Do you put everyone before yourself? Is saying yes a habit, more than a true intention? If more people helped others, the world would be a better place. However, psychologist Susan Newman says it can be dangerous to be a constant people-pleaser.

This behavior can lead to you not taking care of your personal obligations, developing resentment for those around you, and eventually feeling under-appreciated and taken advantage of. Newman is the author of The Book of No: 250 Ways to Say and Mean It, and Stop People-Pleasing Forever. She points to the following reasons why you should not let helping others get out of hand.

Your Relationships Can Suffer

You probably have a desire to help everyone, and make everyone happy, if you can’t say no. Sometimes though, trying to please everyone means leaving some people out. You have already agreed to so many obligations there is not enough time left on your schedule. Also, when you take on too many commitments, the quality of your efforts can suffer. This means your personal and business relationships can be damaged as a result.

You Begin to Resent Yourself

A lot of “yes men” and women do not like that part of their personality. They realize that they are stress-filled because they are constantly trying to keep everyone around them happy. They see their own obligations taking a backseat, while the people they do favors for advance in business and in their personal lives. This can cause you to resent yourself, as you recognize your people-pleasing personality is pleasing everyone but you.

You Are Hurting Those You Care About

If you do everything for your friends, family members and coworkers, they never experience growth. You limit their ability to take on new tasks successfully when you can’t help them, because they may not know what to do on their own. Even if you see someone you care about struggling in a particular endeavor, sometimes it’s best to let them learn the process themselves, as this develops a new skill and an improved sense of self-esteem.

You Might Be Wrong

Is your every behavior dictated on what you think will please someone else? This is the case with a lot of people-pleasers. They try to perceive what will make others happy, and then act accordingly, even if it is detrimental to their own situation. Remember, you are not a mind reader. Trying to assume what will keep everyone happy could lead to the opposite result.

Make Your Apologies More Sincere

A sincere apology does a world of good for both the giver and the receiver. See how the power of amends can heal your relationships and deepen your peace of mind.

Why Apologizing is Good for You and Your Loved Ones

1. Deal with remorse constructively. Extending an apology helps you take responsibility for your actions and hold yourself accountable. In this way, you free yourself from the guilt that may follow lapses in judgment.

* This is especially true if you back up your words with positive actions.

2. Improve your future conduct. By reflecting on your actions and sharing your experience with another person, you make a deep impression in your mind.

* This motivation will help you resolve to do better the next time you’re in a similar situation. When you strive to improve your behavior in the future, what you’re doing is bigger than just an apology; it’s an amends.

3. Mitigate the harm you may have done. Just by hearing an apology, the person you wronged is likely to start feeling better. It’s a natural reaction – when we know that someone feels sorry for their negative effects on us because they value us and care about how we feel, we enjoy significant relief and a reduction in anger.

4. Encourage forgiveness. We all need to be forgiven from time to time throughout our lives. Apologies and amends help to speed the process along.

* Studies show that receiving an apology helps people feel less threatened. We develop more compassion and find mistakes easier to forgive.

5. Maintain healthy relationships. Conflicts are inevitable, but you can promote healing. Apologizing and forgiving creates an atmosphere of mutual respect, trust, and cooperation.

Tips for Delivering a Sincere Apology

1. Generate remorse. Reflect on your actions and how they affected the other person. If the situation is emotionally charged, take time to calm down in a neutral setting. Talk with others if you need some objective input. Feel good about your courage in facing the facts head on.

2. Express your regret. State clearly that you take full responsibility for your conduct. Acknowledge the impact you had on the other person.

3. Propose a constructive remedy. Be prepared to state what you’re willing to do to right the wrong. It will demonstrate that you’re serious. Give the other person a chance to propose what they need so you can work together to patch things up. This turns your apology into an amends.

4. Listen to the other person. Be open to however the other person decides to respond. You can feel good about your willingness to make reparations, however things turn out.

