Everything You Need to Know About The Fourth of July

On July 4th, the United States of America will celebrate its Independence Day. If you were born in America or live there now, this is the perfect occasion to celebrate the country in all its glory. Not sure what the holiday means and how to celebrate? Western Union has got you covered! Take a look below to learn everything you need to know about the Fourth of July.

The History

All the way back in the year 1776 on July 4th, the United States was formed. Back then there were not 50 states, but thirteen colonies that claimed their independence from Great Britain. One of the country’s founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, drafted the Declaration of Independence and the rest is history. The country grew and grew to where it is today and Jefferson would go on to be America’s third President!

The Meaning

The historic meaning behind this amazing holiday is one of freedom and independence. It is a special time for Americans to recognize how fortunate they are to live in “the land of the free,” as it is sung in the Star Spangled Banner, the United States’ national anthem.

How To Celebrate

The Fourth of July is quite an exciting and spirited time in the United States! One of the biggest ways to celebrate is by watching a colorful firework display at your local park or stadium. These beautiful fireworks light up the sky with colors of red, white and blue and help make the Fourth of July celebrations memorable for the entire family.

Before the firework display however, the real fun begins! Many families will take a stroll to the beach or head to the park for a mid-day barbeque. Others might find themselves entering a watermelon-eating contest or visiting a local Fourth of July parade, full of live music, cyclists and fun!

 

What to Eat

We mentioned that many families celebrate with a big barbecue and it is a feast you will surely remember! Some typical dishes you might find at a Fourth of July barbecue are hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, with a side of corn on the cob and Coleslaw!

For dessert, this is a great opportunity to flex your creative muscles and cook up something fun and festive! Many will bake fruit cakes in the shape of the American flag, while another fun idea is to enjoy red, white and blue popsicles that are fun to look at and even better to taste!

No matter how you celebrate today, the Fourth of July is all about spending time with family, friends and loved ones. It’s important to celebrate your country’s Independence Day and recognize the significance of your culture and its history. If you are recognizing the Fourth of July, make sure it’s full of family, fun and fireworks, too! How does your country celebrate its Independence Day?

Why Your Failures Are Your Most Valuable Currency

“The master has failed more time than the apprentice has even attempted.” ~Proverb

There’s no prize for coming last. But that doesn’t mean it holds no value at all.

We’re so obsessed with not measuring up to expectations that we can deny ourselves the permission to take chances. So many of us are risk averse. Paralyzed by the fear of failure. It robs us of our creativity and moments of spontaneity that are often the source of our greatest triumphs.

And although some may view failure as the end of the road, it’s far from being an absolute.

You’re meant to fail!

The key difference between those who allow their experiences to define them and those who view it as a challenge is attitude. You have a choice. What direction are your missteps going to take you? The only way is forward. “You fail your way to success.”

Letting Go of Everything You Ever Dreamed About…

When I was young, I was never the best at anything. I worked hard, and I always managed to reach the next milestone that was placed in front of me. But that’s about it.

However, I did have a talent for music that surfaced in my early teens. Again, I was never the best or most technical player. But I was creative, and I pursued it relentlessly. Like many others before and after me, I thought I was going to set the world on fire with a guitar in hand, wearing my heart of my sleeve.

It didn’t work out. Not even close…

My idea of success was all about me. It was an ego-centric vision. And through a combination of unfortunate injuries and just plain running out of career options in my mid-twenties, I admitted defeat. At the time, it crushed me… I’d invested more than ten years into learning multiple instruments, and to lean on the old cliché—it was my entire world.

But I had to make a change.

It was the first time in my life I’d ever had to step away from something and say, “Okay, this isn’t working. What else is there for me?”

Looking back now, in many ways, it was a very grounding experience. I was perhaps guilty of being a little too cocksure and overly ambitious. I can see how it was necessary, that it was a failure which came as an intervention of sorts, allowing me to steer my life in a new direction – one that would ultimately hold far more meaning…

At twenty-six, I decided to reskill myself. So I went back into full-time education to study creative writing. I’m a self-confessed right-brainer. And if one creative avenue was now closed to me, I was at least going to make sure I could still lead an interesting life.

