4 Principles to Develop Next-Level Leadership at Your Company

Filling management holes that get created when the company gets bigger is important. Use these four principles to develop the leaders in your organization.

 

 

For a company to be successful, it must find a way to develop talent. It isn’t always possible to hire leadership from the outside. Being able to develop leaders within the ranks will help the company to grow and fill future needs that come about organically.

When I worked for a company that was growing, we knew we had to spend time with our staff to help them grow into the leaders we needed. I created a training format that we used over and over to coach up emerging leaders and prepare them to take on more responsibility.

This training was ongoing. We instilled four principles in their work. This translated the core values of the company into their daily actions. It gave them a foundation to build their individual leadership style.

It didn’t mean that everyone could take on a leadership role. Some people naturally make better leaders. Some people enjoyed keeping their technical focus and didn’t want to change. Others wanted the additional money but not the extra work.

To be able to take on more, the individual also had to show that they could handle their current responsibilities. The example I would use is that the third string punter on a football team wouldn’t be voted captain. While talent isn’t the only requirement, there had to be enough ability to do their job at a high level. If someone isn’t at the top of their game, they would not be viewed as a leader.

We were able to go from a staff that wanted the extra benefits of leadership (more money, promotions, authority to make decisions, etc.), to a staff willing to do what was necessary to improve as leaders. Instead of just showing up and checking off a box, they put in the work to get better.

But for those with leadership potential and the drive to grow their skills, we could provide them foundational knowledge they can rely on to be successful. Here are those four principles:

Principle 1: Take ownership

The first principle was to take ownership. They needed to own their tasks. They had to own the processes and procedures. They had to own the outcomes and the production output.

This is different than being in charge. If they are in charge but don’t own it, they will always find others to blame when things go wrong. They won’t step up to do the extra work necessary when something gets fouled up.

The reality is that there are always going to be outside factors to blame. It is easy to find a scapegoat, because today’s business processes are complex and interconnect with other areas. This gives us plenty of places to point the finger when mistakes happen.

Instead, leaders need to make it their job to keep pushing things forward. They don’t sit back and wait for tasks to be given out to them. They search for ways to improve the team and catch mistakes early to prevent them from turning into major problems.

We emphasized that this was the antithesis to the “us versus them” attitude. We broke down silos by having leaders willing to step beyond their area to work with other teams to solve problems and improve efficiencies.

When everyone takes ownership, people are willing to do what is needed without finding ways to skirt responsibility. By taking ownership, this also meant consistency. It was more than one-time effort. It was exemplified in the habits, routines and patterns, not just in the one-off.

Our leaders started to have more follow-through. They would finish what they started. They knew that a failed outcome meant we didn’t do a good enough job. They didn’t expect praise for their part while pointing to others as the problem. They owned it.

Principle 2: Use next-level thinking

How do you know you did something right? Most people look at their task. Did you accomplish the task or not? Did they do what they had to do?

For leadership, we needed to shift our thinking. Each task is important, and we constantly measured individual production versus our key performance indicators. But next-level leadership required a shift in perspective.

We taught that most people rely on linear thinking. They see a problem and want to point it back to one factor. Linear thinking follows quick, snap decisions without much analysis.

Instead, we needed to use systems thinking. We had to see the interconnection between various parts of the system. We had to see that the decision for our team to increase production caused a problem downstream. Our shortcut caused ramifications to the quality control team. Or our boost in sales by cutting prices meant we had to pay overtime to make up for the additional work, further hurting the bottom line.

Systems thinking helps see the full business systems, not just the individual parts. Solutions had to account for the full system. This would help them develop higher-level thinking. They started to see the forest and the trees instead of getting stuck in the weeds.

Next-level thinking also meant that they had to be excellent problem solvers. We didn’t want problem finders or problem magnifiers. We wanted people who would see the problem and work out a solution.

Related: How to Think About the Systems in Your Business

When they explained the problem to their boss, they presented the research showing how it happened, along with options for solving the problem and their recommendation. We taught them that without this, they weren’t helping us, they were hurting us.

Anyone can point out problems and make them worse. True leaders can see problems and find solutions. Next-level thinking translated to honesty. They stopped throwing each other under the bus. They didn’t lie when they didn’t know something. They would go find out the answer. They learned the rules so that when they had to break them, they had good reason to do so.

 

Principle 3: Respect time (your time and others’ time)

The third principle revolved around time management. Leaders needed to respect their time enough to have efficient time-management systems in place. They couldn’t let others drag them down. They needed the ability to work with others to be efficient, so the work got done.

Part of this training involved learning to prioritize. We taught them how to look at tasks on a grid, comparing urgency and importance to determine what to tackle first. We talked about hitting low-hanging fruit or tackling the big tasks to knock them out of the way first. We taught them how to see nice-to-have items versus must-have items.

Related: 3 Reasons Entrepreneurs Struggle When Building Business Systems

We presented numerous ways to look at their mountain of work and slice it up, so it becomes manageable. If they didn’t get everything done, at least we knew they hit the high-priority items and didn’t get stuck diving down a rabbit hole.

By respecting their time and others’ time, they were able to be more efficient. It didn’t mean everything suddenly got done instantly, but it gave them a framework, which gave us confidence in them. We didn’t need to micromanage their day. Instead, we trusted their ability to decide what to focus on.

Principle 4: Focus on progress not perfection

Nobody is perfect. Chasing perfection means that we forego experimenting or trying new things, because we don’t want to mess up. Trial and error, by definition, means there will be errors.

We had to, instead, keep making progress. This meant continuous improvement. It didn’t mean people were afraid to try. It meant we addressed flaws and obstacles and kept moving forward. We changed the measuring stick. We didn’t look for the small mistake to criticize. We looked at the patterns to see if we were getting better over time.

Being able to develop leadership within an organization can be the difference between scaling a business and plateauing. Organic growth means there will be new needs in the future. Filling holes quickly with emerging leaders is more optimal than looking to hire from the outside.

We used these four principles of next-level leadership to develop the talent within our company, so that as the company’s revenue grew, so did the number of people stepping up to help.

The great part of it is that these are universal. They weren’t specific to our industry or our product line. They are principles that can be applied to almost any business team to improve and develop leadership. Use these if you find that your company’s growth is creating a void in next-level leadership.

50 New Year’s Resolution Ideas And How To Achieve Each Of Them

The New Year is slowly nearing, and with the holiday season having just passed, many people are indulging in retrospection and reevaluating some of their life choices. New Year’s resolutions are the perfect opportunity for all those who have failed to start making the changes that they said they would make next week, next month, or perhaps when winter starts.

Well, now’s your chance to sit down and prepare a list of important lifestyle changes you want to make, and we’ve decided to give you a bit of help – because since the majority of people fail to stick to their resolution, you’ll need all the help you can get.

What follows is a list of 50 good New Year’s resolutions with a piece of advice. If you are looking for effective ways of changing your life for the better, then you’ll be sure to find tons of useful information here.

 

1. Get in Shape

Losing weight is the top resolution for Americans, and combined with “exercise more” and “stay fit and healthy” it is something that over a third of the population wishes to achieve. It’s easy enough to start an exercise and diet program, but the trick is to find a decent one that will give you steady results and will be easy to stick to in the long run.

 

2. Eat Healthier

This is usually an extension of the previous resolution. Switching to a healthier diet can be incredibly tricky when we are surrounded by cheap junk food. However, with a good amount of determination and some basic tips, you can slowly develop healthier eating habits.

3. Stop Procrastinating

The biggest barrier that keeps most people from reaching their goals is the desire to relax and do something fun instead of working hard. Once you get used to procrastinating, it’s difficult to snap yourself out of it, so you’ll need to put in a lot of work to change this bad habit.

4. Improve Your Concentration

People have been trying to find ways to improve their focus and cognitive capacities for thousands of years, and most ancient civilizations had some combination of mental exercise and herbal medicine to help them reach this goal.

5. Meet New People

When we get stuck in a rut, we usually end up staying at home most of the time, missing out on a lot of interesting opportunities for networking and having fun. Meeting new people can be beneficial to your mental well-being and help your career[1], so don’t be afraid to get out there and make some friends.

