Small Things That Affect Your Mood in Big Ways

We tend to notice how big things affect our mood. Taking a holiday/vacation to Hawaii, marriage, divorce, death, and serious financial issues are a few of the big items. However, small things can also impact your mood is a big way, and the small things happen more frequently. Understanding the small, day-to-day experiences that impact your mood is important.

Many of the smaller things in life can affect your mood:

  1. Dehydration. If you’re feeling sluggish or irritable, you might just need a drink of water. Some people don’t have the benefit of good thirst mechanisms. Have a glass of water at least every few hours. Your mood might improve considerably.

  2. Music. There are at least a few songs that impact your mood in a positive way. It only takes a moment of listening before you can feel your mood shift. Try to listen to a few songs you love each day. Upload them to your smart phone so they’re always handy.

  3. Scents. Certain smells can alter your mood. Your smelly seat mate on a plane has one effect. A scent that reminds you of your all-time best date has a different effect.

  • Are there any scents that you love? Find a candle or air freshener that mimics a smell you enjoy.

  1. Weather. Too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, or just right. A nice day lifts your mood. A dark, rainy day can drag it down.

  2. Compliments. Receiving a compliment is sure to enhance your mood. Just a few kind words can have a big impact. Giving compliments can have a positive effect on your mood, too. The opposite is also true. A few unkind words can result in a bad mood. Keep that in mind when you’re talking to others.

  3. Sleep. If you have children, you can probably remember how it feels to be sleep-deprived. Hopefully, they're no longer causing you to lose sleep now that they're off your hands but our sleep can be affected in other ways as we get older.  Ensure that you’re getting enough sleep that your mood isn’t being affected negatively.

  4. Your posture. Studies have shown that slouching results in more negative thoughts, and standing or sitting up straight results in more positive thinking.

  5. The food you consume. It’s common to have a mild reaction to certain foods and not even be aware of it. Try eliminating certain foods from your diet for a couple of days and see if it changes how you feel. Eliminate one at a time or you won’t be sure which food causes issues. The most common culprits are: Gluten, Soy Eggs, Milk, Nuts, Peanuts (which aren’t actually a nut) and anything with a high sugar content.

  6. Financial issues. You might not consider financial issues to be a “small thing,” but even small financial issues can harm your mood. For example, one unexpected bill can create a lot of emotional turmoil.

  7. Spending a lot of time with negative people. Whether it’s a coworker at your voluntary job, family member, or friend, spending time with a very negative person can sour your mood.

  8. Exercise. Interestingly, when you least feel like exercising, doing so seems to have the biggest positive influence on your mood. A brisk walk is all you need to boost your mood. It doesn’t take much to make a difference.

You don’t need to do anything like purchasing a sports car or holiday/vacation if you’re looking to boost your mood. There are plenty of smaller things that can change your mood significantly. These small things can occur on a daily basis and are well worth the effort to either seek or avoid. Focus on the small things that enhance or detract from your mood and you’ll enjoy pleasant moods more often.


How to Make a Fresh Start

Fresh start
Is your retirement in the doldrums?  Do you sometimes wish you'd never retired at all and feel that your life has taken a downward turn since the day you left your job?  Do you wish you could start your retirement over again - and make a better job of it this time?

Sometimes, you've been looking forward to retirement for so long, that you blow it.  Completely.  

Let me explain.

When you looked ahead to your retirement, you saw the opportunity to chill out, spending leisurely mornings with coffee and the paper bed and, finally, doing only the things you really wanted to do (after a lifetime of doing what your bosses wanted you to do).

So, when retirement arrived, you did just that. You chilled, you read the paper and you watched a lot of TV (or played a lot of golf).  And, even though a niggling voice somewhere inside yourself was telling you that there must be more to retirement than this, you ignored it in favour of 'just a few more days of relaxation'.  Which was followed by 'just a few more days...' until, before you knew it, a couple of years had passed, you'd piled on the pounds from all that sitting around, lost contact with 90% of the people you knew and your world had shrunk to the size of your living room.

