August 2016
Self Improvement, Wisdom, Professionalism, Inspirational Stories, Positivity, Leadership, Management, Stress, Optimism and Peace, Productivity.
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Our habits are what ultimately build who we are. If we build positive daily habits, we create ourselves in a positive and thoughtful direction. If we build negative daily habits, we find wake up in deep holes while at the same time wondering how we got there in the first place. The key, then, is to understand how these habits come to be--and having the awareness to spot those pesky tiny habits that prohibit larger, more positive growth.

Here are some of the most common "bad habits" that tend to sneak under the radar and cause more harm than good:

1. You don't follow through. Yes, this is a habit. Whether you're promising to take out the trash or you're promising to get the merger deal signed and delivered by Friday end-of-day, both are a function of the same habit--you have to follow through. And what you don't realize is that in not following through, you end up creating more work for yourself on the back-end.
2. You ride instead of run. A metaphor and a literal translation of one's work ethic, "riding" the bus is a very different experience than running alongside it. Be the runner, not the rider. Contrary to popular belief, you will feel much more alive when you are part of the experience and the collaboration rather than just tagging along. If you're tagging along, you'll feel groggy and disposable. Get involved.
3. You don't make time to sleep. This whole "I work more and sleep less than you" competition is pretty much a charade. Humans have to sleep. We all have to sleep. You'll fall asleep sometime, regardless. So make it a schedule, make it a daily priority, find your rhythm and leave it at that.
4. You say more negative things than positive. Being a Negative Nancy does nothing but suck the energy out of everyone--including you. Find the positive and focus on that.
5. You "have to be right." There's nothing quite like an endless argument.
6. You forget to breathe. I mean this in the most literal way--if you don't make time to get back in your body and actually feel yourself breathe, then you aren't just busy. You're coping. Get back in touch with your core self, asap.
7. You check your e-mail every 3 seconds. Nobody is going anywhere. No one is dying. Relax.
8. You eat lots of sugar carbs. Health lesson here: sugar carbs spike your insulin. If your breakfast is a fruit bowl, that might explain why for the first hour you feel great and the second hour you feel like you want to take a nap. Eat less sugar.
9. You drink too much coffee. The grey area between moderation and addiction lies somewhere between a Grande dark roast and a Venti black eye.
10. You only work and never play. Especially if you're in a creative industry, you have to make time for input, not just output.
11. Your circle of friends is one dimensional. This can be exceedingly exhausting. Come on, branch out a bit and surround yourself with people that will make you think differently.
12. You don't exercise. Again, contrary to popular belief, but standing still doesn't make you feel energized and alive. The body wants to be pushed, challenged, torn apart and rebuilt again. Give it that freedom.
13. You don't study your craft. Energy is earned. We have more energy about the things we feel good about. And you can't feel good about something unless you work at it. Put in the work, and you'll feel energized.
14. You try to do too much at once. It is an art learning how to take on just enough so that you're comfortably busy, but not so much that you're constantly drowning.
15. You don't practice appreciation. Living a happy life has far less to do with what you achieve or earn, and far more with how much you can appreciate. It is a practice, and deserves attention every single day.
16. You don't listen. By not taking the time to listen to others, you make them feel disrespected. In turn, they react negatively toward you, and on and on the cycle goes. Take the extra minute and lend an ear.
17. You aren't doing what you love. The ultimate energy-suck is not doing what you are completely and utterly obsessed with. Do what you love, and you'll have more energy than you know what to do with.
Article Source INC

Self Improvement, Wisdom, Professionalism, Inspirational Stories, Positivity, Leadership, Management, Stress, Optimism and Peace, Productivity.



A little boy is telling his Grandma how "everything" is going wrong. School, family problems, health problems, problems with friends, etc.

Meanwhile, Grandma is baking a cake. She asks her grandson if he would like a snack, which, of course, he does.

