12 Ways to Give

I am planning a theme for giving each month next year. Sharing and Gratitude are both part of the BE MEASURING framework of happiness habits, so simple actions of thankfulness are included. To make your own planned giving calendar, here’s some things to consider:

  1. Decide on the amount you wish to give.
  2. Choose causes that are important to you.
  3. Look them up at www.charitynavigator.org/. You can register to make it easy to give online and keep track of donations for tax purposes.
  4. Think of some simple gifts you can give to thank someone each month.
  5. Start a file for your giving plan, favorite recipes, thank you cards, etc.

Simple gift ideas: a candle, a book, a music CD, wrapped chocolates, flowers, variety pack of tea paired with shortbread or butter cookies, J Skinner cinnamon rolls, muffins, a gift card. Send e-cards from the World Wildlife Fund.

Here’s the plan I’ve come up with.

Month Cause: Thank: Donate to: Give:
Jan Nature World Wildlife Fund Buy a calendar from the National Audubon Society or other charity
Feb Animals A humane society volunteer a local animal shelter Take dog or cat food to a local shelter, walk a dog
Mar Environment A fireman Greenpeace Take a pie to local fire station
Apr Libraries A librarian a local library Take muffins to local library
May Health A nurse Ronald McDonald House Take flowers to local hospital nurses station
Jun Parents A mom, a dad Charity for pregnant teens A Symphony candy bar with relaxing sounds CD, diapers
Jul Children A big brother or sister Make-a-wish foundation Read to children in a local hospital
Aug Seniors A meals on wheels volunteer Local senior center Play cards or a board game with someone at a local nursing home
Sep Education A teacher Local arts organization or historical society Take cinnamon rolls to nearest school
Oct Domestic Violence A policeman Domestic violence organization Take a cookie tray to local police station
Nov Veterans A veteran a local food bank Take a veteran out to dinner, help pack food for Thanksgiving donations
Dec Salvation Army, Angel Tree

Ideas? Let us know at the Daily PlanIt Facebook page!

Apps for Happiness and Personal Development

BE MEASURING for more Happiness and Personal Development

When I first wrote the Year of Personal Development series my focus was on free printable tools, but now many apps have been created that could be helpful tools to add happiness habits (and personal development) to your routine. I’ve been seeing a lot about the Happify app, which uses a S.T.A.G.E. framework to build five key happiness skills. However, it is currently only available in iOS, and there is a subscription price. I’m an Android gal and I’m all about free tools whenever possible!

Various frameworks for happiness are outlined at Happiness Based on Science and Positive Psychology. I arranged them in my own way and came up with a framework that happens to spell out BE MEASURING. Ironically, I’m not sure we actually really need to be measuring all of this. Systems that are simple and easy to use are usually best, and often a printable paper option will fill the bill. While it is important to measure what you want to manage, tracking a whole bunch of things can become tedious. However, if you enjoy using apps, many are gathered here that may be useful. As I’ve thought about ways to add more of these key skills into my life, I realized: 1) a simple checklist is probably pretty effective, 2) many of the keys to happiness are activities for personal development, and 3) it would sure be nice to have all of this incorporated into one Android app.

Habit Trackers:I am trying out the Fig app as a wellness habit tracker. It is similar to Lift, but personally I like it better. While designed for social sharing, you can choose not to. Two drawbacks are: it isn’t compatible with my tablet, and it’s not reminding me that much. It is possible that I’m still learning about it. GoalTracker could be another one to try.


The Fig habit tracker app

A simple checklist for the BE MEASURING framework from the Daily PlanIt:

BeMeasuringA printable pdf of BE MEASURING (letter size)



Breathe Deeply (& sleep well)-Breathing deeply is a habit with many benefits. It was one of the most helpful things I did during a Year of Personal Development. It is helpful to remember to stretch and take several deep breaths about once every hour. (time: about 5 minutes)

  • Apps: Breath2Relax includes a demonstration, stress rating, and cycles for deep breathing. There is also a very simple instructional app to learn how to breath deeply called the Tactical Breather App. These are from T2health, which makes apps for military veterans. They also have a mood tracker (see below) and some others I’d like to try out like the Virtual Hope Box and Mindfulness Coach. The Living Well app is designed for men who have been sexually abused in childhood, which includes breathing and mindfulness meditations. I am trying To Do Reminder to set reminders. If you have problems with sleeping, White Noise Lite looks good.

