Fuel Happiness with Random Acts of Kindness

We all want to be happy. According to the wise ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”

Sometimes the smallest things can brighten your day: the sales clerk that gives you a warm smile and asks how your day is going; the kind driver who lets you into a long line of cars; or the fresh bouquet of flowers you find on your front doorstep, just because.

Being the recipient of kindness is wonderful, but what’s even more satisfying is being responsible for it. Aristotle had a word for this too. When he described the four levels of happiness that humans seek to achieve, the first two, Laetus and Felix, are self-centered; the third level, Beatitudo, is the happiness one feels from doing good for others and making the world a better place.

We recently experienced this third level of happiness at Three Wire when we celebrated our own “Random Acts of Kindness Week” in each of our offices. Each day, for five days, we challenged employees to carry out five “nice” things that would benefit someone else.

If you want to try it, and spread happiness, look at our list of “random act” recommendations below. For about fifteen minutes out of your day, you can make an incredible impact on someone else in this world and hope that they too decide to pay it forward.

Day One: Leave a nice note for a friend, loved one, co-worker, or even a stranger.

Day Two: Write a letter of encouragement to a stranger who needs it.

Day Three: Register to become a bone marrow donor at https://www.giftoflife.org/page/content/steps-to-donation. If you are already registered, or can’t/don’t want to become a donor, donate to this or another cause that you feel connected to.

Day Four: Go to Free Rice and spend 10 minutes answering questions. This is a United Nations Food Program that will donate rice to hungry people for every question you get right.

Day Five: Purchase a five dollar gift card to a store or restaurant and give it to someone who could use a bit of a perk.

Fitness and Stress Management

Stress and physical activity are things that we deal with daily, but you may be surprised at how related they are. Even a small amount of physical fitness can boost your “feel good” endorphins and act as a distraction from day-to-day worries and stressors. If you find yourself stressed on a regular basis, exercise could be a healthy form of stress management.

Exercise and physical activity increases neurotransmitters called endorphins. If you have ever heard anyone talk about a “runner’s high,” they are actually referring to the increase in endorphins they experience from the act of physical activity. Endorphins trigger positive feelings in the body similar to morphine without the negative effects of drug use/abuse. Endorphins are also known to act as analgesic, which means they diminish the perception of pain. They also act as a sedative and can increase healthy sleep patterns, which are directly related to stress, anxiety, and depression.

While involved in a high paced activity, you will often find yourself concentrating on your bodily movements, rather than concentrating on the day-to-day irritations and stressors. As a result, many find themselves able to focus on tasks better, tackle projects with increased energy and enthusiasm, and have a more optimistic attitude in general.

Even if exercise has not been a word in your vocabulary for quite some time, building up levels of physical activity can have immediate positive effects on your overall wellbeing. If it has been awhile, start slow and increase as you go along. It helps to choose activities that you already find enjoyable.

Also, pencil in some physical activity on your weekly agenda; this will help you stick with goals you set for yourself. Exercise is worth the time slot in your schedule as regular exercise has been proven to reduce stress levels, boost self-esteem, ward off anxiety and depression, and improve sleep.

Retirement Savings: Focus on Starting Today

If you’re just beginning to put money away for retirement, start saving and investing as much as you can now and let compound interest have an opportunity to work in your favor. The more you can invest when you’re young, the better off you’ll be. If a 25 year old starts investing $75 per month, they will have more money by age 65 than someone that starts at 35 years old investing $100 per month due to interest.

  • Rather than thinking, “I will start my retirement for a New Year’s resolution,” START NOW!
  • Make sure to at least match your employers’ 401k contribution percentage.
  • Check with your HR department to see if you employer offers Roth and Traditional 401k plans and see which better suits your retirement plans by asking more questions.

Another way to start saving for retirement is to rein in your spending. Examine your budget and see where you are spending too much money and what you could start saving for the future. This will also help you to set up a realistic spending plan for when you are retired.

Healthy Relationship Tips

We all know that relationships can be difficult at times, and that taking time to show others that we care about them can sometimes fall to the back burner. But we also know that strong, healthy relationships influence our long-term health in the same ways that adequate sleep, a good diet, and not smoking can.

Harvard Health writes “Scientists are investigating the biological and behavioral factors that account for the health benefits of connecting with others. For example, they’ve found that it helps relieve harmful levels of stress, which can adversely affect coronary arteries, gut function, insulin regulation, and the immune system. Another line of research suggests that caring behaviors trigger the release of stress-reducing hormones.

Research has also identified a range of activities that qualify as social support, from offers of help or advice to expressions of affection. In addition, evidence suggests that the life-enhancing effects of social support extend to giver as well as to receiver.”

There are plenty of ways to show care and love for someone special to you without spending a dollar or taking much time from your day, and they’ll actually improve your relationships over the long haul. Try a few of these simple relationship tips to improve and show love to both friends and loved ones.

  1. Loving someone else starts with YOU. Take responsibility for your own feelings and needs.  When we accept our own faults and work to improve them, we avoid blaming others for our own struggles.  Work on improving your own skills and attitude toward life. Read books, travel, take care of yourself and while you grow, your relationships with grow too.
  2. Be fully present when you’re with someone you care about.This means putting your cell phone down and listening to what they have to say with eye contact. Schedule a dinner with Mom but keep the cell phone tucked away and on silent. You’ll survive 2 hours without it.
  3. Make an effort to be intimate with your partner at least once per week. Intimacy has positive effects on both the body and mind and helps you maintain a connection with your partner. Once per week also is realistic to achieve, even if you navigate a busy life.
  4. Say, “Thank you.” When you speak those two words with meaning, you make that person feel appreciated. The power of thank you is beyond that of just a simple compliment. The more often we show our gratitude toward others, the better those relationships become.

Time to Change VA Enrollments

My appointment at the VA La Jolla medical center is in 68 minutes. Google is telling me with current traffic that it will take 33 minutes. I just want to get enrolled with the local VA system and get a picture taken for my Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC). So, total time burn to accomplish this will be about two hours. Last week, I spent 90 minutes trying to get this done at the Mission Valley VA Clinic. I had not made an appointment (I tried calling but got caught up in auto attendant hell) and the clinic only had one guy doing enrollments. Five guys were in front of me. With each enrollment taking 45 min, the math looked bad and I left. There’s got to be a better way.

And there is. VA Secretary Bob McDonald’s MyVA initiative has five objectives to include “Improving the Veteran experience.” I see in the near future a system where Veterans video conference with a VA enrollment specialist through their home computer. After processing the enrollment paperwork, the ID picture can be taken thru the Veteran’s webcam and sent directly to the VHIC card processing vendor. The whole process should take 30 min max, and in my case, saves me 90 minutes and 44 miles on my car. I know this future system will be developed because Three Wire has explored and is currently architecting such a system using readily available commercial products that conform to the Veteran Administration’s security requirements. And I know there are hundreds of other innovative companies out there that are coming up with similar ideas. So if is not Three Wire, it will be some other company that will come up with unique ideas to address this important objective of the MyVA initiative. Either way, the Veteran wins, and that’s what’s important.