"Here, have some cooking oil." *"Yuck" says the boy.
"How about a couple raw eggs? " "Gross, Grandma!"
"Would you like some flour then? Or maybe baking soda?"

"Grandma, those are all yucky!"

To which Grandma replies: "Yes, all those things seem bad all by themselves. But when they are put together in the right way, they make a wonderfully delicious cake!


God works the same way. Many times we wonder why He would let us go through such bad and difficult times. But God knows that when He puts these things all in His order, they always work for good! We just have to trust Him and, eventually, they will all make something wonderful!"
Self Improvement, Wisdom, Professionalism, Inspirational Stories, Positivity, Leadership, Management, Stress, Optimism and Peace, Productivity.



Chapter-1: Everyday wisdom:

1.     Thought is the original source of all wealth, all success, all material gain, all great discoveries and inventions and of all achievement. – Claude Bristol

2.     The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.   – William James

3.     Great People talk about ideas, average people talk about events; small people talk about other people. – Anonymous

4.     You can tell whether a person is clever by his answers, you can tell whether a person is wise by his questions. – Mahfouz Naguib

5.     Going to work for a big company is like getting on a train. Are you going at sixty miles an hour or the company is going at  sixty miles an hour and you are just sitting? – Paul Getty

6.     The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts. – Marcus Aurelius

7.     A wise man never knows all, a fool knows everything – African proverb

8.     None of us is as smart as all of us. – Japanese proverb

 

Chapter-2: Profound Wisdom:

1-     More mistakes, more experience. More experience, less mistakes.

2-     If you are patient in moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow. – Chinese Proverb.

3-     Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.  – Jackson Brown.

4-     Information applied gives knowledge. Knowledge applied yield wisdom. Wisdom applied brings success.

5-     To the man who only has a hammer, everything looks like a nail. – Abraham Maslow (the world we see is the reflection of who we are)

6-     Speak to open the minds of others, listen to open your own.



Chapter-3: Insightful Wisdom:

1-     Thoughts have power, thoughts are energy. You can make your own world or break it by your own thinking – Susan Taylor

2-     The commentator makes a  noise, the activists makes a difference.



Chapter-4: Acquiring Wisdom:

1-     I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow. – Woodrow Wilson.

2-     The ability to focus attention on important things is a defining characteristic of intelligence. – Robert Shiller

3-     What we see depends mainly on what we look for. – John Lubbock

4-     Being willing to change allows you to move from a point of view to a Viewing Point – A higher, more expansive place, from which you can see both sides. – Thomas Crum

5-     Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something. – Plato (Speak only when your words improve the silence)

6-     Half of being smart is knowing what you are dumb about. – Solomon Short. (The other half is finding someone smart about it who can help you)

7-     The difference between a smart man and a wise man is that smart man knows what to say and wise man knows when to say and whether or not to say. – Frank Garafola.


Source: ronkaufman

Self Improvement, Wisdom, Professionalism, Inspirational Stories, Positivity, Leadership, Management, Stress, Optimism and Peace, Productivity.
 

He woke up in the morning and found her praying. He heard her praying for him. He stared at her. It has been a long time since he has seen her praying. For the past few months, they have been arguing. Last night, they had a nasty fight. He went to the kitchen in a hurry to prepare himself breakfast. These past days, she hasn’t been cooking for him. Shock on him, he found breakfast already set at the table. He ate. He went back to the bedroom, to prepare for a shower.

She left the shower. “Good morning. Have a blessed day” she said as she entered the bedroom and he left for the bathroom. After his shower, all dressed up for work; he found his wife at the kitchen, eating breakfast in peace. She was looking at some
funny videos on her phone and giggling. He looked at her then walked out the door. The last look he had of her before he left was of her at peace. That last look disturbed him. This is not how she should be. This is not how she has been. He has been hurting her, she has recently found out that he has been flirting
with other women he has cheated once and used money meant for their family on other women. She should be angry. Her peaceful demeanor disturbed him.

