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Last Updated on August 27, 2018

27 Must Read Books Every Novel Lover Should Read at Least Once

27 Must Read Books Every Novel Lover Should Read at Least Once

Books open doors in our minds, allowing us to live an entire lifetime and travel the world without even leaving the comfort of our chairs.

When we read a book, we step into someone else’s shoes, see the world through someone else’s eyes, and visit places we might never otherwise go, whether a tiny village in India or the green fields of Narnia.

Books teach us about love, heartbreak, friendship, war, social injustice, and the resilience of the human spirit. Here are 25 must read books especially for novel lovers, and you should read them at least once in your life:

1. The Kite Runner (2009)

    by Khaled Hosseini

    Told against the backdrop of the changing political landscape of Afghanistan from the 1970s to the period following 9/11, The Kite Runner is the story of the unlikely and complicated friendship between Amir, the son of a wealthy merchant, and Hassan, the son of his father’s servant until cultural and class differences and the turmoil of war tear them asunder. Hosseini brings his homeland to life for us in a way that post 9/11 media coverage never could, showing us a world of ordinary people who live, die, eat, pray, dream, and love. It’s a story about the long shadows that family secrets cast across decades, the enduring love of friendship, and the transformative power of forgiveness.

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    2. Number the Stars

      by Lois Lowry

      This Newbery award-winning novel tells the story of Annemarie Yohansen, a Danish girl growing up in World War II Copenhagen with her best friend, Ellen, who happens to be Jewish. When Annemarie learns about the horrors that the Nazis are inflicting on the Jewish people, she and her family stop at nothing to protect Ellen and her parents, as well as countless other Jews. Lowry’s novel is a powerful reminder that cultural and religious differences are no divide between true friends and that love shines all the brighter against the darkness of hatred.

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      3. Pride and Prejudice

        by Jane Austen

        The opening line of this classic novel, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” is one of the most recognizable first lines of fiction. Yet Jane Austen’s most famous work is more than a comedy of manners about the marriage market and the maneuvers of navigating polite society in 19th-century England. Pride and Prejudice remains one of the most enduring works of English Literature not because we find such rewarding pleasure in watching sparks fly between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy (though that’s certainly reason enough). Readers embrace the novel because Austen candidly captures the human character with all of its beauties and its imperfections. Pride and Prejudice is a novel about overcoming differences of cast and class, about learning to laugh at life even when it’s grossly unfair, and about recognizing that loving someone often means accepting them in spite of rather than because of who they are.

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        4. The Outsiders

          by S.E. Hinton

          Hinton penned this novel when she was only 16 because she was tired of reading fluffy romances. She wanted a story about the harsh realities of being a teenager in mid-20th century America, and since none existed, she wrote one herself. Told from the perspective of orphan Ponyboy Kurtis, this multiple award-winning young adult novel tells the story of a group of rough, teenage boys on the streets of an Oklahoma town, struggling to survive and stick together amidst violence, peer pressure, and broken homes. The novel reminds us that growing up is never easy and that pain, loss, friendship, and love are universal experiences that both create and dissolve socio-economic boundaries.

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          5. Little Women

            by Louisa May Alcott

            A richly written novel with a cast of memorable characters, Little Women invites us into the warm, comfortable home of a 19th-century American family. Everyone can find a character trait that resonates with them, whether Jo’s temper, Meg’s vanity, Amy’s mischievousness, or Beth’s shyness. The novel is a coming-of-age story that follows four sisters (the March girls) from girlhood to womanhood in Civil War America. Together they learn about the harsh realities of poverty, illness, and death, and how to dream, love, and laugh through it all. This is a heartwarming, timeless classic about the importance of family and the simple, home-spun comfort of never being alone.

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            6. A Single Man

              by Christopher Isherwood

              While this is far from a light read, it’s one of the first novels I suggest whenever someone asks me for a book recommendation because it really packs a punch. Right to the solar plexus. The novel looks at a single day in the life of George Falconer, a middle-aged English professor grieving the loss of his partner, Jim. As George struggles against the grip of his depression and wonders what the point of life is any more, he gradually learns, through a dinner with his best friend and a heart-to-heart with a student, the gift of being alive with all its trials and its triumphs. Through the snapshot of a single day in a man’s life, Isherwood reminds us that every moment counts. His clear, direct prose will grab hold of you, snap your head around, and challenge you to stare your mortality in the face.