* Sometimes you’ll enjoy an immediate reconciliation. But be patient if the other person needs more time.

Additional Suggestions

1. Apologize in person. Your apology carries more weight when you make it in person than if you just text or e-mail it. Face-to-face discussions also help avoid compounding potential misunderstandings.

2. Apologize promptly. It’s easier to untangle a knot while it’s still fresh. A prompt confession can prevent resentments from building.

3. Evaluate any feelings of humiliation. Do you feel that saying you’re sorry is a sign of weakness? Actually, it takes great courage and wisdom to face unpleasant realities and communicate openly. Rejoice in the knowledge that you’re making life better for you and those you love.

4. Know when you need help. If you’re asking forgiveness for the same thing over and over, it may be a sign that you need help to make lasting changes. Counseling or support groups can help you deal with chronic concerns like addictions or anger issues.

Understanding the importance of forgiveness can help you resolve conflicts and lead a more fulfilling life. Use these techniques to make your apologies more sincere and effective.

Are You Afraid of Success?

Did you know that some people are actually afraid of success? That may sound silly, or even impossible at first. But the fact is that many of us struggle to achieve the things we desire because of subconscious fears. Consciously, you plan and work and strive to succeed in the areas which are important to you. But for whatever reason, your hard work and success is thwarted.

Why is this the fate of so many people? In many cases, it is because past experiences in your life have subconsciously made you afraid of success.

Perhaps the environment you grew up in was repeatedly and silently telling you each and every day that “people like you” never get ahead. And if you grew up in a loving and positive environment, but your parents and your family scraped to get by, your brain could be hard-wired to believe that financial success will create a loveless and unhappy life for you.

It is very difficult to overcome years of negative subconscious success beliefs. But that is exactly what is required if you want to achieve success in any area. The powerfully positive news is that once you actually, totally believe you deserve success in any particular aspect of your life, your achievement of that success usually comes rather quickly.

Thomas Alva Edison is known as one of the greatest inventors in history. He once said that, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Consistently tell yourself that you deserve success. You will fail. You will have speed bumps and problems which arise between you and whatever level of success you desire. Just pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and start again.

Here is where you need to follow the lessons of other successful people. First, make it a habit of practicing daily affirmations of success. Tell yourself you are worthy of success. Tell yourself out loud that you are not afraid of failure, or the rewards that success brings.

Write these mantras on a small card and keep it in your wallet or purse where you can constantly review it throughout the day. It is possible to reprogram your brain with positive repetitious statements concerning your success beliefs, and daily affirmations help.

It is very natural to fear the unknown. And in many cases, success is unknown to many of us. Just remember that with a relentless tenacity and a true self-belief that you deserve the successful achievement of your goals, you can and will learn to embrace success rather than fear it.

You probably know that too much salt in your diet is bad for you. How much is too much? The American Heart Association recommends consuming a maximum of 1,500 mg of sodium each day. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) suggests eating no more than 2,300 mg of salt on a daily basis. The FDA in 2016 is thinking about possibly lowering their Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA).

That means if you consume between 0.65 and 1.0 teaspoons of sodium each day, you have hit your healthy limit. Too much salt in your diet can lead to osteoporosis, a debilitating bone disease. It raises your risks of developing diabetes and stomach cancer, becoming overweight and obese, and promotes neurological disorders through a weakened vascular state.

As far as health conditions go, salt is most notoriously known
for cranking up your blood pressure.

Just exactly how does salt cause your blood pressure to spike? Before that process is explained, you should understand that sodium is part of a healthy body. Salt helps your kidneys to retain water. This is needed to maintain circulation and a healthy blood pressure level. This process also helps your heart pump oxygenated blood throughout your body.

Unfortunately, too much sodium can throw off the delicate balance that keeps you healthy. It pulls too much water into your blood vessels, which pumps up the volume of blood inside those vessels. When too much blood is flowing through your blood vessels, this increases your blood pressure. If you put too much air or water into a balloon, the balloon pops.

