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7/25/2016 Monday Morning Message

4 Ways to Maximize Happiness When You Give

Was last week a great week? Did you do something to help someone else? If so, fantastic! If you got caught up in “life,” no worries; there’s always someone in need, so you’ll have many other opportunities to help others.

Here are 4 ways you can maximize your happiness when giving:

  1. Give to clear, tangible projects. When you feel like you’re giving directly to a project rather than “overhead,” you give 3 times as much – and feel better about it. When you know that your donation is going to something concrete and tangible, it combats a sense of futility (i.e., Will my donation even make a difference?). You feel like you’re making a more direct impact. This feeling of personal impact makes you more likely to give and increases your satisfaction level after you have given.
  1. Give more frequently in smaller amounts. Giving, like consumption, has diminishing returns. Giving $1,000 doesn’t give you 10 times the high of giving $100. Because of this, you really should be giving more often in smaller amounts so you get that pleasure high more often. Look for a monthly donation programwhere you can see the ongoing impact of your donation.
  1. Give with no strings attached. Making a donation to get something tangible in exchange can limit that high you get when giving. The same is true when you purchase something where a portion of proceeds goes to charity. These things can take your decision-making from, “How can I help others with my resources?” to a logical thought process of, “If I buy this, it helps a cause.” It’s not that you shouldn’t purchase products that give to charity, but your brain does not emit the same feeling. Nothing beats a straight up donation directly to a charity with no tangible strings attached.
  1. Give when you know whom your donation will help. Child sponsorship programs have been putting this to use longer and better than most. While it’s sometimes heartbreaking, putting a name and face to the cause gives you a big emotional boost. People will donate 60% more when there’s a name, age and picture of the person who will benefit from the donation. This is called the identifiable victim effect, where we care more about the one person we know compared to the numerous others that are just numbers.

Something to Think About

Giving to others gives us pleasure. It makes us happier which, in turn, leads us to give more, which makes us even happier and... you get the picture. And don’t forget: It doesn’t have to be money. You can use your talents and time to help many in need.

Weekly Activity 

This one seems simple… Let’s find a way to continuously give to help others.

Words of Wisdom

“To be poor does not mean you lack the means to extend charity to another. You may lack money or food, but you have the gift of friendship to overwhelm the loneliness that grips the lives of so many.” – Stanley Hauerwas

“I am a huge believer in giving back and helping out in the community and the world. Think globally, act locally I suppose. I believe that the measure of a person's life is the effect they have on others.” – Steve Nash
“Giving back involves a certain amount of giving up.” – Colin Powell

“Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything that it is.” – Mandy Hale

“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” – Lao Tzu

7/18/2016 Monday Morning Message

Giving Gives Your Brain Pleasure

How was your weekend? Relaxing or exciting? Both are great, and we actually need both at different times (or you can have both at the same time)!

Thanks to technology, researchers are able to see brain activity during certain acts or activities. Did you know that when you make a donation to charity, your brain acts in a way similar to when you’re intimate or eating chocolate? In a study of those who donated to a worthy cause, the midbrain region of the brain lit up. This is the area of the brain responsible for our cravings and pleasure rewards, showing the link between charitable giving and pleasure. It’s true. This reward or pleasure response to giving is the physiological reason behind the “warm glow,” or that good feeling you get when you give and why you may choose to spend money on others or charity rather than yourself.

But does giving actually make you happier? According to a survey and study by researchers, it does. They found that people who spent a higher proportion of their income on gifts for others and donations to charity were “happier.” The researchers randomly assigned people to 4 groups that were told to spend $5 on themselves, $20 on themselves, $5 on others or $20 on others. Those who spent $5 or $20 on others reported being much happier, while those who spent money on themselves showed no change in happiness. Also, the group that gave away $5 was just as happy as the group that had $20 to give away, showing that happiness in giving can be more about the how than the how much.

Something to Think About

If giving gives you pleasure and can make you happier, should you start giving to others if you want to be happier? Research says yes; however, there’s more to it: Research also shows that when you give with the intention of giving vs. giving to get, your response and reward is much better! More about that next week.

