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How to be a Great Teacher

How to be a Successful Teacher

The actions and words of a teacher have the power to influence a student’s life in many ways. For instance, a few words of encouragement from a teacher may help to lay the groundwork for a student’s future success in a particular profession. Furthermore, a teacher who expresses a belief in a young person’s potential could very well motivate that student to aspire to greater accomplishments. In other words, the work of a teacher is filled with significance.

A great teacher possesses many qualities. First, an effective teacher has enthusiasm for the subject he or she is teaching. This is an important quality because most students can immediately detect a teacher’s level of enthusiasm regarding a topic of study. Next, a great teacher doesn’t tell students what to think, but instead guides them through a lesson. Furthermore, an experienced teacher listens to students’ questions and allows them to explore possible answers. A teacher who takes this approach with students is enabling them to develop the invaluable skill of independent thinking. Another important quality found in many wonderful teachers is their ability to encourage students who are struggling with the subject matter. An effective teacher understands the importance of recognizing a student’s academic successes and praises them at all points along the way. A seasoned teacher knows that recognizing a student’s small victories is likely to spur them on to larger ones.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Becoming a Successful Teacher

• Do set aside a block of time each day to assist students who need additional help in class.
• Do set rules of conduct for your classroom and enforce those rules.
• Do dress in a neat, professional manner each day. This shows your students that you take the work of teaching them very seriously.
• Do arrive on time each day to class.
• Do outline for students what will be accomplished in class that day.
• Do share your enthusiasm for the subject you teach via your actions and lessons.
• Do remain open to questions from students about the subject matter you are teaching.
• Do continue to study and read material on the subject matter you teach in order to build upon your store of knowledge.
• Do stock some shelves in your classroom with books and materials on the subject you teach. Be sure to make these materials available to students.
• Do encourage all students in their pursuits to understand the subject you are teaching.
• Do share the successes and struggles you experienced when you first learned the subject that you now teach. For instance, if you teach math share a personal story of how you conquered a puzzling geometry lesson when you were your students’ age.
• Don’t harp on a student’s mistakes. Always focus on their successes.
• Don’t dismiss any student’s question as unimportant.
• Don’t put limits on any student’s potential.
• Don’t let one student’s misbehavior cheat other students out of learning.
• Don’t dress in an unprofessional way. A sloppy appearance conveys a lack of care for your important work.
• Don’t throw away any learning opportunities that your students could benefit from.
• Don’t underestimate the influence of your words when it comes to your students.
• Don’t do your students the tremendous disservice of thinking for them.
• Don’t accept a high level of dedication from one student and a low level from another.
• Don’t leap to conclusions about a student’s capabilities in your class.
• Don’t ever forget the significance of your work.

In many cases, a teacher has a limited amount of time to teach his or her lessons. That’s why it’s important for a teacher to have an organized plan of what he or she wants to accomplish during class time. The following is a sample plan for a teacher to follow.

A Typical Class Period

1. The teacher takes a few moments before class to relax and focus his or her mind on teaching.
2. The teacher takes attendance while students put their book bags down and settle in their seats.
3. The teacher quiets the class and collects the homework from the previous night.
4. The teacher asks if any students have a question about the homework assignment.
5. The teacher reviews what they will discuss that day in class.
6. If there is a test that day, the teacher offers to answer any reasonable questions about the material that students may have. The students then take the test for the class period.
7. If there is not a test that day, the teacher hands out any written materials that the students will need to guide them through the lesson.
8. The teacher then shares his or her lesson with the class allowing for questions from students.
9. When the teacher is finished with the lesson, he or she writes the homework assignment on the board for the students.
10. The students quietly work on the reading and/or homework assignment for the last portion of the class.
11. The teacher quietly answers questions and helps students who are confused about the assignment.
12. Before the class period is over the teacher reminds students of when he or she will be available to help those with further questions. A teacher may want to arrive earlier in the day or stay a little later in the afternoon to provide struggling students with help.

It’s true that an organized plan can prove very helpful to a teacher when it comes to conveying a certain amount of material to students during a semester. On the other hand, an experienced teacher knows that in many instances straying from a planned classroom routine can give way to a great amount of learning. For example, one question from a student during a history lesson could prompt an intriguing class discussion on a particular event in history. Instead of finishing a planned lesson, the students may indeed learn more by sharing their perspectives with one another regarding the historical event. In short, a departure from a teacher’s daily plan can lead to a class discussion that is beneficial to the entire class.

The beginning a school term is an opportunity for a teacher to set the tone of his or her classroom. A teacher can become overwhelmed by all of the things he or she must accomplish in preparing for the school year. Consequently, a basic checklist can prove very useful to teachers.

A Teacher’s Basic Checklist for the Beginning of a School Year

• Is the room decorated in an appealing way that will help to pique the interest of the students?
• Are the textbooks clean and ready to be assigned to students?
• Do I have extra pencils, paper, and other necessary items available to students?
• Have I compiled a list of supplies that students will need for my class?
• Are the desks in the classroom arranged in a way that is conducive to learning?
• Is my desk organized in a way that will help me to be an effective instructor?
• Do I need to purchase any materials that will be helpful to me concerning my teaching responsibilities?
• Are my classroom shelves stocked with books that will help students learn more about the subject I am teaching?
• Are my lesson plans interesting and will they engage my students’ attention?
• Do my lesson plans have a clear focus?
• Have I allotted enough time within my lesson plan to accomplish my goals for the class period?
• Do I have an activity or a story that will help to, ‘break the ice’ with students on the first day of class?
• Do I plan to set up a seating chart for students?
• Do I have the rules of my classroom displayed for students?
• Do I need any extra visual aids that will enhance my lessons?
• What will my policy be on homework assignments?
• What time will I set aside to work with students in need of additional assistance on assignments?
• Do I have a website for the parents of my students that will keep them informed of what we are working on in my class?
• What will my policy be for students who need to make-up tests?
• Do I have a list of books or assignments a student can choose from in order to earn extra credit points for my class?

The teaching profession is full of both joys and responsibilities. It’s important for any person who is considering becoming a teacher to explore his or her level of interest. Am I ready to dedicate my time to helping students learn the subject matter? Do I have the patience needed to work with students of varying abilities? Will I be able to share my enthusiasm for a subject with my students? These are all questions to consider when it comes to a career in teaching. The decision to become a teacher also means that a person is willing to devote ongoing study to a particular subject. Many people who become teachers persist in the work because they enjoy the experience of seeing a student begin to grasp a concept. A dedicated teacher has the honor of contributing to the early education of individuals who could go on to accomplish great things in their fields of endeavor.

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How to Start your own Business

Ideas are the beginning of dreams. Dreams are what make life a thrill to live. The question is how do we turn our ideas into our dreams? Confidence is the way to make any dream come true but it takes knowledge to gain confidence in your idea. Starting your own business is a life defining experience, which is why it’s essential to prepare yourself for this long and exciting journey.

Getting Your Idea Started

At first your idea is probably vague, but it’s important to know that all major companies started with a vague idea. The owners turned their ideas into their dreams. And it’s no secret how they did it. They used five simple rules to give them an advantage over the competition. The five key ingredients to starting any business are dedication, planning, managing, raising capital, and marketing.

Right now your business is still just an idea in your head, but after we are finished, you will have confidence and knowledge to begin the journey from idea to success.

Why Businesses Fail

Statistically speaking, new businesses have a fifty-fifty chance of surviving the first five years. Don’t let that discourage you though, as many of the failures are a result of the same mistakes. Learn these mistakes, and you will give yourself an even better chance of success.

The #1 Cause for Failure is The Wrong Reason

Surprisingly, the number one reason for new business failures is the fact that the originator started their business for the wrong reasons. They mistakenly thought that if they have their own business then they will get rich quick. Or working for themselves means shorter hours and less workload. None of this is true. You should start a business because you feel passionate about your idea, not because you want to get rich in a year or two. I’m not saying profit shouldn’t be one of your goals, but don’t let money be your only reason for starting your business.

The #2 Cause for Failure is Poor Management

Being able to manage a new business is a must. It doesn’t require a college degree or anything, it just requires you to be able to adapt to new markets and dedicate yourself to success. Many new business owners become lax and make the mistake of thinking that their business will blossom on its own. However, a business only grows as much as the work put into it.

The #3 Cause for Failure is Not Enough Capital

Underestimating the amount of money needed to operate your business is a huge mistake and can be fatal to your business. Here are some of the common mistakes:

  • Don’t plan for an unrealistic income. This is a reason why many make this mistake. It’s best to always underestimate it until you have the knowledge to get an accurate number.

  • Make sure you plan for all expenses.

The #4 Cause for Failure is Location, Location, Location!

The favorite three words of the real estate industry. This is important for your business, if you try and start a computer repair business in a town where only 5% of the population have computers, then you are most likely going to fail. You location must have a demand for the services and products that you will be offering.

The #5 Cause for Failure is Not Having a Business Plan

The most important part of any business is the business plan. In fact, most of the failures mentioned above could have been avoided with a sound business plan. You must not only develop a business plan, but dedicate yourself to stick with it.

The 5 Ingredients to Success

Before we go any further, it’s important that we name the five keys to success again. They are the most important things for a new business and you must learn to master them. Write them down somewhere and look at them every morning before you start work.

  1. Dedication

  2. Planning
  3. Managing
  4. Capital
  5. Marketing

Research Your Idea

Ready to take your first step on this life-changing journey? Well, the first step is to research your idea. A few hours in front of the computer will help you not only determine the potential of your idea, but to see how many competitors you will have. The proper research can give you more confidence in your idea, or let you know if there are some things that you should re-think. Either way you will have a better idea of what your services will offer to your community.

Your potential competition is the main thing that you will need to research. Here are some important facts to look at.

  • In what ways are your products and services different from your competition?

  • What will you be able to offer potential clients that your competitors cannot?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • What are their target markets?

Understanding your competition will give you a better idea of exactly what markets you should target and the services you should offer.

Learn

As a new business owner, there are things that you can only learn through experience. Be sure to always keep an open mind and be willing to learn new things. You’re going to have setbacks, but the key to setbacks is to take the knowledge away from the experience to prevent making the same mistake twice.

Making Your Business Plan

The anticipation of beginning your new journey into the business world is starting to wear at you. You have your idea written down and have vigorously researched it and know that it will work. You know your competition inside and out, so what are you waiting for? Oh yeah, you don’t know which direction to start. That’s where a business plan comes into play. Now comes the most important task; a task that can either make or break your business. Business plans are broken down into ten key components.

