Kind Acts Bucket List

A big thank you to Jessica, who runs the incredible blog Turquoise Compass, for giving me the opportunity to share my guest post on her blog. Below is the guest post that was originally published on Turquoise Compass:

Guest Post by Project Light to Life

Project Light to Life

-          Committing a crime and getting away with it.

-          Taking a shot.

-          Arriving at the top of a roller coaster and going down the first hill.

It may seem as if these items should — or in some cases, should not — be on my “Activities & Adventures” bucket list. Yet, the feelings attached to each of these items reflect the rush of adrenaline I have felt after completing items on my “Kind Acts & Volunteering” bucket list. Of course, committing a crime or drinking alcohol shouldn’t be compared to doing acts of kindness, but the feelings that come with each item seem similar. Research finds that “altruistic (other-regarding) emotions and behaviors are associated with greater well-being, health, and longevity.” In other words, doing kind acts has been correlated with increases in happiness, good health, and life span.

I have mentioned before that one fear that came with creating a bucket list blog was that the hobby might be too hedonistic. To deal with this issue, I decided that each time I cross several items off my activities & adventures bucket list, I also have to cross an item off my kind acts list.

Another concern I often have is that by writing about doing kind acts, I defeat the purpose of them. Isn’t part of the adrenaline that comes with doing good deeds connected to no one knowing about them? Yes. However, something that gives me peace of mind and inspires me to continue writing about them is when readers comment that they too want to try whatever act I have written about. Still, I try to keep in mind that it is often more satisfying doing a kind act that no one knows about.Project Light to Life

Listed below are some of the items on my kind acts list that I have written about on my blog:

1). Start and lead creative writing classes for children at local libraries.

2). Participate in a run for a good cause: The Mud Run

3). Leave inspirational messages on sticky notes in public bathrooms/places

4). Pay for someone behind me in a drive-thru line

5). Join freerice.com and donate at least 10,000 grains of rice

6). Leave $5 where a kid will find it

7). Leave flowers on a stranger’s doorstep

8). Spend time at a nursing home

9). Make a Shutterfly photo album for grandpa

10). Donate to the American Heart Association

11). Start a gratitude journal

12). Write a nice letter and leave it in a book for a stranger to find

13). Pay the toll for the car behind me

14). Anonymously mail letters of encouragement to strangers

15). Pick up a piece of trash lying in the street and put it in a trashcan

16). Hand out flowers at a nursing home (enough for everyone)

17). Bring old magazines to a hospital or doctor’s waiting room

18). Write a note to management about employees who do an excellent job

19). Open the phonebook, pick a name, and send someone anonymous gifts

20). Make a mixed CD for someone Project Light to Life

I am continually inspired by other bloggers who not only try to fulfill their own goals, but also, try to do something for others. For example, one way Jessica at Turquoise Compass achieves this balance is through teaching others. Annette White at Bucket List Journey includes a Contribution & Life Enhancement section on her giant bucket list. Carl Honeysett at Volunteering Abroad Blog devotes his entire blog to documenting his international volunteering adventures and encouraging others to volunteer. On his blog, Keith Maginn, author of Goodwill Tour: Paying it Forward, writes about how he paid it forward by traveling with a friend across the southeastern United States and giving handpicked strangers money.

I encourage readers who are looking to boost their happiness, a fun summer or even lifelong project, to start a kind acts bucket list.Project Light to Life

If you have any questions about getting started or wind up making a list and want to share what you have accomplished, please connect with me at projectlighttolife@yahoo.com or on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

About Christine from Project Light to Life
Project Light to Life
Through her blog, Christine Barba hopes to inspire others to cross items off their bucket lists, while documenting her journey to fulfill her goals and help others achieve their own. Christine has crossed hundreds of items off her bucket lists. Her poems, short stories, and non-fiction pieces have appeared in over a dozen literary magazines. She is currently a master’s student, who studies rhetoric and composition and will teach the subject next year.

