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Best Things in Life That Are Totally Free

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Smelling fresh flowers

It’s a cliche for a reason. Because it’s the best thing ever! Taking a moment to soak up nature (even if it’s in a vase in your house) does wonders for the soul. Studies suggest that sniffing flowers can help improve memory, anxiety, and insomnia.

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Or smelling something baking

study in the Journal of Positive Psychology says baking boosts your wellbeing, which is all the more reason to make a few extra cookies for Santa — or yourself.

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Reading old children’s books

Revisiting the books you loved as a kid will surely put a smile on your fa

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Martial art

Martial art, any of various fighting sports or skills, mainly of East Asian origin, such as kung fu (Pinyin gongfu), judokarate, and kendō.

Martial arts can be divided into the armed and unarmed arts. The former include archery, spearmanship, and swordsmanship; the latter, which originated in China, emphasize striking with the feet and hands or grappling. In Japan, traditionally a warrior’s training emphasized archery, swordsmanship, unarmed combat, and swimming in armour. Members of other classes interested in combat concentrated on arts using the staff, everyday work implements (such as thrashing flails, sickles, and knives), and unarmed combat. Perhaps the most versatile practice was ninjutsu, which was developed for military spies in feudal Japan and also included training in disguise, escape, concealment, geography, meteorology, medicine, and explosives. In modern times, derivatives of some of the armed martial arts, such as kendō (fencing) and kyūdō (archery), are practiced as sports. Derivatives of the unarmed forms of combat, such as judo, sumo, karate, and tae kwon do, are practiced, as are self-defense forms, such as aikidohapkido, and kung fu. Simplified forms of tai chi chuan (taijiquan), a Chinese form of unarmed combat, are popular as healthful exercise, quite divorced from martial origins. Derivatives of many of the armed and unarmed forms are practiced as a means of spiritual development.

People in a gym in martial arts training exercising Taekwondo, the trainer has a black belt.
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Martial Arts: Fact or Fiction?
Earn your black belt in martial arts knowledge with this fact or fiction quiz!

The primary unifying aspect of the East Asian martial arts, which sets them apart from other martial arts, is the influence of Daoism and Zen Buddhism. This influence has resulted in a strong emphasis on the mental and spiritual state of the practitioner, a state in which the rationalizing and calculating functions of the mind are suspended so that the mind and body can react immediately as a unit, reflecting the changing situation around the combatant. When this state is perfected, the everyday experience of the dualism of subject and object vanishes. Since this mental and physical state is also central to Daoism and Zen, and must be experienced to be grasped, many of their adherents practice the martial arts as a part of their philosophical and spiritual training. Conversely, numerous practitioners of the martial arts take up the practice of these philosophies.

The 20th century witnessed a significant growth in the popularity of East Asian martial arts in the West, and both judo (1964) and tae kwon do (2000) were added to the Olympic Games as full medal sports. By the early 21st century a syncretic discipline known as mixed martial arts, which incorporated fighting techniques from various cultural traditions, had also achieved prominence.
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Top 10 Reasons to Learn Martial Arts

Learn Martial Arts

Top 10 Reasons to Learn Martial Arts

In the United States, martial arts are more popular than ever. In fact, did you know that it’s a 4 billion dollar industry?

If you’re considering martial arts either for yourself or your child, it’s a great choice! There are so many benefits to both your physical and mental health. But it can be tough to commit to something new.

That’s why we put together this guide with 10 reasons you should learn martial arts. Check it out below.

1. INCREASED CONFIDENCE

Increased confidence is something that martial artists of all ages enjoy. Whether it’s for you or your child, martial arts can help you improve your confidence.

Practicing, improving, and succeeding at a skill improves self-image and gives participants confidence that they can succeed in other areas and ventures.

In fact children who participate in karate or a similar martial art show improved confidence and even better performance in school. So, if you’re looking to improve your child’s self-confidence or yours, martial arts are a great activity to do so.

2. FULL BODY WORKOUT

Are you looking for a new form of exercise? Martial arts is your answer.

That’s because martial arts truly provide a full body workout. The consistent practice has shown to increase overall mobility, improve your body’s pressure response, and increase muscle.

Because so many martial arts involve repeat muscular actions over time you’ll build strength and burn fat. Who doesn’t want that?