Okay, so you’ve thrown your hands up in the air and declared that something must change. You’re ready for a fresh start. While your current situation may be challenging, the intention of making a fresh start is a good sign. It’s much better than giving up and resigning yourself to watching daytime TV for the rest of your life!

What do you need to change? Is it just one area of your life or do you need a complete makeover?

You can make a fresh start in any area of your life:

  1. Home. Consider giving your living arrangements a makeover. You could move to a new home or change your existing home. Move the furniture or purchase new stuff. Paint the walls a new colour. Convert a spare room into a room with a purpose. It could be dedicated to music, arts and crafts, or meditation.

  2. Finances. Create a budget. Get a retirement job. Talk to a financial advisor. Start an online business. Address your debt. Start offering a service that people need. Look at your current financial challenges and finally address them with a detailed, step-by-step plan you can stick to.

  3. Social life. It’s time to say goodbye to the people in your life that drag you down and replace them with those that provide a boost to your life. Meet some new friends and try a few new social activities. Work on your dating skills and catch the partner of your dreams.

  4. Health and body. Hire a personal trainer or join a gym. Find a diet that works for you. Address any health issues you might have. Visit the doctor and the dentist. Try a new sport. Just get out and move your body!

  5. Belief structure. Investigate a new religion or philosophy. Learn how to meditate. Question your beliefs and find a purpose. Read a good book each month and apply what you learn.

These are just a few ideas. You can also address your current relationships, attitude, or fears. It isn’t necessary to change everything at once. In fact, addressing one area at a time will yield better results.

Useful tips for changing your life:

  1. Develop systems that support your desired change. For instance, if you want to meditate daily, create a schedule that ensures you’ll be compliant. Use a timer so you won’t worry about spending too much time or falling asleep.

  2. Visualize the change. See yourself with a healthy body or bank account. Allow yourself to feel successful and proud. Project yourself into the future and enjoy the changes you’ve made.

  3. Be willing to fail from time to time. It’s not easy to change. In fact, your brain is highly resistant to change. You’re doing well enough to be alive, and that’s good enough for your brain. It views any change as potentially dangerous, so it’s not going to allow you to change easily. Expect that you’ll struggle during the process.

  4. Commit to persevering. Make sure that you succeed.

  5. Be kind to yourself. Celebrate each victory, no matter how small. Give yourself a pat on the back when you deserve it. Any progress is great news, so enjoy it.

The decision to make a fresh start can be daunting - especially when we're not as young as we used to be. If you're not happy with the way things are, it's never too late to try something different. Before you do anything irreversible, however, just give careful thought to the changes you want to make. It’s a mistake to believe that any change is a good change. There are many changes you could experience that are worse than your current situation. Make conscious decisions rather than clinging to the first log that floats by.

Making a fresh start can result in a new and exciting experience. Aim high and be diligent. You’ll be glad you did.


An Attitude of Gratitude

Do you realize how much you can improve your outlook on life by simply being grateful? This is what is called an “attitude of gratitude.” If you cultivate an “attitude of gratitude” you’ll actually bring even more joys into your life like a fulfilling retirement, better health, and stronger relationships.

An attitude of gratitude is truly a magnet for prosperity and success. After all, much of life is about your attitude and your outlook on things. It’s been said that optimists may be wrong and pessimists may be right about some things, but optimists enjoy the ride. Which are you?

If you transform your attitude you can change your entire universe. And yes, you really can change in your attitude by showing appreciation a little more often.

Be Thankful for What You Do Have

Many people, maybe even the majority of us, believe their lives are boring or meaningless. Isn’t that awful? Often, we see little to be thankful for because we’re always thinking about the things we wish they had. We may live in a comfortable home in a nice neighborhood and we may have plenty of food on the table, but we just don’t see the joys in the everyday.

We often take the little things for granted. Are you one of these people? If so, it’s okay! There’s plenty of hope and there are plenty of things for you to be thankful for.

There are so many joys in your life right now that you’re likely overlooking. For example, by reading this article you have obviously awoken for another day. Isn’t the fact that you are still alive something to be thankful for? After all, a cancer survivor, sure won’t take life for granted anymore!