The 10 Key Components of a Business Plan

Although there are many different types of business plans, all of them comprise of these common components.

  1. Cover – The cover of a business plan consists of a title page and the table of contents.

  2. Title Page – A brief overview of the overall business plan.
  3. Table of Contents – An index to the entire plan.
  4. Executive Summary – A brief description of the company followed by a summary of the services that they will offer along with why they will profit.
  5. Business Description – This section is used to show the reader exactly what the company stands for. Usually the company’s mission statement goes here. There are three essential parts to the business description.
    • Mission Statement

    • Company Objectives
    • Keys to Success
  6. Marketing Strategies – The company’s marketing strategy and a brief description of locations and services that will be provided.
  7. Competitive Analysis – This section is basically a summary of your marketing strategy and how you will use it to provide services better than your competitors.
  8. Strategies and Implementation – This section describes how the business plans to implement their marketing strategies.
  9. Operations and Management Plan – A list of all employees and contact numbers for the business.
  10. Financial Factors – Budgets and projected income conclude the business plan.

Types of Business Plans

Now that you know all of the basic elements of a business plan, I felt it best to quickly go over the four types of business plans available to you.

Mini Plan

This plan is just as the name suggests. It’s a plan that is short and to the point, only utilizing information such as financial needs, income projections, and marketing plans. A mini plan is a great way to test new ideas and work as a great outline for your overall business plan.

Note that this plan is only intended for internal use. That means you do not send this to investors as it is only a rough outline of your overall plan.

Working Plans

These are the most popular type of plan and are used to actually run your business, especially in the beginning stages. Once again, this plan type is for internal use only. That means that you only need to include factors essential to operating your business.

Presentation Plans

This plan is what you will present to investors when you are trying to raise capital; therefore, style and presentation are very important to this type of plan.

Electronic Plans

More companies are changing to electronic formatted business plans. These are exactly like a presentation plan except they are completely digital and presented using programs such a PowerPoint.

Management

Now that you have a well laid out business plan, you are ready to tackle it. This takes a lot of discipline and determination. There are times when it might be very tempting to stray from a business plan. This is a huge mistake that many people make and it ends up costing them in the long run.

There are several different levels of management that you will need to learn so that you can better manage your new business. You will use your business plan as your guideline but it’s up to you to have the discipline and determination to follow it to the letter.

Making The Business Plan

You already know how important your business plan is, so now it’s time to tackle it. After all, you don’t want this plan that you’ve spent hours putting together collecting sitting on the shelf collecting dust. Since you’re just starting out, you probably don’t have the money to hire anyone at the moment. That means you will have to perform multiple roles but that’s okay because you’re determined to work hard to bring your company to life.

Although you won’t have a management team, I still think it’s best to give a brief description of the different levels of management and their responsibilities.

  • Senior Management

    • Establishes the goals of the business.

    • Decides how to utilize company resources.
  • Middle Management
    • Meets goals set by senior management.

    • Sets goals for their specific areas of the business.
  • Supervisors
    • Keeps an eye on day-to-day operations

    • Watches over the employees that physically work to produce the business’s products.

The good news is that you have already performed one of the roles of senior management. Your business plan should include your company’s goals and how you plan to utilize your resources. Now it’s up to you to make sure that these goals are met.

Managing Finances

Cash is the life flow of your business. It’s the blood that flows through your business and keeps it going. The importance of finances makes this area of management vital in every way. Here are some of the basics that you will need to learn in order to keep your business alive.

Should I Get a Bookkeeper?

This is totally at your digression. If you feel that you can manage your finances on your own, then I recommend doing that. After all, no one knows your business like you do. If you feel that this is too difficult a task, then hire a bookkeeper. This is going to be your first big decision as the owner of your business.

Financial Software

If you plan to take on your own finances, then I recommend investing in some financial software. They are inexpensive and will take a bunch of the workload off of your shoulders by reducing the time it takes to enter and manage account transactions. The software will automate entries and compile information into neat reports.

Cash Flow

Cash flow is easily the most important aspect of your company’s finances. Its purpose is to make sure your company has enough money to pay bills that are needed to stay in operation. This should all be in your business plan but now is the time to double check and make sure that the information is accurate.

The Process of Management

It’s time to take a moment and look at how the management process works. It can be sorted out into several categories. As a new business owner, you will have to fill more than one of these roles until your business grows enough to hire additional employees to help. Here is a brief list of all of the roles of management.

  • Planning – Decisions based on company goals and what actions are needed to secure them.

  • Organizing – Grouping of different jobs in order to be more efficient.
  • Staffing – Determining the number of people needed to operate.
  • Leading – Guidance that the employees need to efficiently perform their job.
  • Controlling – Making sure that financial goals are being met.

When first starting out, you will have to perform the roles of planning, organizing, and controlling. As sales increase, make sure you hire employees in order to allow your company to keep growing. It’s easy to get overwhelmed from too much work and that is when mistakes will start to creep in.

Capital

We have already mentioned the importance of finances but now it’s time to discuss all of the different ways to fund your company during its initial stages. Many people start their business out of their own pocket; however, there are many options available to help fund a new business.

Equity and Debt

Investments are broken down into two types, equity and debt. Equity is when a new business owner actually sells a portion of their company to an investor in return for cash. Debt is when a business takes on a loan from a lender that they have to pay back over time. The key is to find the type of investment that suits your individual needs.

Funding Options

It’s not enough to simply find an investor, you have to find the right one. So this means that more research is needed in order to find an investor that best suits your needs. I recommend you find investors that can help with technical assistance, financial advice, or can bring you new customers.

Raising funds for your company is a huge circle. In other words, start with a small group of investors who can directly help your business grow. Then work your way around to more and more investors until you are satisfied. Here are the different funding options available to you.

Using Your Own Money

This is the most popular way of funding a new business. The advantage to funding your business from your own account is that you maintain total control. However, investors will sometimes allow you to tap into their vast network of knowledge and experience. This will not be the case if you fund your business on your own. You will be alone. But for some, that seems like the best avenue. Remember earlier when I talked about keeping an open mind? Now is the time to follow that advice. At the very least, research different investors and if you can’t find one that suits your needs, then invest your own money. You might be surprised at who you can find.

Credit Cards

Some people use credit cards to fund the start up costs of a new business. They are easily accessible and have a simple payback schedule. But don’t be lured into this trap. Credit cards should be a last resort as they have huge interest rates.

Family & Friends

Talk about making the family reunion a huge business meeting. I’m highly against mixing family and friends with business. The number one reason is that when money is involved, things get tense. Plus, when a family member lends you money to start a business, they tend to think that they can tell you how to run it.

Business Loans

This is another debt form of raising capital. You will have to present your business plan to a bank and then they will decide if your idea is worth the risk of lending you money.

Angle Investors

This is the option that many successful companies begin with. Angel investors are dedicated to investing money into new businesses and since they cater to new business more than any other investor type, I strongly recommend that you include them in your research.

Researching Different Options

Now that you understand some of the different funding options available to you, here is a step-by-step process of researching them.

  • STEP 1 – Put together a list of all of the advantages and disadvantages that each option presents.

  • STEP 2 – Compare the advantages against the disadvantages and form your own opinion about which ones are best suited to your business.
  • STEP 3 – Research again until you narrow the list even further. The remaining companies will be who you will attempt to get funding from.

Marketing

Now it’s time to start marketing your idea. You’ve vigorously researched and planned thoroughly for this stage and now it’s show time. You can actually begin your journey into the business world. Before we begin showing your idea to the rest of the world, there are a few important basics you should know about marketing.

Basic Marketing Terms

  • Public Relations – Activities that promote a good relationship with your customers.

  • Press Release – Press released articles about your company’s activities.
  • Market Research – Finding the nature of your customers and competitors.
  • Marketing Collateral – Communications that are utilized as part of your marketing strategies.
  • Positioning – A technique used to identify your company’s position against your competition.
  • Branding – Your company’s logo and what it stands for.
  • Distribution – Getting your services and products to your customers.

Marketing Plan

Now it’s time to discuss all of the items that are needed in your marketing plan.

Describe Your Competition

Most of your marketing plan will revolve around you presenting services and products in a different way than your competition. Therefore, you must know them inside and out. This will prove to be an invaluable part of your marketing strategy.

Describe Your Product

List all of the benefits of your products and give your customers a good idea of what to expect from your products and services. This will be your selling point.

Marketing Budget

Budget all of the costs of your marketing plans. Be sure to include advertising and promotional costs.

Those are the three key things to make sure to include in your marketing plan. Remember to always stay dedicated to any plans that you make and to always put your customer’s needs first. This is your dream but it will not come true without your customers there to support you.

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the Aging Process

Aging is a fact of life. There’s no getting around it. People, plants, animals, and all other organisms are born, live for a short time, and then die. The will to live is a basic instinct that all higher organisms share. Humans are no different, but unlike some creatures, mankind has the unique ability to actually do something about the aging process. Men have sought for thousands of years to find the secret to eternal life, from the Philosopher’s Stone to Ponce de Leon’s quest to find the Fountain of Youth. With advancements in medicine, agriculture, and ways of thinking, humans have extended their lifespans from only a couple of decades to well over one hundred years of age in modern times.

Aging is called senescence in scientific terms. In humans, the body is able to constantly renew itself by replacing old cells with new ones over and over again, but at some point in mid life, the process stops being as efficient. This manifests itself in the usual signs of aging which include wrinkles, graying hair, physical frailty, and a decline in cognitive function among other things. As a person ages, their body is no longer able to effectively and efficiently ward off stresses, environmental factors, and cellular degradation which all may lead to increased risk of disease. Modern theories on aging suggest that it can be treated like a disease and thus has the potential to be cured. Much research is currently underway involving the aging process and genetic factors that may help to slow down or even reverse the process.

By making some healthy lifestyle changes and being open to new lines of thought, it more possible than ever to defy age and live longer, both in body and spirit.

Biological Life Extenders

The first and most important thing you have to do in order to extend your life and age more gracefully is to get rid of all the bad habits and lifestyle decisions you’ve picked up over the course of your life. This includes eating healthy, exercising frequently, and getting regular medical examinations. A lot of people know that they need to do these things, but quite frankly, they choose not to because of laziness and denial. In order to make a change in lifestyle habits that have been ingrained for decades, you have to first be willing to make a change. It’s not good enough to just know that you have to make changes to your life before it gets too late. Instead, you really have to believe that you must make a change in order to better your life instead of giving in to what is easy. Unfortunately, the motivation for making real changes occurs to a lot of people too late in the form of a major medical crisis or untimely death of a loved one. It’s important to make sure this doesn’t happen to you by making a commitment to leading a healthier life.

