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How to Take Positive Control Over Your Life

The idea of ‘control’ in Life is a very appealing one. It would be nice to know the outcome of the decisions and plans you make today, without having to actually wait until tomorrow to see how things turned out. But that’s not the way life works. Something happens. You do something in response. Something else happens as a result. Time is a construct that keeps everything from happening at once.

If they could, most people would prefer to have some kind of control over their lives. If they could, most people would opt for the ability to control the behavior of others, including strangers, spouse, children, and co-workers. If everyone had everything just the way they wanted, life would glide along smoothly, we believe; the day’s work would flow quickly by, income would pile up in the bank account, your children would make all As, and they’ would never try drugs or alcohol. That jerk in the left lane would never think of cutting you off, Wall Street would never cheat, and so on. Life would be ideal. Or would it? If you got everything you wanted, scarcity theory dictates that someone else did not. And they are likely to be upset about it.

Control Freaks

There are some who seem have an obsession with the notion of control, becoming jealous and unreasonably demanding with all their relationships, in their insistence on determining the actions, behaviors, and feelings of others. Everything must have their approval, decisions made and actions taken by everyone around them must meet the controlling persons’ expectations, or there will be you-know-what to pay.

Trying Everything But What Actually Works

The notion of having control over your life is still one many people embrace, even though they are constantly going about it the wrong way. They mistakenly believe that their life would be better if only their control of others was absolute. If only others would only follow the script they provide. If only life were fair. The sooner we realize that this is impossible, the sooner we can get into really guiding our lives in the way we’d like them to go, developing the only kind of control over our lives that is worth having.

Positive Control

It is possible to have a positive control over your life. In fact, it is really possible to have control over only one thing on earth – the only thing you can be sure to have any influence over – yourself. It may not be as glamorous or exciting as the continual drama involved in manipulating the behavior of everyone around you, but positive control can pay off in other ways, improving physical, mental, and emotional resilience to manage all the “slings and arrows that flesh is heir to.”

You choose positive control when you decide you want to improve the quality of your life, your health, and your ability to do things, feel happy, in short, to enjoy life. In truth, that is what we all long for, even though we may have forgotten, in our self-determined race to create and accumulate more, bigger, and better. This is, after all, man’s creativity at work; you cannot blame humankind for its inventions; they are the natural outcome of the curiosity and ingenuity of humans. Such creativity has run rampant, however, and the result is the worship of the convenient, when the true value in life lies in self-mastery.

So, the idea of gaining a Positive Control over your own life gives rise to the idea of relaxing, doing your best, letting go of the end result, and above all, respecting others to do the same for themselves. Positive control means we minimize our judgment of others and put the focus on ourselves. In addition, the methods of achieving such control are almost as many and varied as the users themselves.

Here are three truths that people would be wise to apply to life:

  1. Change is constant.
  2. You cannot control anyone else.
  3. You can only control yourself.

In that little list is a prescription for how to deal with life and the things that happen. Your response to events is the only thing that is in your control, and how you prepare yourself for the reality of stress in your life will determine how you deal with it, and whether you thrive on it, capitalizing on opportunities that come your way, or succumb to illness and difficulties as you face life’s challenges.

Steps to Gaining Positive Control over Your Life

First thing, take a health inventory, for you and your family. Writing down your health issues, and even those of your parents or siblings, focuses your attention on issues you may not realize are keeping you from optimal health and happiness. After all, if positive control does not lead you straight to health and happiness, what good is it anyway?

Tools You Can Use

FamilyHistory.hhs.gov is great interactive a tool from the Surgeon General that lets you develop a health picture of the family you come from. Another great site for info is http://www.whf.org/my-health/personal-health-information-family-health-history from the Washington state’s Healthiest State in the Nation website. (Vermont is the winner this year.) Download both the personal and the family health histories. Both these sources offer excellent ways to really get a handle on your possible health challenges.

Assess Your Stress

Stress is what happens when anything in the outside world affects you, from weather to divorce, so it is important to realize that you cannot avoid stress. Stress is part of everything that happens to you. It is impossible to get away from stress – even on a desert island, there’s some stress, surely. Hard to imagine, but, surely.

If you were thinking that you weren’t really that stressed, or if you don’t even recognize the types of stress you are under, you are not alone. Most people do not recognize stress and its effects until it is too late, and the stress has worn down a significant body system and they’ve got a disease or condition that could end their life. That’s usually the time when most people begin to notice and try to do something about the stress levels in their lives.

A well-known tool for self-assessment of stress levels was developed in 1976 by Thomas H. Holmes, MD, of the Department for Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences from the School of Medicine at the University of Washington, in Seattle. It is known as a Schedule of Recent Experience, or SRE, and gives a certain point value to each of 42 typical life experiences. The higher your score on this list, the higher your chances of becoming ill. When answering the questions, note how many times the stressor happened to you (but if more than 4 times, just go with 4.) Later, you’ll multiply the number of times by the assigned point value. For example, the first question deals with “A lot more or a lot less trouble with the boss.” The assigned value for each occurrence, up to four, is 23.

The most stressful event, according to the Schedule of Recent Experience, is the death of a spouse, and the value for that is 100. The very least stressful event noted is a minor law violation, like getting a ticket for jaywalking, and that comes in at 11. Adding up all the possible stressors in your life, including improvement or deterioration in your financial state, taking a vacation, or getting fired, married, or divorced is a good predictor of possible illness. Everything has its stress, and if you were to take this inventory, you would begin to get an idea of the stress you are facing. Any attempt to gain positive control over your life includes being aware of the stress factors that have effect on you. There are many copies of this copyrighted form available on the Internet. You might check here to download your own copy.

We desire control because we desire to avoid the unpleasantness of stress. The results from applying the Schedule of Recent Experience to your own life will convince you that you cannot avoid stress. However, the only state in which you can reasonably expect not to experience any stress at all is – when you’re dead!

How Do You React to Stress?

Next, assess your typical reactions to stress. Putting things down in black and white has a powerful effect on behavior. There are a number of excellent resources for self-evaluation of stress symptoms, again on the Internet, to help you begin this conversation with yourself. Look at such pages as here, here or here. Those checklists  can help you achieve a greater awareness of your typical responses to stress, as well as indicate areas that you might like to improve.

Coping Mechanisms – the Good, the Bad, and the Ineffective

So, you have stress; how you are adapting to it? Maybe you’re eating more comfort foods, or watching old movies and crying on the sofa, perhaps drinking, smoking, driving too fast? These are all ineffective methods of coping with stress as they are either a) dangerous to you or others, and b) do nothing to strengthen your ability to cope with normal challenges and difficulties of life.

Realize that methods for coping with stress vary widely, from self-care methods like exercising and learning to breathe effectively, to eating as a means to fuel your body for activity rather than as reward or comfort. These two aspects of self-care, eating right and exercising, are core, and others build onto and enhance their value.

Do One Thing Differently

Figure out a few behaviors that you can be willing to change. Pick out one or two healthful activities to try at a time. This is so you won’t feel overwhelmed at a change to what will ultimately be a completely different way of life. The thing is to trick the body into starting to feel more energetic, more like its old self again, and, theoretically at least, increasingly healthy habits will begin to seem like what you want to do. Instead of doughnuts, for example, you’ll become drawn to jicama.

A Little Exercise Couldn’t Hurt

If you’ve been sedentary, commit yourself to little walk to the end of the street and back, once a day. How hard is that? Not at all. And it’s right there, ready for you anytime the weather permits, and you can do it again and again. If you commit only to the once a day walk to the corner and back, there will come a time when you will feel like going beyond the stop sign. After awhile, you might find yourself jogging. Then, who knows? The Boston Marathon, perhaps.

If you are competitive you can compete with a co-worker, spouse or friend for who walks the most using a tool like Fitbit. Many cell phones also track steps. For a person to aspire to being a serious athlete consider an app like Strava.

You Are What You Eat

The story of food throughout human history has been a chronicle of humanity’s control over what they put into their mouths. Up until about 50 years ago, we ate what we grew, caught, or shot ourselves. As our personal responsibility for day-to-day nutrition has been increasingly given over to big corporations, our personal control has increasingly become lost. To regain positive control in the area of nutrition, follow a few simple guidelines: eat whole foods as much as you can, stay away from heavily processed foods, like sugar and white flour. Make it your policy to avoid eating anything that comes in a box. Experiment with spices and low-fat cooking methods; you will lose weight naturally, and avoid the dangers of obesity and diabetes.

Affirmations, or Telling it Like it Is

Positive control of your life leaves aside any manipulation of others, and focuses on improving your ability to withstand stress. It sometimes includes a healthy kind of mind control, where you practice convincing yourself of your worthiness or imagining in detail the achievement of your goals. The mind is a powerful tool, and a terrible thing to waste either on mindless pursuits or on trying to control other people. The mind is a remarkable ally in any kind of self-improvement program you attempt. Many methods exist.

Shakti Gawain‘s bestseller, Creative Visualization, brought into public awareness the power of using your thoughts to manifest your desires. According to her, “An affirmation is a strong, positive statement that something is already so.”

Thus, the important elements of creating affirmations for your own life are:

  • Positivity – Often we think of the things we do not want and try to make them into affirmations. “I will stop eating too much” does not work as well as “I am at a healthy weight for me.” Can you see why?
  • Strong – “I’d like to be” is not nearly as powerful as “I am.”
  • Already so – The tendency to put off good things into the future pushes off accomplishment until “someday.” With an affirmation, you state that the thing you want is already yours, in the here and now. Because, guess what? The future becomes the present moment, in just no time at all.

Another remarkable way to use affirmations can be found in the work of Louise Hay, a pioneer in the use of positive words to ourselves, to heal our lives, and make everything in our lives more honest and effective. Her website,  offers a daily affirmation on an uncluttered page, inviting you to rest a moment, take in the affirmation (today’s offering is “I see with love and hear with compassion”) and bring it to mind during the day. The idea works on you to bring you into harmony with your life and those around you.

An affirmation is meant to be salted into your consciousness by repetition, in times of relaxation and meditation, as well as in times of stress. Some who practice affirmations swear by the technique of posting their affirmations on the bathroom mirror or any place else likely to be seen. The use of a healing, positive subtext for your day sure beats a litany of regret and resentment, don’t you agree?


Learn how you feel and how your lifestyle is affecting you. Find an attractive hardbound blank book and start recording things that you do and think about, things that happen to you, just noticing what’s ‘so’ in your life. Often, our internal dialogue goes by so fast, we don’t realize what we are telling ourselves, day in and day out. It may astound you to find that you have been harboring deep-seated anger toward someone for years, and have developed a habit of repeating to yourself some kind of mean or belittling remark every time this person comes to mind. Notice if there is blaming, explaining, or endless repetitions of what someone else did to you. If so, chances are good that you are not experiencing positive control. Be honest about what you may see in your journal, and look honestly at what judgments of others you could possibly relinquish.

You might also use a journal to keep a record of how you feel, what you eat, and what activities you engage in, so you can begin to get an objective view of how your behaviors affect how you feel.

Relaxation Methods

Relaxation is key to achieving positive control, so we set about to learn methods that will enable us to relax on the spot, as soon as we realize that we are tense or that some situation is shaping up to be difficult.

Again, it pays to become aware of where in the body specifically we are holding tension, so that we can take steps to reverse and relax the tension. Doing a mental body scan, tuning into sensations as they exist in your muscles, joints, and organs, can increase your body awareness so you can begin to constructively relax tension.

Methods of relaxing include Progressive Relaxation, which calls for lying on the back or sitting in a comfortable, supportive chair, and systematically tensing and releasing the various muscles of the body. Other methods include palming, where, resting elbows on a table, both palms are laid on the eyes, creating a warm comfortable darkness, or visualizing a special place, or filling your body with a colored liquid, in your imagination, and letting it dissolve the tension in your body. The methods of relaxation are many; as you begin to seek them out, more will appear.

Relaxing muscular tension has been found to have wide-ranging benefits, such as relief from anxiety, depression, insomnia, fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, and high blood pressure. Relief from these conditions enables a person to be more comfortable and effective in his or her own life.

Natural music like Dean Raskin’s The Journey-Deep Relaxation works well for some people. Headspace is a popular meditation app.


In any self-improvement program, nothing compares with breath. If you would gain positive control over your life, get control of your breathing. Just a few minutes of abdominal breathing will begin to change the chemistry in your body from stress response hormones to relaxation response hormones.

Dr. Andrew Weil has a great audio resource called “Breathing: the Master Key,” which provides good foundational material to help you learn to breathe for your greater good. Another excellent resource is by Anders Olsson, called “Conscious Breathing.”

