27 Amazing Flat Belly After 40 Tips (that really work!)

flat belly after 40 a think woman with her shirt partially lifted up in jeans that are several sizes too large Middle Class Dad

I think you’ll agree with me when I tell you that as you get older, it gets harder and harder to keep those extra pounds off and get or keep a flat belly after 40.

To get a flatter, leaner, belly as we get older, do less cardio & more high-intensity weight lifting, track goals weekly, reduce the quantity of food you eat & avoid low-fat foods, sodas & artificial sweeteners and drink at least 1/2 gallon of water daily.

But there are a LOT more tips to get into to help shrink your belly fat.

I eat healthily, exercise regularly, and still struggle to be the weight I’d like to be. So I decided to dig in and figure out exactly what I need to do to slim down and tone my belly

So in this post, we’re diving deep into exactly what aspects of diet, nutrition, and exercise will work best to help us achieve a flat belly after 40.

Being over 40 and a martial artist who trains throughout the week, I can attest that it is challenging to lose belly fat as we age. So, these are my best tips!

Does metabolism slow at 40?

In our twenties, we can seemingly eat and drink whatever we want and many of us stay rail-thin. But once 30 rolls around those same exercises and dietary habits just don’t seem to work as well anymore.

Metabolism is simply the rate at which your body burns calories, and it’s a common scapegoat for older people who can’t quite seem to shed the pounds.

In truth, while it does slow down a little bit, it only drops about 5% per decade after 40 according to WebMD. Your metabolic resting rate is how many calories your body burns when not engaged in physical activity.

For many 40-year-olds, that might be 1,200 calories a day. But as you hit 50, it drops to 1,140. So what that tells us is that metabolism isn’t really the culprit in trying to get a flat belly after 40.

So a better strategy would be to simply cut 100 calories a day once you hit 40 and then an additional 100 calories a day for each decade to come. That’s if you simply wanted to maintain your current weight without making any other changes to your diet or exercise routine.

What do 100 calories a day look like? Any of the following:

  • 1 Tablespoon of peanut butter
  • 1/3 of an avocado
  • 2 cookies
  • 4 tablespoons of hummus
  • 12 potato chips

As you can see, you could cut 100 calories a day pretty easily just eliminating any of those things.

How can I boost my metabolism after 40?

If you’ve acknowledged that metabolism only drops 5% a decade once you hit 40 but you still want to improve it to works towards that flat belly, here are some of the best tips.

  1. Do a detox or cleanse at least once a year – Once we hit 40, it’s not uncommon for our colon and digestive system to be coated with years of buildup. This robs our organs and digestive system of the efficiency it had when we were younger. Eat more fiber and probiotics and cut back on refined sugars and refined carbs. There are also detox teas you can try or do a multi-day master cleanse.
  2. Drink more water – I drink a gallon a day, on average, but even if you only drank half that, I bet it’s probably more than you were drinking. Even 48 oz a day (a gallon is 128 oz), can raise your resting metabolism enough to burn an additional 50 calories/day.
  3. Take a probiotic – Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in the lining of your gut and help keep our digestive track clear and running smoothly. While you can find probiotics in kombucha and yogurt, taking a high-quality supplement can help even more.
  4. Have hot water and lemon to start your day – We already covered how water can boost your resting metabolism and lemon also increase metabolism, so just a small glass of hot water with fresh lemon juice every morning, when you wake up, can supercharge your metabolism.
  5. Do some physical movement every day – You don’t have to hit the gym daily or rep out 100 pushups, but movement is life. Stop moving & start dying. So do some type of movement every day, especially if your job is largely at a desk. Take a morning stroll, do some yoga poses, but do something to keep your body loose, limber, and energized.
  6. Drink rooibos tea – Rooibos tea with mint is high in antioxidants and flavonoids and mint acts as a natural digestion aid, so together, they are a great (and easy) way to boost your metabolism.

Why is it hard to lose weight after 40?

As I mentioned above, metabolism does drop about 5% a decade once you hit 40.

But that isn’t the only thing that changes as we age which affects our ability to stay in shape or lose weight. Hormonal changes are happening too with drops in estrogen and pre-menopause changes for women and drops in testosterone for men.

Insulin sensitivity changes also impact the “body(‘s ability) to control the amount of sugar in your blood”, according to Caroline Cederquist, MD. She goes on to say

“This can make your blood sugar levels more prone to spiking and crashing, which can increase your urge to snack—especially on high-carb, sugary junk”.

Remember too that our organs and digestive system are aging just like the lines we see on our face.

Our digestive system has to work a whole lot harder to digest a bagel than it does a green salad, so while you don’t want to completely deprive yourself of the foods you love you do want to put more thought into what you eat and how much of it you eat.

Here are some of the best tips to help you hit your weight loss goals:

  • Cut back on junk food and processed carbs (potato chips, fries, etc)
  • Don’t skip meals (it can cause your metabolism to jump around a lot)
  • Just eat slightly smaller portions of the foods you love
  • Don’t go for fad diets or promises of huge weight loss – losing 1 to 2 lbs a week is the right goal
  • To ramp up your weight loss, cut back about 400 calories a day on your food

Does the keto diet help lose belly fat?

Call it a fad or a trend if you like, or the newer version of the Adkins or South Beach Diet, but there’s no denying that keto is the current diet craze and has been for a few years now.

If you aren’t familiar, the keto diet is short for ketosis. Ketosis is a normal bodily function that happens when our bodies don’t have enough carbs to burn for energy. When that happens, our bodies naturally burn fat instead.

So the keto diet is a low-carb, but often high-fat diet.

But to answer the question, YES, the keto diet is GREAT for losing belly fat.

But don’t take my word for it. Researchers at Johns Hopkins studied 2 groups of people. One group did the keto diet and the other did a low-fat diet.

After 6 months, the keto group lost an average of 10 pounds more than the low-fat group. BUT, the keto group lost considerably less lean muscle tissue than the low-fat group also, which is great.

Losing both fat and muscle is normal with any diet, but the keto group saw much less muscle loss.

But for now, let’s dive into the . . . 

27 Amazing Flat Belly After 40 Tips You Probably Don’t Know!

As we get older, we begin to shed muscle mass. This causes our metabolism to slow down, according to a recent study by the National Institutes of Health.

As a result of losing muscle mass and a slowing metabolism, it can become much harder to lose stubborn belly fat.

Luckily, according to that study, “Exercise training and proper nutrition can have dramatic effects on muscle mass and strength (and the associated metabolic alterations). An optimal intervention program may include an exercise-training schedule that incorporates both resistance and aerobic exercise with adequate intake of total calories and protein.”

1. Throw in more veggies!

Almost any meal could stand to have a few more veggies in it.

Grabbing a sub for lunch? Skip that fat-laden meatball sub and grab a turkey with all the veggies. For dinner, it’s quick, easy & cheap to keep various bags of mixed veggies in the freezer and toss in a bit into the skillet or crockpot.

2. Cut back on sugar

Many of us try and be mindful of sugar. Maybe we even eliminate sodas and save sweet treats for special occasions.

But sugar is present in LOTS of things. There can be a ton of it in Chinese food sauces for instance.  Most bottled and canned beverages contain a lot of sugar too. Processed foods at the store can also contain crazy amounts of sugars; even in things you wouldn’t expect.

While you likely can’t eliminate all sugar, knowing that you’re likely consuming a lot of it without even knowing, try not adding sugar to things like coffee or tea.

Liquid stevia or powdered stevia (click the links to see my favorite brands on Amazon) is a great way to get the sweetness of sugar naturally without the insulin spike, calories or nastiness of artificial sweeteners.

3. Find healthy ways to move every day

Movement is life. Many of us, myself included, work behind a desk every day.

It’s also true that many of us spend more time couch surfing and being on screened devices than past generations. All that sedentary behavior can take its toll on our bodies, our flexibility, our muscles and yes, make it hard to get a flat belly after 40.

Don’t want to do a vigorous workout? No problem! Take a 20-minute daily walk, do yoga 3 times a week, but do something.

Movement is the key to health and longevity.

4. Stop counting calories

Seriously. You’ll drive yourself crazy.

Plus who has time for that and how accurate will it be at restaurants anyway? Enjoy life. Enjoy food. Just eat healthy food and a sensible amount.

If you have kids, get them set up for success in the future with my Healthy Eating Habits For Children (click to read on my site). Starting early and preventing those bad habits is far better than trying to fix the problem later!

5. Find effective ways to manage stress

Stress is a killer. There are plenty of studies on how stress can cause us to age prematurely or increase the risk of heart disease or high blood pressure. But under stress, the body produces high levels of the hormone cortisol.

Cortisol controls how much fat gets stored and where it gets stored.

A recent study by University College London showed that when under stress, over time, the increased levels of cortisol can cause people to be significantly overweight.

My solution for managing stress & sleeping better?

Interestingly enough, adding magnesium to my morning routine actually has helped my overall anxiety a considerable amount.

I personally use Natural Calm Magnesium powder (click to check the current price on Amazon Prime) and just add a tablespoon to a large glass of water each morning after I get up.  It’s organic, GMO-free, vegan and gluten-free. They claim, and in my 6 months of using it, I agree that it:

  • Supports a healthy immune system and keeps bones strong
  • Supports regular blood sugar levels, blood pressure and producing energy
  • Helps fight stress and anxiety

That’s all I have to say about that, but if you give it a try, I’d love to hear how it works for you!

6. Get enough sleep

The National Sleep Foundation, in conjunction with the American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated it’s sleep recommendations by age. Here are their recommendations for adults.

flat belly after 40 National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep Duration Recommendations Middle Class Dad

A recent study by the National Institutes of Health found that “if you’re sleep-deprived, your hedonic drive for certain foods gets stronger, and your ability to resist them may be impaired. So you are more likely to eat it. Do that again and again, and you pack on the pounds.”

7. Don’t completely eliminate treats

Do you know what happens when we completely deprive ourselves?

After a while we get frustrated. When we don’t feel that instant gratification of a flat belly after 40 that doesn’t often happen quickly when we eliminate all the things we love, we fall back to our old ways.

We binge. Then we feel guilty. We resolve to try again. We fail again and our self-esteem plummets while our weight skyrockets.

So don’t eat ice cream or cookies every day, but do indulge every once in a while. Give yourself a treat, especially as a reward for hitting a certain goal.

When we don’t feel deprived we stay motivated.

8. Focus less on a diet and more on a lifestyle

Don’t worry about the latest diet book that hit the #1 spot on the NY Times.  Next year someone else will come out with one that tells us why the last one got it all wrong.

Eat better, move more, reduce stress, sleep longer. It really isn’t much more complicated than that.

9. Don’t add salt at the table

We can’t easily control how much salt is in prepackaged foods or foods at restaurants.

However, many of us, without even thinking about it, just add salt at the dinner table. I want you to stop doing this. For one, it’s just a habit. For another, when people salt food before tasting it, they aren’t even adding it because it needs it.

Make no mistake, our bodies need sodium to survive, but too much can cause edema. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Edema is swelling caused by excess fluid trapped in your body’s tissues.” Too much sodium can easily lead to an electrolyte imbalance, which can cause both hypertension and edema.

So cut back where you can, but never just add salt to meals at the table.

10. Take a daily omega 3 supplement

According to Healthline, “Fish oil may be most effective at reducing hunger and appetite in healthy people following an effective weight loss diet.” But they also claim that “Fish oil may increase the speed of your metabolism.”

And they end by saying “Fish oil may help increase the number of calories and amount of fat burned during exercise”.

Want the highest rated fish oil capsule on Amazon Prime?

Premium Fish Oil Omega 3 by Mav Nutrition

It has almost all 5 stars, over 1000 reviews and is a #1 best seller in the fish oil category on Amazon! If you’re looking for a flat belly after 40, fish oil is well worth considering!

CLICK HERE to check the latest prices on Amazon.

11. Cut back on milk

No matter what the ads say, according to most experts, milk does NOT do a body good.

Think of it this way. Is there anywhere else in the animal kingdom where 1 species drinks the breast-milk of another species?

No is the answer you’re looking for.

Now, I’m not a vegan and I’m not uber-militant. I like cheese and ice cream too. But if you want a flat belly after 40, you aren’t likely to get it by drinking milk regularly.

But don’t take my word for it. A recent study by Harvard looked at the relationship between dairy intake and the risk of cardiovascular diseases. They found that “These results suggest that dairy fat is not an optimal type of fat in our diets.”

They went on to say that “a healthy diet pattern tends to be plant-based and low in saturated fat,”

12. Do less cardio

I know, that doesn’t sound right!

After all, if you’re trying to lose weight or find the perfect anti-dad bod workout plan (click to read my article), surely cardio has to be a big part of that, right?

Our bodies do burn fat as fuel while engaging in lower-intensity workouts (such as cardio).

But, that’s not necessarily what will get us the most weight loss. What counts most is our overall calorie burn.

“The higher the intensity of your workout, the more total calories you will burn,” according to Marta Montenegro, who is a Doctorate in Clinical Nutrition candidate at UNINI MX with a Masters in Science and Physiology with a specialization in cardiac rehabilitation.

“Studies show (doing higher intensity training) you’ll shrink your belly fat faster.”

13. Engage in more resistance or weight training

“Strength training builds lean muscle mass, which both increases your metabolism and decreases fat,” says trainer to the stars Elizabeth Hendrix Burwell, owner of High Performance Gym.

A recent study by the American Council on Exercise found that kettlebell exercises can burn up to 20 calories a minute. That’s like running 6 miles a minute!

14. Have a clear goal in mind and track your progress

If you set out on a cross-country road trip without a map or GPS on your phone how would you know where to go?

In fact, would you even set out on a road trip without a destination in mind?

So if you want to be healthier, live longer AND have a flat belly after 40, have a clear, measurable goal. That goal could be to lose 1 lb per week. It could be to go from a pant waist size of 36 down to a 34 in 6 months.

Whatever your goal, make it realistic and achievable. Then measure your progress each week.

Need help setting, planning and tracking your goals?

The Freedom Journal is the Best Daily Planner to Accomplish Your #1 Goal in 100 Days!

One of my most-favorite podcast hosts is John Lee Dumas of the podcast EOFire.  He has created an amazing & scientific approach to knocking your goals out of the park!

It’s called the Freedom Journal and on Amazon Prime, it has almost all 5 stars and hundreds of reviews.

CLICK HERE to check current prices on Amazon and check it out today and see if it can’t help you with your goals, for New Year’s and beyond!

15. Be patient with yourself and this journey

You know we can control in this world?

Not much other than our own actions & reactions.

But even when it comes to weight-loss, we can’t always control where friends or family members want to eat and we also can’t control genetics or the boss stressing us out.

So be patient with yourself and this journey. You WILL get where you want to be. But expect the unexpected. Go with the flow and don’t fight against every unexpected obstacle.

Not only will you be happier, but you’ll be much more likely to achieve your goals.

Speaking of goals, whether it’s New Year’s or not, my expert tips on keeping New Year’s Resolutions (click to read on my site) can help you and your goals all year long!

16. Don’t buy low-fat foods

I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but avoid packaged foods labeled low-fat.

While it’s true they are typically lower-fat versions of the foods you love, they are often substituting sugars and carbs for the lack of fat.

Thus while you may be consuming a lower quantity of fat, these empty starches are converting to added pounds on your body.

So eat full-fat foods; just a sensible amount and the right foods.

17. Take a vitamin D supplement

Medical News Today recently released a finding that “individuals with higher levels of belly fat and larger waistlines are more likely to have lower vitamin D levels”.

Luckily it’s not hard to get a little extra vitamin D.  The sun you’ll get on walks is a great way to soak in natural vitamin D.

But vitamin D supplements are a great way to beef up your vitamin D as well.

NatureWise Vitamin D3 has an amazing 5000+ reviews on Amazon Prime and almost all are 4 and 5 stars. It’s also an Amazon Best Seller. And it’s under 15 bucks!

CLICK HERE to check current prices on Amazon!

18. Be kind to yourself

When we’re constantly beating ourselves up over not meeting some predetermined expectations, we’re setting ourselves up for failure.

So be kind to yourself. Remember that you are human and like all humans, you will make mistakes.

When we expect the occasional setback and don’t freak out over it, we tend to get over it much more quickly and get back to the business of going for that flat belly after 40.

19. Don’t drink soda, at least not daily

Sodas are either LOADED with sugar. A 16oz can of Coke contains 190 calories and a whopping 52 grams of sugar (104% of your recommended daily allowance). When you consider that many people drink more than 1 a day (or grab the notorious 44oz. Big Gulp), it’s not hard to see that we have a sugar problem in our country.

Treat yourself every now and then if you must, but avoid drinking soda daily if you want to have any hope of a flat belly after 40.

20. Eliminate artificial sweeteners

Love soda and think you can just switch to Diet Coke to shed pounds?

Think again!

Diet Coke (and most other diet sodas and beverages) contain Nutrasweet (aspartame). In a recent study by the Yale Journal of Biology & Medicine, they found that “artificial sweeteners, precisely because they are sweet, encourage sugar craving and sugar dependence.”

They also found that “drinkers of artificially sweetened beverages consistently had higher BMI (body mass index)”.

And that is to say nothing of the studies purporting that aspartame may cause cancer.

Want to be healthy and have a flat belly after 40? Drop artificial sweeteners altogether.

21. Cut way back on processed carbs

Processed carbs include french fries, potato chips and a whole lot more. White bread, white rice, and regular pasta also make the list.

These often lack nutritional value and are high in sodium making them some of the most challenging foods to eat when you’re striving for a flat belly after 40.

So cut back on carbs where it makes sense, but also switch to whole grain bread and pasta as an easy swap. With the right toppings or sauce, you aren’t even likely to notice.

Check out all the 11 foods that Pack on the Pounds you should avoid or cut back on.

22. Eat foods containing Vitamin C

Want to fight stress and eat at the same time? These vitamin C rich foods help combat cortisol  and “reduced indices of stress” according to a recent study by the National Institutes of Health:

  • Berries
  • Asparagus
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Cabbage

23. Remember that ultimately it comes down to calories consumed & calories burned

We try and make diet and weight loss so complicated (especially in the US).