Sugar

In our world today, the word “convenience” is a hot selling point for a lot of food items. We’re bombarded with advertisements for fast food and time saving meals, but when we consume these things, we pay a price. Fast food is notoriously loaded with calories and sodium that can put us at risk for developing chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Also, reading the ingredients label on processed foods can sound more like a chemistry class than something that we would want to eat. Indeed, making changes in food choices and eating habits is our first line of defense against aging.

One of the easiest things to change in your diet is to cut out all sugar as much as possible. First of all, sugar is a major source of calories, which can add extra pounds to your waist line. Next, consuming excess sugar can put you at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which the body has too much glucose in the blood. Glucose is a simple sugar that fuels the body’s cells. However, too much glucose can cause serious complications. First of all, excess molecules of glucose in the bloodstream behave like shards of glass inside the body’s blood vessels. After years of having high blood glucose levels, the vascular system of diabetics is scarred. This can lead to poor circulation in the extremities that can result in amputation of a limb. Scarring of the body’s arteries and veins can also put a person at greatest risk of developing heart disease and high blood pressure. Since the blood vessels are no longer as smooth as they are ideally, cholesterol can build up, forming deadly clots that can cause heart attacks and strokes. Finally, having high glucose levels over a period of several years can cause the intricate blood vessel system in the kidneys to stop filtering waste and toxins out of the blood. When this happens, a person goes into kidney failure and needs dialysis or a kidney transplant. Although some people have a genetic predisposition, type 2 diabetes can be prevented in most cases by maintaining a healthy weight and BMI (body mass index). To cut out excess sugar from your diet, you can take the following steps:

  1. Stop drinking soft drinks. In the average can of soda, there can be over 10 teaspoons of sugar in one 8 ounce can. Instead, drink water or green tea.

  2. Don’t eat simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are carbohydrates made of small molecules of sugar that can easily be metabolized for energy. Most of the time simple carbohydrates are empty calories and lack nutrients. Instead, choose complex carbohydrates. These carbohydrates contain longer molecules of sugars that take the body longer to metabolize. One simple way to recognize a simple carbohydrate from a complex carbohydrate in the grocery store is to avoid white colored foods. Instead of white bread, choose whole wheat. Instead of white rice, choose brown rice. In general, complex carbohydrates are metabolized more slowly and will affect your blood glucose level less dramatically than simple carbohydrates.
  3. Don’t use artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners like NutraSweet and aspartame may not have any calories or sugar, but research has shown that consuming these sugar substitutes can make people crave the real thing and eat more of it when they are able to.
  4. Read labels closely. The grocery store is a virtual mine field when it comes to sugar. It is important to know how to read labels correctly to be sure you know what you’re actually eating. Make sure to check the portion sizes on the label because the portion size from which manufacturers gather nutritional data is often much smaller than what a person would normally eat.

Fat

A lot of chefs say, “fat is flavor,” which is true to an extent, but too much fat can be unhealthy. The body stores fat for energy, but excess fat has been linked to heart disease, cancer, and obesity, all of which can cause premature death. In order to live as long as possible, it’s important to eat fat in moderation. For humans, fat is the main source of cholesterol, which can cause blocks in the arteries, resulting in heart attacks. While everyone needs some fat, most of us get too much of it. Fats come in three types based on their molecular configuration: saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. It is important to limit the amount of saturated fats that you consume, for these contain the most cholesterol and have the most potential for clogging arteries. Saturated fats can be recognized by the fact that they are solid at room temperature. Saturated fats include butter, margarine, lard, animal fats, and vegetable shortening. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. Some examples of these are vegetable oil and olive oil.

Calories and Calorie Restriction

Calories are the amount of energy that a certain food produces when metabolized by the body. For adult men, the daily recommended calorie count is between 2000 and 2700 calories depending on your size and activity level. For women, the number of calories required is slightly less. In the modern world however, many people exceed these general guidelines and eat more calories than they need. This makes them gain weight. Obesity is at an all time high and is a major contributor to causing diabetes and heart disease, so it is important to maintain a healthy weight.

The only scientifically proven method of extending the lifespan of an organism is calorie restriction. Calorie restriction is the systematic reduction of calories that a person consumes in a day. The goal of calorie restriction is to lower the amount of calories that you consume by 20%-40%, while maintaining proper nutrition. The theory of calorie restriction comes from animal research that has shown that severely restricting the number of calories consumed by an animal had the dramatic and unexpected effect of extending their lifespans. For example in studies done on mice, calories were restricted by 40% which translated into an increase in lifespan for the mice of between 20-30%. Not only did the mice live longer, but they aged more gradually and had fewer chronic diseases. Research has also been done on several other animals including monkeys and has shown similar results. Because of the newness of the research and the fact that humans live for tens of decades, no conclusive human studies have been finished, but researchers are hopeful that calorie restriction in humans may yield the same results. The exact mechanism for what causes an increase in lifespan for calorie restricted animals has not yet been fully understood. One theory for the effectiveness of calorie restriction is that severely limiting calories activates a gene called SIRT1 in humans. This gene is responsible for decreasing the instability of DNA, which can increase lifespan. A molecule called resveratrol, that is found in grapes and red wine has also been found to have the ability to turn on the SIRT1 gene. In the future, it may be possible to activate this gene, increasing lifespan, by taking a pill.

Exercise

Exercise is needed to strengthen the body. As we age, it’s increasingly important to maintain proper fitness. Not only does being fit help to maintain healthy weights, but exercise has been shown to reduce stress, reduce blood pressure levels, and increase mood. Getting regular exercise can also help the elderly to remain mobile, which is an important part in remaining independent in the later years. Exercise also releases neurochemicals called endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s chemical pain killers which can produce feelings of euphoria and well being. You should strive to get at least 20 minutes of moderate exercise every day for good health.

Routine Medical Check Ups

Finally, it’s extremely important to get regular medical checkups. Many people are afraid to go to the doctor or are in denial about their health condition. They may feel like it’s better not to know that something is wrong, but this could not be further from the truth. Diseases are generally much easier to treat and have more favorable prognoses when detected early. For example, in the case of diabetes, much of the severe effects like kidney damage can be avoided if glucose levels are properly maintained. Without going to a doctor and having routine blood work done, a person can go for years without knowing anything is wrong with them, and by then the damage could already be done. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Having a Positive Outlook

Having an optimistic outlook on life is an important part of defying the aging process. Research has shown time and time again that people with optimistic outlooks live longer than pessimists. One explanation for this is that pessimists place themselves under much more stress than optimistic people. Stress is a major aging factor. People under high amounts of stress have higher incidents of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Pessimists are also less likely to engage in healthy activities than optimists. Optimists also have more developed social support networks than pessimists, simply because being around pessimists can be depressing, leading to a lack of friends and life partners. It may be tough to look at the glass as half full rather than half empty, but making such a paradigm shift can dramatically improve the quality of your life.

Live Life with a Purpose

Our lives would be meaningless without purpose. Sure you could conceivable sit at the couch all day watching TV, but what’s the point? Studies have shown that people who keep from retiring live longer lives. They have lower rates of heart disease, less depression, and healthier immune systems. Why is this? Because, their job gives them a sense of purpose and satisfaction. It makes them feel important and useful. That’s one of the things people want most — affirmation. We want to be heard and know that what we are doing and what we think really matters. Living a life of purpose doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be making a contribution to the world through your job. Instead, it’s doing whatever it is in life that makes your happy and gives you satisfaction. A lot of people go through life without ever finding out what their purpose is. They wander aimlessly, trying to live a satisfying and full life, without actually achieving what they want. In order to find your purpose and true calling in life, it is helpful to sit back and take inventory of your life. Write down on a piece of paper the things you value. This could be your family, job, material possessions, etc. Then think about what you do best and what makes you happy. Once you write all of these things down, take a deep look at them and start searching for patterns that connect everything. It’s not important how grand your purpose is. It doesn’t have to be something as lofty as bringing about world peace. It could be something as simple as planting a new garden or knitting a new sweater. It doesn’t really matter what your purpose is as long as it makes you happy and motivates you.

Have Faith

Numerous studies have shown a link between religious faith and longevity. They have shown that people who attend religious services regularly have less stress, engage in less risky behaviors, and have better social support mechanisms than those who do not attend. Having faith that a higher power is in control of our lives allows some people to fell less stress about their daily lives. For them, everything that they endure is part of a greater plan and happens for a reason. This can reduce stress levels, which can have negative health effects such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Faith can also help to prevent depression.

Keep Your Mind Active

Keeping mentally fit is just as important as keeping in shape physically. During the aging process, memory and cognitive skills may diminish. As the saying goes, “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.” This is particularly true about the mind. Many elderly people are afflicted with some form of dementia. Although some of these cases are related to health issues, maintaining an active and alert mind may help to offset some of the decreases in cognitive abilities. The brain is composed of a vast network of cells called neurons which connect to one another and are responsible for controlling bodily functions and dealing with memory and thought. If not used, these cells can be lost and the connections between them can shrink, leading to a decrease in memory and cognition. One of the best ways to guard against this is to read. Reading can help to maintain and even build neural pathways that can keep the brain strong. Another way to maintain an active mind is to take new routes on your way to destinations. For example, when driving to the grocery store, take the back road. This forces your brain to think about where it is going and how to get to the destination more than if you were to go through a familiar route. Doing crossword puzzles is also an excellent way to keep your mind sharp. They force you to use your memory and to use critical thinking skills, both of which can help to maintain an active mind. Finally, you can take up a new hobby. Learning a new skill creates new neural pathways in the brain and can lead to a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.

Conclusion

Humans have been able to increase their lifespans by decades of the years through advances in modern medicine and nutrition, but it’s also important to consider lifestyle and attitude contributions to long life. Eating healthy and getting regular exercise can help to ward off chronic diseases. Research suggests that calorie restriction may help us to age gracefully and to live longer. However, in addition to these physical contributors to long life, having a good attitude and mental outlook on things can be just as important. The main culprit in aging on the emotional side is stress, which does its damage both mentally and physically. Perhaps one day scientists will find the proverbial fountain of youth and learn how to bottle it, but for now, changing attitudes, making new friends, practicing religion, and have a purpose in life can all lead to a reduction in stress, which will allow you to live a longer and healthier life.

