Embracing Change

Does that word scare you? If you’re like most, the word change stops your heart in its tracks.

Yet the truth of the matter is, we can’t hide from change.

Everyday moment of our life, we experience change. We grow. We learn. We move to a new house (or country). We end and create new relationships.

Change is what makes the world flow.

Learning to deal with change may seem to be a daunting task at first, but it can and must be, one of our greatest priorities.

At the young age of 16, I experienced profound change.

You see, at the beginning of my Jr. year of high school I boarded a plane from Houston, Texas to begin a new life in Shanghai, China.

Talk about change.

Moving across the entire world… To communist China? (OK so I learned China isn’t that bad.) I was scare, I was nervous and I was excited. Despite the plethora of emotions, I knew I had a choice. I could whine and moan or I could make the best out of the move to Shanghai. Luckily I chose the later.

Over the past few years I have come accustom to experiencing change – Whether it is saying
goodbye to friends and family or beginning a new direction in my life. Change has made me who I am today.

Here are some tips I have found to helpful to make the most of changes in our lives:

Keep An Open Mind:

Keeping an open mind is absolutely essential. The worst thing you can do is tell yourself to not like change, because then your subconscious mind goes to work.

When moving to Shanghai, I could have easily told myself I would hate it (and to be honest I did have my days), yet I did my very best to keep an open mind and as a result I came to love my days in Shanghai.

This doesn’t just apply to moving. Keeping an open mind is a key component to making the most of any situation.

One of my favorite quotes applies here:”There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” – Shakespeare

Look To Grow:

When you are faced with change it is important that you ask yourself how this can make me grow.

Moving to Shanghai provided me with many wonderful benefits; Going to an international school, expanding my global horizons, and the ability to embrace the Chinese culture and language.

Because I looked at the move as an opportunity to grow, I was able to make the most out of a situation that could easily have become a disaster.

When you look to grow rather than focus on the negatives you will be surprised at how much easier dealing with change then becomes.

Instead of closing doors look to open them.

Let Your Feelings Flow:

When you resist your emotions you simply make them stronger.

Instead of suppressing your emotions let them flow. If you’re sad be sad. If you’re angry be angry. Let your feelings out.

When I was told I was moving to Shanghai I spent a great deal of time crying. Having lived in Texas for 8 years I had created many wonderful relationships and it was tough for me to say goodbye. Because I allowed myself to cry and to feel the time it took me to “recover” was greatly reduced.

Feel – Breathe. Repeat. Eventually you will be able back to your good old self.

Embrace Change:

I’d be lying to you if I said all change is easy. It’s not. Yet as human beings, it is my belief, that we have an obligation to make the most out of our time on earth.

Looking at change in a positive light is essential. Sure it may take time to fully adapt to the changes in your life but our attitude directly determines the time in which we remain stuck.

In order to live a happy and successful life we must learn not to be scared of change but rather embrace it with every ounce of strength we have.

Are you afraid of change? I think it’s time you live.


70 ways to increase your brain power

You Want More Brainpower – Not Higher IQ Scores!

Okay, maybe you want higher IQ scores too. The American Heritage Dictionary defines Intelligence Quotient as “The ratio of tested mental age to chronological age, usually expressed as a quotient multiplied by 100.”

Basically, it’s a test of intelligence, with 100 as the average score. There are some problems with IQ tests however.

A recent IQ test asked which of four fruits was different. It was the one with more than one seed; but what if you were not familiar with these fruits? Obviously this test is culturally biased. You are assumed to have certain knowledge, yet you are being tested for intelligence, not knowledge.

Now look at these letters: “ANLDEGN.” Rearrange them and you’ll have the name of a(n): Ocean, Country, State, City or Animal. This is from an IQ test I took. Hmm… There are very few oceans, so I could eliminate those – but wait a second! That’s a test taking technique. An intelligence test shouldn’t be testing your test-taking ability. I’m bound to score higher than a person of equal intelligence who hasn’t learned simple techniques for scoring higher on multiple – choice tests.

Real Life Results Versus Scores

Now let me ask you a question. What was Henry Fords IQ? Who cares! The man was one of the most innovative people of the last century, and he did what he did by surrounding himself with intelligent people.

That practice alone has to be worth more than 20 IQ points in terms of real life results.

Real life results are what you want, right? So if you want to be more creative, learn to use creative problem solving techniques. If you want to concentrate better, there are techniques for that. Learn to speed-read and you’ll have double the knowledge in the same time. After you paint your first Mona Lisa, build your first skyscraper or make your first million, what will your IQ score be? Who cares!?

