Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a once a year deal. You can use the “Thanksgiving Effect” to feel happier year-round. Study after study proves that saying “thanks” regularly can have the same mood boosting benefits as prescription medication – without the negative side effects.
In fact, gratitude is so powerful there’s a whole field of research dedicated to it. Dr. Robert Emmons, a leader in the field and the author of The Psychology of Gratitude, says being grateful increases your chances of being successful in work, love and life. So, here’s how to use gratitude everyday.
- The next time you have a small setback – like a fight with a friend or a stressful assignment from the boss – jot a note to a friend or relative thanking them for doing something that made you happy. People who do that automatically feel stronger in the face of adversity.
- If a friend does you a favor – don’t say “I owe you one.” Being indebted to someone increases feelings of stress. Instead, just say thanks. Data from the Institute of Heart Math shows that people who regularly feel appreciation toward others have healthier heartbeats.
- Writing in a gratitude journal is another way to add years to your life, but it doesn’t have to be a huge commitment. People who list the things they’re thankful for only once a week get the same benefits as those who write daily.
- You can even use gratitude to reduce your stress on the way to work. People who are stressed out and unhappy at work are more susceptible to heart attack and stroke. You can squash all those negative effects on the way in. No matter how late you’re running, do a gratitude exercise. Focus on everything that’s gone right. The dog did his business outside – your wife looked pretty as she kissed you goodbye – or even that the traffic is going faster than a snail. Thinking those thoughts will immediately boost your enthusiasm, alertness and energy – and reduce your blood pressure and stress.
Are you dreaming of serving the perfect thanksgiving turkey? If so, throw out everything you thought you knew about cooking a bird. I have tips from the world’s greatest chefs that’ll turn your Thanksgiving meal into a four star experience!
First things first: buy an oven safe, electric thermometer with a digital read-out! Chef Rich Torrisso has been roasting meats for years in his two New York Restaurants. He says a digital thermometer takes the guesswork out of cooking meat. When the turkey hits 140 degrees you pull it out of the oven and let it rest under a tinfoil tent. It’ll continue to cook under there for a while. When it hits 165 degrees, start carving!
Turkey tip number two comes from celebrity chef Bobby Flay. He says forget about cooking the turkey whole. That’s a recipe for dry, tough meat. Instead roast the bird until the breasts are done – and you’ll know they’re done because of your digital thermometer reads 140 degrees! Then, cut off the legs and thighs and throw them in with the pan drippings to continue cooking while the breasts rest.
Flay also recommends keeping a pot of chicken stock bubbling away on the stove all day. You can use it in the stuffing, and to make gravy. Just before you serve the turkey, ladle a little bit over the meat to keep it moist.
The final turkey tip comes from James Beard Award winner Gabrielle Hamilton. She says do yourself a favor and don’t try to DO everything yourself. If you have a recipe that calls for peeled chestnuts, buy them peeled and if you’ve been slaving over a zillion dishes, no one will mind if the cranberries are canned.
Let’s talk about Thanksgiving and your pet. Many dishes that make holiday meals special for humans can be harmful to your dog or cat. So, here are some tips for keeping your pet safe, courtesy of the ASPCA:
- Stick to your pet’s regular diet. Diana Guerrero is an animal behavior specialist and publisher of the website ArkAnimals.com. She says that not sharing the drumstick with your dog or cat shouldn’t make you feel guilty - in fact, you’re doing them a favor! Turkey skin can cause pancreatitis, bones can puncture the digestive tract, and undercooked turkey can cause salmonella.
- Speaking of salmonella: Cooks should wash their hands before touching an animal. According tothe experts at Petsmart, many animals get food poisoning when they’re fed or petted by someone who’s handled raw poultry.
- Pet safety tip #3: Watch the spices. Onions, garlic, and sage sound like the start of a good stuffing recipe, but they’re big trouble for pets. Onions and garlic contain a compound called thiosulphate, which is toxic to pets, and sage and many other herbs contain oils that can depress an animal’s central nervous system.
- Secure the trash. According to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, many emergencies happen the day after Thanksgiving, when an animal smells goodies in the trash can. In addition to all the unhealthy food, your dog or cat can ingest things like pop-up timers, foil, and plastic wrap. So be sure to double bag all your trash and place it in a secure container.
