Go easy on yourself, it will give you strength

Are you going easy on yourself? When you look in the mirror, what do you feel about the person staring back? Are you too ashamed to even look? Do you talk down to that person? Blame them or call them lazy for putting off that to-do list for the third week in a row? Do you turn your nose up at them and scowl at their appearance? Their seeming inability to get themselves together? Well this person may have a reason.

They may really be struggling. But they are still there, they have hopes of one day improving, even if it’s slowly and on their own time. So just be a bit more understanding – a bit kinder and a bit more loving. Stepping on the downtrodden will push them further into the ground. Lend your strength to the person you see in the mirror and hoist them up. Give yourself strength. You’re doing the best you can, and that’s all you can do.

Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. (Max Ehrmann)

Haven’t you taken enough of a beating?

Continue Reading

The Dying Meaning of Compassion

homeless man asking for penny or a smileImage by Joey Lawrence

In today’s world, everything is “fat free”. For some reason we still marry “until death do us part” though divorce rates say otherwise, and on the internet we see articles like ‘10 “Amazing” Dog Houses’ or ‘5 “Amazing” Facts About Chocolate’. Are dog houses really all that “amazing”? These words have one thing in common: they have all lost their meaning. Like “liberalist” and even “love”, their overuse and lack of appreciation takes away their specialty. So what about “compassion”?

Media and politicians love to shove this word down the public’s throat, typically after some national disaster.

“Show compassion, buy this shirt and some of your money will go through our agency and (maybe) go towards helping these people in need!” 

Of course this is not what they say, but this is essentially what it is.

“America, we need to have compassion for those affected by this disaster. Send money to this fund!”

When broken down to its Latin roots, “compassion” stands for “co-suffering”, but by today it simply means “to have a personal connection, empathy, and sympathy with those who suffer”. What many fail to realize is, although the government and charitable agencies help the needy, money alone does not reach the poverty of the soul. I believe we need to restore our original meaning of compassion and take a more personal approach to banishing issues like poverty.

While buying a ticket at my local theatre, the cashier asked if wanted to donate a dollar to a children’s fund. I always give to these requests when possible, but being charitable in this way sparks no true compassion – no personal connection. My donation is out of sight and out of mind once I hand it over. I don’t even get to witness the fruits of my generosity. So I forget all about it, and my good deed is given nothing more than it’s own line on my receipt. Is that compassion?

Of course, money is essential in fixing society’s issues, but giving this way seems to have one of two effects on most people. You can give your dollar and go on your way feeling like you’ve done your part, or you give your dollar and never think of it again because you see and feel no benefit – no bliss in helping others. Unfortunately, in dealing with donors on a daily basis, I know all too well how “compassion fatigued” people get when realizing their money has seemingly been thrown into a void.

Monetary donations are good for immediate and temporary fixes, but it’s going to take the crucial role of compassionate individuals to banish these problems for good. Money is not personal, and when we individuals make no personal connection to those suffering with issues like poverty, the real solutions to these tribulations lay stagnant.

So let’s revive the meaning of “compassion”, let’s deal intimately with poverty. If we all realize that those who are impoverished are just as human with just as deep of feelings; if we learn what we all have in common, we can start teaching the world how to react to the visible poor: not by turning a blind eye, but by reaching into the soul of poverty.

I suggest reading this excellent article on cultivating compassion at ZenHabits. Personally my favorite practice is the “commonalities practice” (#3 in the article). In this, Leo Babauta states:

“At the root of it all, we are all human beings. We need food, and shelter, and love. We crave attention, and recognition, and affection, and above all, happiness. Reflect on these commonalities you have with every other human being, and ignore the differences.”

What do you think, readers?


Update…

Sorry folks for the slight delay of today’s post. I went to a cookout the actual day this post was to be done, and must have gotten food posioning because my stomach was acting in revenge for quite some time. I ended up doing a lot of reading on this particular topic of “compassion”, and wound up ordering a book titled, The Tragedy of American Compassion by Marvin Olasky, which seems to touch upon (in depth, of course) the dying meaning of this word. So I may have more to say on this issue once I get this book in my hands, but for now, have a great day and thanks for reading.

Continue Reading

Quotes that have stuck with me

I am guilty of loving and saving inspiring quotes, but never living by them – there are so many out there! But what about those lines that find a way to latch on to you the minute you hear it? The ones that stick with you for years and years?