But really, while genetics and age do play roles, it mostly comes down to 2 things:

Calories consumed and calories burned.

Want a flat belly after 40? Either eat less or exercise more (or both).

24. Don’t jump from fad diet to fad diet

Fad diets come and go. Just ask Dr. Atkins or whoever created the South Beach Diet.

To really have a flat belly after 40 and beyond, we need to focus on simply living a healthier life. That means no more fad diets or counting calories.

Focus on eating less, eating healthy and more movement and lowering stress.

Don’t get me wrong. I have friends and family members who have lost weight on the Keto diet and countless others that came before.

But research from UCLA suggests that up to 2/3 of dieters don’t stick with these diets and when they fall off the plan, they often gain back MORE weight than they started with.

UCLA even went so far as to say “dieting is actually a consistent predictor of future weight gain.”

25. Drink peppermint tea after dinner

What? It may surprise you, but peppermint tea has amazing gastrointestinal properties.

A recent study by the National Institutes of Health found that peppermint “stimulated bile secretion, decreased total cholesterol level, and increased total bile acid level.” A healthy flow of bile is how your body digests fats.

Also, another study by the National Institutes of Health found that “peppermint has significant antimicrobial and antiviral activities, strong antioxidant and anti-tumor actions.” So there are other health benefits too!

Harney & Sons Organic Peppermint Herbal Tea is an Amazon Choice product on Amazon Prime. It rates 4.5 stars and well over 600 reviews and at well under $10, it’s an easy way to help hit your flat belly after 40 goals!

CLICK HERE to check current prices on Amazon.

26. Reduce your screen time

We all love our computers, tablets, and smartphones. I’m sure you’re reading this on one.

But compared to our grandparents, we are much more sedentary today than at any time in the past. Many of us sit at the office, then we sit to and from in the car only to come home and sit some more and veg out in front of our phone or TV.

Then we’re off to bed. Rinse and repeat.

The Mayo Clinic states that “sitting for long periods of time (can lead to) obesity . . . increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels.”

They also shockingly found that “those who sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of death similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking.”

So engage in movement, often, especially to get that flat belly after 40.

Talk daily walks. At work, get up and move a little every 30 minutes. And that’s to say nothing of how Technology Affects the Brain Negatively (click to read my post).

27. Have a set routine for exercising each week

A set schedule for exercise is a great thing.

We are creatures of habit, so having a set routine is the best way to get with an exercise regime and stick with it.

While you can join a gym, according to USA Today, “the average gym membership costs just under $60 per month, and 67% of memberships go unused. ”

So do something that is easy to work into your schedule, not expensive, and ideally something you won’t look for excuses to talk yourself out of doing it.

Yoga, martial arts or just a daily set of 20 pushups, squats, leg raises, and sit-ups.

Final thoughts

In this post, I took a hard look at belly fat, aging, and some of the medical reasons behind why it can be harder to lose stubborn belly fat as we age.

Specifically, I looked at 27 amazing tips to help us get a flat belly after 40.

Tips that aren’t costly, time-consuming, or unrealistic for our busy schedules. Now in my mid-50’s a flat belly is one of my struggles too, despite my 25 years of health expertise working for Whole Foods Market and my current fitness role of running a large martial arts school.

What has been your biggest challenge losing your belly fat?

Ever wish all your weight loss efforts produced real results?

I feel your pain.

I’ve been just a little overweight my whole life. Not obese, just heavier than I want to be; clothes tighter than I wish, and I look a little fatter than I wish in family photos.

I eat healthy, workout 3 or more times a week, and still, the fat just sits there.

I am not a doctor, a nutritionist or a physical health professional (although my day job is running a martial arts school) and I did spend over 20 years as a leader for Whole Foods Market. This post, like all my posts, is based on my research, opinions, and observations. If you need medical or professional advice you should seek out a qualified professional in your area.

Middle Class Dad is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases if you click to Amazon from my site and choose to make a purchase. This is no way increases the cost to you.

Being a Highly Sensitive Man – Top Pros and Cons

Highly sensitive people feel things on a deep emotional level. But what are the pros and cons of being a highly sensitive man?

Being a highly sensitive man can make you incredibly caring, insightful, intuitive, and empathetic. However, tipped out of balance, it can also lead to insecurity, paranoia, low self-esteem, and relationship challenges.

I’ll admit it. I can sometimes be overly sensitive. Maybe even a little clingy and needy too.

My wife, on the other hand, can be somewhat distant, aloof, and not super touchy-feely. In the early years of our marriage, that led to a lot of insecurity for me and created a lot of friction too.

She would withdraw and I would cling on for dear life. 

Ultimately, it’s all about learning each other’s love languages, giving the benefit of the doubt, and figuring out what each other needs without compromising (too much) of who we are.

So in this post, we’re diving deep into the world of sensitive guys.

We’ll examine the pros and cons of being a highly sensitive man, how relationships can work, what kind of woman is best for a highly sensitive man, and all the top questions surrounding highly sensitive men.

Let’s dive in!

What are sensitive guys like?

A highly sensitive man (or woman) can be described as having someone who has an extreme emotional response to both external events (people, places, things), as well as their own internal challenges (self-doubt, insecurity, feelings of self-worth).

While being a highly sensitive man shouldn’t be mistaken for being weak, and the sensitivity also has a lot of benefits, there are challenges too.

Highly sensitive men and women can be both introverts and extroverts, so you can’t gauge sensitivity by that alone.

Some of the pros of being a highly sensitive man include:

  • Being a good listener
  • Good sense of intuition and understanding of others
  • Being empathetic

If you aren’t sure if you are a highly sensitive man or woman, check out this free online HSP test from Dr. Elaine N. Aron and check your results.

Is a highly sensitive person a real thing?

Yes, is the short answer.

Whether you call them empathic, empathetic, or just sensitive, there are a LOT of people who fall into this category.

It was actually psychologist Elaine Aron, mentioned above, who coined the clinical term Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). She created the term to describe what she feels is an actual condition for people who have an unusually high level of emotional sensitivity.

So what does that mean?

  • They need to occasionally recharge themselves by having more alone time than others
  • Sometimes they avoid violent or negative movies or music
  • They avoid people who bring drama and negativity
  • Overly sensitive to bright lights or loud sounds
  • Can become easily overwhelmed

But from a different perspective, some professionals, like Andrea Marsden Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology and human services at Beacon College in Florida, believe HSP may indicate someone is on the autism spectrum.

Going back to Dr. Elaine Aron, she states that 15 to 20% of the population is highly sensitive.

Taking this even further, the Journal of Translational Psychiatry published a recent study which noted there are 3 levels of HSPs; Low, Medium, and High sensitive people.

Can a man be too sensitive?

Ultimately, the short answer is yes; a man can sometimes be too sensitive.

Being overly sensitive can sometimes lead to easily getting one’s feelings hurt, depression, low self-esteem, low feelings of self-worth, frequent crying, and ultimately make it hard to function and to be in a healthy relationship with others.

In the old days, men were taught to be the strong silent type.

That image still persists in movies and TV shows ranging from The Punisher to the Die Hard series. But even those characters, deep down inside, are overly sensitive men.

The key for sensitive guys (of which I am one) is balance.

We have to understand who and what we are, but not let that sensitivity drive and fuel our insecurities to such a degree that we get paralyzed with fear or paranoid.

How do I stop being a sensitive man?

If you are a sensitive guy and you’re feeling overwhelmed with emotions, are unable to function in relationships without pushing people away, it may be time to find some balance.

I get that being a highly sensitive man can be a confusing thing.

In the 1950s men were taught to be anything but that. By the 1970s men were encouraged to get in touch with their feminine side and share their emotions.

Some women like that but many are still attracted the “bad boy” who displays more macho tendencies.

So what is a well-meaning guy to do in the 21st century?

Balance, my friend, is the key as I mentioned above. Be caring, expressive, loving, and communicative. But avoid going down the dark paths of jealousy, insecurity, or allowing fear to paralyze you.

Here are the top steps you can take to help with emotional overwhelm:

  • Use breathing exercises to calm and recenter yourself
  • Set aside time for yourself 
  • Take up mindful meditation
  • Be comfortable setting clear boundaries with others (it’s OK to say no!)
  • Cater to your senses (turn the lights down, listen to calming music, etc.)

How fear and anxiety can affect being a sensitive man

Fear is the real enemy. 

It causes us to pause, to over-analyze, to 2nd guess ourselves, and ultimately to seem wishy-washy and non-committal.

Overcoming fear of failure and rejection requires:

  • Acknowledging it
  • Acting within 3 seconds so we don’t give ourselves time to chicken out
  • Understanding that we won’t always succeed
  • A growth mindset for learning from our mistakes
  • And actively working to improve our self-esteem so other’s opinions of us matter less

If you want to learn some additional steps of Overcoming a Fear of Failure and Rejection (click to read on my site), I highly recommend you take a moment and check out one of my most shared posts that walks you through all the steps.

How do you deal with a highly sensitive man?

If you are in a relationship with a highly sensitive man, that can be a great thing!

He may be more attentive, more thoughtful, and more caring than previous relationships you’ve had before.

But if he has yet to find that balance I’ve been mentioning, it can sometimes be challenging too.

Here are some great strategies for understanding, being in a relationship with, and ultimately for dealing with a highly sensitive man:

  • Understand he may sometimes be overwhelmed by emotion (and not be able to express it)
  • Give him space when he wants it (but let him know you’re there for him)
  • Be clear in your communication (vague, indirect, or sugar-coating can lead to confusion)
  • Understand what triggers him (and be cautious about those things)

In my marriage, I tend to be the highly sensitive one as I mentioned at the top. In the early days of our marriage, if my wife didn’t want to cuddle or hold hands or wouldn’t respond to my texts for hours, I use to take that personally.

I would take offense, rush to judgment, and make wild assumptions.

Ultimately I had to learn to give the benefit of the doubt, understand that she’s not going anywhere (unless I push her away) and she had to understand that sometimes (but not always) I do need those things to feel loved and wanted.

I chronicled our journey in a highly shared article about How to Be Less Clingy in a Relationship (click to read on my site), so if that sounds familiar, it’s well worth bookmarking!

What does it mean to be overly sensitive?

A highly sensitive person (HSP) feels everything on a deep emotional level.

That isn’t just the bad stuff, so being a highly sensitive man can also mean laughing frequently, smiling often, and loving life too.

It also means you tend to be hyper-aware of the energy people give off and can read people and their intentions really well.

I train in martial arts, and one of the things we do is called sensitivity training where we work at improving our ability to connect and understand others through their energy, intentions and other non-verbal cues.

Highly sensitive people can do this automatically.

Some of the cons of being a highly sensitive man include:

  • Crying frequently
  • Being overwhelmed with emotion
  • Unable to take action out of fear
  • Feeling like you don’t fit in

Can a highly sensitive person be a narcissist?

First, let’s define what a narcissist is.

Narcissism is often misunderstood. It’s also quite common for people to call someone that simply because they did something that appeared selfish or self-serving.

But in reality, we all have those moments, so that’s not necessarily true narcissism.

A true narcissist has some, if not all of the following traits:

  • An inflated sense of self
  • Arrogance
  • A need for praise
  • Lack of empathy
  • Feeling entitled

Ultimately, while there can definitely be some overlap between a narcissist and a highly sensitive man (or woman), they are ultimately NOT the same thing.

Where they overlap is that ultimately both face challenges with self-esteem and feelings of self-worth. The narcissist, however, is almost unemotional, compared to the overly-emotional sensitive person.

If you struggle with low self-esteem, there are some GREAT steps you can take to combat that and move your life forward.

So I highly encourage you to check out my article on Boosting Self-Esteem (click to read on my site) so you can truly better your life.

Is HSP a disorder?

No, is the short answer.

HSP, as we’ve mentioned elsewhere, stands for highly sensitive people.

It also is sometimes referred to as Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS) or even Hypersensitivity. The good news is that it is NOT recognized as a disorder.

Hypersensitivity technically refers to people who are overly-sensitive to ALL of the senses (sights, sounds, and smells) and thus far, for the purposes of this article, we’ve just focused on emotional sensitivity.

Interestingly, this is a high correlation between hypersensitivity and ADHD according to Dr. Edward Hallowell, M.D. Dr. Halloweel, a graduate of Harvard, and author of the highly acclaimed books Driven to Distraction and his more recent update Delivered from Distraction (click to see it on Amazon).

If ADHD is a challenge for you, and especially for your kids, there are some great Natural ADHD Solutions (click to read on my site) that I researched and collected in one of my earliest articles.

In my day job, I work with hundreds of kids and their parents and I have literally seen almost any behavioral issue you can think of, having been there since 2013, and I also get to talk with a lot of parents about solutions to challenges that they find effective.

Is being highly sensitive hereditary?

Ultimately being a highly sensitive man is NOT something a guy chooses.

A recent study on sensory processing sensitivity by Universities in Southern California, New York, and New Jersey found that traits of highly sensitive men and women are something they are born with.

They went on to note that a high percentage of the traits of HSP (highly sensitive people) was, in fact, rooted in 7 different genetic factors.

So yes, while being a highly sensitive man is often influenced by childhood and how we were raised, ultimately being highly sensitive is largely hereditary and something we were born with.

Studies also suggest that about 20% of the population is highly sensitive.

Thus, while highly sensitive people aren’t the majority, it does mean that 1 in 5 people you know fall into this category.

What type of woman is best for a highly sensitive man?

Highly sensitive people will be quick to pick up on your emotional state, the unspoken tension in a room, and even a down mood you might not even be consciously aware of.

In my marriage, I am definitely a sensitive man.

I am very quick to pick up on my wife’s energy, especially when I can tell that she’s unhappy. Being a guy, I love to fix things that are broken, so when she’s in a bad mood, my go-to response is to ask what’s wrong so I can help troubleshoot.

Unfortunately for a lot of people, wives, in particular, that approach doesn’t often work.

So for a woman to be in a successful relationship with a sensitive man, she has to realize she won’t be able to hide anything from him. No secrets, no lies. No answering “I’m fine” when he asks what’s wrong.

He’ll see right through that.

You see, being a sensitive man means I might pick up on a small facial tick, or how you arch your back when you’re feeling down, a change in eye contact, or even changes in your tone when you’re stressed.

I can see and hear and understand all of that. I may not know the issue behind it, but I know when my wife is “off”.

Thus, for a woman, such as my wife, to be in a relationship with a sensitive man, such as myself, she has to be OK with vulnerability. To be open, honest, and not try and hide things from me.

It’s perfectly OK to set boundaries or say I need some time to myself, but it won’t work if she’s trying to hide her feelings.

How do you love a sensitive man?

Often times, HSP (highly sensitive people) need time to adjust to change.

In my life, I’ve worked very hard to try and come to terms with the fact that the only thing I truly have control over in this life is my choices, actions, and statements.

The idea of controlling anything else is an illusion.

Once a HSP comes to terms with that, life gets a whole lot better. But your highly sensitive man may still be in a place where change is hard. So be patient. Be clear.

It’s also not uncommon for HSP to feel alone and isolated and misunderstood.

So love a highly sensitive man slowly, thoughtfully, without expectations of him being something other than who he is. You’ll take great joy in his ability to understand how you’re feeling and his overall thoughtfulness and intuitiveness.

The best ways to deal with a highly sensitive husband or boyfriend are:

  • Be vulnerable with him (he’ll pick up anyway if you’re not being straight up)
  • Clearly communicate your needs (and wants, expectations, and boundaries)
  • Know that in many cases you will be the extroverted one
  • Be reassuring (especially if you aren’t the touchy-feely kind)
  • Always be honest

Can a highly sensitive person really love someone?

The short answer is yes, of course.

HSH (highly sensitive people) do sometimes have high, or even unrealistic expectations. As a result, it can be harder for them to be truly happy in relationships.

For me, I’ve been around the block a few times and had a number of serious relationships (and therapy) and have gotten to a really good place in my life where I’m balanced in my views of the world and relationships.

I’ve also learned to, as Tony Robbins says, “trade my expectations for appreciation” when it comes to my wife (and relationships with anyone).

But most highly sensitive men (and women) love very deeply.

Our empathic abilities help us to really see, feel, hear, and “get” our partners. That makes us very supportive and caring.

Because HSP tends to have high expectations, low tolerance for change, and love perfectionism, they do tend to feel stress more than others. Thus, finding good and healthy outlets for stress is crucial!

For me, that outlet is martial arts, although I love yoga as well.

The cornerstone of both practices is breathwork, and while I don’t practice either art daily, I do practice breathwork daily.

Breath is life, and breath is the key to a long life and happiness. But don’t take my word for it. I have an article on my site from the founder of Siddhi Yoga International which goes into all the Benefits of Yoga Breathing (click to read on my site).

So definitely check that out and see if you can’t put some of those simple practices in place in your life too.

What happens in the workplace when you’re sensitive?

As I said above, only about 20% of people are highly sensitive.

Thus, many HSP know that the majority of people just won’t quite understand them, or may mistake sensitivity for weakness.

I know in my own life and prior career at Whole Foods Market, there was more than one occasion where I was told I needed to be more energetic, more dynamic; that I needed to go around high fiving people and energizing people.

I was a general manager for a number of their stores and there were some in the company who felt like the high-energy cheerleader-type was the only way to lead people.

In truth, that’s just not who I am, and for the vast majority of my 20+ year career there, I was highly successful (3 Top 10 store awards, Store Manager of the Year award and a Global All-Star award).

But at least with some of my leaders, I did feel misunderstood.

What I do know is that while a growth mindset is crucial and we never want to stop learning and growing, we also can’t fundamentally change who we are for someone who just doesn’t understand us.

So be open-minded. Be flexible. But also stick to your guns.

I’m never going to be the guy who goes around high-fiving employees and yelling “dan-totsu” (a Japanese word meaning first place or superior which was often chanted by some of my former bosses).

