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happiness checkOk, I admit. This is not something I read in the Europe's Journal of Psychology. Nor has it been proven by any scientific research or backed up by a team of well-known psychology experts.

What I am about to share with you is my own theory that was inspired and conceived during my last 9-hour flight from Italy to New York.

My argument and my conclusion is that the older we get, the more stubbornly we ignore everyday miracles that surround us.

Let’s take flying for example…

Can you remember your first trip on a plane? How did you feel, looking out of the window and watching how a huge airplane picks up speed and slowly takes off the ground, leaving behind the roof tops, long streamers of roads and the perfectly delineated squares of green and yellow fields.

I observed people around me today and all I saw was mild boredom and slight frustration about the plane being 45 minutes late. When did flying become just a convenient vehicle that allows us to get from point A to point B? Isn’t it a miracle that we are able to surmount the force of gravity and rise above the clouds?

When I was little I was practically glued to the window the whole time the plane flew, imagining that this is how the God sees the Earth. I felt powerful. I still do, when I distract myself from voracious “What time will they serve lunch?” thoughts and take a moment to glance out of the window on the frothy, ever-changing sea of white clouds floating below.

Now, getting back to my theory about us losing our ability to get amazed at little things…

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“Believe in your dreams and they may come true; believe in yourself and they will come true” – Author Unknown.

Do you believe in yourself and your abilities? Do you feel that you can achieve anything you put your mind to? Do you wake up every day feeling accomplished, confident and great about yourself?

I do not. Sometimes I have writer’s block and I doubt my ability to write anything worth reading. Sometimes I am not sure if I can live up to my goals. And sometimes I simply have a bad day and I doubt that I can do anything to improve it.
Maybe occasionally you have such days too, wishing that you appeared more confident around your colleagues, more outgoing at your friend’s party or more decisive in your actions.

If so, here are 10 Powerful Tips that will help you to boost your self-confidence and hush your negative self-talk whenever you need it:

1. Know your purpose.

When you know your intentions for the day, you have a good reason to feel good about yourself. Without purpose and not knowing what to do, you are likely to feel down. Usually, it gives way to boredom and ends in feeling unworthy because you don’t have anything to look forward to. But, but, but! If you plan and decide, you have a purpose. Pursuing it would be a meaningful act, achieving the same boosts your confidence all the more.

2. Surround yourself with wonderful people.

As much as grumpy, crabby people dampen the spirit, positive people heighten your self-esteem. They are those who would give you support, give you affirmations and help you see the brighter side of life. Yes, they are good source of laughter as well. Kind of like my friends who make me laugh after a really messy crying session.

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It is not hard to be thankful, when you are living in a contemporary mansion with a private swimming pool, surrounded by accomplished friends, loving family and all the luxuries money can buy. Or at least this is what many people like to think.

There is no doubt that it is easier to count your blessings when everything in your life is going smoothly, but I believe in two things:

1. A true sense of gratitude and well-being comes from the inside. It is a feeling that arises in the heart for no particular reason, just for the fact that the sun has risen or we are feeing alive. We can choose to feel this way no matter what the circumstances are.

2. Success and happiness starts with an attitude, not vice versa. Highly successful people do not become happy and grateful as soon as they make their first million dollars or see their face on a magazine cover. They think and feel successful long before they have any reasons to do so, and success always follows.

What if the same is true for gratitude?

When we are able to feel grateful for no reason, blessings will follow in abundance. This is what many success gurus talk about. Maybe it is time we start listening? 🙂

8 Thankful Quotes from ‘rich and famous’

1. “Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey

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“Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it” – Confucius

There is beauty everywhere. If you truly understand this, the world around you changes in a heartbeat.

You can look at any ordinary object and find beauty in its existence. You can look at grape vine leaves covered with ugly looking caterpillars and realize the possibility of a butterfly garden. You can meet a person that by all social standards can not be described as good-looking and realize that they are the most charming, witty and intelligent person you have ever known.

Beauty is not an objective and quantifiable characteristic, like height or weight. It is not limited to physical appearance and, as many wise men point out, it lies in the eye of beholder.

