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The Science of Happiness: 5 Ways Nature Makes You Happier

“Deviation from nature is deviation from happiness.” Samuel Johnson

Who doesn’t want to be happy?

We all could use more happiness in our lives, so I’ve compiled some of the scientific research on what makes us happy.

In the video below, I share insights from studies in the fields of positive psychology, medicine, and behavioral economics on the important role that nature plays in our happiness.

From these studies we learn that:

  • Deepening our connection to nature improves our happiness
  • Spending time in nature lowers our stress levels and makes us happier
  • Exposure to nature increases our happiness and helpfulness

Watch to discover how you can use nature to boost your happiness and improve your health. For more easy ways to increase your happiness, download our daily happiness half-dozen. This is a pdf of 6 activities you can do in a few minutes each day that are scientifically proven to increase happiness.

How would you describe your connection with nature? Email me your thoughts on how you . interact with nature to boost your happiness.

Unleash Your Productivity & Profits With Your Signature Strengths

What happens when we move from asking what’s wrong with people to asking what’s right with them?

This is the question psychologist began to ask 20 years ago. It led to the birth of the positive psychology movement.

Positive psychology focuses on what promotes healthy psychological functioning.

Much of the past 20 years of positive psychological research, has focused on the benefits of using our strengths. There is an overwhelming body of research that shows that people perform better and are happier when they use their strengths.

Using your signature strengths is a critical key to your success in all areas of your life.

So What Are Strengths?

Strengths combine your talent with increased skill, knowledge, and practice. When you bring that combination to a level of mastery, then you’re operating in your strength.

Identifying your natural talent and interest is only the first step of cultivating your strength. Once you identify your strength, you want to focus as much time and energy as possible in developing it.

Developing your strength allows you to excel in your personal and professional life.

That’s why I spend so much time helping my clients, friends and children to focusing on their strengths.

Focusing on your strength is the easiest and the best pathway to excellence. 

So for me, one of my strengths is asking questions.

I have the ability to ask a question that would blow open the conversation. People start thinking about the topic in new and different ways. My questions unpack underlying assumptions. It often causes us to question and clarify our goals.

Now that’s a fabulous strength when used wisely. It serves me well when I’m coaching clients, teaching and in planning and strategizing committee work.

But there are some committees that don’t benefit from my strength. They don’t want to question our assumptions. They don’t want to rethink what we’ve done. The focus of this committee is to execute a pre-established plan. In those committees, my strength of asking questions could  be seen as a hindrance.

Thus, I use my knowledge of my strengths to decide how I can add the most value to my organization. I choose to serve on committees that are developing programs that are evaluating a new strategic direction. Those are the kinds of opportunities where my strengths can really add value. I stay away from committees where that that’s not their agenda.

Once you are aware of your strengths, you can position yourself to add maximum value. Using yours strengths wisely will not help you do your work better. And it will allow your company and colleagues to get the most from your presence.

Organizing your work around your strengths helps you to be more productive and to enjoy your work more.

Strengths Increase Your Productivity and Profits.

 

Companies that use a system of strength-based feedback are much more profitable, productive, and do a better job of retaining employees.

Most all companies give some kind of annual review. But when you combine that review with a strength based approach you find that feedback is much more useful and results in increased profit.

Strength-based feedback involves helping employees to identify their strengths. It also includes giving them regular feedback around how they exercise strengths. It also includes suggestions on how they might want to exercise their strengths new in better ways.

Companies that use strength-based feedback are 8.9% more profitable. They are also 12.9 % more productive.

Using your strengths in your in your workplace makes you more productive and helps your company make more money. Now who doesn’t like that?

Research also shows that companies using a strength based approach to feedback have much higher rates of employee retention. Employee turnover is lowered by 15 % , simply by encouraging employees to use their strengths.

Whether you are an employee, manager, or a business owner, there is tremendous value in knowing and using your signature strength.

Helping the other people that you work with know and use their strengths daily will take your company to a level of extraordinary success.

Strengths Improve Your Mental and Physical Health.

Signature strengths have shown to be helpful in treating depression; even among the populations that are hard to treat. Senior adults battling depression are a particularly difficult population to treat, but have shown great success with strength-based interventions.

In one study, researchers asked senior adults to identify their signature strengths. Then they were asked to use their signature strength in new ways.

The research results showed that those adults were much less depressed and reported feeling much happier as a result of the intervention.

It’s fabulous that we can get these kinds of results without needing to rely on any kind of medication or drugs.

Using your signature strength in new ways is an exercise you can easily do to get yourself out of those waves of depression and help increase your happiness.

We’ve also learned that signature strengths can help improve your physical health.

Research shows that when you can connect your exercise routine to your signature strength, you get much better results.

When trainers design a exercise routine that is tailored to tap into your signature strengths, people are able to stay with the exercise routine longer. Because they stay with their exercise routine longer, they experience better positive changes in their health and well-being.

