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Are You a Shopaholic? 8 Ways to Curb Your Addiction

shopping
Photo courtesy of Valeri Thalen-Passon

I’ll admit it: I love shopping. Although I prefer the convenience of making online purchases, I still absolutely love getting new things: makeup, books, clothing, jewelry, perfume, and most recently – home improvement items.

Unlike many others, though, I’m able to thwart my desire for the items in order to keep my finances under control. I like putting food on the table for my family more than I like the latest shades of eye shadow from Sephora. Even still, the desire to buy is within me.

The technical term for compulsive shopping is ‘oniomania‘ – sounds like an onion addiction to me (which I may or may not also have), but comes from the Greek ‘onios’ meaning ‘for sale.’ The mania part is pretty clear. Even though husbands, boyfriends and fathers everywhere may have a hard time swallowing this – a shopping addiction is a very real impulse control disorder. Related to substance addiction, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder, if left unchecked, it can have devastating consequences.

Robert Pagliarini, certified financial planner and best selling author, works to help shopaholics every day in his Orange County firm. He has also collaborated with Dr. Drew Pinsky and other well-known addiction specialists to help shopaholics from vastly different backgrounds. What you may not realize is that being addicted to shopping doesn’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with being wealthy. A true shopping addict struggles to control their spending regardless of the number in their bank account or on their credit report.

At times, family members or close friends may try to shame shopaholics into quitting.  Although it may seem logical to stop excessive spending in order to pay rent or utility bills, anyone with an addiction isn’t thinking logically. Being addicted to buying things is emotional, so making an addict of any kind feel even worse about herself isn’t the best approach, and may even cause the addiction to worsen.

Instead, take a look at the big picture. Whether you’re the friend or the addict, try some of these ideas:

  1. Identify triggers. Pin-point what situations or feelings make shopping inevitable.
  2. Link daily triggers with past issues. Day-to-day triggers can be traced back to deep-rooted psychological issues, such as abandonment, deprivation, absence of familial attachment, lack of affection or abuse.
  3. Seek out a professional. A therapist can help you associate triggers with what is really missing in your life, and how to get what you really need rather than replacing it with shopping.
  4. Re-think gifts. Friends and family members can come up with a system that eradicates the need to shop for gifts for the duration of the shopaholic’s therapy. Agree to homemade presents, or do nice things for each other. This helps the obsessive shopper avoid stores.
  5. Reserve judgment. Whether you’re the addict or the friend of one, seek out help and support without judging. Nearly everyone can improve in one way or another – excessive shopping is just your vice.
  6. Give up control. If possible, hand over your bank account information and checkbook to your spouse or a close family member, and let them police your spending while you undergo therapy. This will take some of the pressure off of you.
  7. Consider medication. Oniomania is a very real compulsive disorder that can be treated with medications that are used by people with a variety of compulsive problems. Medication isn’t the only answer, but it can be a component in your recovery plan.
  8. Form new habits. At times when you would have previously gone shopping, do something else.  What you decide to do matters less than actually doing it.  Shopping may have become habitual, and bad habits are much easier to overcome if you put a good habit in their place.

Lastly, although it isn’t an illegal or physically unhealthy problem, shopping addiction can be extremely embarrassing because it signifies a lack of control over oneself. The most important thing to focus on is the positive changes you can make by taking steps away from compulsive spending. Visualize yourself debt-free and in control of making purchases with cash. Keep your eye on that vision and your hand off your wallet until it becomes a reality.

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6 Steps to Improved Real World Communication

omgPhoto courtesy of Tama Leaver

As a parent of children born into Generations Y and Z (born between 1980-present), I’m feel like I’m constantly nudging them to communicate more.  You know, the “old fashioned” kind of communication – the kind where you speak to others, face to face, without using an electronic device, and really laughing out loud.

With the constant advancement of technology, it’s a safe bet that the way we communicate with our friends and loved ones has changed forever. The important thing to remember is that it doesn’t have to change completely.