Exercise (& eat a healthy diet)-Just a few minutes of exercise a day can release endorphins, but you can gain additional benefits with a longer workout. If you can spend some time outside, that is a mood booster too. (time: about 30 minutes)

  • Apps: Myfitnesspal is wonderful for tracking your diet and exercise, but I got tired of entering my info every day. The JEFIT app provides visual examples of weight lifting exercises, and can track your progress. I’m struggling a bit to set up the workout I want, and I don’t really care about tracking this separately.
  • Food Planner is the best app I have found for managing recipes and menu planning. It just takes a bit more time and effort than I want to put into it. If I need inspiration, I usually just flip through index cards with a picture of the main dishes we mostly have.

Meditate (& relax)-There are many benefits to meditation. (time: about 15 minutes)

  • Apps: Take a Break from Stress with the app from Meditation Oasis. Choose between a 7 minute break and a longer 13 minute option. I sometimes use this app during my noon break. Relax Melodies is great (and fun!) for creating a variety of gentle sounds.

Emotional awareness-Empathize with others, and notice your own emotions.

  • Apps: T2health has a  mood tracker which was designed to treat PTSD. How Are You Feeling? may be another one to try. You could get a baseline by tracking for a week, then introduce some habits proven to increase happiness to see how your mood is influenced.

Aspire-Know your purpose and direction, and take action toward meaningful goals. (time: at least 5 minutes a day)

  • Apps: I haven’t found an app for goal setting that I love. In my system, I include steps toward projects in my to-do lists and keep lists of goals and projects in Google Drive. Chaos Control is a GTD Task List that includes defining your goals, which I have not tried out yet. Reach Your Goals may be another one to try. Some possibilities use a stick rather than a carrot as incentive.

Share-Give to causes you believe in by volunteering or financially. Perform random acts of kindness. (time: about 2 minutes)

  • Apps: In Android, there is Pay It Forward and DoGood, both look very tied in to social sharing and I haven’t tried them out yet.

Uplift-yourself with positive music and thoughts, and others with compliments and kind words.

Relate-Spend time with people you care about, do nice things for them, interact with others.

Increase Flow-Use the talents that cause you to lose track of time.

Notice-Look up, be aware and mindful, pay attention, smell the roses, enjoy tastes, etc. Plan activities and anticipate them, remember good times.

Gratitude-start the day with appreciation, and end it by thinking of a few things you’re thankful for. In between, thank those you are grateful for. (time: a few minutes)

Time to cultivate these happy habits

Happiness Habits Add Up =An hour a day
Uplifting: music, thoughts & words Anytime
An act of kindness About 2 minutes
Gratitude About 3 minutes
Breathe deeply About 5 minutes
Take an action toward a goal At least 5 minutes (or more)
Meditation About 15 minutes
Exercise About 30 minutes

(with thanks to http://mytherapypage.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/5-happy-habits-an-hour-a-day/)

Links to more apps:

Have you tried apps for happiness and personal development that you like? Let us know at the Daily PlanIt Facebook page!

Happiness Based on Science and Positive Psychology

Can we increase our happiness quotient? Research in the science of Positive Psychology has identified factors that influence our happiness.  Sonja Lyubomirsky, a leader in the field of Positive Psychology describes some of her discoveries in the following video.

Martin Seligman pioneered Positive Psychology, and is the author of “Authentic Happiness” and other books. Authentic Happiness at the University of Pennsylvania uses the PERMA framework:

  • Positive Emotions
  • Engagement (Flow, using your talents)
  • Positive Relationships
  • Meaning (being involved in a cause you believe in)
  • Accomplishment

The Happify app uses a S.T.A.G.E. framework to build five key happiness skills. However, it is currently only available in iOS, and there is a subscription price. I’m an Android gal and look for free tools whenever possible!

10 Keys to Happier Living at Action for Happiness:

  1. Giving
  2. Relating
  3. Exercising
  4. Appreciating
  5. Trying out
  6. Direction
  7. Resilience
  8. Emotion
  9. Acceptance
  10. Meaning

Daily PlanIt Resources

Taking actions in these areas more often will increase happiness.