Signature strengths help people enjoy exercising and make more progress.

Each of us is unique.

There is no such thing as a one size fits all health and wellness package for anyone. Yes, we all need certain kinds of activity on certain kinds of educational experiences. We all need certain kinds of work based experiences.

Finding ways to connect those health, educational, and work experiences to our signature strengths will allow us to get more out of those experiences.
Focus on strengths quote

How Do I Identify My Strengths?

There are two widely used psychological assessments to identify your strengths: Clifton Strengths Finder and Values In Action (VIA) survey.

The Clifton Strengths Finder gives you an assessment  of the top 34 strength characteristics.

Many corporations use the Clifton Strengths Finder as one of their formal employee or leadership assessment. There are some colleges and universities who are also incorporating this assessment among their incoming students.

You can buy the book Strengths Finder to get a code for a strengths profile assessment.

Another common strengths assessment is using the Values In Action (VIA) survey.

While the Strengths Finder is focused on identifying the activities that you’re really good at, the VIA focuses on who you are and how you show up in the world. This measures how you how show your core values in life and work.

VIA is one of the few assessments that are culturally universal. The creators of the VIA studied the values promoted in various cultures and created measures to assess those positive values. VIA has 24 signature strengths, which are all positive cultural values.

People who take the VIA survey will receive a ranking of all 24 values. The top five strengths on your VIA assessment are your signature strengths.

Click here for your personal VIA signature strengths assessment. You will be able to take the VIA survey, receive a detailed report of your results and a free 20min consultation. Here was can discuss how to have your signature strengths work better for you.

Here is another resource for a quick and easy way to identify their strengths. Click here for my “Strength Spotting: your guide to expressing your best self”. This guide has over 200 strengths. It includes the strengths from the Clifton Strength Finder, the VIA survey as well as other strengths identified in research literature.

Whichever path you choose; you owe it to yourself to get clear on your strengths.

Once you know your strengths, the best thing you can do for yourself is commit to cultivating those strengths daily.

Your strengths are your key to winning in all areas of your life.

I’m curious to learn about your strengths.

List your strengths below and let me know how they support you in work and life.

The Remarkable Benefits of Purpose

Victor Frankel learned a lot about human behavior by observing people under the most inhuman circumstances.

Victor wasn’t just observing the behaviors of others under horrible conditions. He was also living under these oppressive conditions.

Victor and the people he observed were beaten mercilessly, forced to do grueling manual labor, and randomly executed.

Victor’s observations of human behavior occured in concentration camps. There many people declared “undesirables” were subjected to brutal, inhumane treatment on a daily basis.

Victor learned from his “observations” the secret to human survival.

He noted that it wasn’t those with most physical strength who were able to endure and survive this harsh treatment.

The best survivors were people who found purpose in the midst of their suffering.

Those people who lost their purpose died.

This surprising observation, led Victor to the insightful conclusion:

“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose … He who has a WHY to live, can bear with almost any HOW.”

Victor Frank documents his  experiences and insights in his groundbreaking book Man’s Search For Meaning.

I encourage you to read or re-read this amazing book. I find it to be an inspiring and insightful account of the centrality of purpose to the human experience.

As I recently reflected on the importance of purpose, I identified three distinctive benefits that come from having a clear purpose in our lives.

This list of the benefits of purpose is not meant to be comprehensive. But it reflects what I believe to be the most valuable gifts we gain from knowing and living our life purpose.

I hope this list inspires you to take invest in discovering and expressing your life purpose.

Here are the three top benefits that we gain from having a clear sense of purpose in our lives.

1. Purpose Produces Clarity and Focus

Discovering your life purpose will give you focus.

It will help you to make decisions in a way that’s easier and less stressful.

This is because purpose helps you to identify what’s important in life. This will help you be less conflicted and experience less anxiety about saying no.

You are free to make decisions about how you spend your time, money, and energy based on whether it aligns with your life purpose.

There are lots of wonderful things that you could be doing with your time or with your money. But they are not all good things for you to do. Having a clear sense of your purpose helps you to distinguish between the two.

When I first started my career as a college professor, I was so excited to finally have position that I’d worked towards for so many years. I wanted to be of service to the students, the community, and my University colleagues.

I was overcommitted and stressed out!

I found myself getting involved with something just because it was a good idea. But, as I got more clear on my purpose I decided that I could not invest in every good idea presented to me.

Before I agreed to take on any new commitments, projects, relationships, I asked myself a critical question:

“Is this in line with my purpose?”

This was how I raised the bar in my life.

Now, it’s much easier for me to say “no” to most requests. This habit makes it possible for me to give a resounding “yes” to the opportunities aligned with my purpose.

purpose helps you say no

I now have the time, resources, and energy to invest in the things that are important to me. I am able to do this without feeling overwhelmed and stressed out.

My purpose has given me focus.

2. Purpose Gives You Longer Life

Having a clear advice purpose helps you to live longer and a healthier life.

