I Am Within The Wildest War Inside Of Myself

Janne Robinson

I am within the wildest war
inside of myself
I want to write down every blink of my father’s brown eyes
ever stroke of his brown
salt and peppered grey beard
I want to write the White of his cigarette papers
the marijuana he hides secretly in his ring
I want to write the red tile
the yellow tile
the blue tile
dancing in his garden
with the large heart rock
I want to write the smell of his house
made all of natural elements
from his hands
of his bed
full of thyme
of his ritual area–where he does Osho dances and yoga and shakes himself wildly awake
I want to write of the way his clothes fall on nails beside the fireplace
wrinkled and loved
I want to write of the green pears he brings me in a brown plastic bag
how he drives every few days deep into the mountains
to gather fresh water from a spout
in large plastic bottles
because he doesn’t believe in the well water from below the ground
I want to write of the way he lights up when he is excited by something
how he laughs and says I go crazy for the figs
and the colours
I lose myself for the figs
I want to write of the yellow plastic bags that he tied in the mountains
so I could find his house
that he calls the roads
earth streets
and tells me
if you get lost
just shout
and I will come find you
I want to write of his orange shirt
with frayed sides
his style is so beautiful
and feminine
many men think that I am gay he says
cigarette between his lips
but I know from the man above my White House in the mountains I am renting
“your father was wildly handsome, you know? He’s been with 100’s of women. I was jealous of him.”
I wish to write the way his cheeks move when he eats
as he has no teeth
and how he is handsome still
I wish to write of the sparkle in his eyes as he shows me the things he makes with stones
of his excitement as he throws water upon the dusty stones
and they shine red or lustrous black
how he exclaims
look! look!
how he believes these are the real riches
I wish to write the pure soul of him
one that many here wouldn’t understand
for Tertsa is small
and he exists with the simplicity and richness in his mind that many have not touched
and will not touch

And some of the people laugh at him for his thoughts are grande and larger than he world some people live within
I wish for him to be not mocked
but celebrated as I celebrate his thoughts
some people will never understand
I forgive them
but wish for people to see his light
as it is great
there is nothing small about his presence

I wish to write you and tell you of the time we walked through the streets of Heraklion
his small brown arm with an orange bracelet draped upon mine
of how proud this made me
to be walking arm in arm with my father

My father I found

Of how he bought me leather brown sandals
and a silver ring
of how I could have bought these for myself but I said yes
and received

I wish to tell you that each time he arrives at my White House in the mountains that he brings gifts
small jars of coconut oil
a Robert munch book that my mother gave him 28 years ago
worn and eaten by life yet still attached
a small piece of peppermint
which he wisped underneath my nose
before handing me a leaf to eat
telling me every morning he drinks a warm cup of water and chews a fresh peppermint leaf
He brings a piece of a plant which in Greek is called Louisa
my mother’s name
and we walked
arm and arm to the small village
and I had my father in one hand
and my mother in the other
and how wild that is
your mother used to call me tzatziki
in India
he says laughing

I wish to write you and tell you of how he always chooses a tiny espresso cup
and how wonderful he looks
with his wild hair
and sun hat
in brightly colored orange or pink clothing
drinking from a tiny delicate cup
as he reads me Greek poetry
that I pretend to understand while admiring the way his hands dance when he speaks
admiring the way he’s trying
he is trying

I wish to write you to tell you of the food he makes
fresh vegetables from his garden
of how his face lights up when he tastes the food he has made
of the “pooaaa-pooaaa-pooaaa”
noise that you will only understand after being in Greece
and hearing it escape from his mouth in appreciation for the simple yet extraordinary food he cooks
and how he brought two containers
and looked at me and said
I cooked two dishes–because, well, you are always very hungry
after watching me devour a large chicken souvlaki at lunch
and I laughed
as he may not know that I stress about food
yet I do
and he is right

I wish to write you and tell you of his small car
his tiny hippie car
the new white one
the sister of the blue one that died

It has feathers and necklaces hanging from the mirror
delightful things
gentle things
the doors don’t lock
the seats are dead and he has put pillows and blankets upon them
and sometimes it hurts my back after long drives
but it does the job
one day soon I will leave this car
he says
I will go and live in the caves
maybe when I am 70
(Which is 9 years)
and live up there alone
be in the natural
I wish to die under a tree
and before I die I will make a clear wish that I want my soul to live the next life on a different planet
if there is a different planet
I am done with this planet
and how I sit
wide-eyed in love with the peculiar and wonderful man he is
yet at the same time sit in fear that only after finding him he will retreat into a cave and I will lose him again

I wish to tell you of how the people stare at him
in the gyros shop
in Heraklion
this one young man never stopped starring
I’m not sure if it was him
or me with him
we are probably quite a sight
tanned like olives
my father with wild hair and a large beard like he is maybe Indian
like a guru or a yogi
Round blue glasses like Tommy Chong
I wonder if they know I am his daughter
some people have thought I am his girlfriend
the age is so great now with couples
I guess this is normal
yet with the same ears and body and face in many ways
I wonder if they even look

I wish to write you the sounds of Crete
the roaring from these crickets that are not crickets
that live on the trees
with large wings
they yell louder than anything I have ever heard
It is overwhelming at dusk and dawn when I walk in the dried river
through dusty roads with yellow dead grass weeping at my tired feet
as I make the journey again and again
back to that which I fear and want most

I wish to tell you of the part of me that so badly wants to run
the part of me that is wounded so deeply by my fathers choice to not raise me
not see the photograph of me as a child and the letter from my mother when I was 1
And write back
to know
to be

this part of me has its heels planted deeply and is terrified to be here
even though I am here
this part of me is angry and spiteful and says
for what?
he didn’t come

Yet I am here
sitting at the table
underneath a large cedar tree
eating the brown buds of the cedar tree
sitting under the moon
by candlelight
as my father hates lights
hates electricity
hates computers
hates cellphones
hates the advancement our world has claimed
holding him adoringly in my eyes

Yet I am here
In his small white car
with eyes full of blue salty tears
speaking the anger and hurt and fears in my heart

Yet I am here
in his village full of 60 people
with two restaurants
and one hotel
swimming in the sea that is me
eating gallons of olive oil
and discovering new parts inside of me

Yet I am here
in a small taverna
pulling forth that inside of me which may save me
be a salvation to the suffering I have endured
in this gap in my childhood
two amazing loving mothers
yet I always wanted to know
of course
why would we not want to know where we came from

And he is here
I will get this phone
he says
with this video
[face time]
and I will try this time
this time
it is different
I feel strong
you are a part of me
and you deserve to know me
and I am also curious about you
I want to see
for us to go together

And I hear it
in the way his hand holds mine
and assures me
that I don’t need to buy the phone
that he will

And I hear it in the woman in the restaurant in Myrtos
who when I say I am visiting
and her eyes bug
and she says
only 8 days?
and he replies
but she will make many more trips

And I struggle with whether I can forgive
with whether he deserves my forgiveness after choosing to not be in my life for 21 years
yet my mentor gently reminds me
forgiveness isn’t about him
it is about you
and healing yourself

And yet I want to forgive him
and not have such a weight in my chest when people ask me
what of your father
and to not reply
he lives in Greece
but we have only met once
I want to be rid of this story
and simply to reply
yes, he lives in Greece

I wish to write all these things
and I wish to write nothing
for I want to be here in all that there is
and all that I am.

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/janne-robinson/2017/11/i-am-within-the-wildest-war-inside-of-myself/

Cutting Down on Cow Burps to Ease Climate Change

In a cream-colored metal barn two hours north of Wellington, New Zealand, a black-and-white dairy cow stands in what looks like an oversize fish tank. Through the transparent Plexiglas walls, she can see three other cows in adjacent identical cubicles munching their food in companionable silence. Tubes sprout from the tops of the boxes, exchanging fresh air for the stale stuff inside. The cows, their owners say, could help slow climate change.

Livestock has directly caused about one-quarter of Earth’s warming in the industrial age, and scientists from the U.S. departments of agriculture and energy say bigger, more resource-heavy cattle are accelerating the problem. Contrary to popular belief, cows contribute to global warming mostly through their burps, not their flatulence. So about a dozen scientists here at AgResearch Grasslands, a government-owned facility, are trying to develop a vaccine to stop those burps. “This is not a standard vaccine,” says Peter Janssen, the anti-burp program’s principal research scientist. “It’s proving to be an elusive little genie to get out of the bottle.”

The effort isn’t entirely altruistic. Grasslands is dedicated to boosting New Zealand’s dominant agriculture and biotech industries, and the country’s biggest company, Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd., a $14 billion dairy processor, has vowed to increase its milk exports without increasing carbon emissions. But 2017 is set to be the third-hottest year on record—the top two were 2016 and 2015—so the globe can use all the help it can get, business-minded or not. “It’s essential to reduce global livestock emissions in order to reduce climate change consistent with what countries signed up to under the Paris Agreement,” says Andy Reisinger, deputy director of the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre.

Photographer: Jake Mein for Bloomberg Businessweek

Janssen and his team are trying to purge cow stomachs of methanogens, the microbes that convert hydrogen into methane, a potent greenhouse gas. It’s an unexpectedly delicate and difficult task, because cows rely on a host of other bacteria, fungi, and protozoa in their guts to digest the grasses they eat. Researchers have tried feeding them oregano, tea extracts, probiotics, antibiotics, seaweed (too toxic), coconut oil (too expensive), chloroform (too carcinogenic), and even leftover grains from beer brewing (which made cows poop more nitrous oxide, another greenhouse gas).

So far no vaccine has progressed far enough to be given to the cows in the cubicles, where methane output can be measured. The vaccine must first be successfully tested in the lab and on sheep. Although the scientists have figured out how to produce the desired antibodies in the cows, the animals continue to merrily burp. Janssen’s team is looking for proteins they can use to concoct a stronger vaccine, one that will better prime the cows’ immune systems to attack methanogens. A single methanogen genome has 2,000 proteins, so they’ve narrowed their search to a handful of candidates, which they think could knock out the gassiest microbes.

A cow is led into the methane measurement center.
Photographer: Jake Mein for Bloomberg Businessweek

The hunt for a vaccine costs about $1.4 million a year, about two-thirds of which comes from the New Zealand government. Industry supplies the rest. The money is part of a $7.5 million pool for curbing farming gases meant to address New Zealand’s status as the world’s highest per capita methane emitter. Janssen says it may take five years or longer to create the right vaccine, but it will do much more to reduce bovine emissions than a treatment that Dutch company DSM is developing for bucket-fed cows. That’s because the vaccine will work just as well for grazers. “There aren’t too many ruminants in the world where the animals never get to eat grass,” he says, noting that even cows fattened with feed in a controlled environment typically start out in pastures.

