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Showing posts with label Lifestyle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lifestyle. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

7 Best Places to Live Cheaply

These locations boast some of the lowest living costs in the nation. They also have highly rated schools and low unemployment and crime rates.

No. 1: Sandusky, Ohio

Sandusky, Ohio, is a city with million-dollar water views and a whole lot of $100,000 houses. With a median family income of $64,000 and median home-selling price of $76,000, this city on Lake Erie, midway between Cleveland and Toledo, could be the most affordable housing market in the country.

Throw in highly rated schools and a low crime rate, and Sandusky tops the 2011 Forbes list of America's best cheap cities.

To produce the list, we started with the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Affordability Index, where Sandusky ranked sixth behind such cities as Kokomo, Ind., Elkhart, Ind., and Springfield, Ohio. Then we screened for the things homebuyers want to go along with a cheap house: low cost of living, from Moody's; low violent crime rate, from the FBI; low unemployment rate, from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics; and school quality, from GreatSchools.

No. 2: Monroe, Mich.

Median income: $69,000
Median house price: $101,000
Unemployment rate: 8.5%
Crime rate: 222
GreatSchools rating: 5

No. 3: Cumberland, Md.-W.Va.

Median income: $52,200
Median house price: $81,000
Unemployment rate: 8.9%
Crime rate: 480
GreatSchools rating: 6

No. 4: Kokomo, Ind.

Median income: $61,400
Median house price: $88,000
Unemployment rate: 9.6%
Crime rate: 300
GreatSchools rating: 4

No. 5: Bay City, Mich.

Median income: $56,200
Median house price: $73,000
Unemployment rate: 9.9%
Crime rate: 315
GreatSchools rating: 5

No. 6: Pocatello, Idaho

Median income: $55,600

Median house price: $108,000
Unemployment rate: 9%
Crime rate: 250
GreatSchools rating: 6

No. 7: Fairbanks, Alaska

Median income: $76,800
Median house price: $216,000
Unemployment rate: 7.1%
Crime rate: 752
GreatSchools rating: 7

Adapted from MSN

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Published by Gusti Putra at: 12:24 PM

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Seven Tips for Becoming a Better Boss

Want to build a better workplace? Follow these tips from the leaders of companies recognized in the annual Best Small Workplaces list.

Is better hiring and retention high on your to-do list this year? Many people need to do more with less nowadays. A great way to start is with better management and more effective workers.

It’s easy to see why companies would want to start building a great workplace. Where to begin can be more difficult to discern. This lack of clarity makes it tough to take focused actions that move a company forward. In some cases, it can even be discouraging to a leader if the scope and breadth seem too large to overcome.

If you’re among those aspiring to build a better workplace, even a great one, here are seven tips from the leaders of companies recognized in this year's annual Best Small Workplaces list.

1. Begin with yourself. “In order to build a great workplace, you must first build yourself by gaining a deep understanding of your strengths and weaknesses as a leader, and you must completely commit to developing yourself into the best leader and person you can be. At the same time, you must hire outstanding people who are as committed as you are to build a great workplace.” — Robert Pasin, Chief Wagon Officer, Radio Flyer

2. Flip the traditional management dynamic. “Treat every employee as a colleague, and turn the management structure upside down. If you are hiring well, then the management of the company is there to support the talent and aspirations of your employees, and not the reverse.”  — John Saaty, CEO, Decision Lens

3. Hire the best. “Hire people smarter than you. This is the best advice my father gave me when I was starting my business, and I believe it holds true today. In today's competitive environment, your time at work will be easier and more pleasant if you are surrounded by smart people — those who share your values, mission, and vision and like to have FUN! Talented employees will help your business to grow, and create a great place to work. Customers value knowledgeable employees — the smarter your new hires are, the better off your business will be in the end.”  — Lauren Dixon, CEO, Dixon Schwabl

4. See employees as whole people. “Every employee has things in their life more important than work. If you fail to realize that, there will be a fundamental disconnect in your relationship with that employee. Realize it and embrace it, and you will be on the way to a mutually beneficial relationship. ”  — Tim Storm, CEO & Founder, FatWallet

5. Use positive, constructive motivation. “It’s said that eight out of 10 people come to work in the morning wanting to make a difference, but by lunch it’s down to four. That’s usually a result of the environment more than anything, not just the physical but the interpersonal. Lead your employees with a clear vision, support them with adequate resources, and possibly most important — reward them for treating others with respect. Motivate everyone in a positive, constructive way, and your biggest problem will be having to build more office space sooner than you thought!”  — Tim Hohmann, CEO, AutomationDirect

6. Practice accountability to your values. “Hold everyone accountable to your core beliefs and values, including you. No ‘license to kill’ is allowed no matter how much money someone brings into your business. Otherwise, a double standard develops which will derail the creation of a great workplace.”  — Jim Rasche, 3EO, Kahler Slater

7. Start now. “Don’t wait till you get bigger to put in place key items, such as staff surveys, peer interviewing for hiring and clear standards of behavior [developed by staff].” — Quint Studer, CEO and founder, Studer Group

Adapted from MSN
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Published by Gusti Putra at: 3:19 AM

Tips on Overcoming Workplace Phobias

How to overcome phobias in the workplace

Few people truly love public speaking. So when you have to give a big presentation to your boss and a room full of your peers, it's normal to feel nervous, get a little sweaty and rejoice once the presentation is over. Yet for some, the idea of public speaking evokes such fear that it's debilitating and renders them unable to participate. That kind of anxiety may be considered a social phobia.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 5.3 million Americans suffer from a social phobia, an overwhelming anxiety and self-consciousness in social settings. What's more, the institute estimates that more than one in 10 Americans have one or more specific phobias. WebMD defines phobia as "a lasting and unreasonable fear caused by the presence or thought of a specific object or situation that usually poses little or no actual danger."

A variety of phobias -- both social and specific -- could be manifested at work. Psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., author of "A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness," names fear of heights, elevators, flying and germs as examples of phobias that could interfere with work. Others may be more specific, such as the fear of making a decision, the fear of computers or the fear of speaking on the phone. So what should a worker do if he has a phobia he believes may hurt his job performance?

Be upfront in an interview 
If you have a phobia that is associated with any part of the job description and you don't think you'll be able to perform that task, you should be upfront during an interview. "The only time you really need to mention your phobia during an interview is if the phobia will prevent you from doing the job for which you are interviewing," Lombardo says. "For example, many people who are phobic of flying still do actually fly. So in this case, there is no need to bring up your fear. However, if you refuse to fly and the job description includes travel that requires flying, you need to mention this during the interview."

