Morning Habits, Jump-Start Your Brain For Success

Ever wondered why most successful people have morning habits? No, it’s not because they’re OCD or odd in any way. They develop habits for this one simple reason: to reduce friction in their lives so they can focus on what they do best. Makes sense, right?

“We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.” — John Dryden

Those who have tasted success, whether it’s big or small, will come to realise that time holds the most value in life — there is simply never enough time and there is always too much to think about. So, by adding, changing, or developing habits or routines will simplify our lives and save us time.

Here are a few questions to help you jump-start shaping your own ideal morning habits:

  • If I could plan my ideal morning, what would it look like?

Your First Minutes

About one year ago, I watched this YouTube video from Jim Kwik, Brain Coach, where he shared his morning habits on how he jump-start his brain for success, focus and productivity.

According to Kwik: “The first 60 minutes of your day can either set you up for maximum productivity and bring you closer to your long-term and short-term goals or cause you to lose another day to distractions and mental fog. Just like an athlete takes care of his body, we need to take good care of our brains to become who we aspire to be.”

And he’s right. What you do to start your day determines how the rest of your day will look like. Therefore, your morning habits are critical for lifetime success. Therefore, I started to change my morning habits bit by bit.

Do keep in mind that morning habits are different for everyone. For example, my morning habits usually take 120 minutes. Yes, that’s two hours. Knowing exactly how the first 120 minutes of my day looks like is powerful. It helps me feel in control, which in turn reduces anxiety and increases my productivity throughout the day.

Here are my top five morning habits to jump-start my brain towards success:


1. Remember Your Dreams

Often when you’re awake, you live your life through the everyday learning, facing challenges, and thinking about solutions and ideas in different aspects of your life. However, it’s not always the case that you find them in that exact moment of time.

So, when you’re asleep, your mind is still working on this search for solution and ideas. Did you know your dream could contain the very advice and insight you needed? Most of us don’t remember our dreams or don’t make the effort to remember them. When dreams are properly interpreted, they bring guidance to achieve what may seem impossible in the first place.


2. Brush Teeth With Your Non-Dominant Hand

This one is fun and challenging. Try to use your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth. You will notice it is harder to be precise with your movements. When I first started to brush my teeth with my non-dominant (right) hand, it was hard to move my hand instead of my head.

Here is why it helps you jump-start your brain: Your brain is an organ that improves through mental stimulation, which adapts and rewires itself non-stop through the growth of new neurons.

Therefore, by using your non-dominant hand will support neural connections in your brain, and even grow new ones. Basically, it is similar to how physical exercise improves your body’s functioning and grows muscles.


3. Drink Up To Two Glasses Of Water

The recommended nightly sleep of six to eight hours is a long period to go without drinking water. Hydration is a must when it comes to daily productivity because your brain is made up of 73% water. So, staying hydrated is critical for maintaining optimal brain activity. Of course, it is a daylong process, but starting with a glass or two of water right away is a step in the right direction.

One of the biggest underestimated indicators of weariness or low energy is that you are dehydrated. Water helps in both body regulation and brain function. Also, it is closely related to balancing out our moods.


4. Hit The Gym

A recent study published in the journal Neurology: Clinical Practice suggests: “Exercise affects the brain in a variety of different ways, from preserving the brain’s nerve network that starts to decline with age, to boosting the function of neurons and improving blood flow to brain cells, as well as promoting the production of growth factors to help cells involved in higher level thinking tasks.”

Therefore, living an active lifestyle with regular physical activities greatly helps to keep every bit of tissues in your brain as young and active as those throughout the rest of your body. In fact, it seems to help slow or even reverse the brain’s physical degeneration over time.


5. Eat Healthy Brain Food Breakfast

Eating a healthy breakfast can jump-start your brain and boost your productivity and focus throughout the morning. Try combining these five “brain foods” in your morning meal to give yourself a mental edge.

  • Blueberries — These tiny berries are packed full of antioxidants that protect your brain from oxidative stress and reduce inflammation, helping to improve cognition and memory.

You can be creative in how you combine these five brain foods. Whatever you do, don’t skip breakfast, even if you’re short on time. By skipping a healthy breakfast, you might save some time but at the cost of your creativity, as well as problem-solving ability. So, head to the kitchen before heading out the door in the morning. Your brain will thank you.

  • What is your current morning habit?

How to Be Healthier While Traveling

These tips will help you maintain your wellness routine when on the road.

Just because you're traveling doesn't mean you have to fall off the health-and-wellness wagon.

