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The Important of Purpose

Research shows that having a strong sense of purpose could significantly benefit our health and promote longevity. In fact the research is so consistent and significant that we cannot but pay attention to it.

Randy Cohen, a medical director of University Medical Practice Associates at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York City reviewed data from ten studies involving 136,000 men and women to see the importance of purpose. It was found that people with a low sense of purpose, as measured by psychological surveys, were more likely to have a stroke, heart attack, or coronary artery disease requiring a stent or bypass surgery, whilst people with a high sense of purpose were less likely to have the same conditions

The findings also showed a 23 percent reduction in mortality and a 19 percent reduction in cardiovascular events among people with a sense of purpose. “What was so remarkable was that regardless of the country where the study was conducted, regardless of how purpose in life was defined, the effect was consistent,”

In 2014 a study found that people over age 65 who had a higher personal sense of purpose and well being were more likely to live longer. 9,000 participants were followed over an 8 ½-year period. The results showed that 9 percent of those in the highest well-being category died as compared to 29 percent in the lowest category.

In addition, according to Patricia A. Boyle, PhD, a neuropsychologist at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Centre, “Purpose gives your brain resilience. It makes your brain stronger and more resistant to the effects of diseases like Alzheimer’s.”

According to four studies in the Rush Memory and Aging Project, participants who scored higher on the purpose scale were:

  • 29 percent less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment (MCI)
  • 52 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer's Disease (AD)
  • 2 ½ times more likely to be free of dementia
  • 44 percent less likely to have a stroke
  • 52.3 percent less likely to have microscopic blood vessel infarcts that damage brain tissue

With statistics like these it would be wise to pay attention to the importance of having a sense of purpose in our lives!

So what is purpose?

Purpose is essentially a feeling of meaning, a feeling that we are making a difference and that we have something to get up for. Admittedly we all love a break but if we consider the research, taking too much time out or doing nothing purposeful can be unhealthy, and having worked with thousands of people over the last few years, I have to agree. Lack of purpose can be devastating to some people. We need stimulation, we need to be challenged and stretched. We were not born to be stagnant.

Tips for getting a sense of purpose.

  • Identify your individual qualities, skills and talents. You have many, even if you think you don’t. Just take a few minutes and write them down. You could ask people you trust for their input too!
  • Ask yourself how you can make a difference in the world using your individual qualities, skills and talents. There are many people looking for what you offer! Listen to what they are saying and looking for. What’s the gap that people need to be fulfilled? Fill it!
  • Become part of something bigger than yourself, whether that is a community, group or organisation etc. They can offer many roles that you might like to be part of.
  • Volunteer your services or time to someone who needs it - a charity, school, neighbour or the elderly, for example.
  • Get creative! Making something, drawing, gardening, cooking, baking, etc. allows you to see the produce of your efforts, something you can be proud of.
  • Learn something new. Take a class or join a course. Your brain loves stimulation and will thank you for it.
  • At the end of each day, review which activities have been "life-giving” and made you feel good. Become grateful and right them down.
  • Get out and experience life!

In the fast paced society in which we live it is easy to feel uncomfortable with ourselves, our lives and our achievements. Every day we are bombarded on social media by images of “the perfect life”, which can easily make ours look less than adequate. The perfect Christmas family gathering, the perfect holiday, the perfect body, the perfect relationship – is it any wonder so many people feel inadequate? When we compare our lives to what people put on social media, it’s easy to feel that we don’t measure up, but if we are to feel comfortable with ourselves, the comparisons need to stop.

When you're truly comfortable with yourself, you don't feel the need for comparisons, and you don't feel the need to do things simply to impress others. You accept yourself for the unique person you are, and let’s face it there is not one single person on the planet the same as you (even if you are an identical twin) so that makes you unique and very special. In that light, to compare ourselves to someone else is like comparing a rose and an orange – they are not and will never be the same. You are not and will not ever be the same as anyone else so why compare, especially to “portrayed perfection”? You are good enough just as you are and your life is worthwhile, regardless of what is put in front of you. The key is to get to know yourself and feel comfortable with who you are so you'll be less likely to feel shaken by what other people are doing.

Here are 4 things you can do to feel more comfortable with yourself.

