10 Ways To Improve Your Outlook On Life

It’s hard to slow down these days.  There’s always something to do, and ten more after that.  If you feel like your day ends before it begins, you’re not alone.  But this isn’t healthy.  Stress increases your chances of heart attacks and creates other health risks.  But what do you do?  The first step is to slow down.  Once you do that, you can improve your outlook on life.  After that, you might find some of the things that are keeping you so busy aren’t as important as you think.

Here are some tips to get started.  These ten ideas can help slow you down.  Once you do that, you may find that you will improve your outlook on life.

Focus On Family

Your immediate and extended family are important. They will be there for you.  And, also, they need you to be there for them.  Have you played with your kids lately?  When was the last time you saw your nieces or nephews?  Even picking up the phone and checking in on a family member you haven’t talked to is important.  Family comes first.  Make an effort to let your loved ones know that they are just that.  Those connections are important and can ground you to a happier place.

Exercise

Take a walk.  Or, if you’re up for it, a jog.  Maybe a bike ride.  Whatever you do isn’t as important as getting out there and doing something.  Your heart needs to work.  The chemical release you’ll get after you finish a workout can help you feel better.  If you haven’t exercised in a while, start small.  But the important word there is to start.  You’ll feel better.

Enjoy Nature

The world around us is a beautiful place.  Many times we miss that.  We get in the car and go where we need to do.  We rush around. When all that is done, we never take a chance to look around and enjoy the world around us. Get out there and do just that!  Find a beach.  Go to a park.  Enjoy a sunrise or sunset.  When we take time to enjoy nature, we realize what a big place the world is.  That perspective is cool.

Turn Off Technology

Phones and tablets and satellite radio keeps us connected.  That’s a good thing, but it’s also overwhelming.  Many people stay so focused on all of the information those things deliver that they miss out on what’s right in front of us!  I’m often guilty of this. If you put down the technology for a while, you’ll pay attention to people and things right in front of you.  You’ll find that the information you think you need can wait.

Save Money

One thing that keeps us going is money.  We try to earn it so that we can spend it.  This cycle keeps us busy, that much is for sure!  But it often takes over our lives.  One thing you can do to counter that is to save money.  When you have savings, you won’t need to worry as much about how you’ll pay for things.  The comfort of knowing that money is where you need it can free your mind and your time for other things.  Start saving money today and it’ll pay off tomorrow.

Read A Book

The world around us can stress us out and overwhelm us.  One way to get away from that is to enjoy the other worlds out there. And there are so many!  Getting lost in a good book can take you away from your worries.  Once you put the book down, you’ll often find that the things you are worried about aren’t as bad as you think.  Opening your imagination will stimulate your brain.

Catch Up With An Old Friend

How many people do you think of that you no longer talk to?  Why? Because we don’t have enough time?  That’s the common excuse.  Well, guess what?  You’ll never get more time than you have today!  So, stop using that excuse and call an old friend.  Catch up.  Reminisce.  Laugh.  It’ll make you feel better.  If you want to improve your outlook on life, this is an easy one!

Try Something New

Taking on a new challenge is a big opportunity for many.  We often get stressed because we’ve built walls around our lives.  These walls keep us doing the same things and getting stuck in the same patterns.  Breaking free of that is important.  There’s no better way to do that than by taking on a new challenge.  Try something you haven’t done before.  Start a blog.  Learn a new language.  Take a class.  You’ll open up parts of your brain that are waiting to be used.  This can give you excitement and stimulation and improve your outlook overall.

Worship

I’m definitely guilty of saying that there isn’t time to go to church.  That’s one thing that’s different from previous generations.  In the old days, going to church was something you did, and if you ran out of time, something else got pushed aside.  Somehow we’ve reversed that.  If you, like me, are guilty of this, put some time to worship on your calendar, and stick to it!  Attend a service.  Being reminded that there are higher powers that have put us here for a reason can help put things in a vastly different perspective.

Cross Something Off A To-Do List

Everybody’s got a list of things they need to get done.  How many of those things have been on your list for a long time?  You may not realize it, but those things weigh your mind down.  They’re always there.  Nagging.  Waiting.  Making you worry and causing you stress.  So, find something that you have wanted to do, and do it!  Find the time.  Get it done.  Cross it off.  Then, enjoy the reduced stress you now have from accomplishing a goal.

These are just some of my ideas on how to reduce stress and improve your outlook on life.  We only get one chance at this.  Many people always look toward tomorrow as a chance to get started.  But, we only get so many tomorrow’s.  They aren’t endless.  Make today and tomorrow and each day after that count.  Every day we put off doing things to improve ourselves is a day we’ll never get back.    Time itself is limitless, but our time is not.  Get started.  Improve your outlook on life and guess what happens next? You’ll lead a better and happier and maybe even longer life!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

10 Things You Learn After Having Kids

There’s no manual on having kids.  That’s one of the first things I remember being told after we first became parents.  That was over eight years ago, but the words still ring true.  I’m sure I’m not the only parent that often feels like a manual would sure come in handy.  Though one doesn’t exist, there are some truths that I’ve learned.  Here are things you learn after having kids that I bet ring true for many out there.