Learn from Happiness Experts:

Learn more with a free online course available at Edx called The Science of Happiness from Berkley’s Greater Good Science Center.


Make Good Habits Easy, and Bad Habits Hard

Oh, we humans. We can be pretty amusing at times. I recently read about how Google decreased the amount of M&Ms employees were eating, simply by making it a little more difficult to see them. Actually the article I originally saw (which I can’t find now) said they just put a lid on an open container which led to a dramatic reduction.


Then I read the article New Harvard Research Reveals a Fun Way to Be More Successful at Barking Up the Wrong Tree. In this interview with Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, says:

If you can make a positive habit 3 to 20 seconds easier to start, you’re likelihood of doing it increases dramatically.

Make good habits easy, and bad habits hard

Want to exercise more often? Set out everything you need to exercise ahead of time to reduce the amount of activation energy required to get going. Want to watch less television? Remove the batteries from the remote.

Shawn makes five points in the article, and number two ties in with the book “Mindset” by Carol Dweck.

See problems as challenges, not threats.

Read the article to find out how stress was reduced simply by watching a video, and the other points.

Change Your Mindset and Make Waves

Carol Dweck describes her research on two mindsets in the book “Mindset.” The fixed mindset is based on the belief that intelligence and other traits are unchanging: either you have them or you don’t. The growth mindset is based on the belief that intelligence and other traits can be developed with effort. The great thing about this book is that simply being aware of the two mindsets and the results of holding them helps us to reframe our thinking. People with the fixed mindset avoid challenges, which could result in failure and reveal a lower level of desirable qualities. People with the growth mindset do not fear failure, as they view it as an opportunity for learning.

Mindset does not say we can be anything we want with enough time and hard work, but that the hand you are dealt is just the starting point for development. We do encounter limitations, and some people may have more natural talent in various areas that makes it easier for them to develop in those areas. However, most people who at excel at something put in a lot of time and work to get where they are.  Mindset

Mindset Resources

Make Waves” by Patti Johnson outlines methods for creating change with many examples of how others have done it. The author challenges commonly held beliefs that can hold us back, like “Change must come from the top.” See how anyone can start a wave and more, in an excerpt at Success.com. Start by asking  “What can I do?” and “What if?”

Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. -E.L. Doctorow.

As in writing, it’s okay to get started with a wave before you know all the answers. The author describes incremental planning, with changes expected to be made as you learn more. To start a wave, you do need to be able to clearly describe what you want to accomplish and why, and have some ideas for where to start. However, you don’t have to have everything completely planned out prior to beginning.

Do an experiment

When you want don’t know the answer to a problem, it can be helpful to run experiments. The experimental method is about trying different things out to see if they work or not. We see this in the business world with the Lean Startup Method, which depends on creating a minimal viable product to test. While Yoda said “Do or do not. There is no try,” in the movie Star Wars, William Edward Hickson said “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

Things I learned from these books:

  • Be curious!
  • It’s okay to start without knowing all the answers.
  • Test assumptions with experiments.
  • View failure as learning, and try doing something else.
  • Change isn’t easy, but much can be accomplished with hard work and time.

10 Books That Have Stayed With Me (and why)

Recently I was tagged in Facebook to list 10 books that had an impact on me. After I made my list, I read somewhere that it becomes more interesting when you describe WHY certain books stick with you.  I included some from various stages of my life, but all of them either made me feel strongly about something, took me into a different world, or I learned something life-changing.

It was really hard to limit to 10, but here are the ones I chose:

  1. “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz (because these are my guiding principles. I own all his books, and there are many markers sticking out of all of them.)
  2. “Pride & Prejudice” by Jane Austen (because of Austen’s amazing insight into people, and the way she threads wit into the words as she describes a life of gentility that sadly no longer exists. I picked up a copy at a garage sale when I was in high school and was hooked. This one has been re-read countless times.)
  3. “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki (because he explains the importance or thinking like an entrepreneur)
  4. “All About Love” by Bell Hooks (because she explains about actions that are loving, and those that are not)
  5. “The Highly Effective Detective” by Richard Yancey (because it was much deeper than I originally thought, and I found it very touching)
  6. “Veritas” by William Lashner (because it was a great story. I love his acerbic style too.)
  7. “Ragtime” by E. L. Doctorow (because I admire this intriguing style as different plots are inter-twined)
  8. “Little Big Man” by Thomas Berger (because I was drawn into another world. This one became quite overdue in my locker in high school)
  9. “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” by Robert Heinlein (one of my first forays into science fiction. again, a journey to another world: one where a computer can become a character you care deeply about)
  10. “Horton Hears a Who” by Dr. Seuss (because I learned about loyalty)

That’s the power of why!