Evening came. He went home and met his peaceful wife again. She was cooking and laughing with their children. She
had come from work two hours ago. The dinner was enjoyable. Good food, she having warm conversations with the children. He as the father felt left out. His wife and children
seemed to be having fun despite him hurting them. After dinner, as she washed the dishes and the children had gone to bed. He approached her. “Are you OK?” he asked her.”I am more than OK. I am blessed “She answered.”Are you not mad at me? After all that I am doing and have done wrong?” he asked. She placed the washed plate in the rack then looked at him and said, “I asked myself, what is the most important relationship in my life? The one I have with you or the one with God? And I realized it is the one with God. I live for God, not for you. Marrying you was a blessing but it is not all there is in life. God has blessed me with life and I will not waste it crying because of the hurt you cause me to feel “She picked up a dirty glass and began washing it. “I realized I had given you too much power… Yes, you are my husband, the closest human being in my life and the human being I love the most; but you are not God. You have failed me but God never fails me. I will not let you ruin my joy, my peace and my progress.
You break our marriage if you want to, but I will hold on to God. And as I hold on to God, I will be full of joy despite what you do “She said rinsing the glass. She looked at him and continued, “When you hurt me and disrespected me, I realized I was acting out like a woman who has no God. I got mad and hurled insults, I wanted to revenge and I allowed you to mess me day after day. My performance at work
went down, I talked less to our children, I became bitter to the children, I felt sorry for myself, I developed ulcers. And then I realized, I have God, I shouldn’t act like someone with no relationship with God. Why should I be hopeless yet God is with me? I had focused so much on you that I forgot about God. When you found me, I had God. We dated and got married and I let everything be about you because I wanted to make our marriage work. Our marriage became the idol I worship instead of the blessing I have in God. Our marriage is falling apart because of you but my relationship with God is still intact “

She scrubbed the pot.”You have chosen to abandon our marriage but that doesn’t mean my whole world has collapsed. I will still continue being a good mother to our children. They will never say the problems between mom and dad, made mom a monster.

You do as you please with other women, I will raise our children. “She looked at him and told him, “Do I hate you? No, it will be a lie to say I hate you. You are the man I married, the one I vowed to, the one I love “Tears fell down her cheeks. She wiped them. “I can’t just cancel all the years we have been together. The Quran as well as the Bible asks us to love our enemies. If I am able to love my enemies, surely I can still love you despite all you have done. I am angry and disappointed, but I have taken my power back. I live for God who has exceedingly blessed me, not for you and the pain you cause “She wiped her wet hands, took the apron from her body and told him, “In my peace, I am planning on where the children and I will move to. Since you have chosen to have an affair, you have shown clearly that you don’t need us. So we will not make your life uncomfortable by forcing you to live with us. You need to be able to bring the woman you are cheating with to your own house. I am working on something. I came into this house in peace and I will leave in peace. You will not kill my smile and shine “She walked to the bedroom. Minutes later. He followed her to the bedroom. He found her peacefully asleep. He nudged her. He woke her up and said, “Please don’t go, don’t move out. I will hurt you no more, I will cheat no more. I am not OK. I want the peace you have. I want to be the kind of husband you are as a wife. “Since that day, he has been a reformed man. No more affairs, no more hurting her, no flirting with other women, or endless fights. She didn’t move out. She and the children stayed. He submitted to God and learned how to be a good husband, Love is powerful enough to humble the most proud … I don’t know what you are experiencing but my prayer is ,may you enjoy over whatever you are going through and behold ,God is going to rain everlasting peace and freedom upon your life.


Source: LifeLoveandMarriage
Self Improvement, Wisdom, Professionalism, Inspirational Stories, Positivity, Leadership, Management, Stress, Optimism and Peace, Productivity.
​​
A farmer in Bangladesh was preparing his land for planting crops. As he dug through the soil the equipments kept getting stuck in one place. Out of curiosity he decided to check out what was in there. He dug the ground and discovered a big box. 