 

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Interview on the Goal List

I was honored to be interviewed by Shelly from The Goal List a few weeks ago. Below is my interview with her that was first published on her blog:

Christine from Project Light to Life (http://projectltl.com/) during her first Segway ride. Read the interview to find out what made this list item memorable. Photo used with permission

Christine from Project Light to Life during her first Segway ride
Read the interview to find out what made this list item memorable
Photo used with permission

It is incredibly inspiring to talk about bucket lists with other people, and with the Internet, the list of people you are able to meet is endless. Christine Barba writes a blog called Project Light to Life which is full of interesting stories, multiple bucket lists, and an outward focus where she does “one kind act for someone else/help someone cross off an item from his or her bucket list each time I cross off several accomplishments on my list.” Below are some of Christine’s stories and insights about blogging and bucket listing.

Name and Blog:
Christine Barba from Project Light to Life

Fun fact about you:
I tend to root for the underdog when it comes to favorites, television characters, etc. Since I was three years old, my favorite animal has been a pig — though this choice may also have something to do with the fact that when I was three, I simply copied my mom’s favorite animal. My favorite character on Spongebob Squarepants has always been Squidward; while I still love Spongebob and Patrick, I’ll bet Squidward’s had a lot to deal with having Spongebob as a neighbor and he’s simply misunderstood!

Funner fact:
I played a tree in a play once. To be fair though, it was Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, so a lot of us were trees!

Funnest fact:
When going on my first Segway tour last summer, my scooter went over a rock on the beach, I flew into the air, and landed on my face. A local from St. Martin ran over to me and shouted, “Woah! I used to work for the Segway Place and I’ve never seen anything like that before. Man you really went flying!” then gave me a high five, before a nice mother from Ireland ran over and said, “Oh my goodness, you gave me a heart attack.”

What do you think has been essential to your success as a bucket list blogger?
A few things: continuing to stick to my list, which gives me additional momentum to pursue the next goal, getting inspired by other bucket list bloggers’ sites or by authors with similar projects, and, I’m going to sound cliché here, but this one is essential, receiving kind comments, emails, or messages from friends, family members, readers, etc, who encourage me to continue this project.

What was something that surprised you about blogging?
How many amazingly cool (I sound a bit juvenile here, but those are the first words that come to mind) people I met as a result of blogging and crossing items off my bucket lists. I have not only connected with a lot of inspiring people via email, but also, have met some amazing people in person as I continue to pursue new activities, travels, etc. I owe many of these encounters to starting this blog!

Who or what inspires you?
So much! My parents, my grandparents, and my family have always inspired me. In addition, I am a bit obsessed with other bucket list bloggers or authors who take on similar projects: Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, Noelle Hancock’s My Year with Eleanor, the film Pay it Forward, the documentary Craigslist Joe, and Annette White’s blog “Bucket List Journey” have all inspired me to start or continue my project in some way. When I started thinking about beginning a bucket list blog, I looked into whether people had already done something similar and came across Annette’s blog, which motivated me to make my own blog.

What is your all-time favorite bucket list item (of yours or someone else’s)?
I often get asked this question and because I’m one of the most indecisive people ever, find it difficult to come up with an answer. But after thinking about it more, I have to say crossing Australia off my travel bucket list (though I am reluctant to use the term ‘crossing off,’ as I hope to return there!)

If you had to describe your blog in 6 words or less, what would you say?
A bucket list blog, exploring happiness.

If you weren’t doing anything related to your bucket list, what would you be doing in your free time?
It’s likely I’d be spending time with friends and family, reading, writing, going to the beach, drinking coffee, or being clumsy and indecisive.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
There has been a lot! But one piece of advice that comes to mind is something I remember my mother telling me at the end of last year that she said my grandmother also once told her: “This too shall pass.” In other words, if you are feeling sad about something right now, you won’t feel this way forever! You just have to keep pushing through. And she was right :) I think this advice goes along with some great advice we received from my professor in my interpersonal communication class this year, which is that emotions are like the weather. We should not block them out, but simply observe them as they come and realize that, like the weather, what we see as “negative” emotions such as sadness or anger will go away just as rain eventually does. Although he also reminded us that no emotions are “negative,” since they all come to teach us something.