“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” ~Denis Waitley

Now, instead of the egocentricity of being a musician, I wanted to be a fantasy novelist!

Different setting, same mindset.

But all that changed during my third and final year of university. As part of a work-based module, I had to create and deliver a writing-based project that would benefit the local community. At the time, homelessness was becoming an increasing issue, so I chose to offer poetry writing workshops at a local YMCA shelter.

And that’s where the switch flipped for me. It was a paradigm-shifting experience.

Up until that point, I had a fixed idea of what my success would—and should—look like. It was about me and myattainment. It had never really included what I could for others. But over the course of six weeks working with a disadvantaged social group that changed very quickly.

Poetry is a hard sell, even to a many writers. But here I was trying to get people engaged who were the furthest thing from an ideal audience. Many of those who attended suffered from mental health issues. They weren’t always thatinterested and sometimes didn’t show up at all

But they did respect me and gave the exercises their best effort. They didn’t always ‘get it.’ But they were willing, and I was grateful. Around half the attendees were illiterate/dyslexic, and as far as they were concerned, I was exposing their flaws. Except I wasn’t. I was trying to empower them. And slowly, this came off as the weeks progressed.

There were more than a few ‘aha moments’ in those workshops. But my biggest success was taking a young guy in his mid-twenties, who we’ll call Mike, from a place of zero confidence to complete elation at creating his own original piece, despite suffering from severe dyslexia.

I don’t have the superlatives to describe the moment other than to phrase it like this…

When Mike read his poem out loud, you could see him grasping something that wasn’t there before. You could see a change in his demeanor. He’d let go of his self-imposed limits. He ‘got it,’ and I got it, too. I could see the value of giving belief back to those who’d long-since written themselves out of the game.

It was a transformative experience for me and a real watershed moment.

I got a huge kick from having such an impact on someone’s well-being. I was completely enthused by a passion to help facilitate positive change.

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” ~John Bunyan

By that point, I was close to graduation, and let’s just say you don’t look for openings as a novelist in the classified columns. But here was something that I could do now. I could make a difference in people’s lives, whether through writing or some other means. I resolved that I would become a support worker and be of service in whatever way I could.

My vision of success was no longer about me. It was no longer about financial gain, status, or any other material trappings. The ‘thing’ I now sought was more intangible but was so much more valuable from a spiritual perspective.

From this vantage point, not making it as a musician didn’t feel like such wasted potential, anymore. That chapter of my life now appeared more akin to a stepping stone. I’d simply been redirected by synchronicity. It was confirmation and affirmation that as one door closes, another one is always opening.

No longer did I fear failure, because here was a path that could only have been taken if there was room freed up in my life to do so. Sometimes, you need to let go in order to move on. And here was a prime example of that.

Discovering What Could Not Have Been Found Otherwise

After I graduated, I volunteered at a breakfast club for the homeless on weekends. I then used that experience to gain a full-time position supporting young adults with autism, profound learning disabilities, and challenging behaviors at the beginning of 2016.

It was an incredibly enriching experience. And here, the theme of failure presented itself once more. I was employed to support people who lacked the capacity to effectively manage their own lives. But more importantly, I was there to promote their independence.

The mandate I had was to try, try, and try again with those in my care. It was my job to improve their quality of life and assist these people in the basic tasks we take for granted, such as brushing our teeth, getting dressed, and other ‘mundane’ activities.

There was no such concept as failure in that environment. It was completely redundant. How can you call someone a failure who’s willing to apply themselves day after day? You daren’t. Although that’s not to say there weren’t challenges.

In fact, it took months of hard work and positive reinforcement to make the breakthroughs we did. But once a skill was mastered, it stuck—and it’s moments like that drove you on to achieve more.

“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” ~Jim Rohn

It was during this time that I again started to consider the merits of so-called “failure.”

I wondered, “Is the most effective way to learn really to get things right first time?” Obviously, within a care setting, you want to make progress as quickly as possible. But what about when you’re trying to gain mastery over a more complex skill?