DSM used computers to create a methane-blocking molecule called 3-nitrooxypropanol, or 3-NOP, that appears to cut burped methane by about a third when sprinkled on a cow’s food. The company, whose annual research and development budget is $500 million, is waiting for approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is likely to take at least two more years. “For developed countries, this is the most promising technology at this point,” says Alexander Hristov, a Penn State professor of dairy nutrition who’s tested 3-NOP for DSM. The New Zealanders are leading the vaccine hunt, he says, but they haven’t developed a proven product they can offer to farmers.

Dairy cows at Massey University, which supplies cows for AgResearch.
Photographer: Jake Mein for Bloomberg Businessweek

Janssen, a bespectacled man with the lanky limbs of a longtime mountain explorer, says his team is also working on substances similar to 3-NOP that could be given in pill form. A complicating factor: No one knows how low-methane a cow can go without hurting its health or productivity. Trials suggest cows that burp less seem to cope fine, but scientists want to make sure there are no unintended consequences, such as reduced milk quality or quantity. “We need to understand where that tipping point is,” Janssen says.

Humans are the final hurdle. Canadian scientists created low-polluting pigs almost a decade ago, but people wouldn’t buy the genetically modified pork. “Farmers will produce what the consumer demands,” says Tim McAllister, who’s conducting trials of 3-NOP and other methane-reduction techniques for the Canadian government at the Lethbridge Research and Development Centre in Alberta. Soaring global demand for meat makes climate concerns pressing. North of Wellington, the cows seem content in their tanks, turning to watch as Janssen strides between their boxes. For now, their burps are packed with methane, but they may not have to be.

    BOTTOM LINE – Researchers are painstakingly hunting for compounds that can quell methane-packed cow burps but will still have to sell regulators and the public on the science.

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-29/cutting-down-on-cow-burps-to-ease-climate-change

    People Are Sharing Shitty Life Tips, And Theyre Just Too Funny (New Pics)

    Life hacks are awesome. Handy short cuts that let you get the boring stuff done quicker and easier, giving you more time to get on with the more important stuff, like playing with your dog or saving the world.

    These life hacks however, are not that. These are parody life hacks, life hacks so creatively useless that the only thing they are good for is making you giggle uncontrollably. Which I guess is an end unto itself right? This is the sequel to our previous pro-tip shit list, which proved wildly popular!

    Scroll down the list below and marvel at the absurdity of it all, but whatever you do don’t take any of this terrible advice on board, as some of them are actually pretty dangerous. Do vote for your favourite though!

    Read more: http://www.boredpanda.com/shitty-life-hacks/

    A whole bunch of startups are trying to be the next Blue Apron, but for baby food

    Little Spoon is one of several baby food startups competing for millennial parents.
    Image: Shutterstock / MaraZe

    In 2017, you might think, what is there left to disrupt? 

    There’s baby food. 

    A crop of new startups are trying to bring meal kit delivery, subscription services, and a tech approach to the mashed-up foods parents have fed their children for millennia. 

    Jennifer Garner co-founded the baby food delivery startup Once Upon a Farm. The startup Yumi offers a similar service. Raised Real has parents blend the baby food themselves in a special machine (sound familiar?). A few meal-delivery startups for adults have added baby food offerings, though the biggest names haven’t yet followed suit. 

    Baby food entrepreneurs are quick to say they’re disrupting a $55 billion industry. And the reason they’re convinced it’ll work? Millennial parents. 

    “Most new parents right now are millennials.” 

    “Most new parents right now are millennials,” said Lisa Barnett, co-founder of the baby food startup Little Spoon. “There are different behaviors and different needs millennials have that previous generations of new parents didn’t have. And that change is accelerating now because more and more millennials are having children.” 

    Millennial parents are more likely to have dual-income households, care more about knowing what goes in their food, and are more open to trying services that help with annoying daily tasks. Those are problems that the traditional baby food brands like Gerber’s aren’t trying too hard to solve. 

    Little Spoon, which launched in April, is the first baby food startup to move beyond home delivery. The startup is offering a new Blueprint service that has parents fill out health information about their children and designs a customized nutrition plan. 

    Parents tell Little Spoon when their child was born, their birth height and weight, if they were delivered by C-section, their head circumference, if they have any food allergies, what foods they’ve been exposed to so far, their level of appetite, if they’ve taken any antibiotics, and if they breastfed or drank formula. 

    The Little Spoon blueprint.

    Image: little spoon

    Based on that information, Little Spoon offers different nutrition plans. A child in a lower percentile for height or weight in a family that doesn’t have a history of that will get foods with more calories and more healthy fats. A child with an iron deficiency will get a higher proportion of iron and a child who might be missing out on some nutrients due to food allergies will get a plan that accounts for that. A baby who was delivered via C-section—so wasn’t exposed to the bacteria that babies get when delivered via the birth canal—gets a meal plan that accounts for that lack of exposure. 

    Danielle Grant, a pediatrician based in Austin, Texas, said building a nutrition plan based on these data points wouldn’t be necessary for most parents but wouldn’t be harmful. 

    “It’s a preference,” Grant said. “Height and weight at current visit would be important. And being formula fed versus breastfed is a big question that could determine a type of plan because breast milk is missing some vitamin D formula has and formula is missing some nutrients breastmilk has.” 

    All of Little Spoon’s meals that take into account these factors are organic, with blends like Beet Tahini Chickpea Apple Brown Rice Cardamom and Pea Carrot Apple Dill Coconut Oil. 

    This all makes feeding your baby sound incredibly complicated, and Little Spoon is trying to reach a certain kind of parent. Some parents who use Little Spoon, Barnett said, are overwhelmed by the switch from breast milk or formula to blends and solid foods and want to make sure they’re feeding their children the right combination of nutrients. 

    Little Spoon is trying to reach a certain kind of parent. 

    “For adult [meal kits], it’s really just a time thing,” Barnett said. “For your child, it’s that you have to feed them food and there aren’t many options out there they’re ready to eat. It’s about a trust factor. Our authority is really important to parents.” 

    Little Spoon offers meals for children from the “first bite” between four and six months up through 18 months. Parents get a delivery of at least 14 meals every two weeks, which costs a starting rate of $34.50 a week. The food needs to be kept cold and lasts for the two weeks it’s intended to. Once it’s opened, it’s good for about that same day. 

    The startup’s founders, with backgrounds in retail, food, and venture capital, priced their food around statistics that say the median household income for families with children is $70,000 a year. It costs about the same as buying your baby food at Whole Foods, but definitely costs more than Gerber’s. 

    The meal plan starts with simple, single-ingredient foods before moving to the blends that mix multiple ingredients and all superfoods, spices, and textured foods like rice and quinoa. 

    Next, Little Spoon—and its competitors—could move into finger foods and feeding children past 18 months. 

    “If you look at all the baby food that exists out there ready-to-eat, it’s been sitting there longer than the baby eating it has been alive,” Barnett said. 

    May the best baby-food startup win. 

    Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/22/baby-food-delivery-startups-little-spoon/

    It tears every part of your life away: the truth about male infertility

    Men are facing a fertility crisis, so why is most practical and emotional support offered to couples struggling to conceive aimed at women?

    James and Davina DSouza met and fell in love in their early 20s. They got married five years later, and three years afterwards had saved enough to buy a family home in a quiet cul-de-sac in London. Then, when Davina was 29 and James 33, they started trying for a baby.

    I knew that the moment we bought a home, wed start a family, Davina tells me in their living room, beside shelves crammed with framed photos of nieces, nephews, cousins and siblings. My parents live down the road, and if I needed help to raise a child, my mum would be here.

    We thought about all of that stuff, James adds. The job, the future, the house, the home: we make things happen.

    But after a year of trying, nothing had happened. Davina went to their GP, who referred her for the kind of invasive tests that have become the norm for women who experience problems conceiving: she had an internal, transvaginal scan to check her womb for fibroids, and an HSG test, where dye was pushed into her fallopian tubes to see if they were blocked. Everything looked normal.

    It was only then that anyone suggested testing James. He had his semen analysed, and was told that only 1% of his sperm were formed normally. Still, it only takes one, the consultant said. She told them not to worry and to carry on trying. Two years after Davina came off the pill, James was tested again. This time, he had no normally formed sperm at all.

    My first thought was, Oh, its my fault, James says, quietly. He stares at the coffee table through his thick-framed glasses. I felt helpless. No one was talking about this stuff. Youd go online and there was no male conversation. Id Google problems having a baby or fertility issues, and the websites that came up were all pink. Id post in a forum and women would respond on behalf of their husbands. There was nothing for men.

    Though he may have felt it, James is not alone. Across the western world, men are facing a fertility crisis. A landmark study by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, published in July, showed that among men from Europe, North America and Australia, sperm counts have declined by almost 60% in less than 40 years. Fertility specialists have described it as the most robust study of its kind (the researchers came to their conclusions after reviewing 185 previous studies involving 43,000 men from across the globe) and the findings are stark. Such a significant decline in male reproductive health over a relatively short period in such a specific population suggests theres something in the way we live now that means its much harder for men to become fathers than a generation ago.


    Until recently, the focus of both fertility experts and research scientists has been overwhelmingly on womens bodies, while male reproductive health has been almost ignored. For decades, the average age of both fathers and mothers has been increasing, but its women who have felt the pressure of balancing the need to invest in their careers with the so-called timebomb of their own declining fertility. They have been encouraged to put family first and to change their lifestyles if they want to become mothers, at the same time as male fertility appears to have fallen off a cliff.

    Davina says the consultant gynaecologist who was treating her and James had no hesitation about next steps. She said, Jamess sperm results are in, and we think you should go for IVF. That was it. The NHS didnt have any other options for us. Indeed, the NHS couldnt even fund any IVF in their area at that time, so they had to scrape the money together to go private. They spent more than 12,000 on two rounds of IVF, and were finally offered a third round on the NHS this year. But after nearly seven years of trying for a baby, they are still childless.

    IVF takes a huge physical, hormonal and emotional toll on a woman, James tells me. Sometimes I felt totally powerless, ineffective. I questioned my masculinity, my sense of myself as a man, through those rounds of IVF. During consultations, James felt the conversations were always directed at Davina. I felt like I had to say, Im here. Id deliberately ask a question to make my presence felt.

    On their first round of IVF, someone at the clinic recommended James take a vitamin supplement. It was the first time lifestyle factors had been mentioned. That was when I realised, maybe there is something I can do, he says between slurps of his own blend of bulletproof coffee (made with grass-fed butter, coconut oil and egg yolk). James, head of sixth form at a local school, is a fan of self-help books. Hes been on a high-fat, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet for months and says its done him good: hes slim and spry, but says he wasnt always this way. Hes wearing a digital fitness tracker. But as someone who rarely drinks, has never smoked and doesnt ride a bike, there were few lifestyle changes he could make, beyond taking colder showers and wearing looser underwear. Still, his sperm quality has improved.

