Climb your mountain

Whatever you wish to do, do it well. Perseverance is the only way to see it through to the end.

A few years ago, I scaled Mount Washington, the highest peak east of the Mississippi.

The last section of the hike was spent trying to find some kind of path over a huge pile of rocks that seemed to have been dumped on top of the mountain from the heavens. We would look ahead and see about 50 yards up before the rocks faded completely into the clouds.

After climbing 50 yards up, we would look up and again see about 50 yards ahead before the rocks faded into the clouds. This continued for 2 hours, but it began to seem endless, like we were trapped in the twilight zone.

And the drizzle didn’t stop all the while. [Read more…]

What do we own?

Things or experiences? Both are nice to have, but which do you value most?

Nothing is truly yours, except your own experiences.

Out here in farm country, I see a lot of signs that read, “This land is our land; hands off government”.

Of course, I know what they mean, but the fact is that nobody owns the land.  “Ownership” is a fairy tale we tell ourselves so that humans don’t harm each other for use of things.  So “ownership” is a good thing. [Read more…]

The definition of happiness

There are so many ways to define happiness. Here are some definitions of happiness to inspire you.

Finding happiness is like finding yourself. You don’t find happiness, you make happiness.

You choose happiness.

Self-actualization is a process of discovering who you are, who you want to be and paving the way to happiness by doing what brings YOU the most meaning and contentment to your life over the long run.

This definition of happiness by David Leonhardt, The Happy Guy [Read more…]

Definition of self-actualization

We have come a long way from caveman days. Being civilized means, among other things, having to pronounce words like “self-actualization”. Let’s look at what this word means…

You might have heard of the term “self-actualization”.  This is most often associated with the man who coined the term – Dr. Abraham Maslow.  He postulated that once our physical needs had been fulfilled, our next priority would be self-actualization.

In cave-man days, when it was a struggle just to kill enough mammoths for the BBQ and gather enough berries for the strawberry social, people did not worry too much about psychology and emotions and such.  They had more basic needs.  But now, when even most of the poor in our society has subsistence, self-actualization is a big deal.

Maslow's hierarchy of needsHere is how Dr. Maslow defines “self-actualization”.

“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be. This is the need we may call self-actualization … It refers to man’s desire for fulfillment, namely to the tendency for him to become actually in what he is potentially: to become everything that one is capable of becoming …”

So in cave-man days, survival itself could be called self-actualization.  But Dr. Maslow was not the one to invent the concept of self-actualization.

The Biblical Definition of self-actualization

Here is the definition of “self-actualization” in the Bible, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 .

For everything there is a season,
And a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate,
A time for war, and a time for peace.

What we can do, we must do to be all we can be.  Each thing in its time.  As we move into a period of history where more people in the world have the chance to pursue non-necessary interests, we might very well call this the century of self-actualization.

How to Boost Your Self-esteem Quickly

Self-esteem comes naturally to some, but seems so elusive to others. If you need to boost your self esteem, here are a few tips to help you.

If you’re tired of feeling bad about yourself, or just want some tips for those down days, these 7 practical strategies will help you take action to boost your self-esteem.

Tip #1: Think back to when you did something new for the first time.

Learning something new is often accompanied by feelings of nervousness, lack of self-belief and high stress levels, all of which are necessary parts of the learning process. The next time you feel under-confident, remembering this will remind you that it’s perfectly normal – you’re just learning!

Tip #2: Do something you have been putting off.

Like writing or calling a friend, cleaning the house, tidying the garden, fixing the car, organizing the bills, making a tasty and healthy meal – anything that involved you making a decision, then following through! A great way to boost self-esteem is to accomplish something new.

Tip #3: Do something you are good at.

Examples? How about swimming, running, dancing, cooking, gardening, climbing, painting, writing… If possible, it should be something that holds your attention and requires enough focus to get you into that state of `flow’ where you forget about everything else. You will feel more competent, accomplished and capable afterwards, great antidotes to low self-esteem!

And while you’re at it, seriously consider doing something like this at least once a week. People who experience ‘flow’ regularly seem to be happier and healthier.

Read also: Take this self-esteem test.

Tip #4: Stop thinking about yourself!

I know this sounds strange, but low self-esteem is often accompanied by too much focus on the self. Doing something that absorbs you and holds your attention can quickly make you feel better.

Tip #5: Get seriously relaxed.

