5 Easy Steps to Gain Financial Freedom

Feeling anchored down by debt is defeating. You’ll have a hard time setting aside money into savings, purchasing your dream home or embarking on enthralling vacations. Instead of spending decades weighed down by debt, start working toward financial freedom now.

Assess the Situation

To begin, you must know where you are. Personal finances are like a bucket with holes: the money you earn is poured into the bucket and what you spend trickles out the bottom.

While most people know what they make, they are a bit hazier on where that money is going. They often don’t have much wiggle room on how much money is coming in, so the only thing that can be influenced is the flow of money out of that bucket.

Determining what you spend on is key to plugging up the holes. This will give you the freedom to spend that money on what’s more important to you. Little purchases add up very quickly and by assessing your situation, you’ll be able to identify where most of your money is going.

The realization you can get out of this could be both very surprising and enlightening. Many financial institutions can make tracking your spending habits easier through their online banking system. You’ll be able to categorize and filter by type of expenditure.

Create a Budget

budgeting

Once you know where your money is going, it’s time to analyze. Many people feel that creating a budget is a scary, insurmountable or difficult task. Some of them don’t even know how to make one.

Budgeting is merely creating a plan for how you’d like to spend your money in the future. It’s simply a process of deciding if what you spend is reasonable or superfluous. If there is an area you feel you might be overspending, you can cut back and allocate your financial resources to a different area. Maybe instead of spending so much on entertainment, you’d like to save for a trip.

There are many websites and apps designed to make budgeting easier. Most of these sites and apps are free. Budgets are highly personal and customizable, so make sure to create one that’s workable and sustainable for you and your circumstances. If it’s not, you won’t be able to stick to it and your budget will be pointless.

See Also: 5 Powerful Hacks To Help You Simplify Your Budget

Reassess

After about a month, reassess your spending to see if you are within your budget. Make adjustments to ensure your spending is not keeping you from your financial goals and that your budget is not unnecessarily restricting.

Financial discipline can be challenging, but it should be viewed as a tool to help you ultimately reach your financial goals. Skipping the step of reassessment will result in your budget’s failure. You can end up returning to your previous spending habits and neglecting your finances. You need to keep yourself accountable, but this doesn’t need to be negative.

Many people feel shame or guilt for not being able to stick to their budget, but it doesn’t need to be that way. If there’s a consistently large discrepancy between your spending and your budget, make some adjustments. Personalization is essential for a budget to work.

For example, if you realize that your spending estimate in a certain category, like food or fun, wasn’t very realistic, you can adjust your budget, spending or both. This adjustment is critical to your financial success.

Changing how you spend can be a difficult habit to break and changes usually occur slowly, so don’t get frustrated if it’s taking a while. Continue to reassess every month or two to ensure progress.

Meet with a Professional

Trying to handle a mountain of debt alone might leave you feeling more frustrated than when you began. Many financial institutions offer professional financial counseling with little or no cost to you. They can assist you in creating and sticking to a budget as well as in identifying a course of action that will be helpful for your financial future, such as how to repair or build your credit score. They can also assist you in finding other options you might not be aware of, like refinancing a loan to get a lower interest rate or payment.

Speaking with a professional can help you to gain a heightened understanding of what your specific struggles are and how to overcome them. An outside perspective, especially one from a financial consultant, can help you develop the right approach.

Address Credit Card Usage

credit card usage

While credit cards are not inherently bad, they are also not right for everyone. Some people have difficulty controlling spending with credit cards since a card is so easy to swipe. They can get into the habit of mindless swiping until the card is declined.

Fixing this requires a shift in mindset. You need to restrict yourself to make purchases only if there is sufficient cash available in your bank account to afford the expenditure. Knowing yourself is crucial in developing financial health and if credit cards are too much of a temptation to overspend, then perhaps they are not for you. It might be best to stick to debit cards or cash.

The best way to use credit cards is to pay them off by the due date every month, which prevents a rollover balance the next month. This will avoid interest and late charges. By paying them off monthly, you can basically use the card for free. Automating your payment can make it effortless and ensure you don’t pay extra.

If you still have debt you’re working to pay off, experts recommend paying off the card with the highest balance first. Also worth considering is checking to see if you qualify for a lower interest rate or if you can transfer your balance from a higher interest card to a lower interest card.

However, beware of extra fees that could be charged by doing this and make sure you are aware of all the terms. Keep in mind how your credit score will be affected if you decide to apply for interest rate changes. Ask a professional consultant specific questions about what would be best for you in your current circumstances.

