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Friday, January 29, 2016

Profit with Passion Summit - Day 2

The Profit with Passion Summit kicked off today (Friday) and I'm so excited. There are 30+ speakers and each one has something special to share.  Registration to attend is FREE -- click here -- to be taken to the registration page.

Check out the line up for Saturday, January 30, 2016 to see which speakers you'd like to visit.
West coast folks -- the times are ET not PT so please remember to make the time change for your calendar.

Again, visit my link to register for FREE. Enjoy!
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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Strange (But Effective) Way I Stick to Hard Goals

There’s a saying that you should never trust a skinny chef. By that logic, you should never trust an out of shape behavioral designer(link is external).
Over the past four years, I’ve discovered many incredible ways to hack my habits and improve my life. I have taught myself to love running, dramatically improved my diet and found the focus to write a bestselling book(link is external)Understanding how the mind works and using it to affect my daily behaviors has yielded tremendous dividends.
However, there is one goal that’s nagged at me for years that despite my best efforts, I’ve never been able to achieve—going to the gym consistently. I hate lifting weights. Hate it. I disdain the strain, the sweat, the smells—all of it. The only thing I like about working out are the results. Unfortunately, there’s no way to enjoy the benefits of going to the gym without, you know, actually going to the gym.
That’s not to say building muscle is all that important. Diet has a much greater impact(link is external) on body weight and health than exercise. But given that I’ve already hacked my diet and no longer struggle with eating right, I wanted to finally get to the bottom of this stubborn challenge.
Why was this one goal so hard to achieve? If I could figure out a way to overcome this challenge, perhaps it would provide insights into how to tackle other difficult to achieve goals.

Habits vs. Routines—There is a Difference

Recently, it seems habits are everywhere. A slew of new books, not to mention countless blog posts and apps, guarantee a whole new you by harnessing the power of habits. However, almost all of these well intentioned authors promise too much. Many over-prescribe habits as a solution to problems they just can’t fix.
So what are habits, really? According to Dr. Benjamin Gardner, a psychologist focusing on habit research at King’s College London, “habit works by generating an impulse to do a behavior with little or no conscious thought.” Habits are simply how the brain learns to do things without deliberation. These impulses can be put to good use, but only certain behaviors can become habits.
Building a habit is relatively simple—just harness the impulse. For new habits to take hold, provide a clear trigger, make the behavior easy to do, and ensure it occurs frequently. For example, by completely removing unhealthy food from my home and eating the same thing every morning, my diet became a healthy habit. I extracted the decision making process out of what I eat at home.
However, if the behavior requires a high degree of intentionality, effort, or deliberation, it is not a habit. Although proponents of habits tout them as miracle cures for doing things we’d rather not do, I’m sorry to say that’s snake oil. All sorts of tasks aren’t habits and never will be. By definition, doing things that are effortful aren’t habits.
Unfortunately, this means behaviors that require hard work and deliberate practice aren’t good candidates for habit-formation. For example, although I make time for it every day, writing is not a habit. Writing is hard work. If I waited for an “impulse” to write, I’d never do it. To get better at writing requires concentration and directed effort to make sense of the words as they go from the research to my head and then to the screen. Similarly, lifting weights isn’t a habit because getting stronger requires working harder.
So if these type of behaviors aren’t habits, what are they? They’re routines. A routine is a series of behaviors regularly practiced. Routines don’t care if you feel an urge or not, they just need to get done. When I finally realized I would never succeed at making going to the gym a habit, I began looking for how to establish a routine instead.

Burn or Burn

A word of warning. Before I share one technique I used to finally get myself to go to the gym regularly, I need to share a few disclaimers.
First, this technique, as effective as it is, can be dangerous. It is a very good way to get you to do a routine but provides no safeguards against doing the wrong thing again and again. If you’re doing something counterproductive, this technique will only get you to do more of it. For example, doing tons of sit-ups won’t help you (and may actually hurt you) if you’re also drinking sugary sodas every day.
Second, this method is not good for getting other people to do things. This is for personal use only so don’t try and force it on people who have to do what you tell them, like employees or your kids.
Finally, this isn’t the only method you can use and admittedly this is a rather brute force strain of behavior change. If learning to love a behavior is an option, I recommend trying a different technique. For example, I’ve written about finding your MEA – your Minimum Enjoyable Action(link is external). The MEA method is great for simple behaviors you enjoy doing. I learned to love running because I always enjoyed going on walks. Finding my MEA proved very effective at slowly improving my stamina until running replaced walking as an enjoyable pastime.
However, there are certain things we just don’t like doing, but we must do anyway. These behaviors require diligence, grit, hard work and consistency. This is where what I call the “burn or burn” technique comes in.

