3 Simple Tips to Start Saving

Lately, the topic of saving money has been on my mind more than usual. It’s probably because I realized the money I am spending on clothing, home decorations and other such things, could be spent on experiences that would contribute to my development as a person, as opposed to things. Equally important, I should start saving up for the future.

money-515058_1920.jpg
Via Pixabay

Here are some of the techniques I’ve been using the past few weeks. I just love how simple, yet effective they are:

1) Create, Don’t Buy

I love decorating my home. I love getting stuff that speaks to my heart, and which makes my home…a little homier. Nevertheless, home decor can get pretty expensive, and I don’t want to leave my wallet bleeding to make my heart smile.

The solution? DIY projects

There are two main benefits to doing this: first of all, you save money, which is what this post is all about. Second, you recycle, thus helping the environment. You can easily change up a few old objects around your home, giving them a new look and a new life. Plus, you can reduce waste by using some of the stuff you’d normally throw out. Something I’ve been doing is creating pretty containers from used cans. Another thing that I love to do is find out new ways of reusing plastic bottles.

Here are two lovely articles on re-using bottles and cans:
http://homesthetics.net/23-insanely-creative-ways-to-recycle-plastic-bottles-into-diy-projects/
http://www.diyncrafts.com/17424/repurpose/50-jaw-dropping-ideas-for-upcycling-tin-cans-into-beautiful-household-items/2

 

 2) Get Rid of Stuff You Don’t Use

It’s easy to get attached to stuff, and refuse to get it out of your home, even well after you’ve stopped using it. Here’s the thing though: you could be making money off it! So, be a little heartless with your objects and real with yourself: what will you probably never use again? Take them all out, and sort them: keep what you can transform through DIY into usable things, and sell the rest. This way, instead of collecting dust, your stuff could be bringing you money.

 

3) Don’t Be Afraid to Buy Used Things

Yup, buying stuff doesn’t have to leave your wallet empty. If there’s something that you need, try to think if you can buy it used. Clothing and furniture are just two examples of what you don’t need to buy new.

 

These tips are pretty simple, but in the long run, they could really save you quite a bit of money. Plus, you won’t be hurting the environment as much, which is equally satisfying.

Have fun saving!

/Larisa

 

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Taking a Break, and Why It’s Important

Via pixabay
Via pixabay

So…it’s Sunday Fun Day, right?

Oh hahah! Just kidding! There’s no such thing for a student. Sunday is usually Study Day. As is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…you get the point.

However, you can’t just study constantly, because that would probably be the best recipe for insanity. Some breaks are required, so that you brain can take a breather, and so, when you’ll come back to your notes, you’ll be fresh and ready to take more information in.

It’s what I do, anyway, and when I manage to do it right, it’s quite effective. However, this doesn’t happen all the time. Why? Well, because whenever I take a break, the time seems to miraculously flow by, and when I look at the clock to see how much longer I can enjoy my break, I nearly always seem to find out that my break is already over…and then some.

I thought about just skipping the whole break thing, but then I realized that I shouldn’t, because I treasure my sanity. Plus, breaks have amazing benefits, in addition to the ones i just mentioned. For example,

1)Helps you remain focused when you get back to work.

2)Keeps you more energetic throughout the day.

3)Refreshes your memory.

4)Takes the stress levels down.

5)Improves creativity.

With all these reasons to take a break, who would refuse to do it? Not me, that’s for sure! However, it is important to keep in mind that not all breaks are created equal. That is, there are breaks that are effective, and others that are…not so effective.

For instance, if you take a break from your work, only to start…say, studying. That’s not a real break, and you shouldn’t expect much results from that.

Instead, what you could do is:

1) Eat. Just eat; don’t do anything else.

2)Listen to music, preferably relaxing music,

3)Meditate.

4) Take a short (about 15-20 mins) nap.

5)Go for a walk in nature.

6)Go for a run.

