#33 Have a Photo Shoot

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#33

Have a Photo Shoot

You may be part of the population that has an annual family photo shoot for the purpose of sending Christmas cards or you’ve hired a photographer to take generation photographs when the family is all together but have you ever just had a photo shoot for fun? A professional photographer is not required. All you need is a great location, a willing subject, and a smartphone or nice camera. The new iPhones take better photographs than the $1000 camera that is only a couple of years old.

Silly Fun

If you’re a professional model, this may not sound fun at all but if not – this could be an activity full of fun and laughter; especially with a bunch of friends or someone special. You can take turns using the camera to capture funny faces, funny poses, and action shots of all that silliness. After all, sometimes, the best photos are the ones that are completely spontaneous.

Boudoir Shoot

How about a sexy shoot with class? – that’s the idea behind the Boudoir shoot. It’s definitely NOT pornography and definitely DOES capture the inner sultry of whomever is the subject. They make wonderful gifts for both men and women.  And, you don’t have to be in a relationship to justify having the shoot – it can build confidence for people of all shapes and sizes. This may be an area where hiring a professional is best, their ability to position and light you to maximize your best features will pay off.

Natural and Candid

You could fashion a backdrop and ‘stage’ a session for your shoot but a natural environment where your camera operator is able to capture candid images is often much nicer. Find a playground, a creek bed, or another favorite outdoor place to take your pictures. You might even have a friend follow you while you engage in your typical daily activities so they can seize any moments that find you immersed in your truest self.

Glam Shots

If you can’t get the shot you’re going for, try Glamour Shots, a franchised photography studio that specializes in ‘glamming’ you up and posing you in an effort to capture your best features. They offer props and backdrops of all kinds to ‘set the stage’ for dramatic and beautiful photography. In some cases, they offer makeup, wardrobe, and styling services. Think one-stop-shop for professional photography.

It doesn’t matter if you take this suggestion and go professional or if you grab a friend, your smartphone, and get out of the house, you’re apt to have a lot of fun and permanent memories if you take the time to…

Have a photo shoot.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#34 Send Emails to the Future

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#34

Send Emails to the Future

Would it creep you out to receive an email from your younger self or from someone who has passed away? Personally, I find it a wonderful idea and it’s pretty easy. All you need is a website that will hold your email and schedule it to be sent at some future point and an email address you feel confident you (or the person you’re sending it to) will still be checking at that same future point.

To Yourself

The website futureme.org focuses on encouraging you to send a letter to yourself with the header: Dear Future Me. Some of the sent letters are available to read publicly (you have the option to make it anonymously open) and are akin to reading diary entries. They could be used as encouragement, reflection, or inspiration for the life you are now living. It may be a great avenue to recall important emotional moments in your life as they happen.

To Others

This is the real inspiration in my opinion. There are many things that I’ve wanted to share with my children, friends, or other family members that maybe they weren’t ready to hear or that I wasn’t clear enough to share when the moment was at hand. Some things need time to talk about. The opportunity to share a reflection years later when the emotions have retreated can be a wonderful thing.

Healing

It is said that “time heals all wounds” which, is a misnomer of sorts. Time allows wounds to scar but some scars are always tender or downright painful when touched. Some relationships are not repairable and this the ability to write a letter and have it delivered at some future point may be just the thing that can help the parties involved offer forgiveness or an apology without the energy of the pain associated with it.

The Gift

Perhaps the most special part of this service is that we can share now, things that we may not be able to share at some future point. Certainly, I want to convey the love, admiration, and pride that I feel for my children today and I do make that effort but I feel good knowing that no matter what transpires between now and 10 or 20 years from now, they can receive a bit of mom encouragement then too…

I am one of those rare people that actually has the same email address I had in 1999 and obviously technology has exponentially changed as it is likely to going forward but I find comfort in the hope that people I love will receive a little surprise in their inbox because I too the time today to…

Send emails to the future.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#35 Make a Movie

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#35

Make a Movie

Creativity and imagination are some of the things that came naturally to most of us as children and for some, they develops – for others, they morphs or die. Why not try your hand at combining creativity and imagination again by making a movie? It’s easier than ever and there are a number of smartphone apps that practically do it for you. In fact, there are a number of movies presented at festivals that were entirely filmed on an iPhone. An idea and some ingenuity can go a long way.