Work with human resources
A phobia can be considered a disability if it limits a major life activity, says Scott Barer, a labor and employment law attorney. "For example, if the phobia rises to the level of, or causes, a mental disorder that limits a major life activity, then the phobia could be considered a disability," he says. "In that situation, the employee has rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and likely under similar state laws."

If the phobia rises to the level of a disability, "then the employer has to engage the employee -- or applicant -- in an interactive process in order to try to find a reasonable accommodation that will allow the employee or applicant to perform the essential functions of his [or] her job," Barer says. "Only in the rare situation where an accommodation would cause the employer an undue hardship is the employer not required to accommodate an employee's disability."

So what does this mean? If you believe your phobia will get in the way of your job performance, say something to human resources, and they can work with you to develop a plan that will work for both you and the company.

Build confidence
If having to deal with a phobia in your workplace is inevitable, Lombardo recommends gradual exposure as a way to build confidence and address the fear. "Take smaller steps to allow you to be more comfortable," she suggests. "For example, if you are fearful of giving a presentation, try speaking in front of a group of three to five people for five minutes, three times a week. As you do, your fear will decrease. Then, increase the number to seven to eight people." Beyond working with co-workers, Lombardo also suggests looking into organizations that help build specific skills. One such company is Toastmasters International, which is dedicated to helping members improve their speaking and leadership skills.

Attempt to overcome your phobia
Lombardo shares three tips for working to overcome your phobia:
  • Address your stress: Phobias become stronger when overall stress levels are high. So take steps to reduce stress, such as meditation, exercise or deep breathing.
  • Distraction: What you focus on gets bigger, so, for example, rather than focusing on your fear that the plane will crash, distract yourself by having a few good movies and magazines available to keep your mind on something else. The topic should be light, not stressful.
  • Exposure: Ironically, avoiding your fear makes it stronger. A technique called systematic desensitization causes you to couple your fear with relaxation techniques. So, just like how Pavlov's dog salivated at the sound of the bell, people's bodies will relax, or at least not be so tense, when they are exposed to their phobia.

Seek help
The best approach to overcoming a phobia is to seek help. While every phobic person is unique and requires a treatment plan that specifically addresses his phobia, Lombardo says that phobias are very treatable with the right approach. "Sites like, and many insurance company sites, allow you to search for a psychologist by location and specialty -- in this case, phobias," Lombardo says. "If you are really in a bind for money, community mental health center[s] could be an option. Or look into a local graduate program for psychologists or counselors. Often students, under the supervision of licensed professionals, will work with clients for little or no money."

Courtesy of MSN
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Published by Gusti Putra at: 3:08 AM

Monday, February 13, 2012

Meanings of 10 Valentine's Day Flowers

Whether you’re planning to give—or hoping to receive—flowers this Valentine’s Day, brushing up on the meaning behind the blooms will likely inform your choices or heighten your appreciation of your sweet-smelling gift. Think a rose is just a rose? Read on to find out what 10 popular Valentine’s Day flowers really symbolize.


Not surprisingly, this classic bud is “the most popular choice for Valentine’s Day,” says Kate Law, Product Design Manager at It could be because red roses symbolize love, romance, beauty and perfection. The iconic flower is also known for being pricey—according to Michael Gaffney, Director of the New York School of Flower Design, “flower growers hold back their rose bushes for months in order to have them bloom in time for February 14th—and then they raise the prices, giving roses that sought-after reputation.”

Gerbera Daisies

Daisies are known for symbolizing beauty, innocence and purity, says Law. The Gerbera variety, recognizable by their large flowering heads, is available in an assortment of peppy hues, which gives them the additional meaning of cheerfulness. The happy buds are “always a favorite to receive,” she says.


“Tulips stand for perfect love,” says Gaffney. The elegant and easily identifiable blooms are one of the most popular flowers in the world but are most often associated with the Netherlands, where they flourished in the 17th century. They convey comfort and warmth, says Law, and are a good Valentine’s Day pick since they’re classic and affordable.


Otherwise known as Peruvian lilies, these long-lasting, attention-grabbing petals represent friendship and devotion, says Law. They’re native to South America and feature multiple blooms per stem, which make for voluptuous arrangements. Perhaps best of all, they’re easy to find in most neighborhood supermarkets.

Casa Blanca Lilies

These white Oriental lilies typically stand for “beauty, class and style,” says Gaffney. “A man who creates a bouquet with these dramatic—and expensive––lilies is sophisticated and knows his partner well.” And, notes Law, people love these stunning blooms’ heady fragrance.


According to Gaffney, these rare blossoms symbolize love, beauty, luxury and strength. Plus, they send the message of exotic seduction. “If someone gives you orchids, they’re a little wilder than the person who goes for a dozen roses.” Orchids also hold up well over time, says Law, both in bouquets and pots.


These ruffled blooms stand for fascination and new love. “For some reason, carnations get a bad rap,” says Gaffney. “But I love them; they’re marvelous flowers.” Even better, these cheerful blooms are hearty and very affordable.


Like the sun they’re named for, these blossoms represent warmth and happiness, says Law. They also stand for loyalty, according to Gaffney. Though the bright yellow blooms scream summertime, these spirit-lifting flowers are available all year round.


In some parts of the world, dark blue or purple irises indicate royalty, according to Law. No matter their color (they’re most commonly seen in blue, white and yellow), they stand for faith and hope, says Gaffney. Mix them up with red tulips or daisies for a “striking combination,” suggests Law.


Loaded with fragrance, these elegant flowers signify purity and joy, and connote deep, old-fashioned love, says Gaffney. “The man who buys these likely has a history with the woman he’s buying them for.” Because they’re pricey and are sold as single blooms, they’ll definitely make a statement on the holiday.

Courtesy of Yahoo

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Published by Gusti Putra at: 8:03 PM

The 10 worst Valentine's Day gifts

The Teen Worst Presents

We know what you’re thinking: Valentine’s Day is a commercial holiday. It’s forced. It’s too much pressure. But if you’re dating this month, you’ll probably wind up roaming the aisles for a gift to give your date on February 14th. And, “like it or not, Valentine’s Day becomes a test in which you have to show you’ve been paying attention to the other person’s taste,” says Christine Silvestri, founder of Urban Shopping Adventures, which gives tours of LA’s shopping districts. 
But choosing the right gift can be quite a challenge: Too many frazzled sweethearts reach into the Valentine’s void for gift ideas and come up with something that’s just plain wrong. To help you avoid joining their ranks, we present the 10 worst presents possible — and what to give your sweetie instead.

