How To Stay Fit During Holiday Season

How to Stay fit during any Holidays

Holiday season usually means several parties to celebrate, Thanksgiving feast, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New year among other celebrations! One of the great thing about holidays are get together, eating yummy food and being with family and friends: loved ones. However, I dread January as I tend to gain a bit weight somehow From Diwali, to Thanksgiving, to Christmas and New year eve party and party food. Are you like me? If you are then know what I am talking about. If you do not gain weight, then write quickly and tell us your secret!

There are so many parties during last few months of the year:

  • Office Christmas Party
  • Family gathering
  • Friends parties (Some of us have more than one different gatherings)
  • New year Celebrations

When we had Thanksgiving gathering, where we had so much food, and 5 types of pies, plus more desserts dishes. We shared and ate leftover for days! It sure was fun, but not for my body. I have already plan to make sure my end of year gatherings are fun and healthy both.

That means we will be eating, drinking and be merry! So no wonder when it comes January 1st, we all have new year resolution to lose weight and be fit.

Download my free ebook : Meaningful Holidays (No need for email)

10 tips to staying fit during Holidays

Prevention is always better than a cure, if we are just bit careful on what we eat, we might be able to avoid weight gain that happens to most of good people. I admit it, it is hard for me as I love to cook, I am always cooking and sharing meals or eating out in those gourmet restaurant does not help.

However my biggest problem are my mom who think, that only way can show our love towards each other by finishing their food! And if you say” Mom, I am careful and eating healthy and I can not eat your fried dumpling”, oh the guilt trip she gives, oh my. No one can resist it, not me either, specially when my mom’s cooking is so yummy to me!.

Do you have mom or relative like that? Than you’ll know what I am talking about.

Here are my top ten ways, I am trying to keep my health, fitness and little sanity intact during this holidays. Hope this will help you celebrate meaningful holidays that are healthier.

  1. Eat a healthy snack before going to party. When I host a party, I try to keep some healthier but when I go to my relatives and friend’s party there may or may not be healthy or vegetarian choices so I usually eat a little before going to party and it helps me when I am not famished to choose better food.
  2. Eat more vegetables: Being vegetarian it is easier for me to choose vegetables and fruits but even if you are not vegan or vegetarian, you can choose various vegetable choices with your meat and potatoes to balance out the nutrition and fat.
  3. Skip gravy, cheesy and high fat choices: These gravys, cheese dips and friend snacks are high in fat and if we eat too much, it sure will add to our waist and other places on our bodies. If you can not resist and skip it like me, make sure you take little for taste only. Everything in moderation will be much better thing to do.
  4. Drink more water: Sometimes we are thirsty, no other liquid quenches our thirst like cold glass of water, so drink it through out the day. 8-10 glasses is generally recommended for most people. Added benefit of drinking water is also, that it will keep us hydrated and it is calorie free.
  5. Reduce Alcohol: For some people there can not be celebration without alcohol and that is fine. If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation and always munch some food with your wine or beer so to make sure you do not have hangover next morning.
  6. Please your relative other ways: If you have relatives like mine who insist that if you loved them, you will finish their cheesy and fried dish, you have to be careful to stay healthy and not get fat. You can take little to show you love them and ask them that you loved the food so much you will get take out for home so you can eat it next day as well. They may just be happy enough to pack it for you, and not force you finish it right there. It may just work for you as well.
  7. Less dessert: Not many can skip dessert and I am included in there. Our gathering have lot of sweet dishes such as pies, chocolates pudding, and more. Have little pieces of dessert instead of skipping it all together so you will not have deprived feeling of not having a sweet.
  8. Exercise: Winter time is bad for going out and with many parties with food can be tough on staying healthy. So make an extra effort to exercise, dance and just do lot of walking when you can to keep fit during winter time.
  9. Bring your healthy food to share: If you host a party, make sure you have plenty of healthy choices for you and others who might want to eat healthier along with traditional food choices. If you are going to friend’s party, offer to bring a potluck meal to share which is healthier so if there is nothing you can be sure to eat at least your own food you brought. This has helped me a lot, as a vegetarian I will always have a choice to vegetarian choices and host does not have to go out of her way to make a special meal for me.
  10. Do not worry and enjoy it: Holidays comes once a year so take precautions but if you can not, just enjoy it and do not worry about it much. It is not fun to be party popper who does not join in fun, so do not make it obvious and go with flow.

We all deserve break once in awhile, so have little fun and eat food your aunt made specially for you. Wear that ugly christmas sweater that your mom bought you. Have a laugh and silly fun once in a while!

101 Changes: Change 12- How To Find What Is Most Important Thing For You?

I am writing a series of 101 small changes that we can make to make the quality of our life better and build and lead a more happier life that is in tune with our heart and mind. These are small changes that I have made and am working on right now, so I know they are possible for anyone to do.

If you have not read previous posts, check out a few posts on the changes from the past:

101 changes: Change 11- How to find your artistic or creative side

101 changes series:

Most Important Thing

Do you know the most important thing in your life? I thought I did. I always knew that being financial independent, healthy, and having a love and care from my family and friends was the best thing for anyone.  I have written about finding core values before, and I am aware that many of us get often overwhelm with life’s chore and things we all must do that leaves little time for anything else.