    At the moment, the couples fertility problems are unexplained. They decided against adoption when social workers said theyd have to use contraception during the process, because it wouldnt be fair on an adopted child to move into a home with a new baby, and they arent prepared to stop trying just yet.

    Weve talked about when were going to call it a day, James says.

    Davina glances at him with wet eyes. It makes me sad to think well be putting a cap on it.

    But it regularly comes up, he says. We did actually say at the end of this year well stop. Ive been asking, Why do we want to have children? Weve decided it isnt going to define us.

    There is treatment for male infertility, but its certainly not in the fertility clinic, says Sheryl Homa, scientific director of Andrology Solutions, the only clinic licensed by the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority to focus purely on male reproductive health in the UK. Men are channelled from their GP with a semen analysis and sent straight to a gynaecologist in an IVF clinic. But gynaecologists are interested in the female reproductive tract.

    A former clinical embryologist, Homa once led IVF laboratories in both the private and public sectors. I was quite horrified by the lack of investigation and appropriate management of male infertility, she says, so I decided to start my own clinic specifically to focus on male fertility diagnosis and investigation. Male reproductive health is being assessed through semen analysis, which she argues has a very poor correlation with fertility. Instead of having their detailed medical history taken and a full physical examination, men are being given a cup and asked to produce a sample.

    Homa says the leading cause of male infertility (around 40%) is varicocele (a clump of varicose veins in the testes). It can be determined from a physical exam, and can certainly be ruled out by an ultrasound scan. All women get ultrasound scans; why arent men getting them?

    Varicoceles can be repaired by fairly simple surgery under local or general anaesthetic, leading to a significant improvement in a couples chances of successful natural or assisted conception. But many are going undiagnosed. The NHS is carrying out far too many IVF treatments when they could be saving money by doing proper investigations in men.

    Homa says there is also some evidence linking silent infections those with no symptoms, such as chlamydia in men with delayed conception and an increased risk of miscarriage. But if a man is judged by his semen sample alone, there would be no way of addressing these hidden concerns.

    Apart from saving the NHS money, there are important medical reasons why men should be thoroughly examined, Homa argues. Semen parameters are a marker of underlying systemic illness: they might have diabetes, they might have kidney disease, they might have cardiac problems. It could be something much more serious thats contributing to the problem.

    As for the possible reasons for falling sperm counts across the west, Homa mentions all the chemicals and pesticides that we are exposed to in our environment, as well as smoking, rising levels of obesity and increasingly sedentary lifestyles. But at the moment, ideas such as these including hormones in the water and BPA in plastics that might mimic the effect of oestrogen inside the body are just theories that make intuitive sense. In the absence of widespread research over time, no one can pinpoint exactly which factor or combination of factors is making the difference.

    In the 10 years her clinic has been operating, Homa has seen demand for her services steadily rise. She says she gets the fallout from men whove been sent by their GP for multiple rounds of fertility treatments that fail, when IVF should be the last resort. But at the moment, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) guidelines give GPs no option but to refer men with fertility problems to IVF clinics. If theres a female problem, the GP will refer them to a gynaecology clinic. If theres a male problem, they need to be referring to a consultant urologist who deals with male infertility. But its just not happening.

    Gareth Down and his wife, Natalie, went through 10 rounds of IVF before their son, Reece, was born. Photograph: Harry Borden for the Guardian

    In some ways, Gareth Down and his wife, Natalie, were lucky: they knew from the start that their problems conceiving were probably down to Gareth, because he had had surgery to remove benign lumps on his testes as a teenager, and always feared they might interfere with his chances of becoming a father. But after 10 cycles of IVF that cost them tens of thousands of pounds, and several miscarriages, lucky doesnt feel like the right word.

    I always wanted kids, says Gareth, 31. My mum was a childminder, and I was brought up looking after kids, so from as young as I can remember, weve had a house full of them. He and Natalie started trying for a baby six months before their wedding in 2010, and went to the GP a year later, when nothing had happened. Gareth was referred to a urologist, who confirmed that the surgery hed had as a teen had affected his sperm production, and that he had azoospermia: a zero sperm count.

    The Downs were determined to have children, but trying almost broke them. It invades every part of your life, Gareth says. On a personal level, you have to confront the fact that you might not have a family. It affects you financially, as you try and save to fund the treatment. We had family fallouts because we couldnt see newborn nieces and nephews we just couldnt be around babies. We changed jobs because time off with certain employers was difficult. I had quite a customer-facing job at one point, and when they were telling me about their problems, I was thinking, You aint got problems. He pauses. I dont think there was any part of who we were that we held on to by the end. It tears just about every part of your life away.

    Gareth has just put his 16-month-old son, Reece, to bed while Natalie is still at work. Reece was conceived with donor sperm, on their 10th round of IVF, when Natalie had had enough of the heartache of fertility treatment and was convinced they should give up. After going through so much to have him, their first feeling when Reece was finally born was not joy, but disbelief. It was surreal, says Gareth. I dont think either of us could accept it was real and going to last. Wed had so many ups and downs that we couldnt believe nothing bad was going to happen. We kept checking the cot to see if he was still there. It was weeks before we realised he was not going to be taken away from us.

    It was during their final attempt to have a baby that Gareth set up his closed, men-only Facebook group, Mens Fertility Support. Over the years, Natalie had found a lot of comfort online, from forums and support pages to Facebook groups, and was surrounded by an international community of women going through the same experience. Gareth had tried to contribute in the same places, but never stuck around long. There were no other men there to relate to what you were saying, or make you feel you could say what you meant and that it wouldnt be taken the wrong way by an audience that vastly outnumbered you.

    The 300 or so members of his group are a diverse mix of men, mostly from the UK. Some are just beginning to have problems with conception, others went through it decades ago; some never had a happy ending and are there to share their experiences that a life beyond trying to have a family is possible. Many members say its the only place they can be totally honest: the belief that the ability to father children is a marker of masculinity has left many unwilling to talk about their issues anywhere else.

    We do get women wanting to join, Gareth tells me with a smile, but we want a degree of privacy. Its about having freedom to talk, to say, yes, those [IVF] hormones really do screw her up and its really tough. You need to be able to vent somewhere without causing offence to anyone you know.

    Everyone Gareth and Natalie told about their problems conceiving assumed the issue must be hers. Every step of the way it was, Poor Nat whats going on with her? But he hopes that men are starting to seek help. If it was any other part of your body that wasnt working properly, youd seek advice. Slowly, those barriers are beginning to come down a bit.

    He wonders whether the new figures on declining sperm counts could have been coloured by this growth in awareness: fertility treatments are more in demand than ever, so more men are having their fertility investigated. Are we just testing more, looking into things more? he asks. If you had fertility problems 40 years ago, you wouldnt have wanted to confront it or had anywhere to go with it.

    Dr Xiao-Ping Zhai, the fertility specialist behind the Zhai Clinic, agrees. We never really tested men in the past, and if you use the word decline, you have to have something to compare it to. In the past, people probably had problems, didnt want to say they had problems, and didnt have children. Even though the Hebrew University of Jerusalem study is the best piece of research weve had so far, she points out, the data from 40 years ago is still very thin.

    Trained both in western and traditional Chinese medicine, Zhai has a unique perspective on fertility treatment and, since she opened her Harley Street clinic more than 20 years ago, claims shes had a great deal of success in helping couples conceive even though many patients come to her out of desperation rather than faith in traditional medicine. Its mainly women who call to make the appointments. Eighty per cent of the time, the partner doesnt even want to come along. They dont think they have a problem.

    Rather than look at sperm counts, Zhai takes a full health MOT of all her patients, using diagnostics from Chinese medicine to find out which part of the body needs to be addressed: You find that a lot of people have something that cant be discovered on a scan or through mechanical investigation what wed call a functional problem. Zhai offers a range of treatments according to the patients specific constitution, including acupuncture, herbal supplements and advice on lifestyle changes and diet. None of this is cheap: an initial consultation costs 250, and a four-week course of bespoke herbal supplements can cost up to 350.

    But IVF treatment on Harley Street costs even more, and Zhai says many of her patients arrive in the consulting room having already spent lots of money. Its to do with the culture here: in the UK, if a man has a problem, then the woman needs IVF. IVF clinics can offer only what they specialise in.

    In 2014, Zhai launched a national campaign to end the stigma attached to male infertility and improve the treatment choices offered to men. She called for a full parliamentary debate on male fertility issues, and on health secretary Jeremy Hunt to work with doctors to improve practice and treatment pathways for men within the NHS. But there has been no debate and no change in NHS strategy. There are too few options for infertile patients, Zhai says. It will take a long, long time to overcome this culture.

    The doctor who rang with Gary Parsons sperm count results simply said it was game over. Photograph: Harry Borden for the Guardian

    Gary and Kim Parsons went to their GP two years after Kim stopped taking the pill, when there was still no sign of pregnancy. She went through all the regular tests blood tests and then more invasive examinations and everything came back A-OK, says Gary, 36, from his home in Burnham-on-Sea. Then it was my turn. Like James, Gary had no physical examination and was asked only to produce a sample to check his sperm count. That came back as a big fat zero. There was nothing to count.

    When the doctor rang to deliver the results, he said it was game over. Gary blinks in disbelief when he tells me this. I really didnt need any encouragement to feel more down about things, so that was an unfortunate turn of phrase. Gary thinks this may have been because it was a conversation between men. That extreme, direct way of communicating might have been the only way he thought he could get me to understand that this is not something where I could drink a kale smoothie and everything would be OK.

    Still, thats what Gary tried, at first. Or, rather, he turned to vitamin supplements and a high-protein diet in the hope they could help. Im a vegetarian, so for a second I thought, Oh no, Im one of these anaemic, lentil-based stereotypes. But, ultimately, he knew this probably wouldnt help because his count wasnt low it was zero. There was nothing to improve. Thats the thing Ive found hardest. Most problems Ive had in my life Ive overcome with either bloody-mindedness or effort, and thats not this, he says, shaking his head. Thats not this.

    Garys infertility remains unexplained. The next step is for him to have a testicular sperm extraction procedure, to find out if hes producing sperm that are being blocked, which could potentially be extracted for use in assisted conception. Three years after they started trying for a baby, this will be the first time he will be examined beyond blood tests and semen samples.

    Without Gareth Downs Facebook group, it would have been hard to find someone to talk to. Gary is a counsellor, and when he looked at who was registered with the British Infertility Counselling Association, the professional body for fertility counsellors in the UK, he found that the 46 registered practitioners were all women. Emotional support provision for men is glaring in its absence, he says. Its just a case of, On your bike, son. Get on with it.

