Why Bread Is More Dangerous Than it Looks (and how to choose wisely)

Written By Salina Jivani

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If you’re like most people, you’ve had a love-hate relationship with carbs at some point. And who can blame you? With all the dieticians out there keen on slinging mud on our hip-clinging friends, like rice, bread, and, yes, donuts, it’s tempting to completely banish these traitors from our lives. But if your worth the grain on your bread, you know that carbs are an essential part of any well balanced diet. And let’s be real: diets that are carb-restricted are doomed for failure at some point, because practically it’s not possible or healthy to go forever without these essential (and oh so yum) foods in our lives.

The trick to eating carbs is to select the healthy ones (yes, wave good bye to bagel’s frosted and sprinkled twin)—which can be especially difficult when it comes to one of America’s most necessary staples, if storms and power outages are anything to go by—bread. And with store-bought breads containing harmful ingredients while deceptively boasting their nutritional superiority over competitors’, it’s easy to see why they have a bad rap. After all, how can you trust a food that’s constantly under so much scrutiny?

But don’t give up hope. There’s a way to make sure you’re including this can-be-healthy food into your daily diets—while benefiting from its merits. To make sure you’re buying the healthiest most natural, nutrient-dense bread, we’ve compiled some important information you should consider the next time you find yourself browsing the bakery aisle.

Ingredients to avoid

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Let’s start with the no-nos. You may not give it much thought, but the bread most of us have lurking in our pantries has a ton of very bad, not so great ingredients. A quick skim of your bread packaging may reveal some of these unhealthy items:

  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Sugar
  • Soybean oil, corn oil
  • Corn starch,
  • Soy lecithin
  • Preservatives
  • Food coloring
  • Any terms you cannot pronounce—these typically sound more like names of chemicals that belong in a lab than whole foods you may find in the aisle of a grocery store.

Why are these ingredients bad for you? We’re glad you asked.

Of course, manufactured sugars are an obvious. Nothing good ever comes out of them and they’re certainly not healthy for you. Plus, even fake sugars are known to cause cancers and heart disease while others that operate under a cleverly named alias, like high fructose corn syrup, can cause health risks including weight gain, diabetes, and bad cholesterol.

Genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) like soybean oil, corn oil, corn starch, and soy lecithin can be detrimental to your health because the original forms from which these oils are derived often contain pesticides that are poisonous and can prove toxic when ingested.

Preservatives, which are often present in many breads and are sometimes listed simply as “preservatives” on the ingredients panel, can lead to long-term diseases like ADHD.

Even the simpler, seemingly harmless ingredients like food coloring or artificial flavors can lead to a development of allergies or asthma.

And of course the ingredients you can pronounce are usually the ones you should steer clear of the most, because these are the ones that are lab-manufactured, just like they sound, and can pose a whole slew of health issues including, but not limited to, cancers and tumors. (Think about it—you’re expecting your body to digest lab-devised chemicals. There’s no way that can be healthy!)

What you should look for

Now that you know what to avoid, let’s talk about what you should look for. Put simply, anything that is a real ingredient and is healthy for you gets a green checkmark. Examples include whole wheat, herbs, flaxseed, rice bran, yeast, hemp seeds…you get the drift. If it sounds like a real food your mom would encourage you to eat, it’s probably safe.

Best brands on the shelves

Now that we have all the good and the bad out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff! Even though we’ve made that loaf in your pantry look as threatening as it did when the Atkins diet took the world by storm, let us reassure you that bread is and can still be a healthy carb. And the good news is, you don’t have to don an apron and cover yourself in flour from head-to-toe to avoid the adverse health effects of poorly choiced purchase—there are some great options right there on those super market shelves. That’s right, there’s hope. In fact, here are the brands that are top-rated by many trusted health advocates:

So don’t be afraid of the B word (bread, of course!). Just remember, an educated consumer is the best one

Are Electronics Damaging Your Kids’ Future?

Written by Salina Jivani

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I got my first cell phone when I was sixteen. Until then, I wasn’t allowed to have electronics of any kind in my room, including ones most teenagers my age took for granted—like TVs. So you’ll probably laugh when you hear that I optimistically believed my own kids would be thirteen before they ever laid hands on a gadget or gizmo.