You don’t need to change who you are to be successful.

Raising children as an openly sensitive man

I have 3 daughters. 2 are tweens and 1 is a toddler, so my wife and I have our hands full.

As a parent, I can tell you that thick skin is essential as your kids get anywhere close to being teens.

When they’re little they just love you unconditionally. They may be fussy when they’re tired, but you never doubt their love for you.

That definitely changes as they get older. School gets harder, hormones start changing, school cliques start forming and they start to notice boys and girls differently. All of that affects how they relate to their parents.

So being a highly sensitive man to 3 daughters is a challenge!

The good news is I am well-attuned to their needs, moods, wants, and attitudes. But that’s also the bad news.

HSP do tend to be very effective communicators (if not sometimes over-communicators), so that too can lend itself well to parenting.

HSP also strives to do things perfectly, and that too can serve a parent very well as long as you clearly understand that neither you nor your kids will always get it right.

The biggest downsides to being a highly sensitive man and father are that it’s not hard for my daughters (and wife occasionally) to hurt my feelings.

If your child says mean things to you, stay calm, accept their feelings (we don’t have to agree), communicate how their actions made you feel, & avoid lashing out or guilt trips. It’s not always easy to take the high road in the heat of the moment.

Luckily, I have found some great solutions for when Your Child Hurts Your Feelings (click to read on my site) and have detailed them in that article, so if you face that challenge, it’s definitely worth having a look.

Final Thoughts

In this post, we took an in-depth look at the world of highly sensitive guys.

We addressed all the top challenges sensitive men face as well as some of the challenges those in relationships with highly sensitive men face.

We answered all the top questions and ultimately examined all the pros and cons of being a highly sensitive man. Are you a highly sensitive man or in a relationship with one?

Middle Class Dad is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases if you click to Amazon from my site and choose to make a purchase. This is no way increases the cost to you.

35 Proven Benefits of Being Appreciative You Probably Didn’t Know

being appreciative Middle Class Dad woman hiking in a canyon on the top of a cliff with blue sky and sun behind her

Wondering if the benefits of being appreciative can really change your life?

I think you’ll agree with me that most of us have a lot to be grateful for.

Yes, we have things that trouble or challenge us, but compared to many, life is pretty good.

If you’re reading this you likely have a computer and/or smartphone. You also have enough free time to research topics that interest you. By default it’s also likely you have enough to eat and sleep with a roof over your head.

Many of us have those things and much more.

But we still can find ourselves feeling unsatisfied with life, our spouse, our job, etc.

It’s great to have goals and to want more out of life for ourselves and our family. But that shouldn’t be driven by greed, jealousy or unhappiness.

You CAN live the life of your dreams. But we don’t get that by focusing on what we don’t have or what people aren’t doing for us.

In this post, we’re taking an in-depth look at the benefits of being appreciative.

Specifically, we’re looking at the importance of gratitude in life, how gratitude can change your life and exactly how to put it into practice.

What is the meaning of gratefulness?

Being grateful, or practicing gratefulness, very simply, is (according to Merriam-Webster) “appreciative of benefits received” or “expressing gratitude”.

That seems simple enough, but how can we become more grateful?  How can we express gratefulness and not take all the amazing things in our life for granted?

Yet again, WHY do we need to be grateful and how does that help us?

No matter who you are, where you are at in life or what you have or don’t have, I can pretty well guarantee you have something to be grateful for.  Sure there may be a lot of things you are working on. You may have things that need to improve or things missing in your life.

But if we can train ourselves to appreciate what we DO have rather than only striving for what we don’t have, we will see an immeasurable boost in our happiness.

So if you’re looking for a list of the Ultimate Ways to Improve Your Life, make sure gratefulness and the benefits of being appreciative are on that list.

How Gratitude Affects the Human Body infographic Middle Class Dad being appreciative

The terrible legacy of Achievement Versus Fulfillment

Tony Robbins was recently interviewed on the Tim Ferriss podcast (a brilliant interview which you should listen to in its entirety) where among other things he spoke about fulfillment.

Specifically, Robbins spoke about how fulfillment was missing from famed actor & comedian Robin Williams’ life. He went on to say that despite all the money, fame and achievement Williams garnered, it was never enough.

Williams, of course, eventually took his own life, despite seemingly “having it all”.

So that tells us, quite profoundly, that focusing on gratitude and finding ways to be fulfilled trumps material possessions and fame and fortune any day of the week.

Listen to that excellent interview here:

The crucial importance of gratitude in life

I mentioned above about cultivating an attitude of gratitude when you are feeling down or less than grateful.

I know that can be a challenge as I’ve been there myself.  Sometimes its just a series of personal mishaps or missteps that leads us to this negative place.  Sometimes a relationship issue leads to erratic behavior at work which leads to losing the job.

That in turn can affect our living arrangements, bill paying and a host of other things.

In a situation like this, it can be VERY hard to be appreciative or feel gratefulness towards anything.  We feel lost, lonely, bitter and it’s easy to get into a blame game and avoid even looking at the actions we took that led us down this path, much less finding things to be grateful about.

So what are my . . . 

35 Proven Benefits of Being Appreciative You Probably Didn’t Know


It’s easy to take our spouses, kids, bosses, co-workers, etc for granted.

After all, we see them daily and we all lead busy, repetitive lives where it’s all too easy to just have expectations of what they give to us without appreciating how they enrich our lives.

When they feel unappreciated that can start us down a negative path with them.


Remember that just because they have that nice new car or big house doesn’t mean they are happy.

Comparisons, envy, and jealousy NEVER lead us down a healthy path.

If we go down those paths long enough it can be quite destructive to our mental outlook.

Rachel Cruze, daughter of the renowned financial coach and radio personality Dave Ramsey, and a now well-known author in her own right, has an excellent book on this very subject that I highly recommend called Love Your Life, Not Theirs: 7 Money Habits for Living the Life You Want


Being present and mindful and “in the moment” is not a new concept but it has gained a lot of popularity of late.

People are really starting to embrace this concept of being focused on the here and now and not letting our thoughts wander off and not trying to multitask. When we are truly present and focused, it improves our connection to others

It also actually improves our productivity despite the lie we’ve been fed about multitasking. This is one of the Key Differences of Successful People vs Unsuccessful People.


Take a minute when you first wake up every day and make a mental list of who and what you’re grateful for. It doesn’t need to be complicated or comprehensive.

It’s OK if it’s not everything in the entire world you feel gratitude for; just a few of the most important things that come to mind in the moment. The benefits of being appreciative in doing this daily is an overall improved outlook and attitude.


A recent study by the journal Personality and Individual Differences found that “Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people“.


A recent study by the National Institutes of Health found that “people who consistently experienced positive emotions with their parents as children and then later with their spouses as adults were less than half as likely as others to exhibit high levels of cumulative wear and tear on the body”.


When people feel that you value them for who they are rather than what they do for you, they will naturally draw closer to you and value you more in return.


In giving, we are recognizing that we have something of value that someone else doesn’t have.  It could be time, money, knowledge or any one of a number of other things, but since we have it and someone else doesn’t we are giving it to someone who truly needs it.

In this case, we’re still talking about recognizing what we have of value. But this time simply acknowledging that and being grateful that we have it.

It also helps to remember that no matter what little we have, what we have lost, or what we think we need or deserve, there’s ALWAYS someone out there in this world who dreams of what we have.


When you go to work every day feeling entitled, that’s naturally draining to your boss and your co-workers.

After all, the world and the people in it owe us nothing. Hard work, a great attitude & flexibility are what drives employers to promote their employees.

As our attitude shifts to expecting less and appreciating more, we naturally spend less time grousing and more time doing. That won’t go unnoticed.


When we focus on appreciating what we already have, we naturally start to focus less on keeping up with the Jones.

As that happens, our innate consumerism takes a back seat to focus on what really matters; family, friends, comfort, and safety.  Adding that 4th TV, a new Land Rover or the latest Coach purse move down on the priority list.


A recent study on the benefits of being appreciative was done by Dr. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. of the University of California, Davis & Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami. They tested a number of subjects over a 10 week period.

Half the group was asked to write about gratitude and what they were grateful for.  The other group went the opposite direction and were instructed to write about daily irritations.

What do you think happened with those groups?

The group that focused on gratefulness came out of the 10-week study feeling happier, more optimistic, healthier and had a tendency to exercise more and take better care of themselves.

Dr. Emmons also has some books on this subject, so check more of his work here:



When we feel like everything is constantly going wrong, it can decimate our self-esteem.

So as you change your outlook, it naturally has the net effect of Boosting Our Self-Esteem. As our self-esteem improves, that too has a cascading effect of bringing positive results into our life; one of the most profound benefits of being appreciative.


Indecision is often rooted in frustration or fear. As we learn to accept and appreciate the world around us and the people in it, we naturally become less fearful.

After all, when we come to terms with the fact that almost all of life is out of our control, there isn’t much left to fear. When that happens, we become more confident and make decisions faster.


Many of us struggle with a Fear of Failure or Rejection.

But by focusing on being happy with what we have instead of what we don’t have, you will find you naturally flow around life’s challenges instead of letting them stop you in your tracks. Resilience simply means to keep trying until you get it; to not giveResilienceience is a natural result of gratefulness.


“We spend so much time watching things—movies, computer screens, sports—but with gratitude, we become greater participants in our lives as opposed to spectators.”


With decisiveness, as I mentioned above, you will naturally be more confident and make decisions faster. As an employee, employers value and reward those who can confidently and quickly move the needle forward and do so with a positive attitude. But even outside of the workplace, you’ll naturally be seen more as a leader than a follower.



I think one key takeaway can come from the above Tony Robbins quote.

Quite simply when we’re ONLY focused on what we can get from others or what we think we deserve or what others have that we don’t, we’re almost always going to be disappointed, mad or frustrated.

If we do that long enough over a period of time it’s like we’re programming ourselves to be in a negative mindset. That can set the stage for a downward spiral that affects our relationships, employment, health and almost every other important factor in our lives.

On the flip side, if we focus on what we already have; however much or little, we truly start to see the benefits of being appreciative.

If we focus our thoughts and energies on truly appreciating the people, places and things in our lives. Then we foster a genuine sense of gratefulness that does nothing but propel us forward into a more positive outlook.


As our attitude and disposition improve all aspects of our physical being naturally start coming up on the priority list.

Thus you may find that exercise, even more benign things like a walk through the neighborhood, become more important. The residual benefits of being outside in the fresh air and getting vitamin D from the sun only multiply the benefits.


As our mind becomes more centered, more focused, less fearful and focused on being appreciative, you will naturally find sleep patterns improve. But don’t take my word for it.

A recent study by the National Institutes of Health found that “higher levels of gratitude predicted better subjective sleep quality and sleep duration”.


As we sleep better, exercise more, practice relaxation techniques more that all have the net effect of giving our bodies more physical energy.


Being appreciative helps make us nicer, more trustworthy, more outgoing, and more likely to feel gratitude towards others.

This naturally causes our friendships to get deeper and draw people closer to us.


Another study was with the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. They normally do an annual fundraiser targeting university alumni.

For their study, they split their team into 2 groups.

The first group called alumni and solicited donations the way it had been done year after year.  The second group, however, met daily with the head of the fundraising department. This head of fundraising continuously thanked them for their tireless efforts in raising money for the school.

Can you guess what happened next?

You guessed it!  The second group actually raised 50% more in donations than the first group!


Empathy means to put ourselves, figuratively, in the shoes of another.

Not to feel sympathy for them or feel sorry for them, but to really understand their situation.

A recent study called the Do Good. Live Well Survey was conducted by United Healthcare. It studied over 4000 people and found that their lives improved in a variety of ways by focusing on others and appreciating what they have rather than focusing inward.


When we focus less on judging others, forgiveness and being appreciative for everything we have, we naturally become more patient when things don’t go as planned.

In reality, we don’t truly have control over anything other than our own actions and reactions. Literally, everything else is completely outside of our control. When we realize that and quit trying to control everything, we naturally become more patient, calmer and happier.


As we gain patience and learn to not sweat the little things, you’ll naturally find yourself losing your temper less. Little things don’t matter as much and everything wrong that happens isn’t personal.


As our personality shifts and we become more positive you will naturally find that draws you to more people who also see life that same way. Call it networking if you must, but your circle of positive friends, co-workers and peers will naturally expand as your attitude shifts.


In the studies by Dr. Emmons referenced above, he states  “Gratitude reduces lifetime risk for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders, and is a key resiliency factor in the prevention of suicide”


Misery loves company. If you have been a “glass half empty” kind of person, you’ve likely attracted a few negative toxic people in your life.

So as you focus on being appreciative instead of focusing on negativity or what you don’t have, those people naturally start to spend their time elsewhere.


A recent study by the American Psychological Association found that “Relaxation techniques are known to reduce blood pressure in hypertensive adults”. Being more relaxed is naturally one of the side-effects of being appreciative.


When we are physically & mentally healthier, calmer, more productive and drawing closer to the people who are closest to us, we will naturally be a better parent to our children.  We get more patient with them, treasure them for who they are and discipline them in a calmer manner. You’ll naturally find your parenting style may switch from Authoritarian to Authoritative.


Our memories are not etched in stone like a file saved on a computer.

Many of us remember things a little differently than they actually happened.  As time goes on, our memories can drift a little further from reality. One of the benefits of being appreciative is that our memories naturally become more positive when we look back.

We don’t focus as much on the bad things in our past and focus more on what went right.


When we stop feeling sorry for ourselves or feeling entitled we naturally feel more fulfilled.

Yes, there will always be someone with “more” than you. We know from some of my other examples that this doesn’t necessarily make you any happier.  Set goals by all means. Have a plan and baby step your way to get there. But focus on enjoying the journey and not the destination. One of the studies I linked to above also noted that “gratitude . . . was associated with greater life satisfaction”.

Practice gratitude. You WILL lead a more fulfilled life.


Another study by the American Psychological Association found that those with “more positive emotions in ties to their spouse, other family members, and friends also report fewer health symptoms, fewer chronic conditions, and better subjective health.”


It should come as no surprise that those who are frequently unhappy are more likely to have health issues.

Our attitude is the key to pointing our life in the direction it will go.  Dr. Emmons found in his research that one of the benefits of being appreciative is that it lowers levels of C-reactive protein, an indicator of cardiac inflammation & heart disease.

Did I cover all the benefits of gratitude & being appreciative you were looking for?

In this post, we looked at the benefits of being appreciative.

Specifically, we looked at the importance of gratitude in life and how gratitude can change your life.

By putting aside expectations and judgments and simply being appreciative of what you have and those around you, your life WILL improve. That’s not just idealism or spiritualism, but actually scientifically proven.

Do you struggle to find an attitude of gratitude?  What challenges have you faced that gratefulness helped with?

Feel free to comment here or email me with any questions as I am here to help!

If you like this post, please consider sharing on Facebook, because if it helped you, it just might help someone else!

Middle Class Dad is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases if you click to Amazon from my site and choose to make a purchase. This is no way increases the cost to you.

15 Best Tips on Eliminating Teenage Anxiety and Panic Attacks

anxious and sad teenage girl with her phone teenage anxiety and panic attacks middle class dad

Struggling with teenage anxiety and panic attacks with your kids?

If you’re a parent of a teen or soon-to-be-teen, I think you’ll agree with me when I say that our kids are getting moodier.

They are getting more anxious and can panic more easily over seemingly simple things. It’s getting harder to tell if something is genuinely wrong, a passing phase, or something to not worry about at all.

Our once happy child is now brooding, quiet, and maybe even secretive.

The problem is that our kids are now heading towards adulthood. School is getting more challenging. Puberty is starting. Friendships and crushes also become more challenging and complex than they were in grade school.

I’d like to tell you that there was a perfect solution to dealing with moody and anxious teens or maybe a book that solved all the issues. Unfortunately, just like the problem, the solution isn’t a simple one-size-fits-all.

In my house, we have 2 almost teenage daughters (and a newborn). I noticed profound changes as my older 2 finished out elementary school and prepared for middle school. My formerly happy girls get grouchy and anxious more easily. They stress over crushes or tests or things that were said on the bus.

Luckily my wife and I have found some very effective tools to help manage these symptoms in a way that brings peace and harmony to our house and our family outings.

In this post, we’re going to look at the most common questions surrounding teenage anxiety and panic attacks. Then we’ll take a look at the proven tips for helping manage and eliminate these issues with your kids.

What are the signs of anxiety in a teenager?

Anxiety is a normal part of growing up.

The teenage years can be some of the most stressful times in their life. Thus anxiety totally normal since their maturity, self-regulation, and communication skills are still developing.

For most kids, anxiety is usually a harmless phase that goes away all on its own. There are, however, a few genuine disorders which may require treatment. Generalized anxiety disorder is one of the big ones.

The Main Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder:

  • Difficulty sitting still
  • Irritable
  • Tires easily
  • Poor sleep patterns
  • Unfocused
  • Muscular tension

Aside from GAD, there are also other disorders to be aware of, such as:

  • Social Anxiety Disorder – The most common disorder. This is simply being uncomfortable in social settings with blushing, stammering and losing confidence
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – This affects up to 3% of the population. Upwards of 10% of adults with OCD attempt suicide, so this is something to pay attention to in teens. This is notable for an obsessive attention to detail being disruptive to their daily life.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – This can happen when a teen (or anyone) witnesses or experiences a tragic or horrible event. But even a nasty divorce can prompt this too.
  • Separation Anxiety – This can happen after the death of a parent or loved one or if a divorce removes one parent from regular contact with the child. It can also be triggered when a family moves from a long-time comfortable surrounding.

What age do you get panic attacks?

Panic attacks and panic disorders can start at any age. After all, the stresses and challenges of life happen differently to different people and can happen all throughout life.

The most common age for these to start, however, is between the ages of 15-25 according to WebMD.

It’s not uncommon at all for people to get them occasionally. But if they happen consistently it could be something called panic disorder. About 1 in 20 people are diagnosed with panic disorder. Women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed.

