Monthly Archives: June 2013
How to Haggle for the Right Price
Anyone who has visited Canal St. in New York City knows that half the fun of scoring cheap baubles is haggling on the price. If I can get the pashmina for $3 instead of $5, it is that much more beautiful to me. But on the flip side, I am typically extremely disappointed if someone turns down my offers to bargain and really sticks with their original sticker value. My usual technique is to name a price a bit below what I want to pay, have my high number in mind of what I’ll actually pay to own it, and gradually come up from the low number until we’ve reached a deal. Sometimes they bite on the low number, and sometimes we meet in the middle. Now research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology (that I read about on The Scoop) has some handy tips on how to get the deal you want.
Studies completed by the Columbia Business School found that when hagglers gave a specific figure (think $4.35 instead of $5), they were more likely to receive a price closer to the number they wanted. The exact figure shows the seller you know what you’re talking about, and are sure about what you should pay, while rounding off to a $5 figure implies uncertainty. That being said, whenever you’re negotiating for a price, make sure you’ve done the research, and know it’s real worth. The seller knows its value, and picking a price near that will guarantee you more success.
What’s the best deal you’ve ever gotten after bargaining for the right price?
10 Tips to Be More Optimistic
You already know that looking on the bright side is way more fun than being a Debbie Downer all the time. But what if it’s just not a part of your nature, and instead of seeing the silver linings, you’re more prone to seeing the big gray cloud hanging over your head? Well, you’re in luck! Author David Mezzapelle shared 10 ways that even the worst pessimist can try to be a little more optimistic.
- Be Thankful: If you aren’t aware of the good stuff you have going on, it’s hard to be happy with your life. Take stock of what is going right in your life, and what is going wrong. This will make you value what you’ve already got, and help you figure out how to turn those not so great things around. Hopefully 6 months from now, those awful things will be lessons that taught you something great that you can appreciate after the hardship is over.
- Tell Others Your Stories: By telling other people about the times you really messed up and how you coped, you pay it forward, making it easier for someone else to avoid those pitfalls you found first (and just in case you didn’t know, paying it forward will make you feel pretty good too).
- Don’t Hold Grudges: When you carry around bad feelings towards someone else, the only person they will make feel bad is you. Forgive and move on because while you can learn from it, you can’t change what’s happened in the past.
- Really Listen: Don’t half-listen while you play a game on your iphone. When you’re distracted, you send others the message that you don’t care about what they’re saying, and block yourself off from learning new things.
- Use the Green Monster: When you’re jealous or envious of what someone else has, that probably means you want something they have. Instead of festering about it, pick their brain and figure out how you can get it too – take that negative energy and use it to get what you want.
- Smile More: When you smile (even if you’re faking it), your body releases serotonin that will boost your mood. Frowning just gives you wrinkles.
- Lead a Healthy Lifestyle: Try to be active, eat healthy nourishing food, and get a little sunlight most days. Park farther away from the store. Take the stairs. Grab a pack of almonds instead of a candy bar at the drug store, and use that lunch break to go get some fresh air. Your body will thank you with better focus, higher levels of vitamin D, and a boost of energy.
- Think Good Things About the Future: Try not to always jump for the worst case scenario. Picturing the opportunities that will open up ahead of you instead of doors slamming in your face will help you see your life in a more positive light. Reposition the situation to one that has (even if it’s really tiny) some sort of pleasant effect on your life at the end, even if it sucks going through the steps you need to get there.
- Take Charge: Don’t blame things that are going wrong in your life on other people, the economy or politicians. If you decide you’re in control of your own life instead of looking for a scapegoat, you’ll be more open to opportunities that might come your way to get you out of that scenario.
- Know that the Past does not Predict the Future: If you had a crappy childhood, that does not mean you’re doomed to a crappy adulthood. If you screwed up your last relationship, it doesn’t mean you’ll fail at the next. When you go through something difficult, you typically learn something. Instead, think of it as a hurdle you’ve already jumped. Now the path is clear to move forward unobstructed.
What do you do when you’re in a funk, and want to look on the bright side?
Help Others to Improve Your Health
I have in quite a few bridal parties, and as much as I love being a part of my friends’ special days, that business is expensive. From showers, to dresses, and bachelorette parties, it’s a financial investment (albeit one I am happy to make) in my friendships. Today, my most recent bridesmaid dress was dropped off for alterations, a little strap tweak in time for the ceremony just under two weeks. Now, this isn’t my first time in the alterations game, and typically tailors will charge a set amount for any small alteration (think shortening and adjusting straps), then up the price for more major jobs (like taking in or letting out globally for the garment). But this lovely women told my friend that for two dresses with just a small strap adjustment she would not accept any payment. She would not accept a gift card in thanks. What she wanted was only for us to pay her small kindness forward by either donating time or items to our favorite charity, or doing a good deed for another. I was bowled over by her generosity with her time to make a wedding a little bit less expensive for two complete strangers. It certainly made my day.
And, it probably made hers. There is something incredibly uplifting about doing something kind or generous for a stranger. Anyone who has donated to a thrift shop, or helped an elderly person cross the street knows that good feeling you get when you help someone else. In addition, the Huffington Post reported it can have real health benefits for do-gooders. Doing a random act of kindness for a stranger can improve heart health, contribute to lower blood pressure by triggering a release of oxytocin which opens blood vessels and protects the heart, and as an added side effect is can boost your mood to make you an overall happier person. So, keep it up! Doing good for others is good for them, good for your mood, and good for your health.