This is a simple example of what is happening to your blood vessels. They are receiving much too much pressure and volume, which can injure the blood vessel walls and promote the buildup of unhealthy plaque. This blocks blood flow, your excess sodium continues to raise the pressure in your blood vessels, and those 2 issues can lead to heart disease, heart attack, stroke and the other health conditions mentioned earlier.

People in modernized nations eat way too many processed and fast foods. This is a problem because fast foods, foods that have been heavily processed and roughly 70% to 80% of all the food at your grocery store contain unhealthy per-serving levels of sodium. This means that you are probably getting too much salt in your diet without even knowing it. Coupled with the fact that the first symptom of high blood pressure is often death means that you should start today cutting back on the amount of sodium in your diet.

Listening Skills 101

Do you experience confusing or disappointing miscommunications? Perhaps you can benefit from sharpening your listening skills.

Listening is an important part of the communication process, but it’s not given the attention it deserves.

Implement these strategies to strengthen your listening skills:

1. When someone is talking to you, be fully immersed in the conversation. Because most of us can’t do two tasks at once (or at least do them well), stop what you’re doing when another person speaks to you.

* If you’re unable to pause what you’re doing, let the person know. Ask the communicator to stop speaking for a bit, and mention briefly why you’re asking them to wait.

* Say something like, “Can you wait just a minute? I’m adding up these figures. As soon as I’m finished, I can listen to you.”

* Avoid attempting to communicate with others while watching television or playing games because these distractions will hamper your efforts to listen carefully.

2. Body language is integral to listening. As soon as you’re ready to listen, turn your body toward the communicator.

* Leaning toward the person who’s speaking also demonstrates that you’re paying attention to the speaker’s every word.

* Refrain from performing tasks that require you to turn your body away from the speaker, for example, doing dishes.

3. Make and maintain eye contact with the speaker. In most western cultures, eye contact sends the message, “I hear you. I’m listening.”

* Furthermore, holding eye contact with the speaker says, “You have all of my attention at this moment.”

* Be aware that the meaning and impact of eye contact varies from culture to culture. So, if you’re involved with cultures other than your native culture, it’s recommended to learn about that particular culture’s view of eye contact.

4. Focus your thoughts on the person’s words. Refrain from trying to think about how you want to respond while the person is speaking.

* Your goal in listening is to grasp what the speaker is trying to get across to you.

5. Share with the person what you just understood him to say. When the speaker ceases talking, take the opportunity to check out what you heard.

* Try stating aloud back to the communicator what you believe you heard.

* Here’s an example: “So, you can’t pick up the kids after school today because you have a dental appointment at 3:00 p.m. You want me to pick them up, right?”

6. Let the speaker clarify. As the listener, stating what you heard allows the speaker to correct or clarify his remarks. The speaker then hopefully replies something like, “Yes, that’s right. Can you do it?” or “No, I’m not talking about today, I’m asking you to pick up the kids tomorrow because of my dental appointment.”

7. If you’re in a relationship, listening skills are important building blocks to strengthen the relationship.

* A common complaint of people in partner relationships is, “My partner doesn’t listen to me.”

* Because partners communicate daily, it’s easy to slack off using these skills at home.

* Even so, partners can apply the above suggestions on sharpening listening skills to enhance their communication with each other.

When you understand what you’re being told or asked, effective listening has taken place. If you believe you could benefit by focusing more on people who are speaking to you, you aren’t alone.

Strive to strengthen your listening skills. You’ll be a better communicator and your relationships with others will thrive!

How many times have you heard that it takes just a few weeks to develop a new habit? The truth is a bit more complicated than that, but there are scientific ways to help you lock in the changes you want to make.

The myth about behavior becoming automatic in 21 days started when journalists misinterpreted a popular self-help book on Psycho Cybernetics back in the 1960’s. After all, you can probably eat more vegetables starting today, but complex tasks like playing the violin are going to take more than a month to gel.