The Primary child anxiety symptoms of panic disorder are:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Sweating or shaking
  • Lightheaded
  • Numbness in extremities
  • Irrational fears

The Anxiety Workbook for Teens is an Amazon #1 Best Seller. 4.5 stars and well over 100 reviews, this book “gives teens a collection of tools to help control anxiety and face day-to-day challenges. This workbook both gives anxious teens insight into their problems and offers practical guidance for overcoming them.”

What is the difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack?

With anxiety attacks, people become afraid & apprehensive.

Their heart rate may race and their breath becomes shallow. However, these attacks are usually short-lived. Once whatever is causing the anxiety stops, the attack stops.

Panic attacks, on the other hand, aren’t usually triggered by a specific incident or event. Thus they are much harder to see coming or stop on command.

Is teenage anxiety normal?

Almost all teens get some form of child anxiety symptoms. This is totally normal.

After all, everything in their world is changing:

  • Hormones
  • Their bodies
  • School (getting harder)
  • Social pressures
  • Fear of failure & rejection

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stressful situations and is one of the main coping mechanisms for teens.

For most teens, things like finals, athletics, or their increasing awareness of their own sexuality can bring about teenage anxiety and panic attacks.

The brain naturally responds to this by increasing heart rate, perspiration and hampering the teen’s ability to focus. If your teen is struggling specifically with a Fear of Failure and/or rejection, there are some very actionable steps you can take to help resolve those issues, so take a moment and check out one of my most popular posts from earlier this year.

Can you get anxiety during puberty?

Most definitely!

Teenage anxiety and panic attacks often go hand in hand with puberty. You see, puberty is more than just facial hair on boys and breasts on girls. It’s much more complicated than that.

Puberty typically starts around ages 7-13 for girls & 9-15 for boys.

This starts when the brain releases a hormone called GnRH. As GnRH hits the pituitary gland, it releases 2 puberty hormones: LH and FSH.

Boys & girls have both of these in their bodies. But they affect boys and girls in totally different ways.

For boys, the hormones send the testes a signal to start production of testosterone & sperm.

For girls, these hormones cause the ovaries to start producing estrogen. Estrogen, along with FSH and LH, causes a girl’s body to physically mature & prepare for pregnancy.

All these hormonal changes make emotional self-regulation very challenging on top of all the other changes happening in their lives during this time.

Teenage boys in particular, while slower to mature, will start to spend more time alone, and you might see your son start to take really long showers.

The Panic Miracle system is a unique 3 step system that can help you “Treat Your Panic Attacks and Anxiety, Regain Your Self Confidence, and Enjoy Life Without Fear” without drugs, gimicks or things like hypnosis.  The system comes with a 250 page e-book, relaxation audio programs, ultimate stress-relief guide and online access and counseling with the course creator (and former anxiety-sufferer), Chris Bayliss. Learn more about whether this system is right for you at newmiddleclassdad.com/panicmiracle.

So what are the . . .

15 Best Tips on Eliminating Teenage Anxiety and Panic Attacks?

To learn how to help a teenager with anxiety, we’ve found the following 15 tips can significantly reduce or eliminate teenage anxiety and panic attacks.

At the very least these tips can help manage the symptoms and get your teen the support they need to sail through these years and enter adulthood on solid footing.


If your child sees you panicked or stressed over their behavior guess what’s going to get worse?

As parents, we have to be the adult and be strong, calm and patient. We have to model the behavior and self-regulation skills we’d like to see in them. So keep your cool, remember to breathe and if you need to vent to your spouse or have an emotional moment, have that in private.

At the moment your child is feeling teenage anxiety and panic attacks, that is the very moment your child needs you to be strong and calm so you can help them be stronger and calmer.


Life automatically puts a ton of pressure on kids these days compared to when I was a teen.

We didn’t have STAAR tests, cyber-bullying or many of the other stressors that kids face today. So the one thing we don’t want to do is make our kids feel pressured to “get over it”.

Let your child express their feelings. Listen. Let them know that these things will pass, but be patient with them and let them know you love them unconditionally.


Breathe is the cornerstone of life.

That sounds simplistic, but if you look at some of the oldest health practices, whether it be yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong or martial arts, you’ll see they all focus heavily on the breath and using the breath to regulate the body’s nervous system, energy levels and response to stress.

Personally, as a martial artist, I like to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth about 3 seconds in and 5 seconds out. But any focus on the breathing will help. Check out some additional breathing tips to reduce stress from Dr. Andrew Weil.


As with almost any issue in life, there is an underlying root problem.

So to really get over teenage anxiety and panic attacks we have to understand what is really causing them. It could be:

  1. Divorce
  2. Death of a loved one
  3. Moving to a new city (and leaving behind everything they knew)
  4. Undiagnosed dyslexia or other neurological issues

Once you understand the real underlying root issue, then and only then, can really start to address the real problem.

If you or your teen struggle with how to Let Go of the Past, I highly recommend you take a moment and check out my most shared post on Twitter about moving forward after trauma.


Technology is great. Without it, you wouldn’t be reading my blog.

But too much tech time affects sleep patterns, worsens ADHD and can stunt emotional growth.

But don’t take my word for that. Dr. Scott Becker is the Director of the Michigan State University Counseling Center. In studying it for 18 years, he finds a direct correlation between the over-use of technology and anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and more.

Learn more about How Technology Affects the Brain Negatively in one of my most shared posts from earlier this year.


Above, I mentioned things like divorce, moving and the death of a loved one as possible root issues.

Unfortunately, what I sometimes see (I work with hundreds of kids in my day job and my wife is a teacher) are parents wanting to do everything BUT acknowledge the real issue.

They’ll pay for doctor and therapists, medication and much more. But they gloss over the fact that they just went through a nasty divorce or the impact of having just moved cross-country or other potentially traumatic events that can have a significant impact on our kids.

So don’t feel guilty if these things happened in your family. I’ve been divorced too and have moved my kids to different cities a few times.

But acknowledge it, talk about it and understand that these things will negatively affect our kids.

We can’t always stop them from happening but we are in complete control of how we deal with it.


A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that nearly 2/3 of adolescents did not get the recommended 10 hours of sleep per night.

On average they found teens got closer to 7 hours. Lack of sufficient rest impacts grades, increases risk of depression, increases the likelihood of risky behaviors like drug/alcohol and cigarette use, and our overall ability to regulate our emotions.

Learn more about the Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Students.


Almost all of us need professional help at one point in our lives or another.

There’s no shame in admitting we need it or asking for it. There is shame in needing it and allowing ego and pride to prevent us from seeking it out.

A great psychotherapist can help you and your kids cope with the challenges and stresses that are leading to teenage anxiety and panic attacks.


Everyone needs a support network.

Let’s face it. Sometimes our kids don’t want to confide in us. That’s increasingly true as they get older. While we can nurture our relationship with our kids, we should also encourage them to talk to their peers. After all, no one quite understands the challenges facing teens today like another teenager.

In this day and age of social media, you can also put technology to good use and seek out Facebook support groups. Check out a list of many of the Facebook groups that come up, but check them out before you or your teen join in.


While we don’t want to put pressure on our kids when facing teenage anxiety and panic attacks, you can gently encourage them to deal with them.

My oldest daughter recently went to the beach. The last time she was at the beach (over a year ago), a big wave knocked her down and really scared her. As we got to the beach this time, she said she hated the beach and didn’t want to get in the water. I didn’t force her but simply asked if she wanted to get in the water with me. I assured her I’d stay by her side and we wouldn’t go too deep.

Slowly we went further out and slowly I got a little further away from her. We had a blast and 2 hours later she was out there with her sister and a family friend without me.


It’s important as parents that we know what to look for.

Teenage anxiety and panic attacks don’t happen completely out of the blue. Educate yourself and your teen. Watch YouTube videos together. Learn about symptoms and warning signs. Most importantly learn about coping mechanisms and what to when attacks are happening.


Sunshine and fresh air are natural cure-alls for the blues.

The sun naturally provides us with Vitamin D. A recent study by the National Institutes of Health concluded that Vitamin D could be a “solution for many who are at risk for depression and possibly other mental disorders.”

So take your kid for a hike or ride bikes through the neighborhood. Go camping or just walk through downtown. The sun will do them good and the time with you is priceless.


The world today conspires to keep families apart.

People work longer hours, commutes are worse and technology often disconnects us while pretending to connect us. So when possible, spend time as a family. Eat dinners together at the dinner table. Put the phones away and talk about your day.

The family unit is important and the support and connection our kids find at home should be greater than they find anywhere else.


Just like with breathing, you and your child can actively practice relaxation techniques.

Take a yoga class together or practice at home with YouTube videos. Meditation is also a fantastic practice for both parents and kids. It doesn’t have to be an hour sitting in silence either. Even just 5 or 10 minutes a few times a week can help reduce anxiety and bring focus, presence and connectedness.

Learn more about How Mindful Meditation Can Improve Your Parenting Style in one of my recent posts on Lifehack.


My oldest daughter was recently diagnosed with SVT.

Essentially it’s an easily treatable heart condition noted by very rapid heartbeat. The research is still a little unclear but my daughter herself has noticed that the incidents have been triggered by anxiety and stress. With the help of our cardiologist, we got some specific tips on what to do when the attacks occur.

On the recent beach visit I mentioned above, she had one of those incidents. Because we had a plan, the event lasted less than a minute. Before we had a plan, her events sometimes lasted as long as an hour and a half.

So having a plan to help manage your child’s teenage anxiety and panic attacks is crucial.

Final Thoughts

In this post we looked at the most common questions parents of anxious teens are desperately searching for answers on.

We explored the differences between anxiety, stress, panic attacks and other emotional challenges facing teens today. Lastly, we looked at the 15 best tips for managing or eliminating teenage anxiety and panic attacks so your household can get back on track and be more harmonious.

My house now has peace, quiet and open and loving communication and yours can too.

If you have daughters, I also highly recommend this book from Amazon that we recently ordered: The Confidence Code for Girls: Taking Risks, Messing Up, and Becoming Your Amazingly Imperfect, Totally Powerful Self.

It’s  New York Times Best Seller, is 4.5 stars on Amazon and while it deals more with building confidence than teenage anxiety and panic attacks, there are a lot of ways these issues cross over. Help your daughters become “bold, brave, and fearless”.

Any tips, suggestions or questions on how help manage these issues in your house with your kids?
If you like this post, please follow my Parenting board on Pinterest for more great tips from myself and top parenting experts!

Middle Class Dad is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases if you click to Amazon from my site and choose to make a purchase. This is no way increases the cost to you.

Of course, I have to add that I am not a doctor, therapist or mental health professional. As with all most posts, I offer my opinions based on my own research and experiences. If you need professional help, you should seek out professional help in your area.

7 Best Tips on How to Reduce Cholesterol Levels Naturally

how to reduce cholesterol levels naturally colorful vegetables on display middle class dad

Having spent over 2 decades as a leader in Whole Foods Market, I slowly became and expert not only on food, but overall wellness and natural remedies as well. This post is also my personal journey in lowering my cholesterol

Looking for tips on how to reduce cholesterol levels quickly?

I think you’ll agree with me that there’s nothing scarier than a bad medical diagnosis.

High cholesterol means we are at an elevated risk for heart disease, heart attack or stroke. Even if you are young and in reasonable health, this diagnosis can sneak up on us.

But it’s not all bleak.

We aren’t doomed to a life of oatmeal and medication. You can still enjoy many of the foods you love. While you should always follow the advice of your doctor, I believe you can find ways to effectively manage cholesterol levels without drugs.

In this post, we’re looking at some sobering high cholesterol causes and statistics.

But more importantly, we’re reviewing some key steps and tips on how to reduce cholesterol levels naturally. Tips that won’t leave you feeling lost and deprived and can help you effectively manage your health.

The worst risk factors for high cholesterol

According to the Mayo Clinic some of the factors within our control that can cause high cholesterol are inactivity, obesity, and an unhealthy diet.

Risk factors include:

  • Poor diet (high in saturated/trans fat)
  • Obesity
  • Large waist circumference (over 40 for men)
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes

Of course, those risk factors can also lead to things like hypertension, the silent killer, which is a fancy word for high blood pressure.

According to the CDC, the recommended numbers are as follows:

Desirable Cholesterol Levels2
Total cholesterol Less than 200 mg/dL
LDL (“bad” cholesterol) Less than 100 mg/dL
HDL (“good” cholesterol) 60 mg/dL or higher
Triglycerides Less than 150 mg/dL

How I’ve tried to reduce my cholesterol level naturally

I train in martial arts at least 3 times a week for roughly an hour each time.

Also, I have never really been a smoker and my waist is a 34, and my weight about 195. I don’t eat trans fats at all and rarely eat things like burgers & fries and keep the sweets to a minimum.

I even juice things like beets, carrots, and greens 2-3 times per week.

And yet here I was, being told I need special tests to look for signs of heart disease.

To be specific, I was sent for a CT scan to check for potential blockages.

If you have kids, get them set up for success in the future with my Healthy Eating Habits For Children. Starting early and preventing those bad habits is far better than trying to fix the problem later!

What food should be avoided for high cholesterol?

how to reduce cholesterol levels naturally middle class dad delicious burger and fries

WebMD has a page about high cholesterol and how to reduce cholesterol levels quickly.

Their list of foods to avoid include:

  • Starchy Foods (things like pasta, potatoes, corn and peas)
  • Baked Beans with sugar and pork 
  • Too Much Fruit 
  • Alcohol 
  • Canned Fish in oil (high quality tuna in water is OK)
  • Coconut
  • Sugary Drinks
  • Honey/Maple Syrup
  • Fats (high fat meats, trans fats, butter)

And before you run to the pharmacy, according to the Mayo Clinic “medications that specifically increase HDL have failed to reduce the rate of heart attacks.”

So medications may not provide the all the answers we are looking for.

They go on to list the side effects of statins (the most prescribed drug for high cholesterol) as:

  • Muscle pain and damage
  • Liver damage
  • Increased blood sugar or type 2 diabetes
  • Neurological side effects

Older people and women are the most susceptible to side effects.

Thus you should use caution and consult your doctor before deciding that statins are the best treatment for you.

It also is clear to me that there can be greater benefit in learning how to reduce cholesterol levels naturally.

I’ve blogged before about my feelings of America being Overmedicated. Check that out to see my take on why we’re overmedicated and how it impacts our society.

how to reduce cholesterol levels naturally middle class dad guy doing a cartwheel on the beach

Alcohol and its impact on cholesterol

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Moderate use of alcohol has been linked with higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.” So drinking in moderation could be a good thing apparently.

But how much alcohol is too much?

The CDC claims that “moderate” drinking is 1 drink a day for women and 2 a day for men (presumably due to higher body weight).

Heavy drinking then increases 5 drinks a day for men and 4 per day for women.

In a recent study by the National Institutes of Health, they found that compared to non-drinkers, occasional heavy drinkers have unusually high levels of triglycerides and low levels of (the good) HDL cholesterol.

They also found that heavy drinkers have significantly higher levels of (the bad) LDL cholesterol.

Thus moderate drinking or not drinking clearly can help with how to reduce cholesterol levels naturally.

What are the best foods to reduce cholesterol naturally?

According to Harvard, some of the best foods you can eat to reduce your cholesterol levels quickly and naturally are:

  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Eggplant and okra

Ironically their list also includes a couple of things on the above list of no-nos, such as fruits, fish, and oils.

But the one thing we can be certain of with experts is that the “correct” method changes periodically.

Dr. Andrew Weill also has a list of how to reduce cholesterol levels naturally through dietary changes. Those include:

  • Fresh garlic
  • Green tea
  • The supplement Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

Interested in the #1 rated CoQ10 on Amazon Prime?

Purely Holistic’s High Absorption Coenzyme Q10 has over 1200 reviews and rates 5 stars.

An 8 month supply is less than $30 and they offer a 100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE. No plan for how to reduce cholesterol levels quickly and naturally would be complete without seeing if CoQ10 works for you!

What have you got to lose (other than maybe cholesterol?)

So what are my . . .

7 Best Tips on How to Reduce Cholesterol Levels Naturally?

1. Cut back on red meat

Save the red meat for special occasions.

While the protein can be beneficial, you don’t need all the saturated fat.

You also don’t need all the antibiotics and chemicals that often get put into a lot of commercial meat products.

So sadly, learning how to reduce cholesterol levels naturally and quickly has to include less red meat.

2. Eliminate butter

Certainly better than the trans fat in traditional margarine, but ultimately very high in fat without some of the benefits found in a good quality extra virgin olive oil.

Coconut oil has been very trendy for a decade, but use caution with that too, as it contains a high level of saturated fat and may not help us learn how to reduce cholesterol levels naturally.

3. Use more olive oil

It goes without saying that I only recommend extra virgin olive oil, but even there, there’s a lot of bogus EVOO on the market.

I won’t go into it here, but check out what 60 Minutes has to say about it in their story on Don’t fall victim to olive oil fraud. When buying it, avoid the most common grocery store names.

Often when you deal such mass quantities, even with the best intentions, it can be very hard to control quality.

Get a 2 pack of Zoe Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 25.5 FL. OZ. tins for less than $25 bucks on Amazon Prime! 4.5 stars from hundreds of people from specific types of olives from Spain.

4. Add CoQ10 to my supplement regimen

I mentioned it above, but Co-enzyme Q10 is the #1 supplement Dr. Andrew Weill recommends for managing healthy cholesterol levels. A study by the American College of Cardiology found that “Long-term CoQ10 treatment reduces major adverse cardiovascular events.”

5. Lose weight

Weight is mostly a matter of calories in and calories burned.

Thus to lose weight, we need to consume fewer calories and/or burn more.  To go deeper into this topic, check out another post on my site about how to Lose That “Dad Bod” in 5 Easy Steps.

But exercise and healthy movement will definitely be one of the best ways of how to reduce cholesterol levels naturally.

6. Cutting back on pasta, bread & potatoes

Basically, we’re talking about limiting empty starches.