The Ultimate Stress Buster: Yoga

Yoga, many centuries old, means “union,” referring to a ‘union between mind, body, and spirit. This kind of integration is what we mean by a whole person, whose actions are consistent with beliefs ad feelings. Yoga aims to produce a genuine person, with integrity and respect for all living things, including the self. The practice of yoga promotes deeper relaxation, coupled with flexibility and strength. This is the aim of achieving positive control in our lives, to become whole, or integrated.

Honesty is the Only Policy

Without this one quality, there is little hope of gaining a positive control of your life. Such a pursuit requires brutal, loving objectivity. “To see with love and hear with compassion” is the only means of finding a way to apply a sincere, positive control over your life, become a more effective human being, and evolve spiritually. These are the true goals of human life.


Setting goals has long been one of mankind’s weaknesses. We aspire to do so many great things in this world and never really know how to go about achieving those accomplishments. If all of us could somehow learn to set effective, measurable, and achievable goals and commit ourselves to actually following through on those goals, we would be able to do much more with our time. You should not feel bad or upset with yourself if you have yet learned how to accomplish this in your own life unless you have given up on someday being able to set those kinds of goals. Goal-setting and goal-achieving are tasks that most of us spend our entire lives learning to do, but once you are able to do these things you will achieve so much more in your life. Let’s take a look at a few tips that can help you to set effective goals, measurable goals, and achievable goals. We can look at each of them individually and then combine them all afterwards.

How To Set Effective Goals

Effective goals should be written down.

Before putting yourself to work on achieving your goal you have probably daydreamed a few times on what it will be like once you have accomplished the task. Prior to beginning your work towards that task you should pick up a pencil and write down what the end result is. The minute you write down what goal you are focusing on it becomes real and concrete. You have now committed yourself to at least trying to accomplish your goal and you know what the end result should be. Make sure that your goal is specific and not general, otherwise you can consider anything to be success. A goal that is not written down can easily be lost, forgotten, or placed on the bottom of your priority list.

Effective goals are measurable and achievable.

We will discuss these aspects a little more in just a minute but it is important to remember that these three characteristics go hand in hand. If you can’t imagine how your goal is going to be measurable then you need to alter your plans. Also, if your goal seems to difficult to achieve and you just imagine yourself getting “close” then you need to set a more achievable goal.

Effective goals need to be manageable.

Some goals can bring on an overwhelming feeling because it encompasses too much. If your true goal is too general then it might be a good idea to break that goal down into a few smaller components. Your goal will become much more manageable and achievable if you don’t feel too overwhelmed when you put yourself to work on it.

Effective goals must be visualized first.

Prior to setting out to achieve your goal try to visualize yourself reaching the goal. If your goal is to graduate from law school, mentally picture what it will be like at graduation and all of the hard work culminating in the moment you receive your diploma. Or if your goal is to win a certain race or sporting event, try to imagine yourself crossing the finish line or coming out in first place. Attempt to capture the end result and the emotions that are attached to it. The energy that carries us to achieving our goals is rooted in our desire to reach them. If you can picture yourself reaching the goal then there is a much greater chance that your goal is effective. Also, the more focused you are on achieving your goals, the more quickly you may be able to reach the end result.

Effective goals should be evaluated periodically to check your progress.

A review of your progress can be extremely beneficial in assuring that you continue to work towards your goal effectively. As you periodically review your goals it will be important to do so regularly and keep your goals realistic and well-defined. Be honest with yourself as you review these goals and if you need to change the timetable of the goal then you should be willing to do so. As you honestly evaluate your progress you will have a greater probability of achieving your desires.

How To Set Measurable Goals

Set a completion date to achieve the goal.

A goal that has no end will never be completed so you need to determine when you will complete your goal. The most effective goals will have a completion date that will force you to push yourself. Don’t set goals that should be completed at before death because that is not specific. Remind yourself on a daily basis of that completion date and try to push yourself every day to complete your goal by that time. If achieving your goal will take several months or years to complete then it might be a good idea to break it down into smaller goals and setting dates that are in the close, foreseeable future.

When you write down your goal, write down when you will evaluate your progress.

It is not a good idea to have a goal that says, “I want to read books more often”. That goal would be better state by saying, “I want to go to finish reading a book by the end of every month”. This way you will be able to track your goal every month and see how your progress is going rather than assuming that you will do it “next time”.

Invite someone else to keep track of your progress.

Individual goals can be some of the most difficult because you are in charge of yourself and you often don’t have somebody else to track your progress. It is smart to invite a family member, friend, or colleague to track your progress with you and remind you of why you set your goal to begin with. If you are hesitant about inviting somebody else to keep track of your personal progress you might ask them if they are also working on a goal that they would like help on or if they would like to join you in working towards that goal.

Use technology to keep track of your goals.

Modern technology, computer programs, and advanced software have all been designed to help you keep track of your goals. You can easily use a spreadsheet software, such as Microsoft Excel, to create a calender in which you can mark whether or not you are staying on track to achieve your goals. Your cell phones can remind you every day at a specific time that you need to work on our goal. If you are trying to better your marathon time, you can easily keep a record of your times and improvement after each run.

Set specific consequences and rewards depending on whether or not you remain on track to achieve your goals.

If you are keeping tabs on your progress every week then there should be a specific reward for staying on track or a certain consequence if you haven’t stayed on task. A good example of a reward is to give yourself a few extra dollars for the weekly shopping trip for whatever helps you relax. A consequence might include having to spend a couple minutes longer working towards your goal during the next week. Your mind will quickly learn and convince your body that fulfilling the goal and being rewarded is much better than slacking off and being punished.

How To Set Achievable Goals

Make sure that your goals are realistic.

A goal must be realistic if it is to be achieved. A beginning weight lifter is not going to be bench pressing 350 pounds within the first month. If you cannot imagine yourself achieving your goal within a short period of time then it may not be realistic. Ask others for advice who may have a little bit more experience in the specific area of your goal. Professionals and other experts can help you to set realistic goals that are more attainable. These realistic goals may eventually lead to the ability to achieve a much more difficult task.

Assure yourself that you have the skills and tools necessary to achieve your goal.

You will want to assess your personal skills and understand any tools that might be necessary to achieve your goal before setting out to complete it. Some people may set the goal of building a shed in their backyard. In order to achieve this goal you will need to have a specific set of tools such as drill, hammer, and handsaw, so if you don’t have these tools you will need to determine whether or not you can obtain them before you can set out to achieving your goal. It is important to know that you have all of the abilities, skills, and tools needed in order to fulfill your goals before you begin.

Have a good attitude while setting your goal.

Do everything you can to keep yourself excited about achieving your goal. The biggest reason that most people don’t achieve their goals is because they lose interest and are not excited to keep working. Try to be creative while working on difficult goals and do what you can to change your environment periodically. If you are a runner it may be beneficial to find different routes on a weekly basis so that you do not become bored with your regular running path.

Prioritize your goals so that you can work on one at a time.

More than likely you have many goals that you would like to achieve. Before setting a goal to achieve all of these within the next few days try to determine which one is the most important right now. Working on one goal at a time is smart because you will not become overwhelmed with perfecting every aspect of your life. It is important to remember that we all have weaknesses and we cannot fix everything at once. Make a list of the goals that you would currently like to work on and then prioritize them. Work on one goal at a time unless certain goals permit themselves to be attained while working on others.

Setting and achieving effective, measurable, and achievable goals is one of the most rewarding experiences that we can have. Once you are able to learn how to set proper goals it will become much simpler to achieve them and thus accomplish more. Don’t get down on yourself if you happen to fail at a few of your goals, just keep trying your best and you will see that you can perfect the art of setting goals.


How To Become Rich

If you walk up to anybody on the street and ask them what they could use more of, money would in all likelihood be at the top list for the most part. Everybody wants to be rich. The problem is how to make that happen. Go online or into a bookstore and you’ll find a whole industry devoted to telling people how to attain that goal. Unfortunately, and many may have seen this coming, there is no quick or easy way to become rich overnight. The only way anyone has ever gotten rich is through hard work and determination. Easy enough to say, but a lot more difficult to achieve in practice. You can of course marry into money, or inherit it. But most don’t have that option. And besides, earning it for yourself is far more satisfying.

There some key factors to building true and lasting wealth:

  • Persistence and determination
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Vision
  • Mental Attitude
  • Education
  • Investment
  • Passion for your work

Together, these different concepts form a comprehensive blueprint for becoming wealthy. At the very minimum, these ideas are essential in becoming rich. One thing you may want to ask yourself before you set out onto the road to wealth is the following: Why do I want to be rich? You may think that’s fairly silly. The answer is obvious, isn’t it? To buy things that will make me happy. If that’s your answer, perhaps wealth will be wasted on you. Things don’t actually make you happy. Hopefully you were already aware of that. If not, take some time to let it sink in.

Hard Work and Perseverance

Though fairly obvious to most, the following bears repeating just so we’re all on the same page. Getting rich requires a lot of hard work and determination. Former President Calvin Coolidge said it best in the following quotation:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.”
– President Calvin Coolidge

Success and wealth are almost always the result of hard work and persistence. There are shortcuts, but the avenues are usually open only to those that are actually already wealthy. It’s easier to take a fortune and turn it into a bigger fortune than to create one from scratch.

Another important concept that you need to get used to when it comes to building wealth is that of inertia, or the tendency of things to continue along their path once set in motion. This idea will be familiar to anyone with a basic knowledge of Physics. Success is built on top of previous success and has a tendency to snowball. Sure, there are things that can slow down or derail your momentum. That’s where mental toughness and fortitude come in. The main thing is to keep your eye on the ball and not let anything get in your way. Everybody suffers setbacks from time to time. What separates the rich from the not so rich is the willingness to keep going.

Time management is a huge part of the equation. How much of you’re day is simply “killing time” or “passing time” or waiting for something to happen? You need to stop doing that, now. A good way to shake yourself from this habit is to examine, and really think about, what you’re doing with every minute of your day. You can either be active and set things in motion, or be passive and react to external forces in your life. If you spend your time waiting for things to happen to or for you, you’ll never take charge of you’re life. And you’ll never get as wealthy as you thought, and you’ll be less satisfied in the end because of it.

Vision and The Big Picture

Yes, the “hard work” part of the equation is rather self explanatory. But running off under prepared and without a solid plan in place is a recipe for disaster. You’ll keep jumping from venture to venture, pulling out before you make real money just because you didn’t immediately get rich. Studies have shown that just spending a few minutes everyday visualizing future success and prosperity can actually contribute to and aid in making your dreams a reality. Sounds silly perhaps, but it’s not as far-fetched as you may initially imagine. Daily affirmations can boost your self confidence and keep you on track as far as your long-term goals are concerned. Come up with a solid plan, set realistic goals and once you do have the persistence to carry through on them.

The Mind Game

One of the key essentials to becoming truly wealthy is your mental attitude. I suppose now would be the time to dip into tired “Zen” sayings and aphorisms such as “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single footstep”, but those expressions do have a bit of truth to them. How you frame every day when you wake up is a key component in your overall prosperity. If you don’t think you’re capable of accomplishing it, you’re probably right and have defeated yourself before you even got out of the starting gate.

Knowing that you will achieve your plans and attain the level of wealth and prosperity that you want, and convincing yourself that it’s not only possible but inevitable is half the battle. The rest is simply details. A lot of complicated details, sure. But the main idea here is that human beings are capable of far more than they believe they are. Think about people you’ve read about in the news that used a surge of adrenaline in a high stress situation to lift a car off of an accident victim, or long distance athletes that have trekked deserts and scaled Mount Everest solo.

While those physical examples of human strength are impressive, the mind is immeasurably more powerful. Keeping your mind limber allows you to face new challenges and create unique and innovative solutions to problems. Aside from simply focusing on your long term goals and visualizing success and the path that leads to that place, many find mental exercises and relaxation and meditation techniques beneficial. You can’t be “on” at all times and it helps to occasionally take a break, find your center and do some mental housecleaning. The most vital point is that if you believe in something and want it badly enough, you’ll figure out a way to make it happen.

Education Doesn’t End At School

Many are often surprised to find out that some of the richest and most successful men and women in our society never received what would be considered a “proper” education. Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and many, many others all dropped out of college to start their own businesses. There’s this idea in our culture that a degree is the main ingredient in lifelong success. It may be important for some, but at the end of the day it’s just a piece of paper. They forget about the education you get from life and compartmentalize learning to a special place and don’t fully integrate it into their everyday experience.

The truly wise amongst us realize that you never stop learning. Every failure is an opportunity to learn something. When you try an idea and it doesn’t work, that’s fine. You’ve discovered yet another way to not get rich. Now reflect on why it didn’t work, glean what knowledge you can from the experience and move on. Dwelling on it won’t help you out in the long run. There are plenty of great resources online such as Mind Tools amongst many others, which feature helpful tips on how to retrain your brain towards a more entrepreneurial mindset and hone your business acumen and skills.


