Friday, August 28, 2009

To be grateful...

How grateful would you say you are? Did you know that your gratitude level can directly affect your wealth and happiness? Now, that may sound strange, especially in light of our current economy. I have told some of my friends whom I felt displayed a need for gratitude to bring about positive change in their lives. And I'm happy to say that those who took my advice to heart have reported a positive shift in their lives and a boost in the things they view as good, including increased wealth.

Even financial experts and abundance speakers agree that gratitude is a vital component for increasing wealth and success. This basic premise of gratitude is to acquire a more positive and receptive state of being. Here is how it works. You begin by being grateful for the smaller and more immediate things like having a place to live, food to eat, and a car to get around, etc. By placing yourself in a positive frame of mind through gratitude, you open yourself to all the good things the universe has to offer.

That is when you can actually begin to attract good things to you, and most of us could certainly benefit from this idea right now. As you become more comfortable with the positive things that basic gratitude brings, you will likely find yourself feeling grateful for even bigger things like being alive, learning hard lessons, your past mistakes, the freedom to make choices in life, and more. This type of gratitude catapults you even further along the path to a successful and happy life. That's because you begin to lose your fear of change or loss and you begin to develop a deep appreciation for the exciting adventure that life truly is.

Once you reach the point where you remain in a constant state of gratitude, you will become a magnet that attracts the positive things to you . . . the things that resonate with who you are and what you desire to do with your life.

So, if you are ready to enjoy more happiness and wealth, I challenge you to take some time every day this week to note those things that you are grateful for, from the smallest little gifts to the bigger ones. And may you attract the most wonderful and beneficial things into your life. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Getting some good exercise

I love watching my dog, Sheila take her afternoon stretch! She closes her eyes, stretches her paws straight out in front of her, and pushes her hips up as far as she can. There is no doubt that she enjoys this activity immensely. It seems to be a natural movement for cats and dogs.

We humans are also very taken with stretching! I am sure that most of us have probably experienced that wonderful feeling of having a nice long stretch before getting out of bed in the morning, or stretching our legs after a long drive in a cramped car. Stretching is actually very important to good posture and a strong healthy body.

Stretching is one of the things I have read about practicing Yoga. When you are doing these slow, deliberate postures, you would feel some muscles getting stretched while others are working quite hard. I always wondered how it would feel relaxed after a yoga class. I attribute that to the intense stretching. I have a friend who is a dancer, and she says me that the first half of her rehearsal sessions often focus primarily on stretching to limber up the body and protect it from muscle strain and injuries. Stretching is undoubtedly important to keeping fit.

For those of us who are more physically active, stretching is probably something we do before and/or after exercise. However, you may be surprised to learn that it's good to take time out during the middle of an exercise routine to do some stretching. It helps release tension in the muscles, making your workout more efficient and effective.

For those who are less active or in fragile health or even wheelchair-bound, stretching is extremely important. It helps to increase circulation and improve balance and equilibrium. And stretching under the guidance of a qualified trainer or physical therapist can be a tremendous help to those who are elderly or bed-bound by helping to correct poor posture and hunched shoulders and to alleviate the overstretching of back muscles.

I try to stretch daily in order to maintain good posture. The next time you get out for some exercise, be sure to do some good stretches before, during, and after your workout. My guess is that you'll feel more relaxed overall and will be protecting your body at the same time.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Another year, another birthday...

I certainly don't consider myself "old." To be honest, I am not sure what age qualifies as old today. I think that being old is more connected to a mindset. That said, I am certainly not in my twenties any longer, and my body occasionally reminds me that it is not as flexible as it once was. Getting older is a fact of life. No matter how we much we would like to avoid it, the clock will continue to tick and we will grow older. It's inevitable!

This realization sends some of us racing to the nearest plastic surgeon to nip, tuck, pull, and stretch everything back into something resembling what used to be, while others of us wear our age like a medal of honor. Personally, I hope that I will age gracefully, but I do hope I can keep my mind snappy and youthful.

Fortunately, I've got some positive news about staying young mentally. Apparently our brains don't age the same way our bodies do. In a Harvard study, researchers compared the differences in brain activity between younger and older subjects focusing on the firing between the front and back of the brain in each group. This front and back mechanism is called the "default network" and is activated when we need to use our memory. As you would imagine, the twenty-year- olds had the best responses when it came to this part of the study. The older subjects tended to have a weaker connection in their "default network."

Yet surprisingly, nearly half of the older adults maintained brain activity that was similar to the twenty-year-olds. I was very pleased with this news. Scientists attribute this younger, fit mind in an older body to good old-fashioned exercise, meaning cognitive exercise in this case. And they provided it by putting a group of 75-year-olds through several months of rigorous mind exercise. And after that, the subjects exhibited the memory abilities of people many years, sometimes even decades, younger.

So, in a nutshell, the more you exercise your brain, the better it will work and the longer it will last. According to researchers, when we "workout" our brains through mental exercises, we are actually building cortical tissue that helps our brains last longer. Unlike fat cells, the more brain cells we have, the better. That's because those extra brain cells are like insurance for the mind. If we are able to store up and maintain a good number of brain cells, then this reserve will help us to cope with the natural loss of cells that occurs with age.

Mental exercises that help build brain cells include reading, doing math, and playing games that call for strategy and matching. Your computer is a good source for such material. There are loads of brain boosting workouts available to play online, to load onto your pc, or even to use with a gaming device like Nintendo DS.

You might want to consider adding brain exercises to your daily physical regime. I myself am particularly fond of Sudoku, in addition to my regular physical exercise of brisk walking and yoga. It never hurts to start early when it comes to taking care of yourself. After all, we are born with only one brain and one body. It makes sense to keep them in good shape.

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