10 keys for Happier Living

10 Keys to Happier Living

–by ActionforHappiness.org, Original Story, Apr 14, 2012

Action for Happiness has developed the 10 Keys to Happier Living based on a review of the latest scientific research relating to happiness.

Everyone’s path to happiness is different, but the research suggests these Ten Keys consistently tend to have a positive impact on people’s overall happiness and well-being. The first five (GREAT) relate to how we interact with the outside world in our daily activities*. The second five (DREAM) come more from inside us and depend on our attitude to life.

1. GIVING: Do things for others
Caring about others is fundamental to our happiness. Helping other people is not only good for them and a great thing to do, it also makes us happier and healthier too. Giving also creates stronger connections between people and helps to build a happier society for everyone. And it’s not all about money – we can also give our time, ideas and energy. So if you want to feel good, do good!
Q: What do you do to help others? 
2. RELATING: Connect with people
Relationships are the most important overall contributor to happiness. People with strong and broad social relationships are happier, healthier and live longer. Close relationships with family and friends provide love, meaning, support and increase our feelings of self worth. Broader networks bring a sense of belonging. So taking action to strengthen our relationships and create new connections is essential for happiness.
Q: Who matters most to you?
3. EXERCISING: Take care of your body
Our body and our mind are connected. Being active makes us happier as well as being good for our physical health. It instantly improves our mood and can even lift us out of a depression. We don’t all need to run marathons – there are simple things we can all do to be more active each day. We can also boost our well-being by unplugging from technology, getting outside and making sure we get enough sleep!
Q: How do you stay active and healthy?
4. APPRECIATING: Notice the world around
Ever felt there must be more to life? Well good news, there is! And it’s right here in front of us. We just need to stop and take notice. Learning to be more mindful and aware can do wonders for our well-being in all areas of life – like our walk to work, the way we eat or our relationships. It helps us get in tune with our feelings and stops us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future – so we get more out of the day-to-day.
Q: When do you stop and take notice? 
5. TRYING OUT: Keep learning new things
Learning affects our well-being in lots of positive ways. It exposes us to new ideas and helps us stay curious and engaged. It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience. There are many ways to learn new things – not just through formal qualifications. We can share a skill with friends, join a club, learn to sing, play a new sport and so much more.
Q: What new things have you tried recently?
6. DIRECTION: Have goals to look forward to
Feeling good about the future is important for our happiness. We all need goals to motivate us and these need to be challenging enough to excite us, but also achievable. If we try to attempt the impossible this brings unnecessary stress. Choosing ambitious but realistic goals gives our lives direction and brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when we achieve them.
Q: What are your most important goals? 
7. RESILIENCE: Find ways to bounce back
All of us have times of stress, loss, failure or trauma in our lives. But how we respond to these has a big impact on our well-being. We often cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose our own attitude to what happens. In practice it’s not always easy, but one of the most exciting findings from recent research is that resilience, like many other life skills, can be learned.
Q: How do you bounce back in tough times?
8. EMOTION: Take a positive approach
Positive emotions – like joy, gratitude, contentment, inspiration, and pride – are not just great at the time. Recent research shows that regularly experiencing them creates an ‘upward spiral’, helping to build our resources. So although we need to be realistic about life’s ups and downs, it helps to focus on the good aspects of any situation – the glass half full rather than the glass half empty.
Q: What are you feeling good about? 
9. ACCEPTANCE: Be comfortable with who you are
No-one’s perfect. But so often we compare our insides to other people’s outsides. Dwelling on our flaws – what we’re not rather than what we’ve got – makes it much harder to be happy. Learning to accept ourselves, warts and all, and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong, increases our enjoyment of life, our resilience and our well-being. It also helps us accept others as they are.
Q: What is the real you like?
10. MEANING: Be part of something bigger
People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression. But where do we find ‘meaning and purpose’? It might be our religious faith, being a parent or doing a job that makes a difference. The answers vary for each of us but they all involve being connected to something bigger than ourselves.
Q: What gives your life meaning?
* The first five keys are based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing developed by nef as part of the UK Government’s Foresight Project on Mental Capital.