Embrace Your Unique Personality

As babies we allow ourselves to just be. For example, when a baby decides to walk instead of crawl, they do not compare themselves to other little walkers. They just go for what they want regardless of how their peers are doing. However, as we age, we become conditioned by those around us. If we speak loudly we are told to be quiet, if we step out of line, we are told to get back in line, if we don’t get full marks in our exams, we get a big fat red X on our page etc. We learn that to be good enough we must perform to certain standards and doubt ourselves. This is not useful but it is an inevitable fact of life. What’s more babies and children tend to accept everything they are told as truth so the “doubt yourself” mentality becomes a normal way of life. It is essential therefore that from now on you consciously stop the process of doubt. Do not just allow it to run as the habit it may have become. Intervene as an adult! If you find yourself doubting yourself, comparing or criticising yourself, stop and correct yourself into a better habit in a positive way. Affirm your natural state of being good enough and remind yourself that you have a unique personality. Then think of three nice things about yourself (write them down if you need to). By challenging the process of doubt, your brain will begin to change your habit into something better. This needs to be done every time you engage in comparison thinking until it feels comfortable to be yourself. An even more effective way to intervene is to wear an elastic band on your wrist for a full 48 hours and any time you think in a way that isn’t useful, snap the elastic band against your wrist, stop, refocus, and affirm something positive about yourself. Try it and watch how quick your brain catches on!

 

Take Care of Yourself and Allow for Balance

Take the pressure off. You do not need to be busy or high-energy all of the time! Everyone needs a rest to recharge and create mind space, even the “superwomen multi-taskers”. Nobody can be in full flight 24-7, even if some portray they can. Our bodies are not designed for constant on-mode. Our bodies are designed to fluctuate between being energised and rested. Therefore, you can be comfortable in the knowledge that you don’t need to be energetic or happy all the time to be good enough. If you have an off day, so what! In fact, “doing it all, all of the time” is not useful or productive for you or anyone. Delegate what you don’t feel able to do or ask for help if you need it. You are human! We all need a helping hand.

Take care of your needs, not just everyone else’s. The reality is when you take care of yourself, you are stronger and have more emotional availability for others and it ultimately makes everyone happier. It also makes it easier to feel good about who you are, so, what do you need more or less of to have a more balanced life that you can enjoy? Make it a priority.

Do you need more alone time? Do you need more adult company? Do you need more activity? Do you need to learn something new? Whatever it is for you, do it! Take one small step each day to bring about what you need.

 

Embrace Your Body

I wonder how happy we would be without mirrors and cameras. Wouldn’t it be interesting “not to know” what we look like and just to live without comparing each other’s bodies? We wouldn’t have a “perfect body” type or a “perfect face type” so we could all just live as we are naturally. If only. The truth is, there is a ridiculously unhealthy societal pressure, especially on women, to be “beautiful” But on a real level, we are not robots moulded in a factory so why try to mould ourselves into societal perfection. Does it ever make us happy? No! Our focus should be on health so we can feel good and pain free, not on appearance or unhealthy restrictions. After all, underneath we are all the same, simple souls in bodies that will eventually disappear, so why not enjoy LIVING instead of moulding? Throw out the diet pills, stop counting points, and just embrace your wobbly bits. Time is ticking so LIVE! You are good enough just as you are. If you need to be healthier to give you more freedom and energy, by all means get healthier but embrace your unique self. Be happy being you.

Do What Makes You Happy

One way to figure out what you’re really about is to do different things and see how they make you feel. If they make you feel bad or “stale” don’t do them. If they make you feel good, do more of that, regardless of what others think. I know people who like woodwork and it’s not my thing. Does that mean either of us is better or worse than the other? Of course not, it just makes us different, which is a good thing. People only laugh at or criticise what others do or like, if they are insecure with themselves. So dance that Tweety Bird dance if you want to, knit socks for your dog if you want to, and get married on top of a plane if you want to. Get comfortable with what you like and let others get comfortable with what they like. Embrace it all as being the spice you add to life. Embrace being the naturally beautiful person you are! And you are! xxx

4 things you can do to feel more comfortable with yourself.