The farmer quickly opened the box to see what was in it but to his disappointment, there were only black stones inside the box. He decided to throw those stones at the birds when they come to eat the crops at the time for harvesting. Eventually, a day came when the crops were ready and the birds come to eat them. So, he started throwing the stones at the birds from where ever they showed up. 

One day a man was walking by the field who sells precious stones such as pearls, diamonds, rubies etc. Two stones happened to fall right in front of him when the farmer threw them at the birds. The man brought the stones to the farmer and asked if he was willing to sell them to him for $5,000 each. The farmer thought that the man was joking so he replied, "No." Then the man offered $50,000 for each stone and explained that they were precious jewels. Now the farmer started crying saying that he had only 1 or 2 stones left and the rest were thrown away.
​​
This story is mentioned in the book "20 Reminders" by Abu Yusuf

In fact, every second of our time is very valuable. Today, we are just throwing them away here and there. But one day in our life, we will realize how valuable they were but it will be too late. Now is the chance to use our time properly and wisely. Now is the time to do self audit on where our time is being wasted, what are our priorities and what needs to be done. Time is Precious, very precious !!!

Self Improvement, Wisdom, Professionalism, Inspirational Stories, Positivity, Leadership, Management, Stress, Optimism and Peace, Productivity.
www.bbc.co.uk

A little boy came up to his mother in the kitchen one evening while she was fixing supper, and he handed her a piece of paper that he had been writing on. After his mom dried her hands on an apron, she read it, and this is what it said:

  • For cutting the grass: $5.00
  • For cleaning up my room this week: $1.00
  • For going to the store for you: .50
  • Babysitting my kid brother while you went shopping: .25
  • Taking out the garbage: $1.00
  • For getting a good report card: $5.00
  • For cleaning up and raking the yard: $2.00
  • Total owed: $14.75

Well, his mother looked at him standing there, the boy could see the memories flashing through her mind. She picked up the pen, turned over the paper he'd written on, and this is what she wrote:
  • For 9 months I carried you while you were growing inside me: No Charge.
  • For all the nights that I've sat up with you, doctored and prayed for you: No Charge.
  • For all the trying times, and all the tears that you've caused through the years: No Charge.
  • For all the nights that were filled with dread, and for the worries I knew were ahead: No Charge.
  • For the toys, food, clothes, and even wiping your nose: No Charge,
  • Son. When you add it up, the cost of my love is: No Charge.
When the boy finished reading what his mother had written, there were big tears in his eyes, and he looked straight at his mother and said,
"Mom, I sure do love you".

And then he took the pen and in great big letters he wrote: "PAID IN FULL"
Self Improvement, Wisdom, Professionalism, Inspirational Stories, Positivity, Leadership, Management, Stress, Optimism and Peace, Productivity.
www.istockphoto.com

Here is a list of 15 things, which, if you give up on them, will make your life a lot easier and you'll feel much, much happier. We hold on to so many things that cause us a great deal of pain, stress and suffering and instead of letting them all go and allowing ourselves to be stress-free and happy, we cling on to them.

Self Improvement, Wisdom, Professionalism, Inspirational Stories, Positivity, Leadership, Management, Stress, Optimism and Peace, Productivity.



A young and successful
executive was traveling down a neighborhood street,
going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar.. He was
watching for kids darting out from between parked
cars and slowed down when he thought he saw
something.

As his car passed, no children appeared.
Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag's side door!
He slammed on the brakes and backed the Jag back to
the spot where the brick had been thrown.

The angry
driver then jumped out of the
car, grabbed the nearest kid and pushed him up
against a parked car shouting,

'What was that all about and who are you? Just what
the heck are you doing? That's a new car and that
brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why
did you do it?' The young boy was apologetic.
'Please, mister...please, I'm sorry but I didn't
know what else to do,' He pleaded. 'I threw the
brick because no one else would stop....' With tears
dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth
pointed to a spot just around a parked car.. 'It's my
brother, 'he said 'He rolled off the curb and fell
out of his wheelchair and I can't lift him
up.'

