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How To Live A Happy Life Starting Today

Being happy

Is being happy a basic human right?

No. Although, it would be fantastic if we were all inherently happy by nature, and could live happily ever after in our pineapples under the sea. But unfortunately (and fortunately) happiness is something to be earned, much like anything worth having. So where does the ‘fortunately’ part come into it? Good question. We are fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to earn our happiness. Some people have greater opportunity to achieve a state of relatively steady happiness, whereas others may have to work much harder to find this…

So, how do I find my happiness?

Another great question. It is easy to dwell on the aspects of your life that you may deem to be unfair. It is also easy to consider the trials and tribulations you’ve had to face as a result of being born in the time, place and environment that you have found yourself in. Naturally, we tend to compare our situation to that of others who are quite privileged and well-off. A much harder thing to do though, is to be grateful for the opportunities that we have been given. If you choose to focus on this, then you’ll be one step closer to earning that relatively steady happiness that we mentioned earlier.

Okay, so to be happy, I need to be grateful… Then what?

When we choose to focus on the opportunities that are accessible to us, we begin to realise just how vast the possibilities are. What is it that you want? And don’t say money. Woops, you already said money, didn’t you? Okay, let’s back track then… What is it that you need? If you’re accessing the internet to read this article, then it’s likely your primary needs as a human being have already been met. Fantastic! That is definitely something to be happy about. So now lets pretend that all you have is the bare minimum to survive. Food, water, shelter. What is the next thing that you want? (Probably some clothes) But as you start to acquire more of the things that we as human beings want, rather than need, your priorities begin to change. And so, your list of wants becomes greater… Now lets throw the internet into the mix. All of a sudden, you can Google P-Diddy’s yacht party or some exotic travel destination, or every other amazing thing in the world that you don’t have/haven’t done. What a disaster! Now you have become an absolute beast of wants with an insatiable appetite for more, and the happiness that was waiting just around the corner seems miles away. What you need readers, is a reference point to gauge your happiness. These reference points are more commonly referred to as goals.

You need to set goals and have clear priorities.

How you choose to do this is entirely up to you. You can write them down (recommended) or you can simply verbalise them. Your goals can relate to any aspect of your life, so try not to focus solely on financial goals. Perhaps friendship is an area of importance to you? Maybe you would like to spend more time with your family? These may be your priorities, and a specific goal may be to visit your grandparents every week for dinner. Our relationships with those we love are a good place to start. This is something we have direct access to, to make a positive impact right away. The next step is to separate your goals into two categories; short and long term. For example, if your goal is to be a rockstar, then you might be sorely disappointed at the end of the year, when you are still blogging about rockstars in your parents’ basement (we do not blog in anyone’s parents’ basement). So instead, it is a good idea to have smaller goals like ‘become proficient on the guitar‘. Now you have the ‘what‘, so all you need is the ‘how‘. Using our guitar proficiency as an example goal again, we might break it down into tasks like ‘learn the major scale‘ and ‘practice fingering exercises‘. These tasks are realistic, yet challenging. They will provide the motivation needed to progress towards the ultimate goal of becoming a rockstar.

When should I begin my quest for happiness?

Today! Happiness is waiting just around the corner for those who choose to get out there and earn it. That is to say, happiness is a choice. Your friends will probably tell you that you deserve to be happy, and you might want to believe them. But if you’re not willing to take action, despite the vast opportunities that you have been gifted, do you really deserve to be happy? Don’t answer that question. Instead, start building your happiness now, brick by brick…

As always, thanks for reading. If you have any comments about this article, we’d love to hear your say in the comments section below.

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5 Ways To Have Fun For Free

Fun For Free The Short Advice

The Simple Things in Life…

If you ask the minimalists, they’ll tell you that there is freedom in simplicity. And they’re right. You can live without the extreme excess that is being sold to us as necessity, and still achieve your own state of internal happiness and have fun for free! In fact, thats about the only way you can do it sustainably. Concepts like fun and happiness can’t always come from material items and things with monetary value, because then we’d be submitting our fun-having abilities to the dollar! Rather, it comes from experience and relationships. Relationships with people, relationships with places and relationships with the environment.

How to Have Fun For Free (Mostly).

Our ‘Fun For Free’ list consists of some activities that may require financial outlay… BUT they do not include directly paying for a ‘fun activity’, but rather rely on one’s own ability to create their own fun. In the land of technology, gadgets, and short attention spans, fun has sadly become a term that is commonly associated with staring at screens. It’s not all bad of course, but you can’t sit around reading The Short Advice all day… That’s why most of the items on our list include some degree of physical exertion too. After all, exercise has been linked to happiness and positivity. So, read on, but don’t do it all day – Get out there and have some fun for free!