How it Works

  1. Pick your routine. For me, my routine was hitting the gym.
  2. Book your time. Make time in your schedule for the routine. If you don’t reserve the time as you would booking an appointment or important meeting, the routine won’t happen.
  3. Find a crisp $100 bill. Other denominations will work too but it has to be an amount you’d hate to lose.
  4. Find a lighter.
  5. Buy a wall calendar and place it somewhere you’ll see every day. My calendar is in my closet and it’s the first thing I see when I get dressed in the morning.
  6. Tape the $100 bill to today’s date in the calendar and place the lighter somewhere visible near the wall calendar.
Now you have a choice to make. Everyday, when the time comes to do your routine, you can chose either option A and do the routine, which in my case was to feel the “burn” in the gym, or option B and literally burn your money. You can’t give the money to someone or buy something with it, you have to set it aflame.
Yes, I know it’s technically illegal to destroy government tender but the reason this technique works is that you should never have to actually burn the money. Instead, the threat of watching your money go up in smoke makes this technique work. I’ve been on “burn or burn” for six months now and I haven’t burned a bill yet.

Why it Works

As radical as “burn or burn” sounds, there’s good science to support why it’s so effective. For one, it’s no surprise we hate losing money. But why not pay yourself for doing the routine instead of taking money away? Social scientists tell us humans feel the psychological pain of loss twice as powerfully as the satisfaction of a gain—a phenomenon known as “loss aversion.”
Furthermore, people are notoriously awful at predicting their future actions. “Sure, I’ll go to the gym tomorrow,” I’d say, but when tomorrow came, I’d find an excuse. The theory of hyperbolic discounting helps explain why what we say we will do in the future is not what we do when the time comes to actually do it. We are “present-biased,” meaning we fail to properly value benefits we won’t realize for some time. These psychological tendencies conspire to keep us from doing the things we know we should.
The “burn or burn” technique works by binding us to a financially painful contract so we can’t weasel out of it when the task needs to get done. In fact, a similar technique was shown to be amazingly effective at helping smokers kick their addiction to cigarettes. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine(link is external), found that when smokers were asked to risk their own money, they were much more likely to quit.
Unfortunately, the researchers in the smoking study found that very few smokers would agree to risk their money. Perhaps these test subjects knew that if they wagered their own cash, they’d have to actually stop smoking, something they likely did not want to do.
I too struggled with starting “burn or burn” because I knew it meant I’d have to actually do the uncomfortable work. Then, I finally realized how ridiculous this line of thinking was. Why would I resist a technique that virtually guaranteed I would accomplish my goal?
If I wasn’t ready to commit, then I should forget the goal altogether. But if I really wanted it, I should gladly put money on the line to make sure I’d do the heavy lifting. After several weeks of difficult deliberation, I finally made my decision. I nailed the calendar to my wall, taped my money to the date, and put my lighter on the shelf where it still sits today and every day.
Nir Eyal
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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Living a Fulfilled Life

What does it mean to live a fulfilled life? Many will say look at the material items accumulated, others look to the number of friends, while others yet, contend it is simply how happy your family is at any given time. There are certain actions one can take to insure that no matter the algorithm used you will end up on the happier side of life.

Join me as we look at five tips for living a more fulfilled life.

BONUS INTERVIEW: Eleze "Lisa" Thomas-McMillan author of Living Fulfilled The Infectious Joy of Serving Others
SHOW SPONSOR: Inspirational Productions
 MUSIC SPONSOR: Triumph by JaneliaSoul also available on Amazon
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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Should I Stay Up Late Being Productive or Just Go to Bed?