If you are feeling low, anxious or lacking in confidence, the first thing to do is to stop thinking and relax properly. Some people do this by exercising, others by involving themselves in something that occupies their mind. However, being able to relax yourself when you want is a fantastic life skill and so practicing self-hypnosis, meditation, or a physically based relaxation technique such as Tai Chi can be incredibly useful.

When you are properly relaxed, your brain is less emotional and your memory for good events works better. A great ‘rescue remedy’!

Tip #6: Remember all the things you have achieved.

This can be difficult at first, but after a while, you’ll develop a handy mental list of self-esteem boosting memories. And if you’re thinking “But I’ve never achieved anything”, I’m not talking about climbing Everest here.

Things like passing your driving test (despite being nervous), passing exams (despite doubting that you would), playing team sport, getting fit (even if you let it slip later), saving money for something, trying to help someone (even if it didn’t work) and so on. Nothing boosts self-esteem like thinking about one’s success.

Tip #7: Remember that you could be wrong!

If you are feeling bad about yourself, remember that you way you feel affects your thoughts, memory and behavior. So when you feel bad, you will only remember the bad times, and will tend to be pessimistic about yourself. This is where the tip `Get Seriously Relaxed’ comes in!

Once you have tried out a few of these, consider making them a permanent part of your life. For most people, good self-esteem is not just a happy accident, it’s a result of the way they think and the things they do from day to day. Good Luck!

Self-esteem cartoon humor

How to beat the dreaded winter blues even while buried under a ton of snow.

Yes, people get down in winter sometimes. But there are ways to beat the winter blues. Here are 11 of them.

Free #snowman to beat the #winter blues

The surprised folks in Cairo and Jerusalem who woke up to a coating of snow on the ground might have thought it was a joyful sight. But for those of us used to four months of snow – and this year it will obviously be five months, since it started in mid-November – “joyful” is not the word that usually comes to mind.

By mid-January, many people have had enough. There is even a term for the kind of funk people sink into: Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D. for short). Most people call it simply the mid-winter blues, but the fact is that the only color you see is white. Well, brown if you live in the city, but technically it’s still snow, so let’s go with white, OK?

11 tips to beat the mid-winter blues

Here are 11 tips to beat the mid-winter blues.

Get some sun. One of the things that gets us down is the lack of sun. The sun is less intense in winter time, and it is around for fewer hours per day. The worst is that the hours the sun is up are the hours that most people are indoors, at work. The sun gives us heat (warmth), light and precious vitamin D. Without sun, no wonder we get depressed.

Head south. If you can’t get sun in the north, like around here, head south. If you live in the south, stop – don’t move! OK, now everybody else, go south. If the sun heads south on vacation, why shouldn’t you?

Resort posters. If going south is too costly, do it the frugal way – plaster your walls with travel posters. Greece. The Caribbean. Costa Del Sol.

Hot paint. Even better, paint your walls in reds, oranges and yellows. You will feel warmer. And if you close your curtains, you might even fool yourself into thinking that you are not buried in snow.


Fire! Nothing is hotter than fire. In fact, that’s what the sun is made of – fire. So get the fireplace going and warm your toes. Don’t have a fireplace? Light some candles.

More light. Probably what we miss the most about summer is the light. We drive to work in the dark and we come home in the dark. It helps to have extra light at home. Pick a room you spend a lot of time in, and get some extra lamps. Bright, white fluorescent lights work best. Overlight that one room while you are in it.

Cod liver oil. Oops. Did I accidentally drop this item into the wrong blog post? No, cod liver oil is full of vitamin D, which we miss due to the lack of sun. Vitamin D has been linked to fending off the common cold, so it also helps us feel better by protecting us from feeling “under the weather”.

Sing summer songs.  Line up those Beach Boys tunes.  Get out your ukulele.  Summer music gets you in the mood.  Here is a great summer song video to get you started:


Challenge yourself. It is hard to feel sad while focused on trying something just a little beyond your abilities. Learn a new language. Learn a new sport (physical activity!). Learn to program computers. Try something you have never done before.

Get out! Leave. Right now. No, wait. First finish reading this blog post and share it on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. Then get out. One of the things that depresses people about winter is feeling cooped up. Getting out, especially to do something physical like bowling or walking on coals (for warmth), is just the ticket.

Socialize. When you get out, make it a point to do something with friends or family. Nothing helps lift a person’s mood like friendly social contact.  You could make walking on coals a social outing, for instance.

