25 Ways to Celebrate Kindness

According to Nobel Prize-winning scientist Daniel Kahneman, we experience approximately 20,000 moments each day. In honor of #RandomActsOfKindnessDay choose to make the most of each one by seizing the many opportunities to be kind, make an effort, connect and give back.
  1. Pay a coworker an honest compliment.

  1. Strike up a conversation with someone you see everyday but don’t know very well – a doorman, the postman, a neighbor, the barista.

  1. Buy a coffee for the person in line behind you at the coffee shop.

  1. Send flowers for no reason.

  1. Offer to run an errand for a friend.

  1. Hold the elevator.

  1. Give your cab away.

  1. Leave an extra big tip.

  1. Hold the door.

  1. Leave change in the vending machine.

  1. Text a friend to tell them how and why you admire them.

  1. Tell a stranger that you love what they’re wearing.

  1. Make a playlist on Spotify for a friend who’s going through it.

  1. Pick up some litter.

  2. Write something nice on that person’s updates who posts on Facebook constantly. They’re probably lonely.

  3. Put sticky notes with positive slogans on the mirrors in restrooms.

  4. Bring your partner coffee in bed tomorrow.

  1. Do a chore for someone without them knowing.

  2. Leave happy notes around town.

  3. Let someone go ahead of you in line.

  4. Leave heads up pennies on the sidewalk

  5. Smile at everyone.

  1. Email or write an old teacher who made a difference in your life.

  2. Smile at someone on the street, just because.

  3. Give up your seat to someone (anyone!) on the bus or subway.

  Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. -William Jam
YOLO, decision making, impulse, future, self

What Would Future You Think?

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question we ask children all the time. It asks them to think beyond the here and now and to imagine themselves in the future. However, imagining oneself 20 years from now is not something we as adults routinely do. According to research, perhaps it should be. Catching a glimpse of your future self may be an effective motivation strategy to changing behavior in positive ways. Participants in a study were shown digitally altered images of themselves made to look their grandparents age—about 70 years old – while a control group was shown a current image of themselves. Each group was then presented with questions about finances and retirement. Those who had been presented with the image of their older self—wrinkles, jowls and receding hairlines and all—were willing to put twice as much money into long term savings accounts than those presented with a current image of themselves. In a related study, participants were asked to connect to their future self in a different way: by taking five minutes to write a short letter to the person they will be 20 years from now. Instructions included: “Write about the person you are now, which topics are important and dear to you, and how you see your life.”  A control group was given the same instructions except the recipient would be them only three months down the road. Each group was then presented with various hypothetical scenarios designed to assess ethical decision-making. For example, would you buy a computer that “fell off a truck?” The group that had written letters to their distant future selves were less likely to engage in deceitful or delinquent behavior. These studies have practical implications for the real world. By connecting people to the person they will be at age 70 in a concrete way, it is more likely they will make better decisions in the here and now. Some suggest putting visual renderings of a person’s aged face on credit cards and at cash machines to encourage smart spending. Binge eating, substance abuse and other impulse behaviors could also be affected by considering one’s future self. Even crime researchers recognize it is a tool to encourage first offenders to think about consequences of their actions and to deter crime in general. Behavior today impacts the person you will become in the future. You Only Live Once, or YOLO, may be the current cultural refrain, but long-term thinking is essential for the well-being of individuals and society. Next time you are about to do something impulsive stop and ask, “What would your future self think?” Another option is to download AgingBooth, an app that digitally ages photos of users. The photos are simultaneously hilarious and terrifying. I promise you one thing: seeing the wrinkles that await you will make you reconsider the rare social cigarette.

How to Fall Back in Love

Remember the good old days when you and your partner were madly in love? If those days are a distant memory and you feel like you’ve lost that loving feeling, science proves you can rekindle the romance. A growing body of research reveals a number of strategies to revitalize your love life.

Dial it up

While many think of love as an on/off switch, it is more useful to think about it as a volume setting that can be dialed up, according to a recent scientific paper titled Regulation of Romantic Love Feelings. In the study, people in a long-term relationship who were asked to look at a photograph of their partner and think positive thoughts about them (i.e.“He is so funny” or “We get along so well”) were able to upregulate their feelings of love and attachment as measured by brain scans and subjective reports. Focusing on your partner’s positive qualities for a few minutes each day will reconnect you with the feelings that brought you together in the first place.

Focus on more good versus less bad

Do you strive to avoid conflict or to deepen and strengthen your relationship? Couples who focus on cultivating more positive experiences and intimacy are happier than those who focus their energy on minimizing negativity. A study tracking sexual desire in long-term partners reveals how powerful this effect can be. Participants who said they had sex to prevent their partner from losing interest or to avoid a disagreement reported less passion than those who said they had sex with their partner as an expression of love. Put simply, instead of dwelling on what’s wrong, focus your efforts on what you can do to build a stronger connection.

