Article - The Power of Positivity at Work
An Article by Diane Lang
Published July 23, 2014
Published by WE Initiative
Bummed at work? Follow this advice, presented by therapist, educator and life coach Diane Lang and make your work experience a much more positive one:
Remember that emotions are contagious. If you want to see attitude changes at work , you must start the change. Make the choice to be happy. Choose to be positive. The happier you are the more positive people you will attract.
Watch the self-talk. If you find yourself using words such as: have to, maybe, should, could, would, it’s time to make a change. Replace those words with: “I choose to,” “I will,” “I can” and “I will.” If you say “I would” or “I could” do something, the odds are you won’t do it. However, if you say “I will do it,” or “I choose to do it,” you likely will do it, even if you are scared or insecure.
Be an active listener. Most arguments stem from someone who doesn’t listen, interrupts or cuts someone else off right in the middle of a sentence. By being an active listener, you show other people that you care and are interested in what they are saying. You can take it a step further and be an empathetic listener and put yourself in the other person’s shoes. That will drastically improve your conversations.
Can/can’t control. We spend a lot of time dealing with issues that we can’t control and that often sets us up for failure. We can’t control others, but we can control how we react to people and situations. Instead of focusing on what you can’t control, focus on what you can control. Make a list of all the things you can control in your life. After each item, ask yourself: “What can I do about it now?” From there, decide to set short- or long-term goals or even immediate goals. Staying focused on the “cans” will help you maintain a positive attitude.
Apply your strengths at work. We are our happiest and most productive when we work to our strengths and use our skills at work.
Ensure that your basic needs are met. You won’t find any balance at work or home if your basic needs aren’t met. Take inventory of your basic needs. Keep a journal of your week (what did you eat, how much sleep did you get, how much water did you drink, did you exercise, etc.). If you’re not physically, mentally and emotionally healthy then you reach burnout mode.
Pay it forward at the workplace. A great way to have an instant boost of happiness is to do random acts of kindness for your coworkers. Give a compliment, help someone out with their work or bring them a beverage.
Smile and laugh. Both are great ways to reduce stress and feel better instantly. Even if you have to fake it, you will still feel happier. Just the silliness of faking a smile will make you laugh at yourself.
Socialize at work (within reason.) At work, most people need breaks to refuel and reenergize. The best way to do that is to take a 10-15 minute walk with a coworker. If you can go outside and get fresh air that is even better. If not, walking inside will reduce stress too.
Practice relaxation techniques. Make deep breathing, visualization and muscle relaxation exercises part of your day.
Therapist, Educator and Life Coach Diane Lang has dedicated her career to helping people turn their lives around and is now on a mission to help them develop a sustainable positive attitude that can actually turn one into an optimist, literally. A therapist and educator of Positive Psychology, she has seen that it can provide a strong foundation for finding great happiness and is gratified that it is becoming a mainstream method of treatment.
Article - 8 Ways to Prevent the Winter Blues Called SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
An Article by Diane Lang
Published October 12, 2015
Published by ewellnessmag.com
There are several people who experience a change of moods during the fall and winter months, particularly a feeling of depression and sadness. Typically when the weather gets warmer, these feelings will begin to lessen. If you are feeling under the weather during the cold winter months but not sure if you are having seasonal disorder, you can check to see if you are experiencing certain symptoms related to the disorder. Diane Lang, a therapist, positive living speaker, author, and life coach, shares some of the symptoms associated with SAD and eight ways to help prevent the winter blues.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Symptoms:
1. Feelings of sadness, hopelessness and anxiety during the winter months.
2. Feeling fatigue, loss of energy, trouble concentrating and unmotivated.
3. The feelings of sadness, fatigue, isolated, etc. that start out mild and become more severe as the winter progresses.
4. Change in appetite and sleeping habits.
5. Social withdrawal - loss of interest in social activities and hobbies. Some people tend to “hibernate” during the winter months. They don’t leave their house very often during the winter months and they stop socializing and enjoying their daily activities. They start feeling isolated, lonely and depressed. Watch out for this pattern.
“The cause of SAD is still unknown but we know environmental factors play a big role,” Diane Lang says. “A person who lives in an area near a lake can get ‘the lake effect’ where he gets so much snow and very little sun all winter, resulting in SAD. We also know that SAD can run in the family - genetics play a role. Seasonal affective disorder is more common in women and we usually see symptoms starting in young adulthood.”
Treatment and How to Prevent
There are different treatment options available for SAD and even ways to help prevent SAD or at least the severity of it.
2. Psychotherapy - a therapist can help you identify your negative thoughts and behaviors and help change them. A therapist can also help you find good coping skills to feel better.
3. Spend some time outdoors to grab some natural light - take a morning or afternoon walk and take time to sit in the sun to help lift your spirits. Even if the weather is cold and snowy, we do know that being outside in the winter months is beneficial.
4. Exercise - every time we exercise we produce endorphins while reducing stress hormones. This gives us a boost of happiness.
5. Bring the outdoors inside - open up the shades and curtains. Move your desks and chairs near the window to bring the sunlight in doors.
6. Don’t let winter make you feel trapped. Make weekly plans to have fun whether it’s dinner with friends or catching a movie, just make sure to laugh and socialize. Surround yourself with family and friends to give the extra support you need.
7. Plan a vacation where the weather is warm and the sun is shining. If you feel a sense of isolation and loneliness in the winter months, setting up vacation time in warm, sunny spots can help and give you something to look forward to.
8. Meds - Doctors have prescribed anti-depressants that have worked well for some patients that suffer with more severe SAD symptoms.
Diane Lang - Positive Living Expert and psychotherapist - is a nationally recognized speaker, happiness author, educator, therapist and media expert. Lang is extremely mediagenic and offers expertise on a variety of health and wellness topics about creating balance and finding happiness through positive living as well as multiple mental health, lifestyle and parenting needs. In addition to holding multiple counseling positions, Diane is also an adjunct at Montclair State University. For more information please go www.dlcounseling.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article - How to Balance Technology and Family
An Article by Julie Revelant
Published February 03, 2013
Published by FoxNews.com
No one would argue that smart-phones, iPads, and the many devices we have access to have made our lives easier and more entertaining for our kids. But technology has drastically changed family life as well.
“It’s becoming a real important issue these days, because people are always plugged in,” said Diane Lang, a psychotherapist, author and positive living expert. Twenty-four seven access means we’re always available to our employers, which can extend the work week to 60 or 70 hours.
There’s also a breakdown in communication, as kids are texting their parents from the next room, and many parents are having marital conflict, because they’re so distracted by their devices, Lang said.
Technology will continue to play a major role in our lives, but learning to manage it in your home can make all the difference between being a stressed out family and a happy one. Read on for simple ways to do just that.
1. Be a role model
Do you check your phone every time you hear it beep? You could be setting the stage for your family’s addiction. “Parents can really set the pace and be role models for how their kids handle technology,” said Caroline Knorr, parenting editor for Common Sense Media. When you set a rule, like “No texting during dinner,” be sure to put your phone away too.
Children ages 8 to 18 spend more than seven hours a day consuming media, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. And all of those hours spent on our gadgets can prevent us from enjoying our families.
Setting limits on when and how much time tech time is allowed each day can help. “Then you can actually communicate, spend time with, and get to know each other again,” Lang said.
3. FaceTime in person
“Socialization is the key factor for happiness,” Lang said, who says it’s important to have a social support system or network aside from Facebook or Twitter that you can share experiences with. So step away from the computer and set up a play date, invite family over for dinner, or meet friends in the park.