Only thing was that I was not really following my own personal values. I thought I was doing okay and living the best life until recently. Often time we are too busy, or spend time in “perceived” important things that we may lose sight of what is truly important things in our life and how to make time for those most important things.

  1. A good old and “Tell like It is” friend told me, that I was so engrossed in my writing projects lately to ignore family and friends.
  2. I saw an accident where some stranger lost his life in blink of an eye. Life is too short.

These two events shook me up and made re-look at my priorities again to see truly what is important to me and I wanted to share.

While being financial independent is important to me, I want to make sure I have time for my loved ones and make money without losing my morals and ethics.

How to Make Sure You are Living the Best Life You can Live?

Many of us have many passions and hobbies. Many times we do things because we like it, other times, we do things because we have to; such as working at a job we do not like, so that we can pay bills. There are other things that we must do have no choice such as doing dishes, waking up at middle of night for sick child or sick friend and so on.

While both might be somewhat uncomfortable, second one has more value as it is about people you care about. Yet, many of us will say money is not important and it will not bring long term happiness yet we do things for these job or making money which is not aligned with our own personal core values.

Before we can get anywhere, we must look at within ourselves to see what ticks us, what makes us happy and what are our core personal values are. Once we understand that living and making living choices becomes much easier.

A while ago, I had gone through this exercise but it is important to follow up and see if they still hold true.

How to find out your True Personal Value?

While our priorities may change with time, our inner core personal values generally tend to stay constant. The best way I have found to find a personal core value is through following steps;

Step 1: Look through list of Values you think that describes you. If you need help with list of Values, here are some example.

  • Accomplishment
  • Success
  • Accountability
  • Adventure
  • Peace
  • Beauty
  • Commitment
  • Community
  • Connection
  • Improvement
  • Creativity
  • Decisiveness
  • Democracy
  • Justice
  • Peace
  • Happiness
  • Faithfulness
  • Equality
  • Diversity
  • Compassion
  • Family
  • Freedom
  • Friends
  • Financial
  • Honesty
  • Independent
  • Leadership
  • Loyalty
  • Love
  • Knowledge
  • Money
  • Personal Growth
  • Wealth
  • Resourceful
  • Respect
  • Quality
  • Security
  • Status
  • Trust
  • Wisdom
  • Unity
  • Legacy

There are more choices of personal values, if you need more personal value suggestions, but I have found this to be top best choices that work with most of the people.

Step 2:  Pick 10 Values that you think describes you well. This step is longest as it requires deep thinking from within. Take your time, there is no rush.

Step 3: Once you have narrowed it down to 10 values, select top 5 values. Why? Because it is easier to go from 10 to 5 choices compared to many to 5 choices. Once you have these 5 values, that is what your values are.

Step4: Before making any decision, on a new job or new change of any sort, go through your top 5 values to see if that aligns with your core values.

Try not to do things that are not in your core values, even if monetary rewards are high. Why? Have you seen some people they have money and things that money can buy but they do not seem to enjoy it and seem unhappy? I am guessing, it is most likely because of inner core value conflict.

Just imagine living the best life you can be, when you are living conscious, value driven life and career that is meaningful to your own personal values!

 Also see:

How to find personal Value : Part 1

How to find personal value : Part 2

101 changes: change 13: Reduce eating fast food and eat healthy

Zengirl

How To Be Happy Right Now

“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.” -Lao Tzu quotes

Do you find yourself to be unhappy? Are you always wishing for more? Are you waiting to start living your life to the fullest? Many people think and wish that “if only I had so-and-so, then I would be happy, I can start enjoying my life”.  Once they achieve that goal, the next desire manifests.  There is no end to human desires. A desire is like a bottomless pit which never can be filled, resulting in our unhappiness, jealousy and maybe even some sleepless nights.  So what is the solution for being happy right now?

Being content with what you have is one of the best way to achieve happiness in our lives. There are various ways to be content .

Now, this does not mean, not having goals or not wanting to do our best, as this is more about being content with what you already have.  This is the way I see it, goals are for improving ourselves, our life, desires are mostly about wanting more stuff.  Leo Babauta said very well about this subject in his post Incredible power of Contentment .

For some people, the grass is always greener on the other side, this type of mentality will keep them from truly enjoying their grass and life, both.  I know, I have been there before.  Here are a few lessons that I have learned along the way to find joy in my life again, which I want to share with all of you.

1. Choose to be happy

Some of you may wonder at this statement, and Yes you have a choice be happy or sad.  It is totally up to us. While it is easier said than done, it is possible.  Sometimes when I have to do something I am not fond of and I cannot seem to get out of, I tell myself I am going to have fun no matter what happens.  And it happens, I end up having a great time, despite the adverse task.  Try it once, you might be pleasantly surprised at the results.

2. Volunteer and Help Others

In my early days of volunteering, I got to meet many wonderful people and kids from all walks of life. Many of whom were more happier than I was, despite not having enough to eat for the whole day.  As I became aware of the zest for life in these people, I realized that it was not I who helped them, rather they helped me find my own self!, my lost happiness.