Okay, an imperfect test is better than no test at all, and it is entertaining. I just took an IQ test, and although I don’t think my IQ is really the 138 it showed, it was fun. If you really want to, you can try a free IQ test on my website
http://www.IncreaseBrainPower.com. Of course you’ll score higher on a good day than a bad day, so try these tips to make it a good IQ test day:

70 Ways to Better Brainpower –
(In no particular order.)

1. Breath deep. More air in means more oxygen in the blood and therefore in the brain. Breath through your nose and you’ll notice that you use your diaphragm more, drawing air deeper into your lungs. Several deep breaths can also help to relax you, which is conducive to clearer thinking.

2. Meditate. A simple meditation you can do right now is just closing your eyes and paying attention to your breath. Tensing up your muscles and then relaxing them to start may help. When your mind wanders, just bring your attention back to your breath. Five or ten minutes of this will usually relax you, clear your mind, and leave you more ready for any mental task.
3. Sit up straight. Posture affects your thinking process. Prove it to yourself by doing math in your head while slouching, looking at the floor and letting your mouth hang open. Then do the mental math while sitting up straight, keeping your mouth closed and looking forward or slightly upwards. You’ll notice that it’s easier to think with the latter posture.

4. Phosphotidyl Serine (PS). This supplement has been shown in clinical studies to increase lucidity and rate of learning. It activates cell-to-cell communication, helps regulate cell growth, improves the functioning of the special receptors found on cells, and prepares cells for activity. In other words, it can help your brain power. It’s also thought to reverse memory decline. Phosphatidylserine has no known adverse side effects.

5.Vinpocetine. This extract, derived from an alkaloid found in the Periwinkle plant, is used as a cerebral vasodilator. It increases blood flow to the brain, which improves its oxygenation and thereby increases mental alertness and acuity. Research suggests it may also be the most powerful memory enhancer available to date.

6. Gingko Biloba. The leaves of this tree have been proven to increase blood flow to the brain. The trees are often planted in parks. My friends and I used to eat a few leaves when we wanted a brain boost. It is also inexpensive, if you buy the capsules or tea at any health food store.

7. Saint John’s Wort. This is a common weed that may be growing in your yard. Although it’s brain enhancing qualities are less documented (studies do show it’s usefulness for treating long-term depression), many people swear by it’s temporary mood-elevating effect, and our brains tend to function better when we are happy. It is inexpensive, but I used to just collect it in the yard and make tea of it. (Hyperacum Perforatum, if you want to look it up by it’s botanical name.)

8. Good thinking habits.
Just use a problem solving technique for several weeks and it will become a habit. Redesign everything you see for a while, and that will become a habit. You can develop many good thinking habits with some effort, and then be more resourceful effortlessly from that point on. Use the power of habit.

9. Use dead time. This is time that is otherwise wasted or just under-utilized. Driving time, time spent in waiting rooms, or even time spent raking your yard can be included in this. With a tape player and a trip to a public library, you can start to use this time to listen to books-on-tape. You may spend 200 hours a year in your car. What could you learn in that time?

10. Learn a language.
Learning a new language has been shown to halt the age-related decline in brain function. It also introduces your mind to new concepts and new ways of looking at things (in English we are afraid, whereas in Spanish we have fear). It is one of the best brain exercises.

11. Rosemary.
This common herb may have an effect on the brain when the scent is inhaled. We are waiting for the research, but some people swear that just sniffing rosemary wakes up their brain. It seems safe, so if you have rosemary in your spice rack, give it a try.

12. Mindfulness exercises. Concentration and clear thinking are more or less automatic once you remove distractions. Learn to stop and watch your busy mind. As you notice things that are subtly bothering you, deal with them. This might mean making a phone call you need to make, or putting things on a list so you can forget them for now. With practice, this becomes easier, and your thinking becomes more powerful.

13. Write. Writing is good for your mind in a number of ways. It is a way to tell your memory what is important, so you’ll recall things more easily in the future. It is a way to clarify your thinking. It is a way to exercise your creativity and analytical ability. Diaries, idea-journals, poetry, note-taking and story-writing are all ways to use writing to boost your brain power.

