The secret to keeping your life exciting is...

Want to know the secret to keeping your life exciting? It's not much of a secret at all when you think about it. It's just that people are unwilling to invest the effort required.

The secret to keeping your life lies in avoiding or breaking something that begins with an "r" and ends in an "e." Can you guess what that word is?

If you said "routine," you're absolutely right.

Nothing sucks the fun out of life quite like routine does. Granted, there are some routines we can't do away with -- reporting for work at 9 a.m. sharp, taking Suzy to ballet class every Saturday afternoon, vising the dentist every couple of months -- but there's no reason for your life to be scripted entirely. Feeling as though you're running on autopilot all the time is the surest way to feeling bored.

Whatever routines we have should be interspersed with new experiences. Visit a new state or country. Take up a new hobby. Try out a restaurant you've never been to before. It can be as simple as tweaking your wardrobe, taking a different route to work every so often, or watching a new show.

Whenever I feel I'm in something of a funk, I ask myself this question, "Have I done anything new or different recently?" If the answer is "no," I waste no time seeing to it that I squeeze a novel experience into my agenda before the week ends. Sometimes merely hearing a couple of new songs does the trick.

Always give yourself something to look forward to -- something to aim for. Don't ever convince yourself that you've done everything you can possibly do, or that the present or future can never be as good as the past. Such negative thinking will have you feeling depressed in no time.

The possibilities are endless. You can spend the rest of your life learning different languages, exploring different cities, or adopting different pets. Don't let every day be just like the one that came before it. Strive to make today better; it can be as long as you believe so. There are always new things to see, do, and learn.

Variety is the spice of life. Repetitiveness, on the other hand, can make life utterly mundane.  That's why it's imperative you take steps to add spontaneity and enrich your life with fresh experiences every now and then.

Fun Fact - January 7

On this day in 1789, America’s first presidential election was held.

The first Election Day looked almost nothing like today's elections. In fact, political parties hadn't yet come into existence, and it was a time when campaigning was actually discouraged. Only white men who owned property were permitted to vote. That means a mere 1.3 percent of the total population voted in this election -- far lower than the approximately 40 percent of the total population who vote in modern presidential elections.

With 69 electoral votes, George Washington became the first and only person to unanimously win the presidency. John Adams, who served as the first U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, became the first vice president with 34 electoral votes.

Voters from ten states -- Virgnia, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New Jersey -- were able to cast electoral votes in this election. New York was unable to field a slate of electors while North Carolina and Rhode Island had not yet ratified the Constitution, making them ineligible to participate.

One thing has remained the same since the days of the early Republic: the Electoral College. The president and vice president are the only federal officials who are not elected by popular vote. The Electoral College allows American citizens over the age of 18 to vote for electors, who then vote for the president.

Our founding fathers conceived this system because they feared unabridged democracy and wanted safeguards put in place in order to make the election process fair and civil.

Do you agree with this quote?

Today's quote of the day comes from none other than Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804):

"People sometimes attribute my success to my genius; all the genius I know anything about is hard work."

 You may have heard of Hamilton, the smash Broadway musical his rags to riches story inspired. Or, you might know him as the guy on the $10 bill.

Hamilton gave new meaning to the word "workhorse." As the first U.S. secretary of the treasury, he was essentially the architect of the American financial system. He wrote 51 of the 85 essays that comprise The Federalist Papers. He pushed for the establishment of the first national bank. He wrote some 28 essays which were instrumental in securing the ratification of the Jay Treaty with Great Britain. He established the U.S. Coast Card and founded The New York Post, the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in the U.S. And, to boot, he married into one of the wealthiest families in New York City, even though he never accepted money from his wife or her family.

What's most flabbergasting is that Hamilton accomplished all this and more despite not reaching his 50th birthday. He died at age 49 following a deadly duel with Aaron Burr.

There's no question that Alexander Hamilton was a genius; in fact, he's considered among the brightest of the Founding Fathers. That this orphan immigrant from the Caribbean was able to rise meteorically to become George Washington's aide-de-camp during the Revolutionary War and eventually his treasury secretary speaks not only to his intelligence, but to his unbridled ambition and keen ability to make connections with the right people. Hamilton was smart, scrappy, and hungry. He was what we'd call a hustler -- a go-getter, if you will.

And yet, in the quote above, Alexander Hamilton attributes his success not to his intellect, but to his capacity for hard work. It's another way of saying you can achieve anything so long as you put in the time and effort. Sweat and tears can, according to Hamilton, take you farther than mere brainpower.

