Saturday, December 13, 2014

LIFE TIP -5 Regrets From People On Their Deathbeds, Revealed By A Nurse

 by Siobhan Harmer
It is grim and frightening, but death is also inevitable. All we can hope for is that we are at peace with ourselves and with the way we have spent our time. In this wonderful piece written by Bronnie Ware via The Unbounded Spirit, we discover the true regrets that those about to end their journey have.
PHOTO by virtualphotos.com

 

Nurse Reveals Top 5 Regrets People Make On Their Deathbeds

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.
People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.
When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.
By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.
We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.
It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.
When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.
Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.
About The Author:
Bronnie Ware is the author of the best-selling memoir, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying – A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, released worldwide, with translations in 27 languages. She also runs an online personal growth and song writing course, has released two albums of original songs, and writes a well-loved blog. Bronnie’s newest book, Your Year for Change, was released in October, 2014.
She is now an author, personal growth facilitator, and speaker. Bronnie lives in NSW, Australia.

Friday, December 12, 2014

INVESTMENT Tip- Investing 101

by Alden Wicker
If there’s one thing that all wealthy people have in common it’s this: They invest.
That’s because investing money is the smartest and most reliable way to grow it over the long term, after you have first built up your emergency savings (which never gets invested) Let’s say you have $1,000 to invest and you won’t need it until ten years from now. If you put it in a savings account, you might earn about 1% per year. Over ten years, that interest adds up to $105. Or you can put it in a diversified investment account. While short-term dips happen, we can assume over ten years an investment account will grow by an average 7% per year. Given this, you could earn $967. That could mean actually doubling your money, which is a huge difference. Yup, those wealthy people are on to something.
Even knowing what your money could be worth, you might still be nervous about investing, which is very normal. It’s true, investing poorly could lead to that $1,000 disappearing forever and there is no such thing as a guaranteed investment. But investing is a necessary part of building wealth, and yet even when you include employer-sponsored retirement accounts like 401(k)s, an April 2011 Gallup study found that only 54% of Americans hold investments like stocks and mutual funds. And the recession has only scared people even more: That’s the lowest percentage since Gallup started tracking this statistic in 1999.
But you don’t need to be a financial analyst to make smart investing decisions. You just need to know some ground rules about how to protect your money while letting it grow.

Investing in a Nutshell

Investing is putting your money in a financial vehicle that might enable it to grow more quickly than it would in a savings account.
While most of us think of “earning” as putting in hours of work and getting paid for that, investing essentially puts our money into a marketplace where companies and governments and other entities can use it to create a profit that will be returned to us. (At least that’s the hope—some investments do go bust, taking our money with them.)
Most commonly, people invest by buying financial assets like stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs (and if you don’t know exactly what these are, don’t worry, we’ll describe them later). When we sell them, we hopefully make a profit by selling at a price higher than what we bought them for. If you have a 401(k) or IRA, you are likely already investing. By the time you retire, that money will likely have grown significantly.
What investing is not: gambling or a get-rich-quick scheme. While you always hear about how much you would have made if you had invested in Google X years ago, that’s a rarity. Could you name the next Google today? Not likely. But if done prudently and with an eye to long-term gains, investing is an intelligent financial strategy.


Why Investing Is Important

The biggest benefit to investing is that it helps your money grow faster than inflation. Inflation is the force that slowly erodes the purchasing power of your dollar, making everything from bread to cars a little more expensive every passing year. That’s why people used to be able to pay 50 cents for a movie and now get charged $15.
To understand this better, let’s say your parents had $1,000 in 1982. Let’s consider two things they could have done with it: saved it or spent it.
  • If they had kept it in a savings account … Let’s say it had been earning 1% per year in interest. That account would now be worth $1,740. Sounds great, right? Except for the fact that inflation over the last 30 years was 3.43% per year.
  • If they had spent it … Back then, that $1,000 would have bought them goods that, in today’s dollars, would be worth $2,940. So, inflation in the price of goods outpaced the 1% interest rate in the savings account. 
But saving and spending aren’t the only two things your parents could have done with their money. Their third option would have been to invest it.
Investing helps you beat inflation by a lot, which makes it a crucial part of saving for retirement. For instance, if your parents had invested the same amount of money in a diversified basket of mutual funds, they would have grown their money 15 times over, to have $14,740 in 2012.* You can see why if you want to grow your money over a long period of time, investing is the way to go.