Another favorite piece of advice is an Eleanor Roosevelt quote I discovered thanks to Noelle Hancock’s My Year with Eleanor, which is “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Finally, I love George Eliot’s comment, “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

Thank you to Christine for taking the time to share your thoughts, stories, and advice with us! You can read more of her bucket list blog at Project Light to Life, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Want more interviews like this? Leave a comment and let me know who you would like to see featured, and be sure to subscribe to stay updated on all the latest posts!

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Thanks Shelly!

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Suicide Prevention Movement Gains Traction

Hi all!

A little less than a year ago, I interviewed Emily Dayton, who began a suicide prevention movement with her parents known as You Can NOT Be Replaced. At the time of the interview, they had over 14,000 wristbands from their movement circulating across the country, spoke at school assemblies, etc. Now that their movement is growing, they have been doing even more for this cause and have been kind enough to provide us all with an update! Check out their guest post below:

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Hey Christine and peeps!

We have had so much great stuff happen this year! We have given our assembly in Jr High and High schools in New Jersey to about 10,000 students! What an amazing ride and an honor to have a moment in front of a large group of school kids for an hour with the opportunity to reach that one kid in the audience who doesn’t know how valuable they are. We now have over 23,000 wristbands circulating the USA, UK, Canada and UK. It is a privilege to do what we do.

You Can NOT Be Replaced just had a really cool concert with musician Will Evans from Barefoot Truth (willevans.com) that was a fundraiser and story telling concert. We paired the night with a local band called Chevy Lopez and film interviews we did in the spring with some local young adults. The topic for our Step Back or a Moment concert was Heroin: reality|recovery|hope. Heroin is a huge issue in New Jersey and we felt that stories were a great way to start conversations. But in YCNBR fashion, we focused on the hope. Recovery is possible with structured support, as well as hard work and we wanted people to remember that so we can help our loved ones who are having a hard time. It was a beautiful night. Then we had an “AH-HA” moment.

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We’ve decided to take YCNBR on the road to Colleges and Universities, work with the students to put on a really cool event with awesome musicians and films on various topics. We’ll use topics like finding your passion and purpose, kindness, mental health and substance abuse, and bring in some great musicians. We’re going to bring our speakers the day before, have an art show, music, film and then…create chapters on campus to create a grassroots culture shift toward awesomeness!

The very best part is that the shows are going to be fundraisers for our high school program. So when students buy a ticket, they’re actually funding our assemblies so we don’t have to charge schools: http://bit.ly/YCNBRstepback!

If you are interested in bringing us to your campus email us at youcannotbereplaced@gmail.com

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Next up for us is: The Color Run Kaleidoscope Tour in Central Jersey on August 30th at Raceway Park. We are soooo excited we are the official charity partner for the race. EVERYONE can do this race! It’s a bucket-list-life-changing event of fun, music and color. Sign up now before it sells out or come volunteer with us for the day! We’ll also have an opportunity to meet you and hear your story! We’ll have wristbands and info with us too: http://bit.ly/YCNBRcolor.

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Below is a press release for the color run:

The “Happiest 5k on the Planet” plans for Thousands in August

Englishtown, NJ – The Color Run, one of the largest event series in the world, will be in Englishtown, NJ. The event will be held at Raceway Park and will begin at 8 am. Registration is open for individual runners and teams.

In 2014 The Color Run is introducing the brand new Kaleidoscope Tour. Kaleidoscopes demonstrate the beauty of motion and change. Whether it’s new runners getting ready for their first 5k, or seasoned athletes remembering what it feels like to just run for fun, the Kaleidoscope Tour will be an unforgettable event that will be filled with 5k magic. Participants can expect novel course attractions, fresh participant gear and new store merchandise.

Participation in, and buzz for, The Color Run has exploded since its debut in 2012 with more than 3 million “likes” on Facebook and more than 8 million views on YouTube. The Color Run has recently been featured on ESPN, Runner’s World, Sports Illustrated and Wall Street Journal, to name a few.

