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Archive for the ‘Self-Improvement’ Category

Five ways to improve brain power – PhillyVoice.com

Posted: December 25, 2019 at 4:41 pm


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Weve all been theretrying to remember an actors name, which is right on the tip of your tongue, only to hopelessly give in to Googles promise of a quick, correct answer. What about pacing around the house in a hurry, desperately trying to remember where you left your keys? Its incredibly frustrating to feel like your brain isnt working to its fullest potential. Luckily, there are ways to keep the mind sharp and strong, improving things like memory and recall speedsomething that becomes increasingly vital as we age.

Meditation is often referred to as exercise for the brain, training your focus and attention to be more present and mindful of tasks. Doctors have found that routinely engaging in meditation may help to reduce the thinning of the prefrontal cortex, which can keep memory loss and impaired concentration at bay.

After pulling an all-nighter or spending a night tossing and turning, trying to function quickly and effectively the following day is always difficult. Thats because sleep helps your brain work faster and more accurately, giving your neurons a break from the activities of yesterday, and preparing them for the stimuli of tomorrow. One City University of New York study showed that students who got inadequate sleep chose simpler math problems than those who slept well, meaning they were more likely to pass up difficult tasks, which is not exactly a promising way to get ahead. Sleep also improves memory attention, and the brain is actually better at establishing memories when youre not awake.

Weve all heard the phrase brain food or been urged to eat a balanced breakfast before a big meeting or exam. While theres no single food that holds the key to a strong mind, nutritionists urge that one of the most important strategies for maintaining a sharp brain is to follow a nutrition plan filled with fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Certain foods, like berries, fatty fish, and leafy greens, are particularly helpful in improving overall brain health and cultivating mental function. To reap the full brain-powering benefits of a healthy diet, stay consistentthis will ensure the memory and mood boost that nourishing foods promise.

As kids and young adults, school requires us to continually develop our brain and improve the critical thinking skills required to expand brain power. But, as we age, were often less exposed to the kind of cognitive tasks that we encounter in school. This can make us more susceptible to conditions like dementia, making consistent brain stimulation as important as physical health. Many adults choose to continue their education in order to both develop their academic abilities and keep their minds sharp. Scientists have called it a fantastic tool for overall health and consider it a primary factor for brain health specifically. Consider joining a book club, taking classes at your local community college, or signing up for a foreign language course.

Though its recent popularity in the self-improvement field has positioned brain training as another fad, its fundamental to the maintenance of cognitive skills throughout life. Brain training helps with skills like attention, memory, problem solving, reading, and psychosocial functioning. Often used by psychologists and occupational therapists, the exercises include puzzle games like crosswords and sudoku, reading, writing, playing an instrument, and cooking a new recipe.

Our minds are the most powerful tool we have, deserving of respect and proper care. Prioritizing our brain power ensures we honor our greatest asset, helping us to stay sharp, clever, and high-functioning.

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December 25th, 2019 at 4:41 pm

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Jana Riess: What do Latter-day Saints do with the Book of Revelation? – Salt Lake Tribune

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As we close out 2019, Latter-day Saints the world over are scratching our heads about what the heck to do with the Book of Revelation, which is our scripture topic for December.

As you read Revelation 1222, look for parallels between what John saw and what you see in todays world, says this weeks curriculum for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Seek spiritual guidance to help you find personal lessons as you immerse yourself in Johns symbolic language.

According to biblical scholar Timothy Beal in "The Book of Revelation: A Biography," this confusion makes contemporary Latter-day Saints pretty much like all Christians everywhere in every age. And yet despite our inability to fathom pictorial images of red dragons and women clothed with the sun, Christians have tended to find in Revelation whatever we want, based on the biases of our own time and place. What makes Revelation successful for this purpose is also what makes it bewildering to read: Its so fragmented and heavily symbolic that wildly divergent groups in every age can read themselves into the text.

We seem to use it for two basic purposes.

First, we position our own particular religious stories in the text and place ourselves in the tiny minority of the human race who are depicted in Revelation as doing stuff right. Somehow, the readers who claim to have unlocked the Book of Revelation are always among the 144,000 elect people who get saved, not the other 108 billion or so hoi polloi who have ever walked the earth. For Latter-day Saints, this tendency also means that we interpret the angel in Revelation 14 as referring to Moroni unveiling the truth to Joseph Smith, and we see Revelation 7 as prophesying the restoration of the gospel (to us, conveniently enough!) in the latter days. We become the heroes of the text. And, in doing this, we are utterly typical of Revelations other readers throughout history.

The second thing is that people weaponize Revelation to other the groups that disagree with us, whether its Luther pinning a papal tiara on the unidentified whore of Babylon or Americans in the 1980s noting with glee that Ronald plus Wilson plus Reagan evoked the number 666. Im glad to see that the Latter-day Saint curriculum doesnt fully go there there are no attempts to pinpoint the identity of the beast or call out the deficiencies of other churches. But it does leave the door open for Sunday school classes and families to have that conversation, as the curriculum asks, What thoughts do your family members have about the deceiving beast? How do we detect and avoid deceptions we see in the world today?

What the church curriculum generally attempts to do with Revelation is a fascinating reflection of our own me-centered, therapeutic era: the Bibles most controversial book becomes a road map for each persons own spiritual growth. This approach manifestly does not work, but I have to admire the attempt, given how disastrous some of the other interpretive directions could have been.