This is a good New Year’s resolution, but it can be difficult for shy people. Start by just saying yes when a friend asks you to go out one evening. This is a great first step toward meeting new people.

6. Be More Active

Some people don’t really have a big weight problem, and they even get some exercise a few times a week, but they just sit around the most of the time at home and at work, which can have a negative effect on their posture and health.

 

7. Develop Confidence

If you are confident, other people notice it, and it is much easier to have your opinions heard, ask people out on dates, and get ahead at work. A good dose of self-confidence will help you lead a much happier life overall.

Building confidence involves positive self-talk, focusing on your achievements, and seeing failure as an opportunity.

8. Earn More Money

Even billionaires are always looking for ways to earn more money, and we common folk can definitely use an additional source of income to make life a bit more comfortable.

9. Be More Polite

Good manners have always been an important part of a civilized society[3]. They make it easier to connect with others, avoid offending people, and will ensure that others perceive you as a good and trustworthy person.

10. Reduce Stress

They say that stress is one of the biggest killers out there, and it can have a very destructive effect on your relationships, as well as your health, making this one of many good New Year’s resolutions. It may be an unavoidable side effect of our hectic modern lifestyles, but it can be effectively managed with the help of useful and easy-to-practice tricks for stress management[4].

11. Learn to Be Happier

Even those that are in decent shape, make a good living, and have stress under control can still be unhappy. It takes time and patience to learn how to find joy in the little things and not to let problems bring you down.

Showing gratitude can be a great way to build happiness. Try starting a gratitude journal to help you focus on the good things in life.

12. Get More Quality Sleep

With big TV’s, computers, smartphones, tablets and all sorts of gadgets with glowing lights and beeping alerts, it can be hard to get enough sleep at night. You should be shooting for at least 8 hours of sleep a night, and there are fairly simple ways to achieve this number if you make use of science and everyday hacks.

The first thing to do is set those gadgets aside for at least an hour before bed. This will let your mind slip into bedtime mode and make it much easier to fall asleep.

13. Give up Cigarettes

A bit of bad habit that a lot of people don’t know how to kick, smoking will not only endanger your health, but can burn a hole in your wallet as well. Just be prepared to dedicate a lot of will power to giving up cigarettes once and for all.

14. Watch Less TV

The average American spends nearly 8 hours a day watching TV, more time than they spend cooking and probably sleeping[5]! That is time that could have been better spent developing skills, learning, or keeping your body active. Once you manage to cut down on TV time, you will realize just how long and productive a day can really be.

15. Read More

Books are an excellent way to gain a lot of knowledge on a huge variety of topics, and they are also great exercise for your brain. It’s not that difficult to go through 20 or more books in a year; you only need to make it a habit, discover your favorite type of book, and find a bit of time for reading here and there.

16. Find a Significant Other

We all need someone to hold at night, talk to, and share our deepest secrets with, but finding the right person is a matter of trial and error. We need to go out and get to know a bunch of potential partners before we can find the one that we can get along with really well.

17. Have Better Sex

Any healthy relationship requires a good deal of intimacy, and sex can actually help keep us mentally and physically healthy[6]. The idea is to make it a fun and rewarding experience, and this is something that comes with practice and exercise.

18. Be Tidier

There are a lot of slobs out there who can’t really get their stuff organized, and a cluttered desk or chaotic home will negatively affect your productivity and even your mood, so it helps to clear the clutter, clean your house, and lead a tidier and more organized life.

19. Learn How to Dress With Style

The way you dress can say a lot about you, and wearing the right clothes can make you seem powerful and confident, which in turn can help you land a job, get promoted, and catch the eye of a lovely guy or girl. No matter if you’re male or female, find clothes that make you feel good and stand out in a crowd.

20. Spend More Time With People That Matter

There is just too little time in this life for us to waste it on insincere, duplicitous, and toxic people. We should focus on the people who we care about deeply and who care about us, as this is the best way to stay happy and lead a fulfilling life.

21. Drink Less Alcohol

While it is completely safe and healthy to drink one or two servings[7] of an alcoholic beverage of your choice per day, not a lot of people can say that they can follow this rule effectively. Getting your drinking under control has plenty of benefits, but it can be a difficult process.

Start slow. If you’re used to having two glasses of wine after work, cut it down to one for a month, and then try only drinking one glass once or twice a week.

22. Get out of Debt

You can’t really move forward in life if you are weighed down by debt. The road to financial freedom is a rocky one, but it is definitely manageable with a bit of planning and self-restraint. Take a look at these strategies and methods to pay off your debt. You won’t believe how good it will feel.

23. Save Money

Once you have your debt under control, it’s time to start putting some money aside. A rainy day fund and some extra money that can go towards traveling abroad, fixing up the house or buying a new car are a welcome change of pace. Make use of these hacks and apps to save money efficiently.

24. Learn a New Language

Not only will learning a new language help improve your communication skills, but it will also look great on your resume and possibly open up some doors for you. These days there are plenty of resources that allow you to learn a language for free.

25. Volunteer and Give More to Charity

To devote your time and energy to helping those in need is a noble gesture and one of the genuinely good New Year’s resolutions in itself, but it is also an opportunity to meet new people, learn new skills, and boost your resume. Here’s how you can find time to volunteer in your busy life.

26. Pick up Useful Skills or Fun Hobbies

Just sitting around all day won’t get you anywhere. It is much better to use your free time in a constructive manner and pick up new skills while having fun at the same time. The future you will be glad that you did. No matter if you’re interested in communication skills or sports, find out how to learn new skills and hobbies in a short time.

27. Let Go of Grudges

Times can be hard, and it may take a lot to overcome adversity, but sitting around and moping about it is just counterproductive. If you have a big fight with someone and fall out or get hurt over a small issue, you will only lose a friend or life partner and remain sad and bitter. Forgiveness is a much healthier way to deal with issues that should be left in the past.

28. Adopt a Pet

There are tons of animal lovers out there that would be great at caring for a pet, but they often overthink things, while some people just rush out and get a pet without understanding the responsibility involved. Be sure you know what you are in for and find a pet that fits your living conditions and lifestyle.

29. Become More Organized

It doesn’t matter how much time you have on your hands; if you can’t manage it properly, you’ll just spend most of the day running around aimlessly, so make organization a priority on your list of New Year’s resolutions. When you get organized, there will suddenly be more time to spare, and things will start falling into place. Make it a habit, get help from apps and tools, and enjoy your new-found leisure-time.

30. Travel More

You’ll need to have your finances in order, get the right equipment, and invest some time and effort before you consider traveling across the globe, but there are ways of experiencing different cultures and visiting faraway places even on a tighter budget.

Watch some documentaries, try out a staycation, or start corresponding with a foreign pen pal to itch that travel bug.

31. Learn to Cook

Cooking is one of the essential skill that every man and woman should possess. It allows you to save money, eat the food you love just the way you like it, and impress dates with lovely meals shared under candlelight. If you go through useful tips, keep your kitchen clean, and avoid common mistakes, nothing stands between you an your 3-course-meal.

32. See Your Doctor More Often

Staying healthy should be your top priority, but many people seem frightened of doctors and don’t go nearly as often as they should, often waiting for their condition to significantly worsen. Regular checkups are a must, no matter how healthy[9] you feel at the moment.

Remember, this includes taking care of your mental health, as well!

33. Reinvent Yourself

If you don’t feel quite happy no matter what you do, it is perhaps time to make some serious changes in your life as one of your good New Year’s resolutions. Reinventing yourself can give you a whole new perspective on life and take you in directions you may never have dreamed were possible.

34. Stop Being Late

Punctuality is a virtue that is held in high regard in our society, so this is a great New Year’s resolution to have. Being on time is a mark of a true professional, a dependable friend and caring partner, so it is a good idea to pick up a few tricks that can help you stay on time.

35. Be More Self-Reliant

Technology, a relatively decent government, and corporations offering cheap, ready-to-eat food and all manner of useful tools have made us somewhat spoiled, and we often get well into adulthood without having what it takes to be independent and self-reliant. Next time you face a problem, try solving it on your own instead of running to the nearest family member or friend.

