Top Ten || December

Here are ten things I'm loving this month that will help you move the needle.

1) This video from Ann Voskamp, "Known By Our Gratitude"

Please, I beg you. Watch or listen to this video. I wanted to pump my fist in the air while it played in a Starbucks. "If we aren't the people known for thanking God, maybe we aren't thinking enough of God." This ten-minute speech Ann Voskamp gave at a Q Conference will inspire you to pick up a pen and start writing things you're thankful for. It's a practice I picked up this year, and it's been transformational in helping me have a more optimistic and grateful outlook on life. "When you are radically grateful for what you have, you will go to radical lengths to share it." Whoa. High five to Peter Greer for sharing this with the HOPE International staff.

2) "Manipulation" from TED Radio Hour

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What happens when a small list of companies are focused on keeping billions of people's attention? Tristan Harris explores this question during the episode's first segment, a truncated version of this TED Talk he presented. "...In the 1970s, when you were just gossipping on the telephone, there weren't hundreds of engineers on the other side of the screen who knew exactly how your physchology worked...," he says. Also in this episode: How do we know what's true in the age of "fake news?" How can our memories be manipulated? If we can erase memories, should we? Yup, this is a fascinating way to spend time.

3) Easy Gifts for $30, $50, $100, and $200 from Wirecutter

If you're getting antsy about not having a specific gift for a specific person (just one week until Christmas!), have no fear--Wirecutter is here to help. First of all, Wirecutter is an amazing site built on recommending great products through a thorough review process. They've created a resource for those of us with people still on our Christmas lists in need of presents by organizing great ideas by cost.

4) Tribe of Mentors: Most Impactful Purchases of $100 or Less from Tim Ferriss

If you still haven't found what you're looking for, here's another great resource for those of you on the hunt for the perfect gift. Tim asked leaders to share the most impactful thing they've bought for under a hundred bucks, and he put some of their answers in this blog post.

5) Hoka One One running shoes

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I got a pair of Hokas for my birthday, and I don't think I'll ever run in any other brand again. My morning run now feels like I'm floating on clouds (with a lot more sweat). The soles might look a little crazy, but they create an incredible experience. Beware, these bad boys come with a steep price tag. I found my size in a specific color on sale, though. The way I look at it: what seems to be a lot now for running shoes I love is better than astronomical medical bills incurred due to an inactive lifestyle later. Especially when those shoes come as a birthday present.

6) Candy Cane Coffee from Target

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What was life like before candy cane coffee? I'm having a hard time remembering. This stuff is liquid gold, an elixir of goodness helping consumers experience one or more of the following symptoms: increased Christmas spirit, greater satisfaction in life, happy taste buds, and/or a more optimistic outlook on the future. With Christmas just around the corner, I recommend you get in your car and drive to Target right now to buy this and watch what happens.

7) A Brave Big Sister: A Bible Story About Miriam by Rachel Spier Weaver, Anna Haggard, and Illustrated by Eric Elwell

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Rachel Spier Weaver is one of my colleagues at HOPE International. She and this team put together a powerful and beautiful book documenting Miriam's story. This is the inaugural book in a series meant to teach children about incredible women in the Bible. Eric Elwell provides masterful illustrations, the writing is sharp, and your entire family will close the book inspired by one of the Old Testament's heroes. I can't wait for what's next.

8) Dymo label maker

"What's in this box again?" is a question you never have to ask again after you get yourself a label maker. I've been going a little label crazy this month and am loving it. The little things you can do to eliminate grey areas in your life go a long way to provide mental clarity. When you step into a closet, a label maker helps you know exactly what and where everything is in the space. Another great use? Labeling all your hanging file folders in a uniform and efficient way.

9) Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life...And Maybe the World by William H. McRaven

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I knocked this short book out on an hour-and-a-half flight. It's quick and packs a mean punch. William McRaven served as a Navy SEAL and translates his experiences into simple lessons for life. The book is based on a commencement speech he delivered at my alma mater, the (great) University of Texas, and will both inspire and challenge you to live with greater intentionality.

10) Field Notes notebooks

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These little notebooks are durable, fit in my pocket, and provide a great place to go with ideas or things to remember when I'm out and about. They serve as a compliment to my larger notebook I use at home and typically carry in my backpack. When you choose to be a student of the world, it's amazing how much you can be transformed if you start to write more observations down. I love my phone and use it for many things, but a great supplementary tool is a Field Notes notebook (although any small notebook will do just fine).