Increase Your Joy – With Joy On Demand!

Studies show, one of the most important secrets to a happy life is to appreciate the small moments. Because when you start focusing on them, you become more attuned to all the positive things around you.

So here’s a 3-week plan to become a more positive person by noticing those little things. It comes from the book “Joy on Demand.”

Week 1: Start appreciating fleeting moments of joy. Like the first bite of dessert. Or that feeling when you step in the shower and the hot water hits you. After a week of doing that, a habit will form and you’ll notice those fleeting moments more.

During week 2: Find hidden happy moments. Every day, snap a picture on your smartphone of something that makes you happy. By doing that, it keeps you in joy-seeking mode. And reframe negative things as positives. Like, if you wake up in the middle of the night – start appreciating how quiet is it.

Then, for the third week, start practicing “joy on demand.” That means, when you’re stressed or bummed out, call on the little things you know will lift your mood. Like playing your favorite song, or talking to a friend.

And that’s the 3-week plan to becoming a more positive person. Want to go further? The book is called “Joy on Demand.”

Your Body Language Can Speak Louder Than Words

Up to 80 percent of all communication is non-verbal. So it’s important to send the right message with your body language and facial expressions. Here’s a lesson in speaking volumes without saying a word, from former FBI agent Joe Navarro, who spent his career sizing up bad guys as a counter-terrorism special agent.

  • To send the non-verbal message that you’re in charge, stand with your feet slightly apart and your arms slightly away from your body. If you’re sitting at a table, spread your materials a little wider than your shoulders. Navarro says this shows that you’ve claimed your territory and you can’t be dominated. Also, spread your fingers wide when you make hand gestures. It sends a message of strength and confidence.
  • To tell people that you’re trustworthy, steeple your fingers. That just means put your fingertips together with your hands pointing upward. This is a powerful message. Studies have found that jurors are more likely to believe a witness who testifies with their fingers steepled. However, don’t hook your thumbs in your pockets. According to Navarro it sends the message that you aren’t confident in what you’re saying. 
  • Navarro has non-verbal tips for job interviews too. He says you should focus on the interviewer’s face. A wandering gaze sends a message of disrespect – so don’t check out the wallpaper or the windows. Know where all your paperwork is before you get in the office. Being able to retrieve your resume or application easily, shows that you’re organized which increases trust.
  • Finally, if you want to show someone that you want to be friendly, do this: as soon as you make eye contact, raise your eyebrows at them for just an instant. It’s a non-verbal clue that says they’re important to you. Also, match their handshake. Researchers have found that people have a more positive view of someone whose handshake is similar to their own. Don’t speak to them head on. People are more likely to feel trusting towards someone when they stand a little off to one side.

Restore Your Sense Of Smell!

As you know, a sudden loss of smell has been a big issue for a lot of people.

And it can take months for it to come back fully, even after you’ve recovered. But you can help things along with smell training!

Dr. Pamela Dalton is a research scientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center. And although there’s no cure that’s 100% effective, daily, repetitive sniffing of a few aromas can work as a kind of therapy for an injured nose and brain. It stimulates the turnover of the nerve cells, helping to restore smell function.

Dr. Dalton says a typical smell kit consists of four essential oils: clove, rose, lemon and eucalyptus. But you can use any aromas with emotional value to you. But the four smells used for training should be changed every 12 weeks.

You can even use bad smells – ones you hate! Because that’s actually what our sense of smell is for – to detect danger, like from rotting food or fire. So a negative smell can work just as well.

Just take some gentle sniffs for 20 seconds. Then, move on to the next fragrance, working through all four, twice a day. Repeated exposure to smells can increase smell sensitivity.

You can buy smell training kits at – and they also have a sniff app, to make sure you’re doing it right.

To Accomplish Your Goals, Make Them “BTN” Goals… Better Than Nothing!

What’s the key to being more productive and reaching more of your goals?

Surprisingly, it could be lowering your expectations and setting more “B-T-N Goals.” That stands for “better than nothing”… and it’s an idea outlined by time management expert Laura Vanderkam, in her book “Off The Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done.”

So, for example: Instead of challenging yourself to run a marathon, aim to run just a mile a day – because that’s “better than nothing”. Or, instead of saying you want to lose 20 pounds, simply vow to give up sugary soda and only drink water from now on – because making that one small change to your diet is better than making NO change. Get it?