36. Turn Your Hobby Into a Career

If we could all manage to marry fun and productivity, and be able to make money doing what we love, we’d be a much more content and well-balanced society. This may not always be possible, but there are cases where starting a new hobby can be turned into a lucrative career.

37. Get Over an Ex

It may be better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved, but it still hurts like crazy. Healing a broken heart is a process that takes time, but there are tricks to make it through this difficult time without too much pain, and it starts with self-care.

38. Learn to Control Your Emotions

Uncontrolled anger can get you into a lot of trouble, but things like jealousy and pride are destructive in all circumstances, so it’s a good New Year’s resolution to control your emotions. Gaining control over your feelings allows you to keep a level head and think more rationally, even during emotionally charged conflict situations.

39. Be More Responsible

A big part of growing up into a mature adult is the ability to think before making a decision. It is important to take responsibility for ones actions and avoid blaming everything on someone else, just as it is important to protect your family and help provide for them.

40. Learn More About Music, Art, and Culture

The best way to fit in when talking to a variety of people from different backgrounds is to have a well-rounded education. Topics like art, music, history, and culture often baffle people, but they can be easy to comprehend if you spend enough time learning about them using helpful websites and online courses.

41. Spend Less Time on Social Media

Some people might not spend hours in front of the TV, or playing video games, but social media has become a serious addiction among a wide range of demographics. It’s fine to stay in touch with friends and family, but if you consistently spend more than an hour every day on social media, it’s time to make a change and add this to your list of good New Year’s resolutions.

42. Learn How to Defend Yourself

Being able to ensure your own safety and the safety of those you love is a very important skillset to have. It’s not all about groin kicks and palm strikes, however. You need to learn how to conduct yourself and what kind of behavior to look out for in others.

43. Become More Romantic

Romance is often the first casualty in longer, more serious relationships, but it doesn’t have to wither away. A few romantic gestures here and there can keep the passion going for decades. It will be fun, even if you’re not the romantic type.

44. Remember Important Dates

Speaking about romance and keeping a serious relationship fun, you don’t want to keep forgetting birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates. There are plenty of memory tricks that take very little time to master, so you’ll never forget another date again.

45. Be More Social

Getting out and socializing has its perks. You get to have fun, meet new people, and find out interesting things, but you can also develop leadership skills and learn to work in a team, so this is a very good New Year’s resolution to add to your list. Even if you are an introvert or very shy and feel uncomfortable talking to others, there are ways to become a fairly active member of a community.

46. Develop More Creativity

There are times when we get mentally fatigued and our creativity just goes out the window. This is particularly bad if your job or hobby depends on you coming up with fresh ideas and thinking outside the box. As with anything else, there are many resources that help you spark your creativity in a number of different ways.

47. Express Yourself Artistically

While some of us are more logical, most people still have a bit of a creative spark in them. Expressing yourself in some creative, artistic way is a great form of stress relief and helps keep your mind sharp. Some of these activities will also help you stay active and burn some calories. So write, craft, make DIY projects—whatever makes your soul free.

48. Face Your Fears and Insecurities

You will find this particular point masked beneath other good New Year’s resolutions, but fear and insecurity are often the cause of several problems that we want to address. You need to think of it as surviving and controlling your fear rather than overcoming it, and it will enable you to shed off a lot of the insecurities that you have.

49. Start Writing a Book/Journal

You’d be surprised to know just how many people out there have an interesting story to tell but lack the confidence and skill to write everything down. Even if it is just a few random thoughts scribbled daily in a journal, you shouldn’t be afraid to give writing a go with a few tips and tricks.

50. Stick to the Healthy Habits You’ve Developed

The last and most important point to mention is that all the positive changes you make have to be permanent when you begin good New Year’s resolutions. You will need to work on sticking with the good habits you have adopted until they just become a natural part of who you are. That is how you achieve true self-improvement.

The Bottom Line

Above, you have an extensive list of advice, tips, and tricks to help you see your good New Year’s resolutions through and make some long-term changes in your life. Start with one, and if you feel like you’ve got the hang of it, pick up another. There’s no limit to how many positive changes you can make in life, but you have to start somewhere!

 

 

In Your Arms

In your arms you hold me tight,
Never letting go through the night.
All my dreams are peaceful because of you,
Holding me in your arms like you do.

Your lips are as sweet as ever;
I wish to kiss them forever.
My heart beats only for you,
Holding me in your arms like you do.

When we met I knew it was fate.
I found my one true soulmate,
As I look into your loving eyes,
Knowing our love will never die.

So hold me in your warm embrace.
In your arms I’ll be no other place.
To be with the one I love, which is you,
Holding me in your arms like you do.

 

(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life

Now I’ve had the time of my life
No, I never felt like this before
Yes I swear, it’s the truth
And I owe it all to you
‘Cause I’ve had the time of my life
And I owe it all to you
romance
I’ve been waiting for so long
Now I’ve finally found someone
To stand by me
We saw the writing on the wall
As we felt this magical fantasy
Now with passion in our eyes
There’s no way we could disguise it secretly
So we take each other’s hand
‘Cause we seem to understand
The urgency
Just remember
You’re the one thing
I can’t get enough of
So I’ll tell you something
This could be love because
I’ve had the time of my life
No, I never felt this way before
Yes, I swear, it’s the truth
And I owe it all to you
Hey, baby
With my body and soul
I want you more than you’ll ever know
So we’ll just let it go
Don’t be afraid to lose control, no
Yes, I know what’s on your mind
When you say, “Stay with me tonight” (stay with me)
Just remember
You’re the one thing
I can’t get enough of
So I’ll tell you something
This could be love because
I’ve had the time of my life
No, I never felt this way before
Yes, I swear, it’s the truth
And I owe it all to you
‘Cause I’ve had the time of my life
And I’ve searched though every open door
‘Til I found the truth
And I owe it all to you
Now I’ve had the time of my life
No, I never felt this way before
Yes, I swear, it’s the truth
And I owe it all to you
I’ve had the time of my life
No, I never felt this way before
Yes, I swear, it’s the truth
And I owe it all to you
.
‘Cause I’ve had the time of my life (the time of my life)
And I’ve searched though every open door
‘Til I found the truth
And I owe it all to yo

8 Health Benefits From Having More of Them

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” – Benjamin Franklin

“One key to success is to have lunch at the time of day most people have breakfast.” – Robert Brault

There are many famous quotes by famous and influential people about rising early in the morning.  But is there any strength to these quotes? This article talks about 8 benefits of being an early riser.

Early mornings for some can be a drag, and let’s be honest here, there will always be morning’s especially when it’s dark outside that all you will want to do is pull the covers over your head for an extra 5 minutes.

With so many benefits to waking up early, from enhancing your productivity in school or work, to being better able to stick to a diet plan to having more energy levels and better mood, it’s easy to see why many famous people swear by it attributing to their success, Richard Branson for example says he wakes at 5 am each morning.

Knowing this it is hard not to adopt this way of life to your daily routine. So let’s talk about some of these benefits and how to become an early riser.

1. Positive Outlook

According to studies early risers often tend to go to bed early as well, which means they are more likely to get the 7-9 hours recommended sleep for adults.

Sleeping the full amount regularly is said to help lead towards a healthier body and mind,  which in turn has its own benefits, so it is easy to see why early risers may be less stressed and have more positivity in their lives.

2. More Energy

More rest equals more energy, plain and simple . If you get into the routine of rising early and retiring to bed early you are more likely to have a better sleeping pattern which leads to being more energetic throughout the day, helping you accomplish your goals and tasks in a faster and more productive manner.

3. Body System Reboot

Regular sleep is important for your general health.  Not only does a full night sleep help to drop your blood pressure, helps your muscles to relax and repair, your breathing to slow and your body temperature to drop, but studies show that T-cells, which are the white blood cells that help to fight infection, tend to drop when you get a full night’s sleep. This is your immune system rebooting itself while you rest.

4. More Time to Exercise

After a busy day’s work, you can be both mentally and physically exhausted and the last thing you want to do is head to the gym or go out for a run. You make promises to yourself you’ll go tomorrow, only to have the same thing happen.  Early risers have the benefit of being able to fit their workout in, before the madness of the day takes over. This also helps to kickstart the body and mind which will energize you for the day.