When the average person thinks about the word “investment”, it conjures up images of trading floors, stocks and bonds, mutual funds and the whole package. That’s certainly one way to go about it. Learning the ins and outs of proper money management can go a long way in helping you achieve your goal of becoming rich. Sites like Money Instructor feature a wealth of information to educate yourself on basic financial common sense. But there’s another way of looking at “investment” that applies not only to your finances but your whole life.

Investing in yourself is one of best uses of your money. I’m talking about investing in yourself as a person, making yourself as smart, versatile and productive as you can be, and looking after your health. Taking classes at your local community college is a great investment in your most valuable asset, your brain. Purchasing a gym membership or a new pair of running shoes is a solid investment in your future health, your other dearest asset. A healthy body and a healthy, robust mind complement each other. Neglecting either can be a detriment to your success and overall quality of life.

A wise man once said that it takes a lot of genius and cunning to make a great fortune, and ten times as much to keep it. Learning to invest your savings in a prudent manner early on is important. Educate yourself about diversified investment portfolios. More importantly, learn to manage your money yourself. Most people are outraged when their money manager or stock broker loses their savings. They shouldn’t be. You can’t hand a pile of cash to another person and expect them to make you rich. Learn how to do it yourself without relying on suspect advice from strangers.


While it’s not entirely true that you’ll never get rich working for someone else, a much more certain path to wealth is self-employment. Striking out on your own and starting a business is the way to go. You may think you don’t have the skills, knowledge or experience to start your own business. Nothing could be further from the truth. Marketing guru Seth Godin wrote a fairly influential e-book that’s freely available entitled Everyone’s An Expert that sums this up quite brilliantly. Everyone has an area of expertise in which they are highly knowledgeable. With the exponential pace of growth in technology, capitalizing on your knowledge has never, in the history of the world, been easier.

Obviously, you can’t really start your own airline or copper mine on your own. It’d require too much startup capital. But you can begin your own organic greenhouse or taxi service for a reasonable amount of cash. If you have a lot of knowledge and experience in a particular area you can create your own consultancy. We’ve been told that the path to riches is to get a good job working for some big, important corporation our whole lives. But for much of the history of the United States and the world for that matter, the concept of being in any specific profession or career was foreign to most. People did jobs, and then moved on to the next one when they were finished.

We also tend to easily forget about the humble beginnings of what are now some of our largest corporations. Henry Ford started out as an unemployed machinist tinkering with engines. Most of the earliest pioneers of Silicon Vally started out programming and building DIY computers in their garages. They did the smart thing, had faith in their vision and their ideas, and kept at it until their dreams we’re realized. Most of these mavericks began very small, and grew very slowly for the first few years until enough people believed in their ideas to take them to the next level.

Here’s a quick example of how a seemingly inconsequential idea can get you started on the path towards entrepreneurship. About two years ago I bought some used snow tires for my car from someone else in the neighborhood from an advertisement I saw at a store. When I got home to put them on, I realized that they weren’t the right type, and now I had $200 worth of useless rubber. Then I realized they were in great shape and worth far more than $200. I put them on Craigslist.com for sale at $300, and sold them not more than 3 hours after buying them. I was able to make a tidy $100 profit for practically no work at all.

The seed had been planted in my head at that point. Why couldn’t I keep doing the same thing, with more and more used equipment? Two years down the road, I still am. Except with more expensive things, at a greater profit. Something as simple as buying a pair of tires got me on the road to self-employment and entrepreneurship. It started out with such a simple idea, that anyone is capable of doing. Most people don’t take that little, extra step towards turning a little idea into a business.

Follow Your Passion

Ask anyone that’s ventured into the world of freelancing after a lifetime of working for “The Man” and they’ll tell you a thing or to. First, they’ll let you know that working yourself is almost always more time-consuming, arduous and nerve-wracking than taking a safe, steady position. But they’ll also tell you that working for yourself, even if it means longer hours and less security is far more rewarding mentally and spiritually. It’ll change your whole outlook on life, how you live it and what’s really possible when you take your destiny into your own hands and take a risk.

Most people work jobs they hate because the monetary compensation is just good enough to keep them coming back. But that just pushes you through to the next day. This goes on for awhile until one day you wake up, and realize decades have gone by, and you never did what you really wanted to do. The fact of the matter is we all need to do something to make a living. Why not spend all that time making a living, and doing something you love at the same time. You may fail the first time. Or the second. There’s always that possibility. But if you want that kind of freedom and autonomy in your professional life, you’ll make work.

In Conclusion

There are many, many variables involved in becoming truly wealthy. Some of them are things you can control, and many more are things that you cannot. If you want to truly tip the scales in your favor, master the things you do have control over. Take responsibility for your mistakes, learn your lessons and keep going. Persistence is the ultimate key. Again, it’s not how many times you fail, but rather how often you fail and try again.

There’s no blueprint set in stone for how to get rich, but this rundown should give you a good starting place for where to begin your journey. Here’s a general road to give a sense of the right direction to take:

  1. Educate yourself. Knowledge is power. You don’t have to run off and register for college classes or get a degree at night. Thanks to the power of the Internet, the sum total of all human knowledge is at your fingertips through your computer. Learn about finance, money management, good business practices, accounting and bookkeeping and anything else you think may come in handy in the future.
  2. Develop a routine for success. If you’ve only got so many hours a week set aside to developing your future wealth, schedule regular time slots for you to work on it and keep to that schedule.
  3. Start your own business. It can be anything. Become an Ebay Power Seller or buy things at auction or at clearance or going-out-of-business sales and flip them on Craigslist. Even a small part-time business such as this will teach you important lessons you’ll use later on. The main thing is to start something. Most people that end up rich did it by going into business for themselves.
  4. Connect. Learn to leverage contacts, skills, unique opportunities and your own knowledge to expand your business and take it to the next level.
  5. Diversify your business interests. Up until recently, one could have made a lot of money in real estate by flipping houses, if they got out of the market at the right time. What’s hot one decade almost inevitably will go through a downturn at some point soon. IBM has been a successful corporation for over a hundred years by changing with the times. They got out of the PC manufacturing business when it made sense to move on. Flexibility is key.
  6. Finally, learn to invest your money wisely. Inflation, recessions and other mishaps can take any fortune and turn it into nothing over a lifetime. Know what to invest in, and more importantly when to do it to protect your nest egg over the long term both for you and for future generations.

Being successful in all areas of your life, not just in business or financial matters, is largely a result of the right mental attitude. The world around us, and the manner in which we view it, is largely a construct of the mind. Recognizing that anything is achievable if you want it bad enough is the first step in the right direction. Making sure that this realization is always in the back of your mind throughout your journey is doubly important.

There’s one thing that’s more valuable than money: Time. We’ve all got only so much of it. And in a way, that limitation on a precious resource gives it value in itself. Being acutely aware of time and how you spend it is important, because no matter what you do, it’s slipping away slowly and surely. Getting the most out of every day, every hour and every minute that you live is important. Not only in making money, but enjoying the prosperity your hard work brings in the long run. And if you do make it to wealth and riches, remember that money isn’t what makes you ultimately happy. People and the relationships you share with them are what really matters. But it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a little extra money to enjoy the experience. Cheers.


Beauty is something that captivates and allures both men and women. Women strive to be beautiful throughout their entire lives. Even during childhood, little girls like to dress up and imagine that they are stunning beauties, capable of securing a handsome prince. While beauty may be seen as a more feminine trait, the quest for beauty is not only limited to females. Many men also wish to be perceived as attractive and handsome. In fact, the quest to become beautiful and maintain that beauty is one of the longest and most time consuming struggles of one’s life.

What Is Physical Beauty?

According to the Webster dictionary, beauty is “the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit”. While this definition accurately describes the feelings that beauty evokes, the physical description of what beauty looks like varies depending on a person’s personal preferences and in what culture they were raised. In the United States, a Caucasian woman is generally perceived as beautiful if she is thin, has symmetrical facial features, and ideally possesses a waist to hip ratio of 0.7. However, an African American woman is perceived as beautiful if she possesses a curvier figure, accentuated with a fuller bottom. Men are also held to a certain beauty standard. Women usually prefer men that are tall, with a full head of well-groomed hair, and a muscular torso that consists of broad shoulders and a slim waist.

What is considered to be beautiful truly varies from individual to individual. Some men prefer women that are very thin, while other men prefer women that are full figured and curvy. Most individuals have a specific hair color that they prefer their partners to have, and also prefer certain specific physical features. While these preferences vary, some studies have shown that the overall symmetry of the physical features are what makes them appear beautiful. As reported in “The Independent: Science” by Stephen Khan and Roger Dobson, physical symmetry is a sign of good health and fertility, which humans find to be biologically and subconsciously attractive.

Beauty Starts From Within

Most people know at least one woman, who is not the most beautiful woman around, yet tends to attract men wherever she goes. More beautiful women may wonder what this plainer woman has that they do not and what qualities she possesses that men seem to find so appealing. The answer to that question would be inner beauty.

Inner beauty is a combination of kindness, charisma, confidence, and an upbeat attitude. Even the most beautiful woman in the world will not be seen as attractive if she is obviously unhappy and walks around trying to hide herself, rather than presenting a confident face to the world. As artist and writer, Kahlil Gibran, once said, “Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.”

A man or woman that is confident in themselves and in their physical appearance will be seen as attractive to others. If a person believes that he or she is beautiful, others will believe so as well. However, while confidence is imperative in becoming attractive, a pleasant demeanor is just as, if not more, important. People tend to mimic the emotions of those around them. Because emotions are contagious, people are attracted to those that exude happiness and kindness. Therefore, when beginning the quest to become beautiful and attractive, first work on becoming the best and happiest version of yourself possible. This new-found inner beauty is not only attractive, but will continue to be attractive, even when physical beauty begins to fade.

Attractive Attitudes: Using Inner Beauty To Allure The Opposite Sex

While an upbeat attitude is always appealing, there are other attitudes that are also seen as attractive. To increase attractiveness, many people simply need to master the art of flirting. Flirting is a way of using body language and charisma to pique the interest and become attractive to the opposite sex.

The easiest way to become more flirtatious is to increase eye contact with the opposite sex. This can be done by simply making eye contact and smiling at every person of the opposite sex that you come into contact with. While this may seem uncomfortable at first, this interaction only needs to last a second or two for it to be effective. Most people would be surprised to discover how much more attention that they receive from the opposite sex by simply extending a smile and a quick glance to those around them. It is certainly true that a smile from a stranger can brighten one’s day. Also, when considering that people feed off of the emotions of others, this pleasant display of happiness will make you appear happy, confident, and pleasant to be around.

Once a person learns to successfully flirt with their eyes, they may begin to master other techniques. A quick touch is an easy way to appear flirtatious. A causal touch on the shoulder after a joke has been told or pretending to remove lint from one’s shirt is a great way to break the contact barrier. People that are not afraid of casually touching others appear more confident, friendly, and attractive to others. Another effective way of flirting is to mimic the mannerisms of the person to which you are speaking. Casually leaning your body towards a person of the opposite sex and subtly mimicking their body positioning is a great way to increase feelings of familiarity, comfort, and appeal. When a person is a great flirt, they seem more attractive, charming, and exciting to those around them. Even those who are not the most physically beautiful can greatly increase their attractiveness by learning to effectively flirt and charm the opposite sex.

Physical Beauty: Maintaining A Fit, Beautiful Body

Individuals find different body types to be more attractive based on their culture, personal preferences, and societal influences. While this is true, most people will find themselves to be more attractive to the opposite sex when they maintain a healthy body. A healthy body is one that appears proportional when considering a person’s height and bone structure.

One of the most important factors in maintaining a healthy body is exercise. Proper exercise will not only help to keep the body at a healthy weight, but it will strengthen the muscles and prevent disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average person requires approximately 2.5 hours of moderately intense aerobic activity and 1.25 hours of intense aerobic activity each week. Moderately intense exercise is considered to be brisk walking or casual biking, while intense exercise consists of running, swimming laps, jumping rope, and other activities that require a large amount of effort. These requirements are a great estimate for most individuals, but may vary due to a person’s physical condition, weight, and health.

To maintain a healthy body, one must be sure to eat a healthy and nutritious diet, even when exercising regularly. While fast food is becoming a staple in many people’s diets, most of these foods are unhealthy and contain very little nutritional value. When eating a healthy diet, be sure to eat three nutritious meals, along with a few healthy snacks each day. Frequently fueling the body with healthy foods will keep the metabolism running on high, while providing adequate nutrition to the body. In addition, instead of choosing processed foods, incorporate fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your diet. Choosing to eat a healthy diet will not only help to keep the body looking great, but it will help you to feel great. When you choose a healthy lifestyle, you will not only feel better about your body, but more proud of your lifestyle and attractive to the opposite sex.

