Surprise, surprise, it's summer, and that means it's hot. Here are 7 ways to keep a cool head:
Cover your windows.
40% of your home's heat enters through windows, especially ones that face east and west. Make sure that your window coverings are a light color and closely fit your windows. Then close them! It's not time to enjoy the daylight, it's time to batten down the hatches and save money on your AC bill.
Silly? Perhaps. But worth a try!
The people next to me at the beach did this last weekend, and I was jeally jeals. Freeze orange juice in a thermos overnight. In the morning, pour a bottle of cold champagne on top of it. When you get to your picnic or concert or the beach- mimosa slushies! Drink plenty of water, too, because dehydration is definitely un-cool.
Spray the ones you love.
If your dog is a water lover, keep a spray bottle in the refrigerator and give them a misting here and there. Go ahead and give yourself one, too.
Stick it in the fridge.
Soak washcloths in water, put them in ziplock bags, and keep them in the fridge (or freezer if you want to carry one with you and keep it cold longer). Pull those suckers out and rest them on your ankles, wrists, and temples when you're sweltering.
It's also nice to keep lotion and moisturizer in the fridge to rub on your face, feet and/or back after a long, hot day.
Head to a movie.
If you don't have AC, now is the time to catch up on your cinematic knowledge. Movie theatres are usually so arctic that I have to take a sweater.
Fan your sheets.
Use your handy spray bottle to lightly mist your sheets before hopping in for some shut eye. Point a fan towards your bed and you'll fall asleep feeling the kisses of a million snow-lipped angels.
Working at a start-up can be stressful. Just ask Chade-Meng Tan, who, as Google's 107th employee, experienced the company back when it was a start-up instead of the behemoth it is today.
Tan was an engineer, and engineers at Google are famously given "20% time" to work on projects of their own choosing. Tan used his 20% time, working with experts, to create a course called "Search Inside Yourself," designed to help Googlers improve their emotional intelligence and mindfulness, making them happier and more productive employees, and better bosses. Ultimately, his goal is to make the world in general a happier place for everyone.
Tan, whose official Google title is "jolly good fellow (which nobody can deny)" has been teaching "Search Inside Yourself" for the past five years, and participants often report that it changed their lives–in fact one attendee reversed her decision to leave Google after taking it. Tan's book, distilled from the course, is now a New York Times bestseller.
Here are three mindfulness skills Tan recommends for every entrepreneur:
1. Learn inner calm.
Working in a start-up company often entails an endless stream of financial pressures and stresses. "The ability to arrive at a mind that is calm and clear on demand is very useful," Tan says. "The analogy is a deep ocean: The surface is choppy but the bottom is very calm. If you're able to go deep inside, you can access that calmness and exist in a world where you can be calm and in action at the same time."
Sound like a tall order? "Gaining this skill turns out to be very easy," Tan says. "It comes from mindfulness, and mindfulness is about the training of attention in a way that allows your mind to stabilize." One way to achieve this is with a brief daily meditation session, but Tan says you can also get there by quietly focusing your attention on your breath from time to time throughout the day. "Three breaths, every now and then," he says. "Or even every now and then be aware of taking one breath. You don't have to train very deep."
2. Increase emotional resilience.
"Entrepreneurs fail all the time, and if your job involves innovation, that always entails failure," Tan says. "Begin with the recognition that failure is a physiological experience in large part. For me, it's tightness in my chest, my stomach dropping, a lack of energy. I feel horrible. And the reason I feel horrible is because of the sensations in my body."
The first step, he says, is to recognize failure as a physical experience. The second step is to return to technique No. 1: Calm your mind by focusing on your breathing. "Calming the mind has the effect of calming the body as well," Tan says, adding that these steps calm the Vagus nerve, which regulates physiological stress reactions.
"Let go of the sensation," he says. "Consider emotions as simply physiological sensations, that is all. They may be pleasant or unpleasant, but they are simply experiences. Just let them come and go as they wish in a kind, gentle, and generous way. If you can do that, you can become more resilient to failure."
3. Develop the habit of wishing success to others.
"The premise is that if you have to convince someone to help you, half the battle is lost," Tan explains. "If you're going to help them succeed in a way that you also succeed, it's a lot easier. If you always frame things in those terms, people are more likely to want to work with you."
A related and very powerful habit is wishing happiness to everyone you come across, Tan says. "Looking at any human being: 'I wish for this person to be happy.'" You may not want to start with the person who cuts you off in traffic, he adds, but with people that you already like, and then people to whom you feel neutral. "The reason is to create a mental habit so that when you see someone, your first thought is, 'I want this person to be happy.' The people you meet will pick this up unconsciously."
