Friday, July 31, 2009

Improve Your Luck

By Janice Taylor

Luck is thought to happen by chance; it’s not thought to be something you can plan for or obtain by intention. Some say luck is decided by our fates, or believe that some fortunate souls are mysteriously born under a lucky star.

At quick glance, it might look like there is truth to that. After all, some people’s lives overflow with abundance, vitality, successful careers, and loving relationships.

However, luck is not just a random event. Webster’s Dictionary defines luck as “a force that brings good fortune or adversity; a force that operates for or against an individual.” So, if luck is a force, you should be able to tap into it … at any time!

After a great deal of research and experimentation, I am here to tell you that there are ways in which you can tap into positive force and improve your luck. Indeed, luck is the product of our own mental focus and attitudes. Imagine now that by changing your focus, you can intentionally increase the amount of luck you experience in all areas of life.

Tune in to Your Gut

Ways to Improve Your Luck Nearly all of the lucky people I’ve met said they trust their intuition and pay close attention to their gut feelings. A good way to increase your ability to "hear" your gut is to empty your mind. Meditation is one way to effectively clear your mind and tune in to your gut. After all, it’s difficult to hear your intuitive self when your mind is overflowing with thoughts and to-do lists.

Face Your Fears

Ways to Improve Your Luck The only way to get beyond a fear is to march straight through it. Otherwise, you will either create a terribly long, circuitous route around it, or you will let your fear totally block your life path. If you hide from your fears, you are hiding from new opportunity that might be waiting for you. So stare down your fears and get back to your life.

Expect the Best

Ways to Improve Your Luck It’s called the Pygmalion Effect: you get what you expect, and lucky people expect the best. They are certain that their future is going to be full of good fortune. And these expectations become self-fulfilling prophecies. Ask around and you’ll find that “lucky” and “unlucky” people have astoundingly different expectations.

Chant to Change Your Karma

Ways to Improve Your Luck You can open yourself up to the forces of positive luck by chanting a mantra. A mantra is a religious or mystical syllable, poem, word, or series of words that is chanted either aloud or silently. When chanted, mantras become vibrations that establish deep concentration in the chanting person. Chanting is, in one sense, the most ancient method of using affirmations to bring about changes in your life.

Be Curious

Ways to Improve Your Luck The more curious you are, the more available you will be to possibility and the "luckier" you will become. Open your eyes, look around, and ask questions. Assume nothing! Curiosity will lead you down roads that you might not otherwise have traveled. You just never know how you might bump into, what opportunity might present itself, or what positive change you will affect through your creative and curious mind.

Take Baby Steps

Ways to Improve Your Luck Success does not happen overnight. In truth, it takes a lot of work to move forward, and it can sometimes feel overwhelming. The best and most effective way to accomplish what you want, to stay open to the lucky forces of the universe, is to take your dreams one small baby step at a time.

Try It: Who Knows What Might Happen!

Ways to Improve Your Luck Two of the best ways to "be lucky" are to be willing to take calculated risks and to embrace unexpected opportunities. Try new things. Go new places. Don’t just do the things for which you know the eventual outcome. Stretch yourself. Go outside your comfort zone!

Visualize the Lucky You

Ways to Improve Your Luck See yourself as a lucky person, someone who simply gets what they want. Visualize that your soul’s windows are open, fresh air is pouring in, and with it the positive energy of the universe. See yourself in detail. Experience the feelings of a "lucky" person. Take in every detail.

Stay Motivated

Ways to Improve Your Luck To get and stay lucky, you need to live from a place of motivation. You’ll want to hang out with people who are on similar upward spiral tracks. Read books that inspire. (might I humbly suggest, All is Forgiven, Move On by Janice Taylor, it's a great one!)

Giving Up is Not an Option

Ways to Improve Your Luck Fact: the luckiest and most successful people are the ones who have failed over and over and over again, but did not give up. No, they learned from their failures; filed them away as "feedback," and then they forged ahead. "Unlucky" people write themselves off. "Lucky" people keep on going!

Ask for What You Want

Ways to Improve Your Luck It’s no accident that those who are lucky and get what they want, actually ask for it! Trust your desires and make requests without apology. Go for it! And if your request is turned down, consider the answer to be a temporary "no." It’s okay to ask for what you want again, later, at a different time.