There's no doubt that living with two happy parents is the best thing for children, but with the divorce rate over 50%, that's not always a reality. However - the operative word to keep in mind here is happy. Lisa Strohschein, a professor in the sociology department of the University of Alberta, says that living with unhappy parents is actually harder on kids than divorce! Here are the details, courtesy of Web MD:
- Strohschein followed thousands of children for four years. They all started out living in two parent households, but about half those marriages ended in divorce.
- Compared with kids whose parents remained married, the children of divorced parents exhibited more antisocial behavior, such as lying, cheating and bullying. They also were more likely to be diagnosed with depression.
- The problems these kids had started while they lived with both parents. In fact, their behavior improved after the split.
Strohschein says her research shows it's living in a dysfunctional household - not divorce - that causes a lot of bad behavior. Psychologist Judith Primavera - who's published research on children of divorce - agrees. She says that your marital problems don't need to be of the Jerry Springer variety. In her work, she's found that troubled couples who don't fight verbally stress their kids out almost as much as hot-blooded parents. That's because when people live in the same house but don't interact like a couple, children have more trouble in school and more difficulty socializing. This might be the most important point: Since children learn how to have adult relationships from their parents, staying in an unhappy marriage for their sake increases your child's chances of being in a similar situation one day.Continue Reading
Families can be tough. And now there's statistical proof.
There's a new book out called "The Pecking Order: Which Siblings Succeed and Why" by Dalton Conley, Director of Social Science Research at New York University. And in his studies, Conley found that a child's place in the family is a strong predictor of how their life will turn out in the long run. He based his research on data from hundreds of thousands of families. So the next time you're munching on a drumstick at Thanksgiving dinner, think about a few of these.
- Those with the worst chance for financial success are middle children and children with skin darker than their siblings.
- In large families, the struggle for attention from the parents creates identities that stick through adulthood. Kids from large families feel more pressure to stand out either by achieving more or by rebelling and causing trouble.
- And in families with 3 or more kids, there will often be a drastic difference in the kids' financial outcome. One sibling tends to be a lot richer than the others.
- When it comes to divorce, it's hardest on the eldest child. Especially if the eldest is a daughter, because she'll often have to take on more housework, take care of younger siblings, and give emotional support to the single parent. That oldest daughter often gets trapped in that sacrifice role and ends up having a harder life than her younger siblings.
- In families with a stay-at-home mom, brothers are more likely to get college degrees than their sisters. When the mother works outside the home, those differences disappear.
But Conley wants everyone to know that these are statistics, not the rule. So any predicted outcome can be changed.Continue Reading
Before you dig into that Thanksgiving spread this year, take time to think about what’s in front of you. Here’s an eating guide:
First: The bird. If you’re preparing the turkey, don’t buy the “self-basting” kind, which is injected with a solution that’s supposed to help “improve” the flavor and juiciness of the meat. Those turkeys have nearly twice the fat and salt as the old-fashioned kind. And skip the skin altogether – that’s where almost all the fat is.
Next: Cranberry sauce. As long as it doesn’t come in a can, go ahead and load up! Cranberries are high in vitamin C and tannins, the heart-healthy compounds also found in red wine. Just make sure the sauce isn’t loaded with sugar, like the canned kind.
What about stuffing? To make it really healthy, use whole-wheat bread or high-fiber grains like wild rice. And cook it outside the bird, where it won’t get soaked in fatty drippings. If someone else has made the stuffing and they didn’t follow those guidelines – skip it.
And watch out for gravy, which is basically salty, flavored fat.
Finally: Sweet potatoes. One potato has nearly zero fat and only 120 calories – not bad at all. Sweet potatoes also contain an anti-oxidant that fights cancer, and reduces the risk of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Just don’t top yours with a million mini-marshmallows!Continue Reading
We recently turned the clocks back an hour and even though sleep experts say that the time change is good news – because we typically get more rest – it can also trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder. And it can hit anyone, no matter how healthy you are. The disorder makes you feel tired, have less energy and feel hungrier - and your risk of depression jumps. So, here are a few ways to fight off Seasonal Affective Disorder:
Load up on light. The idea is to get your mind out of “it’s getting dark outside, time to sleep mode.” So, go outside during your lunch break to get your daylight fix! And as soon as you get home, turn on the lights so your brain doesn’t get lulled into “sleep zone.”
