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5 Questions to Ask Yourself Each Morning to Help You Live Intentionally and Create Your Ideal Life

Do you want to live a more intentional life?  Do you want your days to be happier?  More exciting?  More productive?  More meaningful?

To achieve our ideal life, we must first recognize that each of us is the creator of our own reality and we are responsible for our own happiness.  In each moment, we have the ability to choose love and happiness.  Although we are not the master planners of our life, we have the opportunity to create our lives through intention and our daily practices.

intention leslie schwartz

Each morning, I begin my day writing in my journal.  This practice brings me a peace that I have never experienced in any other way.  When I write, I connect with my soul and I feel a deep connection to God. Writing has helped me to realize that the answers are ALL within us. We do not need to look to others or look outside of ourselves for the answers.  We just need to allow ourselves to be silent and to listen.

When I do not begin my day writing, I often feel scattered and rushed, and my day often feels unproductive.  When I do write and set my priorities for the day, I find that I am able to stay focused throughout the day. Throughout my years keeping a journal, I have discovered that there are a few things that I write about each morning that set the tone for my day and get me off to a great start. Specifically, there are 5 questions I find myself answering each morning:

1. What am I most looking forward to today?  Life is short, and we need to make the most of each day we have here.  If you want your days to be exciting, you need to make that happen.  There should be something in the day ahead to look forward to every single day.  Something other than your alarm clock should be getting you out of bed each morning.  If nothing comes to mind right away, be intentional and come up with something to be excited about for the day.  Maybe you could plan to do an act of kindness that will brighten someone’s day.  I guarantee that will make your day as well!

2. What are my top 3 priorities today?  List the 3 things you would most like to focus your attention on today.  If you are looking to make your days more productive, I would definitely recommend setting your top priorities at the beginning of the day. I have found this practice to be especially effective in my own life.  When I do not set my priorities at the beginning of each day, I find myself feeling scattered and often running around in circles.  When I do set my priorities, I feel more focused, and as a result, I get much more done.  Do recognize that life and distractions do happen, and even your top 3 priorities may not get completed.  I find that it happens often that I don’t accomplish everything on my list, especially with it being summer and my kids are home with me.  I have found that it is important to remain flexible and to think of these things as a guide for my day rather than a rigid task list that must get completed.  Also, I have learned that it is important to recognize distractions as a gift, because they are.  It’s great to set goals for our day to help us remain focused, but ultimately, we need to recognize that we are not the master planner of our lives.

3. What am I most grateful for right now?  I personally believe that gratitude is the secret to happiness, and it is essential to spend some time in gratitude each day.   It is so important to stop and recognize all of the blessings in our lives each day.  We are ALL surrounded by so many blessings.  Many of us take so much of what we have for granted, and we often don’t recognize the gifts in our lives until they are gone.  I try to come up with something different each day, and I try to include those things that I often take for granted. (i.e. a warm bed, the cool breeze of a fan on a hot summer day, etc.)

4. What would I like to learn today?   I love to learn new things!  I think life is so exciting, and there are so many things to explore and learn about.  We all learn new things each day, but every morning I choose something that I would like to intentionally learn how to do, or something I would like to learn more about. (YouTube makes this very easy.)  I have found that this practice makes my days more exciting.

5. How could I spread love into the world today? / How may I serve?  We are here on this earth to love one another and to help one another.  We were all born with unique gifts and talents.  They were given to us so we could use them to serve and to help make the world a better place. We need the help of others to survive, and others need us and all of the gifts we have to offer.  Our actions do not need to be complicated to be effective.  A simple offering of a hug or a compliment can make someone else’s day and have more of an impact than you may know.

Other ways to phrase this question might be:

  • What are some acts of kindness I could do today?
  • What are some things I could do to help others today?
  • How could I use my natural gifts and talents to make a positive difference in the world today?

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”  ~Rabindranath Tagore

If you begin your day after answering those five questions, your day will be off to a great start!