For example, the section discussing the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 23 is headlined Jesus Christ knows me personally and will help me overcome my challenges. Instead of those chapters narrating a cosmic good-and-evil throwdown about which churches are bad and which are beloved, per the original, this regards the letters as self-improvement vehicles along the lines of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Its all about the individual believer pluckily trying to become a better person. (The curriculum also claims that the seven individual churches represented each branch of the church in Johns day, reflecting a centralized and thereby anachronistic misunderstanding of the autonomous chaos that was first-century Christianity, but ... whatever. Thats hardly the only historical issue here, since the curriculum also conflates the author of Revelation, John of Patmos, with the person who wrote the Gospel of John and the three letters of John.)

To transform Revelation from apocalyptic literature to self-help, the curriculum needs to defang the violence of the text, and it does this quite successfully. Here there be no dragons. The lessons do not talk about how God deploys angels to wipe out humans in new and ever-more-creative ways. The curriculums version of Revelation has no beheadings, no lake of fire, no plagues, no moon turned to blood, no rivers poisoned by God in order to kill us, no giant locusts with the tails of scorpions and the hair of women. In fact there are few references to Revelations many terrifying, lethal hybrid monsters. That whole petrifying section around Revelation 9 or so is dispatched in one summary paragraph that once again brings our focus back to individual self-improvement: As you read about the events John prophesied and watch some of them unfold, what are you inspired to do to better prepare yourself and your family for the Second Coming?

In other words, add more pinto beans to your years supply of food storage.

Like I said, Im actually grateful that the curriculum writers chose to go in this gently domesticated direction given the other possibilities at their disposal. (Whom do you think the Lord should consign to the Lake of Fire? Why or why not? is not a conversation Id like to have with fellow church members.)

There is more ink given here to the new heaven and the new earth of Revelation 2122 than there is attention to the disquieting chapters that lead up to it, which are largely about how God scorched the original earth beyond recognition in the first place. The curriculum offers material about God wiping every tear from our eyes but is silent about the earlier chapters in which God is the one who gave us every reason to weep when he sent, for example, a plague to wipe out all creatures in the sea or commissioned his angels to cut down human beings in our tracks with giant sickles. Its hard to know what to do with that.

So, how might we teach and think about this strange, dangerous book? Heres one strategy the Latter-day Saint curriculum suggests trying that Beal has experimented with profitably with his university students: Draw pictures of what you read about in Revelation.

I like this idea. This particular book of the Bible is not merely a text, Beal says, and thats not just because there were more than 300 manuscript versions of Revelation floating around in the first few centuries of Christianity before the canon was fixed and this book quite improbably, given its unveiled and totally impolitic criticisms of the Roman Empire that gathered the canon squeaked into place as the New Testaments culminating book. Its because Revelation is highly visual and experiential, a multimedia constellation of images and stories that are intended to evoke feelings more than to explicate doctrine.

A Gospel Doctrine class in which 20 people drew their interpretation of the same passage of this book would yield 20 completely different artistic understandings. And they would all be, in their own ways, correct. What could possibly be more reflective of our own era?

The views expressed in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.

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Jana Riess: What do Latter-day Saints do with the Book of Revelation? - Salt Lake Tribune

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December 25th, 2019 at 4:41 pm

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3 Resolutions for Investing in 2020: How to Make the Most of Your Portfolio – Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

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What are the market pressures investors need to be ready for in the new year, and how can they improve their portfolios while at the same time possibly improve the world?

By Will Lofland, Director and Head of Intermediary Distribution | GuideStone Funds December 20, 2019 Contact Me

As we near the new year, setting resolutions will be on the minds of many. Feeling in need of a fresh start, many individuals create goals for themselves centered around weight loss, self-improvement and making better financial decisions.

Making better financial decisions sounds like a wise thing to do in theory, but what all does that actually entail?

For many, one of the most overlooked resolutions within that bucket revolves around investing. When it comes to your portfolio and investing techniques, its easy to set it and forget it in a sense, but its a missed opportunity not to take advantage of aligning ones resolutions with changes in your portfolio.

While investors dont need to make tweaks constantly, the new year can serve as a reminder to check in with your approach, where you are today and where you want to be over the short and long term.

As we head into 2020, here are three resolutions to consider specific to your investment portfolio:

Its no secret that 2019 saw its fair share of market volatility. In fact, many in the industry are saying that we are in the ninth inning of this bull market, so a downturn to some extent is inevitable.

While we are cautiously optimistic, there are market concerns at play including the Fed cutting rates again, geopolitical turmoil and the upcoming political season expected to dominate the headlines for the next 12 months.

While we dont recommend taking the chips off the table heading into 2020, we do recognize where the markets may go. Implementing a defensive strategy can reduce portfolio volatility while still providing long-term capital appreciation. For example, the health care and utilities sectors have a defensive nature and may be worth working into an overall allocation in the new year.

The beauty of todays market environment is that there are new ways individuals can approach their investments. For example, five to 10 years ago, investing philosophies such as SRI (socially responsible investing), ESG (environment, social and government) and faith- or values-based investing were in their infancy stages with only one or two fund families that offered niche products.