See Also: 4 Ways to Start Building Great Credit

In Summary

Managing finances doesn’t have to be overwhelming or intimidating. Support is available whether through speaking with an expert or utilizing websites and apps. Living within your means and sticking to a budget can allow you to keep your “bucket” full. Much like physical healthy living, financial health and independence require effort, but it pays off and can enable you to live more freely.

The post 5 Easy Steps to Gain Financial Freedom appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

http://ift.tt/2wu47gE

Sophie Nguyen Architects Designed a Wonderful Remodel in a House Located in Kensington, London

This spectacular house is located in the beautiful Oxford Gardens conservation area in North Kensington, in London, England. It was redesigned by the architectural firm Sophie Nguyen Architects in 2013, creating a space where functionality and a classic style are balanced, getting an excellent final solution, as expected by the owners. The new annex building had to keep the harmony with the style of the old house, and also keep..

More…

Le Moulin du Roc – Romantic French Hotel Dating from the Seventeenth Century

This charming French country side hotel – Le Moulin du Roc, built on the site of a seventeenth century stone mill, has some marvelous gardens, pathways, footbridges, and romantic staircases, which seem like something taken out of a fairy tale. They’re so beautiful that they don’t seem real, and yet they are, and a good thing too, as they are one of the most important and attractive features of this..

More…

How To Become A Social Media Influencer

Celebrity endorsements are nothing new. Even as far back as the 1700s, the Royal Family was singing the praises of Josiah Wedgwood’s pottery. To this day, Wedgwood is still a household name.

Building a brand takes a lot of work and until very recently, the best way a brand could build a customer base was by paying a celebrity to endorse a product. This created a shortcut to word-of-mouth advertising as a celebrity served as a stand-in for all the small person-to-person recommendations that would ordinarily be used to build buzz around a brand.

There was a time when people trusted celebrities, but that time has passed. Now people rely on regular people to give them recommendations about goods and services. This has led to a rise in a brand-new phenomenon: the social media influencer.

Social media influencers have a few common traits

social media influencer

  • The social media influencer is a person who was not famous initially but may become famous.
  • It is a person who built a social media following around a particular topic over time.
  • Influencers are typically seen as more authentic and trustworthy than celebrities.
  • Influencers are more likely to interact with their audience than celebrities.

Whereas celebrities are handed down from Hollywood and we don’t generally get much choice about which ones become or stay famous, social media has given rise to a new democratic way to decide who gets to become famous. Influencers aren’t made famous by being discovered by Hollywood – they become famous by being genuine and building up a following over time.

This, of course, means that you can set out to become an influencer as a job. That’s right. The next time your mom tells you that you are spending too much time on your phone, you can tell her that you are working on your next career as a social media influencer.

See Also: The Millennials’ Mania Over Social Media

Here’s how to get started

be a social media influencer

Decide what you are passionate and knowledgeable about and start building your following online within that community. If the community does not yet exist, all the better- that means you get to guide it!

Stay authentic and always interact with others when possible.

Once you have built a significant following on a topic, look for brands in that space that may be open to influencer marketing. Pitch them an idea on how you would market their product on social media.

Of course, it’s not a traditional career path and it is constantly changing. This means you will need to be able to change directions whenever you discover something isn’t working.

When social media influencers first came on the scene a little over a decade ago there were basically no rules. That meant that you could take a payment to say something nice about a brand or a company and never have to disclose it. These days, there are rules in place that prevent that from happening.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wants to make sure that viewers know when they are seeing an advertisement. This is why when you are scrolling through twitter, you will often see #ad or #sponsored. Influencers must make it clear when they are in a contract with a company or with a brand so that there is no confusion about the fact money has changed hands.

Following the rules is only one part of the equation, though. You also have to remain authentic and believable in order for your services to be viable as a form of advertising. One of the major changes that has taken place over the evolution of social media influencers is that advertisers are no longer moved to write a check based on your follower count – they are looking for actual quantifiable results. That means you will have to be able to turn your Instagram #ad posts into an actual pipeline for sales.

See Also: Five Easy Ways To Make Money From Social Media

As you embark on your new career as a social media influencer, remember to be authentic and to always follow the rules. Nearly three quarters of teens think that YouTubers are more relatable than celebrities, and 88% of people trust online recommendations as much as in person ones. There’s a lot of room for the role of the social media influencer to grow. How will you take advantage of the evolution of the social media influencer ?

The post How To Become A Social Media Influencer appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

http://ift.tt/2vk4wgv

Lamplight Voyage: the Magic of Jules Verne

“You will travel through a world of marvels!” –Captain Nemo

Baudelaire’s great poem “Le Voyage” opens with the image of a child, happily daydreaming over maps and pictures. “How large is the world when seen by lamplight!” Baudelaire doesn’t mention books, but I always imagine that nineteenth-century boy or girl lying on the floor with an oversized Hetzel edition of Jules Verne, its sumptuous covers decorated with elephants and airships and, inside, page after page of evocative, black-and-white steel engravings.

