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100 Ways You Can Help Make the World a Better, Brighter Place

And how to help make for a better and brighter YOU – inserts sun emoji -

1. Try and compliment someone at least once every day.

2. Register for the 100happydays challenge. Sharing daily bursts of happiness not only makes you feel better, but rubs off on other’s too.

3. Do a good deed every day. Whether it’s taking your dog to the beach or helping the old lady to her car with her groceries.

4. Call your Dad, or your sister, or whatever family member you haven’t talked to for a while.

5. Donate money to a charity or a cause you care about. Even if it’s just $5.00.

6. Make peace with your past.

7. Take a younger sibling or niece/nephew on a ‘date’. Pick them up and take them wherever they want to go. It could be to a movie they really want to see, to the park to feed the ducks or to the pet store. You could even stay at home and bake cookies together and build a blanket fort. It doesn’t have to be much, but the gesture will mean the world to them.

8. Admit to your mistakes.

9. Look at yourself in the mirror every morning and tell yourself you look beautiful. Nothing like starting the day with a bit of self-love.

10. Ask your boss if there’s anything extra you can do to help.

11. Be thankful, every day. And say it out loud, “thank you”. Give thanks for your life, to all the wonderful experiences you’ve had and to all the loving friends and family who shared in them with you.

12. Smile at strangers on the street. Such a small gesture with such a huge impact.

13. Send your best friend a link to a song that brings back memories of you two.

14. Make the effort to catch up with an old friend.

15. Watch your favourite movie from your childhood. Lion King, anyone?

16. Try to see the best in every situation. No matter how shit it may be. I understand that it’s easier said than done, but give it a go. It will probably make the situation a helluva lot less shit.

17. Think for yourself. Question everything. If something doesn’t sit right, research the answers for yourself. Encourage others to do the same. Especially children. Let them make their own decisions, don’t tell them that they’re wrong, instead, ask them to prove why they’re right. The world needs more independent, critical thinkers to challenge old notions.

18. Compliment children (or anyone for that matter) on their abstract qualities, passion, kindness, or loyalty, as opposed to physical qualities like their eyes, smile or hair. People need to start understanding that it’s what’s within that defines them.

19. Keep jumper leads in your car. You never know when a stranger might need you to help them jump start theirs.

20. Tell people why you love them, not just that you do.

21. Clean out your cupboards, donate clothes you don’t want to a charity like the Salvation Army.

22. Volunteer. It could be at a local soup kitchen for the homeless or teaching English to children in Asia. Same impact.

23. Don’t stoop.

24. Spend time in nature as often as you can. It’s good for the mind, body and soul.

25. Be bold enough to ask the universe for what you want. Because if you don’t ask for it, how do you expect to get it? And when I say be bold, I mean be really fucking bold. Ask yourself what your heart truly desires, then ask the universe for that.

26. Write down five things you’re thankful for every day. Then increase it by five each week. You will probably get stuck after the first few weeks, but start to think outside the box and you will find you won’t be able to stop. Your life will become a shit load better for it, trust me.

27. Read books. Like actual books. Although it sounds a bit pretentious, we need to preserve literature in it’s original form before e-books and Kindles take it away entirely.

28. Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.

29. Choose happiness. We are in control of how we choose to feel, so why not choose to feel good? As Roald Dahl once said, “if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”

30. Make a a conscious effort to only talk about what’s working. We all have a tendency of ranting on about what’s not going right, but as soon as you realise that you’re focussing on the negatives, change your tune and focus on the positives.

31. Shout your friend’s coffee.

32. Dedicate a day entirely to cleaning the house and doing the gardening (even better if you live at home and you’re doing it for Mum or Dad). Blast the music through your stereo and pump it out. Treat yourself to some pizza and wine when the day’s done.

33. Don’t live in the past.

34. Don’t blame yourself. Don’t think about what would have happened had you done something differently. You can’t change it so don’t beat yourself up.

35. Learn to stop worrying about things that are out of your control or that you can’t change. Worry is wasted energy that is better focussed on feeling good.