Go for a nighttime workout. Studies show that early evening exercise can help keep you energized during the evening. The key? Work out two hours before bed. That way, your brain has time to come off the dopamine exercise high so you’ll actually be able to fall asleep.
Don’t sleep late on weekends. Dr. Michael Terman, a psychologist and SAD specialist, says that oversleeping allows your body clock to drift later. And when you’re out of sync with local time, it can make you sluggish and depressed.
Use a light-therapy box. This mimics natural outdoor light. Dr. Terman believes that half the population would benefit from 30 minutes of light box therapy every morning. It’ll help increase your energy by mimicking natural sunlight, so a regular lamp won't do the trick.
Want to get ahead financially? Then stop acting like you have money to burn! That’s the strategy of Dr. Thomas Stanley, who’s made a career out of researching and writing about America’s wealthy. Most of us think of millionaires as Hollywood celebrities or banking tycoons, but Stanley says that the majority of affluent people are in middle-of-the-road professions such as engineering, teaching and farming. The secret to their success is living below their means. So, here are a few tips for building your bank balance, from Stanley’s book Stop Acting Rich...and Start Living like a Real Millionaire:
- Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses. Stanley says that almost nine out of 10 luxury cars are driven by people who don’t have a lot of money in the bank. He calls these folks “aspirationals.” Aspirationals buy expensive things, and then struggle to make the payments. While the wannabes are buying fancy rides, most millionaires are driving Toyotas and Chevrolets.
- Don’t borrow money. By staying away from the credit cards, you’re allowing compound interest to help you, not hurt you. For example, if you charge a new thousand-dollar TV and make the $45r minimum payment, you’ll lose more than $400 in interest. However, if you put the same $45 a month into a savings account, you’d bank almost $4,000.
- Don’t buy more house than you need. Millionaires who live in houses worth less than $300,000 outnumber those who live in swanky mansions by almost 4 to 1. Stanley says you shouldn’t spend more than twice your annual income on a home. In the long run, you’ll be happier and more fiscally fit. Plus, you can sock away the savings into a retirement account or 401(K).
Want to learn more? Check out Stop Acting Rich...and Start Living like a Real Millionaire, by Dr. Thomas Stanley.Continue Reading
Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a once a year deal. You can use the “Thanksgiving Effect” to feel happier year-round. Study after study proves that saying “thanks” regularly can have the same mood boosting benefits as prescription medication – without the negative side effects.
In fact, gratitude is so powerful there’s a whole field of research dedicated to it. Dr. Robert Emmons is a leader in the field and the author of The Psychology of Gratitude. He says being grateful increases your chances of being successful in work, love and life. So, here’s how to use gratitude everyday:
The next time you have a small setback – like a fight with a friend or a stressful assignment from the boss – jot a note to a friend or relative thanking them for doing something that made you happy. People who do that automatically feel stronger in the face of adversity.
If a friend does you a favor – don’t say “I owe you one.” Being indebted to someone increases feelings of stress. Instead, just say thanks. Data from the Institute of Heart Math shows that people who regularly feel appreciation toward others have healthier heartbeats.
Writing in a gratitude journal is another way to add years to your life, but it doesn’t have to be a huge commitment. People who list the things they’re thankful for only once a week get the same benefits as those who write daily.
You can even use gratitude to reduce your stress on the way to work. People who are stressed out and unhappy at work are more susceptible to heart attack and stroke. You can squash all those negative effects on the way in. No matter how late you’re running, do a gratitude exercise. Focus on everything that’s gone right. The dog did his business outside – your wife looked pretty as she kissed you goodbye – or even that the traffic isn’t at a standstill. Thinking those thoughts will immediately boost your enthusiasm, alertness and energy – and reduce your blood pressure and stress.
Daylight Saving Time is ending! And turning back the clock is actually good for your heart! Typically, there are 20% more heart attacks on Mondays, according to the British Medical Journal. It’s a combination of a lack of sleep from the weekend, increased activity, rising blood pressure, and the stress of a starting a work week. But the switch back to Standard Time actually changes that dynamic.