Why Investing Is Important for Women

Before we dive into why investing is important for women, let’s take a step back for a second and think about one of the main purposes of investing: to be able to retire.
When it comes to retirement, women need to save more—much more—than men. First, because they live longer (on average), and second, because during retirement they tend to have higher health costs than men.But despite these two big reasons for women to save more than men, in reality, they save less. On average, women today retire with two-thirds less in assets than men. If there’s anyone for whom investing is important, it’s women.
Unfortunately, women tend to be much less confident than men when it comes to investing. While 88% of men say they are very knowledgeable when it comes to financial planning, only 57% of women say the same. That lack of confidence often leads women to hand over management of their money to the men in their lives.
That’s a bad move, because women tend to make better investors than men. They are more likely to buy and hold investments, a characteristic especially important in financial crises, such as the one in 2008. That tendency to stay calm instead of panicking translates to better returns over time.
In short: You can totally do this.

How Investing Works

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to invest, you should understand a few fundamental principles underlying all investing:

Risk Tolerance

The first step to investing is to determine for yourself how much risk you are willing to take on. When it comes to investing, risk is the possibility that your investments will perform worse than you were hoping or expected. As a general rule, the younger you are, the more risks you can take, because if something goes wrong at age 30, you have time to start building up your money again. Plus you can ride out dips in the market and be confident it will eventually go back up. But as you get closer to retirement, you’ll be more cautious with your money.

Return

So why would people want to invest in anything high risk at all? It has to do with your return, or the profit you hope to make. As a general rule, the higher the risk, the higher the potential return. So investing in a tiny startup is very risky, but if that startup succeeds, it could grow ten times. (On the flip side, it could disappear and take your money with it.) Investing in Coca-Cola is much less risky, but it will probably only grow a fraction of that each year. And bonds are the safest, but you pay for that safety by making less money than you would in stocks during boom times.

Diversification

So, how do you avoid undue risk? Diversification, which means putting your money in more than one type of investment so that bad performance in some of them will be offset by good performance in others. Investing all your money in one company is never a good idea because if it goes south, so does all your money. You want to spread your investments out across a wide variety of companies, industries and even countries.  This doesn’t only distribute risk; it also means you have a variety of growth opportunities that you might not have if everything is in one stock.

Common Investments

Stocks
When you buy a stock for $10, you are actually buying a tiny piece of a company and becoming a type of owner, called a shareholder. The company will use your money to expand—by hiring more employees or opening new locations, for example—and increase profits. As the company grows, it becomes more valuable, and your little piece of it becomes more valuable too. If all goes well, you can eventually sell that little piece for $12, $20, or $50, depending on the circumstances. Of course, it’s also possible that the company will lose value or go out of business, and then your little piece isn’t worth much or anything at all. That’s the risk you take.
Bonds
You can also invest in bonds. When you buy a bond, you are essentially loaning the government or a company money in order to finance their business. For example, when you buy a U.S. Treasury bond, you are loaning the federal government $1,000 for a certain time period—say, 10 years. They will pay you back the interest every year, and then at the end of the 10 years, you’ll also get your $1,000 back. Bonds are the safest type of investment, since it is safe to assume the U.S. government will pay you back. (If it can’t, we all have much larger worries.)
Mutual Funds and ETFs
We talked above about the importance of diversification. Mutual funds and ETFs do a lot of the work of diversification for you. They are collections of stocks, bonds and other types of investment vehicles. Some hold a variety of stocks from a certain country or region. Some hold stock from a certain industry. Some just mimic the makeup of  indexes like the Dow Jones or Nasdaq
The difference between ETFs and mutual funds lie in how they are managed and how often they are traded. ETFs can be traded like a stock, while mutual funds can only be sold and bought in certain intervals. Mutual funds are also often managed by a person and have different fee structures as well. But both can serve almost the same purpose in your portfolio.