Weekly Activity 

Donate your time or some money to your favorite cause. If you don’t have one, this is a great time to find one!

Words of Wisdom

“Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller

“If we look at the world with a love of life, the world will reveal its beauty to us.” – Daisaku Ikeda

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” – Maria Robinson

7/11/2016 Monday Morning Message

Love: The Magic Key of Transformation

Welcome to Monday! Let’s talk about love. What is love? It seems as though it means different things to different people. Love is difficult to explain in philosophical terms because it’s not designed to be analyzed or explained; it’s designed to be experienced or felt.

Love is the most powerful emotion; it can literally transform a life. When humans feel loved, there is no limit to what they can achieve. I recently met a man who seemed very unsure and lonely, always staying in the background. Several of us started including him when we went to sporting events or social outings and, over the next few months, we noticed that his self-esteem was stronger, and he felt confident to engage in conversations. He seemed and looked happier. It suddenly occurred to me that he felt loved and included. You could see the transformation that had taken place in his life because we took the time to show him love.

Is there a relationship in your life that you would like to have transformed? It all starts with you. Do you love who you are? Do you love where you are in life? Do you express that love in all that you do on a daily basis? Do you show that person in your life love, even if you’re not feeling it from him/her? It’s been proven that as you give and show love to others, you receive love in return.

Something to Think About

One of the easiest ways to express love is to start your day thinking about what you’re most grateful for. Keep that thought as you go through your day. Greet those you meet throughout the day with a smile that says, “You are loved!”   

Weekly Activity 

Do something special for someone you love this week!

Words of Wisdom

“Don’t worry about what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

“Happiness is simple. Everything we do to find it is complicated.” – Karen Maezen Miller

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” – Dalai Lama

“The people who are the hardest to love are the ones who need it the most.” – Peaceful Warrior 

7/4/2016 Monday Morning Message

Independence Day

Happy Independence Day! Today is a widely celebrated holiday throughout all of North America as well as in other places throughout the world. In Canada, today represents the anniversary of the uniting of 3 colonies into 1 called Canada on July 1, 1867. The holiday is called Canada Day, and everyone takes a long weekend to celebrate. In the United States, we celebrate July 4, which is the day the United States signed the Declaration of Independence, thereby pledging its separation from England. I’ve always found it interesting that the United States and Canada, who share a border, also celebrate – and share – a very important holiday representing independence. It is for this reason that a huge fireworks display takes place over Niagara Falls on July 1 as well as on July 4.

Independence is defined as the freedom from control or influence of others. I think that describes the personality of many successful real estate agents. The things agents say they enjoy most about being a Realtor® include the flexibility, the control over their own time, the ability to control their income and the freedom to create their own path to success. Today we celebrate YOU and that independent spirit that allows you to do what you want, when you want, how you want!

Something to Think About

Real estate agents or not, we all have choices. It’s the choices we make that define and create our lives. 

Weekly Activity 

Are you completely happy with your life? Are there choices or changes that you would like to make? This week, exert that independent spirit and make a change. One that will positively impact your life, your career and/or the lives of those you love and care about most. 

Words of Wisdom

“I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.” – Joseph Campbell 

“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.” – Paulo Coelho

“The greatest step toward a life of simplicity is to learn to let go.” – Steve Maraboli 

“To be alive is to totally and openly participate in the simplicity and elegance of here and now.” – Donald Altman 

“At the end of life, our questions are very simple: Did I live fully? Did I love well?” – Jack Kornfield

6/27/2016 Monday Morning Message

Play

Good morning! Did you find time to play this weekend? By play, I mean did you do something you really enjoy versus all the stuff you “had” to do? We each enjoy our free time differently – for some, it’s quiet time reading a book; for others, it’s running five miles; still others enjoy a round of golf or a night out with friends.