Can’t go completely without? At least eat whole grain pasta and bread then.

A recent study by Johns Hopkins University looked at three diets that were based on either protein, monounsaturated fat or carbohydrates.

They found that the protein and monounsaturated fat diets were more effective in reducing the risk factors for heart disease than the high-carb diet.

So if you’re looking for tips on how to reduce cholesterol levels naturally, cutting out empty starches will definitely be one of the best things to try.

7. Adding more fish and fish oils to my diet

Going back to Dr. Andrew Weill, he finds that “fish oil contains an abundance of essential omega-3 fatty acids (omega-3s) that have been shown to lower triglyceride (blood fat) levels, minimize inflammation and clotting, and increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol.”

He goes on to say that “Research indicates that omega-3s may help reduce the risk and symptoms of a variety of disorders influenced by inflammation, including heart attack and stroke.”

Fish oil capsules are easy enough to add as is the occasional lunch of chunk white meat tuna packed in water.

As with olive oil, there are, however, a number of concerns with fish and it can get confusing; wild caught, farm raised, mercury concerns and sustainability concerns just to name a few.

You can dig in further if you wish by learning about Factory Fish Farming.

Want the highest rated fish oil capsule on Amazon Prime?

Check out Premium Fish Oil Omega 3 by Mav Nutrition.

It has 5 stars, over 1000 reviews and is a #1 best seller in the fish oil category on Amazon! If you’re looking for how to reduce cholesterol naturally using home remedies, fish oil is well worth considering!

The most important things you can do for your loved ones

  1. WE NEED TO KNOW OUR NUMBERS – Hiding our heads in the sand doesn’t make the problems go away
  2. OUR FAMILIES DEPEND ON US – If nothing else, we owe it to them to take care of ourselves
  3. GET A PHYSICAL AT LEAST ONCE EVERY 2 YEARS – Ideally once a year. As with any serious disease, catching it early can save your life
  4. TAKE ACTION – Acknowledging an issue is only half the battle. Next, develop the discipline to actually make changes.

According to the American Heart Association, “it takes 60 to 90 days to create a new habit”.

Getting through those 2 to 3 months will take drive, willpower, and tenacity.

Whether you need to quit smoking, exercise more or eat better (or anything else), you need to, as Stephen Covey says, in his great book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People . . .

“Begin with the End in Mind”!

In other words, know where you want to be in 6 months or a year (and 5 and 10!).

Have a specific goal for yourself that is realistic and specific and set a time frame of how long it will take to get there.

BE DETAILED & KEEP IT SIMPLE! No one ever achieved their goals when they were vague, complicated or unrealistic.

Whether you’re reading this around New Year’s or not, I highly recommend following the steps I outline in my post on Keeping New Year’s Resolutions. I walk you through some simple, actionable steps to set and KEEP realistic goals.

If I can learn how to reduce cholesterol levels naturally and be there for my family, so can you!

Let’s do it!

Did I cover everything you wanted to know about how to reduce cholesterol levels naturally?

In this post, we looked at one of the top concerns facing hundreds of thousands of people every day.

High cholesterol.

But more importantly, we looked at high cholesterol remedies and top tips on how to reduce your cholesterol levels naturally.

Are you struggling to learn how to reduce cholesterol level naturally? Have you tried herbal remedies for cholesterol or other home remedies?

Feel free to comment here or email me with any questions!

Middle Class Dad is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases if you click to Amazon from my site and choose to make a purchase. This is no way increases the cost to you.

Of course I have to add that I am not a doctor, health practitioner or nutritionist. I am offering my opinion based on my experiences and research. If you need medical advice you should seek that from a qualified professional.

9 Best Healthy Eating Habits For Children They Will Love

young girl eating a watermelon wearing a pink dress healthy eating habits for children Middle Class Dad

Do you struggle with healthy eating habits for children? 

How do we get our kids to eat healthier without a mutiny? Does healthier food cost more? If we occasionally let them eat whatever they want does that make us a bad parent?

It can be hard to get your kids to eat healthily!

I get it! Creating healthy eating habits for children can seem like a thankless job!

What about those kids who crave sweets?  Do your kids struggle with weight or self-image issues?  Perhaps peer pressure has suddenly turned your once healthy child into a soda-craving moody pre-teen?

If you are a parent you have, or likely will, battle all those questions at some point on the parenting trail.  Creating healthy eating habits for children that they won’t hate; things that don’t break the budget and can be found at your local supermarket can sometimes seem impossible.

But fear not, as someone who spent 25 years with the world’s largest natural foods grocery chain, I can tell you that you CAN achieve those goals!

In this post, we’re diving deep into the world of healthy food for kids.

We’ll look at the worst ingredients to avoid for your kid’s health. But I’ll also give you a list of my favorite items that are healthy that my kids also LOVE.

Specifically, we’re looking at healthy eating habits for children, and how to start them or improve them. That way you can rest easier knowing they are getting the proper nutrition they need without the battles at the dinner table.

Why are healthy eating habits for children important?

little Asian boy in chef's hat and apron eating a yellow bell pepper healthy eating habits for children Middle Class Dad bio

Healthy eating habits for children are SO important. After all, our kids are still growing.  Their bones, immune system, and brains are still developing.  What we put in their bodies in terms of food is the equivalent of putting gas in your car.  Put garbage into your car instead of high-quality gasoline and your car won’t run well, if at all.

Before we dive into what healthy eating habits for children you should be looking at, let’s dig into some statistics.  Don’t just take my word for it.

According to the CDC:

  1. Sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages account for 10% of kid’s caloric intake
  2. Added sugar and solid fats account for 40% of the caloric intake of kids up to age 18
  3. Since 1999, the number of kids who don’t eat vegetables (other than  French fries) has increased by 60%!
  4. 16% of kids under 18 in the United States are considered overweight or and almost 14% are obese
  5. Almost 15% of kids do less than 1 hour of physical activity per week

So you can clearly see we have a health crisis in our country with our kids.

What are some healthy eating habits?

In general, kids are eating more, eating less nutritiously and exercising less.  Compared to when I was a kid it’s a different world.  Back then, playing outside was the norm. Today we sit in front of screens (TV, tablets, laptops or gaming devices) and eat chips while moving as physically little as possible.

Of course how your kids spend their time and setting limits on technology are all great things for you to keep under your parenting hat.  But healthy eating habits for kids needs to be high on the list too.

What is a healthy balanced diet for kids?

In our house not only do we battle all of the above, but we also battle our kids coming home complaining about:

“why can’t I have Little Debbie cakes with lunch every day?” or
“why can’t I drink Coca-Cola every day at lunch?” 

The list goes on and on, but peer pressure and that feeling of not being cool compared to your friends is a huge part of the battle.

Luckily you are a great parent You understand you are here to mold, guide, inform, protect and parent your child; not just be their friend or the “cool” parent.

Focusing on healthy eating habits for children doesn’t mean any fun at all.  The key is a balanced diet that includes healthy fats, low sugars, fiber, lean protein and lots of veggies. And yes; the occasional special treat is just fine.

But eat 1 Little Debbie cupcake at school lunch each day?  According to Foodfacts.com . . .

In 1 year, assuming they only eat that Little Debbie while school is in session, and they will consume:

  1. 280 grams of fat (all of which is saturated)
  2. 4,200 grams of cholesterol
  3. 23,800 mg of sodium
  4. 3,080 grams of sugar (about 208 tablespoons)

I could go on and on, but you get the point.  And we’re talking 1 item that is a small part of your kid’s lunch; far from the entirety of what they will be eating!

Thus creating healthy eating habits for children that your kids will like is CRUCIAL!

How do you encourage your child to eat healthily?

The key to creating healthy eating habits for children is balance. You can’t go to one extreme or the other.

Do healthy eating habits for kids mean no treats ever? Absolutely not!

Don’t completely deprive your child of anything within reason. They will be more apt to binge when they can, as well as hide it from you or lie about it.  The trick is to know the difference between a special treat on special occasions and just filling our kids with unhealthy empty calories.

In my house we love Halloween.  We always trick or treat.  When we come home with overflowing baskets of candy do I make my kids throw it out?  NO!  But I also don’t let them sit there on the couch for an hour eating as much as they want.

They get a reasonable amount and then we put it away and dole it out in small doses.  Our daughters may not love it now, but when they are 30 and not overweight or on diabetes medication they will thank us. Thus healthy eating habits for children can include the occasional indulgence.

If I made them throw their Halloween candy out, they’d be more apt to hide it when we aren’t looking, only to binge on it later when they think they can get away with it.  Keep your kids safe from harm, but that doesn’t mean extinguishing all the fun of being a kid.

Parenting styles and healthy eating habits for kids 

Eating healthy, exercising and living well doesn’t have to be at odds with having fun, living it up or treating ourselves.  We just have to be sensible about it.  We have to remember that we are the parents and that other parents may parent differently.  That should not prevent us from parenting how we want to and doing what’s right for our kids.

If you struggle with trying to figure out what’s best for your kids, it’s crucial that we identify our parenting style.  Then, and only then, can we begin to navigate around the 3 Worst Parenting Styles You Should Avoid at All Costs.  If you haven’t previously read my post on that, I highly recommend you take a moment and check it out before continuing on here.

What are the best healthy eating habits for kids on a budget?

Eating healthy is something you can do on almost any budget!  Molding healthy eating habits for children doesn’t have to break the bank.  You just have to be sensible, shop carefully and read those labels!

In our house, we have a weekly budget for the 4 of us at $140.  I do most of the shopping and a shop at the best store near our house which is a fairly mainstream grocery chain.

I get lots of healthy options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; organics, non-GMO, fresh produce and no items containing the worst offenders I list below.  If times were really tight and we cut out some of the frills, I know we could cut our grocery budget by almost half.  In fact going back only 6 or so years ago when my wife did more of the shopping, that was our weekly budget.

Of course, there’s no substitute for fresh food right off the farm, but you do have considerations regarding organic vs. non-organic.  In our house, it’s pretty simple.  If an organic item is within 20% of the conventional item, we buy organic.  If it’s not, chances are we’ll move on to another item.

Check out this great video if you’re confused by organics or unsure what are the best items to buy organically.  She also goes over what non-organic produce you’re safe buying and eating!

My top tips for healthy eating habits for children?

  1. Seek out your grocer’s private label items.  Chances are they have an organic line that is both healthy and rock bottom in price.  We buy private label organic beans, sauces, tomatoes, chips, crackers and much more!
  2. Look for well known national brands that you can count on for both great flavor and good ingredients.  I like Annies Homegrown & Cascadian Farms, among many others.  While it is true that many of the natural foods brands I grew up with in my former career are now owned by large food conglomerates, I still feel like companies should be judged on the basis of their food and ingredients and not investors and parent companies.
  3. Look for foods that bear the Non-GMO Project label.  I could write a whole other blog post on GMO’s but that’s not the focus of my blog and this post is about healthy eating habits for children.  Suffice to say, I’m not a fan of genetically modified foods and good chunks of the world outside the US agree with me on that.  Consumer Reports takes a nice impartial look at the controversy and it’s worth taking a look.

Check out my list at the bottom of the post for more specific items that are great for kids and kind to your grocery budget!

What are the worst foods for our kids we should limit or avoid?

For me, it doesn’t come down to items or brands as much as ingredients.  If you shop at a Whole Foods or Trader Joes you’ll likely be in fairly good shape. But if not, it’s crucial to read and understand ingredient labels.

I’m not taking esoteric things as much as basics.  Want to instill healthy eating habits for children? Start by strictly avoiding what I believe are the worst things put into food:

  1. Artificial sweeteners

    • According to the National Institutes of Health, a recent study shows that consumption of artificial sweeteners (such as NutraSweet found in Diet Coke among many other things) “was associated with escalating abdominal obesity, a potential pathway for cardiometabolic risk “.
    • Harvard University went on to find that those who “drank artificially sweetened drinks had a 47% higher increase in BMI (body mass index) than those who did not”
  2. Hydrogenated oils

    • Hydrogenated oils, sometimes called partially hydrogenated or trans fats are, according to the Mayo Clinic, “the worst type of fat you can eat”.  This type of fat is used both because it’s cheap and also because of its long shelf life.
    • The Mayo Clinic goes on to say: “A diet laden with trans fat increases your risk of heart disease, the leading killer of men and women.”
  3. High fructose corn syrup

    • Princeton University recently conducted a study on high-fructose corn syrup and found conclusive evidence that “In addition to causing significant weight gain . . . , long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, . . . and a rise in . . . triglycerides” (a key part of your cholesterol measurements).
    • Since the introduction of HFCS to the American diet in the 1970s, obesity rates have gone from about 15% to over 33%! While trans fats wouldn’t be the only cause in that huge increase, it no doubt plays a large role given how prevalent this cheap sweetener is in our food supply.
  4. Artificial colors

    • At one time, our country had over 80 approved artificial colors.  Today, thanks to legislation and careful study that dates back to 1908, only 7 colors remain classified as what the FDA calls “generally regarded as safe”.  Many of the ones that have been banned in recent decades showed a clear correlation to causing cancer.  A number of the colors still allowed in the US are banned in many European countries.
    • England’s University of Southampton conducted an extensive study on the correlation between the consumption of artificial colors (such as what you regularly find in mac n’ cheese, breakfast cereals, MnM’s or snacks like Cheetos) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  They found conclusively that consumption of artificial colors led to “a significant increase in ADHD-type behavior, including impulsive behavior and loss of concentration”.  They went on to find that those who “suffer from ADHD . . . could be reduced by 30 percent if additives were banned.”
    • I wrote an earlier piece that addressed ADD & ADHD and how physical play and limits on technology could actually improve symptoms.  Combined with watching what our kids eat there’s not a doubt in my mind that we could definitely significantly impact the occurrence of this epidemic.  Check that piece out if you haven’t already at 7 Best Ways of Treating ADHD Naturally for Your Kids.

If you want to know some of the worst store-bought food items out there, check out this list courtesy of NBC called the 20 Worst Kid’s Foods in America.

On that list, for instance, you’ll see that 1 cup of Captain Crunch cereal has a whopping 16 grams of sugar.  Auntie Anne’s Pepperoni Pretzel Pocket comes loaded with a staggering 1,120 mg of sodium.

Even worse?  Ruby Tuesday Kids Turkey Minis & Fries contains an amazing 46 grams of fat and almost 900 calories.  That’s a huge amount for an adult, but this is actually geared towards kids!

So what are my . . .

9 Best Healthy Eating Habits For Children They Will Love?

baby in a yellow hat and stuffed animal healthy eating habits for children Middle Class Dad bio


A quick, easy snack.  Stick them in the freeze when you buy them.

Then when getting kid’s lunches ready in the morning, just put them in the lunchboxes.  They’ll be nice and thawed by lunchtime.  Even if they’re not, what kid doesn’t love frozen yogurt?

Made from organic milk that has no added growth hormones unlike much of the dairy products out there.


PBnJ is a staple for most kids.

You know what are staple ingredients in most peanut butter and jelly?  Hydrogenated oils, sugar, salt and maybe even some artificial color in the jelly.  The average store-bought peanut butter and jelly see peanuts and fruit way down on the ingredient list.  You know what makes good peanut butter?  PEANUTS!  You know what makes good jam or jelly?  Fruit!

Look for peanut butter with no added sugar or oil minimally.

Look for jelly that has no corn syrup, sugar, oil or food coloring.  Fruit is plenty sweet enough and should have plenty of color all on its own.  These can be tough to find amidst a sea of junk.

I like to grind my own peanut butter which more and more stores offer.  This way all you get is peanuts and maybe some salt!  For jelly, even some of the organic ones put a lot of sugar in, so I like the Polaner All fruit spreadables which are also non-GMO.

Just make sure to avoid their ones sweetened with Splenda.


OK, we ate Annie’s Mac n Cheese for years.

We also avoided Kraft like the plague since it was a lot of yellow food coloring.  But these days you can find good ‘ole Kraft with organic pasta, no artificial ingredients and no-growth hormone cheese for a lot less than Annie’s.

I’ll always love Annie’s (owned by General Mills these days) but this is the one in our pantry.


There’s no substitute for fresh off the farm fruits and veggies.

But for many of us working Middle Class Dads and Moms, that’s just not the reality we live in.  According to WebMD, frozen veggies have the same or superior nutritional content to their fresh counterparts.  And they are cheap & store easily for long periods of time.  They also make it incredibly easy to add veggies to any meal.

Most grocers have organic private label frozen veggies making a good deal even better.


In our house, we don’t put juice boxes in with lunches; it’s just a lot of sugar even if it is all derived from fruit.

But it is better than soda, so whether for lunches, birthday parties or other special occasions, seek out juice boxes that are made from organic fruits that have no sugar added.  Most often these will say 100% juice, but ones like Honest Kids do water them down a bit without added any fillers or sweeteners.

The net result is it actually reduces the amount of sugar per serving which is a good thing!


It’s not organic and I wish it was. But for a quick snack that won’t break the bank that is still fairly healthy, these fit the bill.  Packed in water (or 100% juice) and made from non-GMO fruits, these work for any budget.


OK, so I know if I keep touting brands like this one (owned by Kellogg’s) the purists out there will be up in arms.

But as I’ve said.  I’m here to help you find healthy, affordable foods your kids will eat.  The food soapbox is best left to others.  I like Kashi bars as they are affordable and all are non-GMO and they have a savory line with very low sugar.

8. ORGANIC WHOLE GRAIN BREAD (made without azodicarbonamide)

Sandwiches are a staple item in kid’s lunchboxes across the globe.  Unfortunately, you know what else is a staple in the bread that gets used?  A laundry list of ugly ingredients like bleached flour, high fructose corn syrup and the dreaded azodicarbonamide, a key component in yoga mats (Mmmm . . . delicious!)

Ideally look for organic bread as it will skip all that junk.  Minimally look for ones avoiding the big three I name above: bleached flour, high fructose corn syrup, and azodicarbonamide.