In the fast paced society in which we live it is easy to feel uncomfortable with ourselves, our lives and our achievements. Every day we are bombarded on social media by images of “the perfect life”, which can easily make ours look less than adequate. The perfect Christmas family gathering, the perfect holiday, the perfect body, the perfect relationship – is it any wonder so many people feel inadequate? When we compare our lives to what people put on social media, it’s easy to feel that we don’t measure up, but if we are to feel comfortable with ourselves, the comparisons need to stop.

When you're truly comfortable with yourself, you don't feel the need for comparisons, and you don't feel the need to do things simply to impress others. You accept yourself for the unique person you are, and let’s face it there is not one single person on the planet the same as you (even if you are an identical twin) so that makes you unique and very special. In that light, to compare ourselves to someone else is like comparing a rose and an orange – they are not and will never be the same. You are not and will not ever be the same as anyone else so why compare, especially to “portrayed perfection”? You are good enough just as you are and your life is worthwhile, regardless of what is put in front of you. The key is to get to know yourself and feel comfortable with who you are so you'll be less likely to feel shaken by what other people are doing.

Here are 4 things you can do to feel more comfortable with yourself.

Embrace Your Unique Personality

As babies we allow ourselves to just be. For example, when a baby decides to walk instead of crawl, they do not compare themselves to other little walkers. They just go for what they want regardless of how their peers are doing. However, as we age, we become conditioned by those around us. If we speak loudly we are told to be quiet, if we step out of line, we are told to get back in line, if we don’t get full marks in our exams, we get a big fat red X on our page etc. We learn that to be good enough we must perform to certain standards and doubt ourselves. This is not useful but it is an inevitable fact of life. What’s more babies and children tend to accept everything they are told as truth so the “doubt yourself” mentality becomes a normal way of life. It is essential therefore that from now on you consciously stop the process of doubt. Do not just allow it to run as the habit it may have become. Intervene as an adult! If you find yourself doubting yourself, comparing or criticising yourself, stop and correct yourself into a better habit in a positive way. Affirm your natural state of being good enough and that you have a unique personality. Then think of three nice things about yourself (write them down if you need to). By challenging the process of doubt, your brain will begin to change your habit into something better. This needs to be done every time you engage in comparison thinking until it feels comfortable to be yourself. An even more effective way to intervene is to wear an elastic band on your wrist for a full 48 hours and any time you think in a way that isn’t useful, snap the elastic band against your wrist, stop, refocus, and affirm something positive about yourself. Try it and watch how quick your brain catches on!

 

Take Care of Yourself and Allow for Balance

Take the pressure off. You do not need to be busy or high-energy all of the time! Everyone needs a rest to recharge and create mind space, even the “superwomen multi-taskers”. Nobody can be in full flight 24-7, even if some portray they can. Our bodies are not designed for constant on-mode. Our bodies are designed to fluctuate between being energised and rested. Therefore, you can be comfortable in the knowledge that you don’t need to be energetic or happy all the time to be good enough. If you have an off day, so what! In fact, “doing it all, all of the time” is not useful or productive for you or anyone. Delegate what you don’t feel able to do or ask for help if you need it. You are human! We all need a helping hand.

Take care of your needs, not just everyone else’s. The reality is when you take care of yourself, you are stronger and have more emotional availability for others and it ultimately makes everyone happier. It also makes it easier to feel good about who you are, so, what do you need more or less of to have a more balanced life that you can enjoy? Make it a priority.

Do you need more alone time? Do you need more adult company? Do you need more activity? Do you need to learn something new? Whatever it is for you, do it!

 

Embrace Your Body

I wonder how happy we would be without mirrors and cameras. Wouldn’t it be interesting “not to know” what we look like and just to live without comparing each other’s bodies? We wouldn’t have a “perfect body” type or a “perfect face type” so we could all just live as we are naturally. If only. The truth is, there is a ridiculously unhealthy societal pressure, especially on women, to be “beautiful” But on a real level, we are not robots moulded in a factory so why try to mould ourselves into societal perfection. Does it ever make us happy? No! Our focus should be on health so we can feel good and pain free, not on appearance or unhealthy restrictions. After all, underneath we are all the same, simple souls in bodies that will eventually disappear, so why not enjoy LIVING instead of moulding? Throw out the diet pills, stop counting points, and just embrace your wobbly bits. Time is ticking so LIVE! You are good enough just as you are. If you need to be healthier to give you more freedom and energy, by all means get healthier but embrace your unique self. Be happy being you.