In our hectic lives, many of us focus so heavily on work and other commitments that we never seem to have time for pure fun. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, we’ve stopped playing. If you don’t plan to have fun, you’re more likely to zone out in front of the TV or sit at a computer when you have some spare time. By giving yourself permission to play with the joyful abandon of childhood, you can reap oodles of health benefits throughout life. Play can:

  • Relieve stress. Play is fun and can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote a sense of well-being and can even relieve pain.
  • Improve brain function. Playing chess, completing puzzles or pursuing other activities that challenge the brain can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function.
  • Stimulate the mind and boost creativity. You’ll learn a new task better when it’s fun and you’re in a relaxed and playful mood. Play also can stimulate your imagination, helping you adapt and solve problems easier.
  • Improve relationships and your connection to others. Sharing laughter and fun can foster empathy, compassion, trust and intimacy with others. Play doesn’t have to be a specific activity; it also can be a state of mind. Developing a playful nature can help you loosen up in stressful situations, break the ice with strangers, make new friends and form new business relationships.
  • Keep you feeling young and energetic. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Playing can boost your energy and vitality and even improve your resistance to disease, helping you feel your best.

Something to Think About
Incorporating more fun and play into your daily life can improve the quality of your relationships as well as your mood and outlook. Even in the most difficult circumstances, taking time away from your troubles to play or laugh can go a long way toward making you feel better. It’s true what they say: Laughter really is the best medicine. Laughter makes you feel good. And the good feeling that you get when you laugh and have fun remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Play and laughter help you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments and loss.

Weekly Activity

Schedule time to play this week.

Words of Wisdom

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” – Plato
“Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.” – Michael Jordan
“Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves – those who work hard and play hard.” – Colin Powell
“To find a man’s true character, play golf with him.” – P.G. Wodehouse
“The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.” – Henry Ward Beecher

6/20/2016 Monday Morning Message

Father’s Day

Good morning! Did you do something special yesterday to celebrate Father’s Day? Father’s Day honors fathers and celebrates fatherhood, paternal bonds and the influence fathers have on society. Dads play such an important role – not just in society, but in the lives of those around them. Even as adults, the influence of a father is ever present.

My father was tough and demanded the best in everything we did. He always said, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” At the time, I thought he was too tough. Today I realize that my desire to “get it right the first time” stems from my upbringing, and it has served me well in business. If I was facing discouraging odds, he would say, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” If I was afraid, he would quote Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous words from his inaugural speech during the Great Depression of the 1930s: “There’s nothing to fear but fear itself.”

He instilled in me the value of working hard. Success, he would tell me, is 10 percent talent and 90 percent hard work. Above all, he loved me unconditionally, and his influence on my childhood has reached far into adulthood.

Something to Think About

Our fathers help shape us into the people we become. As a parent, you help shape your own children. Being a father is an awesome responsibility and one that brings great joy!

Weekly Activity 

Spend quality one-on-one time with someone special this week – someone who has helped you become the person you are. It can be anyone, even a child.

Words of Wisdom

“My father gave me the greatest gift he could ever give another person: he believed in me.” – Jim Valvano

“My father always told me, find a job that you love, and you will never work a day in your life.” – Jim Fox

“When I was a boy of 14, my dad was so ignorant that I could barely stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much he had learned in 7 years!” – Mark Twain

“You don’t raise heroes, you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they will turn out to be heroes, even if just in your own eyes.” – Walter Schirra Sr.

“A working definition of fathering might be this: Fathering is the act of guiding a child to behave in ways that lead to the child's becoming a secure child in full, thus increasing his or her chances of being happy and fruitful as a young adult.” – Clyde Edgerton

6/13/2016 Monday Morning Message

All Smiles…

Good morning! How was your weekend? What brought you joy this past week? What made you smile? Did you know that smiling has many benefits to your well-being? Consider this:

  1. Neurotransmitters called endorphins are released when you smile. Endorphins are responsible for making us feel happy, and they also help lower stress levels. Faking a smile or laugh works as well as the real thing – the brain doesn’t differentiate between real or fake, as it interprets the positioning of the facial muscles in the same way. The more we stimulate our brains to release this chemical, the more often we feel happier and relaxed.
  1. Endorphins act as the body’s natural painkiller. For sufferers of chronic pain, laughing and smiling can be very effective in pain management, as can laughing off the pain when you bump an elbow or fall.
  1. Laughing expands the lungs, stretches the muscles and stimulates homeostasis. This exercises the body, replenishing the cells from a lungful of oxygen.
  1. Smiling is an attractive expression, which is more likely to draw people to you, which is great for salespeople. Smiling makes you appear more approachable. Interaction with others is easier and more enjoyable when smiles and laughs are shared, and these behaviors are contagious, making others feel better too.