Skin: The Canvas Of Beautiful

Beautiful skin is clear, smooth skin. One of the most attractive features of many people, especially women, is their skin. For attractive skin, women should aim to achieve soft, smooth, and fragrant skin, as this will be seen as beautiful by the great majority of people. This can be done by properly removing unwanted hair on a regular basis, adequately moisturizing, and supplying the skin with scented lotions or perfumes. While these habits can help the skin to appear beautiful, many people struggle with two main skin issues. These two issues are acne and wrinkles.

  • Acne: Acne can be a frustrating and embarrassing condition. To treat acne, be sure to cleanse the face with a specially formulated face wash meant for those with acne. There are many great over-the-counter treatments that are effective in treating acne when used regularly. However, if these over-the-counter treatments prove ineffective, a dermatologist may be able to prescribe an effective treatment. While acne can be frustrating to deal with, seeking effective treatment will increase a person’s confidence and improve their appearance immensely.
  • Wrinkles: While wrinkles may be more difficult to treat than acne, there are ways to improve the appearance of wrinkles. The first thing that should be done to treat wrinkles, to is avoid sun exposure. To prevent wrinkles from worsening, avoid excessive tanning of the face and be sure to apply sunscreen. However, once the damage has been done, many people seek to reverse this sign of aging. To do this, many people may choose to utilize an effective wrinkle cream or to receive a corrective cosmetic procedure. While injections, such as Botox, are very effective in eliminating wrinkles, many people would view this procedure as a bit extreme. For those that do not wish to receive any sort of injection, yet wish to receive an effective treatment, many spas offer laser treatments and other facials to improve wrinkles. In addition to these treatments, many facial creams include antioxidants, collagen, and other high quality ingredients that can help to improve the condition of the skin.

Many men and women also improve the appearance of their skin by choosing to tan their skin. While many people prefer a bronzed look, tanning can be very harmful to the overall health of the skin. Aside from causing skin cancer, frequent sun exposure is also known to cause wrinkles. Because of this, it is advisable to bronze the skin using a self tanner. Self tanning lotions and sprays are great ways to maintain a beautiful tan, without the harmful side effects of traditional tanning.

Hair: What’s Attractive?

Hair is another physical feature that is very important to a person’s perceived attractiveness, yet is subject to the unique preferences of each individual. Men are usually deemed more attractive, when they possess a thick mane of well-groomed hair. A man’s hair should be cut into a style, whether kept short or worn long, that is frequently trimmed and appears as though it is cared for. The hair should also be shiny, healthy, and smell pleasant to those in close contact. Unfortunately, most men will eventually begin to experience hair loss. While this is a disappoiting reality for most men, it is better to face the situation, than to try to diguise it. Instead of keeping the hair long or strategically combing the hair to disguise hair loss, many women find cutting the hair very short to be more attactive. Not only does a short cut look better on men that are experiencing heavy hair loss, but it also shows a man’s confidence and comfort with his appearance.

A woman’s hair is one of her most beautiful assets. While some people prefer blond hair, others prefer brunettes or redheads. This is why it is less important to focus on the color of the hair, than it is to focus on the condition and style of the hair. However, it is important to remember to choose a hair color that is flattering, appears to be in good condition, and accentuates the color of the skin and eyes.

To appear as beautiful as possible, it is important for women to keep their hair in great condition. This can be done by properly conditioning and frequently trimming the hair. Beautiful hair should appear shiny, be soft to the touch, and smell great. For very alluring hair, many women choose to keep their hair long. Long, flowing locks are viewed as sexy and feminine and is seen as more attractive than short hair by a great number of people. However, this is not to say that short hair is conclusively less attractive on females. If a woman feels that a short hair cut flatters her face and makes her feel more confident, then that hair cut will prove more attractive. The most important thing to consider when choosing a hairstyle, is what will make a woman feel more confident and make her hair look as healthy and touchable as possible.

Maintaining A Youthful, Beautiful Appearance

Youth is a very attractive quality. People that appear youthful and vivacious are more attractive to others. However, those that are younger are not always more attractive. To be attractive, it is more important to appear youthful and healthy, than it is to actually be young. To appear youthful, one simply needs to take careful care of his or her body. By exercising, eating a healthy diet, and taking care of the hair and skin, one can appear to be years younger than they really are. People are attracted to those that take care of their body and appearance. To be seen as youthful and beautiful, it is important to remember that you are worth the effort it takes to look your best, and be sure the make that effort.

You Are Unique. You Are Beautiful!

The most important thing to know about beauty, is how to recognize it in yourself. Most people tend to dwell on their flaws and find it impossible to see the beauty in themselves. Nobody is perfect. No person is without flaws. This may be difficult to believe when society is inundating you with magazines and television shows full of beautiful models and celebrities with seemingly perfect bodies. However, even these beautiful cover models have flaws, many of which are hidden by talented photographers and airbrush artists. While viewing these magazines or other media sources, keep in mind that the celebrities they feature have been re-touched and made to look as “perfect” as they appear.

Imperfections and flaws are what make a person unique. While many people find themselves under pressure to look like Barbie or Ken, not everyone is meant to look that way. If everyone did look that way, those ideals would no longer be considered beautiful. There is something beautiful about every person. It is important to recognize that beauty, accentuate it, and be confident in your uniqueness.

While it may be nice to be beautiful, it is important to understand that attraction is not solely based on physical beauty. If most people were to think back on the last person they were attracted to, it would be safe to say that many of those attractive individuals were not exceptionally beautiful. Perhaps they had a great smile, or a cute laugh; but you were probably most attracted to them because they made you feel good about yourself. To be attractive, you must be at peace with yourself, confident, and happy. When a person possesses these qualities, they will not only find themselves more attractive to others, but able to make other people feel more attractive as well.


How to Gain Influence and Power

The power to influence a person is one of the single most important traits to possess. Individuals, who influence others, can wield the masses and generate power to accomplish a goal. Successful business leaders, celebrities and politicians have mastered this particular task. Individuals in these roles are often extroverted, charismatic, charming and persuasive. These individuals know how to develop people and disseminate their ideas to persuade the masses.


Celebrities are particularly well versed in influencing the masses. Most celebrities are the greatest sales people. For instance, an actor or actress may promote an idea, provide a message, promote a product, provide therapeutic relief or be a role model in a particular film or movie. The movie actors or actresses can influence the masses to behave a certain way or buy a certain product. Successful movie stars like Jennifer Aniston, Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Will Smith, Jennifer Lopez or Angelina Jolie, develop trends that move the masses. Individuals desire to wear a dress like Jennifer Lopez or Sandra Bullock wore to the Oscars. Suddenly, overnight, they have become the best sales person for a particular trend.

Likewise, a musician may write a song to influence people to behave in a certain way, dance a certain way or feel a certain way. The song is available for millions to listen to on the internet or radio. Those who purchase the music are particularly supportive of the musical composition, the lyrics, or the artist. Celebrities may gain millions of supporters from a particular song with a particular message.

Authors have the same effect. They may write a book or novel that inspires people or instructs people. The book is available to the masses. Millions of people may purchase the book, adopt the ideas. A movement will subsequently be started by the people who agree with the principles explained in the book. Nearly everyone is familiar with the sounds of Mrs. Beyonce Knowles. She is currently a household name and so are her innovative fashions. Her music, along with greats, like Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and Prince, will be remembered for a lifetime. These “superstars” not only sold music, but they sold a way of life.


Politicians will not be elected without the power to influence and gain power. The very definition of a politician is an elected individual who can persuade people to accomplish a particular task. Ineffective politicians cannot get policies passed, they cannot raise money, and they cannot effectively negotiate with world leaders to keep wars from erupting around the world. Effective leaders develop allies and can influence those allies to accomplish tasks on their behalf. Politicians must also be good delegators. They must effectively organize teams in order to accomplish a goal. They must also good motivators and communicators. They must also garner the respect of the masses. Effective politicians can accomplish all of these goals and encourage the masses to support their causes or their way of life.

Two Components of Power

According to some experts, power has two components, “personal power” and “perceived power.” Personal power gives individuals the strength to accomplish goals, face adversity, and recover from adversity. Perceived power is gauging others perception of the power you possess. An individual possess power, but appear to some people not to have any power. Alternatively, a person may not have any power, but appear to some people as having a substantial amount of power. Individuals should strive to strike a balance between perceived power and personal power.

How Individuals Attain Power and Influence

Know Your Audience

People, who attain power and influence, understand the motivations of others or a large group of people. These people become powerful by recognizing an individual’s motivations or desires. Great leaders know their audience. For example, individuals who are suffering from economic frustration or marital problems may be more likely to purchase music or entertainment that provides comic relief regarding the subject manner. Other examples of causes that entertainers or politicians may address are as follows:

  • Charity Cause, such as emergency response & rebuilding in Haiti
  • People who Desire Luxury Items
  • Movements that Inspire People
  • How to Find Love
  • How to Become Rich
  • How to Attain Material Items
  • How to Survive
  • How to Thrive at Work
  • How to Do What You Love
  • How to Survive a Midlife Crisis
  • How to Save Money
  • How to Avoid Exorbitant Taxes
  • How to Retire
  • How to Party Like a Star
  • How to Raise Children
  • How to Develop Friendships
  • How to Find a Spouse
  • How to be Romantic
  • How to Overcome Adversity
  • How to Overcome Negativity
  • How to Move to a More Affluent Neighborhood
  • How to Buy a Luxury Vehicle

Depending upon the leader, each will take a different approach to address the subject matter. However, the goal is simple. Each leader wants to influence their audience to achieve the goal addressed in their medium. The more people that purchase their product, the more people they have influenced to become a supporter of their particular cause.

Great leaders know what will motivate their audience to spend money or support a cause. Great leaders capitalize on this knowledge and produce products, entertainment or services that will make the people excited and want to buy more. Leaders who advertise to people who do not like their particular cause, who have no money or wield no power are wasting their energies. These people are not likely to purchase products or advertise to others regarding product or service. Celebrities must know the type of audience that will buy their form of entertainment. Otherwise, their art, product, or service will not appeal to the masses. Likewise politicians must know the concerns of their party and the majority of individuals. Otherwise, their ratings may decline, their policies may not pass, and they may not be re-elected.

Learn to Think Quickly in the Face of Adversity

Some individuals are adept in handling situations that they can imagine. Some imaginable forms of adversity may include:A death in the family

  • A death of a pet
  • A loss of a job
  • A loss of a best friend
  • A natural disaster
  • Ridicule
  • Slander
  • Libel
  • A temporary financial setback

However, most individuals are not equipped to handle all of these things if they happen at once. Alternatively, if these events occur on a massive scale, most individuals are not equipped to handle them. For instance, a person may lose their house, car, friends, entire family, job, financial source of income and involuntarily becomes a public figure within six months or a year. The person may be slandered in the media daily and threatened by legal authorities. This person may also not be able to obtain adequate legal representation. This is an unfathomable course of events for most people. Some people may be resilient enough to recover from this event because they are trained in disaster recovery. Others, who could have never imagined this chain of events, may not recover as fast as the public would wish.

The Group Effect

An instance where this chain of events may occur happens when a group retaliates against another group in order maintain control of a situation. When several people act in concert against a person, it is called the “group effect.” The “group effect” describes the phenomenon of making a person feel as if they have no power, because so many individuals have acted against the person. People, who engage in organized stalking rings or ridicule a person through innuendo, force the person to feel as if they have no power. A person, who is equipped to handle the “group effect,” will probably have the ability to remain calm and influence people in a tough situation.

Know How to Handle the Media

Likewise, a person who can handle the media is more likely to gain influence and power. This person can deflect questions and remain calm under pressure. This type of person is more likely to become successful. People who are not embarrassed by natural and daily occurrences will be more equipped to handle the harshness of some of the media outlets. People, who are not equipped to handle life’s unexpected curveballs, will be more likely to feel emotionally drained from the pressure. Great leaders imagine the worst thing that can happen to them and prepare for the occurrence.

Some people view unprepared individuals as weak or helpless. These individuals are not helpless, they are simply unprepared. People, who are bullies, prey on unprepared people and taunt them with their weaknesses. People who are prepared to handle public mockery will become better leaders. Luckily, this is a skill that can be taught. However, some people make professions out of bullying people until they have a breakdown, commit suicide or change to meet the other person’s point of view. The individuals may have been good leaders. However, a jealous individual may have decided to make the individual’s life miserable. Great leaders must be prepared for this sociopathic type of behavior and know how to stop these people legally.

Think Outside the Box

In some instances, even the most prepared person is not equipped to handle some situations. In these instances, it is best for the person to remain calm and strategize to determine the best course of action. In some instances, this is precisely what the person is expecting. Some great leaders plan radical movements, in these instances, in order to regain control over their lives. These instances are rare but are necessary in order to maintain control. Leaders such as, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi and Nelson Mandela each led radical movements in order to regain control for their people and themselves. Leaders are often controversial and not well liked by a certain majority. However, their movements changed the way society responded to particular social issues. Now, because of their leadership the problems faced during their times are not as prevalent as they were during the time of their leadership.