Source: CollegeDegrees360/Flickr
It’s every student’s dilemma. Should you keep studying and delay your bedtime, or shut the books and hit the hay?
In college, I regularly stayed up until midnight or 1 a.m. studying and writing lab reports, even though my alarm went off at 5 a.m. each morning for rowing practice. It was always so tempting to stay up late when there was just so much work to be done. So much work, all the time.
Although running on four or five hours of sleep in college let me finish a lot of work and studying, I was sleepy. I found myself nodding off during class, eating more food to keep myself awake, and I became more susceptible to catching colds. I found it harder to study because I hadn’t paid attention well in class. On occasion, I didn’t do as well on tests as I would have liked to. Sometimes I even found myself being short-tempered toward my friends.
Sound familiar?
These days, after working in a sleep research laboratory for the past four years and becoming intimately acquainted with what the research says about sleep curtailment, I am much more inclined to shut the books, close my laptop, and crawl into bed.
In short, there are literally no benefits—none, zip, zero, nada—to depriving oneself of necessary sleep.

What does sleep deprivation do to my body?

What does sleep deprivation do to my brain?

How can I tell if I’m getting enough sleep?

This is a test called the Epworth Sleepiness Scale(link is external). If you add your total score (out of a maximum of 24 points), you can get a sense for how sleepy you are, subjectively. For reference, the average person scores around four or five.
There’s also an objective test of daytime sleepiness in which an individual is given several 20-minute nap opportunities throughout the day. The lower the sleep latency, the greater the “sleep need.”
But sometimes you DON’T feel like you could actually fall asleep during the day, yet it’s still clear you aren’t getting enough sleep. Do you find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning? Feel you need coffee to start your day? Find yourself yawning frequently? Feel sluggish, unmotivated, inattentive, or foggy-headed? Find yourself getting sick more often, or unable to perform as well in the gym? You’re probably running on too little sleep.

I have a test the next day, and I’m too stressed to fall asleep. What can I do?

  • If you absolutely must study in the hours before bed, make sure that you’re not studying in bright light. Light, especially in the blue wavelength, suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone synthesized by the pineal gland that prepares your body for sleep. Computer, tablet, and phone screens are the worst culprits for blue light exposure onto the retina. Consider downloading the program f.lux(link is external), which automatically softens your computer screen’s brightness at sunset. You can also try donning a pair of orange glasses to filter out blue light (and read about the experiment I did on myself here!) Try to limit bright light exposure at least one hour before bed.
  • Consider deep breathing and mindfulness techniques to relax. I keep a meditationMP3 and a pair of earbuds by my bed every night, just in case. Even on my most stressful nights, following along with the voice’s commands is extremely helpful in relaxing me.
  • Associate your bed with sleeping only. Don’t study in bed. If you’re lying in bed paralyzed with stress and can’t fall asleep, get out of bed and find a quiet activity until you’re ready to try again. Associating your bed with insomnia will only make you dread bedtime even more each night.
  • If your insomnia is chronic (more than three times per week for at least three months), consider seeing a sleep specialist. They may prescribe you a medication that can suppress your body’s stress system, or refer you to a cognitive-behavior therapy specialist for treatment.

So…should I stay up an extra hour studying, or give myself an extra hour of sleep?

I don’t think this question needs answering anymore! Physical effects aside, sleep loss makes it difficult to learn, pay attention, and memorize information. Studying late at night, to a degree, becomes counterproductive; delaying sleep cuts into our precious slow-wave sleep stage, which is associated with reduced cortisol levels and memory consolidation.
You get one body and one brain in life. Give them enough sleep—it’s the single best thing you can do to perform and feel your best every day.