36.  Know that you can’t change people.

37. Or their decisions, so don’t waste your time. Offer your support, understanding and time where they need it, but don’t try to convince them that something is better or worse for them. A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. People are always going to do what they want to do regardless of whether or not you think it’s a good idea. The best thing to do is give them your unconditional love and support.

38. Similarly, trust that the people you care about know what they’re doing. Just as you would like them to do for you.

39. Let go of anything that no longer serves you, grows you or makes you happy.

40. Hate is a powerful emotion. Let yourself feel it, but don’t let it consume you. Your focus is much better spent on love.

41. If you’re angry at your government, your parents, your friends, your school, whatever, ask yourself why you’re angry at them. Then turn your anger into fuel to resolve the deeper issues within you that make you feel that way. To feel anger is fine, but know that no good comes from acting on it.

42. Buy a bouquet of flowers or pick some from the garden and put them in a vase in your home.

43. Soak up the sun. Vitamin D is some seriously good shit.

44. Exercise. Go as hard or as slow as you want. Exercise is exercise and it still releases those feel good endorphins.

 45. Go for long drives every now and then. Blast the stereo and feel the freedom of being on the open road. Destination unnecessary.

46. Write a letter to your younger self.

47. Write a letter to your older self.

48. Instead of buying a Hallmark card for someone’s birthday, make them one. And rather than write “happy birthday, wishing you a wonderful day – insert generic Hallmark birthday message  – all my love, _____” write something personal and meaningful. You’ll make their birthday that bit more special.

49. Reach out to someone you think needs it. You never know, it might be all they need to pull them back from the edge.

50. Learn to trust your your intuition. You know that feeling in your gut? Honour it. Because somehow it already knows.

51. Give back to the community that gave to you. Remember, Sally’s Mum who coached your netball team when you were seven wasn’t getting paid for it. Nor were the parents who helped organise all the fun school events you got to go to.

52. Instead of grilling friends or family on where they’re working or what they’re doing with their lives, ask them how they are. People want to know that you care about them, not their accomplishments. A simple, “how are you? How’s life?” is so much nicer to hear than, “so, where are you working these days?”

53. Support local businesses.

54. Learn how to grow and keep a veggie garden, then grow one. You’ll thank yourself for it.

55. Affirm that you love yourself every day and why, even if you don’t. You will soon start to believe it. Self-love is integral to the richness and quality of one’s life, so learn to love yourself.

56. Learn to do things for others out of the goodness of your heart, not with the intention of remuneration.

57. Apologise for your wrong doings. Even if it was years ago. If it’s playing on your conscience, find them on Facebook, send them a letter, meet them for coffee or give them a call and put it to rest. You’ll feel a weight of relief.

58. Know that happiness is not a destination, it is a mindset. Stop looking for it in people, in places or in possessions and start seeing it in yourself and the moment you’re in. I understand that this is often easier said than done, but try.

59. Drink water. Lots of it.

60. Learn to look after yourself. Nourish your mind, body and soul with good food, fresh air and exercise. Even if you start with baby steps, you’re still beating everyone sitting on their ass at McDonald’s.

61. In saying that, treat yourself too. Just don’t give yourself “treats” for breakfast, lunch and tea every day.

62. Go skinny dipping.

63. Start sleeping naked. It’s so much better for your quality of sleep and it might even help you out with #55.

64. Trust that if it should have it would have.

65. When you travel somewhere new, make time to check out the smaller towns on the outskirts. By all means do the typically ‘touristy’ things, but you’ll find the real gems hidden away out of the hustle and bustle of the city centre.

67. Start each day with a positive affirmation. For example, “today I choose to be happy” or, “today I will only focus on the good in my life”. Try this every day for a year. Your life will change in ways you couldn’t imagine.

68. Go to an open space and scream all your frustrations out. Like full on head back, arms out wide screaming with everything you’ve got. I went to the beach and did this once and it was so. fucking. liberating.

69. Buy a Starbucks voucher and put it somewhere random but that so someone will find it. It’s guaranteed to make their day and inspire them to pay the favour forward.