Personally, I don’t drink milk and haven’t in decades.

But my kids and wife like milk in their cereal.  Thus we only buy organic milk.  Milk that’s organic will be, by definition, free of any added growth hormones.

In our house, we like to completely avoid foods with added growth hormones (most common in milk products and chicken).  According to renowned health expert Dr. Andrew Weill, added growth hormones “can increase the risk of breast cancer and other reproductive system cancers among women and may promote development of prostate cancer in men.”

For my coffee and any baking I do, I prefer Silk non-GMO unsweetened almond or coconut milk.  They taste great, are inexpensive and in my mind a much healthier alternative.

Notice I’m not going uber-militant here. 

I’m not speaking in absolutes (they must eat vegan or they must only eat organic).  I’m trying to be realistic and budget friendly.  I also want you to buy things that your kids will actually eat without putting up a fight.

If you want to go stricter, all organic or vegan, go for it.

But for me and my family, these things are healthy staples that beat the pants off a lot of what I see in the school cafeteria at lunchtime.  And they work for our budget and my kids love them.

And most importantly, they are healthy eating habits for children I know my kids love and will stick to even into adulthood.

There are also experts out there more knowledgeable than me. If you want to really dive deep, check out my friend Nina’s site over at GoodFoodFighter! Nina has a wealth of knowledge and is a food force to be reckoned with!

Final Thoughts

In this post, we took an in-depth look into the world of food, good health, eating habits and how those things affect our kids.

I spent over 20 years in leadership positions with Whole Foods Market, so I know a thing or 2 about healthy eating. With 3 daughters, I also know a few things about healthy food for kids and some of the challenges that come up.

Specifically, today, we looked at healthy eating habits for children and some specific product recommendations. That way you can rest easier knowing your kids are eating healthier BUT without the struggles and push back at the dinner table.

What is your biggest healthy food for kids challenge?

If you like this post, please follow my Parenting board on Pinterest for more great tips from myself and top parenting experts!

Middle Class Dad is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases if you click to Amazon from my site and choose to make a purchase. This is no way increases the cost to you.


9 Amazing Ways of Boosting Self-Esteem to Better Your Life

guy holding a picture of himself up in a collage boosting self-esteem Middle Class Dad

guy holding a picture of himself up in a collage boosting self-esteem Middle Class Dad

What is self-esteem and why is boosting self-esteem important?

Are you wondering with how boosting self-esteem might improve your life?

Perhaps you already know you have low self-esteem and have already seen the damaging effects in your life from it? Or maybe you feel good about yourself but are wondering how you could boost self-confidence?

Self-esteem simply means “a confidence and satisfaction in oneself” according to Merriam-Webster.

Essentially it’s how you feel about yourself, inside and out.

All of us engage in various types of behavior patterns.  They start as individual actions, but as certain things get repeated and reinforced, they become ingrained in us.

Many of these habits are beneficial and healthy. But others may be destructive and detrimental to our self-esteem and long-term mental health.

Now if you are a parent and you’re talking about your child’s self-esteem, that can be totally different. I have a whole post about Self-Esteem Exercises for Kids. So take a moment and check out that post where I walk you through the specific steps to take.

What are the symptoms of low self-esteem?

For some of us, low self-esteem takes its toll on our physical appearance. Things like:

  1. Our weight
  2. Aging prematurely (due to stress or bad habits that come from the low self-esteem)
  3. How an illness or injury affects us

For others, it could be purely mental challenges. In truth, we all have judgments we feel about ourselves. And even the happiest of persons may occasionally feel low self-esteem or even depression.

So finding ways to boost self-confidence and of boosting self-esteem are crucial!

Those mental symptoms might include:

  1. Feeling worthless or hopeless
  2. Thinking no one likes you
  3. Feeling negative emotions strongly like blame or guilt
  4. Thinking you don’t deserve happiness

If you are finding that you already have some of these Destructive Behavior Patterns, I highly recommend taking a moment to check out one of my most shared posts on how those can rob us of a successful future.

How do I boost self-confidence?

The good news is that by reading this post that means you’ve identified the issue.  In almost any case, whether it be an addiction or problem, identifying the root issue is half the battle.

So just by recognizing the need for boosting self-esteem, you are well on your way of improving it.

The next step in the healing process is to identify the “why” behind our low self-esteem.  For many, it could be emotional or physical abuse from a current or past relationship. It could also be rooted in our childhood.

I don’t want you to dwell on the cause. After all, NOTHING in the world can change the past.

Stanley McChrystal quote boosting self-esteem Middle Class Dad

I also don’t want you to focus negative energy on the people involved in those past wounds.

Confront them if you must. Remove them from your life if you need to, but negative energy creates more negative energy. Right now in looking at boosting self-esteem, you need to surround yourself with positive energy and influences.

Toxic People can rob us of our happiness and take us down a negative spiral with them.

If you struggle with toxic people in your life, I strongly suggest you take a moment and check out my very popular post on how you can get the balance you so desperately need with these people.

How do you build someone’s confidence?

In short, just like with happiness, you can’t boost self-confidence in others.  I can’t make another happy, nor can I make them confident.

That being said, there are a lot of destructive behavior patterns that can erode self-confidence in our loved ones.  Thus, avoiding those things is crucial for a healthy relationship.

Those of us in a romantic relationship know just how easy it is to damage our partner.

Our partner is often the one we are closest to and the one with whom we are most vulnerable. Ironically they are also the person who we tend to put the least amount of effort into with our communication.

All it takes is an off-hand comment about appearance or effort around the house to start a downward trend.  If those comments turn more critical or contemptuous they can easily start a very damaging back and forth communication.

This is the point where instead of boosting self-esteem, we’re destroying it.

If that sounds familiar just know that according to world-renowned marriage expert Dr. John Gottman, there are 4 behaviors that predict divorce with a scary degree of accuracy.

Dr. Gottman calls them the 4 Horsemen. If criticism, contempt, stonewalling or defensiveness are a regular part of your relationship, you must take a moment and check out one of my most popular relationship posts while there’s still time to turn your relationship around!

How does your self-esteem affect you?

person with arms outstretched on a beach at sunset boosting self-esteem Middle Class Dad

Self-esteem and overall feelings of self-worth are incredibly important!

The feelings that come from boosting self-esteem can affect all aspects of our lives.

You’ll likely see positive changes in:

  1. Relationships
  2. Work
  3. Parenting
  4. Health
  5. Longevity

As we boost self-confidence, we will naturally attract healthier people.

Confidence, as evidenced when boosting self-esteem, is attractive to healthy people.  When we’re depressed or feel despair, that can make us attractive to unhealthy people.

Thus it’s not unusual for individuals struggling with self-esteem to end up in unhealthy relationships and find themselves with self-destructive habits.

The US National Library of Medicine conducted a study that looked at the effects of low self-esteem and found that “that those who are involved in addiction, theft, and prostitution have a lower self-esteem compared with the ordinary person.”

So boosting self-esteem is vitally important for our overall physical, mental and emotional health and well-being. If you need additional help, online therapy is quickly becoming a great way to get the help you need quickly and easily. Check out BetterHelp to learn more.

So what are my . . . 

9 Amazing Ways of Boosting Self-Esteem?

1. Practice Mindfulness

  • Focus on being present to yourself, relationships and tasks
  • Be kind to yourself when you make a mistake
  • Acknowledge your successes!
  • Focus on looking at yourself and others without judgment
  • Embrace mono-tasking by focusing on one task at a time

2. Avoid Comparisons

  • There is only 1 you and only 1 of all the other people on the planet
  • There is nothing wrong with goal setting or taking on new challenges
  • But do not focus on comparing yourself to anyone else

3. Baby Steps on things you can change

  • Any challenge we undertake can potentially be overwhelming
  • Thus we need to first identify a goal we want to get to
  • Then we need to break down the individual steps involved to get there
  • Make those individual steps small, achievable baby steps

4. Exercise

  • Our body has an uncanny ability to heal itself, mentally, physically and emotionally
  • The primary things our body needs to conduct that healing are proper nutrition, plenty of clean water, breath and movement.
  • A study by the University of Bristol was conducted by Dr. Kenneth R Fox
  • He found that the “results indicate that in order to achieve high levels of psychological well-being, individuals should engage in physical activity on a regular basis, at least four times a week.”

5. Spend time outdoors

  • Another study was conducted by the National Institutes of Health
  • The study looked at “the synergistic combination of exercise and exposure to nature”
  • They found that “All types of green exercise activities also improve self-esteem and negative mood subscales, such as tension, anger and depression”

6. Get plenty of sleep

  • Yet another recent study was conducted by the US National Library of Medicine
  • The study looked at the effects of sleep on optimism and self-esteem
  • They found that “Good and sufficient sleep is associated with positive personality characteristics” such as boosting self-esteem

7. Help or give to others

  • Mahatma Gandhi once said that “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
  • It might seem counter-productive to give to others when you feel down, depressed or low in self-esteem, but the facts say otherwise
  • According to the Do Good. Live Well Survey conducted by United Healthcare, they found that those who volunteer their time in the service of others had:
    • Healthier Body Mass Index
    • 31% less likely to be obese
    • 70% who volunteered noted improved physical health
    • 40% more likely to have a “very good” sense of purpose in life

If you struggle with low self-esteem, you owe it to your friends and family, but most importantly to yourself to find ways to boost self-confidence.

You may have ideas I haven’t thought of or you may find not all of these work for you. That’s OK! Keep pressing, keep working.

Don’t give up.  You’re worth it!

Do you struggle in boosting self-esteem?

In this article, we took a look at self-esteem and the challenges many kids and adults face with it every day.

But we also looked at some simple, actionable solutions for boosting self-esteem.  Having high feelings of self-worth and self-esteem are so crucial in life, especially when others are depending on us.

But ultimately, you deserve to be happy!

Have you found ways to boost self-confidence? How can I help?

11 Ultimate Ways to Improve Your Life You Probably Didn’t Know

man on the top of a mountain with arms outstretched with a cloudy sky and sun peaking through behind him Middle Class Dad Improve Your Life

Do you want to improve your life before you die?

You want to improve your life before you die.

To leave this world and your loved ones in a better place. To enjoy the ride more and maybe even extend the ride.

But what do you want to accomplish in life?  What are your goals and dreams?  Maybe you have New Year’s Resolutions you’ve yet to hit or procrastinate on year after year?

Chances are some if not all of that resonates with you.

Of course, it goes without saying that kicking bad habits like smoking would be on the list. But what are the best ways to improve your life and live your dreams? In this post, we’re going to explore some surprisingly simple, yet powerful tips to improve your life.

What are your dreams for yourself and your family?

Before we just randomly set goals for ourselves let’s dream in color!  You see goals are a dry, often boring list of things on a piece of paper.  Sure we want to accomplish them. And they would make our life better.  But they aren’t exciting.  They don’t motivate us.

Thus many times we fail to achieve things we aren’t excited about.

But when we visualize our dreams we get emotional!  When we can see, feel and touch what our life would look like, THAT’S when we get fired up and start to make things happen.

That’s when you can improve your life.

So I want you to visualize your dreams.  Be specific.  Make it something you can measure.  If it seems too lofty or impossible, just break it down into a series of small steps.

Almost any goal or dream can be broken down into baby steps.  When we baby step, we don’t get paralyzed by fear of failure. We don’t procrastinate. Analysis paralysis can stop you cold.

But break down that seemingly impossible goal into 10 steps over a 1, 5 or even 10-year period and you can achieve almost anything!

What’s the one thing we all wish we could leave in the past and forget?

black and white picture of a toddler girl who looks sad Middle Class Dad Improve Your Life

We can’t talk about how to improve your life without addressing letting go of the past.

We all have baggage from the past. It affects us in the present and we don’t want it negatively impacting our future.

Whether it’s childhood trauma, neglect or abuse or something from adulthood, we all need to let go of that one thing that’s holding us back.

These things can damage our relationship with our spouse and kids.  It can hamper our careers and bring out bad habits.  We must acknowledge, heal and leave these things behind.

We’ll never forget these traumatic incidents, but we don’t have to be controlled by them.

How to move forward and heal the pains of the past

To heal emotionally from past damage we have to:

  1. Acknowledge the issue/incident
  2. Accept that it happened (accept does not necessarily mean we have to understand why)
  3. Own whatever role we played in it (not applicable if you suffered abuse as a child obviously)

A psychotherapist is a great way to help move through these stages, get some clarity in your thoughts.  They can also be a great way to let go of anger, pain, and disappointment without having to worry about being judged or about hurting other’s feelings.

How to get motivated to actually make changes

As I said above in talking about the difference between a dream and a goal, we get fired up to make changes when we get emotionally invested.

For me, I want to get to a place where I’m no longer trading my time for money.  A place where I work hard, but when, where and how I want to.  I want to spend more time with my wife and kids; even more so now that I have a 3rd child on the way.

Becoming a dad again motivates me! 

If I just said “make more money” on a list, that’s not very exciting.  But working on a laptop by a pool my kids are swimming in?  THAT motivates me!

Why do most people fail to get new habits to stick?

Just saying “I want to be a millionaire” is too vague and too lofty.  But visualizing yourself a millionaire in retirement, working when, where and how you want to on a laptop in Costa Rica starts to get specific!

Then you can start to baby step your way to that goal.

Let’s break down that goal to be a millionaire into baby steps.

If you’re 35, simply start to invest 15% of your income each month into a Roth IRA.  Even if you max out your $5,500/year contribution, if you’re married, your spouse can do the same.

Just that one decision will get you almost $870,000 if you retire at age 67.  If that’s not quite 15% of your income, just put the rest in a regular IRA and you should be well on your way to being a millionaire!  Calculated using a calculator courtesy of MoneyChimp.

Need help with your financial goals?  My most loved post is called 11 Proven Keys to Financial Success & Living Your Dreams! and it’s well worth taking a minute to check it out!

So what are my . . .

11 Ultimate Ways to Improve Your Life You Probably Didn’t Know?

black and white picture of a lightbulb Middle Class Dad Improve Your Life


We all have a past.  Things we’ve done to others.  Or bad things that have been done to us.  We can’t change the past. In fact, the ONLY thing you can change is yourself; your attitude, actions, and reactions.

Thus when we don’t allow ourselves to heal from past things then we allow the past to control our present and our future.  Want to improve your life?  We have to find a way to heal past trauma so it no longer controls us.

See my 11 Powerful Tips to Let Go of the Past & Move Forward if you need help here.


You know what happened to the guy with 20 things on his daily to-do list? He either didn’t accomplish most of them, got discouraged and didn’t even try or procrastinated and moved them to another day.


You need to be intentional with your day and time.  Set goals.  But be realistic.  You may well have 20 things you want to get done.  But prioritize them.  Decide what MUST get done today and what would be nice to get done.

Have only 1-3 goals for each day.  Make them specific, measurable and achievable.  It’s totally OK to have other lists for the week, month and year, but be narrowly focused on your daily tasks.


Don’t focus on what you don’t have.  Don’t focus on what the neighbors have.  Be grateful for what you have and appreciate that.  It’s totally OK to set goals for what you want to achieve, but don’t make the lack of those things be a negative.

Tony Robbins has a saying. “Trade your expectations for appreciation and your whole world changes in an instant”. In other words, when we stop focusing on what we don’t have or what others aren’t doing for us and simply appreciate all we’ve been given, we experience a mindset shift. We move from a glass half empty person to a glass half full person.

You’ll be amazed how much you can improve your life from this simple outlook switch!

Tony wants to help you grow too and offers a variety of resources to help supplement your growth plan on his free tools page here https://www.tonyrobbins.com/free-tools/.


I know that sounds simplistic, but breath is life. Breath is how we move energy throughout our body. Breathing masters like Wim Hof can withstand the bitter cold of climbing Mount Everest only wearing shorts or fight off deadly diseases with no medicine in part, because of breath training.

Proper breath control also is a great way to identify and release stress, tension, and areas in our bodies where we are holding on to past trauma. By bringing awareness to the breath we can begin to focus our breath to specific parts of the body as needed. You will find balance, less stress, a calmer demeanor and increased awareness of both your body and the world at large.


According to a recent study by the CDC, on average, men and women both tend to drink about a quart of plain water each day. While their total water intake was much higher than that, the vast majority was coming from other foods and liquids containing water.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Men should drink about 3 liters of plain water per day and women a little over 2 liters. Personally, I try and drink 1 gallon per day, starting first thing in the morning and ceasing a few hours before bedtime.

Want to improve your life? Drink a lot of plain water; ideally, spring water that doesn’t have minerals or fluoride added to it; you only want what nature put in it to begin with.

One of the best ways to consume water is having a high-quality water filter at home where you can have an endless supply of water, refilling your water bottle and not contributing to the overproduction of plastic water bottles.

The ZIP Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filter is one of the best units on the market. It not only purifies tap water, but it also removes up to 99% of not only chlorine, heavy metals and other contaminants but also fluoride as well, which most water filters don’t remove. It also alkalizes the water increasing the health benefits for your body.


I know there’s a certain irony in my saying that on a blog that you’re likely reading on a smartphone or desktop computer. We live in a tech-heavy world and there’s probably no coming back from that. BUT that doesn’t mean we have to be slaves to our devices.

Have set times throughout the day where you check email or Facebook.  Don’t just hold the phone in your hand constantly scanning those things. Be intentional about how, when and where you use technology, but don’t let it consume your day.

Think you might have a problem? Check out my 9 Signs of Cell Phone Addiction!


Physical exertion, fresh air, and sunlight all play KEY roles in our mental health, our physical body, overall wellness and our mood. Show me someone bitter & unhappy and I’ll show you someone who likely doesn’t exercise or get outside much.

A recent study from the National Institutes of Health found that “outdoor activities reduced symptoms (of ADHD) significantly”.  That ties in perfectly to my own post on how the outdoors and play are natural medication for children with ADHD.

Want to be more relaxed, less stressed, happier and well on your way to improve your life? Spend time outside regularly.