 

Go ahead, laugh it out.

 

I’ll shamefully admit that my eldest is seven and already has a partially functioning cell phone, meaning she has access to YouTube and the internet—basically the permissions she has on her tablet. Yes, her tablet. Which she got from her grandparents-the very same people who refused to let me see the light of a screen until I was sixteen—when she was only four. Oh the double standards.

 

And, ok, they started her off with one of those Leap Frog tablets, which are actually educational. Except when she turned five, they upgraded her to a Nabi and at six, to a full-blown tablet. She’s addicted to it, which is horrible, I know. Trust me I was dead set against it, but it’s not like my parents ever listen to anything I say, even if it’s about my own kids!

 

I’ll admit that as a work at home mom, I’m constantly struggling to find educational games and outdoor activities that can occupy the five hours that span the time my daughters arrive home till the time they’re tuckered out for the night. So when I’m taking an urgent call or working on a tight deadline, the tablet is a God sent.

 

And yes, on weekdays tablet and TV time is successfully limited to no more than two hours a day—most days. But there are moments when I’m just too darned caught up working or cooking dinner, and I don’t have the time or patience to break up squabbles or worry about spills that are inevitable when I task them to play with their toys or indulge in arts and crafts. But I’ll admit, the screen time bothers me. A lot.

 

But when my four-year-old reported new learnings and vocabulary from Sid the Science Kid, I began to question whether or not the screen time was truly as damaging as rumored. So I did some of my own digging and found some interesting facts I thought I’d share.

 

The good

I always like to start with the positives, so here we go. The good news is that educational TV programs and games can actually benefit children. TV channels like PBS, GPB and even certain shows on Nick Jr., can benefit children by teaching them different languages, helping them expand their vocabulary, introducing them to math skills and showing them how to use inference to solve problems.

 

With babies practically gripping electronics in place of rattles nowadays, it’s no wonder that kids in today’s generation are extremely tech saavy. As a result, the app market has exploded with apps like ABC Mouse and The Alphabet Train that are geared toward toddlers who—surprise, surprise!—have the motor skills to navigate through them with little to no trouble. Not only do these apps help children gain an early understanding of the alphabets, but programs like Baby Can Read also help kids become advanced readers before they even begin elementary school.

 

The bad

But not all is cherries and roses; of course with the good follows the bad.

 

Though educational benefits can be reaped from screen time, so can several other less than optimal effects.

 

For example, based on research conducted by the University of California, kids who were exposed to more screen time had greater difficulty reading people’s emotions based on 50 facial expressions they were shown than those who engaged in outdoor activity and play. It’s proven that kids who spend a vast amount of time in front of gadgets and have limited face-to-face interactions become socially distanced in this way. Of course the problems don’t end there. Ongoing exposure to electronics can cause poor vision, obesity and sleep issues in kids of all ages among many other problems that may be unveiled in the future.

 

In the end

Technology is an ever growing part of our lives, so to say it should be banned permanently from your child’s life is both farfetched and unrealistic—especially as schools gear to include more technology-driven resources. The best thing to do is to use it, but use it wisely. Make educated choices about what your kids are being exposed to when they are permitted screen time—and also remember to limit the amount of time they are allowed to spend on electronics, no more than two hours a day according to most credible sources.

As a responsible parent, you can encourage your kids to play outdoors, make trips to the library or take them for a surprise visit to the zoo. According to the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood, Kids who don’t depend on electronics for entertainment have fewer psychological issues and live better balanced lives—both emotionally and physically—than those who grow up hooked to electronics. 

 

So remember, although the TV can be a savior sometimes, its prolonged use and effects are definitely not worth the few hours of peace it provides.

