations that make an impact on the world, that create an enormous amount of value – which, of course, usually has the side effect of making you (deservedly) rich. Your legacy is one of size, breadth, and reach. Sadly, your brand of life isn’t as socially acceptable today as it once was. People may be suspicious of you simply because you have so much money, and many will presume to tell you what you ought to do with the wealth you’ve accumulated. Your task, then, is not only learning how best to make money, but also how best to spend it. The Path of Income I personally walk the path of income. Although I wouldn’t mind being wealthy, I’m not nearly as excited by the idea of being (financially) rich as I am by the idea of being financially free. I am content to make an “average” income for the rest of my life, so long as I can live my life in whatever way I choose. I’m more likely to start small, personal, but generally lessscalable businesses that offer a modest income and a lot of flexibility in time and place.

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My financial focus is on reaching a “critical mass” of steady income that allows me to live comfortably and that, preferably, can be nurtured from anywhere in the world. Once I reach this critical level of income, I’m happy to leave financial growth alone and turn my time and attention onto things I find enjoyable, interesting, or compelling. I enjoy the idea of reaching my financial “endgame” quickly, even if that endgame doesn’t involve a large bank account. Like those who walk the path of wealth, I recognize the importance of making an impact and leaving a legacy. Unlike them, however, I’m likely to make my impact in a smaller, more personal, more focused manner. I’m more likely to be a thought leader than a market leader. I create change by finding ways around the money barrier, and because of this, I am often more agile. Even though the path of income is popular nowadays, few people are willing to fully embrace it, because they’re unable to let go of their fleeting desires for the path of wealth. The challenge for many of us is to weigh our values, make a decision, and never look back. Isn’t there a happy medium? Yes and no. There are degrees of financial need; for example, someone walking the path of income with a family to support would need to focus on money for a lot longer than someone who’s content to walk the road alone. For some wealth-seekers, creating a $100 million fortune is good enough; others seek to break records. And there are places where the path of wealth and the path of income intersect. No matter which path we choose, we must eventually learn that money is a means to an end, and our choice is whether to leave a legacy by using money directly (funding cancer research) or indirectly (volunteering for disaster relief). In that sense, yes, there is a happy medium. But the crucial difference is in the focus of each path. On the path of wealth, making money is a primary focus. You want your efforts to translate into dollars, and the careful growth of your finances is something you truly care about. You are to be commended. On the path of income, however, you care about money only as a platform from which to launch the rest of your life. Your emphasis is on creating this platform quickly, then moving on with your life. If your efforts make you wealthy, great – if not, you’re still happy. You are also to be commended. Here’s what’s important: both paths are honorable, though they are not equally popular. We must decide whether having more wealth gives us pride or weighs us down – and the answer will be different for each of us.

Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com

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49.

My Ten Commandments of Personal Finance
Maybe you heard about that infamous Kelton study done a couple years ago that found that Americans could identify more ingredients in a Big Mac than the individual Ten Commandments. To wit: eighty percent of Americans knew there were two all-beef patties in a Big Mac, but only 6 in 10 could identify “Thou shalt not kill” as one of the Ten Commandments. My anecdotal research verifies the Kelton study. I know a Big Mac has two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions — all on a sesame seed bun, no less. But I can only name eight of the Ten Commandments. (Don’t tell my third grade catechism teacher, Sister Nora.) I wonder if Sister Nora would feel better if I told her I can name all ten of my Personal Finance Ten Commandments? I faithfully try to follow these little nuggets of wisdom every day in order to make my personal financial life run as smoothly as possible: 1. Spend less than you earn. This commandment is number one for a reason: Those that follow it are destined for financial freedom. Be a disciple of frugality. Remember, the word disciple is derived from its root word “discipline.” There is a lesson there for those who are willing to take it.

This is a post by Len Penzo of Len Penzo dot Com. Follow him @LenPenzo to keep your finances under control.

