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4 Things we can all learn during Presidential election season

4 Things we can all learn during Presidential election season

The Presidential Election is all over the media these days.

During this campaign season, there are MANY ways you can increase your knowledge – or help your children learn something new. You could sit down and watch a debate, turn on a news channel and see highlights of the candidates’ speeches around the country, or you could even just watch those wonderful commercials that are always so positive. Or, you could take it upon yourself to actually focus on learning something useful!

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As a teacher, I am an avid believer that we never stop learning – or at least we shouldn’t. Learning new things helps us to be better informed and more knowledgeable on subjects that really matter in our world, as well as allowing us to make connections to things from the past. What better inspiration for learning than our upcoming Presidential election? And who knows, maybe you will even be a more prepared and more knowledgeable voter to boot?!

What can you learn? Well, let’s just stick with four main core subjects in school: Reading, Writing, Social Studies, and Math.

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For starters: Read! 

There are several autobiographies on the current candidates out there that are really good reads! Of course, an autobiography is written by the person about himself or herself, so it will be written with “voice,” a term your children are used to hearing in school. We encourage them to write with “voice” so that when others read it they have a sense of who you are. These books are great examples of just that. These books were written from the perspective of wanting you to understand why they are where they are in life.

  1. An American Son: A Memoir published in 2012 about Marco Rubio. The first half of the book is his life story, including how his family migrated to the United States from Cuba – this is an amazing journey to read about!
  2. Trump: The Art of the Deal was originally published in 1987 by Trump himself. This book is part memoir and part advice. This book should be on the shelf of anyone who wants to learn about big business.
  3. Living History published in 2003 and about Hillary Rodham Clinton. Of course she has since published several other books, but this is the only one that focuses on her life.
  4. Outsider in the White House published just last year is Bernie Sanders’ story. This is a different type of biography and is really only about his political life, but still gives good understanding about his views and how he got those views.
  5. My Life by Dr. Ben Carson is basically the updated version of Gifted Hands. Dr. Carson’s story is perhaps one of the most inspiring stories you will ever read. Yes, the American Dream is still alive and well!

Next, what about writing?

Can you actually practice good writing during election time? Yes! There will be upcoming debates that will be invite people to write in questions through online sources. Take this opportunity to teach your child how to ask a good question. A question that is thoughtful, provocative, and well-ordered. Why not have them submit a question? Who knows… it could be chosen!

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Social Studies…

This one is easy… and very important!

Our candidates must answer questions about foreign policy, homeland security, and diplomacy as well as questions about working with Congress on issues like immigration. Take this opportunity to freshen up your knowledge about the global economy, who our allies are, and even things you might not really remember well from Government class.

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Use this election time as a teaching time to really show your children where places are on a map, globally, as well as our own map of the United States. Maps usually are not that exciting to children, but when they learn where places are and how things going on there affect us here, all of a sudden the map becomes a tool for learning.

Math. Yes, Math!

During our election season the Electoral College is referenced often. Understanding it takes a bit of research. Looking at maps where you see the numbers of votes needed from “swing states” in addition to those that the candidate will likely “get” is worth looking at and explaining to your children. Many adults do not really understand the whole Electoral College, but there are a number of resources online to help you learn – and this is a good, practical application of statistics.  Adding up the votes on the night of the election is really something you can watch on any major new channel and is quite exciting. Yes, math can be exciting (or upsetting… depending on how you end up voting), especially when it affects the next four years of our life!

So, get out there and have fun learning during election season. Then, get out there and vote!

Featured photo credit: Wally Goebtz via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

Listen carefully:

We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

1. Pray Daily

You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

3. Smile Often

Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

4. Organize Your Working Desk

A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

How do you do that? This is my formula:

First, go to my website (find my website here in my profile) and take the smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

8. Go Exercise

Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

The Bottom Line

It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

More Resources About Mindfulness

Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

Reference

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