These sort of lines that stick with us always make life just a little bit easier to handle. Here are the words that have stuck with me, that I apply to many aspects of my life, and those things that I absolutely want to pass to my children when the time comes.

“Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

(Dr. Seuss)

Sure this is a Dr. Seuss quote, but what made it special to me was that a cashier at a store told me this little nugget of truth when I was young. I was with my dad at the register, and I wanted to buy a teddy bear for my boyfriend, but dad was teasing me about it saying it was unnecessary. Then, after checking us out, the cashier said this to me and winked. It really stuck with me ever since.

———–

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

(Maya Angelou)

I’m not sure how I came about this quote, but it’s been written in my diary several times. It helped me to realize that, with a simple change of perspective, you can change your mindset. The mind is a powerful thing. We make our own happiness!

———–

“Reject common sense to make the impossible possible!”

(Gurren Lagann)

Gurren Lagann is an animated show filled with virility. Although it’s centered around battling and mechas, the characters live to “shoot for the stars”. It’s an idealistic and aggressive show filled with daring chutzpah to be the absolute best you can be.

———–

“It goes on.”

(Robert Frost)

Robert Frost says, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life…” I found this in my book of Robert Frost’s poetry and I have it highlighted, circled and bookmarked. And it’s true, out of all that I’ve been through, one thing has stayed true: my life has gone on.

———–

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdFglEm_QuU]

“This too shall pass.”

(Old proverb)

I first heard this line in a beautiful Regina Spektor song called “I Want to Sing”. Regina’s gotten me through a fairly large hurdle in my life, and I recommend her bubbly, jazzy music to anyone who wants a pick-me-up.

———–

“Indulge your imagination in every possible flight.”

(Jane Austen)

While browsing for literary jewelry (yes, I’m a huge nerd), I found a necklace charm with this Jane Austen quote. I love the image of “indulging your imagination” as if it has a body and soul of its own, which sometimes I believe it does! Creativity, adventurousness, and so much more seep from imagination. It is the faculty through which we encounter everything, and what a wonderful thing it is.

———–

“Fake it ’til you make it.”

(Tyra Banks and many others)

Tyra Banks’ America’s Next Top Model is a huge guilty pleasure of mine. It’s laced with tiny delicacies of confidence, beauty, and living your dream. In one episode, Tyra was speaking to a broken-hearted girl, on the edge of giving up her dreams because her lack of confidence. Exhausting all other options of motivating this girl, Tyra tells her to buck up and says, “Oh yeah? Well if you don’t have confidence, just pretend you do. You can fake it ’til you make it!”

———–

“Gain momentum in constant self-improvement.”

This was said by yours truly! It’s my own motto, and I live it day to day. We were all given the ability to improve ourselves, and there are limitless small and large ways to do so. So why not do it constantly? I understand the idea of simply being satisfied with who you are, but self-improvement doesn’t always have to mean changing yourself. There is always more for you to learn, more for you to experience and see, and all of this improves who you are. And once you start improving yourself, keep doing it until you gain momentum like a huge, growing, self-improving snowball!

———–

More personal ones…

  1. “Making something of yourself like I know you do?” – said to me by an old close friend
  2. “Always be an independent woman, and put your school first. No boys, no marriage, until school.” – my mom’s advice
  3. “Trust me – you don’t need rest to be beautiful.” – from my then boyfriend
  4. “I like your goals. They seem reasonable and I think you can do them all.” – another from the boyfriend
  5. “You walk like a model!” – one of my favorite compliments from a stranger

All of these lines are very special to me, and I hope that sharing them would stick to some of you as well. I tried not to flood it with too many quotes… just the ones that mean the most to me!

Side note…

Many of my readers have been asking for more content, so I’m going to post smaller, easier ones like today’s while I plan out my more meatier, heavier posts. I hope these can keep you occupied and make you think while I draft up the big ones I have planned.

I’ve got an opinionated post on compassion coming up tomorrow, another “Different Perspective” post, and one later that will look into the psychology of imagination.

So keep in touch, readers! And be sure to let me know what lines and meaningful words have stuck with you throughout your life!

Photo credit: ( 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 )
Continue Reading

Prod Your Productivity Into Shape – 3 Tools for Effective Writing

Today, we have so many things to distract us from writing, and technology is one of them. Fifty years ago, writers didn’t have the strong allure of the internet to go flocking to when they wanted to push back their writing time. But the internet has now grown to the point where it may even be beneficial to our writing! (But only thanks to lovely, genius software engineers.)