Let me phrase it another way…

Who would you rather have as your teacher, the prodigious talent who’s been a natural since birth and was born to do [insert skill], or would rather have the other person?

The one who’s had to fight tooth and nail for every inch of their ability? The one who’s made every mistake possible and can pass on nuanced insights about what not to do?

I know who my choice would be.

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” ~Napoleon Hill

Failure, for all its negative connotations, has a definite and unquantifiable value. It’s a catalyst for growth. The more mistakes you make, the more complete your understanding becomes of a given craft. But not only that, it encourages you to self-reflect and self-analyze.

It creates a sense of accountability, forcing you to ask deep and challenging questions of yourself.

When you’re stuck at a hurdle, it can be deflating. But the ability to problem-solve and think your way out of dead-ends is a true life skill you can’t put a price on.

Think about how many times you’ve experienced the same frustrating setback time and again. But then one day, you crack the code. How did it feel when you eventually made that breakthrough? It was undoubtedly a feeling like no other, right?

And that’s because you know what you’ve achieved has been earned.

It has an integrative effect, and it holds far more in the way of value than simply being given the right way to do something. From adversity comes the ability to learn and create experiences that can then be called on as wisdom in later life.

The path of the most successful people in recent history speaks loud and clear about what failure truly means…

Stephen King had his manuscript for Carrie rejected by thirty different publishers before it was accepted, Walt Disney was fired by the Kansas Post for a “lack of imagination,” and Thomas Edison famously took 10,000 attempts to create the first lightbulb.

All of their successes were rooted in what must have appeared to be unending failure to the casual onlooker. But in their minds, they were always “failing forward.” They’d simply explored an avenue that didn’t yield a positive outcome. They reset and got back to work.

Your failures represent the greatest opportunity for learning and growth that you have at your disposal. Don’t take them to heart. Take them to the bank. Remember them. Analyze them. Etch them into your mind and vow never to make the same mistake again.

It’s a foolish person who laughs at those who’re willing apply themselves to a task in which they’re clearly out of depth. We should celebrate this kind of effort, not mock people for trying. We all have to start somewhere. Progress was never made without facing at least some form of hardship or setback.

That’s what I’ve come to learn through my own life, working with the homeless and those with profound learning disabilities. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall down; it’s about how you pick yourself back up.

It’s about how you respond.

Failure is an option.

There is no shame in it. For me, it represents a learning curve rather than an absolute. Failure is a label that we give ourselves based on our expectations. Again, these too, can also be changed. Your success is relative to where you’re standing right now.

You have a choice as to whether you drag the past around like a ball and chain, or whether you take ownership and start working with yourself instead of reinforcing your limitations.

Your failures aren’t the thing that’s holding you back… It’s you.

Life’s Tragedy

Life’s Tragedy

It may be misery not to sing at all,
And to go silent through the brimming day;
It may be misery never to be loved,
But deeper griefs than these beset the way.

To sing the perfect song,
And by a half-tone lost the key,
There the potent sorrow, there the grief,
The pale, sad staring of Life’s Tragedy.

To have come near to the perfect love,
Not the hot passion of untempered youth,
But that which lies aside its vanity,
And gives, for thy trusting worship, truth.

This, this indeed is to be accursed,
For if we mortals love, or if we sing,
We count our joys not by what we have,
But by what kept us from that perfect thing.

The Value of a Good Reputation – and How to Build One

By Mihran Kalaydjian, CHA

Consultant, Strategist, and Writer

“The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” – Socrates

All of us have friends and family with different reputations.

Some of our friends and family are rock-solid people that you know you can rely on when you need them. All you have to do is give them a call and they’ll be there. If there’s a project to be completed, they’ll help out. You turn to these people when the chips are down and on the rare occasion when they ask for help, you’re quite willing to help them.

Some of our friends and family, though, are far less reliable. They might be fun to hang out with, but when anything with responsibility comes up, you know not to include them. When the chips are down, you know these people are unlikely to come through.

Now, let’s say you have an investment opportunity sitting before you, or you’re looking for someone to join your company. You have a reliable friend and an unreliable friend who both have what you need.