5. Do something else
Have you noticed that your kid has become lazy and impatient? Try to push him of her out of their comfort zone by using no-tech times to go for a bike ride or play outside together. Or instead of turning to Google to find an answer, encourage your kids to look it up in a book instead.
6. Create a hybrid
Technology doesn’t have to be toxic; it can actually strengthen your family’s bond. In fact, 64 percent of parents say that technology allows their family to connect, according to a recent survey by Microsoft.
Combining online and offline activities is a great way to blend technology and family.
Download an app, play a video game, watch a movie or take photos, and then make a scrapbook together—anything that fosters your kids’ imagination. “It’s another way of carving out a little bit of family time even in this high-tech, media driven world,” Knorr said.
7. Talk, don’t text
“Our kids are just inundated with media messages,” Knorr said. “We have to reclaim some of that time for us to communicate our own personal values.” So even if your middle schooler doesn’t go into details about his or her day at school, by sharing one of your experiences, he or she might just be more apt to talk.
Julie Revelant is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, health, food and women's issues and a mom. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com￼.
See the entire article online at Fox News.com
Article -Positive Ideas for the New Year
An Article by Dr. Barb
Published January, 2013
Published by At Home
Positive Ideas for the New Year
Dear Dr. Barb:
I don’t really believe in making resolutions, but there are a lot of things I hope to accomplish in 2013. I find I’m sometimes sidetracked and don’t always follow through as well as I’d like. Procrastination is a problem. How can I stick to my goals?
— Mike M.
Almost everyone procrastinates some of the time. Human nature is such that one is less likely to procrastinate when a task is easy or pleasant. If what you want to accomplish is difficult or burdensome, the task can cause anxiety. When we’re anxious about a task, we
are more likely to seek other activities that bring us comfort instead of stress.
Staying on track with long-term goals and following through with challenging tasks can mean delaying comfort and reward. It requires willpower. Building willpower — like building any strength — requires lots of practice and energy. To stick to a goal, you must balance your efforts and not use up all your energy. Do this by taking short breaks and giving yourself intermittent rewards. To motivate yourself, you might think of three words, each beginning with the letter B: Begin (slowly), Build (stamina in short segments), and Balance (with rest and reward). Then begin, build and balance again. Through exercise, your willpower, like your muscles, gradually becomes stronger.
Taking breaks and choosing rewards for doing hard work is not the same as letting yourself become sidetracked. Putting off challenging tasks can be less stressful for the short term, but anxiety and procrastination increase over the long run as incomplete tasks and unmet goals accumulate. As an example, don’t put off beginning that new project at work; it may not be as difficult as you imagine, and you will only experience greater stress the longer you avoid beginning. Once you begin, break the task into manageable segments to avoid burnout. In between getting through each part, stop and reward yourself. Among things to get done in 2013, building and strengthening your willpower might be your most self-rewarding accomplishment in the New Year!
Dear Dr. Barb:
What do you think about “the power of positive thinking?” I have a friend who is always reading books on that subject. She is more than a little annoying in her suggestion that I can avoid having bad things happen in my life just by visualizing a better outcome.— Jane W.
Reading books about “the power of positive thinking” and visualizing better outcomes can be motivating for some, but there can be drawbacks. First, no one book takes into account the individual reader’s differences such as personality, skill set or problems. Second, too often individuals read self-help books expecting a quick fix. Changing self-defeating thoughts requires effort, time and practice.
So the question becomes can we really plan ahead and feel better by empowering ourselves with a positive attitude? The answer is that without a more optimistic outlook, negative feelings like fear and anger often lead to self-defeating behaviors. Through worry and avoidance, we lose motivation. Things start to feel more difficult than they really are, resulting in a loss of confidence and the inability to move forward. Life then begins to feel like one big problem after another, and chances are missed for better things to happen.
Being grateful for what we have is also positive thinking. Some individuals decrease opportunities to feel happier by not fully experiencing activities or relationships that can be very enjoyable. They rush through them, like eating a delicious meal too quickly without savoring the pleasure. Or maybe they take a good relationship for granted without telling the other person what he or she did and how much it helped. Others don’t fully appreciate their own good fortune and how much more they may have than others.
For those who use visualization to imagine a better future, it is best to match one’s goals as closely as possible to personal strengths. With the right amount of challenge to one’s skills and strengths, there is more likelihood to become positively engaged in new steps that are taken. Writing down your most positive attributes can help create a personal legacy, encouraging actions that would support a vision of how you would like to be remembered.
Tapping at least one personal strength every day can reinforce feelings of self-worth and well being, helping to defeat self-criticism and fear of failure. Talking with a trained professional such as psychologist also can help in setting goals that are both realistic and individualized. And a psychologist can identify where your own personal beliefs and behaviors undermine visions of success. Best wishes for your ability to see and create new opportunities for yourself and others in 2013!
Barbara L. Rosenberg, PhD is a licensed psychologist and chair of educational and social programs for the Essex-Union County Association of Psychologists. Her Summit practice serves individuals of all ages, as well as couples and families. E-mail questions to email@example.com, or contact Dr. Barb through barbararosenberg.com.
Article - Good Judgement Can Come from Bad mistakesr
An Article by Diane Lang
Published January, 2013
Published by At Home
Good Judgement Can Come from Bad Mistakes
What the parents among us don’t realize is that every time we get upset at ourselves for making a mistake, we are teaching our kids that it is not okay to make them.
Mistakes don’t define you. There is no such thing as perfection, and aiming for it is an unrealistic expectation. It’s time that we change our perspective on mistakes: admit we make them, acknowledge that making a mistake is okay, and then move forward with the wisdom mistakes can bring. While some errors of judgment, such as driving drunk, can have dire consequences, they can be a wake-up call, with the lesson that major life changes are necessary. Here are some ideas for teaching children about mistakes:
We all make them. Give some examples of mistakes you have made, and tell your kids what you learned. If you have ever benefited from a mistake, tell your kids how. Sharing such stories will encourage them.
Go easy on honest mistakes. Don’t pressure children to avoid mistakes or berate them for making one. Kids are negatively affected by the stress, and their self-esteem can suffer.
Teach your kids to be resilient. Have them write down what they learned from the mistake, and discuss ways they can correct it. When children make mistakes but keep trying, they are winners. Help them develop the courage to do that.
Mistakes can lead you to your true path. I made lots of career mistakes, but they all led me to where I should be and where I am now. I’ve met some great friends as a result of my biggest mistakes. I learned how strong I was. I learned to laugh at myself. This is an important lesson for older children who can be hard on themselves for going to the wrong college or choosing the wrong major. They’ll learn from it and end up in the right direction.
Don’t hide your mistake. While it won’t be comfortable, admitting a mistake can some- times bring in others to work together on a solution.
Even serious mistakes can be instructive. They can be used to teach your kids how to be more sensitive to others, to apologize, express their regrets and solve problems. Good judgement can be developed as a result of bad mistakes.
Follow your own advice. Really accept that it is okay for you as the adult/parent to make
mistakes. The best way to let children know mistakes are okay is to show them through your own actions.