1. Roadtrips

So obviously, you need to have a car and some petrol… but if you’ve already got these things it’s sort of a free activity right!? Roadtripping is a fantastic way to build relationships, and develop a fondness for your surroundings. Bring a pillow and a blanket and all of a sudden you’ve got accomodation on wheels. Its a sense of freedom that you’ll learn to appreciate, and one that you may have forgotten about. It’s too easy to get caught up with work saving for expensive holidays that you forget how easy it can be to just jump in the car and go exploring.

2. Hit the Beach

Hot, cold, freezing – who cares! Sometimes a bit of discomfort can make for a fun and memorable experience when shared with people you love. “Remember that time we swam in the middle of winter, and then we had to thaw out in the shower for 15 minutes?” Run, play ball sports, swim, lie on a towel, listen to music – the beach has it all and it’s entirely fun for free. Remember, fun is what you make it to be. If you approach the situation with a positive mindset, you will inevitably have fun. But, if you’re hesitant you might talk yourself out of a good time before you even get there! The beach is great, the beach is great, the beach is great… Go have a great time!

3. Learn an Instrument

Sure, you’ll need to purchase an instrument. That does cost money… But learning it doesn’t cost a thing! There are countless online tutorials to help you along the way. You can follow along at your own pace, and choose to dedicate as much time as you like. And if you don’t want to fork out to buy an instrument, you can sing instead using your very own built-in voice instrument (a.k.a your voice box). Music is a fantastic creative outlet that can be solely driven by your own passion and interests. As any creative outlet does, it also allows you to express yourself, and may even provide a therapeutic element to ease stress.

4. Read a Book

The age-old way to have fun for free that grandma has been trying to tell you about. If you’re not into reading books, there are too many reasons why you should start… The first being, it will make you smarter. Reading improves your vocabulary, but it also gets you thinking and using your imagination. Books require you to visualise people, places and things, which also means that your experience with a book can be quite different to the next person’s. With endless genres available, your options are vast. Take yourself to another world, and have fun for free with a good old fashioned novel.

5. Invent a Game

Exercise your imagination and get creative! It might actually be the best way to have fun for free. Wherever you are in the world, this is a fail safe way to enjoy yourself. You just need a bit of creativity. As you play, you can refine your new game with your friends. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or where you are. Use what is available to you and make something cool, just because you can! Thats part of the fun. The more you do this, the more you’ll realise that fun is a tool that you will always have at your disposal, whenever and wherever you go.

Final Note

Fun seems to have become a by-product of money, but it doesn’t need to be the case. You can have fun for free in a variety of ways, if you’re open to it. Its an important part of being happy and it shouldn’t stop when you reach a certain age. Use your imagination, get outside, get active. Do it with the people that you care about the most. You can have fun for free if you choose to, so don’t always believe what the TV is telling you…

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Positive Thinking: How To Be More Optimistic

Positive Thinking The Short Advice

The Benefits of Positive Thinking

Positive thinking is contagious, the same way negativity is. However, negativity is born with the upper hand… The human brain tends to have a negative bias, and so we need to work particularly hard to overcome this bias and be positive. Introducing positive thinking into our lives must be a focus if we are to overcome our natural relationship with negativity. So, how can you start being more positive? And why should you start being more positive?? The why, is that positivity breeds positivity, and the how has been outlined for you below…

Use Positive Language

It has been suggested that positive language actually has the ability to change the way you think, modifying brain functions and increasing motivational activity. In contrast, negative words may inhibit your ability to manage stress. Positive self-talk is one particular strategy that refers to the language you use, both in thought and verbally, to speak to yourself. Using positive phrases like “I can”, and “I will” can in time increase self-esteem and decrease negative thinking. So, next time you’ve made a mistake, let yourself know that you’re in it together with some positive self-reassurance!

Focus on Positivity

Placing a greater focus on your most positive attributes can in-fact produce improved results. A 1982 study required bowlers to rate their performance, with one group focusing solely on what they did well, and the other group focusing on not making the same mistakes twice. The first group showed significantly greater improvement. The conclusion, is that positivity can be a greater motivator towards success and improvement than negativity, but you probably guessed that already… If positive thinking and reflection will drive you to improve, why not try it?