 

Travel is a tree that bears many fruits. Under the right circumstances, it can be good for your business, your store of experiences, your relationships, your soul… One thing travel isn’t always good for, however, is your body, which can suffer at the hands of jet lag, dehydration and bad airport food, to name just a few of the many health-related challenges travelers face every day.

Here’s the bright side: Many business travelers know that wellness can be elusive when they’re on the road, so they’re committed to being healthier in spite of the many obstacles they face.

So finds new research published this week by travel-management platform CWT. Based on a survey of more than 2,700 frequent business travelers from around the globe, it found that 42 percent of them work hard to adhere to their health and wellness routines when they’re traveling. Likewise, 38 percent of business travelers say they eat healthier while on the road, and 26 percent that they work out more when they travel. Only 7 percent say they do not maintain their health and wellness routines when they’re away from home.

“Maintaining healthy habits while traveling is nearing the top of the priority list for travelers around the world,” Niklas Andréen, CWT’s chief traveler experience officer, said in a statement.

Just because being healthy on the road is important to travelers, however, doesn’t mean that it’s easy for them. In fact, sometimes it’s downright hard. Here are five tips that will make it just a little bit easier:

1. Drink up (water, that is)

The first and most important rule of healthy travel is to stay hydrated — especially when you’re flying. “Staying hydrated is always important, traveling or not. However, it should be the first thing on your mind when you travel, especially if you’re on an airplane, because the humidity inside the cabin is lower than normal. Your body will also be acclimating to a new climate, and between finding your way around and enjoying your trip drinking water can be easily forgotten,” nutritionist Elizabeth Rider notes in a post on her blog, in which she recommends finding a convenience store at your destination and purchasing at least 60 ounces of water for each day that you’re traveling. “Dehydration can cause headaches, fatigue and loads of other issues. It can also cause hunger, so bottoms up!”

Travel writer Shivani Vora also sings water’s praises. “This simple tip helps with everything from dehydration to constipation to overcoming jet lag,” she says in an article for the New York Times. “Since you’re likely to get busier as the day goes on and may forget to drink, try starting your day by drinking 16 ounces.”

2. Premeditate your meals

If you leave your diet to chance while you’re traveling, you’re almost guaranteed to fall off the wagon. If healthy eating is important to you, you should plan as many of your meals as possible — just like you would at home.

Start with road snacks, which you should prepare ahead of time and pack in your luggage, advises Vora. “Since healthy food can be scarce and expensive when you’re away from home, it’s a good idea to pack your own,” she says. “Take a portable, collapsible cooler, and fill it with healthy … meals.”

If that sounds impractical, at least pack a few snacks. “You don’t have to bring your entire pantry, just grab a piece of fruit that keeps well (apple, banana, orange), some almond butter, your own healthy trail mix and/or a good-quality, low-sugar bar,” Rider advises. “These types of healthy snacks will tide you over in a pinch and can prevent you from needing that pastry at the airport.”

Before you get to your destination, Rider continues, research restaurants and their menus so you know ahead of time where you can go for a healthy meal. Also, locate a grocery near your hotel. “Find the nearest market or grocery store to grab some fruit or fresh food,” she says. “Dining out is a wonderful part of the travel experience, but try to have one meal a day from the grocery store. Think whole/real foods like fruits, veggies, nuts and salads.”

Planning should even encompass room service, author Harley Pasternak says in a blog post for fitness-tracker company Fitbit. “Regardless of where in the world you might be visiting, many hotels offer a North American-style breakfast,” Pasternak writes. “In some cases, you can order your breakfast the night before — doing this will ensure that you’re making smarter decisions, and it also acts as a wake-up call. Generally, options like scrambled eggs, or an omelet with veggies and a side of fruit, are available no matter where you are in the world.”

3. Keep it moving

If diet is one side of the healthy-travel equation, exercise is the other. Fortunately, there are many easy ways to get the blood pumping while you’re on the road, according to Vora. For example, she says, try walking up a flight of stairs two steps at a time for a total of 20 repetitions. Or, when you use the toilet, add 10 extra reps of sitting down and standing up — which might feel silly, but will nonetheless make you feel the burn. If you have free time between meetings, she also recommends doing “active sightseeing.”

“A growing number of destinations around the world have bike-share programs that visitors can take advantage of. Bikes are a fantastic way to explore a city … Rely on these two-wheelers as your primary mode of transport and ride yours to drop-off locations that are near sights you want to visit,” advises Vora, who also suggests taking walking tours. “Almost every city around the world offers a range of walking tours, whether you’re interested in history, culture, drinking, food or architecture … You can also look at guidebooks or travel sites for suggested walking tours, and pick a different one for each day.”