A study published in the 2014 issue of Psychological Science, documents the life extending effect of purpose.

In this national study, the researchers survey people and asked them to rate their sense of purpose in life from low to high.

Fourteen years later, those participants with a low sense of purpose were much more likely to have died. All other things being equal, having a sense of purpose made all the difference in their life expectancy.

I was surprise to find this relationship holds true in every age group.

It wasn’t just for older people that having a sense of purpose help them to live longer.  It was true for middle aged people and for people in their twenties.

The researchers concluded that having a sense of purpose gives people “protective benefits” to their life. Purpose enhances your physical well-being and has a cumulative effect.

So it’s actually better to develop a sense of purpose as early on as possible. This gives you more time to continue accumulating all the benefits that come with having a strong sense of purpose.

But, it’s never too late to invest time in discovering you purpose.

At whatever moment you get clear your purpose and start living out that purpose, it will extend your life.

3. Purpose Builds Up Your Resilience

Resilience allows you to bounce back from the setbacks that are inevitable in life.

When you’re resilient you, setbacks don’t stop you. Resilient people are able to use those setbacks as stepping stones to their success.

Resilience is the result of having a clear sense of your purpose.

Once you understand why a goal is important to you, you can overcome tremendous obstacles to acheive that goal.

Think about the remarkable survivors that Victor Frankl observed. They did not break even under brutal inhumane treatment. Their purpose gave them to resilience to endure.

live on purposeI often think about Nelson Mandela who spent 27 years in prison. Yet, he was able to walk directly into world leadership upon from his release.

I’ve spent years teaching in prisons and I know that prison is a horrible place for anyone to be. Everyday, in both big and small ways, there are constant assaults on your safety, dignity, and humanity.

But because Nelson Mandela was clear on his purpose, he was able to walk out of prison as a whole man with a vision.

Mandela’s strong sense of purpose enabled him to lead South Africa into a new era of peace and  justice.

That’s the power of purpose.

Discover Your Purpose

When I’m talking with people about the importance of purpose, people often tell me that don’t know their life purpose. And that they don’t know how to discover it.

The best way to start uncovering your life purpose by reflecting on how you already bring value to others. Think about times in your life where you’ve made a difference in somebody’s life.

Your purpose is for others. Thinking about the ways you already add value to others can help you better understand your purpose.

Another reflection to get clarity on your life purpose is to consider the activities that place you in your flow.

What are the things you do that give you a feeling of timelessness?

These are activities that you could be doing this two hours, but it feels like just twenty minutes. That’s your flow.  It’s that kind of work where you are so fully engaged in the process that time seems to disappear.

Your flow is an excellent window into your purpose.

As you clarify your life purpose, you want to highlight it and expand it. This means organizing more of your activities and goals living out your purpose.

For those who are ready to live a life of purpose that connects with your passions, join us for a FREE 5-Day Challenge to Creating a Life Filled with Energy and Passion.

This challenge empowers you to create a life of purpose that fills you with energy and passion, drastically reduces your stress, and allows you to accomplish your most important goals.

How would it feel to be filled with confidence, energy, and be extraordinarily productive? 

Whether you are struggling to stay above the growing to-do lists or wanting to get the most out of each day, this 5-Day Productivity Challenge will give you simple and powerful tools to help you tap into your unique talents and energy to create the rich and rewarding life you deserve!

Get from under the pile of unending tasks, connect with your purpose, and reclaim your life. Click here to join our 5-Day Challenge to a life filled with energy and passion!

Having a strong sense of purpose benefits you and others. Commit to discovering and nurturing your purpose today!

Wishing you a life filled with meaning, purpose, and joy!

Secrets to Peace- Even in These Crazy Times

Peace, dove, heart

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” ― Jimi Hendrix

Peace is something that we all say we want, but few of us actually possess. What makes peace so elusive? Perhaps peace eludes us because we do not understand what it is or we do not chase it with the same fervor as our other goals. In this article, I’ve invited four female winners of the Nobel Peace Prize to teach us what they know about peace. From closely observing their lives, we learn how we too can become women of peace.

Women of Peace

There are nine women who have won the Nobel Peace Prize. For the sake of brevity, I’ve only presented four of these award winning women here. They come from various nationalities, religious traditions, and socio-economic statuses. Yet, each of these women distinguished themselves by living a life dedicated to peace. There example encourages others to do the same.

Mother Theresa

Mother Theresa received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Born into an Albanian Roman Catholic family in Yugoslavia, she felt called as a teenager to a life of service to the poor and disenfranchised. At the age of 18 Mother Theresa left her family and country to live a life of service in Calcutta, India. She worked with people who were not of her race, religion or nationality. Mother Theresa committed herself to working with the poorest of the poor. She established a new order, Missionaries of Charity, to do precisely that. Missionaries of Charity soon spread to many other countries. This order mobilizes thousands of people around the world to join Mother Theresa in her mission of peace.