1. Ye olde bouquet of red roses and baby’s breath
What’s wrong with it: Yes, you went out and got something nice and romantic. Unfortunately, certain types of flowers are the equivalent of a shrug because they are so predictable and clichéd... and the rose bouquet falls into this category quite neatly. Says Kristin, 40, of Lake Geneva, WI, “I was dating a guy who said he adored all my quirks and my adventurous spirit. Then he turned around and gave me a big bunch of roses with the lacy white stuff for Valentine’s. It was embarrassing, because I’m so not the kind of woman you give that to! It made me feel as if he didn’t really know me or get what I was all about.”

Indeed, Frank Leusner, manager of Delphinium Home, a popular gift shop in New York City, says this of the classic red and white bouquet: “There’s absolutely no thought behind it. It’s a copout because it’s just so expected.” Obviously, a gift that says “I’ve never paid attention to your tastes” or “This would also work well on a tombstone” is not a Valentine’s Day message worth sending. Or, consider the way Brittney Cason, relationship advisor for Elevate magazine in Charlotte, NC, puts it: “A gift should never make a woman wonder if you picked it out at the pharmacy while waiting to get a prescription filled on the way over.” 

A simple solution: Ask one of your more florally-inclined friends to name a cool-looking bloom (think calla lily, parrot tulip, Gerbera daisy) and then buy three dozen of those. Or order up a monochromatic bouquet of various blooms in your honey’s favorite color — arrangements look especially striking when the flowers are all one shade.

2. A box of assorted chocolates
What’s wrong with it: “Taking candy from guys you know on Valentine’s Day is the only thing more risky than taking candy from strangers,” says Amy Borkowsky, author of Statements: True Tales of Life, Love, and Credit Card Bills. Let’s face it — not all chocolates are created equal. And while a variety pack of sweets shows that you’re trying to cover the bases, the dark (or milk or white) secret is that some of these morsels will be, well, icky. Do the math: Out of every box of 15 assorted chocolates, a woman will probably have three or so favorites. And there’s all that crazy, frou-frou wrapping as part of the picture — enough satin and ribbon to fashion a child’s “princess bride” Halloween costume. So what would you rather get? Three chocolates you want and 21 you don’t — along with a lot of excess red metallic cardboard? Or a small box of something you actually like? 

A simple solution: This is where a hefty dose of your sweetie’s favorite sweet can come in handy. “Get creative with your packaging or give it as a gift within a gift — who wouldn’t like that?!” says Silvestri. “If you’re dating a Reese’s peanut butter cup gal, she’d rather have a bag of those in a nice hand-painted bowl or wrapped in a soft scarf than a lifetime supply of random chocolates in a heart-shaped box.” 

3. Jewelry in a ring-sized box
What’s wrong with it: In truth, most women love something glittery. But the biggest jewelry mistake a man can make is anything in a ring-size box — be it earrings, a pendant, or a 1 oz. tube of saffron — that’s not, in fact, an engagement ring. Women know there are five key probable proposal days (namely, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s, and her birthday), so giving her false hope on one of them is cruel. “When a girl sees that box, she’s either going to freak out because she’s not ready or hope that it is the ring and then be disappointed, so it’s lose-lose,” says Cason. 

A simple solution: Even if you do get her, say, pink sapphire earrings — which we’re sure she’ll love — wrap them in a shirt box just so she doesn’t get the wrong idea. 

4. Something girlie and decorative like a sachet, a candle holder, a silver wishing stone…
What’s wrong with it: We’re talking about things like rhinestone-studded soap dishes, elaborate aromatherapy dispensing devices, and other stuff people would never buy for themselves. “Anything red and pink and cutesy often winds up being kind of cheap and useless when you look at it on February 15th — the luster is gone,” says Borkowsky. “And any solid red trinket risks saying, ‘I love you — just enough to get you Christmas stuff at 75 percent off.’” Recalls Adrienne, 35, of Cincinnati, “My boyfriend tends to get me things like little heart-shaped pink velvet pincushions or a wreath of red satin hearts for Valentine’s Day, because he thinks that’s in keeping with the theme of the day. I wish I could tell him to stop wasting his money this way. I never use that stuff!” So before plunking down your dough, ask yourself, “Do I see this gift bringing my date pleasure and enjoyment... or do I see it winding up in his or her guest room?” The answer ought to make your purchase decision very clear. 

A simple solution: “Bath products are a great choice,” says Leusner. “You can find scents and formulas that suit your boyfriend or girlfriend’s personality, and most people really enjoy using them.” 

5. A cute stuffed animal bearing a message of love
What’s wrong with it: We’ve never heard anyone admit to expressing themselves best through plush koalas, yet that medium remains popular for many a romantic utterance. “It’s so cheesy,” says Leusner. “When you buy that gift, it could be for anyone — even a child. What’s an adult going to do with a stuffed animal?” We’ll tell you what: stuffed animals get tucked somewhere out-of-the-way. And when the romance dies, the Stuffed Bear of Love serves no practical purpose, so the recipient feels pathetic keeping it around as a reminder of her ex (that’s you) and donates it to a children’s charity. 

A simple solution: Cut to the chase and make a donation in your honey’s name to a charity you think he or she respects. Now that’s a thoughtful gift. 

6. Racy sleepwear
What’s wrong with it: Look, we all know that when you buy someone underwear, it’s more for you than for her. So don’t use Valentine’s Day as your excuse to present all the secret fantasies you’ve been keeping hidden away for the last 364 days. “A lot of the lingerie you see in stores for Valentine’s Day is opposite of women’s tastes,” warns Silvestri. Something that’s not her style can make her feel uncomfortable (figuratively and literally) — and criticized. The point of V-Day is to make couples feel happy about being together, so the last thing you want to say is “I don’t think you’re sexy enough — put this on.” 

A simple solution: Buy a black or lacy version of a type of undergarment she already wears, if you two are intimate enough to know that kind of thing. At least you know you’re somewhere within her comfort zone. Or acknowledge the weather outside with something that will actually caress her skin for more hours than you: long, silk underwear. 

7. Anything that could be considered a small appliance
What’s wrong with it: A toaster, a humidifier, a yogurt maker... trust us, if she needed it so badly, she’d have gotten it already. “Being too practical is a real romance killer — no one wants anything with an electrical cord for Valentine’s Day,” says Silvestri. (Disclaimer: This rule can be waived if you’re buying an mp3 player or pre-loading a digital camera with shots of yourself holding up signs that say “Will you marry me?”). Here’s how one recipient puts it: “My boyfriend knows I love to cook, especially Asian food. But when I unwrapped a rice cooker last Valentine’s Day,” says Amy, 39, of Portland, ME, “it just felt very roommate-like or haus-frau-ish... as if he didn’t see me as this amazing woman who rocks his world.” 