Stretching can be just as important as exercise, according to UT Health Austin, a health-care practice that’s administered by the University of Texas at Austin. “Sitting in the same position for hours on end … on the plane stiffens your joints and muscles and can lead to all sorts of aches and pains during your trip,” it says in a post on its blog. “Try to get up and take a walk or stretch out your arms, legs, neck and back at least once every hour to increase blood flow and to feel more refreshed. It’s easy to sneak in some neck and shoulder rolls, back twists and leg stretches while you’re sitting [or] waiting in line.”

4. Choose a healthy hotel

The right accommodations can make a big difference in travelers’ ability to exercise and eat well. For that reason, Rider recommends short-term rentals over hotels when possible “Consider renting a condo or apartment with a kitchen instead of staying at a hotel,” she says. Preparing a few of your own meals in a kitchen, especially breakfast, will help you stay on track.”

Of course, plenty of hotels offer in-room kitchens and kitchenettes. And most have amenities that can help you adhere to your fitness routine. CWT’s survey, for example, found that 49 percent of business travelers use hotels’ fitness centers to maintain their wellness routines, that 40 percent of them use hotels’ swimming pools and that 27 percent of them use in-room fitness equipment that hotels supply. Looking for properties that offer these and other wellness features — a lap pool, a yoga studio, group fitness classes, a spa and/or in-room Peloton bikes, just to name a few — ensures you’ll have ample and convenient access to fitness activities.

5. Get your Zs

At home and on the road, the final piece of the health puzzle is sleep, according to lifestyle blogger Diane Nassy.

“Sleep is essential to our health and well-being,” Nassy writes in a blog post for car-rental company Alamo. “Research has revealed that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as the common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick. So, getting proper sleep is very important before and during your travels.”

Nassy recommends packing a travel pillow and earplugs or noise-canceling headphones to help you sleep on the plane. In your hotel room, meanwhile, eliminating light can help, according to Rider. “Just like when you’re at home, a dark sleep space with no extra light will help you get better rest,” she says. “Turn the alarm clock light off or unplug it, and use a towel under the door if light is pouring in from the hallway. Eye masks look funny, but if all else fails use one. Any light in your sleep space can disrupt your good night’s sleep.”

Are your expectations getting the best of you?

Are your expectations getting the best of you?

When my wife and I were first married, we went to meet with a counselor to learn some strategies for improving our relationship. I will never forget his advice after hearing both of us talk about our challenges.

He said, “You both need to do a better job of managing your ‘expect-or’.” Never having heard the term before, I asked him, “What do you mean by that?”

He quickly replied, “Life is a lot easier if you don’t have any expectations.”

Just as quickly, I vehemently disagreed. I thought, “How can you be in relationship with someone and not have any expectations?”

Since that time, I have learned that what our counselor said was true. I have discovered that many of our personal and professional frustrations stem from violated expectations, particularly those which we have not clearly identified or communicated to others.

Here are a number of expectations that may create problems in your working relationships with others if you are not giving them your attention.

1. Expectation of awareness

Often we don’t realize that we haven’t identified our expectations, nor have we distinctly communicated them, until we get different results than what we expected. When this happens, it is necessary to take a look at what we expected and determine if we clearly communicated our desires.

If you are in doubt, then you have no one to blame for your unmet expectations but yourself. We assume that others are aware of what we expect, but often they aren’t. Sometimes we become so busy or distracted that we fail to make others specifically aware of what we want.

2. Expectation that others read my mind

Because our thoughts and feelings about something seem obvious to us, we presume that they are to others as well. We figure if people know us and are tuned in, they should know what is needed without it being spelled out. Making these types of assumptions is a recipe for miscommunication and frustration.

3. Expectation of clear communication

When we take the time to tell people what we want, we suppose that they clearly understand what was communicated. Differences in communication style, life experience, education, age, various levels of authority, etc. mean that we might not understand each other in the same way. There are too many variables to assume understanding without being specific and allowing for clarifying questions.

4. Expectation of similar performance

We each have a level of performance and ability we are accustomed to achieving. It is common to expect people to perform exactly the way that we would. If you haven’t clearly explained how something should be done, you can’t assume that others will do it the way that you would.

5. Expectation of job satisfaction

Attaining job satisfaction rests with both the manager and the employee. Each is dependent upon the other to meet their expectations. The manager has the responsibility to meet the expectations of the employee. The employee is also required to meet the expectations of the manager.

If neither party has ever explored one another’s expectations, then it is entirely possible that neither party’s expectations will ever be met. So much for job satisfaction.

6. Expectation of engagement

Managers may expect employees to take responsibility for improving their engagement, while employees may expect that managers will take responsibility for their disengagement. When this happens, each party may be silently waiting for the other to meet their expectations. Meanwhile, nothing happens.