Aim for the little things

What can you do to reignite your partner’s passion for you? While I’m sure your partner would appreciate an expensive gift or a romantic getaway, research suggests a simple strategy that is certainly less expensive. Just be nice, or as psychologists would say, be responsive. It’s so obvious and yet so easily forgotten when there are kids to feed, bills to pay and laundry to do. Making your partner feel special and consistently showing them that you care is essential for intimacy and fuels desire. Pick up a copy of your partner’s favorite magazine at the store, say thank you when they hold the door, bring them coffee in bed, send a flirty text. When you are together, be sure to pay more attention to your partner than to your phone. The little everyday gestures of love are emotional Viagra. As the old saying goes, if you act like you did at the beginning of the relationship, there won’t be an end.

Realize that not all intimacy is created equal

Having a strong emotional connection does not mean you need to do everything together. Privacy, boundaries and a little bit of mystery go a long way. Leaving the bathroom door open and clipping your toenails in front your partner will not fan the fires of desire. Contrary to what many believe, spending all your time together may not be the best idea. While it is important to share the same values, having different interests and hobbies is healthy for any relationship. Respecting the other person’s interests and encouraging them to pursue whatever it is they enjoy doing is what psychologists refer to as “autonomy support”. In other words, if your significant other loves to go camping but it’s not for you, suggest they go on a camping trip with their buddies. If your partner is training to run the marathon and you prefer Pilates, help them find a running partner. Just be there at the finish line. Attraction grows when you see your partner in a new light and doing something they are passionate about. As Proust said:
Mystery is not about traveling to new places but about looking with new eyes.
Chilla Kiana

Chilla Kiana

Musician, Aspiring Businesswoman, Over-Thinker
buddies, friends, relationships, longevity, reduce risk of death

Bosom Buddies

You need friends. Certainly, eating well, exercising and a healthy lifestyle are known to increase longevity and reduce the risk of death, but research reveals that having a lot of friends contributes to living a long and good life. The numbers are staggering, actually. Studies show that social connections—friends, family, neighbors and colleagues—improve our odds of survival by 50%. The following statistics from a recent study put it in perspective. Having few friends and low social interaction is equivalent to:
Smoking 15 cigarettes a day Being an alcoholic Not exercising Twice the harm of obesity
There are many ways through which friends and family influence health in positive ways. As Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a lead researcher of the study, describes:
When someone is connected to a group and feels responsibility for other people, that sense of purpose and meaning translates to taking better care of themselves and taking fewer risks.
Relationships provide a level of protection for all ages. For children, friends are important to develop emotionally and socially. Having a wide circle of friends is the key to midlife well-being, and an active social network is critical for older adults too. The benefits of being social include reduced risk of cardiovascular problems, Alzheimer’s and depression. Supportive and strong social networks are good for psychological and physical health. An important caveat—a recent study shows that frequent arguments with family and friends boosts the risk of death. In other words, friends are good for you as long as you don’t bicker too much! Bottom line: Cultivate friendships throughout your life. Treasure the ones you have and be open to making new ones.
A man’s friendships are one of the best measures of his worth. ~Charles Darwin


All or Nothing

I just love dessert. If you give me a cookie, I will eat every single crumb. For years I tried to be one of those “I’ll just have a little bite” types but it never worked. Thanks to Gretchen Rubin, author of Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, I have a better understanding of why moderation doesn’t work for me and what to do instead:
Some people are Abstainers, some are Moderators. Abstainers find it easier to give something up altogether than to indulge in moderation. Moderators do better when they indulge in moderation. Because our culture holds up moderation as the ideal, people often persist in trying to act like Moderators, even when it doesn’t work for them.
Discovering I am an Abstainer has been liberating. It is far easier for me to say, “I don’t eat dessert,” and to skip it entirely than to torture myself with trying to eat just a little. It is easier not to eat a cookie at all than to eat one. I feel much better and more in control. Of course, some people are terrific Moderators—I have a friend who can keep an open bag of M&M’s in her desk drawer for weeks on end. Not me. If I eat one I will eat the entire bag. It’s all or nothing. I have a similar issue with technology. If my phone is within reach, I will check it. I cannot help myself. The only way to stop myself from checking it is by putting it away. So now, when I get home in the evening, I deliberately leave it in a desk drawer until after dinner and after my children are asleep. Habits are powerful. As Rubin describes, they are “the invisible architecture of our everyday lives.” In fact, studies show we repeat about 40 percent of our behavior almost daily. Think about that for a moment. For almost half of the day, you are on autopilot, doing what you do without thinking about it. There are good habits like brushing your teeth, taking a shower, going for a run, writing thank you letters and greeting the receptionist with a smile. And there are bad habits—automatically ordering a grande frappuccino every afternoon, checking email first thing in the morning, and mindlessly eating in front of the television. The good news is that habit change – as outlined in Rubin’s book – is possible, and by changing our habits we can change our lives. We are all creatures of habit. Why not make them good ones?