Ever read Fahrenheit 451? Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit’s author, was a pretty disciplined man. Why? Because he wrote this famed novel with haste, in 30 minute spurts on a typewriter he paid 10 cents to rent out for just a half hour. He moved in to the basement of UCLA, where he had found this typing station, with a bag of dimes – thrusting them in as the clock ticked madly – and, with this limited time, he furiously churned out the draft of this popular, classic novel. Time and money – what an amazing motivator!

I was introduced to this story and another interesting tidbit via Sarah Wilson’s blog. As it turns out, Bradbury’s writing process was the early “prototype” of a technique created in the 80’s called the Pomodoro Technique. Here is their official website.

This technique, named after those nifty little tomato shaped kitchen timers (“pomodoro” meaning “tomato” in Italian) is a time-management method and a method in self discipline.

What you do is simple:

 

  1. Set a timer to 25-30 minutes – If you don’t have a spiffy little tomato timer, you can use one of these online timers listed on the official Pomodoro website. (I like the simple focusbooster app where you can turn on the incessant ticking if that prods you into working!)

  2. Move those fingers and write, write, write – You’re Ray Bradbury and your time is money! Your typewriter is ticking away and you have to fit as much of your future bestselling novel, article, or manifesto into this 30 minutes as you can. Don’t check your messages, don’t get on WordPress, Facebook, anything. This is your appointed time to write. My advice? Do not edit.

  3. Break time! – Your 25-30 minutes are up. Give yourself a nice 5 minute break. (focusbooster times this for you too, which is lovely) Get some sun, limber up, grab a quick snack, surf the web, check your email. It’s your free time to do whatever and you’ve earned it.

  4. Get back in the groove, go another round – You were in queue to use the typewriter and it’s finally your turn to give it another go! Shove that dime in (turn your timer back on) and go another 25-30 minutes. Get the bulk of that article done now while you have the chance. Go, go, go!

Do this process just one more time. If you still have words seeping from your fingers and want to keep typing, you now have yourself an hour break! Catch some lunch, you writing speed demon, you’ve earned it.

If you’re done writing, that’s great! Save your draft and revel in the word-countage you cooked up in such a short amount of time.

(And you don’t have to use this just for writing. Try it out for any chore or task you need to accomplish!)

If this process is enough to get you into gear, give yourself a pat, but if you still find yourself having trouble, might I suggest a bit more… wicked writing tool as an addition?

I’m talking about Dr. Wicked’s Writing Lab. Have no self-discipline? This evil invention invites (or is it “threatens”?) you to write… or die! Well, it’s not that evil, but it does claim to “put the ‘prod’ in productivity”. It is an online application based on operant conditioning, in which you choose your “punishment” for not typing after a certain amount of time. Set your word goal, choose your consequence, your grace period (forgiving, strict, or evil), and hit “Write!”

Your consequences?

  • Gentle mode gives you a pleasant little reminder that you’ve stopped typing, and tells you to continue. (It’s for your own good!)
  • Normal mode works best when your speakers are on full volume. If you stop, after some time, it plays a terrible song. Sometimes I get “Peanut Butter Jelly Time”! It quite literally scares you into writing more, and prevents you from stopping so you’ll save yourself from the ear-wrenching wickedness. (Now I’m not sure what else it plays because I get scared into working very easily by normal mode, but if you’re really disobedient and think you need a better punishment, try…)
  • Kamikaze mode. It is exactly what it sounds like. If you stop writing, your words will literally delete themselves. Terrible! Don’t let it happen. And don’t go back to edit, folks. It’ll hurt you in the long run.

This is my absolute favorite online writing tool. It’s even more thrilling to try and write in a quiet library. There’s a desktop version you can purchse for $10 if you really like it.

I love to use the Pomodoro technique and pair the focusbooster app with Dr. Wicked’s writing lab! These are three excellent tools to place on the first shelf of your writer’s toolbox.


Some thoughts…

The first time I tried this medley of productivity, I did some stream writing, and ended up with about 5500 words. It poked and prodded to me keep going, and I wrote about topics from Kidz Bop, to my boyfriend, to dance music, to the topic of judgment, and more. I even came up with some new painting ideas and a few future plans for my blog.