Those of us who grew up in Generation X (born 1965-1979) were raised with a pleasant mixture of basic technology awareness combined with real world communication skills. Most of us who are now approaching 40 spent our crucial developmental years without even one computer in our homes! We whiled away our childhoods playing with the neighborhood kids, engaged in make-believe games - and as teens, writing love notes on paper and talking endlessly on phones with cords.

Our children, on the other hand, have been raised with cell phones to distract them while we changed their diapers, iPod touches on their 8th birthdays, Instagram accounts and Facebook profiles.  Even their school interactions are shifting toward the impersonal, with more and more learning and instruction taking place on Smart Boards, iPads and laptop computers.

As a result, many of today’s young people have a serious deficit when it comes to communication skills, making real life relationships difficult to navigate. I’ve witnessed this phenomenon first hand, and frankly, I’m more than a little bit concerned. Fostering and nurturing friendships and family bonds are skills that are learned. The problem?     No one’s teaching them.

If you have a Gen Y or Z child (or are one yourself), try implementing some of the following simple steps to ensure better all-around relationship success.

  1. Say those three little words. With the foundations of so many relationships today being built on the internet and via text messaging, many people have had a brainfart when it comes to showing emotions in person. If someone is important to you – tell them! Show your appreciation for the people in your life, and say “I love you” to your family members at least once a day.
  2. Make eye contact. This is a skill that has fallen victim to the replacement of real life conversations with text messages.  Many people today find eye contact uncomfortable simply because texting doesn’t require it. To get more comfortable with looking into someone’s baby blues, you’ll need to practice. When you’re listening to a friend speak, look at them. Try not turn your attention away at the slightest distraction.
  3. Quality over quantity. It’s ok to text and email. There’s no fighting it – we’re living the technology era. However, it doesn’t take much effort to spend some quality time each day with those who mean the most to you. Quality in this case means in-person interactions with no screens.
  4. Call instead of text. The next time you need to get ahold of somebody – why not give them a ring instead of shooting them another text? A phone call is more personal, and many people have simply dropped the habit of talking on the phone.
  5. Ask questions. During those times you set aside for quality interaction – show your interest in others by asking them poignant questions about their well-being.  Inquire about their day, or simply ask pointedly, “How’ve you been?”  Maintaining eye contact and listening intently to the answer lets people know that you care about what they have to say.
  6. Leave the phone at home. I know it sounds impossible, but it’s really not.  After you leave your phone at home once, you’ll experience a sense of freedom. If it’s not an absolute necessity, turn it off or let it charge on the kitchen counter while you’re enjoying time with your friends or family.

Most importantly, make real life interactions a priority. If you must have your cell phone with you during family or other social outings, keep it silenced and refrain from checking it too often. As you try to make the most of this self-learning process called life, staying engaged in the people around you is one of the most enjoyable things that you might’ve never even realized you’ve been missing.

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Do You Have an Exercise Addiction?

bodybuilderPhoto courtesy of Jeremy Brooks

While emotional eating is something we’ve all heard of (and probably participated in, truth be told), how many of you have heard the term ‘emotional exercising?’ As I mentioned last week, I’m on a journey to get fit and I’m struggling with motivation.  As I pay more attention to the people exercising around me, I’ve started wondering about the opposite end of the spectrum.  How much is too much?

At first, the concept of working out your tension in the weight room or going for a celebratory run seems like a pretty decent idea, and one that many doctors and psychologists recommend to their patients.

Many of the physical health benefits associated with regular exercise are obvious: stronger muscles, healthier body weight, better cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, lowered chance of diabetes, improved sleep and increased energy. Although the psychological benefits you can reap from regular exercise are a lot harder to monitor, staying fit has indeed been proven to ease depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions.

I’ve read several studies that even showed improvements in brain function after cardio workouts, including better memory, attention and learning abilities. One recent and particularly large study that took place at King’s College in London, summed up their results as such: “Healthy body; healthy mind.”

Like all good things, exercising can become addictive.  Because of its awesome ability to activate the brain’s pleasure center, some people take exercising to the extreme, wanting more and more of the feel-good hormones that working out releases.