Zee Mullen Host 10th Annual Celebrity Bowling Event for Sickle Cell Awareness

Screenshot_20160917-233524~2.pngWritten by Abner Jackson III

In honor of September bring Sickle Cell Awareness Month, Savvy Affairs will be hosting its 10thAnnual Celebrity Bowl-A-Thon Sickle Cell Fundraiser on September 24th.  The event will take place at Brunswick Zone located at 3835 Lawrenceville Highway in Lawrenceville, GA at 8 P.M.  Sickle Cell Disease is estimated to affect between 90,000 and 100,000 Americans.

Raising awareness is important to help save lives and stop Sickle Cell from spreading.  When I asked event host Zee Mullen how she came up with idea for this event, she replied “Sickle Cell is predominant in our community, kids are dying and people suffer. It’s close to home for me.”  You can register online or put a team together to help raise awareness for Sickle Cell.  You can also get swabbed to help find donors for bone marrow transplants.  African Americans only make up 7% of the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry.

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When I asked Zee why people should attend, she replied “They should attend to get tested, get swabbed to save lives.” You can follow Zee Mullen on Instagram at zeemullen.  You can also register to bowl or donate at http://www.active.com/lawrenceville-ga/memberships/10-annual-sickle-cell-celebrity-bowl-a-thon-fundraiser-2016.

3 Ways To Deal With an Adult Bully

Written by Salina Jivani

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I was bullied as an adult. And no, I’m not talking about the playground kind of bullying where I was called names or made to feel left out of a group or laughed at, but it was very close.

 

I worked for a bank for nearly a decade. Nearly because right as I was closing in on my decade mark, I had the unfortunate luck of going through one of the most difficult periods of my life during which my niece, who was in my care a lot, was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of four. And during that period, to make matters worse, was my boss—a senior executive who hated anyone and everyone.

 

And this lady made my days at work. Absolutely. Miserable.

 

We’ve all had that one horrible manager. You know what I’m talking about. Mine used to scream in a high-pitched voice, break out into a crying fit, bellow and breathe in short, huffy spurts like the big bad wolf, making me fear that she’d either pass out or pop a blood vessel—and then sue me for it. It’s by far the worst experience I’ve ever had working for anyone. I remember days eating and sleeping at the hospital, running around with my laptop and sneaking into deserted hallways to take meetings. Till this day it still surprises me that this woman is a senior executive at a globally known bank. Everyone despises her.  In fact, in my mind, I’d secretly dubbed her Miranda from The Devil Wears Prada. I eventually quit my job for several reasons—and she was definitely the cherry on top of my sundae of excuses.

 

Now, nearly a year later, I can stay calm enough to share with you my story and to offer some tidbits of advice to help you along if you ever face an adult bully. They’re worse than the kids on the playground, because their tactics aren’t as apparent but equally if not more hurtful to you not only emotionally but also mentally. So if you ever have the misfortune of coming across an adult bully, take a deep breath, calm down and follow these steps.

 

Realize that it’s not about you

Often times, bullies are bullies not because there’s something wrong with you—but rather because there’s something lacking in their lives. Take for example my former manager, who we’ll call Miranda. She was going through a divorce when I joined the team, and I attributed this to her rough behavior at work. However, after speaking to some coworkers who she’d brought to tears on more than one occasion, I realized that perhaps her behavior wasn’t a result of the divorce, rather her divorce was a result of her unacceptable behavior. Meaning something had likely happened earlier on in her life to shape her deplorable attitude.

 

Because like Miranda have larger issues within themselves, they turn to bullying to exploit others and turn attention from their own pains and insecurities.

 

When you’re confronted by a bully, sometimes it can help you feel better or more tolerable toward their jibes if you understand the root of their insecurities or aggression.  If it’s a manager, perhaps he is insecure about the progress you’re making in your career path and are miserable and stagnant in their own job. If it’s an acquaintance, maybe she is jealous of the relationship you share with your husband, or maybe a friend is envious of your financial stature because he is suffering through money woes.

 

There’s always a driver behind bully behavior. Sometimes understanding why the bullying is happening can help you better choose to ignore it or do something about it. For example, if you know that someone went through a life-altering event, like losing a child, that changed their behavior and outlook on life, you may choose to ignore their obnoxious jibes.

 

But if you can’t put a finger to the root cause, and the behavior is impacting you and your life in a strong way, it’s probably time to take action.