Hamilton wasn't the only Founding Father who acknowledged how far hard work took him. His arch-nemesis in Washington's cabinet, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), once posed this question: "Why is it that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have?"

You get the feeling that Hamilton and Jefferson were almost being modest about their intelligence. In my view, they achieved so much in public life because they possessed both attributes: smarts, yes, as well as a hard work ethic.

I concur with Hamilton that hard work can propel one to achieve things they never thought possible. But I would also add that in order to attain success, one must always believe in themselves. Hard work coupled with faith in one's abilities can take you places, as it did for hungry Hamilton.

Do you agree?

Please comment and reshare -- thanks!

The only one who can fill your emptiness is...

The only person who can fill that empty feeling you have is none other than you.

Don't look to your friends or family, for their company works only as a temporary band-aid. Friends come and go. While many of them may genuinely care and worry about you, they'll only go so far to help you out. They have their own problems to tend to.

You're the only one you can count on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to keep your spirits up. Your friends and family can't be there for you each and every time you feel a little blue.

Many of us have been led astray into thinking that others make our life complete, but this couldn't be farther from the truth.

You complete your life all on your own; others merely enhance it.

If you're feeling empty or depressed, take a deep breath and look inward -- not outward for solace. The key to your happiness lies within you.

Perhaps you worry too much about others and not enough about yourself. Maybe taking up a new hobby -- whether learning a new language or how to play a musical instrument -- will work wonders for you.

Don't underestimate how valuable a quiet walk amid nature or a relaxing song can be for you. Sometimes the simplest things in life bring us the most happiness.

As I alluded to earlier, a surefire way to feel empty is to depend on others to be happy. People change. They're shifty. One minute they're reliable, and the next they leave you in the dark. Why would you place your happiness in the hands of someone who may ultimately let you down?

When you adopt a positive mindset, that emptiness slowly withers away. Be grateful for what you have -- a roof over your head, food, friends, family -- rather than focusing on what you feel is missing.

Your life is only as empty as you make it out to be. If you feel there's something you can do to enrich it in the New Year (e.g., starting a new business), set new goals and work diligently to achieve them.

But again, only you can break those feelings of emptiness -- not your spouse, kids, friends, or anyone else. Never give up on yourself. You're capable of amazing things so long as you continue to believe in yourself.

This is even WORSE than being alone...

If one of your New Year's Resolutions is to ease the pain of loneliness, I have news for you: Being in the wrong company can be far worse, as such feelings are only magnified. 

Ask yourself this: Do you really think you'd feel lonelier by yourself, or in a group of people you hardly know and may have little in common with?

As shocking as it may be to some, it's perfectly normal to enjoy your own company. You don't need other people to enjoy such hobbies as reading, writing, listening to music, and exercising. Besides, sometimes you need alone time to contemplate and catch a breath of fresh air after a tough day.

In essence, being alone and being lonely aren't one and the same. The former can actually be a plus -- something one seeks for their general well-being. The latter, on the other hand, is a negative condition one generally tries to extricate themselves from.

Having others around can be a boon if you know and trust them. In the absence of such rapport, however, things can get rather awkward. You might be afraid to say something dumb. You may have different interests, beliefs, or values than others in the group (e.g., everyone drinks or has kids except you). In the end, you may feel as though you don't quite fit in.

Many of us have encountered this at work and even at family functions. People have a tendency to form cliques built around certain commonalities (e.g., age, lifestyle, etc.), and they're not always receptive to outsiders whom they construe as being "different" in some way. For example, you may feel estranged from your siblings because not only are you seven years their junior, but you're the only one who isn't married and has no children.

It's a new year and the perfect time to rectify the false notion that if you seek and enjoy time alone, you're weird, socially awkward, or depressed in some way. At the same time, it's wrongheaded to assume that the company of others -- no matter who they are or how little we know them -- will always cure nagging feelings of loneliness. If such company leaves us feeling ostracized more than anything else, it can deepen those feelings.

For those of you who have been led to believe that you can't enjoy your own company, I encourage you to give it a shot. Read a good book at the library on your own. Go out for a walk and commune with nature. Watch a movie of your own choosing by yourself. You'll quickly realize that you don't need anyone else to feel entertained or fulfilled. Being alone can be a wonderful thing so long as you allow it to be!

At the end of the day, the only person who you their undivided attention is yourself. How refreshing is it to not have to vie for your own attention with anyone else?