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              7. Charlotte’s Web

                by E.B. White

                OK, let’s lighten things up a bit. Who doesn’t love a novel about talking animals? A Laura Ingalls Wilder Metal winner, E.B. White’s children’s classic about Wilber the pig and his host of barnyard friends from Charlotte the spider to Templeton the rat flings wide the door to imagination and makes us wonder what a world where animals could talk would be like. On a more serious note, it challenges us to ask ourselves how we’d treat animals if they could talk. If they could tell us their joys and their fears, would mankind treat them more humanely? White’s novel is a lesson for children and a reminder for adults of the beauty of nature, the cycle of life, and the importance of remembering that every creature has its place on this earth.

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                8. The Reader

                  by Bernhard Schlink

                  Set in late-20th Century Germany, this novel boldly confronts long-standing German national guilt over the Nazi war crimes of the Holocaust through the strange, intergenerational relationship between 15 year-old Michael Berg and 36 year-old Hannah Schmitt, an illiterate tram operator and former Auschwitz prison guard. As Michael teaches Hannah to read books, Hannah teaches Michael to read the human character, and he comes to learn about the nuances between good and evil and of living with the consequences of one’s choices. The Reader is a story about personal as well as national guilt, about the consequences of keeping secrets, and about the power of redemption.

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                  9. Jane Eyre

                    by Charlotte Bronte

                    Bronte’s classic novel tells the tale of a young girl’s struggle to make something of herself in the world, from the tyranny she endures as a poor orphan under her Aunt’s roof and the deplorable conditions she lives in at Lowood school to the dark secrets she encounters in her role as Governess at Thornfield Hall, the home of the enigmatic and alluring Mr. Rochester. Strong-willed and resilient, Jane longs for the independence that Victorian England denied women, and her story stands as a timeless example of a woman’s determination to choose her own path in life in the face of hardship and ridicule.

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                    10. The End of the Affair

                      by Graham Green

                      This is another one of those books filled with nuggets of truth that you might cut your teeth on, but that we all need to learn to swallow. The End of the Affair tells the story of the brief but life-altering adulterous relationship between Maurice Bendrix and Sarah Miles. Set in part against the turmoil of World War II, the personal battles of love, hate, guilt, and the search for truth and redemption are all the more poignant. The story of Maurice and Sarah reminds us that the things we do for love can trigger an inexorable pull of fate that carries our lives on a passionate and sometimes perilous journey and that while love doesn’t always last forever, the lessons we learn from it do.

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                      11. To Kill a Mockingbird

                        by Harper Lee

                        This one’s gotten a lot of attention with the recent announcement that Lee will be releasing a prequel this summer, so even if you’ve read it before, now might be a good time to revisit it. Told through the point of view of the 6 year-old Scout Finch, the story recounts a crisis that rocks her Alabama hometown when the African American Thom Robinson is accused of raping a young white woman. Scout’s father, Atticus Finch, is the lawyer appointed to represent Robinson. Alternately humorous and brutally honest, the novel looks critically at social issues of class, race, and sex politics and the sometimes ironic injustice of the American legal system.

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                        12. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

                          by J.K. Rowling

                          K, who am I kidding? Read all of them, but you have to begin at the beginning, right? The Wizarding world of Harry Potter has captivated children and adults alike. The story of the Boy Who Lived, a downtrodden, emotionally neglected orphan who discovers he’s a wizard, ticks all the big boxes on must-read lists. It deals with the enduring love of friendship, the pain of loss, the triumph of good over evil, and the reality that sometimes the fiercest battles we fight are within ourselves.