Now, with hundreds of products on the market within these arenas, investors have easier access and the ability to truly align their values with their portfolio. According to a survey conducted by Bank of America, 82% of high-net-worth investors who align with ESG portfolio choices ones backing companies that are good corporate citizens see investing as a way to directly express their personal values.

At the start of the new year, take time to determine what values define or matter to you. Are you anti-tobacco? Do you support water-preservation efforts? Do you want to avoid companies that align with gambling? Have an open dialogue with your financial professional and highlight what matters to you, and he/she can identify appropriate solutions to weave into your portfolio.

Every company has room for growth and room to make an impact. Understand that as an investor, you have the power to do more. For example, there are faith-based investment companies like GuideStone with shareholder advocacy programs that work to encourage other companies to evolve based on community and consumer preference (e.g., CVS opting to take tobacco off their shelves). The goal is to take your investing habits to the next level by engaging with companies to communicate why your values matter in your investment decisions.

With 2020 right around the corner, remember that setting resolutions for the new year is about taking a specific interest in amplifying your portfolio and making the intentional effort to adopt those changes. Over the coming weeks, work closely with your adviser to implement these resolutions and others that may be important to you.

As with any resolution, the road to success begins with the desire to change and the thoughtfulness to create a solid plan.

Will Lofland is director and head of intermediary distribution at GuideStone Funds based in Dallas, Texas. In addition, Will oversees GuideStone's shareholder advocacy strategy and represents the firm as a participant in the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.

Comments are suppressed in compliance with industry guidelines. Click here to learn more and read more articles from the author.

This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC or with FINRA.

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3 Resolutions for Investing in 2020: How to Make the Most of Your Portfolio - Kiplinger's Personal Finance

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December 25th, 2019 at 4:41 pm

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A Guide To A Clean Eating Diet Over The HolidaysAnd Why A Year-Round Regimen Makes A Difference – Forbes

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Clean eating is more than a movement. Its a holistic approach to food that can lead to a tougher immune system, increased energy levels, a stronger heart, improved brain health and more. So what does eating clean for beginners look like in practiceand what does it take to reap the benefits?

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What is clean eating?

According to the Mayo Clinic, clean eating describes following a whole food diet, which consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats, while limiting the consumption of processed snack foods, sweets and other packaged goods.

Healthy eating benefits

This season, you should think French green beans over French friesand for a variety of reasons. Medical News Today reports that clean eating can deliver significant health benefits, including:

Food blogger and author of Anti-Inflammatory Drinks For Health Maryea Flaherty knows quite a bit about the upside of clean eating. After her mother was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic cancer, Flaherty began researching the relationship between nutrition and diseasewhich ultimately inspired her to rework her approach to food and start a blog focused on nutrition and natural living. Today, Flaherty writes on a variety of food and wellness topics via Happy Healthy Mama.

While in the past she never made the connection between food and health, Flaherty says she now credits clean eating for contributing to the overall health of her family, including her two young children.

I have healthy kids because they have a nutrient-dense diet, says Flaherty. When you eat a lot of processed foods, you eat fewer fruits and vegetables because theres less room in your diet. Her regular family meals now include eggs, oatmeal, chicken and vegetables.

Getting started with healthy diet changes

It may be the season for eggnog, latkes and a slew of other seasonal sweets, but Flaherty has guidance for those aiming to eat clean during the holidays, and perhaps adjust their habits more permanently. Consider these quick tips if youre looking for healthy lifestyle diet changes.

Think delicious with your clean eating diet

People have preconceived notions that eating a healthy diet cant be tasty, says Flaherty. But for the healthy food advocate, nutritious combinations can please the palate, too.

Many of her featured recipes include items such as pitted dates, nuts, cocoa powder, raw honey and unsweetened shredded coconut, for instanceingredients that pack a flavorful punch without the added sugar and calories. For Flaherty, the trick is to dedicate some time to educate yourself about healthy alternatives to anything thats fried, high in sugar or packed with trans fats. Incorporate those still-tasty alternatives into your daily diet, and the easier it could be to commit long-term to a clean eating regimen.

Shop smart for your whole food diet

Clean eating begins in the grocery store, not your fridge. Consider these tips when youre shopping:

Eat organic when you meal plan for clean eating

There are plenty of advantages to eating organic foodsproducts that dont contain any pesticides, fertilizers, solvents or additives. USDA-certified organic foods are grown and processed according to strict federal guidelines that cover everything from soil quality and pest control to animal raising practices. While not everyone can afford to limit their diet to organic food, it doesnt need to limit healthier choices.

If you can afford organic, thats fantastic. Then youre getting less pesticides in your food, says Flaherty. But non-organic foods are still nutritious. So if you cant afford them, dont let that stop you from eating fresh produce.

Be kind to yourself with healthy eating lifestyle changes

Clean eating should be a life goal, not a daily obsession, says Flaherty. Theres a fine line between being conscious and trying to eat clean and becoming obsessed with healthy eating.

Cutting out sugar-laden and fatty foods can certainly improve your mood and boost your energy levels. But eliminating entire categories of food, such as carbs or grains, can be counter-productive. I try not to demonize any food groups, says Flaherty. I just eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains rather than foods that are processed.

Identifying how to start a whole food diet is all about finding balance: making smart, thoughtful choices about what to purchase and prepare while educating yourself and prioritizing self-improvementnot perfection.