Have an Internal Locus of Control

Learn to become an authentic person and look within for guidance. Relying upon others excessively may lead to problems. For instance, a person who defines themselves based upon what another person thinks of them will always be unhappy. Each individual must learn to be happy with them. If a person or group betrays you and you are dependent upon their encouragement, support or love, it may be devastating. Individuals must learn to engage in positive self talk in order to avoid losing your indentity if someone takes advantage of you. Every individual desires accolades, praise, complements, support, and love. However, the key to success is to not become dependent on this in order to be a whole person.

Knowledge is Power

Unfortunately, some people will stop at nothing to obtain power or take power from a group of people. Those types of people will find any weakness in an individual and exploit it until the person is debilitated. The more you know, the better equipped you will become to rebut these types of attacks. Knowledge of the law, business, medicine, and social awareness are instrumental in developing a solid suit of armor when going into battle with individuals who launch an attack against you.

Have an Extensive Network

The power of social networks is instrumental in the age of the internet. If a person has an extensive social network and they are wronged by a business or group, they can simply encourage that group to withdraw business or support. Developing a network is not as easy as one would imagine. The more you help people and refer people, the stronger the network will become. If you are the moderator for a particular group or blog, people will turn to you for guidance and introductions to people who are members of your group or blog. This will help you build a network, influence, and power over time.

Self Confidence

Self confidence is similar to having an internal locus of control. However, self confidence involves another component that the internal locus of control does not address. Simply stated, what you believe about yourself may be projected to your audience. This is not true in all cases, but in some cases it is true. Some individuals think very highly of themselves, but do not exude this belief because they feel that it is not appropriate. Other people do not think very highly of themselves. However, no one would suspect self esteem issues, because they always project a positive image to the crowd.

Know Your Weakness

Know your vulnerabilities. Focus on these issues to avoid an unforeseeable attack by an individual. For instance, a person who relies upon a company for income may be continually harassed by co-workers who desire your position. If the company is aware that you have no other source of income, they may not address your concerns because you have no perceived power or actual power. The managers may not even acknowledge your concerns. This is an unfortunate situation because no matter what you do, you cannot get ahead. This type of environment weighs on the emotional psyche. It is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of a toxic environment that preys upon weakness of employees. This type of behavior is illegal and is prosecutable under the law. However, there must be substantial evidence to prove your case.

Never reveal low self-esteem to friends or co-workers. An individual may betray you and use your vulnerability as a way to gain power that you once possessed. People who are not prepared for the betrayal may find themselves in the depths of despair and disbelief at the actions of a “frenemy.” Guard personal information from people whom you suspect have something to gain if the two of you are no longer friends. If you decide to make your life an “open book,” be certain that you are equipped to deal with any negative comments and betrayals that you may receive.

Listen to People

Great leaders actively listen. They listen to the followers to determine what they would like from them. They integrate constructive comments into their products, services, policies, movies, or music. Great leaders know what their people want because they ask constantly. Then they take their comments and make changes based upon these actions.

Great Leaders Have a Vision

Great leaders have a vision and a plan to implement their vision. They know how to encourage people to help them accomplish their goal. Leaders also know how to reward their followers to keep them encouraged and reprimand them when they get out of control. Great leaders possess the authority to execute their vision and people follow because of their perceived expertise in a particular area.

Help People

People who use their power to help people are more successful than those who do not, typically. However, there are very successful people in history who do not adhere to these policies. Some powerful people will only help a certain group of people. They remain in power because they will only help certain people become successful.

Leaders should use their power for good reasons and not bad. Great leaders use their power to help individuals and not hurt them or torture them. Great leaders coach other people and help them become successful. However, they do not coach and help someone at their own expense.

Marketing Power and Wielding Influence

As stated earlier, social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest, Snapchat and LinkedIn will help individuals manage their network and influence a group of people by developing a rapport. Individuals have access to millions of people on the internet without regard to time or location. These tools allow effective communication among groups of people. Referrals are a fast way to earn respect on LinkedIn and Facebook. Individuals are grateful when a person connects them with a contact that can advance their career or accomplish a goal. The more people that you communicate with the easier it will be to raise money for a fundraiser, obtain a job, or organize an event. Individuals should maximize their use of Facebook and other online networking to have a pre-determined audience to sharpen communication skills, influence, and persuade them to your cause.

Publications Regarding Influence and Power

Individuals who are seeking to gain more knowledge in the area of influence and power may elect to read some of the following publications. These books will give you a range of theories and ideas on how to obtain power and influence the masses. Several other books are also available. However, you may find them through further research on the topic.


How to End an Abusive Relationship

An abusive relationship can be defined as a pattern of abuse or coercive behaviors against another person with whom there is supposed to be an intimate relationship. Generally this abuse takes place in order for the abuser to maintain control over the other partner, and it can include emotional, physical, psychological, or sexual abuse. Intimidation, threats, and isolation are also techniques used by the abuser to maintain control and power within the relationship. Abuse can occur in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, and both males and females can be abused, but the most common abuse stories feature a woman being abused at the hand of her boyfriend, husband, or other male acquaintance.

At least one in three women in the United States has been a victim of domestic violence at some point in their lives. It is the leading cause of injury among women between the ages of 15 and 45, and more than three women in the United States alone lose their lives due to violence at the hand of their boyfriend or husband every day. A woman is beaten every nine seconds within the U.S., and women are also nine times more likely to be the victim of a violent attack within her own home than in public by a stranger.

Signs of Abuse

There are many warning signs to abusive relationships that can tell a woman if she is in a dangerous relationship. Jealousy or possessiveness is a primary sign, as this goes along with the abuser’s need to control the other person. The abuser may try to isolate the other person and blame them when he mistreats the other person. A violent temper and rages may precede physical violence and abusive behaviors. Drug and alcohol abuse is also extremely common within situations of domestic violence, and many abusers were also abused themselves as children.

There are also warning signs for emotional and psychological abuse. The abuser may make jokes that humiliate and demean the other person, or they may do things to belittle, criticize, and embarrass them. Controlling all finances and forcing the other person to account for what they spend, keeping track of the other person’s time, and discouraging relationships with family and friends are also common occurrences within relationships of domestic violence.

Friends and family members may be the first to notice signs of abuse within a woman’s relationship, as they may observe controlling or abusive behaviors. If the woman has new bruises or is constantly coming up with excuses to explain marks on her body, these are signs that abuse may be occurring. If the woman is constantly defending her boyfriend or husband’s behavior or saying that it is her fault for the way he acts, a domestic violence situation is more than likely occurring.

Cycle of Violence

Most abusive relationships follow the same cycle of violence, which consists of six steps.

  1. Abuse. This is when the abusive partner actually lashes out physically, emotionally, or sexually against the other partner. This is a display of power, domination, and control over the victim.
  2. Guilt. After the abuse, which may have consisted of hitting, sexually assaulting, or belittling, the partner who caused the abuse will feel guilty. It is not always guilt for what he has done, and sometimes the guilt can be solely out of fear for facing the consequences of his actions.
  3. Excuses. This is where the abuser attempts to justify his actions. Often in abusive relationships the abusive person will blame the other partner for their actions, as if somehow they caused the abuser to lose their temper. They may also promise that the actions will never happen again, and tell the other partner that if they change their behavior they will not be driven to such an extreme course of action in the future.
  4. Normal Behavior. During this time, the abuser is attempting to keep the other person in the relationship by behaving as normally as possible. He may act as though the incident never occurred, or he may act extra loving, affectionate, and attentive. This will give the abused partner comfort in the thought that maybe her husband or boyfriend really has changed.
  5. Planning. During this stage, the abusers controlling behaviors begin again, and they begin to notice what their partner is doing wrong. From there he will think up a way to regain control of the relationship, which is generally an abusive behavior.
  6. Set-up. The abuser puts his plan into action and creates a situation where abuse is justifiable in his mind.

Abuse also escalates with time. In the beginning of a relationship, a woman may only experience name calling and demanding behavior, but with time these things will progress to more severe emotional abuse and often physical abuse. Signs of abuse may not be as obvious in the beginning, but the cycle of violence will continue to progress and escalate throughout the duration of the relationship.

Breaking the Cycle

Ending an abusive relationship is often a difficult decision, and in many cases it can seem even more frightening than the actual abuse. Often the woman feels scared, guilty, or lonely before the break up, and it may seem easier to just stay in the abusive situation. These feelings are normal, but it is important for the abused individual to remind themselves of what they have gone through and all the abusive and controlling behaviors they have endured. Ending a dangerous relationship is the best possible solution, and she needs to continue to tell herself that.

Place Blame Where it is Deserved

The first step in breaking the cycle of violence is for the victim to realize that the situation is not their fault. The partner alone is responsible for the abusive action, and as much as she may love him or try to make the relationship work, nothing will change by remaining within an abusive environment. The abuser made a conscious decision to abuse his wife or girlfriend, and nothing she could have said or done could cause it. Trying to change behaviors or behave “better” will not result in the end of the abuse. Domestic violence is not caused by stress, anger, or provocation; rather, it is always a choice to be abusive.

Build a Support System

Sometimes this step is difficult, as women in abusive relationships have generally been isolated from their friends and family by their controlling partners. While it may be embarrassing to have to tell people about the circumstances leading to the break up, it is important for the woman to have as much support as possible during that time. These ties will help a person to get through some of the hard parts involved with ending a relationship. Since being lonely causes many women to return to their abusive husbands or boyfriends, having a good group of people around will help to reduce this affect.

Consider Safety

Safety is a major issue to be concerned about when breaking up with someone that has previously been abusive. Although in a non-abusive relationship it may be seen as cold, in these types of situations it is perfectly acceptable to end the relationship via phone or email. If the woman feels she needs to end the relationship in person, a public place should always be used. She should take a cell phone, alert a friend or family member to where is she and what she will be doing, and ask someone to wait for her somewhere close.

The woman should do her best to be strong during the conversation and should not allow herself to be convinced that she is making a mistake or that her partner can change. There is also no obligation to give multiple reasons for the breakup, so she should tell her partner that she is done dealing with his abusive behaviors and is ending the relationship, and she should not worry about providing additional excuses.

Her parents, roommates, and friends should also be made aware of the breakup, especially if he tries to come by her home or workplace. She should make sure that she has a safe place to stay and should refrain from walking in public alone, especially in isolated areas. If any type of threatening contact is made from the former boyfriend or husband, the abusive emails, letters, or texts should all be saved and given to the proper authorities. If necessary, the woman should have a safe place to go or stay in order to avoid the other partner.

Cut Off Contact

As difficult as it may seem, the only way to begin to get over any type of relationship, especially one plagued by domestic violence, is to cut off all contact with the other person. Unlike a normal relationship, people involved in a domestic violence situation cannot expect to be friends with their ex after the break up. After spending months or years with another person, this is often a painful process, but it is entirely necessary. No contact means exactly that; no contact of any variety ever. This includes emails, texts, and phone calls. The abused party will need to go cold turkey and have nothing to do with the other partner.

The no contact rule is designed to give the abused partner space emotionally and physically. The abusive partner had been a source of pain for his partner for an extended period of time, so having zero contact should give her freedom from the abuse she was forced to suffer through. To begin to heal and move on with her life, she needs to avoid that source of pain at all cost

The no contact rule is not a way to win the ex back or to punish him by making him miss his wife or girlfriend. If a woman is viewing the space like this, she is still holding on to the relationship and clinging to hope that it can be saved. Before she can begin to heal she needs to accept the fact that the relationship needs to be over in for her to preserve her physical and psychological well being.

If the relationship has produced children, cutting of contact completely may not be an option, but the court system should become involved in order to work out any arrangements. This way there is a third party mediating all of the exchanges that is also acting in the best interest of the child. In domestic violence situations the custody arrangements are worked out so that as little contact as possible is made between the two parents.

Legal Action

Domestic violence is against the law. Threats should be taken seriously, and law enforcement should be contacted. If an abused person chooses to press charges against her abuser, many legal consequences can take place, some of which include:

  • Prison or jail time
  • Probation
  • Court-mandated domestic counseling
  • Anger management classes
  • Fines
  • Loss of custody of children
  • Loss of gun possession rights

Legal consequences will be dependent on a variety of factors. Prior or similar convictions and whether or not the individual is already on parole will generally result in a tougher conviction. If there is a large amount of media and community attention, the court system may also act more harshly to make an example out of the individual showing that domestic violence is not tolerated.

There are processes in place that allow for a victim of an abusive relationship to get protection. The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act exists in order to assure that victims of abuse receive the maximum protection that the law can provide. A Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRA) is one such option. This restraining order passed through the court system as a way of telling the abuser to stay away from, to stop harassing, and to stop harming the other partner. Violations of the protection order can result in jail time for the partner. Many states, like California, also offer free legal help for individuals who are attempting to obtain a restraining order.