Do you have a favorite way of spending your breaks? Mine is listening to music 🙂

/Larisa

How NOT to Study …and What You Should Do Instead

Via Deviantart.net

So here’s the deal. I’m supposed to be studying, but for some reason, all I want to do is write. Ha! I said “for some reason”, as if I didn’t know what that reason was. But I do. Over the years, writing has become my favorite thing to do, particularly at a time when stress is running high like now. You see, I’ve entered exam season. In case you’re not familiar with this 5th season, it’s a time when the world outside just stops existing, and all that is left is the simple act of studying.

That’s how it’s supposed to be, at least, but let’s be honest: nothing is ever the way it’s supposed to be. Thing is, the world has a way of re-appearing from time to time, and just distracting the students, who are completely helpless in front of its evil workings. What a jerk.

Ok, now, enough with the jokes. Let’s get serious, or at least try to. “The world” shouldn’t take the blame for offering small distractions. Instead, the student should not accept those distractions.

But man, is it hard! After months of being a good student, and concentrating on studying, my mind just sort of …leaps forward. Both my mind and I want summer, and the break it brings with it. It’s so close I can almost touch it!

 here’s how not to study:

1. Don’t sit with your computer/laptop/Ipad/phone on top of your notes, and fool yourself into thinking that’s studying. It ain’t. Unless, of course, you need your computer/laptop/Ipad/phone for studying. But then all other windows or applications should be off, so as not to tempt you.

2. If your “breaks” are longer than your studying periods, they’re not breaks. Take it for what it is, and tell people you’re catching up with the internet, and when it bores you, you study for five minutes. Then of course, you realize reading is much more boring than staring at your laptop’s screen, so you go back to doing that.

3. Learning won’t happen while you’re singing along to whatever song you’ve just found. First of all, how on earth did you just discover a new song while studying? And secondly, either turn that music off or change it to something with no lyrics. Unless, of course, they’re going to be asking you on the exam about the words in that song. If that’s so, continue…

4. Staring at a blank wall isn’t studying either. It’s just staring at a blank wall. In fact, it’s much the same as staring at a computer screen, without the strain on the eye.

5. Complaining about all the studying you have to do won’t get you bonus points. In fact, it might get you negative social points, because all you’re doing is pissing everyone on social media off with your “suffering”. The people who don’t have to study won’t feel your pain, and the ones that do have to study, are probably studying. Note that this act does not involve social media whatsoever, so the only group of people who could possibly understand what you’re going through won’t read your updates.

Via staticflickr.com

What You Should Do Instead

I have, however, found a method of studying that doesn’t make me want to throw everything in the garbage and run away. Well, it does still involve some self control, but that’s not all.

1. Take short breaks every 20 to 30 minutes. Did you see what I did there? I said “short” breaks, which by definition don’t exceed 10 minutes in length. This way, your brain won’t get exhausted with all the info it has to absorb.

2. Think of how you can apply the knowledge you’re learning in real life situations. This will motivate you to study, and it might just make it…dare I say?…fun!

3.Turn that damn computer off. And any other device that might be tempting you. Seriously, do it.

4. Don’t eat like it’s not your own body that will suffer the consequences. Your brain needs healthy food to work properly. Help it.

5. De-stress. Exams are stressful, but you shouldn’t let yourself be constantly stressed. Do something that calms you down. As you might have figured by now, writing is how I relax. Also drinking a cup of tea seems to help. As for you, find whatever it is that calms you down, and do it.

 

Now you know what doesn’t work, so you won’t have any excuse to continue doing it. Although something tells me you don’t really need any excuses. Well, if you’re feeling adventurous, try doing the five things I recommended, and you might just be surprised with the results 🙂

Have fun studying!

/Larisa

Going to a Party this Christmas? Here are 5 Tips that Will Make You Look Powerful and Confident

Christmas lights on Aleksanterinkatu.
Christmas lights on Aleksanterinkatu. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, the Holiday Season is here. Finally! With it, come countless of parties you have to attend, all of which are starting to make you nervous. If that is the case (or if you just want to learn about how to look powerful), keep on reading! The tips presented here are meant to help you look powerful and in control of the situation. (They will also come in handy in a variety of other life circumstances)

Funny thing about power: you don’t have to actually have it, you just have to look the part. So how can you do that?