Baudelaire actually wrote a few years before Verne launched his astonishing career — Five Weeks in a Balloon appeared in 1863 — but French children were soon growing up on his Voyages Extraordinaires or “Fantastic Journeys.” As it happens, so did I.

One of the first “grown-up” books I read on my own was a Scholastic paperback of Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), and it enchanted me as much as the Sherlock Holmes adventure The Hound of the Baskervilles or H. Rider Haggard’s African quest-romance, King Solomon’s Mines. I later went on to discover both Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870) and its sort-of sequel, The Mysterious Island (1875). The latter had to be reserved at the library, and by the time I was able to check it out my excitement was such that I devoured it in three days.

We now know that Verne’s editor and publisher, Jules Hetzel, exercised close, indeed restrictive, control over his star author’s texts. Most of Verne’s work first appeared in serial form in a magazine for young people — Le Magasin d’Éducation et de Récréation — and Hetzel didn’t want to offend any bourgeois parents with sex, politics, or controversial material. He made Verne alter entire sections of his books, when he didn’t meddle with them himself. In the case of Twenty Thousand Leagues, he even compelled Verne to adjust his conception of its main character. Originally, Captain Nemo was to be a Pole whose family had been slaughtered by the Russians and who, consequently, took his revenge by sinking that country’s ships. In the version that we read today, Nemo’s background is kept tantalizingly enigmatic, and we don’t learn the rationale behind his moodiness and restless traversal of the depths until the very end of the book (and even then, further revelations occur in The Mysterious Island).

Even now many people know the plot of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, if only from the enjoyable but Disney-lite film version starring James Mason, Kirk Douglas, Paul Lukas, and Peter Lorre. Relatively faithful to the novel, that 1954 movie didn’t feature a single woman. Five years later, though, a cinematic treatment of Journey to the Center of the Earth — also very entertaining — would take the original’s male trio and invent a ruthless rival explorer and a female love interest. Its blithely cavalier attitude to a classic sadly conforms to a long tradition of Verne bowdlerizations, mistranslations, and abridgments. Even the edition of Journey that I read as a boy is notoriously bad, going so far as to change the professor-hero’s name from Lidenbrock to — of all things — Hardwigg.

Happily, most of the major Verne titles, as well as several underappreciated but powerful ones, such as The Begum’s Millions (1879) and The Self-Propelled Island (1895), are now available in reliable English versions from Oxford World’s Classics, the University of Nebraska Press, Penguin Classics, Wesleyan University Press, and BearManor Media. Of recent English translations of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, William Butcher’s Oxford World’s Classics edition stands out because of its suite of illuminating endnotes, but David Coward’s new Penguin arrives as a sturdy hardcover, with reproductions — albeit rather fuzzy ones — of many of the original engravings. Coward doesn’t always stick quite as close to the original as Butcher, but he carries the reader smoothly along. He begins the novel this way:

The year 1866 was marked by a strange occurrence, an unexplained and indeed inexplicable phenomenon which surely no one can have forgotten . . . The fact of the matter was that, for some time past, various ships at sea had encountered a long cigar-shaped object which could at times be phosphorescent and was infinitely larger and faster than a whale.

The steamship Abraham Lincoln is commissioned — by concerned insurance companies, of course — to hunt down this monster with the help of the French marine biologist Pierre Aronnax, his Flemish servant and assistant Conseil (whose genius for taxonomic classification is obsessive-compulsive), and the celebrated Canadian harpooner Ned Land. When the Abraham Lincoln finally locates what it supposes to be a supersized “narwhal,” the creature jolts the ship and sends two huge waves across its decks, and these three experts on sea life are swept overboard.

Instead of drowning, they find themselves clinging to a metallic hull just as a hatch opens, and they are hustled down into a strange vessel’s interior. There, after a period of isolation, the trio meets Captain Nemo, the builder and master of the Nautilus, a seventy-meter-long submarine powered by electricity generated from seawater. Nemo — from the Latin for “nobody” — has turned his back on society and the land, determined to fulfill all his needs from the ocean’s bounty. His age is somewhere between thirty-five and fifty, and he appears to Aronnax as “the most perfect specimen of manhood I ever came across.” His wide-set eyes could search distant horizons or “see into your soul.”