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A positive role model is one of the most powerful tools we have to find happiness and success in life. We often find these treasures as we go through childhood. We find them in our family, schools, and churches. We cling to their examples, their spirit and their knowledge. However, as we move through different phases of our lives we have different needs. We need guidance in our career, raising our own children, and simply finding our changing place in the world. Positive role models are not just for young children and troubled teens. Even as adults we benefit greatly from the experience of those with character and purpose.

What You Need

Finding a role model is not a difficult thing to do. The first step is to ask yourself why you feel the need for a strong influence in your life. There are many ways those that we admire impact our lives. They help us learn to carry ourselves with pride and confidence, teach us better ways to handle different situations, show us how to treat others, and help us stay connected to a faith that supports our spiritual life. Very often these people give us a different perspective which allows us to discover strengths we were not aware we had. Role models can be the best route to self awareness.

Role Model Defined

A role model is a person who is admired for their positive qualities. These qualities define a role model differently for each person. Role models can be defined as a person that has survived situations you are struggling with, such as addiction, divorce, raising children or health issues. They can also be chosen because of their overall view of life and its significance. Spiritual guidance is often a reason for choosing a particular person to guide us through life’s challenges. A shared interest can also be a factor in the search for a role model. Finding someone with a strong character and positive values to share that interest can create a bond that can truly impact your life. Discovering someone with these types of qualities can have a huge effect on your outlook and your actions.

How to Find a Role Model

A role model can be easy to find once you know the kind of influence and guidance you are needing in your life. A wonderful statement about the world around us is that there are role models everywhere. Good people with sincerely good intentions abound. Every day you pass them on the street, at the grocery store, or while driving through your neighborhood. Unfortunately, these can be difficult to discover and connect with. However, there are places that allow for better opportunities to find a role model to help you strengthen your resolve, your confidence, your hope and your life.

Where They Are

At Church

Many of us have taken hard blows from life so often that we are left with saddened hearts and a weakened faith. Regardless of what is attacking your spirit, a church can be the best defense. The source of your faith will surround you with two things. You will be with others just like you that are struggling to find a reconnection or stronger tie with their spirituality. This will help you realize you are not alone, but part of the greater human experiment. Even more importantly, you will find those that may have already walked that path and have succeeded in building a stronger bond with their faith. These make for great role models. They not only act as spiritual guides, but also as examples of living a moral and fruitful life. Whether it is a church leader or simply another member, a church is one of the most solid and rewarding places to find a positive role model that will help you enhance your life in a variety of ways.

On the Job

The workplace can be source of stress caused by endless demands and hectic schedules. It can also be a place where role models can be found. The typical work week often results in more time spent with coworkers than our own family. There are usually a few that stand out as conscientious, hard working and goal oriented people. These have the potential for being great role models professionally and personally. Seeking advice and direction from someone you admire at work is a good choice if you are searching for guidance on career goals and decisions. These types of role models will be more knowledgeable and honest than friends and family about how your choices may affect your job and future career.

Where You Are

The workplace is not the only source that may surround us with role models on a daily basis. Other places that you find yourself often, such as your child’s school, baseball practice, and the gym, are filled with others living similar lives and going through similar struggles. Another parent is a wonderful place to turn for advice and support with all that is involved with raising children in today’s world. The elderly or very overweight person at the gym that never gives up and continues to work hard for their health is admirable and can be very motivating when you feel yourself abandoning your goal. Look around you and you may realize that your next door neighbor, good friend, or favorite aunt have the characteristics you want to emulate. All of these are ordinary people that have simply found a successful way to navigate the worries and trials of life. Connect with them, learn their secrets and let them help motivate you to find similar success and peace.

Specialized in Their Field

If you are looking for a role model because of a particular battle you are fighting, such as addiction, illness or depression, local groups are an excellent place to start. There are several groups and organizations that are focused on helping others overcome life’s struggles and supply constant support. Each of them are filled with survivors that offer experience and care to those that are trying to recover. Many times these groups are centered in your company, church and neighborhoods. This further magnifies the realization that you are not alone. When this unity is combined with admirable leaders the potential for success is high. One of the greatest qualities to look for in a role model is someone who has been there and is an honest example of what hard work and right choices can accomplish.

Unlikely Places

One place that we have all experienced admiration for those whose lives signify great character is in a book. Classic novels are filled with people that make tough choices for the right reasons. They are studied and honored because of the fortitude and passion that overcomes adversity. Movies, television shows, and documentaries can also be windows into another person’s world view. Stories of family members passed down through the years can also offer you a positive role model. It is possible to learn enough about a person or literary character to further imagine how they would handle a situation you are experiencing. Considering how your favorite hero or great grandfather would handle a situation you are dealing with can help you act with courage and integrity.

In the Mirror

Life has a tendency to make us focus on our failures and weaknesses. However, we all have success and strength in our lives. It is possible to discover these by really examining yourself. You may already be a positive role model for someone else and did not realize it. The father that is fighting for a promotion may not feel successful, but to his child he may be a shining example of diligence and hard work. Understanding the positive impact you have on another person’s life can be just as empowering as the advice and guidance of your own role model.

The greatest aspect of a positive role model is the fullness in which it can affect your life. A role model that is supporting and guiding you in career decisions will probably have many other positive traits to share with you. The manager you admire at work may also be an active parent and devoted to his faith. It is important to appreciate all the qualities a role model has to offer. This allows you to understand the reasoning behind how your role model treats others and makes decisions. Knowing where their character is coming from keeps you from simply copying them, but allows you to truly transform your way of thinking and living.

A positive role model is the gift that keeps on giving. The example of good character can lead to an endless number of ethical decisions and conscientious actions of others. Role models benefit everyone and are not difficult to find. Our everyday lives are filled with people that live with purpose, confidence and perseverance. Tapping into their perspective and experience will guide you through many of life’s challenges. Keep your eyes open and you will discover the guidance you need may be right in front of you.

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No matter who we are all of us at some time or another will wonder if we’re living a complete and meaningful life. “Meaningful” is defined as being full of meaning, significance, purpose or value, but how do we know if our lives pass the test? What may be very important to one person may not be so important to another.

Gifts

Our children come into the world and into our lives each in their own special ways. In my life I have been given the gift of being “Mama” to two boys. Each one has his own special place in my heart. They grew up as brothers, fought like brothers, collaborated against authority as brothers, and are as close today as any brothers can be. Both of my boys are outgoing, loving, hard-working and honorable young men. They both have grown up and moved away, yet they still call home to check on me. The similarities end there.

Matthew came into my life kicking, crying, wrinkled and red after twenty-five hours of labor and an emergency c-section. Eric became my child at the age of eight when he stood beside Matthew as his father and I were married. Matthew is a carbon copy of his natural father. He has straight brown hair and hazel eyes and he possesses that long, lean, forever-slim frame we all long for. I had occasion to meet Eric’s birth mother some months ago and his resemblance to her is remarkable. Eric’s hair is blonde and curly. He has eyes that are such a deep shade of blue that they remind you of the pictures seen in magazines of tropical waters. Being a Navy man, he has a trim but muscular frame.

Growing up my boys were like different sides of the same coin. Matthew was the type of child you never had to raise your voice to. He loved to work on our farm and was often seen following right behind his stepfather. We often teased him about being his stepfather’s “shadow”. We never had to ask him but once to do his chores. He worked hard, did as he was asked to do and never appeared to be upset or angry. Family tensions and work requirements never bothered him, but rolled off like water running off of a duck’s back. He adjusted to our marriage and the changes in our lives with ease.

Eric, on the other hand, was our “problem child”. Being older when we married he felt I was an intruder and I’m sure that would account for some of his problems and his mental attitude. We forever had to correct, discipline, bribe and raise our voices to him. He hated the farm, his schoolwork, his homework, his chores, and anyone or anything that made him feel he wasn’t the only one in control of his life. He was constantly looking for ways to get out of any work that was assigned to him. Matthew seemed to idolize his stepfather and although Eric was the one who asked his father to find him a mother, he and I seemed to mix like oil and water. His temper is quick and hot. Eric immediately began to call me “mama”, but I think it was over three years before he actually began to accept me as his mother.

Both boys are grown now and have families of their own. We were disappointed that neither wanted to be involved with the dairy, but are proud that each is an excellent family man. Matthew lives about two hours away and has a precious four-year-old daughter. Eric lives five minutes away and has blessed me with a sweet, thoughtful daughter-in-law and three beautiful grandchildren. In a complete turn-around, I rarely hear from Matthew, though I know he is there to help me if I need him. Eric and his family come over to visit several times each week. He calls often to check on his “Mama”, or just to talk. Matthew is here when I need him, but Eric worries about me and tries to take care of me.

I am very proud of both my boys. One is my natural child, the other is not. I labored long and hard to have Matthew in my life. I worked even longer and harder, over many years to win Eric. As any true parent understands, giving birth does not make you a parent. It’s the years that come after they are born, and the love and lessons you leave with your children that makes you a parent.

I have been privileged to have two boys in my life. Each came into my life in his own individual and special way, but together they own my heart.

While our definition of the word “family” may differ, I think everyone can agree that raising children to be loving, successful contributors to society is probably one of the most important things any of us can do. In one of my more reflective times I questioned my own importance in life. Why am I here, and what had I ever done to make a difference in anyone’s life? In a most loving way, my spouse reminded me that as a step-parent, no matter what else I may do with my life, I had already made a difference in one child’s life. A successful family life goes a long way to make us feel that we are living a meaningful and complete life. Likewise, the people we choose to have as friends contribute greatly to the meaning of our lives.

We choose our friends either as a compliment or as a mirror image to our own personalities and lives. Friends give us an outlet for personal feelings. They give us the chance to gather as a “community”, however small, and an opportunity to test out our thoughts and feelings concerning life and its many challenges and meanings. Along with families, friends give us the opportunity to explore and enjoy life’s most precious moments. It’s those precious moments that shape our lives and make us feel we are living a life of value and worth.

Learning to accept who we are and honor our heritage is an important step in living a meaningful life. Most of us come from loving families and we carry forward the traits and lessons learned. Even those who come from what are now termed “dysfunctional” families can, with introspection, go on to leave legacies of love and understanding. With conscious effort the cycles of abuse can be halted or altered.

In life we must make a choice about the sort of occupation we wish to pursue. This is a difficult and tumultuous time. Money and financial status seems to rule the world. While having money can make life easier, does it make life worthwhile and complete? My mother used to sing a song to me when I was a child about a man ending up after death with “a rusty old halo and a skinny white cloud”. I don’t remember all the words but the lesson of the song was that there was a rich man living on a hill who wouldn’t be bothered to help his poor neighbor. When the rich man died and got to heaven his reward was “a rusty old halo and a skinny white cloud; second-hand wings full of patches. A rusty old halo and a skinny white cloud; a robe that’s so wooly it scratches.”
I wish I could remember more of this song as it reminds me of my dear sweet mother, but I digress.