 

Stop being a victim

Bullies often have a radar for the perfect targets. If you’re someone who is easy to pick on, quiet, passive or too nice (which is often perceived as a weakness by bullies), you might be making yourself an easy target for the bully. Also, you have to know that bullies like getting a rise out of people. They like feeling authoritative and love the ability to make others feel powerless in their company. If you give into this power play, you’re likely to continue being an effective target for the bully, but if you learn to ignore him and not give him the satisfaction of knowing that he’s had any kind of impact on you, it’s possible you’ll be let off the hook. Try your best to keep your cool. Laugh with them when they laugh at your expense, shrug at their jabs, and ignore them when possible. Reacting unexpectedly and rolling with the punches might yield you better results than to let them see how their words have impacted you.

 

Stand up for yourself

When all else fails and the bully is still the last one standing, it’s definitely time to step up. Sometimes passiveness and ignorance may encourage the bully to pick on you more rather than to give up. If this happens, you have to fight back—because the one thing that can give a bully pause is someone who won’t take his punches sitting.

 

The best way to confront a bully is to remain matter of fact and calm. Don’t let emotions rule, rather state the facts and tell the bully how her actions have made you feel. Try to be as mature as you can. Bullying is a childish tendency, so it’s tough not to respond in a childish way, but remember that by being mature and calm and not starting a screaming match, you’ll increase your chances of getting through to the bully and hopefully resolve the bullying once and for all.

 

If the bully happens to be your manager and you’re afraid that something you say may be misconstrued or used against you, don’t be afraid to engage help from someone in your HR department or from your manager’s colleague, preferably someone you trust and feel comfortable with. Having a third party present to mediate can prevent false allegations and stop the confrontation from getting out of hand.

 

While it’s great to learn how to stand up to a bully, also remember that being a silent bystander when someone is being bullied is just as bad as doing the bullying yourself. Your silence will only serve to encourage the bully. Taking a stand when someone is being bullied will not only serve to throw the bully off his tracks, but also the person being bullied, and even other bystanders, will respect and admire you for your courage. Even better, it’s likely you’ll lessen your own chances of becoming a victim in the future.

Reasons Why Mobile Apps Are Necessary for your Business

Written by Matic Satler

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If you are a small or medium business owner and your profession does not have a mobile application, you need to think of one soon. Having a web presence alone is no longer sufficient, as online activity continues to shift to mobile. Smartphone apps have become very important as a marketing tool for small business owners.
Smartphone activity has been on a streak lately. Almost three-quarters of Americans check their cell phones at least once per hour, according to a Gallup survey. Almost all of that mobile-phone time is now devoted to using apps, analysis reveals. Americans now spend more time looking at their mobile phones than they do watching television.
This rise in mobile-phone usage means that smartphone apps have become a key marketing tool for companies of all sizes, including small businesses. Mobile apps increase engagement with customers. They boost repeat visits, and permit a wide variety of online transactions, including the deployment of loyalty cards, push promotions, and ecommerce transactions. Apps deliver coupons and send announcements that build your sales with customers. Apps also accelerate contact with your company, which enhances relationships with customers in a world where speedy responses are prized by buyers.

Smartphone icons even help build brands by providing a visual design that customers recognize.
Many small-business owners still think that getting an app is expensive and complicated. They are worried about the need to build different apps for the various platforms customers are on – iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry. They are unsure about building dynamic or static apps, and the difficulty of coming up with an app design. Moreover, most small-business owners don’t have the expertise to build apps themselves.
Your customers can benefit from being able to access your products/services anytime they want and while on the fly. This is especially true if you don’t have a help line that’s available 24/7. Your app can include a feature where they can contact you day or night, and without necessarily going to your website.
More than just an application, a mobile app can double as a valuable marketing tool. It can be easily integrated with Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and other social media platforms. That means, with a single tap, customers can share with their network your app and or their experience with your company, which can then offer you free publicity. Plus, using push notification, you can quickly send upcoming promotions or special events to your customers and prospects.