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A Guide To A Clean Eating Diet Over The HolidaysAnd Why A Year-Round Regimen Makes A Difference - Forbes

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December 25th, 2019 at 4:41 pm

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Decembers New Moon In Capricorn Is The Last Of The Decade And It’s Bringing Good Vibes – Women’s Health

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The holidays are all about being kind and generous to those around you, and its definitely a vibe thats holly jolly for humanity. But this year, the universe is doubling down on all those warm, fuzzy feelings with a new moon in Capricorn.

Its all happening on December 26, and its going to draw out your holiday spirit a liiittle bit longer, says Donna Page, a certified astrologer in Atlanta. Of course, its a little more complicated than that. Heres what your sign can expect:

Backing up a sec: A new moon happens when the earth lines up with the sun, making the moon all but invisible from Earth. There are 12 new moons a year, and each is linked with a different astrological sign.

This particular new moon is vibrating with Jupiter, basically turning you into a cooler version of Santa Claus, Page says. Jupiter likes to do things up right, so youll find yourself going big on late holiday gifts (those post-Christmas discounts can be pretty deep...) for other people and, ya know, yourself.

FYI: Your Zodiac Sign Changes Every 30 Years

The new moon in Capricorn is also going to fill you up with some serious optimism. "Theres a huge feeling of expanding possibilities and hope, and a sense that you can accomplish your dreams," Page says. So, maybe 2019 wasnt your year, but 2020 can will be.

While musing on that kickass future, youre going to want to spend some solid time with your best buds. You might even start up your own Friendsmas tradition to help celebrate the people who make up your chosen family. (Come to think of it, December 26 seems like a pretty perfect day to start such an awesome tradition, right?)

To top off the cherry on that new moon sundae is a huge humanitarian vibe. Youll take a beat to think about how you can make the world a better placeand then actually do something about it. Whether that means volunteering at your local soup kitchen, fostering a shelter dog, or carrying your elderly neighbor's groceries for her, you'll be all about lending a helping hand.

The new moon in Capricorn will affect every zodiac sign, but Capricorn and Cancer will feel it the most, Page says.

Here's what your sign says about what you like in the bedroom:

Since the New Moon is sending all kinds of do-gooder energy your way, you have two options: You can roll your eyes at it and keep doing your own thing, or you can take a sec to actually think about what positive changes you can bring about.

Take option A, and life will continue on pretty much as usual. Go for option B andnot to be totally sappy, butyoull feel really, really good about where youre headed in life, and what youre contributing to the world. Tbh, neither choice is wrong, but one def gives you the chance to do a lil' self-improvementjust in time for your 2020 New Year's resolutions.

The next new moon is happening on January 24, 2020 in the sign of Aquarius. When it goes down, you might be dealing with some complicated emotions but, dont stress, its not necessarily a bad thing (maybe a slightly weird thing, because Aquarians, but not "bad").

Until then, soak up the sweet vibes of the new moon in Capricornand pay it forward.

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Decembers New Moon In Capricorn Is The Last Of The Decade And It's Bringing Good Vibes - Women's Health

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December 25th, 2019 at 4:41 pm

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2020 Health & Wellness Trends to Know About Now – SheKnows

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Image: Keith Homan/Oleksandrum/ Alluneed/ Ashley Britton/SheKnows.

This year, the health and wellness world was all a buzz with oat milk lattes, elderberries and, of course, the ultimate at home luxury fitness accessory: the Peloton Bike. Wellness is a market that is constantly growing and evolving, and according to the most recent study by the Global Wellness Institute, the global wellness market is valued at $4.2 trillion, up 12.8 percent from 2015. And with no sign of the market slowing down, we got to wondering what will we be trying, sipping and lathering on in 2020 to keep feeling our best? We did some digging and compiled a few of the biggest health and wellness trends that the coming year the new decade will bring.

Weve all hit the snooze button one too many times, and according to the National Sleep Foundation, 45 percent of Americans are not getting the sleep they need. Sleep is vital for cell function, maintaining a healthy weight and reducing stress. So, its no surprise, with sleep becoming a growing priority, that more and more sleep apps are becoming available along with melatonin gummies and natural supplements hitting the mainstream marketplace.

Another way to enhance your sleeping in 2020 is to use blue blocking glasses or screen protectors that filter and reduce exposure to blue light waves that can keep you awake. Warby Parker just launched their own line. Or if youre in the Houston area, consider popping over toa place like Nap Bar for a quick midday snooze.

Chances are youve probably heard all about CBD oil. Its in virtually everything from pet treats to skincare, but what is the hype all about? CBD is the abbreviation for cannabidiol, one of the chemical compounds found in marijuana or hemp. Unlike THC, which is another compound found in marijuana, CBD is not psychoactive. In other words, you will not get stoned. However, because advocates say the compound will reduce your anxiety and help manage pain, the market for CBD is growing at a rate of 132 percent.

Shannon Sherfey, a physician at Newton Family Physicians says, I think thats partly why it has become so popular. People are grasping at straws for help with things like stress, anxiety and insomnia, and so many other medical problems that are not easily treated. So, what type of CBD products can you look for in 2020? Topical lotions that can be applied directly to problematic areas, gummies to aid insomnia and capsules that can be swallowed to provide immediate relief.