In March, when we “spring forward” and move our clocks ahead one hour, there’s a 5% increase in heart attacks on Monday, and 10% on Tuesday. Researchers figure it’s because we’re already sleep-deprived – and the extra hour of lost sleep pushes those prone to a heart attack over the edge. However, in November when we “fall back” and move our clocks back an hour, there’s actually a 5% drop in heart attacks that week. Again, it’s because a lot of people take advantage of that extra hour and sleep longer. Or do something relaxing, like reading the morning paper until it’s time to get ready.
So, what’s the takeaway on this? It’s simple: Get more sleep! Dr. Lori Mosca, the director of preventive cardiology at New York Presbyterian Hospital, says getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night improves blood sugar, and reduces your blood pressure, blood clotting, cholesterol, and inflammation of your arteries. All of which reduce your risk for heart disease and heart attack. On the flip side, the disappearance of Daylight Saving Time can make you more tired. Why? Studies show that earlier sunsets, and long, dark evenings make fatigue worse, and can make you feel draggy all day.
The fix: Stop hitting the snooze button and get moving the moment your alarm goes off. Take advantage of the extra morning light by opening your blinds, or taking a walk outside. Sunlight suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin, and helps boost your energy and your mood.
You might encounter a few scaredy-cats this Halloween, but one thing you don't want to see is a sick or injured pet. That's why the ASPCA asked us to remind you of these animal safety tips for the spookiest night of the year.
Keep an eye on the candy. Chocolate can cause seizures and even be fatal to dogs and cats, and the artificial sweetener xylitol can cause liver failure in dogs. It's also important to pick up the trash. Ingesting tin foil and candy wrappers can pose a choking hazard or cause intestinal blockage.
Pet-proof your decorations. Chewing an electric cord can damage your pet's mouth - or cause electrocution. Candles may look spooky, but they're a big injury risk to curious cats and kittens.
Leave the costumes for the kids. Liam Crowe is a dog behavioral therapist. He says that while you may think those antlers or sunglasses look adorable on Fido - they could drive him crazy. If you decide to put a costume on your pet, have a dress rehearsal to make sure it doesn't restrict their movement or breathing.
Holidays like Halloween can be overwhelming to pets. You want to make sure yours can't get to the candy or decorations. If your dog or cat seems nervous or agitated, put them in a quiet place away from trick-or-treaters.Continue Reading
Why is it that so many people choose NOT to save money? It has very little to do with your income and expenses. Researchers at Dartmouth and Harvard Universities studied people with lower incomes who easily outsaved higher-income earners - by an average of $100,000 as well as people with huge incomes who didn't save a dime.
So what did they learn?
For one, some people simply check out. The researchers say many of us don't save because it's easy to spend in our culture, and we're on autopilot. We don't think of money management as something we need to do. We'll schedule things like laundry and movie night, but neglect to sit down and focus on our finances.
Also - we procrastinate. We know that someday we're going to need money, but our lives are so hectic and things are so expensive, that we keep putting it off until things settle down - which, as we know, never happens. Or we're convinced that our "million dollar idea" - that business we're going to start or the novel we're going to write - is going to take care of our retirement needs. When it comes to money, we have to be more practical than that.
So, ready to give your bank account a boost? Here are a couple of tips:
- Bank your raise. Mary Hunt is a financial expert and author of Live Your Life For Half the Price, and she says the next time you get a raise, or a bonus, save at least half of it. Let's say your raise gives you an extra $200 a month. If you save half of that - $100 a month - at 6% interest for 10 years, that money will grow into more than $16,000! You won't miss it, because you never saw it in the first place.
- Save the payment. When you pay off something, like a car loan or a credit card, take the amount of money you were paying each month and add it to your savings instead. A $330 monthly payment to yourself over five years turns into more than $23,000! Enough to buy your next car with CASH.
Do you love roller coasters, horror movies, and haunted houses? You've got a lot of company. The fact is, most people like a good scare. At least, when they know - deep down - that they're not in any real danger.
Behavioral scientist Dr. David Rudd says that most adults and teens can realistically gauge how dangerous something is, whether it's a roller coaster, or a zombie in a haunted house. They understand they might have nightmares afterward, but they still feel relatively safe. So, instead of experiencing real fear, they feel excitement instead. That's also one reason people scream when they're make-believe scared by a movie, or a Halloween attraction, and then laugh immediately afterward. Because the enjoyment is bubbling right below the surface.