Dance Your Way to Positivity

Movement and exercise has been linked to happiness, known to release endorphins that can make us feel great. Dr Peter Lovatt, or ‘Dr Dance’, suggests that one can ‘dance themselves happy’, which follows the above principal and builds on the relationship between exercise and positivity. Maybe you’re not a dancer, and that’s fine. The message really is to move, and generate positivity through action. Exercise has a number of other benefits that can contribute to one’s ability to be positive, like building confidence and resilience.

Balance Your Emotions

Negative emotions can’t be ignored if you expect to live with sustained positive thinking and optimism. Whilst there is a fine line between realism and pessimism, it is important to understand the purpose of negativity in order to create an acceptable balance. Our emotions all serve a purpose that can generally be linked to survival and pro-creation (which ultimately is the survival of our species). Fear can stop us from hurting ourselves, guilt can stop us from repeating poor behaviour and love can keep our families safe. So, positive thinking doesn’t mean you should ignore negativity altogether, but rather create a better balance between the two.

Reinforce Positivity

Challenge yourself and achieve a goal by applying an optimistic outlook to your situation. Fear and negativity are the greatest barrier in the way of achieving your goals on the road to success. Incorporate the positive thinking strategies outlined above, and put a plan into place. After all, one of the best ways to reinforce learning is through experience. Reflect on past situations, and consider the different outcomes and level of satisfaction you have achieved through positive thinking, as opposed to a negative bias.

Final Note

With our brains naturally inclined to lean towards negativity as a protective mechanism, it’s any wonder that positive thinking is a challenge. It’s sort of like having great posture. You have to actively think about it. When it leaves the forefront of your mind however, you might start to slouch. But, if you make a conscious effort to pull your shoulders back and stand up straight… Well, it just might become habit. Apply this principle to positive thought, and habitually engage in positive thinking – without even thinking about it! If you’ve got anything to add, please feel free to leave a comment below… Hopefully a positive one ;). As always, thanks for reading.

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The Winter Blues: 5 Ways To Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Simply put, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder brought on by the changing of seasons. In the colder months, it’s commonly referred to as the Winter Blues. Whatever you call it, both terms refer to feelings of depression and a lack of energy. So, is this really a disorder? Or are we again trying to diagnose ordinary life? You be the judge. Regardless of your stance, it can be agreed that what we are talking about are patterns of behaviour, and emotional states which are affected by our environment. Fortunately, there are a number of natural remedies to help counter these feelings. Below, we’ve listed our 5 strategies to beat Seasonal Affective Disorder for good!

1. Exercise Goals

Should we hibernate throughout the Winter, like big brown bears? It seems to be how many people choose to deal with the cold… However, it doesn’t seem to be contributing to our health and happiness a great deal. So instead, try setting yourself an exercise goal to improve your wellbeing. This study suggests that goals relating to personal development and improvement can create sustainable happiness. Set a specific exercise goal, give yourself a time-frame to reach it, put the required systems in place to achieve it, and get SMART.

2. Sunshine

If seasonal affective disorder in the Winter can be attributed to a lack of sunshine, then it only makes sense to seek it out when you can! Get outside during your lunch break and soak up some rays whenever the opportunity presents. According to studies, it’s all about our body’s ability to produce serotonin, the ‘happy‘ chemical. It seems our brain can produce more serotonin on bright, sunny days. So don’t hide indoors all Winter, get outside and give yourself the best chance at producing mood-lifting serotonin by seeking out the sunshine!

3. Find Your Winter Activity

Winter isn’t all bad everybody! There are lots of great Winter activities that you can find to keep you motivated. Like snow sports – so much fun! Or winter hiking, considerably less-expensive. There’s also nothing wrong with enjoying the sound of rain pouring outside while you stay in and watch movies all night long. You could even take up a new hobby, like woodworking! Point is, whatever you’re into, try to look at the positive aspects of Winter, even if you consider yourself more of a Summer person. You’ll find it far easier to enjoy yourself during the colder months if you choose to make it work.

4. Can the Comfort Food

Don’t over do it this Winter. It’s pretty easy to throw a few chocolate blocks back while you’re indoors doing a whole lot of nothing. So, make a conscious effort to maintain a sustainable, healthy diet all year round. You don’t have to be so unbelievably strict that the chocolate in your pantry turns a bit cloudy. Just be a little more in tune with your food choices. It really depends on your health and fitness goals of course. So perhaps consider these next time you’re tasked with a recon mission to the fridge on movie night.