1)      Start by Making Sure You Look Good

And by that, I don’t mean you have to go all out and start wearing formal suits or dresses 24/7. Simply make sure that you are well-groomed and wearing clothes that suit you well. If your appearance is sloppy, the tips that are coming up might not have the desired effect.

 2)       Don’t Slouch! Your Posture Invites Different Types of Responses

Slouching is like screaming out to the people around you that you have no confidence. I will push it a little further (though not unrealistically), and say that when you appear to have no confidence, you will get less respect from the people around you. So slouching -> (possibly) less respect.

Not good. Not good. Instead of that, start standing straight. Your back will thank you, and so will your self –esteem, which will be heightened after seeing how much better you are treated.

3)      Smile More Often

Now, don’t overdo it, as you might give off the impression that you are being insincere, impolite,  or just not very gifted, mentally speaking. It can also make you appear exactly the opposite of what you want, as smiling too often is typically seen in people who are dependent on others’ approval. However, if you manage to hit the right amount, you will give off the impression of being more pleasant than you would if you were to keep a straight face.

Smiling just enough isn’t that hard, once you’ve got the hang of it. Look for clues in the conversation, such as when someone is telling you something they think is really exciting and overall awesome. Smiling will make that person want to go on, labeling you a pleasant person in the process.

Do you know what pleasant people have in common with powerful people? Most powerful people are pleasant people! As surprising as that may sound, it is true. If how charming and easy-going political candidates appear to be doesn’t play a role in power, then why are all of them so concerned about keeping up appearances and making themselves look super nice?

4)      Say what’s on Your Mind

Have you noticed that powerful people don’t wait for others to ask them to tell them their opinion? Instead, they give their opinion. Why? Because they value their own thoughts and opinions so much that they believe others simply must hear them too. That’s what confidence does, and despite the fact that it might be annoying sometimes, it actually works.

5)      Connect with the People around You

English: A glass of port wine. Français : Un v...
English: A glass of port wine. Français : Un verre de Porto. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Connection can be established in a number of ways. Smiling, which I just discussed above, is one of them. Shaking hands is another. Yet another one is making sure that there is no object between you and the person you are talking to.

I talked about placing objects between the person one is talking to in my lying-detection post. However, objects placed between two individuals don’t always signal dishonest behavior. It may just be a way of distancing oneself from the other person, due to shyness, perhaps.

Make sure you avoid it as much as possible. Keep in mind that a glass of wine can also count as an object between you and the other person. While you can’t grab the glass out of the other person’s hand if they happen to keep holding it between you two, you can make sure that you are not holding your glass like that either.

So…why does power, or rather, the appearance of power, matter so much? I’m not sure myself, but I believe it has to do with the fact that someone who looks powerful appears to others as a leader. If you had the choice between spending your time with a leader or a follower, wouldn’t you choose to spend it with a leader? Perhaps you may think you wouldn’t, but you might be wrong. We are programmed to want to be around leaders, because a good leader means more chances of survival in the wilderness. Though consciously we may have gotten pass that, somewhere deep down we still continue to think that way.

So, have you had any instances that made you think of just how much the appearance of power matters? Or have you any suggestions for why appearing to have power matters so much to us?

Leave your thoughts in the comments! I always love reading them 🙂

Before I go, I just want to wish you a Merry Christmas! Enjoy those parties and don’t forget to put these tips to good use.

/Larisa

Want to Know when You’re Being Lied to? Here Are Some Tips

 

In a society where it seems we don’t consider truth to be of the utmost importance, being able to tell when someone is lying to you is a crucial skill. There are people to whom this skill comes naturally, and so they do not need to actively force themselves to notice the signs of untruthfulness. For the rest, this skill can be fostered, and if it is practiced enough, it will become second-nature eventually.

