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Top 8 Fantastic Sites to Help Keep Your Kids Creative

The imagination of a child is like no other and if it is fed and nurtured from the beginning, the results could be extraordinarily positive. It’s crucial to keep children’s minds active in their formative years, since that’s when they do most of their learning and retain the most information. It’s also important to encourage a child’s sense of creativity, giving them the freedom to grow and expand their minds. In the past, parents worried about their kids watching too much brainless television and sought to find educational programming they could learn from. Today, the problem is pretty much the same, though the media has changed. Kids are constantly on the computer, surfing the web, but what are they looking at? Are they being productive or simply staring at a screen that inspires nothing out of them? Have no fear because we’ve got a list of some fantastic websites that can put you parents at ease, knowing your child is using their minds and being creative all while they are visually stimulated and entertained.

1. Kerpoof

Kerpoof is a fun, colorful, creative spot for kids to enjoy, create, and even learn in. As there are several online games to choose from that each display a level of interaction, Kerpoof allows children to tap into their artistic side and expand their knowledge. In “Spell A Picture,” kids can produce an image by spelling out words of objects that they then can choose and compose anywhere within the frame. The educational element is masked by the fun of coming up with new words to see the different objects and characters. Some words like “man,” typed multiple times, produce different visual results. Another fun game called “Make A Drawing” is your typical drawing pad with the added bonus of a color palette that has the ability to function like a real painter’s palette, allowing kids to experiment with mixing colors.

 2. Tate Kids
Tate Kids is the Tate Modern Museum’s answer to creating an artistic virtual space for children. The site offers a number of innovative games all while expanding a child’s creative horizons and educating them about art along the way. For the kid interested in graffiti, there’s a great game called “Street Art” that prefaces the digital pastime with a little insight on what street art is and even cites Banksy as one of the most popular street artists today. Once in the game, children are free to express themselves through a series of spray paint cans that range in size and color. Hold down your cursor long enough on the simulated wall and your paint will run just like real graffiti. Tate Kids has also integrated a social aspect, letting kids create and share their own art galleries. The site even gives tips for being crafty offline.


3. Built by Kids
Built by Kids is a lifestyle website that was a 2012 Webby Award nominee in the Family/Parenting category. It is a site designed to keep families physically engaged while building their relationships and bonding over creative activities. Built by Kids proudly boasts that it is created “WITH, BY and FOR children” and firmly believes that “by teaching children practical skills and encouraging them to submit to their creativity, children become more confident, capable and cosmopolitan.” As such, the site features several familial activity ideas conveniently categorized by age (from toddlers to teens) and skill level (easy to challenging).
4. National Geographic Kids
National Geographic Kids aims to entertain young children while simultaneously introducing and further expanding their knowledge about our planet and the animals that live on it. Serving as the children’s version of the original National Geographic Society, the site offers similarly educational and enlightening content that’s more suitable for the innocent wonderment of a child, gearing a lot of its focus on discovering animals. In addition to games and puzzles, there is a “Fun Stuff” category that includes crafts, recipes, and “Photo Fill-Ins,” an activity that allows kids to creatively insert dialogue into the thought bubbles of cute and funny animal photographs. There is also a section devoted to photography, encouraging young photographers to upload and share their own animal photos.
The imagination of a child is like no other and if it is fed and nurtured from the beginning, the results could be extraordinarily positive. It’s crucial to keep children’s minds active in their formative years, since that’s when they do most of their learning and retain the most information. It’s also important to encourage a child’s sense of creativity, giving them the freedom to grow and expand their minds. In the past, parents worried about their kids watching too much brainless television and sought to find educational programming they could learn from. Today, the problem is pretty much the same, though the media has changed. Kids are constantly on the computer, surfing the web, but what are they looking at? Are they being productive or simply staring at a screen that inspires nothing out of them? Have no fear because we’ve got a list of some fantastic websites that can put you parents at ease, knowing your child is using their minds and being creative all while they are visually stimulated and entertained.
5. FluxTime Studio
FluxTime Studio is a site that allows your kids to try their hand at animation. In the age of YouTube, where children and adults alike can get stuck mindlessly clicking on an endless supply of cat videos, it is far more productive to present your children with a website that gives them the power to create content rather than simply watch it. FluxTime Studio allows users to edit and generate an animated video for free with the use of its library of colorful clipart in addition to the ability to draw directly onto the screen, frame by frame. The completed project can then be sent out as an e-card. There are greater perks, including the ability to save your work, if you choose to create an account, for which there are a varied number of membership options and price listings.

6. Sesame Street
Sesame Street is a well-known children’s television series that has been running since 1969, teaching kids just about everything with its rich educational content. The franchise’s website is equally influential in spreading knowledge and promoting creativity. The site boasts a series of original artistic games for younger kids that allow them to play around with visuals. There is a digital coloring book, allowing your tiny tots to click and color images of their favorite Sesame Street characters. Kids can get a sense of creative freedom, realizing that Cookie Monster doesn’t have to be blue in their version. Other games like “Bert and Ernie’s Printmaker” and “Big Bird’s Collage Studio” allow children to construct their own creations out of stamps, stickers, macaroni, and popcorn without the mess.
7. Make: Projects
Make: Projects is part of MAKE magazine, offering a wide selection of do-it-yourself projects to choose from. Although many of the activities seem right up an adult’s alley, as kids aren’t nearly as interested in making their own vinegar or building a plywood coffee table, there is an ever-expanding library of DIY projects curated specifically for children to try out. From constructing a balloon blimp to designing a robot costume, Make: Projects’ kids section doesn’t disappoint on the creative front. The site offers interesting experiments and fun activities for kids to tackle, of which there are over 40 at this point. Additionally, Make produces a series of DIY videos for children that is also hosted by a child called Silvia’s Mini Maker Show.