Top 5 Regrets of the Dying

Top Five Regrets of the Dying

–by Bronnie Ware, Original Story, Feb 23, 2012

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

More “friends” on Facebook, fewer real friends

We may “friend” more people on Facebook, but we have fewer real friends — the kind who would help us out in tough times, listen sympathetically no matter what, lend us money or give us a place to stay if we needed it, keep a secret if we shared one.

That’s the conclusion made by Matthew Brashears, a Cornell University sociologist who surveyed more than 2,000 adults from a national database and found that from 1985 to 2010, the number of truly close friends people cited has dropped — even though we’re socializing as much as ever.

On average, participants listed 2.03 close friends in Brashears’ survey. That number was down from about three in a 1985 study.

“These are the people you think of as your real confidants, your go-to people if you need something,” Brashears said.

Brashears asked people online from a database called TESS — Time-Sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences — to list the names of people with whom they had discussed “important matters” over the previous six months. He reports the results in a forthcoming issue of the journal Social Networks.

Forty-eight percent of participants listed one close friend when asked, 18 percent listed two and 29 percent listed more. A little more than 4 percent didn’t list anyone.

What’s going on? Brashears said his survey can’t tell us conclusively, but his guess is that while we meet just as many people as we used to, we categorize them differently.

Does that mean we’re more isolated in these times when we seem to meet more people online than in person? (How many of your Facebook “friends” are really friends of yours?) Defying some of the stereotypes of the digital age, social scientists say Facebook may actually be healthy for us. Keith Hampton at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania wrote a report for the Pew Research Center in which he found that “Internet users in general, but Facebook users even more so, have more close relationships than other people.”

“Facebook users get more overall social support, and in particular they report more emotional support and companionship than other people,” wrote Hampton in a blog post. “And, it is not a trivial amount of support. Compared to other things that matter for support — like being married or living with a partner — it really matters. Frequent Facebook use is equivalent to about half the boost in support you get from being married.”

But online contact and personal contact are different. While Hampton reports we know more people because of Facebook and similar sites, Brashears reports there are fewer whom we choose to trust with our most intimate worries.

“We’re not becoming asocial,” said Brashears, “but these people give us social support, and they give us advice.”

Canada: Nice Place to Visit but you can’t apply to live here

So many loopholes in our immigration system, who are they fooling? Nanny’s, Caregivers and those so-called refugee’s. Now that parents and grand-parents don’t get permanent resident status, less burden on our health care system and social assistances.

Starting today, Ottawa will stop accepting applications for immigration sponsorships of parents and grandparents until 2014 in hopes of reducing a growing backlog.

In launching the first phase of an action plan to expedite family reunification Friday, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said the federal government will take in 25,000 parents and grandparents in 2012, 43 per cent above its 2011 level. Meanwhile, fewer refugees, nannies and people applying to stay on humanitarian grounds will be admitted. Read More

Steve Jobs and the Seven rules to success

 

Steve Jobs’ impact on your life cannot be overestimated. His innovations have likely touched nearly every aspect — computers, movies, music and mobile. As a communications coach, I learned from Jobs that a presentation can, indeed, inspire. For entrepreneurs, Jobs’ greatest legacy is the set of principles that drove his success.

Over the years, I’ve become a student of sorts of Jobs’ career and life. Here’s my take on the rules and values underpinning his success. Any of us can adopt them to unleash our “inner Steve Jobs.”

1. Do what you love. Jobs once said, “People with passion can change the world for the better.” Asked about the advice he would offer would-be entrepreneurs, he said, “I’d get a job as a busboy or something until I figured out what I was really passionate about.” That’s how much it meant to him. Passion is everything.