Help Charities

Our occupations can define us but they need not be confining. There are plenty of charities that will welcome our help, be it financially or physically. It’s a proven fact that those who volunteer their time to a cause they believe in are happier and healthier people. If you are longing for a way to insure that your life is worthwhile and if you need to feel like your life is complete there are several things you can do:

  • volunteer your time at a homeless shelter

  • offer to help out at a food bank
  • visit in a nursing home
  • offer to help out at a hospital or with hospice

For those who love animals the list of opportunities can be endless too, some of which are:

  • volunteer at an animal shelter

  • offer to be a foster home for an abandoned animal
  • adopt a homeless pet
  • volunteer at your local zoo, to do whatever is needed to help the animals and assist and educate the visitors

It’s a proven fact that those who endeavor to help others find that they are the ones being enriched by the experience.

No discussion about the meaning of life and how to insure we live a full life would be complete without discussing spirituality. Whether you believe in a higher power or not, it is our ability to understand the feelings of others that separates us from the other animals. We long to understand our universe and we want to feel that after death some part of our spirit will go on.

I have seen the hand of God in the first rays of morning sun; the colors dancing brightly over the gentle waves that come to shore. I have seen God’s hand in the searching eyes of the children as they play on the sand and discover the jewels that the tide has washed ashore. I watch people float and ride the ebbs and swells that are the mighty ocean and I know that God is there. Like the parent’s eye that never lets a child wander far, God watches us. At the end of the day He gathers us again into the fold that is the family and He bring us rest. I have seen the hand of God in the last bright rays of the evening sun and I know I need not worry, all is well.

On face value the paragraph above appears to be about a day at the beach. It is, but it can also be a parable about spirituality and the various stages of our lives. We all start out our lives with clean slates, innocent and open to the possibilities of life like the first dancing rays of sunshine that start each day.

As children we grow and learn and discover all the different facets of life and spirituality. We float along and enjoy the good things that we encounter. As spiritual beings we believe that God watches over us like the parents who watch their children on the shore; never allowing them to get too far from our sight.

When the day is near end and with the last rays of the sun, those of us who believe feel that God will be there to gather us home into his spiritual family. We believe that God will give us eternal rest. We are not worried.

Value What is Important

All of us at some time or another will wonder about living a meaningful and complete life. During our lives the mere definition of meaningful and complete will change many times. In spite of the changes there are several things that will remain constant:

  • Our family holds our heritage. We are in large part a product of who our ancestors were. We carry forward things that we learn from our family and though we are able to change things and perhaps improve the future we are always a product of the past.

  • Our children are our legacy. It is through them that we as human beings go forward. To truly be worthwhile we must love and teach them well.
  • Friends enrich our lives. By choosing them carefully we determine the path our lives will follow. Association with people who do well and who help others will go far to uplift our own abilities to do good.
  • Choose an occupation thoughtfully. It is not enough to have a job that only pays your bills. You will be far happier and much more successful in the end if you choose a job that allows you to be of service to others.
  • Volunteer your time. Volunteer your money. Volunteer your love and caring for others whenever you can.

Search for your inner spirituality

For most of us that is in the form of a “higher power”, or God, but you don’t have to be religious to be spiritual. You can seek to be spiritual in many different ways.

  • Look for the good in mankind. While there are some who seem to be truly evil people, you need only witness the response of a community or a country to the results of a natural disaster to understand that mankind, as a whole, is innately good.

  • Attempt to see the beauty in every person. I used to be concerned about how I looked to others; what I was wearing, how my hair was cut, whether I would be seen as an attractive person. By the same token, I would look at others just as critically. Then I began to look at pictures taken by photographers of the people in different countries. These pictures were not of made-up models, but of just the average, everyday person having been caught in the middle of their normal, every-day life. Wow, what beauty! I was struck by the beauty that was found in every photo; the individuality and the personalities that were evident in every picture, every wrinkle, every crooked smile. I have found that by being able to see the beauty in others, I am no longer so critical of myself and I focus on the things that are really important in life and not just the surface beauty.
  • Take time to really look at animals and nature; see the colors, the actions, and the wonder of it all. Every animal is unique and special just as each of us is worthy of being considered special.
  • Make time for your family and friends and let them know how important they are in your life. It’s true that none of us is “promised tomorrow”. You have no idea which minute, which day will be your last. Live each day as if it were your last and enjoy the things that you have been given such as your talents and your affections. If you are fortunate enough to be given affluence remember that you did not get it by working alone and make the effort to help others when you can.

When all is said and done it is not what we have materially that will go on but the love and friendships that we have developed throughout the years. We will not be remembered for the things we had but for the things we did to help others. In the final analysis helping to give meaning to the lives of others is what will ultimately make our lives complete and worthwhile.

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Building a good reputation should be important to every human being. A good reputation can take you much further in life than you can go with a bad one. When you are seen as a good person, people will often go out of their way to help you, both in business and in life. By building a good reputation for yourself both online and offline, you can increase your happiness, your success and your quality of life.

Building a Good Reputation Online

Social Networking

Building a good reputation online begins with the content online that you make available to the public. While it is perfectly acceptable to have a personal Facebook page, it is not acceptable to talk badly about others on Facebook or any other social networking sites. When you say negative things about others, people will tend to think that you may say something bad about them, too. This causes them to stay away from you both socially and in the business world.

Another way to build a good reputation online is to be careful about posting photos of yourself and of others. You should only post photos which are tasteful. Photos which make another person look bad should never be posted online. If you post photos of yourself passed out drunk, be prepared for your potential future employer to see them when they are in the research process of interviewing you.

Promotion

If you are involved in charitable organizations, you should try to promote them online. You can post links to the organization on social networking sites and try to convince others that they should do their part to help out the community. If you are helping out by sponsoring a local little league team, make a post about it and encourage others in the community to do the same.

Websites

If you own either a personal website or a business website, there are several things you can do to build a good reputation online. Respond to each and every comment left on your site. This builds trust and encourages your readers to interact with you. Write content for your site that helps others. If your content is good and you have great relationship with your readers, your reputation will soar.

Building a Good Reputation Offline

Building a good reputation offline is a great way to get your name out into the community and create a positive buzz about yourself. This begins by being honest in all personal and business relationships. Nothing can tarnish a reputation more than others thinking that you are a liar. When others see you as a liar, they will not trust you and they are likely to tell others not to trust you either.

Be Friendly

Make friends wherever you go. Be personable no matter where you are and engage others in conversation. If you have good conversation with a stranger, be sure to introduce yourself and hand them a business card. They will be left with a favorable impression of you and a way to contact you if they wish.

Support Your Community

Supporting your community both financially and with your time are fantastic ways to build a good reputation. When people need help, they should know that they can call on you to give it. Donating money or books to a local library is one way that you can help the community. Donating your time to build homes with Habitat for Humanity is wonderful to help out as well.

Have Good Morals

Hold yourself to high personal moral standards. Just think of all the politicians and celebrities who have ruined their careers by participating in prostitution or extra-marital affairs. These kinds of behaviors always result in getting caught. When people find that you are involved in activities that they consider to be immoral, your reputation may never recover. It will take a hit that could take years to rebuild.

Start Young

Building a reputation for yourself starts during your youth, whether you know it or not. You can begin to get a good reputation simply by respecting your elders when you are young or by carefully following instructions. A healthy respect for others should be carried on later in life. When people feel respected and honored, they will consider that you are a good guy who deserves his own respect. Even when you are just a kid and helping an old lady with her groceries, you will find that whenever your name is mentioned, a positive comment usually follows.

Have Good Business Practices

If you are shady in your business dealings, prepare for your reputation to take a hit. Bad news travels fast and if you are ripping people off in your business, people will start to talk. Angry customers spread your bad reputation by word of mouth and before you know it, your reputation can become badly damaged. Do your best to resolve business disputes and complaints. Go about it in a professional manner and never allow yourself to become angry or abusive with a client. If you have trouble with this, have a manager or other employee step in to negotiate with your customer. This is a much better alternative to losing your temper and tarnishing your reputation.

Do Something Good

You can quickly build a good reputation by doing something good for someone each and every day. This can be as simple as complimenting someone on their outfit or as huge as helping someone pay their mortgage. Even small acts will be remembered for years to come. If you do something nice each and every day, word will get around about what a great guy you are.

Be Humble

No matter how many nice things you do for others, if you have a big ego, your reputation will be a bad one. Constantly reminding others about what a generous person you are will have a negative effect on your reputation. Be humble about your activities and don’t brag. This make your actions even more positive.

Take Care of Yourself

Take care of yourself by maintaining good hygiene and dressing for success. If you are unkempt then others will think that you do not respect yourself. Take the time to keep yourself looking nice, neat and clean.

Take Care of Your Family

No matter how many good things you do for other people, if you do not take care of your own family, your reputation can turn bad quickly. Even if you have pressing business matters, missing your son’s baseball game will make you look like a loser to your family and to others in the community. You may think that no one will notice if you are not treating your wife with the proper respect and care. However, word gets around quickly when you mistreat your family. They should be the most important people in your life and should be treated as such.

Curb the Road Rage

If you have a problem with road rage, then you are going to have a problem with your reputation. Even in a large community, others will recognize you when you are screaming and behaving badly in traffic. Take care not to lose your temper while you are driving or especially when you are a passenger in someone else’s vehicle.

Let Go of Grudges

If you have negative feelings for someone, it’s best to grow up and let them go. Saying bad things about other people will only do you harm in the reputation department. Make your best effort to repair the relationship and move on. If the other person will not cooperate, resign yourself to the fact that you did your best and do not ever talk badly about them again.

Apologize for Mistakes

When you make a mistake or let your anger get the best of you, you should apologize immediately. Your apology should be true and heartfelt so that the person offended knows that you are sincere. If you feel that you have not done wrong, but the other person is offended, simply apologize for offending the person. It only takes a moment of your time, but can make a big impact on your reputation.

Everyone messes up from time to time, but only those who do not apologize for their mishaps will suffer in the reputation department.

Inspire Others

When you are truly a good person who does good deeds, you will likely inspire others to do the same. The simple acts of kindness that you perform can inspire others to create a better community around you. The more time you spend positively impacting others, the more that others will want to follow suit.