8. piZap
PiZap is a great site for young aspiring photographers, graphic designers, and digital illustrators to play with fun and easy image editing tools. The site provides a free online platform for kids to let their imaginations take flight visually. With an assorted library of clipart, backgrounds, and effects with a cartoonish appeal, kids can be entertained while they create original works. Whether your child chooses to use the supplied images or upload some of their own to tweak and upgrade, the activity allows them to exercise their creative designing skills. They can produce new collages and illustrations or stylize and edit existing photos. Additionally, your children can build their own stories by inserting text either by typing it out themselves or using the given alphabet graphics. Once completed, the entire image can be shared or downloaded.

The imagination of a child is like no other and if it is fed and nurtured from the beginning, the results could be extraordinarily positive. It’s crucial to keep children’s minds active in their formative years, since that’s when they do most of their learning and retain the most information. It’s also important to encourage a child’s sense of creativity, giving them the freedom to grow and expand their minds. In the past, parents worried about their kids watching too much brainless television and sought to find educational programming they could learn from. Today, the problem is pretty much the same, though the media has changed. Kids are constantly on the computer, surfing the web, but what are they looking at? Are they being productive or simply staring at a screen that inspires nothing out of them? Have no fear because we’ve got a list of some fantastic websites that can put you parents at ease, knowing your child is using their minds and being creative all while they are visually stimulated and entertained.

1. Kerpoof Kerpoof is a fun, colorful, creative spot for kids to enjoy, create, and even learn in. As there are several online games to choose from that each display a level of interaction, Kerpoof allows children to tap into their artistic side and expand their knowledge. In “Spell A Picture,” kids can produce an image by spelling out words of objects that they then can choose and compose anywhere within the frame. The educational element is masked by the fun of coming up with new words to see the different objects and characters. Some words like “man,” typed multiple times, produce different visual results. Another fun game called “Make A Drawing” is your typical drawing pad with the added bonus of a color palette that has the ability to function like a real painter’s palette, allowing kids to experiment with mixing colors.

 2. Tate Kids Tate Kids is the Tate Modern Museum’s answer to creating an artistic virtual space for children. The site offers a number of innovative games all while expanding a child’s creative horizons and educating them about art along the way. For the kid interested in graffiti, there’s a great game called “Street Art” that prefaces the digital pastime with a little insight on what street art is and even cites Banksy as one of the most popular street artists today. Once in the game, children are free to express themselves through a series of spray paint cans that range in size and color. Hold down your cursor long enough on the simulated wall and your paint will run just like real graffiti. Tate Kids has also integrated a social aspect, letting kids create and share their own art galleries. The site even gives tips for being crafty offline.


3. Built by Kids Built by Kids is a lifestyle website that was a 2012 Webby Award nominee in the Family/Parenting category. It is a site designed to keep families physically engaged while building their relationships and bonding over creative activities. Built by Kids proudly boasts that it is created “WITH, BY and FOR children” and firmly believes that “by teaching children practical skills and encouraging them to submit to their creativity, children become more confident, capable and cosmopolitan.” As such, the site features several familial activity ideas conveniently categorized by age (from toddlers to teens) and skill level (easy to challenging).
4. National Geographic Kids National Geographic Kids aims to entertain young children while simultaneously introducing and further expanding their knowledge about our planet and the animals that live on it. Serving as the children’s version of the original National Geographic Society, the site offers similarly educational and enlightening content that’s more suitable for the innocent wonderment of a child, gearing a lot of its focus on discovering animals. In addition to games and puzzles, there is a “Fun Stuff” category that includes crafts, recipes, and “Photo Fill-Ins,” an activity that allows kids to creatively insert dialogue into the thought bubbles of cute and funny animal photographs. There is also a section devoted to photography, encouraging young photographers to upload and share their own animal photos.

Seven powerful success principles

A principle is a rule or law concerning a natural occurrence. When principles are applied, the results are predictable. Today I want to talk about seven success principles that will make your success a natural occurrence. These principles are timeless; they will work today the same as they worked 2,500 years ago, the same as they will work 2,500 years from now.

If you follow the success principles, success will surely be yours. Contrary to popular opinion, public debate, and what you may have seen on television, success is not the result of good luck. Success comes from the proper application of principles.

With that said, here are 7 powerful success principles.

1. Prepare

“It’s not the will to win, but the will to prepare to win that makes the difference.” -Paul Bryant

Success occurs when the prepared individual creates their own opportunity. Are you prepared? Preparation is the foundation of success. It often takes years to prepare for success, there are no overnight successes. What appears to be overnight success is usually the result of at least 10 years of preparation.

2. Get Started

“What is not started today is never finished tomorrow.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

If you’re not in action today, you don’t have a tomorrow, just a longer today. So get into action now, and begin to move in the right direction.

3. Move in the Right Direction

“The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” -Oliver Wendell Homes

Are you moving in the right direction?

If you’re moving in the right direction, no matter your speed, you will eventually get to your intended destination. It’s not that important where you are right now, what matters is where you’re headed. Don’t get discouraged because you haven’t arrived; it’s only a matter of time before you walk into your dream.

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4. Dream and Act

“To accomplish great things, we must dream as well as act.” – Anatole France

What you dream today will become your tomorrow…if after you finish dreaming it you wake up and turn it into a reality. Dreaming is necessary, it frames your thinking, but it’s not enough. You need to develop a step-by-step action plan to turn those dreams into reality.

5. Think Big

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” – Michelangelo

Think bigger! If I have a little cup, I can fill it with a little water; if I have a big cup, I can fill it with a lot of water. Your thinking is the cup that determines what you get out of life. Expand your thinking and you will expand your life.

6. Grow

“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” -Charles Swindoll

Life is about growth. The challenges of life, the seeming impossibilities are really just opportunities for you to grow. You need these challenges; how can you grow without a challenge? The challenges make you stronger, they make you better.

7. Be Determined

“The surest way not to fail is to determine to succeed” – Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Og Mandino said, “Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.” Are you determined to succeed? Have you made up your mind? When you decide to succeed, when you cut-off all other options, when you’re determined to succeed, you will find a way to do it. So stay focused, success will be yours.