7. Expectation of infallibility

We would like to think that we are above making missteps. Because we are all different, you can trust that your expectations will be violated, plus you will sometimes not meet someone else’s expectations. The likelihood of difficulties will dramatically decrease as we discuss our expectations of others. Expectations are often held, but not communicated. Therein lies the problem.

8. Expectation of competence

Because we assume that no news is good news, we expect that the absence of negative feedback means that we are doing a good job or that our manager is satisfied with our performance. We may also assume if we don’t hear about problems from our direct reports, that all is well. Given that people are generally afraid to talk about what matters most, if you want feedback, you had better ask for it. If you don’t ask, you may never know.

9. Expectation of vision

You can’t expect that people want the same things or want to achieve the same goals. Working on the same project or having specific goals does not mean that both parties hold a mutual vision or purpose. The vision needs to be clearly identified and both parties need to understand how each contributes to the achievement of the mutual goal.

10. Expectation of why

Just because your expectations are clear doesn’t mean that people will understand the reasons behind what you are asking them to do. You want to be clear about the why to increase motivation and expand another’s purpose.

11. Expectation of priorities

You can’t expect others to know your priorities nor can you expect to know another’s priorities if you haven’t clearly communicated. Knowing how frequently they change, it is important to revisit priorities frequently if you expect your efforts to contribute to the desired results.

12. Expectation of need

We often presume to know what others need based on our expectations and experiences. If we don’t communicate with them, we may not be supporting them in the areas they need to achieve our expectations. Failure to meet an individual’s needs in areas such as resources, support, education and development may limit their success.

13. Expectation of feedback

Whether you are a leader, manager or employee, you generally cannot expect people to give you unsolicited feedback. Often the higher up the organization you are, the more difficult it is for people to want to provide feedback. So if you want feedback, you need to ask for it. When you receive it, listen for factual specifics or examples, and if you don’t get any, then you need to ask. Feedback is often hard to come by, so when you receive it, be grateful and express appreciation, then look for actionable items that can help you improve.

These are some examples of the kinds of expectations that may limit our success. Taking the time to clearly identify your expectations, communicate them to others and check that you have been understood will improve your relationships and your ability to achieve the desired results.

Focusing on “We” Instead of “Me”

Getting your first leadership role is exciting, isn’t it? There’s the office with your name on the door. Being invited to meetings once closed off and mysterious. Getting to make the big decisions. People asking for your advice.

Heady stuff that sends the wrong message to people who think being a leader is all about them.

Being a leader is a little bit about you, but mostly it’s all about others.

One of my first bosses told me that it would be impressive performance metrics and my contribution to the bottom line that would determine my success. It took a while before I understood that his advice about results was only partially right. Managing just to the numbers only gets you so far.

A few epic fails highlighted the reality that results don’t miraculously deliver themselves. They’re delivered by people. Treat people well, they deliver—and everyone succeeds. Treat people like crap and, well, results falter.

Listening with the eyes and the heart, not just the ears and the brain, requires a deeper level of paying attention and understanding. It requires we hear the heart and soul. ~Kouzes and Posner, The Leadership Challenge

My way of describing the inclusive reality Kouzes and Posner defined was leading with your heart and managing with your head.

Inclusive leaders know the value of balancing opposing goods, rather than labeling one right and the other wrong. Inclusive leaders deliver results and maintain relationships. They watch both the bottom line as well as employee satisfaction and engagement. They think about today and five years from now.

How do inclusive leaders pull off this balancing act?

They are curious.

One boss I had worked very hard to fulfill the unrealistic expectation that he had every answer. Two sentences into describing a problem to him, and he had the solution—without bothering to ask a single question. Other bosses of mine had the inclusive thing down pat. They were knowledgeable and knew where to go to find answers to what they didn’t know. They openly asked questions, invited debate, poked holes in the status quo, and encouraged those around them to do the same.

They trust.

That know-it-all-boss-with-zero-curiosity didn’t realize it, but he was conveying to his team that they were without skills, knowledge, and the ability to figure things out for themselves. Inclusive leaders surround themselves with bright, inquisitive people and trust them to do their job.

They explain.

At one company, my boss assigned me the project of improving customer service. When I asked for specifics, he told me that since I had to ask, I obviously wasn’t as smart as he had thought I was. Because he couldn’t or wouldn’t or both clarify his expectations, my finished project didn’t please him, and everyone lost.

They listen.

Organizational development and management consultant Peter Drucker said, “The most important thing in communications is hearing what isn’t said.” Employees perceive reality through their own filters, values, and biases. Deeply, empathically, and actively listening to what employees say—and don’t say—enables inclusive leaders to expand their perspectives, thus entertaining diversity of thought, opinion, and experience.