    The way that men are treated as the secondary partner in infertility treatment could have worrying consequences, he says. All the paperwork goes through the female. Everything is done through my wife. In meetings, its been very rare that Ive even been able to get any eye contact from a consultant so far. It occurred to me that, should my wife leave me, I would have no mechanism for resolving this, or getting any questions answered, and that would have an impact in terms of maybe meeting someone new, or even knowing if Im able to be a parent one day.

    Edinburgh University professor Richard Sharpe, an expert in sperm count and male fertility, believes the University of Jerusalem studys findings should be taken very seriously. If something is having that big an effect something in our environment, diet, lifestyle, and we dont know what it is what else might it be doing to us? We think of sperm counts as a fairly crude barometer of overall male health. Its a warning shot across our bows.

    Sharpe has been specialising in male infertility for 25 years, but even he can offer only general hypotheses about what could have made sperm counts fall by 60% in little over a generation. He thinks diet and lifestyle are much more likely to be contributory factors than environmental chemicals such as pesticides, plastics and hormones in the water, because the evidence that they could induce such striking effects at low levels of exposure is unconvincing. But our understanding of the normal process of sperm production is very poor, completely superficial, he says. Its a much more complex process to understand than the menstrual cycle, and we havent done enough research.

    There is a chance that women might ultimately be behind the sudden drop in sperm count, Sharpe believes. His work has looked at the link between rates of maternal smoking and the use of painkillers during pregnancy, and the reduced sperm counts of sons in adulthood. A baby boys testes are formed during the first trimester, when many women dont know theyre pregnant, and the period immediately after their formation is critical for the production of testosterone. What we are seeing now could be the expression of a generational problem: the fact that, since the 1970s, women are more likely than ever to smoke and take over-the-counter painkillers.

    But, again, the evidence isnt strong enough. There are four studies that all show a significant association between maternal smoking and reduction in sperm counts in male offspring, so its plausible, he says, but it cant explain the 60% fall, because not so many women smoke and smoke heavily. A longitudinal study, over 20 years, would be needed to demonstrate the effects of maternal lifestyle on male fertility, but long-term research projects are inherently difficult to get funding for, unless public bodies think the issue is critically important. Male fertility is not considered a high-priority issue, partly because theres this perception that its a problem solved by assisted reproduction. Thats not treatment of the underlying issue behind male infertility. Its simply ignoring it.

    We may be sleepwalking into a future where we become increasingly dependent on assisted reproduction, Sharpe argues, without fully understanding the long-term consequences of the technologies were relying upon. Researchers have already demonstrated in animals that its possible to make sperm out of other kinds of cell. People are going to do this in humans not in the UK, initially, but they will somewhere in the world. Those techniques are going to be applied in the fertility clinic, but we dont have the knowledge to do it in a truly informed way, to know that its all safe, that there are no consequences.

    Whatever the reasons for our underinvestment in male fertility lack of funding and research, male pride or the overemphasis on women in fertility treatment it has huge implications for both men and women. Were flying blind to a large extent, and so far weve been ridiculously lucky, Sharpe says. Its a perfect storm, at every level.

    Commenting on this piece? If you would like your comment to be considered for inclusion on Weekend magazines letters page in print, please email weekend@theguardian.com, including your name and address (not for publication).

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/nov/18/tears-every-part-life-truth-male-infertility-ivf

    Old 10 note to disappear next year

    Image copyright Nick Ansell/PA
    Image caption The old £10 mote is soon to go the way of the old pound coin

    If you still have any old £10 notes, make sure you spend them before 1 March next year.

    The Bank of England has announced that the old paper notes, featuring naturalist Charles Darwin, will no longer be legal tender after that date.

    Its days have been numbered since the new polymer tenner, depicting author Jane Austen, entered circulation in September.

    But the old note can still be exchanged by the Bank after the cut-off date.

    Threadneedle Street says polymer, also now used for the £5 note featuring Winston Churchill, is more durable and cleaner than paper notes.

    Security features of Jane Austen £10 note:

    1. A see-through window featuring the Queen’s portrait
    2. Winchester Cathedral shown in gold foil on the front of the note and silver on the back
    3. A quill at the side of the window which changes from purple to orange
    4. A hologram which contains the word “Ten” and changes to “Pounds” when the note is tilted
    5. A hologram of the coronation crown which appears 3D and multi-coloured when the note is tilted
    6. Micro-lettering beneath the Queen’s portrait with tiny letters and numbers that are visible under a microscope
    7. A book-shaped copper foil patch which contains the letters JA
    8. The words “Bank of England” printed in intaglio (raised ink) along the top of the note

    It has persevered with the material despite complaints from religious and vegan groups that the animal fat tallow is used in the production process.

    Following consultation, the Bank said in August that it would continue with the use of tallow in future banknotes – saying it “has not taken this decision lightly”.

    The Bank assessed whether palm oil or coconut oil should be used instead, but concluded that this might not be able to be sourced sustainably. Changing production would also involve considerable extra costs to taxpayers.

    The old £10 notes have been in circulation since November 2000, but lost out to the new ones on grounds of security as well as durability.

    The Jane Austen notes have a number of features built in that make them particularly hard to forge.

    They also have an inscription in raised dots that helps blind and partially-sighted users to identify them.

    The end of the old paper tenner follows the official withdrawal last month of the old round £1 coin, which has now been wholly replaced by the new 12-sided version.

    Related Topics

    Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41974386

    Nine “Health” Foods That You’d Be Better Off Avoiding

    Food-wise, it can be hard to keep up with what is healthy and what is not. When nutritionists decided that (healthy) fats, carbohydrates, and coffee weren’t so bad after all, we could all breathe a deep sigh of relief. But what about some of the so-called “health” foods that aren’t as good for you as they’re made out to be? Here are nine health fads that might be worth ditching. 

    Fruit juices and smoothies

    Freshly squeezed orange juice and a green smoothie straight from the Nutribullet – it’s fruit and vegetables so it must be good for you, right? From a nutritional standpoint, juices are a whole load better for you than your regular, sugar-laden fizzy drink. If it’s freshly squeezed, you get most of the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients from the whole fruit (and obviously that’s a good thing) but the juicing process removes almost all fiber, which is what keeps you feeling full. And because one glass of juice requires more than just one piece of fruit, you are drinking more sugar (a glass of orange juice has six teaspoons of sugar in, nearly the same as a can of full fat Coca-Cola) than you would likely consume had you stuck to one whole fruit. Smoothies aren’t so innocent either.



    Granola tastes good but a lot of its innate deliciousness comes from sugar. It’s also high in carbs and calories but low in protein, and one portion of the “healthy” cereal is a lot smaller than you might imagine. A poll in the New York Times found that more than 70 percent of the public consider granola bars healthy but only 28 percent of nutritionists interviewed will back them up on this view. True, granola is high in fiber and nut varieties contain heart-healthy fats but, given its high sugar content, it might be best to start thinking of it as a dessert rather than a breakfast staple.

    Fat-free or low-fat anything

    If you’re trying to lose weight or eat healthy, swapping out your regular product for a lighter alternative sounds like a no-brainer. That is until you realize food manufacturers regularly add extra sugar or additives to make something fat-free edible, otherwise, it can be rather tasteless. Besides, the right fats in moderation are good for you. Think, avocados and oily fish, which can help protect you against cardiovascular disease, dementia, and different types of cancer. Sugar, on the other hand, can raise your risk of dying from heart disease. Experts reckon you should limit your intake to less than 10 percent of your daily calories.


    Almond milk

    Unless you’re dairy-free, buying almond milk instead of cow’s milk isn’t automatically healthier. In fact, it’s lower in protein and the food manufacturing process makes it harder for your body to absorb and retain all the nutrients. (Most vitamins are added in during the production process.) Besides, regular, dairy milk is full of important nutrients like vitamin A and B12, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and riboflavin. If you don’t have an intolerance and you’re not vegan, there’s no reason to avoid it.


    Massive caveat here – if you are part of the one percent who has celiac disease or a gluten-free intolerance, it’s best to stick to gluten-free alternatives. However, most people who profess to be gluten-sensitive probably aren’t. And foods that contain a gluten-free label aren’t inherently healthier. Some have even suggested they could be worse for you. They often contain added sugar and fat, and fewer nutrients. The verdict: unless you do have a real gluten intolerance, it’s not worth shelling out on gluten-free.


    Dried fruit

    This one’s complicated. Dried fruit isn’t outright bad for you – in fact, it may contain more fiber and antioxidants called phenols than fresh fruit gram-for-gram. But it also contains more sugar and calories. Plus, you’re likely to tuck into a lot more fruit if you have it dried than you would had it been fresh. After all, when was the last time you ate four fresh apricots in a row? Dried apricots, on the other hand, are another story. Just something to keep in mind next time you grab a handful of banana chips or a bag of trail mix for your afternoon snack.

    Agave nectar

    Sorry, sugar is still sugar. It doesn’t matter that it’s labeled “natural” or “organic”, agave nectar and other “healthier” or “natural” sugars (looking at you honey and coconut sugar), are not that much better for you than the white, refined stuff. Agave has been declared a health food because of its low-glycemic index. This means you don’t get that sugar spike and subsequent crash. Instead of glucose, it has an extremely high fructose content. Fructose has been linked to all sorts of conditions, including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and cancer.

    Africa Studio/Shutterstock

    Coconut oil

    Coconut oil has been touted as a healthier alternative to other fats but this is false advertising, says the American Heart Association (AHA). It’s 82 percent saturated fats, which is far higher than either olive oil (14 percent) or your bog-standard chunk of butter (63 percent). Saturated fat raises your “bad” cholesterol levels and is linked to heart disease. Whereas 72 percent of the public thinks coconut oil is good for you, only 37 percent of nutritionists agree.

    Vegetable chips

    If you chose vegetable chips over the regular kind because it’s healthier, you might want to reconsider. Just like potato chips, they’re covered in salt and deep-fried. “Crisps [British for chips] are crisps, and even if they are made with vegetables, they are likely to contain too much in the way of fat, saturated fat and salt. In fact, the vegetable crisps here have higher levels of saturated fat and salt than some well-known, regular crisp brands,” Charlotte Sitling-Reed, a registered nutritionist, told The Independent.

    Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/nine-health-foods-that-youd-be-better-off-avoiding/

    Nkechi Anele from Saskwatch: ‘I’ve hated my hair for most of my life’

    In our series Beauty and the books the lead singer of Saskwatch talks about how coconut oil helped change her feelings about natural hair and the Art of War

    Nkechi Anele, the lead singer for Saskwatch, also hosts Roots n All for Triple J and is the co-founder of The Pin. Anele has been reading an ancient war manual to help her with awkward social situations, and shares her secret weapon against sunburn.