Secrets to Achieving Success At Any Age

Written by Salina Jivani

Habits-of-Successful-People-1.jpgA while back, I read this interesting article on how people can make the most of themselves at any age by focusing on key aspects of life. I don’t recall exactly which magazine the article was in or what the exact examples were, but I do remember how well articulated it was and how I, as a young adult, found it to be helpful to me as someone who was ambitious to make the most of life. Now that I’m in my early thirties, I can look back through my own experiences share with you my hindsight, what worked, what didn’t and what I wished I’d done. So I pass these nuggets of wisdom onto you in the hope that you will take this as an opportunity to fulfill your own ambitions and live the fruitful, fulfilling life we all dream of.

 

The late teenage years

You’re super young and you’ve got a whole life full of opportunity ahead of you. This is probably a time that you’re going off to college or really deciding where you want to be in life.

 

When I was a teenager, most of us were busy taking the SATs and trying to map out the rest of our lives. And because we were so afraid to make the wrong decision, a lot of us relied on our parents for guidance.  Unfortunately, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen those very parents misguide their own kids into pursuing fields that paid top dollar—for no other reason than that they paid top dollar. My advice: Don’t go after a profession simply because it pays well!

 

I’ll give you a real-life example. A good majority of my friends attended top-tier colleges to study nursing and advance into other high-end professions.

 

Now, a decade later, two of those friends graduated nursing school and are full-time stay-at-home moms. They’re not practicing their profession in any capacity. Another one is a front desk receptionist and still two others who are actually making use of their degrees are earning the bare minimum as nurses AND still paying off college tuition while trying to get approved for homes—and they’re both in their early thirties. Of the bunch, maybe one is satisfied with her chosen career path. And it’s because the rest of them didn’t choose their careers for the right reasons. It was all about money…and unfortunately, not many of them are seeing any of it right now.

 

Me? I ended up becoming a writer, just like I’d dreamed. Even though I’m sure plenty of people scoffed at my decision, I’m earning a good amount of money—probably two to three times what most people think writers make. Plus, I work from the comfort of my home, where I’m able to drop my kids off to school in the morning and spend time with them when they come home. And the only debt I have is my house—because even though I initially made less than those who went into professions that made the big bucks, I earned numerous promotions, recognitions and crazy pay bumps. And don’t get me wrong. It’s not because I’m super smart or lucky. It’s because I LOVE what I do, and so I spent a lot of time and effort into making sure I do it well. Writing has never felt like work to me, and I was always eager to improve because I was proud of my skill. When you have a passion for what you do, the money will almost always follow. And it’s much more fulfilling to be happy in your career and live a comfortable life than run after money and end up being miserable. 

 

So the key lesson for those who are in their early years is to always follow your dreams and pursue your passion. Because where lies passion, lies opportunity and, therein, success.

Your twenties

Ahh, the beauty of being in your twenties. If there were a perfect period of life, this would be it. You’re still young but not young enough to where maybe you’re financially dependent on your parents, but not old enough that if you make a career mistake—or heck, any mistake in life decisions—it can’t be fixed. The best part about your twenties is that it’s a time where you can venture beyond the confines of college and really grab life by the horns, as they say. This is a time to grow by leaps and bounds in your career. Be bold, speak up, get noticed. In the corporate world, leaders love this kind of vivaciousness in young talent, and I promise if you jump wholeheartedly in your dreams, you’ll be paving a very strong pathway for your future.

 

I was twenty-four when I set foot in corporate America of the banking industry, and I hated that people never took me seriously because I was so young. But instead of letting that discourage me, I became eager to prove myself. As a result, I moved through three different positions within seven years with pay increases that amounted to $60,000 more than what I started out making. My point? It CAN be done. All it takes is a good helping of ambition and a strong pinch of passion. Don’t be afraid to push yourself beyond your comfort zone, network and meet new people.

 

Also at some point in your twenties, make your first investment—even if it’s in your late twenties.

 

The stronger the foundation you set at this point in your life, the more you’ll be able to build upon it later and live comfortably.