To quote Dr. Seuss, “There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Sure there may be others who are more fit, drive nicer cars or have better-paying jobs. But if you spend any amount of time feeling bad about yourself & feeling envy towards them all you’re doing is programming your mind to be unhappy.

Now don’t get me wrong. If you want a better car or job or want to lose weight, go for it! But don’t do it out of guilt, shame or because you want someone else to like you better. Do it for you!

Rachel Cruze, daughter of personal finance guru Dave Ramsey, has an excellent book on this subject called Love Your Life, Not Theirs. If you struggle with comparing yourself to others, I highly recommend that book!


Is there anything in this world that serves no purpose, takes up so much time and causes so much strife? I doubt it.  Maybe politics. We all have those friends who love to gossip by the water cooler at work. They are always seemingly in the know about who’s life crisis or actions at the company party were worse.

Let’s be honest. Almost all of us have participated in these conversations at one time or another. I don’t want you to be rude to anyone, but if you want to improve your life, distancing yourself from negativity, drama and gossip are crucial. Which brings me to my next point . . .


We can’t make anyone happy but ourselves. But sometimes we find friends, family members or loved ones who are broken, damaged or otherwise unhappy. It’s easy to feel empathy for them and not uncommon for us to want to “fix” them.

Often these relationships end up based not on mutual love and respect but on a co-dependent need; the fixer and the fixee. If the “negative” person isn’t actively seeking to better themselves and their situation, it can easily devolve into them bringing us down to their level rather than them rising up to meet us.

Want more on this? Check out my post on how Toxic People Sabotage Happiness


This ties in with my above comment about getting outside. But when we move, be it exercise, dance, yoga or sports, a number of great things happen.

According to the CDC, all of the following are direct benefits from us finding healthy ways of movement:

  1. Control weight
  2. Reduce the risk of disease
  3. Improve strength
  4. Improve mental health and mood
  5. Live longer

I don’t care if you hit the gym, but find healthy ways to move and do it often.  I practice martial arts about 3 times a week. For me, that resonates with who I am and want to be.

But even if it’s just a morning walk with your dogs or kids; it will improve your life.

Did we cover everything you wanted to know about how to improve your life?

In this post, we walked through some simple, yet actionable tips to really make a difference in your life. Tips you can put in place today for a better tomorrow. We only get one shot at this life, so we owe it to ourselves and our family to live life to the fullest. I know these tips will improve your life just as they have mine.

If you like this post, please consider sharing on Facebook, because if it helped you, it just might help someone else!

Middle Class Dad is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases if you click to Amazon from my site and choose to make a purchase. This is no way increases the cost to you.

19 Worst Ways the Traits of a Negative Toxic Person Hurt You

bottle of poison on a wooden table the traits of a negative toxic person Middle Class Dad

Negative people drain us of our time, energy, and positive attitude, and we all have them in our lives. So I wondered exactly what the traits of a toxic negative person are.

Toxic people are manipulative, negative, & judgemental. But they also see themselves as a victim and rarely take ownership and responsibility for their actions, choices & the state of their life. Even if you come to them needing support, they will always bring the conversation back to themselves and their problems.

But you and I don’t have to just accept that this is how it is! We can set boundaries in a clear and loving way, even if this person is a close family member or friend.

You can get the sanity back in your life.

So, in this post, we’re looking specifically at the worst ways the traits of a negative toxic person hurt us.

More importantly, though, we’re looking at solutions on how to deal with these people and set clear boundaries to minimize the negative effect they have on us.

bottle of poison on a wooden table the traits of a negative toxic person Middle Class Dad

What is a negative person?

You know who I’m talking about in your life.

Everyone has toxic people connected to them.  That friend, co-worker, loved one or family member who constantly takes more than they give.

They remind you of Eeyore (as in Winnie the Pooh).

Toxic people drain your energy.  You dread being around them (at least some of the time). But you keep them in your life hoping they will change or somehow get their act together. Or maybe they are family and you feel like you have no choice.

These toxic people may have some (or all) of the following attributes:

  1. They spread malicious gossip
  2. They are always in a crisis in their life
  3. Their glass is always half empty (as opposed to half full)
  4. They talk more than they listen
  5. You’re always there for them but they are rarely there for you
  6. They seem to be clueless as to how others perceive them
  7. Everything wrong in their life is always someone else’s fault

Toxic person traits sap our time, our energy.

No matter how much time we spend with them, nothing ever changes for the better.  The advice you give never gets heeded.  No solutions to their problems ever stick. In the end, the traits of a negative toxic person are seemingly stuck in a never-ending cycle.

It’s like the movie Groundhog Day.  Toxic people wake up tomorrow and start the cycle all over again.

Want to know the key differences between Successful People and Unsuccessful People?

I review those incredibly important traits in a much-shared post. Whether you’re wanting help yourself or someone else, I highly recommend you take A moment and check that out.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

What is a toxic person?

brunette woman wearing a gas mask

Well after what I said above, toxic personalities signs should be a whole lot more obvious now.

Who in your life is always complaining?  Who is always calling or texting about some new crisis that’s happening? Or maybe they are constantly posting on Facebook about some new disaster in their life.

Toxic people don’t really want your advice.  But they do want your time. They want you in the trenches of misery with them.

I’m not talking about the occasional grousing after a bad day. 

No; I mean who do you know for whom nothing ever goes right?  They go from job to job or relationship to relationship.  In each isolated case they make a very good argument why that boss was bad or why that partner wasn’t right.

But in the end, it becomes like the boy who cried wolf. It’s clear the only common denominator is the traits of a negative toxic person.

What if some of the toxic people in your life are family?

No doubt some of the toxic people in your life ARE family members.

I know many of you reading this know who I’m talking about in your family.  That one Uncle you dread seeing at the holidays.  Perhaps it’s even a close family member or even a parent.

At the end of the day, the traits of a negative toxic person are toxic to your happiness, state of mind and overall success in life; family or not.

Thus, it’s more important than ever if the toxic person is a family member to set boundaries.

Boundaries aren’t mean and they aren’t uncaring.  In fact, if anything, the toxic people in your life who drain your energy or possibly finances are mean and uncaring.

Repetition Compulsion is continuing to engage in an unhealthy or unsuccessful behavior over and over again expecting different results. If that sounds familiar, definitely take a moment and check out one of my most popular personal development posts on that very subject!

Maya Angelou quote the traits of a negative toxic person Middle Class Dad

Setting boundaries just mean:

  1. To be clear about what you are and are not willing to do
  2. Being firm, fair and consistent with regards to #1
  3. Not allowing yourself to be used, manipulated or enabling the toxic person’s behavior

There’s an excellent book on setting boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud called Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life.  If you struggle with setting boundaries. Or if you have issues not enabling the traits of a negative toxic person, I highly recommend you get that book!

How do you deal with someone who is always negative?

I’m a firm believer that anyone CAN change and when it comes to dealing with a negative person, time to act is now.

Anyone can make a choice at ANY time to behave differently, change destructive habits, get in shape, etc.  Failure CAN Inspire Us to Greatness (click to read how on my site).

However, just because anyone can change their toxic person traits doesn’t mean they WILL change.

One of my friends who was high up in HR at my former employer was fond of saying, “there’s no better predictor of future behavior than past behavior”. Unfortunately, he was correct.

Thus, while the toxic person CAN improve the traits of a negative toxic person at any time, the likelihood is that they won’t. Thus, it’s important that we not get fixated on the endlessly repeating cycle of trying to fix the toxic people in our lives.

What are the characteristics of a narcissist?

I know I’m late to the party, but my wife and I just finished watching the entire run of the Showtime show Nurse Jackie on Netflix.

Without giving too much away if you haven’t seen it, Jackie (excellently portrayed by Edie Falco of Carmela Soprano fame) epitomizes the traits of a negative toxic person. She is a true narcissist and has all the worst toxic personalities signs.

Some of the key traits of someone with narcissistic personality disorder are:

  • This person believes they deserve special treatment
  • They are attention hogs
  • This person brags and exaggerates their achievements
  • They are very sensitive
  • This person rarely maintains healthy relationships

Jackie always takes more than she gives.  She routinely disappoints all who care about her. She’ll lie to anyone about anything; so much so that she probably has a hard time distinguishing lies from the truth.

Just when you think she’s about to do the right thing, sure enough, she lets you down.  But she does it so skillfully that many keep believing (falsely) that she’ll change and become the person they so desperately want her to be.

You don’t want people like that in your life. Not sure if that person in your life is truly toxic? Why not take a second to take the Pooh Pathology Test and find out!

What does it mean to be in a toxic relationship?

As I alluded to in my section above about setting boundaries, it’s vitally important for your own mental health and well being to make sure the traits of a negative toxic person aren’t destroying your life.

In many cases, the best course of action will be to cut the toxic people out of your life completely.

I know some will see that as harsh. But in reality, you can’t help these people get rid of their toxic person traits and they will take you down with them if you let them.

If you’re in a relationship with a toxic person or it’s a close family member, while you CAN still choose to cut them out of your life, many won’t want to do that.  In these cases we just need to remember:

  • You can’t fix them, so don’t try (but you can support them in genuine efforts to fix themselves)
  • Be supportive if they need support, but lending a gambler money for the 15th time is the equivalent of giving a drunk a drink; you are enabling them and you are part of the problem
  • Make sure their needs don’t come at the expense of your own
  • Set crystal clear boundaries on what you will and won’t do and be unwavering on those
  • Minimize their role in your life and your time

Therapy is also a great tool for coping and setting boundaries, especially if this person is your parent, a really close friend or a close family member.

No therapists near you or no time for it? Check out the Reasons to Choose an Online Psychiatrist.

Boundaries book banner ad the traits of a negative toxic person Middle Class Dad

So what are my . . .

19 Worst Ways the Traits of a Negative Toxic Person Hurt You?

blurring woman shaking head side to side yelling Ahhhh! the traits of a negative toxic person Middle Class Dad


We foolishly believe that if they just got the right job, met the right partner, found the right industry or borrowed money from us that one last time that somehow everything will magically come together for them.

However, this isn’t always true when it comes to negative people.

Regardless of the number of achievements they have, they will still remain to have a negative outlook on life and create negative relationships with the people around them. Toxic people are usually like this – and you, as someone who is optimistic, will always be caught in the cycle of believing that they will change (and then end up seeing yourself disappointed over and over again).


While anyone CAN change at ANY time, most won’t.  Thus, the toxic people in your life are almost assuredly NOT going to magically turn around their toxic person traits when they get what they want.  You can bet that’s incredibly sad and frustrating.

The closer you are to this person, the more heartbreaking it is.

The closer you are to this person, the more heartbreaking it is. You will be expecting a lot from this person and give them one chance after the other, but you will always see yourself frustrated as nothing ever changes.

Being caught in this cycle can eventually take a toll on your mental health, and when you continue to hang around with these people, it can also become the reason why you will become toxic to others, as well. 


Often we see it as our role to fix these toxic people.  Maybe it’s a family member.  Perhaps you’re the boss and it’s an employee.  It could also be a close friend.

We see it as our duty to “fix them”.  We can often see so clearly that if they just did “A, B and C”, that their lives would genuinely turn around.  (hint: they won’t do those things and you can’t fix someone)


We do!  Even the best of us, the most level-headed, feel guilty when we aren’t actually able to fix the toxic people in our lives.

This is also the reason why regardless of how often you see yourself in the same cycle with a toxic person, you would still choose to stay or be with them because you will feel guilty the moment you decide to leave them.

However, changing or fixing a person should not be your responsibility because regardless of how you want someone to change, if they don’t put any effort into doing it, their behavior will still stay the same.

In truth, all we can do is motivate someone to improve the traits of a negative toxic person.

But they MUST be willing to acknowledge their own toxic person traits, and most simply won’t.


You’d think we would learn our lesson, but inevitably we keep trying to fix the toxic people in our lives.  We tell ourselves that if we just do something different this time that it might work.

You have been in this cycle countless times already that you no longer notice that your own mental health or behavior is starting to get affected during the process.


The cycle of trying to fix these people can literally go on for years.  We try, they fail, we blame ourselves.  Repeat.

Sure, you might have memorized this entire process, but deciding to still go with it can have adverse effects on your mental health. Putting other people first (people who don’t want to change themselves) without thinking about yourself can become the reason why you will suffer from anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. 


To say that toxic people drain our energy is a vast understatement.  The term energy vampire didn’t come about for no reason.

It’s incredibly draining to watch someone we care about go down an endless spiral of despair, especially when we keep giving of ourselves hoping to make a difference.


In truth, whether you’re talking about other friends or family and especially more reliable co-workers or employees, your time and energy can ALWAYS be focused on someone more deserving.


Again with the guilt!  But we do.  Recognizing that another employee DOES show up on time, DOES show up more often and DOESN’T always have a sob story you’re forced to listen is hard.

We feel bad for acknowledging that others are more deserving of our time and energy.


When we fail to give as much of ourselves to the people in our lives who are more deserving, we are actually hurting those people.

As a general manager and leader for many years with my previous employer, I can tell you that we often spend our time and energy on those least deserving of it, thus hurting the people most deserving.


When we fail to recognize how much we’re hurting the good people in our lives or place of employment, especially if the toxic people are getting away with stuff everyone else couldn’t, the good people in our lives will eventually move on.

At the very least, especially in an employee situation, we are killing their motivation and ensuring they do the bare minimum.


The traits of a negative toxic person almost assuredly include being overly dramatic. They cause big scenes and tension among friends, family & co-workers.


These toxic people rarely admit fault and almost always look to shift blame onto others, rarely taking responsibility for their actions and statements.


The traits of a negative toxic person also typically include dominating conversations.

We all have that one friend or co-worker who is always talking about their problems and woes. Rarely does a toxic person ever invite others to share their own frustrations in return.

It becomes a never-ending cycle of me-me-me.


These toxic people also have a great tendency to play the victim.

Along with a lack of ownership, I addressed above, the toxic personalities signs also include seeing themselves as a victim of other’s actions (or inactions) or life in general.

They never actually take responsibility for the direction of their life. Because they don’t ever recognize the real problem (their own attitude), they are destined to repeatedly fail, reinforcing their view of themselves as a victim.


The traits of a negative toxic person unfortunately typically include taking up a lot of our time.

Between the one-sided conversations about how nothing ever goes right in their life to the endless drama, this person eats away at our precious time.


These people become ever-increasingly negative as life goes on.

As jobs, spouses, and friends come and go, the toxic person becomes more bitter. As they see themselves as a victim their attitude worsens and worsens. Eventually, they become a completely miserable person that’s hard to be around.


The traits of a negative toxic person also can involve being paranoid.

They may even develop the feeling that people are out to get them. No doubt the friends and loved ones of a toxic person are talking about them. But instead of recognizing the care these people have, the toxic person begins to see them in a negative light.

Lying and dishonest behavior can definitely be part of the toxic person traits.


Ultimately these people are selfish.

They are unable to put themselves in anyone else’s shoes. They lack compassion and empathy for others. People begin to exit their lives due to feeling like the toxic person doesn’t really care about them or their needs.

Want a simple 30-day program to build a better you?

I’m honored at this point to recommend a book by a very good friend of mine and one of my amazing martial arts instructors, Gene Smithson.

Don’t worry; it’s not a book about martial arts. Instead, it’s a book about motivation. About changing your life. About learning how to move past the traits of a negative toxic person in your life or past.

Gene Smithson book Simple Not Easy the traits of a negative toxic person Middle Class Dad

As Gene puts it “Changing your life is not a complicated endeavor. This is not to say it is easy. We are changing from day to day. The question really is, do you want to influence the direction of that change or just allow life to happen TO you.

This training guide consists of 30 days of physical, mental and spiritual tasks.

Working through this program is a simple way to grow the discipline and confidence needed to take charge of your life. Day by day, task by task you will practice and develop the mindset, focus, and determination needed to choose and shape your life the way you envision it.”

If you know you want to change the direction of your life; to truly be the person you were meant to be and who you always knew you could be, I urge you check this book out (click to see on Amazon).

Getting to know Gene and training with Gene has transformed my life, so there’s not a doubt in my mind this book can change yours.

Final Thoughts

In short, the traits of a negative toxic person in our lives drain our time, energy, possibly money and have a negative impact on us and everyone else involved.

You can’t fix them and while they CAN change, they have to be the one driving the change.

Something has to happen to make them desperate enough to want to change. They need to hit rock bottom.

While you can help them once they get to that place, you don’t want to be dragged down to rock bottom with them in the process! Thus, it’s vitally important to set clear boundaries.  Know what you are and are not willing to do.  Have clear expectations.

If the toxic people are employees, you absolutely need to hold them accountable for their actions EXACTLY the same as you do everyone else.  If you don’t, all the good people will leave or lose respect for you.

They can CHOOSE to destroy their own life, but if they take you down with them, that’s on you, not on them.

Who are the toxic people in your life and what have you done to help them or minimize their effect on you?

Photo credits (that aren’t mine or which require attribution):
Aaahhh!!! – Augusta GA- Augusta GA by Evil Erin is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I also have to add that my opinions are my own and purely based on my own observations and years of experience and should not be construed or received as medical or mental health advice. If you need medical advice or mental health advice, please consult a professional.

Middle Class Dad is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases if you click to Amazon from my site and choose to make a purchase. This is no way increases the cost to you.

9 Proven Cell Phone Addiction Symptoms You Need to Know!

2 ladies on cell phones wearing winter clothes cell phone addiction symptoms Middle Class Dad

Looking for Cell phone addiction symptoms?

We all know someone who can’t put their phone down no matter what the circumstance.

They have them out at dinner, or while in conversation with friends.

That phone is the first thing they look at upon waking and the last thing they look at before sleep.

Whether playing games, texting family & friends or checking up on social media channels, the phone is omnipresent.

I’m talking adult cell phone addiction here although kids and screens of all sizes are certainly an issue too.

Cell phone addiction symptoms disconnect us from our family and friends. We aren’t present to what we’re doing at the moment.

In this post we’ll review the symptoms of cell phone addiction. But we’ll also look at what we can do about it if we show some or our spouse does.