An analysis of the 100 books that Facebook users love is pretty interesting too.


Design Your Life Like an Architect

Earthships at wikipedia

Earthships at wikipedia

People enjoy living in spaces that are attractive, efficient, and comfortable. My favorite television shows are the ones where they design homes on the Home and Garden channel.

“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” — Gloria Steinem

When I saw this quote from Gloria Steinem posted by Success Magazine, for a moment I thought the word planning said playing. For me, it is true: dreaming is a form of playing, and planning is a form of playing. I think creating different designs; whether it is combining different ideas, words, or images of home design is the greatest possible fun! Ultimately, actually making the ideas into reality can be challenging. That is the part that takes effort and work.

This quote courtesy of @Pinstamatic (http://pinstamatic.com)

As I have explored ways to find purpose, I discovered what John Gardner said in a speech: “Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life.” This means if you aren’t sure what your purpose is, you can build it.

To design your life like an architect:

Start with a Dream: what would your ideal life look like? How big will it be? Where do you want to build it? How will it be unique and different from all the other ones? Why do you want to include certain design elements and not others?

File:Earthship plan with vertically glazed southern wall.svg

By Felix Müller (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Design a Plan: what building blocks do you have? Will you make renovations or start from the beginning? Is the project one that you can afford with your budget? How can you build it strong and able to handle stress? What are the best ways to make it efficient? How can you design a life that inspires creativity? How can you design a life that combines safety with inspiration and challenge? What are the dimensions? What can you build that will make a difference when you are gone?


Build It: do the work to create the experience you want to design. Blueprints won’t give you shelter, or leave anything lasting behind! Get the right tools and skills you need for the job. Then pour the foundation, hammer those nails and paint the walls. Furnish the rooms with what you need. Don’t forget to stretch a little bit out of the comfort zone.

In construction, you have to follow building codes and specifications exactly, or your final result will not look at all the way you planned. In life, I’m learning that it’s okay to get started without knowing exactly what the final result will look like. You can begin with only a general idea, because you will probably learn things along the way and make changes. Life is actually not set in concrete or stone, so the important thing is to get started, and be willing to play around with ideas while you build.

Six Questions to Create the Life You Want from More. The movie “Life As A House,” also makes this point.

New Free eBook: How to Start a Fire

Words added on pinwords.com

How to Start a Fire: Find what you are passionate about and focus the flame

I’m happy to announce the release of a new free eBook called “How To Start a Fire: Find what you are passionate about and focus the flame.” (Download: StartAFire2 pdf) This short guide is full of the very best tools I have found to discover what you are passionate about and focus the flame for a purpose that is meaningful to you. While I have not discovered a magic formula, there are helpful ways to look for clues. We shine when we connect with this powerful renewable energy source! The eBook is a condensed version of what you can explore in my course “On Purpose” at Udemy.com.

This free eBook accompanies the launch of Whole Life Fitness, a way to develop strengths in all dimensions through personal development. This is the topic we will explore at our very first local meeting. Please help make the world a brighter place: explore and share the information in “How To Start a Fire.”


Whole Life Fitness

Whole Life Fitness is a fun and simple way to develop strengths in all dimensions. It’s  compasspersonal development for busy people.

The world faces an energy crisis. Levels of engagement at work are abysmally low (only 29% in the U.S. and 13% worldwide are actively engaged at work according to Gallup Surveys!), and few people know what they are passionate about. It’s not too surprising that many employers say applicants are lacking soft skills like communication, creativity, and collaboration. The very skills that employers say they want, are not often taught.