Diane Lang, a Flanders-based psychotherapist, is also an adjunct professor at Montclair State University and Centenary College. She has authored two books and is a frequent guest on radio and TV shows. Contact her through dlcounseling.com
Article - 8 Tips to a Stress Free Holiday Season
An Article by Diane Lang
Published November 19, 2012
Published by Karen & Company
It’s the beginning of the holiday season and with the holidays comes stress. Each year we feel a mix of joy and anxiety when we approach the days before Thanksgiving. The holidays can bring stress starting in November and go straight through until the new year. We experience a combination of stressors related to financial costs of the holidays, family coming to stay and the conflicts it may bring, and the stress of trying to have the perfect meal and holiday all together. If you’re one of those people who feel the pressure of the holidays, here are 8 tips to help feel balanced, happy and stress free:
1. Remember what the holidays are really about – spending quality time with family, friends and loved ones. It’s about giving love and joy to others. Watch your expectation; make sure they are realistic. We try for perfection during the holidays and we tend to forget what the holidays are really about. Remind yourself that the holidays are about being close to your loved ones while everything else come second.
2. Take care of you; during the busy holiday season we forget about ourselves. We worry so much about setting a nice table; buying and cooking the food; decorating the house; buying the presents; etc., we forget to take a time out and spend some quiet time alone. Yes it’s the season of giving to others, but make sure to put yourself on your priority list and put yourself high up on the list. If we aren’t feeling mentally, physically and emotional healthy, how we will be able to have a good holiday? The more time you put aside for you, the healthier and happier you will feel this holiday season.
3. Seasonal disorder – this is just another issue that can affect people during this stressful time. If you know that the cold weather and shorter days affects you and causes you to have negative moods, then do some preventive work. Talk to your doctor about options, seek counseling before the change of weather and holidays start, set up a support system to help when you’re feeling down, invest in light boxes and plan a vacation to a warm destination (this will give you something to look forward to).
4. Start early – before the holiday season is in full swing, start making your things-to-do lists, start your holiday shopping early this way when the holidays approach you’re not scrambling for presents. Buy wrapping paper, holidays cards, etc. Wrap your gifts as you buy them. Be proactive. Having a lot done ahead of time is a huge stress relief and then you will enjoy going out for any last minute things knowing that the bulk of it is complete.
5. Ask for help – there is no reason why you have to do everything on your own. Delegate this holiday season. Ask each person who is coming to prepare a dish or a dessert. Make your holidays not about the cooking but more about the socializing. If everyone brings a dish this will make your shopping and cooking much easier. Don’t feel guilty about it. Each year have everyone make it a point to help each other so everyone can enjoy the holidays. This can also be a great way to clean up after the holidays. Delegate the clean up from the dishes to vacuuming the house. If everyone chips in, it won’t be so bad.
6. Be up front financially – tell family and friends what you can and can’t do early on. If you know this will be a tough financial holiday season, then recommend other options such as: buying for the kids only, a grab bag, the charity option (everyone gives to a charity – whatever they can afford) instead of a gift, play a fun game like Yankee Swap where everyone buys one gift (set a value for it), or learn from our children – homemade gifts!
7. Gratitude – this is the time of year that we should spend more time counting our blessings, remembering what we have instead of worrying about what we don’t. Instead of “Keeping up with the Jones’s,” take a minute to appreciate the abundance of love, health, family and friends. Teach your kids about abundance. They should know that the most important things in life are the things that make us the happiest: good relationships with family and friends, a partner we can share our life with and a full schedule of social activities that involve lots of smiling and laughing.
8. Watch the signs – listen to your body. If you are noticing any of the following signs then it’s time to make changes:
• Change in sleeping habits
• Change in eating habits
• Feeling irritable, moody and unhappy
• Exhaustion and fatigue
• Panic attack symptoms like dizziness, heavy chest, heart racing, headache, feeling nauseous, hot and cold flashes
• Physical signs such as headaches, stomachaches, joint pain and low immune system (catching frequent colds and illnesses).
These symptoms are all warning signs of too much stress and anxiety in our life. This is a sign to slow down and take a time out.
Article by Diane Lang
See the entire article online at Karen & Company
Article - The Art of Gratitude
An Article by Jennifer Nelson
Published November, 2012
Published by New Jersey Moms Guide- The Official Go-To Guide for Moms
As we recover from the damage done to our state by Hurricane Sandy — and get ready to prepare for Thanksgiving festivities — there’s no better time to teach kids about gratitude. Every parent wants their child to understand the importance of appreciating what they have, and a 2012 study by the American Psychological Association showed that kids who regularly expressed gratitude were happier, more optimistic, and even performed better in the classroom.
Here are 3 Ways to Teach the Art of Gratitude to your Children:
Be a Role Model.
According to Diane Lang, a New Jersey-based therapist and parenting educator, gratitude is a learned trait — so be sure to let your kids catch you in the act of feeling fortunate. The entire family can pay it forward through volunteering opportunities this holiday season, or encourage your kids to rummage through their closets and toy boxes to make donations to children affected by the recent hurricane. “Kids are visual learners, so instead of telling them that they should appreciate what they have, it’s much more important that they see you committing those random acts of kindness,” Lang says.
Write it Down.
One of the best ways to cultivate appreciation in your kids is to practice the art of writing thank-you notes. Whether it’s to thank grandma for a special birthday gift or express their appreciation to a friend who shared a hot meal in the aftermath of Sandy, routinely taking the time to write heartfelt notes (e-mail and phone calls count, too!) can make all the difference.
A common tradition at Thanksgiving dinner, Lang suggests prompting everyone to share at least one thing they’re grateful for each time you sit down to eat together as a family. Another great time to talk gratitude is right before bedtime. “It can help children de-stress and have a better night’s sleep,” she says. “Sharing what you’re thankful for is a great thing to do as a family in both good times and bad.”
Fortunately, there are lots of ways to encourage your child to give thanks — and, best of all, you now don’t have to wait until November 22!
Article by Jennifer Nelson
See the entire article online at New Jersey Moms Guide- The Official Go-To Guide for Moms
Article - 7 Tips to Being Happy
An Article by Diane Lang
Published October 23, 2012
Published by ModernSage.com
There are a few key factors that help us live a happy life and yes, it’s possible to be happy on a daily basis. It’s our nature to be happy, but somewhere along the way we forget to smile.
Here are seven happiness tips:
1. Happiness is a choice. Yes, it’s true – it’s a choice. It’s a commitment to be happy. Make the decision or choice that you will be happy. It’s a contract with yourself. When you start a diet or an exercise program, a lot of people sign a contract with themselves to show their commitment. It’s the same thing – are you choosing happiness? Think of your other option – choosing sadness.
2. The older we get the happier we get. I had to add this one in because it made me happy. This reminds me that turning 40 isn’t a bad thing! The truth is the older we get the more confident we get. We worry less about what others think and find our own company delightful. I loved my 20′s. I had a lot of fun, but I remember how insecure and fearful I was of life. As we get older we become more secure in our careers, financial situation and relationships; this leads to a better sense of self.
3. Let it be. We waste so much time trying to analyze and fix things. What happens? We get stuck in a vicious cycle of thinking. Just let it be; trying too hard takes up too much time. We spend so much time analyzing what we did wrong or what could go wrong all those “What if’s.” That’s a lot of negative time wasted. We spend so much time worrying about all the things that could go wrong and what happens if it does go wrong? How about we just spend time “Being in Life.” This would allow us to appreciate life and actually enjoy life instead of it just passing us by.
4. Have faith. Have faith in whatever you believe in. Whether it’s a faith in god, a higher purpose, higher being, whatever it is, it doesn’t matter – it’s just a faith. The most important type of faith is faith in you! Have a strong belief in yourself. Invest in you. Isn’t it enough to know that if you don’t have faith
in yourself there is nothing else? You will be emotionally lost. So, even if you have no faith in god or a specific religion, believe in you. Take care of you. Without that trust, faith and belief in yourself there is nothing left so I will repeat myself one more time – believe in you! Don’t do it for anyone else but you.