After Care

The work of the abused person is not completed after the break up. There are several things that she could and should do in order to help her overcome emotionally from such a traumatic event.

Counseling and Therapy

Seeking help from a licensed counselor can help to provide some relief from some of the feelings of guilt, sadness, and shame that come with being a victim of domestic violence. Therapy can help to strengthen a victim’s belief in themselves and realize that the choice of ending the relationship was the best possible option. With the counselor, she will work to accept that the relationship has ended and acknowledge that she deserves real happiness without abuse. This is also important in preventing the woman from getting into another abusive relationship in the future.

Support Groups

As discussed in the statistics of domestic violence earlier, one in three women will become its victim at some point in their lives. Because of this, many areas have support groups in place for victims, and these types of groups can help women to heal through each other’s experiences in a community environment. This will give the woman comfort in knowing she is not alone, and she can get some valuable advice on what types of activities helped women in the exact same situation cope with their experiences.


There are many books and written resources available to help a person get over an abusive relationship and to educate people about domestic violence. Local libraries and domestic violence programs may have these items to check out or borrow, so it should be relatively easy to find written information for help. Some good books to consider include:


Avoiding the Same Mistakes

Women who have been abused in a pervious relationship are likely to be involved in a domestic violence situation in the future. In order to avoid this cycle, it is important for the abused woman to learn from her mistakes. She needs to take a good look at herself and figure out what made her susceptible to being abused in the original relationship, and she should look for warning signs that may indicate potential partners are abusive. These warning signs are red flags, and they should not be ignored. Getting out of a relationship at the beginning when these signs first present themselves are easier than trying to get out later after the abuse has progressed.

How to Help a Friend

If a person has a friend that they suspect is being abused, it is important to let her know about their concern. The following phrases are important to use when discussing the abuse:

  • I’m worried about you
  • You deserve better
  • It is not your fault
  • I’m here for you no matter what
  • I’m glad you told me

Friends should be accepting, listen what the woman describes her circumstance, and reach out for help. Friends should also be willing to help the woman come up with a safety plan and ideas for the woman to effectively and safely get out of the relationship. Crisis lines are available 24 hours a day and provide anonymity, and these lines can provide great resources for how to best help her.

Additional Resources

For more information on ending an abusive relationship, warning signs, and advice on how to move on after the relationship has ended, there are various resources that a person can access. Abuse victims or friends can search for domestic violence groups within their area or contact their local library for additional reading materials. Local law enforcement and hospital staff will also be able to point the individuals in the right direction to get the help that they need.

Some additional online resources include:


How to Become Popular

The desire to be popular is one of the basic human needs. What popularity consists of may vary from one age group or culture to another, but even the most isolated loner yearns for acceptance and approval.

Early humans were pack animals. The adage “safety in numbers” was a matter of survival for our ancestors. Even today, most of us are made uncomfortable by extended isolation from our peers. We have a deep-seated craving to be accepted, loved, a member of the group. This craving is overshadowed only by our physical needs for food, shelter, and security.

Dictionaries define the word popular as “to be regarded with favor, approval, or affection by people in general.” Popularity, then, is the status of being accepted and admired by others. Still, there are many variations of popularity and different requirements for gaining each of them.

The popularity of celebrities depends mostly on outward appearances and public performances. The adulation they receive comes from being perceived as more beautiful, talented, and wealthy than the average person. The majority of us will never have a chance at that kind of attention, but we can learn to be more popular with those around us at any stage of our lives.

Surviving High School

High school popularity frequently comes from the same sort of surface persona. The “popular kids” are the jocks, cheerleaders, and their friends. Sadly, most teenagers think cool clothes, a talent for sports, or a wealthy family are the only way to be popular.

A beautiful, blond, 17 year old girl we’ll call Jane said, when asked what it took to be popular in high school, “You have to have sexy, brand name clothes. You have to get up, at least, an hour early every day to fix your hair and makeup. You must own a cool car or have a cool boyfriend who does. You can’t be too smart. It helps to flirt with all the cute boys, even if you don’t like them and you can never hang out with anyone who doesn’t belong.”

Sadly this is a common conception of what it takes to be popular. However, the fact is popularity in High School can be achieved in other ways. People who tell kids that crave acceptance to “just be yourself,” leave out a very important part of the advice. You must be your BEST self.

  • Always be well-groomed. Shower every day, use deodorant, but not heavy colognes. Wash your hair at least three or four times a week. Find a style that flatters your face and carry a small comb or brush to keep it neat all day. Girls should use make-up sparingly. Apply it to emphasize your best feature, but blend it carefully so that it doesn’t look fake. You don’t need the most expensive clothes. Check out fashion magazines and be inventive. Develop your own style, but don’t get too elaborate. Simple is always acceptable.
  • Act confident. Body language is important. Relax, hold your head up, stand straight, walk like you have a purpose, make eye contact, smile and speak to all the people you meet, not just the popular kids. It may be hard at first but, if you look confident, others will think you feel that way and most of them will smile back. As you become friendlier, so will they.
  • Get involved. Join after school groups, clubs, or sports teams. Find something you enjoy and participate. You’ll meet people with the same interests and soon have new friends.
  • Show an interest in other people. Ask how their day is going, then pay attention to what they say. Find common ground and share your side. Find out what they are interested in and ask them about it. Listen closely, ask questions, then listen some more. A good listener is always in demand.
  • Don’t boast, if you deserve credit, let someone else tell about it.
  • Be a nice person. Don’t lie; people who can’t be trusted are not popular for long. Keep your word, dependability is important. Don’t spread gossip. Don’t say anything behind someone’s back that you aren’t willing to say to their face. Practicing The Golden Rule will help you build a solid circle of friends.
  • Accept the fact that not everyone will like you. But, continue to be nice to them anyway. Others are watching and you will gain friends in other directions.

Learning Independence at College

Attending college is the first chance many people have to choose their own friends and decide what kind of person they want to be. Even if you are still living at home, the college atmosphere is completely different from high school. You will be sharing classrooms with a much more diverse group of people than at any other time in your life. If you are living in a dorm, you finally have control of your life. To succeed, you must be in control. Time management and responsibility are more important than ever.

However, many of the rules for high school will still apply. Appearances still count. The other people you meet will still appreciate a good listener. Too much bragging, twisting the truth or constant sarcasm will still turn people off.

What you were in high school is over. College is a chance to start fresh. Again, become involved.

  • Find groups that match your interests and join them.
  • Smile and speak to people everywhere you go. Strike up casual conversations. Ask what dorm they are in; invite them to sit with you in the cafeteria.
  • On the first day of classes, introduce yourself to everyone around you. These will be your study partners, not only this semester but, for years to come. Ask their major, where they are living, and listen closely. Remember what they say. It’s important to them and they’ll like you for it.
  • If you are living in a dorm, leave your door open sometimes. Drop in on other people on your floor. Make friends with your RA.
  • Study hard, getting good grades in college earns you respect as it never did in high school. Speak up in class. Everyone enjoys active discussions more than lectures.
  • Initiate activities outside of class. Invite people to join you for lunch or dinner. Arrange to see a movie or study together at the library.

This is your opportunity to learn more about people outside your normal cultural environment. The friends you make in college may stay with you for life. Your college years can be a chance to build an important network of support for all your future endeavors. All night parties may be tempting and feel like popularity, but they don’t last long. Bonding with common interests is a much better choice.

Joining the Workforce

Networking in college is only the beginning. Networking is just another name for building and maintaining a large network of friends. The wider your network, the more popular you will feel. The most important rule in networking is to stay in touch with everyone.

Learn all you can about each contact, including family members, birthdays, anniversaries, and affiliations. Always ask about family members, send greetings on birthdays, etc. It’s not as difficult as it sounds. There are many software contact applications that will allow you to store info and set up reminders. Then it’s just a matter of following up.

Popularity at work requires some of the same people skills you learned in school. Humans of all ages and circumstances need to feel appreciated. Almost everyone will respond favorably to honest interest in them and their activities. Your own search for popularity is a reflection of that same need. At work, as nearly everywhere else in society, certain elements of behavior will gain you respect and admiration.

  • Appearance always counts. Your clothing should fit the circumstances. Usually work environments will require something on the conservative side. Unless you are in the entertainment field, people expect professional attire. Regardless of whether that means a uniform of some sort, a polo shirt and khakis, or a suit, clean and neat is the first priority.
  • Be friendly to everyone. Don’t just talk to people who can help your career. Be nice to the janitor, cashier, or doorman as well. They are people with the same need to be appreciated as anyone else. Snobbery won’t make you popular.
  • Expand your horizons. Listening is still of primary importance, but adults are also expected to be able to carry on intelligent conversation. Prepare by keeping up with current events. However, try to steer clear of controversial subjects in the workplace. Arguments will not endear you to the boss. Leave political agendas and religious topics until after work.
  • Volunteer to help others. Offer assistance to colleagues who have a big job in progress. If someone has their hands full, take part of the load or open the door for them. Offer to help out with office parties or team events.
  • Stay dependable. A reputation for honesty and reliability are a high priority in all walks of life, but never more than at work. Be punctual, show up every day, do your best at whatever task is assigned to you.

The main keys to popularity at work are doing your job well and being friendly with everyone. Even the boss needs to be liked. Develop an empathetic outlook. Always try to see the other person’s point of view. Find common ground to build rapport. Share something about yourself that will allow them to feel a connection with you, but keep such personal items as your big fight last night with your significant other out of the conversation.

Developing Personal Relationships

Being popular in school or at work is fairly simple. You already have something in common with the people you meet. Your shared location is enough to open the conversation even with strangers. Meeting people without that framework can sometimes seem difficult.

The key is finding places you are interested in going where you are likely to meet compatible people. Religious organizations are good places to make friends. Attend services and speak to people. Smile and introduce yourself. Volunteer for committees. Sign up for classes. Does this sound familiar? That is because the path to popularity is basically the same in all situations.

The problem with forming personal relationships is finding locations. Every town has clubs, non-profit organizations, community centers or colleges. Pick one or two and become involved. If you are into physical fitness, join a gym or the local YMCA. Was history one of your favorite subjects? Visit the local historical society and offer to help out. Hospitals use volunteers for many things and they are always short-handed.

Once you’ve found the place where you expect to meet people with common ground, remember the rules.

  • Smile and introduce yourself, be friendly.
  • Ask about the other person and then listen closely. Consider things from their viewpoint.
  • Appearance matters. You don’t always have to be perfectly groomed, but looking clean and neat tells people that you care about yourself and about their opinion.
  • Be dependable and honest. If people perceive you as trustworthy, half the battle is won.

It sounds so simple. Yet many people have trouble putting themselves forward. Shyness is frequently the excuse given. We tend to think of shyness as a genetic trait. Something we are born with and can never overcome. However, shyness is usually a learned behavior. Overcoming it is not easy, but it can be done. Shyness is a self-fulfilling behavior. John thinks he is shy, so he acts shy. Other people are busy socializing and don’t even notice that John is sitting quietly in the corner feeling left out. John simply doesn’t know what to say, so he doesn’t join the conversation.

The answer is not easy, but it is simple. You’ve got to plan ahead. If you know you are going to a meeting, find out everything you possibly can about the subject beforehand. If it is a party, find out who else will be there and learn all about them. Have practice conversations with your mirror. Breathe deeply and slowly to calm yourself. Stand straight. Keep your head up. Smile. Introduce yourself to strangers. Listen to the people around you, pick a group that is discussing something you are comfortable with and join it. Here’s how. Think of a conversation as a web. People don’t normally talk in straight lines. They go off on tangents. Listen carefully to what people say. Most casual conversation is random. Joe says, “I took Sally to the movie on Saturday.” You have many possible replies.

  • What movie did you see?
  • Sally is a beautiful girl, but she isn’t the least stuck up about it. I really like her.
  • I went bowling with my brothers that night.

You get the idea. Expanding the conversation only requires you to choose a point from Joe’s statement that you can use to move the discussion onto a new path. It helps if you know something about the person’s interests ahead of time. If Mary is a big football fan, learn more about her favorite team and how their season is going. It may seem awkward at first, but the more you practice the easier it will get.

People like to be comfortable. They choose friends who are similar to them in some way. We all need to feel important, admired, respected. A good listener, who can keep the conversation going with some small comment that builds rapport, will always be appreciated. If you find groups with common interests, present yourself as a friendly person, and always demonstrate an honest reliable behavior, friends will accumulate around you. They may not be the movers and shakers, but they will be companions whose company you enjoy.