Who are you going to call? Who’s going to get the reward?

This might seem a bit dramatic, but the core of this idea happens over and over and over again in life. When something important comes up, the opportunities tend to go to the people with good reputations before they go to the people with questionable reputations.

The person with the good reputation is the person you’re going to invite to social gatherings. The person with the bad reputation might get invited to a cookout, but there will be a lot of invites that they miss.

The person with the good reputation is going to get introduced to lots of people with a positive referral. The person with the bad reputation won’t get those positive introductions.

The person with the good reputation might have someone speak up on their behalf during a hiring process. The person with the bad reputation might have someone speak up against them during a hiring process. (The person with no reputation won’t have anyone speak up for them at all.)

A good reputation is valuable. It’s something you’re going to want on your side.

Building a Good Reputation
Many people, as they enter adulthood, do not have much of a reputation at all. Sure, some people have already done exceptional things and have a bit of a positive reputation, and others may have done some silly things during their teen years and developed a bit of a negative one, but both of those can be wiped clean by moving to a new area. There is always a chance to improve your reputation.

So, how do you do that? I’ve found that there are five key things anyone can do to move their reputation in a positive direction.

Emulate those you know that have earned your respect
Think of the handful of people in your life that you respect the most. What do you respect about them? What do they consistently do that make you think of them in such a positive light?

Cut out the negative talk
Don’t talk negatively about anyone in any situation unless you’re facing them alone one-on-one or you’re in a group environment where they’ve requested criticism. If you can’t think of good things to say about someone, don’t say anything at all.

This can be very hard for some people to do, but it’s a key part of building a good reputation. People who are constantly negative rarely have a positive reputation.

Avoid behaviors considered negative in the culture you want a good reputation in
You might personally find no problem with a certain behavior or even find it to be a positive, but if you’re looking for a good reputation in a certain group, you should avoid those behaviors.

It’s really hard to give a list of what such behaviors might be because it depends heavily on who you’re trying to build a positive reputation with. In general, if you’re uncertain, ask yourself what the leaders of this group would think of the behavior you’re questioning.

A few negative behaviors are fine if they’re counterbalanced with the other items on this list, but piling them up will create a negative reputation that you won’t be able to overcome.

Take on responsibilities, but be sure you can follow through on them
Some people fail to build a reputation because they never take on any responsibility. Others build a bad reputation because they offer to take on big responsibilities and can’t follow through. There’s a happy middle ground there and that’s what you should shoot for.

When people need things and you’re sure you can help them with what they need, volunteer to handle it and then follow through. The follow through is the key part of building a positive reputation.

An occasional failure is acceptable and expected, but it should usually come on top of a large pile of successes. Also, it’s often worthwhile to silently take on responsibilities that need to be handled. You don’t need to shout what you’re doing from the rooftops – in fact, that’s often detrimental.

Be involved – increase your points of social contact
This involves both being social and participating in community events. They’re both vital in building a good reputation.

For starters, it’s hard to build a good reputation if no one knows who you are. You have to speak up. Introduce yourself to people you don’t know. Learn how to converse with people you don’t know and practice it as much as you can.

The best way to do this is to participate in community activities where you’ll have the chance to meet a lot of people. I’ve met dozens of people simply by coaching youth soccer, as I’ll interact with parents and grandparents of all of the kids on my team. I see them again and again at community events, like the annual community celebrations that happen in the towns in our area, and when I see them, I greet them and ask how their kid is doing.

It doesn’t take much effort on my part, but there are a lot of people out there in the community who have a more positive view of me because of it. Repeat that over and over again and it just builds on itself.

That’s really all there is to building a good reputation. Figure out who you want to have a good reputation with, emulate the leaders of that community, trim out the negative talk, be social, take on responsibilities that you know you can follow through on, and follow through on them. It’s a pretty simple recipe and it’s one that, over time, will start earning you dividends in many different aspects of life.

Those are the things that you should be striving for. Act like them. Imitate them. If you’re not sure what to do in a situation, ask yourself what you think that person would do. Don’t hesitate to ask them for advice on difficult challenges you face.