A simple solution: Get her something she absolutely does not need but that you know she’d love, whether it’s a helicopter tour of the city or a pair of microfiber massaging slippers. C’mon, it’s a day for romance, which is supposed to be fun — think about her definition of that and shop accordingly. 

8. A nice bottle of cologne or perfume
What’s wrong with it: It’s a time-honored gift, and all that fancy packaging might actually make you think you’re buying something your pumpkin will love. But the same spritz that reminds you of a splendid beach holiday in Europe may smell like bath day at the zoo to your beloved. Problem is, “Perfume choice is so specific that it’s a real challenge,” says Leusner. “It’s almost impossible to know what smells good to another person.” And let us not forget that nothing says “You smell weird” better than a bottle of concentrated fragrance. Recalls Danielle, 29, of Oakbrook, IL: “I like really feminine floral perfumes. When my boyfriend gave me this intense, musky stuff one year, I felt like, ‘Do you not know how I like to smell? or are you trying to tell me you wished I smelled like someone else?’ It really did a number on my confidence!” 

A simple solution: Buy a soap, aftershave, or other body product in a fragrance that your loved one already has, or go for a high-end unscented body lotion. 

9. A tie
What’s wrong with it: “Women actually have a harder time than men shopping at Valentine’s Day, because there are fewer gift options for men than for women,” says Silvestri. “Still, a tie is a big yawn.” It’s amazing how many women complain about generic gifts and then hit the tie aisle for their man. At best, the tie is by a great designer — which the guy likely won’t care about. At worst, it’s a novelty accessory featuring pigs, the Blues Brothers, or some other unwearable gimmick. But usually, it’s just “about” the color the guy usually wears, meaning he already owns a dozen of ’em.

A simple solution: Head a little further into the menswear section and pick out a great scarf instead — it’s more casual and therefore more wearable; some fun or extra-soft (cashmere, maybe) socks; or another item that shows a dash more originality. 

10. A gift certificate
What’s wrong with it: It’s one thing to not know exactly what your cutie might want, but it’s another to throw in the towel entirely. “Gift cards are too impersonal and disappointing,” says Borkowsky. “There’s no actual gift, yet you know how much someone spent. It’s like saying, ‘Happy Valentine’s Day, honey — I got you a price tag!’” Any gift for a service or store your partner doesn’t already frequent could be read as your attempt to change the person to your pleasing. 

A simple solution: Take the money, reread our suggestions above, and give gift-giving your best shot. Or, to earn bonus points, call your honey’s best pal and ask what to get — that will make a great impression on many levels. 

Adapted from Yahoo
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Published by Gusti Putra at: 7:45 PM

Saturday, February 04, 2012

6 Wedding Traditions No One Will Miss

A wedding wouldn't be a wedding without a kiss at the end of the ceremony, some food, and some fun. But I'm willing to bet guests wouldn't be too upset if more brides skipped these wedding traditions at nuptials.

Separating the Bride's Side From the Groom's at the Wedding Ceremony

The bride's family and friends sit on the left, the groom's on the right...unless you're Jewish, and then it's the opposite. And at my and Paul's interfaith wedding ceremony, there was mass confusion (OK, not really, but there were some perplexed guests). Ushers would've helped, but you know what would've been even better: if we had a big sign that said, "Sit where you like!" In fact, I wish every bride and groom allowed guests to sit wherever they like (save the first row for the couple's VIPs).

Making a Grand Entrance into the Wedding Reception

We had our MC introduce all 19 members of our wedding party -- six bridesmaids, five groomsmen, a flower girl, a junior bridesmaid, two sets of parents, and me and Paul. As much fun as I had choosing songs for everyone to walk out to, I highly doubt our guests actually cared to watch the whole six-minute ordeal. I've been to weddings where the bride and groom themselves weren't even formally introduced on the mic, and I didn't pick up on that fact for quite some time.

Having a First Dance as Bride and Groom

I just went to a wedding where the newlyweds passed on this tradition. I didn't even notice until a few days later when I was trying to remember what song they had chosen for their first dance. So while some guests like to watch this, no one would be devastated if you forgo doing one. Parent dances, on the other hand, might be missed (especially by the parents).

Tossing the Garter

At the weddings I've been to, guys seem to like catching the garter. But I'd say that's more of a result of guys enjoying competition rather than wedding traditions. I've been to weddings where the garter wasn't thrown (my own included), and I've never heard a dude say, "Damn, I was hoping to catch the garter!"

Tossing the Bouquet

I confess: When I wasn't yet engaged, I was looking forward to attempting to catch the bouquet at my friend's wedding...except the bride never threw hers. I was probably the sole person in attendance who gave a hoot, and I cared only because I had caught the bouquet as a flower girl at my cousin's wedding, just to have it ripped away by the maid of honor (it's on videotape!). I tossed the bouquet at my wedding, but I don't think anyone would've minded if I hadn't.

Giving Out Wedding Favors

Paul and I bought 150 boxes of truffles...and there were probably about 20 left on tables at the end of the wedding reception. Brides and grooms often treat their guests to multi-course meals and good music, so those boxes of chocolates, picture frames, or personalized coasters (Engagement Chick spent HOURS making 300 of those!) are utterly unnecessary.

Adapted from MSN
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Published by Gusti Putra at: 12:51 AM

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

9 Secrets of Motivated People

Real-life strategies that will help you to actually accomplish the goals you’ve set for yourself this year.

New year, new you. It's the perennial January catchphrase that holds such conquer-the-world promise. And then, well, you get sidetracked with conquering your to-do list. But even the loftiest resolutions (running a marathon, writing a book) don't have to fall by the wayside come February. Staying motivated―and achieving what you set out to do on that bright New Year's Day―is surprisingly possible. Just follow these nine mantras, provided by researchers who study motivation and backed up by women who have used them to realize their biggest ambitions.

1. When you make a plan, anticipate bumps. Before even trying to achieve a goal, target potential pitfalls and troubleshoot them. Peter Gollwitzer, a professor of psychology at New York University, in New York City, says that people who plan for obstacles are more likely to stick with projects than those who don't. In a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Gollwitzer compared two groups of women who wanted to be more active. Both groups were given information on leading healthy lifestyles. But the second was also taught how to foresee obstacles (example: "The weather forecast is bad, but I'm planning to go for a jog") and work around them using if-then statements ("If it rains, then I'll go to the gym and use the treadmill rather than skip exercising altogether"). No surprise, those in the second group fared better. Michelle Tillis Lederman of New York City practiced this strategy when she was writing a book last year. She installed blinds on her home-office door to minimize disruptions and hired an editor to give feedback on each chapter so she wouldn't get stuck along the way. She also established rules, like checking e-mails only after she had written for two hours. "It was easier to follow this plan," says Lederman, "than to wrestle with every distraction in the moment." Her book, The 11 Laws of Likability (American Management Association), will be published later this year.