Taking care of our physical health by drinking water, getting a good nights sleep and working out are things we all know to do, but what about our personal well-being? In a culture where #girlboss and #riseandgrind are daily mottos for many, hiring a personal life coach has never been more common.

With a steady 6.7 percent growth rate in the U.S. self-improvement industry, projections show the industry reaching an all-time high in 2020, with a value at $1 billion. Niki Puls, the life coach behind the company Lion Hearted Coaching (@lionheartedcoaching) says that people seek out life coaching in times of transition. Many people seek out a coach because they are feeling stuck or overwhelmed. They just need to get the momentum going and want to make sure they are heading in the right direction, she says.

It all started with veggie burgers and then came the demand for even more realistic faux burgers. Cue Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. With their bleeding patties and meat like texture, consumers couldnt get enough and Burger King even jumped on the bandwagon.

While we can expect these burgers to continue making headlines, 2020 has its sights set on providing other plant-based meat alternatives that go beyond the burger. Gardein, a plant-based meat company just introduced mini crab-less crab cakes and vegan cult favorite restaurant, by Chloe launched a Chicky collection that consists of tempeh-based faux chicken.

The increase in plant-based meats comes on the heels of consumers learning the health and environmental benefits of ditching animal products. Studies have linked red meat to an increase in cancer risks and the animal agriculture industry is the second largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions which is a major cause of climate change. So, whether you want to try a chicken-less sandwich or venture into the sea of faux-fish patties, the options are only going to continue to grow in 2020.

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2020 Health & Wellness Trends to Know About Now - SheKnows

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December 25th, 2019 at 4:41 pm

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Want to really improve someones life? Buy them a gift that helps them unplug – MarketWatch

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Young and old people alike today are eager to rip the wrapping off of life, not boxes. In fact, as a new year and a new decade approaches, getting out of the box is exactly the point. People increasingly strive to be consumed by a world they design and desire, rather than consume whatever designer doodad the world tells them they need.

If this describes someone close to you, and you want to give them a unique gift, tis the season to go om for the holidays. Send them to a retreat center a secluded escape from deadlines, family-and-work drama and the distraction of social media and electronics. Now go one step further and choose a facility where, in addition to traditional yoga, meditation, massage and spa offerings, guests can enroll in the school of life through workshops focused on wellness and mindfulness, creativity, management skills, relationships, and other personal and professional goals.

Spending time immersed in a pristine, natural environment is enough to relieve tension and bring a sense of nourishment, says Travis Newbill of Shambala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lakes, Colo. If you combine this with techniques that promote self-reflection, relaxation and heighten our capacity to tune in to our surroundings, the benefit is even more profound.

Retreats can move us forward. Workshop topics cover the spectrum from art to Zen. Theres something for everyone: purists and pursuers; spiritual and secular; intuitive and intellectual.

Its an opportunity to stretch into areas you may be ignoring in your life, says Carla Goldstein, president of the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, near Rhinebeck, N.Y. People go back feeling refreshed and connected, and remembering that being human means that we are learning throughout our lifetime.

These life-coaching and life-living classes typically run over a weekend or several days. Residential retreat centers can be magnificent, such as the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, Calif., with its hot springs and ocean-view massage sessions, or more minimalist. Some centers have all-inclusive pricing, while others charge a workshop fee plus room and board.

Enlightenment and edification isnt cheap, so expect a decidedly non-minimalist bill: a two-night weekend workshop at Esalen in a basic private room with three meals a day is about $1,300, for example. A similar stay at Omega runs a few hundred dollars for a workshop plus about $750 for a standard private room with board; a weekend at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, Mass., costs about the same. By comparison, a weekend workshop with a private room at The Art of Living Retreat Center in Boone, N.C., can be less than $1,000. Retreats have cropped up in every corner of the world, but U.S. residents, particularly those with time constraints, will likely find their place without having to leave the country.

Programs have their own look and feel. Usually they are led by professionals, often well-known in their fields, with an appropriately alternative, new-age slant. Upcoming workshops at Esalen, for example, include Unfinished Business: Create Your Next Steps in Life From the Inside Out, and Its Not Your Money How to Live Fully From Divine Abundance. Omegas programs in 2020 feature a meditation weekend with revered Buddhist teacher Pema Chdrn, a writing workshop with cartoonist and author Lynda Barry, and relationship coaching from Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt, the married authors of the popular book Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples.

Different retreat centers offer different experiences, so we recommend choosing based on an individuals needs, says Cheryl Fraenzl, Esalens director of programs. Perhaps the person is looking for a weekend to simply rest and restore. Other times a person is seeking a specific experience, whether it be reigniting a sense of creativity, expanding a somatic practice, or delving into relationship dynamics. Finding the right workshop fit is important.

Websites to assist in a search include Retreat Guru, which filters retreats according to price, type, location, teachers and other criteria. Cameron Wenaus, Retreat Gurus co-founder and CEO, says the site monitors and reviews thousands of retreat centers worldwide to ensure their legitimacy. We want people to be able to feel they can trust, he says, and to be empowered to ask the retreat centers the right questions.

What type of questions? Wenaus suggests contacting the workshops instructor beforehand to inquire about the class agenda and objectives, and about the teachers related life experiences. Plus, find out how best to prepare for the course, such as books and videos to study. Be clear about your intention, Wenaus says. If you go in foggy, you get a foggy result.