    Whats thrilling

    Im really loving The Art of War. Its a 2,000-year-old military manual that came out of China and is written in code. It talks about tactics on the battlefield but its more philosophical so it can be applied to everyday life how to conduct yourself and how to master changes and challenges. Its all about talking about being on the offence, not on the defence. It can be applied to a lot of things, such as conversations or dealing with awkward social situations or turning awkward situations into your favour.

    Its really good to apply to personal instances of your life like the way you see things and the way you see yourself in everyday life. Its all about taking care of yourself and making sure youre in the best possible position in your life.

    I still havent got over the coconut oil phase. Its been a life changer for me. In the last year Ive followed the natural hair movement of black women and decided to stop having my hair in braids, or feeling like I had to have my hair in braids to feel beautiful. Its been a really big journey and coconut oil has been my hair saviour. Its an all-in-one moisturiser but it also helps curly hair grow; it protects curly hair from the sun. Coconut oil has been part of my transformation into loving my natural hair.

    Turning to natural hair happened in two parts. I had my hair braided and it was braided really badly. I was at my friends house and shes one of those friends who tells the truth. She said, Your hair looks horrible. I have to take it out. I cant stand it. And she took it out.

    Ive had my hair natural a few times in my life but not really loved it. Theres been semi-traumatic experiences such as strangers grabbing my hair and touching my hair in public. This has been an evolution because every day I wake up and think, Today is going to be the day that I hate my hair, and I dont hate my hair. Thats been a really unique thing for me to experience because Ive hated my hair for most of my life.

    Hair is a very significant thing for women of colour, especially African women. My friend explained that hair to African women is like weight to white women. Its very important to maintain and it also establishes how you see yourself and how you feel about yourself in society. It becomes a philosophy: if youre not taking care of your hair, youre not taking care of yourself. The internet and social networking have meant we have a place where people are making black beauty content that isnt trying to say Hey, heres a black option. Its saying, This is what black people do. Now theres so many more resources on how to take care of your hair and so many hacks on how to manage it. Our hair is so intense; so curly and so knotty and so strong. I know so many people who are African and have broken combs with their hair. Its always a battlefield. The natural hair movement has been another step forward for black women in being proud of what theyre born with. Im happy I came to it in my 20s, but I wish I had come to it earlier.

    Whats nostalgia-inducing

    Recently I met Pia Miranda and it reminded me how much I loved Looking for Alibrandi when I first read it. From ages 12 to 17, I think I read the book twice a year. That book for me was the first time experiencing someone who was seen as Australian but not really the idea of Australian. There was this kick-ass chick full of attitude and full of spunk, had these crazy love crushes and was super intelligent, and was the underdog. When I saw [Miranda], it brought back so many memories of how much I loved that book and I really want to reread it.

    Im a moisturising fiend. Im quite obsessed with Aesop at the moment. Ive been using Damascan rose facial treatment ($75) which is like rose oil. The first time I was introduced to Aesop, it was a present my mum gave me the first time I went overseas. Aesop has this smell that reminds me of Australia when I go away. When Im away and using Aesop, I can still smell the gumtrees of home. I live near a park and you can smell the flowers as the seasons change and it reminds me of that.

    What I keep going back to

    Raymond Carvers What We Talk About When We Talk About Love is something I reread again and again, mainly because sometimes you think, What the hell did I just read? The stories are so short and nothing happens but everything happens in them. I have to read them over and over again because, depending on your mood, the stories can be interpreted in so many different ways and have such an impact. Youre reading his short stories and waiting for the punch to happen, for the moment when it all clicks and all makes sense to you.

    Its a classic but Ive only been introduced in the past two years. I still find myself when looking for something to read choosing a random story and thinking, Oh god, this is so epic.

    I bite my lips when Im nervous or when if Im working on something [so] paw paw is my saviour. Its like coconut oil in that I use it for different things but I feel like its the only thing when your lips are dry beyond repair that will work.

    Another thing I use again and again is vitamin E cream. I get sunburnt on one part of my face. Ten years ago my friend put me on to vitamin E cream and its the best thing. Whenever you burn yourself or you want your skin to look really lovely, its just the thing. I rarely wear foundation; I use moisturiser as my foundation. If Im going out and I want to look fresh or dewy thats what I put on my skin. Its the be all and end all for me.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/nov/14/nkechi-anele-ive-hated-my-hair-for-most-of-my-life

    50 Ways To Live On Your Own Terms

    Toa Heftiba

    1. Stop consuming caffeine

    Although people think they perform better on caffeine, the truth is, they really don’t. Actually, we’ve become so dependent on caffeine that we use it to simply get back to our status-quo. When we’re off it, we under perform and become incapable.

    Isn’t this absurd?

    In his book, The Untethered Soul, Michael Singer argues that your energy should come from within — from your why — not from external stimulants.The scientific backing is substantial and unsurprising: intrinsic motivation destroys extrinsic motivation every day of the week.

    Motivation aside — healthy eating, sleeping, and intensive exercise produce higher quantities and quality of energy than caffeine ever could. A holistic approach to life is essential. Garbage in, garbage out.

    Give up the caffeine and see what happens. To avoid withdrawal headaches — which are mostly placebo — replace your caffeine with something else (another placebo). After a few days without caffeine, you’ll develop confidence in your ability to function without it.

    2. Pray or meditate morning, mid-day, and night

    In a recent interview at the Genius Network mastermind event, Joe Polish asked Tony Robbins what he does to get focused. “Do you meditate? What do you do?” Joe asked.

    “I don’t know that I meditate. I don’t know that I want to meditate and think about nothing,” Tony responded, “My goal is clarity.”

    Instead of full-on meditation, Tony has a morning routine that includes several breathing exercises and visualization techniques that get him to a state of clarity and focus. For me, I use prayer and pondering (my version of meditation) as the same vehicle.

    Whatever your approach, the goal should be clarity and focus. What do you want to be about today?

    What few things matter most during the next 24 hours?

    I’ve gotten the best results as:

    • My morning prayer and meditation are 
    • My afternoon prayer and meditation are and 
    • My  prayer and meditation are evaluative and reflective

    3. Read 1 book per week

    Ordinary people seek entertainment. Extraordinary people seek education and learning. It is common for the world’s most successful people to read at least one book per week. They are constantly learning.

    I can easily get through one audiobook per week by just listening during my commute to school and while walking on campus. Taking even 15–30 minutes every morning to read uplifting and instructive information changes you. It puts you in the zone to perform at your highest.

    Over a long enough period of time, you will have read hundreds of books. You’ll be knowledgeable on several topics. You’ll think and see the world differently. You’ll be able to make more connections between different topics.

    Reference #20 on this list if you feel you’re “too busy” to read one book per week. There are methods to make this task extremely easy.

    4. Write in your journal 5 minutes per day

    This habit will change your life. Your journal will:

    • Clear your emotions serving as your personal therapist
    • Detail your personal history
    • Enhance your creativity
    • Ingrain and enhance your learning
    • Help you get clarity on the future you want to create
    • Accelerate your ability to manifest your goals
    • Increase your gratitude
    • Improve your writing skills
    • Lots more

    Five minutes per day is more than enough. Greg McKeown, author of , recommends writing far less than you want to — only a few sentences or paragraphs at most. This will help you avoid burnout.

    5. Marry the person you love

    For all the productivity and success advice I’ve read, shaped and marketed for dozens of authors in the last decade, I’ve never really seen someone come out and say: Find yourself a spouse who complements and supports you and makes you better. — Ryan Holiday

    Research done by economists have found — even after controlling for age, education, and other demographics — that married people make 10 to 50 percent more than single people.

    Why would this be?

    Being married gives you a higher purpose for being productive. You are no longer a lone ranger, but have another person who relies on you.

    Marriage also smacks you in the face with what’s really important in life. Sure, hanging out and partying are fun. But too many people get stuck in this phase and miss the meaning that comes from building a life with someone.

    You will never find a better personal development seminar or book than marriage. It will highlight all of your flaws and weaknesses, challenging you to become a better person than you ever thought possible.

    Said Thomas Monson, “Choose your love; love your choice.” After you’ve chosen the person you love, You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. Said Frankl in “For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”

    6. Make a bucket list and actively knock items off

    Most people have it backwards — they design their ambitions around their life, rather than designing their life around their ambitions (see this free eBook on how to quickly create your ideal life).

    What are the things you absolutely must do before you die?

    Start there.

    Then design your life around those things. Or as Stephen Covey explained in , “Begin with the end clearly in mind.”

    A simple mental exercise that may be helpful is imagining you only have 30 days to live. What would you do in those 30 days?

    Now imagine you have 5 years to live. What would you do during those 5 years?

    Get to work. The death-bed mentality is the only way to live. Stop pretending you’ll live forever. As Professor Harold Hill has said — “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.”

    7. Stop consuming refined sugar

    If you stop consuming sugar, your brain will radically change. Actually, study after study is showing that refined sugar is worse for our brains than it is for our waistlines. According to Dr. William Coda Martin, refined sugar is nothing more than poison because it has been depleted of its life forces, vitamins and minerals.

    Refined sugar has now been shown to make us cranky, make us stupid.

    Again, like caffeine, if you stop eating refined sugar, you will experience some negative withdrawals. But, like any good habit, the effects of this will be seen in the long-run. What would your health be like a year from now (or five) if you were completely refined sugar-free?

    Said Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, “It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.”

    8. Fast from all food and caloric beverages 24 hours once per week

    One-day (24-hour) food fasts are a popular way to maintain health and vigor. Fasting leverages the self-healing properties of the human body. Radical health improvements occur when the digestive system is given rest and the organs get ample time to repair and heal themselves.

    A regular practice of fasting can:

    • Improve digestive efficiency
    • Increase mental clarity
    • Increase physical and mental vigor
    • Remove toxins
    • Improve vision
    • Give a general feeling of well being

    Like all the other habits, fasting gets easier with practice. I’ve been fasting for years and it’s one of the best things I have done for my health.

    Fasting is also one of the most recognized techniques in religious and spiritual practices. I also use fasting to get spiritual clarity and refinement.

    Honestly, I could go on for hours about this one. Give it a try. You’ll never be the same.

    9. Fast from the internet 24 hours once per week

    Your body gets an intervention when you fast. Your mind and relationships could use one too. Unplug yourself from the matrix.

    If you haven’t caught on already, human beings are highly addictive creatures. We love our coffee, sugar, and internet. And these things are all great. But our lives can be far more enhanced by using these tools in wisdom.

    The purpose of the internet fast is to reconnect to yourself and your loved ones. So, you probably shouldn’t do it the same day you do your food fast. Because eating is one of the strongest ways to form bonds.