14. Listen to Mozart.
In a study at the University of California, researchers found that children who studied piano and sang daily in chorus, were much better at solving puzzles, and when tested, scored 80% higher in spatial intelligence than the non-musical group. In another study, 36 students were given three spatial reasoning tests on a standard IQ test. Just before the first test, they listened to Mozart’s sonata for Two Pianos in D Major, K. 448 for ten minutes. Before the second test, they listened to a relaxation tape. Before the third, they sat in silence. The average scores for all 36 students: 1st test: 119. 2nd test: 111. 3rd test: 110. A nine-point boost from Mozart!

15. Develop your intuition. Intuition can be an important part of brainpower. Einstein and others have relied heavily on their intuitive hunches.

16. Avoid foods that cause subtle allergies. These can include wheat, corn, peanuts and dairy products. Watch yourself to see if you have a problem with any of these. They cause digestive problems and brain fog in some people.

17. Sleep better.
As long as you get a certain amount of sleep – probably a minimum of five hours – the quality seems to be more important than the quantity. Also, short naps in the afternoon seem to work well to recharge the brain for some people.

The Secrets of Powerful Sleep
Sleep LESS and have MORE energy by optimizing your sleep patterns in order to create an abundance of energy in your life.

18. Caffeine. The research shows higher test scores for students who drink coffee before major exams. My chess game gets better. In other studies, it has been shown that too much caffeine leads to poorer quality decisions. Caffeine affects individuals differently, and has some nasty long-term side effects for some of us, but short-term – it works!

19. Avoid sugar. Any simple carbohydrates can give you “brain fog.” Sometimes called the “sugar blues” as well, this sluggish feeling makes it hard to think clearly. It results from the insulin rushing into the bloodstream to counteract the sugar rush. Avoid pasta, sugars, white bread and potato chips before any important mental tasks.

20. Hypnosis audios. The power of suggestion is real, and one way to use it is with hypnosis tapes, CD’s or downloads. This type of brain “programing” has more evidence for it than subliminals.

21. Speed reading. Contrary to what many believe, your comprehension of material often goes up when you learn to speed-read. You get to learn a lot more in less time, and it is definitely a good brain exercise.

22. Exercise. Long term exercise can boost brainpower, which isn’t surprising. Anything that affects physical health in a positive way probably helps the brain too. Recent research, though, shows that cognitive function is improved immediately after just ten minutes of aerobic exercise. If you need a brain recharge, you might want to walk up and down the stairs a few times.

23. Imaginary friends. Talking to and getting advice from characters in your mind can be a great way to access the information in your subconscious mind. Imagine a conversation with a person who has a lot of knowledge in the area you want advice in.

24. Develop your creativity. Creativity gives power to your thinking. Raw computation can be done by computers now, but humans provide the creative thought that shapes our world.

25. Learn more efficiently. When you decide to learn something, take notes from the start. Leave each “learning session” with a question or two in mind, to create anticipation and curiosity. Take short breaks, so there will be more beginnings and endings to your studies (Things learned at the beginning or ending of a class or session are remembered better).

26. Use techniques for clear thinking.
Cluttered rooms and offices can contribute to cluttered thinking. Organize a space for mental work. Sigh, stretch, and take a deep breath before you start on a tough mental job. Plan some distraction-free time for brainstorming.

27. Brain wave entrainment.
The newest brain wave entrainment products are powerful tools for altering your brain function. Some will almost immediately relax you, while others will put your brain waves in a pattern that is most conducive to analytical thinking.

28. Creatine. This is a compound found in meat, used by athletes to help build muscle. Now the evidence is here to show that it helps your brain as well. Proceedings B , a journal published by the Royal Society reports that the research showed improvement in working memory and general intelligence resulting from creatine supplementation. The dose used in the study was 5 grams per day. This is about the level used to boost sports performance, and is as much as you’d normally get in four pounds of meat, according to lead researcher Dr. Caroline Rae.

29. Talk.
Talking is only good for the brain if you are actually exercising it, of course. Try explaining something that you don’t understand very well to a friend, though, and you’ll notice that the process of explaining will help you clarify your understanding.

30. Do something you enjoy.
This is a way to both lower stress and rev up your brain. The key is to do something active. Watching TV doesn’t count. Whether it is playing Scrabble or building birdhouses, when you are actively engaged in an activity that you enjoy, you worry less about things and you start to think better.

31. Adjust your beliefs.
Believe you are smarter, and you’ll become smarter. For this, affirmations may work, but even better is evidence. Make a note of your successes. Tell yourself, “Hey, that was really creative,” when you do something creative. When you have a good idea, make a note of it. Gather the evidence for your own intelligence and you’ll start to experience more of it.