This faith needs to go hand in hand with a sense of self. A sense of who you are, a strong foundation in your most core beliefs – your values, morals, norms, etc. What do you value? What’s important to you? What are your strengths? Weaknesses? Hobbies? Interests? Dreams? Goals? You need to know all of this. These are questions that need to be answered before you can move on and find a true sense of happiness.
5. Be social. Social life seems to be one of the most important factors involved in being happy. The more connected we are to others, the happier we are. Having a social network of good friends helps us feel fulfilled, helps to feel belong, accepted, causes us to feel a sense of stability, trust and loyalty.
6. Are you intellectualizing too much? In the world of psychology when you intellectualize, your actually using a defense mechanism to protect yourself from pain, hurt, rejection, etc. So, why do we think that we should over think everything? We should learn to be still, calm and meditate; the answer will come – have faith in ourselves, in a higher power. The more we analyze, the more get stuck in the vicious cycle of not knowing. Our brain uses our past experience to make an answer and if the past wasn’t good or it caused fear and/or pain then what? It’s okay not to think about a situation and let the answer come. Try it; it always works plus you get the bonus of being free of emotional punishments such as worry, guilt and stress which leadus to no good. Try it!
7. Break free from your past. We know that background has nothing to do with your future. So, basically your past does not equal your future. People assume that they are trapped by their past, their parents, their background, culture, religion, race, etc. We know that this isn’t true. What holds you back is your belief system that you get from your environment (nurturing). If you are told repeatedly that you can only reach a certain expectation from your family and/or partner and you choose to believe it, then that’s where you will stay–but if you make the decision to break the chains of your past and free yourself for a better/happier future then that too is a choice you have the freedom to make and live. It’s all up to you and what you choose to believe. I have been in past circumstances that led me to believe I couldn’t do much with my life and that I was stupid. It took a lot of work (more than necessary) but I now believe differently and my whole life is different- what do you choose to believe about yourself?
See the entire article online at ModernSage.com
Article - Living on the Positive Side of Life: eight key factors of living a happy life every day
An Article by Diane Lang
Published October 19, 2012
Published by Ellington-SomersPatch
Summary: Therapist, author and Positive Living Expert, Diane Lang, points out that we are all supposed to be happy just like when we were kids, happiness is a choice and it is possible to be happy every single day. Lang offers eight tips to help us live on the positive side of life.
We all want to be happy and live life to the fullest. Unfortunately, that is not always the easiest task. The good news: we are supposed to be happy. If you don't believe me, think back to your early childhood or look at young kids and see how happy they are all the time. They don't worry what others think or what people say about them. They don't look for acceptance or try to fit in. They laugh at their own jokes, they sing out loud, and laugh for no reason. Kids enjoy life.
As we get older - real life sets in. We try to fit in with our peers; we try to please our parents; deal with the pressures of school, work, family, friends and relationships. It's hard to stay happy and free with the daily pressures of life.
There are a few key factors that help us live a happy life and yes, it's possible to be happy on a daily basis. It's our nature to be happy, but somewhere along the way we forget to smile.
Here are eight happiness tips:
1. Happiness is a choice. Yes, it's true - it's a choice. It's a commitment to be happy. Make the decision or choice that you will be happy. It's a contract with yourself. When you start a diet or an exercise program, a lot of people sign a contract with themselves to show their commitment. It's the same thing - are you choosing happiness? Think of your other option - choosing sadness.
2. Being in a committed relationship is very important. The happiest people are in a loving, committed relationship. They feel a sense of trust, security and stability with their partner. They have a strong friendship with the person they are devoted to. They laugh together, share their secrets, and have a strong bond.
3. The older we get the happier we get. I had to add this one in because it made me happy. This reminds me that turning 40 isn't a bad thing! The truth is the older we get the more confident we get. We worry less about what others think and find our own company delightful. I loved my 20's. I had a lot of fun, but I remember how insecure and fearful I was of life. As we get older we become more secure in our careers, financial situation and relationships; this leads to a better sense of self.
4. Let it be. We waste so much time trying to analyze and fix things. What happens? We get stuck in a vicious cycle of thinking. Just let it be; trying too hard takes up too much time. We spend so much time analyzing what we did wrong or what could go wrong all those "What if's." That's a lot of negative time wasted. We spend so much time worrying about all the things that could go wrong and what happens if it does go wrong? How about we just spend time "Being in Life." This would allow us to appreciate life and actually enjoy life instead of it just passing us by.
5. Have faith. Have faith in whatever you believe in. Whether it's a faith in god, a higher purpose, higher being, whatever it is, it doesn't matter - it's just a faith. The most important type of faith is faith in you! Have a strong belief in yourself. Invest in you. Isn't it enough to know that if you don't have faith in yourself there is nothing else? You will be emotionally lost. So, even if you have no faith in god or a specific religion, believe in you. Take care of you. Without that trust, faith and belief in yourself there is nothing left so I will repeat myself one more time - believe in you! Don't do it for anyone else but you. This faith needs to go hand in hand with a sense of self. A sense of who you are, a strong foundation in your most core beliefs - your values, morals, norms, etc. What do you value? What's important to you? What are your strengths? Weaknesses? Hobbies? Interests? Dreams? Goals? You need to know all of this. These are questions that need to be answered before you can move on and find a true sense of happiness.
6. Be social. Social life seems to be one of the most important factors involved in being happy. The more connected we are to others, the happier we are. Having a social network of good friends helps us feel fulfilled, helps to feel belong, accepted, causes us to feel a sense of stability, trust and loyalty.
7. Are you intellectualizing too much? In the world of psychology when you intellectualize, your actually using a defense mechanism to protect yourself from pain, hurt, rejection, etc. So, why do we think that we should over think everything? We should learn to be still, calm and meditate; the answer will come - have faith in ourselves, in a higher power. The more we analyze, the more get stuck in the vicious cycle of not knowing. Our brain uses our past experience to make an answer and if the past wasn't good or it caused fear and/or pain then what? It's okay not to think about a situation and let the answer come. Try it; it always works plus you get the bonus of being free of emotional punishments such as worry, guilt and stress which lead us to no good. Try it!
8. Break free from your past. We know that background has nothing to do with your future. So, basically your past does not equal your future. People assume that they are trapped by their past, their parents, their background, culture, religion, race, etc. We know that this isn't true. What holds you back is your belief system that you get from your environment (nurturing). If you are told repeatedly that you can only reach a certain expectation from your family and/or partner and you choose to believe it, then that's where you will stay--but if you make the decision to break the chains of your past and free yourself for a better/happier future then that too is a choice you have the freedom to make and live. It's all up to you and what you choose to believe. I have been in past circumstances that led me to believe I couldn't do much with my life and that I was stupid. It took a lot of work (more than necessary) but I now believe differently and my whole life is different - what do you choose to believe about yourself?
See the entire article online at Ellington-SomersPatch.
Article - Home as haven: Creating a de-stressful space
An Article by Marni Jameson (with contributions from Diane Lang)
Published September 07, 2012
Published by MountainDemocrat.com
I recently had one of those weeks so stressful that I would have rather juggled flaming power saws. Not a death-in-the-family kind of week, but a week with a string of everyday life problems that proves the world cares about me about as much as a windshield cares about flying insects.