Thank you for reading, and please this article along!

See Also

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How to Create a Balanced Life

“Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.” ~Robert Fulgham

I’ve been feeling a bit wiggidy-wack over the last couple of weeks.

That’s my euphemism for feeling off, scattered, not quite balanced. Feel free to borrow it!

I’ve had way too much input, and the overload has stalled my output. It feels like I’m a runaway train that has sped off the track, and now I’m just spinning my wheels getting nowhere. Actually, I am accomplishing things, but it’s more of a shotgun approach rather than either  deliberate or effortless.

I know the shotgun approach is no good. It’s far too random and can lead you down a worm hole. There are so many things I like to do,  need to do, and want to do that I get paralyzed trying to decide which direction to take first. I’ve had to step back this week and recalibrate.

I often find myself torn between living deliberately and living effortlessly. Maybe you know what I mean.

Deliberate or Effortless Living?

Deliberate living is an approach to life and work whereby you create priorities and goals and then build your daily actions around those. You are planning and working toward something. This can be a very productive and successful method for managing your life.

Living effortlessly means you allow life to unfold naturally, without specific goals but within the parameters of your values and life priorities. My friend Leo Babauta has written a lot about living effortlessly and has created his life so it can unfold without much planning. There is certainly peace and simplicity in this approach. You live in the moment.

I’ve found with the deliberate approach that  I miss spontaneity over time. I begin to feel obligated to follow through on my plans even if I feel pulled or inspired in another direction. Yes, I can accomplish a lot, but it isn’t always joyful.

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When I live the effortless approach, letting life take care of itself, I fluctuate between stretches of calm punctuated by moments of sheer terror or overwhelm. There are simply too many details of my life that can’t take care of themselves, as much as I’d like them to (ie: kids, bills, laundry, etc.).

I’ve discovered that I am happiest (and less wiggidy wack) when I can achieve a balance between a deliberate and an effortless life. I like to call this living a “creative life.”

The Creative Life of Balance

A creative life involves pulling from the palette of both the deliberate and effortless approaches to paint an evolving, shifting picture for your life.

Some days you might need a bit more of the blues and greens, and other days you feel inspired by the browns and yellows. You can mix colors and paint the canvas to suit your circumstances or desires. You can apply broad and effortless brushstrokes or try your hand at deliberate pointillism.

As the creator, you have the ability to plan your painting but also leave room for inspiration and spontaneity. A mix of balance, composition, and personal expression make for beautiful art.

Of course, it’s easy to talk about achieving balance, but in practice it is a fine and delicate art. In fact, it’s an ongoing creative act that requires daily attention. Life is in constant motion. Circumstances shift. You evolve or change your mind.

Have you ever seen one of those Bongo Boards?  You balance on what looks like a skateboard without wheels but with one single roller underneath. The trick is to shift your balance back and forth so you stay on the board and the roller doesn’t pop out from under you. It’s hard to stay perfectly centered all the time. You have to continually recalibrate to maintain balance.

I’m sure you see the analogy here.

Life Balance Techniques

Every day we must recalibrate to maintain balance in our lives. I have found that there are certain techniques you can apply to help you recalibrate and achieve that balance. Here are a few of them:

Self-Awareness

It’s impossible to create balance if you don’t know who you are or what’s important to you. Underneath the persona you have created over a lifetime of responding to expectations, fears, and obligations, is the real you. It takes a period of self-reflection and self-discovery to find that person.

Most of us don’t reach adulthood without losing some or part of our authentic selves along the way. Knowing who you are, what you value, and what brings you sustained joy will help you create the foundation for a balanced life. If you haven’t taken the time to learn about yourself, you need to find a good tool to help you do that — and then do it. It’s the most important work you will ever undertake.

Practicality and Realism

Part of having a balanced life is having a practical and realistic outlook on life and what you can and cannot do at any given time. For example, as much as I’d like to live a very simple, streamlined life, I’m not in a position to do that right now without negatively impacting people I care about. Even if I were in the position, I know that simplifying many areas of my life would take a huge chunk of time and energy. And that’s not how I want to spend my time right now.

Within the context of our existing lives, we must make choices for what is most important and most valuable. If there are several equally important choices, then just pick one and recognize that uncertainty is also part of the adventure of living. One truth we must embrace is that uncertainty doesn’t need to be a reason for inaction.

Timing

You can do most of what you want in life, but you can’t do it all at once. There are around 16 waking hours in a day. Part of that time is spent with life necessities (eating, hygiene, driving, etc.).  And of course a job that takes a good chunk of our time.

So really we have only a few hours a week of “free” time to create as we wish. I have found that it’s far more satisfying to focus on a few things intently rather than cramming in many activities and never feeling deeply satisfied with any of them. If there are many things that interest you, pick a couple and focus on them for a while, fully savoring them. Then move on to something else later.

I’ve also learned that since work takes up so much of our time, I’d rather do work that I love and make less money if necessary. Of course, you don’t want to go into debt doing that, so you have to find a way to transition from one to another. Because we spend so much time working, I think making this transition is one of the most valuable life endeavors — even if you must temporarily give up other things you enjoy.

Intention

It’s quite useful to examine our intentions when we are working to create balance in our lives. When you are trying to choose an action, take a hard look at your intention behind it. Are you motivated by guilt, obligation, fear, ego? If your intentions are negative, you will likely meet inner resistance to the activity or plan.

Sometimes you must proceed anyway because practicality or security demands  (ie: you must do work you hate or fear being fired). But just having the awareness of your intentions can often take the sting out of the situation. Once you are aware, you are making a conscious and creative choice rather than simply reacting to circumstances or demands.

Scheduling Non-Negotiables

One very practical step I take when creating a balanced life is first filling in the non-negotiables of my life. You can’t do this without having undertaken the self-awareness steps mentioned above. But once you have a handle on who you are and what’s important to you, then you can begin inserting the regular activities that are a must for you.