Whenever I travel to India, I see happiness on faces even in harsh life.  I see dreams and hopes, most of all, I see them smiling while working in extreme conditions.  Seeing their smiling face, my complains for silly things vanish and inspiration and a new energy emerges.

3. Feel Gratitude

No matter how bad our condition might be, there are still many things going great for us.  Counting our blessings and feeling gratitude from the sheart can do wonder to our perspective!  Why?  Wait until the “Thanksgiving” holiday to be thankful, be thankful each and every day!

Right now, Zenguy is between projects, instead of being sad about it, I can count my blessings for having him more at home to spend time with me and the kids.  I also feel thankful for having simplified our life, where we can survive with our little savings until another job prospect comes along.  Ups and downs are part of life, it is our attitude towards it that makes the difference.

4. Up the positivity

Even when things are looking bad, I am sure there still are lots of positives in our lives.  Look at what you already have; what is going great for you already.  Many of us call to complain when product or services were not the best, but how many of us actually call for exceptional services and great product? Sadly, not very often. Why? Because we tend to focus on the negative and we need to learn how to be more positive to live a happier life.

5. Do something you enjoy today

Even if we do not have job, business or blog going our way, we can still do something we can enjoy in smaller chunks. For example, when I am having a bad day, I read my favorite book yet again or cook something and that really cheers me up.

Sometimes, just taking a walk outside for 15 minutes will recharge you to tackle life’s issues.  Sometimes, all one needs is a little nap or drinking a hot chai tea, like I do.  There are many simple ways we can be happier in our daily life.

Have goals to improve yourself and your life not your material possessions. Be compassionate towards others, be thankful for what you have and enjoy your today. Do not wait for your life to start some day. You are happy today because you are free and alive today!

Now, let me ask you, what makes you happy?

Top 5 Must Read Books On Peace: How To Find Peace

Freedom from desire leads to inner peace.
– Lao Tse

For all of our lives, we feel something is missing and we chase our dream to make money, fall in love, get a college education, get married, buy house, have kids and so on and yet something remains unfulfilled in many people. That something is peace or we can say mental peace that comes with time.

What Does Peace Mean to You?

Peace is kind of inner sense calm where nothing from outwardly bothers you and you are at peace with your self and world. Peaceful heart should be free from worries, jealousy and boosting. It is inner calm and balance where nothing is overly sad or overly happy. That is what it means to me, while I am long way from achieving this feat, I am trying.

When I gave up my six figure job over 7 years ago, I had thought it was a beginning of my journey to find meaningful purpose and peace within myself. I have read many books, visited websites, attended a few talks and I found some great gems and some that were not worth my time.

I want to share top peace related books for those you might be interested, as not all books are created equally and some books can change your life and belief system in good way and some you wished you can get your wasted time back.

Here are my top peace related books, so you do not have to do trial and error to find motivational reading.

Top 5 Must Read Books on Peace:

This list is based on what I have read out of thousands of books that I have read. I am book worm and love reading in my spare time. I happen to be very fast reader too, so sometimes I have to and like to re-read books that are truly inspiring. This list is in random order;

1. 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace

This book has written by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, who has written many books on self development, and has appeared in many television and radio shows such as The Today Show, The Tonight Show, and Oprah. I usually stay away from trendy things so I had not read any of his books, until a friend of gave me her copy to read it. It is simply great and shares 10 (not so much) secrets to have inner peace.

The book is about 158 pages, that reveals 10 basic steps or principles of changing the perception or outlook in our life. It is simple, although it is about peace, happiness comes along with it. Some of the secret focuses on having an open mind, avoiding weak thoughts, attach to nothing and gaining wisdom to forget your own history, treat yourself as you like to be and so on. I like how the each chapter he starts with simple yet profound quotes that makes a perfect sense.

This book is easy read in one lazy afternoon and shows many ways to bring peace, positivity and happiness all in rolled in one. One issue I have with this book is that Dr. Dyer does not show how to change certain behavior, I think he assumes that reader already knows how to do it. Being happy or bringing peaceful mind is certainly long journey that can not be achieved in one day. This book sure bring one step closer to finding inner peace.

2. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living (Revised Edition)

This is amazing book by my favorite author Dale Carnegie. I had first read it in teen years but easily forgotten in my busy teen life. It was not until, I took a Dale Carnegie leadership Workshop early in my career and then I begin co-teaching the workshop as an assistant, I truly realize how powerful this book and its message is.

You may think this is worry book, why it is in peace section? Without letting go of worry, we can not be at peace and believe me after reading and re-reading this book again, you will find peace as you let go of some of silly concerns and worries that we all tend to have.

Book begins with  “Those who don’t know how to fight worry, die young.” If you have read How to Win friends by Dale you will know, this book has same good old common sense, interviews with famous people, heartfelt advice and solutions. He does not teach you, he makes you feel like we are learning together, without making you feel guilty and silly over our worries and concern. This book is must for many home library, it is in mine.(Amzn.)

3. Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

This is written by Thich Nhat Hanh, whom I had not known much about until I started reading Zen Habits. He recommended this book, so I had to go get and read it. This book really spoke to my inner calm and encouraged mental inner peace. We are looking for peace and happiness outward, no wonder we do not find it. Peace and happiness comes from within us, once we remove the clutter from our life, and mind.

Modern living has made us lose touch with our true self and peace within us. Thich Nhat Hanh is Zen Master, author and spiritual master who shows us how every moment can be turned in positive instead of annoying one. For him a ringing phone can be a signal to call us back to our true selves. According to him even dirty dishes, traffic lights are process to keep our conscious to stay alive to present reality. So, next time, you are stuck at red light, sit back and smile….One thing I like about this book’s method is, that process starts where-ever you might be, if I am with a toddler in kitchen, I can still get deep meditative presence and I like that. He also shows, how to increase awareness through conscious breathing which is huge step towards inner joy. World around has its beauty and its horrors but we can still find stillness and peace, this book makes me optimistic and it will do similar thing to you. (Amzn.)

4. World Peace Diet: Eating for Spiritual Health and Social Harmony

Why food book in peace section? It is because it is true that we are what we eat, really! Food is our most intimate and telling connection both with the living natural order, being compassionate with earth and with our living cultural heritage . By eating the plants and animals of our earth, we literally incorporate these principles.

Doctor Will Tuttle’s World Peace Diet is unlike any other “diet book” that you will ever read. Diet Books such as Dr. Atkins, The South Beach Diet attempt to give the reader guidance on how to lose weight. However, they fail to spell out the psychological health, ethical, environmental, and spiritual implications of their guidance. The World Peace Diet suggests how we as a species might move our consciousness forward so that we can be more free, more intelligent, more loving, and happier in the choices we make.  Make peace with earth and our body and eat diet that is good for us, earth and other living beings so that we can be in harmony and at peace.

5. Peace of Mind: Healing of Broken Lives

This book was strongly recommended by elderly uncle about 2 years ago, when we were without any income and little P was having lot of health and breathing issues. Trying to find silver lining between unemployment and sick child was tough to say the least. At the moment, I could not see how any reading will help someone in my situation and I sure did. I wished I had read it sooner.

Peace of Mind spiritual healing is based on the premise that no one can be truly healthy unless their mind, body and psyche are indeed operating in one sympathetic unit. This book promotes that it is not enough to alleviate physical symptoms of illness or injury; to be completely healed one must also address the mental and spiritual symptoms as well. This is great book for depression, mental well being. Even though I do not believe in black magic, spiritual attacks, evil eyes, and curses, this book also touches upon these topics as well.

I have tackled depression and anxiety both and now I know that to live a healthy life, stress free, we need to keep the body and spirit in sync. This book  offers a simple guide to achieving peace and tranquility for the soul in a step by step guide: Signs – Diagnosis, Healing – Treatment, Protection and Purification.

May Peace Be With You!

Also Check out Peace Quotes 

Various Peace Symbols:


How to Create A Life That Does Not To Escape From: Part 2

I recently wrote about creating a life that does not an escape from: Part 1, this is second part of the series to focus on life that really happy and does not need running away from.As I am trying to find my passion, compassion and reason for my being on earth. I want to be happy, make other around me happy too. I know being “always” happy is not possible and that is okay too. However, we can create a life that simply blissful in a way, that it feels like a vacation at home.

Why do I compare this life with vacation? It is because during my past vacations, I have found that I really enjoyed and I was stress-free in day or so in to vacation. I read books, I just simply relaxed at the beach, watching the waves and sunset. Sometimes I enjoyed eating new food, new culture (even within same country), new people and how they lived, made my life bit bright when I came back to home. I seemed ready to tackle, reality such as bills, dishes, chores and work as usual to get me going until next vacation. I am sure it is same for many of you.

Worker Mentality:

We in America, do not get much vacation compared to our European and Asian friends. When I was working in tech corporate world, my co-workers in Sweden and UK got 4 weeks, or 6 weeks vacation per year, even when they had less years of work experience. My other colleagues in India and other Asian had 6 days work days with 6th 1/2 day work and many holidays to give them flexibility in work environment. It has been proven in test experience that people are generally more productive when they worked 6 hours work day, instead of 8 or 12 hours as some people do. I am surprise that we are not following more productive way of working here in US.

I left my 6 figure job years ago when I became pregnant as I wanted to be home with my child during first months. However, it changed slowly when R was born, I enjoyed being around him and at relative stress-free corporate issues that I decided to be stay at home mom and gave up money and luxury to be at home and simplified my life.

Yes, I occasionally miss social aspect of job, such as meeting friends, going for lunches and travel around the world but quality that comes from being home is far better in my mind. Now that does not mean, life is with 2 young kid is easy, far from it. But that is something I truly want to spend and devote my time to as I practice what I preach about family being the most important thing in our life.

Additional Ways to Create a Life that Does not Need an Escape.