32. Brain exercises.
Do math in your mind while driving. Think of a new use for everything you see. Regular use of the brain has been shown to generate new neuronal growth, and even halt the decline of mental function that often comes with age.

33. Learn new things.
This is another way to exercise the brain. It can also be done with little time investment if you use books-on-tapes while driving.

34. Walk.
Exercise has been shown to benefit the brain, and walking is one of the best exercises for many. It is low impact, and the rhythmic nature of it seems to put you in a state that is very conducive to clear thinking. In fact, carry a tape recorder with you to take notes, and a twenty minute walk can be a great way to solve problems.

35. Model others. Find others that are creative, intelligent, or very productive. Do what they do, and think what they think. This is a key principle of neuro-linguistic programming. Be careful about taking their advice, though. Successful people often don’t really understand why they are successful. Do what they do, not what they say.

36. Eat fish. Eating fish actually speeds up brain waves, and improves concentration. Researchers have also found an almost perfect correlation between intake of fish and lowered levels of depression in the various countries of the world. The U.S. has 24 times the incidence of depression as Japan, for example, where fish intake is much higher.

37. Avoid unnecessary arguments.
When you defend a position too vigorously, especially when it is just to “win” the argument, you invest our ego into it. This is not conducive to the easy acceptance and use of new information. In other words, you put your mind in a rut, and you dig it deeper with each argument. Debate can be a valuable thing, but when the ego takes over, the mind closes a little. This is not a recipe for better thinking.

38. Laugh. The release of endorphins caused by laughter lowers stress levels, which is good for long term brain health. Laughter also tends to leave you more open to new ideas and thoughts.

39. Play. Stimulating the brain causes measurable changes in the structure of the brain. New connections are made and new brain cells are grown. Intellectual play, as well as any playing that involves hand-eye coordination stimulates the brain.

40. Do puzzles. Crossword puzzles, lateral thinking puzzles, and even good riddles are a great way to get brain exercise. You can work on them while waiting for a dentist appointment, or on the bus, if you are short on time.

41. Sing. When you are alone in your car, try singing about something you are working on. This taps into and exercises your right brain. Have you ever noticed how it is easier to rhyme when you sing than when you just speak or write? This is because the right brain is better at pattern recognition. By doing this brain exercise regularly you can train yourself to tap into the power of the right brain. This will make you a more effective problem-solver. If you doubt the distinction between the hemispheres of the brain, look at how stutterers can stop stuttering as soon as they start singing. Try it.

42. Nuts. University students in Brazil and other South American countries often eat several Brazil nuts before an exam, believing they are good for their mental power. The evidence is starting to confirm this. Other nuts that have minerals and amino acids that are beneficial to the brain include almonds and walnuts.

43. Olive oil. High in mono-unsaturated fat, olive oil has been shown to improve memory. A cheaper alternative is canola oil, but this hasn’t been studied much yet.

44. Vitamin supplements.
In studies, children scored higher on tests when on a regimen of daily vitamin supplements. “Experts” will tell you that if you eat a balanced diet, you don’t need supplements, which, given the culture here, is really just a sales pitch for vitamins, isn’t it? Who eats a perfectly balanced diet?

45. Fiber. It isn’t just what goes in, but what comes out that is important to brain function. Toxic build-up in the body and brain can cause “brain fog.” People often report clearer thinking as one of the benefits of curing their constipation.

46. Self awareness. This may not seem important to brain power, but it is. When you know yourself better, you can avoid the usual effects of ego and emotion in your seemingly “rational” thinking. Or you can at least take it into account. Watch yourself, especially as you explain things or argue.

47. Motivate yourself.
Motivation is as important to mental tasks as it is to any other. Learn a few simple techniques for self motivation

48. Avoid too much stress.
Neuropsychiastrist Richard Restak, M.D., form the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Services, sums up the research thus: “Stress causes brain damage.” Long term stress has repeated been shown to hurt the brain, not to mention the rest of the body. Learn a few stress reduction techniques if you get stressed out often.

49. Get educated. Scientists have known for a while that the less educated get alzheimer’s more frequently. Education in any area seems to make the brain stronger.

50. Avoid too much fat. In laboratory studies, animals consistently learn slower when they are on a diet high in fat. Type of fat may make a difference, so you may want to stick to using olive oil and other non-saturated fats. Saturated fats have been shown to actually stunt the growth of brain cells.

