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Plan a Nice Little Surprise



Plan a Nice Little Surprise, by Gretchen Rubin

“Studies show that we react more strongly to an unexpected pleasure than to an expected one. The brain gets a bigger thrill when some little treat comes as a surprise, whether it’s a dollar found in the street, a free cookie sample, a gift for no reason, or an unexpected compliment from a boss. And not only do we feel happier, but these little boosts of happiness also make us temporarily smarter, friendlier, and more productive.

Try to plan nice little surprises for the people who are important to you—something as small as bringing home a favorite dessert, doing a chore without being asked (how long has that light-bulb been burned out?), suggest a fun outing, or send a quick, loving email.

Resolve to “Plan a nice little surprise.” By acting in a thoughtful, loving way, you boost your feelings of tenderness towards the people in your life, and they feel more beloved by you. And that contributes more to happiness of home than practically anything else you can do.”

This is day 9 of the 21 day relationship challenge. You can follow all 21 days for free by following one of these Happiness Project links. They’ll be emailed to you directly, 1 a day. I have read The Happiness Project, and am now reading Happier at Home. I like Gretchen Rubin‘s voice. I think these books are decked out with lots of happiness gems. (Click this link to access a sample chapter.)

 Check out
Happier at Home
Chapter Eight


Want to share your thoughts or experiences about this resolution? We can all learn from each other. Join the conversation on The Happiness Project blog.

Small gestures make a big difference.

 So, add comments~! What gestures are you making?


The Value of Placebo Pills – Funny and True



What is the Value of Placebo Pills?


I have just had so much fun reading about the quirky and fascinating placebo effect. “The Placebo Effect is one of the strangest and least understood phenomenons found in human physiology and psychology. Most of us know a thing or two about it, namely that we can essentially cure ourselves of maladies simply because we believe we are being cured of them. In other words we trick ourselves back into health, proving that the brain is an extremely powerful entity“(1). Here are some of the funny and informational things I read:

***Placebos help you play golf better, do more push ups, and even take away your cough.

***A placebo doesn’t require manipulation to work. In a recent Harvard study, a bottle with pills labeled PLACEBO worked just as well as the best medication.

***”Approximately half the drugs that fail in late stage trials fail because they simply can’t out-perform placebos”.

***People can get “placebo drunk” on non-alcoholic beer, complete with lower IQ and impaired judgement. There is a youtube video showing a frat party that served up an alcohol free keg. I didn’t watch it. You can link to it from the listverse link below.

***Another placebo effect is called “Nocebo”. This is funny~! People can also get the “side effects” of the thing that is being “placeboed”….. like irritable bowels or erectile dysfunction.

**Placebo effect also occurs with dogs, and other animals like lab mice.

***Some high profile studies are showing that placebos can be as effective as anti-depressants (probably more effective since anxiety is a side-effect of some anti-depressants).

***Placebo pill color matters: “Researchers have learned that yellow placebo pills are the most effective at treating depression while red pills cause the patient to be more alert and awake. Green pills help ease anxiety while white pills soothe stomach issues such as ulcers.”

***”Fake surgeries can be just as effective as the real thing, taking the placebo effect to the next level.”

***”The more placebo pills taken the better, with those taken four times a day more effective than those taken twice daily. Pills that have a “brand name” stamped on them also work better than pills that have nothing written on them. It appears that we humans are superficial even when it comes to the fake drugs we ingest.”

***We can’t (typically) will our way toward recovery, but need to take a pill. In essence, we need some sort of “external influence” to initiate the sequence of events that lead to the placebo effect.



Placebo pills are for sale by the pound on amazon.com (hilarious reviews!). Knowing that they are available makes me feel so much better~!  No more headaches, sore throats, flu, etc….. the whole family will now be healthy forever~! Another source of placebo pills, and more in depth placebo stats and facts: click here to go to placebo.com. These guys are goofing off, and making some money having a good laugh. Their motto: NOTHING WORKS BETTER ! I get a chuckle that they are going for it, packaging and selling placebos in a bottle labelled placebo~! Why not~!?

(1) Listverse.com (quoted above) has more crazy-fun in-depth placebo information. I like to keep my blog posts short because people are more apt to read short blog posts~! Link to listverse.com placebo list: 10 Crazy Facts About the Placebo Effect.

“There is a website, Placeboeffect.com, which holds itself up as ‘The Official Placebo Effect Resource‘ (whatever ‘official’ means in the world of placebos!) Here you can access classes, essays, an ebook and other resources on the phenomenon, though not placebos themselves.” (Roughly quoted from placebo.com.)

Feel free to re-blog or share this on facebook and other social media, as it is informational and funny~! Please do~!

And the day you find out why…

I am re-blogging today, a 1st for me. I like the basic concept of Everyday Power’s blog post. I also believe people are born for a purpose, probably many layers and stages of purpose along the way. But, it seems like folks can get stuck in the rut of wondering what that purpose might be, feel like they are being ineffective, and then become inactive and discouraged. While I don’t believe we always need to find out exactly why we are here in “specific detail”, that sure can be an encouraging bonus~!  (Hint: love God, and imitate God.)
We can actually have more influence than we’re aware of, sometimes by accident, and even by a random occurrence. Brook and I have had the “what are we doing in Bethlehem” talk a number of times. We’ve found out repeatedly, and often years later, that we have had a positive affect on many people along the way, and we didn’t have any idea that we had made any difference at the time. Brook and I ride bikes, and wave to people a lot. We’ve had people stop us and thank us for waving to them on a day when they felt lonely. We made them smile and got them through a hard day. We have sometimes bought peoples’ groceries at the supermarket. We found out months later that one of these people had gotten a cancer diagnosis and had prayed for a sign that God still cared. We were the answer God sent, and had no idea. So, I agree with Jeff in suggesting that we should “do something”. In our case, “doing something” has proven to be a valued service to others, and that has an importance more far reaching than we will ever know. If you are living well,  you are probably also being effective beyond your knowledge. Be godly, and you will make a difference.