    You’ll be blown away by how much more connected you feel to your loved ones when you can give them your undivided attention. It may even feel awkward for a while having a real-life conversation without looking at your phone every three minutes.

    10. Stop consuming the news or reading the newspaper

    Although the amount of warfare and deaths by human hands are reducing globally, you will not get that message watching televised news or reading the newspaper.

    On the contrary, these media outlets have an agenda. Their goal is to appeal to your fears by inflating extreme cases — making them seem normal and commonplace. If they didn’t do so, their viewership would plummet. Which is why Peter Diamandis, one of the world’s experts on entrepreneurship and the future of innovation has said, “I’ve stopped watching TV news. They couldn’t pay me enough money.”

    You can get high quality news curated from Google news. When you detox from the toxic filth that is public news, you’ll be startled as your worldview becomes radically more optimistic. There is no objective reality. Instead, we live in perceived realities and are thus responsible for the worldview we adopt.

    11. Do something everyday that terrifies you

    A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.  — Tim Ferriss

    But you don’t have to constantly be battling your fears. Actually, Darren Hardy has said that you can be a coward 99.9305556% of the time (to be exact). You only need to be courageous for 20 seconds at a time.

    Twenty seconds of fear is all you need. If you courageously confront fear for 20 seconds every single day, before you know it, you’ll be in a different socio-economic and social situation.

    Make that call.

    Ask that question.

    Pitch that idea.

    Whatever it is you feel you want to do–do it. The anticipation of the event is far more painful than the event itself. So just do it and end the inner-conflict.

    In most cases, your fears are unfounded. As Seth Godin has explained, our comfort zone and our safety zone are not the same thing. It is completely safe to make an uncomfortable phone call. You are not going to die. Don’t equate the two. Recognize that most things outside your comfort zone are completely safe.

    12. Do something kind for someone else daily

    Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need? Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad? If not, I have failed indeed. Has anyone’s burden been lighter today, because I was willing to share? Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way? When they needed my help was I there?  — Will L. Thompson (music and text)

    If we’re too busy to help other people, we’ve missed the mark. Taking the time to spontaneously — as well as planned — helping other people is one of the greatest joys in life. Helping others opens you up to new sides of yourself. It helps you connect deeper with those you help and humanity in general. It clarifies what really matters in life.

    As Thomas Monson has said, “Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.” That would truly be a failure.

    13. Go to bed early and rise early

    According to countless research studies, people who go to bed and rise early are better students. Harvard biologist Christoph Randler found that early sleep/risers are more proactive and are more likely to anticipate problems and minimize them efficiently, which leads to being more successful in the business.

    Other benefits of going to bed and rising early — backed by research — include:

    • Being a better planner
    • Being holistically healthier as individuals
    • Getting better sleep
    • More optimistic, satisfied, and conscientious

    Waking up early allows you to proactively and consciously design your day. You can start with a morning routine that sets the tone for your whole day. You show self-respect by putting yourself first. In your morning routine, you can pray/meditate, exercise, listen to or read inspiring content, and write in your journal. This routine will give you a much stronger buzz than a cup of coffee.

    14. Get 7+ hours of sleep each night

    Let’s face it: sleep is just as important as eating and drinking water. Despite this, millions of people do not sleep enough and experience insane problems as a result.

    The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) conducted surveys revealing that at least 40 million Americans suffer from more than 70 different sleep disorders; furthermore, 60 percent of adults, and 69 percent of children, experience one or more sleep problems a few nights or more during a week.

    In addition, more than 40 percent of adults experience daytime sleepiness severe enough to interfere with their daily activities at least a few days each month — with 20 percent reporting problem sleepiness a few days a week or more.

    On the flip side, getting a healthy amount of sleep is linked to:

    • Increased memory
    • Longer life
    • Decreased inflammation
    • Increased creativity
    • Increased attention and focus
    • Decreased fat and increased muscle mass with exercise
    • Lower stress
    • Decreased dependence on stimulants like caffeine
    • Decreased risk of getting into accidents
    • Decreased risk of depression

    And tons more… Google it.

    15. Replace warm showers with cold ones

    Tony Robbins doesn’t consume caffeine at all. Instead, he starts every morning by jumping into a 57-degree Fahrenheit swimming pool.

    Why would he do such a thing?

    Cold water immersion radically facilitates physical and mental wellness. When practiced regularly, it provides long-lasting changes to your body’s immune, lymphatic, circulatory and digestive systems that improve the quality of your life. It can also increase weight-loss because it boosts your metabolism.

    2007 research study found that taking cold showers routinely can help treat depression symptoms often more effectively than prescription medications. That’s because cold water triggers a wave of mood-boosting neurochemicals which make you feel happy.

    To me, it increases my willpower and boosts my creativity and inspiration. While standing with the cold water hitting my back, I practice slowing my breathing and calming down. After I’ve chilled out, I feel super happy and inspired. Lots of ideas start flowing and I become way motivated to achieve my goals.

    Here’s a tip if you’re just starting out: start your shower warm, as usual. Let the warm water on your muscles allow you to stretch them out. After you’re stretched and washed, completely turn-off the warm and completely turn-on the cold. It really isn’t too bad at all. It feels incredible. Just do it for 60–90 seconds, then get out. You’ll be very pleased.

    16. Say “No” to people, obligations, requests, and opportunities you’re not interested in from now on

    No more yes. It’s either HELL YEAH! or no.” — Derek Sivers

    Your 20 seconds of daily courage will most consistently involve saying “no” to stuff that doesn’t really matter. But how could you possibly say “no” to certain opportunities if you don’t know what you want? You can’t. Like most people, you’ll be seduced by the best thing that comes around. Or, you’ll crumble under other people’s agendas.

    But if you know what you want, you’ll have the courage and foresight to pass up even brilliant opportunities — because ultimately they are distractors from your vision. As Jim Collins said in , “A ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ is irrelevant if it is the wrong opportunity.”

    17. Say “Thank you” every time you’re served by someone

    It’s amazing when you meet someone who is expressively and genuinely grateful. It’s amazing because, frankly, it’s rare.

    I remember one day while working as a busser of a restaurant as a teenager. Every time I went by a certain table, whether I was refilling waters, bringing food, anything… the kid at the table (no more than 20 years old) graciously said “thank you.” I even heard him from close proximity saying it to all the other employees when they stopped by his table.

    This experience had a dramatic impact on me. It was so simple what he was doing. Yet, so beautiful. I instantly loved this person and wanted to serve him even more.

    I could tell by how he looked in my eyes when saying “thank you” that he meant it. It came from a place of gratitude and humility.

    Interestingly, one study has found that saying “thank you,” facilitated a 66 percent increase in help offered by those serving. Although altruism is the goal, don’t be surprised as your habit of graciously saying “thank you” turns into even more to be thankful for.

    18. Say “I love you” 3+ times a day to the most important people in your life

    According to neuroscience research, the more you express love (like gratitude), the more other people feel love . Sadly, people are taught absurd mindsets about being vulnerable and loving in relationships. Just this morning, my wife and I had to coax and prod our three foster kids to say one nice thing about each other, and to say they loved each other.

    It took several minutes for our 9 year old foster boy to muster the strength to say he loved his sister. Yet, all of our kids constantly berate and belittle each other.

    You know the feeling: when you want to say “I love you” but hold back. What a horrible feeling.

    Why do we hesitate to express our love?

    Why do we hesitate to connect deeply with others?

    This may be strange, but if you tell your friends and family you love them, . I once knew a Polynesian missionary who told everyone he loved them. It was clear he was sincere.

    I asked him why he did it. What he told me changed my life. “When I tell people I love them, it not only changes them, but it changes me. Simply by saying the words, I feel more love for that person. I’ve been telling people all around me I love them. They feel treasured by me. Those who know me have come to expect it. When I forget to say it, they miss it.”

    The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone. — Harriet Beecher Stowe

    19. Consume 30 grams of protein within the first 30 minutes of waking up

    Donald Layman, professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois, recommends consuming at least 30 grams of protein for breakfast. Similarly, Tim Ferriss, in his book, , also recommends 30 grams of protein 30 minutes after waking up.

    According to Tim, his father did this and lost 19 pounds in one month.

    Protein-rich foods keep you full longer than other foods because they take longer to leave the stomach. Also, protein keeps blood-sugar levels steady, which prevents spikes in hunger.

    Eating protein first decreases your white carbohydrate cravings. These are the types of carbs that get you fat. Think bagels, toast, and donuts.

    Tim makes four recommendations for getting adequate protein in the morning:

    • Eat at least 40% of your breakfast calories as protein
    • Do it with two or three whole eggs (each egg has about 6g protein)
    • If you don’t like eggs, use something like turkey bacon, organic pork bacon or sausage, or cottage cheese
    • Or, you could always do a protein shake with water

    For people who avoid dairy, meat, and eggs, there are several plant-based proteins. Legumes, greens, nuts, and seeds all are rich in protein.

    20. Listen to audiobooks and podcasts on 1.5 or 2x speed, your brain will change faster

    Listening to audiobooks at normal speed is so three years ago. There is a going trend — particularly in Silicon Valley — to listen to audiobooks at 150 or 200 percent called “speed listening.”

    In 2010, the tech blog GigaOm suggested “speed-listening to podcasts” as an overall time-saving technique. Software called FasterAudio promises to “cut your audio learning time in half.”

    If you want to get hardcore, a particularly useful tool is Overcast — a podcast-playback app with a feature called Smart Speed. Smart Speed isn’t about simply playing audio content at 150 or 200 percent of the standard rate; but actually attempts algorithmically to remove fluff (e.g., dead air, pauses between sentences, intros and outros) that bulks up the play time of audio content.

    Use this technique and you’ll be consuming as much information as you once consumed caffeine.

    21. Decide where you’ll be in five years and get there in two

    How can you achieve your 10 year plan in the next 6 months?  — Peter Thiel

    There is always a faster way than you originally conceive. Actually, goal-setting can slow your progress and diminish your potential if you rely too heavily upon it.

    In an interview with , Tim Ferriss said that he doesn’t have five or ten year goals. Instead, he works on “experiments” or projects for a 6–12 week period of time. If they do extremely well, the possible doors that could open are endless. Tim would rather play to the best possibilities than get stuck on one track. He says this approach allows him to go drastically farther than he could ever plan for.

    22. Remove all non-essentials from your life (start with your closet)

    You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.  — Greg McKeown

    Most of the possessions you own, you don’t use. Most of the clothes in your closet, you don’t wear. Get rid of them. They are sucking energy from your life. Also, they are dormant value waiting to be exchanged for dollars.

    Getting rid of underutilized resources is like injecting motivation and clarity into your bloodstream. While all of that untapped energy gets removed, a new wave of positive energy comes into your life. You can use that energy in more useful and productive ways.