For me, my non-negotiables include spending time with my kids; getting a good night’s sleep; exercising; working; spending time with friends; keeping my house in reasonable order; and having down time to relax. Time for those are plotted into every day. The art is in the details and timing of each of these.

I’d like to paint, simplify and de-clutter, cook more, take yoga, garden, and many other activities that intrigue me. But at this point, I’ve re-calibrated and created my life with the activities that are most important to me. There will be time to do these other things, but for today, I’m savoring both the activities of my life and the process of creation.

How are you creating a balanced life?

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Letter to Young Friends by Benjamin Franklin


Letter to a Young Friend  by  Benjamin Franklin

给年轻朋友的一封信  富兰克林

My dear friend

我亲爱的朋友

    I know of no medicine fit to diminish the violent natural inclination you mention; and if I did, I think I should not communicate it to you. Marriage is the proper remedy. It is the most natural State of man, and therefore the state in which you will find solid Happiness.Your reason against entering into it at present appears to be not well founded. The circumstantial advantages you have in view by postponing it, are not only uncertain, but they are small in comparison with the thing itself, the being married and settled. It is the man and woman united that makes the complete human Being, Separate she wants his force of body and strength of reason; he her softness, sensibility and acute discernment. Together they are most likely to succeed in the world. A single man has not nearly the value he would have in that state of union. He is an incomplete animal.He resembles the odd falf of a pair of scissors.

我知道没有药物能够消除你们所提到的那种疯狂的自然倾向; 即使我知道,我想我也不该告诉你.婚姻是适当的药物。它是人类最本能的状态, 因此是一种最幸福的生活状态。你拒绝现在进入婚姻殿堂的理由显的不够充分.你认为推迟婚姻可能存在好处,不仅不一定实现,而且,那些利益跟婚姻本身以及婚 后的安定相比起来就微不足道了。男人和女人只有联合起来才能组成完整的人.女人缺乏男人的力量和周密的推理,而男人缺乏女人的温柔、感性和敏锐的洞察力。 因此当男人和女人联合起来。就能够无往不胜。单身和离婚生活的男男女女不可能具有婚姻生活中的价值,是一种不完善的动物。他简直好比半把剪刀–孤掌难鸣。

    If you get a prudent, health wife, your industry in your profession, with her good economy, will be a fortune sufficient.

如果你拥有一位健康而谨慎的妻子,你的辛勤工作,加上她的勤俭节约,必定会创造充足的财富。

                                                Your affectionate Friend

您真挚的朋友

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Top 7 Essential Skills for Managing Change

It’s a cliché, but change has always been the only constant. In recent times, the pace of change has accelerated greatly, and we all need to find ways to deal creatively with this fact of modern life. Leaders, in particular, need to face and manage change in a constructive way, but everyone who wants to be successful – in career, in relationships, in life – must learn how to see and manage change the way that successful ‘change leaders’ do. Such leaders are adaptable and creative, responding to change in three key ways.

1. People who respond well to change will have a high ‘ambiguity threshold.’ Change is inherently ambiguous, and those who deal creatively with change will have a high tolerance for uncertainty and ‘shades of grey.’

2. Skillful managers of change will have a constructive ‘internal monologue.’ They will see themselves as inherently powerful and having the ability to control elements of the situation in which they find themselves. Some circumstances cannot be changed, but the way we respond to them is always a choice, and we always have a sphere of influence, however small. By focusing on this sphere of influence, and not expending energy bemoaning the area outside it, the circle will start to expand and give us progressively more control. Solutions to problems always exist, and the ‘internal monologue’ should reflect the desire to find them and the certainty that they can be successfully implemented.

3. Those who deal well with change will have a good reservoir of emotional, physical and mental energy from which to draw when things get tough.

Managing Change

The above ways of dealing with change tend to be innate, with some people having a greater capacity for one or more of them than others. However, they can be learned, and the following are seven tips for improving your skills in managing change.

1. Spend time reflecting on your own core values and your mission in life. A sense of purpose is essential to success and effectiveness, and those without a clear idea of what they are doing and why they are doing it will not have the foundation to keep going in the face of change.

2. Be persistent. Success is usually more to do with tenacity that genius. Persistence is only possible when you have clarified your values and when you are able to build on the bedrock of purpose. Successful people keep going in the face of change, finding new and creative ways to achieve a positive outcome.

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3. Be flexible and creative. Persistence does not mean pushing through by force. If you are unable to achieve success one way, try another, and then another. Keep looking for more creative solutions and innovative responses to problems.

4. Think outside the box. Read widely, and don’t confine yourself to your own area of ‘expertise.’ Try to see links between apparently separate and diverse elements in your life and experience.

5. Accept uncertainty and be optimistic. Life is inherently uncertain, so don’t waste your energy trying to predict the future. Of all the possible outcomes, focus on the most positive one. This is not to be a ‘Pollyanna,’ but to accept that if you respond well and work to the best of your ability, a good outcome is as likely as any other. Don’t waste your energy being negative.

6. Keep fit and healthy. Eat well, get enough sleep, exercise regularly. Meditation can help, too. This will keep up your energy levels and allow you to keep going in tough times. Not taking care of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually is foolish and short sighted.

7. See the big picture. Change is inevitable, but if you take a bird’s-eye-view of the landscape, the change won’t be so disorientating and you will keep perspective at all times.

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Are You Trying to Live Up to Other People’s Values

Do you often feel guilty about things that you aren’t doing – or things that you are doing? Do you find yourself saying “I really should…” or “I know I’m supposed to…” or “I must…”? Are you trying to live up to someone else’s values?