If you would like to start your days with these questions but find yourself intimidated by a blank page in front of you, I have created a Daily Planner and Journal that will ask you each of those questions. You simply need to fill in the blanks.  (It is currently available on Amazon for only $3.99)  This daily planner and journal prompts you to answer the 5 questions each morning so you can live your days more intentionally and more productively.  It also provides a nighttime review to help you review your day and to keep a log of some of the activities that are essential in living a healthy, balanced life.  Click the book cover image below to find out more about the Daily Planner and Journal.

August 2016 Daily Planner and Journal Cover

Click cover image to learn more

 

May all your days be filled with love, excitement, learning, living, laughter, kindness, and all things good!

Peace, Love, and Blessings

Stacy

Random Acts of Kindness Generator and Additional Kindness Resources

kindness ripple jtcw

Random Acts of Kindness Generator

Being kind sounds so easy, but often we are so caught up in life’s activities that we forget to extend a helping hand. Simple things such as opening the door for someone, or helping a neighbor move are all opportunities to make someone’s life a little easier.

Random Acts of Kindness week is coming up on February 14th, and in order to prepare you for that,  Shari’s Berries has come up with a random acts of kindness generator.  Simply click on a category in the top row and their generator will provide a fun idea for the day.  There are over 50 ideas, so enough for being kind all year long!
RAK Generator preview 500

Additional Acts of Kindness Resources

Kindness Ideas

 

Inspiring Quotes and Stories about Kindness

Movies

  • The Letter Writer.   This inspiring movie is a great reminder of the impact our actions have on others, and the difference one act of kindness can make.
  • Pay it Forward

If you have some suggestions for more inspiring movies about kindness, please let me know about them in the comments below.

 

Coloring Pages

Be kind adult coloring page

From freelargeimages.com

kindness adult coloring page

From http://www.printablecolouringpages.co.uk/?s=kindness

Videos and Inspirational Stories

These inspiring videos demonstrate how a small act of kindness can make a big impact.

Do YOU have any kindness ideas, quotes, videos, or inspiration you would like to share? Feel free to leave them in a comment below or share them on the February Acts of Kindness Challenge Facebook support group. Thank you! 🙂

 

February Acts of Kindness Challenge

When I think of the month of February, the first thing that comes into my mind is Valentine’s Day.   And when I think of Valentine’s Day, I am reminded of love.  So, I thought it might be fun to challenge myself and my family to spread our love during the month by performing at least one act of kindness each day.

When I first suggested the idea to my family in 2014, they were all really excited. I’m sure their excitement probably had something to do with me mentioning a reward at the end if we were able to complete it, but the real reward turned out to be the experience in itself.  We have taken the challenge every year since, and I can see this tradition being one that we will continue for a long time to come!

I invite you to join us and many others in spreading love and kindness all month!  Feel free to make up your own rules, or follow our guidelines below.

Act of Kindness Aesop light

 

Act of Kindness Challenge Guidelines:

  1. Prepare.  Print out this February 2017 Acts of Kindness Log for each member of your family.  Use it to record your acts of kindness throughout the month.  Also keep track of the acts of kindness performed toward you each day.  You might be surprised to actually see how many nice things people do for each other each day. 🙂  We put ours on the refrigerator so it stays in view and is easy to remember.
  2. Identify a Reward to keep You Motivated.  If you are taking the challenge with others, take a vote to see how you want to reward yourselves once you have completed the challenge!  In the past, we have rewarded ourselves by going out to dinner together as a family (something we usually only reserve for birthdays or special occasions.)  Come up with something that works for you and your family and that will motivate you to complete the challenge.  Don’t skip this step.  This is the step that keeps my kids motivated to keep going throughout the challenge.
  3. Spread your love!  Each day in February, perform at least one act of kindness and write it down on the log.  Try to come up with something different each day.  My definition of an Act of Kindness is:  any action you take to brighten someone’s day without expecting anything in return.  Also, write down any acts of kindness others performed toward you.
  4. Encourage each other and keep each other accountable.  Each day, share your ideas with your family members or loved ones who are also participating in the challenge.  Talk about the acts of kindness you performed.  Also, feel free to share your ideas and inspiration in our February Acts of Kindness Challenge Facebook group so we can continue to support and encourage each other and keep each other accountable.
  5. When the month is over, share what you learned from the experience.  Feel free to join our February Acts of Kindness Challenge Facebook group and share your stories with us there as well!
  6. REWARD YOURSELF!!  Don’t skip this step, either.  For many of us, the real reward is the experience in itself, but make sure to recognize your accomplishment and follow through on the reward you set in step 2.