It will also help you be a better boss. Tan recommends entrepreneurs strive to become what Jim Collins in Good to Great calls "level 5 leaders"–the kind who can propel their companies to greatness. "What's special about level 5 leaders is they're personally humble and ambitious at the same time," Tan says. "Their ambition is for the greater good, not for themselves. This type of leader is very effective in a start-up, where you want to inspire everybody. That's why the best skill a start-up leader can learn is compassion."
(Article by Minda Zetlin via Inc.)
Summer is the season when I'm the most strapped for cash. Every week brings more invitations for beach trips, rooftop barbeques, rafting adventures, and outdoor concerts. As fun as all of these things are, they require more than I've got in my piggy bank.
I've been taking a look at how to save money at every turn, and here's what I've come up with:
1. Clip virtual coupons. CouponMom will hook you up with deals.
2. Dip that rent. Visit Rentometer to evaluate whether or not you're paying reasonable rent. If the site determines that you're not, Google topics like "average rent in _____ (your city)" and schedule a meeting with your landlord, articles in hand, and attempt to re-negotiate.
3. Be a bargain hunter. Check out Lowermybills for all kinds of help with bringing your overhead down.
4. Chop your cell. At Billshrink, you can enter your cell phone bill details and they'll find you a lower-priced plan.
5. Skeep your peeps. Just in case you've been living under a rock for the past few years, Skype is by far the cheapest way to stay in touch with your friends and family out of the country.
6. Electrify your wallet. Check this article out for tips on reducing your electricity bill.
7. Say hey to AAA. Are you a member? Back when I was, I'd always forget to use my membership for its many possible discounts. Don't let that happen to you - check out their wide list of offers here.
8. Pretty up your pearlies. If you don't have dental insurance, you'll need a low-cost plan before you start drilling. Get one here.
9. Peruse the promos. Before you check out when making an online purchase, search "______ (Name of site) coupon codes". Often a site like Retailmenot or Couponcodes will share a discount code with you to try out during your check-out. I've received free shipping and up to as much as 25% off of my purchases using this trick.
10. Take a bite out of the Apple. You can purchased discounted Apple products that have been refurbished and certified here.
11. Boost your lift. Buy bargain lift tickets for your next ski trip at Liftopia.
13. Forage for food. The Co-op Directory helps you find and join natural food co-ops in your area - often cheaper than a regular grocery store, and healthier, too.
14. Play up your eyes. Zenni Optical sells insanely cheap, great-looking eyeglasses.
15. Cut the cable. I did this 3 months ago and it's been great. I canceled my cable account, connected my computer to my TV, and signed up for Netflix Streaming. Between that, Hulu, and each networks' own websites, I get all the TV I can watch for much less money than I was paying before.
16. Manage your music. Spotify is free if you agree to listen to commercials, $4.99 a month takes the commercials out, and $9.99 a month lets you access all of their music from your mobile as well as your computer. Compare that to the cost of buying per-song or album on iTunes, and, if you're an avid music-buyer, you could save a chunk of dough.
Have a great and afforable summer!