Take Jeff Tweedy, for example.  Jeff is the lead singer of the band Wilco, and he developed a nasty combination of drug and alcohol addictions due to the rock and roll lifestyle and a lifelong affliction with migraines (for which he took prescription pain killers).  Several years ago, Jeff went to rehab, got clean, and has been sober ever since. After rehab, he took up running.

In fact, he ran so much, he broke both of his legs doing it. When interviewed, Jeff had this to say: “Just because I found something good to do doesn’t mean I’m not going to hurt myself doing it.”

Because exercising activates the brain’s pleasure circuit so well, it can indeed become a problem – especially for those people who are more prone to addiction in general.

If you’re putting important life events and people on the back burner in order to work out, it may be time to take a look at your attitude toward exercise. Outwardly, it can be difficult to differentiate between a healthy athlete and an exercise addict. What I’ve learned is it’s the attitude that matters.

People who become addicted to exercising will lose perspective and balance in their lives. Just like a drug, working out becomes their first priority, regardless of who or what it replaces. Increased miles on the pavement, extra hours in the gym, multiple workouts every day. More is always better to the addict.

Exercise is an amazing tool for many reasons, and most of us should be doing more of it. However, if you had an ‘a-ha’ moment while reading about exercise addiction, your next move should be to find a good therapist. Leading a healthier, happier, and more balanced life will come when you are able to separate your emotions from exercise. And a little Ellen DeGeneres can’t hurt, either: “I really don’t think I need buns of steel.  I’d be happy with buns of cinnamon.”

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Get Twisted: Win a Complete Yoga Package!

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Get your asana in gear this spring with an awesome yoga package that we’re giving away!

Together with The Dollar Monger, we’ve put together a complete kit of yoga gear, accessories and resources that will have you on your way to a leaner, tighter body just in time for swimsuit season.

The materials included in the prize can also be used to practice Pilates and meditation – so you can improve your psychological well-being, too.

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The winner of our Get Twisted giveaway will receive a gift set valued at approximately $125, which includes:

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This giveaway is open to US residents who are 18 years of age and who are subscribers of The Dollar Monger and TinyShift. To enter, visit the giveaway page, where you can share and answer questions for additional entry points every day!

Good luck!

 

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8 Workout Mistakes to Avoid

workoutPhoto courtesy of Whologwhy

As someone who has recently committed to adding fitness back into my life, I was definitely a little rusty at first.  I had been without a solid workout routine in over two years, and, although my lapse was justified with some pretty legitimate reasons, some extra weight had crept ont. Thus, I made the decision to go forth once again into the fray.

Perhaps you’ve found yourself in a similar situation – slowing metabolism, physical limitations, or “life got in the way.” Whatever your particular reason may have been, if now is the right time to start exercising again, you surely want to get the most out of your workouts. As you work to hone your internal self-awareness, don’t forget to acknowledge your physical self, too. Your physical body must be in good condition so you can make the most out of all of life’s opportunities. Optimal physical health and fitness will only serve to enhance enjoyment of the world around us.

As I jumped feet first into exercising again (literally – I took up swimming), I wasn’t seeing the results I had anticipated. I needed a refresher on how to get the most out of my workouts, because I was doing a few things wrong. Here are several mistakes many newbie athletes make, and how to avoid them:

  1. Refueling on Gatorade: On my way through my gym to get to the pool, I see bottle after bottle of brightly colored Gatorade or other similar drinks. Unless you’re training for a marathon – downing such a sugar-laden drink isn’t only unnecessary – it’s self-sabotage. Ditch the sugary electrolyte replacement for good ol’ H2O.
  2. Spending hours at the gym: If your idea of exercising is long, slow workouts, you’re probably not getting the results you want. Working at too low of an intensity won’t burn enough calories. If a low energy level is to blame, add more protein to your diet and avoid processed carbs. The most effective fat burning workouts are “in and out in 30 minutes.”  Short, intense workouts have been shown to burn more calories than the long, leisurely social calls that so many people call “exercising.”
  3. Reading on the treadmill: My own personal experience is this: If you have enough focus left to read, you’re not working out hard enough.  Leave the book at home and pop some ear buds in. The music will be much more inspiring than any reading material.
  4. Doing the same workout week after week: Many people (women especially) fear bulking up, so they stick to the same, repetitive cardio workouts for months or even years at a time, preventing their bodies from ever making any changes. Your muscles get as bored as your brain does, and you’ll never get over that plateau unless you switch things up.
  5. ENERGY bars: Sometimes I know I have to eat something before a workout or I’ll probably pass out while doing it. However, inhaling an ”Energy” bar is definitely not the wisest choice. Loaded with fiber, they sap your energy as your body works hard to digest them, cramping your workout (and possibly your stomach). The better selection? A banana – “nature’s Power Bar” – it has easily digestible carbs (fuel) and high levels of potassium, which helps nerve and muscle function.
  6. Avoiding the scale: Obsessing over your weight isn’t a good habit to get into, but stepping on the scale once a week has been proven to aid in weight loss. It is motivational and also keeps you from straying.
  7. Skipping weight training: For those who fear weight training because they don’t want huge muscles or are afraid of injury: rest assured. Resistance training is the key to increase lean muscles and get rid of stubborn fat areas. Switch out your cardio for some weights at least twice a week.
  8. Hating your workout: If you dread your exercise routine, you’ll probably end up skipping it more often than not, leading to stored calories and pounds gained. Workouts don’t have to include a gym! Play outside with your friends or your children, explore some nature trails or do lunges and stair runs in your own house.

The key to making your workouts successful is doing something you enjoy (at least most of the time), following a few simple rules, and committing to an active lifestyle for the rest of your (healthier) life!

To that end, tune back in to TinyShift on Monday to check out our latest giveaway – it’s bound to get your asana in gear!

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What Not to Do When Starting Your Own Business

facebookingPhoto courtesy of Small_Realm

You’ve come to the conclusion that a traditional nine-to-five job in an office building somewhere in Corporate America just isn’t for you.

What now?

The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and thriving in the new millennium, especially among Americans aged 18-35. Reports from the 2012 business year show that 84% of start-up company owners predicted that their business would become profitable in the next twelve months. The question is - what will it take to make this prediction ring true?

In general, entrepreneurs are creative-types with spirited personalities – full of ideas and vigor. However, no matter how great your idea is, you always need a solid plan to make it into a viable business concept. And keep in mind:

“In order to succeed you must fail, so that you know what not to do the next time.”  ~Anthony J. D’Angelo

Granted, there are a select few who somehow hit it out of the park on their first attempt, but the vast majority of business owner wannabes must face the reality that they’ll probably fail quite a few times before they find success.

From the wisdom of several (now successful) business owners who’ve gone before us, comes a list of potential land mines to steer clear of when launching your very own start-up.

  1. Excessive virtual socializing – The most successful entrepreneurs are very good at tuning out distractions and focusing on what they need to accomplish. It’s easy to get sidetracked by all of the fun things on your laptop rather than putting in the hard work it will take to get your business off the ground. Spend less time Facebooking and more time taking actionable steps toward opening your company.
  2. All talk and no action – When you’re excited about a project, it’s natural to want to shout it from the rooftops, but don’t stop there. Telling everyone about your big idea is a good way to hold yourself accountable, but half of the people you tell probably think you’re going to fail. Prove them wrong by coming up with a business plan that includes specific short-term and long-term goals. Then put that plan into action.
  3. Go solo and reap all the glory - Almost every entrepreneur can benefit from a business partner, assistant or intern (and later when you can afford them, employees). Without a partner or mentor, you risk early burn out and confusion. You’ll have to share the spotlight, but your chances of success are much higher when you have someone to collaborate with.
  4. Wish-wash applesauce – Many businesses fail because their founder is too indecisive. As an entrepreneur, you’ll often be the one pulling the trigger on important issues, and if you constantly keep the safety on, you’ll never produce any ideas that go anywhere.
  5. Trying to do it all at once – Some of the most successful small business owners say they realized early on that success just doesn’t happen overnight. Multi-tasking can spread you too thin, causing your work quality to suffer. Keep your mind open to new ideas, and be ready to move forward when it’s time, but don’t move faster than your feet can carry you.
  6. Walking with the dinosaurs – As a business owner in today’s technologically savvy world, you’ll need to be up-to-date on all things electronic. Businesses just don’t run on paper anymore, and you’ll need to adapt to the virtual world if you plan to succeed.
  7. Excusing yourself – It’s time to stop complaining about all of the things “holding you back.” Those entrepreneurs who spend all day whining about the fiscal cliff are the ones who aren’t going to build a successful company.
  8. Going big or going home - Ever hear the saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket?” The same concept applies to business. Instead of relying on a few big customers, spend more time focusing on a wide variety of clients. That way, losing one or two won’t mean the end of your start-up.