The Color Run visited over 50 cities in 2012 with more than 600,000 participants, a feat following their first event in January of that year. 2013 was a monumental year, launching more than 170 events worldwide with well over 1 million participants.

With no winners or official times, The Color Run celebrates healthiness, happiness, and individuality, bringing the community together to create a five-kilometer canvas of colorful fun in which thousands of participants are doused from head to toe in different colors at each kilometer.

“We call The Color Run the ‘happiest 5K on the planet’ because our events bring together friends and family in a unique, healthy, and fun environment,” said Travis Snyder, founder of The Color Run. “Our only rules are that people wear white and prepare to be covered in color at the finish!”

“Color Runners,” vary in demographics and reasons for running. With no winners or official times, The Color Run caters to anyone – first time runners to professional athletes. Close to 50 percent of Color Runners are first-time 5k runners and participate as a celebration and capstone of their healthy living accomplishments.

The Color Run, a for-profit company, loves the opportunity it has to partner with charities to help shine a light on their amazing work within society and highlight the causes they stand for. The Color Run has partnered with You Can NOT Be Replaced® for the Central Jersey event. YCNBR provides ‘proactive prevention’ through school presentations and parenting workshops focusing on the value of life including; science of the irreplaceable person, mental health, substance use, the brain and the importance of family and good friendships. The group contributes to prevention work in their community and work with other organizations educating on substance prevention and mental health awareness.

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To learn more about The Color Run, visit www.thecolorrun.com or watch this video.

To check out what we’re doing go to www.youcannotbereplaced.com or www.YCNBRtalk.com for our assembly program

Posted in Guest Posts, Kind Acts & Volunteering | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Education Through Volunteer Travel

Hi all! I’d like to introduce Cathryn Campell, who discovered the importance of education for people worldwide after volunteering in Uganda. Her story offers a great example of the benefits that come with volunteer travel. Read more of Cathryn’s guest post below:

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Education is said to be the road to a brighter future. That it provides the key for the locked door guarding the room to self-progression.  However, these two sentences can be considered extremely controversial in terms of their control over culture.

When I was 16, I was fortunate to travel with my school to Uganda. The purpose of the trip was mainly to raise awareness for and visit the various charities and partner schools that my school helped to support.

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It was on the 5th day of the trip that really got me thinking.

We arrived at a small rural village to work with RHUEPAI, a Ugandan based charity with aims ‘To advocate for improved health and poverty alleviation initiatives geared toward better peoples’ livelihoods through their own participation.’ After a four hour journey from the capital, Kampala, we arrived at the RUHEPAI base centre. Leaving behind the capital meant leaving behind all of our luxuries, including a toilet, and so we were all faced with our first emersion into rural Ugandan life with the dreaded experience of the Pit Latrine. Whilst nowadays, this would not faze me, a slightly more immature and naïve sixteen- year-old me, was indeed fazed.

Toilet humour aside, we travelled from the base centre for about an hour on sandy dirt roads that weaved their way through fields of banana plantations, before climbing their way up green mountains. It was beautiful. Growing up in Wales, greenery was nothing new to me. However I had never seen anything quite like that. The bright vivid green was lit up by the strong Ugandan sun and contrasted against the clear blue sky. Uganda really is a beautiful place, populated with beautiful people.

The people in the small rural village we went to had an intense and lasting effect on me. Arriving at a small-holding, I first learnt that pineapples grow underground, not on trees. But that wasn’t the most important thing I learnt that day.

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We walked through the garden of the small-holding and entered into a small courtyard. Surrounded by low built mud buildings with straw roofs sat a group of smiling women. We greeted them and they invited us to sit with them to talk, all through a translator. There was a young woman there, 22 years old with a child. After talking to her for some time, she asked me if I would like to hold the baby and with that she put her in my lap. The little girl smiling up at me was named Tress.