I invite you to join us in this challenge and spread your love. It only takes a small act to make a big impact. Let’s make a difference together! “Like” the Facebook page February Acts of Kindness Challenge for inspirational stories and quotes each day, or join the Facebook support group at February Acts of Kindness Challenge to share your ideas and inspiration. 🙂

Feel free to do more than one Act of Kindness a day.  Don’t be afraid to write them all down.  You may already do several acts of kindness each day without even realizing it.  The point here is to become aware of all the good things you already do and realize the impact it has on others.  You may also want to try to take it a step further and do some things you normally wouldn’t do.  When we make a small effort to brighten someone’s day out of love (not obligation), we are rewarded with happiness.  Anything done out of obligation is not an act of love and will only cause you to feel resentment.  It doesn’t matter whether your acts of kindness are random or intentional, but to honor your own self-care, please make sure they are performed out of love.

As you perform more acts of kindness, you may also notice yourself becoming the recipient of more acts of kindness.  Learn to accept these gifts with gratitude.  Many times it is more challenging for us to receive than it is to give.  We may resist acts of kindness toward us because we may feel like we will owe the other person, but when you let people do nice things for you, you are actually giving them a gift.  Learning how to let others help you might be just what you need to learn from this challenge…I know from previous years it was exactly what I needed to learn.kindness mark twain

RESOURCES

If you run out of ideas at any point during the challenge, this Random Acts of Kindness generator is fantastic!

Check out this link for some great Random Acts of Kindness ideas!

“Like” the Facebook Page The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.

Check out the inspiring movie, The Letter Writer. It is a great reminder of the impact our actions have on others, and the difference one act of kindness can make.  If you have some suggestions for more inspiring movies about kindness, please let me know about them in the comments below.

Random Acts of Kindness week is a 7-day celebration of kindness.  This year it falls on February 10-16, 2017!

Check out this inspiring 5 minute video to see how one small act of kindness can make a big impact.  

Do YOU have any kindness ideas, quotes, videos, or inspiration you would like to share? Feel free to leave them in a comment below or share them on the February Acts of Kindness Challenge Facebook support group. Thank you! 🙂

A New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep

Are you tired of making New Year’s Resolutions you can’t keep?

This year, instead of focusing on all the things you want to change about yourself, what if you made a different kind of resolution? What if the only resolution you made was to love yourself more, exactly as you are?

You are a perfect creation just as you are!  You were born with so many natural gifts to share with the world, but when you focus on all the things you think are “wrong” with you or that society tells you are “wrong” with you, your precious time and energy will be spent on the wrong areas and everyone will be missing out on the real gifts you have to bring to the world. Instead, why not focus on being yourself, discovering those gifts, and sharing them with those around you?

marie forleo

When you learn to love yourself unconditionally and live a more authentic life, all of the things you think are “wrong” with you will naturally take care of themselves. For example, if losing weight was going to be your resolution, that will naturally happen when you take the time to love yourself as you are and commit to discovering the emotional cause of your eating habits. Once you are able to deal with and overcome those emotional issues, you will naturally want to care for your body and fuel it with real foods that nature intended us to eat. Then, the weight will fall off naturally. The same goes for any other area of your life that you think might need improvement.  When you begin to live authentically, everything begins to fall into place and your dreams will begin to come true!