There are so many pressures on us to conform. You might think that you have your own priorities straight (and that you’re failing to meet your own standards), but chances are, you’re being influenced by a lot of external pressures. These could come from:

  • Society as a whole, and the media
  • Your colleagues, friends or classmates
  • Your parents, grandparents and extended family

The problem with trying to live by someone else’s values is that you’ll never feel as though you’re managing it. You can’t please everyone – and you shouldn’t be trying to. At the end of the day, what matters is that you live up to your own values. (In many cases, these might coincide with those of your community, friends or family, of course; but be clear where differences lie.)

Values from Society and the Media

Using the word “values” might seem odd in connection with modern society and the media (often criticised for not holding values or morals). Sometimes, what we take for common sense or received wisdom is really a value so ingrained in us by society, we can’t step outside and see a different point of view.

 

For example, consumerism is encouraged by the media (because they exist due to selling not only newspapers and magazines and other products, but by selling advertising). Our society is obsessed with appearance – just think of all the ridiculous attention paid to whether celebrities are gaining or losing weight.

If you’ve set yourself a goal of earning an extra $5k this year, or of losing 30lbs, ask yourself whether you’ve done so because of your values – or because this is what newspapers, television and advertisers are telling you to do.

Values from Your Colleagues/ Friends

When I was at school, there was a lot of talk about resisting “peer pressure” to misbehave. Your peers are the people who are like you – whether they’re in the same job, at the same college, or simply your group of friends. The danger is that our social instinct and need to belong can push us to adopt values which aren’t really ones we’d otherwise prioritize.

For example, if all your friends place a high value on entertainment, enjoyment and partying – and you value being frugal and making a contribution to the world – you might end up living what feels to you a shallow lifestyle. If your classmates at college are all focused on career and earnings, your dream of traveling may fall by the wayside. And if your colleagues prioritize getting ahead at all costs, what happens to your values of honesty, kindness, and mutual respect?

When you’re buying a new gadget, accepting an invitation, or stretching the truth to make life easier, ask yourself whether you’re being drawn away from your values by your peers.

Values from Your Family

In many cases, we share our values with our close family members. If your parents placed a high value on family relationships, chances are, you do too. And if your family have always prioritized helping out in the community, you’ve probably been involved in various volunteering opportunities all your life.

Sometimes, though, you might feel pressurized or stressed because of your parents’ or grandparents’ values. Perhaps you don’t want to hire a cleaner because your grandpa would be horrified by the idea of paying someone to do jobs that you could do perfectly well yourself – but you know that having the housework taken care of would give you time to launch your new business.

Or maybe your dad’s focus has always been on making as much money as possible in order to retire young; you’re feeling pushed towards a “realistic” corporate career when, deep down, you want to pursue a more creative calling.

Once you no longer live under your parents’ roof, you have no obligation to living up to their values. I certainly wouldn’t suggest you go out of your way to horrify, offend or shock your relatives, but try not to fall into the trap of second-guessing yourself because you’re worried what they’ll think. And relatives won’t always react how you expect. When I quit my job to freelance, my mother and I kept it secret from my grandma for several months – but when we finally broke the news, my grandma was full of praise for my entrepreneurial spirit!

Ask yourself whether it’s time to cut the apron strings and live your life: your parents and loved ones want you to do what makes you happy – not to simply follow their values.

Whose values are you living up to? How can you start getting back to your own values?

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Top 4 Prerequisites for Living Your Life Purpose Right Now

This moment is a microcosm of your entire life.

If you are . . .

waiting for something better,

waiting to decide,

waiting until the time is right,

waiting for enlightenment,

waiting until you feel better,

waiting until you are sure,

. . . you are wasting your life.

In any given moment, we have an infinite number of choices about what to do. Our choices either serve our life purpose or they do not. If you make enough choices that do not serve your purpose, you are living an unfulfilled, purposeless life.

What is your life purpose?

Your life purpose is to be who you are authentically — the real true self under all of the facades, hurts, expectations, and social conditioning. And then you must strive to live that self  in every moment, every day. If you aren’t in touch with who that person is, then it is nearly impossible to live a purposeful life.

Sometimes to get in touch with your real true self, you have to ask yourself, “Who do I want to be?” You have to define the characteristics, behavior, beliefs, actions, and lifestyle of your ideal self. Most of us aren’t in touch with that person. We aren’t proactive about finding out who we are. Instead, we are reactive and confused, seeking something outside of ourselves to give us direction and purpose.

However, purpose arises naturally from authentic living. It is a gift of grace that accompanies self-actualization.

So how do you find that “real self”? How do you become authentic and certain about who you are so that you can live out your life purpose?

I have learned four essential steps to help you realize your life purpose right now:

  • Self-questioning;
  • Listening to your intuition;
  • Learning from past experience;
  • Managing your time.

1. Self Questioning

Without clear direction, your life and life choices can be entirely at the mercy of circumstances and other people.

To get that direction, you must clear away the “noise” of the world around you and go inside to identify what is most important to you.  Self-questioning will focus you on what you deeply want, who you want to be, and how you get there.

You can try this right now by answering these questions for yourself. Write down the answers so you don’t forget.

  • What kind of person do you want to be? Describe the top 10 most important characteristics of this person (ie: creative, honest, loving, healthy, adventurous, etc.).
  • Whose life do you admire and want to emulate? What is it about their life that inspires you?
  • What activities (in work and life in general) make you feel most fulfilled and happy?
  • If you could divide your time exactly the way you wanted between work, family, hobbies, leisure, and life maintenance activities (chores, paperwork, errands, etc.), how would you divide your time?
  • How are you dividing your time now? How close is it to the ideal you described above?
  • Are you passionate about your work? If not, what would you rather be doing?
  • Are you happy in your relationships? If not, how are you contributing to the difficulty and what could you do to change it?
  • Are there any ways you are living outside of your integrity? If so, what could you do to restore your integrity?
  • Do you have needs or desires that you are suppressing or putting on the back burner? What are they?
  • Are you spending a lot of time doing things that feel empty and meaningless?
  • Do you have emotions that get in the way of taking action toward being true to yourself? Why do you have these feeling?
  • If you could re-design your life from scratch, what would be the first thing you would change?
  • What is the most obvious place in your life where you are living outside of your authentic, ideal self?