5. Become more Organized

Sometimes the saying “Not enough hours in the day” springs to mind.

We fall asleep thinking about all the things we are going to get done the following day, whether that be at work or at home, or both. Then something throws us off, we sleep in, forgot something on the way to work, or get delayed in traffic and our day seems to spiral after that.

Being an early riser means you can get a head start on the day and helps to kickstart your day off to a good start.

By planning and laying out some goals and tasks to accomplish the previous day can help you be more organized and make use of that early start.

6. Healthier Eating

No time for breakfast? Grabbing something quick and easy on the go while you

run out the door? Sound familiar? Rising later doesn’t give you the much needed time to break the fast from the night before and prepare a sustainable breakfast that will set you up for the day.

Recent research has found that late sleepers generally consume approximately 248 more calories than those who rise early. They tend to only eat half as much fruit and vegetables and twice as much fast food as their early riser counterparts.

7. More Productive

Your brain tends to be the most alert in the morning, so why not use that time wisely to focus on important tasks un-interrupted while the rest of your house and world sleep.

You tend to make better decisions and think more clearly in the morning, then at any other time of day.

Starting the day early also improves your concentration which means you can accomplish those goals and tasks that you set out the night before. It also means that by the time you get to work, you are fully awake and properly acclimatized to the day meaning you will be more alert during those peak hours.

8. Helps your Skin Look Healthy

Our skin tends to look its best in the morning after a full night’s restful sleep. And being an early riser means you can take advantage and take your time to make sure your skin looks its best.

People who wake up early also tend to have regular sleeping habits which help to ensure that your skin gets the proper time to rejuvenate itself.

Getting into the Routine

Ok, so we’ve outlined some tips on how to be an early riser, but how do we start getting into the routine, while also getting enough sleep. Here are a few tips to get you started.

  • Start slowly.
  • Try waking just 15-30 minutes earlier than usual at the start. Get used to this for a few days, then cut back another 15 minutes. Keep doing this gradually until you get to your goal time.
  • Allow yourself to go to sleep earlier. You might be used to staying up late, but if you continue to do this while trying to get up earlier, sooner or later one is going to give. And if it is the early rising that gives, then you will crash and sleep late and have to start all over again. Try going to bed earlier, even if you don’t think you’ll sleep and read while in bed or mediate for a few minutes to help relax your mind. If you’re really tired, you just might fall asleep much sooner than you think.
  • Don’t have your alarm clock next to your bed
  • This is an important one, if it is within arms reach, the temptation is there to just reach out and hit the snooze button or worse still you could end up just turning it off.
  • By having your alarm clock far from your bed, you will have to get up out of bed to shut it off. Then, you’re up. Now you just have to stay up.
  • Open the blinds or curtains and get out of the room as soon as you turn off the alarm
  • By doing this you are less likely to talk yourself into getting back into bed, even if it is just for a few minutes.
  • Do not rationalize. If you allow your brain to talk you out of getting up early, you’ll never do it. Don’t make getting back in bed an option.
  • Have a good reason for setting that alarm:
  • Set something to do early in the morning that’s important. This will help motivate you to get up and do it. Once it is done, you’ll be awake and ready to take on the day.

Take advantage of all that extra time

Have a nice hot cup of coffee or tea. Read a book, Watch the sunrise or meditate. Don’t wake up early, to wander around and not make the most of your time. Find something that’s pleasurable for you, and allow yourself to do it as part of your morning routine.

Getting up early has many benefits for both your body and your mind. The hardest part is convincing yourself to do it, and then getting into a routine of getting up early every morning. If you start implementing these tips you will soon see that it gets easier and eventually you will find that your body starts to get used to it, and you end up waking even before your alarm goes off.

 

 

Memories from Old City of Jerusalem – Israel

The Old City of Jerusalem is one of the most intense places on Earth! At the heart of the Jewish, Islamic, and Christian religions, this one-kilometer, walled-in area in the center of Jerusalem is beyond words and cannot be missed. The Old City is home to the Western Wall (aka Wailing Wall and in Hebrew Kotel). This is the last remaining wall of what was once the Jewish Temple and is today the holiest site in the world for Jews.

Above the Western Wall lies the Dome of the Rock, which is important for Muslims as the site where the prophet Muhammad is said to have risen to heaven.

 

people gathering near brick wall

Just a few minutes’ walk away lies the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where some believe Jesus was crucified and buried.

The Old City of Jerusalem is divided into four quarters; The Jewish Quarter, The Armenian Quarter, The Christian Quarter, and The Muslim Quarter. The walled city is entered by one of seven entry gates, although the busiest for tourists is the Jaffa Gate next to which is the Tower of David Museum, providing the history of Jerusalem within the Old City Walls. Each quarter has its own unique atmosphere and observations, sites and smells, and experiences.

 

 

In the Jewish Quarter, for instance, the narrow alleyways are lined by the homes of Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) Jewish families and Yeshivas (schools for Torah study). Walking around, you can observe the residents of the Jewish quarter go about their daily lives. There are teenage students in the Yeshivas who are often here from around the world, children playing outside schools between lessons, men rushing around between places of worship – and of course, many people praying at the Western Wall. The houses of the Old City – and the Jewish quarter, in particular – are hotly contested real estate, and for good reason. They command spectacular prices on the rare occasion that they trade hands.

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The Jewish Quarter’s narrow alleyways open up as you reach the Western Wall Plaza and the wall itself. At times of Jewish festivals, the wall can be crowded, and observing the tourists brushing alongside daily prayers here is an interesting site. Anybody can go up to the wall, although men and women have separate areas. Men should cover their heads (there are paper kippahs available), and women should wear modest clothing. It is customary to place a small prayer on a piece of paper within a crack on the wall. Amazingly, the vast Western Wall represents just a tiny percentage of this elevation of the Temple, and the Western Wall Tunnels, accessed via the plaza, allow visitors to see even more of the wall underground. Also interestingly, within the Muslim Quarter is whats known as the Little Western Wall where the wall is once again exposed and visible. This is argued to be holier than the iconic section of the wall because it is closer to the ‘Holy of Holies’ – the holiest part of the Temple.

The Muslim Quarter is a huge contrast to the Jewish Quarter. Its streets are busier and more crowded, with vendors – especially within the famous Shuk – selling all varieties of products. In contrast to the other quarters where shops are generally selling religious or tourist-appealing products, here the Shuk is literally an ancient shopping mall in the 21st century where one can practice their bartering skills and buy almost anything imaginable. As in the Jewish Quarter, and the rest of the Old City, tourists wandering the streets of the Muslim Quarter find it hard to imagine how the locals go about their everyday business so normally in what is such an intense place. Kids play in the street, and men sit out in cafes smoking nargila (hookah or shisha).

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The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem

 

The Dome of the Rock sits above the Western Wall Plaza, and while non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the building itself, tourists are able to tour the compound and nearby Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Moving into the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, there is yet another change. Home to about 40 holy sites to Christians, in the streets here you will see priests and pilgrims from around the world. This quarter was constructed around the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus is said to have been crucified and buried. Within this hot patch of real estate, even the Church is divided, with different parts controlled by different Christian sects, meaning that there are often disputes over maintenance and some parts are in poor condition.

The Armenian Quarter is one of the four sections within the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. The other Quarters are the Jewish, Christian and Muslim Quarters. The Armenians have the smallest section in the Old City and take up 14% of the total area of the Old City. The Quarter is home to approximately 2,000 people many of whom are connected to the Armenian Apostolic Church. The Armenians have their own distinct language and culture and are ethnically neither Arab nor Jewish.

The Armenians originated from Turkey, the Caucasus Mountains and Iran. Soon after Jesus’ death the Armenians were converted to Christianity and ever since then have been making pilgrimages to the Holy Land.  Armenian monks arrived in Jerusalem in the 4th century AD. Jerusalem’s Armenian community is considered the oldest living Armenian Diaspora community in the world.

Armenians have had a strong presence in the city since at least the fourth century, when Armenia became Christian. Their quarter is said to be the oldest living Armenia diaspora community. Thousands of displaced survivors of the Armenian Genocide relocated to this part of Jerusalem in the 20th century.