If you do want to live a more authentic life and get to know and love yourself more but you don’t exactly know how to do that, The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge was written to help you do just that.  It requires just 15 minutes of your undivided attention each day for 31-Days. You will learn to embrace your uniqueness, discover your priorities so you can spend your time and energy on those things that really matter in life, and recognize your gifts and talents so you can share them with the world and fulfill the purpose that you were sent here to make.

The_31Day_SelfLove_Cover_for_Kindle

So, whatever challenge or resolution you decide to make for this New Year, I wish you much success!

February Acts of Kindness Month: Ways to Stay Motivated and Keep the Kindness Going

If you are joining me in participating in the February Acts of Kindness Challenge but have run out of ideas, I have some easy tips to help keep you motivated and some easy ways to keep the kindness going.

  1. Get the whole family involved.  In my opinion, the best part of doing this challenge is doing it with my entire family.  We enjoy sharing our acts of kindness with each other, and we help to keep each other accountable.
  2. Put the February Acts of Kindness Log somewhere so it is very visible. We put ours on the refrigerator.  Every time we go to the refrigerator, it is a reminder to do our act of kindness or to write down what we did.  All 5 of our logs are up there together, so it is fun to read what everyone does each day.  My daughters are also great at reminding each other if someone misses a day.  They don’t want to miss out on that reward in the end! 🙂
  3. Set a reward for yourself.  For every challenge you set for yourself, you should build in a reward at the end.  This is a crucial step in helping you to stay motivated.  Honestly, the reward is what is keeping my kids interested in participating in this challenge.
  4. Remember, no act of kindness is too small.  Sometimes we feel like our acts are insignificant, but each action you take (and each word you speak) has the potential to make or break someone’s day.  Keep that in mind and choose kindness always! 🙂

aesop kindnessIf you’re stuck for ideas, a simple way to make someone’s day is to download a Care Card from You Matter. I wrote one out for each member of my family last night, and it felt great!   #YouMatter is a grassroots movement that aims to promote positive mental health through acts of caring. Telling someone they matter can have a greater impact than we may know! 

There are four easy steps to participate in #YouMatter:

1) Download a Care Card from the MSW@USC blog.

2) Write a message of caring, friendship or appreciation.

3) Snap a picture of your card and share on social media using the hashtag #youmatter and tag us @youmatterbc to inspire others.

4) Give the Care Card to someone and make that person’s day!

There’s never a better time than now to show others that that they matter in this world, so let’s keep promoting acts of kindness together!

If you have not been taking the February Acts of Kindness Challenge, it is not too late to begin!  Simply print out the February Acts of Kindness Log, hang it somewhere visible, set a reward for yourself, and begin performing at least one act of kindness each day.  Then enjoy the wonderful feelings that come with helping others and knowing you are helping to brighten up your community and the world. 🙂

International Random Acts of Kindness Week: February 9 – 15, 2015

kindness mark twain

International Random Acts of Kindness Week is February 9-15, 2015.  Spread your love and kindness this week to help make your community and our world a better place!

We all have a desire to make a difference in this world, and we have an endless amount of opportunities to do that every day.  Every small act of kindness we perform has the potential to make a huge difference in someone’s life.  So each day this week, step out of your comfort zone and make that extra effort to perform an act of kindness and put a smile on someone’s face.  It will make you feel great as well.  Kindness is a win-win for everyone!

For Acts of kindness ideas, visit the Random Acts of Kindness website.

If you’re feeling up for an extra challenge, please join me in the 2015 February Acts of Kindness challenge, and spread your love and kindness every day in February to help make the world a better place!  Together, we can make this world a little brighter! 🙂

Feel free to share your kindness ideas and stories in the comments below to help inspire the rest of us!