51. Eat less. Overeating has the immediate effect of redirecting more blood to the digestive process, leaving less for the brain. Long term, it can cause arterial obstructions that reduce blood flow to the brain permanently. In at least one study, rats on a restricted-calorie diet had more brainpower.

52. Avoid suspect foods. There is evidence that the following foods can be bad for your brain: Artificial food colorings, artificial sweeteners, colas, corn syrup, frostings, high-sugar drinks, hydrogenated fats, sugars, white bread, and any white-flour products.

53. Eat breakfast.
When kids who didn’t eat breakfast started to eat it, researchers found that their math scores went up a whole grade on average.

54. Avoid diabetes. The development of diabetes coincides with a dropping of IQ scores. In other words, if you want to maintain your brain power, follow your doctors dietary recommendations for preventing or treating diabetes.

55. Eat foods high in antioxidants.
Antioxidants protect all your cells, including brain cells. Some of the foods highest in antioxidants include: prunes, raisins, blueberries, blackberries, garlic, kale, cranberries, strawberries, spinach, and raspberries. In one test, rats had age-related mental decline reversed by eating the equivalent of a 1/2 cup of blueberries per day.

56. Drink wine.
In moderation, red wine can be good for the brain, it seems. It is rich in antioxidants, which protect brain cells. One glass per day for women and two for men is usually considered a safe and moderate amount.

57. Use alcohol in moderation. In a study at the University of Indiana School of Medicine, elderly light drinkers (fewer than 4 drinks per week) scored higher on tests of thinking abilities than non-drinkers. Those who drank 10 or more drinks per week scored lower. It is known that alcohol can kill brain cells, so moderation seems to be the key.

58. Folic acid. According to one study, 200 micrograms of folic acid, the amount found in 3/4 cup of cooked spinach, alleviates depression and reverses memory loss.

59. Potential brain foods.
Other foods that may be good for your brain include: Avocados, bananas, lean beef, brewer’s yeast. broccoli, brown rice, brussel sprouts, cantaloupe, cheese, chicken, collard greens, eggs, flaxseed oil, legumes, oatmeal, oranges, peanut butter, peas, potatoes, romaine lettuce, salmon, soybeans, spinach, tuna, turkey, wheat germ, and yogurt.

60. Vitamin E. Jean Carper, in researching her book, “Your Miracle Brain,” found that many brain researchers are taking 400 I.U.s of vitamin E daily. It is an antioxidant, and reduces the clogging of blood vessels, including those going in the brain.

61. Vitamin C. Taken in the form of orange juice in a study at the Texas Women’s University, vitamin C increased the IQ scores of children.

62. Selenium.
100 micrograms of selenium has been shown to be a mood-elevator. Your brain almost certainly functions better when you are in a better mood. Foods rich in selenium include Brazil nuts and garlic.

63. Alpha-lipoic acid. Alpha-lipoic acid (10 to 50 milligrams daily) improves memory and protects nerve cells.

64. Inositol. This is a safe and natural substance that is often grouped with the B-vitamins. It reduces stress and promotes clear thinking. It contributes to energy production, and so can “wake you up.” Animal studies show a measurable increase in physical activity for up to five hours after taking it.

65. Huperzine A.
This is a compound extracted from the Chinese club moss. Researchers both in Israel and the U.S. have used it to treat alzheimer’s. It improves memory and learning an seems to be very safe.

66. Ask questions. This is a great way to keep your brain in shape. Just get in the habit of asking questions often, even if it is only in your own mind. Why are taller buildings better? what is the purpose of curbs? Ask anything that comes to mind, and ponder the possible answers.

67. Sniff basil.
This another of the herbs that may be good for your brain. No studies yet, but many report a brain boost from smelling basil.

68. Temperature.
Many people have noted that they think better at certain temperatures. In general, it seems that being slightly cool, but not uncomfortable, is most conducive to good thinking. Try experimenting on yourself to see what temperature works best for you.

69. Use systems. From the time I was ten years old, 12 x 49 was always (12 x 50) – 12. It’s easier to figure in your head this way (588, by the way). I didn’t get any credit for my personal algorithms then, but they are selling these shortcuts on late-night TV now, because they work. You can find your own easier ways to do mental math or other mental tasks, or read a good book on them.

70. Make a brainpower plan.
It takes about twenty to thirty days of repetition to establish new habits, many psychologists will tell you. This means that when you create your plan for better brainpower, be sure you plan to use that new problem solving technique, or eat those new brain foods for at least three weeks. You can use many of the brain boosters here and get immediate results, but it is creating new habits that will give you the most brainpower.