Here’s something to think about:

  • Did the sun rise today? If so, be thankful for the gift of light and warmth.

  • Did you have chores to do today? If so, be thankful for the opportunity to make life better for you and your family.

  • Did you eat a nourishing meal today? If so, be thankful for the gift of food.

Even the smallest things in your life are reasons to celebrate! As we all know, “things could be worse” which is all the more reason to have an attitude of gratitude!

Lots of Gratitude = Positive Attitude

It’s a fact: those who are grateful are more uplifting and positive. By having a positive attitude, you’ll not only feel better, but it's highly likely that you’ll also enjoy better physical health because our body, mind, and spirit are so heavily inter-connected. Now, that’s something to be thankful for, isn’t it?

As mentioned earlier, by having a positive attitude, you’ll be a magnet for positive relationships. You’ll attract like-minded, go-getters who will not only inspire you, but push you further. After all, like attracts like, which is all the more reason to be positive!

Now ask yourself: What do I have to be thankful for today? Spend a few moments showing your appreciation to your loved ones, friends, or any random strangers you meet.

10 Habits of the Happiest People

Happiest people
Why are some people happy all of the time? The happiest people have habits that raise the odds of feeling happy. Unhappy people have habits that result in less desirable feelings. It can be that simple. If you’re not as happy as you’d like, take a look at your habits.

Those that are happy share many qualities. Adopting these same qualities will yield positive results.

Habits that lead to happiness are enjoyable to implement:

  1. Optimism. Obviously, if you believe good things will happen, it’s much more likely that you’ll be happy. Expecting the worst does nothing to improve your mood! Realistically, it’s not even important to expect a positive outcome, only to believe that everything will be okay.

  • Optimism is also a form of belief in yourself. If you believe that you can handle any outcome, you can be optimistic and have the mental freedom to be happy.

  1. Altruism. Doing things for others provides multiple benefits. You can see firsthand that you have a lot to be grateful for. You can feel good about yourself for assisting others. You have a good reason to get out of the house. You also feel useful.

  • Make a list of at least three ways you can help others that will also fit into your schedule.

  1. Gratitude. Do you realize how many great things and people you already have in your life? By maintaining focus on the things you don’t have, you’re making yourself unhappy. Experiencing gratitude helps to create feelings of happiness.

  2. An exciting future. Maximum happiness requires that you have something to look forward to. It can be taking that road trip that's been on your bucket list since forever, the birth of a new grandchild, Christmas, a vacation, or a hot date on Saturday night. Have a few goals that give you a reason to be excited. Have goals that are both short-term and long-term.

  3. Success. Spend some time doing things that you’re good at and provide you with a feeling of satisfaction. It feels good to do well at something. It doesn’t have to be a competitive event. You can hit golf balls at the range or play the guitar and feel great about yourself.

  • Make of list of the things you excel at and try to spend at least a little time each day doing one of them.

  1. Resilience. It’s impossible to avoid challenging times. Sooner or later, something will happen that threatens your progress, success, or happiness. Resilience is the ability to continue forging ahead. Some people have a knack for making obstacles seem bigger than they really are. Others are able to maintain their composure and continue making progress.

  2. Reasonable expectations. When your expectations are overly optimistic, you’ll routinely experience disappointment. When your expectations are consistently low, you won’t feel very optimistic. Neither is a recipe for happiness.

  3. Forgiveness. How can you be happy while holding a grudge? Forgiving others quickly and easily make happiness possible. You might feel that some people don’t deserve forgiveness, but what is the alternative? Making yourself unhappy.

  4. Authenticity. Spending your time pretending to be something you’re not is a challenge to your self-esteem. Happiness is allusive if you don’t feel comfortable being yourself. Allow your uniqueness to show.

  5. Presence. Thinking about the past leads to regret. Thoughts of the future lead to anxiety. Keep your mind in the present if you want to experience happiness on a regular basis.

There’s nothing complicated about happiness. Forgive others, be yourself, give of yourself, and be grateful for the things and people you already have. Having an effective set of habits will result in feeling more happiness.