We were there to build a Lorena stove, as previously all cooking was done by open fire. In the middle of the courtyard, in-between a spread of drying peanuts and a goat hut, was a large mound. A mound made of a mixture of mud and cow feces. However unsanitary or unclean you may think this is, it is a sustainable and useful mix to create clay brinks to build with. So we dug in, molding brinks out of what is essentially cow waste. Here was a lesson in not wasting anything. A product which, in the western world is considered useless, here is used for building and creating.

Many of the girls stayed sitting with the women and picking peanuts off branches which would later be added to the masses already out to dry. However, I and my friend got our hands dirty. We were there to do one job and that was to build. The stove was nearly complete and my friend, becoming weary in the heat had no choice but to take a rest. The boys, in the kitchen, (a small, empty room, with no floor and mud walls) continued to help with the more tricky parts of the build. I noticed one of the men, working to clean up the mound and the area around which we in our enthusiasm had spread mud all over. I went over to help him, realizing that although we had built a stove and picked some peanuts, we had not done so without some damage. After working to clean the vast puddle of mud we had managed to create, the man thanked me in Ugandan. Unfortunately being welsh, I was not and am not fluent in Ugandan, but the man did not accept that I wouldn’t understand. He walked away, and I thought nothing of it until he bought a friend over who translated for me. The man wanted to thank me for helping to clean, he said I did not have to, but that I did.

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I learnt that even small acts of kindness, which might not seem like much, can really have a lasting big effect on people. That man did not have to thank me, or go to so much effort to communicate that he appreciated what I was doing, but the fact that he did, had a lasting impact on me. I hope that what we did that day, however seemingly small it may be, had an effect on the lives of those we were trying to help.

I often think about Tress. Whilst we may have made life a little more comfortable at her home, did we really do much good for her at all?

Living in the UK, from the age of five, we are given free education and whilst many may find issues within the system, the fact that we are given the opportunity for it at all is amazing. Tress will live her life at the small-holding and go to the small primary school down the road (which we also visited). However, after her education there, her only way to further her education or to get qualifications will be through sponsorship or the growth of charities that aim to provide an equal education for all, due to the lack of secondary schools in the area.

I feel there is a difficult balance here that cannot be ignored. Whilst we went to help at the small-holding, we did not do so without a damaging effect (the mess made). Many charities provide education for those who are not given the opportunity for it through the state, however, it is important that that education is tailored to the customs, traditions and cultures of the youths it is teaching.

Education is important for progression in terms of employability and development. This concept cannot be denied in the workings of the world today. However, retaining a rich and varied culture in my opinion is just as important. I recently read ‘Wild’ by Jay Griffiths, a wonderful and very enlightening book in which she explores several indigenous communities and gages the effects that western influence has had on them. In some cases, suicide rates increased an unbelievable amount and undeniably, customs and cultures began to die out.

Whilst I undeniably feel with great enthusiasm that children such as Tress should not be denied their basic right to an education, giving them the opportunity for employment that they would otherwise not have, is just as important for her to keep her Ugandan traditions and heritage alive.

If you would like to support RUHEPAI please follow this link:

http://www.ruhepai.org/

If you would like to learn more about supporting the education system in Uganda to develop here is a list of charities that aim to enhance the system there, but are also sensitive to the Ugandan culture:

http://www.aicmuganda.org/ (Provides vocational courses for youths)

http://www.salveinternational.org/salve-explained/what-we-do/

http://www.peas.org.uk/

 

 

 

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Adentures in Europe

Hi all!

Just a short note to say that I returned from my twelve day trip to Europe last night and have not dropped off the face of the Earth.

I hope you all are doing well and having a nice summer :) More updates on my travels to come!

- Christine

Posted in Reference, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Foods that Increase Health and Happiness

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Although I am a bucket list blogger, I am also obsessed with happiness — or its more fancy term subjective well-being (SWB) — studies. Two other favorites of mine are summer and food. What better season than summer to look into what types of food have been proven to increase happiness? Here is what I found:

An article on ABC News finds there are 19 foods that boost health and happiness: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/19-foods-boost-health-happiness/story?id=19184264

1). Legumes (AKA peas, beans, and peanuts)

2). Spinach

3). Quinoa (“a complex carb that can give you a steady stream of energy”)

4). Tomatoes

5). Vitamin D-Fortified Milk (evidence suggests it has a positive effect against asthma symptoms and allergy sensitivities)

6). Apples

7). Walnuts

8). Salmon

9). Enriched cereal

10). Berries

11). Eggs

12). Clams

13). Oranges

14). Cayenne pepper

15). Parsley

16). Turmeric (found in curry powder)

17). Green tea

18). Red Wine (Wohoo!)