Now sobbing, the boy
asked the stunned executive, 'Would you please help
me get him back into his wheelchair? He's hurt and
he's too heavy for me.'

Moved beyond words,
the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling
lump in his throat... He hurriedly lifted the
handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took
out a linen handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh
scrapes and cuts. A quick look told him everything
was going to be okay. 'Thank you and may God bless
you,' the grateful child told the stranger. Too
shook up for words, the man simply watched the boy!
push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk
toward their home..


It was a long, slow
walk back to the Jaguar. The damage was very
noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair
the dented side door.

He kept the dent there to
remind him of this message: 'Don't go through life
so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to
get your attention!'
God whispers in our souls and

speaks to our hearts Sometimes when we don't have
time to listen, He has to throw a brick at us. It's
our choice to listen or
not.
Self Improvement, Wisdom, Professionalism, Inspirational Stories, Positivity, Leadership, Management, Stress, Optimism and Peace, Productivity.


First of all, understand discontentment. Discontent is caused by a constant multiplication of desires.
One desire leads to another until there's never a moment when you feel fulfilled.
Desires are like traps.
Because of endless desires relationships have become very fragile. There is a lot of irritability and anger due to:
• Selfish attachments (to possessions and people)
• Pride (attachment to a particular image of the self)
When there is discontentment, the heart can never be still & peaceful because wasteful, negative thoughts destroy peace.
Contentment is the result of spiritual awareness which allows you to recognize negativity. It changes your pattern of thinking. As you tap your huge inner potential, all desires are fulfilled and you regain your peace.
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Self Improvement, Wisdom, Professionalism, Inspirational Stories, Positivity, Leadership, Management, Stress, Optimism and Peace, Productivity.
​​


Staying Peaceful

Desires cause peace to disappear. You think that acquiring things will make you feel secure, but the reality is that the more you have the more fear there usually is of losing it, and the further you are from peace. Desires are the cause of all conflicts. When you want something and cannot get it you become frustrated.
Learning to be free from desires is learning how to stay peaceful
Self Improvement, Wisdom, Professionalism, Inspirational Stories, Positivity, Leadership, Management, Stress, Optimism and Peace, Productivity.
 
 
Over the last decade or so life has consistently been enriched because of more and more facilities, on-going gadgets inventions and day by day increment in luxuries. This is quite exciting however during the same period of time, people have increased their love for materialistic things abruptly which has directly or indirectly reduced their overall happiness index. Now a days, we have more luxuries but less delights and high stress levels. We have more sugar, blood and heart patients then it used to be a decade back. The reason for all the stress and anxiety is simple that we are not living a simple life.

Below are some tips which can simplify your life and may amplify the happiness scale of your life.

1-    Avoid getting influenced: You don't have to follow every single trend in society. If your friend has purchased a new BMW, you don't need to buy a Mercedes to impress. Live for yourself not for others. If you purchase a high-end luxury car today, your love for this will end soon and you will be selling it at considerable financial loss though I am not forbidding to purchase luxury things once in a considerable duration of time.
 
2-   Avoid impulse buying: You don't need to buy every single gadget instantly which you like in this shop. Do your Needs Vs Wants analysis. Buy only if it is really increasing your peace of mind. Remember that now a days the standard life of every gadget (phone, tablet, laptop, jewelry etc) is more or less 6 months because of new and new products release by several companies.
 

3-   The 6 months Rule: Generally speaking, anything which has not been used in last 6 months will not be used in next 6 months most likely. Give such things (shoes, garments, toys, mobiles, house hold items) in charity. This will help spreading happiness in society and reducing your space at home.
 