10 Hacks To Add Fun & Excitement To Your Retirement

Fun hacks
If retirement isn’t about having fun, what IS it about? If you’re not having fun regularly, you’re missing out on the entire point of being retired! If being retired has started to feel like all work and no play, try these tips to add a bit more fun and excitement to the mix.

Be Mindful – So many people just aren’t present in their life.  Instead of being in the moment they’re living, they’re thinking of some other time in their life - either the past or the future. "When the kids were tiny...", “When I was still working…”, “When we're both retired …”, “When I win the lottery.” They spend their time either reliving a time that's already gone or projecting ahead to the future - whilst never really paying attention to the right here, right now.  Is that something you do?  If it is, try being truly present with whatever's going on right now. (You might need some practice at doing this.)  Enjoy the smells, the tastes, the sounds, the conversation... really experience all the things you never had time for when you were still working.

Never Stop Learning – Some people stop learning the moment they graduate from school. But, the world is so full of information and things to find out about, it’s a crying shame when someone thinks they know enough and don't even try to retain an enquiring mind. Always be in the process of learning something new. (Learning keeps your brain functioning at a higher level, too - use it or lose it!)

Be Daring – At least once a year do something out of your comfort zone such as public speaking, climbing a mountain, running a marathon, writing a book or something else that challenges you. Only you can know what that might be. Have a new adventure each year, and you’ll stay young and have more fun throughout your entire life.

Get Moving – The more oxygen you take in, the more happy you’ll feel. Instead of being irritated by your neighbour’s loud music, put on some of your own tunes and dance. Find a type of exercise that suits your personal style and JUST DO IT!  Invite a buddy along to make things more fun. You’ll be a lot happier and healthier for it.

Smile More – It might seem like a silly thing to do, but practice smiling even when you wouldn’t normally smile. Smile as you walk through the grocery store. Smile while waiting in line at the post office. To get the smile going, simply think of a happy time in your life, or a special person. Smiling does all kinds of good things for your body and spirit and who knows, you might make a new friend or two - attracted by your obvious enjoyment of life.

Enjoy Nature – We humans are often happier when we're out and about, being part of nature and feeling grass under our feet. Take time each day to notice and enjoy as much nature as you can. You’ll feel more connected to the world, and you're likely to be calmer and more relaxed.

Let Go of Perfection – The truth is, no one is perfect and striving for perfection can weigh on your sense of joy and happiness when you fall short - which we all do. You still want to reach for being the best you can be and having the best retirement you can possibly have, but never expect perfection.

Encourage Others – Motivating others can make you feel happier and more satisfied with your own life. Give out compliments freely, and help boost others up as often as you can. In the end you’ll be boosting yourself.

Take Your Time – Being in a hurry all the time can sap the joy out of life. When you were still working, you probably felt as if you never had enough time to do everything you needed to do and then just kick back and have some fun. But, if you learn to take some of those 2,000 to 3,000 hours that got freed up by retirement to sometimes just do nothing at all (except maybe just watch and listen), you might find that you begin to redevelop your childhood sense of wonder and joy.  (And who knows where that will lead?)

Laugh More - What makes you laugh?  Playing with your grandkids?  Listening to your favourite comedy shows?  Watching silly videos on Facebook?  Is there a friend who never fails to crack you up with their stories and tall tales?  Whatever it is... DO MORE OF THAT!  (As soon as is humanly possible!)

Throw caution to the wind and do something you really want to do. Have some fun!  Start today!  Leave a comment below and let me know what you decide on...

How to Increase Your Chances of Living Past 100

Birthday DepositphotosDo you want to live to be 100?  I must admit that the idea's never particularly appealed to me - especially if I'm no longer capable of living in the way that I'd choose.  However, if reaching your century is on your bucket list, read on...

The average 20-year old person today living in a developed country has a 23% chance of living to be 100 years old. While science has increased our life span by 30 years over time through the discovery of vaccines, lowering mortality rates and reducing disease-related deaths, there are things you can do to increase your chances at being a centenarian, such as:

• eating healthily
• exercising
• stopping smoking
• staying socially active and engaged

Eating Healthily

One study in 2011 found that, even as an older adult, eating vegetables, fruit, poultry, low-fat dairy products and whole grains lowers your risk of dying by an additional five years. Researchers think the quality diet reduced the participants’ risk of dying from chronic diseases, like heart disease and diabetes, by naturally purging “free radicals” from the body, along with lowering their metabolic rate.