Your thirties

Nowadays, many people put off marriage and starting a family till they’re in their early to mid thirties, which is why I recommend you focus on the career aspect of your life in your twenties. Because in your thirties you want to be able to shift that focus to maintaining or advancing a relationship or possibly starting a family.

 

Aside from this, your thirties are also an age for growth. By now, you should have firm footing  in your career or business. Hopefully you’ve also made a major investment in something big that can serve as a quasi safety net for the future, whether that be a home, a small property or even stocks.

 

Also consider investing in a 401K—particularly taking advantage if your company does a match. And if you have any assets or a family, be sure you have a will and life insurance.

 

Your thirties can be a comfortable period in which you cherish time with loved ones, take exotic vacations and continue growing in your career. If you’re settled, there may even be some opportunity to splurge a little on your indulgences every now and then.  

Every phase of life is beautiful and opportune in its own way. And if you focus on your goals and ambitions early on and—better yet—make sure you are happy in what you do, you’ll be sure to light way for a successful future that will not only benefit you, but also those who love and depend on you.

 

3 Lessons Every Adult Can Learn From The Movie “Finding Dory”

Written by Salina Jivani

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I’m honestly not big into children’s animations. To be completely frank, I’m not a movie person at all—I just can’t sit still long enough to enjoy a movie. But I do on occasion give into the whims and pleads of my two girls who are enamored by anything that plays on a flat screen. Which explains why I got sucked into watching Finding Dory while agonizingly tapping my toes, stifling my yawns and smiling brightly each time one of them looked at me to make sure I was still there. Although I can’t say I was completely successful in my efforts to pay attention, I will admit that I’m happy that the television time was well worth the great life lessons that this movie taught—lessons that even we adults can use a healthy reminder of.  

Never give up

For those of you who are planning on watching the movie but haven’t seen it yet, I’ll try not to include any spoilers, so, in the vaguest way possible, one of the main things that this movie teaches us is that we should never give up. No matter what challenges lay ahead, no matter how seemingly difficult or impossible a task appears, no matter what your personal limitations, follow your dreams and charge on ahead. If you’re persistent enough, you’ll get exactly what you want. 

Respect everyone

Dory has memory challenges, but this doesn’t stop some of his dearest friends from sticking by him no matter how frustrating it gets to keep refreshing his memory. Those friends are with him till the end and they don’t belittle him, treat him differently or make him feel stupid for his challenges. And the good news is, people like that truly exist. They respect everyone, try to be helpful and stick by you no matter how difficult the war or great the feat. We each fight our own battles, and the more we kick people down or disregard others’ feelings, the more disrespect we receive in return. You never know what struggles someone is facing, so if you can’t find it in you to offer respect, the next best thing to do is to simply walk away.

Family is everything

This is perhaps the most important lesson of all, and as a mother who strives to create that magical bond between her kids, I was warmed to see that the importance of family was the core lesson of this movie. Most of us have a lot to be thankful for, but this movie teaches us that nothing is as valuable or integral as your family. Dory fights for his till the end, traversing all boundaries and conquering all risks. And for this, he’s a hero.  

After watching glimpses of this movie (yes, I cheated and let my mind wander every now and then), I’ve got to say I’m pleased that the creatives behind these films give thought to the morals they can teach the younger generation. Hopefully the lessons these kids learn from these movies will be imprinted in their small minds and remembered well into the later parts of their lives. 

3 Easy Ways to Transform Yourself Into a Better Listener

Written by Salina Jivani

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I’ve met some extremely intelligent people in my life. Some have driven businesses into success and others have amassed millions in the span of a few decades. Still others have built empires from the ground up, throwing thousands of dollars around like chump change. Yet what shocks me is when I speak with these people and realize that they arehorrible listeners.

To me, successful people are good communicators and good communicators have to be good listeners. But it’s amazing how many people lack this key ability.

In 2014, I attended a local APMP conference where a communication specialist delivered an impactful workshop on the barriers to effective listening. And of all the workshops I attended during the conference, this is one that resonated with me the most, because I realized that I was guilty of displaying traits of a bad listener. Here’s what the specialist recommended as steps to take to enhance your listening skills, and I try to use these often in my own day-to-day efforts.