Easy Ways You Can Help People in Need

You don’t have to look very far to find people in need these days. In today’s troubled economic times, many people have experienced job layoffs, fewer work hours, corporate downsizing, salary reductions and various other situations that have caused financial hardships for them. Add to this the rising costs of necessities like food, rent, utilities and transportation, and you can see how difficult it might be for people who are dealing with higher expenses along with lower income. If they also incur additional unexpected expenses like medical bills, it is easy for them to feel overwhelmed. When they are accustomed to taking care of their financial responsibilities without help, it is difficult for them to admit that they need assistance.

Help Them Keep Their Dignity

When you think about people in need, try to mentally put yourself in their place. Consider how you would feel if you were in their situation and what you would like someone to do to help you in that case. If possible, try to help people while allowing them to maintain their dignity. Do not wait for them to ask for help. If you believe that they could use some assistance, give them what they need if you can. If you have an opportunity to offer a job to someone in need, even if it is only a small task, the needy one will have a chance to earn money instead of receive charity. If they do not feel like they are accepting charity, they will have more self-respect and hopefulness. If the needy people feel better about getting a loan instead of a gift, you can give in that way. When you want to give to people without getting anything in return, ask them to “pay it forward” when they can. Tell them to pay you back by helping others in need when their own situation improves. That way, you will not need to know whether they pay it back or not, and they will not feel obligated to you.


Most large cities have homeless shelters and soup kitchens, and they can always use volunteers to help with various chores. You could bring food, ask grocery stores or other possible sources of food for donations, cook, serve food, give some words of encouragement to those who come to eat and clean up after the meals. If you have time to offer your assistance at these places, you will be helping many people who are less fortunate. If you know some needy people who are able to work, encourage them to volunteer their time at the shelters and kitchens too. When they work to help others, it will not cost them anything but time, and they will see that there are many people in similar situations. Keeping busy in this way will help them to avoid becoming depressed because of their problems. They can feel good about themselves when they have the opportunity to do something positive for others.

Help build a house for Habitat for Humanity, an organization that builds houses for needy people. Donations provide the materials, and volunteers supply the labor for the homes. The program requires the potential homeowners to contribute a certain number of hours of work to construct their new home, but the organization needs many other people to help complete the job.

Volunteer to work at food banks, Salvation Army stores, Good Will stores or for any organization in your area that has a mission to help people in need. If you do not know what opportunities for helping exist in your community, contact the Chamber of Commerce or some of the local churches to inquire about the needy.


Consider donating to food banks. Each time you buy groceries, add a few non-perishable items to your basket, and give them to your local food bank where people can come for assistance in feeding their families. Food banks usually accept additional items like toilet tissue, laundry detergent, bath soap and other non-food items that they distribute to the needy along with the food.

When you have shoes, coats and other clothing that you no longer need, donate them to organizations like Salvation Army, Good Will or other places that sell them at low prices. Most of these institutions will give these items to the needy free of charge and sell them to people who can afford to pay for them. They use the money from sales to help the needy in other ways like assisting with rent or utility payments. Many of these organizations will accept donations of furniture, bedding, dishes and other household items as well. Make sure that the articles you donate are clean, in good repair and ready to use or wear.

When you decide to buy a new vehicle, consider donating your old one to someone needy instead of trading it in if you can afford to do that. Ask pastors of churches if they know someone who needs a vehicle but cannot pay for one. It can be of more value than you might imagine to someone who needs transportation to get to work.

Go to the Internet for Ideas

Look online for suggestions to guide you as you help to ease the suffering of others.

  • Charity Navigator offers reviews of many charities.
  • Kiva allows you to take part in micro loans to small business owners in emerging markets.
  • GoFundMe, Kickstarter & Indiegogo help people raise projects for personal & commercial projects.
  • KindSpring is a community site which shares a wide variety of ways to help those in need. The site also gives advice that will be beneficial to you as you share your time and resources with others.
  • Just Give helps charities raise funds & will show you some creative ways that you can make a difference to people going through tough times.

Donate Services

You may have a skill that you could use in helping someone less fortunate. Here are a few ideas, and you can probably think of a few others as well:

  • Perhaps you could help a job seeker to fill out a resume.
  • Some people may need advice about how to apply for jobs.
  • Offer to drive people to job interviews.
  • Offer to baby sit for people while they search for jobs or if they need a break for a while.
  • You may be able to teach someone to read.
  • Teach people how to use a computer.
  • Mow lawns for people who do not have a lawn mower, or lend them your mower if they are able to do it themselves.
  • Give people advice about ways that they can save money.

Many people would be less needy if they knew how to stretch their available dollars. There are simple ways to economize, but if they have never had to be careful about spending money before, they may not be aware of those tricks.

Teach Them How to Economize

  • Tell them to shop early in the day for discounted groceries that will be outdated soon. It is usually safe to eat the food for a few days after the expiration date printed on the package.
  • Their grocery bills will be lower if they stop buying chips and other snack foods that do not add much nutrition to their diets.
  • Teach them that it is cheaper to fix meals at home rather than to eat out, even if they normally eat at fast food restaurants.
  • Persuade them to drink water instead of soda, tea, coffee or juice. If they believe they must drink filtered water, they can buy a water pitcher with a filter and spend less money than buying bottled water.
  • Encourage them to buy clothes and household items at garage sales or rummage sales for a fraction of the cost of new items.
  • If they smoke, show them how much that habit costs for a month or for a year, and encourage them to quit.
  • Explain that setting the thermostat higher in the summer and lower in the winter will save cooling and heating expenses.
  • If they use hot water sparingly, the hot water tank will not have to heat up as often, and their energy costs will be lower. When they just want to rinse something off, cold water will work just as well.
  • Turning lights off when not in use and unplugging electronic equipment like televisions and VCRs when they are not using them will lower electricity bills.
  • Tell them to keep curtains or shades closed when the hot sun is shining on the windows in the summer to keep the house cooler.
  • They should leave curtains and shades open in the winter to let the sun help warm the house, and close them at night to help keep the cold air out.

Teach Them New Skills

When you want to help people to rise above their situation, teach them some skills that they can use to make a better lifestyle for their families. It is better to give them long-term solutions instead of handouts. Of course, they need to have their immediate needs met, so help with those first if you can. However, you will be doing them a bigger service by helping them to learn how to help themselves.

Pray for Others

Some people do not have the resources, time or ability to help the needy in traditional ways. You may be so busy taking care of your own family that you do not feel that you can spare even a few minutes to help someone else. You may be struggling to pay for rent, utilities, food, medical bills and other necessities and do not have funds to spare for helping others. Even if you do have extra time, you may be physically unable to assist needy people. However, you can still do something for them. Perhaps the greatest gift that you can give to anyone is prayer. You can pray to God and ask Him to intervene in their lives and give them the help that they need. If your church has a prayer chain, add their names to that list. If you know some needy people, let them know that you are praying for them, and that knowledge will be an encouragement to them. If they have phones, call them occasionally and try to cheer them. If they do not have phones, they would appreciate a card or letter to let them know that you are thinking about them. If you are unable to help the needy yourself, you may be able to enlist help from other people who have the abilities that you lack. Ask the Lord to guide you in that endeavor.

Do not be Concerned About Scams

Some people avoid helping others because they are afraid that those people may inappropriately spend money that they give to them. They believe the needy people may buy alcohol instead of food when someone gives them money. They wonder if they are encouraging people to be lazy by helping them. They think that some people do not want to work and would rather let people help them than try to find jobs.

It is impossible to know what effect your giving will have on those you help. You are only in control of your own actions, not theirs. If you give with compassion and an honest heart, don’t worry about what happens to your gift after it is out of your hands. Learn to give cheerfully, and leave the details to the Lord.


Whatever methods you choose to help the needy, you will not regret being a blessing to someone. You will find that the joy and peace of mind that you feel after helping others will be a blessing for you too.


Dealing with the death of a loved one is something we must all face at some point in our lives. Whether it is a parent, sibling, spouse, child or close friend, someone will pass on and leave us to pick up the pieces after they are gone. It is not easy or quick, but how we deal with the death of someone close to us can reverberate through the remainder of our lives.

Getting Through the Grieving Process

When someone we care about passes away, there is a period where the loss is felt most intensely. The length of this period is subject to our personal ability to cope with traumatic events and if affected by the cause of death. If the death is due to a lingering illnesses, the grieving process can be fairly short because we already know it is going to happen and can prepare ourselves. If it is unexpected – say a heart attack or auto accident – it can last substantially longer.

Getting through the grieving process is never easy. It is the time given to ourselves to deal with the emotional impact of loss. Knowing the stages of the grieving process can help one understand what he or she is going through. The five stages of grieving are:

  • Denial and Isolation – This is commonly stated by individuals with the statement “I just can’t believe they are gone.” During this stage it is not uncommon for one to want to be alone to deal with the impact of what it means to them. The duration of this stage can last from a few moments to several days. It can even rear its head periodically months, even years, down the road and often at other times of great emotion.
  • Anger – Once we have come to terms that someone is gone, the question “why?” always comes to mind. Why did this happen? Why was my loved one taken? There are rarely any acceptable answers as to why our loved ones are taken from us at specific times in our lives. It is this lack of understanding that leads to our anger, much like a child gets angry when they do not receive an acceptable answer when they ask for something. There is also blame to be placed, and when we do not have anyone in particular to blame, it makes the loss that much harder on us. This is especially true when the events seem random and incomprehensible. It can drive us a little bit nuts and force our anger to the surface.
  • Bargaining – The third stage of the grieving process is a result of our frustration. At this point, we have begun to understand that the loss is permanent, yet are still unwilling to give up hope that the pain can be reversed. We ask God to take us instead – to bring back our loved one. It is an act of desperation. We want our loved one back so deeply that we are willing to sacrifice our own selves to give them the chance at life that was taken from them.
  • Depression – This fourth stage can be of great duration. It is the feeling of helplessness that pervades our entire being, that eats us from the inside. There is still anger and great sadness, but the hope of bringing back one we love is gone. There is the realization that the rest of our lives must be spent living without that person being around. It is a terrible feeling that sometimes seems like it will eat away our very souls. When depression sets in, we often lose our own drive to survive. Appetites diminish. Nothing interests us. We cry. We are easily angered. We shun the sympathy and caring of others. We just want to crawl into a hole and die ourselves. But there is hope. If we can recognize this for what it is, we can know that we are finally nearing the end of the grieving process.
  • Acceptance – Reaching this stage is the final realization that our loved one is gone and that they will not be back. Getting this far can take anywhere from a few minutes to months depending on the strength of the person and the trauma behind the death of our loved one. It is the point when we realize that life does go on, that we are still alive, and that we must continue on for the rest of the people we love. It is at this point that we can begin to pick up all the pieces of our lives and begin to move forward once again.

Picking Up the Pieces

Once we have finally reached the fifth stage, there is the need to pick up the pieces. Think of it like this: When someone we care about deeply dies, it is like our whole lives shatter. We wonder how we can get along without them, but there is also the understanding that now we must. When anything breaks, the first step is to pick up the pieces of what is left.

What is left? We have ourselves and those around us. There are others around us who are also affected by the loss: other family members, friends, even pets. They all require what help and support we can provide. There is also the matters of everyday life to which we must attend. We are surrounded by issues that require our attention from cleaning house to making money to taking care of ourselves. We must take a close look at all these things in order to understand what we need to do to continue on in our own lives.

Taking stock of ourselves is the first stage. We must look at what we need to do for ourselves in order to keep ourselves healthy. At first, it may be difficult because it may require learning entirely new things. For example, maybe the person who passed on was the person who balanced the check book. Now we must learn to do that for ourselves. Maybe they were the breadwinner in the family and now we must look for a new way in which to support our financial needs. Or maybe they were simply that one person upon whom we relied for emotional support and now we need to deal with those emotional issues on our own. Knowing exactly what that person did for us helps us address the immediate needs upon which we depended upon them.

During the grieving process – and perhaps even before – it is quite possible that we may have let ourselves and our responsibilities go. Now is the time to address those issues. It is time to look at our strengths and weaknesses and see what needs to be done. It is also a chance to start anew and do those things we have put off. We need to take the time to bring ourselves back to health both emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Going to church, starting that fitness plan we have put off for so long, learning a new skill or going back to school – all these can be things which we can use to help us grow and become stronger. One of the things we think about when losing someone is “He always wanted to do such-and-such, but he never got the chance and now he never will.” Death is a great reminder of this point for ourselves. Use it as an inspiration to do those things you have always planned but never accomplished.

This is also the time in which we can strengthen old bonds that may have weakened over time. Time tends to fray the bonds that hold us together whether it be friends or family. Spending time together with the rest of the people you care about and restoring those bonds that at one time seemed unbreakable is a wise use of time and energy. Use the time you have to renew those friendships and strengthen the love you share with others. The death of a loved one is not the end of our own lives, but rather the rain that allows our the other parts of our lives to flourish.