Self Apprisal – nice story

A little boy went to a telephone booth which was at the cash counter of a store and dialed a number.
The store-owner observed and listened to the conversation:
Boy : “Lady, Can you give me the job of cutting your lawn?
Woman : (at the other end of the phone line) “I already have someone to cut my lawn.”
Boy : “Lady, I will cut your lawn for half the price than the person who cuts your lawn now.”
Woman : I’m very satisfied with the person who is presently cutting my lawn.
Boy : (with more perseverance) “Lady, I’ll even sweep the floor and the stairs of your house for free.
Woman : No, thank you.
With a smile on his face, the little boy replaced the receiver. The store-owner, who was listening to all this, walked over to the boy.
Store Owner : “Son… I like your attitude; I like that positive spirit and would like to offer you a job.”
Boy : “No thanks,
Store Owner : But you were really pleading for one.
Boy : No Sir, I was just checking my performance at the job I already have. I am the one who is working for that lady I was talking to!”
This is called
“Self Appraisal” 

7 Tips For Dealing With Confrontation‏ (Disagreement F2F)

A lot of people cannot handle confrontation and start to shake, they lose control of their voice pitch, and they want to hit out and cannot control their thoughts properly. It can be frustrating when someone is putting us down and you can’t argue back as you have got a touch of confrontation jitters. This is the `flight or fight’ syndrome kicking in and it pumps adrenaline throughout your body in readiness to kick someone’s arse or in readiness to run away from someone you think might kick your arse. It is your body getting prepared.

Here are 7 tips to deal with confrontation:

1.        Take a deep breath just before the confrontation or during it, if necessary. This lowers your heartbeat and blood pressure.

2.       Breathe a little slower, again this lowers your heartbeat and lowers the amount of adrenaline running through your body.

3.       Take 5 minutes, if you can, and quickly rehearse what you are going to say to someone. Make key points of your argument.

4.       Get to know what triggers your anger and prepare a new response to that trigger. By doing this you are aware of the buttons people can push to elicit a certain response – When you know your own triggers it less likely that someone can push the buttons as you are prepared.

5.       Make the person aware of how confrontational they are being – Saying something like `why are you shouting at me?’, `Why are you being so aggressive’. This turns the energy back on the person and lets them look at themselves for a minute, this might calm them down as a lot of people get lost in the moment and don’t realise they are being aggressive.

6.       Another way is to turn all the attention back on the person you are arguing with. `You seem really angry about that!’; `You look as if you’re really pissed off?’ Again this can have the same affect of point 5.

7.       Don’t get sucked into their arguments. The purpose of an argument is to manipulate you into losing the argument thereby showing the other person they have won and they are superior. If you don’t get sucked in there is no argument to win, and you come out looking the better person.

If all else fails, the nose is a good place to hit first which can temporarily blind them with tears.

10 Things To Say To Keep The Peace‏

So many big arguments begin with small comments. How many times have you started a conversation on friendly terms, and then wound up in some kind of dispute that you didn’t anticipate? 

In my work as a family, divorce, and small-claims mediator, I’ve seen countless offhand remarks start a fight or add fuel to an existing fire. And I have found myself in plenty of situations where I’ve wanted to give someone (my husband, a colleague) what I thought was helpful advice only to inadvertently offend him or her.

The holidays, with all their extended-family gatherings, can be a verbal minefield. You’re either dodging nosy questions from some tactless relative over dinner (“Still dieting then?”) or taking out the stress of all that extra cooking and shopping on those dearest to you (“Do I have to do everything around here?”).

It doesn’t have to be that bad. Use these 10 go-to phrases to defuse potentially volatile conversations and help you get through the coming weeks and the months and years to follow in harmony.

1. “Thank you for your opinion. I’ll think about it. “When you receive unsolicited advice at a family gathering, such as Aunt Sylvia’s suggestion that you change your hairstyle, just smile and respond with this casual conversation terminator. If you’re rudely asked a question like “Are you still single?” don’t reply with a lengthy excuse. Say, “Yes, and I’ll let you know if anything changes.” The goal is to be polite and end the conversation. There is no need to be defensive or rude.