Clear the Clutter

Ways to Improve Your Luck Clutter can be anything that you no longer use, need, like, love, or appreciate. Clear it out of your path. I suspect that we all have too many possessions, unhealthy habits, antiquated beliefs, and old emotions that drain us. It is energizing, invigorating, and healing to free ourselves of clutter. Clear the way and invite good luck in!

And When All Else Fails...

Ways to Improve Your Luck Get yourself a good luck charm; I highly recommend authentic four-leaf clover. Or... Step in a shadow! Or... Place sugar in your cup before the teabag. And last, but finally not least, for those of you who are willing to take risks and go out on a limb, wear your clothing inside-out. All these superstitions are guaranteed to improve your luck – as well as receive attention and some stares from onlookers, for sure!

By Janice Taylor

Family Values: How Kids Learn Patience

teaching patience - boy measuring height

Teaching Kids to Have Patience

"Wait your turn." "Wait 'til you're bigger." We often ask kids to be patient, but developing this value takes time. Patience is the ability to endure a difficult situation without complaining. It means showing self-control and staying calm in the face of frustration or boredom. When you're patient, you understand that some things are worth waiting for. But patience isn’t only passive waiting--it means persevering when things get tough. Adults as well as kids often get frustrated if they don’t see immediate results. But at any age it's important to wait for the right time to speak or act.

teaching patience - boy learning to tell time

Talk About Time

Remember how long five minutes seemed when you were little? Kids start out with no concept of time, so telling them that "Dinner will be ready in five minutes" is meaningless. Start by talking about the sequence of activities--“First we'll go to the park. Then we'll have lunch. Then it will be time to play with your friends." You can also make time concrete by checking off each day on a calendar leading up to a special event. Around school age, when children learn to tell time, they often begin to show greater patience. Wearing a watch helps them monitor the time and achieve a sense of control.

teaching patience - girl playing chess

Play Waiting Games

You can help kids learn to wait by suggesting something fun to pass the time, like drawing, singing, or pretending their stuffed animals are waiting too. Playing games that build patience, like puzzles or chess for older kids, helps children learn to deal with frustration.

teaching patience - girl making a wish list

Make a Wish List

When your child has a bad case of the “gimmes” and demands a toy right away, acknowledge the wish (“You wish you could have that toy right now”). Have your child add it to a “wish list” of presents he or she might receive at the next birthday or gift-giving holiday. The simple act of writing down (or drawing or cutting out a magazine picture of the present) gives your child control and increases patience.

teaching patience - child watching a plant grow

Take a Leaf from Nature

Nature provides many examples of the rewards of patience. Plants and trees take time to grow--they cannot be rushed. Let your children help you plant a garden or grow flowers in a pot. You can show your child how nurturing plants with water, plant food, and sunlight will allow them to blossom when the time is right.

Teaching Patience - teens shopping

Teach Impulse Control

It’s important to help your child control his or her impulses and learn to wait. If your child wants something, like a new sweater or pierced ears, don’t rush to provide it or agree to it. Wait a set period of time to help the child assess whether this is something he or she really wants.

Talking to kids about the economy, boy with piggy bank

Encourage Perseverance

Give kids an allowance and encourage them to save up for something big. This will help them develop the patience to plan and wait for a significant item. When your children get impatient over homework, show them how to break big projects down into smaller component parts. This will help them persevere and build good work habits.

teaching patience - frustrated kid

Calm Frustration

Create a quiet, comfortable “calm down” spot in your home with no distractions. Encourage your kids to spend some quiet time there when they feel stressed or frustrated. Teach your children techniques that calm frustration, such as taking five deep breaths, using words to describe their feelings (“I feel frustrated,” “I feel tired of waiting”), and saying positive messages to themselves silently, such as “Calm down,” “Stay in control,” and “I can wait.”

teaching patience - traffic jam

Be Slow to Anger

Model adult forms of patience by not honking (or cursing) when stuck in traffic. If you’re in a situation where you’re waiting for a long time (in a doctor’s office, at a restaurant), speak up politely rather than get angry. Kids are watching and learning.

teaching patience - graduate with diploma

Stress Long-Term Rewards

Share with your kids the ways in which you’re saving to pay for their education, and have them join you in putting away money for college. Help them recognize that patience and perseverance--when combined with well-timed action--can bring long-term rewards.