How Much Does Happiness Cost?

We know that money can’t buy you happiness. In an effort to understand the link between money and well-being, psychologists Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton’s studies provide valuable insight into how much money is needed, and what it should be used for to promote optimal happiness. So, how much is enough? According to Dunn and Norton, there is indeed a minimum level of economic stability that alleviates financial worry. They refer to it as a “comfortable standard,” and in the United States that magic number is an annual household income of $75,000. Norton and Dunn state that those making the minimum standard are happier than those making less. Beyond that, more money does not mean more happiness. Here are 4 ways to spend money to make you happy:

1. Buy experiences, not stuff

Rather than that new handbag, take a class. Instead of a new car, go on vacation. Desperate for a new sofa, learn how to reupholster your old one. The thrill of an experience lasts longer and is infinitely more rewarding than just another object we’ll forget about and maybe even feel a little guilty about buying.

2. Underindulge

Yes, that $7 latte is truly delicious, but do you really need three everyday? Moreover, do you even appreciate it anymore? Who doesn’t love blockbusters on demand, but maybe just two or three a week is better than seven. Underindulging makes us appreciate the little luxuries in life, saves us money and may in some cases be better for our health, especially if you love dessert.

3. Splurge on someone else

Norton and Dunn’s research shows that spending on someone else feels good. So give to your local animal shelter, buy a friend dinner or treat everyone in the office to bagels.

4. Faith, Family, Community and Work

Arthur C. Brooks’ offers a roadmap worth considering for a happy life. Instead of money, he argues spiritual journeys, relationships and meaningful work are what truly matter. As Coco Chanel famously said:
There are people who have money and people who are rich.

Outbreak: Can You Catch a Bad Mood?

Moods are as easy to catch as the common cold. When you see someone coughing and sneezing with watery eyes, you reflexively move away from them. The same strategy is a good one to follow when faced with people in bad moods. Studies show how moods are easily passed from one person to another. Psychologists describe this phenomenon as “emotional contagion” and outline a three stage process:
The first stage involves nonconscious mimicry, during which individuals subtly copy one another’s nonverbal cues, including posture, facial expressions and movements. In effect, seeing my frown makes you more likely to frown. People may then experience a feedback stage—because you frowned, you now feel sad. During the final contagion stage, individuals share their experiences until their emotions and behaviors become synchronized.
Consider the mood altering experience of attending a business meeting where the leader is in a great mood or in a bad mood. The tone can run from positive and optimistic to defeatist, stressful and anxiety provoking and chances are your mood will be altered accordingly. Moods are transmitted to those around you. One of the worst things about a bad day at the office is that it doesn’t stay at the office: when negativity follows you home, it also affects the ones you love. The good news is that the opposite is true, too. Research suggests that one person’s positive feelings can spread to other members of a household. The study looked at “day-specific self esteem” of working couples and found that if one person came home with a high level of confidence about his or her performance on the job, it was more than likely that by bedtime their partner would also be feeling good about their accomplishments that day.  If one partner generally had low self-esteem and was more prone to having bad days at the office, then the “crossover” of positivity from a partner who had a good day was even more pronounced. The bottom line: a good mood is catching. Surround yourself with sunspots and don’t get too close to black holes that might suck you in.

What is the World’s Most Wanted Painting?

Botticelli’s Birth of Venus? Monet’s Water Lilies?  Munch’s The Scream? Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring? It turns out none of the above.  Two digital artists, Vitalyl Komar and Alex Melamid, conducted a number of polls to explore artistic preferences of people in ten countries.  Participants were asked detailed questions about what type of picture they most like to look at, whether they prefer landscapes or interiors scenes, favorite colors, what kinds of animals they like, what sorts of people they enjoy seeing depicted, whether they prefer them clothed or nude, young or old, famous or ordinary, bathing or sitting and so on. The results across countries were surprisingly uniform: the most-wanted painting was a landscape with a mountain, water, wild animals, a tree, some people and strong blue colors. Philosopher Denis Dutton argues in his book The Art Instinct that the universal appeal of landscapes with these elements can be explained by evolution. When our ancestors had to search for food and safety, an open space with water and a climbable tree would have represented safe, peaceful and prosperous environment.  In other words, he believes our emotional response to landscape works is part of our survival instinct.  We evolved to appreciate art and see the beauty in landscapes because it helped us survive. As George Bernard Shaw says:
Without art, the crudeness of the world would make reality unbearable.


Chilla Kiana

Chilla Kiana

Musician, Aspiring Businesswoman, Over-Thinker



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