They care.

Years ago, a woman told me her boss treated her no differently than the file cabinet in the corner—both utilitarian objects there to do a job. Isn’t that a sad story? Inclusive leaders keep both logic and emotion in their management toolkits. They know both are necessary for success, satisfaction, and engagement over the long-term.

Our mind is capable of passing beyond the dividing line we have drawn for it. Beyond the pairs of opposites of which the world consists, other, new insights begin. ~Hermann Hesse, poet and novelist

If asked, would those around you describe you as being curious, someone they trusted, a thorough explainer, a good listener, and a leader who cares about them as a person? Would they say you’re inclusive and can balance opposing goods? Ready to find out?

10 Things Exceptionally Successful People Do on the Weekends

10 Things Exceptionally Successful People Do on the Weekends

It is one thing to be successful and it is another thing to be exceptionally successful. But to attain a high level of success, you have to be willing to put in the work. Because the theme of the modern-day careerist is this: How do you get more done in less time?

So while a lot of people see the weekend as a time to hang out and relax, exceptionally successful people have a different idea of how Saturdays and Sundays should be spent. Here is how they spend their weekends to set the tone for a week of crazy productive work.

1. They wake up early.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is said to wake up at 3:45 a.m. every morning. Including on weekends. It’s wrong to assume because it’s the weekend, you need to stay in bed until midday. Successful people still get up early because they know time is precious and shouldn’t be wasted, no matter what day it is.

2. They read.

You cannot negate the power of reading. Eimantas Balciunas, CEO of Travel Ticker, says, “Reading and staying abreast on what happens in the travel industry puts me in a position to discover those things the competition apparently may have ignored!” By reading and expanding your knowledge, even and especially on weekends, you are better informed to approach your tasks for the week.

3. They spend time to reflect.

As Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” And successful people follow that philosophy, using the weekends to look back at what worked and what didn’t. By reflecting on your week, you can focus on the improvements you need to make on Monday.

4. They make time to pursue their interests.

Successful people know that chasing success shouldn’t mean they have to forget their favorite hobbies. The weekend offers you the opportunity to be creative, whatever it is you like to do most in your spare time.

5. They give something back.

Alexey Chuklin, founder and CEO of Write!, says, “I can use the weekend to give back by showing I am a part of a community.” And in the book Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals, author Thomas C. Corley discovered that 70 percent of successful people give back at least five hours every month.

Related: 16 Rich Habits

6. They disconnect.

Successful people know they have to carve out downtime where they put away phones and don’t check emails. The weekend is the most ideal time to seek a break, even if it’s a small one.

7. They connect with their family.

Weekdays might not offer busy successful people enough time to spend with their family and friends. So the weekend can be the opportune time to catch up.

8. They stay in shape.

Exercising can be refreshing. Not only does it strengthen your mind, it gives you the opportunity to clear your head and embrace fresh ideas for the new week.

9. They build momentum.

Successful people don’t settle for average. They are always focused on excellence by keeping up the momentum. The weekend is a good time to put things in perspective and gain clarity, to refocus on your most important goals.

10. They plan for the upcoming week.

Twitter’s Jack Dorsey has an insane work ethic—he works 16 hours Monday through Friday. But he makes sure his schedule allows him to take off Saturdays, and he uses his Sundays to plan for the upcoming week.

How do you spend your weekends?

11 things unsuccessful people do over the weekend

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Everybody’s working for the weekend, but how you spend your two days off may say something about how successful you are.

What you get up to doesn’t really matter, per se. If you prefer lounging around the house to spontaneous adventures, that’s great! You probably need that time to wind down.

But when it comes to weekends, the main thing that separates successful people from unsuccessful people is mindfulness.

Are you planning ahead and truly thinking about how to spend your free time?

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Here are 11 things that unsuccessful people tend to do over the weekend — and why you should avoid them:

They forget to schedule

Not every minute of every hour of your weekend needs to be planned out, but it’s good to have a general idea of what you’d like to do or get done — even if you’re just scheduling downtime.

That’ll allow you to protect your time, and maybe even schedule in some fun events.

They ignore loved ones

It can be hard to make time for the ones you care about during the hectic week. Make up for that over the weekend.

They let technology take over

Put away your phone. Shut off your work email — and make it clear to your coworkers that you won’t be responding. Don’t get addicted to technology.

They forget to unwind

Whether you’re unwinding alone or going out with friends, make sure to do something that makes you happy during your time off.

They sleep the entire time

Maybe you drank too much on Friday and are recovering. Maybe you’re just super tired. Either way, this could really mess up your sleep cycle, and you probably need to fix that.

