16 Things That Make Life Better

Photo by Geoff McKay

Written by Raymond Salas

16 Things That Make Life Better

Here's my updated list of 16 things that make life better:

Prince Ea

Prince Ea is a twenty-something poet and filmmaker from St. Louis, Missouri. He creates short, yet powerful spoken word films on a diverse range of topics including environmentalism, work-life balance, and spirituality. His work has received over 500+ million views on YouTube and Facebook. 

One of my favorites is "Everybody Dies, But Not Everybody Lives."

Others include:
- Why I Got Rid of Most of My Friends
- Working to Live or Living to Work?

"Make It Count" by Casey Neistat 

Nike hired Casey Neistat to make a movie about what it means to "make it count." Instead of making just a normal commercial, he took their money and over the next ten days, he traveled around world filming his adventures and redefining what it truly means to make life count. The inspiring video has nearly 25 million views on YouTube (as of February 2017).

"Make It Count"

"Caine's Arcade"

"Caine's Arcade" is a short 11-minute documentary about a 9-year-old boy's handmade cardboard arcade in the back of his father's auto parts store in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles and his dream of having customers. A local filmmaker Nirvan Mullick happened to stop by the auto parts store one day and saw the arcade. He was impressed with Caine's great attention to detail, ingenuity, and imagination. Upon learning that he was Caine's first and only customer, he became inspired to make a short film about Caine and his arcade. The film went viral and received over 10 million views worldwide. As part of the film, Nirvan set up a college scholarship fund for Caine which has raised over $240,000 to date. 

"Caine's Arcade"

"The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life"

"The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life" is an Academy Award-winning documentary short subject film about Alice Herz-Sommer, a German-speaking Jewish pianist from Prague who, at the time of her death in 2014, was the world's oldest Holocaust survivor at 110 years of age. In this compelling film, she embodies and discusses the power of music, laughter, and having an optimistic outlook on life. 

"Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory"

"Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory" is an award-winning documentary showing the power of music and how it can help relieve the suffering of people with dementia and Alzheimer's disease. By simply placing headphones on patients and playing some of their favorite music from the past, we watch as they come to life and become very expressive, even recalling distant memories. It is a very inspirational film that captures many amazing transformations, providing hope and greater possibilities for those challenged, trapped, and isolated within themselves by these conditions.

"Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory"

Verilux full-spectrum lighting

While working in an office with fluorescent lighting, I noticed that I began to feel moody and lethargic, without knowing exactly why. I thought that it might be the lighting. I did some research and found the healthy lighting company Verilux. They have been making lighting products for over 50 years that are engineered specifically to produce a patented form of full-spectrum light that effectively mimics natural daylight. The result is improved vision, less eyestrain, reduced fatigue, enhanced clarity, truer colors, and greater contrast. I felt better almost immediately, literally within minutes of switching to their lighting products. I was truly amazed!

Verilux full-spectrum lighting

Pretty Frank

After using a deodorant crystal daily for many years, I learned that although these crystal stones don't have the forms of aluminum widely used in antiperspirants and deodorants, they do have a form known as potassium alum or potassium aluminum sulfate. As a result, I began my quest for a natural deodorant that was not only free of this known neurotoxin aluminum in any form, but also worked. After a lot of trial and error without any success, I tried a product called "Pretty Frank" and my search was over. Victory! 

Amy Cazin, a certified CrossFit trainer, athlete, and mother, created Pretty Frank after her daughter began having body odor at a very young age. She did not want to subject her daughter to the harsh chemicals found in the leading, most popular deodorants. Instead, she wanted to find a healthy, natural alternative that worked. Ultimately, she never found what she was looking for, so she created it. And, Pretty Frank was born. 

"Pretty Frank" was originally named "Primal Pit Paste."

Pretty Frank

standing desk

In 2012, the NY Times reported the results of two studies that concluded that “the more time someone spends sitting, especially in front of the television, the shorter and less robust his or her life may be.” 

After further research, I found that there is a growing number of people using a standing desk, which as its name implies, is a desk that you use while standing up. 

There are many types and styles to choose from. After some deliberation, I decided on a standing desk that can be placed on top of my existing desk. This gives me the option of standing when I want to stand and sitting when I want to sit.

I chose the Varidesk Pro 30 model, which is well built and very easy to use.

After using it daily for over a year now, I can report feeling more energy, clearer thinking and focus, and better circulation. I highly recommend it.