In my previous post, I mentioned 5 tips;

  1. Find your passion, Do something you Enjoy
  2. Reduce Your Needs and Wants
  3. Find Compassion
  4. Let Go of things you can not control
  5. Stop comparing with others

I wanted to share a few more additional tips that will surely help in better life for us;

6. Be Thankful

I have seen some people, no matter how much they have, or what they get, they always think “but..”. That type of thinking keeps them from living truly blissful life. Be thankful for what you have, not for what you did not get.

I share a small story here to convey this point;

Once there was a man who had 1000 Rupees (Indian Currency), and he was sad but he did not have 1500 Rupees like his next door neighbor. One day thief came at night and stole all his money, including his neighbor money too, now he became even more sadder. He stopped talking to his wife and kids and wallowed in his sorrow.

A few days later thief was apprehended and money was recovered and given back to their original owners. The man was so happy to get back his money, he simply jumped with joy and became loving husband and father as he was long ago. His wife asked then, you had same 1000 rupees 2 days ago but you were unhappy and now you seemed to be happiest with same amount of money?  Because of the change in situation, the man learned to appreciate what he had lost and realized his mistake.

The moral of story if, what if you lost everything and got it back, you will be thankful, so why not start now, before you lost it?

Gratitude is very powerful when given from heart. Do not wait for special day, be thankful. Be thankful to your spouse who gave you some time to be alone to finish up a book or write a blog post (Thanks Zenguy!), Be thankful to your kids who try to do silly things to cheer you up (Thanks R and P! ) and everyone else who made you life little better, even people you may not know.

7. Make Time for Friends and Family

Sometimes just call up your mom just to say “thank you for taking care of me, when I was growing up” for no reason. Hug your child when he spills milk and you have to clean up.

Call your high school or college friend who you have not talked to for long time, not because you need anything from him or her, but just to see how they are doing. When someone is sick, take time to bring soup, take them to doctor (if needed) or just call to see if they need anything.

When you make time for your friends and relatives, it will make you feel good inside and you will cheer someone’s day as well.

8. Leave Expectation Behind

Expectation leads to disappointment. My wise Brother Y, used to say and he is so right. When you do something for someone, many of us expect some type of return help and that type of expectation always leads to regret and disappointment.

I remember Once I gave something pricey (that I would not spend for myself) but I did that for that person because I wanted that person to feel good. While the recipient was happy to get that gift, eventually that person gave that gift to someone else and I was so hurt inside and remained that way for months. The person obviously had not clue to hurt caused by it and I am sure it was not personal but I took it very personally. Since then, I have learned when I give away something, it is no longer mine and I do not expect anything in return (I am mostly successful in doing this).

Do things for others and yourself, because you want to, not because you will gain or get something back. I write many things here from my heart and hopefully it is inspirational for you all.  I do it because I enjoy it, and I write when I have time and something worthwhile to say.

9. Listen to Your Gut Feeling

In modern times, we humans have stopped listening to our gut feeling or doing less so. I think it is natural, giving we have too many distractions and issues in our daily life. I have done that myself and listen to media, experts or sometimes even well meaning but clueless friends and results have not been the best.

Take time to listen to your own gut feelings and follow it what it says. When R was infant, I was told by many that he is breastfeeding too much and I should wean him and give him formula. I had hired lactation consultant who also eventually gave up after 3 meeting at home. I almost listened to everyone and almost weaned him, but I am glad now I followed my gut feelings and followed what I thought was right. I breastfed until it was comfortable for both of us and he had since weaned long ago and seemed to be content child. Follow your own instinct in your life, no one knows you more than your self.

10. Be Close with Nature.

Native American Tribes and olden Mayan culture and other Asian culture was close to nature, that included trees, animals and birds. People seemed to be in tune with nature, they knew how to live in nature with harmony. We in modern world seemed to have somehow lost that trait, myself included.

While, living in woods like Henry David Thoreau and it is not possible of many of us, we can live in city and still be one with nature. Be kind to birds and animals around us. If you have pets, be kind to them, go out in walk with your pets, play with them. Give bird seeds and water to visiting birds in your back yard or even at small apartment complex.

Go out in walk in Sunlight, go camping traditionally without TV, learn how birds and animal live in nature without disturbing or hurting their habitat. We can learn a lot from nature. Spend at least 15 minutes a day in nature if not more.

What do you do to Create a Blissful life for you?

How To Create A Life That Does Not Need To Escape From: Part 1

Image Source: elizabethmchristian.blogspot.com

Endless Vacation? Life that does not need an escape is possible or just a dream?

Many of us are living stressed and chaotic life that we look forward to one day retire and enjoy the fruit of our hard work. We look forward to going on vacation. Many of us dread Sunday evening or Monday Morning, when another work day starts.

Would you like to escape this and enjoy endless vacation? Who would not, and even though it may seem impossible, it is not hard to create a life that does not need an escape from. We can start living the life right now with little planning and habit changes. Once we are aware of life purpose, life becomes lot easier to live.

Just like when we want to lose weight, we go on diet. We lose weight and get back to regular way of eating to find we are gaining weight again. We do not need diet plans, what we need is lifestyle change of eating healthy most of time with indulging in our cravings once in awhile. The same way works for life and endless vacation, we need to make life style changes. It is not an instant change, it takes some time and effort to make these habit changes but it works. I am working on it myself for sometimes and I am making a big progress towards it and life sure feels much simpler and peaceful.