Unfortunately, you’ll never be able to avoid all mistakes when you begin a new venture, but it is possible to minimize the number of bad moves you make and the effect they’ll have on your livelihood and happiness. Do your research before making any big decisions, and be prepared to learn from any mistakes that just can’t be avoided.

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How to Do Something When You Really Don’t Want to

unmotivatedPhoto courtesy of Jamelah

You know the feeling: you’ve got an endless To-do list and you’re drowning in deadlines, but you just cannot seem to find the right motivation. Regardless of what particular goal(s) you’re trying to reach, dealing with a lack of motivation can really slow down your progress. In fact, allowing your slump to continue can cause a hefty set-back, undoing some of your hard-earned progress you have already made.

I am presently lacking the motivation to get my butt in gear and get in shape. I’m well aware of the health benefits I will enjoy after my body drops a few pounds, and I see my skinny clothes beckoning me from my closet every day. I’m also cognizant that regular exercise and healthy eating are the key to getting fit. The problem? How to overcome the “I don’t wanna”:

  1. Question your motives. The first step in finding your way past a roadblock is to reassess why you set that particular goal in the first place. Make sure that the goal in question is attainable, necessary, and will lead you to a happier and better place than where you are currently. Evaluate whether or not you really need/want to make the changes required to reach this goal. It’s possible that your goals have changed since you set out to change your life, which is why you should reevaluate frequently. If, however,  you discover that you’re on the right track, renew your confidence in the idea by imagining a future in which you have accomplished this goal. Come back to that visualization of yourself succeeding anytime you struggle.
  2. Rename your goal. Sometimes, word association can get the better of us.  For me, “exercising” brings up thoughts of sweat and exhaustion. What I really need in my life is to improve my physical endurance to overcome some of the hurdles that a connective tissue disorder throws at me. From now on, I’m going to tell myself, “Let’s go get stronger!” It may seem too simple to work, but I know that it is possible to mind-trick your own mind.
  3. Forgive yourself. One of the worst things you can do when you’re already in an uninspired frame of mind is to berate yourself to an even lower place. I know this to be true, and I’m working on being nicer to myself when I slip.
  4. Make a tiny shift. After all, that’s how we came up with our name! Most often, people feel unmotivated to do tasks that seem overwhelming. To avoid this, make your tasks as easy and simple as possible. Want to get more fit? Walk for 3-5 minutes every day. Cutting caffeine out of your life? Drop one caffeinated beverage out of your meal plan every week, or move to half-caff.  Trying to get better at keeping your house clean? Organize one room at a time, or set a timer and clean for only 30 minutes. Doing a little every day may not seem like a big deal, but what you’re actually doing is creating habits.
  5. Try to have fun. I hate reading self-help articles that say “It’ll all work out!  Just do it!” While they may be right, that doesn’t solve my problem – not wanting to do it in the first place! There’s a reason we struggle to do some of the things that will improve our lives – they’re hard! So, instead of forcing yourself to do something you hate - change it up a little bit first. Find some way to add even the tiniest pleasure to the task at hand – like adding fresh mint into your decaf tea, or buying new cleaning supplies. For me, it meant finding fun ways to get exercise with other people, like playing kickball with my kids, having a nature walk with my best friend, and taking a swim with my husband.

Finally – even the best of us have moments when all we feel like doing nothing. Give yourself permission to do nothing for a bit, because it’s your mind’s way of telling you to slow down and take a break. When you’re finished doing nothing, get back up and try again - because as the old saying goes:

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” – Japanese Proverb

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Turn Your Frown Upside Down: Can You Decide to be Happy?