2. Put a dent in the universe. Jobs believed in the power of vision. He once asked then-Pepsi President, John Sculley, “Do you want to spend your life selling sugar water or do you want to change the world?” Don’t lose sight of the big vision.

Related: Why Entrepreneurs Love Steve Jobs

3. Make connections. Jobs once said creativity is connecting things. He meant that people with a broad set of life experiences can often see things that others miss. He took calligraphy classes that didn’t have any practical use in his life — until he built the Macintosh. Jobs traveled to India and Asia. He studied design and hospitality. Don’t live in a bubble. Connect ideas from different fields.

4. Say no to 1,000 things. Jobs was as proud of what Apple chose not to do as he was of what Apple did. When he returned in Apple in 1997, he took a company with 350 products and reduced them to 10 products in a two-year period. Why? So he could put the “A-Team” on each product. What are you saying “no” to?   

5. Create insanely different experiences. Jobs also sought innovation in the customer-service experience. When he first came up with the concept for the Apple Stores, he said they would be different because instead of just moving boxes, the stores would enrich lives. Everything about the experience you have when you walk into an Apple store is intended to enrich your life and to create an emotional connection between you and the Apple brand. What are you doing to enrich the lives of your customers?

Related: 10 Things to Thank Steve Jobs For

6. Master the message. You can have the greatest idea in the world, but if you can’t communicate your ideas, it doesn’t matter. Jobs was the world’s greatest corporate storyteller. Instead of simply delivering a presentation like most people do, he informed, he educated, he inspired and he entertained, all in one presentation.

7. Sell dreams, not products. Jobs captured our imagination because he really understood his customer. He knew that tablets would not capture our imaginations if they were too complicated. The result? One button on the front of an iPad. It’s so simple, a 2-year-old can use it. Your customers don’t care about your product. They care about themselves, their hopes, their ambitions. Jobs taught us that if you help your customers reach their dreams, you’ll win them over.

There’s one story that I think sums up Jobs’ career at Apple. An executive who had the job of reinventing the Disney Store once called up Jobs and asked for advice. His counsel? Dream bigger. I think that’s the best advice he could leave us with. See genius in your craziness, believe in yourself, believe in your vision, and be constantly prepared to defend those ideas.

Another teen commits suicide over bullying

Bullied son of Ottawa city councillor commits suicide

Ottawa city councillor Allan Hubley poses with his son Jamie in this family photo released on Monday Oct. 17, 2011. Hubley says bullying was part of the reason his 15-year-old son took his own life last Friday.

Ottawa city councillor Allan Hubley poses with his son Jamie in this family photo released on Monday Oct. 17, 2011. Hubley says bullying was part of the reason his 15-year-old son took his own life last Friday.

COURTESY HUBLEY FAMILY/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — An Ottawa city councillor says bullying played a part in his son’s suicide.

Fifteen-year-old Jamie Hubley took his own life on Friday.

His father, Councillor Allan Hubley, says Jamie was suffering from depression and was receiving care from doctors and counsellors.

Hubley says these professionals, along with family and friends, were trying to help him cope with his depression and his sexuality.

He says his son was a championship figure skater for years and was just beginning to excel as a singer and enjoyed acting.

Hubley, who made the comments in a statement, also says James was bullied.

“In Grade 7 he was treated very cruelly simply because he liked figure skating over hockey,” the councillor said in his written statement.

“Recently, when Jamie tried to start a Rainbow Club at his high school to promote acceptance of others, the posters were torn down and he was called vicious names in the hallways and online. We had meetings with officials at the school and were working with them to bring an end to it but Jamie felt it would never stop.”

10 Things NOT to say to your kids

10 Things You Should Never Say to Your Kids

There are a handful of obviously wrong, damaging and terrible things to say to a child (“I wish I never had you” or “You’re the reason we’re getting a divorce” count among them). But it may surprise you to discover that some seemingly harmless phrases can trigger resentment, dent self-esteem or bring up other less-than-desirable sentiments in your kids. Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and author of If I Have to Tell You One More Time…,notes, “We have the best of intentions, but often we say things to our kids without thought to how it’s being perceived by the child.” Here, 10 phrases you should think twice about before repeating to your kids.