5 simple steps to Start Living Life that Does not need an Escape from.

1. Do Something You Love and Enjoy.

If you ask people, if they enjoy their work and many will answer “It pays the bills”. That is sure way to kill passion. While it is not easy to start making money from what you love, (I am prime example, I have made $14 in 2 years here but I sure enjoy writing and sharing my journey here).  Do something you love even when you do not get paid is ultimate feeling, while we need to make enough money to survive and meet out basic needs. We can do something we like while we are working in dreadful job situation or looking for a job in tough economy, such as volunteering, painting, singing, dancing, reading, teaching or helping others in something you already know.

2. Reduce and simplify Wants

If you really want to do something you love and make living, it can be tough at the start because of the money needed to pay bills and keep the life living standards one maybe used to living. However, if we reduce our wants to basic needs and some more, it is possible to live off in less income or money. No, I am not talking about being or feeling deprived, that will simply not work.

We all need simple basic needs such;

Shelter: A place to live, place to call home. It does not need to be large. One does not have to have 3000 square foot house with swimming pool to be happy, we all can live in lot less space and still have plenty privacy. Many people in other countries and some minimalist in USA are living in 500 square foot living space and functioning well.

See Thoreau’s cabin redux: tiny homes and happiness

Clean Water: We all need clean water to drink everyday. We are far more luckier then many people in world, who gets clean tap water in US. There are lot of filtration tools to filter the water you get in your tap. One does not need fancy bottle water, soda or sugar laden juices to live. Actually just drinking plain clean water will help with health benefits and giving uo soda and juices may make you lose some weight in return.

Food: We all need food to survive and live. Most healthiest food is vegetables and fruits which can be eaten raw or cooked simply at home in short time. One does not need fancy or expensive gourmet wine or cheeses to live, it would be wonderful occasionally but everyday simple meals will do your more good. Eating out everyday is expensive and unhealthy. I love cooking simple meals at home that can be cooked in 30 minutes or sometimes I like to use pressure cooker to cook up beans and lentils to make yummy and healthy soups or daals. It is a win-win for money and our waist line.

Clothing: Clothing is essential part of human lives, we need warm clothes in winter and simple cotton clothes in hot summer. One can buy good quality clothes at various stores, garage sale and goodwill stores. Designer clothing or brand names are not needed to look stylish, or you can find brand names clothes in thrift shop or outlet store for much cheaper price. If you can sew or mend clothing that is an extra bonus. I simply am not good at sewing and I have bought a sewing machine to improve my non-existing domestic sewing skills someday.

Entertainment: We human being like to entertained and get entertained as well. There are many free or cheap ways to go about amusing ourselves. One can rent movies or borrow movies from library instead of watching it in theater. If you must have a theater experience, you can see in morning time to get some discount. In summer time, there are many programs are offered free such as movie nights, music concerts, festivals, garden tours, theater previews shows and so on. If you like to read books as I do, you can always borrow from library and buy it only if you love it.  Going to park, playing board games such as monopoly is not only entertaining but also educational. You can host a pot luck at home, instead of going out in restaurants. I used to love hosting movie and dinner nights at home before we had kids.

3. Be Compassionate

You may think what being compassionate has to do with life that does not need an escape from, but it has lot to do with it. When we are kind and compassionate towards other human being, other lives, it gives us inner happiness or content glow that comes only when we are truly enjoying the life. When we harbor hurt, anger and hate inside, we will be unhappy even in most lavish resort. While giving up all hurt is not easy, but we can surely try to reduce as much as we can and be kind to others and ourselves everyday.

4. Letting Go

Many of our misery and disappointment comes from unmet expectation from others. While, we have most expectations from our loved ones, they tend to hurt us or disappoint us the most. The best way to tackle this is to have no expectation or little expectation from others. It just leads to nowhere. Many of us, tend to do and behave on what works best for us, so let them. Someone does not owe us happiness, love, gifts or gratitude. One of the most thing I have hard time letting go is rudeness and thoughtlessness that people show but I am working on it. No one owes me gratitude or thoughtfulness. We should do things because it pleases us and not for others.

5. Do not compare

When I was growing up, I thought I had everything and did not miss anything because as a young child I did not used to compare my things with others. However, it changes when I was in high school and it lead to myself feeling bad even though I had more than before.

Comparing kids behavior, spousal behavior and even worse fictional book or movie characters with someone you love, will only end up in disappointment. When R was young, he did not slept through the night like kids in movie where they sleep by themselves in a crib, I was sleep deprived and sad until I realized movie scenes where infant sleeps by themselves are fiction or at least very rare.

I love Austen and romance novels of past, so naturally I love Mr. Darcy and Captain Wentworth and Mr. Thronton but comparing them with Zenguy is futile thing to do but I have done it in past. I have come to realize that why to compare when I am myself not like Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot or Ms. Hale, these are fictional characters.

There are always someone who will be more beautiful, handsome, richer, smarter and fitter then us and then there will be a few who are not. Why compare? Just compare yourself with yourself of past and make a better future yourself for tomorrow.