Why settle for “better than nothing” when your true goal is to achieve something bigger? Vanderkam says the problem with setting bigger goals is they often feel overwhelming. And if you don’t see progress right away, you’re more likely to give up.

But with smaller goals – meaning, something that’s better than nothing – Vanderkam says you’re more likely to follow through with completing AND repeating them.

To put that another way: When you set a “better than nothing” goal to just run a mile a day, you’ll be creating habits that WILL motivate you to complete a marathon!

4 Reasons We Gain Weight In The Spring

It’s springtime – aren’t we supposed to be losing weight? Shedding our winter pounds? Well, we found a few reasons we may be gaining weight instead with a little help from registered dietician Dawn Jackson Blatner.

  • Cadbury Eggs are at every check out aisle. More candy is consumed on and around Easter than any other time of the year – except Halloween. And the candy seems to linger around the house for weeks. Think about it: 90 million chocolate bunnies are sold and 16 billion jellybeans.

  • We’re exercising more. I know, it sounds counterintuitive. But when the weather gets nice and we start exercising more – we start eating more to compensate. But a 600-calorie smoothie has twice as many calories as you can burn in a half-hour jog. And exercise actually suppresses your appetite for about two hours. So, if you feel hungry, you’re probably dehydrated. Drink some water instead.

  • Longer days. When it stays light later, we go to bed later. And a lack of sleep triggers hunger hormones. Also, dinner may get pushed back until it’s dark out – so you have more snacking hours in between lunch and dinner.

  • We start drinking iced coffee drinks. But a small Dunkin Donuts Coffee Coolatta has 400 calories. And liquid calories don’t register as real food in your brain – you end up eating just as much solid food as you normally would. So what may sound harmless – iced coffee – could be the reason you can’t fit into your khakis yet. Stick with plain iced coffee, a little skim milk with a shot of sugar-free syrup at Dunkin Donuts and save yourself 300 calories.

Can’t Sleep? Try This Quick Meditation Exercise.

Having trouble sleeping? Here’s a one-minute meditation exercise from eastern medicine expert Lara Ann Reggio that’ll help you drop off quickly:

First: Lie on your back, and put one hand under your head, just along the ridge at the base of your skull.

Then, place your other hand flat across your forehead…

Close your eyes and relax.

And hold that position until you feel your pulse sync up between both hands.

That sends a signal to your nervous system to bring more oxygenated blood to your brain, which can help you relax enough so you can curl up and drift off to sleep.

7 Secrets Of Happy Families

Happy families don’t just magically happen – they all share common behaviors. That’s according to Bruce Feiler, author of the bestselling book The Secrets of Happy Families. He spent years meeting with everyone from videogame designers to Green Berets, to bankers to TV executives in order to pinpoint which strategies work best. And here are his findings:

  • Secret #1: The kids know their family’s story. Feiler explains that your family history – the good and the bad – helps kids feel like they belong to something bigger than themselves. And knowing what the family has gone through and overcome, prepares kids to face challenges in their own lives. Research even backs it up. Studies show that kids who know their family history have higher self-esteem, are more resilient, and are better at handling stress.
  • Secret #2: They hold weekly family meetings. That gives them an opportunity to hash out what’s working – and what isn’t – so they can make changes before minor glitches turn into major problems.
  • Secret #3: Happy families also eat meals together. The benefits of family mealtime are huge. In fact, studies show that children who eat dinner with their parents do better in school, and are less likely to drink, smoke, do drugs, or develop eating disorders. If nightly dinners aren’t possible for your family’s schedule, you can get similar results by eating together even once a week – like Sunday breakfast.
  • Secret #4: Beware, dinnertime is also when most family fights take place. It’s partly because everyone is stressed by the end of the day, hungry – and preparing dinner may become a chore. So, psychologists recommend saving difficult conversations for after dinner – when people have put on their comfy clothes for the night. A full belly and comfy clothes reduces stress, so those difficult conversations may not blow up into arguments.
  • Secret #5: Happy families have their living room furniture set up a certain way – in a circle. That encourages conversation and literally brings your family closer. In fact, research has found that people are much friendlier when they’re seated in a circle because they can easily look at and talk to each other. The ideal distance between people is five feet – so the eye can comfortably take in the torso, face and hands for body language cues.
  • Secret #6: Happy families aren’t perfect families – and when it comes to punishing kids, it works best if the kids have a say in what the punishment should be. But you need to talk about punishments before the “crime” has occurred. Like, “If you break your curfew, what do you think the consequence should be?” Psychologists say when kids have a role in picking their own punishment, it gives them a sense of ownership over their own behavior. So, instead of hearing, “That’s not fair” or “I don’t deserve that!” – kids will own up to what they did, and are more likely to change bad behavior.
  • Secret #7: Even happy families fight – but when they do, they copy each other’s body language. Feiler says that mimicking body language puts you on the same physical level. And that instantly reduces feelings of tension, power imbalance and resentment. That way, you’re more likely to calmly work out a solution together, instead of competing in a shouting match.