If all this fits your special someone, heres the tricky part: getting that person on board if theyre not already so inclined. Many people pay no mind to mindfulness. They have no need to disconnect in order to connect with themselves and others. People are creatures of habit; an unsolicited invitation to make life changes, especially in the self-improvement department, could be misinterpreted as critical and condescending.

If people arent ready for that kind of work, it could be threatening, Wenaus says. One solution if a friend or loved one is resistant or new to new-age thinking is for you to be their retreat companion. This can help allay any fear and even strengthen the bond between you.

The pleasant surprise for many retreat participants is discovering a community of like-minded, open-minded people. This sense of being part of something bigger than yourself is reinforced by a retreats natural setting. Esalen is perched above the rugged Northern California coast; Kripalu is nestled in the picturesque Berkshire Mountains; The Art of Living is deep in the lush Blue Ridge Mountains; Shambala is high in the Rockies.

Electronics generally are discouraged, so binge-watch Stranger Things at home. Wi-Fi and mobile-phone service may be available, but reception can be spotty and coverage limited at best. Meals are health-conscious, and tea and water, not alcohol, will fill your cup.

We are modeling what it means to live in a healthy community, says Goldstein, Omegas president. Bring a flashlight, flat shoes, a sweater, bug spray, and openness.

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Want to really improve someones life? Buy them a gift that helps them unplug - MarketWatch

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December 25th, 2019 at 4:41 pm

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Self-Care Practices for People Short on Time and Money – Thrive Global

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Self-care is trending in wellness, self-help, and business and anyone fromThe Oprah MagazinetoForbesoffers advice on self-care practices and rituals. There are evenpodcastsdedicated exclusively to self-care. We know that self-care practices contribute to feeling better, improve our self-awareness and self-confidence, leave us with more energy and calm, and overall contribute to our well-being. Our health, relationships, work, productivity, creativity all depend on making time for us. Self-care is not selfish; its essential. Why then, according toPubMed:

Only 6.6% of Americans 25 years of age and older engaged in health-related self-care each day.

More than one in four Americans (28%) say they feel guilty when practicing self-care. So why dont most people practice self-care? Turns out people believe thy dont have time for it (44 percent) or they dont have the money for it (35 percent). (Source:Harris Poll)

With this in mind, Unhustle has the following self-care recommendations that are specifically for people who lack the time (isnt this everybody these days?) and include a minimum financial investment.

Self-care is an all-encompassing mind-body-spirit connection affecting all aspects of holistic well-being physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. It may come as a surprise to learn that factors outside the doctors office determine as much as 80 percent of someones health. 9 out of 10 physicians say that self-care is important to overall health, yet 43% of people say they have more important things to do. (Source: Harris Poll). Self-care means taking responsibility for your health.

So if you want to stay away from the doctors office, you awe it to yourself to put self-care high on your todo list no more guilt for taking care of your health.

Breathwork affects heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol commonly referred to as the stress hormone. Frombox breathingto4-7-8 breathingtoWim Hof breathing, oralternate nostril breathing, it only takes a few minutes to engage in breathing. You can do it anywhere, anytime.

Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. You can do this anywhere, anytime, as long as you are not driving.

Heres a 1-minute meditation fromTara Brach:

Get comfortable and close your eyes.

Listen.

Coming into stillness, take some time to scan your body and just see what wants to relax, to let go a little.

You might take a full, deep in-breath, filling the chest, filling the lungs, and a slow out-breath, feeling the sensations of the breath as you release.And again, a deep in-breath, and a slow out-breath, letting your breath, then resume in its natural rhythm, opening to your senses, feeling the breath in the foreground, and relaxing with the background of sensations, sounds, feelings, and life.

Laughinghelpsreduce stress, relaxes the body, elevates your mood, lowers blood pressure, connects you to others, and fosters relaxation and relationships.One minute of laughingburnsthe same number of calories as 6 to 10 minutes on a treadmill.

Put your favorite music on, kick your shoes off and start dancing. It will boost your mood and energy, and moving your body will help you feel better. Besides being a great cardio workout,dancingcan improve cardiovascular health, increase stamina, strengthen bones and muscles, and stave off illnesses. Dancing can even help you keep your brain sharp. To see the many benefits of dancing, check out thisarticle.

Coloringhelpsyou get into a meditative state. It will help you lower your stress level, aid relaxation, boost creativity, and even help you improve sleep and attention span. Get the pencils out and colora book.

Taking time to play with your dogmeansyou stay active, get sick less often, youll have better heart health, youll be less stressed out and exercise more. All good reasons to spend more time with your pooch plus theyll love it.

Journaling is a self-care practice that takes little time and money.Studiesshow that journaling helps with sleep difficulties, lower cardiovascular-related inflammation, manage stress, and alleviate depression.Here are some of myfavorite journalsto explore, in addition to my favoriteBullet Journal.

Got an hour? Hit the gym, or stay home and do some yoga, strength training, or TRX.

Get some fresh air and sunshine and practice mindfulness by observing nature.

Grab a new book or a favorite old book and read. Readinghelpswith mental stimulation, stress reduction, knowledge, memory improvement, stronger analytical skills, improved focus, and concentration. Plus, youll get lost in the story (hopefully its a good book) and forget about your todo list.