19). Coffee (Yay!)

An article in Women’s Health Magazine lists some additional foods that “will help you stay healthy, maintain a sharp mind, and keep those pesky blues at bay.” Some overlap with those listed above:

1). Wild salmon and shrimp

2). Cherry tomatoes

3). Watermelon

4). Chile peppers

5). Beets

6). Garlic

7). Apples

8). Butter

9). Cod

10). Lentils

11). Lamb

12). Milk

13). Onions

14). Sardines

15). Sprouts

16). Yogurt

Time to start feasting!

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10 Ways to Maintain Sanity in Your 20-Somethings and Beyond

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Now that I’ve reached 22, I would like to think I’ve learned some valuable lessons. I’m sure that by the time I reach 82, I’ll have had many more lessons, but for now, these are all I’ve got. Some of these were learned through experience, while I learned others through some excellent interpersonal communication classes I took this semester. Here are ten tips that should help you maintain sanity through your 20-somethings and beyond:

1). Quality over quantity (activities): You just won Super Bowl Tickets and your home team is playing their biggest rival. You know that you would much rather count the tiles on your bathroom floor than watch a football game, but you feel that you have to go because it is what you are supposed to do.

DON’T GO. You will have a much better time doing something you know you would enjoy more that day, whether it be counting tiles or spending the day shopping at the mall with a friend. Sell the tickets and use the money for something you would have a more enjoyable time doing.

The same applies to visiting fancy monuments in foreign countries while studying abroad, etc. If you would rather spend the day café hopping than touring monuments you think you are supposed to see, go café hopping; you won’t regret it!

2). Quality over quantity (making plans): You already know that you want to spend the day with your boyfriend or your best friend or your mom, or whomever it may be. Yet, Bobby, Susie, and Tanya also asked you to hangout. Although you were looking forward to your plans with the initial person, you do not want to let the latter group down. You think, “Maybe I can fit everything in. I’ll hangout with [Insert name here] all afternoon and then meet up with Bobby, Susie, and Tanya” or “What if I invite [insert name here] along with Bobby, Susie, and Tanya? That way everyone is happy.

DON’T DO IT. Sometimes these methods work, but typically, people end up more aggravated. You will either show up to one of your plans late or someone in the later group will wind up upset that you always have to invite so-and-so along. While this outcome is not always the case, it is likely that you will be happier if you stick to your initial plan, tell the other group you are unable to make it that day, and make plans with them sometime later in the week, when you can have an equally enjoyable time with them and feel less stressed.

3). Do not try to block out “negative” emotions, but instead, accept and observe them: Dr. Caplan and Dr. Mortenson, my interpersonal communication professors, introduced us to the work of psychotherapist David Richo. He suggests that the best way to deal with negative emotions that come with heartache, loss, etc, such as anger or sadness, is not through distraction. The healthiest approach is simply to accept the emotions. Do not say, “I am not sad,” “I am not angry,” but instead, “Yes, I feel sad right now, but I know this emotion won’t last forever.” Dr. Caplan reminded us we should not view ourselves as our emotions, but instead, see them as outside of ourselves and view them as if we are weathermen observing the weather. He added that if we think of the saddest or happiest we have ever been, we probably do not feel that way right now, so if we are feeling down, we should accept our sadness and think, “Hmm, this is interesting. I feel so down right now, but like the weather, eventually, this will go away.”

I read somewhere that a study asked one group to think about a blue elephant and another group to try hard not to think about a blue elephant. The study found that the group asked not to think about the elephant, thought about the blue elephant ten times more (I am not sure of the exact statistic, but the number was significantly larger) than the group that was asked to think about it.

