Monday, November 13, 2017

101 Ways To Live Better: Spend Time With Family & Friends


Welcome to my 101 series, which explores 101 little things you can do to improve your day to day life, and the world, just a little bit.

Our eleventh post is: SPEND TIME WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS

What is the number one thing that people regret on their deathbed? Not spending more time with family and friends. What is the number one indicator for overall life satisfaction and happiness? The quality of and individual’s connection with their family and friends. Why do unmarried men die much earlier than married ones? Because men rarely forge the bond with friends that women do. Single men die of loneliness. Baby animals, given all the warmth and food they need, still die without contact with a parent or surrogate. Human babies, denied affection, show ‘failure to thrive’ and may never learn to walk or talk or even crawl.

Humans are social. Without socialization, we suffer, we even die. However I hope no one reading this blog is at that end of the extreme. I hope you all have friends, if not families, who love you. This blog post isn’t about avoiding death though, its about making the most of the connections you do have with friends and family, so you, and they, live longer and happier lives.

Great connections are like amazing gardens. They don’t happen spontaneously. They require some degree of knowledge and planning, they start slow and ugly and build, with lots of care, time and effort, into something productive and beautiful. They may look effortless and natural, but that is part of the charm. Don’t be fooled, the people with great relationships with family and friends are working on them constantly.

The most important thing is to make time for people. Its a busy age. We all have a lot on. You need to prioritize the things, and people, that are most important to you and tend to those things first. Don’t cancel plans with people unless you are on death’s door. Keep your promises, be reliable, so people understand how much they mean to you.

You should also aim to have quality time. Don’t do the same thing, day in, day out. Go to different places, have new experiences, make time to talk, alone, without distractions or do things you can work as a team. Go beyond the superficial and forge connections that matter to you, in a way that matters to you.

It is also important to remember relationships go both ways. Have standards for people’s behavior. If you are the only one sustaining the friendship and putting effort in, its not really a friendship. You’re just a fan. You don’t have to tolerate that. Put effort into the people who put effort into you. Don’t be afraid to cut someone out of your life if they don’t treat you with love, respect and mutual enthusiasm. Trust me, the moment you stop wasting time on those people, people who are excited to spend time with you will come into your life.

Most importantly, remember this is about being happy around people you enjoy. Its not a mission. Its not a job. Its something you want to develop to be happier and live longer. Take joy in the times you spend with friend and family, be grateful you have them and one day look back on your life with joy.

Monday, November 6, 2017

101 Ways To Live Better: Bulk Cooking




Welcome to my 101 series, which explores 101 little things you can do to improve your day to day life, and the world, just a little bit.

Our tenth post is: BULK COOK
  
Bulk cooking is a great way to save money and time and stay healthy. The idea is that once a week (or even once a fortnight) you do a big cook up and portion out meals for the fridge and freezer over the coming weeks.

You do all the shopping and cooking on the same day. Then you no longer have to cook through the week, decide what you’re going to eat, or rely on take aways. There is a huge range of meals that can be frozen and reheated and depending how many pots you have, or how fast you are at washing them, you can bulk cook 3-6 different meals in a day. You will need a lot of tupperware to store it all though!

Meals that can be bulk cooked and frozen:

- Lasagna
- Soups and stews
- Pies and Shepperd's pies
- Curries
- Pizzas
- Pasta sauces
- Meat skewers
- Chili

You can look up literally thousands of recipes online and will probably find a lot of options I haven’t listed here.

Like all things, there are pros and cons. So I will outline them here. First the cons:

- If you have a small kitchen and limited pots and pans, you might only be able to do one meal at a time with clean up in between.
- If you have a small freezer, you might not be able to store very much at all.
- Lunch and dinners for two weeks requires at least 28 tupperware or food containers, and room to keep them in the freezer.
- If you have more than one person to cook and freeze for, the space and tupperware needed is even higher.
- You might get bored having the same 4-6 meals twice a day for a fortnight.


However the pros far outweigh the cons in every possible way. Obviously if you just don’t have the freezer space then it might be impossible, however I think it is even worth looking for a chest freezer you can keep in the garage or anywhere else you have space. The long list of pros include:

- Huge amount of time saved.
- Decision making energy saved.
- If you are trying to lose weight, having planned, portioned meals that you can just defrost and eat will be a huge help.
- Meals you make yourself will be healthier and you will know exactly what is in them.
- Buying and cooking in bulk is cheaper than buying small portions for every night. Plus it will cost less to prepare.
- It's a lot more convenient and less stressful.
- There are hundreds of recipe books dedicated to bulk cooking, thousands of youtube videos and hundreds of thousands of recipes online. So even if you are eating the same meals for two weeks at a time, you never have to eat them again, as there will always be new, exciting recipes to try.


Here are some links to help you get started:

Cooking safety:

https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-alerts/news/bulk-cooking-food-poisoning

Youtube searches:
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=bulk+cooking+recipes

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=freezer+meals+recipes


Bulk cooking on popular recipe websites:

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/collections/freezer-friendly

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/batch-cooking

https://www.jamieoliver.com/family/freezer-friendly-recipes/?

https://theorganisedhousewife.com.au/organising/kitchen-organising/meal-ideas-for-the-freezer/

Monday, October 30, 2017

101 Ways To Live Better: Quit Your Bad Habit




Welcome to my 101 series, which explores 101 little things you can do to improve your day to day life, and the world, just a little bit.