The draft of this post is written with these three tools, and I have to say, this is quite literally the fastest I’ve ever written a post. Drafting without editing is key. After your thoughts are all down, the rest of the process just zooms by.

I’m hoping those who get bitten by the procrastination bug or those who just need a new way to go about writing can find some use from these three tools.

As for me, I will never write the normal way ever again! I can only cower in fear imagining Dr. Wicked’s maniacal laugh as he implements his upcoming “electric shock” mode on all those with stiff and unmoving fingers.

Hopefully he’s just kidding about that one!

photo credit: (1234)

Continue Reading

Kickstarting Your Day: For the Unmotivated Dreamers

It’s a bright day, the natural light reveals all the outside world, and the birds are chirping. The world is alive. But you don’t know it, and you don’t care. You slouch on your couch hunched over with the blinds shut so not even a fraction of light shines through to warm your numb, expressionless face.

You have no energy to do anything today, and the meaning of “productive” has long been filed away in the deepest, forgotten crypts of your mind. So you sink into your couch, and hide behind your pillows – a false comfort – rationalizing, “Well, I deserve at least one more lazy day,” but we both know you said this yesterday.

And you know how dogs feed off their master’s energy? Max is sprawled on the recliner as if his muscles turned to jelly, looking around the room with slow, slow puppy dog eyes sighing and wondering, “When is something going to happen around here?”

You haven’t written a single word for your novel in weeks maybe months, and you stopped your small bout of exercising just short of it being consistent. Sometimes, you don’t even feel like going into work. And sometimes you just don’t.

What are you thinking? What are you feeling? You certainly aren’t thinking, “Man, what an amazing day. I feel so alive!” or “I have energy and momentum today! I want to get things done.”

But isn’t that what we should all be thinking?

What I described is a seemingly down, unmotivated, and numb human being. Someone merely existing, and not living. This was me two weeks ago.

I never thought or felt anything truly positive during those times, and I probably didn’t genuinely feel anything at all. There were so many things that I wanted to do, but I lacked motivation. I had no energy, no will, and no inner foundation of thoughts that set the base and mood for my day. But two weeks ago, I started my vacation from work with a purpose. I thought, “Okay, here’s 336 absolutely free hours of my life, what am I going to do?”

Sitting around playing video games and marathoning “Lost” was my first thought, but then the idea of using the 336 hours to do something extremely unproductive, in the biggest sense of the word, was appalling to me. I was ashamed that I had even given that notion a thought.

So what I decided is that I would use these two weeks as a sort of jolting, “Revival Retreat”. I wanted to shake my life up, I wanted to be progressive, energetic, and motivated. (Did any of those words come to mind when you pictured someone slouched on the couch in the dark?)

Of course, I know not many of you have this much free time, I am very lucky to have such a generous and flexible schedule, but I want to share the few little exercises that gave me the perfect kickstart to each day:

Now it’s your turn.

Close your blinds, make it very dark in the room, and get on your couch, your computer chair, or bed (wherever you lounge around). Now slouch over and wipe the emotion off your face, maybe even frown. Your eyes are only half open as you stare numbingly at your computer screen or television. You browse Facebook for the fifth time today, and check your email for the sixth, and yet you’ve only been up for three hours.

Now a big, heavy, long sigh. Your energy is draining, and you may even yawn. What are you thinking? Can you honestly think, “It is the most gorgeous and magnificent day out today!” without feeling… weird?

While writing this, I did this exercise and the first thought that came to mind was, “Can I really finish this post in time?” It was negative right off the bat! I had to reassure myself that it was only an exercise.

Now, all of a sudden…

…you rocket yourself off the couch or chair, and make a beeline to the windows. Pull open the blinds all the way, and let the ALL the light shine in. Notice how you immediately feel better?

Your surroundings have an instant effect on your mood. (Especially light!) So now the light is shining on your face, and already you feel more energized.

Now lift up your head and straighten your back in the most perfect posture, your natural posture. Just think: You are an ancient god or goddess, and now you’re showing confidence to your people, assuring them that, yes, you can take care of things.

Channel your inner Nefertiti or your inner Julius Caesar!

Pretend that, in any moment, someone will make a bust of you to capture your confidence, brashness and boldness for years and years to come. Feeling any better? Good posture harbors more confidence. (And it doesn’t hurt to pretend you’re ancient royalty!) More about confidence and posture here.