Remember, no matter what your reputation is, you are the one who has earned it. It takes a lot of time and energy to build a good reputation and only a matter of minutes to ruin one. You must take care in your daily life to do things which will only build up your reputation. If you concentrate on building up and helping others, your reputation with flourish and you will be seen as someone who is there to help and someone who can be trusted.

Live the best life that you can possibly live and your reputation will take care of itself.

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Saying Yes to a Positive Life

You have decided that now is the time to start attracting positive people and positive influences in your life. This is a wonderful step you have made to improve your life as these positive influences can bring about positive experiences and happiness. Surrounding yourself with positivity is easier than you might think. However, society has conditioned us to believe there will always be hardships and negative people we just have to deal with it. This informative guide will strive to show you how to bring in those positive influences effortlessly and start removing negativity from your life. You will be on your way to having positive relationships with those around you and being surrounded in a positive environment that is beneficial to your wellbeing.

Materials Needed

  • Journal

  • Pen
  • Quiet time to reflect and write
  • Willingness to explore positivity

What does it look like?

You may be wondering what exactly it looks like to have positive people in your life and be surrounded by positive influences. What it means is choosing relationships with people who do not carry their baggage around with them. They live free, happy and inhibited. When you are with these people, you laugh, you smile and engage in conversations that make the both of you happy. They are the type of person that wears their heart on their sleeve and find joy in helping others. They also take the time to give back to themselves and honor who they are and renew their spirit in the process. They have no need to put down others to make themselves feel better because their happiness comes from within. When you are with them you may sense a peace that radiates from them and from within you as well. They have such a positive effect on others that you may walk away with a smile on your face, thinking about what a nice conversation and person they are.

Positive influences can also be people, but they are so much more. Positive influences refer to the environment that surrounds you. It can be everything, from the neighborhood or community you live in, the type of places you hang out in for recreation, your job environment and any other contact you have with the outside world. It can even be the online community you participate in through social networks, email and instant messaging. You know you are living with positive influences when the thought of that community or environment makes you happy. You do not feel anxiety when you think about going into work and drudging through another day just to make a dollar. You don’t leave angry or depressed when you leave your favorite hangout. You deserve to be living in bliss and associating yourself with influences that will make you feel happy at the end of the day.

How Positive People and Influences Affect Your Life

While it may seem that positive people and influences only affect you in the moment you are around these people or certain environments, it is actually so much more. The positivity and the happiness will actually spread to every aspect of your life. We can imagine an example where you are working with coworkers who are friendly, open and work well with you. Even if it might not be your dream job, working with such nice people can actually boost your mood and help you enjoy being at work. You will go home with a sense of pride and accomplishment. You won’t feel as tired and will feel in an engaging and happy mood. This spreads to your home life where you come home to your spouse and kids and actually look forward to spending time with them. They sense your presence as soon as you walk in the door and it is a positive one. Your kids and spouse will want to be around you and dinner time becomes enjoyable rather than stressful. The next day you wake up refreshed and willing to have another positive day. If you are single, you will have a sense of peace and joy to you that will work as a magnet to attract others to you, perhaps even a romantic relationship. You can attract so many more positive relationships and influences in your life, and it all starts with the people and environments already around you.

Negativity

In order to talk about how to attract positive people and influences in our lives, we must first look at the negativity. It’s probable that you can look around at the people in your life and identify who is a constant source of negativity. They might be mean, rude, cold or even depressed. All these personas can suck the energy from you if you spend your time with them. Do you notice that there are some friends that embody a negative attitude all the time? When you are with them, they complain about everything, they probably gossip a lot and talk about how bad their life is going. You spend your energy complimenting them, reassuring them and trying to make them feel better. You may even participate in their rantings about life and how horrible it is. You can get sucked into their feeling that life will never go your way and might participate in the latest gossip, putting others down to make yourselves feel better. Does this type of person remind you of anyone in your life? If so, they are bringing you down and you may not even realize it!

Sometimes it just feels easier to be negative and complain. This will never make you happy and it will never make your friend happy either. The first thing you need to determine is what your relationship with this person is. If all your relationship gives is a “good” time of gossip and complaining, then this type of relationship should be cut off if possible. However, not every relationship is so easy to leave. We have friends we’ve had for years and mean something to us. We have family members who will always be related to us and there is no leaving their side. So what can you do in these situations? Should you just tell them to leave you alone and stop talking to them? The shortest answer is no. You can absolutely have a relationship with that person, however, it might look a lot different than what you are used to.

It begins by setting boundaries with this person. Only you know what boundaries you can create with this person. Do they call you up every time something bad is going wrong and expect you to fix it? In this case, you will need to have a heart to heart with them and let them know that while you wish for the best for them, you cannot always be the one to fix their problems. This might hurt them quite a lot and even anger them, but remember this is something they need to work on. Not you. It is time to give time, love and positive energy back to yourself and this relationship is not helping that. You can still love them, talk with them in a positive manner, but do not engage in negative conversations with them. As soon as you feel one coming on, direct the conversation to something more positive or neutral. This may be very confusing for them at first, but eventually they will get the hint that you have no interest in participating in a conversation wallowing in self-pity or putting down others.

When it comes to negative influences, there are a number of factors that can create a negative environment. Perhaps you hate your job or the co-workers you work with. This can cause depression and anxiety. Or maybe the places you hang out in leave you feeling drained. If you hang out in the bar hoping for a chance of connection with someone else, you will often leave disappointed and lonely. Surrounding yourself with negative places will only result in making you feel negative as well. Sometimes, though, we must be somewhere we don’t want to be, such as a place of employment. So what can be done in these moments? That is when gratitude comes in.

Gratitude

There will always be negative people and negative things in your life that you do not enjoy as long as you focus on that negativity. The opposite of resentment and dissatisfaction is gratitude. You have the power to turn any negative situation or relationship into a positive one, and this is through the power of gratitude. When we are grateful for something in our life, we attract more of those positive aspects to ourselves. The same rings true about negative ones. Therefore, we should be focusing on all the positive things going on in our lives. Say you have a spouse who is always in a bad mood after work and doesn’t treat you the way you thought married life would be. Stop and think about all the good things about that marriage. Do you like the way he makes you breakfast on the weekends to show he loves you? Do you enjoy when she rubs your shoulders after a long day of work? How about all the effort he or she makes with making sure the kids are healthy and loved? Concentrate on those. Write them down and really let yourself feel grateful for these acts. The more you feel grateful for these acts and express your gratitude to them, the happier you will feel and your relationship will slowly strengthen.

The same goes for any type of relationship or situation. If you hate your job, write down all the things you are grateful for. They don’t have to be enormous. They can be something as simple, yet as wonderful as having enough money to pay the bills and be fed each month. It can be that you enjoy the scenic route to work and have 15 minutes to enjoy your favorite music on the way to work or on the way home. No matter what it is, write it down.

Write as many gratitudes for your life down on paper. Some find it most useful to keep a journal and each night before bed or upon waking in the morning, writing down what you are grateful for in your life. Your list doesn’t have to be long. Write five each day and you will start to see just how many positive things you really have in your life, including people and influences. You can even write these down on sticky notes and post around your house to remind yourself of good things happening in your life.

Change Begins With You!

Did you know that attracting positive people and positive influences in your life begins with YOU? It really does. You are like a magnetic force attracting what you put out into the world. Do you think anyone really wants to be around you if you are always miserable or taking out your problems to the world? They don’t. But when they see a genuine smile on your face and see how you handle life with love and happiness, positive people are going to want to be around you, all the time. And this will create positive influences in your life as well. So if you are not already happy with who you are as a person, you will not be happy with someone else. No one can make you happy. Sure they can influence you and can be an inspiration in your life, but you are the greatest determiner of your own happiness. No one else holds that power besides you, so take advantage of it and make yourself happy.

It might be difficult for you to really know what makes you happy. You might have been attracted to this article, thinking that being around happy people will be the problem solver in creating your happiness. If that is your core belief, then you will be truly disappointed. This is not discounting how important it is to surround yourself with positive people, but you must realize that you must not rely on others for your own true happiness. You might have an ideal image of what a happy person looks like and want to meet that person. Guess what, maybe that person is actually your ideal YOU. Think about it for awhile and decide if you are seeking someone to make you happy or if you want to be happy first and then meet like-minded people.

Creating Your Happiness List

So how do you determine what makes you happy? It begins with a list. Take out your gratitude journal and dedicate a whole section to exploring your likes. Ask yourself “What makes me happy?” This may seem like a full-loaded question when you ask it to yourself, but it doesn’t have to be. It probably doesn’t even require hard thinking. Just write whatever comes to your mind at the moment. Your list might look something like this, but should be unique to your own interests:

Things that make me happy include

  • Rocky Road Ice cream

  • Bubble baths
  • My child’s laughter
  • A mid-afternoon nap
  • Swimming
  • A soft kiss
  • Playing board games
  • A warm embrace
  • Tending to my garden
  • Cooking a home-cooked meal with someone I love
  • Watching a good sports game
  • Walking my dog in the park
  • Painting my toenails red
  • Reading a good mystery novel
  • Iced tea on a hot day
  • Meditation
  • Playing in the dirt
  • Swings
  • A funny movie
  • Dancing when nobody is watching
  • Traveling
  • Lavender lotion
  • The fresh smell of clean laundry
  • Having coffee with a friend
  • Bird watching
  • My favorite running shoes

The list can go on and on, and it should. Sit there and keep writing to your heart’s content. Be sure to keep several pages free in your journal so you can add to it whenever you participate in something else that gives you joy or you remember something else that makes you happy. Even if you have never done it, but think you would enjoy it, write it down. Notice that the list not only lists outside influences that make them happy, but it also lists things the person can do on their home to be happy. The point of this exercise is to identify what makes you happy, gives you happiness when writing it and gives you ideas on what to participate more in to bring your level of happiness up. If negativity starts to creep in at any time, your list can serve as a tool to remind yourself of something you can do to turn that negativity around.

As you start living a life of joy, you will begin meeting others who are also living lives of joy. You might be walking your dog through the park when you run into another dog owner who is also doing something that they enjoy. Talking about your interests with others will invite others to share in their interests as well. Even if you might have different interests, you may both notice you have a positive energy and want to hang out anyway. You just might find a new friend and create new positive relationships in your life. You may even be introduced to new positive influences that you didn’t realize would bring you joy until you were around them. As long as you are living the life you have actively and joyously created for yourself, the positive people and influences are bound to follow.