Moving On

The pieces have been picked up, inventory has been taken, and goals have been set. Then comes the question “Where do I go from here?” This is not the first time you’ve asked yourself that question, nor will it be the last, but it is one of the times when it is most pertinent. You are faced with traveling the path of life without the companionship and guidance from the one who has passed on. It seems daunting, and it is. If that loved one has been with you for many years they have become an ingrained part of your life. Traveling down life’s road without them may seem pointless, frightening, incomprehensible, or all three.

Think back to when you left school for the last time. You had the whole world in your hands and your whole life before you. There were decisions to be made and you made them. Often you did not know what the result of those decisions would be, but you made them nonetheless. Sometimes the decision were good, sound ones and other times there was a price to be paid for making the wrong decision. Things have not changed. There is still the world in your hands and you still have life in front of you. You must move on. You will make wise choices and not-so-wise choices. Accepting this and learning to roll with the punches will allow you to move forward.

Death is a great motivator. When faced with death, whether our own or that of someone we love, we can be motivated to do greater things than we have before. Just watch the news and read the newspapers and you will see examples of this everywhere. MADD – Mothers Against Drunk Driving – is a great example of what strength we can derive from the death of a loved one. In this case, a mother who had lost a child in an auto accident caused by a drunk driver decided to use her loss to raise awareness of the dangers of drunk driving and how it could affect more than just the driver. You can do the same whether your loved one died from an accident or disease or just passed on from natural causes. There is a lesson to be learned from everyone’s life and just because they are no longer with us does not mean that the lessons cannot be shared any longer. In fact, sometimes their death merely adds an exclamation point to the lesson.

Yet, you do not have to grandstand. You can use it to personally motivate yourself. Reminding yourself of what your loved one went through – you can use the person as an example of what to do or how to live your life – or an example of what not to do or how not to live your life. Reflecting on the lives of the dead can help propel us forward and can be lessons in how to live our own lives. Everyone has something to teach others, and death does not end the lesson, but rather strengthens the lesson.

Death is not the end. It is the beginning of something new. It makes us grow. Death is a reminder that our time on Earth is short and that we should make the most of it. Death is a teacher and mentor that drives home lessons we may have forgotten or never learned. Sometimes we do not learn what we must until someone close to us dies. Without death we tend to become stagnant, comfortable, lazy. Death provides us with the drive to do things that are greater than we ever expected of ourselves, whether it is on a national stage or within the confines of our living rooms. Every death provides room to grow if we let it.

How we live is far more important than how we die. Great warriors have died of old age rather than by the sword. Young people have died without every fully realizing their potential. Death is around us all the time, everywhere we go. It affects us in very different ways. How we deal with is important. How it motivates us is even more important.


How to Stop Smoking

Quitting smoking is one of the most difficult hurdles that a person can come across in his or her life. Not everyone has the willpower to simply put down a cigarette and walk away from the habit. It affects everyone that crosses its treacherous path without discrimination. Even the legendary writer Samuel Clemens once said, “Quitting smoking is easy. I’ve done it a thousand times.” If quitting smoking were easy, there would be no need for products like Nicorette and the nicotine patch. A million dollar industry would collapse.

The only way that you will ever truly quit smoking is by convincing yourself to quit. Friends and family members mean well when they attempt to deter you from smoking. Listen to them and take what they say into consideration. It is wonderful to have a support system; however, the final decision has to be yours. Quitting smoking is a life altering decision. Everyone that you know can talk until he or she is blue in the face but the decision is ultimately yours. Don’t make it lightly or in the end you will fail.

Why is quitting so hard?

Children in kindergarten are able to comprehend the fact that smoking is harmful. Every cigarette manufacturer places a disclaimer on their product that states smoking is harmful to your health. Cancer, birth defects, gum disease, and other illness generate form smoking. And smoking is an expensive habit. The image of a smoker is that of a person with stinky breath, yellow teeth, and oily skin. Yet despite all of these negative aspects, the American Lung Association claims that 6,000 children under the age of eighteen take up the habit every day.

Just as with any other habit, the longer a person smokes, the harder it will be to quit. Every smoker has his/her personal reasons as to why he/she began smoking. What most smokers eventually have in common is the desire to quit. It may not develop at a certain point, but at some stage in a smoker’s life, he/she will consider quitting.

A smoker’s body becomes accustomed to tobacco. It will cause a physical craving when it is deprived. Regular use of any addictive drug lights up the dopamine circuitry in anticipation of pleasure.

Just the scent of a cigarette is enough to cause most smokers that possess the intention of quitting to relapse. Falling back into the habit is easier than distancing yourself from it. Eventually, if the smoker’s will power is strong enough, he or she will get past this stage. From my own experience I can state that ex-smokers tend to be either indifferent to smoking or they do a complete 180 and become aggressively more anti-smoking than people that have never picked up a tobacco product.

Strategies to Kick the Habit

Below is a list of methods that people have found success with:

The Buddy System

People that go to the gym and work out with a friend tend to get more out of the experience than those that don’t. The same concept applies to people that want to quit smoking. Buddies provide a support system for each other. Since both parties are sharing the highs and lows of the experience, it can be helpful to have someone to depend on. In a gym, a friend can inspire you to push yourself harder that you might do on your own. Your friend is also there to pick you up when you fall down.

Cold Turkey

This is without a doubt the most common method people use to stop smoking. Unfortunately, this is also the method that tends to fail the most. Every smoker wants to believe that he or she can simply place his or her last cigarette into an ashtray and walk away. If it were that easy, there would be no market for products like nicotine gum, nicotine patches, and artificial cigarettes.

Creating Contempt

One method that occasionally works is to create a psychological and physical distaste for tobacco. When cigarettes become revolting to a smoker, the smoker will abandon the habit.

Purchase a carton of the most revolting cigarettes that you can find. Take the carton and soak it in water. Allow the carton time to dry. The result will be a putrid collection of the nastiest tasting tobacco that you have ever seen. Force yourself to smoke the entire carton. This does not have to take place in one sitting. Smoke the unpleasant cigarettes as you normally would. When your addiction compels you to smoke, force yourself to smoke one of these. After awhile smoking will not appear as appealing as it once was.


Step out of your comfort zone. Humans are creatures of habit. Most people feel a compulsion to smoke under certain conditions. Some smoke after a meal, prior to going to sleep, or as a celebration for accomplishing a task. I once worked at a gas station with a gentleman who took a smoke break every time he finished working on a project like restocking the 2-liter soda display. As for myself, I used to smoke more when I was around other smokers.

The key is to pinpoint triggers and avoid them. Triggers are people, places, and things that remind you of your habit. Try to associate with people that don’t smoke. Spending time with people that smoke will only tempt you into returning to your habit. Avoid going to places where you used to smoke. Take all of your clothes that smell like cigarettes and disguard them. This is an excellent opportunity for you to reward yourself with a new wardrobe. By quitting smoking, you are creating a new life for yourself. Embrace your new life and make the best of it.


Make it a point to leave your cigarettes somewhere in a location that requires a little effort to retrieve them. This will aid you in rationing out the quantity you smoke. If you usually carry a pack in your pocket, you can try leaving your cigarettes in a difficult place to reach within your home. If you have to work to retrieve them, you will naturally think twice before going after them.

Purchasing individual packs as opposed to cartons is another way to deter yourself from smoking. Running to the store every time that you feel the need to smoke will get old fast. No one wants to get up, travel to the store, and wait in line when they don’t have too. Smoking is a leisurely activity. Most people do it for relaxation. Turning the habit into a hassle will help create a physiological distance thereby easing the process of quitting.

Nicotine Gum and Patches

Nicotine gum and patches offer smokers a way to ease themselves out of the habit. They are discreet. No one needs to know that the gum you are chewing is nicotine gum. No one needs to know that you are wearing a patch. Quitting is extremely difficult. It is also a personal matter. Some people prefer to kick the habit in private.

Of course, nicotine gum is also useful in that it satisfies the oral fixation that is created by smoking. The idea is to start off chewing 10 to 30 pieces a day and then work your way down to zero. Eventually you will be able to transition from nicotine gum to regular gum. Chewing gum is definitely a better habit than smoking.

Some gums like Chantix may require a doctor’s prescription.


Rationing out your cigarette intake is a popular way to ease out of the habit. Some people find success through this method easier than others do. The idea is to begin gradually smoking fewer cigarettes until you do not need them any more. You could even switch to Ultra Lights. Try to limit the amount of time that you spend smoking. Instead of smoking an entire cigarette in one sitting, try to limit yourself to half.

A large number of smokers have a tendency to associate food with tobacco. If you usually smoke after eating, try to alter your eating habits. Quitting smoking requires major lifestyle adjustments. Eating fewer snacks and meals will diminish the desire to smoke. As your rate of smoking declines, you should attempt to find a substitute. Instead of smoking a cigarette after each meal, try chewing on a piece of gum.

Keep in mind that reducing the number of cigarettes that you smoke means that while attempting to quit, you are still smoking cigarettes. The objective is to distance yourself completely from the habit. This is extremely difficult to accomplish while you are still smoking. Quitting through reduction requires a tremendous amount of discipline and desire. Perhaps more than any other method, reduction requires commitment. It is easy to fall off the wagon. You have to want to quit.

Signs of Withdrawal

  1. Aches and pains
  2. Coughing
  3. Distraction
  4. Faintness
  5. Fatigue
  6. Gloominess
  7. Irrational fits of anger
  8. Nervousness
  9. Problems with digestion
  10. Problems sleeping
  11. Tension in your chest
  12. Touchiness
  13. Weight gain

My Testimony

I began smoking cigarettes when I was a freshman in high school. A large number of my friends were smokers and I took up the habit to fit in. It didn’t take long for me to become addicted. On average, I would go through a pack of Marlboro Lights a day.

Unlike most smokers that I know, I came from a family that frowned on anything tobacco related. They pestered me beyond belief for fifteen years. I knew the health risks associated with smoking. My brother regularly showed me pictures of damaged lungs from cancer patients. That knowledge did not slow me down one bit. Whenever I would become sick, I would cough and it felt as though someone was scraping the inside of my throat with a jagged blade. I did not care. No logical argument in the world could persuade me to reconsider my decision to smoke.

One day, I simply looked in the bathroom mirror and decided that I did not like the person that was looking back at me. A close friend of mine had recently taken up the habit. This was a person that I respected. He was a clean and intelligent person. I sat down and considered his situation very carefully. Outside of his association with me, I saw no motivation for him to take up the habit. Up until this point, the only person that I felt I was endangering with my habit was me. Now, I had no choice but to accept the fact that others were being hurt as well.

As I stared into the mirror, my hands shook because I wanted a cigarette so badly. At that moment, I despised everything about myself. I was so caught up with tobacco that I let it assume control over my life. When I finally gave in and opened a fresh pack, the addictive aroma that a smoker finds appealing motivated me to realize how selfish I had been.

Not all of my friends were smokers. As I mentioned previously my family was not fond of the habit either. As I inhaled the scent of tobacco, I thought about the numerous times that I smoked around them. Even though I did everything that I could think of to refrain from blowing smoke in their direction, they were still subjected to the distasteful scent of tobacco. It clings to smokers like cheap cologne. While smokers find the scent enchanting, nonsmokers find it revolting. All of my nonsmoking friends sacrificed their sense of smell every time they were close to me.

It took several weeks after my realization for me to begin to seriously considering the possibility of quitting. I announced to my friends that I was on my final pack of cigarettes. As soon as I finished it, I would be finished. Announcing my intention to quit filled me with an unexpected sense of pride. When I reached the end of my pack, I made a big deal out of smoking my last cigarette. Two days later, I walked to my local gas station and purchased a pack of Marlboro Lights. I felt horrible.

A year passed before I was ready to try again. This time I didn’t just want to quit, I wanted to quit with a vengeance. I hated the feeling of not being in control. After the crashing failure of my previous defeated attempt, I decided to keep my decision to quit to myself. I was going to quit and I was going to do it on my own terms. The next time that I went to the store, I bought a carton of Camel Non-filters. They were the strongest cigarettes that I could find. I took them home and dunked them in a bucket of water. They sat on top of a table on my back porch for a week before I decided it was time to implement my plan. No matter how badly I wanted to smoke a Marlboro Light, I forced myself to smoke all of the Camel Non-filters.

Don’t get me wrong, that was not the end of my addiction. When I finished that carton, I intentionally separated myself from everything that I felt could compel me to return to the habit. I cut my self off from certain friends and I threw myself into my job. The first month or so was the worst. Everything I saw made me want to smoke. At this point, I was running on shear willpower.

The carton of Camel Non-filters was not the final nail in my smoking career but it provided me with the motivation and strength to endure those first smoke free months. There were times at the beginning when I was close to smoking a cigarette. Eventually the allure of smoking dissolved into nothingness. I no longer have a desire to smoke when I smell a cigarette. It has been over ten years since I smoked my last cigarette and I have no intention of taking up the habit ever again.