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                          13. The Secret Garden

                            by Frances Hodgson Burnett

                            A beloved children’s favorite about little Mary Lennox, who goes to live in the English manor house of her reclusive uncle after her parents die of Cholera, The Secret Garden is a timeless classic about the beauty of nature, the healing power of love, and a belief in magic. As the Yorkshire sunshine softens Mary’s hard little heart and she befriends the animal charmer Dicken, her invalid cousin Colin, and a host of gentle creatures, you’ll laugh with her and cry with her as she learns how to love, how to trust, and how to reach outside herself to nurture the world around her.

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                            14. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

                              by C.S. Lewis

                              When Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy slip into the magical land of Narnia, befriending talking animals and battling the White Witch, they discover the bonds of family and the value of bravery. This is more than a story about an entire world tucked away in an old piece of furniture. It’s a novel about the boundlessness of the human imagination. Set against the backdrop of World War II England, the land of Narnia represents the timeless hope in a better, brighter future.

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                              15. Anne of Green Gables

                                by L.M. Montgomery

                                When 11 year-old orphan Anne Shirley goes to live with the middle-aged brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, she discovers that there’s been some mistake and that they had actually wanted to adopt a boy. While this debacle initially drops Anne into a world where she fears being rejected and unloved, you’ll ultimately be rewarded as Anne’s spirited imagination and kind heart win over everyone whose life she touches. This is a heartwarming story of love and friendship and a poignant reminder that sometimes life not working out the way we want it to is actually the best thing that can happen.

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                                16. The Girl Who Fell From The Sky

                                  by Heidi Duro

                                  This novel tells the story of Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and black father. When Rachel, her mother, and her younger brother fall nine stories from an apartment building, Rachel is the only survivor, and she’s taken in by her black grandmother in a predominantly white Portland neighborhood. With her brown skin and blue eyes (a white girl’s eyes in a Black girl’s face) Rachel faces the challenge of learning what it means to be biracial in a black-and-white world. Duro offers a masterful novel that interrogates the cultural construction of race in America and challenges us to confront our own prejudices.

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                                  17. Bridget Jones’s Diary

                                    by Helen Fielding

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                                    A prevailing pop culture icon since her debut in 1996, Bridget Jones has been a symbol of everyday feminism for women all over the world from the UK to Japan. Her self-deprecating, candid cataloguing of dating and dieting debacles, her struggle with body image, and her desire for personal and financial independence resonates with readers because we’ve all been there at some point in our lives. Humorous and heartwarming, Fielding’s novel offers comical but critical commentary on what it means to be a woman in today’s world and reminds women (and men) that feminism is less about bra-burning and defying marriage statistics and more about standing up for yourself and loving yourself just as you are.

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                                    18. Uncle Tom’s Cabin

                                      by Harriet Beecher Stowe

                                      A well-known abolitionist novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a political and puritanical indictment of American slavery. Stowe weaves together the stories of several slaves from the fierce Eliza who will stop at nothing to rescue her son from being sold to the meek, modest Uncle Tom who bears his burden calmly and quietly, serving his masters with the faithful honesty of a man for whom freedom is as much a state of mind as a physical condition. This is a novel about the endurance of the human spirit and the moral obligation to fight for right.

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                                      19. The Bell Jar

                                        by Sylvia Plath

                                        The Bell Jar is a hauntingly realistic novel based on Plath’s own life and tells the story of Esther Greenwood, a talented young woman who gains a summer internship at a large New York magazine and discovers that instead of enjoying the glamorous New York lifestyle, she finds it frightening and disorienting. Lifted from Plath’s own struggle with depression, the Bell Jar is an authentic look into the human psyche and sheds light on the realities of mental illness.

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                                        20. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

                                          by Lewis Carroll

                                          A classic work of Victorian Children’s Fiction, this is a whimsical tale of magic and nonsense in which Alice finds herself in an imaginary world after chasing a white rabbit she sees while sitting quietly on the riverbank. Opening this novel invites you to fall down the proverbial rabbit hole and into a world of talking animals and magic mushrooms that cause Alice to grow or shrink depending on which side she eats. This novel has delighted children and adults alike with its blurring of the boundaries between real and make-believe and the all-too real sensation of trying to find our way around a world we can’t make sense of.