On the other hand, now is an ideal time to begin forming constructive habits that will enhance your happiness and wellbeing. Take a look at these strategies for learning new behaviors.

Basic Strategies for Habit Formation

Try these tips for easing into your new routines as quickly as possible:

1. Plan ahead. Eliminate excuses by plotting out your course in advance. If you want to wake up an hour earlier, go to bed on time, and dream about the invigorating yoga class and delicious breakfast that await you in the morning.

2. Be consistent. Regularity reinforces itself. Pretty soon it will be easier to go to the gym after work rather than changing your mind, even if it’s raining or your colleagues are heading out for beer and pizza.

3. Spot triggers. Kicking a habit requires you to notice what happens right before you bite your nails or buy another pair of shoes. Are you bored at work or arguing with your spouse?

4. Develop substitutions. Once you know your cues, you can choose a different response. Take a walk or invite a friend out for coffee.

5. Review your reasons. Go over the reasons why you want to adopt your new behavior. Remind yourself about how drinking water instead of soda will help you slim down, strengthen your bones, and save money.

6. Personalize your goals. While you’re contemplating your reasons, visualize your future self. Focus on what you have to gain instead of just pleasing others.

Advanced Strategies for Habit Formation

What if you’re tackling something as ambitious as managing diabetes or transforming your dead-end dating history?

These ideas will give you an extra boost:

1. Practice compassion. You’re bound to slip up occasionally. Forgive yourself, and move forward.

2. Team up. Enlist a friend so you can exchange support and encouragement. Eat lunch with a colleague who is trying to lose weight too.

3. Write it down. Raise your awareness by keeping a journal about your campaign to stop swearing or start flossing. Note what happens on the days you stick to your program compared to the days when you drift back into old patterns.

4. Remove temptations. Eliminate the triggers that distract you from your objectives. Clear the junk food out of your kitchen or the cigarettes out of your car.

5. Design obstacles. Make it difficult to give in to your old tendencies. Leave your credit cards at home to prevent impulsive shopping sprees.

6. Go on vacation. Leave home for a while. Vacations are an ideal time to forge new habits because you can make a fresh start in different surroundings. Sit down to meditate each morning instead of becoming caught up in searching for lost socks or checking your email.

Make daily exercise and parallel parking so easy you won’t even have to think about them. Positive habits make advantageous choices automatic so you’ll stick with them. You’ll also have more energy to devote to other challenges.

How is it that music can lift or lower your mood? What is it about certain notes and sounds that directly affect how you are feeling, either happy, neutral or sad? How was it that, in just a few seconds, hearing your favorite song can move you from depression to happiness? More importantly, how can you use this knowledge on a daily basis to improve your mood? Let’s take a look at the music/emotion connection in human beings.

There are those songs which make you feel absolutely euphoric. On the flip side of that coin, there are styles of music, particular songs and certain sounds that drive you absolutely crazy. Why is this? You may be surprised to know that the smartest scientists and researchers in the field of music as an emotional trigger to this day don’t understand exactly why this happens.

This is because different people often react to the same songs, sounds and types of music in starkly different ways. Sometimes a song can be linked to a positive event or life circumstance, and every time you hear it, you can’t help but smile in memory. In other cases, a particularly emotional speech by an influential figure can crank up the emotions in everyone who hears it, including that speaker’s supporters and detractors.

There has been substantial research into how music and sound can be used for mob control, in jails, hospitals and public places, to offer a calming effect. Though this works exceptionally well after experimenting with different songs and types of music, the jury is out on exactly how, or why, the process works.

How to Use This Knowledge to Your Advantage

Unless you have never been exposed to music of some kind, you unconsciously understand that hearing music can play an important part in setting your mood. Like the scientists who tirelessly research the emotion/music connection, you don’t need to know the “why” of the process.

That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t benefit from and harness this incredible power. Experiment. Listen to new forms of music. Go to YouTube and search for “meditation music” or “soothing music”. Keep trying music that is new to you, as well as music you already know calms and soothes you.