Family Values: How to Teach Kids Empathy

How to Teach Empathy to Kids

Empathy is the quality that underlies love, caring, and compassion. When you empathize with people, you’re able to put yourself in their place and recognize them as human beings with feelings just like you. You notice when they’re sad or hurt, and you might offer your help--or simply say a kind word. Empathy is the foundation of the Golden Rule--“Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.” Although a capacity for empathy is innate, parents can help it flourish.

Respond to Your Child's Needs

Early signs of empathy are apparent at birth. Newborns cry when they hear another infant crying, and very young babies imitate and react to the facial expressions of others. Parents are essential to taking the process further. Every time a parent responds lovingly to a baby’s needs, new neural connections are made, which associate good feelings with parental care and form the basis of the ability to love and empathize. When kids are older, even with teenagers, simply listening to their problems and acknowledging their emotions lets them know they’re loved.

Name That Feeling

To help your child become conscious of his own feelings and recognize emotions in others, identify feelings in words. Start with adjectives like “happy,” “sad, “mad,” and “surprised.” Later, expand your child's "feelings" vocabulary to include more subtle words like "disappointed," "hurt," and "proud." Play a game called "feeling faces," in which you make a face, point at yourself, and name the feeling you are trying to convey. Draw simple pictures with these expressions as well, or use placemats or cards (you can buy them online) that teach emotional intelligence.

Make Someone Happy

Empathetic kids are not only conscious of others’ feelings--they can also learn to see themselves as capable of doing something to alleviate others' suffering. Praise your child when he shows concern for or comforts another child. Point out their friends’ feelings and suggest how they could help in some way. For instance, you might say, "Look at Tanya's face. See how sad she is? Can you think of anything that would help her feel better?" Let them know that being a good listener is also a way to help, even if they can’t do anything.

Be Forgiving

Try not to overreact with harsh words or punishment if your child does something wrong or hurts you without meaning to. By all means, show your child how to make amends, but be forgiving of mistakes. We all make them. Show your child that he or she is loved and valued. Kindness, empathy, and love grow from appreciation and respect, and in turn create more of both.

Walk a Mile in Someone's Shoes

As children learn to take a friend's perspective, they are able to tailor their help to the other person's needs and to manage some of the requirements of true friendship--mutual trust and keeping commitments, for instance. They realize that the causes and cures of sad feelings can be complex. Subtle slights, such as sitting with someone else at lunch, can hurt a friend's feelings. Suggest that kids put themselves in another's place when figuring out what might make the other child feel better. Explain the unseen reasons why a child or sibling might be upset. "Sam's game was cancelled, and now he's disappointed." Empathy is what connects us to other people.

Try not to Compare

Ours is an achievement-oriented culture, and we tend to focus more on grades and sports victories than on the value of empathy. Instead of mostly emphasizing competition-- "Who’s the smartest kid in your class?”--you might compliment your child on an act of kindness. You could say, for instance, "I liked how you shared your snack with Jake." In competitive situations, show your child how to be a good winner. Practice words that make the loser feel better, e.g. "Good game! Maybe you'll win next time."

Model Empathy

Be a kind person yourself. When your child sees you caring about others--going out of your way to visit a sick friend, making a meal for a new family on the block, doing chores for an elderly neighbor, or helping people in need--he will see this as the right way to live. Eventually children learn the grown-up lesson that "Loving kindness is twice blessed; it blesses him who gives and him who receives."

Treat Yourself Compassionately

Empathetic people can sometimes be so sensitive to others’ feelings that they judge themselves harshly if they can’t fill everyone’s need. Don’t forget to treat yourself with the kindness that you show other people. Tune into your own feelings, and don’t be hard on yourself when you can’t make everyone happy. Empathy includes self-forgiveness, and children learn it from you.


Family Values: How to Teach Responsibility

Teaching Responsibility, kids washing the dogs

How to Raise Responsible Kids

Responsibility means doing what needs to be done to take care of yourself, your family, your friends, and the greater community. Being responsible means that others can rely on you, that you follow through on your promises.

Kids need to learn that acting responsibly might involve doing something difficult--like studying for a test or giving up social plans in favor of helping the family. Responsibility can also take moral strength--such as saying no to drugs. Here are some ways parents can teach their children to act responsibly and do the right thing.

Teaching Responsibility, dad giving his child breakfast

Be Dependable

Children learn trust from having parents who are trustworthy. When kids are nurtured well and consistently, they develop a sense of basic trust and security. So if you say you’re coming home for dinner, do your best to be there. When you make a promise, try to fulfill it. If unexpected events keep you from following up, explain why honestly and simply. This provides a good model as children learn to take responsibility for their own actions.

