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Intentional Gratitude Will Change Your Life

Intentional Gratitude

Intentional Gratitude Will

Change Your Life

Look for Opportunities to be Thankful

Intentional gratitude is searching and acknowledging a positive person, life experience or kind gesture each day. Do you look for opportunities to be thankful? Or do you rush through life unaware, pressured and unhappy? The action of being grateful, expressing your thanks can be a powerful tool for living a meaningful life. Studies show that we deliberately pursue an appreciation for the goodness in our lives, the result is an increase in our well-being and happiness. That my friend – is called intentional gratitude.

Science Supports the Happiness Factor

Scientific studies demonstrate that fear and negativity increase cortisol. This “fight or flight” hormone narrows your perspective because you perceive danger in your life. Developing a positive mindset increases the mood neurotransmitters (serotonin and norepinephrine), in your body.

Instead of dwelling on the lack of “things or other people’s successes,” focus on the goodness of your life, and you physically retrain your brain to look for abundance! Be aware. Open your mind to the possibilities in front of you. A positive mindset also encourages people to “broaden and build” life skills. Begin to actively seek new opportunities and utilize your small successes to achieve a more abundant and meaningful life.

Intentional gratitude can set the tone for the rest of the day. Some people like to begin their day with meditation or by murmuring words of gratefulness. Your thoughts direct your efforts, and a positive mental attitude often results in more beneficial outcomes for people at work or home, as the day unfolds.

Setting Intentions

You may prefer to reflect the best moments of your day in the evening. Write down your thoughts. Being thankful for all the people in our daily life helps us to set intentions in the future. Learn to flip frustrations or challenges to create new opportunities for choosing what matters in the long run.

Maintain Your Positive Vibes

As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, many people focus on gift-giving, thankfulness, and an abundant life during this time. Try to keep that sense of choosing happiness and caring when the fine china is put up and the days grow long during the winter. Maintain an attitude of gratitude throughout the year, and you can relieve stress while generating a more optimistic view. Like a small pebble thrown into a pond, the ripples of goodwill you send out to others have a significant impact on many people, some of whom you may never meet!

Try it!

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Money-Savvy Travel Hacks

Money-Savvy Travel Hacks

Everyone deserves an escape from work now and then, and you don’t need to smash your piggy bank to have a good time. Refreshing visions of “getting away” are calling to you. Your vacation demands to be taken! Make the most of your R & R dollars using these money-savvy travel hacks to create an oasis of fun and relaxation. In fact, getting away is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health! Check out the healthy benefits of traveling via PositiveHealthWellness.

Plan Ahead

Be proactive and reap the benefits of your hard work without going into debt. Find discount codes for your favorite destination and pre-purchase museum tickets, boat rides or city-saver coupon books ahead of time. You will be amazed at how much money you can save!

Book fixed-cost trips

Explore and select trips that fit the exact dollar amount in your budget. No extra fees & no surprises. Another method for destination selection is to pick a theme. Base your trip on some of your favorite activities. Love wine? Tour a few vineyards or participate in a cooking class seminar. History buffs can find numerous forts and museums across the country while nature lovers have incredible opportunities to hike and bike, enjoying a personal experience in stunning landscapes.

Spectacular Vistas and Memories

Another fabulous way to see America is to take advantage of the breathtaking national and state parks here in the USA. Visit nps.gov to find a national park within driving distance. For even more road trip ideas, visit http://www.visittheusa.com.

Lower Hotel Costs

Travel with friends and family and rent a condo or house. One option is to find smaller independently owned hotels that are not part of a chain. You will often enjoy more personal service and spend less. Tired of high-rise condos with slow elevators and too many people? Investigate AirBNB or Vacation Homes By Owner for spacious digs at much lower prices and the opportunity to have more privacy.

Favorite Destinations

Find the “hot-spot” and stay in the nearest town for bigger savings. For example, you don’t mind driving an extra 20-30 minutes, when traveling to Niagara Falls, book a hotel room in Buffalo, New York – it’s only a 20-minute drive across the border. You can cut your hotel budget in half. Now you have the best of both worlds: you saved saved a ton of money while seeing all of the sights!

Taking an escape from work can be a great stress reliever, provide memorable time with family and friends, and bring a sense of renewal to your life. Reward yourself! Keeping your focus on a healthy relationship with your money while at work or play allows you to make the most of your vacation while taking advantage of smart,  money-savvy travel hacks.  Be sure to follow @themoneynerve on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more travel tips and tools.

Have a great vacation this summer — You deserve it!

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TALKING ABOUT MONEY WITH YOUR PARTNER

3x3-talking-about-moneyPeople would rather talk about sex than their money. It is more important to talk about money with your partner. Starting an open communication about what each partner makes, what the responsibilities are, and choosing how to manage your money, is a powerful tool for building a successful relationship.