5. Respect the Balance

Unfortunately, the universe is not here to serve you. And the weather doesn’t particularly care how you feel about it either. It’s going to turn whether you like it or not. So, respect the balance. There is no happy without sad, no light without dark, no Summer without Winter. Each positive’s seemingly negative counter-part presents opportunities to build and earn your own little piece of sustainable happiness. This is also the birth place of resilience and mental toughness. Don’t drop your head, embrace the changes and turn them into positives by implementing the strategies mentioned above. The good times are just around the corner…

Final Note

Don’t let seasonal affective disorder wreak havoc on your mental and physical wellbeing this Winter. Take an active role to ensure the sustainability of your happiness year-round, and combat these environmental factors by putting a plan in place. Don’t hit the pause button on your life just because the Winter Blues are knocking at your door. Get outside, get active, eat properly, find something fun to do, and respect the opportunities you’ve been given! A simple and drug-free method is never a bad place to start… As always, thanks for reading, and we’d love to hear what Winter activity you partake in to combat the Winter Blues! Let us know in the comments section below. Good luck!

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DIY Woodworking: 6 Essential Tips To Get You Started

Melbourne Timberworks The Short Advice

About the Author

Melbourne Timberworks was founded by Tristan as a result of his many successful DIY woodworking projects. Entirely self-taught, Tristan sources his timber from local suppliers and has built just about every piece of furniture you can think of, for both commercial and domestic clients (you can check some out some of his work here). Today, he is here to share his advice on ‘starting your own workshop’, and some considerations and challenges of the DIY woodworking environment. So, please give it up for Melbourne Timberworks and woodworking guru, Tristan!

Starting a DIY Woodworking Venture

Aside from the mental health benefits of pursuing a hobby, woodworking is just great fun! But, when you’ve got a new and exciting idea in your head, it can often infect your bank account too… It’s tempting to want to spend every last cent in your wallet on the best and fanciest new tool or piece of equipment. That new tool feel is great, don’t get me wrong, but what you really need is the right balance of value and reliability (without living out of a cardboard box). So, aim for mid-range priced equipment for your humble DIY woodworking beginnings. Generally, you do get what you pay for, so whilst you can’t yet afford the best, don’t cheap out and get the worst either! Either way you’re bound to make mistakes, and there will be a few breakages along the way. But slowly, as you get better, you can update your tools to match your capabilities. You never know, you might even be able to start selling your work… But before we get too far along, here are my ‘6 Essential DIY Woodworking Tips’.

1. Gumtree is Your Best Friend.

You’ll probably need a work table for your garage or home workshop. But there’s just no need for a brand new, polished bench. Check the likes of Gumtree and eBay before you take the trip to a department store. Theres a heap of perfectly good used tables that you can use for your projects here. You might also be able to pick up a few tools. However, be wary of buying second-hand power-tools. For a beginner, it can be difficult to know the condition they’re in, and if they’ve been cared for correctly.

2. Test Things First.

Don’t rush. Trust me, there’s time for some testing before you rip into the ‘good copy’. Whether you love to paint, or building furniture is your passion, never try something new on the actual project itself. You wouldn’t serve your cooking before you’ve tasted it, right? So, take the time to develop your skills first. This way, you’ll avoid making mistakes with expensive materials, and possibly destroying hours of your hard work. Yes, practice can be a bit tedious… But remember, ‘if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly’.

3. It’s Your Space.

Set up a space dedicated to your DIY interests. It’s a good idea to have all the equipment in one area and in the same room. Everything within a few steps will work, especially if you need to get things in a hurry. Setting up a space also allows you to “close a door” on your work. It’s important to switch off for a moment and to be away from your projects so you don’t over exhaust yourself, and lose motivation. In doing this, you’ll train yourself to be productive as soon as you step into your DIY woodworking space.

4. Be Safe.

There’s nothing worse than starting a DIY project only to end up injuring yourself. Those ads on TV are not for your comedic relief. Be smart. Make sure you have the required safety equipment. Gloves, glasses, proper footwear and clothing can be the difference between coming out unscathed or making a trip to the hospital!

5. Youtube is Your Second Best Friend.

A very close second I might add… Your DIY woodworking doesn’t have to be an entirely solo project. You can invite the help of professionals from all around the globe to be your personal instructor, on your mobile phone! You can pause them, rewind them and fast forward through all the boring parts! It’s like school, except you only have to turn up for the bits you need, and only when you need them.

6. Have Fun.

This is probably the most important tip of them all. Sometimes projects start off really fun, but then as you progress through them you start to feel frustrated and tired. You start to rush to finish your masterpiece, and it doesn’t always turn out as you’d hoped. Take a step back and remember that you started because of your passion for woodworking, and that frustration is because you care. If you’re not having fun, then it’s probably time to put the tools and equipment down for a while.