Looking for a way to increase strength and build muscle quickly and intensely? Kempo can do it for you. It’s a full-body martial art that combines the athletic abilities of Karate, Judo, Kung-Fu, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This is an ideal martial arts system to accomplish those goals.

3. INCREASED FLEXIBILITY

Repetitive movements like high kicks, low stances, fancy footwork, and ground maneuvering improve flexibility and mobility which will benefit your overall health.

Did you know that flexibility has many health benefits? Some of them include:

  • Improved posture

  • Better freedom of movement

  • Reduced muscle soreness and tension

  • Improved relaxation of mind and body

  • Reduced risk of injury

The multi-directional movement of Kempo makes it a perfect martial art for those who want to improve flexibility. If flexibility is your goal, try it out!

4. BETTER COORDINATION

All martial arts require spacial awareness and coordinating movement with another person. Some martial arts even include the use of props and tools.

All of these factors improve the coordination and awareness of the participant’s body as well as the people and objects around them.

Practices like Kempo encourage the lower part of the body to act as a base from which the upper body can maneuver and operate – this idea has been borrowed by many martial art systems including Krav Maga.

5. SELF DEFENSE SKILLS

One obvious benefit to learning martial arts is an improved ability to perform self-defense maneuvers in situations where there is a real threat.

According to recent data, an aggravated assault occurs every 43 seconds in the United States. Martial arts can prepare practitioners to defend themselves in life-threatening and dangerous situations.

This is great for you but also really great for your children as well.

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Top 10 Benefits of Chess

1. Chess has the power to bring people together.

Chess is one of the oldest games in the world dating back over 1500 years. The game of chess has evolved as it spread around the globe to the game we play today. As a result, this journey has brought people together from different cultures, ages, and backgrounds over a common bond and passion for the game.

chess brings ages together

Chess brings all ages together!

2. Chess teaches you how to win and lose.

Of course everyone likes to win, but it is just important to learn how to accept losing. As the saying goes—sometimes you give the lesson, and sometimes you receive the lesson! Most important, try to learn from those losses and come back a better player. Just as in life, we need to get back up when confronted with failure and come back stronger and wiser. Winning with grace is an important character trait that chess can teach a person.

chess mistakes

If you lose a game of chess go back and learn from your mistakes.

3. Chess helps children realize the consequence of their actions. 

The scholastic chess boom around the world has been on a steady rise over the last decade. More important than these children becoming great chess players or getting high ratings is that chess teaches children from an early age that their choices have consequences both good and bad. Thinking your moves through and trying to play the best move that you can is rewarding, while playing too quickly, and rushing your decisions can have negative repercussions.

chess for children

Chess can help children develop important character traits.

4. Chess helps you focus.

As Bobby Fischer said, “Chess demands total concentration.” A chess player can make moves like a grandmaster for 30 moves and then get distracted on move 31 and make an elementary blunder that loses the game! This intense focus is useful in everyday life when confronted with school assignments, daily tasks, and deadlines.

chess helps discipline and focus

Chess can help a person develop discipline and focus.

5. Chess is a great educational tool for schools.

Before, during, and after-school programs are extremely popular and for good reason. Chess is a low cost activity for children to become involved with right at their own school. Children of different ages, backgrounds, and special needs can all take part in a chess class or club.

chess and education

School chess programs create great opportunities for students socially, emotionally, and academically.

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Alone Vs. Lonely: How to Be Alone Without Feeling Lonely

Alone Without Feeling Lonely

Inevitably, there will be moments when you find yourself spending time alone, even if you’re part of an extensive social circle.

There are many different types of loneliness, but when it emerges from solitude, the experience can feel incredibly isolating; the line between being alone and being lonely can become blurred surprisingly quickly.

After all, no one wants to be alone 100% of the time.

Studies have shown that humans are inherently social beings. We need to interact with other people in order to thrive.

That said, studies have also found that there are benefits to spending time by yourself, even if you’re the world’s biggest extrovert.

Spending some alone time doesn’t have to be miserable, and it can actually lead to much-needed growth and reflection.

If you’re not sure how to make the most of your alone time, however, you’re not the only one.

We’ll explain the ways you can benefit from solitude and share the warning signs associated with spending too much time alone.

The Pros of Solitude

No matter who you are or what you do, solitude can be beneficial!