Healthier Alternatives To Your Usual Easter Treats

Well, you don’t want to get rid of all the chocolate goodies, unless you want to get pelted with rotten Easter eggs, but you can take steps to make it a little healthier. Here are some suggestions from the American Dietetic Association:

  • Instead of sugar, cream or caramel filled chocolate eggs, get peanut butter filled ones. The peanut butter adds protein and is low in saturated fat.
  • Instead of those little chocolate eggs, give chocolate covered pretzels instead. Pretzels are often eaten during Lent, because the twists resemble arms crossed in prayer. Since they only have a thin layer of chocolate, the fat content is pretty low.
  • Next, try a dark chocolate bunny. It has more antioxidants and less fat than milk chocolate.
  • Instead of the traditional jelly beans, try Skittles or Starbursts. They do have some Vitamin C which makes them slightly healthier.
  • Put in a few hard boiled Easter eggs. They’re a good source of protein and the whites are fat free. Don’t leave your hard boiled eggs out of the fridge for more than two hours or you’re gonna have some sick kids on your hands.

Which Money Personality Type Are You?

The owner of a successful company frets over buying a couch. A single mother, with $25,000 in credit card debt, refuses to say no to her son’s plea for a new car. When it comes to money, what makes these people act this way? Brent Kessel, MSN Money’s finance expert, says a lot of people find themselves stuck in awkward patterns with money. And many financial experts say it’s because of our “money makeup,” which are ideas formed early in life that control a person’s spending, giving and investment decisions. Understanding these forces is the key to changing bad financial behaviors for good. There are several money personality types. Which one are you?

  • The Guardian. This is a person who’s hyper-careful with their money and always alert about what they are spending.
  • The Pleasure Seeker is someone who values enjoyment and instant gratification above all else.
  • The Saver. This person seeks security and abundance by accumulating plenty of financial assets.
  • The Caretaker gives and lends money to express compassion and generosity.
  • The Star, who spends, invests or gives away money to be recognized, feel hip and to increase their self-esteem.
  • The Innocent. This person doesn’t pay too much attention to money. He believes life will work out for the best.
  • The Empire Builder This person thrives on power and innovation to create something of lasting value. Kessel says the happiest people have a good balance of traits from several of these personalities. Unfortunately, most people have one or two dominant styles that keep them stuck with bad financial habits – especially when it comes to investing. For example, The Star chooses assets because they’re in vogue, such as hedge funds and “green” companies for the future. For this person, Kessel advises investing 90% of their worth in a “boring” responsible portfolio, and only 10% in what he calls a “cocktail party” account. That way they’ll still have investments to brag about.

If you want to learn more about your money personality, and how to improve your spending, saving and investing habits? Check out It’s Not About the Money by Brent Kessel.

Why Does Your Back Hurt?

Why does your back hurt? Here are a few common reasons:

First: Belly fat. Dr. Alice Chen is with the Hospital for Special Surgery… and she says, when you have a big belly, it often stresses your lower back because you’re using it as a counterweight to your belly. And fat in the spine can compress the nerves.

Another reason you may have back pain: Happy hour! According to WebMD, alcohol reduces blood flow to the discs in the spine, and inflames the supporting muscles. And if you’re not a big drinker but you’re recovering from a spell of back pain, don’t drink. It’ll slow your healing.

One more reason for your back pain: You do strength training AND yoga. Dr. Stuart M. McGill is a professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo, and author of “Back Mechanic.” And he says it may seem great to cover all your bases with different exercises. But when you do yoga, the collagen in your spinal discs softens to help you bend. And when you lift weights, the collagen hardens. So mixing the two training styles can lead to back problems