Jane Addams

Jane Addams was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. Jane Addams was born in the suburbs of Chicago to an affluent and privileged family. Addams is known as one of the founding mothers of sociology and social work. Although she considered herself a sociologist, Addams chided the profession of sociology for its elitism and sexism. She advocated a vision of academic knowledge used in the service of society. She wanted sociology to solve some of our world’s most pressing problems, such as poverty and war. Addams was a lead advocate on both these issues.

Addams founded the country’s first settlement house: Hull House. Hull House provided comprehensive community based services to low-income and immigrant families in Chicago. Hull house became the model for social service delivery across the country and around the world. Addams also regularly lectured on peace and the need to end war in this world. She served as the president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom for a decade. Through her teaching, writing, and organizations, Addams embodied the virtue of peace and encouraged others to do the same.

Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991; but she could not be present to accept it because she was imprisoned by the military dictatorship of what is now Burma. Aung San Suu Kyi was imprisoned for her leadership role in a peaceful, non-violent, social movement for the liberation of her nation of Burma. She modeled her life of peace based on the tactics of Gandhi and her father Aung San who was also a leader in the liberation struggle. Aung San Suu Kyi continued their legacy of peace, holding tight to the principles of democracy, respect for human rights, reconciliation between groups, non-violence, and personal and collective discipline.

Rigoberta Menchú Tum

In 1992, The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Rigoberta Menchu Tum “in recognition of her work for social justice and ethnocultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples.” Tum is a Mayan Indian born in Guatemala. Military soldier murdered her mother and brother and burned down the building where her father and his compatriots were gathered in peaceful protest. This pervasive regime of state sanctioned violence led Tum’s remaining sisters to join the guerrilla resistance force. Yet, Tum remained steadfast in her commitment to nonviolent resistance.

Even when personally confronted with such brutal violence, Rigoberta Tum refused to perpetuate that cycle. The chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee describes Tum as “the shining individual examples of people who manage to preserve their humanity in brutal and violent surroundings, of persons who for that very reason compel our special respect and admiration. Such people give us a hope that there are ways out of the vicious circle.”

Recipe for Peace

So what do these women of peace have in common? What do these patterns tell us about the necessary components of peace?

  1. High ideals.

These women shared a unshakable believe that the world should and could be better than it was in the present. They believed in the intrinsic value of human life and worked diligently to preserve that life. It did not matter if the life represented a gender, racial, ethnic, religious, political group different than their own. Their commitment to peace required these women to challenge the social, economic, and political systems threatening the well being and security of others. This shared faith in the value and dignity of humanity comes from a variety of different religious traditions as well as secular humanism. The virtue of peace itself models the common brotherhood and sisterhood of all humanity. It is only once we realize this that we can ever posses peace.

  1. Commitment to Hard Work and Sacrifice.

These women did not have easy lives. Their commitment to peace cost them dearly. Sometimes it costs them their freedom and security. For others it costs them their personal and professional relationships and social standing.  Many of the women who won the Nobel Prize were unable to make it to the presentation ceremony because of exile, imprisonment, or deteriorating health. These women had given their all in the service of others and we continue today to reap the benefits of their labor.

  1. Unrelenting Faith.

These women worked diligently for peace in the face of strong opposition. They did this because they believed that their goal would eventually be realized. Their faith in evident in their clear resolution to struggle against odds, to withstand various disappointments and defeats, and to never to give up. In the Bible, the Apostle Paul writes about this type of faith when he encourages his fellow believes to do all that they can and then to stand. Stand in the confidence that God is standing with you and is working to bring about the peace you seek. Although the women of peace presented here come from various religious traditions, they each demonstrated great, unshakable faith.

  1. Remarkable Courage.

It is precisely that unshakable faith that gave these women the courage to act in such dangerous times. It took great courage for Aung San Suu Kyi and Rigoberta Menchú Tum to stand up to the soldiers who threatened them. It took courage Mother Theresa to commit to living the rest of her life in a foreign land with people who did not share her culture, religion, ethnicity, or social standing. Jane Addams demonstrated great courage in her decision to commit all her talents and resources in solving a problem that most people thought of as “the natural way of things.”

Create Your Legacy as a Woman of Peace

We honor these women of peace because they symbolize the best in us. They are ordinary women who have done extraordinary things. They show us the beautiful and powerful pieces of ourselves that may have been forgotten or overlooked. So how can we use their legacy to help us practice lives of peace?

  1. Express your most beautiful vision of reality.

It does not matter if others agree with or can see your vision. Women of peace have learned how to focus in on their vision of the beauty and dignity of life, in spite of the brutality that surrounds them.  They know that even if others may be living according to such base motivations, there is an underlying reality that is more beautiful and more true. This vision fuels their actions and empowers them to create the world they already see within.