The Nautilus proves to be a remarkable vessel, in multiple ways, with a largely invisible, international crew that speaks its own shipboard lingua franca. (In real life Verne championed Esperanto as a universal language.). On the inside, much of the submarine resembles an exclusive gentleman’s club, complete with a library of 12,000 volumes and a small art gallery, as well as an organ, upon which the multitalented Nemo plays his own melancholy compositions.

Wishing to keep knowledge of the Nautilus secret, its dark-skinned commander makes clear that his three “guests” can never return to the outside world. As the author of The Mysteries of the Great Ocean Depths (which Nemo has read), Aronnax quickly recognizes that he has been granted a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study marine life close up. Conseil, the perfect gentleman’s gentleman, lives only to serve his master. But for Ned Land, a man of action, the lack of freedom grates. He soon dreams of escape.

When I reread the book earlier this summer, I remembered nearly all its most dramatic scenes from my first encounter with the novel half a century ago: the underwater cemetery, the coconut-sized pearl, the tunnel to the Mediterranean, Nemo’s visit to Atlantis, the disaster in the Antarctic ice, the giant squids, the ramming of the warship, and the Nautilus‘s uncertain fate in the swirling waters of the Maelstrom.

Yet exciting as these chapters (and others) are, they pale before the romantic grandeur of Captain Nemo himself, this man with no name, a Byronic wanderer who tells us that he loves only liberty, music, and the sea. Noble-hearted and ecologically minded, he financially supports freedom fighters, refuses any gratuitous slaughter of animals, and scorns Aronnax, Conseil, and Land for looking down on tropic islanders as “savages”: “Where aren’t there savages? Are they any worse than other men, the local natives you call savages?” Yet Nemo also attacks ships with the suddenness of a modern terrorist. Are the Turks, American slavers, the Russians or the British his actual enemy? Or does he hate the whole world? He coldly informs Aronnax, “I am not what you call a civilized man. I have cut off all relations with the whole of society for reasons which I alone am entitled to judge. So I do not obey its rules and I insist you undertake never to refer to them in my presence.”

Throughout, Verne’s novel emphasizes the abundant richness of life in the sea — and yet its pages are regularly darkened with images of death. At one point Nemo declares: “I, professor, am dead, as dead as any of your friends who are at rest six feet underground.” On several occasions, the captain guides Aronnax on underwater treks like Virgil conducting Dante through the afterlife. At one point the Nautilus sails by a recently sunken ship, and Aronnax observes on its deck, held fast by ropes, a drowned woman, young and pretty, and her baby: “With one supreme effort, she had raised her child above her head, a poor little thing whose arms still clung around its mother’s neck!” To me, the pathos of this maternal gesture makes for the most moving sentence in the entire book, but also one we are meant to remember, for it forms part of a pattern. After sperm whales are attacked by an enemy species, Verne again pauses over a dead mother: “From the end of its ravaged fin still hung a small calf which it had not been able to save from the massacre.” Both these images will be echoed a third time, when Aronnax and the reader discover the tragic reason why Captain Nemo roams the seas.

Meanwhile, as the Nautilus travels toward the then undiscovered South Pole, its journey grows increasingly visionary, calling to mind the death-in-life realm of Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” Verne depicts the Antarctic landscape in terms of the romantic sublime:

Of the sea, meaning unfrozen water, we could see nothing. In front of the bow of the Nautilus extended a vast, broken plain, a litter of jumbled ice blocks . . . Here and there were pointed peaks like slender needles rising 200 feet into the air; while further off a series of sheer cliffs, darkened by areas of grey, acted like enormous mirrors reflecting back the few rays of the sun which pierced the mist. And over this scene of desolate nature hung a fierce silence . . .

Even when trapped by the ice, Captain Nemo continues to display his usual sangfroid: ” ‘Gentlemen,’ he began in a calm voice, “in the predicament in which we find ourselves, there are two ways of dying. The first . . . is to be crushed to death and the second to suffocate to death. I shall leave aside the possibility that we shall starve to death, because the provisions carried on board the Nautilus will certainly last longer than we shall.’ ” Still, Nemo will try one last desperate measure to escape an icy doom.

A modern reader of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea quickly realizes that he or she must adjust to its nineteenth-century rhythms, its regular tick-tock between scenes of action and pages of icthyological or historical observation. The catalogues of the fishes that swim by the observation window of the Nautilus easily grows tedious, even if one understands their dual purpose: first, to impart knowledge of undersea life to landlubbers and, second, to grant verisimilitude and weight to Arronax’s account of this underwater voyage around the world. Some of Verne’s occasional prose arias about early maritime heroes and explorers also go on a bit too long. One can understand, if not condone, the impulse for abridgment.