2. Channel the little engine that could―really. A person's drive is often based on what she believes about her abilities, not on how objectively talented she is, according to research by Albert Bandura, a professor of psychology at Stanford University. His work has shown that people who have perceived self-efficacy (that is, the belief that they can accomplish what they set out to do) perform better than those who don't. That self-belief is what helped Ingrid Daniels of Newark, New Jersey, leave a stable corporate job to develop a T-shirt line after the birth of her first child. "It never occurred to me I could fail, even though I had no experience," she says. Today Daniels runs two successful small businesses (the T-shirt company and a line of stationery), which allows her to stay at home with her three children.

3. Don't let your goals run wild... When your sights are too ambitious, they can backfire, burn you out, and actually become demotivating, says Lisa Ordóñez, a professor of management and organizations at the Eller College of Management, at the University of Arizona, in Tucson. Instead of aiming unrealistically high (such as trying to save enough money for a down payment on a home in six months), set goals that are a stretch but not an overreach (come up with a doable savings plan for your budget).

...But work on them everyday. According to Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us ($27,, taking small steps every day will not only help hold your interest in what you're trying to achieve but will also ensure that you move slowly, but surely, toward your goal. So, for example, set up a down-payment-fund jar and dump your change into it every night. You'll get a sense of accomplishment each day, to boot.

4. Go public with it. Instead of keeping your intentions to yourself, make them known to many. "Other people can help reinforce your behavior," says James Fowler, a political scientist who studies social networks at the University of California, San Diego. After all, it's harder to abandon a dream when you know that people are tracking your progress. Take Stefanie Samarripa of Dallas, 25, who wanted to lose 20 pounds. She created a blog and told all her friends to read it. "I wanted something to hold me accountable," she says. Samarripa weighs herself weekly and announces the result on Desperately Seeking Skinny ( During her first three weeks, she lost six pounds. "People read my updates and make comments, which helps me keep going," she says.

5. Lean on a support crew when struggling. Think of the friends and family who truly want to see you succeed. Enlisting those with whom you have authentic relationships is key when your motivation begins to wane. Choose people who may have seen you fail in the past and who know how much success means to you, says Edward L. Deci, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, in New York. For Jane Arginteanu of New York City, support came in the form of her fiancé, Glenn. Arginteanu had smoked from the time she was a teenager and had tried to quit before. When she decided to give it another go, Arginteanu says, "Glenn stood by me and told me, without ever issuing an ultimatum, that he wanted to grow old with me. That was terrific motivation." A year later, she's smoke-free.

6. Make yourself a priority. Put your needs first, even when it feels utterly selfish. You will derail your progress if you sacrifice yourself for others in order to please them (such as eating a cupcake that a coworker baked even though you're on a diet). A few years ago, Karen Holtgrefe of Cincinnati was at the bottom of her own priority list. "I had a demanding full-time job as a physical-therapy manager and was teaching physical therapy part-time," she says. "Plus, I had a husband and two children to care for." As a result, she found herself stressed-out, overweight, and suffering from constant backaches. "I hit a wall and realized I needed to make some changes for my sanity," Holtgrefe says. So she quit the part-time teaching job, joined Weight Watchers, and scheduled nonnegotiable walks six days a week―just for her. In a year, she lost 85 pounds, and her back pain (and stress) disappeared.

7. Challenge yourself―and change things up. It's hard to remain enthusiastic when everything stays the same, says Frank Busch, who has coached three Olympic swimming teams. To keep his athletes motivated, he constantly challenges and surprises them―adding a new exercise to a weight routine or giving them a break from one practice so they can recharge. Amy Litvak of Atlanta did the same thing. She had several half-marathons under her belt but wanted something new, so she signed up for a series of mini triathlons. "Each race was longer than the last or had a slightly different challenge," she says. She breezed through them and is now training for a full marathon.

8. Keep on learning. To refuel your efforts, focus on enjoying the process of getting to the goal, rather than just eyeing the finish line. Janet Casson of Queens, New York, set out to teach yoga. She completed her training, but finding a position took longer than anticipated. So she wouldn't lose steam and become discouraged, Casson used the time to perfect her skills. She attended workshops and studied with different teachers. "It was invigorating and kept me working toward my goal," says Casson, who now teaches five classes a week.

9. Remember the deeper meaning. You're more likely to realize a goal when it has true personal significance to you, according to Deci. (For example, "I want to learn to speak French so I can communicate with my Canadian relatives" is a more powerful reason than "I should learn French so that I can be a more cultured person.") And when the process isn't a pleasant one, it helps to recall that personal meaning. Not all dedicated gym-goers love working out, Deci points out, but because they have a deep desire to be healthy, they exercise week after week. Jennie Perez-Ray of Parsippany, New Jersey, is a good example of this. She was working full-time when she decided to get her master's degree. However, she knew that pursuing that goal would mean spending less time with her friends and family. "But I was the first person in my family to get a degree, so it was very important to me," Perez-Ray says. She kept this in mind every evening that she spent in the classroom. Although the sacrifices she made were hard, she reflects, "reaching my goal made it all worthwhile."

Adapted from MSN
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Published by Gusti Putra at: 12:23 AM

Sunday, January 08, 2012

5 Things Your Doctor Dislikes About You

Ask anyone what's wrong with the medical profession and you'll hear a long list of complaints: Too many pricey medications. Forever behind schedule. Always talks, never listens. Rushes me in and out of the examining room.
Don't get on your doctor's bad patient list
But people rarely hear what bugs doctors about patients. Their gripes are generally aired as doctors walk the hallways at medical meetings or chat behind closed doors at conferences. Here's your chance to find out what annoys your doctor.

1. You don't arrive on time 

"It drives [some] doctors crazy when patients turn up late for an appointment," says Mary Catherine Beach, M.D., of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. "You can see the irony in that because patients almost always have to wait to see their doctor." But quite often the reason you're left twiddling your thumbs is that someone who didn't arrive on time messed up the schedule. "If you come in late, I can almost guarantee that your doctor won't feel as happy toward you as if you'd been on time," she continues. Some doctors tolerate late arrivals better than others, but no one likes it. 

Here's a tip: Ask for the first appointment of the day, so you won't get caught up in other things before the appointment. This also works in the reverse - for doctors who always make you wait.
The Natural Approach To Reducing The Risk Of Heart Disease
Vegetable Juice Recipes - The Right Fat Reduction Approach

2. You treat your doctor's office as your personal assistant 

"Some patients want you to take responsibility for running their lives," says Dennis Cope, M.D., of the UCLA Department of Medicine. "I saw a woman recently who had to make arrangements to get to another medical appointment. She decided transportation was a medical problem and asked the staff to organize it. That's inappropriate." 