Last, but not least, give a big, toothy, genuine smile. If it’s difficult to do, think of your favorite delicious dessert or your loved one unwrapping and freaking out over a thoughtful gift from you. Not only are you a confident ancient ruler, but now you are also charismatic, and people eat that up. Don’t worry about giving an inaugural wave or anything, because your smile alone is an instant pick-me-up. Biopsychology theorists call this “facial feedback“.

Practice switching between these two dramatically different scenes, and try focusing on the outlook of your inner thoughts as you do so. Are they pessimistic? Optimistic? Did you feel a difference?

Any time that I find myself having an uninspired, stagnant day, I try to give myself and my surroundings a little jolt. Even if you don’t feel happy, confident, and charismatic, taking in the light, smiling, and straightening up will at least give physical cues to your mind telling it to “Get up and get going!”

photo credit (1) (2) (3,4) (5) (6)

Continue Reading

Unleashing the Mind’s Potential with Stream of Consciousness Writing

Stream of consciousness writing is a technique circled around release. Sure our mind has the capacity to think about and carry all of our problems, feelings, and thoughts, but when there comes to be too many facts and stored information, our minds are clouded and we tend to lose our ability to quickly reason through our problems.

Who is it for? Those who…

  • are stressed on a day-to-day basis
  • seem to have one problem after the other
  • have too much on their mind and unsolved problems
  • are looking for inspiration or that creative spark
  • suffer from writer’s block or those who are looking for some new ideas
  • want to improve their memory, vocabulary, and reasoning

How to stream write

What you’ll need:

  • a computer or
  • pen and paper or
  • a typewriter
  • basically something to write with – preferably one you’re fastest with!

Here’s the key: don’t limit yourself at all. The only way your mind can uncover ideas, repressed thoughts, and thousands of other possibilities is if you just let your writing flow freely. Don’t worry about typos, leave them there unless it’s absolutely vital to the meaning of your writing.

Let go of any inhibitions and write. No matter how profound, no matter how sad, no matter how taboo, no matter how repressed and deep into your mind it is, no matter how shallow, seemingly pointless, unimportant, trivial, no matter anything.

Write Write WRITE. CAPITALIZE. don’t capitalize. who cares about punctuation. Show your thoughts.

Give yourself about an hour. After writing for a bit, you’ll feel refreshed and unburdened. As if the accumulated thoughts you’ve been sweeping aside for months have been lifted from your shoulders and tucked away into one place.

Now save your document or hide away your journal. If you want it to be private, save it as an email draft or rename it to something no one will suspect.

When you’re ready to write more, open up the same document and continue from where you left off. Just make sure it’s all in one place. It’s easier to go back to and reference. You’ll be surprised at the phases you go through and twists and turns you take to get to where you ended. Don’t be shocked when you realize that your stream writing is a vault of new ideas for projects and other things.

My Experience

I took my boyfriend’s advice and did a little writing of my own. Surprisingly, I found I went through a few phases.

I began by writing about what happened earlier in the day, typical journal stuff. Then it moved to a critique of a movie I had seen earlier and some thoughts on how society may have viewed that movie. (By now, I had already come up with a few ideas for future blog posts!) Then I wrote about stream of conscious writing itself, and how, after a while, my hands just flowed freely, my thoughts translated from my brain through my arm to the keys of my keyboard so fluently and uninterrupted.

Every thought somehow connected to the other like a puzzle. One thing lured my mind to the next, and soon I delved into deeper topics about my feelings towards a few friends who have caused me much repressed mental strain. I came to clear, crisp conclusions about how I should react when certain situations arise with these friends.

These are conclusions that, unfortunately, my boyfriend has been telling me about for months! For some reason, though, I had to come to these conclusions myself, and stream of conscious writing allowed me to do that with ease (and unknowingly until afterward!).

Try it out and tell me how it goes in the comments!

Continue Reading

30 Hacks to Save Your Precious Time

Readers, readers, readers! Balancing school, my job, and my blog is a easier now that I’m participating in the 31 Day Challenge to Build a Better Blog. If you have a blog, you should join in as well. Today’s task is to write a list post.

We all love to read websites with “hacks” for life. “Hacks” are shortcuts and easier ways to do things that improve the quality of how we live.