1)      Be Wary of Speech Changes, such as an Increase in the Number of Words Used

If you are talking to someone, and you notice that they start giving you lots and lots of unnecessary details, then that might be a sign you’re not getting the real story. Why? Many times, liars tend to rehearse the story they will tell you, and add in many details that are beside the point, simply to make the lie sound more real.

Confusingly enough, some liars may fall in the other extreme, which is not giving enough details. This tends to particularly happen when they’re lying by not revealing the entire truth. In an effort to ensure that they’re not giving away the details they want to remain secret, they will also skip on other, mundane details.

2)      Change in Temperament

If you have asked a question, and you notice the person is becoming offensive, you might be lied to. How does that work? When someone is lying, they will undoubtedly want to turn the spot light from them to you. They’ll probably start accusing you of doing things that are irrelevant to what you’re discussing. That’s a BIG red flag.

Usually, when someone is being truthful with you, they will feel hurt after having been accused unjustly. They might get angry too, after a while of being constantly accused under false pretenses. But they usually don’t respond with anger right off the bat.

3)      Is the Person’s Posture Compatible with Their Words?

If not, then it might be a sign of untruthfulness. What does honest body language look like? Well, for starters, the gestures are reflected by what is being said, and vice versa. Actually, usually speech comes after gestures, which means that if someone is saying “I am being honest”, and placing their hand on their heart after having said that, they’re simply acting out their gestures to interpret their language. Badly so.

If they’re telling you they’re sad, but their posture screams confidence, then you can assume that they are not telling you what’s really on their mind. How does a “sad” posture look like? It’s hunched over. Confidence is usually seen through a straight posture.

4)      Are They Acting Like They’re Trying to Hide?

Attempting to hide themselves from you can take many forms. The most typical one is by placing an object between the two of you. This is usually done without conscious command, which means that the person doing it does not even realise it. However, placing an object between you and them gives them the illusion of being safe from the truth-digging you are doing.

Another form of hiding comes back at body language. If they are crossing their arms, or keeping their body turned away from you, it’s a sign they’re uncomfortable with the situation, and they’d like to be out of it.

The Caveat…

These tips are pretty sweet, huh? Now you can just memorize them and BAM! You’re going to be the best human lie-detector ever. Well, that’s not true.

As with many things in life, lying is complicated and cannot be efficiently covered in one page or so of writing. There are good liars out there, and terribly bad ones as well. The latter are easier to identify, but the former? Not so much… Perhaps they are good actors, or have simply trained themselves to evade the signs of lying, meaning that just by using the tips above you will not be able to find the liars that are well trained.

Just as lying is complicated, so is the truth. The one advantage with the truth is that it does not put a tremendous mental strain on you when you’re telling it. What does that mean? Sometimes people may appear to be lying, when they are actually telling the truth. That can happen especially in cases where you have just asked them an embarrassing question. In fact, with this case, they might display all the things I listed above, though they are not lying.

Why Do People Lie?

Even if you are in absolutely certain that someone is lying, you should still take a minute to assess the reasons they might be doing it. This is hard, particularly when your ego is at stake, since you have the power to show that person just how much smarter you are than they originally believed.

However, take a step back and consider:

1)      Some people just really hate confrontations. So much, in fact, that they are ready to lie in order to avoid it.

2)      Some are lying to avoid hurting you.

3)      Others are lying to save themselves from being hurt.

And, of course, there are bad reasons:

4)      They might be lying to make themselves appear to be better than they really are. This goes both for the outside world and for themselves.

5)      They are trying to make you act a certain way, which will benefit them.

Knowing why you are being lied to helps in deciding what action you are going to take. Perhaps you might not want to deal with someone who is lying to make you feel better in the same manner as with someone who is trying to get you to do something.

That’s about it for today! Do you know of any other signs that show people might be lying? Let’s discuss them in the comments!