You’ll Parent Like You Were Parented

Nobody is an exact replica of their parents.  But, on many occasions I’ve seen my parents come through in what I do.  My wife has pointed out the same thing.  While we all end up with our own unique styles, our parents have influence on this.

You’ll Learn While Teaching

One of our primary jobs as parents is to teach our children.  We need to make sure they’re prepared to face the world.  I’ve learned that as we do this with our kids, I learn from them.  Until you’re a parent, you often don’t question how thoughts and emotions develop.  Watching this develop is a true learning process.

You Often Feel Like A Huge Failure

image from Morguefile courtesy of DodgertonSkillhause

Things are going to go wrong.  Your kids will have bad days.  You’ll have bad days.  Or moments.  Sometimes things will fall apart, with or without reason.  You’re going to blame yourself.  You’re going to take it personally.  When someone tells you not to do these things, you’ll do them anyways.

The good news is that you’ll get through it.

Your Relationship With Your Significant Other Will Change

Before you’re a parent, it’s just the two of you. That all changes the second your baby is born.  Not only does it change right then, your relationship will continue to evolve.  I’m guessing that process might slow down, but will forever evolve.

You’ll Feel Physical Pain For Them

When you first hold your baby, you’ll promise them that you’ll never let anything hurt them.  But the world will hurt them. They’ll have physical pain and emotional pain.  As a parent, you’ll suffer with them. Your heart will physically hurt when their heart is breaking.  It sucks, but it shows you’re looking out for them in ways that only parents can.

Time Really Does Move Faster

Everybody always says that time seems to move faster when you’re a parent.  Guess what?  It’s completely true.  From my  estimation, time as a parent moves twice as fast as what the child experiences.  Don’t think it’s cliche when someone tells you to cherish moments.

The Best Way To Teach Is By Example

Going back to an earlier point, we need to teach our kids.  The thing about it is that they’ll learn many life lessons from your actions.  You can’t tell a child not to yell but then fight with your spouse regularly.  It won’t work if you admonish a child for a messy room if the house is in shambles.  Kids learn by watching.  They watch their parents.

Kids Need You To Listen

As a parent, you want to impart the wisdom that you have onto your kids.  This is a noble intention, and it sometimes works.  But, every so often, you just need to shut up and listen.  Sometimes kids come to you not looking for an answer.  Be that person when they need you to be.

Kids Know When You Aren’t Listening

In this day in age, it’s easy to get distracted.  Phones.  TVs.  Tablets.  They all take you away from what’s in front of you.  Kids will learn quicker than you think that if you’re paying attention to those things, you’re not giving them your full attention.  Nobody likes to be patronized.  Not even kids.

Sometimes It’s Important To Play

Kids love to play.  At a young age, play time is their job.  They learn how things work.  They figure out relationships.  Social cues are learned.  And, every so often, they need you to play with them.  Every once in a while when my kids are playing, I’ll ask “Can I play?”  So far, they haven’t told me know.  And, so far I’ve always been happy I asked.

Readers, what lessons have you learned from having kids?  How do the ones above strike you?  

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

10 Thoughts On Our First Week Long Camping Trip of 2017

We generally do a week long camping trip twice per summer.  One is always over the 4th of July week.  We wrapped up our trip and it was a success.  I thought I’d share some of our (mostly) ups and downs, as well as a few laugh out loud moments.

The Popularity of Outdoor Activities Is Increasing

Driving on the freeway to get back and forth to the campground showed just how popular outdoor activities have become.  Michigan is always home to great summer activities and always has been.  However, even versus a few years ago, you can see a tremendous uptick.  The number of campers and boats shows that more and more have climbed out of the hole of the Great Recession.

Fireworks Don’t Work At 11:30

We’ve stayed at this campground before, but this was our first time staying for the 4th.  We were pretty excited when we found out that there was a fireworks display scheduled.  Everybody headed down to the lake shortly before dusk, which was around 10pm.  We waited, and waited and waited some more.  We’re quite a bit north and it was clear sky, so it didn’t get pitch black until past 10:30pm.  We figured they’d start then.  Nope.

It was a full hour after that before they started.  By that time, our kids had enough and were already in bed.  Our son was half asleep and enjoyed listening to them, anyway.  But, really, who in their right mind starts a fireworks display at 11:30pm?

A Bigger Gas Tank And Engine Saved A Stop

Most of our longer trips seem to be around 250 miles away from home.  With the old Buick towing, we would always have to stop for gas.  It was around a 20 gallon tank, and generally got around 10 MPG when towing.  I got a truck with a 26 gallon tank, and we averaged 12 miles per gallon, so we ended up saving a stop.  When towing, finding a gas station that’s RV friendly always adds another layer of complexity, so I was happy to avoid that part!

The Unlucky Made The Best Of It

Remember above how I said camping is more popular than ever?  This is especially true on the 4th, when just about every site in the state is booked.  We were able to snag two adjacent sites for our entire time, and they had a lake view to boot!  Others weren’t so lucky, but made the best of it.  Many people were able to get a stay at the park, but had to move sites at least once.  I saw one camper in at least three different spots.  Yikes!