Exercise. Being cooped up means we tend to spend more time seated or slumped and less time moving. The antidote could be a gym membership or the decision to go walking every day, even if it is cold outside. Walkng on coals would be even warmer, with the added benefit that it might induce a lot of hopping and running, as well.

Even fitness equipment at home is good, but better if you do things that take you out of the house.

As for the snow, you could always hire somebody to shovel it for you…but that would take away some precious exercise.

Dreaming of sunshine in the winter.

How to keep your New Year’s Resolutions – the ultimate guide

New Year’s resolutions – so easy to make, so difficult to keep.  Here are some powerful methods of making those New Year’s resolutions finally stick this year.

So you’ve made some New Years resolutions, and this year you plan to actually keep them past January 10. But what’s so different this year from all the other years?  There will still be temptations.  There will still be days when you lack the time.  There will still be lapses of will power.

What will make this the year that you actually keep your New Year’s Resolution?

Here are a few clever strategies that you can use – starting right now – to give yourself an unfair advantage.

New Year's Resolutions - teamwork will help you keep them.Make a plan.

For almost any major change, you need a plan.  Sure, it’s easy to say, “I’ll just change.”  But then life gets in the way, and without a plan to follow, the resolution quickly slips to the bottom of your priorities.  The plan should answer these questions…

What steps will I take? You could just go cold turkey and throw out all your cigarettes or alcohol or sweets or whatever else might be your bane. But most people prefer to go gradual and need steps to keep from slipping backward.

Am I willing to make the effort?  Effort means work.  Effort does not mean “trying”.  Effort means doing more than just trying.  Effort means making it happen.  No change is easy.  No change is comfortable.  Are you really ready to make that effort over a long period of time?

When will I do this? If the change is adding something positive, such as time with family or getting fit, you need to block off the time.  Otherwise, you’ll get to the end of the day, week or month and find that it just did not get done.

How will I be reminded? One of the biggest challenges with keeping New Year’s resolutions is staying in focus.  You need to decide the best way to keep this priority in front of your face. One option is with goal-tracking software (click on the image at the end of this post for a simple goal-tracking software you can start using today.)

What to do if I fail? There’s no shame in falling down. Shame is not getting backup again.  Every day is a fresh start, but you need a plant to reboot. What’s you get-back-up-again plan?

Shout it out.

The more people you tell and the more often you tell them, the more likely you are to follow through.  Why is this?  For two reasons.  First, the more people who know and the more recently they are reminded, the bigger your support team will be.  Your friends will be there in greater numbers and more frequently cheering you on.  But also, you will be more invested.  You will work harder to follow through on your resolutions so as to save face.

Tell friends, family members.  That is a good start.  Those are the people most likely to help you, too.

Tell work colleagues.  Once they know, you will feel much more compelled to follow through.  Losing face at work is a much bigger deal than losing face in front of close friends.

Tell social media.  Post your resolution to Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.  Once everybody knows, you have more invested.  If you give regular updates, you will find some of your contacts to be very encouraging.

Start a blog. This is the power solution if you have a really BIG change you want to make. Now you not only are telling the world, but you are reporting to the world.  Many personal growth blogs have been started by someone chronicling their own self-improvement journeys.  Many personal finance blogs were born as part of someone’s determination to climb out of debt.

According to Enemy of Debt:

I founded EOD in April of 2008 in an effort to motivate and inspire financial discipline by focusing on behavior and truth…. My journey to debt freedom and financial independence began in January of 2008.

According to Debt Ninja:

“Maintaining a website about my financial priorities, habits, and opinions will benefit me 2, 5, and 10 years down the road as I will be reminded where I started and how far I’ve come.”

According to Girl Meets Debt:

“I also use to love shopping which is why I am writing this blog; to hopefully warn others not to make the same financial mistakes I foolishly did all through my 20s. Writing this blog will also keep me accountable and inspired to make smarter financial decisions as I enter my 30s.”

According to Yes, I Am Cheap:

I started this blog with well over $100,000 in debt after a failed business and some massive student loans.  This is my journey of getting out of it without filing bankruptcy.

According to Blond on a Budget:

“After years of swiping for anything I dreamed of owning or doing, my bad spending habits had finally caught up with me and I was left with more than $28,000 of debt to pay off. To try and stay accountable throughout my debt repayment journey, I decided to start this blog.”