4-   Avoid Credit Cards Usage: Avoid this as much as you can. Debt is a silent stress and eating up your mental health slowly. Your brain might get old while you are young at heart. You might develop high BP or sugar because of stress due to credit. Live a credit-free life.
 

5-   Learn to say No: Don't accept every single attractive offer from the bank representative or a car loan company. Do your "Needs Vs Wants" analysis. Careful spending is always recommended.
 

6-   Reduce too much social gatherings: Stay at home. Spend quality time with your spouse and kids for empowered relationships. You don't have to say yes every time to your friend who is coming to pick you from home to join another late night social get together.
 

7-   Reduce your love for money: Careful spending and saving is important but don't allow your brain to keep doing the calculations all day long. You love for money is pulling your brain strings and damaging your peace of mind silently. Stay away from too much thoughts about your financials.
 

8-   Less TV more Books: It is proven that people who watch more movies generate high level of stress. Read quality books to learn wisdom and attain high degree of happiness.
 

9-   Spend time with Nature: Instead of going to cinemas and malls repeatedly, spend time in parks. This will relax your brain, body and soul.
 

10- Change your eating habits: why eating lavish foods by visiting costly restaurants again and again in a week. The purpose of food is to fill your belly for some hours. So the suggestion here is to go for simpler and healthier food. Remember, most of the food items in the market are fried which are increasing your cholesterol level silently hence making you a heart patient in the long run!


Work on your real wealth and live a happy life.
Self Improvement, Wisdom, Professionalism, Inspirational Stories, Positivity, Leadership, Management, Stress, Optimism and Peace, Productivity.


If your days seem filled with unwanted negative feelings, there is only one cure. When they come, choose them. Don't ask why, don't wonder how, don't fight them and never put yourself down for having them. But most of all never blame someone else for how you feel. If you do, it means you are still fast asleep and your choice is to be a victim.
Live life to the fullest
The Power of Purity
Welcome the Unexpected
 

When the feelings come, even big disturbing emotional feelings say, "I choose this feeling" and know it comes because of something you have thought or done in the past, perhaps a certain belief that you have learned or an attachment that is threatened.


6 Thinking Hats Technique for Innovation and Creativity
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The 7 Great Powers To Have
Winds of Change
Reactive and Response Modes
Choice does not mean you want the feelings, but it does mean you are taking responsibility for them. And that is the beginning of self mastery. It is the first step to the healing and resolving of your emotions. But only the first step. Try this today and then ask yourself what the next step might be. If you are really interested to know, you will come to know!
Source: Choose Feelings
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Protesters block traffic

By Rebecca Vallas and Melissa Boteach | Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Census Bureau released its annual income, poverty, and health insurance report yesterday, revealing that four years into the economic recovery, there has been some progress in the poverty rate as it fell from 15 percent in 2012 to 14.5 percent in 2013, but there was no statistically significant improvement in the number of Americans living in poverty. Furthermore, low- and middle-income workers have seen little to no income growth over the past decade, as the gains from economic growth have gone largely to the wealthiest Americans.

With flat incomes and inequality stuck at historically high levels, one might assume that chronic economic insecurity and an off-kilter economy are the new normal and that nothing can be done to fix it. But there is nothing normal or inevitable about elevated poverty levels and stagnant incomes. They are the direct result of policy choices that put wealth and income into the hands of a few at the expense of growing a strong middle class.

The good news is that different policy choices can bring different outcomes. When the government invests in jobs and policies to increase workers’ wages and families’ economic security, children and families see improved outcomes in both the short and long term.

Here are 10 steps Congress can take to cut poverty, boost economic security, and expand the middle class.