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2. Thou shalt remember to always pay thine self first. Before you pay for anything, be it the utility bills, mortgage, groceries, etc., you need to save a portion of your income. Start by taking advantage of your employer’s matching contribution to your retirement savings plan, and also building an emergency fund amounting to at least three months of expenses. Use automatic deductions and start slowly, then gradually increase your savings rate and watch your savings grow. 3. Behold the power of compound interest, the most powerful force in the universe. The greatest lesson you can ever bestow upon your children is the power of compound interest. Working teenagers, especially, have the opportunity to set themselves up for life with relatively little income, assuming they have the financial discipline to let their accrued savings grow over time. That being said, the benefits of compound interest aren’t limited to kids and teenagers, but they do have the most to gain as the longer the time horizon, the greater the power. I wish I had taken this more seriously when I was a teenager making pretty good coin at the grocery store. 4. Thou shalt always track thine household income and expenses. Trying to get a handle on your personal finances without knowing how much money you are earning and where it is all going is tantamount to trying to drive with a blindfold around your eyes. Those who are deep in debt have run Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com their car off the highway. Take the blindfold off. If your destination is good financial discipline, you’ll need to see where you are going so you can get back on track. 5. Thou shalt understand the difference between a want and a need. Being able to distinguish between wants and needs is directly tied to your ability to accept personal responsibility. When taken down to the most basic level, I will argue that all of us have only four or five primary needs. Those needs are food/water, clothing, shelter, transportation (for most of us), and health care. Everything else is a want. 6. Don’t be a financial jellyfish; Remember the Budget and keep it holy. Before anyone can expect to successfully manage their household finances, they have to commit to following the household budget. Following the household budget requires the ability to exercise self-control. Unfortunately for many people, asking them to exercise self-control can be akin to waiting for a jellyfish to spontaneously generate a spine. It’s easy sticking to the household budget — as long as you refuse to be a financial jellyfish. 7. Thou shalt avoid paying interest. This is my philosophy: When it comes to personal finance, unless it is the family home, if you can’t afford to buy something you want, then you must save for it — that includes a car. You can’t afford to buy a new car, you say? Page 187

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Save up for a nice used one. Cars lose roughly half their value soon after they are driven off the lot. The only exceptions to this rule that I would consider are starting up a business and/or paying for higher education. 8. Ensure thine spouse is involved in the financial decision process. It is absolutely critical that households with married couples communicate. Keep your lines of communication open, regularly assess and update your goals and progress, and be willing to compromise. Better yet, split up the financial duties. In our house the Honeybee and I work as a team; I perform the duties of the Household CEO while she handles the Household CFO tasks. 9. Blessed are those who understand that high wages do not beget financial freedom. A high household income can never be assumed to be a guarantor of financial freedom. The good news is that financial freedom can be achieved no matter what your household income happens to be. It is a state of mind, as much as it is a state of being. Those that understand this have a much easier time keeping their personal finances under control than those who don’t. 10. Thou shalt undertake your chosen vocation for love, not money. Most successful people are successful because they love what they do for a living. Life is too short to be doing something solely because it pays a good wage. We achieve satisfaction at our vocation, whatever it may be, through a job well done. For most people to be able to do this on a consistent basis, they have to love what they do. For example, if you study to be an engineer solely because engineers make good money, I guarantee you that in the long run you would have been better off doing something you truly loved. So do what you love to do and the money will follow. I promise.

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50.

The 12-Step Get-Out-of-Debt Program
It’s aimed not at people who have their finances together and are just trying to pay off a credit card or two. It’s aimed at those who have trouble finding any extra money to pay off debts, who seem to find themselves getting deeper and deeper into debt, and don’t know how to stop it. In other words, it’s a bit of an emergency program. Disclaimer: I’m not a financial advisor, and if you are in need of one, I suggest you find a qualified advisor. My only qualification is that I’ve made great strides in getting my finances under control, in starting an emergency fund, in paying all my bills on time, in not getting further into debt, and in eliminating my debt (I should be done by the end of this year). This program is based on my experiences, and on the large number of books and websites I’ve read.

This is a post by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. Follow him @zen_habits and keep your life simple and productive.

Debt is a major problem for a lot of people these days. The problem is, even if they know they want to get out of it, they have a hard time figuring out how to start. If you fit this description, this 12-Step program spells it out for you. Now, there isn’t one way to get out of debt, and the best program should be tailored to each person’s individual situation. But if you feel like you just don’t know how to begin, this program is designed to give you a sort of guide — one that should be adjusted to fit your financial situation.