Staying Positive

Once your life of happiness and being surrounded by positive people and positive influences comes into fruition, you must continue to stay positive to keep them around. It may seem like it’s a lot of hard work to be positive all the time, but you will see that it’s actually not. When you are happy, you will want to remain happy and focus your attention on remaining that way. With the use of your gratitude journal and happiness list, you will always be reminded and aware of things going right in your life and know where to turn to boost your mood. This is one of the best resources you have for yourself to start feeling the joy in life. You can carry your journal around with you and write in it on a regular basis.

What you may notice is that situations and people that were once perceived as negative have either been eliminated from your life or changed for the better. You’ve probably heard the saying that “Misery loves company”. As soon as those negative naysayers start seeing how positive you are, it is likely that they won’t want to be around you anymore. Try not to take this personal. Instead, think of it as a positive thing. You are living a life that is free, that is happy and being alive feels so good. Think about how you used to feel when you were with those negative people, sucking the energy from you, leaving you feeling sad or disappointed with life. You have to make the active choice to be positive. Talk with others about your journey and connect with others with similar aspirations in life. You may also see relationships changing for the better. You have been a positive influence in their life and your gratitude for them has evolved into something greater.

What you will start to see is that you are surrounded by positive people everywhere you go, from the grocery store to your place of employment. You just might have never noticed them before because you were looking through the lens of sadness, frustration or anger. Putting on a lens of positivity will feel so good that you will never want to go back to that place of negativity ever again. Best of all, you will finally have attained your original goal of attracting positive people and positive influences into your life. You are equipped with all the tools ready to start today and this way of feeling can last a lifetime.

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In America, many people born into poverty are able to overcome this poverty and lead a better life. Education is perhaps the best and most practical way of achieving this. In short, the best way to get a world-class education if you have limited means is by working harder than everyone else.

America is one country where children have access to an education, even if they are born into a poor family. Those that have achieved much in their lives from humbled beginnings must often work twice as hard as their wealthier counterparts. Poor people should strive toward academic excellence. Good grades and high test scores in high school can lead to an academic scholarship to a prestigious university.

First, decide what you want out of life. You probably won’t achieve much if you don’t know where you’re going. Decide what you would like to study in school. Are you interested in math or science? If so, you may choose a career in Accounting, Biology or Engineering. Are you interested in the arts? If you are, then you may pursue an education from an art school.

Research Scholarships and Grants
Scholarships for minorities, women, and lower class families are available. The Bill and Melinda Gates Scholarship Foundation assists minorities and low income students with their education. The Gates grants and scholarships are awarded in various subject areas and students must submit a letter of interest to begin the scholarship application process. Grants seekers may visit the foundation’s website for more information at http://www.gatesfoundation.org.

Several U.S. States have adopted scholarship programs similar to Georgia’s HOPE scholarship program. These scholarships are funded with state money and are often merit based. They pay full tuition for students who maintain an acceptable GPA throughout their college studies. Most of these programs pay tuition to public schools within their prospective state. Do not discount these schools. There are many public schools that provide a good education in a comfortable setting that is less cutthroat than Ivy League schools. For example, many HOPE scholars in Georgia attend the University of Georgia. UGA was ranked among the top twenty best buy schools in 2009. HOPE scholars attend the University of Georgia free of charge.

An excellent website for more information on specific grants and scholarships is Fastweb.com. Go to the webpage and create a user profile. The website searches for scholarships based on your academic year and your area of study. Fastweb also matches you to scholarships based on your background and personal interests. Fastweb lists internships that you may qualify for. Internships allow you to gain work experience as you study. Some internships are paid and allow you to earn cash while you work toward an advanced degree or career within your area of interest.

Research Best Value Colleges and Schools
Periodicals such as Kiplinger’s and Forbes have compiled information on various colleges within The United States. Visit their websites to view their data as it relates to some of the best and most affordable colleges. Consider one of these public institutions to receive a good education at an affordable price:

–Mississippi State University
–University of Florida
–Berea College
–University of Wyoming
–University of Virginia
–University of California, Berkeley

Working Full-Time During College
Many college students work full-time. To do this, you must manage your time well. You must fit your classes into your work schedule, but you must also allow yourself several hours per week to study course materials. The best way to do this is to take courses that fall on a Tuesday/Thursday schedule. That way, you have the other five days of the week free to work a full-time job. If that schedule doesn’t work for you, decide if it’s best for you to attend school during the day or at night.

Many students who work full-time choose to study at their own pace from home. Be wary of online programs because some are interested in making money off of you. Also, many of these schools have a bad reputation. You must research online schools thoroughly. Decide if they offer the things that you want out of college.

Work From the Ground Up
If you work full-time while in school, consider attending a junior college. Many community colleges are less expensive than four-year institutions. At many two-year schools, students are able to complete a year of full-time courses for $2000 to $3000. Most students study for a career in healthcare, business, and technical occupations. If you take courses at the junior college level and transfer after receiving your associate’s degree, chances are, you will have already completed many of the courses you need to satisfy a bachelor’s degree. Make sure to study hard in junior college and earn excellent grades. From the junior college level, apply for a transfer to a larger institution.

If you don’t find a scholarship to a four year school, don’t give up. You may be able to complete your bachelor’s in two years if most of your credits are transferrable from community college. This can save you thousands of dollars in tuition. Once accepted into a prestigious college, do not rest on your laurels there. Get involved in student organizations and work twice as hard as you did in grade school. By getting involved in clubs and Greek organizations, you can made solid contacts that you can use upon graduation. These contacts can assist you in finding employment. Also, community involvement looks good on both resumes and graduate school scholarship applications.

Earn an Advanced Degree
Graduate school is always a good idea to gain more knowledge in your area of study and to improve your chances of getting a high-paying job after graduation. Graduate school is expensive, but you can earn an assistantship or fellowship if your grades are up to par and you do well on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). The GRE is the entrance test that most graduate schools require for admissions into a graduate program of study. The GRE tests a student’s analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning skills.

Students with excellent undergraduate school records may earn a fellowship or grant to continue their studies at the graduate level. Fellowships and grants are every poor graduate student’s best friend. Most are merit based, so you’ll need a good academic record in order to obtain one. Begin by making a list of a few schools you’d like to attend. Once you’ve narrowed them down, visit each school’s website and search their financial aid page for information on fellowships and grants. Follow the instructions listed in order to apply for aid. Be sure to follow all instructions carefully to ensure that your application is considered.

Strive to Be the Best at What You Do
One thing to remember is that an education is only as good as you are. If you go to a state school that isn’t as prestigious as a more expensive college or university, then study several hours per week in each subject area. This will ensure that you learn the material you need to make the grades you desire. Though you may not be able to afford an education from a prestigious school, remember that all schools have libraries and materials that provide the framework for learning anything and everything. Much of what you’ll learn in any college is through independent study, not from taking notes during lectures. You can have the most distinguished professors in the world, but if you don’t work hard to learn the material, then you won’t do well in class and you won’t learn what you need to excel in your career.

In terms of a world-class education, many students seek degrees from an Ivy League university. If you are one of those students, search the school’s website for possible scholarship opportunities. Most schools offer some merit based scholarships to students from working class families who otherwise could not afford to attend a private school. These scholarships are awarded to those with near perfect grades and excellent SAT scores. Even some of the brightest students are turned away, but don’t let that discourage you. Apply to several different schools. Re-take the SAT or the GRE if need be. Make sure that your entrance essay is polished and have it proofread by a fellow student or an academic.

Examples of How Hard Work Pays Off
In the following paragraphs, take note of famous and successful business people who achieved success through hard work and academic excellence. Strive to model your career after theirs or simply take note of how they achieved their success.

An example of a well-educated and wealthy person who came from humble beginnings is Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey was born to a poor working class family in Mississippi. After being molested and running away from home at an early age, Oprah later turned her focus to academics. She became an honors student at East Nashville High School. She won an oratory contest that awarded a full scholarship to Tennessee State University. While in school, she worked for a local radio station and gained practical experience. Even after she earned her degree in Communications, Oprah continued to work hard. She soon received her own television talk show. However, Oprah became more than just a talk show host. She branched out, became a magazine owner, and started her own production company.

Another example of a working class person who worked their way to the top is Bill Clinton. He was born to a working class family in Arkansas and attended a public high school. He attended college with the help of music scholarships, academic scholarships, and student loans. At Georgetown University, he worked as an intern in the office of an Arkansas Senator. As an intern, he learned about politicking and how the United States government works. Bill Clinton earned a Rhodes scholarship to attend England’s Oxford University. Upon his return to the United States, Clinton entered Yale Law School, one of the most prestigious law schools in the country. After law school, he taught at the University of Arkansas. Later, he was elected Attorney General of Arkansas and Governor of Arkansas, but he didn’t stop there. In 1992, Bill Clinton was elected 42nd President of the United States.

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IN THE BEGINNING

Love is something that most people aspire to attain during their lifetimes. There are many different types of love, of course: Platonic love, such as that shown to family members and friends, is an important emotion that stays with you through thick and thin. Love of an inanimate object or thing, such as a job, is important too in that it is what you do every day of your life to maintain your lifestyle and support your family and values. However, romantic love is, in many ways, the most important type of love that there is.
That is because romantic love is the thing that keeps our emotional health in balance and our mental health in check. Romantic love can be difficult to come by but is well worth the wait.

As you mature from your teenage years into adulthood, it becomes more important to begin thinking about what type of future you wish to have. Do you even want to have a partner to share your life with? Do you want someone to help you start a family, share life experiences and grow old with? What is it you are looking for in a life long partner? There are many men and women in the world who are just waiting for the perfect “someone” to come along but it isn’t always easy. And once you do find that person, how can you be sure he or she truly loves you? This might seem obvious, but often times it is not.

To be truthful, most relationships are built on initial impressions that the person presents upon your meeting: Appearance, subtle habits, professional aspirations, likes and dislikes all play a role in whether your interest is piqued or not. For instance, if you meet someone who meets all of your expectations except one- say, she or he is a brunette rather than the blonde you had hoped for- you may immediately decide that this person would not be of interest to you. If this is the case, than it will be hard to find someone who will fall as deeply in love with you and you will with them. Being too picky can easily eliminate a lot of great people out there. Therefore, you should decide right up front what you can and cannot live with. And you should also remember that often, love doesn’t hit you square in the face at first sight. Instead, it grows softly as time goes by. And this may be true of the person you are meeting.

IS THIS A RELATIONSHIP WORTH PURSUING?

Once a relationship is established, however, how do you know that the “love of your life” reciprocates your feelings? And after you have been together for awhile, do you think that perhaps your significant other is not as interested as he or she once was? Do you feel as if their love for you is waning? How can you tell if she or he is telling the truth when they assure you that they still love and adore you?