At first, all of this advice sounds like psychological mumbo-jumbo, but try it and you’ll be amazed at the results. If you accept sadness or anger, it goes away sooner. If you block it out, the emotions linger and come back to haunt you!

4). Do not try to block out negative emotions by distracting yourself: Richo also reminds us to avoid unproductive activities, such as watching television, drinking, binge eating, going on Facebook, etc, when we are feeling sad, anxious, or angry. He advises doing something productive as a way to establish “adult trust” in yourself. Adult trust consists of the knowledge that you are able to be independent without relying on other sources or people to deal with your emotions. If you are feeling down, go for a long walk or run, clean your room to near perfection, or have a healthy meal.

It sounds silly, but showing yourself you have the ability to do something constructive while feeling sad boosts your mood by helping you see what you are able to accomplish on your own, and how, in the future, if you are feeling this way, you can pursue similar activities to deal with your emotions.

5). If you are on a diet, allow yourself at least one day a week to splurge a little: If you are like me and have difficulty not eating everything in sight when food comes your way, you will feel proud of yourself once you lose weight. However, I notice that when I am too strict with a diet for long periods of time (and by diet, I simply mean eating healthier and exercising), I typically tell myself, “You have been dieting to near perfection for a month. You deserve two weeks to go crazy!” then revert back to my old habits. Of course, many people have much more self-discipline than I do. But I notice that the times that I eat healthy, yet allow myself a few glasses of wine each Saturday and one not-so-healthy dinner, I wind up doing even better, since I do not feel so deprived or as if I deserve some giant award to overeat again!

6). This one may not be accurate in every case, but as a general rule of thumb, remember that the most genuine guys do not immediately call you “cutie,” “beautiful,” etc: Wait for the guy, who either waits to give you such compliments, or, even better, who waits to give you more realistic, non-cliché compliments that specifically apply to you. I’m sure there is an equivalent to this advice for guys too. Perhaps, wait for the girl who doesn’t call you “hottie” right away?

7). Forgive, but do not try to forget: Thomas S. Szasz says, “The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naïve forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.” Another useful lesson we learned in our class with Dr. Caplan is that harboring resentment or holding a grudge against someone only affects you. Think about it: If you continue to stress over something someone has done to you in the past, you only cause yourself more stress, not the other person.

However, it’s also unhealthy to try and block out a negative incident. The healthiest thing to do is to accept the situation, say, “This happened” and then forgive the person. You will feel ten times better.

8). To feel happier, tackle a nagging task: Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, suggests we will feel much happier if we tackle a nagging task rather than putting it off. For example, you have to call the doctors office to request forms you need for a new job, but have been putting off the call. If you are in this situation, the best thing you can do is to MAKE THE CALL. It seems tedious, but I agree with Rubin that getting similar tasks over with really does lead to boosts in happiness.

9). Start a gratitude journal and a nice things jar to boost your happiness: Rubin suggests starting a gratitude journal, which is a journal in which you list multiple items you are grateful for each day. For my gratitude journal, I typically write down seven items every day that are as simple as having a great cup of coffee. As a generation that is constantly looking toward the future, you’ll be amazed at how good focusing on what is valuable about the present moment will make you feel.

Starting a nice things jar, an idea I took from Pinterest a few years ago, has a similar effect. Buy a mason jar, and, if you want, decorate it. I put sunshine stickers on mine. I then bought colored paper to make it more fun. Each day, write one nice thing that happened to you and put it in the jar. Don’t read the slips until all at once at the end of the year. Like the gratitude journal, focusing on “nice things” is beneficial in that it helps you focus on the positive versus stuff that might stress you out.

10). Have fun: While sometimes it’s easy to focus on the petty stuff, don’t forget to enjoy yourself too!

I hope some these tips prove useful. Because, as Bill Bryson, one of my new favorite travel writers suggests, “That’s the trouble with losing your mind; by the time it’s gone, it’s too late to get it back.” Hopefully, this post will provide you with enough sanity and happiness through your 20-somethings and beyond!

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