It started with Hurricane Isaac barreling down on Florida. I braced for the worst by buying 24 cans of tuna, two cases of water and a pack of AA batteries.
“Is that enough?” my teenage daughter wondered.
“No,” I said, and chewed my nails to my knuckles.
Next my 90-year-old father, who was recently sprung from the hospital where he’d spent three weeks fighting pneumonia, had to go back in the hospital. His pneumonia had returned like an aboriginal boomerang.
Then a dentist, while replacing an old filling that was the size of a radish seed, cracked my molar. Now I need a crown.
Then, perhaps worst of all, while researching a health story I was writing I discovered undeniable evidence that artificial sweeteners are almost as bad for you as real sugar. (Say it’s not so!) Unless I wanted to hasten my own demise — which frankly by this point didn’t seem like such bad idea —my daily Diet Pepsi habit would have to go.
Some weeks are real sinkers.
But each day, after the world had its bullying way with me, what got me through was my home. I love coming home. After a day that feels as if I’d spent it inside a churning garbage disposal, my home is — as every home should be — a haven of calm.
Friends, pets, an understanding mate, a large pour of wine and a long run have pulled me out of past slumps, but this week my house restored me. I looked around and asked why.
Because I move so much, I’ve pared down my furnishings to only those I love. I also keep the place clean and clutter free, but the most calming part is the lake view. Sitting on my back porch, which overlooks a lake, is like a tranquilizer.
To add to my notions of what makes a de-stressful home, I asked two therapists to share their tips. Diane Lang, a psychotherapist and life coach from New Jersey, and design psychologist Toby Israel, also from New Jersey, both specialize in stress management, and agree: If you don’t feel a sense of calm and peace when you come home, you need to figure out why not and fix it. Here’s how:
Clutter. “Your home reflects what you’re feeling,” said Lang. Clutter is a big flag that you’re stressed, but it’s also a big source of stress. It makes you feel out of control. “If you de-clutter your home, you will de-clutter your life.”
Technology. Every home should have a technology-free zone, with no phones, computers or televisions. “We need quiet, unplugged time every day to disconnect and relax,” said Lang.
Water. Views of water feel relaxing because water is a universal soother. It’s good for your soul. If you can’t glimpse the ocean, a river, a lake, or a pool from your home, try adding a water feature, a fountain or a bird bath.
Nature. Bringing the outside indoors is de-stressing because nature is a great balancer, said Israel. Create an indoor oasis by pulling in orchid plants, and other flowers and greenery. Put branches in vases. Capitalize on any view of a garden or nature. Outdoors, create a sanctuary-like spot in your yard where you can go to unwind.
Good memories. Think of a time and place where you were happy, said Israel, author of “Some Place Like Home” (Wiley). “Maybe it was a vacation to an ancestral city or your grandma’s kitchen.” Then pull elements intrinsic to that space — colors, textures, art — into your present space. Israel finds comfort in her grandma’s rocking chair and walls she painted paprika, which remind her of her Hungarian roots.
Light. Sunlight is a natural mood lifter, said Lang. Open the drapes. Add a skylight. Conversely, be sure your bedroom gets completely dark. That’s important for proper sleep, which is important for managing stress, said Israel.
A homecoming ritual. When you come home, create a habit that signals that your work day is over. Turn on some music. Walk the dog. Make some tea. Light a candle. Change your clothes. Such transitions help put the day behind you.
Exercise. Create a space in your home where you can work out, whether you add a treadmill or a yoga mat. Physical activity is a natural stress reducer.
By the end of my week, Isaac had blown by, though it wreaked its havoc elsewhere (so sorry New Orleans!), and Dad was on the mend.
One night, as I sat on my porch looking at the lake and listening to the frogs, I called Dad to check on his progress. He answered from his hospital bed.
“Tomorrow,” he said, “my goal is to swing my legs over the bed and stand up.”
“You know what, Dad,” I said. “That’s my goal, too.”
Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through marnijameson.com.
See the entire article online at MountainDemocrat.com
Article - Teaching Kids About Mistakes
An Article by Diane Lang
Published August, 2012
Published by MotherhoodLater.com
Back to school is not just about new clothes and school supplies – it also means back to the books, the tests and the report cards – what better time to start talking to your kids about the pros and cons of making mistakes? Ultimately, mistakes are good learning opportunities – and that’s what we should be teaching our kids.
When adults make mistakes we often become very hard on ourselves and its not unusual for us to voice our frustration aloud. But as parents we need to remember that our children are listening to our words, and watching our non-verbal behavior, every time we get upset at ourselves. They will learn to do what we do.
Mistakes are not all bad and we should be teaching our kids to learn from theirs. If we allow ourselves to see our own mistakes as teachable moments, we should be able to help our kids see them the same way.
Here are some tips on teaching our kids about mistakes:
Teach your kids that we all make mistakes.
Yes, everyone makes mistakes including mommy and daddy. Mistakes are a part of life. Give some examples of mistakes you have made. Tell your kids what you have learned from your own mistakes. If you have benefited from a mistake let your kids know.
Teach your kids that its’ good to make mistakes.
If you’re learning from your mistakes, they can’t be bad. Sure you want to be careful not to make them, but it’s not the end of the world when it happens. When your kids make mistakes help them see the good in it.
Teach your kids about persistence.
Remind your kids that they are winners. Hard work is all about the effort and quitting is not an option.
Teach your kids to set their own definition of success.
Don’t let the media portray that success is all about money, fame and beauty. Kids need to know that there is much more to success and that we all define success differently. Let your kids know that superficiality does not mean success or happiness.
Teach your kids about the journey.
Accomplishment is not about winning or losing, it’s about persistence and the journey to get there. Teach your kids about the good that comes from making mistakes. I have made some great friends when making some of my biggest mistakes. I learned how strong I was each and every time I made a mistake. I learned to laugh at myself.
My mistakes have directed me to my true path. I’ve made lots of career mistakes but they all lead me to where I should be and where I am now. This is an important lesson to teach your older kids too.
As a college professor, I have seen a lot of kids become frustrated with themselves for going to the wrong college or choosing the wrong major. It’s important to assure them that it’s okay – they will learn from this and eventually wind up headed in the right direction anyway.
Help them to see the big picture:
1. Mistakes don’t define who you are.
2. Talk about mistakes and about not giving up. Discuss the topic at dinner. Make sure your child knows to keep trying until he/she succeeds.
3. Young kids (pre-pubescent) want your acceptance and approval. If you tell your kids it’s okay to make a mistake and make light of it, they will feel better about it. Don’t pressure your child about making mistakes. Kids feel that stress.
4. Follow your own advice and really accept that it’s okay for you to make mistakes too. The best way to teach them this is to show them – through your own words and actions.
5. Explain to your kids that there is no such thing as perfection and that trying to reach it is an unrealistic expectation and a set-up for failure.
6. Teach your kids to be resilient. Teach them to laugh at their mistakes, to write down what they have learned from their mistakes, and discuss ways they might be able to do things differently in the future.
Life is a journey and your kids should understand that it’s the bumps in the road that make us the best we can be – we just need the tools and support to get there.
Diane Lang is a wellness counselor and psychotherapist. She is also an author, educator, and speaker. Lang’s focus is “Positive Psychology” and has been interviewed for numerous magazine and newspaper articles. She has been a frequent guest on radio and TV shows including “Fox & Friends” on the Fox News Network. Lang is a monthly contributor for Family Beautiful magazine, a weekly columnist for MommyTalk.com, a regular featured expert on the “Expat Show” broadcasted weekly on the New York ABC affiliate WTBQ-AM. Lang is the author of two books: “Baby Steps: The Path from Motherhood to Career” and “Creating Balance & Finding Happiness.” For more information follow Diane Lang on Facebook here or visit www.dlcounseling.com.