2015 February Acts of Kindness Challenge

The February Acts of Kindness Challenge is a challenge I began on this blog last year to help spread kindness during the entire month of February.  It was such a rewarding experience for me and my family, we have decided to do it again this year!  I invite you to join us and many others in spreading love and kindness all month!  The guidelines are below.

aesopactofkindness

When I think of the month of February, the first thing that comes into my mind is Valentine’s Day.  And when I think of Valentine’s Day, I am reminded of love.  So I thought it might be fun to challenge myself and my family to spread our love this month by performing at least one act of kindness each day.  When I suggested the idea to my family, they were all really excited.  I’m sure their excitement probably had something to do with me mentioning a reward at the end if we were able to complete it, but I know the real reward will be in the experience itself.

Act of Kindness Challenge Guidelines:

1.  I  have made this February Acts of Kindness Log  for each member of my family to record our acts of kindness throughout the month.  I printed it out for each family member and put it on the refrigerator.  Feel free to download and print it out as well if you would like to keep a record of your progress. 🙂

2.  Each day in February, perform at least one act of kindness and write it down on the log.  My definition of an Act of Kindness is: any action you take to brighten someone’s day without expecting anything in return.

3.  Share your acts of kindness with your loved ones who are also participating in the challenge, or share your ideas and inspiration on February Acts of Kindness Challenge so we can continue to support and encourage each other.

4.  When the month is over, share what you learned with each other.

5.  REWARD YOURSELF!!  This is the most important step off all!  If you are taking the challenge with others, take a vote to see how you want to reward yourselves!

I invite you to join us in this challenge and spread your love.  It only takes a small act to make a big impact.  Let’s make a difference together!  “Like” the Facebook page February Acts of Kindness Challenge or join the Facebook support group at February Acts of Kindness Challenge to share your ideas and inspiration. 🙂

Feel free to do more than one Act of Kindness a day.  Don’t be afraid to write them all down.  You may already do several acts of kindness each day without even realizing it.  The point here is to become aware of all the good things you already do and realize the impact it has on others.  You may also want to try to take it a step further and do some things you normally wouldn’t do.  When we make a small effort to brighten someone’s day out of love (not obligation), we are rewarded with happiness.  Anything done out of obligation is not an act of love and will only cause you to feel resentment.  It doesn’t matter whether your acts of kindness are random or intentional, but to honor your own self-care, please make sure they are performed out of love.

As you perform more acts of kindness, you may also notice yourself becoming the recipient of more acts of kindness.  Learn to accept these gifts with gratitude.  Many times it is more challenging for us to receive than it is to give.  We may resist acts of kindness toward us because we may feel like we will owe the other person, but when you let people do nice things for you, you are actually giving them a gift.

RESOURCES

Check out this link for some great Random Acts of Kindness ideas!

Check out this inspiring 5 minute video to see how one small act of kindness can make a big impact.

“Like” the Facebook Page The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.

Check out the inspiring movie, The Letter Writer.  It is a great reminder of the impact our actions have on others, and the difference one act of kindness can make.

Don’t forget Random Acts of Kindness week is February 9-15, 2015.

kindness mark twain

If you’re stuck for ideas, a simple way to make someone’s day is to download a Care Card from You Matter.   #YouMatter is a grassroots movement that aims to promote positive mental health through acts of caring. Telling someone they matter can have a greater impact than we may know! 

There are four easy steps to participate in #YouMatter:

1) Download a Care Card from the MSW@USC blog.

2) Write a message of caring, friendship or appreciation.

3) Snap a picture of your card and share on social media using the hashtag #youmatter and tag us @youmatterbc to inspire others.

4) Give the Care Card to someone and make that person’s day!

Do YOU have any kindness ideas, quotes, videos, or inspiration you would like to share?  Feel free to leave them in a comment below or share them on the February Acts of Kindness Challenge Facebook support group.  Thank you! 🙂