10 Ways to Improve Your Life

Here are 10 ways to improve your body, mind and spirit.

By Joe Kita from Reader's Digest
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    Relief From an Aching Back
    Before you call the chiropractor or a physical therapist, try spending a few days without your wallet or purse.
    You heard us. Men's wallets can be so thick, they press on nerves when sat on for any length of time. Likewise, women's shoulder bags can weigh ten pounds or more and can twist the body in all sorts of weird ways. Clean out your wallet or purse, and see if the pain doesn't ease.

    The Fountain of Youth
    What is the fountain of youth? Exactly what it suggests. Being just 2 percent underhydrated can make you act and feel older. For a sharp mind, smooth skin, better health, and fluid movement, you need water. But forget about the old eight-times-eight rule (eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily). Healthy people, it turns out, get all the water they need from what they eat and drink (that includes tea and coffee but not alcoholic beverages). Thirst, though, should be your guide. If you've worked up a sweat exercising, are in a hot climate, or are taking medications, you may need to drink more than usual.

    Your Way Out of the Woods
    Ashley Sharko and two college friends got lost for 55 hours in the Grand Tetons. They spent two near-freezing nights without food or water huddled under pine boughs. The incident taught Sharko some hard lessons about wilderness hiking: 1) Always leave a note about where you're heading (it was a text to her dad that aided her rescue); 2) follow water downstream to find civilization, but be prepared to turn back if it leads instead to cliffs or a waterfall; 3) stay in open areas during daylight search hours (Sharko was spotted by a helicopter). If you bed down for the night, mark a nearby open area with rocks or colorful gear; and 4) if you encounter a bear (as she did), avoid eye contact and back away slowly and quietly. If it's charging, jump, yell, and wave your arms to chase it away.

    More Safety and Security
    Two of the hottest tech gadgets are mobile phones and GPS units for your car. Both can simplify your life enormously or, if you're not careful, ruin it. To protect yours: Never program your home address into your GPS. If your car is stolen, all the thief has to do is hit that Go Home button to be guided to your place and, since he knows you're not there, press the garage-door opener for access. Instead, program a local store's address. Be careful how you list people in your phone's contacts list. If you lose your cell, the thief can text Hubby for a 'forgotten' PIN and then use your bank card to clear out your account. Use first names instead.

    More Time (for Everything)
    It may sound improbable, but the secret to finding more time in your day is spending more time in bed at night. According to James Maas, PhD, a sleep researcher at Cornell University, 'being sleep-deprived makes you do everything more slowly and with less focus. Most people don't realize what it's like to be fully awake and how much they can accomplish when they are.' To determine if this is the solution to your time crunch, add one hour to your nightly rest for a week. When test subjects at Henry Ford Hospital's Sleep Disorders and Research Center (Detroit, Michigan) did this, their level of alertness jumped 25 percent.

    More Time (for Exercise)
    Stop thinking of it as exercise. That separates it from life, which is counterproductive. No wonder you still don't have ripped abs! Better to think of being more active. This subtle shift in mind-set appears to be more conducive to long-term health and weight loss. Russell Pate, PhD, a professor of exercise science at the University of South Carolina, compared two people, one who was 'sedentary' (but active most of the day) and one who exercised for 60 minutes daily (but who was not very active). The sedentary person expended 10 percent more energy than the exerciser. So if you're constantly feeling as if you don't have time to get to the gym, make the world your gym. Do errands on foot, trade the tractor for a push mower, and open the garage door by hand rather than remote. Active is the new fit.

    The Ideal Diet
    Stop going from one fad eating plan to another. Instead, take the advice of Ellie Krieger, a Food Network chef and the author of So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week. 'Ask yourself one question before embarking on any diet,' she advises. 'And that is ‘Can I eat this way for the rest of my life?' ' If the answer is no, it's not worth the effort, because you'll eventually come off it. Only diets that are sustainable are ultimately successful.

    God
    If the paparazzi ever snapped a photo of the ultimate celebrity, what would it look like? Quite possibly, what you see above. This is just one of 150,000 water droplets that Martin Waugh has photographed (liquidsculpture.com). Churches and spiritual organizations, his biggest clients, see evidence in his photographs of something bigger at work. 'I never expected that kind of reaction,' says Waugh, an admittedly nonreligious physicist. 'But when you take almost anything and look at it closely with love, it creates an almost religious experience inside you. Something that's supposedly simple and predictable turns out to be complex and incredibly beautiful.' Try it: In addition to looking up for answers and inspiration, look around.

    A Job
    Try to land an interview between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. According to a survey by Robert Half Finance & Accounting, 69 percent of executives polled said that's the most productive meeting time. (After 3 p.m. is the worst.) And once you're in the door, make sure you're 'on.' Even though job interviews can last an hour or more, it's in the first ten minutes that managers form their opinion of you. The biggest mistake interviewees make? Having little or no knowledge of the company they want to work for.

    A Way to Work for Yourself
    The easiest way to become an entrepreneur is to become a consultant. Instead of deep pockets, all that's required is deep knowledge and experience in one subject area. Pamela Mitchell, president of the Reinvention Institute in Miami, suggests offering your services free of charge to a nonprofit in order to build your résumé and contacts. When you're approached by potential clients, never say you're 'consulting on the side,' because that devalues your work. Instead, look and act the part, always offering solutions rather than just identifying problems. Before you quit your current job, says Stephen Betts, PhD, a professor at William Paterson University, talk to your boss about becoming your department's 'intrapreneur'-someone whose chief duty is innovation. If you can convince him it's necessary, you'll have the best of both worlds: a regular paycheck and the freedom to work outside the box.

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