Facts

For most of us, the most obvious choice is to record a home movie. Many of us have a collection of video clips that we’ve accumulated from special moments that could be strung together in a fantastic memory video. If we don’t have anything to start with, it’s super easy with phones, tablets, and portable video cams that are inexpensive and easy to use. It could also be a ‘movie’ that’s simply a collection of photographs with title cards and sound effects; a live photo album of sorts. This is a standard these days at weddings, graduations, and funerals but why wait? A collection of Johnny’s little league days is just as much of a keepsake as his high school graduation.

We have hours upon hours of Christmas day videos through the years that was shot when you placed a huge contraption on top of a tripod and left it there for the 4 hours it took to open presents…. Watching those things is almost painful. Digitizing the tapes and editing them to create something worth watching is a chore to be sure but also a pleasant treat that will be treasured for years.

Fiction

You could also create a story line, employ some actors/actresses, and direct your first feature. You could be part of an elite group who is recognized early in the career process and with raw talent. It may be as easy as going with your gut and allowing creativity to flow through you. Why not? If you play the lottery, the odds may be just as good.

Creative Energy

The point here is to step outside of your comfort zone, create memories, have fun, take a risk, embody creativity and honor your imaginative side. With any of those efforts, you are enhancing elements central to the happiness principle. So, go ahead and step out of the box….

Make a movie.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#36 Learn How to Shoot a Gun

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#36

Learn How to Shoot a Gun

This is an emotional topic for some and yet it’s a skill set that – at the very least – might save your life at some point. Perhaps you are already be adept in this area and the following will validate your position. In either case, there is a certain amount of security that results when you know how to properly [safely] handle a gun.

Safety

Because a gun is a tool that has the capacity to kill, it is imperative that anyone handling one learn safety and responsibility. Just like the automobiles that we drive – it is a piece of machinery that deserves respect. Likewise, developing skill requires training, practice, and patience. When addressed properly, a gun is simply another tool or piece of sporting equipment.

Self-confidence

Knowing how to shoot a gun can generate self-confidence. There’s a certain amount of accomplishment and pride when the target you were aiming at is gets obliterated. Whether it’s a clay that you hit in midair, a can on top of a bail, or a bullseye on a clip at 50 feet – knowing that your hand was steady and your eyesight keen offers a sense of satisfaction.

Bonding

Target practice is a fun thing to do on a date night or with friends, especially if you’re a little competitive. Think of it as an extreme dart game. Clay shooting is another target activity that gets you outdoors in the fresh air. Because alcohol cannot be part of these experiences (liquor and guns are never a good combination), it’s an opportunity to gather and enjoy the experience of each other’s company without all the silliness and obnoxious behavior that alcohol tends to conjure.

Brain Power

Shooting a gun with intent and purpose is an empowering experience. Not only does it foster self-confidence but also attention, focus, and reactivity. All of those elements contribute overall to the sense of empowerment that supports individual esteem. It exercises brain and body muscles – all potentially leading to better physical and emotional health.

Just In Case

I’m not taking a side on gun ownership or gun laws in any capacity, only suggesting that knowing how to safely handle a gun – at the very least – may save your life if you happen to stumble across a loaded one. God forbid we ever ‘have’ to shoot one for self preservation but if we do, the first step is to…

Learn to shoot a gun.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#37 Sing Karaoke

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#37

Sing Karaoke

After recommending that we try Stand Up Comedy as a way to improve your well-being, I’d be remiss to ignore the idea of singing publicly as another way to foster fun, laughter, friendship, and joy in your life. And, while I am quite sure that I may be the spectacle of fun were I to stand up and attempt to sing a popular song… it would make for great memories.

Evidence

Several years ago a Japanese research team published a study indicating that those people who participated in the practice of getting together with friends and singing, were less stressed, had better cardiovascular health and less susceptible to heart disease. I mean, clearly those are benefits of reduced stress all around so essentially, they’re saying Karaoke reduces stress – no matter if you can carry a tune.

Talent

The point of Karaoke isn’t necessarily showcasing vocal talent – although it does certainly serve that purpose. We are generally entertained when someone is able to carry a tune and has even a little depth in their vocal range. But even if you can barely make it through Happy Birthday, gathering a group of friends and joining in on a collective rendition of ‘Sweet Caroline’ is great fun.

Physical Benefits

Maybe one of the best physical benefits of singing is that it forces us to control our breath and breathe deeply. It works our memory which, is exercise for our brain. It strengthens throat and palate muscles which, may improve snoring and apnea. It supports good posture by forcing you to stand more upright, allowing for better breath control. And, it may be one of the most natural antidepressants. People who sang regularly in church were found to have higher dopamine levels than those who did not.

Social Connection

Karaoke is an ongoing opportunity to gather with friends whether it is in a public forum or someone’s living room. It gives you rhyme and reason to connect. If you are a ‘regular’ on open mic night, you may develop a following; fostering confidence and esteem with like minded people.