Teaching Responsibility, self-care skills, girl brushing teeth

Teach Kids Self-Care

Let children start to take responsibility for themselves in small ways, then graduate to bigger ones. For instance, encourage young kids brush their teeth or dress themselves in the morning, even though you can do it faster. Give them self-care tasks like putting their toys away and making their own beds (you could put these on a chart), then compliment them on how responsible they are. They’ll start to see themselves as capable and competent--which leads to a strong self-image and the desire to do more on their own.

Teaching Responsibility, boy learning to do laundry

Give Kids a Role in the Family

Let kids know that their contribution helps the family. Little by little, give your child chores that he or she is responsible for. Start with easy things, like setting the table and feeding pets. As time goes on, kids can move on to vacuuming a room and doing laundry. They might even help plan a family trip and do internet research on activities and places to stay. Whatever they do, praise children for being responsible and let them know what they do is valued.

Teaching Responsibility, kids learning to get organized

Help Them Get Organized

One of the hardest skills to learn is how to balance competing responsibilities. Even adults have trouble with this. Between homework , chores, afterschool sports, and other responsibilities, kids may get overwhelmed or simply forget what they were supposed to do. Teach basic organization skills. For instance, have kids make a “to do” list with due dates and a general idea of how long each task will take.

Make a rule about “homework first, TV after.” Kids need to set daily goals and break long-term projects into chunks. If they get in the habit of checking their “to do” list or calendar each day and looking ahead , it will keep things from falling off their radar.

Teaching Responsibility, boy having a meltdown

Be Patient

Hard work and persistence are key elements of responsible behavior. But it takes time for these qualities to grow. Kids need practice so they can build responsible habits, learn from mistakes, and develop a sense of ownership that lets them acknowledge, “Yes, this is my responsibility.” If your child is juggling many responsibilities, take the time to talk them through. He or she might need some specific help or just may need to vent. Learning to delay gratification--meeting obligations even when you’re not in the mood--may be the hardest lesson for kids to learn.

Teaching Responsibility, teen babysitting young child

Enlarge Their Scope

As they grow, children start to grasp that they have responsibilities to groups beyond themselves--to their family, school, community, team, and house of worship. Increasingly, they can be asked to take responsibility for others in the family--which may mean walking a younger child to her classroom or babysitting younger siblings when they're mature enough. If they've made a commitment to volunteer for something, take their responsibility seriously and stress your pride in seeing them follow through.

Teaching Responsibility, bad grade

Cope with Irresponsible Behavior

Irresponsible behavior often brings natural consequences--doing a poor job on homework results in a lower grade, parking illegally may cost you a ticket, and so on. In such cases, don’t bail kids out of their responsibilities--insist they make good on the homework or pay for the ticket themselves. Focus on how they can do better next time. If they’ve broken a rule, tell them, “We need to find a way for you to earn back our trust.” Link privileges to responsibilities. For example, if a child wants to go to the mall with friends, he or she needs to finish chores first.

Teaching Responsibility, girl saving allowance

Prepare Them for Independence

One of our most important jobs as parents is to prepare our children to cope with life outside the home. Teach your child basic life skills, such as grocery shopping, cooking, budgeting, and doing laundry, and other household tasks. Start an allowance and help your child budget and save for special items. Allow kids to set their own goals and to take the reins as much as they can. Look for ways to let your kids know that you find them trustworthy. But if they break a rule, tell him, “We need to find a way for you to earn back our trust.”

Family Values, Teaching Responsibility, child building a better world

Make Choices That Build a Better World

Making responsible choices is an important part of mature behavior. Give kids experience in decision-making early on, and let them abide by their choices. But if they cross a moral or ethical line--if they harm property or hurt someone's feelings, for example--ask them how they can make amends rather than impose a punishment. Emphasize how individual responsible behavior builds a better world—that we can’t fix everything ourselves, but when each of us takes care of our environment or helps other people in small ways, the entire community benefits.


Teaching Courage

Family Values, Courage, jumping

Family Values: How Kids Learn Courage

Courage is an essential ingredient in growing up. It’s what propels us to reach new milestones—from learning to walk to learning math—even though the effort seems hard or painful. Courage can be physical, like jumping from a diving board, or moral, like doing the right thing in the face of possible ridicule. Read our tips on how to raise courageous kids.