As a technological fantasist, Jules Verne holds an honored place in Wesleyan’s Early Classics of Science Fiction series, and, as it happens, that press has just issued an admirable new translation by Alex Kirstukas of Robur the Conqueror. Since “The Conquest of Air” was that 1886 novel’s original title, it conveniently complements Verne’s more famous conquest of the ocean depths. And, like Captain Nemo, its eponymous protagonist is yet another solitary, ambiguous antihero.

The novel opens when the meeting of a Philadelphia ballooning society is interrupted by the self-styled Robur, master of a piratical airship of his own design. In short order, two of the leading balloonists — “Uncle Prudent” and Phil Evans — are kidnapped, along with a black servant, and taken on a journey around the world in the Albatross. The book closes with a confrontation between Robur’s heavier-than-air flying fortress and a state-of-the-art super balloon called The Go-Ahead.

In between, Verne provides yet another “voyage extraordinaire.” Many pages are Vernean “info-dumps,” piling on instructive facts about the earth’s geography and accounts of previous aeronautical pioneers. As usual in adventure fiction, nearly every character in the book is one-dimensional, with the partial exception of the reclusive, and elusive, genius-engineer Robur. The kidnapped Americans come across as jingoist boors, while their timorous black servant is, regrettably, a racist caricature. But even with these weaknesses taken into account, Robur the Conqueror thrillingly captures the passion and excitement of early aviation and, more poetically, the enchantment of flight. The reproductions of the original nineteenth-century steel engravings add immensely to the charm and humor of the work. Admittedly, some of that humor derives from the slapstick rivalry between Uncle Prudent and Phil Evans, their constant conniving against Robur, and Verne’s notion that Americans bear improbable names like “Bat T. Fyn” and “Truk Milnor.”

All in all, Robur the Conqueror starts and ends particularly well (though too abruptly). Today, however, we quickly register the moral ambiguities running throughout its text, as when the Albatross intervenes in a Dahomey ceremony, asserting the right of Western might over African tradition (though an inhumane tradition), or when Robur shows off his firepower by using a whale for target practice. Still, I love both the book’s first description of the Albatross at night on the ground — it looked like “a flour mill, with a whole set of windmills, their sails now immobile, grimacing in the half darkness” — and the revelation that the flying machine moves across the sky almost silently. More personally, I covet Robur’s brass knuckles, which he’d repurposed into “little pocket machine guns.” Very steampunk.

Just as The Mysterious Island provides a kind of sequel to Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, so Verne has Robur return — albeit coarsened and more violent — in Master of the World (1904). Whereas this insulted, misunderstood genius christened his first airship after a romantic sea bird, this time he calls his new invention — a warship that can travel on land, air and sea — by a more chilling, twentieth-century name: The Terror.

Though Verne may have started out as a children’s author, today his novels are studied as significant works of literature, and four of his books — including Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea — are included in France’s prestigious Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, the partial model for our own Library of America. Admiration for Verne is correspondingly widespread. Long ago, the poet Guillaume Apollinaire spoke approvingly of his style as consisting entirely of nouns. The arch-experimentalist Raymond Roussel — a master of intricate wordplay — forthrightly named Verne, who was himself fond of cryptograms and double-entendres, the greatest writer of all time. That’s certainly going too far. Still, the recent Nobel laureate J.M.G. Le Clézio is onto something when he notes that some of the Voyages Extraordinaires are as powerful as ancient myths. This seems about right to me, but then I’m a member of the North American Jules Verne Society.

The post Lamplight Voyage: the Magic of Jules Verne appeared first on The Barnes & Noble Review.

The Barnes & Noble Review http://ift.tt/2vk6k9r

10 Things Introverts Should Start Doing Today to Live a Happier Life

You’re reading 10 Things Introverts Should Start Doing Today to Live a Happier Life, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

introverts happier

It’s not easy being an introvert, because our society seems designed for extroverts. Job interviews favor those who are personable, smooth-talking, and quick-thinking. Classrooms are noisy, busy places that reward the students who raise their hands frequently and dive into group work. The social scene lauds those who are confident, outgoing, and quick to make small talk.

How can an introvert live a happy, fulfilling life in an “extroverted” world? In my book, The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World, I explore how introverts can work with their introversion rather than fight against it. Here are 10 ways introverts can do just that.

1. Get over your guilt of leaving the social event early. Have you ever started saying your goodbyes at a social event only to have someone incredulously exclaim, “You’re leaving already? We’re just getting started!” These types of comments used to fill me with guilt. Why was I the only one getting drained and wanting to leave? Was there something wrong with me? Thankfully, I later learned that I’m an introvert, and introverts get worn out by socializing because they respond to rewards differently than extroverts (you can learn more about the science behind introversion in my book). Now, I have no problem calling it an early night and heading for the door.