You too possess this creative power. Whatever you focus on will direct your behavior and magnify its presence in your life and in our world. It requires effort to see beauty in the midst of brutality. The fact that others do reminds us that this too is our choice. The lives and legacy of these women of peace show us that this is also the most effective choice. As Dr. Martin Luther King said: “Hate can never drive out hate; only love can do that.”

You have the power to choose your vision. What do you see?

  1. Invest yourself in making your vision a reality.

You do not create the life you seek by merely wishing it. It requires consistent and sustained action. We learn from the lives of these women that peace is not a passive attribute. Peace requires action. We create peace for ourselves and others based on the choices that we make each day.

Many times the choice for peace is the more difficult choice. It is easier to go with the flow and model what everyone else is doing. But everyone else does not have peace. They do not see your vision of life as it can be. Thus, they need you to show what is possible. Our world needs for you to “bring peace” with you so that we can see a better vision of life as it can be.

  1. Hold tight to your faith.

The fact that others don’t already see your vision means that you will need faith to carry it through to reality. Your faith in your vision, yourself, and the righteousness of your cause empowers you to stand in the face of opposition. Whether that faith is grounded in a specific religious tradition, a more general spirituality, or a secular humanism, your faith ensures your victory.

Most people do not believe that peace is possible. I see this in the political discussions of nations eager to go to war. I see our eye for an eye thinking in the street code of violence or public discussions about the death penalty. I see the lack of faith in peace in our tolerance of poverty and injustice. While we might say that we want peace, most of us think of it more like a children’s fairytale or Santa Claus.

But there are some of us who believe in the practical reality of peace. Like these Nobel Peace Prize winners, we know that peace is not just a way, but the only way to ensure our individual and collective well-being and survival.  If you share this faith, guard it dearly. Protect it against the cynicism, fear, and apathy that would try to undermine your vision. Faith is the bullet proof vest that you can use to protect your vision for peace.

  1. Act Courageously.

Courage does not mean fearless. Courage is the ability to act in the face of your fears. Courage empowers you to follow your internal compass when it leads you on a path different from those around you.

These women of peace were also women of courage . There vision of what should be inspired them to act courageously in the face of the world as it was. Their courageous action inspired others to do the same. Your individual actions posses that same power to enact change and to inspire others to do the same.

There’s no need to wait for someone to say or do something about this situation. You are here. Stop waiting, step into your vision, and act courageously. Others will be blessed by your example.

 

I’d love collecting stories of inspirational women; some famous and some unknown. Please share believe your personal role models of peace. You might also like to post quotes or resources that help you to live a life of peace. Thank you for demonstrating the faith, hard work, and courage that it takes to make your vision a reality!

Empower Yourself Through Inspired Action

empower yourself with inspired action

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” Dale Carnegie

Being a person of action is important because it keeps us from being passive participants in life. When we commit to acting upon the world, we help to reshape ourselves and our world through our own efforts. Yet, not all action is equal.It is important to distinguish between fear based action and inspired action. Only inspired action will allow you to create the life your desire.

Fear vs. Inspired Action

These two distinct types of action the produce different results in your life. Fear based action will drain your energy, alienate you from others, and undermine your health. Inspired action will produce the exact opposite effect in your life. It will provide you with more energy, connect you to yourself and others and promote your health and well-being.

So how can you tell which type of action is motivating you? I’ve identified three characteristics to help you distinguish inspired action from fear based action. Pause to ask yourself these questions, before you act. Your answer will reveal to you the true motivation for your behavior. The brief reflection will give you an opportunity to make a choice about the type of action you want in your life.

Characteristics of Inspired Action

  1. Inspired action is purpose driven.

Is this ego-driven or purpose-driven? Are you performing this action because it will make you look good to others or because it is in line with your life purpose? Inspired action is any activity that expresses or advances your life purpose. It is action that you “have to” do because it is an expression of your most authentic self.

This is a question that only you can answer. The same action could be either ego driven or purpose driven. Consider for example, serving food to homeless families in a soup kitchen. That act of generosity could be driven by ego; an attempt to show to others what a good and moral person you are. The same activity could be an expression of your life purpose to eradicate suffering in the world. You are the only person who can answer this question about your behavior. Just remember to be honest and to use this question to reflect on all your actions, even the seemingly “noble” ones.

  1. Inspired action is motivated by love.

Is this motivated by fear or by love? This is a question, that only you can answer. Inspired action is always motivated by love. Dr. Martinez’s research reveals that emotions are bio-cognitive fields that can either be healing or destructive to our physical and emotional health. This means that the emotion motivating your action alters your physical and psychological state. Research on social intelligence helps us understand how these subtle emotional states are communicated to others with whom we interact.

Much like how we “catch colds” from interacting with others who have a particular bacteria or virus, we can “catch” emotions in the same manner. Emotions shape our cognitive understanding of the world and our physical health. Thus, it’s very important that we maintain our own emotional health so we don’t negatively impact others with our dis-ease.