There doesn’t really seem to be a downside to this recommendation except for the fear you may have revolving around judgment, rejection, ridicule, or failure… all derogatory and ultimately unhelpful; totally worth staring down. A great way to face your fears while having a great time inside a supportive environment is to…

Sing karaoke.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#38 Try Stand Up Comedy

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#38

Try Stand Up Comedy

I can only imagine how many people read this suggestion as a way to improve your life and laugh out loud because it may be the farthest thing from something that sounds fun. I suspect there are only two basic perspectives here…  one being that “there’s no way in hell I’d stand up and try to be funny because I’m not” or even if you think you could be funny… “there’s no way in hell I’d stand up in front of strangers”. And still… I stand by the recommendation.

Finding Funny

Everyone has a funny side or at the very least, comedic memories; stories of times when the absurdity of life found you belly laughing. The longer you’ve lived, the more you have to relate with. But, you don’t have to be on the older side if you are a good observer. There’s a lot of funny in the world and your ability to see it and describe it to other people is what makes good comedic material. In many of the basic struggles that we experience as humans, there is a humorous perspective. Some of the most famous comedians have been able to elaborate on the light side of everyday conflicts; relationships, work, raising children, proposals, traffic, etc.

Writing Funny

Where many of us lose the momentum is between writing the ideas and crafting the ‘script’ of the story. The website CreativeStandup.com offers some great advice about “understanding the principles of comedy” versus “applying rules and techniques”.  In some cases, it’s better to record yourself telling the tales and then have the recording transcribed and begin working from that point. In that way you are breaking the creative process into two distinct pieces but allowing the ‘material’ to flow naturally. There are several highly rated transcription services (apps) that are relatively inexpensive.

Presenting Funny

Once you have a few ideas and a routine you’re comfortable with, try an Open Mic night at a local comedy club. It’s a great way to face any fear of public speaking because people are ‘supposed to be laughing at you’. It’s a great night out with friends if everyone is participating and an awesome way to work on confidence and esteem.

You’ve heard the phrase ‘everyone’s a comic!’ – although notably it may have been a sarcastic expression at the time but there’s a little bit of truth in most sarcasm. Use this as fuel to recall some of your most memorable personal experiences, tell the story with as much absurdity as it can support, and …

Try stand up comedy.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#39 Overcome Self Doubt

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#39

Overcome Self Doubt

Do you ever doubt yourself? Do you doubt you can do whatever it is you’ve set out to do? It’s perfectly normal. We all do it. Self-doubt is something anyone faces at some point in their life. And for some of us it can be a real struggle. When self-doubt – which is defined as the lack of confidence in oneself and one’s abilities – keeps us from doing that we want to do and from reaching our goals, it’s time to take action and work towards overcoming it.

And since self-doubt by definition is caused by a lack of confidence, the solution is obvious. We need no to work on becoming more confident. But how do you go about boosting your self-confidence? Saying “You need to be more confident” is easy, actually doing it can be a little harder, but it can be done.

Fake It Until You Make It

I’m serious. As odd as it sounds this actually works. By acting confident, you can trick your mind into becoming a more confident person. Stand up tall, talk with conviction and take some action. Act like a confident person until you become just that.

Find A Cheerleader

If you’re the kind of person that thrives on praise and gets a big boost in confidence whenever they receive a compliment, go find yourself a cheerleader. Talk to a friend, find an accountability partner, or hire a coach or mentor. Let them know that you work well with praise and ask them to cheer you on as you work on your confidence.

Make a List of Accomplishments

There are probably dozens of things that you’ve accomplished over time. Make of list of all of the challenges that you’ve mastered, the goals you’ve reached, and the problems you’ve solved. This list will act as a reminder that you’ve been here and done that; that you have a track record of accomplishments.

Take On A Challenge

Setting and reaching a goal is another big confidence booster. Set yourself a challenge. It doesn’t matter what it is or what area of your life it applies to. Then tackle it and rise to the challenge. Reaching your goal – whatever it may be – will boost your confidence overall and help you in all areas of your life.

And don’t stop there… throughout your daily life pay attention to your confidence. It won’t take you long to get out of the habit of doubting yourself and becoming the confident and productive person you’ve always wanted to be when you use these tricks to …

Overcome self doubt.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#40 Reevaluate Culture

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#40

Reevaluate Culture

What do you think about when you hear the word “culture”? I imagine that most of us think of ethnicity or the list of ‘isms’ that are currently politically correct (sex, age, gender, sexuality, etc.) and of course, those are in and of themselves… cultures. But the term culture can be expanded much more broadly and I am of the belief that if we re-evaluate our thoughts about ‘culture’, it will help us to understand people better; creating more opportunity for developing empathy and offering compassion.