1. Create jobs

The best pathway out of poverty is a well-paying job. To get back to prerecession employment levels, we must create 5.6 million new jobs. At the current pace, however, we will not get there until July 2018. To kick-start job growth, the federal government should invest in job-creation strategies such as rebuilding our infrastructure; developing renewable energy sources; renovating abandoned housing; and making other common-sense investments that create jobs, revitalize neighborhoods, and boost our national economy. We should also build on proven models of subsidized employment to help the long-term unemployed and other disadvantaged workers re-enter the labor force.
In addition, the extension of federal unemployment insurance would have created 200,000 new jobs in 2014, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Indeed, every $1 in benefits that flows to jobless workers yields more than $1.50 in economic activity. Unfortunately, Congress failed to extend federal unemployment insurance at the end of 2013, leaving 1.3 million Americans and their families without this vital economic lifeline.

2. Raise the minimum wage

In the late 1960s, a full-time worker earning the minimum wage could lift a family of three out of poverty. Had the minimum wage back then been indexed to inflation, it would be $10.86 per hour today, compared to the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and indexing it to inflation—as President Barack Obama and several members of Congress have called for—would lift more than 4 million Americans out of poverty. Nearly one in five children would see their parent get a raise. Recent action taken by cities and states—such as Seattle, Washington; California; Connecticut; and New Jersey—shows that boosting the minimum wage reduces poverty and increases wages.

3. Increase the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless workers

One of our nation’s most effective anti-poverty tools, the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, helped more than 6.5 million Americans—including 3.3 million children—avoid poverty in 2012. It’s also an investment that pays long-term dividends. Children who receive the EITC are more likely to graduate high school and to have higher earnings in adulthood. Yet childless workers largely miss out on the benefit, as the maximum EITC for these workers is less than one-tenth that awarded to workers with two children.
President Obama and policymakers across the political spectrum have called for boosting the EITC in order to right this wrong. Importantly, this policy change should be combined with a hike in the minimum wage; one is not a substitute for the other.

4. Support pay equity

With female full-time workers earning just 78 cents for every $1 earned by men, action must be taken to ensure equal pay for equal work. Closing the gender wage gap would cut poverty in half for working women and their families and add nearly half a trillion dollars to the nation’s gross domestic product. Passing the Paycheck Fairness Act to hold employers accountable for discriminatory salary practices would be a key first step.

5. Provide paid leave and paid sick days

The United States is the only developed country in the world without paid family and medical leave and paid sick days, making it very difficult for millions of American families to balance work and family without having to sacrifice needed income. Paid leave is an important anti-poverty policy, as having a child is one of the leading causes of economic hardship. Additionally, nearly 4 in 10 private-sector workers—and 7 in 10 low-wage workers—do not have a single paid sick day, putting them in the impossible position of having to forgo needed income, or even their job, in order to care for a sick child. The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, or FAMILY Act, would provide paid leave protection to workers who need to take time off due to their own illness, the illness of a family member, or the birth of a child. And the Healthy Families Act would enable workers to earn up to seven job-protected sick days per year.

6. Establish work schedules that work

Low-wage and hourly jobs increasingly come with unpredictable and constantly shifting work schedules, which means workers struggle even more to balance erratic work hours with caring for their families. Ever-changing work schedules make accessing child care even more difficult than it already is and leave workers uncertain about their monthly income. Furthermore, things many of us take for granted—such as scheduling a doctor’s appointment or a parent-teacher conference at school—become herculean tasks. The Schedules That Work Act would require two weeks’ advance notice of worker schedules, which would allow employees to request needed schedule changes. It would also protect them from retaliation for making such requests—and provide guaranteed pay for cancelled or shortened shifts. These are all important first steps to make balancing work and family possible.

7. Invest in affordable, high-quality child care and early education

The lack of affordable, high-quality child care serves as a major barrier to reaching the middle class. In fact, one year of child care for an infant costs more than one year of tuition at most states’ four-year public colleges. On average, poor families who pay out of pocket for child care spend one-third of their incomes just to be able to work. Furthermore, federal child care assistance reaches only one in six eligible children.
Boosting investments in Head Start and the Child Care and Development Block Grant, as well as passing the Strong Start for America’s Children Act—which would invest in preschool, high-quality child care for infants and toddlers, and home-visiting services for pregnant women and mothers with infants—will help more struggling families obtain the child care they need in order to work and improve the future economic mobility of America’s children.