A chapter entitled “I’m on My Honeymoon, But If You Need Me…” in a book called The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch featured some favorite time hacks. During the time he wrote this book, Randy was battling terminal pancreatic cancer and was given a mere six months to live. In these few months, Randy learned that his time was valuable, and that he wanted to spend less time on menial tasks, and fill every single second with something of importance, even if he’s simply on hold during a phone call.

He imparted his wisdom to the world in this book, and here I’ll share some of Randy’s time hacks along with a few of my own that you can use to make the most of your life.

  • “Time must be managed like money.” As his first tidbit of wisdom, Randy stated simply that we must invest time into things that matter.
  • “The most useful to-do lists break tasks into small steps.” This seems like common sense, but not many of us do this! (Including me until today.) Just like writing a novel or cleaning up your house, small steps help you to be more organized and motivated to keep going. Taking on too much at a time can be draining and overwhelming.
  • “Ask yourself: Are you spending your time on the right things?” Here, Randy mentioned a clipping he had held onto from a newspaper in Virginia which depicts a pregnant woman who protested against a local construction site. She worried about the possible effect the loud jackhammers could have on her unborn child, but get this: she’s smoking a cigarette. Certainly, she could exert her time and worry toward greater issues.
  • “Rethink the telephone.” I thought this was the most interesting tip. Randy mentions that we live in a culture where we spend a lot of time on hold. It may seem like an insignificant problem, but the time you spend holding the phone up to your ears and waiting while listening to that nice elevator music adds up. (Especially if your job requires you to be on the phone a lot!) While on hold, Randy suggests switching to speaker phone so your hands are free to do other things. Also, he mentions a few techniques to shorten unnecessary or less important calls like standing during a conversation, which will make you more apt to speed things along or keeping a project in plain sight as a reminder to what you must get back to after a call.

Though Randy has since passed, these tips remain immortalized as a reminder to us about what we can do to make the most of our time. Live as if we may vanish tomorrow, but make sure you fill it with quality and not quantity! Here are a few tips I’ve come across in my daily routine that have been the difference between hectic mornings and the beginning of a good day.

General

  1. PRIORITIZE! What is more important and hardest? Do it first.
  2. When planning your day, give yourself some free time in case something comes up.
  3. Combine activities when possible, but only if they’re easy! Cook your breakfast while keeping a copy of that book you have to read lying open on the counter. Don’t multi-task if you’re working on tougher projects, however, because it could produce mediocre work.
  4. Take breaks, relax, breathe, and de-stress.

Daily Routine

  1. When getting ready in the morning, do everything you must do in one room of the house then move on to the next. This will keep you from running back and forth through the halls.
  2. Lay out your outfit and accessories for tomorrow before you sleep.
  3. Do not get on the internet in the morning if you know yourself to get caught up surfing meaningless sites during your precious time.
  4. Start your day 15 to 30 minutes earlier. It may be hard first, but those fractions of an hour can be used to wake yourself up, eat a healthier breakfast at a steady pace, feed your kittens, and read some news before scurrying out of your house every morning.
  5. Prepare ingredients or cook large meals the night before you serve them.
  6. Try shopping online, but only on trusted sites. (Especially during the holidays!)
  7. Fold or hang your clothes immediately after they are done drying. This will keep your clothes from wrinkling and you’ll avoid needing to iron.
  8. If you have children or a partner, share chores with them. For children it is a lesson in responsibility. For your partner it’s only fair.
  9. Create laundry baskets or designated areas ahead of time for your reds, whites, delicates, and such. These can double as baskets of folded clothes for each member of the house to put up.
  10. It’s funny and silly, but remember those two tabs you can fold in on the side so your aluminum foil doesn’t fall out every time you grab a piece!
  11. Brush your teeth in the shower while you rinse off.
  12. Limit your shower time. Identify what you’ll do first, second, third, and so on. Leave your conditioner on while you scrub yourself down or brush your teeth!
  13. Pay your bills in one sitting.
  14. Try online banking and bill paying.

 

Work

  1. If someone at your job asks you for a favor and you’re swamped with other tasks, simply say “No, I can’t do that right now”. Your time is precious to you so protect it!
  2. OR if someone asks you for a favor, trade some time with them. If they ask you to shovel snow out of their driveway, you can ask them to maybe babysit one day or take your mail in while you’re on vacation.
  3. Get a planner and amass all dates and assignments into one, but keep it organized!
  4. Keep a simple ‘inbox’ and ‘outbox’ for projects and papers you must go through. Manage your paperwork in this simple way. I know having too many papers lying around can become a major distraction.
  5. Take clearer notes.
  6. When doing a writing project, don’t worry about perfectionism. Get your basic ideas and information down, and then go back and edit later.