But not everybody enjoys being scared. Some adults and most young children can't tell whether something is scary-fun, or genuinely scary. It's because they have less experience gauging how dangerous things are, whether it's a monster in a movie, or a skeleton on someone's lawn that screams as they walk by. So, they're more likely to feel like they're in real danger.
That's why kids get scared so much more easily than adults. And why they may not find the scarier-parts of Halloween enjoyable at all.Continue Reading
Couples: I have great news if you met your partner online! First, a new study says you'll have a happier, longer-lasting relationship, compared to couples who met face to face. And it gets better if you're married because the same study shows that your marriage is less likely to end in divorce, compared to married couples who first met in person. That's the surprising conclusion of research from the University of Chicago. They tracked more than 19-thousand married people for almost a decade.
So why are couples who meet "virtually" happier than couples who meet face-to-face? Psychologists say it has to do with the fact that we're generally more willing to open up and be 'real' online. Because even though online daters may lie about their height or weight - they're online because they want to be in a relationship. So going into it, you already know that the other person is looking for the same thing you are.
Plus, online dating allows you to see someone's hobbies and interests right off the bat - and even filter out people who don't have your same views. And that's key - since having things in common is huge factor in relationship satisfaction.
Also, people who meet online disclose more about themselves in emails, messages and phone calls BEFORE they even start dating. And that "opening up" helps couples bond. But it's not all bad news for couples who meet each other in person. Because this study found that where you meet can also make a big difference in how happy your relationship turns out to be.
For example: Couples who meet through school, work or church tend to be happier than couples who meet through friends or at bars. Again, it's because couples who meet through school or church already know they have something in common.Continue Reading
North Americans will buy and carve about 70 million pumpkins this Halloween. These days, farmers are discovering that nothing sells faster than pumpkins that are warty, twisted or oddly colored. As our more experienced trick-or-treaters know, that wasn’t always the case. For at least 50 years, industry experts say pumpkin breeders tried hard to get rid of imperfections - like warts, disfigured stem handles, or deep ribs. That’s because ugly pumpkins didn’t sell as well as perfect, round, orange ones. In fact, the ugly ones were usually sold off cheaply to make pumpkin pies. Now, the opposite’s true. Where pumpkin seeds typically sell for about $25 a pound, today’s farmers willingly pay up to $200 for a pound of seeds that are likely to turn out warty and weird. That’s because a single ugly pumpkin can sell for $50 or more, and the uglier the better!
Experts say the ugly pumpkin trend is a reflection of how commercial Halloween’s become. Demand is so strong that Martha Stewart has talked about carving ugly pumpkins on her TV show. It’s also inspired farmers to bring back some rare pumpkin breeds that were common a century ago – like blue-green pumpkins from Australia, or an extremely warty gourd known as the “Knucklehead.” In fact, industry experts say warts are the one trait customers ask for the most when they buy pumpkins for carving, but a lot of people are still squeamish about eating pumpkins with warts. That’s also true of the pumpkin’s distant cousin, the squash. In case you’re worried: Those lumpy or warty pumpkins and squash are perfectly safe to eat and taste no different than smooth, perfect pumpkins.Continue Reading
Now, here's how you can get an extra edge during your interview. These insider secrets come from hiring expert Tina Hamilton.
- Pretend your interview starts in the WAITING ROOM! We've talked before about how some hiring managers rely on their receptionist to help choose the perfect candidate. Companies may also plant a waiting room "spy" - an employee who'll pretend to be waiting too, while the boss intentionally keeps you cooling your heels for up to an hour! They're looking to see how you'll react to stressful situations. So, experts say the best way to impress any potential spy is to sit quietly reviewing your résumé, or reading something related to your industry.
- Beware of the Gossip Trap. During an interview, some managers will intentionally say something negative about one of your former colleagues, just to see how you'll respond. It's their way of singling out office gossips. So, resist the urge to jump in and agree with them. Instead, experts recommend saying something like: "Actually, I never noticed that about so-and-so while I worked with her."