Beautiful Abandoned Places | Nature Pictures


I have dreams that I am running through beautiful abandoned places. In the dreams, I am in awe of the beauty, and energized by running; I never want to stop. I have never been able to duplicate this feeling in the real world, with the exception of one bike ride I went on 8 years ago. Well, imagine my delight when I found a website with 33 beautiful abandoned places. I agree with the curator of that site: they are awe inspiring, and yet melancholic. I have included a sampling of the the photos here, and a link below. I also found that if one googles the names of these places, there are other stunning photos available. I’d like to see more of Nara Dreamland and San Fruttuosa~! But, life is busy. So, this is it for today.

Nara Dreamland in Japan

Nara Dreamland in Japan

Fishing Hut on a Lake in Germany

Fishing hut on a lake in Germany

Kolmanskop in the Namib Desert

Kolmanskop in the Namib Desert

El Hotel del Salto in Colombia

El Hotel del Salto in Colombia

Holland Island in the Chesapeake Bay

Holland Island in the Chesapeake Bay

Abandoned Subway Depot in Cincinnati

Cincinnati’s abandoned subway depot

The Kerry Way Walking Path Between Sneem & Kenmare in Ireland

8. The Kerry Way Walking Path, Sneem, Kenmare,Ireland

House of the Bulgarian Communist Party

House of the Bulgarian Communist Party

Christ of the Abyss at San Fruttuoso, Liguria

Christ of the Abyss at San Fruttuoso, Liguria Follow this link to see many more beautiful abandoned places~!  The 33 Most Beautiful Abandoned Places In The World | Nature Pictures. The author writes: “Many people don’t know about these famous abandoned places. Many of these places are really something amazing, but they are also really sad when you take a closer look at them. On the following list, you can see abandoned planes, abandoned ships, as well as the abandoned houses, and so many other things, that are really amazing and magnificent. So, check out these amazing abandoned places photos.”

Painting on Tree Trunks


painting_on_tree Artist

I love a link I stumbled upon this morning~! This is a person who is on a mission to bring people joy, even though there is no financial compensation in it for her. I’m so proud of her. I wanted to share her passion with you~! The article reads: “23-year-old student Wang Yu lives and works in the Chinese district of Shijiazhuang. As canvas for her paintings she uses trees. For each artwork this young artist spends about two hours, but aesthetic pleasure for passers lasts much longer.”

painting_on_tree raccoonspainting_on_tree squirrelpainting_on_tree painting_on_tree sunsetpainting_on_tree Fall
Link to the other article onQuick Bulletin: Painting-on-tree-trunks

Feel free to send me links to other fun websites like this in the comments section below~!

Life Hacks – to make life easier


I saw a long list of “life hacks” the other day, and decided to look up the term on wikipedia. Seemed obvious, and I was correct: “Life hacking refers to any productivity trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method to increase productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life; in other words, anything that solves an everyday problem in a clever or non-obvious way, variably a Juggaar, might be called a life hack.” (Quote from Wikipedia, Click Link to See More).

There is a whole website dedicated to life hacks. Guess what it is called….. yup, Lifehack.org. They have a huge following, so most of you have probably “been there- done that”. But, maybe not. I’m going to limit myself to including only 6 life hack photos in this post. But, I suspect I’ll post more in the future, since they can be pretty practical~!

12 13


Feel free to share some of your good tips or good website links in the comments section~! We never know which ones will stick, right?

Welcome to “Fortify My Life”~!


With some fear and trembling, I write my 1st post on this new “Fortify My Life” Blog. I have been involved with this “40” project for about 3+ years now.  Actually, it probably was born when I turned 40, 7 years ago.  I was in a Bible Study at that time, and there was a question about the number 40 in the Bible. I suspect that I was more interested in the question because it happened to be my age. So, I did some extra research and came up with about 10 interesting citations of the number 40. They were interesting and uplifting stories of people overcoming adversity, and getting wonderful breakthrough, starting fresh new lives.  My husband turned 40 six months later. His brother turned 40 the next year. When my brother turned 40, he was having an especially hard time. Telling me that he wanted to get his “$#!+” together, he put himself into a situation in which he could make a serious whole-hearted change. All the while, his loving sister wrote him 40 “fortifications” revolving around the use of the number 40 in the Bible. Now, I am sure that put in these terms, the topic sounds sort of dry. But, that couldn’t be farther than the truth. 

In the months and years ahead, I don’t plan to share a dissertation on the number 40. Rather, I plan to share some  of the secrets that will help us all “fortify our lives”.  I hope to publish the collection of 40 letters that I wrote to my brother, now in book form with questions for contemplation at the end of each chapter.  I want to share wisdom and insights from the Bible with people who are interested in the Bible. And, I’d like to share tips and speculations with people who want a better life, but are not interested in the Bible.  I also want to see how much happier we can be, how much more positive our lives can be starting right now, and improving from here on out. I know that my positive emotional state effects my physical health, and the lives of my loved ones. I want us all to be fortified in Heart & Mind & Body & Spirit.  


Last year I played around with a book jacket type of description for the “40 Book”. Even though this may be radically changed, and printed under another name, here is a link to see my playful attempt at designing my own jacket back:  40fy My Life