Once you have answered these questions, you have an outline for who you want to be.

Becoming that person is your life purpose. All other meaning and purpose in life arises from being a fully functioning, self-realized, authentic human being.

It is the moment by moment “becoming” that is your life purpose — not the arrival at some final destination. And when you define your authentic self, you have a blueprint against which to measure all of your actions and choices.

But even within the parameters of that blueprint, there are a myriad of choices and options. What should you do first? What actions will result in positive change? What if I make the wrong choice or decision?

That’s where intuition comes in.

2. Listening to your intuition

As life has gotten more complicated, we’ve been trained to be reactors rather than creators. The phone rings and we answer it. The text comes in and we look at it. Someone interrupts and we stop to talk. The TV is on and we are distracted. So much of life is not by our own design but results from something landing on our doorstep. And because it’s landed, we feel compelled to respond.

But you don’t have to. You don’t have to give away your time, your energy, or your true self.

The most beautiful gift you can give yourself is to step back from the reacting mode and allow yourself time for self-creation.

Self-creation requires . . .

  • quiet, uninterrupted time;
  • more questioning;
  • deep listening to your own innate wisdom;
  • a leap of faith.

In those moments of quiet introspection, hopefully at the beginning of each day, ask yourself these questions and listen intently for the answers from within yourself:

~What are the three most important things I need to do today? (Keep it to three so that you can truly focus on them.)

~Are these things in alignment with my purpose (of becoming who I am authentically)?

~If so, what are the actions I need to take right now and for the rest of the day to move forward with these three things?

~If not, must I absolutely do this activity? How could I eliminate or diminish spending time on this now or in the future?

If several things seem important or if you aren’t sure what to do, then take that leap of faith. Just do something that you think might move you toward your authentic self. Even if you are wrong, the experience will provide you information for making choices in the future.

“Living involves tearing up one rough draft after another.”  ~Author Unknown

3. Learning from past experiences

In fact, making mistakes and tapping in to the wisdom from past failures and successes provides a library of subconscious resources for making decisions in the moment.

According to the blog Science Daily (May 15, 2009), research conducted by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council has shown that “past experience really does help when we have to make complex decisions based on uncertain or confusing information. They show that learning from experience actually changes the circuitry in our brains so that we can quickly categorize what we are seeing and make a decision or carry out appropriate actions.”

We have a hard drive of past experiences wired in our brains which we can readily access — often subconsciously. Our intuition draws from these past experiences, allowing the “right” decision to rise to the surface.

And of course, we can tap into past experience very consciously to help us decide what we do and don’t want to repeat in our lives — and to help us further define the person we want to be.

Mistakes and failures are stepping stones on the path of becoming a fully realized person. They are a necessary part of personal evolution and embracing your life purpose. When you view them as such, you can release some of the negative emotions (guilt, fear, shame) that hold you back from taking action.

4. Managing your time

The final essential step in living your life purpose right now is practical but necessary. There are 24 hours in a day and only about 17 waking hours. Then subtract the time to eat, shower, and handle the necessary tasks of living. What you have remaining is what you have to work with in living purposefully.

You will have many, many more purpose-driven activities than you will have hours in a day. You have to prioritize – or simply choose. You will need to balance your time between the various important aspects of your life.

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world.  This makes it hard to plan the day.”  ~Elwyn Brooks White

The idea is not to cram as much as you can in a moment or day or lifetime. The idea is to make every moment count, with full focus on what you have chosen to do because you know with certainty that it is part of your “becoming.” When you fill every moment with purpose, you are living a life of purpose.

Your life purpose isn’t something you attain at the end of your life. It is something you live in the here and now by constantly creating your  life in response to your evolving awareness of who you really are.

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First Step Toward Personal Change

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6个实用技巧hold住你的好习惯

想改变你现在生生活状况,养成新的生活习惯,却总是没法坚持下去? 以下六个实用且有效小贴士将帮你把整个场面hold住!

你是不是正试着培养一个新习惯?是不是苦恼于无法让一个好习惯坚持下去?

我们的习惯,决定我们的生活质量。这个月,我跟我的读者们进行了小组培训,然后我好奇地看到他们中很多人都在有目的地培养一些新的习惯。这些有益的习惯包括:

 每天进行冥想和反思

    每天进行锻炼或者至少一周四次体育锻炼

    每周读一本新书

    每天6点起床

    每天晚上12点前睡觉

其实他们很多人都曾经尝试过培养这些习惯,但是始终没有成功。

我意识到很多人很难坚持他们的新习惯,但其实他们用不着那么费劲儿。我自己已经培养出很多新习惯,其中有些需要我做出较大的改变,比如开始吃素餐以及每天运动。通过采取自觉行动,你的习惯可以很容易地成为你生活的一部分。下面是6个使你成功培养习惯的简单的窍门:

1. 让自己理解为什么你要培养这个习惯

你为什么要培养这种习惯,它能给你带 来什么改变?有些人可能想养成每天反思或者每天运动的习惯,但我们为什么要这么做?如果你没有明确的原因,你是不可能成功的。比如,我养成吃素餐的习惯是 因为我想使头脑更清晰,并享有一种更严格自由(cruelty-free)的生活方式。一个更清晰的头脑有助于我的思考,而一个严格自由的生活方式是我所 尊崇的个人追求。因此,对我来说,为此进行改变就成为顺理成章的事情。我听说过不少人坚持吃了两三周素餐最终放弃了,但是我从来没有动摇过。

找出最能说服你改变自己培养新习惯的理由。想想它当他成为你生活的一部分的时候能帮助你实现什么。想想它能带给你独一无二的好处。把这些理由写下来。

2. 把培养习惯当成21天障碍赛

我们有的人可能在培养新习惯的时候由于生活中的一些事情被迫中断。但如果你只需要把新习惯坚持21天呢?乍一下看来并不是很难。你们大多数人都会说:“才21天,我肯定能做到!”