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Narrow Alley in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem

Armenians displaced from the former Ottoman Empire because of the genocide brought with them a special type of Turkish-style ceramic, which has since become synonymous with Jerusalem and Armenians. It’s now used for all the street signs in the Old City and is also sold in many stores. Explore the walled Old City of Jerusalem, and you’ll soon spot beautifully crafted ceramic street signs spread through the area.

The Armenian compound is enclosed by an inner wall within the Armenian Quarter and includes St. James, a convent, school, churches and residences. Along the walk from the Jaffa Gate past the Zion Gate and to the Jewish Quarter are many small shops displaying the beautiful hand-painted Armenian pottery which is made locally. Armenian ceramics can be seen adorning many parts of the Old City including the Dome of the Rock and neighborhood street signs.

 

12 Things Your Partner Needs To Hear More Often

The daily maintenance of a relationship is so much easier when you employ even a few of these twelve phrases.

 

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1. That You Want To Make Their Life Easier

2. That You Want To Keep Dating Them

3. That You Like Having Them Around

4. That You Want To Know About Their Day

5. What They Bring To Your Life

6. That You Support Them And Their Decisions

7. That You Find Them Attractive

8. That You Find Their Choices Attractive

9. That They Are A Priority

10. That You Still Appreciate Them

11. “I’m Sorry”

12. “I Love You”

Say It Loud, Say It Proud

How to Let Go of the Stress and Pressure That Weigh You Down

“Stress is not what happens to us. It’s our response to what happens, and response is something we can choose.” ~Maureen Killoran

 

I don’t know about you, but I often find advice to release stress and pressure to be great on paper but incredibly difficult to apply.

Just say no more often! Sounds good, but my twenty-month-old son still needs constant care and I need to earn money, so there’s a lot I can’t just not do.

Get out in nature! I do try, but it’s been cold and grey, and often I don’t get time to myself until night—when it’s even more frigid.

Exercise more! I have the best of intentions, but I’m pregnant, frequently exhausted, and there’s that whole time thing again. I just can’t seem to create more of it, try as I may.

I suppose this is true of most good advice: It’s far easier to make a list of great ideas than it is to actually apply them. And it’s hard not to resist all those well-intentioned suggestions as overly simplified and maybe even unrealistic.

That, I’ve realized, is my biggest problem—one that you can perhaps relate to as well: While my circumstances can be challenging and limiting, most of the stress and pressure I feel originates with some form of internal resistance. Resistance to what was, what is, what might be, what I’m doing, what I could be doing, who I am… the list goes on.

And it might look like this:

  • Rehashing the past (and pressuring myself to somehow fix my mistakes)
  • Dwelling on worst-case scenarios (and pressuring myself to find ways to avoid them)
  • Fighting my current reality (and pressuring myself to change it)
  • Worrying about what I have to do (and pressuring myself to do it perfectly)
  • Obsessing about what I should be doing (and pressuring myself to figure it out)
  • Fixating on what I can’t do right now (and pressuring myself to get around my limitations)
  • Wishing I had more time for myself (and pressuring myself to somehow create it)
  • Judging myself in comparison to others (and pressuring myself to be better than I am)
  • Agonizing about what people think of me (and pressuring myself to meet their expectations)

If you’ve done any of these things yourself, I’m sure you know they’re exhausting.

That’s not say we are the sole cause of our stress. Sometimes life demands that we do more and deal with external challenges beyond our control—job loss, health issues, financial troubles, divorce…

And it’s true that there are lots of little things we can do to relieve some of the tension. But the first thing we need to do is relieve the pressure where it’s generally the most intense: within our own minds.

How to Relieve the Mental Pressure

There are two things I’ve found to be highly effective in quieting my inner voice of resistance.

1. Allow yourself to feel the feelings under your thoughts so that you can calm and release them.

All too often we get caught in a thought loop as a way to avoid feeling our feelings, because stressful as it may be, thinking about our circumstances allows us to avoid facing our deepest wounds. But we have to face them to heal them. As they say, the only way out is through.

I’ve found that underneath my varying forms of internal resistance, there’s usually:

Shame/guilt:

About things I think I’ve done wrong, about who I am (when I mistakenly assume my poor choices define me), about expectations I failed to meet or might fail to meet (my own and other people’s). And this triggers my core childhood wounds that led me to believe I’m fundamentally bad.

When I feel it:

When I’m rehashing the past, judging myself in comparison to others, and agonizing about what people think of me.

Fear:

Of the unknown, failing, succeeding then somehow ruining it, losing control, not doing enough with my life/making the most of my time, not living up to my potential, hurting or disappointing other people. Once again, this triggers my childhood wounds that led me to believe I’m not good enough, and never will be.

When I feel it:

When I’m dwelling on worst-case scenarios, worrying about what I have to do, and obsessing about what I should be doing.

Anger:

Toward myself for what I think I did wrong, toward other people for how I think they did me wrong, toward for myself for maybe causing them to do me wrong (because I often find a way to blame myself), toward life for being unfair. This triggers my core belief that life should be fair, formed, you guessed it, in childhood, when life felt very unfair.

When I feel it:

When I’m rehashing the past and fighting my current reality.

Emptiness:

Because I’m not connecting with myself, others, my passions, the world at large, or anything that would fulfill me.

When I feel it:

When I’m fixating on what I can’t do right now and wishing I had more time for myself.

When I can get below the thoughts and identify one of these feelings, I can sit with it. I can cry it out—the ultimate release!

I can empathize with myself and tell myself what I need to hear—that I’m a good person who’s always done her best, that I will do my best in the future and can handle what’s coming, that everyone else is doing their best, and we all deserve understanding and forgiveness.

And I can also do what I really need to do to feel better:

Maybe take a warm bath if I’m feeling ashamed to remind myself that I deserve comfort even when I think I’ve messed up.

Maybe do something fun and childlike if I’m feeling afraid of the future to help me find joy in the present moment.

Maybe write a forgiveness letter if I’m feeling angry to help me empathize, accept, and let go.

Maybe call someone I love, journal, or do something creative if I’m feeling empty, to meet my need for connection.

The point is, after we feel our feelings, we can do something to address the specific root cause of our stress in a moment instead of arbitrarily choosing an activity from a one-size-fits-all list of stress-relievers.

So ask yourself: What am I thinking that’s stressing me out? What’s the feeling underneath it? What does that feeling have to teach me? What does it need to hear? And what can I do to help ease that pain?

2. Get out of your head (and perhaps into your body or a state of flow).

It’s ironic but true that two pieces of seemingly contradictory advice can be equally helpful and powerful, and such is the case when it comes to relieving stress. Or at least it has been for me.

On the one hand, it can benefit us to look closely at what’s going in our minds so we can understand it, challenge it if necessary, and calm the feelings underneath our thoughts.

On the other hand, sometimes we simply need to disengage from our mind’s stories—about our unfulfilling work, our mounting bills, our insensitive relatives, and so on. To recognize we’re getting caught up in a mental maze from which we may never escape unless we consciously choose to get out—and then make that choice.

Our brain’s default mode network (DMN), which is designed to protect us, tends toward negativity, often focused on the past, the future, and the intentions behind others’ behavior. Research has shown a link between a disproportionately active DMN and depression and anxiety—and has also shown that meditation can help influence the default network.

That’s why it’s so important that we learn to get out of our heads, either through traditional meditation or by getting into our bodies or a state of flow (when you’re so consumed in a task that you forget about everything else and lose track of time).

It’s not just about temporarily quieting our thoughts. Mindfulness can actually change patterns of brain activity over time, enabling us to more frequently get out of the default mode network—where we inevitably feel stressed!

How do we get out of our heads and into our bodies or a state of flow?

Here are a few ways to practice mindfulness through movement:

Yoga

As you sync your breathing with your movements and focus your attention on the subtle muscle shifts required to get into and hold each pose, you’ll find your mind naturally quieting. There are lots of different styles of yoga. My favorites are vinyasa and Bikram, since I find the heat particularly soothing.