1. “I know you can try harder.”
Frustrated by a daughter who you know is capable of much more in school, sports, music, etc.? While you (hopefully!) aren’t saying such obviously hurtful things as “You are so lazy!”, any comment that makes it seem as though you’re not satisfied with her efforts can not only be discouraging to your child, it can also do the opposite of motivating her to try harder, says McCready. If your “try harder” has to do with tasks or chores, be clear about what you expect: “When you have your room cleaned up, then you can go out and play.” If you’re talking about academics, “take note of times she does go the extra mile,” such as: “Wow! That extra time spent on your book report really shows!”

Check out 10 ways you can inspire your kids.

2. “Are you sure you need that second cupcake?”
Yikes. You have good intentions—keeping your child fit and healthy—but you’re better off steering clear of any talk that might foster a negative body image, says McCready. If you’re worried about what your child eats at home, use actions, not words, such as stocking your kitchen with healthy foods rather than junk and emphasizing family physical activity like after-dinner walks. That way, if there are cupcakes at a party, your child’s fine to indulge. And walk the walk yourself; you mix your message if you tell your kid to keep his hands out of the cookie jar while you’re inhaling potato chips. Incidentally, the same goes for telling your child that he’s a “great” eater; try to avoid labels (he’s my picky child; she’s such an adventurous eater; this one needs to stay away from treats) because “you never want to turn food into a power issue,” says McCready. As best you can, keep food-related comments specific and positive: “Wow, I see you tried the squash soup!”

3. “You always…” or “You never…”
Undeniably, it’s tempting—almost a reflex at times—to spit out an always (“You always forget to put your socks in the hamper!”) or a never (“You never remember to call me when you’re running late!”). But be careful because those two words are a minefield, says Jenn Berman, PhD, a psychotherapist and author of The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids. “At the heart of ‘You always’ and ‘You never’ statements are labels that can stick for life.” Kids become what we tell them they are, so telling your child that he “always” forgets to call makes him more likely to be the kid who, you guessed it, never calls. Instead, ask your child how you can help him or her change: “I notice you seem to have trouble remembering to bring home your textbooks. What can we do to try to help you remember?” suggests Dr. Berman.

See the nine things you should never say to your husband.

4. “Why can’t you be more like your sister/brother?”
Siblings and rivalry go hand in hand—and anything you say that sets up comparisons only fuels that natural flame, says McCready. If you’re saying, for example, “Your brother is practicing piano and he sounds great—why can’t you do that?” you’re essentially telling your child that piano is his brother’s thing, and he’s not measuring up. “Comparisons slot siblings into categories—the smart one, the athlete—and discourage kids from trying the thing their sibling is ‘good’ at.” Try instead to encourage each child in whatever pursuits are “his” or “hers,” while avoiding comparisons.

5. “I told you waiting until the last minute was a mistake!”
You repeatedly informed your middle-schooler that if he played video games all afternoon, he’d have less time to study for the math test. And guess what? He stayed up too late, went to school sleepy and unprepared, and didn’t do as well as he could have on the exam. But any time you say “I told you so” to your child, you’re in effect telling him you’re always right, and by contrast he’s often wrong or a screw-up, says McCready. When he comes home with the poor grade, resist the “I told you so” urge and instead ask him if the two of you could brainstorm some smarter ways to study the next time. Also, “point out the positives that occur when he does follow through,” says McCready. For example, if he cleans up his room when asked, saying “Isn’t it easier to find all your stuff when your room’s tidy?” puts the control and the credit with him—not you.

Streamline your school morning routine to get out the door faster.