Family Values, Courage, build confidence

Build Confidence

Have you ever seen a toddler learn to walk? No matter how many times she falls, she picks herself up and tries again. Kids have a natural drive to master new skills despite their fears of getting hurt. The more a young child confronts physical challenges, like learning to run or climb, the more capable she feels, and the more likely she is to take on new challenges in the future.

How to Help: Encourage independence a little at a time, and compliment your child when he tries a new activity. Don’t hover—let your child play on her own for part of every day.

Family Values, Courage, overcome fear of the dark

Overcome Fear

When kids start to worry about ghosts or start to be afraid of the dark, it’s a sign that their cognitive abilities are developing. They can imagine things that aren’t there. At this point, their courage might need a little extra boost.

How to Help: Harness their vivid imaginations to help them overcome fear. You might give a child who is afraid of monsters pretend "monster spray,” or keep bad dreams away by making up a “no bad dreams” song at bedtime. Help your child use words to express fear instead of becoming paralyzed by it, such as “Mommy, I feel scared because that dog is big.”

Family Values, courage, facing the unknown

Face the Unknown

Your child’s growing independence leads him to encounter the unexpected. When a child walks into a classroom for the first time, she’ll face a host of unknowns: Will the teacher be nice? Will she make friends? Will schoolwork be hard? As she learns to deal with these fears, she gains the courage to face the unknown.

How to Help: Read or make up a story about an upcoming event—like starting school—to familiarize your child with the challenges. Walk your child through what she might expect and let her talk through ways to handle it.

Family Values, Courage, moral courage

Do the Right Thing

As kids gain an awareness of others' perspectives and a sense of right and wrong, they build the foundation of moral courage--the drive to do the right thing despite fear of negative consequences.

How to Help: Praise your child when he returns a toy he’s found to its rightful owner or picks an unpopular child to play in a pick-up game of baseball. Role-play what to do if she sees another child being teased or bullied. Practice some scenarios that might arise if your child is pressured by friends to do something he feels is wrong.

Family Values, Courage, couple problem-solving

Set a Good Example

How you behave can ignite your child’s physical and moral courage. When your child falls down or gets hurt, do you help her calmly or do you panic? The ways in which moms and dads deal with illness or loss can influence kids.

How to Help: When difficulties come up in your own life, try not to lose it; instead, take a deep breath and talk about how you’ll solve the problem. And when you take a stand for what’s right, although it’s unpopular, you provide an example that kids remember.

Family Values, Courage, skateboarding

Avoid Foolish Bravado

Courage does not mean taking unnecessary chances or neglecting safety. The cry “Look Ma, no hands!” is foolhardy, not courageous.

How to Help: Explain to kids that they need to balance physical courage with common sense--that there’s a difference between dangerous showing off, such as skateboarding down a flight of stairs, and taking calculated risks, like practicing jumps in a skateboard park.

Family Values, Courage, young teen with earphones

Understand Why Courage Goes Underground

Sometimes older kids might not be able to take a moral stand in the face of peer disapproval. However, it’s important to recognize that courage has not disappeared--it's merely in hibernation. Below their surface cool, kids are keenly aware of life's injustices.

How to Help: Praise your child when you observe her putting her ethical sense above popularity, by defending a picked-on friend or staying away from kids who shoplift. Encourage him to raise money for children from very poor or war-ravaged country, and explain how these kids show courage just by surviving.

Family Values, Courage, talk to grandparents

Involve the Older Generation

Were your parents or grandparents in the military? Did they immigrate or have to deal with discrimination? Did they live through hard times? How did they cope? You may have a first-hand source of courageous inspiration right in the family.

How to Help: Ask older relatives to tell stories of heroic acts they were part of or witnessed. Children love storytelling, and learning about examples of courage close to home will have a powerful effect.

Family Values, courage, positive heroes

Teach Kids About Positive Heroes

Courage in its best sense is positive, energizing us to help others--even if it means taking an independent position. Kids understandably don't like the possibility of being labeled "uncool." So it's helpful for them to have examples of famous people whose courageous stands ultimately had positive effects on others.

How to Help: Talk about historical events in which people showed moral courage--such as the Germans who defied Hitler--or the achievements of people like Gandhi, Mother Teresa, or Martin Luther King, who acted bravely and ethically. Be open to discussing difficult situations your children are facing that need moral reasoning.