Something to Think About

A happy, positive expression will always serve you well in life. This is particularly true for challenging situations such as stressful real estate transactions. Our clients depend on us to stay cool, calm, collected and positive. A relaxed persona indicates confidence and an ability to cope well in stressful situations.

Weekly Activity

There are many simple ways to bring more smiles and laughter into your life. This week, brighten your days by doing the following: 

Smile and laugh regularly.As I mentioned, your brain doesn’t know the difference between a fake smile and a real smile. Laughing and smiling more often will make you feel better, and you will become more likely to smile and laugh spontaneously.

  • Watch funny films, TV and theater shows.
  • Spend time with friends and family who make you feel happy or who cause you to laugh.
  • Find things to smile and laugh about.
6/6/2016 Monday Morning Message

JOY

Welcome to the beginning of summer! There’s something magical about June for so many people. For students, it’s the end of the school year. For teachers, it’s the end of the school year! Some are planning family vacations, others are graduating, still others are getting married. June is a month of JOY.

Joy is an emotion, a feeling… something that happens without us thinking about it. Many people think of joy and happiness as being the same but, in fact, they’re very different. Happiness is an emotion aroused when we buy a new car or get a promotion at work. It’s dependent on our circumstances occurring in accordance with our desires. Joy, however, is an emotion that occurs within us when we develop an appreciation/thankfulness for things such as nature, freedom, relationships with people and faith in something larger than ourselves.

Joy and happiness are both great feelings, but being happy is a result of good circumstances, and we can’t rely on good circumstances all the time. Joy, on the other hand, is an emotion that can be present in our daily lives. It’s something we can work on daily, much like the process of getting physically fit. Writing the three things you are most grateful for in a gratitude journal each night is a great way to practice joy.

Joy is a powerful emotion and the opposite of fear, our second most influential emotion. These two emotions are in constant battle and, when joy loses to fear, we withdraw and forget all that we have to be joyful for. One of my favorite sayings in times of fear is: Faith and fear cannot co-exist, so you must choose one! Look around, and you will see that you have much to be joyful about.

Something to Think About
Teaching yourself to be joyful is the single greatest thing you can do to enhance your health. Advancing medical technology is teaching us that the human physiology and psyche are affected by negative and positive emotions. Our three primary negative emotions – fear, anger and sadness – have devastating effects on our bodies when experienced in a prolonged state. On the other hand, our two primary positive emotions – joy and excitement – are like medicine to the body. Which do you choose?

Weekly Activity

Who in your life is joyful? Think of the different people in your life, and make a list of those who seem most joyful. Here are some traits you might see in them: They’re in good health, they value discipline and strong relationships, and they’re appreciative and thankful. Now make a list of those who are negative and fearful. What are their common traits? How are their relationships? How do you feel when you’re around them? Drained? This week, make a conscious decision to spend more time in the company of those who are joyful, and see how you feel. 

Words of Wisdom

“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” – Greg Anderson
“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” –Albert Einstein
“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.” – Tecumseh
“We will be more successful in all our endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and re-center ourselves. And we'll also have a lot more joy in living.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“Once you have to start counting calories, it takes away from the joy of eating.” – Mireille Guiliano

5/30/2016 Monday Morning Message

Happy Memorial Day!

This is one of those fun three-day weekends that we all enjoy. It’s the start of summer fun and BBQs as well as a celebration of family and those who fought and gave their lives in service to our country.

At the end of the Civil War, May 30 was established as “Decoration Day” – a day to decorate veterans’ graves with flowers. May 30 may have been chosen because flowers would be in bloom throughout the country by that time.