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Photo courtesy of Lauren

As I wander through the world each day, I regularly find myself face-to-face with someone who radiates negative energy.

With each encounter, I walk away from the situation mystified at how much energy these people are simply throwing away. Energy that could be used so much more effectively toward making life better.

It’s not that I never get upset or mad. There are things that irritate me, and (although infrequent), I do have some conflicts in my life. As a matter of fact, I think a life completely void of struggle would be quite yawn-inducing.

However, there’s huge difference between having some conflict in your life and having some life in between all of your conflicts. Although I wouldn’t say I was ever a totally negative person, I can definitely tell you that I used to be a lot more cynical than I am these days.

Those people who seem to be absolutely brimming with negativity are generally unhappy or unfulfilled in their own lives, so they squash happiness, ambition and success wherever they can. If they’re miserable – you should be too. Innovative ideas thought up by others are picked apart and insulted. Jealous of the good things happening to those around them, they display obvious resentment of those who have what they want.

Eventually, putting out constant negative energy will push friends and family away from someone as they seek relief from the continual complaining and general air of discontent.

Does someone close to you display this type of behavior? Is it possible that you’re the Negative Nancy? Luckily, negativity doesn’t have to be a permanent state of being. After a period of pretty intense self-reflection and a great deal of research on the habits of unhappy people, I learned how much better it felt to be positive.  Some helpful advice to nix negativity from your life:

  • Force it (at first):  Refraining from making negative comments or engaging in unnecessary conflicts and debates won’t come naturally for someone who’s been practicing a whole lot of negativity for (possibly) years. The most effective way to shift into positive gear is to purposely set out to do so. Fastidiously police your behavior and set increments of time in which you are prohibited from saying anything negative at all. Start with small time segments to ensure success.
  • Reinforce positivity:  When you are able to avoid being contrary for your goal time period, you’ll immediately feel good about yourself. The simple fact that you were able to go against your natural instinct toward negativity will give you a feeling of peace and accomplishment. Sit with those feelings, and reward yourself accordingly.  This will make it even more desirable for you to continue on your journey toward positivity.
  • Smile Therapy:  Even when you don’t necessarily feel like smiling, do it anyway. Many studies, including one performed at the University of Cardiff in Wales, have reinforced Charles Darwin’s idea that “the free expression by outward signs of an emotion intensi­fies it.” We typically smile because we’re happy – but as it turns out, the reverse is true, too. You can feel more happiness because you’re smiling.
  • Observe and Repeat:  As you begin to realize the exorbitant amount of energy you’d been wasting on negative thoughts and actions, it will become much easier for you to observe and analyze your thoughts and why you’re having them. You’ll gain the ability to stop negative thoughts before they become spoken words.

Over time, these practices will become habit, and may even become a natural part of your new outlook on life. In your efforts to live a more positive life, try not to be too hard on yourself if you stumble at first. You’re making a valiant effort to use your energy for good instead of evil! Forgive yourself for your imperfections, and pride yourself on your desire to improve.

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Disconnect Your Phone and Connect with Life

cell phonesPhoto courtesy of Ding Yuin Shan

Recently, a friend of mine treated me to a day at a local spa for my birthday. It was utterly blissful – we were pampered from head to toe, and I haven’t felt that relaxed in a really long time.

However, as I took in my surroundings during one of my treatments, I slowly became aware that I stood out.

I had been sitting, reclined in my spa chair with my eyes closed, attempting to be mindfully aware of my entire body. The sensations I noticed were incredible, and I am certain I would have missed out on half of them had I not been paying extremely close attention to my experience.

As I looked around the pedicure room, I noticed that every other woman was bent over and white-knuckling a digital device of some kind. I picked up my phone to check for messages. Admittedly, I even “checked in” to the salon on Facebook. But then I had an alarming thought: am I holding onto my cellphone or does it have a hold on me?

I plunked my phone back into my purse and didn’t look at it again until hours later when I came home.

I’m the first person to admit that having an iPhone has improved a lot of things about my life. My job is easier, I can get directions instantly, and I’m never at a loss for a good place to eat. I’m definitely pro-smart-phone. What concerns me, though, is the loss of social cues that seems to come along with owning one.