/Larisa

Tips on Improving Your Memory

This post is a follow-up of “Matters of the Mind: “How to Be a Mentalist: Master the Secrets Behind the Hit TV Show”, by Simon Winthrop”. Since I am expanding upon the second lesson I discussed, Improve Your Memory, you will find some tips on how to do that. The first two are more general things you should do to improve the health of your brain, and the last is broken down into a variety of practical strategies that help you memorize information.  

Sun and Flowers on a Cold Day

As I am writing this post, I am surrounded by the beautiful, strong scent of a small bouquet of lilies. Together with the rays of the sun entering through the large windows, they make the perfect distraction for the winter that’s outside. In fact, I have to keep reminding myself that the temperature outside is below zero degrees Celsius.

But now on to the topic of the post, which is one I am very excited about, simply because of its practicality. We all hope to have a great memory, and some of us seem to have it come to them naturally. But what about the rest of us (and yes, I’m including myself in the group)? Well, we can exercise our way to an improved capacity of recalling! Here are some tips:

1)      Do Physical Exercise

When I said that we would need to exercise our way to a good memory, I meant it; both figuratively and literally. Engaging in physical exercise is helpful on so many fronts that it should be done as often as possible. Now there’s another reason to do it: it helps your mind work better!

Exercising prevents a variety of mental disorders, because it increases blow flow in the brain. Increased blood flow in the brain also results in a better ability to learn and remember. And the best part? It doesn’t require you to pay for expensive therapy treatments. Read more about a study on how exercising improves memory here.

2)      Don’t Stress it

That’s easy enough to say, and terribly complicated to achieve. So let’s break it down into things you can do to reduce the stress. Exercising, which I talked about above, is one thing that can help take the edge off. But there’s more you can do.

First, get your sleep. Not any kind of sleep, but one that is good and enough. Sleep helps you function at your best, and reduces the likelihood of you getting stressed at pointless things. Memory is also consolidated while you sleep, which is why you shouldn’t skip it.

Start relaxing. You can do that in a number of ways. For example, you may choose to take a long bath, watch your favorite TV show, or read a book. Another way, which is most effective for the majority of people, is meditating. It has been proven that it helps those who do it on a regular basis concentrate, learn, feel happier, and reduce stress.

3)      Make the Most Out of Mnemonic Devices

Now, let’s see what are the things you can do to help you memorize easier:

a)      Memory Palace

This is talked about in “How to Be a Mentalist”, because it shows up on the show quite a few times. Basically, the trick here is using a place (a room, a house, a road) that you are extremely familiar with. Then, break down the things you have to remember into parts, and place them in sections of your memory palace. When you’re trying to remember what you have to do, imagine yourself taking a walk through your “palace”, and hopefully, the images you planted there will pop out.

b)      Visualize it

Pain vivid images in your mind that are related to what you have to remember. Do a good job at it, and make those images as complex and as beautiful as possible, because it will increase your chances of remembering. A concrete, but simplified example of that can be used when learning someone’s name for the first time: Imagine that their name is written in clear letters on their forehead, and see where that gets you.

c)       Rhymify

That’s not an actual word, but I sort of like it. Anyway, have you ever wondered why nursery songs rhyme? Besides making them sound pleasant, rhyming also helps people remember things easier. Start making rhymes up for what you have to remember, and chances are, you’ll get better at it (both at making rhymes and at remembering).

d)      Group things together

Breaking things down into parts and attempting to memorize them that way is much easier than trying to remember an entire long and complicated list. We already do it a lot when it comes to phone numbers, so why not bring that into other aspects as well?

e)      Acronyms

Yes, they can be a great way to sort things and make them easier to remember. The reason is that they make you reduce information down to a few letters that will trigger recall.

Lily

That’s about it for today. I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed making it. When it comes to trying to remember and memorize things, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you should engage with the needed information as much as possible. Repeating it may be useful, but try taking it a step further by implementing some of the devices I outlined above.

/Larisa