1. Smile at a stranger
2. Put change in an expired parking meter
3. Mail someone a hand-written card
4. Hold a door open
6. Give a friendly wave to a neighbor
7. Do a simple, free, quick kindness for a charity - eight examples here
8. Tell a friend why you appreciate them
9. Walk instead of driving, and interact with the world around you
10. Teach a group in your community about something unique you do or enjoy
11. Drop off dinner or groceries to an elderly friend who can't get out much
12. Mentor someone - a child or an adult
13. Help someone get set up on social media so that they can connect with their loved ones
14. Call your family just to say hi and tell them that you were thinking of them
15. Invite a friend you haven't seen in a while to the movies or coffee or...
16. Sign up for an unusual class at a community college and make new friends
17. Read a book on something new to gain new perspective, and apply it to the world around you
18. Make a Top 10 (or 25, or 100) list of things you're thankful for and share it
19. Ask someone for a recipe of theirs that you love - then surprise them by making it for them
20. Ask someone for their insight, and tell them that you value their opinion
21. Sit down with someone eldery and ask them questions about their life
22. Give a stranger a sincere compliment
23. Say "Thank You" and "I Love You" often
24. Use your skills to do some pro-bono work
25. Organize memorable photos in a virtual or paper album for someone
26. Ask someone how their day was, and actually listen attentively
27. Treat someone you admire to lunch
28. Volunteer to speak on a topic that you know about to a group who wants to learn
29. Buy a magazine subscription and have it sent to a nursing home
30. Sell some cool stuff online and give the proceeds to charity: KarmaGoat.com
31. Read these 25 amazing social good blogs and pick something to do
32. Share inspiring quotes and stories online
33. Donate your airline miles here
34. Pick up an errant piece of trash off the ground and throw it away
35. Offer to babysit for a single parent
36. Run an errand for a busy friend
37. Give a gift of a housekeeping service (or Fancy Hands!) to a new parent
38. Tell someone you see regularly at a business how much they make your day
39. Share something without being asked
(Via Amy Neumann at HuffPost)
Our minds are so very powerful. Anyone who has been cured with a placebo can attest to that. They're given sugar pills, but because they believe that something positive is happening, their disease disappears.
It stands to reason, then, that negative thoughts can cause you harm. They crowd your brain with doom and gloom, when what we all need is as much light and positivity as possible in order to be happy, creative, and productive.
If you're having trouble ridding yourself of negative thoughts, try these techniques from Corrine Pikul to banish them for good:
Show Them The Door
We've all had the frustrating experience of going into another room to get something and then realizing that we've totally forgotten why we're there. What's happening, say scientists from Notre Dame University, is that the act of passing through the doorway serves as a cue (an "event model" in science-speak) to your brain, telling it that it's finished with the immediate task and to move on to something else, freeing up space and energy for new memories.
You can take advantage of this mechanism in order to help you "forget" more strategically: If you find yourself getting worked up about something while you're preparing dinner, stop and exit the room. And if you happen to have an open-plan layout, keep on walking right out the front door (just come back in before the water boils and the pot overflows).
Wash That Thought Right Outta Your Head
Decisive people have no idea how lucky they are to be spared the kind of second-guessing that can lead to sleeplessness, queasiness and general obsessiveness. But the rest of us now have a secret weapon against waffling: soap. Psychologists at the University of Michigan found that washing your hands with soap and water can help you stop questioning your judgment. The study authors explain that the act of washing up serves as a powerful metaphor of "cleaning the slate" and helps us mentally wipe away doubts and misgivings.
Go To Your Happy Place
When our brain insists on reminding us of that awful thing we said at the party last night, most of us react by suppressing the thought (and perhaps groaning). This often works, found British neuroscientists Roland Benoit and Michael Anderson, who used an fMRI machine to trace the brain activity of people who were trying to forget something. In a study published in the journal Neuron, they explained that when we push a memory out of our head, activity in the hippocampus, the region of the brain critical for remembering the past, is inhibited. However, there's always the threat that the thought will pop up again... and again.
One trick that the scientists tested was thought substitution: Whenever you start rehashing the night, tell yourself instead to think about your vacation to Aruba, or reimagine every bite of a meal you enjoyed. Doing this will induce frenetic activity in the parts of the brain that need to work to retrieve memories and along the pathways to consciousness. The two thoughts will literally compete for your attention, so make the substitution memory engaging and pleasurable enough to win.
Those troubled souls who vent their grievances on paper are on to something, found Ohio State University psychologist Richard Petty, Ph.D., and his colleagues. In one of their studies, high school students who were asked to write down thoughts about body image and then rate their own figures were only affected by their thoughts if they were asked to hold on to their papers and review them. Those who were told to chuck the papers in the trash showed no difference in how they rated themselves, regardless of whether they confessed positive or negative thoughts.
"By physically throwing away or protecting your thoughts, you influence how you end up using those thoughts," Petty said. So write them down and then—this is key—be sure to shred them, burn them, toss them in the compactor or drag them into the trash can on your desktop—and empty it.
Squash Them With a Challenge
You're surprisingly vulnerable to negative thinking when you're doing something that's practically second nature to you, says psychiatrist Rebecca Gladding, MD, coauthor of You Are Not Your Brain. When you're in the flow - say, knitting your 24th scarf - the brain's prefrontal cortex, which handles executive function, kicks back and lets the basal ganglia, or the habit center, take over. This is when the toxic thought sneaks in and gains control, while your knitting needles continue to clack away rhythmically.
Get your prefrontal cortex to refocus by turning your attention to a challenging activity that requires your full attention, like listening to Coffee Break French podcasts, playing Words With Friends with a responsive pal or whipping up a new recipe in the kitchen. Gladding says that it's important to do this as quickly as you can when you feel your bad thoughts approaching, because the more time you spend dwelling on things, the stronger those mental pathways become. "Then every time you get anxious, you'll automatically switch into obsessive mode," she says—and that's something you definitely want to avoid.