为什么正好是21天?研究表明21天 的时间正好足以形成或毁掉一个新习惯。同时,通过集中精力于更短的时间,更有助于强力地形成习惯。一旦你在21天后形成了新习惯,你会发现维持它是件非常 轻松的事情。因此,在培养习惯的时候,不要老想着你要一辈子都这样下去,而是想着你要坚持21天。如果你到21天结束的时候发现你依然喜欢这个新习惯,那 么你就坚持下去,否则,就放弃掉。这是双赢的结局,没有输家。

3. 在你的日程上为它留出时间

在你的日程表上为你的新习惯预留出时 间。如果你没有为它安排位置,它就会成为你一天中最后才做的事儿。把机会留到一天的末尾,但那时你已经感觉累了,然后决定把它留到第二天再做。接下来,这 个循环会持续下去,而你最终决定完全放弃它。在另一方面,如果你为培养新习惯留出了时间,每次你看日程表的时候都会被提醒要坚持下去,你也知道不要再同时 安排别的事情来占据这段时间。

我将我的慢跑锻炼定在每天早上五六点 之间。一个很重要的原因是我很喜欢清晨微冷的刺激感,下午对我来说太热了。同时,用体育锻炼来开启你的清晨也是一件很酷的事情。由于锻炼时间被设定在这个 时候,我知道我需要每天5点前就起床。如果遇到任何让我没办法进行我的计划的时候(比如下雨或者我睡过头了),我会把运动时间安排到晚上弥补回来。通过这 种办法,我就能在意外的情况下依然坚持我的慢跑习惯。

4. 找出相互影响和加强的生活习惯

我们的生活习惯并不是孤立存在的,而 是相互关联的。比如,早起和早睡是相关联的,运动与合理饮食也是相关联的。这就是为什么培养新习惯是一件很难的事情,因为你的其他习惯会强化你的固有习 惯。那么,与你的新习惯有关联的其他习惯有哪些呢?丢掉对你没用的生活习惯,采用能帮助你生活得更好的习惯吧。

5. 提前预防意外问题

如果你这是第一次培养习惯,你很可能会遇到一些问题。即使你有计划,每天依然会有太多剧情外的事情发生。重要的方法是预估到一些问题,同时提前准备好应对的办法,这样你就能在出现问题的时候立刻把整个场面hold住。

比如,一个跟我每天锻炼目标相冲突的 障碍就是新加坡经常下雨。因此,一旦遇到下雨,由于跑道上没有遮雨棚,我的跑步计划就得搁浅。过去,我会取消当天的锻炼,同时这就拉开了我跳过每日锻炼的 序幕。我当时可能会想:“反正昨天都没去,今天不去也无所谓”。从以前的经验吸取教训后,如果遇到不能出去跑步的时候,我就在家里做耐力组合训练和健美 操。这样我就能保持始终锻炼的势头。

6. 跟踪你的习惯

跟踪你的习惯!当你记录下你的日常习惯,你就会更有动力地维持它,因为这是一种对自己的问责机制。下面是一些很棒的习惯记录软件,他们能给你一些启示:

∷ 21天习惯养成记录器(Habitforge)-通过21天时间观察记录你的习惯养成情况。如果有一天出现中断,你就从头开始。

∷ 跟踪进度提醒软件(Rootein)- 与Habitforge不同,这个软件始终记录你的习惯执行情况,无论你是否中断。这个软件还有手机版,你可以在路上查看你的习惯记录情况。(支持中文- 译者注)

∷ 小乔的目标(Joe’s Goals)- 一款跟Rootein很像的软件。它可以对目标的完成进行多方便的评判。

你还可以使用传统的记录方法:纸和笔。简单得画一个包含21天空格的习惯养成简表。然后,每当你完成一天的习惯之后,在上面画个勾。当你看到表格上面越来越多的勾的时候,你会感到自豪并愿意继续坚持下去。在你真正意识到成功之前,这些习惯已经成为你生活的一部分了。

你呢?

你想培养些什么新习惯?你能用上面哪些小建议来成功养成新的好习惯呢?把你的想法通过评论告诉我吧!

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Top 26 Simple Ways to Make Your Life More Exciting

If someone were to write a book about your life, would the title be something like The Predictable Tale of (Insert Your Name Here)’s Monotonous Existence — or would it be The Exciting Escapades of (Your Name)’s Wild and Adventurous Life ?

Your real life probably falls somewhere in-between agonizing monotony and wanton exhilaration — perhaps long stretches of boredom (or busyness) interspersed with moments of joy. (And even fun and joy can become predictable with repetition.)

As creatures of habit, our routines are comfortable and comforting. We humans tend to resist too much excitement even while we long for more exciting lives. Living an exciting life appears great in theory, but it’s a bit daunting when we’re faced with the possibility of actually doing something to make it exciting.

What is an exciting life anyway?

Does it mean we have to take up skydiving?

Become a spy?

Drive an expensive red sports car?

Those are exciting for sure, but most of us don’t have the money or the stomach for that kind of excitement on a regular basis. In fact, I think excitement is relative to our individual personalities and life circumstances.

At age 26, excitement for me was moving to New York for a fashion career. At age 36, with two toddlers under age three, my thrill was leaving the house for a couple of hours to walk around WalMart.

You don’t have to do or be something dramatic to have a more interesting and exciting life. Small and simple changes, shifts in thinking, and self-stretches can shake up your world enough to make it more fun, fascinating and adventurous — on your own terms.

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You can get out of the rut of your everyday routine and put some sparkle into your lifestyle with just a little creative thinking and planning.

Want some ideas? Here are 26 simple ways to add some excitement to your life.