Arguments revolving around finances are the Number 1 reason for many divorces and break-ups. If you are serious about your partner, you need to start talking about money with your partner. One easy way to start this discussion is to share about how your family handled finances. Did your Mom pay all the bills? Did your Dad always plan the family trips? Were you and your siblings paid allowance for doing household chores or was your allowance given without any obligations? Once you and your partner hear how your families handled money and find common ground, it is easier to understand why your partner makes different financial decisions than you might. Having this knowledge can also help couples to formulate a blended plan, ensuring each person has a voice setting budgets and spending.

When one person makes more money, it is easy for the other to feel less valuable. Both people need to know that they are contributing to future goals and can share their opinion. Resentment can build when there is a feeling of iniquity or that one’s opinion is not valued. Another habit that can “kill” a relationship is hiding “secret” savings accounts or debt. Each person needs to build a healthy relationship with money, so both of you can work together to be accountable for personal needs and spending money and joint dreams and goals!

Listening and talking about money with your partner can help you find creative ways to solve financial challenges. Now you can make proactive choices for directing your money toward large purchases and investing in your future…together!

Check out some of the tools on this website. Many of these tools are free and offer a roadmap for smarter fiscal management. Browse some of these links and talk with your partner about which tools might be best for you!

(Photo via business.financialpost.com)

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SPEND MONEY ON EXPERIENCES, not THINGS

3x3 Vacation TimeSpend Money on Experiences, not Things!

Sounds hedonistic, but spending money on experiences over things may bring you a higher level of genuine joy and longer-lasting satisfaction in life. We all have a limited amount of money to spend and want to allocate our resources for maximum results. Earning more money brings happiness – but only up to a certain point. People need a place to live, a car and food on the table, but before you buy that next new “thing,” take a moment to determine if you would be more satisfied spending money on an experience with family or friends over a new iPhone.

A new gadget or piece of technology often causes us to swell with pride in a brief moment of that “Wow” factor when showing off the new purchase. Physical products often lose their value as they become a mundane piece of your life and let’s face it – there is always something newer, better, or that has more options.

The concept of spending money on experiences over material purchases has been studied in-depth by Cornell psychology professor Thomas Gilovich. For over a decade, he has been trying to understand how and why experiential purchases are so much better than material products. Using the simple concept of conscious choice, you can create a life that is rich in its abundance by sharing experiences and connecting with the people you love.

In fact, if you have ever been at a party where you are meeting new people, it is easy to connect with someone when you realize that both of you ran the same marathon, hiked the same trail in a national park or vacationed in the same city. It doesn’t matter if they spent $10,000 and you spent $900. Both trips were equally as exciting! The shared experience bonds you as you both compare notes, relive your trip, and refresh the memories.

Summer is quickly passing, and if you have not taken the time to refresh yourself, there are still some great experiences waiting for you! Take a pass on a new car and use the one you have. Journey to a fabulous week with family or friends and make memories that will last a lifetime! Here is a great website to help you purchase an experience before the leaves begin to turn: http://www.lastminutetravel.com/PagePackageSearch.aspx

Remember to take time to stop and smell the roses!

Bob

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INVESTING IN VALUE = Long Term Success

3x3 Invest in Value

When you have something of value: family, friends, possessions – you want to take care of them, and maintain your investment. Many people are financial quick-fixers with a duct tape mentality, and contrary to popular belief, duct tape doesn’t fix everything. They may get immediate results, but are not actually dealing with the cause of their problem. This can result in complicated or frustrating long-term results.

If you are overdrawn in your bank account, you might think you are doing right by using your credit card to bring your account back into balance. That is robbing Peter to pay Paul. The reality is that you are creating more debt for yourself and adding interest payments to what you owe already.

I joke that I wish I could “un-know” what I know. It is a lot more work when you start to take responsibility for your life. Imagine going to a seminar and hearing that there are eight steps you have to take in order to become a millionaire. Many people in the seminar will stop at four steps and say, “I’ve finished four steps, why don’t I have 500,000 dollars?”

We live in a volatile world. Instead of being a financial quick-fixer, take a longer view into the future, make value-based choices and begin to create a healthy and abundant lifestyle over time.

  • Figure out where you are: Take a look at your spending habits and write down every purchase in a month. Will you be happy with that choice in five years?
  • Identify your priorities: How can you reallocate funds to support your priorities and provide additional value in your life? What really matters to you?
  • Create a financial support system: Actively seek support utilizing professional advice, friends, financial tools, software and applications to set your self up for success.

Once you learn to work with your list of financial goals and stop operating out of fear regarding money, you will see your efforts transfer to other aspects of your life. You may feel more financially confident once you have a clear vision of where you are and where you want to be.

Empowering yourself financially allows you to toss out old reactions and habits. You choose your actions! As you tap into your own power, you no longer wait for luck to happen or hope that you win the lottery—you actively take charge of your life. I call this positive lifestyle where the riches of life are inherent in your soul—proactive abundance!