Dr. Martinez argues that fear and love are mutually exclusive bio-cognitive states. Fear always produces damage to the immune system and love always repairs the damage and restores healthy functioning. So, the question of the emotion motivating our action, is not an esoteric one. Rather, the emotion motivating our action shapes our well-being and the well-being of those with whom we interact.

  1. Inspired action benefits self and others.

Will this action only benefit myself or will it benefit others as well? Inspired action is action that benefits ourselves as well as others. We do not need to see the world as mutually exclusive choice between our well-being and the well-being of others. Inspired action allows us to see how we can contribute to our own well-being and happiness by actions that benefit others. Happiness research reveals that activities which focus on doing good for others not only makes us happier, but makes us healthier as well. Researchers at UCLA distinguished between two types of happiness: happiness resulting from a deep sense of purpose and meaning in life and happiness focused only on pleasure seeking and self-gratification.  In their report to the National Academy of Sciences, they found that happiness resulting from a deep sense of purpose and meaning in life promotes the gene expression of anti-viral and antibody genes. Happiness focused only on self-gratification had the opposite effect, suppressing the health of the immune system.

Self-empowerment and Inspired Action

An important part of empowering yourself is taking the time to pause and reflect on what is important to you. As you become more clear on your life purpose and core values, you are able to evaluate your activities in light of this focus. Inspired action expresses your life purpose, is motivated by love, and places you in the service of others. This type of action strengthens your sense of meaning and feelings of connection in the world. These attributes are empirically proven to improve both your physical health and your happiness.

Inspired action is much like the Tao concept of “effortless action” (non-action). The process of being and flowing from one action to the next effortlessly, rather than imposing conscious action. Based on knowing yourself. It feels like you’re not doing anything except showing up and being who you are.

This is how inspired action puts you in your flow. You are no longer “making” yourself do things, you are simply “being”. That is more than enough. Your authentic presence brings the gifts of love, purpose, and healing to both you and others.

Inspired action is a choice. It is a choice that is always available to you at the moment you decide to act. Give yourself and our world the gift of your inspired action. Create a life that produces happiness and healing through your inspired action. Start today.

Share your moments of inspired action in the comment box below. How have you showed up and shared your authentic self with the world today? I am proud of your courageous commitment to be uniquely you and to share the gift of you with our world. Thank you!

Standard Post With Shortcode Goodies

With several dozen of the best looking Shortcodes around, we wanted to give you a sample of the many high-end Shortcodes built into X. We’ve grouped some together so this isn’t a super long post, however for a complete list with demos and examples of each, be sure to head over to our Shortcodes page.

[custom_headline type=”left” style=”margin-top: 45px;” level=”h2″ looks_like=”h5″ accent=”true”]Image Frame, Tooltips, Popovers & 3D Button [/custom_headline] [image src=”/media/x-popover-tooltip-example.jpg” float=”left” type=”thumbnail” link=”true” href=”#example” alt=”Example” title=”Check Me Out!” info=”tooltip” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover”] Vivamus sagittis lacus vel augue laoreet rutrum faucibus dolor auctor. Vivamus sagittis lacus vel augue laoreet rutrum faucibus dolor auctor. [extra href=”#example” target=”_blank” info=”tooltip” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” title=”Yeah, tooltip time!”]Donec sed[/extra] odio dui. Maecenas faucibus mollis interdum. [extra href=”#example” target=”_blank” info=”tooltip” info_place=”right” info_trigger=”hover” title=”Yeah, tooltip time!”]Cras justo odio[/extra], dapibus ac facilisis in, egestas eget quam. Etiam porta sem malesuada magna mollis euismod. Integer posuere erat a ante venenatis dapibus posuere velit aliquet. [extra href=”#example” target=”_blank” info=”tooltip” info_place=”left” info_trigger=”hover” title=”Yeah, tooltip time!”]Curabitur blandit[/extra] tempus porttitor. Aenean eu leo quam. Pellentesque ornare sem lacinia quam venenatis vestibulum. Cras mattis consectetur purus sit amet fermentum. [extra href=”#example” target=”_blank” info=”tooltip” info_place=”bottom” info_trigger=”hover” title=”Yeah, tooltip time!”]Cum sociis[/extra] natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Integer posuere erat a ante venenatis dapibus posuere velit aliquet.