Reconnect with an old friend in the real world instead of using social media.

Explore your own town and act like a tourist. Get curious and pretend youve never been here before. Discover something or visit a popular tourist attraction. Its good to see your own town from the eyes of a tourist.

Most of our stress is self-induced with too much going on and too much to do. Take a day to simplify your schedule and eliminate the things that overwhelm you.

Take a day off from technology and disconnect from your devices. Put the phone on airplane mode, and dont touch your laptop. Give your mind the chance to recover from all the noise and information overload. If you cant do it for a day, see if you can do it for an hour. Disconnecting will help you go from FOMO (Fear of Missing out) to JOMO (Joy of Missing out). Considering, we are addicted to technology, we need to treat it as an addiction and take intentional breaks from it.

Gallupstates that in the U.S., 6 out of 10 Americans actually take their vacations. Completely disconnecting from the office is useful for your health, productivity, and creativity. I wrote more about the topic of vacation onthe Unhustle blog.

Create time to work on something that brings you joy. It will put you in a good mood and make you happier.

From DIY manicure and pedicure to facial, massage, hair masks, or teeth whitening, DYI spa treatments dont cost an arm and a leg. For most of them, you probably already have everything you need at home. Have an egg at home? Try thisfacialon and see how your skin feels.

Go outside and connect with nature and sunlight.Harvard Medical Schoolstates that going outside benefits your Vitamin D levels, boost happiness, improves concentration, and even helps you heal faster.

Serve others and do good

Help someone with your time, skills, talents, and experience the benefits of volunteering. In a time when we all hustle and lack time, making time for volunteering is even more difficult, yet 25% of Americansfind timeto do it regularly. Volunteering is not only good for the cause or the person but also for the person volunteering. Science shows that volunteering can help with stress reduction, combating depression, and providing a sense of purpose.

Amid all the hustle, holidays, and plans for the new year, self-care gets pushed further down the priority list. But we need to remember that self-care is not selfish. Self-care is essential. We need to take care of our physical, emotional, spiritual well-being so we can show up in the world in our optimal state.

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Self-Care Practices for People Short on Time and Money - Thrive Global

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December 25th, 2019 at 4:41 pm

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‘Little Women’ and the Feminist Search for Righteousness – ChristianityToday.com

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I spent significant portions of my childhood creating and wearing hoop skirts, so I have been curious about screenwriter and director Greta Gerwigs new Little Women film coming out this Christmas. During middle school, I was a huge fan of all things Alcott. I read all of her works and watched every film adaptation I could find.

I couldnt agree more with Gerwig when she recently told Vanity Fair, This feels like autobiography When you live through a book, it almost becomes the landscape of your inner life It becomes part of you, in a profound way. Gerwigs will be the fourth major Hollywood adaptation of the classic novel. The story of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy seems to stand the test of time. Which has recently struck me as somewhat odd.

The evangelical, homeschooling world I grew up in promoted Little Women as espousing the lost values of America. Alcott frequently talks about a young womans ability to gain or lose virtue, and her characters find happy endings through marriage and children. There is no hint of sexual revolution in her pages.

Yet feminists in particular keep retelling the story. With the exception of the 1950s version, each adaptation of Little Women has featured some of Hollywoods most outspokenly feminist actresses. Katherine Hepburn, who famously wore pants in public (a significant statement on gender in her time), played Jo first in the 1930s. The 1990s version featured Susan Sarandon, who had become a feminist icon in Thelma & Louise and publicly encourages men to identify as feminists.

This years version comes from a director who previously received accolades for writing and starring in the explicitly pro-choice romance, Francis Ha. Gerwig has said that the Alcotts were the most modern people who had ever existed, up till that point, and she has been forthright about her interest in portraying Jo and neighboring boy Laurie as androgynous and gender-neutral in their youthful years since They find each other before theyve committed to a gender.

Whether homeschool-curriculum writers understood it or not, Little Women truly belongs in the canon of feminist literature. Long before the sexual revolution, and long before feminism was synonymous with abortion and reproductive freedom, the movement was about work. The main debate surrounding middle- and upper-class women in 19th-century America revolved around whether women should desire idleness or to be economically productive members of society. As labor began to be divided between men and women, idleness implied economic stability. The wealthier the family, the less women were expected to work in or outside of the home. Hiring others to do housework (maids, nannies, etc.) was for the economically stable woman. Earning wages was for the poor.

At the heart of Alcotts feminism is her fundamental belief that all women ought to work. Throughout her novels, Alcotts characters are women who are industrious economically and domestically.

Little Women is a tale of progress, and ultimately of virtue-signaling. In the opening pages of her novel, Alcott explains that the four March girls are on a journey of self-improvement. They each have their strengths and gifts, and each their own temptations. The real plot of the book is not whether they will marry, but whether these four young women will progress, becoming better people who do good.

The primary illustration Alcott uses to discuss the matter is The Pilgrims Progress. In the voice of Marmee, Alcott espouses in the first chapter of Little Women that Our burdens are here, our road is before us, and the longing for goodness and happiness is the guide that leads us through many troubles and mistakes to the peace which is a true Celestial City. Now my little pilgrims, suppose you begin again, not in play, but in earnest, and see how far on you can get

The novel is made up of vignettes from the girls lives chronicling their various paths up the hill of personal improvement. To conclude each vignette, Alcott offers a short sermon observing the karmic results of the girls actions. When they do good, they eventually reap the benefits, though the path might be painful. When they act selfishly, they fail, often comically suffering the outcomes in order to learn a lesson. There is a lesson to all of Alcotts episodes: Moral people will eventually prosper and the wicked must bolster their efforts toward self-improvement.