People who expected his assistant to run down and put money in the parking meter irked retired dentist Richard Price, former clinical instructor at the Boston University School of Dental Medicine. Even more outlandish, "one woman assumed I would pay her parking ticket because the meter ran out before I had finished treating her," he says. 

Here's a tip: If the problem doesn't directly involve your health, don't make it your doctor's or dentist's responsibility.

3. You don't admit that you're not taking your medicine 

Doctors become irritated with patients who don't take their medications. They don't know that their patients may not understand the directions, believe the drugs aren't working, experienced severe side effects or can't get to the pharmacy to fill the prescription. 

New York University Medical Center cardiologist Richard Stein, M.D., says he has some patients who listen carefully, fill their prescriptions and then take exactly half as much as they should. 

"If you don't tell me that you've cut the dose, I have to assume either that the medicine isn't working, in which case I'll switch you to a different one, or that the dose is too low, in which case I'll increase it," Stein continues. Neither choice solves the problem. 

Here's a tip: If your doctor gives you a prescription for a medicine that you hesitate to take, ask why you need it, whether a lower dose would work and whether there's a substitute or less expensive alternative.

4. You diagnose your own medical problem and tell the doctor how to treat it 

Doctors grumble about patients who diagnose their own ailments or direct their own treatment. "When patients start diagnosing their own problems, we all have a problem," says Boston University's Price. "I just want them to tell me their symptoms." 

Stein of New York University has the same complaint: "I don't want a patient to tell me what tests to order. Why come to me if your going to run your own case?" He adds, "It would be much better to ask, 'Does such-and-such a test make sense for me?' Then we could have a reasonable discussion." 

Here's a tip: Ask the doctor's advice, don't give him yours.

5. You start asking questions just as the doctor heads out the door 

To get the most out of the short time you have for an office visit - anywhere between 15 and 20 minutes at latest count - it pays to come prepared with a list of questions you'd like answered. But doctors inwardly groan when you pull out a long list just as your appointment's ending. To keep the smile on your doctor's face and get the answers you need, mention at the start of your appointment that you have some questions to go over. That way, says NYU's Stein, you'll alert your doctor to leave time at the end of the visit for your questions. 

Here's a tip: If you have a lot of questions, there may not be time to answer all of them. Put a star next to the five most important ones and ask those first.

Adapted from YAHOOshine
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Published by Gusti Putra at: 1:23 AM

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Animal-friendly Movies with Award Aspirations

Listen up, Oscar: These animals are naturals

This winter's film slate features a zoo full of creatures, a War Horse and a pack of adorable dogs.

The movie world is all a-Twitter
over Uggie's acting in 'The Artist.'
"It's amazing how many animals there are this year," marvels Mathilde de Cagny, the lead animal trainer for Hugo and Beginners, two animal-friendly movies with award aspirations. "Animals add such character to a movie, and people just automatically relate to them. They bring such warmth."

"Besides," she says, "they are a lot cheaper than actors."

Four-legged thespians have long been unappreciated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. But in this year of banner performances, here are five animals worthy of acting nominations.

The Dog in The Artist
He might be known simply as The Dog in the silent comedy, but star pooch Uggie has developed a cult following complete with his own Twitter account. The 10-year-old Jack Russell terrier steals the show as Jean Dujardin's sidekick — especially when burying his head in his paws at the breakfast table.
"That was Uggie playing shy," says owner and trainer Omar Von Muller. "I said 'bow' and he did it. It's a trick I use a lot, but it was perfect for this scene and this movie."

Uggie showed further range playing dead at a key moment and added serious heft with the life-saving sequence that would have made Lassie proud, alerting the authorities to his master's peril. "He was so awesome and energetic in that scene," says Von Muller.
Big credit goes to Dujardin's handling. "Besides being a great actor, he was a great dog handler," the trainer says. "Jean was always letting Uggie kiss him. He has a real natural way with dogs."

Joey in War Horse
It takes more than one horse to carry a Steven Spielberg epic about World War I. Trainer Bobby Lovgren says there were up to 10 horses used to play Joey — showing the arc of the animal's life from foal to adult. "I don't think there was one hero horse," he says. "They were all heroes."

But the scenes in which Joey is entangled in barbed wire in no-man's land is the emotional apex. Lovgren says the "barbed wire" was rubber and the horse's intense looks were extracted with various tricks. "Someone running with an umbrella in the background might make a difference, for example," he says.
For the pivotal scene when Joey lies down while the barbed wire is removed, Lovgren used his own experienced horse, Finder. "I've used him as a mare giving birth," Lovgren says. "He's very confident in those situations."

Arthur in Beginners
Beginners' star dog, whose real name is Cosmo, was rescued from a shelter by de Cagny. The 7-year-old Jack Russell terrier seems attached to co-star Ewan McGregor, especially in the achingly cute scene in which the pooch gets a tour of his new home in the romantic comedy/drama.

Liver treats helped Cosmo's performance, but de Cagny mostly cites human-dog chemistry. "It was all about the real, natural connection the two had on and off camera," she says. "And they are both great actors. Cosmo is so inquisitive, and Ewan's dog-loving just shows. I was pretty much just the dog's driver on this film."

The two bonded so closely that McGregor adopted a poodle mix after filming wrapped. Says de Cagny, "He said he just couldn't go on without a dog after that."
Buster in We Bought a Zoo
Bart the bear stands on his own next to star Matt Damon, which is not hard when you're a 1,200-pound grizzly. While Damon's scene with 12-year-old Bart (called Buster in the film) was shot on separate screens, the bear roar was pure drama.

"Bart was totally acting," says trainer Doug Seus. "He only acts ferocious and growling. It's a trained behavior. They dub in the roar." The bear's inspiration to hit his marks: praise and treats. "It's meat, apples, a hug and a 'Good boy,' " Seus says. "Everyone appreciates a pat on the back."

Maximilian in Hugo
Maximilian comes across as all growl on the film about an orphan who lives in a Paris train station. But Doberman pinschers are not the bravest of dogs, says trainer de Cagny. "I was surprised myself," she says.
So she split the duties of the guard dog assisting Sacha Baron Cohen's station inspector between three identical dogs, including a "smarter" female, Blackie, for complicated scenes that required hitting multiple marks. Director Martin Scorsese's wide shots also posed complications for the trainer, who had to keep out of sight.

Ultimately even Scorsese was pleased. "He didn't have much experience working with animals in movies," she says. "It was an eye-opening experience."