SIGNS THAT THINGS ARE NOT GOING SO WELL

There are many telltale signs that indicate whether or not someone is telling the truth about their true feelings for you. Some indications that your partner may be pulling away are as follows:
1. Does he/she show less interest in your likes and dislikes than when you first met?
2. Does he/she refuse to join you in activities that you once enjoyed together?
3. Is there a general lack of interest in your work or activities?
4. Do you see a change in daily habits that your partner is involved in such as going out more with his/her friends, watching more TV late at night rather than coming to bed with you, talking or texting on the phone excessively, forgetting to do or participate in things he/she promised you would be done.
5. Is your loved one drinking more than usual or participating in drug use for the first time ever?

These are just a few of the things to look for in a relationship that may be floundering. This does not mean that there is no hope for things to get better. These are just warning signs that the relationship needs help, i.e. a marriage counselor or some other type of counseling such as a church social worker or a licensed psychologist.

SIGNS THAT THINGS ARE PROBABLY GOING YOUR WAY

On the other hand, there are many sure signs that your partner truly cares for you and loves you deeply. Some of these may be subtle, so you may need to look for them. These include:
1. Putting your needs before his/hers.
2. Helping with the household chores, whether you have requested their help or not.
3. Complimenting you on your appearance, your work, your choice of anything from clothing to furniture to the children’s wardrobe.
4. Doing little things that are totally unexpected: Flowers for no reason at all, a dinner out on the town, picking up a couple of good steaks for dinner instead of the hotdogs you had planned on fixing. Breakfast in bed is always good too.
5. Does he hold the door and is she appreciative when you do so? Both are good signs that love – and respect – are in tact.
6. Holding your hand in public and while watching a movie at home. It is always a good sign when your partner is proud to be seen with you and displays public (and private) affectiion without hesitation.
7. Includes you in planning vacations, parties, outings and major purchases. That shows you that your partner values your input and really cares what you think.
8. Truly approves of and enjoys the idea of your having friends and activities outside the partnership.
9. Laughs at your jokes, whether they are funny or not. Laughs with you and not at you!

Again, these are just a few of the telltale signs that love exists in your relationship. There are so many more, of course, if you only take the time to look.

HOW TO PRESERVE THE LOVE

Showing your significant other that you love them is an important part of any relationship. Anyone can ask their partner “Do you still love me?” but the answer may be positive and the actions not. These are things that you can look for every day of the week. Of course, the fireworks that initiated the relationship in the first place rarely continue as time progresses. However, they can be rekindled with frequent “time outs” such as regular small (or not so small!) vacations out of town, day trips to a place you both have always wanted to visit, having date nights on a regular basis (get a sitter who will be available on a certain day of the week, every week)…take in a movie, have a nice dinner, walk in the park. If you reside near a park or a body of water, take time to enjoy nature together. This is one of the best ways to wind down after a difficult week and enjoy one another by holding hands, having a picnic meal, walking along the shore. (If your partner has no interest in doing any of this, well, go back to the first list of items depicting signs of love lost and review it again).

The most important thing to remember about knowing that your partner loves you is communication. Make sure you talk about things that are bothering you as well as things that are making you happy in the relationship. Otherwise, problems can fester and explode in the future. Many divorces could be avoided if couples just took the time to talk their problems out with one another or with a professional counselor. True love is worth preserving and although it might seem so easy to just get a divorce, it is important to realize that giving up on a relationship that once meant so much to you is sort of like selling a fine car because it needs a tune up. And if there happens to be children involved, the love doesn’t end with you and your partner: You must take them into consideration. Their hearts will be broken and their worlds will be changed drastically.

HAPPY ENDINGS

If someone truly loves you, they will work hard to preserve the relationship you have built together. That in itself is probably the most important thing to remember when trying to determine whether or not your partner still loves you. They will respect your feelings about things that are important in your life: Family, finances, health and welfare of the members of your family, religious beliefs, tastes in music and other entertainment media as well as everyday things such as your love of an afternoon nap, your passion for nature, your preference for sharing the chores in the house equally. Love comes in many forms and is shown in many ways.

There is no one thing that will alert you to the fact that your significant other still cares for you and loves you. But with a little attention to detail, and a lot of communication between the two of you, it will become obvious to you just how much this relationship is worth saving.

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How To Overcome The Fear Of Death

Death is something that everyone thinks about from time to time, as it is all around us. Between historical events, the media and our own personal lives, it can be close to impossible to go through a day without the notion of death crossing one’s mind. While few people are ever completely comfortable with the idea of death (although there are many exceptions), it is a fact of life and is accepted by most people in the world. However, there are many people who actively fear death on a regular basis and actually allow this fear to infiltrate their lives. Depending on how severe the fear actually is, it can have detrimental effects on the way one lives life. Fortunately, it is possible for just about anyone with the fear of death to eventually overcome it.

WHY DO WE FEAR DEATH?

Historically, death has always been feared throughout the world, and for many reasons. For one, death is one of the few things left in the universe that is still truly unknown to human beings, and will likely always be. Sure, we know what happens to the body once death sets in, but no one truly knows what happens spiritually. For some people, this idea can be exciting, and many people have already made up their minds about what happens after death. Others, however, greet this notion with intense fear. Thanatophobia – the fear of death – is practically as old as the Earth we live on, and is so largely because death signifies the unknown.

DEATH AND RELIGION

Most people would like to live their lives for as long as humanly possible, but everyone knows that they will one day die, as will all of their family members and friends. Thinking about this can be rather morbid and can certainly cause anxiety, but the fact remains that it will happen and it is best to come to grips with this. Depending on one’s religious orientation, death is more easily feared for some than it is for others.

Consider the story of the man who was terrified of flying, and had to fly from California to Japan for business. For the first time in twenty years, he was about to step on an airplane and was terrified that he would die. The man was devoutly Catholic, and decided to go to his priest with his problem. When he explained his story, the priest responded simply with “and why do you think God would wait until you stepped on that plane for it to be your time?” The man left, got on his flight and no longer suffered from any fear.

Religion is many things, but perhaps more than anything it is a way for practitioners to understand the afterlife. Those who are highly religious rarely have a fear of death. Monks, for instance, embrace death as an ascension to a new and better life. For those who are not religious or who question their religion, this security and comfort may not exist. Suddenly there is no explanation for what happens after we die, which can cause an extreme amount of anxiety.

Step back for just a second and ask yourself what your fear of death is doing for you. Is it making your life easier? Chances are the answer is no. In fact, people who spend their entire lives worrying about dying often look back and realize that they weren’t living at all, but rather dying very slowly. Sometimes acceptance is necessary in life, and this cannot ring anymore true than when it comes to death. Accepting death as a natural part of life will help you to enjoy the life you’re currently living.

THERAPY FOR PHOBIAS

Some people have a very hard time beating fears and phobias on their own, and this is fine. In fact, it is very common for people with strong fears to need a bit of assistance in learning how to cope and eventually overcome. In this case, it can be very advantageous to seek therapy. Seeing a therapist can be extremely helpful to anyone who suffers from fears of any kind, as it can help one to step back and really analyze their thought processes. This is often the first step to changing thought patterns and eliminating the fear of death.

Many people don’t realize that our fears are often deeply routed in an event or happening that we experienced at one time or another. These events often occurred far back in childhood and may even be completely repressed by the individual. Analytical therapy can be helpful in tracing back and figuring out exactly what caused the fear of death that you are currently experiencing. For instance, perhaps you had a grandparent who died when you were a very young age, and you were in the room when it happened. You may not remember this happening, but it did. There is a distinct possibility that subconsciously you have not yet worked through this loss, and it has translated as an intense fear of death. Analytical therapy can help you to identify such situations and grieve.

For many people who fear death, however, this is not the case. Sometimes fears can arise from out of nowhere, with no rational explanation as to why they exist. In these cases, the person often experiences heightened anxiety and may even suffer from panic attacks at any given moment, which can make living a normal life very difficult. This is often the case for those who obsess over certain fears, and can be dealt with head-on through the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT. Therapists who practice CBT believe that our thoughts and emotions are directly linked to how we feel and behave. By changing the way we think of and perceive death, we can learn to eventually accept it and decrease any anxiety that comes along with it.

Another form of therapy that is often used for people who suffer from phobias is known as exposure therapy. As with the man from the story above, many people are extremely terrified of flying. The thought of stepping onto an airplane for people like this can be enough to make them feel like fainting. Exposure therapy entails helping the patient to tackle their fear head-on in order to help them overcome it. For instance, someone who is afraid of flying may take a very short, fifteen minute flight as the first step in their exposure therapy. Next, they may take a flight that lasts an hour, and again another flight that lasts for two hours. Eventually, the patient begins to see the irrationality of his or her fears and no longer has trouble flying.

When it comes to the fear of death, exposure therapy can be somewhat tricky, but it is not at all impossible. For instance, a therapist may bring in someone who has just lost a loved one but it comfortable with it to speak to the patient directly. The patient can ask any questions that he or she would like, with the therapist’s end goal of helping to patient to even approach the subject at all. Next, the therapist might bring in someone who has no fear of death for the patient to interact with. Overtime, the patient’s interaction with these people should eventually help to quell any fear that still exists.

FORCED POSITIVE THINKING & MEDITATION

Perhaps the best way to tackle the fear of death is to do so through forced positive thinking. Many people use the term “fake it til you make it,” and that principal has never been more true than in a situation such as dealing with the fear of death. The basic tenant of forced positive thinking is to be mindful of when you are actually fearing death, and actively turn the thinking on it’s head. For instance, let’s say someone cannot stop thinking about how they could die, even as they’re taking a walk outside on a sunny day. By switching around this thinking and forcing yourself to think “it’s a beautiful day outside, and I am so lucky to be alive right now,” the negative thinking becomes positive and grateful. Although this is a tough practice to maintain, it will truly change the way you think and approach your life if you can keep it up over time.

Meditation can be another wonderful way to help you overcome the fear of death. Through meditation, many people find that they learn to accept life for what it is, which includes both the negative and positive aspects. Practicing meditation is all about discipline, and can help you to grow as a human being. Breathing or sound meditation are excellent ways to start, or if you like working in groups, you could always attend a group meditation session, which are often very inexpensive and are available in most major cities and even some small towns.

The fear of death is something that everyone grapples with at one point or another, but it can truly inhibit you from living a positive, happy and enjoyable life. Taking steps to conquer your fear will lead to an overall enhanced quality of life, as well as a more relaxed and spiritual you.

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