Sub-cultures

Remember the television show Wife Swap?? It was a program where the wives of two households traded places for a week. To make it good (and dramatic) television, the households were often dramatically different in sub-cultures (a suburban Atlanta business woman exchanged places with a Vermont stay-at-home mom who practices Wicca, for example). Each of the families are exposed to the different ‘cultures’ of the wife and they attempt to learn something from one another. It occasionally goes well.

Diversity & Sensitivity Training

I’ve never officially taken or performed sensitivity training but I’ve had diversity training both in graduate school and in professional development coursework. I can’t help but wonder why they aren’t a part of our traditional curriculum at this point. And for those programs that do include diversity training, is there discussion about the granular aspect of diversity? An individual who grows up with socioeconomic privilege, in a one parent home, or with well developed emotional skills is diverse from the person who has significant exposure to the opposite positions.

Why is this important?

For a lot of the couples who sit in my office because of distressed relationships, it is frequently rooted in these diverse elements that were subconsciously at play. What was the ‘conflict resolution culture’ in your childhood home? It will matter when you attempt to resolve conflict in your adult relationships? What was the ‘division of labor culture’ in your childhood home? Again, it will matter in your adult relationship. Why is your coworker passive aggressive about your Jimmy Choo shoes? Did they grow up in a poverty stricken community? Do they have strong ‘cultural’ bias about frugality?

We tend to make assumptions about people who share our physical traits and adopt a belief that they are culturally the same. Likewise, we tend to believe that people who look different … are different, and at the end of the day our assumptions prevent us from asking really important questions.

Ask Questions

By reevaluating our idea of culture, nothing about the person sitting next to you can be assumed. It forces us to ask questions and see the individual nuances about him or her that compose their individuality. Your friend may have Asian features physically but was adopted into an African American home with a Jewish spiritual tradition. If you don’t ask questions to understand the impacts of all those sub-cultural experiences, you’re apt to totally misread who they are.

Our world – and the people in it – isn’t broken into nice clean sections. If you really want to know someone and understand how to communicate with them successfully, you’ll have to start by…

Reevaluating culture.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#41 Practice a Ritual

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#41

Practice a Ritual

Sometimes, practicing a ritual can be an extremely healthy way to manage anxiety or stress. By definition, a ritual is “a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed in a sequestered place, and performed according to a set sequence”. For the purposes of this discussion, I’d like to expand the idea of ritual a bit and allow for it to be something we do the same way each time with intention and purpose.

Focus & Intention

A Catholic Mass falls into the category of a ritual and while unless you are a priest, you won’t be in the act of practicing the mass itself… you may find that attending mass and engaging in the mass ritual offers the same benefit. Going to the gym at the same time everyday and moving through the equipment in the same way with the same motivational music in our earbuds – is a ritual as long as there focus and intention with the movements. Rituals differ from routines with that focus and intention.

Conscious Energy

A ritual allows us to engage in an action consciously. Whether we are holding our hand over our heart and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance or kneeling in prayer at bedtime, they often signify meaning. Many brotherhoods, fraternities, and sororities practice rituals as a way of bringing their membership together; strengthening the sense of belonging. Some families have the ritual of a family dinner on Sundays or in our house… it’s Mimosa’s and Monkey Bread on Christmas morning. They can be those things that unite and remind us of what’s good. Mr. Fred Rogers share his ritual of putting on slippers and changing into a cardigan as a way of getting comfortable each day; allowing us to feel as though we were at home with him.

Energy & Pleasure

Engaging in a regular ritual may energize you and create space for happy feelings. The demand focus and intention which, allows you to immerse yourself in your life. Routines that are mundane can be elevated to ritual status by engaging in them differently. Being deliberately present in those things that take little thought and experiencing them completely – change them from an unconscious pattern of movement to something that serves a positive function and something from which you may experience great pleasure.

Get Started

If you don’t yet have one, think of an action that is meaningful, intentional, and can be achieved on a regular basis. Perhaps it’s sitting down with a journal every evening or meditation before you get out of bed in the morning. It could even be a Friday evening happy hour or date night with someone special. Self-care rituals may be the perfect starting point for those of you with busy lives and never enough time. A ritual can reduce anxiety by providing a period of certainty in your day or week.

No matter the details, your life can be enriched greatly with the simple act of …

Practicing a ritual.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.