8. Expand Medicaid

Since it was signed into law in 2010, the Affordable Care Act has expanded access to high-quality, affordable health coverage for millions of Americans. However, 23 states continue to refuse to expand their Medicaid programs to cover adults up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level—making the lives of many families on the brink much harder. Expanding Medicaid would mean more than just access to health care—it would free up limited household income for other basic needs such as paying rent and putting food on the table. Having health coverage is also an important buffer against the economic consequences of illness and injury; unpaid medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy. Studies link Medicaid coverage not only to improved health, improved access to health care services, and lower mortality rates, but also to reduced financial strain.

9. Reform the criminal justice system and enact policies that support successful re-entry

The United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country in the world. Today, more than 1.5 million Americans are behind bars in state and federal prisons, a figure that has increased fivefold since 1980. The impact on communities of color is particularly staggering: One in four African American children who grew up during this era of mass incarceration have had a parent incarcerated.
Mass incarceration is a key driver of poverty. When a parent is incarcerated, his or her family must find a way to make ends meet without a necessary source of income Additionally, even a minor criminal record comes with significant collateral consequences that can serve as lifelong barriers to climbing out of poverty. For example, people with criminal records face substantial barriers to employment, housing, education, public assistance, and building good credit. More than 90 percent of employers now use background checks in hiring, and even an arrest without a conviction can prevent an individual from getting a job. The “one strike and you’re out” policy used by public housing authorities makes it difficult if not impossible for individuals with even decades-old criminal records to obtain housing, which can stand in the way of family reunification. Furthermore, a lifetime ban—for individuals with felony drug convictions—on receiving certain types of public assistance persists in more than half of U.S. states, making subsistence even more difficult for individuals seeking to regain their footing, and their families.
In addition to common-sense sentencing reform to ensure that we no longer fill our nation’s prisons with nonviolent, low-level offenders, policymakers should explore alternatives to incarceration, such as diversion programs for individuals with mental health and substance abuse challenges. We must also remove barriers to employment, housing, education, and public assistance. A decades-old criminal record should not consign an individual to a life of poverty.

10. Do no harm

The across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration—which took effect in 2013—slashed funding for programs and services that provide vital support to low-income families. Sequestration cost the U.S. economy as many as 1.6 million jobs between mid-2013 and 2014. Some relief was provided this January, when Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014, but many important tools to help low-income individuals and families pave a path to the middle class—such as adult and youth education and training programs, child welfare, and community development programs—were on a downward funding trend even before sequestration took effect.
As Congress considers a continuing resolution to fund the federal government past October 1 and avoid another government shutdown, it should reject further cuts to programs and services such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, which provides vital nutrition assistance to pregnant women and mothers with new babies. Thereafter, Congress should make permanent the important improvements made to the EITC and the Child Tax Credit as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which are set to expire in 2017. And it should avoid additional cuts to vital programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, which suffered two rounds of deep cuts in 2013 and 2014.

Conclusion

It is possible for America to dramatically cut poverty. Between 1959 and 1973, a strong economy, investments in family economic security, and new civil rights protections helped cut the U.S. poverty rate in half. Investments in nutrition assistance have improved educational attainment, earnings, and income among the young girls who were some of the food stamp program’s first recipients. Expansions of public health insurance have lowered infant mortality rates and reduced the incidence of low birth rates. In more recent history, states that raised the minimum wage have illustrated the important role that policy plays in combating wage stagnation.

There is nothing inevitable about poverty. We just need to build the political will to enact the policies that will increase economic security, expand opportunities, and grow the middle class.

Rebecca Vallas is the Associate Director of the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the Center for American Progress. Melissa Boteach is the Vice President of Half in Ten and the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the Center.
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