6. “You’re the best at soccer!”
It may seem obvious that denigrating your child’s efforts (“You’re no artist!”) can be damaging, but in fact, even the positive pronouncements can be bad because they are limiting, says McCready. “Say you always tell your child how smart she is. She may, over time, become scared of trying new things or more challenging work, for fear she won’t be ‘smart’ anymore if she gets a B instead of an A.” It can also backfire if your child is struggling with work and you say, “But you’re so smart!” She may only feel worse for not living up to the label you’ve given her. But what if your child is not a great soccer player? If she enjoys it, that’s enough. But if she feels she’s not good at it, she may be less likely to try a different sport later on, says McCready. Focus instead on her hard work: “You show up to every practice and try your best,” or “What a fantastic job on this science project!”

7. “Don’t worry—the first day of school will be fine.”
What’s wrong with trying to soothe an anxious kid out of worry? “If you tell your child not to worry, you’re dismissing her feelings,” says Dr. Berman. “So now, she’s still worried about the first day of school, and she’s worried that she’s worried, or that you’re upset over her worry.” Same goes for “Don’t cry” and “Don’t be angry.” Instead, say, “I can see you’re worried. Can you tell me what you’re most concerned about, so we can talk about it?”

Overcome a fear of flying, public speaking and other kinds of anxieties.

8. “Because I said so!”
We’ve all been there—you just need to get out the door and you don’t have time to explain why you need to switch off the computer and head to a family event/doctor’s appointment/religious obligation. “Because I said so,” puts all the control in your hands, and dismisses your child’s growing sense of autonomy and ability to figure things out, says Dr. Berman. “Because I said so” also leaves out a potential teaching moment. Let’s say your kids don’t want to visit their aging great-aunt on a sunny day when they’d rather ride their bikes. “Because I said so” only makes them feel less in control of what they are able to do. Instead, try, “I know you’d rather ride your bike, but Aunt Clara really loves seeing you, and we try our best to honor our family.” That way, even if they continue to grumble, they know their feelings matter; plus, they’ve learned a valuable lesson about how you conduct yourselves as a family.

9. “I wish you didn’t hang out with Jack; I don’t like that kid.”
Yeah, a lot of parents don’t like “that kid,” for whatever reason, but “the moment you tell your child that ‘that kid’ is not your favorite, he becomes more appealing,” says Dr. Berman. Evaluate, first, what you don’t like about Jack. Is he just not your cup of tea, or does he present some sort of danger you don’t want your child exposed to? If it’s the former, grit your teeth. If it’s the latter, though, “Ask your child some open-ended questions,” says Dr. Berman. “What do you like about hanging out with Jack? What do you guys do?” The idea is to keep the lines of communication open between you two, and hopefully spark discussion about values, right and wrong, and so on.

Find out what your best friend won’t tell you.

10. “That’s not how you do it! Here, let me.”
You asked your child to stir the soup, or fold the towels, or wash the car. Sure, you want the help—but then she kind of does a not-so-great job. Depending on how much of a perfectionist you are, it can be tough to hold yourself back from just jumping in and taking the task back, “But that’s a mistake, because then she never learns how, and is less likely to try anything else you ask down the line,” says Dr. Berman. If you can stand messy folding or a less than clean car, let it go. Or, you can step in but in a collaborative rather than dismissive way: “Here, let me show you a neat trick my mom taught me about folding towels!”

Photo: © Thinkstock

What NOT to buy used

A few months ago when I bought a new Queen size mattress my landlord saw me put my Double size mattress in the garbage so my landlord at the time asked me if I still wanted it (who said landlords have to be smart) I said well, it’s in the garbage so no I don’t.  But then said to me, “oh Okay cause I know someone who wants it”.  I said “Knock yourself out”. It’s not like I’ve been having wild sex or orgies on it or anything. It was a clean because I use mattress pads to protect it, same like I use pillow covers aside from pillow sheets. But it (mattress) became uncomfortable and I needed to upgrade to a Queen size. Positive thinking, perhaps to share with a future partner?