Adapted from USAToday

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Published by Gusti Putra at: 3:44 AM

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The 10 Best Guy Days of the Year

What makes a great day? For guys, they generally fall into two categories: days that involve some kind of success, either at work or with women, or days that offer simple pleasures and a respite from the stress of our adult lives. This list is devoted to the latter category. Here are 10 days of the year which, for men, offer an archipelago of sanity in the ocean of chaos that comprises the greater part of our daily lives.

Start of Fishing Season
Some things never go out of style. The act of casting a line into the water and hoping for a fish to rise has been immortalized in works as diverse as A River Runs Through It and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It's one of those heralded manly pursuits that gets at the heart of how we define leisure. Is it a pulse-pounding activity full of anticipation and excitement, or a couple guys spending the day sitting around drinking beer in a boat? It's both of these things, thus reflecting the dichotomy of how men have fun—we like excitement, but in limited doses, preferably supplemented with a cool beverage.

The Opening Round of March Madness
While other sports days like the Super Bowl are all about spectacle, March Madness is all about the game, or rather, the games—nothing in sport rivals the adrenaline rush of that first Thursday of the tournament, when 32 teams take the court to play all-out, do-or-die basketball. These are college kids, not jaded superstars. They play for pride and glory, backed by rabid student and alumni fans who follow every dribble and drive on a blood-and-bones level. There's a feeling that anything can happen, anybody can beat anybody, and any bracket—no matter how well-constructed—can fall apart in a heartbeat. It is the unquestioned pinnacle of the yearly sports calendar, and you will be hard-pressed to find a man anywhere who doesn't love it like he loves his first-born.

Your Birthday
Why shouldn't you enjoy your birthday? Too many guys waste the whole day complaining about getting older, as if there's anything they can do about it. The evolved man understands the nature of inevitability, and savors the increasing wisdom and perspective that comes with age. Plus, it's a day full of potential attention, with co-workers, friends and family all hovering around with well-wishes and presents. I don't know about you, but I can always use more well-wishes and presents.

The First Day of Barbecuing
As men, our hearts grow sick watching our precious grills spend the winter sheathed and forgotten on our decks and porches. Few things invigorate us more than that first sunny day of the year when the opportunity presents itself, the long-dormant grill is revived, and we savor the season's first whiff of flame-licked meat. The feeling can't easily be described. It rises up from a soup of primordial memory, an ancestral longing that dates back to our caveman origins. Men bond over a hot grill in a way that isn't repeated anywhere else. That all might sound a little overwrought. And maybe it is. But no matter how you feel about the age-old ritual of meat and fire itself, there's one thing we can all agree on: In the end, you end up with a delicious meal—and that at least is worth celebrating.

Father's Day
This day's worthiness for actual fathers is obvious; it's the only other day of the year besides your birthday (as we already discussed) when the focus is all on you. But even for non-fathers, the day has a certain appeal. First of all, fathers are much more blasé about the whole thing, and so the day lacks the pressure of Mother's Day (and don't get me started on "Mother-in-Law Day"). Plus, it's in mid-June, and so the pleasant onset of summer is palpably near.

The Summer Solstice
Human cultures have celebrated the summer solstice for millennia, and so for that alone this day merits acknowledgment. For modern men however, the day conjures a different set of visions. The official start of summer still seems like a holiday because of our childhood associations with long days off from school filled with idle play and hazy backyard afternoons. Even though we are now of working age, the kid inside rejoices when the constellations align just so, and we're gifted with daylight that lasts late into evening.

The Day Your Lawn Stops Growing
We men take great pride in our lawns. A well-maintained field of verdant grass is our Apollonian goal, a statement about not just our skill as gardeners and landscapers but a measure of our ability to exert control in an uncertain world. Our neighbors appreciate us, our friends respect us, and our wives love us all the more. That's all well and good, but let's be honest: The whole thing is a certifiable pain in the ass. In late spring, when we dream of lounging with the newspaper and a baseball game, we're instead dragging the mower out for yet another Sunday clipping. But then, mercifully, we hit a day somewhere in mid-late summer when nature shuts itself down. The grass takes on a slight brown hue, and though a few die-hards attempt to keep it lush year-round, the societal pressure is off. The mower can again be retired until next spring without complaint from the wife, and our Sundays are once again our own.

Your Anniversary
Yeah, I know what you're going to say. You'll say, "Are you nuts? I have to get a present, make restaurant reservations, find a sitter, and of course, remember the date in the first place. What's fun about that?" But it doesn't have to be that way. First off, you should memorize and remember the date. Period. It's just something you do when you're a mature man of the world. Second, if you play it right, it's actually a very easy win for you. You go out with your wife, who will be dressed to kill, and spend the evening canoodling over candlelight while reminiscing about the day you met. Good food is usually involved. And then—with any luck—you have sex. Keep it simple, enjoy your partner, and avoid having a bad day by not prioritizing it enough, in which case there will be no sex involved.

The First Cold Night of the Year You Can Light a Fire
The response men have to fire is high on the list of primal instincts. As we saw before, the urge to make fire expresses itself in summer by our frequent barbecuing. As winter sets in, things get more literal. Any man with a fireplace, whether gas or wood-burning, knows the joy of that initial flicker of flame. A cold, dark room is suddenly made warm and friendly. These men with fireplaces also know the erotic potential of a roaring fire, how easy it is to find oneself engaged carnally with women who—without exception—are made weak in the knees by firelight, soft music and a glass of white wine. If you know a man who is without a fireplace, buy him an outdoor fire pit for Christmas. He will thank you later.

Super Bowl Sunday
Why do we love it so much? It's not really about the game itself, though recent Super Bowls have yielded interesting match-ups and fantastic finishes. No, the real draw is the overt trashiness of it all. We eat retro, junky food like chili-cheese pizza and fried jalapenos slathered in ranch dressing. It's all about mass appeal, a celebration of modern excess and Americana that gives us an excuse to gather with friends and drink beer in the dead of winter. It's that rare television event we can all share together, like the "Seinfeld" finale or "Lost" (the first season, anyway). We even enjoy watching the commercials, for God's sake.

Adapted from MSN

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Published by Gusti Putra at: 3:03 PM

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

10 Most Dangerous Toys Named

10 most dangerous toys flagged by consumer group
‘That is a weapon,’ watchdog organization’s president says about the Z-Curve Bow
BOSTON — A Power Rangers "samurai mega blade" and a Godzilla figure with dagger-like attachments are some of the most dangerous toys lurking in stores this holiday season, according to a consumer watchdog group.

Boston-based World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH) on Wednesday issued its annual list of the 10 worst children's toys, just in time for the shopping frenzy that typically starts in late November.
This pull-toy duck made by Haba for toddlers may
look innocent but it has a 33-inch long cord
that poses a serious strangulation risk, according to
consumer group World Against Toys Causing Harm.