2. Have more meaningful conversations. Introverts tend to loathe small talk because it feels pointless and inauthentic, but we feel energized by talking about meaningful topics and big ideas. And there’s good news for introverts: research suggests that the happiest people have twice as many meaningful conversations — and do less surface-level chitchat — than the unhappiest. You may even find that big talk doesn’t drain you the way small talk does.

3. Be okay with turning down social invitations that promise little meaningful interaction. We’ve all been there. An acquaintance invites you to such-and-such event. You feel obligated to attend because you don’t want to hurt that person’s feelings or seem rude. But you know that the birthday party for your friend’s niece’s toddler or the guys’ night out won’t be fulfilling. In fact, it will not only lack meaningful interaction but also leave you with an introvert hangover, which is when you feel physically unwell from overextending yourself socially. If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent a good chunk of your life saying yes to social invitations out of guilt — then you paid for it later with exhaustion and overstimulation. Of course, there are some things you probably shouldn’t skip, like your good friend’s wedding or your spouse’s birthday dinner with the family. Bottom line, to live a happier life, pass on any unnecessary get-togethers you feel will drain your introvert battery, not energize it.

4. Schedule your alone time to avoid hurt feelings. I had the pleasure of sitting down with introverted Indie rocker jeremy messersmith to interview him for my book. He told me about a smart practice he’s been doing for quite some time: He makes sure he gets enough alone time by scheduling it once a week on the family calendar. That way his extroverted wife won’t feel hurt when he says he wants to be alone, and they can both work together to protect his restorative solitude by not scheduling other obligations at that time.

5. Don’t force yourself to live the “extroverted” life. Research from the University of Maryland suggests that acting falsely extroverted can lead to burnout, stress, and cardiovascular disease. Turns out, embracing your introverted nature isn’t just a feel-good axiom — it’s actually good for your health.

6. Back away from one-sided relationships. Sadly, because introverts listen well and are often content to take the back seat, we can be targets for toxic or emotionally needy people. These relationships — in which one person is taking more than they give — drain our already limited social energy. If there are people in your life who continually exhaust you, consider spending less time with them. You’ll get the bonus of freeing up more time and energy for the people who do fill you up.

7. Stop beating yourself up for that awkward thing you said…3 years ago. Perhaps because introverts have more electrical activity in their brains than extroverts, they tend to ruminate. Our overthinking may take the form of playing embarrassing mistakes over and over in our minds. Sadly, rumination can give way to anxiety and depression — and it rarely helps you solve the problem you’re chewing on. To break free from the rumination cycle, do something to get the powerful engine of your mind chugging down a different track. Try calling to mind a positive memory, putting on music, going for a walk, or doing any different activity than the one you’re currently doing.

8. Give yourself permission to not do it all. I have an extroverted friend who always has her hand in something. If she’s not organizing a get-together with our friends, she’s volunteering at her son’s pre-school or taking on an extra project at work. I’ll admit that I’ve wished for her energy because she really does seem like she’s doing it all. But I have to remind myself that my talents lie in deep analysis, reflective thinking, and quality over quantity — not in running around doing all the things.

9. Occasionally push yourself out of your comfort zone. To my absolute horror, after writing a book about introversion, I learned that people wanted to talk to me about said book. They even wanted me to give interviews, go on podcasts, and give speeches! Let’s just say it was a very real lesson in pushing myself out of my stay-at-home-and-watch-Netflix comfort zone. Honestly, I hated almost every minute of it (I really did!), but I did those things because I knew it would be good for me. Taking the occasional jaunt out of your comfort zone can help you grow, too.

10. Protect your needs. Because introverts tend to be conscientious people who keep their thoughts to themselves, they may find their needs getting overlooked. Most people probably aren’t purposely trying to burden you or take advantage of you — it may be that they simply aren’t aware of what you need! Do you need a few hours to yourself to recharge from a busy week? Say it! Do you need someone to stop talking to you for a few minutes so you can concentrate? Tell them! Your needs matter just as much as everyone else’s.

My book, The Secret Lives of Introverts, has been called a “decoder ring for introverts” and “one of the best books [on] introvert empowerment.” It’s available for purchase on Amazon, or wherever books are sold.

You’ve read 10 Things Introverts Should Start Doing Today to Live a Happier Life, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’ve enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

http://ift.tt/2wsx8Jj

10 Things Introverts Should Start Doing Today to Live a Happier Life

You’re reading 10 Things Introverts Should Start Doing Today to Live a Happier Life, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

introverts happier

It’s not easy being an introvert, because our society seems designed for extroverts. Job interviews favor those who are personable, smooth-talking, and quick-thinking. Classrooms are noisy, busy places that reward the students who raise their hands frequently and dive into group work. The social scene lauds those who are confident, outgoing, and quick to make small talk.