They rack up expenses

You pinch pennies all week, and then blow it all over the weekend.

Heck, you should treat yourself every once in a while. That being said, if you’re overspending on the weekends on frivolities that you don’t need, then it’s time to consider some cheap but fun options, like staycations or free local events.

They avoid taking time to reflect

During your busy week, it can be difficult to snag some time to just think about your life and goals. It’s important to check in with yourself every once in a while.

They aren’t present

On Fridays, it’s a great idea to set out an agenda for the next Monday. Being prepared is great; being a workaholic is not. Kick back and relax a bit on Saturday and Sunday!

They laze around and regret it

Chilling out over the weekend is definitely a great way to unwind. But if your slothfulness is making you bored or bummed out — or causing you to neglect important errands and chores — then you may want to rethink how you spend your Saturdays and Sundays.

They’re stressed out

At the other end of the spectrum are people who pack too much into their weekend schedule.

In order to be productive (and therefore successful) at work, it’s important to use the weekend to recharge your batteries. If your weekends include zero downtime, then you’ll never feel rested or refreshed, which can be detrimental to your success.

They get too comfortable with the time off

Sunday nights are the perfect time to plan for the week ahead. You can make a to-do list, update or review your calendar, or just think about what it is you’d like to accomplish in the coming days.

 

Gratitude makes you happier, healthier, and more popular

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What does it mean to “give thanks?”

Well, it depends. It depends on who, where, when, and how.

If you were around in October 1621 at the Plimouth Plantation, you might have been part of the “First Thanksgiving”. Here, the Native Americans and Pilgrims came together to celebrate the first harvest in the New World.

The settlers had struggled the previous winter due to a lack of supplies and food. Many had starved or became ill and died as a result. Yet, a number survived. Massasoit, leader of the Wampanoag tribe, had given the colonists food to get through their first winter.

After the snow thawed, the Pilgrims gradually learned to live off the land. Squanto, from the Patuxet tribe, taught them how to grow corn and catch eel. After this successful harvest, they threw a three-day feast that included waterfowl, turkey, venison, corn, and various shellfish.

Although such festivities were held intermittently in the years since, Thanksgiving finally became a federal holiday in 1863, thanks to Abraham Lincoln. Since then, Thanksgiving has been celebrated in the U.S. on the fourth Thursday of every November.

Fast Forward to Gratitude Today

While roast turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce are staples for the Thanksgiving holiday today, how often do we really practice gratitude?

We complain about this and that. We get agitated when deciding what to wear if we’re not served right away at a restaurant, and after a store doesn’t stock our favorite brand of coffee. But is it a surprise, given we live in an age of abundance?

When it comes to our everyday needs and wants, we have variety right at our fingertips. We can have any type of food delivered right to our doorstep. Our phones ping notifications on today’s trending news. And if you’re looking for entertainment, just open up your internet browser. While these are all good things, we easily take what we have for granted.

People’s acts of kindness often go unrecognized. In many cases, the recipient fails to say a simple “thanks” or give any acknowledgment. In an everyday quest to get things done, people are consumed by their own lives and forget to take the time to thank others.

It seems as if the original intent behind that first Thanksgiving feast has been lost with time.

The Benefits of Gratitude

Both giving and receiving thanks are important. But in order to understand why we need to see the benefits.

There are three main benefits to being thankful:

1. Strengthening social relationships

Gratitude can help us befriend others, improve existing relationships, make amends, and recognize others’ good deeds. In romantic relationships, practicing gratitude for the little things can make all the difference. In one study, expressing gratitude towards the partner improved the relationship quality for both people.

Letting someone know that you’re grateful for the person’s actions, or simply for being in your life, can improve your relationship. It doesn’t matter whether the person is a stranger, friend, parent, relative, or whoever. Thanking others breeds positive feelings all around.

2. Improving our personal sense of well-being

In a study, one group of participants wrote about the things they were grateful for, a second group reflected on the daily things that irritated them, and a third group wrote about their week with neither a positive nor negative slant. 10 weeks later, the grateful group was more optimistic and happier about their lives, while the group that focused on negativity was more likely to visit the doctor.

Giving thanks is not only rewarding intrinsically, but it also helps us feel better about what we have. We’re more joyful overall. Even if you’re having a bad day or things don’t go the way you want, there are definitely some things that you have to be grateful for.

3. Maintaining good health

According to one study, gratitude is linked to the quality of your sleep. People who reflected on the positive things that happened in their day had a better night’s sleep than those who with a negative outlook.