When you find that special piece of music that moves you from depression to euphoria, from sadness to joy, from stress and anxiety to peace and tranquility, you have come across an incredibly powerful emotional reset button. With the prevalence of smart phones, tablets, computers, wearable technology and MP3 players, this means 24/7 access to mood boosting audio that can help keep your emotions in check and stress levels low.

Imagine how much different your life would be if you could start over again. You’d probably choose a different career and put your time and energy into different things. There are many life lessons you can learn right now.

You could live the remainder of your life feeling passionate, joyous, and fulfilled!

Consider how these lessons might apply to your life:

1. It’s impossible to please everyone. Even if you’re the kindest, smartest, funniest person to ever walk the Earth, someone out there won’t like you. There’s no way to make everyone happy. So, do what you can to please others while making yourself happy.

2. No one else cares. Sure, your friends and family care to a point. But everyone else is usually too preoccupied with their own life to worry about your successes and failures.

* Nobody is watching. Feel free to make mistakes and be silly.

3. The older you become, the more important your health will be to you. Health is only important to us when it’s failing. After you develop a few aches and pains that never go away, you start to realize that your body will eventually fail you.

* Get a head start and begin taking care of yourself today.

4. There are only so many tomorrows. We put off everything until tomorrow, Monday, or next year. Time is passing by. You don’t know how many more tomorrows you’ll enjoy. Get busy making the most of them.

5. Apologize quickly. Life is too short for petty disagreements and grudges. Be the bigger person and apologize.

6. You can change. You can change your weight, income, social life, career, and just about anything else you please. Your limitations only exist in your mind.

7. Television will steal your life. Television is a big, sucking, black hole. If the best thing you can find to do with your time is watch television, you might consider working on your life. No one ever improved their existence via the power of TV. It’s a highly effective way to distract yourself, but it solves nothing.

8. You’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did. When you look back on your foolish choices, you’ll laugh. When you look back on the things you didn’t do, you’ll feel a sting that never goes away. If you’re not risking your life, take your best shot.

9. Money is great for solving certain challenges, but it’s not a cure for everything. Some people say that money solves nothing. Love is all that matters. But love won’t pay the mortgage, feed your family, or repair a flat tire. Money is a necessary part of life, but it doesn’t solve all your problems. Money and love are necessary, just not for the same things.

10. Your level of success will matter less at the end of your life. Up until middle age, we put too much emphasis on our careers. It’s only later in life that we realize there were other things more worthy of our time. Have you ever heard a dying man lament that he didn’t spend more time working? You never will.

Consider these lessons to be the message your older self might tell you today. You can take advantage of the wisdom you haven’t experienced yet. People at the end of their lives repeat these life lessons consistently. You’ll likely feel the same way in the future. Why not live now like the wise person you’ll someday become?

To engage your child’s mind, occupy their hands. Most children learn more effectively when they participate in activities, rather than just listening to lectures.

While this has been true for years, it may be even more important today, given the hours children spend sitting passively in front of computers and television screens. Take a look at what you can do as a parent to activate your child’s brain with hands-on activities.

Adapting to Your Child’s Learning Style

Tactile and kinetic learning styles involve touching and movement. These approaches are often ideal for small children because visual and spatial skills start developing earlier than language skills.

1. Schedule breaks. Small children usually have fairly short attention spans. Rotating between different projects or taking frequent, 5-minute breaks every half hour will make your interactions more pleasant.

2. Take turns teaching. Let your child teach you occasionally. They’ll benefit from practicing their leadership skills and clarifying their own thinking as they try to give instructions.

3. Ask questions. Similarly, ask your child to explain what they’re doing and the reasoning behind their choices. As they talk about their actions, they’ll make more mental connections and strengthen their powers of communication.

4. Introduce props. Mundane tasks become more fun when you use flashcards, graphs, puzzles, and posters. Stack blocks or count clothespins.