To me the ability to see beauty in the world is no different than the ability to think positively. Just as we can stop the flow of negative thoughts and concentrate on the positive aspects of a situation, we can train our eyes to become more sensitive to the beauty that already surrounds us, instead of constantly focusing our attention on the shortcomings, imperfections and downsides of people around us and our own life.

Here are 7 ways to see the full beauty of this world:

1. Look beyond the surface.

Simply glancing at something for the first time does not usually reveal its essence. Many things that we perceive as “normal” often turn out to be extraordinary if you just take care to look, to observe, to get past the first impression.

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We view food as a source of energy, and sometimes when what we eat tastes particularly delicious – a source of guilty pleasure. But we rarely see a connection between the food we eat and the mood we are in throughout the day.

Yet if you think about it whenever we feel bored, sad, heartbroken or stressed out we automatically head to the kitchen in search of a tub of ice-cream or a bag of potato chips, instead of turning for comfort to foods that can actually help to boost our mood, improve our motivation and noticeably increase our energy (and I am not talking about coffee or ‘Red Bull’ here).

If lately you have been a little cranky, spacey and quick to snap at friends, co-workers and your family members, a better eating plan may be just the thing you need to restore balance in your personal and professional life.

Below are the Top 10 Foods that will help you to do just that:

1. Bananas

With so many exotic fruits on the market, good ol’ bananas are often overlooked and undervalued. However, by all definitions a banana is one of the super fruits that can help you cope with stress, feel happier and noticeably improve your mood. Bananas and the potassium they contain not only keep blood pressure in check, but also help to improve memory and brain power. So instead of grabbing a chocolate chip cookie to relax, savor the deliciousness of golden bananas.

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Recently after driving around the suburbs of Milan for almost two hours, hoping to find a grocery store that was open on Sunday (close to an impossible task, by the way), then missing our exit and getting stuck in traffic, my friend declared “Let’s face it! Today officially sucks! We just have to accept it and stop trying!”

I thought about it and realized it did not sit well with me to accept that my day sucked and there was nothing I could do about it!

We all have bad periods when everything seems to go wrong. But it does not mean that a day that starts poorly cannot get better.

Below is a list of 57 Things that lift my spirits and make me want to get on with my day, even if the rest of it has been crummy.

Pick the ones you like and make your days brighter and happier!

1. Cuddle the person that you love before getting out of bed
2. Prepare yourself a delicious breakfast
3. Spend 15 minutes meditating
4. Call an old friend and catch up on the latest news
5. Send cheerful messages to 5 different people
6. Wear your favorite colors
7. Go outside and fill your lungs with fresh air
8. Listen to your favorite radio station when driving to work and sing along

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Every person has their unique, natural, God-given talents, positive traits of character and desire to contribute to the world in some way. Sometimes this inner goodness is temporary overshadowed by fears, harsh words and painful past experiences.

But it does not mean we should not try to see past people’s actions and limiting beliefs and try to bring out the best in every person we see.

I know, it is not your job, nor your duty to bring the best out in people, but take it from me it is a lot nicer to live in a world of bright, kind-hearted and compassionate people than deal with “ungrateful family members”, “hard-headed clients” and “slack co-workers”.

In fact, learning to bring out the best in other people is one of the best gifts that you can give yourself. True, it might not always be easy. It might not always be appreciated. It might not even work in some cases, but it does not mean we should stop trying.

Here is a little guide on how to do it:

1. Do not take negativity personally.

“Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it.” – Rene Descartes

Can you think of a time when you were bubbling with joy and love for the whole world? You wanted to share it with everyone you met, right? Well, when people are overcome by negative feelings, they unintentionally share them with the world as well.