The Zen Habits 12-Step Get-Out-of-Debt Program 1. Acknowledge the problem. The first step is admitting you have a problem. The first week, all you have to do is say to yourself, “I have a problem with debt. I got into this because I spend money I don’t have. But I believe that there’s a way out, and I can do this. I can control my spending, make a plan, and slowly get out of debt.” That’s a major step. Now set aside just 30-60 minutes a week to deal with your finances — make it a set day and time, and don’t let yourself miss this appointment. Page 189

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The Book of Wisdom: 50 Ideas for the All-Around Balanced Life
2. Stop digging. If you’re in a hole, the first step is to stop digging, and that’s what you’re going to do this second week. For 30 days, see if you can stop any non-essential spending. If you have a major problem with credit cards, cut them up. If you’re not so bad with credit cards, at least put them away and don’t buy stuff online for one month. What’s essential? Obviously your bills, housing, auto, gas, groceries … that kind of stuff. Non-essential? Clothing, CDs, DVDs, books, magazines, gadgets … you know what I mean. Just 30 days. After that, you can decide how much to spend on these things. 3. Make small cutbacks. This third week, take a look at things you normally buy and see if you can cut out a few of them, or spend less on them. Groceries? See if you can buy house brands instead of name brands. Coffee? Make it yourself at home instead of buying out. Lunch? Try packing it to work instead of eating out. Add up what your cutbacks will save you this month. 4. Start an emergency fund. This fourth week, set up a savings account, if you don’t have one already, for an emergency fund. Now take the amount you saved in Step 3 (and even in Step 2 if you think you can make them last for awhile) and set up a regular automatic deposit from your checking to this emergency fund savings account for this amount. It’s important that before you start paying off debt, you have at least a small emergency fund. Aim for $1,000 at first, and you can grow that later. The reason: if Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com unexpected expenses come up, and you don’t have an emergency fund, you will skip your debt payments to pay for the unexpected expenses. The emergency fund protects your debt payments. 5. Take inventory. OK, this is a step that we don’t like to take. But take a deep breath. You need to do this. Remember what you said in Step 1? You can do this. This fifth week, set up a simple spreadsheet. In one column, list all of your debts — credit cards, medical bills, auto loan, etc. You can leave out your mortgage, but put everything else. In the second column, put the amounts you owe for each debt. In the third, put the minimum monthly payment, and put the percentage interest in the fourth column. Total up the second and third columns to see your total debt owed and how much you have to pay, at a minimum, towards debt each month. 6. Make a spending plan. We don’t like to do this step either. But it’s not going to be as painful as we think. This sixth week, set up another simple spreadsheet. In one column, list your monthly bills (rent or mortgage, auto payment, utilities, cable, etc.) — everything that is a regular monthly expense. Then list variable expenses (things that change every month) like groceries, gas, eating out, etc. Later you should add irregular expenses (stuff that comes up once in awhile — less than once a month) such as auto and house maintenance, clothing, insurance, etc. But we won’t get into that now, as we want to keep it simple. In the second column, put down the Page 190