Do What Makes You Happy

One way to figure out what you’re really about is to do different things and see how they make you feel. If they make you feel bad or “stale” don’t do them. If they make you feel good, do more of that, regardless of what others think. I know people who like woodwork and it’s not my thing. Does that mean either of us is better or worse than the other? Of course not, it just makes us different, which is a good thing. People only laugh at or criticise what others do or like, if they are insecure with themselves. So dance that Tweety Bird dance if you want to, knit socks for your dog if you want to, and get married on top of a plane if you want to. Get comfortable with what you like and let others get comfortable with what they like. Embrace it all as being the spice you add to life. Embrace being the naturally beautiful person you are!

At one point in my life I was afraid to cross the road on my own, feeling afraid of everything and everyone. I felt useless and self-criticism was as familiar to me as breathing. Fast forward to now, I am a confident happy woman who loves life and speaks on stage in front of thousands of people every year.

So how did I bridge the gap between having no confidence and having lots of it? Below are some tips.

  • Realise. After years of struggle, I came to realise that confidence is not actually something anyone can ever have. Like happiness and success, people chase confidence but, the truth is, confidence is not something we can ever have. It does not exist as a concrete entity; it is a moment to moment feeling that we actually have control over when we have specific knowledge and skills. Please don’t wait for confidence before you decide to live life fully. The “wait-and-see-someday” approach only leads to misery. You must empower yourself by taking ownership of how you feel and do what it takes to get the result you want. As a child did you wait for confidence before you decided to to walk or talk? Of course not, because as children we don’t entertain self-doubt. We just “do” and with practice, confidence follows. The first step to becoming more confident is to decide, commit and practice, even if you don't believe you can do it. It might be difficult at the beginning but with time and practice it gets easier and becomes your new way of living.
  • Let go of labels. “I am a worrier”, I have anxiety” “I have a condition” etc, - we have become a society of disempowering labels. It has almost become normal to label ourselves with conditions and identify ourselves as challenge. The fact is, YOU are NOT your challenge, you are YOU! If you want to feel better, you must separate your challenge from your identity. And that is as straightforward as a decision with commitment. Make a decision to become greater than your challenge! Be a victor, not a victim.
  • Decide what you want and commit to it. See yourself how you would like to be. Understand that you do not have to reach your bigger picture straight away. To achieve anything worthwhile, it’s better to do it in small manageable steps. Extraordinary things are achieved by doing lots of ordinary things often and doing them well.
  • Create your action step plan and break it down into chunks of time as follows:

-       In order for you to achieve your one year goal what would you have to have done six months from now?

-       In order for you to achieve your six month goal what would you have to have done three months from now?

-       In order for you to achieve your three month goal what would you have to have done one month from now?

-       In order for you to achieve your one month goal what would you have to have done one week from now?

-       In order for you to achieve your one week goal what do you need to do TODAY?

Then focus on your DAILY ACTIONS!

  • Create and Maintain Balance. If you are to feel truly confident long-term, you must create and maintain balance in your life. For example, some people put too much their focus into career with the result of compromising their relationship. Some people put too much focus into achieving, only to realise they have no friends etc. Imbalance inany area of your life will directly impact other areas. The key is to identify what areas need improving first andmost and then creating the plan. 
  • Identify and Be True to Your Core Values. It is easy for our confidence to wane if we find ourselves in situations of conflict or put-down. We enter into the blame game, either of ourselves or others. But the truth is, conflicts are rarely created due to a person being bad, they are created due to a value mismatch. For example, imagine that two individually lovely people are in a relationship. We would expect them to get on well, right? But they don’t! If values mismatch, no matter how nice either person is, there will always be conflict and insecurity within that, if challenged. For example, imagine my most important value is family and my partner’s most important value is freedom. I get invited to my father’s birthday party and really want to attend. However, on the same day, there is a football final and my partner wants to watch it. The conflict starts and we fight. What we see here, is not two people suddenly not being good people, it is a clear value mismatch. That said, if we find ourselves in conflict, don’t automatically blame. Understand that there may be a value-mismatch and look at finding ways for accommodating all values. This applies to family relationships, friendships and working relationships.
  • Understand that you are good enough. There is not one single person on the planet the same as you, even if you are an identical twin. You are unique and that is a great thing. Don’t be a second rate someone else, be the best YOU!