[button style=”margin-bottom: 1.313em;” href=”#example” title=”I told you so!” circle=”true” info=”tooltip” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” block=”true”]You Can Even Add Popovers and Tooltips to Me![/button] [image src=”/media/x-popover-tooltip-example.jpg” float=”right” type=”thumbnail” link=”true” href=”#example” alt=”Example” title=”Check Me Out!” info=”popover” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=”Enter in some more information here.”] Vivamus sagittis lacus vel augue laoreet rutrum faucibus dolor auctor. Vivamus sagittis lacus vel augue laoreet rutrum faucib Lacus vel augue laoreet rutrum faucibus dolor auctor. Vivamus sagittis lacus [extra href=”#example” target=”_blank” info=”popover” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=”Place a little extra content in here for informational purposes.” title=”Yeah, popover time!”]vel augue[/extra] laoreet rutrum faucibus dolor auctor. Donec sed odio dui. Maecenas faucibus mollis interdum. Cras justo odio, dapibus ac facilisis in, [extra href=”#example” target=”_blank” info=”popover” info_place=”right” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=”Place a little extra content in here for informational purposes.” title=”Yeah, popover time!”]egestas eget quam[/extra]. Etiam porta sem malesuada magna mollis euismod. Integer posuere erat a ante venenatis dapibus posuere velit aliquet. [extra href=”#example” target=”_blank” info=”popover” info_place=”left” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=”Place a little extra content in here for informational purposes.” title=”Yeah, popover time!”]Curabitur blandit[/extra] tempus porttitor. Aenean eu leo quam. Pellentesque ornare sem lacinia quam venenatis vestibulum. Cras mattis consectetur purus sit amet fermentum. [extra href=”#example” target=”_blank” info=”popover” info_place=”bottom” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=”Place a little extra content in here for informational purposes.” title=”Yeah, popover time!”]Cum sociis[/extra] natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Integer posuere erat a ante venenatis dapibus posuere.

[custom_headline type=”left” style=”margin-top: 45px;” level=”h2″ looks_like=”h5″ accent=”true”]Table of Contents & Icon List[/custom_headline] [toc type=”left”] [toc_item title=”1. Introduction” page=”1″] [toc_item title=”2. More Information” page=”2″] [toc_item title=”3. Even More Information” page=”3″] [/toc]

The Table of Contents shortcode available in X offers up some incredible SEO benefits to your standard posts and pages. It’s easy enough to paginate individual posts or pages in WordPress using the <!--nextpage--> code in the editor, but it doesn’t provide any real engaging way for your visitors to know what they’re in for as they click through to the next post. That’s where the Table of Contents shortcode comes in.

Simply add this to each of your “pages” after your <!--nextpage--> breaks and input the titles of each section in your article. What you’re left with is a thoroughly engaging, easy to navigate post structure that has been proven to increase visitor retention and keep their attention (all things Google loves).

You can easily add the Table of Contents shortcode to the left or right of your post content, or have it go full width, which is great for placing at the bottom of your posts to remind visitors of what sections are left. Click through on the table of contents shortcode above to go through to the next page and see the shortcode in action!

[icon_list] [icon_list_item type=”chevron-sign-right”]This[/icon_list_item] [icon_list_item type=”chevron-sign-right”]is[/icon_list_item] [icon_list_item type=”chevron-sign-right”]a[/icon_list_item] [icon_list_item type=”chevron-sign-right”]icon[/icon_list_item] [icon_list_item type=”chevron-sign-right”]list[/icon_list_item] [icon_list_item type=”chevron-sign-right”]Chose from over 300 icons. [/icon_list_item] [/icon_list] [custom_headline type=”left” style=”margin-top: 45px;” level=”h2″ looks_like=”h5″ accent=”true”]Responsive Visibility, Pricing Tables, Content Bands, & Entry Share[/custom_headline]

With responsive visibility, you can easily show or hide various pieces of information with different groups of visitors viewing your site on a wide array of devices. Want to put a video on desktop but only text on tablet and mobile? No problem. Go ahead and resize your browser window to see how different messages are displayed below for different screen sizes (Note: We also used another one of our Shortcodes, Responsive Video, to make the video look great and respond for the desktop message).

[visibility type=”visible-desktop”] [alert type=”muted” heading=”Desktop Message”]I’m only for the larger screens. Since there’s more room, I can take a little more space. Resize me!
[gap size=”1em”] [x_video style=”margin-bottom: 0;” embed=’‘][/alert] [/visibility] [visibility type=”visible-tablet”] [alert type=”muted” heading=”Tablet Message”]I’m only for the medium sized screens. There a little less room here, so try and shorten things up a bit, but don’t worry, you don’t have to fret too much over the length of your message just yet.[/alert] [/visibility] [visibility type=”visible-phone”] [alert type=”muted” heading=”Phone Message”]I’m only for the smallest screens. Try and keep things short and sweet here.[/alert] [/visibility] [gap size=”40px”] [pricing_table columns=”3″][pricing_table_column title=”Basic” currency=”$” price=”39″ interval=”Per Month”][icon_list][icon_list_item type=”ok”]All Themes[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”ok”]All Plugins[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”ok”]PSDs[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”remove” style=”color: red;”]HTML Templates[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”remove” style=”color: red;”]24/7 Support[/icon_list_item][/icon_list][button shape=”rounded” href=”#example” title=”Example”]Sign Up Today![/button] [/pricing_table_column][pricing_table_column featured=”true” featured_sub=”Featured” title=”Plus” currency=”$” price=”59″ interval=”Per Month”][icon_list][icon_list_item type=”ok”]All Themes[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”ok”]All Plugins[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”ok”]PSDs[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”ok”]HTML Templates[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”remove” style=”color: red;”]24/7 Support[/icon_list_item][/icon_list][button shape=”rounded” size=”x-large” href=”#example” title=”Example”]Sign Up Today![/button] [/pricing_table_column][pricing_table_column title=”Premium” currency=”$” price=”89″ interval=”Per Month”][icon_list][icon_list_item type=”ok”]All Themes[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”ok”]All Plugins[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”ok”]PSDs[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”ok”]HTML Templates[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”ok”]24/7 Support[/icon_list_item][/icon_list][button shape=”rounded” href=”#example” title=”Example”]Sign Up Today![/button] [/pricing_table_column][/pricing_table] [gap size=”40px”] [content_band style=”color: #333;” bg_color=”#ffddea” border=”both”][container][custom_headline style=”margin-top: 0;” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h3″]Cool Headline[/custom_headline]