This is why Little Women is endlessly attractive to modern feminists. For after all, feminism, like all of the worlds -isms, is at its core a system self-improvement, offering to adherents freedom and utopia. My peers talk freely about being good or bad feminists. They judge and are judged in turn according to the morality of third- or fourth-wave feminism. Hepburn, Sarandon, and Gerwig all have understood that the tale of individual moral progress within Little Women can be recontextualized for each new generation. Feminist role models must be recast according to feminisms evolving morality.

To be clear, Alcott may have lived in the 19th century, but she was not an orthodox Christian. The system she puts forth, and which those involved with Little Womens many film adaptations keep contextualizing, is without grace and mercy. The messiness of atonement, the pain of forgiveness, and the language of sin are not to be found in Little Women. Alcott and her family were neighbors of Ralph Waldo Emerson and were noted transcendentalists themselves. A growing movement in the early 19th century, particularly in New England, Alcotts transcendentalism meant she believed that the human soul must be perfected in this life. She even maintained that religion could help. But she did not believe in the need for a crucified Savior whose blood dripped on behalf of four little girls. When she referenced Pilgrims Progress, she did so without referencing conversion. She promoted progress, without first promoting the new heart only grace can create.

Despite the ways I have been processing Alcott and Hollywoods moralistic world, on a recent rereading, I discovered something new in Little Women. As often happens, stories often show us unintended glimmers of grace. Alcotts discussion of the girls need for progress takes place against the backdrop of the girls longing for their father, who is away during the Civil War.

The catalyst for their desire to improve is a letter from their father. In it, he writes,

A year seems very long to wait before I see them, but remind them that while we wait we may all work, so that these hard days need not be wasted. I know that they will be loving children to you, will do their duty faithfully, fight their bosom enemies bravely, and conquer themselves so beautifully that when I come back to them I may be fonder and prouder than ever of my little women.

These words are a hidden nod to the true motivation for virtuethe love of the father who sees in his children what does not yet exist. The works-based morality of modern feminism tells its adherents that right thinking and right living must be first earned in order to be considered lovely.

Within her most convincing sermon for works-based morality, Alcott inadvertently reveals what the Christian believes to be truethat the Father mercifully calls us lovely. In response, we are remade into the women he has meant for us to be.

Hannah Nation is a writer and editor based in Cambridge, MA, and temporarily living in the Netherlands. She received her MA in church history from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and serves as the communications and content director for China Partnership.

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'Little Women' and the Feminist Search for Righteousness - ChristianityToday.com

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December 25th, 2019 at 4:41 pm

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It is no wonder teachers’ nerves are frayed when they are faced with today’s many challenges – HeraldScotland

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I HAVE great sympathy for the anonymous letter writer (December 19) who spoke about the difficulties wearing teachers down thanks to the behaviour in class of children from dysfunctional families where drug dependency and anti-social conduct is the milieu within which those youngsters have to operate at home

Socialisation is sorely needed in such cases but that is outwith the remit of a classroom teacher who has to herd at least 30 other young charges at the same time.

Specialist attention needs to be given to those who are in need of such remediation, and they have to be identified early in the educational cycle to afford them the chance of self- improvement. Even if it were to mean holding them back until they were ready to enter mainstream classes, it would be to the benefit of the teachers and all the pupils. It would mean more money having to be allocated to provide specialist facilitators to encourage better behaviour.

That would be a price worth paying.

However, there are other much more endemic problems teachers have to endure.

Low-level misbehaviour and inattention hamper proper classroom learning, which difficulty is compounded by the way classrooms are set up in groups these days.

A fair amount of teaching time is lost through the time consumed in bringing classes to order so that the lesson can be delivered.

There is also the ownership of (this reveals my age) of mobile phones which pupils bring to school and which create distraction.

Add to that the numbing complexity of the new curriculum which bogs teachers down so that they cannot function fully on the levels they know they could reach, if it were not for the deadening influence of the dumbed-down elements of what has to be taught.

Over and above we have the lack of adequate sanctions to discourage slackness and misconduct. School administrators, out of fear of adverse publicity, tend to take the side of the miscreants instead of supporting their staff members.

It is no wonder that the nerves of teachers are frayed when they are faced with such multiple challenges when they should be stretching their pupils instead of having them tread water for the first few years of school.

I just wonder whether parents should be asked, before their offspring will be accepted by the school, to sign a contract which states that pupils must come to school punctually, be properly equipped for what they have to do, show respect to their teachers and carry out what they are asked to do diligently. Failure to observe the contract would result in exclusion.

To all those who are at the chalkface (another reference which betrays my age) I extend my commiserations. I know you are doing the best job you can under those trying circumstances.

I just wish you had the conditions to allow you to do a much better job to improve Scotland's standing in the world of education

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.

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It is no wonder teachers' nerves are frayed when they are faced with today's many challenges - HeraldScotland

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December 25th, 2019 at 4:41 pm

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