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                                          21. The Picture of Dorian Gray

                                            by Oscar Wilde

                                            In this chilling novel, the titular character, Dorian Gray, is the subject of a portrait by painter Basil Hallward, who is enamored of Dorian’s beauty. Knowing that his youth will fade eventually, Dorian wishes to sell his soul for beauty and youth, and his wish is granted. As Dorian grows more beautiful, his painting mysteriously takes on an increasingly monstrous appearance. Hauntingly descriptive and delicately crafted, Wilde’s novel challenges us to look within ourselves and acknowledge the darker side of human nature and the struggle between good and evil that each of us faces.

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                                            22. Murder on the Orient Express

                                              by Agatha Christie

                                              In one of Christie’s most compelling mysteries, the luxurious Orient Express is stopped in a snowdrift in the dead of night, and the next morning, a grumpy, dislikable American passenger is found stabbed twelve times with his door locked. Only the other passengers can have been the killer with the possibility of it being an outside job highly unlikely because of the snowstorm. As Detective Hercule Poirot investigates, a tangled tale is woven around the murdered man as each passenger is revealed to be connected to him. With her usual flare for intrigue, Agatha Christie gives us a mystery that blurs the boundaries between legal and moral justice, challenging us to decide when, and if, it’s ever justifiable to take the law into our own hands.

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                                              23. The Little Prince

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                                                by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry

                                                The most-translated book in the French Language, The Little Prince is the story of a little boy who falls to Earth from an Asteroid after visiting several other asteroids to try to understand mankind. In his travels he meets a series of strange and delightful characters, including a king with no subjects, a drunkard who drinks to forget about the shame of being a drunkard, and an untamed fox. The Little Prince is an allegory about the foolishness of man and man’s tendency toward self-destruction through violence, as well as a heartwarming tale of the transformative power of friendship and trust.

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                                                24. The Fault in Our Stars

                                                  by John Green

                                                  A Compelling, touching story, The Fault in Our Stars recounts the experiences of Hazel, a teenager with cancer, and the experiences of the other teens in her cancer support group. As together they share their fears and their joys, readers come to appreciate the fragility of life through these young voices whose lives are at once burning with intensity and flickering on the point of dying. Green captures the struggles of terminal illness with tenderness and amazing authenticity, reminding us that love, friendship, and faith transcend all, even death itself.

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                                                  25. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

                                                    by L. Frank Baum

                                                    A classic novel about adventure and magic, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz tells the story of what happens to little Dorothy Gale when she and her dog, Toto, are caught up in a cyclone and whisked away from their Kansas farm to find themselves in the land of Oz, where they meet a host of colorful characters including the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman, and the Cowardly Lion. Together they journey to the Emerald city to meet the celebrated Wizard in a quest for knowledge, love, courage, and a search for home. Immortalized in its famous adaptation starring Judy Garland, the novel is a heartwarming story about friendship and bravery, about appreciating what you have, and never forgetting that home is where your heart is.

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                                                    26. 1984

                                                      by George Orwell

                                                      One of the best-known dystopian novels, 1984 is Orwell’s nightmarish masterpiece. Its world is uniquely unsettling: the state controls every aspect of your existence, even limiting the language such that most human expression is totally excised from everyday life. Obedience is the height of safety, and any trace of dissatisfaction is unacceptable. The eyes of the government are everywhere, abetted by technology and your own children.

                                                      This is the book that gave us the neologism “Orwellian,” an adjective used to describe official surveillance and deception, like the activities conducted by 1984’s government. While it isn’t exactly a heartwarming book, it will definitely get you to think and make you more attuned to the big issues today: free speech and free press, the dangers of the surveillance state, and the importance of history.

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                                                      27. The Catcher in the Rye

                                                        by J.D. Salinger

                                                        Holden Caulfield is a captivating character, because his outlook is just so jaded – he’s merely sixteen. This book was first published in 1951, and its appeal back then – and now – is just how different it was from the typical novel of the early fifties. Salinger liberally uses profanity, portrays sexuality, and employs an unabashedly casual tone. Themes of angst and alienation thread throughout this classic text: it will appeal to teenagers and adults alike.

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                                                        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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                                                        Last Updated on January 17, 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, take this 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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