You can find all kinds of yoga videos on YouTube, and odds are, when life gets closer to normal again, you can find a free or donation-based class near you. I personally find it easier to practice in a class than on my own, since the presence of other people holds me accountable, and there are fewer cookies and TVs nearby to distract me!

Tai Chi

I have less experience with Tai Chi, but I did practice for a while in college, as part of an acting class. Acting requires you to get out of your judging mind, and Tai Chi is a perfect practice to facilitate that, since it’s all about integrating mind and body through slow, low-impact, controlled movements and breathing.

Tai chi is less physically taxing than most yoga practices (aside from restorative yoga, which is incredibly relaxing), which makes it perfect for anyone who’s more physically limited. It’s particularly popular among the senior crowd, since it’s easy on the joints, but it’s a powerful and effective mindfulness practice for anyone, of any age!

Mindful hiking or walking

Any form of movement can be meditative if you focus your attention on the sensations in your body, and hiking and walking outside bring the added benefit of immersing you in nature—a natural stress-reliever!

Studies have shown that just twenty minutes in nature can significantly lower your stress hormones. And it can also stimulate all the body’s senses, as we tune in to the sound of running water trickling nearby, the scent of pine (known to lower depression and anxiety), the colors in a picturesque sunrise, the feeling of leaves crunching beneath our feet, and the taste of a freshly picked piece of fruit.

Here are a few ways to get into a mindful state of flow (suggested by flow researcher Steven Kolter):

Through social triggers

We often think of flow as something we achieve individually, but group activities bring the added benefit of facilitating deep connection as we move in sync or work toward team goals. This might mean getting into a collective state of flow as part of a sports team, dance troupe, or through synchronized swimming.

I remember one particular piece of choreography from a community theater show I did as a kid. There were at least twenty of us, seated, doing clapping motions with each other’s hands, tapping our own and each other’s legs. We all needed to move perfectly in sync to get it just right, which required intense focus, and I have to say it was deeply gratifying to move as part of a whole—to lose myself in the group and become immersed in something bigger than myself.

Through creative triggers

Any creative activity can get us into a state of flow if we enjoy it and lose ourselves in the task. Painting, playing an instrument, dancing, jewelry making, even doodling—pick whatever calls to you so deeply you can’t help but concentrate on the present, losing your sense of self-consciousness because the act itself is so fun and rewarding.

Through environmental triggers

Rock climbing is a perfect example, since you need to be fully absorbed in the moment to safely navigate the rock formation. As you push yourself to your physical limit, balancing and adapting to the changing terrain, you’ll find yourself going deeper and deeper into a state of flow.

Though I’ve never done outdoor rock climbing—which I imagine is all the more thrilling, since it’s riskier and you’re totally immersed in nature—I participated in a climbing course as an experiential therapy treatment for bulimia in my early twenties. I remember all my worries falling away as I focused on not falling off the beam, and I recall appreciating my body for what it could do instead of judging myself for everything I thought I was doing wrong.

The beauty of most of these practices is that we can adapt them to our needs and available time. You can take an hour class or just practice for ten minutes. You can work on a painting for two hours or sketch for a brief window before bed.

Easier said than done? Of course! It’s far easier to watch Netflix in our one free hour of time or mindlessly scroll in that brief window before bed. (Guilty as charged.) When I do that, all my heavy unfelt feelings fester, settling deep into my brain and my bones and suffocating me like an invisible straitjacket.

But I know when I do something that’s good for me, I feel it—and I want more of it. And my resistance to doing it naturally fades away, along with my stress.

So really, we just need to show up once—really show up. Be so present that we allow ourselves to fully live that moment so we can love that moment, and that love will bring us back. Back to the practice, back to our bodies, back to ourselves. Our deepest selves, underneath the stress and pressure. The true self who knows we don’t need to be more, we don’t have to do more, we just have to let ourselves enjoy more. Because within that enjoyment there’s peace and healing. And no matter what our negatively biased brains tell us, we absolutely deserve it.

 

11 Gratitude Books To Remind You To Be Thankful Daily

In my continuous pursuit of happiness, one thing that people emphasize time and again is a feeling of gratitude. These days, the science behind gratitude and the general public are starting to get the idea that gratitude for things in life is actually a good thing. With life going by so fast, taking some time to slow down and express some gratitude is always nice.

In light of all this, I’ve gone out to look for some of the best books revolving around gratitude. These books do more than show us the benefits of gratitude. In fact, these books are able to help us bring a sense of fulfillment, purpose, and wellbeing to ourselves too.

Before diving into the list, here is the sort of criteria I looked for in books about gratitude. Considering how sizable the self-improvement industry is, you can use these criteria to determine other books beyond this list:

  • Easy to apply lifestyle – Expressing gratitude is not a difficult process, however, the benefits and day to day transformations can be hard to spot for those looking to get into it. The books we are suggesting today go to great lengths to outline the benefits and what you may experience when practicing gratitude on a regular basis.
  • Science-based – With the extensive amount of research done around gratitude at this point, many authors should be taking the time to do research.
  • Insightful – Gratitude is more than a feeling. It’s also a mindset shift. Not only will this make you a more thankful individual, but it should also give you more insight on yourself as you make changes to yourself every day.

 

1. Words of Gratitude

Written by Robert Emmons, he is one of the most influential professionals in gratitude research with several books and articles published on this topic. This book is written in sweet spots of many people, between academic areas and intimate ones as well.

If you’re looking for a book that has ample research but also explains itself in simple language, give this book a read.

Written by Robert Emmons, he is one of the most influential professionals in gratitude research with several books and articles published on this topic. This book is written in sweet spots of many people, between academic areas and intimate ones as well.

If you’re looking for a book that has ample research but also explains itself in simple language, give this book a read.

 

2. The Psychology of Gratitude

Another book that Robert Emmons worked on is The Psychology of Gratitude. He and Michael McCullough assembled this book for those looking to delve further into the theories, philosophies, and evidence surrounding gratitude overall.

This book pulls various perspectives and fields. It provides such an in-depth look into gratitude that many describe this as a necessary book if you’re ever planning to get into positive psychology. That said, you don’t need to have a background in it to understand this book.

Another book that Robert Emmons worked on is The Psychology of Gratitude. He and Michael McCullough assembled this book for those looking to delve further into the theories, philosophies, and evidence surrounding gratitude overall.

This book pulls various perspectives and fields. It provides such an in-depth look into gratitude that many describe this as a necessary book if you’re ever planning to get into positive psychology. That said, you don’t need to have a background in it to understand this book.

3. Thanks!

The last Emmons book I’ll talk about in this post is Thanks!. This calls back to the Words of Gratitude book he wrote where there is a bit of gratitude research while also giving different perspectives.

This book pulls from psychology, religion and anthropology before offering a call to action to cultivate gratitude in your life. The angle this book is taking is more along the lines of understanding how gratitude can create a life-changing addition to your life as well as tactics to use it in your life.

4. A Simple Act of Gratitude

 

Written by John Kralik, this memoir provides a personal look into gratitude and how it can change someone’s life. In this memoir, John Kralik talks about an all-time low point in his life to make it into a happy and flourishing life.

How he went about it was through the simple act of writing down thank-you notes to himself. After doing enough of those he had an epiphany:

“My life would become more manageable if I spent all my energy and focus on what I do have in my life rather than what I don’t have.”

That epiphany sent him on a journey where he devoted an entire year to writing 365 thank-you notes, once per day. Every time he did that he noticed profound changes in himself and wrote all about them in this book.

If you’re looking for a simple book to see gratitude in action, this is a great pick.

 

5. The Gratitude Diaries

A New York Times bestselling book has a mixture of the books discussed so far. The core focus of this book is revolving around one woman’s efforts to stick to her New Year’s resolution of being more grateful and optimistic – similar to John Kralik.

At the same time, the book delves into plenty of academic research and backs up findings with evidence-based findings like the Robert Emmons books.

This approach Janice Kaplan takes is nice as you’re getting the best of both worlds. All wrapped up in a book that you can casually read thanks to the informal and accessible tonne.

6. One Thousand Gifts

Many great gratitude books stem from personal exploration as these help us to better understand gratitude. Ann Voskamp’s book – One Thousand Gifts – is no different as she shares her personal transformation around her new habit of writing down specifics of what she is thankful for. In the book, she refers to these as “gifts”.