Great for a call to action or important information, these Content Bands will help you be truly creative with how your content is presented.

[/container][/content_band] [content_band bg_pattern=”/media/x-bg-maze.png” border=”both”][container][custom_headline style=”margin-top: 0;” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h3″]Cool Headline[/custom_headline]

Great for a call to action or important information, these Content Bands will help you be truly creative with how your content is presented.

[/container][/content_band] [content_band style=”color: #fff;” bg_image=”/media/x-bg-flowers.jpg” border=”both”][container][custom_headline style=”margin-top: 0; color: #fff;” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h3″]Cool Headline[/custom_headline]

Great for a call to action or important information, these Content Bands will help you be truly creative with how your content is presented.

[/container][/content_band] [share facebook=”true” twitter=”true” google_plus=”true” pinterest=”true” reddit=”true” email=”true”] [custom_headline type=”left” style=”margin-top: 45px;” level=”h2″ looks_like=”h5″ accent=”true”]Over Three Dozen Shortcodes Included When You Buy X Today[/custom_headline]

While just a sample, hopefully this give you a small window into how we think about Shortcodes. Instead of just creating the basic ones (which we did and you have access to them as well), we wanted to take it a step further by providing some really useful business and marketing oriented solutions like Table of Contents and Responsive Visibility. As a customer of X, you not only get instant access to our entire Shortcode library, you’ll also have access to all future Shortcodes we develop for future releases.

Standard Post With No Featured Image

Sometimes you just want to type. No messing with images. Here’s what a post would look like with no featured image. Sometimes you just want to type. No messing with images. Here’s what a post would look like with no featured image. Sometimes you just want to type. No messing with images. Here’s what a post would look like with no featured image.

Sometimes you just want to type. No messing with images. Here’s what a post would look like with no featured image. Sometimes you just want to type. No messing with images. Here’s what a post would look like with no featured image. Sometimes you just want to type. No messing with images. Here’s what a post would look like with no featured image.

It was the most amazing WordPress theme I had ever seen. Such beauty. Such grace. Such elegance. She was everything I never knew I wanted and so much more. My beloved X will be with me always.

Mr. WordPress

Sometimes you just want to type. No messing with images. Here’s what a post would look like with no featured image. Sometimes you just want to type. No messing with images. Here’s what a post would look like with no featured image. Sometimes you just want to type. No messing with images. Here’s what a post would look like with no featured image.

Sometimes you just want to type. No messing with images. Here’s what a post would look like with no featured image. Sometimes you just want to type. No messing with images. Here’s what a post would look like with no featured image. Sometimes you just want to type. No messing with images. Here’s what a post would look like with no featured image.

Sometimes you just want to type. No messing with images. Here’s what a post would look like with no featured image. Sometimes you just want to type. No messing with images. Here’s what a post would look like with no featured image. Sometimes you just want to type. No messing with images. Here’s what a post would look like with no featured image.

[blockquote cite=”Mr. WordPress” type=”left, center, right”]It was the most amazing WordPress theme I had ever seen. Such beauty. Such grace. Such elegance. She was everything I never knew I wanted and so much more. My beloved X will be with me always.[/blockquote]

Sometimes you just want to type. No messing with images. Here’s what a post would look like with no featured image. Sometimes you just want to type. No messing with images. Here’s what a post would look like with no featured image. Sometimes you just want to type. No messing with images. Here’s what a post would look like with no featured image.

Sometimes you just want to type. No messing with images. Here’s what a post would look like with no featured image. Sometimes you just want to type. No messing with images. Here’s what a post would look like with no featured image. Sometimes you just want to type. No messing with images. Here’s what a post would look like with no featured image.

Sometimes you just want to type. No messing with images. Here’s what a post would look like with no featured image. Sometimes you just want to type. No messing with images. Here’s what a post would look like with no featured image. Sometimes you just want to type. No messing with images. Here’s what a post would look like with no featured image.

This is a demo store for testing purposes — no orders shall be fulfilled. Dismiss