Jordan Gaines Lewis
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Friday, January 15, 2016

The Link Between Introversion and Loneliness

Introverts love solitude. As a full-fledged introvert myself, I relish my time alone and completely understand the desire to forego socializing. Socializing is draining for introverts and, frankly, a lot of it feels like pointless chit-chat.
Solitude is like the air that introverts breathe.
But this deep need for solitude—a legitimate need, by the way—does have the potential to turn into harmful social isolation. It’s a balancing act that all introverts face: How much time alone is too much time alone? How do I know when I’ve crossed the line from delightful alone-ness to fretful loneliness?
As someone who’s been through this journey, I’d like to share my advice for maintaining your precious alone time, while successfully staving off painful loneliness.
1. Pay attention to how your alone-ness is making you feel.
This, in my opinion, is the #1 piece of advice you can receive on this topic. The amount of time one can spend alone while still feeling perfectly happy varies from person to person, and for introverts, this amount of time can be substantial.
Monitoring your own individual feelings about the amount of time you’re spending alone is the best way to know when you’ve crossed the line from tranquil to lonely.
If you choose to be diligent about this effort, keep a regular log of how your alone-ness is making you feel. Once a day, on a scale of one to ten, rate how happy you feel with the amount of alone-ness you’ve experienced that day.
2. Focus on hanging out one-on-one or in small groups.
The average introvert strongly prefers socializing with just one other person or in small groups. Introverts tend to dislike a lot of stimulation, so when they attend a gathering where large numbers of people buzz around them, they’re likely to leave the gathering feeling more distressed than when they arrived.
One-on-one or small group interactions are excellent for staving off introvert loneliness because they provide all the benefits of socializing without the overstimulation.
3. If attending a large gathering, set expectations about when you will leave.
It’s a bit of an introvert’s nightmare to go to a large social gathering (especially if you don’t know anyone) without any end-point in sight.
As I discussed in my previous article, How Your Flaky Friend May Have Gotten That Way, some people feel an anticipatory anxiety around social gatherings that make them prone to flake out—not because they don’t want to be included, but because they’re genuinely anxious.
One of the best ways to mitigate anxiety around large gatherings is to make clear— both to yourself and to whomever else might be invested—what time you need to leave. Not only will this prevent you from ghosting inappropriately early in the night, your host will appreciate that you came for as long as you could.
4. Keep to a weekly quota of social interaction.
Some introverts have wiped social interaction off their calendars altogether, while others feel overwhelmed by the amount of social gatherings they’re expected to attend. A good way to strike a balance between solitude and socializing—no matter which end of the spectrum you’re on—is to set a weekly quota for social interaction.
Let’s say you decide to hold yourself to two social interactions per week. If you currently have no interactions scheduled, this will prompt you to reach out and start inviting people into your life. If you receive many invitations per week, this gives you permission to attend only the two you’re most excited about… and turn down the rest.
5. Stay smart about your online socializing.
When you find real-life interaction draining, as most introverts do, it can be tempting to turn over your whole social world to the Internet. The Internet allows you to chat with people when you feel like it, yet disengage at any moment. It creates the feeling that you have social support even when you’re alone. There’s no doubt that this is an intriguing prospect to the introverts among us.
But don’t rely too heavily on the Internet (or your phone) to fulfill your desire for togetherness. It’s profoundly difficult to get to know another real person through a device. And if, at any point, the person you thought you knew turns out to be a fraud, you’ll likely end up lonelier than you were before you met them.
Keep these tips in mind, fellow introverts! We have special gifts to share with the world, so don’t let our propensity for loneliness get in your way.
Kira Asatryan
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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Cooling Breeze of Janelia

I'm excited to have Janelia as a sponsor on 2 upcoming episodes of Modern Living with Dr. Angela on January 19th and 26th.  The vibe of the music is just breathtaking. 

Her music is available on her website or on Amazon

Check out her video (for a different song) below:

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Oceans Thailand offers a holistic client-centred evidence-based integrated treatment program delivered by qualified professionals in a compassionate and respectful way. A fast assessment process, private villas, modern facilities, peaceful surroundings by the beach, state of the art treatment program.

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The quest to live a loving and compassionate life can be challenging at times. Each day’s ups and downs are different, but the power of love is unmatched, and there in lies the journey of this album. An Americana, Folk-Rock, Roots, Country joy ride!

Elevator Music: ShaneO Da Optimist

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Debut album featuring the song "It's All God," pick up your copy now!

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Pick up your copy of "A Voice In The Wilderness-Volume 1" by David Vaters.

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