Technology

  1. Learn more keyboard shortcuts! My boyfriend gets his research papers done hours before me because he memorized vital keyboard shortcuts for the programs he uses most often. It’s very useful, and I would recommend it to everyone.
  2. Record your favorite shows with TiVo or DVR and watch them in your spare time. Don’t rush home just to catch the newest season of Heroes.
  3. Limit your activities on the internet to a definitive amount. For example: check your email only three times a day, update your Facebook once or twice, comment five times on your daily blogs.
  4. Create filters and folders for your email.
  5. Keep all of your usernames and passwords stored on a sheet of paper somewhere discreet.
  6. Learn to Google efficiently and effectively.

Do you have more time shortcuts that have been useful to you in your routine? Please feel free to share them in the comments. Tips like these are valuable and stick with us for a lifetime!

Continue Reading

Two productivity tools for getting stuff done

I would like to share with you two very useful (and free!) productivity tools that help me to plan and write my posts:

Map your brainstorming session

Remember brainstorming in highschool? Have you ever had to create a “web” of ideas in order to write an essay in school? FreeMind is a mind mapping tool (of the many out there) used to organize your ideas for just about anything. Create one very broad topic and branch off into many subcategories. Dump all of your ideas and knowledge in a mindmap and organize it later! Very useful. Not only do I use it for my more in-depth posts, but I also used to use it for future plans, parties, and more.

Limit distractions

Another tool which is probably more useful than the mind map is the Dark Room. Do you get distracted by all the fancy buttons and features and rulers in Windows Word? Do you get distracted by the internet, check your email, or chat with friends when you have to write that blog post or college essay? The dark room is a very minimal program, both in size and in aesthetics. It is a distraction-free, full-screen writing environment helpful to those who need to get some writing done. Sit down, crack your fingers, open Dark Room and have a productive writing power hour with this amazing and simple program.

You should check these two out or at least similar programs. Tools like these can exponentially increase your productivity in any area of your life.

Continue Reading

Reviving Your Childhood and Satisfying Your Insatiable Curiosity

At a young age, my parents encouraged my brother and I to explore. I spent my childhood conducting my own experiments outside during summer days in Texas. Even today, at 18, I enjoy lifting up rocks to find a slew of different creatures. (Only now I look them up online if I want to identify them – which I usually do!) I still capture spiders in and around my house, identify them, observe their behaviors, and let them go outside, I pull out earthworms from the dirt and look at them with awe, and I fly paper airplanes and try to create the most efficient one. My brother and I even have fencing matches with the water noodles at the grocery store.

Don’t ever lose this. Now my childhood curiosity blossomed into a strong interest in everything and gave me a strong basis of knowledge. (Plus it was so fun!)

If you’ve never gone outside to play wall ball or TV tag with your siblings, or gotten your feet a little dirty… If you’ve never had water gun battles, or sold lemonade or made paper boats, do it now!

Many of us have forgotten how to do this without guilt or anxiety that, as adults, we must be doing something that is worthwhile. Don’t forget to take some time away from your responsibilities and satisfy your natural human curiosity, and you have kids, share this experience with them!

Some psychotherapists call your inner child the “true self”. Spending some time with this inner child can boost your self-esteem and help you solve deep-rooted problems. Remember: talk with your inner child as if you were its guardian, reassure it, and uncover any internal battles.

It’s never too late to have a happy childhood!

Continue Reading

Using Erikson’s Developmental Stage Theory to put your Life into Perspective

The nice thing about Psychology is that we can apply lessons learned to our daily lives, become more aware, and live to our fullest. Being self-aware and creating our own identity is an important, almost necessary concept we should practice every day.

Erikson’s  Developmental Stage theory, is nothing too fancy or complicated. It’s a simple view on eight stages we go through in our lives. According to Erikson, we grow from infancy to late adulthood, and in each stage we must master a new challenge. Once we master a challenge, we gain a certain set of skills. If we do not master a certain challenge, there could be possible psychological consequences. It is not a definitive list, but there are lessons we can learn from his eight stages!