Varidesk standing desk

I also strongly recommend standing on an anti-fatigue mat whenever 
using a standing desk

Topo Standing Desk Anti-Fatigue Mat 


While growing up, my paternal grandmother always put cinnamon in her coffee...old school Mexican-style. I was always intrigued by this. Eventually, as an adult, I tried it for myself. Wow! Not only is it delicious, but I felt energized and clear-minded afterwards. What's in this stuff?

Well, it turns out that research and studies have found, among other things, that cinnamon can help:

- blood sugar control
- alertness, memory, and cognitive development
- lower LDL cholesterol
- prevent stomach bug / flu
- slow Alzheimer’s disease 

Bulletproof coffee

Dave Aspery, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and multimillionaire, discovered while hiking in the Himalayas that adding yak butter to tea gave him energy and made him more focused, even at high altitudes. After researching, experimenting, meeting with cutting-edge doctors and scientists, and investing almost $300,000 of his own money over the next 15 years, he came up with what he calls “Bulletproof coffee” -- 16 oz. of brewed mycotoxin-free coffee, 1-2 tbsp of MCT oil (a mix of coconut oil and palm oil with the lauric acid removed), and 1-2 tbsp of unsalted grass-fed butter or ghee all mixed together in a high-speed blender for 15-30 seconds.

On the surface “Bulletproof coffee” sounds disgusting, but I found it to be...well, kind of awesome. I’ll be the first to say that it actually tastes good. Next, I noticed that it gave me a lot of energy, without making me jittery. My brain felt like it was functioning at a very high level, with my metabolism and blood sugar balanced the entire day. Surprisingly, after drinking it for a couple of weeks, I noticed that my pants started to feel looser around the waist. I spoke to a few others who experienced the same thing. Wow!

Bulletproof Coffee

Tabata workout

After looking for a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout that I could do in about 10 minutes, I discovered Tabata, which was created by Dr. Izumi Tabata for Olympic athletes in Japan. Basically, it consists of 20 seconds of ultra-intense exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This cycle is repeated 8 times without stopping. Although short in duration, research has proven that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts have significant aerobic, metabolic, and cardiovascular benefits.

Here’s the basic Tabata workout routine I follow (3x/week):

Tabata workout

reducing grain intake

With the popularity of the Paleo diet and best-selling books Grain Brainand “Wheat Belly,” many have discovered the many benefits in reducing or eliminating gluten and grains from their diets. Even though I had already significantly reduced my gluten intake with great results, I still consumed a lot of brown rice. So, I decided to try reducing my daily grain intake to see what happens. The results? I noticed improved energy level and mood, reduction of brain fogginess, and the balancing of my blood sugar levels. 

pumpkin seeds 

I started consuming organic pumpkin seeds almost daily, primarily because they're a quick, easy, and delicious snack. As an added bonus...pumpkin seeds' benefits include: 

- heart healthy magnesium
- zinc for immune support
- plant-based omega 3 fats
- improved prostate health
- anti-diabetic effects
- benefits for postmenopausal women
- heart and liver health
- tryptophan for restful sleep
- anti-inflammatory benefits

Ion Me wristband 

If you are a sports fan, you may have noticed many professional athletes wearing colorful wristbands during their games. These bands incorporate negative ion technology which proponents say improve the strength, balance, flexibility, and energy of the wearer. After researching many wristbands, I chose the Ion Me brand which has some of the highest levels of negative ions. After I started wearing it, I noticed a definite improvement while playing sports, exercising, and staying balanced throughout the day.

Ion Me wristband

Brushing Rinse

Brushing Rinse is an oral rinse developed by Mystica Linforth, after she received a diagnosis of advanced periodontal disease. After researching many options, she began brushing her teeth with a combination of food-grade hydrogen peroxide, aloe vera, and potent essential oils. With regular use, her teeth turned whiter, her gums stopped bleeding and receding, tartar significantly reduced, and her teeth were no longer sensitive. Her Brushing Rinse is also very helpful for “morning mouth” and keeping your teeth clean throughout the day.

Essential Oxygen Brushing Rinse

sleep mask

Fortunately, I’ve never had any problems sleeping or falling asleep. But, after noticing the light coming through my bedroom window and blinds every night from the street lights outside, I started experimenting with using a sleep mask, which is designed to block out light, create a state of darkness, and induce the production of melatonin, the sleep chemical in the brain. Immediately, I noticed that I fell asleep easier and slept deeper. How did I not know about this?