Have a great week,

Bob

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AN ATITTUDE of GRATEFULNESS

3x3 template copyGratefulness – also defined as being thankful, appreciative or gratitude – can be a powerful tool for living a meaningful life.

Psychology Today states, “Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has – as opposed to, for example, a consumer-driven emphasis on what one wants. Gratitude is getting a great deal of attention as a facet of positive psychology: Studies show that we can deliberately cultivate gratitude, and can increase our well-being and happiness by doing so. In addition, gratefulness – and especially expression of it to others – is associated with increased energy, optimism, and empathy.

Take a moment each day to express gratitude for the goodness in your life. Some people like to begin their day with a meditation or short mantra expressing thanks. This is a positive action to begin each day and set the tone for the rest of the day. It helps you look for the best resolution as the day unfolds.

Others prefer to document the activities and the goodness of the day as a nightly ritual. Being thankful for all the moments and people in our daily life can change our intentions. One can learn to flip frustrations or challenges to create new opportunities for choosing what is important to us over time.

As the holiday season approaches, many celebrate thankfulness and a bountiful life, but as the good china is put up, keeping an attitude of gratitude throughout the year can relieve stress and generate a more optimistic view. A mindset of cultivating kindness can often have positive repercussions that we can’t even imagine. Much like a small pebble thrown into a pond, the ripples of thankfulness and kindness can have a huge impact on many people, some of whom you may never meet!

By focusing on the good, you retrain your brain to look for abundance, rather than dwelling on the lack of “things.” Scientific studies are demonstrating that fear and negativity increase cortisol, the “fight or flight” hormones and narrow your perspective because you perceive danger in your life. Developing a positive mindset increases the mood neurotransmitters (serotonin and norepinephrine), in your body. It also encourages people to “broaden and build” life skills, actively seek new opportunities, and utilize small successes to achieve a more abundant and meaningful life.

In gratitude ~ Bob

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POSITIVE FLOW

Positive FlowDo you ever find yourself so completely immersed in what you’re doing that you lose track of time? All of a sudden you look up at the clock and realize that hours have passed and you missed dinner time? Think a minute about this. When does this loss of time and total engagement typically occur for you?

This could apply to a martial artist completely absorbed in perfecting a flying kick, or a violinist fiercely concentrating on a complex symphony. One may find still greater happiness working towards long-term, meaningful goals. Viktor Frankl, who survived a Nazi concentration camp, once said “What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him.” (Frankl, 1992)

According to The Pursuit of Happiness this loss of self-consciousness that happens when you are completely absorbed in an activity – intellectual, professional, or physical – is described in contemporary psychology as a state of flow. In order for a flow state to occur, you must see the activity as voluntary, enjoyable (intrinsically motivating), and it must require skill and be challenging (but not too challenging) with clear goals towards success. You must feel as though you have control and receive immediate feedback with room for growth. Interestingly, a flow state is characterized by the absence of emotion – a complete loss of self-consciousness –however, in retrospect, the flow activity may be described as enjoyable and even exhilarating!

A growing body of scientific evidence indicates that flow is highly correlated with happiness, both SWB (Subjective well-being) and PWB (Psychological well-being). Furthermore, it has been found that people who experience a lot of flow regularly also develop other positive traits, such as increased concentration, self-esteem, and performance.

In one study, 250 “high-flow” and “low-flow” teenagers were asked to report on their feelings and activities at regular intervals (Csikszentmihalyi & Csikszentmihalyi, 1988). The high-flow teenagers on average reported more time spent on “active leisure” activities such as hobbies, sports and homework. The high-flow teenagers also measured higher levels of self-esteem and engagement. Interestingly, however, the high-flow teenagers self-reported lower levels of fun than the low-flow teenagers.

Apparently, high-flow teenagers see their low-flow peers as experiencing more fun engaging in low-flow activities, such as video games, TV or socializing. However, the high-flow kids end up having greater long term happiness as well as success in school, social relationships and careers. If flow has such incredible benefits to our happiness, relationships and success, then why do people habitually choose low-flow activities?

Why do people, in the moment, choose another episode of American Idol over a game of pickup basketball? One hypothesis is that the high-flow activities require more initial motivation because they do require skill and concentration. In other words, high-flow activities are work! But work that pays off. Low-flow activities, such as watching TV, could contribute to depression and low self-esteem.

Thus, when we are actively involved in trying to reach a goal, or an activity that is challenging but well suited to our skills, we can all experience a joyful state called “flow.”  The experience of flow in both professional and leisure activities leads to increased positive affect, performance, and commitment to long-term, meaningful goals.

Take a moment to determine what is most important to you and what activities take you to a place of timelessness. Find your flow for a more abundant life!

Bob