Final Note…

Trying new things can be challenging! But that doesn’t mean you should quit… I’m grateful that I persisted through the early stages of the DIY woodworking process. The skills that I have developed now give me the freedom to create whatever I want.

Thanks very much for taking the time to read my guest post for The Short Advice. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to respond to them in the comments section below. Don’t forget to check out Melbourne Timberworks here.

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Finding Internal Happiness: The Happiness Investment Strategy

Internal Happiness The Short Advice

Happiness Starts at Home

Not your literal home, but the figurative one inside of you. You are in charge of your happiness, and solely relying on others to provide it for you is unwise. Whilst you might be able to influence the life choices of the close people in your life, you cannot entirely control them. And nor should you! Rather, consider the things that you can control in your life that bring you happiness. If you haven’t been practicing this, then it’s time to find something that you are passionate about. Something you are so grateful for that no relationship could ever take from you. Hypothetically, if all of your meaningful relationships fell by the wayside, how would you fill your time? Please don’t say ‘cry’, that’s not the answer we’re looking for here… In other words, what would you do that would make you happy if the closest people in your life were no longer around? A difficult question to contemplate, but a necessary one if you are to be a sound investor of happiness…

Purchasing Shares in Happiness

If you are lucky enough to have some strong family bonds, good friendships and a romantic relationship, you are probably not as lucky as you are a good friend, relative and partner. That is to say, you have earned these relationships, and the benefits that come along with them. All of your positive attributes that have helped bring you happiness have put you in a buyers position. The question is, how will you spread your wealth? Too many people make the mistake of investing their life savings of happiness chips into a romantic relationship, and expect to put their feet up and sip cocktails on their figurative island in the sun. When their relationship ends, they can’t even afford to pay the mortgage on their happiness, and so, depression becomes their new form of currency. Continuing with this metaphor, lets consider an investment strategy to better manage our happiness:

1. Diversify Your Happiness Portfolio

Smart investors spread their wealth, so do the same with your happiness. Don’t invest it all in your romantic relationship, and neglect your friendships. Don’t forget to spend time with your family, because your financial success has become an overbearing focus. This point is all about creating balance. Not just between the people in your life, but also the activities you undertake. 

2. Invest in Others Wisely

Every now and then, investors take a leap of faith based on some good information. Sometimes we will over-invest when an opportunity presents that seems almost too good to be true, and sometimes it is. Remember the importance of finding the right balance, and check your insecurities at the door. Try to judge every opportunity on its merits, rather than comparing each to your last investment. This can be said of people, business opportunities or other. 

3. List Your Own Company

Invest in yourself! Happiness shouldn’t all be passive income, so get involved in your growing portfolio. Put time aside to find and develop your passion, and excel in areas of interest. This might be a hobby, business opportunity, or both. Whatever it is, it should add value to your life, and hopefully other lives as well. Two important criteria that will help you generate a strong revenue stream of happiness. Get out there and achieve your goals

4. Ride the Peaks and Troughs

Heres where the analogy gets a bit tricky… You can’t sell at the peak of your happiness, and then reinvest when you hit rock bottom. A financially sound idea, but one that doesn’t translate well in the context of happiness. Instead, the point we’re getting at is that you can’t always be happy. When we invest in our passions, and in people, we’re generally in it for the long-haul. Naturally, we’ll have ups and downs. Relationships experience conflict, and the motivation that drives our passions can waver. This is the leg-work behind ‘happy’ that is necessary for it to be sustainable. So, enjoy the good times, and make the tough times better. 

5. Know When to Buy/Sell

Buy when you have the wealth to buy. That is to say, once you have developed some internal happiness. When we are unhappy within ourselves, our insecurities can have too-strong an influence over who we choose to invest in. And when that person’s stock opens significantly lower than when we invested, it can be difficult to sell. Put simply, unhappiness can land us in unhappy relationships. And the same insecurities that saw us settle for these relationships, has us trapped inside them. If you don’t remember how to be happy alone, and are too heavily invested in a negative relationship, it can be much harder to end it (sell). So get back to focussing on point three, and invest in yourself first! You’ll make a better partner in the long run.

Final Note

Happiness is in infinite supply, just like sadness. It is, however, a little harder to find. With the right motivation, resolve, and a sound happiness investment strategy, you’ll be on your way in no time. So get up off the couch, and get stuck into whatever makes you happy, and adds value to other lives as well. If you’re not sure what that is yet, go and find it! As always, thanks for reading, and we’d love to your thoughts in the comments section below.