See the entire article online at MotherhoodLater.com
Article - Westport Schools are in Session: 7 Tips for a Smooth School Year
An Article by Diane Lang
Published August, 2012
Published by Westport HamletsHub, August 2012.
Throughout the month of August, Positive Living expert Diane Lang has been offering tips and strategies to prepare for the start of the school year. Now that school is back in session, how do parents and children maintain their equilibrium, keep lines of communication open, and stay organized? Here are seven suggestions from Lang.
Take care of you first.
Lang’s first piece of advice brings to mind the safety procedures walk-through on airplanes. In the event of oxygen loss, flight attendants tell us, we are told to put our own oxygen masks on before attempting to put them on anyone else because if we cannot breathe, we are no help to anyone else. This holds true on solid ground as well! Take care of you, and you will have the strength to take care of others.
“I wake up at 7 a.m. and my daughter at 7:30. That half hour gives me the time I need to wake up and take a shower so I’m refreshed and ready to go,” Lang explained. “This takes away from the crankiness of the morning.”
Make sure each member of the family has their basic needs met.
Challenges amplify when you are tired, dehydrated, and poorly nourished, so make sure basic needs are met. This means making sure everyone begins the day with a healthy breakfast, takes their vitamins, drinks plenty of water, and gets sufficient sleep and exercise.
“Everything will be better when your basic needs are met,” Lang notes.
Be an Empathetic Listener.
Check in with your children during the first few weeks of school to see how things are going and if they have questions or concerns. Lang emphasizes being “an Empathic Listener.”
“Imagine how your child is feeling,” she says. “Always put yourself in their shoes. What might seem like a small issue to you could be a big issue to them.”
Be an Active Listener.
Throughout the school year, ask your children what they did at school every day, and really listen when they tell you. This means stopping whatever else you are doing and focusing on the conversation you are having in the moment. Maintain eye contact, ask questions when you are unsure of what they said, do not interrupt, and think before responding.
Practicing active listening both models for children what it looks like to really listen and also shows that we care about what they are saying and what they have experienced.
Have children prepare for school the night before.
To eliminate morning confusion and rush, Lang suggests, have children set out their clothes and shoes the night before along with their lunch or lunch money. “Both you and your child will feel more prepared in the morning,” she said.
Set up some free time in the morning.
Be aware of how much time it takes you and your children to get ready each morning and leave extra time to avoid the frenzied scrambling that can be anxiety provoking. Lang’s suggestion to include a 10 – 15 minute window of extra time should do the trick.
“I wake my daughter up 10 – 15 minutes earlier and get her ready for school,” Lang shared. “At the end, we usually have 10 minutes or so of free time, which is nice. If she gets preoccupied, the extra 10 – 15 minutes is used up, but either way we are ready on time (most of the time).”
In my case, those 10 – 15 minutes are perfect to accommodate for the inevitable misplacing of my keys and my son’s inevitable misplacing of his shoes.
Set up a school calendar.
“I set mine up on the refrigerator so everyone can see it,” Lang explained. The calendar, she continued, should include the school lunch menu, before and after school activities, who is driving to each activity, vacation days, and any other information that will help eliminate confusion and facilitate planning throughout the year.
Diane Lang is an author, educator, speaker, and therapist whose mission is to help people develop a sustainable positive attitude that can provide a strong foundation for finding happiness. She is the author of "Baby Steps: The Path from Motherhood to Career" and "Creating Balance and Finding Happiness." For more information about Diane Lang, visit her website at http://www.dlcounseling.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
See the entire article online at Westport HamletsHub
Article - Prevent Bullying: 6 Steps Parents Can Take Starting at Preschool Age
An Article by Julie Revelant
Published August 08, 2012
Published by Fox News, August 08, 2012.
Every parent knows that bullying is a bigger problem than ever, with 41 percent of school staff reporting that they see it happening once a week or more frequently, according to a recent study by the National Education Association. What’s even more shocking is that experts are starting to see bullying as early as kindergarten when kids make fun of other children or form cliques.
Even when your children are just toddlers, there are ways you can prepare them now so they don't become bullies - or victims - later. Here are seven of them.
See the entire article online at Fox News.com.
Article - Twenty Tips for a Positive Life
Authored by Diane Lang
Published by NCNJ, March 2012, North Central, NJ.
See the article online at NCNJ.
Twenty Tips for a Positive Life
Authored by Diane Lang
Life: We often make it much harder then it needs to be. There are, however, many simple things we can do each day to make our lives fuller and richer. We can begin, simply, by living a positive lifestyle, a very attainable and realistic goal. Here then are some easy ways to bring happiness into your daily life.
1. See the glass half-full rather than half-empty; change your perspective or view, and the world changes with you.
2. Wake up each morning with a “gratitude check.” Take the first few minutes of each day to appreciate all the good in your life: the sun shining, a roof over your head, food to eat, clean water to drink, fresh air to breathe, good friends to talk to. There is always something to be grateful for—the key is reminding yourself what these are!
3. Go with the flow: Try to do at least one thing each day that you love so that life just flows for that time. It could be ten minutes or a few hours; just add flow into your daily life.
4. Make sure your basic needs are met. Are you drinking enough water each day to stay adequately hydrated? Are you getting enough sleep? Eating well and exercising? Our state of mind depends on our basic needs being met. Make your health a priority, and good things will naturally follow.
5. Show love. It can be as simple as giving a hug or kiss, holding someone’s hand, or patting someone’s shoulder. Simple, heartfelt touch does matter. And remember to thank those who deserve your gratitude and apologize to those you may have hurt.
6. Be an active listener. Try not to interrupt, be patient, and let the person speak before you respond. By pausing before answering someone, you have a chance to summarize what they’ve said and ask questions if needed.
7. Be an empathic listener. Put yourself in the speaker’s place and imagine how he or she is feeling.
8. Do what you love by having a career, not just a job.
9. Smile, laugh, spread joy: All are contagious!
10. Step outside your comfort zone by taking a small risk every day.
11. Add variety to your day. Even just taking a new route to work or trying a new food or drink adds zest to life.
12. Learn something new every day, whether it’s from informal discussions with friends or reading newspapers, books, or magazines.
13. Stay in touch with your friends and family.
14. Visualize your dreams every day. If you can’t see them, you will have trouble attaining them.
15. Take a vacation to refuel and refresh. Vacations make us more productive and creative in both our personal and professional lives.
16. Be a great role model—you never know who’s watching!
17. Pay it forward with random acts of kindness.
18. Spend less time online and more time face to face with those you love.
19. Learn to forgive and move on; the past offers us teachable moments, but we shouldn’t dwell in it.
20. Live in the moment, plan for the future, work on what you can control and, if you can’t control it, let it go! (And always ask for help if you need it.
This article appears in the March 2012 issue of NCNJ
Article - Life Priorities
Authored by Diane Lang
Published by Washington Family Magazine.
See the article online at Washington Family Magazine.
Download and view the article, Life Priorities.
Article - 14 Ways to Keep your Kids Happy This Summer
Authored by Diane Lang
Published by Hybrid Mom.
It's that time of year again. School is ending and summer vacation is starting. When summertime starts, the big question for most parents is: How do I keep my kids happy and busy over the summer? Here are some great tips:
1. Even though school is out; you still want them to keep up their chores. Set up times/days for chores. This will help keep their normal routine even in the summer.