1. Make room. It’s hard to add excitement to your life if your life is overflowing with mindless tasks and chores. Can you simplify, delegate, or eliminate any of these boring and mindless tasks to make room for excitement? Sometimes we fill our lives with these things in order to avoid stretching ourselves toward happiness. Is that you?

2. Shake up your morning routine. Instead of following the same wake-up routine every day, do it differently on occasion. Get up ten minutes early and have  breakfast outside. Turn off the TV and put on music.  Make love before work. Drive a different way. Just starting your day differently will give you a little thrill.

3. Be the host. Take the initiative to entertain, and invite friends or family over for dinner or something different — like a wine tasting or game night.

4. Move your furniture. Rearrange or redecorate a room, switching things up enough that it feels new and different.

5. Go cheer. Attend a competitive, fast-paced sporting event like tennis, basketball, or racing where the energy and excitement of the sport is contagious.

6. Get a makeover. Get a new haircut, have your make-up done by a pro, buy a new outfit, or try a new style. It’s even more fun if you do this with a friend.

7. Cut a rug. Now wear that new outfit or haircut to go out to a dance club — or just dance at home with great music and friends.

8. Find exciting people. Look around at people you know whose lives seem interesting and exciting. Take the initiative to get to know them so that you can be included in some of their excitement.

9. Plan an adventure trip. Even if you can’t afford to take a trip now, just researching, planning, and dreaming can give you a boost and build excitement for the time when you can afford to go. Include saving money as part of your planning!

10. Learn something new. Study a new language, a new skill, a hobby. You will open doors to meeting new people who share your interests and abilities and gain a sense of confidence and achievement.

11. Shake up your sex life. Be adventurous. Read the Kama Sutra. Join the Mile High Club. Find a new location. Just do it.

12. Get out of the house. Step away from the TV or computer and do something. Take a walk with a friend. Go to the bookstore and browse. Visit a local gallery or museum.

13. Go on a weekend excursion. Plan a fun getaway for 2-3 days for some outdoor or indoor adventure. REI offers a variety of adventure travel including some great weekend getaways if you want some ideas.

14. Test drive a sports car. Ok, so you may not be able to buy one, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try it out. Go take a spin behind the wheel of your favorite car.

15. Arrange a secret rendezvous. Surprise your beloved with a romantic evening or overnight hotel stay.

16. Try an unusual recipe. Cook something that you’ve never tried before or order something unusual at a restaurant that you wouldn’t normally try.

17. Read an adventure novel or thriller. Enjoy your excitement vicariously through a juicy, good book.

18. Go to a comedy club or mystery dinner theater. Have an exciting evening of laughs or thrills to shake up your routine weekend.

19. Write down your life vision. Spend some time thinking about your ideal life filled fun, excitement and adventure. Write down your vision and the actions you could take to get yourself there.

20. Adopt a pet. This is excitement plus responsibility, so be sure you are ready for both. A pet (especially a puppy) will be great company and provide fun opportunities to meet other pet people.

21. Go to a rock concert. Get tickets to your favorite band and take your favorite person to listen to some body-moving music.

22. Go skinny dipping. Night time is best if you don’t want the excitement of an arrest. Find a pool or a hot tub, strip down, and bring a loved one. Add a bottle of champagne for even more excitement.

23. Try a random act of kindness. Do something unexpectedly nice for a friend or a complete stranger. Pay for someone’s coffee. Send balloons. Leave a love note.

24. Be curious about people. Ask people (old and new friends) questions about their lives. Learn what other people do and what makes them tick. You might discover something intriguing about them and yourself.

25. Don’t wait. Don’t wait to try something, to initiate, to take action. Stop playing it safe or looking for someone else to take the lead. Be a creative creator of your life. You can make it as exciting and thrilling as you wish.

26. Do that one big thing. Is there one big action you’ve been holding back on that could turn your life from boring to amazing? Maybe it’s a job change, a move, a proposal, a change of scenery, a new person in your life. Whatever it is, take the first step. Action creates momentum, and momentum builds excitement.

For the most part, an exciting life doesn’t happen to you. (And when it does, it may not be the kind of excitement you want!) You need to find ways to jazz up your life in small ways by shifting your perspective — and changing some of your daily actions.

Small and fresh change can enliven you and create a new and exciting outlook on life.

What have you done to add excitement into your life? Please share you adventures in the comments.

See Also

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Autumn Inspired Top Apps and Gadgets

I don’t know about you, but when I think of autumn the following thoughts comes to mind: crunchy leaves, peeling branches and cozy wardrobe. The fall is, by far, my favorite season. It evokes a sense of serenity and warmth (more so than the scorching hot SoCal Summer) that truly make me happy. There is also something to be said about the autumnal colors (oranges, reds, yellows, etc) that bring a smile to my face. Needless to say, I’m in love with the season.

With that said, what kind of autumn-lover would I be if I didn’t find some tech to match the season. So I’ve rounded up some of my favorite autumn-inspired gadgets and apps to take you into my favorite time of year.

Is there one piece of tech that you are looking to pick up this Fall? Share it in the comments below!

1. bark turntable, $1,298
2. plaid iPod case, $35
3. phone cases, $34.99
4. beats orange headphones, $299.95

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1. tree trunk lamp
2. orange amp, $899
3. orange tablet case, $45
4. plaid iPad case, $49.99

Foliage Leaf Peepr, Free
Keep up to date on the changing leaf colors around the US with Yankee Magazine’s fantastic Foliage Leaf Peepr app. Share photos from your neighborhood, check out the leaves from around the States, and help plan your fall foliage road trip based on the feedback.


Treeid, Free
Setting out on a fall foliage trip or simple autumn nature walk? You can now use this app to help educate yourself and others on the various types of trees that surround you. It’s also very useful for finding out what plants may cause allergic reactions or may be harmful.

Alton Autumn Road Trips, Free
You may not be familiar with Alton, IL, but it happens to sit in the path of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway and is the perfect location for fall foliage drives. This app helps outline several trips for you to take around the scenic area.

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