Many people today seem to have lost their grip on good manners. Ever been in mid-conversation with someone who interrupts you to answer a work call?  How about a personal text, or to check their Facebook notifications? Perhaps you’re even guilty of some of these things yourself.

If so, there are things that you can do to prevent your cellphone from running your life and potentially ruining some of your relationships. The key is setting some boundaries when it comes to when and where you choose to let yourself be interrupted by your phone.

In order to protect and nurture your most important relationships, it’s a good idea to earmark certain times, situations or events during which you will not be reachable on your cellphone. This will allow you to focus all of your attention of those people who are physically present with you during those times, giving them reassurance that they are more important than your need to “stay connected.”

Perhaps these times will include things like date night, dinnertime, and family gatherings. Alternatively, you could set aside a certain amount of non-negotiable screen-free time each day or week. Regardless of when and where it happens, by designating regular times to silence your cellphone and put it out of sight – you’re giving your loved ones a guarantee of your undivided attention. It’s only when we give our full attention to our families, relationships, and self-awareness that each of them will be able to grow and thrive.

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How to Stop Being Tardy for the Party

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Photo courtesy of Steve O’brien

On my way to lunch with some friends yesterday, I received a text, letting me know they were running about ten minutes late. “No problem!” I responded, and, true to their word, they strolled into the mom and pop café at exactly 1:10pm.

Not only were they only negligibly late (I don’t really consider someone late until it reaches the 30-40 minute mark), but they were conscientious enough to shoot me a text anyway.

I have awesome friends.

With that being said, I do know a few people who run on a schedule that pretty much deviates from every other human being in the modern world. I’m willing to bet that all of you know someone who has earned the reputation as the latecomer in your group of friends.

As it turns out, chronically tardy people aren’t typically showing up late just to get your goat. In fact, many of these people have repeatedly attempted to fix their chronic lateness, but have failed time and time again.  Even when their lateness means being reprimanded at work, arguments with friends, and problems in romantic relationships – being late is much, much more complicated than it seems.

Recently, a study was conducted at San Francisco University, aiming to examine why certain people struggle so immensely with being on time. The results showed some clear patterns. When compared with their on-time peers, the chronically late participants struggled with self-control in at least one area of their lives (overeating, shopping, substance abuse, gambling). They also had a much harder time staying on task in a manner similar to ADD sufferers. Many of them also admitted to some moderate to severe anxiety or phobias, displayed a great deal of ambivalence, and/or an affinity for thrill-seeking behaviors.

The good news is that tardiness doesn’t have to be a permanent factor in anyone’s life. Just like many other psychological issues, there are steps that one can take to be on time more and more consistently. If you or someone you know is always late to the party, be aware the changing this behavior takes time, and a lot of understanding from friends and loved ones. Consider the following:

  • Practice self-reflection and self-awareness on a more regular basis in order to discover what lies behind your chronic lateness.  Figuring out if you’re always late to the same type of events can be telling – the answer might be as simple as situational anxiety.
  • Determine what you consider ‘late’ to be.  Are you always the same amount of time late, or does it depend on the situation?  What types of events do you show up to on time, if any?
  • What do you get out of being late?  Does it give you a rush? Do you like to cause a scene? Perhaps you’re afraid of being the first to arrive.
  • In general, how good are you at estimation? Many latecomers think they can do more than they really can in a set amount of time. You may need to retrain your concept of how much time you really have.
  • How forgetful are you? Another type of latecomer is constantly distracted, loses things frequently, and has difficulty focusing. If this sounds like you, it’s possible that you may have an attention deficit disorder, and you may actually benefit from seeing your physician.

Making the leap from lateness to promptness is a challenge, but one that can be conquered with the right attitude. Setting small, achievable promptness goals will help you learn how to tell time all over again. Your internal clock needs to be re-set, and you can do that by promising yourself to be on time first. Once you’ve mastered honoring your own time goals, start planning to arrive early – everywhere you go. Always leave room for traffic, forgetting something, or getting lost. Before you know it, you might just be the first one to the party!

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