Saving $80 Was Cool

We got a note a few weeks before our trip that the campground had been having sewer troubles.  They had a line break on three separate occasions.  During these, people that were camping couldn’t use the bathrooms or showers.  They had to use port-a-potties or pit toilets.  They allowed people to either cancel their reservation or offered a $10 reduction in fees to take the chance on staying.  Since we knew everything anywhere else was booked, we took the chance.  Thankfully, the bathrooms worked perfectly, so we saved $80 by taking a chance!

It Finally Got Easier With The Kids

When we started camping with our trailer, the kids were 3 and 1.  That was tough. Someone was always napping or eating or melting down and both needed pretty constant supervision.  The kids have grown, but even last year, neither was riding a bike without training wheels.  We always knew it’d get easier where they could be more independent, and this year it hit us that we were finally there.  Nobody needed a nap, they were flexibile with the meal times, and were able to do a lot on their own.

4th of July Trips Are Bad For My Awning

During the first year we had our trailer, the awning broke during a freak thunderstorm.  It almost happened again.  This time there was no thunder or rain, just wind.  We were sitting at the beach when it got really cloudy and dark and the wind started picking up.  In the five minute walk back, it was so bad that when we turned around, all we saw was a cloud of sand.  We ran back to the site and my in-laws and wife (who had walked back a few minutes earlier) were holding down the awning as it was bouncing around furiously.  Through the wind, we were able to get it rolled up, but it really seems that thing is cursed on these 4th of July trips!

Staying Healthy Worked….Sort Of

I wrote a couple of months ago that I knew these trips would put my fitness success at risk.  Between exercising less, eating more extravagent meals, and indulding in more alcohol, these trips had potential of derailing a lot of the success I’ve worked for.

Well, while I didn’t do great, I don’t think I did half bad.  I definitely found I was more strict at the beginning and

Image from morguefile courtesy of kzinn

less so at the end.  Still, I did pretty good on portion control and cutting back on my liquor intake throughout.  Snacking was the only area that I lost a little willpower on, but it was still better.  Plus, I ran three times during the trip.  Overall, this wasn’t perfect but it could have been a lot worse!

We Need New Meals

We’ve developed some pretty cool meals.  We have a good mix of campfire, grill, and comfort food meals.  But, many agreed that we’re starting to get a bit repetitious.  We never had a bad meal that I can remember, but very little of the dinners were exciting.  It’s time to shake things up, I think!

Tomato Plants Can Double In Size In A Week

We bought two little tomato seedlings at the farmers market back in May.  They grew quite a bit in the weeks before our trip.  Still, we were shocked when the doubled again in size in just the week or so that we were gone.  And it didn’t even rain!  The watering all came from our neighbors who helped us out.  Now, we have lots and lots of tomatoes on the way!

Readers, have you done anything fun so far this summer? What fun have you had or do you have planned?  Let me know in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Trading Less Stuff For More Memories

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that vacations and such are a very big thing for our family.  We love to camp.  An annual trip to an indoor water park is almost required.  We’ve had a couple of great trips down to Florida.  We have really come to notice how our family just works so well when we’re on the move.   Over time, we have created many more memories through our travel than in many other areas of life.

Experiences Turn Into More Memories

After our last trip, we sat down and talked as a family.  Even though our kids are young (7 and 5), we talked to them about our trip and how great it was.  We also talked about how much vacations mean to us.  Part of our discussion centered on how many things they remember from our various trips.

The kids got it right away.  They started talking about trips that we’ve taken for as many years back as their young minds can remember.  Remember that time at Disney?  Oh yeah, and that one time at the water park!

It was really cool to watch.

Tossing Out The Idea Of A Trade Off

We talked to the kids and pointed out that trips seem to create more memories.  They fully agreed. They got the point right away that even though they’ve had lots of cool gifts along the way, that they are harder to remember as time goes on.  Ask them about a gift they got three years ago and they might remember it, but bring up a trip the same time, and they’ll definitely throw out some recollections.

That’s pretty cool.

So, we brought up the idea of, as a family, starting to cut back on gifts.  We wouldn’t eliminate them altogether, but

Image from MorgueFiles courtesy of Lash.

instead of, for example, six gifts at Christmas, maybe we get three.  The difference would be put aside so that we could make sure that we have the means to travel.

What do you think they said?

It was an enthusiastic YES!

Putting This Into Practice

Our kids birthdays are coming up in the next couple of months. We started talking about plans for their birthday, and our daughter (the five year old) brought up, without prompting, that she would be getting fewer gifts.

And she was 100% cool with it.  She totally got it!  That brought a warmth to our heart.

So, we’ll see how things go.  The kids agreed.  My wife and I even agreed with each other that we’d cut back.  Our ten year anniversary is coming up this fall, and we already discussed instead of getting each other a bigger gift, which is something we’d been talking about, that maybe we would…..

…take a small trip instead.

🙂

Bet you saw that one coming?

Readers, how do you balance ‘stuff’ with ‘experiences’ in your household?  Have you ever made an active and conscious trade-off as we’re putting out there?  Please let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.  Thanks so much for reading.

 

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.