2. The library is a great place for free fun. The library has various children activities and events throughout the library.
For adults: Libraries also have great workshops, events and book signings for free. The library is a great place for everyone – take advantage of it this summer.
3. Most local libraries have reading programs for kids. These programs reward kids for reading. It’s a great way to motivate your kids to keep reading over the summer. Most libraries also give book suggestions for different ages.
4. While I'm talking about libraries: I find libraries to be a great place where I can bring my daughter and we can both enjoy the summer. My daughter can read a book or listen to story time while I get to read my favorite magazine.
5. Have some educational fun with good old fashioned board games. Board games help with memory, fine motor skills (connect 4), problem solving and much more. Some great games: Monopoly, sorry, payday, etc.
6. Make sure your kids get plenty of physical exercise and fresh air. This can be done at your local park (bring a picnic and make it an all day event). The local park near me has a track right next to the playground so I can get some exercise while watching my daughter play.
My daughter can spend hours outside coloring our driveway with her chalk and then blowing bubbles. Add in the hula hoop and it's a full day of fun. Just a few inexpensive ways to get fresh air and have fun!
7. Kids need play dates with kids their own age. If your child doesn't go to camp sign up your child for activities at your community center, park, library etc.
8. Look into discounts. Example: If you have all 3 with cable vision (cable, phone and Internet(, you get a cable vision card which allows for Free Movies on Tuesdays.
9. Field trips are a great way to spice up your days. It can be a local trip to a lake, beach or a park. Then mix it up with museums, shows and mini day trips to new local places.
10. Summer is a great time to get involved with volunteer work. Find a local place that lets kids volunteer. Try to make it a weekly or biweekly activity. Volunteering build kids self-esteem, teaches them respect for others and themselves. The bonus: Helping others gives us an instant happiness boost. So, the whole family can feel good.
11. Teach your kids some business skills. Have them start a _______ stand. They can fill in the line with lemonade, brownies, cookies, etc. Let them be creative and choose what they want to sell. Let them name their business, make the sign and decorate the table.
12. For parents: Make sure to check into your local supermarket and health clubs, they usually have free daycare so you can keep your routine going.
13. Look into a Mothers helper - this is great for stay at home parents or work at home parents who still need to get their own work done. A mother's helper is usually a student who wants to make some extra money while entertaining your kids.
14. Self-care - to remain sane in the summer months when the house is full, make sure to schedule in self-care. If you don't take care of yourself you will feel it. It's important to make yourself a priority.
Therapist, Educator, author and Life Coach Diane Lang has dedicated her career to helping people turn their lives around and is now on a mission to help them develop a sustainable positive attitude that can actually turn one into an optimist, literally. A parent herself, Lang is the author of “Baby Steps: the Path from Motherhood to Career” & “Creating Balance & Finding Happiness”. For more information visit: www.dlcounseling.com or e-mail Diane at email@example.com
See the article online at Hybrid Mom.
Article - 10 Reasons Why Women Love to Gossip
Authored by Rosemary Black
Reviewed by Quality Health's Medical Advisory Board
"Pssssst! Did you hear what she said? He did what? How could she have said that?"
Whether it's a whispered conversation over coffee with a friend or a late-night telephone gabfest with your sister, gossiping bestows a feel-good aura on women who are feeling stressed-out, jilted or just having a bad day. And while it's been criticized as idle chatter, or worse, gossip is beloved by women everywhere.
If you're wondering just what women get out of dishing on others, and why it feels so completely satisfying, here are the top 10 reasons why women just can't stop themselves from indulging in one of life's naughty little pleasures.
1. Gossip gives women a feeling of fitting in with others. It's almost like telling a secret to someone else, which means that you trust the person you are talking to. "And that means you are forming a bond over gossip," says Diane Lang, MS, certified counselor and therapist and the author of Creating Balance & Finding Happiness.
2. Gossiping helps you make friends. "By gossiping and sharing dark secrets, you are actually helping to form friendships," Lang says.
3. Gossip reduces stress. For some reason, hearing bad news about other people actually makes us feel better. "It gives us a happy feeling to hear that our lives are better than we thought," Lang says. "When you hear someone got fired, for instance, it's not that you are happy about that. But we can compare ourselves to that person and feel like our lives are going in a good direction.."
4. Gossip helps us process our experiences, says Irina Firstein, LCSW, a relationship expert. "Women have a need to share their experiences with another person, much more so than men," she says. "Gossip helps us dissect and digest what's happening with us."
5. Gossip helps validate our feelings. When you need validation for your point of view, it helps to go talk about someone who you feel has wronged you. It helps to say to the other person: "How could she do this?" "You are not looking for truth or for reality," Firstein says. "You just want to be reaffirmed, usually about upsetting things."
6. Gossip helps you deal with every day life. "It is a primitive coping technique," Firstein says. "If someone upset you, or you are jealous, gossip helps you sort it out."
7. Gossip is a great way to network. When done carefully, it can be a form of self promotion and can enhance your status at work, Lang says.
8. Gossiping is a learned trait that we observe in others and that we pick up as a way to feel good about ourselves. "You may have seen it in your parents, only they might have called it networking or said it was for work." Lang says. "By the time you were in middle school, you had observed that gossip looked like fun."
9. Gossip lets women dissect relationships with other women. "Men are focused on work and achievements, and just aren't generally that interested in relationship stuff," says Firstein. "Women like to digest all of the relationship that's going on with them and gossip gives them the opportunity."
10. Gossip makes us feel a little guilty, but it doesn't come with a motherload of negative guilt-producing angst. Like cutting a class to spend the morning in the park or eating a chocolate cupcake when we know we shouldn't, it's one of life's small pleasures, and one that we're not likely to give up any time soon.
Article - workingmother.com - Nov 2009
CLICK HERE for published article by M.R. Kylis
Time Is Money - Teaching Kids About Money Angela Amico Olchaskey thought she could use the economic crisis as a springboard to educate her daughter, Kiley, 9, about money, but her plan hasn’t worked out so well. “I’m finding it very hard,” admits the Manchester, NJ, legal secretary. “Mainly because I have spending issues of my own.” Angela admits that she likes to shop—a lot. So much, in fact, that when she recently took her daughter to see Confessions of a Shopaholic, Kiley turned to her as they left the theater and asked, “Mommy, are you going to have to sell all your Burberry bags?” Angela asked why, and Kiley responded, “Because you’re a shopaholic, too.” Angela was surprised—and stymied. Was it too late for her to teach Kiley better financial habits since she had flunked the role model test? The good news is that it’s never too late to start a conversation about money with your kids, says Diane Lang, an adjunct professor in psychology at Montclair State University in New Jersey. And if you need to work on your own spending habits, you can suggest you learn how to do this together. “Kids get used to certain habits,” she says. “They might be used to getting whatever they want when it comes to toys and clothes, but you can modify that situation at any time.” She suggests parents be honest with their children about the need to economize and help them get involved in the family’s savings efforts.“Take baby steps with the changes,” Lang says. “For example, tell your kids they can take one afterschool class instead of two, and let them pick the class. Don’t cut out all afterschool programs.” Lang helps her own daughter, Lauren, 6, get involved with the family’s shopping and spending. “I’ve taught her about money and options,” she says. Lauren helps her mom write the grocery list, cut coupons and even pick out the sale items. Setting the right example is key, so work on being a strong role model. “Children learn through observation,” Lang says. “As a parent, you don’t want to tell your child one thing and do the opposite. This sends mixed signals.” If you’re tired of feeling like an ATM, perpetually shelling out money for snacks, CDs, school dances and other extras, start by taking a look at your own spending habits. Next, follow these easy steps to help children of all ages learn to save, become more independent and discover creative ways to generate income.