On the list were items the group said pose risks for choking, electrocution, puncture wounds and more.
Joan Siff, president of WATCH, said there have been at least 28 toy recalls representing 3.8 million units in the United States over the past year.

"Any recall is too late in the process," she said, urging better vetting and testing of toys before they go on sale. "Testing cannot take place in the marketplace."

The group has produced its list each year since 1973, and has been successful in getting a number of toys pulled from the shelves. It found this year's selections at leading big-box retailers, online, and in small specialty stores.

James Swartz, a director of WATCH, demonstrated the "Z-Curve Bow," a foam bow and arrow set recommended for kids eight and over.

A warning label suggested the bow should not be pulled back "at more than half strength" and that "anyone at close distance to the target should be alerted" before firing.

"That is a weapon," Swartz said, shooting an arrow into a wall with a loud thud.
Also featured was a "Fold & Go Trampoline" which came with the warning it should only be used for controlled bouncing.

"What young child has the ability, the desire, the knowledge to use it in that manner?" said Swartz. "That's not possible in the real world."

German wooden toys seem sturdy and rather quaint. But a wooden duck, sold for babies as young as a year, has a pull cord about 33 inches long — a potential strangulation hazard.

The industry's standard limits strings on cribs and playpen toys to 12 inches.

Toys often have thematic tie-ins to popular movies, television shows or books, arguably making them likely choices for shoppers looking for a familiar brand.

On the "Sword Fighting Jack Sparrow" figurine, fashioned after Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp, the pirate's right hand is armed with a 4-inch long, rigid, plastic sword.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission reports that in 2009 about 250,000 toy-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms, a number that has been rising.

Reports of toy hazards, however, "needlessly frighten parents" this time of year, said the Toy Industry Association. It said less than half of one percent of the estimated 3 billion toys sold each year in the United States are recalled.

"Toys are safer now than they've ever been," said Stacy Leistner, a spokesman for the Toy Industry Association, the trade group for the North American toy industry.

The design, testing, production and inspection of toys are constantly being strengthened, the group said.
"Certainly from the industry, safety is our number one priority year round, not just at the holidays," Leistner said.

Sources: MSN
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Published by Gusti Putra at: 8:26 AM

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Why We Can’t Buy Happiness, But Try to Anyway

In 1972, the percentage of Americans who said they were “pretty happy” was about 50%. In the years since, the U.S.’s standard of living has risen dramatically, and our gross domestic product per capita has increased by 96%. That means we have more, we consume more and we can afford more. But today, what percentage of Americans say they’re “pretty happy?” Fifty percent. In a new book out Nov. 8, Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy, Marketing Professor Dr. James Roberts analyzes why we buy more, more, more but just don’t think we’re any better off. In fact, we seem to think things are even worse.
In your book, you write that over the last several decades, we’ve consumed more and more products, but we’re just as happy as we were 40 years ago. So, what’s wrong with us?

We have short-term amnesia as consumers, and not only are we really not any happier than we were, we’re probably worse off. What we’ve found after every recession in modern times is that we’ve actually up-ticked our spending afterward, but we’re finding that what we thought would bring us happiness, all this extra increase in consumption, just doesn’t deliver the goods. So it’s not only that our happiness has not increased, but there’re a number of studies that tell us we are more depressed, more suicidal, more psychotic, more anxious, more stressed than we were 30, 40 years ago.

It seems that consuming is in our DNA, but we still bare responsibility for our actions, right?

Most of the research says we can blame about 50% of our problems on our personality. We have been programmed as human beings to store up materials for the future when there may not be food available. That was a good thing for us when we were living in the era of scarcity. But now in the era of abundance, we haven’t learned that there’s plenty tomorrow. We’re still storing up, and we just never seem to fill that void.

You write that we seem to understand that money doesn’t bring happiness. But knowing that appears to have no affect on our behavior.

As much as we’re refined and have elevated ourselves from those more primordial concerns, we’re still that caveman under the stress of not having enough. People want to blame marketers and say, “Well, it’s all this advertising.” That may have accelerated it, but you don’t have to look that far back to see that before TV or radio, we had the gold rush, or the Egyptian rulers who were buried with their gold because they thought it would give them an easier entrance into the afterlife.

We’ve always had this idea of the American Dream: a nice house, picket fence. How has the definition changed over the last few years?

It started out with the puritan work ethic that we were to scrimp and save through hard work, patience and perseverance. Then the goal was just to have some level of comfort. But we have perverted the American Dream. We’ve perverted the little white house with the picket fence and the car in the driveway to the 3-car garage with a Hummer out front, the 3,000-square foot house and jewelry and everything that goes along with it. It’s the American Dream on steroids. Today we want the easy wealth without the work.

Do you think this recession will have long-lasting impacts on our behavior?

Just the fact that we’re having another recession and we’re caught with our pants down with no money and savings, suggests that we didn’t learn from the previous recession. As soon as we see the light at the end of the tunnel, we’re back out there with our credit cards in hand at the mall.

Does it feel funny writing a book about the hazards of consumerist culture considering you’re a professor of marketing?

I’m kind of on the dark side. I teach consumer behavior and advertising, yet a lot of what I talk about is, How does all this advertising and marketing impact us as human beings? How does it impact our society? So, yeah, I’m a bit of anomaly in the marketing faculty.

Do you think we can get out of this cycle of more, more, more?

If we can’t convince ourselves that money and material possessions won’t bring us happiness, we are forever going to be chasing that golden ring. So really the change has to be attitudinal. Once we can do that, if we can do that, then the behaviors will follow. Then we’ll start to say, well I don’t need that watch, or that fancy car or that big house. I don’t want to be misunderstood — I’m not saying money is evil. Money plays a very important role in our lives. But the point is that it’s got to be held in balance with all our other important values. Money is a poor master but a good servant. If you allow it to run your life, you are going to be unhappy. But if you use it to live a reasonable life and to help others, you’re going to find great happiness in a moderate level of material possessions and affluence.

So is it unrealistic to think that we could ever get out of these habits? Are you concerned your book will have zero impact?

People are so busy that they really don’t have time to reflect on their behaviors. Someone asked me  – How do you justify or rationalize people spending $20-$25 for a book when you’re trying to tell people not to spend money? And that’s a good question. My answer is, this is an investment that can literally change your life. There’ve been some studies that have shown that overly materialistic men spend less time with their families and are more likely to get divorced from their wives. So it isn’t just a pocketbook thing. It’s about quality of life. I don’t think people realize how much our attitudes toward money and possessions impact that.

Sources: Moneyland
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Published by Gusti Putra at: 9:25 PM