It’s truly amazing that we have the tools to connect to so much and yet have become so disconnected

3 guys at a dinner table all on smartphones cell phone addiction symptoms Middle Class Dad

I avoided getting a cell phone for a long time.

In fact, I only got one when my former employer told me I had to have one.

I had just been promoted to General Manager for the first time and I was told that the boss needed to be able to reach me 24/7.

I got a flip phone (this was fall of 2000). Cell phone addiction symptoms weren’t even a concept then.

My love/hate relationship with cell phones

I guess at the time I thought they were too hoity-toity; too yuppie. The irony, of course, being that fast forward 15 years and the so-called “smart” phones we have now made that flip phone look like a rotary dial.

If you don’t know what a rotary dial phone is you’re too young for my blog.  Just kidding.

Back then, I liked being able to leave my house and just live. If anyone had tried to reach me while I was out they had to leave a voicemail on a tiny cassette tape.  I know; ancient technology compared to what we have today.

I liked being able to talk to people and connect with them. Now we just tag each other. I liked to see what I was doing with my eyes and not through the lens of my phone’s camera.

Fast forward to today and we all have smartphones. Many of us cell phone addiction symptoms too.

According to the Pew Research Center, about 64% of Americans own a smartphone and that study is almost 2 years old!

At the time of the study, their findings concluded that the ownership of smartphones had increased 35% over the previous 4 years. So if that trend held true, that puts the current number at over 75% now.

Guess what? That’s about 244 million smartphone owners in the US!

A lot of potential cell phone addiction symptoms!

What do you call a person who is addicted to their phone?

Nomophobia is the fear of losing one’s cell phone.  No, I’m not making that up! It essentially stands for NoMo(bile) phone. The term was coined in the UK in 2010.

Nomophobia might sound silly, but for those in the throws of cell phone addiction symptoms, the effects can become deadly!

A recent study by the National Institutes of Health found that “a total of 24.12% of the students were found to be nomophobic and at risk of being nomophobes were 40.97%.”

Specifically, this study was looking at college students.  They went on to say “students showed an alarming indication that students have been addicted to the mobile phone which in turn affect their academic performance in a negative way.”

What are the symptoms of nomophobia?

The symptoms of nomophobia may include:

  • Panic attacks
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath or Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Rapid heartbeat

What is addiction to mobile phones?

guy texting and driving wearing a hoodie and baseball cap cell phone addiction symptoms Middle Class Dad

While not the same as drugs or alcohol, we can certainly look at the textbook definition of addiction and see how it might apply to cell phone addiction.

According to the Mayo Clinic, some attributes of addiction as it applies here would include:

  1. Not meeting obligations and work responsibilities (or cutting back on social or recreational activities)
  2. Driving or doing other risky activities (when using your phone)
  3. Focusing more and more time and energy (when using your phone)
  4. Failing in your attempts to stop (or cut back when using your phone)
  5. Lack of awareness or inattention to surrounding people and things

Does any of that sound familiar?

Sounds and notifications – the soundtrack of cell phone addiction symptoms!

Notifications drive me crazy.

The constant beeping, vibrating or other noises disturbs my concentration (whether it’s my phone or someone else’s).

Even more mind numbing is the sense of urgency with which many of us strive to act on these notifications.

Going back to my story above from 15 years ago before I had a cell phone, there was no urgency.  You called, left me a message and when I got home I heard it and called you back.

End of story.  If I got in late, I called you back the next day.

Now we feel the desire to respond instantly.  Many of us get insecure when someone doesn’t respond instantly to a message we sent them! (been there, done that).

In short; this is crazy behavior, and I’m speaking from personal experience.

Ironically many of us see smartphones as a way to stay connected with each other.

Yet all one need do is look around in social settings and see the mindless hoards all staring down at their cell phones instead of talking with each other to realize just how truly disconnected we’ve become.

How can I stop using my phone?

There are a great many public figures I admire, quote from, link to, etc, but among those is a guy named Prince Ea.  He’s part poet, part prophet and an all-around visionary artist with a lot to say about our world.

His message can best be broken down as “be balanced, be mindful, be present, be here”.

Prince Ea has a great video on the topic of electronic devices and their proper role in our society and if you have 3 minutes to spare, I highly recommend you take a look.

How many hours a week do you spend on your phone?

Now don’t get me wrong. I have a smartphone (android) and I use it daily.

After all, the glorious job of blog-master does require me to spend some decent time on social media channels. Often (but not always), that is by way of my phone.

I tweet, pin and post to my heart’s content. I text my wife and co-workers. I’ll check my home email, work email and blog email.

Maybe I’ll Google some rare bit of music trivia or look something up on Amazon. There’s a lot I can do on my phone and so I do!

Dr. Michio Kaku has been quoted as saying “Today, your cell phone has more computer power than all of NASA back in 1969, when it placed two astronauts on the moon.”

It’s true, most of us possess amazing power that fits snugly into our back pocket.

But as Uncle Ben once warned Peter Parker, “with great power comes great responsibility”.

Meaning that while we can do amazing things in a matter of seconds with our phones, we have a responsibility to use them wisely; for the greater good.

Becoming addicted to your smartphone nullifies all that power because it turns us into insensitive, mindless automatons with bad manners.

How can I stop using my phone?

The good news is we can all take steps today to curb our technology addiction.

We can make a choice at any time to not be a slave to our cell phone addiction symptoms. We can set the phone down. You can make a choice to turn the ringer off, leave it at home or schedule technology time for yourself and your kids.
Wondering How Much is Too Much Screen Time for Kids? Check out one of my most popular parenting posts where I walk you step by step through the process of answering just that question!

In my house, we have technology free Sundays where we all strive to stay off all forms of technology. We also have strict limits for screen time for our daughters the rest of the week.

Sadly we have some work to do for us parents!

Personally, I try and do the following to curb cell phone addiction:

  • I rarely, if ever, take my phone to bed
  • Turn the ringer off at work, at church and other similar places
  • While I might do a Facebook check-in at a restaurant or occasionally take a great picture of my family, I otherwise don’t take my phone out at the dinner table
  • If I am on my phone and approached by someone I set my phone aside so I can focus on the person
  • If in the above scenario, I am doing something truly urgent, I will say to the person ” let me finish this real quick so I can focus on what you’re saying”

Other good solutions would be to reduce the number of apps on your phone; social media apps in particular.  Have a set time every day on a desktop when you check your Facebook, Twitter, etc and leave it at that.

So what are my . . . 

9 Proven Cell Phone Addiction Symptoms You Need to Know?

  1. You look at your phone within 5 minutes of waking up (outside of an alarm clock)

  2. Telling your spouse or significant other you love them more through text than in person

  3. You use your phone at the dinner table throughout the meal

  4. Answering your phone, playing games or returning texts when in the middle of conversations with others

  5. Bringing your phone with you everywhere you go

  6. Feeling compelled to return texts instantly no matter what you are doing

  7. Texting, gaming or checking social media while driving

  8. Being on your phone more than 15 minutes at a time (not counting actual calls or work-related usage)

  9. Forgetting your phone and turning around to go get it even if it makes you late for work or wherever you were going

Do you have cell phone addiction symptoms? Does your spouse?

In this post, we looked at some troubling cell phone addiction symptoms and statistics. We explored just how damaging and disconnecting the ever-present use of smartphones can be.

Most importantly we looked at some simple ways to curb that behavior in ourselves or help our spouse.

Feel free to comment here or email me with any questions as I am here to help!

If you like this post, please consider sharing on Facebook, because if it helped you, it just might help someone else!

Facebook share button cell phone addiction symptoms Middle Class Dad

Middle Class Dad is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases if you click to Amazon from my site and choose to make a purchase. This is no way increases the cost to you.

Photo credits (that aren’t mine):
2 Phone Ladies – https://www.flickr.com/photos/fsadykov/
Table of phone guys – https://www.flickr.com/photos/symic/
Texting driver – https://www.flickr.com/photos/rvp-cw/


7 Top Fatherhood Challenges and Solutions for Your Family

fatherhood challenges middle class dad father and daughter walking

Are you a Dad struggling to adjust to being a father?

Perhaps you’re new to fatherhood (or parenthood for you Moms)?

Being a parent doesn’t come with an instruction manual and there’s no test to show us how to do it right!

Thus many of us struggle, make mistakes and get challenged on how to deal with fatherhood challenges.

This post, my very first, is designed to walk you through the top fatherhood challenges and find solutions together.

Let’s get going.

Welcome to my Middle Class Dad blog!

 jeff campbell fatherhood challenges middle class dad

I’m a guy probably a lot like you.

Sure, society puts a lot of labels on us and many of those end up dividing us; race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, income level, political affiliations, etc., but at the end of the day, we’re really all a LOT more similar than we are different.

And just so I’m clear, this blog isn’t here to talk about ANY of the above.

I’M HERE TO HELP IDENTIFY CHALLENGES and find solutions together!

I’m here to figure out what matters to you.

What you’re struggling with and the areas of life you know you want to improve. Then together, building a community along the way, we’ll tackle those things together.

Because if it’s one thing I know, it’s that the chances that a problem you or I am facing being the first time in history anyone has faced it, is virtually non-existent.

In other words, someone has faced that challenge before and dealt with it.

Some may have tried and failed and some may have tried and succeeded, but we’re here to learn, and we learn just as well (if not better) from mistakes, and while there’s (unfortunately) no substitute for making our own mistakes, you bet we can learn from other people’s mistakes too!

Dad’s Rule! – Strength in Numbers!

According to the Census Bureau, there are:

  • 151 million males in the US
  • 117 million of those are adults
  • The  vast majority are under age 68
  • About half of adult males appear to be married, so we’re talkin’ about 70 million husbands
  • Upwards of 30% appear to be dads. 

So potentially there are almost 20 million middle class dads for whom this blog is for!

Father, child, husband, employee, breadwinner, homeowner; Middle Class Dad.  These are just a few of the words that describe me, and I bet, since you found my blog, at least some of those describe you too.

If at least some of those words describe you, then you’ve come to the right place.

You see, many of us; millions of us, just want to work hard, make a decent income, provide for our families, raise great kids and be great husbands.

We want to have fun in that process too, but sometimes we get so bogged down in trying to make all that happen that we forget to make the journey a great one.

Paying off your house early or that lifetime trip to the Bahamas doesn’t matter much if your marriage is rocky or your kids avoid you or you’ve lost your health.

fatherhood challenges middle class dad greg anderson quote on the journey

The never-ending search for solutions to fatherhood challenges

I don’t have all the answers.  I’m just a middle-class dad like you looking for solutions to life’s challenges.

But am a guy who’s been around the block a few times, a guy who’s read and listened to a lot of folks who are a lot smarter than I am and most importantly, I MADE A LOT OF MISTAKES!

The trick in life is not to never make a mistake.  The trick is to LEARN from those mistakes so that next time we don’t make the same mistake (or at least recover more quickly).

To slightly deconstruct a great Stephen Covey quote, are you a product of your circumstances or are you a product of your decisions?

The proven power of choosing the life you want!

We don’t have a lot of control over anything in life, but the one thing we can control is how we react/respond to what life gives us.

THINKING WE CAN CONTROL LIFE OR OTHERS IS AN ILLUSION; something we need to let go of to be truly happy.

Many folks and I used to be one of them, try to keep control over everything in their lives.

They get desperately frustrated, mad, sad or out of control when things don’t go their way.  I get it, I’ve been there.

This morning as I type this I had 45 minutes before I had to start my very busy day (last day of school activities before work and a dentist appointment to squeeze in).

In those 45 minutes, my plan was to cut the grass in the backyard.  Guess what?  It’s raining.

Now, I could get mad and throw a tantrum, I could get dejected and say something dramatic like “it ALWAYS rains when I have time to mow the grass”.

Or I could be defiant and go mow in the rain, proud of my ability to defeat the weather and get soaked. Risking breaking my mower all in the name of control.

Or I could take a deep breath, accept that it’s frustrating to not get to do what I need to do, acknowledge that I have to modify my plans, understand that I can’t control the weather and MOVE ON.

Now I’m not naive enough to think this is the only blog out there designed to help folks.

I’m far from the only Middle Class Dad!

Whether its Finances, Marriage, Parenting, etc, you can bet there are a million other folks out there with something to say.

A few of them I follow and will quote or link to here on occasion; I especially like to give credit where credit is due.

Almost nothing out there in print or on the web is completely original or never been said before.

But certain folks do put a unique, succinct or alternative spin on the information overloaded society we live in today, and it’s my hope to fall into one of those categories for you!

Want to know the books, podcasts and experts I love and follow?

Check out my resource pages.

The folks and things mentioned there have all helped me in my journey.

Why listen to a Middle Class Dad? 

What makes me different?  Why come to my blog?

After all, I’m not a self-proclaimed expert, don’t have any best-selling books, nor do I have a loyal following in the hundreds of thousands.

I do, however, currently have about 13,512 people that follow me each week!

All I will say, is that many folks out there in the blogging and/or self-help world, however, humble their beginnings may have been often lead lives very different than yours or mine.  They may:

  • Be Ivy League-educated
  • Live in a million dollar house
  • Appear on Oprah, etc.
  • Be a New York Times best-selling author

That’s not to knock any of those things, and who knows; maybe you or I will be there in 10 years.

But I do think that when we find ourselves with celebrity status and completely removed from the segment of society we’re trying to help it makes it very hard.

Because while they’re hearing, talking to and reading about people like you and I, they aren’t actually feeling what we feel or see what we see.

Your struggle is real and so is mine!

A good analogy about experts being disconnected from our struggles would be in my former career.

I was a GM with Whole Foods Market for many, many years.

Often there were people in regional leadership roles.  The best of them likely came up through the ranks starting in hourly roles.

But even those folks were now spending most of their time behind a desk or behind the wheel.

They saw what was selling not because they put their hands on it or heard it from customers but because they saw it on a computer screen.

They were trying to tell store-level employees how to do a job that they themselves were almost completely removed from (and in some cases never did themselves to begin with).

In short, the best way to help someone is to know their struggles personally!

And the longer someone stays in that removed and isolated role the worse that divide gets.

Again, I’m not knocking those folks, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with succeeding.

But I’m just like you; I live in a modest home, drive a 10-year-old car and work 45+ hours a week.  That gives me a significant advantage in trying to help you.

I know your struggles, as they are my struggles too.

The top fatherhood challenges I face

fatherhood challenges middle class dad jeff campbell and astrid and jolie at disneyland

I’m probably just like you.

I cut the grass on the weekends. My wife and I get worried about our household budget.

We stress over having enough money to go on vacation, save for retirement or pay for my kid’s college.

I struggle with what to get my wife for her birthday.  I try and do minor repairs around the house.

Heck, I even built a wooden deck on the back of my house (with some invaluable help and design from a good friend).

But what are the top fatherhood challenges you face?

Some of the top things out there that all parents face are:

  1. Lack of sleep
  2. Reduced connection with your spouse
  3. Stress
  4. Time management

Once you become a dad there never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done. Tasks get put on the back burner. Your marriage can get put on the back burner too!

So what are my . . .

7 Top Fatherhood Challenges and Solutions for Your Family

1. Having enough time to do everything

As a Dad, there never seems to be enough time to do everything.

I constantly shuffle items on my to-do list from one day to the next. I never seemingly am able to get everything done that needs to get done.

2. Earning enough money

No matter how much money we earn, it never seems to be quite enough. As we earn more darn it if we don’t somehow figure out how to spend more!

Plus for many of us wage increases simply don’t keep up with the cost of living.

Thus money is almost always one of the top fatherhood challenges!

3. Staying connected with your spouse

When your romance was new, it was all roses and sunshine. But somehow life conspires against our relationship once we become parents.

Somehow everything gets priorities above your spouse.

If your marriage is not what it could be, I have a completely FREE mini-course called Rock Your Marriage.  Check it out today!

4. Balancing all your priorities

Work, kids, spouse, household chores all compete against one another for your very limited time.  Making sure to make time for everything can seem like an impossible task.

5. Time management

As I said above, balancing your time can seem like a thankless job. Thus it’s crucial to use a tool for time management.

Whether it’s a dry erase board, day planner or an app, have something to help keep you on track!

I use a desktop program (also available as a mobile app) called GQueues.  I have a detailed review of the program, so check that out if you want to learn more!

6. Having time for yourself

When you’re running yourself ragged trying to parent, work, keep up with chores and remember to spend time with your spouse, it’s easy to put your own needs on the back burner.

Thus one of the fatherhood challenges is making sure we stay healthy, exercise and have enough time to ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate. After all if our health and mental state decline, we can’t take care of our families.

7. Managing stress

As with the above, finding effective means of managing stress is crucial!

Exercise, spending time outdoors and finding a way to balance all of life’s priorities is crucial! Stand up paddleboarding is a great way to accomplish all that at the same time!

The #1 product I use to help manage effective stress levels, anxiety and general feeling of balance is called Natural Vitality Natural Calm Plus Calcium.

It’s 4.5 stars on Amazon Prime with well over 1,400 reviews! Sweetened with organic stevia so no added calories either! I do a teaspoon a day in about 12 oz of water.

It’s a great way to start my day and keeps me feeling great!


Alone, I’m just one middle class dad.

But together, you and I have just doubled our energy and effectiveness.

Grow that to 10 and now we’re a team!

Grow that to 100, or 1000 or 10,000 and now we’re an unstoppable army; a force to be reckoned with in terms of finding solutions together to our fatherhood challenges!


fatherhood challenges middle class dad hellen keller quote

Looking to stay connected to our community between posts?  Click below to join our community and never miss an important post.

Connect with us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter too!

I’m glad you’re here!  Let’s get going!

fatherhood challenges middle class dad jeff signature

What fatherhood challenges do you face?

Any tips or suggestions you have to share?

Feel free to comment here or email me with any questions!

Middle Class Dad is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases if you click to Amazon from my site and choose to make a purchase. This is no way increases the cost to you.