Summary:

While we can not always choose many aspects of life, we can choose our habits to make simple and small changes such as above to create a lifestyle that will be like a vacation like while living at home. So go ahead and start creating a life that does not need an escape from today.

Check out 2nd Part of the series: Creating a life that does need an escape: Part 2

6 Surprising Ways to Boost Your Happiness

Image Source: http://pilitics.blog.com

Nobody really cares if you’re miserable, so you might as well be happy.  ~Cynthia Nelms

Fact: We all want to be happy and live Happy Life

We all go through phases where we are happy and when we are sad. Most of the time, we get sad because our expectations did not match the reality of outcomes or somehow something felt short. While, some serious sadness that comes with uncontrollable circumstances, we can do a few simple and easy happiness booster, that will surprise you. Don’t believe me? Try it out for yourself.

Simple Happiness Boosters:

Here are few simple and easy way to change your mood. No, it will not cure your money problems, world peace or cure for cancer. However, still you will feel lot better and happier. I know because I have tried it out first before writing it here, and I am your average person just like you, who gets happy and sad in daily life.

1. Get Sunshine

I grew up part of my life in Seattle, so believe me I like cloudy and rainy weather. It makes me feel like breaking in song and dance routine like Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain (even when I know I can not dance!).

University of Michigan apparently have done studies that proves that 30 minutes of sunshine and fresh air feel more upbeat to those who decides to be inside in nice weather. So, I shut off my internet and went out in my yard, only to know that California weather in middle of may is cold rightnow. However, fresh air, colorful roses and chirping birds around made me feel better already. I think when weather is sunny (not scorching hot) will give me exposure to Vitamin D as well along with fresh air. This one sure works.

I remember when R was infant, one time he decided to cry and test out his lungs and my hearing by crying out loud. No matter what I did, did not calm him. I decided to go out of blue and little sunshine and light intrigued him and he stopped crying to see what was around him. I used this trick with little P as well. Try it with your baby or yourself, sunshine makes you upbeat!

2. Take Shower or Bath

Now, most normal people take shower in morning before going to work or school. But when I had baby #1, R , I realized that he kept me so busy that I had to take shower in evening or sometimes next day. Since R is now in kindergarten it has gotten better, but in middle when P was born, I had 2 youngsters, so it became hard to take shower without kids knocking on door (even when Zenguy was around, kids simply loved me too much to go in to a shower alone, At least I am going to think that is the reason). So, if you have little kids or are creatively busy, you may forget to take shower like me once in awhile. (Don’t judge me because I am honest!) Even if you had a shower in the morning, still one again on hot days or days when you are simply feeling gloomy.

Just take shower with lukewarm water will refresh you and sometimes your sore muscles! Try it. Now I make effort to take shower twice, specially in summer. In Zenguy’s family (as many other Indian family) usually do not eat anything even breakfast tea until they take shower so it was surely new to him until we had kids and we were too sleep deprived function well without Chai.

3. Bring back Memories : Photo Albums, Old Journals

Many times we are so focused on tomorrow or future, we often forget how far along we came or remember good thing. There are times, I have heard my friend or relative would say “I never did XXXX”..and ” No one likes me…” and so on. If you look back on your own mind memories, or photo albums when you were kid or when you were in high school, you will realize, you had fun, friends and joy around you.

I look at my old journal sometimes to see what was bothering me once, no longer an issue in my current life or reading something fun about my life event such as birth of my kids, my first vacation with Zenguy after marriage and so on. It bring backs nice and happy memories, boosting my confidence and happiness level to next level. You should try it too and let me know how it goes for you.

4. Be around Happy People

Happiness is contagious and so is anger. People around us, effect our moods and our life. Medical imaging technology shows that our brain have certain cells that cause us to imitate those around us. So, be around happy people as much as you can.

Sometimes we may not have these choice as family around us might be sad or depressed so do not leave them to be with happy people. If that is situation for you, you be the change you wish to see, become a happy person. Fake it, if you do enough faking or pretending, soon you will be happy in reality!

Now, this is not something I invented, my favorite author Dale Carnegie have said in my favorite book: How to win friends. I used to be coach’s assistant during Business Team Building classes based on Dale Carnegie principals. I was first skeptical but since then I know pretending to be happy, made me eventual happy.

Zenguy is happiest person I know, he is always making other smile even when he has things to worry. I remember, all my friends and family loves spending time with him because he makes others around him happy and feel good about them. I was opposite, I was grouchy person, with all world’s problem on my shoulders, or so I thought. I have long way to still go but since then I am improving and smiling more, thanks to Zenguy, My kids and wonderful Dale Carnegie.

5. Bring out your Creative Genius from Inside.

I think all of us, creative genius or artist inside us, no matter what you say. Research studies have shown that people with violent past and trauma are told to express their anger and frustrations over creating art pieces and it has helped them heal their psychological wounds. Now, we do not have be traumatized to use creative outlet or be great artist.