The quality of your sleep is directly related to how you feel during the day and your overall health. Those who were less grateful were more stressed, anxious, and depressed. The opposite was true for those who were more grateful.

To sum it up, here’s a quote from the Wall Street Journal article “Thank You. No, Thank You” on how gratitude affects our lives:

“Adults who frequently feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections, and more happiness than those who do not, according to studies conducted over the past decade. They’re also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics.”

How to Practice Gratitude

Now that we’ve seen all the benefits of gratitude, we need to incorporate more of it into our lives Practicing gratitude can easily be done using these three ways:

1. Keep a gratitude journal

Jot down a few things you’re thankful for. Place a notebook on your bedside table so that it’s convenient. The best time of the day to write in your journal is right before sleeping. That way, you can reflect on everything that’s happened during the day and you get a happier night’s rest.

To start and end your day on a good note, try The Five Minute Journal.

Remember to be specific. Instead of writing that you’re “thankful for your friend”, think of a specific example, such as “my friend shared her own experiences with work conflict, which helped me navigate a similar situation.” Thinking of particular instances forces you to think hard about the good things that have happened.

2. When in doubt, say “thanks”

We often forget to thank people for the little things, such as lending a pen. Sometimes, we even forget to say “thanks” for the bigger things, such as gifts or loans. If you’re not sure what to say, a simple word of thanks does wonders in making the other person feel valued.

If you met someone interesting at a networking event or completed an academic course, reach out and send an email to the person to thank them for what they taught you. Opening up the lines of communication can lead to opportunities down the road.

3. Use positive phrases

When you’re faced with a dilemma, switch out those negative phrases for positive ones. For instance, I had a power outage that lasted for days. While it was definitely inconvenient, at least I had a chance to interact with people, free of electronics, and catch up on good old-fashioned books.

Whether something is a problem or an opportunity depends on how you look at it. And the way you look at things changes your mindset, attitude, and actions.

A Simple Act of “Thanks” Can Blossom into Something More

The Pilgrims held a feast to celebrate the promise of a bright future. They made it through a difficult winter and recognized how much they had to be thankful for. They saw a place where they and their descendants could thrive.

It’s interesting how such a simple, seemingly insignificant event would go on to become an important annual tradition. If only the Pilgrims who celebrated in those early days recognized the weight of their actions then.

Who knows what significant events can unfold from the small actions you perform today?

Getting Outside Is Good for Your Mental and Physical Health, According to New Study

Those who spent two hours a week outside reported improved mental and physical health.

Getting Outside Is Good for Your Mental and Physical Health, According to New Study

In case you needed even more of a reason to get into the Great Outdoors, a study published in Scientific Reports says that spending two hours in nature every week could provide a boost to your health. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this; in July 2018, Science Daily shared another report boasting the same idea. If you read no further, at least take away the moral of this story: Spending time in nature is always a good idea.

This new study took two groups — one that did not spend any time in nature and another that took advantage of residential green spaces (parks, beaches, and the woods) — and monitored them for seven days. Each participant reported back on the state of their mental and physical wellness at the end of the study. According to CNN, the researchers included feedback from more than 20,000 people in the UK. Of those who spent time outside, one in three polled reported that they felt dissatisfied and one in seven shared that they had poor health. Of the group who did not spend time outdoors, nearly half reported “low levels of life satisfaction,” and 25 percent reported they experienced poor health.

The demographics of the two groups spanned all walks of life. Mathew White, leader of the study at University of Exeter Medical School, shared some insight with CNN on the people studied: “We were worried our effect was just that healthier people visited nature but this finding suggested even people with known illnesses who did manage to get two hours a week in nature fared better.”

This isn’t knowledge that’s supposed to surprise you: It makes sense. Pull yourself out of your everyday environment and stresses and experience something bigger than yourself. In a world where forest bathing is a popular and respected activity, it’s never been easier to get out into nature.

10 Inspiring Quotes on Innovation

Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.

10 Inspiring Quotes on Innovation

You know the saying, “Nothing changes if nothing changes.” Well if nothing changes, we stay the same. We don’t grow. We don’t evolve. We don’t get better. And that’s not going to work—not for you, and not for the world. We need positive change. We need new ideas. We need progress. Read these quotes on innovation to inspire your next big idea and contribute to yourself and the greater good.

quotes on innovation

“The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.” –Arthur C. Clarke

“What is now proved was once only imagined.” –William Blake

quotes on innovation

“I want to put a ding in the universe.” –Steve Jobs
“Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.” –J.K. Rowling

quotes on innovation

“You can’t solve a problem on the same level that it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level.” –Albert Einstein
“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.” –Peter F. Drucker

quotes on innovation

“If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong.” –Charles Kettering
“Innovation is seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.” –Dr. Albert, Szent- Györgyi
quotes on innovation
“There’s a way to do it better – find it.” –Thomas A. Edison
“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” –William Pollard

The Best Beaches in Italy

There’s plenty to recommend Italy already: The rolling hills of Tuscany, the canals of Venice, the charm of Cinque Terre, the wine and food of…well, everywhere. After all, there’s a reason it’s consistently ranked among the most-visited countries in the world, with tourism revenue well into the twelve figures.  But add the incredible number and variety of beaches to the equation, and suddenly the country becomes a mandatory item on every traveler’s to-do list.

