5 ways to be happier

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We live in a challenging world. Bad things happening all around us – kidnappings, shootings, assaults, Christian persecution, severe weather, car accidents…and the list goes on. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to not get discouraged by the negativity that can be found at the touch of our fingertips via social media, news outlets, or on TV.

So how can we push past the dangers lurking behind every corner, the fears that overwhelm us, and the toxicity of our fallen world?

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.”

The website further states, that Major Depressive Disorder, or MDD, is”The leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15 to 44.3…MDD affects more than 16.1 million American adults, or about 6.7%of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.”

Aside from the usual therapy options, including medication (because I am a firm believer that God allowed medicine to be created for those who truly need it), what can we do to take our focus off of the world around us and be happier? To find joy in the midst of all that is going on around us?

Here are five suggestions:

1. Spend more time with the Lord. Keep our eyes on Him. Rely on Him. Seek Him. Rejoice in Him. I can tell you from experience that the moment I take my eyes off Jesus, things take a turn. Set aside time, preferably each morning before you start the day, to dive into His Word, pray, and seek His guidance. The morning is the best time, as with all the busyness in daily life, this important action can quickly take a backseat to all of the other demands on our day.

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Two of my biggest prayer requests during my morning quiet time with the Lord are that I would walk in a manner worthy of the calling He has placed on my life (Ephesians 4:1), and that I would be a blessing to my family first and foremost – and not only to them,  but also to others I encounter throughout my day.

For those of us who have made Jesus our Lord and Savior, this is not our home. Not our permanent home, anyway. Remembering that can put our circumstances and the bad things that happen around us in a different perspective.

2. Spend more time with our family and our close friends. Sometimes in the midst of employment, soccer practices, cell phones, and extracurricular activities, family time can be all but forgotten. Seek to spend more time with your family: your spouse and your children, and your close friends. Doing so makes for a much happier life. This can be as simple as going on walks, playing games, or just sitting down to talk. Whatever the method, your relationships will be strengthened, and you will find yourself with a lighter heart.

3. Spend more time putting others first. We are definitely happier when we put ourselves aside and seek to serve others. Doing nice things for someone, volunteering, and showing random acts of kindness can all add joy to our lives. According the HelpGuide website, “Volunteering is good for your mind and body”, and “Volunteering brings fun and fulfillment to your life”, among many other benefits.

And you don’t have to commit to a huge volunteering project to reap the benefits of happiness, but rather pray that God would show you who you can assist each day, whether in big ways or small ways.

4. Spend more time in nature. Studies have shown that nature is important to our well-being. Who can stay crabby after being outside with the chirping birds, gentle breeze of the trees, and the warm sunshine? And summer isn’t the only time nature can make us happier. Just being outside in all seasons can improve our outlook on life. When we are out in God’s creation, our thoughts will center more on Him.

5. Spend more time exercising. Regular exercise can make us happier. According to an article on Livestrong, besides the usual health benefits, exercise “can also improve your mood, lift your spirits and make you feel better about yourself. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals that boost your sense of well-being and suppresses hormones that cause stress and anxiety.”

There are many more ways of gaining happiness. Rather than focusing on the world and it’s negativity, focus on God, family, and others.

 

20 songs that get you moving

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As I was running on the treadmill today, I realized how much I love working out to music. Apparently, running/biking/power walking/playing sports to my favorite tunes is not only enjoyable, but it’s beneficial.

According to Dr. Ahmed, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, “Music also changes your perception of how hard you’re working. With your favorite songs playing, you feel like you’ve exerted yourself less and can tolerate more physical activity.” He also goes on to indicate the other benefits of exercising with music including improved mental well-being and the interesting fact that listening to tunes while you are taking a treadmill stress test can improve your time.

Below are 20 songs guaranteed to get you moving.

First off, an added bonus of a few warmup songs…

Never Give Up by Matthew West

Transformed by Shonlock

And now for the songs that will inspire you to move!

Press On (CB Ultra Run Remix) by Mandisa

You Found Me by Mercy Me

Good Life by Bonray

Love Like I Mean It by Newsboys

Out of the Fire by Audio Adrenaline

Eye On It by TobyMac

Good Memories by Matthew Parker

Undertow by Holly Starr

Born to Live by About a Mile

Ready Set Go by Royal Tailor

Running by Natalie Villa

We Are Brave by Shawn McDonald

Money by Manic Drive

Thank God for Something by Hawk Nelson

 

Loud by Kutless

Avalanche by Manafest

The One by Disciple

Feel Invincible by Skillet

Bring It On by Seventh Day Slumber

End of Me by Ashes Remain

And an additional bonus of a few cooldown songs:

Be There by Capital Kings

Circles by Anthem Lights

For more great exercise song ideas, check out The Ultimate Christian Playlist for a Total Body Workout and The Top 50 Christian Workout Songs.