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amounts for each. Be sure to put enough for things like gas and groceries, as you don’t want to be short. Be sure to also include your minimum debt payments and your emergency fund deposit. Now, list your income sources and monthly amounts. There. You’ve got a temporary spending plan (you’ll want to add the irregular expenses later). Now, if the expenses are greater than the income, you’ll need to make adjustments until the expenses are equal to or less than the income. 7. Control spending. If you’re into your seventh week of this debt plan, you may find it hard to keep track of your spending and ensure that you’re sticking to your spending plan. Here’s the key: first do the emergency fund deposit. Then do the debt payments. Then do your monthly bills. Then withdraw the variable amounts in cash, and put them into separate envelopes. It’s old-fashioned, but it works, as you don’t have to worry about overspending. When your envelope is empty, you can’t spend anymore. Continue to cut back on non-essential spending as much as you can at this point, so you’re able to stick within your spending plan. 8. Pay bills on time. This may be a problem for a lot of people. It’s important, if you want to get out of debt, to start paying all your bills on time. If you follow the payment plan outlined in Step 7, your bills should be paid before you get to any discretionary spending categories. At this point, you want to focus on getting those bills paid on time, and making it a habit. If you Keep your life balanced! www.balanceinme.com have trouble remembering, try one of these methods: 1) pay bills as soon as they come in — take them to the computer and pay them online, or write out a check and prepare the envelope to be mailed the next day; or 2) set up a reminder in your calendar program to tell you when bills are due. 9. Start a snowball. Now that your finances are relatively under control, you can start a debt snowball. At this point, you should have the beginnings of an emergency fund, you should know how much you owe, you should have a temporary spending plan, you should be paying bills on time and controlling your spending. Now you can focus on paying your debt. Here’s what to do: If you can find at least $100 from your spending plan, use that to start your debt snowball. You may need to cut back on discretionary spending (as you did in Steps 2 and 3). Or, once your emergency fund is at $1,000, you can use the amount you were putting into that account for your debt snowball. If you have trouble finding $100 for a debt snowball, you need to look at what other expenses you can cut back on. OK, once you’ve found at least $100 for your debt snowball (and more would be better), take a look at your debt spreadsheet. First, order the debts from the smallest amount owed to the largest. Now, look at your smallest debt owed — you will start by paying $100 (your debt snowball) plus the minimum monthly payment on that debt each month, until the debt is paid off. When the debt is paid off, you will take the Page 191

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amount you were paying on it (let’s say $50 monthly payment plus the $100 debt snowball for a total of $150) and pay it to your next smallest debt, until it is paid off. Continue to pay off your debts, one at a time, until they are all paid off. Now you have a large sum you can put into growing your emergency fund, and funding your irregular expenses, and finally start investing. 10.Find larger cuts. Once you’ve controlled your finances and started your debt snowball, there are ways to increase the snowball — and hence the speed with which you get out of debt. Look at your larger expenses — are there ways you can eliminate or cut back on them? Can you sell your car for a smaller, used model? Can you find a smaller house or apartment to rent? Can you sell your house and rent a cheaper one? Can you get by with one car? Can you eliminate some services you’ve been using? Whatever cuts you make, apply that amount to your debt snowball — don’t spend it. 11.Grow your income. Another great way to get out of debt faster is to make more money. Look at ways you can make money on the side — or ask for a raise or get a better job. Take 30 minutes to brainstorm. Are there ways you can start a small business online? Sell your valuables on eBay? Start freelancing on the side? Get a part-time job? This only has to be temporary, but the more money you make, the faster you’ll get out of debt. Be sure to apply your new income to your debt snowball. 12.Track your progress. On your debt spreadsheet, be sure to update it every payday (or however often you pay debt) so that you can see your shrinking debt amount. You should be able to calculate how many months you have left before you’re completely out of debt. It may be a long ways off, but it’s within sight! 13.Bonus step: Celebrate! It’s important to celebrate, not only when you’re out of debt, but along the way as you eliminate each debt. Have fun! Make this an adventure. It can be amazingly satisfying to stop spending and gain control of your finances instead. Find free entertainment, make it a challenge to be frugal and save money and find cheap used stuff. Pat yourself on the back along the way.

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What’s Next?
If you have found this eBook helpful then I suggest that you keep reading the Balance In Me Blog. You can also contact me via email if you have any questions, suggestions or want me to help you find your inner balance and happiness. You can contact me (Anastasiya) at anastasiya [at] balanceinme [dot] com or balanceinme [at] yahoo [dot] com Here are a few books for you that I have found helpful in my journey towards life balance. Some of these links are affiliate links, so I’ll get a small commission if you buy these books. 1. The Zen Habits Handbook for Life by Leo Babauta 2. The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life by Leo Babauta 3. Zen to Done by Leo Babauta 4. The Power of Less by Leo Babauta 5. Get the Life You Love by Arvind Devalia 6. Your Life. Live It. Love It by Sherri Kruger 7. The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life by Renee Trudeau 8. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin 9. Veronika Decides to Die: A Novel of Redemption (P.S.) by Paulo Coelho 10.The Balanced Mom: Raising Your Kids Without Losing Your Self by Bria Simpson

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