Donna xxx

Kindness is a word everyone understands but not something that everyone practices often. This is usually because life gets in the way. We live in a fast paced society so it’s easy for us to get distracted and to forget the importance of kindness. However, the simplest act of kindness has the ability to change someone’s life, even if we don’t see it immediately.  Please consciously create a habit of kindness by using this free Women's Empowerment Summit Kindness Calendar. Simply click the drop down arrow to the right of the article to print, Then share this article link so others can do the same. 

Should You Follow Your Heart or Your Head?

You've probably heard it so many times "Follow your heart". It’s a common advisory phrase that we have all received or given at some point when deciding about a relationship, a career, a place to live, what to do in a current situation or a possible future situation. "Follow your heart" essentially means "do what feels right".

On the surface following your heart seems like a great idea. It seems like the most natural thing to do because we are by our very nature driven by our emotions. However, the tough bit about following your heart is that sometimes your heart can take you to places you shouldn't be and because feelings are faster than logic, it can take you to that place very quickly. The heart does not come from a place of logic or reason. Its purpose is to love, and it draws to us the people and things we desire, not necessarily those that will lead to a better life.

On the flip side, your brain has for the most part been programmed by your environment over time and it is based on a belief system, a belief system that most of us were too young to make a choice in whether to accept or not. This can lead to making choices that are not good for us either. That said, do not let your heart or your head do the decision making alone. It is only when your heart and your intellect work together in unison that you will live an authentic peaceful life.

You could liken your heart to your inner GPS system. Imagine driving down a road and you are having a great time. It feels right and you go forward with ease and joy. Then you come to a sign that says there is a very dangerous oil spill ahead. Imagine that sign to be your logical brain. Your heart wants to continue but your brain tells you that if you take that route, you could put yourself in danger. What do you do, listen to your heart or listen to your head?

If you were in an abusive relationship, for example, and your heart is in love with your partner, your natural inclination might be to gravitate to the part of the relationship that felt good. But when your brain raises a flag that tells you to question the quality of your relationship and your safety, it would be wise to listen to your head, not just your heart, wouldn’t it?  

Your happiness is your responsibility and your happiness will ultimately be determined by the decisions you make. Lead with your heart but take your brain with you! Here are a few tips to get your heart and your head to work in unison.

Listen to your heart’s intuition but pause before making any decision.

Take time out and allow yourself to become relaxed and silent. Breathing slowly in the comfort of a relaxing space will help you do this. Allow at least twenty minutes of relaxation before you think about your decision. In the space of silence your heart and your head will consult with each other productively. The following questions are great questions to ask:

  • “Do I feel good around this choice or person?”
  • “Does this situation or person give me or take my energy?”
  • “Do I feel empowered or disempowered?”
  • “Am I going toward an adventure or running from fear?”
  • “Am I listening to my lessons learned from the past?”
  • “Would I make the same choice if I had a million Euros in my pocket now?”
  • “Do I feel respected and valued?”
  • “Am I trying to control the situation or am I leaving room for expansion?”

 

Write out the pros and cons of making the decision.

A great way to approach a decision-making situation is to write out the pros and cons. Get a page and divide it into two columns. In column 1 write “Consequences of doing X” (X indicates the decision to be made) and in the second column put “Consequences of Not Doing X” Writing it out will allow the logical part of your brain to activate as you “feel” your decision. Then when you’ve filled in your two columns, read what you’ve written aloud. Reading them aloud will give you a very real and possibly different perspective of your situation and decision.

Sleep On it!

When we sleep our brain naturally organises and files information and emotion. It will, through a metaphorical dream process, try to resolve any intense emotion you experience day-to-day, allowing you to wake up with a clear head.

Approach the situation from someone else’s point of view.

Think of someone you respect and ask yourself what they would do and how they would do it. A different perspective can change everything. If you need extra help, ask for it.

Surround Yourself with Productive Positive Thinkers.