2. “Is this a good time for you?” Whenever I want my husband’s full attention for a conversation and I don’t want to compete with a football game on TV, I ask this simple question. If he gives me a green light by saying yes (and turning off the game), I proceed. If he says no, I ask, “When would be a better time?” We then agree on another time and a fight is avoided. Consider using this line at work, too. Your boss and coworkers

3. “Would you like my thoughts?” One of the biggest complaints kids have about parents is that they constantly issue orders and judgments. Sometimes this is a parent’s job. But if you are often confronted with an angry response (“Who made you the authority?” or “It’s none of your business”), you might benefit from dialing back. Ask your child if she wants to hear what you have to say. If she says yes, it means she is ready to listen. If she says no, then button your lip. This works for adult family members, too. 

4. “Why don’t we get the facts?” Some people who come to mediation tend to argue about anything and everything, including things that can be easily resolved. If you find yourself in a dispute with your brother about the price of a car or the name of the restaurant you went to over the holidays last year, state this one-liner, then look up prices online, call a store, or drive by the restaurant not so one of you can say, “I told you so,” but so you can move on from the discussion before it spirals into a fight.

5. “I need your help. Can you please…?” People often ask me what they can say to family members or coworkers who don’t assume their share of responsibility. Here’s my simple tip: Rather than accusing the person of being lazy or inconsiderate, ask her for what you want and be specific. “Since we both drink coffee, how about if I make the pot and you clean it, or vice versa?” People are not mind readers.

6. “Let’s wait on this until we have more information”. Know when to table a discussion. One couple came to me with a dispute that had turned into a huge problem for them: They were constantly arguing over whether they should stay in their city apartment or move to a house in the suburbs. The issue wasn’t which choice they should make (they had already agreed they wouldn’t move for three years, or until their oldest child reached school age); it was that they were having a premature argument. At times like these, it’s important to remind yourself and your conversation partner that it’s too early to discuss the issue. Preferences will change over time, as will facts, such as home prices. 

7. “What did you mean by that?” Sometimes asking the right question is all it takes to avoid an argument. We all make assumptions about other people’s intentions. Asked in a genuinely interested (and not passive-aggressive) way, this question allows your conversation partner to explain himself before you jump to conclusions. Only then should you offer your response. 

8. “I don’t like that, so why don’t we do this instead?” This is how to complain with impact. Rather than nagging your mate about a problem, focus on finding a solution for the future. For example, instead of moaning about buying all the holiday gifts, suggest that he shop for the men in the family and you buy for the women or split some other duties.

9. “I’m sorry you’re upset.” When you find yourself frustrated with a friend or a close family member who didn’t take your advice, you desperately want to say something like “I told you so” or “That was a dumb thing to do.” Don’t. Dishing out criticism won’t change a thing. A compassionate response will help you both move forward.

10. “Let me get back to you.” Everyone needs a prepared comment to delay a response when he or she is put on the spot. For example, a cousin suggests you prepare a main course for her potluck Christmas party for 20 people or the president of the PTA picks you to head a committee for a year. Keep this line handy at all times, especially during the holiday season. If you don’t want the person to feel as if she is being dismissed, give her a time when she can expect a response: “Let me get back to you by tomorrow afternoon.” And then make sure that you do. 

[Written By: Laurie Puhn] 

Make Your Child Financial Literate‏

If you want your children to inherit true wealth, make them financially literate.

I like this quote by American columnist Bob Talbert: “Teaching kids to count is fine but teaching them what counts is best.” The quote is pithy but it gets to the core of teaching fiscal responsibility.

What Parents Forget

If you look around, parents and teachers focus a lot on teaching mathematics—they send kids to Vedic Maths and Abacus classes to enable them to have numbers at their fingertips from a young age.

Parents also enroll their kids in drama, dance, singing, karate and other classes. But how many of us actually remember that when our kids enter the real world, the first thing they will confront is money?

Amidst all the classes, we forget an important life skill—financial literacy. Many of us probably pay our children pocket money but we don’t realise that this is not teaching them about the value of money or how to manage it. Some schools touch upon economics or basic finance courses, however, no school is equipped to analytically teach financial literacy to your kids.

What Exactly Is Financial Literacy?

It means understanding:

·         Income, expenses and savings

·         Budgets

·         Assets—real and financial—and liabilities

·         Risk management, insurance and its purpose

·         Investments and how to make money work for you

·         Taxation

·         How to handle situations such as disability, starting a business, inheritance

·         Wills, trusts, and intergenerational wealth transfer.

Money Lessons At Home

Most parents might touch on the concept of piggy banks and savings early on, but are usually reluctant to discuss the topic of money and family finances with their children.

In the Indian context, money is a touchy issue and in terms of discussing sensitive topics, ranks as high as sex education. Thus, it’s not surprising that most parents are loath to discussing it.