Using this as a guide, identify what you’ve accomplished, what you need to work on, and what you should remember for your future stages.

Stage 1

Infancy (birth to 18 mos.)

  • The challenge: Trust vs. Mistrust
  • What it means: We must learn to trust parents’ care and affection or else develop the beginning of a deep distrust and view world as unsafe.
  • What to take from it: Don’t just take care of your children, let them feel comfortable and safe when you’re around. Let them know, even if they are still too young, that they can trust you.
  • Do you trust the world around you? Do you have hope?

Stage 2

Toddler (18 mos. to 3 yrs.)

  • The challenge: autonomy vs. shame and doubt
  • What it means: We learn to be competent by learning to feed ourselves, use the toilet, and play alone or else we will feel ashamed and doubt our abilities.
  • What to take from it: Encourage toddlers to be autonomous individuals who can begin to take care of themselves.
  • Do you have strong willpower?

Stage 3

Preschool (3 to 5 yrs.)

  • The challenge: initiative vs. guilt
  • What it means: We use our own initiative in planning or carrying out plans or if we cannot live within parents’ limitations, we develop a sense of guilt over misbehavior
  • What to take from it: A child should be encouraged to start projects for their own purpose. Having the ability to take initiative without feeling guilty will allow one to plan and judge accordingly giving one a sense of roles.
  • Have you found your purpose and role in life and are you satisfied with it?

Stage 4

School age (5-11 yrs.)

  • The challenge: industry vs. inferiority
  • What it means: We learn to meet the demands imposed by school or home or else we come to believe we are inferior to others
  • What to take from it: Our responsibilities are what we use to prove to others that we are capable and on equal grounds to others. If we take on no responsibilities, we may begin to feel inferior. Work hard at being productive and responsible.
  • Do you feel competent?

Stage 5

Adolescence (11-18 yrs.)

  • The challenge: identity vs. role confusion
  • What it means: In this stage, we acquire a sense of our own identity or else become confused about our role in life
  • What to take from it: Settle on an identity that you are comfortable with. Ask questions about yourself. Show through your actions, appearance, and achievements what you want your role to be in life.
  • Who exactly are you? Are you happy with it?

Stage 6

Young Adulthood (18-40 yrs.)

  • The challenge: intimacy vs. isolation
  • What it means: We develop a couple relationship and joint identity with a partner or else become isolated from meaningful relationships with others
  • What to take from it: Here, we still want to have an identity with the world around us. If you fear rejection, forming intimate relationships will be difficult.
  • Are you open to new, close relationships? Do you fear rejection and being vulnerable? Erikson argues that:

“Intimacy has a counterpart: Distantiation: the readiness to isolate and if necessary, to destroy those forces and people whose essence seems dangerous to our own, and whose territory seems to encroach on the extent of one’s intimate relations” (1950)

Stage 7

Middle adulthood (40-65 yrs.)

  • The challenge: generativity vs. stagnation
  • What it means: We make use of our remaining time developing a concern with helping others and guiding the next generation or else we become self-centered, un-accepting of not being to see the far future, and stagnant
  • What to take from it: Help growing and grown children to be responsible adults, relinquish central role in lives of grown children, accept children’s mates and friends, be proud of accomplishments of your self and your mate. In this stage, we may have much leisure time.
  • Will you use that time to benefit the next generation and yourself or become stagnant?

Stage 8

Late adulthood (60+)

  • The challenge: integrity vs. despair
  • What it means: We reap the benefits of our early stages and understand and sccept the meaning of a temprary life or else we despair over regrets, not having enough time, and not finding meaning in life
  • What to take from it: In this stage, we tend to evaluate whether we’ve reached our goals and whether we are satisfied. From here, we can choose to accept the kind of life we lived and are living now or we can mourn over the past, our loss of time, and our fate.
  • What kind of life have you lived? Did you do what you wanted? Do you have regrets? Would you have done things differently?

By looking at what is to come, we are able to ensure – through every stage – that we are happy with the life that we live. Take each stage into consideration when making choices in your life. Go down the road you feel you will be happy with in the end.

We have long, long lives to live so make sure you enrich it and give it its full potential. If you couldn’t face a certain crises before, it’s all right. We’ve been given the ability to question our lives and behaviors and the ability to change them whenever we can. Use it!

trust vs mistrust
Continue Reading