How can an introvert live a happy, fulfilling life in an “extroverted” world? In my book, The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World, I explore how introverts can work with their introversion rather than fight against it. Here are 10 ways introverts can do just that.

1. Get over your guilt of leaving the social event early. Have you ever started saying your goodbyes at a social event only to have someone incredulously exclaim, “You’re leaving already? We’re just getting started!” These types of comments used to fill me with guilt. Why was I the only one getting drained and wanting to leave? Was there something wrong with me? Thankfully, I later learned that I’m an introvert, and introverts get worn out by socializing because they respond to rewards differently than extroverts (you can learn more about the science behind introversion in my book). Now, I have no problem calling it an early night and heading for the door.

2. Have more meaningful conversations. Introverts tend to loathe small talk because it feels pointless and inauthentic, but we feel energized by talking about meaningful topics and big ideas. And there’s good news for introverts: research suggests that the happiest people have twice as many meaningful conversations — and do less surface-level chitchat — than the unhappiest. You may even find that big talk doesn’t drain you the way small talk does.

3. Be okay with turning down social invitations that promise little meaningful interaction. We’ve all been there. An acquaintance invites you to such-and-such event. You feel obligated to attend because you don’t want to hurt that person’s feelings or seem rude. But you know that the birthday party for your friend’s niece’s toddler or the guys’ night out won’t be fulfilling. In fact, it will not only lack meaningful interaction but also leave you with an introvert hangover, which is when you feel physically unwell from overextending yourself socially. If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent a good chunk of your life saying yes to social invitations out of guilt — then you paid for it later with exhaustion and overstimulation. Of course, there are some things you probably shouldn’t skip, like your good friend’s wedding or your spouse’s birthday dinner with the family. Bottom line, to live a happier life, pass on any unnecessary get-togethers you feel will drain your introvert battery, not energize it.

4. Schedule your alone time to avoid hurt feelings. I had the pleasure of sitting down with introverted Indie rocker jeremy messersmith to interview him for my book. He told me about a smart practice he’s been doing for quite some time: He makes sure he gets enough alone time by scheduling it once a week on the family calendar. That way his extroverted wife won’t feel hurt when he says he wants to be alone, and they can both work together to protect his restorative solitude by not scheduling other obligations at that time.

5. Don’t force yourself to live the “extroverted” life. Research from the University of Maryland suggests that acting falsely extroverted can lead to burnout, stress, and cardiovascular disease. Turns out, embracing your introverted nature isn’t just a feel-good axiom — it’s actually good for your health.

6. Back away from one-sided relationships. Sadly, because introverts listen well and are often content to take the back seat, we can be targets for toxic or emotionally needy people. These relationships — in which one person is taking more than they give — drain our already limited social energy. If there are people in your life who continually exhaust you, consider spending less time with them. You’ll get the bonus of freeing up more time and energy for the people who do fill you up.

7. Stop beating yourself up for that awkward thing you said…3 years ago. Perhaps because introverts have more electrical activity in their brains than extroverts, they tend to ruminate. Our overthinking may take the form of playing embarrassing mistakes over and over in our minds. Sadly, rumination can give way to anxiety and depression — and it rarely helps you solve the problem you’re chewing on. To break free from the rumination cycle, do something to get the powerful engine of your mind chugging down a different track. Try calling to mind a positive memory, putting on music, going for a walk, or doing any different activity than the one you’re currently doing.

8. Give yourself permission to not do it all. I have an extroverted friend who always has her hand in something. If she’s not organizing a get-together with our friends, she’s volunteering at her son’s pre-school or taking on an extra project at work. I’ll admit that I’ve wished for her energy because she really does seem like she’s doing it all. But I have to remind myself that my talents lie in deep analysis, reflective thinking, and quality over quantity — not in running around doing all the things.

9. Occasionally push yourself out of your comfort zone. To my absolute horror, after writing a book about introversion, I learned that people wanted to talk to me about said book. They even wanted me to give interviews, go on podcasts, and give speeches! Let’s just say it was a very real lesson in pushing myself out of my stay-at-home-and-watch-Netflix comfort zone. Honestly, I hated almost every minute of it (I really did!), but I did those things because I knew it would be good for me. Taking the occasional jaunt out of your comfort zone can help you grow, too.