    23. Replaces Carbs With Healthy Fats

    There’s lots of research showing that healthy fats don’t make you fat. Actually, refined carbs and sugars are what make you fat.


    Healthy nuts.



    Even coconut oil, despite all of the current hype, is still a viable option.

    Healthy fats are good for your brain and body restoration. If you focus your energy on brain development and recovery, you will perform better mentally and physically.

    Stay away from white flour. That alone will make a huge difference in your body and brain composition. Highly sugary fruits should also be used sparingly.

    Emphasize vegetables, healthy fats, and proteins.

    24. Buy a juicer and juice a few times per week

    Juicing is an incredible way to get loads of vitamins and nutrients from fruits and vegetables. These nutrients can:

    • Help protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer and various inflammatory diseases
    • Guard against oxidative cellular damage from everyday cellular maintenance and exposure to chemicals and pollution.

    There are several approaches you can take to juicing. You can reset your body by doing a 3–10 day juice “cleanse.” Or, you could simply incorporate juice into your regular diet. I do both from time to time.

    I always feel enormously better after juicing. Especially when I get lots of intense greens like kale into my system.

    25. Choose to have faith in something bigger than yourself, skepticism is easy

    In the timeless book, , Napoleon Hill explains that a fundamental principle of wealth creation is having faith — which he defines as visualization and belief in the attainment of desire.

    As Hill famously said, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.”

    If you don’t believe in your dreams, the chances of them happening are slim to none. But if you can come to fully know the things you seek will occur, the universe will conspire to make it happen.

    According to Hill (see page 49 of ), here’s how that works:

    • “Faith is the starting point of all accumulation of riches!”
    • “Faith is the basis of all ‘miracles’ and mysteries that cannot be analyzed by the rules of science!”
    • “Faith is the element that transforms the ordinary vibration of thought, created by the finite mind of man, into the spiritual equivalent.”
    • “Faith is the only agency through which the cosmic force of Infinite Intelligence can be harnessed and used.”
    • “Faith is the element, the ‘chemical’ which, when mixed with prayer, gives one direct communication with Infinite Intelligence.”

    Like expressing love, in our culture, many have become uncomfortable with ideas like faith. Yet, to all of the best business minds in recent history, faith was fundamental to their success.

    26. Stop obsessing about the outcome

    Research has found that expectations in one’s own ability serves as a better predictor of high performance than expectations about a specific outcome. In his book, , Josh Kaufman explains that when setting goals, your locus of control should target what you can control (i.e., your efforts) instead of results you can’t control (e.g., whether you get the part).

    Expect optimal performance from yourself and let the chips fall where they may. The organic output will be your highest quality work. Put most simply: 

    27. Give at least one guilt-free hour to relaxation per day

    In our quest for success, many of us have become workaholics. However, relaxation is crucial for success. It is akin to resting between sets at the gym. Without resting, your workout will be far less than it could have been.

    Foolishly, people approach their lives like a workout without rest breaks. Instead, they take stimulants to keep themselves going longer and longer. But this isn’t sustainable or healthy. It’s also bad for productivity and creativity in the short and long run.

    28. Genuinely apologize to people you’ve mistreated

    People make mistakes several times every single day. Sadly — and hilariously — much of the time we act like kids and blame our mistakes on external factors. Research has found that people who don’t openly and often apologize experience higher levels of stress and anxiety.

    You don’t need that pent-up energy in your life. Make amends and let it go. It’s not your choice if people choose to forgive you.

    29. Make friends with five people who inspire you

    Surround yourself with people who remind you more of your future than your past. — Dan Sullivan

    Who you spend time with is incredibly important. Even more fundamental is: what types of people are you  around?

    Your comfort level is one of the clearest indicators of your character. Are the people you enjoy being around inspiring or degrading, hard-working or lazy?

    What kinds of beliefs do you friends have?

    What kinds of goals are they pursuing?

    How much money do they make?

    What does their health look like?

    All of these things dramatically impact you. And it is one of the most painful experiences in the world to  around people who have long been your friends. When you grow and evolve and long for more, you’ll begin seeking a different crowd to surround yourself with.

    Misery loves company. Don’t let them hold you back. Move on but never detach from the love you have for those people.

    30. Save 10 percent or more of your income

    I would have saved 10 percent automatically from my paycheck by direct deposit into a savings account earning the best possible interest compounded daily. I would have also disciplined myself to deposit 10 percent of any additional money from gifts, refunds or other earned income. I would have bought a small house outright with the money I had saved (instead of renting an apartment for over 30 years). I would have found a job that I loved and devoted my life to it. At least you could be happy even if you were not where you wanted to be financially. Hope this helps someone out there.  — D. Lorinser

    Tithing yourself is a core principle of wealth creation. Most people pay  first. Most people live above their means.

    In total, American consumers owe:

    • $11.85 trillion in debt
    • An increase of 1.4% from last year
    • $918.5 billion in credit card debt
    • $8.09 trillion in mortgages
    • $1.19 trillion in student loans
    • An increase of 5.9% from last year

    The U.S. Census in 2010 reported that there were 234.56 million people over the age of 18 years old, suggesting the average adult owes $3,761 in revolving credit to lenders. Across the average household, American adults also owe $11,244 in student loans, $8,163 on their autos, and $70,322 on their mortgage.

    Simply switching to home-brewed coffee will save you an average of $64.48 per month (or $2 per day) or $773.80 per year. By putting the savings into a mutual fund with average earnings of 6.5% interest and reinvesting the dividends into more mutual funds over a decade, the $64.48 saved every month would grow into $10,981.93.

    My wife once took an accounting class from a world-renowned accountant. His words on the first day of class, “The most important thing you’ll learn in this class, which most people will never learn: spend less than you earn. If you do this, you’ll be financially free.”

    31. Tithe or give 10 percent of your income away

    One gives freely, yet grows all the richer.  — Proverbs 11:24

    Many of the wealthiest people in the world attribute their healthy financial life and abundance to .

    Most people are trying to accumulate as much as they can. However, a natural principle of wealth creation is generosity. As Joe Polish has said,“The world gives to the givers and takes from the takers.”

    From a spiritual perspective, everything we have is God’s (or the Earth’s). We are merely stewards over our possessions. When we die, we don’t take our money with us. So why hoard it?

    As you give generously and wisely, you’ll be stunned by the increases in your earning potential. You’ll develop traits needed for radical wealth creation.

    32. Drink 64–100 ounces of water per day

    Human beings are mostly water. As we drink healthy amounts of water, we have smaller waistlines, healthier skin, and better functioning brains. Actually, as we drink enough water, it’s safe to say we’re better in every way.

    It’s a no-brainer. If you’re not drinking the healthy amount of water each day, you should critically assess your priorities in life.

    33. Buy a small place rather than rent

    Unless you live in a big city (which many of you do), I’m baffled how many people pay outlandish amounts on rent each month.

    When my wife and I moved to Clemson to begin graduate school, we did a lot of front end work to ensure we’d be able to buy a home. What’s shocking is that our mortgage payment is far less than most of our friend’s rent payments. By the end of our four years here in Clemson, we’ll have earned several thousand dollars in equity and even more in appreciation. Conversely, many of our friends are simply dumping hundreds of dollars into someone else’s pockets every month.

    Paying rent is like working hourly. You get money while you’re on the clock. When you’re not on the clock, you get no money. Earning equity is like having residual income. Every month you pay down your mortgage, you actually keep that money. So you’re not “spending to live” like most people do. You’re living for free while saving — often earning in appreciation.

    34. Check your email and social media at least 60–90 minutes after you wake up

    Most people check their email and social media immediately upon waking up. This puts them in a reactive state for the remainder of the day. Instead of living life on their own terms, they’d rather respond to other people’s agendas.

    Hence, the importance of having a solid morning routine. When you wake up and put yourself, not other people first, you position yourself to win before you ever begin playing. As Stephen Covey has taught in his book, , “Private victory always precedes public victory.”

    Make the first few hours of your morning about you, so that you can be the best you can for other people. My morning routine consists of prayer, journal writing, listening to audiobooks and podcasts while I workout, and taking a cold shower.

    After I’ve had an epic morning, and I’m clear on the direction of my day, I can utilize email and social media for my benefit rather than detriment.

    35. Make a few radical changes to your life each year

    Reinvent yourself every year. Novelty is an antidote to monotony. Jump into new pursuits and relationships.

    Try things you’ve never done before.

    Take risks.

    Have more fun.

    Pursue big things you’ve been procrastinating for years.

    In 2015, my wife and I went from having no kids to having three foster kids (ages 5, 7, and 9). I’ve started blogging. I quit my job and started writing full-time. I completely changed my diet. I’ve changed my entire daily routine.

    This year has been just as transformative as the last. It’s taught me that you can change your whole life in one year. I plan on changing my whole life for the better .

    Change freaks people out. It immediately pulls you from your comfort zone. Which is exactly what you need. You’ll often feel like a fraud. But impostor syndrome is exactly what you should be seeking. Do your best to always be the dumbest person in the room and you’ll improve rapidly.

    36. Define what wealth and happiness mean to you

    Be everything to everybody and you’ll be nothing for yourself.  — John Rushton

    No two human beings are the same. So why should we have one standard of success? Seeking society’s standard of success is an endless rat-race. There will always be someone better than you. You’ll never have the time to do .

    Instead, you recognize that every decision has opportunity cost. When you choose one thing, you simultaneously don’t choose several others. And that’s okay. Actually, it’s beautiful because we get to choose our ultimate ideal.

    We must define success, wealth, and happiness in our own terms because if we don’t, society will for us — and we will always fall short. We’ll always be left wanting. We’ll always be stuck comparing ourselves and competing with other people. Our lives will be an endless race for the next best thing. We’ll never experience contentment.

    37. “Change the way you feel, think, and act about money”         — Steve Down

    Most people have an unhealthy relationship with money. It’s not necessarily their fault; it’s what they were taught.

    In order to change your financial world, you need to alter your paradigm and feelings about money.

    Here are some key beliefs the most successful people in the world have:

    • In a free-market economy, anyone can make as much money as they want.
    • Your background, highest level of education, or IQ is irrelevant when it comes to earning money.
    • The bigger the problem you solve, the more money you make.
    • Expect to make lots of money. Think BIG: $100,000, $500,000, or why not $1 million?
    • What you focus on expands. If you believe in scarcity, you’ll have little.
    • If you believe there is unlimited abundance, you’ll attract abundance.
    • When you create incredible value for others, you have the right to make as much money as you want.
    • You’re not going to be discovered, saved, or made rich by someone else. If you want to be successful, you have to build it yourself.

    When you develop a healthy relationship, you will have more. You won’t spend money on the crap most people waste their money on. You’ll focus more on value than price.