She argues that jotting these down on a regular basis will allow us to notice the smaller details in our lives. Based on her own transformation, it’s hard to argue with that logic.

7. Living Life As A Thank You

Written by authors Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons, this book drives home that whatever you’re given in life, even if it’s bad, saying thank you for these can change your life. This book provides a gratitude plan for those looking to delve into gratitude and also to help them understand how gratitude can improve the daily feelings of compassion, hope, and love.

8. The Little Book of Hygge

Pronounced as Hoo-ga, the idea of Hygge has Danish origins. It loosely translates to a feeling of community, well-being and coziness. The author – Meik Wiking – writes about Hygge as a way to introduce this concept and how people can incorporate this into your life.

And it’s not like these are very difficult to achieve. According to Hygge, things like taking breaks, and being present are easy to do. They also aren’t that much of a stretch to the ideas and benefits that we get when expressing gratitude.

9. The Gifts of Imperfection

Brené Brown has written all kinds of books over the years on a variety of topics. One in her wheelhouse focuses on gratitude. To Brown, she outlines ten guideposts that are designed to inspire people to live a wholehearted and authentic life. She argues that by living your life in this way, it’s easier to accept, show compassion, and cultivate gratitude in your life.

10. Everyday Gratitude

For those looking for quick bursts of information or something very easy to read, picking up a copy of Everyday Gratitude could be an option. The focus of this book is revolving around quotes from influential figures plus reflections and practices for viewing life as a gift. This is great for those who aren’t too keen on knowing the inner workings and want to experience gratitude first hand in a faster way.

11. Gratitude

The final book we’ll share is one written by Oliver Sacks titled Gratitude. Even though he didn’t do any research in the gratitude field, his essays and the multiple books he’s published since the early 1980s made their marks on many people.

Based on his essays and books it’s clear that Sacks was a man filled with gratitude. Even when he announced to people that he had terminal cancer in January 2015, he had this to say:

“I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude.”

This book consists of four essays that were published in The New York Times – one of them being the essay where he announced his illness. This is complemented by his partner’s words and photographs of the last few years of his life.

If you’re looking for a thought-provoking and heart-wrenching book that looks at the entire cycle of life, this is your best option.

Final Thoughts

In our fast-paced lives, it’s easy to lose ourselves or forget about feeling grateful in our lives. These books teach us and remind us to slow down and take notice of the small things in life.

Many of these books also stress why that is so important to do in the first place. For those looking to hope into the world of gratitude, you can’t go wrong with picking up any of these books.

 

Understand the Reasons to Apologize

 

 

When you muster up the courage to apologize to someone that you harmed, it says a lot of great things about your character. When you tell your apology the right way, it makes a much more impactful difference. An essential quality in any apology is the sincerity and delivery of the message. What you have to say is necessary, but the manner and method in which you say it carries more weight.

In this article, we examine the 15 most important aspects to take into consideration when apologizing to a friend, loved one, or anybody who you owe the conversation. There are certain mindsets that you have when approaching the conversation, as well as appropriate types of locations and times for it to mean more. It is also vital to have an action plan to follow up with the person after giving the apology.

Understand the Reasons to Apologize

Before you apologize, you must understand why you will have the conversation in the first place. There are usually five reasons why someone may need to give an apology. The first is to open the line of communication between you and the other person of value. Having a common understanding that an apology is needed is the first step toward a healthy dialogue when giving an apology.

Another key reason you would need to apologize is to express your feelings of remorse and regret what you did. By admitting this to the other person, you also acknowledge that you were wrong in this situation. When you become aware of your actions and are upfront about your wrongdoings, you show a sense of humility that will increase the chance of the other person accepting your apology.

When apologizing to someone early in your time knowing them, it may lead to a crucial discussion about what is allowed and not allowed within the scope of the relationship. This type of talk will set boundaries and expectations for future decisions. By knowing what gets expected of each other, you are less likely to experience issues down the road.

Apologizing is also a great way to learn from your mistakes. By breaching a discussion about your wrongdoing intimately with someone, it allows you to articulate how you will be better next time verbally.

Apologize in Person Rather than via Phone or Text

If you want to convey the full value and emotion behind your apology, it is best to have the conversation in person. It is easy for bullies to hide behind a screen when they are saying things online, and you could do the same with an apology. Anybody who apologizes through a text message or email is taking the easy way out. By not apologizing in person, you are shying away from any raw emotions that come with it.

When you meet with someone in person for an apology, it sends a message to them that you want to dedicate enough time to making amend with them. When you schedule the window to meet with them, you should arrange so that you have no commitments right after it. This planning ensures that you will have all the time you need to formally apologize and then discuss more topics and game plan afterward.

When you set up the time to apologize, make it known to the person that you will not be able to communicate effectively unless you can speak with them face-to-face. When you meet up with them, give them your undivided attention and make excellent eye contact while you are making your points. Making the apology in person also allows you to read his or her body language as you communicate your points.

Find a Location and Time for the Apology

Once you have established that you can make the apology in person, the kind of location where you apologize is equally essential. You must make sure the site is private, quiet, and free of distractions. If you go to a noisy place, the other person may not be able to hear from you. If possible, do it in the privacy of your home or theirs, but you should give them the authority to pick the location of the apology.

You also want this to be a unique conversation shared between only you and the person. If you go to a shared space, someone might overhear what you are saying. You may also withhold information or communicate differently with your body language, knowing that there are people around. When you surround yourself with privacy, you can give undivided attention to the other person.

The time of the apology is also an important component. Work hard to fit your schedule around the time that the other person wants. A good idea would be to make the apology over lunch or dinner when the person is not in the middle of the work or stress. An apology during the nighttime would allow you to have a full conversation without having to worry about getting back to your daily obligations.

Imagine Everything from the Other Person’s Perspective

As you should in any conversation, you should seek to understand the other person before getting them to follow you. Before you formally apologize, put yourself in his or her shoes. Ask yourself how you would feel if you were them. Even though you cannot truly feel what they feel, showing empathy will allow you to deliver your apology better if you can get on the same wavelength as the other person.

You should consider all potential impacts of your wrongdoing or mistake. Was the person that you apologize to the only person who was indeed affected? By contemplating all the indirect implications of your error, you can address these components in your discussion so that you can apologize to the best of your ability. If the situation calls for it, you can bring all the impacted parties together for the conversation.

By seeing the events from the other person’s perspective, you can ask more educated questions. Significant inquiries result in a more extended, more meaningful dialogue between you and your friend or loved one. Take time to think hard about what he or she dealt with in the past. Their history, relationships, and other past traumas give you insight into how you can approach your apology effectively.

Manage Your Expectations

Managing your expectations is vital when making an apology. Saying “I’m sorry” does not automatically mean that the other person will accept it right away. It is a good idea to taper your expectations if the apology does not go as planned. Everybody handles trauma and negative situations in different ways. One of the most important things to remember is that the apology is about the other person, not you.

You may have negatively affected someone, and time could be the best healer in your situation. So, the apology will not be the means to the end, but it will be a crucial step in the grand scheme of the whole process. Part of full forgiveness will be letting your follow up actions communicate more than your words do. Outlining an action plan not to make the mistake again will get discussed later.

There is a minimal chance that the accepting of forgiveness might be impossible. Depending on the severity of your actions, the other person may express that they could never forgive you. The best thing to do here is to communicate your sincere apology and continue to show that you mean what you say. Opening this possibility before you make your apology will help you remain mentally stable.

Express Remorse about Your Mistake in Your Apology

Expressing genuine remorse for your mistake will get shown not only through your words but through your body language and facial expressions. Your choice of words and phrases need to be authentic, deliberate, and right to the point. Everybody makes mistakes, say things they do not mean, and acts irrationally. But it is all about how you reflect and show you are genuinely sorry about your error.

When you express regret, be very clear and communicate on why you are having the conversation in the first place. You could be attempting to strengthen communication or be upfront that you regret your actions so much, that you need to schedule this discussion about it so that you can formally apologize. You should be apologizing for the right reasons and not for ulterior motives.