What to Keep in Mind When You Invest

Before you jump into investing, you’ll want to keep some general principles in mind:

1. Remember that there are ups and downs, not just ups.

Historically, over the long term, the stock market has tended to go up, but it will have days, months and even years where it will go down. The key to dealing with the inevitable swings in the stock market is to keep a cool head and think about the long term. Don’t follow day-to-day market news or try to “play” the market. Instead, check in just a few times a year and rebalance according to your needs.

2. Choose a strategy and stick with it.

From time to time, you might hear about a hot new investment strategy or tip. An IPO everyone is buzzing about (Netscape), a fabulous investment firm run by a friend of a friend (Heard of him? His name is Madoff) or a complicated investment vehicle that is giving unheard of returns (collateralized debt obligations backed by subprime mortgages!). It’s best to not get caught up in a bubble or hype, and instead stick to your original strategy.

3. A down market isn’t the time to pull out, it’s the time to buy.

People normally feel confident enough to invest when the market is going up, and then they get scared and pull out when the market goes down. Unfortunately, this is the exact opposite of what they should be doing–not only because they’ve forgotten that there are natural ups and downs (point #1), but because they are then buying investments at their most expensive and selling them at the moment they are least likely to get much for them. You should do the opposite and view a down market as an opportunity to buy at a discount. Like a sale at Kate Spade, the temporary dips in the market help you get your hands on investment shares you want for the future at a better price.

Remember …

Investing over the long term is the best way to grow your money and outpace inflation. And you don’t have to be a business school graduate to do it well. You just need to know the basics and keep your eye on the prize: a comfortable retirement that includes lots of travel and a beach house.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

LIFE Tip- How Can We Stay Healthy and Live Longer? The Answer is Enlightening

by MSN health
Sometimes, when it comes to our health, we have to think beyond what science can measure. Stress, for instance, is not wholly quantifiable—yet it can be worse for our bodies and longevity than smoking a pack a day or maintaining a candy-and-cookies diet.
Sometimes, the best preventative medicine doesn’t come in a screening or a pill. It’s just embracing a sense of purpose in your life.
           New analysis in The Atlantic takes a look at all the ways science is proving that living on purpose is an essential component to staying healthy. A new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that people who have purpose in their lives were more likely to partake in preventative healthcare like mammograms and flu shots.
That’s not all. There are many more examples of purposeful living’s impact. The program Experience Corps has paired struggling early elementary kids with an adult age 55 or older for tutoring. Not only did the students’ attitudes and test scores increase over time, but the adults felt a renewed sense of purpose in their lives. Their depression rates fell, their cognition improved, their physical mobility, stamina, and flexibility all received a bump.
Nobel Prize-winner and biochemistry professor Elizabeth Blackburn has noted the link between stress and bodily aging: the caps on the ends of our chromosomes, called telomeres, shorten with psychological pressure. Shorter telomeres expose our chromosomes to damage, they fray, and we’re more likely to get sick and die—but the enzyme telomerase can slow down this aging process. With that in mind, Blackburn put stressed-out subjects into a three-month meditation program during one of her studies, and found they had longer telomeres and higher telomerase activity compared to those who did not meditate.
“It was the purpose, not the meditation itself,” explains Victor Strecher, professor of health behavior and health education at University of Michigan School of Public Health—a fact that is largely ignored by the medical sciences. But, he explains, "If things like purpose in life are rejected simply because they are philosophical ideas [not generally associated with the science of medicine], that's a problem... What if doctors had a prescription pad that just helped people develop greater purpose in life? I think we need something like this right now.”
Positive thinking and finding purpose are both mechanisms you can develop. Have you ever noticed that your troubles seem to melt when you think of others? Strecher says we need to look outside ourselves to improve our wellness. Volunteering is a huge lesson in perspective. Meditation and mindfulness can also help you learn what you are on this earth to do and the people you impact everyday—but you can’t get any of this in a shot from the doctor’s office. It’s on you. So, if you want one of the best ways to improve your health and wellbeing, think: I will live with purpose .