One study found that by exercising just 30 minutes six days per week, the life span of men was extended by five years. In another study, men who exercised less than one hour per week experienced a 23% to 37% less chance of dying from cardiovascular disease.

In a new study from Denmark, participants who jogged at 5 mph (8km/h) a few times per week, but for a total time of less than 2.5 hours per week, had a 78% less chance of dying when compared to sedentary individuals.

The study also found that strenuous joggers – those running at 7 mph (11.265km/h) for 4 hours or more per week - did not see any decrease in their likelihood of dying when compared to the same sedentary group.

The results indicate light exercising might be a key to living longer and that there might be a limit as far as the health benefits derived based on the intensity and duration of the exercise. More is not necessarily better in this case.    

Stop Smoking

On average, people who stopped smoking, before reaching middle age, live 10 years longer. Even if past middle age, kicking the habit will reap health benefits that could extend your life by even a few years.

Staying Socially Active and Engaged

Whether married, or single having someone to talk to increases your life span. One theory is it reduces stress, which, when in excess, can cause a host of medical problems … some of which can be life-threatening.

These are just some of the more beneficial things you can do to increase your chances of living to 100 or beyond. All of them you can start today to increase your chances of living longer tomorrow.  (Should you CHOOSE to! :) )

Looking for a pre-retirement course in the Manchester area? Look here first!

Taking Extra Care when Exercising

DoctorAs a baby boomer, you know that exercise is an important part of staying healthy and enjoying life. However, now that you're (okay, okay, WE'RE!) a bit more advanced in years, you may get injured more easily now than you did when you were younger. With that in mind, you may need to take extra care when exercising. If you're planning a New Year fitness regime, consult with your doctor or a trainer first for any tips he or she has about staying safe while you get fit. Meanwhile, here's a reminder of  some other suggestions you can consider...
Make sure you wear the right footwear and clothing
Whatever activity you're engaging in, choose the right shoes for it. There are shoes that can give you the right support and protection you need for any activity. By wearing the right types of footwear, you'll receive better support and be less likely to get injured. You'll probably also perform better during the exercise session.
Your clothing is another safety consideration for any exercise you undertake. Be sure it lets you move freely for the exercise you're about to do. If you'll be exercising in the heat, look for clothing that breathes and that'll keep you cool so you don't overheat while working out.
Use proper safety equipment
You may need to use safety equipment such as knee pads, a helmet, gloves, protective glasses or a mouth guard to stay safe while you exercise. Find out what's recommended for the activity you're engaging in (and if you're thinking of just digging out your old gear from way back when, have a look online to see if there's a safer, more modern version you could/should invest in). It may take an extra moment to put on the equipment, but it'll be worth it when it protects you from getting unnecessarily hurt.
Check your exercise equipment
Before using any exercise equipment, whether a rowing machine in the basement or taking your bicycle for spin around the lake, take a moment to check it and make sure it's in good working order. All the precautions you take for your own protection might not matter if the equipment is broken. It's one more simple thing you can do to help ensure your own safety during your exercise time.
Drink plenty of water
Drink lots of water before, during and after your exercise. Take a water bottle with you so you have it close at hand when you need it during your workout. One thing to remember is that as we age, our thirst drive decreases. That means your body could need more water long before you feel thirsty. So, keep that water bottle handle and take regular sips.
Warm up before and cool down after
When you're doing any exercise routine, be sure to warm up before you start exercising and cool down after your workout. Proper warm up and cool down times will help protect you from injury.
It's important for anyone engaging in physical activity to take proper safety precautions. When you're older you may be hurt more easily and not recover as quickly, so it's even more important. Following the above suggestions will help keep you safe while you exercise and make sure those grand plans for a fitter, healthier you in 2016 don't get derailed during the first week.

Looking for a pre-retirement course in the Manchester area? Look here first!