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The shades of our opinions, beliefs, worries, fears, hopes and expectations color our experience of the world. Every day we face situations that are neither positive nor negative, but our attitude towards them defines how they impact our life. If we see something as a problem, we will react differently than if we perceive the same event as a lesson, or even an opportunity.  Similar, if we approach people we do not know with distrust and an air of superiority, we will build a different kind of relationship than if we greet them with a genuine open smile.
No matter how old you are, where you live or what you do, having a positive outlook on life always pays off – even when things do not go according to plan; even when your kids misbehave; even when your manager is giving you a hard time; even when it feels like you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.
Here is the positivity cheat sheet that will help you to deal with everyday challenges, occasional self-doubts and unwelcomed negative thoughts. I hope that it will make your world a brighter, and happier place.
• Get in touch with your spiritual self. When you shift your focus inwards and focus on the spiritual part of your life, your attitude towards many situations will change. Spirituality fills your heart with love and peace that ordinary problems cannot shatter.
• Keep positive people in your life. Positivity is doubled, when shared. Surround yourself with kind and optimistic people and their positive qualities will rub off on you.
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“Why me?!”

We have all asked ourselves this question at some point of our life. Moments come when we just can not understand why something is happening to us? Why we have been punished? Why we have lost a job we liked? Why our marriage has fallen apart? Why we have got sick? Why people that we love are taken away from us?

I do not know the answer to all of  these questions, but when I catch myself  asking “Why me?”, there are 3 Positive Statements of Life that help me to remind myself that everything is going to be ok.

We have not been punished or singled out

I recently read a great story about a remarkable tennis player Arthur Ashe. In 1975, he won Wimbledon, unexpectedly defeating Jimmy Connors. Thirteen years later, he discovered he had contracted HIV during a blood transfusions at a hospital, where he was having heart surgery. After the world found out about this Ashe started getting lots of mail from his fans asking him, why had God chose him of all people when he had not done anything wrong in his life?
Ashe’s reply shocked many.

He simply said, “All over the world some million teenagers aspire to become tennis players. Out of these million maybe one hundred thousand reach some sort of proficiency. Of these only a few thousand play in some circuit and only a hundred or so play the grand slam. Finally only two reach the final of Wimbledon. When I was standing with the trophy of Wimbledon in my hand I never questioned God “Why Me?” And now what right do I have to ask God “Why Me?

It is true… When something good happens to us we never wonder “Why me?” We usually feel that we have deserved it with our hard work, patience, persistence, or power of our mind. We believe that we should be happy, because we have been a good person, fed the hungry, helped our neighbor, taken care of our family, and worked hard.
Consequently, when bad things happen to us, we feel that life has not treated us fairly.

But the truth is that we deserve all of it – good and bad.

It is not always that we act according to our conscious. Sometimes, willingly or unwillingly, we hurt other people’s feelings. Sometimes we do or say things that we are not proud of. Sometimes we can be unforgiving, judgmental even cruel.

This does not mean that we will be definitely punished for our actions, nor that doing everything ‘right’ is a guarantee that we will not suffer one day.

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With Thanksgiving approaching it is about time to think of everything we are thankful for, and believe me, there are many things in our life that we take for granted.

Here is a list of 33 Things to be Grateful for that I have put together as a reminder for you and myself:

1. Your parents. I know that sometimes our parents can be controlling, stubborn, demanding, but they still love us no matter what we do and where we are. If you have your parents around, take a moment to let them know how much they mean to you. If they are not longer with you, be grateful for all the happy moments that you have shared together.

2. Having to get up early to go to work. In the morning it might not seem like a blessing, but it really is. Think of all the extra hours you get to enjoy life, while other people might be wasting them. Besides, if you have to get up before dawn, you are one of the rare people, who get to see beautiful sunrises almost every day.

3. Freedom of faith. For thousands of years people have fought for it, have died for it, and have worked towards it. So that you can freely choose your religion and believe in God, without being persecuted or treated poorly.

4. Financial security. You might worry about paying off the mortgage and saving enough to send your kids to college, but if you have a roof over your head, food in your fridge and enough money to pay your bills, you are luckier than 90% of the world’s population.

5. Chocolate. Try to picture life without chocolate – not being able to have a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter day, no chocolate cake or chocolate flavored ice-cream, no pancakes with Nuttella. Terrifying, isn’t it? 🙂

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