Our brightest stars do not learn how to shine, but instead are becoming dimmer as they are drained of energy. I believe this should be changed, and take a stand for teaching skills and developing the strengths that people need. If you agree, please join us and make a difference. The world becomes a little darker every day, and we must fight back to increase the light by connecting with our greatest renewable energy source. Let’s open the door to a brighter future!


Start a Whole Life Fitness group to learn from personal development experts with informative videos, hands on activities & discussions of ideas in meetings with monthly topics based on a Year of Personal Development. This framework could work well for organizations involved in workforce development, community assistance, and career & life coaching.

Be a star! Learn to shine! Develop your strengths with Whole Life Fitness.


You can’t help but learn skills if you do the weekly activities in twelve topics for a year of personal development. And if you join others for a monthly meeting on the topics, you will connect with others interested in continuous learning and personal development to learn even more.


The goal of Whole Life Fitness is to light up the sky with stars.

While I love Coldplay, the lyrics of “Sky Full of Stars,” may not completely fit this movement. Do you think “Shine” by Take That is a better choice for our theme song? Let us know at the Daily Planit Facebook page!

To summarize, Whole Life Fitness is:

  • A way to develop strengths in all dimensions. A solution for learning the skills needed to succeed and creating more engagement at work through personal development.
  • A meeting that combines informative videos, and hands on activities to discuss ideas from personal development experts.
  • Based on topics from a Year of Personal Development: Mental, Emotional, Spiritual, Physical, Relationships, Social, Financial, Organizational, Recreational, Career, Character, Purpose.
  • Personal development for busy people, to discover talents and learn skills like communication, setting goals, time management, and understanding emotions.

Join us in the fight to amp up energy levels and save the planet!

Tools to Get Started

I will soon be facilitating a local group in Independence, Missouri, and invite you to follow along as we begin this adventure. I hope to also begin an online discussion group. Stay tuned!


How to Make a Difference

If you have a cause you are passionate about, or a problem you want to solve to make the world a better place, this Checklist for Change can help with information to outline a plan for change.

I developed the Printable Checklist for Change (pdf) after I heard about the How To Start a Revolution Webinar created by Jonathan Fields. Scott Dinsmore at Live Your Legend describes the webinar in his article 18 Field-Tested Steps to Launching a Non-Violent Revolution. The Daily PlanIt Change Toolkit provides links to tools for the steps and  includes a Change Outline.



  • Choose a name that describes what the idea is about.
  • Describe the primary purpose. What is it for, how does it work, what are the features?
  • Identify the Value Proposition. What are the unique benefits offered?
  • Identify the Pain Point? What problem is solved?


Clear and compelling communication of the idea is essential to get the message out, reach people who care and get them involved. Start by giving some thought to develop a brand to use for marketing.

  • Choose images and colors that best convey the idea.
  • Choose a song that conveys the idea.
  • Make a Manifesto of the core values.
  • Think of a story that captures emotions. What inspired your idea?
  • Think of a slogan or tagline. Why do you want to solve the problem, what would you put on a tshirt?
  • Create a compelling, convincing video or presentation to pitch the idea.


  • Research to find statistics that support the need for the idea.
  • Run surveys or focus groups to discover if there is really a need or desire.
  • Test the effectiveness of the branding for communicating the message.
  • Choose the metrics you will use to measure success. What will success look like?


  • Identify the target market or audience. Who are you serving and who will help? Where will you find them?
  • Choose the channels you will use. How will you reach people? A blog, social media, videos, meetings, newsletters? Will you sell products that tie in: books, courses, tshirts?
  • Develop tools to help spread the word and form groups to support the idea.
  • Look for a group of energetic core leaders who can present ideas well. Gain input from early adopters and true believers. Put out a call to action and form a leadership team.


  • Decide on for profit or nonprofit status. Do you want to raise money?
  • Identify the costs that will be involved. What resources will be needed to provide this?
  • Identify sources of income to pay for costs. Will you sell tshirts or other products?
  • Think of possible partnerships. Are there existing groups or organizations that could be a good fit? What are the benefits of connecting with them?
  • Research the competition. Who are they, and what are their strengths & weaknesses?


Build a launch around an event, a manifesto, a video, or a webinar.


Continue to build community.

Find tools for change at the Change Toolkit.

Photo: Remember to dream big. Happy #MLKday.