The timing of your apology makes a critical case for your genuine remorse for your actions. The longer you wait after the mistake gets made, the less the message means to the other person. Depending on the nature of the transgression, try your best to make sure the other person learns about the mistake from you rather than someone else. If they find out before you tell them, follow up immediately.

Empathy is an essential aspect of expressing regret in your actions, so make it known to them that you are sincerely sorry for both the direct and indirect impacts of the situation.

Admit Responsibility

Admitting responsibility for your part in the mistake is one of the most critical aspects of a sufficient apology and being upfront and honest about your specific behaviors, actions, and the violations of trust that occurred. Make sure to empathize with the person and understand who your mistake impacted all. Address the potential future impacts in your apology to make it more authentic and real.

Another important aspect is to understand the details as to why your specific action caused their emotions. The other person might be going through a variety of different emotions for different reasons. It is essential to understand all of these, address them, and talk about what you could have done differently. Addressing these facts will make communication more direct and productive.

Throughout the whole conversation, do not assume anything about the other person’s feelings, or how you think your words are coming across. Before you end the discussion, it should get fully understand how each person feels that the meaning behind everything got communicated.

Lastly, avoid shifting the blame onto anything and anyone else. This deflection of blame will take away fro the sincerity of your apology. Take full responsibility for everything you did and own everything.

Make Amends with the Other Person

You can say everything that needs to get told during the apology, but the follow up actions are what matter the most. It is essential to let the other person know that you will make it up to them in some way or another. You should outline a plan or schedule a future event to let them know that you are committed. This next event could be a dinner, a group event in which you include them, or some other value.

Another simple way to make amends is to tell them you will not make a mistake again, and then let your actions do the talking. Once you make your initial apology, revisit the conversation weeks or months down the road to circle back on your promise. It takes a big person to learn from his or her mistakes, and you can make amends by putting this into practice. It takes much longer to earn trust than it does to lose it.

By promising to make amends in the future, you put your reputation on the line. If you do not follow through with your future commitment, many people will question your character and trust. You create a high risk, high reward situation by promising to make amends. One thing you could do to keep yourself accountable is to write this conversation down in your journal so that you stay serious about it.

Express Gratitude

A refreshing, unique strategy for an apology is to express gratitude in different ways throughout the conversation. It is vital to let the other person know that you appreciate their time and that you are grateful that they gave you a chance to offer an apology. Showing that you are thankful for this opportunity shows that you genuinely care to make amends and try to correct your wrongdoing.

You can also show appreciation for everything that gives you in the relationship. You can thank the other person for sharing good times with you. If you have known the person for a long time, shed light on the memorable times shared. You can then let them know that making it up to them is essential to you because of how much trust you already built. A loyal person should get valued as such.

When showing that you are thankful for your person, make sure your words count. It is not what you say, but how you say it. Eye contact is something that often gets overlooked in regular conversation, so give them undivided attention throughout the entire conversation. People want to feel important and appreciated, and you are sure to give your apology more weight by taking this sincere, grateful approach.

Listen Attentively

While you might be doing a majority of the talking at first, listening is just as critical during the conversation that follows an apology. No matter what happens, the other person wants to feel understood and valued. You cannot connect with a person and show empathy without actively listen while he or she is talking to you. Do not just listen with your ears but listen with all your body language.

When the other person is talking, look them in the eye and show affirmation that you hear what they are saying — nodding your head a few times when they make an extra important point will show that you get locked in on what they are saying. When it is your turn to talk, reiterate what they just said and expand upon how you will continually work to remedy the situation. Do not interject and respond respectfully.

Another way to show that you are effectively listening is to ask fantastic questions. Focus on posing inquiries that revolve around how the other person feels. The facts are one thing, but it is essential to focus on the emotions of the person and where they stand mentally. When you bring great questions to the table, you prolong the conversation and make it healthier and more meaningful.

Write Down Your Apology

If you want to keep yourself fully accountable throughout the entire apology process, it would be helpful for you to write your thoughts, actions, and plans out. This strategy can get done in a journal, if you already do that, or on a sticky note that you can place in plain sight for yourself. When you put your thoughts on paper, it makes them more real because you think them, then you see them, then you repeat them.

Another reason why you might write down your apology is that you could be concerned about how your words will come off when you apologize. It is entirely reasonable to get nervous going into a conversation such as this one, so you could outline what you will say on paper. This strategy could help you organize your thoughts and help you feel more prepared when you sit down with the other person.

One thing you need to keep in mind here is not to make your apology seem too rehearsed and scripted. While it is good to plan and write words down, you want to make sure that you come off as a sincere friend when you have the conversation. When you are done with the conversation and have followed up steps to take, it is vital to put these down on paper as well to keep yourself committed to the promise.

Do Not Offer Excuses

The act of offering excuses is an easy trap to fall into when giving your apologies. The simple way out would be to try and explain your actions and provide justification as to why you did something. It is normal to try and defend yourself. But again, this conversation is not about you, and it is about the other person. Your priority should be to fully understand how you emotionally affected them, not to defend yourself.

Excuses are dangerous to use because it might make you feel better about yourself to use them, but they will severely weaken your apology. Offering reasoning as to why you did something will discount the meaning of your words in the other person’s eyes. Instead, be upfront that you are taking full ownership of your actions. Do not shift the blame on to other things to reduce responsibility.

A great way to prevent yourself from making excuses is first to explain what you did, then immediately follow it up by expressing that it was the wrong decision. You should be upfront by saying there is no reason for you to make the other person feel the way you did. And while it was not your intention, be cognizant of what you did and incorporate that into the apology.

Be Fair to Yourself When You Make an Apology

Throughout the entire apology process, you need to establish the difference between taking full responsibility and accepting blame for too much. You want to communicate that what you did was wrong and work to make amends, but do not be too hard on yourself while doing so. It is good to focus on earning forgiveness from the other person, but do not forget to forgive yourself as well.

It is also essential to realize that humans are not perfect and make mistakes. While you cannot control what the other person will say after you apologize, you can control how you respond and learn from failure. You will improve yourself and develop, and the repairment of the relationship with the other person will eventually come with it. Give yourself a chance to rebound from your misstep.

When you apologize, let the other person know that you are working to become a better person from the entire experience, not only for them but for your own sake. Be humble throughout the apology, but make sure to stay healthy mentally so you can take care of yourself too.

Do Not Expect Instant Forgiveness

The entire apology does not happen in a single conversation, so you cannot expect the person to accept your statement 100% right away. Depending on the nature of the mistake you made, it could get fixed with one conversation. But everybody’s healing process and timeline is different, and it is essential for you to recognize this fact.

Be forward about this in your apology and let them know that you wanted to have this conversation right away because it is essential to you. Do not put pressure on the other person to accept your apology because that could make everything worse. Be prepared for them to ask for space from you. Spending time apart from the other person could end up being a blessing to let the apology clear the air and sit.

In the days and weeks after the apology, be sure to follow up and see how the person is doing. Do not bombard them with messages or calls but let them know you are there to talk if they still want to. But through the entire experience, respect their space if they ask for it.

Promise That You Won’t Make the Same Mistake Again

When you commit not to make the same mistake again, your loyalty and trust will get put in the spotlight. This step is an important one for you and your relationship with the person because it puts pressure on you to follow up on your promises. It is critical to reassure the other person that you have an action plan to alter your behavior. Be specific when talking about how you will do that going forward.

After you outlined your plan, schedule a time with the other person to have a touchpoint on how well your changed behavior affects the relationship. By putting in the extra effort to follow up on your apology, you will increase your chances of repairing the relationship.

Conclusion: Be Sincere, and Actions Speak Louder Than Words

As you can see, there are many essential things to take into consideration when giving your apology. The most important thing for you to do is be real with them. Do not provide excuses or an explanation for what you did but own it. Take full responsibility, then be forthright about your action plan to make amends and not make the same mistake in the future.

The other person wants to feel important and valued by the time the conversation ends. By actively listening to them and being sincere with your words and body language, you will show them that you are grateful for their time. One of the more important things to remember is that the formal apology is half the battle, and the other half is following through with your actions. You are capable of remedy.