5. Go on a field trip. Travel adds an extra dimension. Give your child personal assignments when you go grocery shopping or take family vacations.

6. Stand up. Even when you’re staying at home, you can spend more time on your feet. Children may feel more alert standing up or balancing on an exercise ball instead of a regular chair. Walk around while you talk about multiplication tables or verbs.

7. Observe closely. Pay attention to your child’s interests and strengths. That information will help you to design activities they enjoy.

8. Cool down. Participatory learning can be very stimulating. Leave time to settle down before dinner or bed.

Examples of Hands-On Activities for Children

There are many ways to encourage your child to move around and use all their senses. Creative play is an opportunity to learn by doing.

1. Play music. Maybe your child starts dancing and singing as soon as they hear their favorite songs. Background music can also help concentration, while having instruments around the house may inspire your child to start making their own soundtrack.

2. Stage a performance. Dress up in costumes or put on a play to act out history lessons or social dilemmas. Build a puppet theater out of a cardboard box.

3. Do arts and crafts. Crafts allow children to express their creativity while they develop their motor skills. Assemble collages out of magazine pictures and art books. Glue popsicle sticks together to make a wagon or jewelry box.

4. Conduct science experiments. You can play scientist in your kitchen or any room of your house. Amaze your kids by dropping an egg without breaking it. Look up instructions for how to do this classic “trick” online, and then share the secret so your kids can impress their friends.

5. Take notes. Taking good notes is a valuable habit your kids can continue to use at school or in the workplace. For now, it will help them to focus their attention and remember what they’ve learned. Encourage them to carry around a notebook and pencil, or store their notes on their computer.

Your child will remember the things they do more vividly than the things they just hear or see. Help your sons and daughters to become excited about learning by engaging their hands and minds.

What is Self-Talk?

Do you know that inner voice that always seems to be going? It is constantly “telling” you what you should do, what you might do, and reflecting on things you have already done. It evaluates what you do while you’re doing it, providing opinions and suggesting possible ramifications and outcomes. This is one type of inner monologue which psychologists have identified and labeled as “self-talk”.

To get a better idea of exactly what self-talk is, psychologist Susan Krauss Whitbourne likens self talk to the “equivalent of sports announcers commenting on a player’s successes or failures on the playing field.” Unlike athletes that never hear a television or radio sports commentator’s voice, you definitely “hear” what your self-talk is telling you.

Unfortunately, this voice you seem to have no control over can be negative sometimes.

Think about the last time you did something embarrassing. You may have experienced self-talk telling you how stupid you were. Sometimes it is critical even if you haven’t done anything wrong. It reminds you that you are probably going to mess something up, because you’ve done it in the past.

As it turns out, you can respond with negative and positive self-talk to the same situation. It all depends on how you lead your thoughts. For instance, pretend that you have just eaten at a restaurant that all your friends think is amazing. You thought it was overpriced, the food was average at best, the service stunk and you had to wait too long for your food.

You find yourself at a party with your friends, when several of them corner you and excitedly ask you what you thought about the restaurant they recommended. You tell them your feelings, holding nothing back. They all say you are crazy, that it is the greatest restaurant of all time.

Your inner dialogue can respond in 2 different ways.

Perhaps you tell yourself, “Why didn’t you just keep your mouth shut!? Now you look like an idiot.” In response to the exact same situation, you could choose positive, constructive self-talk instead. You could say, “Good for you, for sticking to your beliefs. You reported exactly what happened, you didn’t overstate the situation, and it’s okay if your friends disagree with you about this unimportant topic.”

Psychologists believe that consistently driving your self-talk in a positive, constructive direction can train your mind to respond that way. At first you will not find yourself able to redirect your inner voice. It will simply blurt out a subconscious response. However, by continually appraising dysfunctional self-talk and turning it around, you create less stress in your life, boost your self-esteem, and feel good about your inner dialogue.