- Clean your car. It's not unusual for employers to send someone out to the parking lot to glance at your car while you're inside being interviewed. Why? Because employers view your car an extension of you! So, if your car looks cluttered, unwashed and sloppy - with junk-food wrappers on the floor - managers will assume you'll bring those same sloppy qualities to your job.
- Ask questions. Surveys show that job candidates who ask questions about a company are more likely to get the job. That's because you'll appear more enthusiastic about the position, compared to people who only talk about themselves! So, ask something like: "What's the one thing your company is looking to improve or tackle, and how will this position fit in with that need?" Then, after the interviewer describes their needs, follow up with: "Yeah, I'm pretty sure I can do all that."
You know a lack of sleep can lead to everything from overeating – to anger. Well, here are 3 simple things that can help you fall asleep and stay asleep:
- Your dog. Sure, they may crowd the bed – but according to the Mayo Clinic, dog owners who allowed their dog to sleep with them had improved sleep quality – because they felt safer and more secure.
- Another way to sleep better: Have some pillow talk with your significant other. A study found that people were more likely to have restorative deep sleep when they felt cared for by their partners. So a little bonding before bed goes a long way for a better night’s sleep
- The third way to sleep better at night: Don't nap during the day. University of Pennsylvania researchers found that when people were chronically under-slept – and took naps during the day – they slept worse at night. And sleeping during the day – when you can't sleep at night – perpetuates the cycle.
So, if you have a hard time sleeping at night, hold off until bedtime and your sleep drive will be higher.Continue Reading
Here’s what you need to know before your next doctor’s appointment to get the best care.
To start, chill out for 5 minutes before a blood pressure reading. That ensures you won't have an artificially high reading. Because if your reading is too high, you may be prescribed unnecessary medication. That’s according to cardiologist Sarah Samaan. For example, rushing into your doctor’s office after dealing with crazy traffic can raise your systolic pressure by as many as 20 points! So sit quietly, check Facebook and calm down in the waiting room.
Next, if you need a mammogram, lay off caffeine for a week before the test. Dr. Barbara Jaeger is the director of mammography at American Radiology Services in Baltimore and she says, caffeine increases tenderness. Skip it, and your mammogram will be less painful.
When it comes to the dermatologist: Wipe off your nail polish before a skin cancer screening. 5% of all melanomas occur under nails. But if you're wearing polish, your doctor won't see the streaks or pigmentation that can signal a problem.
Lastly, if you’re getting a cholesterol test, skip fatty meals for a few days beforehand. Eating high-starch or fatty meals in the 3 days leading up to a lipid test can raise triglycerides and affect the readings.Continue Reading
I have the magic phrase that’s guaranteed to shut down any argument with your significant other and get you back on track. It comes from Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Dr. Rebecca Hendrix… It’s “I see where you’re coming from.”
Why does that work? Because it shows your partner that even if you don’t agree, you can see things from their perspective. It lets them know you’re listening and lets them feel understood.
In a study, researchers asked real couples to discuss hot-button issues. And regardless of what they were arguing about - or who was right - people who felt that their partner understood their point of view felt happier with their relationship overall.
Dr. Hendrix says, one of the biggest problems couples have is holding on too tightly to their views. But when you open yourself up to understanding where your partner is coming from it becomes a discussion, not an argument. So remember this phrase: “I see where you’re coming from.”Continue Reading
As life slowly gets back to normal, experts are predicting a surge in auto sales.
But if you’re thinking of selling your vehicle, or trading it in, cybersecurity specialists are recommending “wiping it clean” before you hand over the keys. As in: Erase all the data on your vehicle’s dashboard infotainment system!
That’s according to Justin Schorr, president of DJS Associates, a company that analyzes vehicle data. He says, these days, you have to think of your car as a smartphone on wheels. Because if you’ve ever paired your REAL phone with the infotainment system, it likely has copies of all your text messages, emails, contacts, and even your photos! Schorr says all of that personal data can easily be accessed by others who drive your car… and there have been recent cases of hackers buying old vehicle infotainment systems on eBay, and finding troves of personal information still stored on them!
That’s why Schorr says, before you even think about selling or trading-in your vehicle, read the owner’s manual and perform what’s called a “factory reset” - which should erase most of that data. Then, just to be safe, ask your car dealer to do a separate data wipe, to erase anything you may have missed.Continue Reading