 

Everybody loves a great deal—and often, buying things “used” or “slightly used” can save money without sacrificing quality or value. But some second-hand purchases should be avoided in the name of health, safety, or plain old return on investment. Following are eight products that are best bought new.

 

Cribs
Did you know drop-side cribs have been recalled altogether and are no longer recommended? With safety guidelines changing almost every year, it’s really best to buy a new crib. If you buy used, you are potentially are purchasing a recalled or improperly installed crib. For the safety of your baby, when it comes to baby furniture—particularly cribs—go new. Plenty of stores have affordable options including Babies “R” Us and IKEA.

 

Televisions
It might be tempting to buy a used television instead of dropping the cash for a brand new model—but we suggest you fight the urge. Used TVs don’t come with any warranty and become outdated more quickly as new technologies hit the market. Your better bet is to wait for a blowout sale at your local electronics store and buy last year’s model on sale.

 

Mattresses
Quality mattresses are good for eight to10 years. But when you a buy a used one, it’s difficult to know how old it really is. Not to mention, cleaning a mattress is no easy task. So, you can assume the previous owner didn’t spend too much time scrubbing it—leaving you with years of sleep sweat and other remnants you’d probably like to rest without.

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Digital Cameras
Have you ever owned a digital camera that you didn’t drop at least once? Neither has anyone else—which means if you buy one used, it’s been dropped at some point. Avoid costly repairs that might not set in right away by doing some research and buying new. There are a bunch of point-and-shoot digital cameras on the market right now full of cool features that won’t break the bank.

 

Laptops
Technologies change so frequently on laptops, it only takes a few years before a new model is out of date. You’ll already be starting behind the pack if you buy one used. Plus, like digital cameras, you’ll have no idea of previous use and abuse.


Hats
Yes, it’s random but think about it: when you buy a used hat, you are inheriting sweat, skin conditions, and leftovers. Doesn’t that convince you to spend a few extra bucks for a stylish new hat?
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Makeup
Though sticking with new makeup might seem like common sense, many women give away makeup to friends after trying something and not liking it. And while it might be fun to test out that hand-me-down eyeliner or lip gloss, it’s more hygenic buy your own. Sharing even the prettiest eye makeup is a surefire way to spread eye infections (particularly pink eye!) and used lip products are a breeding ground for common colds or even cold sores. Most make up should be tossed after six months anyway.


Car Seats
When it comes to your child’s safety, no piece of baby gear is more important than the car seat. And with frequent recalls and constantly updating safety guidelines, it’s important to buy new. Each year, car seat technology improves. And with new models available for as little as $75, you’re really not saving that much money if you get one used.

Money really can’t buy you love: study finds materialism hard on marriage

It seems that being a material girl — or guy — can be hard on a marriage, especially if both spouses place a high value on money and accumulating possessions, research suggests.

In a study by Brigham Young University, researchers found that materialism in a spouse was associated with lower levels of responsiveness to the partner, less emotional maturity, poor communication and higher levels of conflict.

The study, published Thursday in the Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, also found that love of money in one or both spouses led to reduced satisfaction in the relationship and threatened the marriage’s stability.

“We did find that materialism is harmful to marriage and that the effect of it seems to be widespread,” lead author Jason Carroll, a professor of family life at Brigham Young in Provo, Utah, said in an interview. “This is more of an erosion pattern, rather than a landfall pattern.”

Carroll said couples in which both spouses reported not caring about money — about 14 per cent of the group — scored 10 to 15 per cent higher on marriage stability and other measures of relationship quality than did couples where one or both are materialistic.

The effect was particularly pronounced when both the husband and wife worshipped at the altar of consumerism, as was the case in about 20 per cent of participants. “Couples where both spouses are materialistic were worse off on nearly every measure we looked at,” he said.

The study involved 1,734 married couples across the United States. Each spouse filled out a questionnaire, which included a self-report on how much he or she values “having money and lots of things.”