Our ninth post is: QUIT YOUR BAD HABIT

 

My father smoked every day from when he was fifteen. I tried to convince him to quit for years, I warned him it would kill him.

He’d say: “We all have to die from something.”

And I’d say: “Pick something less stupid.”

He didn’t. He died of throat cancer at 60. My youngest brother was twelve.

We all have bad habits and if yours is smoking, it has a 50% chance of being what kills you. Even if you don’t smoke, we all have at least one bad habit. Maybe its drinking or prescription drugs. Maybe it's something less harmful like chewing your nails or spending too much time on facebook. Whatever it is, it's called a bad habit because its detrimental to your life in some way.

Your life would be better, however slightly, if you could kick this habit!

Some research suggests the best way to kick an old habit is to replace it with a good one. Our habits fulfil a need. We are seeking some sort of gratification, and the habit gives it to us somehow. We smoke because it feels good. We open facebook because we get a rush. Even chewing our nails feels good at the time, even if we hate ourselves afterward.

You can’t just leave a void when you kick a habit, you need to put something else in its place. Preferably something that also makes you feel good, but is productive in some way. It helps to make a list of small, productive things you can do that make you feel good. The idea being, when you catch yourself about to do the bad habit, you do the good habit instead.

A good example might be, every time you go to open facebook, instead open your manuscript (if you are writing one) and write a single sentence. If you casually go to open facebook as often as I do, you could potentially write an entire novel that way in a few months.

Maybe every time you want a smoke, you can read a few pages of a book. Or every time you go to bite your nails, you can put something away that’s lying around where it shouldn’t.

Sometimes, rewards can be a great motivation to drop a bad habit. Let's say you want to quit drinking. You got rid of all the alcohol in the house, you have replaced drinking in the evening with reading a chapter of a book, and now you want to reward yourself. Maybe if you stay sober for 30 days, you can reward yourself with a spa day. Or those new boots you really need. If you stay sober for a whole year, take that trip to Spain you’ve always wanted. Then when temptation comes along, you can ask yourself: “Do I want this drink, or do I want to go to Spain?”

There are plenty of systems out there to help you quit. The best place to look is often your phone. Search the apps store for motivational and tracking software that works for you. My favorite is Habitica, which I use to promote good habits, rather than punishing bad ones. It works on my phone and my PC and I love it. (https://habitica.com/)

Remember, some bad habits can be dangerous to quit. If you are a drug addict or a heavy drinker, it is best to quit under medical supervision. If any of your bad habits are the result of a mental illness, please speak to your psychologist or health care professional before taking drastic measures to motivate yourself. I want you to be happy, healthy and safe at all times, because I love you guys.

Monday, October 23, 2017

101 Ways To Live Better: Save Money



Welcome to my 101 series, which explores 101 little things you can do to improve your day to day life, and the world, just a little bit.

Our eighth post is: SAVE MONEY
For my mother’s birthday this year, I brought her seven books.

Six of them, related to her passions and hobbies—things she loves, things she enjoys, things she wants to learn more about or books that are focused around her goals. She loved them of course, but the seventh book was the most important.

I brought her ‘The Barefoot Investor’ by Scott Pape. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it. It is focused on Australians, so it might not be as useful for everyone. However regardless of where you are, you can still apply the principles, even if you have to do a little research to find comparable bank accounts and superannuation funds.

My mother has never been fantastic with money. Oddly, she’s great at making money for the companies she’s worked for. However her personal finances have always been a bit of a mess. I don’t think she’s ever had savings in her life.

Personally, if I didn’t have savings, I don’t think I could sleep at night. And that stems largely from every unexpected bill being a disaster when I was younger. Having a safety net to cover unexpected expenses can work miracles in making you feel safer and more in control.

And while this was never a problem for me or my mother, did you know the number one thing keeping women from leaving abusive relationships is money? Keeping people financially dependent is often a key tactic in abuse. Someone who can’t rent, can’t pay for food, can’t afford gas, can’t very well leave, can they? Savings, for many women, would be the key element necessary to escape abuse.

As I have said, I highly recommend ‘The Barefoot Investor’ as a simple, step by step guide for ANYONE, regardless of income level, to get out of debt, become financially secure and learn how to save. It really could be the best investment you ever make.

But the basic principles are simple. Downsize if you have to, pay off your debts as quickly as you can, increase your income and put a portion of your income aside in savings every month. It's not going to make you rich overnight, but in a year or two, you will be much better off. And if that seems like a long time, remember the time is going to pass anyway.

Would you rather be debt free with savings in two years or be in exactly the same financial situation as you are now? Imagine if you had started saving 20% of your income five years ago, how much money would you have today? How happy are you going to be in five years, that you finally got on top of your finances this year?

Life happens. You have to be prepared for it. If only for your own peace of mind.

You can find Scott Pape’s book here.

And just like Scott, I get no kickbacks for promoting anything on this blog. This isn’t an affiliate link, this is, very literally, the same advice I would give my own mother.