10. Protect your needs. Because introverts tend to be conscientious people who keep their thoughts to themselves, they may find their needs getting overlooked. Most people probably aren’t purposely trying to burden you or take advantage of you — it may be that they simply aren’t aware of what you need! Do you need a few hours to yourself to recharge from a busy week? Say it! Do you need someone to stop talking to you for a few minutes so you can concentrate? Tell them! Your needs matter just as much as everyone else’s.

My book, The Secret Lives of Introverts, has been called a “decoder ring for introverts” and “one of the best books [on] introvert empowerment.” It’s available for purchase on Amazon, or wherever books are sold.

You’ve read 10 Things Introverts Should Start Doing Today to Live a Happier Life, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’ve enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

http://ift.tt/2wsx8Jj

Meditation Isn’t the Answer to Overthinking

You’re reading Meditation Isn’t the Answer to Overthinking, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

You’ve been meditating daily for the last week, month, or maybe even years. In moments it’s blissful, in others it can be frustrating. Thoughts come and go – but you’re now more aware of them.

But not too long afterwards a meditation, your mind can go back to its habitual patterns of thinking, churning negative thoughts in different periods of the day.

Over time, I’ve come to learn that meditation, while incredibly therapeutic, isn’t always the answer to overthinking.

Why we overthink and what we can do about it

Meditation brings awareness into your being and your thoughts. Done consistently, it allows you to begin to understand how your mind works. But there’s an issue that lies behind most of overthinking that isn’t tied to meditation.

It’s tied to the way you breathe.

When you only breathe from the neck up, you’re likelier to stay stuck in your head. When you breathe through your body, as you feel your belly rising with you; it’s far easier to be grounded.

If you were to change the way you breathe, you would change every single living moment of your life. Let that sink in for a moment…Simple reminders to deepen your breathing can help. But for many of us, our muscles around our neck are so tight that this alone won’t work.

You’ve been conditioned not to breathe properly

So many things in our society perpetuate a castrated way of breathing. From the ties we wear, to the belts we tighten every Monday-Friday, to the monitor displays that force us to bend our necks down, to texting on our phones – most of our activities are training us to not breathe properly!

You may also not be breathing properly because:

  • You sit down too much
  • You have poor air quality in the house
  • You do far too many pushing exercises and not enough pulling movements at the gym
  • You have an allergy you haven’t addressed
  • You eat high sugar foods which increase your anxiety and shorten your breathing

Express more of your thoughts

The deeper you breathe, the more of life you let in. Surprisingly, what could also be holding you back from breathing fully is not speaking enough.

I remember months going by where I read so many books and had all these ideas swirling in my head which I didn’t share with anyone. The result was that my mind felt castrated, and my breathing patterns deteriorated as a result. I remember weeks going by where all I was doing was working, not seeing any friends. I now realize how important it is to engage in heartfelt conversations with people – for my humanity, sanity, and breathing.

Any sense of social isolation can quickly make part of us feel like we’re rattling in our cage, which then inhibits our breathing. Express yourself as often as your heart permits, through your friendships, your career, and even a journal.

“The more you overthink the less you will understand.” – Habeeb Akande

It’s far harder to take your thoughts too seriously when you’re breathing deeply – almost as if everything on your mind takes a back seat. I’ve certainly not reached that place permanently, but the idea here isn’t to seek perfection in our breathing patterns, but to merely make small gradual improvements over time.

Begin a Yoga or Pilates Weekly Class

There’s a reason why Yoga, Pilates, and other stretching classes are becoming more and popular. They essentially melt away our rigidities, allowing us to breathe deeper and feel more alive.

All our muscular tensions are symbiotically connected to our minds, and the more we lengthen, stretch, and relax our muscles, the more we can breathe with depth and vibrancy. The day I started stretching on a daily basis, was the day my mind became a lot more relaxed throughout the day.

I didn’t even start with a class – even stretching my hamstrings and chest for fifteen mins every morning created an unbelievable difference in the way I breathed – and that’s what I highly recommend at the start.

If you still get stuck overthinking

Remind yourself to breathe deeply by focusing on your belly button rising and falling. And if you ever find yourself lost in a tangle of thoughts, refer to this quote:

“You will have bad thoughts. The key is never to fight them. They are your friends. Accept them just like a loving parent would to their misbehaving child and let go so you can breathe deeply. Treat your mind with love, and love will flow and emanate from you, one breath at a time.”

If you’re a creative and interested in learning how to live meaningfully in this digital, get my free book.

  • You’ll learn how to see your time differently
  • How to heal Smartphone Addiction
  • Avoiding Internet Burnout
  • And so much more…

 Samy Felice is a writer who brings meaning to words. His Free Book explores how to redefine success in a digital age. 

 

You’ve read Meditation Isn’t the Answer to Overthinking, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’ve enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

http://ift.tt/2fY6v8k