Remove the filter

One of the first pieces of advice the instructor shared was to “lower the barriers in your mind.” I kid you not when I say I literally heard mine collapse. Yes, I know. Shame on me. We all at times have certain blocks and filters in our brains which make us perceive what we want, often at the expense of discrediting or dismissing other people’s thoughts or true intentions. Often in these cases, the walls in our mind hinder people’s words from actually being processed beyond our own thoughts, and right away we hear our brain screaming at them, “Hey, no! What you’re saying is just not possible.” In fact, this reminds me of a relative of my husband’s who follows everything anything anyone says with the phrase “Nah, that can’t be possible.” It’s frustrating and often infuriating to speak to someone like that. And it’s because that filter is up like the Great Wall of China in their minds that they often don’t understand—or refuse to try to understand—what other people are saying.

So the first step here is a difficult one to accomplish for those of us who are preprogrammed to erect that barrier and question or doubt everything we are told. But if this barrier remains up and active, you can toss your chances of being a good listener out the window (or over the Wall!).

Stop talking in your head

I’ll admit, I’m completely guilty of this one, too. Often times—and more often after I had kids —I find my mind going a million miles an hour in a thousand different directions. Clothes need to be hung, dishes need to be cleaned, the house needs to be vacuumed, plants need to be watered, kids need to be fed…. And with so many things to do, it’s easy to nod along or murmur a quick hmm of acknowledgement while someone talks, but let’s face it. This one’s a no brainer and giving half-hearted acknowledgements is definitely not an attribute of a good listener. When someone is talking to you, shut down your thoughts, look at the person, absorb what they are saying and eliminate all distractions (or as many as you can). A good practice is to engage in the conversation by responding, asking questions and showing empathy, as appropriate.

Stop forming opinions

Your friend just told you he locked his keys in the car and burned his favorite shirt with an iron. And all you can think about is what a moron he is and you’re glad that ugly shirt has finally kicked the grave.

It’s so easy to get distracted in our own minds and forms opinions of people and their actions. But being opinionated isn’t only about secretly mocking and shaming those who confide in you. Forming opinions about a topic or situation to be discussed can equally hinder your understanding as well as your intellectual growth, because you’re too far grounded in opinion to listen or entertain another perspective.

People are often also guilty of harboring preconceived notions or making judgements about others based on conversations or appearances. Stop looking with your eyes and activate your ears. Keep judgements at bay and allow people to completely finish their thoughts before forming an opinion. You’ll find that you’ll learn so much more if you simply listen. Maybe your friend was looking for an empathetic ear about his horrible day or maybe he was having a horrible day because something bigger was bothering him. It’s hard to get to the root of those issues or offer an appropriate response if you’re too busy forming opinions.

If you’re not a good listener and you’re really trying to improve, following these steps can prove frustrating and even challenging. But remember that baby steps or even unsuccessful attempts are better than not trying at all. Start with one step at a time and work your way up until you feel the difference in your ability to retain information and lower the barriers that prevent you from being the best listener you can be.

How to Tell If Your Relationship Needs CPR

Written by Salina Jivani

couple-fight-1907121Relationships can be a funny thing.  One minute you’re sneaking snuggles in the movie theater and the next, you’re restraining yourself from hurling a laundry basket at your so-called other half. Strangely, these polar extreme sentiments are completely normal facets of relationships. In fact, it’s when you don’t have those highs and lows that you should worry. And based on many relationship experts and a wealth of research, that worry should be taken seriously when four particular signs of trouble constantly lurk around:

Constant fighting

It’s okay to have the occasional argument and even suffer daily tiffs, but when the fighting tends to spiral out of control because of something as silly as who left the toilet seat up (or down), there’s a good likelihood that the frustration roots from something deeper than just that. If you feel constantly upset and irritated at actions of your significant other that seem trivial to spectators around you, it’s likely that you’re harboring some bitterness or remorse about something else. And to have those emotions blow up and out of control, day in and day out—constantly—is not okay. Or normal.