The Earlier The Better

The best way to teach kids about money is to let them deal with money early on. This is because as kids grow into teenagers they develop strong habits, which become hardwired because of peer pressure and the external environment.

This particularly happens beyond the 6th grade, when children face severe peer pressure. They want to buy gadgets, branded clothes and do many things that their friends are doing. Telling them to act sensibly and responsibly at this age might be a tall order if you have not inculcated good habits early on.

They need to understand the power of money and the consequences of their decisions. It’s far better that they commit mistakes at a young age with smaller amounts than commit financial blunders when they grow up. They will thus experience handling their own money and making decisions around it. I believe this is a strong competitive edge that you can give your children for their future financial success.

When’s A Good Time?

In my experience, kids between the age of 5 and 12 are receptive to financial literacy. Hence, it is best to start between 5 – 12 years of age. This is not to say that children above 12 do not appreciate financial literacy.

They certainly do, when the content is interesting, but it takes a little more time for them to understand the importance because they develop certain habits and are consumers by then. There will be constant demands, or emotional blackmail that most parents will be exposed to at some point of time.

You must understand that it’s natural for them to sometimes behave like this and is a part of growing up. The best part is that you can still teach them to be savvy savers, spenders, investors and givers.

Money Lessons For Kids

Common sense and some practical ideas is all you need to have to start teaching your children about money. The key learning points for kids should be:

·         Having healthy values about money

·         Setting goals and priorities

·         Thinking and making prudent choices

·         Not living for the weekend: delay instant gratification

·         Understanding the virtues of hard work.

The `How’ Part

There are often many real-life situations when you can teach your kids about money, considering that money is an integral part of our daily life.

·         Any time: Whenever you buy groceries or petrol or even pay school fees, you can teach children. If you have taken your son to an ATM, and he insists on pressing all the buttons like most kids, take this opportunity to discuss a few points about ATMs.

·         Special time: You can always set aside time to teach them the basics of money management. If you cannot, then you must seek professional help. It is far better to spend some money on financial education than allowing your children to develop irresponsible and dangerous money attitudes, behaviours and habits.

Finally, it is the parents’ responsibility to control what children buy and how much they spend. If parents fail in this critical test, no amount of money will be enough for their kids to spend when they grow up. We must realise that it is our mistake when we rush off to dress them in so-called designer outfits or spend several lakhs or thousands on their birthday parties without giving an iota of thought on the impact this has on the children’s minds.

Don’t forget that even though you might not be teaching your kids directly, they are constantly learning by just observing you.

[Written by: Mr. Amar Pandit]

5 Simple Tips to Reduce Air Conditioning Running Costs‏

1) Set a Comfortable Temperature at 24Deg C- & use sleep mode in the night to get the comfortable cooling as per body, we need less cooling in the night( In manual system Don’t set the temperature at the coolest because the compressor will never turn off and this will cost you money. To get the comfortable temp.turn the AC on with coldest setting on thermostat , when you feel comfort temp cut of the AC compressor through thermostat, it will reduce the power consumption.
2) Have Refrigerant Levels Tested – ( Complusory servicing to be done before summer starts & one before rainy season & last service at the end of season to save corrosion in side the units body) through company service center. They can test your system to determine if you have a refrigerant leak., motors noise, viberation in indoor unit of split AC & anti Viberation pads of Compressor. If required always use genuine spare parts to lower breakdownd & power bill. Install a good quality Voltage stabilizer to get the necessary Voltage & reduce your electricity bill. Dont Install under capacity machine it will save your initial cost , but increase your electricity bill in summer.
3) Seal Off Any Droughts – Droughts and gusts of wind can really cool down your home when your trying to warm it up in winter. Drought stoppers and sealing cracks can reduce these droughts which will keep the warmth in and reduce your heating bills substantially.
4) Learn How To Use Your System – If you are not entirely sure how to use your air conditioning system, you are probably using it wrong. Speak with an air conditioning contractor for some good advice on how to run your air conditioner.
5) Clean Filters & Ducts -Finally, give your ducts and filters a quick clean. It is the simplest thing to do to get your hvac system to run better again. ( People in India are not very well educated towards their health, duct cleaning is still a neglected part in HVAC industry. Only few MNC’s are intrested in duct cleaning. We cannot reduce electricity cost with duct cleaning, but it will help to reduce lot of Air borne deceases, yes filter cleaning will help to cut the power tarrif and increase the AC units life.)