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The Art of Simplifying

Photo by Gala Darling

We live in a society where our worth seems to be validated by how large our network is; how often our Blackberry goes off; how worldly we are from our travels; or how many awesome Facebook pictures there are of us, proving to our friends we live the good life. Not to mention, as we grow older and wiser, there is a constant learning curve on how to gracefully handle evolving responsibility.

So, we resort to multi-tasking. A term I’m all too familiar with:

For the past three years, I’ve adopted wearing several outfits: the Corporate Banker, the weekend Real Estate Agent, the closet writer, the Board Member, the six days a week fitness guru, the overly helpful sister/mentor, the “wherever there was time” Nutrition Coach, the social planner… The exhausting list can be rattled on, but these were my staple outfits.

Becoming a Millionaire

Photo by Edwin Stemp. Follow him on Flickr.
Editor’s Note

This article was extracted from the TSN Insider Newsletter.

A few weeks ago, I was standing in line at the grocery store to do some customer returns from my son’s birthday party. The customer service counter at the chain store is also the place where people buy lottery tickets, rent DVDs, buy cigarettes, rent carpet cleaners, along with costumer returns.

There were a dozen people standing in line. Since we were all waiting, in order to kill time, we all tilted our heads to watch the person at the front of the line.

The guy at the front of the line was buying lottery tickets. While making conversation with the person behind him, “All it takes is one ticket.” His face beaming as he continued, “… and then you’ll be a millionaire.

His eyes sparkled as he said that with absolute conviction that this could be his lucky week, and then he would be “set” for life. He completed his routine transaction of purchasing his lotto ticket and walked away. I wondered how long he’s been buying lottery tickets, week after week, with an undying dream of getting that golden ticket – becoming a millionaire.

Being Present

Editor’s Note

This article was extracted from the daily emails.

Monday, last week was a crazy ride of a day. First, it was my son’s one year old birthday, and we were planning a big party – 24 adults and 8 babies. Second, we were notified that we’d won the Good Mood Gig contest!

The day consisted of a lot of running around, last minute shopping, cooking for over twenty people, writing the announcement blog post, and taking part in the excitement on facebook. I don’t think I ate anything all day until 9pm.

The party was a success, people looked like they had a good time. We had loads of food, helium balloons, and a lot of red wine to keep many of the adults happy. Ryan was properly dressed in a suit vest with a red tie, and brown dress pants.

I ran around, making sure the food was all laid out, that people got drinks, and that everyone had their photo taken in our makeshift portrait studio we had temporarily setup in the garage (Photos from the party can be seen here).

Finding Miracles

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. ~Charles R. Swindoll

Three days ago our family dog Blackie went missing (pictured on the right in photo above, taken in 2008).

It’s not the first time our dogs have gotten out from the yard – it happens from time to time. Each time it has happened in the past, someone would call and return him to our home – after all, we live in a safe, family-centric neighborhood. This time, someone did call, but they never returned him home.

We tried phoning back the person who called us, but each time, the person would either hang up on us, or not pick up the phone.

If you’ve been following our journey over the past few years, you may remember Blackie as the puppy we found on the streets of Beijing, China from 2008, whom we later immigrated to the USA. His story is a heartwarming one. We love him, and we miss his little black-and-white butt.

You may not be a dog person, but you can probably relate with the feeling of losing something or someone, and the frustration that arises with that.

The Cab Ride I’ll Never Forget

Photo by Mike Bailey Gates (Talented 17 year old rising star in photography)
Editor’s Note

I have got an extraordinary gift for you today - in the form of a story written by the awe-inspiring Kent Nerburn. Enjoy and share it with others if the story touched your heart like it did mine.

We may not all live holy lives, but we live in a world alive with holy moments. ~Kent Nerburn

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living.

It was a cowboy’s life, a life for someone who wanted no boss.

What I didn’t realize was that it was also a ministry.

Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a moving confessional. Passengers climbed in, sat behind me in total anonymity, and told me about their lives. I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, and made me laugh and weep.

But none touched me more than a woman I picked up late one August night. I was responding to a call from a small brick fourplex in a quiet part of town. I assumed I was being sent to pick up some partyers, or someone who had just had a fight with a lover, or a worker heading to an early shift at some factory for the industrial part of town.

Software I Love

Editor’s Note

This is a compensated review for BlogHer and Intel.

I’m a tech geek. Not enormously so, just enough that I take full advantage of technology, and end up getting most things done on my computer– anything from organizing my to-dos, doing finances (both personal and business), finding recipes, buying diapers, running my businesses, to even buying groceries.

Running several businesses on one (not so) little laptop has been the story of my life for the past few years. These days, with the addition of a very active and curious 10 months old baby, being productive and efficient while I have time on the computer has become increasingly important (try ignoring a crawling baby with four teeth for 5 minutes, and he’ll make sure to get your attention – with his teeth on your knee.).

The Simplest Productivity System

Photo by Simon Pais (Used with permission)
Editor’s Note

This is a compensated review for BlogHer and Intel.

For the past few months, I’ve been catching myself constantly mumbling “I’m busy”. And it’s true. I’m a mom, I operate this lovely personal happiness blog called Think Simple Now, and I run a weddin photography business. All of that mixed in one bowl can be a messy combination if not stirred correctly.

In this article, I will detail some simple productivity tips I use in my busy life that seem to work well for me. It’s so simple, you’ll likely think, “That’s it?” to which I’ll respond with, “You came to Think Simple Now, not Think Complicated Now.”

Positive Attitude – 5 Steps to a Happy Life

Photo by Aeschleah DeMartino

We all want a happy life, and we all know that having a positive attitude feels better than a negative one. But for some reason, we are all attracted to and can be easily drawn to the negative side. How do we go about to establish a more positive attitude as a daily habit?

Even for someone like me, who thinks about and writes about positivity on an almost daily basis, having a positive attitude is not always easy.

I still sometimes see the world through a negative perspective, focusing on the bad and ignoring the good — especially when things aren’t going the way I had hoped. As I’ve been struggling with this lately, I’ve been reminding myself that it really is possible to change my perspective.

About a year and a half ago, I decided I was going to make a change in my life. I was going to start looking for the good, seeking the positive, and striving to make every day a joyful experience.

Overcoming Fear

Photo by g2slp of Mirei Kiritani

Overcoming fear doesn’t happen instantly or automatically. It is the result of deliberate intention, and conscious action towards doing things that scares you. As a result of overcoming your fears, you grow as a person, and expand the possibilities that surround your life.

Do you recall the last time you wanted to do something so intensely but fear got in your way? We all have those moments when we are enthralled with an idea only to have fear prevent us from moving forward. What can we do to overcome fear from paralyzing us from moving forward with our dreams and desires?

I have always found it interesting how the concept of playing it safe makes many people choose being miserable over being happy.

The interesting thing about the human condition is that the minute we experience pain, we never want to experience it again. So as a result, we do things that we feel will ensure that we do not get hurt. In fact, we will go to further extend to avoid pain than we are to gain pleasure.

How to Take Criticism

Photo of Gala Darling by Chloe
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. ~Winston Churchill

Criticism is crucial for personal improvement. It’s the most direct way to find out what you should improve on. However, accepting criticism can be emotionally challenging. Afterall, we’re only human, who wants to hear bad stuff about ourselves?

It’s hard to not take it personally. Our instinctive reaction is to become defensive and we shut out potentially helpful and life-enhancing tips. By doing this, we miss out on what could supercharge our improvement.

So how can you take criticism without getting self-conscious and defensive?

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