You don’t share anything with each other

You love to share your deepest secrets with your partners. Or at least you used to. Initially, this trust and confidence is what attracts you to each other and brings you closer together. A healthy relationship builds on those elements of companionship. But if you notice that you’ve gradually or suddenly become distant from each other, and live in near-alien existence where one of you has no clue what’s going on in the other’s life, that’s not okay. Even worse, if neither of you has made any attempt to address the issue to the point where your lack of communication has become the norm, beware. You’re treading on fragile foundation.

There’s no affection

The initial part of a typical relationship is filled with endless hours of intimacy, groping, and lustful glances. But once the honeymoon phase wears off, it’s normal to have some fun…at least occasionally. But if you or your partner has suddenly lost interest in intimacy and you can’t remember the last time you’ve made whoopee, and, even worse, you don’t miss it, well, now that’s a pretty big problem. Intimacy isn’t just about sex—it’s much deeper than that. In fact, it’s scientifically proven that people who have sex together share a stronger emotional bond. So if your relationship is missing the key element of touch, it’s likely you’re disconnected in a much larger way than you may realize.

You dream of running away… and feel happy

We all occasionally have that desire to just step away or escape, whether that means taking a spontaneous vacation solo or driving around town at midnight with the windows rolled down. So it should be no surprise that the same desire for some space from your loved one is completely normal. But what’s not okay is if you daydream about escaping and actually get excited about the prospect of a life without your partner. If you’re harboring these thoughts on a frequent basis, ask yourself whether you’re truly in the relationship because you want to be or because something is holding you back from leaving. Sometimes the culprit may be something as simple as fear or even the gossip mill.

Having one or more of these signs present in your relationship indicate that something isn’t completely right with you and your partner, but remember: as fragile as relationships can be, they are also just as resilient. If you find that you’re panicked or surprised that your relationship has many of these red flags, take a moment to think about what it is you really want to do about it. If you’re eager to repair the crevices in your relationship, it’s often doable, but will require a strong effort on both your end and your partner’s. Talk to your partner, address your concerns and think about the best option or solution. Remember that breaking off a relationship—especially one that you’ve invested in long-term—is never easy. But sometimes, it’s just what you need to find happiness and move on into greener pastures.

5 Ways To Be More Confident

Written by Gustavo Camilo

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I believe confidence is the key to be a successful person. That person who everyone looks at and think: wow, this guy is really awesome.

For everyone, there is always a “bridge” to be crossed between the person he is and who he wants to be. A lot of things are needed for cross that bridge, and to be who he really wants to be. One of these things, if isn’t the biggest one, is often a lack of confidence, because it stifles your real potential. The person who doesn’t trust themselves, usually   doesn’t  go very far. You can feel when someone isn’t confident, you can feel it by their voice, you can see it by their gestures.

I’m just a guy who want to learn and be better everyday, so I wrote 5 tips that I believe, can make everyone a little bit more confident, they are:

1 – Do not be afraid to express yourself.

Never be afraid to express your ideas. At first it is a little uncomfortable, but if it’s a good idea, everyone will think “Wow!” If it isn’t, no one will kill you, so don’t worry. Express yourself, let the world know who you are.

2 – Focus on your strengths.

The weaknesses should also be worked out, but they are the background. You need to focus on your strengths. That’s what will make people look to you and think “This guy is really good!”. How do you know what are your strengths? Ask yourself: “What do people tell me I’m good at?” and then, work on it.

3 – Get feedback.

Don’t be shy! You can ask  for  feedback from your managers, superiors, customers, partners and even providers. Use this as leverage to grow on your strengths and improve what is necessary. Talk to people, be interested and it’ll also help you to do a good networking. You win twice.

 

4 – Take a step beyond the comfort zone.

The title is already self-explanatory. Comfort zone is one of your biggest challenges. Is very easy to stay on that zone, and don’t even notice it. But come on, stay hungry, look for the new (never give up to new challenges). How does it help you to be a more confident person? Just by exposing yourself to the new and unknown.

5 – Do the homework, always.

Building confidence is a process that should be continued. Work it every day and you’ll get there. Do whatever you have to do, and one day, success will come.