Here are a few ways you can let your creative genius out, mostly for your eyes first then you can share it with others when you are ready;

  • Paint (oil painting, Water Colors or Charcoal sketch)
  • Write short stories : fiction or non-fictional
  • Write poems on your feelings
  • Visit museum and see other artists
  • Make art and craft design with kids or adults
  • Do origami art pieces, learn origami
  • Read inspiring quotes
  • Read motivational authors/books
  • Listen to Music, make music with pots and sticks

I do many of these activities and know it works. I do oil painting and sketching for myself. So far, I have given away my art pieces but not sold any. I like creating art, even though it might be best, it makes me control and convey my feelings in positive ways.

6. Eat Healthy Snacks.

This simple booster I learned from my kids. Whenever R was going through “terrible Twos”, I have learned a simple tip to make it in to “terrific twos”, that was to eat something healthy. Many time little kids and sometimes adults are in cranky mood because we might be lacking carbohydrates in our body. We can simply fix this by eating some fresh apple, or any other fruits or little nuts such as walnuts, pistachios on munching.

Many nuts have omega 3 fatty acids which according to some experts have same effect as anti-depressants (that too without any side effects to worry about). It also improves communication with brain cells that creates good mood in us according to Harvard hospital doctors.

I always carry, healthy snacks such as some nut bar, peanuts or fruits (sometimes junk snacks as well) and water bottle with us in my car so kids and I will not go hungry or cranky. Make sure to eat healthy snacks. Soda, candy bars and potato chips will help a little but it will be more unhealthy, eat those only occasionally. We have only one body this life and let’s take care of it.

Conclusion:

Will these tips cure all of our problems and worries? No, it will not as I mentioned before. These tips however, will surely boost our mood to tackle our life worries and enjoy life more with our selves, family, spouse and kids. Even if you are single, or married with kids, we all deserve to live happy life and here are a few ways that I have tried out successfully that I want to share with you all for Free.

Best things in life are free!

Enjoy and please share your simple happiness boosters that has worked with you here.

Zengirl

Quotes: Being happy

Image Source: bodymindspiritintegration.com

Here are a few of many wonderful quotes on being happy by some wise and famous people. Enjoy and be happy today! All of us want to be happy and live happy life. We like to make our close friends and family happy as we give gifts to them, cook for them, spend time with them, and listen to them. Somehow, happiness eludes some of us, of life gives lemons sometimes no matter how hard we work. Sometimes, all we need is little encouragement, little inspiration and motivation to nudge us going bit forward and we all deserve it, don’t we? I sure think so.

Motivational quotes are one of the best way I inspire myself to be happy, try bit harder and smile and it usually works! Sometimes all we need to do is read some happy Books and inspirational quotes or moral stories to bring back happiness!

________________________________________________________________________

Even if happiness forgets you a little bit, never completely forget about it.  ~Jacques Prévert

If you want to be happy, be.  ~Leo Tolstoy

Happiness is never stopping to think if you are.  ~Palmer Sondreal

The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.  ~Mark Twain

If only we’d stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time.  ~Edith Wharton

Nobody really cares if you’re miserable, so you might as well be happy.  ~Cynthia Nelms

Those who can laugh without cause have either found the true meaning of happiness or have gone stark raving mad.  ~Norm Papernick

Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys.  If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it.  ~Fyodor Dostoevsky

What a wonderful life I’ve had!  I only wish I’d realized it sooner.  ~Colette

The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.  ~James Openheim

Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.  ~John Barrymore

It’s pretty hard to tell what does bring happiness.  Poverty and wealth have both failed.  ~Frank McKinney “Kin” Hubbard

Often people attempt to live their lives backwards; they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want, so they will be happier.  The way it actually works is the reverse.  You must first be who you really are, then do what you need to do, in order to have what you want.  ~Margaret Young

Can anything be so elegant as to have few wants, and to serve them one’s self?  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are seldom happy with what we now have, but would go to pieces if we lost any part of it.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

The happy have whole days,
and those they choose.
The unhappy have but hours,
and those they lose.
~Colley Cibber

You cannot always have happiness, but you can always give happiness.  ~Author Unknown

What makes you happy? Sometimes simplest things in life makes me happiest.

1. When little P and R are not sick, I find peace within me.
2. When clothes are folded and sink is empty of dirty dishes.
3. Hot chai-tea made by Zenguy
4. Seeing smiles on my kids face makes me happy.
5. Watching My favorite movie or reading a book (yet again)

Inspirational Happiness Reading:

Being Happy!: A Handbook to Greater Confidence and Security by Andrew Matthews:

It is a book about…

  • understanding yourself
  • being able to laugh at yourself
  • becoming more prosperous
  • being able to forgive yourself
Being Happy: You Don’t Have to Be Perfect to Lead a Richer, Happier Life:

By using the science of positive psychology along with acceptance, Ben-Shahar shows you how to escape the rat race and begin living a life of serenity, happiness, and fulfillment.

Be Happy: Release the Power of Happiness in YOU by Robert Holden

Step-by-step he introduces you to a set of proven techniques, principles, meditations, and insights that will help you be happy now! Key lessons include:Follow Your Joy — stop chasing happiness and start enjoying your life as it happens.