Has a stranger ever given you a random act of kindness? Have you given one to someone else?
National Park Service Brings Healthy Food to Concession Stands
One of the hardest things about travel (and especially road trips) is that when you’re stopping for a quick bite on the road, there aren’t a lot of healthy choices. Even if you pull off an exit and look for a restaurant, chance are you’d have a hard time finding healthy fare like fresh fruits and vegetables or lean meats on the menu. While I have noticed that the airports of New York City tend to carry health conscious options like chopped fruit and yogurt, many other places I visit there is a choice between slim jims, taquitos or soft serve. Now national parks, places dedicated to sustaining nature and being active among our country’s beauty, are taking a first step to fix all of that. On June 5th, the National Park Service released an announcement that they would roll out healthy concession items across the country as part of the Healthy and Sustainable Food Program. Parks will still have hot dogs, but will have bison hot dogs as a leaner option available. They’ll carry things like black bean and grass-fed beef burgers, vegetable based soups, and produce gathered from local farms. The menu is priced affordably, and tries to use locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, with the main goal of keeping a healthy vacation – walking around a national park- chock full of healthy benefits.
Keep a Cool Head with Cooler Temps
When you want someone to stay calm and collected, you tell them to keep a cool head. When someone has a fierce mean streak we call them hot tempered. As a society, we naturally make associations between being emotional and heat, and being rational with cold. Now, as it happens, there is some scientific backing to that generalization. A study published in Acta Psychologica (that I read about on Women’s Health The Scoop) found that when people experienced exposure to cool temperatures, they were more able to understand other’s point of view. Being cool physically allowed the study participants to place themselves in another person’s shoes, imagining how they would feel in the situation. Other research has shown that warm temperatures are linked with feeling friendly and similar to those who you share the space with (think sitting around a fire with friends). This may make you feel connected while simultaneously allowing you to project your feelings onto others, imagining they are feeling the same way you are. Physical coolness emphasizes the distance between you and another person, which can limit this reaction, and let you more fully observe their feelings without the interference of your own.
Upgrading Your Self Talk from Negative to Positive
I’ve been reading Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps, the first book by Kelly Williams Brown of Adulting Blog fame. It has alternately made me laugh out loud, think pshaw Kelly! I already knew that!, and kick myself for not have completed this crucial step to adulthood sooner. Step 15 is, “When necessary, look yourself in the mirror and give yourself some Real Talk.” The expression Real Talk – popularized by the R Kelly song – is defined by Urban Dictionary as no joke, you actually mean what you’re saying, or talking honestly and sincerely. It’s a term which Williams Brown interprets to mean, giving yourself a straightforward self talk – like if you’re crying in the bathroom at work, looking in the mirror and telling yourself to get your act together and go on with the day, which she takes time to note is NOT the same as berating yourself. Negative thoughts, or internally putting yourself down is something I’m sure a lot of us are guilty of – thinking our hips are too big, our outfit isn’t fashionable enough, our job isn’t making us successful enough. But that way of thinking? It’s not going to get you anywhere.
This article on The Huffington Post give several helpful tips on how to upgrade your self-talk, or internal soundtrack from negative to neutral or positive, if you find negative thoughts taking over your day.
- First thing’s first – deciding you want to stop thinking negatively, and think positively is step numero uno.
- Next, start being aware whenever negative thoughts come into your mind. Note them, and move on.
- Be nice to yourself, and don’t beat yourself up when you notice you’re having negative thoughts even though you don’t want to anymore.
- Think of a response to your negative thoughts that you’ll use every time you notice them popping up. Feel free to be witty, and funny like you would at happy hour if your bestie was trashing the outfit she was wearing.
Try it out, then repeat until your self-talk and Real Talk take on a more positive note. How do you deal when you find yourself being negative?
On Being Creative
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Cue App to Make the Most of Your Day
I don’t know about you guys, but I organize my life primarily with my Google Calendar. I don’t know how I used to plan social events and remember to attend them now without it. And yes, that means I am the annoying friend who will blow up your inbox with Google invites to the concert we’re going to, so sorry (I’m not sorry) if my organized approach to maximum fun offends you. I have been emailing out lists of activities I want to do in the summer with Google invites since I discovered the Vanity Fair summer guide in 2011. But currently, I am in a weird limbo period where I have really given up using a paper calendar, except for work purposes and my Cute Overload tear-away-a-day, and haven’t gone to the trouble of transferring people’s birthdays, anniversaries and other important dates over into my digital calendar.
Now, thanks to the wonders of technology, I don’t have to! Cue, a free app designed to be your personal assistant, will organize your digital life for you into easily digestible days of activities. It syncs with your Google calendar, contacts, Facebook, twitter, Gmail and AOL accounts then connects all of that info together in a useful way. It allows you to see any event tagged for the day in a central place, and (hopefully) will stop me from forgetting my loved one’s birthdays when I just haven’t signed into Facebook recently. It checks your email for flight, travel confirmations, and automatically puts them in your events, and (!) a feature I haven’t yet tried, but read is pretty amazing is that if you have a dinner you are running late to with contacts logged in your phone, you can use the app to automatically and centrally text or email everyone you tagged as attending so you don’t have to while you’re rushing to get there!