70. Similarly, write positive messages on post it notes and drop them into people’s mailboxes or stick them under the window wipers on their car. Something as simple as, “here’s wishing you a wonderful day full of love and good vibes! :)”

71.  Make the effort to stop judging others. I know we all have a tendency to do it, but that doesn’t make it any less of a shit thing to do. Similarly, if you notice you’re assigning value to a person based on their appearance, stop.

72. Stop bitching about others when you’re with your friends. Rather than gossiping and spreading rumours about how many guys Katie has slept in the past month, engage in a stimulating and inspiring conversation. Like talking about your dreams or travel plans and how you’re going to make them happen.

73. Keep your main playlist to strictly feel good songs. Filter through your music and assign a separate album for sad songs, then only listen to those when you’re really feeling like you need to take a moment and cry. Nothing kills your happy buzz like iTunes shuffling to Fast Car.

74. Learn the routine to Time Warp or Grease Lightening and bust that shit out at the club – any GOOD club will play these from time to time, so be prepared!

75. When you get home from work, take your pants off, take your hair out, blast the stereo and dance.

76. Start a conversation with the barista, waitress or cashier. Ask them how their day has been. Treat them like people, not inanimate servants.

77. Put your change in the tip jar. Don’t just look at it as you pay for your meal. (Note: we don’t tip wait staff in New Zealand)

78. If you’ve got it lying around, put an extra dollar or two in the parking metre for the next person.

79. Challenge yourself.

80. The next time you find yourself thinking something nice about someone, say it out loud. It’s no good up your head!

81. Even if you don’t think you’re that creative, buy some paint and a canvas, blast some music and see where it goes. It really is a release! Who knows, you could be the next great expressionist artist.

82. Spend a few hours talking to the elderly at a local retirement home. Ask them about their life, their fondest memories, their happiest moments, their crazy experiences. Give back to the generation whose influences helped shape the world we live in.

83. Have an open minded conversation with someone new. Share your world-views and listen to theirs. Operative word being listen. Don’t shut off or start an argument when you hear something you disagree with, hear them out. Ask them why they think that and respect it. Do this as often as you can.

84. Don’t act out of spite or pride.

85. Know that you have nothing to prove, to anyone, ever.

86. Next time you’re at a cafe with outdoor seating on a sunny day, sit outside.

87. Stop comparing yourself to others.

88. Write a list of all of your dreams, goals and aspirations. Don’t hold back though, start thinking about what the ideal life for you would be then put your focus on that. Don’t be afraid to dream big! Remember: the only difference between your life and the life of those you admire is that they had the balls to ask for it. Live the life you’ve imagined.

89. Consider these words of Jordan Belfourt, “the only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”

90. Don’t settle. EVER!

91. Start getting rid of sedentary and uninspiring people from your life. Instead, choose to spend time with people challenge, uplift and motivate you.

92. Tune out the negativity of others.

93. You might need a bit of liquid confidence, but ask out that guy you like. If you never try you’ll never know. Granted, I am yet to do this myself. But I will!

94. Remind yourself to breathe. Like, breathe that shit in deep and exhale. Five deep breathes a day, tell me you don’t feel better for it.

95. Know that the change you wish to see starts with you.

96. Go for a walk and clear your head.

97. Trust that when one door closes, it really is for a another (better) one to open.

98. Stop comparing yourself to others. Instead of focussing on all the good and abundance you see in their life, focus on all the good and abundance in yours.

99. Know that your time is limited and that you shouldn’t waste it. Don’t be trapped by dogma. Pursue what you love and do things that make you happy. Life is too short to spend it trying to please others.

100. Above all, choose love and happiness.

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The Selfie

There are currently a staggering 109million photos hash-tagged #selfie on Instagram. And with the recent announcement of ‘selfie’ as Oxford English Dictionary’s word of 2013, the nature of the selfie allowing us to interact with our favourite celebrities in ways like never before and an increased use of selfies in marketing, online campaigns and advertising like this one and this one, it is fair to say that #selfieculture, a term coined by psychologists to highlight the ubiquity of selfies, shows the selfie as undeniably cementing itself as a hallmark of modern pop culture.

‘Selfie’ is the name given to a photo which has been taken on our smartphone’s reverse camera with the intention of it being uploaded to our social media platform of choice to serve as a visual communication of where we are, what we are doing, how we are looking or who we are with.