There are many stories to celebrate this holiday, but this one really caused me to stop and reflect on the sacrifices that so many make and have made: In 2010, Marine Corporal Juan Dominguez stepped on an IED while serving in Afghanistan. Dominguez was left a triple amputee, losing both legs and one arm. But that didn't stop him from marrying the love of his life, Alexis. To honor the vet, the town of Temecula, CA, donated all the elements of their dream wedding – an estimated $30,000 worth, including the flowers, the venues, the photographer and the food. But the real icing on the cake? Dominguez was able to walk down the aisle with his beautiful bride in a sunset ceremony.

“Did I ever think I was going to get to this point?” Dominguez said. “Yes, yes I did. Because nothing’s changed. I'm a little bit shorter. I lost a couple legs and an arm, but my brain's still here, my heart’s still here.” Check out the video of their story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSpOkCKT0oA

Something to Think About
It would be so easy to be bitter and angry about such a sacrifice, but Dominguez was filled with joy because he was able to walk down the aisle and marry the girl of his dreams. Our soldiers who serve know the risks when they enlist. How can we show our support?

Weekly Activity
Do something this week to support the military and the men and women who serve.

Words of Wisdom
“These fallen heroes represent the character of a nation who has a long history of patriotism and honor – and a nation who has fought many battles to keep our country free from threats of terror.” – Michael N. Castle

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” – Joseph Campbell

“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” – Elmer Davis

“The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.” –Benjamin Disraeli

“It doesn't take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.” – H. Norman Schwarzkopf

5/23/2016 Monday Morning Message

A Nod to JFK
Welcome to Monday; let’s make it a fantastic week! This week, we celebrate a man who was a great president, a great soldier and a great human being. That man is John F. Kennedy, born May 29, 1917, in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Shortly after graduating from Harvard, Kennedy joined the U.S. Navy and was assigned to command a patrol torpedo boat in the South Pacific. On August 2, 1943, his boat, PT-109, was rammed by a Japanese warship and split in two. Two sailors died, and Kennedy’s back was badly injured. Hauling another wounded sailor by the strap of his life vest, Kennedy led the survivors to a nearby island, where they were rescued six days later. The incident earned him the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for “extremely heroic conduct” and a Purple Heart for the injuries he suffered.

Kennedy went on to serve in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate before becoming the 35th president in 1961.

As president, Kennedy faced a number of foreign crises, especially in Cuba and Berlin, but managed to secure achievements such as the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty and the Alliance for Progress. He also started the Peace Corps and won the Pulitzer Prize in history for his book Profiles in Courage.

When Kennedy was elected president, he gave one of the most stirring inaugural speeches in history. In that speech, he said the famous words, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” It was a wake-up call for Americans to take a stand for their freedom and get involved on some level. Kennedy is credited with making Americans feel safe but, at the same time, instilling a deep sense of pride for their country and a willingness to fight to keep its borders safe.

In 1962, the United States discovered that the Soviet Union was building secret missile bases in Cuba. Those missiles would be able to strike the U.S. with nuclear bombs. In the coming days, the United States and the Soviet Union came close to nuclear war. The United States quarantined Cuba in order to keep the missiles out. After negotiations, the Soviet Union agreed to dismantle the bases. In return, the United States agreed to never attack Cuba and to remove missiles from Turkey.

Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy while riding in a convertible in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. Almost every American who was 5 or older on that day remembers it clearly. There’s still a lot of speculation around the mystery surrounding his death and why it’s still such a vivid memory in the hearts and minds of so many. But one thing is certain: He was one of the most beloved presidents – a man who worked hard to bring about peace. This week we celebrate his life.

Something to Think About
What does the phrase, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country” mean to you? Would it have the same meaning if spoken today?

Weekly Activity
We celebrated Armed Forces Day last week, and next week is Memorial Day. How can you honor those who served, or what can you do “for your country”?

Words of Wisdom
“A man does what he must – in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures – and that is the basis of all human morality.” – John F. Kennedy

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ¬– John F. Kennedy

“Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.” – John F. Kennedy

“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” – John F. Kennedy

“Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.” – John F. Kennedy

“If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.” – John F. Kennedy

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