Give them an allowance.
If you decide to pay your child an allowance, experts recommend you consider several factors, including your child’s age, your family’s income and what the allowance will cover. Using a rule of thumb (such as $1 per each year of age) to set the amount is only a starting point. An allowance of $10 per week may be okay for a 10-year-old, but $15 a week may not be enough for a 15-year-old. You also need to make some realistic judgments about how much money your kids will need as they get older. Maribea Berry, a readiness manager in Palo Alto, CA, asks her teenage daughters, Elizabeth, 16, and Katherine XX, to use their allowance to subsidize birthday presents for their friends and special items for themselves. “They earn an allowance for helping around the house and working as babysitters and pet sitters,” Maribea says. She sets a limit of $15 that she will pay for a friend’s birthday gift. “If they find something that costs more, they must pitch in the extra money for the gift. So far they’ve been willing to do this.” Kristy Jackson, a career counselor in Sioux Falls, SD, gives her sons, Forrest, 7, and Cameron, 5, an allowance for doing chores like helping in the yard and big cleaning projects. But she also has them do some tasks without payment. “The chores they do for free include recycling, putting away dishes, putting away their laundry and feeding our pets,” Kristy says. “We’re hoping this helps them realize that families need to work together and that each member of the family contributes to maintaining a nice place to live.”
Gayle Flynn uses a back-to-school budget for clothes to help her younger children, Shannon, 11, and Elizabeth, 9, learn to set limits. Gayle, an executive director for business analysis at Cenduit in Cary, NC, assigns each child a budget and lets her decide what clothes to buy within the set amount. “It’s fantastic to see them looking for sales to get more for their money,” Gayle says. Just as important as working within a budget is learning about self-control, says Melissa Martinez, an attorney in Atlanta. She pays her daughters, Ana Sofia, 10, and Isabel, 9, for certain household chores, and each one has a piggy bank, an education fund and a savings account. “Even if we can afford an item but we think it’s too pricey or they don’t need it, we explain that not buying this item will allow us to use the money to buy something we actually need or for our next family vacation,” Melissa says. “Self-control works in every aspect of our lives—nutrition, weight control and especially finances.” Help them save.  There are other ways your kids can save money beyond stashing it in piggy banks and shopping smart. When Elizabeth Yano, a research scientist and professor in Valley Glen, CA, thought that her three sons were rushing out to spend the cash gifts they received, she had an idea. “I told them I’d match whatever amount of money that they put into a savings account,” she says. Her oldest son, Michael, then 14, came out of his room with about $60 he’d squirreled away. David, then 11, offered up only pennies. But her youngest, Steven, then 8, surprised everyone when he emerged from his room with an impressive $450. “His brothers were speechless,” Elizabeth recalls. “Steven couldn’t stop grinning as he explained that he’d saved every dollar he’d ever received.” Given the amount her enterprising kids had stowed away, Elizabeth says, she decided to wait a couple of years before making the same offer again. Still, “their savings habits improved. And not surprisingly, Steven, who’s now fifteen, has a CD account that exceeds both his brothers’ accounts.” Showing your children their bank statements can go a long way toward teaching them about how fast savings can grow, says Rebecca Parks, a diversified independent dealer service department specialist with the Sherwin-Williams Company in Wickliffe, OH. She makes sure her 8-year-old son, Brandon, sees proof that his bank balance is increasing. “He’s empowered by depositing his own money from the allowance he earns and cash gifts,” she says. “And when I show Brandon his statements each month, he can see how his money starts to accumulate and how beneficial this process can be for him in the long run. He has big goals and big dreams.” As the CEO of Lone Star Screening in Bedford, TX, Johnette Van Eeden knew more than your average parent about profits and losses and how to reach for goals. That’s why she taught her kids to save up their money from an early age, helping Danielle, now 19, and Andre, now 18, open bank accounts. “We taught them how to record transactions in a ledger, and later on an Excel spreadsheet, to track their balances,” she says. Johnette believes the lessons paid off. Danielle, now in college, sometimes pays for her friends to go to the movies and for snacks. “That’s because she’s the only one who’s saved up any money,” Johnette says proudly. “I’m hoping that Andre, who just started college this fall, does as well.”
Encourage creative thinking.
The promise that your kids will get something they really want can be a great motivator. Carmen Kenrich, an executive health-care recruiter in Winchester, MA, encourages her eldest daughter, Taylor, 8, to justify in writing items she wants her parents to buy her. “I had her write in four sentences why we should sign her up for tennis and buy her a racket,” says Carmen, whose younger kids, Trace, 5, and Tatum, will be expected to follow suit in a couple of years. “It was a great exercise, Taylor’s first lesson about money and expressing what she wants and needs.” When Rita Marie Gordon’s 9-yearold, Ben, wanted to start a soda-stand (think the next step in lemonade stands), she encouraged him and taught him some finance lessons along the way. The Fort Collins, CO, photographer loaned her son $50 in “seed money” for his initial investment of soda and ice. “It was an interest-free loan for four weeks only,” Rita says. “He protested until I explained to him that by loaning him my money, I was unable to invest it somewhere else and earn interest on it.” By the end of his second week in business, Ben had paid his mom back. “We lived in a neighborhood with lots of new construction going on,” Rita recalls. “He rode his bike around with his red Radio Flyer wagon hitched to the back, carrying my camping cooler filled with ice and cans of soda to sell to the workers on the various construction sites.” Rita explained the concept of tracking inventory, so Ben wouldn’t miss a sale by being sold out of a popular brand. “By counting the cans he took out and what he returned with, he learned what and how much he needed to stock,” she says. “He learned how to make change and be sure he had enough with him.” Ben netted $7 to $13 a day, which he considered big bucks. “Both my parents were self-employed, so I grew up experiencing entrepreneurship as a way of life,” Rita says.
Teach them to give back.
Share, save and spend is the approach Donna Collins Williams of Redwood City, CA, a nurse researcher at Stanford Cancer Center, teaches her kids when it comes to what to do with their allowance. It’s an approach she picked up from a lecture by financial guru Nathan Dungan, founder of Share Save Spend, a Minneapolis-based organization that advises young people and adults on finances. Donna started giving daughters Kathryn, 8, and Lauren, 6, an allowance at age 5, paying them $1 per year of age. Their required chores include putting dirty clothes in a hamper, loading the dishwasher and helping care for their pets. One third of their allowance they can spend on small purchases; one third they save for gifts or place in a savings account. The final third they give to charity. “They choose a charity that they would like to give to,” Donna says. “We support the charity by contributing as a lump sum one third of their allowance, which they’ve usually saved up until Christmas.” Websites such as Kiva.org or DonorsChoose.org can help your kids find charities they feel are meaningful. When her daughters each turn 10, Donna plans to introduce the fourth arm of the strategy, which is to invest. “It’s time we stop spoiling our kids,” says Dungan, author of Prodigal Sons and Material Girls. His family-finance website, ShareSaveSpend.com, offers age-appropriate toys, games and lessons that can enrich your child’s understanding of money.
Creating Balance and Finding Happiness
CLICK HERE for more information.
Please CLICK HERE for a complete listing of current appearances and weekly broadcast times.
Hear what so many people are saying about Diane. CLICK HERE for Testimonials.