Work Them Out
At any road race, you'll find dozens of running enthusiasts who have successfully kicked bad habits (as well as chronic bad moods) by following a regular training schedule. And intense physical activity has been shown in studies to raise serotonin and dopamine levels and lower the stress response. But while distance running, biking and swimming can boost general mental wellness, these solitary, repetitive activities can be the worst thing when you're dwelling on something specific and unchangeable. They can provide you with uninterrupted time to obsess, and that may reinforce negative thought patterns.
Consider seeking out physical activity that makes your brain work as hard as your body, like a class (spinning, Zumba, Bikram or Ashtanga yoga), a group sport (community soccer, pickup basketball) or a team activity (rowing, a running group, a master's swim team).
Now Feel Like Yay!
(Adapted from an article by Corrine Pikul in O Magazine)
Purpose is the one thing all great leaders have in common. Great leaders have a clearly defined purpose, while average leaders just show up to work. Purpose fuels passion and work ethic. It is these characteristics that afford great leaders a competitive advantage over those who don’t understand the dynamics of this linkage.
Leaders are nothing without people. People will make or break you as a leader. You’ll either treat them well, earn their trust, respect and loyalty, or you won’t. You’ll either see people as capital to be leveraged or humans to be developed and fulfilled. You’ll either view yourself as superior to your employees, or as one whose job it is to serve them, learn from them, and leave them be better off for being led by you.
The best leaders don’t put people in a box – they free them from boxes. Ultimately, a leaders job isn’t to create followers, but to strive for ubiquitous leadership. Average leaders spend time scaling processes, systems, and models – great leaders focus on scaling leadership.
Great leaders are self aware, organizationally aware, culturally aware, contextually aware, and emotionally aware. They value listening, engaging, observing, and learning over pontificating. They value sensitivity over insensitivity and humility over hubris. Leaders who come across as if they know everything haven’t fooled anyone – except themselves.
Great leaders avoid the traps, gaps, and blind spots average leaders so easily step into. Leaders who choose to live in the bubble of their own thinking rather than understanding the benefits of seeking others input and counsel make things harder on everyone. The willingness to allow your positions and opinions to be challenged is a sign of strength not weakness. I’ve often said the most powerful and overlooked aspect of learning is unlearning. Leaders never willing to change their mind ensure only one outcome – a lack of growth and development.
Complexity is a leader’s enemy not their friend. Great leaders live to eliminate or simplify the complex, while average leaders allow themselves and those they lead to be consumed by it. Complexity stifles innovation, slows development, gates progress, and adversely impacts culture. Complexity is expensive, inefficient, and ineffective.
I’m not minimizing the fact we live in a complex world, and I’m not suggesting that profit cannot be found in complexity. But great leaders understand opportunity and profits are extracted from complexity through simplification, not by adding to the complexity. While many think it was Einstein who said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” the statement was actually borrowed from Leonardo de Vinci – both gentlemen were correct.
If I only had a nickel for every time I’ve heard someone say, “It’s not personal; it’s just business.” Great leaders understand nothing is more personal than leadership, and they engage accordingly. The best leaders understand a failure to engage is in fact a failure to lead. Average leaders remain aloof and distant – great leaders look to know and care for their people.
The best leaders understand it’s not a weakness to get personal, to display empathy, kindness, and compassion – it’s the ultimate strength. Peak performance is never built on the backs of others, but by helping others become successful. Treat your people as if your life depends on it, bevcause it does.
(By Mike Myatt via Forbes)
We've hit the halfway mark in the year. The summer weather begs you to slack off and lose focus of your goals. But whatever they may be, you can achieve them.
Don't give up!
These people didn't:
- Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade. He was defeated in every public office role he ran for. Then he became the British prime minister at the age of 62.
When I was thirty, I was living my dream. I’d already accomplished most of what I’d set out to achieve professionally: leading scorer in the NBA, leading rebounder, leading blocker, Most Valuable Player, All-Star. But success can be as blinding as Bill Walton’s finger in the eye when battling for a rebound. I made mistakes. Plenty of them. In fact, sometimes I wish I could climb into a time machine and go back to shake some sense into that thirty-year-old me. If I could, here’s the advice I would give him:
1. Be more outgoing.
Don't let it getcha!
Time for some new standards, no?
Or, we can do it for you.
Today, strike a balance between dreaming and doing.
Give yourself a break this weekend! Studies show that taking time to relax and recharge rather than constantly pushing yourself to work will result in up to 16% higher awareness & focus when you do work.