Ready to traverse the boot? Read on to start plotting the perfect itinerary. And if beach-hopping across Italy isn’t in your future, this list is still worth a look: these places are beautiful enough to cure even the most severe cases of Monday blues, mean reds, or winter doldrums. And after a few glimpses, you may find yourself tallying up your vacation days, scoping out your savings, and planning your next Italian excursion.

 

1) Acquafredda di Maratea Beach, Basilicata

Acquafredda di Maratea Beach, Basilicata

Six miles outside of the hamlet of Maratea, this rugged stretch of shoreline has the same blue water and dark gray sand of the Amalfi Coast, but it’s further north with none of the accompanying throngs of tourists. It’s a prime place for beachgoers in search of rustic beauty: In spite of neatly arranged sun loungers and beach umbrellas placed by local hotels, the rocky shoreline and cliffs jutting up on either side of the cove preserve the untamed feel of the area

2) Marina Grande Beach, Positano

 

Marina Grande Beach, Positano

As if the views of deep greenish-blue seas weren’t enough, the stacks of pastel houses hugging the cliffs make Positano’s main beach feel like something plucked from a midcentury postcard. With over 300 yards of dark sand—large swathes of it dedicated to tidily arranged rows of beach umbrellas and lounge chairs in Technicolor shades of orange and blue—this spot always feels open and roomy in spite of summer crowds. Start in town with a leisurely outdoor lunch overlooking the Mediterranean, then sleep off the limoncello buzz with a snooze on the sand.

3) Camogli Beach, Liguria

Camogli Beach, Liguria

Northwest Italy’s coastal towns tend to live in the shadow of the neighboring French Riviera, but that means beaches like Camogli’s have all the Mediterranean beauty with a fraction of the crowds you’ll find in Nice or St. Tropez.

The beach in this little fishing village is pebbly but picturesque—the ancient Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta is perched on a promontory at the harbor’s northern end, with mountains rising up behind it. This spot has something for every traveler: swimming lessons to keep the kids busy, beachside drink service for the laid-back crowd, and rowboats, canoe rentals, and diving lessons for the adventure-seekers.

 

4) Scalo Maestro, Marettimo

Scalo Maestro, Marettimo

Just off the western tip of Sicily, the island of Marettimo (population: 700) has the kind of wild beauty that gives every moment here a dreamlike quality. The tiny beach of Scalo Maestro is one of the few you can access from the shore, and its gentle slope and clear, calm waters are particularly swimmer- and snorkeler-friendly. Once you’ve had your fill of beach time, charter a boat for a tour of the island: it’s the only way to access Marettimo’s hidden sea caves. You can’t truly appreciate the magic of the Aegadian Islands until you’ve gone swimming in a sun-dappled Mediterranean grotto.

14) Lago di Braies, South Tyrol
Lago di Braies, South Tyrol
It may not be on the ocean, but this gem nestled in the Dolomites is guaranteed to satisfy beachgoers in search of beautiful scenery and a refreshing dip. The lake boasts clear, blue-green waters and white sand—a striking visual contrast to the dense pine forest and snow-dusted peaks that surround it. A day hike is the best way to see everything Lago di Braies has to offer: Pack your swimsuit, a towel, and a lunch, then venture out on the beginner-friendly footpath that circles the perimeter, pausing to picnic and swim at the first beach that suits your fancy. Be sure to stop at the Braies bungalow—built on stilts over the lake, it’s a cross between an alpine ski lodge and a Tahitian overwater cabana—for photo ops and rowboat rentals.
15) Scala dei Turchi, Sicily
Scala dei Turchi, Sicily
One of the most visually striking beaches in the world, Sicily’s Turkish Steps are a must-visit for aesthetic reasons alone. The bright white marlstone has been slowly eroded, creating a sloping staircase that leads right into the sea. Go at low tide for the best views, and wear sturdy shoes for the journey—the climb is not for the faint of heart. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, pack a flashlight and stay until the sun sets. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better visual than that of the cliffs awash in gold and silhouetted against a fiery sky.