You can make the most of your solitude and stave off loneliness by appreciating the advantages of alone time, which include:

1. Time to Self-Reflect

It seems like there’s always something that needs to get done.

Between your career, personal life, and mundane activities that are just a part of daily living, finding time to take a step back and think about the things that really matter can feel impossible.

Self-reflection isn’t something that everyone necessarily enjoys or looks forward to.

Still, thinking about your life – without being influenced by anyone else’s thoughts or opinions – is important, especially if you want to implement changes or reach new goals.

Thinking critically about your own life will help you to determine what is and isn’t working for you.

It’s hard to make a change when you’re constantly moving. When you take a breath and realize that you’ve been feeling tired lately or you haven’t been able to pursue the things you love, you may be spurred to act.

Whether you’re someone who enjoys the process or not, there’s immense value to be found through self-reflection, and there’s no better time to do this than when you’re alone.

2. Opportunities to Explore Hobbies

Let’s be real – all work and no play makes you tired, cranky, and leads to burnout.

We all wish we had more time for our personal hobbies, but scheduling alone time is one of the best ways to ensure you actually get to participate in those pursuits – whatever they may be.

While there are some activities that are best done in the company of others, there are many hobbies that you’ll enjoy most when you’re by yourself.

For example, if you love watching certain movies that others don’t enjoy, you probably won’t want them sitting beside you – or constantly telling you how boring they find the film.

And if you want to try out a new hobby, you might prefer to do this alone, without the judgment of others.

Whether you love to read, go to the gym, or kick back and watch TV, doing what you love is fulfilling, and it’s important to participate in hobbies you genuinely care about – even if you’re by yourself.

3. Potential Health Benefits

Regardless of how you spend your alone time, solitude has the potential to affect your health in a positive way.

According to a 2006 study, adolescents who voluntarily spent time in solitude experienced a boost in their emotional state.

For adolescents, this can be particularly important since emotional regulation can be difficult at times due to puberty and the daily chaos of teenage life.

No matter your age, however, you could also benefit from some time spent alone, too.

By taking a break from outside stimulation, you’re able to press the “reset” button in your mind and calm your senses.

Taking just a little time for yourself every day is worth it for your emotional well-being!

The Cons of Solitude

Just as there are advantages of solitude, there are also some disadvantages. The cons of solitude can include:

1. Feelings of Isolation

One of the most obvious and common disadvantages of solitude is that being alone too often – or for long periods of time – can make you feel disconnected from others and the world around you.

As someone who has a tendency to isolate myself from others, especially when I’m feeling stressed or anxious, I’ve realized that being by myself all the time isn’t helpful.

Sometimes I think I shouldn’t burden others with my “issues,” but logically, I know that there is give and take in every relationship.

My close friends and family are usually happy to talk with me and if they can’t do so right in that moment, they’ll likely be able to connect with me sometime later.

Instead of spending too much time in solitude, I’ve realized that there are instances when I need to turn to my friends and family instead of sitting alone by myself.

I’ve often found that spending time with my loved ones boosts my mood, particularly if I was feeling down to begin with.

2. Too Much Solitude Can Lead to Overthinking

Although there’s definitely a difference between solitude and loneliness, too much solitude can lead to over-thinking.

Self-reflection isn’t inherently a bad thing, as we’ve discussed, but when the majority of your time is being spent alone, it’s not uncommon for your thoughts to wander.

For those who are prone to anxiety, overthinking can lead to a spiral of stress-inducing thoughts. This can result in individuals avoiding alone time altogether.

Even people who aren’t frequently anxious may overanalyze the smallest facets of their lives if they’re spending time by themselves too often.

Picking apart every aspect of your life isn’t beneficial, but it can be hard to stop once you start, especially when you’re alone.

In Conclusion

Figuring out how to enjoy solitude isn’t always easy, but it is possible!

With time, you can learn to enjoy being alone every now and again, and you can take advantage of all the good things a bit of quiet time has to offer.

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LIFE 10 True Facts About Friendship

Whoever has a friend, has a treasure—that phrase might hold more truth than you’d think! In studying friendship, scientists have discovered shocking facts, like how we share more genes with friends than strangers, how we’re more attractive when we’re with a group of friends, or that at the age of nine months we already understand the concept of friendship.

In honor of our dear friends, we’ve compiled a list of 10 true facts about these relationships that you probably didn’t know. Here’s science has to say about friendship.