If you have a decision to make and you are surrounded by negativity, it will be very difficult for you to make a good decision. Negativity fogs the mind. Being around people who are positive can be much more helpful. It is a known fact that positive thinking allows for clarity, focus and productive decision making. If you’re not where to find such people, consider attending the Women’s Empowerment Summit. Full details at http://wesummit.ie

Let’s face it, most women, even the most gorgeous, talented and apparently perfect women, don’t feel beautiful at some point. When media puts apparent perfection in our faces it’s easy to see why. We have become a society of comparisons. Instead of loving ourselves for who we are, we focus on our imperfections- the wobbly bits, the crooked bits, the too-big bits, the too-small bits etc., and we criticise ourselves brutally in the process, leading to a feeling of absolute inadequacy when we don’t measure up.

For the purposes of this article, I’d like you to imagine someone standing next to a refuse truck with a box in their hands. The box is made of pure gold and inside the box is €1 million in clean cash. Now imagine that same person dumping the box and its contents straight into the truck and walking away empty handed, just because. Most people would consider them crazy, right?

Striking a balance between work and your personal life can be challenging in today’s fast paced society. Here are some ways to get that necessary balance.

Take Time Out

The best performers and the happiest people in this world are not those who work all the time – they know the importance of balance and taking time out. You are not superhuman, no matter what you think you are capable of doing, and no matter how much you think that you are the only one who can do a job right. Like us all, you need time to rest, time to play, and time to do absolutely nothing. When you work, give it your all and work smart, but take time to step back, relax and unwind. You are more than work - you have a life with many aspects to it, all of which are equally important.

It can be very frustrating when you put all your energy into a business only to see it plod along, especially if the business is something you believe in. We’ve all been there. We have the makings of a fantastic business but we just can’t get it to gather momentum. The idea is innovative, current and well thought out, the passion and determination are there, but no matter how hard we try, it just plods along. If this sounds familiar, you need to understand the 80/20 rule!

Have you ever experienced challenges in your life — those times when you felt stuck and had no idea how to move forward? The reality is we all have. At some point in life, we all meet obstacles that seem insurmountable. How great would it be to feel able to overcome those obstacles? How great would it be to know that no matter what comes your way you can deal with it?

You know the feeling of excitement you get when you set a goal and you know that you are capable of achieving it, the feeling of knowing you are going to make your dream a reality? It’s a great feeling isn’t it! But as life might have it, sometimes our plans don’t always turn out the way we want or expect. Things get in the way and we become disheartened, we get side-tracked and ultimately give up on what could have been something wonderful. Below are some tips to help you stay focused and motivated to achieve your goal no matter what life may throw at you.

No one likes to “fail” but the fact is we all mess up at various times in our lives. So what! Nobody who ever achieved anything great never made a mistake. In fact successful people make loads of mistakes. Failure is just a concept; an illusion we beat ourselves up with when we don’t get the result we would like. Think about this: how much better would your results be if you saw failure as successful people see failure? Successful people do not see a mistake as failure - it’s seen as feedback that a new approach is needed. To achieve your goal you may just need to refine your strategy or perhaps you may need to adopt a new one. Learn from what didn’t work out and move on. It is much more useful. When we see “failures” as feedback results improve dramatically. So let’s bring things into perspective and help you bounce back from whatever difficulty you are experiencing! Below are some tips to help you.

Change is inevitable, whether it relates to a relationship, the death of a loved one, job loss, moving to a new house or a change in something that we thought would always remain constant. Life is ever evolving. Below are some tips to help you deal with change.

Being a good leader can enhance your life in so many ways. It allows you to gain respect both at home and in business. Now I’m not talking about a high powered official here, I’m referring to the type of leader that develops loyal followers, a leader who is positive, inspiring and empowering, motivating people to perform better and feel good about performing better. Below are some ways you can become a good leader!

 

  1. Stop Comparing

What do they have? What do I have?”, “How do they look? How do I look?”, “What have they achieved? What have I achieved?” – We have become a fast-paced society of comparisons, benchmarking our value against others’ performance. This is a shame because no matter how much we compare ourselves to others, we will always pull the short straw. To empower ourselves we must embrace the fact that no two people, even identical twins, are the same. We are all unique and we all have something unique to offer. You have something to offer! When was the last time you focused on and embraced your unique self? When was the last time you stopped to think about how you could hone in on your unique strengths to improve both your life and your business? Now is a great time to do it! You are an amazing human being that is capable of so much, if only you would accept yourself for who you truly are as a unique individual.

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