According to Debt Roundup:

I created this website because I took an all too familiar journey to get out of debt.

Enlist help

Just telling people is not always enough.  Enlisting their help is often a big advantage.  Help can come in many ways.

Ask for reminders. Before you ask for a reminder, think about exactly how you want it phrased.  Often well-meaning efforts can have the exact opposite effect. “Remind me to eat less,” can end up feeling more like a nagging stress than a helpful weight loss reminder. However, “Remember you asked me to remind you not to take second helpings?” is much more helpful.  How can you be upset at someone for something they remind you that you specifically asked them to do?

Ask to remove temptations.  Asking housemates to keep sweets out of the house (or locked away in their own drawers, rather than sitting out on the counter) can help you stick to a diet.

Ask for actual help. To get fit, you might want a training spotter.  On diet, you might want someone to change the ingredients they cook with. To quit smoking, you might ask a smoker friend not to smoke in front of you.  On spending more time with family, you might ask family members to commit certain days or times to spend with you.

Offer help.

You could trade support.  I’ll support your efforts to quit smoking if you’ll support my efforts to get fit.  Often just the act of supporting someone else can make you stronger in your own efforts.  You feel more responsible and less susceptible to temptation.

Post a notice. You could post a notice at the office: “Got a New Year’s Resolution?  So do I.  Want to help support each other?”  And see who responds.

Post a very specific notice. “Want to get fit?  So do I.  Want to help support each other?”

Join a support group.  For such issues as weight loss, alcohol and drugs, fitness, smoking and such, there are support groups in most towns where the members help each other.

Pick just one.

There might be more than one thing you want to change.  Don’t try doing them all at once.  Pick one, focus on it like a Siberian tiger’s eyes zero in on an approaching rabbit, and make sure that the change is real and permanent before even thinking of making another change.

READ ALSO: The power of focusing your attention.

Remind yourself.

There are many ways you can remind yourself.  Here are just a few…

  • Sticky notes all over the house.
  • Goal-tracking software, like the one below.
  • Keep related magazines on the coffee table or in the bathroom.
  • Start a blog – that is a great way to keep yourself reminded.

Easy-to-use goal setting software…

Click here to get your copy.Easy-to-use goal-setting and goal-tracking software

Got any other reminder ideas to add? That’s what the “comments” section below is for.

So what do you say? Will this be the year that you finally keep your new Year’s resolutions?

Merry Christmas 2013

Wherever you are, however you celebrate – and even if you don’t! – a very merry Christmas to you.

Merry Christmas 2013

As a new year approaches, it’s as good a time as any to reflect on who you are and who you want to be.  On where you are in life right now, and where you want to be a year form now.  On what really matters in your life and on who really matters.

May all the love in the world be yours.


Time, energy and money – phases of life

Time, money and energy. You want it all, but you can’t have it all. At each stage of life, the balance changes. So enjoy what you have right now.

Remember when you were a kid, how you had all the time and all the energy in the world? Yes, the world was yours. You could do anything you want. Except that you didn’t have the money.

Well, as an adult, you finally have the money. And you still have the energy. But with the kids and the home and the business, there never seems to be any time to do anything.

No problem. When you retire, you will have all the time in the world. And you should have the money. But oops – where did that energy go?

READ ALSO: No, Really, You Are Never Too Old

You can’t have it all. If you did, you would be Superman. But it is amazing at what you can accomplish and what you can enjoy if you make use of what you do have.

I recall my childhood and how much fun I had. Without the money. Playing in the park and in the forest behind our house. Drawing maps. Reading books. Playing dodgeball. It was a blast.

As an adult, I am having just as much of a blast raising my girls and I really do enjoy most things about my business. I never seem to have much time, but that’s because I am spending – investing! – my time in my daughters and in my business. Sure, I would love to be off hiking and kayaking every weekend. But if I was, I would then wonder when I would ever find the time for the things I am doing now.

And I know that my batteries will start slowing down someday (like when I’m 150 years old, hopefully), but that doesn’t mean that I won’t enjoy doing things at a slower pace.

Each phase of life is special

Each phase of life has something missing. But each phase of life has some wonderful opportunities, too.

So enjoy them all. You really have every reason to celebrate…unless, of course, the venn diagram below describes your situation.

Time, Money, Energy

Past Expiry Cartoons (Johnny Ancich) / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0