    38. Invest only in industries you are informed about

    Warren Buffett doesn’t invest in technology because he doesn’t understand it. Instead, he invests in banking and insurance. He’s not a tech guy. He invests in what he understands.

    Yet, so many people invest in things they don’t understand. I’ve made that mistake. I once invested several thousand dollars in an overseas rice distribution. Although the investment sounded incredible on paper, it’s turned out to be a disaster.

    I didn’t have the understanding to make an informed decision. I put my trust in someone else’s hands. And no one cares about your success more than you do.

    From now on, I’m going to responsibly invest in things I can make informed decisions on.

    39. Create an automated income source that takes care of the fundamentals

    We live in unprecedented times. It has never been easier to create automated income streams. No matter your skill-set and interests, you can put a business in place that runs 24/7 even while you’re sleeping, sitting on the beach, or playing with your kids.

    An entrepreneur is someone who works for a few years like no one will so they can live the rest of their life like no one else can.

    If you want to free up your time and energy for the things that matter most, either invest in stuff you’re informed on (e.g., real estate, businesses, mutual funds), or, create a business that doesn’t require you (e.g., create an online educational course about something you’re passionate about).

    40. Have multiple income streams (the more the better)

    Most people’s income comes from the same source. However, most wealthy people’s income comes from multiple sources. I know people with hundreds of income streams coming in each month.

    What would happen if you set things up so you were getting income from 5 or 10 different places each month?

    What if several of those were automated?

    Again, with a few short years of intentional and focused work, you can have several income streams.

    41. Track at least one habit/behavior you’re trying to improve

    When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.  — Thomas Monson

    Tracking is difficult. If you’ve tried it before, chances are, you quit within a few days.

    Research has repeatedly found that when behavior is tracked and evaluated, it improves drastically.

    It’s best to track only a few things. Maybe just one at a time.

    If you want to track your diet, a fun approach is taking a picture of everything you eat. Everything. This allows you the time to determine if you really want to put that in your body.

    So, your tracking can be creative. Do what works for you. Use a method you will actually do. But  tracking.

    As a consultant, tracking and reporting behavior, daily, has been the number one factor in my client’s success. When you track something, you become of it. When you report something, you become  to it.

    Most of my clients simply send me an email at the end of their workday with a few bullet points (e.g., I did 4 hours of work on my startup, I made 3 sales, I didn’t check social media before noon). Accountability to a spreadsheet or app is not the same as accounting to a person — particularly one you trust and respect.

    42. Have no more than 3 items on your to-do list each day

    When you shift your life from day-to-day reactivity to one of creation and purpose, your goals become a lot bigger. Consequently, your priority list becomes smaller. Instead of doing a million things poorly, the goal becomes to do a few things incredibly — or better yet, to do one thing better than anyone else in the world.

    If you have more than three priorities, then you don’t have any.  — Jim Collins

    So, instead of trying to do a million small things, what one or two things would make the biggest impact?

    Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic Coach, explains that there are two economies: The Economy of Hard Work and The Economy of Results.

    Some people think hard work is the recipe. Although this is completely true, the effort is often misplaced. Most people focus on the process or work first, and the result second. Conversely, those who determine the outcomes their seeking first can better discern which strategy will be most effective. Sure, that strategy may be out of your comfort zone, but as Tim Grover has said in 

    Tim Ferriss, in his book, , explains what he calls Minimum Effective Dose (MED), which is simply the smallest dose that will yield a desired result and anything past the MED is wasteful. Water boils at 100°C at standard air pressure — it is not “more boiled” if you add more heat.

    What is the fastest way to get your desired outcome?

    43. Make your bed first thing in the morning

    According to psychological research, people who make their bed in the morning are happier and more successful than those who don’t. If that’s not enough, here’s more:

    • 71 percent of bed makers consider themselves happy
    • While 62 percent of non-bed-makers are unhappy
    • Bed makers are also more likely to like their jobs, own a home, exercise regularly, and feel well rested
    • Whereas non-bed-makers hate their jobs, rent apartments, avoid the gym, and wake up tired.

    Crazy, right?

    Something so simple. Yet, when you make your bed first thing in the morning, you knock-off your first accomplishment of the day. This puts you in a mindset of “winning.”

    Do it! It only takes 30 seconds.

    44. Make one audacious request per week (what do you have to lose?)

    Rainmakers generate revenue by making asks. They ask for donations. They ask for contracts. They ask for deals. They ask for opportunities. They ask to meet with leaders or speak to them over the phone. They ask for publicity. They come up with ideas and ask for a few minutes of your time to pitch it. They ask for help. Don’t let rainmaking deter you from your dream. It’s one of the barriers to entry, and you can overcome it. Once you taste the sweet victory of a positive response, you’ll not only become comfortable with it, you might even enjoy it. But making asks is the only way to bring your dream to life.  — Ben Arment

    I got into graduate school way after applications were due because I asked.

    I’ve gotten free NBA tickets by asking a few players I saw at a hotel.

    I’ve gotten my work published on high tier outlets because I ask.

    Very few things in life are just randomly given to you as an adult. In most cases, you need to earn it and/or ask for it.

    Yet, there are many opportunities currently available to everyone if they would muster the courage and humility to ask.

    The entire crowdfunding industry is based on making asks.

    Start making bold and audacious asks. What’s the worst that could happen?They say “No”?

    What’s the best that could happen?

    When you don’t ask, you lose by default. And you’ll never know the opportunities you missed out on.

    Don’t sell yourself short. Ask that beautiful girl on a date. Ask for that raise or big opportunity at work. Ask people to invest in your idea.

    Put yourself out there. You’ll be blown away by what happens.

    45. Be spontaneously generous with a stranger at least once per month

    Life isn’t all about what you can achieve or acquire. It’s more about who you become and what you contribute.

    Interestingly, research done at Yale has found that people are instinctively cooperative and generous. However, if you stall and think about being helpful or generous, you’re less likely to do it. And the longer you wait, the likelihood of you being helpful diminishes. This principle applies to other areas as well, like creativity. The longer you wait to do something, the less likely it is you’ll do it.

    So, be spontaneous. When you get the wild thought of buying the person’s food in the car behind you, just do it. Don’t think about it.

    If you’re driving down the road and see someone with car trouble off to the side, just do it. Don’t think about it.

    When you want to say “I love you,” to a loved one, just do it. Don’t think about it.

    Paralysis by analysis is dumb. And Malcolm Gladwell explains in , that snap-decisions are often far better than well-thought out ones.

    46. Write and place a short, thoughtful note for someone once per day

    The messages of handwritten letters impact deeper and are remembered longer than electronic messages. There is no comparison to this traditional form of conversation. Handwritten messages are so powerful that people often keep these notes for a long time. Sometimes a lifetime.

    Jack Canfield has taught that writing 3–5 handwritten notes per day will change your relationships. In our email world, it can seem inefficient to hand-write and mail a letter. But relationships aren’t about efficiency.

    Not only will handwriting letters change your relationships, it will change you. Research has shown that writing by hand increases brain development and cognition more than typing can.

    Consequently, the things you write will be seared into your own memory as well, allowing both you and the recipient to reflect back on cherished moments.

    Writing handwritten notes spices up your relationships, adding an element of fun. It’s exciting placing kind and loving notes in random places for your loved ones to find. Put a note under the windshield wipers of your loved one’s car to find after a hard day’s’ work. Hidden, wait til they come out and watch them from across the street. You’ll see their eyes light up and smile spread.

    Other fun places include:

    • In the fridge
    • In the closet
    • On the computer keyboard
    • In their shoe
    • In their wallet
    • The mail box

    Anywhere that makes the experience a surprise…

    47. Become good friends with your parents

    Many people have horrible relationships with their parents. I once did myself. Growing up can be tough and sometimes our parents make horrible decisions that negatively impact us.

    However, my parents have become my best friends. They are my confidants. I turn to them for wisdom and advice. They understand me like no one else. Biology is a powerful thing.

    Although I don’t see things the same way my parents do, I love them and respect their viewpoints. I love working out with my dad and talking about big ideas with my mom.

    I couldn’t imagine not being close to them.

    If your parents are still around, rekindle those ties or increase the flame. You’ll find enormous joy in those relationships.

    48. Floss your teeth

    About 50 percent of Americans claim to floss daily. My guess is that’s a larg

    Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/benjamin-hardy/2017/11/50-ways-to-live-on-your-own-terms/

    Towie star ex’s acid text ‘about shampoo’

    Image copyright PA
    Image caption Arthur Collins told the court he hid his special shampoo so his girlfriend did not find out about his two hair transplants

    The ex-boyfriend of reality TV star Ferne McCann has told a court texts he sent about “acid” referred to hair-thickening shampoo.

    Arthur Collins, 25, who is accused of an acid attack in a crowded nightclub, said he kept the shampoo in his car to hide his hair loss from his girlfriend.

    Wood Green Crown Court heard Mr Collins has undergone two hair transplants.

    He admits throwing a substance in the Mangle E8 nightclub in Dalston, east London, but denies knowing it was acid.

    More than a dozen people were injured in the early hours of 17 April after a row broke out between Mr Collins and another group of men.

    A week before the attack, Mr Collins sent a text to his sister saying: “Tell mum to mind that little hand wash in my car acid”.

    He told jurors the message referred to the shampoo, which contained amino acid and coconut oil, and he was worried about his nieces finding and “biting it”.

    Image copyright PA
    Image caption Mr Collins is the father of The Only Way is Essex star Ferne McCann’s unborn child

    Mr Collins said he kept it in his car to hide it from Ms McCann as “she would have asked me why I was using a shampoo like that”.

    George Carter-Stephenson QC, defending Mr Collins, asked: “How good are you at misleading her? Can she tell when you are lying to her?”

    “Yes she can,” he replied.

    ‘Head massage’

    Jurors were also shown other products he had tried including Regain and Professional-C Serum.

    Mr Collins’ sister Chinade Rowe told the court she was aware of her brother’s hair loss and had helped massage his special shampoo, which she referred to as “acid”, into his scalp.

    When asked by prosecutor Luke Ponte if she had come to court to lie for her brother, she replied: “Absolutely not”.

    Mr Ponte asked: “Why did you have to massage the shampoo into his head? Why was he unable to do that himself?”

    “Because I had better massage techniques and I could do it better for him,” she said.

    “If you try and massage your head yourself it’s not the same as someone doing it for you.”

    Mr Collins, of Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, denies five counts of grievous bodily harm (GBH) with intent, and nine counts of actual bodily harm (ABH) against 14 people.

    Co-accused Andre Phoenix, of Clyde Road, Tottenham, north London, denies four counts of GBH and two counts of ABH.

    The trial continues.

    Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-41814129