 

 

 

7 rules for gym etiquette

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It’s that time again! Time for New Year’s Resolutions, one of which is to get healthier. To do so, many people head to the gym.

Here are seven rules for gym etiquette. Follow these and your fellow exercise enthusiasts will thank you!

  1. Clean your machine after you are finished. You’d be surprised how many people fail to do this. With flu season currently here and the risk of other illnesses, including MRSA, always high where people (and germs!) congregate, it only makes sense to wipe down your machine, whether it be the treadmill, elliptical, or that weight bench.
  2. Stay home if you are sick. This goes without saying, but you’d be surprised how many folks show up at the gym hacking up a lung (and oftentimes not covering their mouths). sick person2
  3. Take cell phone conversations out of the workout area. Important calls do inevitably happen at the worst moments. When they do, be courteous.
  4. Don’t wear strong perfume. Many people have asthma and allergies. Resist the urge to shower yourself in perfume and cologne before heading to the gym. However, please do wear deodorant!
  5. Use modesty when workout choosing clothes. Make sure that you do the “bend, move, and twist” test at home. If things are hanging out, you’re wearing the wrong clothes. Make sure your outfit is not too tight, too low, or too see-through.exercise ladies
  6. Don’t be a fan stealer. In my experience as both a frequent gym user and a group fitness instructor at a couple of different gyms over the years, I have discovered that “fan” people fall into two groups. They are the pro-fanners or the anti-fanners. The pro-fanners are working out hard and need the fans on and circulating air, especially since cardio rooms tend to be stuffy and humid. The anti-fanners strongly dislike fans and don’t want them on. In my personal opinion, we need fans and they need to be on at all times. We are coming to the gym to sweat, after all. A great compromise if you are an anti-fanner, turn the fan away from you so that it’s still circulating air, but not causing you distress. And a note to pro-fanners: if someone has the fan blowing on them, don’t steal it and point it on yourself.fan
  7.  Watch your language. The best rule of thumb: keep it PG-rated, especially when it’s a gym that’s shared by families and children are present.

The best rule of all? Treat others the way you’d like to be treated – including at the gym.

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What are some of the pet peeves you’ve noticed while at the gym?

 

the ultimate Christian playlist for a total body workout

Ultimate Running

From warmups to cardio to cool-downs to stretches and everything in between, check  out these motivational songs (in no particular order) to add to your playlist for a total workout:

Warmup:

Upside Down – Jonny Diaz

Finding Who We Are – Kutless

Never Let You Down – Hawk Nelson

Messengers – Lecrae feat. For King and Country

Right Now – About a Mile

Eyes Up – Building 429

I Want to Know You – Sonic Flood

Break the World – Nine Lashes


Cardio:

The One I’m Running To – 7eventh Time Down

Running – Natalie Villa

Born to Live – About a Mile

Start Over – The Afters

Outta My Mind – Anthem Lights

Rise – Ashes Remain

Marvelous Light – Christy Nockels

Set it on Fire – Citizen Way

The Comeback – Danny Gokey

Secret Weapon – Disciple

Thank God for Something – Hawk Nelson

Press On (CB Ultra Remix) – Mandisa

Dear X (You Don’t Own Me) – Disciple

The List – Matthew West

Amen – Matthew West

Where I Belong – Nine Lashes

Money – Manic Drive

Vertical -1 Girl Nation

We are Brave – Shawn McDonald

Ready or Not – Britt Nicole (featuring Lecrae)

One Shot – Hawk Nelson

Give My Life Away – Big Daddy Weave

Say it Loud – Sanctus Real

Ready Set Go – Royal Tailor

Transformed – Shonlock feat. TobyMac

Unstoppable – TobyMac

Shake – MercyMe

Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us – Sidewalk Prophets

Hold Me Down – Storyside:B

What a Friend – Matt Maher

Don’t Wait – Addison Road

Outcast – Kerrie Roberts

The River – Jordan Feliz

Fishers of Men – Newsboys

Tear it Up- Kutless


Cooldown:

Warrior (remix) – Hannah Kerr

All of Me – Ashes Remain

Beside Me – Cameron James

Found – Seventh Day Slumber


Stretches:

Worn – Tenth Avenue North

From the Inside Out – Seventh Day Slumber

Never Once – One Sonic Society

Leaving 99- Audio Adrenaline


If you still have a craving for more workout songs, check out The Top 50 Christian Workout Songs.

What are your favorite workout songs?