Researchers expected there would be more conflict and lower marital satisfaction when there was a mismatch in values between partners, with one being materialistic and the other not, Carroll said.

“However, our study found that it’s actually the couples where both have high levels of materialism that struggled the most,” he said. “So even when spouses were unified in that value stance, they were the couples that (fared the worst).”

Carroll said being materialistic could lead some people to spend more than they can afford, creating debt and financial stress that can wear away the emotional glue that holds couples together. The focus by one spouse on money and what it can buy can also leave the partner feeling neglected and unhappy, he suggested.

With fears about the volatile economy, those whose happiness relies on augmenting and showing off their possessions may have difficulty if forced to tighten their belts, he said, adding that it’s important to sort out their wants from needs.

“The wants in the long run really won’t be the biggest foundation to their happiness because it’s not really getting to what they truly need.

“If we prioritize relationships and keep them at the top of our focus, that really helps us from getting sucked into the materialistic messages in the culture and helps us where true happiness will be found.”

10 Powerful Insights by Eckhart Tolle

 

The greatest goal you can set this year is to make peace with your life, no matter your circumstances. These 10 powerful insights from Eckhart Tolle will get you started.

Oneness with All Life by Eckhart Tolle

  1. Don’t seek happiness. If you seek it, you won’t find it, because seeking is the antithesis of happiness. Happiness is ever elusive, but freedom from unhappiness is attainable now, by facing what is rather than making up stories about it.
  2. The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it. Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral, which always is as it is. There is the situation or the fact, and here are my thoughts about it. Instead of making up stories, stay with the facts. For example, “I am ruined” is a story. It limits you and prevents you from taking effective action. “I have 50 cents left in my bank account” is a fact. Facing facts is always empowering.
  3. See if you can catch the voice in your head, perhaps in the very moment it complains about something, and recognize it for what it is: the voice of the ego, no more than a thought. Whenever you notice that voice, you will also realize that you are not the voice, but the one who is aware of it. In fact, you are the awareness that is aware of the voice. In the background, there is the awareness. In the foreground, there is the voice, the thinker. In this way you are becoming free of the ego, free of the unobserved mind.
  4. Wherever you look, there is plenty of circumstantial evidence for the reality of time—a rotting apple, your face in the bathroom mirror compared with your face in a photo taken 30 years ago—yet you never find any direct evidence, you never experience time itself. You only ever experience the present moment.
  5. Why do anxiety, stress, or negativity arise? Because you turned away from the present moment. And why did you do that? You thought something else was more important. One small error, one misperception, creates a world of suffering.
  6. People believe themselves to be dependent on what happens for their happiness. They don’t realize that what happens is the most unstable thing in the universe. It changes constantly. They look upon the present moment as either marred by something that has happened and shouldn’t have or as deficient because of something that has not happened but should have. And so they miss the deeper perfection that is inherent in life itself, a perfection that lies beyond what is happening or not happening. Accept the present moment and find the perfection that is untouched by time.
  7. The more shared past there is in a relationship, the more present you need to be; otherwise, you will be forced to relive the past again and again.
  8. Equating the physical body with “I,” the body that is destined to grow old, wither, and die, always leads to suffering. To refrain from identifying with the body doesn’t mean that you no longer care for it. If it is strong, beautiful, or vigorous, you can appreciate those attributes—while they last. You can also improve the body’s condition through nutrition and exercise. If you don’t equate the body with who you are, when beauty fades, vigor diminishes, or the body becomes incapacitated, this will not affect your sense of worth or identity in any way. In fact, as the body begins to weaken, the light of consciousness can shine more easily.
  9. You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you and allowing that goodness to emerge.
  10. If peace is really what you want, then you will choose peace.

Exerpted from Oneness with All Life by Eckhart Tolle. Published by arrangement with Dutton, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. Copywright © 2008 by Eckhart Tolle