The Chainsmokers got down on the selfie trend by taking advantage of its pervasiveness which would then lead to the overwhelming success of their debut single.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdemFfbS5H0

The music video includes a sarcastic dialogue to ridicule the stereotypical selfie-goer and also features a montage of everyday people who had hash-tagged their pictures ‘#selfie’ amongst selfies of celebrities such as Snoop Dogg, Kim Kardashian and David Hasslehoff. The song mocks selfie culture by highlighting how self-obsessed we are as we take selfies at the most uninteresting and inopportune of  times, such as working out at the gym or mourning at a funeral (yeah, people seriously do that). The iconic lyric of the song, “but first, let me take a selfie” and other hash-tags such as ‘#selfiesunday’ or ‘#selfienation’ are often used to caption selfies to take the shame out of posting a selfie by acknowledging one’s blatant self-indulgence. Sure, selfies are emblematic of our collective cultural decay in a world over-saturated by social media but, are they really that narcissistic and something to be embarrassed about?

I don’t think so, and here are three reasons why:

  1. Selfies as normalising and redefining beauty: For years we have been comparing ourselves to “perfect” women in the media, to an unrealistic and unattainable expectation of beauty. As Pamela Rutledge, Ph.D. faculty director of the media psychology program at the Massachusetts school of Professional Psychology says, “”the cult of the selfie celebrates regular people. [Because of the selfie] there are many more photos of ‘real’ people than idealised images by thousands.” With the emergence of the selfie, we are able to redefine beauty as we see it in ourselves and the people we know around us. By embracing our own beauty we are challenging social norms. Rather than be represented by an unrealistic ideal of beauty, we are representing the beauty of ‘real’ women ourselves.
  2. The ‘ugly’ selfie: (Queue Ricky Gervais’s infamous bath selfie) The ‘ugly’ emerged in a response to criticism about narcissism in regular selfies. ‘Ugly’ is loosely defined in this context, but whether it be a deliberate duck-face piss take or a quadruple chin selfie sent to your best friend on Snap Chat, we all take them and every time we’re challenging the egotistical stigma attached to a conventional selfie. They also serve as a reminder not to take life too seriously – there’s nothing like chuckling at a blatant ‘ugly’ when scrolling through your Instagram feed of otherwise flawless, filtered faces to brighten your day! In response to the ‘ugly’, Sarah, a Victoria University Student says the ‘ugly’ puts her personality back into self-documentation, “it makes taking selfies fun and a bit of a laugh. I think it’s healthy to be able to take the piss out of ourselves and laugh at ourselves. I think other people respect and enjoy it, too.”
  3. Selfies and self-esteem: Although many people believe the selfie is rooted in narcissism and conceit, psychologists say that in moderation selfies are a feel-good and creative way to chronicle our lives and express our personalities; that in which, people who post selfies assert they are in control of they want to feel. When we post a selfie and we receive likes or compliments we feel a boost in our esteem and perceived value of self-worth, it’s like, “I look good and I know it”, but you telling me I look good is going to make me feel even better. As Rutledge says, “it is innately human to seek acknowledgement, approval and acceptance, we are social beings, driven by the need for connection and social validation.” In simpler terms, there’s nothing wrong with a few compliments to boost the old self-esteem!

However, such as everything with life you need to find the balance. So to all the selfie-goers who abuse the selfie, moderation is key because when you post too many you contribute the ridicule and stigma of the selfie phenomenon and you give every other normal selfie-taker a bad rep! We’re not all conceited and self-obsessed, we aren’t all crying out in a desperate plea for validation and attention, nor do we all take selfies stuck in traffic like “haha #stuckintraffic”, to which case you just need told to #keepyoureyesonthedamnroad.

For me, selfies are a fun way to share your experiences with others. Be it lounging around home in trackies or out getting coffee, they are a way to positively capture and upload how good we are feeling in that moment. In this way, the selfie creates an accepting community of people all over the world, sharing the good vibes and promoting self-love. But as it’s now starting to sound more like a hippie cult than an online affinity, I’ll end it here.